Great Performers of the Past

Part of Theatrical Adventures by O.B. Clarence

“To labour and be content with that a man hath is a sweet life;
but he that findeth a treasure is above them both.”


We are familiar with the lives of the great figures in the history of the theatre and with the lives of those great actors who helped to build it up. There are those of our time too whom we have seen and perhaps known and of whose genius we are proud. While we watched them there was that within us that told us how great they were. Have we not perhaps discussed our favourites with some old crony, “Do you remember so and so, and such a one?”, and recalling perchance some moving passage, some poignant speech, our eyes have grown damp as we dwelt with pride upon their names. We count ourselves wealthy that we can remember so distinctly these splendid men and women whose genius, bearing and personality we have admired, applauded and possibly envied.

It is given to many to discern genius in the bud and when , in the fullness of time, those talents are revealed and acknowledged, we are conscious of silent exultation. Can we ever forget them?

I am now going to name a few of those who, in my time I considered great, just as they come into my mind, without precedence, without titles - I set them down haphazard.

FORBES ROBERTSON - a memorable figure. How fortunate I deem myself that I have been privileged to have seen this actor in some of his famous parts. C. E. Montague wrote “That you will see Forbes Robertson walk across the stage is a sufficient reason for going to the theatre”. This is a subtle compliment and a genuine one and we know what he meant.

I cannot be subtle about this great actor, for great he undoubtedly was. He had many outstanding qualities, one of which alone would raise an actor above his fellows; but Forbes Robertson had such a wealth of assets, one could hardly name one which was outstanding.

To me his greatest charm was his magnificent voice; to listen to it was a delight - richer than any of his day. His magnificent profile accentuated his nobility. He had superb dignity and an entire absence of stage tricks. Whatever play he appeared in he graced.

I can never forget his performance in Pinero’s Lady Bountiful, particularly in that moving moment at the end of the third act when his wife, who had been ill, lay in bed watching him as he talked to his baby in its cradle, prattling to the child about the new country where “Mummy will soon be a strong mother again”.

Presently, “What are you staring at? This clock?” - a pause - “How loudly it ticks”. Then, turning to his wife he goes over to her and discovers she has ceased to breathe; he flung himself on his knees and clasped her body in his arms. “Meg, Meg! Don’t leave me - don’t leave me,” sobbing in paroxysms of grief as the curtain fell. It was almost more than we could bear.

In many plays The Profligate, The Light That Failed, The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith, For the Crown, The Passing of the Third Floor Back, to name only a few of his productions - in these few - how superb he was: and yet this great actor, who had given us such delight, tells us in the last page of his Autobiography “Never, at any time, have I gone on the stage without longing for the curtain to come down on the last act. Rarely, very rarely, have I enjoyed myself in acting.”

This statement seems to us incredible, and yet we know he would never have told us this if it were not true. I think, however, he could seldom have failed to sense the enjoyment of his audience.

CHARLES WYNDHAM. I feel it is almost an impertinence on my part to write about this famous actor, who was a foremost leading actor before I was born: but he had a long life. How lucky I was to have seen him act in so many of his later successes: in David Garrick and Rosemary in 1896 and in other plays I am unable to name.

He was one of the foremost figures of the stage and had been for years before I became a playgoer. He possessed some fascinating little mannerisms; one in particular was very dear to me; his voice would move sometimes a trifle up the scale, at the end of a sentence. He had also what I recall as a strange knack of gripping hold of a situation before we had realised there was one.

I saw him in David Garrick, also The Bauble Shop, The Liars and The Tyranny of Tears. These were delightful evenings. I never thought a great deal of his leading lady, but I don’t think my opinion at that time was of any value - perhaps not now.

WILLARD, always a splendid actor; one of his many assets was his powerful voice which, when he made full use of it, would fill the auditorium. It was like the strength of the diapason stop of an organ. I saw this fine actor in many of his triumphs. He was magnificent in Judah. The Middleman I saw six times, which I thought to be his finest role.

BEERBOHM TREE - a genius. One of the great figures of our day. He was extraordinarily gifted and portrayed his characters with the greatest skill. His voice was not of unusual power but it was what he did with it that was remarkable. His physique was not outstanding but he had stature and was skilful in counterfeiting an appearance of strength when it was needed. Similarly he managed his voice and in consequence was able to handle a goodly range of characters beyond the power of many of his day.

