pears to us that, without further evidence, there can be no doubt that the play acted before the partisans of the Earl of Essex was not the play of Shakspere. The deposition scene, we know, professed to be added to the edition of 1608. The play which Merrick ordered was, in 1601, called an obsolete play. Further, would Shakspere have continued in favour with Elizabeth, had he been the author of a play whose performand

ince gave such deep offence?

But we have now further evidence that there was an old play of · Richard II.,' which essentially differed from Shakspere’s play. Mr. Collier, whose researches have thrown so much light upon the stage in general, and upon Shakspere's life in particular, has published some very curious extracts from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, which describe, from the observations of a play-goer in the time of James I., a play of · Richard II.,' essentially different in its scenes from the play of Shakspere. Dr. Symon Forman, who was a sort of quack and astrologer, and who, being implicated in the conspiracy to murder Sir Thomas Overbury, had escaped public accusation by suddenly dying in 1611, kept “a book of plays and notes thereof, for common policy;" by which “common policy” he means

-for maxims of prudence. His first entry is entitled “ in Richard II., at the Globe, 1611, the 30 of April, Thursday.” From the extract which we shall take the liberty of giving from Mr. Collier's book, it will be seen that at Shakspere's own theatre, the Globe, a "Richard II.' was performed, which was, unquestionably, not his ‘Richard II.'

“Remember therein how Jack Straw, by his overmuch boldness, not being politic nor suspecting anything, was suddenly, at Smithfield Bars, stabbed by Walworth, the Mayor of London, and so he and his whole army was overthrown. Therefore, in such case, or the like, never admit any party without a bar between, for a man cannot be too wise, nor keep himself too safe.

“ Also remember how the Duke of Glocester, the Earl of Arundel, Oxford, and others, crossing the King in his humour about the Duke of Erland (Ireland) and Bushy, were glad to fly and raise a host of men; and, being in his castle, how the Duke of Erland came by night to betray him, with three hundred men; but, having privy warning thereof, kept his gates fast, and would not suffer the enemy to enter, which went back again with a fly in his ear, and after was slain by the Earl of Arundel in the battle.

“ Remember, also, when the Duke (i. e. of Glocester) and Arundel came to London with their army, King Richard came forth to them, and met them, and gave them fair words, and promised them pardon, and that all should be well, if they would discharge their army: upon whose promises and fair speeches they did it; and after, the King bid them all to a banquet, and so betrayed them and cut off their heads, &c., because they had not his pardon under his hand and seal before, but his word.

“ Remember therein, also, how the Duke of Lancaster privily contrived all villainy to set them all together by the ears, and to make the nobility to envy the King, and mislike him and his government; by which means he made his own son king, which was Henry Bolingbroke.

“Remember, also, how the Duke of Lancaster asked a wise man whether himself should ever be king, and he told him no, but his son should be a ing: and when he had told him, he hanged him up for his labour, because he should not bruit abroad, or speak thereof to others. This was a policy in the commonwealth's opinion, but I say it was a villain's part, and a Judas' kiss, to hang the man for telling him the truth. Beware, by this example, of noblemen and their fair words, and say little to them, lest they do the like to thee for thy good will."*

From Forman's account of this play it will be seen that it embraces the earlier period of Richard II., containing the insurrection of Jack Straw. It seems very doubtful whether it includes the close of the reign. We have a talk for “policy" about the Duke of Lancaster's (Gaunt's) machinations; but nothing about Henry Bolingbroke. Were there two plays of “Richard II.' of which we know nothing—the obsolete play of the deposition, which Merrick caused to be acted in 1601, and the play containing Jack Straw, which Forman noted in 1611 ?


For the male costume of this play we are overwhelmed with authorities. Not only do we possess elaborately-executed portraits and monumental elligies of Richard, and the greater number of the other historical personages, but the time is particularly rich in illuminated manuscripts, and in anecdotes illustrative of the dress and armour of the people at large.

The poems of Chaucer and the chronicles of Froissart are full of information on these points; and in the Harleian Collection of MSS. there is the well-known and invaluable - Metrical History of the deposition of Richard II., by a gentleman of the household of Charles VI. of France, and who attended Richard during the whole of the period he describes.† The MS. is liberally illustrated by miniatures exhibiting all the principal scenes of that eventful story, and containing portraits, of the dress at least, of Richard II., Bolingbroke, the Earls of Northumberland, Westmoreland, Exeter, Salisbury, the Bishop of Carlisle, &c. &c.

This circumstance is the more fortunate, as, although we possess

* New Particulars regarding the Works of Shakespeare: 1836. † See Historical Illustrations to Act III.

numberless illuminated copies of Froissart, all that have come under our notice have been executed as late, at least, as the commencement of the reign of our Henry VI., and, consequently, present us with the dress and armour of another century. We take this opportunity of impressing this fact upon the minds of our readers, by at once referring them to the cut at the end of this Introductory Notice, taken from the illuminated copy of Froissart, and representing the throwing down and accepting of the gage; by comparison of which with those from the · Metrical History they will perceive the difference in the fashions of the times, and avoid confounding the former with those which are given as undoubted authorities for the costume of this play.

