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Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism. A Medley. after William Hogarth
Original copper-engraved print, published 1805 by Thomas Cook. Framed with gold slip.
In this image Hogarth ridicules secular and religious credulity, and questions the exaggerated religious "enthusiasm" of the Methodist movement. The print was originally engraved in 1761, with the title Enthusiasm Delineated, but never published. Hogarth reworked the engraving before publishing it on 15 March 1762 as Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism: A Medley.
It shows a preacher speaking to a church congregation from the top of a high pulpit. His text is opened at a page which reads "I speak as a fool", and he is wearing a Harlequin jacket under his gown. The print includes visual references to more than a dozen reputed instances of witchcraft, possession and apparitions in England. In a box pew at the foot of the pulpit, another clergyman pushes an icon of the Cock Lane ghost down the shirt of a young lady in the throes of religious ecstasy. The "Poors Box" has grown cobwebs and to the right, standing on copies of John Westley's Sermons, and Glanvill's Book of Witches, a religious thermometer measures the emotional states of a brain. On top of the thermometer is an image of the Cock Lane ghost, and the Drummer of Tedworth.
The congregation are in various states of ecstasy, grief and horror. Another minister sings, accompanied by weeping cherubs. A shoe-black vomits nails and pins, a reference to the boy of Bilson, who ate metal items
This scene of madness is watched by a turbaned Turk, quietly smoking a pipe, and thanking the prophet that he is a Muslim.
Above the congregation is suspended "A New and Correct Globe of Hell by Romaine". William Romaine being a leading figure of eighteenth-century Evangelicalism.