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Title: Circus Life and Circus Celebrities
Author: Frost, Thomas
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

The few minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected.
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                            CIRCUS LIFE AND
                           CIRCUS CELEBRITIES


                              THOMAS FROST

                        OF THE CONJURERS,’ ETC.


                            _A NEW EDITION_


                     CHATTO AND WINDUS, PICCADILLY




There are probably few persons who do not number among the most pleasant
recollections of their youth their first visit to a circus, whether
their earliest sniff of the saw-dust was inhaled in the building made
classical by Ducrow, or under the canvas canopy of Samwell or Clarke. In
my boyish days, the cry of ‘This way for the riders!’ bawled from the
stentorian vocal organs of the proprietor or ring-master of a travelling
circus, never failed to attract all the boys, and no small proportion of
the men and women, to the part of the fair from which it proceeded.
Fairs have become things of the past within twelve or fifteen miles of
the metropolis; but ever and anon a tenting circus pitches, for a day or
two, in a meadow, and the performances prove as attractive as ever. The
boys, who protest that they are better than a play,—the young women, who
are delighted with the ‘loves of horses,’—the old gentlemen, who are
never so pleased as when they are amusing their grandchildren,—the
admirers of graceful horsemanship of all ages,—crowd the benches, and
find the old tricks and the old ‘wheezes,’ as the poet found the view
from Grongar Hill, ‘ever charming—ever new.’

What boy is there who, though he may have seen it before, does not
follow with sparkling eyes the Pawnee Chief in his rapid career upon a
bare-backed steed,—the lady in the scarlet habit and high hat, who leaps
over hurdles,—the stout farmer who, while his horse bears him round the
ring, divests himself of any number of coats and vests, until he finally
appears in tights and trunks,—the juggler who plays at cup and ball, and
tosses knives in an endless shower, as he is whirled round the arena?
And which of us has not, in the days of our boyhood, fallen in love with
the fascinating young lady in short skirts who leaps through ‘balloons’
and over banners? Even when we have attained man’s estate, and learned a
wrinkle or two, we take our children to Astley’s or Hengler’s, and enjoy
the time-honoured feats of equitation, the tumbling, the gymnastics, and
the rope-dancing, as much as the boys and girls.

But of the circus _artistes_—the riders, the clowns, the acrobats, the
gymnasts,—what do we know? How many are there, unconnected with the
saw-dust, who can say that they have known a member of that strange
race? Charles Dickens, who was perhaps as well acquainted with the
physiology of the less known sections of society as any man of his day,
whetted public curiosity by introducing his readers to the humours of
Sleary’s circus; and the world wants to know more about the subject.
When, it is asked, will another saw-dust _artiste_ give us such an
amusing book as Wallett presented the world with, in his autobiography?
When are the reminiscences of the late Nelson Lee to be published? With
the exception of the autobiography of Wallett, and a few passages in
Elliston’s memoirs, the circus has hitherto been without any exponent
whatever. Under the heading of ‘Amphitheatres,’ Watts’s _Bibliotheca
Britannica_, that boon to literary readers at the British Museum in
quest of information upon occult subjects, mentions only a collection of
the bills of Astley’s from 1819 to 1845.

Circus proprietors are not, as a rule, so garrulous as poor old Sleary;
they are specially reticent concerning their own antecedents, and the
varied fortunes of their respective shows. To this cause must be
ascribed whatever shortcomings may be found in the following pages in
the matter of circus records. Circus men, too, are very apt to meet a
hint that a few reminiscences of their lives and adventures would be
acceptable with the reply of Canning’s needy knife-grinder,—‘Story! God
bless you! I have none to tell, sir.’ There are exceptions, however, and
as a rule the better educated members of the profession are the least
unwilling to impart information concerning its history and mysteries to
those outside of their circle. To the kindness and courtesy of several
of these I am considerably indebted, and beg them to accept this public
expression of my thanks.

                                                           T. FROST.

LONG DITTON, _Oct. 1st, 1873_.



                              CHAPTER I.

 Beginnings of the Circus in England—Tumblers and Performing      1–37
   Horses of the Middle Ages—Jacob Hall, the
   Rope-dancer—Francis Forcer and Sadler’s Wells—Vauxhall
   Gardens—Price’s Equestrian Performances at Johnson’s
   Gardens—Sampson’s Feats of Horsemanship—Philip Astley—His
   Open-air Performances near Halfpenny Hatch—The First
   Circus—Erection of the Amphitheatre in Westminster
   Road—First Performances there—Rival Establishment in
   Blackfriars Road—Hughes and Clementina

                              CHAPTER II.

 Fortunes of the Royal Circus—Destruction of Astley’s            38–57
   Amphitheatre by Fire—Its Reconstruction—Second
   Conflagration—Astley in Paris—Burning of the Royal
   Circus—Erection of the Olympic Pavilion—Hengler, the
   Rope-dancer—Astley’s Horses—Dancing Horses—The Trick
   Horse, Billy—Abraham Saunders—John Astley and William
   Davis—Death of Philip Astley—Vauxhall Gardens—Andrew
   Ducrow—John Clarke—Barrymore’s Season at
   Astley’s—Hippo-dramatic Spectacles—The first Circus Camel

                             CHAPTER III.
 Ducrow at Covent Garden—Engagement at Astley’s—Double Acts      58–72
   in the circle—Ducrow at Manchester—Rapid Act on Six
   Horses—‘Raphael’s Dream’—Miss Woolford—Cross’s performing
   Elephant—O’Donnel’s Antipodean Feats—First year of Ducrow
   and West—Henry Adams—Ducrow at Hull—The Wild Horse of the
   Ukraine—Ducrow at Sheffield—Travelling Circuses—An Entrée
   at Holloway’s—Wild’s Show—Constantine, the Posturer—Circus
   Horses—Tenting at Fairs—The Mountebanks

                              CHAPTER IV.

 A few words about Menageries—George Wombwell—The Lion           73–87
   Baitings at Warwick—Atkins’s Lion and Tigress at
   Astley’s—A Bull-fight and a Zebra Hunt—Ducrow at the
   Pavilion—The Stud at Drury Lane—Letter from Wooler to
   Elliston—Ducrow and the Drury ‘Supers’—Zebras on the
   Stage—The first Arab Troupe—Contention between Ducrow and
   Clarkson Stanfield—Deaths of John Ducrow and Madame
   Ducrow—Miss Woolford

                              CHAPTER V.

 Lions and Lion-tamers—Manchester Jack—Van Amburgh—Carter’s      88–99
   Feats—What is a Tiger?—Lion-driving and Tiger-fighting—Van
   Amburgh and the Duke of Wellington—Vaulting Competition
   between Price and North—Burning of the Amphitheatre—Death
   of Ducrow—Equestrian Performances at the Surrey
   Theatre—Travelling Circuses—Wells and Miller—Thomas
   Cooke-Van Amburgh—Edwin Hughes—William Batty—Pablo Fanque

                              CHAPTER VI.

 Conversion of the Lambeth Baths into a Circus—Garlick and     100–122
   the Wild Beasts—Gar-lick Company at the Surrey—White
   Conduit Gardens—Re-opening of Astley’s—Batty’s Circus on
   its Travels—Batty and the Sussex Justices—Equestrianism at
   the Lyceum—Lions and Lion-tamers at Astley’s—Franconi’s
   Circus at Cremorne Gardens—An Elephant on the
   Tight-rope—The Art of Balancing—Franconi’s Company at
   Drury Lane—Van Amburgh at Astley’s—The Black Tiger—Pablo
   Fanque—Rivalry of Wallett and Barry—Wallett’s
   Circus—Junction with Franconi’s

                             CHAPTER VII.

 Hengler’s Circus—John and George Sanger—Managerial            123–134
   Anachronisms and Incongruities—James Hernandez—Eaton and
   Stone—Horses at Drury Lane—James New-some—Howes and
   Cushing’s Circus—George Sanger and the Fighting
   Lions—Crockett and the Lions at Astley’s—The Lions at
   large—Hilton’s Circus—Lion-queens—Miss Chapman—Macomo and
   the Fighting Tigers

                             CHAPTER VIII.