No other actor in my memory could so skilfully portray such a variety of characters. Such was his genius and charm that he was brilliantly successful in leading roles, though outside his métier, which was really as a character actor.

Could there be stronger contrasts than The Village Priest and Hamlet? What a tour de force he gave us in The Man’s Shadow, appearing as two different characters in the same play.

It was during his tenure of the Haymarket Theatre that, in my opinion, he gave us his best work; The Dancing Girl, The Man’s Shadow, The Village Priest, Gringoire, Pigmalion, Called Back, Trilby to name but a few.

When he crossed the road to His Majesty’s Theatre, the size of that building caused him to embark on productions of a larger scale and occasionally he was forced, or rather forced himself, into roles slightly beyond his measure - parts some of us were sorry he attempted. Such was his genius and his uncanny charm that we revelled in these renderings of noble characters which he almost filled.

His productions were always magnificent, always lavish. He was universally popular. His supper parties, banquets in “my beautiful dome” at his Magesty’s were a byword. As his brother Max put it “He was always young at heart. He had a habit of carrying a little notebook in which he jotted down little sayings and mottos. One of these was On retiring from the stage ‘Better an hour too soon than a minute too late’.”

Mrs Patrick Campbell in her delightful My Life and Some Letters (Hutchinson & Co.) sums up Sir Herbert Tree better than anyone else. “He loved his profession deeply and idependently of his own success: his friendliness, enthusiasm and above all his warm hospitality were a household word. His saddest mood could be charmed away in a moment by a witty or funny remark. He hated ill-manners and ugliness. Youth and beauty led him like a lamb. When his feelings were hurt he blushed and looked bewildered, which was extraordinarily attractive.”

JOHN HARE. A magnificent example of a brilliant character actor whose genius lifted him far above the portrayal of types. In his day he had no equal: but he had served an apprenticeship, so to speak, of many years with the Bancrofts at the Old Prince of Wales’s.

After many years’ service under various managements he came into his own as Lessee of the Garrick Theatre. It was there we witnessed and relished his genius.

Hare’s facility for characterisation enabled him to delight us in that successful play A Pair of Spectacles which I saw many times, and his revival of the Robertson plays, which are now spoken of as classics - Caste & School; also Lady Bountiful, Diplomacy and The Profligate - delightful productions. His Eccles and Goldfinch were brilliant impersonations.

He had the reputation of being rather testy and peppery but against this, all those whom I knew to have been in his company spoke well of him. I can only say that I always enjoyed his acting on the stage.

WILLIAM TERRIS. Handsome, manly, upright - he was the epitome of what a hero should be. There was little subtlety about his acting - it was honest, straightforward and no damned nonsense.

He was a universal favourite; no actor was more popular. Ellen Terry, in The Story of my Life brings him to mind better than anyone else. “I remember no figure in the Theatre more remarkable than Terris. Very often he didn’t know what he was talking about - yet he got there. He had unbounded impudence, yet so much charm that no one could be angry with him. When he was ‘dressed up’ Terris was spoiled by fine feathers: when he was in rough clothes he looked a prince. He made the audience believe in him the moment he stepped upon the stage.”

It was a harrowing shock when we heard he had been murdered. I was in the old Green Room Club in Bedford Street - I had only just been elected when William Terris set out for the Adelphi Theatre where he was playing, only a step away. It seemed only a few minutes after that we heard he had been murdered. We felt stunned. I had seen him several times at the Adelphi; the last was I think in Harbour Lights. The first time was in the street when someone pointed him out to me “That’s Breezy Bill”!

MARTIN HARVEY - buried for years in Irving’s company, he afterwards came into his own. His distinguished diction and clear delivery, his unaffected and earnest style endeared him to us. He seemed to have remained so long the young actor we had admired that his death at the age of seventy-eight seemed the more poignant.

The funeral service was well attended and when the Reverend James Hannay, whom we knew as George Birmingham, spoke of him as “a great artist” we in the Theatre felt the words were shrewdly chosen.

CHARLES GLENNY. I cannot omit a really brilliant artist, invaluable in an amazing variety of parts. Almost always, I observed, whatever character he handled, became nearly the best part in the play. I don’t suppose the general public realised he was the splendid actor his friends knew him to be.

LEWIS WALLER. He had a great following, a fine voice, manly and upright: it was surely my fault that he never moved me.

