The Wheel of Fortune

Thomas Cook (1744-1818) after the original print by William Hogarth (1697-1764), An Emblematic Print on the South Sea, 1 August 1800. Engraving. Published London: G.G. & J. Robinson. This is the bottom plate on a sheet that originally included Rehearsal of the Oratorio of Judith and The Laughing Audience. Graphic Arts GA 2005.01324

William Hogarth created this scene in 1721 as a satire of the South Sea investment frauds in 1720. A monument to the destruction that was caused is shown on the right, with wolves fighting at the top. The central Wheel of Fortune is labeled “Who’l Ride” and is crowned with a goat. At the left, a devil is auctioning off pieces of Fortune’s body as religious leaders gamble below. The naked figure of Honesty, at the bottom center, is being tortured by Self-interest. At the right, Honor is whipped by Villainy and Trade lies dead below.

The text at the bottom reads:

See here the causes why in London
So many men are made and undone
That arts and honest trading drop,
To swarm about the Devil’s Shop (A),
Who cuts out (B) Fortune’s golden haunches,
Trading their souls with lots and chances,
Sharing ‘em from Blue Garters down
To all Blue Aprons in the town.
Here all Religions flock together,
Like tame and wild fowl of a feather,
Leaving their strife Religious battle,
Kneel down to play at pitch and hustle(C) :
Thus when the Shepherds are at play
Their flocks must surely go astray
The woeful cause that in these times
(E) Honour and Honesty (D) are crimes
That publickly are punish’d by
(G) Self-Interest and (F) Vilany
So much for mony’s magic power,
Guess at the rest, you find out more.
Price One Shilling