 Pablo Fanque—James Cooke—Pablo Fanque and the                 135–155
   Celestials—Ludicrous affair in the Glasgow
   Police-court—Batty’s Transactions with Pablo Fanque—The
   Liverpool Amphitheatre—John Clarke—William
   Cooke—Astley’s—Fitzball and the Supers—Batty’s
   Hippodrome—Vauxhall Gardens—Garnett’s Circus—The
   Alhambra—Gymnastic Performances in Music-halls—Gymnastic

                              CHAPTER IX.

 Cremorne Gardens—The Female Blondie—Fatal Accident at Aston   156–173
   Park—Reproduction of the Eglinton Tournament—Newsome and
   Wallett—Pablo Fanque’s Circus—Equestrianism at Drury
   Lane—Spence Stokes—Talliott’s Circus—The Gymnasts of the
   Music-halls—Fatal Accident at the Canterbury—Gymnastic
   Brotherhoods—Sensational Feats—Sergeant Bates and the
   Berringtons—The Rope-trick—How to do it

                              CHAPTER X.

 Opening of the Holborn Amphitheatre—Friend’s Season at        174–193
   Astley’s—Adah Isaacs Menken—Sanger’s Company at the
   Agricultural Hall—The Carré Troupe at the Holborn
   Amphitheatre—Wandering Stars of the Arena—Albert Smith and
   the Clown—Guillaume’s Circus—The Circo Price—Hengler’s
   Company at the Palais Royal—Re-opening of Astley’s by the
   Pal’s—Franconi’s Circus—Newsome’s Circus—Miss Newsome and
   the Cheshire Hunt—Rivalry between the Sangers and Howes
   and Cushing

                              CHAPTER XI.

 Reminiscences of the Henglers—The Rope-dancing Henglers at    194–213
   Astley’s—Circus of Price and Powell—Its Acquisition by the
   Henglers—Clerical Presentation to Frowde, the Clown—Circus
   Difficulties at Liverpool—Retirement of Edward
   Hengler—Rivalry of Howes and Cushing—Discontinuance of the
   Tenting System—Miss Jenny Louise Hengler—Conversion of the
   Palais Royal into an Amphitheatre—Felix Rivolti, the

                             CHAPTER XII.

 The Brothers Sanger—First Appearance in London—Vicissitudes   214–222
   of Astley’s—Batty and Cooke—Purchase of the Theatre by the
   Brothers Sanger—Their Travelling Circus—The Tenting
   System—Barnum and the Sangers

                             CHAPTER XIII.

 American Circuses—American Performers in England, and         223–253
   English Performers in the United States—The Cookes in
   America—Barnum’s Great Show—Yankee Parades—Van Amburgh’s
   Circus and Menagerie—Robinson’s Combined Shows—Stone and
   Murray’s Circus—The Forepaughs—Joel Warner—Side
   Shows—Amphitheatres of New York and New Orleans

                             CHAPTER XIV.

 Reminiscences of a Gymnast—Training and Practising—A          254–267
   Professional Rendezvous—Circus Agencies—The First
   Engagement—Springthorp’s Music-hall—Newsome’s
   Circus—Reception in the Dressing-room—The Company and the
   Stud—The Newsome Family—Miss Newsome’s wonderful Leap
   across a Green Lane—The Handkerchief Trick—An Equine
   Veteran from the Crimea—Engagement to Travel

                              CHAPTER XV.

 Continuation of the Gymnast’s Reminiscences—A Circus on the   268–279
   move—Three Months at Carlisle—Performance for the Benefit
   of local Charities—Removal to Middlesborough—A Stockton
   Man’s Adventure—Journey to York—Circus Ballets—The Paynes
   in the Arena—Accidents in the Ring—A Circus
   Benefit—Removal to Scarborough—A Gymnastic
   Adventure—Twelve Nights at the Pantheon—On the
   Tramp—Return to London

                             CHAPTER XVI.

 Continuation of the Gymnast’s Reminiscences—Circus Men in     280–290
   Difficulties—Heavy Security for a Small Debt—The Sheriff’s
   Officer and the Elephant—Taking Refuge with the
   Lions—Another Provincial Tour—With a Circus in Dublin—A
   Joke in the Wrong Place—A Fenian Hoax—A Case of
   Pikes—Return to England—At the Kentish Watering-places—Off
   to the North

                             CHAPTER XVII.

 Lions and Lion-tamers—Lorenzo and the Lions—Andros and the    291–304
   Lion—The Successor of Macomo—Accident in Bell and Myers’s
   Circus—Lion Hunting—Death of McCarthy—True Causes of
   Accidents with Lions and Tigers—Performing
   Leopards—Anticipating the Millennium—Tame Hyenas—Aggrieves
   Menagerie—Performing Lions, Tigers, Leopards, and
   Hyenas—Camels and Dromedaries—The Great Elephant

                            CHAPTER XVIII.

 Circus Slang—Its Peculiarities and Derivation—Certain         305–318
   Phrases used by others of the Amusing
   Classes—Technicalities of the Circus—The Riders and Clowns
   of Dickens—Sleary’s Circus—Circus Men and Women in Fiction
   and in Real Life—Domestic Habits of Circus People—Dress
   and Manners—The Professional Quarter of the Metropolis


                              CIRCUS LIFE


                          CIRCUS CELEBRITIES.


                               CHAPTER I.

Beginnings of the Circus in England—Tumblers and Performing Horses of
    the Middle Ages—Jacob Hall, the Rope-dancer—Francis Forcer and
    Sadler’s Wells—Vauxhall Gardens—Price’s Equestrian Performances at
    Johnson’s Gardens—Sampson’s Feats of Horsemanship—Philip Astley—His
    Open-air Performances near Halfpenny Hatch—The First Circus—Erection
    of the Amphitheatre in Westminster Road—First Performances
    there—Rival Establishment in Blackfriars Road—Hughes and Clementina.

Considering the national love of everything in which the horse plays a
part, and the lasting popularity of circus entertainments in modern
times, it seems strange that the equine amphitheatre should have been
unknown in England until the close of the last century. That the Romans,
during their occupation of the southern portion of our island,
introduced the sports of the arena, in which chariot-racing varied the
combats of the gladiators, and the fierce encounters of wild beasts, is
shown by the remains of the Amphitheatre at Dorchester, and by records
of the existence of similar structures near St Alban’s, and at Banbury
and Caerleon. After the departure of the Romans, the amphitheatres which
they had erected fell into disuse and decay; but at a later period they
were appropriated to bull-baiting and bear-baiting, and the arena at
Banbury was known as the bull-ring down to a comparatively recent
period. An illumination of one of the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in the
Harleian collection shows one of these ancient amphitheatres, outside a
town; there is a single musician in the arena, to whose music a man is
dancing, while another performer exhibits a tame bear, which appears to
be simulating sleep or death; the spectators are sitting or standing
around, and one of them is applauding the performance in the modern
manner, by clapping his hands.

But from the Anglo-Saxon period to about the middle of the seventeenth
century, the nearest approximation to circus performances was afforded
by the ‘glee-men,’ and the exhibitors of bears that travestied a dance,
and horses that beat a kettle-drum with their fore-feet. Some of the
‘glee-men’ were tumblers and jugglers, and their feats are pourtrayed in
several illuminated manuscripts of the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries. One of these illuminations, engraved in Strutt’s _Sports_,
shows a boy leaping through a hoop; another, in the Cottonian
collection, represents a juggler throwing three balls and three knives
alternately. What is technically called ‘the shower’ is shown in another
illumination of mediæval juggling; and that there were female acrobats
in those days appears from a drawing in one of the Sloane collection of
manuscripts, in which a girl is shown in the attitude of bending
backward. One of the Arundel manuscripts, in the British Museum, shows a
dancing bear; and other illuminations, of a later date, represent a
horse on the tight-rope, and an ox standing on the back of a horse.