CHARLES WARNER - a very different type of actor. In certain roles he was superb; he had no equal in parts demanding intense emotion. How fortunate were those who saw his Coupeau. How he moved us, wracked us, tore our senses. In such a part he had no equal. His death scene was almost more than we could bear; but when the curtain came down the audience applauded in a frenzy of admiration. Though he must have been exhausted, he had to come before the curtain again and again.

One rather touching and delightful thing about this fine actor was his devotion to his son, Harry.

Charles Warner, though always tidy in appearance, was not perturbed that his clothes were old and out of date; but when Harry came down from University, his fashionable clothes fitting his slender figure and in the latest style, Charles Warner appeared in new suits, cut to his figure, up to date and dapper. His affection for his boy, his pride in Harry, was very touching and very delightful to behold. There was no-one to fill his place as an actor when he passed on.

HENRY IRVING - he towered above them all, yet he had few of those attributes we expect from a great actor, for great he undoubtedly was. His mannerisms were odd and marked, but we grew to love them and to look for them. His utterance was strange - often hollow, frequently staccato - but we wouldn’t have it otherwise.

He had no affectations but he possessed that rare quality in an actor, possessed by only a few - he had magnetism: one could hardly take one’s eyes off him. Always that tall gaunt figure gripped us. His cleanly chiselled features and his glittering eyes always held and fascinated us. There was that in his bearing too and in his features that fitted him for noble roles. Almost he seemed to us as a being apart, though we knew from his hosts of friends and cronies he was very human.

Many years ago, during my school holidays, my father and I were staying with an old college friend of his, an eminent barrister, at Chistlehurst: and one evening after dinner, our host, having recently visited the Lyceum Theatre, regaled us with his imitations of Henry Irving in Macbeth. One Item selected for our entertainment being the speech, “i have done the deed.”. There was a vogue prevalent about that time, for certain folk to entertain their circles with such parodies of the great actor and how easy it must have been to magnify and burlesque with various forms of walk, utterance and extravagance of facial contortions, his outstanding and marked mannerisms.

I think that even at that early period I must have harboured some leanings towards the stage, because I remember to have been much perturbed by our host’s grotesque ravings and posturings and wondered how a great actor could be so belittled; and there remained with me for a long time a certain feeling of grievance and injury.

Years later, having reached the age of maturity, I had the great happiness of seeing Henry Irving myself in many of his Lyceum productions: and when I saw Macbeth my mind went back to that drawing room at Chistlehurst and as I heard Irving speak the words, “I have done the deed”, I can recall how relieved and grateful I felt when I was duly gripped and harrowed.

That Irving possessed many and varied mannerisms no one will deny: what actor has not? But these peculiarities of his, traits, call them what you will, were to me, so much an added fascination of his personality, becoming almost embellishments so that I could hardly have brought myself to spare a single one.

In the early days of his Lyceum reign Irving had many detractors, notably among them being R.W. Lowe and William Archer, joint authors of that lamentable publication, The Fashionable Tragedian. Archer’s vitriol became somewhat diluted as the years went by, and later on he developed into one of Irving’s admirers, judicially so as he was bound to be, splendid critic as he was. There was a pamphlet published in 1875, duly recorded by Lowe and which I have on my shelves, entitled, Macbeth at the Lyceum by two amateurs: this was not a reply to. The Fashionable Tragedian, (the extravagance of which prevented it from carrying much weight) but preceded it: but I believe the anonimity covered the identity of collaborators of some note, as it bears the mark of scholarship and is shrewdly and forcibly written. It remains today a valuable testimony of the contemporary opinion of all those years ago.

I can only recall of course the revival of 1888 or perhaps the succeeding one. This play of Macbeth, one of the greatest Shakespeare ever wrote, provided Irving with one of the most absorbing, and surely one of the most difficult of problems. In one of his addresses, Irving quotes Voltaire as saying of the art of acting: “The most difficult, the most rare and the most beautiful” and Irving realised this for us in his production of Macbeth - “the first occasion” says Harker “on which I have known the piece to prove a box-office success.”

It is common knowledge that Henry Irving took intense pains over all his parts. Amongst other Irving relics in my possession is his copy of Hawkin’s Life of Edmund Kean in two volumes, bearing his bookplate by Byam Shaw; and in the margins there remain the peculiarly characteristic markings and scorings, undoubtedly Irvings’s, beside the passages which describe Kean’s reactions to the most vital moments in his Shakespearian roles, notably those of Richard, Othello and Macbeth: Significant indeed.

