« PreviousContinue »
dian Lacy in three of his principal characters; and here we flatter ourselves we shall be able to correct an error which has been reprinted very many times in various respectable works. Mr. Baker, in his " Companion to the Playhouse," 2 vols. 1764, says, in his memoir of Lacy, he was so high in the esteem of Charles the Second, that his Majesty had his picture painted in three several characters : viz. Teague, in " The Committee;" Scruple, in " The Cheats;" and Galliard, in " The Variety." Now, the picture which is at present at Hampton Court certainly presents us with the last two: but the figure which should answer to Teague, is fully attired in the trews and plaid of a Highlander !—a dress in which Teague could never have been acted at any time; as he first appears wrapped in a blanket, and afterwards as a running footman in the livery of Colonel Careless. Evelyn, in his Diary under the date of October 3rd, 1662, expressly says he has just come from seeing the portrait of " Lacy, the famous Roscius or comedian, whom he," (Wright) "had painted in three dresses, as a gallant, a presbyterian minister, and a Scotch Highlander in hisplaid." Notwithstanding which, the editor repeats in a note the mistake of Baker, Jones, and others, by calling the third character Teague "in the Commitee." Lacy, however, was author of a drama called "Sawney the Scot;" and there can be little doubt that it is in this character of Sawney, the hero of his own piece, that the artist represented him ;* the gallant being Galliard, and the presbyterian minister, Scruple.
During the first half of the following century, that is to say, from the first appearance of that regular suit of clothes worn by our great-grandfathers under the name of coat, waistcoat, and breeches, to the days of Garrick and Kemble, the custom continued of dressing even historical personages according to the fashion of the passing
* " Sawney the Scot" was not published till seventeen years after the Author's death. The date of its production is not mentioned by Baker or his continuators. "The Commit lye" was published in 1665, and Evelyn saw the picture in 1662, three years before that date.
moment: and although, in point of fact, it was no more ridiculous to represent Hamlet in a full suit of black velvet of the cut of Queen Anne's time, than it was in the days of Charles to dress Falstaff in the habit of that reign, the stiff-skirted coat, the long wig, court sword, and cocked hat have a more ludicrous effect on the modern spectator than the ancient cavalier costume of 1640. But the attempt that occasionally manifested itself to combine, in imitation of the French actors, the habits of widely different eras, produced a melange, the absurdity of which is in our present day absolutely convulsive! The celebrated Booth is said by his biographer to have paid particular attention to his dress; so much so, that when playing the ghost in Hamlet, he covered the soles of his shoes with felt, in order to prevent the sound of his footsteps being heard, and so increase the supernatural effect of his appearance. Yet who does not remember Pope's lines descriptive of his appearance in Cato? which character he originally represented on the production of the tragedy in 1712:
"Booth enters ; hark the universal peal!
Imagine Cato now, appearing in a flowered robe de chambre, and a finely powdered full-bottom wig. There would be a " universal peal" indeed—of laughter: yet
* Imitation of the first epistle of Horace. In the same poem we have an allusion to the coronation of Henry the Eighth and Queen Anne Boleyn, in which the playhouses vied with each other to represent all the pomp of such a ceremony. A suit of armour was brought from the Tower for Cibber, who personated the champion.
"Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and horse!
the fashion of wearing full-bottom wigs with the Roman dress, (or at least what was intended for such,) and other heroic costumes, lasted till within the recollection of many now living. A valued friend of ours saw Haward play Tamberlain in a full-bottomed wig, as late as 1765. Aickin, he informs us, was the first who enacted that part without it; and, what was perhaps more ridiculous still, Garrick, who has been so bepraised for his reformation of stage Costume, played King Lear in a habit intended to look ancient, while Reddish in Edgar, and Palmer in the Bastard, were in full-dress suits of their own day; and the Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia of the tragedy in hoops! Richard the Third, also, was played by Garrick in a fancy dress, which Hogarth has handed down to us ! * but Richmond, and the rest, wore the English uniforms of the eighteenth century : and as to Macbeth, Garrick played it to the last in a court-suit of sky-blue and scarlet! Behold him, engraved from the
fiicture in Mr. Mathews's collection, wherein the great ittle Roscius looks much more like Diggory in "All the World 's a Stage," than the thane of Glamis. It is now with the whole collection at the Garrick Club. In Jeffrey's" Collection of Dresses," a work in two volumes quarto, published in 1757, the editor says in his preface, "As to the stage-dresses, it is only necessary to remark that they are at once elegant and characteristic ! and amongst many other regulations of more importance, for which the public is obliged to the genius and judgment of
* The hat which he wore in this character being adorned with feathers and mock jewels, was thought a great prize by some bailiffs who were rummaging poor Fleetwood's theatre. Garrick's man, David, trembling for his master's finery, sputtered out, '' Holloa, gentlemen ! take care what you are about: now look ye, that hat you have taken away belongs to the King; and when he misses it, there '11 be the devil and all to pay." The bailiffs taking it, as David meant they should, for the property of King George instead of King ilichard, immediately returned it with a thousand apologies for the mistake.—Vile Cooke's Memoirs of Macklin, 8vo London, 1806, p. 147.
