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

as  illegal

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 [1888], 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”]).

John  Wilkes

(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’ … ”

(Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., XVI, 648 in great detail

and  this  still  after  130  years !) .

William Hogarth, John Wilkes

“ … 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$ 239.) + 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$ 143.) + shipping

William Hogarth, John Wilkes (Riepenhausen)

– – – The same by Riepenhausen as before, but in shining impression on especially strong paper, supposedly about 1850.

Offer no. 14,847 / EUR  148. (c. US$ 179.) + shipping

William Hogarth, John Wilkes (lithograph)

– – – 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$ 118.) + shipping

„ Herzlichen Dank für Ihre freundlichen und aufschlussreichen Ausführungen, die mir die Beschreibung des vorliegenden Exemplars sehr erleichtern. Schön wärs natürlich, wenn sich Ihre vielfältigen Kenntnisse zum Werk Ridingers vielleicht als Artikel, oder Artikelserie, im Aus dem Antiquariat oder einer Bibliophilen-Zeitschrift einem breiten interessierten Publikum zur Kenntnis gebracht werden könnten … Ich würde mich jedenfalls sehr darüber freuen, Expertenwissen aus erster Hand zu erhalten. “

(Kollege U. K., 12. Mai 2015)