What treats those Lyceum evenings were: “Lyceum nights of fond delights”. How well phrased.

I can recall Irving’s first appearance at that revival of Macbeth. The tall lean figure of this most magnetic actor, armed and helmeted in the scene on the heath, a picture of eerie and beautiful significance, where he encounters the weird sisters; and as I watched that wonderful face and glittering eyes, and heard that haunting voice that was like no other actor’s, I became aware in that early period of the play, that tragedy was on the way: and undoubtedly it was that consciousness which enabled me to follow so clearly his subsequent reactions.

Duncan’s arrival at the castle being greeted by Lady Macbeth - can one ever forget it? Ellen Terry, the incomparable, with her bewitching and sinuous grace, welcoming the old king at the summit of the slope with all the diablerie that it implied - a scene pregnant with meaning. Could one fail to acclaim the mind that had conceived it? Irving always gave us superb and helpful settings. The famous dagger scene was a triumph. The terrible suspense of the long wait for the bell that was to be the signal for the murder. Here Irving brought before us all the dread horrors and the physical prostration that possessed him at the contemplation of what was to follow: it was all so real and pitifully alive. That scene and the ensuing one - “I have done the deed” where he staggered down the rough steps of the curved stairway leading from Duncan’s chamber, distraught and stricken, these are both painfully memorable and vivid to me even now.

The banquet scene, though pictorially splendid affected me in a less degree; but in the final scene where Irving at Dunsinane is confronted with Macduff, “of all men else I have avoided thee” was magnificent in its intensity: the tall soldierly figure, in bearing full of dignity and honour was now transformed; his courage which had failed him before and after the murder when he was mentally assailed, now faced with bodily peril, asserted itself. Conscious of doom but manfully resolved to meet it, his hair dishevelled his features drawn and tense, looking like a gaunt hungry famished wolf, Irving was piteous and terrible to look at. What memories it all recalls.

The scope of Macbeth is tremendous. When one considers the immensity of the theme, the gigantic conception of its principal character, beset throughout with so many varied and conflicting passions and emotions while all the time fate is bearing him along involuntarily to its appointed end.

Many there are living so much better qualified than I myself to describe the effect that this play wrought upon an audience, yet none more conscious I avow, even after so many years, of the spell of Henry Irving.

Mr Aria records that Irving when gazing at Clint’s study of Edmund Kean as Hamlet remarked “some fifty years hence some old fool will be saying, there never was an actor like Irving”, and well he prophesised. None of us shall see his like again. Think of his long and honourable career, 428 parts in his first two and a half years upon the stage, followed by a wealth of illustrious successes and triumphs, until his untimely death on October 13th 1905 at Bradford, as it were “with harness on his back”.

Many of his acts of kindness to the less fortunate of his calling seeped through and although it was common knowledge that his hand was frequently stretched out to those who had stumbled by the way, it was not till he had been taken from us that we learned how lavish he had been with his bounty.

His body was brought back to London to the house of the Baroness and Mr Burdett-Coutts in Stratton St. Piccadilly and there he lay in state, like a monarch that he was. The public funeral took place as we know in Westminster Abbey, magnificently symbolic of the respect of a nation and it was hard to realise even through this impressive ceremony that this immense personage had been taken from us.

It can hardly be possible ever I fear, to convey with mere words, to anyone who had never seen Sir Henry Irving, the power of his extraordinary appeal: A grand, distinguished and compelling personality.

It was a moving moment, when in company of a vast multitude, on that memorable day in October 1905 when we saw his ashes deposited in Westminster Abbey.

E. V. Lucas wrote in his invaluable, A Wanderer in London, Methuen 1906, “Irving may have lacked many of the qualities of the great actor, but when he died there passed away from the English stage something of charm, something of distinction and picturesque power that it is not likely in our time to recover, and the world was poorer by the loss of a commanding gentleman.”

Max Beerbohm said, “His death was like the loss of a legend”.

And now it seems in the natural order of things to turn to - Ellen Terry.

ELLEN TERRY - her name is radiance itself. Ellen Terry, the incomparable! She bewitched us all. There are no words that can describe her. Every one adored her and she was a superb actress: not lightly framed, yet she was the sprightliest; so swift of foot, she seemed to float rather than touch the ground. When she was joyous she radiated happiness. When she grieved we suffered with her.

