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Title: Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi
Author: Grimaldi, Joseph
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi" ***

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[Illustration: JOSEPH GRIMALDI.]


  BY "BOZ"




_Price 2s. each, boards._

          The Greatest Plague of Life; or, The Adventures
               of a Lady in Search of a Good Servant.
               Edited by the BROTHERS MAYHEW. With
               Illustrations by GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.

          Whom to Marry and How to Get Married; or, The
               Adventures of a Lady in Search of a Good
               Husband. Edited by the BROTHERS MAYHEW, and
               Illustrated by GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.

          Mornings at Bow Street. With Steel Frontispiece
               and 21 Illustrations by GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.


It is some years now, since we first conceived a strong veneration for
Clowns, and an intense anxiety to know what they did with themselves
out of pantomime time, and off the stage. As a child, we were
accustomed to pester our relations and friends with questions out of
number concerning these gentry;--whether their appetite for sausages
and such like wares was always the same, and if so, at whose expense
they were maintained; whether they were ever taken up for pilfering
other people's goods, or were forgiven by everybody because it was only
done in fun; how it was they got such beautiful complexions, and where
they lived; and whether they were born Clowns, or gradually turned
into Clowns as they grew up. On these and a thousand other points our
curiosity was insatiable. Nor were our speculations confined to Clowns
alone: they extended to Harlequins, Pantaloons, and Columbines, all of
whom we believed to be real and veritable personages, existing in the
same forms and characters all the year round. How often have we wished
that the Pantaloon were our god-father! and how often thought that to
marry a Columbine would be to attain the highest pitch of all human

The delights--the ten thousand million delights of a pantomime--come
streaming upon us now,--even of the pantomime which came lumbering down
in Richardson's waggons at fair-time to the dull little town in which
we had the honour to be brought up, and which a long row of small boys,
with frills as white as they could be washed, and hands as clean as
they would come, were taken to behold the glories of, in fair daylight.

We feel again all the pride of standing in a body on the platform, the
observed of all observers in the crowd below, while the junior usher
pays away twenty-four ninepences to a stout gentleman under a Gothic
arch, with a hoop of variegated lamps swinging over his head. Again we
catch a glimpse (too brief, alas!) of the lady with a green parasol in
her hand, on the outside stage of the next show but one, who supports
herself on one foot, on the back of a majestic horse, blotting-paper
coloured and white; and once again our eyes open wide with wonder,
and our hearts throb with emotion, as we deliver our card-board check
into the very hands of the Harlequin himself, who, all glittering with
spangles, and dazzling with many colours, deigns to give us a word of
encouragement and commendation as we pass into the booth!

But what was this--even this--to the glories of the inside, where,
amid the smell of saw-dust, and orange-peel, sweeter far than violets
to youthful noses, the first play being over, the lovers united, the
ghost appeased, the baron killed, and everything made comfortable and
pleasant,--the pantomime itself began! What words can describe the
deep gloom of the opening scene, where a crafty magician holding a
young lady in bondage was discovered, studying an enchanted book to the
soft music of a gong!--or in what terms can we express the thrill of
ecstasy with which, his magic power opposed by superior art, we beheld
the monster himself converted into Clown! What mattered it that the
stage was three yards wide, and four deep? _we_ never saw it. We had
no eyes, ears, or corporeal senses, but for the pantomime. And when
its short career was run, and the baron previously slaughtered, coming
forward with his hand upon his heart, announced that for that favour
Mr. Richardson returned his most sincere thanks, and the performances
would commence again in a quarter of an hour, what jest could equal
the effects of the Baron's indignation and surprise, when the Clown,
unexpectedly peeping from behind the curtain, requested the audience
"not to believe it, for it was all gammon!" Who but a Clown could have
called forth the roar of laughter that succeeded; and what witchery but
a Clown's could have caused the junior usher himself to declare aloud,
as he shook his sides and smote his knee in a moment of irrepressible
joy, that that was the very best thing he had ever heard said!

We have lost that clown now;--he is still alive, though, for we saw
him only the day before last Bartholomew Fair, eating a real saveloy,
and we are sorry to say he had deserted to the illegitimate drama, for
he was seated on one of "Clark's Circus" waggons:--we have lost that
Clown and that pantomime, but our relish for the entertainment still
remains unimpaired. Each successive Boxing-day finds us in the same
state of high excitement and expectation. On that eventful day, when
new pantomimes are played for the first time at the two great theatres,
and at twenty or thirty of the little ones, we still gloat as formerly
upon the bills which set forth tempting descriptions of the scenery
in staring red and black letters, and still fall down upon our knees,
with other men and boys, upon the pavement by shop-doors, to read them
down to the very last line. Nay, we still peruse with all eagerness and
avidity the exclusive accounts of the coming wonders in the theatrical
newspapers of the Sunday before, and still believe them as devoutly
as we did before twenty years' experience had shown us that they are
always wrong.

With these feelings upon the subject of pantomimes, it is no matter
of surprise that when we first heard that Grimaldi had left some
memoirs of his life behind him, we were in a perfect fever until we had
perused the manuscript. It was no sooner placed in our hands by "the
adventurous and spirited publisher,"--(if our recollection serve us,
this is the customary style of the complimentary little paragraphs
regarding new books which usually precede advertisements about Savory's
clocks in the newspapers,)--than we sat down at once and read it every

See how pleasantly things come about, if you let them take their own
course! This mention of the manuscript brings us at once to the very
point we are anxious to reach, and which we should have gained long
ago, if we had not travelled into those irrelevant remarks concerning
pantomimic representations.

For about a year before his death, Grimaldi was employed in writing a
full account of his life and adventures. It was his chief occupation
and amusement; and as people who write their own lives, even in the
midst of very many occupations, often find time to extend them to a
most inordinate length, it is no wonder that his account of himself was
exceedingly voluminous.

This manuscript was confided to Mr. Thomas Egerton Wilks: to alter
and revise, with a view to its publication. Mr. Wilks, who was well
acquainted with Grimaldi and his connexions, applied himself to the
task of condensing it throughout, and wholly expunging considerable
portions, which, so far as the public were concerned, possessed neither
interest nor amusement, he likewise interspersed here and there the
substance of such personal anecdotes as he had gleaned from the writer
in desultory conversation. While he was thus engaged, Grimaldi died.

Mr. Wilks having by the commencement of September concluded his
labours, offered the manuscript to the present publisher, by whom it
was shortly afterwards purchased unconditionally, with the full consent
and concurrence of Mr. Richard Hughes, Grimaldi's executor.

The present Editor of these Memoirs has felt it necessary to say thus
much in explanation of their origin, in order to establish beyond doubt
the unquestionable authenticity of the memoirs they contain.

His own share in them is stated in a few words. Being much struck
by several incidents in the manuscript--such as the description of
Grimaldi's infancy, the burglary, the brother's return from sea under
the extraordinary circumstances detailed, the adventure of the man
with the two fingers on his left hand, the account of Mackintosh and
his friends, and many other passages,--and thinking that they might
be related in a more attractive manner, (they were at that time told
in the first person, as if by Grimaldi himself, although they had
necessarily lost any original manner which his recital might have
imparted to them;) he accepted a proposal from the publisher to edit
the book, and _has_ edited it to the best of his ability, altering its
form throughout, and making such other alterations as he conceived
would improve the narration of the facts, without any departure from
the facts themselves.

He has merely to add, that there has been no _book-making_ in this
case. He has not swelled the quantity of matter, but materially
abridged it. The account of Grimaldi's first courtship may appear
lengthy in its present form; but it has undergone a double and most
comprehensive process of abridgment. The old man was garrulous upon a
subject on which the youth had felt so keenly; and as the feeling did
him honour in both stages of life, the Editor has not had the heart to
reduce it further.

Here is the book, then, at last. After so much pains from so many
hands--including the good right hand of GEORGE CRUIKSHANK, which has
seldom been better exercised,--he humbly hopes it may find favour with
the public.

  _February, 1838_.



     Introductory Chapter                                       page v

                              CHAPTER I.

     His Grandfather and Father--His Birth and first appearance
     at Drury Lane Theatre and at Sadler's Wells--His Father's
     severity--Miss Farren--The Earl of Derby and the Wig--the
     Fortune-box and Charity's reward--His Father's pretended Death,
     and the behaviour of himself and his brother thereupon          1

                              CHAPTER II.

                             1788 to 1794.

     The Father's real Death--His Will, and failure of the
     Executor--Generous conduct of Grimaldi's Schoolmaster,
     and of Mr. Wroughton the Comedian--Smart running against
     time--Kindness of Sheridan--Grimaldi's industry and
     amusements--Fly-catching--Expedition in search of the "Dartford
     Blues"--Mrs. Jordan--Adventure on Clapham Common: the piece of
     Tin--His first love and its consequences                       17

                             CHAPTER III.

                             1794 to 1797.

     Grimaldi falls in Love--His success--He meets with an accident
     which brings the Reader acquainted with that invaluable
     specific "Grimaldi's Embrocation"--He rises gradually in his
     Profession--The Pentonville Gang of Burglars                   28

                              CHAPTER IV.

                             1797 to 1798.

     The Thieves make a second attempt; alarmed by their perseverance,
     Grimaldi repairs to Hatton Garden--Interview with Mr. Trott;
     ingenious device of that gentleman, and its result on the third
     visit of the Burglars--Comparative attractions of Pantomime and
     Spectacle--Trip to Gravesend and Chatham--Disagreeable recognition
     of a good-humoured friend, and an agreeable mode of journeying
     recommended to all Travellers                                  40

                              CHAPTER V.


     An extraordinary circumstance concerning himself, with another
     extraordinary circumstance concerning his Grandfather--Specimen
     of a laconic epistle, and an account of two interviews with Mr.
     Hughes, in the latter of which a benevolent gentleman is duly
     rewarded for his trouble--Preparations for his marriage--Fatiguing
     effects of his exertions at the Theatre                        51

                              CHAPTER VI.


     Tribulations connected with "Old Lucas," the constable, with an
     account of the subsequent proceedings before Mr. Blamire, the
     magistrate, at Hatton Garden, and the mysterious appearance of a
     silver staff--A guinea wager with a jocose friend on the Dartford
     Road--The Prince of Wales, Sheridan, and the Crockery Girl     62

                             CHAPTER VII.

                             1798 to 1801.

     Partiality of George the Third for Theatrical
     Entertainments--Sheridan's kindness to Grimaldi--His
     domestic affliction and severe distress--The production of
     Harlequin Amulet a new era in Pantomime--Pigeon-fancying and
     Wagering--His first Provincial Excursion with Mrs. Baker, the
     eccentric Manageress--John Kemble and Jew Davis, with a new
     reading--Increased success at Maidstone and Canterbury--Polite
     interview with John Kemble                                     76

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                             1801 to 1803.

     Hard work to counterbalance great gains--His discharge _from_
     Drury Lane, and his discharge _at_ Sadler's Wells--His return to
     the former house--Monk Lewis--Anecdote of him and Sheridan, and of
     Sheridan and the Prince of Wales--Grimaldi gains a son and loses
     all his capital                                                88

                              CHAPTER IX.


     Containing a Very Extraordinary Incident Well Worthy of the
     Reader's Attention                                             97

                              CHAPTER X.

                             1803 to 1805.

     Bologna and his Family--An Excursion into Kent with that
     personage--Mr. Mackintosh, the gentleman of landed property,
     and his preserves--A great day's sporting; and a scene at the
     Garrick's Head in Bow Street, between a Landlord, a Gamekeeper,
     Bologna and Grimaldi                                          106

                              CHAPTER XI.

                             1805 to 1806.

     Stage Affairs and Stage Quarrels--Mr. Graham, the Bow Street
     Magistrate and Drury Lane Manager--Mr. Peake--Grimaldi is
     introduced to Mr. Harris by John Kemble--Leaves Drury Lane Theatre
     and engages at Covent Garden--Mortification of the authorities at
     "the other house"--He joins Charles Dibdin's Company and visits
     Dublin--The _wet_ Theatre--Ill success of the speculation, and
     great success of his own Benefit--Observations on the comparative
     strength of Whisky Punch and Rum Punch, with interesting experiment

                             CHAPTER XII.

                             1806 to 1807.

     He returns to town, gets frozen to the roof of a coach on the
     road, and pays his rent twice over when he arrives at home--Mr.
     Charles Farley--His first appearance at Covent Garden--Valentine
     and Orson--Production of "Mother Goose," and its immense
     success--The mysterious adventure of the Six Ladies and the Six
     Gentlemen                                                     124

                             CHAPTER XIII.


     The mystery cleared up chiefly through the instrumentality of Mr.
     Alderman Harmer; and the characters of the Six Ladies and the Six
     Gentlemen are satisfactorily explained--The Trial of Mackintosh
     for Burglary--Its result                                      133

                             CHAPTER XIV.

                             1807 to 1808.

     Bradbury, the Clown--His voluntary confinement in a Madhouse,
     to screen an "Honourable" Thief--His release, strange conduct,
     subsequent career, and death--Dreadful Accident at Sadler's
     Wells--The night-drives to Finchley--Trip to Birmingham--Mr.
     Macready, the Manager and his curious Stage-properties--Sudden
     recall to Town                                                148

                              CHAPTER XV.

                             1808 to 1809.

     Covent Garden Theatre destroyed by fire--Grimaldi makes a trip
     to Manchester: he meets with an accident there, and another at
     Liverpool--The Sir Hugh Myddleton Tavern at Sadler's Wells, and
     a description of some of its frequenters, necessary to a full
     understanding of the succeeding chapter                       158

                             CHAPTER XVI.


     Grimaldi's Adventure on Highgate Hill, and its consequences   165

                             CHAPTER XVII.

                             1809 to 1812.

     Opening of the new Covent Garden Theatre--The great O. P.
     Rows--Grimaldi's first appearance as Clown in the public
     streets--Temporary embarrassments--Great success at Cheltenham and
     Gloucester--He visits Berkeley Castle, and is introduced to Lord
     Byron--Fish sauce and Apple Pie                               172

                            CHAPTER XVIII.

                             1812 to 1816.

     A Clergyman's Dinner-party at Bath--First Appearance of Grimaldi's
     Son, and Death of his old friend Mr. Hughes--Grimaldi plays at
     three Theatres on one night, and has his salary stopped for his
     pains--His severe illness--Second journey to Bath--Davidge, "Billy
     Coombes" and the Chest--Facetiousness of the aforesaid Billy  183

                             CHAPTER XIX.

                             1816 to 1817.

     He quits Sadler's Wells in consequence of a disagreement with
     the Proprietors--Lord Byron--Retirement of John Kemble--Immense
     success of Grimaldi in the provinces, and his great gains--A scene
     in a Barber's Shop                                            194

                              CHAPTER XX.


     More provincial success--Bologna and his economy--Comparative
     dearness of Welsh Rare-bits and Partridges--Remarkably odd modes
     of saving money                                               203

                             CHAPTER XXI.

                             1817 to 1818.

     Production of "Baron Munchausen"--Anecdote of Ellar the Harlequin,
     showing how he jumped through the Moon and put his hand
     out--Grimaldi becomes a Proprietor of Sadler's Wells--Anecdotes of
     the late Duke of York, Sir Godfrey Webster, a Gold Snuff-box, his
     late Majesty, Newcastle Salmon, and a Coal Mine               209

                             CHAPTER XXII.

                             1818 to 1823.

     Profit and Loss--Appearance of his Son at Covent Garden--His
     last engagement at Sadler's Wells--Accommodation of the Giants
     in the Dublin Pavilion--Alarming state of his health--His
     engagement at the Coburg--The liberality of Mr. Harris--Rapid
     decay of Grimaldi's constitution, his great sufferings, and last
     performance at Covent Garden--He visits Cheltenham and Birmingham
     with great success--Colonel Berkeley, Mr. Charles Kemble, and Mr.
     Bunn                                                          218

                            CHAPTER XXIII.

                             1823 to 1827.

     Grimaldi's great afflictions augmented by the dissipation and
     recklessness of his Son--Compelled to retire from Covent Garden
     Theatre, where he is succeeded by him--New Speculation at Sadler's
     Wells--Changes in the system of Management, and their results--Sir
     James Scarlett and a blushing Witness                         229

                             CHAPTER XXIV.


     Great kindness of Miss Kelly towards Grimaldi--His farewell
     benefit at Sadler's Wells; last appearance, and farewell
     address--He makes preparations for one more appearance at Covent
     Garden, but, in a conversation with Mr. Charles Kemble, meets with
     a disappointment--In consequence of Lord Segrave's benevolent
     interference, a benefit is arranged for him at Drury Lane--His
     last interview with Mr. Charles Kemble and Fawcett            236

                             CHAPTER XXV.

                             1828 to 1836.

     The farewell benefit at Drury Lane--Grimaldi's last appearance and
     parting address--The Drury Lane Theatrical Fund, and its prompt
     reply to his communication--Miserable career and death of his
     Son--His Wife dies, and he returns from Woolwich (whither he had
     previously removed) to London--His retirement                 244

     Concluding Chapter                                            253





     His Grandfather and Father--His Birth and first appearance at
        Drury Lane Theatre, and at Sadler's Wells--His Father's
        severity--Miss Farren--The Earl of Derby and the Wig--The
        Fortune-box and Charity's reward--His Father's pretended death,
        and the behaviour of himself and his brother thereupon.

The paternal grandfather of Joseph Grimaldi was well known, both to
the French and Italian public, as an eminent dancer, possessing a most
extraordinary degree of strength and agility,--qualities which, being
brought into full play by the constant exercise of his frame in his
professional duties, acquired for him the distinguishing appellation
of "Iron Legs." Dibdin, in his History of the Stage, relates several
anecdotes of his prowess in these respects, many of which are current
elsewhere, though the authority on which they rest would appear from
his grandson's testimony to be somewhat doubtful; the best known of
these, however, is perfectly true. Jumping extremely high one night
in some performance on the stage, possibly in a fit of enthusiasm
occasioned by the august presence of the Turkish Ambassador, who,
with his suite, occupied the stage-box, he actually broke one of the
chandeliers which in those times hung above the stage doors; and one
of the glass drops was struck with some violence against the eye or
countenance of the Turkish Ambassador aforesaid. The dignity of this
great personage being much affronted, a formal complaint was made to
the Court of France, who gravely commanded "Iron Legs" to apologize,
which "Iron Legs" did in due form, to the great amusement of himself,
and the court, and the public; and, in short, of everybody else but
the exalted gentleman whose person had been grievously outraged. The
mighty affair terminated in the appearance of a squib, which has been
thus translated:--

    Hail, Iron Legs! immortal pair,
      Agile, firm knit, and peerless,
    That skim the earth, or vault in air,
      Aspiring high and fearless.
    Glory of Paris! outdoing compeers,
      Brave pair! may nothing hurt ye;
    Scatter at will our chandeliers,
      And tweak the nose of Turkey.
    And should a too presumptuous foe
      But dare these shores to land on,
    His well-kicked men shall quickly know
      We've Iron Legs to stand on.

This circumstance occurred on the French stage. The first Grimaldi[1]
who appeared in England was the father of the subject of these
Memoirs, and the son of "Iron Legs," who, holding the appointment of
Dentist to Queen Charlotte, came to England in that capacity in 1760;
he was a native of Genoa, and long before his arrival in this country
had attained considerable distinction in his profession. We have not
many instances of the union of the two professions of dentist and
dancing-master; but Grimaldi, possessing a taste for both pursuits, and
a much higher relish for the latter than the former, obtained leave
to resign his situation about the Queen, soon after his arrival in
this country, and commenced giving lessons in dancing and fencing,
occasionally giving his pupils a taste of his quality in his old
capacity. In those days of minuets and cotillions, private dancing was
a much more laborious and serious affair than it is at present; and
the younger branches of the nobility and gentry kept Mr. Grimaldi in
pretty constant occupation. In many scattered notices of OUR Grimaldi's
life, it has been stated that the father lost his situation at court in
consequence of the rudeness of his behaviour, and some disrespect which
he had shown the King; an accusation which his son always took very
much to heart, and which the continual patronage of the King and Queen,
bestowed upon him publicly, on all possible occasions, sufficiently
proves to be unfounded.

His new career being highly successful, Mr. Grimaldi was appointed
ballet-master of old Drury Lane Theatre and Sadler's Wells, with which
he coupled the situation of primo buffo; in this double capacity he
became a very great favourite with the public, and their majesties,
who were nearly every week accustomed to command some pantomime of
which Grimaldi was the hero. He bore the reputation of being a very
honest man, and a very charitable one, never turning a deaf ear to the
entreaties of the distressed, but always willing, by every means in his
power, to relieve the numerous reduced and wretched persons who applied
to him for assistance. It may be added--and his son always mentioned
it with just pride--that he was never known to be inebriated: a rather
scarce virtue among players of later times, and one which men of far
higher rank in their profession would do well to profit by.

He appears to have been a very singular and eccentric man. It would be
difficult to account for the little traits of his character which are
developed in the earlier pages of this book, unless this circumstance
were borne in mind. He purchased a small quantity of ground at
Lambeth once, part of which was laid out as a garden; he entered into
possession of it in the very depth of a most inclement winter, but he
was so impatient to ascertain how this garden would look in full bloom,
that, finding it quite impossible to wait till the coming of spring and
summer gradually developed its beauties, he had it at once decorated
with an immense quantity of artificial flowers, and the branches of
all the trees bent beneath the weight of the most luxuriant foliage,
and the most abundant crops of fruit, all, it is needless to say,
artificial also.

A singular trait in this individual's character, was a vague and
profound dread of the 14th day of the month. At its approach he was
always nervous, disquieted, and anxious: directly it had passed he was
another man again, and invariably exclaimed, in his broken English,
"Ah! now I am safe for anoder month." If this circumstance were
unaccompanied by any singular coincidence it would be scarcely worth
mentioning; but it is remarkable that he actually died on the 14th day
of March; and that he was born, christened, and married on the 14th of
the month.

There are other anecdotes of the same kind told of Henri Quatre, and
others; this one is undoubtedly true, and it may be added to the list
of coincidences or presentiments, or by whatever name the reader
pleases to call them, as a veracious and well-authenticated instance.

These are not the only odd characteristics of the man. He was a most
morbidly sensitive and melancholy being, and entertained a horror of
death almost indescribable. He was in the habit of wandering about
churchyards and burying-places, for hours together, and would speculate
on the diseases of which the persons whose remains occupied the graves
he walked among, had died; figure their death-beds, and wonder how
many of them had been buried alive in a fit or a trance: a possibility
which he shuddered to think of, and which haunted him both through life
and at its close. Such an effect had this fear upon his mind, that he
left express directions in his will that, before his coffin should
be fastened down, his head should be severed from his body, and the
operation was actually performed in the presence of several persons.

It is a curious circumstance, that death, which always filled his
mind with the most gloomy and horrible reflections, and which in his
unoccupied moments can hardly be said to have been ever absent from his
thoughts, should have been chosen by him as the subject of one of his
most popular scenes in the pantomimes of the time. Among many others
of the same nature, he invented the well-known skeleton scene for the
clown, which was very popular in those days, and is still occasionally
represented. Whether it be true, that the hypochondriac is most prone
to laugh at the things which most annoy and terrify him in private, as
a man who believes in the appearance of spirits upon earth is always
the foremost to express his unbelief; or whether these gloomy ideas
haunted the unfortunate man's mind so much, that even his merriment
assumed a ghastly hue, and his comicality sought for grotesque objects
in the grave and the charnel-house, the fact is equally remarkable.

This was the same man who, in the time of Lord George Gordon's
riots, when people, for the purpose of protecting their houses
from the fury of the mob, inscribed upon their doors the words "No
Popery,"--actually, with the view of keeping in the right with all
parties, and preventing the possibility of offending any by his form of
worship, wrote up "No religion at all;" which announcement appeared in
large characters in front of his house, in Little Russell-street.[2]
The idea was perfectly successful; but whether from the humour of the
description, or because the rioters did not happen to go down that
particular street, we are unable to determine.

On the 18th of December, 1779, the year in which Garrick died, Joseph
Grimaldi, "Old Joe," was born, in Stanhope-street,[3] Clare-market; a
part of the town then as now, much frequented by theatrical people,
in consequence of its vicinity to the theatres. At the period of his
birth, his eccentric father was sixty-five years old, and twenty-five
months afterwards another son was born to him--Joseph's only brother.

The child did not remain very long in a state of helpless and
unprofitable infancy, for at the age of one year and eleven months
he was brought out by his father on the boards of Old Drury, where
he made his first bow and his first tumble.[4] The piece in which
his precocious powers were displayed was the well-known pantomime
of Robinson Crusoe, in which the father sustained the part of the
Shipwrecked Mariner, and the son performed that of the Little Clown.
The child's success was complete; he was instantly placed on the
establishment, accorded a magnificent weekly salary of fifteen
shillings, and every succeeding year was brought forward in some new
and prominent part. He became a favourite behind the curtain as well as
before it, being henceforth distinguished in the green-room as "Clever
little Joe;" and Joe he was called to the last day of his life.

In 1782, he first appeared at Sadler's Wells, in the arduous character
of a monkey; and here he was fortunate enough to excite as much
approbation, as he had previously elicited in the part of clown at
Drury Lane. He immediately became a member of the regular company at
this theatre, as he had done at the other; and here he remained (one
season only excepted) until the termination of his professional life,
forty-nine years afterwards.

Now that he had made, or rather that his father had made for him, two
engagements, by which he was bound to appear at two theatres on the
same evening, and at very nearly the same time, his labours began in
earnest. They would have been arduous for a man, much more so for a
child; and it will be obvious, that if at any one portion of his life
his gains were very great, the actual toil both of mind and body by
which they were purchased was at least equally so. The stage-stricken
young gentlemen who hang about Sadler's Wells, and Astley's, and the
Surrey, and private theatres of all kinds, and who long to embrace the
theatrical profession because it is "so easy," little dream of all the
anxieties and hardships, and privations and sorrows, which make the sum
of most actors' lives.

We have already remarked that the father of Grimaldi was an eccentric
man; he appears to have been peculiarly eccentric, and rather
unpleasantly so, in the correction of his son. The child being bred up
to play all kinds of fantastic tricks, was as much a clown, a monkey,
or anything else that was droll and ridiculous, off the stage, as on
it; and being incited thereto by the occupants of the green-room, used
to skip and tumble about as much for their diversion as that of the
public. All this was carefully concealed from the father, who, whenever
he did happen to observe any of the child's pranks, always administered
the same punishment--a sound thrashing; terminating in his being lifted
up by the hair of the head, and stuck in a corner, whence his father,
with a severe countenance and awful voice, would tell him "to venture
to move at his peril."

Venture to move, however, he did, for no sooner would the father
disappear, than all the cries and tears of the boy would disappear
too; and with many of those winks and grins which afterwards became so
popular, he would recommence his pantomime with greater vigour than
ever; indeed, nothing could ever stop him but the cry of "Joe! Joe!
here's your father!" upon which the boy would dart back into the old
corner, and begin crying again as if he had never left off.

This became quite a regular amusement in course of time, and whether
the father was coming or not, the caution used to be given for the mere
pleasure of seeing "Joe" run back to his corner; this "Joe" very soon
discovered, and often confounding the warning with the joke, received
more severe beatings than before, from him whom he very properly
describes in his manuscript as his "severe but excellent parent." On
one of these occasions, when he was dressed for his favourite part of
the little clown in Robinson Crusoe, with his face painted in exact
imitation of his father's, which appears to have been part of the fun
of the scene, the old gentleman brought him into the green-room, and
placing him in his usual solitary corner, gave him strict directions
not to stir an inch, on pain of being thrashed, and left him.

The Earl of Derby, who was at that time in the constant habit of
frequenting the green-room, happened to walk in at the moment, and
seeing a lonesome-looking little boy dressed and painted after a manner
very inconsistent with his solitary air, good-naturedly called him
towards him.

"Hollo! here, my boy, come here!" said the Earl.

Joe made a wonderful and astonishing face, but remained where he was.
The Earl laughed heartily, and looked round for an explanation.

"He dare not move!" explained Miss Farren, to whom his lordship was
then much attached, and whom he afterwards married; "his father will
beat him if he does."

"Indeed!" said his lordship. At which Joe, by way of confirmation, made
another face more extraordinary than his former contortions.

"I think," said his lordship, laughing again, "the boy is not quite so
much afraid of his father as you suppose. Come here, sir!"

With this, he held up half-a-crown, and the child, perfectly well
knowing the value of money, darted from his corner, seized it with
pantomimic suddenness, and was darting back again, when the Earl caught
him by the arm.

"Here, Joe!" said the Earl, "take off your wig and throw it in the
fire, and here's another half-crown for you."

No sooner said than done. Off came the wig,--into the fire it went; a
roar of laughter arose; the child capered about with a half-crown in
each hand; the Earl, alarmed for the consequences to the boy, busied
himself to extricate the wig with the tongs and poker; and the father,
in full dress for the Shipwrecked Mariner, rushed into the room at the
same moment. It was lucky for "Little Joe" that Lord Derby promptly
and humanely interfered, or it is exceedingly probable that his father
would have prevented any chance of _his_ being buried alive at all
events, by killing him outright.

As it was, the matter could not be compromised without his receiving
a smart beating, which made him cry very bitterly; and the tears
running down his face, which was painted "an inch thick," came to the
"complexion at last," in parts, and made him look as much like a little
clown as like a little human being, to neither of which characters he
bore the most distant resemblance. He was "called" almost immediately
afterwards, and the father being in a violent rage, had not noticed the
circumstance until the little object came on the stage, when a general
roar of laughter directed his attention to his grotesque countenance.
Becoming more violent than before, he fell upon him at once, and beat
him severely, and the child roared vociferously. This was all taken by
the audience as a most capital joke; shouts of laughter and peals of
applause shook the house; and the newspapers next morning declared,
that it was perfectly wonderful to see a mere child perform so
naturally, and highly creditable to his father's talents as a teacher!

This is no bad illustration of some of the miseries of a poor actor's
life. The jest on the lip, and the tear in the eye, the merriment on
the mouth, and the aching of the heart, have called down the same
shouts of laughter and peals of applause a hundred times. Characters
in a state of starvation are almost invariably laughed at upon the
stage--the audience have had their dinner.

The bitterest portion of the boy's punishment was the being deprived
of the five shillings, which the excellent parent put into his own
pocket, possibly because he received the child's salary also, and in
order that everything might be, as Goldsmith's Bear-leader has it, "in
a concatenation accordingly," The Earl gave him half-a-crown every time
he saw him afterwards though, and the child had good cause for regret
when his lordship married Miss Farren,[5] and left the green-room.

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_Joe's debut into the Pit, at Sadler's Wells._]

At Sadler's Wells he became a favourite almost as speedily as at Drury
Lane. King, the comedian,[6] who was principal proprietor of the
former theatre and acting manager of the latter, took a great deal
of notice of him, and occasionally gave the child a guinea to buy a
rocking-horse or a cart, or some toy that struck his fancy. During
the run of the first piece in which he played at Sadler's Wells, he
produced his first serious effect, which, but for the good fortune
which seems to have attended him in such cases, might have prevented
his subsequent appearance on any stage. He played a monkey, and had
to accompany the clown (his father) throughout the piece. In one of
the scenes, the clown used to lead him on by a chain attached to his
waist, and with this chain he would swing him round and round, at
arm's length, with the utmost velocity. One evening, when this feat
was in the act of performance, the chain broke, and he was hurled a
considerable distance into the pit, fortunately without sustaining the
slightest injury; for he was flung by a miracle into the very arms
of an old gentleman who was sitting gazing at the stage with intense

Among the many persons who in this early stage of his career behaved
with great kindness to him, were the famous rope-dancers, Mr. and Mrs.
Redigé, then called Le Petit Diable,[7] and La Belle Espagnole; who
often gave him a guinea to buy some childish luxury, which his father
invariably took away and deposited in a box, with his name written
outside, which he would lock very carefully, and then, giving the boy
the key, say, "Mind, Joe, ven I die, dat is your vortune." Eventually
he lost both the box and the fortune, as will hereafter appear.

As he had now nearly four months vacant out of every twelve, the run
of the Christmas pantomime at Drury Lane seldom exceeding a month, and
Sadler's Wells not opening until Easter, he was sent for that period
of the year to a boarding-school at Putney, kept by a Mr. Ford, of
whose kindness and goodness of heart to him on a later occasion of his
life, he spoke, when an old man, with the deepest gratitude. He fell in
here with many schoolfellows who afterwards became connected one way
or another with dramatic pursuits, among whom was Mr. Henry Harris, of
Covent Garden Theatre. We do not find that any of these schoolfellows
afterwards became pantomime actors; but recollecting the humour and
vivacity of the boy, the wonder to us is, that they were not all clowns
when they grew up. In the Christmas of 1782, he appeared in his
second character[8] at Drury Lane, called "Harlequin Junior; or, the
Magic Cestus," in which he represented a demon, sent by some opposing
magician to counteract the power of the harlequin. In this, as in his
preceding part, he was fortunate enough to meet with great applause;
and from this period his reputation was made, although it naturally
increased with his years, strength, and improvement.

In the following Easter[9] he repeated the monkey at Sadler's Wells
without the pit effect. As the piece was withdrawn at the end of a
month, and he had nothing to do for the remainder of the season, he
again repaired to Putney.

In Christmas 1783, he once more appeared at Drury Lane, in a pantomime
called "Hurly Burly."[10] In this piece he had to represent, not
only the old part of the monkey, but that of a cat besides; and in
sustaining the latter character he met with an accident, his speedy
recovery from which would almost induce one to believe that he had
so completely identified himself with the character as to have eight
additional chances for his life. The dress he wore was so clumsily
contrived, that when it was sewn upon him he could not see before
him; consequently, as he was running about the stage, he fell down a
trap-door, which had been left open to represent a well, and tumbled
down a distance of forty feet, thereby breaking his collar-bone,
and inflicting several contusions upon his body. He was immediately
conveyed home, and placed under the care of a surgeon, but he did not
recover soon enough to appear any more that season at Drury Lane,
although at Easter he performed at Sadler's Wells as usual.

In the summer of this year, he used to be allowed, as a mark of high
and special favour, to spend every alternate Sunday at the house
of his mother's father, "who," says Grimaldi himself, "resided in
Newton-street, Holborn, and was a carcase butcher, doing a prodigious
business; besides which, he kept the Bloomsbury slaughter-house, and,
at the time of his death, had done so for more than sixty years."
With this grandfather, "Joe" was a great favourite; and as he was
very much indulged and petted when he went to see him, he used to
look forward to every visit with great anxiety. His father, upon
his part, was most anxious that he should support the credit of the
family upon these occasions, and, after great deliberation, and much
consultation with tailors, the "little clown" was attired for one of
these Sunday excursions in the following style. On his back he wore a
green coat, embroidered with almost as many artificial flowers as his
father had put in the garden at Lambeth; beneath this there shone a
satin waistcoat of dazzling whiteness; and beneath that again were a
pair of green cloth breeches (the word existed in those days) richly
embroidered. His legs were fitted into white silk stockings, and his
feet into shoes with brilliant paste buckles, of which he also wore
another resplendent pair at his knees: he had a laced shirt, cravat,
and ruffles; a cocked-hat upon his head; a small watch set with
diamonds--theatrical, we suppose--in his fob; and a little cane in his
hand, which he switched to and fro as our clowns may do now.

Being thus thoroughly equipped for starting, he was taken in for his
father's inspection: the old gentleman was pleased to signify his
entire approbation with his appearance, and, after kissing him in the
moment of his gratification, demanded the key of the "fortune-box."
The key being got with some difficulty out of one of the pockets of
the green smalls, the bottom of which might be somewhere near the
buckles, the old gentleman took a guinea out of the box, and, putting
it into the boy's pocket, said, "Dere now, you are a gentleman, and
something more--you have got a guinea in your pocket." The box having
been carefully locked, and the key returned to the owner of the
"fortune," off he started, receiving strict injunctions to be home by
eight o'clock. The father would not allow anybody to attend him, on
the ground that he was a gentleman, and consequently perfectly able to
take care of himself; so away he went, to walk all the way from Little
Russel-street, Drury-lane, to Newton-street, Holborn.

The child's appearance in the street excited considerable curiosity,
as the appearance of any other child, alone, in such a costume, might
very probably have done; but he was a public character besides, and
the astonishment was proportionate. "Hollo!" cried one boy, "here's
'Little Joe!'" "Get along," said another, "it's the monkey." A third,
thought it was the "bear dressed for a dance," and the fourth suggested
"it might be the cat going out to a party," while the more sedate
passengers could not help laughing heartily, and saying how ridiculous
it was to trust such a child in the streets alone. However, he walked
on, with various singular grimaces, until he stopped to look at a
female of miserable appearance, who was reclining on the pavement, and
whose diseased and destitute aspect had already collected a crowd. The
boy stopped, like others, and hearing her tale of distress, became so
touched, that he thrust his hand into his pocket, and having at last
found the bottom of it, pulled out his guinea, which was the only coin
he had, and slipped it into her hand; then away he walked again with a
greater air than before.

The sight of the embroidered coat, and breeches, and the paste buckles,
and the satin waistcoat and cocked-hat, had astonished the crowd not
a little in the outset; but directly it was understood that the small
owner of these articles had given the woman a guinea, a great number of
people collected around him, and began shouting and staring by turns
most earnestly. The boy, not at all abashed, headed the crowd, and
walked on very deliberately, with a train a street or two long behind
him, until he fortunately encountered a friend of his father's, who no
sooner saw the concourse that attended him, than he took him in his
arms and carried him, despite a few kicks and struggles, in all his
brilliant attire, to his grandfather's house, where he spent the day
very much to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_Master Joey going to visit his Godpapa._]

When he got safely home at night, the father referred to his watch,
and finding that he had returned home punctual to the appointed time,
kissed him, extolled him for paying such strict attention to his
instructions, examined his dress, discovered satisfactorily that no
injury had been done to his clothes, and concluded by asking for the
key of the "fortune-box," and the guinea. The boy, at first, quite
forgot the morning adventure; but, after rummaging his pockets for
the guinea, and not finding it, he recollected what had occurred,
and, falling upon the knees of the knee-smalls, confessed it all, and
implored forgiveness.

The father was puzzled; he was always giving away money in charity
himself, and he could scarcely reprimand the child for doing the same.
He looked at him for some seconds with a perplexed countenance, and
then, contenting himself with simply saying, "I'll beat you," sent him
to bed.

Among the eccentricities of the old gentleman, one--certainly not his
most amiable one--was, that whatever he promised he performed; and
that when, as in this case, he promised to thrash the boy, he would
very coolly let the matter stand over for months, but never forget it
in the end. This was ingenious, inasmuch as it doubled, or trebled,
or quadrupled the punishment, giving the unhappy little victim all
the additional pain of anticipating it for a long time, with the
certainty of enduring it in the end. Four or five months after this
occurrence, and when the child had not given his father any new cause
of offence, he suddenly called him to him one day, and communicated
the intelligence that he was going to beat him forthwith. Hereupon the
boy began to cry most piteously, and faltered forth the inquiry, "Oh!
father, what for?"--"Remember the guinea!" said the father. And he gave
him a caning which he remembered to the last day of his life.

The family consisted at this time of the father, mother, Joe, his only
brother John Baptist, three or four female servants, and a man of
colour who acted as footman, and was dignified with the appellation of
"Black Sam."

The father was extremely hospitable, and fond of company; he rarely
dined alone, and on certain gala days, of which Christmas-eve
was one, had a very large party, upon which occasions his really
splendid service of plate, together with various costly articles of
_bijouterie_, were laid out for the admiration of the guests. Upon
one Christmas-eve, when the dining-parlour was decorated and prepared
with all due gorgeousness and splendour, the two boys, accompanied by
Black Sam, stole into it, and began to pass various encomiums on its
beautiful appearance.

"Ah!" said Sam, in reply to some remark of the brothers, "and when old
Massa die, all dese fine things vill be yours."

Both the boys were much struck with this remark, and especially John,
the younger, who, being extremely young, probably thought much less
about death than his father, and accordingly exclaimed, without the
least reserve or delicacy, that he should be exceedingly glad if all
these fine things were his.

Nothing more was said upon the subject. Black Sam went to his work,
the boys commenced a game of play, and nobody thought any more of
the matter except the father himself, who, passing the door of the
room at the moment the remarks were made, distinctly heard them. He
pondered over the matter for some days, and at length, with the view
of ascertaining the dispositions of his two sons, formed a singular
resolution, still connected with the topic ever upwards in his mind,
and determined to feign himself dead. He caused himself to be laid out
in the drawing-room, covered with a sheet, and had the room darkened,
the windows closed, and all the usual ceremonies which accompany death,
performed. All this being done, and the servants duly instructed, the
two boys were cautiously informed that their father had died suddenly,
and were at once hurried into the room where he lay, in order that he
might hear them give vent to their real feelings.[11]

When Joe was brought into the dark room on so short a notice, his
sensations were rather complicated, but they speedily resolved
themselves into a firm persuasion that his father was not dead. A
variety of causes led him to this conclusion, among which the most
prominent were, his having very recently seen his father in the best
health; and, besides several half-suppressed winks and blinks from
Black Sam, his observing, by looking closely at the sheet, that his
deceased parent still breathed. With very little hesitation the boy
perceived what line of conduct he ought to adopt, and at once bursting
into a roar of the most distracted grief, flung himself upon the floor,
and rolled about in a seeming transport of anguish.

John, not having seen so much of public life as his brother, was not
so cunning, and perceiving in his father's death nothing but a relief
from flogging and books (for both of which he had a great dislike), and
the immediate possession of all the plate in the dining room, skipped
about the room, indulging in various snatches of song, and, snapping
his fingers, declared that he was glad to hear it.

"O! you cruel boy," said Joe, in a passion of tears, "hadn't you any
love for your dear father? Oh! what would I give to see him alive

"Oh! never mind," replied the brother; "don't be such a fool as to cry;
we can have the cuckoo-clock all to ourselves now."

This was more than the deceased could bear. He jumped from the bier,
opened the shutters, threw off the sheet, and attacked his younger son
most unmercifully; while Joe, not knowing what might be his own fate,
ran and hid himself in the coal-cellar, where he was discovered some
four hours afterwards, by Black Sam, fast asleep, who carried him to
his father, who had been anxiously in search of him, and by whom he was
received with every demonstration of affection, as the son who truly
and sincerely loved him.

From this period, up to the year 1788, he continued regularly employed
upon the same salaries as he had originally received both at Drury Lane
and Sadler's Wells.


[1] Giuseppe Grimaldi was really "Iron Legs;" of the grandfather no
particulars are known. The father of our Joe was originally a pantomime
actor at the fairs in Italy and France, at the time these fairs
supplied the French Theatre with some of the finest dancers that have
conferred distinction on that stage. His first employment in England
was at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket, where the lighter kind of
ballet proving attractive, similar dances were introduced early in
the season 1758, 1759, on the boards of Drury Lane and Covent Garden
Theatres. At the former, under Garrick's management, a new pantomime
dance, entitled "The Millers," was performed for the first time,
October 12th, 1758; in which Signor Grimaldi, it was announced, made
his first appearance on the English Stage. A writer in the "London
Chronicle," in reference to this piece, observes, as regards the
debutant--"Grimaldi is a man of great strength and agility; he indeed
treads the air. If he has any fault, he is rather too comical; and from
some feats of his performing, which I have been a witness to, at the
King's Theatre, in the Haymarket, those spectators will see him, it is
my opinion, with most pleasure, who are least solicitous whether he
breaks his neck, or not." In reference to the dance of "The Millers,"
composed by Grimaldi, then deemed an innovation, he continues:--

"Some people hold dancing to be below the dignity of a regular theatre;
but I can by no means subscribe to their opinion, since one of the
principal ends of every theatre, is to delight; and everything that can
contribute to that purpose, under proper restrictions, has an undoubted
right to a place there. I shall not affect to show my learning, by
adding, the ancients not only admitted dancing, but thought it a
necessary ornament in the performance of the most celebrated tragedies.

"The French in this kind of merit, for many years carried all before
them; but of late the Italians seem to have the start of them; and
it must be allowed, the latter are much better actors, which, in the
comic dance that now almost everywhere prevails, is infinitely more
requisite, than those graceful postures and movements on which the
French dancers for the most part pique themselves; but in this case a
vast deal depends on the Maître de Ballet; and whoever composed 'The
Millers,' has, I think, shown himself a man of genius; the figure of
the contra-danse being pleasingly intricate, and the whole admirably
well adapted to the music. I cannot, however, help observing, he has
been indebted to Don Quixote; for when Signor Grimaldi comes in asleep
on his ass, it is stolen from under him in the same manner that Gines
de Passamont robs poor Sancho of his, and the same joy is testified by
both parties in the recovery of the beloved brute."

The Drury Lane playbill, October 10, 1761, announced as "not acted this
season," a Comedy called the Confederacy; Brass, Mr. King; Flippanta,
Mrs. Clive. At the end of Act II. an entertainment of Dancing, called
the Italian Gardener, by Signor Grimaldi, Miss Baker, &c. Garrick's
Pageant of the Coronation concluded the night's diversion.

From his first appearance in October, 1758, Grimaldi continued at
Drury Lane as Maître de Ballet, Primo Buffo, Clown, Pantaloon, or
Cherokee, or any part required in the ballet, till his death. The
dancers, it would appear, were not paid during the whole season, but
for certain periods; in the interim they were employed, under certain
restrictions, at other places of amusement. Those belonging to Drury
Lane, in Garrick's time, were in the summer months, and from Easter
to Michaelmas attached to Sadler's Wells; and in the bills which
announced the opening of that suburban theatre, at Easter, 1763 and
1764, Signor Grimaldi appears as Maître de Ballet, and chief dancer.
On May 1, in the latter year, Grimaldi, and an English dancer named
Aldridge, of considerable eminence in his profession, jointly had a
benefit; Shakspeare's "Tempest" was performed, as also the pantomime
of "Fortunatus," Harlequin by Signor Grimaldi. In the September of the
same year, at Sadler's Wells, the Signor had another benefit; the bill
of the evening is subjoined:


                     AT SADLER'S WELLS, ISLINGTON.

  On Wednesday, September 19, 1764, will be exhibited a Variety of New

  Dancing both serious and comic, viz.:--1. "The Miller's Dance," by
   Signor Duval, Signor Amoire, Signora Mercucius, Mrs. Preston, and
   others.--2. "The Shoemakers," by Signor Grimaldi, Signor Amoire,
   Miss Wilkinson, and others.--3. "The Country Wedding," by Signor
     Duval, Signor Amoire, Signora Mercucius, Miss Wilkinson, and
                     Signor Grimaldi, and others.
            And by particular desire, for that night only,
           A Double Hornpipe by Master Cape and Miss Taylor.
        Tumbling by Mr. Sturgess, Signor Pedro, and Mr. Garman.
          Singing by Mr. Prentice, Mr. Cooke, and Miss Brown.
               With a variety of Curious Performances by

                    THE VENETIAN AND HIS CHILDREN.

                     The Wire by Master Wilkinson.

The Musical Glasses by Miss Wilkinson, accompanied by Master Wilkinson.

The whole to conclude with a New Entertainment of Music and Dancing,

                         D O N  Q U I X O T E.

                       Harlequin      Mr. Banks.
     Don Quixote, Mr. Niepeker.                Sancho, Mr. Warner.
                    Columbine      Miss Wilkinson.
        The Paintings, Music, and Habits, are all entirely New.
             Pit and Boxes, 2s. 6d.      Gallery, 1s. 6d.

  [To begin exactly at Six.]                     [Vivant Rex et Regina.]

     Tickets and Places to be had of Signor Grimaldi, at the New
        Tunbridge Wells; and he begs the favour of those Ladies and
        Gentlemen, who have already taken Places, to send their
        servants by Half-an-Hour after Four o'clock.

At Drury Lane, December 26, in the same year, was performed the Tragedy
of "The Earl of Essex" at the end of Act IV. a Dance called "The Irish
Lilt," by Mr. Aldridge, Miss Baker, and others. After which, not
performed these three years, an Entertainment in Italian Grotesque
Characters, called "Queen Mab." Harlequin, by Mr. Rooker; Pantaloon,
by Signor Grimaldi; Silvio, by Mr. Baddeley; Puck, Master Cape; Queen
Mab, by Miss Ford; Columbine, by Miss Baker. The facetious Ned Rooker,
principal Harlequin at Drury Lane, was a painter of great excellence:
his paintings and drawings are still held in high repute, and his
theatrical scenery was not surpassed in his time; some of it was in use
till recently at the Haymarket Theatre.

Grimaldi continued at Sadler's Wells till the close of the season of
1767, and never afterwards was employed there. Signor Spinacuti and his
"funambulistical" monkey, so took the town by surprise in 1768, that
dancing at that theatre was altogether thrown into the back-ground.

[2] Henry Angelo, in his _Reminiscences_, gives a different version
of this story. "The father of Grimaldi, for many years the favourite
clown, was my dancing-master when I was a boy, and encouraged my
harlequin and monkey tricks; he related the anecdote to me, himself,
and I am therefore justified in repeating it. At the time of the riots,
in June, 1780, he resided in a front room, on the second floor in
Holborn, on the same side of the way near to Red Lion Square, when the
mob passing by the house, and Grimaldi being a foreigner, they thought
he must be a papist. On hearing he lived there, they all stopped,
and there was a general shouting; a cry of 'No Popery!' was raised,
and they were about to assail the house, when Grimaldi, who had been
listening all the time, and knew their motives, put his head out of the
window from the second floor, and making comical grimaces, called out,
'Genteelmen, in dis hose dere be no religion at all.' Laughing at their
mistake, the mob proceeded on, first giving him three huzzas, though
his house, unlike all the others, had not written on the door--'No

[3] Joe, from some erroneous information he had received, always
stated he was born in Stanhope-street, Clare-market, December 18,
1779; he mentioned this in his farewell address at Sadler's Wells,
and again subscribed that date at the end of his autobiographical
notes. He was in error: a reference to the baptismal register of St.
Clement's Danes, proved he was born on December 18, 1778, and that he
was baptized as the son of Joseph and Rebecca, on the 28th of the same
month and year. From this entry, it might be inferred that Joe was
legitimate; but we are sorry to be compelled to record that he was not
so. Rebecca was Mrs. Brooker, who had been from her infancy a dancer
at Drury Lane, and subsequently, at Sadler's Wells, played old women,
or anything to render herself generally useful. Mr. Hughes and others
who well remember her, describe her as having been a short, stout, very
dark woman. The same baptismal register from 1773 to 1788, has been
carefully inspected, but no mention occurs of Joe's only brother, John
Baptist, or of any other of the Grimaldi family.

[4] Joe's first appearance was at Sadler's Wells, not at Drury Lane;
the announcement bill for the opening on April 16, Easter Monday,
1781, of the former theatre, tells us of Dancing by Mr. Le Mercier,
Mr. Languish, Master and Miss Grimaldi, and Mrs. Sutton. Here we see
Joe, and his sister Mary, afterwards Mrs. Williamson, thrust forward
sufficiently early to earn their bread. Grimaldi, in his farewell
address, on his last appearance at Sadler's Wells, pathetically alluded
to this fact--"at a very early age, before that of three years, I was
introduced to the public, by my father, at this theatre."

That Joe did not play the "Little Clown" in Sheridan's Pantomime of
"Robinson Crusoe," is evident from the construction of the drama. On
January 29, 1781, after the "Winter's Tale," Florizel, Mr. Brereton;
Perdita, Mrs. Brereton, afterwards Mrs. J. P. Kemble; and Hermione,
Miss Farren; was performed, for the first time, "Robinson Crusoe;
or, Harlequin Friday." The bill of the night lets us know, that the
principal characters were by Mr. Wright, Mr. Grimaldi, Mr. Delpini,
Mr. Suett, Mr. Gaudry, and Miss Collett. This pantomime was performed
thirty-eight times that season. Grimaldi played Friday, not the
"Shipwrecked Mariner;" and the probability is, that young Joe made his
first appearance on the boards of Old Drury, in the Pantomime of 1782,
entitled "The Triumph of Mirth; or, Harlequin's Wedding," the principal
characters in which were by Wright, Grimaldi, and Delpini. There were
many minor persons of the drama.

[5] Miss Farren, previously to her marriage with the Earl of Derby,
took her final leave of the stage, as Lady Teazle, in "The School for
Scandal," April 8, 1797.

[6] Tom King was the manager of Sadler's Wells Theatre from Easter,
1772, till the close of the season, 1782; when, on Sheridan's
resignation as manager of Drury Lane, King succeeded him in September,
1782, and relinquished the management of Sadler's Wells to Wroughton,
whose term commenced at Easter, 1783. We have already explained that
Joe's father was not employed at Sadler's Wells in 1781; and yet,
perhaps in consideration of Master and Miss, Signor Grimaldi had a
benefit at that theatre, on Thursday, September 12, 1782; the usual
diversions were announced, but he did not take any part in the business
of the evening. The bills announced, "Tickets and Places to be had only
of Mr. Grimaldi, at No. 5, Princes Street, Drury Lane, and opposite
Sadler's Wells Gate." Signor Placido's night followed on Monday,
September 16, when, with other new amusements, was introduced "A new
Pantomime Dance, for the first time, called 'The Woodcutter; or, the
Lucky Mischance,' characters by Mr. Dupuis, then principal dancer at
the Wells, Mr. Meunier, Mr. Grimaldi, Mrs. Sutton, Signor Placido, and
the Little Devil, being their first Pantomimical performance in this
kingdom." This was the only appearance of Signor Grimaldi at the Wells
in 1782; for which, possibly, he was paid by Placido.

Young Joe's introduction to Sadler's Wells, in 1781, as also the
benefit here noticed, in 1782, were kindnesses probably rendered to
Grimaldi by Tom King, during the last two years of his management.

Reynolds, the dramatist, was wont to relate a droll story of the
Signor, which may not improperly be told here. "Walking one day in
Pall Mall with Tom King, we met the celebrated clown, Grimaldi, father
of Joe Grimaldi, approaching us with a face of the most ludicrous
astonishment and delight, when he exclaimed: 'Oh, vatt a clevare
fellow dat Sheridan is!--shall I tell you?--oui--yes; I vill, bien
donc. I could no nevare see him at de theatre, so je vais chez lui,
to his house in Hertford-street, muffled in de great coat, and I say,
'Domestique!--you hear?' 'Yes, Sare.' 'Vell, den, tell your master, dat
Mistare--you know, de Mayor of Stafford be below.' Domestique fly; and
on de instant I vas shown into de drawing-room. In von more minuet,
Sheridan leave his dinner party, enter de room hastily--stop suddenly,
and say, 'How dare you, Grim, play me such a trick?' Then putting
himself into von grand passion, he go on: 'Go, Sare!--get out of my
house!' 'Begar,' say I, placing my back against de door, 'not till you
pay me my forty pounds;' and then I point to de pen, ink, and paper, on
von small tables in de corner, and say, 'Dere, write me de check, and
de Mayor shall go vitement--entendez-vous? If not, morbleu! I shall--'

"'Oh!' interrupted dis clevare man, 'if I must, Grim, I must,' and as
if he vare très-pressé--vary hurry, he write de draft, and pushing
it into my hand, he squeeze it, and I do push it into my pocket. Eh
bien!--vell, den, I do make haste to de banquier, and giving it to de
clerks, I say, vitement, 'four tens, if you please, Sare. 'Four tens!'
he say, with much surprise; 'de draft be only for four pounds!' O, vat
a clevare fellow dat Sheridan is! Vell, den, I say, 'If you please,
Sare, donnez-moi donc, dose four pounds.' And den he say, 'Call again
to-morrow.' Next day, I meet de manager in de street, and I say,
'Mistare Sheridan! have you forget?' and den he laugh, and say, 'Vy,
Grim, I recollected afterwards--I left out de 0!' O, vat a clevare
fellow dat Sheridan is!'"

Again meeting Grimaldi, some months afterwards, Reynolds asked him,
whether the manager had found means to pay him the amount of his
dishonoured cheque. He replied in the affirmative; but with a look and
tone of voice so altered, it seemed as if the successful adroitness of
Sheridan's ruse contre ruse, had afforded him more enjoyment, and given
him a higher opinion of the manager as "a clevare fellow," than the
mere passing business affair of paying him his demand.

[7] Paulo Redigé, "Le Petit Diable," made his first appearance at
Sadler's Wells with Placide, the "French Voltigeur," under the
Italianised name of Signor Placido, on Easter Monday, 1781, on the
same night with young Joe. La Belle Espagnole, whom Angelo describes
as "a very beautiful woman," made her first appearance at the same
theatre, on April 1, 1785; having, as the bills expressed it, "been
celebrated at Paris all the winter, for her very elegant and wonderful
performances." She soon after became the wife of the "Little Devil."
Paulo, the late clown, was their son, and might be almost said to have
been born within the walls of that theatre. The manager's attentions
to this beautiful Spaniard were the cause of much jealousy to Mrs.
Wroughton, and some ludicrous stories are still afloat.

[8] The pantomime of "Harlequin Junior; or, the Magic Cestus," was
performed for the first time, on Wednesday, January 7, 1784, not
Christmas, 1782; and was highly successful, from the excellence of the
characters, the beautiful scenery, and the new deceptions--Grimaldi,
as Clown, obtruding into a hot-house, became suddenly transformed into
a fine large water-melon; in another scene, changed into a goose, his
affected airs in displaying his tail in the peacock style, set the
house in roars of laughter. The change of the Bank of Paris into an
air-balloon, was a trick that obtained a full plaudit. So great, in
fact, was the attraction, it was not only frequently performed during
the remainder of the season, 1783-4, but also in that of 1784-5, being
revived on September 28, 1784, and repeated in lieu of a new pantomime,
on December 27, in that year, and it ran its full complement of
representations as a new piece.

[9] We do not find that at Easter, 1784, any piece was withdrawn in
which a monkey was likely to be introduced. The Sieur Scaglioni's troop
of Dancing Dogs, and their sagacious manoeuvres, made up speedily
for the losses of the previous season. The pantomime was entitled
"The Enchanted Wood; or, Harlequin's Vagaries;" a dance called the
"Fricassee;" and the whole concluded with the "Death and Revival of
Harlequin," which "ran" the whole of the season.

[10] A pantomimical olio, entitled "The Caldron," in which Grimaldi
played Clown, was produced at Drury-lane, September 27, 1785, performed
a few nights, and withdrawn. The pantomime of "Hurly Burly; or, the
Fairy of the Wells," was produced for the first time, on December 26,
in that year, and not at Christmas, 1783. Grimaldi played "Clodpate,"
the Clown, in this piece: it was very successful.

[11] A similar scene has been frequently represented on the stage. It
is probable that the father derived the notion from some play in which
he had acted, or which he had seen performed.


1788 to 1794.

     The Father's real Death--His Will, and failure of the
        Executor--Generous conduct of Grimaldi's Schoolmaster, and of
        Mr. Wroughton, the Comedian--Kindness of Sheridan--Grimaldi's
        industry and amusements--Fly catching--Expedition in search of
        the "Dartford Blues"--Mrs. Jordan--Adventure on Clapham Common:
        the piece of Tin--His first love and its consequences.

It has been stated in several publications that Grimaldi's father
died in 1787. It would appear from several passages in the memoranda
dictated by his son, that he expired on the 14th of March, 1788, of
dropsy, in the seventy-eighth year[12] of his age, and that he was
interred in the burial-ground attached to Exmouth-street Chapel; a spot
of ground in which, if it bore any resemblance at that time to its
present condition, he could have had very little room to walk about
and meditate when alive. He left a will, by which he directed all his
effects and jewels to be sold by public auction, and the proceeds to be
added to his funded property, which exceeded 15,000_l._; the whole of
the gross amount, he directed should be divided equally between the two
brothers as they respectively attained their majority. Mr. King,[13] to
whom allusion has already been made, was appointed co-executor with
a Mr. Joseph Hopwood, a lace manufacturer in Long-acre, at that time
supposed to possess not only an excellent business, but independent
property to a considerable amount besides. Shortly after they entered
upon their office, in consequence of Mr. King declining to act, the
whole of the estate fell to the management of Mr. Hopwood, who,
employing the whole of the brothers' capital in his trade, became a
bankrupt within a year, fled from England, and was never heard of
afterwards. By this unfortunate and unforeseen event, the brothers lost
the whole of their fortune, and were thrown upon their own resources
and exertions for the means of subsistence.

It is very creditable to all parties, and while it speaks highly for
the kind feeling of the friends of the widow, and her two sons, bears
high testimony to their conduct and behaviour, that no sooner was the
failure of the executor known than offers of assistance were heaped
upon them from all quarters. Mr. Ford, the Putney schoolmaster, offered
at once to receive Joseph into his school and to adopt him as his
own son; this offer being declined by his mother, Mr. Sheridan, who
was then proprietor of Drury Lane Theatre, raised the boy's salary,
unasked, to one pound per week, and permitted his mother, who was and
had been from her infancy a dancer at that establishment, to accept a
similar engagement at Sadler's Wells, which was, in fact, equivalent to
a double salary, both theatres being open together for a considerable
period of the year.

At Sadler's Wells, where Joseph appeared as usual in 1788,[14] shortly
after his father's death, they were not so liberal, nor was the aspect
of things so pleasing, his salary of fifteen shillings a-week being
very unceremoniously cut down to three, and his mother being politely
informed, upon her remonstrating, that if the alteration did not suit
her, he was at perfect liberty to transfer his valuable services to any
other house. Small as the pittance was, they could not afford to refuse
it; and at that salary he remained at Sadler's Wells for three years,
occasionally superintending the property-room, sometimes assisting in
the carpenter's, and sometimes in the painter's, and, in fact, lending
a hand wherever it was most needed.

When the defalcation of the executor took place, the family were
compelled to give up their comfortable establishment, and to seek for
lodgings of an inferior description. His mother knowing a Mr. and Mrs.
Bailey, who then resided in Great Wild-street, and who let lodgings,
applied to them, and there they lived, in three rooms on the first
floor, for several years. The brother could not be prevailed upon to
accept any regular engagement, for he thought and dreamt of nothing
but going to sea, and evinced the utmost detestation of the stage.
Sometimes, when boys were wanted in the play at Drury Lane, he was
sent for, and attended, for which he received a shilling per night;
but so great was his unwillingness and evident dissatisfaction on
such occasions, that Mr. Wroughton, the comedian, who, by purchasing
the property of Mr. King, became about this period[15] proprietor of
Sadler's Wells, stepped forward in the boy's behalf, and obtained for
him a situation on board an East-Indiaman, which then lay in the river,
and was about to sail almost immediately.

John was delighted when the prospect of realizing his ardent wishes
opened upon him so suddenly; but his raptures were diminished by the
discovery that an outfit was indispensable, and that it would cost
upwards of fifty pounds: a sum which, it is scarcely necessary to say,
his friends, in their reduced position, could not command. But the same
kind-hearted gentleman removed this obstacle, and with a generosity
and readiness which enhanced the value of the gift an hundredfold,
advanced, without security or obligation, the whole sum required,
merely saying, "Mind, John, when you come to be a captain you must pay
it me back again."

There is no difficulty in providing the necessaries for a voyage
to any part of the world when you have provided the first and most
important--money. In two days, John took his leave of his mother and
brother, and with his outfit, or kit, was safely deposited on board the
vessel in which a berth had been procured for him; but the boy, who was
of a rash, hasty, and inconsiderate temper, finding, on going on board,
that a delay of ten days would take place before the ship sailed, and
that a king's ship, which lay near her, was just then preparing to drop
down to Gravesend with the tide, actually swam from his own ship to
the other, entered himself as a seaman or cabin-boy on board the latter
in some feigned name,--what it was his friends never heard,--and so
sailed immediately, leaving every article of his outfit, down to the
commonest necessary of wearing apparel, on board the East-Indiaman,
on the books of which he had been entered through the kindness of Mr.
Wroughton. He disappeared in 1789, and he was not heard of, or from, or
seen, for fourteen years afterwards.

At this period of his life, Joseph was far from idle; he had to walk
from Drury Lane to Sadler's Wells every morning to attend rehearsals,
which then began at ten o'clock; to be back at Drury Lane to dinner
by two, or go without it; to be back again at Sadler's Wells in the
evening, in time for the commencement of the performances at six
o'clock; to go through uninterrupted labour from that time until eleven
o'clock, or later; and then to walk home again, repeatedly after having
changed his dress twenty times in the course of the night.

Occasionally, when the performances at Sadler's Wells were prolonged so
that the curtain fell very nearly at the same time as the concluding
piece at Drury Lane began, he was so pressed for time as to be
compelled to dart out of the former theatre at his utmost speed, and
never to stop until he reached his dressing-room at the latter. That he
could use his legs to pretty good advantage at this period of his life,
two anecdotes will sufficiently show.

On one occasion, when by unforeseen circumstances he was detained at
Sadler's Wells beyond the usual time, he and Mr. Fairbrother (the
father of the well-known theatrical printer), who, like himself, was
engaged at both theatres, and had agreed to accompany him that evening,
started hand-in-hand from Sadler's Wells theatre, and ran to the
stage-door of Drury Lane in eight minutes by the stop watches which
they carried. Grimaldi adds, that this was considered a great feat at
the time; and we should think it was.

Another night, during the time when the Drury Lane company were playing
at the Italian Opera-house in the Haymarket, in consequence of the old
theatre being pulled down and a new one built, Mr. Fairbrother and
himself, again put to their utmost speed by lack of time, ran from
Sadler's Wells to the Opera-house in fourteen minutes, meeting with no
other interruption by the way than one which occurred at the corner
of Lincoln's Inn Fields, where they unfortunately ran against and
overturned an infirm old lady, without having time enough to pick her
up again. After Grimaldi's business at the Opera-house was over, (he
had merely to walk in the procession in Cymon,) he ran back alone to
Sadler's Wells in thirteen minutes, and arrived just in time to dress
for Clown in the concluding pantomime.

For some years his life went on quietly enough, possessing very little
of anecdote or interest beyond his steady and certain rise in his
profession and in the estimation of the public, which, although very
important to him from the money he afterwards gained by it, and to the
public from the amusement which his peculiar excellence yielded them
for so many years, offers no material for our present purpose. This
gradual progress in the good opinion of the town exercised a material
influence on his receipts; for, in 1794, his salary at Drury Lane
was trebled, while his salary at Sadler's Wells had risen from three
shillings per week to four pounds. He lodged in Great Wild-street with
his mother all this time: their landlord had died, and the widow's
daughter, from accompanying Mrs. Grimaldi[16] to Sadler's Wells theatre,
had formed an acquaintance with, and married Mr. Robert Fairbrother, of
that establishment, and Drury Lane, upon which Mrs. Bailey, the widow,
took Mr. Fairbrother into partnership as a furrier, in which pursuit,
by industry and perseverance, he became eminently successful.

This circumstance would be scarcely worth mentioning, but that it shows
the industry and perseverance of Grimaldi, and the ease with which, by
the exercise of those qualities, a very young person may overcome all
the disadvantages and temptations incidental to the most precarious
walk of a precarious pursuit, and become a useful and respectable
member of society. He earned many a guinea from Mr. Fairbrother by
working at his trade, and availing himself of his instruction in his
leisure hours; and when he could do nothing in that way, he would go to
Newton-street, and assist his uncle and cousin, the carcase butchers,
for nothing; such was his unconquerable antipathy to being idle. He
does not inform us, whether it required a practical knowledge of
trade, to display that skill and address with which, in his subsequent
prosperity, he would diminish the joints of his customers as a baker,
or increase the weight of their meat as a butcher, but we hope, for the
credit of trade, that his morals in this respect were wholly imaginary.

These were his moments of occupation, but he contrived to find moments
of amusement besides, which were devoted to the breeding of pigeons,
and collecting of insects, which latter amusement he pursued with such
success, as to form a cabinet containing no fewer than 4000 specimens
of flies, "collected," he says, "at the expense of a great deal of
time, a great deal of money, and a great deal of vast and actual
labour,"--for all of which, no doubt, the entomologist will deem him
sufficiently rewarded. He appears in old age to have entertained a
peculiar relish for the recollection of these pursuits, and calls to
mind a part of Surrey where there was a very famous fly, and a part
of Kent where there was another famous fly; one of these was called
the Camberwell Beauty (which he adds was very ugly), and another, the
Dartford Blue, by which Dartford Blue he seems to have set great store;
and which were pursued and caught in the manner following, in June,
1794, when they regularly make their first appearance for the season.

Being engaged nightly at Sadler's Wells, he was obliged to wait
till he had finished his business upon the stage: then he returned
home, had supper, and shortly after midnight started off to walk to
Dartford, fifteen miles from town. Here he arrived about five o'clock
in the morning, and calling upon a friend of the name of Brooks, who
lived in the neighbourhood, and who was already stirring, he rested,
breakfasted, and sallied forth into the fields. His search was not very
profitable, however, for after some hours he only succeeded in bagging,
or bottling, one "Dartford Blue," with which he returned to his friend
perfectly satisfied. At one o'clock he bade his friend good by, walked
back to town, reached London by five, washed, took tea, and hurried to
Sadler's Wells. No time was to be lost--the fact of the appearance of
the "Dartford Blues" having been thoroughly established--in securing
more specimens; so on the same night, directly the pantomime was over,
and supper over, too, off he walked down to Dartford again, found the
friend up again, took a hasty breakfast again, and resumed his search
again. Meeting with better sport, and capturing no fewer than four
dozen Dartford Blues, he hurried back to the friend's; set them--an
important process, which consists in placing the insects in the
position in which their natural beauty can be best displayed--started
off with the Dartford Blues in his pocket for London once more, reached
home by four o'clock in the afternoon, washed, and took a hasty meal,
and then went to the theatre for the evening's performance.

As not half the necessary number of Blues had been taken, he had
decided upon another visit to Dartford that same night, and was
consequently much pleased to find that, from some unforeseen
circumstance, the pantomime was to be played first. By this means he
was enabled to leave London at nine o'clock, to reach Dartford at one,
to find a bed and supper ready, to meet a kind reception from his
friend, and finally to turn into bed, a little tired with the two days'
exertions. The next day was Sunday, so that he could indulge himself
without being obliged to return to town, and in the morning he caught
more flies than he wanted; so the rest of the day was devoted to quiet
sociality. He went to bed at ten o'clock, rose early next morning,
walked comfortably to town, and at noon was perfect in his part, at the
rehearsal on the stage at Drury Lane theatre.

It is probable that by such means as these, united to temperance and
sobriety, Grimaldi acquired many important bodily requisites for the
perfection which he afterwards attained. But his love of entomology,
or exercise, was not the only inducement in the case of the Dartford
Blues; he had, he says, another strong motive, and this was, the having
promised a little collection of insects to "one of the most charming
women of her age,"--the lamented Mrs. Jordan, at that time a member of
the Drury Lane company.

Upon one occasion he had held under his arm, during a morning
rehearsal, a box containing some specimens of flies: Mrs. Jordan was
much interested to know what could possibly be in the box that Grimaldi
carried about with him with so much care, and would not lose sight
of for an instant, and in reply to her inquiry whether it contained
anything pretty, he replied by exhibiting the flies.

He does not say whether these particular flies, which Mrs. Jordan
admired, were Dartford Blues, or not; but he gives us to understand,
that his skill in preserving and arranging insects was really very
great; that all this trouble and fatigue were undertaken in a spirit
of respectful gallantry to the most winning person of her time; and
that, having requested permission previously, he presented two frames
of insects to Mrs. Jordan, on the first day of the new season, and
immediately after she had finished the rehearsal of Rosalind in "As you
like it;" that Mrs. Jordan was delighted, that he was at least equally
so, that she took the frames away in her carriage, and warmed his heart
by telling him that his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence considered
the flies equal, if not superior, to any of the kind he had ever seen.

His only other companion in these trips, besides his Dartford friend,
was Robert Gomery, or "friend Bob," as he was called by his intimates,
at that time an actor at Sadler's Wells,[17] and for many years
afterwards a public favourite at the various minor theatres of the
metropolis; who is now, or was lately, enjoying a handsome independence
at Bath. With this friend he had a little adventure, which it was his
habit to relate with great glee.

One day, he had been fly-hunting with his friend, from early morning
until night, thinking of nothing but flies, until at length their
thoughts naturally turning to something more substantial, they halted
for refreshment.

"Bob," said Grimaldi, "I am very hungry."

"So am I," said Bob.

"There is a public-house," said Grimaldi.

"It is _just_ the very thing," observed the other.

It was a very neat public-house, and would have answered the purpose
admirably, but Grimaldi having no money, and very much doubting whether
his friend had either, did not respond to the sentiment quite so
cordially as he might have done.

"We had better go in," said the friend; "it is getting late--_you_

"No, no! you."

"I would in a minute," said his friend, "but I have not got any money."

Grimaldi thrust his hand into his right pocket with one of his queerest
faces, then into his left, then into his coat pockets, then into his
waistcoat, and finally took off his hat and looked into that; but there
was no money anywhere.

They still walked on towards the public-house, meditating with rueful
countenances, when Grimaldi spying something lying at the foot of a
tree, picked it up, and suddenly exclaimed, with a variety of winks and
nods, "Here's a sixpence."

The hungry friend's eyes brightened, but they quickly resumed their
gloomy expression as he rejoined, "It's a piece of tin!"

Grimaldi winked again, rubbed the sixpence or the piece of tin very
hard, and declared, putting it between his teeth by way of test, that
it was as good a sixpence as he would wish to see.

"I don't think it," said the friend, shaking his head.

"I'll tell you what," said Grimaldi, "we'll go to the public-house, and
ask the landlord whether it's a good one, or not. They always know."

To this the friend assented, and they hurried on, disputing all the way
whether it was really a sixpence, or not; a discovery which could not
be made at that time, when the currency was defaced and worn nearly
plain, with the ease with which it could be made at present.

The publican, a fat, jolly fellow, was standing at his door, talking to
a friend, and the house looked so uncommonly comfortable, that Gomery
whispered as they approached, that perhaps it might be best to have
some bread and cheese first, and ask about the sixpence afterwards.

