THE WORKS OF WILLIAM HOGARTH;
IN A SERIES OF ENGRAVINGS: WITH DESCRIPTIONS, AND A COMMENT ON THEIR MORAL TENDENCY,
BY THE REV. JOHN TRUSLER.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED, ANECDOTES OF THE AUTHOR AND HIS WORKS, BY J. HOGARTH AND J. NICHOLS.
London: PUBLISHED BY JONES AND CO. TEMPLE OF THE MUSES, (LATE LACKINGTON'S,) FINSBURY SQUARE.
C. BAYNES, PRINTER, 13 DUKE STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS.
THE LIFE OF HOGARTH.
William Hogarth is said to have been the descendant of a family originally from Kirby Thore, in Westmorland.
His grandfather was a plain yeoman, who possessed a small tenement in the vale of Bampton, a village about fifteen miles north of Kendal, in that county; and had three sons.
The eldest assisted his father in farming, and succeeded to his little freehold.
The second settled in Troutbeck, a village eight miles north west of Kendal, and was remarkable for his talent at provincial poetry.
Richard Hogarth, the third son, who was educated at St. Bees, and had kept a school in the same county, appears to have been a man of some learning. He came early to London, where he resumed his original occupation of a schoolmaster, in Ship-court in the Old Bailey, and was occasionally employed as a corrector of the press.
Mr. Richard Hogarth married in London; and our artist, and his sisters, Mary and Anne, are believed to have been the only product of the marriage.
William Hogarth was born November 10, and baptised Nov. 28, 1697, in the parish of St. Bartholomew the Great, in London; to which parish, it is said, in the Biographia Britannica, he was afterwards a benefactor.
The school of Hogarth's father, in 1712, was in the parish of St. Martin, Ludgate. In the register of that parish, therefore, the date of his death, it was natural to suppose, might be found; but the register has been searched to no purpose.
Hogarth seems to have received no other education than that of a mechanic, and his outset in life was unpropitious. Young Hogarth was bound apprentice to a silversmith (whose name was Gamble) of some eminence; by whom he was confined to that branch of the trade, which consists in engraving arms and cyphers upon the plate. While thus employed, he gradually acquired some knowledge of drawing; and, before his apprenticeship expired, he exhibited talent for caricature. "He felt the impulse of genius, and that it directed him to painting, though little apprised at that time of the mode Nature had intended he should pursue."
The following circumstance gave the first indication of the talents with which Hogarth afterwards proved himself to be so liberally endowed.
During his apprenticeship, he set out one Sunday, with two or three companions, on an excursion to Highgate. The weather being hot, they went into a public-house; where they had not long been, before a quarrel arose between some persons in the same room; from words they soon got to blows, and the quart pots being the only missiles at hand, were sent flying about the room in glorious confusion. This was a scene too laughable for Hogarth to resist. He drew out his pencil, and produced on the spot one of the most ludicrous pieces that ever was seen; which exhibited likenesses not only of the combatants engaged in the affray, but also of the persons gathered round them, placed in grotesque attitudes, and heightened with character and points of humour.
On the expiration of his apprenticeship, he entered into the academy in St. Martin's Lane, and studied drawing from the life: but in this his proficiency was inconsiderable; nor would he ever have surpassed mediocrity as a painter, if he had not penetrated through external form to character and manners. "It was character, passions, the soul, that his genius was given him to copy."
The engraving of arms and shop-bills seems to have been his first employment by which to obtain a decent livelihood. He was, however, soon engaged in decorating books, and furnished sets of plates for several publications of the time. An edition of Hudibras afforded him the first subject suited to his genius: yet he felt so much the shackles of other men's ideas, that he was less successful in this task than might have been expected. In the mean time, he had acquired the use of the brush, as well as of the pen and graver; and, possessing a singular facility in seizing a likeness, he acquired considerable employment as a portrait-painter. Shortly after his marriage, he informs us that he commenced painter of small conversation pieces, from twelve to fifteen inches in height; the novelty of which caused them to succeed for a few years. One of the earliest productions of this kind, which distinguished him as a painter, is supposed to have been a representation of Wanstead Assembly; the figures in it were drawn from the life, and without burlesque. The faces were said to bear great likenesses to the persons so drawn, and to be rather better coloured than some of his more finished performances. Grace, however, was no attribute of his pencil; and he was more disposed to aggravate, than to soften the harsh touches of Nature.
A curious anecdote is recorded of our artist during the early part of his practice as a portrait painter. A nobleman, who was uncommonly ugly and deformed, sat for his picture, which was executed in his happiest manner, and with singularly rigid fidelity. The peer, disgusted at this counterpart of his dear self, was not disposed very readily to pay for a reflector that would only insult him with his deformities. After some time had elapsed, and numerous unsuccessful applications had been made for payment, the painter resorted to an expedient, which he knew must alarm the nobleman's pride. He sent him the following card:—"Mr. Hogarth's dutiful respects to Lord——; finding that he does not mean to have the picture which was drawn for him, is informed again of Mr. Hogarth's pressing necessities for the money. If, therefore, his lordship does not send for it in three days, it will be disposed of, with the addition of a tail and some other appendages, to Mr. Hare, the famous wild beast man; Mr. H. having given that gentleman a conditional promise on his lordship's refusal." This intimation had its desired effect; the picture was paid for, and committed to the flames.
Hogarth's talents, however, for original comic design, gradually unfolded themselves, and various public occasions produced displays of his ludicrous powers.
In the year 1730, he clandestinely married the only daughter of Sir James Thornhill, the painter, who was not easily reconciled to her union with an obscure artist, as Hogarth then comparatively was. Shortly after, he commenced his first great series of moral paintings, "The Harlot's Progress:" some of these were, at Lady Thornhill's suggestion, designedly placed by Mrs. Hogarth in her father's way, in order to reconcile him to her marriage. Being informed by whom they were executed, Sir James observed, "The man who can produce such representations as these, can also maintain a wife without a portion." He soon after, however, relented, and became generous to the young couple, with whom he lived in great harmony until his death, which took place in 1733.
In 1733 his genius became conspicuously known. The third scene of "The Harlot's Progress" introduced him to the notice of the great: at a Board of Treasury, (which was held a day or two after the appearance of that print), a copy of it was shown by one of the lords, as containing, among other excellences, a striking likeness of Sir John Gonson, a celebrated magistrate of that day, well known for his rigour towards women of the town. From the Treasury each lord repaired to the print-shop for a copy of it, and Hogarth rose completely into fame.
Upwards of twelve hundred subscribers entered their names for the plates, which were copied and imitated on fan mounts, and in a variety of other forms; and a pantomime taken from them was represented at the theatre. This performance, together with several subsequent ones of a similar kind, have placed Hogarth in the rare class of original geniuses and inventors. He may be said to have created an entirely new species of painting, which may be termed the moral comic; and may be considered rather as a writer of comedy with a pencil, than as a painter. If catching the manners and follies of an age, living as they rise—if general satire on vices,—and ridicule familiarised by strokes of Nature, and heightened by wit,—and the whole animated by proper and just expressions of the passions,—be comedy, Hogarth composed comedies as much as Moliere.
Soon after his marriage, Hogarth resided at South Lambeth; and being intimate with Mr. Tyers, the then spirited proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens, he contributed much to the improvement of those gardens; and first suggested the hint of embellishing them with paintings, some of which were the productions of his own comic pencil. Among the paintings were "The Four Parts of the Day," either by Hogarth, or after his designs.
Two years after the publication of his "Harlot's Progress," appeared the "Rake's Progress," which, Lord Orford remarks, (though perhaps superior,) "had not so much success, for want of notoriety: nor is the print of the Arrest equal in merit to the others." The curtain, however, was now drawn aside, and his genius stood displayed in its full lustre.
The Rake's Progress was followed by several works in series, viz. "Marriage a-la-Mode, Industry and Idleness, the Stages of Cruelty, and Election Prints." To these may be added, a great number of single comic pieces, all of which present a rich source of amusement:—such as, "The March to Finchley, Modern Midnight Conversation, the Sleeping Congregation, the Gates of Calais, Gin Lane, Beer Street, Strolling Players in a Barn, the Lecture, Laughing Audience, Enraged Musician," &c. &c. which, being introduced and described in the subsequent part of this work, it would far exceed the limits, necessarily assigned to these brief memoirs, here minutely to characterise.
