every thing else in the print contributes to bewilder and stupefy,

the very houses, as I heard a friend of mine express it, tumbling all about in various directions, seem drunk-seem absolutely reeling from the effect of that diabolical spirit of phrenzy which goes forth over the whole composition.---To shew the poetical and almost prophetical conception in the artist, one little circumstance may serve. Not content with the dying and dead figures, which he has strewed in profusion over the proper scene of the action, he shews you what (of a kindred nature) is passing beyond it. Close by the shell, in which, by direction of the parish beadle, a man is depositing his wife, is an old wall, which, partaking of the universal decay around it, is tumbling to pieces. Through a gap in this wall are seen three figures, which appear to make a part in some funeral procession which is passing by on the other side of the wall, out of the sphere of the composition. This extending of the interest beyond the bounds of the subject could only have been conceived by a great genius. Shakspeare, in his description of the Painting of the Trojan War, in his Tarquin and Lucrece, has introduced a similar device, where the painter made a part stand for the whole :

For much imaginary work was there,
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
That for Achilles' image stood his spear,
Grip'd in an armed hand; himself behind
Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind:
A hand, a fout, a face, a leg, a head,
Stood for the whole to be imagined.

This he well calls imaginary work, where the spectator must meet the artist in his conceptions half.way; and it is peculiar to the confidence of high genius alone to trust so much to spectators or readers. Lesser artists shew every thing distinct and full, as they require an object to be made out to themselves before they can comprehend it.

When I think of the power displayed in this (I will not hesitate to say) sublime print, it seems to me the extreme narrowness of system alone, and of that rage for classification, by which, in mat. ters of taste at least, we are perpetually perplexing instead of arranging our ideas, that would make us concede to the work of Poussin abovementioned, and deny to this of Hogarth, the name of a grand serious composition.

We are for ever deceiving ourselves with names and theories. We call one man a great historical painter, because he has taken for his subjects kings or great men, or transactions over which time has thrown a grandeur. We term another the painter of common life, and set him down in our minds, for an artist of an inferior class, without reflecting whether the quantity of thought



shewn by the latter may not much more than level the distinction which their mere choice of subjects may seem to place between them; or whether, in fact, from that very common life a great artist may not extract as deep an interest as another man from that which we are pleased to call history.

I entertain the highest respect for the talents and virtues of Reynolds, but I do not like that his reputation should overshadow and stifle the merits of such a man as Hogarth, nor that to mere names and classifications we should be content to sacrifice one of the greatest ornaments of England.

I would ask the most enthusiastic admirer of Reynolds, whe ther in the countenances of his Staring and Grinning Despair, which he has given us for the faces of Ugolino and dying Beaufort, there be any thing comparable to the expression which Hogarth has put into the face of his broken-down Rake in the last plate but one of the Rake's Progress*, where a letter from the manager is brought to him to say that his play "will not do?” Here all is easy, natural, undistorted, but withal what a mass of woe is here accumulated!—the long history of a mis-spent life is compressed into the countenance as plainly as the series of plates before had told it; here is no attempt at Gorgonian looks which are to freeze the beholder, no grinning at the antique bed-posts, no face-making, or consciousness of the presence of spectators in or out of the picture, but grief kept to a man's self, a face retiring from notice with the shame which great anguish sometimes brings with it,a final leave taken of hope,-the coming on of vacancy and stupefaction,-a beginning alienation of mind looking like tranquillity. Here is matter for the mind of the beholder to feed on for the hour together, matter to feed and fertilize the mind. It is too real to admit one thought about the power of the artist who did it.-When we compare the expression in subjects which so fairly admit of comparison, and find the superiority so. clearly to remain with Hogarth, shall the mere contemptible difference of the scene of it being laid in the one case in our Fleet or King's Bench Prison, and in the other in the State Prison of Pisa, or the bedroom of a Cardinal,-or that the subject of the one has never been authenticated, and the other is matter of history,—so weigh down the real points of the comparison, as to induce us to rank the artist who has chosen the one scene or subject (though confessedly inferior in that which constitutes the soul of his art)


The first face perhaps in all Hogarth for serious expression. That which comes next to it, I think, is the jaded morning countenance of the Debauchée in the Second Plate of the Marriage Alamode, which lectures on the vanity of pleasure as audibly as any thing in Ecclesiastes.


in a class from which we exclude the better genius (who has hap pened to make choice of the other) with something like disgrace * ?

