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refreshing admonitions, to which we turn for shelter from the too great heat and asperity of the general satire.
her province better than, by disturbing her husband at his palette, to divert him from that universality of subject, which has stamped him perhaps, next to Shakspeare, the most inventive genius which this island has produced, into the "amiable pursuit of beautiful nature," i.e. copying ad infinitum the individual charms and graces of Mrs. H.
Hogarth's method of exposing meanness, deformity, and vice, paddling in whatever is ridiculous, faulty, and vicious."
A person unacquainted with the works thus stigmatised would be apt to imagine that in Hogarth there was nothing else to be found but subjects of the coarsest and most repulsive nature. That his imagination was naturally unsweet, and that he delighted in raking into every species of moral filth. That he preyed upon sore places only, and took a pleasure in exposing the unsound and rotten parts of human nature:- -whereas, with the exception of some of the plates of the Harlot's Progress, which are harder in their character than any of the rest of his productions, (the Stages of Cruelty I omit as mere worthless caricaturas, foreign to his general habits, the offspring of his fancy in some wayward humour,) there is scarce one of his pieces where vice is most strongly satirised, in which some figure is not intro
And is there nothing analogous to this in Hogarth nothing which attempts and reaches the heart?"—no aim beyond that of shaking the sides?" If the kneeling ministering female in the last scene of the Rake's Progress, the Bedlam scene, of which I have spoken before, and have dared almost to parallel it with the most absolute idea of Virtue which Shakspeare has left us, be not enough to disprove the assertion; if the sad endings of the Harlot and the Rake, the passionate heart-bleeding entreaties for forgiveness which the adulterous wife is pouring forth to her assassinated and dying lord in the last scene but one of the Marriage Alamode, if these be not things to touch the heart, and dispose the mind to a meditative tenderness: is there nothing sweetly conciliatory in the mild patient face and gesture with which the wife seems to allay and ventilate the feverish irritated feelings of her poor poverty-distracted mate (the true copy of the genus irritabile) in the print of the Distrest Poet? or if an image of maternal love be required, where shall we find a sublimer view of it than in that aged woman in Industry and Idleness (plate V.) who is clinging with the fondness of hope not quite extinguished to her brutal vice-duced upon which the moral eye may rest hardened child, whom she is accompanying to the ship which is to bear him away from his native soil, of which he has been adjudged unworthy in whose shocking face every trace of the human countenance seems obliterated, and a brute beast's to be left instead, shocking and repulsive to all but her who watched over it in its cradle before it was so sadly altered, and feels it must belong to her while a pulse by the vindictive laws of his country shall be suffered to continue to beat in it. Compared with such things, what is Mr. Penny's "knowledge of the figure and academical skill which Hogarth wanted ?”
With respect to what follows concerning another gentleman, with the congratulations to him on his escape out of the regions of "humour and caricatura, " in which it appears he was in danger of travelling side by side with Hogarth, I can only congratulate my country, that Mrs. Hogarth knew
satisfied; a face that indicates goodness, or perhaps mere good-humouredness and carelessness of mind (negation of evil) only, yet enough to give a relaxation to the frowning brow of satire, and keep the general air from tainting. Take the mild, supplicating posture of patient Poverty in the poor woman that is persuading the pawnbroker to accept her clothes in pledge, in the plate of Gin Lane, for an instance. A little does it, a little of the good nature overpowers a world of bad. One cordial honest laugh of a Tom Jones absolutely clears the atmosphere that was reeking with the black putrifying breathings of a hypocrite Blifil. One homely expostulating shrug from Strap warms the whole air which the suggestions of a gentlemanly ingratitude from his friend Random had begun to freeze. One "Lord bless us!" of Parson Adams upon the wickedness of the times, exorcises and purges off the mass of iniquity which the world-knowledge of even
a Fielding could cull out and rake together. But of the severer class of Hogarth's performances, enough, I trust, has been said to show that they do not merely shock and repulse; that there is in them the "scorn of vice" and the "pity" too; something to touch the heart, and keep alive the sense of moral beauty; the "lacrymæ rerum," and the sorrowing by which the heart is made better. If they be bad things, then is satire and tragedy a bad thing; let us proclaim at once an age of gold, and sink the existence of vice and misery in our speculations: let us
let us make believe with the children, that every body is good and happy; and, with Dr. Swift, write panegyrics upon the world. But that larger half of Hogarth's works, which were painted more for entertainment than instruction (though such was the suggestiveness of his mind that there is always something to be learnt from them), his humorous scenes,—are they such as merely to disgust and set us against our species?