All the works of this original genius are, in fact, lectures of morality. They are satires of particular vices and follies, expressed with such strength of character, and such an accumulation of minute and appropriate circumstances, that they have all the truth of Nature heightened by the attractions of wit and fancy. Nothing is without a meaning, but all either conspires to the great end, or forms an addition to the lively drama of human manners. His single pieces, however, are rather to be considered as studies, not perhaps for the professional artist, but for the searcher into life and manners, and for the votaries of true humour and ridicule. No furniture of the kind can vie with Hogarth's prints, as a fund of inexhaustible amusement, yet conveying at the same time lessons of morality.
Not contented, however, with the just reputation which he had acquired in his proper department, Hogarth attempted to shine in the highest branch of the art,—serious history-painting. "From a contempt," says Lord Orford, "of the ignorant virtuosi of the age, and from indignation at the impudent tricks of picture dealers, whom he saw continually recommending and vending vile copies to bubble collectors, and from having never studied, or indeed having seen, few good pictures of the great Italian masters, he persuaded himself that the praises bestowed on those glorious works were nothing but the effects of prejudice. He talked this language till he believed it; and having heard it often asserted (as is true) that time gives a mellowness to colours, and improves them, he not only denied the proposition, but maintained that pictures only grew black and worse by age, not distinguishing between the degrees in which the proposition might be true or false. He went farther: he determined to rival the ancients, and unfortunately chose one of the finest pictures in England as the object of his competition. This was the celebrated Sigismonda of Sir Luke Schaub, now in the possession of the Duke of Newcastle, said to be painted by Correggio, probably by Furino."—"It is impossible to see the picture," (continues his lordship,) "or read Dryden's inimitable tale, and not feel that the same soul animated both. After many essays, Hogarth at last produced his Sigismonda,—but no more like Sigismonda than I to Hercules."
Notwithstanding Hogarth professed to decry literature, he felt an inclination to communicate to the public his ideas on a topic connected with his art. His "Analysis of Beauty" made its appearance in one volume quarto, in the year 1753. Its leading principle is, that beauty fundamentally consists in that union of uniformity which is found in the curve or waving line; and that round swelling figures are most pleasing to the eye. This principle he illustrates by many ingenious remarks and examples, and also by some plates characteristic of his genius.
In the year 1757, his brother-in-law, Mr. Thornhill, resigned his office of king's serjeant-painter in favour of Hogarth, who received his appointment on the 6th of June, and entered on his functions on the 16th of July, both in the same year. This place was re-granted to him by a warrant of George the Third, which bears date the 30th October, 1761, with a salary of ten pounds per annum, payable quarterly.
This connexion with the court probably induced Hogarth to deviate from the strict line of party neutrality which he had hitherto observed, and to engage against Mr. Wilkes and his friends, in a print published in September, 1762, entitled The Times. This publication provoked some severe strictures from Wilkes's pen, in a North Briton (No. 17.) Hogarth replied by a caricature of the writer: a rejoinder was put in by Churchill, in an angry epistle to Hogarth (not the brightest of his works); and in which the severest strokes fell on a defect the painter had not caused, and could not amend—his age; which, however, was neither remarkable nor decrepit; much less had it impaired his talents: for, only six months before, he had produced one of his most capital works. In revenge for this epistle, Hogarth caricatured Churchill, under the form of a canonical bear, with a club and a pot of porter.
During this period of warfare (so virulent and disgraceful to all the parties), Hogarth's health visibly declined. In 1762, he complained of an internal pain, the continuance of which produced a general decay of the system, that proved incurable; and, on the 25th of October, 1764, (having been previously conveyed in a very weak and languid state from Chiswick to Leicester Fields,) he died suddenly, of an aneurism in his chest, in the sixty-seventh or sixty-eighth year of his age. His remains were interred at Chiswick, beneath a plain but neat mausoleum, with the following elegant inscription by his friend Garrick:—
"Farewell, great painter of mankind, Who reach'd the noblest point of art; Whose pictured morals charm the mind, And through the eye correct the heart. If Genius fire thee, reader, stay; If Nature touch thee, drop a tear: If neither move thee, turn away, For Hogarth's honour'd dust lies here."
LIST OF ENGRAVINGS.
RAKE'S PROGRESS. Page
PLATE 1 Heir taking Possession 11 " 2 Surrounded by Artists 13 " 3 Tavern Scene 15 " 4 Arrested for Debt 17 " 5 Marries an Old Maid 19 " 6 Gaming House 21 " 7 Prison Scene 23 " 8 Mad House 25
The Distressed Poet 27 The Bench 29 The Laughing Audience 31 Gate of Calais 33 The Politician 35 Taste in High Life 37
PLATE 1 39 " 2 41 " 3 43 " 4 45 " 5 47 " 6 49
The Lecture 51 The Chorus 53 Columbus breaking the Egg 55 Modern Midnight Conversation 57 Consultation of Physicians 59 Portrait of Daniel Lock, Esq. 61 The Enraged Musician 63 Masquerades and Operas 65
TIMES OF THE DAY.
Morning 67 Noon 69 Evening 71 Night 73
Sigismonda 75 Portrait of Martin Fowkes, Esq. 77 The Cockpit 78 Captain Thomas Coram 81 Country Inn Yard 83
INDUSTRY AND IDLENESS.
PLATE 1 85 " 2 87 " 3 89 " 4 91 " 5 93 " 6 95 " 7 97 " 8 99 " 9 101 " 10 103 " 11 105 " 12 107
Southwark Fair. 109 Garrick as Richard III. 111
FRANCE AND ENGLAND.
PLATE 1 France 113 " 2 England 115
THE RAKE'S PROGRESS.
Of all the follies in human life, there is none greater than that of extravagance, or profuseness; it being constant labour, without the least ease or relaxation. It bears, indeed, the colour of that which is commendable, and would fain be thought to take its rise from laudable motives, searching indefatigably after true felicity; now as there can be no true felicity without content, it is this which every man is in constant pursuit of; the learned, for instance, in his industrious quest after knowledge; the merchant, in his dangerous voyages; the ambitious, in his passionate pursuit of honour; the conqueror, in his earnest desire of victory; the politician, in his deep-laid designs; the wanton, in his pleasing charms of beauty; the covetous, in his unwearied heaping-up of treasure; and the prodigal, in his general and extravagant indulgence.—Thus far it may be well;—but, so mistaken are we in our road, as to run on in the very opposite tract, which leads directly to our ruin. Whatever else we indulge ourselves in, is attended with some small degree of relish, and has some trifling satisfaction in the enjoyment, but, in this, the farther we go, the more we are lost; and when arrived at the mark proposed, we are as far from the object we pursue, as when we first set out. Here then, are we inexcusable, in not attending to the secret dictates of reason, and in stopping our ears at the timely admonitions of friendship. Headstrong and ungovernable, we pursue our course without intermission; thoughtless and unwary, we see not the dangers that lie immediately before us; but hurry on, even without sight of our object, till we bury ourselves in that gulf of woe, where perishes at once, health, wealth and virtue, and whose dreadful labyrinths admit of no return.
Struck with the foresight of that misery, attendant on a life of debauchery, which is, in fact, the offspring of prodigality, our author has, in the scenes before us, attempted the reformation of the worldling, by stopping him as it were in his career, and opening to his view the many sad calamities awaiting the prosecution of his proposed scheme of life; he has, in hopes of reforming the prodigal, and at the same time deterring the rising generation, whom Providence may have blessed with earthly wealth, from entering into so iniquitous a course, exhibited the life of a young man, hurried on through a succession of profligate pursuits, for the few years Nature was able to support itself; and this from the instant he might be said to enter into the world, till the time of his leaving it. But, as the vice of avarice is equal to that of prodigality, and the ruin of children is often owing to the indiscretion of their parents, he has opened the piece with a scene, which, at the same time that it exposes the folly of the youth, shews us the imprudence of the father, who is supposed to have hurt the principles of his son, in depriving him of the necessary use of some portion of that gold, he had with penurious covetousness been hoarding up, for the sole purpose of lodging in his coffers.
THE YOUNG HEIR TAKING POSSESSION.
Oh, vanity of age untoward! Ever spleeny, ever froward! Why these bolts and massy chains, Squint suspicions, jealous pains? Why, thy toilsome journey o'er, Lay'st thou up an useless store? Hope, along with Time is flown; Nor canst thou reap the field thou'st sown. Hast thou a son? In time be wise; He views thy toil with other eyes. Needs must thy kind paternal care, Lock'd in thy chests, be buried there? Whence, then, shall flow that friendly ease, That social converse, heartfelt peace, Familiar duty without dread, Instruction from example bred, Which youthful minds with freedom mend, And with the father mix the friend? Uncircumscribed by prudent rules, Or precepts of expensive schools; Abused at home, abroad despised, Unbred, unletter'd, unadvised; The headstrong course of life begun, What comfort from thy darling son?
