The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 30, 2011

Dec. 30, 1774

Whitehead, Paul (February 6 ,1710- December 30,1774), was an English satirist of the 18th century. 
His satirical treatment of political figures, of common fads, of people he saw as enemies of himself or his friends, took the form of verse. He was often mentioned along with Alexander Pope, though his writing was not of the calibre of Pope's. Whitehead was aware of this as this excerpt shows:

Pope writes unhurt but know,, 'tis different! quite 
To beard the lion, and to crush the mite.
Safe may he dash the Statesman in each line ;. 
Those dread his satire, who dare punish mine

Still, Whitehead would live to receive rewards from the government, as well as an annuity from a fellow member of the Hellfire Club, a group which prided itself on its wicked behavior. This group was one of several in 18th century England which set a precedent for the 19th century epater le boourgeoisie sentiment, and the 20th century revolt against common proprieties in the 1960s. Here is a bit of Whitehead's writing which makes this attitude clear (Moorfields is the setting for club festivities):

Midst the mad mansions of Moorfields, 
I'd be A straw crown'd monarch, in mock majesty ; 
Rather than sov' reign rule Britannia's fate, 
Curs'd with the follies, and the farce of state. 
Rather in Newgate walls, O let me dwell, 
A doleful tenant of the darkling cell, 
Than swell in palaces the mighty store 
Of fortune's fools, and parasites of power; 
Than crowns, ye gods ! be any state my doom, 
Or any dungeon — but a drawing-room !‎

One suspects these sentiments were easy to voice when in the company of fellow revelers, His wife was rich and stupid, and Whitehead always treated her tenderly, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

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