This is a Hone/Cruickshank collaboration that appears at the end of Hone's The Right Divine of Kings to Govern Wrong (Hone, Ludgate Hill), published in March 1821. The print is a companion to the print at the front of the pamphlet depicting the Prince Regent in the coronation of a tyrant - and implicitly referencing the speech of the Bishop of London (Howley) on the divorce clause in the Bill of Pains and Penalties (7 November 1820) in which it was said: 'It was a maxim of the constitution ....that the king could do no wrong.'

This end print depicts the resulting transformation of tyranny into a mechanical agent of destruction charging the tree of liberty and dealing death and destruction all around him. In the immediate aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre, the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, wrote to the Manchester magistrates to convey the Prince Regent's thanks for having taken their timely action 'in the preservation of the public peace.' The government's response was unapologetic and they pursued prosecutions against those they identified as responsible for calling the meeting - notably Henry Hunt (sentenced to 30 months), Samuel Bamford, 'Dr' Joseph Healey, John Johnson (sentenced for one year) and John Knight (sentenced for two years).

On 23 November 1819, the Prince Regent addressed the opening of Parliament and called for new legislation to assist in the suppression of sedition and insurrection, especially in the north of the country:

'I regret to have been under the necessity of calling you together at this period of the year; but the seditious practices so long prevalent in some of the manufacturing districts of the country have been continued with increased activity since you were last assembled in parliament. They have led to proceedings incompatible with the public tranquillity, and with the peaceful habits of the industrious classes, of the community; and a spirit is now fully manifested, utterly hostile to the constitution of this kingdom, and aiming not only at the change of those political institutions which have hitherto constituted the pride and security of this country, but at, the subversion of the rights of property and of all order in society. I have given directions that the necessary information on this subject shall be laid before you; and I feel it to be my indispensable duty, to press on your immediate attention the consideration of such measures as may be requisite for the counteraction and suppression of a system which, if not effectually checked, must bring confusion and ruin on the nation.'

This copy of the print, held in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, has a pencil note below that only two impressions of the print were made. This suggests that it may have been made earlier, but was printed in 1821 as part of the aftermath of the Queen Caroline Affair - probably for fear of prosecution for sedition earlier, for while there were several caricatures of the massacre, this turned attention to the Prince Regent lashing out indiscriminately with sword and fire.

Dorothy George's Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum (BMC 14134) points to references to the Naples Revolution of 1820 and then the forcible restoration of autocracy by Ferdinand, in early March 1821. In the pamphlet version the image has the following verse below

A thing of no bowels ________
_____from the crown to the toe, topfull
Of direst cruelty. __His Realm a slaughter-house
The swords of soldiers are his teeth___
Iron for NAPLES, hid with English Gilt.

Hone attributes the quotation to Shakespeare - it is a conglomerate of lines from Troilus and Cressida, King John, and Henry VI Pt III. It is certainly possible that the engraving was not originally intended to reference Ferdinand (as against satirising the Prince Regent), the gibbet in the rear left alongside an executioner does seem to be a reference to the executions of the Cato Street Conspirators, who were ordered to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, but had their sentence commuted to hanging and decapitation, which was put into effect in May 1820. The engraving could have been made at any point between then and March 1821.