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for his productions induced me to collect the most authentic copies of his Works, my fondness for the Writer led me to obtain the most accurate resemblances of his countenance. In a series of years I have seen every thing conducive to both these objects, and been so fortunate as to obtain all that I myself desired to possess.
But as I thought I saw something partial, and therefore deficient, in the account which had been given by others of the PORTRAits of our Poet, I some years ago commenced a very particular examination of the Pictures themselves, and of the evidence on which they have claimed to be received as genuine. The result of this inquiry I now presume to lay before the Public. It seemed unnecessary to give longer existence to fading impositions, when they were once detected: the spurious Portraits have therefore not been engraved on the present occasion; they have been allowed to
"Come like shadows-so depart."
The genuine, by being recalled to a more punctilious examination, have increased their
claims to public favour, and have consequently now been engraved with perfect accuracy, and brought together, that in one work may be preserved every thing conducive to reasonable gratification.
As to the manner of this Inquiry, I shall I hope be pardoned for not confining myself to a dry and barren statement. Though the object be rather antiquarian than critical, I yet trust that some occasional remarks, illustrative of the life and poetical character of Shakspeare, will not be thought out of place; and that if I state some interesting facts with accuracy, I may be excused for occasionally deviating into what I can only hope to be sportive, and at most entertaining.
I have in truth been most ably seconded by the zeal and the talent of the Artists who have adorned the present work. My son, Mr. John Boaden, very kindly drew the Stratford Bust for me; and, in the opinion of able judges, he has perfectly expressed the effect of that venerable sculpture. During the progress of all the Engravings, he occasionally inspected the
proofs; and such is the modesty of true genius, that I found the different Artists solicitous, nay pleased, that their labours should have the advantage of what they termed a fresh eye, to alter or confirm their view of the subject.
I detain the Reader, therefore, no longer from a work on which I have bestowed considerable pains, and which I would hope may not be quite the feeblest, among the tributes of admiration which are continually gathering about the shrine of our immortal Bard.
made for Mr. Malone in the year 1783
The Portrait by Cornelius Jansen, engraved by
quiry as to its real author