Page images
PDF
EPUB

merit, and, with his influence, obtained its intro- land to a mere actor, of ten times the nominal and duction on the stage. To this story some specious twice the effective value of this proud bounty of objections have been raised; and there cannot be the great Earl of Southampton's* to one of the any necessity for contending for it, as no lucky ac- master spirits of the human race? t asort cident can be required to account for the induce- of the degree of patronage and kindness extendment of amity between two men of high genius, eached to Shakspeare by the Earls of Pembroke and treading the same broad path to fame and fortume, Montgomery, we are altogether ignorant : but we yet each with a eharacter so peculiarly his own, know, from the dedication of his works to them by ihat he might

attain his object without wounding the Heminge and Condell, that they had distinguished pride or invading the interests of the other, it has themselves as his admirers and friends. That he been generally believed that the intellectual superi-numbered many more of the nobility of his day ority of Shakspeare excited the envy and the con- among the homagers of his transcendent genius, sequent enmity of Jonson. It is well that of these we may consider as a specious probability. But asserted faets 110 evidences can be adduced. The we must not indulge in conjectures, when we can friendship of these great men seems to have been gratify ourselves

with the reports of tradition, apunbroken during the life of Shakspeare ; and, on proaching very nearly to certainties. Elizabeth, as his death, Jonson made an offering to his memory it is confidently said, honoured our illustrious draof higli, just, and appropriate panegyric. He places matist with her especial notice and regard. She him above not only the modern but the Greek dra- was unquestionably fond of theatric exhibitions ; matists; and he professes for him admiration short and, with her literary mind and her discriminating only of idolatry. They who can discover any pe- eye, it is impossible that she should overlook; and nuriousness of praise in the surviving

poet must be that, not overlooking, she should not appreciate the gifted with a very peculiar vision of mind.. With man, whose genius formed the prime glory of her the flowers, which he strewed upon the grave of reigned It is affirmed that, delighted with the chahis friend, there certainly was not blended one raeter of Falstaff as drawn in the two parts of Henry poisonous or bitter leaf. I, therefore, he was, as IV., she expressed a wish to see the gross and disa he is represented to have been by an impartial and solute knight under the influence of love, and that able judge, (Drummond of Hawthornden,) " a great the result of our Poet's compliance, with the desire lover and praisen of himself, a contemner and of his royal mistress, was The Merry Wives on Bcorner of others; jealous of every word and ac, Windsor."| Favoured, however, as our Poet tion of those about him, &c. &c., how can we seems to have been by Elizabeth, and notwithotherwise account for the uninterrupted harmony of standing the fine incense which he offered to her his intercourse with our bard than by supposing vanity, it does not appear that he profited in any that the frailties of his nature were overruled by degree by her bounty. She could distinguish and that pre-eminence of mental power in his friend could smile upon genius but unless it were immewhich precluded competition; and by his friend's diately serviceable to her personal or her political sweetness of temper and gentleness of manners, interests, she had not the soul to reward it. How which repressed every feeling of hostility Beever inferior to her in the arts of government and tween Shakspeare and Thomas Wriothesly, the in some of the great characters of mind might be munificent and the noble Earl of Southampton, disa her Scottish successor, he resembled her in his love tinguished in history by his inviolable attachment of letters, and in his own cultivation of learning. to the rash and the unfortunate Essex, the friendship He was a scholar, and even a poet his attachwas permanent and ardent. At its commencement, ment to the general cause of literatare was strong; in 1593, when Shakspeare was twenty-nine

years and his love of the

drama and the theatre was par? of age, Southampton was not more than nineteen; lticularly warm. Before his accession to the Engand, with the love of general literature, he was lish throne he had written, as we have before no particularly attached to the exhibitions of the thea- ticed, a letter, with his own hand, to Shakspeare, tre. His attention was first drawn to Shakspeare

