- Museum number
- Object: The German pawnbroker; or consolation for the constitutional club in the year 1790.
The interior of a pawnbroker's shop, the customers offering pledges are on the farther side of a counter which extends almost across the design. On the nearer side are (right) the pawnbroker, a stout, well-dressed lady, intended for Mrs. Schwellenberg (though better-looking than in life or caricature), and (left) the clerk, the Duke of Richmond, in regimentals, standing at a desk, pen in hand. Ministers and ministerialists eagerly offer their possessions (left to right): An elderly man in riding-dress, perhaps Sir George Yonge, Secretary-at-War, proffers a pair of pistols to Richmond, who says, with a gesture of negation, "Curse your Pistols take 'em out of my sight! I hate fire arms of every kind, and wouldn't lend you a shilling on them! turn the muzzles away or I shall expire!" (Richmond was supposed to be a coward, BMSats 7389, 7535). Next, Chatham, First Lord of the Admiralty, leans across the counter holding out a compass towards Richmond. Sir Joseph Mawbey holds a large pig on the counter, and says, looking at the pawnbroker (whose back is turned to him), "The finest Sow in the County of Surrey! had thirty Pigs last farrow! do my Swelly, lend me five pieces on it - be quiet my poor old Companion you're as noisy as Drake or Rolle." (Drake, representing his own borough of Amersham, appears to have been an officious speaker and had a most powerful voice, 'Parl. Hist.' xxvi. 1075; Rolle (see BMSat 6816) was irrepressible on the delicate subject of the Prince's marriage, ibid, xxvii. 1039-40. For Mawbey's hogs see BMSat 7163, &c.) The next customer (? Macdonald) offers a legal wig, saying, "The wig is not a pin the worse for wear, come maake it up a crown and let me have a duplicate in the name of Chopfalien." Thurlow, wearing his wig but stripped to the waist, holds out his shirt, saying, "Hollo! you old German Hell Cat, don't keep me shivering here! give me my flesh bag I pawn'd last monday for half a crown." A silent and dignified customer (? Carmarthen) offers a watch and seals. The lady's back is turned to all these customers: she attends to Pitt (right), who takes off his coat, saying, "I protest I have not worn it above five times, dont be so hard with an old Friend." She answers, "Fife times! cot pless my soul vat a lie, it be tret bare; I vil lend but dree haf crown, and I vood not lend dot, but dat I vant it vor Billy Eden, who is font of a coat dat he can turn" (see BMSat 6815). Behind Pitt, and on the extreme right, is Dundas, holding up his tartan breeches, and saying, "Saxpence is too little, gi us the other graat - Oh! my poor affairs what a state are ye reduced to!"
The space behind the counter is divided by partitions, each wide enough for one customer. Above these boxes is a row of cupboards high up on the wall. The opposite wall (left) is covered with watches, &c, and with the ribbons of orders with their pendent jewels; in the foreground are piled similar objects of value: a ribbon with the jewel of an order, a coat with a star, swords, jewels, plate, a violin, &c. 15 February 1789
- Production date
Height: 381 millimetres (sheet)
Width: 510 millimetres (sheet)
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
A satire on the anticipated plight of the Ministry under the Regency, cf. BMSat 7509; the Regency Bill was passed by the Commons on 12 Feb. and debated in the Lords on 13, 17, and 18 Feb., but on 19 Feb. the King's recovery was notified to both Houses. Richmond and Schwellenberg were both reputed miserly. For the Constitutional Club see BMSat 7372.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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