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- Object: Preparing for the Grand Attack.-or- a Private Rehearsal of "The ci-devant Ministry in danger".
Burdett (right) declaims a speech whose heads are inscribed on a gigantic scroll held out to him by Fox. Fox raises his arms high to hold the scroll, one end of which falls behind his head and shoulders. The other end, still rolled and blank, is held by Sheridan who stands on the extreme left behind a writing-table over which the scroll passes. Horne Tooke, seated full face behind the table, an inkpot in one hand, writes on the scroll with a sourly inscrutable expression. Burdett, with arms thrown wide, hat in right hand, stands with legs astride on a large tattered volume: 'List of them London Corresponding Society'. He says: "There! - there! - see the causes of all our Woe! - Oh! my ruin'd Country! - Enslav'd! - ah Traitors! - Expiring Liberty! - precious, Aristocratic Villains! - Oh Unaccounted Millions! - murder'd Myriads! oh, Gallows! - Block! - Guillotine! - Caira! Caira!" Sheridan, the theatrical expert, leans forward delightedly to say: "Bravo! - Bravo! - but it should give more Emphasis to the beginning of the last Line of Exclamation." Fox, very corpulent and gouty, his gloomy face shaded by the scroll, says: "Bravissimo! - Encore the Unaccounted Millions! - Encore! - "
The scroll is inscribed: 'Ministerial Crimes & Misdemeanours. - Ist Espousing the Cause of Loyalty & Old England. - 2d Making War against the Enemies of Loyalty and Old England. - 3d Destroying the Navy of the Enemies of Loyalty & Old England - 4th Capturing Malta, & all the foreign Possessions of the Enemies of loyalty and Old England. - 5th Ruining the Commerce of the Enemies . . . [ut supra]. - 6th Paying off the National Debt, in spite of the well-wishers to the Enemies . . . [ut supra]. 7th Uniting & Defending our Irish Brethren, when Invaded by the Enemies . . . [ut supra]. 8th Refusing to break Faith with the Allies of Loyalty . . . [etc.] 9th Holding out to the last, & Fighting single-handed with all the Enemies . . . [etc.] 10th Rejecting the profer'd Reconciliation with the Enemies of Loyalty and Old England, until Peace could be ratified upon Honorable Terms.' Much that follows is obscured by folds in the scroll; a few words stand out: '. . . French Principles and destroying Democratic P ... 16th Extirpating [?] the Hydra of [?] Faction .. . Loyalty & Old England.' The words again become clear where the scroll rests on the table, and enfl under the pen of Horne Tooke: '18th - Destroying all hopes of a Revolution & leaving the Enemies of Loyatly [sic] & Old England to Despair & to hang themselve . . .' [see BMSat 9258, &c.]. Under the scroll lie other papers: 'Last dying Speech . . . Aristocratic Ministry' and 'Scheme of Ministerial Equality.'
Against the wall and forming a background to Sheridan, Horne Tooke, and Fox is a high book-case, the books covered by a curtain, parted to reveal to inscribed 'Thel[wall]', 'Revoluti[on]', 'Cromw[ell]', 'Machiavel'. On the top three busts partly decapitated by the upper margin: 'Tom Paine, Abbé Seyeis', and 'Rob'spear'. Their positions imply that they are the 'doublures' (cf. BMSat 9261) respectively of Sheridan, Tooke, and Fox; for Fox as Ropespierre see BMSat 8450; for Tooke and Sieyes cf. BMSat 9270. On a small cabinet behind Burdett stands a model of a guillotine. Tooke wears a bonnet rouge with tricolour cockade, a dressing-gown with (torn) clerical bands (cf. BMSat 9716). 4 December 1801
- Production date
Height: 252 millimetres
Width: 356 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
This apparent anticipation of Burdett's motion on 12 Apr. 1802 for an inquiry into the conduct of the late Administration suggests that Gillray may have had private sources of information, cf. BMSat 9726. Burdett's extravagant speech was an attack on the war, as 'the old struggle [by the French] for rights and liberties against arbitrary power . . . the struggle in which the first Christians were engaged' ('Parl. Hist.' xxxvi. 500). Pitt's motives for making
war were said to be the destruction of the liberties of England. The motion was lost by 246 to 39. For the London Corresponding Society, suppressed in 1799 by an Act against seditious and treasonable societies, see BMSat 9202, &c. 'Unaccounted Millions' is an allusion to the City petition of 5 July 1769 which styled Holland (Fox's father) 'the Public Defaulter of Unaccounted Millions', a phrase long remembered against Fox, who had inherited and squandered much of the official profits of Holland as Paymaster, cf. BMSat 9270. For Fox and Cromwell cf. BMSat 6380, &c. For Burdett as the mouthpiece of Horne Tooke see (e.g.) BMSat 10731. For Thelwall see BMSat 8685, &c.
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 279. Wright and Evans, No. 263. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.
- Not on display
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