Monday, December 22, 2008

25Jun1863, Stage Stories from Charles Kean

LONDON, Thursday, June 25th, 1863.
—Hot. The Duchesses of Sutherland and Argyll, the Duke of Argyll, Charles Kean, the Cambridge Public Orator, Dr. Stanley, Papa, etc., came to the clever breakfast. The Exhibition building and what is to be done with it was the prevailing topic : rather a dull one. After bkft, however, Agnes and I had Kean to ourselves, and he was very entertaining with stage anecdotes and experiences. Said nobody would guess what an inclination to laugh comes over actors at the most awful moments. As when Garrick was playing King Lear (the last thing I should have thought he ever cd do, by the bye), a butcher in the pit, who had with him a dog which stood with its forepaws on the seat in front contemplating the stage, took off his wig to cool his head, and having no peg, put it for a moment on the dog's head. As Garrick advanced, preparatory to falling on his knees and uttering the tremendous curse on Goneril, he caught the eye of the bewigged dog ; and went into such hysterics of laughing that he had to go off the stage. I received the last quarterly allowance I shall ever receive from Papa's poor pinched pocket, I suppose ! And I floundered about in my accounts as usual. At 6 we rode with Willy and saw the Prince riding with Althorp and Col. Keppel. Mr. Baird joined us—I broke my stirrup strap but can luckily manage without : so we put it into Willy's pocket, and went on unheeding.

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