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Annexed to the disquisition on the Graphic Portraits of Shakspeare, which forms the principal object of his volume, Mr. Boaden has added some very ingenious observations and conjectures on a Poetical Portrait of the Bard, which first appeared in the folio of 1632, entitled “On Worthy Master Shakespeare, and his Poems," and subscribed “ The friendly Admirer of his Endowments, I. M. S.”

To this poem, as of very superior merit, the Editor has repeatedly referred in his “Shakspeare and his Times ;” and in a note to his “ Tale of the Days of Shakspeare,” in his “Noontide Leisure,” 1824, he remarks : “though a just appreciation of the genius of Shakspeare was by no means so general and extended in the reign of James as in these our own days, yet were there several exalted spirits among the contemporaries of the poet, who fully and critically knew the incomparable value of their countryman, and expressed their estimate too of his poetical character in terms which have not since been surpassed, if equalled ; and I would particularly mention as instances of this, the

poem of Ben Jonson, and the verses to which the initials I.M.S. are annexed, commencing ‘A mind reflecting ages past.' This latter production, which was first prefixed to the folio of 1632, I have already

behold A Man who had suffered himself, and felt for others ; in that of the bust, A Man of great humour and constitutional pleasantry; in the Chandos Head, A Man of vivid imagination and high mental powers ; and in that of Jansen, A Man who was deeply and alike entitled to our love and admiration.

noticed in my 'Shakspeare and his Times, Vol. 2, p. 545 et seq. ; and I must say that I think it beyond all competition, the most powerful, comprehensive, and splendid poetical encomium on our immortal bard which has yet been produ

ced.”.

With this eulogy Mr. Boaden not only fully accords, but enters at considerable length, and with great taste and powers of discrimination, into the origin and merits of the poem which

gave birth to it. After setting aside the supposition of its having been written by Jasper Mayne, Student, or John Marston, Satirist, or John Milton, Senior, he offers very cogent reasons for ascribing it to George Chapman, the once celebrated translator of Homer; and he enables his reader at the same time, by transcribing the poem,

and comparing it with numerous passages from Chapman, to form a judgment for himself.

That this, from the striking nature of the evidence brought forward, will be in favour of Mr. Boaden's conjecture as to its parentage, there can be little doubt; nor, as to its merit, when considered as a metrical picture, will he feel less inclined perhaps to agree with him, when he describes it to be the truest portrait that exists of the powers of Shakspeare as a poet.

In the same year with Mr. Boaden's publication, appeared “The Life of Shakspeare; Enquiries into the Originality of his Dramatic Plots and

• Vide vol. 1. p. 34.

Characters; and Essays on the Ancient Theatres and Theatrical Usages.” By Augustine Skottowe. . Two volumes 8vo.

The Biography of Shakspeare in this work, which, with an Appendix of Notes, occupies rather better than a third part of the first volume, is written with elegance and accuracy, and with a strict attention to what little novelty the latest researches of Mr. Malone had brought forth. The History of the Stage by this industrious editor is skilfully epitomised, and not without some additional facts, and several inferences which, though at variance with those of his predecessor, Mr. Skottowe has ably supported. He has, indeed, in several other places, dissented from the opinions and conjectures of Mr. Malone, and in none with more success than where he maintains, against the scepticism of that critic, the traditional story of Shakspeare's predatory incursions on the manor of Sir Thomas Lucy."

The greater part, however, of the labours of Mr. Skottowe are devoted to a developement of the origin of Shakspeare's dramas, and to a display of the admirable use which the poet had made of

b That the narrative of this youthful frolic has, from its universality and iteration, some foundation in truth, notwithstanding all that Mr. Malone has mustered against it, had been, indeed, previously asserted by myself in a note to the “ Tale of the Days of Shakspeare," in which I have endeavoured to prove Mr. Malone's reasoning and inferences on this subject to be illogical and inconclusive.—See Noontide Leisure, vol. 1.

p. 83.

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his materials; ground, indeed, which had been partially pre-occupied by Mrs. Lennox, who, in the years 1753 and 4, published, in three vols. 12mo., a work entitled "Shakspeare Illustrated ; or the Novels and Histories on which the Plays of Shakspeare are founded, collected and translated from the original Authors, with Critical Remarks." Her task, however, was but very imperfectly performed, for, of more than one half of the plays of her author the sources remained unexplored ; and her notes were rather censures on the liberties which the bard had taken with the incidents to which she had traced him, than elucidatory of the exquisite manner in which he had occasionally moulded them to his purpose, and yet more frequently embalmed them for immortality, by blending with their outline the richest creations of his own fancy. The subject was therefore still open to Mr. Skottowe, and it is but justice to say that he has gone through the entire series not only with the patient research of the literary historian, but with the taste and discriminating tact of the elegant and enlightened critic.e

I ought here, perhaps, to have inserted some notice of a work on the Portraits of Shakspeare, which has appeared within these few months, entitled, “ Historical Account of all the

, Portraits of Shakspeare that have been generally considered the most genuine, together with every particular which can be collected respecting them; also Critical Remarks on the Opinions of Boaden, Malone, Steevens, &c. &c.; to which are added, some curious and interesting particulars of the various fabricated and spurious Pictures of the Poet, which have been

To the retrospect which has thus been taken of the Variorum Editions of Shakspeare, and of the Detached Publications exclusively appropriated to his genius and writings, it now only remains to add a brief statement of the plan which has been chosen, and of the materials which have been collected, for forming the present volume, which, as I have mentioned in the opening of this Essay, is intended to exemplify the third mode that has been adopted for the illustration of Shakspeare, namely, by Criticisms on his Genius and Writings dispersed through various Miscellaneous Departments of Literature.

So much as Shakspeare has lately attracted the attention of all ranks of the literary world, it is somewhat remarkable that the task which in these pages I have endeavoured to perform, should not

foisted upon the public of late years, &c. By Abraham Wivell, Portrait-painter, 8vo. With six Portraits, and a Frontispiece of the Monument at Stratford-upon-Avon, 1827."

One object of this publication, which exhibits considerable research, is to prove the authenticity of the Felton Portrait of the bard, which appears to be the favourite picture of Mr. Wivell. He has, it must be allowed, added some strength to the testimony in behalf of the genuineness of this portrait, by ascertaining that the initials on the back of the panel on which it is painted, hitherto supposed to be R. N., are in fact, R. B.; a discovery which gives weight to the previous conjecture, that this picture might have come from the easel of Richard Burbage, who was an artist as well as a player, and to whom tradition has ascribed, as the friend of Shakspeare, such an employment of his pencil.

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