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ΤΗΣ ΦΥΣΕΩΣ ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΕΥΣ ΗΝ, ΤΟΝ ΚΑΛΑΜΟΝ
Vet. Aut. apud. Suidam.
MULTA DIES, VARIUSQUE LABOR MUTABILIS AVI
THE reader may obferve that, contrary to former
ufage, no head of Shakspeare is prefixed to the present edition of his plays. The undifguised fact is this. The only portrait of him that even pretends to authenticity, by means of injudicious cleaning, or fome other accident, has become little better than the "fhadow of a fhade." The late Sir Joshua Reynolds indeed once fuggefted, that whatever person it was defigned for, it might have been left, as it now appears, unfinished. Various copies and plates, however, are faid at different times to have been made from it; buta regard for truth obliges us to confefs that they are all unlike each other, † and convey no diftinct resemblance of the poor remains of their avowed original. Of the drapery and curling hair exhibited in the
Such, we think, were the remarks, that occurred to us feveral years ago, when this portrait was acceffible. We wifhed indeed to have confirmed them by a fecond view of it; but a late accident in the noble family to which it belongs, has precluded us from that fatisfaction.
Vertue's portraits have been over-praised on account of their fidelity; for we have now before us fix different heads of Shakspeare engraved by him, and do not fcruple to affert that they have individually a different caft of countenance. Cucullus non facit monachum. The shape of our author's ear-ring and falling-band may correspond in them all, but where fhall we find an equal conformity in his features?
Few objects indeed are occafionally more difficult to feize, than the flender traits that mark the character of a face; and the eye will often VOL. I.