- Museum number
- Object: The political raree-show: or a picture of parties and politics, during and at the close of the last session of Parliament, June 1779
Twelve views seen in a peep-show, the views being arranged in four rows; the outside of the box or booth is seen on the left, a boy looks through a round hole, the showman points, saying to him, "There you shall see". His words are given at length in the accompanying text (See Curatorial Comment). 1 July 1779
- Production date
Height: 234 millimetres
Width: 336 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
From the ‘Westminster Magazine’, vii. 282 (folding plate).
 ‘The Distressed Financier.’
Lord North, seated at a round table, on which are books, papers, and money-bags, turns to look through his glass at three men (l.), whose beards, noses, and long coats show that they are Jews. One holds an empty money-bag; another, whose coat is ragged, holds out a document. A clerk or secretary at North's elbow tries to draw his attention to a figure (r.) offering a money-bag, who is bearded like a Jew, but has a long snout and the legs and horns of a goat or satyr. Papers on the table are inscribed “Spanish Manifesto” and “Ways and Means 1780”. The Raree-Showman (in the accompanying text) says ". . . Vat is most curious, is, dat my Lord Slumber is broad awake, and dat he is already contriving an excuse for borrowing de moneys at ten per cent". Cf. Walpole, ‘Last Journals’, 1910, ii. 244, who says that 8 per cent, was demanded. For the Spanish Manifesto, presented by the Spanish Ambassador 16 June 1779, declaring that Spain had taken the part of France, see ‘Ann. Reg.’ 1779, pp. 162-4, 359. This was followed by a declaration of the king of Spain, published at Madrid, on 28 June, ibid., 367-86.
 ‘The Generals in America doing nothing, or worse than nothing.’
A man asleep in a chair in front of an open tent (r.), one foot is on a table on which are playing-cards and a punch-bowl. On the ground are wine bottles and a paper “To Sir Wm Howe”. Behind (l.), English soldiers, their arms thrown down, are kneeling to American soldiers in close rank, whose commander holds the striped American flag. Burgoyne, the English general, kneels, holding down the British flag. On the horizon is a line of huts or tents, inscribed Saratoga Camp. See for Howe, BMSat 5405, &c, for Saratoga, BMSat 5469, 5470, 5857.
 ‘Proving that they have done every thing.’
The interior of the House of Commons; the Speaker in his chair, behind a table; members on either side of it, some rising to speak. Lord North (r.) with his arms folded, appears asleep. Behind him a member says “The Southern Expedition is-----”. A member holds out a paper inscribed “Admirls Trials at Portsmouth”. Sir Hugh Palliser having demanded a court martial on Keppel, see BMSat 5536, &c, on Keppel's acquittal, resigned his offices and his seat in Parliament, and demanded to be tried himself, his court martial taking place at Portsmouth on 12 Apr. and following days. A member in a military coat and pigtail queue holds out a paper “I move an Enquiry into”. This is evidently Sir William Howe, who demanded and obtained a committee of the whole House to inquire into the conduct of the war, undertaking to prove (22 Apr.) that “he had not been deficient in consultation or execution . . . .” ‘London Chronicle’, 22-4 Apr. 1779. ‘Parl. Hist.’ xx. 675 ff. A member wearing a plumed helmet is saying, “Justice!
Justice Ld. G. G------e [Germain] is------”. Burgoyne defended himself in Parliament against the attacks made on him, accusing Germain of failing to support him. See ‘London Chronicle’, 20-2 May 1779, and ‘Detail and Conduct of the American War . . .’ 1780. B.M.L., 1447. d. 23. The plumed helmet appears to be intended to indicate Burgoyne's theatrical character and pompous proclamations, see BMSat 5470.
 ‘Jemmy Twitcher Overseer of ye Poor of Greenwich.’
Lord Sandwich (l.), holding up a cane in one hand, faces a deputation of Greenwich pensioners, most of whom are maimed, some being supported on crutches. Their leader, hat in hand, offers Sandwich a paper inscribed “To restore Capt Bailley”; another says, “My Shirts are too Short”; a third, wearing his hat, says “D------n your Beef and Beer”. Behind them is the river, on its farther bank Greenwich Hospital is in flames. A man-of-war without sails is seen behind Sandwich.
The showman explains that Jemmy Twitcher is “beating dem for complaining”, while a ship is in the river instead of at sea. ‘Westminster Mag.’, loc. cit. Captain Thomas Baillie, Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich Hospital, was dismissed by Sandwich for publishing in March 1778 ‘The Case of the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich’, showing great abuses in its administration and management, and implicating Sandwich directly and indirectly. Part of the Hospital was destroyed by fire on 2 Jan. 1779.
 ‘The Duke of Richmond turned Linen-Draper’.
The duke, a yard-measure in his hand, is measuring a sheet or cloth, held out for him by an assistant. Two men, one wearing the ribbon of an order, watch him, seated on a bench (l.). A man (r.) holds up a shirt, looking at Sandwich, who clasps his hands in dismay.
