- Museum number
- Object: Robins Reign or Seven's the Main
Satire on Robert Walpole with a title and seven designs each with eight lines of verse. The first design shows a military camp with a king (Walpole) in classical armour extended his hand towards a book held out to him by an ecclesiastic; above is a ribbon lettered "Magna Charta In hoc signo vinces". Next is an interior with Harlequin (Walpole) seated at a table spread with coins and documents lettered "Warrant" and "Informations"; in front of the table stand a grotesque hump-backed man, another (identified in the verses as Walpole's brother, Horatio) who sniffs at a coin held to his nose, and a Spaniard reaching for coins; the devil flies above on the back of a fire-breathing dragon; Harlequin holds up to the devil a paper representing the nation. Next, a scene outside a classical building where a compositor sets type beside his case with two authors looking over his shoulder; Liberty, Britannia, Justice and Peace stand behind him, and Plenty is seated on the right. Next, a grand interior with gardens beyond (Walpole's Chelsea mansion) with Walpole standing behind a desk laden with coins which he is about to give out to applicants including a bishop and another man probably identificable as Orator Henley. Next, again outside a classical building, Cardinal Fleury is seated in a chair with his foot on the Royal Standard of Great Britain while Walpole cringes before him piling treaties, appeasing the French, onto the dish of a scale which is outweighed by another holding a sword, anchor and trident, and which may also be held down by Fleury's concealed foot; at Walpole's side a French cock crows on the back of a sleeping British lion. Next, a scene based on BM Satires 1842: an arch springing from four columns beneath which a sleepy Minerva, seated on a cloud, offers Walpole a ducal coronet, topped by his crest of a saracen's head, as he balances precariously on the summit of two rocks; he takes her hand and offers a bulging purse; behind is Policy, a smirking woman holding a mask, a staff and a snake, with her finger to her lips. Lastly, a library with landscape beyond, where "Caleb d'Anvers" (Nicholas Amherst) sits at a desk on which is a paper lettered, "The Spirit of Liberty"; he is handed a pen by the spirit herself who hovers in a cloud above and throws away a broken yoke; Britannia stands before the desk. 1731
- Production date
Height: 328 millimetres
Width: 335 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The Grub-Street Journal, 15 July 1731, reported that on 7 July a Middlesex Grand Jury had found a case to answer on the charge of seditious libel against "An Answer to one Part of a late infamous Libel" [BM Satires 1867], "The Fall of Mortimer", "Robins Reign or Seven is the Main" [the present print], "Robin's Game or Seven is the Main", "The Chelsea Monarch, or Money rules All" [a ballad], "The Country Journal, or the Craftsman" for 9 January 1731, and "Fog's Weekly Journal" for 26 June 1731,
Stephens refers to an impression (or version) of this plate that occurs in a tract entitled "Robin's Game [sic]", 1731 (BL E.2023/8) where each of the designs is expanded upon. Those responsible for that publication were prosecuted and remanded on bail for sums up to £200: the two printers, Walker and Collins, the publishers, Rayner and Slow, and Lynn, the owner of a pamphlet shop near Charing Cross (Grub-Street Journal, 22 July 1731).
Stephens assumes that the plate used for the present sheet was afterwards cut in pieces and the separate designs used as frontispieces for "The Craftsman" (1731); however, careful examination shows small variations indicating that the sheet and the separate scenes were etched on different plates.
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: The Craftsman
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number