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- Object: The political rat catcher or Jack Renegado's new patent trap's
The rat-catcher sits in the doorway of a bare, ramshackle room, on the floor of which are large steel traps and rats, some already caught. He is John Robinson, Secretary to the Treasury under North, who managed elections for the Government, issuing the money from the Treasury. The rats have human bodies with rat's heads, and crawl over the floor on their hands and knees. One rat is caught by the arm in a trap inscribed 'Buck Hounds', though the place of Master of the Buck Hounds had disappeared with the passing of Burke's Bill of Economical Reform. In the foreground a rat in naval uniform is caught by the tail in a trap inscribed 'Baronet'; he is crawling towards another trap, 'Seat in ye new Parlt'. The three other rats are advancing to traps inscribed respectively, 'Private Pension, Peerage, Place 1000 a Yr'.
On the wall hangs a torn and unframed portrait completely covered by an enormous cobweb, inscribed 'William 3d.' In contrast to this is a framed whole length portrait of Charles I, his head irradiated, inscribed 'Sanct. Carol. Pri.' Next it (right) hangs a ragged document inscribed 'Magna Chart[a] In fine preservation'. Over the door (left) the lower part of a portrait inscribed 'Robinson Crusoe' is visible, showing the identity of Robinson who sits beneath it. Beneath the design is inscribed:
'Thus when Renegado sees a Rat
In the traps in the morning taken
With pleasure he goes Master Pit to pat
And swears he will save his Bacon' 27 February 1784
- Production date
Height: 246 millimetres
Width: 351 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
For the part taken by Robinson in giving evidence to Pitt to convince him that a majority could be secured, and in the plans for the elections to be held in 1784, see 'Parliamentary Papers of John Robinson, 1774-1784', ed. W. T. Laprade, 1922. Robinson's former post as Treasury Secretary was then held by George Rose, who had succeeded Sheridan on the fall of the Coalition.
Those who left the Opposition to vote with the Ministry before the dissolution of 24 March were known as 'Robinson's rats'. On 10 Feb. the 'Morning Post' printed across two columns a woodcut of six rats, beneath which was 'Jack Robinson' as the heading to a list of twenty-three names, printed in full, without comment. This was perhaps the inspiration of this print, as well as of the more famous one by Rowlandson, see BMSat 6431. See also BMSat 6428, 6485, 6603, 6775. For the Treasury rat-catcher cf. BMSat 5099 (1773).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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