- Museum number
- Object: Don Dismallo running the literary gantlet.
Burke, stripped to the waist and wearing a fool's cap is flogged and otherwise threatened by those who had written against his 'Reflections', see BMSat 7675, &c.; they are identified by names etched below them. He runs in profile to the right, his hands shackled and clasped in supplication, and is dressed in the fringed trousers, decorated with large buttons, of the clown or fool. Behind him (left) are three persons with scourges: on the extreme left 'Miss H. M. W-----s' [Helen Maria Williams] stands in profile to the right, saying, "Though I decline shivering lances in this glorious cause I think I made him feel the full force of a Cat-o-nine tails!" She stands passively, to indicate that she had not directly attacked Burke, but is an ardent supporter of the French Revolution. Next her stands 'Dr P------e' (Price), urging on a woman who is violently scourging Burke; he says, "Cut the Jesuitical Monster in pieces! cut him to the bone! Oh, what a glorious Sacrifice to true religion and the rights of Humanity". Price's famous sermon, see BMSat 7629, &c, had moved Burke to write his book. 'Mrs B------d' (Barbauld) answers, "Let me alone, Doctor for exertion in this business; the most incorrigible Urchin in my School never felt from my hands what this Assassin of Liberty shall now feel!"
Burke, fleeing from Mrs. Barbauld, appeals to Sheridan, saying, "For God's sake Sherry be merciful". Sheridan ('S------n'), standing in profile to the left, and holding a scourge, answers, "I'll give you a receipt in full by and by, old Loyola" (cf. BMSat 6026). Beside Sheridan stands Justice, holding her sword and scales, the three feathers in her helmet resembling those of the Prince of Wales. Next, turning her back on Burke, walks Liberty, holding the staff and cap of 'Liberty', arm-in-arm with an aged and ragged man, bald with a long beard and bare-legged, who carries a banner divided into four quarters in which are scenes relating to the taking of the Bastille. (He appears to be the aged prisoner (Whyte) who was found there, depicted in BMSat 7550. [He is identified by Mr. Hawkins as Lord George Gordon, actually imprisoned in Newgate for ('inter alia') a libel on Marie Antoinette. Gordon, however, is never depicted as aged and ragged; the absence of an engraved name also makes the identification improbable.])  Above is the attack on the (intact) fortress.  Next, two soldiers, one with a torch, discover an aged man seated chained in a dungeon.  Below is a mob carrying two heads on pikes, a body hangs from a gibbet.  Next is a procession in a crowded amphitheatre, representing the fête of the Fédération on the first anniversary of the fall of the Bastille (cf. BMSat 7661). On the extreme right, with raised scourge, stands 'Mrs M------y G------m' (Macaulay Graham), looking at Burke. She says,
"Tickle may do as he pleases with the pen, but I am determined to tickle to some tune with this instrument in my hands! The hypocrisy of Cromwell was nothing to this turn a bout!" She wrote (anonymously) 'Observations on the Reflections of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke on the Revolution in France, in a Letter to the Earl of Stanhope'. (For her marriage to Graham see BMSat 5598.) Between her and the Bastille prisoner stands 'H-----e T------ke'
(Horne Tooke), holding a scourge and turning his head in profile to the left. He says, "Cromwell, madam, was a Saint, when compared with this Literary Lucifer." The three literary ladies wear tricolour ribbons or favours. 1 December 1790
- Production date
Height: 325 millimetres
Width: 603 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
An anonymous 'Letter to . . . Burke. By a Member of the Revolution Society', 1790 is perhaps here attributed to Horne Tooke. Walpole writes, 20 Dec. 1790, Burke's 'foes show how deeply they are wounded by their abusive pamphlets. Their Amazonian allies, headed by Kate Macaulay and the virago Barbauld, whom Mr. Burke calls our poissardes, spit their rage at eighteenpence a head . . .'. 'Letters', xiv. 345. Mrs. Barbauld's pamphlet does not appear in her 'Works' or in the B.M.L. Catalogue under her name. Burke was also answered by Mrs. Wollstonecraft's 'Vindication of the Rights of Man. 1790'.
Reproduced, 'Social England', ed. Traill, 1904, v. 614.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2008 Mar-Jun, London, National Portrait Gallery, 'Brilliant Women...'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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