« PreviousContinue »
that the king held him in great esteem, and honoured the family with a visit. The king gave him the manor of Yoxail in Staffordshire, consisting of 4,600 acres, at the nominal value of £42.
Fuller, in his list of the Worthies of Warwickshire, mentions Simon and Edward Arden as Sheriffs in Warwickshire—the former in 1562, the latter in 1568.
William Arden, a cousin of Shakspere's mother, who had married a daughter of Sir R. Throgmorton, suffered death for treason in 1585. It is supposed that this was accomplished by the machinations of his powerful enemy, the ambitious and sensuous Earl of Leicester, whose livery, during the visit of Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth, and probably from a spirit of independence, he refused to wear.
From these brief outlines of the deeds, sufferings, and possessions among the ancestry of the Ardens, we have evidence that, although disposed to pursue the even tenour of their way without interfering with others, they had the moral courage to stand up in the defence of what they considered right, both as citizens and patriots--proving that they were endowed with energy, daring, and independence enough to bring more than one of them to the block, in times calculated to try the materials of which the Ardens were made. Mary Arden would be familiar with the history of her ancestry, and communicate its leading incidents to her eldest son; showing that the Ardens were not only descended from the oldest, but the best families of their native county ; and prompting him as he succeeded in life, to found a family and a name so worthily quartered with the Ardens of historic repute. There can be little doubt that John Shakspere applied to the Herald's College for a grant of arms, at the request and expense of his son : and in stating the facts connected with the wealth and consideration of the Ardens, Garter confounded them with the "antecessors” of Shakspere, proving, however, the descent of the poet's znother from the great family, the Vicecomes of Warwick, in the days of the Anglo-Saxon kings.
The Black Dog of Arden. As the ancestors of the Ardens were descended from the Anglo-Saxons, there can be little doubt that they were fair and light in complexion like their descendants ;
and we have collateral evidence that at the time of Edward the Second, the great body of the people of Warwickshire were of the Zanthous complexion. A few paces from the spot where I write may be seen two objects-one to the right and the other to the left of Guy's Cross Hill, reviving the memory of dark deeds arising out of difference of race, complexion, and position. The grand and lofty round towers of Warwick Castle stand out in bold and defiant attitude at the distance of about a mile from Blacklow Wood, in which a monument marks the spot where the Earl of Warwick and other Barons murdered Piers Gaveston, the Earl of Cornwall—the witty, accomplished, and handsome minister and adviser of the weak King Edward II., who selected his favourites for their personal beauty, and the elegance of their manners, rather than for their wisdom, courage, or bravery. The barons could not endure the insolence of Gaveston, while the sarcastic courtier showed his contempt for the most furious of his enemies by designating Guy, Earl of Warwick, as “THE BLACK DOG OF ARDEN;" showing thereby, that the complexion of the Earl of Warwick was dark-and as such, an
among the fair-haired Anglo-Saxons of Warwickshire. The Normans held lands which formerly belonged to the fair sons of England. The change of proprietors was too recent to be forgotten. Tradition then had its full force undimmed by the diverting discoveries of more recent times. Now, if the Norman complexion had not been the exception, it would not have been a term of reproach. However, “the black dog of Arden” showed his teeth, and soon fastened them in the throat of the Earl of Cornwall, who had been recalled from banishment in defiance of the wishes of his enemies. While Piers Gaveston was holding the castle of Scarborough for the king, he was compelled to surrender it to the Earls of Pembroke, Hereford, and others. He was then hurried off to Deddington Castle, near Banbury; and although a treaty was agreed to for his personal safety, yet the scent'was laid for “the black dog of Arden," who mustered his retainers, seized the prisoner, and hurried him off to the keep at Warwick Castle'; and thence. he was taken to the hill in Blacklow Wood, near Guy's Cliff; and there, to gratify a savage vengeance, barbarously murdered. Warwick excused his cruelty by a piece of pious hypocrisy, in telling the people “ it was for their great
good and glory of God," that he left his victim no time to shrive his soul !
If the people and the aristocracy of Warwickshire had been dark and chocolate skinned like the Chandos portrait of Shakspere, it would not have been offensive and opprobious to designate the Earl of Warwick as black as the people around him. But, like a black sheep in a flock of white lambs, he was conspicuous among the fair sons of Arden by the darkness of complexion, and blackness of his beard.
The Anglo-Saxon and Norman Races. At the present day the proportions of the Norman physiognomy to the Saxon type are only small in number, and will be found on a rough estimate to be, as in the ranks of the first and second Warwickshire militia, about one in a hundred. Among the officers, the proportion is larger. In the yeomanry, the proportion of the aquiline to the straight Grecian, Teutonic, or short Celtic feature, is much greater than among the militia. Among some 350 men there are marked differences. They have, as a body, larger heads ; while the aquiline physiognomy is in the ratio of four to
the hundred. In the labouring agricultural population of the county, the proportion is not so numerous.
On the day of the pageant, at the close of the late festival, there were more than 25,000 persons in Stratford from the neighbouring towns and villages, and the proportion of the aquiline contour was about the same as in the militia ; and these prevailed generally among the respectable farmer or yeoman class. Shakspere's family on one side belonged to this class, and a sister of Hannah Ward was considered very like the portrait of Susanna in its facial contour. Mrs. Attwood, the grandmother of the Wards, was also remarkable for her fine aquiline features, her fair complexion, and quiet yet commanding presence; so that it is consistent with reason and the ethnic physiognomy of the family and the people of the district, that the Cast from the face, and the Jansen Portrait, should be true to nature, and genuine portraits of Shakspere.*
* In a letter in "The Times” of June 9th, Mr. John Coleman states that “it is generally understood that there is no living descendant of our great poet's family; but that George Shakspere, of Henley in Arden, is one.' This is an erroneous impression. There are several descendants of Joan, the sister of the poet, who married William Hart, Mrs. Fletcher, who exhibited Shakspere's delf mythologically ornamented “Drinking Cup," at the Tercentenary Portrait Gallery, is a descendant of the poet's sister, and the mother of several children still living at Gloucester. The pedigree of George Shakspere represents him as a descendant of Humphrey Shakspere. The latter is said to be the son of John Shakspere, the father of the poet. Here lies the main link to establish the descent. I agree with Mr. Halliwell (in his letter to "The Times” June 13th) as to the difficulty which surrounds the question; for I have seen genealogical trees propagated and reared to apparent vitality and fruitfulness, while the roots remained unsound, and which proved, at the first touch, to be rotten and useless. It is a singular fact, that while Shakspere left legacies to the family of his sister, Joan Hart, he does not mention in his Will the children of Humphrey Shakspere. Mr. Coleman tells us he “needed no other testimony than that his face afforded. Heaven had written his pedigree in the plainest characters upon his brow; he was the living image of our poet.” This similarity between the face of George Shakspere and that of the bust, is a striking confirmation of what has been recorded about the Warwickshire type and physiognomy. I had observed in other branches, descendants of the Harts, a similar facial contour to that of the bust. But when it is said that the forehead of the bust is that of Shakspere, a difficulty arises. Besides, the profile, which I have given as an illustration of the Warwickshire type, as well as of one of the Shakspere physiognomies, is that of George Shakspere, the subject of discussion in *The Timus;" and it shows that his brow differs very materially from that of the bust given on the first page. These perplexing contradictions have. probably arisen from the circumstance that the tombe-maker was perhaps compelled--as a few years had elapsed between the death of the poet, and his execution of the monument-to take a cast from a living Shakspere, to enable him to make the effigy. He took an impression of a living face, and, like artists of greater genius and skill, built up the form of the head to suit his fancy. Hence we have portraits of the bard with a head shaped like a sugar
From evidence obtained since the first part of this work was issued, and which is fully stated in a paper read at the Archæological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland,* I have shown that Jansen resided and painted portraits in England at an earlier date than is generally supposed. Many writers have been led to believe that the artist could not be in England at the time of Shakspere. This impression has arisen from the assertion of Steevens, founded on the authority of Walpole, who was himself in doubt; for he says the artist began to put his name to his pictures in England“ about 1618." Whereas, Malone had a portrait in his possession with the name of Jansen on it, painted five years before the death of the poet. In 1618 the artist was employed by the father of John Milton to paint a likeness of his son, then ten years of age. Jansen must therefore have become celebrated as a portrait painter ;-an achievement not to be attained in a few months. Jansen was also employed by the Earl of Southampton, the friend and patron of the poet, to paint portraits of the Countess of Southampton, and also of his eldest daughter Elizabeth Wriothesley, and the wife of Earl Spenser. It is reasonable therefore to suppose that Southampton would request--nay urge-his favourite artist to take portraits of his friend, associate, and esteemed poet, to ornament the walls of one or both his residences at Tichfield and Beaulieu, as evidence of his taste, liberality, and appreciation of his friend, the greatest genius of the age. The knowledge that a good likeness existed might be the reason that the cast taken after death was not preserved by the family; and as Shakspere had become popular several years before his death, his portraits would be multiplied, and hence the various duplicates by Jansen.
As nature is consistent, and never arrives at her results but by the most simple, direct, and uniform means--so similar physical forms of the head, brain, and bust will be alike expressive of similar conditions and capabilities. If
loaf, and others as round as a turnip; while the two that are the most natural are the most true, and withal the most beautiful. A cast from a Plaster mould which I took a short time ago from the face of George Shakspere, has some slight resemblance to the lower part of the features, but none to the forehead, of the bust of Shakspere at Stratford.
* At the annual meeting held at Warwick, in July, 1864, under the presidency of the Rt. Hon. Lord Leigh ; Lord Neaves in the chair.