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that such a remark is wholly groundless. That no such portrait could have belonged to D'Avenant, is attempted to be shown by a humorous denial of the tradition handed down to us by Aubrey, that Sir William was our poet's son; and a pleasant remark by Mr. Warton is quoted, that " he cannot suppose Shakspeare to have been the father of a Doctor of Divinity, that never laughed;" which only goes to prove that Shakspeare could not have been the father of D'Avenant's brother. But without giving any credence to this antiquated scandal (for the truth of which I have certainly no wish to contend), Sir William was certainly Shakspeare's god-son; was likely, without any connection of this sort, to have been desirous of obtaining his resemblance, from admiration of his genius; and so nearly his contemporary as to have the means of ascertaining, either by his own recollection, or from others, how far it was correct. Of Betterton, Mr. Steevens has said nothing, but proceeds per saltum to the purchase of this picture by Mr. Keck from Mrs. Barry." The possession of somewhat more animated than canvas, might have been included, though not specified in a bargain with an actress of acknowledged gallantry." It is difficult to deal with an argument that only supposes that something might have happened; but it may as fairly be observed, that a picture is not generally thrown into the bargain in negociations of this nature. The authority of Sir Joshua Reynolds is covertly introduced against the authenticity of this portrait, he having, we are told," suggested that whatever person it was designed for, it might have been left, as it now appears, in an unfinished state *!" In opposition to this insinuation, Mr. Malone has remarked, that when, by the permission of the Duke of Chandos, he had a drawing from the original, made by Mr. Ozias Humphrey, Sir Joshua was frequently present during its progress, and himself, although this portrait is said to have been "the
* Mr. Steevens's Advertisement, p. 253.
shadow of a shade," contrived to produce a copy of it, without any supplement whatever, for Dr. Newton, the Bishop of Bristol, which Mr. Malone afterwards purchased; and during the long intimacy which subsisted between my late friend and that great painter, never intimated a suspicion that this portrait was not a genuine representation of Shakspeare.
Mr. Steevens was satisfied for some years with decrying all the existing portraits of Shakspeare, but latterly adopted a new hypothesis; and having rejected the Chandos canvas, as not having sufficient evidence in its favour, advanced the pretensions of another portrait, which confessedly was not supported by any evidence at all, but, on the contrary, was ushered into the world with a story which he himself has shown to be false *. The whole circumstances attending its discovery, which are detailed in Mr. Richardson's Proposals †, will forcibly remind us of Mr. Steevens's own words, when speaking of the Chandos portrait, but which are much more applicable to that which he endeavoured to recommend to the publick. "Much respect is due to the authority of portraits that descend in families from heir to heir; but little 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 well be 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 grand-father's third brother, for
* Mr. Steevens's Advertisement, p. 253.
fifty guineas." In support of the Felton portrait, another century must be added to the demands made upon our credulity; and the patching and doctoring which this picture required before any thing could be made of it, will not, perhaps, place its authority on a much higher ground than that of Lord Dupe's ancestor. There are not, indeed, wanting those who suspect that Mr. Steevens was better acquainted with the history of its manufacture, and that there was a deeper meaning in his words, when he tells us, "he was instrumental in procuring it+," than he would have wished to be generally understood; and that the fabricator of the Hardiknutian tablet had been trying his ingenuity upon a more important scale. My venerable friend, the late Mr. Bindley, of the Stamp-office, was reluctantly persuaded, by his importunity, to attest his opinion in favour of this picture, which he did in deference to the judgment of one so well acquainted with Shakspeare; but happening to glance his eye upon Mr. Steevens's face, he instantly perceived, by the triumph depicted in the peculiar expression of his countenance, that he had been deceived. If any thing more were necessary to destroy its credit, it would be found in what he himself has stated that it was seen by Lord Leicester, and Horace Walpole [Lord Orford], who both believed it to be genuine; yet neither of them would purchase it for five pounds!! The proprietors of this edition were not desirous of having it re-engraved, and I had no wish to give further currency to what Mr. Malone did not hesitate to declare a fabrication, although I have preserved Mr. Steevens's amusing essays in its defence. The publick, however, naturally feel anxious to be put in possession of any thing which purports upon probable grounds to exhibit to us the features of gentle Shakspeare; and, therefore, it is with great satisfaction that I have prefixed to the second volume of this work, an engraving from a miniature, in the possession of Sir James Bland Burges, * Mr. Steevens's Advertisement, p. 255. + Ibid. p. 82.
which infinitely better judges than myself have pronounced to bear the strongest marks of authenticity. The account which I received of it from Sir James, I will take the liberty to subjoin in his own words :
"Lower Brook-street, 26th June, 1818.
"I SEND you the history of my portrait of Shakspeare, which I apprehend will leave no reason to doubt of its authenticity.
"Mr. Somerville of Edstone, near Stratford-upon-Avon, ancestor of Somerville, author of the Chace, &c. lived in habits of intimacy with Shakspeare, particularly after his retirement from the stage, and had this portrait painted, which, as you will perceive, was richly set, and was carefully preserved by his descendants, till it came to the hands of his great grand-son, the poet, who, dying in 1742, without issue, left his estates to my grand-father, Lord Somerville, and gave this miniature to my mother." She valued it very highly, as well for the sake of the donor, as for that of the great genius of which it was the representative; and I well remember that, when I was a boy, its production was not unfrequently a very acceptable reward of my good behaviour. After my mother's death, I sought in vain for this and some other family relics, and at length had abandoned all hope of ever finding them, when chance most unexpectedly restored them to me about ten days ago, in consequence of the opening of a bureau which had belonged to my mother, in a private drawer of which this and the other missing things were found.
"Believe me to be,
"Yours most truly,
Having, by the kindness of Sir James, been indulged with the loan of this miniature for some time, I submitted
it to the inspection of many of the most distinguished members of the Royal Academy, and to several antiquarian friends. In consequence of their decision in its favour, I have availed myself of the kind liberality of its possessor; and an engraving from it, through the recommendation of Sir Thomas Lawrence and Mr. Phillips, has been procured from that excellent artist Mr. Agar. In addition to this, a representation of the poet's bust at Stratford will adorn the present edition.
Mr. Steevens, for reasons which he has assigned*, but which I can by no means think satisfactory, has omitted, in his later editions, a list of errata." It has been customary (says he) with not a few authors, to acknowledge small mistakes, that they might escape the suspicion of greater, or, perhaps, to intimate that no greater could be detected." That a duty has by some persons been im perfectly performed, is no sufficient reason why others should neglect it altogether; nor can the deceit, which he insinuates has sometimes been practised, render it less incumbent on an honest editor to correct the errors, into which he may have fallen, when they come to his knowledge. I gladly avail myself of his appeal to the candour of the reader, who, if he is at all acquainted with the press, must be aware of the difficulties attending upon the publication of a voluminous work, which, on the present occasion, would have given rise to many more mistakes, had I not been, throughout, assisted by the diligence and acuteness of my corrector of the press, Mr. Woodham. Among them, I am obliged to reckon some defects, arising from haste, which I have discovered in my own style. A table of errata will be given at the close of the last volume; but with no assumption, on my part, that more may not yet be found; I can only say that I have done all which an inexperienced eye would furnish me with the means of doing.
It was my wish and intention to have abstained, in the
See his Advertisement, p. 275.13