- Museum number
Political pamphlet of 32 pages entitled:
‘The political alphabet. With notes and illustrations embellished by thirty-two engravings from designs by George Cruikshank, Esq.’
1.Frontispiece Illustration. BM Satires 13296, Reid 2901. A printing-press, carefully drawn. With the publisher’s details at the foot of the page. Originally, ‘This is the thing, that, in spite of New Acts,... in ‘The political house that Jack built’, (1819)
Lettered beneath the illustration with the quotation: “Give me but the liberty of the press and I will give them a venal house of peers.-Sheridan.”
“Sixth Edition. London: Published by William Carpenter, at 21 Paternoster Row; and Sold by all Booksellers. Price Sixpence.”
On the verso. "London: Johnston, Printer, Liverpool Street, Bishopsgate."
A Reform era pamphlet illustrated with a combination of wood engravings from political pamphlets produced by George Cruikshank and William Hone circa 1819-1821 apart from B and C. The illustrations have been given new titles, often indebted to the originals, and appended with rhyming couplets and quotations.
2. BM Satires 14133. Reid 3155. ‘A’s Aristocracy –hideous sight!’
The coronation of a tyrant who sits full-face in royal robes, a huge sword with notched blade in the right hand, a fool's bauble in the left as sceptre, topped by a tiny skull wearing a fool's cap, to which a bladder is tied. He has fierce gaunt features, bristling hair and beard, and huge teeth. He wears coronation robes with a girdle of nooses of rope and great spurs with three rowels. One foot is planted on a footstool in which a dagger is thrust. A fat and drink-blotched bishop stands on a ladder (left) to anoint him with 'Oil of Steel', while in the left hand is a lamp-lighter's (or incendiary's) oil torch inscribed 'Discord'. A thin bishop (Manners-Sutton) stands on a sheaf of corn (emblem of tithes), raising two fingers in blessing, while he crowns the tyrant with an extinguisher (cf. BM Satires 13504) topped by a crown. The head of the king and the torch are irradiated as if with flame. Below: '"The devil will not have me damn'd, but the oil that is in me should set hell on fire" Shakespeare' [Falstaff in 'Merry Wives', V. v]." Originally published on the title page of ‘The Right divine of Kings to govern wrong.’ 1821.
3. Reid 5161. A Headpiece, ‘B is a brave one in liberty’s cause.’ Designed like the pediment of a monument, in the centre of which Sir Francis Burdett is portrayed as the Champion of Liberty and Truth, which he protects against a monster about to attack them from behind the cloak of Justice. On each side are trophies, the headsman’s axe, fetters & c.
4. Reid 3646. Cohn 364. ‘C is a contrast-revolting but true.’ A lady in Elizabethan dress, seated on a chair on a table, feeding an enormously fat baby with pap from a bowl at her side, ragged, starving children around the table legs begging for food, some dejectedly seated on the ground. Originally the frontispiece to 'The greatest happiness principle in morals and government explained and defended. In answer to the Edinburgh Review" (1830). Not previously published by Hone.
5. Reid 3156, BM Satires 14134. ‘D is a Despot, in whom ye may say.’ The crowned tyrant of illustration 2 has become a monster and tramples over the bodies of men, women, and children, brandishing sabre and fire-brand, about to destroy the 'Tree of Liberty' (right), a pole up which climbs a plant, and topped by a cap of Liberty. Its (crowned) head is a cannon-ball, with an aureole of daggers. The body is a mortar, the arms and thighs are shackles, the legs from the knee down are cannons, a royal robe floats from its shoulders. Buildings blaze in the background, and there is a scaffold, with two bodies hanging from a gibbet, while an executioner holds up a head. Originally the tailpiece from ‘The Right divine of Kings to govern wrong.' 1821.
6. Reid 3124. BM Satires 14168. ‘E is an eye whose glance scatters the crew.’ A giant eye, the pupil containing a tiny printing-press, cf. No. 13508, looks down upon characters represented in other illustrations of the satire, who lie in a confused heap, revengeful or despairing, while the 'Great Boots', representing George IV, see No. 14220, are in wild flight to the left. Wellington with his sword, and Castlereagh with dagger and scourge, attempt retaliation. The others are the Duke of York, Eldon, Liverpool, Sidmouth, an Archbishop (possibly Manners-Sutton), the Law Officers, and Clarence. Below: 'I'll watch them "tame" [him in orig.] "Shakspeare"' ['Othello', III. iii.] See Nos. 13801, 14180 (a parody). Originally 'My eye' from ‘The Political Showman at Home.’ 1821.
