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A courtroom in which a chaplain sits in the middle of a group of councillors, three of whom are linked to a chain pulled by the devil with the head of a bull; below, two defendants receive a subpoena. Etching, 1772.

  • Townshend, George Townshend, Marquis, 1724-1807.
[February 1772?]
  • Pictures

About this work


Even Mary Dorothy George in the British Museum catalogue says "Many of the allusions are obscure", interpreting it as a print that "appears to be a general attack on the House of Commons who are pilloried as members of a corrupt corporation". A panel of eleven aldermen or similar, including in the middle a man wearing a black gown and bands (in Holy Orders?), sit behind a parapet; three of them are chained to a flying bull-headed devil, possibly representing the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Fletcher Norton. They stand above above two men, who are receiving a subpoena from another man. One of the two defendants retorts 'but my dam'd accounts will undo us': according to the British Museum catalogue he may be Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland. A man beside him (unidentified) says 'Defend I say, defend ah Ben ha ha ha'. To the right sits a small man or boy who writes down the proceedings. To the left another man, holding a sack beneath one arm, stands on the table holding out a paper inscribed: 'subpoenys in Chancery for defending the burgesses etc.' A pile of books, and ink pot and quills and another tied sack sit on the table. In front of the table to the left stand two men, one with a walking stick, the other holding an eyeglass to view the proceedings as he stands on a piece of paper inscribed 'XXXIX articles': they are identified in the British Museum catalogue as two sons of Henry Fox: Charles James Fox (here addressed as "Brother Charles") and his brother Stephen. On the right another man enters with his arms raised, a bell at his feet, claiming to be inspired by Cato. Behind him stands a man holding a mace who retorts 'Ah Mr Cato your oratory is in vain that power alass is no more'. Another figure walks out of the picture to the right with the words 'Ha ha ha by by Sammey'


[London?], [February 1772?]

Physical description

1 print : etching ; platemark 21.5 x 33.7 cm


A corporation with their chaplain in embrio, taken by surprise.


[State with a man saying "Ha ha ha by by Sammey" in the bottom right corner].

Creator/production credits

"The design is in the manner of caricatures by Lord Townshend" (British Museum, loc. cit.)

References note

British Museum, Catalogue of political and personal satires, vol. V, London 1935, no. 4944

Lettering note

There are numerous speech bubbles expressing the opinions of the councillors and other figures


Wellcome Library no. 581184i



  • English

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