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A flat stone which covers his grave, presents us with these singular lines, sad 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
"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 te her epitaph, was witty above her sexe,' and therein like her father. Leonard Digges, in a poem, praising the works and worth of Shakspeare, and published within seven years after his death, speaks of the Stratford monument as a well-known 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 sleves; 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 Othelo. This was a generous, and apparently judicious act, and therefore very funlike 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. 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." S
* “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 enrious, and, to us, important subjects have been destroyed. Among which is to be noticed a vast med ment 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.
"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 Shakspeare's tomb."
"Stranger, to whom this Monument is shown,
Invoke the Poet's curses on Malone;
Whose meddling zeal his barbarous taste displays,
"Britton's Remarks on the Monumental Bust of Shakspeare." These Remarks, which were published où April 23, 1816, "The Anniversary of the Birth and Death of Shakspeare, and the Second Centenary
With these observations, which seem the result of a just and discriminating judgment, we feel happy in coinciding; having had an 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 :
Between the wretched engraving, thus undeservedly eulogised, and the monumental bust at Stratford, there is certainly such a resemblance as to prove, that the assertion of Jonson with regard to its likeness, was not altogether without foun-dation; but, as Mr. Steevens has well remarked, Shakspeare's countenance, deformed by Droeshout, resembles the sign of Sir Roger de Coverley, when it had been changed into a Saracen's head; on which occasion The Spectator observes, that the features of the gentle Knight were still apparent through the lineaments of the ferocious Mussulman."
There is, however, a much greater, nay, a very close and remarkable simili
after his Decease," are accompanied by an admirably executed Mezzotinto of Shakspeare from the Monu mental 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.
tude, between the engraving, from the Felton Shakspeare, and the bust at Stratford. What basis Mr. Gilchrist may have had for his observation, that “ Mr. Steevens failed in communicating to the public his confidence in the integrity of Mr. Felton's picture," we know not; but, if the most striking affinity to the mo numental effigy be deemed, as we think it ought to be, a proof of authenticity, this picture is entitled to our confidence: for whether we consider the general contour of the head, or the particular conformation of the forehead, eyes, nose, or mouth, the resemblance is complete; the only perceptible deviation being in the construction of the eye-brows, which, instead of forming nearly a perfect arch, as in the sculpture, have an horizontal direction, and are somewhat elevated towards the temples.
We have now reached the termination of a work, of which whatever shall be its reception with the public, even Diffidence itself may say, that it has been prosecuted with incessant labour and unwearied research; with an ardent desire to give it a title to acceptance, and with an anxiety, which has proved injurious to health, that it should be deemed not altogether unworthy of the bard whose name it bears.
It has also been a labour of love, and, though much indisposition has accompanied several of the years devoted to its construction, it is closed with a mingled sensation of gratitude, for what of health and strength has been spared to its author; of regret, in relinquishing, what, with all its concomitant anxieties, has been often productive of rational delight; and of hope, that, in the inevitable hour which is fast approaching, no portion of its pages shall suggest a thought, which can add poignancy to suffering, or bitterness to recollection.
(From the Original, in the Office of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.)
Vicesimo quinto die Martii, Anno Regni Domini nostri Jacobi nunc Regis Angliæ, etc. decimo quarto, et Scotæ quadragesimo nono. Anno Domini, 1616.
In the name of God, Amen. I WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gent, in perfect health and memory,* (God be praised!) do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following; that is to say:
First, I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting; and my body to the earth whereof it is made.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Judith, one hundred and fifty pounds of lawful English money, to be paid unto her in manner and form following; that is to say, one hundred pounds in discharge of her marriage-portion within one year after my decease, with consideration after the rate of two shillings in the pound for so long time as the same shall be unpaid unto her after my decease; and the fifty pounds residue thereof, upon her surrendering of, or giving of such sufficient security as the overseers of this my will shall like of, to surrender or grant, all her estate and right that shall descend or come unto her after my decease, or that she now bath, of, in, or to, one copy hold tenement, with the appurtenances, lying and being in Stratford-upon-Avon aforesaid, in the said county of Warwick, being parcel or holden of the manor of Rowington, unto my daughter Susanna Hall, and her heirs for ever.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my said daughter Judith one hundred and fifty pounds more, if she, or any issue of her body, be living at the end of three years next ensuing the day of the date of this my will, during which time my executors to pay her consideration from my decease according to the rate aforesaid and if she die within the said term without issue of her body, then my will is, and I do give and bequeath one hundred pounds thereof to my niece Elizabeth Hall,
From the short period which clapsed between the date of this Will and the death of the poet, we must infer, that the "malady which at so early a period of life deprived England of its brightest ornament," was sudden in its attack, and rapid in its progress.
+ Ten per cent., we find from this passage, was the usual interest of money in our author's days; and in the epitaph on Mr. Combe, as preserved by Aubrey, this old gentleman is censured for taking twelve per
“But Combes will have twelve, he sweares and he vowes."
