« السابقةمتابعة »
speare is there considerably fuller in the face, than in the engraving on the title-page of the folio of 1623, which must have been made from a different original. It seems not unlikely that after he separated himself from the business and anxiety of a professional life, and withdrew to the permanent inhaling of his native air, he became more robust, and the half-length upon his monument conveys the notion of a cheerful, good-tempered, fleshy, and somewhat jovial man. The expression, we apprehend, is less intellectual than it must have been in reality, and the forehead, though lofty and expansive, is not strongly marked with thought: on the whole, it has rather a look of gaiety and good humour than of thought and reflection, and the lips are full, and apparently in the act of giving utterance to some amiable pleasantry.
On a tablet below the bust are placed the following inscriptions, which we give literally :
“Ivdicio Pylivm, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
Terra tegit, popvlvs mæret, Olympvs habet.
Obiit ano Doi. 1616.
On a flat grave-stone in front of the monument, and not far from the wall against which it is fixed, we read these lines ; and Dowdell, Southwell's correspondent (whose letter was printed in 1838, from the original manuscript dated 1693) informs us, speaking of course from tradition, that they were written by Shakespeare himself shortly before his death :
“Good frend, for Iesys sake forbeare
The half-length on the title-page of the folio of 1623, engraved by Martin Droeshout, has certainly an expression of greater gravity than the bust on Shakespeare's monument; and, making some allowances, we can conceive the original of that resemblance more capable of producing the mighty works Shakespeare has left behind him, than the original of
the bust : at all events, the engraving rather looks like the author of " Lear” and “Macbeth," and the bust like the author of “Much Ado about Nothing ” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor:” the last may be said to represent Shakespeare during his later years at Stratford, free from literary labours and theatrical anxieties, happy in the intercourse of his family and friends, and the cheerful companion of his neighbours and townsmen; and the first, Shakespeare in London, revolving the great works he had written or projected, and with his mind somewhat burdened by the cares of his professional life. The engraving by Droeshout, therefore, is obviously the likeness which ought to accompany his plays, and which his "friends and fellows," Heminge and Condell, preferred to the head upon the “Stratford monument," of the erection of which they must have been aware.
There is one point in which both the engraving and the bust in a degree concur,—we mean in the length of the upper lip, although the peculiarity seems exaggerated in the bust. We have no such testimony in favour of the truth of the resemblance of the bust as of the engraving, opposite to which, in the folio of 1623, are the following lines, subscribed with the initials of Ben Jonson, and doubtless from his pen. Let the reader bear in mind that Ben Jonson was not a man who could be hired to commend, and that, taking it for granted he was sincere in his praise, he had the most unquestionable means of forming a judgment upon the subject of the likeness between the living man and the dead representation'. We give Ben Jonson's testimonial exactly as it stands in the folio of 1623, for it afterwards went through various literal changes.
6 It was originally, like many other monuments of the time, and some in Stratford church, coloured after the life, and so it continued until Malone, in his mistaken zeal for classical taste and severity, and forgetting the practice of the period at which the work was produced, had it painted one uniform stone colour. He thus exposed himself to much not unmerited ridicule. It was afterwards found impossible to restore the original colours, and we have consequently lost the shade of the hair, the colour of the eyes, and the appearance of the dress.
7 Besides, we may suppose that Jonson would be careful how he applauded the likeness, when there must have been so many persons living, who could have contradicted him, had the praise not been deserved. Jonson does not speak of the painter, but of the “graver," who we are inclined to think did full justice to the picture placed in his hands. Droeshout was a man of considerable eminence in his branch of art, and has left behind him undoubted proofs of his skill-some of them so much superior to the head of Shakespeare in the folio of 1623, as to lead to the conviction, that the picture from which he worked must have been a very coarse specimen of art.
“ TO THE READER.
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut;
With this evidence before us, we have not hesitated in having an exact copy of Droeshout's engraving executed for the present, as well as for the last edition of the Works of Shakespeare. It is, we believe, the first time it has ever been selected for that purpose since the appearance of the folio of 1623; and, although it may not be recommended by the appearance of so high a style of art as some other imputed resemblances, there is certainly not one which has such undoubted claims to our notice on the grounds of fidelity and authenticity.
The fact that Droeshout was required to employ his skill upon a bad picture may tend to confirm our reliance upon the likeness : had there been so many pictures of Shakespeare as some have contended, but as we are far from believing, Heminge and Condell, when they were seeking for an appropriate ornament for the title-page of their folio, would hardly have chosen one which was an unskilful painting, if it had not been a striking resemblance. If only half the pictures said, within the last century, to represent Shakespeare, were in fact from the life, the poet must have possessed a vast stock of patience, if not a larger share of vanity, when he devoted so much time to sitting to the artists of the day; and the player-editors could have found no difficulty in procuring a picture, which had better pretensions to their approval. To us, therefore, the very defects of the engraving, which accompanies the folio of 1623, are a recommendation, since they serve to show that it was both genuine and faithful".
