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both entertain and inform the mind, but fail to be of the greatest public utility, and must therefore be entitled to rank in the highest class. If the execution is difficult, though that is but a secondary merit, the author has a claim to a higher degree of praise. If this be admitted, comedy in painting, as well as in writing, ought to be allotted the first place, as most capable of all these perfections, though the sublime, as it is called, has been opposed to it. Ocular demonstration will carry more conviction to the mind of a sensible man than all he would find in a thousand volumes, and this has been attempted in the prints I have composed. Let the decision be left to any unprejudiced eye; let the figures in either pictures or prints be considered as players, dressed either for the sublime-for genteel comedy or farce-for high or low life. I have endeavoured to treat my subjects as a dramatic writer; my picture is my stage, my men and women my players, who, by means of certain actions and gestures, are to exhibit a dumb show.”
Those who are not satisfied of the accuracy of Hogarth's notions by his prints and his pictures, have little chance of being overcome by the force of his written arguments. I am afraid few will be disposed to rank comedy above tragedy, or common life higher than the heroic. The actions of lofty minds and the pursuits of inspired men will always maintain a higher place in the estimation of mankind, than the mere picturesque exploits of inferior characters. Entertainment and information are not all that the mind requires at the hand of an artist. We wish to be elevated by contemplating what is noble, to be warmed by the presence of the heroic, and charmed and made happy by the sight of purity and loveliness. We desire to share in the lofty movements of fine minds—to have communion with their images of what is godlike-and to take a part in the rapture of their love and in the ecstasies
of all their musings. This is the chief end of high poetry, of high painting, and of high sculpture; and that man misunderstands the true spirit of those arts who seeks to deprive them of a portion of their divinity, and argues that information and entertainment constitute their highest aim. It was well for Hogarth that he painted and engraved far beyond his own notions.
The Harlot's Progress was commenced in 1731, and appeared in a series of six plates in 1734. It was received wit.i general approbation. Compliments in verse and prose were poured upon his prints and upon his person; and as money followed fame, his father-in-law was relieved from his fears and Hogarth from his necessities. The boldness of the attempt, the fascinating originality and liveliness of the conception, together with the rough, ready vigour of the engraving, were felt and enjoyed by all. The public saw, with wonder, a series of productions framed and set forth in one grand moral and satiric story-exhibiting, in truth, a regular drama, neither wholly serious nor wholly comic, in which fashionable follies and moral corruptions had their beginning, their middle, and their end. Painters had been employed hitherto in investing ladies of loose reputation with the hues of heaven, and turning their paramours into Adonises; here was one who dipped both in the lake of darkness, and held them up together to the scorn and derision of mankind. Here we had portraits of the vicious and the vilenot the idle occupants of their places, but active in their calling, successful in their shame, and marching steadily and wickedly onwards; while not a porter looked at them in the print-seller's windows without feeling his burden lighier as he named them. Hogarth's fellow-artists saw with surprise those monitory and sarcastic creations which refused to owe any of their attractions to the established graces of the schools, or to the works of any artist new or old. The mixture of the satiric with the solemn-the pathetic with the ludicrous, of simplicity with cunning-and virtue with vice, was but an image of London and of human nature. The actors-some of them at least-might be regarded as the evil spirits of the time, whom a mighty hand had come to exorcise and lay.
The merit of those compositions lies less in their personal satire, than in their general presentation of the character of a great and lascivious city. Yet the portraitures mark the intrepid spirit of the artist; for some whom he ridiculed were powerful enough to make their resentment be felt. For their resentment he appears to have cared little. One of them a polished personage who moved in polite circles-still bore the brand of Pope when he was pilloried to everlasting infamy by Hogarth. To reclaim such a hardened offender was beyond satire's art or even religion's power ;-to bottle up the viper was the surest way; and there he stands, expecting his fit associate, the procuress, to lead innocence into his toils. The dramatic cast of the whole composition--the march from modesty to folly-from folly to vice--from vice to crime--and from crime to death, contributed less, it is said, to the immediate popularity of the work than the portraits of Colonel Charteris, Kate Hackabout, Mother Needham, Parson Ford, and--one who should not be confounded with publicans and sinners--Mr. Justice Gonson.
