"Mr. John Festin, the first hautboy and German flute of his time, had numerous scholars, to each of whom he devoted an hour every day. At nine in the morning he attended Mr. Spencer, grandfather to the present excellent Earl of that name. If Mr. Spencer happened to be out of town on any day, Festin devoted that hour to some other pupil. One morning he waited on Mr. Vernon, afterwards Lord Vernon. He was not up; but Festin went into his chamber, and opening the shutter of a window sat down in it.
The figure with the hautboy was playing under the window. A man with a barrow-full of onions came up to the player, sat on the edge of his barrow, and said to the man, "If you will play the Black Joke, I will give you this onion!" The man played it. When he had so done, the man again desired him to play some other tune, and then he would give him another onion; 'This,' said Festin to a friend, 'highly angered me: I cried out, 'z—ds, Sir, stop here. This fellow is ridiculing my profession: he is playing on the hautboy for onions.' Being intimate with Mr. Hogarth, Festin mentioned the circumstance to him, which, as he said, was the origin of 'The Enraged Musician.' The fact may be depended upon. Mr. Festin was himself the Enraged Performer."
The story is here told just as he related it to a Clergyman, in whose words the Reader now receives it.
Notwithstanding the minuteness of the above particulars, Cervetto, well known at the Theatre by the name of "Nosee," has been supposed to have been intended for the Musician; whilst others apply it to Dr. Arne, whose figure and face bore a near resemblance to the Print.
The wretched figure playing on a hautboy was at that time well known about the streets.
The scene is thought to have been taken from the lower part of St. Martin's-lane; and the Steeple to be that of St. Martin's Church.
Hogarth, however, made several alterations and additions on this Plate when it appeared to be finished. He changed in some measure all the countenances, and indeed the entire head and limbs of the Chimney-sweeper, who had originally a Grenadier's cap on. Miss had also a Doll, significantly placed under the trap composed of bricks, near which some sprigs from a tree are set in the ground, the whole contrivance being designed by some boy for the purpose of taking birds—but, when occupied by Miss's play-thing, became emblematic of the art of catching men. The Play-bill, Sow-gelder, Cats, Drag, &c. were not introduced, nor the Pewterer's advertisement, nor the Steeple in which the Ringers are supposed to be employed.
It is remarkable that the Dustman was without a nose. The proofs of the Plate in this condition are scarce.
Of this Print it has been quaintly said, "that it deafens one to look at it." Mr. Walpole is of opinion that it" tends to farce." Rouquet says of it, "Le Musicien est un Italien, que les cris de Londres font enrager."