What quality it was that rendered her acting so adorable it was difficult to detect or to define but on each occasion I saw her the spell was greater. Her acting had always the quality of freshness. There was buoyancy in every movement, sparkling glee and grace like the felicitous purling of a merry stream - the epitome of happiness. It was this radiance I think, when grief and sorrow came, that by contrast rendered her suffering the more intense.

One could hardly determine the measure of her training for at a tender age she must have been tripping on the boards. She tells us in her memoirs that she made her first appearance in the part of Mamilius in the Winter’s Tale in the year 1856, when under the management of Charles Keane, and her salary was fifteen shillings.

How grateful I am today that it was given to me to see her so many times on the stage and eventually to know her! How I wished I could have accepted her invitation to join her on her last visit to America. She wrote me the sweetest note; “I want you to come for so-and-so and so-and-so,” mentioning the parts, “and for your dear little self.” Who is there who would not value such a letter? I made a little pocket inside the cover of the extra illustrated edition of her life (of which there are 250 signed copies) in which I keep her precious letter.

Dear Ellen Terry. The following lines, written by the Irish poet, William Allingham, was a favourite of hers and a copy of it was discovered in a volume of Thomas a Kempis’s Imitation of Christ in her cottage at Tenterden - after her death.

“No funeral gloom my dears when I am gone;
Corpse-gazings, tears, black raiment, graveyard grimness:
Think of me as withdrawn into the dimness.
Yours still, you mine. Remember all the best
Of our past moments and forget the rest;
And so to where I wait, come gently on.”

Below this Ellen Terry had written “I should wish my children, relatives and friends to observe this when I die.”

When our beloved Ellen Terry died she left us that precious volume The Story of my Life.

Max Beerbohm wrote of her “If she gave her mind to it she might have become a very beautiful writer, but then she would lose that quality of freshness and life that makes her writing so adorable now.”

Adorable! That is the exact word for Ellen Terry. I cannot think that anyone could have known her - ever so slightly - without coming pretty close to loving her.

Among the many publications concerning Ellen Terry there is one by her son, Gordon Craig. He commences “I had not wished to write this book” and we feel that Bernard Shaw is coming into the scene. We know all there is to know about E. T. and Bernard Shaw - that they were great friends - and no wonder. We all know that Bernard Shaw is a brilliant writer but, in “The Shaw and Terry” letters, I think it is Ellen Terry who comes out on top. It is difficult to imagine that anyone could have begrudged her the friendship of Bernard Shaw; nor can we assess what we should have lost if the famous letters had not been written or had not been published.

Hugh Walpole wrote in The English Review “these are not love-letters. Here Bernard Shaw, who is the most generous fellow alive, has done a good turn and at a cost to himself: he has put on record, in a way that nothing - not even her delightful self could have done - that of all the enchanting, generous, unselfish women who have enriched the English Theatre Ellen Terry is supreme”.

And now I must tear myself away from this wonderful lady and come to another wonderful lady; and wonderful is the only fitting epithet I can apply to that exceptional actress, Mrs Patrick Campbell.

MRS PATRICK CAMPBELL - wonderful, yes, that is the correct epithet. She stood on a plane of her own. No actress that I can remember could deliver poetry as she did.

Her voice was music and harmony itself; she gave to every dactyl, to every measured movement its true value. She was also a talented musician and knew that poetry was akin to music: perhaps that accounted for the music in her voice.

Mrs Patrick Campbell could never be conventional and she was never prodigal of gesture, but her movements were always graceful; yet sometimes she gave us surprises, little shocks, perhaps a little wantonly.

She had the keenest sense of humour, yet I never think of her as merry but how often she held us spellbound.

Her Paula! A great and magnificent conception - tender, passionate, amusing, compelling, heart breaking. Her touch on the piano - her eyes, her joyous smile, her bewitching laugh were so moving, so wayward.

In My Life and Some Letters (Hutchinson & Co.) she wrote “Did I ever, in any of my interpretations, grasp what Paula’s life was? I wonder.”

The notorious Mrs Ebbsmith was not the ou;tanding success that the Second Mrs Tanqueray was - but it was more than a succès d’estime. Some of the plays she graced failed to repay the work, the energy and charm she lavished upon them. The Thunderbolt, Hedda Gabler, Magda, Carlyon Sahib - I fear that neither Mrs Pat nor Forbes Robertson were the richer fromthe Latter’s production of Macbeth. So much toil and energy with inadequate reward must have had some effect on dear Mrs Pat’s mercurial temperament.

