Collection online

Parliamentary-reform,-or-opposition-rats, leaving the house they had udermined.

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Parliamentary-reform,-or-opposition-rats, leaving the house they had udermined.
  • Description

    Through the folding doors of the House of Commons rats are seen fleeing from the Opposition benches and leaping from the gallery above. In the foreground, scampering down steps leading to the lobby, are rats with human faces: Fox and 'Grey' (collar so inscribed) are first, followed by Sheridan and Erskine and little M. A. Taylor. The Speaker and the two Clerks look astounded. Pitt is speaking; he holds a paper: 'Rights of Parliamt'. Next him on the front bench sits the bulky Dundas in Highland dress, and next Dundas the tiny Wilberforce. These three, though on a small scale, are fully characterized. Behind them are the serried ranks of the Government, holding up their hands in astonishment, as do others in the gallery. A few members of the Opposition, not transformed into rats, stand behind the Speaker's chair (right). The wall of the House is damaged by rats, some of whom are escaping through holes they have made. On the wall beside the door (left) are bills: 'Virtue Triumphant or the Expulsion of Vice and Opposition Silenced.' 28 May 1797
    Hand-coloured etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1797
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 355 millimetres
    • Width: 268 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title, text within image and production details: 'Js Gy d & fect / Pubd May 28th 1797. by H Humphrey 27 St James's Street'.
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
    A satire on the secession of the leaders of the Opposition from Parliament. In the debate on Grey's motion for Reform (defeated by 256 to 91) Fox announced his intention of partially seceding from Parliament, 'after seeing the conduct of this House, after seeing them give the ministers their confidence and support, upon convicted failure, imposition and incapacity , . . .'. 'Parl. Hist.' xxxiii. 732 (26 May). See Fox, 'Memorials and Corr.' iii. 136, 138, 144-5, 273; Holland, 'Memoirs of the Whig Party', i. 84-90, 101 f., 143; 'Lady Holland's Journal', i. 148 f.; and BMSats 9020, 9022, 9023, 9024, 9040, 9047, 9204, 9216, 9217, 9263, 9267, 9340, 9343, 9371, 9375, 9401, 9434, 9508, 9511, 9515, 9548, 9549.
    Grego, 'Gillray', p. 227, Wright and Evans, No. 172. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 9018 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat).1797  Hand-coloured etching

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat).1797 Hand-coloured etching

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: PPA143061

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help