- Museum number
- Object: Brixton purgatory.
Six men stand on a treadmill, ascending its revolving and endless stair under a tiled pent-house roof; all hold a horizontal bar. On the extreme left is Theodore Hook, wearing a top-hat, papers project from his pocket: Garbled Accounts; he turns to his neighbour, Cobbett, to say: Botley was a snug thing you Hook'd in the cash with your hogs then drove em to a fine Markett? Cobbett: So did you at Mauritias, you have brought yours to a pretty markett I think! In his pocket are papers: Cobbetts Sermons. Next, Henry Hunt looks over his left shoulder, saying, They may Hunt me from Brixton to Ilchester again, before I will alter my conduct or vince. The papers in his pocket are: Abuses in Ilchester Jail. He partly hides the much smaller Vansittart, who says: I wish I had retired with Sid, I have got enough to buy an Estate. Papers inscribed Exchequer Bill hang from his pocket. Next to him stands Wooler, looking down to say: Ah Van-tromp! what are you doing penance for misscalculations? tell me Wool her? On the extreme right stands George IV, twice as broad as the others and looking to the right. He says: I wish they would remove me to another (Court) yard I shall be ill bring me some Eau de Cologne. Two men sit together on a bench in front of the treadmill, each has a top-hat beside him: a well-dressed middle-aged man (left) puts his left hand on the shoulder of a dwarfish and very ugly man in black who sits clasping a roll of papers inscribed Blackstone. In the former's hat is a paper: Case of James Byrne; beside it is a heap of coins. He asks: Why did you not dine with us at the Eagle, I was in the Chair, you should have been Deputy. The other answers: I was studying Blackstone! I wanted to bother 'en [sic] you know. Beside him is a pamphlet: Palmers Principles of Nature. Next them stands, in profile to the left, a stout flashy-looking jailer in top-hat, long greatcoat, and top-boots; he holds keys and a whip with a long heavy lash, and says: Vell I must say I be rather proud of my set as how they be all Gentlemen; I likes genteel company I be styled corrinthian Tom [see BM Satires 14320] of the Jail. In the background (right) are two men in conversation. One, the Keeper of the prison, says: I assure you we expect to have a great many of the tip tops here; the other: Good luck good luck. After the title:
And they're a'treading, tread, tread, treading,
And they're a'tread, treading for their Sins.
2 December 1822
Had-coloured etching and aquatint
- Production date
Height: 208 millimetres
Width: 310 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', X, 1952)
Folding plate from a book, probably a monthly magazine.
The Treadmill or 'Discipline Mill', invented by William Cubitt of Ipswich, was installed under sheds in the exercise yards in Brixton Prison. See Gent. Mag., 1822, ii. 9-11 pl., (July), and Nos. 14403, 14495. Hook, who had been Accountant-General and Treasurer of Mauritius, with a complete ignorance of accounts, was saddled with a heavy deficit, and after prolonged Treasury investigation was imprisoned on a civil suit from Aug. 1823 to May 1825. Hunt's release from Ilchester Jail (see No. 14187) on 20 Oct. 1822, was received with carefully organized rejoicings. Sidmouth, Home Secretary, resigned in Jan. 1822, Vansittart, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Jan. 1823. For Wooler (a portrait, not the usual 'Black Dwarf) see No. 12988. The chairman at the dinner to Byrne, see No. 14391, was Mr. Parkins. His companion, though not unlike caricatures of Wooller, may be Carlile; the book, a Deistic manifesto by Elihu Palmer, was legally a 'blasphemous libel': Carlile was convicted for publishing it, see Nos. 13318, 13549. Cobbett's Sermons appeared monthly, 1821-2; he is accused of bilking his creditors, see No. 12878.
The verse at the bottom of this satire was a very popular street-ballad on 'fam'd Brixton Mill', published by Catnach. See Hindley, Life and Times of James Catnach, 1878, pp. 138-40. See an illustrated penny broadside by Catnach, The Tread-Mill, dated Nov. 15th [? 1822], B.M.L. 1875. d. 7/8.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number