The Rakes Progress, Plate 7

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All is lost by the seventh painting, and Tom is incarcerated in the notorious Fleet debtor's prison. He ignores the distress of both his angry new (old) wife and faithful Sarah, who cannot help him this time. Both the beer-boy and the jailer demand money from him. Tom begins to go mad, as indicated by both a telescope for celestial observation poking out of the barred window {an apparent reference to the Longitude rewards offered by the British government} and an alchemy experiment in the background. Beside Tom is a rejected play; another inmate is writing a pamphlet on how to solve the national debt. Above the bed at right is an apparatus for wings, which is more clearly seen in the engraved version at the left.

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The bearded man on the left comforting Sarah has been incarcerated in debtor’s prison. Nevertheless, he has devised a scheme for paying of the national debt.

On the right, a befuddled Tom is simultaneously attempting to deal with an angry wife, the news of a rejected play, and employees of the jail demanding money for services rendered.

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