- Museum number
- Object: Search-night; -or- state-watchmen, mistaking honest-men for conspirators. -Vide state arrests
The interior of a bare, poverty-stricken room with a raftered roof. Pitt and Dundas, as watchmen, batter down the upper timbers of a door (right) which has been strongly bolted, locked, and barricaded. Both have long staves, Pitt holds up a lantern. The occupants hide or flee, except Lord Moira, who stands stiffly in profile to the right on the extreme left, his crisped fingers outspread deprecatingly, disassociating himself from his companions (cf. BMSat 9184); he wears regimentals with a cocked hat. A heavy but ragged cloth covers a rectangular table in the middle of the room, on which are ink-pot and papers: a 'Plan of Invasion' with a map of 'France' and 'Ireland'. This lies across a paper signed 'yours O'Conner'. A dark-lantern stands on the open pages of the 'Proceedings of the London Corresponding Society'. An office stool has been overturned. Prone under the table, their heads and shoulders draped by the cloth, are (left to right): Horne Tooke, Nicoll, and Tierney. Fox and Sheridan escape up a ladder to a trap-door in the roof; the latter still has one foot on the floor. Between ladder and wall (left) is an iron-bound chest filled with daggers; more daggers are heaped on the floor: beneath them are two papers: 'The Press' (the organ of the United Irishmen, started by O'Connor, see BMSat 9186) and 'Bloody News from Ireland Bloody News Bloody News'; this lies across a paper signed 'Munchausen' (cf. BMSat 9184). The Duke of Norfolk is timorously waiting his turn to escape by the wide chimney, up which Bedford is disappearing; the latter is identified by a paper hanging from his pocket: 'Bedford Dog Kennel'. A large fire burns in the grate, on the bar of which Bedford puts his foot. Across the chimney is scrawled 'Vive l'Egalite', on either side of a bonnet-rouge. Above it are prints, bust-portraits of 'Buonapart' and 'Robertspier'. On the right is a casement window showing a night sky and the turrets of the White Tower. Below it is hung a broadside headed by a guillotine and the words 'Vive la Guillotin'. In the corner of the room (right) is a pile of bonnets-rouges. In the foreground rats scamper towards a large hole in the ramshackle floor. Beside them are papers: 'Assignats' and 'Plan for raising United Irishmen'. 20 March 1798
- Production date
Height: 260 millimetres
Width: 364 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
On 27 Feb. 1798 O'Connor, O'Coigley, Binns, and two others were arrested in Margate when about to embark for France to urge (on behalf of the United Irishmen) the prompt dispatch of an invading fleet to Ireland (see BMSats 9244, 9245). Binns was a leading member of the London Corresponding Society. The important arrest was due to Pitt's secret service, which had information from Hamburg of the Franco-Irish plans. W. J. Fitzpatrick, 'Secret Service under Pitt', 1892, pp. 15-23; Rose, 'Pitt and the Great War', 1911, pp. 349-51; 'Memoirs of Wolfe Tone', 1827, ii. 283-5. Other members of the London Corresponding Society were arrested on 15 Mar. and examined before the Privy Council. 'Lond. Chron.', 17 Mar. One of many prints in which the leaders of the Opposition are depicted as revolutionaries. For the Corresponding Society see B.M. Add. MSS. 27808, 27811-17, Veitch, 'Genesis of Parliamentary Reform', 1913, pp. 191 ff., and BMSats 8424, 8500, 8507, 8624, 8664, 8685, 9039, 9191, 9194, 9202, 9230, 9242, 9258, 9270, 9341, 9369.
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 238. Wright and Evans, No. 184. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1998 Apr-Aug, Belfast, Ulster Museum, 'Up in Arms'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number