Imatges de pÓgina
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Katherine, stormily, her eyes beginning to to have been of a prodigious character. burn and her face to grow dark. “I will He could hold between his teeth, and in not quit it till we anderstand each other such wise lift from the ground, a table perfectly. You have drawn from me a upon which had been stationed four or confidence.”

five of his children. Lying upon his back, "Pardon!” said May. “You volun- he could with his hands and feet supteered it."

port a platform upon which stood no less “I repeat that you drew it from me,” than eighteen grenadiers fully armed said Katherine, “with your sentimental and in marching order. From the first looks and your sympathetic speeches about Hercules downwards, a peculiar mythical lovers. Now I may as well go further. halo has, no doubt, always attended and And I warn you not to meddle between me enhanced the proceedings of the strong. and Panl Finiston!”

But these exploits, and such as these, are "I?” exclaimed May, springing to her stated to have been duly accomplished by feet and standing a little off from Kathe- Peter in the ring of Astley's Amphitheatre rine, straight and quivering as a very shaft during the early seasons of that establishof fire.

ment. “Yes, you," said Katherine. “You have For the “ strong man " had journeyed to thought of him as a lover. I saw it in your London. Within a week of his arrival, in face when I first mentioned his name. the year 1793, there was born to him a son,

*It is false," said May, in a low thrilling who was christened Andrew. It was aftervoice. “How dare you accuse me? You, wards deemed_appropriate enough that who know nothing of me !"

little Andrew Ducrow should have first But Katherine was not softened by the drawn breath at the Nag's Head Inn, sight of May's honest indignation as she Southwark. stood panting before her, her eyes like dark The child was educated perhaps much Hames, her cheeks redder than the reddest as strong men's ” children usually are. roses round about.

Great regard was paid to his muscles; his "Your enthusiastic modesty is very mind was left to take care of itself. It is the pretty," sneered Katherine. "But I am acrobat's creed that reading and writing not deceived by it. I see that you

come by nature; but that the feats of the But here May suddenly put her fingers circle can only result from severe training, in her ears with a childish impulse of At three years old Andrew was set to learn passionate impatience. Katherine stood his father's trade. From standing firmly speechless at finding herself treated with with his feet in a straight line, heel to heel. such utter disrespect. And before she could he proceeded to vaulting, tumbling, dancing find words to express her sense of the in- on the slack and tight rope-with, by way dignity, May had turned away and filed of relief and recreation, balancing, riding, through the window into her room. fencing, and boxing. At the age of seven

“ But I will not be treated so !” cried he, was sufficiently accomplished to take Katherine at the window. “Come out, Miss part in a fête given at Frogmore, in the Mourne, for I have not done speaking to presence of George the Third. In the yon. Or else I shall


course of the performance, much to the But in the twinkling of an eye the win- alarm of the spectators, the stage gave dow was locked inside, the shutters closed way, and the little fellow fell through. and barred. And May, having thus ended The king, much concerned at the accident, the battle, sat down upon the floor in the was charmed by the fortitude with which dark, and had a hearty cry.

the young performer bore his bruises, and the simplicity with which he denied that

he had been at all hurt. ANDREW DUCROW.

What any man has done or can do, I'll

do,” old Ducrow was wont to say, “but In the later half of the last century there my boy shall do what no one else can or was born at Bruges a certain Peter Von dare do.” He referred, of course, to the feats Ducrow, who, arrived at manhood, earned of his profession. He was the severest of for himself the title of the Flemish Her-disciplinarians, and regarded failure as a cales. He was by profession and by natural matter quite within the control of the perendowment a strong man: gaining his former. He was himself without fear, and living by public exhibition of his physical he declined to recognise the existence of gifts. His performances certainly seem such a feeling. “In ninety-nine cases out

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His success


of a hundred,” he would say, “I can't' the chief towns of France. simply means 'I won't.' ” Diligent ap- was something unprecedented. A tempting plication of the horsewhip he had invari. offer to share the receipts of the night, ably found to be a most complete cure for after an allowance of three hundred francs timidity. Young Ducrow went through his for expenses, brought him to Franconi's performances with an understanding that circus, at Paris. The surpassing merits of any mistake that he might make, or any the English horseman were speedily recog. accident that might happen, would be nised, and he secured unbounded popupromptly followed by bodily chastisement larity. His style was pronounced original

