Excerpt from Engravings by Hogarth
edited by Sean Shesgreen
THE MARCH TO FINCHLEY
This burlesque of military order and discipline portrays British soldiers (on their way to Finchley to defend London from Bonnie Prince Charles) as disorganized, confused and betrayed by their human natures into situations and relationships which have utterly distracted them from their call.
Against a background of soldiers marching in orderly ranks, the guards mill around between a whorehouse and a tavern. In their center stands the group's commander, whose frantic shouts and gestures fail to win any attention. Near him a soldier with an absent, miserable expression on his face is claimed by two women. The younger woman, of the king's party (she sells "God save our Noble King") bases her claim on love and duty. She is pregnant. The frenzied older woman, a Jacobite (she sells The Remembrancer, the London Evening Post and The Jacobite Journal), claim the fellow by threat and force. The cross on her back suggests she is Catholic. The group is observed by a fascinated child, whose innocent face contrasts with that of the two intriguing Jacobites (a Frenchman and a Scot) who, in the middle of the enemy camp, share some secret message from Prince Charles. In front of them a drummer drowns out the cries of his wife and child; he is aided by a young piper. Behind him a soldier urinates below an advertisement for a prescription of "Dr Rock"; the pained expression on his face and his interest in the advertisement suggest he has syphilis. A woman at a window in front of him covers her eyes.
Two signs hang before the houses on the left. One reads "Totenham Court Nursery 1745"' the other, inscribed "Giles Gardiner," depicts Adam and Eve tempted by the snake. Under the sign two soldiers, goaded by a rabid crowd that includes a hysterical woman, engage in a boxing match. The regiment's wagon passes through the crowd bearing their utensils, tents and some women and children. Only the feet of its recumbent driver are visible.
Before the whorehouse stands a picture of Charles II ("CR"), patron of brothels, bearing a phallic design above it. At one window the plumb keeper prays for the success (i.e. the return) of the soldiers. A whore refuses a letter tendered on a pike. Above, a girl throws money to a cripple.
On the roof of the building sit three cats, emblems of the figures at the windows. In the right foreground a drunken soldier sits in a puddle; he refuses water to reach for the gin his wife pours. His emaciated child also grabs for it. Two chicks call for their mother, whose wing is visible in the pouch of the kneeling soldier. Behind him a drunk brandishes a dagger which he has used to pierce the liquor barrel of a porter. Next to them a soldier kisses a milkmaid and thrusts his hand into her dress while his companion steals her milk. An amused little urchin asks for a share of the spoils, and another soldier points out the escapade to a pieman in order to steal the gleeful and uncircumspect man's wares.
(click image to enlarge)
The March to Finchley
Original Copperplate Engraving and Etching (by Luke Sullivan, retouched and improved by William Hogarth in 1761) from:
The Works of William Hogarth from the Original Plates Restored by James Heath, Esq., R.A.; With the Addition of Many Subjects Not Before Collected: To Which is Prefixed, a Biographical Essay on the Genius and Productions of Hogarth, and Explanations on the Subjects of the Plates by John Nichols, Esq., F.S.A.
London. Printed for Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, Paternoster Row
by Nichols and Son, Parliament Street
— 1822 —
Original 200-year-old engraving/etching
Sheet size: approx. 25 1/4 inches x 19 1/4 inches
Plate size: approx. 21 5/16 x 16 5/16
Condition: Very good. Some foxing confined to margins. Short, stablized tear in lower margin, well away from image area.