The confident assertions of such a man as I consider the late Mr. Barry to have been, have that weight of authority in them which staggers at first hearing, even a long preconceived opinion. When I read his pathetic admonition concerning the shortness of life, and how much better the little leisure of it were laid out upon " that species of art which is employed about the amiable and the admirable;" and Hogarth's "method," proscribed as a 66 dangerous or worthless pursuit," I began to think there was something in it; that I might have been indulging all my life a passion for the works of this artist, to the utter prejudice of my taste and moral sense; but my first convictions gradually returned, a world of good-natured English faces came up one by one to my recollection, and a glance at the matchless Election Entertainment, which I have the happiness to have hanging up in my parlour, subverted Mr. Barry's whole theory in an instant.
In that inimitable print, (which in my judgment as far exceeds the more known and celebrated March to Finchley, as the best comedy exceeds the best farce that ever was
written,) let a person look till he be saturated, and when he has done wondering at the inventiveness of genius which could bring so many characters (more than thirty distinct classes of face) into a room and set them down at table together, or otherwise dispose them about, in so natural a manner, engage them in so many easy sets and occupations, yet all partaking of the spirit of the occasion which brought them together, so that we feel that nothing but an election time could have assembled them; having no central figure or principal group, (for the hero of the piece, the Candidate, is properly set aside in the levelling indistinction of the day, one must look for him to find him,) nothing to detain the eye from passing from part to part, where every part is alike instinct with life,—for here are no furniture-faces, figures brought in to fill up the scene like stage choruses, but all dramatis persona: when he shall have done wondering at all these faces so strongly charactered, yet finished with the accuracy of the finest miniature; when he shall have done admiring the numberless appendages of the scene, those gratuitous doles which rich genius flings into the heap when it has already done enough, the over-measure which it delights in giving, as if it felt its stores were exhaustless; the dumb rhetoric of the scenery-for tables, and chairs, and joint-stools in Hogarth are living and significant things; the witticisms that are expressed by words, (all artists but Hogarth have failed when they have endeavoured to combine two mediums of expression, and have introduced words into their pictures) and the unwritten numberless little allusive pleasantries that are scattered about; the work that is going on in the scene, and beyond it, as is made visible to the "eye of mind," by the mob which chokes up the doorway, and the sword that has forced an entrance before its master; when he shall have sufficiently admired this wealth of genius, let him fairly say what is the result left on his mind. Is it an impression of the vileness and worthlessness of his species ? or is it not the general feeling which remains, after the individual faces have ceased to act sensibly on his mind, a kindly one in favour of his species? was not the general air of the scene wholesome? did it do the heart
hurt to be among it? Something of a by a perception of the amiable? That riotous spirit to be sure is there, some tumultuous harmony of singers that are worldly-mindedness in some of the faces, a roaring out the words, "The world shall Doddingtonian smoothness which does not bow to the Assyrian throne," from the opera promise any superfluous degree of sincerity of Judith, in the third plate of the series in the fine gentleman who has been the called the Four Groups of Heads; which the occasion of calling so much good company quick eye of Hogarth must have struck off together; but is not the general cast of in the very infancy of the rage for sacred expression in the faces of the good sort? do oratorios in this country, while "Music yet they not seem cut out of the good old rock, was young;" when we have done smiling at substantial English honesty? would one fear the deafening distortions, which these treachery among characters of their expres- tearers of devotion to rags and tatters, these sion? or shall we call their honest mirth and takers of heaven by storm, in their boisterous seldom-returning relaxation by the hard mimicry of the occupation of angels, are names of vice and profligacy? That poor making,-what unkindly impression is left country fellow, that is grasping his staff behind, or what more of harsh or con(which, from that difficulty of feeling them- temptuous feeling, than when we quietly selves at home which poor men experience leave Uncle Toby and Mr. Shandy riding at a feast, he has never parted with since he came into the room), and is enjoying with a relish that seems to fit all the capacities of his soul the slender joke, which that facetious wag his neighbour is practising upon the gouty gentleman, whose eyes the effort to suppress pain has made as round as ringsdoes it shock the "dignity of human nature" to look at that man, and to sympathise with him in the seldom-heard joke which has unbent his care-worn, hard-working visage, and drawn iron smiles from it? or with that full-hearted cobbler, who is honouring with the grasp of an honest fist the unused palm of that annoyed patrician, whom the licence of the time has seated next him?
