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The Six Acts were a response to growing unrest, exacerbated by Peterloo and the failure to obtain any redress for the radicals, which the government sought to close down. It had suspended habeas corpus and introduced legislation against seditious meetings in 1817 following the Spa Fields Riot of December 1816, what appeared to be a shot fired at the Prince Regent following the opening of Parliament in January 1817, and the Blanketeers March from Manchester in March 1817. But the former measure was thought to be ineffective and it was restored the following year. As unrest grew in 1819, and intensified following Peterloo, Lord Liverpool's government, with Lord Sidmouth as Home Secretary, recalled Parliament early (in November) and passed legislation (known as the Six Acts) to curb popular disorder (introduced into the House on 29 November, and receiving Royal assent on 30th December). The Acts made military training illegal; further limited rights to hold political meetings of more than fifty people; magistrates were given powers to undertake household searches without a warrant; newspaper duties were increased further and extended to cover all cheap publications; the laws against blasphemous and seditious libel were strengthened by adding a clause authorising banishment for seven years on a second conviction; and steps were taken to speed the process from indictment to trial and conviction for offenders.

The Acts were not widely contested, because of internal divisions within parliament and the reform movement, and they passed into law - leading at least some of the reformers to conclude that they had no alternative to conspiracy available to them. In the following month or two the foundations for the Cato Street Conspiracy to blow up the Cabinet were laid, and then betrayed, leading to the execution of five of the conspirators in May 1820. George Cruickshank's two prints depict the shackling of the reformer's mind and body by the six acts - with the locked jaw being a trope used (by West/Fores) in a caricature from 1795 in A Lock's Jaw for John Bull - in which Pitt locks John Bull's mouth shut (a reference to the Gagging acts of November 1795). Cruckshank's image was also used in a simpler form in William Hone's Political Alphabet, under Q - 'Q stands for Question - How long shall this be a portrait of man destin'd to be free?'
In the wake of the Six Acts several reform papers, including The Cap of Liberty and Medusa collapsed, but others sought new means to circumvent the laws. One such instance was William Hone's pamphlet, with his first use of George Cruikshank engravings, Man in the Moon, which satirised the Prince Regent's Speech on the early re-opening of Parliament and demonstrated that while prose might be prosecuted for sedition, parody and verse could be far more effective and was far more difficult to prosecute.

The parody of the speech begins -
My L__rds and G___tl__n, I grieve to say
That poor Old Dad
Is just as _bad
As when I met you here the other day...
and continued....
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:
But they have grumbling habits, incompatible
With the repose of our august community.

In an unpredictable twist, the death of George III in January 1820, and the accession of George IV generated a new constitutional crisis with respect to the claims of George's estranged wife, Queen Caroline. The London radical movement was suddenly rejuvenated by the crisis and used the Queen's return as the basis for a range of meetings and addresses that evaded the Six Acts by being couched as loyal addresses to the sovereign's wife.
The Queen Caroline affair was a curious final act in the fortunes of post-war London radicalism, which subsequently took a much more muted form, with popular support for George IV reviving in the 1820s.