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The emotions thermometer of William Hogarth


The emotions thermometer of William Hogarth


Religious enthusiasm. Emotionalist (Methodist) preaching. Anticlerical satire in 18th-century England


A detail from William Hogarth’s engraving Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism: A Medley. This powerful satirical work concerns the enthusiasm and even madness of religious worship and zeal. More specifically it focuses on the emotionalism often to be found in Methodist preaching. Near the pulpit is a sonometer called “W[hitefiel]d’s Scale of Vociferation,” a reference to George Whitefield, the most prominent Methodist preacher of the age, who was famous for his powerful voice. The instrument hangs from a screaming mouth inscribed “Blood, Blood, Blood, Blood,” an allusion to Whitefield’s use of repetition for dramatic effect. The emotions thermometer sticks out of a “Methodist’s Brain” and measures states of insanity, ranging from melancholic conditions such as “Low Spirits,” “Settled Grief,” and “Suicide” to hot states of sexual excitement


William Hogarth (1697–1764)


This artwork is in the public domain. []

Suggestions for further reading:
Bernd Krysmanski, “We See a Ghost: Hogarth’s Satire on Methodists and Connoisseurs,” The Art Bulletin 80/2 (1998), 292–310; Ronald Paulson, Hogarth’s Harlot: Sacred Parody in Enlightenment England (Baltimore 2003) 289–90; Colin Haydon, Anti-Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England c. 1714-80 (Manchester UP: 1993), pp. 46-47.


1762  (Credulity, Superstition, and Fanaticism is a reworking of Enthusiasm Delineated, engraved on the same copperplate a year earlier)


Giovanni Tarantino

(Uploaded by Ciara Rawnsley)


This artwork is in the public domain.  (

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