7. Reid 3104. BM Satires 14150. ‘F is fair freedom sustained by the press.’ Liberty stands beside a printing-press on which she rests a wreath of Laurels inscribed with the word “Reform”, framed in laurel (copied in BM Satires 14180); in her left hand is the staff of a cap of 'Liberty', also decorated with laurel. She tramples on broken fetters. Originally, 'The transparency' in ‘The Political Showman at Home.’ 1821 (In the original design, Liberty places a portrait of Queen Caroline on the press and she is the centre of rays which dispel the creatures of BM Satires 14151-69, together with the head of the Duke of York and the jack-booted legs of George IV which project from water or mire and are encircled by a ribbon: 'Honi Soit.')
8. Reid 2897. BM Satires 13292. ‘G is for General of insane renown.’ Wellington stands by a pair of scales, throwing his sword into a scale heaped with three large documents: 'Ex-Officio' Informations, see BM Satires No. 11717, &c.], 'Bill of Indemnity', 'Bank Restriction'. These are outweighed by a single (feather) pen. Originally printed on the titlepage of 'The political house that Jack built.' 1819.
9. Reid 3105. BM Satires 14149. ‘Here is the hero who’ll carry reform.’ An animated printing-press, supported on human legs; the letters 'P R E S S' are arranged to form the features, which are topped by an inkstand with pen-feathers as the hat. The whole is irradiated with flame and smoke. Originally, 'The showman' from ‘The political showman at home’, 1821.
10. Reid 3113. BM Satires 14158. ‘I’s an infestuous mischevous thing.’ An opossum hangs from a dilapidated tree inscribed 'People', his tail curled round a rotten branch inscribed 'Lords'. An upper branch is inscribed 'King'; a branch inscribed 'Commons' projects over a printing-press (right) which props the tree and is topped by a cap of Liberty (cf. No. 13296). The opossum is 'a boroughing creature' (a borough-owner in the Lords). Originally, 'The opossum.' From ‘The political showman at home.’ 1821
11. Reid 2908. BM Satires 13303. ‘J is for Janus with his double face.’ 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'. Originally published as 'This is a priest' from ‘The Political House that Jack Built.’ 1819.
12. Tailpiece not described. Two clerical figures in the foreground, one with a canon beating a drum, the other points a bayonet at a civilian who stumbles backwards with his hand raised while another cowers on the ground. A column of soldiers march in the background, with a quotation from Hudibras beginning: “What churches have such able pastors…” above the image.
13. Reid 3125. BM Satires 14169. ‘K stands for Kingcraft of vanity born.’ A scaly serpentine monster with huge fanged jaw, a crown of spikes, webbed wings, barbed tail, and spouting like a whale, swallows a heap of tiny men and women, and crushes others. Originally, published as ‘The legitimate vampire' in ‘The political showman at home.’ 1821.
14. Reid 3115. BM Satires 14159. [Tailpiece.] The Crown made into a rat trap and baited with gold. Originally the tailpiece to ‘Black rats’ in ‘The political showman at home’ 1821.
15. Reid 3109. BM Satires 14154. ‘L is a Locust of infernal birth.’ A scaly and fantastic locust wearing coronet and mitre represents the bishops. Originally published as ‘The locust’ in ‘The political showman at home.’ 1821.
16. Reid 3108. BM Satires 14153. ‘M. is a Mask, a happy invention.’ A face covered by a black mask, supported on clerical bands, one inscribed '41' [? 1641], the other '39' [Articles]. It is framed by a bushy episcopal wig, and supports a mitre on which are crossed canons. This is topped by a weathercock on which sceptre and crown are poised. Originally published as 'A mask. - (an incrustation - a relique.)' from ‘The political showman at home.’ 1821.
