« ZurückWeiter »
were likewise made containing miniature representations of all the six plates:-these were usually printed off with red ink-three compartments on one side and as many on the other. Of the Rake's Progress the success is less distinctly stated, but it must have been great; for it was satisfactory to the artist himself-who was now confirined in his own notions of what was fittest for art. It was in vain that the lovers of classic beauty and the admirers of graphic grace contended against the imperfect drawing and the rough etching of these works. Hogarth's style of engraving is indeed rough; but it is vigorous and free. He accomplishes his aim by one or two fortunate and happy strokes—not by a multitude of small and timid touches which diminish the natural freedom of the original. Humour, satire, moral pathos, each singly unequalled, in their union unapproached, silenced criticism, if they could not satisfy it. In those fourteen plates are contained the stories. of two erring creatures who run their own separate careers ; and never did dramatist or painter read two such sharp, satiric, and biting lessons to mankind. In the first series a young woman is conducted from innocence through six scenes of wo, wickedness, and guilt;-coming pure from the country into the pollution of London, she is decoyed and deceived-she deceives in her turn-rises to guilty splendour, to sink in more guilty wo-and finally perishes amid wretches as guilty and as miserable as herself. In the other series of engravings a young man steps unexpect. edly from poverty to fortune-from rustic dependence to lordly wealth, by heiring a sordid miser, of whose den and hoards the artist introduces him in the act of taking possession. He despises and deserts the woman whom he had wooed and vowed to marry-starts on a wild career of extravagance, dissipation, and folly-is beset and swindled by speculators of all kinds, from poets to punks, in. cluding rooks, and bucks, and bullies-parades through various haunts of sin and of splendour, till with a fortune dissipated, a constitution ruined, his fame blighted, and his mind touched, he is left raving mad in Bedlam. Mirth and wo, humour and seriousness, a brilliant rise and a dark ending, are seen often together in this world, and the painter has not separated them. The brief and agitated careers of two fellow-mortals are represented ;-the truth of nature is closely observed; a series of actions all conducive to the catastrophe are exhibited, and were they arranged for the stage and personated by first-rate actors, hardly could the impression be more vivid, or the moral strengthened. Nor has the painter sought to win and move us by beauty of form, or by any exterior grace; there is youth but there is little loveliness-nor is its absence felt.
“ The curtain,” says Walpole, “ was now drawn aside, and his genins stood displayed in its full lustre. From time to time he continued to give these works, which should be immortal if the nature of his work will allow it. Even the receipts for his subscriptions had wit in them. Many of his plates he engraved himself, and often expunged faces etched by his assistants when they had not done justice to his ideas.”
The fame of Hogarth was now so well established that the daily and weekly collectors of new's began to find it worth while to describe what works he was engaged in, and the characters which were satirized in his compositions. To the industry of those persons we are indebted for various curious particulars concerning the chief persons in the Harlot's Progress and Rake's Progress. Mary Moffat and Kate Hackabout divide between them the fame of the frail heroine. The latter, a personage faini. liar to the sitting magistrates of the day, supplied the name; and the former, a free dame who lived in
some state, suggested the circumstance of beating hemp in the House of Correction in a gown richly laced with silver. The patched and sanctifiedlooking procuress was a certain Mother Needham, of whose history the catastrophe may be sufficient. She incurred in her vocation sentence to be pilloried in Park Lane, and was so roughly handled by the populace that she survived but a few days.
The infamous life of Colonel Charteris was noto. rious, and our artist has not spared him. After the verse of Pope and the pencil of Hogarth--but one thing more could be wanted, and the profligate obtained that also-to wit, an epitaph by Dr. Arbuthnot:-“ Here continueth to rot the body of Francis Charteris: who, with an inflexible constancy, and inimitable uniformity of life, persisted, in spite of age and infirmities, in the practice of every human vice, excepting prodigality and hypocrisy; his insatiable avarice exempted him from the first--his matchless impudence from the second."