The history opens, representing a scene crowded with all the monuments of avarice, and laying before us a most beautiful contrast, such as is too general in the world, to pass unobserved; nothing being more common than for a son to prodigally squander away that substance his father had, with anxious solicitude, his whole life been amassing.—Here, we see the young heir, at the age of nineteen or twenty, raw from the University, just arrived at home, upon the death of his father. Eager to know the possessions he is master of, the old wardrobes, where things have been rotting time out of mind, are instantly wrenched open; the strong chests are unlocked; the parchments, those securities of treble interest, on which this avaricious monster lent his money, tumbled out; and the bags of gold, which had long been hoarded, with griping care, now exposed to the pilfering hands of those about him. To explain every little mark of usury and covetousness, such as the mortgages, bonds, indentures, &c. the piece of candle stuck on a save-all, on the mantle-piece; the rotten furniture of the room, and the miserable contents of the dusty wardrobe, would be unnecessary: we shall only notice the more striking articles. From the vast quantity of papers, falls an old written journal, where, among other memorandums, we find the following, viz. "May the 5th, 1721. Put off my bad shilling." Hence, we learn, the store this penurious miser set on this trifle: that so penurious is the disposition of the miser, that notwithstanding he may be possessed of many large bags of gold, the fear of losing a single shilling is a continual trouble to him. In one part of the room, a man is hanging it with black cloth, on which are placed escutcheons, by way of dreary ornament; these escutcheons contain the arms of the covetous, viz. three vices, hard screwed, with the motto, "BEWARE!" On the floor, lie a pair of old shoes, which this sordid wretch is supposed to have long preserved for the weight of iron in the nails, and has been soling with leather cut from the covers of an old Family Bible; an excellent piece of satire, intimating, that such men would sacrifice even their God to the lust of money. From these and some other objects too striking to pass unnoticed, such as the gold falling from the breaking cornice; the jack and spit, those utensils of original hospitality, locked up, through fear of being used; the clean and empty chimney, in which a fire is just now going to be made for the first time; and the emaciated figure of the cat, strongly mark the natural temper of the late miserly inhabitant, who could starve in the midst of plenty.—But see the mighty change! View the hero of our piece, left to himself, upon the death of his father, possessed of a goodly inheritance. Mark how his mind is affected!—determined to partake of the mighty happiness he falsely imagines others of his age and fortune enjoy; see him running headlong into extravagance, withholding not his heart from any joy; but implicitly pursuing the dictates of his will. To commence this delusive swing of pleasure, his first application is to the tailor, whom we see here taking his measure, in order to trick out his pretty person. In the interim, enters a poor girl (with her mother), whom our hero has seduced, under professions of love and promises of marriage; in hopes of meeting with that kind welcome she had the greatest reason to expect; but he, corrupted with the wealth of which he is now the master, forgets every engagement he once made, finds himself too rich to keep his word; and, as if gold would atone for a breach of honour, is offering money to her mother, as an equivalent for the non-fulfilling of his promise. Not the sight of the ring, given as a pledge of his fidelity; not a view of the many affectionate letters he at one time wrote to her, of which her mother's lap is full; not the tears, nor even the pregnant condition of the wretched girl, could awaken in him one spark of tenderness; but, hard hearted and unfeeling, like the generality of wicked men, he suffers her to weep away her woes in silent sorrow, and curse with bitterness her deceitful betrayer. One thing more we shall take notice of, which is, that this unexpected visit, attended with abuse from the mother, so engages the attention of our youth, as to give the old pettifogger behind him an opportunity of robbing him. Hence we see that one ill consequence is generally attended with another; and that misfortunes, according to the old proverb, seldom come alone.
Mr. Ireland remarks of this plate—"He here presents to us the picture of a young man, thoughtless, extravagant, and licentious; and, in colours equally impressive, paints the destructive consequences of his conduct. The first print most forcibly contrasts two opposite passions; the unthinking negligence of youth, and the sordid avaricious rapacity of age. It brings into one point of view what Mr. Pope so exquisitely describes in his Epistle to Lord Bathurst—
'Who sees pale Mammon pine amidst his store, Sees but a backward steward for the poor; This year a reservoir, to keep and spare; The next a fountain, spouting through his heir.'
The introduction to this history is well delineated, and the principal figure marked with that easy, unmeaning vacancy of face, which speaks him formed by nature for a DUPE. Ignorant of the value of money, and negligent in his nature, he leaves his bag of untold gold in the reach of an old and greedy pettifogging attorney, who is making an inventory of bonds, mortgages, indentures, &c. This man, with the rapacity so natural to those who disgrace the profession, seizes the first opportunity of plundering his employer. Hogarth had, a few years before, been engaged in a law suit, which gave him some experience of the PRACTICE of those pests of society."
SURROUNDED BY ARTISTS AND PROFESSORS.
Prosperity (with harlot's smiles, Most pleasing when she most beguiles), How soon, great foe, can all thy train Of false, gay, frantic, loud, and vain, Enter the unprovided mind, And memory in fetters bind? Load faith and love with golden chain, And sprinkle Lethe o'er the brain! Pleasure, on her silver throne, Smiling comes, nor comes alone; Venus comes with her along, And smooth Lyaeus, ever young; And in their train, to fill the press, Come apish Dance and swoln Excess, Mechanic Honour, vicious Taste, And Fashion in her changing vest.
We are next to consider our hero as launched into the world, and having equipped himself with all the necessaries to constitute him a man of taste, he plunges at once into all the fashionable excesses, and enters with spirit into the character he assumes.
The avarice of the penurious father then, in this print, is contrasted by the giddy profusion of his prodigal son. We view him now at his levee, attended by masters of various professions, supposed to be here offering their interested services. The foremost figure is readily known to be a dancing-master; behind him are two men, who at the time when these prints were first published, were noted for teaching the arts of defence by different weapons, and who are here drawn from the life; one of whom is a Frenchman, teacher of the small-sword, making a thrust with his foil; the other an Englishman, master of the quarter-staff; the vivacity of the first, and the cold contempt visible in the face of the second, beautifully describe the natural disposition of the two nations. On the left of the latter stands an improver of gardens, drawn also from the life, offering a plan for that purpose. A taste for gardening, carried to excess, must be acknowledged to have been the ruin of numbers, it being a passion that is seldom, if ever, satisfied, and attended with the greatest expense. In the chair sits a professor of music, at the harpsichord, running over the keys, waiting to give his pupil a lesson; behind whose chair hangs a list of the presents, one Farinelli, an Italian singer, received the next day after his first performance at the Opera House; amongst which, there is notice taken of one, which he received from the hero of our piece, thus: "A gold snuff-box, chased, with the story of Orpheus charming the brutes, by J. Rakewell, esq." By these mementos of extravagance and pride, (for gifts of this kind proceed oftener from ostentation than generosity,) and by the engraved frontispiece to a poem, dedicated to our fashionable spendthrift, lying on the floor, which represents the ladies of Britain sacrificing their hearts to the idol Farinelli, crying out, with the greatest earnestness, "one G—d, one Farinelli," we are given to understand the prevailing dissipation and luxury of the times. Near the principal figure in this plate is that of him, with one hand on his breast, the other on his sword, whom we may easily discover to be a bravo; he is represented as having brought a letter of recommendation, as one disposed to undertake all sorts of service. This character is rather Italian than English; but is here introduced to fill up the list of persons at that time too often engaged in the service of the votaries of extravagance and fashion. Our author would have it imagined in the interval between the first scene and this, that the young man whose history he is painting, had now given himself up to every fashionable extravagance; and among others, he had imbibed a taste for cock-fighting and horse-racing; two amusements, which, at that time, the man of fashion could not dispense with. This is evident, from his rider bringing in a silver punch-bowl, which one of his horses is supposed to have won, and his saloon being ridiculously ornamented with the portraits of celebrated cocks. The figures in the back part of this plate represent tailors, peruke-makers, milliners, and such other persons as generally fill the antichamber of a man of quality, except one, who is supposed to be a poet, and has written some panegyric on the person whose levee he attends, and who waits for that approbation he already vainly anticipates. Upon the whole, the general tenor of this scene is to teach us, that the man of fashion is too often exposed to the rapacity of his fellow creatures, and is commonly a dupe to the more knowing part of the world.
