['Truth', Victorian satirical magazine edited by Horace Voules and owned by Henry Labouchère.] Spoof share prospectus for the flotation of 'The British Empire, Unlimited', with 'Memorandum of Association'.
4pp., folio. Originally on a bifolium, but now with the two leaves separated and attached to a white stub from an album. In good condition, on aged and lightly-spotted paper, and trimmed at the head. Laid out in the conventional manner, With the reverse of the final leaf printed in landscape, so that the item can be folded into the customary package. The same page carries the 'Memorandum of Association' in small print, including 24 lettered 'objects for which the Company is established', including '(v) To acquire the right to levy taxes on Bicycles, Piano-Organs, Musical-Evenings, Wagners "Ring," Flashing Street Advertisements, Motor-Cars, Lord Mayor's Shows, Public Statues, Matinee Hats, Minor Poets, "Bloomers," Light Tenors, Professional Beauties, Golfers, Drawing-room Receiters, and Money-lenders.' The document begins with an Iinitial list of directors and other company officers, followed by the 'Prospectus' proper, beginning: 'THIS Company has been formed to acquire as a going concern the old-established business of the BRITISH EMPIRE, which deals in Colonies, Armies, Ironclads, Law Making, Treaty Ports, Coaling Stations, Post Offices, Telegraphs, Telephones, Public Education, Criminal Prosecutions, Pioneering, Fighting, Massacring, Civilising, Concession Granting, Prospecting, Mission Founding, &c., &c., and is believed to be the largest of its kind in the World.' The prospectus continues in the same vein, with a list of the 'principal Foreign Agencies of the business', from Aden to Zanzibar, adding: 'In addition to the properties enumerated above, the Company will acquire from the Vendors "spheres of influence" in all parts of the world.' References follow to 'the important asset known as the Suzerainty of the South African Republic', 'the "Open Door," situate in the Chinese Empire', 'prospecting expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic Regions', and other international affairs. There is also a description of the state of the books by 'Messrs. Olde Turk & Co.' C. R. Harrison, in his 'House of Harrison' (1914), explains the context of the satire: 'The twenty-second Christmas number of Truth devoted itself to a clever political satire entitled "The British Empire, Unlimited." Truth is, before all things, Liberal in its politics, and the aim of the satire was to poke fun and ridicule at the then Conservative Government, the author especially attacking the Marquis of Salisbury, who was Prime Minister, on the ground of his wide Imperial Policy and satirizing his well-known ability for administration and attention to detail. The story represents Lord Salisbury bringing out a gigantic Commercial Company entitled "The British Empire, Unlimited," to run the affairs of the nation on a commercial basis; he being Promoter and Director, and the other members of the Government and celebrities of the day each having his allotted post. The prospectus, like that of other commercial undertakings, was full of bold advertisement, and was prepared confidentially with a view to bursting on the public attention as a surprise.'