Grimaldi nodded his entire assent, and they went in and ordered some
bread and cheese, and beer. Having taken the edge off their hunger,
they tossed up a farthing which Grimaldi happened to find in the corner
of some theretofore undiscovered pocket, to determine who should
present the "sixpence." The chance falling on himself, he walked up to
the bar, and with a very lofty air, and laying the questionable metal
down with a dignity quite his own, requested the landlord to take the
bill out of that.

"Just right, sir," said the landlord, looking at the strange face that
his customer assumed, and not at the sixpence.

"It's right, sir, is it?" asked Grimaldi, sternly.

"Quite," answered the landlord; "thank ye, gentlemen." And with this he
slipped the--whatever it was--into his pocket.

Gomery looked at Grimaldi, and Grimaldi, with a look and air which
baffle all description, walked out of the house, followed by his

"I never knew anything so lucky," he said, as they walked home to
supper--"it was quite a Providence--that sixpence."

"A piece of tin, you mean," said Gomery.

Which of the two it was, is uncertain, but Grimaldi often patronised
the same house afterwards, and as he never heard anything more about
the matter, he felt quite convinced that it was a real good sixpence.

In the early part of the year 1794, they quitted their lodgings in
Great Wild-street, and took a six-roomed house, in Penton-place,
Pentonville, with a garden attached; a part of this they let off to a
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, who then belonged to Sadler's Wells; and in this
manner they lived for three years, during the whole of which period
his salaries steadily rose in amount, and he began to consider himself
quite independent.

At Easter,[18] Sadler's Wells opened as usual, and making a great hit
in a new part, his fame rapidly increased. At this time he found a new
acquaintance, which exercised a material influence upon his comfort and
happiness for many years. The intimacy commenced thus:--

When there was a rehearsal at Sadler's Wells, his mother, who was
engaged there as well as himself, was in the habit of remaining at the
theatre all day, taking her meals in her dressing-room, and occupying
herself with needlework. This she had done to avoid the long walk
in the middle of the day from Sadler's Wells to Great Wild-street,
and back again almost directly. It became a habit; and when they had
removed to Penton-place, and consequently were so much nearer the
theatre that it was no longer necessary, it still continued. Mr.
Hughes, who had now become principal proprietor of the theatre, and
who lived in the house attached to it, had several children, the
eldest of whom was Miss Maria Hughes, a young lady of considerable
accomplishments, who had always been much attached to Grimaldi's
mother, and who embraced every opportunity of being in her society.
Knowing the hours at which she was in the dressing-room during the day,
Miss Hughes was in the habit of taking her work, and sitting with her
from three or four o'clock until six, when the other female performers
beginning to arrive, she retired. Grimaldi was generally at the theatre
between four and five, always taking tea with his mother at the
last-named hour, and sitting with her until the arrival of the ladies
broke up the little party. In this way an intimacy arose between Miss
Hughes and himself, which ultimately ripened into feelings of a warmer

The day after he made his great hit in the new piece, he went as
usual to tea in the dressing-room, where Mrs. Lewis, their lodger,
who was the wardrobe-keeper of the theatre, happening to be present,
overwhelmed him with compliments on his great success. Miss Hughes was
there too, but she said nothing for a long time, and Grimaldi, who
would rather have heard her speak for a minute than Mrs. Lewis for an
hour, listened as patiently as he could to the encomiums which the good
woman lavished upon him. At length she stopped, as the best talkers
must now and then, to take breath, and then Miss Hughes, looking up,
said, with some hesitation, that she thought Mr. Grimaldi had played
the part uncommonly well; so well that she was certain there was no one
who could have done it at all like him.

Now, before he went into the room, he had turned the matter over in his
mind, and had come to the conclusion that if Miss Hughes praised his
acting he would reply by some neatly turned compliment to her, which
might afford some hint of the state of his feelings; and with this view
he had considered of a good many very smart ones, but somehow or other,
the young lady no sooner opened her lips in speech, than Grimaldi
opened his in admiration, and out flew all the compliments in empty
breath, without producing the slightest sound. He turned very red,
looked very funny, and felt very foolish. At length he made an awkward
bow, and turned to leave the room.

It was six o'clock, and the lady performers just then came in. As
he was always somewhat of a favourite among them, a few of the more
volatile and giddy--for there are a few such, in almost all companies,
theatrical or otherwise,--began first to praise his acting, and then to
rally him upon another subject.

"Now Joe has become such a favourite," said one, "he ought to look out
for a sweetheart."

Here Joe just glanced at Miss Hughes, and turned a deeper red than ever.

"Certainly he ought," said another. "Will any of us do Joe?"

Upon this Joe exhibited fresh symptoms of being uncomfortable, which
were hailed by a general burst of laughter.

"I'll tell you what, ladies," said Mrs. Lewis, "if I'm not greatly
mistaken, Joe has got a sweetheart already."

Another lady said, that to her certain knowledge he had two, and
another that he had three, and so on: he standing among them the whole
time, with his eyes fixed upon the ground, vexed to death to think that
Miss Hughes should hear these libels, and frightened out of his wits
lest she should be disposed to believe them.

At length he made his escape, and being induced, by the conversation
which had just passed, to ponder upon the matter, he was soon led
to the conclusion that the fair daughter of Mr. Hughes had made an
impression on his heart, and that, unless he could marry her, he
would marry nobody, and must be for ever miserable, with other like
deductions which young men are in the habit of making from similar
premises. The discovery was not unattended by many misgivings. The
great difference of station, then existing between them, appeared
to interpose an almost insurmountable obstacle in the way of their
marriage; and, further, he had no reason to suppose that the young
lady entertained for him any other sentiments than those with which
she might be naturally disposed to regard the son of a friend whom she
had known so long. These considerations rendered him as unhappy as the
most passionate lover could desire to be--he ate little, drank little,
slept less, lost his spirits; and, in short, exhibited a great variety
of symptoms sufficiently dangerous in any case, but particularly so in
one, where the patient had mainly to depend upon the preservation of
his powers of fun and comicality for a distant chance of the fulfilment
of his hopes.


[12] The newspapers, in March, 1788, noticed the death, on the 14th
of that month, of "Mr. Joseph Grimaldi, many years Ballet-Master at
Drury Lane Theatre, aged 72." Decastro, who notwithstanding his love of
gossip, and occasionally, by a too frequent repetition, perverting the
vein of his story, was no mean authority as regarded the old players,
most of whom are now--

    Down among the dead men!

He used to assert that old Grimaldi died in Lambeth, at his apartments,
up a court within a door or two of the Pheasant public-house in
Stangate-street. Reference to the burial-register of St. Mary's,
Lambeth, elicited nothing as to his interment there; but on searching
the register belonging to Northampton Chapel, in Exmouth-street, we
found it there recorded "March 23, 1788, Mr. Joseph Grimaldi, from
Lambeth, aged 75." It will be observed, there is a difference of three
years in the age, as stated in the daily papers of the time, and in the
register of his burial. No stone, or other memorial, marks the spot
where his ashes lie.

The court in which Grimaldi died, in poverty, not wealth, was, till the
last destruction of Astley's Amphitheatre, under the tenancy of Ducrow,
called Theatre-court, or place; but the fire consumed the greater part,
and its site is now occupied by that portion of Batty's Amphitheatre
which is in the Palace New-road.

[13] The original Editor has been misinformed. We are sorry to have
to record that Signor Grimaldi had nothing to bequeath to any one; he
made no will; and a search at the Prerogative Office, Doctor's Commons,
for the two years following his death, is evidence of this, no probate
having issued thence.

[14] The season of 1788, at Sadler's Wells, was one of no common
interest. On Whitsun Monday, May 12, in a musical piece, entitled
"Saint Monday; or, a Cure for a Scold," Mr. Braham, then Master
Abrahams, made his first appearance. He is named in the bills of August
18, but appears soon after to have left Sadler's Wells, and on the 30th
of the same month had a benefit at the Royalty Theatre, Well-street,
near Goodman's-fields, as "Master Braham," when the celebrated tenor
singer, Leoni, his master, announced that as the last time of his
performing on the stage. Miss Shields, who appeared at Sadler's
Wells in the same piece on Whitsun Monday, became towards the end of
May, Mrs. Leffler. Two Frenchmen, named Duranie and Bois-Maison, as
pantomimists, eclipsed all their predecessors on that stage. Boyce, a
distinguished engraver, was the Harlequin, and by those who remember
him, he is eulogised as the most finished actor of the motley hero,
either in his own day, or since. On the benefit night of Joseph Dortor,
Clown to the rope, and Richer, the rope dancer, Miss Richer made her
first appearance on two slack wires, passing through a hoop, with a
pyramid of glasses on her head; and Master Richer performed on the
tight rope, with a skipping rope. Joseph Dortor, among other almost
incredible feats, drank a glass of wine backwards from the stage-floor,
beating a drum at the same time. Lawrence, the father of Joe's friend,
Richard Lawrence, threw a summerset over twelve men's heads, and Paul
Redigé, "The Little Devil," on October 1, threw a summerset over two
men on horseback, the riders having each a lighted candle on his head.
Dubois, as Clown to the Pantomime, had no superior in his time; and
the troop of Voltigeurs were pre-eminent for their agility, skill, and

[15] Further inquiries enable us to prove that King transferred his
right in Sadler's Wells to Messrs. Wroughton and Serjeant, at the close
of the year 1788.

[16] Mrs. Brooker.

[17] "Friend Bob" was not employed at Sadler's Wells till three years
later than 1794, when he personated, on May 29, 1797, one of the Spahis
in Tom Dibdin's "Sadak and Kalasrade."

[18] On Easter Monday, 1796, Sadler's Wells opened with Tom Dibdin's
Serio-Comic Entertainment called "The Talisman of Orosmanes; or,
Harlequin made Happy." Grimaldi enacted the part of the Hag Morad; the
principal characters in the action being King, Dibdin, the author, his
second season; Dubois, Master Grimaldi, as he was then designated in
the bills, and Mrs. Wybrow. Having in such company made a hit in this
part, his fame rapidly increased; and in the new harlequinade burletta,
entitled "Venus's Girdle; or, the World Bewitched," produced on the
1st of August in that year, Master Grimaldi played the part of the Old
Woman; his mother, Mrs. Brooker, Lady Simpleton. These entertainments
ran through the whole season.

It may not be out of place to notice that Philip Astley this year
announced as attractions at his Amphitheatre of Arts, Westminster
Bridge, "The most splendid Variety of Novel Amusements ever produced,
and which have been composed and arranged by the following celebrated

"Mons. Mercerot, principal Pastoral Dancer, Ballet Master, and
Pantomime Composer.

"Mons. Laurent, Performer of Action, Pierrot, and Pantomime Composer.

"Mr. West, Ballet Master, principal Buffo Dancer, Clown, and Pantomime

"Mr. Lascelles Williamson, Ballet Master, principal Comic Dancer,
Harlequin, and Pantomime Composer. The above are the only Pupils of the
late celebrated Signor Grimaldi.

The bills added, "Messrs. Astleys most respectfully beg leave to
remark, that there never was at any Public Place of Entertainment so
many Ballet Masters, Pantomime Composers, &c., engaged at one and the
same time, possessing abilities equal to the above performers; their
exertions joined to those of Messrs. Astleys, must enable them to give
a greater variety than any other Public Place of Summer Amusement."

Williamson was not only the pupil of Signor Grimaldi, but was also his
son-in-law, having married Joe's sister, who was announced with him in
the Sadler's Wells bills in 1781, as Miss Grimaldi; she was engaged
with her husband as Mrs. Williamson at Astley's, and appears among
the Wizards and Witches, in the Dramatis Personæ of the Grand Comic
Pantomime, called "The Magician of the Rocks; or, Harlequin in London,"
produced there on Whitsun Monday. "Clown, Mr. West, after the manner of
his old Master, Grimaldi."


1794 to 1797.

     Grimaldi falls in love--His success--He meets with an accident,
        which brings the Reader acquainted with that invaluable
        specific, "Grimaldi's Embrocation"--He rises gradually in his
        Profession--The Pentonville Gang of Burglars.

It is scarcely to be supposed that such a sudden and complete change in
the merry genius of the theatre could escape the observation of those
around him, far less of his mother, who, as he had been her constant
and affectionate companion, observed him with anxious solicitude.
Various hints and soundings, and indirect inquiries, were the
consequence, but they were far from eliciting the truth; he was ill,
fatigued by constant exertion in difficult parts, and that was all that
his friends could gather from him.

There was another circumstance which puzzled the lady mother more than
all. This was, that he never visited the dressing-room, whither he had
been accustomed regularly to resort; and that he either took tea before
he went to the theatre, or not at all. The truth was, that he was quite
unable to endure the facetiousness of the ladies in the presence of
Miss Hughes; the more so, because he fancied that his annoyance seemed
to afford that young lady considerable amusement; and rather than find
this the case, he determined to relinquish the pleasure of her society.

So matters stood for some weeks, when one night, having occasion during
the performances to repair to the wardrobe for some articles of dress,
he hastily entered, and instead of discovering his old friend, Mrs.
Lewis, found himself confronted and alone with Mr. Hughes's daughter.

In these cases, if the lady exhibit emotion, the gentleman gains
courage; but Miss Hughes exhibited no emotion, merely saying,

"Why, Joe, I have not seen you for a fortnight; where _have_ you been
hiding! How is it that I never see you at tea now?"

The tone of kindness in which this was said, somewhat re-assured the
lover, so he made an effort to speak, and got as far as, "I'm not

"Not well!" said the young lady. And she said it so kindly that all
poor Joe's emotion returned; and being really ill and weak, and very
sensitive withal, he made an effort or two to look cheerful, and burst
into tears.

The young lady looked at him for a moment or two quite surprised, and
then said, in a tone of earnest commiseration, "I see that you are not
well, and that you are very much changed: what is the matter with you?
Pray tell me."

At this inquiry, the young man, who seems to have inherited all the
sensitiveness of his father's character without its worst points, threw
himself into a chair, and cried like a child, vainly endeavouring to
stammer out a few words, which were wholly unintelligible. Miss Hughes
gently endeavoured to soothe him, and at that moment, Mrs. Lewis,
suddenly entering the room, surprised them in this very sentimental
situation; upon which Grimaldi, thinking he must have made himself very
ridiculous, jumped up and ran away.

Mrs. Lewis being older in years, and in such matters too, than either
Miss Hughes or her devoted admirer, kept her own counsel, thought over
what she had seen, and discreetly presented herself before Grimaldi
next day, when, after a sleepless night, he was sauntering moodily
about the garden, aggravating all the doubts, and diminishing all the
hopes that involved themselves with the object nearest his heart.

"Dear me, Joe!" exclaimed the old lady, "how wretched you do look! Why,
what is the matter?"

He tried an excuse or two, but reposing great trust in the sagacity and
sincerity of his questioner, and sadly wanting a confidante, he first
solemnly bound her to secrecy, and then told his tale. Mrs. Lewis at
once took upon herself the office of a go-between; undertook to sound
Miss Hughes without delay; and counselled Grimaldi to prepare a letter
containing a full statement of his feelings, which, if the conversation
between herself and Miss Hughes on that very evening were propitious,
should be delivered on the following.

Accordingly, he devoted all his leisure time that day to the
composition of various epistles, and the spoiling of many sheets of
paper, with the view to setting down his feelings in the very best and
appropriate terms he could possibly employ. One complete letter was
finished at last, although even that was not half powerful enough; and
going to the theatre, and carefully avoiding the old dressing-room, he
went through his part with greater _éclat_ than before. Having hastily
changed his dress, he hurried to Mrs. Lewis's room, where that good
lady at once detailed all the circumstances that had occurred since the
morning, which she thought conclusive, but which the lover feared were

It seems that Mrs. Lewis had embraced the first opportunity of being
left alone with Miss Hughes to return to the old subject of Joe's
looking very ill; to which Miss Hughes replied, that he certainly did,
and said it, too, according to the matured opinion of Mrs. Lewis, as if
she had been longing to introduce the subject without exactly knowing

"What can be the matter with him?" said Miss Hughes.

"I have found it out, Miss," said Mrs. Lewis; "Joe is in love."

"In love!" said Miss Hughes.

"Over head and ears," replied Mrs. Lewis; "I never saw any poor dear
young man in such a state."

"Who is the lady?" asked Miss Hughes, inspecting some object that lay
near her with every appearance of unconcern.

"That's a secret," said Mrs. Lewis; "I know her name; she does not
know he is in love with her yet; but I am going to give her a letter
to-morrow night, telling her all about it."

"I should like to know her name," said Miss Hughes.

"Why," returned Mrs. Lewis, "you see I promised Joe not to tell; but as
you are so very anxious to know, I can let you into the secret without
breaking my word: you shall see the direction of the letter."

Miss Hughes was quite delighted with the idea, and left the room, after
making an appointment for the ensuing evening for that purpose.

Such was Mrs. Lewis's tale in brief; after hearing which, Grimaldi,
who, not being so well acquainted with the subject, was not so
sanguine, went home to bed, but not to sleep: his thoughts wavering
between his friend's communication, and the love-letter, of which he
could not help thinking that he could still polish up a sentence or two
with considerable advantage.

The next morning was one of great agitation, and when Mrs. Lewis posted
off to the theatre with the important epistle in her pocket, the lover
fell into such a tremor of anxiety and suspense, that he was quite
unconscious how the day passed: he could stay away from the theatre no
longer than five o'clock, at which time he hurried down to ascertain
the fate of his letter.

"I have not been able to give it yet," said Mrs. Lewis, softly, "but do
you just go to the dressing-room; she is there:--only look at her, and
guess whether she cares for you or not."

He went, and saw Miss Hughes looking very pale, with traces of tears
on her face. Six o'clock soon came, and the young lady, hurrying to
the room of the confidante, eagerly inquired whether she had got Joe's

"I have," said Mrs. Lewis, looking very sly.

"Oh! pray let me see it," said Miss Hughes: "I am so anxious to know
who the lady is, and so desirous that Joe should be happy."

"Why, upon my word," said Mrs. Lewis, "I think I should be doing wrong
if I showed it to you, unless Joe said I might."

"Wrong!" echoed the young lady; "oh! if you only knew how much I have
suffered since last night!" Here she paused for some moments, and
added, with some violence of tone and manner, that if that suspense
lasted much longer, she should go mad.

"Hey-day! Miss Maria," exclaimed Mrs. Lewis,--"mad! Why, surely you
cannot have been so imprudent as to have formed an attachment to Joe
yourself? But you shall see the letter, as you wish it; there is only
one thing you must promise, and that is, to plead Joe's cause with the
lady herself."

Miss Hughes hesitated, faltered, and at length said, she would try.

At this point of the discourse, Mrs. Lewis produced the laboured
composition, and placed it in her hand.

Miss Hughes raised the letter, glanced at the direction, saw her own
name written as plainly as the nervous fingers of its agitated writer
would permit, let it fall to the ground, and sunk into the arms of Mrs.

While this scene was acting in a private room, Grimaldi was acting
upon the public stage; and conscious that his hopes depended upon his
exertions, he did not suffer his anxieties, great as they were, to
interfere with his performance. Towards the conclusion of the first
piece he heard somebody enter Mr. Hughes's box--and there sat the
object of all his anxiety.

"She has got the letter," thought the trembling actor; "she must have
decided by this time."

He would have given all he possessed to have known what had
passed,--when the business of the stage calling him to the front,
exactly facing the box in which she sat, their eyes met, and she nodded
and smiled. This was not the first time that Miss Hughes had nodded and
smiled to Joseph Grimaldi, but it threw him into a state of confusion
and agitation which at once deprived him of all consciousness of what
he was about. He never heard that he did not finish the scene in which
he was engaged at the moment, and he always supposed, in consequence,
that he did so: but how, or in what manner, he never could imagine, not
having the slightest recollection of anything that passed.

It is singular enough that throughout the whole of Grimaldi's
existence, which was a chequered one enough, even at those years when
other children are kept in the cradle or the nursery, there always
seemed some odd connexion between his good and bad fortune; no great
pleasure appeared to come to him unaccompanied by some accident or
mischance: he mentions the fact more than once, and lays great stress
upon it.

On this very night, a heavy platform, on which ten men were standing,
broke down, and fell upon him as he stood underneath; a severe
contusion of the shoulder was the consequence, and he was carried
home immediately. Remedies were applied without loss of time, but he
suffered intense pain all night; it gradually abated towards morning,
in consequence of the inestimable virtues of a certain embrocation,
which he always kept ready in case of such accidents, and which was
prepared from a recipe left him by his father, which, having performed
a great many cures, he afterwards gave to one Mr. Chamberlaine,
a surgeon of Clerkenwell, who christened it, in acknowledgment,
"Grimaldi's Embrocation," and used it in his general practice some
years with perfect success. Before he was carried from the theatre,
however, he had had the presence of mind to beg Mrs. Lewis to be called
to him, and to request her to communicate the nature of the accident to
Miss Hughes (who had quitted the box before it occurred) as cautiously
as she could. This, Mrs. Lewis, who appears to have been admirably
qualified for the task in which she was engaged, and to possess quite a
diplomatic relish for negotiation, undertook and performed.

There is no need to lengthen this part of his history, which, however
interesting, and most honourably so, to the old man himself, who in
the last days of his life looked back with undiminished interest and
affection to the early time when he first became acquainted with the
excellence of a lady, to whom he was tenderly attached, and whose
affection he never forgot or trifled with, would possess but few
attractions for the general reader. The main result is quickly told:
he was lying on a sofa next day, with his arm in a sling, when Miss
Hughes visited him, and did not affect to disguise her solicitude for
his recovery; and, in short, by returning his affection, made him the
happiest man, or rather boy (for he was not yet quite sixteen), in the

There was only one thing that damped his joy, and this was, Miss
Hughes's firm and steadfast refusal to continue any correspondence or
communication with him unknown to her parents. Nor is it unnatural
that this announcement should have occasioned him some uneasiness,
when their relative situations in life are taken into consideration;
Mr. Hughes being a man of considerable property, and Grimaldi entirely
dependent on his own exertions for support.

He made use of every persuasion in his power to induce the young
lady to alter her determination; he failed to effect anything beyond
the compromise, that for the present she would only mention their
attachment to her mother, upon whose kindness and secrecy she was
certain she could rely. This was done, and Mrs. Hughes, finding
that her daughter's happiness depended on her decision, offered no
opposition, merely remarking that their extreme youth forbade all idea
of marriage at that time. Three years elapsed before Mr. Hughes was
made acquainted with the secret.

After this, his time passed away happily enough; he saw Miss Hughes
every evening in his mother's presence, and every Sunday she spent
with them. All this time his reputation was rapidly increasing; almost
every new part he played rendered him a greater favourite than before,
and altogether his lot in life was a cheerful and contented one.

At this period, the only inhabitants of the house in Penton-place were
Grimaldi and his mother, and Mrs. Lewis, of whom honourable mention has
been so often made in the present chapter, together with her husband;
there was no servant in the house; a girl that had lived with them some
time having gone into the country to see her friends, and no other
having been engaged in her absence.

One night in the middle of August, a "night rehearsal" was called at
Sadler's Wells. For the information of those who are unacquainted with
theatrical matters, it may be well to state that a "night rehearsal"
takes place after the other performances of the evening are over, and
the public have left the house. Being an inconvenient and fatiguing
ceremony, it is never resorted to, but when some very heavy piece (that
is, one on a very extensive scale) is to be produced on a short notice.
In this instance a new piece was to be played on the following Monday,
of which the performers knew very little, and there being no time to
lose, a "night rehearsal" was called, the natural consequence of which
would be the detention of the company at the theatre until four o'clock
in the morning at least. Mr. Lewis, having notice of the rehearsal in
common with the other performers, locked up their dwelling-house, being
the last person who left it; brought the street-door key with him, and
handed it over to Mr. Grimaldi.

But after the performances were over, which was shortly after eleven
o'clock, when the curtain was raised, and the performers, assembling
on the stage, prepared to commence the rehearsal, the stage-manager
addressed the company in the following unexpected and very agreeable

"Ladies and Gentlemen, as the new drama will not be produced, as
was originally intended, on Monday next, but is deferred until that
night week, we shall not be compelled to trouble you with a rehearsal

This notification occasioned a very quick dispersion of the performers,
who, very unexpectedly released from an onerous attendance, hurried
home. Grimaldi, having something to do at the theatre which would
occupy him about ten minutes, sent his mother and his friend Mrs.
Lewis forward to prepare supper, and followed them shortly afterwards,
accompanied by Mr. Lewis and two other performers attached to the

When the females reached home they found to their great surprise that
the garden gate was open.

"Dear me!" said Mrs. Grimaldi,[19] "how careless this is of Mr. Lewis!"

It was, undoubtedly; for at that time a most notorious gang of thieves
infested that suburb of London;--it was a suburb then. Several of the
boldest had been hung, and others transported, but these punishments
had no effect upon their more lucky companions, who committed their
depredations with, if possible, increased hardihood and daring.

They were not a little surprised, after crossing the garden, to find
that not only was the garden-gate open, but that the street-door was
unlocked; and pushing it gently open, they observed the reflection of a
light at the end of the passage, upon which of course they both cried
"Thieves!" and screamed for help. A man who was employed at Sadler's
Wells happened to be passing at the time, and tendered his assistance.

"Do you wait here with Mrs. Lewis a minute," said Grimaldi's mother,
"and I will go into the house; don't mind me unless you hear me scream;
then come to my assistance." So saying, she courageously entered the
passage, descended the stairs, entered the kitchen, hastily struck a
light, and on lighting a candle and looking round, discovered that the
place had been plundered of almost everything it contained.

She was running up stairs to communicate their loss, when Grimaldi
and his friends arrived. Hearing what had occurred, they entered the
house in a body, and proceeded to search it, narrowly, thinking it
probable that some of the thieves, surprised upon the premises, might
be still lurking there. In they rushed, the party augmented by the
arrival of two watchmen,--chosen, as the majority of that fine body
of men invariably were, with a specific view to their old age and
infirmities,--and began their inspection: the women screaming and
crying, and the men all shouting together.

The house was in a state of great disorder and confusion, but no
thieves were to be seen; the cupboards were forced, the drawers had
been broken open, and every article they contained had been removed,
with the solitary exception of a small net shawl, which had been worked
by Miss Hughes, and given by her to her chosen mother-in-law.

Leaving the others to search the house, and the females to bewail their
loss, which was really a very severe one, Grimaldi beckoned a Mr. King,
one of the persons who had accompanied him home from the theatre, and
suggested in a whisper that they should search the garden together.

King readily complied, and he having armed himself with a heavy stick,
and Grimaldi with an old broadsword which he had hastily snatched
from its peg on the first alarm, they crept cautiously into the back
garden, which was separated from those of the houses on either side by
a wall from three to four feet high, and from a very extensive piece of
pasture-land beyond it at the bottom, by another wall two or three feet

It was a dark night, and they groped about the garden for some time,
but found nobody. Grimaldi sprang upon the higher wall, and looking
over the lower one, descried a man in the act of jumping from the wall
of the next garden. Upon seeing another figure the robber paused, and
taking it for that of his comrade in the darkness of the night, cried
softly, "Hush! hush! is that you?"

"Yes!" replied Grimaldi, getting as near him as he could. Seeing that
the man, recognising the voice as a strange one, was about to jump
down, he dealt him a heavy blow with the broadsword. He yelled out
loudly, and stopping for an instant, as if in extreme pain, dropped to
the ground, limped off a few paces, and was lost in the darkness.

Grimaldi shouted to his friend to follow him through the back gate,
but seeing, from his station on the wall, that he and the thief took
directly opposite courses, he leapt into the field, and set off at full
speed. He was stopped in the very outset of his career, by tumbling
over a cow, which was lying on the ground, in which involuntary
pantomimic feat he would most probably have cut his own head off with
the weapon he carried, if his theatrical practice as a fencer had not
taught him to carry edge tools with caution.

The companion having taken a little run by himself, soon returned out
of breath, to say he had seen nobody, and they re-entered the house,
where by the light of the candle it was seen that the sword was covered
with blood.

The constable of the night had arrived by this time; and a couple of
watchmen bearing large lanterns, to show the thieves they were coming,
issued forth into the field, in hopes of taking the offenders alive
or dead--they would have preferred the latter;--and of recovering any
of the stolen property that might be scattered about. The direction
which the wounded man had taken having been pointed out, they began to
explore, by very slow degrees.

Bustling about, striving to raise the spirits of the party, and
beginning to stow away in their proper places such articles as the
thieves had condescended to leave, one of the first things Grimaldi
chanced to light upon was Miss Hughes's shawl.

"Maria's gift, at all events," he said, taking it up and giving it a
slight wave in his hand; when out fell a lozenge-box upon the floor,
much more heavily than a lozenge-box with any ordinary lozenges inside
would do.

Upon this the mother clapped her hands, and set up a louder scream than
she had given vent to when she found the house robbed.

"My money! my money!" she screamed.

"It can't be helped, my dear madam," said everybody; "think of poor
Mrs. Lewis; she is quite as badly off."

"Oh, I don't mean that," was the reply. "Oh! thank Heaven, they didn't
find my money." So with many half-frantic exclamations, she picked up
the lozenge-box, and there, sure enough, were thirty-seven guineas, (it
was completely full,) which had lain securely concealed beneath the

They sat down to supper; but although Mrs. Grimaldi[20] now cheered up
wonderfully, and quite rallied her friend upon her low spirits, poor
Mrs. Lewis, who had found no lozenge-box, was quite unable to overcome
her loss. Supper over, and some hot potations, which the fright had
rendered absolutely necessary, despatched, the friends departed,
and the usual inmates of the house were left alone to make such
preparations for passing the night as they deemed fitting.

They were ludicrous enough: upon comparing notes, it was found that
nobody could sleep alone, upon which they came to the conclusion,
that they had better all sleep in the same room. For this purpose, a
mattress was dragged into the front parlour, upon which the two females
bestowed themselves without undressing; Lewis sat in an easy chair; and
Grimaldi, having loaded two pistols, wiped the sanguinary stains from
the broadsword, and laid it by his side, drew another easy-chair near
the door, and there mounted guard.

All had been quiet for some time, and they were falling asleep, when
they were startled by a long loud knocking at the back-door, which led
into the garden. They all started up and gazed upon each other, with
looks of considerable dismay. The females would have screamed, only
they were too frightened; and the men would have laughed it off, but
they were quite unable from the same cause to muster the faintest smile.

Grimaldi was the first to recover the sudden shock, which the supposed
return of the robbers had communicated to the party, and turning to
Lewis, said, with one of his oddest looks,

"You had better go to the back-door, old boy, and see who it is."

Mr. Lewis did not appear quite satisfied upon the point. He reflected
for a short time, and looking with a very blank face at his wife, said
he was much obliged to Mr. Grimaldi, but he would rather not.

In this dilemma, it was arranged that Lewis should wait in the passage,
and that Grimaldi should creep softly up stairs, and reconnoitre the
enemy from the window above--a plan which Lewis thought much more
feasible, and which was at once put in execution.

While these deliberations were going forward, the knocking had
continued without cessation, and it now began to assume a subdued and
confidential tone, which, instead of subduing their alarm, rather
tended to increase it. Armed with the two pistols and the broadsword,
and looking much more like Robinson Crusoe than either the "Shipwrecked
Mariner," or the "Little Clown," Grimaldi thrust his head out of
the window, and hailed the people below, in a voice which, between
agitation and a desire to communicate to the neighbours the full
benefit of the discussion, was something akin to that in which his
well-known cry of "Here we are!" afterwards acquired so much popularity.

It was between two and three o'clock in the morning,--the day was
breaking, and the light increasing fast. He could descry two men at the
door heavily laden with something, but with what he could not discern.
All he could see was, that it was not fire-arms, and that was a comfort.

"Hollo! hollo!" he shouted out of the window, displaying the brace of
pistols and the broadsword to the best advantage; "what's the matter
there?" Here he coughed very fiercely, and again demanded what was the

"Why, sir," replied one of the men, looking up, and holding on his hat
as he did so, "we thought we should never wake ye."

"And what did you want to wake me for?" was the natural inquiry.

"Why, the property!" replied both the men at the same time.

"The what?" inquired the master of the house, taking in the broadsword,
and putting the pistols on the window-sill.

"The property!" replied the two men, pettishly. "Here we have been
a-looking over the field all this time, and have found the property."

No further conversation was necessary. The door was opened, and the
watchmen entered bearing two large sacks, which they had stumbled on
in the field, and the females, falling on their knees before them,
began dragging forth their contents in an agony of impatience. After
a lengthened examination, it was found that the sacks contained every
article that had been taken away; that not one, however trifling, was
missing; and that they had come into possession, besides, of a complete
and extensive assortment of house-breaking tools, including centre-bit,
picklock, keys, screws, dark lanterns, a file, and a crow-bar. The
watchmen were dismissed with ten shillings, and as many thousand
thanks, and the party breakfasted in a much more comfortable manner
than that in which they had supped on the previous night.

The conversation naturally turned upon the robbery, and various
conjectures and surmises were hazarded relative to the persons by whom
it had been committed. It appeared perfectly evident that the thieves,
whoever they were, must have obtained information of the expected
night rehearsal at Sadler's Wells; it was equally clear that if the
rehearsal had not been most fortunately postponed, they would not only
have lost everything they possessed, but the thieves would have got
clear off with the booty into the bargain. It was worthy of remark,
that the house had never been attempted when the servant girl was at
home, and the females were half inclined to attach suspicion to her;
but on reflection it seemed unlikely that she was implicated in the
transaction, for she was the daughter of very respectable parents, not
to mention her uncle having held the situation of master-tailor to the
theatre for forty years, and her aunt having served the family in the
same capacity as the girl herself. In addition to these considerations,
she had been well brought up, had always appeared strictly honest,
and had already lived in the house for nearly four years. Upon these
grounds it was resolved that the girl could not be a party to the

But whoever committed the burglary, it was necessary that the house
should be well secured, with which view a carpenter was sent for, and
a great supply of extra bolts and bars were placed upon the different
doors. Notwithstanding these precautions, however, and the additional
security which they necessarily afforded, the females were very nervous
for a long time, and the falling of a plate, or slamming of a door, or
a loud ringing at the bell, or above all, the twopenny postman after
dark, was sufficient to throw them into the extremity of terror. Being
determined not to leave the house, in future, without somebody to take
care of it while the family were at the theatre, they resolved, after
many _pros_ and _cons_, to engage for the purpose, a very trustworthy
man, who was employed as a watchman to the theatre, but was not
required to attend until eleven o'clock at night, by which time, at all
events, some of the family would be able to reach home. The man was
hired, and commenced his watch, on the night after the robbery; and
there he continued to remain, every evening, until the return of the
servant girl from the country released him from further attendance.

The agitation and surprise of this girl were very great, when she
was informed of what had occurred, but they did not appear to be the
emotions of a guilty person. All agreed that there was no good ground
of suspicion against her. She was asked if she would be afraid to be
left alone in the house after what had taken place, when she declared
that she was not afraid of any thieves, and that she would willingly
sit up alone, as she had been accustomed to do; merely stipulating that
she should be allowed to light a fire in Lewis's sitting room, for the
purpose of inducing robbers to suppose that the family were at home,
and that she should be provided with a large rattle, with which to
alarm the neighbours at any appearance of danger. Both requests were
complied with; and as an additional precaution, the street watchman,
whose box was within a few yards of the door, was fee'd to be on the
alert, to keep a sharp eye upon the house, and to attend to any summons
from within, whenever it might be made.

The thieves, whoever they were, were very wanton fellows, and added
outrage to plunder, for with the most heartless cruelty, and an absence
of all taste for scientific pursuits, which would stigmatise them at
once as occupying a very low grade in their profession, had broken open
a closet in Grimaldi's room, containing his chosen cabinet of insects,
including Dartford Blues, which, either because it was not portable, or
because they thought it of no value, attaching no importance to flies,
they most recklessly and barbarously destroyed. With the exception of
one small box, they utterly annihilated the whole collection, including
even his models, drawings, and colours: it would have taken years to
replace them, if the collector had been most indefatigable; and it
would have cost at least 200_l._ to have replaced them by purchase.
This unforeseen calamity put a total stop to the fly-catching, so
collecting together his nets, and cases, and the only box which was not
destroyed, he gave them all away next day to an acquaintance who had
a taste for such things, and never more employed himself in a similar

After the lapse of a short time, the arrangements and precautions
infused renewed confidence into the inmates of the house, and they
began to feel more secure than they had yet done since the robbery; a
fortnight had now passed over, and they strengthened themselves with
the reflection, that the thieves having met with so disagreeable a
reception, one of them at least having been severely wounded, were very
unlikely to renew the attempt.

But well founded as these conjectures might seem, they reckoned without
their host, for on the third night, after the girl's return, they made
a fresh attack, for which we will reserve a fresh chapter.


[19] Mrs. Brooker.

[20] Mrs. Brooker.


1797 to 1798.

     The thieves make a second attempt; alarmed by their perseverance,
        Grimaldi repairs to Hatton Garden--Interview with Mr. Trott;
        ingenious device of that gentleman and its result on the third
        visit of the Burglars--Comparative attractions of Pantomime
        and Spectacle--Trip to Gravesend and Chatham--Disagreeable
        recognition of a good-humoured friend, and an agreeable mode of
        journeying recommended to all Travellers.

On the third night,--the previous two having passed in perfect quiet
and security,--the servant girl was at work in the kitchen, when she
fancied she heard a sound as if some person were attempting to force
open the garden-door. She thought it merely the effect of fancy at
first, but the noise continuing, she went softly up stairs into the
passage, and on looking towards the door, saw that the latch was moved
up and down several times by a hand outside, while some person pushed
violently against the door itself.

The poor girl being very much frightened, her first impulse was
to scream violently; but so far were her cries from deterring the
persons outside from persisting in their attempt, that they only
seemed to press it with redoubled vigour. Indeed, so violent were
their exertions, as if irritated by the noise the girl made, that
the door was very nearly forced from its position, in which state it
was discovered on a subsequent inspection. If it had not been proof
against the attacks of the thieves, the girl would assuredly have been
murdered. Recovering her presence of mind, however, on finding that
they could not force an entrance, she ran to the street-door, flung it
open, and had immediate recourse to the rattle, which she wielded with
such hearty good will, that the watchman and half the neighbourhood
were quickly on the spot. Immediate search was made for the robbers
in the rear of the house, but they had thought it prudent to escape

Upon the return of the family, all their old apprehensions were
revived, and their former fears were increased tenfold by the bold and
daring nature of this second attempt. Watch was kept all night, the
watchers starting at the slightest sound; rest was out of the question,
and nothing but dismay and confusion prevailed.

The next morning it was resolved that the house should be fortified
with additional strength, and that when these precautions had been
taken, Grimaldi should repair to the police-office of the district,
state his case to the sitting magistrate, and claim the assistance of
the constituted authorities.

Having had bars of iron, and plates of iron, and patent locks, and
a variety of ingenious defences affixed to the interior of the
garden-door, which, when fastened with all these appurtenances,
appeared nearly impregnable, Grimaldi accordingly walked down to Hatton
Garden, with the view of backing the locks and bolts with the aid of
the executive.

There was at that time a very shrewd, knowing officer attached to
that establishment, whose name was Trott. This Trott was occasionally
employed to assist the regular constables at the theatre, when they
expected a great house; and Grimaldi no sooner stepped into the
passage, than walking up to him, Trott accosted him with:--

"How do, master?"

"How do _you_ do?"

"Pretty well, thankee, master; I was just going to call up at your

"Ah!" said the other, "you have heard of it, then?"

"Yes, I have heard of it," said Mr. Trott, with a grin, "and heard a
great deal more about it than you know on, master."

"You don't surely mean to say that you have apprehended the burglars?"

"No, no, I don't mean that; I wish I did: they have been one too many
for me as yet. Why, when they first started in business there worn't
fewer than twenty men in that gang. Sixteen or seventeen on 'em have
been hung or transported, and the rest is them that has been at your
house. They have got a hiding-place somewhere in Pentonville. I'll
tell you what, master," said Trott, taking the other by the button,
and speaking in a hoarse whisper, "they are the worst of the lot; up
to everything they are; and take my word for it, Mr. Grimaldi, they'll
stick at nothing."

Grimaldi looked anything but pleased at this intelligence, and Trott
observing his disturbed countenance, added,--

"Don't you be alarmed, master; what they want is, their revenge for
their former disappointment. That's what it is," said Trott, nodding
his head sagaciously.

"It appears very extraordinary," said Grimaldi. "This is a very
distressing situation to be placed in."

"Why, so it is," said the officer, after a little consideration;--"so
it is, when you consider that they never talk without doing. But don't
be afraid, Mr. Grimaldi."

"Oh no, I'm not," replied the other; adding, in as cool a manner as he
could assume, "they came again last night."

"I know that," said the officer. "I'll let you into another secret,
master. They are coming again to-night."

"Again to-night!" exclaimed Grimaldi.

"As sure as fate," replied the officer, nodding to a friend who was
passing down the street on the other side of the way,--"and if your
establishment an't large enough, and powerful enough to resist 'em--"

"Large and powerful enough!" exclaimed the other,--"why there are only
three women and one other male person besides myself in the house."

"Ah!" said Mr. Trott, "that isn't near enough."

"Enough! no!" rejoined Grimaldi; "and it would kill my mother."

"I dare say it would," acquiesced the officer; "my mother was killed in
a similar manner."

This, like the rest of the officer's discourse, was far from
consolatory, and Grimaldi looked anxiously in his face for something
like a ray of hope.

Mr. Trott meditated for some short time, and then, looking up with his
head on one side, said, "I think I see a way now, master."

"What is it? What do you propose? I'm agreeable to anything," said
Grimaldi, in a most accommodating manner.

"Never mind that," said the officer. "You put yourself into my hands,
and I'll be the saving of your property, and the taking of them."

Grimaldi burst into many expressions of admiration and gratitude, and
put his hand into Mr. Trott's hands, as an earnest of his readiness to
deposit himself there.

"Only rid us," said Grimaldi, "of these dreadful visitors, who really
keep us in a state of perpetual misery, and anything you think proper
to accept shall be cheerfully paid you."

The officer replied, with many moral observations on the duties of
police-officers, their incorruptible honesty, their zeal, and rigid
discharge of the functions reposed in them. If Mr. Grimaldi would do
his duty to his country, and prosecute them to conviction, that was all
he required.

To this, Grimaldi, not having any precise idea of the expense of a
prosecution, readily assented, and the officer declared he should be
sufficiently repaid by the pleasing consciousness of having done his
duty. He did not consider it necessary to add, that a reward had been
offered for the apprehension of the same offenders, payable on their

They walked back to the house together, and the officer having
inspected it with the practised eye of an experienced person, declared
himself thoroughly satisfied, and stated that if his injunctions were
strictly attended to, he had no doubt his final operations would be
completely successful.

"It will be necessary," said Trott, speaking with great pomp and
grandeur, as the inmates assembled round him to hear his oration,--"it
will be necessary to take every portable article out of the back
kitchen, the parlour, and the bedroom, and to give me up the entire
possession of this house for one night; at least until such time as I
shall have laid my hand upon these here gentlemen."

It is needless to say that this proposition was agreed to, and that
the females at once went about clearing the rooms as the officer had
directed. At five o'clock in the afternoon he returned, and the keys
of the house were delivered up to him. These arrangements having been
made, the family departed to the theatre as usual, leaving Mr. Trott
alone in the house; for the servant girl had been sent away to a
neighbour's by his desire, whether from any feeling of delicacy on the
part of Mr. Trott, (who was a married man,) or from any apprehension
that she might impede his operations, we are not informed.

The officer remained alone in the house, taking care not to go near any
of the windows until it was dark, when two of his colleagues, coming
by appointment to the garden-door, were stealthily admitted into the
house. Having carefully scrutinised the whole place, they disposed
themselves in the following order. One man locked and bolted in the
front kitchen, another locked and bolted himself in the sitting-room
above stairs, and Mr. Trott, the presiding genius, in the front-parlour
towards the street; the last-named gentleman having, before he retired
into ambuscade, bolted and barred the back-door, and only locked the
front one.

Here they remained for some time, solitary enough, no doubt, for there
was not a light in the house, and each man being fastened in a room
by himself was as much alone as if there had been no one else in the
place. The time seemed unusually long; they listened intently, and were
occasionally deceived for an instant by some noise in the street, but
it soon subsided again, and all was silent as before.

At length, some time after night-fall, a low knock came to the
street-door. No attention being paid to it, the knock was repeated, and
this time it was rather louder. It echoed through the house, but no
one stirred. After a short interval, as if the person outside had been
listening and had satisfied himself, a slight rattling was heard at
the keyhole, and, the lock being picked, the footsteps of two men were
heard in the passage.

They quietly bolted the door after them, and pulling from beneath their
coats a couple of dark lanterns, walked softly up stairs. Finding the
door of the front-room locked, they came down again, and tried the
front-parlour, which was also locked, whereat, Mr. Trott, who was
listening with his ear close to the handle, laughed immoderately, but
without noise.

Unsuccessful in these two attempts, they went down stairs, and with
some surprise found one of the kitchens locked, and the other open.
Only stopping just to peep into the open one, they once more ascended
to the passage.

"Well," said one of the men, as he came up the kitchen stairs, "we have
got it all to ourselves to-night, anyway, so we had better not lose any
time. Hollo!"--

"What's the matter?" said the other, looking back.

"Look here!" rejoined his comrade, pointing to the garden-door,
with the bolts, and iron plates, and patent locks,--"here's
protection--here's security for a friend. These have been put on since
we were here afore; we might have tried to get in for everlasting."

"We had better stick it open," said the other man, "and then if there's
any game in front, we can get off as we did t'other night."

"Easily said. How do you do it?" said the first speaker, "it will take
no end of time, and make no end of noise, to undo all these things. We
had better look sharp. There's no rehearsal to-night, remember."

At this, they both laughed, and determining to take the front-parlour
first, picked the lock without more ado. This done, they pushed against
the door to open it, but were unable to do so by reason of the bolts
inside, which Mr. Trott had taken good care to thrust into the staples
as far as they would possibly go.

"This is a rum game!" said one of the fellows, giving the door a kick,
"it wont open!"

"Never mind, let it be," said the other man; "there's a spring or
something. The back kitchen's open; we had better begin there; we
know there's some property here, because we took it away before. Show
yourself smart, and bring the bag."

As the speaker stooped to trim his lantern, the other man joined him,
and said, with an oath and a chuckle--

"Shouldn't you like to know who it was as struck you with the sword,

"I wish I did," growled the other; "I'd put a knife in him before many
days was over. Come on."

They went down stairs, and Trott, softly gliding from his hiding-place,
double-locked the street-door, and put the key in his pocket. He then
stationed himself at the top of the kitchen stairs, where he listened
with great glee to the exclamations of surprise and astonishment which
escaped the robbers, as they opened drawer after drawer, and found them
all empty.

"Everything taken away!"--said one of the men: "what the devil does
this mean?"

The officer, by way of reply, fired a pistol charged only with blank
powder, down the stairs, and retreated expeditiously to his parlour.

This being the signal, the sound was instantly followed by the noise
of the other two officers unlocking and unbolting the doors of their
hiding-places. The thieves, scrambling up stairs, rushed quickly to the
street-door, but, in consequence of its being locked, they were unable
to escape; were easily made prisoners, handcuffed, and borne away in

The affair was all over, and the house restored to order, when the
family came home. The officer who had been despatched to bring the
servant home, and left behind to bear her company in case any of the
companions of the thieves should pay the house a visit, took his
departure as soon as they appeared, bearing with him a large sack left
behind by the robbers, which contained as extensive an assortment of
the implements of their trade, as had been so fortunately captured on
their first appearance.

Grimaldi appeared at Hatton Garden the next morning, and was introduced
to the prisoners for the first time. His testimony having been taken,
and the evidence of Mr. Trott and his men received, by which the
identity of the criminals was clearly proved, they were fully committed
for trial, and Grimaldi was bound over to prosecute. They were tried at
the ensuing Sessions; the jury at once found them guilty, and they were
transported for life.

This anecdote, which is narrated in every particular precisely as
the circumstances occurred, affords a striking and curious picture
of the state of society in and about London, in this respect, at the
very close of the last century. The bold and daring highwaymen who
took the air at Hounslow, Bagshot, Finchley, and a hundred other
places of quite fashionable resort, had ceased to canter their
blood-horses over heath and road in search of plunder, but there still
existed in the capital and its environs, common and poorer gangs
of thieves, whose depredations were conducted with a daring, and
disregard of consequences, which to the citizens of this age is wholly
extraordinary. One attempt at robbery similar to that which has just
been described, committed now-a-days in such a spot, would fill the
public papers for a month; but three such attempts on the same house,
and by the same men, would set all London, and all the country for
thirty miles round to boot, in a ferment of wonder and indignation.

It was proved, on the examination of these men at the police-office,
that they were the only remaining members of a band of thieves
called the "Pentonville Robbers," and the prosecutor and his family
congratulated themselves not a little upon the fact, inasmuch as it
relieved them from the apprehension that there were any more of their
companions left behind who might feel disposed to revenge their fate.

This was Grimaldi's first visit to a police-office. His next appearance
on the same scene was under very different circumstances. But of this

The fears of the family had been so thoroughly roused, and their
dreams were haunted by such constant visions of the Pentonville
Robbers, that the house grew irksome and distressing, especially to
the females. Moreover, Grimaldi now began to think it high time that
his marriage should take place; and, as now that he had gained the
mother's approval, he did not so entirely despair of succeeding with
the father, he resolved to take a larger house, and to furnish and fit
it up handsomely, on a scale proportionate to his increased means. He
naturally trusted that Mr. Hughes would be more disposed to entrust
his daughter's happiness to his charge when he found that her suitor
was enabled to provide her with a comfortable, if not an elegant home,
and to support her in a sphere of life not very distantly removed from
that in which her father's fortunes and possessions entitled her to be

Accordingly, he gave notice to the landlord of the ill-fated house
in Penton-place, that he should quit it in the following March;
and accompanied by Miss Hughes, to whom, as he very properly says,
"_of course_" he referred everything, they wandered about the whole
neighbourhood in search of some house that would be more suitable to
them. Penton-street was the St. James's of Pentonville, the Regent's
Park of the City-road, in those days; and here he was fortunate enough
to secure the house No. 37, which was forthwith furnished and fitted
up, agreeably to the taste and direction of Miss Hughes herself.

He had plenty of time to devote to the contemplation of his expected
happiness, and the complete preparation of his new residence, for
Sadler's Wells Theatre was then closed,--the season terminating at that
time at the end of October,--and as he was never wanted at Drury Lane
until Christmas, and not much then, unless they produced a pantomime,
his theatrical avocations were not of a very heavy or burdensome

This year, too, the proprietors of Drury Lane, in pursuance of a
custom to which they had adhered for some years, produced an expensive
pageant instead of a pantomime; an alteration, in Grimaldi's opinion,
very little for the better, if not positively for the worse. It having
been the established custom for many years to produce a pantomime at
Christmas, the public naturally looked for it; and although such pieces
as "Blue Beard," "Feudal Times," "Lodoiska," and others of the same
class, undoubtedly drew money to the house, still it is questionable
whether they were so profitable to the treasury as the pantomimes at
Covent Garden. If we may judge from the result, they certainly were
not, for after several years' trial, during the whole of which time
pantomimes were annually produced at Covent Garden, the Christmas
pantomime was again brought forward at Drury Lane, to the exclusion of

He played in all these pieces, "Blue Beard," and so forth; yet his
parts being of a trifling description, occupied no time in the getting
up, and as he infinitely preferred the company of Miss Hughes to that
of a theatrical audience, he was well pleased. By the end of February,
the whitewashers, carpenters, upholsterers, even the painters, had left
the Penton-street mansion, and there being no pantomime, it seemed a
very eligible period for being married at once.

Grimaldi told Miss Hughes that he thought so: Miss Hughes replied that
he had only to gain her father's consent in the first instance, and
then the day should be fixed without more ado.

This was precisely what the lover was most anxious to avoid, for two
reasons: firstly, because it involved the very probable postponement
of his happiness; and secondly, because the obtaining this consent was
an awkward process. At last he recollected that in consequence of Mr.
Hughes being out of town, it was quite impossible to ask him.

"Very good," said Miss Hughes; "everything happens for the best. I am
sure you would never venture to speak to him on the subject, so you had
far better write. He will not keep you long in suspense, I know, for he
is quite certain to answer your letter by return of post."

Mr. Hughes was then at Exeter; and as it certainly did appear to his
destined son-in-law a much better course to write than to speak, even
if he had been in London, he sat down without delay, and, after various
trials, produced such a letter as he thought would be most likely
to find its way to the father's heart. Miss Hughes approving of the
contents, it was re-read, copied, punctuated, folded, and posted.

Next day the lady was obliged to leave town, to spend a short time with
some friends at Gravesend; and the lover, very much to his annoyance
and regret, was fain to stay behind, and console himself as he best
could, in his mistress's absence, and the absence of a reply from
her father, to which he naturally looked forward with considerable
impatience and anxiety.

Five days passed away, and still no letter came; and poor Grimaldi,
being left to his own fears and apprehensions, was reduced to the most
desperate and dismal forebodings. Having no employment at the theatre,
and nothing to do but to think of his mistress and his letter, he was
almost beside himself with anxiety and suspense. It was with no small
pleasure, then, that he received a note from Miss Hughes, entreating
him to take a trip down to Gravesend in one of the sailing-boats on the
following Sunday, as he could return by the same conveyance on the same
night. Of course he was not slow to avail himself of the invitation;
so he took shipping at the Tower on the morning of the day appointed,
and reached the place of his destination in pretty good time. The only
water communication was by sailing-boats; and as at that time people
were not independent of wind and tide, and everything but steam, the
passengers were quite satisfied to get down when they did.

He found Miss Hughes waiting for him at the landing-place, and getting
into a "tide" coach, they proceeded to Chatham, Miss Hughes informing
him that she had made a confidant of her brother, who was stationed
there, and that they purposed spending the day together.

"And now, Joe," said Miss Hughes, when he had expressed the pleasure
which this arrangement afforded him, "tell me everything that has
happened. What does my father say?"

"My dear," replied Grimaldi, "he says nothing at all; he has not
answered my letter."

"Not answered your letter!" said the lady: "his punctuality is

"So I have always heard," replied Grimaldi: "but so it is; I have not
heard a syllable."

"Then you must write again, Joe," said Miss Hughes, "immediately,
without the least delay. Let me see,--you cannot very well write
to-day, but to-morrow you must not fail: I cannot account for his

"Nor I," said Grimaldi.

"Unless, indeed," said Miss Hughes, "some extraordinary business has
driven your letter from his memory."

As people always endeavour to believe what they hope, they were not
long in determining that it must be so. Dismissing the subject from
their minds, they spent the day happily, in company with young Mr.
Hughes, and returning to Gravesend in the evening by another tide
coach, Grimaldi was on board the sailing-boat shortly before eleven
o'clock; it being arranged that Miss Hughes was to follow on the next

In the cabin of the boat he found Mr. De Cleve,[21] at that time
treasurer of Sadler's Wells. There are jealousies in theatres, as there
are in courts, ball-rooms, and boarding-schools; and this Mr. De Cleve
was jealous of Grimaldi--not because he stood in his way, for he had
no touch of comedy in his composition, but because he had eclipsed,
and indeed altogether outshone, one Mr. Hartland, "a very clever and
worthy man," says Grimaldi, who was at that time also engaged as a
pantomimic and melodramatic actor at Sadler's Wells. Mr. De Cleve,
thinking for his friends as well as himself, hated Grimaldi most
cordially, and the meeting was consequently by no means an agreeable
one to him; for if he had chanced to set eyes upon Miss Hughes, great
mischief-making and turmoil would be the inevitable consequence.

"In the name of wonder, Grimaldi," said this agreeable character, "what
are you doing here?"

"Going back to London," replied Grimaldi, "as I suppose most of us are."

"That is not what I meant," said De Cleve: "what I meant was, to ask
you what business might have taken you to Gravesend?"

"Oh! no business at all," replied the other; "directly I landed, I went
off by the tide-coach to Chatham."

"Indeed!" said the other.

"Yes," said Grimaldi.

The treasurer looked rather puzzled at this, sufficiently showing by
his manner that he had been hunting about Gravesend all day in search
of the young man. He remained silent a short time, and then said, "I
only asked because I thought you might have had a dinner engagement at
Gravesend, perhaps,--with a young lady, even. Who knows?"

This little sarcasm on the part of the worthy treasurer convinced
Grimaldi, that having somewhere picked up the information that Miss
Hughes was at Gravesend, and having heard afterwards from Mrs. Lewis,
or somebody at the theatre, that Grimaldi was going to the same place,
he had followed him thither with the amiable intention of playing
the spy, and watching his proceedings. If he had observed the young
people together, his mischievous intentions would have been completely
successful; but the tide-coach had balked him, and Mr. De Cleve's
good-natured arrangements were futile.

Grimaldi laughed in his sleeve as the real state of the case presented
itself to his mind; and feeling well pleased that he had not seen them
together, in the absence of any reply from Mr. De Cleve, he ascended to
the deck, and left the treasurer to his meditations.

Upon the deck, on a green bench with a back to it, and arms besides,
there sat a neighbour, and a neighbour's wife, and the neighbour's
wife's sister, and a very pretty girl, who was the neighbour's wife's
sister's friend. There was just room for one more on the bench, and
they insisted upon Mr. Grimaldi occupying the vacant seat, which he
readily did, for they were remaining on deck to avoid the closeness of
the cabin, and he preferred the cold air of the night to the cold heart
of Mr. De Cleve.

So down he sat next to the pretty friend; and the pretty friend
being wrapped in a very large seaman's coat, it was suggested by the
neighbour, who was a wag in his way, that she ought to lend a bit of it
to Mr. Grimaldi, who looked very cold. After a great deal of blushing
and giggling, the young lady put her left arm through the left arm of
the coat, and Grimaldi put his right arm through the right arm of the
coat, to the great admiration of the whole party, and after the manner
in which they show the giants' coats at the fairs. They sat in this way
during the whole voyage, and Grimaldi always declared that it was a
very comfortable way of travelling, as no doubt it is.

"Laugh away!" he said, as the party gave vent to their delight in
bursts of merriment. "If we had only something here to warm us
internally as well as the great-coat does externally, we would laugh
all night."

"What should you recommend for that purpose?" asked the neighbour.

"Brandy," said the friend.

"Then," rejoined the neighbour, "if you were a harlequin, instead of
a clown, you could not have conjured it up quicker." And with these
words, the neighbour, who was a plump, red-faced, merry fellow, held
up with both hands a large heavy stone bottle, with an inverted
drinking-horn resting on the bung; and having laughed very much at his
own forethought, he set the stone bottle down, and sat himself on the
top of it.

It was the only thing wanting to complete the mirth of the party, and
very merry they were. It was a fine moonlight night, cold, but healthy
and fresh, and it passed pleasantly and quickly away. The day had
broken before they reached Billingsgate-stairs; the stone-bottle was
empty, the neighbour asleep, Grimaldi and the young lady buttoned up in
the great-coat, and the wife and daughter very jocose and good-humoured.

Here they parted: the neighbour's family went home in a hackney-coach,
and Grimaldi, bidding them good-bye, walked away to Gracechurch-street,
not forgetting to thank the young lady for her humanity and compassion.

He had occasion to call at a coach-office in Gracechurch-street;
but finding that it was not yet open (for it was very early), and
not feeling at all fatigued by his journey, he determined to walk
about the city for a couple of hours or so, and then to return to
the coach-office. By so doing, he would pass away the time till the
office opened, gain an opportunity of looking about him in that part
of London, to which he was quite a stranger, and avoid disturbing the
family at home until a more seasonable hour. So he made up his mind to
walk the two hours away, and turned back for that purpose.


[21] Vincent de Cleve, facetiously nick-named among his associates,
"Polly de Cleve," not from any effeminacy of character or manner, or
his almost intolerable abuse of the King's English by the constant
utterance of the most flagrant cockneyisms, but for his Marplot
qualities, which ever prompted him to pry into everybody's business,
and create by his interference the most vexatious mischief. He was
an odd fish. Talent he had; he was no contemptible composer and
musician, and in his office, as treasurer to the Wells for many
years, strictly honest. Between Sadler's Wells and the Angel was
an old building, immediately opposite Lady Owen's Almshouses, now
also demolished, called Goose Farm; it belonged to Mr. Laycock, the
cow-keeper of Islington; but had ceased to be a farm-house; and was
divided into tenements; the first and second floors were each divided
into two suites of apartments. On the first floor in that next the
Wells, resided John Cawse, the artist, whose daughters subsequently
distinguished themselves as vocalists of no common power, and made
their _début_ in 1820 at Sadler's Wells, where the late Mrs. Cawse was
also an actress.

The suite next the Angel was occupied by the mother and sister of
Charles and Thomas Dibdin; during the management of the Wells by the
former, the sister, a short squab figure, generally the last among the
figurantes, came on among villagers and mobs; but under other lessees
was not employed, and died in Clerkenwell Poor-House. De Cleve occupied
the rooms on the second floor above the Dibdins; but all have ceased to
exist; and Joe, to use a common expression, outlived his enemy. A grave
stone, laid flat, in the churchyard of St. Mary's, Lambeth, marks the
spot where lie buried, Mrs. Frances De Cleve, who died in her thirtieth
year, May 3, 1795; and her husband, the busy meddler, Vincent de Cleve,
who died July 30, 1827, aged 67.



     An extraordinary circumstance concerning himself, with another
        extraordinary circumstance concerning his grandfather--Specimen
        of a laconic epistle, and an account of two interviews with
        Mr. Hughes, in the latter of which a benevolent gentleman
        is duly rewarded for his trouble--Preparations for his
        marriage--Fatiguing effects of his exertions at the Theatre.

It was now broad day. The sun had risen, and was shedding a fine
mild light over the quiet street. The crowd so soon to be let loose
upon them was not yet stirring, and the only people visible were the
passengers who had landed from the boats, or who had just entered
London by other early conveyances. Although he had lived in London
all his life, he knew far less about it than many country people who
have visited it once or twice; and so unacquainted was he with the
particular quarter of the city in which he found himself, that he had
never even seen the Tower of London. He walked down to look at that;
and then he stared at the buildings round about, and the churches, and
a thousand objects which no one but a loiterer ever bestows a glance
upon; and so was walking on pleasantly enough, when all at once he
struck his foot against something which was lying on the pavement.

Looking down to see what it was, he perceived, to his great surprise,
a richly-ornamented net purse, of a very large size, filled with gold

He was perfectly paralyzed by the sight. He looked at it again and
again without daring to touch it. Then, by a sudden impulse, he glanced
cautiously round, and seeing that he was wholly unobserved, and that
there was not a solitary being within sight, he picked up the purse and
thrust it into his pocket.

As he stooped for this purpose, he observed, lying on the ground on
very nearly the same spot, a small bundle of papers tied round with
a piece of string. He picked them up too, mechanically. What was his
astonishment, on examining this last discovery more narrowly, to find
that the bundle was composed exclusively of bank-notes!

There was still nobody to be seen: there were no passers-by, no sound
of footsteps in the adjacent streets. He lingered about the spot for
more than an hour, eagerly scrutinizing the faces of the people, who
now began passing to and fro, with looks which themselves almost seemed
to inquire whether they had lost anything. No! there was no inquiry,
no searching; no person ran distractedly past him, or groped among the
mud by the pavement's side. It was evidently of no use waiting there;
and, quite tired of doing so, he turned and walked slowly back to the
coach-office in Gracechurch-street. He met or overtook no person on the
road who appeared to have lost anything, far less the immense sum of
money (for such it appeared to him) that he had found.

All this time, and for hours afterwards, he was in a state of turmoil
and agitation almost inconceivable. He felt as if he had committed some
dreadful theft, and feared discovery, and the shameful punishment which
must follow it. His legs trembled beneath him so that he could scarcely
walk, his heart beat violently, and the perspiration started on his

The more he reflected upon the precise nature of his situation, the
more distressed and apprehensive he became. Suppose the money were
to be found upon him by the loser, who would believe him, when he
declared that he picked it up in the street? Would it not appear much
more probable that he had stolen it? and if such a charge were brought
against him, by what evidence could he rebut it? As these thoughts, and
twenty such, passed through his mind, he was more than once tempted
to draw the money from his pocket, fling it on the pavement, and take
to his heels; which he was only restrained from doing by reflecting,
that if he were observed and questioned, his answers might at once lead
him to be accused of a charge of robbery, in which case he would be as
badly off as if he were in the grasp of the real loser. It would appear
at first sight a very lucky thing to find such a purse; but Grimaldi
thought himself far from fortunate as these torturing thoughts filled
his mind.

When he got to Gracechurch-street, he found the coach-office still
closely shut, and turning towards home through Coleman-street and
Finsbury-square, he passed into the City-road, which then, with the
exception of a few houses in the immediate neighbourhood of the Angel
at Islington, was entirely lined on both sides with the grounds of
market-gardeners. This was a favourable place to count the treasure;
so, sitting down upon a bank in a retired spot, just where the Eagle
Tavern now stands, he examined his prize. The gold in the purse was
all in guineas. The whole contents of the bundle were in bank-notes,
varying in their amounts from five to fifty pounds each. And this was
all there was; no memorandum, no card, no scrap of paper, no document
of any kind whatever, afforded the slightest clue to the name or
residence of the owner. Besides the money, there was nothing but the
piece of string which kept the notes together, and the handsome silk
net purse before mentioned, which held the gold.

He could not count the money then, for his fingers trembled so that
he could scarcely separate the notes, and he was so confused and
bewildered that he could not reckon the gold. He counted it shortly
after he reached home, though, and found that there were 380 guineas,
and 200_l._ in notes, making in the whole the sum of 599_l._

He reached home between seven and eight o'clock, where, going instantly
to bed, he remained sound asleep for several hours. There was no news
respecting the money, which he longed to appropriate to his own use; so
he put it carefully by, determining of course to abstain rigidly from
doing so, and to use all possible means to discover the owner.

He did not forget the advice of Miss Hughes in the hurry and excitement
consequent upon his morning's adventure, but wrote another epistle to
the father, recapitulating the substance of a former letter, and begged
to be favoured with a reply.

Having despatched this to the post-office, he devoted the remainder of
the day to a serious consideration of the line of action it would be
most proper to adopt with regard to the five-hundred and ninety-nine
pounds so suddenly acquired. Eventually, he resolved to consult an old
and esteemed friend of his father's, upon whose judgment he knew he
might depend, and whose best advice he felt satisfied he could command.

This determination he carried into execution that same evening; and
after a long conversation with the gentleman in question, during which
he met all the young man's natural and probably apparent inclination
to apply the money to his own occasions and views with arguments and
remarks which were wholly unanswerable, he submitted to be guided by
him, and acted accordingly.

For a whole week the two friends carefully examined every paper
which was published in London, if not in the hope, at least in the
expectation, of seeing the loss advertised; but, strange as it may
seem, nothing of the kind appeared. At the end of the period named,
an advertisement, of which the following is a copy, (their joint
production,) appeared in the daily papers:--

"Found by a gentleman in the streets of London, some money, which will
be restored to the owner upon his giving a satisfactory account of the
manner of its loss, its amount, the numbers of the notes, &c. &c."

To this was appended a full and particular address: but,
notwithstanding all these precautions, notwithstanding the publicity
that was given to the advertisement, and notwithstanding that the
announcement was frequently repeated,--from that hour to the very last
moment of his life, Grimaldi never heard one word or syllable regarding
the treasure he had so singularly acquired; nor was he ever troubled
with any one application relative to the notice.

A somewhat similar circumstance occurred to his maternal
grandfather.[22] He was in the habit of attending Leadenhall Market
early every Thursday morning, and as he frequently made large
purchases, his purse was generally well lined. Upon one occasion, he
took with him nearly four hundred pounds, principally in gold and
silver, which formed a tolerably large bagful, the weight of which
rather impeded his progress. When he arrived near the Royal Exchange,
he found that his shoe had become unbuckled, and taking from his pocket
the bag, which would otherwise have prevented his stooping, (for he
was a corpulent man), he placed it upon a neighbouring post, and then
proceeded to adjust his buckle. This done, he went quietly on to
market, thinking nothing of the purse or its contents until some time
afterwards, when, having to pay for a heavy purchase, he missed it, and
after some consideration recollected the place where he had left it.
He hurried to the spot. Although more than three quarters of an hour
had elapsed since he had left it in the prominent situation already
described, there it remained safe and untouched on the top of the post
in the open street!

Four anxious days (he had both money and a wife at stake) passed
heavily away, but on the fifth, Saturday--a reply arrived from Mr.
Hughes, which being probably one of the shortest epistles ever received
through the hands of the general postman, is subjoined verbatim.

     "Dear Joe,--

     "Expect to see me in a few days.

     "Yours truly,
     "R. HUGHES."

If there was nothing decidedly favourable to be drawn from this
brief _morçeau_, there was at least nothing very appalling to his
hopes: it was evident that Mr. Hughes was not greatly offended at his
presumption, and probable that he might be eventually induced to give
his consent to Grimaldi's marriage with his daughter. This conclusion,
to which he speedily came, tended greatly to elevate his spirits; nor
did they meet with any check from the sudden appearance of Miss Hughes
from Gravesend.

The meeting was a joyful one on both sides. As soon as their mutual
greetings were over, he showed her her father's letter, of which she
appeared to take but little notice.

"Why, Maria!" he exclaimed, with some surprise, "you scarcely look upon
this letter, and seem to care little or nothing about it!"

"To tell you the truth, Joe," answered Miss Hughes, smiling, "my father
has already arrived in town: I found him at home when I got there two
or three hours back, and he desired me to tell you that he wishes to
see you on Monday morning, if you will call at the theatre."

Upon hearing this, all the old nervous symptoms returned, and he felt
as though he were about to receive a final death-blow to his hopes.

"You may venture to take courage, I think," said Miss Hughes; "I have
very little fear or doubt upon the subject."

Her admirer had a good deal of both; but he was somewhat re-assured by
the young lady's manner, and her conviction that her father, who had
always treated her most kindly and indulgently, would not desert her
then. Comforted by discussing the probabilities of success, and all
the happiness that was to follow it, they spent the remainder of the
day happily enough, and looked forward as calmly as they could to the
Monday which was to decide their fate.

The following day--Sunday--was rather a wearisome one, being occupied
with speculations as to what the morrow would bring forth. However,
long as it seemed, the night arrived at last; and though that was long
too, Monday morning succeeded it as usual.

Concealing his inward agitation as best he might, he walked to the
theatre, and there in the treasury found Mr. Hughes. He was received
very kindly, but, after some trivial conversation, was much astonished
by Mr. Hughes saying, "So you are going to leave Sadler's Wells,
and all your old friends, merely because you can get a trifle more
elsewhere,--eh, Joe?"

He was so amazed at this, he could scarcely speak, but quickly
recovering, said, "I can assure you, sir, that no such idea ever
entered my head;--in fact, even if I wished such a thing, which, Heaven
knows, is furthest from my thoughts! I could not do so, being under
articles to you."

"You forget," replied Mr. Hughes, somewhat sternly, "your articles have
expired here."

And so they had, and so he had forgotten, and so he was constrained to

"It is rather odd," continued Mr. Hughes, "that so important a
circumstance should have escaped your memory: but tell me, do you know
Mr. Cross?"

Mr. Cross was manager of the Circus, now the Surrey Theatre, and had
repeatedly made Grimaldi offers to leave Sadler's Wells, and join
his company. He had done so, indeed, only a few days prior to this
conversation, offering to allow him to name his own terms. But these
and other similar invitations he had firmly declined, being unwilling
for many reasons to leave the theatre to which he had been accustomed
all his life.

From this observation of Mr. Hughes, and the manner in which it was
made, it was obvious to him that some one had endeavoured to injure him
in that gentleman's opinion; and fortunately chancing to have in his
pocket-book the letters he had received from Mr. Cross, and copies of
his own replies, he lost no time in clearing himself of the charge.

"My dear sir," he said, "I do not know Mr. Cross personally, but
very well as a correspondent, inasmuch as he has repeatedly written,
offering engagements to me, all of which I have declined;" and he
placed the papers before him.

The perusal of these letters seemed to satisfy Mr. Hughes, who returned
them, and said smilingly, "Well then, we'll talk about a fresh
engagement here, as you prefer old quarters. Let me see: your salary is
now four pounds per week:--well, I will engage you for three seasons,
and the terms shall be these: for the first season, six pounds per
week; for the second, seven; and for the third, eight. Will that do?"

He readily agreed to a proposition which, handsome in itself, greatly
exceeded anything he had anticipated. As Mr. Hughes seemed anxious to
have the affair settled, and Grimaldi was perfectly content that it
should be, two witnesses were sent for, and the articles were drawn up,
and signed upon the spot.

Then again they were left alone, and after a few moments more of
desultory conversation, Mr. Hughes rose, saying, "I shall see you,
I suppose, in the evening, as I am going to Drury Lane to see Blue
Beard." He advanced towards the door as he spoke, and then suddenly
turning round, added, "Have you anything else to say to me?"

Now was the time, or never. Screwing his courage to the sticking-place,
Grimaldi proceeded to place before Mr. Hughes his hopes and prospects,
strongly urging that his own happiness and that of his daughter
depended upon his consent being given to their marriage.

Mr. Hughes had thought over the subject well, and displayed by no means
that displeasure which the young man's anxious fears had prophesied;
he urged the youth of both parties as an argument against acceding to
their wishes, but finally gave his consent, and by so doing transported
the lover with joy.

Mr. Hughes advanced to the door of the room, and throwing it open, as
he went out, said to his daughter, who chanced to be sitting in the
next room, "Maria, Joe is here: you had better come and welcome him."