"How exactly," says Mr. Ireland, "does Bramston describe the character in his Man of Taste:—
'Without Italian, and without an ear, To Bononcini's music I adhere.—— To boon companions I my time would give, With players, pimps, and parasites I'd live; I would with jockeys from Newmarket dine, And to rough riders give my choicest wine. My evenings all I would with sharpers spend, And make the thief-taker my bosom friend; In Figg, the prize-fighter, by day delight, And sup with Colley Cibber every night.'
"Of the expression in this print, we cannot speak more highly than it deserves. Every character is marked with its proper and discriminative stamp. It has been said by a very judicious critic (the Rev. Mr. Gilpin) from whom it is not easy to differ without being wrong, that the hero of this history, in the first plate of the series, is unmeaning, and in the second ungraceful. The fact is admitted; but, for so delineating him, the author is entitled to our praise, rather than our censure. Rakewell's whole conduct proves he was a fool, and at that time he had not learned how to perform an artificial character; he therefore looks as he is, unmeaning, and uninformed. But in the second plate he is ungraceful.—Granted. The ill-educated son of so avaricious a father could not have been introduced into very good company; and though, by the different teachers who surround him, it evidently appears that he wishes to assume the character of a gentleman, his internal feelings tell him he has not attained it. Under that consciousness, he is properly and naturally represented as ungraceful, and embarrassed in his new situation."
THE TAVERN SCENE.
"O vanity of youthful blood, So by misuse to poison good! Woman, framed for social love, Fairest gift of powers above, Source of every household blessing; All charms in innocence possessing: But, turn'd to vice, all plagues above; Foe to thy being, foe to love! Guest divine, to outward viewing; Ablest minister of ruin? And thou, no less of gift divine, Sweet poison of misused wine! With freedom led to every part, And secret chamber of the heart, Dost thou thy friendly host betray, And shew thy riotous gang the way To enter in, with covert treason, O'erthrow the drowsy guard of reason, To ransack the abandon'd place, And revel there with wild excess?"
Mr. Ireland having, in his description of this Plate, incorporated whatever is of value in Dr. Trusler's text, with much judicious observation and criticism of his own, the Editor has taken the former verbatim.
"This Plate exhibits our licentious prodigal engaged in one of his midnight festivities: forgetful of the past, and negligent of the future, he riots in the present. Having poured his libation to Bacchus, he concludes the evening orgies in a sacrifice at the Cyprian shrine; and, surrounded by the votaries of Venus, joins in the unhallowed mysteries of the place. The companions of his revelry are marked with that easy, unblushing effrontery, which belongs to the servants of all work in the isle of Paphos;—for the maids of honour they are not sufficiently elevated.
"He may be supposed, in the phrase of the day, to have beat the rounds, overset a constable, and conquered a watchman, whose staff and lantern he has brought into the room, as trophies of his prowess. In this situation he is robbed of his watch by the girl whose hand is in his bosom; and, with that adroitness peculiar to an old practitioner, she conveys her acquisition to an accomplice, who stands behind the chair.
"Two of the ladies are quarrelling; and one of them delicately spouts wine in the face of her opponent, who is preparing to revenge the affront with a knife, which, in a posture of threatening defiance, she grasps in her hand. A third, enraged at being neglected, holds a lighted candle to a map of the globe, determined to set the world on fire, though she perish in the conflagration! A fourth is undressing. The fellow bringing in a pewter dish, as part of the apparatus of this elegant and Attic entertainment, a blind harper, a trumpeter, and a ragged ballad-singer, roaring out an obscene song, complete this motley group.
"This design may be a very exact representation of what were then the nocturnal amusements of a brothel;—so different are the manners of former and present times, that I much question whether a similar exhibition is now to be seen in any tavern of the metropolis. That we are less licentious than our predecessors, I dare not affirm; but we are certainly more delicate in the pursuit of our pleasures.
"The room is furnished with a set of Roman emperors,—they are not placed in their proper order; for in the mad revelry of the evening, this family of frenzy have decollated all of them, except Nero; and his manners had too great a similarity to their own, to admit of his suffering so degrading an insult; their reverence for virtue induced them to spare his head. In the frame of a Caesar they have placed a portrait of Pontac, an eminent cook, whose great talents being turned to heightening sensual, rather than mental enjoyments, he has a much better chance of a votive offering from this company, than would either Vespasian or Trajan.
"The shattered mirror, broken wine-glasses, fractured chair and cane; the mangled fowl, with a fork stuck in its breast, thrown into a corner, and indeed every accompaniment, shews, that this has been a night of riot without enjoyment, mischief without wit, and waste without gratification.
"With respect to the drawing of the figures in this curious female coterie, Hogarth evidently intended several of them for beauties; and of vulgar, uneducated, prostituted beauty, he had a good idea. The hero of our tale displays all that careless jollity, which copious draughts of maddening wine are calculated to inspire; he laughs the world away, and bids it pass. The poor dupe, without his periwig, in the back-ground, forms a good contrast of character: he is maudlin drunk, and sadly sick. To keep up the spirit of unity throughout the society, and not leave the poor African girl entirely neglected, she is making signs to her friend the porter, who perceives, and slightly returns, her love-inspiring glance. This print is rather crowded,—the subject demanded it should be so; some of the figures, thrown into shade, might have helped the general effect, but would have injured the characteristic expression."
ARRESTED FOR DEBT.
"O, vanity of youthful blood, So by misuse to poison good! Reason awakes, and views unbarr'd The sacred gates he wish'd to guard; Approaching, see the harpy Law, And Poverty, with icy paw, Ready to seize the poor remains That vice has left of all his gains. Cold penitence, lame after-thought, With fear, despair, and horror fraught, Call back his guilty pleasures dead, Whom he hath wrong'd, and whom betray'd."
The career of dissipation is here stopped. Dressed in the first style of the ton, and getting out of a sedan-chair, with the hope of shining in the circle, and perhaps forwarding a former application for a place or a pension, he is arrested! To intimate that being plundered is the certain consequence of such an event, and to shew how closely one misfortune treads upon the heels of another, a boy is at the same moment stealing his cane.
The unfortunate girl whom he basely deserted, is now a milliner, and naturally enough attends in the crowd, to mark the fashions of the day. Seeing his distress, with all the eager tenderness of unabated love, she flies to his relief. Possessed of a small sum of money, the hard earnings of unremitted industry, she generously offers her purse for the liberation of her worthless favourite. This releases the captive beau, and displays a strong instance of female affection; which, being once planted in the bosom, is rarely eradicated by the coldest neglect, or harshest cruelty.
The high-born, haughty Welshman, with an enormous leek, and a countenance keen and lofty as his native mountains, establishes the chronology, and fixes the day to be the first of March; which being sacred to the titular saint of Wales, was observed at court.
Mr. Nichols remarks of this plate:—"In the early impressions, a shoe-black steals the Rake's cane. In the modern ones, a large group of sweeps, and black-shoe boys, are introduced gambling on the pavement; near them a stone inscribed Black's, a contrast to White's gaming-house, against which a flash of lightning is pointed. The curtain in the window of the sedan-chair is thrown back. This plate is likewise found in an intermediate state; the sky being made unnaturally obscure, with an attempt to introduce a shower of rain, and lightning very aukwardly represented. It is supposed to be a first proof after the insertion of the group of blackguard gamesters; the window of the chair being only marked for an alteration that was afterwards made in it. Hogarth appears to have so far spoiled the sky, that he was obliged to obliterate it, and cause it to be engraved over again by another hand."