What is known as the Chandos portrait of Shakespeare certainly places it next to Droeshout's engraving and the Stratford bust in point of authenticity. It can be traced back, through Mrs. Barry and Betterton, to Sir W. Davenant; and some years ago, by permission of the late Earl of Ellesmere, it was engraved for the Shakespeare Society. It was bought for the Earl by the editor of the present VOL. I.
Aubrey is the only authority, beyond the inferences that may be drawn from the portraits, of the personal appearance of Shakespeare; and he sums up our great poet's physical and moral endowments in two lines :—“He was a handsome well-shaped man, very good company, and of a very ready, and pleasant, and smooth wit.” We have every reason to suppose that this is a correct description of his personal appearance, but we are unable to add to it from any other source, unless indeed we were to rely upon a few equivocal passages in the “Sonnets." Upon this authority it has been supposed by some that he was lame, and certainly the 37th and 89th Sonnets, without allowing for a figurative mode of expression, might be taken to import as much. If we were to consider the words literally, we should imagine that some accident had befallen him, which rendered it impossible that he should continue on the stage, and hence we could easily account for his early retirement from it. We know that such was the case with one of his most famous predecessors, Christopher Marlowe', but we have no sufficient reason for believing it was the fact as regards Shakespeare: he is speaking metaphorically in both places, where "lame” and “lameness” occur.
His social qualities, his good temper, hilarity, vivacity, and what Aubrey calls his “very ready, and pleasant, and smooth wit,” (in our author's own words,“ pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation,") cannot be doubted, since, besides what may be gathered from his works, we have it from various quarters; and although nothing very good of this kind may have descended to us, we have sufficient to show that he must have been a welcome visitor in all companies. The epithet “gentle” has been frequently applied to him, twice by Ben Jonson, (in his lines before the engraving, and in his laudatory verses prefixed to the plays in the folio of 1623) and if it be not to be understood precisely in its modern acceptation, we may be sure that one distinguishing feature in his character was general kindliness : he may have been "sharp and sententious,” but never needlessly bitter or ill
impression of Shakespeare's Works at the sale at Stowe, and it was afterwards presented by Lord Ellesmere to the National Portrait Gallery. It cost the last possessor nearly 4001.
See the extract from a ballad on Marlowe, p. 86]. This circumstance, had he known it, would materially have aided the modern sceptic, who argued that Shakespeare and Marlowe were one and the same.
natured: his wit had no malice for an ingredient. Fuller speaks of the “wit-combats" between Shakespeare and Ben Jonson at the convivial meetings at the Mermaid club, established by Sir Walter Raleigh'; and he adds, “which two I behold like a Spanish great galleon and an English man-of-war: Master Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in learning; solid, but slow in his performances : Shakespeare, with the English man-of-war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about, and take advantage of all winds by the quickness of his wit and invention?.” The simile is well chosen, and it came from a writer who seldom said anything ill’. Connected with Ben Jonson's solidity and slowness is a witticism between him and Shakespeare, said to have passed at a tavern. One of the Ashmolean manuscripts (No. 38) contains the following:
“Mr. Ben Jonson and Mr. Wm. Shakespeare being merrie at a tavern, Mr. Jonson begins this for his epitaph,
Here lies Ben Jonson
Who was once one:
That, while he liv'd, was a slow thing,
I Gifford (" Ben Jonson's Works,” Vol.i. p. lxv) fixes the date of the establish. ment of this club, at the Mermaid, about 1603, and he adds that “here for many years Ben Jonson repaired with Shakespeare, Beaumont, Fletcher, Selden, Cotton, Carew, Martin, Donne, and many others, whose names, even at this distant period, call up a mingled feeling of reverence and respect.” Of what passed at these many assemblies Beaumont thus speaks, addressing Ben Jonson :
" What things have we seen
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest." Mr. P. Cunningham, in his “ Handbook of London,” 2nd edit. 1850, p. 332, has shown, on the authority of Ben Jonson himself, that the Mermaid was not in Friday Street, but in Bread Street, Cheapside ; where there was a house of enter. tainment with that sign as early as the year 1464.
3 “Worthies." Part iii. p. 126, folio edit.
3 Fuller has another simile, on the same page, respecting Shakespeare and his acquirements, which is worth quoting. “He was an eminent instance of the truth of that rule, Poeta non fit, sed nascitur; one is not made, but born a poet. Indeed his learning was very little, so that, as Cornish diamonds are not polished by any lapidary, but are pointed and smooth even as they are taken out of the earth, so nature itself was all the art which was used upon him.” Of course Fuller is here only referring to Shakespeare's classical acquirements: his " learning," of a different kind, perhaps exceeded that of all the ancients put together.