- Museum number
- Object: The Repeal
Satire on the repeal of the Stamp Act and the administration of George Grenville (First Lord of the Treasury, April 1763-July 1765). Scene on the bank of the Thames with a procession of mourners approaching a tomb with open doors over which is an inscription, "Within this Family Vault lie (it is to be hop'd never to rise again) the Remains of Hearth mon[ey] Ship mon[ey] Excise B[ill] Jew B[ill] Gen[eral] Warrants &c"; two skulls appear on poles above the doors representing Jacobite rebels of "1715" and "1745". The procession is led by Dr James Scott, carrying two books, "Burial Serv[ice]" and "Funeral Sermon by Anti Sejanus"; a dog urinates on his gown. Two lawyers follow, Alexander Wedderburn with "Scotch Appeals" protruding from his pocket, and Fletcher Norton with "Brief / Pl[ain]t[iff] 20 G[uinea]s / Def[endan]t" in his, suggesting that he might act for both sides in a legal case; each carries a flag with images of the stamps consisting of the Scottish thistle and the Jacobite white rose and the motto "Semper Eadem" and "Three Farthings"; Wedderburn's flag is numbered "71" and Norton's "122" (these were the numbers of votes in the Houses of Lords and Commons cast against the repeal of the Act); a ribbon lettered "All of a Stamp" is held by two hands each pointing to a flag. Next comes Grenville carrying a small coffin lettered, "Miss Ame-Stamp B.1765 died 1766", followed by Lord Bute, the Duke of Bedford with a paper lettered "A Weave[r]" protruding from his pocket; Lords Temple, in tears, Halifax and Sandwich, the latter carrying "A Catch by Jemmy Twitcher". Two bishops bring up the rear of the procession, one possibly William Warburton. Two bales lettered "Black Cloth from America" and "Stamps from America" lie on the quayside behind the procession. Three tall ships - "Conway", "Rockingha[m]" and "G[r]afton" (the three leading members of the current administration) - ready to sail, are moored in the river. On the far bank is a line of warehouses ready to ship goods from manufacturing towns, "Manchester", "Halifax", "Leeds", "Liverpool", "Sheffield" and "Birmingham". A crate containing, "A Statue of Mr. Pitt" is lowered by a crane from the last warehouse into a small boat numbered "250"; another small boat moored beside the Leeds warehouse is numbered, "105" (these were the numbers of votes in the Houses of Commons and Lords cast for the repeal of the Act). 1766
- Production date
Height: 266 millimetres (image)
Height: 283 millimetres (trimmed?)
Width: 417 millimetres (trimmed?)
- Curator's comments
- This etching is documented as by Benjamin Wilson in his autobiography (published Walpole Society, LXXIV 2012, p.200): [Following the success of his other satire, 'The Tombstone', BMSat.4124] 'Mr Burke, Mr Cowper and others encouraged me to make another print. An opportunity soon offered, for disputes ran very high respecting the Stamp Act in America, which was about to be repealed. The title of my 2nd print I therefore called 'the Repeal, or the Funeral of Miss Amy Stamp' for I was told from authority that it would certainly be repealed. [There follows a long description of the print.] This print I published within ten minutes after the Act was repealed. I had but four days to sell it in; because on the fifth there appeared two pirated editions which sold for half the price. Nevertheless in those four days, I sold about 2,000 at a shilling apiece; I was informed by persons of credit that there were sold of the pirated copies above sixteen thousand...'.
This is the only impression of Wilson' original in the BM. There are also four different copies in the BM, and another in the BL (Grenville.18.165). The print was first advertised in the 'Public Advertiser' on 13 March 1766 (found by Stephens): 'The print called the Repeal will certainly be published in a few days, notwithstanding the many endeavours to prevent its appearance'. The next advertisement on 18 March announces: 'The print called the repeal will certainly be published this day, at two of the clock, notwithstanding the many endeavours to prevent its appearance. Price 1s. Sold by Mr Smith, at the Woolpack, Number 45, in Long Acre near Drury Lane'. The issue of 21 March adds: 'The extraordinary demand for the print called the Repeal or the funeral of Miss Ame Stamp, being greater than the power of one workman to supply, Mr Smith begs leave of those who are pleased to honour him with their commands to any large quantities, that he may be indulged with as much time as can possibly be allowed, in order to take off a proper number to answer the demand. From the Woolpack, No.45 Long Acre.'
On 27 March an advertisement in 'The Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser' reads: 'Mr Smith begs leave to advertise the public, that there is a spurious and Grub-street print copied from the celebrated Repeal, which is calculated to hurt the sale of the original print. He therefore hopes that they will not encourage so unfair and vile a performance, but continue to favour him with their commands when, for the future, a separate and printed explanation will be given along with each print. From the Woolpack, No.45 Long Acre, near Drury-Lane.'
This advertisement is immediately followed by another: 'This day is published, a new carecatura print, price only sixpence. The Repeal. The great demand for this print has induced the proprietor to lower the price. Sold by J.Pridden, at the Feathers in Fleet-Street; and at the Print Shops at the Royal Exchange etc. etc.' [with mentions of other titles of caricatures]; this was probably the print described under J,1.86. It is worth noting that Pridden (whose name is found on none of the impressions of this print in the BM, though one of them is lettered with the price 6d) was associated later in 1766 with Smith in the publication of 'The Richmond Wedding' (BM Sat.4166).
The "Stamp" Act "for granting and applying certain Stamp Duties, and other Duties, in the British Colonies and Plantations in America" was passed on 22 March 1765 and was in effect from 1 November 1765 until its repeal on 18 March 1766.
Other government measures mentioned are: the Hearth tax in force from 1662 to 1689; Ship Money, notoriously imposed by Charles I in the 1620s and 30s; the Excise Bill, introduced by Robert Walpole in 1733 to enforce excise payments on wine and tobacco, which was opposed with such vehemence that although the Bill failed to pass it was never forgotten; the Jewish Naturalisation Act of 1753 that caused anti- semitic protests and was repealed within a few months. Opposition to General Warrants was part of the campaign on behalf of John Wilkes in 1763. The Duke of Bedford opposed the imposition of a duty on the import of silks and aroused the anger of Spitalfields weavers who rioted at his house in Bloomsbury Square in May 1765. "A Statue of Mr Pitt" refers to the commission by the House of Commons of South Carolina of a statue of William Pitt in gratitude for his opposition to the Stamp Act; a resolution was passed on 8 May 1766 and the statue, by Joseph Wilton was erected in Charleston in 1770.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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