- Museum number
- Object: Bruin in his boat,-or-The Manager in Distress.-
Melville, protected by Justice, stands on the 'Rock of Innocence' (l.) firing two cannon at a man-of-war, 'The Impeachment', which has already foundered on the 'Rocks of Honor and Justice'. In the foreground (l.) a bear, Whitbread (not Fox as Wright and Evans say), stands despairingly in his boat which is about to be swamped. It is in the form of a shallow tub (a brewing utensil), and is 'The Vanity-Cooler'. A pennant, 'Vanity', streams from the mast. The tattered sail is formed of papers patched together and inscribed 'Ist Report' ['. . . 2nd', '3d', &c] to '10th Report'. Whitbread's broken oar, inscribed 'Popular Clamour', falls from his paw. The boat will founder despite the efforts of three winds to fill the sail and take it into calmer water. These are heads with butterfly wings (l.) and are (l. to r.) Stanhope, Wilberforce, and Derby. Melville, in profile to the right., a stalwart figure in Highland dress with thistles in his feathered bonnet, holds a flaming torch in each hand, one 'Truth', the other 'Reason', and puts them to the touch-holes of two cannon, 'Adam' and 'Plomer'. He is lit by rays which descend from behind a swirling cloud, taking the form of wings, from which two arms emerge: in the r. hand is a pair of scales inscribed 'Impartiality'; a paper inscribed 'Integrity' outweighs 'Defamation'; on the left arm is a shield inscribed 'Justice' which is held over Melville. The blasts from the cannon are striking the battered ship; she heels over, still flying a tattered tricolour flag of 'Faction' [repeated thrice]. Two of the crew are in the water: Sidmouth, in the foreground (r.), clings to a 'Broad-Bottomd Goose-Coop' [cf. BMSat 10530], from which three cackling geese thrust their heads; it has a (tricolour) label inscribed (?) 'C. J Fox [scored through] Downing . . . [Street]'. Behind him Lauderdale's head and arms emerge from a wave, desperately trying to reach a floating barrel of 'East India Roupees'. In the foreground the waves are menacing; toward the horizon (r.) the sea is calm. A sun inscribed 'Posterity' is rising and irradiates the sky; other rightays descend from a point behind a cloud, forming a pyramid whose base is the irradiated horizon; across this is the word 'Pitt' in large letters. After the title:
'"So - shall my little Bark attendant sail,
"Pursue the Triumph, and partake the Gale!" - ' 20 June 1806
- Production date
Height: 305 millimetres
Width: 388 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
Melville's impeachment, managed by Whitbread, began on 29 Apr.; sentence was pronounced on 12 June. Though the voting was on party lines he was acquitted by the votes of from 77 to 59 peers, on all ten charges. Stanhope alone voted guilty on all ten; others varied from eight to one. His counsel were Adam, Plomer, and Hobhouse. The 'public clamour', intense in 1805, had abated; owing to a prohibition of the publication of proceedings during the trial the public lost interest. Whitbread's long speech was thought to show too much anxiety to display his own wit and eloquence. Lady Bessborough notes: 'justice reach'd him at the height of his power and surrounded bv his friends [in 1805], and that same even handed justice spar'd him at the bar of Westminster Hall, tho' surrounded by his enemies, and those enemies become all powerful.' 'Corr. of Lord G. L. Gower', 1916, ii. 190, 201. The acquittal was thus a blow to the Ministry, as the attack had been a blow to Pitt. For the Tenth Report and the proceedings of 1805 see BMSat 10377, &c. Lauderdale is trying to secure the Governor-Generalship of India; his appointment, after a long struggle by Fox, was vetoed by the East India Directors. See 'H.M.C., Dropmore MSS.' viii. 83 f., 160, 197-200, 206, and BMSat 10575. The title is an allusion to Gay's fable, 'The Bear in a Boat', where the clumsy conceited bear is wrecked through his vanity in deeming himself capable of managing a boat: 'The self-deem'd Machiavel at large.' Cf. BMSat 5541 where the bear is Lord North. For the impeachment see 'Ann. Reg.', 1806, pp. 109-29; Furber, 'Henry Dundas', 1931, pp. 163-71; Lovat Fraser, 'Henry Dundas', 1916, pp. 100-10 (where Canning's squib on Whitbread's vain-glorious language is quoted); C. Matheson, 'Life of Henry Dundas', 1933, pp. 365 ff., and BMSats 10533, 10541, 10565, 10577, 10578, 10579, 10580, 10584, 10764.
Grego, 'Gillray', pp. 334-5. Wright and Evans, No. 320. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number