HaiMahim by the poet's dedication to hint of the “Venus and * As the patron and the friend or Shakspeare, Thomas Adonis," that "first heir," as the dedicator calls

it, Wriothesly, Earl

of Southampton, is entitled to our esof his invention;" and the acquaintance, once pecial attention and respect. But I cannot admit his begun between characters and hearts like thoirs, eventful history into the text, without breaking the tiwould soon mature into intimacy and friendship of my biographical narrative ; and to speak of him In the following year (1594) Shakspeare's second within the compass of a note will be only to inform my poem, "The Rape of Lucrece," was addressed by that he was engaged in the mad attempts of his friend,

readers, that he was born on the 6th of October, 1573; him to his noble patron in a strain of less distant the Earl of Essex, against the government of Eliza timidity; and we may infer from it that the poet beth : that, in consequence, he was confined during hei had then obtained a portion of the favour which

he life by that Queen, who was so lenient as to be satisfied sought. That his fortunes were essentially pro- with the blood of one of the friends : that, immediately moted by the munificent patronage of Southampton disposed to adopt the enmities of the murderess of his

on her death, he was liberated by her successor, mot Sir William Davenant, who surely possessed the sovereign; and that, finally, being sent

with by new

military means of knowing the fact, that the peer gave at command to the Low Countries, he caught a fever fron one time to his favoured dramatist the magnificent his son, Lord Wriothesly, and, surviving him only five present of a thousand pounds. This

is rejected by days, concluded

his active and honourable career of lite Malone as an extravagant exaggeration and be at Bergen-op-zoom, on the 10th of November, 1624. I cause the donation is said to have been made for left his widow in such circumstances as to call for the

may be added, that, impoverished by his liberalities, he the purpose of enabling the poet to complete a pur-assistance of the crown, chase which he had then in contemplation; and The late Duke of Northumberland made a present because no purchase of an adequate magnitude to John Kemble of 10,0001. seems to have been accomplished by him, the ent- Animated as this comedy is with much distinct de tic treats the whole story with contempt'and is lineation of character, it can not be pronounced to vie desirous of substituting a dedication fee of one hun unworthy of its great author. But it evinces the diffe dred pounds for the more princely liberality which ing with effect under the control of another mind. As

culty of writing upon a prescribed subjeot, and of werk

But IV might be within the view of Shakspeare, and even snecesititle of love and the egregious dupe of Windsor, tually not be effected, and then of course tho Jaoked and cudgelleil as he was, cannot be the wit of thousand pounds in question would be added to his Eastchieap, or the guest of Shallow, or the military personal property, where it would just complete commander on the fick of Shrows Laury. But even the the income on which he is reported to have retired senius of Shakspeare could not effect impossibilities from the stage. As to the incredibility of the gift the life which he rein(used into liis creature was not the

Ho did what he could 19 revive luis own Falstaff: bus in consequence of its value, have we not witnessed vigorvus vitality of Nature, and he vluced him in

gift, made in the prosent day, by a noble of the secne where lie could not serbsist.

[graphic]

acknowledging, no te is supposed, the complintent rell, a clergyman, Into whoso worse than Gothie paid to him in the noblo scenes of Macbeth; am hands Now Place had most unfortunately fallen. scarcely had the crown of England fallen upon his As we are not told the precise time, when Shak. head, when he granted his royal patent to our Poet j speare retired from the stage and the metropoiis to and his company of the Globe; and thus raised enjoy the tranquillity of life in his native town, we them from being the Lord Chamberlain's servants cannot pretend to determine it. As he is said, to be the servants of the King. The patent is dated however, to have passed some years in his estaba on the 19th of May, 1603, and the name of William lishment at New Place, we may conclude that his Shakspeare stands second on the list of the patentees. removal took place either in 1612 or in 1613, when As the demise of Elizabeth had occurred on the he was yet in the vigour of life, being not more 24th of the preceding March, this early attention of than forty-eight or forty-nine years old. He had James to the company of the Globe may be regard- ceasod, as it is probable, to tread the stage as an ed as highly complimentary to Shakspeare's thea- actor at an earlier period; for in the list of actors, tre, and as strongly demonstrative of the new sovo prefixed to the Volpone of B. Jonson, performed at ereign's partiality for the drama. But James' the Globe theatre, and published in 1605, the name patronage of our Poet was not in any other way of William Shakspeare is not to be found. However beneficial to his fortunes. Ir Elizabeth were 100 versed he might be in the science of acting, (and parsimonious for an effective patron, by his profis- that he was versed in it wo are assured by his dişion on his pleasures and his favourites, James soon rections to the players in Hamlet,) and, however became too needy to possess the means of bounty well he might acquit himself in some of the subor. for the reward of talents and of learning. Honour, dinate characters of the drama, it does not appear in short, was all that Shakspeare gained by the fa- that he ever rose to the higher honours of his provour of two successive sovereigns, each of them session. But if they were above his attainment, versed in literature, each of them fond of the dra- they seem not to have been the objects of his amma, and each of them capable of appreciating the bition ; for by one of his sonnets* we find that he transcendency of his genius.

