- Museum number
- Object: The champion of Westminster. defending the people from ministerial imps, & reptiles.
Burdett, in quasi-Roman dress, stands with legs astride, raising a sword of flame with which he threatens a swarm of monsters (right) on whom he directs the beam of a dark-lantern inscribed 'Truth'. His head is turned in profile to the right, and he tramples on a serpent with a barbed tail which spits flame at him and is inscribed 'Corruption'. He wears a corslet inscribed 'Independence Honor Magna Charta' and a cap inscribed 'Liberty'. The defeated monsters are descending into a flaming pit: 'The Pit of Infamy'. The flame of the sword is inscribed: 'Hone', 'Kinnaird', 'Wood', 'Wooller', 'Cartwright', 'Thorp', 'Waithman'. The two most prominent imps are Hunt and Maxwell, both just defeated at Westminster. Hunt has a large head wearing a cap of 'Folley', a body covered by the words 'PERGERY HUNTer', webbed wings inscribed 'Cowardice' and 'Treachery', a barbed tail; in one hand is a dagger inscribed 'Blood', in the other a bag of 'Government Pay'. Two small serpentine creatures fly near him; one is 'Castles', the other 'Oliver'. Below Hunt is Maxwell, floating through the air with scaly legs; he wears naval uniform, with a black shade over his eye as in No. 12099, and grins slyly at Burdett holding out a bottle inscribed 'Max' [i.e. gin], and holding a sack of 'Government Pay' under his left arm; between his legs is a sword. A monster wearing a judge's wig and bands consists of an owl's head with ass's ears and webbed wings, and is labelled 'Hell-Borough', indicating Ellenborough. Below Maxwell is Sir William Curtis, dressed as a sailor as in No. 11353, &c. He steps into the pit with a melancholy expression, a little 'blue devil' (cf. No. 8745) seated on his shoulder. His paunch is inscribed 'Blubber' and under his right arm are a long spoon and a large bag: 'M. T. [empty] Bag'. Two other creatures are sinking into the pit: a goblin with limbs inscribed 'Debauchery', 'Gluttony', and 'Drunkenness', and a large serpent with a fantastic head, its body inscribed 'Cruelty Luxury Pride Indolence Malice'. The flames of the pit are surrounded with heavy clouds above which is a sun inscribed 'Royal Favor' and centred by an eye.
On the left, a pendant to the pit and behind Burdett, are the people in 'The Land of Misery and Oppression' whom he is defending. They are grouped under the wide trunk of a decaying tree inscribed: 'The Withered Oak Englnd [sic] the Pride & Glory of the World'. Beside it stands an aged and emaciated man, while a handsome young sailor leans against it, wearing tattered clothes and a hat with a ribbon inscribed 'Victory', and is probably a self-portrait of the artist. On his left hand a ship is tattooed. Crouching on the ground are two women, three children, one dying of 'Starvation', and a man, all in despair. In the background are the masts of a ship with a broom at the mast-head, signifying that she is for sale.
7 July 1818
- Production date
Height: 253 millimetres
Width: 389 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
A satire primarily on the elections in Westminster, see No. 12999, &c., and the City, with a tribute to the two radical journalists Hone and Wooler. In the City, Waithman (cf. No. 13024) and Wood, the radicals defeated in 1812, were returned, the sensation of the election being the defeat of Curtis by Alderman Thorpe, while Atkins, also a Tory M.P. for the City in the last parliament, was defeated also, see 'Greville Memoirs', 1938, i. 55 f., the result being the return of four new City M.P.'s, and a triumph for the Reformers. The results are correctly given in No. 13006. The print is in the interests of the Westminster Committee, which had worked 'to fight up Burdett to the popularity he had lost' and had been abused by Hunt and Cobbett as a rump of Burdett's personal followers. Wallas, 'Life of Place', p. 129. Hunt was assailed on the hustings as a colleague of Oliver the spy. The print illustrates the bitter antagonism between Burdett and Hunt and the extremists, who are here distinguished from Hone and Wooler. A revival of trade had relieved distress (see No. 12779) to a considerable extent.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number