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THE title page to this volume, which has been engraved by Mr. Thompson in a style that carries the powers of wood-engraving as far as they can go, contains five portraits of Shakspere. There are several other portraits which are held to be authentic; and many which bear the imputation of being forgeries. Volumes have been written on the subject of the genuineness of Shakspere's portraits. We shall only attempt a very brief notice of those which we now publish. The design over the title of the volume exhibits the bust upon Shakspere's Monument in three several positions. The sculptor of that monument was Gerard Johnson. The tomb itself is accurately represented at the head of Shakspere's Will. We learn the name of the sculptor from Dugdale's correspondence, published by Mr. Hamper in 1827; and we collect from the verses by Leonard Digges, prefixed to the first edition of Shakspere, that it was erected previous to 1623:
Shakespeare, at length thy pious fellows give
The fate of this portrait of Shakspere, for we may well account it as such, is a singular one. Mr. Britton, who has on many occasions manifested an enthusiastic feeling for the associations belonging to the great poet, published in 1816 'Remarks on his Monumental Bust,' from which we extract the following passage:--"The bust is the size of life; it is formed out of a block of soft stone; and was originally painted over in imitation of nature. The hands and face were of flesh colour, the eyes of a light hazel, and the hair and beard auburn; the doublet or coat was scarlet, and covered with a loose black gown, or tabard, without sleeves; the upper part of the cushion was green, the under half crimson, and the tassels gilt. Such appear to have been the original features of this important, but neglected or insulted bust. After remaining in this state above one hundred and twenty years, Mr. John Ward, grandfather to Mrs. Siddons and Mr. Kemble, caused it to be ' repaired,' and the original colours preserved, in 1748, from the profits of the representation of Othello. This was a generous, and apparently judicious act; and therefore very unlike the next
alteration it was subjected to in 1793. In that year Mr. Malone caused the bust to be covered over with one or more coats of white paint; and thus at once destroyed its original character, and greatly injured the expression of the face.” It is fortunate that we live in an age when no such unscrupulous insolence as that of Malone can be again tolerated.
The small head to the right of the bust, engraved from the little print, by WILLIAM MARSHALL, prefixed to the edition of Shakspere's poems in 1640, is considered amongst the genuine portraits of Shakspere. It is probably reduced, with alterations, from the print by MARTIN DROESHOUT, which is prefixed to the folio of 1623. This portrait appears at the bottom of our title. The original engraving is not a good one; and as the plate furnished the portraits to three subsequent editions, it is not easy to find a good impression. The persons who published this portrait were the friends of Shakspere. It was published at a time when his features would be well recollected by many of his contemporaries. The accuracy of the resemblance is also attested by the following lines from the pon of Ben Jonson :
“This figure, that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut;
Under these circumstances we are inclined to regard it as the most genuine of the portraits of Shakspere. It wants that high art which seizes upon a likeness by general resemblance, and not through the merely accurate delineation of features. The draughtsman from whom this engravirg was made, and the sculptor of the bust at Stratford, were literal copyists. It is perfectly clear that they were working upon the same original.
The portrait on the right of our title is the famous CHANDOS picture, formerly preserved at Stowe. It has a history belonging to it which says much for its authenticity. It formerly belonged to Davenant, and afterwards to Betterton. When in Betterton's possession it was engraved for Rowe's edition of Shakspere's works. It subsequently passed into various hands; during which transit it was engraved, first by Vertue and afterwards by Houbraken. It became the property of the Duke of Chandos, by marriage; and thence descended to the Buckingham family. Kneller copied this portrait for Dryden, and the poet addressed to the painter the following verses as a return for his gift:*
“Shakspeare, thy gift, I place before my sight,
With awe I ask his blessing as I write;
At the sale of the Duke of Buckingham's effects it was purchased by the Earl of Ellesmere, and was presented by him to the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.
