Charles F. (Charles Frederick) Forshaw.

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

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And measured tread to organ's funeral dirge,
They slowly bore him to the sacred niche of that
Grand fane where what of England's great
Remains, to rest till th' summons comes
To answer for the fame which brought him there
At th' tribunal where " Mercy tempers justice."

171



Shall we not say a noble mind

Deserves the homage of mankind ?
His work is done, on altar's steps he falls and hes —
" Into Thy hands, O Lord, into Thy hands," he cries.

The curtain falls, his sands of time have run,

'Tis Irving's grand farewell. We say, " Well done."

Birkenhead Advertiser.



172



Andrew G. Leigh.



'Tis done : the curtain falls ; the play is o'er,

Exit Sir Henry Irving. Never more

Of his vast audience will he charm the sense.

By gesture, voice or silent eloquence.

Never again, c'S Shylock, leave the stage

Bowed down by shame, defeat and useless rage.

Never again, in Becket's priestly pall,

At Canterbury's Altar prostrate fall.

No, he has gone at last as all flesh must,

Ashes to ashes turn, and dust to dust.

But in his Hfe he had played many parts

And stamped each image clearly on our hearts.

Othello, Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, the Jew,

Matthias, Becket, Wolsey, Richeheu,

Crook'd-back King Richard, cunning, fierce and wild

Or, as a contrast. Doctor Primrose mild,

Robespierre, Dante, Mephistopheles,

173



All these he played and many more than these ;
In each he showed a skill by none surpassed,
And lived and died an actor till the last.
Leaving his name to a succeeding age
As king and father of the modern stage.

But, hush, my muse ! Thy tardy praises cease,
Exit Sir Henry — May he rest in peace.

Brighton Society.



174



Alexander Logie.



Irving, farwell ! The plaudits scarce allayed

That hailed thee Sovereign of the tragic stage,

When the black shadow darkened thy life's page —

No more to shake the soul thy genius swayed,

With deft portraiture of the subtile, dread

Passion of souls Shakespeare bade love or rage.

Though gone beyond the visions that engage

Our petty day. Love shrinks to deem thee dead ;

High in the starry firmament of Fame

She sees unspotted shrine thy honoured name.

So long a household word unto the ear,

And knows that in thy England's sorrowing heart

Her actor-knight will ever have a part —

Of all her gentlest, worthiest sons the peer !

Aberdeen Gazette.



175



Jas. Mackintosh.



Were gods my Creed, and not th' eternal God,

Who is my Hope, my soul would hasten me
To fabled scenes — untravelled and untrod —
Of Zeus and Mnemosyne th' abode,

That from fair Thalia, bold Melpomene,

Or breast, enkindling, wrapt Calhope,
Some thoughts might, catching of their fabled fire.

Breathe from my lyre.

But Fiction's deities not mine ; the theme's
Far greater, worthier than thus to ply

A shuttle that might weave a web of beams

Which were hyperbole. Truth dreams no dreams,
Nor shall its utterances ever die,
Its lessons perish, or its fountains dry ;

But shall indeed remould the ashen heap
O'er which men weep ;

176



For life's in everything from which there's Hght.

Doth Science more than yield a human means
Of looking at the Why of things ? Nay, night
Itself teems with deep mysteries, and bright

And boundless space, with worlds and suns and scenes

Profuse. Give me the faithful man who leans
On simple Hope, doing the very thing

That makes him sing.

But Truth interpretation seeks — depends

Upon it ; and if there be aptitude,
Or rather genius, and it transcends,
The guileless peasant, or the monarch, lends

His real self, till every mien and mood

Of villan or of angel, bad or good.
Lives in the Actor, and instructed sight

Fills with delight.

When tragic muse is metaphysical

And ore of gold lie hidden in the maze

Of words, the living syllables that fall

Are only shadows painted on a wall
Til! Genius unfold, when all will gaze
Where she is gazing, and a gesture says

More than the tongue. So, ore of gold is seen
Where haze had been.

