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Leont. The fixure of her eye has motion in't,
Shall I draw the curtain ?
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 left 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. I
* Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. pp. 412-416. Act v. sc. 3.
+ 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 him prefixed to his . Hibernia Pacata,' a posthumous publication in 1633."-Vide p. 89.
I The arms on this monument, are, Or, on a bend sable, a tilting spear of the first, point upwards, headed argent. - Crest, A falcon displayed argent, supporting a spear in pale or
On a tablet below the cushion are engraved the two following inscriptions :
“ Judicio Pylivm, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
Terra tegit, popvlvs mæret, Olympvs habet.”
Read, if thov canst, whom envious death hath plast
Obiit Ano. Doi. 1616. Ætatis 53. Die 23. Ap.”
A flat 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 dyst encloased heare;
We view the monumental bust of Shakspeare, observes Mr. Britton, “ 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 inviolability of its own simplicity and sacred station. It was evidently executed immediately after the poet's decease; and probably under the superintendance of his son-in-law, Dr. Hall, and his daughter; the latter of whom, according to her epitaph, was witty above her sexe,' and therein like her father. Leonard Digges, in a poem prais
Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 90.
ing the works and worth of Shakspeare, and published within seven years after his death, speaks of the Stratford monument as a wellknown object. Dugdale, in his • Antiquities of Warwickshire, 1656,
' gives a plate of the monument, but drawn and engraved in a truly tasteless and inaccurate style, and observes in the text, that the poet was famous, and thus entitled to such distinction. Langbaine, in his • Account of English Dramatic Poets,' 1691, pronounces the Stratford bust Shakspeare's “ true effigies.' 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 sleeves; 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 f, in 1748, from the profits of the representation of Othello. This was a generous, and apparently judicious act; and therefore very unlike the next alteration it
* “ 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 effigy 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 relic, and should be preserved with as much care as an Etruscan vase, or an early specimen of Raffael'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, many truly curious, and, to us, important subjects have been destroyed. Among which is to be noticed a vast monument of antiquity on Marbrough 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."
was subjected to in 1793. In that year, Mr. Malone caused the bust to be covered over with one or more coats of white paint; and thus at once destroyed its original character, and greatly injured the expression of the face. * Having absurdly characterized this expression for pertness, and therefore differing from that placid composure and thoughtful gravity so perceptible in his 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 annotator 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, suavity, 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.” +
With these observations, which seem the result of a just and discriminating judgment, we feel happy in coinciding; having had an
* “ 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;
And daubs his tomb-stone, as he marr'd his plays." + “ Britton's Remarks on the Monumental Bust of Shakspeare.” These Remarks, which were published on April 23, 1816, “ The Anniversary of the Birth and Death of Shakspeare, and the Second Centenary 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 Bust 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.
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 1623, 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: