Clearing away the rubbish of Old Drury

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Charles Williams
Clearing away the rubbish of Old Drury
Peel 1951
Formerly owned by Sir Robert Peel.

Lettered "Pubd Octr 28th 1811 by Walker & Knight N° 7 Cornhill."


Irish labourers clear away bricks and rubbish from the foundations of Drury Lane Theatre (burnt down, 24 Feb. 1809). In the foreground Sheridan lies on his back, with old bricks, in a wheelbarrow pushed by Whitbread, dressed as a labourer, who says: "Now that we have got rid of all the wash and grains we'll brew some fresh Intire." Two tankards of 'Whitbreads Intire' lie beside him. Sheridan flourishes a document inscribed '20'000' and exclaims: "Hope told a flattering Tale! Dam that Brewer and his Intire, he has wash'd me out with only 20'000. but I Know how to Palaver them over and get in again." A labourer (right) leans on his spade watching the barrow; he says: "By Jasus you've a rare load there sure enough some of the Ould Foundation I parceave!" In the middle distance two other barrows are being pushed in the same direction; in the first Tom Sheridan sits among bricks holding up an open book: 'Joe Miller Jests'. He has a paper inscribed '12.000'. The man pushing says: "Be aisy my dear Tommy I'll not spill ye becase ye are a chip of the ould block." He is followed by a barrow in which sprawls a tragedy queen holding up a dagger and a goblet, with a feathered helmet and baton in her lap. The man pushing says: "Arrah now don't make sich a bodderation han't you got all the Tinsel wid you my Jewel." The scene is bounded by a high irregular hoarding in front of which labourers are working. Behind this is a brick wall with windows, the corner inscribed 'Vinegar Yard'.

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