Quote: ‘Depression’ was not a particularly common term in the eighteenth century, at least not in the modern psychological sense. Samuel Johnson in his famous Dictionary of the English Language (1755) has three definitions for the word, none of which is to do with mental dejection. Only with the verb ‘to depress’ is one definition given as ‘to humble, to deject, to sink’. While ‘depression’ was sometimes used in its modern sense during the period, other terms were far more current, including melancholy, hypochondria (and its popular versions, such as hippish), spleen, vapours, and a host of others, all expressing variants in terms of supposed cause and anticipated effect of the basic experience of ‘depression’.

From the accompanying pfd for the show currently on view at Shipley gallery, 18th Century Blues. The Image is, of course, a detail from Hogarth’s etching “The Bathos.”

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