Charles F. (Charles Frederick) Forshaw.

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

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Thou wilt not leave me to cremated dust,
But still be with me in my latest strife.

Its shadowy scenes and dark perplexities
And the great spaces of the vast unknown.

Holding me up in dire extremities

Whilst going on to know as I am known.

On rolls the world ! the seasons come and go !

Under Thy hand, my Father, Life rolls on ;
And whether my estate be high or low

I never am one moment left alone.

I may in silence, or in sealing death,
My very dearest, sweetest friend forget.

But ever round Thine own, and underneath
Thy strong — Thine everlasting arms are met.

Abide with me for it is eventide,

Thou who hast borne with me the toilsome day ;
Rest with me in the twiUght, Guardian — Guide !

Till home-Ught cheers the yet remaining way.



100



Amy C. Bull.



Death, with pale finger, now hath beckon'd thee.

That summons, urgent, swift, thou must obey,
Solving thyself that mighty mystery —

Proving at last, what thou didst oft pourtray.

Within a few short hours thou didst exchange
A death assumed for death without disguise.

Say, didst thou find it terrible and strange

To meet Death thus — alone — in dread surprise ?

By thy magician's art there lived anew
Figures long vanished in the misty past —

Emperor and soldier, priest and crafty Jew

Once more were mighty, thro' thy glamour cast.

Now thou art gone from off Life's changing stage,
Think not thy name in English hearts can perish.

Thou for true Art didst strive from youth to age ;
We, as we mourn thee, will thy memor}- cherish.

Now comes thy call to learn another part —
A part unguessed at in our earthly lore ;

But, lest the Unknown should dismay thine heart.
Thy Teacher stands within Heaven's open door.

Bristol Times and Mirror.



lOI



Florence Burgoyne.



This was thy temple, Henry,* and inspired,
Thine, and the souls of other men of might,

The lofty thought by high-born genius fired—
Alas ! Hke thee, now passed, and it is night

With us, because ye passed !

God is this all

Long fight— short triumph, then— the funeral Pall ?

It is not all ! " There's a Divinity,

That shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may " —
From life's first Spring, a continuity,

Of purpose, running through our Ufe's short day —
Souls have fine issues that are finely touched,
And Ufe doth triumph though earth's hopes are crushed.

We have not seen the last of Irving — No ! —

The Educator falls — his work goes on :
The sun may sink the Western hills below

But grateful Nature whispers " 'Tis well done,"
And her great heart goes with him through the sky,
Reflecting far his parting light on high !

* The Lyceum.



102



Thomas Burns, F.R.S.L. M.S.A. F.R.S.A.I.



" Into Thy hands, Lord, into Thy hands.'



I.

Bright in the vigour of youth's dawning day,
Touch' d with the flame that leaps from fortune's shrine.
His pow'rs all diadem' d with rays divine
To purge the stage and glorify the play

He gave to Truth and Virtue freedom's sway ;
All, all but truth dropp'd dead-born from his Une ;
He made immortal words as mean as mine
And brush' d false beauties with their stains away.

Men left the bar, the pulpit, and the throne,
They came from courts of state and fields of war.
Where honour shivers on the brink of fear,

To see him turn the trifle to a star,
By that great talisman of wit alone
He burst the native founts of smile and tear.



103



II.

Cast in the groove of thoughts' supremest mouldy
The Artist's zeal was equal to his toil,
To trifles dead, naught could his ardour foil
What had he then — a science to unfold.

Life was his seed-time — he was brave and bold —
A field to cultivate of human soil,
A conscious might all ready to uncoil,
A chance to win achievements manifold,

The hmits of a potency to prove.

From it as from a spring a waving sea

Of charms divine and joys undreamt would flow.

Endued with lovely immortality,
To make a sweet seraphic purpose move
Through all the throbbing pulse of life below.

III.

