Page images

as very small.

large. There is the long upper lip, and a general correspondence with the mouth of the cast and the bust.

The eyes are large, and in life would be full and lustrous, but not so prominent as in the bust, the Stratford, or the Chandos portraits. The head, however, is comparatively narrow, and so very marked in this respect that it indicates not only weakness in the portrait, but feebleness in the character, and tends to diminish my reliance on its accuracy as a faithful likeness, at least as regards this portion of the picture. The organ of Secretiveness, so essential to the actor, the critic, and the student of character, is indicated

If Shakspere was not the best of actors, he was acknowledged to be a successful teacher of those players who sought his instructions as a tutor, as in the case of Taylor and others, who became eminent on the stage in their el cutionary delivery. The organ of Destructiveness, which forms so important an element in energy and force of character, depth of utterance and action is very small in the engraving. Constructiveness, manifestly a great power in the mental structure of the poet's composition, is also indicated as deficient. Acquisitiveness, too, is small, and yat Shakspere was the only actor of his day, besides Alleyn, who retired with a competency, and who afterwards showed a prudent regard for the accumulation of property. As it is doubtful whether the engraver ever saw the living form of Shakspere, this feebleness in the breadth of the head would enable him to pourtray other marked features to the satisfaction of Jonson, Heminge, and Condell, and thus the imaginative faculties are represented as very prominent. Ideality, Wit, Wonder, Imitation, Comparison, and Causality are all very conspicuously indicated as very large. The pi rceptive faculties are scarcely so well marked as to accord with the power of keen observation and vast command in range of view in dealing with physical objects, so evident in his works. This may be the fault of the engraver. The relative deficiency is partially visible in the bust and the Warwick portrait, but does not exist in the Jansen, the Lumley, the Felton, or in the Chandos portrait in the National Portrait Gallery: It is still more strikingly different in this feature to the mask from the face of Shakspere.

Although these characteristics in the engraving do not all harmonise with what we know of Shakspere's career

and character, there is one feature that agrees well with Jonson's worship, Spenser's admiration, and Milton's praise the engraver has given a large endowment of Benevolence and Veneration in addition to all those faculties which delight in the gay, lively, and cheerful aspect of things; while the passions and propensities are only small, tending to that kind and benignant expression indicated by the endearing epithets, "Sweet Will;" “My gentle Shakspere." But then, with such a narrow brain there would be a lack of foree to deal with those powerful and passionate dramas so terrible and terrifying in their life-like realities, where we see rage, jealousy, and revenge, bursting all the ties of affection, pride, and ambition, and using poniards and the deadly poison to gratify their vengeance--all working with an intensity and power irresistibly illustrative of the breadth and energy of the poet.

It is, however, probable that the bard's full forehead would be graphically sketched or described by Jonson and the players as being large and high ; the artist would mark the feature, and indeed

“had a strife

With nature to outdo the life.” The engraver seems to have had some knowledge of the regulation of Henry VIII., who “excluded beards from the great table under penalty of paying double commons ;” or of the decree imposed in the first year of Elizabeth, when they were limited to a “fortnight's growth, under penalty of 38. 4d." The few hairs under the bottom lip of Droeshout's engraving lead to the impression that the artist, not having the original before him, filled in the few signs of a beard in accordance with his own fancy, which in this feature makes the portrait unlike others of the poet and his contemporaries.

The physical proportions of the Droeshout figure harmonise better with a fine temperament and an intellectual head, than either the Stratford bust or portrait; and the same relative proportions are observable in the mezzotinto portrait by Wivell, the Lumley likeness, the Zetland, the Warwick, and especially so in the Jansen portraits.

The Stratford Portrait. This painting, considered by some persons as an interésting portrait of Shakspere and now preserved in the birthplace of the poet, was formerly in the possession of Mr. Hunt, the town-clerk of Stratford, and belonged to his grandfather, a gentleman who took a prominent part in the affairs of the Garrick Jubilee in 1769 ; but there the pedigree ends. Although often seen in a lobby in Mr. Hunt's house, it had remained unnoticed and unknown, and passed scores of times by Mr. Halliwell without any idea of its importance, until it had been shown to Mr. Collins, a picture restorer, who was, in 1861, employed in cleaning and restoring the tints of the monumental effigy in the church. On removing a ferocious looking beard and moustache, there was discovered a portrait of Shakspere !a result that recalls the experiment made on Talma's Shakspere, painted on the bellows, which when cleaned proved to be an old lady in a cap and kerchief !

