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and a scroll, which tells us that Fletcher was the son of the Bishop of London, is gently lifted up by two figures, anxious to be seen, called Tragedy and Comedy, studied from the antique, and yet infinitely more like Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, than the two Muses whom they are intended to represent. All this “vanity of art, as Prospero terms it, being bestowed by Marshall, on a smaller scale upon Milton and Shirley and others, I again infer strongly, that nothing could have preserved Shakspeare himself from the Bedlam or Parnassus of Marshall's allegorical powers, but the circumstance of his being employed to copy the head of the poet by Payne. With many thanks to him, therefore, for his forbearance upon the present occasion, I am happy to put the public in possession of an imitation, which is absolutely perfect, of Mar
shall's engraving, now one of the rarest prints in England.
This series of engravings, therefore, is to be held as containing, in this writer's opinion, every thing that on any authority can be called Shakspeare; and they each of them, alone, possess very strong evidence of authenticity. Droeshout's print is attested by Ben Jonson, and by his partners in the Theatre. The Stratford Monument was erected by his son-in-law, Dr. Hall, and executed probably by Thomas Stanton, who could not but know his person, and probably had some cast to work from. The Chandos picture is traced up to Taylor, the poet's Hamlet, and was no doubt painted by Burbage. The head by Cornelius Jansen, is marked by that painter decidedly Shakspeare, and every reasonable presumption assures us that it was painted for Lord Southampton. The head by Marshall seems to have been copied by him from a head by Payne, who reduced that by Droeshout, with some variations in the dress and attitude. What light these portraits throw upon each other, and thus verify the whole, I have brought most strikingly before the spectator, by shewing the heads as nearly as was practicable, in the same size, and in the same direction. I feel them to be executed in a manner which has not often been equalled, and will never, I believe, be surpassed. The expence has of course been great; but the Publisher would withhold nothing, where the perfect exhibition of Shakspeare was the object. I have thus contributed my effort, to make our great and amiable poet's person more accurately known among us. Every man whom his wit has exhilarated, his wisdom guided, his passion purified, may look with delight and thankfulness in the countenance of his master and his friend, and find the perfections of his nature residing there in mild and unforced, in clear and unquestion
— Those dreams, that Fantasie Takes from the polisht Ivory Port, delude The Dreamer ever, and no truth include.
CHAPMAN’s HOMER, B. 19, ODYssey.
I was about to close my subject, I remember, with a very brief enumeration of the spurious, or rather falsely ascribed portraits, when the late Mr. Boswell brought a miniature to shew me, with which Sir James Bland Burges had entrusted him. It struck me to have been unquestionably painted by Hilliard, and to merit attentive examination. The account given of it by Sir James, is such as was to be expected from his candour and his taste. As no one can more truly appreciate such a possession, so no man could possibly say less to enforce its claim, and no other PoET perhaps so little. I cannot do better, than transcribe here the letter which Sir James wrote to Mr. Boswell, giving the history of the miniature which he had so fortunately recovered.
* Lower Brook-street, 26 June, 1818. “ DEAR BosWELL,
“I send you the history of my portrait of Shakspeare, which I apprehend will leave no reason to doubt of its authenticity. “Mr. Somerville of Edstone, near Stratford-upon-Avon, ancestor of Somerville, author of the Chace, &c. lived in habits of intimacy with Shakspeare, particularly after his retirement from the stage”, and had this portrait painted, which,
* It has been a very common notion, that our poet passed some years in a state of retirement from all theatrical business, on his estate at Stratford; and this notion is embraced in Sir James's letter. But I confess there does not appear to me any decisive evidence for such a supposition. The period of positive retirement must have been extremely short, if he could enjoy, or indeed desired to enjoy any such total abstraction from his theatrical concerns. Let us remember that, so late as March 1612-13, with an obvious reference to his business in that quarter, a conveyance is executed to him of a house in the Blackfriers: that not much, if at all prior to this transaction, from the pamphlets recently published, he constructed all the local and picturesque interest of the Tempest: that Twelfth Night has been, on the authority of Mr. Tyrwhitt, ascribed to a still later period, 1614; and that therefore the period of absolute retirement from such concerns, is narrowed to little more than two years. The conveyance by Walker of the house in Blackfriers, describing him to be of Stratford-upon-Avon, is no indication of retirement—his family constantly resided there, and he himself, occasionally, through life. The probability of his course is fairly enough given in the tradition that stated him to have visited his native Stratford every year. The Globe was a summer theatre; up to the year 1605, therefore, when the King's Servants took the
private house in the Blackfriers, he probably retired at the close of the season, as you will perceive, was richly set, and was carefully preserved by his de
scendants, till it came to the hands of his great grandson, the poet, who, dying
and at Stratford, in the bosom of his family, in the quiet of a beautiful country, endeared to him by the still vivid recollections of his youth, produced those plays, which indeed bear in them so much pure and rustic sweetness, as to prove the writer copied from actual impressions. After the company had possession of the Blackfriers, his time would be more engrossed by the concerns of two theatres, and his visits to Stratford consequently shorter. But I think no one point more characteristic of Shakspeare, than the rural tendency of his muse. He absolutely luxuriates in the Forest of Arden. No play ever offers the slightest opportunity, that he does not seize it with avidity, and either soothe or enchant us by the images of rustic life. I need not enumerate what every reader's memory will so readily supply. Beaumont and Fletcher have comparatively little of this. Ben Jonson too in his comedies is a town poet: he painted the characters which he saw around him, and is the most exact delineator of the manners of his age. Massinger has absolutely no rustic description, no country characters. It may be said, that his plots being for the most part foreign, the occasions did not occur. To this it may be truly replied, that he would have made the opportunity for a favourite delineation; and that every country, where his scene could be laid, presented the contrasts between refinement and artless nature, to which I have alluded. It may be obvious, that here is no intended inculpation of those other great poets on account of this difference of taste. I mean no more than to mark this decided tendency in Shakspeare, and to infer the habit of such residence from the constant prevalence of rural images, and the simple feelings and manners of country people. Nor should I be answered by any reference to the Faithful Shepherdesse of Fletcher, the most beautiful of pastorals. I may be allowed to say, that such a reference is