Hogarth, having in October 1761 been appointed Serjeant Painter to the King, was probably induced, from his connexion with the Court, to deviate from that strict line of political neutrality which he had uniformly practised, and to engage against Mr. Wilkes and his Friends in the Print now before the Reader, published in September 1762.
It has been not improperly observed, that this Print is too much crowded with figures, which, however, may be thus elucidated. Europe is on fire ; France, Germany, Spain, in flames, which are extending to Great Britain. This desolation is continued and assisted by Mr. Pitt, under the figure of King Henry VIII, with bellows increasing the mischief which others are striving to abate. He is mounted on the stilts of the Populace. A Cheshire Cheese depends from his neck, with £.3000 on it; alluding to his having said in Parliament, "that he would sooner live on a Cheshire cheese and a shoulder of mutton, than submit to the enemies of Great Britain." By others it has been supposed to represent a Mill-stone, intimating that so ponderous a load must in time sink his popularity. Lord Bute, attended by English Soldiers, Sailors, and Highlanders, manages an engine for extinguishing the flames; but is impeded by the Duke of Newcastle, with a wheelbarrow full of Monitors and North Britons, for the purpose of feeding the blaze. The respectable Body under Mr. Pitt are the Aldermen of London, worshiping the Idol they had set up; whilst the musical King of Prussia, who alone is sure to gain by the war, is amusing himself with a violin amongst his miserable countrywomen. The picture of the Indian alludes to the advocates for retaining our West Indian conquests, which, it was said, "would only increase excess and debauchery." The breaking down of the Newcastle arms, and the drawing up the patri- otic ones, refer to the resignation of that noble Duke, and the appointment of his Successor. The Dutchman smoking his pipe, and a Fox peeping out behind him, and waiting the issue; the Waggon, with the treasures of the Hermione; the unnecessary marching of the Militia, signified by the Norfolk jig; the Dove with the olive-branch, and the miseries of war, are all obvious, and need no explanation.