, of a most merciless kind. At Edinburgh, his daring unequalled. He was the first when a mere child, he fell from his rope to introduce into the ring an equestrian and dislocated his wrist; he continued to pageant or entrée, and his performances dance, however, carrying his balancing- upon six “bare-backed steeds”-as in his pole in one hand. He fell again and famous scene, the Courier of St. Peterssprained his ankle; but he went through burg-had not previously been attempted. the remainder of his performances on one "Animated, light, and graceful,” wrote leg. From the strictness of his early train- enthusiastically a Parisian critic, “the ! ing he acquired the coolness and courage English horseman seduces and enchants us which so distinguished his after-career; by his elegant agility: He absolutely sports and certainly his preceptor set him a good with the rules of statics, and gravity has no example in the way of hardihood. A critic central point for him. Sometimes like an wrote of Peter Ducrow's daring: “He aërial being you would suppose him ready would have danced on a rope stretched to take an easy flight. Sometimes stooping across the crater of Vesuvius during an over the arena he remains suspended in eruption, or have ridden round the ridge space, a prodigy of equilibrium. His rapid of Ararat in a whirlwind !"

courser is the pedestal on which he erects In 1808. young Ducrow was chief eques- every form and assumes every attitude: the trian and rope-dancer at Astley's, enjoying Mercury of Phidias, ready to take wing; a salary of ten pounds per week. Five the Gladiator of admirable proportions; the years later, the Ducrows seceded to the lover of Flora with Cupid in his arms or rival establishment, the Royal Circus, in disporting in a garland of flowers." St. George's Fields. Here a stage had Another critic took up the theme: “To been erected, and dramatic entertainments these prodigies of agility and address is were presented. It was in the part of united a grace which constitutes their Florio the dumb boy, in the Dog of Mon- highest merit in the eyes of all who entertargis, that Andrew first won applause as a tain a proper sense of the genuine principles pantomimist. Misfortunes, however, came of art, and who know that in feats of dex. thickly upon the Royal Circus, bankruptcy terity, and even of strength, the chief merit afflicted the proprietors, the license was does not lie in the surmounting of difficulty. forfeited, and the doors of the theatre were But what exalts the exercises of M. Ducrow closed. Andrew returned to Astley's for to the honourable rank of the imitative art, a season, and introduced that serious acting are the scenes, I might almost say the upon horseback for which he afterwards dramas, which he performs in mute lan. became so famous. Already his classical guage. The truth, the animation, all, in scene of the Gladiator was an admired per- short, which comprehends the beauty of formance. His bold riding, personal graces, pantomime, are rendered still more and mastery of the language of gestures, tonishing by being exhibited, as it were, were attracting great attention.

in the air, and in the midst of that rapid About this time Peter Ducrow died, motion which hurries along both the courser leaving his widow and family to the charge and his guide. Here, indeed, the difficulty of Andrew. Astley's was then under the overcome renders the perfection of talent management of one Davis, whose son was still more admirable. And M. Ducrow has a leading performer in the ring. Andrew unfolded a new talent. Having shown finding the rivalry of the manager's son himself the most skilful equestrian we have somewhat inconvenient, resolved upon a ever seen, a charming dancer and excellent continental tour. Accompanied by his bro mimic, he has now appeared as a worthy thers and sisters, and taking with him his rival of Madame Sacqui, Revel, Forioso, famous trick-horse Jack, he joined Blondell's Cabanel, and all the boldest funambulists Cirque Olympique, and made his first ap- we ever beheld.” pearance in Ghent. Subsequently he visited At this time, it may be observed, the