Aye true to genius, and as warm as true,
He won his way by swelling with the tide.
Sworn to no Master he would swim or ride
And drive his wares to any coast he knew,

Or shape the phrase to moderation's hue ;
Burn in the tropics, freeze in icy pride.
With giant vices, or with joys allied ;
When shallow greatness rose he changed its view ;

Alike in nothing but his varying style.
His gold of oratory ne'er grew dim,
Could he not cajole, counsel or confound,

Affront, befriend, indulge, repove and trim ;
He knew each feint, and trip, and mental foil
Turn round to smile and smile again to round,

104



IV.

His mind by Gordian-knot was never bound,
He sounded fertile nature's ebb and flow,
Its joys, its sorrows, and its depths of woe,
Those unseen currents that so few can sound,

A bright interpreter in him we found ;

His voice on music's scale would ripple low,
Like sweet sun-rays upon the winter snow,
Through tremblings exquisite it throbbed and wound

Amongst the laughing and the gay guerdon,
That sought the benison of mirror'd power,
Which nobler than the heritage of kings

Drew all his thoughts and actions into flower.
With wrapt magician grace each smile and frown
Fell pure and beautiful from Art's fair wing.

V.

He found the way of Art thick set with thorns,
But he came to it shod with golden sense ;
Though soft and tranquil his were powers intense
To crush the plague-stained winds, that came with scorn.

By such his heart was pierced but not o'erborne ;
No faint exotic symbol of pretence
O'ershaded once his high posied excellence ;
No veil was ever o'er his honour worn ;

Unsullied as the glory of the stars

He wore the purple round his manly breast
Flashing truth's falchion by an ermined arm,

Or standing on wit's bridge with lance at rest ;
An undimm'd light as true and bright as Mars ;
His very name a word with which to charm.

105



VI.

He never failed to polish and refine,
The wild-ey'd tragic spirit was his own,
That which in Shakespeare and in Otway shone ;
His breath revived the stage and made it shine,

When morals sank and threatened to decline;
Taste, that eternal vagrant left alone
Had sprained her wing and could not reach a throne,
When Irving came to place his work divine

His whole ambition was to serve his kind,
He rose to conquer, do what duty call'd,
His peers gave way exalted as they were ;

Years following years, soon left his compeers bald,
So rich his art so life-like and refined ;
To know him was to honour and revere.

VII.

Ennobled by himself, and loved by all,

In action faithful, and in judgment clear.

Statesman of his Art, courteous and sincere.

And generous to every vahd call ;
What fruits he gathered he let gently fall,

He'd learned to give for love, when want stood near ;

Few knew how oft his charter stemm'd the tear ;

Well-fared the poor who did his care enthral ;
He made the pleasures of his realm the bait

To wile the chance — led dupe from wild desire —

And mould the lady from the menial slave,
A comrade safe, a captain to admire.

A prince in favours never known to hate ;

Aye wilHng in his judgment faults to wave.

1 06



VIII.
Was he not then a minister from heaven
f^ Missioned in mercy to our fallen sphere,

Threading the maze of mind with purpose clear ;

The beauty liveried to sweetness given,
Sent like a flower the barren waste to leaven,

Or as the glow that morn's fair aspect wears
Refreshing nature and rebuking tears,

Or shaking out the joys that mirth makes even,
While stars of meaner merit fled away ;

Just in one instant be it now confess'd

Had one arisen, none again may rise
Him in a tragic action to outjest,

'Twould take a Milton's genius to display

The sweets that kings and senates did surprise.

IX.

Words that our Shakespeare set to Uve and shine,
Serenely pure and yet divinely strong,
How he could pour those burning words along.
Prune the luxuriant, the uncouth refine.

And emphasise the sense in phrase or line,
How polish all and hp them like a song.
Make those move smoothest that obstruct the tongue ;
Fill thousands drunk with joy instead of wine.

Yea ! some there were so lovely — that the eyes

Dreamt of them in their night when he was gone —
Whence all emotion angel-Uke came forth

Clad in the vesture that might grace a throne,
Set on the fleecy bosom of blue skies
Whence the celestial music has its birth.

