- Museum number
Object: John Gilpin!!!
Series: Political Sketches
No. 128. William IV as Gilpin rides (right to left) a galloping grey horse (Grey) past the inn at Edmonton. He has lost his stirrups, his crown flies off, the beer-bottles at his belt explode; they are inscribed 'Rotunda Pop' and 'Birmingham Froth'. He rides over geese wearing coronets, and has overthrown an old apple-woman (Eldon). Two men follow on galloping horses, Hume and O'Connell, who shouts 'Make way! make way we've a great Stake depending on it'. Cobbett, holding his gridiron (see BM Satires No. 16123, &c.) is indicated behind. In the foreground, behind a barrier, stand the Radical members for Westminster: Burdett lifts his hat, saying, 'Go along never mind the Geese [peers] and old women!'; Hobhouse: 'I think the Grey is evidently running away with him'. In a doorway (left) stands a fat John Bull as turnpike-keeper, grinning broadly and raising his arm; he shouts: 'Go it my Lads never mind the Turnpike'. In the overhanging balcony are six women (Gilpin's wife and her party), the most conspicuous being Wellington, who leans forward to shout 'Good Mr Gatekeeper Stop him he doesn't know where he is going'. Others (unrecognizable) are identified as Twiss, Peel, and Goulburn. The two latter say: 'Oh! John Gilpin, John Gilpin! where are you going? don't you know your old friends' and 'He must have lost his senses to ride at such a rate'. Perched above the turnpike door croaks a raven (Croker): 'Croaker! Croaker'. On the projecting sign is a tree on which a crowned head is suggested; below it are three tiny mounted men with drawn swords. Below the design:
'Away went Gilpin, neck or naught;
Away went hat and wig;
He little dream'd when he set out,
Of running such a rig'. 13 May 1831
- Production date
Height: 286 millimetres
Width: 400 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', XI, 1954)
A sequel to William IV's dramatic dissolution of Parliament, see No. 16641, &c., after which he pressed Grey to modify the Bill and conciliate its opponents: "having once assumed the character of the keen Reformer, he had to pay the price of his popularity by being henceforth judged by an entirely fictitious standard". J. R. M. Butler, 'The Passing of the Great Reform Bill', 1914, p. 220. See 'Corr. of Earl Grey with William IV', 1867, i. 239 ff and No. 16673, &c.; cf. No. 16682. "Birmingham Froth" = the enthusiastic support to the Bill of Attwood's "Birmingham Political Union", see No 16070, &c. "Rotunda pop" stands for sedition and profanity: the revolutionary ultra-Radicals at the Rotunda (Rotundanists) in Blackfriars Road were anti-Whig. Cf. HB's 'New Version of John Gilpin, after Stothard', 2 Mar. 1846, in which Peel is J. G.; for non-political illustrations of this scene see No. 6886, &c.
Reproduced, Butler, op. cit., p. 220. Aspinall, 'Three Early Nineteenth-Century Diaries', 1952, p. 65; Trevelyan, 'William IV', pl. xvi. A copy, Grego 'Hist. of Parliamentary Elections', 1892, p. 366.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number