Well, well, well.
We find Industry and Idle reunited this week in Plate 10, and even though it would seem that the high-risen Francis Goodchild has an open-and-shut case again the now-criminal Tom Idle, we see the witness for the prosecution taking a bribe for his testimony against Tom, and Francis covering his eyes to the deed.
Or do we?
Knights of the post, or false witnesses, said to attend Westminster Hall, and other courts of justice, ready to swear any thing for hire.
From the Tate Museum description:
Goodchild and Idle are reunited. Goodchild is an alderman and a magistrate; Idle is a common criminal. The latter’s partner-in-crime places his hand on a bible, swearing that his testimony against Idle is the truth. Meanwhile, in a gesture of either sorrow or revulsion Goodchild turns away from Idle, who is pleading for mercy or for a chance to tell his version of events. The quotation from Leviticus (below Goodchild) reads: ‘Thou shalt do no unrighteousness in Judgement.’ Clearly Goodchild has no choice but to condemn Idle. Or has he? While Goodchild’s hand gestures, especially the covering of the eyes, may represent the impartiality of the justice system, it could as easily denote ‘blindness’ and hence a miscarriage of justice. After all, why would the testimony of one criminal carry weight over another? That the testimony is, in fact, suspect or false is underlined by the court official who holds the bible with one hand, while receiving a bribe with the other.
From the Wikipedia description:
Having led their separate lives for four plates each, the two apprentices meet again, considerably further down their paths of life. Again, Tom is on the left, Francis, the right (the frame is reversed, so the rope, etc. is above Francis).
Idle is now completely lost: his accomplice readily turns King’s evidence, a man behind him holds up the two pistols and sword used in the commission of the murder in one hand and points to Idle with the other, and he’s being arraigned before his former fellow-apprentice, who remembers his earlier inclinations and could well imagine him turning footpad. While he turns away, either struggling with his feelings (as implied by the quote at the bottom of the frame) or disgustedly spurning his entreaties, the clerk next to him writes out the warrant of admission “To the Turnkey of Newgate”.
To the right of Idle, his mother again tearfully pleads with an officer who dismisses her. The bailiff administering the oath has put his quill pen behind his ear facing forward, making him look ridiculous, so that he might take a bribe from the woman next to him, who is paying him to not notice that the oath he’s administering is being sworn with the wrong hand and hence worthless.
Fire buckets labelled “SA” hang from the balcony behind the crowd.
Under Tom Idle:
Psalm IX. Ver: 16.
The Wicked is snar’d in the
work of his own hands
Under Francis Goodchild:
Leviticus CH: XIX Ve: 15
Thou shall do no unrighteousness
Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.