- Museum number
- Object: The delicate investigation or secrets of- Time Three o Clock in the Morning!!!
Plate from the 'Scourge', v, before p. 355. Illustration to a continuation of 'The First Book of the Acts of the Regent', pp. 355-9, see No. 12028. An after-dinner scene, wine and dessert on the table, candles in branch-candlesticks burnt to the socket. The Regent at the head of the table (left), very drunk, is supported by McMahon and Lady Hertford; he leans his head against her. She puts her right hand on his head, in her left is a steaming jug labelled 'Egg Brandy'; she says: "Rest your R—l head upon my bosom it was made to bear yes even the weighty thing that fills the chair before T—e." McMahon says: "Am not I your own purse [see No. 11874] and is not that enough to make me purse proud lean your R—l arm on mine, I can accomodate you in any way. " The Prince says: "Bring me the Roman Punch there is much excellence in Punch it exhilerates it revives!" Half-way down the long table and in the centre of the design Sir John and Lady Douglas mix a huge bowl of punch, aided by the Duke of Sussex. Lady Douglas, a pretty woman with her hair bound by a tartan scarf, stands full-face squeezing a lemon between clasped hands; the 'Juice of Perjury' streams upon 'Suborned Evidence'. She says: "The Punch will soon be ready, and the ingredients are of excellent quality." Sir John, in Highland dress, facing her and on the near side of the table, pours in 'Liquor of Infamy' from a kettle inscribed 'Pandoras Box' [cf. No. 11897]; he also puts in a lump of 'Preferment' taken from a fragment of sugar-loaf similarly inscribed. He says: "Aye leave such punch makeing to my Lady and me, who can match us?" Other ingredients on the table are lemons inscribed 'Revenge' and 'Resentment' and fragments inscribed 'Gold drop' and 'Gold drop from the [ ?] Privy Purse'. Two decanters are labelled 'Essence of Malignant Invention' and 'Spirit of Perjury'. The Duke of Sussex, a clumsy figure in a fur-trimmed coat, puts a hand on Lady Douglas's shoulder and stirs the brew with a ladle inscribed (inconspicuously) 'Sussex and Divorce' and 'Seperation infallible'. He says: "Never doubt it will be excellent Brother—and I have stirr'd it up well." Before him on the table is a sheet of music headed 'Brav[ura]'.
In front of the table, near the Prince, Sheridan sprawls on the floor beside his overturned chair, and a decanter of wine which spills its contents. Spread out before him, and lying across a pamphlet inscribed 'forty Thieves' [cf. No. 10459], is a large document, part of which is rolled up: 'Butcher £300, Baker 200, Wine Merct 1000, Tallow Char 150, Coal Mercht 200, Silversmith 300, Taylor 230, Hatter 20, Hosier 40'. In his coat-pocket is a pamphlet: 'School for Scandal by the Rt' [Hon. R. B. Sheridan]. He says: "I am wearrid of this Investigation clamorous Creditors and long Bills are troublesome; give me more Wine." He is neatly dressed, with hair tied in a queue, but his breeches are chequered to represent Harlequin, cf. No. 9916. On the extreme right stand Eldon and Ellenborough wearing their judge's wigs with dark suits. Ellenborough stands in profile to the right at an ornate side-table carving a pie; he says: "Well of all investigations, none is in my mind so pleasing as that of a savory Eel Pie"; in his pocket is 'A New Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue'. Eldon stands full-face, the Purse of the Great Seal suspended from his arm; he stuffs a bird into his coat-pocket, saying, "I hope my Pocket will not be investigated or Bags may be brought before the Lord chief Justice." Behind him in the shadow, and peeping round a door, stands Lord Hertford, with (inconspicuous) horns among his hair: he says: "Wither my Love Ah wither art thou Gone [a popular song, cf. No. 9311]."
On the chimneypiece on the extreme left is an ornate clock, the hands pointing to 3 (a.m.) : the dial is supported by Time hiding his face on his arm. Beside it stands an incense-burner. Above is a picture of a pig feeding from a trough inscribed 'ex breed'. On the walls is a set of four pictures of Don Quixote. In the first (obscured by labels containing inscriptions) he rides along, in the next he tilts at a windmill; in the third he is in a bedroom, stabbing wine-skins with his sword; in the fourth he hangs by one arm from a barred window, supporting himself on his tilting-lance. Before the fire is a fringed hearth-rug on which is a lion couchant.
1 May 1813
- Production date
Height: 199 millimetres
Width: 509 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
For the Regent and Lady Hertford see No. 11853, for the depositions of the Douglases, No. 12026, &c. These were originally made to the Duke of Sussex, Sir John being one of his Grooms of the Bedchamber. The Duke was proud of his voice: 'a bravura' indicates his liaison with Mrs. Billington, see No. 9840; an allusion to a divorce for the Regent, see No. 12028, is made in this reference to the annulment (1794) of his marriage in 1793 to Lady Augusta Murray, under the Royal Marriage Act. Ellenborough was in the public eye by the coarseness of his language and remarks on adultery (see No. 12006) and as one of those to whom the Princess's letter had been referred (see No. 12031), as well as for his part in the 'Delicate Investigation' of 1806. After the election of 1812 Sheridan no longer visited Carlton House and the Regent was reputed to have abandoned him, see No. 11914.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number