Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hone, William (1780–1842). The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder, a National Toy, With Fourteen Step Scenes; and Illustrations in Verse...

The “Trial of Queen Caroline,” otherwise known as the “delicate investigation,” is the subject of Cruikshank and Hone’s satiric attack. George IV (1762–1830) leveled a bogus adultery charge against his consort, Queen Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821) after she refused her estranged husband’s financial offer to renounce her title. The public overwhelmingly supported the Queen and recognized the frivolity of the King’s lawsuit. All charges were subsequently dropped. This bogus trial became fertile grounds for satire, which targeted the foolish behavior of the king and his court.

This pamphlet sold extremely well as evidenced by its numerous editions of publication. It became the most popular pamphlet printed after The Political House That Jack Built. Each pamphlet was originally sold with a toy ladder (not shown). Hone used the concept both as a marketing gimmick and as a satiric device. The ladder contained fourteen steps, each of which represented by a title of an unfolding drama and culminating in the defeat and humiliation of the king.

LC 9:336

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