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A History of Pantomime by R. J. Broadbent

Pantomimic Families Giuseppe Grimaldi James Byrne


other--perhaps the most pleasing

of all scenic effects--giving glimpses of the Realms of Bliss seen beyond in a tantalising fashion. Then is revealed a kind of half glorified country, clouds and banks evidently concealing much. Always a sort of pathetic, and, at the same time, exultant strain rises, and is repeated as the changes go on; now we hear the faint tinkle--signal to those aloft on the "bridges" to open more glories. Now some of the banks begin to part slowly, showing realms of light with a few divine beings--fairies--rising slowly here and there. More breaks beyond, and more fairies rising with a pyramid of these ladies beginning to mount slowly in the centre. Thus it goes on, the lights streaming on full in every colour and from every quarter in the richest effulgence. In some of the more daring efforts the _femmes suspendues_ seem to float in the air or rest on the frail support of sprays or branches of trees. While, finally, at the back of all the most glorious paradise of all will open, revealing the pure empyrean itself, and some fair spirit aloft in a cloud among the stars; the apex of all. Then all motion ceases; the work is complete; the fumes of crimson, red, and blue fire begin to rise at the wings; the music bursts into a crash of exultation; and, possibly to the general disenchantment, a burly man, in a black frock coat, steps out from the side and bows awkwardly. Then, to a shrill whistle, the first scene of the Harlequinade closes in, and shuts out the brilliant vision.

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CHAPTER XVIII.

Pantomimic Families--Giuseppe Grimaldi--James Byrne, the Harlequin and Inventor of the modern Harlequin's dress--Joseph Grimaldi, Junior--The Bologna Family--Tom Ellar--The Ridgways--The Bradburys--The Montgomerys---The Paynes--The Marshalls--Charles and Richard Stilt--Richard Flexmore--Tom Gray--The Paulos--Dubois--Arthur and Charles Leclerq--"Jimmy" Barnes--Famous Pantaloons--Miss Farren--Mrs. Siddons--Columbines--Notable Actors in Pantomime.

In the histrionic profession the genius of hereditary is shown over and over again; and no more so than in Pantomimic families. For, if blessed with a numerous progeny, the sons became--the eldest, of course, could only, as the place of honour, be Clown--the others, Harlequins, Pantaloons; the daughters, Columbines; and, perhaps, Harlequinas.

In the last chapter but one I have referred to Grimaldi's father, Giuseppe Grimaldi, "Iron Legs," and now let us recall something more of the sire of so worthy a son.

As a dancer--as his father was before him--and Pantomimist, Giuseppe Grimaldi, before coming to England, had appeared at the fairs of France and Italy. In 1758 Giuseppe made his first appearance on the stage of Drury Lane, under Garrick's management, in a new Pantomime dance, entitled, "The Millers."

For some thirty years afterwards the Signor continued to be a member of the Drury Lane _corps de ballet_, and appearing as Clown, Harlequin, and Pantaloon.


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