- Museum number
- Object: The master of the inn confers the order of knighthood on Don Quixotte
Erskine, dressed as an officer of the Inns of Court Volunteers, kneels on one knee to receive spurs from Sir James Mansfield, in legal wig and gown, who stands over him, his sword held vertically. Erskine's knee rests on a bulky brief: 'The King v. Hardy Brief for Def[ence]'; he says: "Henceforth I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance [? and abjure] traiterous . . . (the words obscured by his plumed helmet)". In the foreground two couples of privates or N.C.O.s (l. and r.) walk off scowling suspiciously over their shoulders at the investiture. The design is framed by two arches of the cloister of the Temple Church. Through one (l.) is seen the body of the church: three (sculptured) recumbent Knights Templars raise themselves from their tombs to gaze in horror at the scene. All five volunteers wear plumed helmets and epaulets. The two on the left carry, one a pike, the other a bayoneted musket, both directed towards the new knight. Under the foot of one is a torn paper: 'Mr Sheridan Speech & Vote of thanks to the Volunteer[s]'. Below the design:
'Templars of old were valiant Knights,
Defenders of their Country's Rights,
A consecrated Band.
If one superior Merit shew'd
On him, the general Voice bestow'd
A Leader's high command:
With equal Zeal in Britains Cause,
To guard her Liberty and Laws,
Our Volunteers unite;
But who shall head this loyal Host?
Erskine steps forth and claims the Post
And Mansfield dubs him Knight.
Sleep, sleep in Peace ye Templars brave
Nor cast a look beyond the Grave,
To mark our Inn's Dishonour;
Two Evils press upon our Ranks,
Erskine's Command & Sherry's Thanks,
Sworn friends of tried O'Connor' c. August 1803 [See curatorial comment]
Hand-coloured etching and aquatint, printed on a sheet of India paper laid onto a backing sheet
- Production date
Height: 227 millimetres
Width: 340 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
Sheridan on 10 Aug. 1803 moved a vote of thanks to the 'Volunteer army Yeomanry corps of Great Britain for the zeal and promptitude with which at a crisis the most momentous to their country, they have associated for its defence'. 'Parl. Hist.' xxxvi. 1697 f. Cobbett calls this vote 'perhaps, at once the most foolish, and the most fatal measure that ever was adopted even by the present ministry'. See 'Cobbett's Ann. Reg.' iv. 210-23, 385 ff. Cf. BMSats 10088, 10606. For the Inns of Court Volunteers, 'the Devil's Own', see BMSat 10221. For the Maidstone trial, where Sheridan and Erskine gave evidence for Arthur O'Connor (subsequently belied by the confession which he afterwards withdrew), see BMSats 9245, &c, 9892, 10072, 10549. For Erskine's defence of Hardy (free of charge) see BMSat 8502, &c.
Reproduced, Wheeler and Broadley, i. 240.
This print was dated, 'c. Aug. 1803', by Dorothy George. [June 1803, according to note by Miss Banks (Banks Memoranda, in Print Room, where the print is said to be unpublished). But Sheridan's motion for a vote of thanks was in August.]
Printed on thin paper, pasted to a sheet of thicker paper.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number