Charles F. (Charles Frederick) Forshaw.

In memoriam; tributes to the memory of the late Sir Henry Irving online

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Sir Henr







Works by CHAS. F, FORSHAW, LL.D.


Wauiicriags of Imagery : a Volume of Poems.

Thoughts in the Gloaming ; a Volume of Poems.

Yorkshire Poets, Past and Present. Four Volumes.

The Wil.1 Boar of Cliff Wood.

The Village Wedding.

The Poets of Keighley, Bingley and IMstrict. 2 Editions.

Origiual Poems, pp. 320.

The Poetical Work^ of the Rey. Thomas Garratt, M.A., pp. 320.

A Legend of St. Bees and other Poems, pp. 256.

The Poets of the Spen Valley.

Yorkshire Sonneteers.

The Ballads and Songs of Yorkihire.

My Little Roiuanee.

Hannah Dale.

The Teeth, and How to Save Them.

How to Manage Children's Teeth.

Tobacco and its Effect on the Teeth. 5 Ertiiions.

Alcohol and its Influence on the Body. 6 Editions.

Cocaine for Tooth Extraction.

Stammering : Its Causes and Cure.

Special Constableship in Bradford.

Freemasonry : A Centenary Ode.

Sonnets of Lakeland.

Seaside Sonnets.

Ten Days in Lakeland.

Memories of Manxiand.

Lays of Yuletide.

Sonnets on the Months.

Poetical Tributes to Gladstone, pp. 301.

Naughty but Nice.

Ma-wnic Musings, pp. 208.

The Village Church.

Poetical Tributes Uj Her Majesty Queen Victoria, pp. 312.


TooTMiLLs Ltd., Printers and Pdblishers,

Drewton St. and Charles St.

Now Ready.

By the same




Crown 8vo.

300 Pages.

Bound in Cloth.

Price 5/-.

London : George Kenning, 1

Great Queen


Tributes to the Memory ot the Late
Sir Henry Irving.


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Last Playbill of Sir Hlnry Irving

. . AND . .

Irving Commemoration Mhdal.








F.R.S.L. F.R. Hist. 5.

Honorary ■©ENTAL Surgeon to the actors' association.


London :

Elliot Stock,

62, Paternoster Row

T. ;





n.P. LL.D. LITT. D. D.C.L.



Vice-Fresident of the Actors' Association.

These pages are inscribed with every
expression of profound esteem and
respect, . . .





LL.D. D.C.L. LiTT. D. M.P.
President of the Society of Yorkshiremen, 1903-5.


HE Editor, Dr. Forshaw, has asked me to write
a Prefatory Note for this his Book of Poetical
Tributes to Sir Henry Irving.

To do so is to me a privilege, and a very sorrowful
pleasure ; for I know, judging from experience, that
Dr. Forshaw's book will be worthy of his subject,
while his subject itself appeals to my inmost and inten-
sest feelings of admiration for Sir Henry Irving during
his life and work and of honour and respect for his
memory after his death, and after his Nation's loss,

a loss the sense of which it has most worthily marked
by the decree of its supremest approach to the gift
of immortality by entombment in Westminster Abbey.

Never shall I forget that World's Tribute within
and without the Abbey ! In numbers, in rank (in its
best sense), in its representation of the realms of Letters
and Art and Science ; in quiet and solemn grief for
greatness departed ; in outward expressions of poignant
regret and respect ; in marks of suppressed sorrow ; — the
tribute was such as I have never before witnessed
at any State funeral.

The memory of the Actor's Art has been said
to be of all Arts the most ephemeral ; yet that scene, that
concourse, that committal of his ashes to the Com-
pany of the Immortals — that moment of silent sorrow —
will last in memory and in history for ever.

So also will the story of Henry Irving's rise in
the Republic of Art and Letters, of which he was a
President, remain in the hearts and minds of the people.

To Irving we owe the highest and best interpre-
tation, in our days and age, of dramatic literature ;
to him we owe our familiarity with the greatest master-

pieces of dramatic and imaginative art ; to him the
world owes its clearest insight into the perfect beauties,
and the mysteries, of Shakespeare's Plays. No more,
nothing higher, can be said of any man.

R. I. P.

The Library,

House of Commons,

December, 1905.


