- Museum number
- Object: The devil among the bankers-or-Rook shooting on a large scale-
Huntsmen, country squires, mounted on asses, gallop wildly to the edge of a cliff in pursuit of 'rooks', birds with paper-money attached to wings and back. They ride over men, women, and children, prostrate and emaciated, one of whom has a makeshift banner inscribed Starving. The foremost rider (left) leaps into space from the cliff, shouting Forward! Forward! Holla! Ho! The next shouts Ministers for ever Huzza! The third: Tally ho!!—No Rags; high Rents in hard Gold for ever Huzza! The fourth blows a horn. The fifth shouts Yoix! Yoix!!! No Rags. The sixth: Forward my boys! Down with the Rag Rooks! Ministers for ever. The fleeing rooks, country bankers, cry I promise to pay or Caw Caw. Some have wings made of £ one notes. One packet of notes has a rook's head, and notes for wings and tail.
At the base of the cliffs and in the foreground another contingent advances against the rooks, led by the bulky Cobbett, who holds a huge gridiron; his followers are armed irregulars, all wearing fool's caps decorated with bells. Cobbett tramples upon two rooks; he pushes forward a man raising a battle-axe to smite down a wounded bird with a quasi-human face, which looks up to say: I Promise to pay!! I promise to pay. Cobbett says to his Fool: Finish him up my Lord. Thats your sort [see BM Satires 8073] Down with the Rag Rooks! Ministers for ever!—at 'em again!—Glorious work my boys!! 'My Lord' says to the rook: Thou shalt deceive the Nations No more. A second speech floats backwards from Cobbett's head: "God I thank thee thou hast delivered them into my hands." At his feet is an inkstand in which are stuck two pens and a dagger. Three dupes advance behind him. One flourishes a sabre and holds a large bayoneted pistol, saying, No Promises! Down with the Ready D—n your promises—pay at once! Beside him a man kneels aiming a blunderbuss; he says: No farther use for these Vermin Down with 'em. The third aims a crossbow, saying, a bit of Gold in every man's pocket say I. Behind him a man draws a long-bow, saying, No Worthless Rags for me! One of the birds is transfixed by an arrow. These 'fools' are followed by a disorderly mob of savage ragamuffins armed with pikes and with a tricolour cap of Liberty on a pole. Their leader has a spiked bludgeon and shouts: Radical Reform now's the time Boys, Cobbett for ever—. Others shout: Ministers for ever!! Down with the Rag Rooks!; No Rags; Liberty! Liberty! No Rags. Below the design:
Through the Strand I took my way,
Loitering on a Winter's day,
Soon the place my footsteps tread
Where a Tyrant lost his head;
Onward then my course I try,
Musing on the times gone by,
To where St Margaret's stands, Confest
A blister on a Beauty's breast.
There a wild rout invades my ears
Full of strange sounds & stranger fears;
Loud & more loud the Uproar grows
Wilder than ought that Bedlam knows,
"Halloo! Hallo! Tally O! Tally O!"
Onward to Heaven or Hell we go"
Down with the Rooks, & Down with the Rags"
Up with the Guineas & hard Money bags"
"Mercy, Gramercy, I promise to pay"
"Promise no more but pay to day."
"Caw Caw Caw, Caw Caw Caw"
"Nothing I hear but "Caw Caw Caw"
2nd June 1826
- Production date
Height: 260 millimetres
Width: 362 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', X, 1952)
The (confused) satire reflects the inflationist views of T. Attwood (still an anti-Reformer) to whom design and verses are attributed. C. M. Wakefield, Life of Thomas Attwood, 1885, p. 106. See also Asa Briggs, 'Thomas Attwood and the Birmingham Political Union', Cambridge Hist. Journal, ix. 190 ff.; Checkland, 'The Birmingham Economists 1815-1850', Econ. Hist. Rev., 2nd s. i. 1 ff. For Cobbett, his gridiron, and the paper-money controversy see No. 15119. The outcry against paper-money is attributed to stupid country gentlemen anxious for deflation and high rents and to dupes of Cobbett: radicals and currency die-hards leading a murderous mob. 'My Lord' is probably Lord Folkestone (see vols, viii, ix) who supported a petition against 'fraudulent paper money' (Parl. Deb., N.S. XV. 831 ff. (4 May)) and was praised in the Political Register. Cobbett lent no countenance to Ministers at this time, though the Opposition did. The question of Reform was quiescent, apart from a debate on a motion by Lord J. Russell, 27 Apr., that the state of the representation of the people deserves the serious consideration of the House. For 'Radical Reform' cf. No. 13271.
Wakefield, op. et loc. cit.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number