The Boys under Demoniacal Possession of Raphael and Do minichino, by what law of classification are we bound to assign them to belong to the great style in painting, and to degrade into an inferior class the Rake of Hogarth when he is the Madman in the Bedlam scene? I am sure he is far more impressive than either. It is a face which no one that has seen can easily forget. There is the stretch of human suffering to the utmost endurance, severe bodily pain brought on by strong mental agony, the frightful obstinate laugh of madness,-yet all so unforced and natural, that those who never were witness to madness in real life, think they see nothing but what is familiar to them in this face. Here are no tricks of distortion, nothing but the natural face of agony. This is high tragic painting, and we might as well deny to Shakspeare the honours of a great tragedian, because he has interwoven scenes of mirth with the serious business of his plays, as refuse to Hogarth the same praise for the two concluding scenes of the Rake's Progress, because of the Comic Lunatics + which he has thrown into the one, or the Alchymist that he has introduced in the other, who is paddling in the coals of his furnace, keeping alive the flames of vain hope within the very walls of the prison to which the vanity has conducted him, which have taught the darker

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Sir Joshua Reynolds, somewhere in his lectures, speaks of the presumption of Hogarth in attempting the grand style in painting, by which he means his choice of certain Scripture subjects. Hogarth's excursions into Holy Land were not very numerous, but what he has left us in this kind have at least this merit, that they have expression of some sort or other in them,— the Child Moses before Pharaoh's Daughter, for instance: which is more than can be said of Sir Joshua Reynolds's Repose in Egypt, painted for Macklin's Bible, where for a Madona he has substituted a Sleepy, insensible, unmotherly girl, one so little worthy to have been selected as the Mother of the Saviour, that she seems to have neither heart nor feeling to entitle her to become a mother at all. But indeed the race of Virgin Mary Painters seems to have been cut up, root and branch, at the Reformation. Our artists are too good Protestants to give life to that admirable commixture of maternal tenderness with reverential awe and wonder approaching to worship, with which the Virgin Mothers of L. da Vinci and Raphael (themselves by their divine countenances inviting men to worship) contemplate the union of the two natures in the person of their Heaven-born Infant,

+ There are of madmen, as there are of tame,
All humour'd not alike. We have here some

So apish and fantastic, play with a feather;

And though 'twould grieve a soul to see God's image

So blemish'd and defac'd, yet do they act

Such antick and such pretty lunacies,

That, spite of sorrow, they will make you smile.

Others again we have, like angry lions,

Fierce as wild bulls, untameable as flies.-Honest Whore,

darker lesson of extinguished hope to the desponding figure who is the principal person of the scene.

It is the force of these kindly admixtures, which assimilates the scenes of Hogarth and of Shakspeare to the drama of real life, where no such thing as pure tragedy is to be found; but merri.. ment and infelicity, ponderous crime and feather-light vanity, like twi-formed births, disagreeing complexions of one intexture, perpetually unite to shew forth motley spectacles to the world. Then it is that the poet or painter shews his art, when in the se lection of these comic adjuncts he chooses such circumstances as shall relieve, contrast with, or fall into, without forming a vio lent opposition to, his principal object. Who sees not that the Gravedigger in Hamlet, the Fool in Lear, have a kind of corre spondency to, and fall in with, the subjects which they seem to interrupt, while the comic stuff in Venice Preserved, and the doggrel nonsense of the Cook and his poisoning associates in the Rollo of Beaumont and Fletcher, are pure, irrelevant, imperti nent discords, as bad as the quarrelling dog and cat under the table of the Lord and the Disciples at Emmaus of Titian?

