- Museum number
- Object: "The damnable Association;" or, the infernal inquisition of black friars
Illustration in the newspaper 'A slap at slop', second edition. Heading, printed from three blocks, to the second page; three scenes in a continuous design.
 Truth, holding her mirror, stands with her arms chained to a horizontal beam, while Stoddart (1.), wearing a Jesuit's biretta, with a (tricolour) cockade denoting the ex-Jacobin, pulls at a lever to apply torture. A masked bishop, as Grand Inquisitor, stands rigidly (r.). The vaulted stone cell is lit by a hanging slop-pail, Slop's Press [see No. 14207], with rays inscribed Darkness Visible. Liberty, holding her staff, hangs by one wrist, chained to the roof; a large weight marked by a crown is tied to her ankles.
 Three inquisitors, all wearing the biretta of a Jesuit, demolish a printing-press which has been set on fire. Two wield axes, one inscribed Sharp (to indicate J. B. Sharpe, an hon. sec. of the Association, said to have been twice bankrupt); the third, a masked bishop, uses a mallet.
 More inquisitors burn caricatures and pamphlets in a large fire blazing on the stone flags of a cell like that in , a demon capering joyfully in the foreground. A grotesquely imbecile inquisitor, holding an axe, presides (r.) in a chair raised on a pedestal. Sewell (1.), with his withered leg (see No. 14223), holds No. 13790 spiked on a pitchfork; a large brief-bag is in his 1. hand. Wellington rams a pamphlet, House Jack Built [No. 13292, &c], into the flames on the point of a huge cross-hilted sword. The King's booted legs (cf. No. 14220) are depicted on another print. Curtis, grossly bloated, faces the fire holding a knife and fork. Two decadent peers and a man in a tall fool's cap complete the group. The cell is lit by a large crown suspended from the roof; its rays are Places, Pensions, Preferments, Reversions, Promotions, Translations [of bishops], Rank, Public Money. 2 August 1821
- Production date
Height: 114 millimetres
Width: 357 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', X, 1952)
The Constitutional Association ('Bridge Street Gang'), a subscription society, was founded Dec. 1820, to be a political counterpart of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, for undertaking Press Prosecutions, in view of the inactivity of the Law Officers, and on the ground that while former libels were only to drive a Minister from office, the current ones aimed at the dethronement of the King and overthrow of the Constitution. It was attacked in Parliament, 3 July, on a motion by S. Whitbread, who compared it with 'the inquisition of Spain: it was nothing more than an inquisition on the press'. Pari. Deb., N.S., v. i486 ff. Thelwall called it 'a detestable self-constituted inquisition'. Champion, 6 May 1821. The Times became hostile, and Grand Juries soon defeated the discredited Association by throwing out the indictments which it proposed. See W. H. Wickwar, The Struggle for the Freedom of the Press, 1819-1832, 1928, pp. 181 ff. See Nos. 14193, 14194.
A pencil sketch (signed) for Curtis is in the B.M., 1891,1117.35, verso (Binyon, i. 285, P&D pressmark 199.c.1/35 rev. Cf. No. 14320).
For Dorothy George's account of the publication history of the woodcuts by George Cruikshank in A Slap at Slop and the Bridge Street Gang (BM Satires 14207-14232), see 1870,1008.1321.1.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number