The Works of William Hogarth, by John Trusler

Plate XII.

The Industrious ‘prentice Lord Mayor of London.

“Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour.”

Proverbs, chap. iii. ver. 16.

Having seen the ignominious end of the idle apprentice, nothing remains but to represent the completion of the other’s happiness; who is now exalted to the highest honour, that of Lord Mayor of London; the greatest reward that ancient and noble city can bestow on diligence and integrity. Our artist has here, as in the last plate, given a loose to his humour, in representing more of the low part of the Lord Mayor’s show than the magnificent; yet the honour done the city, by the presence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, is not forgotten. The variety of comic characters in this print serves to show what generally passes on such public processions as these, when the people collect to gratify their childish curiosity, and indulge their wanton disposition, or natural love of riot. The front of this plate exhibits the oversetting of a board, on which some girls had stood, and represents them sprawling upon the ground; on the left, at the back of the scaffold, is a fellow saluting a fair nymph, and another enjoying the joke: near him is a blind man straggled in among the crowd, and joining in the general halloo: before him is a militia-man, so completely intoxicated as not to know what he is doing; a figure of infinite humour. Though Mr. Hogarth has here marked out two or three particular things, yet his chief intention was to ridicule the city militia, which was at this period composed of undisciplined men, of all ages, sizes, and height; some fat, some lean, some tall, some short, some crooked, some lame, and in general so unused to muskets, that they knew not how to carry them. One, we observe, is firing his piece and turning his head another way, at whom the man above is laughing, and at which the child is frightened. The boy on the right, crying, “A full and true account of the ghost of Thomas Idle,” which is supposed to have appeared to the Mayor, preserves the connexion of the whole work. The most obtrusive figure in his Lordship’s coach is Mr. Swordbearer, in a cap like a reversed saucepan, which this great officer wears on these grand occasions. The company of journeymen butchers, with their marrow-bones and cleavers, appear to be the most active, and are by far the most noisy of any who grace this solemnity. Numberless spectators, upon every house and at every window, dart their desiring eyes on the procession; so great indeed was the interest taken by the good citizens of London in these civic processions that, formerly, it was usual in a London lease to insert a clause, giving a right to the landlord and his friends to stand in the balcony, during the time of “the shows or pastimes, upon the day commonly called the Lord Mayor’s Day.”

Thus have we seen, by a series of events, the prosperity of the one and the downfall of the other; the riches and honour that crown the head of industry, and the ignominy and destruction that await the slothful. After this it would be unnecessary to say which is the most eligible path to tread. Lay the roads but open to the view, and the traveller will take the right of course; give but the boy this history to peruse, and his future welfare is almost certain.


Industry and Idleness.
Plate 12.
The Industrious ‘Prentice Lord Mayor of London

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hogarth/william/trusler/chapter51.html

Last updated Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 11:28