17. Reid 3121. BM Satires 14165. ‘N is for Noodle who croaks for the church.’ A quasi-gull with bag-like body and bag-wig for tail. Originally 'The booby.' In ‘the political showman at home.’ 1821.
18. Reid 3106. BM Satires. ‘O is for Old Bags.’ Eldon's ('Old Bags', see BM Satires. 12883) face, rectangular between two pendent bags representing his wig, is supported on a body formed by the Purse of the Great Seal. A hammer indicates the coal of his origin. Originally published as 'Bags. – (a Scruple Balance.)' in ‘The political showman at home’ 1821.
19. Reid 3107. BM Satires 14152. [Untitled] A quasi-realistic crocodile on a river bank, weeping, wearing a judge's wig composed of a pair of bags (the Green Bags, see BM Satires. 13735). Originally, ‘A Crocodile’ in ‘The political showman at home.’ The crocodile seemingly represents Sir John Leach [Gifford, according to Reid, but see BM Satires 14159], the Vice-Chancellor in 1821 when the illustration was first published, see BM Satires 13740.
20. Reid 2905. BM Satires 13300. ‘P is a picture of poverty’s sons.’ In the foreground is a despairing family, starving and ragged. In the background yeomanry ride down women and children, slashing with sabres. Originally published as ‘The People", an image of Peterloo in ‘The political house that Jack built.' 1819.
21. Reid 3146. BM Satires 13287. ‘Q stands for Question- how long shall this be..’ A variation on ‘A Free born Englishman! The admiration of the world!!! And the envy of surrounding nations!!!!!’ An emaciated man with padlocked mouth, his hands tied behind his back and his legs shackled. On the ground around him an axe bearing inscribed with the words “Algerine act,” a book entitled ‘Equal laws’ beneath his feet and a sword inscribed with the word “Justice” bent out of shape. This version bears a closer resemblance to the simplified versions of the print published under the title ‘Dt Slop’s obscenity.’ in William Hone’s satirical newspaper ‘A slap at slop’ in 1821 than the hand-coloured etching of 15 December 1819. The wording inscribed in the image differs in this pamphlet of 1830 differs from both of the earlier versions.
22. Reid 3114. BM Satires 14159. ‘R is a Rat known in Westminster Hall.’ Two rats with the heads and wigs of Baron Robert Gifford and Baron Lyndhurst (Attorney- and Solicitor-General respectively at the time of the original publication) running in furtive haste from left to right. Originally published as ‘Black rats’ in ‘The political showman at home’ 1821.
23. Reid 2907. BM Satires 13302. ‘S is the standard, now boldly unfurl’d.’ A fringed banner inscribed 'REFORM' hangs squarely from a cross-piece on a vertical shaft, surmounted by a laurel-wreath. Originally published as ‘This word is the watchword.’ In ‘The political house that Jack built.’ 1819.
24. Untitled tailpiece not described. A variation on BM Satires 13304. A cap of 'Liberty', irradiated, similar but not identical to that depicted in ‘The political house that Jack built.’ 1819.
25. Reid 2898. BM Satires 13293. ‘T is a temple, some fondly suppose.’ 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. Originally published as, ‘The house that Jack Built’ in ‘The political house that Jack built.’ 1819.
26. Reid 3103. BM Satires 14148. ‘U’s the unhuman putrescent corpse.’ A monster with seven hydra-heads, webbed wings, stands erect on the splayed legs of a bird of prey. The heads were those of the sovereigns of Europe circa 1821, crowned, and with the addition of bird's beaks. They are: the Pope, tonsure downwards, his tiara falling; Ferdinand VII, crown downwards, choked by bulky papers inscribed 'Constitution' [see No. 13709]; Louis XVIII, looking up, a tricolour cockade in his beak; Alexander, at the apex, swallowing an orb ; Frederick William III with a paper, 'Promised Constitution', in his beak; Ferdinand of Naples, head downwards, his gaping beak receiving the impact of an eruption from Vesuvius (the revolution of Naples, see BM Satires No. 14132). On the monster's chest hang emblems of the Saint Esprit. Originally the illustration on the title page of ‘The political showman at home.’ 1821
27. Reid 2900. BM Satires 13295. ‘V are the Vermin who swarm through the land.’ BM Satires. 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. Originally published as, ‘The vermin’ in ‘The Political house that Jack built.’ 1819.