An anecdote is related by Nichols, which confirms the account of the sudden popularity of the Harlot's Progress, and the accuracy of the likenesses. “At a Board of Treasury, which was held a day or two after the appearance of the third scene, a copy was shown by one of the lords, as
containing, among other excellencies, a striking | likeness of Sir John Gonson. It gave universal
satisfaction; from the Treasury each lord repaired to the printshop for a copy of it; and Hogarth rose completely into fame. This anecdote was related by Christopher Tilson, one of the chief clerks in the Treasury, and at that period under-secretary of state.” Stories such as this are often told concerning the success of works of genius. The approba. tion of the Lords of the Treasury was as necessary, in the eyes of one of their clerks, for the fame of the Harlot's Progress, as their signatures were for the validity and circulation of an official document. What signified genius, life, humour, and moral reprehension-until two or three official understrappers clapped their hands at the likeness of Sir John Gonson ?--The clerks of the Treasury, however, are quite mistaken: fame is still the free gift of the people;- it was so in Hogarth's time; and it will continue to be so.
While Hogarth was etching the Harlot's Pro. gress, he found leisure to attack a more dangerous antagonist than either Kent, Ford, or Charteris: he had the audacity to satirize Pope. “Pope,” says Johnson, “published in 1731 a poem called False Taste, in which he very particularly and severely criticises the house, the furniture, the gardens, and the entertainments of Timon, a man of great wealth and little taste. By Timon he was universally supposed, and by the Earl of Burlington, to whom the poem is addressed, was privately said, to mean the Duke of Chandos-a man perhaps too much delighted with pomp and show but of a b temper kind and beneficent, and who had conse. quently the voice of the public in his favour. A violent outcry was therefore raised against the ingratitude and treachery of Pope, who was said to be indebted to the patronage of Chandos for a present of a thousand pounds, and who gained the opportunity of insulting him by the kindness of his À invitation.
Hogarth's hostility to Pope might have arisen i
from his connexion with Sir James Thornhillwhose uneasiness under the success of Pope's friend Kent, the architect, has already been noticed or it may have originated in the public odium which the poet incurred by wantonly attacking a kind and benevolent nobleman. Of his motives it is difficult to judge of the sharpness of his satire there can be but one opinion. He has painted Burlington Gate--with Kent on the summit in his threefold capacity of painter, sculptor, and architect, flourishing his pallet and pencils over the heads of his astonished supporters, Michael Angelo and Raphael. On a scaffold a little lower down, Pope stands, whitewashing the front; and while he makes pillar and pilaster shine, his wet brush besprinkles Lord Chandos, who is passing by; Lord Burlington serves the poet in the condition of a labourer.
of all this Pope took no notice. “Either Hogarth's obscurity," says Nichols, “ was his protection from the lash of Pope, or perhaps the bard was too prudent to exasperate a painter who had already given such proofs of his ability in satire.” The poet was not a person to be easily intimidated, and the name of Hogarth, then in full fame, must have been familiar to him :-Pope remained silent; whether to the satisfaction or sorrow of the painter cannot now be ascertained. Much blame had been incurred by the satire on Chandos, and the poet might be unwilling to provoke farther discussion or prolong the strife. It is, however, probable that Pope regarded Hogarth as a vulgar caricaturist, beneath his notice.
Thornhill now thought so well of his son-in-law that he sought his aid in some of his ornamental paintings. A task of that kind suited ill with the temper or the talents of Hogarth, nor did it correspond altogether with those theories of composi. tion which he had laid down with so much ardour to his companions, and realized in his own works.