natural laws which govern many of the He succeded equally well in other parts feats of the circus were not very generally of France. “ The circus was yesterday apprehended. Much marvelling attended crowded to excess,” wrote a Nantes paper, the fact that the horse, greatly inclining L'Ami de la Charte. “ M. Ducrow, exinward as he galloped round, yet did not cited by the presence of a numerous comfall into the ring, and that the horseman, pany, surpassed himself. He was more exhowever high he leapt into the air, alighted traordinary, more graceful, more powerful nevertheless


his steed's back. Every than ever. How expressive and animated one now is informed as to those ruling his pantomime: how fine his postures ! mechanical forces, the centrifugal and the The more one sees M. Ducrow the more centripetal. And it is common enough one wishes to see him. He absolutely reknowledge in these times that the motion suscitates Proteus. Without quitting his of the horse is communicated to his rider, horse he assumes the air, costume, and gait and that, leaping, he is propelled forward of six different characters. This scene, at the same time as many paces as his which is truly comic, and which he calls horse has advanced. In this way the balls the Carnival of Venice, occasions immense tossed up by the equestrian juggler fall laughter.” back as certainly into the cups, as though The spectacle of the Cataract of the the performance had been presented on firm Ganges, with its “real horses" and "real ground, and not on a moving saddle. water,” presented at Drury Lane under

Ducrow quitted Franconi's, the proprietor Elliston's management, in 1823, proved of an equestrian establishment of his own. so remarkable an attraction that it was He boasted a stud of ten horses; his com deemed necessary to produce some similar pany consisted chiefly of members of his entertainment at Covent Garden. Accordfamily. He had married Miss Griffith, a lady ingly, Ducrow and his horses were engaged rider of rare accomplishments and remark- to appear in the operatic drama of Cortez, able beauty. His brother, John Ducrow, or the Conquest of Mexico. This work, conwas clown to the ring. His sister was trived by Mr. Planché, and partly founded a graceful performer, and was afterwards on the Indian Emperor of Dryden, is a good known to fame as Mrs. Broadfoot. He specimen of the "horse spectacle," and travelled through France, meeting every- though it could not vie with the popularity where with extraordinary favour. At of the famous Cataract, yet obtained conLyons, however, his performances were siderable applause. The anthor prided prohibited for three weeks, owing to an himself on his fidelity to history, and the accident which had occurred in his theatre situations represented: notably, the burnin the course of a military spectacle. One ing of his fleet by Cortez, and the flight of of the soldiers had fired away his ramrod, the magicians at the appearance of the and fatally wounded a woman in the conqueror's cavalry, were exhibitions of a gallery. Further, the manager of the stirring kind. In the following season Royal Theatre, finding his entertainment Elliston engaged Ducrow's stud to appear neglected, threatened to close his doors in a drama called the Enchanted Courser. if Ducrow's displays were persisted in. At the time appointed for the first reMatters, however, were accommodated upon hearsal, the horses duly attended, but no Ducrow's consenting to pay one-fifth of his Ducrow ! A messenger was despatched receipts to the Royal Theatre, and to de- for him, when it appeared that the extravote one-tenth to the poor. The success of ordinary mistake had been made of enthe circus was now greater than ever. By gaging the steeds without reference to the way of counter-attraction, M. Mazurier, the services of their master. Much to his chagrin famous man monkey, was engaged at the Elliston was now compelled to secure DuRoyal Theatre. Ducrow forthwith an. crow, in addition, upon his own terms. nounced that he would perform on horse- The Enchanted Courser did not prove very back, riding at full speed, every feat that attractive. The public was perhaps growMazurier was accustomed to accomplish on ing weary of seeing the “equestrian drama” a stationary stage. His benefit attracted an on the boards of the patent theatres. enormous crowd. He was presented with a Ducrow now reappeared at Astley's, and gold medal by the Duchesse d’Angoulême, soon becoming one of the proprietors of the and with numberless silver spurs, decorated theatre, commenced a long career of prowhips, and sets of harness by his other ad- sperity. Under his rule Astley's rose mirers. After a most prosperous campaign he greatly in popular estimation, and obtained quitted the city amid a shower of bouquets. recognition as a fashionable place of enter

