A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood

By Kathryn R. King | Go to book overview

7
THE PARROT

Less than three months separate the final installment of The Female Spectator, dated 17 May 1746, from the appearance 2 August of the first number of Haywood’s next periodical venture, The Parrot, a weekly essay-paper that included a news section entitled ‘Compendium of the Times’. The Parrot ran for just nine issues, coming to an unceremonious close on 4 October. The reason for the abrupt halt is just one of the puzzles to be taken up in this chapter, but it seems certain that the unpopular positions taken on a number of matters of public interest played a part, as did the paper’s obvious sympathies for the recently defeated Jacobite rebels, and the fact that the invidious reflections upon the Duke of Cumberland offered in the second number smacked of seditious libel certainly did nothing to endear it to the authorities, or for that matter the intensely anti-Jacobite public. The Parrot represents a disaffected report on the state of the nation in the summer of 1746, when all eyes were turned toward the public executions of the captured Jacobite rebels and few press organs dared openly criticize the man already known as ‘the Butcher of Culloden’. The mood of the country during the brief period in which the essays appeared has been characterized by a modern political historian as loudly and even hysterically loyalist, bloodthirsty, retributive, anti-Jacobite, anti-Catholic, xenophobic, exclusionary; with only a handful of exceptions, of which The Parrot seems to have been the most outspoken, there were few papers willing to extend mercy to anyone who had fought on the losing side in the Forty-Five.1 The debate on mercy versus ‘severe’ justice was just one issue on which The Parrot came down on the humanitarian side espoused by a well-muffled minority.

If The Parrot is Haywood at her most politically topical, it is also in parts a satiric masterpiece, and its parrot-speaker, a foreign-born and well-travelled ‘bird of parts’, stands as one of her richest comic creations. On one level this irrepressible prattling truth-teller stands for the oppositional press generally, which liked always to plump itself upon its steadfast adherence to Truth, as the Jacobite National Journal; or, the Country Gazette did in its opening number, for example, when the paper announced it was ‘calculated entirely for the Lovers of Truth’.2 On another, as some critics have already noticed, the parrot-speaker is a

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A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Eighteenth-Century Political Biographies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Biographical Prolegomenon xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - ‘Her Approach to Fame’- 1714–29 17
  • 2 - Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to Utopia 35
  • 3 - Theatrical Thirties- 1729–37 55
  • 4 - AD Ventures of Eovaai 73
  • 5 - At the Sign of Fame- 1741–4 95
  • 6 - The Female Spectator 111
  • 7 - The Parrot 133
  • 8 - Epistles for the Ladies 155
  • 9 - Was Haywood a Jacobite? 177
  • Epilogue- the Invisible Spy 193
  • Notes 203
  • Works Cited 243
  • Index 259
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