In modern times in the UK we’ve had TV programmes that mock public figures and policy, such as “Have I got news for you” and (if you’re old enough to remember) “Spitting image” and “That was the week that was”. Two hundred years ago newspapers and pamphlets made fun of authority figures, using satire, parody and cartoons in much the same way we are used to today. Under the repressive government of 1816 this was a dangerous thing to do. William Hone’s parody of the Lord’s Prayer (“Our lord who art in Treasury”) and of other pieces of the church liturgy led to his prosecution for blasphemy. It was his way of protesting at how a peaceful march for democratic rights was turned into a riot at Spa Fields, London, by a handful of troublemakers, incited by government spies. The government was not above using such sarcasm itself. Following the suppression of the riot, it published a mock “death notice” in one of the more conservative periodicals: “Died on Saturday last, … the plot of Spa Fields.”
Susan Leona Fisher : an author's progress.