107



X.

But death has struck his soul, the last deep chime
Has toU'd, and life's brief hour has passed away,
Eternity's undialled, jewelled day,
Whose voice is tremulous with lyric rhyme.

And songs that suck their pathos out of time,
Where in the Better Land he wears the bay ;
A higher role too, he has now to play
In those unscathed eternities of prime.

Death harms him not, it but transplants his soul,
And gives it fuller beauty and more light,
Those who are good on Earth improve in Heaven.

Love there is purified and made more bright,
Nobihty finds there no piece-meal dole
Now, what he wants and what he gets are even.

XL

He made Hfe's march triumphant, trailing not
The colours of his mission in the dust ;
But left what's worthy of a nation's trust,
His pure integrity no tongue dare blot ;

His ashes sleep in England's favourite spot ;
The years may pass and leave their charnel crust.
His name shall never lose its charm through rust ;
Nor shall his marvellous efforts be forgot ;

Like moisture from the crushing of the grape
The worshippers who tread Westminster pile
Shall 'mid the darkness of impending care

Raise signs of propagating hope, and smile
Like the clear rainbow, when it takes its shape
And for each strugghng artist wing a prayer.

io8



XII.

O Thou ! that from Thy throne set on the flood
Of measureless Eternity. Who gave
The mighty thunder to the misty cave,
Who bears upon Thy palms the pure, the good,

Who shakes the nations with Thy timeous nod.
Who stills life's throbbings in the silent grave,
Who bidd'st the winds infuriate the wave.
Who with Thy servant in cold currents stood

To battle for the cause of Truth and Light,
To animate a dying art and fill
The latent seeds of loveliness with life,

To blossom for the harvest to Thy will
To seize on spirit with its notions bright,
With Thee we leave our fellow free from strife.



109



Alfred C. Calmour.



" After life's fitful fever he sleeps well."

Not the deep message of the tolling bell

Will reach him in the tomb ; yet none can tell

What joyous dreams come with eternal rest.

And those who loved him speak in whispers, lest

His spirit take a sadness from their grief,

And heed the sobs that bring their hearts relief.

How often has he in some mighty role

Stirred up the deepest passion of the soul,

Attuning each man's joy and each man's woe

To mystic harmonies that ebb and flow !

And though the voice is hushed, his wondrous speU

Is on our hearts. Sweet, gentle friend, farewell !

Evening Standard



no



Rev. Peter Carey, B.D. LL.B.



Behold ! Here comes my little Pericles !
My solon ! " Little," did I say ? — absurd,
He is a giant. Hath not someone said,
Or sung : " Were I so tall to reach the Pole,
Or grasp the ocean with a span
I must be measured by my soul.
The mind's the standard of the man " ;
But his is such an intricate machine.
And hath such tendencies, that much I fear
Such deHcate aerial faciUties,
Are all too volatile for measurement.
But hear my Pericles discuss Sir Henry
" If thou hast seen Sir Henry's picture guilt.
Thou hast received a lesson that appalls.
The murderer he depicts is now alone;
Alone with his own heart — a restless one
That will not sleep when others sleep
But calls up memories stern and deep,
Of deeds performed, in by-gone times
Scenes of lost innocence and crimes. —



III



O Conscience ! Thine's a fearful power

And felt like hell at midnight hour

All hell was seething in the actor's brain,

With every phase and passion on the strain.

*Tis midnight ! on the mountains brown,

The full, round moon looks calmly down,

Her slanting rays with chasten' d glow

Fall, on the lapping tides below.

There's not a cloud seen in the sky,

The winds are slumbering silently

The boat is ghding with the stream —

A shadow o'er a lovely dream

And on the wave, and on the shore,

But for the lonely boatman's oar

'Twould be the most unearthly night

That ever challenged mortal sight.