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tainment. He secured the favour and trance of a neatherd, in great dismay, with patronage of King William the Fourth, an announcement that the scourge

of Egypt, who fitted up an arena in the Pavilion at the dragon, had reappeared upon the coast. Brighton, in order that Ducrow might Ducrow had instructed the supernumeraries, there perform in private his more famous on hearing this intelligence, to rush terrified feats, and especially the impersonation of to the throne of the monarch for counsel; antique statues he was accustomed to in then to the chancellor, to whom the monarch troduce in his scene of Raphael's Dream. was supposed to refer them; and lastly, on

Unlettered as he was, rarely venturing the advice of the chancellor, to the kindled upon a “speaking part,” however small, altar of the gods of Egypt. Over and over and indulging always off the stage in the again was this incident rehearsed. The strong language of the stable, Ducrow supernumeraries could not be induced to was yet remarkable for his refined taste as give any life or expression to the scene. a stage-manager, and his keen eye for pic. In a mob they moved to and fro without torial and theatrical effect. He was un- the slightest indication of the panic that equalled as a contriver of spectacles, in was supposed to be afflicting them. Duarranging scenic illusions, in grouping su- crow, in a state of fury, sprang upon the pernumeraries upon the stage, in combin- stage and acted the scene for them, exing and contrasting the hues of costumes claiming the while: “Look here, you fools! and draperies. He set poetry of motion You should rush up to the king, that old above poetry of thought, stir before re- chap sitting there, and say, 'Look here, pose, spangles before speeches. “ Action, old fellow! The dragon has come, and

action, action,” was the principle of his we're in a dreadful mess, and you must management. He was the author of that get us out of it.' The king says, “Don't precious theatrical rule : “ Cut the dialect bother me, go to Brougham!

(Lord and get to the 'osses.” And apparently Brougham was chancellor at that period.) he did not underrate the intellectuality of “You all rush to Brougham. Brougham his patrons. Critics might condemn his cries out in a rage, What do I know plays as unworthy and illegitimate, but about a dragon? Go to your gods !' And a great public followed him admiringly. your gods is that lump of tow burning Supreme success crowned his labours. on that bit of timber there!” This wild

The year 1833 was memorable for the speech, interspersed with vehement explecoalition, for a season, of Drury Lane and tives, he accompanied with the most adCovent Garden Theatres. Both establish- mirable pantomimic action, and ultimately ments came under the government of the succeeded in imparting to his troop someonce famous Mr. Alfred Bunn, whose mo- thing of his own spirit. St. George proved nopoly, as it was called, did not enjoy, a great success, and was followed by a however, a very prolonged existence. Bi

But similar work, King Arthur and the Knights as it was part of the manager's plan to stay of the Round Table. It was acknowledged the system of rivalry and imitation which that the popularity of these spectacles was had long been carried on by the two mainly due to the efforts of Ducrow, and theatres, he resolved to banish clown and he was made the recipient of various prepantaloon for a term from Drury Lane, and sents and testimonials. Queen Adelaide in lieu of a Christmas pantomime to pro- gave one hundred pounds; Mr. Bunn preduce the grand pageant of St. George and sented him with gold and silver vases of conthe Dragon. To Ducrow was intrusted siderable value; the company of his own the stage arrangement of this spectacle. amphitheatre bestowed upon him a gold The part of St. George was allotted to him, snuff-box, with a suitable inscription; and and the whole strength of his equestrian Count D'Orsay, to complete Ducrow's establishment was enlisted for the occasion. costume of a Greek chieftain-he perMr. Bunn in his book of the Stage, while formed that character in certain of his recognising Ducrow's untiring zeal to per- scenes-presented him with pistols and fect the performance of the drama, makes dirk mounted in ivory and gold, which had mention of the diverting manner in which originally belonged to Lord Byron. he was accustomed to carry out his mea- If Ducrow was often comical in his

An instance of this occurred at speech at rehearsal, it is certain that he was an early rehearsal of the spectacle. The invariably fearless in conduct as well. He second act opened with the celebration of asked no member of his company to per. the nuptials of the emperor's daughter, form any feat he could not readily himself the ceremony being interrupted by the en- accomplish. At Astley's he lived in the





private house adjoining the theatre, and UGLY BLACKS, who have been refused an would often come upon the stage in his engagement at Astley's because there are dressing-gown and slippers to supervise so many superior and extraordinary men the preparations for the performance of the of our own country nearly starving, and evening. On one occasion a rope-dancer, compelled to perform on an open racewho was announced to ascend from the course for a penny, whilst those four men stage to the upper gallery, declined to per- can get one hundred pounds per week beform the feat, alleging that the rope was in- cause they are black and foreigners !

