Page images

The great work of Saurin, as it is commonly called; (probably from its bulk,) we mean his Dissertations on the Old and New Testaments, is rather an undigested mass of erudition and eloquence, than a sound body of judicious criticism. At least, so to us it has always appeared. It is scarcely ever mentioned by the learned Biblical scholars of the present day.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ART. VIII. Hogarth illustrated, from his own
Ireland: Vol. III.* and last. Royal 8vo.

• Boards. Nicol. 1798.



MSS. By John pp. 400. 11. 16s,

2.1 to 151 £18

We have had many opportunities of examining into the great and original merits of our countryman, Hogarth; and we have experienced sincere pleasure in our endeavours to do justice to his admirable productions. He was an artist sui generis; and, as he copied from none who preceded him, he has not been successfully imitated by any subsequent painters.. The life and the works of such a man, who reflected so much credit on his country, both by the genius and the moral tend ency of his exertions, naturally excite that curiosity which the present publication is calculated to gratify.

Mr. Ireland has already indulged the world with a circumstantial account of Hogarth; and the present volume is intended as a supplement to that work, and to convey the information with which fresh materials have furnished him.-Lord Orford, Dr. Trusler, Mr. Nichols, and Mr. Samuel Ireland have allwritten on the same subject, and are each entitled to the praise of having communicated useful and amusing particulars. The volume before us, however, possesses great and exclusive ad-" vantages, for it is chiefly compiled from the MSS. of Mr. Hogarth himself. Yet, without intending to question the autherity of those papers, we cannot help expressing our wonder that Mrs. Hogarth, with whom the writer of this article was for many years intimately acquainted, and whom he not unfre quently consulted on the subject of preparing a life of her, husband for the Biographia Britannica, should never once have mentioned the circumstance of her having in her possession such valuable materials; more especially as she appeared to be pleased with the design, and promised her best assistance in the execution of it.

Of the manner in which these MSS. came to the hands of the editor, and of the use which he has made of them, he shall speak for himself.

See M. Rev. N. S. vol. xii. p. 311.

Ee 2


The MSS. from which the principal parts of this volume are compiled, were written by the late Mr. Harth; had he lived a little longer, he would have methodized and published them. Ou his decease, they devolved to his widow, who kept them sacred and entire until her death; when they became the property of her relation and executrix, Mrs. Lewis, of Chiswick, by whose kindness and friendship they are now in my possession.

This is the fair and honest Pedigree of the Papers, which may be thus divided; t

1. Hogarth's life, comprehending his course of study, corre spondence, political quarrels, &c.

bak II. A manuscript volume, containing the autographs of the subscribers to his Elections, and intended print of Sigismunda; and letters to and from Lord Grosvenor, relative to that picture.

III. The manuscript of the Analysis of Beauty, corrected by the Author; with the original sketches, and many remarks omitted. in the printed copy.

IV. A Supplement to the Analysis, never published; com prising a succinct history of the arts in his own tine, his account of the institution of the Royal Academy, &c.

V. Sundry memorandu relative to the subject of his satire in se veral of his prints.

[ocr errors]

1.These manuscripts being written in a careless hand, generally on -loose pieces of paper, and not paged, my first endeavour was to find the connection, separate the subjects, and place cach in its proper class. This, in such a mass of papers, I found no very casy task; especially as the Author, when dissatisfied with his first expression, Iras frequently varied the form of the same sentence two or three times: in such instances, I have selected that which I thought best coustructed. Every paper has been attentively examined, and is to the best of my judgment arranged as the author intended. I have incorporated Hogarth's account of the Arts, Academy, &c. with his narrative of his own life, and, to keep distinct the various subjects on which he treats, divided the whole into chapters. Where from negligence, or haste, he has omitted a word, I have supplied it with that which the context leads me to believe he would have used; where the sentences have been very long, I have occasionally broken them into shorter paragraphs, and sometimes tried to render the style more perspicuous, by the retrenchment of redundant expressions; but in every case, the sense of the Author is faithfully adhered to. *As he has usually given the progress of his life, opinions, &c. in the first person, I have adopted the same rule; and to distinguish my own remarks from Hogarth's narrative, the beginning of each sentence written by him, is marked with inverted commas. His correspondence is regulated by the dates of the letters; and the copies from sketches in the MS. Analysis, are placed in the chapter which contains Hogarth's account of that publication.

In the papers which relate to the subject of his satire in some of his prints, he appears to have projected more than his life allowed hi to perform ; the few remarks which he made are inserted in the Appendix.'


We meet with few anecdotes with which we were not before acquainted, but we find many remarks and opinions which amply compensate for the want of domestic particulars. The observations are written in so easy and perspicuous a manner, that they incontestibly prove that Hogarth was by no means ignorant of literary composition; and that, when he applied to Mr. Ralph, Dr., Morell, and others, for assistance with regard to language *, in his Analysis of Beauty, such application must have been the suggestion of diffidence, and not the result of inability.

His opinion of the institutions of the Royal Academy, and the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, was unfavourable. The reasons which he assigns for his opposition are sensible, and serve to shew his intimate acquaintance with his subject. He gives the following short account of former attempts at similar establishments:

"Much has been said about the immense benefit likely to result from the establisment of an academy in this country, but as I do not see it in the same light with many of my contemporaries, I shall take the freedom of making my objections to the plan on which they propose forming it; and as a sort of preliminary to the subject, state some slight particulars concerning the fate of former attempts at simiFar establishments.

