- Museum number
Political pamphlet "The Political House that Jack Built" consisting of 24 pages with 13 wood-engraved illustrations including the vignette on the title page.
Lettering on the title page reads "The Political House that Jack Built: A straw thrown up to show which way the wind blows with thirteen cuts / [vignette, see below] / The Pen and the Sword, Sixth Edition, London: Printed by and For William Hone, Ludgate Hill, 1819, One Shilling." 1819.
The text is a defence of civil liberties and an indictment of the Peterloo massacre and more generally of the political establishment. It takes the form of a children's nursery rhyme interspersed with quotations in a smaller text and woodcut illustrations. The significance of the illustration is often inscribed nearby in the text in bold capital letters and can be understood as its title.
1. Title page vignette [BM Satires 13292] Wellington standing by a pair of scales, throwing his sword into a scale heaped with three large documents: 'Ex-Officio' ['Informations', see BM Satires. 11717.], 'Bill of Indemnity', 'Bank Restriction'. These are outweighed by a single quill pen. This cut, one of many on the power of the Press, is adapted in BM Satires 13318; see also vol. x.
2. "THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT." [BM Satires 13293] The Temple of the Constitution is represented as a dome supported on three columns: 'Commons', 'King', 'Lords', and surmounted by a figure of Liberty holding a cap of Liberty on a staff.
For similar temples imitating this one, see BM Satires 13307 and 13333. It derives from the old fashioned emblematical print, cf (eg) BM Satires 4179 (1767) and 5126 Reproduced, Hackwood, op.cit.,p221.
3. "THE WEALTH" [BM Satires 13294] An open chest with Gothic panels and decorated with fasces contains 'Magna Charta', 'Bill of Rights', and 'Habeas Corpus'. Beside it are coins, money-bags, and a book.
4. "THE VERMIN". [BM Satires 13295] In the centre stands a clerical magistrate (Ethelston, see BM Satires 13281, &c.), a constable's staff in one hand, Bible in the other, as in BM Satires 13282. The others are a Court Chamberlain, holding a wand (Hertford), a hussar officer, a tax-collector with a savage expression holding a book inscribed 'Kings Taxes', a barrister, probably Gifford, see BM Satires 13297, and (behind) a soldier wearing a lancer's helmet.
5. "THE THING" [BM Satires 13296] A printing-press.
"For the six acts cf. BM Satires 13287. Copies or adaptations symbolizing the freedom of the press appear in many prints.
6. "THE PUBLIC INFORMER". [BM Satires 13297] Gifford, the Attorney-General, stands in profile to the right, a brief in the left hand, in the right a bag containing briefs marked 'Ex Officio' [see BM Satires 11717, &c.].
7. "THE REASONS OF LAWLESS POWER." [BM Satires 13298] A jailor holding keys and shackles stands beside a cannon, with its artilleryman holding a match, a grenadier with his bayonet ready for attack, and a mounted Life Guard, sabre in hand.
8. "THE MAN" or "THE DANDY OF SIXTY." [BM Satires 13299] The Regent, heavily whiskered, stands tightly encased in dandified uniform, his body covered with orders, including a corkscrew and the Golden Fleece. In his cocked hat are three peacock's feathers. He wears gauntlet gloves and spurred jack-boots, highly polished; his hand is on his sword.
For the spurned friends see No.11855 &c. The peacock's feathers (replacing ostrich feathers became a common attribute of the Regent in caricature, see BM Satires 13305, 13344 and vol x Cf.No.13315.
9. "THE PEOPLE". [BM Satires 13300] In the foreground is a despairing family, starving and ragged. In the background yeomanry ride down women and children, slashing with sabres.
For Peterloo see BM Satires 13258 &c; for the Regent thanks, BM Satires 13266.
10. "THE DOCTOR". [BM Satires 13301] Sidmouth, holding a clyster-pipe and a constable's staff, Castlereagh holding a scourge, and Canning, stand together. The first is senile, the second bland and dandified, the third aggressive. The text reads:
"A Driv'ller, a Bigot, a Knave without shame:
And that's Derry Down Traingle by name..
And that is THE SPOUTER OF FROTH BY THE HOUR,
The worthless colleague of their infamous power;
Who dubbed him 'the Doctor' whom now he calls 'brother'
And get at his Place, took a shot at the other;,,,
Their Flash-man, their Bravo, a son of a --
The hate of the People...[&c}.
These phrases on 'the Guilty Trio' became catchwords and were used in lampoons, satires and caricatures. For Sidmouth's circular see BM Satires 13282, for Derry Down 10426 and 12900; for Canning and 'The Doctor' see 9849; for his duel with Castlereagh, 11370 & Canning's mother, Mrs. Hunn was bitterly attacked in the Radical press, see vol x.
11. "This WORD is the Watchword". [BM Satires 13302] A fringed banner inscribed 'REFORM' hangs squarely from a cross-piece on a vertical shaft, surmounted by a laurel-wreath.
12. "THIS IS A PRIEST" [BM Satires 13303] Heading to thirty-five lines of verse appended to the parody, beginning 'This is a Priest, made "according to Law"'. A parson (Ethelston) with two heads and two pairs of arms, emerges Janus-like from a double rostrum, one half pulpit, the other a magistrate's seat. One (left) holds up a cross, the other (right) a miniature gallows. The latter also holds blunderbuss, scourge, and shackles. On the pulpit 'I H S' surmounts an irradiated triangle; on the other panel is an irradiated crown surmounted by 'G P R'. Either based on or the original of, BM Satires 13281.
13. Tailpiece, a cap of 'Liberty', irradiated, and encircled with a laurel-wreath [BM Satires 13304].
Woodcut illustrations on letterpress pamphlet
- Production date
Height: 222 millimetres (approx)
Width: 135 millimetres (approx)
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949, 13292:)
The fear of militarism, aggravated by Wellington's inclusion in the Cabinet in 1818 and by 'Peterloo', see No. 13258, was increased by the Regent's speech at the opening of Parliament, 23 Nov. 1819. For Bank Restriction see BM Satires No. 13198, &c. The popularity of this pamphlet, which started a vogue for illustrated verse satires, owed much to G. Cruikshank's illustrations, see BM Satires 13293-13304 (Reid, Nos. 2897-2909). [Each cut has also a quotation, abridged examples only being here transcribed.] The tract was reissued in 'Hone's Facetiae', 1827. The blocks of all but BM Satires 13292 (which was copied and altered), 13297, 13299, 13301, 13302 were used in 'The Political Alphabet', 1830. Hone had been anticipated by recent parodies in the 'Examiner', 11 Oct. 1819, and the 'Black Dwarf', 3 Nov. 1819. An 'Edition with "new readings"', 'The Reformers House that Jack built for 1820', appeared in the latter, 26 Jan. 1820. See BM Satires 13306, &c., 13318, &c., 13331, &c., 13370, &c. Cf. No. 13277.
Reid, Nos. 2897, 4713. Cohn, No. 663. Hackwood, 'Life and Times of William Hone', 1912, pp. 220-3; Wickwar, 'Struggle for the Freedom of the Press 1819-1832', 1928, p. 132 f.
For further reading on Cruikshank's collaborations with William Hone see Patten R L, George Cruikshank's Life, Times and Art Volume 1: 1792-1835, pp150-186.
Bound as part of "Political Tracts Volume 1." A compilation of satirical and political pamphlets published circa 1819-1822, one of 10 volumes.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- See the letter book for 1865 for papers relating to the collection, including a list drawn up in Cruikshank's own hand.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number