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the middle ages, consisted in clothing real personages of all eras according to the fashion of the passing hour, and imaginary ones in meaningless splendour, or allegorical garments of so wild a fancy that, without their names were written upon them (by no means an uncommon practice), they must have been walking puzzles to all but the inventor.
With the reign of Elizabeth, the drama assumed a more regular shape; and in the year 1571, we read of the representation of six plays before the Queen,* the expense of getting up which, together with six masques, amounted to 1558/. 17s. 5^d. The plays were entitled, "Lady Barbara;" " Effiginia" (a tragedy); "Ajax and "Ulysses;" "Narcissus;" "Cloridon and Radiamanta;" and "Paris and Vienna;" and, amongst the properties bought and made for them and the masques, are mentioned, horse-tails, hobby-horses, branches of silk, sceptres, wheat-staves, bodies of men in timber, dishes for devils' eyes, devices for hell and hell mouth, (the latter a favourite dramatic property in those days,) bows, bills, dags, swords, spears, fire-works, and twenty-one vizards with long beards, and six Turks' vizards. In the play of "Narcissus," a fox was let loose in the court, and pursued by dogs; the charge for which was 20s. and 8d. The cost for the counterfeit thunder and lightning was 22«. The vizards and beards we have mentioned, were hired, it appears, from one Thomas Gylles, a person whose trade it was to let out apparel for public and pri
* Malone's Shakspeare, by Boswell, vol. iii. p. 364. Collier's Annals, vol. i. p. 196.
vate entertainments; for in this same year, 1571, he made a complaint in writing to Sir W. Cecil * that the yeoman of the Queen's revels injured his business, and the Queen's dresses, by improperly and for hire allowing them to be taken out of the office, in order to be worn at marriages, banquets, &c. in town and country. He prays, therefore, that they may be taken to pieces after they have been worn at court, and subjoins a list of twenty-one instances in which he can prove that the apparel of the revels had been thus let out to hire. Some of the entries are curious, as they prove the universality of pageants at marriage-festivals; for instance, the fifteenth charge is, that the yeoman of the revels lent the red cloth of gold gowns to a tailor marrying in the Black Friars on the 15th of September; and the very next on the list, that he lent the copper cloth of gold gowns which were last made, and another mask, into the country for the marriage of the daughter of Lord Montague. Upon such occasions, therefore, Joan was dressed as fine as my lady. Strutt, in his "Horda Angel Cynan," vol. iii. has given a print representing one of these marriage-festival masques or pageants. Annexed is a specimen from it of a Mercury, and Diana, &c.
In the next year, 1572, an item occurs, " for the hire of armour for setting forth of divers playes;" t and Discord, in a collar and shackles, appears to have been a prominent character in some entertainments produced out of compliment to the French ambassador. %
• Lansdown MSS. No. 13. Collier, vol. i. p. 198.
♦ Lansdown MSS. No. 9. t Collier, vol. i. p. 206.
In 1573-4, the following plays were acted at Whitehall * by the servants of the Earl of Leicester, Lord Clinton, and the children of St. Paul's, Westminster, and Windsor: "Pedor and Lucia," "Alkeneon," "Mamillia," " Truth, Faithfulness, and Mercy," "Herpetulus the Blue Knight, and Perobia 1" (a fine title for a Christmas or Easter spectacle,) and "Quintus Fabius," something more classical and legitimate; "Timoclea at the siege of Thebes,"—In consequence of the tediousness of this play, we are told, "a mask of ladies representing the iix Virtues could not be represented;" we trust Patience was not forgotten amongst them;—" Philimon and Philicia," "a pastoral-comical, or historical-pastoral," as Polonius would call it; and "Perseus and Antkomeris," most
* Malone's Shakspeare, by Boswell, vol. iii. p. 375.
likely Andromeda. For these and five masks were made and purchased, monsters, great hollow trees, bays for the prologues, a gibbet to hang up Diligence! counterfeit fishes for the play of Pedor, a dragon's head, a truncheon for the Dictator (Quintus Fabius of course, who, as he was surnamed Cunctator, or the Delayer, might with great propriety have ordered the suspension of Diligence), "deal-boards for the senate-house! pins, stiff and great, for the paynted clothes, and feathers for the new maskers." To these are added—charges for the diet of children while learning their parts and gestures, and for an Italian woman and her daughter who lent and dressed the "hairs" (wigs) of the children. In 1577, Walter Fyshe, the yeoman keeper of the royal revel stuff, provided for certain masks and plays—woolverings for pedlars' caps, bottles for pilgrims, a mariner's whistle, a scythe for Saturn, three devils' coats and heads, dishes for devils' eyes; Heaven, Hell, and "the Devil and all," I should say; but "not all," adds the facetious yeoman: "long poles and brushes for chimney-sweepers, in my Lord of Leicester's men's play; a coat, a hat, and buskins, all covered with feathers of colours for Vanity, in Sebastian's play; and a periwig of hair for King Xerxes' sister. *
From the reign of Edward the Third up to this period, the costumes of the actors appear to have been furnished at the expense, either of the sovereign, or the nobleman, whose servants they were; but we now approach the time when regular theatres were built, and companies of players were formed, each establishment
* Collier's Annals, vol. i. p. 136.
having its own wardrobe. "The Theatre," simply so called, perhaps from its being the first building dedicated expressly to public dramatic performances, was existing in 1576; and that called "the Curtain," in 1577. In 1576, also, the Blackfriars Theatre was built by James Burbadge, the father of the great tragedian and original representative of Shakspeare's heroes; and these erections were speedily followed by those of the Whitefriars, the Salisbury Court, the Globe, the Fortune, the Rose, the Hope, the Swan, the Newington, the Red Bull, &c. To Philip Henslowe, the proprietor of the Rose Theatre, and manager of the company of players called "the Lord-Admiral's men," we are indebted for a very detailed account of the dresses and properties of a public theatre in the dawn of England's drama, from a diary kept by him, and still preserved at Dulwich College; Mr. Malone * and Mr. Collier t have published several lists of articles of dress and decoration in use at that period. We shall content ourselves with extracting only such items as illustrate the dress of well-known characters, or particular professions. For instance, we find Tamberlyne's (Tamerlane's) coat with copper-lace, and his breeches of crimson velvet; Harry the Fifth's velvet gown, and his satin doublet laid with gold lace; Tasso's robe and Dido's robe; Eve's bodice! and, what is almost as staggering, a ghost's bodice; Juno's coat; Vortigern's robe of rich taffety; Longshanks' suit (Edward the First's, in Peel's play ?) senators' gowns, hoods, and caps; a green gown for Maid Marian; green coats and hats for Robin Hood and his men; a pair of hose for the
* Shakspeare, by Boswell, vol. iii. t Annals, vol. iii. p. 354-362.