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of Italy combined very different powers together; were at the same time poets, painters, architects, and musicians; and they shewed that, as the fine arts might be reduced to one common principle, so they might all center in some highly-gifted individuals. The reader, on the subject of this common principle among the elegant arts, may thank me for referring him to the Abbé Batteaux's treatise, Les beaua Arts reduits à un même principe. The only point of relation between Zucchero and Shakspeare is, that they both died in the same year, 1616. It is proper for me to remark upon the facility with which persons inscribe names or dates, or both, upon portraits of unquestionable antiquity. Here we find the name of Shakspeare curiously imprest upon the pannel. But there is something base beyond common crime, in thus catching a sordid profit from the generous enthusiasm that leads men to honour the mighty dead—
“And out of their own virtues make the met,
“That shall enmesh them all.”
ANNO 1610, AETAT. 46.
IN the year 1770, the play of King Lear was published by White, in Fleet-street, as a specimen of what the Editor intended with respect to the whole of Shakspeare's works. The plan was exceedingly judicious, and differed from that of Mr. Capell only, by making the collations of the various copies accompany the poet's text, instead of assembling them in volumes of another size, and to be published at a distant time”. To the above play of King Lear was prefixed a very delicate mezzotinto by R. Earlom, from the original portrait of Shakspeare in the possession of Charles Jennens, Esq. of Gopsal, in Leicestershire, the ostensible patron, but real editor of the work. That gentleman was firmly convinced of its authenticity. What communication Mr. Jennens made upon the subject of this picture to the critics of his time, I cannot discover: under his print from it, he merely states, that it was painted by Cornelius Jansen, of which indeed even the print exhibited sufficient evidence. The late Mr. Steevens, speaking of the fortunate possessor of this picture, says, that he “was not disposed to forgive the writer who observed that, being dated in 1610, it could not have been the work of an artist who never saw England till 1618, above a year after our author's death.” There were other inferences which he might leave Mr. Jennens to draw —such as this, that if, however, he could be certain of his painter, that certainty was decisive against his poet—or this other, that if still he deemed the head a Shakspeare, Jansen could merely have copied it from some other picture. Mr. Steevens was unfortunately a person, who took a very marked delight in ruffling the complacency of others. Finding in Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, vol. ii. page 8, the words—“Jansen's first works in England are dated about 1618” (in which, as will be afterwards shewn, Walpole was certainly wrong), he at once assumes the year 1618 to be the date of the painter's arrival in this country, and throws it at the picture in Jennens's possession, to blot out the characteristic proofs of its authenticity. However, be it observed, that, having been born in the year 1564, in 1610 our great poet was certainly 46, as this picture expresses him; and further, that in a slight, but neat scroll over the head, there are the two words UT. MAGUS. which very personally indeed apply to Shakspeare. The two words are extracted from the famous Epistle of Horace to Au
* To shew how a necessary task may be ridiculed, and what a test of truth this precious RIDICULE is likely to be, we may instance the treatment of Mr. Jennens. This laborious gentleman used to spread the various copies, ancient and modern, of our poet's works, in a rather distant series, and pass himself rapidly from one end of his collection to the other and back again, line by line. Mr. Steevens, I suppose, must have seen him at this brisk collation, for he fastened upon his rival
the title of the shuttle-cock Commentator.
gustus, the First of the Second Book; the particular passage this:
Ille per eartentum funem mihi posse videtur
UT MAGUs; et modo me Thebis, modo ponit Athenis.
No man ever took this “extended range” more securely than Shakspeare; no man ever possessed so ample a controul over the passions; and he transported his hearers, As A MAGICIAN, over lands and seas, from one kingdom to another, superior to all circumscription or confine. This always was deemed the peculiar characteristic of Shakspeare; and great as the merits of his contemporaries unquestionably were, had Ben Jonson been to apply this passage of his beloved Horace to some poet of the reign of King James, he would assuredly, have written the two words in question over the portrait of Shakspeare.
When Mr. Steevens assumed the year 1618 to be that of Jansen's arrival in England, he could not but know that Walpole's book itself exhibited a doubt when he arrived. “According to Sandrart, he was born in London”, of Flemish parents; but Vertue, and the author of an essay towards an English school, say it was at Amsterdam, where, the latter asserts, that he resided long; the former, that he came over young.” Mr. Vertue also pronounced his earliest performances to be his best. It is extremely probable that Sandrart was right in his assertion, and that Jansen, born among us, started as a painter in London; but, however this may be, if he came over to us, he came over young, for Mr. Malone thus notices the old mistake respecting his arrival:
#232. Cornelius Jansonius Londinensis.
Belgis propterea annumerari potest, quia Parentes ejus in Belgico. Hispanico
nati fuerant, et ob tumultus saltem bellicos Londinum concesserant, ubi hunc deinde genuére filium. Hic cum ad artem pictoriam sese applicuisset, iconibus potissimum conficiendis operam dedit; unde in servitia Caroli Stuarti Regis Angliae assumtus, Regis atque Reginae, totiusque aulae elegantes elaborabat effigies. Ortis autem inter Regem hunc atque Parlamentum dissidiis, adeqque in turbas hasce involutà tota Anglia, Jansonius noster una sere cum omnibus celebrioribus artificibus aliis ex Anglia discedebat, translato in Hollandiam tum temporis omni felicitatis genere affluentem, domicilio: ibidemgue postguam icones confecisset egregias plurimas, tandem anno 1665. Amstelodami ex hac miseriarum valle emigravit.—Sandrart. Academiae Picturae Nobilis. Caput xx. p. 314.
“Mr. Walpole has stated that Jansen came into England about the year 1618, (the reader has seen what Mr. Walpole really did state); but this is a mistake; for I have a portrait painted by him, dated 1611, which had belonged for more
than a century to a family that lived at Chelsea.”—Life of Shakspeare, edition 1821, vol. ii. p. 429.
Here we certainly see him in the practice of his art among us seven