'y vji'HEX the tragic death of Sir Henry Irving occurred
at the Midland Hotel, Bradford, in the early
moments of Saturday morning, October 14th,
1905, I felt convinced that during the next few days
many people would write tributary poems in memory
of the great actor. I was not mistaken in this belief,
for, during the following week I had my attention
drawn to over a hundred. Possibly the first poetical
tribute composed was my own Sonnet on page 64,
which was written within a few hours of Sir Henry's
death, and appeared in the Bradford Daily Telegraph
on the morning of his decease.

As an honorary official of the Actors' Association
of which Sir Henry was President, and as a Fellow

of the Royal Society of Literature, of which Sir Henry
had been an Honorary Fellow since 1895, I determined
to collect these poems together and publish them in
volume form as a Bradford Memorial to the distinguished
actor. I also invited the Senior Physician to the
Actors' Association for Bradford (Dr. RabagUati) to
collaborate with me by writing " An Appreciation of
Sir Henry." That the Doctor should have consented
to do this seems to me to be pecuharly appropriate
for, among some half-dozen practitioners who were
hastily summoned when it was found that Sir
Henry was in extremis, it fell to Dr. Rabagliati (accord-
ing to the Yorkshire Post), to " pronounce the great
actor dead."

For some days after the death of Sir Henry, the
newspapers were flooded with anecdotes about him.
These alone would fill a goodly sized book, and should
be collected and issued in this form. Many of them
were as " thrice-told tales," however, and would be
more familiar to my readers than the two I quote.

Sir Albert Rollit has written me an early
reminiscence of Sir Henry Irving, indicating his great
power as an Actor, long before this had become
generally recognised.

Sir Albert says : "I have known Sir Henry Irving
most of my life. I used to meet him at the Savage
Club when it was primitively, not to say primaevally,
lodged in a wigwam in Covent Garden, and his portrait
appears in the picture of the usual Saturday Night
Dinner of the Club, painted by Bartlett."

" I also met him at times at the house of our mutual
Friend, Tom Hood, at Penge, in the late sixties. One
evening there, about 1868, the conversation turned
upon Irving's ability as an actor, and it was joined
in by our host, by Rose (Arthur Sketchley), Molloy,
the song-writer, whose " White Daisy " was written,
composed, and illustrated at one of these happy home-
gatherings, and I think Artemus Ward, and others. One
of the party supported his opinion that Irving's histrionic
powers were great, by saying how he had succeeded
in making his companions on a walking-tour begin to
suspect that something wrong had happened to a friend,
one of the walking party, and that Irving was the
cause. I speak from memory and from long ago, but
I think the party were having their pic-nic lunch at
the Glen of The Dargle, in County Dubhn. During
lunch Irving and this friend had more than once
high words, but each time the others apparently

made peace. The walk being resumed, there were
more quarrels, and, after a time, Irving and the friend
were missing. Some of the party turned back, and
at last met Irving alone. He was apparently ^unable
or unwilUng to give a satisfactory account of the absent
friend. Moreover, there were some signs of a struggle
having taken place, and I think a blood-stain was
observed on Irving's shirt-cuff or front. Anyhow, the
part was so well acted, that the walking-party began
seriously to believe that something had gone wrong
with Irving's friend, and something for which Irving
was accountable. Of course, the whole incident had
been preconcocted by the two, and I beheve a dinner
was lost and won, and eaten by the whole party, upon
the strength of Irving's abiUty to give the counterfeit
presentment of reaUty to the suspicion."

" The last time I met Sir Henry Irving was at our
recent Pilgrims' Dinner of Welcome to the American
Ambassador, Mr. Whitelaw Reid, when Irving recited
most admirably, but, I thought, with perhaps just a
little less than his usual force, some verses written for
the occasion by the Poet Laureate, Mr. Alfred Austin."

