- Museum number
- Object: The Committee; or Popery in Masquerade
Broadside satire against non-conformists: A. in an upper room, top left, a conference of the Cabal (Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, Lauderdale) from which a ray of light shines down on the table in the centre of the print, and a ribbon, lettered "Root and Branch", extends to shake hands with another, lettered "Wee'll be true to you", which extends from the mouth of B. "Little Isaac" (Pennington) who looks out from a window at top right; beside him is C. a diminutive Pope who says "Courage mes enfans". In the centre, D., is a table, around which sit a committee of men representing Protestant sects (from left to right: [Lodowicke] Muggleton, a Ranter, a Quaker, an Anabaptist, a Presbyterian taking the chair, an Independent, a Fifth Monarchist, [James] Nailor and a naked Adamite) united by a ribbon over their heads which reads "Behold wee are a covenanting people"; the table is strewn with a number of papers on which are written "Church and Crown Lands", "Sequestrations", "Remonstrainces", "Petitions", "Court of Justice" and "Humiliation"; to the right a sheet fixed to the wall is lettered 'A solemn league and covenant ...'. Two pairs of petitioners, E., address the committee: on the left, a woman ("Elder's Mayd") saying "No Service Book" with a copy of "The Protestant Tutor" at her waist, is hand in hand with a dog ("Swash") saying "No Bishops"; on the right, is "The Colchester Wedding", a man saying "No Popish Lords" arm in arm with a mare saying "No Evill Councillors". Between the petitioners, F., the secretary to the committee (perhaps intended as Henry Care) is seated at a small table writing on a paper in an illiterate fashion; on his table is a monkey, a pipe and a broken pot. On the ground in the centre foreground is a pile of books, "Magna Carta", "Biblia Sacra", "Councills", "Laud against Fisher", "Hooker". At lower left, G., a group of men carrying clubs, banners lettered "Liberty Property", "Religion" "A Thorough Reformation", and bishop's mitre on a pole; in front of them, a poorly dressed man, holding the royal crown, leads [Sir Richard] Gurney, Viscount Stafford and Archbishop Laud in chains; on the ground lie a sceptre, an orb and a bust of Charles I. At lower right, H., a woman holds the head of a seated clergyman while he vomits up "Canons", "Common Prayer", "Surplice", "Apocrypha", "+ in Baptism"; pinned to his chest is a sign reading "Sequestered Livings" and to his left is, I., an open close stool from which little imps climb; on the wall behind him, partly concealed by curtains, are shelves with books lettered "Excise", "Army Accounts", "Directory", "Ordinances", "Journall", and two bottles of "A Cordial for ye Dr.", one "Widows Tears", the other "Blood of Orphans". Below, letterpress title, "The Explanation", and four columns of verses with key. 1680
Engraving and letterpress
- Production date
Height: 297 millimetres
Height: 554 millimetres
Width: 415 millimetres (plate)
Width: 417 millimetres (sheet)
- Curator's comments
- (Text from Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Stuart Britain', BM 1998, cat.198)
This idea for this print came from the Tory Roger L'Estrange, and it was answered for the Whigs by Stephen College (BMSat.1083). Their exchange of 1680 is a landmark in the history of English satire, being the first occasion that both parties conducted a political controversy in visual form.
The complicated composition is explained by numerous labels and texts held by the various characters, as well as by the four columns of verse printed below. The characters representing the various Protestant sects form a committee that is listening to the petitions of dogs, horses and such-like. At the left are the victims of the Civil War in chains, at the right a priest of the Church of England being forced to vomit his living. The message is that the Puritan faction is plotting to seize Parliament and subvert the Government, and its methods threaten to repeat the disaster of the Civil War of the 1640s.
The annotation '15 Aprill' in the hand of Narcissus Luttrell gives the date of publication. There is another comment by him in the third column of the text, and more can be found in Luttrell's annotated copy of the first continuation of the Popish Plot catalogue. This says that it was 'writ by L'Estrange, a scurrilous piece in some things'. It also gives the price of 1s., which was very high. Most broadsheets cost 1d or 2d, and only a few were as much as 6d. Perhaps Luttrell was overcharged: the announcement of this print by Henry Brome, at the Gun in St Paul's Churchyard, in the Term catalogue for May 1680 gives the price as 6d.