Mr. Gilpin observes:—"Very disagreeable accidents often befal gentlemen of pleasure. An event of this kind is recorded in the fourth print, which is now before us. Our hero going, in full dress, to pay his compliments at court on St. David's day, was accosted in the rude manner which is here represented.—The composition is good. The form of the group, made up of the figures in action, the chair, and the lamplighter, is pleasing. Only, here we have an opportunity of remarking, that a group is disgusting when the extremities of it are heavy. A group in some respects should resemble a tree. The heavier part of the foliage (the cup, as the landscape-painter calls it) is always near the middle; the outside branches, which are relieved by the sky, are light and airy. An inattention to this rule has given a heaviness to the group before us. The two bailiffs, the woman, and the chairman, are all huddled together in that part of the group which should have been the lightest; while the middle part, where the hand holds the door, wants strength and consistence. It may be added too, that the four heads, in the form of a diamond, make an unpleasing shape. All regular figures should be studiously avoided.—The light had been well distributed, if the bailiff holding the arrest, and the chairman, had been a little lighter, and the woman darker. The glare of the white apron is disagreeable.—We have, in this print, some beautiful instances of expression. The surprise and terror of the poor gentleman is apparent in every limb, as far as is consistent with the fear of discomposing his dress. The insolence of power in one of the bailiffs, and the unfeeling heart, which can jest with misery, in the other, are strongly marked. The self-importance, too, of the honest Cambrian is not ill portrayed; who is chiefly introduced to settle the chronology of the story.—In pose of grace, we have nothing striking. Hogarth might have introduced a degree of it in the female figure: at least he might have contrived to vary the heavy and unpleasing form of her drapery.—The perspective is good, and makes an agreeable shape."
MARRIES AN OLD MAID.
"New to the school of hard mishap, Driven from the ease of fortune's lap. What schemes will nature not embrace T' avoid less shame of drear distress? Gold can the charms of youth bestow, And mask deformity with shew: Gold can avert the sting of shame, In Winter's arms create a flame: Can couple youth with hoary age, And make antipathies engage."
To be thus degraded by the rude enforcement of the law, and relieved from an exigence by one whom he had injured, would have wounded, humbled, I had almost said reclaimed, any man who had either feeling or elevation of mind; but, to mark the progression of vice, we here see this depraved, lost character, hypocritically violating every natural feeling of the soul, to recruit his exhausted finances, and marrying an old and withered Sybil, at the sight of whom nature must recoil.
The ceremony passes in the old church, Mary-le-bone, which was then considered at such a distance from London, as to become the usual resort of those who wished to be privately married; that such was the view of this prostituted young man, may be fairly inferred from a glance at the object of his choice. Her charms are heightened by the affectation of an amorous leer, which she directs to her youthful husband, in grateful return for a similar compliment which she supposes paid to herself. This gives her face much meaning, but meaning of such a sort, that an observer being ask, "How dreadful must be this creature's hatred?" would naturally reply, "How hateful must be her love!"
In his demeanor we discover an attempt to appear at the altar with becoming decorum: but internal perturbation darts through assumed tranquillity, for though he is plighting his troth to the old woman, his eyes are fixed on the young girl who kneels behind her.
The parson and clerk seem made for each other; a sleepy, stupid solemnity marks every muscle of the divine, and the nasal droning of the lay brother is most happily expressed. Accompanied by her child and mother, the unfortunate victim of his seduction is here again introduced, endeavouring to enter the church, and forbid the banns. The opposition made by an old pew-opener, with her bunch of keys, gave the artist a good opportunity for indulging his taste in the burlesque, and he has not neglected it.
A dog (Trump, Hogarth's favorite), paying his addresses to a one-eyed quadruped of his own species, is a happy parody of the unnatural union going on in the church.
The commandments are broken: a crack runs near the tenth, which says, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife; a prohibition in the present case hardly necessary. The creed is destroyed by the damps of the church; and so little attention has been paid to the poor's box, that it is covered with a cobweb! These three high-wrought strokes of satirical humour were perhaps never equalled by any exertion of the pencil; excelled they cannot be.
On one of the pew doors is the following curious specimen of church-yard poetry, and mortuary orthography.
THESE : PEWES : VNSCRUD : AND TANE : IN : SVNDER IN : STONE : THERS : GRAUEN : WHAT : IS : VNDER TO : WIT : A VALT : FOR : BURIAL : THERE : IS WHICH : EDWARD : FORSET : MADE : FOR : HIM : AND : HIS.
This is a correct copy of the inscription. Part of these lines, in raised letters, now form a pannel in the wainscot at the end of the right-hand gallery, as the church is entered from the street. The mural monument of the Taylor's, composed of lead, gilt over, is still preserved: it is seen in Hogarth's print, just under the window.
A glory over the bride's head is whimsical.
The bay and holly, which decorate the pews, give a date to the period, and determine this preposterous union of January with June, to have taken place about the time of Christmas;
"When Winter linger'd in her icy veins."
Addison would have classed her among the evergreens of the sex.
It has been observed, that "the church is too small, and the wooden post, which seems to have no use, divides the picture very disagreeably." This cannot be denied: but it appears to be meant as an accurate representation of the place, and the artist delineated what he saw.
The grouping is good, and the principal figure has the air of a gentleman. The light is well distributed, and the scene most characteristically represented.
The commandments being represented as broken, might probably give the hint to a lady's reply, on being told that thieves had the preceding night broken into the church, and stolen the communion-plate, and the ten commandments. "I suppose," added the informant, "that they may melt and sell the plate; but can you divine for what possible purpose they could steal the commandments?"—"To break them, to be sure," replied she;—"to break them."
SCENE IN A GAMING HOUSE.
"Gold, thou bright son of Phoebus, source Of universal intercourse; Of weeping Virtue soft redress: And blessing those who live to bless: Yet oft behold this sacred trust, The tool of avaricious lust; No longer bond of human kind, But bane of every virtuous mind. What chaos such misuse attends, Friendship stoops to prey on friends; Health, that gives relish to delight, Is wasted with the wasting night; Doubt and mistrust is thrown on Heaven, And all its power to chance is given. Sad purchase of repentant tears, } Of needless quarrels, endless fears, } Of hopes of moments, pangs of years! } Sad purchase of a tortured mind, To an imprison'd body join'd."
Though now, from the infatuated folly of his antiquated wife, in possession of a fortune, he is still the slave of that baneful vice, which, while it enslaves the mind, poisons the enjoyments, and sweeps away the possessions of its deluded votaries. Destructive as the earthquake which convulses nature, it overwhelms the pride of the forest, and engulfs the labours of the architect.
Newmarket and the cockpit were the scenes of his early amusements; to crown the whole, he is now exhibited at a gaming-table, where all is lost! His countenance distorted with agony, and his soul agitated almost to madness, he imprecates vengeance upon his own head.
"In heartfelt bitter anguish he appears, And from the blood-shot ball gush purpled tears! He beats his brow, with rage and horror fraught; His brow half bursts with agony of thought!"
That he should be deprived of all he possessed in such a society as surround him, is not to be wondered at. One of the most conspicuous characters appears, by the pistol in his pocket, to be a highwayman: from the profound stupor of his countenance, we are certain he also is a losing gamester; and so absorbed in reflection, that neither the boy who brings him a glass of water, nor the watchman's cry of "Fire!" can arouse him from his reverie. Another of the party is marked for one of those well-dressed continental adventurers, who, being unable to live in their own country, annually pour into this, and with no other requisites than a quick eye, an adroit hand, and an undaunted forehead, are admitted into what is absurdly enough called good company.
At the table a person in mourning grasps his hat, and hides his face, in the agony of repentance, not having, as we infer from his weepers, received that legacy of which he is now plundered more than "a little month." On the opposite side is another, on whom fortune has severely frowned, biting his nails in the anguish of his soul. The fifth completes the climax; he is frantic; and with a drawn sword endeavours to destroy a pauvre miserable whom he supposes to have cheated him, but is prevented by the interposition of one of those staggering votaries of Bacchus who are to be found in every company where there is good wine; and gaming, like the rod of Moses, so far swallows up every other passion, that the actors, engrossed by greater objects, willingly leave their wine to the audience.
In the back-ground are two collusive associates, eagerly dividing the profits of the evening.
A nobleman in the corner is giving his note to an usurer. The lean and hungry appearance of this cent. per cent. worshipper of the golden calf, is well contrasted by the sleek, contented vacancy of so well-employed a legislator of this great empire. Seated at the table, a portly gentleman, of whom we see very little, is coolly sweeping off his winnings.
So engrossed is every one present by his own situation, that the flames which surround them are disregarded, and the vehement cries of a watchman entering the room, are necessary to rouse their attention to what is generally deemed the first law of nature, self-preservation.
Mr. Gilpin observes:—"The fortune, which our adventurer has just received, enables him to make one push more at the gaming-table. He is exhibited, in the sixth print, venting curses on his folly for having lost his last stake.—This is, upon the whole, perhaps, the best print of the set. The horrid scene it describes, was never more inimitably drawn. The composition is artful, and natural. If the shape of the whole be not quite pleasing, the figures are so well grouped, and with so much ease and variety, that you cannot take offence.
