Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

66 Paul.

he saw pourtray'd That uncreated beauty, which delights

The mind supreme." Nor was he a less delighted worshipper of the imitative efforts of art. With what taste and enthusiasm he has spoken of the effects of music, has been already observed ; but it remains to notice in what a sublime spirit of piety he refers this concord of sweet sounds, to its source in that transcript of Almighty, “the world's harmonious volume:

There's not the smallest orb, which thou behold'st,
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eye'd cherubins:
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay

Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.” of the beauties of painting and sculpture he appears to have had a keen and lively discernment. On Julio Romano, the most poetical, perhaps, of painters, he has pronounced, that “had he himself eternity, and could put breath into his work, he' would beguile Nature of her custom; and of his masterly appreciation of the art of sculpture, the following lines from the The Winter's Tale, where Paulina unveils to Leontes the supposed statue of Hermione, afford evidence beyond all praise :

llere it is: prepare To see the life as lively mock'd, as ever

Still sleep mock'd death: behold; and say, 'tis well.”-&c. Act v. sc. 3. To the memory of a poet who, independent of the matchless talents which he has exhibited in his own peculiar province, had shown such proofs of his attachment to the sister arts, some tribute, from these departments of genius, might naturally be expected, and was certainly due. Nor was it long ere the debt of gratitude was paid; before the year 1623, a monument, containing a bust of the poet, had been erected in Stratford Church, immediately above the grave which inclosed his hallowed relics. The tradition of his native town is, that this bust was copied from a cast after nature. † It is placed beneath an arch, and between two Corinthian columns of black marble, and represents the poet in a sitting posture, with a cushion spread before him, holding a pen in his right hand, whilst his Jest rests upon a scroll of paper. The entablature exhibits the arms of Shakspeare surmounted by a death's head, with an infantine form sitting on each side; that on the right supporting, in the same hand, a spade, and the figure on the left, whose eyes are closed, reposing its right hand on a skull, whilst the other holds an inverted torch. On a tablet below the cushion are engraved the two following inscriptions :

" Judicio Pylivm, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,

Terra tegit, popvlvs mæret, Olympvs habet.”
“ Stay passenger, why goest thov by so fast,

Read, if thov canst, whom envious death hath plast
Within this monument, Shakspeare ; with whome
Quick natvre dide; whose name doth deck ys tombe
Far more than cost; sieth all yt. he hath writt,
Leaves living art, bvt page to serve his witt.

Obiit Ano. Doi. 1616. Etatis 53. Die 23. Ap.”

a

[ocr errors]

Akenside's Pleasures of Imagination, book i. + Wheler's Guide to Stratford, p. 87.-“If Shakspeare's and Lord Totness's tombs," says

Mr. Wheler, were erected by one and the same artist, circumstances not at all improbable, it would not appear that he (Thomas Stanton, the Sculptor, had any want of skill in preserving a resemblance; for the monumental likeness of Lord Totness strongly resembles the capital paintings of him in Clopton House, and at Gorhambury,'in Hertfordshire, as well as the engraving of luim prefixed to his · Hibernia Pacata,' a posthumous publication in 1633."

# The arms on this monument, are.--Or, on a bend sable, a tilting spear of the first, point upwards, leaded argent. --Crest, A falcon displayed argent, supporting a spear in pale'or.--Vide Shakspeare's Works, p. xvi. Paris edition, 2 vol. 8 yo.

A lat stone which covers his grave, presents us with these singular lines, said to have been written by the bard himself, and which were probably suggested, as Mr. Malone has remarked, " by an apprehension that ‘his' remains might share the same fate with those of the rest of his countrymen, and be added to the immense pile of human bones deposited in the charnel-house at Stratford:

“ Good frend, for Jesvs sake forbeare

To digg the dvst encloased heare;
Blese be ye. man yt. spares thes stones,

And cvrst be he yt. moves my bones.” “We view the monumental bust of Shakspeare,” observes Mr. Brilton,“ as a family record ; as a memorial raised by the affection and esteem of his relatives, to keep alive contemporary admiration, and to excite the glow of enthusiasm in posterity. This invaluable ' effigy' is attested by tradition, consecrated by time, and preserved in the in violability of ils own simplicity and sacred station. It was evidently executed immediately after the poet's decease; and probably under the superintendance of bis son-in-law, Dr. Hall, and his daughter; the latter of whom, according to her epitaph, was ' witly above her sexe,' and therein like her father. Leonard Digges, in a poem, praising the works and worth of Shakspeare, and published within seven years after his death, speaks of the Stratford monument as a well-known object. Dugdale, in his “Antiquities of Warwickshire,' 1656, gives a plate of the monument, but drawn and engraved in a truly tasteless and inaccurale style, and observes in the text, that the poel was famous, and thus entitled to such distinction. Langbaine, in his · Account of English Dramatic Poets,' 1691, pronounces the Stratford bust Sbakspeare's “true esligies.' These are decided proofs of its antiquity; and we may safely conclude that it was intended to be a faithful portrait of the poet.