Miss Hughes came like a dutiful daughter, and _did_ welcome her
faithful admirer, as he well deserved for his true-hearted and constant
affection. In the happiness of the moment, the fact that the door of
the room was standing wide open quite escaped the notice of both, who
never once recollected the possibility of any third person being an
unseen witness to the interview.

This was a red-letter day in Grimaldi's calendar; he had nothing to
do in the evening at Drury Lane until the last scene but one of Blue
Beard, so went shopping with his future wife, buying divers articles of
plate, and such other small wares as young housekeepers require.

On hurrying to the theatre at night, he found Mr. Hughes anxiously
regarding the machinery of the last scene in Blue Beard, which he was
about getting up at the Exeter Theatre.

"This machinery is very intricate, Joe," said the father-in-law upon
seeing him.

"You are right, sir," replied Joe; "and, what is more, it works very

"So I should expect," was the reply; "and as I am afraid we shall not
manage this very well in the country, I wish I could improve it."

Among the numerous modes of employing any spare time to which Grimaldi
resorted for the improvement of a vacant hour, the invention of model
transformations and pantomime tricks held a foremost place at that
time, and did, though in a limited degree, to the close of his life.

At the time of his death he had many excellent models of this
description, besides several which he sold to Mr. Bunn so recently
as a few months prior to December, 1836, all of which were used in
the pantomime of "Harlequin and Gammer Gurton," produced at Drury
Lane on the 26th of that month. He rarely allowed any machinery which
came under his notice, especially if a little peculiar, to pass
without modelling it upon a small scale. He had a complete model of
the skeleton "business" in Blue Beard; and not merely that, but an
improvement of his own besides, by which the intricate nature of the
change might be avoided, and many useless flaps dispensed with.

Nervously anxious to elevate himself as much as possible in the opinion
of Mr. Hughes at this particular juncture, he eagerly explained to him
the nature of his alterations, as far as the models were concerned, and
plainly perceived he was agreeably surprised at the communication. He
begged his acceptance of models, both of the original mechanism, and of
his own improved version of it; and Mr. Hughes, in reply, invited him
to breakfast on the following morning, and requested him to bring both
models with him. This he failed not to do. It happened that a rather
ludicrous scene awaited him.

He had one or two enemies connected at that time with Sadler's Wells,
who allowed their professional envy to impel them to divers acts of
small malignity. One of these persons, having been told of his saluting
Miss Hughes, by a servant girl with whom he chanced to be acquainted,
and who had witnessed the action, sought and obtained an interview that
evening with the father upon his return from Drury Lane, and stated the
circumstance to him, enlarging and embellishing the details with divers
comments upon the ingratitude of Grimaldi in seducing the affections of
a young lady so much above him, and making various wise and touching
reflections most in vogue on such occasions.

Mr. Hughes heard all this with a calmness which first of all astonished
the speaker, but which he eventually attributed to concentrated rage.
After he had finished his speech, the former quietly said, "Will you
favour me by coming here at nine o'clock to-morrow morning, sir?"

"Most certainly," was the reply.

"Allow me, however, at once," continued Mr. Hughes, "to express my
thanks for your kindness in informing me of that which so nearly
concerns my domestic happiness. Will you take a glass of madeira?"

"I thank you, sir," answered the other.

The wine was brought and drunk, and the friend departed, congratulating
himself, as he walked away, upon having "settled Joe's business;" which
indeed he had, but not after the fashion he expected or intended.

As to Grimaldi, he was up with the lark, arranging the machinery
and making it look and work to the best advantage; in which having
succeeded to his heart's content, he put the models he had promised
Mr. Hughes into his pocket, and walked down to his house to breakfast,
agreeably to the arrangement of the night before.

Upon his arrival, he was told that breakfast was not quite ready, and
likewise that Mr. Hughes wished to see him immediately in the treasury,
where he was then awaiting his arrival. There was something in the
manner of the servant-girl (the same, by-the-by, who had told of the
kissing), as she said this, which induced him involuntarily to fear
some ill, and, without knowing exactly why, he began to apprehend those
thousand and one impossible, or at least improbable, evils, the dread
of which torments the man nervously afraid of losing some treasure upon
the possession of which his happiness depends.

"Is Mr. Hughes alone?" he asked.

"No, sir," answered the girl: "there is a gentleman with him;"--and
then she mentioned a name which increased his apprehensions. However,
plucking up all his courage, he advanced to the appointed chamber, and
in two minutes found himself in the presence of Mr. Hughes and his

The former received him coldly; the latter turned away when he saw him
without vouchsafing a word.

"Come in, sir," said Mr. Hughes, "and close the door after you." He
did as he was told; never, either before or afterwards, feeling so
strangely like a criminal.

"Mr. Grimaldi," continued Mr. Hughes, with a mingled formality and
solemnity which appalled him, "I have something very important to
communicate to you--in fact, I have had a charge preferred against you
of a most serious description, sir."

"Indeed, sir!"

"Yes, indeed, sir!" said the enemy, with a look very like one of

"It is true," replied Mr. Hughes, "and I fear you will not be able to
clear yourself from it: however, in justice to you, the charge shall
be fully stated in your own presence. Repeat, sir, if you please," he
continued, addressing the accuser, "what you told me last night."

And repeat it he did, in a speech, replete with malignity, and not
destitute of oratorical merit: in which he dwelt upon the serpent-like
duplicity with which young Grimaldi had stolen into the bosom of a
happy and hospitable family for the purpose of robbing a father and
mother of their beloved daughter, and dragging down from her own
respectable sphere a young and inexperienced girl, to visit her with
all the sorrows consequent upon limited means, and the needy home of a
struggling actor.

It was with inexpressible astonishment that he heard all this; but
still greater was his astonishment at witnessing the demeanour of
Mr. Hughes, who heard this lengthened oration with a settled frown
of attention, as though what he heard alike excited his profound
consideration and anger; occasionally, too, vouchsafing an encouraging
nod to the speaker, which was anything but encouraging to the other

"You are quite right," said Mr. Hughes, at length; on hearing which,
Grimaldi felt quite wrong. "You are _quite_ right nothing can justify
such actions, except one thing, and that is--"

"Mr. Hughes," interrupted the _friend_, "I know your kind heart
well,--so well, that I can perceive your charitable feelings are even
now striving to discover some excuse or palliation for this offence;
but permit me, as a disinterested observer, to tell you that nothing
can justify a man in winning the affections of a young girl infinitely
above him, and, at the same time, the daughter of one to whom he is so
greatly indebted."

"Will you listen to me for half a minute?" inquired Mr. Hughes, in a
peculiarly calm tone.

"Certainly, sir," answered the other.

"Well, then, I was going to observe, at the moment when you somewhat
rudely interrupted me, that I quite agreed with you, and that nothing
can justify a man in acting in the manner you have described, unless,
indeed, he has obtained the sanction of the young lady's parents; in
which case, he is, of course, at liberty to win her affections as soon
as he likes, and she likes to let him."

"Assuredly, sir," responded the other; "but in the present instance--"

"But in the present instance," interrupted Mr. Hughes, "that happens
to be the case. My daughter Maria has my full permission to marry Mr.
Grimaldi; and I have no doubt she will avail herself of that permission
in the course of a very few weeks."

The accuser was dumb-foundered, and Grimaldi was delighted--now, for
the first time perceiving that Mr. Hughes had been amusing himself at
the expense of the mischief-maker.

"Nevertheless," said Mr. Hughes, turning to his accepted son-in-law
with a grave face, but through all the gravity of which he could
perceive a struggling smile,--"Nevertheless, you acted very wrong,
Mr. Grimaldi, in kissing my daughter so publicly; and I beg that
whenever, for the future, you and she deem it essential to indulge in
such amusements, it may be done in private. This is rendered necessary
by the laws which at present govern society, and I am certain will be
far more consonant to the feelings and delicacy of the young lady in

With these words Mr. Hughes made a low bow to the officious and
disinterested individual who had made the speech, and, opening the
door, called to the servants "to show the gentleman out." Then
turning to Grimaldi, he took him by the arm, and walked towards the
breakfast-room, declaring that the meal had been waiting half an hour
or more, that the coffee would be cold, and Maria quite tired of
waiting for him.

From this moment the course of true love ran smooth for once: and
Mr. Hughes, in all his subsequent behaviour to Grimaldi sufficiently
evinced his high sense of the innate worth of a young man, who, under
very adverse circumstances and with many temptations to contend
against, had behaved with so much honesty and candour.

On the Saturday after this pleasant termination of a scene which
threatened to be attended with very different results, the house in
Penton-street was taken possession of, and next Easter Sunday the young
couple were asked in church for the first time. Sadler's Wells opened
as usual on Easter Monday,[23] and Grimaldi appeared in a new part, a
more prominent one than he had yet had, and one which increased his
reputation considerably.

At this time, in consequence of his great exertions in this character,
after four or five months of comparative rest, he began to feel some of
those wastings of strength and prostrations of energy, to which this
class of performers are more peculiarly exposed, and which leave them,
if they attain old age, as they left Grimaldi himself, in a state of
great bodily infirmity and suffering. He was cheered throughout the
play; but the applause of the audience only spirited him to increased
exertions, and at the close of the performances he was so exhausted and
worn out that he could scarcely stand. It was with great difficulty
that he reached his home, although the distance was so very slight; and
immediately on doing so, he was obliged to be put to bed.

He was wont in after-life frequently to remark, that if at one period
of his career his gains were great, his labours were at least equally
so, and deserved the return. He spoke from sad experience of their
effects at that time, and he spoke the truth. It must be a very high
salary, indeed, that could ever repay a man--and especially a feeling,
sensitive man, as Grimaldi really was--for premature old age and early

He awoke at eleven o'clock next day invigorated and refreshed;--this
long rest was an extraordinary indulgence for him to take, for it was
his constant habit to be up and dressed by seven o'clock or earlier,
either attending to his pigeons, practising the violin, occupying
himself in constructing such little models as have been before
mentioned, or employing himself in some way. Idleness wearied him more
than labour; he never could understand the gratification which many
people seem to derive from having nothing to do.

It is customary on the morning after a new piece to "call" it upon the
stage with a view of condensing it where it will admit of condensation,
and making such improvements as the experience of one night may have
suggested. All the performers engaged in the piece of course attend
these "calls," as any alterations will necessarily affect the dialogue
of their parts, or some portions of the stage business connected with

Being one of the principal actors in the new drama, it was
indispensably necessary that he should attend, and accordingly, much
mortified at finding it so late, he dressed with all possible despatch,
and set forth towards the theatre.


[22] The slaughterman and carcase-butcher of Bloomsbury, and
Newton-street, Holborn.

[23] Sadler's Wells, on Easter Monday, April 9, 1798, opened with
a Prelude, entitled, "Easter Monday; or, a Peep at the Wells." The
prolocutory characters by Dubois and Mrs. Davis: in the concluding
scene were introduced the whole Company, and a Ballet Divertissement;
the dances by the Misses Bruguiers, their first appearances, and by Mr.
King, who, it will be remembered, in the recital of the alarm created
by the Pentonville robbers, is said, "while armed with a heavy stick,
to have crept cautiously into the back garden, groped about, and soon
returned out of breath." The amusements of the evening concluded with
an entirely new harlequinade, called "The Monster of the Cave; or,
Harlequin and the Fay." Principal characters by Mr. King, Mr. Grimaldi,
Mr. Davis, and Mr. Dubois, Miss Bruguier, and Mrs. Roffey. Joe for the
first time, on the bill of the day, has the honourable distinction of
Mr. prefixed to his name; hitherto it was "Master Grimaldi." On Monday,
July 30, was produced a new Grand Comic Spectacle and Harlequinade,
called "Blue Beard, Black Beard, Red Beard, and Grey Beard;" in which
the motley hero of Pantomime, it was announced, would respectfully
endeavour to keep up the spirit of the old English adage,

    "'Tis merry in Hall, when Beards wag all,"

in the novel character of Harlequin Dutch Skipper. Harlequin Skipper,
Mr. King; Plutus, Blue Beard, Mr. Barnett; Mars, Black Beard, Mr.
Davis; Saturn, Grey Beard, Mr. Grimaldi; Mynheer Red Beard, Mr. Gomery;
Dutch Clown, Mr. Dubois; and Columbine, Miss Bruguier. The Pantomime
was highly attractive, and exhibited, amongst other excellent scenes,
one in moving perspective, showing the effect of a balloon descending
among the clouds.



     Tribulations connected with "Old Lucas," the constable, with an
        account of the subsequent proceedings before Mr. Blamire, the
        magistrate, at Hatton Garden, and the mysterious appearance
        of a silver staff--A guinea wager with a jocose friend on the
        Dartford-road--The Prince of Wales, Sheridan, and the Crockery

At this time all the ground upon which Claremont, Myddleton, Lloyd,
and Wilmington Squares have since been built, together with the
numberless streets which diverge from them in all directions, was then
pasture-land or garden-ground, bearing the name of Sadler's Wells
Fields. Across these fields it was of course necessary that Grimaldi
should pass and repass in going to and returning from the theatre.
Upon this particular morning, a mob, consisting of at least a thousand
persons, were actively engaged here in hunting an over-driven ox,--a
diversion then in very high repute among the lower orders of the
metropolis, but which is now, happily for the lives and limbs of the
more peaceable part of the community, falling into desuetude: there not
being quite so many open spaces or waste grounds to chase oxen in, as
there used to be a quarter of a century ago. The mob was a very dense
one, comprised of the worst characters; and perceiving that it would
be a task of some difficulty to clear a passage through it, he paused
for a minute or two, deliberating whether he had not better turn back
at once and take the longer but less obstructed route by the Angel at
Islington, when a young gentleman whom he had never seen before, after
eyeing him with some curiosity, walked up and said--

"Is not your name Grimaldi, sir?"

"Yes, sir, it is," replied the other. "Pray, may I inquire why you ask
the question?"

"Because," answered the stranger, pointing to a man who stood among
a little group of people hard by,--"because I just now heard that
gentleman mention it to a companion."

The person whom the young man pointed out was a very well known
character about Clerkenwell and its vicinity, being an object of
detestation with the whole of the neighbourhood. This man was
Lucas,--"Old Lucas" was his familiar appellation,--and he filled the
imposing office of parish constable. Parish constables are seldom very
popular in their own districts, but Old Lucas was more unpopular than
any man of the same class; and if the stories which are current of
him be correct, with very good reason, unless the man was dreadfully
belied. In short, he was a desperate villain. It was very generally
understood of him, that where no real accusation existed against a man,
his course of proceeding was to invent a false one, and to bolster
it up with the most unblushing perjury, and an ingenious system of
false evidence, which he had never any difficulty in obtaining, for
the purpose of pocketing certain small sums which, under the title of
"expenses," were paid upon the conviction of the culprit.

Being well acquainted with this man's reputation, Grimaldi was much
astonished, and not at all pleasantly so, by the information he
had just received; and he inquired with considerable anxiety and
apprehension, whether the young man was quite certain that it was _his_
name which the constable had mentioned.

"Quite certain," was the reply. "I can't have made any mistake upon the
subject, because he wrote it down in his book."

"Wrote it down in his book!" exclaimed Grimaldi.

"Yes, he did, indeed," replied the other: "and more than that, I heard
him say to another man beside him, that 'he could lay hold of you
whenever he wanted you.'"

"The devil he did!" exclaimed Grimaldi. "What on earth can he want with
me? Well, sir, at all events I have to thank you for your kindness in
informing me, although I am not much wiser on the point than I was

Exchanging bows with the stranger, they separated; the young man mixing
with the crowd, and Grimaldi turning back, and going to the theatre
by the longest road, with the double object of avoiding Old Lucas and
keeping out of the way of the mad ox.

Having to attend to his business immediately on his arrival at the
theatre, the circumstance escaped his memory, nor did it occur to him
again until he returned thither in the evening, shortly before the
performances commenced, when being reminded of it by some accidental
occurrence, he related the morning's conversation to some of his more
immediate associates, among whom were Dubois, a celebrated comic actor,
another performer of the name of Davis, and Richer, a very renowned
rope-dancer. His communication, however, elicited no more sympathetic
reception than a general burst of laughter, which having subsided, they
fell to bantering the unfortunate object of Old Lucas's machinations.

"That fellow Lucas," said Dubois, assuming a grave face, "is a most
confirmed scoundrel; he would stick at nothing, not even at Joe's life,
to gain a few pounds, or perhaps even a few shillings."

Joe looked none the happier for this observation, and another friend
took up the subject.

"Lucas,--Lucas," said Richer; "that is the old man who wears
spectacles, isn't it?"

"That's the man," replied Dubois; "the constable, you know. He hasn't
written your name down in his book for nothing, Joe, take my word for

"Precisely my opinion," said Davis; "he means to make a regular
property out of him. Don't be frightened, Joe, that's all."

These prophetic warnings had a very serious effect upon the spirits of
the party principally interested,--which his companions perceiving,
hastened to carry on the joke, by giving vent to sundry other terrible
surmises upon the particular crime with which the officer meant to
charge him; one suggesting that it was murder, another that he thought
it was forgery, (which made no great difference in the end, the offence
being punished with the same penalty,) and a third good-naturedly
remarking that perhaps it might not be quite so bad, after all,
although certainly Lucas did possess such weight with the magistrates,
that it was invariably two to one against the unfortunate person whom
he charged with any offence.

Although he was at no loss to discern and appreciate the raillery
of his friends, Grimaldi could not divest himself of some nervous
apprehensions connected with the adventure of the morning: when,
just as he was revolving in his mind all the improbabilities of the
officer's entertaining any designs against him, one of the messengers
of the theatre abruptly entered the room in which they were all seated,
and announced that Mr. Grimaldi was wanted directly at the stage-door.

"Who wants me?" inquired Grimaldi, turning rather pale.

"It's a person in spectacles," replied the messenger, looking at the
rest of the company, and hesitating.

"A person in spectacles!" echoed the other, more agitated than before.
"Did he give you his name, or do you know who he is?"

"O yes, I know who he is," answered the messenger, with something
between a smile and a gasp:--"it's Old Lucas."

Upon this, there arose a roar of laughter, in which the messenger
joined. Grimaldi was quite petrified, and stood rooted to the spot,
looking from one to another with a face in which dismay and fear were
visibly depicted.

Having exhausted themselves with laughing, his companions, regarding
his unhappy face, began to grow serious, and Dubois said,

"Joe, my boy, a joke's a joke, you know. We have had one with you, and
that was all fair enough, and it's all over; but if there is anything
really serious in this matter, we will prove ourselves your friends,
and support you against this old rascal in any way in our power."

All the others said something of the same sort, for which Grimaldi
thanked them very heartily, being really in a state of great
discomfort, and entertaining many dismal forebodings. It was then
proposed that everybody present should accompany him in a body to the
stage-door, and be witnesses to anything that the thief-taker had
to say or do; it being determined beforehand that in the event of
his being insolent, he should be summarily put into the New River.
Accordingly, they went down in a body, bearing Joe in the centre; and
sure enough at the door stood Old Lucas _in propriâ personâ_.

"Now, then, what's the matter?" said the leader of the guard; upon
which Grimaldi summoned up courage, and echoing the inquiry, said,
"What's the matter?" too.

"You must come with me to Hatton Garden," said the constable, in a
gruff voice. "Come, I can't afford to lose any more time."

Here arose a great outcry, mingled with various exclamations of,
"Where's your warrant?" and many consignments of Mr. Lucas to the
warmest of all known regions.

"Where's your warrant?" cried Davis, when the noise had in some measure

The officer deigned no direct reply to this inquiry, but looking at
Grimaldi, demanded whether he was ready; in answer to which question
the whole party shouted "No!" with tremendous emphasis.

"Look here, Lucas," said Dubois, stepping forward; "you are an old
scoundrel!--no one knows that better, or perhaps could prove it easier,
than I. Now, so far as concerns Mr. Grimaldi, all we have got to say
is, either show us a warrant which authorizes you to take him into
custody, or take yourself into custody and take yourself off under
penalty of a ducking."

This speech was received with a shout of applause, not only by the
speaker's companions, but by several idlers who had gathered round.

"I'm not a-talking to you, Mr. Dubois," said Lucas, as soon as he could
make himself heard;--"Mr. Grimaldi's my man. Now, sir, will you come
along with me?"

"Not without a warrant," said the rope-dancer.

"Not without a warrant," added Davis.

"Not upon any consideration whatever," said Dubois.

"Don't attempt to touch him without a warrant; or--"

"Or what?" inquired Lucas; "or what, Mr. Dubois? eh, sir!"

The answer was lost in a general chorus of "The River!"

This intimation, pronounced in a very determined manner, had a visible
effect upon the officer, who at once assuming a more subdued tone, said,

"Fact is, that I've not got a warrant; (a shout of derision;) fact is,
it's not often that I'm asked for warrants, because people generally
knows that I'm in authority, and thinks that's sufficient. (Another.)
However, if Mr. Grimaldi and his friends press the objection, I shall
not urge his going with me now, provided he promises and they promises
on his behalf to attend at Hatton Garden Office, afore Mr. Blamire, at
eleven o'clock to-morrow morning."

This compromise was at once acceded to, and Old Lucas turned to go
away; but he did not entirely escape even upon this occasion, for while
the above conversation was going forward at the door, the muster of
people collected around had increased to a pretty large concourse. The
greater part of them knew by sight both Grimaldi and the constable; and
as the latter was about to depart, the lookers-on pressed round him,
and a voice from the crowd cried out, "What's the matter, Joe?"

"The matter is this, gentlemen," said Dubois, returning to the top of
the steps, and speaking with great vehemence and gesticulation:--"This
rascal, gentlemen," pointing to the constable, "wants to drag Joe
Grimaldi to prison, gentlemen."

"What for?--what for?" cried the crowd.

"For doing nothing at all, gentlemen," replied the orator, who had
reserved the loudest key of his voice for the concluding point.

This announcement was at once received with a general yell, which
caused the constable to quicken his pace very considerably. The mob
quickened theirs also, and in a few seconds the whole area of Sadler's
Wells yard rang with whoops and yells almost as loud as those which
had assailed the ox in the morning; and Mr. Lucas made the best of his
way to his dwelling, amidst a shower of mud, rotten apples, and other
such missiles. The performances in the theatre went off as usual. After
all was over, Grimaldi returned home to supper, having been previously
assured by his friends that they would one and all accompany him to
the Police-office in the morning, and having previously arranged
so as to secure as a witness the young gentleman who had given the
first information regarding the views and intentions of the worthy

At the appointed hour, Grimaldi and his friends repaired to the
Police-office, and were duly presented to Mr. Blamire, the sitting
magistrate, who, having received them with much politeness, requested
Old Lucas, who was then and there in attendance, to state his case,
which he forthwith proceeded to do.

He deposed, with great steadiness of nerve, that Joseph Grimaldi had
been guilty of hunting, and inciting and inducing other persons to
hunt, an over-driven ox, in the fields of Pentonville, much to the
hazard and danger of his Majesty's subjects, much to the worry and
irritation of the animal, and greatly to the hazard of his being lashed
into a state of furious insanity. Mr. Lucas deposed to having seen
with his own eyes the offence committed, and in corroboration of his
eyesight produced his companions of the morning, who confirmed his
evidence in every particular. This, Mr. Lucas said, was his case.

The accused being called upon for his defence, stated the circumstances
as they had actually occurred, and produced his young acquaintance,
who, as it appeared, was the son of a most respectable gentleman in the
neighbourhood. The young gentleman confirmed the account of the affair
which had been given last; deposed to the accused not having been in
the field more than two or three minutes altogether; to his never
having been near the ox-hunters; and to his having gone to the theatre
by a route much longer than his ordinary one, for the express purpose
of avoiding the ox and his hunters, Mr. Lucas and his companions.

The magistrate heard all this conflicting evidence upon an apparently
very unimportant question, with a great deal more patience and coolness
than some of his successors have been in the habit of displaying; and
after hearing it, and various audible and unreserved expressions of
opinions from Mr. Dubois, and others, touching the respectability and
probity of Lucas, turned to the accused, and said--

"Mr. Grimaldi, I entirely believe your version of the affair to be
the correct and true one; but I am bound to act upon the deposition
of this constable and his witnesses, and accordingly I must, however
unwillingly, convict you in some penalty. I shall take care, though,
that your punishment is one which shall neither be heavy to you nor
serviceable to the complainant. I hereby order you to pay a fine
of five shillings, and to be discharged. As to you, Lucas, I would
recommend you to be careful how you conduct yourself in future, and
more especially to be careful as to the facts which you state upon

After this decision, which his friends and himself looked upon as
a complete triumph, they bowed to the magistrate and quitted the
Police-office, Grimaldi previously paying the five shillings which he
had been fined, and an additional shilling for his discharge. It was
then proposed and unanimously agreed that the party should adjourn to
a tavern,[24] called the King of Prussia (now bearing the sign of the
Clown), opposite Sadler's Wells theatre, for the purpose of having some
lunch; and thither they proceeded, and made themselves very merry with
the mortified looks of Old Lucas, mingling with their mirth some dry
and abstruse speculations upon the nature of the laws which compelled
a magistrate to accept the oath of a reputed perjurer, and to convict
upon it a person whom he conscientiously believed to be innocent of the
offence laid to his charge.

While they were thus engaged, some person came running into the room,
and, looking hastily round, cried, "Joe! Joe! here's Old Lucas again."
The friends began to laugh, and Grimaldi joined them, thinking that
this was but a jest; but he was greatly mistaken, for in less than a
minute Lucas entered the room.

"Why, Mister Constable!" exclaimed Dubois, rising angrily, "how dare
you come here?"

"Because I have business," surlily replied Lucas. "Mr. Grimaldi has
been very properly convicted of an offence at the Police-office, and
sentenced to pay a fine of five shillings, besides one shilling more
for his discharge: neither of these sums has he paid, so he is still my

"Not paid?" exclaimed the accused. "Why, I paid the six shillings
before I left the office."

This statement was corroborated by the friends, and the mute but
eloquent testimony of his purse, which contained precisely that sum
less than it had done an hour previously.

"It's no use," said Lucas, grinning: "pay the money, or come on with

"I have already paid all that was required, and I will neither give you
another farthing, nor allow myself to be made prisoner," was the reply.

"We'll see that," responded the constable, advancing.

"Take care," said Grimaldi, warningly; "venture to touch me, and to the
ground you go!"

Not a bit daunted, Old Lucas darted upon him, dragged him from his
seat, and attempted to force him towards the door; in doing which he
managed to tear his waistcoat and shirt-collar literally to ribands.
Until then he had remained quite cool, merely acting upon the
defensive; but now he gave way to his rage, and fulfilled his threat
to the letter by giving him a blow which felled him to the ground,
and caused his nose to bleed in a manner neither sentimental nor

He, however, immediately rose again, and producing his staff, was
about, thus strengthened, to renew the combat, when a gentleman who
chanced to be sitting in the room, a stranger to the party, rose, and
drawing from his pocket a silver staff, shook it at Lucas, and said,
"I will have no more of this violence! Let all parties adjourn to the
Police-office; and if Mr. Grimaldi's tale be true, and your purpose be
merely that of endeavouring to extort money, as I have no doubt it is,
I will take care that things be laid properly before the magistrate."

Lucas, who appeared to succumb before the vision of the silver staff,
surlily assented, and they all presently presented themselves for the
second time that day before Mr. Blamire, who was greatly astonished at
their re-appearance, and greatly surprised at the altered appearance
of Old Lucas's face. The magistrate, moreover, seemed to know the
silver-staffed gentleman very well, and greeted him cordially.

"Well," said Mr. Blamire, after the bustle of entrance had ceased,
"what's the matter, now? Speak, you, Lucas!"

"Your worship," said the person called upon, "Mr. Grimaldi was fined
five shillings just now, and had to pay one for his discharge, all of
which he left the office without doing."

"Indeed!--is that true?" inquired the magistrate of the clerk, in an
under tone.

"No, sir," replied the latter, with a slight but meaning smile.

"Go on, sir," said Mr. Blamire, addressing Lucas.

Lucas was a little abashed at the "aside" confab between the magistrate
and his clerk; but, affecting not to hear it, he continued, "Of
course, therefore, he still remained my prisoner; and I followed him,
and insisted upon his paying the money. This he refused: I therefore
collared him, for the purpose of making him return here, and in so
doing I tore his shirt and waistcoat. The moment he perceived I had
done so, he----"

Lucas paused for an instant, and Mr. Blamire filled up the sentence by

"He gave you a blow on the nose?"

"Exactly so, sir," said Lucas, eagerly.

"And very well you merited it," added the magistrate, in a tone which
caused a general roar of laughter. "Well, Mr. Grimaldi, let us hear
what _you_ have to say."

He briefly recounted the circumstances; and when he had finished, the
unknown with the silver staff advanced and corroborated the statement,
making several severe remarks upon the private intentions and violent
manner of Lucas.

"Who," says Grimaldi, with profound respect and an air of great
mystery,--"Who this gentleman was, I never could ascertain; but that he
was a person possessing a somewhat high degree of authority was evident
to me from the great respect paid to him at the Police-office. Some one
afterwards told me he was a city marshal, possessing power to exercise
his authority without the city; but I know not whether he was so or

After this disguised potentate had given his testimony, which rendered
the matter conclusive, Mr. Blamire said, "Place Lucas at the bar;"
which being done, the magistrate proceeded to mulct him in a penalty of
five pounds, the money to go to the poor of the parish, and likewise
ordered him to make Grimaldi every necessary reparation and amendment
for the results of his violence.

On this sentence being pronounced, Old Lucas foamed at the mouth in
a manner not unlike the over-driven ox, the original cause of his
disaster, and protested, with many disrespectful oaths and other
ebullitions of anger, that he would not pay one farthing; upon which
the magistrate, nothing daunted, commanded him to be locked up
forthwith, which was done to the great delight and admiration, not only
of the friends and other spectators, but of the officers also, who,
besides being in duty bound to express their admiration of all the
magistrate did, participated in the general dislike of Old Lucas, as
the persons best acquainted with his perjury and villany.

The friends once again bade the magistrate good morning, and soon
afterwards dispersed to their several homes. They heard next day that
Old Lucas, after having been under lock and key for six hours, the
whole of which time he devoted to howls and imprecations, paid the
fine. A few hours after he was set at liberty, he wrote a very penitent
letter to Grimaldi, expressing his great regret for what had occurred,
and his readiness to pay for the spoiled shirt and waistcoat, upon
being made acquainted with the amount of damage done. Grimaldi thought
it better to let the matter remain where it did, thinking that, setting
the broken nose against the torn shirt and waistcoat, Lucas was already
sufficiently punished.

And after this, "Old Lucas" never did anything more terrible, connected
with the Sadler's Wells company, at least, and, there is reason to
believe, shortly afterwards lost his situation. Whether he did so or
not is no great matter, further than that he appears to have been
a most unfit personage to have been intrusted with any species of

From this time forward, for several months, all went merry as a
marriage bell. On the 11th of May following the little adventure just
recorded, the marriage bell went too, for he was married to Miss Maria
Hughes, at St. George's, Hanover-square, with the full consent and
approbation of the young lady's parents, and to the unbounded joy of
his own mother, by whom she had been, from her earliest youth, beloved
as her daughter.

Five days after the wedding, the young couple paid their first visit to
Mr. and Mrs. Hughes. After sitting a short time, Grimaldi left his wife
there and went to the theatre, where a rehearsal in which he was wanted
had been called for that morning. Upon entering the yard of Sadler's
Wells, in which the different members of the company were strolling
about until the rehearsal commenced, he was accosted by Richer, with,
"Joe, may I inquire the name of the lady with whom I saw you walking
just now?"

"Nay, you need not ask him," cried Dubois; "I can tell you. It was Miss
Maria Hughes."

"I beg your pardon," interrupted Grimaldi; "that is not the lady's

"No!" exclaimed Dubois. "Why, I could have sworn it was Miss Hughes."

"You would have sworn wrong, then," replied he. "The lady's name _was_
Hughes once, I grant; but on Friday last I changed it to Grimaldi."

His friends were greatly surprised at this intelligence; but they lost
no time in disseminating it throughout the theatre. Congratulations
poured in upon him; and so great was the excitement occasioned by the
fact of "Joe Grimaldi's marriage" becoming known, that the manager,
after vainly endeavouring to proceed with the rehearsal, gave up the
task, and dismissed the company for that morning. In the evening
they had a supper at the theatre to commemorate the event; and on
the following Sunday, Joe gave a dinner to the carpenters of the
theatre, for the same purpose. In the long-run all the members of
the establishment, from the highest to the lowest, participated in
the long-expected happiness of their single-hearted and good-natured

In the summer of this year, he lost a guinea wager in a somewhat
ludicrous manner--in a manner sufficiently ludicrous to justify in
this place the narration of the joke which gave rise to it. He was
acquainted at that time with a very clever and popular writer, who
happened to have occasion to pass through Gravesend on the same day
as Joe had to go there; and, as they met shortly before, they agreed
to travel in a post-chaise and share the expense between them. They
arranged to start early in the morning, as Grimaldi had to play at
Sadler's Wells at night, and did so.

The journey was very pleasant, and the hours passed quickly away. His
companion, who was a witty and humorous fellow, was in great force upon
the occasion, and, exerting all his powers, kept him laughing without
intermission. About three miles on the London side of Dartford, the
friend, whose buoyant and restless spirits prevented his sitting in
any one position for a minute, began incessantly poking his head out
of one or other of the chaise windows, and making various remarks on
the landscape, and the persons or vehicles passing to and fro. While
thus engaged, he happened to catch sight of a man on horseback, about a
quarter of a mile behind, who was travelling in the same direction with
themselves, and was coming up after the chaise at a rapid pace.

"Look, Joe!" he said; "see that fellow behind! Well mounted, is he not?"

Grimaldi looked back, and saw the man coming along at a fast trot. He
was a stout, hearty fellow, dressed like a small farmer, as he very
probably was, and was riding a strong horse, of superior make, good
pace, and altogether an excellent roadster.

"Yes, I see him," was his reply. "He's well enough, but I see nothing
particular about him or the horse either."

"Nor is there anything particular about either of them that I am aware
of," answered his companion; "but wouldn't you think, judging from the
appearance of his nag, and the rate at which he is riding, that he
would pass our chaise in a very short time?"

"Most unquestionably; he will pass us in a few seconds."

"I'll tell you what, Joe, I'll bet you a guinea he does not," said the


"Well, will you take it?"

"No, no; it would be robbing you."

"Oh, leave me to judge about that," said the friend; "I shall not
consider it a robbery: and, so far from that, I'm willing to make the
bet more in your favour.--Come, I'll bet you a guinea, Joe, that that
man don't pass our chaise between this and Dartford."

"Done!" said Grimaldi, well knowing that, unless some sudden and most
unaccountable change took place in the pace at which the man was
riding, he must pass in a minute or two--"done!"

"Very good," said the other.--"Stop--I forgot: remember that if you
laugh or smile, so that he can see you, between this and Dartford, you
will have lost. Is that agreed?"

"Oh, certainly," replied Grimaldi, very much interested to know by what
mode his friend proposed to win the wager,--"certainly."

He did not remain very long in expectation: the horseman drew nearer
and nearer, and the noise of his horse's feet was heard close behind
the chaise, when the friend, pulling a pistol from his pocket, suddenly
thrust his head and shoulders out of the window and presented the
pistol full at the face of the unconscious countryman, assuming at the
same time a ferocious countenance and menacing air which were perfectly
alarming. Grimaldi was looking through the little window at the back
of the chaise, and was like to die with laughter when he witnessed the
effect produced by this singular apparition.

The countryman was coming along at the same hard trot, with a very
serious and business-like countenance, when, all of a sudden, half a
man and the whole of a pistol were presented from the chaise window;
which he no sooner beheld, than all at once he pulled up with a jerk
which almost brought him into a ditch, and threw the horse upon his
haunches. His red face grew very pale, but he had the presence of
mind to pat his beast on the neck and soothe him in various ways,
keeping his eyes fixed on the chaise all the time and looking greatly
astonished. After a minute or so, he recovered himself, and, giving
his horse the spur, and a smart cut in the flank with his riding-whip,
dashed across the road, with the view of passing the chaise on the
opposite side. The probability of this attempt had been foreseen,
however, by the other party, for with great agility he transferred
himself to the other window, and, thrusting out the pistol with the
same fierce and sanguinary countenance as before, again encountered
the farmer's gaze; upon which he pulled up, with the same puzzled and
frightened expression of countenance, and stared till his eyes seemed
double their natural size.

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_The Wager._]

The scene became intensely droll. The countryman's horse stood stock
still; but as the chaise rolled on, he gradually suffered him to fall
into a gentle trot, and, with an appearance of deep perplexity, was
evidently taking council with himself how to act. Grimaldi had laughed
in a corner till he was quite exhausted, and seeing his guinea was
fairly lost, determined to aid the joke. With this view, he looked
out of the vacant window, and, assuming an authoritative look, nodded
confidentially to the horseman, and waved his hand as if warning him
not to come too near. This caution the countryman received with much
apparent earnestness, frequently nodding and waving his hand after
the same manner, accompanying the pantomime with divers significant
winks, to intimate that he understood the gentleman was insane, and
that he had accidentally obtained possession of the dangerous weapon.
Grimaldi humoured the notion of his being the keeper, occasionally
withdrawing his head from the window to indulge in peals of laughter.
The friend, bating not an inch of his fierceness, kept the pistol
pointed at the countryman; and the countryman followed on behind at
an easy pace on the opposite side of the road, continuing to exchange
most expressive pantomime with one of its best professors, and to
reciprocate, as nearly as he could, all the nods and winks and shrugs
with which Grimaldi affected to deplore the situation of his unhappy
friend. And so they went into Dartford. When they reached the town, the
friend resumed his seat, and Grimaldi paid the guinea. The instant the
pistol barrel was withdrawn, the countryman set spurs to his horse, and
scoured through the town to the great astonishment of its inhabitants,
at full gallop.

The success of this guinea wager put the friend upon telling a story
of a wager of Sheridan's which was much talked of at the time, and ran

George the Fourth, when Prince of Wales, used occasionally to spend
certain hours of the day in gazing from the windows of a club-house in
St. James's-street:--of course he was always surrounded by some of his
chosen companions, and among these Sheridan, who was then the Drury
Lane lessee, was ever first and foremost. The Prince and Sheridan in
these idle moments had frequently remarked among the passers backwards
and forwards, a young woman who regularly every day carried through the
street a heavy load of crockery-ware, and who, the Prince frequently
remarked, must be possessed of very great strength and dexterity to be
able to bear so heavy a burden with so much apparent ease, and to carry
it in the midst of such a crowd of passengers without ever stumbling.

One morning, as usual, she made her appearance in the street from
Piccadilly, and Sheridan called the Prince's attention to the

"Here she is," said Sheridan.

"Who?" inquired the Prince.

"The crockery-girl," replied Sheridan; "and more heavily laden than

"Not more so than usual, I think," said the Prince.

"Pardon me, your Highness, I think I'm right. Oh, dear me, yes! it's
decidedly a larger basket, a much larger basket," replied Sheridan.
"Good God, she staggers under it! Ah! she has recovered herself. Poor
girl, poor girl!"

The Prince had watched the girl very closely, but the symptoms of
exhaustion which Sheridan had so feelingly deplored were nevertheless
quite invisible to him.

"She will certainly fall," continued Sheridan, in a low abstracted
tone; "that girl will fall down before she reaches this house."

"Pooh, pooh!" said the Prince. "_She_ fall!--nonsense! she is too well
used to it."

"She will," said Sheridan.

"I'll bet you a cool hundred she does not," replied the Prince.

"Done!" cried Sheridan.

"Done!" repeated his Royal Highness.

The point of the story is, that the girl _did fall down just before
she reached the club-house_. It was very likely an accident, inasmuch
as people seldom fall down on purpose, especially when they carry
crockery; but still there were not wanting some malicious persons who
pretended to trace the tumble to another source. At all events, it was
a curious coincidence, and a strong proof of the accuracy of Sheridan's
judgment in such matters, any way.

The friend told this story while they were changing horses, laughing
very much when he had finished, as most people's friends do: and, as
if it had only whetted his appetite for fun, at once looked out for
another object on whom to exercise his turn for practical joking. The
chaise, after moving very slowly for some yards, came to a dead stop
behind some heavy waggons which obstructed the road. This stoppage
chanced to occur directly opposite the principal inn, from one of the
coffee-room windows of which, on the first floor, a gentleman was
gazing into the street. He was a particularly tall, big man, wearing a
military frock and immense mustachios, and eyeing the people below with
an air of much dignity and grandeur. The jester's eyes no sooner fell
upon this personage than he practised a variety of devices to attract
his attention, such as coughing violently, sneezing, raising the window
of the chaise and letting it fall again with a great noise, and tapping
loudly at the door. At length he clapped his hands and accompanied
the action with a shrill scream; upon which the big man looked down
from his elevation with a glare of profound scorn, mingled with some
surprise. Their eyes no sooner met, than the man in the chaise assumed
a most savage and unearthly expression of countenance, which gave him
all the appearance of an infuriated maniac. After grimacing in a manner
sufficiently uncouth to attract the sole and undivided attention of
the big man, he suddenly produced the pistol from his pocket, and,
pretending to take a most accurate aim at the warrior's person, cocked
it and placed his hand upon the trigger.

The big man's face grew instantly blanched; he put his hands to his
head, made a step, or rather stagger back, and instantly disappeared,
having either fallen or thrown himself upon the floor. The friend put
his pistol in his pocket without the most remote approach to a smile
or the slightest change of countenance, and Grimaldi sank down to the
bottom of the chaise nearly suffocated with laughter.

At Gravesend they parted, the friend going on in the same chaise to
Dover, and Grimaldi, after transacting the business which brought him
from town, returning to play at the theatre at night; all recollection
even of the "Dartford Blues" fading as he passed through the town in
his way home, before the exploits of his merry friend, which afforded
him matter for diversion until he reached London.


[24] In St. John Street Road.


1798 to 1801.

     Partiality of George the Third for Theatrical
        Entertainments--Sheridan's kindness to Grimaldi--His
        domestic affliction and severe distress--The production of
        Harlequin Amulet a new era in Pantomime--Pigeon-fancying and
        Wagering--His first Provincial Excursion with Mrs. Baker, the
        eccentric Manageress--John Kemble and Jew Davis, with a new
        reading--Increased success at Maidstone and Canterbury--Polite
        interview with John Kemble.

The summer passed pleasantly away, the whole of Grimaldi's spare time
being devoted to the society of his wife and her parents, until the
departure of the latter from London for Weymouth, of which theatre Mr.
Hughes was the proprietor. It is worthy of remark, as a proof of the
pleasure which George the Third derived from theatrical entertainments,
that when the court were at Weymouth, he was in the habit of visiting
the theatre at least four times a week; generally on such occasions
commanding the performance, and taking with him a great number of the
noblemen and ladies in his suite.

Drury Lane opened for the season on the 15th of September, and Sadler's
Wells closed ten days afterwards: but while the latter circumstance
released Grimaldi from his arduous labours at one theatre, the former
one did not tend to increase them at the other, for pantomime was
again eschewed at Drury Lane, and "Blue Beard," "Feudal Times," and
"Lodoiska" reigned paramount. At the commencement of the season he met
Mr. Sheridan, when the following colloquy ensued:--

"Well, Joe, still living--eh?"

"Yes, sir; and what's more, married as well."

"Oho! Pretty young woman, Joe?"

"Very pretty, sir."

"That's right! You must lead a domestic life, Joe: nothing like a
domestic life for happiness, Joe: I lead a domestic life myself." And
then came one of those twinkling glances which no one who ever saw them
can forget the humour of.

"I mean to do so, sir."

"Right. But, Joe, what will your poor little wife do while you are at
the theatre of an evening? Very bad thing, Joe, to let a pretty young
wife be alone of a night. I'll manage it for you, Joe: I'll put her
name down upon the free list; herself and friend.--But, mind, it's a
female friend, that's all, Joe; any other might be dangerous,--eh,
Joe?" And away he went without pausing for a moment to listen to
Grimaldi's expressions of gratitude for his thoughtful kindness.
However, he did not omit performing his friendly offer, and his wife,
availing herself of it, went to the theatre almost every night he
played, sat in the front of the house until he had finished, and then
they went home together.

In this pleasant and quiet manner the autumn and winter passed rapidly
away. In the following year, 1799, it became apparent that his young
wife would shortly make him a father; and while this prospect increased
the happiness and attention of her husband and parents, it added little
to their slight stock of cares and troubles, for they were too happy
and contented to entertain any other but cheerful anticipations of the

There is little to induce one to dwell upon a sad and melancholy
chapter in the homely life of every-day. After many months of hope, and
some of fear, and many lingering changes from better to worse, and back
and back again, his dear wife, whom he had loved from a boy with so
much truth and feeling, and whose excellences to the last moment of his
life, many years afterwards, were the old man's fondest theme, died.

"Poor Joe! Oh, Richard, be kind to poor Joe!" were the last words she
uttered. They were addressed to her brother. A few minutes afterwards,
he sat beside a corpse.

They found in her pocket-book a few pencilled lines, beneath which she
had written her wish that when she died they might be inscribed above
her grave:--

    Earth walks on Earth like glittering gold;
    Earth says to Earth, We are but mould:
    Earth builds on Earth castles and towers;
    Earth says to Earth, All shall be ours.

They were placed upon the tablet erected to her memory. She died on
the 18th of October, 1799, and was buried in the family vault of Mr.
Hughes, at St. James's, Clerkenwell.[25]

In the first passion of his grief the widower went distracted. Nothing
but the constant attention and vigilance of his friends, who never left
him alone, would have prevented his laying violent hands upon his life.
There were none to console him, except with sympathy, for his friends
were hers, and all mourned no common loss.

Mr. Richard Hughes, the brother, never forgot his sister's dying words,
but proved himself under all circumstances and at all times Grimaldi's
firm and steady friend. The poor fellow haunted the scenes of his
old hopes and happiness for two months, and was then summoned to the
theatre to set the audience in a roar; and chalking over the seams
which mental agony had worn in his face, was hailed with boisterous
applause in the merry Christmas pantomime!

The title of this pantomime, which was produced at Drury Lane,
was, "Harlequin Amulet; or, the Magic of Mona;" it was written by
Mr. Powell, and produced under the superintendence of Mr. James
Byrne, the ballet-master. It was highly successful, running without
intermission from the night of its production until Easter, 1800. This
harlequinade was distinguished by several unusual features besides its
great success; foremost among them was an entire change both in the
conception of the character of Harlequin and in the costume. Before
that time it had been customary to attire the Harlequin in a loose
jacket and trousers, and it had been considered indispensable that
he should be perpetually attitudinizing in five positions, and doing
nothing else but passing instantaneously from one to the other, and
never pausing without being in one of the five. All these conventional
notions were abolished by Byrne, who this year made his first
appearance as Harlequin, and made Harlequin a very original person to
the play-going public. His attitudes and jumps were all new, and his
dress was infinitely improved: the latter consisted of a white silk
shape, fitting without a wrinkle, and into which the variegated silk
patches were woven, the whole being profusely covered with spangles,
and presenting a very sparkling appearance. The innovation was not
resisted: the applause was enthusiastic; "nor," says Grimaldi, "was it
undeserved; for, in my judgment, Mr. James Byrne[26] was at that time
the best Harlequin on the boards, and never has been excelled, even if
equalled, since that period."

The alteration soon became general, and has proved a lasting one,
Harlequin having been ever since attired as upon this memorable
occasion, in accordance with the improved taste of his then

Grimaldi's part in this production was a singularly arduous and
wearying one: he had to perform Punch, and to change afterwards to
Clown. He was so exceedingly successful in the first-mentioned part,
that Mr. Sheridan wished him to preserve the character throughout,--a
suggestion which he was compelled resolutely to oppose. His reason
for doing so will not be considered extraordinary, when we inform the
present generation that his personal decorations consisted of a large
and heavy hump on his chest, and a ditto, ditto, on his back; a high
sugar-loaf cap, a long-nosed mask, and heavy wooden shoes;--the weight
of the whole dress, and of the humps, nose, and shoes especially, being
exceedingly great. Having to exercise all his strength in this costume,
and to perform a vast quantity of what in professional language is
termed "comic business," he was compelled by fatigue, at the end of
the sixth scene, to assume the Clown's dress, and so relieve himself
from the immense weight which he had previously endured. "The part
of Columbine," he tells us, "was supported by Miss Menage;[27] and
admirably she sustained it. I thought at the time that, taking them
together, I never saw so good a Harlequin and Columbine; and I still
entertain the same opinion."

"Harlequin Amulet" being played every night until Easter, he had plenty
to do: but although his body was fatigued, his mind was relieved by
constant employment, and he had little time, in the short intervals
between exertion and repose, to brood over the heavy misfortune which
had befallen him. Immediately after his wife's death, he had removed
from the scene of his loss to a house in Baynes' Row, and he gradually
became more cheerful and composed.

In this new habitation he devoted his leisure hours to the breeding
of pigeons, and for this purpose had a room, which fanciers termed a
_dormer_, constructed at the top of his house, where he used to sit for
hours together, watching the birds as they disported in the air above
him. At one time he had upwards of sixty pigeons, all of the very first
order and beauty, and many of them highly valuable: in proof of which,
he notes down with great pride a bet, concerning one pigeon of peculiar
talents, made with Mr. Lambert, himself a pigeon-fancier.

This Mr. Lambert being, as Grimaldi says, "like myself, a
pigeon-fancier, but, unlike myself, a confirmed boaster," took it into
his head to declare and pronounce his birds superior in all respects
to those in any other collection. This comprehensive declaration
immediately brought all the neighbouring pigeon-breeders up in arms;
and Grimaldi, taking up the gauntlet on behalf of the inmates of the
"dormer," accepted a bet offered by Lambert, that there was no pigeon
in his flight capable of accomplishing twenty miles in twenty minutes.
The sum at stake was twenty pounds. The money was posted, the bird
exhibited, the day on which the match should come off named, and the
road over which the bird was to fly agreed upon--the course being from
the twentieth mile-stone on the Great North Road to Grimaldi's house.
At six o'clock in the morning, the bird was consigned to the care of a
friend, with instructions to throw it up precisely as the clock struck
twelve, at the appointed mile-stone, near St. Albans; and the friend
and the pigeon, accompanied by a gentleman on behalf of the opposite
party, started off, all parties concerned first setting their watches
by Clerkenwell church. It was a very dismal day, the snow being very
deep on the ground, and a heavy sleet falling, very much increasing the
odds against the bird, the weather, of course, having great effect,
and the snow frequently blinding it. There was no stipulation made,
however, for fine weather; so at twelve o'clock the two parties,
accompanied by several friends, took up their station in the dormer. In
exactly nineteen minutes afterwards, the pigeon alighted on the roof of
the house. An offer of twenty pounds was immediately made for the bird,
but it was declined.

The pigeons, however, did not always keep such good hours, or rather
minutes; for sometimes they remained away so long on their aërial
excursions, that their owner gave them up in despair. On one occasion
they were absent upwards of four hours. As their owner was sitting
disconsolately, concluding they were gone for ever, his attention was
attracted by the apparently unaccountable behaviour of three birds
who had been left behind, and who, with their heads elevated in the
air, were all gazing with intense earnestness at one portion of the
horizon. After straining his eyes for a length of time without avail,
their master began to fancy that he discerned a small black speck a
great height above him. He was not mistaken, for by and by the black
speck turned out, to his infinite joy, to be the lost flight of pigeons
returning home, after a journey probably of several hundred miles.

When the pantomime had ceased to run, Grimaldi had but little to do at
Drury Lane, his duties being limited to a combat or some such business,
in "Lodoiska," "Feudal Times," and other spectacles, which he could
well manage to reach the theatre in time for, after the performances at
Sadler's Wells were over. Drury Lane closed in June, and re-opened in
September, ten days after the season at Sadler's Wells had terminated;
but as he did not expect to be called into active service until
December, he played out of town, for the first time in his life, in the
month of November, 1801.

There was at that time among the Sadler's Wells company a clever man
named Lund, who, in the vacation time, usually joined Mrs. Baker's
company on the Rochester circuit. His benefit was fixed to take place
at Rochester, on the 15th, and coming to town, he waited on Grimaldi
and entreated him to play for him on the occasion. Whenever it was in
his power to accede to such a request it was his invariable custom not
to refuse; he therefore willingly returned an answer in the affirmative.

He reached Rochester about noon on the day fixed for the benefit,
rehearsed half-a-dozen pantomime scenes, and having dined, went to
the theatre, every portion of which was crammed before six o'clock. On
his appearance, he was received with a tremendous shout of welcome;
his two comic songs were each encored three times, and the whole
performances went off with great _éclat_. Mrs. Baker, the manager or
manageress, at once offered him an engagement for the two following
nights, the receipts of the house to be divided between them. His
acceptance of this proposal delighted the old lady so much, that the
arrangement was no sooner concluded than she straightway walked upon
the stage, dressed in the bonnet and shawl in which she had been taking
the money and giving the checks, and in an audible voice gave out the
entertainments herself, to the immense delight of the audience, who
shouted vociferously.

This old lady appears to have been a very droll personage. She managed
all her affairs herself, and her pecuniary matters were conducted on a
principle quite her own. She never put her money out at interest, or
employed it in any speculative or profitable manner, but kept it in
six or eight large punch-bowls, which always stood upon the top shelf
of a bureau, except when she was disposed to make herself particularly
happy, and then she would take them down singly, and after treating
herself with a sly look at their contents, put them up again.

This old lady had a factotum to whom attached the elegant sobriquet of
"Bony Long;" the gentleman's name being Long, and his appearance bony.
At a supper after the play, at which the guests were Lund, Grimaldi,
Henry and William Dowton (sons of the celebrated actor of that name),
the manageress, and "Bony," it was arranged that Grimaldi should
perform Scaramouch, in "Don Juan," on the following night. A slight
difficulty occurred, in consequence of his having brought from London
no other dress than a clown's; but Mrs. Baker provided against it by
sending for one Mr. Palmer, then a respectable draper and tailor at
Rochester, who, having received the actor's instructions, manufactured
for him the best Scaramouch dress he ever wore. The assurances
which were given the artist at the time that his abilities lay in
the theatrical way were not without good foundation, for two years
afterwards he left Rochester, came to London, and became principal
master-tailor at Covent Garden Theatre. He held the situation for some
years, and then removed to Drury Lane and filled the same office, which
he still continues to hold.

On the second night, the house was filled in every part, and a great
number of persons were turned away. On the following evening, on which
he made his last appearance, and repeated the part of Scaramouch
together with that of Clown; the orchestra was turned into boxes, seats
were fitted up on every inch of available room behind the scenes, and
the receipts exceeded in amount those of any former occasion.

At another supper that night with Mrs. Baker, he made an arrangement
to join her company for a night or two, at Maidstone, in the following
March, provided his London engagements would admit of his doing so.
They were not at all behindhand with the money; for, at eight o'clock
next morning, "Bony Long" repaired to his lodgings, taking with him an
account of the two nights' receipts, Grimaldi's share whereof came to
160_l._, which was at once paid over to him, down upon the nail, all
in three-shilling pieces. This was an addition to his baggage which he
had not expected, and he was rather at a loss how to convey his loose
silver up to town, when he was relieved by a tavern-keeper, who being
as glad to take the silver as Grimaldi was to get notes, very soon
made the exchange, to the satisfaction of all parties. Having had this
satisfactory settlement with the old lady, Grimaldi took his leave,
and returned to town, not at all displeased with the success which had
attended his first professional excursion from London.

At Christmas, "Harlequin Amulet" was revived at Drury Lane, in place of
a new pantomime, and ran without interruption till the end of January
following; drawing as much money as it had in the previous year. It
was during this season, or about this time, that Grimaldi's old friend
Davis, or "Jew Davis," as he was called, made his first appearance at
Drury Lane. This is the man whose eccentricity gave rise to a ludicrous
anecdote of John Kemble, of which the following is a correct version:

Kemble was once "starring" in the north of England, and paid a visit
to the provincial theatre in which Jew Davis was engaged, where he
was announced for Hamlet. Every member of the little company was
necessarily called into requisition, and Jew Davis was "cast" to
play the first grave-digger. All went well until the first scene of
the fifth act, being the identical one in which Davis was called
upon to appear: and here the equanimity and good temper of Kemble
were considerably shaken: the grave-digger's representative having
contracted a habit of grimacing which, however valuable in burlesque or
farce, was far from being at all desirable in tragedy, and least of all
in that philosophical tragedy of which Hamlet is the hero. But if the
actor had contracted a habit of grimacing upon his part, the audience
upon its part had contracted an equally constant habit of laughing at
him: so the great tragedian, moralizing over the skull of Yorick, was
frequently interrupted by the loud roars of laughter attendant upon the
grave-digger's strangely comical and increasing grins.

This greatly excited the wrath of Kemble, and after the play was
finished, he remonstrated somewhat angrily with Davis upon the subject,
requesting that such "senseless buffoonery" might not be repeated
in the event of their sustaining the same parts on any subsequent
occasion. All this was far from answering the end proposed: the
peculiarities of temper belonging to Jew Davis were aroused, and
he somewhat tartly replied that he did not wish to be taught his
profession by Mr. Kemble. The latter took no further notice of the
subject, but pursued the even tenour of his way with so beneficial an
effect upon the treasury that his engagement was renewed for "a few
nights more," and on the last of these "few nights" Hamlet was again
the play performed.

As before, all went well till the grave-diggers' scene commenced;
when Kemble, while waiting for his "cue" to go on, listened bodingly
to the roars of laughter which greeted the colloquy of Davis and
his companion. At length he entered, and at the same moment, Davis
having manufactured a grotesque visage, was received with a shout of
laughter, which greatly tended to excite the anger of "King John." His
first words were spoken, but failed to make any impression: and upon
turning towards Davis, he discovered that worthy standing in the grave,
displaying a series of highly unsuitable although richly comic grimaces.

In an instant all Kemble's good temper vanished, and stamping furiously
upon the stage, he expressed his anger and indignation in a muttered
exclamation, closely resembling an oath. This ebullition of momentary
excitement produced an odd and unexpected effect. No sooner did Davis
hear the exclamation and the loud stamping of the angry actor, than he
instantly raised his hands above his head in mock terror, and, clasping
them together as if he were horrified by some dreadful spectacle,
threw into his face an expression of intense terror, and uttered a
frightful cry, half shout and half scream, which electrified his
hearers. Having done this, he very coolly laid himself flat down in
the grave, (of course disappearing from the view of the audience), nor
could any entreaties prevail upon him to emerge from it, or to repeat
one word more. The scene was done as well as it could be, without
a grave-digger, and the audience, while it was proceeding, loudly
expressed their apprehensions from time to time, "that some accident
had happened to Mr. Davis."

Some months after this, Sheridan happening to see Davis act in the
provinces, and being struck with his talents, (he was considered the
best stage Jew upon the boards,) engaged him for Drury Lane; and, in
that theatre, on the first day of the ensuing season, he was formally
introduced by Sheridan to John Kemble, then stage-manager. By the
latter he was not immediately recognised, although Kemble evidently
remembered having seen him somewhere; but, after a time, plainly
devoted to consideration, he said--

"Oh,--ah, ah! I recollect now. You, sir, you are the gentleman who
suddenly went into the grave, and forgot to come out again, I think?"

Davis admitted the fact without equivocation, and hastened to
apologise for his ill-timed jesting. The affair was related to
Sheridan, to whom, it is needless to say, it afforded the most
unbounded delight, and all three joining in a hearty laugh, dismissed
the subject.

When "Harlequin Amulet" was withdrawn, there was very little for
Grimaldi to do during the rest of the season. On the 4th of March,
therefore, in pursuance of his previous arrangement, he joined the old
lady at Maidstone, and was announced for Scaramouch.

The announcement of his name excited an unwonted sensation in this
quiet little town. As early as half-past four o'clock in the afternoon,
the street in front of the theatre was rendered quite impassable by the
vast crowd of persons that surrounded the doors. Mrs. Baker, who had
never beheld such a scene in her life-time, became at first very much
delighted, and then very much frightened. After some consideration, she
despatched a messenger for an extra quantity of constables, and upon
their arrival, threw the doors open at once, previously placing herself
in the pay-box, according to custom, to take the money.

"Now, then, pit or box, pit or gallery, box or pit?" was her constant
and uninterrupted cry.

"Pit, pit!" from half-a-dozen voices, the owners clinging to the little
desk to prevent themselves from being carried away by the crowd before
they had paid.

"Then pay two shillings,--pass on, Tom-fool!" such was the old lady's
invariable address to everybody on busy nights, without the slightest
reference to their quality or condition.

On this occasion of the doors being opened at five o'clock, when the
house was quite full she locked up the box in which the money was
deposited, and going round to the stage, ordered the performances to
be commenced immediately, remarking, with a force of reasoning which
it was impossible to controvert, that "the house could be but full,
and being full to the ceiling now, they might just as well begin at
once, and have it over so much the sooner." The performance accordingly
began without delay, to the great satisfaction of the audience, and
terminated shortly after nine o'clock.

Grimaldi was very much caressed by the townspeople, and received
several invitations to dinner next day from gentlemen residing in the
neighbourhood; all of which he declined, however, being already engaged
to the eccentric manageress, who would hardly allow him out of her
sight. Happening to walk about the town in the course of the morning,
he was recognised and saluted by the boys, in the same way as when he
walked the streets of London. On the night of his second appearance,
the house was again crowded, the door-keepers having managed, indeed,
by some ingenious contrivance, to squeeze three pounds more into it
than on the previous night. The first evening produced 154_l._, and
the second 157_l._ Of the gross sum, his share was 155_l._ 17_s._,
which was promptly paid to him after supper, on the second and last

The old lady had no sooner handed it over through the ever useful
Bony, than she proposed to Grimaldi to go on with them to Canterbury,
and to act there for the next two nights upon similar terms. He no
sooner signified his willingness to do so, than she directed bills
for distribution to be made out, and sent to the printer's instantly.
They were composed and printed by four o'clock in the morning. No
sooner did they arrive wet from the press, than men on horseback were
immediately despatched with them to Canterbury, about which city the
whole impression was circulated and posted before nine o'clock. The
old lady had theatres at Rochester, Maidstone, and Canterbury, besides
many other towns in the circuit, and the size of the whole being very
nearly the same, the scenery which was suitable to one fitted them all.
Early in the morning, the whole company left Maidstone for Canterbury,
whither Grimaldi followed in a post-chaise at his leisure. When he
arrived there about one o'clock, everything was ready; no rehearsal
was necessary, for there were the same performers, the same musicians,
scene-shifters, and lamp-lighters. Having inspected the box-book, which
notified that every takeable seat in the house was taken, he retired
to Mrs. Baker's sitting-room, which was the very model of the one
at Maidstone and at Rochester too, and found a good dinner awaiting
his arrival. Here he was, and here they all were, in the city of
Canterbury, about twenty miles from Maidstone, at one o'clock in the
day, with the same scenery, dresses, decorations, and transformations
as had been in use at the latter theatre late overnight, surrounded by
the same actors, male and female, and playing in the same pieces which
had been represented by the same men and women, and the same adjuncts,
fourteen hours before at Maidstone.

He played here two nights, as had been agreed upon, to very nearly
the same houses as at Maidstone; the first night's cash being 151_l._
3_s._, and the second 159_l._ 17_s._, of which he received 155_l._
9_s._ 6_d._ Early the next morning he returned to London with 311_l._
6_s._ 6_d._ in his pocket, the profits he had acquired during an
absence from the metropolis of only four days' duration.

Shortly after his return to town, and about a week before Easter, he
saw with great astonishment that it was announced, or, to use the
theatrical term, "underlined," in the Drury Lane bills, that "Harlequin
Amulet" would be revived at Easter, and that Mr. Grimaldi would sustain
his original character. This announcement being in direct violation of
his articles of agreement at Drury Lane, and wholly inconsistent with
the terms of his engagement at Sadler's Wells, he had no alternative
but at once to wait upon Mr. John Kemble, the stage-manager of the
former theatre, and explain to him the exact nature of his position.

He found John Kemble at the theatre, who received him with all the
grandeur and authority of demeanour which it was his habit to assume
when he was about to insist upon something which he knew would be
resisted. Grimaldi bowed, and Kemble formally and gravely touched his

"Joe," said Kemble, with great dignity, "what is the matter?"

In reply, Grimaldi briefly stated his case, pointing out that he was
engaged by his articles at Drury to play in last pieces at and after
Easter, but not in pantomime; that at Sadler's Wells he was bound to
perform in the first piece; that these distinct engagements had never
before been interfered with by the management of either theatre in the
most remote manner upon any one occasion; and that, however much he
regretted the inconvenience to which his refusal might give rise, he
could not possibly perform the part for which he had been announced at
Drury Lane.

Kemble listened to these representations with a grave and unmoved
countenance; and when Grimaldi had finished, after waiting a moment, as
if to make certain that he had really concluded, rose from his seat,
and said in a solemn tone, "Joe, one word here, sir, is as good as a
thousand--you _must_ come!"

Joe felt excessively indignant at this, not merely because _must_ is a
disagreeable word in itself, but because he conceived that the tone in
which it was uttered rendered it additionally disagreeable; so, saying
at once what the feeling of the moment prompted, he replied, "Very
good, sir. In reply to _must_, there is only one thing that can very
well be said:--I will _not_ come, sir."

"Will not, Joe,--eh?" said Kemble.

"I will not, sir," replied Grimaldi.

"Not!" said Kemble again, with great emphasis.

Grimaldi repeated the monosyllable with equal vehemence.

"Then, Joe," said Kemble, taking off his hat, and bowing in a
ghost-like manner, "I wish you a very good morning!"

Grimaldi took off his hat, made another low bow, and wished Mr. Kemble
good morning; and so they parted.

Next day his name was taken from the bills, and that of some other
performer, quite unknown to the London stage, was inserted instead;
which performer, when he did come out, went in again--for he failed so
signally that the pantomime was not played after the Monday night.

In the short interval between this interview and the Easter holidays,
Grimaldi was engaged in the study of a new part for Sadler's Wells,
which was a very prominent character in a piece bearing the sonorous
and attractive title of the "Great Devil."[28] He entertained very
strong hopes that both the part and the piece would be very successful;
and how far his expectations were borne out by subsequent occurrences,
the next chapter will show.


[25] Miss Maria Hughes, eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Hughes,
proprietor of one fourth of Sadler's Wells, of which theatre he was
also the resident manager, was married to Joe in 1800, and on October
18, in the same year, died in child-birth, in the twenty-fifth year of
her age. She was not interred in the family vault, but in the graveyard
of St. James's on Clerkenwell Green.

[26] Mr. James Byrne, father of Mr. Oscar Byrne, was one of the ballet
at Drury lane in Garrick's time; and was also employed at Sadler's
Wells in the seasons of 1775 and 1776. He died December 4, 1845, in the
eighty-ninth year of his age. Mrs. Byrne, whom many may yet remember at
Covent Garden Theatre, died a few months before her husband, on August
27, in her seventy-fourth year.

[27] Miss Bella Menage, in September, 1804, became the wife of Mr. M.
W. Sharp, the artist.

[28] The Serio-Comic Spectacle of "The Great Devil; or, The Robber of
Genoa," was produced late in the season of 1801, early in September,
and on the 14th of that month was performed for C. Dibdin's benefit.
Nicola, by Mr. Grimaldi; Bridget, by Mrs. Davis; Gattie, some years
afterwards distinguished for his performance of Mons. Morbleu, at Drury
Lane, had also a singing part in the piece.


1802 to 1803.

     Hard work to counterbalance great gains--His discharge from Drury
        Lane, and his discharge at Sadler's Wells--His return to the
        former house--Monk Lewis--Anecdote of him and Sheridan, and
        of Sheridan and the Prince of Wales--Grimaldi gains a Son and
        loses all his capital.

The "Great Devil" came out on Easter Monday,[29] and its success
entailed upon Grimaldi no inconsiderable degree of trouble and fatigue.
He played two parts in it, and, to say nothing of such slight exertions
as acting and fighting, had to change his dress no fewer than nineteen
times in the progress of the piece. It made a great noise, and ran the
whole season through.

As we had occasion to notice in the last chapter the ease with which he
acquired a large sum of money by his professional exertions, and as we
may have to describe other large gains hereafter, it may not be amiss
to show in this place how much of fatigue and harassing duty those
exertions involved, and how much of bodily toil and fatigue he had to
endure before those gains could be counted.

At Sadler's Wells he commenced the labour of the evening by playing a
long and arduous part in the before-mentioned "Great Devil;" after this
he played in some little burletta which immediately succeeded it; upon
conclusion of that he was clown to the rope-dancer; and, as a wind-up
to the entertainments, he appeared as clown in the pantomime, always
singing two comic songs in the course of the piece, both of which were
regularly encored. He had then to change his dress with all possible
speed, and take a hurried walk, and often a rapid run, to Drury Lane,
to perform in the last piece.[30]

This immense fatigue, undergone six days out of every seven, left
him at the conclusion of the week completely worn out and thoroughly
exhausted, and, beyond all doubt, by taxing his bodily energies far
beyond their natural powers, sowed the first seeds of that extreme
debility and utter prostration of strength from which, in the latter
years of his life, he suffered so much. The old man had a good right to
say that, if his gains had been occasionally great, they were won by
labour more than proportionate.

His attention to his duties and invariable punctuality were always
remarkable. To his possession in an eminent degree of these qualities,
may be attributed the fact, that during the whole of his dramatic
career, long and arduous as it was, he never once disappointed the
public, or failed in his attendance at the theatre to perform any part
for which he was cast.

He continued to attend his duties as a member of the Drury Lane company
for three months without finding that any violent consequences arose
from his interview with John Kemble. The only perceptible difference
was, that when they met, Kemble, instead of accosting him familiarly,
as he had before been accustomed to do, would pull off his hat and
make him a formal bow, which Grimaldi would return in precisely the
same manner; so that their occasional meetings were characterised by
something about half-way between politeness and absurdity. All this
pleased Grimaldi very much, but rather surprised him too, for he
had confidently expected that some rupture would have followed the
announcement of his determination not to act. He was not very long,
however, in finding that his original apprehensions were correct, for
on the 26th of June he received the following epistle:--

     "Drury Lane Theatre.


     "I am requested by the proprietors to inform you that your
     services will be dispensed with for the next ensuing season."

This notice was signed by Powell, the then prompter, and its contents
considerably annoyed and irritated the person to whom it was
addressed. To command him in the first place to perform what was out
of his engagement and out of his power, and to punish him in the
next by dispensing with his services, which of consequence involved
his dispensing with his salary, seemed exceedingly harsh and unjust
treatment. For a time he even contemplated bringing an action against
Sheridan, against whom, under the terms of his agreement, he would in
all probability have obtained a verdict; but he ultimately gave up all
idea of seeking this mode of redress, and determined to consult his
staunch and sincere friend Mr. Hughes, by whose advice he was always
guided. To that gentleman's house he repaired, and showing him the
notice he had received, inquired what in his opinion he had best do.

"Burn the letter," said Hughes, "and don't waste a minute in thinking
about it. You shall go with me to Exeter as soon as the Sadler's
Wells season is over, and stop there until it recommences. You shall
have four pounds a week all the time, and a clear benefit. It will be
strange if this does not turn out better for you than your present
engagement at Drury Lane."

He accepted the terms so kindly offered, without a moment's hesitation,
and determining to be guided by the advice of Mr. Hughes, thought no
more about the matter.

At Sadler's Wells the summer season went on very briskly until August,
when a circumstance occurred which impeded the course of his success
for some time, and might have been attended with much more dangerous
consequences. He played the first lieutenant of a band of robbers in
the before-mentioned "Great Devil,"[31] and in one scene had a pistol
secreted in his boot, which, at a certain point of interest, he drew
forth, presented at some of the characters on the stage, and fired off,
thus producing what is technically termed an effect; in the production
of which on the evening of the 14th of August, he very unintentionally
presented another effect, the consequences of which confined him to his
bed for upwards of a month. While he was in the act of drawing out the
pistol, the trigger by some accident caught in the loop of the boot,
into which (the muzzle being downwards) its contents were immediately
discharged. The boot itself puffed out to a great size, presenting a
very laughter-moving appearance to everybody but the individual in it,
who was suffering the most excruciating agony. Determined not to mar
the effect of the scene, however, by leaving the stage before it was
finished, he remained on until its conclusion; and then, when by the
assistance of several persons the boot was got off it was found that
the explosion had set fire to the stocking, which had been burning
slowly all the time he had remained upon the stage; besides which, the
wadding was still alight and resting upon the foot. He was taken home
and placed under medical care; but the accident confined him to the
house for more than a month.

At length, after a tedious, and, as it appeared to him then, almost
an interminable confinement, he resumed his duties at Sadler's Wells
Theatre, and the part also. But the effect was never more produced; for
from that time forth the pistol was worn in his belt, in compliance
with the established usages of robber-chieftains upon the stage, who,
at minor theatres especially, would be quite incomplete and out of
character without a very broad black belt, with a huge buckle, and at
least two brace of pistols stuck into it.

During this illness he received great attention and kindness from Miss
Bristow, one of the actresses at Drury Lane Theatre. She attended upon
him every morning to assist in dressing the wound, and enlivened the
hours which would otherwise have been very weary, by her company and
conversation. In gratitude for her kindness, Grimaldi married her on
the following Christmas Eve, and it may be as well to state in this
place, that with her he lived very happily for more than thirty years;
when she died.

Drury Lane opened on the 30th of September, with "As You Like It,"
and "Blue Beard," Grimaldi's chief part in this piece was a combat in
the last scene but one; which, being very effective, had always been
regularly and vociferously applauded. It was not originally in the
piece, but had been "invented," and arranged with appropriate music for
the purpose of keeping the attention of the house engaged, while the
last scene, which was a very heavy one, was being "set up." Now, if
any fresh combatant had been ready in Grimaldi's place, very probably
the piece might have gone off as well as it had theretofore, but
Kemble, who was then stage-manager, as has been before stated, totally
forgetting the reason of the combat's introduction, omitted to provide
any substitute. The omission was pointed out at rehearsal, and then he
gave directions that it should be altogether dispensed with.

