- Museum number
- Object: The Westminster Mountebank or palace yard pranks.
Fox, as a quack doctor, addresses a mob from the front of a platform which rests upon five beer-barrels inscribed 'Whitbreads entire' (cf. BMSat 8638). Four other mountebanks are performing. Fox wears the full wig and old-fashioned laced coat and waistcoat of a doctor; he points to a young man (Bedford) behind him (left) who stands on his head, coins pouring from his pocket into a box. A Pierrot (Grey) stands behind the platform holding a trumpet and saying: "Turn me Grey Gemmen if I dont read you the particulars of his curing 30,000 Patients in one day; when Brother cit. has done tumbling". On a slack-rope stretching across the left part of the platform is little Lord Lauderdale, holding a balancing pole. He and Bedford are dressed as acrobats. On the right is the doctor's zany, Sheridan, wearing a fool's cap and a tunic and trousers dotted with representations of the Devil. He scatters, and kicks towards the spectators below him, a shower of paper scrolls inscribed: 'An Infaliable cure for a bad constitution'; 'Aether for Arguments'; 'Caustics for Crimps' [cf. BMSat 8484]; 'Mercury for Ministers'; 'Preparations against Prosecution'; 'Powder [cf. BMSat 8629] for Placemen' [twice]; 'Pain for the Poor' [cf. BMSat 8146]; 'A Rope for Reeves' [cf. BMSat 8699]; 'Gibets for Justices' [cf. BMSat 8686]; 'Aqua Regis for Royalists'. The crowd (right), who are three-quarter length, eagerly hold out their hands to catch the papers. Next the platform is a well-dressed man resembling Grafton. The man on the extreme right is a butcher wearing a bonnet-rouge.
Fox says: "Dis is de first Tumbler in de Vorld Gemmen, dat is Citoyen de Bedforado, who vas stand so long upon his head dat all de money vas Tumble out of his pockets; de Next is Citoyen Van Lathertalo, who's trick upon de slack rope are delightfull it is expected he vil von Day dance on de Tight Rope ha ha!!"
The men and women composing the crowd on the left all raise a hand in affirmation; all are shouting. A man dressed as a militiaman, standing prominently beside the platform, raises a hand from which two fingers are missing; he shouts "All. All." Perhaps Edward Hall, 'Liberty Hall'. 20 November 1795
- Production date
Height: 326 millimetres
Width: 470 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
A satire on the meeting in Palace Yard on 16 November to petition the House of Commons against the Seditious Meetings and Treasonable Practices Bills. The platform was rapidly erected outside the King's Arms Tavern, having been removed from Westminster Hall. The meeting was addressed by Fox, who was seconded by Bedford (cf. BMSat 8684). The petition was then read by Grey; Sheridan made a speech which was received with prodigious applause. The petition (see BMSat 8697) was carried by a show of hands. 'Hist. of Two Acts . . .', 1796, pp. 232-42; Fox, 'Memorials and Corr.' iii. 126. Farington ('Diary', i. 108 f.) describes the occasion; he concluded from the demeanour of the people 'that the Bill may be passed with safety'. See also 'Ann. Reg.', 1795, p. 54*. For Fox as a quack doctor with his zany see BMSat 6398; for Sheridan as a zany cf. BMSat 6384, &c. For Aqua Regis (or Regia) cf. BMSat 8805. See BMSat 8687, &c.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number