"The expression, in almost every figure, is admirable; and the whole is a strong representation of the human mind in a storm. Three stages of that species of madness which attends gaming, are here described. On the first shock, all is inward dismay. The ruined gamester is represented leaning against a wall, with his arms across, lost in an agony of horror. Perhaps never passion was described with so much force. In a short time this horrible gloom bursts into a storm of fury: he tears in pieces what comes next him; and, kneeling down, invokes curses upon himself. He next attacks others; every one in his turn whom he imagines to have been instrumental in his ruin.—The eager joy of the winning gamesters, the attention of the usurer, the vehemence of the watchman, and the profound reverie of the highwayman, are all admirably marked. There is great coolness, too, expressed in the little we see of the fat gentleman at the end of the table."
"Happy the man whose constant thought, (Though in the school of hardship taught,) Can send remembrance back to fetch Treasures from life's earliest stretch; Who, self-approving, can review Scenes of past virtues, which shine through The gloom of age, and cast a ray To gild the evening of his day! Not so the guilty wretch confined: No pleasures meet his conscious mind; No blessings brought from early youth, But broken faith, and wrested truth; Talents idle and unused, And every trust of Heaven abused. In seas of sad reflection lost, From horrors still to horrors toss'd, Reason the vessel leaves to steer, And gives the helm to mad Despair."
By a very natural transition Mr. Hogarth has passed his hero from a gaming house into a prison—the inevitable consequence of extravagance. He is here represented in a most distressing situation, without a coat to his back, without money, without a friend to help him. Beggared by a course of ill-luck, the common attendant on the gamester, having first made away with every valuable he was master of, and having now no other resource left to retrieve his wretched circumstances, he at last, vainly promising himself success, commences author, and attempts, though inadequate to the task, to write a play, which is lying on the table, just returned with an answer from the manager of the theatre, to whom he had offered it, that his piece would by no means do. Struck speechless with this disastrous occurrence, all his hopes vanish, and his most sanguine expectations are changed into dejection of spirit. To heighten his distress, he is approached by his wife, and bitterly upbraided for his perfidy in concealing from her his former connexions (with that unhappy girl who is here present with her child, the innocent offspring of her amours, fainting at the sight of his misfortunes, being unable to relieve him farther), and plunging her into those difficulties she never shall be able to surmount. To add to his misery, we see the under-turnkey pressing him for his prison fees, or garnish-money, and the boy refusing to leave the beer he ordered, without being first paid for it. Among those assisting the fainting mother, one of whom we observe clapping her hand, another applying the drops, is a man crusted over, as it were, with the rust of a gaol, supposed to have started from his dream, having been disturbed by the noise at a time when he was settling some affairs of state; to have left his great plan unfinished, and to have hurried to the assistance of distress. We are told, by the papers falling from his lap, one of which contains a scheme for paying the national debt, that his confinement is owing to that itch of politics some persons are troubled with, who will neglect their own affairs, in order to busy themselves in that which noways concerns them, and which they in no respect understand, though their immediate ruin shall follow it: nay, so infatuated do we find him, so taken up with his beloved object, as not to bestow a few minutes on the decency of his person. In the back of the room is one who owes his ruin to an indefatigable search after the philosopher's stone. Strange and unaccountable!—Hence we are taught by these characters, as well as by the pair of human wings on the tester of the bed, that scheming is the sure and certain road to beggary: and that more owe their misfortunes to wild and romantic notions, than to any accident they meet with in life.
In this upset of his life, and aggravation of distress, we are to suppose our prodigal almost driven to desperation. Now, for the first time, he feels the severe effects of pinching cold and griping hunger. At this melancholy season, reflection finds a passage to his heart, and he now revolves in his mind the folly and sinfulness of his past life;—considers within himself how idly he has wasted the substance he is at present in the utmost need of;—looks back with shame on the iniquity of his actions, and forward with horror on the rueful scene of misery that awaits him; until his brain, torn with excruciating thought, loses at once its power of thinking, and falls a sacrifice to merciless despair.
Mr. Ireland remarks, on the plate before us:—"Our improvident spendthrift is now lodged in that dreary receptacle of human misery,—a prison. His countenance exhibits a picture of despair; the forlorn state of his mind is displayed in every limb, and his exhausted finances, by the turnkey's demand of prison fees, not being answered, and the boy refusing to leave a tankard of porter, unless he is paid for it.
"We see by the enraged countenance of his wife, that she is violently reproaching him for having deceived and ruined her. To crown this catalogue of human tortures, the poor girl whom he deserted, is come with her child—perhaps to comfort him,—to alleviate his sorrows, to soothe his sufferings:—but the agonising view is too much for her agitated frame; shocked at the prospect of that misery which she cannot remove, every object swims before her eyes,—a film covers the sight,—the blood forsakes her cheeks—her lips assume a pallid hue,—and she sinks to the floor of the prison in temporary death. What a heart-rending prospect for him by whom this is occasioned!
"The wretched, squalid inmate, who is assisting the fainting female, bears every mark of being naturalised to the place; out of his pocket hangs a scroll, on which is inscribed, 'A scheme to pay the National Debt, by J. L. now a prisoner in the Fleet.' So attentive was this poor gentleman to the debts of the nation, that he totally forgot his own. The cries of the child, and the good-natured attentions of the women, heighten the interest, and realise the scene. Over the group are a large pair of wings, with which some emulator of Dedalus intended to escape from his confinement; but finding them inadequate to the execution of his project, has placed them upon the tester of his bed. They would not exalt him to the regions of air, but they o'ercanopy him on earth. A chemist in the back-ground, happy in his views, watching the moment of projection, is not to be disturbed from his dream by any thing less than the fall of the roof, or the bursting of his retort;—and if his dream affords him felicity, why should he be awakened? The bed and gridiron, those poor remnants of our miserable spendthrift's wretched property, are brought here as necessary in his degraded situation; on one he must try to repose his wearied frame, on the other, he is to dress his scanty meal."
SCENE IN A MADHOUSE.
"Madness! thou chaos of the brain, } What art, that pleasure giv'st and pain? } Tyranny of fancy's reign! Mechanic fancy! that can build Vast labyrinths and mazes wild, With rude, disjointed, shapeless measure, Fill'd with horror, fill'd with pleasure! Shapes of horror, that would even Cast doubt of mercy upon Heaven; Shapes of pleasure, that but seen, Would split the shaking sides of Spleen.
"O vanity of age! here see The stamp of Heaven effaced by thee! The headstrong course of youth thus run, What comfort from this darling son? His rattling chains with terror hear, Behold death grappling with despair! See him by thee to ruin sold, And curse thyself, and curse thy gold!"
See our hero then, in the scene before us, raving in all the dismal horrors of hopeless insanity, in the hospital of Bethlehem, the senate of mankind, where each man may find a representative; there we behold him trampling on the first great law of nature, tearing himself to pieces with his own hands, and chained by the leg to prevent any further mischief he might either do to himself or others. But in this scene, dreary and horrid as are its accompaniments, he is attended by the faithful and kind-hearted female whom he so basely betrayed. In the first plate we see him refuse her his promised hand. In the fourth, she releases him from the harpy fangs of a bailiff; she is present at his marriage; and in the hope of relieving his distress, she follows him to a prison. Our artist, in this scene of horror, has taken an opportunity of pointing out to us the various causes of mental blindness; for such, surely, it may be called, when the intuitive faculties are either destroyed or impaired. In one of the inner rooms of this gallery is a despairing wretch, imploring Heaven for mercy, whose brain is crazed with lip-labouring superstition, the most dreadful enemy of human kind; which, attended with ignorance, error, penance and indulgence, too often deprives its unhappy votaries of their senses. The next in view is one man drawing lines upon a wall, in order, if possible, to find out the longitude; and another, before him, looking through a paper, by way of a telescope. By these expressive figures we are given to understand that such is the misfortune of man, that while, perhaps, the aspiring soul is pursuing some lofty and elevated conception, soaring to an uncommon pitch, and teeming with some grand discovery, the ferment often proves too strong for the feeble brain to support, and lays the whole magazine of notions and images in wild confusion. This melancholy group is completed by the crazy tailor, who is staring at the mad astronomer with a sort of wild astonishment, wondering, through excess of ignorance, what discoveries the heavens can possibly afford; proud of his profession, he has fixed a variety of patterns in his hat, by way of ornament; has covered his poor head with shreds, and makes his measure the constant object of his attention. Behind this man stands another, playing on the violin, with his book upon his head, intimating that too great a love for music has been the cause of his distraction. On the stairs sits another, crazed by love, (evident from the picture of his beloved object round his neck, and the words "charming Betty Careless" upon the bannisters, which he is supposed to scratch upon every wall and every wainscot,) and wrapt up so close in melancholy pensiveness, as not even to observe the dog that is flying at him. Behind him, and in the inner room, are two persons maddened with ambition. These men, though under the influence of the same passion, are actuated by different notions; one is for the papal dignity, the other for regal; one imagines himself the Pope, and saying mass; the other fancies himself a King, is encircled with the emblem of royalty, and is casting contempt on his imaginary subjects by an act of the greatest disdain. To brighten this distressful scene, and draw a smile from him whose rigid reasoning might condemn the bringing into public view this blemish of humanity, are two women introduced, walking in the gallery, as curious spectators of this melancholy sight; one of whom is supposed, in a whisper, to bid the other observe the naked man, which she takes an opportunity of doing by a leer through the sticks of her fan.
