« PreviousContinue »
limited to the bard's descendants, restoring to Mrs. Nash the ultimate power over the property." Upon the second marriage of Shakspere's grand-daughter other arrangements were made, in the usual form of fine and recovery, by which New Place, and all the other property which she inherited of William Shakspere, her grandfather, were settled to the use of John Barnard and Elizabeth his wife, for the term of their natural lives; then to the heirs of the said Elizabeth; and in default of such issue to the use of such person, and for such estate, as the said Elizabeth shall appoint by any writing, either purporting to be her last will or otherwise. She did make her last will on the 29th of January, 1669; according to which, after the death of Sir John Barnard, the property was to be sold. Thus, in half a century, the estates of Shakspere were scattered and went out of his family, with the exception of the two houses in Henley Street, where he is held to have been born, which Lady Barnard devised to her kins. man Thomas Hart, the grandson of Shakspere's sister Joan. Those who are curious to trace the continuity of the line of the Harts will find very copious extracts from the Stratford registers in Boswell's edition of Malone.
III.—THE AUTOGRAPHS OF SHAKSPERE.
The will of William Shakspere, preserved in the Prerogative Office, Doctors' Commons, is written upon three sheets of paper. The name is subscribed at the right-hand corner of the first sheet; at the left-hand corner of the second sheet ; and immediately before the names of the witnesses upon the third sheet. These signatures, engraved from a tracing by Steevens, were first published in 1778. The first signature has been much damaged since it was originally traced by Steevens. It was for a long time thought that in the first and second of these signatures the poet had written his name Shakspere, but in the third Shakspeare; and Steevens and Malone held, therefore, that they had authority in the handwriting of the poet for uniformly spelling his name Shakspeare. They rested this mode of spelling the name not upon the mode in which it was usually printed during the poet's life, and especially in the genuine editions of his own works, which mode was Shakespeare, but upon this signature to the last sheet of his will, which they fancied contained an a in the last syllable. When William Henry Ireland, in 1795, produced his “ Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments," it was necessary that he should fabricate Shakspere's name, and the engraving published by Steevens enabled him to do so. He varied the spelling, as he found it said to be varied in the signatures to the will; but he more commonly spelt the name with the a in the final syllable. His confidence in the Shakspere editors supplied one of the means for his detection. Malone, in his “ Inquiry,” published in 1796, has a confession upon this subject, which is almost as curious as any of Ireland's own confessions: “In the year 1776 Mr. Steevens, in my presence, traced with the utmost accuracy the three signatures affixed by the poet to his will. While two of these manifestly appeared to us Shakspere, we con_eived that in the third there was a variation; and that in the second syllable an a was found. Accordingly we have constantly so exhibited the poet's name ever since that time. It ought certainly to have struck us as a very extraordinary circumstance, that a man should write his name twice one way, and once another, on the same paper : however, it did not; and I had no suspicion of our mistake till, about three years ago, I received a very sensible letter from an anonymous correspondent, who showed me very clearly that, though there was a superfluous stroke when the poet came to write the letter r in his last signature, probably from the tremor of his hand, there was no a discoverable in that syllable ; and that this name, like both the other, was witten “Shakspere.” Revolving this matter in my mind, it occurred to me, that in the new fac-simile of his name which I gave in 1790, my engraver had made a mistake in placing an a over the name which was there exhibited, and that what was supposed to be that letter was only a mark of abbre. viation, with a turn or curl at the first part of it, which gave it the appearance of a letter. ... . If Mr. Steevens and I had maliciously intended to lay a trap for this fabricator to fall into, we could not have done the business more adroitly." The new fac-simile to which Malone here alludes continued to be given with the a over the name, in