Irritated by the publication of Mr. Wilkes's Portrait, Churchill published his "Epistle to William Hogarth," with the motto "Ut Pictura Poesis" This called forth all Hogarth's pictorial powers of retaliation. He took the Plate on which he had long before engraved his Portrait together with that of his favourite dog Trump, and, expunging his own head, substituted that of Churchill, dressed with a tattered band and torn ruffles, in the character of a Russian Bear. The person of Churchill, it should be observed, was stout, lusty, and rough; his shoulders were broad, and his manners as rough and uncouth as his person.
The Poet's predilection for liquor is admirably intimated by his hugging the tankard of porter, and by the drops which fall from his mouth. The ragged band alludes to his clerical profession (which he afterwards renounced); and the mutilated ruffles, to the frays in which he was not unfrequently involved.
With his left paw he grasps a knotted club, with the letters "N. B." on it, referring to the "North Briton," in which Churchill assisted Wilkes. On this club (in allusion to the political falsehoods the North Briton contained) Hogarth wrote on the large Prints "Infamous Fallacy," and has numbered its knots as so many notorious Lies.
The Picture is raised from the floor (on which lie the palette and burin, emblematic of the Artist's profession) by three books, on the uppermost of which is written, "A list of Subscribers to the North Briton;" and on another, "A new Way to pay old Debts, by Massinger." To intimate the poverty of the Writer, the Pedestal is crowned by a begging-box. On the opposite side, Trump tramples on the Poet's Epistle to the Painter, which he treats most contemptuously, in a manner that is not natural to the canine species.
The small drawing, or picture, on the palette, was not in this Plate when first published; having been subsequently added, to refute the calumnious assertion that the Painter was in his dotage.
Mr. Pitt is represented reclining at his ease, with a millstone hanging over his head, on which is written, "£.3OOO,'' and firing a mortar at a Dove bearing an olive-branch (the symbol of Peace) which is perched over the Standard of England. These particulars refer to Mr. Pitt's styling Hanover a mill-stone, to his acceptance of a pension, and to his opposition to the Peace then negotiating. He is attended by the Giants from Guildhall, with pipes in their mouths, referring to the support which the City of London uniformly gave to that great Statesman, and more particularly Alderman Beckford, thrice Lord Mayor. One of these Giants is placing a crown on Mr. Pitt's head, while the other holds in his hand a shield containing the arms of Austria, which the Hero spurns with contempt from his feet.
On the opposite side of the Print, Hogarth makes his entry as a Showman, leading Wilkes in the character of a Monkey riding on a stick, with a Cap of Liberty on the top of it, and the North Briton in his hand; while Churchill advances as a muzzled Bear decorated with ruffles and a band, and a laced hat upon his head. The Artist is flogging them, and makes them keep time to the sweet scrapings of a Fidler devoid of features, who is said to have been Earl Temple. The satire contained in this tablet abundantly answered the Artist's purpose, and was greatly admired.