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Full text of "Memoirs Of Joseph Grimaldi"

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attention of the house engaged, while the last scene, which was
a very heavy one, was being " set up." Now, if any fresh com-
batant 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, omit-
ted 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 com-
motion 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or upwards of a