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Caricature & Satire, Laurie & Whittle, Dick Dock, Lobster & Crab, London, Antique Print, 1806


Dick Dock, or the Lobster & Crab (Plate No. 438)
Laurie & Whittle, 53 Fleet Street, London: August 16, 1806
Copperplate engraving
9 x 10 1/2 inches, sheet
8 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches, image including text

A narrative poem or song about the confrontation between two old sailors outdoor table of a tavern overlooking the port of Greenwich on the Thames River, illustrated with an engraving. Dick Dock, a wild-eyed man with a wooden leg, begins a drunken rant taunting a stranger about his maimed hand. The other man, Old Hannibal, replies that if he’s a lobster, Dock’s a crab, and that a man with a missing leg has some nerve spouting such insults. On hearing the name Old Hannibal, Dick Dock instantly regrets his words, realizing this is the man who had plunged into the water and rescued him from marauding sharks, who in the process tore at his arm. Hannibal, in turn, realizes that Dock is the man who successfully pleaded on his behalf to the enemy French sailors who boarded the ship in the aftermath of the shark incident. The two old sailors make up and end by toasting King George and Britain. The poem is reprinted below.


Robert Laurie (1755-1836) and James Whittle (1757-1818) were London map, chart and printsellers active from 1794 to 1812 trading variously as Laurie and Whittle or Whittle and Laurie. Laurie began his career as a fine mezzotint engraver and exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1770 to 1776. With Whittle, they took over the large map and print business of Robert Sayer. Laurie & Whittle published many atlases and maps and products used for jigsaw puzzles. Robert’s son, Richard Holmes Laurie, succeeded him upon his retirement in 1812, and after Whittle’s death in 1818 carried on the business alone until at least 1840. The firm still exists as Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson Ltd., which has long specialized in marine charts.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, soiling, wear, soft creases. Few marginal short tears neatly restored.

Dick Dock, or the Lobster & Claw

Dick Dock a tar at Greenwich moor’d,
One day had got his beer on board,
When he a poor maim’d pensioner from Chelsea saw;
And for to have his jeer and flout —
For the grog once in, the wit’s soon out,
Cries, How, good Master Lobster did you lose your claw;
Was’t that night in a drunken fray?
Or t’other, when you run away?
But hold you Dick, the poor sot has one foot in the grave,
For slander’s wind too fast you fly,
Do you think it fun? you swab you lie,
Misfortunes ever claim the pity of the brave.

Old Hannibal in words as gross,
For he like Dick had got his dose,
So to have his bout at grumbling took a spell;
If I’m a lobster, Master Crab,
By the information on your nab,
In some skirmish or other they have crack’d your shell;
And then how you hobbling go,
On that jury-mast, your timber-toe
A nice one to find fault, with one foot in the grave;
But halt! Old Hannibal, halt! halt!
Distress was never yet a fault,
Misfortunes ever claim the pity of the brave.

If Hannibal’s your name, d’ye see,
As sure as they Dick Dock call me,
As once it did fall out, I ow’d my life to you;
Spilt from my hause once when ’twas dark,
And nearly swallow’d by a shark,
Who boldly plung’d in, sav’d me and pleas’d all the crew.
If that’s the case then, cease your jeers,
When boarded by the same Monsieurs,
You, like a true English lion, snatch’d me from the grave,
Crying, Cowards! do the Man no harm;
Damme, don’t you see he’s lost his arm:
Misfortunes ever claim the pity of the brave.

Let’s broach a can before we part,
A friendly one with all my heart,
And as we push the grog about, we’ll cheerly sing,
On land and sea may Britons fight;
The Worlds example and delight,
And conquer every enemy of George our King:
Tis he who proves the hero’s friend,
His beauty waits us to our end,
Tho’ crippled and laid up, with, one foot in the grave;
Then, tars and soldiers never fear,
You shall not want compassion’s tear,
Misfortunes ever claim the pity of the brave.


Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. 2001. and (18 March 2002).

Additional information


19th Century