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SIR HENRY-IRVING.

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SIR HENRY-IRVING. 4 I To the great world of actors and play-goers Saturday will be a memorable day, for once again England's prime actor will re-open the historic Lyceum with his wierdly powerful impersonation of "Mephistopheles" in "Faust." For many years Sir Henry's re- vivals may be aptly described as memorable, 1 for in theatrical circles it is customary to refer to events, the dates of which are beyond the ken of easy recollection, as having hap- pened in the year when Irving played "Dori- court" in the "Belle's Stratagem," or "Digby Grant" in the "Two Roses," or "Mathias," "Shylock," "Richelieu," or "Hamlet." But Saturday to many a loyal old "first-nighter" will be doubly-nay, even pathetically memorable, for no longer will the sweet voice and true womanly passion of Miss Ellen Terry thrill the packed audience through and through, no more will the spell-bound occu" I pants of box and amphitheatre alike struggle to swallow the lumps in their throats, and stifle the fast swelling tears at the story of love's hopes and fears as portrayed by the most renowned actress of the Victorian era. Another "Margaret" will occupy the boards with Sir Henry Irving in the person of Miss Cecilia Loftus, a young lady from the other side, who attracted the great trage- dian's notice whilst playing in his eon's play called "Lovelace," in New York, and no doubt is entertained that she will acquit herself satisfactorily in her new role. But to old habitues of the Lyceum, Miss Terry will long be missed. It is sixteen years since "Faust" was last seen at the Lyceum, but Eilen Terry's "Margaret" is not for- gotten. The spell which 'has bound the names of Sir Henry Irving and Miss Terry together for so long, has at last been sun- dered, and old play-goers will watch with keen interest the effect of the Lyceum's new leading lady on the great actor's impersona- tion of "Mephistopheles." Sir Henry Irving has been a popular favourite for so long that his early struggles have almost passed out of memory. The attainment of eminence in the theatrical profession is a veritable "greasy pole" to all men, and Sir Henry has had his share of difficulties and doubts at the commencement of his career, as all other great actors have had. Perhaps in no other profession is Fame's greasy pole so difficult to climb, but one thing is certain that success follows merit only, and that as sure as night follows day, a bishopric is within the reach of the curate who marries the daughter of a peer; the young medico who successfully cultivates a first-class draw- ing-room manner, may one day be phy- sician to the King, and the subalbern who fights and runs away, may yet live to be a General, but all the tricks in Christendom will not convince the great "B.P." that a man is an actjor of the first water unless he be to the business born. The successful im- personator must have a vivid imagination, must play a fictitious part which he has not himself conceived; he must be possessed of great physical and mental self-control; be | must have great powers of mimicry, and his features must be of iron, yet highly mobile; he must be well-read and of apt powers Of observation-there are no illiterate men in the front rank of the actors of to-day—and he must be a pastmaster in the arts of elocution and subtle fascinations of oratory. All these, but more especially the first and last, are the qualifications which are so highly gene- rated within the personality of Sir Henry Irving, who is, perhaps, the greatest actor who ever frod the stage. Dining with the "Savages" at a "welcome- home" dinner the other day, Sir Henry rather astonished his friends by observing that after his theatrical alarums and excur- sions to and fro across the Atlantic, "it was none the less gratifying to him to breathe again the invigorating air of his native Strand. because as they all knew, Sir Henry was born at a spot near Glastonbury in Somersetshire, on the 6th of February, 1838. Tt was, of course, in a purely figurative sense, that Sir Henry's designation of the Strand as his birth-place were used, for, as he said, "A sense of having been born iu that ancient thoroughfare is common to all actors." The illusion may be the more pronounced in Sir Henry's case owing to the fact that whilei1 -still a child his father brought him to Lon- don, and sent him to old Dr. Pinche's School in George-road, Lombard-street, from which, on half-holidays and Sundays, the future tragedian of the Lyceum invariably wan- dered down into the Strand, which was fifty years ago, as it remains to-day, the light round which flutter all the flies of the the- atrical firmament. Here, to the nostrils of young Henry Brodribb the flavour of the sawdust and the ginger^beer bottles, with which his memories of the strolling player in the West country were associated, were most! pronounced, and here he learned the gargon of the old-time exponent of the "legi- timate drama," and decided that his only hope of success in life lay "on the boards." At the school he astonished the ancient pedagogue with his snatches from the plays of the time, and his knowledge of Kean, Macready, Mrs. Siddon, and the rest of the old school of actors whose names were then familiar as household words. Henry Brod- ribb (he had not yet assumed the name of Irving) became the idol of the school, and his recitations and- readings of well-known authors were in great demand. At 14 he entered the office of an East India mer- chant, but being hopelessly stage-struck, and the work in the merchant's office being tedious and galling to the high spirits of the youtfh he "chucked his job," as Kipling would say, and went "on the road." Those were the days of the *'romance" of the stage- playing in barns and "pubs," travelling mostly on foot, with the prop- fduiig over the shoulders like a Punch and Jmlv theatre. 