subsequent editions ; and we have no alternative now but to copy it from the engraving. It was taken from the mortgage deed executed by Shakspere on the 11th of March, 1613. When Malone's engraver added to that signature an a, the deed was in the possession of Mr. Albany Wallis, a solicitor. It was subsequently presented to Garrick; but after his death was nowhere to be found. Malone, however, traced that the counterpart of the deed of bargain and sale, dated the 10th of March, 1613, was also in the possession of Mr. Wallis; and he corrected his former error by engraving the signature to that deed in his “ Inquiry" He says, “Notwithstanding this authority, I shall continue to write our poet's name Shakspeare, for reasons which I have assigned in his Life. But whether in doing so I am right or wrong, it is manifest that he wrote it himself Shakspere ; and therefore if any original Letter or other MS. of his shall ever be discovered, his name will appear in that form." This prophecy has been partially realized. The autograph of Shakspere, corresponding in its orthography with the other documents, was found in a small folio volume, the first edition of Florio's translation of Montaigne, having been sixty years in the possession of the Rev. Edward Patteson, minister of Smethwick, near Birmingham. In 1838 the volume was sold by auction, and purchased by the British Museum for one hundred pounds. The deed of bargain and sale, the signature of which was copied by Malone in 1796, was sold by auction in 1841, and was purchased by the Corporation of London for one hundred and forty-five pounds. The purchase was afterwards denounced in Court of Common Council as “a most wasteful and prodigal expenditure ;” but it was defended upon the ground that “it was not very likely that the purchase of the autograph would be acted upon as a precedent, for Shakspere stood alone in the history of the literature of the world.” Honoured be those who have thus shown a reverence for the name of Shakspere ! It is a symptom of returning health in the Corporation of London, after a long plethora, which might have ended in sudden death. If the altered spirit of the majority is willing thus to reverence the symbol of the highest literature in Shakspere's autograph, that spirit will lead to a wise employment of the civic riches, in the encouragement of intellectual efforts in their own day.
We have given as a frontispiece fac-similes of the six authentic autographs of Shakspere. That at the head of the page is from the Montaigne of Florio; the left, with the seal, is from the counterpart of the Conveyance in the possession of the Corporation of London; the right, with the seal, is from Malone's fac-simile of the Mortgage-deed which has been lost; the three others are from the three sheets of the Will.
BAPTISMS. 1558 Septēber 15 .... Jone Shakspere daughter to John Shakspere. 1562 December 2......... Margareta filia Johannis Shakspere. 1564 April 26 .....
Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere. 1566 October 13.
Gilbertus filius Johannis Shakspere. 1569 April 15............ Ione the daughter of John Shakspere.
lone the daughter of 1571 Septēb 28 .......... Anna filia Magistri Shakspere. 1573 [1573-4] March 11 ... Richard sonne to Mr. John Shakspeer. 1580 May 3 ............. Edmund sonne to Mr. John Shakspere. 1583 May 26 ............ Susanna daughter to William Shakspere. 1584 [1584-5] February 2.. Hamnet & Iudeth sonne & daughter to Willia Shakspere. *** There are then entries of Ursula, 1588; Humphrey, 1590 ; Philippus, 1591 ;---children
of John Shakspere (not Mr.)
MARRIAGES. 1607 Junii 5 ............. John Hall gentlema & Susanna Shaxspere. 1615 (1615.6) February 10. Tho: Queeny tow Judith Shakspere.
1563 April 30 ....... Margaret filia Johannis Shakspere.
Mayry Shaxspere, Widowe.
Will : Shakspere, Gent. 1623 August 8 ........... Mrs. Shakspeare. 1649 July 16 ............ Mrs. Susanna Hall, Widow. 1661 (1661-2] Feb. I ...... Judith uxor Thomas Quiney.
** It appears by the Register of Burials that Dr. Hall, one of the sons-in-law of William Shakspere, was buried on the 26th November, 1635. He is described in the entry as “Medicus peritissimus." The Register contains no entry of the burial of Thomas Quiney. Elizabeth, the daughter of John and Susanna Hall, was baptized February 21, 1607 [1607-8]; and she is mentioned in her illustrious grandfather's will. The children of Judith, who was only married two months before the death of her father, appear to have been three sons, all of whom died before their mother.
V.-THE PORTRAITS OF SHAKSPERE.