Why starts the sleeper from short sleep —

'Tis but the sledge-bells, sweet and deep ;

For this hath timid beauty listened

While on her cheek the pearl-drops gUstened

And after heard of southern cHmes

Where brighter suns and moons arise —

Of scenes of love in other years

Voiced with deep feeling, and heard in tears."

He heard the sledge-bells — God ! that fearful cry,

Might ring on night, only when murder's nigh !

And yet, all's peaceful. Nature is at rest !

All save that nerpe-storm in the quilt torn breast.

In vain may pride that power defy.

The worm that gnaws, that will not die.

112



Dread Alpha, of impending doom

Thou dragg'st to Ught the deed of gloom.

Shun-fly, poor fool, the damned course

That leads to dark — impenitent remorse.

And little Pericles danced round my room,

As though he heard the crack of final doom ;

And his arms wildly flew around my neck

And clung as drowning tar to sinking wreck.

O Pericles — Mercurial Pericles !

My heart has a warm place for thee, Mon fils."



113



£. Wearne Clarke, M.D. B.Sc,



So ! thus the Actor steps from off our Stage !

Leaving his memory as our heritage —

Into the wings — and so behind the Scene

Not now, alas ! as " Straggler of Fifteen,"

In mimic death — for Death has claimed him who

Charmed us so well with " Tales of Waterloo " —

Nor yet, alas ! "Matthias " of " The Bells "—

But a sad tocsin ! which too surely tells

That he, our chief stage oracle is mute !

Break then the strings, and let us hush the luteal

But ! ere we pass ! let us remember right

His own last spoken words, — " Through night to Light"

Placed by another artist — gone before

Into the mouth of the Priest-Chancellor,

He whose presentment in our memory stands !

" Into Thine hands, O God, into Thine hands ! "



114



Mrs. W. Cochrane.



Sleep well ! great soul —
Thy long-earned rest has come ;
And at thy highest goal,
Has been thy welcome home.
'Twas fitting thus to close
The golden gates of day ;
E'er mists of earth arose,
To dim its glorious ray.

And as the Setting Sun,
Tints with more radiant glow,
Than when his race begun.
All earthly scenes below ;
So thy " last words " abide.
The highest point attained ;
Time's streams no more divide,
Eternal rest is gained.

"5



Gifted by word and thought,
Each human heart to read ;
Thy hand a mirror brought,
ReveaUng mortal deed.
With master power displayed,
The living force of Art ;
To thrill, by life portrayed.
In every varied part.

Thus memory shall live

Linked to historic fame

And Britain's sons shall give

Long honour to thy name.

Sleep then in Britain's shrine ;

Her noble dead thy peers.

Till the last call divine

The clouds and shadows clears.



ii6



E. F. Conolly.



Rest here in peace, tired, aged, matchless histrion.
Thrice worthy of the neighbour-dust you mingle with
And to lie king-like bosomed in this haloed shrine
With noblest hearts, full-orbed souls and genius-minds.
With brother-purists, poets, seers, lights and pioneers —
Bayard of the Stage, the mimic Muse's Galahad ;
Who sowed white hly-flowers where others pois'nous

weed.
Strove to sweep temples clean, the traffickers abase.
Nor vainly ! Myriad souls all round a hemisphere
You led star-high ; myriad feet the vulgar rut forsook
At sight of your Excalibur. And now, good Thespian,
The play is done, the curtain's fall'n ; the inner veil

ascends
Upon a vaster, grander, more enduring stage !
A hundred thousand loves embower your little bed
In this cold classic cradle of the dead ; while we
Your fond kinsmen, bring chaplets of undying bays
And in our bosoms plant the fadeless rosemary.
True knight of knights, they knighted you with name

that formed
Virile and rythmic in the raptured mouths of men ;

117



But we shall know you, love you, and remember you
By that your yeoman forbears gave you at the font —
We of your kin and blood, your race and soil, your

tribe and tongue,
Not as the world knew know we, nor shall know,
But as the heaven-sent Brodribb of Keinton

