The Works of William Hogarth, by John Trusler

Plate II.

England.

See John the Soldier, Jack the Tar,

With sword and pistol arm’d for war,

    Should Mounseer dare come here;

The hungry slaves have smelt our food,

They long to taste our flesh and blood,

    Old England’s beef and beer.

Britons to arms! and let ’em come,

Be you but Britons still, strike home,

    And, lion-like, attack ’em,

No power can stand the deadly stroke

That’s given from hands and hearts of oak,

    With Liberty to back ’em.

From the unpropitious regions of France our scene changes to the fertile fields of England.

England! bound in with the triumphant sea,

Whose rocky shores beat back the envious siege

Of wat’ry Neptune.

Instead of the forlorn and famished party who were represented in the last plate, we here see a company of well-fed and high-spirited Britons, marked with all the hardihood of ancient times, and eager to defend their country.

In the first group a young peasant, who aspires to a niche in the temple of Fame, preferring the service of Mars to that of Ceres, and the dignified appellation of soldier to the plebeian name of farmer, offers to enlist. Standing with his back against the halberd to ascertain his height, and, finding he is rather under the mark, he endeavours to reach it by rising on tiptoe. This artifice, to which he is impelled by towering ambition, the serjeant seems disposed to connive at — and the serjeant is a hero, and a great man in his way; “your hero always must be tall, you know.”

To evince that the polite arts were then in a flourishing state, and cultivated by more than the immediate professors, a gentleman artist, who to common eyes must pass for a grenadier, is making a caricature of le grand monarque, with a label from his mouth worthy the speaker and worthy observation, “You take a my fine ships; you be de pirate; you be de teef: me send my grand armies, and hang you all.” The action is suited to the word, for with his left hand this most Christian potentate grasps his sword, and in his right poises a gibbet. The figure and motto united produce a roar of approbation from the soldier and sailor, who are criticising the work. It is so natural that the Helen and Briseis of the camp contemplate the performance with apparent delight, and, while one of them with her apron measures the breadth of this herculean painter’s shoulders, the other, to show that the performance has some point, places her forefinger against the prongs of a fork. The little fifer, playing that animated and inspiring tune, “God save the King,” is an old acquaintance: we recollect him in the March to Finchley. In the back-ground is a serjeant, teaching a company of young recruits their manual exercise.

This military meeting is held at the sign of the Gallant Duke of Cumberland, who is mounted upon a prancing charger,

As if an angel dropp’d down from the clouds,

To turn and wield a fiery Pegasus,

And witch the world with noble horsemanship.

Underneath is inscribed “Roast and Boiled every day,” which, with the beef and beverage upon the table, forms a fine contrast to the soup maigre, bare bones, and roasted frogs, in the last print. The bottle painted on the wall, foaming with liquor, which, impatient of imprisonment, has burst its cerements, must be an irresistible invitation to a thirsty traveller. The soldier’s sword laid upon the round of beef, and the sailor’s pistol on the vessel containing the ale, intimate that these great bulwarks of our island are as tenacious of their beef and beer, as of their religion and liberty.

These two plates were published in 1756; but in the London Chronicle for October 20, 1759, is the following advertisement: “This day are republished, Two prints designed and etched by William Hogarth, one representing the preparations on the French coast for an intended invasion; the other, a view of the preparations making in England to oppose the wicked designs of our enemies; proper to be stuck up in public places, both in town and country, at this juncture.”

The verses which were inserted under each print, and subjoined to this account, are, it must be acknowledged, coarse enough. They were, however, written by David Garrick.


England.

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