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Conspirators; or, delegates in council.

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Conspirators; or, delegates in council.
  • Description

    Three Ministers sit at a council table on which is a large green bag, from which docketed papers project; the bag has folds making it resemble a grotesquely sly face. With them are three ruffianly looking agents or spies. On the extreme left sits Sidmouth in profile to the right; thin, elderly, and angular, his hands resting on a tall cane; his queue terminates in a clyster-pipe instead of a bag (cf. No. 9849). Opposite him sits Thomas Reynolds, indicated by a paper beside him: 'Reynolds Ireland'. He shows Sidmouth a paper: 'List of Victims in Ireland'. Beside him is a bag inscribed 'Blood Money'. At the opposite end of the table sits Castlereagh, also very thin but elegant and fashionable; he sits forward his hands on his crossed knees, holding a paper 'To Mr Reynolds', the name scored through but just legible. On his right hand is Canning, who covertly points to two ruffians, one on each side of the table, saying, "Don't you think my Lord that our friends, Castle & Oliver should be sent to Lisbon or somewhere as Consul Generals, or Envoys?" Castlereagh answers: "Can't you negotiate for some boroughs—" The two men, who grin expectantly, are indicated by papers addressed respectively to 'Oliver Leeds' and 'Castle Spafields'; in the latter's hat is a bundle of 'Forged notes' (see No. 12885). Papers in the green bag are docketed: 'An Oath to be Proposed to the distressed'; 'Plan for the Attack on the Regents Carraige' [see No. 12864]; 'Treasonable papers to be sliped into the pockets of some duped artisans'; 'Plans for a General Row'. On the table: 'Toast to be given in the Company of moderate men & then Swear they drank them' [Castle's evidence]; 'Every means to be taken to implicate Sr F. Burdett Ld Cochrane & —'. On the floor beside Sidmouth: 'Instructions for Entrapg the poor & needy', and 'under santion [sic] of Government'. Beside Castlereagh lie flags and favours labelled 'Tricolord Flags &c &c for Spa Fields', with a stuffed stocking (see No. 12868) labelled: 'A Waggon Load of Ammunition!!! Vide Mr Cannings Speech in ye House of Coms'. Through a window on the extreme right, and just behind Castlereagh, John Bull, registering horror, gazes into the room; he exclaims: "Oh! Oh I have found out the Conspirators at last, poor Starving John is to be enslaved into Criminal acts & then the Projectors & perpetrators are brought forward as principal evidences! This is another Vaughan, Brock & Pelham business, and I suppose they are to be made Consuls too, the high road to Ld Castlereigh's particular favor—Canning travelled it."
    1 July 1817.
    Hand-coloured etching.


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1817
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 253 millimetres
    • Width: 355 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title, text within image, and publication line 'Pubd July 1st 1817 by S W Fores No 50 Piccadilly'.
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
    A satire on the employment of spies by the Government to obtain information on unrest in industrial districts, based on debates in Parliament in June, and on the trial of James Watson for high treason (9-16 June). Watson was acquitted because the chief evidence was that of an accomplice of infamous character, John Castle or Castles, who had acted as an agent provocateur, see No. 12885. Oliver, also an agent provocateur, was a paid spy who toured the industrial districts, pretending to be a delegate from a revolutionary body in London. He was exposed in an article in the 'Leeds Mercury' of 14 June (styling him 'a green bag maker'), read by Burdett to the House on 16 June; Burdett then accused the Government of hiring people to excite sedition. He instanced Thomas Reynolds as 'a notorious spy' pensioned by the Government, who had been one of the Grand Jury in Watson's case. On 19 June Burdett again attacked Castlereagh: 'If justice were done, the Noble Lord and his allies, Castles Oliver and the rest, ought to be punished for that which had proved to be the only conspiracy, a conspiracy against the security and happiness of the subjects of this kingdom. . . . He wished to know if Oliver had been authorized ... to use his (Sir F. Burdett's) name.' 'Examiner', 1817, p. 391 (toned down in 'Parl. Deb.'). Reynolds, a United Irishman, revealed the designs of the 'Directory' in Dublin in 1798, see No. 9228, &c., causing their arrest. He was pensioned, and in 1810 was appointed postmaster in Lisbon, returning to England in 1814. He had recently been appointed consul-general in Malta ('Parl. Deb.' xxxvi. 1020, 16 June; according to the 'D.N.B.' in Iceland, eventually leaving for Copenhagen). The papers delivered to the second Secret Committee, were (as before, see No. 12868) in a green bag. For Canning and Lisbon see No. 12872; for Castlereagh and boroughs, No. 11581 [5]. For Vaughan, &c., see No. 12985. For Oliver see also J. L. Hammond, 'The Skilled Labourer', 1919, pp. 341 ff.; F. 0. Darvall, 'Popular Disturbances . . . in Regency England', 1934, ch. xiv; for Castle, 'State Trials', xxxii. 65 ff.; see also 'New Ann. Reg.', 1817, pp. 297-306. 'The Delegates in Council . . .' (No. 9021) is a print by I. Cruikshank on the Naval Mutiny of 1797, and a sardonic comparison with that crisis is perhaps intended. See Nos. 12888, 12994, 13001. Cf. No. 12819.
    Reid, No. 679. Cohn, No. 1012.


  • Bibliography

    • Cohn 1924 1012 bibliographic details
    • BM Satires 12887 bibliographic details
    • Reid 1871 679 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XIXc Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 1 July 1817.  Hand-coloured etching.


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 1 July 1817. Hand-coloured etching.

Image description



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