These two Prints claim an ample Commentary; and they have had it, from Hogarth himself, in a separate quarto volume, which has been frequently re-printed in this country, and translated into German and Italian. "The Crooked Line," "he says," drew upon him a numerous band of opponents, and involved him in so many disputes, that he at length determined to write a book, explain his system, and silence his adversaries." In this Book, the leading idea of which had been hieroglyphically thrown out in a Frontispiece to his Works in 1745, he acknowledges himself indebted to his Friends for assistance; and particularly to one Gentleman, for his corrections and amendments of at least a third part of the wording. This Friend, I am assured, was Dr. Benjamin Hoadly, the Physician, who carried on the Work to about a third part, Chap. IX. and then, through indisposition, declined the friendly office with regret.
This Publication was applauded by many competent judges of its merit; and, though this is not the place for such recommendatory notices, one short Letter may be acceptable.
"Dear Sir,—I was pleased to find, by the public papers, that you have determined to give us your original and masterly thoughts on the great principles of your profession. You owe this to your Country; for you are both an honour to your profession, and a shame to that worthless crew, professing vertu and connoisseurship, to whom all that grovel in the splendid poverty of wealth and taste are the miserable bubbles. I beg you would give me leave to contribute my mite towards this work, and permit the enclosed to entitle me to a subscription for two copies. I am, dear Sir, with a true sense of your superior talents, Your very affectionate humble Servant, W. Warburton."
In the First of these Plates the fat personage (fig. 19) dressed in a Roman habit, and elevated on a pedestal, was designed, as Hogarth himself acknowledged, for a ridicule on Quin in the character of Coriolanus. Essex, the Dancing-master, is also represented in the act of endeavouring to reduce the graceful attitude of Antinous to modern stiffness. Fig. was likewise meant for the celebrated Desnoyer dancing in a grand ballet. The earliest copies of this Plate had an impression with "Et Tu, Brute" engraved on the pedestal on which Qnin stands. This inscription was afterwards erased.
The Second Plate is found in three different states. In the original Plate the principal figure represented the late King, then Prince of Wales; but Hogarth was requested to alter it. The present Figure is said to have been taken for the late Duke of Kingston; yet, though like him, is stiff, and far from graceful. The changes repeatedly made as to the two principal figures are numerous. It may, however, be sufficient to point out some single circumstance in each, that may serve as a mark of distinction. In the first, the principal Female has scarcely any string to her necklace ; in the second it is lengthened; and still more considerably increased in the third. In the first and second editions also of this Plate, between the young Lord and his Partner, and just under the figure of the man who is pointing out to a Lady the stateliness of King Henry the Eighth, is a vacant easy chair. In the third Impression, this chair is occupied by a person asleep. Mr. Steevens says, "that this Country-dance was originally meant to have formed one of the scenes in The Happy Marriage. The old Gentleman hastening away his Daughter, while the Servant is putting on his spatterdashes seems to countenance the supposition; and, having since examined the original sketch in oil, I observe that the Dancing-room is terminated by a large old-fashioned bow-window, a circumstance perfectly consistent with the scenery of the wedding described in the Analysis by Hogarth. The Couple designed for specimens of Grace appear, not where they stand in the Print, but at the upper end of the room; and so little versed was our Painter in the etiquette of a wedding-ball, that he has represented the Bride dancing with the Bridegroom. As different fashions, however, prevail at different times, this observation may be wrong. Mr. Walpole observes, that Hogarth's samples of grace, a young Lord and Lady, are strikingly stiff and affected: they are a Bath Beau and a Country Beauty. Dr. Beattie, speaking of the modes of combination, by which incongruous qualities may be presented to the eye, or the fancy, so as to provoke laughter, observes, "A Country-dance of men and women, like those exhibited by Hogarth in his Analysis of Beauty, could hardly fail to make a beholder merry, whether he believed their union to be the effect of design or accident. Most of those persons have incongruities of their own, in their shape, dress, or attitude; and all of them are incongruities in respect of one another: thus far the assemblage displays contrariety, or want of relation. And they are all united in the same dance; and thus far they are mutually related. And, if we suppose the two elegant figures removed, which might be done without lessening the ridicule, we should not easily discern any contrast of dignity and meanness in the group that remains."