As our future welfare depends, in a great measure, on our own conduct in the outset of life, and as we derive our best expectations of success from our own attention and exertion, it may, with propriety, be asserted, that the good or ill-fortune of mankind is chiefly attributable to their own early diligence or sloth; either of which becomes, through habit in the early part of life, both familiar and natural. This Mr. Hogarth has made appear in the following history of the two Apprentices, by representing a series of such scenes as naturally result from a course of Industry or Idleness, and which he has illustrated with such texts of scripture as teach us their analogy with holy writ. Now, as example is far more convincing and persuasive than precept, these prints are, undoubtedly, an excellent lesson to such young men as are brought up to business, by laying before them the inevitable destruction that awaits the slothful, and the reward that generally attends the diligent, both appropriately exemplified in the conduct of these two fellow-‘prentices; where the one, by taking good courses, and pursuing those purposes for which he was put apprentice, becomes a valuable man, and an ornament to his country; the other, by giving way to idleness, naturally falls into poverty, and ends fatally, as shown in the last of these instructive prints.
In the chamber of the city of London, where apprentices are bound and enrolled, the twelve prints of this series are introduced, and, with great propriety, ornament the room.
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