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this curiosity, got leave to carry a and enthusiastic, though in practice load of faggots into the hall where irregular with drink." How fresh Lag was used to sit all day cower- still in his own childhood was the ing over a huge fire.
As the boy memory of Lag our author gives an entered, the old man, well know- extremely curious instance, which will ing the popular feeling, turned on best be told in his own language :him, and, bending his brows into the fatal horse-shoe, said, in a voice
“Some forty years ago, or more, it was whose harshness even fourscore years common in many of the houses in Dumfrieshad not wholly quenched, "Ony shire and Galloway to commemorate annually Whigs in Gallowa' noo, lad ?" The the evil deeds of the Laird of Lag. They
used to represent him in shape of beast as boy dropped his load and scuttled
hideous as the ingenuity of the performer from the hall as though the devil entrusted with the part could make it, withindeed had been after him.
out wandering far, however, from a convenLag died on the last day of the year
tional model, which it was understood should
be adhered to. This is how it was done in 1733, in his house at Dumfries. As
my mother's house, and we were singularly his end drew near he was sorely fortunate in possessing in an
old nurse, tormented with the gout, and the story Margaret Edgar, an artiste who had made the goes that relays of servants were
part her own, and her name famous by reason posted from his door to the Nith, some
of her wonderful impersonation. She was
known throughout the country-side for the two hundred yards away, to hand up manner in which she could 'play Lag,' as the buckets from the fresh stream to cool phrase went. Her make-up and her acting his fiery torments; and that the mo
were excellent alike. In dressing for the part ment his feet touched the water it
she used to take a sheet, or blanket, or some
such covering, which was drawn over her head began to hiss and smoke! So, as every and body, only the feet and hands being left one knows—for we reject as too gross
out. But the one chief point, on which the a libel even on this generation the individuality of the monster depended, was thought that there can be any one
the head, which was invariably composed in who does not know his Scott—so
one way, no scope for fancy being permitted.
The kitchen implement called in Scotland a bubbled and sparkled like a seething 'potato beetle,' which is a large wooden cauldron the water into which Red- pestle, the handle pretty thick, and between gauntlet plunged his swollen feet on
two and three feet long, and ending in a
ponderous oval head, was entirely covered by the awful day when Willie Steenson's
strips of cloth being wrapped round it. Eyes father last saw him alive. And here were drawn upon it, and pieces of fur sewed we may note a curious piece of family on for eyebrows ; long ears and a mouth were history Colonel Fergusson has recorded :
added, the long handle of the instrument
forming an imposing proboscis. This structhe last paper to which old Lag ever
ture was fastened to the head of the performer, put his name was a receipt for some who moved on hands and knees; the result back arrears of rent; and the paper was a quadruped resembling a combination of is among the family archives at this
the tapir of Borneo and South American ant. day.
eater, strongly conveying an impression as of
a character escaped from a medieval miracleBut we have not space to go through play. The Abbot of Unreason would have been all the legends coined about this fell proud of such an attendant in his train. old creature. Colonel Fergusson's book
Margaret Edgar possessed the skill needed to will feed all further curiosity full.
give life-like movements to the beast, and to
keep up the character of ferreting and listening And let him who has such curiosity be implied by the long nose and ears. She careful not to miss the chapter on threw into her reading of the part an amount • Lag's Elegy,' that scathing diatribe of cat-like inquisitiveness and a determination on the protagonists of “the killing nity of the original that made the blood run
recalling the restless and unwearying maligtime” which Carlyle has told us in cold of old and young. The head and dress his 'Reminiscences' was the work of being in readiness, a suitable night had to be old John Orr, the dominie of Hoddam
chosen for the appearance of the Laird,
usually about the time of Halloween, when parish, of whom he had often heard
minds are attune with things unearthly. On his father talk as a man “religious some dark November night-for there was
according to the fashion of the period. The memories of Drumclog were all unavailing in the presence of this fell prelatic beast.'
some artistic feeling displayed—when the wind off the Solway swept in gusts off the dismal and dangerous Lochar Moss, making the branches of trees to groan, and the windows of the old house rattle, the Laird of Lag might be looked for. Then, the company seated, and the dining-room being left suffi. ciently dim and mysterious by the unsnuffed light of a couple of the miserable moulded' candles of those days, a moaning most melancholy is heard, and anon the door is slowly opened, and the end of Lag's long nose appears, then the glaring eyes and long ears of the creature, who proceeds, with stealthy steps and head on one side, to listen for sounds of a house-conventicle, and to smell out Covenanters under the sideboard and other likely places. The performance usually ends with an attempt to pounce on and capture a little Whig body with frills round her ankles
To this description is appended a picture of Miss Edgar in the character of Lag, and certainly the “make-up" would not discredit even this age of theatrical ingenuity. Old Sir Robert Redgauntlet himself could not have looked more "gash and ghastly" as he lay wrapped in his velvet gown with his gouty feet on a cradle, and Major Weir grinning opposite to him in a red-laced coat and the laird's own wig on its ill-favoured head.
NOT GLAD, NOR SAD.
You sang a little song to-day,
And did they meet again, my dear ?-
Ah no, I think some sudden craze,
So strange the numbers sob and swell ;
ARCHÆOLOGY IN THE THEATRE.
