Handkerchief: "Industry and Idleness"
Handkerchief: "Industry and Idleness,"
Great Britain, ca. 1775. Acc. #1950-104.
NOTE: Click here to see a larger image of the entire handkerchief. Move your mouse over the handkerchief to see details of each scene.
The scenes on this large plate-printed handkerchief depict the progress of two apprentices, Jack Idle and William Goodchild, through their working lives. Both young men work in the same weaver's shop, but their fortunes lie in opposite directions. William Goodchild, the industrious apprentice, works hard, attends church, proves himself trustworthy, marries his master's daughter, and is appointed Sheriff and eventually Lord Mayor of London. Jack Idle, the lazy apprentice, avoids work, is dismissed by his master, breaks the Sabbath, goes to sea as an impressed sailor, commits highway robbery, is arrested and brought before magistrate William Goodchild, and sentenced to execution. The moral lesson of the story is clear: hard work and virtuous behavior lead to success, while laziness leads to wickedness and disaster.
The titles for the various scenes (clockwise from top left) are:
- “The Good & Bad Servant(s) at Their Work”
- “Jack Idle Breaking the Sabbath”
- “Wm. Goodchild at Church”
- “The Idle Servant Going to Sea”
- “The Faithful Servant Rewarded by His Master”
- “J. Idle Frighted from His Sleep”
- “Wm. Goodchild Marries His Master's Daughter”
- “J. Idle Taken for a Robbery”
- “Wm. Goodchild Chosen Sheriff of London”
- “J. Idle Committed by His Fellow Prentice”
- “Sir Wm. Goodchild Enters His Mayoralty”
- “J. Idle Going to Execution”
The two additional scenes at the bottom of the handkerchief are titled: