Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Margaret Hogarth Changed Her Publication

Mother, as you may know, has roamed various publications in her younger days. She was born in a Hogarth Print, namely Gin Lane, and although it was all misery to her and her family, she had the satisfaction of knowing that her image inspired a national thrill of horror and the beginnings of a movement to save children from the mire of drunken poverty. The image was crudely copied in a religious tract, self-published by Reverend Jabez Drinkwater, which circulated widely in the 1790s. This diatribe against gin among the desperately poor was often paired with its co-publication, Gin and Gentry, based on Hogarth's prints of members of the upper class who drink and gamble away their fortunes, health, and reputations. 

For young Margaret, this was an opportunity to move into the more comfortable world of the ton, but for all the luxury, she had to be constantly on her guard against the advances of inebriated rakes. It was on a pleasant May morning on the estate of Sir Wilmot (Wild Will) Slyde. Margaret had wandered to the fields to view the progress on the construction of expanded pleasure gardens. Surrounded by marble terraces, a placid pool reflected the classical folly. Tall yew hedges enclosed the whole. How beautiful it would be when finished, she thought, all lit by torches, lively music playing, the scent of roses or lilacs drifting in the air. But all spoiled by the crude bacchanal that was Sir Wilmot's idea of a party.

No sooner than that thought went through her mind did Margaret hear a stumbling footstep -- arms, and the stench of whiskey, wrapped around her. Sir Wilmot! He must have seen her going to the secluded grove and seen his opportunity to accost her unseen. Margaret cried out for help, and kind Fortune smiled, for, as Sir Wilmot did not remember, the groundskeepers and landscape architect were close at hand. The young architect, a specialist in classical outdoor structures, was in the midst of giving instructions to a stonemason when he heard Margaret's alarm. In a flash, he disengaged Sir Wilmot from the trembling girl and gave him a tongue-lashing only a sodden drunk could ignore. Unfortunately, Sir Wilmot was a sodden drunk, and it took a well-placed kick in the pants to explain the situation to that miserable creature. 

The upshot of it all was that James Ackermann lost his employment, Sir Wilmot's garden was left unfinished, and a young couple fell in love. Margaret joined James in Ackermann's Repository, and they lived happily ever after.

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