Our Hero Cut Up or This Is So Grose

As we have mentioned many times before, Francis Grose, the soldier and antiquarian, (not to be confused with Francis Grose, the soldier and lieutenant governor) is our hero. Between his antiquarian studies and his satires, we think he would have been fun in both the archives and the tavern. Just look at how jolly he was:

What a piece of work is this man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! Source.

And by jolly, we mean obese. A condition undoubtedly caused by his dedication to research.

Maybe he should have spent more time in the field. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum.

One of the reasons we love Capt. Grose is that he had a healthy sense of humor about antiquarian research. Of course, picking on others invites others to pick on you, which a few satirical print makers did. Below is our small collection of Grose satires.

A Connoisseur Admiring a Night Peice. Attrib. Matthew Darly, 1771. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum.


Portrait of Francis Grose. Attrib. James Douglas, 1783-89. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum.

‘Now [Grose], like bright Phoebus is sunk into rest, / Society droops for the loss of his jest, / Antiquarian debates, unseason’d with mirth, / To genius and learning will never give birth: / Then wake brother member our friend from his sleep, / Lest Apollo should frown and Bacchus should weep. / This plate is cordially inscribed to those members of the Antiquarian Society, who adjourn to the Somerset, by one of their devoted bretheren.’


Captain Grose’s visiting card with his stick Cuddy. Francis Grose, c. 1788. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum.


The British Antiquarian. Attrib. John Kay, 1789. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum.

It was recently pointed out that no eighteenth-century antiquarian exploration was complete without a walking stick (as we saw above, Grose even named his Cuddy). Judging by the images above, it seems the eighteenth-century antiquarian’s field kit also required a quizzing glass for closer looks.


About T.H. Gray

T.H. Gray is the self-appointed court jester and Dr. Demento for the history museum field. A lifelong museum professional and reenactor, he is a graduate of the prestigious Peale-Barnum Public History Museum Studies Program. Until 2011, when the AHS hired him away, he was on staff at the Benjamin Dover Memorial Museum & Swimming Pool ("Our History is All Wet!"). He remembers when museums were still about history, science, and art. BTW, all of these posts say they are by T.H. Gray because he can't turn off the byline. Credit, when due, is given. View all posts by T.H. Gray

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