I Mills after William Hogarth
London, J & J Boydell 1796
An engraving of the first and un-published draft for Hogarth’s Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism. A Medley. A complicated, densely packed caricature displaying Hogarth’s contempt and cynicism for all Non Conformist religious practice. The scene is the interior of a Methodist Meeting House, probably George Whitfield’s Tabernacle just off the north end of Tottenham Court Rd. In the tall pulpit, panelled with high relief figures of Sir George Villiers, Julius Caesar stuck all over with daggers and the ghost of Mrs Veal carrying a candle, the minister (supposedly a portrait of Whitfield) is evidently preaching a hellfire sermon. His wig flies off the reveal a Catholic monk’s tonsure and his robe flaps open to display a harlequin’s suit underneath. From one hand he dangles a puppet of the Devil carrying a gridiron and from the other is a witch and her cat astride a broomstick. A seraph floats in a cloud above his head holding in its teeth a paper inscribed To St. Money Trap and beside the preacher hangs a decibel meter with the indicator set at Bull Roar. At the desk beneath the pulpit is a grimacing clerk surrounded by more winged seraphs, all heartily singing a Hymn by G. Whitfield, while in the pew on the right a small devil whispers in the ear of a sleeping man and a man slips a small plaster saint into the exposed bosom of an amorous woman. On the extreme right a large brain rests on top of a volume of Wesley’s Sermons and Glanvil on Witches. From it emerges a large thermometer with Luke Warm marked as normal but which rises on either side from Low Spirits to Suicide and on the other from Love Heat to Raving Madness. Beneath the Clerk’s desk sits a small ragged chimney sweep, the Boy of Bilston, famous for spewing forth nails and bits of iron and in the foreground is the famous image of Mary Tofts giving birth to a litter of baby rabbits. Behind her stands a converted Jew with a bloody knife on his desk, while the congregation in the background seem to be composed of notorious criminals and whores. A bearded Mohommedan peers through the window and the chandelier (which also has horrific goggle eyes and a gaping mouth) is A New and Correct Globe of Hell by Romaine.