their hobby-horses about the room? The conceited, long-backed Sign-painter, that with all the self-applause of a Raphael or Correggio (the twist of body which his conceit has thrown him into has something of the Correggiesque in it), is contemplating the picture of a bottle, which he is drawing from an actual bottle that hangs beside him, in the print of Beer Street,-while we smile at the enormity of the self-delusion, can we help loving the good-humour and self-complacency of the fellow? would we willingly wake him from his dream?
I say not that all the ridiculous subjects of Hogarth have, necessarily, something in them to make us like them; some are I can see nothing "dangerous" in the indifferent to us, some in their natures contemplation of such scenes as this, or the repulsive, and only made interesting by the Enraged Musician, or the Southwark Fair, or wonderful skill and truth to nature in the twenty other pleasant prints which come painter; but I contend that there is in most crowding in upon my recollection, in which of them that sprinkling of the better nature, the restless activities, the diversified bents which, like holy water, chases away and and humours, the blameless peculiarities of disperses the contagion of the bad. They men, as they deserve to be called, rather have this in them, besides, that they bring than their "vices and follies," are held up in us acquainted with the every-day human a laughable point of view. All laughter is face,-they give us skill to detect those not of a dangerous or soul-hardening ten-gradations of sense and virtue (which escape dency. There is the petrifying sneer of a the careless or fastidious observer) in the demon which excludes and kills Love, and countenances of the world about us; and there is the cordial laughter of a man which implies and cherishes it. What heart was ever made the worse by joining in a hearty laugh at the simplicities of Sir Hugh Evans or Parson Adams, where a sense of the ridiculous mutually kindles and is kindled
prevent that disgust at common life, that tadium quotidianarum formarum, which an unrestricted passion for ideal forms and beauties is in danger of producing. In this, as in many other things, they are analogous to the best novels of Smollett or Fielding.
THE poems of G. Wither are distinguished be convicted of a libel when he named no by a hearty homeliness of manner, and a names but Hate, and Envy, and Lust, and plain moral speaking. He seems to have Avarice, is like one of the indictments in the passed his life in one continued act of an Pilgrim's Progress, where Faithful is innocent self-pleasing. That which he calls arraigned for having "railed on our noble his Motto is a continued self-eulogy of two Prince Beelzebub, and spoken contemptibly thousand lines, yet we read it to the end of his honourable friends, the Lord Old Man, without any feeling of distaste, almost the Lord Carnal Delight, and the Lord without a consciousness that we have been Luxurious." What unlucky jealousy could listening all the while to a man praising have tempted the great men of those days to himself. There are none of the cold particles appropriate such innocent abstractions to in it, the hardness and self-ends, which themselves? render vanity and egotism hateful. He seems Wither seems to have contemplated to a to be praising another person, under the degree of idolatry his own possible virtue. mask of self: or rather, we feel that it was He is for ever anticipating persecution and indifferent to him where he found the virtue martyrdom; fingering, as it were, the flames, which he celebrates; whether another's to try how he can bear them. Perhaps his bosom or his own were its chosen receptacle. premature defiance sometimes made him His poems are full, and this in particular is obnoxious to censures which he would otherone downright confession, of a generous self-wise have slipped by. seeking. But by self he sometimes means a great deal,-his friends, his principles, his country, the human race.
