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could“ have better spared a better print,” one of them ? Perhaps you, Sir, may be able trace them. At any
rate I feel sure that whatever the merits of those old prints may be, your present work will do honour to the Ages of Shakspeare, not less than to the art itself employed to illustrate them. I am, Sir, with best wishes for its success,
Your obedient servant,
To these interesting remarks, little more remains than to refer the curious reader to the notes upon the Seven Ages in the last edition of our Author; from whence, as peculiarly applicable, the following passage from an old writer, quoted by Mr. Malone, is derived:
“ Wee are not placed in this world as continuers ; for the Scripture saith we have no abiding citie heere, but as travellers and soiurners, whose custome it is to take up a new inne, and to change their lodging, sometimes here, sometimes there, during the time of their travell. Here we walke like plaiers upon a stage, one representing the person of a king, another of a lorde, the third of a plowman, the fourth of an artificer, and so foorth, as the course and order of the enterlude requireth ; everie acte whereof beeing plaide, there is no more to doe, but open the gates and dismisse the assemblie.
“ Even so fareth it with us: for what other thing is the compasse of this world, beautified with varietie of creatures, reasonable and unreasonable, but an ample and large theatre, wherein all things are appointed to play their pageants, which when they have done, they die and their glorie ceaseth."
* The Diamant of Devotion, by Abraham Fleming, 4to. 1586.
The same subject is thus beautifully treated by Mr. Wordsworth in the Excursion :
6. This file of infants, some that never breathed
The vital air; and others, who allow'd
Are here deposited — No trace can be found of the “ emblematical representations” which Henley states were stuck up in the generality of houses, mentioned by Lady Callcott in her interesting account. Mr. Douce, the most indefatigable commentator on
our great poet, throws no light upon the matter: he mentions a wood-cut illustration in 6 Comenii Orbis Sensualium Pictus,” which, from its representing both sexes, has been faithfully copied from that work, and here presented to the reader.
It is entirely matter of conjecture, what illustrations Steevens alludes to as formerly in his possession, when he states, “I could have better spared a better print.”
The interesting sketch mentioned in Lady Callcott's essay, and most kindly contributed in illustration of this work by Sir Augustus Callcott, proves that this division of human life early engaged the attention of the painter. The following is a list of a few that have come under the Editor's notice, in addition to those designed by T. Stimmer : in some cases it will be seen the artist has contented himself with dividing human life into four periods :
Crispin de Pas, from his own designs, a series of six, with a title-page, with these words, “ Ætates hominum secundum anni tempora.” 1559.
Muykens; a series of etchings, from bis own designs, divided into ten periods. Circa, 1640.
A. Gillot, engraved by Joullain ; four ages.
Lancret (in the National Gallery), engraved by Larmessin; four ages.
Behnes, engraved on wood, in “ The Saturday Magazine." Smirke, R. A. in Boydell's Shakespeare ; seven ages. Stothard, R. A. engraved by Bromley.
Stothard, R. A. on wood, in an edition of Shakespeare, printed by Whittingham, in one volume. 1830.
Green (of Birmingham) on wood, in an edition of Shakespeare, seven volumes, printed by Whittingham. 1816.
It remains only to say a few words with reference to this addition to the illustrations of one of the most popular passages
in the works of our great poet. The rapid progress, or perhaps revival of wood-engraving in this country, so remarkable within these few years, may be, in a great degree, attributed to the facility of passing the blocks through the same press that prints the descriptions they illustrate.
The high reputation of the eminent artists who kindly consented to make, in several instances for the first time, the drawings on wood which are now presented, is too well known to be further remarked upon. It was the wish of the projector of this series to obtain the highest talent, hitherto not generally employed in illustrations on wood. To the members of the Royal Academy who have so kindly consented to accede to this wish, his thanks are most gratefully offered. How far they have succeeded in their delineations of this beautiful passage it will be for the public to decide.
To Lady Callcott the Editor begs to return his sincere thanks for the interesting essay prefixed to these remarks. To Sir Augustus Callcott he is greatly indebted for the interest he evinced in the plan, and for many useful suggestions which he afforded him.
William Mulready, Esq. R. A. he takes this opportunity of thanking, for undertaking the very difficult subject which bears his name. It is some gratification to the writer