The Works of William Hogarth, by John Trusler

Plate VII.

The Idle ’prentice Returned from Sea, and in a Garret with a Common Prostitute.

“The sound of a shaken leaf shall chase him.”

Leviticus, chap. xxvi. verse 26.

The idle apprentice, as appears by this print, is advancing with rapid strides towards his fate. We are to suppose him returned from sea after a long voyage; and to have met with such correction abroad for his obstinacy, during his absence from England, that though it was found insufficient to alter his disposition, yet it determined him to pursue some other way of life; and what he entered on is here but too evident (from the pistols by the bed-side, and the trinkets his companion is examining, in order to strip him of) to be that of the highway. He is represented in a garret, with a common prostitute, the partaker of his infamy, awaking, after a night spent in robbery and plunder, from one of those broken slumbers which are ever the consequences of a life of dishonesty and debauchery. Though the designs of Providence are visible in every thing, yet they are never more conspicuous than in this — that whatever these unhappy wretches possess by wicked and illegal means, they seldom comfortably enjoy. In this scene we have one of the finest pictures imaginable of the horrors of a guilty conscience. Though the door is fastened in the strongest manner with a lock and two bolts, and with the addition of some planks from the flooring, so as to make his retreat as secure as possible; though he has attempted to drive away thought by the powerful effects of spirituous liquors, plain from the glass and bottle upon the floor, still he is not able to brave out his guilt, or steel his breast against reflection. Behold him roused by the accidental circumstance of a cat’s coming down the chimney, and the falling of a few bricks, which he believes to be the noise of his pursuers! Observe his starting up in bed, and all the tortures of his mind imprinted in his face! He first stiffens into stone, then all his nerves and muscles relax, a cold sweat seizes him, his hair stands on end, his teeth chatter, and dismay and horror stalk before his eyes. How different is the countenance of his wretched bed-fellow! in whom unconcern and indifference to every thing but the plunder are plainly apparent. She is looking at an ear-ring, which, with two watches, an etwee, and a couple of rings, are spread upon the bed, as part of last night’s plunder. The phials on the mantel-piece show that sickness and disease are ever attendant on prostitution; and the beggarly appearance of the room, its wretched furniture, the hole by way of window, (by the light of which she is examining her valuable acquisition, and against which she had hung her old hoop-petticoat in order to keep out the cold,) and the rat’s running across the floor, are just and sufficient indications that misery and want are the constant companions of a guilty life.

Industry and Idleness.
Plate 7.
The Idle ‘Prentice Returned from Sea, and in the a Garret with a Prostitute.

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