- Museum number
- Object: The constitutional squad (ie opposition) advancing to attack.
A procession of the Opposition headed by Moira (l.) in regimentals, beating a drum, marches to the attack. He sings:
'If we chance to fall"
shant we fall with Glory"
Towdy, rowdy, row, dow, dow [British Grenadiers.]'
Next, Grenville and Grey march together. Grenville, short and with massive posterior (cf. BMSat 10530), stoops forward; he is Don Quixote, wearing the barber's bowl (Mambrino's helmet). He holds a tilting-lance and a shield on which is the profile head of Fox and the inscription 'Opera Illius Mea Sunt', and echoes Moira:
'"Towdy, rowdy, row. dow.
"dow, rowdy dowdy
dow dow, dow.'
Grey, on Grenville's r., walks erect, holding up a banner inscribed 'Black Spirits and White Blue Spirits and Grey, come mingle mingle you that mingle may' [words quoted by Burke from Macbeth in 1791, see BMSat 7865, &c.]. Behind them walks Sidmouth, holding a long syringe across his shoulder, and under his left. arm a basket full of bottles, with a paper: 'Pills Potions Lotions for blundering Ministers' [cf. BMSat 9849]. The tall Erskine follows, in Chancellor's wig and gown, with arms raised and fists clenched. He sings (misquoting O'Hara's 'Midas', ii. 3):
'"We'll rant we'll Swear we'll fair O rare!!
"And I'll warrant we'll pepper their Jacketts'
Beside him is the much shorter Ellenborough, whose head, wig, and a gouty leg emerge from behind Windham, who, with Sheridan, is straining at the ropes by which a large cannon is dragged along. Sheridan is dressed as Harlequin (cf. BMSat 9916), with wooden sword and bonnet rouge tucked under the belt which encircles his paunch. Behind them is Temple carrying on his head a large basket labelled 'Amunition'. It is filled with documents: 'Bark Bill', 'Mutiny Bill', 'Cold-bath Fiels' [sic], 'Oude Question', 'Copenhagen', and (projecting from a hole in the basket) 'State Papers'.
The cannon, mounted on a heavy gun-carriage, is inscribed 'Revolutionary Argument', with a bonnet rouge above the words. The head of the Devil Peeps from the muzzle; he says with a grin: "Ah! Ca Ira, ca Ira! ca Ira!" Lord Henry Petty bestrides the cannon near its mouth, jovially playing the fiddle (see BMSat 10589) and singing:
"Come cheer up my Lads
tis to Glory we steer. [Hearts of Oak.]"
Behind him is Derby, also astride and holding up a slow-match which resembles a serpent spitting flame and smoke. Whitbread walks behind holding up in both hands a foaming tankard of 'Whitbread Entire Froth' [cf BMSat 10421]. Next, Burdett walks, supporting himself on crutches, a bandae round the leg wounded by Paull, see BMSat 10725, &c. He is pushed forward by Horne Tooke, who says: "Now my Boy remember my Instructions bother 'em well, touch 'em to the Quick" [cf. BMSat 10976, &c.]. He and a man whose head is partly hidden push the cannon. Behind Tooke a man hurries forward holding up a document inscribed 'Adress to his Majesty . . . Copenhagen.' He shouts "Push on, Push on, I'll give them a sharp attack." He is Richard ('Conversation') Sharp. On the extreme right. is an unrecognizable head. April 1808
- Production date
Height: 275 millimetres
Width: 525 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
The 'Amunition' of the Opposition is carried by Temple, in allusion to his supposed fondness for stationery, see BMSat 10721, &c.; he was not one of its more aggressive members, and on the Oude Question, the attempt to revive the proceedings against Wellesley which had embarrassed the late Ministry see BMSat 10561, &c, he was an emphatic defender of Wellesley. 'Parl. Debates', x. 1147 (16 Mar.). The Bark Bill (cf. BMSat 10970) prohibited the export of Jesuits' bark (quinine) except under licence, as an incident of the blockade, and to cut off supplies from the French army. This was attacked by Whitbread (who was opposed to the continuance of the war) as a 'detestable species of warfare'. Ibid., p. 710 (24 Feb.). In a clause of the Mutiny Bill, Windham's method of recruiting was altered. Ibid., pp. 980 ff. (8 Mar.). Sheridan presented a petition for reform of the abuses in Cold Bath Prison, Middlesex; a report of 1800 due to Burdett, see BMSat 9341, &c, had remained without sequel (a subject of reproach to Burdett at the recent elections). The Opposition demanded an inquiry by a Select Committee; the Government carried an amendment for a Royal Commission. Ibid., p. 1178 (17 Mar.). The chief weapon of the Opposition was their attack on the Expedition to Copenhagen, see BMSat 10762, &c. On this Sharp made the chief speech of his career ('D.N.B.'). Ibid., pp. 1185 ff. (21 Mar.). The 'State Papers' in the basket presumably indicate the papers which the Opposition demanded should be laid before Parliament not only on Copenhagen but on the relations between England and Russia, see BMSat 10971. The 'publicity given to Ministerial papers' was deplored by Garlike the British Minister in Denmark as haying checked 'the communications and confidence of foreign Cabinets' to British Ministers abroad. 'H.M.C., Dropmore Papers', ix. 183 (28 Feb.). For the factiousness of the Opposition see M. Roberts, 'The Whig Party, 1807-12', 1939. They march to different tunes, cf. BMSat 10530.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number