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Whoever desires to trace the life of this English artist—to note him in his apprenticeship—when he tamed, as well as his rough nature would permit, his hand to the delicate graving so cherished by his master, Ellis Gamble ; and when, freed from his apprenticeship, he sought Art through the
; stirring scenes of life, saying quaintly enough, that 'copying other men's works resembled pouring wine out of one vessel into another : there was no increase of quantity, and the flavour of the vintage was liable to evaporate : whoever would study the great, as well as the small, peculiarities of the painter who converted his thumb-nail into a palette,* and while transcribing characters and events both rapidly and faithfully, complained of his constitutional idleness :'-whenever, we say, our readers feel desirous of revelling in the biography of so diligent, so observing, so faithful, so brave a spirit, we would send them to our old friend Allan Cunningham's most interesting history of the man. Honest Allan had much in common with our great national artist : though of different countries, they sprung from the same race-sturdy yeomen; they were alike lovers of independence, fighting for the best part of life manfully and faithfully, enjoying the noble scorn of wrong, and battling for the right from the cradle to the grave. Self-educated—that is to say, educated by NATURE, which gave and nourished his high intellect and independent soul-Allan could comprehend and appre. ciate the manly bearing and stern self-reliance of the painter, whose best resources were in himself ; thus the biography of Hogarth is among
the finest examples of its class which our language supplies. Allan's sympathies were with his subject; and his knowledge also came to his aid ; for the poet was thoroughly imbued with a love of Art.
Allan Cunningham was a better disciplinarian and less prone to look for, or to care for, enjoyment than was Hogarth ; though we have many pleasant memories how he truly relished both music and conversation. But there was more sentiment in the Scottish poet, than in the English painter ; and the deep dark eyes of the Scot had more of fervour and less of sarcasm in their brightness. We repeat, Allan, of all writers, could thoroughly
* More than one anecdote is recorded of Hogarth’s habit when struck by any remarkable face, of at once marking it down on his thumb nail to preserve its remembrance for future use. His constant observation of nature and the ludicrous, and the certainty and rapidity with which he jotted down his remembrances, are narrated by many contemporaries and friends.
appreciate Hogarth ; and his biography is written con amore. He says
that, *All who love the Dramatic representations of actual life,--all who have hearts to be gladdened by humour,—all who are pleased with judicious and well directed satire,—all who are charmed with the ludicrous looks of popular folly, and all who can be moved with the pathos of human suffering, are admirers of Hogarth.' But, to our thinking, Hogarth had a calling even more elevated than the Scottish poet has given him in this eloquent summing-up of his attributes ; he is one of our greatest teachers—a TEACHER to whom is due the highest possible honour ; and the more we feel the importance of the teacher, the more we value those who teach well. .In grappling with folly and in combating with crimes, he was compelled to reveal the nature of that he proposed to satirise ; he was obliged to set up sin in its high place before he could crown it with infamy.' The times were full of internal, as well as foreign disturbance, and Hogarth's studio was no hermitage to exclude passing events or their promoters. He lived with the living moving present,—his engravings being his pleasures ; portraits, as they are now to many a high-hearted man of talent, his means of subsistence: heavy weights of mortality that fetter and clog the ascending spirit.
His controversies and encounters with the worthless Wilkes,-his defence of his own theories, *_his determined dislike to the establishment of a Royal Academy-his various other controversies-rendered his exciting course very different from that of the lonely artists of the present day, who are but too fond of living in closed studios, 'pouring,' as Hogarth would have said, pouring wine from one vessel into another, '-pondering over tales and poems for inspiration, and transcribing the worn-out models of many seasons into attitudes of bounding and varied life! Is it not wonderful
* A man who formed such strong opinions, and expressed them so boldly as Hogarth did, could scarcely escape enmity. But the virulence with which he was attacked on the subject of his famous line of beauty can scarcely be imagined at the present time. The truth was denied, or if admitted, it was declared to have been stolen from a previous author (Lomazzo); but it was in general assailed by lampoon and caricature. He was nicknamed · Painter Pug,' represented as an ill-grained cur at work ; or as a clumsy booby author, vainly endeavouring to prop his theory by a bent stick termed the line of beauty' which threatened to snap beneath so much heaviness; while others ridiculed the dauber' who wanted to prove that crookedness was beautiful. Among the many assailants, we have seen but one vindicator who chose to depict Hogarth as treating the whole affair with proper contempta
as sad, that the artist will not feel his power, will not take his own place, assume bis high standing as of old, and demand the duty of respect from the world by the just exercise of his glorious privilege ? Entertainment and information are not all the mind requires at the hand of an artist ; we wish to be elevated by contemplating what is noble,—to be warmed by the presence of the heroic,—and charmed and made happy by the light of purity and loveliness. We desire to share in the lofty movements of fine minds—to have communion with their image of what is god-like, and to take a part in the rapture of their love, and in the ecstasies of all their musings. This is the chief end of high poetry, of high painting, and high sculpture ; and the Man misunderstands the true spirit of those Arts who seeks to deprive them of a portion of their divinity, and argues that entertainment and information constitute their highest aim. ' * We have quoted this passage because it expresses our notions of the power of Art more happily than we are able to express it ; but we must add that the teaching
: ; as well as the poetic painter has much to complain of from society ; it is impossible to mingle among the higher classes ' without being struck by their indifference to every phase of British Art, -except portraiture. • Have you been to the Exhibition ? Are there many nice miniatures ? Are the portraits good ? Lady D. 's lace is perfect : Mrs. A. 's velvet is inimitable ;' such observations strike the ear with painful discord, when the mind is filled with memories of those who are brave or independent enough to look forward' with creative genius. There are many noble exceptions among our aristocracy ; but with far too great a number Art is a mere fashion.
