Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hone, William (1780–1842) The political house that Jack built...with thirteen cuts... 14 ed. London W. Hone, 1819. A political satire...

One of the best-known satiric pamphlets by Cruikshank and Hone is The Political House that Jack Built, an illustrated pamphlet that sold over 100,000 copies soon after its publication. It is considered one of the most influential satires to appear in the early nineteenth century. In the pamphlet, Hone appropriates the popular nursery rhyme to attack the decadent government of King George IV and the corrupt legislature for imposing limits on freedom of expression. The “political house” in Hone’s pamphlet refers to the inalienable rights of the English People such as the Magna Carta, The Bill of Rights and habeas corpus, which were depicted as being ravaged by corrupt politicians and monarchs. Cruikshank added 13 woodcuts to Hone’s adaptation of the text. The illustrations consisted of caricatures of government ministers and officials, most notably of the Duke of Wellington and the Prince Regent. Cruikshank’s visual satire contributed to the pamphlet’s success. The readers who were unable to read or grasp Hone’s satiric captions and text would have been more likely to recognize the contemporary political figures depicted and ridiculed by Cruikshank.

LC 9:333

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