The Works of William Hogarth, by John Trusler

The Harlot’s Progress.

Plate V.

With keen remorse, deep sighs, and trembling fears

Repentant groans, and unavailing tears,

This child of misery resigns her breath,

And sinks, despondent, in the arms of death.

Released from Bridewell, we now see this victim to her own indiscretion breathe her last sad sigh, and expire in all the extremity of penury and wretchedness. The two quacks, whose injudicious treatment, has probably accelerated her death, are vociferously supporting the infallibility of their respective medicines, and each charging the other with having poisoned her. The meagre figure is a portrait of Dr. Misaubin, a foreigner, at that time in considerable practice.

These disputes, it has been affirmed, sometimes happen at a consultation of regular physicians, and a patient has been so unpolite as to die before they could determine on the name of his disorder.

“About the symptoms how they disagree,

But how unanimous about the fee!”

While the maid servant is entreating them to cease quarrelling, and assist her dying mistress, the nurse plunders her trunk of the few poor remains of former grandeur. Her little boy, turning a scanty remnant of meat hung to roast by a string; the linen hanging to dry; the coals deposited in a corner; the candles, bellows, and gridiron hung upon nails; the furniture of the room; and indeed every accompaniment; exhibit a dreary display of poverty and wretchedness. Over the candles hangs a cake of Jew’s Bread, once perhaps the property of her Levitical lover, and now used as a fly-trap. The initials of her name, M. H. are smoked upon the ceiling as a kind of memento mori to the next inhabitant. On the floor lies a paper inscribed “anodyne necklace,” at that time deemed a sort of charm against the disorders incident to children; and near the fire, a tobacco-pipe, and paper of pills.

A picture of general, and at this awful moment, indecent confusion, is admirably represented. The noise of two enraged quacks disputing in bad English; the harsh, vulgar scream of the maid servant; the table falling, and the pot boiling over, must produce a combination of sounds dreadful and dissonant to the ear. In this pitiable situation, without a friend to close her dying eyes, or soften her sufferings by a tributary tear; forlorn, destitute, and deserted, the heroine of this eventful history expires! her premature death, brought on by a licentious life, seven years of which had been devoted to debauchery and dissipation, and attended by consequent infamy, misery, and disease. The whole story affords a valuable lesson to the young and inexperienced, and proves this great, this important truth, that a deviation from virtue is a departure from happiness.

The emaciated appearance of the dying figure, the boy’s thoughtless inattention, and the rapacious, unfeeling eagerness of the old nurse, are naturally and forcibly delineated.

The figures are well grouped; the curtain gives depth, and forms a good back-ground to the doctor’s head; the light is judiciously distributed, and each accompaniment highly appropriate.


The Harlot’s Progress.
Plate 5.
Expires While the Doctors are Disputing.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hogarth/william/trusler/chapter20.html

Last updated Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 11:28