The Works of William Hogarth, by John Trusler

Plate IV.

The Industrious ’prentice a Favourite and Intrusted by His Master.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.”

Matthew, chap. xxv. verse 21.

The industrious apprentice, by a discreet and steady conduct, attracts the notice of his master, and becomes a favourite: accordingly, we behold him here (exquisitely continued from the first and second prints) in the counting-house (with a distant view of the looms, and of the quilsters, winding quills for the shuttles, from whence he was removed) entrusted with the books, receiving and giving orders, (the general reward of honesty, care, and diligence,) as appears from the delivery of some stuffs by a city porter, from Blackwell-hall. By the keys in one hand and the bag in the other, we are shown that he has behaved himself with so much prudence and discretion, and given such proofs of fidelity, as to become the keeper of untold gold: the greatest mark of confidence he could be favoured with. The integrity of his heart is visible in his face. The modesty and tranquillity of his countenance tell us, that though the great trust reposed in him is an addition to his happiness, yet, that he discharges his duty with such becoming diffidence and care, as not to betray any of that pride which attends so great a promotion. The familiar position of his master, leaning on his shoulder, is a further proof of his esteem, declaring that he dwells, as it were, in his bosom, and possesses the utmost share of his affection; circumstances that must sweeten even a state of servitude, and make a pleasant and lasting impression on the mind. The head-piece to the London Almanack, representing Industry taking Time by the fore-lock, is not the least of the beauties in this plate, as it intimates the danger of delay, and advises us to make the best use of time, whilst we have it in our power; nor will the position of the gloves, on the flap of the escritoire, be unobserved by a curious examiner, being expressive of that union that subsists between an indulgent master and an industrious apprentice.

The strong-beer nose and pimpled face of the porter, though they have no connexion with the moral of the piece, are a fine caricatura, and show that our author let slip no opportunity of ridiculing the vices and follies of the age, and particularly here, in laying before us the strange infatuation of this class of people, who, because a good deal of labour requires some extraordinary refreshment, will even drink to the deprivation of their reason, and the destruction of their health. The surly mastiff, keeping close to his master, and quarrelling with the house-cat for admittance, though introduced to fill up the piece, represents the faithfulness of these animals in general, and is no mean emblem of the honesty and fidelity of the porter.

In this print, neither the cat, dog, nor the porter are well drawn, nor is much regard paid to perspective; but the general design is carried on by such easy and natural gradations, and the consequent success of an attentive conduct displayed in colours so plain and perspicuous, that these little errors in execution will readily be overlooked.

Industry and Idleness.
Plate 4.
The Industrious ‘Prentice a Favourite, and Entrusted by His Master.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55