lamented the fortune which had devoted him to the It would be especially gratifying to us to exhibit stage, and that he considered himself as degraded to our readers some portion at least of the porc by such a public exhibition. The time was not yet sonal history of this illustrious man during his long come when actors were to be the companions of residence in the capital ;--to announce the names princes: when their lives, as of illustrious men, and characters of his associates, a few of which were to be written; and when statues were to be oniy we can obtain from Fuller; to delineate his erected to them by public contribution ! habits of life; to record his convivial wit ; to com- The amount of the fortune, on which Shakspearo memorate the books which he read; and io number retired from the busy world, has been the subject his compositions as they dropped in succession of some discussion.' By Gildon, who forbears to from his pen. But no power of this nature is in state his authority, this fortune is valued at 3001. * dulged to us. All that active and efficient portion year; and by Malone, who, calculating our Poet's of his mortal existence, which constituted conside- real property' from authentic documents, assigrs i ratly more than a third part of it, is an unknown random value to his personal, it is reduced to 2006 region, not to be penetrated by our most zealous or these two valuations of Shakspeare's property, and intelligent researches. It may be regarded by we conceivo that Gildon's approaches the more us as a kind of central Africa, which our reason nearly to the truth: for if to Malone's conjectural assures us to be glowing with fertility and alive with estimate of the personal property, of which he prvo population ; but which is abandoned in our mapo, fesses to be wholly ignorant, be added the thousand from the ignorance of our geographers, to the death pounds, given by Southampton, (an act of munifiof barronness, and the silence of sandy desolation cence of which we entertain not a doubt,) the preBy the Stratford register we can ascertain that his cise total, as money then boro an interest of 'jal, only son, Hamnet, was buried, in the twelfth year per cent., of the three hundred pounds a year wal of his age, on the 11th of August, 1596; and that, be made up. On the smallest of these incomes, after an interval of nearly eleven years, his eldest however, when money was at least five times its daughter, Susanna, was married to John Hall, present value, might our Poei possess the comforts a physician, on the 5th of June, 1607. With the er. and the liberalities of life: and in the society of ception of two or three purchases made by him at his family, and of the neighbouring gentry, concilia. Stratford, one of them being that of New Place, ted by the amiableness of his manners and the which he repaired and ornamented for his future reo pleasantness of his conversation, he seems to have sidence, the two entries which we have now ex- passed his few remaining days in the enjoyment of tracted from the register, are positively all that we tranquillity and respect. So exquisite, indeed, apo can relate with confidence of our great poet and his pears to have been his relish of the quiet, which family, during the long term of his connection with was his portion within the walls of New Place, that the theatre and the metropolis. We may fairly it induced a complete oblivion of all that had enconclude, indeed, that he was present at each of the gaged his attention, and had aggrandized his namo domestic events, recorded by the register : that he in the preceding scenes of his life. Without any attended his son to the gravo, and his daughter to regard to his literary fame, either present or to the altar. We may believe also, from its great come, he saw with perfect unconcern some of his probability, even to the testimony of Aubrey, that immortal works brought, mutilated and deformed, ho paid an annual visit to his native town ; whence in surreptitious copies, before the world; and others his family were never removed, and which he seems of them, with an equal indifference to their fate, always to have contemplated as the resting place he permitted to remain in their unrevised or interof his declining age. He probably had nothing more polated MSS. in the hands of the theatric prompthan a lodging in London, and this he might occa- ier. There is not, probably, in the whole compass sionally change : but in 1596 he is said to have of literary history, such another instance of a proud lived somewhere near to the Bear-Garden, in South- superiority to what has been called by a rival wark.