VOLUMES have been written on the subject of the genuineness of Shakspere's portraits. The bust upon Shakspere's Monument has the first claim to notice. The sculptor of that monument was Gerard Johnson. The tomb itself is accurately represented at the head of Shakspere's Will. We learn the name of the sculptor from Dugdale's correspondence, published by Mr. Hamper in 1827; and we collect from the verses by Leonard Digges, prefixed to the first edition of Shakspere, that it was erected previous to 1623 :
" Shakespeare, at length thy pious fellows give
The world thy works: thy works by which outlive
The fate of this portrait of Shakspere, for we may well account it as such, is a singular one. Mr. Britton, who has on many occasions manifested an enthusiastic feeling for the associations belonging to the great poet, published in 1816 “ Remarks on his Monumental Bust," from which we extract the following passage :-“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 hazel, 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, in 1748, from the profits of the representation of Othello.' This was a generous, and appa rently judicious act; and therefore very unlike the next alteration it 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." It is fortunate that we live in an age when no such unscrupulous insolence as that of Malone can be again tolerated.
A small head, engraved from the little print, by WILLIAM MARSHALL, prefixed to the edition of Shakspere's poems in 1640, is considered amongst the genuine portraits of Shakspere. It is probably reduced, with alterations, from the print by MARTIN DROESHOUT, which is prefixed to the folio of 1623. The original engraving is not a good one; and as the plate furnished the portraits to three subsequent editions, it is not easy to find a good impression. The persons who published this portrait were the friends of Shakspere. It was published at a time when his features would be well recollected by many of his contemporaries. The accuracy of the resemblance is also attested by the following lines from the pen of Ben Jonson :
“ This figure, that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut;
Under these circumstances we are inclined to regard it as the most genuine of the portraits of Sbakspere. It wants that high art which seizes upon a likeness by general resemblance, and not through the merely accurate delineation of features. The draughtsman from whom this engraving was made, and the sculptor of the bust at Stratford, were literal copyists. It is perfectly clear that they were working upon the same original.
The famous CHANDOS picture, is now the property of the Earl of Ellesmere; and has recently been engraved for the “ Shakespeare Society," by Mr. Cousens. It has a history belonging to it which says much for its authenticity. It formerly belonged to Davenant, and afterwards to Betterton. When in Betterton's possession it was engraved for Rowe's edition of Shakspere's works. It subsequently passed into various hands; during which transit it was engraved, first by Vertue and afterwards by Houbraken. It became the property of the Duke of Chandos, by marriage; and thence descended to the Buckingham family. Kneller copied this portrait for Dryden, and the poet addressed to the painter the following verses as a return for the gift:*
“ Shakspeare, thy gift, I place before my sight,
Of a portrait, said to have been painted by CORNELIUS JANSEN, an engraving was made by Earlom, and was prefixed to an edition of " King Lear," published in 1770, edited by Mr. Jennens. It has subsequently been more carefully engraved by Mr. Turner, for Mr. Boaden's “ Inquiry into the Authenticity of the Portraits of Shakspere.” This portrait has the inscription“ Æte 46, 1610;" and in a scroll over the head are the words “Ut. Magus." Mr. Boaden says, “ The two words are extracted from the famous Epistle of Horace to Augustus, the First of the Second Book; the particular passage this :
• Ille per extentum funem mihi posse videtur
No man ever took this extended range' more securely than Shakspere; no man ever possessed so ample a control over the passions; and he transported his hearers, “as a magician,' over lands and seas, from one kingdom to another, superior to all circumspection or confine." The picture passed from the possession of Mr. Jennens into that of the Duke of Somerset.
The five miniature-portraits of Shakspere, forming the frontispiece to the “Studies of Shakspere," are taken from the following authorities :- top, left - The Chandos Picture, now in the possession of the Earl of Ellesmere; - top, right — Droeshout's Print, prefixed to the folio of 1623;- centre — The Bust at Stratford, as drawn by the late Mr. Phillips, R.A., and engraved under the direction of Mr. Britton;— bottom, left - Mr. Nicol's Picture, of which there is an engraving;— bottom, right - An Ancient Picture (with the panel frame of the wainscot in which it was inserted), in the possession of Mr. Knight.
* This picture, by permission of the late Duke of Buckingham, was copied for the engraving in the “Gallery of Portraits,” for the first time for forty years; and the copy, by Mr. Witherington, R. A. is in our possession.