Mr. Hunt is too sincere and disinterested in his wish to do honour to the memory of Shakspere, to be concerned in any deception as to the picture, or to wish to deprecate any criticism upon it. Its position among the other portraits exhibited, and its preservation at the house in Henley Street, rather call for a closer examination than would be otherwise accorded to it from the first glance at its glossy, glowing surfaces, and rotund outlines. In examining its claims to be considered a portrait, we find it bears a strong resemblance in its general form to the bust in the church, both in the dress, the moustache, imperial, and the curls in the hair. The style, as well as the tints of the dress, are in every detail a copy of the bust; in fact, it is an old portrait with a new face, called a Shakspere,—but no more like what Shakspere was than a Dutch dray-horse is to a racer, or a Solan goose to a skylark.

The full round globular forms which make the bust doubtful as a copy of Shakspere, are here exaggerated, and render the facial and cranial contour of the portrait inferior to the bust. The heads of all great masters of verse have the group of organs essential to the poet of imagination and fancy large, as seen in the portraits of Tasso, Dante, Ariosto, Chaucer, Spenser, Fenelon, Milton, Pope, Schiller, Wordsworth, and others; and yet Shakspere, greater than all, is here pourtrayed without the poetic organisation, either in form or condition. Wonder, Ideality, and Wit, are only very moderately indicated, and the stronger passions are marked with prominence, while there are no salient

angles in the coronal region as moral bulwarks to resist the attacks of the grosser feelings. It would be a great mistake to take any feature in this portrait as a model for a statue of the bard. Shakspere himself has shown us that he understood the relation between the inward conditions and the outward signs. He makes Thurio, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, say :

If I had my will, the painter should take me at my prayers : there is then a heavenly beauty in the face; the soul moves in the superfices.

The clown in Twelfth Night, on assuming the gown of the priest as a disguise, shows his knowledge of the relation of form and capacity, in saying :

I'm not fat enough to become the function well ; nor lean enough to be thought a good student ; but to be said an honest man and a good house-keeper, goes as fairly as to say, a careful man and a great scholar.

Shakspere is still more emphatic when he makes Cæsar

say :

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights.
Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look ;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

Antony. Fear him not, Cæsar ; he's not dangerous ;
He is a noble Roman, and well given.

Cæsar. Would he were fatter ! —but I fear him not;
Yet if my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid
So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads too much;
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men.

The Chandos Portrait. This portrait is the most attractive, the most picturesque, and as a photograph finds the greatest favour with the public. But whatever the portrait originally may have Deen like, it comes with a questionable pedigree before it belonged to Betterton; and since his day it appears to have been much altered and improved. Sir Godfrey Kneller copied it ; Ozias Humphrey amended and improved it; Sir Joshua Reynolds retouched it; and it is said, too, that Sir Thomas Člarges got a young man, who was thought to be like Shakspere, to sit for the portrait. It is impossible to trace any traditional resemblance to Shakspere in the portrait in the National Portrait Gallery; and unfortunately it carries its own condemnation on the face of it. It looks like a composition made to please the eye, and it has not the slightest heritage of the Warwickshire physiognomies--either those of the Shaksperes or the Hathaways so far as I can trace them in their living representatives.

The forehead of the Chandos in the National Portrait Gallery is high, square, and noble in its proportions, but the face is somewhat dark, and the lips are thick, prominent and sensual. The eyes are large, and the nose also is large. There is a moustache, a full beard and whiskers, in the style introduced by Rubens in his portraits after his arrival in England in 1630. In this feature there is a great contrast to the Stratford bust and the Droeshout engraving. Besides, Shakspere's complexión was not dark, but fair and light. The form of the head, too, is carried too much into the abstract and metaphysical type to belong to the practical character of Shakspere.

The Jansen Portrait. Three portraits of Shakspere, by Jansen, were exhibited in the collection at Stratford, -one belonging to Mr. Staunton, another to Mr. Flack, a third to Sir J. L. Kaye, besides other copies after this painter. The Countess of Zetland exhibited a very interesting portrait, considered to be original. The Earl of Warwick had two portraits said to be of Shakspere. The Somerset Jansen has the date agreeing with the poet's age—“æt. 46, 1610.". This portrait is a valuable work of art, and is regarded as a genuine portrait of Shakspere. Two of the above Jansens in the exhibition have the poet's name, and age 47, across the upper part of the picture.

The portraits by Jansen introduce a different type of head to those hitherto described. The best of these represent a refined, intellectual, and handsome man. The facial contour is aquiline, and the complexion fair. It is a singular fact that one or two of the portraits, and especially that belonging to Mr. Flack, agree with the mask almost in every particular. There is the same oval face and fair complexion in both, the well-defined forehead, and very prominent yet evenly arched eye-brows. The upper lip is shorter than in the mask, but the moustache is separated in a similar manner. They both singularly agree in their

« PreviousContinue »