The Rake's Progress, Plate VIII

William Hogarth (1697-1764). The Rake's Progress, Plate VIII "Scene in Bedlam," engraved by H. Fernell. Source: Complete Works, facing p. 102. Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]

According to the commentary by the Rev. J. Trusler and E. F. Roberts,

See our hero, then, in the scene before us, raving in all the dismal horrors of hopeless insanity, in the hospital of Bethlehem [London, corrupted to "Bedlam"], the senate of mankind, where each man may find a representative: there we behold him trampling on the first great law of nature — tearing himself to pieces with his own hands, and chained by the leg to prevent any further mischief he might either do to himself or others. But in this sense, dreary and horrid as are its accompaniments, he is attended by the faithful and kind-hearted female whom he so basely betrayed. In the first plate we see him refuse her his promised hand. In the fourth, she releases him from the harpy fangs of a bailiff; she is present at his marriage; and in the hope of relieving his distress, she follows him to a prison. [103]

Various other inmates offer Hogarthian studies in madness: one man (extreme left) gives himself over to the insanity of religion; another (a lampoon of science) drawing lines upon the wall, seems to be trying to calculate the longitude of the place, while another would-be scientist pretends a roll of paper is a telescope (centre). "This melancholy group is completed by the crazy tailor, who is staring at the mad astronomer with a sort of wild astonishment . . . ."


Complete works of William Hogarth ; in a series of one hundred and fifty superb engravings on steel, from the original pictures / with an introductory essay by James Hannay, and descriptive letterpress, by the Rev. J. Trusler and E.F. Roberts. London and New York: London Printing and Publishing Co., c.1870.

Paulson, Ronald. Hogarth: His Life, Art and Times, 2 vols. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1971.

Last modified 9 September 2004