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into the mercantile or senatorial dignity. He is now of greater bulk, and more self-important. From fifty to sixty, he declines; he has a staff, but he has also a purse, whose weight he not unwillingly bears. From sixty to seventy, supported on crutches, he is creeping towards the grave, which is open to receive him, when he shall have accomplished his threescore and ten years.
Thus the designer of Sienna has differed, in detail, from our delightful poet and from the venerable Hebrew Rabbi; but the general intent of all is the same, namely, to moralize on that "vanity of vanities"*-Human Life.
Several of the early designers have employed themselves on similar themes. Tobias Stimmer, in his clever woodcuts, gives man ten periods of ten years each, making human life extend to a hundred years. Each of his cuts contains two decades, five of men and five of women; the very ornamental leaves are indicative of the changes that years bring with them, and the gradual improvement and decay are marked with a power deserving the praise bestowed by Fuseli on T. Stimmer's compositions.
It were to be wished that Henley had mentioned the name of either the inventor or engraver of the old print referred to in the notes in Johnson's and Steevens's Shakspeare, on Jaques' speech. As it is, we are left quite in the dark as to the age and author of the prints said to have been "stuck up in the generality of houses," at so early a period as before Shakspeare's time. What has become of all these prints? was that of which Steevens says that he
* The Medrash says, that Rabbi Simon in this verse accounts for the allusion to the Seven Ages of human life thus. The word occurs twice in the plural, which the Rabbi considers as equal to four, and three times in the singular, making altogether seven. "Vanity of Vanities," saith the Preacher; "Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity."
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,
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:
"This file of infants, some that never breathed
That lovingly consigns the babe to the arms
These that in trembling hope are laid apart,
Of infancy first blooms upon his cheek;
Of soul impetuous, and the bashful maid
Are opening round her; those of middle age
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 acMr. Douce, the most indefatigable commentator on
our great poet, throws no light upon the matter: he mentions a wood-cut illustration in "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 his own designs, divided into ten periods. Circa, 1640.
A. Gillot, engraved by Joullain; four ages.
J. Raoux, engraved by Moyreau; four ages.
Bosc, two sets, one a ceiling; four ages.
C. Dusart, from his own designs; 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.