The effect of this order was very unsatisfactory both to himself and
the public.

There was a very full house at night, and the play went off as well
as it could, and so did the afterpiece up to the time when the last
scene should have been displayed; but here the stage-manager discovered
his mistake too late. The last scene was not ready, it being quite
impossible to prepare it in time, and the consequence was, that the
audience, instead of looking at the combat, were left to look at each
other or at the empty stage, as they thought fit. Upon this, there
gradually arose many hisses and other expressions of disapprobation,
and at last some play-goer in the pit, who all at once remembered the
combat, shouted out very loudly for it. The cry was instantly taken
up and became universal: some demanded the combat, others required an
apology for the omission of the combat, a few called upon Kemble to
fight the combat himself, and a scene of great commotion ensued. The
exhibition of the last scene, instead of allaying the tumult, only
increased it, and when the curtain fell, it was in the midst of a storm
of hisses and disapprobation.

It so happened that Sheridan had been sitting in his own private box
with a party of friends all the evening, frequently congratulating
himself on the crowded state of the house, and repeatedly expatiating
upon the admirable manner in which both pieces went off. He was
consequently not a little annoyed at the sudden change in the temper of
the audience; and not only that, but, as he knew nothing at all about
the unlucky combat, very much confounded and amazed into the bargain.
The moment the curtain was down, he rushed on to the stage, where the
characters had formed a picture, and in a loud and alarming voice

"Let no one stir!"

Nobody did stir; and Sheridan walking to the middle of the proscenium,
and standing with his back to the curtain, said in the most solemn

"In this affair I am determined to be satisfied, and I call upon
somebody here to answer me one question. What is the cause of this
infernal clamour?"

This question was put in such an all-important way, that no one
ventured to reply until some seconds had elapsed, when Barrymore, who
played Blue Beard, stepped forward and said, that the fact was, there
had formerly been a combat between Mr. Roffey and Joe, and the audience
was dissatisfied at its not being done.

"And why was it not done, sir? Why was it not done? Where is Joe, sir?"

"Really, sir," replied Barrymore, "it is impossible for me to say where
he may be. Our old friend Joe was dismissed at the close of the last
season by the stage-manager."

At this speech Sheridan fell into a great rage, said a great many angry
things, and made a great many profoundly important statements, to the
effect that he would be master of his own house, and that nobody should
manage for him, and so forth; all of which was said in a manner more or
less polite. He concluded by directing the "call" porter of the theatre
to go immediately to "Joe's" house, and to request him to be upon the
stage at twelve precisely next day. He then took off his hat with a
great flourish, made a polite bow to the actors and actresses on the
stage, and walked very solemnly away.

He received Grimaldi very kindly next day, and reinstated him in the
situation he had previously held, adding unasked a pound a week to his
former salary, "in order," as he expressed himself, "that matters might
be arranged in a manner profoundly satisfactory."

On the day after, "Harlequin Amulet" flourished in the bills in
large letters for the following Monday; a rehearsal was called,
and during its progress Kemble took an opportunity of encountering
Grimaldi, and said, with great good humour, that he was very glad
to see him there again, and that he hoped it would be very long
before they parted company. In this expression of feeling Grimaldi
very heartily concurred; and so ended his discharge from Drury Lane
Theatre, entailing upon him no more unpleasant consequences than the
easily-borne infliction of an increased salary. So ended, also, the
Exeter scheme, which was abandoned at once by Mr. Hughes, whose only
object had been to serve his son-in-law.

"About this time," says Grimaldi, "I used frequently to see the late
Mr. M. G. Lewis, commonly called Monk Lewis, on account of his being
the author of a well-known novel, better known from its dramatic power
than from its strait-laced propriety or morality of purpose. He was an
effeminate looking man, almost constantly lounging about the green-room
of Drury Lane, and entering into conversation with the ladies and
gentlemen, but in a manner so peculiar, so namby-pamby (I cannot
think at this moment of a more appropriate term), that it was far
from pleasing a majority of those thus addressed. His writings prove
him to have been a clever man; a consummation which his conversation
would most certainly have failed signally in producing. I have often
thought that Sheridan used to laugh in his sleeve at this gentleman;
and I have, indeed, very good reason for believing that Lewis, upon
many more occasions than one, was the undisguised butt of our manager.
Be that as it may, Monk Lewis's play of the Castle Spectre was most
undoubtedly a great card for Drury Lane; it drew immense houses,
and almost invariably went off with loud applause. I have heard the
following anecdote related, which, if true, clearly proves that
Sheridan by no means thought so highly of this drama as did the public
at large. One evening it chanced that these two companions were sitting
at some tavern in the neighbourhood discussing the merits of a disputed
question and a divided bottle, when Lewis, warming with his subject,
offered to back his opinion with a bet.

"What will you wager?" inquired Sheridan, who began to doubt whether
his was not the wrong side of the argument.

"I'll bet you one night's receipts of the Castle Spectre!" exclaimed
the author.

"No," replied the manager; "that would be too heavy a wager for so
trifling a matter. I'll tell you what I'll do--I'll bet you its
intrinsic worth as a literary production!"

Lewis received these little sallies from his lively acquaintance with
the most perfect equanimity of temper, never manifesting annoyance by
action further than by passing his hand through his light-coloured
hair, or by word further than a murmured interjection of "Hum!" or

There is another little anecdote in this place which we will also leave
Grimaldi to tell in his own way.

"In the winter of the year I frequently had the honour of seeing his
late Majesty George the Fourth, then Prince of Wales, who used to
be much behind the scenes of Drury Lane, delighting everybody with
his affability, his gentlemanly manners, and his witty remarks. On
Twelfth Night, 1802, we all assembled in the green-room as usual on
that anniversary at Drury Lane Theatre, to eat cake, given by the late
Mr. Baddeley, who by his will left three guineas to be spent in the
purchase of a Twelfth-cake for the company of that theatre. In the
midst of our merriment, Sheridan, accompanied by the Prince, entered
the apartment, and the former looking at the cake, and noticing a large
crown with which it was surmounted, playfully said, 'It is not right
that a crown should be the property of a _cake_: what say you, George?'
The Prince merely laughed: and Sheridan, taking up the crown, offered
it to him, adding--

"'Will you deign to accept this trifle?'

"'Not so,' replied his highness: 'however it may be doubted, it is
nevertheless true that I prefer the cake to the crown, after all.' And
so, declining the crown, he partook of our feast with hilarity and

There was no pantomime at Drury Lane, either in 1801 or 1802;[32] nor
was any great novelty produced at Sadler's Wells in the latter year.
The year 1802, indeed, seems to have been productive of no melodramatic
wonder whatever; the most important circumstance it brought to Grimaldi
being the birth of a son on the 21st of November; an event which
afforded him much joy and happiness.

But if 1802 brought nothing remarkable with it, its successor did,
for it was ushered in with an occurrence of a rather serious nature,
the consequences of which were not very soon recovered. Whether it
was ill-fortune or want of caution, or want of knowledge of worldly
matters, it did so happen that whenever Grimaldi succeeded in scraping
together a little money, so surely did he lose it afterwards in some
strange and unforeseen manner. He had at that period been for some time
acquainted with a very respected merchant of the city of London, named
Charles Newland (not Abraham), who was supposed to have an immense
capital embarked in business, who lived in very good style, keeping
up a great appearance, and who was considered to be, in short, a very
rich man. He called at Grimaldi's house one morning in February, and
requesting a few minutes' private conversation, said hastily,

"I dare say you will be surprised, Joe, when you hear what business I
have come upon; but--but--although I am possessed of a great deal of
wealth, it is all embarked in business, and I am at this moment very
short of ready money; so I want you to lend me a few hundred pounds, if
it is quite convenient." All this was said with a brisk and careless
air, as if such slight trifles as "a few hundred pounds" were scarcely
deserving of being named.

Grimaldi had never touched the five hundred and odd pounds which he
had picked up on Tower-hill, but had added enough to make six hundred
in all. This sum he hastened to place before his friend, assuring him,
with great sincerity, that if he had possessed double or treble the
amount, he would have been happy to have lent it him with the greatest
readiness. The merchant expressed the gratification he derived from his
friendship, and giving him a bill for the money at three months' date,
shook his hand warmly, and left him.

The bill was dishonoured; the merchant became bankrupt, left England
for America, and died upon the passage out. And thus the contents of
the net purse and the bundle of notes were lost as easily as they were
gained, with the addition of some small savings besides.


[29] Sadler's Wells Theatre, the interior of which had been wholly
rebuilt since the close of the season, in 1801, opened on Easter
Monday, April 19, 1802, with an occasional burletta prelude, entitled
"Old Sadler's Ghost;" a new Comic Dance, called "The Jew Cobbler,"
in which M. Joubert, from Paris, as principal dancer, made his first
appearance in England; the Serio-Comic Pantomime of "The Great Devil,"
with alterations and new dresses; and an entirely new Comic Pantomime,
called "Harlequin Greenlander; or, The Whale Fishery." In "The Great
Devil," Bologna, jun., after an absence of eight years, played the
part of Satani, the Great Devil. Rudolpho, Mons. Gouriet; Nicola,
Mr. Grimaldi; Count Ludovico, Mr. Hartland; Bridget, Mrs. Davis; the
Countess, Madame St. Amand.

[30] This summary of Joe's exertions is over-stated: in the Spectacles
Joe generally had a part, particularly where combatants were employed;
but not in any of the little burlettas alluded to, nor was he ever
Clown to the rope: as Clown in the Pantomime, his name certainly
appears in the Sadler's Wells' announcements; but when the pantomime
was played on the same night and hour at either of the patent theatres,
Joe's part at the Wells was played by substitutes--by Hartland or
others; and by a clause in the articles of his engagement, Grimaldi
appears to have always been in a position to play at Drury Lane and
Covent Garden, to the exclusion of any demand on his services at
Sadler's Wells.

[31] The "Great Devil" ceased to be played at Sadler's Wells the last
week in May, 1802; the accident particularized as having occurred on
the 14th of August, was, therefore, not during the performance of that
piece, but on the last night of the pantomime of "St. George," in which
it was announced would be presented several unexampled and unparalleled
combats, exclusive of the combat with the Dragon, which involves St.
George in a shower of fire: the consequences, however, did not "confine
him to his bed for upwards of a month," as the bill of Monday, August
30, mentions the performance of the new serio-comic Pantomime of "Zoa,"
in which would be performed an extraordinary combat of six, by Bologna,
jun., Grimaldi, Gattie, Hartland, and others, to conclude with, fourth
time, "The Wizard's Wake; or, Harlequin's Regeneration;" Harlequin, Mr.
Bologna, jun.; Merlin, Mr. Gattie; Clown, Mr. Grimaldi.

[32] Grimaldi appears to have been much circumscribed in his
performances at the Wells in 1801. Dubois was Clown in the
harlequinades, and between him and Joe, the comicalities of the season
appear to have been divided; the comic songs being sung by Dubois,
Grimaldi, and Davis. Among the extraordinary events of this season was
the appearance in June of the late distinguished tragedian, Edmund
Kean, as "Master Carey, the Pupil of Nature," who was announced to
recite Rolla's celebrated address from the Tragedy of "Pizarro."
There was something appropriate in his first appearance at the Wells:
his great grandfather, Henry Carey, the illegitimate son of George
Saville, Marquis of Halifax, and the avowed author and composer of the
well-known ballad of "Sally in our Alley," wrote and composed many of
the musical pieces for Sadler's Wells. Though often in great distress,
and the author of many convivial songs, Harry Carey never employed his
muse in opposition to the interests of morality. Poor Harry Carey,
however, became at length the victim of poverty and despair, and
hanged himself at his lodging in Warner-street, Clerkenwell, October
4, 1743. When found dead, he had but one halfpenny in his pocket.
George Saville Carey was his posthumous child; at first a printer, he
abandoned that calling for the stage, but his abilities did not ensure
him success; and he became a lecturer and associate with Moses Kean in
his imitations of popular actors, and Lectures on Mimicry. Carey had
a daughter; and Moses Kean a brother, Edmund Kean, who made his first
appearance on the stage at the Royalty Theatre, September 9, 1788.
Edmund Kean was the father of the tragedian; and Nancy Carey gave him
birth at her father's chambers in Gray's Inn. His mother called herself
"Mrs." Carey, and played first tragedy woman at Richardson's Booth at
Bartholomew and other fairs: bills are extant announcing parts played
by Mrs. Carey and Master Carey. Moses Kean, the uncle of the tragedian,
was a tailor, with a wooden leg; a convivial but in no respect a
dissipated character. He was the original of those who professed
to give imitations of the leading players--Kean's of Henderson, as
Hamlet in the grave scene, was inimitable. His death was premature and
singular. He lived at No. 8, Upper St. Martin's-lane, near the Horse
Repository, and was an admirer of fine scenery--the changes in the
clouds, and the majestic splendour of the heavens. One evening, he
ascended to the roof of his residence, to enjoy an uninterrupted view
of the setting sun, when rapt by the object before him and intent on
the view, he lost his hold, fell into the street, and was killed. The
tragedian's grandfather, George Saville Carey, like his father, died in
great distress, July 14, 1807. After that period, Master Carey adopted
his father's name, Edmund Kean, and subsequently ennobled the British
stage by his transcendant personifications of Othello, Sir Giles
Overreach, Richard III., and other characters--a meteor of no prolonged
duration, but the effulgence of which will be long remembered.



     Containing a very extraordinary incident well worthy of the
        reader's attention.

One evening in the second week of November, 1803,[33] Grimaldi then
playing at Drury Lane, had been called by the prompter, and was passing
from the green-room to the stage, when a messenger informed him that
two gentlemen were waiting to see him at the stage-door. Afraid of
keeping the stage waiting, he enjoined the messenger to tell the
gentlemen that he was engaged at that moment, but that he would come
down to them directly he left the stage. The play was "A Bold Stroke
for a Wife:" Miss Mellon was Anne; Bannister, Feignwell; Aitkin, Simon
Pure; and Grimaldi, Aminadab.

As soon as he could get away from the stage, he hurried down stairs,
and inquiring who wanted him, was introduced to two strangers, who were
patiently awaiting his arrival. They were young men of gentlemanly
appearance, and upon hearing the words, "Here's Mr. Grimaldi--who wants
him?" one of them turned hastily round, and warmly accosted him.

He looked about his own age, and had evidently been accustomed to a
much warmer climate than that of England. He wore the fashionable
evening-dress of the day--that is to say, a blue body-coat with gilt
buttons, a white waistcoat, and tight pantaloons--and carried in his
hand a small gold-headed cane.

"Joe, my lad!" exclaimed this person, holding out his hand, in some
agitation, "how goes it with you now, old fellow?"

He was not a little surprised at this familiar address from a person
whom he was not conscious of ever having seen in his life, and, after
a moment's pause, replied that he really had not the pleasure of the
stranger's acquaintance.

"Not the pleasure of my acquaintance!" repeated the stranger, with
a loud laugh. "Well, Joe, that seems funny, anyhow!" He appealed to
his companion, who concurred in the opinion, and they both laughed
heartily. This was all very funny to the strangers, but not at all so
to Grimaldi: he had a vague idea that they were rather laughing at than
with him, and as much offended as surprised, was turning away, when the
person who had spoken first said, in rather a tremulous voice,

"Joe, don't you know me now?"

He turned, and gazed at him again. He had opened his shirt, and was
pointing to a scar upon his breast, the sight of which at once assured
him that it was no other than his brother who stood before him,--his
only brother, who had disappeared under the circumstances narrated in
an earlier part of these memoirs.

They were naturally much affected by this meeting, especially the elder
brother, who had been so suddenly summoned into the presence of the
near relative whom long ago he had given up for lost. They embraced
again and again, and gave vent to their feelings in tears.

"Come up stairs," said Grimaldi, as soon as the first surprise was
over; "Mr. Wroughton is there--Mr. Wroughton, who was the means of
your going to sea,--he'll be delighted to see you." The brothers were
hurrying away, when the friend, whose presence they had quite forgotten
in their emotion, said,

"Well, John, then I'll wish you good night!"

"Good night! good night!" said the other, shaking his hand; "I shall
see you in the morning."

"Yes," replied the friend; "at ten, mind!"

"At ten precisely: I shall not forget," answered John.

The friend, to whom he had not introduced his brother in any way,
departed; and they went upon the stage together, where Grimaldi
introduced his brother to Powell, Bannister, Wroughton, and many others
in the green-room, who, attracted by the singularity of his return
under such circumstances, had collected round them.

Having his stage business to attend to, he had very little time for
conversation; but of course he availed himself of every moment that he
could spare off the stage, and in answer to his inquiries, his brother
assured him that his trip had been eminently successful.

"At this moment," he said, slapping his breast-pocket, "I have six
hundred pounds here."

"Why, John," said his brother, "it's very dangerous to carry so much
money about with you!"

"Dangerous!" replied John, smiling; "we sailors know nothing about
danger. But, my lad, even if all this were gone, I should not be
penniless." And he gave a knowing wink, which induced his brother to
believe that he had indeed "made a good trip of it."

At this moment Grimaldi was again called upon the stage; and Mr.
Wroughton, taking that opportunity of talking to his brother, made
many kind inquiries of him relative to his success and the state of
his finances. In reply to these questions he made in effect the same
statements as he had already communicated to Joseph, and exhibited as
evidence of the truth of his declarations a coarse canvas bag, stuffed
full of various coins, which he carefully replaced in his pocket again.

As soon as the comedy was ended, Grimaldi joined him; and Mr.
Wroughton, having congratulated his brother on his return, and the
fortunate issue of his adventures, bade them good night; when Grimaldi
took occasion to ask how long the sailor had been in town.

He replied, two or three hours back; that he had merely tarried to
get some dinner, and had come straight to the theatre. In answer to
inquiries relative to what he intended doing, he said he had not
bestowed a thought upon the matter, and that the only topic which had
occupied his mind was his anxiety to see his mother and brother. A long
and affectionate conversation ensued, in the course of which it was
proposed by Joseph, that as his mother lived with himself and wife,
and they had a larger house than they required, the brother should
join them, and they should all live together. To this the brother most
gladly and joyfully assented, and adding that he must see his mother
that night, or his anxiety would not suffer him to sleep, asked where
she lived.

Grimaldi gave him the address directly; but, as he did not play in
the afterpiece, said, that he had done for the night, and that if he
would wait while he changed his dress, he would go with him. His
brother was, of course, glad to hear there was no necessity for them to
separate, and Grimaldi hurried away to his dressing-room, leaving him
on the stage.

The agitation of his feelings, the suddenness of his brother's return,
the good fortune which had attended him in his absence, the gentility
of his appearance, and his possession of so much money, all together
confused him so, that he could scarcely use his hands. He stood still
every now and then quite lost in wonder, and then suddenly recollecting
that his brother was waiting, looked over the room again and again
for articles of dress that were lying before him. At length, after
having occupied a much longer time than usual in changing his dress,
he was ready, and ran down to the stage. On his way he met Powell, who
heartily congratulated him on the return of his relative, making about
the thirtieth who had been kind enough to do so already. Grimaldi asked
him, more from nervousness than for information, if he had seen him

"Not a minute ago," was the reply; "he is waiting for you upon the
stage. I wont detain you, for he complains that you have been longer
away now, than you said you would be."

Grimaldi hurried down stairs to the spot where he had left his brother.
He was not there.

"Who are you looking for, Joe?" inquired Bannister, as he saw him
looking eagerly about.

"For my brother," he answered. "I left him here a little while back."

"Well, and I saw and spoke to him not a minute ago," said Bannister.
"When he left me, he went in that direction (pointing towards the
passage that led towards the stage-door). I should think he had left
the theatre."

Grimaldi ran to the stage-door, and asked the porter if his brother had
passed. The man said he had, not a minute back; he could not have got
out of the street by that time.

He ran out at the door, and then up and down the street several times,
but saw nothing of him. Where could he be gone to? Possibly, finding
him longer gone than he had anticipated, he might have stepped out to
call upon one of his old friends close by, whom he had not seen for
so many years, with the intention of returning to the theatre. This
was not unlikely; for in the immediate neighbourhood there lived a Mr.
Bowley, who had been his bosom friend when they were boys. The idea no
sooner struck Grimaldi than he ran to the house and knocked hastily at
the door. The man himself answered the knock, and was evidently greatly

"I have indeed seen your brother," he said, in reply to Grimaldi's
question. "Good God! I was never so amazed in all my life."

"Is he here now?" was the anxious inquiry.

"No; but he has not been gone a minute; he cannot have gone many yards."

"Which way?"

"That way, towards Duke-street."

"He must have gone," thought Grimaldi, "to call on Mr. Bailey, our
old landlord." He hurried away to the house in Great Wild-street, and
knocked long and loudly at the door. The people were asleep. He knocked
again and rang violently, being in a state of great excitement; at
length a servant-girl thrust her head out of an upper window, and said,
both sulkily and sleepily,--

"I tell you again, he is not at home."

"What are you talking about? Who is not at home?"

"Why, Mr. Bailey: I told you so before. What do you keep on knocking
for, at this time of night?"

He could not understand a word of all this, but hurriedly told his
name, and requested the girl to come down directly, for he wished to
speak to her. The head was directly withdrawn, the window closed, and
in a minute or two afterwards the girl appeared at the street door.

"I'm sure I beg your pardon, sir," she said, after pouring forth a
volume of apologies. "But there was a gentleman here knocking and
ringing very violently not a minute before you came. I told him Mr.
Bailey was not at home; and when I heard you at the door, I thought it
was him, and that he would not go away."

Grimaldi was breathless with the speed he had made, and trembling with
vague apprehensions of he knew not what. He asked if she had seen the
gentleman's face. The girl, surprised at his emotion, replied that she
had not; she had only answered him from the window, being afraid to
open the door to a stranger so long after dark, when all the family
were out. The only thing she had noticed was that he had got a white
waistcoat on; for she had thought at the time, seeing him dressed, that
perhaps he might have called to take her master to a party.

He must have gone back to the theatre.

He left the surprised girl standing at the door, and ran to Drury
Lane. Here, again, he was disappointed; he had not been seen. He ran
from place to place, and from house to house, wherever he thought it
possible his brother could have called, but nobody had heard of or
seen him. Many of the persons to whom he appealed openly expressed
their doubts to each other of his sanity of mind; which were really
not without a shadow of probability, seeing that he knocked them out
of their beds, and, with every appearance of agitation and wildness,
demanded if they had seen his brother, whom nobody had heard of for
fourteen years, and whom most of them considered dead.

It was so late now, that the theatre was just shutting up; but he ran
back once more, and again inquired if his brother had been there.
Hearing he had not, he concluded that, recollecting the address he
had mentioned, he had gone straight to his mother's home. This seemed
probable; and yet he felt a degree of dismay and alarm which he had
never before experienced, even when there were good grounds for such

The more he thought of this, however, the more probable it seemed, and
he blamed himself as he walked quickly homewards for not having thought
of it sooner. He remembered the anxiety his brother had expressed to
see their mother, the plan they had discussed for their all living
together, and the many little schemes of future happiness which they
had talked over in their hurried interview, and in all of which she was
comprised. He reached home, and, composing himself as well as he could,
entered the little room in which they usually supped after the play.
His brother was not there, but his mother was, and, as she looked much
paler than usual, he thought she had seen him.

"Well, mother," he said, "has anything strange occurred here to-night?"

"No; nothing that I have heard of."

"What! no stranger arrived!--no long-lost relative recovered!"
exclaimed Grimaldi, all his former apprehensions returning.

"What do you mean?"

"Mean! Why, that John is come home safe and well, and with money enough
to make all our fortunes."

His mother screamed wildly at this intelligence and fainted; she
recovered after a time, and Grimaldi recounted to her and his wife the
events of the evening, precisely as they are here narrated.

They were greatly amazed at the recital. The mother held that he would
be sure to come before the night was over; that he had probably met
with some of his old friends, and would be there after he had left
them. She insisted that Grimaldi, who was tired, should go to bed,
while she sat up and waited for her son. He did so, and the mother
remained all through the long night anxiously expecting his arrival.

This may appear a long story, but its conclusion invests it with a
degree of interest which warrants the detail. The running away to sea
of a young man, and his return after a lapse of years, is, and ever has
been, no novelty in this island. This is not the burden of the tale. It
possessed an awful interest to those whom it immediately concerned, and
cannot fail to have some for the most indifferent reader.

From that night in November, 1803, to this month of January, 1838, the
missing man was never seen again; nor was any intelligence, or any
clue of the faintest or most remote description, ever obtained by his
friends respecting him.

Next morning, and many mornings afterwards, the mother still anxiously
and hopelessly expected the arrival of her son. Again and again did
she question Grimaldi about him--his appearance, his manner, what he
said, and all the details of his disappearance; again and again was
every minute fact recalled, and every possible conjecture hazarded
relative to his fate. He could scarcely persuade himself but that the
events of the preceding night were a delusion of his brain, until the
inquiries after his brother, which were made by those who had seen him
on the previous night, placed them beyond all doubt. He communicated
to his friends the strange history of the last few hours, with all the
circumstances of his brother's sudden appearance, and of his equally
sudden disappearance. He was advised to wait a little while before
he made the circumstance public, in the hope that he might have been
induced to spend the night with some shipmates, and might speedily

But a week passed away, and then further silence would have been
criminal, and he proceeded to set on foot every inquiry which his own
mind could suggest, or the kindness of his friends prompted them to
advise. A powerful nobleman who at that time used to frequent Drury
Lane Theatre, and who had on, many occasions expressed his favourable
opinion of Grimaldi, interested himself greatly in the matter, and
set on foot a series of inquiries at the Admiralty: every source of
information possessed by that establishment that was deemed at all
likely to throw any light upon the subject was resorted to, but in
vain; the newspapers were searched to ascertain what ships had arrived
in the river or upon the coast that day--whence they came, what crews
they carried, what passengers they had; the police-officers were paid
to search all London through, and endeavour to gain some information,
if it were only of the lost man's death. Everything was tried by the
family, and by many very powerful friends whom the distressing nature
of the inquiry raised up about them, to trace the object of their
regret and labour, but all in vain. The sailor was seen no more.

Various surmises were afloat at the time regarding the real nature
of this mysterious transaction; many of them, of course, were absurd
enough, but the two most probable conjectures appear to have been
hazarded many years afterwards, and when all chance of the man being
alive were apparently at an end,--the one by the noble lord who had
pursued the investigation at the Admiralty, and the other by a shrewd
long-headed police-officer, who had been employed to set various
inquiries on foot in the neighbourhood of the theatre.

The former suggested that a press-gang, to whom the person of the
brother was known, might possibly have pounced upon him in some
by-street, and have carried him off; in which case, as he had
previously assumed a false name, the fact of his friends receiving no
intelligence of him was easily accounted for; while, as nothing could
be more probable than that he was slain in one of the naval engagements
so rife about that time, his never appearing again was easily
explained. This solution of the mystery, however, was by no means
satisfactory to his friends, as it was liable to many very obvious
doubts and objections. Upon the whole, they felt inclined to give far
more credence to the still more tragical, but, it is to be feared,
more probable explanation which the experience of the police-officer

This man was of opinion that the unfortunate subject of their doubts
had been lured into some low infamous den, by persons who had either
previously known or suspected that he had a large sum of money in his
possession; that here he was plundered, and afterwards either murdered
in cold blood, or slain in some desperate struggle to recover his
gold. This conjecture was encouraged by but too many corroboratory
circumstances: the sailor was of a temper easily persuaded: he had all
the recklessness and hardihood of a seafaring man, only increased by
the possession of prize-money and the release from hard work: he had
money, and a very large sum of money, about him, the greater part in
specie, and not in notes, or any security which it would be difficult
or dangerous to exchange: all this was known to his brother and to Mr.
Wroughton, both eye-witnesses of the fact.

One other circumstance deserves a word. It was, both at the time and
for a long period afterwards, a source of bitter, although of most
groundless self-reproach to Grimaldi, that he could not sufficiently
recollect the appearance of the man who accompanied his brother to
the stage-door of the theatre, to describe his person. If he could
have been traced out, some intelligence respecting the poor fellow
might perhaps have been discovered; but Grimaldi was so much moved by
the unexpected recognition of his brother, that he scarcely bestowed
a thought or a look upon his companion: nor, after taxing his memory
for many years, could he ever recollect more than that he was dressed
in precisely the same attire as his brother, even down to the white
waistcoat; a circumstance which had not only been noticed by himself,
but was well remembered by the door-keeper, and others who had passed
in and out of the theatre during the time the two young men were
standing in the lobby.

Recollecting the intimate terms upon which the two appeared to be,
and the appointment which was made between them for the following
morning, "at ten precisely," there is little reason to doubt that if
the sailor had disappeared without the knowledge or privity of his
companion, the latter would infallibly have applied to Grimaldi to
know where his brother was. Coupling the fact of his never doing so,
and never being seen or heard of again, with the circumstance of the
lost man never having evinced the least inclination to take him home
with him, to retain him when he was in his brother's company, or even
to introduce him in the slightest manner, (from all of which it would
seem that he was some bad or doubtful character,) the family arrived
at the conclusion,--if it should ever be an unjust one, it will be
forgiven,--that this man was cognizant of, if indeed he was not chiefly
instrumental in bringing about, the untimely fate of the murdered man,
for such they always supposed him. Whether they were right or wrong in
this conclusion will probably ever remain unknown.

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_A startling effect._]


[33] Sadler's Wells opened on Easter Monday, April 11th, 1803, under
a change of proprietors. Mr. Hughes retained his fourth; Thomas and
Charles Dibdin had purchased Mr. Siddons' fourth for 1400_l._; Barford
and Yarnold had bought the fourth previously held by Mr. Thos. Arnold,
of the First Fruits Office; Mr. Reeve purchased the eighth, hitherto
the property of Mr. Wroughton; and Mr. Andrews the eighth previously
held by Mr. Coates. The season is memorable for the appearance on that
stage of the celebrated traveller, Signor Giambattista Belzoni, as the
Patagonian Samson, in which character he performed prodigious feats
of strength; one of which was to adjust an iron frame to his body,
weighing 127 lbs., on which he carried eleven persons. On his benefit
night he attempted to carry thirteen, but as that number could not hold
on, it was abandoned. His stature, as registered in the books of the
Alien Office, was six feet six inches.

Poor Tom Ellar, in his Manuscripts, notices--"The first time I met
Signor Belzoni, was at the Royalty Theatre, on Easter Monday, 1808, my
first appearance in London; the theatre closed after the fourth week.
In September of the same year, I again met him at Saunders's booth in
Bartholomew Fair, exhibiting as the French Hercules. In 1809, we were
jointly engaged in the production of pantomime, at the Crow Street
Theatre, Dublin; I as Harlequin, and he as an artist to superintend
the last scene, a sort of Hydraulic Temple, which, owing to what is
very frequently the case, the being over-anxious, failed and nearly
inundated the orchestra. Fiddlers generally follow their leader, and
Tom Cooke was then the man; seeing the water, off he bolted, and they
to a man followed him, leaving me, Columbine, and the other characters,
to finish the scene, in the midst of a splendid shower of fire and
water. Signor Belzoni was a man of gentlemanly but very assuming
manners; yet of great mind." Such was Tom Ellar's opinion of that
memorable man, whose celebrity afterwards as a traveller requires no
record in this place.


1803 to 1805.

     Bologna and his Family--An Excursion into Kent with that
        personage--Mr. Mackintosh, the gentleman of landed property,
        and his preserves--A great day's sporting; and a scene at the
        Garrick's Head in Bow-street between a Landlord, a Gamekeeper,
        Bologna, and Grimaldi.

Signor Bologna, better known to his intimates by the less euphonious
title of Jack Bologna, was a countryman of Grimaldi's father, having
been, like him, born at Genoa; he had been well acquainted with him
indeed, previously to his coming to England. He arrived in this
country, with his wife, two sons, and a daughter, in 1787.[34] The
signor was a posture-master, and his wife a slack-wire dancer; John
his eldest son (afterwards the well-known harlequin), Louis his second
son, and Barbara the youngest child, were all dancers. They were first
engaged at Sadler's Wells, and here an intimacy commenced between
Bologna and Grimaldi, which lasted during the remainder of their lives;
they were children when it commenced, playing about the street in the
morning, and at the theatre at night.

The signor and his family remained at Sadler's Wells until 1793, when
Mr. Harris engaged him and his children (his wife had died before this
time) at Covent Garden, where they remained for several years; Bologna
playing during the summer months at the Surrey Circus, as Grimaldi
used to act at Sadler's Wells. In 1801 he left Covent Garden, and in
1803 the Circus; upon the conclusion of the latter engagement, he was
immediately secured for the ensuing season at Sadler's Wells, where he
reappeared on Easter Monday in 1804. During the many years which had
passed away since he closed his first engagement at Sadler's Wells,
he and Grimaldi had been necessarily prevented by their different
occupations from seeing much of each other; but being now once more
engaged at the same theatre, their old intimacy was renewed. Their
wives becoming attached to each other, and their engagements being
pretty much the same, they were constantly at each other's houses, or
in each other's society. They met with a droll adventure in company,
which may as well be related in this place.

Drury Lane closed in June and re-opened on the 4th of October; but,
as usual, Grimaldi's services were not required until Christmas. He
had been in great request at Sadler's Wells; for the season was one
of the heaviest the performers had ever known. The two friends were
speaking of this one evening, and complaining of their great fatigue,
when Bologna recalled to mind that he had a friend residing in Kent who
had repeatedly invited him down to his house for a few days' shooting,
and to take a friend with him; he proposed, therefore, that he and
Grimaldi should go down by way of relaxation. On the 6th of November,
accordingly, the friend having been previously apprised of their
intention, and having again returned a most pressing invitation, they
left town in a gig hired for the purpose.

On the road, Bologna told his friend that the gentleman whom, they
were going down to visit was an individual of the name of Mackintosh;
that he was understood to be wholly unconnected with any business or
profession, that he was a large landed proprietor, and that he had most
splendid preserves. The intelligence pleased Grimaldi very much, as he
looked forward to a very stylish visit, and felt quite elated with the
idea of cultivating the acquaintance of so great a man.

"I have never seen his place myself," said Bologna; "but when he is in
London, he is always about the theatres, and he has often asked me to
come down and have some shooting."

They were talking thus, when they arrived at Bromley, which was about
two miles and a half from the place to which they were bound. Here they
met a man in a fustian jacket, driving a tax-cart, drawn by a very lame
little horse, who suddenly pulled up, hailed the party with a loud
"Hallo!" and a "Well, Joe, here you are!"

Grimaldi was rather surprised at this intimate salutation from a
stranger; and he was a little more so when Bologna, after shaking hands
very heartily with the man in fustian, introduced him as the identical
Mr. Mackintosh whom they were going down to visit.

"I'm glad to see you, Joe," said Mr. Mackintosh with an air of
patronage. "I thought I'd meet you here and show you the way."

Grimaldi made some suitable acknowledgments for this politeness, and
the tax-cart and the gig went on together.

"I am sorry you have hit upon a bad day for coming down here, so far as
the shooting goes," said Mackintosh, "for to-morrow is a general fast.
At any rate you can walk about and look at the country; and the next
day--the next day--wont we astonish the natives!"

"Are there plenty of birds this year?" inquired Bologna.

"Lots--lots," replied the other man, whose manner and appearance scarce
bore out Grimaldi's preconceived notion of the gentleman they were
going to visit. If he were already surprised, however, he had much
greater cause to be so eventually.

After travelling upwards of two miles, Bologna inquired if they were
not near their place of destination.

"Certainly," answered Mackintosh; "that is my house."

Looking in the direction pointed out, their eyes were greeted with the
appearance of a small road-side public-house, in front of which hung a
sign-board, bearing the words "Good entertainment for man and beast"
painted on it, and beneath the name of "Mackintosh." Bologna looked
at Grimaldi, and then at the public-house, and then at the man in the
fustian jacket; but he was far too much engaged in contemplating with
evident satisfaction the diminutive dwelling they were approaching,
to regard the surprise of his companions. "Yes," he said, "that
house contains the best of wines, ales, beds, tobacco, stabling,
skittle-grounds, and every other luxury."

"I beg your pardon," interposed Bologna, who was evidently mortified,
while Grimaldi had a strong and almost irresistible inclination to
laugh, "but I thought you were not connected with business at all?"

"No more I am," said Mackintosh, with a wink; "the business belongs to

Bologna looked inexpressibly annoyed, and Grimaldi laughed outright, at
which Mr. Mackintosh seemed rather pleased than otherwise, taking it to
all appearance quite complimentary.

"Yes," he said, "I may be said to be a gentleman at large, for I do
nothing but ride about in my carriage here," pointing to the tax-cart,
"or stroll out with my gun or my fishing-rod. Mother's quite a woman
of business; but as I am an only child, I suppose I shall have to look
after it myself some day or other."

He remained silent a moment, and then said, touching Bologna smartly
with his whip, "I suppose, old fellow, you didn't think you were coming
to a public-house--eh?"

"Indeed I did not," was the sulky reply.

"Ah! I thought you'd be surprised," said Mackintosh, with a hearty
laugh. "I never let my London friends know who or what I am, except
they're very particular friends, like you and Joe, for instance. I just
lead them to guess I'm a great man, and there I leave 'em. What does
it matter what other idea strangers have about one?--But here we are,
so get out of your gig; and rest assured you shall have as hearty a
welcome as you'll ever get at a nobleman's house."

There was something hearty and pleasant in the man's manner, despite
his coarseness; so, finding that Bologna was not inclined to speak,
Grimaldi said something civil himself; which was extremely well
received by their host, who shook his hand warmly, and led them into
the house, where, being introduced to Mrs. Mackintosh by her son, as
particular friends of his, they were received with great hospitality,
and shortly afterwards sat down in the little bar to a capital plain
dinner, which, in conjunction with some sparkling ale, rather tended to
soothe the wounded spirit of Bologna.

After dinner they walked about the neighbourhood, which was all very
pleasant, and returning to supper, were treated with great hospitality.
On retiring to rest, Bologna acknowledged that "matters might have been
worse," but before pronouncing a final opinion, prudently waited to
ascertain how the preserves would turn out. On the following day they
divided their time pretty equally between eating, drinking, chatting
with the chance customers of the house, their host and his mother, and,
though last, not least, preparing their guns for the havoc which they
purposed making the next morning in the preserves of Mr. Mackintosh,
of which preserves he still continued to speak in terms of the highest

Accordingly, they met at the breakfast-table a full hour earlier than
on the previous day, and having despatched a hearty meal, sallied
forth, accompanied by Mr. Mackintosh, who declined carrying a gun,
and contented himself with showing the way. Having walked some little
distance, they came to a stile, which they climbed over, and after
traversing a plot of pasture-land arrived at a gate, beyond which was a
field of fine buckwheat. Here the guide called a halt.

"Wait a minute!--wait a minute!" cried he; "you are not so much
accustomed to sporting as I."

They stopped. He advanced to the gate, looked over, and hastily

"Now's the time!" he said eagerly; "there's lots of birds in that
field!" They crept very cautiously onwards: but when they reached the
gate and saw beyond it, were amazed to discern nothing but an immense
quantity of pigeons feeding in the field.

"_There's_ a covey!" said Mackintosh, admiringly.

"A covey!" exclaimed Grimaldi. "Where? I see nothing but pigeons."

"Nothing but pigeons!" exclaimed Mackintosh, contemptuously. "What did
you expect to find? Nothing but pigeons!--Well!"

"I expected to find pheasants and partridges," answered both sportsmen
together. Bologna, upon whom the sulks were again beginning to fall,
gave a grunt of disapprobation; but Mackintosh either was, or pretended
to be, greatly surprised.

"Pheasants and partridges!" he exclaimed, with a ludicrous expression
of amazement. "Oh dear, quite out of the question! I invited you
down here to shoot birds--and pigeons are birds; and there are the
pigeons--shoot away, if you like. I have performed my part of the
agreement. Pheasants and partridges!" he repeated: "most extraordinary!"

"The fellow's a humbug!" whispered Bologna; "kill as many of his
pigeons as you can."

With this understanding, Bologna fired at random into the nearest
cluster of pigeons, and Grimaldi fired upon them as they rose
frightened from the ground. The slaughter was very great: they picked
up twenty in that field, five in the one beyond, and saw besides
several fall which they could not find. This great success, and the
agreeable employment of picking up the birds, restored their equanimity
of temper, and all went well for some time, until Mackintosh said

"I think you have them all now?"

"I suppose we have," replied Bologna; "at least, all except those which
we saw fall among the trees yonder."

"Those you will not be able to get," said Mackintosh.

"Very good; such being the case, we have 'em all," returned Bologna.

"Very well," said Mackintosh, quietly; "and now, if you will take my
advice, you will cut away at once."

"Cut away!" said Bologna.

"Cut away!" exclaimed Grimaldi.

"Cut away is the word!" repeated Mr. Mackintosh.

"And why, pray?" asked Bologna.

"Why?" said Mr. Mackintosh. "Isn't the reason obvious?--Because you've
killed the pigeons."

"But what has our killing these pigeons to do with cutting away?"

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_Mr. Mackintosh's covey._]

"Bless us!" cried Mackintosh, "you are not very bright to-day! Don't
you see that when the squire comes to hear of it, he'll be very
angry. Now, what can be plainer, if he is very angry, as I know he will
be, then if you are here, he'll put you in prison? Don't you 'stand
that. No, no: what I say is, cut away at once, and don't stop for him
to catch you."

"Pooh!" said Bologna, with a contemptuous air, "I see you know nothing
of the law. There's not a squire in all England who has power to put us
in prison, merely because we have killed your pigeons, although we may
not have taken out certificates."

"_My_ pigeons!" exclaimed Mackintosh. "Lord help you! they're none o'
mine!--they belong to the squire, and very fond of them he is, and
precious savage he'll be when he finds out how you have been peppering
them. So there I come back again to what I set out with. If you two
lads will take my advice, now you've got your pigeons, you'll cut away
with them."

The remarkable disclosure contained in this little speech fairly
overwhelmed them; they stared at each other in stupid surprise, which
shortly gave way first to anger and then to fear. They were greatly
awed at contemplating the risk which they had incurred of being "sent
to prison;" and after a few words of angry remonstrance addressed to
Mr. Mackintosh, which that gentleman heard with a degree of composure
and philosophy quite curious to behold, they concluded that they had
better act upon his advice, and "cut away" at once.

They lost no time in returning to the inn; and here, while they were
engaged in packing up the "birds," the singular host got a nice
luncheon ready, of which they did not fail to partake, and then
mounting their gig, they bade farewell to him and his mother, the
former of whom at parting appeared so much delighted, and vented so
many knowing winks, that for very life they could not help laughing

On the following morning, Bologna and Grimaldi encountered each other
by chance in Covent Garden. Grimaldi had been to Drury Lane to see if
he were wanted, and Bologna had been into the Strand, in which, during
the winter months, when he was not engaged at any theatre, he had an
exhibition. They laughed heartily at meeting, as the recollection
of the day previous, and its adventures came upon them, and finally
adjourned to the Garrick's Head, in Bow-street, to have a glass of
sherry and a biscuit, and once more talk the matter over. The house
was then kept by a man of the name of Spencer, who had formerly been
harlequin at Drury Lane, but who, having left the profession, had
turned Boniface instead. He was standing at the door when they arrived,
and all three being upon intimate terms, was invited to join in a glass
of wine; to this he readily assented, and they adjourned to his private
room, where the Kentish adventures were related, to his great amusement
and pleasure.

"By the by, though," he said, when the merriment was pretty well over,
"I wish you had happened to mention to me that you wanted a few days'
shooting, for I could have procured that for you with the greatest
ease. I was born at Hayes, and all my relatives live in Kent; besides,
I know pretty well every gamekeeper in the county;--in fact, when in
town they invariably come to this house, and would have been delighted
to have obliged any friend of mine."

"Ah!" said Bologna, "and in that case we should have had birds to shoot
at, and not pigeons."

Here Mr. Spencer indulged in a laugh which was interrupted by the
entrance of a young man, who, though unknown to Bologna and Grimaldi,
appeared well acquainted with the landlord, who, after shaking him
warmly by the hand and bidding him be seated, said, "But, Joseph, what
has brought you so suddenly to town?"

"Oh, drat it!" exclaimed the new-comer, "very disagreeable business
indeed. There were two vagabonds down in our parts yesterday from
London, and they killed and stole fifty or sixty of master's pigeons.
I've come up here to find them out and apprehend them: I've got a
constable drinking in the tap."

This information rather flustered them, and Bologna turned as pale
as death; but the host, after indulging in two winks, and one fit of
reflection, quietly said,

"Well, but Joseph, how can you find them out, think you? London's a
large place, Joseph."

"Why, I'll tell you," replied the gamekeeper, for such, as they
afterwards discovered, he was. "I found out, that the rascals had been
staying at Mrs. Mackintosh's house, and were friends of her son; so
I went to him last night and asked him where the fellows were. 'Oh,'
says he, 'I know what you've come about: they've cut away with them
pigeons!' 'Yes,' says I; 'and unless you tell me where they've cut
away to, I shall make you answerable.' 'Oh,' says he again, 'I know
nothing about 'em; they're no friends of mine,' he says, 'they're only
play-actors: one's a Clown and t' other's a Harlequin at one of the
London theatres.' And this was all I could get from him; so up I came
this morning, and knowing that you were acquainted with theatrical
people, I thought I'd come and ask you which of the Clowns and which of
the Harlequins it was most likely to be."

"Is the squire very angry?" asked Spencer.

"Oh, very," responded Joseph, with a shake of the head: "he's
determined to pursue them to the very extremity of the law."

Upon hearing this, Grimaldi was much troubled in mind; not that he
thought Spencer was a man likely to betray his friends, but fearing
that by some inadvertence he might disclose what he felt certain
his will would prompt him to conceal. As to Bologna, his agitation
alone was sufficient to announce the real state of the fact; for, in
addition to a ghastly paleness which overspread his face, he trembled
so much, that in an attempt to convey some wine to his lips, he
deposited it upon his knees and left it there, staring all the while at
the gamekeeper with a most crest-fallen visage.

"There's one thing the squire appears to have forgotten," said Spencer,
"and that is simply this--that before he can pursue these fellows to
the extremity of the law, he has got to find them."

"True," answered Joseph; "and unless you assist me, I'm afraid I
sha'n't be able to do that. I suppose, now, there are a good many
Clowns and Harlequins in London,--eh?"

"A great many," replied Spencer. "I am one, for instance."

"Oh!" smiled the gamekeeper, "but it isn't you."

"That's true," said the host, composedly. "But I'll tell you what; it
is two particular friends of mine, though, who did it!"

Joseph exclaimed, "Indeed!" and Bologna gave Grimaldi a look which
clearly evidenced his conviction, firstly, that it was all up, and
secondly, that it was impossible to "cut away."

"Friends of yours--hey?" said Joseph, ruminating. "Then I expect you
wont assist me in finding them out?"

"Not a bit of it," answered Spencer, "so you may go and look among the
Harlequins and Clowns yourself, and Heaven help you! for the jokes they
will play and the tricks they will serve you will be enough to wear
your heart out."

Joseph looked greatly mortified at this compassionate speech, and,
after a moment's pause, stammered out something about "that being Mr.
Spencer's friends, it made a great difference."

"I'll tell you what it is, Joseph," said the landlord; "say no more
about this affair, and my two friends will pay a reasonable sum for the
pigeons, and stand a rump-steak dinner and a bottle of wine this very
day. What say you?"

Joseph's countenance brightened up. "Oh!" said he, "as to the pigeons,
of course, I could manage. If the gentlemen are friends of yours,
consider the matter settled,--I'll talk the squire over about the
matter. And as to the steak and wine, why I don't mind partaking of
them; and, in return, they shall come down into Kent some day next
week, and _I'll_ give them a morning's shooting."

"Then," said Spencer, rising formally, "these are the gentlemen.
Gentlemen, this is Mr. Joseph Clarke."

All was satisfactorily settled: the rump-steak and wine were ordered,
duly eaten and drunk, and they spent the afternoon together very
jovially, accepting Mr. Clarke's invitation for another "day's
shooting" with great alacrity;--nor did they omit keeping the
appointment; but, on the day fixed, went once more into Kent, when,
under the able guidance of their new acquaintance, they succeeded in
killing and bagging four share and five brace of pheasants in less than
two hours.

They returned to town without seeing anything more of their friend Mr.
Mackintosh, but being upon the very best terms with Mr. Joseph Clarke,
who--but for his really keeping his word and giving them a day's
sport--might be not unreasonably suspected of having been in league
with the landlord to use the sportsmen for their joint amusement, and
to extract a good dinner from them besides.

At Drury Lane no novelty was brought out until the holidays. John
Kemble had left the theatre on the termination of the previous season,
and had become a proprietor of the other house, by purchasing the share
in the establishment which had previously belonged to Mr. W. Lewis. He
became acting manager at once; Mr. Wroughton succeeding to his (Mr.
Kemble's) old situation at Drury Lane.

In January, 1805, they brought out at Drury a most miserable specimen
of a pantomime called "Harlequin's Fireside," which, contrary to the
expectations of the company, ran till the following Easter, and was
received, to their great amazement, with considerable applause. Mr.
T. Dibdin, to whom Grimaldi expressed his surprise at its reception,
admitted the poverty of the piece, and observed that the abilities of
the actors had alone occasioned its success. Grimaldi says it was very
kind of him to say so, and thinks that perhaps it might be. It is by no
means improbable, for similar results are not unfrequent now-a-days.

Sadler's Wells re-opened, as usual, at Easter, 1805: Grimaldi and
Bologna were again engaged, and the season was a very profitable one.
When "Harlequin's Fireside" had ceased running, he did not play at
Drury above half a dozen times during the rest of the season. The
theatre closed in June, and re-opened again on the 21st of September,
the performances being "Othello" and "Lodoiska," in which latter piece
Grimaldi, his wife, and mother, all appeared.

On the conclusion of the night's amusements, he had an interview
with the acting manager, which, although at first both pleasing
and profitable, led in less than six weeks to his departure from
the theatre at which he had originally appeared, and in which
he had constantly played, with all possible success, for nearly
four-and-twenty years.


[34] Pietro Bologna made his first appearance at Sadler's Wells on
Easter Monday, April, 1786, when the bill announced--"New Comic
and Entertaining Performances on the Slack Wire, by Signor Pietro
Bologna; being his first appearance in this kingdom. Rope-dancing by
the Little Devil, Mr. Casamire, and Madame La Romaine, being also her
first appearance in this kingdom. Clown to the Rope, by Signor Pietro
Bologna." Miss Romanzini, afterwards the distinguished ballad vocalist,
Mrs. Bland, appeared also on the same evening. On July 13, 1789, the
bills announced performances on the Tight Rope by the Little Devil,
Master Bologna, and La Belle Espagnole. This was the first public
appearance of John Peter Bologna, professionally distinguished by the
appellation of "Jack Bologna."

In April, 1792, the performances on the opening of Sadler's Wells were
particularized by "Extraordinary Exhibitions of Postures and Feats of
Strength by Signor Bologna and his Children;" these were his sons,
John and Louis. Bologna and his family left the Wells at the close
of the season, 1794; and at Easter, 1795, the whole were employed
at Jones's Royal Circus. In the Pantomime of "The Magic Feast," in
September, Signor Bologna played Pantaloon; his son, John, afterwards
distinguished in the bills as Mr. Bologna, jun., played Harlequin; and
the Signor's wife, Mrs. Bologna, a fishwoman.

Jack Bologna returned to Sadler's Wells, after an absence of eight
years, on Easter Monday, April 19, 1802. He played Satani, in "The
Great Devil; or, The Robber of Genoa;" and for some years was Harlequin
to Joe's Clown, both at Covent Garden Theatre and Sadler's Wells, with
what reputation thousands even now can attest. Subsequently Joe and he
became allied: Bologna having married Louisa Maria Bristow, sister of
Grimaldi's second wife, Mary Bristow.


1805 to 1806.

     Stage Affairs and Stage Quarrels--Mr. Graham, the Bow Street
        Magistrate and Drury Lane Manager--Mr. Peake--Grimaldi is
        introduced to Mr. Harris by John Kemble--Leaves Drury Lane and
        engages at Covent Garden--Mortification of the authorities at
        "the other house"--He joins Charles Dibdin's Company and visits
        Dublin--The _wet_ Theatre--Ill success of the speculation,
        and great success of his own Benefit--Observations on the
        comparative strength of Whisky Punch and Rum Punch, with
        interesting experiments.

The manager of Drury Lane had advertised Tobin's comedy of "The
Honey Moon" as the play for the second night of the season;[35] not
recollecting, until it was too late to alter the bills, that in
consequence of the secession of Mr. Byrne, who had been ballet-master,
and the non-engagement of any other person in his place, there was no
one to arrange the dance incidental to the piece. In this dilemma,
Grimaldi, who had been accustomed to arrange the dances at Sadler's
Wells, was sent for and, as soon as "Lodoiska" was over, the interview
took place between him and the manager to which reference was made at
the close of the last chapter.

Mr. Wroughton, after stating that he was in a very unexpected dilemma,
and that unless Grimaldi would assist him he would have to change the
piece for the ensuing night,--which it was exceedingly desirable to
avoid doing, if possible,--briefly narrated the circumstances in which
the theatre was placed, and concluded by offering him two pounds per
week in addition to his regular salary, if he would arrange the dance
in question, and assist in getting up any other little dances and
processions that might be required. This offer he readily accepted,
merely stipulating that the increased salary should be understood
to extend over the whole season, and not merely until another
ballet-master was engaged. Mr. Wroughton observed, that nothing could
be fairer, that this was what he meant, and that Grimaldi had his
instructions to engage as many male dancers as he might deem necessary.
He at once entered upon his new office immediately engaged as many
hands (or legs) as he required, arranged the dance during the night,
called a rehearsal of it at ten in the morning, got it into a perfect
state by twelve, rehearsed it again in its proper place in the comedy,
and at night had the satisfaction of hearing it encored with great

At the end of the week, he received his increased salary from Mr.
Peake, the treasurer, a gentleman well known and highly respected by
all connected with the stage or theatrical literature, who shook him by
the hand, congratulated him on this new improvement of his income, and
cordially wished him success.

Before he accepted the money, he said, "My dear sir, to prevent any
future difference, it is thoroughly understood, is it, this increase is
for the season?"

"Undoubtedly," replied Mr. Peake: "I will show you, if you like,
Mr. Graham's written order to me to that effect." This he did, and
Grimaldi of course was perfectly satisfied. Mr. Graham, who was then a
magistrate at Bow-street, was at the head of affairs at Drury Lane.

All went on well for some little time. Mr. James D'Egville was engaged
as ballet-master shortly afterwards; but this made no alteration in
the footing upon which Grimaldi was placed. There was no difference
of opinion between the ballet-master and himself, for he continued to
arrange the minor dances and processions, and his arrangements were
repeatedly very warmly commended by Mr. D'Egville.

A new grand ballet, called "Terpsichore," was produced by the latter
gentleman immediately after his joining the company in which Grimaldi
performed Pan, which he always considered a capital character, and one
of the best he ever had to play. The ballet was got up to bring forward
Madame Parisot,[36] who was engaged for the season, for one thousand
guineas. It was thoroughly rehearsed, at least fourteen times before
the night of performance; was very favourably received, and had a good

He was not a little surprised, on Saturday the 26th of October, when
he went as usual to the treasury to draw his salary, to hear that
thenceforth the extra two pounds would not be paid. Mr. Peake admitted
that he was also very much surprised and annoyed at the circumstance,
again producing Mr. Graham's letter, and candidly acknowledging, that
in his opinion this uncalled-for attempt to rescind the contract,
which was none of Grimaldi's seeking, was very paltry. He immediately
waited upon Mr. Wroughton and mentioned the circumstance, at which he
too appeared greatly vexed, although it was not in his power to order
the additional sum to be paid. He then mentioned the circumstance to
his wife, dwelling upon it with great irritation; but she, observing
that it was of no consequence, for they could do very well without it,
proposed that, having nothing to do at Drury Lane that night, they
should go for an hour or two to Covent Garden.

To this proposition he made no objection; so, as he passed down
Bow-street, he called in upon Mr. T. Dibdin for an order, and the
conversation happening naturally enough to turn upon theatrical
affairs, mentioned what had just occurred at Drury Lane. Mr. Dibdin
immediately expressed himself in very strong terms upon the subject,
and counselled Grimaldi to withdraw from the theatre, and to accept an
engagement at the other house. The advice generated a long conversation
between them, which terminated in Grimaldi saying, Mr. Dibdin might,
if he pleased, mention the subject to Mr. Harris, and say, if the
Management were willing to engage him, he was willing to enter into
articles for the following season.

In the course of the evening, he received a note begging his attendance
at Covent Garden on Monday, at twelve, and keeping the appointment,
was ushered into a room in which were Mr. Harris and John Kemble. The
latter greeted him in a very friendly manner, and said,

"Well, Joe, I see you are determined to follow me."

"Yes, sir," replied Grimaldi, who had been thinking of something
polite; "you are a living magnet of attraction, Mr. Kemble."

At this Mr. Harris laughed and congratulated the tragedian on receiving
so handsome a compliment. Kemble inquired of Grimaldi whether he knew
Mr. Harris, and receiving a reply in the negative, introduced him to
that gentleman as "Joe Grimaldi," whose father he had known well, who
was a true chip of the old block, and the first low comedian in the

Mr. Harris said a great many fine things in reply to these
commendations, and, rising, requested Grimaldi to follow him into an
adjoining apartment. He did so, and in less than a quarter of an hour
had signed articles for five seasons; the terms being, for the first
season, six pounds per week; for the second and third, seven pounds;
and for the fourth and fifth, eight pounds. Independent of these
emoluments, he had several privileges reserved to him, among which was
the very important one of permission to play at Sadler's Wells, as he
had theretofore done. These arrangements being concluded, he took his
leave, greatly satisfied with the improved position in which he stood,
as up to that time he had only received four pounds per week at Drury

In the evening, he had to play Pan in the ballet at Drury. When he had
dressed for the part, he entered the green-room, which was pretty full
of ladies and gentlemen, among whom was Mr. Graham, who, the moment he
saw him, inquired if a report that had reached him of Mr. Grimaldi's
going to Covent Garden for the following season were correct. Grimaldi
replied in the affirmative, adding, that he was engaged at the other
house not only for the following season, but for the four ensuing

Mr. Graham started up in a state of considerable excitement on hearing
this, and addressed the performers present, at considerable length,
expatiating in strong language upon what he termed "Grimaldi's
ingratitude" in leaving the theatre. Grimaldi waited patiently until
he had concluded, and then, addressing himself to the same auditors,
made a counter-statement, in which he recapitulated the whole of the
circumstances as they had actually occurred. When he came to mention
Mr. Graham's letter to Mr. Peake, the treasurer, the former hastily
interrupted him by demanding what letter he referred to.

"The letter," replied Grimaldi, "in which you empowered Mr. Peake to
pay the increased salary for the whole of the season."

"If Mr. Peake showed you that letter," replied Mr. Graham, in a great
passion, "Mr. Peake is a fool for his pains."

"Mr. Peake," rejoined Grimaldi, "is a gentleman, sir, and a man of
honour, and, I am quite certain, disdains being made a party to any
such unworthy conduct as you have pursued towards me."

A rather stormy scene followed, from which Grimaldi came off
victorious; Barrymore and others taking up his cause so vigorously,
that Mr. Graham at length postponed any further discussion and walked
away. Enough having taken place, however, to enable him to foresee that
his longer stay at Drury Lane would only be productive of constant
discomfort to himself, he gave notice to Mr. Graham on the following
morning of his intention to leave the theatre on the ensuing Saturday
week. This resolve gave rise to another battle between Mr. Graham
and himself, in the course of which he was pleased to say, that he
could not play the ballet without him, and, consequently, that if
he left, he would bring an action against him for loss incurred by
its not being performed. Grimaldi, however, firmly adhered to his
original resolution: acting therein upon the advice of Mr. Hughes, who
strenuously counselled him by no means to depart from it.

Considering himself now at perfect liberty until Easter, he entered
into an engagement to perform at Astley's theatre in Dublin, which
had just been taken for a short period by Messrs. Charles and Thomas
Dibdin. These gentlemen had engaged the greater part of the Sadler's
Wells' company, including Bologna and his wife (who had been engaged
by Mr. Harris for the next season at Covent Garden on the same day as
Grimaldi himself), and they offered Grimaldi fourteen guineas a-week
for himself, and two for his wife, half a clear benefit at the end of
the season, and all his travelling expenses both by land and sea.

On the 9th of November he closed his engagement at Drury Lane,
performing Pan in the ballet of "Terpsichore." He started on the
following morning, accompanied by his wife, for Dublin, leaving his
little son, who was in very weak health, at home. They had a very
tedious journey to Holyhead, and a very stormy one from thence to
Dublin; experiencing the usual troubles from cold, sickness, fatigue,
and otherwise, by the way. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dibdin, who had arrived
first, received them with much cordiality and kindness; and they took
lodgings at the house of a Mr. Davis, in Peter-street.

On Monday, November the 18th, the theatre opened, and their career was
for some time eminently successful as long, indeed, as the fine weather
lasted; but no sooner did the rainy weather set in, than the manager
discovered, to his horror and surprise, that the roof of the theatre,
being in a dilapidated condition, was not waterproof. At length, one
night towards the end of December, a very heavy rain coming down during
the performance, actually drove the audience out of the house. The
water descended in torrents into the pit and boxes: some people who
were greatly interested in the performances put up their umbrellas, and
others put on great coats and shawls; but at length it came down so
heavily upon the stage, that the performers themselves were obliged to
disappear. In a few minutes the stage was covered, the scenery soaked
through, the pit little better than a well, and the boxes and gallery
streaming with water.

This unforeseen occurrence threw both literally and figuratively a damp
upon the performances which there was no recovering. From that time,
with the single exception of one evening, the theatre was deserted.
Tarpaulings, and all kinds of cheap remedies, were tried, but they all
failed in producing their intended effect. They never kept the water
out, or drew the company in. As to any thorough repair of the roof, it
was wholly out of the question; for the Dibdins only held the theatre
until March, and the necessary repairs under this head alone would have
cost at the very least 200_l._

In this state of things, Mr. Charles Dibdin was compelled to write to
London for remittances wherewith to pay his company. Knowing exactly
how he was situated, Grimaldi volunteered his services in the only way
in which he could render them, and offered not to send to the treasury
for his salary, but to leave it to be paid whenever the manager
might appoint after their return to London. This offer, it is almost
unnecessary to add, was gratefully accepted.

About the middle of January, Mr. Jones, the manager of the Crow Street
Theatre, hearing how badly the Astley's people were doing, and yet
finding that, bad as their business was, it injured his, made an offer
to Mr. Dibdin to take his company off his hands at the terms upon
which he had originally engaged them, and for the remainder of the
time specified in their articles, and further, to make some pecuniary
compensation to Mr. Dibdin himself. The manager assembled the company
on the stage, after their having had the mortification of playing to an
empty house, on Tuesday, January the 28th, and communicated this offer
to them, and earnestly urged upon them the acceptance of the proposal,
as the only means by which himself and his brother could hope to
recover any portion of the losses they had already sustained. Grimaldi
at once expressed his readiness to accede to the proposition, and used
his utmost influence with the other members of the company to induce
them to do the like. He succeeded, except in the case of two of the
performers, who preferred returning at once to England.

When this was arranged to the satisfaction of all parties, Mr. Dibdin
announced his intention to close the theatre on the next Saturday,
February the 1st. Grimaldi took the opportunity of inquiring what was
to become of his half-benefit which had been agreed upon. The manager
replied, with a melancholy smile, that he might give him anything
he liked for _his_ half--twenty pounds would do, and he should have
the entire house next Saturday. Grimaldi immediately paid the twenty
pounds, and on the following morning commenced making preparations
for his benefit, having barely four days in which to announce the
performances, and sell his tickets.

He had borne an introductory letter to Captain Trench, whose unvarying
kindness to him on every possible occasion he most gratefully
acknowledged, and to this gentleman he first mentioned his intention of
taking a benefit. He also mentioned it to his landlord. Their replies
were characteristic.

"Let me have a hundred box-tickets," said Captain Trench: "keep the two
centre boxes for me. If I want any more tickets I'll send for them; but
here's the money for the hundred."

"Give me a hundred pit-tickets," said the landlord. "If I can sell
more, I will; but here is the money for them."

He had his bills printed and well circulated, but did no more business
until the Saturday morning, which made him uneasy; though the fact
simply was, that the people were waiting to see how the weather would
turn out; very well knowing that if it were a wet night, the theatre
would be the very worst place in which to encounter the rain. Fortune,
however, was propitious; the day was cloudless, fair, and beautiful;
and the result was, that after having at nine o'clock in the morning
no one place taken except the two boxes bespoken by Captain Trench, at
one o'clock in the afternoon not a single place remained unlet. At one
time, when there was no doubt of the weather remaining dry, there were
no fewer than sixteen carriages standing before his door, the owners
of which were all anxious to obtain places, and all of whom he was
reluctantly compelled to disappoint.

The receipts of the house amounted to one hundred and ninety-seven
pounds nineteen shillings, not to mention a variety of presents,
including a magnificent gold snuff-box, from Captain Trench, which was
worth, in weight alone, more than thirty pounds sterling.

This purchase of Dibdin's half of the benefit for twenty pounds was
not only a very fortunate thing for Grimaldi, but was, on the other
hand, in some degree serviceable to Dibdin also, inasmuch as it enabled
Grimaldi to oblige him with a loan of one hundred pounds, of which at
that moment, in consequence of his undeserved misfortunes, he stood
much in need. This advance, together with salary due and other matters,
left Mr. Dibdin indebted to Grimaldi in the sum of one hundred and
ninety-six pounds, the whole of which was honourably repaid a few
months afterwards.

This benefit closed the season of the "wet" Theatre in Peter Street;
and on the following Monday, Grimaldi, and the greater part of the
London company, appeared at the Crow Street Theatre, where they acted
until the 29th of March. One circumstance is sufficient to show that
the performances were unusually successful, which is, that the two
pieces in which he came out,--namely, "Harlequin Æsop," and "Coa and
Zoa, or the Rival Indians,"--were found quite attractive enough for the
whole period. He did not appear in any other part, even for a single
night, during the whole of his engagement.

On Sunday, March the 30th, they packed up, and at ten o'clock in the
evening of Monday went on board the packet, in which they had taken
their berths to Holyhead, after receiving the warmest and kindest
hospitality from every person they had encountered in Dublin. With only
one letter of introduction, Grimaldi had found himself in the course of
a few days surrounded by friends whose hospitality and cordiality, not
only of profession, but of action, were beyond all bounds: one would
invite him to dinner, and be personally affronted by his not dining
with him every day; another who wished to pay him a similar attention,
but whose dinner-hour would have interfered with the rehearsal, only
gave up his claim upon the condition that his wife and himself should
dine with him every Sunday; a third placed a jaunting-car at his
disposal, and sent it to his door at eleven o'clock every morning; and
a fourth expected him to meet a small party at supper regularly every
night. He had heard and read a great deal of Irish hospitality, but had
formed no conception of its extent and heartiness until he experienced
its effects in his own person.

He was much struck, as most Englishmen are, by the enormous consumption
of whisky-punch, and the facility with which the good folks of Dublin
swallow tumbler after tumbler of it, without any visible symptoms of
intoxication. He entertained a theory that some beverage of equal
strength, to which they were unaccustomed, would be as trying to them
as their whisky-punch was to him, (for he was always afraid of a second
tumbler of toddy,) and, with a view of putting it to the proof, gave
a little party at his lodgings on Twelfth Night, and compounded some
good strong English rum-punch, with rather more than a dash of brandy
in it. He considers that the experiment was eminently successful,
asserting that one-fourth of the quantity which the guests would have
drunk with complete impunity, had it been their ordinary beverage,
quite overset them; and states with great glee, that Mr. Davis, his
landlord, who could drink his seven tumblers of whisky-punch, and go
to bed afterwards rather dull from excessive sobriety, was carried up
stairs after one tumbler of the new composition, decidedly drunk. We
are inclined to think, however, that Mr. Davis had been taking a few
tumblers of whisky-punch in his own parlour before he went up stairs to
qualify himself for the party, and that the success of the experiment
is not sufficiently well established to justify us in impressing it on
the public mind without the addition of this trifling qualification.


[35] Drury Lane opened for the season on September 14, 1805, with the
"Country Girl," Peggy, Mrs. Jordan; and the farce of "The Irishman in
London." Byrne, and his son Oscar, had quitted at the close of the last
season, and were engaged at Covent Garden; and D'Egville had abandoned
his situation at the King's Theatre, to succeed Byrne as ballet-master
at Drury Lane: all this was known before the opening.

[36] The management of Drury Lane, in their desire of novelty, had
engaged M. Joubert, and Mademoiselle Parisot, from the King's Theatre
for the season. On October 24, it was underlined in the bill of the
day, that she would appear for the first time, on that stage, on
Monday, the 28th, in a new ballet, composed by M. D'Egville, entitled
"Terpsichore's Return;" it was, however, "owing to the indisposition
of a principal performer," deferred a few days--till November 1. In
this ballet, Grimaldi had a great part, that of Pan, in which he fell
in love with Terpsichore, who, after favouring his pretensions, jilted
him; this allowed Joe full latitude of display, and the applause the
ballet obtained had never been exceeded on the production of any drama
or piece in that, or any other theatre. The ballet was performed the
fifth time, on Saturday, November 9, on which night Grimaldi quitted
the theatre, and never afterwards was within its walls. "Terpsichore's
Return" was performed a sixth time, on Monday, November 25, and Pan was
personated by George D'Egville, a pantomimist, and brother to James
D'Egville, the ballet-master. George D'Egville had performed with great
_éclat_ the part of Caliban, at the Haymarket, in a similar ballet,
derived from Shakspeare's "Tempest," and as his engagement was possibly
on the _tapis_ for Drury Lane, (Pan apparently having been designed for
him,) Joe fancying that two suns could not shine in the same sphere,
broke the terms of his engagement, and left the course clear to his

[37] The transfer of Joe's services from Drury Lane to the rival
Theatre Covent Garden, is differently accounted for by Tom Dibdin, who
was a party in the affair, and whose recollection of past facts was
generally too correct to be called in question. Grimaldi's engagement
at Covent Garden is stated to have been effected prior to his going to
Peter-street, Dublin, in the pay of the two Dibdins; the contrary was
the fact. After Grimaldi's return from Dublin, he sought employment at
Covent Garden, nor is there reason to doubt Dibdin's statement in any
way. He says: "I had often pressed Mr. Harris to engage Grimaldi for my
pantomimes, but his answer was, he would not be the first to infringe
an agreement made between Drury Lane and Covent Garden, not to engage
each other's performers until a twelvemonth had elapsed since such
performers had left their situations. Grimaldi, by going in our venture
to Dublin, had now dissolved this obstacle; and I one day met him at
the stage-door of Covent Garden, waiting, as he told me, to see Mr.
Shotter, a confidential servant of Mr. Harris, who would take up his
name to the proprietor: he also told me what terms he meant to ask for
three years, which were so very modest, and so much beneath his value,
that I went immediately to Mr. Harris, and advised him to offer a pound
per week, the first year; two, the second; and three, the third, more
than the sum Mr. Grimaldi had mentioned: this was done instantaneously;
and the best clown ever seen on the stage, was retained for 'Mother
Goose:' when I say the best, I do not except his father, whose _vis
comica_ I perfectly well remember."--_Reminiscences_, 1827, Vol. I. p.


1806 to 1807.

     He returns to town, gets frozen to the roof of a coach on
        the road, and pays his rent twice over when he arrives at
        home--Mr. Charles Farley--His first appearance at Covent
        Garden--Valentine and Orson--Production of "Mother Goose," and
        its immense success--The mysterious Adventure of the Six Ladies
        and the Six Gentlemen.

They were six days getting back to London, the weather being very
inclement, and the travelling very indifferent. Through a mistake of
the booking-office keeper, Grimaldi had to travel the earlier portion
of the road from Holyhead outside the coach. The cold was so intense,
and the frost so severe, that he actually got frozen to his seat; and
when the coach arrived at Red Landford, it was with some difficulty
that he was lifted off, and conveyed into an inn in a complete state
of exhaustion and helplessness. His feet were bathed in brandy, and
various other powerful stimulants applied with the view of restoring
suspended circulation, but several hours elapsed before he recovered,
and it was not until the following morning that he was enabled to
resume his journey towards London, where he at length arrived without
further hindrance or accident.

He had no sooner returned to town than an unpleasant circumstance
occurred, as if in especial illustration of his often-urged remark,
that he never had a sum of money but some unforeseen demand was made
upon him, or some extraordinary exigency arose.

He had been one morning to the City on business, and was somewhat
amazed on his return to find a broker and his assistant in the best
parlour, engaged in coolly taking an inventory of his goods and

"What on earth is the meaning of this?" he inquired.

"Only an execution for rent," replied the broker, continuing his
instructions to his amanuensis; "Mirror in gilt frame, Villiam."

The tenant replied that it was quite impossible, and searching among
his papers, found and produced the receipt for his rent.

The broker looked it over with a cheerful smile, and then, with many
legal phrases, proceeded to apprise him that the landlord himself was
but a lessee, and that, in consequence of his not having paid his
rent, the head landlord had determined to seize upon whatever property
was found upon the premises.

Greatly annoyed at this information, he hurried to Mr. Hughes, his
constant adviser in all difficulties, to consult with him. Having
narrated the affair, Mr. Hughes asked what was the amount claimed.

"Eighty-four pounds."

"Well, then, Joe," said he, "you must pay it, or lose your furniture."

Accordingly he returned home very indignant, and handed over
the specified sum to the broker, who said nothing could be more
satisfactory, and walked away accompanied by his assistant.

The next morning the landlord came, and being ushered in, expressed
much trouble in his countenance, and said that he was very glad to see
Mr. Grimaldi and such a fine morning together.