What are the principles by which the idea, it must needs affect a variety of modern manager can put Shakespeare incident, a novelty in the scenery and on the stage to the very best advan- surroundings of the action, and a tage? The question is pretty fre- proportionate care for detail, such as quently asked without receiving any ancient tragedy could well afford to definite answer; and, for the matter dispense with. Though there are of of that, it is likely to revive as often course exceptions—exceptions which as the Shakespearean drama itself, in serve, for example, to make Æschylus theatrical parlance, “revives.” The appear more modern in many ways aim of every stage-manager who has than Sophocles, and Aristophanes any tincture of ambition in him, being more modern than either, yet on the above all things to achieve distinction whole the simplicity and reserve of the by means of the Shakespearean drama ; Greek genius are nowhere, probably, and a novel interpretation of the text, so conspicuous as in the Greek drama. a conception, that is to say, of its real Prometheus on his rock, the monsignificance different from that which sters that draw the car of Oceanus, the is ordinarily held, not being always dreadful locks of the Erinnyes, or obtainable, the most usual plan to again, the outlandish appearance of attract public attention is to contrive the Aristophanic chorus, the lion skin some striking innovation in the way on Dionysus's shoulders, and the basket the piece is mounted. If it be true from which Socrates discourses philothat each generation must have its sophy—these are modern touches that special Hamlet, it is at least equally bring the drama of the ancients home true that each Hamlet must have his to us, foretastes as it were of the special surroundings; and so, from Elizabethan method, which one greets time to time, the question how to with a pleasant sense of familiarity, represent Shakespeare most satisfac- but unquestionably they are exceptorily for a modern audience comes to tional. A Greek dramatist was as a have fresh interest for all who have rule too fast bound by the conventions any love for the play.
of the stage to indulge in many such There are some people, to be sure, eccentricities. The hero of one of who will have that the answer is of those old tragedies must have looked little or no importance, and that it is very like the hero of another; and in the acting only, and not the scenery the trailing robes, the masks modelled or the costumes or the stage carpenter- on strictly preserved types, and the ing, with which we should concern our- measured declamation of the actors, selves... Of certain plays this may be
deviations from the normal arrangetrue; but surely to assert it generally ment were rarely allowed to distract of all plays is to overlook the real attention from the central action of distinction between the modern, or
the story. Shakespearean, drama and the drama With Shakespeare on the other of the Greeks. The Shakespearean hand (not to speak of his contempodrama is eminently picturesque ; that raries) externals were all-important; is to say, the impression it studies to and this, whether one looks at the produce being largely due to the cir- plays from the standpoint of the cumstances, the accessories, the acci- literary critic or that of the stagedents, as it were, of the plot, as well manager.
In both cases the same as to the development of the main method is unmistakable; one sees a determination to make all manner be less, as far as the stage effect is of details, accessories, non-essentials, concerned, if Hamlet were to be de serve a particular purpose, and to prived of that distinctive costume which handle them in such a manner that, far from the first marks him out from from diminishing, they may rather aid among the gay crowd of courtiers. and heighten the main effect. Thus Costume then may be made, and Juliet's nurse, the porter in 'Macbeth,' should be made, intensely dramatic. and the gardener who reads a lesson The question really is, how it can be to King Richard's Queen, are just as made most dramatic. What, in fact, much, and in a sense just as little, is the principle on which the Shakeexternals as the colour of Othello's spearean drama can be most satisfacface or the fashion of Malvolio's hose. torily put on the stage? The question The minor parts of many of Shake- will, as we have said, receive a different speare's plays may be said, it is true, answer in different ages; the answer to be mere circumstances, unnecessary
which is most in favour to-day, if we for the development of the dramatic may judge from recent Shakespearean idea; but, on the other hand, the revivals, is eminently characteristic of genius of the dramatist weaves them a scientific age, and is based on what into so close a connection with his
may be called a theory of historical fable, as to give them a very special realism. Now it seems reasonable and peculiar importance, which cannot enough to argue that every play must be overlooked in any stage representa- needs be laid in some country and tion; and among the externals of the at some period, or at least must recall Shakespearean drama costume plays a some country or some period more by no means insignificant part. unmistakably than any other; and
Considered as means to deepen the that, having once determined these, tragic irony of young Hamlet's position, the stage-manager has next to do his or the pathos that clings round an utmost to realise them by every means outcast king, Lear's ‘lendings' and possible, to spare no pains to make the well-known suit of sables are quite the scenery and surroundings of the as genuinely dramatic -- contribute action historically harmonious, to look quite as really to the expression of the on every detail as occasion for dramatist's conception, as the more adding a touch to the verisimilitude of purely literary devices of introducing the whole, and to throw himself into in the one play the faithful fool, and the arms of archæology as his best in the other the gravediggers, the first and surest friend. And this is, as a player, the judicious Horatio, and matter of fact, what we frequently above all the pushing and determined Archæology, growing daily more Prince of Norway. Stage renderings popular, has made the Shakespearean of Hamlet's character have indeed, in stage its own; and a generation that most instances, lost enormously by does not mind paying handsomely for lacking the contrast, so strikingly historical accuracy congratulates itself emphasised at every turn in the on the invasion. play itself, with the fiery, martial Modern audiences seem content to spirit whose triumphant entry at the put up with long, wearisome intervals last supplies what is perhaps the between the acts, with a complete remost solemn and tremendous close arrangement of the scenes and even that could be imagined, to the bloody with an excision of many of them, if and bewildering scene on which, as what remains be given with sufficient matters now are, the curtain is usu- pomp and splendour of antiquarian ally allowed to drop; the gap caused display. by the omission in most acting ver- It is the theory on which this sions of the part of Fortinbras is im- practice is founded that we now promense, and yet the loss would scarcely pose to examine; and at the outset