As a people, neither our eyes nor our ears are yet opened to its instructive and elevating faculty. We mistake the outlay of money for an expenditure of sympathy.
Hogarth's portraits were almost too faithful to please his sitters : he was too truthful to flatter, even on canvas ; and the wonder is, that he achieved any popularity in this fantastic branch of his Art.t Allan Cunningham has
* Allan Cunningham. + Of his labours in the highest walk of painting much cannot be said. The scriptural pieces are failures, yet they are redeemed by traces of thought and originality, which evidence the work of a man who had but mistaken his path. He was employed to paint three large
said of him, that he regarded neither the historian's page, nor the poet's song. He was contented with the occurrences of the passing day, with the folly, or the sin of the hour : yet to the garb and fashion of the moment, he adds story and sentiment for all time. It is quite delicious to read the excuses Allan makes for the foibles of the man whose virtues had touched his own generous heart ; he confesses with great naïveté that he looked coldly—too coldly perhaps '-on foreign Art, and perhaps too fondly on his own productions ; and then adds that, 'where vanity soonest misleads the judgment, he thought wisely ; he contemplated his own works, not as things excellent in themselves, but as the rudiments of future excellence, and looked forward with the hope that some happier Hogarth would raise, on the foundation he had laid, a perfect and lasting superstructure.'
We must humbly differ from the Poet in this matter ; we believe if the characteristic cap were removed from that sturdy brow, we should find an admirable development of the organ of self-esteem. He thought as little of a future and happier Hogarth,' as he did of the old masters. He was Monarch of the Present and he knew it !
The age we live in talks much about renovation, but it is not a conservative age ; on the contrary, it would pull down Temple Bar, if it dared, to widen the passage from the Strand into Fleet Street ; and it demolishes houses, shrines of noble memories, with a total absence of respect for what it ought to honour. We never hear of an old house without a feeling that it is either going to be destroyed or modernised, and this inevitably leads to a desire to visit it immediately. Having determined on a drive to Chiswick to make acquaintance with the dwelling of Hogarth, and look upon his tomb--we became restless until it was accomplished.
We had seen, by the courtesy of Mr. Allison, the pianoforte manufacturer in Dean Street, the residence of Sir James Thornhill, whose daughter Hogarth married; the proprietor bestows most praiseworthy care on the
scriptural subjects, still remaining in St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, for which he received 500l.; and the list of his other works might be much added to. At Bourne, near Canterbury, is a large picture of a marriage ; and Mr. Haggard, of the Bank, possesses a choice group of figures which have not been engraved. It is not long since Messrs. Smith, of Lisle Street, recovered a series of his pictures; the original sketches of those destroyed in the fire at Fonthill were among them.
house, which was formerly one of considerable extent and importance. Mr. Allison
says there can be little doubt that the grounds extended into Wardour Street. Once, while removing a chimney-piece in the drawingroom a number of cards tumbled out_slips of playing cards, with the names of some of the most distinguished persons of Hogarth's time written on the backs; the residences were also given, proving that the 'gentry' then dwelt where now the poorer classes congregate. But the most interesting part of the house is the staircase, with its painted ceiling; the wall of the former is divided into three compartments, each representing a sort of ball-room back-ground, with groups of figures, life-size, looking down from a balcony; they are well preserved, and one of the ladies is thought to be a very faithful portrait of Mrs. Hogarth. Hogarth must have spent some time in that house ;—but we were resolved, despite the repute of its being old and ugly, to visit his dwelling-place at Chiswick ; and though we made the pilgrimage by a longer route than was necessary, we did not regret skirting the beautiful plantations of the Duke of Devonshire, nor enjoying the fragrance of the green meadows, which never seem so green to us, as in the vale of the Thames. The house is a tall, narrow, abrupt-looking place, close to the road-side wall of its inclosed garden ; numbers of cottage dwellings for the poor have sprung up around it, but in Hogarth's day it must have been very isolated ; not leading to the water as we had imagined, but having a dull and prison-like aspect ; if indeed any place can have that aspect where trees grow, and grass is chequered by their ever-varying shadows. The house was
occupied from 1814 to 1832 by Cary, the translator of Dante; and it would be worth a pilgrimage if considered only as the residence of this truly excellent and highly-gifted clergyman."
We have received from his son an interesting note relative to its features at the period when it came into his father's possession. The house,' he
• says, 'stands in one corner of a high-walled garden of about three quarters of an acre ; that part of the garden which faced the house was divided
* In the year 1823, Ugo Foscolo, the great poet of modern Italy (who died in exile in England) said to Mr. S. C. Hall, that in his nion Cary's Translation of Dante was the best translation that had ever been made by any author in any language.