genius, In 1606, James procured from the continont a Jarge importation of mulberry trees, with a view to

“The last infirmity of noble minds," the establishment of the silk manufactory in his us that which was now exhibited by our illustrious dominions; and, either in this year or in the fol- dramatist and poet. He seemed lowing, Shakspeare enriched his garden at New Place with one of these exotic, and at that time,

"As if he could not or he woull nae Amul, vory rare trees. This plant of his hand took root,

How much his worth transcenıler all kind.ps and flourished till tho year 1752, when it was de

• See Sonnet cxi. rovod by the barbarous asc or onc Francis Gast-/

Epitaph on a Fair Maiden Laily, by Drying

[ocr errors]

With a privilege, rarely indulged even to the sons make them worse, are said to have been written of genius, he had produced his admirable works after Combe's death. Steevens and Malone diswithout any throes or labour of the mind : they had credit the whole tale. The two first lines, as given obtained for him all that he had asked from them, to us by Rowe, are unquestionably not Shak

the patronage of the great, the applause of the speare's; and that any lasting enmity subsisted witty, and a competency of fortune adequate to between these two burghers of Stratford is disprothe moderation of his desires. Having fulfilled, or, ved by the respective wills of the parties, John possibly, exceeded his expectations, they had dis-Combe bequeathing five pounds to our Poet, and charged their duty; and he threw them altogether our Poet leaving his sword to John Combe's nefrom his thought; and whether it were their des- phew and residuary legatee, John Combe himself tiny to emerge into renown, or to perish in the being at that time deceased. With the two comdrawer of a manager; to be brought to light in a mentators above mentioned, I am inclined, therefore, state of integrity, or to revisit the glimpses of the on the whole, to reject the story as a fabrication; moon with a thousand mortal murders on their head, though I cannot, with Steevens, convict the lines of engaged no part of his solicitude or interest. They malignity; or think, with him and with Malone, that had given to him the means of easy life, and he the character of Shakspeare, on the supposition of sought from them nothing more. This insenstris being their author, could require any laboured bility in our Author to the offspring of his brain vindication to clear it from stain. In the anecdote, may be the subject of our wonder or admira- as related by Rowe, I can see nothing but a whimtion: but its consequences have been calamitous sical sally, breaking from the mind of one friend, to those who in after times have hung with delight and of a nature to excite a good-humoured smile on over his pages. On the intellect and the temper of the cheek of the other. In Aubrey's hands, the these ill-fated mortals it has inflicted a heavy load transaction assumes a somewhat darker comof punishment in the dullness and the arrogance of plexion; and the worse verses, as written after the commentators and illustrators-in the conceit and death of their subject, may justly be branded as petulance of Theobald; the imbecility of Capell; malevolent, and as discovering enmity in the heart the pert and tasteless dogmatism of Steevens; the of their writer. But I have dwelt too long upon ponderous littleness of Malone and of Drake. Some topic which, in truth, is undeserving of a syllable; superior men, it is true, have enlisted themselves and if I were to linger on it any longer, for the purpose in the cause of Shakspeare. Rowe, Pope, War- of exhibiting Malone's reasons for his preference of burton, Hanmer, and Johnson have successively Aubrey's copy of the epitaph to Rowe's, and his been his editors, and have professed to give his discovery of the propriety and beauty of the single scenes in their original purity to the world. But Ho in the last line of Aubrey's, as Ho is the abbrefrom some cause or other, which it is not our previation of Hobgoblin, one of the names of Robin sent business to explore, each of these editors, in Good-fellow, the fairy servant of Oberon, my readhis turn, has disappointed the just expectations of ers would have just cause to complain of me, as the public; and, with an inversion of Nature's sporting with their time and their patience. general rule, the little men have finally prevailed On the 9th of July, 1614, Stratford was ravaged against the great. The blockheads have hooled by a fire, which destroyed fifty-four dwelling-houses the wits from the field; and, attaching themselves besides barns and out-offices. It abstained, how. to the mighty body of Shakspeare, like barnacles to ever, from the property of Shakspeare; and he had the hull of a proud man of war, they are prepared to only to commiserate the losses of his neighbours. plough with him the vast ocean of time, and thus, With his various powers of pleasing; his wit and by the only means in their power, to snatch them- his humour ; the gentleness of his manners; the flow selves from that oblivion to which Nature had devo- of his spirits and his fancy; the variety of aneeted them. It would be unjust, however, to defraud dote with which his mind must have been stored; these gentlemen of their proper praise. They have his knowledge of the world, and his intimacy read for men of talents; and, by their gross labour with man, in every gradation of the society, from in the mine, they have accumulated materials to the prompter of a playhouse to the peer and the be arranged and polished by the hand of the finer sovereign, Shakspeare must have been a delightful artist, Some apology may be necessary for this —nay, a fascinating companion; and his acquainshort digression from the more immediate subject tance must necessarily have been courted by all of my biography. But the three or four years, the prime inhabitants of Stratford and its vicinity. which were passed by Shakspeare in the peaceful But over this, as over the preceding periods of his retirement of New Place are not distinguished by life, brood silence and oblivion; and in our total iga any traditionary anecdote deserving of our record; norance of his intimacies and friendships, we must and the chasm may not improperly be supplied with apply to our imagination to furnish out his conwhatever stands in contiguity with it. I should vivial board where intelleet presided, and delight, pass in silence, as too trifling for notice, the story with admiration, gave the applause. of our Poet's extempore and jocular epitaph on On the 2d of February, 1615-16, he married his John Combe, a rich townsman of Stratford, and a youngest daughter, Judith, then in the thirtynoted money-lender, if my readers would not object first year of her age, to Thomas Quiney, a vintner to me that 1 had omitted an anecdote which had in Stratford ; and on the 25th of the succeeding been honoured with a place in every preceding bio-month he executed his will. He was then, as in graphy of my author. As the circumstance is re-would appear, in the full vigour and enjoyment of lated by Rowe, “In a pleasant conversation among life, and we are not informed that his constitution their common friends, Mr. Combe told Shakspeare, had been previously weakened by the attack of any in a laughing manner, that he fancied he intended malady. But his days, or rather his hours, were now to write his epitaph if he happened to outlive him : all numbered; for he breathed his last on the 23d of and, since he could not know what might be said of the ensuing April, on that anniversary of his birth him when he was dead, he desired it might be done which completed his fifty-second year. It would be immediately: upon which Shakspeare gave him gratifying to our curiosity to know something of the these four verses:

