- Museum number
- Object: A (key) to the investigation or Iago distanced by odds.
A sequence of eight designs arranged in two rows, each with an inscription, parodying the 'House that Jack built' (cf. No. 13292, &c.).  A handsome woman, Lady Douglas, sits in an armchair beside a window; in her hand is an open book, 'Othello'; she has a cunning smile. Other books are on the floor beside her: 'The Revenge'; 'School for Scandal, Lady Sneerwell by Lady'; 'Double Dealer', and, on a table, 'The Hipocrite'. A picture on the wall depicts 'Judas betraying Christ'. Through the window is seen a village green with a church, &c., evidently Blackheath. Above:
'These are the Words which Nobody spoke.
Indelicate, Vulgar, Obscene, Lacivious [sic], Adulteress, Treasonable
This is the Lady who ne'er dropt a word,
Of the matter in question, not e'en to her Lord,
Untill call'd by the P- to tell all she knew,
When away to the Councill with rapture she flew,
Stung with jealousy's rage which S [Sidney Smith] did provoke,
To swear to the Words which nobody spoke.'
 A servant in livery which resembles a military officer's coat (Bidgood) stands by a table, one end of which only appears. At it the Chancellor (Erskine) and Ellenborough, the Chief Justice, sit facing each other, examining the man. The backs of the chairs are decorated with the Prince's feathers.
'This is the B- covered with lace,
Who swore with precision to both time and place,
In support of the Lady who ne'-er . . . [&c.]'
 A similar scene, with the whole table in view; Bidgood stoops to kiss the book, handed to him by Erskine, before giving his evidence. Erskine is in back view, Ellenborough (left) faces Bidgood. On the farther side of the table are Lord Grenville and Lord Spencer.
'These are Commissioners named by the K-,
To investigate matters and witness's bring,
And primo the B- covered with lace, . . . [&c.]'
 The table, partly visible, is on the extreme right, with only one Commissioner, the Chancellor, who is partly cut off by the right margin. Six servants face the table, three men and three women standing in pairs.
'These are the Servants examined by Law [Ellenborough],
Who thought by a stretch to gain some eclat,
While before the Commissioners, named by the K-, ... [&c.]'
 The table, partly visible, is on the extreme left, with Ellenborough seated full-face, and Erskine facing him; they look towards a lady (Mrs. Lisle) who faces them, seated very erect, as she answers their questions.
'This is the Witness whose answers when pen'd
Without Questions, which drew them, appear'd to portend,
More reproach than she meant, against her good Friend
While the hireling Servants examin'd by Law . . . [&c.]'
 A corner of the House of Commons, showing the Speaker in his chair with the clerks at the table. In front of this stands Whitbread, declaiming to Castlereagh (left) who sits opposite him, the only one of three persons on the front bench who is characterized.
'This is the Senate, who all cried Oh fie,
That the Lady and B- had told a D-d lie,
And were unworthy credit, though Oaths they did try,
And lamented the Witness whose answers . . . [&c.]'
 Lord Ellenborough in wig and gown stands with clenched fists raised, stamping in furious anger. Behind him is (incorrectly) the Woolsack, overturned.
'This is the Chief J- who as the Lords tell,
Swore that the reflections were false! black as H-!,
And tho such bad words no man can use fewer,
In his rage it was fear'd he'd have pistol'd the Brewer [Whitbread],
For moveing the Senate who all cried Oh fie, . . . [&c.]'
 In an ornate arm-chair standing on a dais is the Regent's cocked hat decorated by a triple plume. Under the chair lie numbers of empty wine-bottles. Behind the chair and partly draped over it is a curtain from behind which the Regent peers furtively out.
'This is the Spring that set all in motion,
Inspired with Love and fired with Devotion,
Like my Lord the Chief J- who as the Lords tell, . . . [&c.]'
After the title:
"Who steals my purse, steals trash; t'is something, nothing;
"T'was mine, t'is his; and has been slave to thousands;
"But he that filches from me my good name,
"Robs me of that which not enriches him,
"And makes me poor indeed." ['Othello', III. iii.]
5 April 1813
- Production date
Height: 340 millimetres
Width: 462 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
An illustration of the debate of 17 March, on the Princess of Wales, in which Whitbread attacked the Ministry for a recent examination of Lady Douglas and other witnesses, although the Princess (he said) had been cleared in the inquiry of 1806-7. He denounced the publication in the newspapers, especially the 'Morning Herald', 'organ of Carlton House', of the depositions of 1806, made to the Commissioners here depicted (2-6), which he maintained were perjured. These were especially those of Lady Douglas, see No. 12026, and of Robert Bidgood, who said, 'inter alia', that he had seen in a looking-glass (see No. 12026) the Princess and Captain Manby kissing ('Europ. Mag.' lxiii. 235). He alleged that the evidence of Mrs. (Hester) Lisle ('ibid.', p. 322 ff.), as printed, was misleading by the omission of the questions put to her. He called on the House 'to become the protectors of an innocent, traduced, and defenceless stranger', and moved an Address to the Regent protesting against the publications (the depositions) insulting to the honour of the royal family and offensive to decency and good morals. Castlereagh answered that 'under the mask of defending the Princess ... he had indulged himself in a most personal, improper, illiberal, unfair, and unparliamentary attack on . . . the Prince Regent'. These words on Whitbread's demand were taken down by the Speaker. 'Parl. Deb.' xxv. 141-200; Romilly, 'Memoirs', under date 22 Mar. 1813. The publication of 'the Book', see No. 11990, was followed by the publication of depositions. No. 7 illustrates Ellenborough's speech on 22 Mar., in which he denied Whitbread's allegations that he had taken down Mrs. Lisle's evidence unfairly (on that occasion, Romilly being absent, he had acted as secretary). He said: 'My Lords, I assert that the accusation is as false as hell in every part! ... I will give the lie to such infamous falsehood. . . .' 'Parl. Deb.' xxv. 209. Romilly, secretary to the Commission of 1806, here depicted, emphatically denied that the evidence of Mrs. Lisle was printed improperly or in a way likely to mislead. 'Memoirs', 17 Mar. 1813. He wrote: 'I cannot but wonder at the extraordinary success which has hitherto attended the bold . . . steps which the Princess has taken. The publication of the depositions taken in 1806 would not, I think, fail to destroy her reputation for ever in the opinion of the public; and yet she has repeatedly called for the publication of them.' 'Ibid.', 5 Mar.
The 'key' in the title depicted.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number