- Museum number
- Object: The political mirror or an exhibition of ministers for April 1782.
Members of the old Ministry (right) falling into a pit, clutched by demons, while supporters of the new Ministry (left) watch the spectacle. Britannia with her shield and spear sits in the foreground (left) saying "They would have ruined me if they had staid in power". In the air (right) Bute, in Highland dress, is about to fall from the back of a witch on whom he has been riding. She is riding on a broom and is heading downwards towards the pit in which North and others are being engulfed. To her leg is tied a bag inscribed "Ill gotten pelf" . Bute wears a large jack-boot, and his Garter ribbon; his riding whip falls from his hand. Above this couple is inscribed on a label "England's Evil Genius unhorsed or the downfall of Witchcraft". Truth (left), a winged and naked woman in the clouds, directs the rays from a circular disk inscribed "The Mirror of Truth" on to the ex-Ministers.
The figures, left to right, are Thurlow the Lord Chancellor in profile to the right, standing behind Britannia holding a book. He is saying, "England shall never be wronged whilst a Thurlow lives", showing how little the artist knew of the political situation, since George III had insisted on retaining him as Chancellor from the old Administration, cf. BMSat 5987. Next stands General Conway, in military dress, saying, "Your War with America I all-ways condemned". Behind him stands a judge saying, "Your whole proceedings were contrary to Equity & Justice"; he is Lord Camden, President of the Council in the new Ministry. Next stands Col. Barré, in military dress, holding a document inscribed "Bill for the Examination of Accounts, and saying Your Army expenditures have been enormous & Shameful"; an allusion to Barré's speech on 26 Apr. on 'Army Extraordinaries', see 'Parl. Hist.' xxii. 1344-5. Burke, in the attitude of an orator, right hand extended, left pointing upwards, is saying "You have denied God deceived your King plundered your [blank]". The Duke of Richmond, wearing a star, says, "Their duplicity as Ministers is beyond parrallel". Rockingham turns towards Richmond saying "Honest Yorkshire will be true to the last". (He was Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding.) Next, and the most prominent of the new Ministry, is Charles Fox, holding a document inscribed "Petition for redress of Grievances", and saying "Your Crimes stink stronger than all the Foxes in England". Two small figures stand behind: one (?Wilkes) says, "Your tax on Women Servants fills our Streets with Whores"; the other says, "Your partiality in the house has ruined you"; the words suggest George Byng, M.P. for Middlesex, see Wraxall, 'Memoirs', 1884, ii. 90 ff.
The remaining figures are those of the old Ministry: on the brink of the abyss and hurrying towards it is Sandwich holding a violin in his left hand; a label inscribed "Catches & Glees" hangs from his pocket, and he is saying "Damn the Navy give me a Whore and a Bottle" (cf. BMSat 5961). Inside the pit appear the head and shoulders of a demon, he holds up a bottle in one hand, a glass in the other, saying to Sandwich "Wellcome my dear Lord to your old. Friend". Next Sandwich, about to fall over and covering his face with his hands, is Rigby, saying "This is a damn'd Rigg by the Bye". North is falling backwards into the pit, he holds a paper inscribed "Taxes on Soap, Salt and Small Beer" and is saying "I died of an Apoplexy and made no Will". Behind him stands Mansfield, in a furred gown, stooping and covering his face, saying, "This Truth is a most cruel Libel on us all" (an allusion to Mansfield's unpopular directions to the jury in libel trials (1770) arising out of the publication of Junius's 'Letter to the King'). In front of Mansfield the head and shoulders of another man are visible. Lord George Germain, falling backwards, is being clutched round the body by a demon who says "Ah Cousin Germain I have got you fast". These unfortunates are in the full rays of 'The Mirror of Truth'. Black clouds (right) are a background for Bute and the witch, the sun (left) appearing from clouds directs its rays on the new Ministry. April 1782
- Production date
Height: 164 millimetres
Width: 237 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
Perhaps the frontispiece to the April number of a periodical, in which case the date of publication would be 1 May. It seems to have been folded to fit a book.
For North's unpopular budget proposals see BMSat 5964, &c. Cf. BMSat 5970, 5984.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number