disease, which thus prematurely terminated the life

of this illustrious man: but the secret is withheld Ten in the hundred lies here ingraved :

from us; and it would be idle to endeavour to obTis a hundred to ten his soul is not saved. If any man ask, who lies in this tomb :

tain it. We may be certain that Dr. Hall, who was Ho! Ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my

John a Combe. father-in-law in his last illness; and Dr. Hall kept

a physician of considerable eminence, attended his

a register of all the remarkable cases, with their But the sharpness of the satire is said to have stung symptoms and treatment, which in the course of the man so severely that he never forgave it.” By | his practice had fallen under his observation. This

ubroy the story is differently told; and the lines curious MS., which had escaped the enmity of time, question, with some alterations, which evidently was obtained by Malono : but the recorded cases is it most unfortunately began with the year 16175 / whose expense the monument was constructed, and the preceding part of the register, which most nor by whose hand it was executed ; nor at what probably had been in existence, could no where be precise time it was erected. It may have been founde The montal complaint, therefore, of William wrought by the artist, acting under the recollections Shakspeare is likely to remain for ever unknown; of the Shakspeare family into some likeness of the and as darkness had closed upon his path through grcat townsnian of Stratford; and on this probalife, so darkness now gathered round his bed of bility, we may contemplate it with no inconsidedeath, awfully to cover it from the eyes of suoceedorable interest. I cannot, however, persuade mying generations.

