- Museum number
- Object: True Reform of Parliament,-i.e.-Patriots lighting a revolutionary-bonfire in New Palace Yard.
Sir Francis Burdett declaims, holding up a bonnet rouge shaped like a fool's cap; he addresses those who are making a bonfire of statutes, &c., on the cobbles of Palace Yard (left). His raised left arm is flung back, pointing towards Westminster Hall, which is being stoned and demolished by a mob. He says: "It is only in the House of Commons / "that the People of England are spoken of / "with Contempt, & calumniated!!!— / "—can things be remedied by Bills? No!— / "it must be by an Honest House of "Commons!—what is the use of Magna-Charta, Habeas-Corpus, / "or the Bill of Rights?— / See, my own Speech at Westminster—Vide, "Cobbett's Patriotic Register. He tramples on a sceptre beside which lies a crown, reversed and covered by a long scroll: Resolution[s] of the Whig-Club; Resolved—That it is the decided Opinion of this Club that no Substantial & permament [sic] Good can be derived by the Country, from any change of Ministry, unless accompanied by an entire change of Systemn—accomplish'd by an entire Reform of the Parliament. A great pile of documents with a Holy Bible in the centre, is ready for the flames; Horne Tooke, in bonnet rouge, dressing-gown, and slippers, kneels at Burdett's feet, holding a dark lantern (as in No. 10738), and applying a flaming brand, inscribed Sedition, to the pile. Three simian dark-skinned creatures holding papers like sub-human newsboys, as in Gillray's New Morality [No. 9240], apply torches to the pile. One, with a tartan cloth round its waist, holds the Edinburgh Review, another the Morning Chronicle; the third wears a wig inscribed Independ[ent] Wig. Under Tooke's firebrand are the Rights of the House of Brunswick to the Throne Brunswick Succession; Magna Charta; Bill of Rights; Habeas Corpus. Other documents are Act for Punishing Libelers of the State, and Act to Suppress Inflamatory Libels (attacked by the Independent Wig and Morning Chronicle respectively); Legal Authorities; Rights of the Establish'd Church; Rights of the House of Lords; Priviliges of the He of Commons; Act of Protestant Succession; Freedom of Election; Old-Bailey Trials.
Beside Tooke crouches Bosville placing an Act against Fomenting Treason on the flames. Behind him Whitbread stands, dressed as a drayman, and holding a barrel on his shoulder whose contents he empties on to the fire. The barrel is Well-Pitch'd Old Beer Barrel to Crown ye Bonfire; the hoops: Whibreads Entire [cf. No. 10421] and Pro Bono Publico. The contents are papers: Respect to the Crown; Rules & Orders of the House of Commons; Dignities of the House of Lords; Act . . . Lord Folkestone brings three Acts: Act against Seditious Meetings [see No. 8687, &c.]; against Bribery; against Corruption. Clifford (a Catholic, see No. 11430, &c), in barrister's wig and gown, is about to hurl three documents into the flames: Trial by Jury; List of Penal Statutes; Laws of England. Cobbett, above and behind the others, holds up a three-pronged pitchfork from which hangs a (tricolour) placard: Elements of Reform by W. Cobbett the Hampshire-Hog-Reformer [see No. 11047]; in his left hand he holds up his hat, decorated with a large tricolour cockade. Over his coat he wears a smock. On the extreme left are Wardle and Grattan; the former, hat in hand, carries on his shoulder an Act against Defaming the Royal Family [see No. 11234]. Grattan brings to the fire the Act of Union, between Great Britain and Ireland and an act against Irish Rebels. Behind the group are the raised arms of a crowd of supporters; two hold up State Trials and Public Records. Behind the groups are clouds above which appears The Rising Sun of Republicanism, irradiating the sky.
In the foreground (right) the Marquis of Buckingham and Lord Grenville, fat and gouty, hurry off to the right, bent double, their heavy posteriors exaggerated, their heads cut off by the right margin. They carry off large money-bags, that of the former, labelled Family Pickings, is £400000; the latter's is Exchequer Pickings [see No. 10543, &c.]. Buckingham says: come away! Brother-Broad-Bottom! [see No. 10530] come away. Grenville answers: Ay! they may want to Reform our Pockets perhaps. Their formal dress, with bag-wigs, knee-breeches, clocked stockings, and buckled shoes contrasts with that of the radicals at the bonfire. Buckingham wears the Garter ribbon, with Honi-soit at the knee. In the background a mob, tiny figures with banners, pickaxes, axes, and firebrands, hurries towards and into Parliament, a Gothic building resembling Westminster Hall. The tricolour banners are Reform, or Ruination, and Reform [carried by a well-dressed woman]; there is also a bonnet rouge on a spear. Some hasten up a ladder to the roof of the porch and assail the great Gothic window from which flames are rising, and objects are being hurled. These include a throne and mace, a box of papers, and many books inscribed Act or Act of Par ... Men on the roof are demolishing the building; two fall headlong with pieces of coping.
14 June 1809.
- Production date
Height: 300 millimetres
Width: 415 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
A meeting of 'Electors of Westminster' was held in Westminster Hall on 29 Mar. 'to express their sentiments on the inquiry into the Conduct of the . . . the Duke of York' (see No. 11269) at which Burdett and Whitbread, the only two M.P.s present, urged immediate Parliamentary Reform. Burdett said: T do believe that the House of Commons is the only spot in all the world, where the people of England are spoken of with contempt. There they are calumniated. . .' Pol. Reg. xv. 538. See A full Report of the Proceedings of the Electors of Westminster . . ., 1809 (B.M.L. 8132. df. 9/16). The cleavage between the Burdettites, supported by Cobbett, and the radical Whigs, whose leader was Whitbread, and the Grenvilles (regarded as arch-sinecurists) on the extreme right of the Opposition, is stressed, as in No. 11330. The Whig Club had just been induced by Whitbread to declare for Reform. Morn. Chron., 3 May 1809. The Independent Whig (see No. 11380) advocated Reform, the Morning Chronicle was more cautious. The Edinburgh Review (though anti-Burdettite) was considered subversive, see 'Mentor', The Dangers of the 'Edinburgh Review', or a brief Exposure of its Principles in Religion, Morals, and Politics, 1808. See No. 11328, &c.
This is based on an amateur's pencil-drawing with inscriptions in pen, much altered and elaborated by Gillray: True Reform of Parliament, or Whitbread's Entire. 'Mr Whitbread' and 'Sr F. Burdett', uncharacterized but numbered 1 and 2, stand over a bonfire watching '3 Mob burning Acts of Parliament as being useless'. Whitbread holds the 'Whig Club Resn', as above, except that Gillray has added the word 'entire' before 'Reform .. .'. Burdett's words are as transcribed by Gillray. In the fire are only 'Habeas Corpus Act', Bill of Rights, Magna Charta, and a pair of broken scales. On the right: '4 Mob pulling down the H. of Commons', the building and mob merely indicated. (12 7/8 x 15 3/4 in.) 201. c. 6/81.
Grego, Gillray, pp. 364 f. (reproduction). Wright and Evans, No. 357. Reprinted, G.W.G., 1830.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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