« AnteriorContinuar »
Mufes to whom his future life was to be devoted, and covered
"Lauroque, collataque myrto,
"Non fine Diis animofus infans." MALONE.
where a monument is placed in the wall.] He is reprefented under an arch, in a fitting pofture, a cushion spread before him, with a pen in his right hand, and his left rested on a fcroll of paper. The following Latin diftich is engraved under
Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
The first fyllable in Socratem is here made fhort, which cannot be allowed. Perhaps we should read Sophoclem. Shakspeare is then appofitely compared with a dramatick author among the ancients: but till it should be remembered that the elogium is lessened while the metre is reformed; and it is well known that fome of our early writers of Latin poetry were uncommonly negligent in their profody, especially in proper names. The thought of this diftich, as Mr. Tollet obferves, might have been taken from The Faery Queene of Spenfer, B. II. c. ix. ft. 48, and c. x. ft. 3.
To this Latin infcription on Shakspeare fhould be added the lines which are found underneath it on his monument:
"Stay, paffenger, why doft thou go fo faft?
"Read, if thou canft, whom envious death hath plac'd
æt. 53, die 23 Apri. STEEVENS.
It appears from the Verfes of Leonard Digges, that our author's monument was erected before the year 1623. It has been engraved by Vertue, and done in mezzotinto by Miller.
A writer in The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. XXIX. p. 267, fays, there is as ftrong a resemblance between the buft at Stratford, and the portrait of our author prefixed to the first folio edition of his plays, "as can well be between a statue and a picture." To me (and I have viewed it several times with a good deal of attention) it appeared in a very different light. When I went laft to Stratford, I carried with me the only genuine prints of Shakspeare that were then extant, and I could not trace any refemblance between them and this figure. There is a pertness
in the countenance of the latter totally differing from that placid Composure and thoughtful gravity, fo perceptible in his original Portrait and his beft prints. Our poet's monument having been erected by his fon-in-law, Dr. Hall, the ftatuary probably had the affiftance of fome picture, and failed only from want of 1kill to copy it.
Mr. Granger obferves, (Biog. Hift. Vol. I. p. 259,) that "it has been faid there never was an original portrait of Shakspeare, but that Sir Thomas Clarges after his death caused a portrait to be drawn for him from a person who nearly resembled him." This entertaining writer was a great collector of anecdotes, but not always very fcrupulous in inquiring into the authenticity of the information which he procured; for this improbable tale, Ifind, on examination, ftands only on the infertion of an anonymous writer in The Gentleman's Magazine, for Auguft, 1759, who boldly" affirmed it as an abfolute fact;" but being afterwards publickly called upon to produce his authority, never produced any. There is the strongest reafon therefore to presume it a forgery.
"Mr. Walpole (adds Mr. Granger) informs me, that the only original picture of Shakspeare is that which belonged to Mr. Keck, from whom it paffed to Mr. Nicoll, whose only daughter married the Marquis of Caernarvon" [now Duke of Chandos].
From this picture, his Grace, at my requeft, very obligingly permitted a drawing to be made by that excellent artist Mr. Ozias Humphry; and from that drawing the print prefixed to the prefent edition has been engraved.
In the manufcript notes of the late Mr. Oldys, this portrait is faid to have been "painted by old Cornelius Janfen." “Others,” he adds, "fay, that it was done by Richard Burbage the player;" and in another place he afcribes it to " John Taylor, the player." This Taylor, it is faid in The Critical Review for 1770, left it by will to Sir William D'Avenant. But unluckily there was no player of the chriftian and furname of John Taylor, contemporary with Shakspeare. The player who performed in Shakspeare's company, was Jofeph Taylor. There was, however, a painter of the name of John Taylor, to whom in his early youth it is barely poffible that we may have been indebted for the only original portrait of our author; for in the Picture-Gallery at Oxford are two portraits of Taylor the WaterPoet, and on each of them" John Taylor pinx. 1655." There appears fome resemblance of manner between these portraits and the picture of Shakspeare in the Duke of Chandos's collection. That picture (I exprefs the opinion of Sir Joshua Reynolds) has not the leaft air of Cornelius Jansen's performances.
That this picture was once in the poffeffion of Sir Wm. D'Ave
nant is highly probable; but it is much more likely to have been purchafed by him from fome of the players after the theatres were thut up by authority, and the veterans of the flage were reduced to great diftrefs, than to have been bequeathed to him by the perfon who painted it; in whofe cuftody it is improbable that it thould have remained. Sir William D'Avenant appears to have died infolvent. There is no Will of his in the Prerogative-Office; but administration of his effects was granted to John Otway, his principal creditor, in May 1668. After his death, Betterton the actor bought it, probably at a publick fale of his effects. While it was in Betterton's poffeflion, it was engraved by Vandergucht, for Mr. Rowe's edition of Shakspeare, in 1709. Betterton made no will, and died very indigent. He had a large collection of portraits of actors in crayons, which were bought at the fale of his goods, by Bullfinch the Printfeller, who fold them to one Mr. Sykes. The portrait of Shakspeare was purchafed by Mrs. Barry the actress, who fold it afterwards for 40 guineas to Mr. Robert Keck. In 1719, while it was in Mr. Keck's poffeffion, an engraving was made from it by Vertue: a large half-fheet. Mr. Nicoll of Colney-Hatch, Middlefex, marrying the heiress of the Keck family, this picture devolved to him; and while in his poffeflion, it was, in 1747, engraved by Houbraken for Birch's Illuftrious Heads. By the marriage. of the Duke of Chandos with the daughter of Mr. Nicoll, it be. came his Grace's property.
