- Museum number
- Object: The life of William Cobbet——written by himself. N° 7—
One of a set of eight plates, all with the same title, signature, and imprint. No. 11372. Below the design, from a separate plate: 'Plate 7th I did not look behind me, till I got to St Omer's—& thence fled to America:—here I offer'd to become a Spy for the English-Government, which was scornfully rejected:— I then turned to Plunder & Libel the Yankees, for which I was Fined 5000 Dollars & kicked out of the Country!—I came back to England (after absconding for Seven years)—& set up [? at] the Crown & Mitre to establish my Loyalty! —accepted from the Doctor [Addington] £4000 to print & disperse a pamplet [sic] against "the Hell fire yell of Reform"—but applied the Money to purchase an estate at Botley, & left ye Doctor to pay the Paper & Printing!—being now Lord of the Manor, I began by sowing the seeds of discontent through Hampshire: I oppressed the Poor, sent the Aged to Hell, & damned the Eyes of my Parish Apprentices before they were open'd in the morning.—& being now supported by a band of Reformers, I renewed my old favourite Toast of Damnation to the House of Brunswick!—& exalted by the sale of 10,000 Political-Registers every week, I find myself the greatest Man in the World!—except that Idol of all my Adorations, his Royal & Imperial Majesty, NAPOLEONe!— —see my own Memoires in ye Political Register 1809—'
Cobbett (right) stands facing six men grouped at a round table who applaud the toast he gives: 'Damnation to the House of Brunswick' [cf. No. 11234]. In his left hand is a bottle of 'True Napoleone Spirits'; the contents of his raised glass are exploding. On his right sits Horne Tooke, with a crutch, holding a jug of 'Botley Ale' and a glass, both frothing. He says with a sinister upturned glance: 'Huzza! Huzza'. On Cobbett's left, and in back view, stands a naval officer wearing a cocked hat and high fashionable boots. He holds high a steaming bowl of 'Botley Grog'; under his foot is a paper: 'Basque Roads— Court Martial', showing that he is Cochrane, see No. 11326, &c. Facing Cobbett sit Bosville and Clifford. Bosville, silent, decrepit, and senile, grasps a bottle of 'Botley Ale' and holds a foaming glass; in his pocket is a 'Plan for a new Convention'. Clifford, brandy-faced, and with his barrister's wig awry, holds a bottle of 'French Brandy' and a brimming glass, saying "Huzza". Behind these two stand Burdett and Folkestone. Each holds up a frothing glass; Burdett waves his bonnet rouge and shouts "Huzza!—Huzza!" Folkestone echoes "Huzza!" In the foreground with his back to the table lies Wardle, very sick, clasping a bottle of 'Botley Ale', and vomiting over papers: 'Charges against the Duke of York' and 'Reform', see No. 11328, &c. A cat (left), with a collar inscribed 'Mrs Clarke', miaows at him (see No. 11216, &c). On the right are a tankard inscribed 'Whitbread's Small Beer', and a wine-cooler containing five bottles of 'Napolean Wine' [cf. No. 11004]. The floor is boarded, but under Cobbett's chair is a fringed carpet. The room is lit by candles set in branches which decorate the oval frame of a half-length portrait of 'Napoleone Le Grand'; he is in profile to the right, looking down at Cobbett and holding out a 'Cordon d'Honor'. The portrait is flanked by busts on brackets: 'Despard' [see No. 9969] with a noose round his neck, and 'Robespiere' with two daggers. On the table by Clifford are two more bottles of 'French' [Brandy], by Cochrane a bottle labelled (?) 'Coitaris', an overturned bottle, and a plate of 'Diables'. [Diable = a name given to the Toad-fish, Frog-fish, or Sea-Devil.] Empty bottles and a broken glass lie under the table.
29 September 1809.
- Production date
Height: 360 millimetres
Width: 220 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
This account of Cobbett in America and his return has no relation to his article in the 'Political Register' apart from the (true) statement that he wrote and offered to Addington in 1803 a publication circulated by the Government to be read in churches (cf. No. 10008). His homage to Napoleon has for foundation, besides the faith professed by Cobbett in French bulletins (printed in the 'Pol. Reg.') and reports in the 'Moniteur', his attacks on the Ministry as '"mean" and "dirty" wretches': Buonaparte 'has nothing in his dominions that is not manly and dignified, compared to our gang'. 'Pol. Reg.' xv. 908, 17 June. See also Nos. 11379, 11527; cf. No. 10426. Cobbett was fined $5,000 in America for a libel on Dr. Rush. His writings there became violently anti-Jacobin, and on his return, July 1800, he was put in touch with Pitt, Hawkes-bury, and ministerial propagandists, including Reeves, see No. 8316, &c. The 'Political Register' in 1802 was financed by Windham and his friends, see No. 10414 (with whom he quarrelled in 1806). For Cobbett's 'pauper apprentice' (Jesse Burgess) see No. 11352, &c. He was active in Hampshire in the cause of Wardle and Reform, cf. No. 11328, &c., and attacked his local opponents for trying to represent him as 'a person of no consequence; a person by whom the county ought to be ashamed to be "led"'. Op. cit., p. 911. For Cobbett and Cochrane cf. No. 10732.
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 386. Wright and Evans, No. 364. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830. Reproduced, E. I. Carlyle, op. cit., p. 119; L. Melville, op. cit. i. 84; Cobbett, 'Advice to Young Men . . .', 1930, paragraph 277.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number