Зображення сторінки

extremely beautiful, and had in its various stages cost Mr. Kemble nearly three times that sum. It had been purified from all stains by the usual chemical process; it had then been inlaid into a royal paper, and superbly bound, at first in three volumes, but finally compressed into one. Thus sumptuously equipped, it was deposited in a meat case with a lock and key; and except to the truer order of bibliographical antiquaries, remains the most precious copy of that folio. The class to which I have alluded, prefer it in the condition of Sir Walter Blunt, perfect in its members, but “stained with the variation of each soil” it may have passed over, from the time it was printed, till it reaches the metropolis from some manor-house in the country, and after being thumbed by several generations, at last settles, new bound, in splendid repose upon the shelf of some library of ostentation. By this explanation, I am naturally led first to consider what is called Martin Droeshout's print of Shakspeare.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][graphic]
[merged small][ocr errors]

IN the year 1623, Heminge and Condell, two friends and fellows of our poet, published the first complete edition of his plays. On the title-page of their folio is impressed a head of Shakspeare, to which Martin Droeshout the engraver has put his name. It should be looked at in a clear and good impression, in this genuine book; for as the same plate was used in the succeeding folios, the wear of it during sixty-two years may be supposed to have done injury to the skill, mean as it was, of the engraver; and in also affecting the likeness, time may be said to have done, however extraordinary, a solitary injury to Shakspeare. In other words, Droeshout's original copper-plate is made to furnish out a portrait of the poet in the edition of 1623; in that of 1632, in which it continued very tolerable; and in the two latter folios of 1664 and 1685, when I confess it to have become, what it has frequently been called, “an abominable libel upon humanity.” It will readily be granted that, as a work of art, it is by no means skilful, even for that time. They certainly had better artists. Seven years earlier, CHAPMAN's Homer had been published, with an

engraved head of that translator, of the very finest character. It is too

« НазадПродовжити »