Similarities to events of the present not precluded :
The “ Attempt to set despotism …
at the place of the legal forms ”
was then stopped by chief-justice Pratt
Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). John Wilkes Esqr. The sitting portrait shows the editor of the North Briton Journal, little flattering, but true, in determined position with the hat of freedom on top of a long pole. On the little table at his side the notorious No. 45 of the paper tearing to rags the King’s Speech of George III, and the 17th issue in which Wilkes criticized the 1st sheet of Hogarth’s Times. Engraving + etching. Inscribed: Drawn from the Life and Etch’d in Aquafortis by Willm. Hogarth. / Publish’d according to Act of Parliament May ye 16. 1763., otherwise as above. 14 × 9⅛ in (35.7 × 23.3 cm).
Harmonic, wide-margined impression from the plate retouched by the royal engraver James Heath (1757 London 1834) about 1822 (“Even these impressions have become relatively rare today though”, Art Gallery Esslingen 1970; and Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., VIII , 625: “A fine edition”, esteemed also already by contemporary collectors of the rank of for instance an A. T. Stewart [Catalog of the Stewart Collection, New York 1887, 1221, “fine plates”]).
(publicist, 1727-1797, hero “of the even then highly important press”)
“ published … the paper ‘North Briton’ since June 1762 in which he sharply chastised the policy of the ministry (of Lord Bute) and even not spared the person of the king (George III). The Under-Secretary Halifax then issued in violation of the habeas corpus act a warrant which was not directed against a specific person, but against the authors of the paper in general (writers, printers, and vendors). W. then was imprisoned; the court, however, ordered his release … This result was insofar important for the whole of England as henceforth the warrants without name remained abolished. Thereupon W. arranged a reprint of the ‘North Briton’ … ”
(Meyer’s Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., XVI, 648 in great detail
and this still after 130 years !) .
“ … this portrait which perfectly represents the character of this man as it is passed on historically; one recognizes immediately the worn out rake without any principles, who used the people’s favor he obtained by circumstances and impudence for making money. One also recognizes beside the hypocrite in patriotism the pert cynic …
“ Hogarth has portrayed the figure when during the trial that made him the hero of freedom Wilkes was brought from the Tower to the Court of Common Pleas. One should take the picture for a caricature; but this is not the case for all contemporaries at once recognized the most perfect similarity … The sheet was published (on May 16, 1763) during the excitement the trial of Wilkes stirred up, and therefore had such a success that several thousand impressions were sold in the first week …
“ The personal character of Wilkes was not of the kind that a lasting esteem could have been bestowed on a man like him …
He lacked both consequence in political principles
as morality in public and private life …
“ As ruined rake he tried the path which was usual with the then composition of the parliament until the reform; he endeavored to get into the commons to receive a position from the government by selling his vote and by cleverly using it in the party battles … Pitt’s (William Pitt I, 1708-1778) brother-in-law and colleague, Lord Temple, admitted him, supposedly because he … believed he could use his skill with the pen in the then already highly important press …
“ He used the free press … His principal efficacy, however, started (June 1762) with his journal: The North Briton, (which) soon was recognized by the government (Pitt) as the most dangerous weapon of the opposition … By the king’s personal influence the government, however, was soon motivated to attempt the suppression of that paper … The secretaries behaved themselves in this affair in a way which
corresponded with the king’s inclination to despotism ;
they applied an old legal procedure that had been used in such cases during the tyrannical age of the Stuarts. The Under-Secretary of the Interior (Halifax) issued a so-called general warrant … Wilkes was arrested … This legal procedure was not customary since long and was against the habeas corpus act. Wilkes knew this very well … One brought him into the Tower, yet soon one had to bring him before the court of the Common Pleas where the
chief-justice Pratt pronounced the illegality of the arrest
so that the court decreed his release. The court had acted in this all the more foolishly as statesmen of different kind, as people which belonged to the plain mob, or who represented Wilkes for party considerations, also took up the cause of this man for they justly recognized in that trial an attempt
to set despotism in the legal procedure
at the place of the legal forms ”
(Lichtenberg whom the republic still remembered unsuspectingly-thankfully at the bicentennial of death).
Judged without respect of the person, see above, and the institutions. And in such a way a didactic example by history, a quality seal for the quality of the blindfold of Justice, promoting in the people sense of right, even more, certitude of right. And thereby not least an attack against political weariness as emanation of the feeling of a “rotten society” as Hogarth also exposed in his Four Prints of an Election so strikingly. By which this, rendered into the respective today, once more proves himself as of
outright terrifying timelessness and topicality .
And the résumé on Wilkes
as downright an invitation for the
sharpening of the knowledge of human nature ?
But yes indeed, his undisguised aim it was to make his fortune in the political party battles. When he finally had achieved this aim by the lucrative position of the Chamberlain of the City of London and had established himself comfortably in this, “his former friends requested to no avail” of him to further take care of their aims, withdrew thusly and – so the incorruptible Lichtenberg furthermore – “was no more recognized till his death in 1797 … with the exception of 1780 where he, by the way, played an honorable role … ”
“ One recognizes in him the impure character who used the excitement of the people and the popularity effected by this for his advantage, and who withdrew immediately when he had achieved a lucrative position. ”
And concerning his followers he is said to have asked his competitor, colonel Luttrel, on the election platform on occasion of his second candidacy for the parliamentary seat of Middlesex
if among his (Wilkes’) followers within the assembled election folks there were
“ more fools or rascals ”.
“ The colonel replied: ‘I will say this immediately so that you are done.’ – When, however, he noticed that Wilkes remained calm he added: ‘You could not think to stay here just one more hour if I make your words known.’ – ‘Quite so, you would not live any moment longer.’ – ‘How that?’ – ‘I would say you had lied, and the mob would slay you in the instant.’ ”
So far the election campaigner Wilkes. Yet, it shall be placarded for a third time, he gave chief-justice Pratt the occasion to stop the
“ attempt (by the government) to set
despotism … at the place of the legal forms ”
as illegal .
Offer no. 14,845 / EUR 198. (c. US$ 229.) + shipping
– – – The same in engraving by Ernst Ludwig Riepenhausen (1765 Göttingen 1840, university engraver there). Inscribed: 56 / W. Hogarth del. 1763. / R. f., otherwise as above. 9¼ × 7⅜ in (23.5 × 18.6 cm). – Impression on slightly toned minor paper. – Riepenhausen’s engravings after Hogarth (“very estimable”, Nagler) belong to his chief work and not least for being in the original direction they are partly even preferred to Hogarth’s own engravings.
Offer no. 14,846 / EUR 118. (c. US$ 136.) + shipping
– – – The same by Riepenhausen as before, but in shining impression on especially buff paper, supposedly about 1850.
Offer no. 14,847 / EUR 148. (c. US$ 171.) + shipping
– – – The same in lithography. (1833/36.) Inscribed: Johann Wilkes. / Lith. v. C. F. Heinz. 9⅞ × 5¾ in (25.1 × 14.5 cm). – Extensive, though incorrect and perverting resp. caption in German.
Offer no. 14,848 / EUR 98. (c. US$ 113.) + shipping
“ I receives them today in very good condition, thank you and dont forget to tell me about … items, best regards ”
(Sign. L. B., April 5, 2002)