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In that last plate of the London Apprentices, in which the apotheosis of the Right Honourable Francis Goodchild is drawn, a ragged fellow is represented in the corner of the simple, kindly piece, offering for sale a broadside, purporting to contain an account of the appearance of the ghost of Tom Idle, executed at Tyburn. Could Tom's ghost have made its appearance in 1847, and not in 1747, what changes would have been remarked by that astonished escaped criminal ! Over that road which the hangman used to travel constantly, and the Oxford stage twice a week, go ten thousand carriages every day: over yonder road, by which Dick Turpin filed to Windsor, and Squire Western journeyed into town, when he came to take up his quarters at the “ Hercules Pillars” on the outskirts of London, what a rush of civilization and order flows now! What armies of gentlemen with umbrellas march to banks, and chambers, and counting-houses ! What regiments of nursery-maids and pretty infantry; what peaceful processions of policemen, what light broughams and what gay carriages, what swarms of busy apprentices and artificers, riding on omnibus-roofs, pass daily and hourly! Tom Idle's times are quite changed: many of the institutions gone into disuse which were admired in his day. There's more pity and kindness and a better chance for poor Tom's successors now than at that simpler period when Fielding hanged him and Hogarth drew him.
To the student of history, these admirable works must be invaluable, as they give us the most complete and truthful picture of the manners, and even the thoughts, of the past century. We look, and see pass before us the England of a hundred years ago—the peer in his drawing-room, the lady of fashion in her apartment, foreign singers surrounding her, and the chamber filled with gewgaws in the mode of that day; the church, with its quaint florid architecture and singing congregation ; the parson with his great wig, and the beadle with his cane : all these are represented before us, and we are sure of the truth of the portrait. We see how the Lord Mayor dines in state; how the prodigal drinks and sports at the bagnio ; how the poor girl beats hemp in Bridewell ; how the thief divides his booty and drinks his punch at the night-cellar, and how he finishes his career at the gibbet. We may depend upon the perfect accuracy of these strange and varied portraits of the bygone generation : we see one of Walpole's Members of Parliament chaired after his election, and the lieges celebrating the event, and drinking confusion to the Pretender : we see the grenadiers and trainbands of the City marching out to meet the enemy; and have before us, with sword and firelock, and white Hanoverian horse embroidered on the cap, the very figures of the men who ran away with Johnny Cope, and who conquered at Culloden. The Yorkshire waggon rolls into the inn yard; the
untry parson, in his jack-boots, and his bands and short cassock, comes trotting into town, and we fancy it is Parson Adams, with his sermons in his pocket. The Salisbury fly sets forth from the old "Angel"-you see the passengers entering the great heavy vehicle, up the wooden steps, their hats tied down with handkerchiefs over their faces, and under their arms, sword, hanger, and case-bottle; the landlady-apoplectic with the liquors in her own bar-is tugging at the bell; the hunchbacked postilion—he may have ridden the leaders to Humphrey Clinker-is begging a gratuity; the miser is grumbling at the bill ; Jack of the “Centurion " lies on the top of the clumsy vehicle, with a soldier by his side-it may be Smollett's Jack Hatchway—it has a likeness to Lismahago. You see the suburban fair and the strolling company of actors; the pretty milkmaid singing under the windows of the enraged French musician : it is such a girl as Steele charmingly described in the Guardian, a few years before this date, singing, under Mr. Ironside's window in Shire Lane, her pleasant carol of a May morning. You see noblemen and blacklegs bawling and betting in the Cockpit : you see Garrick as he was arrayed in “ King Richard ;” Macheath and Polly in the dresses which they wore when they charmed our ancestors, and when noblemen in blue ribbons sat on the stage and listened to their delightful music. You see the ragged French soldiery, in their white coats and cockades, at Calais Gate : they are of the regiment, very likely, which friend Roderick Random joined before he was rescued by his preserver Monsieur de
Strap, with whom he fought on the famous day of Dettingen. You see the judges on the bench; the audience laughing in the pit; the student in the Oxford theatre; the citizen on his country walk; you see Broughton the boxer, Sarah Malcolm the murderess, Simon Lovat the traitor, John Wilkes the demagogue, leering at you with that squint which has become historical, and that face which, ugly as it was, he said he could make as captivating to woman as the countenance of the handsomest beau in town. All these sights and people are with you. After looking in the “Rake's Progress” at Hogarth's picture of St. James's Palace Gate, you may people the street, but little altered within these hundred years, with the gilded carriages and thronging chairmen that bore the courtiers your ancestors to Queen Caroline's drawing-room more than a hundred years ago.
What manner of man * was he who executed these portraits—50
Hogarth (whose family name was Hogart) was the grandson of a Westmoreland yeoman. His father came to London, and was an author and schoolmaster. William was born in 1698 (according to the inost probable conjecture) in the parish of St. Martin, Ludgate. He was early apprenticed to an engraver of arms on plate. The following touches are from his “Anecdotes of Himself.” (Edition of 1833.)
“As I had naturally a good eye, and a fondness for drawing, shows of all sorts gave me uncommon pleasure when an infant; and mimicry, common to all children, was remarkable in me. An early access to a neighbouring painter drew my attention from play; and I was, at every possible opportunity, employed in making drawings. I picked up an acquaintance of the same turn, and soon learnt to draw the alphabet with great correctness. My exercises, when at school, were more remarkable for the ornaments which adorned them, than for the exercise itself. In the former, I soon found that blockheads with better memories could much surpass me ; but for the latter I was particularly distinguished.