The second anecdote has been supplied me by Dr. E.
Wearne Clarke, (Physician to the Actors' Association

for Chesterfield), and was related to him quite recently
by a prominent member of Sir Henry's late Company.
" There was at the Lyceum an old man, who for
twenty years had been limehght man. One evening,
at rehearsal, he happened to drop one of his slides,
which fell at Sir Henry's feet, narrowly missing his
head, as he stood at the wings. Sir Henry heard
the crash of the falling broken glass, but could not see
from where it came, and soon forgot all about it. The
stage-manager, however, highly indignant, dismissed
the man forthwith. The poor, old hmehght man
remained out of employment for about three weeks'
and then Sir Henry called the stage manager to him,
and said, " Mr. Loveday, where is that old man with
the white beard, who used to work that hme ? " The
story was told him. He shook his head, and said,
" Oh, accidents will happen, Loveday ! I want him
back ; I hke my old people round me. Please send
for him." And, turning to his personal attendant, he
added : " Walter, bring the man to me." The poor
limehght man was found and, quaking with fear, was
introduced into Irving's presence. He blurted out,
" I could not help it, sir ! it was an accident." " Yes,
yes," rephed Sir Henry ; "I know, accidents happen
to us all ; never fear," And, turning to his stage

manager — " Mr. Loveday, please re-instate this man
in his old place, and pay him all arrears as if he had
been at work." And, putting his hand in his pocket
he gave the man a sovereign, " There, there, old
friend, you and I are not going to part just yet." It
was a tearful and grateful limelight man that left
Sir Henry's room that night."

It may not be out of place to say here that the
poems comprising this anthology have been written by
authors in almost all ranks of life — from gentlemen
who have enjoyed all the advantages of a distinguished
University career, down to men whose position in
Society is of the humblest possible nature, from an
octogenarian to a youth who has barely attained his
sixteenth year.

My thanks are due to the Authors of the poems,
and to the Editors of the newspapers appended thereto,
for their kind permission to use them in this work.
I also acknowledge my indebtedness to Sir Albert
RolHt, who most kindly suggested that he should
write the Foreword ; to Sir Charles Wyndham, for
his sanction to include his name in the dedication ;
to Dr. Rabagliati for what must universally be felt to
be his most eloquent "Appreciation"; to the Editor

of the Yorkshire Daily Observer for his permission to
reproduce Sir Henry's last signature, which was attached
to a sketch (by Master F, Mobbs, of Bradford),
on the evening preceding his demise ; to Mr. Chris.
Falcon (advance manager of " The DarUng of the
Gods ") for the loan of the block of Sir Henry's last
playbill, and to Messrs. Spink & Son, 17 and 18, Picca-
dilly, London, for their courtesy in lending me the
block of their interesting Irving Medal, bearing a couplet
from Mr. Rhoades' poem (vide page 204). This unique
souvenir should be in the hands of all lovers of the
memory of Sir Henry Irving.

In conclusion, I may say that any profits resulting
from the sale of this volume will be given to the
Benevolent Fund of the Actors' Association.


Baltimore House,


December i8ih, 1905.






Senior Physician in Bradford to the Actors'
Association and the Music Hall Artistes'

' HE bare facts of most lives are soon told ; but
the significance of the facts is not, as a rule,
so easily gauged. Particularly is this the case
with distinguished Uves. That men are born, that
they hve and die, sums up every hfe that ever Uved
and passed away. But the relation of the hfe to the
time and circumstances of it, and the message which
it expounded, these are the things that give it import

and distinction ; these are the things which make it
stand out from the common run. In the case of the
subject of this notice, this is particularly so. The
years 1838 to 1905, the dates which bound Sir Henry
Irving's life, are practically co-terminous with the
reign of the great Queen Victoria, and with what is
known as the Victorian Era. It was a time characterised,
perhaps more than by anything else, by a great and
widespread increase of material wealth. Comparing
it with the immediately preceding period which closed
the European wars connected with the great Napoleon,
the general well-being of the people was greatly im-
proved. If there were still mutterings about distress
they were supposed to be accidental, and it was beUeved
that a continuance of the general prosperity for even
a short time longer would suffice to put an end to them.
At least, it was seen that man's power over nature,
or at any rate, over the material part of it, was greatly
increased. The inventions in machinery which had
been commenced some 40 or 50 years anterior to it,
had culminated during the Victorian Era, and the
consequences were not only ^a great improvement
in the general well-being, but also, perhaps, too great
a tendency to place dependence and to lay stress on
the grosser forms of material comfort. Solidity rather