28. Reid 2899, BM Satires 13294. ‘W is wealth, but not for the poor.’ 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. Originally published as,‘The wealth’ in ‘The Political house that Jack built.’ 1819.
29. Reid 3119, BM Satires 14163. ‘X an Xample of paternal rule.’ A dog with spiked collar tears at the fettered and prostrate Erin, her broken harp and cap of Liberty beside her. A shackle is inscribed 'Union'. In the background are a wheel (instrument of torture), two gibbets, and a man tied to a triangle (see BM Satires No. 14135). Originally published as ‘The Bloodhound’ in ‘The political showman.’ 1821.
30. Reid 3045. BM Satires 13518. ‘Y yields to no one- nor cunning nor force,’ A printing-press (as in BM Satires 13296), but surmounted by a cap of Liberty, is enclosed in a circle formed of a serpent, symbol of eternity. It is irradiated by a corona of dazzling light, or flame, from which two barristers flinch back. They are the Gifford and Lyndhurst. Originally the frontispiece to ‘A political Christmas Carol.’ 1820.
31. Reid 2903. BM Satires 13298. ‘Z is the ultima ratio regum’ 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. Originally published as "The Reasons of lawless power." From ‘The Political house that Jack built 1819.
32. Reid 2909. BM Satires 13304. A cap of 'Liberty', irradiated, and encircled with a laurel-wreath. Originally the tailpiece in ‘The political house that Jack built.’ 1819.
The final pages of the pamphlet carry advertisements for political publications from Carpenter.
Wood engraved illustrations on letterpress pamphlet
- Production date
Height: 191 millimetres
Width: 126 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Description from M. Dorothy George 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum' vols IX 1949 and X -1952 and GW Reid, 'Catalogue of Cruikshank's Works.' 1871.
Bound as part of 'Political Tracts Volume 10.' Number 10 of 10 volumes of pamphlets mainly published circa 1819-1822. Volume 10 is a collection of later pamphlets acquired from unknown sources.
The illustrations are taken out of their original order and contexts in this new pamphlet. However, it does retain the Cruikshank and Hone's pamphlets with verses and quotations accompanied by a related wood engraved illustration. Similarly, the new titles are indebted to Hone's original texts and ideals.
A number of the royal, clerical and political figures who were targets of the original satires had either died, left political office or acquire new roles by the time of this publication (see notes on associated persons.) Others, notably the Duke of Wellington, remained politically active and would have been easily recognisable in 1830.
- Not on display
- Associated names
Associated with: William Hone (Based on pamphlets produced collaboratively by George Cruikshank and William Hone)
Associated with: Sir Francis Burdett, 5th Baronet
Associated with: Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Associated with: Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and 2nd Marquess of Londonderry (Subject of many Cruikshank and Hone's original satires, died 1822.)
Associated with: John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon
Associated with: Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool (Subject of Cruikshank and Hone's original satires, died 1828.)
Associated with: Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth
Associated with: William IV, King of the United Kingdom (Satirised as the Duke of Clarence, became William IV in 1830.)
Associated with: Rev. Charles Wicksted Ethelston
Associated with: Sir John Leach
Associated with: Robert Gifford, Baron Gifford (Subject of Cruikshank and Hone's original satires, died 1826.)
Associated with: John Singleton Copley, Baron Lyndhurst
Associated with: Ferdinand VII, King of Spain
Associated with: Louis XVIII, King of France (Formerly King of France, died 1824.)
Associated with: Frederick William III, King of Prussia
Associated with: Pope Pius VII (Pope at the time of 'The political showman at home.' 1821, died 1823.)
- Associated titles
Associated Title: The political house that Jack built.
Associated Title: A Political Christmas carol
Associated Title: The right divine of Kings to govern wrong
Associated Title: The political showman- at home!
- Acquisition notes
- The acquisition source is unknown (2018). The 184.a.10/2 and 184.a.10/4 are catalogued by Reid and therefore must have entered the collection prior to publication of his 'Catalogue of Cruikshank's Works' 1871. Due to annotations by Elizabeth Senior on the pamphlets, they will have entered the collection before 1939.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number