Sir Godfrey Kneller painted a picture of our author, which he presented to Dryden, but from what picture he copied, I am unable to ascertain, as I have never feen Kneller's picture. The poet repaid him by an elegant copy of Verfes.-See his Poems, Vol. II. p. 231, edit. 1743:
Shakspeare, thy gift, I place before my fight,
"Bids thee, through me, be bold; with dauntless breaft
"Like his, thy criticks in the attempt are loft,
"When moft they rail, know then, they envy moft." It appears from a circumftance mentioned by Dryden, that these verses were written after the year 1683: probably after Rymer's book had appeared in 1693. Dryden having made no will, and his wife Lady Elizabeth renouncing, adminiftration was granted on the 10th of June, 1700, to his fon Charles, who was drowned in the Thames near Windfor in 1704. His younger
brother, Erasmus, fucceeded to the title of Baronet, and died without iffue in 1711; but I know not what became of his effects, or where this picture is now to be found.
About the year 1725 a mezzotinto of Shakspeare was scraped by Simon, faid to be done from an original picture painted by Zouft or Soeft, then in the poffeffion of T. Wright, painter, in Covent Garden. The earliest known picture painted by Zouft in England, was done in 1657; so that if he ever painted a picture of Shakspeare, it must have been a copy. It could not however have been made from D'Avenant's picture, (unless the painter took very great liberties,) for the whole air, drefs, difpofition of the hair, &c. are different. I have lately feen a picture in the poffeffion of Douglas, Efq. at Teddington near Twickenham, which is, I believe, the very picture from which Simon's mezzotinto was made. It is on canvas, (about 24 inches by 20,) and fomewhat fmaller than the life.
The earliest print of our poet that appeared, is that in the titlepage of the first folio edition of his works, 1623, engraved by Martin Droefhout. On this print the following lines, addreffed TO THE READER, were written by Ben Jonfon:
"This figure that thou here feest put,
"Not on his picture, but his book."
Droefhout engraved alfo the heads of John Fox the martyrologift, Montjoy Blount, fon of Charles Blount Earl of Devonshire, William Fairfax, who fell at the fiege of Frankendale in 1621, and John Howfon, Bishop of Durham. The portrait of Bishop Howfon is at Chrift Church, Oxford. By comparing any of thefe prints (the two latter of which are well executed) with the original pictures from whence the engravings were made, a better judgment might be formed of the fidelity of our author's portrait, as exhibited by this engraver, than from Jonson's affertion, that "in this figure
the graver had a ftrife
"With nature to out-do the life;"
a compliment which in the books of that age was paid to fo many engravers, that nothing decifive can be inferred from it — It does not appear from what picture this engraving was made: but from the dress, and the fingular difpofition of the hair, &c.
it undoubtedly was engraved from a picture, and probably a very ordinary one. There is no other way of accounting for the great difference between this print of Droefhout's, and his fpirited portraits of Fairfax and Bishop Howfon, but by fuppofing that the picture of Shakspeare from which he copied was a very coarse performance.
The next print in point of time is, according to Mr. Walpole and Mr. Granger, that executed by J. Payne, a scholar of Simon Pass, in 1634; with a laurel-branch in the poet's left-hand. A print of Shakspeare by fo excellent an engraver as Payne, would probably exhibit a more perfect representation of him than any other of thofe times; but I much doubt whether any fuch ever exifted. Mr. Granger, I apprehend, has erroneously attributed to Payne the head done by Marshall in 1640, (apparently from Droefhout's larger print,) which is prefixed to a spurious edition of Shakspeare's Poems publifhed in that year. In Marshall's print the poet has a laurel branch in his left hand. Neither Mr. Walpole, nor any of the other great collectors of prints, are poffeffed of, or ever faw, any print of Shakspeare by Payne, as far as I can learn.
Two other prints only remain to be mentioned; one engraved by Vertue in 1721, for Mr. Pope's edition of our author's plays in quarto; faid to be engraved from an original picture in the poffeffion of the Earl of Oxford; and another, a mezzotinto, by Earlom, prefixed to an edition of King Lear, in 1770; faid to be done from an original by Cornelius Janfen, in the collection of Charles Jennens, Efq. but Mr. Granger justly obferves, " as it is dated in 1610, before Janfen was in England, it is highly probable that it was not painted by him, at leaft, that he did not paint it as a portrait of Shakspeare."
Moft of the other prints of Shakspeare that have appeared, were copied from fome or other of those which I have mentioned. MALONE.
"The portrait palmed upon Mr. Pope" (I use the words of the late Mr. Oldys, in a MS. note to his copy of Langbaine,) "for an original of Shakspeare, from which he had his fine plate engraven, is evidently a juvenile portrait of King James I." I am no judge in these matters, but only deliver an opinion, which if ill-grounded may be eafily overthrown. The portrait, to me at least, has no traits of Shakspeare. STEEVENS.
2 On his grave-flone underneath is, Good friend, &c.] This epitaph is expreffed in the following uncouth mixture of small and capital letters:
"Good Frend for Iefus SAKE forbeare
fpares TEs Stones
moves my Bones." STEEVENS,