Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford, with a whip in one hand and a letter in the other, mounted on an ass with a human head. Etching with engraving, 1745.
- [March 1745]
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Walpole is mounted on an ass. From his saddle hangs a panier containing bags labelled "£4000", "Tax", 'Riches" and "Court promis[es]". A roll of exchequer tallies is labelled "A mail for Pluto". He is being lobbied by politicians who wish him to carry messages in their favour. On the left are "C.", i.e. John Carteret, Lord Granville, and "B.", i.e. William Pulteney, Lord Bath. In the background stands a man labelled "M", who is identifiable as Richard Mead, holding a gold-headed cane and a medicine bottle labelled "The bite of a mad dog". To the right are "P.", i.e. Henry Pelham, and "H.C.", i.e. Sir John Hynde Cotton The print dates from just before Walpole's death, when he had retired from politics and was Earl of Orford. In old age Walpole suffered from gall stones, and in 1745, during one of his severe attacks at Houghton, he was sent for by King George II. His journey lasted four days and aggravated his symptoms. He died on 18 March 1745. He is here represented as a postman setting off to deliver mail to King George II from rival politicians, both Whig and Tory. Lords Granville and Bath hold out letters for him to carry. The former is saying "His Majesty may depend on me", the latter "And on me". Mead says "Dispatch", a pun meaning both "send" and "kill". Pelham says "I'll promote his interest". Cotton says "The Broad Bottoms are his friends", referring to the "Broad Bottom" (coalition) administration of 1744 named after its inclusiveness but also after Cotton's vast buttocks
A courier just setting out. (Who has any letters to send?). Sketch'd from ye life while his boots were greasing.
1 print : etching ; platemark 16.6 x 29.8 cm
British Museum Catalogue of political and personal satires, Vol III, London 1978, no. 2629
Wellcome Library no. 575547i
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