- Museum number
- Object: The Happy Instruments of Englands Preservation
Satirical broadside on the Popish Plot, with an engraving, on two levels. At the top the apotheosis of the witnesses to the Plot, Titus Oates, Miles Prance, Stephen Dugdale and William Bedloe, sitting on clouds and crowned with laurel wreaths by two cherubim; on either side are angels, one carrying a flaming sword and holding a model of the church, the other with a banner and the crown of England that has been protected by the witnesses. Above is another semi-circle of clouds inhabited by angels heads from which issues a ray of light penetrating to the lower level where it points to the Pope sitting at a table, labelled "The Infernall Conclave", with cardinals and Jesuits, a devil speaking into his ear; on the left Madame Cellier stands beside the overturned Meal-Tub and on the right Sir George Wakeman holds "A bill for £15000 to poison the King", behind him the scene of the execution of Viscount Stafford at the Tower of London; on the left three Turks observe conclave. (London, Benjamin Crome, nd). April 1681
- Production date
Height: 402 millimetres
Width: 274 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Text from Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Stuart Britain', BM 1998, cat.200)
Luttrell's annotation '27 Aprill 1681' shows that this print was part of the polemics after Charles had trumped the Whigs by dissolving the Oxford parliament on 28 March. It was one of the last attempts of the Whig propaganda machine to rally support, and shows the apotheosis of the four chief witnesses to the Plot (Oates, Prance, Dugdale and Bedloe) triumphing over the plotting of 'the infernall conclave' of Papists.
Although the engraver is unidentified (the manner appears to be of Robert White), the design is certainly by Barlow. His original drawing for the lower half of the design survives in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (first recognised and attributed by Richard Godfrey; see 'English caricature 1620 to the present', Victoria & Albert Museum, 1984, cat.4). The publisher Benjamin Combe, at the Ball and Anchor in Lombard Street, is otherwise unknown, which suggests that he was a Whig agent.
Barlow's work as a designer of satires has only recently become the subject of study (see Hodnett pp.26-33), for he never signed his work in this field. It is the surviving drawings that prove his involvement, and allow other attributions. His signed work of these years are the large natural history prints made for Pierce Tempest. But his patron William Cavendish, 4th Earl and later first Duke of Devonshire, to whom he dedicated the second edition of his Aesop in 1687 with an acknowledgement of 'Your Lordship's many favours towards me', was a prominent Whig and a central figure in the attempt to exclude James from the succession.
To the designs listed by Hodnett, Richard Godfrey has informed us that he would add two others on stylistic grounds: 'The Devill's Triumph over Rome's idoll' (BMSat 1079), and 'The Dreadful apparition, or The Pope haunted with Ghosts' (BMSat 1091). The only satire actually etched by Barlow himself is an anti-Dutch etching, known as the 'Cheese of Dutch Rebellion' in which the Devil surprises a group of Dutchmen plotting within a large hollow oval cheese. It is conventionally dated c.1673 (BMSat 1045).
The presence of three Turks suggests that the Ottoman threat might be associated with that of the Papacy.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
BM 1998, 'The Print in Stuart Britain', cat. 200
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
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Popish Plot 1678-79
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number