“ 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 hazle, and the hair and beard auburn ; the doublet or coat was scarlet, and covered with a loose black gown, or tabard, without sleves; 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 , t in 1748, from the profits of the representation of Othello. This was a generous, and apparently judicious act, and therefore very funlike 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 coals of while paint; and thus at once destroyed its original character, and greatly injured the expression of the face. Having absurdly characterized this expression for ' perlness,'. and therefore ' differing from that placid composure and thoughtful gravity so perceplible in bis original portrait, and his best prints,' Mr. M. could have few scruples about injuring or destroying it. In this very act, and in this line of comment, our zealous appolator has passed an irrevocable sentence on his own judgment. If the opinions of some of the best sculptors and painters of the metropolis are entitled to respect and confidence on such a subject, that of Mr. Malone is at once false and absurd. They justly remark, that the face indicates cheerfulness, good humour, suavily, benignity and intelligence. These characteristics are developed by the mouth and its muscles-by the cheeks-eye-brows--forehead—and skull; and hence they rationally infer, that the face is worked from nature."S

[ocr errors]

* “ Although the practice of painting statues and busts to imitate nature is repugnant to good taste, and must be stigmatized as vulgar and hostile to every principle of art, yet when an etligy is thus coloured and transmitted to us, as illustrative of a particular age or people, and as a record of fashion and costume, it becomes an interesting relie, and should be preserved with as much care as an Etruscan vase, or an early specimen of Raflael's painting ; and the man who deliberately defaces or destroys either, will ever be regarded as a criminal in the high court of criticism and taste. From an absence of this feeling, mang truly cnrious, and, to us, important subjects have been destroyed. Among which is to be noticed a vast monument of antiquity on Marbrongh Downs, in Wiltshire; and which, though once the most stupendous work of human labour and skill in Great Britain, is now nearly demolished. Britton.

+ “ Wheler's Guide, p. 90.

# “ Mr Wheler, in his interesting Topographical Vade Mecum, relating to Stratford, has given publicity to the following stanzas, which were written in the Album, at Stratford church, by one of the visitors to Shakspeare's tomb."

Stranger, to whom this Monument is shown,
Invoke the Poet's curses on Malone ;
Whose meddling zeal his barbarous taste displays,

And daubs his tomb-stone, as he marr'd bis plays." “ Britton's Remarks on the Monumental Bust of Shakspeare.” These Remarks, which were published ou April 23, 1816, “The Anniversary of the Birth and Death of Shakspeare, and the Second Centenary

66

[ocr errors]

.

With these observations, which seem the result of a just and discriminating judgment, we feel happy in coinciding; having had an opportunity, in the summer of 1815, of visiting this celebrated monument, for the purpose of gratifying what we conceive to be a laudable curiosity. When on the spot, we felt convinced, from the circumstances which have been preserved relative to the erection of this bust; from the period of life at which the poet died, and above all from the character, distinctness and expression of the features themselves, that this invaluable relique may be considered as a correct resemblance of our beloved bard.

That he was “ a handsome well-shaped man,” we are expressly informed by Aubrey, and universal tradition has attributed to him cheerfulness and good temper. Now the Stratford effigy tells us all this, together with the character of his age, in language which cannot be mistaken; and it once superadded to the little which has been recorded of his person, what we have no doubt was accurately given by the original painter of his bust, the colour of his eyes and the beautiful auburn of his hair.

But it tells us still more; for the impress of that mighty mind which ranged at will through all the realms of nature and of fancy, and which, though incessantly employed in the personification of passion and of feeling, was ever great without effort, and at peace within itself, is visible in the exquisite harmony and symmetry of the whole head and countenance, which, not only in each separate feature, in the swell and expansion of the forehead, in the commanding sweep of the eye brow, in the undulating outline of the nose, and in the open sweetness of the lips, but in their combined and integral expression, breathe of him, of whom it may be said, in his own emphatic language, that

« We ne'er shall look upon his like again." Very shortly after the erection of this monument, appeared the first folio edition of our author's plays, in the title-page of which, bearing the date of 16-23, is found the earliest print of Shakspeare, an engraving by Martin Droeshout, with the following attestation of its verisimilitude from the pen of Ben Jonson :

“ TO THE READER.
“ Tuis figure that thou here seest put,

It was for gentle Shakspeare cut;
Wherein the graver had a strise
With nature, to out-do the life.
0, could he but have drawn his wit,
As well in brass, as he hath hit
His face, the print would then surpass
All that was ever writ in brass;
But since he cannot, reader, look,

Not on his picture, but his book.” Between the wretched engraving, thus undeservedly eulogised, and the monumental bust at Stratford, there is certainly such a resemblance as to prove, that the assertion of Jonson with regard to its likeness, was not altogether without foundation; but, as Mr. Steevens has well remarked, “ Shakspeare's countenance, deformed by Droeshout, resembles the sign of Sir Roger de Coverley, when it had been changed into a Saracen's head; on which occasion The Spectator observes, that the features of the gentle Knight were still apparent through the lineaments of the ferocious Mussulman.”