0/ and only occasionally "coach-borne," doing the races and fairs in summer a la Godlin and Short, and picking up a hand-to-mouth I existence from one year's end to another. History has not recorded how much of this "business" Irving saw, but doubtless there was a forecaster of it before he got his first "regular" engagement, which was in 1865, at the Lyceum Theatre, Sunderland, at which time Irving was twenty-seven ir-ars of | agQ, and had been playing with the jiura- mers of the road for some time. Ij is re- 'I corded that his appearance as "Orleans" in "Richelieu" was a failure, and that his second appearance as "Cleomenes" in "A Wintel'¡¡ Tale," he had stage fright and boltjd, tiiaugh, fortunately, he had sufficient resence of mind to scream out to the remaining actcr on the stage, "Come on to the market-place, and I will tell thee further, which was, of course, a quotation from another play, but was sufficient to cover his retreat. Irving's experience of the drama in provinces continued with varying luck for about two years, and then, through the instrumentality of Johnny Toole, he made his first appearance in London. The part I was but a small one, however, and Irving returned to the provinces, where his many clever impersonations had made for him a I name, and where he was always certain of I a livelihood. Many years have passed away, but still Johnny Toole remains Irving's closest friend. "Johnny" has, of course, said "Good-bye" to the stage for ever, and has retired into a snug little villa by the sad sea waves to linger upon his laurels; and the happiesti hours of his life are when his old friend of the Lyceum runs down for a week- end, and tales of the stage, and the ups and downs, and the freaks and follies of stage life are resuscitated and laughed over again and again. Toole was the first actor of Lon- don experience to give Irving a,helping hand, and the Knight of the Lyceum has never forgotten the fact. In his heart he cherishes a warm spot for Johnny Toole, and the affection is returned to the full. Every year, in chill October;, when Irving and the Ly- ceum Company sail from Tilbury for the United States, the great actor finds in his cabin on arrival at the docks1, a beautiful array of autumn roses, set in a large basket, representing an ancient galley with se.t sail, and inscribed, "Good luck, and God bless you. yours truly-Tooley." Irving first became recognised as a man of unusual ability by his appearance as "Dori- court" in "The Belle's Stratagem" at the St. James' Theatre; and subsequently as "Rawdon Scudamore" in Boucicault's "Hunted Down." Between this and the pro- duction of "The Bells" at the Lyceum, Irving played many parts, but it was the latter piece that placed him in the front rank of the actors of the time. His first appearance at the Lyceum was in a play called "Fan- chette," in which the actor had made but a sorry show. After "The Bells" came Mr. Will's "Charles I. which ran for seven months, followed by "Eugene Arum," by the same author; and "Richelieu," which had a run of 120 nights. The next year he played "Hamlet" for 20Q nights, and later on "Mac- beth" for 80 nights. Irving had now become the central figure at the Lyceum, though he did not attain to its management till 1878. Here Henry Irving has made his name world- famous, and that of his theatre. Here he has done his best work, and his worst; his best in such parts as "Mathias" in "The Bells," 'Louis XI. "Hamlet," "Shy- lock," "Richard III." "The Vicar of Wake- field," and the ecclesiastic, "Wolseley," "Richelieu" and "Becketa"; his worst in the great heroic parts of "Macbeth" and "Othel- lo" in the terrific character of "Lear," and in the terrific character of "Lear," and in the Passionate "Romeo." The great actor, Sal- vini, writes of Irving in his autobiography with warm praise, but adds: "He should, however, for his own sake, avoid playing such Parts as "Romeo" and "Macbeth," which are Hot adapted to his somewhat scanty physical IUld vocal powers." Irving's pourtrayal of Coriolanus last year was but another illus- tration of the great Italian's text. $ir Henry has been described by one humorous biographer as an American actor I who is sometimes seen in Britain, and cer- tainly during the last decade there has been Wnple justification for the soft impeachment. Sir Henry's doings during the last twelve months' may be taken as a fair example of his annual programme for several years past. lie opened the Lyceum at the end of April last with "Coriolanus and Volumnia, and closed, after a week of revivals, on July 20th. On October 5th Sir Henry, with Miss Terry anjd (the" Lyceum Company sailed in the Minnehaha for New York; they have now re- turned, and will re-open at the Lyceum with "Faust" on Saturday. During the past twelve months, therefore, Sir Henry has been seen in this country just twelve weeks. But. of course, tihe great actor cannot be blamed for his undisguised attachment to our bro- thers across the Herring Pond. His tours through the States are like a triumphal pic- nic, and all Americans clamour to honour him. Her millionaires are proud of his presence at their table; her great societies delight to inscribe his name upon tileir rolls of membership; her universities plead with him to deliver their annual lectures; and last, but not least, the shekels roll in in a merry and golden stream, with here and there a veritable windfall of dollars tumbling and rumbling, jumbling and stumbling like the falls of Lodore. Sir Henry cannot, wit- ness to the truth of the axiom that no man l finds honour in his own country, but foolish I indeed would he be did he turn a deaf ear to the storms of applause with which our American cousins invariably greet him. J FREDERICK ANNESLEY.

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