than elegance, strength rather than grace, comfort
rather than refinement, seem to characterise the age.
And notwithstanding the existence throughout the
period of a minority who, like Ruskin and Carlyle,
protested against the materialistic spirit of their time,
it was still possible for Matthew Arnold to say of it
that its upper class was materialised, its middle class
vulgarised, and its lowest class brutalised. Even yet
there is hardly a sohtary thinker or investigator of
science who does not accept the prevailing opinion
that matter is the cause of energy, or who would not
be called visionary if he adopted the far more com-
prehensive view that energy is the cause of matter ;
that the universe in which we live is a kosmos of powers
which take to themselves or create material things in
order to manifest or declare themselves. Consequently,
the prevailing spirit of the time tended, as it still does,
while admitting, and even strenuously asserting the
reign and dominion of law in material things, to look
with scarce concealed scorn on those few thinkers who
assert that there is purpose or meaning in the passing
of man for a short space over this planet, or who recog-
nise any will but their own as dominant thereon.

In such an age it is evident than an artist has
but few and poor opportunities. His idealism is apt

to rush into opposition and conflict with the materiahstic
spirit, and lead to a collision which he is most anxious
to avoid. Let us see how Sir Henry Irving seized
upon and improved them. John Henry Brodribb,
who adopted the stage name of Irving, was born at
Keinton-Mandeville, in Somerset, on 6th February,
1838. The house in which he was born has just been
offered for sale, and, notwithstanding its connection
with the great actor just departed, and with the
glamour of his name and memory, did not fetch £600,
so that it is quite evident that whatever other factors
went to the making of Irving, this world's wealth
was not one of them. It is commonly said that Irving's
character was affected, and his career determined
rather through the influence of his mother than of
his father, who is described as having been of a some-
what restless and undecided character, while his
mother, being the reverse of undecided, took her boy
when he was little more than a baby, to her sister,
Mrs. Penberthy, at Helston, in order that he should
breathe the fresher air of her own native Cornwall,
rather than the confined atmosphere of London. Un-
decided, Irving was not, but the restlessness of the
father's character may easily have been translated
into the versatility shewn by the actor, as indeed it

appears to have been. However this may have been,
and as causes are always multiple and no man is the
product of any one factor, Irving was early sent into a
city office, where, however, his destiny did not long
allow him to remain. During this time, so strong were
the drawings of the boy towards his subsequent career,
that we find him at the age of 15, joining an elocution
class, holding its meetings in Gould Square, Fenchurch
Street. He is described as at that time, rather tall
for his age, dressed in a black cloth suit with a round
jacket, and deep white linen collar turned over it.
His face was very handsome, with a mass of black
hair, and eyes bright and flashing with intelhgence.
Being called upon for his first recitation, he fairly
electrified the class with an unusual display of elocu-
tionary skill and dramatic intensity. The same qualities
were displayed by young Brodribb after the class
changed its place of meeting to Sussex Hall, Leadenhall
Street, where at the amateur performances then given,
his services as play-actor and stage manager proved
invaluable. About this time, as we are informed in
the life written for the Era newspaper, itself in turn
making acknowledgment to the appreciative " Record
and Review " of his life, by Charles Hiatt, young Irving
made the acquaintance of an actor, named Wilham

Hoskins, a prominent member of Phelps's company
at Sadler's Wells, who, perceiving the latent ability
of the would-be actor, encouraged him by every means
in his power. So interested was he in the youth that
he gave him every morning an hour's lesson in elocution
and those other arts which go to the making of an
actor. Little could Hoskins at that time realise to
what an eminence his young protege was destined
to attain. Irving at this time also learned dancing and
fencing in order to make himself more proficient in
what was evidently going to be his life pursuit. Hoskins
quitted this country for Australia, but prior to his
departure, he introduced Irving to Phelps, who offered
him an engagement ; but as the youth wished to get
experience before playing in the capital, Hoskins gave
him a letter saying, " You will go upon the stage.
When you want an engagement present that letter,
and you wiU find one."

