Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

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 Rosciusor comedian, whom he," (Wright) "had painted in three dresses, as a gallant, a presbyterian minister, and a Scotch Highlander in his plaid." 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/ye" 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!
But has he spoken ?—not a syllable.
What shook the stage and made the people stare?
Cato's long wig, flowered gown, and lacker'd chair.-'*

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!
Pageant on pageant in long order drawn.
Peers, heralds, bishops, ermine, gold, and lawn;
The champion too, and, to complete the jest,
Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber s breast!"

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 lull-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 picture in Mr. Mathews's collection, wherein the great little Roscius looks much more likeDiggory 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 Kiny; 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 liichard, immediately returned it with a thousand apologies for the mistake.—Vide Cooke's Memoirs of Macklin, 8vo London, 1806, p. 147.

[graphic]

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: Jferdita in " The Winter's Tale," in a long stomacher, and a hoop festooned with flowers; and Comus,

« PreviousContinue »