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Full text of "Memoirs Of Joseph Grimaldi"

MEMOIRS 03? JOSEPH GKIMALDI.                            7

tained 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 pos-
sibility 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 pan-
tomimes 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 repre-
sented. 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 haixnted 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 tho
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;" surpassed in his time; some of it