Handbill satirical spoof epitaph on William Pitt the Younger, printed in Sunderland, titled ''An Inscription for the Proposed Monument to the Rt. Hon. W. Pitt. Respectfully dedicated to the Subscribers to his Statue. De Mortuis nil nisi Verum.'

Author: 
[William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806), Prime Minister during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars] Summers & Young, Printers, Sunderland
Publication details: 
Summers & Young, Printers, Sunderland. No date [c.1806].
£650.00
SKU: 22121

A savage and bitterly-sarcastic satirical spoof epitaph, the text of which, the Liverpool Mercury reported in 1822, had been 'repeatedly published before'. Some versions are said to have included a woodcut by George Cruikshank, but the only other publication found (with a few minor variations from the present version) is in the Irish Magazine, June 1809, pp.286-287, where the author is named as 'WILKS INR.', i.e. '[John] Wilkes [sic] Junior'. Printed on one side of a 26.5 x 10 cm piece of unwatermarked wove paper. In fair condition, aged and worn, with several fold lines, and one closed tear repaired with archival tape. Titled: 'An | Inscription | for the Proposed | Monument to the Rt. Hon. W. Pitt. | Respectfully dedicated to the Subscribers to his Statue. | De Mortuis nil nisi Verum.' Sixty-seven lines of centred text, beginning: 'This Mausoleum entombs | WILLIAM PITT, | Who died January 23, 1806, aged only 47 years. | With unprecedented influence | For 23 years he was PRIME MINISTER of | The British Empire. | He possessed great Talents and transcendant | Eloquence, | But his Worth may be best estimated | “By Experience and the Evidence of Facts.”' Pitt's 'achievements' are listed: 'He was the Advocate for Reform, which did not succeed. | The Opposer of the Slave Trade, which increased. | The Patron of the Irish Catholics, who were not emancipated. | To England a professed Protector, and the avowed Enemy to France. | During his Government | The Bulwarks of British Freedom were subverted, | The Ancient Nobility degraded, | The Poor additionally depressed, | The Middling Classes of Society nearly annihilated, | Popular Associations prohibited, and | The Sources of Corruption deepened and enlarged.' The epitaph continues in the same vein, including the observation that 'Two Hundred Thousand Britons' were sacrificed in '”Just and necessary Wars”'. There is a list of overthrown Britain's allies, with the comment 'Let Nations glory in such Friendship!', and France's prosperity during the period is described, with the comment 'Let Nations deprecate such Enmity!' The only groups said to have benefited during Pitt's ministry are 'The Committee of Lloyd's Coffee House, | The Collectors of Taxes, | The Purchasers of Loans, and Contractors for the | Army, | The Modern Nobility, | Lord Melville, | and | Napoleon, Emperor of France, | Enriched, ennobled, protected, and aggrandized by | “This Friend of the People!” | “This Saviour of Britain!!” | “This Protector of Europe!!!” | “This Heaven-born Minister!!!!” | “This Pilot that weather'd the Storm!!!!!”' No other copy of a work of this title, let alone this Sunderland printing, found on either WorldCat or COPAC. BBTI has Summers & Young active in Sunderland between 1800 and 1812. Copac lists three items by the firm between 1803 and 1810.