The portrait on the left is held to have been painted by CORNELIUS JANSEN. Av engraving from it was made by Earlom, and was prefixed to an edition of King Lear, published in 1770, edited by Mr. Jennens. It has subsequently been more carefully engraved by Mr. Turner, for Mr. Boaden's • Inquiry into the Authenticity of the Portraits of Shakspere.' This portrait has the inscription, “ Æ46, 1610;" and in a scroll over the head are the words “Ut : Magus." Mr. Boaden says, “The two words are extracted from the famous Epistle of Horace to Augustus, the First of the Second Book; the particular passage this :
* This picture, by permission of the late Duke of Buckingham, was copied for the engraving in the 'Gallery of Portraits,' for the first time for forty years; and the copy, by Mr. Witherington, 1., is in our possession.
'Ille per extentum funem mihi posse videtur
Ut Magus; et modo me Thebis, modo ponit Athenis.
No man ever took this 'extended range' more securely than Shakspere; no man ever possessed so ample a control over the passions; and he transported his hearers, as a magician,' over lands and seas, from one kingdom to another, superior to all circumscription or confine." The picture passed from the possession of Mr. Jenners into that of the Duke of Somerset.
NOTE ON THE SHAKSPERE HOUSE AND NEW PLACE.
In accordance with a Note to Chap. III., page 33, we proceed to give an account of the present state of those properties at Stratford, connected with Shakspere, which have been purchased by public subscription. The writer of this 'Biography' has given, in his 'Passages of a Working Life,' some particulars relating to the purchase of the premises in Henley Street, of which the following is an abridgment:
The house in which Shakspere is reputed to have been born was for sale. The old tenement at Stratford-upon-Avon, in which his father had lived, had been an object of curiosity and reverence during many years. Our countrymen went out of their way to look at it, even in the days before railroads. Foreigners, and Americans especially, talked about it and wrote about it. The freehold property had descended to a branch of Shakspere's family of the name of Hart. At the beginning of 1847 it was announced that it was to be sold to the highest bidder. It was determined, amongst a few friends, to call a public meeting at the Thatched House Tavern. There were no titled names paraded to draw together a company; yet there was a full attendance. A Committee was Lominated, chiefly of men of letters. One nobleman only, Lord Morpeth, was included in the nomination. He was not a mere ornamental adjunct to a working Committee, but laboured as strenuously as any of us to accomplish the object for which we were associated. We raised a large subscription, though it was somewhat short of the three thousand pounds for which we obtained the property. The deficiency was subsequently made up, in some measure, by a performance at Covent Garden Theatre, in which all the great actors and actresses of the time took scenes from various plays of Shakspere; and partly by the proceeds of gratuitous Readings by Mr. Macready, at the time when he was leaving the stage. When the Shakspere House had been purchased by the London Committee, and when the adjoining tenements had also been purchased by a separate subscription at Stratford, the necessity was apparent of having the house taken care of, and shown to visitors, by some one, who, at the least, would not cast an air of ridicule over the whole thing, as was the case with the ignorant women who had made a property of it by the receipt of shillings and sixpences. Mr. Charles Dickens organized a series of Amateur Performances, “in aid of the Fund for the endowment of a perpetual Curatorship of Shakspere's House, to be always held by some one distinguished in Literature, and more especially in Dramatic Literature; the profits of which it is the intention of the Shakspere House Committee to keep entirely separate from the fund now raising for the purchase of the House." In the July of that year the same performances, with a few variations of cast, were repeated at Edinburgh and at Glasgow. The receipts of the London and Provincial performances were considerable. There were many difficulties in the way of appointing a Curator of the Shakspere House. Lord Morpeth had pledged himself, in his official character, that if the house were vested in the Crown, it should be preserved with religious care, as the property of the British people, and should be maintained as the honoured residence of some dramatic author, who should be salaried by the Government. This project, defeated by the retirement of Lord Morpeth from office, would have been in many respects desirable; for we may venture to inquire if there is any efficient Trust for this property, and whether the Act of Mortmain does not interfere with any such Trust being created. It was conveyed in fee by the vendors, in 1847, to two gentlemen. Mr. Dickens and his friends wisely determined to do something useful with the proceeds of their labours, and they bought an annuity for one of the most able of our dramatic authors, Mr. Sheridan Knowles.
