12
Dec 05

Boiling your last sausage

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It was in the appropriately theatrical Harlequin the other night that our attention was drawn to the marvellously luvvie valedictory address given by Joseph Grimaldi the clown on the occasion of his retirement.

Here it is (copied from A History of Pantomime, by R. J. Broadbent)

“Ladies and Gentlemen:–In putting off the Clown’s garment, allow me to drop also the Clown’s taciturnity, and address you in a few parting sentences. I entered early on this course of life, and leave it prematurely. Eight-and-forty years only have passed over my head–but I am going as fast down the hill of life as that older Joe–John Anderson. Like vaulting ambition, I have overleaped myself, and pay the penalty in an advanced old age. If I have now any aptitude for tumbling it is through bodily infirmity, for I am worse on my feet than I used to be on my head. It is four years since I jumped my last jump–filched my last oyster–boiled my last sausage–and set in for retirement. Not quite so well provided for, I must acknowledge, as in the days of my Clownship, for then, I dare say, some of you remember, I used to have a fowl in one pocket and sauce for it in the other.

“To-night has seen me assume the motley for a short time–it clung to my skin as I took it off, and the old cap and bells rang mournfully as I quitted them for ever.

“With the same respectful feelings as ever do I find myself in your presence–in the presence of my last audience–this kindly assemblage so happily contradicting the adage that a favourite has no friends. For the benvolence that brought you hither–accept, ladies and gentlemen, my warmest and most grateful thanks, and believe, that of one and all, Joseph Grimaldi takes a double leave, with a farewell on his lips, and a tear in his eyes.

“Farewell! That you and yours may ever enjoy that greatest earthly good–health, is the sincere wish of your faithful and obliged servant. God bless you all!”

He lived for 14 more years, and according to this site “his last years were spent beside the fireplace of ‘The Marquis of Cornwallis’ tavern, in Pentonville, where each night he would be carried home on the back of the landlord, George Cook.” Another ending, then. No-one gets carried home on the landlord’s back in uncaring, binge-drink Britain. For shame.

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