William Hogarth is said to have been the descendant of a family originally from Kirby Thore, in Westmorland.

His grandfather was a plain yeoman, who possessed a small tenement in the vale of Bampton, a village about fifteen miles north of Kendal, in that county; and had three sons.

The eldest assisted his father in farming, and succeeded to his little freehold.

The second settled in Troutbeck, a village eight miles north west of Kendal, and was remarkable for his talent at provincial poetry.

Richard Hogarth, the third son, who was educated at St. Bees, and had kept a school in the same county, appears to have been a man of some learning. He came early to London, where he resumed his original occupation of a schoolmaster, in Ship-court in the Old Bailey, and was occasionally employed as a corrector of the press.

Mr. Richard Hogarth married in London; and our artist, and his sisters, Mary and Anne, are believed to have been the only product of the marriage.

William Hogarth was born November 10, and baptised Nov. 28, 1697, in the parish of St. Bartholomew the Great, in London; to which parish, it is said, in the Biographia Britannica, he was afterwards a benefactor.

The school of Hogarth's father, in 1712, was in the parish of St. Martin, Ludgate. In the register of that parish, therefore, the date of his death, it was natural to suppose, might be found; but the register has been searched to no purpose.

Hogarth seems to have received no other education than that of a mechanic, and his outset in life was unpropitious. Young Hogarth was bound apprentice to a silversmith (whose name was Gamble) of some eminence; by whom he was confined to that branch of the trade, which consists in engraving arms and cyphers upon the plate. While thus employed, he gradually acquired some knowledge of drawing; and, before his apprenticeship expired, he exhibited talent for caricature. "He felt the impulse of genius, and that it directed him to painting, though little apprised at that time of the mode Nature had intended he should pursue."

The following circumstance gave the first indication of the talents with which Hogarth afterwards proved himself to be so liberally endowed.

During his apprenticeship, he set out one Sunday, with two or three companions, on an excursion to Highgate. The weather being hot, they went into a public-house; where they had not long been, before a quarrel arose between some persons in the same room; from words they soon got to blows, and the quart pots being the only missiles at hand, were sent flying about the room in glorious confusion. This was a scene too laughable for Hogarth to resist. He drew out his pencil, and produced on the spot one of the most ludicrous pieces that ever was seen; which exhibited likenesses not only of the combatants engaged in the affray, but also of the persons gathered round them, placed in grotesque attitudes, and heightened with character and points of humour.

On the expiration of his apprenticeship, he entered into the academy in St. Martin's Lane, and studied drawing from the life: but in this his proficiency was inconsiderable; nor would he ever have surpassedmediocrity as a painter, if he had not penetrated through external form to character and manners. "It was character, passions, the soul, that his genius was given him to copy."

The engraving of arms and shop-bills seems to have been his first employment by which to obtain a decent livelihood. He was, however, soon engaged in decorating books, and furnished sets of plates for several publications of the time. An edition of Hudibras afforded him the first subject suited to his genius: yet he felt so much the shackles of other men's ideas, that he was less successful in this task than might have been expected. In the mean time, he had acquired the use of the brush, as well as of the pen and graver; and, possessing a singular facility in seizing a likeness, he acquired considerable employment as a portrait-painter. Shortly after his marriage, he informs us that he commenced painter of small conversation pieces, from twelve to fifteen inches in height; the novelty of which caused them to succeed for a few years. One of the earliest productions of this kind, which distinguished him as a painter, is supposed to have been a representation of Wanstead Assembly; the figures in it were drawn from the life, and without burlesque. The faces were said to bear great likenesses to the persons so drawn, and to be rather better coloured than some of his more finished performances. Grace, however, was no attribute of his pencil; and he was more disposed to aggravate, than to soften the harsh touches of Nature.