There is, however, a much greater, nay, a very close and remarkable simili

a

after his Decease,” are accompanied by an admirably executed Mezzotinto of Shakspeare from the Monumental Bust; engraved by William Ward, from a Painting by Thomas Phillips, Esq. R. A. after a Cast made from the original bist by George Bullock.

Mr. Britton had previously expressed a similar opinion of the merits and fidelity of this Bust, in some very ingenious and well-written “ Remarks on the Life and Writings of Shakspeare,"prefixed to an edition of the Poet's Plays, by Whittingham and Arliss.

tude, between the engraving, from the Felton Shakspeare, and the bust at Stratford. What basis Mr. Gilchrist may have had for his observation, that “ Mr. Steevens failed in communicating to the public his confidence in the integrity of Mr. Felton's picture,” we know not; * but, if the most striking affinity to the monumental elligy be deemed, as we think it ought to be, a proof of authenticity, this picture is entitled to our confidence : for whether we consider the general contour of the head, or the particular conformation of the forehead, eyes, nose, or mouth, the resemblance is complete; the only perceptible deviation being in the construction of the eye-brows, which, instead of forming nearly a perfect arch, as in the sculpture, have an horizontal direction, and are somewhat elevated towards the temples.

We have now reached the termination of a work, of which whatever shall be its reception with the public, even Diffidence itself may say, that it has been prosecuted with incessant labour and unwearied research; with an ardent desire to give it a title to acceptance, and with an anxiety, which has proved injurious to health, that it should be deemed not altogether unworthy of the bard whose name it bears.

It has also been a labour of love, and, though much indisposition has accompanied several of the years devoted to its construction, it is closed with a mingled sensation of gratitude, for what of health and strength has been spared to its author; of regret, in relinquishing, what, with all its concomitant anxieties, has been often productive of rational delight; and of hope, that, in the inevitable hour which is fast approaching, no portion of its pages shall suggest a thought, which can add poignancy to suffering, or bitterness to recollection.

Gifford's Jonson, vol. i.

P.

ccclviii.

APPENDIX.

SHAKSPEARE'S WILL.

(From the Original, in the Office of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.)

Vicesimo quinto die Marlii, Anno Regni Domini nostri Jacobi nunc Regis Angliæ, etc. decimo

quarto, et Scute quadragesimo nono. Anno Domini, 1616.

[ocr errors]

In the name of God, Amen. I WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gent, in perfect health and memory,* (God be praised !) do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following ; that is to say :

First, I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour, to be made parlaker of life everlasting ; and my body to the earth whereof it is made.

Item, I give and bequeath unlo my daughter Judith, one hundred and fifty pounds of lawful English money, to be paid unto her in manner and form following ; that is to say, one hundred pounds in discharge of her marriage-portion wilbin one year after my decease, with consideration after the rate of two shillings in the pound + for so long time as the same shall be unpaid unto her after my decease; and the fifty pounds residue thereof, upon her surrendering of, or giving of such sullicient security as the overseers of this my will shall like of, to surrender or grant, all her eslale and right that shall descend or come unto her after my decease, or that sbe now bath, of, in, or to, one copy hold lenement, with the appurtenances, lying and being in Stratford-upon-Avon aforesaid, in the said county of Warwick, being parcel or holden of the manor of Rowinglon, unto my daughter Susanna Hall, and ber heirs for ever.

Item, I give and bequeath unlo my said daughter Judith one hundred and fifty pounds more, if she, or any issue of her body, be living at the end of three years next ensuing the day of the date of this my will, during wbich time my executors lo pay her consideration from my decease according to the rate aforesaid : and if she die within the said term without issue of her body, then my will is, and I do give and bequeath one hundred pounds thereof to my niece 6 Elizabeth Hall,

[ocr errors]

From the short period which clapsed between the date of this Will and the death of the poet, we must infer, that the “ malady which at so early a period of life deprived England of its brightest ornament,” was sudden in its attack, and rapid in its progress.

+ Ten per cent., we find from this passage, was the usual interest of money in our author's days; and in the epitaph on Mr. Combe, as preserved by Aubrey, this old gentleman is censured for taking twelve per

cent. :

“But Combes will have twelve, he sweares and he vowes."

to my niece--) « Elizabeth Hall was our poet's grand-daughter. So, in Othello, act i. sc. I, lago says to Brabantió: "You'll have your nephews neigh to you;' meaning his grand children.” Malone.

« VorigeDoorgaan »