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now Mr. Felton's, is an undertaking difficult enough; and yet conjecture may occasionally be sent out on a more hopeless errand.
The old pictures at Tichfield House, as part of the Wriothesley property, were divided, not many years ago, between the Dukes of Portland and Beaufort. Some of these paintings that were in good condition were removed to Bulstrode, where two portraits of Shakspeare's Earl of Southampton are still preserved. What became of other heads which time or accident had impaired, and at what period the remains of the furniture, &c. of his Lordship's venerable mansion were sold off and dispersed, it may be fruitless to enquire.
Yet, as the likeness of our author lately redeemed from obscurity was the work of some eminent Flemish artist, it was probably painted for a personage of distinction, and might therefore have belonged to the celebrated Earl whom Shakspeare had previously complimented by the dedication of his Venus and Adonis. Surely, it is not unreasonable to suppose, that a resemblance of our excellent dramatick poet might have been found in the house of a nobleman who is reported to have loved him well enough to have presented him with a thousand pounds.
To conclude-the names which have honoured
One of these portraits is on canvas, and therefore the genuineness of it is controverted, if not denied.
In the numerous List of Gentlemen who thoroughly examined this original Picture, were convinced of its authenticity, and immediately became Subscribers to W. Richardson, are the names of Dr. Farmer, Mr. Cracherode, Mr. Bindley, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir George Shuckburgh, Mr. Chalmers, Mr. Reed, Mr. Ritson, Mr. Douce, Mr. Markham, Mr. Weston, Mr. Lysons, Mr. James, Col. Stanley, Mr. Combe, Mr. Lodge, Mess. Smith, sen. and jun. Mr. Nicol, Mr. Boaden, Mr. Pearce, Mr.
the subscription for an engraving from this newfound portrait of Shakspeare, must be allowed to furnish the most decisive estimate of its value.
[Since the foregoing Paper was received, we have been authorized to inform the Publick, that Messieurs Boydell and Nicol are so thoroughly convinced of the genuineness of Mr. Felton's Shakspeare, that they are determined to engrave it as a Frontispiece to their splendid Edition of our Author, instead of having recourse to the exploded Picture inherited by the Chandos Family.]
From the European Magazine, for December,
Whitefoord, Mr. Thane, Mess. Boydell, Mr. G. Romney, Mr. Lawrence, (Portrait-painter to his Majesty,) Mr. Bowyer, (Miniature-painter to his Majesty,) Mr. Barry, R. A. (Professor of Painting,) &c. &c. &c.
The following pages, on account of their connection with the subject of Mr. Richardson's Remarks, are suffered to stand as in our last edition.
PREFIXED TO EDITION 1793.
THE reader may observe that, contrary to former usage, no head of Shakspeare is prefixed to the present edition of his plays. The undisguised fact is this. The only portrait of him that even pretends to authenticity, by means of injudicious cleaning, or some other accident, has become little better than the "shadow of a shade." The late Sir Joshua Reynolds indeed once suggested, that whatever person it was designed for, it might have been left, as it now appears, unfinished. Various copies and plates, however, are said at different times to have been made from it; but a regard for truth obliges us to confess that they are all unlike each other, and convey no distinct resemblance
Such, we think, were the remarks, that occurred to us several years ago, when this portrait was accessible. We wished indeed to have confirmed them by a second view of it; but a late accident in the noble family to which it belongs, has precluded us from that satisfaction.
Vertue's portraits have been over-praised on account of their fidelity; for we have now before us six different heads of Shakspeare engraved by him, and do not scruple to assert that they have individually a different cast of countenance. Cucullus non facit monachum. The shape of our author's ear-ring and fallingband may correspond in them all, but where shall we find an equal conformity in his features?
Few objects indeed are occasionally more difficult to seize, than the slender traits that mark the character of a face; and the
of the poor remains of their avowed original. Of the drapery and curling hair exhibited in the excellent engravings of Mr. Vertue, Mr. Hall, and Mr. Knight, the painting does not afford a vestige; nor is there a feature or circumstance on the whole canvas, that can with minute precision be delineated. We must add, that on very vague and dubious authority this head has hitherto been received as a genuine portrait of our author, who probably left behind him no such memorial of his face. As he was careless of the future state of his works, his solicitude might not have extended to the perpetuation of his looks. Had any portrait of him existed, we may naturally suppose it must have belonged to his family, who (as Mark Antony says of a hair of Cæsar) would
have mention'd it within their wills,
and were there ground for the report that Shakspeare was the real father of Sir William D'Avenant, and that the picture already spoken of was painted for him, we might be tempted to observe with our author, that the
"Was kinder to his father, than his daughters
But in support of either supposition sufficient evi. dence has not been produced. The former of these
eye will often detect the want of them, when the most exact mechanical process cannot decide on the places in which they are omitted.-Vertue, in short, though a laborious, was a very indifferent draughtsman, and his best copies too often exhibit a general instead of a particular resemblance.
tales has no better foundation than the vanity of our degener Neoptolemus," and the latter originates from modern conjecture. The present age will probably allow the vintner's ivy to Sir William, but
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 practise on his credulity; and would most certainly have believed the person who should have told him that Shakspeare himself was a natural son of Queen Elizabeth.
An additional and no less pleasant proof of Aubrey's cullibility, may be found at the conclusion of one of his own Letters to Mr. Ray; where, after the enumeration of several wonderful methods employed by old women and Irishmen to cure the gout, agues, and the bloody flux, he adds: "Sir Christopher Wren told me once [eating of strawberries] that if one that has a wound in the head eats them, 'tis mortal."
See Philosophical Letters between the late learned Mr. Ray &c. Published by William Derham, Chaplain to his Royal Highness George Prince of Wales, & F. R. Š. 8vo. 1718, p. 251.
In the foregoing instance our letter-writer seems to have been perfectly unconscious of the jocularity of Sir Christopher, who would have meant nothing more by his remark, than to secure his strawberries, at the expence of an allusion to the crack in poor Aubrey's head. Thus when Falstaff" did desire to eat some prawns," Mrs. Quickly told him "they were ill for a green wound.".
Mr. T. Warton has pleasantly observed that he "cannot suppose Shakspeare to have been the father of a Doctor 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 Shakspeare "never holp to make it." So despicable, indeed, is his countenance as represented by Faithorne, that it appears to have sunk that celebrated engraver beneath many a common artist in the same line.