William Hogarth - «Four Times of the Day»
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.
This Print, though not quite equal to the three preceding exhibits no small share of broad humour in some of the figures. The wounded Free-mason, who, in zeal of brotherly love, has quaffed his bumpers to the Craft till he is unable to find his way home, is under the guidance of a Waiter. This has been generally considered as intended for Sir Thomas De Veil; and Mr. John Ireland, from an authenticated Portrait which he had seen, was inclined to that opinion. But Sir John Hawkins assured me that "he could discover no resemblance." When the Knight saw De Veil in his magisterial capacity, he was probably sober and sedate; here he is represented a little disguised.
The British Xantippe showering her favours from the window upon his head, may have its source in that respect which the inmates of such houses as the Rummer Tavern had for a Justice of Peace. On the resignation of Mr. Horace Walpole, in February 1738, De Veil was appointed Inspector-general of the Imports and Exports, and was so severe against the retailers of spirituous liquors, that one Allen headed a gang of rioters for the purpose of pulling down his house, and bringing to a summary punishment two informers who were there concealed. Allen was tried for this offence, and acquitted, upon the Jury's verdict declaring him lunatic. The Waiter who supports his Worship seems, from the patch upon his forehead, to have been in a recent affray; but what use he can have for a lantern it is not easy to divine, unless he is conducting his charge to some place where there is neither moonlight nor illumination.
The Salisbury flying coach, oversetting and broken by passing through the bonfire, is said to be an intended burlesque upon a right honourable Peer, who was accustomed to drive his own carriage over hedges, ditches, and rivers; and has been sometimes known to drive three or four of his maid servants into a deep water, and there leave them in the coach to shift for themselves.
The Butcher, and the little fellow, who are assisting the terrified passengers, are possibly Free and Accepted Masons. One of them seems to have a mop in his hand; the pail is out of sight.
To crown the joys of the populace, a man with a pipe in his mouth is filling a capacious hogshead with British Burgundy.
The joint operation of shaving and bleeding, performed by a drunken Apprentice on a greasy Oilman, does not seem a very natural exhibition on a rejoicing-night. The poor wretches under the Barber's bench display a sad prospect of penury and wretchedness. There is humour in the sigh and inscription; "Shaving, bleeding, and teeth drawn with a touch—ecce signum." In the distance is a cart laden with furniture, which some unfortunate tenant is removing out of the reach of his landlord's execution.
The Rummer Tavern still retains its old situation. It was then quaintly distinguished as "The New Bagnio." By the oaken boughs on the sign, and the oak-leaves in the Free-masons' hats, it seems that this rejoicing-night is the twenty-ninth of May, the anniversary of our second Charles's Restoration; that happy day when, according to our excellent old ballad, "The King enjoy'd his own again." This might be one reason for the Artist choosing a scene contiguous to the beautiful equestrian statue of Charles the First.
In the distance we see a house on fire; an accident very likely to happen on such a night as this.
In the description of this set of Plates, I have received much assistance from the labours of Mr. John Ireland.
The original Pictures of Morning and Noon were sold to the Duke of Ancaster for fifty-seven guineas; Evening and Night, to Sir W. Heathcote, for sixty-four guineas.
Pour citer cette ressource :
"William Hogarth - «Four Times of the Day»", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), juin 2013. Consulté le 30/09/2023. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/arts/peinture/william-hogarth-four-times-of-the-day