Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Notebook: James Boswell Imitates a Cow

John Brewer, describing a night at the Royal Drury Lane Theatre in 1769:
During the hour before the curtain rose the theatre was filled by what a bemused German visitor, von Archenholz, called ‘noise and bombardment’: the audience chatted, cheered and sang, threw fruit at one another, flirted and preened themselves. A few years earlier James Boswell, waiting with a Scottish friend for a Drury Lane performance to begin, ‘entertained the audience prodigiously by imitating the lowing of a cow.’ As he later proudly remarked, ‘I was so successful in this boyish frolic that the universal cry of the galleries was “Encore the cow! Encore the cow!”’

The Pleasures of the Imagination

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