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The writers of Catalogues are happy persons; they describe many portraits which cannot be found, and so circumstantially as to lead one to imagine, that once they must have existed. Among these desiderata is to be numbered one of Shakspeare, by that excellent engraver John Payne. Mr. Granger says of it, that the poet is ‘represented with a laurel branch in his left hand. But all my inquiries have never been able to procure a sight of this print; and perhaps it is confounded with that by W. Marshall, which certainly exhibits our poet with this sinistrous decoration. Payne wanted only application to confirm both his fortune and his fame. He had a good deal of the firm and forcible manner of his master, Simon Passe, and he executed some heads after Cornelius Jansen, in a style so beyond the common embellishments of his time, that it is greatly indeed to be regretted that his Shakspeare has disappeared, if he really engraved it. I confess I am halftempted to think it will yet be found, for the reason which I now proceed to assign.
Whoever is acquainted with the loose and wiry manner of Marshall, witness his bust of Fletcher, and the wretched “bi-forked hill” on which he has grounded it”, cannot but feel that his head of Shakspeare in 1640, is in a manner not his own; and indeed a dark and strongly relieved print, instead of the dry, tasteless, colourless thing which he bestowed as a usual sign to Mr. Moseley's editions of the cotemporary poets. I therefore feel almost confident, that Marshall here copied the head by John Payne. Indeed, taking the half-length of Elizabeth by Crispin de Passe the father, after whom they all worked, as the model, the head by Marshall is exactly such a performance as you would expect from that school, where, as is certain, the pupils, though like, are yet inferior to the master. A good deal of their inferiority is produced by their designing their own heads, and conferring upon them crowns of bays, &c. as to which, the poets might properly enough exclaim with Cowley,
Had I a wreath of bays about my brow,
I should contemn that flourishing honor now,
Condemn it to the fire, and joy to hear
Nor does Marshall's head of Milton, prefixed to the poems in 1645, partake any more than that of Fletcher, of the better manner of the school of Passe, The poet's displeasure, shrouded in the Greek
* See the folio, 1647. . . . . . . .
language, was engraven by Marshall himself under his print. This stratagem of the republican poet, might by Sir Hugh Evans have been pronounced ‘fery homest knaveries.' But he speaks plainly enough in the Defensio pro se against Alexander More, who had censured the vanity of exhibiting his effigies in the volume of his poems; and argues his indifference, rather than his attention, in allowing himself to be so engraved:—INFABRE scALPENDUM PERMisi, is his expression*. His head of James Shirley, 1646, is, however, superior to the Milton. The features are better drawn, and there is more smartness and effect in the countenance altogether: the costume of the vest and cloak is as wretched as usual, when Marshall was left to himself. The hair is distributed exactly after the style of Milton's. The hand is tolerable, but not to be compared with that of the Shakspeare. I therefore look upon Marshall's print of our poet with a respect derived to him from Payne, and shall state here, what I have to observe upon it, though incidentally it has been mentioned in discussing the Felton picture. It is certainly reduced from the larger performance of Droeshout, without the slightest reference to the Felton picture for the purpose of correction. Though much smaller, it has more force as well as neatness; but this is said merely as it is a book embellishment, for the characteristic expression is changed, though the features are preserved. Some liberty has been taken with the beard upon the upper lip; it is darker, and in a thicker mass than he saw it in Droeshout. It is on the whole better drawn, but the tenderness of the original expression is lost; yet even its antiquated taste in the dress, and the stiffness of the attitude, afford a pleasure to the collector—he loves to see the portraits of past times in the ruder sculpture then attained; and is by no means of opinion, that the grave humility which characterized the subjects of the Tudor Princes, is well exchanged for the catching bravery of the Cavalier of Charles's times. The confident deportment, or the puritanical sanctity of the seventeenth century, were equally remote from the mild, but solid expression of our ancestors, during the reign of Elizabeth. It is this homogeneous working of the artist with the subject, that constitutes much of the charm about our ancient monuments. We should not endure to see their effigies displaced by the almost theatrical attitude and flutter of drapery, which have been the vice of a later age. Mr. Flaxman, with the truest feeling of the point to be obtained in such works, has purified the Design of our ancestors, and retained their Piety. Why should I not call him a Greek Christian? Marshall has drest up some of the lines of Ben Jonson, and placed them under the portrait. I do not quote them here, because
* His expostulation with More is extremely pleasant. “Narcissus nunc sum; (says he) quia te depingente molui Cyclops esse; quia tu effigiem mei dissimillimam, praefiram poematibus vidisti. Ego veró si impulsu et ambitione Librarii me imperito Scalptori, propterea quod in urbe alius eo belli tempore non erat, infabré scalpendum permisi, id me neglexisse potiès eam rem arguebat, cujus tu mihinimium
they will be found with the print which is given from the poems, 1640. Upon the whole, I consider the present likeness as approaching closer to the monument at Stratford, than Droeshout's print does. The practice of engravers in that age, is not well understood by us. To see their prints, it might be thought that the pictures were uniformly tasteless; but this by no means followed. The engravers did not seem to feel that the best painters imposed any strict fidelity upon them: they always considered that they could produce something, upon the whole, more decidedly like their subject, than any one painter had been happy enough to supply. Read, for instance, what was the operation as to Marshall's head of Fletcher. The poet was a man of family, and therefore sat, I have no doubt, to a
good artist. Yet this is the bookseller Moseley's account of it:
“This figure of Mr. Fletcher was cut by several originall pieces, which his friends lent me, but withall they tell me, that his unimitable soule did shine through his countenance in such ayre and spirit, that the Painters confessed it was not easy to expresse him: as much as could be, you have here, and the Graver hath
done his part.”
Such is the stationer's address to the reader in the folio of 1647. No doubt Marshall went to work with his usual confidence—he had the original pieces before him, and compounded a chef d'oeuvre of common-place and bad taste, which Mr. Moseley sanctions with his perfect approbation. Marshall has crowned his poet so as to render the head ludicrous. The heavy and disproportioned bust is placed between two hillocks, with a back-ground of clouds; a frame, solid as the carvings of our ancient stair-cases, surrounds the portrait,