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The rat-trap, or villainy in full bloom:

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The rat-trap, or villainy in full bloom:
  • Description

    It illustrates an advertisement, clipped, printed on both sides, probably a hand-bill, for a book with the above title. A man stands, his right leg in the teeth of a steel rat-trap, holding out in his right hand a paper on which is printed, "He means my Worship. Have I escaped the Gallows and pillory to come to THIS". His left hand is clenched and his head turned in profile to the left. Above his head is printed,

    "If in this vicious Age some Monster shou'd,
    With more than mortal infamy endue'd,
    Count o'er the Crimes that gave him Power and Wealth,
    To Gorge on Rapines, Murders, Frauds, and Stealth;
    To Life's last stage this miscreant I'll pursue,
    And greet the Villain with a Villain's Due."

    This is continued in a contemporary hand,

    "Little villians must submit to fate
    Whilst great ones do enjoy ye world in State'

    "to be heard of at the Rotation Office Litchfield Street, St. Ann's Soho London."
    The title is printed below the woodcut and continues: "containing a Portrait, or family piece of that Worshipful Banditti, emphatically called Trading Justices." 1773 Woodcut


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1773
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 116 millimetres
    • Width: 86 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
    The book, with a dedication to Lord Mansfield dated 30 July 1773, is a scurrilous attack upon the justices of the Litchfield Street Rotation Office, see BMSat 5273, presided over by Saunders Welch, the friend of Dr. Johnson. It is directed more especially against Thomas Bishop, the subject of the woodcut, one of the magistrates at that office, against whom Robert Holloway, the writer, had personal grievances. On the reverse of the sheet is a further advertisement of the book of a libellous character in which Bishop, though not named, is described as "a worshipful Scoundrel, well known in the polite world; who from a Shoeless Vagabond is become the most corpulent Butcher in the Litchfield Street Slaughter-house."
    Holloway was prosecuted and convicted for the publication (B.M.L. 12330. cc. 37). The case, Rex v. Holloway, is cited in 'Barnewall and Alderson', v, p. 595.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 5197 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Satires British 1773 Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number




Image description



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Object reference number: PPA72253

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