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Man in the Moon Files

Editor's Introduction
Prince Regent's Speech

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The Man in the Moon

Editor's Introduction

[1] The Man in the Moon (late 1819-early 1820) presents one of Hone's responses to the Peterloo massacre and its contentious aftermath.  In late November of 1819, responding to a kind of panic among the ruling classes, the Prince Regent convened a special session of Parliament called for the express purpose of passing measures intended to stem the perceived threat of domestic unrest.  These draconian measures came collectively to be known as the "Six Acts."  They included an increase in the size of the standing army, restrictions on public meetings, and—most important in Hone's case—tight restrictions on the freedom of the press.  All of the measures were passed between 23 November, when the extraordinary session began, and 29 December, when it adjourned.

[2] Hone's publication contains a satirical poem depicting a parallel series of events transposed, by the device of a dream narrative, to a lunar landscape.  The wondering spectator/dreamer describes a special session of the Parliament during which a rather portly "Prince of Lunataria" addresses his assembled legislators.  The address, of course, is a parody of the concerns of the English Prince Regent.  He begins with an inspired description of the current domestic situation:

Reform, Reform, the swinish rabble cry—
Meaning, of course, rebellion, blood, and riot—
Audacious rascals! you, my Lords, and I,
Know 'tis their duty to be starved in quiet[.]

Then, as the Regent swells to his theme, he advocates in turn an increase in the taxation on "Johnny Moon-calf" (the lunar equivalent of John Bull), the increased use of the military ("steel lozenges") for the violent repression of the lower orders, and greater vigilance in stopping the "circulation of little books."  The "little books" are a particular danger, argues the Prince, because "they are full of blasphemies and libels, / And people read them oftener than their bibles."  The commotion ensuing after the Prince's speech jostles the narrator awake once again and thus dispels the satirical lunar vision. Since the bulk of Hone's publication consists of a parody of the Prince Regent's speech of 23 November, the edition includes a transcription of that speech as it was reprinted in the newspapers of the day.

[3] Although The Man in the Moon is almost always associated with his name, Hone claims that he did not write the satire (Facetiae and Miscellanies, vii).  He apparently served chiefly as its publisher.  Still, judging by such internal evidence as the very "Hone-ian" dedication and the use of George Cruikshank's engravings, it would seem that Hone was very closely involved with the production of this "little book"—whether or not he actually wrote the poem.  

This electronic edition of The Man in the Moon consists of two sets of interlinked pages.  One set is made up simply of full page scans of the complete text.  Readers unfamiliar with Hone's and Cruikshank's illustrated pamphlets would likely want to begin by skimming through these facsimile pages.  (The full text, including the front matter, is only about sixteen pages long.)  A second set of pages consists of somewhat larger and more clearly legible transcriptions of the facsimile pages.  These are included to facilitate reading—which can be difficult on the scanned facsimiles—and to enable "cut and paste" excerpting.  Both the facsimile and the transcription sets are fully interlinked, and the transcription pages also have links to higher-resolution "close-ups" of Cruikshank's engravings and to the explanatory notes that appear as footnotes. I have also included a "raw" TEI-encoded version of the text.

My copy text for the present edition is the 27th edition originally printed in 1821 and later gathered into the Facetiae and Miscellanies volume in 1827. Though the edition numbers are not always (or even usually) trustworthy, I have examined a number of different editions and found no significant alterations in text or engravings.