The power of true delineation shines

In every word and gesture of the man
Born for the Stage ; all interesting Unes
Of character and passion he defines —

177



The acted, chevalier or charlatan —
With perfect mastery. Thus, gods might scan,
With lasting profit, if they had but eyes.
Where power lies.

The moral stage has its interpreters ;

One of a thousand acts with every mark
Of genius ; his spirit truly stirs
Those human depths which Nature claims as hers,

Yielding dehght and hght, chasing the dark

Perplexing shades, as when th' ascending lark
Sings to the sun, and sweet intelhgence

Fills scene and sense.

Such Irving was. The man was truly great ;

In his own line great as th' immortal plays
He illustrated ; yet, the mystic gate,
Which opens on eternal scenes, elate

Or anguished, is now passed, and from our gaze.

Not hearts, the Actor fades ! Green be his bays !
But, even thus, who shall not cry — alas,

" All flesh is grass ! "



178



Rev. J. McConnell, M.A.



Night's curtain fell around him, and he sank —

While yet the sunshine of a city's smile

Beamed homage on his sterling worth. For his

The strength to hold above suspicion's breath

The Art he loved so well — and loving, died

To stamp it with an ideal high, of all

The brightest and the best.

Irving, the nation honours thee for this,

Beyond the keen perception, and the skill

Unmatched, to paint the inner hidden depth

Of poet's fancy in a living form ;

And give it dress, and speech, and action free, —

And so within that venerable fane,

Where rests the dust of her illustrious dead

She gathers thine, to casket it, till Time's

" Big Ben " shall chime ; — the while thy spirit soars

To raise our grovelling nature high above

Itself, to planes of true nobility.

And everlasting good.



179



Wm. Fay McMaster.



Rung down the curtain, and Melpomene weeps

Within her temple. Dim the lights, and low

And silent all. Tears in her tresses flow ;

For he that loved her now forever sleeps,

And only shadow round her altar creeps.

No Irving now to awe with tragic fire,

With speech, and act, to move, charm, and inspire

Her worshipper's applause. A fresh grief only leaps

Into her red-drenched eyes. For he is dead.

Her chevalier. The craftsman ever true

To her great art, weaving with magic thread

A Uving picture of what we only knew

By rote. O gifted Irving, who shall ever tread

The temple boards as they were trod by you ?

Kilwinning Chronicle.



i8o



Arthur Mee.



Scarce had he turned from Beckett's saintly part

Than the Destroyer pierced him to the heart.

Quenched is a hght of the Victorian age ;

A stately form hath vanished from the stage —

A well-graced actor through whose long career

It was the object of his foremost care

To hold the standard of the drama high,

To make it perfect in the public eye,

And teach the grandest lessons that mankind

Might lay to heart. Nor was his fame confined

To England. Greater England o'er the seas,

America, the Continent, all these

Knew and confessed the old magician's sway.

Now mourn they all with us this bitter day.

Our Irving dead, the noble, good, and great,

How poor the stage will seem, how incomplete.

But he has passed to join the goodly throng

Of those high souls who to all time belong.

i8i



Shakespeare will bid him welcome as a son,

And so will our immortal Tennyson,

And so will Garrick, Siddons, Kemble, Kean,

And all the great of days that long have been.

Our loss v/ill be their gain. 'Tis ours to keep

The memory cherished in our bosom deep

Of one who to a lofty niche was born,

Who nothing touched but what he did adorn.

Western Mail.



r82



Rev. W. Morgan, B.A.



O ! THOU, true Knight of the dramatic art,

Our Roscius of Britannia's stage,
Thy spell more potent o'er the human heart

Than ought of Greek or Roman age !
Thine the Ideal e'er to elevate

To noble thoughts, above the base,
As hfts the light of love, beyond the hate

And error of our sinful race.

Thy Genius, nobly born and heaven inspired,

Marked for herself her upward flight,
And ever onward to the pure aspired.

