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dresses which were used in them; and they, of course, readily found their way into the possession of the only persons to whom they could be valuable. That particular pains were sometimes taken to prevent the dresses, &c., from falling into the hands of the players, appears from a passage in Archbishop Laud's history of his Chancellorship, in which he gives an account of a play acted before the King and Queen, at St. John's College, and which was so well liked by the Queen, that she desired the apparel to be sent to Hampton Court, that she might see her own players act it over again. With this request Laud complied, “ humbly desiring of the King and Queen, that neither the play, nor clothes, nor stage, might come into the hands of the common players abroad, which was graciously granted.”
The dresses of the different Theatres, of course, varied, in quality and variety, according to the opulence or poverty of their treasuries; but it is certain, that, at most of the principal playhouses, the apparel was various, appropriate, and elegant. The inventory of the properties of the Lord Admiral's Company, in 1598, affords sufficient proof of the fact. Kings figured in crowns,
imperial, plain, or surmounted by a sun; and globes and sceptres graced their hands; Neptune had his garland and his trident, and Mercury his wings. Armour was in common use on the stage. A great quantity of the theatrical wardrobe was of satin, velvet, taffety, and cloth of gold; ornamented with gold and silver lace, or embroidery, probably producing an effect little inferior to what is now witnessed. Greene introduces a player, in his “Groat's worth of wit,” boasting that his share in the stage-apparel could not be sold for two hundred pounds; a very considerable sum, indeed, in those days; and as the number of shares varied from twelve to forty, the whole amount, according to the most moderate computation, must have been very great.
On an Apple being thrown at Mr. Cooke, whilst
playing Sir Pertinax Mac Sycophant.
GARRICK'S DEBUT, AND RETREAT. A gentleman asking a friend, who had seen Garrick perform his first, and his last, character, if he thought him as good an actor when he took his leave of the stage of " Old Drury,” as when he first played at Goodman's Fields, he gave for an answer the following
In all his energetic glows ;
In greater splendour than he rose.”
The 1st of December, of the year 1803, forms an era in the annals of the British stage, as having brought before a London audience, a juvenile actor of very extraordinary acquirements, at Covent Garden Theatre, as Achmet, in “ Barbarossa.” We allude to Master William Henry West Betty, who had just attained his thirteenth year, but had, in his previous provincial course, obtained the imposing name of the Young Roscius. The eagerness of the public to see this phenomenon was such, that three Theatres might have been filled with the crowd that sought ad
mission on that evening; and many very serious accidents happened, so great was the pressure, Such was his attraction, that he was soon engaged to perform, alternately, at Drury Lane, and Covent Garden; at the former of which the bills always announced him as the Young Roscius ; at the latter, as Master Betty. This young actor was courted by noble Lords, was kissed and caressed by noble Dames, and even had the honour of being introduced to his Grace the venerable Archbishop of York. He, afterwards, performed Richard, Hamlet, Macbeth, Octavian, Romeo, Gustavus Vasa, Tancred, Osmyn, Orestes, Zanga, and several other first-rate characters, with various degrees of merit, but with astonishing success; receiving £50, and latterly, it is said, £100 per night for his performances. Master Betty took his leave of the public, with a benefit, at Drury Lane, May 17, 1806, after playing Tancred, and Captain Flash. He has, however, performed since he arrived at man's estate, but without any of that success which attended his former exertions.
Gosson was a contemporary of Spenser, and
Sir Philip Sidney; and, after his ordination, he officiated at St. Botolph's Church. The chief business of his life appears to have been to preach down dramatic performances of all kinds; and not satisfied with assailing the “ Poor Players,” in his parish pulpit, he gave them the advantages of a vociferous Philippic from Paul's cross; and thinking the triumph incomplete until he had attacked them from the press, he published, in 1579, “ The School of abuse, a pleasant invective against Pipers, Players, Jesters, and such like caterpillars of the state.” In this work the following highly finished picture occurs. In these places (says Gosson, speaking of play houses,) you shall see such pushing, shoving, and shouldering, to get at the women, such care for their garments that they be not trod on, such eyes to their laps that no chips light on them, such pillows to their backs, that they take no hurt, such nuzzling in their ears, to say, I know not what; such presenting of pippins, such toying, such licking, such smiling and smicking, such winking, such rivalship, and out-generalling, in settling who shall man them home, that, in good truth, it is no small part of the comedie to mark their behaviour."