William Hogarth, First Stage of Cruelty, 1 February 1751. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts GA113
William Hogarth, Second Stage of Cruelty, 1 February 1751. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts GA113
William Hogarth, Cruelty in Perfection, 1 February 1751. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts GA113
William Hogarth, The Reward of Cruelty, 1 February 1751. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts GA113
William Hogarth (1697-1764) created this print series “in the hopes of preventing in some degree that cruel treatment of poor Animals which makes the streets of London more disagreeable to the human mind, than any thing what ever….”
The first plate finds Tom Nero (center) as a young boy torchering a dog.
While various Scenes of sportive Woe
The Infant Race employ.
And tortur’d Victims bleeding shew
The Tyrant in the boy
Behold a Youth of gentler Heart
To spare the Creature’s pain
O take, he cries — take all my Tart.
But Tears and Tart are vain.
Learn from this fair Example — You
Whom savage Sports delight
How Cruelty disgusts the view
While Pity charms the sight.
In the second plate, Nero is a young man working as a coach driver. He has been mistreating his horse, which now has a broken leg. All around them are examples of cruelty to animals on the public streets of London.
The generous Steed in hoary Age
Subdu’d by Labour lies,
And mourns a cruel Master’s rage,
While Nature Strength denies.
The tender lamb o’er drove and faint
Amidst expiring Throws
Bleats forth its innocent complaint
And dies beneath the Blows.
Inhuman Wretch! Say whence proceeds
This coward Cruelty?
What Int’rest springs from barb’rous deeds?
What Joy from Misery?
In Hogarth’s third plate, Nero has become a highway robber. He is being apprehended for killing Ann Gill, his pregnant lover.
To lawless love when once betray’d,
soon crime to crime succeeds:
At length beguil’d to theft,
the maid By her beguiler bleeds.
Yet learn, Seducing Man.’nor Night.
with all its sable Cloud.
Can screen the guilty deed from sight;
Foul Murder cries aloud.
The gaping Wounds, and blood stain’d steel.
Now shock his trembling Soul:
But Oh! what Pangs his Breast must feel.
When Death his knell shall toll.
In the final scene, Nero has been hanged and his body is being dissected in the Cutlerian theatre near Newgate prison. The public was invited to view these gruesome dissections and this scene reflects back on the first plate, where the young boys staged their own theater of gruesome operations.
Behold the Villain’s dire disgrace!
Not Death itself can end.
He finds no peaceful Burial-place;
His breathless Corse, no friend.
Torn from the Root, that nicked Tongue,
Which daily snore and curst!
Those Eyeballs, from their Sockets nrung,
That glori’d with lawless lust!
His Heart, expos’d to prying Eyes,
To Pity has no Claim:
But, dreadful! from his Bones shall rise,
His Monument of shame.