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bited 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
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
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.
dence has not been produced. The former of these tales has no better foundation than the vanity of our degener Neoptolemus, (see Vol. II. p. 428.) and the latter originates from modern conjecture. The present age will probably allow the vintner's ivy to Sir William, but with equal justice will withhold from him the poet's bays. To his pretensions of descent from Shakspeare, one might almost be induced to apply a ludicrous passage uttered by Fielding's Phaeton in the Suds:
by all the parish boys I'm flamm'd: "You the SUN's son, you rascal! you be d-d.”
About the time when this picture found its way into Mr. Keck's hands,† the verification of por
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.
Mr. T. Warton has pleasantly observed (see p. 68. n. 3.) 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.
+ See Vol. I. p. 29.
traits was so little attended to, that both the Earl of Oxford, and Mr. Pope, admitted a juvenile one of King James I. as that of Shakspeare.* Among the heads of illustrious persons engraved by Houbraiken, are several imaginary ones, beside Ben Jonson's and Otway's; and old Mr. Langford positively asserted that, in the same collection, the grandfather of Cock the auctioneer had the honour to personate the great and amiable Thurloe, secretary of state to Oliver Cromwell.
From the price of forty guineas paid for the supposed portrait of our author to Mrs. Barry, the real value of it should not be inferred. The possession of somewhat more animated than canvas, might have been included, though not specified, in a bargain with an actress of acknowledged gallantry.
Yet allowing this to be a mere fanciful insinuation, a rich man does not easily miss what he is ambitious to find. At least he may be persuaded
* Much respect is due to the authority of portraits that descend in families from heir to heir; but httle reliance can be placed on them when they are produced for sale (as in the present instance) by alien hands, almost a century after the death of the person supposed to be represented; and then, as Edmund says in King Lear) "come pat, like the catastrophe of the old comedy." Shakspeare was buried in 1616; and in 1708 the first notice of this picture occurs. Where there is such a chasm in evidence, the validity of it may be not unfairly questioned, and especially by those who remember a species of fraudulence recorded in Mr. Foote's Taste: "Clap Lord Dupe's arms on that half-length of Erasmus; I have sold it him as his great grandfather's third brother, for fifty guineas."
he has found it, a circumstance which, as far as it affects his own content, will answer, for a while, the same purpose. Thus the late Mr. Jennens of Gopsal in Leicestershire, for many years congratulated himself as owner of another genuine portrait of Shakspeare, and by Cornelius Jansen; nor was disposed to forgive the writer who observed that, being dated in 1610, it could not have been the work of an artist who never saw England till 1618, above a year after our author's death.
So ready, however, are interested people in assisting credulous ones to impose on themselves, that we will venture to predict,-if some opulent dupe to the flimsy artifice of Chatterton, should advertise a considerable sum of money for a portrait of the Pseudo-Rowley, such a desideratum would soon emerge from the tutelary crypts of St. Mary Redcliff at Bristol, or a hitherto unheard of repository in the tomb of Syr Thybbot Gorges at Wraxal.* It would also come attested as a
A kindred trick had actually been passed off by Chatterton on the late Mr. Barrett of Bristol, in whose back parlour was a pretended head of Canynge, most contemptibly scratched with a pen on a small square piece of yellow parchment, and framed and glazed as an authentick icon by the "curyous poyntil" of Rowley. But this same drawing very soon ceased to be stationary, was alternately exhibited and concealed, as the wavering faith of its possessor shifted about, and was prudently withheld at last from the publick eye. Why it was not inserted in the late History of Bristol, as well as l'owley's plan and elevation of its ancient castle, (which all the rules of all the ages of architecture pronounce to be spurious) let the Rowleian advocates inform us. We are happy at least to have recollected a single imposition that was too
strong likeness of our archaeological bard, on the faith of a parchment exhibiting the hand and seal of the dygne Mayster Wyllyam Canynge, setting forth that Mayster Thomas Rowlie was so entyrely and passynge wele belovyd of himself, or our poe tick knight, that one or the other causyd bys semblaunce to be ryght conynglye depeyncten on a merveillouse fayre table of wood, and ensevelyd wyth bym, that deth mote theym not clene departyn and putte asunder.-A similar imposition, however, would in vain be attempted on the editors of Shakspeare, who, with all the zeal of Rowleians, are happily exempt from their credulity.
A former plate of our author, which was copied from Martin Droeshout's in the title-page to the folio 1623, is worn out; nor does so " abominable an imitation of humanity" deserve to be restored. The smaller head, prefixed to the Poems in 1640,* is merely a reduced and reversed copy by Marshall from its predecessor, with a few slight changes in attitude and dress.-We boast therefore of no exterior ornaments, † except those of
gross for even these gentlemen to swallow.-Mr. Barrett, however, in the year 1776 assured Mr. Tyrwhitt and Mr. Steevens, that he received the aforesaid scrawl of Canynge from Chatterton, who described it as having been found in the prolifick chest secured by six, or six-andtwenty keys, no matter which.
*See Vol. I. p. 31.
+ They who wish for decorations adapted to this edition of Shakspeare, will find them in Silvester Harding's Portraits and Views, &c. &c. (appropriated to the whole suite of our author's Historical Dramas, &c.) published in thirty numbers.