of right to Falstaff, and how much to the allegorical personage. The naked feet, the rod, and the scroll we should say, decidedly belonged to the latter. The low robe of russet, the great buskins, the long mustaches, the bald head, and the little grey Venetian cap, appear to be characteristic of the jovial knight. The cup undoubtedly so. The celebrated Burbadge we find, from an elegy upon him, lately discovered by Mr. Payne Collier, played Shylock in a red beard and wig, in order, it is supposed, to render the character more repulsive.
Fire, the implacable enemy and destroyer of all theatrical property, from the days of Geoffrey the Norman to those of Mr. Samuel James Arnold, consumed in 1613 the Globe, and in 1621 the Fortune theatre. Sir Henry Wotton, writing to his nephew three days after the conflagration of the former, says :* " Now, to let matters of state sleep, I will entertain you at the present with what happened this week at the Bankside. The King's players had a new play called ' All is true;' representing some principal pieces of the reign of King Henry the Eighth; which set forth with many extraordinary circumstances of pomp and majesty, even to the matting of the stage, the knights of the order with their Georges and garter, the guards with their embroidered coats, and the like: sufficient in truth within awhile to make greatness very familiar, if not ridiculous. Now King Henry making a masque at the Cardinal Wolsey's house, and certain cannons being shot off at his entry, some of the paper or other stuff, wherewith one of them was stopped, did light on the thatch, where being thought at first but an idle smoak, and their eyes more attentive to the show, it kindled inwardly and ran round like a train, consuming within less than an hour the whole house to the very ground. This was the fatal period of that virtuous fabrick, wherein yet nothing did perish but wood and straw, and a few forsaken cloaks: only one man had his breeches set on fire, that would perhaps have broyled him, if he had not by the benefit of a provident wit put it out with bottle ale."
• Reliq. Wotton, edit. IG72, p. 425.
Notwithstanding Sir Henry's assurance that a few forsaken cloaks alone perished with the wood and straw, it appears, from " A Sonett upon the pitiful burning of the Globe Playhouse in London,"* that great part, if not the whole, of the wardrobe was consumed j for says the Sonneteer—
"The perrywigs and drum-heads frye
John Chamberlain, writing to Sir Dudley Carleton on the 15th of December 1621, mentions the other catastrophe in the following terms; " On Sunday night here was a great fire at the Fortune in Golding-lane, the first playhouse in this town. It was quite burnt down in two hours, and all their apparel and play-books lost, whereby those poor companions are quite undone."J
The puritanical spirit, which began to manifest itself during the troublous times of Charles the First, interfered considerably with dramatic entertainments; but we can scarcely be surprised if less severe thinkers than "Mr. Comissary General" had been scandalized by the performance of the " Midsummer Night's Dream" in a bishop's house, by order of the right reverend prelate, and "for the amusement of himself and divers knights and ladyes, upon the 27th of September (1631), being Sabbath day ;§ the play beginning about ten at night, and ending about two or three in the morning." Mr. Collier thinks
* Vide Gentleman's Magazine, Ixxxvi. p. 114, and Collier, vol. i. p. 387.
t This sonneteer was not half so pathetic and so grandiloquent on the destruction of theatrical wigs, as was the penny-a-line man of one of our papers, who in describing the burning down of one of our London theatres (we believe it was the " Royalty,") turned a long sentence by saying, " and the finest collection of tragic wigs in the universe fell a prey to the devouring element."
\ Dr. Birch's MSS. Brit. Mus.No. 4173, Collier, vol. iii p, 309.
§ Collier, vol. ii. p. 34.
Vol. i. 0