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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 1" 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!
Behold also the dress of Zara in the "Mourning Bride," from the same collection!
A pamphlet, entitled "The Dramatic Execution of Agis," published on the production of Mr. Home's tragedy of that name in 1758, contains a severe attack on Garrick for " disguising himself (a Grecian chief) in the dress of a modern Venetian gondolier;" and ridicules his having introduced "a popish procession made up of white friars, with some other moveables, like a bishop, des eufans de chceur, nuns, &c." into a play, the scene of which lies in ancient Sparta! So much for the judgment and taste of Garrick in dramatic costume.
Shortly after this period, it began to be the custom on the revival of old plays to advertise in the bills that the characters would be dressed "in the habits of the times." A friend informs us that he remembers such notices as early as 1762, the year of his first coming to London; but the earliest we have ourselves been able to meet with is dated Nov. 8th, 1775, on the occasion of the revival of a play called " Old City Manners;" and a similar advertisement occurs early in 1776, on the revival of Ben Jonson's "Epicene, or the silent Woman,'' when Mrs. Siddons supported the principal character. Henderson, the immediate successor of Garrick, instead of improving the taste of his brethren in this particular, set them the most wretched example in his own person. "He paid not," says Mr. Boaden,* " the slightest attention to costume, and was indifferent even as to the neatness of his dress. He never looked even to the linings of the suits he wore, and once boasted that he had played, I think, ten characters consecutively in the same coat." Macklin's costume in Shylock has been preserved to us by the pencil of Zoffany. A large unfinished picture by that artist, of the trial-scene in the " Merchant of Venice," now in the possession of Mr. Dominic Colnaghi ol Pail-Mall East, presents us with Macklin in a dress not very dissimilar in general appearance to that worn by the actors of Shylock at the present day; but Antonio is in a full court suit of black, and the senators in scarlet gowns, with large powdered wigs; which latter, though certainly worn by Venetian senators in the eighteenth century, were as certainly unknown to them in 1594, when the play was written, and to which period the language and manners are alone appropriate.
Mr. John Kemble, the first real reformer of stage costume, was introduced to the London public in the character of Hamlet. But he then played the part, says his biographer, "in a modern court-dress of rich black velvet, with a star on the breast, the garter and pendent riband of an order, mourning sword and buckles, with deep ruffles; the hair in powder, which, in the scenes of feigned distraction, flowed dishevelled in front, and over the shoulders." f His classical taste, however, soon led
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 tie ladies were thus attired a la Grecque, the gentlemen kept them in countenance by cropping their hair a la Romaine" "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. Introduct
dressed with at least more consistency. Mr. Kemble invented 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 personm 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 fairy land, 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 their 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
t 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 jacket.