This dear lady, by nature witty and amusing, sometimes allowed herself to become wantonly tactless; often I fear she was unhappy. Her sense of humour helped her through many troubles; she never lost her pride or her distinction but her ready wit was sometimes a trifle cruel.

Dear Mrs Pat. She was always kind to me. It is harrowing that she should have ended her days so far away from us. While I have been lingering over dear Mrs Pat I am in danger of forgetting the comedians - the drolls.

PENLEY. How we laughed at him in Charley’s Aunt! I remember how, during the entracte, though still weak with laughter, I recalled his antics and absurdities. Tears would roll down my cheeks afresh - the tea in Spettigue’s hat followed by two lumps of sugar!

There were delicious moments in The Little Ray of Sunshine - not the triumphant success of Charley’s Aunt but every time the little man appeared, who was in reality the ministering angel the household was expecting, he was mistaken for the man to take possession and was repeatedly thrown out with his luggage and umbrella. The last time, before his true identity was revealed, he returned and with that twisted mouth and goggle-eyed vapidity that always upset us, croaked out “I say, do you mind throwing my things after me?”

WILLIE EDOUNI, another droll, superbly comic in Our Flat and in many of his innumerable impersonations.

DAN LENO of the Halls. The greatest droll of all. Max Beerbohm in his Around Theatres (Alfred A Knopf - New York) says “I defy anyone not to have loved Dan Leno at first sight. The moment he capered on, with that air of wild determination, squirming in every limb with some deep grievance that must be outpoured, all hearts were his.” Yes, I agree.

“He would introduce us to a variety of types of people - figures we felt we knew, with that particular brand of humour none but he possessed. A true genius, we know him to have been, who perhaps had overtaxed his fertile brain on our behalf; for at the last it failed him.

We revere the memories of these great people I have named and countless others I have not, who in their day have given enjoyment to so many. It is they and those others long before them who have helped to raise our theatre and to maintain it in its present eminence.

Now I wish to direct your attention to something significant. At the Haymarket today there is a very remarkable presentation of Hamlet, brilliantly cast. There are many performances I would like to acclaim: but I wish to call attention to John Gielgud’s beautiful performance of Hamlet, of which I had heard and read nothing but praise and which I humbly endorse.

In his delightful Early Stages, Gielgud tells us that he can say he has become a famous Hamlet: or if his modesty forbids, I will shout about it for him.

If further evidence is required of the present condition of the Theatre, may I say that during all the years I have been on the stage, I have never witnessed such superb acting as I have recently seen at another theatre, namely the New Theatre. I am speaking of the production of Peer Gynt and the acting of Ralph Richardson.

It is a remarkable experience for one who has been so long at this acting business, to come out of a theatre today, conscious of having just enjoyed the finest acting of his career. Peer Gynt is a one-part play - and what a part. Yes, but what an exacting one. The play was beautifully produced - trust Tyrone Guthrie for that; but it is Richardson’s acting I am concerned with.

He gave a most superb performance as that complex Peer Gynt, an uncommonly difficult character to depict, three widely difficult stages in Peer’s life I was fascinated and gripped throughout - a most memorable experience.

On another occasion, at the same theatre, Lawrence Olivier gave a magnificent performance in that harrowing tragedy, O Edipus Rex, an experience I am never likely to forget; and yet - mirabile dictu - hardly had the curtain descended, when this same actor gave the most inimitable performance, a display of high comedy in Sheridan’s Critic. How proud we are today and how fortunate that we are able to witness acting of this high order.

Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson are great actors.

What a delightful medium of entertainment the theatre is when served by actors of this stature.

I have recently derived considerable enjoyment from a volume which dealt intimately and with some affection with the circus. I have forgotten its title but it was written by John Ferguson, who had embellished its conclusion with a charming little tribute to the circus clown:

When tenting days are o’er and never more
He’ll smell the sawdust, see the laughing eyes;
I sometimes think that on a daisied floor
He’ll turn a somersault in Paradise
To give some angel child a glad surprise
Who never saw a circus clown before.

There have been occasions when in the Theatre we have been moved by some masterly performance, display of brilliant acting which has aroused in us the strange awareness, exhilaration, that uplift which has brought us a little nearer to those regions we hope one day to reach.

Amen to that, say I.