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by Ernst Ludwig Riepenhausen, 1788


Copperplate Engraving
12 3/4"h x 9 1/4" w

Ernst Ludwig Riepenhauser created a folio of 75 engravings after Hogarth. Multiple editions of the folio were published between 1788 and 1835.

The following description is from The World of Hogarth: Lichtenberg's Commentaries on Hogarth's Engravings Translated from the German and with an Introduction by Innes and Gustav Herdan, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1966

A SULTRY evening in September in the district of Islington, a large village near the northern outskirts of London. Among several places of public entertainment for the inhabitants of London proper, there is in that district a building known as Sadler's Wells, where in the summer plays of all kinds-comedies, tight-rope walking, acrobatics, ladder dances and gymnastics-are performed before large and hilarious audiences.


Image courtesy of Vladislav Ruchkin, New Haven


The company, of course, is not brilliant, and it is not in order to be seen that the man of standing will frequent it, but more often in order to look and to find amusement, while his fine clothes remain hanging in his wardrobe and he, in his workaday coat, removed from all doing and suffering in the world of compli nents, takes his ease here. There is something very refreshing about the country-side, and the interpreter of these engravings hardly ever takes up this Plate without being charmed by the memory of the few summer evenings he has spent under that sky with his friends.

The main group with which our artist has tried to animate that little paradise consists of a middle-class family, a London dyer and his wife, who neither by their physical nor — as we shall hear presently — their moral qualities are specially suited to revive in our imagination our first ancestors. They have three children with them, and our artist has raised great hopes of a fourth. In front of them slowly waddles the family dog, with strong indications of similar happy expectations. Everything is tired, lazy and heavy, and — oh, how warm!' The housewife feels this most. She is, as one sees, nourished somewhat beyond the limits of the good and the beautiful. Bosom a la Montgolfière, happy expectations a la Montgolfière.1 Oh my goodness! how heavy! Shakespeare once made a spring morn hang a dew pearl on every cowslip's ear.2 With our cauliflower here, the sultry evening has essayed a similar experiment, and has hung a pearl close to the ear, beneath the hair. But this seems to have been a mere mistake, which is just about to be rectified; in a moment the pearl will he hanging on the ear lobe. In one hand she carries the hat and gloves of her dear husband, who in exchange carries the child, and even a part of the wife herself, who has been weighed out to him by Heaven with so generous a turn of the scales; for she really leans with the hand in which she holds the fan upon her husband's shoulder. On the fan we see a group from ancient times which, if we include the little urchin here in the braided hat, bears sonic resemblance to the present group. It is Venus and Adonis with Cupid; only there they have made themselves somewhat more comfortable. Our little city Cupid bestrides Papa's stidk and expresses his indignation at his sister who, with a face already old and a temper and language even older, grudges him his little gingerbread man and wants to snatch it away from him.

What sort of children's faces these are! If it is true that early marked traits in children's faces are the precursors of ugliness in maturity, what will happen to children who were fitted to be deprived already in their mother's womb of that innocent and charming vacuity of feature, so full of promise of everything good and beautiful? Cupid rides here upon the stick of Adonis and wears a cockade in his hat. The idea of giving Cupid the role of an ensign is not bad, only our young man here is a rather ulwoinely ensign. Briefly, the boy is not a soldier and never will be. How would he come to that so early in a country where, in addition to holy baptism, there is no sacrament of the red cravat? It is merely a childish game.

Just behind the married couple a cow is being milked whose udder a la Montgolfière is an eloquent symbol of the abundance of that district and the happy countryside. But here occurs a sad and ominous circumstance which will evoke the pity of every feeling husband. For that cow bestows her head ornament on our Adonis in so sisterly a fashion that one begins to wonder whose property it really is-the dyer's or the cow's. Oh madam, inadani! The poor fellow, a tame, good-natured drudge, is not author but only editor. In what mood must he be, in this hot weather, even if lie is only half aware of it, especially with the little issue upon his arm who clutches him so violently by the necktie that his face seems to swell up. The child has lost a shoe which lies on the ground below, apparently with the object of showing the naked heel which has come right through the stocking; a lively proof of the value of our Venus as housewife, just as the cow's ornament testifies to her value as wedded wife.

Close by stands an inn, with a luxurious vine heavy with grapes, and a signboard over which we must linger a few moments.

The man whose likeness hangs there is Sir Hugh Myddelton, a London goldsmith and one who has deserved well of that city. He achieved a feat which had been considered almost impossible, that is, to provide London with fresh water from the countryside. Between the years 1608 and 1613 lie built a canal from Hertfordshire twenty miles long, the so-called New River; and that is just the water which flows past here and upon winch the thirsty hitch gazes with longing vet irresolute indolence. He lost his fortune in that enterprise. His whole reward was a new burden; title without fortune. I do not know whether he has been awarded any other monument apart from the portrait which hangs in the Guildhall of the Goldsmiths' Company in London, and-this inn-sign. And this leads to some profitable reflections.

