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Full text of "Memoirs Of Joseph Grimaldi"

MEMOIRS OF JOSEPH GBI31AUDI.                        213

simultaneously to make their escape: that a -violent rush to-
wards 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. Tilled with anxiety, and determined to ascertain
the real state of the ease, he ran round to the opposite bank of
the Ilfew 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 a 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 with-
out 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 melan-
choly 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ve an alibi most satisfae-the kindness of the audience with so much gen-