COBDEN, Richard, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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Cobden on the penny postage and on Thackeray

COBDEN, Richard (1804-1865). Manufacturer and politician.
Fine Autograph Letter Signed to (Sir) Henry Cole, 3 pages 4to with address (small seal-tear affecting one word only), Man[cheste]r, 7 June 1839. Referring to a recent letter from Cole (published in Morley's Life of Cobden, 1881, pages 214-215) who had warmly recommended the illustrative services of William Makepeace Thackeray, and the forthcoming penny postage.
'... I have returned the sketch which we all approve, & should be very glad to have the block as soon as possible. If Mr Thackerays next effort should be the 'factory children & their protector' I hope he will not fail to record a good likeness of Lord A[shley]. The spice of the cut will be in the resemblance to that aristocratic & canting simpleton: & we will take care that every member of both houses receives a copy, & that our Lancashire members make a dead set at it. The clubs too must be strewed with these things. ...'
Cobden had been negotiating with Cole about woodcuts to be circulated by the Anti-Corn Law League, with 'The Landowner and the Factory Child' intended to make Lord Ashley the target of his fierce attack. Thackeray went on to have a fruitful association with the League and executed some of their best propaganda devices. (The Anti-Corn Law League: 1838-1846, Norman McCord, pages 69-70).

Cobden's letter concludes with reference to the penny postage scheme which Henry Cole was instrumental in setting up alongside Rowland Hill. Cole devised a scheme in which the Post Office circulated the reform propaganda free of charge. Cole had stayed with Cobden previously in Manchester when campaigning for postal reform.
'... It has been noted in the papers that it is intended to give the penny postage without stamps. That would be to ruin the whole scheme. The compulsory prepayment is essential; otherwise there would be no payment in advance at all. Nobody would think it worth while to pay. The consequence would be that the carriers would be subjected to two times the delay that they now complain of in the delivery of letters. ...'
Not in The Letters of Richard Cobden, edited by Anthony Howe (Oxford, 2007-2012), where three other letters to Cole are to be found, and apparently unpublished. As noted above this letter, one of the finest of Cobden to have appeared on the market, is probably a response to the letter from Cole to Cobden of 22 June 1839 quoted by Morley.
[No: 26312]


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