[graphic]

self that the likeness could have been strong. The On the 25th of April

, 1616, two days after his de- forehead, indeed, is sufficiently spacious and intelcease, he was buried in the

chancel of the church lectual : but there is a disproportionate length in the of Stratford g and at some period within the seven under part of the face, the mouth is weak; and subsequent years, (for in 1623 it is noticed in the the whole countenance is heavy and inert.' Not verses of Leonard Digges,) a monument was raised having seen the monument itself

, I can speak of it to his memory either by the respect of his towns only from its numerous copies by the graver; and by men, or by the piety of his relations. It represents these it is possible that I may be deceived. But if we the Poet with a countenance of thought, resting on cannot rely on the Stratford büst for a resemblance & cushion and in the act of writing. It is placed of our immortal dramatist, where are we to look under an arch, between

two Corinthian columns of with any hope of fireding a trace of his features ? It black marble, the capitals and bases of which are is highly probable that no portrait of him was paintgilt. The face is said, but, as far as I can find, noted

during his life, and it is certain

that no portrait of on any adequate authority, to have been modelled him, with an incontestible claim to genuineness, is from the face of the deceased; and the whole was at present in existence. The fairest title to aupainted, to bring the imitation nearer to: nature. thenticity seems to be assignable to that which is The face and the hands wore the carnation of life : called the Chandos portrait; and is now in the colthe eyes were light hazel: the hair and beard lection of the Duke of Buckingham, at Stowe. The were auburn, a black gown, without sleeves, hung possession of this pieture can be distinctly traced loosely over a scarlet doublet. The, cushion in up to. Betterton and Davenant. Through the hands its upper part was green: in its lower, crimson; of successive purchasers, it became the property and the tassels were of gold colour. This certainly of Mr. Robert

Keek. On the marriage of the heirwas not in the high classical taste ;, though

we may ess of the Keck family, it passed to Mr. Nicholl, of learn from Pausanias that statues in Greece were Colney-Hatéh, in Middlesex : on the union of this sometimes coloured after life, but as it was the gerileman's daughter with the Duke of Chandos, it work of contemporary hands, and was intended, by found a place in that nobleman's collection; and, those who knew the Poet, to convey to posterity finally, by the marriage of the present Duke of some resemblance of his lineaments

and dress, it Buckingham with

the Lady Anne Elizabeth Brydges, was a monument of rare

values and the

tasteless the heiress of the house of Chandos; it has settled ness of Malone, who caused all its tints to be ob- in the gallery of Stowe. This was pronounced by literated with a daubing of white lead, cannot be the late Earl of Orford, (Horace Walpole, ) as we sufficiently ridiculed and condemned. Its material are informed by Mrs Granger, to be the only origiis a species of free-stone ; and as the chisel of the nal picture of Shakspeare. But two others, if not sculptor was most probably under the guidance of more, contend with it for the palm of originality; one, Doctor Hall, it bore some promise of likeness to the which in consequence of its häving been in the posa mighty dead. Immediately below the cushion is the session of Mr. Felton, of Drayton, in the county of following distich: -merkin kuin setiap Salop, from whom it was purchased by the Boydells,

yada baridiw draw has been called the Felton Shakspeare, and one, Judicio Pylium; genio Socratem garte Maronem miniature, which, by some connection, as I believe, Terra tegit ; populus mæret; Olympus habet with the family of its proprietors, found its way into

the cabinet of the late Sir James Lamb, more geneOn a tablet underneath are inscribed these lines :

rally, perhaps, known by his original name of James Stay, passenger, why dost thoy go so fast?

Bland Borgess. The first of these pietures was Read, is thou can'st, whom envious death has placed

reported to have been found at the Boar’s Head in Within this monament --Shakspeare ; with whom

Easteheap, one of the favourite haunts, as it was Quick Nature died; whose name doth deck the tomb erroneously called, of Shakspeare and his compa Far more than cost a since all that he haih

writ onions and the second by a tradition, in the family Leaves living art but page to serve his wit 10 sm of Somervile

the poet, is affirmed to have been leisesit of opening of drawn from Shakspeare, who sate for it at the presa and the flat stone, covering the grave, holds out, in sing instance of a Somervile, one of his most inti very irregular characters, a supplication to the read-mate friends. But the genuineness of neither of er, with the promise of a blessing

and the menace these pictures can be supported under a rigid inof a curse :: Bob Anilalanya tendo vestigation, and their pretensions must yield to