"But I beg your pardon," he added; "I don't think you know me."

Grimaldi replied, that unless he was the gentleman who had imposed
upon him the necessity of paying his rent twice over, he had not the
pleasure of his acquaintance. At which remark the landlord assumed
a very penitent and disconsolate visage, declared his sorrow for
what had occurred, and, as some light reparation for the loss and
wrong, proposed to assign the lease to him. Grimaldi under all the
circumstances was extremely glad to accede to the proposal, and
cheerfully paid all the legal expenses contingent upon the transfer.

The upshot of the matter was, that, a very short time afterwards, he
received another communication from the same landlord, in which he
imparted the very unexpected fact, that either party to the lease had
a discretionary power of cancelling it at that period if he thought
proper, and that he intended to avail himself of the clause, unless
indeed Mr. Grimaldi would prefer retaining the house at an advanced
rent, which he was at liberty to do if he pleased. An inspection of the
deed proved but too clearly that this statement was correct: so the
eighty-four pounds were lost, together with the legal charges for the
assignment of the lease and the costs of the execution; and the burden
of an increased rent was imposed upon the unlucky tenant into the

His old articles at Sadler's Wells expiring this year, he entered
into a fresh engagement, under which he bound himself to that theatre
for three years, at a weekly salary of twelve pounds and two clear
benefits. The pantomime produced at Easter was entitled, "Harlequin and
the Forty Virgins," and proved remarkably successful, running indeed
through the whole of the season. In this piece he sang a song called
"Me and my Neddy," which afterwards became highly popular and was in
everybody's mouth. Several presents were made to him by admirers of
his performance, and, among others, a very handsome watch, the face of
which was so contrived as to represent a portrait of himself in the act
of singing the romantic ditty just mentioned.

All this season the pantomime was played first, which arrangement
released him at half-past eight o'clock, thus affording him an
opportunity, which he enjoyed for the first time in his life, of being
abroad in the evening, in the spring and summer of the year. During the
greater portion of his life in those seasons, he had entered Sadler's
Wells every night at six o'clock, and remained there until twelve. The
novelty of being at liberty before it was yet dark was so great, that
he scarcely knew what to do with himself, sometimes strolling about
the streets in perfect astonishment at finding himself there, and then
turning home in pure lack of employment.

On the opening of Covent Garden Theatre in October,[38] he became first
acquainted with Mr. Farley, between whom and himself a very warm and
sincere friendship ever after existed. This gentleman inquired in what
character he would wish, to make his first appearance. He mentioned
Scaramouch in "Don Juan," which had been one of his most successful
parts at the other house; but Mr. Farley suggested Orson, in "Valentine
and Orson," urging that the drama, which had not been acted for several
years, had been very popular with the town, and that Orson was a
character well suited to his abilities, in which it was very probable
he would make a great hit. Grimaldi at once consented to play the part,
merely requesting that Mr. Farley would be good enough to give him some
instruction in it, as he had never seen any portion of the piece, and
was at some loss how to study the character. Mr. Farley readily agreed
to do so, and faithfully kept his word.

It has been sometimes said, and indeed stated in print, that Grimaldi
was a pupil and copyist of Dubois. No greater mistake can be made:
if he can be said to have been the pupil of anybody, Mr. Farley was
certainly his master, as he not only took infinite pains to instruct
him in the character of Orson, but afterwards gave him very valuable
advice and great assistance in getting up many other parts, in which he
was also highly successful.

He was very anxious about his first appearance at Covent Garden, and
studied Orson with great assiduity and application for some time. He
made his first appearance in the character on the 10th of October,
1806, Farley playing Valentine. The piece, which was received with most
decided success, was acted nearly every night until the production of
the pantomime at Christmas rendered its withdrawal imperative.

The part of Orson was in Grimaldi's opinion the most difficult he ever
had to play; the multitude of passions requiring to be portrayed, and
the rapid succession in which it was necessary to present them before
the spectators, involving an unusual share both of mental and physical
exertion upon the part of the performer. He played this character both
in town and country on many occasions, but the effect produced upon
him by the exertions of the last scene of the first act was always
the same. As soon as the act-drop fell, he would stagger off the
stage into a small room behind the prompter's box, and there sinking
into an arm-chair, give full vent to the emotions which he found it
impossible to suppress. He would sob and cry aloud, and suffer so much
from violent and agonizing spasms, that those about him, accustomed
as they at length became to the distressing scene, were very often in
doubt, up to the very moment of his being "called," whether he would
be able to go upon the stage for the second act. He never failed,
however; extraordinary as his sufferings were, his fear of not being
ready as the time for his call approached, and the exertions he made to
conquer those painful feelings, invariably enabled him to rally at the
necessary time,--a curious instance of the power of habit in enabling
him to struggle successfully with the weaknesses which no length of
habit, and no repetition of the same part, however frequent, were
sufficient to banish.

The effect produced on the audience by his personation of this
character was intense: it enhanced his reputation greatly, bringing
him before the public in quite a new line. The compliments and
congratulations which he received from persons ranking high in his own
profession, in literature, and in the fine arts, bore high testimony to
the merit and striking character of this singular performance.

Preparations now began to be made for the production of "Mother
Goose," destined to acquire a degree of popularity quite unprecedented
in the history of pantomime, and to occupy a place in the choicest
recollections of the play-goers of the time.

At Drury Lane, the Management, well knowing that great preparations
were making at Covent Garden for the production of a new harlequinade
on the 26th of December, and dreading the advantage they had gained in
securing Grimaldi, hurried on the preparations for their own pantomime,
and engaging Montgomery, who had acquired some celebrity at the Circus,
at a high salary, to play Clown, produced their pantomime on the 23rd,
thus gaining an advantage of three days over the other house. The
piece, however, partook infinitely more of the character of a spectacle
than a pantomime: the scenery and tricks were good, but the "business,"
as it is technically termed, was so wretched, that the audience began
to hiss before it was half over, and eventually grew so clamorous, that
it was deemed prudent to drop the curtain, long before the intended
conclusion of the piece. Grimaldi and his friend Bologna were present,
and were very far from regretting this failure. Up to that time Drury
Lane had always been more successful in pantomime than the other house;
and there is little doubt, that the production of this unsuccessful but
very splendid piece, three days before the usual time, was intended
not merely to crush the pantomime in preparation at Covent Garden, but
Grimaldi too, if possible.

They had a night rehearsal of "Mother Goose" on the ensuing evening,
and the performers were in a state of great anxiety and uncertainty as
to its fate. It had always been the custom to render a pantomime the
vehicle for the display of gorgeous scenery and splendid dresses; on
the last scene especially, the energies of every person in the theatre
connected with the decoration of the stage were profusely lavished,
the great question with the majority of the town being which pantomime
had the finest conclusion. Mother Goose had none of these accessories;
it had neither gorgeous processions, nor gaudy banners, nor splendid
scenery, nor showy dresses. There was not even a spangle used in the
piece, with the exception of those which decked the Harlequin's jacket,
and even they would have been dispensed with but for Grimaldi's advice.
The last scene too was as plain as possible, and the apprehensions of
the performers were proportionately rueful.

But all these doubts were speedily set at rest; for on the production
of the pantomime on the 26th of December, 1806, it was received with
the most deafening shouts of applause, and played for ninety-two
nights, being the whole remainder of the season. The houses it
drew were immense: the doors were no sooner open than the theatre
was filled; and every time it was played the applause seemed more
uproarious than before--another instance of the bad judgment of actors
in matters appertaining to their craft. "She stoops to conquer" was
doomed by the actors to inevitable failure up to the very moment when
the performances commenced (although in this case many eminent literary
men and critics of the time held the same opinion); and "The Honey
Moon" lay neglected on the manager's shelf for many years, it being
considered impossible that an audience would be found to sit out its

Grimaldi's opinion of Mother Goose--it may or may not be another
instance of the bad judgment of actors--always remained pretty much the
same, notwithstanding its great success. He considered the pantomime,
as a whole, a very indifferent one, and always declared his own part to
be one of the worst he ever played; nor was there a trick or situation
in the piece to which he had not been well accustomed for many years
before. However this may be, there is little doubt that the exertions
of Bologna and himself, as Harlequin and Clown, contributed in a
very important degree to the success of the piece; it being worthy
of remark, that whenever the pantomime has been played without the
original Harlequin and Clown, it has invariably gone off flatly, and
generally failed to draw.

On the 9th of June he took a benefit in conjunction with Bologna, upon
which occasion Mother Goose was played for the eighty-second[39] time.
The receipts amounted to 679_l._ 18_s._

During the run of this pantomime he fell curiously into a new and
mysterious circle of acquaintance. The mystery which over-hung them,
the manner of his introduction, their style of living, and his
subsequent discovery of their rank and title, are not a little curious.

On the 6th of January, 1807, a gentleman called at his house in Baynes'
Row, and desiring to see him was shown into the parlour. In this person
he was surprised to recognise his quondam friend Mackintosh who owned
the preserves. He apologised for calling, entered into conversation
with great ease, and trusted that the little trick he had played in
mere thoughtlessness might be completely forgiven. Being courteously
requested not to trouble himself by referring to it, Mr. Mackintosh
went on to say, that his mother had sold, not her mangle, but her inn,
and had retired to a distant part of the country; while he himself
having attached himself to business, had come to reside permanently in
London, and had taken a house and offices in Throgmorton-street, in the

Mr. Mackintosh's appearance was extremely smart, his manners were
greatly improved, and altogether he had acquired much polish and
refinement since the days of the chaise-cart and the fustian jacket.
As, notwithstanding the absurd scrape into which he had led his
guests, he had treated them very hospitably, Grimaldi invited him to
dine on the following Sunday. He came in due course; his conversation
was jocose and amusing, and becoming a favourite at the house, he
frequently dined or supped there: Grimaldi and his wife occasionally
doing the same with him in Throgmorton-street, where he had a very
business-looking establishment, plainly but genteelly furnished.

About a month after his first calling, he waited upon Grimaldi
one morning, and said that some friends of his residing in
Charlotte-street, Fitzroy-square, were very anxious to make his
acquaintance, and wished much for his company at supper one evening
after he had finished at the theatre. Grimaldi, who if he had accepted
all the invitations he received at this period would have had very
little time for his profession, parried the request for some time,
alleging that he was a very domestic person, and that he preferred
adhering to his old custom of supping at home with his wife after
the play. Mackintosh, however, urged that his friends were very
wealthy people, that he would find them very useful and profitable
acquaintances, and by these and a thousand other persuasions, overcame
his disinclination to go. He consented, and an evening was fixed for
the visit.

On the appointed night, as soon as he had finished at the theatre, he
called a coach and directed the driver to set him down at the address
which Mackintosh had given him. The coach stopped before a very large
house, apparently handsomely furnished, and brilliantly lighted up. Not
having any idea that the man could possess friends who lived in such
style, he at first supposed that the driver had made a mistake; but
while they were discussing the point, Mackintosh, elegantly dressed,
darted out of the passage, and, taking his arm, conducted him into a
brilliant supper-room.

If the outside of the house had given him cause for astonishment, its
internal appearance redoubled his surprise. Everything was on a scale
of the most costly splendour: the spacious rooms were elegantly papered
and gilded, elegant chandeliers depended from the ceilings, the richest
carpets covered the floors, and the other furniture, too, was of the
most expensive description. The supper comprised a choice variety of
luxuries, and was splendidly served; the costliest wines of various
kinds and vintages sparkled upon the table.

There were just twelve persons in the supper-room, besides Mackintosh
and himself--to wit, six ladies and six gentlemen, who were all
introduced as married people. The first couple to whom he was
introduced were of course the host and hostess, Mr. and Mrs. Farmer,
who welcomed him with enchanting urbanity and condescension. Every
member of the party was beautifully dressed: the ladies wore jewellery
of the most brilliant description, the numerous attendants were in
handsome liveries, and the whole scene was so totally different from
anything he had anticipated that he was thoroughly bewildered, and
actually began to doubt the reality of what he saw. The politeness
of the gentlemen, and the graceful ease of the ladies, however, soon
restored his self-possession; while the delicious flavour of the
wines and dishes convinced him that with respect to that part of the
business, at all events, he was labouring under no delusion.

In eating, drinking, singing, and story-telling, the night wore on till
past five o'clock, when he was at length suffered to return home. A
recital of all the circumstances astonished his wife not a little; and
he was quite as much amazed at recollecting what he had seen, as she at
hearing of it.

A few days afterward, Mackintosh called again; hoped he had enjoyed
himself, was delighted to hear he had, and bore an invitation for the
next night.

To this Grimaldi urged all the objections he had before mentioned, and
added to them an expression of his unwillingness to leave his wife
at home. Mr. Mackintosh, with great forethought, had mentioned this
in Charlotte-street; he was commissioned to invite her, Mrs. Farmer
trusting she would come in a friendly way and excuse the formality of
her calling.

Well, there was no resisting this; so Grimaldi and his wife went to
Charlotte-street next night, and there were the rooms, and the six
ladies and the six gentlemen, and the chandeliers, and the wax-lights,
and the liveries, and, what was more to the purpose than all, the
supper, all over again.

There were several other parties after this; and then the six ladies
and the six gentlemen _would_ come and see Mr. Grimaldi at his own
house,--whereat Mrs. Grimaldi was rather vexed, inasmuch as they had
not one quarter so many spoons as the Charlotte-street people, and
no chandeliers at all. However, they were polite enough to say, that
they had never spent a more delightful evening; and as they talked and
laughed very much, and were very friendly and kind, the visit passed
off to the admiration of all parties.

There was some mystery about these great friends, which the worthy
couple were quite unable to solve. It did not appear that they were
connected by any other ties than those of friendship, and yet they
were always together, and never had a stranger among them; there were
always the same six ladies and the same six gentlemen, the only change
being in their dresses, which varied in make and colour, but never in
quality. Then they did not seem to be in any business, and there was a
something in the politeness of the gentlemen and the jocoseness of the
ladies which struck them as rather peculiar, although they could never
tell what it was. Grimaldi saw that they were not like the noblemen
and gentlemen he was in the habit of meeting in the green-rooms of
the theatres; and yet, notwithstanding that he pondered upon the
matter a great deal, he could not for the life of him discover in
what the difference consisted. His wife was in just the same state of
perplexity; but although they talked the matter over very often, they
never arrived at any tangible conclusion. While they were thinking
about it, the parties kept going on, and January and February passed

On the 13th of March he had promised to act, in conjunction with
Messrs. Bartley, Simmons, Chapman, and Louis Bologna, at the Woolwich
Theatre, for the benefit of Mr. Lund. Chancing to mention the
circumstance at one of the Charlotte-street parties a few days before
the time, Mr. Farmer immediately proposed that he and the other five
gentlemen should accompany their excellent friend; that they should all
sup together at Woolwich after the theatre was over, and return to town
next day. This was immediately agreed to by all the party except one
gentleman, with the uncommon name of Jones, who had an appointment with
a nobleman, which it was impossible to postpone.

The five gentlemen were punctual, and they, Mackintosh, and Grimaldi,
started together. They dined at Woolwich, and afterwards adjourned to
the theatre, where the five gentlemen and Mackintosh went into the
boxes, and Grimaldi upon the stage. The five gentlemen talked very
loud, and applauded very much; and their magnificent appearance created
quite a sensation, not only among the audience, but the actors also.
They supped together at the hotel at which they had dined: slept there,
and returned to town next day; Mr. Farmer and the four gentlemen coming
home in a barouche; Mackintosh, Grimaldi, and some other professional
persons preferring to walk, for the benefit of the exercise.

Upon the way, Grimaldi sounded Mackintosh relative to the professions,
connexions, and prospects of his friends; but he evaded making any
reply, further than by observing, with an air of great respect, that
they were very wealthy people. He dined in Throgmorton-street a few
days afterwards, and again tried to penetrate the mystery, as did his
wife, who accompanied him. Mr. Mackintosh threw no light upon it, but
it was destined to be shortly revealed, as the next chapter will show.


[38] Covent Garden Theatre commenced the season of 1806-7, on September
15, with Colman's comedy of "John Bull," and the farce of the "Miser."
Mrs. Grimaldi was, on September 22, one of the singing-women in the
Anthem, sang in Shakspeare's play of "King Henry the Eighth:" Cardinal
Wolsey, Mr. Kemble; Queen Katharine, Mrs. Siddons. She was also on
October 6, one of the choral-witches in Macbeth; and on the 8th enacted
Dolly Trull in the Beggar's Opera: a part in which she appears to have
been cast on all future representations. On October 9, not the 10th,
Joe made his _début_ on the boards of old Covent Garden, as Orson, on
the revival of Tom Dibdin's "Valentine and Orson." Dubois had, on its
previous representation at that theatre, obtained unequivocal applause
from the art he displayed in his performance of Orson. Bologna, jun.
also made his first appearance, after an absence of two years, as the
"Sorcerer Agramant; or, The Green Knight." The part of the second
page in this piece, introduced to the stage a boy named Smalley, with
a surprising excellence of voice, who, by some kind soul was rescued
from wretchedness and obscurity, and will long be remembered by those
in whose recollection the performance of "Mother Goose" remains. "The
Cabin Boy," as sung by him, was long highly popular; every younker, who
fancied he had a voice, made that ballad the object of his execution.
It was warbled by men, women, and children; and Grimaldi obtained great
applause for his performance of Orson.

[39] On the night of the joint benefit of Grimaldi and Bologna, June
9, 1807, Macklin's "Man of the World," was performed; Sir Pertinax, by
Mr. Cooke; a new comic ballet, entitled "Poor Jack," Poor Jack, by Mr.
Bologna, jun. Joe also sang Dibdin's song of "The Country Club," often
previously sung by him at Sadler's Wells, with reiterated plaudits.
The evening's entertainments concluded with "Mother Goose," for the
eighty-eighth time, not the eighty-second.

In the preceding April, on the 16th, was produced at Covent Garden,
for the first time, a grand ballet of action, entitled "The Ogre and
Little Thumb; or, the Seven League Boots;" Anthropophagos, the Ogre,
Mr. Farley: Count Manfredi, Mr. Bologna, jun.; Scamperini, the Count's
Servant, Mr. Grimaldi; Little Thumb, Miss M. Bristow, her first



     The mystery is cleared up, chiefly through the instrumentality of
        Mr. Alderman Harmer; and the characters of the six Ladies and
        the six Gentlemen are satisfactorily explained. The Trial of
        Mackintosh for Burglary--Its result.

About three weeks had elapsed since the last dinner in
Throgmorton-street, during the whole of which time nothing had been
seen or heard either of the six ladies or of the six gentlemen, when,
as Grimaldi was sitting reading in his parlour, a strange gentleman was
shown into the room. As he was accustomed to be waited upon by many
people of whom he knew nothing, he requested the gentleman to take a
chair, and after a few commonplace remarks upon the weather and the
papers, begged to ask his business with him.

"Why, my business with you, Mr. Grimaldi," said the stranger, putting
down his hat, as if he had come to stop a long time, "is of a very
peculiar nature. Perhaps I had better commence by telling you who I am.
My name is Harmer."

"Harmer?" said Grimaldi, running over in his mind all the theatrical
names he had ever heard.

"Mr. James Harmer, of Hatton Garden. The reason of my waiting upon you
is this,--I wish to speak to you upon a very disagreeable affair."

There was a peculiar solemnity in the visitor's manner, although it
was very gentlemanly and quiet, which at once threw Grimaldi into
a state of great nervous excitement. He entreated him, with a very
disturbed countenance, to be kind enough to explain the nature of the
communication he had to make, as explicitly as he could.

"To come, then, at once to the point," said Mr. Harmer,--"do you not
know a person of the name of Mackintosh?"

"Yes, certainly," replied Grimaldi, his thoughts flying off at a
tangent, first to Throgmorton-street, and then to the ladies and
gentlemen in Charlotte-street--"oh yes, I know him."

"He is now," said Mr. Harmer, solemnly, "in great danger of losing his

Grimaldi at once supposed his visitor was a doctor, said he was very
sorry to hear it, asked how long he had been ill, and begged to know
what was the matter with him.

"His bodily health is good enough," replied Mr. Harmer, with a
half-smile. "In the course of my professional career, Mr. Grimaldi, I
have known many men in imminent danger of losing their lives, who have
been in most robust health."

Grimaldi bowed his head, and presumed his visitor referred to cases
in which the patient had gone off suddenly. Mr. Harmer said that he
certainly did, and that he had strong reason to fear Mr. Mackintosh
would go off one morning very suddenly indeed.

"I greatly regret to hear it," said the other. "But pray tell me his
condition without reserve: you may safely be communicative to me. What
is the nature of the disorder? what is it called?"

"Burglary," answered Mr. Harmer, quaintly.

"Burglary!" exclaimed Grimaldi, trembling from head to foot.

"Nothing less," replied Mr. Harmer. "The state of the case, Mr.
Grimaldi, is simply this: Mackintosh is accused of having committed a
burglary at Congleton, in Cheshire. I am a solicitor, and am engaged on
his behalf; the evidence against him is very strong, and if he be found
guilty, which I must say appears to me extremely likely, he will most
infallibly be hanged."

This intelligence so amazed Grimaldi, that he fell into a chair
as if he had been shot, and it was some little time before he was
sufficiently recovered to resume the conversation. The moment he could
do so, he hastened to explain that he had never supposed Mackintosh to
be other than an honest man, or he would carefully have shunned all
acquaintance with him.

"He has been anything but an honest man for a long time past," said
Mr. Harmer: "still, I may say that he is anxious to reform; and at all
events, I am certain that this particular robbery was not committed by

"Good God! and he still likely to be hung for it!"

"Certain," said Mr. Harmer; "unless we can prove an _alibi_. There
is only one man who has it in his power to do so; and that man, Mr.
Grimaldi, is yourself."

"Then," said Mr. Grimaldi, "you may command me."

In a lengthened and, to him, very interesting conversation which
ensued, he learned that the robbery had been committed on the 13th of
March, on the very night on which he had played for Lund's benefit at
Woolwich, and afterwards supped with Mackintosh and his friends. This
accidental circumstance was of course of the last importance to Mr.
Harmer's client, and that gentleman receiving a promise from Grimaldi
that he would, make an affidavit of the fact, if required, wished him a
good morning and left him.

Mackintosh being admitted to bail a few days afterwards, called upon
Grimaldi to express his gratitude for the readiness with which he
had consented to give his important evidence. The insight into the
man's character which Mr. Harmer had given him, rendered him of course
desirous to be as little in his company as possible; but as his
kind nature would not allow him to wound his feelings more than was
absolutely necessary in this interview (quite voluntary on his part),
immediately after the exposure, and as he was moreover very desirous to
put a few questions to him concerning the twelve ladies and gentlemen,
he dissembled his dislike, and placed some refreshment before him, of
which he partook. He then said,

"Mr. Mackintosh, I cannot suppose you to be guilty of any act of this
kind, for you have so many circumstances in your favour. Putting myself
out of the question,--I am merely an actor, working for my subsistence,
you can call, to prove your _alibi_, gentlemen of station and undoubted
respectability. Mr. Farmer and his friends, for instance, could not
fail to have great weight with the court."

A very perceptible change overspread the countenance of Mr. Mackintosh
when he heard these words. He shook his head with great vehemence, and
looked strongly disposed to laugh Grimaldi, who was one of the simplest
creatures in all worldly matters that ever breathed, paused for a
reply, but finding his acquaintance said nothing, added,

"Besides,--the ladies. Dear me, Mr. Mackintosh, the appearance of those
gentlemen's wives would be almost enough to acquit you at once."

"Mr. Grimaldi," said Mackintosh, with a slight tremor in his voice
which, despite his serious situation, arose from an incipient tendency
to laughter, "Mr. Grimaldi, none of those women are married."

Grimaldi stared incredulously.

"Not one," said Mackintosh: "they only pass for married people--they
are not really so."

"Then how," said Grimaldi, waxing very angry, "how dared you to invite
my wife among them, and induce me to take her there!"

"I'm very sorry, sir," said the man, humbly.

"I'll tell you what, sir," interposed the other, "I'll be put off no
longer: this is not the time for secrecy and falsehood, nor is it your
interest to tell me anything but the truth. Now, I demand to know at
once the real characters of these people, and why you shook your head
when I mentioned your bringing them forward as witnesses."

"Mr. Grimaldi," replied the man, with great apparent humility, "they
would not come if they were sent for; and besides, if they did, it
would injure, not assist me, for they are all marked men."

"Marked men!" exclaimed Grimaldi.

"Too true, sir," said Mackintosh; "desperate characters every one."

"What! Farmer?"

"He was sentenced to death at the Old Bailey, and got a reprieve while
standing on the drop beneath the gallows."

"And Williams?"

"Williams is a forger of notes."

"And Jesson?"

"He and Barber are both burglars."

"And the Jewish-looking man,--I forget the rascal's name,--the man who
sings Kelly's songs; what is he?"

"Oh, he helps to pass the forged notes, and has been three times in the

"There is one other man whom I have not named--that fellow Jones; what
is he? a murderer?"

"No sir, only a burglar," answered Mackintosh. "Don't you recollect,
Mr. Grimaldi, that he would not join the party to Woolwich?"

"Perfectly well."

"Well, sir, the truth is, he left town for Cheshire the same day the
party was proposed, and he is the man who actually committed the deed
I am charged with. He did the robbery. I found it out only to-day;
but, though I know it, I can't prove it now:--and all those people in
Charlotte-street are doing their best to get me found guilty, and save
the real man, who is better liked among them than I am."

The enumeration of all these crimes, the reflection of having been
intimately associated with such wretches, and the fear of having
his innocence confounded with their guilt, quite overwhelmed their
unfortunate victim. He was thoroughly stupified for some minutes,
and then, starting up with uncontrollable fury, seized the man by
the throat and demanded how he durst take him among such a horde of
villains, under pretence of being his friend. Mackintosh, alarmed at
this unexpected ebullition of resentment, fell on his knees before him
in the most abject manner, and poured forth many entreaties for mercy,
and protestations of regret.

"Answer me one question," said Grimaldi, releasing his hold; "give me a
plain and straightforward answer, for it's only by telling me the truth
now, that you can hope for any leniency at my hands. What was your
motive for taking me into the company of these men and women, and why
did they want to have me among them?"

"I'll tell you the truth, by God!" replied Mackintosh, "and without
the smallest attempt at disguise. They thought you must be very good
company, and hearing me say that I knew you, gave me no rest until I
consented to take you to the house in Charlotte-street; which I at last
agreed to do, stipulating, upon my soul, that no harm should ever be
done you, and that their real characters should be carefully concealed.
You turned out as they expected; they were very much delighted with
your songs and stories, and I was obliged to promise to bring you
again. And that's the truth."

Although this explanation relieved him from some very terrible fears
relative to the motives of these persons in seeking his companionship,
it was a very galling reflection to have been playing the jester to
a gang of robbers and vagabonds; and as it presented itself to his
mind, it drove him almost mad with rage. Never accustomed to give way
to his passions, the fit of fury into which he had worked himself was
such that it was many hours before he recovered from its effects.
Mr. Mackintosh, with much wisdom, took himself off the moment his
confession was concluded.

About a week after this agreeable visit, Grimaldi was sitting at
breakfast one morning, when his servant announced a lady, and in
walked--as he sat paralysed with surprise--no less a person than Mrs.
Farmer, who, sitting down with great composure and freedom, said, when
the servant had left the room,

"Well, Grim, here's Jack Mackintosh has got himself into a pretty
hobble, hasn't he?"

"He has indeed," said Grim, all abroad with amazement "and I am very
sorry for it."

"Lord! you don't mean that!" returned the lady: "I'm sure it's more
than I am. Of course, it's everybody's turn one time; and Jack's had a
very long string."

It being now thoroughly evident that the party, deeming longer
concealment hopeless, wished to treat Grimaldi as one of themselves,
and to imply that he had been acquainted with their real characters
all along, he resolved to act decidedly; so, the moment the lady had
finished speaking, said,

"By some extraordinary mistake and blindness I have been led into the
society of yourself and your associates, ma'am. I regret this bitterly
for many reasons, but for two especially: first, that I should ever
have had acquaintance with such characters; and secondly, that it
compels me to act with apparent harshness to a woman. As I have no
other course to pursue, however, I beg you will have the goodness to
tell the ladies and gentlemen whom I have had the unhappiness to meet
in Charlotte-street, that I request them never to show their faces
here; and that I wish never to see, and certainly shall never speak to
any of them again."

The servant entering the room at this point, in reply to the summons he
had previously given, he continued,

"As soon as this person has rested herself after her walk, show her
to the door; and take care that you never admit her, or any of the
people who have been in the habit of coming here with her, into the
house again." With these words he quitted the room, as did the "lady"
immediately afterwards; and well pleased he was to be rid of her

Sadler's Wells opened the season of 1807 with a new piece, called
the "Ogre," in which he enacted a character dignified by the name
of "Scamperino." This drama was not very successful, lingering only
through ten nights; but as he was wanted of course in something else,
and had every night to hurry to Covent Garden afterwards, to play the
clown in "Mother Goose," which was still running with unabated spirit,
he endured very great fatigue for more than three months, during which
the two theatres were open together.[40]

In the July of this year a very extraordinary circumstance occurred
at Sadler's Wells, which was the great topic of conversation in the
neighbourhood for some time afterwards. It happened thus:--

Captain George Harris, of the Royal Navy, who was related to the
Mr. Harris of Covent Garden, and with whom Grimaldi was slightly
acquainted, had recently returned to England after a long voyage. The
crew being paid off, many of the men followed their commander up to
London, and proceeded to enjoy themselves after the usual fashion of
sailors. Sadler's Wells was at that time a famous place of resort with
the blue-jackets, the gallery being sometimes almost solely occupied
by seamen and their female companions. A large body of Capt. Harris's
men resorted hither one night, and amongst them a man who was deaf
and dumb, and had been so for many years. This man was placed by his
shipmates in the front row of the gallery. Grimaldi was in great force
that night, and, although the audience were in one roar of laughter,
nobody appeared to enjoy his fun and humour more than this poor fellow.
His companions good-naturedly took a good deal of notice of him, and
one of them, who talked very well with his fingers, inquired how he
liked the entertainments; to which the deaf and dumb man replied,
through the same medium, and with various gestures of great delight,
that he had never seen anything half so comical before.

As the scene progressed, Grimaldi's tricks and jokes became still
more irresistible; and at length, after a violent peal of laughter
and applause which quite shook the theatre, and in which the dumb man
joined most heartily, he suddenly turned to his mate, who sat next to
him, and cried out with much glee, "What a d----d funny fellow!"

"Why, Jack," shouted the other man, starting back with great surprise:
"can you speak?"

"Speak!" returned the other; "ay, that I can, and hear, too."

Upon this the whole party, of course, gave three vehement cheers, and
at the conclusion of the piece adjourned in a great procession to
the "Sir Hugh Middleton," hard by, with the recovered man, elevated
on the shoulders of half a dozen friends, in the centre. A crowd of
people quickly assembled round the door, and great excitement and
curiosity were occasioned as the intelligence ran from mouth to mouth,
that a deaf and dumb man had come to speak and hear, all owing to the
cleverness of Joey Grimaldi.

The landlady of the tavern, thinking Grimaldi would like to see his
patient, told the man, that, if he would call next morning, he should
see the actor who had made him laugh so much. Grimaldi, being apprised
of the circumstance, repaired to the house at the appointed time, and
saw him, accompanied by several of his companions, all of whom still
continued to manifest the liveliest interest in the sudden change that
had happened to their friend, and kept on cheering, and drinking, and
treating everybody in the house, in proof of their gratification. The
man, who appeared an intelligent well-behaved fellow, said, that in the
early part of his life he could both speak and hear very well; and that
he had attributed his deprivation of the two senses to the intense heat
of the sun in the quarter of the world to which he had been, and from
which he had very recently returned. He added, that on the previous
evening he had for a long time felt a powerful anxiety to express his
delight at what was passing on the stage; and that, after some feat
of Grimaldi's which struck him as being particularly amusing, he had
made a strong effort to deliver his thoughts, in which, to his own
great astonishment, no less than that of his comrades, he succeeded.
Mr. Charles Dibdin, who was present, put several questions to the man;
and, from his answers, it appeared to every one present, that he was
speaking the truth. Indeed, his story was in some measure confirmed by
Captain Harris himself; for one evening, about six months afterwards,
as Grimaldi was narrating the circumstance in the green-room at Covent
Garden, that gentleman, who chanced to be present, immediately remarked
that he had no reason, from the man's behaviour while with him, to
suppose him an impostor, and that he had seen him on that day in the
full possession of all his senses.

In the month, of August following this circumstance, Grimaldi received
a subpoena to attend the trial of Mackintosh, at Stafford. He
immediately gave notice to the manager of Sadler's Wells, that he
was compelled to absent himself for a few days, and Bradbury, of the
Circus, was engaged to supply his place. Mr. Harmer and himself went
down together; and on the day following their arrival, a true bill
having been found against Mackintosh by the grand jury, the trial came

Grimaldi forgets the name of the prosecutor's counsel,[41] and regrets
the circumstance very much, observing that the lengthened notice which
he bestowed upon him ought to have impressed his name on his memory.
If this notice were flattering on account of its length, it certainly
was not so in any other respect; inasmuch as the gentleman in question,
in the exercise of that licence which many practitioners unaccustomed
to briefs assume, was pleased to designate the principal witness
for the prisoner, to wit, Mr. Joseph Grimaldi, as a common player,
a mountebank-stroller, a man reared in and ever accustomed to vice
in its most repulsive and degrading forms--a man who was necessarily
a systematic liar--and, in fine, a man upon whose word or oath no
thinking person could place any reliance.

During this exordium, and pending the logical deductions of the
ingenious gentleman whose name is unhappily lost to his country, the
prisoner eyed his witness with intense anxiety, fearing, no doubt, that
in his examination, either by angry words, or by attempting to retort
on the counsel, or by volunteering jokes, or by seeking revenge upon
himself, against whom he had such just ground of complaint, he might
pass the rope round his neck, instead of serving his cause; but his
fears were needless. His witness had gone there to discharge what he
considered a solemn duty; and, apart from all personal considerations,
to give his honest testimony in a case involving a man's life and
death. He went there, of course, prepared to give his evidence in the
manner best befitting himself and the occasion; and, if he wanted any
additional incentive to caution and coolness, he would have found it in
the taunts of the opposing counsel, which naturally made him desirous
to show, by his behaviour, that the same man who could play the clown
upon a public stage could conduct himself with perfect propriety as a
private individual--in the same way as many young gentlemen, who are
offensive in wigs, become harmless and obscure in social life.

No fewer than nine witnesses were examined for the prosecution, all of
whom, to Grimaldi's astonishment and horror, swore positively to the
identity of the prisoner. The case for the prosecution being closed,
he was immediately put into the box, for the defence; when, after
stating that the prisoner was in his company at Woolwich, at the time
of the commission of the burglary, he proceeded to detail as briefly
as he could all that had happened on the day and night in question.
He carefully suppressed any extraneous matter that related to himself
or his own feelings, which might have been injurious to the prisoner,
and produced the playbill of the night, to prove that there could be
no mistake respecting the date. He was then submitted to a very long
and vexatious cross-examination, but he never lost his temper for an
instant, or faltered in his testimony in any way; and at its conclusion
he was well rewarded for his good feeling and impartiality, by the
highly flattering terms in which the presiding judge was pleased to
express his opinion of the manner in which he had conducted himself.[42]

His wife was the next witness called, and she fully corroborated his
evidence. Two more witnesses were examined on the same side, when the
judge interposed, putting it to the jury whether they really deemed
it necessary to hear any further evidence, and not hesitating to say
that the full conviction on his own mind was, that the witnesses for
the prosecution were mistaken, and that the prisoner at the bar was
innocent of the offence laid to his charge. The jury fully coincided in
the learned judge's opinion, and immediately returned a verdict of "Not
guilty," after a trial which had already lasted for upwards of nine

Previous to his return to town, on the following morning, Grimaldi
sought and obtained a few minutes' private conversation with
Mackintosh. In this interview, he used his utmost endeavours to awaken
his mind to a sense of his situation, to induce him to reflect on
the crimes he had committed, and to place before him the inevitable
consequences of his career if he held the same course; by all of
which remonstrances the man appeared much affected, and for which he
expressed himself very grateful. It was scarcely necessary for Grimaldi
to add, that any communication between them must be discontinued for
the future; but, lest his true repentance might be endangered by the
loss of the only friend he seemed to have, he gave him permission to
write to him if he ever needed his assistance, and assured him that
if it were in his power to relieve him, the appeal should never be
made in vain. It says something for the honour of human nature and the
sincerity of the man's repentance, that he never took undue advantage
of this permission, and, indeed, was never heard of by Grimaldi again.

The witness returned to town, as he had every reason to do, with a
light heart; and as he never heard any further intelligence either
of the half-dozen gentlemen, or the six Lucretias to whom he had so
unwittingly introduced his wife, he experienced no further trouble or
disquiet on this score.


[40] Sadler's Wells opened the season of 1807 on Easter Monday, March
30th, with a new pantomime, entitled "Jan Ben Jan, or Harlequin and
the Forty Virgins." Ridgway made his first appearance as Harlequin,
Bologna, jun., having seceded from the theatre. Among other debutants
on that night, was Pyne, the singer, as also Mrs. M'Cartney, who
subsequently became Mrs. Pyne. Grimaldi, as usual, was clown in the
pantomime, which had a long and successful run. In the scene of the
interior of Pidcock's menagerie, at Exeter 'Change, he spoke and sang
"The Exhibitor's Chant," which became highly popular. The journalists
of that time were of one accord; the inimitable drolleries of the
clown were the principal cause of the crowded lobbies and the scarcely
standing room on every night of the performance.

[41] The late Mr. Dauncey.

[42] The gentleman who first revised Grimaldi's reminiscences adds the
following note in this stage of the Memoirs: "That Mr. Grimaldi has
not unworthily commended his own conduct in this instance, no one who
has heard him speak in public will be disposed to believe. His manner
was always that of a man who, while he entertained a just respect for
himself, properly respected the parties to whom he addressed himself.
This was strikingly exemplified whenever, in consequence of the sudden
illness of a performer, or some other stage mishap, an apology became
necessary; on which occasions he would step forward, and announcing the
calamity, claim the kindness of the audience with so much gentlemanly
ease, and such an entire absence of all buffoonery or grimace, that, in
spite of his grotesque dress and appearance, and the associations which
they necessarily awakened, the audience forgot the clown, and only
remembered the gentleman."



The facts relating to Grimaldi's connexion with John Mackoull, _alias_
Mackintosh, are the following:--

Mackoull, during two years previous to Michaelmas, 1804, was a
publican; he kept the George Inn, at Hayes, in Kent; and, in his
own words, in his "Abuses of Justice," mentions the following
particulars:--"In justice to Mr. Grimaldi, I will shortly state the
commencement and nature of our acquaintance. I saw him for the first
time as a guest at my house at Hayes, where, from the attention I paid
him and his friends, he visited me several times.

"Shortly after I came to London, I accidentally met him, and invited
him and his wife to dine with me. The invitation was accepted, and
he in turn invited me and my wife to dine; indeed, the whole of our
acquaintance consisted in several times mutually dining at each other's

Mackoull lived in White Lion-court, in Throgmorton-street, and the
occasional intimacy appears to have continued till 1807, in which
year, on March 13th, Lund had a benefit at the Woolwich Theatre, when
the Bolognas, Grimaldi, and Norman, were to enact Don Juan. Mackoull
accompanied John Bologna from London to Woolwich on the morning of
the 13th; the performances went off well at night, and the whole
party continued there till two o'clock in the afternoon of the 14th,
when Mackoull left, Grimaldi having promised to dine with him on the
Wednesday following.

It so happened, that on the night of the 12th of March, or on the
morning of the 13th, the Edinburgh mail-coach was robbed of a parcel,
forwarded by the Newark bank to Messrs. Kensington, of Lombard-street.
The parcel contained bank-notes and bills to the amount of 4500_l._,
payable in London; and was, as afterwards transpired, stolen by a man,
then travelling in the mail, named Treble, who, to avoid hanging,
destroyed himself. A returned transport, named Duffield, received
the bills, and a strolling player, named John Knight, who, under the
assumed name of Warren, at Salisbury and other places enacted Othello,
and other principal characters. He became the negotiator of some of
the bills by forging or indorsing them in his own theatrical name of
Warren, and contrived to discount one at Burton-upon-Trent, on March
17th; another at Uttoxeter, on the 18th; a third at Congleton, on the
19th; and a fourth at Wirksworth, on the 20th. Information that some
of these bills had been discounted at the above principal banks having
transpired, and a description of the person who had negotiated them
being transmitted, Mackoull's personal appearance was extremely similar
to that of the delinquent described; and he was apprehended accordingly
at his house in White Lion-court, on April 3rd, taken to the Brown
Bear, in Bow-street, and on that evening charged at Bow-street with
felony, having robbed the mail, and with forgery of the indorsements
on the bills asserted to have been negotiated by him. He was remanded
to the 8th, on which day Mackoull was again placed at the bar, Mr.
Alley as his counsel, and Mr. Harmer also appearing in his defence.
But it was not until the third hearing, on the 11th, that specific
charges were made against him, and he was sworn to be the person who
had obtained the money for the bill discounted at the Congleton bank on
March 19th. Mackoull, being in possession of the charge, was enabled,
to prove an _alibi_ most satisfactorily, as Grimaldi and his wife
had dined with him on the 18th of March. Mrs. Grimaldi had left them
at five o'clock, to sustain her part in the Oratorio that evening at
Covent Garden Theatre, and Joe had remained with Mackoull till eleven
that night; it was therefore clear that he was not the person who had
negotiated the bills, nor was he the party who had robbed the mail, as
he had evidence in John and Louis Bologna, Grimaldi, Norman, and many
others; for he was then with them at Woolwich. These circumstances
being named by Mackoull to Mr. Harmer, he undertook to wait upon Mr.
and Mrs. Grimaldi, which it would seem he did on the Sunday, as on the
Monday, April 13th, being Mackoull's fourth examination, Mr. Alley
proposed offering a satisfactory _alibi_ to the charge; but, as all
the witnesses had not been conferred with, desired leave to bring
them forward on the following day. It is tolerably certain that Mr.
Harmer had seen Grimaldi and his wife on Sunday, for Alley mentioned
them, amongst others, as witnesses whom he should bring forward on
the Tuesday; and till the 11th, Mackoull was not in possession of the
particular charge against him.

Mackoull states that Mr. Harmer undertook to wait upon Mr. and Mrs.
Grimaldi, both of whom recollected perfectly the day on which they
had dined with Mackoull, previous to Mr. Harmer's apprising them with
his reasons for the inquiry: both spontaneously proffered to prove
the fact, before the magistrates, or otherwise, if required; hence
Mr. Alley's intimation to the magistrates on the 13th, on which day
a young man, named Millar, son of the police-constable, and then an
under clerk at Bow-street Office, went personally to Grimaldi, and
endeavoured to persuade him not to appear on the following day before
the magistrates; and insinuated he had no object in interfering but
a regard for Mr. Grimaldi, and the interest that he felt for his
reputation. Joe was, however, not to be deterred or intimidated from
publicly asserting what he knew to be true--more particularly, as he
learned that the life of a fellow-creature was at stake; and contrary
to this stripling's expectation and wishes, he attended at Bow-street,
before the magistrates, Messrs. Read and Graham, on the 14th, giving
in evidence the facts already stated. Two points of _alibi_ were fully
established by Joe. Mackoull had not committed the robbery, with which
he was in the first instance charged, because John and Louis Bologna,
Grimaldi, and Norman, and many others, could and did swear that he was
with them at Woolwich at the time the robbery was effected; and as to
his being the person who had been the negotiator of the bills from
the 17th to the 20th of March, Grimaldi's evidence was not single,
and was therefore indisputable; but Mr. Kensington's professional
adviser, having a wealthy plaintiff as a client, abetted his reluctance
to believe Mackoull had been erroneously charged and sworn to. On
the 13th, former witnesses had sworn most positively to the personal
identity of Mackoull. He was the man who had negotiated the bills,
notwithstanding the evidence offered in support of the _alibi_. The
obstinacy of the banker Kensington made matters still worse, and
Mackoull was criminally charged with five offences in the several towns
and places named; four of them were capital, and a conviction on either
would have involved the forfeiture of his life.

A further hearing was deferred till April 23rd, when Grimaldi and his
wife again attended, and swore to the truth of their allegations:
bail was tendered, offering full guarantee for Mackoull's appearance
when required, but in vain; the influence of the Lombard-street
firm was paramount; bail, however unobjectionable, was refused; and
again was Mackoull remanded. On the 27th, he was brought up, as he
supposed, to be admitted on bail; but no; it was for his committal to
Newgate, preparatory to his trial at the ensuing Stafford assizes,--so
pertinaciously had his prosecutors driven matters, that there seemed no
escape for him. Application was, however, made to Sir Soulden Lawrence,
one of the judges in the King's Bench, and on the affidavits of Joseph
Grimaldi and his wife Mary Grimaldi, was Mackoull immediately enlarged.
Mackoull may now speak for himself:--

"Two or three days previous to the assizes, my witnesses, Mr. Harmer,
and myself; in all eighteen persons, left London for Stafford; my
mind filled with the most gloomy apprehensions. When we arrived at
Lichfield, Mr. Harmer determined to finish the briefs before he went on
to Stafford. Every circumstance they could really prove was known to
myself and my solicitor; he had a plain statement of facts to narrate,
and though it ran to a considerable length the brief was drawn, and two
copies made nearly in one day, in the following manner. As soon as Mr.
Harmer had drawn a paragraph it was handed to Mr. Grimaldi, who [read
or] dictated, and myself, and a young man we procured in the town wrote
the fair copies for counsel.

"Early in the morning of the commission day, Mr. Harmer and myself
went on to Stafford, leaving my witnesses to follow. Mr. Grimaldi was
the first witness called on my behalf; he stated exactly what had
been set forth in his affidavit, and the solemn manner in which he
gave his testimony carried conviction, and made a lively impression
upon every one present. He underwent the most strict examination; but
the more he was questioned, the more apparent was the truth of his
evidence; and those who expected to see the zany disgracing himself by
his buffoonery, beheld him deliver his evidence with a firmness, which
could only arise from conscious rectitude; yet still with that caution
and dignity which should characterize every honest man, when asserting
the cause of truth under the awful obligation of an oath.

"I should here perhaps mention, that I felt some apprehension, lest
the prosecutor's Counsel should endeavour, in the cross-examination
of Mr. Grimaldi, to throw him off his guard, by insinuating that his
acquaintance with me was disreputable, and exert their abilities to
make him appear ridiculous; therefore, on our way down, I hinted my
fears, and begged him, for God's sake, to keep his temper, to answer
every question with calmness and propriety, and not to be irritated
by any interrogatories of counsel; to which he answered, 'Whatever
were your transactions previous to my acquaintance I know not; but
certainly I never observed anything improper in your conduct; nor did
I, till this unfortunate affair, hear anything to your disadvantage:
but admitting you to be the vilest character on earth, I am bound, as a
man and a Christian, to speak the truth; and I should consider myself
highly culpable if I withheld my testimony, when, by giving it, I might
prevent an innocent man from losing his life. I am going to assert
nothing but the truth, to do which can dishonour no man. I assure you I
am too much impressed with a sense of your unfortunate situation to be
otherwise than serious; and I trust those who hear me will be properly
satisfied, that I know my duty when giving testimony in a court of
justice, as well as when performing before an audience at a public
theatre.' These were his observations, and he fully verified them.

"Mrs. Grimaldi was next called, and confirmed the testimony of her
husband in every particular.

"Mr. Dauncey, the counsel for the prosecution, in his opening speech,
had mentioned that I kept houses of a certain description, and
endeavoured to impress the minds of the jury with a belief that no
credit was to be given to any witness who could visit or associate with
me. He even said it was material to consider whether I and my witnesses
were not guilty of a foul conspiracy to defeat justice; and in order
to lessen the effect of Mr. and Mrs. Grimaldi's evidence, they were
interrogated by the prosecutor's counsel as to their knowledge of my
keeping disorderly houses, which they most positively, and with truth,

"Mr. Justice Graham, in addressing the jury, told them he conceived
they must entertain the same opinion with himself, that the witnesses
for the prosecution had mistaken Mackoull for the person who had
committed the offences, and if so, it would be unnecessary for him to
sum up the evidence. The jury instantly expressed their concurrence
with the opinion of the judge; and, after a trial of nine hours,
Mackoull was pronounced--Not guilty.

"How impotent now appeared the whole phalanx of my opponent. During the
examination of Mr. and Mrs. Grimaldi, young Millar was in the outer
hall taunting the rest of my witnesses. He said 'he should soon do away
with their evidence, and that, when he was called, it would be all over
with me.' When Mrs. Grimaldi came out of court he personally insulted

"Notwithstanding the satisfactory manner in which my innocence was
established, my acquittal was attributed to base and unworthy means.
It was said that Grimaldi was, no doubt, well paid for perjuring
himself. The reputation of Mr. Grimaldi is so well established, that
he cannot be affected by the gross slanders circulated respecting his
evidence. He is well known to be incapable of a dishonourable action;
and far from being paid to give false testimony, he was a loser of his
salary for the time he was absent, It is true, I offered to pay him the
amount, but he generously declined accepting it, saying, he felt the
injuries I had suffered, and would not add to my distress by receiving
a shilling.

"Facts have their point-marks as pleasurable as the enspanglements of


1807 to 1808.

     Bradbury, the Clown--His voluntary confinement in a Madhouse, to
        screen an "Honourable" Thief--His release, strange conduct,
        subsequent career, and death--Dreadful Accident at Sadler's
        Wells--The Night-drives to Finchley--Trip to Birmingham--Mr.
        Macready, the Manager, and his curious Stage-properties--Sudden
        recall to Town.

On his return to town, of course, he went immediately to Sadler's
Wells; where, however, to his great surprise, he was informed by Mr.
Dibdin that he was not wanted just yet, inasmuch as Bradbury had been
engaged for a fortnight, and had not been there above half the time. He
added, too, that Bradbury had made a great hit, and become very popular.

This intelligence vexed Grimaldi not a little, as he naturally feared
that the sudden popularity of the new favourite might affect that of
the old one; but his annoyance was much increased when he was informed
that the proprietors were anxious that on the night of Bradbury's
benefit, they should both play in the same pantomime. He yielded
his consent with a very ill grace, and with the conviction that it
would end in his entire loss of favour with the audience. When the
proposition was made to Bradbury in his presence, it was easy to see
that he liked it as little as himself; which was natural enough. It was
not for him, however, to oppose the suggestion, as the combination of
strength would very likely draw a great house, and he had only taken
half of it with the proprietors for that night.

It was accordingly arranged that they should appear together on the
following Saturday; Bradbury sustaining the part of the Clown for the
first three scenes in the pantomime, then Grimaldi taking it for the
next three scenes, and Bradbury coming in again to close the piece.
Grimaldi was so much dissatisfied with these arrangements, that, on the
morning of the day fixed, he told his friend Richard Lawrence (now or
lately the Surrey treasurer) that he was certain it was "all up with
him," and that Bradbury had thrown him completely out of favour with
the public.

The result, however, was not what he anticipated. The moment he
appeared, he was received with the most tremendous applause. Animated
by this encouraging reception, he redoubled his exertions, and went
through his three scenes amidst the loudest and most enthusiastic
plaudits. This reception rather vexed and confused the other who had
to follow, and who, striving to outdo his predecessor, made such a
complete failure, that, although it was his own benefit, and he might
reasonably be supposed to have a good many friends in the house, he
was actually hissed, and ran off the stage in great disorder. Grimaldi
finished the pantomime for him, and the brilliant manner in which it
went off sufficiently testified to him that all the fears and doubts
to which he had previously given way were utterly groundless. Indeed,
when the performances were over, Bradbury frankly admitted that he was
the best Clown he had ever seen, and that, if he had been aware of his
abilities, he would not have suffered himself to be put in competition
with him on any account whatever.

This Bradbury was a clever actor in his way, and a very good Clown,
but of so different a character from Grimaldi, that it was hardly fair
to either, to attempt instituting a comparison between them. He was
a tumbling Clown rather than a humorous one, and would perform many
wonderful and dangerous feats. He would jump from the flies--that is,
from the curtains above the stage--down on to the stage itself, and do
many other things equally surprising. To enable himself to go through
these performances without danger, he always occupied a very long time
in dressing for the part, and adjusting no fewer than nine strong pads
about his person, in such a manner as to protect those parts of his
frame which were the most liable to injury;--wearing one on the head,
one round the shoulders, one round the hips, two on the elbows, two
on the knees, and two on the heels of his shoes. Thus armed, he would
proceed to throw and knock himself about in a manner which, to those
unacquainted with his precautions, appeared to indicate an intense
anxiety to meet with some severe, if not fatal accident. Grimaldi, on
the contrary, never wore any padding in his life; nor did he attempt
any of the great exploits which distinguished Bradbury. His Clown was
of a much more composed and subdued temperament, although much more
comical and amusing, as is sufficiently shown by the result of the
comparison between the two which has just been described. Bradbury
was very original withal, and copied no one; for he had struck out a
peculiar line for himself, and never departed from it.

After the night at Sadler's Wells, Grimaldi heard nothing more of
Bradbury for some time; but at length received a note from him,
dated, to his excessive surprise, from a private madhouse at Hoxton,
requesting him to visit him there without delay, as he was exceedingly
anxious to see him. He was much astonished at this request, as little
or no intimacy had previously existed between them, and the place
where the letter was dated was so very unexpected and startling. Not
knowing what to do, he showed the letter to his friend Lawrence, who
recommended him by all means to go, and volunteered to accompany him.

As he gladly availed himself of this offer, they went together to
Hoxton, and inquiring at the appointed place, were introduced to
Bradbury, who was a patient in the asylum, and had submitted to the
customary regulations: all his hair being shaved off, and his person
being kept under strict restraint. Concluding that he had a maniac to
deal with, Grimaldi spoke in a very gentle, quiet manner, which the
patient observing, burst into a roar of laughter.

"My dear fellow," said Bradbury, "don't look and speak to me in that
way!--for though you find me here, treated as a patient, and with my
head shaved, I am no more mad than you are."

Grimaldi rather doubted this assurance, knowing it to be a common one
with insane people, and therefore kept at a respectful distance. He was
not long in discovering, however, that what Bradbury said was perfectly
true. The circumstances which had led to his confinement in the lunatic
asylum were briefly these:

Bradbury was a very dashing person, keeping a tandem, and associating
with many gentlemen and men of title. Upon one occasion, when he had
been playing at Plymouth, a man-of-war was coming round from that
town to Portsmouth, on board of which he had several friends among
the officers, who took him on board with them. It was agreed that
they should sup together at Portsmouth. A splendid meal having been
prepared, they spent the night, or at least the larger portion of it,
in great hilarity. As morning approached, Bradbury rose to retire,
and then, with considerable surprise, discovered that a magnificent
gold snuff-box, with a gold chain attached, which he was accustomed
to wear in his fob, and which he had placed on the table for the use
of his friends, had disappeared. He mentioned the circumstance, and a
strict search was immediately instituted, but with no other effect than
that of proving that the valuable box was gone. When every possible
conjecture had been hazarded, and inquiry made without success, it was
recollected that one of their companions, a young gentleman already
writing "Honourable" before his name, and having a coronet in no very
remote perspective, had retired from the table almost immediately after
supper:--it was suggested that he might have taken it in jest, for the
purpose of alarming its owner.

Bradbury and several others went to this gentleman's room, and
communicated to him the loss, and their doubts respecting him. The
young gentleman positively denied any knowledge of the box, and,
after bitterly reproaching them for their suspicions, abruptly closed
the door in their faces, leaving Bradbury in a state of violent
mortification at his loss.

On the following morning, nothing more having been heard of the missing
property, the gentleman, against whom Bradbury now nourished many
serious misgivings, sent down word to his friends, that he was so much
vexed with them for their conduct of the night before, in supposing it
possible he could have taken anything away even in jest, that he should
not join them at breakfast, but, on the contrary, should immediately
return to town. This message, instead of allaying, as it was doubtless
intended to do, Bradbury's suspicions, caused him to think still worse
of the matter; and upon ascertaining that the young man had actually
taken a place in the next coach which started for London, he lost no
time in obtaining a warrant, by virtue of which he took him prisoner
just as he was stepping into the coach. Upon searching his portmanteau,
the box was found, together with several articles belonging to his
other companions. Bradbury was determined to prosecute, not considering
the young gentleman's nobility any palliation of the theft: he was
instantly taken before a magistrate, and fully committed for trial.

No sooner did this affair become known to the relatives and connexions
of the offender, than, naturally anxious to preserve the good name
of the family, they proceeded to offer large sums to Bradbury if he
would relinquish the prosecution,--all of which proposals he for some
time steadily refused. At length they offered him a handsome annuity,
firmly secured for the whole of his life: he was not proof against this
temptation, and at length signified his readiness to accept the bribe.

The next point to be considered was, how Bradbury could accept the
money without compounding a felony, and increasing the obloquy already
cast upon the thief. He hit upon and carried into execution a most
singular plan:--he caused the report to be circulated that he had
suddenly become insane--committed many extravagant acts--and in a short
time was, apparently against his own will, but in reality by his own
contrivance, deprived of his liberty, and conveyed to the asylum where
Grimaldi visited him. The consequence of this step was, that when the
stealer of the snuff-box was placed upon his trial, no prosecutor
appearing, he was adjudged not guilty, and liberated accordingly.
Intelligence of this was directly sent to Bradbury, who proceeded to
make arrangements for his own release: this was soon effected, and it
was on the eve of the day of his departure that Grimaldi saw him in the
madhouse. His only object in writing, or rather, in causing the letter
to be written, for he could not write a line himself, nor read either,
was, to ask him to play for his ensuing benefit at the Surrey Theatre,
which he readily consented to do; then wishing him a speedy deliverance
from his disagreeable abode, he took his departure.

The next day Bradbury came out of the asylum, telling everybody that
he was perfectly recovered, having got well in as sudden a manner as he
fell ill, and in the following week his benefit took place. Grimaldi
played and sang for him, and took money at the gallery door, to boot.
The house was quite full, and everything went on well until Bradbury
made his appearance, when, impelled by some strange and sudden whim, he
was guilty of a disgusting piece of irreverence and impertinence. The
consequence of this was, that the audience very naturally and properly
took great offence, and upon a repetition of the conduct, literally
hooted him from the stage.

This was the ruin of Bradbury as a pantomimist. He did not appear
again in London for many years, and, although he played occasionally
in the country theatres, never afterwards regained his former rank
and celebrity in the profession. As far as pecuniary matters were
concerned, it did not matter much to him, the annuity affording him a
handsome independence; but whether he afterwards sold it and dissipated
the money, or whether the annuity itself was discontinued in the course
of years, this at least is certain, that when he died, which he did in
London, in 1828, he was in very indifferent circumstances, if not in
actual want.

In October, Covent Garden commenced the new campaign, and brought
forward "Mother Goose," which ran, with the same degree of success as
before, until nearly Christmas, and was played altogether twenty-nine

On the 15th of this month, a most frightful accident occurred at
Sadler's Wells. The pantomime was played first that night, which,
joined to his having nothing to do at Covent Garden, enabled Grimaldi
to go home early to bed. At midnight he was awakened by a great noise
in the street, and loud and repeated knocks at the door of his house:
at first he concluded it might be some idle party amusing themselves by
knocking and running away; an intellectual amusement not at that time
exclusively confined to a few gentlemen of high degree; but finding
that it was repeated, and that the noise without increased, he hastily
slipped on a morning-gown and trowsers, and hurried to the street-door.

The people who were clamouring outside, were for the most part friends,
who exclaimed, when he appeared, that they had merely come to assure
themselves of his personal safety, and were rejoiced to find that he
had escaped. He now learned, for the first time, that some vagabonds
in the pit of the theatre had raised a cry of "Fire!" during the
performance of the last piece, "The Ocean Fiend," and that the audience
had risen simultaneously to make their escape: that a violent rush
towards the doors had ensued, and that in the confusion and fright a
most fearful loss of life had taken place. He waited to hear no more,
but instantly ran off to the theatre.

On arriving there, he found the crowd of people collected around it
so dense, as to render approach by the usual path impossible. Filled
with anxiety, and determined to ascertain the real state of the case,
he ran round to the opposite bank of the New River, plunged in, swam
across, and finding the parlour window open, and a light at the other
end of the room, threw up the sash and jumped in _à la Harlequin_. What
was his horror, on looking round, to discover that there lay stretched
in the apartment no fewer than nine dead bodies! yes! there lay the
remains of nine human beings, lifeless, and scarcely yet cold, whom
a few hours back he had been himself exciting to shouts of laughter.
Paralysed by the sad sight, he stood awhile without the power of
motion; then, hurrying to the door, hastily sought to rid himself of
the dreadful scene. It was locked without, and he vainly strove to
open it, so knocked violently for assistance. At first the family of
Mr. Hughes were greatly terrified at hearing these sounds issuing from
a room tenanted, as they imagined, only by the dead; but at length
recognising the voice, they unlocked the door, and he gladly emerged
from the apartment.

It was not known until next day how many lives were lost; but when the
actual loss of life could be ascertained, it appeared that twenty-three
people, male and female, were killed, not to mention many dangerous and
severe accidents. This melancholy catastrophe was mainly attributable
to the imprudence of those persons who reached the theatre doors first,
and who, upon finding that nothing really was the matter, sought to
return to their places. The meeting of the two crowds in the passages,
caused a complete stoppage; and this leading the people inside to
believe that all egress was blocked up, impelled them to make violent
efforts to escape, for the most part fatal to the unfortunate persons
who tried them. Several people flung themselves from the gallery into
the pit, others rushed hopelessly into the densest part of the crowd
and were suffocated, others were trodden under foot, and hence the
melancholy result.

This accident happening on the last night but four of the season,
it was deemed prudent not to re-open the house that year.[43] Such
performers as were entitled to benefits, and had not yet taken them,
took them at the Circus; and thus terminated the season of 1807, the
most melancholy termination of a season which Sadler's Wells Theatre
had ever known.

On the 26th of December, was produced "Harlequin in his Element; or,
Fire, Water, Earth, and Air," in which Bologna and Grimaldi were the
harlequin and clown. It was highly successful, and in Grimaldi's
opinion deservedly so, for he always considered it one of the best
pantomimes in which he ever played. During this season, he also
performed in an unsuccessful melodrama, entitled "Bonifacio and
Bridgetino,"[44] and also Baptiste, in "Raymond and Agnes," which latter
piece went off very well, and was repeated several times.

At this time he had a cottage at Finchley,[45] to which place he used
to drive down in his gig after the performances. If there were no
rehearsal, he remained there until the following afternoon; if there
were, he returned to town immediately after breakfast. His principal
reason for taking the house originally, was that his young son, of whom
he was extremely fond, might have the benefit of country air: but both
he and his wife became so much attached to it, that when his original
term expired he renewed the lease, and retained it altogether for
several years.

He met with numerous little adventures during these night-drives after
the theatre: sometimes he fell asleep as soon as he had turned out of
town, and only awoke when he arrived at his own gate. One night he was
so fatigued with his performance that he still continued to sleep,
when the horse, a very steady one, who could always find his way home
without assistance, had stopped at the gate. The best of it was, that
upon this particular night, the man-servant, who always sat up for him,
had fallen asleep too; so there sat he slumbering on one side of the
fence, while on the other side, not six feet off, sat his master in
the gig, fast asleep too; and so they both remained, until the violent
snorting of the horse, which probably thought it high time to turn in
for the night, awoke the man, who roused the master, and speedily set
all to rights. But as one circumstance which occurred to him during
these night journeys will be narrated at greater length in another part
of the volume, we will leave the subject for the present.

He very grievously offended Mr. Fawcett, in March, 1808, from a very
slight cause, and without the remotest intention of doing so. Fawcett
called one afternoon at his cottage at Finchley, on his road to town
from his own house at Totteridge, which was only two miles distant from
Grimaldi's, and asked Grimaldi to play for his benefit, then close at
hand: this he most willingly promised to do.

"Ah," said Fawcett, "but understand I don't want you to play clown or
anything of that sort: I want you to do Brocket in the 'Son-in-Law.'"

Grimaldi demurred a little to this proposition, considering that as he
had made a great hit in one branch of his profession, he could not do
better than retain his standing in it, without attempting some new line
in which, by failure, he might injure his reputation. Not wishing to
disoblige Mr. Fawcett if he could possibly help it, he replied that he
must decline giving an answer at that moment, but that in the course of
a day or two he would write. Having consulted his friends in the mean
time, and being strongly advised by them not to appear in the character
Mr. Fawcett had mentioned, he wrote, declining in respectful terms to
do so, and stating the grounds of his objection. Odd as it may appear,
the little circumstance angered him much: he never afterwards behaved
towards him with any cordiality, and for the three years immediately
following, never so much as spoke to or noticed him whenever they
chanced to meet.

On the 14th, he received permission from Mr. Kemble to play for his
sister-in-law's benefit at the Birmingham theatre, which was then under
the management of Mr. Macready, the father of the great tragedian.
Immediately upon his arrival, Grimaldi repaired to his hotel, and was
welcomed by Mr. Macready with much cordiality and politeness, proposing
that he should remain in Birmingham two, or, if possible, three nights
after the benefit at which he was announced to perform, and offering
terms of the most liberal description. Anticipating a proposal of
this nature, Grimaldi had, before he left town inquired what the
performances were likely to be at Covent Garden for some days to come.
Finding that if the existing arrangements were adhered to, he could not
be wanted for at least a week, he had resolved to accept any good offer
that might be made to him at Birmingham, and therefore closed with Mr.
Macready, without hesitation. After breakfast they walked together to
the theatre to rehearse; and here Grimaldi discovered a great lack
of those adjuncts of stage effect technically known as "properties:"
there were no tricks, nor indeed was there anything requisite for
pantomimic business. After vainly endeavouring to devise some means by
which the requisite articles could be dispensed with, he mentioned his
embarrassment to the manager.

"What! properties?" exclaimed that gentleman: "wonderful! you London
stars require a hundred things, where we country people are content
with one: however, whatever you want you shall have.--Here, Will, go
down to the market and buy a small pig, a goose, and two ducks. Mr.
Grimaldi wants some properties, and must have them."

The man grinned, took the money, and went away. After some reflection
Grimaldi decided in his own mind that the manager's directions had been
couched in some peculiar phrases common to the theatre, and at once
went about arranging six pantomime scenes, with which the evening's
entertainments were to conclude. While he was thus engaged, a violent
uproar and loud shouts of laughter hailed the return of the messenger,
who, having fulfilled his commission to the very letter, presented him
with a small pig, a goose, and two ducks, all alive, and furthermore,
with Mr. Macready's compliments, and he deeply regretted to say that
those were all the properties in the house.

He accepted them with many thanks, and arranged a little business
accordingly. He caused the old man in the pantomime and his daughter
to enter, immediately after the rising of the curtain, as though they
had just come back from market, while he himself, as clown and their
servant, followed, carrying their purchases. He dressed himself in
an old livery coat with immense pockets, and a huge cocked hat; both
were, of course, over his clown's costume. At his back, he carried a
basket laden with carrots and turnips; stuffed a duck into each pocket,
leaving their heads hanging out; carried the pig under one arm, and the
goose under the other. Thus fitted and attired, he presented himself
to the audience, and was received with roars of laughter. His songs
were all encored--"Tippitywitchet" three times, and the hit was most
decided. The house was full to the ceiling, and it was equally full on
the following night, when he played Scaramouch; the third night was
as good as any of the preceding; and the fourth, which terminated his
engagement, was as successful as the rest. Just as he was going on the
stage on this last evening, and had even taken up his "properties"
for that purpose, a note was put into his hands, which was dated
that morning, and had just arrived from London, whence it had been
despatched with all possible speed. He opened it hastily, and read, in
the hand of an intimate friend,

     "Dear Joe,--They have announced you to play to-morrow night
     at Covent Garden; and as they know you have not returned from
     Birmingham, I fear it is done to injure you. Lose not a moment,
     but start immediately on the receipt of this."

He instantly ran to Mr. Macready, and showing him the letter, told him,
that, although he was very sorry to disappoint his Birmingham friends,
he could not stop to play.

"Not stop to play!" echoed the manager: "why, my good fellow, they
will pull the house down. You must stop to play, and post up to London
afterwards. I'll take care that a chaise and four are waiting for you
at the stage-door, and that everything shall be ready for you to start,
the moment you have finished your business."

He played with the same success to a brilliant house, received 294_l._
from the manager as his remuneration for three nights, threw himself
into the chaise, and at twelve o'clock, within a few minutes after he
had quitted the stage, was on his road to London.

The weather was tempestuous, the roads in a most desperate condition,
and, to make matters worse, he treated the postboys so liberally in the
hope of accelerating their speed, that they became so drunk as to be
scarcely able to sit their horses. After various escapes and perils,
they discovered, at the end of an unusually long stage, that they had
come fourteen miles out of the road, "all in consequence," as one of
the boys said, with many hiccups, and much drunken gravity, "all in
consequence of only taking one wrong turn."

The result of this combination of mischances was, that he did not reach
Salt Hill until seven o'clock on the following evening; having been
nineteen hours on the road. Here he jumped into another chaise which
fortunately stood ready at the door, and hurried up to London, without
venturing to stay for any refreshment whatever. He drove straight to
the theatre, where he found his friend awaiting his arrival with great
trepidation. Hearing that the overture to the piece in which he was to
perform was then playing, he gave his friend the 294_l._ to take care
of, ran to his dressing-room, dressed for his part, which Farley had
already made preparations for performing himself, and went on the stage
the moment he got his cue, much to the astonishment of his friends,
and greatly to the surprise of some individuals connected with the
management of the theatre, who had anticipated a very different result
from his visit to Birmingham.


[43] The house closed, but re-opened for two nights on Monday, November
2, and Tuesday, November 3. The whole proceeds were given to the
relations of the deceased, and to the maimed sufferers on that luckless
night, the 15th of the preceding month. The entire company engaged
in the theatre tendered their services gratuitously: the two nights'
representations produced 290_l._ 7_s._, which was beneficially and
impartially distributed by the proprietors, a proceeding which elicited
the following declaration:--

     "We, the magistrates, who have acted on this occasion, feel it
     incumbent upon us to express to the public our approbation of
     the conduct of the proprietors of Sadler's Wells, who used, as
     it appears, every possible exertion at the time, and have shown
     every attention to alleviate, as much as was in their power, the
     distress occasioned by so melancholy an event; and at the same
     time we feel a pleasure in bearing our testimonies to the grateful
     deportment of those who have experienced the attention, the
     humanity, and the liberal relief which has been afforded them.

     "A. CUMMING.
     W. WIX.

     "SADLER'S WELLS, _Nov. 27, 1807_."

[44] Bologna, jun. and Grimaldi were the two heroes in this piece,
produced for the first time at Covent Garden Theatre, on Thursday,
March 31, 1808.

[45] On the edge of the common, between the seventh and eighth mile
stone, on the left-hand side of the road from town.


1808 to 1809.

     Covent Garden Theatre destroyed by fire--Grimaldi makes a trip to
        Manchester: he meets with an accident there, and another at
        Liverpool--The Sir Hugh Middleton Tavern at Sadler's Wells, and
        a description of some of its frequenters, necessary to a full
        understanding of the succeeding chapter.

Of course some unforeseen circumstance was to happen, and some
unexpected demand to be made on the money so easily earned. A short
time before he went to Birmingham, being short of cash, he had
commissioned a friend on whom he placed great reliance to get his bill
at one month for 150_l._ discounted. The friend put the bill into his
pocket-book, and promised to bring the money at night. Night came, but
the money did not: it had not arrived when he returned from Birmingham;
the friend was nowhere to be found, and he had soon afterwards the
satisfaction of paying the whole sum, without having received a
sixpence of the money.

During the season of 1808, at Sadler's Wells, the principal and most
successful part he had was in a burletta, called "Odd Fish; or, Mrs.
Scaite in the Seraglio." His two benefits were bumpers,[46] and the
theatre closed on the 26th of September, after another most profitable

The Covent Garden season which had terminated on the 13th of July,[47]
recommenced on the 12th of September. Seven days afterwards the
theatre was burned to the ground, after the performance of "Pizarro,"
and the "Portrait of Cervantes." The company removed to the Italian
Opera-house, and subsequently to the Haymarket; but as Grimaldi was not
wanted, he availed himself of an offer to visit the Manchester theatre,
then managed by Messrs. Ward, Lewis, and Knight, and left town for that
purpose. There was a strong rivalry between the coach proprietors on
the road at that time, but for the safety of the passengers, it was
expressly understood between them, that the coaches should never be
allowed to pass each other, but that the coach which took the lead at
starting should retain it all the way through, unless any temporary
stoppage of the first vehicle enabled the second to assume the post
of honour. Grimaldi's coach was the last, and just as they were going
into Macclesfield, the Defiance, (which was the name of the other
coach,) stopping to change horses and to allow the passengers to take
tea, became entangled with the wheels of the second vehicle in the
darkness of the evening; and when the second coach overset, which it
did immediately, the empty Defiance fell upon the top of it so neatly
and dexterously, that the passengers were obliged to be dragged through
the two coaches before they could be extricated. Fortunately nobody
was much hurt, although Grimaldi was the worst off, for he was the
undermost, and five stout men (they carried six inside at that time)
fell on the top of him. The only disagreeable part of the matter was,
that they were delayed upwards of four hours, and that the unfortunate
Defiance was left both literally and figuratively _on_ the road for a
much longer time.