“You're afraid of hurting yourself, “The reader, no doubt, has witnessed I suppose,” said Ducrow. "Well, I'm not boys running alongside of a coach, doing pretty, and I've nothing to fear. Give me what is termed cat-in-wheels, and turning the pole.” And, “accoutred as he was," he foresprings with one hand and then the ascended and descended the rope in safety. other, or throwing summersaults from a After this exploit of his manager in slippers sandbank. Such is the grand performances the performer could no longer hesitate. But of these sauteurs, consisting of three or even the practised artists of the theatre are four blacks who walk on their hands with said to have shuddered at the perilous per- their NAKED FEET IN THE AIR LIKE TWO BLACK formance of Ducrow. At another time, FRYING-PANS. Of course no lady or respectone of the actors, who was required to able person can sit and see this ! drop from a set piece in a scene repre- “These blacks, with the men who take senting a precipice, hesitated, stating that half their money, applied at Bow-street to the fall would endanger his life. Ducrow ask if they could not prevent Astley's from took his place and quietly jumped from the using the word 'Arab exercises,' for that the elevation—the difference between jumping public went every night and filled Astley's and dropping being about six feet. and never came to see them at all! Why,

The cockney method of speech which of course, the public are the best judges, Ducrow invariably adopted may have been and knows the difference between seeing something of an affectation. Mr. Bunn a spectacle in character, produced with especially mentions the equestrian’s general splendour, to introduce the talents of the intelligence and keen sense of humour, and flying man, the equilibrists, elastic tumblers, certainly his addresses to the public were the antipodeans, jugglers, dancers, men admirable efforts of their kind. These he is and horses, tableaux, the groups of trained understood to have contrived without as- horses, and other novelties ! But come see sistance from other hands. When Braham, and judge for yourselves, for this is only a the singer, entered upon his unfortunate small part of Astley's entertainments.” speculation at the Colosseum, and at con- It is needless to say that the public found siderable expense engaged the Bedouin this invitation quite irresistible, and that Arabs to appear, Ducrow announced that a Astley’s was nightly crowded with admirers similar entertainment would be presented of Ducrow's Bedouins of British growth. at Astley's Theatre by a much larger Mr. Bunn, narrating the misfortunes of mumber of artists. Application was made a manager, enlarges upon the miseries to the magistrates at Bow-street to restrain attending "the fag - end of the season, the proceedings of Ducrow. Upon this, owing to the systematic negligence of the the following handbill proceeded from performers, and the shameful proceedings Astley's Theatre :

of the operatives and mechanics of the “EXTRAORDINARY EQUESTRIAN AND GYM-establishment. It must be borne in mind NASTIC ARAB FEATS! Surpasses anything that his account refers to a state of things of the kind ever produced! The public existing some forty years ago. Much reare respectfully informed that these are not formation has no doubt taken place in the the Four BLACK MEN who play without their matter, and the experience of the modern shoes and stockings at the West-end of the manager may be altogether different. Mr. town, but upwards of forty British artists Bunn had mentioned the subject to Duthat challenge all Europe, for talent, crow, from whom he received a very variety, extraordinary feats of manly skill graphic account of the conclusion of the and activity, and who nightly receive campaign at Astley's. “I don't know thunders of applause from crowded audi- how you find it,” said Ducrow, “but as ences, and do not play to a dozen of daily soon as I announce the last nights of the loungers. The union of talent and Arab season, the beggars begin to give them. spectacles of this establishment does not selves airs. I went into the theatre t’other confine itself to the tumbling of FOUR GREAT night, and seeing a prime little roasting

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