The foppery of dress prevailing during the reign of Richard II. is the universal theme of satire and reprobation amongst the poets and historians of the day; and York, in the first scene of the second act of this play, speaks with perfect truth of our “apish nation” limping in base imitation after the “ fashions in proud Italy,” or wherever “the world thrusts forth a vanity;" a passage which Dr. Johnson has presumed, of course, to be a mistake of Shakspere, or, rather, a wilful anachronism of the man who gave 66 to all nations the customs of England, and to all ages the manners of his own!” Richard himself was (as the Rev. Mr. Webb has remarked in his description of the Metrical History' aforesaid--Archæologia,' vol. xx.) the greatest fop of his day.* He had a coat estimated at thirty thousand marks, the value of which must chiefly have arisen from the quantity of precious stones with which it was embroidered, such being one of the many extravagant fashions of the time.t Those of working letters and mottoes on the dresses, and cutting the edges of the mantles, hoods, &c., into the shape of leaves and other devices, will be seen by referring to the portrait of Richard in the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster, and the illuminations of the

Metrical History. Bolingbroke, in the miniatures of that work, is represented in mourning for his father. When he entered London with the captive Richard in his train, he was dressed, according to Froissart, in a short jack, or jacket, of cloth of gold, “ a la fachon d'Almayne."

Of John of Gaunt we are told that he wore his garments

66 not

* The Monk of Evesham describes him as extravagantly splendid in his entertainments and dress.

† The statute passed in prohibition of such vanities calls these dresses “ apparel broider'd of stone."

wide,” and yet they became him “full well.” In the Cotton MS. marked D 6, he is represented granting the claims at the coronation of Richard II., as Lord High Steward of England. He is attired in a long particoloured robe, one half white, the other blue, such being the family colours of the House of Lancaster. White and red were, however, assumed by Richard II. as his livery colours, and, as such, worn by the courtiers and citizens on state occasions.

The sleeves of John of Gaunt's robe, it will be observed, are tight, and reach to the wrist, after the old fashion of Edward III.'s time, but bearing out the words of the old poet before quoted, who praises him for not giving way to the extravagances of his nephew's court: Chaucer, the Monk of Evesham, and the author of an anonymous work, cited by Camden, and called “The Eulogium,' all complain of the large, long, and wide sleeves, reaching almost to the feet, which even the servants wore in imitation of their masters.

The shoes had excessively long pikes, sometimes crooked upwards, and then called crackowes (probably from Cracow, in Poland), and, according to the author of · The Eulogium,' occasionally fastened to the knees by chains of gold or silver. The chaperon, or hood, of this reign is of a most indescribable shape, and is sometimes worn over the capucium, or cowl. Single ostrichfeathers are also seen occasionally in front of the hood, or cap. The hair was worn long in the neck and at the sides, and elderly persons are generally represented with forked beards.

The decoration of the white hart, crowned and chained under a tree, was worn by all Richard's friends and retainers. In the wardrobe account of his twenty-second year is an entry of a belt and sheath of a sword, of red velvet, embroidered with white harts crowned and with rosemary-branches.

The armour of this reign was nearly all of plate,-a neck-piece of chain fastened to the bascinet, and called the camail, and the indented edge of the chain-apron depending below the jupon, or surcoat, being nearly all the mail visible. The jupon introduced during the preceding reign was a garment of silk, or velvet, richly embroidered with the armorial bearings of the wearer, fitting tight to the shape, and confined over the hips by a magnificent girdle. (Vide that of the Black Prince at Canterbury.) In the Metrical History,' however, Richard and his knights are represented in loose surcoats, sometimes with sleeves, and embroidered all over with

fanciful devices, the king's being golden ostrich-feathers. The armour worn by Boling broke when he entered the lists at Coventry was manufactured expressly for him at Milan by order of Galeazzo Visconti, to whom he had written on the subject.

The chronicler Hall (and Holinshed follows him), describing this event, asserts, but without quoting his authority, that Bolingbroke’s horse was caparisoned with blue and green velvet, embroidered all over with swans and antelopes (his badges and supporters), and that the housings of the Duke of Norfolk's charger were of crimson velvet, embroidered with silver lions (his paternal arms) and mulberry-trees, a punning device, the family name being Mowbray. The vizor of the bascinet, or war helmet, of this time, was of a singular shape, giving to the wearer almost the appearance of having the head of a bird. A specimen is to be seen in the Tower of London, and a still more perfect one is in the armoury of Sir S. Meyrick, at Goodrich Court.

No feathers, as yet, decorated the helmet, unless they formed the heraldic crest of the family, and then only the tournament helmet.

Of the female characters in the play, the Duchess of Gloster is the only one for whose dress we have any precise authority; and it is probable that she is represented on her monumental brass in Westminster Abbey, which furnishes it, in the habit of a nun of Barking Abbey, to which place she retired after her husband's murder, and took the veil. The nuns of Barking, however, being of the order of St. Benedict, the dress, both in hue and form, would resemble the mourning habit of a widow of high rank at that period, which was quite conventual in its appearance, even to the barbe, or plaited chin-cloth.

The general dress of ladies of quality, during the reign of Richard II., consisted of the kirtle, a sort of low-bodied gown, with long tight sleeves, and made to fit very close to the figure, over which was worn a singularly-shaped sleeveless gown, or robe, with a very full skirt and train, the front and edges generally trimmed with ermine, or other rich furs, and giving the appearance of a tight spencer over a loose dress, instead of which it is, as nearly as possible, the exact reverse.

Over this, on state occasions, was worn a long mantle, which, as well as the skirt of the gown, or robe, was frequently embroidered with armorial bearings. Leithieullier, in his observations on Sepulchral Monuments, has remarked that, in such cases, the arms on

« VorigeDoorgaan »