Not to tire the reader with perpetual reference to prints which he may not be fortunate enough to possess, it may be sufficient to remark, that the same tragic cast of expression and incident, blended in some instances with a greater alloy of comedy, cha. racterizes his other great work, the Marriage Alamode, as well as those less elaborate exertions of his genius, the prints called Industry and Idleness, the Distrest Poet, &c.; forming, with the Harlot's and Rake's Progresses, the most considerable if not the largest class of his productions,-enough surely to rescue Hogarth from the imputation of being a mere buffoon, or one whose general aim was only to shake the sides.

There remains a very numerous class of his performances, the object of which must be confessed to be principally comic. But in all of them will be found something to distinguish them from the droll productions of Bunbury and others. They have this dif ference, that we do not merely laugh at, we are led into long trains of reflection by them. In this respect they resemble the charac ters of Chaucer's Pilgrims, which have strokes of humour in them enough to designate them for the most part as comic, but our strongest feeling still is wonder at the comprehensiveness of genius which could crowd, as poet and painter have done, into one small canvas so many diverse yet co-operating materials.

The faces of Hogarth have not a mere momentary interest, as in caricatures,. or those grotesque phisiognomies which we some times catch a glance of in the street, and, struck with their whim. sicality, wish for a pencil and the power to sketch them down; and forget them again as rapidly, but they are permanent abid.

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ing ideas. Not the sports of Nature, but her necessary eternal classes. We feel that we cannot part with any of them, lest a link should be broken.

It is worthy of observation, that he has seldom drawn a mean or insignificant countenance *. Hogarth's mind was eminently re flective; and, as it has been well observed of Shakspeare, that he has transfused his own poetical character into the persons of his drama (they are all more or less poets) Hogarth has impressed a thinking character upon the persons of his canvas. This remark must not be taken universally. The exquisite idiotism of the little gentleman in the bag and sword beating his drum in the print of the Enraged Musician, would of itself rise up against so sweeping an assertion. But I think it will be found to be true of the generality of his countenances. The knife-grinder and Jew flute. player in the plate just mentioned may serve as instances instead of a thousand. They have intense thinking faces, though the purpose to which they are subservient by no means required it ; but indeed it seems as if it was painful to Hogarth to contemplate mere vacancy or insignificance.

This reflection of the artist's own intellect from the faces of his characters, is one reason why the works of Hogarth so much more than those of any other artist are objects of meditation. Our intellectual natures love the mirror which gives them back their own likenesses. The mental eye will not bend long with de. light upon vacancy.

Another line of eternal separation between Hogarth and the common painters of droll or burlesque subjects, with whom he is often confounded, is the sense of beauty, which in the most unpromising subjects seems never wholly to have deserted him. "Hogarth himself," says Mr. Coleridge +, from whom I have borrowed this observation, speaking of a scene which took place at Ratzeburg, "never drew a more ludicrous distortion, both of attitude and physiognomy, than this effect occasioned: nor was there wanting beside it one of those beautiful female faces which the same Hogarth, in whom the satirist never extinguished that love of beauty which belonged to him as a poet, so often and so gladly in troduces as the central figure in a crowd of humorous deformities, which figure (such is the power of true genius) neither acts nor is meant to act as a contrast; but diffuses through all, and over each

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* If there are any of that description, they are in his Strolling Players, a print which has been cried up by Lord Orford as the richest of his productions, and it may be, for what I know, in the mere lumber, the properties, and dead furniture of the scene, but in living character and expression it is (for Hogarth) lamentably poor and wanting; it is perhaps the only one of kis performances at which we have a right to feel disgusted.

The Friend, No. XVI.

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