John Philip Kemble was London’s leading Shakespearean actor in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Once, on his way home from a night of revelry, a thoroughly inebriated Kemble was seized by an irresistible urge to ride a rhino. The obvious place to fulfill his wish was at the city’s famous menagerie, the Exeter Change, in the Strand. When his request was turned down by a sleepy keeper—it was 4:15 in the morning—he demanded to see the owner, Stephen Polito, at once, which prompted this exchange:

Kemble: Mr. Polito, I presume. [Polito bowed.] You know me, I presume?
Polito: Very well, Sir. You are Mr. Kemble, of Drury Lane Theatre.
Kemble: Right, good Polito! Sir, I am seized with an unaccountable, an uncontrollable fancy. You have a rhinoceros?
Polito: Yes, Sir.
Kemble: My desire is to have a ride on its back.
Polito: Mr....


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