“I thought it still more unlikely that by pursuing the common method, and copying old drawings, I could ever attain the power of making new designs, which was my first and greatest ambition. I therefore endeavoured to habituate myself to the exercise of a sort of technical memory; and by repeating in my own mind the parts of which objects were composed, I could by degrees combine and put them down with my pencil. Thus, with all the drawbacks which resulted from the cir. cumstances I have mentioned, I had one material advantage over my competitors, viz. the early habit I thus acquired of retaining in my mind's eye, without coldly copying it on the spot, whatever I intended to imitate.
“ The instant I became master of my own time, I determined to qualify myself
various, so faithful, and so admirable? In the National Collection of Pictures most of us have seen the best and most carefully finished for engraving on copper. In this I readily got employment; and frontispieces to books, such as prints to 'Hudibras,' in twelves, &c., soon brought me into the way. But the tribe of booksellers remained as my father had left them. which put me upon publishing on my own account. But here again I had to encounter a monopoly of printsellers, equally mean and destructive to the ingenious; for the first plate I published, called “The Taste of the Town,' in which the reigning follies were lashed, had no sooner begun to take a run, than I found copies of it in the print-shops, vending at half-price, while the original prints were returned to me again, and I was thus obliged to sell the plate for whatever these pirates pleased to give me, as there was no place of sale but at their shops. Owing to this, and other circumstances, by engraving, until I was near thirty, I could do little more than maintain myself ; but even then, I was a punctual paymaster.
“I then married, and
[But William is going too fast here. He made “a stolen union,” on March 23, 1729, with Jane, daughter of Sir James Thornhill, serjeant-painter. For some time Sir James kept his heart and his purse-strings close, but "soon after became both reconciled and generous to the young couple.”— Hogarth's Works, by Nichols and STEEVENS, vol. i. p. 44.]
-commenced painter of small Conversation Pieces, from twelve to fifteen inches high. This, being a novelty, succeeded for a few years.”
[About this time Hogarth had summer lodgings at South Lambeth, and did all kinds of work, “embellishing” the “Spring Gardens” at “Vauxhall,” and the like. In 1731, he published a satirical plate against Pope, founded on the well-known imputation against him of his having satirised the Duke of Chandos, under the name of Timon, in his poem on “ Taste.” The plate represented a view of Burlington House, with Pope whitewashing it, and bespattering the Duke of Chandos's coach. Pope made no retort, and has never mentioned Hogarth.]
“Before I had done anything of much consequence in this walk, I entertained some hopes of succeeding in what the puffers in books call The Great Style of History Painting; so that without having had a stroke of this grand business before, I quitted small portraits and familiar conversations, and with a smile at my own temerity, commenced history-painter, and on a great staircase at St. Bartho. lomew's Hospital, painted two Scripture stories, the ‘Pool of Bethesda' and the 'Good Samaritan,' with features seven feet high.
But as religion, the great promoter of this style in other countries, rejected it in England, I was unwilling to sink into a portrait manufacturer; and still ambitious of being singular, dropped all expectations of advantage from that source, and returned to the pursuit of my former dealings with the public at large.
“As to portrait-painting, the chief branch of the art by which a painter can procure himself a tolerable livelihood, and the only one by which a lover of money can get a fortune, a man of very moderate talents may have great success in it, as
series of his comic paintings, and the portrait of his own honest face, of which the bright blue eyes shine out from the canvas and give you
the artifice and address of a mercer is infinitely more useful than the abilities of a painter. By the manner in which the present race of professors in England conduct it, that also becomes still life.”
* By this inundation of folly and puff” (he has been speaking of the success of Vanloo, who came over here in 1737), “ I must confess I was much disgusted, and determined to try if by any means I could stem the torrent, and, by opposing, end it. I laughed at the pretensions of these quacks in colouring, ridiculed their productions as feeble and contemptible, and asserted that it required neither taste nor talents to excel their most popular performances. This interference excited much enmity, because, as my opponents told me, my studies were in another way. *You talk,' added they, 'with ineffable contempt of portrait-painting; if it is so easy a task, why do not you convince the world, by painting a portrait yourself ?' Provoked at this language, I, one day at the Academy in St. Martin's Lane, put the following question : ‘Supposing any man, at this time, were to paint a portrait as well as Vandyke, would it be seen or acknowledged, and could the artist enjoy the benefit or acquire the reputation due to his performance ?'
• They asked me in reply, If I could paint one as well ? and I frankly answered, I believed I could.
“Of the mighty talents said to be requisite for portrait-painting I had not the most exalted opinion.”
Let us now hear him on the question of the Academy :
“ To pester the three great estates of the empire, about twenty or thirty students drawing after a man or a horse, appears, as must be acknowledged, foolish enough : but the real motive is, that a few bustling characters, who have access to people of rank, think they can thus get a superiority over their brethren, be appointed to places, and have salaries, as in France, for telling a lad when a leg or an arm is too long or too short.
“France, ever aping the magnificence of other nations, has in its turn assumed a foppish kind of splendour sufficient to dazzle the eyes of the neighbouring states, and draw vast sums of money from this country.
“To return to our Royal Academy : I am told that one of their leading objects will be, sending young men abroad to study the antique statues, for such kind of studies may sometimes improve an exalted genius, but they will not create it; and whatever has been the cause, this same travelling to Italy has, in several instances that I have seen, reduced the student from nature, and led him to paint marble figures, in which he has availed himself of the great works of antiquity, as a coward does when he puts on the armour of an Alexander ; for, with similar pretensions and similar vanity, the painter supposes he shall be adored as a second Raphael Urbino.”
We must now hear him on his “Sigismunda :"