Friday, November 24, 2017


Jenny Uglow, from Hogarth: A Life and a World, on Colonel Francis Charteris (1675-1732), landowner, cashiered military officer, and notorious "rake" (though the last word seems too mild):
The common people had long hated Charteris. In 1711 the Colonel was accused (but discharged with a warning) for collecting money from desperate debtors by fraudulently placing their names on the register of his company, since they could be freed by enlisting in the army. He also made a huge fortune from South Sea stock, and possessed vast acres in Lancashire. The "Rape-Master of Britain," he boasted of seducing well over a hundred women... His many crimes and misdemeanours — gambling, using loaded dice, bearing false witness, sexual assaults and denial of his bastard children — were detailed in a host of mock-solemn pamphlets, poems and broadsides.
Sentenced to the gallows for kidnapping, raping, and horsewhipping a servant, he made use of his connections to receive a royal pardon, but soon afterwards he died of natural causes, possible exacerbated by his stay in prison. Uglow continues:
At his funeral there were unseemly riots, with people hurling rubbish, sodden vegetables, dead cats and dogs into his open grave and trying to rip his body from its coffin.
In the first scene in A Harlot's Progress, shown above, Charteris is depicted as the man standing in the doorway to the right who is eyeing the fresh meat newly arrived from the countryside. He stands, Uglow observes, "with his hand suspiciously deep in his pocket." Plus ça change...

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