Mandeville,
A great, grand, good, and godly Man of Somerset !
Your master Shakespeare to his little lovemost shire
Bestowed his bones ; and you (were you the arbiter)
Would fain have rested in your beloved sweet birthland ;
But we at least some home-hewn monument will raise
With golden scroll to tell our sons and grandsons' sons
What the world owes to unknown Keinton-Mandeville ;
And in our own Walhalla carve a foremost niche
That we may gaze upon those classic lineaments
With as great pride as grief. But now. Farewell,

farewell ! !
Groan the Dead March, moan the last dirge, sob the

last tear.
Toll the last knell ! ... As last he prayed, so last

pray we :
" In manus Tuas, Domine, in manus Tuas ! "
Requiescat in pace — " in manus Tuas, Domine ! "

Somerset Couniv Gazette.



ii8



Rev. F. St. John Corbctt, M.A. F.R.S.L.



" Into Thy hands, Lord — into Thy hands "
His spirit we commend. Eternal rest
Shall be their portion whom Thou lovest best —

The just exponents of Thy law's demands,

Throughout the wide expanse of many lands

Where Irving played his parts, an honoured guest,
His memory shall live, his name be blest

By whom the actor's art in honour stands.

Bend now, with head uncovered, by his tomb
Within the walls of England's noblest shrine ;
It's graves encircled by a light Divine

Whose rays of love commingle with the gloom.

Left with his laurels 'mid the illustrious dead,

Waiting the Dawn, let Angels guard his bed.

Penrith Observer.



119



W. L. Courtenay, M.A. LL.D.



When Irving died, the Muses wept —

Clio and grave Calliope ;
Terpsichore no longer swept

In choric dance, alert and free ;
Euterpe's flute forgotten lay ;
Urania laid her globe away.

And all kept silence : till there broke
The cry of wild Melpomene,

Which, far and clear, the echoes woke :
While, in the wreck of all her glee,

Bright-eyed Thalia sadly gave

Her tears to grace the actor's grave.



Daily Telegraph,



120



Andrew Crocket.



Death called him, and he quietly passed away,
His strenuous work is done for evermore ;

He went through darkness to the better day
Whose light ne'er fades upon the further shore.

He had a heart ingenuous, full of grace,

Which throbb'd for all things, worthy, good, and pure.
And in his breast love had an honour'd place,

The gift beyond this life which will endure.

He had a tear for pity ; and his soul
Went out in sympathy to all distress ;

Deeprooted was the grace which did control
The power that lifts to perfect blessedness.

His hand was ever ready to bestow
The kindly help, from ostentation free ;

His bosom ever felt the genial glow
Of brotherhood, and its sweet charity.

And sterling friendship claimed him for her own.
Into his breast her regal throne was set ;

And by her hand the fragrant seed was sown,
Wliich did a glorious harvest-time beget.



121



A master mind in the dramatic art,

His being saturated with desire
To show the world that genius can impart

Unto her sons, an aliar-burning fire.

The stage he raised in dignity ; and made
The common things more beautiful and good ;

While vice he lashed in many a fierce tirade,
And veto'd things undignified, and rude.

Its honour was to him an heritage

To be enlarg'd, adorn'd, and beautified ;

And in all worthiness he did engage
That by his tact it would be dignified.

His ashes rest within the sacred fane

Where all our great, and nobleminded lie ;

His laurel wreath will evergreen remain
While love holds sway, and Sol illumes the sky.



122



Andrew Crocket.



S leep on dear heart, the holy rest receiving,

I t was not death but just translation's sway

R emoved thee hence ; and though our souls are grieving

H eaven sent the call and humbly we obey ;

E arth is the better for thy passing through it,

N o stain e'er rested on thine honoured name ;

R ich in benevolence thou didst pursue it,

Y ears proved thou lov'dst it better far than fame.
I ntegrity forsooth did sing thy praises,

R ejoicing in the brightness of thy soul ;

V irtue did safely lead thee through the mazes
I n which the vicious lose their self-control.
N ow Azrael has will'd it and thy life

G reater and grander seems free from earth's strife.