-to my niece-) "Elizabeth Hall was our poet's grand-daughter. So, in Othello, act i. sc. 1, lago says to Brabantio: You'll have your nephews neigh to you;' meaning his grand children.". Malone.
and the fifty pounds to be set forth by my executors during the life of my sister Joan Hart, and the use and profit thereof coming, shall be paid to my said sister Joan, and after her decease the said fifty pounds shall remain amongst the children of my said sister, equally to be divided amongst them; but if my said daughter Judith be living at the end of the said three years, or any issue of her body, then my will is, and so I devise and bequeath the said hundred and fifty pounds to be set out by my executors and overseers for the best benefit of her and her issue, and the stock not to be paid unto her so long as she shall be married and covert baron ; but my will is, that she shall bave the consideration yearly paid unto her during her life, and after her decease the said stock and consideration to be paid to her children, if she have any, and if not, to her executors or assigns, she living the said term after my decease: provided that if such husband as she shall at the end of the said three years be married unto, or at any (time) after, do sufficiently assure unto her, and the issue of her body, lands answerable to the portion by this my will given unto her, and to be adjudged so by my executors and overseers, then my will is, that the said hundred and fifty pounds shall be pad to such husband as shall make such assurance, to his own use.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my said sister Joan twenty pounds, and all my wearing apparel, to be paid and delivered within one year after my decease; and I do will and devise unto her the house, with the appurtenances, in Stratford, wherein she dwelleth, for her natural life, under the yearly rent of twelve-pence. †
Item, I give and bequeath unto her three sons, William Hart,―― Hart,‡ and Michael Hart, five pounds a-piece, to be paid Within one year after my decease.
Item, I give and bequeath unto the said Elizabeth Hall all my plate (except my broad silver and gilt bowl) that I now have at the date of this my will.S
Item, I give and bequeath unto the poor of Stratford aforesaid ten pounds; to Mr. Thomas Combe ** my sword; to Thomas Russel, esqr. five pounds; and to Francis Collins + of the borough of Warwick, gent. thirteen pounds six shillings and eight-pence, to be paid within one year after my decease.
Item, I give and bequeath to Hamlet (Hamnet) Sadler, ‡‡ twenty-six shillings eight-pence, to buy him a ring; to William Reynolds, gent. twenty-six shillings eight-pence, to buy him a ring;
* Judith died at Stratford, aged 77, and was buried there, Feb. 9th, 1662.
Joan Hart, the poet's sister, was buried at Stratford, Nov. 4th, 1646.
"It is singular that neither Shakspeare nor any of his family should have recollected the Christian name of his nephew, who was born at Stratford but eleven years before the making of his will. His ChristiaS name was Thomas; and he was baptized in that town, July 24, 1605."—Malone.
§ Elizabeth Hall, the poet's grand-daughter, was married at Stratford, on April 22d, 1626, to Thomas Nash, Esq., and after the decease of this gentleman on April 4th, 1647, she again entered into the marriagestate with Sir John Barnard of Abington, in Northamptonshire. The ceremony took place at Billesley near Stratford, on the 5th of June, 1649, and Lady Baruard died, without issue by either of her husbands, at Abington, and was buried there on the 17th of February, 1669-70.
"If any of Shakspeare's manuscripts," remarks Mr. Malone, “remained in his grand-daughter's custody at the time of her second marriage (and some letters at least she surely must have had), they probably were then removed to the house of her new husband at Abington. Sir Hugh Clopton, who was born two years after her death, mentioned to Mr. Macklin, in the year 1742, an old tradition that she had carried away with her from Statford many of her grandfather's papers. On the death of Sir John Barnard they must have fallen into the hands of Mr. Edward Bagley, Lady Barnard's executor; and if any descendant of that gentleman be now living, in his custody they probably remain."
**"Mr. Thomas Combe was baptized at Stratford, Feb. 9, 1588-9, so that he was twenty-seven years old at the time of Shakspeare's death. He died at Stratford in July, 1657, aged 68; and his elder brother William died at the same place, Jan. 30, 1666-7, aged 80. Mr. Thomas Combe by his will, made June 20, 1656, directed his executors to convert all his personal property into money, and to lay it out in the purchase of lands, to be settled on William Combe, the eldest son of John Combe, of All-church, in the courty of Worcester, gent. and his heirs male; remainder to his two brothers successively. Where, therefore, our poet's sword has wandered, I have not been able to discover."-Malone.
Francis Collins- "This gentleman, who was the son of Mr. Walter Collins, was baptized at Stratford, Dec. 24, 1582.”—Malone.
"Hamnet Sadler was godfather to Shakspeare's only son, who was called after him. Mr. Sadler, I believe, was born about the year 1550, and died at Stratford-upon-Avon, in October, 1624. His wife, Judith Sadler, who was god-mother to Shakspeare's youngest daughter, was buried there, March 23, 1613-14 Our poet probably was god-father to their son William, who was baptized at Stratford, Feb. 5,