SCARCE ROWLANDSON ETCHING, IN POLYPUS’ ALL THE TALENTS, 1807
BARRETT, Eaton Stannard (POLYPUS, pseudonym). All the Talents; A Satirical Poem, in Four Dialogues. London: John Joseph Stockdale, 1807. Tall octavo, early 20th-century full red morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spine and cover borders, top edge gilt, uncut. $250.
Early edition, published the same year as the first, of this facetious poetic discourse on the impotence of Grenville’s and Fox’s Whig administration during the Napoleonic conflict, with a satirical frontispiece by Thomas Rowlandson.
A native of Ireland, Eaton Barrett was the author of a number of poems and satires, including this popular and important political satire in verse. All the Talents is a poetic dissertation on the Whig administration that came into power after the death of William Pitt. Under the leadership of Lord William Grenville, its makeup was very diverse, including new and old Whigs and many other factions, and therefore was dubbed “The Ministry of All Talents.” However, it was clear that the real leader was Charles Fox, whose occasional lack of energy and “light touch” appalled many during the critical period of the Napoleonic Wars. Barrett’s satire was facetiously dedicated to the Emperor of China, and warns that “were the country to be so silly as to follow [“The Ministry”] blind-fold over hedges and ditches, the consequence might be rather mischievous.” All the Talents went through 18 editions during 1807 alone— this being the 17th. Rowlandson’s “monstrous” frontispiece is in keeping with his trademark rollicking humor. As “the pictorial chronicler of the hard-hitting, hard-drinking age,” Rowlandson stood at “the foremost ranks of what was then one of the most popular departments of pictorial art” (Oxford Dictionary of Art). Not listed in Tooley.
Text and plate fine, minor restoration to spine ends of handsome morocco binding.