- Museum number
- Object: The life of William Cobbet,—written by himself. N° 8.
One of a set of eight plates, all with the same title, signature, and imprint. Below the design, from a separate plate: 'Plate 8th—but alas, in the midst of my towering prospects, while I was yet hesitating between a Radical-Reform and a Revolution, & doubtful whether to assume the Character of Old-Noll or Jack-Cade,—down came my Political-Register, & the fabrick of my visionary greatness vanished. my Schemes for my Country's good perished by the blaze of my own Candles!—The Ghost!-------slid? [A seventeenth-century oath (God's lid). O.E.D.]—Lord forgive me for swearing!—the Ghost of Captn Powell utter'd a scream of Joy.—little Jessy's brandy-faced-bitch of a Mother—Lord pardon me!—called out for Justice!—the Bats and Harpies of Revolution hid their heads in the gloom of night,—and to compleat the horrible Scene, the rigid Pawn-broker of Hell, Old-Beelzebub, entered and demanded his property,—the Forfiet-Soul, which I had pledged!—Lord have mercy upon me!—Our Father!—to the Truth of my accusation's!—oh!—oh!— oh !—Hell-Flames. Vide My own Memoirs in the Political Register—1809.' Cobbett, surrounded by flames and beset by ghosts, starts back in his chair, overturning his writing-table and dropping his pen. Behind him and on his right is a black replica of himself (his shadow). Over this shadow's shoulder leans the Devil, naked except for a bonnet rouge, bending menacingly towards Cobbett. In the foreground (right) the head and shoulders, in back view, of Sir Charles Gould emerge from clouds, holding up a long scroll: 'the Forfieted Pledge—"my Black Soul I pledge to the Devil for the Truth of my Accusation Wm Cobbett—Witness . . . Goold Judge' [Advocate]. On the opposite side, surrounded by clouds, are the ghosts of three officers, with blank eyes, standing stiffly behind the bar over which hangs a paper: 'Court Martial Chelsea' [see No. 11377]. The centre figure declaims: 'Remember Powel', the others add: 'Hall' and 'Seton'. Just behind and to the right of Cobbett the arms of a woman holding the equally balanced scales and the flaming sword of 'Justice' emerge from flames. Her head is covered by a large scroll: 'the Groans of Hampshire with the Cries of Little Jessey and the Screams of his blasted Brandy-Faced Bitch of a Mother'. Behind the Devil, and partly concealed by a festooned curtain, is the wall of a pawnshop as in No. 11376, with the sign of three balls; over the doorway: 'Beelzebub Pawnb[roker] Nota Bene. Damag'd Souls taken in Pawn'. Four bat-like creatures fly away, upwards and to the left. Three have human heads and are Wardle, nearest to Cobbett, Burdett, and (?) Horne Tooke. From Cobbett's tilting table ink, pens, candle-sticks, and lighted candles fall to the ground, the candles setting fire to the many papers which have fallen and are falling: two copies of 'Cobbett's Political Register' are already blazing. Three other copies are still on the table, one inscribed: 'Cobbetts Register—The Hell-Fire-War in Spain—Oh damn Wellesley'. Other copies have titles referring to the tenor of actual and imaginary articles in the Register: 'Plan for to Hang up all the Public Robbers without Judge or Jury'; 'Hints on ye Rights of Napoleone the Great to the Throne of Great Britain'; 'The Jubilee—a Damned Ministerial Humbug upon the country'; Cobbett's Political Register—. . . Navy . . .'; 'Stupidity of the Whigs'; 'Bank Notes our Rum'; 'New Parliamentary Reform'; 'Necessity of a new Party'; 'Blasted Ignorance of Ministry'.
29 September 1809.
- Production date
Height: 370 millimetres
Width: 215 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
A sequel to No. 11376. For the Court Martial see No. 11377; for Jesse Burgess and his mother, with whom Cobbett had fallen out, see No. 11352, &c. The 'Register' for 1809 persistently attacked the conduct of the war in Spain, and was especially virulent against the Talavera campaign and Wellesley, accepting the version of the 'Moniteur', and mocking at Wellesley's dispatches. With this he coupled the forthcoming Jubilee (see No. 11381, &c): '"A Jubilee" indeed! A proposition for dancing and singing and rejoicing, while the nation is weeping over the scenes at Talavera and Walcheren! ... the real authors of this war were the faction of "Seat Mongers, Jews", and "Contractors"....' Op. cit., pp. 385-97 (23 Sept. 1809). Ministers were repeatedly called 'Public Robbers' in the autobiographical article of which the series is primarily a burlesque. Paper money (see No. 8990, &c.) was a constant object of attack, see his article, 'Jacobin Guineas', on 23 Sept. He repeatedly denounced the Whigs, asserting there was nothing to choose between ins and outs (see especially 16 Sept. 1809, xvi. 375 f.). See also No. 11378.
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 366. Wright and Evans, No. 365. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830. Reproduced, E. I. Carlyle, op. cit., p. 160; L. Melville, op. cit. ii. 56; Cobbett, 'Advice to Young Men . . .', 1930, paragraph 316.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number