- Museum number
- Object: Great mercy for the great - Little mercy for the little
Two designs side by side, each with title.
 The trial of Polignac and his colleagues for treason before the Chamber of Peers on the accusation of the Chamber of Deputies. The President (Baron Pasquier) stands on a platform under a canopy, extending his left arm towards three sinister-looking aristocrats (right) who run off to the right, with a fourth partly hidden by the margin. He says: 'Ye have committed Treason and Murder—yet out of respect to your High Order we save your Lives'. One of the four takes snuff with a knowing smile, saying, 'ah! ah we shall make our escape'. On the ground are dead and dying men, women, and a child, killed by the soldiers during the Three Days of July, see BM Satires Nos. 16244-6, &c. (as a result of the Ordinances signed by the Ministers). In the background is a dense crowd, raising their arms and shouting 'Mort'. Above the design: '"Are not the Laws
alike for the poor & Rich—Ney.'['e' crossed out and replaced with 'a' – to read 'Nay']
 One of the trials by Special Commission of country people for machine-breaking, arson, &c., probably the first, that at Winchester, which opened on 18 Dec. The judge (right) stands raising his hat to give the death sentence on three fettered yokels who lean against the bar is great distress: 'Ye have broken a Threshing Machine—and altho' we admit your distress'd condition and that ye have been work'd on by evil persons to do this yet as an example to your Low Order—we sentence you to be Hung'. In the foreground, below the judge, a villainous-looking usher hustles a weeping man who is supporting a fainting woman. Others show distress and make gestures of entreaty. On the left is a group of barristers in consultation. Above the design:
'Mercy is not strain'd. . .' [with the three following lines from the "Merchant of Venice"]. Jan 1 1831
- Production date
Height: 258 millimetres
Width: 367 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', XI, 1954)
 On 22 Dec. 1830 there was a riot in Paris because Polignac and the three other ex-Ministers, de Peyronnet, de Guernon Ranville, and de Chantelauze, had been sentenced, not to death, but to life imprisonment. An allusion was made in their trial to that of Ney before the Chamber of Peers (cf. No. 17134). The public in the Tribunes were noisy in the Jacobin manner. The opinion of the 'Law Magazine' (1831, v, pp. 266 f.) on the verdict was: "They were guilty of gross folly, but legally speaking we should hesitate to find them guilty of crime and the very notion of capital punishment we hold to have been opposed to every sound principle of justice and policy from the first."
 At Winchester there were 300 prisoners, 100 capitally convicted, of whom six were left for execution, two being hanged. The death penalty was generally commuted; in all, three persons were executed and 457 transported. See J. L. and B. Hammond, 'The Village Labourer 1700-1832', 1920, pp. 254 fr. The accused are harshly treated in 'Bell's Life in London', 13 Mar. 1831: three villainous prisoners at the bar are depicted "Betwixt a lawyer and the Devil"; the third of eight verses:
"What though you burnt some paltry stacks!
You did it under strong excitement,
And Counsel, in the face of facts,
May find a flaw in the indictment."
See Nos. 16400, 16405, 16555, 16565, 16569, 16575, 16782.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number