During this provincial trip, he played six nights at Manchester and one
at Liverpool, for which he received in all 251_l._ The only drawback
upon the expedition was, that he sustained two accidents, the effects
of which were quite bad enough, but might have been much more serious.
He arranged and got up a very pretty little pantomime called "Castles
in the Air," in which he of course played Clown. His first appearance
was to be from a large bowl, placed in the centre of the stage, and
labelled "Gooseberry Fool;"[48] to pass through which, it was necessary
for him to ascend from beneath the stage, through a trap-door which
the bowl concealed. On the first night of the piece he ascended from
below at the proper time; but when he gained the level of the stage,
the ropes which were attached to the trap broke, and he fell back into
the cellar, from which he had just risen. He was terribly shaken and
stunned by the fall, but quickly recovering himself, he ascended the
stairs, went on the stage, and played as though nothing had happened
to discompose him. In spite of his assumed calmness, however, he was
in agony during the whole of the first scene; but the pain wholly left
him as he went on, in the excitement of the part; and by the time he
had finished the pantomime, he was as well as he had been before its

This was at Manchester. The Liverpool Theatre belonging to the same
managers, and being resorted to by the same company, they all travelled
thither for one night, for the purpose of playing "Castles in the
Air," as the afterpiece, having the same master-carpenter with them as
they had at Manchester. Grimaldi sought the man out, and explaining
to him the nature of the accident which had happened through his
negligence on the previous night, entreated him to render all secure
for that evening, and to prevent a repetition of the occurrence. This
he promised, but failed to do notwithstanding, for a precisely similar
accident took place here. Grimaldi had ascended to the stage, and got
his head through the bowl, when, as a shout of laughter and welcome
broke from the audience, the ropes gave way, and he was left struggling
in the trap. For a second or two he did not fall; for, having passed
through the trap nearly to his waist, he strove to support himself
by his arms. All his endeavours, however, were vain; the weight of
his body pulled him downwards, and the trap being small his elbows
were caught by the edges, and forced together above his head, thereby
straining his shoulders to such an extent that he thought his arms were
wrested from their sockets. He fell a considerable distance, and when
he rose from the ground, was in excessive pain. He managed with great
difficulty to crawl through the first scene, and then warming with his
exertions and kindling with the great applause he received, he rallied
successfully, and got through the part with flying colours.

When he reached his inn, which, now that the excitement of acting was
over, was a task of considerable difficulty, he was well rubbed with
the infallible embrocation, and put to bed in a very helpless state. On
the following morning, scarcely able to crawl, he was assisted into the
coach, and returned home.

Grimaldi acted very little at the Haymarket[49] with the Covent Garden
Company, till after Christmas, when "Mother Goose" was revived, with
a new last scene, representing the ruins of Covent Garden Theatre,
transformed by a touch of Harlequin's wand into a new and splendid
building. In March he sustained for the first time the character of
Kanko in "La Perouse." He took his benefit on the 23rd of May.[50]
The season terminated a few nights afterwards; and with it, it may
be incidentally observed, terminated the theatrical career of the
celebrated Lewis, who retired from the stage at this period.

Sadler's Wells presented no particular novelty in 1809.[51] Its chief
production was a piece called "Johnnie Armstrong," in which Grimaldi
played Kirstie, a kind of "Touchstone:" it was very successful, and the
season closed, as all the Sadler's Wells seasons did at that time, with
great profits.

Before adverting to the little adventure arising out of one of the
nocturnal rides to which reference has been already made, it will be
necessary to mention a few circumstances, upon which such interest as
it possesses mainly depends.

The pantomime was usually played first, at Sadler's Wells. When this
was the case Grimaldi was at liberty by about half-past eight: he would
sometimes call at the Sir Hugh Myddleton, and take a glass of wine and
water with some friends who frequented the house, and then start off in
his gig to Finchley.

He had several times met at this tavern a young man of the name of
George Hamilton, a working jeweller, residing somewhere in Clerkenwell,
a sociable good-tempered merry fellow enough, but rather too much
addicted to drinking and squandering his money. This man was very
sensitive upon the subject of trade, being, as the phrase goes, above
his business, having an ambition to be a gentleman, and resenting
any allusion to his occupation as a personal affront. He was a very
ingenious and skilful man at his business, and could earn a great deal
of money; but his companions suspected that these absurdities led him
into spending more than he could well afford. Grimaldi was so strongly
impressed with this opinion, that, with a good-hearted impulse, he
frequently felt tempted to remonstrate with him upon his folly. Their
slight intimacy, however, restrained him, and the man continued to take
his own course.

These were his mental peculiarities: he had a remarkable physical
peculiarity besides, wanting, either from an accident or a natural
defect, the third finger of his left hand. Whether he wished to conceal
this imperfection, or had some other defect in the same hand, is
uncertain; but he invariably kept his little finger in a bent position
beneath the palm of it; so that when he sat, or walked, as he usually
did, with his left hand half hidden in his pocket, the defect was not
observable; but when he suddenly changed his position, or drew forth
his hand in discourse, it had always the appearance of having only two
fingers upon it.

Grimaldi's first acquaintance with this person was in 1808, when he was
very frequently at Sadler's Wells, and the Sir Hugh Myddleton. At the
termination of the summer season he lost sight of him, in consequence
of his engagements taking him elsewhere; but in Easter 1809, when
Sadler's Wells re-opened, and Grimaldi resumed his habit of calling
at the tavern for half an hour or so, before driving out to Finchley,
he again encountered him. He had been married in the interval, and
frequently took his wife, a pretty young creature, to the tavern
with him, as at that time many tradesmen in the neighbourhood were
accustomed to do.

Grimaldi paid little attention to these circumstances at first; but
a change had come over the man which irresistibly attracted his
attention. He had become very violent and irritable,--had acquired a
nervous restlessness of manner, an occasional incoherence of speech,
a wildness of look, and betrayed many other indications of a mind
somewhat disordered. He dressed differently too: formerly he had been
neatly attired, and looked like a respectable, well-doing man; but now
he was showy and gaudy, wore a number of large rings and other articles
of cheap jewellery, and his desire to be thought a great man had
increased, greatly, so much so, indeed, that his declamations against
trade and all concerned in it, deeply affronted the worthies who were
wont to assemble at the Sir Hugh, and occasioned many disputes and

All these things evidently made the wife very unhappy. Although
he usually abstained from drinking to his customary excess in her
presence, he said and did enough to make her wretched, and frequently,
when she thought she was unobserved, she would sit in a remote corner
and weep bitterly.

One night, Hamilton brought with him a new friend, a man of very
sinister appearance and marvellously ill-favoured countenance. They
were, or affected to be, both greatly intoxicated. The strange man
was introduced by his friend to Grimaldi, and began entering into
conversation with him; but as there was something remarkably repulsive
in his appearance, he rose and left the room.

The two men came together very often. Nobody knew who or what the
stranger was; nobody liked or even spoke to him; and it was constantly
observed that whenever Hamilton was in a state of gross intoxication,
he was in this person's company. The old visitors of the Sir Hugh shook
their heads mysteriously, and hoped he had not fallen into bad company;
although, truth to tell, they could not help thinking that appearances
were greatly against him.

One night Grimaldi was sitting alone in the room, reading the
newspaper, when Hamilton, the stranger, and the poor wife came in
together. The former was in a state of intoxication, so much so that he
could scarcely stand. The wife had evidently been crying, and seemed
truly wretched; but the strange man wore an air of dogged triumph that
made him look perfectly hideous.

Curious to see what passed, Grimaldi held the paper before his face,
and watched them closely. They did not recognise him, but walked to the
other end of the room. Hamilton hiccoughed forth an order for something
to drink, stammering in reply to the earnest entreaties of his wife,
that he would go home directly he had taken "this one glass more." It
was brought, but not tasted, for his head had fallen upon the table,
and he was fast asleep before the liquor came.

The man whom he had a minute before named for the first time--Archer
he called him--regarded his sleeping companion in silence for some
minutes, and then leaning behind him to reach the wife, who was on
the other side, touched her lightly on the shoulder. She looked up,
and he, pointing with a contemptuous air to the sleeping drunkard,
took her hand and pressed it in a manner which it was impossible to
misunderstand. She started indignantly from her seat, and darted at the
man a look which completely quelled him. He sat with his arms folded,
and his eyes fixed on the ground for above a quarter of an hour, and
then, suddenly rousing himself, tendered his assistance in attempting
to awaken the husband. His harsh voice and rough gestures accomplished
what the whispered persuasion of the wife had been unable to effect:
Hamilton awoke, emptied his glass, and they all left the apartment
together; she studiously avoiding any contact with the man called

This little scene interested the observer much. He sat thinking upon
what had passed, so long, that he was upwards of an hour later than
usual in reaching home. He felt a strong inclination to speak to
Hamilton, and kindly but firmly to tell him what he had seen, and what
he thought. On consideration, however, he determined not to interfere,
deeming it more prudent to leave the issue to the good sense and proper
feeling of his wife, who evidently knew what danger threatened her, and
how to avert it.

The situation of these persons occupied so much of his thoughts, that
when he called as usual at the tavern next night, he felt a strong
anxiety to meet them there again. He was disappointed, for Hamilton
was seated in the room alone. He nodded as Grimaldi entered, and said,

"Are you going to Finchley to-night?"

"No," was the reply; "I wish I was: I have an engagement at my house
here in town which will prevent my doing so."

"I thought you always went there on summer evenings," said Hamilton,
glancing over the paper as he spoke, and speaking in an uninterested
and careless style.

"No, not always," said Grimaldi: "pretty nearly though--five nights out
of six."

"Then you'll go to-morrow?" asked Hamilton.

"Oh, certainly! to-morrow, and every night this week except to-night."

They exchanged a "Good-evening!" and parted.

It so happened that Grimaldi was reluctantly obliged to remain in town,
not only next night, but the night after also, in consequence of the
arrival in town of some country friends. On the third night, the 9th of
July, he called at the tavern to take his usual glass, before mounting
his gig, and, his mind being still occupied with thoughts of the poor
young woman and her dissipated husband, he inquired whether Hamilton
had been there that night. The reply was, he had not: he had not been
there for three evenings, or, in other words, since he had seen and
spoken to him.

When Grimaldi produced his purse to pay for the wine and water he had
drunk, he found he had nothing but two five-pound notes. He gave the
waiter one, requesting change, and put the other in his waistcoat
pocket. He usually carried notes in a pocket-book, but upon this
evening he did not happen to have it about him; in fact, he had
received the notes very unexpectedly while he was in the theatre, from
a person who owed him money. He put the change in his purse, got into
the gig, and drove homeward.

On that particular evening Grimaldi had a call to make in
Tottenham-court-road, which delayed him for some little time. As he was
passing through Kentish Town, a friend, who was standing at his door,
the weather being sultry, insisted upon his coming in and taking a
glass of wine: this detained him again, as they stood chatting for half
an hour or so; and by the time he had resumed his journey homewards it
was near the middle of the night.


[46] Grimaldi's two benefits at Sadler's Wells, were special favours
granted to him by his father-in-law, Mr. Hughes; but the burletta of
"Odd Fish; or, Mrs. Scaite in the Seraglio," was not performed in 1808.
Joe's parts this year were Clown in the pantomimes of "Harlequin's
Lottery," and "Harlequin Highflyer; or, Off She Goes." In the former,
he sang the afterwards popular ditty of the "Smithfield Bargain, or
Will Patty;" in the latter the songs of "Oh! my deary!" and "A Bull in
a China Shop." The season, which continued till November the first,
concluded with a grand Aquatic Romance, called the "Magic Minstrel;" in
this piece Grimaldi played Mulock; and Darnsit, afterwards of Covent
Garden, the part of Oberon, the Magic Minstrel. In the pantomime
of "Harlequin's Lottery," in which Mrs. Cawse, (who died in 1845,)
personated Fortune, the chief scenes had reference to Bish's far-famed
lottery offices.

[47] The season of 1807-8, at Covent Garden, closed June 27th, 1808,
not the 13th of July. That of 1808-9, began September 12th, and on
Monday 19th were performed "Pizarro," and the "Portrait of Cervantes."
About four o'clock on the following morning, flames were seen to issue
from the roof, alarm was given, but too late; in two hours more,
the whole theatre, all the adjacent buildings in Hart-street and
Bow-street, were a pile of smouldering ruins. The fire was occasioned
by leaving a German stove in the property-room, charged with fuel,
after the man had left; the pipe is supposed to have conducted the heat
to the roof, which by that means took fire. The Covent Garden Company
continued their season at the King's Theatre, from September 28th till
December 3rd, and removed to the Haymarket on December 5th.

[48] "Castles in the Air; or, Columbine Cowslip," was not produced till
the close of the season of 1809, at Sadler's Wells.

[49] Grimaldi was not in requisition for any part at the Haymarket,
till "Mother Goose" was revived with two new scenes, and subsequently a
third, on Monday, December 26, 1808. "La Perouse" was revived, "for the
first time these four years," on Thursday, January 26, 1809, and not
in March, as here stated. La Perouse was performed by Bologna, junior;
Madame Perouse, by Miss Bristow; Umba, by Miss Adams; Kanko, suitor to
Umba, by Mr. Grimaldi; their first appearance in those characters. The
eighteenth representation was on April 5th.

[50] On Joe's benefit night was performed the "Busy Body;" Marplot, by
Mr. Lewis; and "Mother Goose." Mr. Lewis took his final leave of the
stage, on the 29th, as the Copper Captain, in "Rule a Wife and Have a
Wife;" "The Ghost;" and "Valentine and Orson." The season terminated on
May 31st, with the "Exile," and "Valentine and Orson."

[51] Sadler's Wells opened at Easter, April 3, 1809, and in the
pantomime of "Fashion's Fool; or, The Aquatic Harlequin," Grimaldi
played Clown, and sang the songs of "Odd Fish," and the "Whip Club."
On Whit Monday, May 22, he played the Wild Man, in the Aquatic
Melodramatic Romance of "The Wild Man: or, Water Pageant." On July 31,
a new harlequinade, called "Castles in the Air; or, Columbine Cowslip,"
was produced. Grimaldi played Clown, with the Song of "Looney's
Lamentation for Miss Margery Muggins," and a quartetto caricatura,
called "Cut and Come Again; or, The Clown's Ordinary." On Mrs. C.
Dibdin's night, October 16, Grimaldi, in compliment to her, sang three
new songs, in addition to those pertaining to "Castles in the Air."



     His Adventure on Highgate Hill, and its consequences.

It was a fine, clear night; there was no moon, but the stars were
shining brightly; the air was soft and fresh, and very pleasant after
the heat of the day. Grimaldi drove on at a quicker pace than usual,
fearing that they might be alarmed at home by his being so late, and
having just heard some distant clock strike the three quarters after
eleven. Suddenly the horse stopped.

Near the spot was a ridge across the road for the purpose of draining
the fields on the higher side, forming a little hollow, which in the
summer was dry, and in the winter generally full of mud. The horse knew
it well, being accustomed to pause there for a minute, to cross the
ditch slowly, and then to resume his usual trot. Bending forward to
assure himself that he had arrived at this part of the road, Grimaldi
heard a low whistle, and immediately afterwards three men darted out of
a hedge. One seized the horse's bridle, and the two others rushed up,
one to each side of the gig; then, presenting pistols, they demanded
his money.

Grimaldi sat for a moment quite incapable of speaking, the surprise had
come so suddenly upon him; but hearing the cocking of a pistol close
beside him, he roused himself, and seeing that he had no chance against
three armed men, cried,

"Mercy, gentlemen, mercy!"

"You wont be hurt," said the man on his left, "so long as you give your
money directly."

"No, no," said the man at the horse's head, "you wont be hurt. Your
money is what we want."

"You shall have it," he answered; "but I expect you not to injure me."
He fumbled at his pocket for his purse, and while doing so looked
narrowly at the persons by whom he was attacked. They all wore black
crape over their faces, so that not a feature was discernible, and were
clad in very large black frocks. The disguises were complete: it was
impossible to make out anything of their appearance.

"Look sharp!" said the left-hand man; "the money!--come, we can't stay

Grimaldi extricated the purse, and handed it to the speaker. The man at
the horse's head looked sharply on, and cried,

"Tom, what has he given you?"

"His purse," was the reply.

"That wont do," said the man. "You have more money about you; I know
you have: come, hand over, will ye?"

"I have not, indeed," replied Grimaldi. "Sometimes I carry a little in
my pocket-book; but to-night I forgot to bring it with me."

"You have more money with you, and you know it," said the man who held
the bridle: "you have got a bank-note in your left-hand waistcoat

The circumstance had really escaped Grimaldi's memory; but, being
reminded of it, he drew forth the note, and delivered it to the man to
whom he had resigned his purse.

"It's all right, Tom," said the man on his right; "we had better be off

As the man spoke, he moved round the back of the gig, as if with the
intention of going away. It was the first time he had uttered a word,
and his voice struck Grimaldi as being a familiar one, though he could
not, in his confusion, recollect where or when he had heard it. He
had no time to reflect on the matter, for the man at the horse's head
demanded of the man on his left whether he had got his watch.

"No," said the fellow, "I forgot his watch. Give it here!" With these
words he again raised his pistol, which had been all this time, and
still was, on full cock.

Grimaldi gave it up, but not without a sigh, for it was the very
watch which had been presented to him with his own portrait on the
dial-plate. As he put it into the man's hand, he said,

"If you knew who I am, you would not treat me in this manner."

"Oh, we know you well enough, Mr. Grimaldi," said the man at the reins;
"we have been waiting for you these three nights, and began to think
you would not come to-night."

The other men laughed, and the man whose voice had struck him,
recommended his companion to give the watch back again.

"Oh yes, I dare say!" said the man, with a sneer, who held the horse.

"Well, I don't know," said the fellow who had been addressed as Tom; "I
don't think it's worth a couple of pounds."

"No, no, it is not; and besides, I say he shall have it again," cried
the man, whose voice, familiar at first, now seemed perfectly well
known to Grimaldi. "Here!" He snatched the watch from his comrade's
hand, who made no effort to retain it, and handed it into the gig.
Grimaldi gladly received it back; but, in the act of doing so, he saw
that the hand from which he took it had, or appeared to have, _but two
fingers upon it_.

The watch was no sooner returned than the robbers made off with great
rapidity, and he was once again alone, in a far greater state of alarm
and trepidation than when the robbers surrounded him. The revulsion
of feeling was so great, that he felt as if his existence depended
upon instant flight, and that his flight would be far more speedy if
he ran than if he rode. Acting upon the impulse of his disordered
nerves, he sprang at once out of the gig, but, not jumping sufficiently
high to clear it, was thrown, into the road, head foremost, with
great force, and struck his temple heavily against a flint. The blow
and the previous fright quite bewildered him, but did not render
him insensible; he was up again directly, and found himself, at the
expiration of some ten minutes, stopped by the patrol, to whom he was
well known. He had no recollection of running, but he had run for a
long distance, and the first thing he was conscious of, was the being
half-supported by this man, and receiving many eager inquiries what had
befallen him.

Grimaldi spoke as plainly as his agitation would permit, and related
what had passed.

"Just what I have expected to happen to somebody for these many
nights past," said the patrol. "Sir, I have watched those three men
repeatedly; it was only last night I warned 'em that I did not like to
see them loitering about my beat, and that if anything wrong happened I
should suspect them. Make your mind easy, sir; I know where they are to
be found, and I'll lay my life that in less than two hours I have them

"And what am I to do?" Grimaldi inquired.

"Nothing to-night, sir," was the patrol's reply; "I would only
recommend you to get home as fast as you can. At twelve o'clock
to-morrow, you attend at Bow Street; and if I don't show you the men, I
shall be as much surprised as you have been to-night."

The horse came up just then, having trotted on very composedly, with
the gig at his heels: taking the patrol's advice, Grimaldi got in, and
having promised to meet him next morning, made the best of his way
home, which he reached without further hindrance or interruption.

Grimaldi found his wife, as he had expected, very much terrified at
his being so late; nor were her fears allayed by his wild demeanour
and the appearance of the blow on his temple. To her hurried inquiries
he gave the best answers that occurred to him, and being unwilling to
give her any unnecessary alarm, merely remarked, that he had a fall
from his gig, which had made him giddy and uncomfortable. The pains he
afterwards took to keep the real truth from coming to her knowledge
were infinite. Every newspaper that came into the house he carefully
searched, to ascertain that it contained no paragraph relative to the
robbery; and so successful were his precautions, that she had not the
least inkling of the circumstance until more than two years afterwards,
upon their giving up the cottage at Finchley, and returning to town;
when her first exclamation was, "Oh, Joe, if I had only known this at
the time, I never could have slept another night in Finchley!"

This was exactly what Grimaldi had supposed, and he was not a little
delighted to find that he had been enabled to remain during the whole
of that time in a place to which he was very much attached, and where,
in the society of his wife and child, he had spent some of the happiest
hours of his existence.

Grimaldi got very little sleep after the robbery, his thoughts turning
all night upon the distressing consequences it seemed likely to
involve. That Hamilton was one of the men, he felt pretty well sure:
the voice and defect in the left hand were strong proofs against
him. Added to this, there was other evidence, circumstantial, it is
true, but still very weighty. It was plain, from the knowledge which
one of the thieves possessed relative to the note, that he or some
one connected with him had been at the tavern in the earlier part of
the night, and had there closely watched his actions. The doubtful
character of Archer, and his suspicious looks and manner, had struck
him often; the thieves had been waiting three nights, and for three
nights Hamilton had been absent from his usual place of resort. The
more he thought of these things, the more sure he felt that Hamilton
was a highwayman: then came the reflection, that if, upon his evidence,
he was sentenced to death, it would most probably involve the fate of
his young wife, of whose meekness and gentleness he had seen so many
tokens. He tossed and tumbled through the night, meditating upon these
things over and over again; he rose the following morning feverish and
dejected, trusting the thieves might escape rather than that he should
be the means of bringing any of his fellow-creatures to a violent
death, or dooming others to living and hopeless wretchedness.

Pleading an early call to rehearsal as the reason for his going so
early to town, he left Finchley immediately after breakfast, and drove
to Bow-street, where he found the patrol already waiting. The moment he
caught sight of the man and observed the air with which he approached
to receive him, all the hopes which he had involuntarily nourished
evaporated, and he felt terrified at the thought that a capital
prosecution at the Old Bailey was certainly reserved for him.

"Well, sir," said the man, as he helped him out of the gig, "it's all
right. I have got three men, and I have no doubt they are the fellows."

Grimaldi's distress was redoubled, and he inquired, trembling, whether
any of the stolen property had been found upon them.

The man replied, with evident chagrin, he had not succeeded so far, and
therefore supposed they had got rid of the booty before he found them;
but if they were sworn to, they would be committed at once; and that
when it was known among their companions, he had little doubt but that
he should be able to trace out some evidence relative to the note. With
this brief preparation, he led Grimaldi at once into the presence of
the magistrate, to whom he recounted the particulars of the robbery,
hinting that as he had not been personally injured by the thieves, he
had no wish to prosecute if it could be avoided; an intimation to which
the patrol listened in high dudgeon, and which the magistrate appeared
to regard with some doubt, merely observing that the circumstance might
possibly be taken into consideration with a view to the mitigation of
punishment, but could not be urged or recognised at all, in that stage
of the proceedings.

The patrol was then examined, and, after stating in effect what he had
stated to Grimaldi on the previous night, deposed that he had taken
the prisoners into custody at a place which he named. The magistrate
inquired whether any of the stolen property had been found upon them or
traced, whether any such disguises as Mr. Grimaldi had described were
discovered in their possession, and whether any suspicious implements,
offensive or defensive, had been found upon them. To all these
questions, the patrol answered in the negative, and the magistrate then
ordered that Grimaldi should be taken to view the prisoners. He also
inquired if Grimaldi thought he should recognise them; who replied that
he had no doubt he should know one of the men.

Grimaldi was taken into another room, and the first person he saw
was, as he expected, George Hamilton himself: the other two prisoners
were perfect strangers to him. They had described themselves to the
magistrate as gentlemen; but he might have exclaimed, with young
Mirabel, "For gentlemen they have the most cut-throat appearance I ever

Hamilton behaved himself with great coolness and self-possession; he
advanced without the least appearance of agitation, and said,

"How do you do, Mr. Grimaldi? It is an odd circumstance, is it not,
that I should be charged with robbing an old friend like you? But
strange coincidences happen to all of us."

Composed as the man's manner was, if Grimaldi had entered the room
with any doubt of his guilt, it was at once and entirely dispelled.
The practised eye of an old actor was not so easily deceived. He had
evidently made a desperate effort to assume an easy confidence of
manner, knowing that upon the success with which he did so, depended
his only chance of escape from the gallows.

"Why, what's this!" said the gaoler, or turnkey, or whoever had
accompanied them to the room. "Do you know him, sir?"

"Yes," said Grimaldi, looking hard at Hamilton, "I know him very well."

"Well, then, sir, of course you can tell, whether _he_ is one of the
men who robbed you?"

The pause which ensued was of not more than two or three seconds'
duration, but it was a trying one to two of the parties present.
Hamilton looked as if he awaited the reply without fear, and acted
the innocent man boldly. The turnkey and constable turned away for
an instant to speak to each other; and as they did so, Grimaldi held
up his left hand, turning down two of the fingers in imitation of
Hamilton's, and shook his head gravely. The man instantly understood
his meaning, and saw that he was known. All his assumed fortitude
forsook him; his face became ashy pale, and his whole frame trembled
with inward agitation. It appeared as if he would have fallen on the
floor, but he rallied a little; and after bestowing a look of intense
supplication upon Grimaldi, laid his finger on his lip, and fixed his
eyes on the ground.

"Well, sir," said the patrol, "there they are; can you swear to them
all, or to any of them?"

A thousand thoughts crowded through Grimaldi's brain, but one was
uppermost the desire to save this young man, whom he strongly suspected
to be but a beginner in crime. After a moment's pause, he replied, that
he could not swear to any one of them.

"Then," said the turnkey to the patrol, with a meaning look, "either
you have gone upon a wrong scent altogether, or these chaps have had a
very narrow escape."

After informing the magistrate that it was not in his power to identify
the prisoners, Grimaldi hurried away. The men were discharged in the
course of the afternoon, and thus terminated the interview at the

A day or two afterwards, Hamilton called at Grimaldi's house, and, in
a conversation with him, humbly acknowledged that he was one of the
men who had robbed him; that he had been incited to the act, partly
by an anxiety to acquire money faster than he could make it in trade,
and partly by the persuasions of his friend Archer; but that it was
his first attempt at crime, and should be his last. He thanked his
benefactor in the warmest and most grateful manner for his clemency;
and Grimaldi then acquainted him with the designs of Archer upon
his wife, severely reprobating the vicious habits which had led him
to abandon one by whose means he might have been rendered happy and
respectable, and saved from his guilty career, and leaving her exposed
to the insults of men inured to every species of villany and crime.
Hamilton assured him that neither his information nor his advice was
ill bestowed, and after a long interview they parted, he pouring forth
his thanks and promises of reformation, and Grimaldi repeating his
forgiveness and his admonitions.

Grimaldi had reason to hope that Hamilton kept his promise, and shrunk
from his old associates, for he resided nearly twenty years after that
period in Clerkenwell, carrying on a good business, and bearing the
reputation of an honest man.

At this time Grimaldi was in the habit of taking three benefits every
year; that is to say, two at Sadler's Wells, and one at Covent Garden.
Regularly on the morning of each of these occasions, for very many
years, some person called at his house for ten box-tickets, always
paying for them at the time, in exactly the amount required, and
leaving the house immediately, as if anxious to avoid notice. He was
in the constant habit of receiving anonymous remittances for tickets,
and therefore did not attach much importance to this circumstance,
although it struck him as being singular in one respect, inasmuch as
the greater part of his friends who took tickets for his Sadler's Wells
benefits, did not take them on his Covent Garden nights, and _vice
versâ_. The family became at last so used to it, that when they were
sorting tickets on the night before one of his benefits, his wife would
regularly say, "Don't forget to put ten on the mantelpiece for the
gentleman who calls early in the morning." This continued for perhaps
twelve years or more, when one day, as his servant was giving him the
money, paid as usual by the unknown person for his admissions, he
casually inquired of the girl what kind of person in appearance this
gentleman was.

"Oh, I really don't know, sir," she replied; "there is nothing
particular about him, except--"

"Well, except what?"

"Except, sir, that he has only got two fingers on his left hand."

The mystery was explained.

The fate of this man was truly pitiable. A neighbour's house having
taken fire, and being in imminent hazard of destruction, Hamilton
rushed in with several others to save some children who were in danger
of perishing in the flames. He darted up stairs through the smoke and
reached the second story. The instant he set his feet upon it, the
whole flooring gave way, and sank with him into the mass of glowing
fire below, from which his body, burnt to a cinder, was dug out some
days afterwards.


1809 to 1812.

     Opening of the new Covent Garden Theatre--The Great O. P.
        Rows--Grimaldi's first appearance as Clown in the public
        streets--Temporary Embarrassments--Great success at Cheltenham
        and Gloucester--He visits Berkeley Castle and is introduced to
        Lord Byron--Fish Sauce and Apple Pie.

On the 18th of September in this year, the new theatre in Covent Garden
opened with Shakspeare's tragedy of Macbeth and the musical afterpiece
of The Quaker, with the following casts:--


     Duncan, King of Scotland      Mr. Chapman.
     Malcolm                       Mr. Claremont.
     Donaldbain                    Mr. Menage.
     Macbeth                       Mr. John Kemble.
     Banquo                        Mr. Murray.
     Fleance                       Miss Bristow.
     Lenox                         Mr. Cresswell.
     Rosse                         Mr. Brunton.
     Witches                       Messrs. Blanchard, Farley and
     Lady Macbeth                  Mrs. Siddons.

          THE QUAKER.

     Steady                        Mr. Incledon.
     Lubin                         Mr. Taylor.
     Solomon                       Mr. Liston.
     Gillian                       Miss Bolton.
     Floretta                      Mrs. Liston.

It was at this period that the great O. P. Row began, of which so
much has been said, and sung, and written, that little of novelty
or interest could accompany the description of it here. Everybody
knows that the O. P. Row originated in the indignation with which the
play-going public regarded an increase in the prices of admission of
one shilling each person to the boxes, and sixpence to the pit, with
which was coupled a considerable increase in the number of private
boxes; and everybody knows, moreover, that the before-mentioned
play-going public expressed their dissatisfaction night after night
in scenes of the most extraordinary and unparalelled nature. The
noises made by the audience utterly overwhelmed every attempt that the
actors could make to render themselves audible. Not a word that was
said on the stage could be distinguished even in the front row of
the pit, and the O. P. (Old Price) rioters, fearful that the exercise
of their voices would not create sufficient uproar, were in the habit
of bringing the most extraordinary variety of curious and ill-toned
instruments with them, to add to the noise and discordance of the
scene. One gentleman, who constantly seated himself in the boxes,
regaled himself and the company with a watchman's rattle, which he
sprang vigorously at short intervals throughout the performances;
another took his seat regularly every night in the centre of the pit,
armed with a large dustman's bell, which he rang with a perseverance
and strength of arm quite astounding to all beholders;[52] and a party
of three or four pleasant fellows brought live pigs, which were pinched
at the proper times, and added considerably to the effect of the

But rattles, bells, pigs, trumpets, French horns, sticks, umbrellas,
catcalls, and bugles, were not the only vocal weapons used upon these
occasions: Kemble was constantly called for, constantly came on, and
constantly went off again without being able to obtain a hearing.
Numbers of Bow-street officers were in regular attendance: whenever
they endeavoured to seize the ringleaders, the ringleaders were
defended by their partisans, and numerous fights (in one of which a
man was nearly killed) resulted. Scarce an evening passed without
flaming speeches being made from pit, boxes, and gallery; and sometimes
half-a-dozen speeches would be in course of delivery at the same time.
The greater portion of the time of the magistrates was occupied in
investigations connected with the disturbances, and this state of
things continued for nearly seventy nights. Placards were exhibited in
every part of the house, principally from the pit; of the quality of
which effusions the following may be taken as specimens:

     "_Notice to the Public._--This house and furniture to be sold,
     Messrs. John Kemble & Co. declining business."

     "_Notice to the Public._--The workhouse in Covent Garden has been
     repaired, and greatly enlarged for the use of the Public."

     "_Cause of Justice._--John Bull _versus_ John Kemble--verdict for
     the plaintiff."

     A large coffin with the inscription, "Here lies the body of New
     Prices, who died of the _whooping_-cough, Sept. 23, 1809, aged six

The instant the performances began, the audience, who had been
previously sitting with their faces to the stage, as audiences
generally do, wheeled round to a man, and turned their backs upon it.
When they concluded, which, in consequence of the fearful uproar, was
frequently as early as half-past nine o'clock, they united in singing a
parody on "God save the King," of which the first verse ran thus:--

    "God save great Johnny Bull,
    Long live our noble Bull,
        God save John Bull!
    Send him victorious,
    Loud and uproarious,
    With lungs like Boreas;
        God save John Bull!"

Then followed the O. P. dance and a variety of speeches, and then the
rioters would quietly disperse.

The opinions of the press being, as a matter of course, divided on
every question, were necessarily divided upon this. The _Times_ and
_Post_ supported the new system; in consequence of which a placard was
exhibited from the pit every evening for at least a week, with the

    "The Times and Post are bought and sold,
    By Kemble's pride and Kemble's gold."

The _Chronicle_, on the other hand, took up the opposite side of the
question, and supported the O. P. rioters with great fervour and
constancy. In its columns one of the most popular of the numerous
squibs on the subject appeared, which is here inserted. It may be
necessary to premise that "Jack," was John Kemble; that the "Cat" was
Madame Catalani, then engaged at Covent Garden Theatre, and who was
much opposed at that time, in consequence of her being a foreigner; and
that the "boxes" were the new private boxes, among the great objects of
popular execration.


     "This is the House that Jack built.

     "These are the boxes, let to the great, that visit the house that
     Jack built.

     "These are the pigeon-holes, over the boxes, let to the great,
     that visit the house that Jack built.

     "This is the Cat, engaged to squall, to the poor in the
     pigeon-holes, over the boxes, let to the great, that visit the
     house that Jack built.

     "This is John Bull, with a bugle-horn, that hissed the Cat,
     engaged to squall, to the poor in the pigeon-holes, over the
     boxes, let to the great, that visit the house that Jack built.

       "This is the thief-taker, shaven and shorn,
       That took up John Bull, with his bugle-horn,
     who hissed the Cat, engaged to squall, to the poor in the
     pigeon-holes, over the boxes, let to the great, that visit the
     house that Jack built.

       "This is the manager, full of scorn,
       Who RAISED THE PRICES to the people forlorn,
       And directed the thief-taker, shaven and shorn,
       To take up John Bull, with his bugle-horn,
     who hissed the Cat, engaged to squall, to the poor in the
     pigeon-holes, over the boxes, let to the great, that visit the
     house that Jack built."

When this had gone on for several nights, Kemble sent for Grimaldi,
and said, that as the people would not hear dialogue they would
try pantomime, which might perhaps suit their tastes better, and
accordingly "Don Juan"[53] was put up for the next night, Grimaldi
sustaining his old part of Scaramouch. He was received on his entrance
with great applause, and it happened oddly enough that on that night
there was little or no disturbance. This circumstance, which he
naturally attributed in some degree to himself, pleased him amazingly,
as indeed it did Kemble also, who, shaking him cordially by the hand
when he came off, said, "Bravo, Joe! we have got them now; we'll act
this again to-morrow night." And so they did; but it appeared that
they had not "got them" either, for the uproar recommenced with, if
possible, greater fury than before, all the performers agreeing that
until that moment they had never heard such a mighty and indescribable

Eventually, on the fifteenth of December,[54] the famous O. P. row
terminated, on the proprietors of the theatre lowering the charge of
admission to the pit, removing the obnoxious private boxes, rescinding
Madame Catalani's engagement, discharging Mr. James Brandon, house
and box book-keeper, who had rendered himself greatly offensive to
the O. P. people, abandoning all prosecutions against those who had
been required to answer for their misconduct at the sessions, and
offering a public apology. The ungracious task of making it, fell upon
Mr. Kemble, who delivered what it was deemed necessary to say, with
remarkable self-possession and dignity. It was received by the audience
with great applause, and a placard was immediately hoisted in the pit,
bearing the words, "We are satisfied;" it was speedily followed by a
similar announcement in the boxes; and thus terminated[55] the famous O.
P. war, wholly unparalleled in dramatic or indeed in any other annals.

At Christmas, "Harlequin Pedlar, or the Haunted Well," was produced: it
met with very great success, being played fifty-two nights. In March,
1810, Grimaldi first appeared as Skirmish in "The Deserter of Naples;"
and "Mother Goose" was again played. The theatre closed in July, and
re-opened in October.[56] Nothing particular new was done that season
at Sadler's Wells. At Christmas, 1810, he appeared, as usual, in the
Covent Garden pantomime, which was called "Harlequin Asmodeus, or
Cupid on Crutches." It was acted for forty-six nights, and was played
occasionally until May, 1811.[57]

During this month he had to play Clown at both theatres, the pantomime
being acted as the first piece at Sadler's Wells, and as the last piece
at Covent Garden. Not having time to change his dress, and indeed
having no reason for doing so if he had, in consequence of his playing
the same character at both houses, he was accustomed to have a coach
in waiting, into which he threw himself the moment he had finished at
Sadler's Wells, and was straightway carried to Covent Garden to begin

One night it so happened that by some forgetfulness or mistake on the
part of the driver, the coach which usually came for him failed to
make its appearance. It was a very wet night, and not having a moment
to lose, he sent for another. After a considerable interval, during
which he was in an agony of fear lest the Covent Garden stage should
be kept waiting, the messenger returned in a breathless state with the
information that there was not a coach to be got. There was only one
desperate alternative, and that was to run through the streets. Knowing
that his appearance at Covent Garden must by this time be necessary, he
made up his mind to do it, and started off at once.

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_Appearing in Public._]

The night being very dark, he got on pretty well at first; but when he
came into the streets of Clerkenwell, where the lights of the shops
showed him in his Clown's dress running along at full speed, people
began to grow rather astonished. First, a few people turned round to
look after him, and then a few more, and so on until there were a great
many, and at last, one man who met him at a street corner, recognising
the favourite, gave a loud shout of, "Here's Joe Grimaldi!"

This was enough. Off set Grimaldi faster than ever, and on came the
mob, shouting, huzzaing, screaming out his name, throwing up their
caps and hats, and exhibiting every manifestation of delight. He ran
into Holborn with several hundred people at his heels, and being lucky
enough to find a coach there, jumped in. But this only increased the
pressure of the crowd, who followed the vehicle with great speed and
perseverance; when, suddenly poking his head out of the window, he gave
one of his famous and well-known laughs. Upon this the crowd raised
many roars of laughter and applause, and hastily agreed, as with one
accord, that they would see him safe and sound to Covent Garden. So,
the coach went on surrounded by the dirtiest body-guard that was ever
beheld, not one of whom, deserted his post, until Grimaldi had been
safely deposited at the stage-door; when, after raising a vociferous
cheer, such of them as had money rushed round to the gallery-doors,
and making their appearance in the front just as he came on the stage,
set up a boisterous shout of, "Here he is again!" and cheered him
enthusiastically, to the infinite amusement of every person in the
theatre who had got wind of the story.

In the season of 1811, "The Great Devil" was revived at Sadler's
Wells:[58] he played a part in it in which he was highly successful and
applauded to the very echo. In July, he injured his chest severely by
falling upon a tight-rope, and was obliged for several weeks to give
up all his theatrical engagements. He reappeared at Covent Garden in
October following,[59] playing in "Asmodeus," "Mother Goose," "Valentine
and Orson," and "Raymond and Agnes;" in the latter piece he supported,
for the first time, the part of Robert. On the 26th of December the
new pantomime appeared; it was called "Harlequin and Padmanaba, or the
Golden Fish," and went off very well.

One of his earlier appearances in the regular drama occurred in the
following June (1812),[60] when, for his own benefit, he played Acres in
"The Rivals." The house was a very good one, and he cleared upwards of
two hundred pounds by it.

This year was rendered remarkable to him by some temporary
embarrassments into which he was plunged, partly, he says, by the great
expense consequent upon keeping a country as well as a town house,
and partly by the great extravagance of his wife, who, although an
excellent woman, had, like everybody else, some fault; hers was a love
of dress which almost amounted to a mania. Finding that retrenchment
must be the order of the day, he gave up his house at Finchley,
discharged his groom, sold his horse and gig, and placed his affairs in
the hands of Mr. Harmer, the solicitor, to whom circumstances had so
oddly introduced him a few years before. Seven or eight months served
to bring affairs into the right train again; by the end of that time
every one of his creditors had been paid to the last penny of their

In 1812, there was nothing particularly worthy of notice at Sadler's
Wells. His second benefit, which took place in October, was a great
one, the receipts being two hundred and twenty-five pounds. It was
supposed the theatre would not hold more than two hundred pounds, but
no benefit of his ever brought him less than two hundred and ten; and
indeed one, which we shall presently have occasion to mention, produced
nearly two hundred and seventy pounds--whether those who contributed
this sum were all in the theatre at one period or not, we cannot of
course pretend to say.

In the latter end of this month, he entered into an engagement to
perform for two nights with Mr. Watson of the Cheltenham theatre,
who arranged to give him a clear half of whatever the receipts might
be. Previously to leaving town, he consulted with Mr. Hughes about
this speculation, who told him that Cheltenham was a bad theatrical
town, on account of its having many other amusements; but still he
fancied he might clear his expenses, and perhaps forty or fifty pounds
besides. At the appointed time he left London, having received a
species of half-notice from Mr. Harris, that he would not be wanted
at Covent Garden: and on the next night, played Scaramouch and sang
Tippitywitchet with great _éclat_ at Cheltenham. The following evening
he played Clown in a little pantomime of his own concoction.

The house was full on each occasion, the performances gave perfect
satisfaction, and he was induced by the manager to stay in that part of
the country two days longer, and to go to Gloucester, nine miles off,
at which place he likewise had a theatre. Thither they started early on
the following morning, played the same pieces as at Cheltenham, and met
with an equal degree of success.

After the performances were over, Mr. Watson and he supped together;
and when the cloth was removed, the former said,

"Now, Joe, I can only allow you to take one glass of punch, time is so
very precious."

"I do not understand you," replied Grimaldi.

"Why, what I mean is, that it is now twelve o'clock, and time to go to
bed," he answered.

"Oh! with all my heart," said Grimaldi. "But this is something new, I
suspect, with you. Last night, I remember, it was three hours later
than this, before you suffered me to retire; and the night previous it
was later even than that."

"Ay, ay," replied Watson; "but to-night we had perhaps better get to
bed soon, as to-morrow I want you to go out rather early with me."

"What do you call rather early?" inquired Grimaldi.

"Why, let me see, we must start before three," answered the manager.

"Indeed!" said Grimaldi; "then I shall wish you good-night at once;"
and so saying, without any loss of time, he went to his chamber.
After they had stepped into a chaise next day, he found that their
destination was Berkeley Castle, to which its host had sent them a
special invitation, and that their morning's amusement was to consist
of coursing.

He had the honour of an acquaintance with Colonel Berkeley, (now Lord
Segrave,) at whose table he was occasionally in the habit of dining,
and upon their arrival at the castle was most hospitably received.
The castle was full of company. Several noblemen were there, as well
as distinguished commoners: among the former was Lord Byron, whom
he had frequently seen, and who always patronized his benefits at
Covent Garden, but with whom he had never conversed. Colonel Berkeley
introduced him to such of the company as he was unacquainted with, and,
in common with the rest, to Lord Byron, who instantly advanced towards
him, and, making several low bows, expressed in very hyperbolical
terms his "great and unbounded satisfaction in becoming acquainted with
a man of such rare and profound talents," &c. &c.

Perceiving that his lordship was disposed to be facetious at
his expense, Grimaldi felt half inclined to reply in a similar
strain; but, reflecting that he might give offence by doing so,
abstained--resolving, however, not to go entirely unrevenged for the
joke which he was evidently playing him: he returned all the bows
and congees threefold, and as soon as the ceremonious introduction
was over, made a face at Colonel Berkeley, expressive of mingled
gratification and suspicion, which threw those around into a roar of
laughter; while Byron, who did not see it, looked round for the cause
of the merriment in a manner which redoubled it at once.

"Grimaldi," said the Colonel, "after breakfast, at which meal we expect
your company and that of Mr. Watson, you shall have a course with the
greyhounds yonder; then you must return and dine with us. We will have
dinner early, so that you can reach the theatre in time to perform."

To this, he had no further reply to make, than to express his gratitude
for such consideration and kindness. After they had taken a plentiful
meal, they went out with the dogs, and had some famous sport. Hares
were so plentiful that they started twenty-seven in one field; and the
day being fine, and the novelty great, Grimaldi was highly delighted
with the proceedings.

Upon their return to the castle, they found most of the party with whom
they had breakfasted assembled together, and shortly afterwards they
sat down to dinner. Lord Byron sat on Grimaldi's left, and a young
nobleman whom he knew very well, from his being constantly behind the
scenes at Covent Garden, but whose name he could not recollect, on his

"Grimaldi," whispered this young nobleman, just as dinner commenced,
"did you ever meet Byron before?"

"Never, my lord," answered Grimaldi: "that is, never to converse with

"Then, of course, you have not met him at a dinner-party?"

"Never, my lord."

"Well, then," continued the young gentleman, who, as anybody but
Grimaldi would have seen, was playing on his simplicity in conjunction
with Lord Byron, "I will tell you why I asked these questions: I was
anxious, if you should chance not to know his lordship's peculiarities,
to point out to you one trifling but still distinguishing one, to which
if you happen to oppose yourself, he will infallibly take a dislike
to you; and I need not assure you that it is always best for a public
character to be on good terms rather than bad with such men."

Grimaldi bowed his thanks, and really did feel very grateful.

"What I allude to is simply this," added his noble friend: "Byron
is very courteous at the dinner-table, but does not like to have his
courtesy thrown away, or slighted; I would recommend you, if he asks
you to take anything, as he is almost sure to do, no matter whether it
be to eat or drink, not to refuse."

"I am very much obliged to you, my lord," was Grimaldi's reply: "in
fact, I look upon your kindness as a great personal favour, and I shall
carefully act upon your recommendation."

And so he did, and so indeed he had plenty of opportunities of doing;
for Lord Byron asked him to partake of so many things, none of which
he liked to decline, that at last he was quite gorged, and was almost
fearful that if it lasted much longer, he should be unable to perform
that night at Gloucester.

Towards the end of the repast his lordship invited him to eat a little
apple-tart, which he thought he could manage, the more especially as he
was very fond of it; he therefore acquiesced, with many thanks; and the
tart being placed before him, commenced operations. Byron looked at him
for a moment, and then said, with much seeming surprise--

"Why, Mr. Grimaldi, do you not take soy with your tart?"

"Soy, my lord?"

"Yes, soy: it is very good with salmon, and therefore it must be nice
with apple-pie."

Poor Grimaldi did not see the analogy, and was upon the point of
saying so; but his friend on his right touched his elbow, when
recollecting what he had previously communicated, he bowed assent to
Byron's proposal, and proceeded to pour some of the fish-sauce over
the tart. After one or two vain attempts to swallow a mouthful of
the vile mess, he addressed Lord Byron with considerable formality,
begging him to observe, "that no one could do more justice than himself
to his kindness, but that he really trusted he would forgive his
declining to eat the mixture he had recommended; as, however much the
confession might savour of bad taste, he really did not relish soy with

He was much relieved by Byron's taking the apology in very good part,
and by the rest of the company laughing most heartily--at what, he
says, he cannot possibly tell, _unless_ it had been determined to put
a joke upon him. We should imagine that it had been; but, in any case,
should be strongly disposed to say, that a great deal more of innate
politeness was displayed on the side of simplicity than on that of

Shortly afterwards they took their leave and returned to Gloucester,
where they found the theatre crowded as before. The performances went
off as well as possible; and after all was over, Watson presented him
with one hundred and ninety-five pounds as his share.

At seven o'clock next morning he was on his road to London, where he
arrived that night.

Early on the following morning, he waited upon his friend, Mr. Hughes;
and having reminded him that "Cheltenham was a very bad theatrical
town, on account of its spas and other amusements, but that still it
was possible forty or fifty pounds might be made there," triumphantly
exhibited his one hundred and ninety-four pounds.

In the evening he called at Covent Garden, and saw Mr. H. Harris,
who informed him that Mr. Dimond, of the Bath and Bristol theatres,
wished to engage him for five weeks--that his terms were twenty-five
pounds per week, with half a clear benefit at each of the places named;
and that if he liked to go, he was at perfect liberty to do so, the
proprietors of Covent Garden not needing his services until Christmas.
His salary was to be paid, however, just as though he were performing.

Of this liberality he gladly availed himself; and after expressing his
gratitude, wrote to Dimond, accepting the proposal. A week after he had
returned from Gloucester, he left town for Bath.


[52] The gentleman who made notes of Grimaldi's recollections subjoins
a note to the effect, that the gentleman who rang the bell is a
personal acquaintance of his, and that he has repeatedly heard him
mention the circumstance, which he looks back upon now as an act of
thoughtless folly, but which he considered then as the performance of a
sacred duty to the public. He was at that time in his nonage, studying
(after a manner) the law; he is now, and has long been, editor of a
newspaper published in Sussex.

[53] The tragic pantomimic ballet of "Don Juan" was one of the pieces
intended for representation, and for which new dresses and properties
had to be prepared, without reference to the Old Price Riots, and
was played for the first time in the New Theatre on November 20;
Scaramouch, by Mr. Grimaldi; Donna Anna, by Miss Bristow. The piece was
performed several nights in succession.

[54] Kemble this night played Penruddock, in the "Wheel of Fortune;"
the afterpiece, "The Blind Boy."

[55] It was resumed on the opening of the season of 1810-11; the
private boxes remaining the same; on September 18th the theatre closed;
the obnoxious boxes were rendered free to the public, and on the 24th,
peace was finally established.

[56] The "Deserter of Naples" was revived at Covent Garden on May 23,
1810, not in March; nor in fact was this Grimaldi's first appearance as
Skirmish. He had in the last season, in the Old Theatre, played that
part for Mr. Charles Taylor's benefit, June 3, 1808. After its revival
in May, the "Deserter of Naples" was repeated a few nights during
the remnant of that season. "Mother Goose" was again revived on June
12th. The theatre closed on July 6th, and re-opened for the season of
1810-11, on September 10th, not October, as here stated.

[57] Grimaldi in this pantomime introduced the happiest of his
creations--the vegetable pugilistic figure. On the night of his benefit
at Covent Garden, June 25th, Joe played Acres in the "Rivals," as
the bills announced, "for this night only." "Harlequin and Asmodeus"
followed, for the forty-sixth time. The season terminated on July 24,

[58] Sadler's Wells opened on Easter Monday, April 15, 1811, with
"Dulce Domum;" Clown, Mr. Grimaldi, with two new songs, "A Peep at
Turkey," and "Massena's Retreat." "Harlequin and Blue Beard" followed
on July 15, in which Joe, in the character of Clown, sang "Mr. Greig
and Mrs. Snap; or, Bubble, Squeak, and Pettitoes." The season extended
till October. At Covent Garden, September 30th, "Raymond and Agnes"
was revived, and the parts of Jaques and Robert, sons of Baptiste the
robber, were played by Grimaldi and Cardoza; and on boxing-night,
December 26th, the new pantomime called "Harlequin and Padmanaba; or,
The Golden Fish," in which Grimaldi played Cayfacat Adhri, the Persian
cook, afterwards Clown. This entertainment was highly attractive:
several embossed prints were published of Joe's drolly transformed
vehicle, drawn by a pair of dogs, to ridicule the superb curricle of a
West Indian gentleman better known as Mr. Romeo Coates.

[59] Covent Garden commenced the season of 1811-12, in September, not
October. Joe, on September 11th, played Kanko, in "La Perouse;" on the
16th, Clown in "Harlequin and Asmodeus;" on the 26th, Orson; and on the
30th of the same month, in "Raymond and Agnes." Norman played Joe's
part of Baptiste the robber; Grimaldi and Cardoza for the first time
represented his sons Jaques and Robert, by which a change productive of
greater scenic power was effected.

[60] Grimaldi played Acres at Covent Garden theatre, June 25, 1811. On
the night of his benefit, June 24, 1812, "Cato" was performed, followed
by the pantomime of "Harlequin Padmanaba," for the forty-ninth or
fiftieth representation that season.


1812 to 1816.

     A Clergyman's Dinner-party at Bath--First Appearance
        of Grimaldi's Son, and Death of his old Friend, Mr.
        Hughes--Grimaldi plays at three Theatres on one night, and has
        his Salary stopped for his pains--His severe illness--Second
        journey to Bath--Davidge, "Billy Coombes," and the
        Chest--Facetiousness of the aforesaid Billy.

Two days after his arrival in Bath he appeared at the theatre, where
he was fortunate enough to elicit the warmest applause and approbation
from a crowded audience; nor was he less successful at Bristol, the
theatre being completely filled every night he performed. He remained
in this part of the country during five weeks, playing four nights in
every week at Bath, and the remaining two at Bristol. By this trip he
realized 287_l._-125_l._ for salary, and 162_l._ for benefits; but
although it was a lucrative expedition, it was by no means a pleasant
one, the weather being exceedingly inclement, and he being compelled
to return to Bath every evening after the performances at Bristol were
over. The nightly rides at that season of the year were by no means
agreeable; he suffered very much from colds, and, upon the whole, was
very far from sorry when his engagement terminated.

During his stay at Bath a little incident happened, developing, in a
striking point of view, a very repulsive trait of discourtesy and bad
breeding in a quarter where, least of any, such an exhibition might
have been looked for.

Higman, the bass-singer, who was then in great repute, and was
afterwards the original Gabriel, in Guy Mannering, but is since dead,
was invited with Grimaldi to dine with a reverend gentleman of that
city. They accepted the invitation, and upon their arrival found a
pretty large party of gentlemen assembled, the clerical host of course
presiding. The very instant the cloth was removed, this gentleman
commanded, rather than asked, Higman to sing a song. Not wishing
to appear desirous of enhancing the merit of the song by frivolous
objections, he at once consented, although he had scarcely swallowed
his meal. It was deservedly very much applauded and complimented, and
the moment the applause had ceased, the reverend doctor turned to
Grimaldi, and in the same peremptory manner requested a song from him.
He begged leave to decline for the present, urging--what was indeed the
truth--that he had scarcely swallowed his dinner. The observation made
by the host in reply rather astonished him.

"What, Mr. Grimaldi!" he exclaimed, hastily, "not sing, sir! Why, I
asked you here, sir, to-day expressly to sing."

"Indeed, sir!" said Grimaldi, rising from the table: "then I heartily
wish you had said so when you gave me the invitation; in which case
you would have saved me the inconvenience of coming here to-day, and
prevented my wishing you, as I now beg to do, a very unceremonious

With these words he left the apartment, and very soon afterwards the

It may appear to a great many persons a remarkable circumstance that
a pantomime Clown should have been called upon to read a lesson of
politeness and common decency to a reverend divine. The circumstance,
however, happened literally as it is here narrated. A somewhat similar
story has been told of another well-known actor; but this rudeness,
whether it arose in ignorance or intention, was offered to Grimaldi by
the reverend gentleman in question, whose name he well remembered, but
which we abstain from mentioning.

The Christmas pantomime at Covent Garden was entitled "Harlequin and
the Red Dwarf, or the Adamant Rock:" it was entirely successful.[61] On
Easter Monday, 1813, the melodrama of "Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp,"
written by Mr. Farley, was acted for the first time, Grimaldi playing
the character of Kasrac, a dumb slave, which became one of his most
popular characters.[62] The Sadler's Wells season merits no further
notice than that, as usual, it was very profitable, and that Grimaldi
produced a dance, called "Fun and Physic," which was performed every

Covent Garden re-opened in September; and this year he was in constant
requisition before Christmas, as well as after, Aladdin being found an
extremely profitable piece. "Harlequin and the Swans, or the Bath of
Beauty," was produced at Christmas,[63] and followed at Easter by "Sadak
and Kalasrade," in which Grimaldi played Hassan.

Having now none of those amusements which in former years had served
to employ his idle hours having lost his flies, given up his pigeons,
removed from Finchley, sold his house, and resigned his garden, he
devoted the whole of his leisure time to the society and improvement
of his son. As he could not bear to part with him, and was wholly
unable to make up his mind to send him to any great boarding-school,
he was partly educated at the same school at which his father had
been a pupil, and partly by masters who attended him at home. The
father appears to have bestowed great and praiseworthy care upon his
education. Although at this time he was only twelve years old, he had
not only quite mastered the common rudiments of learning, but had
become well acquainted with French literature, and wrote the language
with ease and propriety. He had at a very early age manifested a great
fondness for music, especially the violin, and had acquired great
proficiency on that instrument, under the tuition of one of the first
masters in the country.

As he was a very clever boy, was an excellent dancer, and displayed a
great fondness and aptitude for the stage, his father finding that his
inclinations lay irrevocably that way, determined to encourage them,
and accordingly proceeded to instruct him in melodrama and pantomime.
He fancied that in his old age, when his own heyday of fame and profit
was over, he should gather new life from the boy's success, and that
old times would be called up vividly before him when he witnessed his
popularity in characters which had first brought his father before the
public, and enabled him gradually, after the loss of his property, to
acquire an independent and respectable station in society. The wish was
a natural one, and the old man cherished it dearly for many years. It
was decreed otherwise; and although in his better days the blight of
this hope caused him great grief and misery, he endeavoured to bear it
with humility and resignation.

On the 26th of April[64] he resumed his labours at Sadler's Wells. He
acted in a drama called the "Slave Pirate," which was successful. His
first benefit brought him 216_l._, and his second 263_l._ 10_s._; the
last-named being the best he ever had at that house.

The great attraction of this benefit of 1814[65] was the first
appearance on any stage, of his son, who performed "Friday" in
"Robinson Crusoe," Grimaldi playing the latter part himself, and thus
introducing his son to the public in the same piece in which his father
had brought him forward thirty-three years before. For six weeks
previous to the _début_, the pains he had taken to render him master
of the character, and the drillings he gave him were innumerable,
although they rather arose from the nervousness of the father than from
any lack of intelligence on the part of the son, who not only rapidly
acquired the instructions communicated to him, but in many instances
improved upon them considerably. His intended appearance was kept a
profound secret until within a week of the night on which he was to
perform; and when the announcement was at length made, the demand for
tickets and places was immense. The result was, that the benefit not
only turned out, as has already been mentioned, the best Grimaldi ever
had, but the reception of the son was enthusiastic, and his exertions
were both applauded by the public and commended in the newspapers. It
may appear a mere matter of course to say that the father considered
the performance the best that he had ever seen; but long afterwards,
when the boy was dead, and censure or praise was alike powerless to
assist or harm him, Grimaldi expressed, in the same strong terms, his
high opinion of his abilities, and his conviction that had he been only
moderate and temperate in the commonest degree, he must in a few years
have equalled, if not greatly excelled, anything which he himself had
achieved in his very best days.

On the 20th of December following, he sustained a severe loss in the
death of his constant and sincere friend, Mr. Richard Hughes, who had
been his well-wisher and adviser from infancy, and whose relationship
to his first wife gave him a strong and lasting claim on his regard.
As another instance of the severe and mental trials which an actor
has to undergo, it may be mentioned that during the time his friend
was lying dead, he was engaged for many hours each day in rehearsing
broadly humorous pantomime, and that, as if to render the contrast more
striking, the burial being fixed for the 26th of the month, he was
compelled to rehearse part of his Clown's character on the stage, to
run to the funeral, to get back from the churchyard to the theatre to
finish the rehearsal, and to exert all his comic powers at night to set
the audience in a roar.

This pantomime was founded upon the story of Whittington and his
Cat, and had a very extended run. On the night of its production, his
spirits were so affected by the calamity he had sustained, that it was
with great difficulty he could go through his part, in which he had
very nearly failed. He succeeded by a strong effort in finishing the
piece; and although his health paid very dearly for this and other
efforts of the same nature, the constant bustle and excitement of his
professional duties aided in recovering him, and enabling him to act
with his accustomed vivacity.

The harlequinade of "The Talking Bird" was produced at Sadler's Wells
this season, in which he first enacted the Bird and afterwards the
Clown. During the run of this pantomime he performed the remarkable
feat of playing three very heavy parts (two of them Clowns) at three
different theatres on the same night. He was intimately acquainted with
a Mr. Hayward, who, being married to a clever actress at the Surrey,
one Miss Dely, begged him as a great favour to act for her at that
theatre on her benefit night. He asked and obtained permission from
the proprietors of Sadler's Wells, but could not do the same at Covent
Garden, as Mr. Harris was absent from town. He did not think it a point
of any great importance, however, inasmuch as he had not been called
upon to act for some time, and nothing was then announced in which it
was at all likely he would be wanted. Unfortunately, on the very night
of the benefit, "La Perouse," in which he acted, was advertised at
Covent Garden. In this dilemma, he hurried over the water, explained
the circumstance, and pointed out the impossibility of his performing
at the Surrey.

But the Surrey people who had advertised him stoutly contending that
there was no impossibility in the case, assured him that all would be
right; that he should play there first, then go to Sadler's Wells, and
then to Covent Garden to finish the evening. To the end that he should
be in good time at each house, it was proposed that a chaise, with the
best horses that could be procured, should be provided, and held in
readiness to carry him at the greatest possible speed from place to

Not having the heart to disappoint the parties interested, he consented
to this arrangement. At the Surrey, he played with Bologna in the
pantomime; the moment it was over, he jumped into a chaise and four
that was waiting at the door, and started for Sadler's Wells. Bologna
accompanied him to see the issue of the proceeding, and, by dashing
through the streets at a most extraordinary pace, they reached Sadler's
Wells just at the commencement of the overture for the pantomime.
Hurrying to re-paint his face, which had been very much bedaubed by
the rain, which poured upon it, as he looked out of the chaise-window
entreating the postboys to drive a little slower, and thrusting himself
into the dress of the "Talking Bird," he was ready at the instant
when the call-boy told him he was wanted. There still remained Covent
Garden, and towards the close of the pantomime he grew very anxious,
looking constantly towards the sides of the stage to see if Bologna
was still there; for as he was the Perouse of the night, and was
wanted a full half-hour before him, he felt something like security so
long as he remained. At length the pantomime was over, and once more
taking their seats in the same chaise, they drove at the same furious
pace to Covent Garden, and were ready dressed and in the green-room
before the first bars of the overture had been played. This change
of dress assisted greatly in recovering him from his fatigue, and he
went through the third part as well as the first, feeling no greater
exhaustion at the close of the performances than was usual with him on
an ordinary night. The only refreshment which he took during the whole
evening was one glass of warm ale and a biscuit. He plumed himself very
much on this feat; for although he had played clown at two theatres for
twenty-eight nights successively, he considered it something out of the
common way, and triumphed in it greatly.

He had a specimen next day of the spirit which Fawcett still cherished
towards him, and which, but for the kindness of Mr. Harris, might
have injured him severely on many occasions. Applying as usual at the
treasury for his weekly salary of ten pounds, he was informed by the
treasurer, with great politeness and apparent regret, that he had
received orders from Mr. Fawcett to stop it for that week. He instantly
posted off in search of that gentleman, and upon finding him, requested
to know why his salary was not to be paid.

"Because, sir," replied Mr. Fawcett,--"because you have thought fit to
play at the Surrey Theatre without mentioning the matter to _us_, or
asking _our_ permission."

Grimaldi whistled a little to express his total unconcern, and, turning
away, muttered, "For _us_ and for _our_ tragedy, thus stooping to your
clemency, we beg your hearing patiently." In crossing the stage to the
door, he met Mr. Harris, who had that instant entered the theatre,
having arrived in town not ten minutes before. He shook him kindly by
the hand, and inquired how he was.

"Why, sir," said Grimaldi, "I am as well as can be expected,
considering that my salary has been stopped."

"Why, what have you been about, Joe?"

"Played for Mrs. Hayward's benefit at the Surrey, sir."

"Oh! without leave, I suppose?"

"Why, sir," answered Grimaldi, "there was no one in the theatre who
was, in my opinion, entitled actually to give or refuse leave; you were
out of town: with Mr. Fawcett I have nothing to do--he has neither
connexion with nor influence over my line of business, nor do I wish
him to have any; Mr. Farley is the only gentleman under yourself whom
I consider myself obliged to acknowledge as a superior here--and to him
I did name it, and he told me to go, for I should not be wanted."

"Joe," said Mr. Harris, after a moment's pause, "go to Brandon, and
tell him to give you your money. And, mind, I've entered into an
arrangement for you to go and see Dimond again in October, upon the
same terms as before: so mind you go, and I'll take care you are
neither fined nor wanted."

For this double liberality he expressed his best thanks, and returning
to the treasury, with the manager's message, received his salary, and

On the 15th of the next month, his first benefit for that season took
place at Sadler's Wells. He sustained the part of Don Juan; and his
son, J. S. Grimaldi, played Scaramouch, being his second appearance.
He acted the part capitally, and had a great reception, so that his
father now in good earnest began to hope he would not only support the
name of Grimaldi, but confer upon it increased popularity. The receipts
of this night were 231_l._ 14_s._ Three months afterwards his second
benefit occurred: Monday, the 9th of October, was the day fixed for
it, but on the preceding Saturday he was suddenly seized with severe
illness, originating in a most distressing impediment in his breathing.
Medical assistance was immediately called in, and he was bled until
nigh fainting. This slightly relieved him; but shortly afterwards he
had a relapse, and four weeks passed before he recovered sufficiently
to leave the house. There is no doubt but that some radical change
had occurred in his constitution, for previously to this attack he
had never been visited with a single day's illness, while after its
occurrence he never had a single day of perfect health.

On the Monday, finding it would be impossible for him to play, he
procured a substitute, and immediately had bills printed and posted
outside the theatre. His absence made a difference of about fifty
pounds in the receipts; but as his son played Scaramouch, and played it
well, he sustained no greater pecuniary loss, and had the satisfaction
of hearing from all quarters that his son was rapidly improving.

After the lapse of a month Grimaldi became tolerably well, and as it
was now time for him to keep his engagement with Dimond, he went to
Bath in November, and remained there until the middle of December,
occasionally acting at Bristol. The profits of this trip were two
hundred and ninety-four pounds.

It was either during this provincial trip, or about this time, that he
first became acquainted with Mr. Davidge, the late lessee of the Surrey
Theatre. He was then the Harlequin at Bath and Bristol, and although he
afterwards became a round and magisterial figure, was then a very light
and active pantomimist.

In the pantomimes Davidge was the Harlequin, and Grimaldi of course
the Clown. They were accustomed to call the Pantaloon, who was a
very indifferent actor, by the name of "Billy Coombes,"--why, they
best knew, but it seems not to have been his real name. This worthy
had given both Davidge and Grimaldi mighty offence upon several
occasions, possibly by making his appearance on the stage in a state
of intoxication. Grimaldi forgot the precise cause of affront, but,
whatever it was, they deemed it a very great one; and Davidge, upon
several occasions, took opportunities of hinting, in speeches fraught
with determination and replete with a peculiar variety of expletives,
that he was resolved some time or other to be revenged upon that Billy

One evening, while the pantomime was in progress, and the two friends
were exciting much mirth and applause, Davidge pointed to a chest
which was used in the piece, and whispering that there was a lock upon
it with a key, remarked that Billy had to get into it directly, and
asked whether it would not be a good joke to turn the key upon him.
Grimaldi readily concurred, and no sooner was the unconscious Billy
Coombes beneath the lid of the chest, than he was locked in, amidst the
plaudits of the audience, who thought it a capital trick. There were
but two more scenes in the pantomime, which Davidge had to commence.
Just as he was going on the stage, Grimaldi inquired whether he had let
out the Pantaloon.

"No," he replied hastily, "I have not, but I will directly I come off."
So saying, he danced upon the stage, followed by Grimaldi, and the
usual buffeting ensued with the accustomed effect. The pantomime was
over a few minutes afterwards, and Grimaldi, who felt very tired when
he had gone through his part, in consequence of his recent illness,
went straight home, and was in bed a very short time after the curtain

There was a call the next morning for the rehearsal of a few
new pantomime scenes which Grimaldi had prepared to vary the
entertainments. However, as the Pantaloon was not forthcoming, they
could not be gone through with any useful effect. When Davidge arrived,
Grimaldi mentioned the circumstance.

"I suppose," he said, "our victim has taken our conduct in high
dudgeon, and doesn't mean to come this morning. We shall be in a pretty
mess at night if he does not!"

"What do you mean?" said Davidge, with a look of surprise.

"This Billy Coombes, he is not come to the theatre to-day, and is not
to be found at his lodgings, for we have sent a man there."

"By G----," said Davidge, "I never let him out of the box!"

On reflection, they had certainly finished the pantomime without him,
although it did not strike them at the time, because, as he was no
great actor, the business of the last two scenes had been arranged
entirely between Davidge and Grimaldi. They lost no time in inquiring
after the chest, and it was at length discovered in a cellar below
the stage. On raising the lid, the Pantaloon was discovered, and a
truly pitiable object he looked, although they were both not a little
relieved to find he was alive, for, not knowing that the chest was
perforated in various places, they had entertained some serious fears
that when he did turn up, he might be found suffocated. Every necessary
assistance was afforded him, and he never suffered in the slightest
degree from his temporary confinement. He said that he had shouted as
loud as he could, and had knocked and kicked against the sides of his
prison, but that nobody had taken the least notice of him, which he
attributed to the incessant noise and bustle behind the scenes. With
the view of keeping the stage as clear as possible, everything used in
a pantomime is put away at once; the chest was lowered by a trap into
the cellar, notwithstanding the shouts from the Pantaloon, who, knowing
that he would be released next day, went to sleep very quietly.

This was the version of the story given by the ingenious Mr. Coombes,
and in this version Grimaldi was an implicit believer. We are rather
disposed to think that Mr. Coombes might have thrown an additional
light upon the matter by explaining that he had got into the chest
that morning to turn the tables upon his assailants, the more so, as
he received various little presents in the way of compensation for his
imprisonment, with which he expressed himself perfectly satisfied.

This "Billy Coombes," or whatever the man's name may have been, once
said a very ludicrous thing upon the stage, which convulsed the
audience with laughter. The play was Romeo and Juliet, and he was cast
to perform Sampson. The wardrobe of the theatre being very scanty, he
was habited in a most absurd and ridiculous dress, every article of
which had evidently formed a portion of a different suit, and which
was, moreover, full three sizes too large for him, especially the coat,
the cuffs of which, instead of ornamenting his wrists, dangled over his
fingers' ends. In this disguise, "Billy," who waxed extremely wroth
at the figure he cut, presented himself to the audience, and was, of
course, received with a loud laugh.

Now, in the first scene of the play, Sampson, according to the
stage-direction, has to bite his thumb at Abram, a servitor of the
rival house, upon which the following dialogue ensues:--

     "_Abram._ Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

     "_Samp._ (_aside_) Is the law on our side if I say ay?

     "_Gregory._ No.

     "_Samp._ No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite
     my thumb sir."

Billy Coombes very coolly omitted biting his thumb at all but the actor
who played Abram, desirous to carry on the business of the scene,
thought it best to take it for granted that the stage-direction had
been complied with, and turning indignantly round, said,

"Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?"

"No, sir," replied Billy Coombes, in a clear and loud voice; "I would,
sir, with pleasure, only my master puts me into such a queer coat,
sir," holding up one of the long sleeves, "that I can't get at my fist
for the life of me."

The audience roared, the actors laughed, and for some minutes the
stage-business was at a complete stand-still: Billy meanwhile making
many apparently sincere and laboured attempts to uncover his hand, in
which at last he thought proper to succeed, and giving the right cue,
the play went on.

When Grimaldi returned to town, the rehearsals of "Harlequin and the
Sylph of the Oak, or the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green," commenced at
Covent Garden. It was produced with great success at the usual time,
and was followed, in April, 1816, by Pocock's melodrama of "Robinson
Crusoe, or the Bold Buccaneer," in which Grimaldi played Friday, and
Farley acted Crusoe. This was the most successful adaptation of De
Foe's great story; it was played for a great many nights, and is still
occasionally performed.[66]


[61] The pantomime of "Harlequin and the Red Dwarf," notwithstanding
the scenery was superb, and the changes and machinery entitled to great
praise, was in no way so successful as several of the former similar
productions brought out at Covent Garden; and yet the burlesques
introduced by Joe were sufficiently droll to prompt several highly
coloured prints of certain characters in the print-shops of that day.
The scenes in which the Epping Hunt was represented, supplied one
of the finest landscapes ever displayed in any theatre. Horses were
introduced--a jolly fat Parson, Pantaloon, and the Clown, took part in
the joys of the chase; Pantaloon on a little Shetland pony was followed
by Grimaldi on a great cart-horse, aping the mammoth wonder for size;
Joe with a long wagoner's whip in his hand, and a jockey-cap, the
peak of prodigious extent, seemed as anxious to be in at the death as
if nothing in the world was comparable to it; his eagerness created
a doubt whether Barnes and his miniature horse would or would not be
galloped over by Joe and his Bucephalus--or be trundled over, horse and
man, for the popular diversion.

On February 8th, 1813, the comic burletta of "Poor Vulcan" was revived
at Covent Garden--the bills stated, "not acted for many years." In this
piece there was a pastoral ballet at Mount Ida, in which the characters
were thus sustained: Silenus, Mr. Bologna; Bacchanals, Mr. Bologna,
jun., and M. Montignani; Pan, Mr. Grimaldi; and Bacchante, Mrs. Parker.
Joe's attachment to his old part of Pan in "Terpsichore's Return," was
here again renewed; it was performed a sixth time on the 16th of the
same month.