A bequest made by a gentleman of the same name as the poet has enabled the authorities at Stratford to put the premises in Henley Street in good repair; to remove all nuisances surrounding them; and to lay out the garden in a style that has pleasing associations, for its shrubs and flowers are of those mentioned by Shakspere. In this house a Library and Museum have been established. The admission here is upon a payment of sixpence.
In 1862, certain premises, which could be identified as part of the old property of New Place, were conveyed to Mr. Halliwell, upon his payment of £3,200. This sum was raised by public subscription. In September, 1865, Mr. Ramsay visited Stratford, at the request of the writer of this 'Biography;' and has furnished him with the following memorandum of the condition of New Place :-
The ground has been excavated all over, and parts of the foundations of Shakspere's house, and of Clopton's, which succeeded it, have been laid bare. They are hollowed out from the surface, and covered with the coarse glass which is used for paving. These foundations are of rude, almost unhewn stone, the same kind as that of which the neighbouring Chapel has been built. A well has been cleaned out, and bricked down to the original stone groining, which had given way for about ten of twelve feet, and the water rises only to within about a foot of this groining. The adjoining house is called Nash's, and has been bought, though it was not Shakspere's property. The outside is all modernized, but inside is a fine old oak staircase, and other work, probably coeval with Shakspere's house, which adjoined it. The stones remain on which the timber uprights for the side of Shakspere's house rested, and the mark of the old gable is to be traced on Nash's house, which was the higher of the two. Nash's house had only a narrow slip of garden ground; and the foundation of the dividing wall still remains. At the bottom of Shakspere's Great Garden (as it was called) were lately some cottages and a barn. The latter, it was thought, might have been Shakspere's, from the appearance of the timber; these have been pulled down, but the timbers of the barn have been preserved by Mr Halliwell, and are stowed away in a cellar. An extremely ugly red-brick building-it is a theatre-is thrust in upon the grounds of New Place, the entrance being in Chapel Lane. Mr. Halliwell wishes it to be bought, and it is certainly desirable that it should be, for it is not only ugly in itself, but prevents the laying out of the grounds in anything like symmetry. The land at present is in a state of most admired disorder: money is wanted. Mr. Hunt (the worthy town-clerk of Stratford, who takes a great interest in all relating to Shakspere) thinks the proposed plan of making it free to the public will not answer, as there must be, in any case, watchers employed to prevent mischief."
Mr. Halliwell has published a splendid quarto volume, descriptive of New Place. The Rev. G. C. M. Bellew has written an agreeable book, entitled 'Shakespere's Home at New Place.' In 1863 was issued 'A Brief Guide to the Gardens of Shakespear, and a Prospectus of the Shakespear Fund,' a pamphlet of sixteen pages. The opening is rather high-flown for A Brief Guide':
"Unless the visitor. . . can feel that he is treading on ground hallowed by the fact that here undoubtedly the Poet himself walked and meditated, and breathing the very air which was a breath to Shakespear, let him pass on to other scenes. It cannot be, however, but that interest will be raised, in the mind of every intelligent visitor, when told that these walls enclose the exact ground which formed the garden to the Poet's house.
"The evidences upon which this fact is established are too voluminous to be here introduced. Suffice it to say that they are incontrovertible, and that the exact boundaries, on all sides but one, that to the right on entering, have been ascertained to an inch."
The objects contemplated in the formation of "The Shakespeare Fund" are perhaps too grand to be realized in a country not much disposed to "Fetish worship."
'This fund was established in October, 1861, to accomplish the following objects:-1. The purchase of the Gardens of Shakespeare, at New Place. 2. The purchase of the remainder of the Birth-Place Estate. 3. The purchase of Anne Hathaway's Cottage, with an endowment for a custodian. 4. The purchase of Getley's Copyhold, Stratford-on-Avon. 5. The purchase of any other properties at or near Stratford-on-Avon, that either formerly belonged to Shakespeare, or are intimately connected with the memories of his life. 6. The culendering and preservation of those records at Stratford-on-Avon which illustrate the Poet's life, or the social life and history of Stratford-on-Avon in his time. And 7. The erection and endowment of a Shakespeare Library and Musoum at Stratford-on-Avon."
END OF THE BIOGRAPHY.
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