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painters and mere imitators of Vandyke can have little right to be classed among masters.
A certain kind of paint ins obtained great reputation in this island during the reigns of the Stuarts, which may be called the architectural. It professed to he the handmaid of architecture; when the mason, and carpenter, and plasterer, had done their work, its professors made their appearance, and covered walls and ceilings with mobs of the old divinities— nymphs who represented cities—crowned beldames for nations—and figures, ready ticketed and labelled, answering to the names of virtues. The national love of subjecting all works to a measure and valueprice, which had been disused while art followed nature' and dealt in sentiment, was again revived, that these cold mechanical productions might be paid for in the spirit which conceived them.
The chief apostles of this dark faith were two foreigners and one Knglishman—Verrio, La Guerre, and Sir James Thornhill. Rubens, indeed, and others had deviated from nature into this desert track, only to return again to human feelings with a heartier relish. But Thornhill and his companions never deviated into nature. The shepherdesses of Sir Peter Lely were loose in their attire, loose in their looks, and trailed their embroidered robes among the thorns and brambles of their pastoral scenes, in a way which made the staid dames of the Puritans blush and look aside. But the mystic nymphs of Thornhill or La Guerre, though evidently spreading out all their beauties and making the most of their charms, could never move the nerves of a stoic. It is in vain that a goddess tumbles naked through a whole quarter of the sky. It is astonishing how much and how long these works were admired, and with what ardour men of education and talent praised them.
Thornhill enjoys all the advantage of the praise of Pilkington, and the approbation of lord Orford. "His genius," says the former, " was well adapted to historical and allegorical compositions. He possessed a fertile and fine invention, and sketched his thoughts with great ease, freedom, and spirit. He was so eminent in many parts of his profession that he must for ever be ranked among the first painters of his time." . ..." Sir James Thornhill," says Walpole, "a man of much note in his time, who succeeded Verrio, and was the rival of La Guerre in the decorations of our palaces and public buildings, was born at Weymouth, in Dorsetshire; was knighted by George the First, and was elected to represent his native town in parliament. His chief works were the dome of St. Paul's; an apartment at Hampton Court; the altar-piece of the chapel of All Souls, at Oxford; another for Weymouth, of which he made them a present; the hall at Blenheim; the chapel at lord Orford's at Wimpole, in Cambridgeshire; the saloon and other things for Mr. Styles, at More Park, Hertfordshire; and the great hall of Greenwich Hospital. Yet high as his reputation was, and laborious as his works were, he was far from being generously rewarded for some of them, and for others he found it difficult to obtain the stipulated prices. His demands were contested at Greenwich, and though La Fosse received 2,000/. for his works at Montague House, and was allowed 500/. for his diet besides, Sir James could obtain but forty shillings a square yard for the cupola of St. Paul's, and I think no more for Greenwich."
I now approach the period when native painters of genius and fame make their appearance—men whose works merit minute examination, and whose lives contain matters of lasting interest. It is plain that up to this time no British artist had arisen capable of leading the way in painting—no one who possessed at once talent for original composition, and skill to render his conceptions permanent. The heart of the country had as yet been but little moved by this art;—and all the splendid colourings the academic forms, the fixed and approved attitudes and long-established graces, went for nothing, when a man appeared who sought lasting fame—and found it—in moral sentiment, nervous satire, sarcastic humour, and actual English life.
William Hogarth was born in the parish of St. Bartholomew the Great, London, on the 10th of December, 1697. That he was baptized on the 28th of the same month, we have the authority of his own manuscripts—the parish registers have been examined for confirmation with fruitless solicitude. He was a descendant of the family of Hogard, Hogart, or Hogarth, of Kirkby-Thore, in the county of Westmoreland ;* his father being the youngest of three brothers—the eldest of -whom lived and died ill the condition of yeoman, on a small hereditary freehold in the vale of Bampton. The second held the plough at Troutbeck, in the same district; and Richard, the youngest, having been educated at the school of St. Bees, carried thence his learning and his health to the great market of the metropolis.
* Nichols says, in his earlier years he wrote himself Hogart or Hogard; and in this he is confirmed by Adam Walker, who spells the name Hogart. That the name in London pronunciation, would have the concluding th hardened into (, there can be little doubt; such is the fate of all northern names with liquid terminations. In conversation he was called Hogart, and this the following lines, from Swift's Legion Club, sufficiently prove :—
"How I want thee, humorous Hogart!
For his small success in London we have the tes timony of his son. He arrived, Ave know not at what period; obtained employment as a corrector of the press; married a woman whose name 01 kindred no one has mentioned; kept—it is not known how long—a school; and having sought in vain for the distinction of an author and the patronage of the powerful, sunk under disappointed hope and incessant labour about the year 1721—leaving one son, William, and two daughters, whose names were Ann and Mary.
When the fame of William Hogarth was such as rendered tcme account of his kindred a matter of public curiosity, it was discovered that his uncle, who lived at Troutbeck, was a rustic poet and satirist, whose rude and witty productions (in the opinion of Adam Walker the natural philosopher) reformed the manners of the people as much, at least, as the sermons of the clergyman; and that he had written a singular and humourous dramatic poem on the destruction of Troy, which was acted with applause in the open air, among the pastoral hills, by the pea
To the testimony of Walker I bave to oppose the assurance of Irelard, who, in his strange and hurried work, declares that Richard Hogarth, in a Latin letter, dated If 57, wrote his name as it is now written. I am inclined to believe that the name was spelt and pronounced variously, and that the artist finally sanctioned the way which seemed most genteel. In this decision he was influenced, it is said, by his wile, who rerhaps thought Hogart mean and vulgar. That a man so proud should choose to soften away a name of old standing to accommodate the fancy of his wife, I cannot readily believe. He never wrote Hogart at the bottom of any of his plates save one, and of this Ireland supposes that the last letter, having been faintly etched, bad, ill the course of taking impressions, bean obliterated.
*ants of Westmoreland. "The wooden horse"— says the philosopher, "Hector dragged by the heels —the fury of Diomed — the flight of Eneas—and the burning of the city, were all represented. I remember not what fairies had to do in all this, but—as I happened to be about three feet high at the time— I personated one of those tiny beings. The stge was a fabric of boards placed about six feet high, on strong posts; the green-room was partitioned off with the same materials; its ceiling was the canopy of heaven, and the boxes, pit, and galleries were laid out into one by the great Author of Nature, for they were the green slope of a fine hill." When Nichols collected his anecdotes of Hogarth, he was desirous of tasting the spirit of the rustic dramatist of Westmoreland; and many ballads and satires were collected and laid before him. He has made the following estimate of their merits—" Want of grammar, metre, sense, and decency are their invariable characteristics." But a critic who recognized only humour and burlesque in the works of the immortal nephew, might see nothing but the defects of the Bard of Troutbeck; the man who wrote to excite the laughter of a rustic audience, was not likely to be solicitous about grammar, or fastidious about delicacy of phrase.
Respecting his father also inquiries were made. but they were left unanswered till the death of the painter, when the following particulars were found among his memoranda.- Richard Hogarth wrote a volume of about four hundred pages as an addition to Littleton's Latin Dictionary, and obtained testimonials to its usefulness and merit " from some of the greatest scholars in England, Scotland, and Ireland." He submitted it to a bookseller with the intention of printing it, but delays took place, and the work was finally withdrawn and laid aside. "I saw the difficulties," says William, "under which mv father laboured; the many inconveniences he