Roger L'Estrange was the most visible and effective propagandist against the Whigs, and was deeply hated by them. Luttrell noted in his Diary for March 1680 that the King had settled an allowance on L'Estrange and that 'this person hath writt many things (as he pretends) for his majesties service, but they have caused most violent animosities among his majesties subjects, and will prove very destructive to the Protestant interest'. He had been appointed in 1663 surveyor of all printing offices, and one of the official licensers of the press. This job had lapsed with the expiry of the Licensing Act in 1679, which gave him the leisure to act as a Tory propagandist. He wrote numerous pamphlets during the crisis of the Popish Plot, many directed against Andrew Marvell, and in 1681 began a newspaper 'The Observator'. He resumed his duties as licenser in 1685 when the Licensing Act was re-enacted.
This satire is his sole known contribution to the graphic battle. Presumably he supplied the idea in verbal form, and got someone to draw it for the engraver. L'Estrange's contributions were only too effective, and in October 1680, in fear of his life, he hurriedly left London, first for Scotland and then to the Continent. In the Pope-burning procession of 1680 (see BMSat.1085) he was the subject of an individual float, and denounced under the label of 'the dog Towzer'. There is a contemporary copy of this print (BMSat 1081).
(Text from Malcolm Jones, www.bpi1700.org.uk, "Print of the Month", April 2008)
Antony Griffiths has hailed the present print - which was 'answered' for the Whig faction six months later by Stephen College’s Strange’s Case Strangely Altered - as constituting 'a landmark in the history of English satire, being the first occasion that both parties conducted a political controversy in visual form' [see above].
The Committee; or Popery in Masquerade, by an unknown engraver, is a most accomplished print satyr - as the accompanying text interestingly terms it - issued in April 1680, which inter alia holds up the various nonconformist sects for ridicule. Here representatives of the various denominations of the earlier Commonwealth era - a naked Adamite, a Ranter, a Quaker, an Anabaptist, a Presbyterian, an Independent, [Lodowick] Mugleton himself, and [James] Nailor - are depicted as constituting a committee listening to petitions from a dog, a horse, a man and a woman. In the lefthand corner, the various victims of the Civil War appear in chains, while in the righthand corner, a Church of England parson is forced to vomit forth his living—a detail which may well owe something to Doctor Panurgus (see 1854,1113.154) which Sir Roger L'Estrange, who conceived the design for the present print and penned its text, had accorded his imprimatur eight years earlier. At this period, L'Estrange was the most effective of the Tory propagandists, and the message of the print as a whole is to imply that the present day Puritan faction is plotting to seize Parliament and subvert the Government, which will lead to a second Civil War. When criticised for his part in the design, however, L'Estrange declared that the print was a piece historical and only recommended by way of caution. The subtitle alludes to the present era of Popish Plot(s) and the verses describe how such misinformation is to be circulated amongst the credulous populace:
... the Pulpits, and the Presses
Must ring of Popery, Grievances, Addresses,
Plots of all Sorts, Invasions, Massacres,
Troops under Ground, Plague-Plaisters, Cavaliers ...
The Committee; or Popery in Masquerade is extremely detailed visually, and also accompanied by 178 lines of verse commentary; it would require an essay-length commentary to do it justice. Instead, I shall concentrate here on the petitioners,'sectaries' themselves whose alleged infamous behaviour is clearly intended to discredit all such schismatics.
The petitioners before the Committee are, in fact, two animal/human couples: a dog named Swash and the Elders Mayd; and a horse and man, jointly labelled The Colchester Wedding. The verse to which the latter figures are keyed makes it clear that the man is a Quaker and the horse a mare, and it is clear that bestiality is implied.
In a remarkable and amusing burlesque sermon, The Exaltation of Christmas Pye (1659), by one P.C. - allegedly Dr. of Divinity and Midwifery - as the parodic preacher is exemplifying the various types of conjunction copulative, he cannot resist referring, in passing, to what are evidently these same two pairs:
your praeternatural Conjunction Copulative, as when an Elders maid lyes
with a Mastiff or as when a Quaker buggereth a Mare.
