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Thomas Dromgoole speaking at a meeting of the Catholic Board in Dublin; represented as Doctor Drum "letting the cat out of the bag". Coloured etching, 1813.

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Credit: Thomas Dromgoole speaking at a meeting of the Catholic Board in Dublin; represented as Doctor Drum "letting the cat out of the bag". Coloured etching, 1813. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark

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Dromgoole, a physician, was voicing anti-Vetoist opinions. "Dromgoole became a prominent member of the Roman Catholic board, which was established in the early nineteenth century to further the cause of Catholic emancipation. An anti-vetoist, he was opposed to the purchase of freedom for the Catholics at the price of giving the government a veto in the appointment of their bishops. In 1813 he made some vigorous speeches on the subject, which materially contributed to the temporary defeat of the Catholic Emancipation Bill. … Dromgoole's staunch defence of the rights of Irish Roman Catholics was regarded as intemperate and sectarian by moderate Catholics and Dublin protestants alike, drawing down a hornets' nest around his ears. Condemned by the Freeman's Journal and lampooned by Dr Brennan in the anti-Catholic Milesian Magazine as 'Dr Drumsnuffle', Dromgoole was also censured by the Catholic board at its meeting of 24 December 1812. This was later rescinded when wider Catholic opinion came out in the doctor's support. Daniel O'Connell confessed privately that he hated Dromgoole ‘most cordially’ … for his role in exacerbating divisions among Catholics on the veto question." (Oxford dictionary of national biography)



Physical description

1 print : etching, with watercolour ; platemark 23.2 x 33.5 cm


Doctor Drum letting the cat out of the bag undesignedly


1. Thomas Dromgoole says "What? take an oath not to seek directly or indirectly the subversion of the Protestant Church! why this would be to abuse the Divine Command. If the Church of England trembles for its safety, it must seek it elsewhere We have no security to give. It shall fall, and nothing but the memory of the mischiefs it has created shall survive. Already the approaching marks of ruin are upon it! no Protestant Parliament over us"
2. Thomas Lawless says "O dear doctor you are letting the cat out of the bag, stop till we get emancipation."
3. Daniel O'Connell says "I wish the learned doctor had kept the string of the bag a little tighter and not let the cat out untill we had obtained Catholic emancipation but the Board will get the cat into the bag again."
4. Randall McDonald says: "Oh doctor the cat is out of the bag - you have ruined us. All's lost now the Orange men may rejoice indeed."
5. A seated man with the 'Derry journal' in his pocket says "I will at our next meeting lay hold of her by the tail if I can and get a resolution passd by this Honourable Board denying what the learned doctor has done."
6. Councellor Finlay says "The learned doctor has just declared the most shocking sentiments, as a Protestant member I protest against his intolerance."
7. O'Gorman says "Ah but which way did she run? perhaps some Orangemen has got hold of her."
8. Denys Scully says "If an Orangeman in Ireland or England has got hold of her I fear we shall not get her again. But all join the chase to try."
9. Major Ryan [?] says: "I fear this Doctor Drum will beat to arms before we are prepared. But we'll muffle the Drum if we can for the present."
10. Edward Hay says: "Hey hey what's all this I am what I was in the Year 1798 Secy."
11. Lord ffrench says: "I as Lord Ten days sight require order"

References note

British Museum, Catalogue of political and personal satires, vol. IX, London 1949, no. 12073

Lettering note

The print contains extensive dialogue between various of the 21 Boardsmen and from spectators. Their speech-bubbles are numbered 1-11


Wellcome Library no. 12207i



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