Hogarth’s Harlot Reveals All – Part 6.2

A naughty clergyman, the virgin, and ‘Father Time’ – what can Hogarth reveal now?!

In the final scene of A Harlot’s Progress we find a rather vulgar scenario. Most commentators have skirted around it:

– ‘The clergyman’s hand is hidden up the skirt of the prostitute beside him’

– ‘His fingers make tentative explorations among his neighbour’s petticoats’

– ‘She coyly hides his groping with her hat.’

– ‘His left hand spills the wine; his right. I blush to add, is out of sight.’

Observe the glass which the minister holds above his groin. It stands in for his erection. The form of his handkerchief spills down his front, representing his ejaculate.

Hogarth actually created this salacious scene in order to parody a well-known Masonic statue which is often found at the graves of Freemasons. It has the following inscription: 

‘A beautiful virgin, weeping over a broken column…in her hand a sprig of acacia…behind her stands Father Time, unfolding and counting the ringlets of her hair.’

– Duncan’s Monitor, (1866).

Figure 1 – ‘The Weeping Virgin’ statue is associated with the Master Mason’s Degree, and is often found at Masonic graves. Far right, the Masonic Lodge in Mendocino, CA has this statue adorning their lodge building.


IMAGE CREDIT:  from the author

The statue is also called ‘The Beautiful Virgin of the Third Degree’.

It is appropriate that Hogarth included a version of this funerary monument beside the Harlot’s coffin, as this scene is a depiction of this particular degree.

Hogarth left us many clues to show he was thinking of this particular statue when he added this couple in the corner.

The young prostitute is thebeautiful virgin’. A beauty spot in the corner of her eye makes her seem to ‘weep’.

She holds her ‘sprig of acacia’ which many non-Masons took for rosemary.

The horny minister is ‘Father Time’. His phallic wineglass is his ‘broken column’.

The reason for his premature ejaculation is the real vulgar joke here. The minister has his hand up her skirts, ‘unfolding and counting the ringlets of her [pubic] hair’!

The Harlot’s maid looks angrily at the horny clergyman (and his ‘Masonic Upskirting’)! She grips a bottle as if it were a weapon.

The ‘onion bottle’ is very similar to a most important Masonic prop – the ‘setting maul’.

It is mentioned a dozen times inDuncan’s Monitor, and is allegedly used as a weapon in the Third Degree.

Figure 2 – The ‘onion bottle’ is a similar shape to the setting maul mentioned a dozen times in the Third Degree.


IMAGE CREDIT:  from the author

Compare the maid’s bottle to these pictures of Masonic mauls.

Indeed the one on the far right is meant as a flagon – it contains whisky! The one next to it was used by Sir Christopher Wren when he was Grand Master.

It is a relic to Freemasons, and was recently used in the 300th anniversary ceremony of the Grand Lodge of England.

Hogarth successfully disguised the shape of the maul within the scene.

In last month’s article, I showed how he concealed the shape of the square and the compass within the door frame and glove stretcher respectively.

Another important tool of the stone mason was his trowel. Hogarth hides a similar shape within the shield (’escutcheon’) that hangs over the coffin.

Hogarth hinted at its Masonic connection by drawing three trowels in the same form as the arms of the Worshipful Company of Masons.

Figure 3 – Trowels in a harlot’s shield compared to the arms of the Worshipful Company of Masons, which were granted in 1472.


IMAGE CREDIT:  from the author

Early commentators thought that this shield was out of place at a prostitute’s funeral.

I believe Hogarth added many such details in order to hide various working tools within the scene.

Hogarth would have wanted to work in the square, plumb and level into the scene. These three tools are mentioned many times within Duncan’s Monitor.

The form of a Mason’s square can be detected in the door jamb. The hinges of the screen make the shape of a plumb rule.

The form of the mason’s level is similar to the shape of the mirror on the right.

Figure 4 – Square, plumb rule and level are hinted at in the scene.


IMAGE CREDIT:  from the author

A plumb line has been disguised as a spinning top with which the Harlot’s son is playing. There is a plumb line included in an illustration from the Constitutions of Freemasonry, (1769).

It is labelled the Tools of the Fellowcraft.

This poor orphaned boy, born to a single mother, might make you think of a ‘widow’s son’.

The termwidow’s son’ is mentioned frequently within the text of the Third Degree ritual, along with the words ‘coffin’ and ‘acacia’.

Figure 5 – The ‘Widow’s son’ plays with a spinning top which represents a plumb line as seen in this illustration from Constitutions of Freemasonry, (1769)


IMAGE CREDIT:  from the author

Other symbols take a little more explaining (rough and smooth ashlar, mosaic pavement, moon etc.,)

They are detailed in my book (www.brotherhogarth.com). I also explain why there is a broken lattice window, and the significance of the seven roof rafters.

Figure 6 – Funeral director and brothel keeper are actually famous people of the time


IMAGE CREDIT:  from the author

Next month I will reveal the identities of two famous characters within the scene. You may be a little surprised to find out who they are!

Artist: William Hogarth (1697-1764)

William Hogarth was made a Mason at the Hand and Apple Tree Lodge in Little Queen Street, Holborn, London c1725-28.

He later joined the Bear and Harrow in Butcher Row, known later as the ‘Corner Stone’ Lodge 4, and then Grand Steward’s Lodge. He designed a jewel known as ‘Hogarth’s Jewel’, it remained in continual use into the nineteenth century.

Hogarth was a prolific English painter whose scenes often demonstrated a satirical depiction of 18th century life.

He was responsible for the Copyright Act passed by Parliament in 1735 also known as the Hogarth Act.

Artwork: Tim Fowler

Many more details from the other scenes are explained in my book William Hogarth – A Freemason’s Harlot which is available from my website www.brotherhogarth.com.

Email me at Brotherhogarth@gmail.com. I can show you how many of Hogarth’s other works were Masonically themed.

Recent Articles:

June 2021

Hogarth’s Harlot Reveals All – Part 6

With our protagonist (the Harlot) lying in her casket, what next for the Widow’s Son?  …read more

May 2021

Hogarth’s Harlot Reveals All – Part 5

In last month’s instalment, our Harlot is found in prison doing forced labour. In this instalment the Harlot dies!  …read more

April 2021

Hogarth’s Harlot Reveals All – Part 4

This month we find her in prison doing forced labour. So why, you may ask, is she dressed so finely? This sudden change of costume confused many commentators over the centuries.  …read more

March 2021

Hogarth’s Harlot Reveals All – Part 3

Brother Hogarth gives us another bawdy glimpse into the salacious world of the ‘Harlot’s Progress’, and the tantalising Masonic symbolism hidden within! Can you spot the clues?  …read more

February 2021

Hogarth’s Harlot Reveals All – Part 2

The second instalment in the series looking at the hidden Masonic symbolism within Brother Hogarth’s works – what can you find?  …read more

January 2021

Hogarth’s Harlot Reveals All – Part 1

A new series looking at the hidden Masonic symbolism within Brother Hogarth’s works – what can you find?  …read more

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