The old Maiden Lady in this Plate is said to have been intended for the representative either of an intimate Friend, or a Relation of Hogarth; and it is added, that her introduction into the Print induced her to alter a will which had been made considerably in his favour; she was at first well enough satisfied with her resemblance. But some designing people taught her to be angry.
Be this as it may, this Lady, with a shivering Foot-boy carrying her Prayer-book, is about to attend the Morning-service; and looks with a scowling eye at the poor Girls who are suffering the embraces of two drunken Beaux that are just staggering out of Tom King's Coffee-house. One of them, from the basket on her arm, I conjecture to be an Orange-girl; she shews no displeasure at the boisterous salute of her Hibernian Lover.
That the Hero in a laced hat is from the banks of the Shannon, is apparent in his countenance. The Female, whose face is partly concealed, and whose neck has a more easy turn than we generally see in the works of this Artist, is not formed of the most inflexible materials.
An old Woman, seated upon a basket; the Girl, warming her hands by a few withered sticks that are blazing on the ground; and a wretched Mendicant, wrapped in a tattered and party-coloured blanket, entreating charity from the rosy-fingered Vestal who is going to church, complete the group. Behind them, at the door of the Coffee-house, is a party engaged in a fray likely to create business for both Surgeon and Magistrate; we discover swords and cudgels in the combatants' hands. On the opposite side of the Print are two little School-boys.
The lantern appended to the woman, who has a basket on her head, proves that these Dispensers of the riches of Pomona rise before the sun, and transact part of their business by an artificial light. Dr. Rock (who for many years attended Covent Garden every morning) is expatiating to an admiring audience, on the never-failing virtues of his wonder-working medicines. One hand holds a bottle of his miraculous panacea; the other supports a board, on which is the King's arms, to indicate that his practice is sanctioned by Royal Letters Patent. Two porringers and a spoon, placed on the bottom of an inverted basket, intimate that the woman sitting near them is a vender of rice-milk, which was at that time brought into the market every morning. A fatigued Porter leans on a rail; and a blind Beggar is going towards the Church. The clock, in the front of Inigo Jones's barn, has this motto :
"sic transit gloria mundi."
Snow on the ground, and isicles hanging from the penthouse, exhibit a very chilling prospect; but, to dissipate the cold, there is happily, at a very little distance, a shop where spirituous liquors are sold pro bono publico. A large pewter measure is placed upon a post before the door, and three of a smaller size hang over the window of the house. Extreme cold is very well expressed in the slip-shod Footboy, and the Girl who is warming her hands. The church dial, a few minutes before seven, marks of little shoes and pattens in the snow, and various productions of the season in the market, are an additional proof of that minute accuracy with which this Artist inspected and represented objects which Painters in general have neglected.
Covent Garden is the scene; but in the Print every building is reversed. This was a common error with Hogarth, not from his being ignorant of the use of the mirror, but from his considering it as a matter of little consequence.
The scene of this Plate is laid at the door of a French Chapel, in Hog-lane (now called Crown-street, Soho), a part of the town at that time almost wholly peopled by French Refugees, or their descendants.
Among the figures who are coming out of Church, an affected, flighty French woman, with the fluttering Fop of a husband, and a Boy habited a la mode de Paris, claim our first attention. In dress, air, and manner, they have a national character.
The old Fellow in a black periwig has a most vinegar-like aspect, and looks with great contempt at the frippery Gentlewoman immediately before him. The Woman with a demure countenance seems very piously considering how she can contrive to pick the embroidered Beau's pocket. Two old Sibyls are joining their withered lips in a chaste salute. The Divine seems to have resided in this kingdom long enough to acquire a roast-beef countenance. A little Boy, whose woollen night-cap is pressed over a most venerable flowing periwig, and the decrepit Old Man leaning upon a crutch stick, may be paralleled to the Peasantry of Flanders and the Plebeian youth of France. Under a sign of the Baptist's Head is written, "Good Eating;" and on each side of the inscription is a mutton-chop. Opposite to this is a distiller's with the sign of the "Good Woman."
At a window above, one of the softer sex proves her indisputable right to the title by her temperate conduct to her husband, with whom having had a little disagreement, she throws their Sunday's dinner into the street.
A Girl, bringing a pie from the bake-house, is stopped in her career by the rude embraces of a Blackamoor, who eagerly rubs his sable visage against her blooming cheek.
Good eating is carried on to the lower part of the Picture. A Boy, placing a baked pudding upon a post with rather too violent an action, the dish breaks, the fragments fall to the ground, and while he is loudly lamenting his misfortune, and with tears anticipating his punishment, the smoking remnants are eagerly snatched up by a poor Girl.
The School-boy's kite, blown from an adjacent field (for Rathbone Place, terminated by a windmill, was then the boundary of that part of the Metropolis), being entangled on the roof of the Chapel, hangs pendant against the building. This was probably introduced to break the disagreeable uniformity of a wall.
By the dial of St. Giles's Church, in the distance, we see that it is only half past eleven.
On the side of the New River, near Sadler's Wells, where the scene in this Plate is laid, lies one of the wooden pipes employed in the Water-works.
There still remains the sign of Sir Hugh Middleton’s Head, which Hogarth has here introduced.
It is not easy to imagine fatigue better delineated than in the appearance of this amiable pair. In a few of the earliest impressions, Mr. Hogarth printed the hands of the man in blue, to shew that he was a Dyer, and the face and neck of the Woman in red, to intimate her extreme heat. The Hopes of the Family, with a cockade in his hat, and riding upon papa's cane, seems much dissatisfied with female sway. Nothing can be better imagined than the group in the alehouse. They have been taking a refreshing walk into the country, and, being determined to have a cooling pipe, seat themselves in a chair-lumbered closet, with a low ceiling; where every man putting off his wig, and throwing a pocket-handkerchief over his head, inhales the fumes of hot punch, the smoke of half a dozen pipes, and the dust from the road. The old Gentleman in a black bag-wig, and the two Women near him, sensibly enough, take their seats in the open air. From a Woman milking a cow, we conjecture the hour to be about five in the afternoon: and, from the same circumstance, I am inclined to think this agreeable party are going to their pastoral bower, rather than returning from it. The cow and dog appear as much inconvenienced by heat as any of the party: the former is whisking off the flies; and the latter creeps unwillingly along, and casts a longing look at the crystal river, in which he sees his own shadow. A remarkably hot Summer is intimated by the luxuriant state of a vine creeping over an alehouse window.
This Print was engraved by Baron; but some touches of Hogarth's burin are visible on the faces. Our Artist, in this scene, inserted the little girl with the fan as an after-thought, some friend having asked him what the boy cried for; which circumstance shews that this great Genius did not think himself above advice.