Above the murky mist of night :
Nought could attract thy wondrous Power,

As one who serves the times' behest,
To don the buskin for the passing hour —

Brief, vulgar praise was not thy quest.

183



To lead thy country to the pure, the good,

Thine was the task, so nobly done !
Thy mighty Art, unstain'd, for virtue stood,

The laurel of thy Knighthood won :
Placed high by her, our Mother Empress Queen,

Amid her nobles round her throne.
Thy name, for thine unsullied Art, is seen

Marked as the Drama's Knight, alone.

Melpomene her son bewails to-day,

As mute with grief she sees around
Some other sons, in Autumn cold and gray.

Stand weeping on the hallow' d ground —
Necropolis of Fame's best honour'd dead,

Where now one of her noblest sleeps.
And lowly bending o'er the scene her head

She hears the wail — a nation weeps !

Rest, Irving, in the City's hoary Fane,

Beside thy brother of kin art,
And him who sang of " Launcelot and Elaine,"

And " Becket "—he, thy latest " part " :
" Thro' night to light, O Lord, into Thy hands " !

Thy latest word ! "So mote it be ! "
Thine Art, thy Worth, thy Life, thy Soul demands

The homage of a world to thee.



184



D. G. Murray.



Hard student of the Drama — in manner tense confin'd,
Leaving his mark by gesture and by word ;

Great was his " Hamlet," his " Vicar," subtly kind,
While " Jingle " as he should be look'd absurd,

" Dubosc " and then " Lesurques " in sudden interchange
The villian and the saint were made t' appear,

And " Mathias," the tempted, look'd ominous and
strange
In his sudden fits of frenzy and of fear.

His " Lewis " was a masterpiece, the facts from history
glean'd.
And " Charles the Martyr," merited our tears.
In " Romeo " the love-sick, fierce youth, and pleasure-
brain'd,
Tho' the role was sore upon a man of years !

As " Dante " and in " Faust " with Mephistophelean
guile.

The subtle strands of learning could be seen ;
For the demon and the poet tho' hard to reconcile,

Bear a likeness in the thought of " might have been " !

185



What shall we say of " Shylock," the cuthroat and the

knave,

Of " Othello," " Richard," " Lear " and " Macbeth " ?

But that they were chisell'd with a terseness, true and

grave.

As they sinn'd in life and dree'd their weird in death.

Farewell ! old Actor of a hundred parts !

Comrade and helper of thy fellow men !
Deep is thy form engraven on our hearts,

And rarely shall we see thy like again !

Aberdeen Gazette.



i86



H. R. M.



We mourn a great redeemer of our stage,

The long to be remembered Irving age ;

Here gentleman and actor were combined,

With stage-craft mingled intellect refined ;

Beloved not solely for his master art,

A lofty moulded mind and kindly heart,

Brought worship whence his calling bid him roam,

And won him love and reverence at home.

So later, when we scan his detail'd hfe,
Of perseverance, triumphs, love and strife,
'Twill likely seem the pages to be torn
From those of worth departed, that adorn
The scroll of England's dearest sons of fame ;
This much, at least, immortal Hamlet's name
Will be recall'd, and ages Irving's prove
A beacon on the path he chanced to move.

Stockport Advertiser.



187



James Nicol.



Oft had I heard of the great Irving's power

To re-create a soul, a man, a king.

And make it walk the boards a living thing

Subject to Art forever from that hour.

Ere I was touched with that supreme desire

Which mind inherits from the general thrill,

To see the man who moulded to his will

All men's conceptions of the Sacred Fire ;

And I had vowed — being moved by what friends said-

" I must indeed see Irving." " When he comes

To our town next, I'll be the first who runs

To drink from Art's pure fountains, genius — led : "

But ah, too late, too late, desire drew breath

For me to follow — Genius followed Death !



i88



While others talk familiarly of the dead,

I sit alone, and listen to the praise

That wraps him round and round from my weak gaze,

And dumbly feel the greatness that is sped,

Beyond my touch, my sharing, my appeal

To laws, and reasons, and the personal soul

In me that ponders, or accepts control

On lofty themes from all who wear the seal,

Unlike great authors, actors leave behind

Nor script nor stone in lasting measures wrought.

