תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

The dresses of the men were so gaudy, and covered with ribbons, that, with their finery, their sousings created the more merriment to the spectators, and also much gratification to my father, who, I believe, was the first who introduced this Italian bétise.

The last time I was there was at the fête we pic-nics gave.

Garnerin, and Mr. Sowden, a gentleman of our party, ascended in a balloon at six in the evening. At ten a small one was to ascend, to which were attached some fireworks; all the party were impatient to see the show, and I was myself in the gardens, along with some of the pic-nics, long before the appointed time. It was so arranged that the fireworks should not go off until the balloon had been a certain time in the air. I recollect a circumstance which occurred at the time, and was then not very pleasant to me. A conversation arose about actors, and I observed that of all the amateurs, General A***** was the most prominent pic-nic of our dramatis persona, and in some parts, there were few who could at all be compared with him. I added, however, that he was a great bouncer, and knew how to draw a long bow. Though his stories were very amusing without being satirical, he was, I said, fond of talking of himself, and acted as his own trumpeter. Some one upon this suddenly called out, “Thank you, Angelo, I am much

me.

obliged to you." This was a thunderbolt to

The party all began to quiz me; another said, “You have got into a scrape ;” another, “ The general will cut your head off;” “He'll find you out,” &c. &c. They all laughed at me, and gave me the slip.

Conscious that I had been unguarded in my remarks, and had spoken too freely, I remained some time in the damp gardens, in no very comfortable mood. Finding I had been deserted, I returned to the room, where I soon found my compassionate pic-nics, Colonel Greville, our active manager, having secured a box purposely for us among the number. “ Cost what it will,” said I to myself, " as I am in so hungry a mood, I am not to be quizzed out of my supper."

Being the first to enter the box, those who followed pressed me forward, so that I found myself seated at the other corner, and no one could pass by without seeing me. This had been previously contrived, the better for the general to make his attack whilst we were at supper; and the jest passing round, I heard them occasionally say, “ There he is ;” “ He'll find you out.” I, however, was too well employed with the ham and chicken to take much notice, but at last he himself stood before me;

Make room !” said he, addressing himself to me, "you and I must drink a glass of cham

[ocr errors]

pagne together.” (Bravo! thought I to myself.) “ You said that I was the first amateur; why, don't you know, when I played at Richmond House, there was but one opinion ?—Garrick played the actor, I was the gentleman, in Lord Townley: did you ever hear of my speaking a prologue at the Margravine's, without having seen a line of it ?

No,” said I. “ The person who was to have spoken it not being perfect, was afraid to venture. I happened to be behind the scenes that night, and, to prevent disappointment to the audience, I went on, and spoke it myself.”

Why, that appears to me incredible.” “ I'll tell you how it was. My son prompted me, and I caught every word. The audience were not aware that the prologue was not intended for me, because no announcement was made of it in the play-bill, and they all complimented me very much, for it went off with very general applause. We had played together

few nights before at the pic-nics. The farce was Lethe; he was Lord Chalkstone, I played the old man.”

If anecdote, song, or imitation, adds to a convivial party, there are few who could in that respect be compared to the General; his affability, and the notice he always honoured me with, I shall ever gratefully remember.

a

SADLER'S WELLS.—The entertainment of Sadler's Wells, where Tom Low was the favourite singer, was merely confined to singing, rope-dancing, feats of strength, and pantomime. The additional inducements, however, were cream of tartar punch, and red wine of the sloe vintage. The dramatic selections, though not calculated to astonish an audience, tended more, perhaps, to improve the intellect.

Some years ago a very good-natured and particularly obstinate friend of mine, who had no very mean idea of his ability and his feats of agility, boasted that he could walk as well on the rope as any of the performers at Sadler's Wells, and made a bet with me that he could accomplish more than I could.

I had no hesitation in accepting the bet; for, the fact was, I had made the experiment two years before.

Being one morning at a rehearsal there, Signor Ferzi, who was then the famous ropedancer, was practising at the time, and, seeing me very attentive to his capers, he offered to show me how to walk to the end. He particularly cautioned me to fix my eyes upon one object; I followed his instructions, and, to my surprise, found very little difficulty; so that, having already made the trial, I did not hesitate to make a second attempt. Unfortunately for

my antagonist, it was his first appearance on the rope (by the by, many have made their last appearance on the rope.) He was rather a lusty personage, about five feet nine, and this circumstance so added to my confidence, that I waited with impatience for the day. Our bet was a dinner, to be paid by the loser.

Signor Placido, voltigeur, engaged that year en second to the Little Devil, so called from his superior abilities, was an excellent fencer; and his attempts to please my scholars made him always welcome to my room in the Haymarket. He was kind enough to say a word to the Little Devil on my account, and a rope was fixed on purpose for us, and a day being appointed, we both met at Sadler's Wells, to decide our wager. We were received by the Little Devil and his mistress, La Belle Es. pagnolle, as she was called, a very handsome

a woman, who that season had astonished every one by her graceful feats on the rope.

My opponent opened the ball, mounting the ladder first. He had his balancing pole in his hand ; but he had scarcely got four yards, when he fell to the ground. It was now my turn. Recollecting the lesson I had previously taken, I moved forward gently, turning my toes well out, and placing each foot alternately before the other, my eye never deviating from the end of the rope, and succeeded in winning

I was so elated, that I fancied I

the wager.

« הקודםהמשך »