One of the Great Scandals of the Hanoverian Period [Williams, Charles (d. 1830)]. [Clarke, Mary Anne (c.1776-1852)]. Mother Carey's Chickens. [London]: S.W. Fores, No. 50 Piccadilly, November 1808. Hand-colored etching with etched text, 9-3/4" x 14-1/2" (measured to plate marks). Light even toning, light soiling, edgewear and a few minor tears and creases to margins, tiny spot to the left side of image. $750. * Mother Carey's Chickens is a satirical account of one of the great scandals of Hanoverian monarchy. In 1806 it was discovered that Mary Anne Clarke, the mistress of the army commander-in-chief, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany [1763-1827], was selling commissions for personal profit, presumably with Frederick's cooperation. Investigated by Parliament, Frederick was exonerated. He resigned his post, however, because a large minority voted against him. The print's title refers to the storm petrel, a small common sea bird associated with scavenging and, in nautical folklore, the imminent arrival of a storm. On the left side of the image Clarke stands at the door of a rustic cottage and shakes out a cloth full of tiny officers holding money-bags. The cloth is inscribed "Pin Money instead of Allowance," that is, the allowance she would receive as a mistress. She says: "This is a profitable Plan of his and pays me a Devilish deal better than he can, besides the Patronage!!" On the right, five old officers, two of them crippled from battle, watch their tiny rivals with consternation. One of the lines below the image reads: "NB these Birds have lately been seen hovering about the Horse Guards." British Museum Satires 11050.
Book number 70499