Whoever expects to find in the satirical pieces of this writer any of those peculiarities which pleased him in the satires of Dryden or Pope, will be grievously disappointed. Here are no high-finished characters, no nice traits of individual nature, few or no personalities. The game run down is coarse general vice, or folly as it appears in classes. A liar, a drunkard, a coxcomb, is stript and whipt; no Shaftesbury, no Villiers, or Wharton, is curiously anatomised, and read upon. But to a well-natured mind there is a charm of moral sensibility running through them, which amply compensates the want of those luxuries. Wither seems everywhere bursting with a love of goodness, and a hatred of all low and base actions. At this day it is hard to discover what parts of the poem here particularly alluded to, Abuses Stript and Whipt, could have occasioned the imprisonment of the author. Was Vice in High Places more suspicious than now? had she more power; or more leisure to listen after ill reports? That a man should
The homely versification of these Satires is not likely to attract in the present day. It is certainly not such as we should expect from a poet "soaring in the high region of his fancies, with his garland and his singing robes about him;”* nor is it such as he has shown in his Philarete, and in some parts of his Shepherds Hunting. He seems to have adopted this dress with voluntary humility, as fittest for a moral teacher, as our divines choose sober grey or black; but in their humility consists their sweetness. The deepest tone of moral feeling in them (though all throughout is weighty, earnest, and passionate) is in those pathetic injunetions against shedding of blood in quarrels, in the chapter entitled Revenge. The story of his own forbearance, which follows, is highly interesting. While the Christian sings his own victory over Anger, the Man of Courage cannot help peeping out to let you know, that it was some higher principle than fear which counselled this forbearance.
Whether encaged, or roaming at liberty, Wither never seems to have abated a jot of that free spirit which sets its mark upon his
whose singing furnishes pretence for an occasional change of metre: though the sevensyllable line, in which the main part of it is written, is that in which Wither has shown himself so great a master, that I do not know that I am always thankful to him for the exchange.
writings, as much as a predominant feature of independence impresses every page of our late glorious Burns; but the elder poet wraps his proof-armour closer about him, the other wears his too much outwards; he is thinking too much of annoying the foe to be quite easy within; the spiritual defences of Wither are a perpetual source of inward Wither has chosen to bestow upon the sunshine, the magnanimity of the modern is lady whom he commends the name of Arete, not without its alloy of soreness, and a sense or Virtue; and, assuming to himself the of injustice, which seems perpetually to gall character of Philarete, or Lover of Virtue, and irritate. Wither was better skilled in there is a sort of propriety in that heaped the "sweet uses of adversity;" he knew measure of perfections which he attributes how to extract the "precious jewel" from to this partly real, partly allegorical personthe head of the "toad," without drawing any age. Drayton before him had shadowed his of the "ugly venom" along with it. The prison notes of Wither are finer than the wood notes of most of his poetical brethren. The description in the Fourth Eclogue of his Shepherds Hunting (which was composed during his imprisonment in the Marshalsea) addressing. of the power of the Muse to extract pleasure from common objects, has been oftener quoted, and is more known, than any part of his writings. Indeed, the whole Eclogue is in a strain so much above not only what himself, but almost what any other poet has written, that he himself could not help noticing it; he remarks that his spirits had been raised higher than they were wont,
through the love of poesy." The praises of Poetry have been often sung in ancient and in modern times; strange powers have been ascribed to it of influence over animate and inanimate auditors; its force over fascinated crowds has been acknowledged; but, before Wither, no one ever celebrated its power at home, the wealth and the strength which this divine gift confers upon its possessor. Fame, and that too after death, was all which hitherto the poets had promised themselves from their art. It seems to have been left to Wither to discover that poetry was a present possession, as well as a rich reversion, and that the Muse had promise of both lives of this, and of that which was to
mistress under the name of Idea, or Perfect Pattern, and some of the old Italian lovestrains are couched in such religious terms as to make it doubtful whether it be a mistress, or Divine Grace, which the poet is
In this poem (full of beauties) there are two passages of pre-eminent merit. The first is where the lover, after a flight of rapturous commendation, expresses his wonder why all men that are about his mistress, even to her very servants, do not view her with the same eyes that he does.
"Sometime I do admire
All men burn not with desire:
Some good judgments blind should be,
She for lovers should not rest."
The Mistress of Philarete is in substance a panegyric protracted through several thousand lines in the mouth of a single speaker, The other is, where he has been comparing but diversified, so as to produce an almost her beauties to gold, and stars, and the most dramatic effect, by the artful introduction of excellent things in nature; and, fearing to some ladies, who are rather auditors than be accused of hyperbole, the common charge interlocutors in the scene; and of a boy, against poets, vindicates himself by boldly