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Garrick as Macbeth.
the present manager of our principal theatre, (Mr. Garrick, who entered on the management of Drury Lane in 1747,) is that of the dresses, which are no longer the heterogeneous and absurd mixtures of foreign and ancient modes which formerly debased our tragedies, by representing a Roman general in a full-bottomed peruke and the sovereign of an Eastern empire in trunk-hose." Now, to say nothing of the fact that the very absurdities specified were then, and continued to be so for some years afterwards, in existence, let us for Heaven's sake look at the specimens he gives us of the elegant and characteristic costumes introduced by the genius and judgment of Garrick: Perdita in " Tfre Winter's Tale," in a long stomacher, and a hoop festooned with flowers; and Comus, in a stiff-skirted coat, over which is worn what he calls "a robe of pink sattin, puft with silver gauze, fastened over the shoulder with a black velvet sash, adorned with jewels. The jacket," as he calls the coat aforesaid, " is of white curtained sattin. The collar is black velvet, set with jewels, and the boots are blue sattin I" But the figure should be seen to be appreciated. Here it is! Fancy an actor now walking on the stage in such a dress for Comus!
him, as he increased in popularity and power, to do away with the most glaring absurdities; and on the opening of the new Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on the 21st of April 1794, Macbeth was revived " with great magnificence of decoration, and with some novelties, both in the conduct and machinery of the fable. The scenes were all new, and extremely beautiful. Of the novelties in the management of the play the following were the most striking. The ghost of Banquo did not enter in the scene of the festival; but Macbeth ' bent his eye on vacancy.' The high-crowned hats and lace-aprons of the witches were properly discarded; they were represented as preternatural beings, adopting no human garb, and distinguished only by the fellness of their purposes and the fatality of their delusions. Hecate's companionspirit descended on the cloud, and rose again with her. In the cauldron-scene, new groups were introduced to personify the ' black spirits and white, blue spirits and grey;' and here one would have imagined that the muse of Fuseli had been the director of the scene. The evil spirits had serpents writhing round them, which had a striking effect." *
The French Revolution, which occurred at this period, was also mainly productive of a revolution in dramatic costume on both sides of the channel. "The rage for liberty," says a modern writer, " introduced an admiration of the ancient republics; the ladies dressed their heads in imitation of antique busts, and endeavoured to copy the light and scanty draperies of ancient statues; and while the ladies were thus attired a la Grecgue, the gentlemen kept them in countenance by cropping their hair a la Somaine." "The toga and the paludamentum found their wav from the French stage to ours; and Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, and Cato were represented with some regard to Roman habits and manners, although the authorities consulted by Mr. Kemble were those of the time of the Emperors, instead of the republic. The English historical and romantic plays were also
* " Biographia Dramatica," vol. i. p. xlviii. Iutroduct.
dressed with at least more consistency. Mr. Kemble indented a conventional costume, formed of the old English dresses of the reigns of Elizabeth, James the First, and the two Charles's ; and although King John, Richard the Third, &c. were anything but correctly attired, their habits had an antique as well as picturesque appearance, and the whole dramatis persona were similarly arrayed, instead of all illusion being destroyed by the introduction of modern uniforms or plain clothes. * The rage for melodrama and spectacle, which gradually obtained from this period, was productive at any rate of a still greater spirit of inquiry into ancient manners and habits. Print-shops and private portfolios were ransacked for the getting up of every new Easter piece; and the magic wand of a Farley transported us at his will into the regions of fairyland, or the baronial halls of the feudal ages. But alas ! while the crusader donned his glittering hawberk of mail, to astonish the galleries on an Easter Monday, the bastard Falconbridge, and the barons of King John, were dressed all the year round in the robes and armour of at best the seventeenth century. On Mr. Kean's appearance, and consequent success, the most popular plays underwent considerable alterations and improvements in point of scenery and dresses at Drury Lane. Several gentlemen of acknowledged taste and information supplied the new Roscius with designs for his own wardrobe, and the proprietors of the theatre were not behindhand in tbeir endeavours to assist the illusion of the scene. The stage dress of Richard, which had been but little altered from the days of Garrick and Macklin, underwent various changes, particularly in the latter scenes; but his cloak still bore the star of the garter, as altered by Charles the First. The trunks were of the time of James the First; and the plumed hat, in the throne-scene, of the reign of Charles the Second. Shylock assumed a red hat lined with black, on the dic
+ The late Mr. Mathews made his first appearance in public at Richmond, as Richmond in " Richard the Third," wearing a light-horseman's helmet and jacfcet.
tum of Mr. Douce, the illustrator of Shakspeare, who quoted St. Didier's " Histoire de Venise" as his authority. Othello's dress was wholly changed; but the correct costume was sacrificed to what the actor considered effect. The habits of King Lear and Richard the Second were certainly improved; and in a new but unsuccessful play, called " Ina," the Anglo-Saxon costume was fairly enough represented.
In 1823, Mr. Charles Kemble set about the reformation of the costume of Shakspeare's plays in good earnest. King John, the First Part of Henry the Fourth, As You Like It, Othello, Cymbeline, and Julius Caesar, were successively, and, as the public generally acknowledged, successfully revived. The actors, dreadfully alarmed in the outset lest they should be made to look ridiculous, were agreeably surprised by the impression produced upon the audience, and have now become as anxious to procure authorities to dress from, as they were previously annoyed at the idea of the innovation, and distrustful of the effect. The spirit of critical inquiry into these matters has been fairly aroused. The French stage is still, in some points, in advance of our own; but a few more years will, we hope, produce an entire and complete reformation of our theatrical wardrobes. The persons intrusted with their formation and management will find it is necessary to be something more than mere tailors; articles of dress will be called by their right names instead of technicals, which convey no meaning beyond the walls of a theatre. Shapes and romaldis * will be forgotten with the melodramas which gave birth to them: and though it is too much to expect that every actor will become a thorough-going antiquary, it is not too much to presume that, before they wear a decoration, they will take the trouble to inquire when the order was first established; and that the labours of Meyrick, Stothard, and others, having afforded them light enough to dress by, they will not huddle on their clothes in the
* The latter, a tunic, so called from its being worn by Rcmaldi in the "Tale of Mystery."