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Industry & Idleness by William Hogarth (1697-1764). A set of twelve copper-engraved prints
The final edition from Hogarth's original plates, published by Baldwin, Cradock & Joy in 1822.
A moral warning, intending to illustrate to working children the possible rewards of hard work and diligent application and the sure disasters attending a lack of both!
Each framed in dark brown with gold slip.
Industry and Idleness charts the careers of two City apprentices which Hogarth described as the series ‘calculated for the use & Instruction of Youth’. Unlike his earlier works, which were painted first and subsequently converted to engravings, Industry and Idleness was created solely as a set of engravings as these prints were aimed for a wider and less wealthy market.
Plate 1 – The Fellow 'Prentices at their Looms The start on exactly equal footing at their first meeting. Tom is on the left, Francis on the right; both are 'prentices’ on equal terms with their master, and doing the same work, but already display their respective traits: Francis Goodchild is busy at work with his loom and shuttle, with his copy of "The Prentice's Guide" at his feet whilst Tom Idle leans snoring against his still loom, probably as a result of a huge mug labelled "Spittle Fields" sitting on his loom. His copy of "Prentice's Guide" is also lying on the ground, but in a filthy and shredded state. Their master, with a thick stick in his hand, looks disappointedly at Thomas.
Plate 2 — The Industrious 'Prentice performing the Duty of a Christian It is Sunday, when their master has given them time to attend church service. Francis Goodchild is shown taking good advantage of this, attending St. Martin-in-the-Fields standing in a pew with his master's daughter, singing out of a hymnal. Significantly, since this is the first in the series of images of Francis' fortune, his career is literally shown to start with his devotion.
Plate 3 — The Idle 'Prentice at Play in the Church Yard, during Divine Service Though not outside the same church, Tom Idle is shown doing the exact opposite: gambling and cheating with some pence on top of a tomb in the churchyard. The foreground is strewn with spare bones and skulls, and behind him a beadle is about to strike him with a cane for his insolence and tardiness.
Plate 4 — The Industrious 'Prentice a Favourite, and entrusted by his Master Francis Goodchild's industry and piety are paying off. He's now no longer working a loom, but rather keeping his master's business: He holds the "Day Book", keys to the house and a pouch of money. His master is also present and using the greatest familiarity with him, further testifying to his advanced state. On the desk before them two gloves shaking hands illustrate the .
Plate 5 — The Idle 'Prentice turn'd away, and sent to Sea Tom Idle's useless ways have finally gotten their reward and he has been ordered away to sea. Tom clearly feels that his authority over him is at an end and has cast his indenture into the boat's wake in the lower left-hand corner. One of his companions tries to tease him with the frayed end of a rope (i.e. a cat o' nine tails), the other points towards a man hanging from a gallows at the waterline for some nautical crime. An old woman; his widowed mother, tearfully remonstrates with him, while he ignores her.
Plate 6 — The Industrious 'Prentice out of his Time, & Married to his Master's Daughter Francis Goodchild has been improving his time, as usual. He has also escaped his apprenticeship, his former master has taken him into partnership. Newly married to his former masters’ daughter, they distribute the remnants of the wedding feast to various poor people.
Plate 7 — The Idle 'Prentice return'd from Sea, & in a Garret with common Prostitute Tom Idle is now a thief who has taken up residence with "a common Prostitute". In contrast to the luxury of Francis, Thomas and his companion are shown living in complete squalor somewhere in London. The principal event of the scene is a cat falling down the chimney with a few bricks, which causes Tom Idle to start up with all the fear of the law on him.
Plate 8 — The Industrious 'Prentice grown rich, & Sheriff of London The couple sit at the far end of the on chairs, apparently in state. His chair has the sword of state on its right arm and on her left the crowned mace. Everything alludes to the opulence that industry has produced and can to be procured by hard work. A significant portion of this plate is taken up with a related satire of gluttony, which takes place in the left foreground. In particular, the two on the far right warn that even earned riches are as susceptible to squander and waste as any other.
Plate 9 — The Idle 'Prentice betrayed and taken in a Night-Cellar with his Accomplice Red-Handed Idle has now gone from highway robbery to out and out murder for petty gain. He's shown here examining the effects of the dead man in a hat between them, while another man pitches the body down a trap door. In the process, they are all totally oblivious not only to the men of the Law coming down the stairs with lit lanterns, but Idle's prostitute being paid (one coin) for her information! Clearly Idle is caught without any means of escape.
Plate 10 – The Industrious 'Prentice Alderman of London, the Idle one brought before him & Impeach'd by his Accomplice Having led their separate lives, the two apprentices meet again, considerably further down their paths of life. Idle’s is accomplice readily turns King's evidence, a man behind him holds up the two pistols and sword used in the commission of the murder. To the right of Idle, his mother again tearfully pleads with an officer who dismisses her.
Plate 11 — The Idle 'Prentice Executed at Tyburn The procession from left to right shows a detachment of soldiers riding behind the tumbrel, which contains a preacher cleric vigorously discoursing to a now hairless Thomas Idle, who leans on his own coffin. The coach ahead carries the Official clergyman who will actually preside at the execution. Beyond looms the Tyburn Tree. The executioner lays unconcernedly along one of the crossbeams, smoking his , whilst in the background a man gets ready to release a bird that will fly back to Newgate and give the news the malefactor is dead.
Plate 12 – The Industrious 'Prentice Lord-Mayor of London Now that the Idle 'Prentice met his reward whilst the industry and morality of Francis Goodchild result in his being chosen the Lord Mayor of the City. He is here shown riding in the Lord Mayor's carriage, holding the sword of state and wearing an outsized top hat. From the balcony on the right, a genteel crowd observes his passing, as do people in all the windows fronting on the street. In the far lower right, a boy holding "A full and true Account of ye Ghoſt of Tho Idle. Which [… ]" shows the final fate of Thomas Idle's memory: an entry in The Newgate Calendar.