Strutt quotes from the seventh volume of the _Archæologia_, the
following account of a rope-flying feat performed by a Spaniard in the
reign of Edward VI. ‘There was a great rope, as great as the cable of a
ship, stretched from the battlements of Paul’s steeple, with a great
anchor at one end, fastened a little before the Dean of Paul’s
house-gate; and when his Majesty approached near the same, there came a
man, a stranger, being a native of Arragon, lying on the rope with his
head forward, casting his arms and legs abroad, running on his breast on
the rope from the battlement to the ground, as if it had been an arrow
out of a bow, and stayed on the ground. Then he came to his Majesty, and
kissed his foot; and so, after certain words to his Highness, he
departed from him again, and went upwards upon the rope, till he came
over the midst of the churchyard, where he, having a rope about him,
played certain mysteries on the rope, as tumbling, and casting one leg
from another. Then took he the rope, and tied it to the cable, and tied
himself by the right leg a little space beneath the wrist of the foot,
and hung by one leg a certain space, and after recovered himself again
with the said rope, and unknit the knot, and came down again. Which
stayed his Majesty, with all the train, a good space of time.’

Holinshed mentions a similar feat which was performed in the following
reign, and which, unhappily, resulted in the death of the performer. In
the reign of Elizabeth lived the famous Banks, whom Sir Walter Raleigh
thought worthy of mention in his History of the World, saying that ‘if
Banks had lived in older times, he would have shamed all the enchanters
in the world; for whosoever was most famous among them could never
master or instruct any beast as he did.’ The animal associated with the
performer so eulogized was a bay horse named Morocco, which was one of
the marvels of the time. An old print represents the animal standing on
his hind legs, with Banks directing his movements.

Morocco seems to have been equally famous for his saltatory exercises
and for his arithmetical calculations and his powers of memory. Moth, in
_Love’s Labour Lost_, puzzling Armado with arithmetical questions, says,
‘The dancing horse will tell you,’ an allusion which is explained by a
line of one of Hall’s satires—

                  ‘Strange Morocco’s dumb arithmetic.’

Sir Kenelm Digby records that the animal ‘would restore a glove to the
due owner after the master had whispered the man’s name in his ear; and
would tell the just number of pence in any piece of silver coin newly
showed him by his master.’ De Melleray, in a note to his translation of
the _Golden Ass_ of Apuleius, says that he witnessed the performance of
this animal in the Rue St Jacques, in Paris, to which city Banks
proceeded in or before 1608; and he states that Morocco could not only
tell the number of francs in a crown, but knew that the crown was
depreciated at that time, and also the exact amount of the depreciation.

The fame which Banks and his horse acquired in France, brought the
former under the imputation of being a sorcerer, and he probably had a
narrow escape of being burned at a stake in that character. Bishop
Morton tells the story as follows:—

‘Which bringeth into my remembrance a story which Banks told me at
Frankfort, from his own experience in France among the Capuchins, by
whom he was brought into suspicion of magic, because of the strange
feats which his horse Morocco played (as I take it) at Orleans, where
he, to redeem his credit, promised to manifest to the world, that his
horse was nothing less than a devil. To this end he commanded his horse
to seek out one in the press of the people who had a crucifix on his
hat; which done, he bade him kneel down unto it, and not this only, but
also to rise up again and to kiss it. And now, gentlemen (quoth he), I
think my horse hath acquitted both me and himself; and so his
adversaries rested satisfied; conceiving (as it might seem) that the
devil had no power to come near the cross.’

That Banks travelled with his learned horse from Paris to Orleans, and
thence to Frankfort, is shown by this extract; but his further
wanderings are unrecorded. It has been inferred, from the following
lines of a burlesque poem by Jonson, that he suffered at last the fate
he escaped at Orleans; but the grounds which the poet had for supposing
such a dreadful end for the poor horse-charmer are unknown.

        ‘But ’mongst these Tiberts, who do you think there was?
        Old Banks, the juggler, our Pythagoras,
        Grave tutor to the learned horse; both which,
        Being, beyond sea, burned for one witch,
        Their spirits transmigrated to a cat.’

These itinerant performers seem to have divided their time between town
and country, as many of them do at the present day. Sir William
Davenant, describing the street sights of the metropolis in his curious
poem entitled _The Long Vacation in London_, says—

                ‘Now, vaulter good, and dancing lass
                On rope, and man that cries, Hey, pass!
                And tumbler young that needs but stoop,
                Lay head to heel to creep through hoop;
                And man in chimney hid to dress
                Puppet that acts our old Queen Bess;
                And man, that while the puppets play,
                Through nose expoundeth what they say;
                And white oat-eater that does dwell
                In stable small at sign of Bell,
                That lifts up hoof to show the pranks
                Taught by magician styled Banks;
                And ape led captive still in chain
                Till he renounce the Pope and Spain;
                All these on hoof now trudge from town
                To cheat poor turnip-eating clown.’

About the middle of the seventeenth century, some of these wandering
performers began to locate themselves permanently in the metropolis.
Jacob Hall, the rope-dancer, was scarcely less famous as an acrobat,
being clever and alert in somersaults and flip-flaps, performing the
former over naked rapiers and men’s heads, and through hoops. He is
mentioned by contemporary memoir writers as the first lover of Nell
Gwynne, who appears, however, in a short time to have transferred her
favours to Harte, the actor. In 1683, one Sadler opened the music-house
at Islington which, from the circumstance of a mineral spring being
discovered on the spot, became known by the name of Sadler’s Wells,
which it has retained to this day. It was not until after Sadler’s
death, however, that rope-dancing and acrobats’ performances were added
to the musical entertainments which, with the water, were the sole
attraction of the place in its earliest days. The change was made by
Francis Forcer, whose son was for several years the principal performer
there. Forcer sold the establishment to Rosamond, the builder of
Rosamond’s Row, Clerkenwell, who contrived, by judicious management, to
amass a considerable fortune.

Of the nature of the amusements in Forcer’s time we have a curious
account in a communication made to the _European Magazine_ by a
gentleman who received it from Macklin, the actor, whom he met at
Sadler’s Wells towards the close of his life. ‘Sir,’ said the veteran
comedian, ‘I remember the time when the price of admission here was
threepence, except a few places scuttled off at the sides of the stage
at sixpence, and which were usually reserved for people of fashion, who
occasionally came to see the fun. Here we smoked and drank porter and
rum-and-water as much as we could pay for, and every man had his doxy
that liked; and, although we had a mixture of very odd company,—for I
believe it was a good deal the baiting-place of thieves and
highwaymen,—there was little or no rioting.’

During the period between Rosamond’s management and the conversion of
the place into a theatre for dramas of the kind for which the Adelphi
and the Coburg became famous at a later day, the entertainments at
Sadler’s Wells consisted of pantomimes and musical interludes. In
Forcer’s time, according to the account said to have been given by
Macklin, they consisted of ‘hornpipes and ballad singing, with a kind of
pantomime-ballet, and some lofty tumbling; and all done by daylight,
with four or five exhibitions every day. The proprietors had always a
fellow on the outside of the booth to calculate how many people were
collected for a second exhibition; and when he thought there were
enough, he came to the back of the upper seats, and cried out, “Is Hiram
Fisteman here?” That was the cant word agreed upon between the parties
to know the state of the people without: upon which they concluded the
entertainment with a song, dismissed the audience, and prepared for a
second representation.’

Joseph Clark, the posturer, was one of the wonders of London during the
reigns of James II. and William III., obtaining mention even in the
Transactions of the Philosophical Society, as having ‘such an absolute
command of all his muscles and joints that he could disjoint almost his
whole body.’ His exhibitions do not seem, however, to have been of a
pleasing character, consisting chiefly in the imitation of every kind of
human deformity. He could produce at will, and in a moment, without
padding, the semblance of a Quasimodo or a Tichborne Claimant, his ‘fair
round belly, with good capon lined,’ shift his temporary hump from one
side to the other, project either hip, and twist his limbs into every
conceivable complication. He could change his form so much as to defy a
tailor to measure him, and imposed so completely on Molins, a famous
surgeon of that time, as to be regarded by him as an incurable cripple.
His portrait in Tempest’s collection shows him shouldering his leg, an
antic which is imitated by a monkey.

There was a famous vaulter of this time, named William Stokes, who seems
to have been the first to introduce horses in the performance; and in a
book called the _Vaulting Master_, published at Oxford in 1652, boasts
that he had reduced vaulting to a method. The book is illustrated by
plates, representing different examples of his practice, in which he is
shown vaulting over one or more horses, or leaping upon them; in one
alighting in the saddle, and in another upon the bare back of a horse.
It is singular that this last feat should not have been performed after
Stokes’s time, until Alfred Bradbury exhibited it a few years ago at the
Amphitheatre in Holborn. It is improbable that Bradbury had seen the
book, and his performance of the feat is, in that case, one more
instance of the performance of an original act by more than one person
at considerable intervals of time.