To tell for ages how the Spirit sought,

Through them, in works, to express eternal mind ;

The fond remembrance of the sacred few

Is all that's left to point the naked view.

The fond remembrance of the sacred few,

Crowns, crowns a king, in Irving ! In the pause

Of my cold logic, I have heard applause

Spread from their midst the nation through and through !

Who speaks of volumes, and material parts

Upreared by Genius ? When the message runs

O'er all the earth from England's actor-sons ;

" He published his great Spirit in our hearts " !

It niaybe, in the future I will read

Impassioned pages from his master-soul.

On some great stage where throbbing hearts extol

With purest Art, Art's elevating creed ;

He is not dead, who lies beneath a stone.

If fond Remembrance makes his Art her own !



189



F. A. Northall.



" Into Thy hands, into Thy hands, O Lord."
The great man cried ; this was the close

Of a grand career, most fitting words to end, —
Life's fitful fever, in death's calm repose.

Great chief and master of dramatic art,

Thy matchless gifts in words will ne'er be told ;

Thy genius portrayed life's every phase.
Up to Nature thou didst the mirror hold.

Thou hast adorned and purified the stage.
Uplifted and crowned the actor's art,

With great creations thine, and only thine.
That from thy memory time will never part.



190



In thee the stage has lost its King,
The curtain is rung down, the play is o'er ;

And struggling men have lost a generous friend.
The man who helped the helpless is no more.

Rest ! rest O mighty soul in peace,
In harness thy great life went down ;

And through the years that come and go.
Undying fame thy memory will crown.

Dudley Herald.



191



John O'Brien.



No more, entranced, the public shall look on

The noble King of Actors, who for years

Possess' d the power to move to smiles or tears

Admirers, as upon the stage he shone.

Death intervened, and nought his Hfe could save,

While laurels still were falling on his brow ;

There in Westminster's fane he's resting now,

And there a nation mourns at his grave.

His life this lesson teaches to us all.

That gifted souls are sure of glorious gain

In honour and renown that shall remain

To keep them in men's minds when past recall.

If wisely they those heaven-sent gifts will use,

And not the treasures of the gods abuse.



192



Rev. Frederick Oliver, D.D.



Welcome, sweet Peace ! Now lay thy soft cool hand

On bitter memories, and the fevered blood !

Brood over friend and foe, distilling dew

On the hot war-path which impetuous feet

So lately trode in fierce and deadly strife ;

Then touch again, sweet Peace, thy mystic harp,

That on its strings the revelry and shock

Of mortal combat and of baffled rage

May lose themselves in soothing harmony.



193



Elias Owen.



Amidst the hush and peace of autumnal glory another

veteran has passed away,
A fitting prelude to his earthly ending — gorgeous welcome

to perpetual day.
Inspiriting interpreter whence is thy presence fled ?
Is it gone to God's homeland or locked amongst the dead ?
'Tis true that which is mortal within the Abbey sleeps.
But what of the immortal that lingers, lives and speaks ?
He who swayed and held spell-bound vast crowds, as

by some prophetic wand
Will long live in memory's feast and spread rich fragrance

o'er all the land.
After well nigh fifty years of active incessant toil,

full-harnessed he crossed the bar.
Such souls as thine are rare 'tis in the parting that thy

unsullied radiance shines Hke the morning star.
Rest, wearied soul, thou has attained unto God's eternal

goal,
May thy mantle in still proportion fall on some progressive

aspiring soul.



194



Rev. Canon Phillips, D.D.



Into Thy hands, Lord ; the words divine,
Like woof of gold weaved into poet's hne.
Were dying Becket's, and the last of thine.

