By the time Hogarth published his print “Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism” in 1762, belief in witches and apparitions had all but disappeared among the educated classes. Joseph Glanvill’s once famous book, Saducismus Triumphatus: or Full and Plain Evidence concerning Witches and Apparitions, published with Henry More’s copious annotations three times in the seventeenth century and twice more in the eighteenth, had become an object of curiosity, a relic of those past popular delusions ridiculed in the age of Enlightenment. Once credited with putting ‘the belief in apparitions and witchcraft on an unshakable basis of science and philosophy’.1 Glanvill’s book appears in Hogarth’s picture as the ultimate source of that credulity, superstition, and fanaticism delineated by the artist so carefully and so critically. Placed in the bottom right-hand corner, Glanvill’s work provides a platform, first, for Wesley’s Sermons and, then, for a human heart in which a thermometer has been inserted with degrees of heat registered in terms of passions and mental disorders. The scale begins with suicide, madness and despair and ends in lust, ecstasy, convulsive fits, and raving. Superstition and credulity, represented by Glanvill and Wesley, thus provide the foundation for the varying degrees of insanity and fanaticism depicted by Hogarth.


Seventeenth Century Innate Idea Sceptical Argument External Sense Experimental Philosophy 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1990

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  • Allison Coudert

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