Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Answer to John Bull's Complaint

by Mathew Crowther

This 1815 William Heath print nicely sums up the palpable sense of anger and injustice that must have been in the air of late Regency Britain. It was published by bookseller Thomas Tegg and shows a ragged John Bull being berated by the Prince Regent.

Why you unnatural grumbler. After I have done all I could to get rid of your money you still grumble. Did I not give you a Fete,* did I not build you a Bridge,** did I not treat you with a smell of all the nice things at my feast did I not sign the Corn Bill, did I not refuse you address, have I not drank whole pipes of wine for fear it should be wasted, have I not spent all your money because you should not spend it yourself, have you not got the Income Tax to keep you sober? And as for your dress, the thinner the better for the summer season. So Johnny, go home to work. It's all for the good of your country.

* On the 19th June 1811 the Regent had staged a spectacularly lavish summer fete at Carlton House in honour of visiting members of the exiled French royal household.

** This may be a reference to Regent Bridge in Edinburgh which was purpose-built, at a cost of £52,000, in order to create a suitably elegant means by which the Prince could enter the city on his visit in 1819.

The advertisements in the back of Hone's pamphlets are actually almost as interesting as the satires themselves and usually contain fascinating biographical titbits as well as the odd jibe at Hone's detractors and plagiarists. The two pages of advertisements found at the back of A Political Christmas Carol for example contains a witty mock advertisement for a house sale in which Hone warns his customers to beware of imitation version of The Political House which “are easily known from the original House by their customers being few in number, and of description better understood than expressed” and advertisements for Hone's unfinished magnum opus A Complete History of Parody.

No comments:

Post a Comment