Early in 1753, Hogarth presented to his friend Mr. Joshua Kirby this whimsical Satirical Design; which arose from the mistakes of Sir Edward Walpole, who was learning to draw, without being taught Perspective: an anecdote recorded by Mr. Steevens, on Sir Edward's own authority.
To point out in a strong light the errors which would be likely to happen from the want of acquaintance with those principles, Hogarth's Design was produced.
A Traveller is represented on an eminence, lighting his pipe from a candle presented to him by a Woman from a chamber-window at the distance of at least a mile. We are also astonished at the representation near it, of a Crow seated on the spray of a Tree, without incommoding by its weight the tender sprouts issuing from its branches; and our astonishment increases when we recollect that this Tree, if weighed in the balance with the Bird, would hardly be found to preponderate. The Tree on which the feathered animal is so securely stationed is, however, of a much greater height and magnitude than those which are nearer, and gradually diminish as they approach the fore-ground. The Sheep, taking example from the Trees, are very large at a distance, but regularly become minute by their proximity, the nearest being almost invisible.
Both ends of the Church, the top, and the whole extent of one side of it, are clearly seen; but the Artist has modestly declined exhibiting a back-side prospect of that venerable building. To take the view which Hogarth has represented, we must, at the same time, be above at each end, and in front of that parochial erection: but he has not been so complaisant as to favour us with the sight of the Road on the Bridge, which the Vessel seems determined to sail over, while the Waggon and Horses appear floating on the other side.
A Fellow in a Boat, nearly under the Bridge, is attempting to shoot a Swan on the other side of it, though, as he is situated, he cannot possibly have a view of the object whose destruction he pretends to be aiming at.
The Waggon and Horses, which are supposed to be on the Bridge, are more distant than the Tree which grows on the farther side.
Many other absurdities are visible in this curious Perspective View, which are too obvious to escape observation: such as the Sign-post extending to a house at the distance of half a mile, and the remote row of Trees concealing part of the nearer Sign of the Half-moon; the Angler's line interfering with another belonging to his patient Brother, though at a considerable distance from each other; and the tops and bottoms of the Barrels being equally visible.
The favour of this communication was gratefully acknowledged by Kirby, who, in 1754, prefixed it to "Dr. Brook Taylor's Method of Perspective made easy both in Theory and Practice," with a Dedication to Hogarth, who subsequently furnished him with a serious Design for the Plate next to be described.