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A Free born Englishman!The admiration of the world!!!And the envy of surrounding nations!!!!!

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • A Free born Englishman!The admiration of the world!!!And the envy of surrounding nations!!!!!
  • Description

    An adaptation of No. 12037. The padlocked and shackled man is of a different type: emaciated, derelict, with a scalp which is plucked rather than bald, and on which carrion birds are pecking. He is in profile to the right; in the hands tied behind his back are a pen and a paper inscribed 'Freedom of the Press Transportation'. His feet rest on the 'Bill of Rights' and 'Magna Charta' as before, but the latter is a large book. On the former lies a headsman's axe, the blade inscribed 'Law of Libel'. On the ground is his cap, a cap of 'Liberty'. In place of the three tax-collectors at Mr. Bull's house are a woman and two children, one apparently dead, and a dead dog; she sits despairingly on the ground outside the shuttered and dilapidated house which is placarded: 'Mr Bull removed by the Tax Gatherers over the Way.' In place of the bankrupt shop 'over the way' is a debtor's prison. A man walks past the barred window and the begging-box, where wretched prisoners thrust their hands through the bars. A projecting placard is inscribed 'Pray Remember the poor Debtors.' He thrusts his hands through his empty and tattered pockets, registering distress at the appeal. In place of the list of 'Bankrupts' in No. 12037 is a paper: 'Free discussion—a farce__ Right of Petitioning, reserved to Families only.' There is an additional inscription (right): 'Tampering at Elections—allowed to Ministers only!! Lord Lieutennants of Counties & other Local Authorities must be tools of Government—for Necessary Purposes, employ Clerical Magistrates [see No. 13281, &c.].'
    15 December 1819.
    Hand-coloured etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1819
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 355 millimetres
    • Width: 250 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title and publication line 'Londn Decr 15th 1819 pubd by S W Fores 41 Piccadilly.'
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
    A cropped impression was conjecturally attributed to 1795, see No. 8711; it derives indirectly from No. 8710. (The device of the padlocked mouth appears in a plate of 1742, see No. 2543.) It satirizes the Seditious Meetings Prevention Act and the Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act (60 Geo. III, c. 6 and 8), two of the 'Six Acts', and illustrates the relation between these statutes and the Sedition and Treason Acts of 1795 (see No. 8687, &c.). The Libels Act of 1819, now known as the Criminal Libel Act, is still valid, with the obnoxious clauses, including that of transportation for a second offence (never put into execution), removed in 1830. The other Press Act, the Publications Act (60 Geo. III, c. 9), made cheap periodical pamphlets liable to Pitt's Newspaper Act (cf. No. 9194), and the Stamp Duties, and forbade their sale for less than sixpence, see No. 13290; this Act was without effect. See Wickwar, 'The Struggle for the Freedom of the Press 1819-1832', 1928, ch. iv.
    Cobbett evidently cites this plate in the 'Pol. Reg.', 15 Apr. 1820, in a dialogue in which Canning says: 'What! Take off the padlocks! Suffer them to tell lies about ladies and gentlemen, who to uphold a constitution which is "the envy of surrounding nations and the admiration of the world", . . .' It was mentioned as 'an indecent caricature' in the Attorney-General's speech, 3 July 1821 ('New Times' report). See No. 13287 A, the original, or a copy of this plate.
    A woodcut copy by G. Cruikshank, with altered inscriptions, illustrates 'A Slap at Slop', 1821, and was again used in the 'Political Alphabet' [1832].

    (Supplementary information)
    The number '41' seems etched over '50'.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 13287 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XIXc Mounted Roy)

  • Exhibition history

    2014 May-Oct, Hannover, W Busch Mus, 'Hanoverians'

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 15 December 1819.  Hand-coloured etching


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). 15 December 1819. Hand-coloured etching

Image description



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Object reference number: PPA151403

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