This represents the attempts of Richmond in the House of Lords (16 Feb.-7 June) to secure redress for Captain Baillie, maintaining that his allegations had been established. (Baillie, at the instigation of Sandwich, had been sued for libel by officers of the Hospital, but had won his case.) It had been established (‘inter alia’) that “the pensioners had been exceedingly defrauded in the length of their shirts” and in “the quantity of their sheets”. (Richmond in the House of Lords, 7 June 1779) ‘London Chronicle’, 5-9 June 1779. See also ‘Ann. Reg.’ 1779, pp. 159-61. ‘Parl. Hist.’ xx. 475 ff.
 ‘The Opposition Pudding-makers.’
A number of men are engaged in stirring the contents of a large dish on a table. One empties into it the contents of a keg, two stand over it, each holding a spoon, another (r.) advances with a large sack on his shoulders, another (l.) brings a basket of flowers. Two others, one with a ribbon and star, watch the proceedings. There, says the showman, are “Mr Burke wid the flowers of oratory, and de Millers Rockingham, Shelburne, &c. wid de flour to make de pudding”.
 ‘Cha. Ja Tod abusing ye national Gamblers.’
Four men seated at a gaming-table. The most prominent is Fox (l.) with a fox's head; he holds a dice-box in his r. hand, under his arm is a paper inscribed “Resolves agaist Ld. North”; from his pocket protrude papers inscribed, Speech “agat Sr H. Palliser and Motions agst Lord Sandwich”. The showman says “Dere you see Cha. Ja. Tod abusing de national Gamblers, and dere you see him all night at de gaming-table”. ‘Westminster Mag.’, loc. cit. On 19 Feb. 1779 Fox moved the dismissal of Palliser from the Navy and on 19 Apr. the removal of Lord Sandwich from the Admiralty. ‘Parl. Hist’, xx, pp. 144 ff., 372 ff.
 ‘The Jerseymen treating ye French with Gunpowder tea.’
Three ships flying the French flag are sailing away from a fort (l.), flying the Union flag, from which guns are being fired. A number of ship's boats are attempting to regain the ships, some are foundering. On the horizon are five ships in full sail.
Jersey was attacked on 1 May 1779 by a small French expedition; an attempted landing was beaten off by the troops on the island and the Jersey militia. ‘London Gazette’, 4-8 May; Walpole, ‘Letters’, x. 407-8, 412.
 'The Scotch Presbyterians pulling down the Papists Houses.'
Three men, wearing flat Scots caps, attack a house (r.) with pick-axe, firebrand, &c. On the l. is a bonfire by which are a book, a crucifix, medals; men and women crowd round it to throw their booty on the flames; one man holds a cloth or curtain, another a figure of the Virgin.
This represents with considerable accuracy the No-Popery riots in Scotland in Feb. 1779. See BMSat 5534.
 'The English Papists laughing at ye Protestants.'
Four priests and two monks seated and standing round a circular table. A priest holds a document, “Plan for a Cathedral Sch. at Wolverhampton”; another says “We will make them good Catholics.”
The Catholic Relief Act of May 1778 had been passed without opposition and almost without notice, but a proposal to extend its provisions to Scotland provoked riots and was followed by a progressively increasing No-Popery propaganda which led to the Gordon Riots, see BMSat 5534, &c.
 'A Picture of Irish Resolution.'
Hibernia lies on the ground (l.), as if fainting, her harp beside her; she is supported by two men. Two others stand behind, one of whom, wearing the ribbon of an order, says, “No Manufacture will I wear, but those of Ireland”. Beside Hibernia is a low table on which is spread out a large document: “Resolution of Citizens of Dublin not to wear English Manufacture”. Two men stand over it holding pens; one says, “Tho' we differ in religion, we will unite for our Country”. The other answers, “In that we all Solemnly agree”. On the farther side of a river (r.) is Dublin, church towers and buildings surrounded by trees. The showman says, “de Irish resolving not to trade wid de English, while de English have resolved not to let de Irish have any trade at all”. ‘West. Mag.’, loc. cit.
A great meeting at Dublin in April 1779 adopted a non-importation resolution, pledging all present to abstain from buying British goods which could be made in Ireland; all Ireland followed Dublin. Cf. ‘Walpole Letters’, x. 408, 9 May 1779. The measures for removing the restrictions on Irish trade proposed in Parliament were defeated by pressure from English and Scottish industrial and commercial districts. ‘Ann. Reg.’ 1779, pp. 123-8.
See BMSat 5572.
 ‘Inside View of the Long Room at ye Custom House.’
Clerks seated at desks in a long room under a row of large sash windows, through which are seen the masts of ships. A woman (r.) lies in a fainting condition against a bale of goods. A man stands behind her clasping his hands in distress and saying “Alas, poor Commerce, she's almost dead.” A man standing by, says “Let her die and be d------d, since she can't fill our bellies.” One of the clerks, leaning on his desk says “A good Stomach with nothing to eat is very bad.”
The famous 'Long Room' instead of being filled with people doing business is almost empty. Cf. the print of the Long Room by Rowlandson and Pugin, in the ‘Microcosm of London’, 1808, i. 218. Cf. also BMSat 5535, 5574.
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