‘Jack Cade: A Tribute to the Much-Maligned Patriot (see ‘Henry VI’ Second Part. Act IV. Scene X)’, The Bulletin, 8 December 1894.

Jack Cade (8 Dec 1894), p. 22.jpg

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‘Jack Cade: A Tribute to the Much-Maligned Patriot (see ‘Henry VI’ Second Part. Act IV. Scene X)’, The Bulletin, 8 December 1894.


Alexander Iden, doggerel, Henry VI Part II, Jack Cade, John Bull, Kent, London, poetry, political commentary, rebellion, revolt, roast beef, verse, Victor J. Daley (1858-1905), William Shakespeare (c.1564-1616).


Victor Daley was an Irishman who came to Australia as a young man. He wrote romantic verse and was referred to by Vivian Smith as, “one of the most attractive poets of the nineties in Australia” (Vivian Smith, ‘Poetry’, The Oxford History of Australian Literature, ed. by Leonie Kramer, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1981, p.319). He also wrote under the pen-name Creeve Roe (trans. ‘Red Branch’), which conjures the image of a “Celtic bard singing ancient songs” in an unmistakably Antipodean context (Louise D’Arcens, Old Songs in the Timeless Land: Medievalism in Australian Literature 1840-1910, Turnhout, Brepols, 2011, p.124). In this period poem, Daley praises the memory of Jack Cade, a Kentish rebel leader who died in 1450. The poem critiques Shakespeare’s treatment of Cade in Henry VI, Part II. Daley’s objective seems to be setting the record straight and praising Jack Cade for his courage. He also seeks to summon local resistance to social values that he thinks have no place in an Australian bush setting. Addressing the English Bard directly he states, “I think thy mediaeval / social views suit not this clime.” The denouement, which involves a fight between the well-nourished Kentish squire Alexander Iden and the near-starving disconsolate rebel Cade, produces imagery of John Bull, over-stuffed with English beef, taking-on those who are ill-prepared for resistance. It is a decidedly one-sided encounter, and the outcome – Cade’s death – is never seriously in doubt. The rationale for condemnation is that the likes of Alexander Iden, depicted “Gasconading in his garden,” frequently attract undeserved honours and knighthoods, while the impoverished people (Jack Cade among them) fare ignominiously. The poem closes after encouraging the downtrodden to take their lead from Cade, and concludes with a toast to the memory of his brave deeds.


Victor J. Daley


The Bulletin


The Bulletin


8 December 1894 (p. 22)


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