Thus, imagining the hero of our piece to expire raving mad, the story is finished, and little else remains but to close it with a proper application. Reflect then, ye parents, on this tragic tale; consider with yourselves, that the ruin of a child is too often owing to the imprudence of a father. Had the young man, whose story we have related, been taught the proper use of money, had his parent given him some insight into life, and graven, as it were, upon his heart, the precepts of religion, with an abhorrence of vice, our youth would, in all probability, have taken a contrary course, lived a credit to his friends, and an honour to his country.
THE DISTRESSED POET.
This Plate describes, in the strongest colours, the distress of an author without friends to patronise him. Seated upon the side of his bed, without a shirt, but wrapped in an old night-gown, he is now spinning a poem upon "Riches:" of their use he probably knoweth little; and of their abuse,—if judgment can be formed from externals,—certes, he knoweth less. Enchanted, impressed, inspired with his subject, he is disturbed by a nymph of the lactarium. Her shrill-sounding voice awakes one of the little loves, whose chorus disturbs his meditations. A link of the golden chain is broken!—a thought is lost!—to recover it, his hand becomes a substitute for the barber's comb:—enraged at the noise, he tortures his head for the fleeting idea; but, ah! no thought is there!
Proudly conscious that the lines already written are sterling, he possesses by anticipation the mines of Peru, a view of which hangs over his head. Upon the table we see "Byshe's Art of Poetry;" for, like the pack-horse, who cannot travel without his bells, he cannot climb the hill of Parnassus without his jingling-book. On the floor lies the "Grub-street Journal," to which valuable repository of genius and taste he is probably a contributor. To show that he is a master of the PROFOUND, and will envelope his subject in a cloud, his pipe and tobacco-box, those friends to cogitation deep, are close to him.
His wife, mending that part of his dress, in the pockets of which the affluent keep their gold, is worthy of a better fate. Her figure is peculiarly interesting. Her face, softened by adversity, and marked with domestic care, is at this moment agitated by the appearance of a boisterous woman, insolently demanding payment of the milk-tally. In the excuse she returns, there is a mixture of concern, complacency, and mortification. As an addition to the distresses of this poor family, a dog is stealing the remnant of mutton incautiously left upon a chair.
The sloping roof, and projecting chimney, prove the throne of this inspired bard to be high above the crowd;—it is a garret. The chimney is ornamented with a dare for larks, and a book; a loaf, the tea-equipage, and a saucepan, decorate the shelf. Before the fire hangs half a shirt, and a pair of ruffled sleeves. His sword lies on the floor; for though our professor of poetry waged no war, except with words, a sword was, in the year 1740, a necessary appendage to every thing which called itself "gentleman." At the feet of his domestic seamstress, the full-dress coat is become the resting-place of a cat and two kittens: in the same situation is one stocking, the other is half immersed in the washing-pan. The broom, bellows, and mop, are scattered round the room. The open door shows us that their cupboard is unfurnished, and tenanted by a hungry and solitary mouse. In the corner hangs a long cloak, well calculated to conceal the threadbare wardrobe of its fair owner.
Mr. Hogarth's strict attention to propriety of scenery, is evinced by the cracked plaistering of the walls, broken window, and uneven floor, in the miserable habitation of this poor weaver of madrigals. When this was first published, the following quotation from Pope's "Dunciad" was inscribed under the print:
"Studious he sate, with all his books around, Sinking from thought to thought, a vast profound: Plunged for his sense, but found no bottom there; Then wrote and flounder'd on, in mere despair."
All his books, amounting to only four, was, I suppose, the artist's reason for erasing the lines.
CHARACTER, CARICATURA, AND OUTRE.
It having been universally acknowledged that Mr. Hogarth was one of the most ingenious painters of his age, and a man possessed of a vast store of humour, which he has sufficiently shown and displayed in his numerous productions; the general approbation his works receive, is not to be wondered at. But, as owing to the false notions of the public, not thoroughly acquainted with the true art of painting, he has been often called a caricaturer; when, in reality, caricatura was no part of his profession, he being a true copier of Nature; to set this matter right, and give the world a just definition of the words, character, caricatura, and outre, in which humorous painting principally consists, and to show their difference of meaning, he, in the year 1758, published this print; but, as it did not quite answer his purpose, giving an illustration of the word character only, he added, in the year 1764, the group of heads above, which he never lived to finish, though he worked upon it the day before his death. The lines between inverted commas are our author's own words, and are engraved at the bottom of the plate.
"There are hardly any two things more essentially different than character and caricatura; nevertheless, they are usually confounded, and mistaken for each other; on which account this explanation is attempted.
"It has ever been allowed, that when a character is strongly marked in the living face, it may be considered as an index of the mind, to express which, with any degree of justness, in painting, requires the utmost efforts of a great master. Now that, which has of late years got the name of caricatura, is, or ought to be, totally divested of every stroke that hath a tendency to good drawing; it may be said to be a species of lines that are produced, rather by the hand of chance, than of skill; for the early scrawlings of a child, which do but barely hint the idea of a human face, will always be found to be like some person or other, and will often form such a comical resemblance, as, in all probability, the most eminent caricaturers of these times will not be able to equal, with design; because their ideas of objects are so much more perfect than children's, that they will, unavoidably, introduce some kind of drawing; for all the humorous effects of the fashionable manner of caricaturing, chiefly depend on the surprise we are under, at finding ourselves caught with any sort of similitude in objects absolutely remote in their kind. Let it be observed, the more remote in their nature, the greater is the excellence of these pieces. As a proof of this, I remember a famous caricatura of a certain Italian singer, that struck at first sight, which consisted only of a straight perpendicular stroke, with a dot over. As to the French word outre, it is different from the rest, and signifies nothing more than the exaggerated outlines of a figure, all the parts of which may be, in other respects, a perfect and true picture of nature. A giant or a dwarf may be called a common man, outre. So any part, as a nose, or a leg, made bigger, or less than it ought to be, is that part outre, which is all that is to be understood by this word, injudiciously used to the prejudice of character."—ANALYSIS OF BEAUTY, chap. vi.
To prevent these distinctions being looked upon as dry and unentertaining, our author has, in this group of faces, ridiculed the want of capacity among some of our judges, or dispensers of the law, whose shallow discernment, natural disposition, or wilful inattention, is here perfectly described in their faces. One is amusing himself in the course of trial, with other business; another, in all the pride of self-importance, is examining a former deposition, wholly inattentive to that before him; the next is busied in thoughts quite foreign to the subject; and the senses of the last are locked fast in sleep.
The four sages on the Bench, are intended for Lord Chief Justice Sir John Willes, the principal figure; on his right hand, Sir Edward Clive; and on his left, Mr. Justice Bathurst, and the Hon. William Noel.
THE LAUGHING AUDIENCE.
"Let him laugh now, who never laugh'd before; And he who always laugh'd, laugh now the more."
"From the first print that Hogarth engraved, to the last that he published, I do not think," says Mr. Ireland, "there is one, in which character is more displayed than in this very spirited little etching. It is much superior to the more delicate engravings from his designs by other artists, and I prefer it to those that were still higher finished by his own burin.
"The prim coxcomb with an enormous bag, whose favours, like those of Hercules between Virtue and Vice, are contended for by two rival orange girls, gives an admirable idea of the dress of the day; when, if we may judge from this print, our grave forefathers, defying Nature, and despising convenience, had a much higher rank in the temple of Folly than was then attained by their ladies. It must be acknowledged that, since that period, the softer sex have asserted their natural rights; and, snatching the wreath of fashion from the brow of presuming man, have tortured it into such forms that, were it possible, which certes it is not, to disguise a beauteous face——But to the high behest of Fashion all must bow.
"Governed by this idol, our beau has a cuff that, for a modern fop, would furnish fronts for a waistcoat, and a family fire-screen might be made of his enormous bag. His bare and shrivelled neck has a close resemblance to that of a half-starved greyhound; and his face, figure, and air, form a fine contrast to the easy and degagee assurance of the Grisette whom he addresses.
"The opposite figure, nearly as grotesque, though not quite so formal as its companion, presses its left hand upon its breast, in the style of protestation; and, eagerly contemplating the superabundant charms of a beauty of Rubens's school, presents her with a pinch of comfort. Every muscle, every line of his countenance, is acted upon by affectation and grimace, and his queue bears some resemblance to an ear-trumpet.
"The total inattention of these three polite persons to the business of the stage, which at this moment almost convulses the children of Nature who are seated in the pit, is highly descriptive of that refined apathy which characterises our people of fashion, and raises them above those mean passions that agitate the groundlings.
"One gentleman, indeed, is as affectedly unaffected as a man of the first world. By his saturnine cast of face, and contracted brow, he is evidently a profound critic, and much too wise to laugh. He must indisputably be a very great critic; for, like Voltaire's Poccocurante, nothing can please him; and, while those around open every avenue of their minds to mirth, and are willing to be delighted, though they do not well know why, he analyses the drama by the laws of Aristotle, and finding those laws are violated, determines that the author ought to be hissed, instead of being applauded. This it is to be so excellent a judge; this it is which gives a critic that exalted gratification which can never be attained by the illiterate,—the supreme power of pointing out faults, where others discern nothing but beauties, and preserving a rigid inflexibility of muscle, while the sides of the vulgar herd are shaking with laughter. These merry mortals, thinking with Plato that it is no proof of a good stomach to nauseate every aliment presented them, do not inquire too nicely into causes, but, giving full scope to their risibility, display a set of features more highly ludicrous than I ever saw in any other print. It is to be regretted that the artist has not given us some clue by which we might have known what was the play which so much delighted his audience: I should conjecture that it was either one of Shakespear's comedies, or a modern tragedy. Sentimental comedy was not the fashion of that day.
"The three sedate musicians in the orchestra, totally engrossed by minims and crotchets, are an admirable contrast to the company in the pit."
GATE OF CALAIS.
O, THE ROAST BEEF OF OLD ENGLAND!
"'Twas at the gate of Calais, Hogarth tells, Where sad despair and famine always dwells; A meagre Frenchman, Madame Grandsire's cook, As home he steer'd, his carcase that way took, Bending beneath the weight of famed sirloin, On whom he often wish'd in vain to dine; Good Father Dominick by chance came by, With rosy gills, round paunch, and greedy eye; And, when he first beheld the greasy load, His benediction on it he bestow'd; And while the solid fat his fingers press'd, He lick'd his chops, and thus the knight address'd:
'O rare roast beef, lov'd by all mankind, Was I but doom'd to have thee, Well dress'd, and garnish'd to my mind, And swimming in thy gravy; Not all thy country's force combined, Should from my fury save thee!
'Renown'd sirloin! oft times decreed The theme of English ballad, E'en kings on thee have deign'd to feed, Unknown to Frenchman's palate; Then how much must thy taste exceed Soup-meagre, frogs, and salad!'"
The thought on which this whimsical and highly-characteristic print is founded, originated in Calais, to which place Mr. Hogarth, accompanied by some of his friends, made an excursion, in the year 1747.
Extreme partiality for his native country was the leading trait of his character; he seems to have begun his three hours' voyage with a firm determination to be displeased at every thing he saw out of Old England. For a meagre, powdered figure, hung with tatters, a-la-mode de Paris, to affect the airs of a coxcomb, and the importance of a sovereign, is ridiculous enough; but if it makes a man happy, why should he be laughed at? It must blunt the edge of ridicule, to see natural hilarity defy depression; and a whole nation laugh, sing, and dance, under burthens that would nearly break the firm-knit sinews of a Briton. Such was the picture of France at that period, but it was a picture which our English satirist could not contemplate with common patience. The swarms of grotesque figures who paraded the streets excited his indignation, and drew forth a torrent of coarse abusive ridicule, not much to the honour of his liberality. He compared them to Callot's beggars—Lazarus on the painted cloth—the prodigal son—or any other object descriptive of extreme contempt. Against giving way to these effusions of national spleen in the open street, he was frequently cautioned, but advice had no effect; he treated admonition with scorn, and considered his monitor unworthy the name of Englishman. These satirical ebullitions were at length checked. Ignorant of the customs of France, and considering the gate of Calais merely as a piece of ancient architecture, he began to make a sketch. This was soon observed; he was seized as a spy, who intended to draw a plan of the fortification, and escorted by a file of musqueteers to M. la Commandant. His sketch-book was examined, leaf by leaf, and found to contain drawings that had not the most distant relation to tactics. Notwithstanding this favourable circumstance, the governor, with great politeness, assured him, that had not a treaty between the nations been actually signed, he should have been under the disagreeable necessity of hanging him upon the ramparts: as it was, he must be permitted the privilege of providing him a few military attendants, who should do themselves the honour of waiting upon him, while he resided in the dominions of "the grande monarque." Two sentinels were then ordered to escort him to his hotel, from whence they conducted him to the vessel; nor did they quit their prisoner, until he was a league from shore; when, seizing him by the shoulders, and spinning him round upon the deck, they said he was now at liberty to pursue his voyage without further molestation.
So mortifying an adventure he did not like to hear recited, but has in this print recorded the circumstance which led to it. In one corner he has given a portrait of himself, making the drawing; and to shew the moment of arrest, the hand of a serjeant is upon his shoulder.
The French sentinel is so situated, as to give some idea of a figure hanging in chains: his ragged shirt is trimmed with a pair of paper ruffles. The old woman, and a fish which she is pointing at, have a striking resemblance. The abundance of parsnips, and other vegetables, indicate what are the leading articles in a Lenten feast.
Mr. Pine, the painter, sat for the friar, and from thence acquired the title of Father Pine. This distinction did not flatter him, and he frequently requested that the countenance might be altered, but the artist peremptorily refused.
"A politician should (as I have read) Be furnish'd in the first place with a head."
One of our old writers gives it as his opinion, that "there are onlie two subjects which are worthie the studie of a wise man," i.e. religion and politics. For the first, it does not come under inquiry in this print,—but certain it is, that too sedulously studying the second, has frequently involved its votaries in many most tedious and unprofitable disputes, and been the source of much evil to many well-meaning and honest men. Under this class comes the Quidnunc here pourtrayed; it is said to be intended for a Mr. Tibson, laceman, in the Strand, who paid more attention to the affairs of Europe, than to those of his own shop. He is represented in a style somewhat similar to that in which Schalcken painted William the third,—holding a candle in his right hand, and eagerly inspecting the Gazetteer of the day. Deeply interested in the intelligence it contains, concerning the flames that rage on the Continent, he is totally insensible of domestic danger, and regardless of a flame, which, ascending to his hat,—
"Threatens destruction to his three-tail'd wig."
From the tie-wig, stockings, high-quartered shoes, and sword, I should suppose it was painted about the year 1730, when street robberies were so frequent in the metropolis, that it was customary for men in trade to wear swords, not to preserve their religion and liberty from foreign invasion, but to defend their own pockets from "domestic collectors."
The original sketch Hogarth presented to his friend Forrest; it was etched by Sherwin, and published in 1775.
TASTE IN HIGH LIFE,
IN THE YEAR 1742.
The picture from which this print was copied, Hogarth painted by the order of Miss Edwards, a woman of large fortune, who having been laughed at for some singularities in her manners, requested the artist to recriminate on her opponents, and paid him sixty guineas for his production.
It is professedly intended to ridicule the reigning fashions of high life, in the year 1742: to do this, the painter has brought into one group, an old beau and an old lady of the Chesterfield school, a fashionable young lady, a little black boy, and a full-dressed monkey. The old lady, with a most affected air, poises, between her finger and thumb, a small tea-cup, with the beauties of which she appears to be highly enamoured.
The gentleman, gazing with vacant wonder at that and the companion saucer which he holds in his hand, joins in admiration of its astonishing beauties!