May Fair, which has given its name to a locality now aristocratic,
introduces us, in 1702—the year in which the fearful riot occurred in
which a constable was killed there—to Thomas Simpson, an equestrian
vaulter, described in a bill of Husband’s booth as ‘the famous vaulting
master of England.’ A few years later a bill of the entertainments of
Bartholomew Fair, preserved in Bagford’s collection in the library of
the British Museum, mentions tight-rope dancing and some performing
dogs, which had had the honour of appearing before Queen Anne and ‘most
of the quality.’ The vaulters, and posturers, and tight-rope performers
of this period were not all the vagabonds they were in the eye of the
law. Fawkes, a posturer and juggler of the first half of the eighteenth
century, started, in conjunction with a partner named Pinchbeck, a show
which was for many years one of the chief attractions of the London
fairs, and appears to have realized a considerable fortune.

The earliest notice of Vauxhall Gardens occurs in the _Spectator_ of May
20th, 1712, in a paper written by Addison, when they had probably just
been opened. They were then a fashionable promenade, the entertainments
for which the place was afterwards famous not being introduced until at
least a century later. In 1732 they were leased to Jonathan Tyers, whose
name is preserved in two neighbouring streets, Tyers Street and Jonathan
Street; and ten years later they were purchased by the same individual,
and became as famous as Ranelagh Gardens for musical entertainments and
masked balls. Admission was by season tickets only, and it is worthy of
note that the inimitable Hogarth, from whose designs of the four parts
of the day Hayman decorated the concert-room, furnished the design for
the tickets, which were of silver. Tyers gave Hogarth a gold ticket of
perpetual admission for six persons, or one coach; and the artist’s
widow bequeathed it to a relative. This unique relic of the departed
glories of Vauxhall was last used in 1836, and is now in the possession
of Mr Frederick Gye, who gave twenty pounds for it.

Hogarth’s picture of Southwark Fair introduces to us more than one of
that generation of the strange race whose several varieties contribute
so much to the amusement of the public. The slack-rope performer is
Violante, of whom we read in Malcolm’s _Londinium Redivivus_ that, ‘soon
after the completion of the steeple [St Martin’s in the Fields], an
adventurous Italian, named Violante, descended from the arches, head
foremost, on a rope stretched thence across St Martin’s Lane to the
Royal Mews; the princesses being present, and many eminent persons.’
Hogarth shows another performer of this feat in the background of his
picture, namely, Cadman, who was killed in 1740, in an attempt to
descend from the summit of a church-steeple in Shrewsbury. The
circumstances of this sad catastrophe are set forth in the epitaph on
the unfortunate man’s gravestone, which is as follows:—

            ‘Let this small monument record the name
            Of Cadman, and to future times proclaim
            Here, by an attempt to fly from this high spire
            Across the Sabrine stream, he did acquire
            His fatal end. ’Twas not for want of skill
            Or courage to perform the task, he fell:
            No, no—a faulty cord, being drawn too tight
            Hurried his soul on high to take her flight,
            Which bid the body here beneath good night.’

The earliest advertisement of Sadler’s Wells which I have been able to
find is one of 1739, which states that ‘the usual diversions will begin
this day at five o’clock in the evening, with a variety of rope-dancing,
tumbling, singing, and several new entertainments of dancing, both
serious and comic; concluding with the revived grotesque pantomime
called _Happy Despair_, with additions and alterations.’ An
advertisement of the following year introduces Miss Rayner as a
performer on the tight rope, who in 1748 appeared in conjunction with a
younger sister. The acrobats of the latter period were Williams, Hough,
and Rayner, the latter probably father or brother of the fair performers
on the _corde elastique_.

The New Wells, at the bottom of Leman Street, Goodman’s Fields, were
opened at this time, and introduced to the public a French rope-dancer
named Dugée, who also tumbled, in conjunction with Williams, who had
left the Islington place of entertainment, and another acrobat named
Janno. Williams is announced in an advertisement of 1748 to vault over
the heads of ten men. The admission here was by payment for a pint of
wine or punch, which was the case also at Sadler’s Wells at this time;
but in an announcement of a benefit the charges for admission are stated
at eighteen-pence and half-a-crown, with the addition that the night
will be moonlight, and that wine may be obtained at two shillings per

Twenty years later, we find announced at Sadler’s Wells, ‘feats of
activity by Signor Nomora and Signora Rossi, and many curious and
uncommon equilibres by Le Chevalier des Linges.’ In 1771 the
rope-dancers here were Ferzi (sometimes spelt Farci) and Garmon, who
was, a few years later, a member of the first company formed by the
celebrated Philip Astley for the Amphitheatre in the Westminster Road.

The first equestrian performances ever seen in England, other than those
of the itinerant exhibitors of performing horses, were given on the site
of Dobney’s Place, at the back of Penton Street, Islington. It was then
a tea-garden and bowling-green, to which one Johnson, who obtained a
lease of the premises in 1767, added such performances as then attracted
seekers after amusement to Sadler’s Wells. One Price, concerning whose
antecedents the strictest research has failed to discover any
information, gave equestrian performances at this place in 1770, and
soon had a rival in one Sampson, who performed similar feats in a field
behind the Old Hats.

About the same time, feats of horsemanship were exhibited in Lambeth, in
a field near Halfpenny Hatch, which, it may be necessary to inform your
readers, stood where a broad ditch, which then ran through the fields
and market gardens now covered by the streets between Westminster Road
and Blackfriars Road, was crossed by a swivel bridge. There was a narrow
pathway through the fields and gardens, for the privilege of using which
a halfpenny was paid to the owners at a cottage near the bridge. In one
of these fields Philip Astley—a great name in circus annals—formed his
first ring with a rope and some stakes, going round with his hat after
each performance to collect the loose halfpence of the admiring

This remarkable man was born in 1742, at Newcastle-under-Lyme, where his
father carried on the business of a cabinet-maker. He received little or
no education, and after working a few years with his father, enlisted in
a cavalry regiment. His imposing appearance, being over six feet in
height, with the proportions of a Hercules, and the voice of a Stentor,
attracted attention to him; and his capture of a standard at the battle
of Emsdorff made him one of the celebrities of his regiment. While
serving in the army, he learned some feats of horsemanship from an
itinerant equestrian named Johnson, perhaps the man under whose
management Price introduced equestrian performances at Sadler’s
Wells,—and often exhibited them for the amusement of his comrades. On
his discharge from the army, he was presented by General Elliot with a
horse, and thereupon he bought another in Smithfield, and commenced
those open-air performances in Lambeth which have already been noticed.

After a time, he built a rude circus upon a piece of ground near
Westminster Bridge which had been used as a timber-yard, being the site
of the theatre which has been known by his name for nearly a century.
Only the seats were roofed over, the ring in which he performed being
open to the air. One of his horses, which he had taught to perform a
variety of tricks, he soon began to exhibit, at an earlier period of
each day, in a large room in Piccadilly, where the entertainment was
eked out with conjuring and _ombres Chinoises_—a kind of shadow

One of the earliest advertisements of the Surrey side establishment sets
forth that the entertainment consisted of ‘horsemanship by Mr Astley, Mr
Taylor, Signor Markutchy, Miss Vangable, and other transcendent
performers,’—a minuet by two horses, ‘in a most extraordinary manner,’—a
comical musical interlude, called _The Awkward Recruit_, and an ‘amazing
exhibition of dancing dogs from France and Italy, and other genteel
parts of the globe.’

One of the advertisements of Astley’s performances for 1772, one of the
very few that can be found of that early date, is as follows:—

‘Horsemanship and New Feats of Activity. This and every Evening at six,
Mr and Mrs Astley, Mrs Griffiths, Costmethopila, and a young Gentleman,
will exhibit several extraordinary feats on one, two, three, and four
horses, at the foot of Westminster Bridge.