Of Justice Gonson, who was indefatigable in rummaging out ladies of loose reputation, and fortunate in the detection of thieves and robbers, it is needless to speak, since his looks have had the sanction of the lords of the treasury. He enters the house of Hogarth's heroine with slow and cautious steps. The portrait of Dr. Sacheverel-the pistols of the highwayman, her “true love”-the print of the Virgin Mary—the stolen watches and jewels--these things are so many glimpses into the private life and conversation of the unfortunate.
The fat and lean physicians, who disturb the expiring sinner with their disputes, were well-known characters, who poisoned and slew in their day with more success than attends the most practised quacks of the present generation. The meagre son of Æs*culapius was Dr. Misaubin, a foreigner; his corpu
lent adversary was home-born, and only differed *with his brother about the means of conducting
their patient to repose and death. They were men well qualified to fulfil the parting words of a witty northern baronet to his son, who was about to proceed into England to practise as a physician. “ Go, my son, into the land of the Southron; they will find in thee the avenger of the battle of Pinkie.”
The persons who crowd the eight busy scenes of the Rake's Progress are not so well known; ? many are believed to be portraits. The hero himself is probably only the personation of the vices i which the painter proposed to satirize; through which the treasures amassed by sordid meanness were to be as ignobly squandered. In the halo de round the head of the antiquated beldame, whom he marries to support his extravagance, we see a no satiric touch at that spiritual school of painting, to which Hogarth never bore any love. The two sedate personages, in the scene of the gaming table, are, one Manners (of the family of Rutland), to whom the Duke of Devonshire lost the great estate of Leicester Abbey, and a highwayman, who sits warming his feet at the fire, waiting quietly till the winner departs, that he may, with a craped face and a a cocked pistol, seize the whole. “Old Manners," says Ireland, “ was the only person of his time who amassed a considerable fortune by the profes. sion of a gamester.” Hogarth has shown him ex- O ercising his twofold avocation of miser and game. ster, discounting a note of hand to a nobleman with a greedy hand and a rapacious eye.
In another scene the actors in the drama of pro. digality are numerous and well chosen. The rake, holding his morning levee, appears stiff and un- S graceful in his rich dress and newly-acquired importance-and is surrounded by visiters well qua. lified to reduce him from affluence to poverty. Paris sends a tailor, a dancing-master, a milliner, a 10 master of fencing, and a blower of the French horn; we have besi les an English prize-fighter, a tcacheri
of Italian music, a garden architect, a bravo, a jockey, and a poet. One of those worthies, Dubois, a Frenchman, was memorable for his en thusiasm in the science of defence, and for having died in a quarrel with an Irishman of his own name and profession, as fiery and skilful as himself. Another was Figg the prize-fighter, noted in the days of Hogarth for beating half-a-dozen intractable Hibernians, which accounts for the words on the label “A Figg for the Irish.” The teacher of music resembles Handel, and the embellisher of gardens has the look of Bridgman-a person who modestly boasted that his works “ created landscape, realized painting, and improved nature.” If the subjects which painting imbodies could be as clearly described by the pen, there would be less use for the pencil; nothing short of the examination of these varied productions can properly satisfy curiosity. · The fame of Hogarth, and the profit arising from his pieces, excited needy artists and unprincipled printsellers to engrave some of the most popular of his works, and dispose of them for their own advantage. The copies were executed too with a skill which threatened to impair his income. To put a stop to these depredations, and to secure to painters generally a fair profit in their own compositions, Hogarth applied to parliament, and obtained an act in 1735, for recognising a legal copyright in designs and engravings, and restraining copies of such works from being made without consent of the owners. · A few very plain words, one would have thought, might have expressed this very plain meaning ; but in acts of parliament, the meaning is apt to be lost amid the multitude of phrases, as a figure is sometimes obscured in the abundance of its drapery. One Huggins, the friend of Hogarth, drew the act; and worded it so loosely and vaguely, that when resorted to as a remedy in the case of Jeffreys, the