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it from that quarter. In either case then we may suppose, that the legend relative to the name of its painter, and the place where it was found, (notwithstanding both these particulars might be true,) were at hazard appended to the portrait under consideration, as soon as its similitude to Shakspeare had been acknowledged, and his name discovered on the back of it. This circumstance, however, cannot affect the credit of the picture; for (as the late Lord Mansfield observed in the Douglas controversy)" there are instances in which falshood has been employed in support of a real fact, and that it is no uncommon thing for a man to defend a true cause by fabulous pretences.'
That Shakspeare's family possessed no resemblance of him, there is sufficient reason to believe. Where then was this fashionable and therefore necessary adjunct to his works to be sought for? If any where, in London, the theatre of his fame and fortune, and the only place where painters, at that period, could have expected to thrive by their profession. We may suppose too, that the booksellers who employed Droeshout, discovered the object of their research by the direction of Ben Jonson, who in the following lines has borne the most ample testimony to the verisimilitude of a portrait which will now be recommended, by a more accurate and finished engraving, to the publick notice :
The tradition that Burbage painted a likeness of Shakspeare, has been current in the world ever since the appearance of Mr. Granger's Biographical History.
It is not improbable that Ben Jonson furnished the Dedication and Introduction to the first folio, as well as the Commendatory Verses prefixed to it.
"The figure, that thou here seest put,
"With Nature, to outdoo the life:
That the legitimate resemblance of such a man has been indebted to chance for its preservation, would excite greater astonishment, were it not recollected, that a portrait of him has lately become an object of far higher consequence and estimation than it was during the period he flourished in, and the twenty years succeeding it; for the profession of a player was scarcely then allowed to be reputable. This remark, however, ought not to stand unsupported by a passage in The Microcosmos of John Davies of Hereford, 4to. 1605, p. 215, where, after having indulged himself in a long and severe strain of satire on the vanity and affectation of the actors of his age, he subjoins
His face:] It should seem from these words, that the plate prefixed to the folio 1623 exhibited such a likeness of Shakspeare as satisfied the eye of his contemporary, Ben Jonson, who, on an occasion like this, would hardly have ventured to assert what it was in the power of many of his readers to contradict. When will evidence half so conclusive be produced in favour of the Davenantico-Bettertonian-Barryan-Keckian-Nicolsian-Chandosan canvas, which bears not the slightest resemblance to the original of Droeshout's and Marshall's engraving?
"Players, I loue yee and your qualitie,
"Wit, courage, good shape, good partes, are all good,
The reader will observe from the initials in the margin of the third of these wretched lines, that W. Shakspeare was here alluded to as the poet, and R. Burbage as the painter.
Yet notwithstanding this compliment to the higher excellencies of our author, it is almost certain that his resemblance owes its present safety to the shelter of a series of garrets and lumber-rooms, in which it had sculked till it found its way into the broker's shop from whence the discernment of a modern connoisseur so luckily redeemed it.
It may also be observed, that an excellent original of Ben Jonson was lately bought at an obscure auction by Mr. Ritson of Gray's Inn, and might once have been companion to the portrait of Shakspeare thus fortunately restored, after having been lost to the publick for a century and a half. They are, nevertheless, performances by very different artists. The face of Shakspeare was imitated by a delicate pencil, that of Jonson by a bolder hand. It is not designed, however, to appretiate the distinct value of these pictures; though it must be allowed (as several undoubted originals of old Ben
are all good,
As long as all these goods are no worse us'd;] So, in our author's Othello:
"Where virtue is, these are most virtuous."
are extant) that an authentick head of Shakspeare is the greater desideratum.
To conclude those who assume the liberty of despising prints when moderately executed, may be taught by this example the use and value of them; since to a coarse engraving by a second-rate artist, the publick is indebted for the recovery of the only genuine portrait of its favourite Shakspeare.
PRINTSELLER, CASTLE STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE,
FOR THE PUBLICATION OF
FROM THE PICTURE ALREADY DESCRIBED.
THESE Plates are to be engraved of an octavo size, and in the most finished style, by T. Trotter. A fac-simile of the hand-writing, date, &c. at the
9 There is reason to believe that Shakspeare's is the earliest known portrait of Droeshout's engraving. No wonder then that his performances twenty years after, are found to be executed with a somewhat superior degree of skill and accuracy. Yet still he was a poor engraver, and his productions are sought for more on account of their scarcity than their beauty. He seems indeed to have pleased so little in this country, that there are not above six or seven heads of his workmanship to be found.
back of the picture, will be given at the bottom of one of them.
They will be impressed both on octavo and quarto paper, so as to suit the best editions of the plays of Shakspeare.
Price of the pair to Subscribers 7s. 6d. No Proofs will be taken off. Non-subscribers 10s. 6d. The money to be paid at the time of subscribing, or at the delivery of the prints, which will be ready on December 1st, 1794.
Such portions of the hair, ruff, and drapery, as are wanting in the original picture, will be supplied from Droeshout's and Marshall's copies of it, in which the inanimate part of the composition may be safely followed. The mere outline in half of the plate that accompanies the finished one, will serve to ascertain how far these supplements have been adopted. To such scrupulous fidelity the publick (which has long been amused by inadequate or ideal likenesses of Shakspeare) has an undoubted claim; and should any fine ladies and gentlemen of the present age be disgusted at the stiff garb of our author, they may readily turn their eyes aside, and feast them on the more easy and elegant suit of clothes provided for him by his modern tailors, Messieurs Zoust, Vertue, Houbraken, and the humble imitators of their supposititious drapery.
The dress that Shakspeare wears in this ancient picture, might have been a theatrical one; as in the course of observation such another habit has not occurred. Marshall, when he engraved from the same portrait, materially altered its paraphernalia, and, perhaps, because he thought a stage garb did not stand so characteristically before a volume of Poems as before a collection of Plays; and yet it