"The first place of this sort was in Queen-street, about sixty years ago; it was begun by some gentlemen-painters of the first rank, who in their general forms imitated the plan of that in France, but conducted their business with far less fuss and solemnity; yet the little that there was, in a very short time became the object of ridicule. Jealousies arose, parties were formed, and the president and all his adherents found themselves comically represented, as marching in ridiculous procession round the walls of the room. The first proprietors soon put a padlock on the door; the rest, by their right as subscribers, did the same, and thus ended this academy.

"Sir James Thornhill, at the head of one of these parties, then set up another in a room he built at the back of his own house, now next the playhouse, and furnished tickets gratis to all that required admission; but so few would lay themselves under such an obligation, that this also soon sunk into insignificance. Mr. Vanderbank headed the rebellious party, and converted an old Presbyterian meeting-house into an academy, with the addition of a woman figure, to make it the more inviting to subscribers. This lasted a few years; but the treasurer sinking the subscription money, the lamp, stove, &c. were scized for rent; and that also dropped.

"Sir James dying, I became possessed of his neglected apparatus; and thinking that an academy conducted on proper and moderate

Which, after all their friendly attempts, they could not furnish, to his satisfaction. "Merely as Men of Letters," he said, "they could not perfectly express his ideas." Rev.

[blocks in formation]

principles had some use, proposed that a number of artists should enter into a a subscription for the hire of a place large enough to admit thirty or forty people to draw after a naked figure. This was soon agreed to, and a room taken in St. Martin's Lane. To serve the society, I ent them the furniture which had belonged to Sir James Thornhill's academy; and as I attributed the failure of that and Mr. Vanderbank's to the leading members assuming a superiority which their fellow students could not brook, I proposed that every member should contribute an equal sim to the establishment, and have an equal right to vote in every question relative to the society. As to electing presidents, directors, professors, &c. I considerid it as a ridiculous imitation of the foolish parade of the French academy, by the establishment of which Lewis XIV. got a large portion of fame and flattery on very easy terms. But I could never learn that the arts were benefited, or that members acquired any other advantages than what arose to a few leaders from their paltry salaries, not more I am told than fifty pounds a year; which, as must always be the case, were engrossed by those who had most influence, without any regard to their relative merit. As a proof of the little benefit the arts derived from this Royal Academy, Voltaire asserts that after its establishment, no one work of genius appeared in the country; the whole band, adds the same lively and sensible writer, became mannerists and imitators t. It may be said in answer to this, that all painting is but imitation: granted; but if we go no father than copying what has been done before, without entering into the spirit, causes, and effects, what are we doing? If we vary from our original, we fall off from it, and it ceases to be a copy; and if we strictly adhere to it, we can have no liopes of getting beyond it; for, if two mey ride on a barse, one of them must be behind.


To return to our own academy; by the regulations I have men tioned, of a general equality, &c. it has now subsisted near thirty years and is, to every useful purpose, equal to that in France, or any other; but this does not satisfy. The members finding his pre sent majesty's partiality to the arts, met at the Turk's Head, in Gerard-street, Soho, laid out the public money in advertisements, to call all sorts of artists together, and have resolved to draw up and present a ridiculous address to king, lords, and commons, to do for them, what they have (as well as it can be) done for themselves. Thus to

The designer of a print which was published in 1753-and intended to burlesque some of the figures in the Analysis of Beauty, seems to have believed that Hogarth intended to have published his objections to the establishment of the academy. The print is entitled Pugg's Graces, and the artist is represented with the legs of a satyr, and painting Moses before Pharaoh's daughter. One of his hoofs rests on three books, the lowest of which is labelled Analysis of Beauty. A little lower in the print is an open volume, on one page of which is written, Reasons against a public academy, 1753; and on the other,

No salary.a

Leivis XIV. founded an academy for the French at Rome; but Poussin and Le Scur, painters who have done the most credit to France, were prior to the establishment?


pester the three great estates of the empire, about twenty or thirty students, drawing after a man or a horse, appears, it must be ack ledged, 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 an arm or a leg is too long or too short.

[ocr errors]

Not approving of this plan, I opposed it; and having refused to assign to the society the property which I had before lent them, I am accused of acrimony, ill nature, and spleen, and held forth as an enemy to the arts and artists. How far their mighty project will succeed, I neither know nor care; certain I am it deserves to be laughed at, and laughed at it has been The business rests in the breast of majesty, and the simple question now is,-whether he will do, what Sir James Thornhill did before him, i. e. establish an academy, with the little addition of a royal name, and salaries for those professors who can make most interest and obtain the greatest patronage.. As his majesty's beneficence to the arts, will unquestionably induce him to do that which he thinks most likely to promote them, would it not be more useful, if he were to furnish his own gallery with one picture by each of the most eminent painters among his own subjects? This might possibly set an example to a few of the opulent nobility; but even then, it is to be feared that there never can be a market in this country, for the great number of works, which encouraging parents to place their children in this line, would probably cause to be painted. The world is already glutted with these commodities, which do not perish fast enough to want such a supply."

Hogarth makes us acquainted with his motives for publishing his Analysis, the success with which it was attended, and the abuse which it procured. He describes his own feelings before he commenced author, and the ill-natured remarks of those who envied or disliked him, in the following whimsical epigram:

What a book, and by Hogarth!-then twenty to ten, All he's gain'd by the pencil, he'll lose by the pen." "Perhaps it may be so, howe'er, miss or hit,

He will publish,-here goes-it's double or quit."

Though he represents himself as little affected by the malevolent attempts of the many, he acknowleges that he was

The late Sir Robert Strange, though he did not speak quite so plain as Hogarth, seems to have entertained an opinion somewhat similar.

"Academies under proper regulations, are no doubt the best nurseries of the fine arts. But when the establishment of the Royal Academy at London, is impartially examined, it will not, I am afraid, reflect that credit we wish upon the annals of its royal founder." Strange's Inquiry, p. 61.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »