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- Object: A would-be Cromwell, Tooke Horne mad at - tempting to disperse the short parliament Decr 1790
A scene in the House of Commons: Horne Tooke (half length) rises through the floor in front of the table holding a torch and a dark-lantern. The table is covered by a large package, inscribed 'Petition of Horne Tooke', which is the centre of an explosion (fired by Tooke's torch) indicated by rays extending over the design in all directions, and blowing off the hat and wig of the Speaker (Addington), who calls out "Order". These rays are inscribed (left) 'Cattle', 'Riffraff', 'Hirelings', (right) 'Oxen', 'Asses', 'Creatures'. Pitt (left) stands legs astride, his arms extended, haughtily deprecating the confusion, his head thrown back with a contemptuous expression. Lord Hood, crouching on the ground, looks through his legs, as if taking cover. Pepper Arden has risen behind Pitt, and says, "Truth is a libel". On the opposite side of the House Sheridan lies prone, as if he had fallen in an attempt to escape; he turns his head to say, "This place is become quite a School for Scandal". Fox, struck by the full force of the explosion, falls backwards. Behind sits Burgoyne, leaning forward and saying "Encore! Encore!" Beneath the design is etched:
'A few days since Margaret Nicholson who had found means to escape from her confinement in the disguise of an excommunicated parson procured admission in to the H--- of C--- and concealed herself under the mace with a dark lanthorn in her pocket, having by stealth laid what appeared a petition upon the table but which proved to be a vast bundle of combustibles, these from her concealment she Took an opportunity to set on fire which going off, produced a most alarming explosion but fortunately did no other mischief than that of overturning several members on both sides of the house and leaving a most horrible stink, from which last circumstance and her appearing like a parson many of the country gentlemen as she passed them pronounced her to be the devil, indeed some of them declared that they distinctly saw her tail through a rent in her breeches.' 18 December 1790.
- Production date
Height: 248 millimetres
Width: 371 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
Horne Tooke, having appeared as a candidate at the Westminster election, see BMSat 7638, &c, petitioned Parliament against the return of Fox and Hood, attacking the House of Commons as not fairly elected and therefore having 'a bias and interest against a fair and real representation of the people'. The petition was presented by Martin on 9 Dec, and was denounced as 'an outrage upon decency' and libellous. Pitt admitted this, but thought it would be 'descending too low' to notice its character at all. As an election petition it was, with the approval of Pitt and Fox, referred to a committee. 'Parl. Hist.' xxviii. 921-30. Stephens, 'Memoirs of Tooke', 1813, ii. 90 ff. See BMSats 7825, 7892. For Margaret Nicholson see BMSat 6973, &c.
- Not on display
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