Pall Mall Gazelle.



195



J. W. Poc, B.A.



" Through night to light ; into Thy hands " — the soul
Of Becket passes from its house of clay
Into the splendour of the perfect day,

Freed from all stains of earth and rendered whole,

As he who made the Highest still his goal
And acted nobly in Life's passing play,
Receives the summons now to put away

The heavy garments of his mortal role.

Becket lies dead ; the curtain falls, no more
To rise, or, if to rise, upon a scene
Which never can be as it once has been,

Lacking a presence time cannot restore ;
For who is there to-day to fill the part
Of him whose art was life and life was art F



196



F. H. de Quincy.



Far out beyond our wistful-watching eyes

Where late the great " Star " beamed upon our ken,
And dazzled all this little world of men,

Deep lower the shadows of bereaved skies !

Now sorrow thro' the void lone spaces cries
His name and deeds again and yet again.
Who charmed the censure from the critic's pen,

But shines no more amidst the great and wise !

No more, no more ! Yet is it better so ;

And such a death ! — the noble life struck down
Its harness on and furnished with its crown —

Is this not how so great a soul should pass
Out of the darkness to the brighter glow

Where speech hath no more need of its " alas " ?

Weekly Scotsman.



igy



A. Rabagliati, M.A. M.D.



Who will may say that all the world's a stage,
On which the last act has been nobly played,
Prompter's call answered, the last scene pourtrayed :

We ask the greatest actor of his age

What tale he writes on the fast turning page :
What answer to this question hast thou made ?
How hast thou summed it, the last debt defrayed ?
How should thy Ufe stir us to noble rage ?

An emanation from the Infinite,

A Soul, a Power from the great source of all,
He summons us to yield to Mercy's call,

And Love's that dwells in that celestial height

Where help for need is framed, strength for the weak.
He beckons — we regard the mountain peak



I



198



Thos. Ratcliffe, B.A.



An ancient teacher and philosopher,
Has taught that ere the soul had left its home
Beyond the farthest stars, it caught
The keynote of its harmony and rhythm ;
Therefore the thunder roll of Shakespeare and the poets
Heard from Sir Henry and our orators,
Stir in most souls the sweetest recollections
Of music heard before, but when or where

We cannot tell.



199



Alderman F. Rawlings, F.S.vS.



Thy nation mourns thy death, monarch of men ;

Star, lighting other stars to nobler life ;

Thou Wizard of the Will, whose mental wand

Moved hemispheres and bade Creation Ust.

Magnetic soul of gentleness and love,

Whose heart-throbs beat to lift thy fellow men,

(That strutted out their hour upon the stage).

To nobler heights and purer purposes !

Not " inky cloaks " nor monumental urns.

Can guage the streams that wend their way to thee ;

The heaving ocean's swell best represents the love

That lingers round thy name and acts. There thou

Shalt live in cells of immortahty :

And from those cells shall issue forth

The shades thy genius conjured up.

From those pale shrines young Hamlet shall appear.

Then " melt " and pass away as morning " dew."



200



And Benedict, poor Benedict, whose heart

Just bruised by gentle woman's love, consents

To marry, for " the world (he argues) must be peopled."

And Shylock " feeding his revenge " glides back

Into oblivion with " I am not well,"

In tones that haunt us still !

Sleep, gentle Irving,
Sleep, resting in thy nation's love. The " Bells " will
Keep thy memory ever fresh, and " Waterloo's " old
Veteran at his tea, shall bring the ripple
Of the heart to mingle with the tear called
Up by thy dear name. Oh, Irving : Shakespeare !
Masters of the tragic art. Happy be
Your meeting with " the King " and happy be
Your destiny in " the house not made with hands."

Stockport Chronicle.



201



p. Rennie.



A DARKNESS falls o'er life's great stage,

Sir Henry is no more ;
Crowned with honour and with age,

His last great act is o'er.

