Verbs with Adverbs


The image is divided down the center of the page into two parts. On the left, a man holds an axe over his head, preparing to chop at the base of a tree. There is a severed tree limb lying on the ground on his left. The base of the tree is nearly cut through, and the tree leans towards the right, about to fall. Above the man's head are the words "to work"; below the image is the word "diligently." On the right side of the page, a man straddles a felled trunk. He rests the end of the axe in his left hand against the ground, and holds his right hand to the side of his head. His shirtfront appears to be partially open. Above his head are, again, the words "to work," and below, "idly." All words are in capital letters.

Primary Works: 

The Elements of English Grammar

Accession Number: 

CA 9566

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Printing Context: 

"Verbs with Adverbs" appeared in The Elements of English Grammar, by Ingram Cobbins.

Associated Events: 

The Bristol Bridge Riot (1793)

The Bristol Bridge riot began as a protest against the plan to introduce a toll for crossing the Bristol Bridge; the plan also included the destruction of several houses in order to build an access road. The protesters assembled at the bridge on September 30th, 1793; the gathering quickly turned violent. Eleven people were killed and fifty-two were injured, making it not only one of the worst riots  of the turbulent decade, but of the eighteenth century as a whole (Harrison 558). This riot and several others occurring in the 1790s caused deep unease in the upper classes, who feared that more violence would follow (Jones). Though the riot was grounded not in class struggle but in anger at the poor handling of toll collection by the city aldermen, the riot was widely perceived outside Bristol as stemming from revolutionary sentiment—an image the aldermen likely encouraged to cover their own mishandling of the situation (Jones 90). Regardless of its actual causes, however, the Bristol Bridge Riot shows that by 1793 “official perceptions of mobs and riots had changed,” as no other riot over similar issues had ever met with such a severe military response (Jones 92).

The Peterloo Massacre (1819)

Named in ironic comparison with the Battle of Waterloo, the Peterloo Massacre was the “acknowledged climax” of numerous large meetings for parliamentary reform (Poole 254). The massacre took place on August 16th, 1819 at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester. A crowd numbering between 50,000 and 60,000, tired of the hardships brought on by the end of the Napoleonic Wars, had met to hear the radical Henry Hunt speak for reform. Acting on an order by local officials to arrest Hunt, cavalry charged the crowd, resulting in seventeen deaths and over 650 injuries, most of which were inflicted by sabers. A quarter of the injuries were received by children (Poole 254). The event provided further fuel for the fears of the upper class concerning revolution, and so formed the basis for parliament’s passage of the Six Acts, which aimed to close down reform efforts by limiting the rights of those suspected of radical activity.

Associated Places: 


Bristol is a coastal city located in southwest England. It was a center of trade in the eighteenth century, along with Liverpool. In addition to the riot of 1793, Bristol was the site of several more riots in the early nineteenth century as Liverpool became a more significant competitor and trade fell due to the abolition of slavery.


Known today as the “Capital of the North,” Manchester is located in northwest England. As the first city in the world to be truly industrialized, Manchester played a central role in the Industrial Revolution, which brought great prosperity to some and crippling poverty to others. This made it a frequent site of labor riots in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Associated Texts: 


Like "Verbs with Adverbs," "Verbs" appears as an illustration in Ingram Cobbin's Elements of English Grammar.


While the other illustration from Cobbin's Elements of English Grammar (the first image of the gallery) uses visual figures to personify discussed terms, this image provides a picture of the action described by the accompanying text: that is, the illustration acts as an example, rather than a symbolic representation, of the lesson. In the two parts of the image, a man is depicted performing the same action—chopping wood—in different ways, as described by the adverb labeling each half. In the left half of the image the man is represented in the act of chopping wood to illustrate the fact that he is working, according to the label, "diligently"; in the right half, he is seen leaning on his axe to show that he is working, according to the corresponding label, "idly." Consequently, the two mirror images demonstrate how adverbs, as stated by the text of the lesson, give verbs a "more distinct meaning."


Education. Middle class. Lower class.


With both his textbooks on arithmetic and grammar published in several editions, Ingram was a popular and influential author of educational materials (Cooper). While the images in his books are rarely overtly religious (unlike those of contemporaries Hannah More and Sarah Trimmer), they do reflect the practice of using children’s images to maintain social control. The fact that Ingram’s textbooks contain black-and-white woodcuts rather than colored engravings shows that they were intended for middle- and lower-class students, so it is unsurprising that this illustration is aimed at “[forming] the lower class to habits of industry and virtue" (Kinnell 50). Because of the increasing number of mass gatherings for reform (culminating in the violence of the Peterloo Massacre), the upper classes were eager to remind the lower classes of their duties and "proper place." “My object has not been to teach dogmas and opinions,” Hannah More wrote to fellow conservative John Bowdler, “but to form the lower class to habits of industry and virtue" (Stott 120). This image, with its intent to associate education with hard work, is an example of this kind of educational strategy.

This tying together of two ideas shows the continued connection between visual pedagogy and associationism. In its most basic form, associationism “offers intimations of the viewer's close coupling of simplified forms to the complex material and immaterial experiences they conjure up" (Stafford, Romantic Systematics 319). Many children’s authors, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft among them, followed Locke’s example by embracing the theory’s relevance to education (Ruwe 5). Though this image would, according to that theory, provide a mental association between the verb forms and their appropriate subjects, it would also form a negative association between learning and physical punishment—something Locke was against.


Images in children’s textbooks of the period were intended to provide students with an example of the concept or subject being addressed; they were also commonly intended to subtly educate students about the types of behavior appropriate for their social class.


Cooper, Thompson. “Cobbin, Ingram (1777–1851).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Web. 6 May 2009.

Harrison, Mark. " 'To Raise and Dare Resentment': The Bristol Bridge Riot of 1793." The Historical Journal 26.3 (1983): 557-85. Print.

Jones, Philip D. "The Bristol Bridge Riot and Its Antecedents: Eighteenth-Century Perception of the Crowd." The Journal of British Studies 19.2 (1980): 74-92. Print.

Kinnell, Margaret. “Scepterless, Free, Uncircumscribed? Radicalism, Dissent and Early Children’s Books.” British Journal of Educational Studies. 36.1 (1988): 49-71. Print.

Poole, Robert. “ ‘By the Law or the Sword’: Peterloo Revisited.” History 91.302 (2006): 254–76. Print.

Ruwe, Donelle. "Guarding the British Bible from Rousseau: Sarah Trimmer, William Godwin, and the Pedagogical Periodical." Children's Literature 29 (2001): 1-17. Print.

Stafford, Barbara Maria. Artful Science: Enlightenment Entertainment and the Eclipse of Visual Education. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 1993. Print.

Stafford, Barbara. “Romantic Systematics and the Genealogy of Thought: The Formal Roots of a Cognitive History of Images.” Configurations 12.3 (2004): 315-48. Print.

Stott, Anne. Hannah More. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.

Long Title: 

An Adverb describes the meaning of the Verb more correctly.
Artist Unknown



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