Wednesday, April 6, 2011

William Hone Part III

The Man in the Moon, by Mathew Crowther

“Another remarkable little book, equally solid and ornamental (which we cannot say of its heroes) has appeared from the shop of Mr. Hone... Its caricatures , full of high and huge, if not great personages, are as abundant in meaning , and better drawn than Mr Gillray’s – and the letter press is worthy of them” -- Examiner 16th January 1820.

Two months after releasing the Political House that Jack Built, Hone issued a second illustrated pamphlet entitled The Man in the Moon. The pamphlet, which was not actually written by Hone but by an anonymous collaborator, describes a dream in which the narrator visits the Moon and witnesses the Regent of ‘Lunitaria’ addressing the opening of the Lunar Parliament. Lunitaria is represented as a conservative dystopia in which the events which had recently unfolded in Britain, such as Peterloo and the implementation of the notorious Six Acts, are replayed and brought to a conclusion which is deemed satisfactory to the lunar kingdom’s despotic rulers. One of the most striking images shows poor protestors demanding reform and bread in ‘Lunashire’ being fed instead on the ‘steel lozenges’ of the army’s bayonets.

The Man in the Moon is notably different from The Political House... in that it clearly sought to shock its audience, rather than merely amusing them by tearing a few strips off the Prince Regent and the assorted aristocrats that made up the British Government. The fact that it achieved its desired effect was in no small part thanks to the notable improvement in the standard of Cruikshank’s illustrations which move beyond the static images of the first pamphlet to depict a greater degree of movement and emotion.

Once again Hone’s pamphlet was followed by a slew of Tory copycats.

Next: A Political Christmas Carol

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