« ZurückWeiter »
these tales has no better foundation than the vanity of our degener Neoptolemus, (see Vol. III. p. 344.) * and the latter originates from modern conje&ure. The present age will probably allow the vintner's ivy to Sir William, but with equal justice will withhold from him the poet's bays. - To his pretensions of descent from Shakspearé, one might almost be induced to apply a ludicrous passage uttered by Fielding's Phaeton in the Suds :
by all the parish boys I'm flamm'd: “ You the syn's son, you rascal! you be dmd." About the time when this pidure found its way into Mr. Keck's hands,t the verification of portraits
* Nor does the same piece of ancient scandal derive much weight from Aubrey's adoption of it. The reader who is acquainted with the writings of this absurd gossip, will scarcely pay more attention to him on the present occasion, than when he gravely assures us that “ Anno 1670, not far from Cirencester was an apparition ; being demanded whether a good spirit or a bad? returned no answer, but disappeared with a curious perfume and most melodious twang. Mr. W. Lilly believes it was a fairy." See Aubrey's Miscellanies, edit. 1784, p. 114.-Aubrey. in short, was a dupe to every wag who chose to pra&ise on his credu. lity; and would most certainly have believed the person who should have told him that Shakspeare himself was a natural son of Queen Elizabeth.
Mr. T. Warton has pleasantly observed (see p. 73. n. 3.) that he "cana not suppose Shakspeare to have been the father of a Do&or of Divinity who never laughed;" and to waste no more words on Sir William D'Avenant,- let but our readers survey his heavy, vulgar, unmeaning face, and, if we mistake not, they will as readily conclude that Shake speare “ never holp to make it." So despicable, indeed, is his countenance as represented by Faithorne, that it appears to have funk that celebrated engraver beneath many a common artist in the same line. bet See Vol. I. p. 30.
was so little attended to, that both the Earl of Oxford, and Mr. Pope, admitted a juvenile one of King James I. as that of Shakspeare. *
Among the heads of illustrious persons engraved by Houbraken, are several imaginary ones, beside Ben Jonson's and Otway's; and old Mr. Langford positively asserted that, in the same collection, the grandfather of Cock the auctioneer had the honour to personate the great and amiable Thurloe, secretary of state to Oliver Cromwell.
From the price of forty guineas paid for the supposed portrait of our author to Mrs. Barry, the real value of it should not be inferred. The poffeffion of somewhat more animated than canvas, might have been included, though not fpecified, ina, bargain with an actress of acknowledged gallantry.
Yet allowing this to be a mere fanciful insinuation, a rich man does not easily miss what he is ambitious to find. At least he may be persuaded he has found it, a circumstance which, as far as it
* Much respea is due to the authority of portraits that descend in families from heir to heir; but little reliance can be placed on them when they are produced for sale (as in the present instance) by alien hands, almost a century after the death of the person supposed to be represented; and then, ( as Edmund says in King Lear) come pat, like the catastrophe of the old comedy.” Shakspeare was buried in 1616; and in 1708 the first notice of this pi&ure occurs. Where there is such a chasm in evidence, the validity of it may be not unfairly questioned, and especially by those who remember a species of fraudulence recorded in Mr. Foote's Taste: Clap Lord Dupe's arms on that half-length of Erasmus; I have sold it him as his great grandfather's third brother, for fifty guincas.'
affects his own content, will answer, for a while, the same purpose. Thus the late Mr. Jennens of Gopsal in Leicestershire, for many years congrá tulated himself as owner of another genuine portrait of Shakspeare, and by Cornelius Jansen; nor was 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.
So ready, however, are interested people in affisting credulous ones to impose on themselves, that we will venture to predict, - if some opulent dupe to the flimsy artifice of Chatterton, should advertise a considerable sum of money for a portrait of the Pseudo-Rowley, such a desideratum would soon emerge from the tutelary crypts of St. Mary Redcliff at Bristol, or a hitherto unheard of repository in the tomb of Syr Thybbót Gorges at Wraxal.* It would also come attested as a strong likeness of our archæo
* A kindred trick had a&ually been passed off by Chaiterton on the late Mr. Barrett of Bristol, in whose back parlour was a pretended head of Canynge, most contemptibly scratched with a pen on a small square piece of yellow parchment, and framed and glazed as an authentick icon by the s curyous poyntil" of Rowley. But this fame drawing very soon ceased to be stationary, was alternately exhibited and concealed, as the wavering faith of its possessor shifted about, and was prudently with held at last from the publick eye. Why it was not inserted in the late History of Bristol, as well as Rowley's plan and elevation of its ancient castle, (which all the rules of all the ages of archite&ure pronounce to be fpurious) let the Rowleian advocates inform us. We are happy at least to have recollected a single imposition that was too
logical bard, on the faith of a parchment exhibiting the hand and seal of the dygne Master Wyllyam Canynge, setting forth that Mayster Thomas Rowlie was so entyrely and pasynge wele belovyd of himself, or our poetick knight, that one or the other causyd hys semblaunce to be ryght conynglye depeyncten on a merveillou se fayre table of wood, and ensevelyd wyth hym, that deth mote theym not clene departyn and putte afunder. — A similar imposition, however, would in vain be attempted on the editors of Shakspeare, who, with all the zeal of Rowleians, are happily exempt from their credulity.
A former plate of our author, which was copied from Martin Droelhout's in the title-page to the folio 1623. is worn out; nor does so “abominable an imitation of humanity” deserve to be restored. The smaller head, prefixed to the Poems in 1640. is merely a reduced and reversed copy by Marshall from its predeceffor, with a few flight changes in attitude and dress. We boast therefore of no exterior ornaments, t except those of better print
gross for even these gentlemen to swallow.-Mr. Barrett, however, in the yeer 1776 assured Mr. Tyrwhitt and Mr. Steevens, that he received the aforesaid scrawl of Canynge from Chatterton, who described it as having been found in the prolifick chest secured by fix, or fix-andtwenty keys, no matter which. ** See Vol. I. p. 33.
They who wish for decorations adapted to this edition of Shak. speare, will find them in Silvester Harding's Portraits and Views, &c. &c. (appropriated to the whole suite of our author's Historical Dramas, &c.) published in thirty numbers.
and paper than have hitherto been allotted to any octavo edition of Shakspeare.
Justice nevertheless requires us to subjoin, that had an undoubted picture of our author been attainable, the Booksellers would most readily have paid for the best engraving from it that could have been produced by the most skilful of our modern artists ; but it is idle to be at the charge of perpetuating illusions : and who shall offer to point out, among
the numerous prints of Shakspeare, any one that is more like him than the rest?
The play of Pericles has been added to this collection, by the advice of Dr. Farmer. To make room for it Titus Andronicus might have been omitted; but our proprietors are of opinion that some ancient prejudices in its favour may fill exist, and · for that reason only it is preserved.
We have not reprinted the Sonnets, &c. of, Shakspeare, because the strongest act of Parliament that could be framed, would fail to compel readers into their service ; notwithstanding these miscellaneous Poems have derived every poslible advantage from the literature and judgement of their only intelligent editor, Mr. Malone, whose implements of criticism, like the ivory rake and golden spade in Prudentius, are on this occasion disgraced by the objects of their culture. – Had Shakspeare produced no other works than there, his name would have reached us with as little celebrity as time has