The stage of Covent Garden Theatre is seen from the right with a small part of the pit in the left foreground; the boxes and galleries adjoining the stage form the background on the left. The pittites are standing and blow trumpets, spring rattles, ring bells, and shout. Those in the crowded boxes behave in the same way; with one exception all are men. Two men occupy each of the two boxes over the stage-door; they watch passively. The musicians' seats are empty, but candles burn beside their open music-books, and one of the orchestra stands facing the audience, threatening them with fist and baton. On the stage three men stand together addressing the audience. The man in the centre holds out a paper: 'Riot Act'; he says: "We shall Read the riot act". Behind them stands Kemble wearing a tail-coat and white trousers, appealing to the audience with his hands meekly together as if in prayer. Large notices and placards hang from the galleries and boxes: 'Old Prices' [five times]; 'Harris will but Kemble won,t'; 'No Kembles No more insults'; 'Kemble remember the Dublin Tin Man'; 'No Foreign Sofas'; 'Iohn Bull against Iohn Kemble'; 'No Catalani'; 'Old Prices' [three times]; 'No Italian Private Boxes'; '£6000 for Caterwauling'; 'Catalani', below a print of a cat dressed as a woman, and singing 'Me Yo' from a music-book; 'No Catalani!! Mountain— Billington, and Dickons for ever'; 'Ol Price for ever No caterwauling'; 'Old Prices No Catalani'; a gigantic placard: 'Statement— £ Subscribed — £80-000 Fire Office — 50-000 Old Materials — 25-000 155-000 New Theatre —— 150-000 Managers of it —— 5-000' Held up by a 'John Bull' in the pit who blows a trumpet: 'No Catalani No Pigeon Holes Old Prices No Private Boxes'. A man shouts from a box: "Off Off Off Off"; he springs a rattle. September 1809 Hand-coloured etching
© The Trustees of the British Museum
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