[62] The gorgeous spectacle of "Aladdin" was, after Douglas by
Master Betty, performed for the first time on April 19th. "Aladdin"
was represented by Mrs. C. Kemble; Abanazar, the Magician, by Mr.
Farley; and Kasrac, his Chinese Slave, by Mr. Grimaldi: it was highly
attractive, and was performed for the thirty-fourth time on June 21.
Grimaldi's benefit this year was on July 1st, when were performed
"Five miles off;" "Love, Law, and Physic," and for the forty-second
time, "Harlequin and the Red Dwarf." At the close of this season,
by permission of the proprietors of Drury Lane Theatre, Sheridan's
"Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday" was produced at Covent Garden; the
Shipwrecked Mariner, by Mr. Grimaldi; his Man Friday, by Mr. Bologna,
jun. It was repeated a few times, and the season terminated on July

Joe's popularity at this period is thus happily celebrated by the late
James Smith, in the following--


    Facetious mime! thou enemy of gloom;
      Grandson of Momus, blithe and debonair,
    Who aping Pan, with an inverted broom
      Canst brush the cobwebs from the brows of care.

    Our gallery gods immortalize thy songs,
      Thy Newgate thefts impart ecstatic pleasure;
    Thou bidd'st a Jew's harp charm a Christian throng,
      A Gothic salt-box teem with Attic treasure.

    When Harlequin, his charmer to regain,
      Courts her embrace in many a queer disguise,
    The light of heels looks for his sword in vain--
      Thy furtive fingers snatch the magic prize.

    The fabled egg from thee obtains its gold:
      Thou sett'st the mind from critic bondage loose,
    Where male and female cacklers, young and old,
      Birds of a feather, hail the sacred goose.

    Even pious souls, from Bunyan's durance free,
      At Sadler's Wells applaud thy agile wit,
    Forget old care, while they remember thee--
      Laugh the heart's laugh, and haunt the jovial pit.

    Long mayst thou guard the prize thy humour won;
      Long hold thy court in Pantomimic State;
    And to the equipoise of English fun,
      Exalt the lowly and bring down the great.

[63] "Harlequin and the Swans," produced at Covent Garden on December
27, 1813, presented two Harlequins, Bologna, jun., and Ellar, who then
made his first appearance at that theatre. Grimaldi played in the
prelude, "Doctor Tumble Tuzzy," Chief Physician to the Court, when,
if laughter be physic to the megrims, he and his assistant medical
gentleman flung it about in no small potions.

The Grand Asiatic Spectacle of "Sadak and Kalasrade" was produced
at the same Theatre on Easter Monday, April 11, 1814; Sadak, by Mr.
Abbott; Hassan, his Slave, by Mr. Grimaldi; Agra, Principal Dancer, by
Mr. Ellar; Kalasrade, by Mrs. H. Johnston. On the same night, Sadler's
Wells commenced the season of 1814, with Joe's Comic Dance of "Fun
and Physic," and the Pantomime of "Rival Genii; or Harlequin Wild
Man." Ellar made his first appearance there as Harlequin in the "Rival
Genii;" Clown, Mr. Grimaldi, with a new song, called "Frost Fair; or,
the Disasters of Mr. Higgins and Mrs. Wiggins." As these pieces were
frequently performed on the same evening at the two theatres, it was a
regular run for both from the Wells to Covent Garden.

[64] Sadler's Wells opened April 11th, not the 26th. The Aqua-Drama of
"Kaloc; or, The Pirate Slave," Kaloc, by Mr. Grimaldi, performed in the
previous season, for the first time, August 9th, 1813, was not played
during that of 1814.

[65] Bologna, jun., and Grimaldi, had jointly their benefit at Covent
Garden on June 29th, 1814: when were performed O'Keeffe's "Our Way
in France;" Lord Winlove, by Mr. Incledon; the Melo-Dramatic Piece,
"For England Ho!" and for the fourth time these five years, "Harlequin
and Mother Goose;" with the favourite scene of the Dog-Cart; and the
"Oyster Duet," with the "Dissection of Harlequin."

[66] Performed for the first time, on Wednesday, December 26, 1806.
Harlequin, Mr. Bologna; Clown, Mr. Grimaldi; Pantaloon, Mr. Norman;
Flyflap, attendant on Harlequin, by Master Grimaldi; Columbine, Miss T.
Dennett, her first appearance in that character.


1816 to 1817.

     He quits Sadler's Wells in consequence of a disagreement with the
        Proprietors--Lord Byron--Retirement of John Kemble--Immense
        success of Grimaldi in the Provinces, and his great Gains--A
        scene in a Barber's Shop.

At Sadler's Wells the principal novelty of the season of 1816 was
a very successful melodrama called "Philip and his Dog." During a
period of thirty-eight years, that is to say from 1782[67] to 1820
inclusive, Grimaldi was never absent from Sadler's Wells, except for
one season. The cause of his non-engagement in 1817 was this:--His
former articles expiring a few days before the close of the previous
season, he received a note from Mr. Charles Dibdin, requesting to know
upon what terms he would be disposed to renew them. He replied, that
they had only to make the pounds[68] guineas, and he would be content.
There was no objection to this proposition, but he was informed that
the proprietors had arrived at the resolution of no longer allowing
him two benefits in each year, and of permitting him in future to take
only one. He considered this a very arbitrary and unjust proceeding.
As he had never under any circumstances cleared less than 150_l._ from
a benefit, this reduction necessarily involved the diminution of his
yearly income by a large sum; and as he paid 60_l._ for the house on
every such occasion, which was probably more than it would otherwise
have had in it, he did not think that the proprietors could urge any
just reason for proposing the alteration. After considering these
points, he wrote to Mr. Charles Dibdin, at that time a proprietor
himself, that he could on no consideration give up either of his
accustomed benefits. To this note he received no reply, but he
confidently expected that they would not attempt a season without him,
he being at that time unquestionably the lion of the theatre, and
certainly drawing money to the house. He was, however, deceived, for
he heard no more from Mr. Charles Dibdin, and eventually learned that
Paulo was engaged in his place.

In the November of this year he made a little excursion of four days
to Brighton, the theatre of which town belonged to Mr. John Brunton,
who was likewise an actor, and a very good one too, at Covent Garden.
This gentleman was the father of one of our best modern actresses Mrs.
Yates, whose talents are so well and so deservedly appreciated. He was
always a kind friend to Grimaldi, and had no cause to accuse him of

At Brighton they played "Valentine and Orson," "Robinson Crusoe," &c.,
in which Brunton, who was well acquainted with pantomime and melodrama,
acted Farley's parts, while Grimaldi, of course, sustained his original
characters. They were very successful indeed, Grimaldi receiving
100_l._ for his remuneration, with which, as will be readily supposed,
he was perfectly well satisfied.

At this time he repeatedly met with Lord Byron, not only at Covent
Garden, but at various private parties to which he was invited; and
eventually they became very good friends. Lord Byron was, as all the
world knows, an eccentric man, and he loses nothing of the character in
Grimaldi's hands.

"Sometimes," he says, "his lordship appeared lost in deep melancholy,
and when that was the case, really looked the picture of despair, for
his face was highly capable of expressing profound grief; at other
times he was very lively, chatting with great spirit and vivacity; and
then occasionally he would be a complete fop, exhibiting his white
hands and teeth with an almost ludicrous degree of affectation. But
whether 'grave or gay, lively or severe,' his bitter, biting sarcasm
never was omitted or forgotten."

It never fell to Grimaldi's lot to hear any person say such severe
things as Byron accustomed himself to utter, and they tended not a
little to increase the awe with which, upon their first interview,
he had been predisposed to regard him. As to Grimaldi himself,
Byron invariably acted towards him with much condescension and good
humour, frequently conversing with him for hours together; and when
the business of the evening called him away, he would wait at the
"wings" for him, and as soon as he came off the stage, recommence the
conversation where it had been broken off. Grimaldi rarely contradicted
him, fearing to draw down upon himself the sarcasms which he constantly
heard fulminated against others; and when they spoke on subjects
with Byron's opinions upon which he was unacquainted, he cautiously
endeavoured to ascertain them before he ventured to give his own,
fearing, as he felt so very warmly upon most questions, that he might
chance to dissent from him upon one in which he took great interest.

Before Lord Byron left England upon the expedition whence he was
destined to return no more, he presented Grimaldi, as a token, he
said, of his regard, with a valuable silver snuff-box,[69] around which
was the inscription, "The gift of Lord Byron to Joseph Grimaldi." It
was of course preserved with the most scrupulous care, and valued more
highly than any article in his possession. It is but an act of justice
to both parties to say, that Lord Byron always treated him with the
greatest liberality. In 1808, when he saw him act for the first time,
he sent a message to his residence, requesting that he would always
forward to him one box ticket whenever he took a benefit. This he
regularly did, and in return invariably received on the following day a
five-pound note.

"Harlequin Gulliver, or the Flying Island," which was the pantomime
of the year at Covent Garden, was so successful as to be played
sixty-three nights before Easter. On the 30th of March, a piece, under
the title of "The Marquis de Carabbas, or Puss in Boots," was produced,
and utterly failed. It was a very poor affair, was only played one
night, and appears to have fully deserved its fate.

On the same night Sadler's Wells commenced its season, upon which
occasion the unexpected absence of Grimaldi occasioned quite a
commotion among the Audience. He had said nothing about it himself,
nor was the circumstance known to the public until the bills were put
forth, when the announcement of Paulo's engagement and Grimaldi's
secession occasioned much surprise and some manifestation of feeling.
Grimaldi had been spending a few days at Egham; and upon his return to
town, towards the latter end of March, was not a little amazed to see
the walls in the neighbourhood of his house in Spa-fields completely
covered with placards emanating from the rival parties, some bearing
the words "Joey for ever!" others displaying "No Paulo!" and others,
again, "No Grimaldi!" It was supposed by some that Grimaldi himself had
a hand in the distribution of these bills; but he solemnly denied it,
declaring that he never saw or heard anything of them until they were
paraded upon the walls on his return to town.

The theatre opened with "Philip and his Dog," and a new harlequinade,
called "April Fools, or Months and Mummery." Being informed that it
was Dibdin's intention, if any disturbance occurred in consequence of
his absence, to address the house, and state that it had resulted from
Grimaldi's express wish, he went to the boxes on the opening night,
determined, if any such statement were made, to address the audience
from his place, and explain the circumstances under which he had left
the theatre. He was spared this very disagreeable task, however, no
other expression of public feeling taking place except that which is
of all others most sensibly and acutely felt by a manager the people
stayed away. Instead of every seat being taken, and standing-places
eagerly secured, as had formerly been the case, the theatre was not a
quarter filled. There were only forty persons, and these principally
friends of the proprietors, in the boxes; not more than a hundred in
the pit, and the gallery was not half full. Grimaldi stayed only the
first act of the first piece, and then, seeing no probability of being
called for, walked away to Covent Garden, to dress for "Puss in Boots,"
the untimely fate of which has been already recorded.

The next morning, the newspapers, one and all, made known Grimaldi's
absence from Sadler's Wells, and regretted it as a circumstance which
could not fail to prove very injurious to the interests of the theatre.
They did this without decrying the merits of Paulo, who was really a
very good Clown, but who laboured under the double disadvantage of not
being known at Sadler's Wells, and of following in the wake of one who
had been a great favourite there for so many years.

Grimaldi's non-engagement at Sadler's Wells was no sooner made known,
than the provincial managers vied with each other in their endeavours
to secure him. Mr. W. Murray, the manager of the Edinburgh and Glasgow
Theatres, offered him an engagement at each for six nights when
Covent Garden closed, which he immediately accepted. The terms were
these:--Grimaldi was to have the best night's receipts out of each
six, Murray the second best, and the other four to be equally divided
between them, deducting forty pounds for expenses. He had no sooner
closed with this proprietor than he was waited upon by Mr. Knight, of
the Manchester and Liverpool Theatres, who offered him an engagement
for three weeks, into which he also entered. There then followed such a
long list of offers, that if he had had twelve months at his disposal
instead of six weeks, they would have occupied the whole time. Many of
these offers were of the most handsome and liberal nature; and it was
with great regret that he was compelled to decline them.

As there was nothing for Grimaldi to do at Covent Garden, in
consequence of the early decease of "Puss in Boots," he accepted
an overture from Mr. Brunton, who was the lessee of the Birmingham
Theatre, for himself and his son, to act there for seven nights. It was
the son's first provincial excursion, and the profits were somewhere
about two hundred pounds. He took Worcester in his way on his return,
and agreed, at the pressing request of Mr. Crisp, the manager, to
stop and play there one night. He offered forty pounds down, or a
fair division of the receipts. Grimaldi chose the former terms, acted
Scaramouch to a very crowded house, sang several songs, and finished
with a little pantomime in which he and his son were Clowns. He supped
with the manager, who, at the conclusion of the meal, presented him
with a fifty-pound note, saying, if he would accept that sum in lieu
of the one agreed upon, it was heartily at his service, and he (the
manager) would still be a great gainer by the transaction. This liberal
treatment gave him a very favourable impression of the Worcester
manager, whom he assured, that, should he ever be in that part of the
country again, he would not fail to communicate with him. The next
day, father and son both returned to town, when the former had the
satisfaction of hearing that he had not been wanted at Covent Garden.
He found several letters from provincial managers offering great terms;
but as he was obliged to be in London at the opening of Covent Garden,
and the theatres to which they related did not lie anywhere in his
route from Edinburgh to Liverpool, he had no option but to decline
these proposals.

On the 23rd of June, in this year, John Kemble took his final leave of
the stage, the entertainments being "Coriolanus," and "The Portrait of
Cervantes." At the conclusion of the play, in which he had sustained
the chief part with all his wonted dignity and grace, Kemble spoke a
brief address, in which he took his farewell of the public, whom he had
so long delighted. A white satin scarf with a wreath was thrown from
the boxes, which falling short, lighted in the orchestra; upon which M.
Talma, the French tragedian, who was sitting there, instantly rose from
his seat and placed it on the stage, amidst thunders of applause.

Grimaldi appeared but seldom during the remainder of the season at
Covent Garden, which closed on the 2nd of July. On the following day
he left London for Scotland. When he reached Edinburgh, he was not a
little surprised to hear from Mr. Murray, that in consequence of Emery
being engaged to play at Glasgow, he should be obliged to limit his
(Grimaldi's) nights there to three instead of six, as agreed upon. This
very much surprised him; but as there was no help for it, he acquiesced
with a good grace, and left Edinburgh immediately for Glasgow, where
he was to act on the following night. It chanced that it was Sunday,
a day on which the common stage coaches do not run in Scotland, and
he therefore took a post-chaise, which was eleven hours and a half
performing the distance, or about double the time in which he could
have walked it with ease.

"Whittington," "Don Juan," "Valentine and Orson," and "The Rivals,"
were the pieces acted at Glasgow. In the first three his son performed
with him; in the latter he played Acres, and was very well received.
He played this part throughout his provincial trips, and always to the
perfect satisfaction and amusement of the audience. He never played
Richard the Third in the provinces, as has been represented, but
limited his performance of characters out of pantomime or melodrama, to
Acres, Moll Flaggon, and one other part.

When Grimaldi had finished at Glasgow, he joined the company at
Edinburgh, where he played Acres twice. The song of Tippitywitchet took
amazingly with the gude folks of Auld Reekie, and both he and his son
were received with great kindness and favour.

On the day after the completion of the engagement, Mr. Murray called
at Grimaldi's lodgings, and wrote him a cheque for 417_l._ as his
share, concluding by inviting him to pay him a similar visit during
the following summer. The next morning he went to the bank to get his
cheque cashed, when he was told that he could only receive Edinburgh
notes, which were not payable out of Scotland, unless he consented to
pay five per cent, for the accommodation. He was very loth to accept
the one or pay the other; which the banker perceiving, told him that he
happened to have a Bank-stock English note, payable forty days after
sight, for 400_l._, which he could let him have. Not being short of
cash, he accepted this, and received the 17_l._ balance in Scotch notes.

On the 22nd, Grimaldi left Edinburgh for Berwick, where he had
promised to play for two nights, and where he came out the following
evening. He was greatly amazed when he saw the theatre at this town:
it was situated up a stable yard, in a loft, to reach which it was
necessary to climb two flights of stairs, the whole entrance being
mean and dirty, and, to ladies especially, particularly disagreeable.
But his surprise was far from being confined to the exterior of the
theatre: on the contrary, when he surveyed its interior, and found it
neat and complete, perfect in its appointments, and even stylish in
its decorations, his amazement was increased. It was still further
augmented by the appearance and manner of the audience to which he
played in the evening, for he had never by any chance acted (taking
the size of the building into consideration) to a more fashionable and
brilliant box-company.

The second night was as good as the first, and he received for his
exertions 92_l._ 7_s._ On this evening he supped with the manager, and
during their meal the servant brought in a letter directed to Grimaldi,
which had just been left at the door by a footman in livery, who, after
delivering it, had immediately walked away. He broke the seal, and read
as follows:

     "Sir,--Accept the enclosed as a reward of your merit, and the
     entertainment we have received from you this evening.

     "A FRIEND.

     "Thursday, July 24th, 1817."

The "inclosed" alluded to by the writer was a bank note for 50_l._!

Next day Grimaldi bade adieu to Berwick, and went direct to Liverpool,
where he made his first appearance on the 30th; and here, according
to previous arrangement, he remained three weeks. His salary was to
be 12_l._ per week, with half a clear benefit, or the whole house for
40_l._, which he chose.

As the night fixed upon for his benefit (which was the last of his
engagement) drew nigh, he began anxiously to deliberate whether he
should speculate in the "whole house," or not. He had no friends or
acquaintances in Liverpool to assist him, but, on the other hand, he
had made a tremendous hit; so, not being able to decide himself, he
called in the aid of his friends, Emery, Blanchard, and Jack Johnstone,
who chanced to be there at the time, and requested their advice how he
should proceed. With one accord they advised him to venture upon taking
the house, which he, adopting their advice, forthwith did, paying down
his 40_l._, however, with many doubts as to the result. He lost no
time in making out his bill, and getting it printed. The play was "The
Rivals," in which he acted Acres, and the afterpiece the pantomime of
"Harlequin's Olio," in which his son was to appear as Flipflap, a kind
of attendant upon harlequin, and he as the clown.

Several days elapsed, but nothing betokening a good benefit presented
itself, and Grimaldi began to suspect it would turn out a complete
failure. On the morning of the very day he had sold only fourteen
tickets, and walked to the theatre with rather downcast spirits. At the
box door he met Mr. Banks, one of the managers, who addressed him with,

"Well, Joe, a precious benefit you will have!"

"So I expect," he answered, with a sigh.

"Have you looked at the box-book?" inquired the manager, with a slight
degree of surprise in his manner.

"No," said Grimaldi; "I really am afraid to do so."

"Afraid!" echoed the manager; "upon my word, Mr. Grimaldi, I don't know
what you would have, or what you are afraid of. Every seat in the boxes
is taken; and if there had been more, they would have been let."

Hastening to the box-office, Grimaldi found that this good news was
perfectly correct. His benefit, which took place on the 20th August,
produced the greatest receipts ever known in that theatre: the sum
taken was 328_l._ 14_s._, being 1_l._ more than was received at
Miss O'Neil's benefit (who was a wonderful favourite in the town),
and beating John Emery's by 5_l._ He cleared upwards of 280_l._, by
following the advice of his friends; upon the strength of which they
all dined together next day, and made very merry.

Many offers from other theatres came pouring in, but Grimaldi only
accepted two: one to act at Preston, and the other to play four nights
at Hereford for Mr. Crisp, for whom he naturally entertained very
friendly feelings, remembering the courteous and handsome manner in
which he had treated him at Worcester.

Two days after his great benefit, Grimaldi travelled over to Preston,
to fulfil his engagement with Mr. Howard, the manager, but was very
much dispirited by the number of Quakers whom he saw walking about the
streets, and whose presence in such numbers caused him to entertain
great doubts of the success of this trip. The manager, however, was
more sanguine, and, as it afterwards appeared, with good reason. He
played Acres and Scaramouch to full houses, the receipts on the first
night being 84_l._, and on the second 87_l._ 16_s._ His share of the
joint receipts was 86_l._, with which sum, as it far exceeded his
expectations, he was well contented.

On the second day after Grimaldi's arrival in Preston, a little
circumstance occurred, which amused him so much, that he intended
to have introduced it in one of his pantomime scenes, although he
never did so. He was walking along the street by the market-place,
when, observing a barber's pole projecting over the pavement, and
recollecting that he wanted shaving, he opened the shop-door, from
above which hung the pole, and looking into the shop, saw a pretty
little girl, about sixteen years of age, who was sitting at needlework.
She rose to receive him, and he inquired if the master was within.

"No, sir," said the girl; "but I expect him directly."

"Very good," replied Grimaldi: "I want to look about me a little; I'll
call again."

After strolling through the market-place a little while, he called
again, but the barber had not come home. Grimaldi was walking down the
street after this second unsuccessful call, when he encountered Mr.
Howard, the manager, with whom he fell into conversation, and they
walked up and down the street talking together. As he was going to the
theatre, and wished Grimaldi to accompany him, they turned in that
direction, and passing the barbers shop, again looked in. The girl was
still sitting at work; but she laid it aside when the visitors entered,
and said she really was very sorry, but her father had not come in yet.

"That's very provoking," said Grimaldi, "considering that I have called
here three times already."

The girl agreed that it was, and, stepping to the door, looked
anxiously up the street and down the street, but there was no barber in

"Do you want to see him on any particular business?" inquired Howard.

"Bless my heart! no, not I," said Grimaldi: "I only want to be shaved."

"Shaved, sir!" cried the girl. "Oh, dear me! what a pity it is you did
not say so before! for I do most of the shaving for father when he's at
home, and all when he's out."

"To be sure she does," said Howard; "I have been shaved by her fifty

"You have!" said Grimaldi. "Oh, I'm sure I have no objection. I am
quite ready, my dear."

Grimaldi sat himself down in a chair, and the girl commenced the task
in a very business-like manner, Grimaldi feeling an irresistible
tendency to laugh at the oddity of the operation, but smothering it
by dint of great efforts while the girl was shaving his chin. At
length, when she got to his upper lip, and took his nose between her
fingers with a piece of brown paper, he could stand it no longer, but
burst into a tremendous roar of laughter, and made a face at Howard,
which the girl no sooner saw than she dropped the razor and laughed
immoderately also; whereat Howard began to laugh too, which only set
Grimaldi laughing more; when just at this moment in came the barber,
who, seeing three people in convulsions of mirth, one of them with a
soapy face and a gigantic mouth making the most extravagant faces over
a white towel, threw himself into a chair without ceremony, and dashing
his hat on the ground, laughed louder than any of them, declaring
in broken words as he could find breath to utter them, that "that
gentleman as was being shaved, was out of sight the funniest gentleman
he had ever seen," and entreating him to "stop them faces, or he knew
he should die." When they were all perfectly exhausted, the barber
finished what his daughter had begun; and rewarding the girl with a
shilling, Grimaldi and the manager took their leaves.

Having settled at the theatre, received his money, and made several
purchases in the town, (for he always spent a per-centage in every
place where he had been successful,) Grimaldi returned to Liverpool on
the 24th of August.

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_The Barber's Shop._]


[67] Joe made his _début_ on the stage, at Sadler's Wells, on Easter
Monday, 1781.

[68] Grimaldi's salary at this time was twelve pounds, but the
determination of not allowing him the second benefit was the cause of
his absence from the Wells in 1817.

[69] Mrs. Bryan, Joe's legatee, possesses this snuff-box.



     More provincial success--Bologna and his economy--Comparative
        dearness of Welsh Rare-bits and Partridges--Remarkably odd
        modes of saving money.

Having no engagement at Liverpool, indeed, having no time to accept
one,--Grimaldi remained there only two days, at the expiration of
which time he went to Hereford, and having waited on Mr. Crisp, the
manager, went to look at the theatre, which, to his great astonishment
and concern, he found to be nothing more than a common square room,
with a stage four yards wide and about as many high, the head of the
statue in Don Juan being obscured by the flies, and thus rendered
wholly invisible to the audience. What made this circumstance the more
annoying, was, that on the statue being seen to nod its head depended
the effect of one of the very best scenes of Scaramouch.

As Grimaldi did not hesitate to express his great mortification and
annoyance, and his decided indisposition to act in such a place
for four nights, which was the term originally proposed, a fresh
arrangement was entered into, by which, he engaged to play two nights
at Hereford, and two at Worcester, where he knew there was a better
theatre. At the former town the receipts were on the first night
42_l._, and on the second 45_l._, his share of the total being 43_l._
10_s._ At Worcester, the receipts of the first night were 87_l._, and
of the second 93_l._ 16_s._: here he also received a moiety of the two
nights' receipts.

Having now concluded his provincial engagements, Grimaldi repaired to
Cheltenham for rest and relaxation, and remained there until the second
week in September, when he returned to London. While at Cheltenham,
he stumbled upon his old friend, Richer, the rope-dancer, already
mentioned as having been engaged at Sadler's Wells, at an early period
of Grimaldi's career. He had retired from the profession, and was
married to the widow of a clergyman who had died extremely rich. They
were living in great style, and to all appearance very happy.

The following account of Grimaldi's gains during this short excursion
will afford some idea of the immense sums he was in the habit of
receiving about this time. The amount was so much more than he had
supposed, that on going over the calculation, he could scarcely believe
he was correct. It was as follows:--

                                       £  _s._ _d._
     Brighton, four nights            100   0    0
     Birmingham, six                  210   0    0
     Worcester, one                    50   0    0
     Glasgow and Edinburgh, nine      417   0    0
     Berwick, two                     102   7    0
     Liverpool, sixteen               324  14    0
     Preston, two                      86   0    0
     Hereford, two                     43  10    0
     Worcester, (2nd visit) two        90   8    0
     Total                          £1423  19    0

The accounts which he received at Sadler's Wells on his return were
unusually bad. They were fully corroborated by Mr. Hughes, who informed
him it had been the very worst season the theatre had ever known.

Having nothing to do at Covent Garden, and entertaining a very pleasant
and lively recollection of the profits of his last trip, Grimaldi
determined on making another excursion, and accepted an offer from
Elliston, to play four nights at Birmingham, by which he cleared
150_l._ From Birmingham he went to Leicester, where Elliston also had a
theatre, and where he played for two nights, being accompanied by Mr.
Brunton, who was Elliston's stage-manager. They were very successful,
Grimaldi's share of the receipts being 70_l._

The morning after his last performance here, Grimaldi took a
post-chaise and started for Chester, where he had undertaken to act
for one week. As the chaise drove up to the White Lion, the London
coach drove up too, and, seated on the outside, he saw, to his great
surprise, his old friend Old Bologna, who, it appeared, had been
engaged expressly to perform with him in "Mother Goose." The unexpected
meeting afforded great pleasure to both, and having ordered a private
sitting room and a good dinner, they sat down together and fell into
conversation; in the course of which Bologna, by various hints and
other slight remarks, gave his friend to understand that his old
characteristic of never being able, without a strong effort, to make up
his mind to spend a penny was by no means impaired by time. The room
was handsomely fitted up; and the dinner, which was speedily placed
before them, consisted of a great variety of expensive delicacies,
the sight of which awakened in Bologna's mind a great many misgivings
concerning the bill, which were not at all lessened by the landlady's
informing them, with a low curtsey, as she placed the first dish on the
table, that she knew who they were, and that she would answer for their
being provided with every luxury and comfort the house would afford.
They were no sooner left alone, than Bologna, with a very dissatisfied
air, informed his friend that he saw it would never do to stay in that

"Why not?" inquired Grimaldi.

"Because of the expense," he answered. "Bless me! look at the
accommodations: what do you suppose they'll charge for all this? It
wont suit me, Joe; I shall be off."

"You can do as you please," rejoined his friend; "but if you'll take my
advice, you'll remain where you are: for I have found from experience,
that if there is a choice between a first-rate and a second-rate house,
one should always go to the former. There you have the best articles at
a fair price; while at the other you have bad things, worse served up,
and enormously dear."

Bologna was ultimately prevailed upon not to leave the house,
contenting himself with various economical resolutions, which he
commenced putting in practice when the waiter appeared to know if they
would order supper.

"Supper!" exclaimed Bologna; "certainly not; not on any account.
Suppers are extremely unhealthy: I never take them by any chance."

"You may get some supper for _me_" said Grimaldi, "and have it ready at
half-past eleven."

"What will you like to order, sir?"

"I'll leave it to the landlady. Anything nice will do."

"Good Heaven!" said Bologna, as the waiter went out of the room; "what
a bill you'll have to pay here!"

They strolled about the town: arranged with the manager to commence
next night with "Mother Goose," and having beguiled the time till
supper, repaired to the inn, where a fine brace of partridges, done to
a turn, were placed before Grimaldi, which his companion eyed with very
hungry looks, congratulating himself aloud, however, upon having saved
himself that expense, at all events.

There was a silence for some minutes, broken only by the clatter of the
knives and forks; and then Bologna, who had been walking up and down
the room in a restless manner, stopped short, and inquired if the birds
were nice?

"Very," replied Grimaldi, helping himself again; "they are delicious."

Bologna walked up and down the room faster after this, and then rang
the bell with great vehemence. The waiter appeared, and Bologna, after
long consideration, hesitatingly ordered a Welsh rare-bit.

"Certainly, sir," said the man; and by the time Grimaldi had finished
his supper, the Welsh rare-bit appeared.

"Stop a minute, waiter," said Bologna. "Grimaldi, do you mean to take
supper every night?"

"Certainly. Every night."

"Well, then, waiter, remember to bring me a Welsh rare-bit every
evening when Mr. Grimaldi takes his supper. I don't want it; but it has
so rude an appearance to sit looking on while another man is eating,
that I must do it as a matter of form and comfort. You'll not forget?"

"I'll be sure to remember, sir," was the reply.

The moment he was gone, Grimaldi burst into a great roar of laughter,
which his friend took in high dudgeon, muttering various observations
regarding extravagance, which were responded to by divers remarks
relative to shabbiness. Neither of them gave way, and the supper
arrangement was regularly acted upon; Grimaldi always having some warm
dish of game or poultry, and Bologna solacing himself with a Welsh
rare-bit, and the reflection of having saved money while his companion
spent it. They stayed at Chester nine days in all, and when the bills
were brought at last, found, as Grimaldi had anticipated, that the
charges were moderate, and well merited by the manner in which they had
been accommodated.

"Well, Bologna," said Grimaldi, with a triumphant air, "are you

"Pretty well," he replied. "I must acknowledge that the bills are not
so heavy as I feared they would have been; but there is one terrible
mistake in mine. Look here! they have charged me for supper every night
just as they have charged you. That must be wrong, you know: I have had
nothing but Welsh rare-bits!"

"Certainly," said Grimaldi, looking over the bill. "You had better ring
for the waiter: I have no doubt he can explain the matter."

The bell was rung, and the waiter came.

"Oh! here's a mistake, waiter," said Bologna, handing him the bill.
"You have charged me for supper every night here, and you'll remember I
only had a Welsh rare-bit. Just get it altered, will you?"

"I beg your pardon, sir," replied the waiter, glancing from the bill to
the customer; "it's quite right, sir."

"Quite right?"

"Quite, sir: it's the rule of the house, sir the rule of every house
on the road to charge in that way. Half-a-crown for supper, sir; cold
beef, fowl, game, or bread and cheese: always half-a-crown, sir.
There were a great many other dishes that you might have had; but you
recollect giving a particular order for a Welsh rare-bit, sir?"

The saving man said not another word, but paid the nine half-crowns
for the nine Welsh rare-bits, to his own great wrath and his friend's
unspeakable amusement.

The next morning they returned to London, and on the road Grimaldi had
another instance of his companion's parsimony, which determined him
never to travel in his company again. When the coach came to the door,
he was perfectly amazed to find that the economical Harlequin was
going to travel outside, but not surprised to hear him whisper, when he
expressed his astonishment, that he should save a pound by it, or more.

"Yes," answered Grimaldi, "and catch a cold by sitting outside all
night, after your exertions at the theatre, which will cost you 20_l._
at least."

"You know nothing about it," replied Bologna, with a wink: "I shall be
safe inside as well as you."

"What! and pay outside fare?"

"Just so," replied he. "I'll tell you how it is. I've ascertained that
there's one place vacant inside, and that the coach belongs to our
landlady. Now, I mean to remind her what a deal of money we have spent
in the house; to tell her that I shall be soon coming here again; and
to put it to her, whether she wont let me ride at least a part of the
way inside."

Grimaldi was not a little offended and vexed by this communication,
feeling that, as they had been stopping at the house as companions
and friends, he was rather involved in the shabbiness of his
fellow-traveller. His angry remonstrances, however, produced not the
slightest effect. Bologna acted precisely as he had threatened, and
received permission from the good lady of the house, who was evidently
much surprised at the application, to occupy the vacant inside place;
it being stipulated and understood on both sides, that if anywhere on
the road a passenger were found requiring an inside place, Bologna
should either give up his, or pay the regular fare on to London.

As Grimaldi could not prevent this arrangement, he was compelled to
listen to it with a good grace. The manager, who came to see them off,
brought 100_l._ for Grimaldi, all in three-shilling pieces, packed
up in a large brown-paper parcel; and this part of the luggage being
stowed in the coach-pocket, away they went, Bologna congratulating
himself on his diplomacy, and Grimaldi consoling himself with the
reflection that he should know how to avoid him in future, and that he
was now, at least, safe from any further exhibition of his parsimony
during the journey. The former resolution he kept, but in the latter
conclusion he was desperately wrong.

It was evening when they started, and at four o'clock in the morning,
when they stopped to change horses, a customer for an inside place
presented himself; whereupon the driver, opening the coach-door,
civilly reminded Bologna of the conditions upon which he held his seat.

Bologna was fast asleep the first time the man spoke, and, having been
roused, had the matter explained to him once more; upon which he sat
bolt upright in the coach, and repeating all the man had said, inquired
with great distinctness whether he understood it to be put to him, that
he must either pay the inside fare, or get out.

"That's it, sir," said the coachman.

"Very well," said Bologna, without the slightest alteration of tone or
manner; "then I shall do neither the one nor the other."

The coachman, falling back a space or two from the door, and recovering
from a brief trance of astonishment, addressed the passengers, the
would-be passenger, the ostlers and stable-boys, who were standing
around, upon the mean and shabby conduct of the individual inside, upon
this, the passengers remonstrated, the would-be passenger stormed,
the coachman and guard bellowed, the ostlers hooted, the stable-boys
grinned, Grimaldi worked himself into a state of intense vexation, and
the cause of all the tumult sat quite immovable.

"Now, I'll tell you what it is," said the coachman, when his eloquence
was quite exhausted, "one word's as good as a thousand. Will you get

"No, I will not," answered the sleepy Harlequin.

"Very well," said the man; "then off goes my benjamin, and out you come
like a sack of saw-dust."

As the man was of that portly form and stout build which is the badge
of all his tribe, and as, stimulated by the approving murmurs of the
lookers-on, he began suiting the action to the word without delay,
Bologna thought it best to come to terms; so turned out into the cold
air, and took his seat on the coach-top, amidst several expressions of
very undisguised contempt from his fellow-passengers.

They performed the rest of the journey in this way, and Grimaldi,
alighting at the Angel at Islington, left Bologna to go on to the
coach-office in Holborn, previously giving both the guard and coachman
something beyond their usual fee, as an intelligible hint that he was
not of the same caste as his companion.

Two or three days afterwards, meeting Bologna in the street, he
inquired how he had got on at the coach-office.

"Oh, very well," said Bologna; "they abused me finely."

"Just what I expected."

"Yes, and very glad I was of it, too."

"What do you mean?"

"Saved my money, Joe; that's what I mean. If they had been civil, of
course I must have given something, not only to the coachman, but the
guard besides; but as they were not civil, of course I did not give
either of them a penny, and so saved something handsome by it."

Bologna had many good qualities, and he and Grimaldi always remained
on good terms; but as he was not upon the whole the most entertaining
travelling companion that could be found, they never afterwards
encountered each other in that capacity.


1817 to 1818.

     Grimaldi becomes a Proprietor of Sadler's Wells--Newcastle Salmon,
        and a Coal Mine--Production of Baron Munchausen--Anecdote of
        Ellar the Harlequin, showing how he jumped through the Moon,
        and put his hand out--Gold Snuff-box, Sir Godfrey Webster, and
        the Duke of York.

Grimaldi need not have hastened back to town with so much expedition,
for he was not in request at Covent Garden, as it turned out, until
November, and then only for a night or two in "La Perouse." Still, as
it was uncertain whether he might not be wanted at a few days' notice,
he was fearful of accepting any provincial engagement of more than a
week's duration.

Sadler's Wells was closed when he reached London, after a season which
had entailed a very severe loss on the proprietors; the balance against
whom was so heavy, as to cause it to be rumoured that one more such
season would throw a few of the shares into new hands, which in reality
shortly afterwards occurred. In a pecuniary point of view, it was an
extremely fortunate thing for Grimaldi that he had remained absent from
Sadler's Wells during the summer of 1817, his gains in the provinces
being considerably more than they would have been if he had remained
in town; while, on the other hand, the degree of exertion he had to
encounter in the provinces was greatly inferior to that which he must
have sustained at Sadler's Wells. In addition to the 1423_l._ 19_s._
of which an account is given in the last chapter, he received for four
nights at Birmingham 150_l._, for two nights at Leicester 70_l._, and
for six at Chester 100_l._, making a clear gain of 1743_l._ 19_s._ for
fifty-six nights' performance; whereas, if he had remained at Sadler's
Wells, he would have merely received his thirty weeks' salary at 12_l._
each, and two benefits of 150_l._ each, making a total of 660_l._ for
one hundred and eighty nights' performance. He was therefore a gainer
not only in the saving of bodily exertion, but in the sum of 1073_l._
19_s._, by his fortunate and unlooked-for expulsion from Sadler's Wells.

In February, 1818, Grimaldi received several intimations that if he
chose to make application to the proprietors of Sadler's Wells, he
might return almost upon his own terms; but he declined doing so,
partly from feeling rather annoyed at the manner in which he had been
treated, and partly from discovering how well provincial excursions
answered in a pecuniary point of view, and how much more conducive they
were to his health than remaining in town. Nevertheless, when Mrs.
Hughes, the widow of his friend, waited upon him and entreated him
herself to return, he scarcely knew how to refuse, and at last told
her that if he returned at all to that establishment, it must be as a
part proprietor. He said this, thinking that it would either release
him from any further requests to go back to Sadler's Wells, or enable
him to share in the profits which had been for many years accruing to
the proprietors. But in this idea, as in many others, he was totally
mistaken. After some little preliminaries, in the shape of meetings,
discussions, waiving of objections, &c., the proposal was accepted, and
he became the purchaser of a certain number of shares in Sadler's Wells
from Mrs. Hughes herself.[70] This being arranged, Grimaldi accepted an
engagement for the ensuing season upon his old terms, merely bargaining
that he should be permitted to leave town about the end of July, for
six weeks in each year, to fulfil provincial engagements.

The Covent Garden season terminated on the 17th of July, and his
benefit at Sadler's Wells, which occurred two nights afterwards, being
over, (the receipts were 243_l._ 19_s._,) he left town to fulfil the
engagements he had entered into with country managers. He went first
to Liverpool, where he acted from the 27th July until the 19th of
August: his profits amounted to 327_l._, being two pounds and a few
shillings more than the result of his previous visit. Thence he went to
Lancaster, the theatre of which town, like the one at Berwick, he found
up a stable-yard, but very neat and commodious. Here he played two
nights, for which he received 111_l._ 16_s._ From this town he went to
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he performed five nights, realizing 243_l._
14_s._ as his share of the profits.

During his stay at Newcastle, he recollected that the best pickled
salmon sold in London was called by that name, and came from thence,
and he resolved to have a feast of it, naturally concluding that he
should procure it in high perfection in the place whence it was brought
for sale. Accordingly, one evening he ordered some to be got ready for
supper upon his return from the theatre; which the waiter of the hotel
he was staying at promised should be done, but in so curious a manner
that he could not help fancying he did not understand his meaning. He
therefore asked him if he had heard what he said.

"Oh dear, yes, sir!" was the reply: "I'll take care it shall be ready,

This appeared to settle the point, and as soon as the play was over, he
returned to the inn, anticipating how much better the salmon would be
than the London pickle. The cloth was duly spread, and a covered dish
placed before him.

"Supper, sir quite ready, sir," said the waiter, whisking away the
cover, and presenting to his sight a mutton cutlet. "You'll find this
excellent, sir."

"No doubt; but I ordered pickled salmon!"

"I beg your pardon, sir, did you, sir?" (with a slight appearance of

"Did I! Yes, to be sure I did. Do you mean to say you do not recollect

"I may have forgotten it, sir; I suppose I _have_ forgotten it, sir."

"Well, it does not matter much; I can make a supper of this. But don't
forget to let me have some pickled salmon to-morrow evening."

"Certainly not, sir," was the waiter's answer; and so the matter ended
for that night.

On the following evening, Grimaldi invited the manager, at the close of
the performances, to go home and sup with him, which he willingly did.
As on the preceding evening, the meal was prepared and awaiting their
arrival. Down they sat, and upon the removal of the cover, a rump-steak
presented itself. A good deal surprised, he said to the waiter,

"What's this! have you forgotten the pickled salmon again?"

"Why, really, sir, dear me!" hesitated the man, "I believe I have I
really fancied you said you would have beef to-night, sir. To-morrow
night, sir, I'll take care that you have some."

"Now, mind that you _do_ remember it, for to-morrow is the last day
I shall be here, and I have a particular wish to taste some before I
leave the town."

"Depend upon me, sir, you shall certainly have some to-morrow, sir,"
said the waiter. The manager preferred meat, so it was no great matter,
and they took their hot supper very comfortably.

There was a crowded audience next night, which was Grimaldi's benefit
and the last of his performance. He played Acres and Clown, received
the cash, bade farewell to the manager, and hurried to his inn, greatly
fatigued by his performance, and looking forward with much pleasure to
the pickled salmon.

"All right to-night, waiter?" he inquired.

"_All_ right to-night, sir," said the waiter, rubbing his hands.
"Supper is quite ready, sir."

"Good! Let me have my bill to-night, because I start early in the

Grimaldi turned to the supper-table: there was a dish, with a cover;
the waiter removed it with a flourish, and presented to his astonished
eyes--not the long-expected pickled salmon, but a veal-cutlet. These
repeated disappointments were rather too much, so he pulled the bell
with great vehemence and called for the landlord.

The landlord came, and Grimaldi having stated his grievance, he
appeared to understand as little about the matter as his waiter; but
at length, after many explanations, Grimaldi learned to his great
surprise, that pickled salmon was an article unknown in Newcastle, all
Newcastle pickled salmon being sent to London for sale. The brilliant
waiter not having the remotest conception of what was wanted, and
determined not to confess his ignorance, had resolved to try all the
dishes in the most general request until he came to the right one.

Grimaldi saw a coal mine on this expedition, his curiosity having been
roused by the manager's glowing description. We should rather say that
he went down into one, for his survey was brief enough. He descended
some two or three hundred feet in a basket, and was met at the bottom
of the shaft by a guide, who had not conducted him far, when a piece
of coal, weighing about three tons, fell with a loud noise upon a spot
over which they had just passed.

"Hollo!" exclaimed Grimaldi, greatly terrified. "What's that?"

"Hech!" said the guide, "it's only a wee bit of cool fallen doon: we
ha'e that twa or three times a day."

"Have you?" replied Grimaldi, running back to the shaft. "Then I'll
thank you to ring for my basket, or call out for it, for I'll stop here
no longer."

The basket was lowered, and he ascended to the light without delay,
having no wish whatever to take his chance again among the "wee bits of

While upon this last expedition, he received a letter from Mr. Harris,
in which that gentleman informed him that it would be necessary for
him to be in London by the 7th of September, to attend the opening of
Covent Garden; in consequence of which he was obliged to forego his
Edinburgh engagement with Mr. Murray, which annoyed him greatly, for
he had calculated upon clearing pretty nigh five hundred pounds by
that portion of his trip; besides, being at Newcastle, he was within
one day's journey of Edinburgh. However, he was obliged to attend to
the summons, and so returned to London, where a few days afterwards
he encountered Mr. Harris, with whom he had the following vexatious

"Ah, Joe!" he exclaimed, with evident surprise, "why, I did not expect
to see you for three weeks to come!"

"You did not, sir!" exclaimed Grimaldi, with at least an equal degree
of astonishment.

"Certainly not; I thought you were going into Scotland."

"So I was; but I received a letter from you, recalling me to town
by to-day; which summons I have obeyed, by sacrificing my Edinburgh
excursion, and with it about five hundred pounds."

"Ah!" said Mr. Harris, "I see now how all this is. I suppose you left
Newcastle the same day you received my letter?"

"I did, sir."

"That was unfortunate; for I changed my mind after writing that letter,
and wrote again on the following day, giving you permission to stay
away until the first week of October. Never mind; as you _are_ here,
we'll find you something to do;--we'll try 'Mother Goose' for a night
or two next week."

To this obliging promise he made no reply, not deriving the smallest
degree of comfort from it. Mr. Harris, observing that his offer had
failed in producing the intended effect, added, "And as to the loss of
your Edinburgh engagement, that I must endeavour to make up to you in
some way or other at a future time."

He thanked him for this kindness, and Mr. Harris did not forget his

The result of Grimaldi's first season's proprietorship was far from
propitious. At first all went on very well; but after he had left (as
previously stipulated) in July, the houses fell to nothing, and when he
arrived in town again in September, he was informed that there would be
a clear loss instead of any profit. This both surprised and vexed him;
for Sadler's Wells had always been considered a very good property,
and he had fully expected that he should, merely upon becoming a
proprietor, have to receive a sum of money yearly, in addition to his
regular salary.

The first proprietors' meeting which he attended, occurred a few days
after the close of the season; and then all the books and papers
connected with the business of the theatre being produced, it was found
that a heavy loss was really attendant upon the year's campaign.

"And pray what may be the amount?" he inquired, rather dolefully,--for
he now began to repent of his purchase, and to fancy that he saw all
his recently acquired wealth fading away.

Mr. Richard Hughes shook his head when he heard his question, and said,
"Ah, Joe, the loss is 333_l._ 13_s._"

"Oh, come!" cried Grimaldi, "it's not so bad as I thought,--333_l._
13_s._ is not so much among six persons!" which was the number of
proprietors at that time.

"Joe," said Mr. Hughes, gravely, "is this the first meeting you have


"Ah, then I do not wonder you have misunderstood me. What I meant was,
that the loss to each person is 333_l._ 13_s._, the gross loss being
six times that sum."

This communication was a very unexpected blow to all his hopes; but as
there was nothing better to be done, he paid his share of the money at
once with as good a grace as he could assume, having thus gratified
his wish to become a proprietor of Sadler's Wells by the expenditure,
first, of a large sum of money for his shares, and secondly, of another
sum of upwards of 330_l._ at the end of the first season.

Grimaldi anticipated other heavy demands upon his provincial gains of
1817 and 1818, and bitterly regretted having connected himself with the
establishment in any other way than as a salaried actor.

The Christmas pantomime at Covent Garden was entitled "Baron
Munchausen,"[71] and proved as successful as its predecessors had done
for some years. During its run, a circumstance occurred worthy of
mention, as an instance of the brutality of a man belonging to the

One night, a fellow engaged as a carpenter, and whose business it
likewise was to assist in holding a carpet in which the pantomime
characters are caught when they jump through the scenes, went to
Ellar, who was the Harlequin, and holding up the carpet, said that it
was very dry, thereby intimating in the cant phrase that he required
something to drink. Ellar, from some cause or other, either because
he had already fee'd the men liberally, or was engaged at the moment
in conversation, returned some slight answer, unaccompanied by the
required gratuity, and the fellow went away grumbling. On the following
evening, Ellar was informed that the man had been heard to talk about
being revenged upon him: he only laughed at the threat, however, and
all went on as usual until the third night afterwards, when, as he and
Grimaldi were on the stage together, in the scene where he used to jump
through the "moon," and after the former had given the cue for him
to take the leap, he was surprised to observe that he hesitated, and
still more so when, drawing close to him, he said, in a whisper, "I am
afraid they don't mean to catch me. I have knocked three times against
the scene, and asked if they were ready; but nobody has said a word in

"It's impossible," whispered Grimaldi: "I don't believe there is a man
in the theatre who would dream of such a thing. Jump, man, jump."

Ellar still paused, and Grimaldi fancying that symptoms of impatience
were beginning to appear among the audience, told him so, and again
urged him not to stop the business of the scene, but to jump at once.

"Well, well," cried Ellar, "here goes!--but Heaven knows how it will
end!" And in a complete state of uncertainty whether any men were
there to catch him, or he was left to break his neck, he went through
the scene. His fears were not without good ground; for the fellows
whose business it was to hold the carpet were holding it, as they well
knew, in a position where he could never reach it, and down he fell.
Suspecting his danger while in the very act of going through the panel,
he endeavoured to save his head by sacrificing a hand. In this he
fortunately succeeded, as he sustained no other injury than breaking
the hand upon which he fell. The accident occasioned him great pain
and inconvenience, but he insisted on going through the part, and the
audience were quite ignorant of the occurrence.

The circumstance was not long in reaching the ears of Mr. Harris and
Mr. Fawcett, who were made acquainted not only with Ellar's accident,
but with the man's threat, and the occasion which had given rise to it.
Fawcett immediately caused all the carpenters to assemble on the stage,
and told them that if Mr. Ellar would undertake to say he believed the
accident had been brought about wilfully, they should every one be
discharged on the spot. Ellar being sent for, and informed that this
was the proprietor's deliberate intention, replied without hesitation,
that he could not believe it was intentional, and whispered to Grimaldi
as he left the house, that the fellow had got a wife and half-a-dozen
children dependent upon him.

This praiseworthy resolution, which prevented several men from being
thrown out of employment, was rendered the more praiseworthy by Ellar's
having no earthly doubt that the mistake was intentional, and by his
knowing perfectly well that if he had fallen on his head in lieu of his
hand, he would most probably have been killed on the spot.

While upon the subject of stage accidents, we may remark, that very few
of these mischances befel Grimaldi, considering the risks to which a
pantomime actor is exposed, and the serious injuries he is constantly
encountering. The hazards were not so great in Grimaldi's case as
they would have been to any other man similarly situated, inasmuch as
his clown was a very quiet personage, so far as the use or abuse of
his limbs was concerned, and by no means addicted to those violent
contortions of body, which are painful alike to actor and spectator.
His clown was an embodied conception of his own, whose humour was in
his looks, and not in his tumbles, and who excited the laughter of an
audience while standing upon his heels, and not upon his head. If the
present race of clowns, and the rising generation of that honourable
fraternity, would endeavour to imitate him in this respect, they would
be more at ease themselves, and place their audiences more at ease also.

While playing in "Baron Munchausen" at Covent Garden, one evening very
shortly after Ellar's accident, he observed his Royal Highness the Duke
of York, accompanied by Sir Godfrey Webster and another gentleman,
sitting in his Royal Highness's private box, and laughing very heartily
at the piece. Upon his coming off the stage about the middle of the
pantomime, he found Sir Godfrey waiting for him.

"Hard work, Grimaldi!"

"Hard and hot, Sir Godfrey!"

"Have a pinch of snuff, Grimaldi," said Sir Godfrey: "it will refresh
you." With this he produced from behind him, where he had been holding
it, the largest snuff-box Grimaldi had ever beheld. The sight of
it amused him much. Sir Godfrey laughed and said, "Take it to that
gentleman," pointing to the pantaloon, who was on the stage, "and see
if he would like a pinch."

Grimaldi willingly complied, and having shortly afterwards to enact a
foppish scene, swaggered about the stage, ostentatiously displaying
this huge box, which from its enormous size really looked like a
caricature made expressly for the purpose, and offered a pinch to
the pantaloon with all that affectation of politeness in which he
was so ludicrous. The audience laughed at its gigantic size, and the
pantaloon, looking suspiciously at him, demanded,

"Where did you get this box?"

To this, affecting modest reserve and diffidence, he made no answer,
but turned away his head.

"You've stolen it!" continued Pantaloon.

This the injured Clown strongly denied upon his honour, with many bows
and slides, and averred it was a gift.

"Given to you!" cried the Pantaloon: "and pray, who gave it to you?"

In answer to this, he pointed significantly to the box whither Sir
Godfrey had retired, and the merriment which this occasioned was
great indeed. The Duke, to whom, as he discovered afterwards, the box
belonged, was convulsed with laughter; nor were the gentlemen with him
less merry, while the audience, either suspecting that some joke was
afloat, or being amused at the scene, joined in the hearty laughter
emanating from the royal box.

"Where are you going to take the box?" asked Pantaloon, as he turned to
go off.

"Where it has often been before," cried Grimaldi, pointing upwards: "to
my uncle's!" And so saying, he ran off the stage amid a fresh burst of

Sir Godfrey was with him in two minutes. Whether he thought the box
was really in danger of being so disposed of, is uncertain, but he
popped round behind the scenes as quickly as possible.

"Capital, Grimaldi!" he cried, still laughing; "you have won me a
wager--so ought to go snacks in it;" and he slipped five guineas into
his hand.

"So, so," said the Duke of York, who, unperceived by Grimaldi, had
followed his friend; "this is the way stakes are divided, eh?--I'll
tell you what, Sir Godfrey, although Mr. Grimaldi is not a porter, I
entertain no doubt that he would carry your box for you every evening
upon such terms as these."

Having vented this joke, his Royal Highness returned to his box. As
he was not often behind the scenes at the theatre, this was, with one
exception, the only time Grimaldi encountered him.


[70] Joe's desire was to become a proprietor, and an eighth share, at
his request, was disposed of to him by his brother-in-law, Mr. Hughes;
nor was the purchase-money demanded at the time of sale: the object
was, to invest Grimaldi with an interest in the theatre and to attach
him to it more permanently: but so far from any loss having arisen, we
find that on reference to the treasurer's books, the season of 1818
and the two following were profitable, and Joe participated in the
benefits arising therefrom. The season of 1821 was attended by loss;
but even then the deficit required from Grimaldi, by reason of his
eighth share, was little more than ninety pounds; and in that instance
Joe experienced the kindness of the family to which his early marriage
had attached him. The loss referred to was rendered easy to him in its
liquidation. Mr. Hughes's subsequent losses, as connected with Sadler's
Wells Theatre, exceeded 5000_l._

[71] "Baron Munchausen; or, the Fountain of Love," first performed
on December 26, 1818. Harlequin, Mr. Ellar; Clown, Mr. Grimaldi;
Pantaloon, Mr. Norman; Columbine, Miss F. Dennett.


1818 to 1823.

     Profit and Loss--Appearance of his Son at Covent Garden--His last
        engagement at Sadler's Wells--Accommodation of the Giants
        in the Dublin Pavilion--Alarming state of his health--His
        engagement at the Coburg--The liberality of Mr. Harris--Rapid
        decay of Grimaldi's constitution, his great sufferings, and
        last performance at Covent Garden--He visits Cheltenham and
        Birmingham with great success--Colonel Berkeley, Mr. Charles
        Kemble, and Mr. Bunn.

By his six weeks' excursion in 1818, Grimaldi cleared 682_l._ 12_s._
but the disastrous result of the Sadler's Wells season, and the
expenditure of ready money in the purchase of his shares, swallowed up
nearly the whole of his gains in the provinces--so that notwithstanding
his great success and the enormous sums he had so recently acquired,
the autumn of 1818 found him still poor, and entirely dependent on his
salary for support. He looked forward, however, to the next season at
Sadler's Wells, in the hope that some success might repay a portion of
the money he had already lost.

The opening of Sadler's Wells[72] was attended by many difficulties
and embarrassments. Only ten days before the commencement of the
season, Mr. Charles Dibdin suddenly relinquished his post of acting
stage-manager, and was with great difficulty prevailed upon to make the
necessary arrangements for the first week. As he left the theatre at
Whitsuntide, and nobody could be found to supply his place, Grimaldi
was obliged to fill it himself, and to relinquish, though with great
unwillingness, his summer excursion, with all its advantages. He
produced a new pantomime of his own invention, called "The Fates,"
which ran the whole of the season, and drew very good houses. The
result was, that when the books were made up at the end of the
season, each of the proprietors had something to receive; which was a
very agreeable improvement on the untoward prospects with which the
preceding year had opened.

Gradually, but surely, during the whole of this year Grimaldi felt his
health sinking, and heavy and painful infirmities creeping upon him. He
learnt, when it was too late, that if at this time he had retired from
the profession, and devoted one or two years to relaxation and quiet,
his constitution would in all probability have rallied, and he would
have been enabled to resume his usual occupations, with every hope of
being long able to perform them, instead of being compelled, as he
eventually was, to quit the stage when he was little more than forty
years old.

The Christmas pantomime at Covent Garden was "Harlequin Don Quixote,"
which was not quite so successful as the pantomimes at that house
usually had been, although Grimaldi played Sancho Panza in the opening,
and afterwards Clown. Its success was so equivocal, that another
pantomime, called "Harlequin and Cinderella," was produced in April;
but it had no greater success that its predecessor, for it went off but
indifferently, and did not run long. Having a few nights to spare in
March, he accepted a theatrical invitation from Lynn in Norfolk, where
he acted four nights and received one hundred and sixty pounds.

At Sadler's Wells a new system had been acted upon. The authorities
being greatly puzzled in the choice of a stage-manager, and having
received an offer from Mr. Howard Payne to take the theatre for
one season at a certain rental, agreed to let it. Mr. Howard Payne
commenced his campaign at Easter,[73] and a most unprofitable one
it proved, for he lost a considerable sum of money, as did the
proprietors also, and Grimaldi not unnaturally began to be weary of
the speculation. As both his benefits, however, were bumpers, he left
the theatre in good spirits in the month of September,[74] to fulfil
an engagement at Dublin, little dreaming at the time, that with the
exception of his farewell night, he was destined never again to act
upon the Sadler's Wells stage.

Grimaldi's travelling companions were Ellar and his son, all three
being engaged by Mr. Harris to act at his theatre in Dublin, and
receiving permission to absent themselves from Covent Garden for that
express purpose. Since his last journey to the Irish capital in 1805,
roads and coaches had improved, and steam-packets had supplied the
place of the old sailing-boats, so that they reached their destination
in half the time which the same journey had occupied before.

The theatre in which they were to act was called the Pavilion, and
had formerly been an assembly-room. It was perfectly round, and very
ill adapted for dramatic representations; the stage room, too, was so
inconvenient, and they were so pressed for want of space, that when
"Harlequin Gulliver" was in preparation, they were at a loss where to
put the Brobdignagians. These figures were so very cumbersome and so
much in the way, that the men who sustained the parts were at last
obliged to be dressed and put away in an obscure corner before the
curtain was raised, whence they were brought forward when wanted
upon the stage, and into which they were obliged to retreat when they
had no more to do, and to remain there as quietly as they could, until
the pantomime was over, there being actually no room to get them out
of their cases. The dresses and makings-up were very cumbrous and
inconvenient; but as no other mode of proceeding presented itself, the
unfortunate giants were obliged to make the best of a bad bargain,
and to remain in a great state of perspiration and fatigue until they
could be reduced to the level of ordinary men. Grimaldi pitied the poor
fellows so much, that after the first night's performance was over, he
thought right to represent to them that no relief could be afforded,
and to ask whether they could make up their minds to endure so much
labour for the future.

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_Grimaldi's kindness to the Giants._]

"Well, then," said the spokesman of the party, "we have talked it over
together, and we have agreed to do it every night, if your honour--long
life to you!--will only promise to do one thing for us; and that is,
just to let us have a leetle noggin of whisky after the green rag comes

This moderate request was readily complied with, and the giants behaved
themselves exceedingly well, and never got drunk.

The party stayed seven weeks at Dublin. Grimaldi made a great deal
of money by the trip, and realized by his benefit alone, two hundred

Between September, 1820, when Covent Garden re-opened, and Christmas,
when the new pantomime was brought forward, Grimaldi frequently
appeared as Kasrac in "Aladdin;" nor did his increasing infirmities
render his performance more painful or wearisome than usual. The
pantomime was called "Harlequin and Friar Bacon," and was exceedingly
successful, as it was received with great approbation, and was
repeated for fifty-two nights. This season his son was for the first
time regularly engaged at Covent Garden.[75] He played Fribble in the
opening, and afterwards the Lover, (a character which has now become
obsolete,) and bade fair to become a great public favourite.

Sadler's Wells was let at Easter, 1821, for the ensuing three seasons,
to Mr. Egerton, well known to the public as a performer at Covent
Garden. He and Grimaldi had been very good friends for many years;
but some clauses being introduced into his agreement for hiring the
theatre which Grimaldi as a proprietor so strongly disapproved that
he refused to affix his signature to the document, a coolness took
place between them which was never afterwards removed. Notwithstanding
this difference, he always continued to entertain a high respect for
Egerton, who was greatly liked by his friends and the profession
generally, and who had been at one period of his career a much better
actor than the play-goers of the present day remember him. This
gentleman was afterwards connected with Mr. Abbott in the management
of the Victoria Theatre, in which speculation they both sustained
considerable losses. Both are since dead.

On the 23rd of April, Farley produced his melodrama of "Undine; or, the
Spirit of the Waters," in which Grimaldi sustained a new character.[76]

In the autumn, Ellar, Grimaldi, and his son again repaired to Dublin,
making a stay of five weeks at the Birmingham Theatre,[77] which was
then in the hands of Mr. Bunn. Here they got up the pantomime of "Friar
Bacon," which was played to excellent houses for twenty-four nights.
Mr. Bunn behaved on this occasion, as Grimaldi states he did upon every
other in which he was concerned, with great liberality, allowing him
a salary of twenty pounds per week, and the son nine pounds per week,
independent of half a clear benefit, the profits of which were

At Dublin, "Friar Bacon" was played twenty-nine nights out of the
thirty-two for which Grimaldi and his party were engaged, and the
pieces were so successful, that it would have been the interest of all
parties to prolong their engagements, if the arrangements at Covent
Garden had admitted of their doing so. It was at this period that, with
an agony of mind perfectly indescribable, Grimaldi found his health
giving way by alarming degrees beneath the ravages of premature old
age. On the eighteenth night of their performance in Dublin, he became
so ill that he was obliged to throw up his part at a very short notice,
and to send immediately for medical aid. He was attended by one of the
most eminent physicians in Dublin, and under his treatment recovered
sufficiently to be enabled to resume his character in about a week. But
he felt, although he could not bear to acknowledge it even to himself,
that his restoration to health was only temporary, that his strength
was rapidly failing him, that his limbs grew weaker, and his frame
became more shaken every succeeding day, and that utter decrepitude,
with its long train of miseries and privations, was coming upon him.
His presentiments were but too fully realized, but the realization of
his worst fears came upon him with a rapidity which even he, conscious
as he was of all the symptoms, had never deemed possible.

The successful sojourn of the party at Dublin at length drew to a
close, as it was necessary that they should return to London to be in
readiness for the pantomime. On the 6th of December, 1821, they bade
farewell to Ireland, and after a most boisterous voyage landed at
Holyhead, whence they posted in haste to town, and the day after their
arrival began the rehearsals for Christmas. In his ill state of health,
Grimaldi was terribly shaken by the journey home and the sea-sickness,
and felt worse in point of general health than he had yet done.

The pantomime was "The Yellow Dwarf."[79] Although the performers began
to rehearse at an unusually late period, its success was perfect; but,
notwithstanding it ran forty-four nights, Grimaldi never thought it
a favourite with the public. He himself played the Yellow Dwarf, and
his son played a part called "Guinea Pig." "Cherry and Fair Star" was
revived at Easter, in consequence of its great success in the previous
season, and answered the purpose extremely well.

During the whole of this summer Grimaldi's health gradually but
steadily declined. Sometimes there were slight fluctuations for
the better, in which he felt so much improved as to fancy that his
strength was beginning to return; and although the next day's decay and
lassitude showed but too clearly that they were but brief intervals
of strength, he fondly regarded these red-letter days as tokens of a
real and permanent change for the better. Perhaps even now, as he had
nothing to do at Sadler's Wells, and was too unwell to accept country
engagements, if he had remained quiet during the Covent Garden recess,
lived with great regularity, and acted upon the best medical advice, he
might have retained for many years longer some portion of his health
and spirits. But Mr. Glossop, who was then the lessee of the Coburg
Theatre (now the Victoria), made him an offer which he could not
resist, and he acted there for six weeks,[80] at a considerable sum per
week and a free benefit. The engagement turned out so profitable a one
for the management, that he might have renewed it for the same space of
time, if he had not become too ill to appear upon the stage.

At this crisis of his disorder Grimaldi was advised to try the
Cheltenham waters. He went to Cheltenham in August, and being somewhat
recovered by the change of air, consented to act for Farley and Abbott,
who had taken the theatre on speculation, for twelve nights. He cleared
150_l._; and whether this sum of money, or the waters, or the change
of scene revived him is uncertain, but he felt greatly improved in
health when he returned to London for the opening of Covent Garden, to
commence what ultimately proved to be his last season at that theatre.

"Harlequin and the Ogress; or, the Sleeping Beauty," was the pantomime
of the season. The rehearsals went off very briskly, and the piece,
when it was produced, met with the success which generally attended
the production of pantomimes at that house. Nothing, indeed, could
exceed the liberality displayed by Mr. Harris in getting up this
species of entertainment; to which circumstance, in a great measure,
the almost uniform success of the pantomimes may be attributed. This
spirit was not confined to the stage and its appointments, but was
also extended in an unusual degree to the actors. Every suggestion was
readily listened to, and as readily acted upon, if it appeared at all
reasonable: every article of dress was provided at the expense of the
management; the principal actors were allowed a pint of wine each,
every night the pantomime was played, and on the evening of its first
representation they were invited to a handsome dinner at the Piazza
Coffee-house, whither they all repaired directly the rehearsal was
over. At these dinners Farley took the chair, while Brandon acted as
vice; and there is no doubt that they materially contributed to the
success of the pantomimes. There can be no better means of securing
the hearty good-will and co-operation of the parties employed in
undertakings of this or any other description than treating them in a
spirit of generosity and courtesy.

In this pantomime Grimaldi played a part with the very pantomimic
name of "Grimgribber;" and that sustained by his son was expressively
described in the bills as "Whirligig." It ran until nearly the
following Easter, when a new melodrama by Farley appeared, called "The
Vision of the Sun; or, the Orphan of Peru."

In this piece, which came out on the 23rd of March, 1823, Grimaldi
played a prominent character; but even during the earlier nights of its
very successful representation, he could scarcely struggle through his
part. His frame was weak and debilitated, his joints stiff, and his
muscles relaxed; every effort he made was followed by cramps and spasms
of the most agonizing nature. Men were obliged to be kept waiting at
the side-scenes, who caught him in their arms when he staggered from
the stage, and supported him, while others chafed his limbs,--which
was obliged to be incessantly done until he was called for the next
scene, or he could not have appeared again. Every time he came off, his
sinews were gathered up into huge knots by the cramps that followed his
exertions, which could only be reduced by violent rubbing, and even
that frequently failed to produce the desired effect. The spectators,
who were convulsed with laughter while he was on the stage, little
thought that while their applause was resounding through the house, he
was suffering the most excruciating and horrible pains. But so it was
until the twenty-fourth night of the piece, when he had no alternative,
in consequence of his intense sufferings, but to throw up the part.

On the preceding night, although every possible remedy was tried, he
could scarcely drag himself through the piece; and on this occasion it
was only with the most extreme difficulty and by dint of extraordinary
physical exertion and agony, that he could conclude the performance,
when he was carried to his dressing-room exhausted and powerless.

Here, when his bodily anguish had in some measure subsided, he began
to reflect seriously on his sad condition. And when he remembered how
long this illness had been hovering about him, how gradually it had
crept over his frame, and subdued his energies, with what obstinacy it
had baffled the skill of the most eminent medical professors, and how
utterly his powers had wasted away beneath it, he came to the painful
conviction that his professional existence was over. Enduring from
this terrible certainty a degree of anguish, to which all his bodily
sufferings were as nothing, he covered his face with his hands and wept
like a child. The next morning he sent word to the theatre that he was
disabled by illness from performing.

His son studied the part in one day, and played it that night with
considerable success. The piece was performed forty-four nights during
the season; but although he afterwards rallied a little, he never
attempted to resume the part. In spite of all his sufferings, which
were great, and a settled foreboding that his course was run, it was
some years before hope deserted him: and for a long time, from day to
day he encouraged hopes of being at some future period able to resume
the avocations in which he had spent his life.

Grimaldi repaired again, in the month of August, to Cheltenham,
recollecting that it had had some beneficial effect on his health
in the previous year. During his stay, he so far recovered as to be
enabled to play a few nights at the theatre, then under the management
of Mr. Farley. Here he encountered Mr. Bunn, who informed him that
Mr. Charles Kemble was then starring at Birmingham, and that Colonel
Berkeley having promised to play for his benefit, he had come over
to Cheltenham to ascertain what part the Colonel would wish to play.
Mr. Bunn added, that he was there as much for the purpose of seeing
Grimaldi as with any other object, as he wanted him to put a little
money into both their purses, by playing a few nights at Birmingham.
Grimaldi declined at first, but being pressed, and tempted by Mr.
Bunn's offer, consented to act for two nights only, the receipts,
whatever they might happen to be, to be divided between them.

It was Mr. Charles Kemble's benefit night when he and his son arrived
at Birmingham; and as that gentleman was a great favourite there, as
indeed he was everywhere throughout his brilliant career, Grimaldi
entertained some fears that the circumstance would prove prejudicial to
his interests. He sought a few moments' conversation with Mr. Kemble in
the course of the evening, and informed him that his son had received
an offer of eight pounds per week from the Drury Lane Management, but
that rather than he should leave Covent Garden Theatre, with which his
father had now been connected so long, and where he had experienced
so much liberality, he was ready to accept an engagement there at six
pounds per week, if agreeable to the proprietors.

"Joe," said Mr. Charles Kemble, "your offer is a very handsome one, and
I agree to it at once. Your son is now engaged with us on the terms you
have mentioned."

They shook hands and parted. Grimaldi strolled into the green-room, and
there met Colonel Berkeley, who, after a short conversation, said that
he very much wished to play Valentine to his Orson: to which Grimaldi
replied, it would give him great pleasure to afford him the opportunity
whenever he felt disposed.

"Very well," said Colonel Berkeley, "then we will consider the matter
settled. As soon as you have done here, you must come to Cheltenham for
one night. I will make all necessary arrangements with Farley: your son
shall play the Green Knight, and I will give you one hundred pounds as
a remuneration. We will try what we can do together, Joe, to amuse the

Grimaldi had not intended to act again after his Birmingham engagement,
until the production of the Christmas pantomime at Covent Garden; but
seeing that Colonel Berkeley was anxious to effect the arrangement, and
feeling grateful for the liberality of his offer, he pledged himself
without hesitation to accept his terms. The play was never done,
however, by these three performers, for Grimaldi's theatrical career
was over.

The night after Mr. Charles Kemble's benefit, Grimaldi produced a
little pantomime of his own, called "Puck and the Puddings." The hit
was so complete, and the sensation he excited so great, that he felt
infinitely better than he had done for a long time, and was, indeed,
so greatly restored that he was induced to accept an engagement for
one additional night, the success of which equalled--it could not
excel--that of the two previous evenings. When the curtain fell on
the third night, Mr. Bunn presented him with 186_l._ 12_s._ as his
share of the profits, accompanied with many wishes for his speedy and
perfect restoration to health, which Grimaldi himself, judging from his
unwonted spirit and vigour, cheerfully hoped might be yet in store for

These hopes were never to be realized: the enthusiastic reception he
had met with--unusually enthusiastic even for him,--had roused him
for a brief period, and called forth all his former energies only to
hasten their final prostration. With the exception of his two farewell
benefits, this was his last appearance, his final exit from the boards
he had trodden from a child, the last occasion of his calling forth
those peals of merriment and approbation which, cheerfully as they
sounded to him, had been surely ringing his death-knell for many years.


[72] Sadler's Wells opened on Easter Monday, April 12, 1819, with a
pantomime, the scenes selected from successful harlequinades at that
theatre, commencing with the opening from that of the "Talking Bird;"
Clown, Mr. Grimaldi, with a new song, "Hot Codlins," composed by Mr.
Whitaker; Columbine, Miss Tree, from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
On April 19, the "Great Devil" was revived; Nicola, Mr. Grimaldi;
the Lady Matilda, Miss Tree: and on Whit Monday, May 31, the new
harlequinade, called "The Fates, or Harlequin's Holiday," was produced
under Grimaldi's immediate direction. He played the Clown; Bologna, as
Harlequin, made his first appearance that evening, after a ten years'
absence; Barnes, Pantaloon; the ever juvenile Widdicomb played the West
Indian; and Columbine, Miss Tree. On the same night, at Covent Garden,
"Mother Goose" was revived, with additional scenes from "Harlequin
Munchausen," "Gulliver," and "Whittington." Ellar was the Harlequin,
and Grimaldi had to play at both theatres in the two pieces. The
pantomime was played at Covent Garden on July 19th, the last night of
the season, by the express desire of the Duke and Duchess of Kent.
The pantomime of "Harlequin's Holiday" continued uninterruptedly till
August 9th, when it was announced it would be withdrawn for a short
time, to re-embellish the scenery, machinery, and dresses, and would
then be re-produced with additional scenes. On August 2, Grimaldi
sustained Friday in the burletta of the "Bold Buccaneers," which was
successfully repeated during the season. The Duke and Duchess, pleased
with Grimaldi's performance at Covent Garden, visited Sadler's Wells,
on August 27th. On September 13th, Grimaldi played Scaramouch, in "Don
Juan;" Donna Anna, Miss Tree; when the bills announced a change of
entertainments on the Monday following, September 20th, for the benefit
of Mr. Grimaldi.