One would be very much mistaken in imagining that every well- deserving person in England eats from silver dishes while alive and after death rests under a marble slab. How many of them eat out of their hands all their life, as they walk the streets, and find their monument in the end, if they find one at all, upon a signboard' Though, of course, it is not such a bad memorial, if the man himself was not bad. If the houses feel that the name upon the signboard does them honour, it will be there for all eternity. Stone monuments are not restored once they have decayed; signboards are renovated again and again and then replaced by completely new ones, till the end of time. I really think that this is a way to im- mortality, and since 'German' was always a synonym for 'good and cheap', a Pantheon on signboards could truly be called a German Pantheon. You may smile at this, but I am quite serious. What could be more honourable than to look down through the centuries from an inn signboard upon posterity passing in and out beneath, or to be looked up to by them? I can foresee, of course, that the idea will be ridiculed, but that is only because it is a good one. Few people can make a clever face when they look into the sun. Would it be any worse to lodge in the 'Herr von Leibniz' than in the 'King of Prussia'? Or would the place up there above the door or on the pole itself be less suited to the scholar than to the king? I should like to hear somebody tell me that, if he has the courage, and I should like to see the learned man who would feel ashamed to fill the place which up to now even the emperors and kings of the earth with their crown princes and crowns; which the golden angels; the sun, the moon and the stars; the kings of the animals and of the countryside; the eagle with single and double head, the lion with single and double tail, and the horse sometimes with none at all; which the rose and the lily of the field, as well as the French ones, in all their magnificence, have not disdained to occupy. Did they not hang up whole towns, London, Paris and Constantinople, to honour them with all their inhabitants? One should not object here that signboards also show waves, oxen, goats and Moors, who obviously belong among the apes; snakes and dragons and geese, who, even if they were made of gold, still remain geese. This is no ob- jection for this was ever the way of the world with all marks of honour- with marble monuments and order ribbons, with letters of nobility and doctor diplomas, with titles and surrogate titles, and will ever be until the end of recorded time, who is the mother of us all. Did not the Devil himself in the shape of the last Duke of Orleans wear the Order of the Holy Ghost? Perhaps in this way the German inns will improve a little, at last. Some of them are still in a pretty bad state. What we need is a German Howard who will do for inns what the English Howard' has done for prisons.

A few more words about the German Pantheon in general. I would not advise a marble one: one can foresee that eventually it would become a stony company of Germans which would not be of much more value than our papery one; even less, for it seems to me it is quite a question whether there are any other monuments at all in the world except papery ones, since tradition has ceded all her privileges to the printing presses, and now in its second childhood carries on a not quite honest traffic on the principle that one hand washes the other. I think the question must be answered in the negative. Even the eternal monuments which our fellow men have erected to themselves upon the rocks of the moon and the borders of the universe through new planets with new satellites, and on the path of the planets and comets, would be nothing without their paper certificates attached. Alexander would be forgotten like every other highway robber, had it not occurred to a writer to make him a testimonial about his coin- monplace exploits which, constantly renewed and embellished, continues to circulate throughout the world. On the road to the temple of eternal fame, a man may help himself along to the first few post-stations by means of gold and silver, etc., but whoever would continue his journey cannot do so without genuine paper money. Now let us keep in mind what paper signifies! A field of flax, what a prospect! 'What is not latent here, as a physicist would say! Oh! whoever goes past such a field, be it on horse- back or on foot, he should doff his hat and ponder, not only on latent cuffs for his shirts, but on immortality too. If one wants to do something more, then I should advise signboards, for besides the publicity of marble, they possess all the imperishableness of paper. So much for the signboard of this inn, and now a few words about the inn itself.

Through the raised window we sec that it is not a very brilliant com- pany which is here, with one accord, employing Dr Johnson's remedy against suicide. The droll aspect of it is (for Flogarth does nothing without point) that these people have left a smoky town with the express intention of enjoying the country air, and have now shut themselves up in a smoky room. Those at the window have certainly the best seats here; one reckon on a dozen others being behind them. For even at the cool window they feel so hot that they have taken off their wigs and have tied their handkerchiefs round their shaved heads. Outside the house is a man in such a position near the vine that he has drawn upon himself the attention of an inquisitive laundry girl. This class of people, the whole world over, will always poke their noses into things which have nothing to do with laundering, and which they do not understand. The meaning of the woman with the shoe in the background is, to tell the truth, not quite clear to me. The interpreters all glide over it, as if they had not noticed her, with the exception of Trusler, and he makes a remark which is not very plausible as far as I can see, namely 'that the woman behind is stretching the shoe of the girl (the elder daughter), shows that she is just as tired as the boy'. The reader will feel that there is nothing whatever to this. But there is surely something behind it. The English speak of a horseshoe, and, if a horse has already been mentioned, of just a shoe. If now, in addition, they had a certain saying, very common in German, about the horseshoe and its loss, then this female shoe may well have been lost, arid such a thing could easily happen at Sadler's Wells, especially if one is accustomed to wear one's shoes somewhat lightly.

Note: Hogarth had the curious idea in the early copies of this Plate of having the man's hands blue and the face and breast of the lady red, to indicate the indigo dyer and the red glow of the dyer's fire. A friend, however, dissuaded him from continuing in that manner. This has given rise to counterfeits, but since the false copies are painted over, whereas in the genuine ones only the lines are coloured and not the spaces between them, they cannot deceive a careful purchaser. 1 A reference to the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques Etienne (1745-1799), inventors of the balloon named after them. Ed. 2 1 must go seek some dew-drops here, And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear. Midsummer Night's Dream II. 1. 14 John Howard (1726-1790), English philanthropist, pioneer of prison reform. Ed.

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