Thomas Chatterton

Donald S. Taylor (ed.), The Complete Works of Thomas Chatterton: A Bicentenary Edition, Vol. 2

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[Ambulator's Exhibition.]

To the Printer.

1Strolling through Pall-mall the other morning, I saw a num-Editor’s Note2ber of workmen very busy in the repairs of Carlton-House. The 3opportunity which this afforded me, of viewing the inside of a 4building so much celebrated throughout Europe for its political pg 7285conferences, I must confess, roused my curiosity; therefore, flip-6ping one of the workmen half a crown, I walked in, and amused 7myself very entertainingly for above an hour. As my greatest 8gratification lay in the examination of some curious original paint- 9ings, which hang in the principal room; and as your readers may 10have an equal curiosity to be acquainted with their merits, I send 11you a list of them, with the painters names, and some occasional 12remarks, which I noted on the spot with my pencil.

  •   Suffolk-Street,
  • Saturday morning.

  • Your's,
  •   Ambulator.

No. 1. A Scotch baboon (burlesquely called an Atlas) bearing upon his tail England, Ireland, and Scotland, with the annexed dominions—by L—d B—te.


This piece stands in a favourable situation, but wont bear much light.

No. 2. Its companion—by St—t M—k—zie, Esq;

No. 3. Magna Charta reversed—by L——d M—sf——d.


The letters, by being thus turned topsy turvy, become partly unintelligible. The parchment, altogether, looks more like an ancient Scotch manuscript, than that old pledge of English liberty.

No. 4. The Island of St. John, with several tracts of land in perspective—by L—d Eg——t.

No. 5. Two running footmen—by G—b——t Ell—t, and C. J——k——n, Esq;

No. 6. A chair woman—by J. D——s——n, Esq;


The miserable wretchedness of this character is very well described in the figure of an old woman, doing the dirty work of a large family.

No. 7. A prize fighter—by S——l M—rt——n, Esq;

No. 8. A view of a butcher's stall in St. George's fields—by L—d B——rr——n.

pg 729Remark.

Though the artist has shewn great strength of description in this piece, it becomes very disgusting, on account of human carcasses being substituted for animal.

No. 9. A mendicant friar—by L—d M—chm—t.

No. 10. An echo—by L—d N—th.


This is figured by a description of an ancient place, formerly called St. S—p—n's ch—p—l, which was so celebrated for its echo, that 'tis asserted with great veracity, a single voice has been often reverberated the majority of 558 times.

No. 11. A what d'ye call it—by W—lb—re Ell—s, Esq;


The representation of a whimsical kind of modern wind instrument, which, by applying a certain quantity of yellow metal to its ventiducts, produces any tune you call for.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2. Carlton-House in Pall Mall was the London residence of the Princess Dowager.
Dateline. Suffolk Street runs into Pall Mall East.
No. 1. The usual Patriot allusion to the supposed affair between the Earl of Bute and the Princess Dowager: see Index, Bute. According to Partridge, 'tail' was eighteenth-century colloquial for the genitalia of either sex.
No. 2. On James Stuart Mackenzie, Bute's brother see 'Kew Gardens', l. 17 n.
No. 3. On Lord Mansfield see 'Whore of Babylon', ll. 50 ff. n. Mansfield was a Scot.
No. 4. John Perceval (1711–70), second Earl of Egmont, first Lord of the Admiralty 1763–66, petitioned the King in 1763 for a grant of the Island of St. John in the gulf of St. Lawrence, where he planned to revive the feudal tenure system. See Commons for details.
Nos. 5 and 6. On Sir Gilbert Elliot, Charles Jenkinson, and Jeremiah Dyson see 'Decimus to the Princess of Gotham', ll. 29–31 n.; 'Exhibition of Sign Paintings', note to no. 3; and 'Whore of Babylon', l. 305 n.
No. 7. On Samuel Martin and his duel with Wilkes see 'Whore of Babylon', ll. 89–98 nn.
No. 8. On Barrington and the St. George's Fields massacre see 'Consuliad', ll. 73 ff. n.
No. 9. Hugh Hume (1708–94), third Earl of Marchmont, was Alexander Pope's close friend and one of his executors. He was a Scot and a supporter of Government, but why 'A mendicant friar' I do not know.
No. 10. On Frederick North, Lord North, First Lord of the Treasury and a supposed tool of Bute in the Patriot view see note to title, 'Decimus to the Prime Minister'. St. Stephen's Chapel was a part of the Houses of Parliament. Although North usually had a majority in the Commons, he certainly did not control, as here implied, all 558 votes.
No. 11. Welbore Ellis (1713–1802). Junius ridicules Ellis as an inconsequential person in his letter of 3 April 1770: 'his name became a byword for a placeman prepared to serve any Administration—which is hardly fair to him'. Commons.
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