Good Friend! for Jesus isake forbeara row those of another rival portrait of our Poei, which and To dig the drast inclosed there, and was once in the possession of Mr. Jennens, of Gop

Blest be the man that spares these stones; dehsal in Leicestershire, and is now the property of
And cursed be he that moves my bones that liberal and literary nobleman, the Duke of

seal orien bag Somerset. For the authenticity of this portrait, The last of these inseriptions may have been written attributed to the pencil of Cornelius Jansenn, Mr. by Shakspeare himself under the apprehension of Boaden* contends with much zeal and ingenuity. his bones being tumbled, with those of many of his Knowing that some of the family of Lord South townsmen, into the charnel-house of the parish. ampton, Shakspeare's especial friend and patron, But his dust has continued unviolated, and is likely had been painted by Jansenn, Mrs Boaden spez to remain in its holy repose till the last awful scene ciously infersthat, at the Earl's request, his favourite of our perishable globe. It were to be wished that dramatist had, likewise, allowed his face to thiga the two preceding inscriptions were more worthy; painter's imitation ; and that the Gopsal portrait, than they are, of the tomb to which they are at the result of the artist's skill on this occasion, had tached. It would be gratifying if we could give any obtained a distinguished place in the picture gallery faith to the tradition, which asserts that the bust of of the noble Earl. This, however, is only unsupon the face of the departed poet.; for then we might fure. It is not pretended to be ascertained that the

the semblance of this pre-eminently intellectual mortal. But the cast, if taken, must have been taken im- * An Inquiry into the Authenticity of Pictures ant mediately after his death, and we know neither at Prints offered as Portraits of Shakespeare, p. 67--805

[graphic]

speare's illustrious friend; and its transfers, during | poetic palm. I have already cited Chettles het met the hundred and thirty-seven years, which inter- now cite Jonson, from whose pages much more of posed between the death of Southampton, in 1624, a similar nature might be adduced. “I loved," he and the time of its emerging from darkness at Gop- says in his - Discoveriøs, "I loved the man, and do sal, in 1761, are not made the subjects even of a honour his memory, on this side idolatry, as much randoni guess. On such evidence, therefore, if as any. He was, indeed, honest, of an open and evidence it can be called, it is impossible for us to free nature; had an excellent fancy, brave notions receive, with Mr. Boaden, the Gopsal picture as a and gentle,

expressions, &c. &c. When Jonson genuine portrait of Shakspeare. We are now as- apostrophizes his deceased friend, he calls him, sured that it was from the Chandos portrait Sir "My gentle Shakspeare," and the title of "the Gbdfrey Kneller copied the painting which he pre- sweet swan of Avon," so generally given to him, sented to Dryden, a poet inferior only to him whose after the example of Jonson, by his contemporaries, portrait constituted the gift. The beautiful verses, seems to have been given with reference as much with which the poet requited the kind attention of to the suavity of his temper as to the harmony of the painter, are very generally known : but many his verse. In their dedication of his works to the may require