[73] Sadler's Wells opened under the management of Mr. Howard Payne
on Easter Monday, April 3, 1820, with the best playing company ever
assembled within its walls. The stage business was arranged by
Grimaldi; and in the first piece, the pantomime of "Goody Two Shoes,"
Bologna played Harlequin; Grimaldi, Clown; Barnes, Pantaloon; Farmer,
with a song, Mr. Wood, the husband of Miss Paton, afterwards Lady
Lennox; Columbine, Miss Vallancey. On Whit Monday, May 22, was produced
a splendid Persian Pantomime, entitled "The Yellow Dwarf; or, Harlequin
King of the Golden Mines;" Harlequin, Mr. Bologna; Columbine, Miss
Vallancey; Pantaloon, Mr. Barnes; Grim, afterwards Clown, with a song,
"London Cheats, or there never was such Times," by Grimaldi: the Yellow
Dwarf, afterwards Yellow Harlequin, Mr. Guerint; Ubrino, his attendant
Genie, afterwards Yellow Clown, Mr. Grimaldi, Junior, his first
appearance this season. On July 3, was revived the pantomime of "Don
Juan;" Don Juan, Mr. Bologna; Scaramouch, Mr. Grimaldi, with the song
of "Tippitywitchet;" Donna Anna, Miss Vallancey. Grimaldi's benefit,
Thursday, July 27th, presented a crowded house: the entertainments
were, "Kaloc; or, the Slave Pirate;" Kaloc, by Mr. Grimaldi; "Ko and
Zoa," in which Bologna played Ko, Grimaldi, Ravin; and the "Yellow
Dwarf;" and the applause with which they were received induced a
repetition on the two following nights. "Raymond and Agnes" was revived
on August 7, when Grimaldi played Robert the Bandit.

[74] On Howard Payne's night, October 5th, after T. Dibdin's melodrama
of "Douglas," followed a harlequinade, compiled by Grimaldi from the
best scenes of the last popular pantomimes, entitled "Scraps; or, Fun
for the Gallery." Bologna, Guerint, Grimaldi, Young Grimaldi, Barnes,
and Miss Vallancey performed the parts; and the bills stated that, on
this occasion, Mr. Grimaldi would appear for the last time this season,
and introduce one of his most celebrated comic songs, and with Mr.
Bologna a grotesque dance, the Pas-de-Deux from "Mother Goose." C. M.
Westmacott, who was scene-painter and composer of the pantomimes this
season at Sadler's Wells, had also a benefit on October 11th, the bills
for which invitingly asked the reader, "Will you come for nothing?" the
prices of admission were as usual; but to every person in the boxes and
pit was presented an excellent portrait of Grimaldi, engraved after
Wageman's drawing, by Blood; and to every person in the gallery a book
of the songs of the evening.

[75] Young Joe made his first appearance at Covent Garden, as
Chittaque, a little-footed Chinese Empress, with a big body, afterwards
Clowny-chip, in the pantomime of "Harlequin and Fortunio," on December
26, 1815. Young Joe, as Adonis Fribble, in "Harlequin and Friar Bacon,"
was an admirable lover of the dandy kind; Ellar, Barnes, and Miss E.
Dennett maintained the usual ascendancy of pantomime at this theatre;
but the greatest merit characterised Grimaldi, whose Clown seemed to
carry all before it. His parody on the dagger-scene in "Macbeth," and
his duet with the oyster, elicited unequivocal plaudits. Most truly did
Theodore Hook observe--"The Covent Garden pantomime is excellent. The
strength of Grimaldi, the Garrick of Clowns, seems, like that of wine,
to increase with age; his absurdities are admirable. There is a life
and spirit about the whole arrangement of this species of entertainment
here, which is calculated not only to bewitch the little Masters and
Misses, but even to amuse the children of larger growth."

[76] Kuhleborn, the Water-King, Mr. Farley; Gyblin, the Goblin Sprite,
subject to the power of Kuhleborn, Mr. Grimaldi; Undine, Miss E.

[77] During this stay at Birmingham, Grimaldi had his portrait painted
by S. Raven, on a papier-maché box, circular in form and of large size.
The resemblance was so satisfactory, that he had it copied, and brought
away in all six boxes, which he presented to friends, not retaining one
for himself.

[78] In another part of the data upon which these Memoirs are founded,
Grimaldi has the following remarks concerning this gentleman, which, as
he appears to have been anxious that they should obtain publicity, the
Editor subjoins in his own words:--"A great deal has been said about,
and indeed against, Mr. Bunn, since he has become a London manager;
but I have had many opportunities of observing him and his mode of
doing business, and I feel satisfied that he has most liberal notions,
and would if it were in his power amply recompense according to their
talents any _artiste_ employed by him. I beg it may be understood that
in this remark I do not allude in any way to myself; for, putting aside
every consideration of what my talents might have been, my _name_
alone stood so high as to ensure a full house at Birmingham:--I speak
from what I know of his conduct with regard to others; and if ever his
industry meets with the success it deserves, I feel certain that the
liberality of disposition which I have spoken of will be displayed in a
commensurate degree."

[79] The pantomime at Covent Garden Theatre, on December 26, 1821,
was entitled "Harlequin and Mother Bunch; or, The Yellow Dwarf." The
characters were: The King of the Gold Mines, afterwards Harlequin, Mr.
Ellar; Guinea Pig, afterwards Harlequin's lacquey, Mr. J. S. Grimaldi;
Yellow Dwarf, afterwards Clown, Mr. Grimaldi; the Princess Allfair,
afterwards Columbine, Miss E. Dennett; and the Queen of Golconda, a
lady with a ruby nose, afterwards Pantaloon, Mr. Barnes.

Grimaldi, for the benefit of Mr. T. Dibdin, at the Surrey Theatre,
March 26, 1822, played his old part of Squire Bugle, in "Mother
Goose," Ridgway being the Harlequin. On Easter Monday, April 8th,
the melodramatic romance of "Cherry and Fair Star; or, the Children
of Cyprus," was produced at Covent Garden. Fair Star was played by
Miss Foote, now Countess of Harrington; Grimaldi enacted Topac, the
slave of the Greek Captain. This piece for splendour surpassed every
other production at that theatre; the accompaniments were of the first
description, and the looking-glass scene presented a gorgeous effect.

[80] Grimaldi's performances commenced at the Coburg, on Monday,
July 1st, 1822, in a pantomime, comprising a selection of the most
successful scenes from various harlequinades of the last fifteen years,
called "Salmagundi; or, the Clown's Dish of all Sorts!" produced
under Grimaldi's directions. The scenery painted by Stanfield and
his assistants. Harlequin, Mr. Howell; Pantaloon, Mr. Barnes, his
first appearance in that theatre; Lover, Mr. Widdicomb; Clown, Mr.
Grimaldi; Columbine, Madame Le Clercq. This lasted six nights; on
the 8th, the pantomime of "Harlequin and the Three Wishes; or, Puck
and the Black Puddings;" the pantomimists as in the former piece. On
Monday, July 15th, commenced the third week of Grimaldi's engagement,
in a new pantomime called "Disputes in China; or, Harlequin and the
Kong Merchants!" the scenery painted from views taken in China, by
Stanfield. J. S. Grimaldi made his first appearance at the Coburg
this evening. Joe and his son sustained the characters of the two
clowns incidental to the piece. In the scene of the Whampoa river, Joe
affected to astonish John China-man with his song of "Hot Codlins."
The bill of Monday, July 22, was underlined to the effect that, in
consequence of the continuous and dangerous indisposition of Mr.
Grimaldi, the pantomime was unavoidably postponed. Gilderoy, in the
melodrama of that name, was this night played by Mr. J. H. Chapman,
from the Surrey Theatre: it had been previously played by Henry Kemble,
but the irregularities and drunkenness of this man were unpardonable:
he was the instigator of young Joe's follies and misconduct; latterly
they were inseparable, and which was the worst of the two was hard to
be decided. Henry Kemble had been employed to supply Huntley's vacancy,
caused by illness; but he could scarcely be retained a fortnight, and
was dismissed.

On the 29th, Grimaldi was so far recovered that he resumed his part of
Clown in the "Disputes in China." The bills announced his re-appearance
as "positively the last six nights of his performing;" and a further
intimation, which was really a matter of fact:--"It is particularly
recommended to those families who have not witnessed the _inimitable
acting_ of Mr. Grimaldi and his son, Mr. J. S. Grimaldi, that they
should secure places as soon as possible, much disappointment having
been experienced by parties coming late and finding the boxes filled
from the overflowing of the pit." Grimaldi sang on these last six
nights his two most popular songs, "Tippitywitchet" and "Hot Codlins."
His last night was August 3, and concluded the four weeks of his


1823 to 1827.

     His great afflictions augmented by the dissipation and
        recklessness of his Son--He is compelled to retire from Covent
        Garden Theatre, and is succeeded by him--New Speculation at
        Sadler's Wells--Changes in the System of Management, and their
        results--Sir James Scarlett and a blushing Witness.

From the period at which we have now arrived, down to within a year
or so of his death, Grimaldi experienced little or nothing but one
constant succession of afflictions and calamities, the pressure of
which nearly bowed him to the earth; afflictions which it is painful
to contemplate, and a detailed account of which would be neither
instructive nor entertaining. A tale of unmitigated suffering, even
when that suffering be mental, possesses but few attractions for the
reader; but when, as in this case, a large portion of it is physical,
it loses even the few attractions which the former would possess, and
grows absolutely distasteful. Bearing these circumstances in mind, we
shall follow Grimaldi's example in this particular, and study in the
remaining pages of his life to touch as lightly as we can upon the
heavy catalogue of his calamities, and to lay no unnecessary stress
upon this cheerless portion of his existence.

Grimaldi slept at Birmingham the night after his closing performance,
and on the following morning returned to Cheltenham, where he was
attacked by a severe and alarming illness, which for more than a month
confined him to his bed, whence he rose at last a cripple for life.

Independent of these sufferings of the body, he had to encounter
mental afflictions of no ordinary kind. He was devotedly attached to
his son, who was his only child, for whom he had always entertained
the most anxious solicitude, whom he had educated at a great expense,
and upon whom a considerable portion of the earnings of his best days
had been most liberally bestowed. Up to this time he had well repaid
all the care and solicitude of his parents: he had risen gradually in
the estimation of the public, had increased every year in prosperity,
and still remained at home his father's friend and companion. It is
matter of pretty general notoriety that the young man ran a reckless
and vicious course, and in time so shocked and disgusted even those
who were merely brought into contact with him at the theatre for a
few hours in a night, that it was found impossible to continue his

The first notification his father received of his folly and
extravagance was during their stay at Cheltenham, when one morning,
shortly after he had risen from his sick-bed, he was waited upon by
one of the town authorities, who informed him that his son was then
locked up for some drunken freaks committed overnight. He instantly
paid everything that was demanded, and procured his release; but in
some skirmish with the constables he had received a severe blow on the
head from a staff, which, crushing his hat, alighted on the skull and
inflicted a desperate wound. It is supposed that this unfortunate event
disordered his intellects, as from that time, instead of the kind and
affectionate son he had previously been, he became a wild and furious
savage; he was frequently attacked with dreadful fits of epilepsy, and
continually committed actions which nothing but madness could prompt.
In 1828, he had a decided attack of insanity, and was confined in a
strait-waistcoat in his father's house for some time. As no disorder
of mind had appeared in him before, and as his miserable career may be
dated from this time, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the wound
he received at Cheltenham was among the chief causes of his short-lived

They returned to London together, and for the next three months
Grimaldi consulted the most eminent medical men in the hope of
recovering some portion of his lost health and strength. During that
time he suffered an intensity of anxiety which it is difficult to
conceive, as their final decision upon the remotest probability of his
recovery was postponed from day to day. All their efforts were in vain,
however. Towards the end of October, he received a final intimation
that it was useless for him to nourish any hope of recovering the use
of his limbs, and that although nature, assisted by great care on his
part and the watchfulness of his medical attendants, might certainly
alleviate some of his severe pains, his final recovery was next to
impossible, and he must make up his mind to relinquish every thought of
resuming the exercise of his profession.

Among the gentlemen to whose kindness and attention he was greatly
indebted in this stage of his trials, were, Sir Astley Cooper, Sir
Matthew Tierney, Mr. Abernethy, Dr. Farr, Dr. Temple, Dr. Uwins, Dr.
Mitchell, Mr. Thomas and Mr. James Wilson. To all these gentlemen he
was personally unknown; but they all attended him gratuitously, and
earnestly requested him to apply to them without reserve upon every
occasion when it was at all likely that they could be of the slightest

It was with no slight despair that Grimaldi received the announcement
that for the rest of his days he was a cripple, possibly the constant
inmate of a sick-room, and that he had not even a distant prospect of
resuming the occupations to which he had been attached from his cradle,
and from which he was enabled up to this time to realize an annual
income of fifteen hundred pounds: and all this without any private
fortune or resources, with the exception of his shares in Sadler's
Wells Theatre, which had hitherto proved a dead loss. For some hours
after this opinion of his medical men had been communicated to him,
he sat stupified with the heaviness of the calamity, and fell into a
state of extreme mental distress, from which it was a long time before
he was thoroughly roused. As soon as he could begin to exercise his
reason, he recollected that it was a duty he owed his employers to
inform them of his inability to retain his situation at Covent Garden,
the more especially as it was time they made some arrangements for the
ensuing Christmas pantomime. Accordingly he sent a note to the theatre,
acquainting them with his melancholy condition, and the impossibility
of his fulfilling his articles, (which had only been entered into in
the preceding January, and were for three years,) and recommending them
to engage without loss of time some other individual to supply his

The communication was received with much kindness, and many good wishes
for his recovery. After several interviews and much consideration, it
was resolved that his son, J. S. Grimaldi, should be brought out as
principal Clown in the ensuing Christmas pantomime. He appeared, for
the first time[81] in that character, in the pantomime of "Harlequin
and Poor Robin, or the House that Jack built;" and his success was
complete. His father sat in the front of the house on his first
night, and was no less gratified by his reception in public, than by
the congratulations which poured upon him when he went round to the
stage and found everybody delighted with the result of the trial. The
pantomime proved very successful; it had an extended run, and the
proprietors of the theatre, highly satisfied with the young man's
success, with much liberality cancelled his existing articles, which
were for 6_l._ per week, and entered into a new agreement by which they
raised his salary to 8_l._ To Grimaldi, also, they behaved in a most
handsome manner; for although his regular salary was, as a matter of
course, stopped from the day on which he communicated his inability to
perform, they continued to allow him 5_l._ a week for the remainder of
the season; an act of much consideration and kindness on their part,
and a far greater token of their recollection of his services than he
had ever expected to receive.

The three years for which Egerton had taken Sadler's Wells having now
expired, he was requested by the proprietors to state what views he
entertained as to retaining or giving up the property. It being found
impossible to comply with his terms, and a Mr. Williams,[82] who at
that time had the Surrey, having made an offer for the theatre, they
agreed to let it to him for one season. Soon after this agreement was
entered into, Williams called upon Grimaldi one morning upon business,
and in the course of the interview the latter inquired by what plan he
proposed to make both theatres answer.

"Why, Mr. Grimaldi," replied Williams, "if two theatres could be kept
open at the same expense as one, and the company equally--mind, I say
_equally_--good, don't you think it very likely that the speculation
would succeed?"

"Yes, I think it would," rejoined Grimaldi, doubtfully, for as yet he
understood nothing of the manager's drift; "I think it would."

"And so do I," said the other; "and that's the way I mean to manage.
I mean to work the two theatres with one and the same company: I mean
to employ one-half the company in the earlier part of the evening at
Sadler's Wells, and then to transfer them to the Surrey, to finish
there;--at that theatre I shall do precisely the same: and I am now
having carriages built expressly to convey them backwards and forwards."

This system, which has since been tried (without the carriages) at
the two great houses, was actually put in practice. On Easter Monday,
1824, the carriages began to run, and the two seasons commenced. The
speculation turned out as Grimaldi had anticipated--a dead failure:
the lessee lost some money himself, and got greatly into debt with the
proprietors; upon which, fearing to increase their losses, they took
measures to recover possession of the theatre. When they obtained it,
they were obliged to finish the season themselves; by which, as they
had never contemplated such a proceeding, and had made no preparations
for it, they sustained a very considerable loss.

The other occasion, referred to in a previous chapter, that Grimaldi
had the honour of conversing with the Duke of York, was in 1824, when
his Royal Highness took the chair at the Theatrical Fund dinner, and
kindly inquiring after his health, of some one who sat near him,
desired to see him. He was officiating as one of the stewards, but
was of course surprised at the Duke's wish, and immediately presented
himself. He received him with great kindness, and hearing from his own
lips that his infirmities had compelled him to relinquish the exercise
of his profession, said, he was extremely sorry to hear him say so, but
heartily trusted, notwithstanding, that he might recover yet, for his
loss would be a "national calamity." He added, when Grimaldi expressed
his acknowledgments, "I remember your father well: he was a funny man,
and taught me and some of my sisters to dance. If ever I can be of any
service to you, Grimaldi, call upon me freely."

In this year Grimaldi was much troubled by pecuniary matters, and the
conduct of his son. He was living on the few hundred pounds he had put
by, selling out his stock, spending the proceeds, and consequently
rising every morning a poorer man. His son, who had now a good salary
and was rising in his profession, suddenly left his home, and, to the
heart-rending grief of his father and mother, abandoned himself to
every species of wild debauchery and riot. His father wrote to him,
imploring him to return, and offering to make every arrangement that
could conduce to his comfort, but he never answered the letter, and
kept on his headlong course. This shock was a heavy one indeed, and, in
Grimaldi's weak and debilitated state, almost broke his heart.

For four years Grimaldi never saw any more of his son, save
occasionally on the stage of Sadler's Wells, where he was engaged at a
salary of five pounds per week; or when he met him in the street, when
the son would cross over the road to get out of the way. Nor during all
this time did he receive a single line from him, except in 1825. He
had written to the young man, describing the situation to which he was
reduced, and the poverty with which he was threatened, reminding him
that between the two theatres he was now earning thirteen pounds per
week, and requesting his assistance with some pecuniary aid. To this
application he at first returned no reply; but several of Grimaldi's
friends having expressed a very strong opinion to him on the subject,
he at length returned the following note:--

     "Dear Father,--At present I am in difficulties; but as long as I
     have a shilling, you shall have half."

This assurance looked well enough upon paper, but had no other merit;
for he never sent his father a farthing, nor did he again see him (save
that he volunteered his services at two farewell benefits,) until he
came to his door one night in 1828, and hardily claimed shelter and

In 1825 the proprietors of Sadler's Wells resolved to open the theatre
on their joint account, with which view they secured the services
of Mr. T. Dibdin as acting-manager. It was determined at a meeting
of proprietors, that it would be advantageous to the property if
one of their number were resident on the premises to assist Mr.
Dibdin, and regulate the expenditure. As Grimaldi had nothing to do,
it was proposed in the kindest manner by Mr. Jones.[83] one of the
shareholders, that he should fill the situation, at a salary of four
pounds per week. It need scarcely be said that he accepted this
proposal with, great gratitude. They commenced the season with much
spirit, turning the old dwelling-house partly into wine-rooms according
to the old fashion, and partly into a saloon, box-office, and passages.
The dresses of the opening piece were of a gorgeous description,
and every new play was got up with the same magnificence. They also
determined to take half-price, which had never before been done at that
house, and to play the twelve months through, instead of confining the
season to six; this last resolution originating in the immense growth
of the neighbourhood around the theatre, which in Grimaldi's time had
gradually been transformed from a pretty suburban spot into the maze of
streets and squares and closely-clustered houses which it now presents.
These arrangements were all very extensive and speculative; but they
overstepped the bounds of moderation in point of expense, and the
season ended with a loss of 1,400_l._

Next year they pursued a different plan, and reduced their expenditure
in every department. This reduction was superintended by Grimaldi,
and the very first salary he cut down was his own, from which he
struck off at once two pounds per week. They tried pony-races too
in the area attached to the theatre, and, so variable is theatrical
property, cleared a sum equal to their losses of the preceding year,
between Easter and Whitsuntide alone. The following season[84] was
also a successful one, and at length he began to think he should gain
something by the proprietorship.

It was about this time, or rather before, that Grimaldi was
subpoenaed as a witness in an action between two theatrical
gentlemen, of whom Mr. Glossop was one, when his smart parrying of a
remark from a counsel engaged in the case occasioned much laughter in

On his name being called, and his appearing in the witness-box, there
was some movement in the court, which was very crowded, the people
being anxious to catch a sight of a witness whose name was so familiar.
Sir James Scarlett,[85] who was to examine him, rose as he made his
appearance, and, looking at him with great real or apparent interest,
said, "Dear me! Pray, sir, are you the great Mr. Grimaldi, formerly of
Covent Garden Theatre?"

The witness felt greatly confused at this inquiry, especially as
it seemed to excite to a still higher pitch the curiosity of the
spectators. He reddened slightly, and replied, "I used to be a
pantomime actor, sir, at Covent Garden Theatre."

"Yes," said Sir James Scarlett, "I recollect you well. You are a very
clever man, sir." He paused for a few seconds, and, looking up in his
face, said,

"And so you really are Grimaldi, are you?"

This was more embarrassing than the other question, and Grimaldi
feeling it so, fidgetted about in the box, and grew redder and redder.

"Don't blush, Mr. Grimaldi, pray don't blush; there is not the least
occasion for blushing," said Sir James Scarlett.

"I don't blush, sir," rejoined the witness.

"I assure you, you need not blush so."

"I beg your pardon, sir, I really am not blushing," repeated the
witness, who beginning to grow angry, repeated it with so red a face,
that the spectators tittered aloud.

"I assure you, Mr. Grimaldi," said Sir James Scarlett, smiling, "that
you _are_ blushing violently."

"I beg your pardon, sir," replied Grimaldi, "but you are really quite
mistaken. The flush which you observe on my face is a _Scarlet_ one, I
admit; but I assure you that it is nothing more than a reflection from
your own."

The people in the court shouted with laughter, and Sir James Scarlett
joining in their mirth, proceeded without further remark with the
business of the case.


[81] On Friday, December 26, 1823.

[82] Son of the proprietor of the well-known "Boiled Beef House" in the
Old Bailey.

[83] Mr. Jones married Mr. Reeve's only daughter, and thus became
possessed of the share in the Sadler's Wells Theatre that had been
purchased by that eminent musician.

[84] Young Joe had a benefit this season, on September 21, 1826, when
Planché's melodrama, entitled, "The Caliph and the Cadi," was revived,
and in order to introduce both father and son, a new scene and a duet
were written by Mr. Dibdin at Grimaldi's desire; their appearance in
the same piece produced considerable effect.

[85] Afterwards Lord Abinger.



     Great kindness of Miss Kelly towards Grimaldi--His farewell
        benefit at Sadler's Wells; last appearance and farewell
        address--He makes preparations for one more appearance at
        Covent Garden, but, in a conversation with Mr. Charles Kemble,
        meets with a disappointment--In consequence of Lord Segrave's
        benevolent interference, a benefit is arranged for him at Drury
        Lane--His last interview with Mr. Charles Kemble and Fawcett.

In February, 1828, a very highly-esteemed and kind friend to Grimaldi,
and an actress of deserved popularity, whose wonderful talents have
gained for her universal praise and an ample fortune, and whose
performances have been for many years the delight and admiration of the
public--Miss Kelly,--called at his house to inquire after his health,
and to ascertain whether it was probable that he would ever again be
enabled to appear upon the stage. He replied, with natural emotion,
that he could no longer dare even to hope that he should ever act more.

"Then," asked Miss Kelly, "why not take a farewell benefit? I dare say
you are not so rich as to despise the proceeds of such an undertaking."

Grimaldi shook his head, and replying he was much poorer than anybody
supposed, proceeded to lay before her his exact position, not
omitting to point out, that whenever Sadler's Wells was again let by
the proprietors, he would certainly lose his situation, and thus be
deprived of his sole dependence. As to taking a benefit, he said, he
felt so ill and depressed, that he could not venture to undergo the
labour of getting one up, far less would his pecuniary means warrant
his incurring the chance of a loss.

"Leave it all to me," said Miss Kelly, "and I'll arrange pretty nearly
everything for you without a moment's loss of time. There must be
two benefits, one at Sadler's Wells, and the other at Covent Garden.
The former benefit must take place first, so you go and consult
the proprietors upon the subject at once, and I'll lose no time in
furthering your interests elsewhere."

The promptitude and decision which Miss Kelly so kindly evinced,
infused something of a similar spirit into the invalid. He promised
that he would see the proprietors immediately; and, in spite of a
severe attack of spasms, which almost deprived him of speech, went
that same night to Sadler's Wells, and stated his intention to take
a farewell benefit. He was received with the greatest friendship
and liberality: they at once entered into his views, and gave an
unanswerable proof of the sincerity with which they did so, by
offering him the use of the house gratuitously. Monday, March the
17th, was fixed for the occasion; and no sooner was it known decidedly
when the benefit was to take place, than Mr. T. Dibdin, assembling
the company, acquainted them with the circumstance, and suggested
that their offering to play gratuitously would be both a well-timed
compliment and a real assistance. The hint was no sooner given than it
was most cheerfully responded to: the performers immediately proffered
their services, the band did the same, and every person in the theatre
was anxious and eager to render every assistance in his or her power,
and to "put their shoulders to the wheel, in behalf of poor old Joe."

The following is a copy of the bill of performance put forth on this

          "S A D L E R'S  W E L L S,
             MR. GRIMALDI'S NIGHT,
     And Last Appearance at this Theatre.
            Monday, March 17, 1828.

     "It is most respectfully announced that Mr. Grimaldi, from severe
     and incessant indisposition, which has oppressed him upwards of
     four years, and continues without any hope of amelioration, finds
     himself compelled to quit the profession in which, from almost
     infancy, he has been honoured with as great a share of patronage
     and indulgence as ever fell to the lot of any candidate for public
     favour. Nor can he quit a theatre where his labours commenced,
     and were for so many years sanctioned, without attempting the
     honour of personally expressing his gratitude; and however
     inadequate he may prove to paint the sincerity of his feelings,
     it is his intention to offer an address of thanks to his friends
     and patrons, and conclude his services with the painful duty of
     bidding them


     "The entertainments will commence with the successful romance
     of 'Sixes, or the Fiend;' Hock, (a drunken prisoner,) by Mr.
     Grimaldi. After which, the favourite burletta of 'Humphrey
     Clinker;' to which will be added the popular farce of 'Wives and
     Partners;' and the whole to conclude with a grand Masquerade
     on the stage, in the course of which several novelties will be
     presented: Mr. Blackmore on the _corde volante_; Mr. Walbourn's
     dance as 'Dusty Bob;' Mr. Campbell's song of 'Bound 'Prentice to a
     Waterman;' Mrs. Searle's skipping-rope dance; Mr. Payne's juggling
     evolutions; and the celebrated dance between Mr. J. S. Grimaldi
     and Mr. Ellar. After which, Mr. Grimaldi will deliver his farewell
     address: and the whole will conclude with a brilliant display of
     fireworks, expressive of


The house was crowded to suffocation on the night. He performed the
trifling part for which he had been announced in the first piece, with
considerable difficulty, but immense approbation, and in the stage of
the performances in which it was announced in the bills of the day,
came forward to deliver his Farewell Address, which ran thus:--

"Ladies and Gentlemen,--I appear before you this evening for the
last time at this theatre. Doubtless, there are many persons present
who think that I am a very aged man: I have now an opportunity of
convincing them to the contrary. I was born on the 18th of December,
1779,[86] and, consequently, on the 18th of last December attained, the
age of forty-eight.

"At a very early age--before that of three years,[87] I was introduced
to the public by my father at this theatre; and ever since that
period have I held a situation in this establishment. Yes, ladies and
gentlemen, I have been engaged at this theatre for five-and-forty years.

"By strict attention, perseverance, and exertion, did I arrive at the
height of my profession, and, proud I am to acknowledge, have ofttimes
been honoured with your smiles, approbation, and support. It is now
three years since I have taken a regular engagement, owing to extreme
and dangerous indisposition: with patience have I waited in hopes my
health might once more be re-established, and I again meet your smiles
as before;--but, I regret to say, there is little, or, in fact, no
improvement perceivable, and it would therefore now be folly in me ever
to think of again returning to my professional duties. I could not,
however, leave this theatre without returning my grateful thanks to
my friends and patrons, and the public; and now do I venture to offer
them, secure in the conviction that they will not be slighted or deemed
utterly unworthy of acceptance.

"To the proprietors of this theatre, the performers, the gentlemen of
the band--in fact, to every individual connected with it, I likewise
owe and offer my sincere thanks for their assistance this evening. And
now, ladies and gentlemen, it only remains for me to utter one dreadful
word, ere I depart--Farewell!--God bless you all! may you and your
families ever enjoy the blessings of health and happiness!--Farewell!"

He was received and listened to in the kindest and most encouraging
manner; but his spirits met with so severe a shock in bidding a formal
farewell to his friends, that he did not entirely recover from the
effects of it for some days, and so completely dreaded going through a
similar ordeal at Covent Garden, that had not Miss Kelly kept him firm
to the task, he would have abandoned his intention with regard to the
latter place altogether.

The receipts of this benefit were 230_l._; but he received a great
number of anonymous letters, containing remittances, which amounted
in the whole to 85_l._ more; so that he cleared by the night's
performance, a total of 315_l._, which was a well-timed and most
fortunate assistance to him.

Some short time after this evening, Mr. T. Dibdin left Sadler's Wells.
He was succeeded in the capacity of stage-manager by Mr. Campbell, who
retained the situation with credit to himself and satisfaction to the
proprietors for several years: remaining in it, in fact, until the
establishment was again let.

On the 25th of March, being a little recovered, and having at last
made up his mind to take the second benefit, Grimaldi walked to Covent
Garden, and having been warmly welcomed by the performers, went to Mr.
Charles Kemble's room, and was received by him in the most friendly

"Well, Joe," said he, "I hope you have come to say that you feel able
to be with us again?"

"Indeed, my dear sir, it is unfortunately quite the reverse; for I am
come to tell you that I never shall act more."

"I am very sorry to hear you say so, Joe; I have been in hopes it would
be otherwise," returned Mr. Kemble.

"We have known each other a good many years, sir," said Grimaldi.

"We have indeed, Joe,--many years!"

"And I think, sir," continued Grimaldi, "that if it were in your power,
you would willingly serve me?"

"Try me, Joe, try me!"

He then stated his intention of taking a farewell benefit at Covent
Garden, and requested Mr. Kemble's assistance in obtaining the use of
the house, if possible, at a low price; but if not, then upon the usual

Mr. Kemble listened until he had finished, and said, "My dear Joe,
I perfectly understand you; and if the theatre were solely mine, I
should say, 'Take it--'tis yours, and without charge at all:' but,
unfortunately, our theatre is in Chancery, and nothing can be done
without the consent of others. However, Joe, the proprietors meet every
Tuesday, and I will mention it to them. So after Tuesday you shall hear
from me."

He thanked Mr. Kemble, and they parted. He awaited the arrival of the
day fixed in great anxiety; but it came and passed, and so did another
Tuesday, and several more days, without any intelligence arriving to
relieve his suspense. Seeing it announced in the papers that Mr. Kemble
was about to proceed to Edinburgh, to act there, he wrote a note to
him, reminding him of what had passed between them, and requesting
a reply. This was on the 13th of April. In the evening of the same
day he received an answer, not from Mr. Kemble himself, but from Mr.
Robertson, the respected treasurer of the theatre, which ran thus:

     "Dear Sir,

     "I am directed by the proprietors of this theatre to acquaint you,
     in reply to your application relative to a benefit, that they
     much regret that the present situation of the theatre with regard
     to Chancery proceedings will prevent the possibility of their
     accommodating your wishes."

The contents of this letter, of course, greatly disappointed and vexed
Grimaldi, who, remembering the number of years he had been connected
with the theatre, and the great favourite he had been with the public,
could not help deeming it somewhat harsh and unkind conduct on the part
of the proprietors to refuse him the house for one night, for which, of
course, he would have paid.

Mr. Price was the lessee of Drury Lane at this time, and once or twice
Grimaldi thought of applying to him, but fearing it would be useless,
dismissed the idea. In this state of indecision two or three weeks
passed away, when one day he received a note from Mr. Dunn, the Drury
Lane treasurer, requesting him to attend at the theatre at twelve
o'clock next day, as Mr. Price wished to see him. On complying with
this very unexpected invitation, he was informed by Mr. Dunn, that
the lessee had been compelled to meet another party on business, and
therefore could not wait to see him; but that he was deputed to say,
that he had been apprised of Grimaldi's wish to take a benefit, and
that the theatre was at his service for the evening of Friday, June
27th, 1828, the last night but one of the season. "That," added Mr.
Dunn, "is unfortunately the only evening we can offer you. Had Mr.
Price known earlier of your wishes, you would have had an extended
choice of nights, and he would have felt happy in obliging so
distinguished a veteran."

Much delighted with this politeness and consideration, he gratefully
accepted the theatre for the night mentioned. He was much puzzled at
the time to think who could have mentioned the circumstance to Mr.
Price, and befriended him so greatly; on mature consideration, however,
he had little doubt that it was Lord Segrave to whom he was obliged,
for when he told Miss Kelly that he had been offered Drury Lane, she
remembered Lord Segrave having expressed great surprise when she told
him he had been refused Covent Garden, and his having added, that "he
should see Price shortly."

Every assistance that could be afforded him in arranging his benefit
was cheerfully rendered. To three gentlemen in particular, for the
valuable and cordial aid they rendered to the indefatigable exertions
of Miss Kelly, he was under deep and lasting obligations. These were,
Mr. James Wallack, Mr. W. Barrymore, and Mr. Peake, scarcely less a
favourite with the public than with the members of the profession, to
the literature of which his abilities and humour have been long and
successfully devoted.

About the middle of June, hearing that Mr. Charles Kemble had returned
from the North, Grimaldi resolved to call upon him, and to thank him
for the exertions which he felt assured he had made relative to his
benefit. He had another object in view,--which was, to apprise him
that he had entered into engagements of a satisfactory nature at
Drury Lane; which intelligence he hoped would afford him unmitigated
satisfaction, after the strong desire he had always expressed for his

Mr. Charles Kemble was alone when Grimaldi was shown up to his room: he
said, that having recently heard Mr. Kemble had returned from Scotland,
he had determined to lose no time in calling to thank him for the
exertions which he had no doubt he had made to enable him to take a
benefit at Covent Garden. Although his kindness was unavailing, he was
anxious to assure him that he perfectly appreciated it. He then went on
to say, that Mr. Price had in the handsomest manner offered the use of
Drury Lane Theatre, at which he was to take a benefit on the 27th; and
that he had every reason to believe, from the interest which was making
for him, that it would be a very great one.

Mr. Kemble was evidently surprised to hear this, and instead of
manifesting the gratification which Grimaldi had expected, evinced
feelings of a directly opposite nature. At length he exclaimed; "Take a
benefit at Drury Lane!"

"Yes, sir," replied Grimaldi; "and knowing that you feel a great
interest in my success, I have called upon you to thank you for all
your past kindness, and to inform you what I intend doing on my
farewell night."

With these words, he placed in Mr. Kemble's hands an announce-bill,
of which we subjoin a copy. These bills were afterwards recalled, for
reasons which will presently appear.

     "On Friday, June 27, 1828.

     "It is respectfully announced, that Mr. Grimaldi, after more
     than four years of severe and unremitting indisposition, which
     continues without hope of alleviation, is compelled, finally,
     to relinquish a profession in which, from infancy, he has been
     honoured with as liberal a share of public patronage as ever has
     been accorded to candidates of much higher pretensions.

     "Numerous patrons having expressed surprise that Mr. Grimaldi's
     benefit did not take place at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden,
     he takes the liberty of stating, that after bidding farewell
     to his friends and supporters at Sadler's Wells (the scene of
     his favoured exertions from the early age of three years), he
     applied to the present directors of Covent Garden Theatre, who,
     in the kindest manner, expressed their regret that the well-known
     situation of the theatre precluded the possibility of indulging
     their strong inclination to comply with the request he had
     ventured to prefer. On transferring the application to Mr. Price,
     the lessee of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Mr. Grimaldi has
     the pleasure to say, that it was acceded to with a celerity
     which enhanced the obligation, and demands his most sincere

     "Mr. Grimaldi made his first appearance[88] at the Theatre Royal,
     Drury Lane, where he continued twenty-four years, and, but for a
     very trifling misunderstanding, might have retained his engagement
     to the present time: it is, however, most grateful to his feelings
     to finish his public labours on the spot where they commenced,
     and where for nearly a quarter of a century his exertions
     were fostered by public indulgence, and stimulated by public

     "To many anxious friends who, from a genuine spirit of good-will,
     have inquired the cause why, during so long a period of
     professional exertion, Mr. Grimaldi has not been able to realize a
     competency that might have precluded the necessity of this appeal,
     he can only plead the expenses attendant on infirmities, produced
     by exhausting and laborious duties, the destructive burthen of
     which were felt some years before he finally yielded to their
     pressure, and which at length compelled him to relax his exertions
     at the period when ability to continue them would have insured him
     a comfortable independence. However inadequate he may prove to the
     painful yet pleasing endeavour to express personally his gratitude
     on the night of his retreat, it is his intention to offer an
     address of thanks, in which, though mere words may not be equal
     to paint the depth and sincerity of his feelings, he will hope to
     gain credit for the heartfelt sensation of dutiful respect which
     accompanies his last farewell."

Mr. Kemble read the bill through very attentively, and laid it gently
upon the table without saying a word, but still looking very much
displeased. Grimaldi, not knowing very well what to say, remained
silent, and nothing was said for a minute or two, when Fawcett entered
the room.

"Here, Fawcett," said Mr. Kemble, "here's a bill for you: read that."

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_Live Properties._]

Fawcett read it in profound silence, and when he had done so, looked as
if he could not at all understand what was going forward, or what he
ought to do. At length he asked what he was to infer from it, and Mr.
Kemble was about to reply, when Grimaldi interrupted him.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said, "but if Mr. Fawcett is to be
appealed to in this business, it is but just that, before he expresses
any opinion upon it, he should understand all the circumstances."

With this, he proceeded to detail them as briefly as he could. When he
had finished, Mr. Kemble said, with an air of great vexation, "Why did
you not say, that if you could not take a benefit here, you would do so
at the other house! I declare you should have had a night for nothing,
sooner than you should have gone there."

Although this remark was very unexpected, Grimaldi made no further
reply than that he had never thought of applying to Mr. Price, but that
that gentleman, he presumed at the solicitation of some unknown friend,
had made an offer to him; he then begged Mr. Fawcett, as he now knew
all, to express his opinion upon the matter.

"Why, really," said that gentleman, "had I been situated as Grimaldi
has been, I should certainly have acted as he has done. If one theatre
could not accommodate me and another could, I should feel no hesitation
in accepting an offer from the latter. However," added Mr. Fawcett,
after this very manly and straightforward avowal, "I think it would
be best, Grimaldi, and I hope you will take my advice, not to send
out this bill. It might be deemed offensive, and cannot, as I see, be
productive of any good whatever."

Grimaldi thanked him, and expressed his intention of acting upon his
opinion. Addressing Mr. Kemble, he said, that from what had just
before fallen from him, it appeared that if he had thought proper,
he (Grimaldi) might have had Covent Garden for his benefit, even
gratuitously; but that presuming he had not the power of taking a
benefit at Drury Lane, he had refused him, which was not the conduct of
a friend, and was very unlike the treatment he had expected to receive.
He then left the room, and never saw either gentleman again.

Upon cool reflection he was inclined to consider that Mr. Kemble had
some private and very good reasons, arising out of the management of
the theatre, for acting as he had done, which there is little doubt was
the case, as he could have neither had the intention nor the wish to
injure a man whom he invariably treated with kindness and courtesy.

The stage has now lost the services of both these gentlemen. Poor
Fawcett died some time since, and Mr. Charles Kemble has retired from
the boards of which he was so long, both from his public and private
character, a shining ornament.


[86] He was born December 18, 1778.

[87] At Easter, 1781. Joe was then but two years and four months old.

[88] Joe's assertion that "he made his first appearance at Drury
Lane, where he continued twenty-four years," is very questionable;
he, in fact, said the contrary in his farewell address at Sadler's
Wells, at which theatre it is positive he appeared at Easter, 1781.
Sheridan's "Robinson Crusoe" was produced in January of that year, and
twenty-four years would carry the time on to January, 1805, but his
last performance at Drury Lane was on November 9th in that year, and
admitting the generally received belief of his _début_ "in Robinson
Crusoe," his continuing at Drury Lane would have been twenty-five
years, not twenty-four.

[89] To his old associate, Norman, the Pantaloon, Grimaldi, in a
letter dated April 23, 1829, writes,--"I suppose you know I have taken
my farewell of the public, both at the Wells and, lastly, at Drury
Lane, they having refused me at Covent Garden--so much for my long and
faithful services. Oh! my poor old master, Mr. Harris; God bless him!
had he been still in possession, I should not have asked such a favour
a second time. I am now quite a retired gentleman, having only the
Wells to look after, and that is of so trifling a nature, it does not
put me the least out of my way."


1828 to 1836.

     The farewell benefit at Drury Lane--Grimaldi's last appearance and
        parting address--The Drury Lane Theatrical Fund, and its prompt
        reply to his communication--Miserable career and death of his
        son--His wife dies, and he returns from Woolwich (whither he
        had previously removed) to London--His retirement.

The three gentlemen who were mentioned in conjunction with Miss
Kelly, in the course of the last chapter, exerted themselves with so
much energy, that Grimaldi's benefit far exceeded his most sanguine
expectations. In addition to the most effective company of the theatre,
were secured the services of Miss Kelly, and Madam Fearon;[90] Miss
Fanny Ayton, Miss Love,[91] Mathews, Keeley, and Bartley, besides an
immense number of pantomime performers, who crowded to offer their
aid, and among whom were--Barnes, Southby, Ridgway and his two sons,
and young Grimaldi. Mr. James Wallack arranged everything, and exerted
himself as much as he could have done if the night had been his own.
The announced bill ran thus:--

                  _On Friday, June 27th, 1828_,
                        will be performed,
               J O N A T H A N  I N  E N G L A N D;
                            after which
                 A  M U S I C A L  M E L A N G E.
                        To be succeeded by
                 T H E  A D O P T E D  C H I L D,
                        and concluded with
                   H A R L E Q U I N  H O A X,
In which Mr. Grimaldi will act clown in one scene, sing a song, and
                             speak his
                         FAREWELL ADDRESS.

[Illustration: George Cruikshank

_The last Song._]

It was greatly in favour of the benefit, that Covent Garden had closed
the night before; the pit and galleries were completely filled in less
than half an hour after opening the doors, the boxes were very good
from the first, and at half-price were as crowded as the other parts
of the house. In the last piece Grimaldi acted one scene, but being
wholly unable to stand, went through it seated upon a chair. Even in
this distressing condition he retained enough of his old humour to
succeed in calling down repeated shouts of merriment and laughter.
The song, too, in theatrical language, "went" as well as ever; and at
length, when the pantomime approached its termination, he made his
appearance before the audience in his private dress, amidst thunders
of applause. As soon as silence could be obtained, and he could muster
up sufficient courage to speak, he advanced to the foot-lights, and
delivered, as well as his emotions would permit, the following Farewell

     "Ladies and Gentlemen:--In putting off the clown's garment, allow
     me to drop also the clown's taciturnity, and address you in a
     few parting sentences. I entered early on this course of life,
     and leave it prematurely. Eight-and-forty years only have passed
     over my head--but I am going as fast down the hill of life as
     that older Joe--John Anderson. Like vaulting ambition, I have
     overleaped myself, and pay the penalty in an advanced old age.
     If I have now any aptitude for tumbling, it is through bodily
     infirmity, for I am worse on my feet than I used to be on my head.
     It is four years since I jumped my last jump--filched my last
     oyster--boiled my last sausage--and set in for retirement. Not
     quite so well provided for, I must acknowledge, as in the days of
     my clownship, for then, I dare say, some of you remember, I used
     to have a fowl in one pocket and sauce for it in the other.

     "To-night has seen me assume the motley for a short time--it
     clung to my skin as I took it off, and the old cap and bells rang
     mournfully as I quitted them for ever.

     "With the same respectful feelings as ever do I find myself in
     your presence--in the presence of my last audience--this kindly
     assemblage so happily contradicting the adage that a favourite has
     no friends. For the benevolence that brought you hither--accept,
     ladies and gentlemen, my warmest and most grateful thanks, and
     believe, that of one and all, Joseph Grimaldi takes a double
     leave, with a farewell on his lips, and a tear in his eyes.

     "Farewell! That you and yours may ever enjoy that greatest earthly
     good--health, is the sincere wish of your faithful and obliged
     servant. God bless you all!"

It was with no trifling difficulty that Grimaldi reached the conclusion
of this little speech, although the audience cheered loudly, and gave
him every possible expression of encouragement and sympathy. When
he had finished, he still stood in the same place, bewildered and
motionless, his feelings being so greatly excited, that the little
power illness had left wholly deserted him. In this condition he
stood for a minute or two, when Mr. Harley, who was at the side scene,
commiserating his emotion, kindly advanced and led him off the stage,
assisted by his son. As a token of his respect and gratitude, Grimaldi
took off a new wig which he wore on the occasion, and presented it
to Mr. Harley, together with the original address, which he held in
his hand. Our friend has them both, carefully preserved in a small
museum of wigs, autographs, portraits, and other memorials of the most
distinguished men in every branch of the profession, of which for
upwards of twenty-eight years he has been deservedly one of the most
popular members.

Having been led into a private room, and strengthened with a couple of
glasses of Madeira, Grimaldi had to sustain another, and a scarcely
less severe trial, in receiving the farewells and good wishes of his
old associates. The street was thronged with people, who were waiting
to see him come out, and as he entered the coach, which stood at the
stage door, gave him three hearty cheers, amid which he drove off.
But all was not over yet, for hundreds followed the vehicle until it
reached his house, and upon getting out he was again hailed with a
similar overwhelming shout of approbation and regard; nor could the
crowd be prevailed upon to disperse until he had appeared on the top of
the steps, and made his farewell bow.

Grimaldi was too exhausted and nervous, after the trying scenes through
which he had just passed, to make any calculation that night of what
the benefit had produced; but the next day, being somewhat recovered,
he entered into the matter, and found the result to be as follows:--The
house cost him 210_l._, the printing 70_l._ more, making the expenses
280_l._ The money taken at the doors amounted to rather more than
400_l._, besides which he sold 150_l._ worth of tickets, making a total
of 550_l._ Deducting the expenses, the clear profits of the benefit
amounted to 270_l._

There was another source of great profit, which must not be forgotten,
namely, the number of anonymous communications Grimaldi received,
enclosing sums of money, and wishing him a happy retirement. He
received six letters, each containing 20_l._, eleven containing
10_l._, and sixteen containing 5_l._ each. Thus, the amount forwarded
by unknown hands was no less than 310_l._, which, added to the amount
of profits just mentioned, makes the gross sum realized by this last
benefit 580_l._, besides the 315_l._ which he had cleared at Sadler's

The highest tribute that can be paid to those who in secret forwarded
their munificent donations, or to those who rendered him their valuable
professional assistance, or to that large number who came forward
to cheer the last public moments of a man who had so often, and so
successfully, beguiled their leisure hours, is, that they smoothed
the hard bed of premature and crippled old age, and rendered the slow
decline of a life, scarcely in years past its prime, peaceful and
contented. This benefit closed his theatrical existence, and filled
his heart with deep and lasting emotions of gratitude.

Only one more circumstance connected with Grimaldi's theatrical
existence remains to be told, and to that one we most anxiously and
emphatically invite the attention of all who admire the drama--and what
man of thought or feeling does not?--of all those who devote themselves
to the cause of real charity--and of all those who now, reaping large
gains from the exercise of a glittering and dazzling profession, forget
that youth and strength will not last for ever, and that the more
intoxicating their triumphs now, the more probable is the advent of a
time of adversity and decay.

Counting over his gains, and dwelling upon his helpless state, Grimaldi
was not long in finding that even now, whenever his little salary
at Sadler's Wells should cease, he would not have adequate means of
support. There was only one source to which he could apply for relief,
and to that source he at once turned.

It is well known to all our readers, that two charitable societies
exist in London, called the Drury Lane and Covent Garden Theatrical
Funds. They are distinct bodies, but were established with the same
great and benevolent object. Every actor who, throughout his engagement
at either of the large theatres, contributes a certain portion of his
earnings to one of these funds, is entitled, if he should ever be
reduced to the necessity of seeking it, to an annuity in proportion to
the time for which he has contributed. To one of these most excellent
institutions,--the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund,--Grimaldi had belonged
for more than thirty years, promoting its interests not merely by his
subscription, but by every means in his power. Feeling that in his hour
of need and distress he had some claim upon its funds, he addressed
the secretary, and stated the situation to which he was reduced. Early
on the following morning he was visited by the gentleman to whom he
had applied, who informed him that he was awarded a pension of 100_l._
a-year for the remainder of his life, and that he was deputed to
pay him immediately the amount of one quarter in advance. His fears
vanished at once, and he felt that want at all events could never be
his portion.[92]

It can be observed at no better place than this, that all applications
for relief from these funds are known only to the respective
committees, and that the names of all annuitants are kept strictly
secret during their lives; that the distribution of their property
is confided to gentlemen accustomed to act with the utmost delicacy
and discrimination, and that some of the greatest ornaments of the
English stage have been relieved in their old age, when their powers of
amusing and delighting were gone,--not as poor pensioners, or objects
of compassion, but as persons who, not forgetting their poor brethren
in their affluence, were not themselves forgotten, when unexpected
misfortune or sickness fell upon them.

The unfortunate young man to whom allusion has been frequently made in
the course of the last few pages, was, as may easily be imagined, one
of the chief sources of Grimaldi's care and trouble in his latter days.
After remaining in his house for two months in a state of madness,
he grew better, left one night to attend Sadler's Wells, where he
was engaged, and was seen no more until the middle of the following
year, when he again presented himself in a state of insanity, and was
conveyed to his own lodgings and carefully attended. The next year he
was dismissed from Sadler's Wells on account of his dissolute conduct;
engaged at Drury Lane with a salary of eight pounds per week, most
favourably received, and discharged at the end of the first season for
his profligacy and drunkenness.

After this, he obtained an engagement for a month at the Pavilion in
Whitechapel Road, but left that theatre also in disgrace, and fell into
the lowest state of wretchedness and poverty. His dress had fallen to
rags, his feet were thrust into two worn-out slippers, his face was
pale with disease, and squalid with dirt and want, and he was steeped
in degradation. The man who might have earned with ease, with comfort,
and respectability, from six to seven hundred pounds a year, and have
raised himself to far greater gains by common providence and care, was
reduced to such a dreadful state of destitution and filth, that even
his own parents could scarcely recognise him.

He was again received, and again found a home with his sick father. At
Christmas, 1829, he obtained a situation at the Coburg, through the
kindness of Davidge, and there he remained until Easter, 1830, when
he took the benefit of the Insolvent Debtors' Act, to relieve himself
from the creditors who were hunting him down. His support in prison and
contingent expenses, amounting to forty pounds, were all paid by his

He next accepted an engagement at Edinburgh, which turned out a
failure; and another at Manchester, at Christmas, 1830, by which he
gained a few pounds. He then returned to the Coburg, where he might
have almost permanently remained, but for his own misconduct, which
once again cast him on the world.

In the following autumn, the son again presented himself at his
father's door, reduced to a state of beggary and want not to be
described. His mother, who had suffered greatly from his misdeeds,
outrageous conduct, and gross and violent abuse, besought his father
not to receive him, or aid him again, remembering how much he had
already wasted the small remnant of his means only to minister to his
extravagance and folly. But he could not witness his helpless and
miserable state without compassion, and he was once more forgiven, once
more became an inmate of the house, and remained there in a state of
utter dependence.

In 1832, Sadler's Wells was let out for one season to Mrs. Fitzwilliam
and Mr. W. H. Williams. They retained Grimaldi for some little
time, but finding that he must be dismissed very shortly, he made
preparations for meeting the consequent reduction of his income, by
giving up the house in which he had lived for several years, and taking
a cottage at Woolwich,[93] whither he had an additional inducement to
retire, in the hope that change of air might prove beneficial to his
wife, who had already been ill for some time.

They repaired to their new house in the latter end of September, and
in the beginning of November the son received a letter from a brother
actor, entreating him to perform for a benefit, at Sadler's Wells. His
reception was so cordial and his acting so good, that on the very same
evening, notwithstanding all that had previously passed, he was offered
an engagement for the ensuing Christmas at the Coburg, and the next
day, on his return to Woolwich, he communicated the intelligence. The
following day was his birth-day--he completed his thirtieth year that
morning--and before it had passed over, the then lessee of the Queen's
Theatre waited upon him, and offered him an engagement for a short time
at a weekly salary of 4_l._ He agreed to take it, and arranged to begin
on the following Monday, November 25, in a part called Black Cæsar.

It was sorely against his father's will that he went to fulfil this
engagement, for his health had been waning for some time, and he was
fearful that he might relapse into his old habits. However, he was
determined to go, and borrowing some money of his father, as was his
usual wont, he left Woolwich on the Sunday morning.

On the Wednesday, Grimaldi had occasion to go to town, and eagerly
embraced it as an opportunity for seeing his son, to whom, despite all
the anxiety and losses he had caused him, he was still most tenderly
attached. He wrote to him, naming the friend's house at which he would
be found, and the young man came. He looked in excellent health--was
in high spirits, and boasted of his success in terms which from all
accounts, it appeared, were justified by its extent. Shortly after
dinner he left, observing, that as he had to appear in the first scene
of the first piece, he had no time to lose. His father never saw him

Grimaldi returned to Woolwich next day, and anxiously hoped on Sunday
to see the misguided man to dinner, agreeably to a promise he had made.
The day passed away, but he did not come; a few more days elapsed,
and then he received an intimation from a stranger that his son was
ill. He immediately wrote to a friend, (Mr. Glendinning the printer,)
requesting him to ascertain the nature of his indisposition, which he
feared was only the effect of some new intemperance, and if it should
appear necessary, to procure him medical assistance. For two days he
heard nothing; but this did not alarm him, for he entertained no doubt
that his son's illness would disappear when the fumes of the liquor he
had drunk had evaporated.

On the 11th of December, a friend came to his house as he was sitting
by his wife's bed, to which she was confined by illness, and when, with
much difficulty, he had descended to the parlour, told him with great
care and delicacy that his son was dead.

In one instant every feeling of decrepitude or bodily weakness left
him; his limbs recovered their original vigour; all his lassitude and
debility vanished; a difficulty of breathing, under which he had long
laboured, disappeared, and starting from his seat, he rushed to his
wife's chamber, tearing, without the least difficulty, up a flight
of stairs, which, a quarter of an hour before, it had taken him ten
minutes to climb. He hurried to her bed-side, told her that her son was
dead, heard her first passionate exclamation of grief, and falling into
a chair, was once again an enfeebled and crippled old man.

The remains of the young man were interred, a few days afterwards, in
the burial-ground of Whitfield's Tabernacle, in Tottenham-court-road;
but some circumstances, apparently of a suspicious nature, being
afterwards rumoured about, and it being whispered that marks of blows
had been seen upon his head by those who laid him out, an inquest was
holden upon the young man's body. Grimaldi states that the body was
exhumed: from some passages in the newspapers of the day, it would
appear that an informal inquest was held, and that the body was not
disinterred. Be this as it may, it was proved before the coroner that
his death had arisen from the natural consequences of a mis-spent life;
that his body was covered with a fearful inflammation, and that he had
died in a state of wild and furious madness, rising from his bed and
dressing himself in stage costume to act snatches of the parts to which
he had been most accustomed, and requiring to be held down to die, by
strong manual force. This closing scene of his life took place at a
public house in Pitt-street, Tottenham-court-road, and here the dismal
tragedy ended.

It was long before Grimaldi in any degree recovered this great shock;
his wife never did. She lingered on in a state of great suffering for
two years afterwards, until death happily relieved her.

He was now left alone in the world; he had always been a domesticated
man, delighting in nothing more than in the society of his relations
and friends; and the condition of solitary desolation in which he was
now left, nearly drove him into a state of melancholy madness. His
crippled limbs and broken bodily health rendered it necessary to his
existence that he should have an attentive nurse, and occasionally at
least cheerful society; finding his situation wholly insupportable,
he resolved to return to town, and wrote to a friend,[94] whose wife
was his only remaining relative, to procure a small house for
him in his own neighbourhood, where he too had lived so long and
happily. A neat little dwelling, next door to this friend's house, in
Southampton-street, Pentonville, being at that time to let, was taken
and furnished for him, and thither he removed without more delay.
Many of his old friends came from time to time to cheer him with a
few minutes' conversation, and he experienced the warmest and kindest
treatment from his neighbours, and from Mr. Richard Hughes, who bore in
mind his promise to his dying sister, to the last moment of Grimaldi's

He concludes his Memoirs by taking a more cheerful view of his
condition than could well have been expected of a man suffering so
much, and ends in these words:--

"My histrionic acquaintance frequently favour me with their company,
when we together review past scenes, and contrast them with those of
the present time. My esteemed friend, Alfred Bunn, has been with me
this very day, and I expect to see my amiable patroness, if she will
permit me to call her so, Miss Kelly, to-morrow.

"In my solitary hours--and in spite of all the kindness of my friends I
have many of them--my thoughts often dwell upon the past: and there is
one circumstance which always affords me unmitigated satisfaction; it
is simply that I cannot recollect one single instance in which I have
intentionally wronged man, woman, or child, and this gives me great
satisfaction and comfort.

"This is the 18th of December, 1836. I was born on the 18th of
December, 1779, and consequently have completed my 57th year.

    "Life is a game we are bound to play--
    The wise enjoy it, fools grow sick of it;
    Losers, we find, have the stakes to pay,
    That winners may laugh, for that's the trick of it.

    "J. GRIMALDI."


[90] Mrs. Glossop.

[91] Since, Mrs. Granby Calcraft.

[92] Mr. Harley, as master of the Drury Lane Fund, at the Annual Dinner
of that glorious charity, in the June following Grimaldi's death, thus
alluded to the assistance which the benevolence of their patrons had
conferred on the distinguished mime:--"Yet shall delicacy suffer no
violence in adducing one example, for death has hushed his cock-crowing
cachination and uproarious merriment. The mortal Jupiter of practical
joke--the Michael Angelo of buffoonery, who, if he was _Grim-all-day_,
was sure to make _you_ chuckle at night, he was rendered happy by your
bounty. Yes, sirs, this star of eccentric brilliancy in the laughing
hemisphere of fun and drollery--this comical reminiscence of 'Me and my
Neddy,' 'Mother Goose,' 'Hot Cockles,' and 'Tippitywitchet,' would have
set in sorrow but for this institution. You raised his drooping spirit,
borne down by domestic calamity; you sustained his sinking frame,
prostrated by premature decrepitude; and sheltered him in honourable
retirement! Away then with the gloom of fanaticism and the cant of
hypocrisy, obscuring the bright face of wit and genius! This is true
philanthropy, that buries not its gold in ostentatious charity, but
builds its hospital in the human heart."

[93] Grimaldi's residence, while manager of the Wells, was at No. 8,
Exmouth-street, Spa-fields;--in a letter, dated April 23, 1829, Joe
writes--"I have moved to No. 23, Garnault-place, Spa-fields, about two
hundred yards from where I did live." This residence he relinquished
at Michaelmas, 1832, and took a small house, No. 6, Prospect-row,
Woolwich. After the death of his wife, several letters are addressed
from 31, George-street, Woolwich; one is emphatically dated "Wednesday,
June 3rd, 1835: Poor Mary's Birth-day." Joe says--"The repairs of my
new house are now complete, and I shall very soon be able to quit where
I am; next door but one to Arthur's is my future residence." It was
his last: the house he referred to was No. 33, Southampton-street,

[94] Mr. Arthur, then residing at 35, Southampton-street, but since
dead: his widow and family have left the neighbourhood. Mrs. Arthur was
not "Grimaldi's only remaining relation;" she was originally a servant
to Mr. Hughes, Joe's brother-in-law. Grimaldi's house was No. 33 in
the same street, not "next door," and his solicitude to reach town,
and occupy this house, his last home, is the subject of a long letter,
now among many of Joe's autographs, in the possession of a gentleman
resident in Highbury Park, Islington.

Early in the biography of Grimaldi, it will be remembered, mention
is made of a sister, and in fact she is noticed as having made her
_début_ with him at Sadler's Wells, in 1781. This sister, according
to Decastro, was named Mary, and married Signor Grimaldi's pupil,
Lascelles Williamson; but of late years had been altogether lost sight
of. Joe remembered her not in the disposal of his effects in his will;
but soon after his death--and the circumstance became known through
the newspapers--Joe's executor received a letter, in the name of Jane
Taylor, which stated that she was in extreme poverty; that she was
Joe's sister, and mournfully asked if he had borne her in mind, and had
bequeathed her any assistance. The executor replied, that she had not
been mentioned by Grimaldi in any way; and the recipients of what he
possessed had been named by himself.

No further application followed; and probably she sleeps too with her
kindred clay.


Grimaldi died on the 31st of May, 1837, having survived the completion
of the last chapter of his biography just five months, during which
his health had considerably improved, although his bodily energies and
physical powers had remained in the same state of hopeless prostration.
Having gradually recovered the effects of the severe mental shocks
which had crowded upon him in his decline, he had regained his habitual
serenity and cheerfulness, and appeared likely to live, and even to
enjoy life--incompatible with all enjoyment as his condition would
seem to have been--for many years. He had no other wish than to be
happy in the society of his old friends; and uttered no other complaint
than that, in their absence, he sometimes found his solitude heavy and
irksome. He looked forward to the publication of his manuscript with an
anxiety which it is impossible to describe, and imagined that the day
on which he exhibited it in a complete form to his friends, would be
the proudest of his life.

He was destined never to experience this harmless gratification; the
sudden dissolution which deprived him of it, mercifully released him
from all the pains and sufferings which could not fail to have been,
sooner or later, the attendants upon that state of death in life to
which he had been untimely reduced.

It had been Grimaldi's habit for some time previous to his death, to
spend a portion of each evening at a tavern hard by, where the society
of a few respectable persons, resident in the neighbourhood, in some
measure compensated him for the many long hours he spent by his lonely
fireside. Utterly bereft of the use of his limbs, he used to be carried
backwards and forwards (he had only a few doors to go) on the shoulders
of a man.

On the night of his death,[95] he was carried home in the usual manner,
and cheerfully bidding his companion good night, observed that he
should be ready for him on the morrow at the customary time. He had not
long been in bed, when his housekeeper fancying she heard a noise in
his room, hurried down, but all was quiet: she went in again later in
the night, and found him dead. The body was cold, for he had been dead
some hours.

A coroner's inquest was held on the following day. The testimony of the
medical gentlemen who had been promptly called in, fully established
the fact that his death had arisen from causes purely natural; and the
jury at once returned a verdict that he had died by the visitation of

He was buried on the ensuing Monday, June the 6th, in the
burying-ground of St. James's Chapel, on Pentonville Hill. In the next
grave lie the bones of his friend, Mr. Charles Dibdin,--so frequently
mentioned in these volumes; the author of many of the pieces in which
he shone in his best days, and of many of the songs with which he was
wont to set his audience in a roar.[96]

Any attempted summary of Grimaldi's peculiarities in this place would
be an impertinence. There are many who remember him, and they need not
be told how rich his humour was: to those who do not recollect him in
his great days, it would be impossible to convey any adequate idea of
his extraordinary performances. There are no standards to compare him
with, or models to judge him by; all his excellences were his own,
and there are none resembling them among the pantomime actors of the
present day.

This is not said with any view of depreciating the abilities of the
many clever actors we have in this peculiar department. Among a variety
of others, Smith and Payne of Covent Garden, (not of Lombard-street),
and Wieland, of Drury Lane, may be mentioned as possessing grotesque
humour of no ordinary kind; while for mere feats of tumbling dexterity,
Brown, King, and Gibson of the Adelphi, perhaps stand unrivalled. It is
no disparagement to all or any of these actors of pantomime, to say,
that the genuine droll, the grimacing, filching, irresistible clown
left the stage with Grimaldi, and though often heard of, has never
since been seen.[97]

In private, Grimaldi was a general favourite, not only among his
equals, but with his superiors and inferiors. That he was a man of
the kindest heart, and the most child-like simplicity, nobody who has
read the foregoing pages can for a moment doubt. He was innocent of
all caution in worldly matters, and has been known, on the seller's
warranty,[98] to give forty guineas for a gold watch, which, as it
subsequently turned out, would have been dear at ten. Among many acts
of private goodness may be mentioned--although he shrunk from the
slightest allusion to the story--his release of a brother actor from
Lancaster jail, under circumstances which showed a pure benevolence of
heart, and delicacy of feeling, that would have done honour to a prince.

With far more temptations to indulge in the pleasures of the table than
most men encounter, Grimaldi was through life remarkably temperate,
never having been seen, indeed, in a state of intoxication. But he was
a great eater, as most pantomime actors are, who enjoy good health, and
abstain from dram-drinking; and it was supposed, at the time of his
decease, that an attack of indigestion consequent upon too hearty a
supper at too late an hour materially hastened, if it did not actually
occasion, his death.

Many readers will ridicule the idea of a clown being a man of great
feeling and sensibility: Grimaldi was so, notwithstanding, and suffered
most severely from the afflictions which befel him. The loss of his
wife, to whom he had been long and devotedly attached, preyed upon his
mind to a greater or less extent for many years. The reckless career
and dreadful death of his only son bowed him down with grief. The
young man's notorious conduct had embittered the best portion of his
existence: and his sudden death, when a better course seemed opening
before him, had well-nigh terminated his unhappy father's days.

But although, in the weakened state in which he then was, the sad event
preying alike upon his mind and body, changed Grimaldi's appearance in
a few weeks to that of a shrunken, imbecile old man; and although, when
he had in some measure recovered from this heavy blow, he had to mourn
the loss of his wife, with whom he had lived happily for more than
thirty years, he survived the trials to which he had been exposed, and
lived to recover his cheerfulness and peace.

Deprived of all power of motion; doomed to bear, at a time of life
when he might reasonably have looked forward to many years of activity
and exertion, the worst bodily evils of the most helpless old age;
condemned to drag out the remainder of his days in a solitary chamber,
when all those who make up the sum of home were cold in death,
his existence would seem to have been a weary one indeed; but he
was patient and resigned under all these trials, and in time grew
contented, and even happy.

This strong endurance of griefs so keen, and reverses so poignant may
perhaps teach more strongly than a hundred homilies, that there are
no afflictions which time will not soften and fortitude overcome.
Let those who smile at the deduction of so trite a moral from the
biography of a clown, reflect, that the fewer the resources of a man's
own mind, the greater his merit in rising superior to misfortune. Let
them remember too, that in this case the light and life of a brilliant
theatre were exchanged in an instant for the gloom and sadness of a
dull sick-room.



[95] Grimaldi for some months previous to his death frequented
the coffee-room of the "Marquis of Cornwallis" Tavern in
Southampton-street, Pentonville. Mr. George Cook, the proprietor,
considering his infirmity, or loss of the use of his lower extremities,
used to fetch him on his back, and take him home in the same manner.
On the Wednesday evening, May 31st, he was brought to the coffee-room
by Mr. Cook, and seemed quite exhilarated; his conversation and humour
smacking of the vivacity of former years; and his anecdotes of the
olden times and past events contributed a fund of amusement to those
enjoying the conviviality of the night. Joe's customary beverage was
a little Scotch ale, or a small quantity of gin and water, during the
evening. On the inquest, Joe's housekeeper, Susannah Hill, stated that
on Wednesday evening he complained to her of a tightness of the chest,
and his appetite seemed not so good as usual. About half-past ten, she
went to the Marquis of Cornwallis, to apprise her master that it was
time to return home; and assisted him on to Mr. Cook's back. Joe, as
usual, quite sober, reached home about a quarter before eleven; and on
parting said to Mr. Cook, "God bless you, my boy, I shall be ready for
you to-morrow night!" His housekeeper assisted Grimaldi to his bedroom,
placed a light on his table, as was her custom, then retired to her
bedroom. In the course of the night she was awakened by an unusual
noise, similar to loud snoring in her master's room. She rose, went
in, but all was then quiet, the light still burning; and she returned
to her bed. Between five and six o'clock in the morning, having risen,
she went into Grimaldi's room, and on approaching the bed was shocked
on discovering her master a corpse. She ran for Mr. Fennill, a surgeon
in the neighbourhood, who immediately attended; pronounced him quite
dead; said that he had been so some hours; and that his death he had
no doubt arose from natural causes. The inquest held at the Marquis of
Cornwallis declared their verdict, "Died by the visitation of God."

Joe was consigned to his last home at one o'clock in the afternoon of
Monday, June 5th: the funeral was strictly private and simply plain--a
hearse and two mourning coaches, in which were Mr. Richard Hughes, Mr.
Dixon, Mr. Arthur, Mr. Dayus, Treasurer of Sadler's Wells; Mr. Norman,
Mr. Wells, of the Sir Hugh Myddleton's Head Tavern, Mr. Lawrence,
Treasurer of the Surrey Theatre, and three other private friends. So
little was the interment expected so soon, that but one or two of his
professional friends were present, and a few casual spectators were all
who witnessed his funeral.

[96] The following inscription is on his grave-stone:--

                   TO THE MEMORY OF
          M R.  J O S E P H  G R I M A L D I,
                WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE,
                    MAY 31st, 1837,
                AGED FIFTY-EIGHT YEARS.

[97] Tom Matthews, perhaps, presents at this time the nearest approach.

[98] The seller's warranty was doubtless that of some Jew money-lender,
by which class of persons he seems to have been almost devoured: when
their pressure became insupportable, or they pushed their claims to
a consummation not too devoutly to be wished, and sent a sheriff's
officer to enforce the demand, Joe was wont to accompany them to the
shop of Mr. Crouch, a pawnbroker, in Ray-street, Clerkenwell, by
whom the sum was immediately paid. When the hour approached for his
appearance at the Wells, the messenger belonging to the theatre, always
knew where to find him; and being told the sum required to redeem him,
Joe would wait patiently till he returned and released him; he would
then proceed to delight an audience, who had but a few minutes before
threatened to pull the house down if he did not appear.


Unusual and archaic spellings have been maintained, although some
attempt has been made to standardize spelling of words throughout the
book. The oe ligature has been replaced by the letters oe in this
version without further comment below. The following printing errors or
inconsistencies were fixed:

  Page xiv:   Chapter XIV ... Sudden recall to Town
  originally: Chapter XIV ... Sudden recal to Town

  Page xvi:   Concluding Chapter
  originally: CHAPTER XVI. ... Conclusion

  Page 7:     about Saddler's Wells, and Astley's, and
  originally: about Saddler's Wells, and Astleys, and

  Note 1 (Chap. I.): Drury Lane playbill, October 10, 1761,
  originally:        Drury Lane play-bill, October 10, 1761,

  Note 4 (Chap. I.): by Wright, Grimaldi, and Delpini
  originally:        by Wright, Grimaldi, and Delphini

  Page 26:    occupying herself with needlework
  originally: occupying herself with needle-work

  Note 18 (Chap. II.): Mr. Lascelles Williamson, Ballet Master,
  originally:          Mr. Lassells Williamson, Ballet Master,

  Page 28:    somewhat re-assured the lover,
  originally: somewhat reassured the lover,

  Page 34:   Grimaldi with an old broadsword
  originally Grimaldi with an old broad-sword

  Page 42:    the parlour, and the bedroom,
  originally: the parlour, and the bed-room,

  Note 21 (Chap. IV.): made their _début_ in 1820
  originally:          made their debut in 1820

  Page 68:    astonished at their re-appearance,
  originally: astonished at their reappearance,

  Page 85:    the latter theatre late overnight
  originally: the latter theatre late over-night

  Page 103:   in the neighbourhood of the theatre
  originally: in the neighbourhoood of the theatre

  Page 107:   and re-opened on the 4th of October;
  originally; and reopened on the 4th of October;

  Page 107:   having been previously apprised
  originally: having been previously apprized

  Page 113:   stand a rump-steak dinner
  originally: stand a rumpsteak dinner

  Page 114:   re-opened, as usual, at Easter, 1805:
  originally: reopened, as usual, at Easter, 1805:

  Page 114:   and re-opened again on the 21st of September,
  originally: and reopened again on the 21st of September,

  Page 124:   proceeded to apprise him
  originally: proceeded to apprize him

  Page 144:   Mr. Alley proposed offering a satisfactory
  originally: Mr. Alley proposed offering a satsifactory

  Page 154:   unsuccessful melodrama, entitled "Bonifacio
  originally: unsuccessful melo-drama, entitled "Bonifacio

  Page 156:   encored--"Tippitywitchet" three times,
  originally: encored--"Tippitywitchit" three times,

  Note 51 (Chap. XV.): Melodramatic Romance of "The Wild Man:
  originally:          Melo-dramatic Romance of "The Wild Man:

  Page 176:   and re-opened in October.
  originally: and reopened in October.

  Page 179:   sang Tippitywitchet with great
  originally: sang Tippitywitchit with great

  Note 53 (Chap. XVII.): the Old Price Riots
  originally:            the Old-Price Riots

  Page 187:   previous to the _début_, the pains
  originally: previous to the _débût_, the pains

  Page 188:   entreating the postboys to drive
  originally: entreating the post-boys to drive

  Note 67 (Chap. XIX.): Joe made his _début_ on the stage,
  originally:           Joe made his _débût_ on the stage,

  Page 199:   it was situated up a stable yard,
  originally: it was situate up a stable yard,

  Note 79 (Chap. XXII.): the melodramatic romance of "Cherry
  originally:            the melo-dramatic romance of "Cherry

  Note 84 (Chap. XXIII.): melodrama, entitled, "The Caliph
  originally:             melo-drama, entitled, "The Caliph

  Note 88 (Chap. XXIV.): belief of his _début_ in "Robinson Crusoe,"
  originally:            belief of his _débût_ in "Robinson Crusoe,"

  Note 94 (Chap. XXV.): made her _début_ with him
  originally:           made her _débût_ with him

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