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THE productions of the satirical and humorous pencil of Hogarth, will ever continue to be studied and admired : they are for all time. It was well observed by M. Bartsch : “Hogarth, who may, in more than one respect, be compared to Aristophanes, introduced genuine Comedy into Painting, and delineated the manners of his countrymen in a true, attractive, and instructive manner, and not unfrequently with considerable pathos. One considers him as a great satiric author, who described the follies and vices of his age with the pencil and the burin.” And our ingenious countryman, Mr. Lamb, thus places him in the first rank of AUTHORS :-"I was pleased with the reply of a gentleman, who, being asked which book he esteemed most in his library, answered •Shakspeare': being asked which he esteemed next best, replied · Hogarth. His graphic repre. sentations are indeed BOOKS : they have the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Other pictures we look at his prints we read."
Mr. George Steevens, one of the earliest and ablest com. mentators on Hogarth, judiciously remarks :—“Of all his fraternity, whether ancient or modern, Hogarth bent the keenest eye on the follies and vices of mankind, and ex
pressed them with a degree of variety and force, which it would be vain to seek among the satiric compositions of any other painter. In short, what is observed by Hamlet concerning a player's office, may, with some few exceptions, be applied to the designs of Hogarth— Their end, both at • first and now, was, and is, to hold as 'twere the mirror up • to Nature; to shew Virtue her own feature, Scorn her
own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.'"
The works of Hogarth are, indeed, generally allowed to have a moral tendency, by painting Vice in those true and disgusting colours which, by leading the mind to reflection, will induce it to embrace with zeal the cause of Virtue. Anecdotes of his life and character, the object and the consequence of his performances, become, therefore, proper and indispensable subjects of animadversion and critical attention; and these have accordingly exercised the pens of several eminent individuals.
The first commentator was Dr. Trusler, who was assisted by Mrs. Hogarth. The Doctor's object was to present the reader with concise and comprehensive explanations of the moral tendency of Hogarth's works; and to excite in young persons a just dread of the rocks and quicksands of life. This volume having become rare and valuable, a highly improved edition has lately been published by Mr. Major. This edition has the advantage of a new set of plates, which, when the diminutive size is considered, will be found to have preserved, in an uncommon degree, the original spirit and manner of Hogarth. It is also enriched with many valuable additional notes.
But the labours of Dr. Trusler being confined to a moral cominentary on about fifty only of the principal works of Hogarth (the Doctor professing no intimate acquaintance with the arts), and being deficient in Biographical Anecdotes of the inimitable artist, the Editor of the present Volume considered that an interesting selection inight be formed from the works of Walpole, Gilpin, Steevens, John Ireland, Lamb, Phillips, and other eminent biographers and critics.
The first article that forcibly struck the attention of the Editor, was Hogarth's sketch of his own life, comprehending his studies, correspondence, political quarrels, &c. This interesting relic was compiled by Mr. John Ireland from Hogarth's very rough memoranda, and first published in the Third Volume of “ Illustrations of Hogarth.”
The refined taste and elegant diction of Mr. Walpole, exercised on the works of Hogarth, deserve every commendation. Selections, therefore, from his judicious remarks are included in this volume : which are followed by some pertinent and ingenious observations from Mr. Gilpin's “Essay on Prints.”
The spirited eulogium and defence of Hogarth, by Mr. Charles Lamb, was too interesting an article not to be given entire; and some remarks, by the late Mr. Hazlitt, on the “Marriage à la Mode," and other paintings by Hogarth, exhibited in 1814, were so masterly, that I could not resist transplanting them into this work.
A very luminous memoir of Hogarth, by Thomas Phil. lips, Esq. R.A, appeared in the last edition of Dr. Rees's
This eminent living artist very properly founded his memoir on Hogarth’s Sketch of his own Life. Several passages from Mr. Phillips's memoir have been engrafted into this volume; as well as valuable criticisms from other sources.
By these various dissertations the reader cannot fail to be both delighted and instructed.
But a fuller Biographical Essay appearing to be still desirable, the Editor was gratified to be allowed, by Messrs. Baldwin and Cradock, to reprint, in this volume, one which was written for the edition of the “ Genuine Works of Hogarth,” published under the superintendance of Messrs. Nichols and Heath. The writer of this elegant “ Biographical Essay" has evidently studied his subject with the strictest attention and impartiality, and gleaned many interesting remarks from various sources, particularly from G. C. Lichtenberg, an intelligent German commentator on Ho. garth, and a writer not sufficiently known in this country.
The Catalogue of Hogarth's Prints is much more full than any preceding list. Mr. Steevens long ago remarked, “ The Collector who contents himself with the later impressions of Hogarth's Works, will not consult our artist's reputation. Those who wish to be acquainted with the whole extent of his powers, should assemble the first copies, together with all the varieties of his capital works.”
The Editor has, therefore, minutely noticed all the principal Variations to be found in Hogarth’s Plates, and has also given accounts of the various copies of his works. This labour was originally performed many years ago by exainin