Richard Hodgart's Satire points out that "political satire requires special conditions for its appearance in strength:"

First, a degree of free speech either through design as in Greece or England, or through inefficiency as inlate eighteenth-century France and even in Czarist Russia.

Secondly, there must be a general readiness of the educated classes to take part in political affairs; this need not imply the existence of a democracy, but it does mean the spread of democratic ideas.

Thirdly, there must be some confidence on the part of writers that they can actually influence the conduct of affairs; and

Fourthly, there must be a wide audience that enjoys wit, imagination and the graces of literature, and that is sophisticated enough to enjoy their application to serious topics.

According to Hodgart, such conditions "existed to the full in England from about 1680 to 1820, and they have reappeared since in other parts of Europe, usually in pre-revolutionary rather than revolutionary situations; and as commonly associated with nationalistic as with social conflict" (77).

Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000