‘These feats of activity are in number upwards of fifty; to which is
added the new French piece, the different characters by Mr Astley,
Griffiths, Costmethopila, &c. Each will be dressed and mounted on droll

‘Between the acts of horsemanship, a young gentleman will exhibit
several pleasing heavy balances, particularly this night, with a young
Lady nine years old, never performed before in Europe; after which Mr
Astley will carry her on his head in a manner quite different from all
others. Mrs Astley will likewise perform with two horses in the same
manner as she did before their Majesties of England and France, being
the only one of her sex that ever had that honour. The doors to be
opened at five, and begin at six o’clock. A commodious gallery, 120 feet
long, is fitted up in an elegant manner. Admittance there as usual.

‘N.B. Mr Astley will display the broad-sword, also ride on a single
horse, with one foot on the saddle, the other on his head, and every
other feat which can be exhibited by any other. With an addition of
twenty extraordinary feats, such as riding on full speed, with his head
on a common pint pot, at the rate of twelve miles an hour, &c.

‘☞ To specify the particulars of Mr Astley’s performance would fill this
side of the paper, therefore please to ask for a bill at the door, and
see that the number of fifty feats are performed, Mr Astley having
placed them in acts as the performance is exhibited. The amazing little
Military Horse, which fires a pistol at the word of command, will this
night exhibit upwards of twenty feats in a manner far superior to any
other, and meets with the greatest applause.’

An advertisement issued at the close of the season, in 1775, announces
‘the last new feats of horsemanship, four persons on three horses, or a
journey to Paris; also, the _pynamida_ on full speed by Astley, Griffin,
and Master Phillips.’ This curious word is probably a misprint for

In this year, Richer, the famous harlequin, revived the ladder-dancing
feat at Sadler’s Wells, where he also joined in the acrobatic
performances of Rayner, Garmon, and Huntley, the last being a new
addition to the _troupe_. Other ‘feats of activity’ were performed by
the Sigols, and Ferzi and others exhibited their evolutions on the
tight-rope. The same names appear in the advertisements of the following
year, when rivals appeared in vaulting and tight-rope dancing at
Marylebone Gardens.

‘As Mr Astley’s celebrated new performances at Westminster Bridge draws
near to a conclusion,’ says one of the great equestrian’s advertisements
of 1776, ‘it is humbly requested the present opportunity may not escape
the notice of the ladies and gentlemen. Perhaps such another exhibition
is not to be found in Europe. To the several entertainments of the
riding-school is added, the Grand Temple of Minerva, acknowledged by all
ranks of people to be extremely beautiful. The curtain of the Temple to
ascend at five o’clock, and descend at six, at which time the grand
display will be made in a capital manner, consisting of rope-vaulting on
full swing, with many new pleasing additions of horsemanship, both
serious and comic; various feats of activity and comic tumbling, the
learned little horse, the Roman battle, _le force d’Hercule_, or the
Egyptian pyramids, an entertainment never seen in England; with a
variety of other performances extremely entertaining. The doors to be
opened at five, and begin at six precisely. Admittance in the gallery
2_s._, the riding school 1_s._ A price by no means adequate to the
evening’s diversion.’

Having saved some money out of the proceeds of these performances,
Astley erected the Amphitheatre, which, in its early years, resembled
the present circus in Holborn more than the building subsequently
identified with the equestrian triumphs of Ducrow. Chinese shadows were
still found attractive, it seems, for they constitute the first item in
one of the programmes of 1780, in which year the Amphitheatre was
opened. Then came feats of horsemanship by Griffin, Jones, and Miller,
the clown to the ring being Burt. Tumbling—‘acrobatics’ had not been
extracted from the Greek dictionary in those days—by Nevit, Porter,
Dawson, and Garmon followed; and it is worthy of remark that none of the
circus performers of the last century seem to have deemed it expedient
to Italianize their names, or to assume fanciful appellations, such as
the Olympian Brothers, or the Marvels of Peru. After the tumbling, the
feat of riding two and three horses at the same time was exhibited, the
performer modestly concealing his name, which was probably Philip
Astley. Next came ‘slack-rope vaulting in full swing, in different
attitudes,’ tricks on chairs and ladders, a burlesque equestrian act by
the clown, and, lastly, ‘the amazing performance of men piled upon men,
or the Egyptian pyramid.’

About the same time that the Amphitheatre was opened, the Royal Circus,
which afterwards became the Surrey Theatre, was erected in Blackfriar’s
Road by the elder Dibdin and an equestrian named Hughes, who is
described as a man of fine appearance and immense strength. The place
being unlicensed, the lessees had to close it in the midst of success;
but a license was obtained, and it was re-opened in March, 1783.
Burlettas were here combined with equestrian performances, and for some
time a spirited competition with Astley’s was maintained. The
advertisements of the Circus are as curious for their grammar and
strange sprinkling of capitals as for their personal allusions. A few
specimens culled from the newspapers of the period are subjoined:—

No. 1.—‘The celebrated Sobieska Clementina and Mr Hughes on Horseback
will end on Monday next, the 4th of October; until then they will
display the whole of their Performances, which are allowed, by those who
know best, to be the completest of the kind in Europe. Hughes humbly
thanks the Nobility, &c., for the honour of their support, and also
acquaints them his Antagonist has catched a bad cold so near to
Westminster bridge, and for his recovery is gone to a warmer Climate,
which is Bath in Somersetshire. He boasts, poor Fellow, no more of
activity, and is now turned Conjuror, in the character of ‘Sieur the
Great.’ Therefore Hughes is unrivalled, and will perform his surprising
feats accordingly at his Horse Academy, until the above Day. The Doors
to be opened at Four o’clock, and Mounts at half-past precisely. H. has
a commodious Room, eighty feet long. N. B. Sobieska rides on one, two,
and three horses, being the only one of her Sex that ever performed on
one, two, and three.’

No. 2.—‘Hughes has the honour to inform the Nobility, &c., that he has
no intention of setting out every day to France for three following
Seasons, his Ambition being fully satisfied by the applause he has
received from Foreign Gentlemen who come over the Sea to See him.
Clementina and Miss Huntly ride one, two, and three horses at full
speed, and takes Leaps surprising. A little Lady, only Eight Years old,
rides Two Horses at full gallop by herself, without the assistance of
any one to hold her on. Enough to put any one in fits to see her. H.
will engage to ride in Twenty Attitudes that never were before
attempted; in particular, he will introduce his Horse of Knowledge,
being the only wise animal in the Metropolis. A Sailor in full gallop to
Portsmouth, without a bit of Bridle or Saddle. The Maccaroni Tailor
riding to Paris for new Fashions. This being Mr Pottinger’s night, he
will speak a Prologue adapted to the noble art of Riding, and an
Epilogue also suited to Extraordinary Leaps. Tickets (2_s._) to be had
of Mr Wheble, bookseller, Paternoster-row, and at H.’s Riding School.
Mounts half-past four.’

No. 3.—‘Hughes, with the celebrated Sobieska Clementina, the famous Miss
Huntly, and an astonishing Young Gentleman (son of a Person of Quality),
will exhibit at Blackfriars-road more Extraordinary things than ever yet
witnessed, such as leaping over a Horse forty times without stopping
between the springs—Leaps the Bar standing on the Saddle with his Back
to the Horse’s Tail, and, _Vice-Versa_, Rides at full speed with his
right Foot on the Saddle, and his left Toe in his Mouth, two surprising
Feet. Mrs Hughes takes a fly and fires a Pistol—rides at full speed
standing on Pint Pots—mounts pot by pot, higher still, to the terror of
all who see her. H. carries a lady at full speed over his
head—surprising! The young gentleman will recite verses of his own
making, and act Mark Antony, between the leaps. Clementina every night—a
commodious room for the nobility.’

The excitement of apparent danger was evidently as much an element of
the popular interest in circus performances a century ago as at the
present day.

Colonel West, to whom the ground on which the circus was erected
belonged, became a partner in the enterprise, and invested a large
amount in it. On his death the concern became very much embarrassed, and
struggled for several years with a load of debt. Hughes was succeeded as
manager by Grimaldi, a Portuguese, the grandfather of the famous clown
whom some of us remember at Covent Garden; and Grimaldi, in 1780, by
Delpini, an Italian buffo singer, under whose management the novel
spectacle of a stag-hunt was introduced in the arena.