123



G. H. R. Dabbs, M.D. M.R.C.S. J.P.



" Ring down ! " the final word is said.
The matchless voice grown still,

The spirit only is not dead
That fed life's crucible ;

The living, loving Influence broods

Steeped to the eyes in rest,
A dream of old beatitudes,

With memories manifest ;

Since, when our tender dear ones are

Transfigured to our sight,
There burns in heaven another star

To yield our earth new light.



124



G. Bewlay Dalby.



'TwiXT tragedy and comedy,
Like Garrick, Irving stood,

Or smiles or tears like him evoked
As few save those who could.

Of these choice few each name recall-
In old times Betterton.

Later, Macready, Kembler, Phelps,
The Keans, father and son.

Worthy of these compeers was he
Whose loss the nations weep ;

'Tis well that he, hke some of these,
In Westminster should sleep.

Near Garrick's tomb, among the group

Of men of every age ;
Great artists, poets, novelists,

And those who graced the stage.

125



Amid these living's genius shone,
Displayed in many a scene ;

Yet leaves but memories of his work
To tell all he has been.

Great authors' books through ages live,

The artist's pictures too ;
The sculptor's statues, aye betide.

In beauty ever new.

Actors are through traditions known —
Their gestures, voice, and looks ;

Can future ages learn alone
From critics, journals, books.

And thus may Irving's memory live.
Through centuries to come ;

And pilgrims to the Abbey wend
To gaze upon his tomb.



126



G. Bewlay Dalby.



In tragedy or comedy could he

His part with equal skill and vigour play —

Hamlet so sad, or Benedict so gay ;
In modern drama too, 'twas good to see
The Bells, the Cup, and ah ! by fate's decree

'Twas Beckett rung the knell of his last day.

On whose drear night the " Master " passed away.
His name, his work, shall long remembered be —
His work that charmed rapt audiences each night,

His skill in grouping crowds upon the stage,
Devising scenery for each play aright,

Mid which to act now youth, now feeble age.
Now the young Romeo, now the distraught Lear
Winning for both the sympathetic tear.



127



J. S. Davies.



Soar heavenward glorious spirit, and leave

Yon sunset waning low

From fringes of this fading eve.

Oh, happy Irving, heavenward go ;

Till o'er thy famous shoulder glow

The silver spirit world, to rise

In beauty pon' our dewy eyes

That watch thee from the earth below.



128



Denis Duval.



The world's a stage, where circumstances allots
To each his varied role and bids him play.
Each wears the mummer's mask from day to day

And of the man behind alone God's wots.

The world's a stage : the beggar plays the king
In crown of tinsel set with glittering dross.
In dreams alone aside the toy we toss

And grasp awhile the true — the perfect thing.

Then o'er the boards which faithfully he trod
Let fall the curtain, bid the light grow dim.
The world's a stage — oh, grudge not rest to him

Midst the undreamed realities of God.

Onlooker.



129



F. D.



" Out, out, brief candle ! " See ! the spark,
Upward ascends. One flash, but one ;
Then suddenly, lo ! all is dark ;
And, without eve, the day is done.

Not his to hnger to the end

As lesser creatures clutch and cUng ;

Without a feast, without a friend,

" Sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

Oh ! let us envy him ! He left

The stage of life while yet the cheers

That told of love long won, long kept,
Rang Hke a Requiem in his ears.

Born to control and to command,
On stony ways he toiled to fame ;

There was no stain upon his hand,
There is no shadow on his name.



130



Who nothing common did nor mean,
Whether upon the mimic stage,

Or on the broader, shallower scene
Whose pert proscenium is the Age.

Whose hand was ever open wide ;

Who nobly earned and nobly spent ;


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Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Frederick) ForshawIn memoriam; tributes to the memory of the late Sir Henry Irving → online text (page 4 of 8)