to be informed that the present, made Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, his fellows, on this occasion by the great master of the pen- Heminge and Condell, profess that their great obcil to the greater master of the pen, is still inject in their publication was only to keep the existence, preserved no doubt by the respect felt to memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as be due to the united names of Kneller, Dryden, was our Shakspeare :” and their preface to the and Shakspeare ; and is now in the collection of public appears evidently to have been dictated by Earl Fitzwilliam at Wentworth Castle. The ori- their personal and affectionate attachment to the ginal painting, from which Droeshout drew the copy departed friend. If we wish for any further evin for his engraving, prefixed to the first folio edition dence in the support of the moral character a of our Poet's dramas, has not yet been discovered, Shakspeare, we may find it in the friendship of South and I feel persuaded that no original painting ever ampton ; we may extract it from the pages of his existed for his imitation, but that the artist worked immortal works. Dr. Johnson, in his much overin this instance from his own recollection, assisted praised Preface, seems to have taken a view, very probably by the suggestions of the Poet's theatric different from ours, of the morality of our author? friends. We are, indeed, strongly of opinion that scenes. He says, “ His (Shakspeare's) first defect Shakspeare, remarkable, as he seems to have been, is that to which may be imputed most of the evil in for a lowly estimate of himself, and for a carelessness books or in men. He sacrifices virtue to conver of all personal distinction, would not readily submit nience; and is so much more careful to please than his face to be a painter's study, to the loss of hours, to instruct, that he seems to write without any moral which he might more usefully or more pleasurably purpose. From his writings, indeed, a system of assign to reading, to composition, or to conviviality. moral duty may be selected,” (indeed!) but his If any sketch of his features was made during his precepts and axioms drop casually from him: life, it was most probably taken by some rapid and (Would the presace-writer have wished the dramaunprofessional pencil, when the Poet was unaware tist to give a connected treatise on ethics like the i of it; or, taken by surprise, and exposed by it to offices of Cicero?) "he makes no just distribution no inconvenience, was not disposed to resist it. of good or evil, nor is always careful to show in We are convinced that no authentic portrait of this the virtuous a disapprobation of the wicked : he great man has yet been produced, or is likely to be carries his persons indifferently through right and discovered ; and that we must not therefore hope wrong; and at the close dismisses them without to be gratified with any thing which we can contem- further care, and leaves their examples to operate plate with confidence as a faithful representation of by chance. This fault the barbarity of the age can- . his countenance. The head of the statue, executed not extenuate ; for it is always a writer's duty to by Scheemaker, and erected, in 1741, to the honour make the world better, and justice is a virtue inden of our poet in Westminster Abbey, was sculptured pendent on time or place." Why this commonplace after a mezzotinto, scraped by Simon nearly twenty on justice should be compelled into the station in years before, and said to be copied from an origi- which we here most strangely find it, I cannot for tal portrait, by Zoust. But as this artist was not my life conjecture. But absurd as it is made by its known by any of his productions in England till association in this place, it may not form an in the year 1657, no original portrait of Shakspeare proper conclusion to a paragraph which means little, could be drawn by his pencil; and, consequently, and which, intending censure, confers dramatic the marble chiselled by Scheemaker, under the praise on a dramatic writer. It is evident, however, direction of Lord Burlington, Pope, and Mead, ihat Dr. Johnson, though he says that a system of cannot lay any claim to an authorized resemblance moral duty may be selected from Shakspeare's to the man, for whom it was wrought. We must writings, wished to inculcate that his scenes were be satisfied, therefore, with knowing, on the au- not of a moral tendency. On this topic, the first thority of Aubrey, that our Poet “was a handsome, and the greater Jonson seems to have entertained well-shaped man;" and our imagination must sup- very different sentiments, ply the expansion of his forehead, the sparkle and

tudio Hash of his eyes, the sense and good-temper play

“Look, how the father's face au tutto ing round his mouth; the intellectuality and the

ashigtai to benevolence mantling over his whole countenance. (says this great man)

2017 It is well that we are better acquainted with the

Slotos rectitude of his morals, than with the symmetry of

Lives in his issue; even so the race his features. To the integrity of his heart; the

or Shakspeare's mind and manners, brightly shines

In his well-orned and truefiled lines.” gentleness and benignity of his manners, we have

வான் the positive testimony of Chettle and Ben Jonson; We think, indeed, that bis scenes are rich in ster the former of whom seems to have been drawn, by, ling morality, and that they must have been the leffus our Poet's good and amiable qualities, from the fac-sions of a moral mind. The only crimination of his tion of his dramatic enemies; and the latter, in his morals must be drawn from a few of his sonnets; love and admiration of the man, to have lost all his and from a story first suggested by Anthony Wood, natural jealousy of the successful competitor for the and afterwards told by Oldys on the authority of

Betterton and Pope. From the Sonnets* we can för till I saw the fact asserted in his page, I was not blindly attached to an unprincipled woman, who

I derive my knowledge on this topic from Malone; collect nothing more than that their writer was aware that the picture in question had been preserved preferred a young and beautiful friend of his to bums amid the wreck of poor Dryden's property. On the au. thority also of Malone and of Mr. Beaden, I speak of self. But the story told by Oldys presents somo Sir Godfrey's present to Dryden as of a copy from the Chandos portrait

See Son 141, 144, 147, 181, 189

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »