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This reflection of the artist's own intellect plate of the Harlot's Funeral, (the only thing from the faces of his characters, is one reason in that assembly that is not a hypocrite) why the works of Hogarth, so much more quiets and soothes the mind that has been than those of any other artist, are objects of disturbed at the sight of so much depraved meditation. Our intellectual natures love man and woman kind. the mirror which gives them back their own I had written thus far, when I met with a likenesses. The mental eye will not bend passage in the writings of the late Mr. Barry, long with delight upon vacancy.
which, as it falls in with the vulgar notion Another line of eternal separation between respecting Hogarth, which this Essay has Hogarth and the common painters of droll been employed in combating, I shall take the or burlesque subjects, with whom he is often liberty to transcribe, with such remarks as confounded, is the sense of beauty, which in may suggest themselves to me in the tranthe most unpromising subjects seems never scription ; referring the reader for a full wholly to have deserted him. “ Hogarth answer to that which has gone before. himself,” says Mr. Coleridge,* from whom I
“ Notwithstanding Hogarth's merit does undoubtedly have borrowed this observation, speaking of
entitle him to an honourable place among the artists, scene which took place at Ratzeburg, and that his little compositions, considered as so many never drew a more ludicrous distortion, dramatic representations, abounding with humour, cha
racter, and extensive observations on the various inci. both of attitude and physiognomy, than this dents of low, faulty, and vicious life, are very ineffect occasioned: nor was there wanting geniously brought together, and frequently tell their beside it one of those beautiful female faces of the elevated and more noble inventions of Raphael which the same Hogarth, in whom the satirist and other great men; yet it must be honestly confessed, never extinguished that love of beauty which that in what is called knowledge of the figure, foreigners
have justly observed, that Hogarth is often so raw and belonged to him as a poet, so often and so unformed, as hardly to deserve the name of an artist. gladly introduces as the central figure in a
But this capital defect is not often perceivable, as crowd of humorous deformities, which figure examples of the naked and
of elevated nature but rarely
occur in his subjects, which are for the most part filled (such is the power of true genius) neither with characters that in their nature tend to deformity; acts nor is meant to act as a contrast ; but besides his tigures are small, and the jonctures, and other
difficulties of drawing that might occur in their limbs, diffuses through all and over each of the are artfully concealed with their clothes, rags, &c. group a spirit of reconciliation and human what would atone for all his defects, even if they were kindness;
twice told, is his admirable fund of invention, ever inex. and even when the attention is
haustible in its resources; and his satyr, which is no longer consciously directed to the cause of always sharp and pertinent, and often highly moral, was this feeling, still blends its tenderness with (except in a few instances, where he weakly and meanly
suffered his integrity to give way to his envy) seldom or our laughter: and thus prevents the instructive never employed in a dishonest or unmanly way. Hogarth merriment at the whims of nature, or the has been often imitated in his satirical vein, sometimes foibles or humours of our fellow-men, from him in his moral walk.
in his humorous : but very few have attempted to rival
The line of art pursued by my degenerating into the heart-poison of contempt very ingenious predecessor and brother Academician, or hatred.” To the beautiful females in Mr. Penny, is quite distinct from that of Hogarth, and
is of a much more delicate and superior relish ; he Hogarth, which Mr. C. has pointed out, attempts the heart, and reaches it, whilst Hogarth's might be added, the frequent introduction general aim is only to shake the sides; in other respects
no comparison can be thought of, as Mr. Penny has all of children (which Hogarth seems to have that knowledge of the figure and academical skill which taken a particular delight in) into his pieces. the other wanted. As to Mr. Bunbury, who had so They have a singular effect in giving tran- happily succeeded in the vein of humour and caricatura,
he has for some time past altogether relinquished it, for quillity and a portion of their own innocence the more amiable pursuit of beautiful nature : this, to the subject. The baby riding in its indeed, is not to be wondered at, when we recollect that
he has, in Mrs. Bunbury, so admirable an exemplar of mother's lap in the March to Finchley, (its the most finished grace and beauty continually at his careless innocent face placed directly behind elbow. But (to say all that occurs to me on this subject) the intriguing time-furrowed countenance of perhaps it may be reasonably doubted, whether the being
much conversant with Hogarth's method of exposing the treason-plotting French priest,) perfectly meanness, deformity, and vice, in many of his works, is sobers the whole of that tumultuous scene. not rather a dangerous, or, at least, a worthless pursuit; The boy mourner winding up his top with which
, if it does not find a false relish and a love of aná
search after satyr and buffoonery in the spectator, is at so much unpretending insensibility in the least not unlikely to give him one. Life is short ; and
the little leisure of it is much better laid out upon that
species of art which is employed about the amiable and • The Friend, No. XVI.
the admirable, as it is more likely to be attended with
better and nobler consequences to ourselves. These two know who this Mr. Penny was. pursuits in art may be compared with two sets of people with whom we might associate ; if we give ourselves up surpasser of Hogarth in the “delicacy of his to the Footes, the Kenricks, &c. we shall be continually relish,” and the “line which he pursued," busied and paddling in whatever is ridiculous, faulty, where is he, what are his works, what has and vicious in life; whereas there are those to be found with whom we should be in the constant pursuit and he to show? In vain I tried to recollect, study of all that gives a value and
a dignity to human till by happily putting the question to a nature.” [Account of a Series of Pictures in the Great friend who is more conversant in the works Room of the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, at the Adelphi, by James Barry, R.A., Professor of the illustrious obscure than myself, I of Painting to the Royal Academy; reprinted in the last learnt that he was the painter of a Death of quarto edition of his works.]
Wolfe which missed the prize the year that It must be honestly confessed, that in the celebrated picture of West on the same what is called knowledge of the figure, foreigners have subject obtained it; that he also made a justly observed,” &c.
picture of the Marquis of Granby relieving It is a secret well known to the professors a Sick Soldier ; moreover, that he was the of the art and mystery of criticism, to insist inventor of two pictures of Suspended and upon what they do not find in a man's works, Restored Animation, which I now remember and to pass over in silence what they do. to have seen in the Exhibition some years That Hogarth did not draw the naked figure since, and the prints from which are still so well as Michael Angelo might be allowed, extant in good men's houses. This then, I especially as “examples of the naked," as suppose, is the line of subjects in which Mr. Barry acknowledges, “rarely (he might Mr. Penny was so much superior to Hogarth. almost have said never) occur in his sub- I confess I am not of that opinion. The jects; " and that his figures under their relieving of poverty by the purse, and the draperies do not discover all the fine graces restoring a young man to his parents by of an Antinoüs or an Apollo, may be con- using the methods prescribed by the Humane ceded likewise ; perhaps it was more suitable Society, are doubtless very amiable subjects, to his purpose to represent the average forms pretty things to teach the first rudiments of of mankind in the mediocrity (as Mr. Burke humanity; they amount to about as much expresses it) of the age in which he lived : instruction as the stories of good boys that but that his figures in general, and in his give away their custards to poor beggar-boys best subjects, are so glaringly incorrect as is in children's books. But, good God! is this here insinuated, I dare trust my own eye so milk for babes to be set up in opposition to far as positively to deny the fact. And there Hogarth's moral scenes, his strong meat for is one part of the figure in which Hogarth men ? As well might we prefer the fulsome is allowed to have excelled, which these verses upon their own goodness to which foreigners seem to have overlooked, or the gentlemen of the Literary Fund annually perhaps calculating from its proportion to sit still with such shameless patience to the whole (a seventh or an eighth, I forget listen, to the satires of Juvenal and Persius; which,) deemed it of trifling importance ; I because the former are full of tender images mean the human face ; a small part, reckon- of Worth relieved by Charity, and Charity ing by geographical inches, in the map of stretching out her hand to rescue sinking man's body, but here it is that the painter Genius, and the theme of the latter is men's of expression must condense the wonders of crimes and follies with their black conhis skill, even at the expense of neglecting sequences forgetful meanwhile of those the "jonctures and other difficulties of strains of moral pathos, those sublime heartdrawing in the limbs,” which it must be a touches, which these poets in them chiefly cold eye that, in the interest so strongly showing themselves poets) are perpetually demanded by Hogarth's countenances, has darting across the otherwise appalling gloom leisure to survey and censure.
of their subject-consolatory remembrancers, “ The line of art pursued by my very ingenious prede- made us even to despair for our species,
when their pictures of guilty mankind have cessor and brother Academician, Mr. Penny."
that there is such a thing as virtue and The first impression caused in me by moral dignity in the world, that her unreading this passage was an eager desire to quenchable spark is not utterly out
refreshing admonitions, to which we turn her province better than, by disturbing her for shelter from the too great heat and husband at his palette, to divert him from asperity of the general satire.
that universality of subject, which has And is there nothing analogous to this in stamped him perhaps, next to Shakspeare, Hogarth ? nothing which attempts and the most inventive genius which this island reaches the heart ?" -no aim beyond that of has produced, into the “amiable pursuit of “shaking the sides ? ” — If the kneeling beautiful nature,” i.e. copying ad infinitum ministering female in the last scene of the the individual charms and graces of Mrs. H. Rake's Progress, the Bedlam scene, of which I have spoken before, and have dared almost
“ Hogarth's method of exposing meanness, deformity,
and vice, paddling in whatever is ridiculous, faulty, and to parallel it with the most absolute idea of vicious.” Virtue which Shakspeare has left us, be not enough to disprove the assertion; if the sad
A person unacquainted with the works endings of the Harlot and the Rake, the thus stigmatised would be apt to imagine passionate heart-bleeding entreaties for for- that in Hogarth there was nothing else to giveness which the adulterous wife is pouring be found but subjects of the coarsest and forth to her assassinated and dying lord in most repulsive nature. That his imagination the last scene but one of the Marriage was naturally unsweet, and that he delighted Alamode,-if these be not things to touch in raking into every species of moral filth. the heart, and dispose the mind to a medi- That he preyed upon sore places only, and tative tenderness : is there nothing sweetly took a pleasure in exposing the unsound and conciliatory in the mild patient face and rotten parts of human nature : - whereas, gesture with which the wife seems to allay with the exception of some of the plates of and ventilate the feverish irritated feelings the Harlot's Progress, which are harder in of her poor poverty-distracted mate (the their character than any of the rest of his true copy of the genus irritabile) in the print productions, (the Stages of Cruelty I omit as of the Distrest Poet? or if an image of mere worthless caricaturas, foreign to his maternal love be required, where shall we general habits, the offspring of his fancy in find a sublimer view of it than in that aged some wayward humour,) there is scarce one woman in Industry and Idleness (plate V.) of his pieces where vice is most strongly who is clinging with the fondness of hope satirised, in which some figure is not intronot quite extinguished to her brutal vice- duced upon which the moral eye may rest hardened child, whom she is accompanying satisfied; a face that indicates goodness, or to the ship which is to bear him away from perhaps mere good-humouredness and carehis native soil, of which he has been adjudged lessness of mind (negation of evil) only, yet unworthy: in whose shocking face every enough to give a relaxation to the frowning trace of the human countenance seems brow of satire, and keep the general air from obliterated, and a brute beast's to be left tainting. Take the mild, supplicating posture instead, shocking and repulsive to all but of patient Poverty in the poor woman that her who watched over it in its cradle before is persuading the pawnbroker to accept her it was so sadly altered, and feels it must clothes in pledge, in the plate of Gin Lane, belong to her while a pulse by the vindictive for an instance. A little does it, a little of laws of his country shall be suffered to con- the good nature overpowers a world of bad. tinue to beat in it. Compared with such One cordial honest laugh of a Tom Jones things, what is Mr. Penny's “knowledge of absolutely clears the atmosphere that was the figure and academical skill which reeking with the black putrifying breathings Hogarth wanted ?”
of a hypocrite Blifil. One homely expostuWith respect to what follows concerning lating shrug from Strap warms the whole another gentleman, with the congratulations air which the suggestions of a gentlemanly to him on his escape out of the regions of ingratitude from his friend Random had “ humour and caricatura,” in which it begun to freeze. One “Lord bless us !” of appears he was in danger of travelling side Parson Adams upon the wickedness of the by side with Hogarth, I can only congratu- times, exorcises and purges off the mass of late my country, that Mrs. Hogarth knew iniquity which the world-knowledge of even
From common sense of what men were and are :"
a Fielding could cull out and rake together. written,) let a person look till he be saturated, But of the severer class of Hogarth's per- and when he has done wondering at the informances, enough, I trust, has been said to ventiveness of genius which could bring so show that they do not merely shock and many characters (more than thirty distinct repulse ; that there is in them the "scorn of classes of face) into a room and set them vice” and the “pity" too; something to down at table together, or otherwise dispose touch the heart, and keep alive the sense of them about, in so natural a manner, engage moral beauty; the “lacrymæ rerum,” and them in so many easy sets and occupations, the sorrowing by which the heart is made yet all partaking of the spirit of the occasion better. If they be bad things, then is satire which brought them together, so that we and tragedy a bad thing ; let us proclaim at feel that nothing but an election time could once an age of gold, and sink the existence have assembled them ; having no central of vice and misery in our speculations : figure or principal group, (for the hero of let us
the piece, the Candidate, is properly set aside
in the levelling indistinction of the day, one wink, and shut our apprehensions up
must look for him to find him,) nothing to
detain the eye from passing from part to let us make believe with the children, that part, where every part is alike instinct with every body is good and happy ; and, with life, — for here are no furniture-faces, Dr. Swift, write panegyrics upon the world. figures brought in to fill up the scene like
But that larger half of Hogarth's works, stage choruses, but all dramatis persona: which were painted more for entertainment when he shall have done wondering at all than instruction (though such was the sug- these faces so strongly charactered, yet gestiveness of his mind that there is always finished with the accuracy of the finest something to be learnt from them), his miniature ; when he shall have done adhumorous scenes,-are they such as merely miring the numberless appendages of the to disgust and set us against our species ? scene, those gratuitous doles which rich
The confident assertions of such a man as genius flings into the heap when it has ! I consider the late Mr. Barry to have been, already done enough, the over-measure have that weight of authority in them which which it delights in giving, as if it felt its staggers at first hearing, even a long pre- stores were exhaustless ; the dumb rhetorie conceived opinion. When I read his pathetic of the scenery–for tables, and chairs, and admonition concerning the shortness of life, joint-stools in Hogarth are living and signiand how much better the little leisure of it ficant things; the witticisms that are exwere laid out upon “ that species of art which pressed by words, (all artists but Hogarth is employed about the amiable and the ad- have failed when they have endeavoured to mirable ;” and Hogarth’s “method,” pro- combine two mediums of expression, and scribed as a “dangerous or worthless pur- have introduced words into their pictures) suit,” I began to think there was something and the unwritten numberless little allusive in it; that I might have been indulging all pleasantries that are scattered about; the my life a passion for the works of this artist, work that is going on in the scene, and to the utter prejudice of my taste and moral beyond it, as is made visible to the eye of sense ; but my first convictions gradually mind,” by the mob which chokes up the returned, a world of good-natured English doorway, and the sword that has forced an faces came up one by one to my recollec- entrance before its master; when he shall | tion, and a glance at the matchless Election have sufficiently admired this wealth of Entertainment, which I have the happi- genius, let him fairly say what is the result ness to have hanging up in my parlour, left on his mind. Is it an impression of the subverted Mr. Barry's whole theory in an vileness and worthlessness of his species ? or instant.
is it not the general feeling which remains, In that inimitable print, (which in my after the individual faces have ceased to act judgment as far exceeds the more known sensibly on his mind, a kindly one in favour and celebrated March to Finchley, as the best of his species ? was not the general air of comedy exceeds the best farce that ever was the scene wholesome ? did it do the heart
hurt to be among it? Something of a by a perception of the amiable? That riotous spirit to be sure is there, some tumultuous harmony of singers that are worldly-mindedness in some of the faces, a roaring out the words, “The world shall Doddingtonian smoothness which does not bow to the Assyrian throne,” from the opera promise any superfluous degree of sincerity of Judith, in the third plate of the series in the fine gentleman who has been the called the Four Groups of Heads; which the occasion of calling so much good company quick eye of Hogarth must have struck off together; but is not the general cast of in the very infancy of the rage for sacred expression in the faces of the good sort ? do oratorios in this country, while “Music yet they not seem cut out of the good old rock, was young ;" when we have done smiling at substantial English honesty ? would one fear the deafening distortions, which these treachery among characters of their expres- tearers of devotion to rags and tatters, these sion ? or shall we call their honest mirth and takers of heaven by storm, in their boisterous seldom-returning relaxation by the hard mimicry of the occupation of angels, are names of vice and profligacy? That poor making,—what unkindly impression is left country fellow, that is grasping his staff behind, or what more of harsh or con(which, from that difficulty of feeling them- temptuous feeling, than when we quietly selves at home which poor men experience leave Uncle Toby and Mr. Shandy riding at a feast, he has never parted with since he their hobby-horses about the room ? The came into the room), and is enjoying with a conceited, long-backed Sign-painter, that relish that seems to fit all the capacities of with all the self-applause of a Raphael or his soul the slender joke, which that facetious Correggio (the twist of body which his wag his neighbour is practising upon the conceit has thrown him into has something gouty gentleman, whose eyes the effort to of the Correggiesque in it), is contemplating suppress pain has made as round as rings— the picture of a bottle, which he is drawing does it shock the “dignity of human nature" from an actual bottle that hangs beside him, to look at that man, and to sympathise with in the print of Beer Street,—while we smile him in the seldom-heard joke which has at the enormity of the self-delusion, can we unbent his care-worn, hard-working visage, help loving the good-humour and self-comand drawn iron smiles from it ? or with that placency of the fellow ? would we willingly full-hearted cobbler, who is honouring with wake him from his dream ? the grasp of an honest fist the unused palm I say not that all the ridiculous subjects of that annoyed patrician, whom the licence of Hogarth have, necessarily, something in of the time has seated next him ?
them to make us like them; some are I can see nothing “ dangerous” in the indifferent to us, some in their natures contemplation of such scenes as this, or the repulsive, and only made interesting by the Enraged Musician, or the Southwark Fair, or wonderful skill and truth to nature in the twenty other pleasant prints which come painter ; but I contend that there is in most crowding in upon my recollection, in which of them that sprinkling of the better nature, the restless activities, the diversified bents which, like holy water, chases away and and humours, the blameless peculiarities of disperses the contagion of the bad. They men, as they deserve to be called, rather have this in them, besides, that they bring than their “vices and follies,” are held up in us acquainted with the every-day human a laughable point of view. All laughter is face,—they give us skill to detect those not of a dangerous or soul-hardening ten- gradations of sense and virtue (which escape dency. There is the petrifying sneer of a the careless or fastidious observer) in the demon which excludes and kills Love, and countenances of the world about us; and there is the cordial laughter of a man which prevent that disgust at common life, that implies and cherishes it. What heart was tædium quotidianarum formarum, which an ever made the worse by joining in a hearty unrestricted passion for ideal forms and laugh at the simplicities of Sir Hugh Evans beauties is in danger of producing. In this, or Parson Adams, where a sense of the as in many other things, they are analogous ridiculous mutually kindles and is kindled to the best novels of Smollett or Fielding.