Some Principal Inhabitants of ye Moon: Royalty, Episcopacy and Law
This iconoclastic emblem, executed in a surrealistic style, is a daring attack upon the English ruling class from a middle-class point of view. Playing on the worldly operations of these celestial (and lunar) figures, it depicts kings, bishops and lawyers as empty, mechanical forms having the power to manipulate but being composed only of the symbols with which they are decorated.
The circular form of the print is designed to suggest the field of vision offered by a telescope. On an elevated structure sits a king bearing a scepter and orb; he has a coin for a head. A bishop is resting his limbs on a luxurious pile of cushions; his head, a Jew's harp, operates a money-making machine by means of a prayerbook tied to its crank. The machine, shaped like a church steeple, is topped by a weather vane, which like the moons on the king's orb and scepter, is a symbol of inconstancy. This device pour money into a chest bearing a coat of arms that reveals the hierarchy's preoccupatoin with food.
The overdressed lawyer, whose might resides in his gigantic sword and dagger, has a mallet as a head. The lawyer is flanked by two symbols of dilettantish, aristocratic society; the woman has a teapot as a head, a glass as a neck and a fan as a torso, her effeminate companion has a coat of arms for a head and two decorated fan sticks for legs. The king is flanked by his courtiers, who have mirrors as bodies and money as heads, and by his army.
[Excerpt from Engravings by Hogarth, edited by Sean Shesgreen (Dover, 1973).]