Sadler’s Wells continued to give the usual entertainment, the
advertisements of 1780 announcing ‘a great variety of singing, dancing,
tumbling, posturing, rope-dancing,’ &c., by the usual very capital
performers, and others, more particularly tumbling by Rayner, Tully,
Huntley, Garmon, and Grainger, ‘pleasing and surprising feats of
strength and agility’ by Richer and Baptiste, and their pupils, and
tight-rope dancing by Richer, Baptiste, and Signora Mariana, varied
during a portion of the season by the last-named _artiste’s_ ‘new and
extraordinary performance on the slack wire, particularly a curious
display of two flags, and a pleasing trick with a hoop and three glasses
of wine.’

Astley’s soon became a popular place of amusement for all classes.
Horace Walpole, writing to Lord Stafford, says:—

‘London, at this time of the year [September], is as nauseous a drug as
any in an apothecary’s shop. I could find nothing at all to do, and so
went to Astley’s, which, indeed, was much beyond my expectation. I do
not wonder any longer that Darius was chosen King by the instructions he
gave to his horse; nor that Caligula made his Consul. Astley can make
his dance minuets and hornpipes. But I shall not have even Astley now:
Her Majesty the Queen of France, who has as much taste as Caligula, has
sent for the whole of the _dramatis personæ_ to Paris.’

Among the expedients to which Astley occasionally had recourse for the
purpose of drawing a great concourse of people to the Surrey side of the
Thames was a balloon ascent, an attraction frequently had recourse to in
after times at Vauxhall, the Surrey Gardens, Cremorne, the Crystal
Palace, and other places of popular resort. The balloon was despatched
from St George’s Fields on the 12th of March, 1784, ‘in the presence,’
says a writer in the _Gentleman’s Magazine_, ‘of a greater number of
spectators than were, perhaps, ever assembled together on any occasion;’
and he adds that, ‘many of the spectators will have reason to remember
it; for a more ample harvest for the pickpockets never was presented.
Some noblemen and gentlemen lost their watches, and many their purses.
The balloon, launched about half-past one in the afternoon, was found at
Faversham.’ This ascent took place within two months after that of the
Montgolfiere balloon at Lyons, and was, therefore, probably the first
ever attempted in this country; while, by a strange coincidence, the
first aerostatic experiment ever made in Scotland was made on the same
day that Astley’s ascended, but about an hour later, from Heriot’s
Gardens, Edinburgh.

Horace Walpole writes, in allusion to a subsequent balloon ascent, and
the excitement which it created in the public mind,—

‘I doubt it has put young Astley’s nose out of joint, who went to Paris
lately under their Queen’s protection, and expected to be Prime
Minister, though he only ventured his neck by dancing a minuet on three
horses at full gallop, and really in that attitude has as much grace as
the Apollo Belvedere.’ The fame of the Astleys receives further
illustration from a remark of Johnson’s, that ‘Whitfield never drew as
much attention as a mountebank does: he did not draw attention by doing
better than others, but by doing what was strange. Were Astley to preach
a sermon standing on his head, or on a horse’s back, he would collect a
multitude to hear him; but no wise man would say he had made a better
sermon for that.’

The earliest displayed advertisement of Astley’s which I have been able
to discover, is as follows, which appeared in 1788:


                             YOUNG ASTLEY’S


                           _In the intervals_

                        A NEW WAR ENTERTAINMENT,

In which will be introduced a SINGLE COMBAT with the BROADSWORD between
YOUNG ASTLEY, as a British Sailor, and MR J. TAYLOR, as a Savage Chief;
after which a General Engagement between British Sailors and Savages.
The Scenery, Machinery, Songs, Dances, and Dresses, adapted to the
manners of the different Countries.


                        By a most capital Group.

                       A NEW COMIC DANCE, CALLED

                         THE GERMAN CHASSEURS,

                      With New Music, Dresses, &c.


                            THE INVITATION.

               The Songs and Choruses, together with the

                         Dresses, entirely new.

                        A GRAND ENTRY OF HORSES.

                     A MINUET DANCE BY TWO HORSES,

And other extraordinary performances by the Horses.

                       A New Comic Dance, called

                        THE ETHIOPIAN FESTIVAL,

In which will be introduced a New Pas de Trois, never performed in
London, Composed by Mons. Vermigli, _Eleve de l’Opera_, and danced by
him, Mr Marqui, and Mr J. Taylor, representing the whimsical Actions and
Attitudes made use of by the Negroes. After which a Pas de Deux,
composed by Mons. Ferrer, and danced by him and Mad. Fuzzi, in the
character of an Indian Prince and Princess. The Music and Dresses
entirely new.

              A New favourite Song, by MR JOHANNOT, Called


                          AND OTHER EXERCISES,

By Master Crossman, Mr Jenkins, Mr Lonsdale, Mr J. Taylor, and Miss
Vangabel; Clown, Mr Miller.

The whole to conclude with a New Entertainment of Singing, Dancing, and
Dumb-Shew to Speaking Music, called the

                              MAGIC WORLD.

In which will be introduced, behind a large transparent Painting,
representing the enchanted World, a variety of Magical, Pantomimical,
Farcical, Tragical, Comic Deceptions; together with a grand Procession
of Caricature Figures, displaying a variety of whimsical Devices in a
manner entirely New.

Doors to be opened at half-past Five, and to begin precisely at
half-past Six.

                 BOXES 3_s._—PIT 2_s._—GALL. 1_s._—SIDE
                              GALL. 6_d._

I found this advertisement, and the following one, which was issued in
the same year, but at a later period, in a collection of similar
literary curiosities purchased at the sale of the effects of the late Mr
Lacey, the well-known theatrical bookseller, of the Strand.

                   THIS EVENING, will be presented at


                 An entire new pantomimic Dance, called

                        THE HUMOURS OF GIL BLAS

                               (A Parody)

As performed with applause at the Theatres on the Boulevards, Paris.

Gil Blas, _Mr Jenkins_—His Father, _Mr Henley_—Uncle, _Mr
Lonsdale_—Servant, _Mr Bell_—Flash the Spaniard, _Mr Ferrere_—Mungo,
his Servant, _Master Collet_—Doctor, _Mr Fox_—Maria (fat Cook), _Mr
Connell_—Spanish Lady, _Mrs Stevens_—Gil Blas Mother, _Mrs
Henley_—Post Boy, _Master Crossman_—Captain of the Banditti, _Mr
Johannot_—Lieutenant, _Mr Fox_—Signal Man, _Mr De Castro_—Spy, _Mr
Millard_—Captain of the Cavern, _Mr Wallack_.

The Rest of the Banditti, by the Remainder of the Company. Dancers,
_Mons. Vermigli_, _Madame Ferrere_, and _Mademoiselle Meziere_.

                            To conclude with

                            A SPANISH FAIR,

In which will be introduced a multiplicity of Drolls, Shews, &c., with a
surprising Real Gigantic Spanish Pig, measuring from head to tail 12
feet, and 12 hands high, weighing 12 cwt., which will be rode by a


                    By YOUNG ASTLEY, and other Capital


                         A Musical Piece, called

                            THE DIAMOND RING:

                          Or, THE JEW OUTWITTED.

Israel, _Mr De Castro_—Harry, _Mr Millard_—Feignlove, _Mr Fox_—Maid,
_Mrs Wallack_—Lucy Feignlove, _Mrs Henley_.


By Mr Lonsdale, Mr Jenkins, Mr Bell, Master Crossman, Master Jenkinson,
Master Collet, and others.

A favourite Dance, composed by Mons. Vermigli, (_Eleve de l’Opera_)

                       THE SPORTS OF THE VILLAGE.

                        A Musical Piece, called

                     THE BLACK AND WHITE MILLINERS.

Tiffany, _Mr Connell_—Myrtle, _Mr Wallack_—Timewell, _Mr Miller_—Doctor
Spruce, _Mr Fox_—Sprightly, _Mr Johannot_—Nancy, _Mrs Wallack_—Fanny,
_Mrs Wigley_—Mrs Tiffany, _Mrs Henley_.

The whole to conclude with a Pantomime, called

                            THE MAGIC WORLD,

In which will be introduced behind a large transparent Painting,
representing the enchanted World, a variety of magical, pantomimical,
farcical, tragical, comic Deceptions, together with a Grand Procession
of Caricature Figures, displaying a variety of whimsical Devices, with
the Emblems of the Inhabitants of the Four Quarters of the Globe, in a
Manner entirely New.

