This is a wonderful socialist handbill - A4 size - dating probably from the late 1890s. I like it above all because of the sense of continuity with the ultra-radicalism of the Regency period eighty years earlier.
One side of the handbill is given over to a long piece of political doggerel, 'The Social House that Jack Built'. it's by 'T.B.', which is likely to be Thomas Bolas. He was an idiosyncratic and obscure figure within the late nineteenth century socialist movement. In 1886, he published a short-lived paper, the Practical Socialist, and seems to have been associated with William Morris's Socialist League.
Thomas Bolas (1848-1932) was a professor at the Charing Cross medical school and has a footnote in photographic history as a pioneer of what became known as the 'detective camera'.
And the political rhyme? Well it is a riff on a nursery rhyme, 'The House that Jack Built', which concludes:
This is the horse and the hound and the horn
That belonged to the farmer sowing his corn
That kept the rooster that crowed in the morn
That woke the judge all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.
William Hone adapted the rhyme for the most successful of his Regency-era radical diatribes, The Political House that Jack Built - illustrated marvellously and mischievously by George Cruikshank.
It was fuelled by the rage over the Peterloo massacre at a Reform meeting in Manchester in August 1819.
And that's Wellington on the front of the pamphlet - though Cruikshank's target was most woundingly 'the Dandy of 60', the Prince Regent who in 1820 became George the Fourth.
The huge success of Hone's squib (my copy is the 53rd edition) stimulated a legion of similar adaptations of the old nursery rhyme - of both radical and anti-radical hue:
How wonderful to see Hone's words still being used and adapted towards the close of the century. I wondered at first whether Bolas simply drew from the nursery rhyme - the illustrator Randolph Caldecott's best-selling version was published in 1878. But Bolas's reference to 'the worker, tattered and torn' shows he was well aware of Hone's adaptation.
The other side of the handbill, by the way, is an agglomeration of short quotes pertaining to socialism along with a brief piece (from where I am not sure) by George Bernard Shaw about the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin:
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