Young Brodribb's genius was too much attracted
to the stage to be able to make any effective resistance
to the temptations of a mercantile career. Notwith-
standing the imploring protests of his mother, who
felt that all her care and prevision were about to be
thrown away by the folly and impetuosity of the youth

whose interests were so dear to her heart, he deter-
mined to be done with commercial life for ever, and
to follow his bent. The quahties transmitted through,
if not by, a restless and undecided father and a prudent
and cautious mother, resulted in this, that at i8 years
of age, the youth threw away the prospects of com-
petency which the prudence of his mother had provided
for him, and determined to yield to the versatility and,
perhaps unconscious love of change and inherent
dishke of the hum-drum of hfe, and of monotony which
he inherited from his father, and to trust his fortunes
to the stage. He had hstened to the song of the
sirens which was drawing him to the broken waves,
whose whirhng and tumultuous waters threatened
to engulph his frail bark, or to dash it against
the hidden rocks ; but he knew that if he got through,
he would reach quiet waters, extending to the shores
of eternal peace, and hghted by the beauty producing
sun of unclouded splendour. And like so many other
aspiring youths, he determined to risk all. His first
engagement, secured by the presentation of Hoskins's
letter, was obtained at a new theatre called the Lyceum,
about to be opened by Mr. E. D. Davies at Sunderland
in September, 1856. The Crimean war was just over,
and the people of England, deprived of the time neces-

sary to reflect upon the causes and follies that led
to that war, and other consequences which were to
follow upon it, had before them, although they did
not know it, the trials of the terrible Indian Mutiny,
which were destined to shake their power to its foun-
dations, the while it afforded them the opportunity
of developing that supreme political sagacity which
the foreign and colonial experience of the United King-
dom has enabled it to graft on its national character,
and to manifest in so striking a way. But what did
the playgoers of Sunderland know or care about these
things ? Not much. Nor did they greatly trouble
themselves about the aspiring actor who, cast for the
part of the Duke of Orleans, in " Richeheu," spoke
the first lines in the play, " Here's to our enterprise ! "
and who, from his splendid white hat and feathers
to the tips of his shoes, was a perfect picture. Much
more interested were they in the further conquest of
the material part of nature and in organising emigration
to America and Austraha, in order to gain possession
of the agricultural and mineral returns which these
new countries offered, in harvests so rich and so abun-
dant. After playing in several other parts, Irving
left Sunderland, although Mr. Davies would have
liked to retain his services ; obtaining an engagement

at the Edinburgh Theatre Royal, then under the
management of Mr. R. H. Wyndham. Here it was
that Henry Irving spent the most severe part of his
apprenticeship. He played again as the Duke of
York, in " RicheUeu," to the Cardinal of Barry SulUvan.
In Edinburgh he also acted with such distinguished per-
formers as Miss Helen Faucit, Mrs. Sterhng, Madame
Celeste, John Vandenhoff, Charles Dillon, Benjamin
Webster and Frederick Robson. In Edinburgh also,
he met J. L, Toole for the first time, the friendship
between the two remaining unbroken to the end. Here
Irving's education as an actor may be said to have
been completed, or, if not completed (for education
is never complete till death), set up upon those hnes
which were so characteristic of it in later hfe. In
1859, on the occasion of his benefit before leaving
Edinburgh, he was for the first time called upon to
make one of those speeches to the audience, for which
he subsequently became so famous.

In 1859 Irving went to London, but had no success
there, although Sir Augustus Harris pressed him to
remain. He found his way to Glasgow and thence
to Manchester, where he remained engaged in the
performance of a variety of parts and occasionally

making short excursions to neighbouring places, till

It was in this year that he returned to London,
where he practically remained till the last, achieving
his highest distinction as an actor. He played Rawdon
Scudamore in " Hunted Down," at the St. James's
Theatre. A short and not very successful visit to
Paris occurred in 1866, where he went to support Sothem.
In 1867 he was again in London at the Princess's,
playing as Major Wellington de Boots and in other
parts. Afterwards he appeared at St. Martin's HaJl,
where he played for the first time with Ellen Terry
in " Katherine " and " Petruchio." Other London
theatres were visited, the Queen's, the Haymarket,
the Vaudeville, &c., until 1871, when he went to the
Lyceum. In 1869 Irving married the daughter of

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Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Frederick) ForshawIn memoriam; tributes to the memory of the late Sir Henry Irving → online text (page 1 of 8)