- Museum number
- Object: Rival candidates for the vacant bays
Plate from the 'Scourge', vi. 261. A satire on the Laureateship. The Regent as Apollo, his head irradiated, eyes tipsily closed, sits on one knee of the Duke of Norfolk, Bacchus, who sits on a cask. He rests his left leg, displaying the 'honi' on his garter, on the shoulder of Bate Dudley, who kneels before him. He is naked except for a drapery hanging from the waist, and massive cothurnes decorated with a heart, A quiver of arrows is strapped to his back, and he supports a lyre on his left knee. Norfolk is naked except for vine-girdle and wreath, as is Sheridan, who reclines on the ground (left) holding a glass to catch wine which spouts from the cask. These three gods are larger in scale than the other figures. The cask is inscribed 'Annual Butt of Sack' and '£100 per Annum'. The Regent:
'Who best can sing of drinking loving lays
Shall have the butt and with it take the Bays'
Norfolk steadies himself by a staff topped by a pine-cone and streamers;
'Tho' of Love & Wine you have had store
By N—rf—lke dumplings I'd have More' [Moore]
Sheridan, as Silenus:
'Whom he has promis'd most I will be swore He'll give the Sack [an early instance of this phrase meaning dismiss from employment, which Partridge dates from c. 1840] as he has done before' [cf. No. 11914]
From the clouds (right) emerge the head and shoulders of McMahon, as Mercury, but on the scale of the mortals. His arms are folded on his caduceus from which hangs a purse inscribed 'P.P.' [see No. 11874, &c.]. He looks at the Regent, saying,
"Who has the Bays I do not care a curse,
So that I always keep the Privy Purse."
Bate Dudley like Sheridan has satyr's ears; he wears clerical gown and bands; his face is hidden by the coronet and feathers which fall from the head of the Regent. Across his person is a broad ribbon with the Prince's motto 'Ich Dien.' Under his foot is a paper, 'Morng Herald', and he says:
"With praises so fulsome I've run such a race,
'Tho not over modest I'm ashamed of my face."
The competing poets run from the right towards Apollo. They are headed by Byron, his head concealed by an arm supporting a big volume of 'Byron's Works' carried on his right shoulder. Under his right shoe is a small block, indicating lameness. He says:
"Far far from me be such temptation put,
To bake a butt of Sack to make myself a butt."
Close behind him, Skeffington runs with a long stride, holding out in both hands with an elegant gesture a volume inscribed 'Sleeping Beauty' [see No. 10455]. In his pocket is a paper: 'Point of Honour' [i.e. 'Word of Honour', a comedy first played at Covent Garden 26 May 1802]. He is foppishly dressed, with shirt-frill and embroidered stockings, at his feet lie his opera-hat and two books, 'Lose no Time' [see No. 12081]. He says:
"Of Sleeping beauties I rehearse the rhyme
Make me your poet lose no Time."
Above his head flies a naked Cupid, holding out a book inscribed 'Little', on whose back sits Tom Moore, youthful and jaunty, a hand on Cupid's quiver. Moore:
"I sing the joys of Love and Bacchus store
My gracious R—g—nt would you wish for More?"
Behind Skeffington walks 'Monk' Lewis as a barefooted monk holding his 'Tales of Wonder' [see No. 9932] and pointing upwards. From his hood two books project, 'Castle Spectre' and 'The Monk'. He says:
"I have written for pelf
Till I frighten'd myself! ! ! !"
Next, Scott, in chain armour and helmet, strides rapidly forward, his cloak flying out behind him. On his helmet is a bunch of pens; a huge pen is thrust though a shoulder-belt as is an object like a great pen-nib (? his patent pen, see 'Corr.' iii, 1932, p. 90). He holds out 'Rokeby' ; under his right arm is a book or paper inscribed 'Marmion'  'Lady of the Lake' . In his left hand he carries a pile of books in a strap; they are falling out and three are on the ground: 'Coke' falls on 'Littleton' and the 'Statutes at Large' [showing his desertion of the law for literature]. He says:
"Three Thousand pounds I've made a Joke by
A six weeks scrawl entitled Rokeby."
Behind (right) kneels a man in clerical gown and bands; he holds out a book without inscription; beside him is one inscribed 'Temperance'. He says:
"I've often wish'd that I had clear
For life one hundred pounds a year
Last (right) stands Busby, wearing spectacles and holding out an 'Address'; under his arm is a piece of music. He says:
"They say that under George the seconds rule
Cibber was both the poet and the fool,
The Prince more moderate now I'd have you know it,
Will take the fool who is no poet."
1 October 1813
- Production date
Height: 211 millimetres
Width: 530 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
On 11 Aug. Pye died, the Prince offered the Laureateship to Scott, who at first thought of accepting, but refused, suggesting to Croker that it should be offered to Southey. This was done; Southey was sworn in on 4 Nov. Scott, 'Corr.' iii. 332, 335 f. J. Simmons, 'Southey', 1945, pp. 138-40, 241; Broadus, 'The Laureateship', 1921, pp. 163 ff. See Hazlitt, 'Mr Southey, Poet Laureate' ('Morn. Chron.', 18 Sept. 1813), 'Works', ed. Howe, vii. 24 f.; Southey was also violently attacked in the 'Examiner', 26 Sept. Bate Dudley, as in Nos. 12081, 12207, is attacked for obsequiousness to the Regent, and as the editor of the 'Morning Herald' (hostile to the Princess of Wales). Scott wrote, 23 Mar. 1813: 'I really get as much by "Rokeby" as I have any reason to expect and more than was ever given for any poem of the length—3000 guineas.' Op. cit. iii. 242; cf. No. 11082. Moore's amorous verse was published in 1801 as 'Poems by the late Thomas Little'; cf. No. 11899; his 'Twopenny Post Bag' makes him an absurd candidate as are Skeffington, Lewis, and Busby (see No. 11939, &c.). The identity of the parson is obscure; his couplet suggests Theophilus Swift (cf. the use of homonymous authors in (e.g.) No. 11940). He had written bad verse, but was not in orders; or he may be the obscure Swift of No. 12891. For the laureateship see also No. 12877.
'J C' in the inscription maybe 'C J'.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1989 April-Aug, Grasmere, Dove Cottage, Byron...
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number