There is an earlier and less well-known work by Hogarth depicting Mary Toft, which he produced in 1726 when she was at the height of her fame. Although it's not a great work of art, there is at least one sense in which the earlier picture is more interesting than the later one. Rather than Methodists (who have always struck me as rather harmless) Hogarth's satire is directed at supposedly intelligent and educated individuals who "want to believe"... and hence are easily duped by hoaxers.
The three Wise Men attending at the birth (not an original idea, of course) are labelled A, B and C:
- Wise Man A is captioned as "The Dancing Master or Preternatural Anatomist", and he is exclaiming "A Great Birth!"
- Wise Man B, "An Occult Philosopher searching into the depth of things", is pictured with his hand up the subject's skirt, saying "It pouts, it swells, it spreads, it comes!"
- Wise Man C, who is exclaiming "A Sooterkin!" is labelled "The Sooterkin Doctor Astonished".