Last week, the Idle ‘Prentice received his final reward; this week, the Industrious ‘Prentice receives his. It will come as no great surprise that the latter’s is far better than the former’s. A bit heavy-handed with the lesson, perhaps, but also a stark reminder that though a phrase may be a cliché, that doesn’t make it untrue: idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
Personally, although Hogarth has been mainly using Proverbs as his Bible book of choice in his Industry and Idle series, I think he missed out on a terrific verse for this plate in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which reads, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Maybe had Tom Idle gone without food more, he’d have found some productive work to busy himself. Alas, this week is about Francis Goodchild and his success… and he has reached quite the pinnacle.
Hogarth sketched out at least three other scenes that were never made into engravings nor published: one of the inside of Francis Goodchild’s home after marriage (to be placed around Plate 6), and two of Goodchild gifting money to his parents while Tom Idle steals from his own mother (these to be placed around Plate 7).
A city barge, used formerly on the lord mayor’s day, when he was sworn in at Westminster.
From the Tate Museum description:
[Also discussing Plate 11, The Idle ‘Prentice Executed at Tyburn, by William Hogarth, 30 September 1747, Tate Museum, which was discussed HERE last week]
These complex, incident-filled scenes show Goodchild and Idle as the focus of crowded public events: one is the Lord Mayor’s procession through Cheapside in the City of London, the other, the cart ride to the gallows at Tyburn. Thus both men have achieved a kind of ‘celebrity’. However, while Goodchild’s continuing fame and good fortune are underlined by the cornucopias displayed in the border of the print, for Idle (as presented by the skeletons) there is only imminent death.
From the Wikipedia description:
Now that the Idle ‘Prentice met his reward, industry gets its turn: 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.
Meanwhile, the crowd drunkenly near-riots around him. 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. Nearby members of an escort of disorganised militia accidentally discharge their muskets or drink from mugs.
The frame is now surrounded by cornucopias, referring to the verse at the bottom:
Proverbs CHAP: III Ver: 16
Length of days is in her right hand, and
in her left hand Riches and Honour
Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.