"as if Harlequin himself on wires"

 Harlequin is another stock character with its basis in the 16th Century Commedia dell'arte.  He can fulfill a number of functions depending on the story, but is always both agile and somewhat foolish.  He generally acts as a gentleman's valet, and often becomes embroiled in amorous difficulties.  Despite being foolhardy, he can be wily enough to escape trouble.  His original costume consisted of long trousers and a loose shirt covered with brightly coloured patches; this evolved into a tighter outfit decorated with triangles and diamond shapes.  He lent his name to the form of pantomime called Harlequinade, which developed in the 18th Century, and was more based around slapstick