And sweet his dreamless dust shall sleep.

Within that holy fane ;
Where golden hues a record keep

Of great Sir Henry's name.

Well and true he played his part,

On hfe's mysterious stage ;
His willing hand, and kindly heart

Befriending youth and age.

And thousands who have heard his voice.

And seen his noble form ;
Shall to the end of Ufe rejoice,

That they with him were born.



202



An actor of the acts of men,

In art of highest merit ;
He seemed to hve as they lived then,

In act, in thought, in spirit.

But now has closed the mighty scene,

And we are left to mourn ;
Leave by his grave each chaplet green !

For ages yet unborn.



203



James Rhoades.



So farewell Irving ! Punctual to the last
Great call that summoned him rehearse on high,
Who knows in what majestic drama cast
He turned from counterfeit of death to die ?

Mighty magician, master of the spells
That move to grief or pity, love or scorn ?

" The rest is silence " ; but the silence tells
Of art ennobled and a stage forlorn.

Times.



204



R. Ellis Roberts.



The play is play'd. The curtain's fall
Determines that illustrious breath ;

Begins the final interval,

Th' orchestra plays the march of Death.

The play is play'd- An hour or two

He acted in our present age ;
And now he waits to take his cue

Upon another grander stage.

The play is play'd. What part is his
Between the gates of Heav'n and Hell ?

What reading of what mysteries
Remains for him ? We cannot tell,

The play is play'd. May he whose work
Was keen as steel, convinced, sincere,

The man who could not scamp or shirk,
Act it as bravely there as here !



20 S



Rev. R. Ross, F.R.S.L.



Gone from the Play, and Time's great curtain down;

Yea, gone to face the great realities, —

To yield account of those rare qualities

Which brought their master all the world's renown :

No spirit knew he stirring envy's frown ;

But set men's souls to dream of verities ;

Lured Voluptas to mild austerities ;

E'en thus 'twas his to win the laurel crown.

The whole round world is poorer for his loss ;

The wayworn artist now must trudge alone ;

While kindred souls long e'en to bear a cross.

If so they might bring homage to his throne.

Yet honours here are fleeting, mundane things ;

Honour above undying glory brings.



206



Louise Jopling Rowe.



Dear noble fighter in the cause you loved,
Whose mail6d hand was yet so softly gloved,
Which, strong for foe, was stronger far for friend,
To whose fine charity there was no end.
A worker broKen down : 'twas yours to give
That helping hand that gave him heart to live.
Who that once saw you could forget your smile,
Its selflessness, its absence of all guile ?
I see your entry in that other land :
Great Shakespeare greets you, holds you by the hand !
Oh ! greater shrine than England's country boasts.
Your mem'ry lives in Britain's countless hosts.
If " troops of friends " your spirit now can cheer.
Rest satisfied ; the whole world holds you dear !



207



J. Rowlands, F.R.S.L.



The actor now is dead,

But yet he's playing still !

We see him on the stage,

And feel our bosoms thrill :

The curtain fell, but still we hear

His noble accents falling near.

With joy he moved our hearts,
With wisdom stored our mind ;
He made us proudly strong,
And also sweetly kind :
Whene'er he played, a nation rose
And watched the drama to its close.

Great Shakespeare knew the world —

Its hopes, its griefs, and love ;

And while our Irving played

His spirit moved above :

We scarce could think the poet dead

When Irving told us what he said.

208



From Becket's pious mind

To Hamlet's madness strange, —

As if from heaven to hell, —

His genius took its range :

He clothed the beauteous form divine.

And showed the bleeding wound of sin.

This England well might shed

A tear upon his bier ;

For though he ranked with all,

He stood without a peer :

He crowned his art, and left the stage —

Exalted, chastened, for the age.



209



Maud L. Sargent.



Gently, as golden leaflets


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Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Frederick) ForshawIn memoriam; tributes to the memory of the late Sir Henry Irving → online text (page 6 of 8)