The former alleged act is the subject of Sir John Birkenhead's The four-legg'd elder, or, A horrible relation of a dog and an elders maid to the tune of The lady's fall (1647), reprinted three years before the present print. The elder is a Presbyterian - so his mastiff (which is, indeed, named Swash here) is counted one too - and his maid, Jane, was apparently born in Colchester.
Twelve years later Birkenhead was also the author of The Four'legg'd Quaker To the Tune of the Dog and Elder's Maid, Or, the Lady's Fall (1659), which concerns another Colchester resident, one Ralph Green, and an act that appears to have occurred six years earlier. This broadside is also illustrated with four individual woodcuts: a man with tongue out, advancing towards a horse, a centaur wearing a hat and holding a sword in one hand and the hilt only of another in the other hand, and a devil also wearing a hat advancing towards the latter holding a bridle. But Sir John could not help referring readers to his earlier composition in the accompanying verse text:
But though 'twas foul 'tween Swash and Jane,
Yet this is ten times worse,
For then a Dog did play the Man,
But Man now play'd the Horse.
The same year Sir John Denham too was moved to publish an unillustrated broadside, A relation of a Quaker that to the Shame of his Profession Attempted to Bugger a Mare near Colchester (1659).
The Committee evidently achieved sufficient notoriety to make it worthwhile for some anonymous publisher to issue a somewhat inferior copy: this is BM Satires 1081.
. It is pleasing to be able to add a sixth item to the list of five - all licensed to John Overton on 28th October 1672 - given by Antony Griffiths (op. cit., p. 148), viz. a second impression of The Common Weales Canker Worms (Globe knew only of the earlier Stent impression in the Sutherland Collection), in what I produce evidence to show in my forthcoming book  is its third state.
. L'Estrange, Answer to a whole Litter of Libels (1680), cited in F.G.Stephens, Catalogue of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum: Satirical and Personal Subjects, vol. 1 (1320-1689) (London, 1870), p. 627.
. See Stephens, op. cit., pp. 623-7. For modern accounts of it see Tim Harris, London Crowds in the Reign of Charles II (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 139-40, Joseph Monteyne, The Printed Image in Early Modern London (Aldershot, 2007), pp. 173-4, and Helen Pierce, 'The Devil's Bloodhound: Roger L'Estrange Caricatured', in Michael Hunter (ed.), Printed Images in Early Modern Britain: Essays in Interpretation (Ashgate, 2010).
. Reproduced in Barry Reay, 'Popular hostility towards Quakers in mid-seventeenth-century England', Social History, 5 (1980), pp. 387-407 (p. 395).
. Text edited in J. Wardroper, 'Lovers, Rakes and Rogues' (London, 1995), pp. 216-18. It also appears in Denham's collected verse, i.e. 'Poems and translations with the Sophy' (1668), under the title 'News from Colchester: or a Proper New Ballad of Certain Carnal Passages betwixt a Quaker and a Colt at Horsly near Colchester in Essex'.
Helen Pierce has pointed out (in a paper given at the Court, City, Country conference at Tate Britain, 20 May 2011) that the depiction of F. the committee secretary, identified as the virulent whiggish polemicist Henry Care on this impression of the print, is very close to a drawing by Francis Barlow for one of the Popish Plot pack of playing-cards which is annotated "Lestrange writing to Rome" (see 1954,0710.4.48). The pack was published in October 1679, seven months before the present broadside and the representation of Care may be a deliberate riposte to Barlow's attack on L'Estrange.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1998 BM, The Print in Stuart Britain, cat. 198
2000 Jan-Mar, Ipswich, Christchurch Mansion, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2000 May-Jul, Bristol, City Mus and AG, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2000 Oct-Dec, Lancaster, Peter Scott Gallery, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2000/1 Dec-Feb, Banff, Duff House, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2001 Feb-May, Cardiff, National Mus, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2009 Apr-Aug BM, P&D, Room 90, British Printed Images to 1700
- Associated titles
Associated Title: The Relation of a Conference between William Laud and Fisher the Jesuit
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number