                             To finish with

                         THE GIBRALTAR CHARGER:

                     Surrounded by a Chain of Fire.

Equestrianism does not make a very important figure in the announcements
of the Royal Circus at this period, which simply inform the public that
‘the performances will commence with horsemanship by Mr Hughes and his
unrivaled pupils.’ The programme was chiefly musical, and concluded with
a pantomime, in which Rayner, the acrobat, from Sadler’s Wells,
sustained the part of Harlequin. At the latter place of amusement,
charges ranging from a shilling to three shillings and sixpence were now
made for admission, and the performances, other than music and dancing,
consisted of posturing by a boy called the Infant Hercules, and
tight-rope dancing by Madame Romaine, another female _artiste_ known as
_La Belle Espagnole_, and two lads, one of whom was a son of Richer, the
other known as the Little Devil. Grimaldi the Second, son of the manager
of the Royal Circus, and father of the famous Joey Grimaldi, was clown
at this establishment for many years, commencing, it is said, at the
munificent salary of three shillings per week, which was gradually
raised until, in 1794, we find him receiving four pounds per week.

I cannot better conclude this chapter than with the following strictures
upon the places of amusement to which it chiefly relates, culled from a
newspaper of 1788:—

‘If the objections which are made to permitting the present existing
theatres or places of public amusement to continue arises from a
principle of morality, which indeed is the only plea of opposition which
can be alleged, it is somewhat strange that the only exception should be
made in favour of Sadler’s Wells, at which _alone_, it is worthy of
remark, a man may if he chooses get drunk. A pint of liquor is included
in the price of admittance, but as much more may be had as any person
chooses to call for. The heat of the place is a great inducement, and we
believe many _females_ have from that cause drank more than has let them
depart in their sober senses, the consequences of which are obvious.
This is not permitted at Astley’s, the Circus, or the Royalty.’

The last-mentioned place of amusement was a Variety Theatre, in Wells
Street, Goodman’s Fields, which had risen out of the New Wells, and gave
entertainments similar to those of Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Circus.

                              CHAPTER II.

Fortunes of the Royal Circus—Destruction of Astley’s Amphitheatre by
    Fire—Its Reconstruction—Second Conflagration—Astley in Paris—Burning
    of the Royal Circus—Erection of the Olympic Pavilion—Hengler, the
    Rope-dancer—Astley’s Horses—Dancing Horses—The Trick Horse,
    Billy—Abraham Saunders—John Astley and William Davis—Death of Philip
    Astley—Vauxhall Gardens—Andrew Ducrow—John Clarke—Barrymore’s Season
    at Astley’s—Hippo-dramatic Spectacles—The first Circus Camel.

For nearly forty years after the opening of Astley’s Amphitheatre, the
performances did not differ, in any respect, from the usual
entertainment of the smallest tenting company now travelling. The
earliest bill of the collection in the library of the British Museum was
issued in 1791, when the great attraction of the place appears to have
been the somersault over twelve horses, called _le grand saut du
Trampolin_, of James Lawrence, whose vaulting feats gained him the name
(in the bills) of the Great Devil.

In 1792, the entertainments comprised a considerable musical element,
and concluded with a pantomime. One of the advertisements of this year
announces the performances in the arena as follows:—

‘Horsemanship, and exercises for the Light Dragoons—Ground and lofty
tumbling—A grand entry of horses—Equestrian exercises, particularly the
metamorphose of the sack—Wonderful equilibres on a single
horse—Whimsical piece of horsemanship, called _The Taylor riding to

Sadler’s Wells continued to vary its programme with tumbling and
rope-dancing, and in 1792 gave ‘a pleasing exhibition of strength and
posture-work, entirely new, called _Le Tableau Chinois_, by Signor
Bologna and his children, in which will be displayed a variety of
curious and striking manœuvres. Tight-rope dancing by the Little
Devil and Master Bologna, with the comic accompaniment of Signor Pietro

From the Royal Circus announcements of the following year, I select the
following two, as good illustrations of the kind of performances then
given, and curious examples of circus bills eighty years ago:—

                             ROYAL CIRCUS.

The Company at the CIRCUS beg leave to acquaint the Nobility, Gentry,
and Public, that young CROSSMAN will appear this present Evening, August
7, on HORSEBACK, and challenge all the Horsemen in Europe.


                     DANCING, PYRAMIDS, GROUND AND

                      LOFTY TUMBLING, &c. &c. &c.

The performance will commence with a Grand Entry of Horses, mounted by
the Troop. Young CROSSMAN’S unparalleled Peasant Hornpipe, and Hag
Dance, not to be equalled by any Horseman in this Kingdom.

LE GRAND SAUT DE TRAMPOLINE by Mr PORTER, (Clown) who will jump over a
garter 15 feet from the ground, and fire off two Pistols.

THE MUSICAL CHILD, (only nine years of age) will go through his
wonderful Performance. Mr SMITH will go through a variety of
Performances on a Single Horse.

                        THE HUMOURS OF THE SACK,

                   OR, THE CLOWN DECEIVED BY A WOMAN.

                            FRICASSEE DANCE,

                     By Mr CROSSMAN and Mr PORTER.

Mr INGHAM (from Dublin) will throw an innumerable Row of Flipflaps.

Mr CROSSMAN will vault over the Horse backwards and forwards, with his
Legs Tied, in a manner not to be equalled by any Performer in this

                       GROUND AND LOFTY TUMBLING,

                          by the whole Troop.

The AFRICAN will go through his astonishing Stage and Equestrian

                         LA FORCE DE HERCULES:

                         Or, THE RUINS OF TROY.

Mr PORTER will perform on a single Horse, in a ludicrous manner.

Young CROSSMAN will leap from a single Horse over Two Garters, 12 feet
high, and alight again on the Saddle, and Play the Violin in various

                         THE TAYLOR’S DISASTER,

                Or, his Wonderful Journey to Brentford,

                             By MR PORTER.

To conclude with a REAL FOX and STAG CHASE, by twelve couple of Hounds,
and two real FOXES, and a real STAG HUNT, as performed before their

Crossman, it will be seen, had transferred his services from Astley’s to
the rival establishment, where he must have been an acquisition of some
importance. The Ducrow mentioned in the second bill, must have been the
father of the celebrated equestrian of that name.

                        CHANGE OF PERFORMANCES.

                           THE WINDSOR HUNT.

             This and every Evening, until further Notice,

                                 at the

                             ROYAL CIRCUS,

            In which will be introduced a Representation of

                      THE DEER CARRIAGE AND STAG,

With Horsemen and Women coming out of Holyport Mead to see the Stag
turned out; the Hunt will be then joined by Ten Male and Three Female
Equestrians. The Stag will be Twice, and the Horsemen and Horsewomen
Five Times, in FULL VIEW.

                      AN ENTIRE NEW DANCE, CALLED

                        THE CROATIAN MERCHANTS,

Composed by MONS. FERRERE. Principal Dancers, _Mons. Ferrere_, _Madame
Ferrere_, _Mons. D’Egville_, and _Signora Fuzi_, with Six Couple of
Figurants. The Dresses and Decorations entirely New, by Mr RISLEBEN.

                             YOUNG CROSSMAN

Will appear this and every Evening on HORSEBACK, and challenge all the
Horsemen in Europe.

                          TIGHT-ROPE DANCING,

                  By the celebrated SAXONI, from Rome.

                PYRAMIDS, GROUND and LOFTY TUMBLING, &c.

                   The Grand Leaps over SEVEN HORSES.

Also, through the HOOP on FIRE, fourteen feet high, by MR PORTER and MR
DUCROW. The former will leap over more Horses than any Man in Europe.

               MR FRANKLIN’S inimitable Performances with

                         THE CHILD OF PROMISE,

In various attitudes. Playing on the violin, &c., MR SMITH, MR INGHAM,

                          THE FAMOUS AFRICAN,

(Who is not to be equalled) will go through the TILTS and TOURNAMENTS,
and MILITARY EXERCISES, as performed on HORSEBACK, in the FIELD and

                         To which will be added,

                          THE TAYLOR’S DISASTER!

                              AND FOX HUNT.

                By the above Male and Female Equestrians.

The performances at Sadler’s Wells this year included ‘a series of
varied equilibres and posture-work, called _Le Tableau Chinois_, by
Signor Bologna and his children,’ and ‘a capital display of agility on
the tight-rope by the inimitable Mr Richer, from Petersburgh; also the
pleasing exertions of _La Belle Espagnole_.’ There does not appear to
have been many changes in the programme of this establishment, which in
the following year presented ‘a new and picturesque exhibition, called
the Pastimes of Pekin, or Kien Quang’s Family Tree; in which will be
displayed, by a group of ten capital performers, under the direction of
the Great Kien Quang, a variety of entertainments and active
manœuvres, _a la Chinois_, with banners, garlands, and umbrellas;’
and ‘the pleasing and varied exertions of Messrs Bologna and _La Belle

Astley’s Amphitheatre was destroyed by fire in 1794, to the serious loss
of the proprietor, who was not insured; but such was his indomitable
energy and enterprise that it was rebuilt in time to be opened on Easter
Monday, in the following year. In the mean while, in order to keep his
company and stud employed, he had converted the Lyceum into a circus, in
conjunction with a partner named Handy.

The Royal Circus was far from prosperous. The load of debt upon it kept
the lessees in a position of constant difficulty and embarrassment, and
in 1795 Mrs West levied an execution on the premises. It was then opened
by Jones and Cross, the latter a writer of spectacles and pantomimes for
Covent Garden; and in their hands it remained until it was destroyed by
fire in 1805.

Handy was still Astley’s partner in 1796, when the advertisements
announce ‘thirty-five new acts by Astley’s and Handy’s riders, and two
surprising females,’ in addition to pony races, the performances of a
clever little pony, only thirty inches in height, a performance on two
ropes, and a novel act by a performer named Carr, who stood on his head
in the centre of a globe, and ascended thirty feet ‘turning round in a
most surprising manner, like a boy’s top.’ Later advertisements of this
year describe the Amphitheatre as ‘under the patronage of the Duke of
York,’ and announce the special engagement of two Catawba Indians—both
chiefs, of course, as American Indians and Arabs who appear in the arena
always are represented to be. These copper-coloured gentlemen gave their
war dance and tomahawk exercise, and performed feats of dexterity with
bows and arrows. The only mention of equestrianism at this time is, that
‘various equestrian and other exercises’ will be given ‘by pupils of
both the Astleys.’

Sadler’s Wells gave this year ‘various elegant and admired exercises on
the tight-rope, by the inimitable Mr Richer and _La Belle Espagnole_,
particularly Richer’s astonishing leap over the two garters, with
various feats of agility and comic accompaniment by Dubois.’ This
establishment and the Royalty gradually abandoned entertainments of this
kind, and were at length converted into theatres; and the like change
was effected at the Royal Circus, or rather at the building which rose
upon the ruins made by the conflagration of 1805.

Astley’s was burned again in 1803, when Mrs Woodhams, the mother of Mrs
Astley, perished in the flames. Astley was again a heavy sufferer, the
insurance not covering more than a fourth of the damage; but once more
the building rose from its ruins, and it was again re-opened in 1804.
Astley being occupied at the time with the construction of a circus in
Paris, since known as Franconi’s, the new Amphitheatre was leased by him
to his son, John Astley, with whom William Davis soon became associated
as a partner.

In 1805, the Royal Circus having been destroyed by fire, Philip Astley
leased the site of the Olympic Theatre from Lord Craven for a term of
sixty-one years, at a yearly rental of one hundred pounds, with the
stipulation that two thousand five hundred pounds should be expended in
the erection of a theatre. It was an odd-shaped piece of ground, and
required some contrivance to adapt it to the purpose; but Astley, who
was his own architect and surveyor, and indeed his own builder, for he
is said to have employed the workmen he required without the
intervention of a master, overcame all difficulties with his usual
energy and fertility of resource.

He bought the timbers of an old man-of-war, captured from the French,
and with these built the framework of the theatre, a portion of which
could, it was said, be seen at the rear of the boxes of the old Olympic
Theatre before it was destroyed by fire. There was very little
brickwork, the frame being covered externally with sheet iron, and
internally with canvas. The arrangements of the auditorium were very
similar to those of the provincial circuses of the present day; there
was a single tier of boxes, a pit running round the circle, and a
gallery behind, separated from the pit by a grating, which caused the
‘gods’ to be likened to the wild beasts in Cross’s menagerie, Exeter
Change. There was no orchestra, but a few musicians sat in a stage box
on each side. The chandelier was a present from the king. The building
was licensed for music, dancing, and equestrian performances, and called
the Olympic Pavilion. It passed in 1812 into the possession of Elliston,
who purchased it, with the remaining term of the lease, for two thousand
eight hundred pounds and an annuity of twenty pounds contingent on the
continuance of the license. The annuity soon ceased to be payable, for
Elliston opened the theatre for burlettas and musical farces in 1813,
and it was closed a few weeks afterwards by order of the Lord
Chamberlain, on the ground that the license had been granted on the
supposition that the theatre was to be used for the same kind of
entertainment as had been given by Astley, and only during the same
portion of the year.

The Amphitheatre continued to be conducted in the same manner as it had
been when in the hands of the proprietor, and brought before the public
a succession of clever equestrians, tumblers, and rope-dancers. In a
bill of 1807 we first meet with the name of Hengler, its then owner
being a performer of some celebrity on the tight-rope. The travelling
circuses which were springing into existence at this time, both in
England and on the continent, furnished the lessees with a constant
succession of _artistes_; and the admirably trained horses fairly
divided the attention of the public with the biped performers.

Philip Astley was the best breaker and trainer of horses then living. He
bought his horses in Smithfield, seldom giving more than five pounds for
one, and selecting them for their docility, without regard to symmetry
or colour. He seems to have been the first equestrian who taught horses
to dance, the animals going through the figure, and stepping in time to
the music. One of his horses, called Billy, would lift a kettle off a
fire, and arrange the tea equipage for company, in a manner which
elicited rounds of applause. He was a very playful animal, and would
play with Astley and the grooms like a kitten. His owner was once
induced to lend him for a week or two to Abraham Saunders, who had been
brought up by Astley, and was at that time, as well as at many other
times, involved in pecuniary difficulties. While Billy was in the
possession of Saunders, he was seized for debt, with the borrower’s own
stud, and sold before his owner could be communicated with. Two of
Astley’s company, happening shortly afterwards to be perambulating the
streets of the metropolis, were surprised to see Billy harnessed to a
cart. They could scarcely believe their eyes, but could doubt no longer
when the animal, on receiving a signal to which he was accustomed,
pricked up his ears, and began to caper and curvet in a manner seldom
seen out of the circle. His new owner was found in a public-house, and
was not unwilling to part with him, as Billy, ‘though a main
good-tempered creature,’ as he told the equestrians, ‘is so full o’ all
manner of tricks that we calls him the Mountebank.’

Saunders, at this time a prisoner for debt in the now demolished Fleet
Prison, was well known as a showman and equestrian for three quarters of
a century. Many who remember him as the proprietor of a travelling
circus, visiting the fairs throughout the south of England, are not
aware that he once had a lease of the old Royalty Theatre, and that in
1808 he opened, as a circus, the concert-rooms afterwards known as the
Queen’s Theatre, now the Prince of Wales’s. After experiencing many
vicissitudes, he fell in his old age into poverty, owing to two heavy
losses, namely, by the burning of the Royalty Theatre, and by the
drowning of fifteen horses at sea, the vessel in which they were being
transported being wrecked in a storm. In his latter years, he was the
proprietor of a penny ‘gaff’ at Haggerstone, and, being prosecuted for
keeping it, drove to Worship Street police-court in a box on wheels,
drawn by a Shetland pony, and presented himself before the magistrate in
a garment made of a bearskin. He was then in his ninetieth year, and
died two years afterwards, in a miserable lodging in Mill Street,
Lambeth Walk.

There is a story told of Astley, by way of illustration of his ignorance
of music, which, if true, would show that the Amphitheatre boasted an
orchestra even in these early years of its existence. The nature of the
story requires us to suppose that the orchestral performers were then
engaged for the first time; and, as we are told by Fitzball that the
occasion was the rehearsal of a hippo-dramatic spectacle, it seems
probable that there is some mistake, and that the anecdote should be
associated with Ducrow, instead of with his precursor, no performances
of that kind having been given at the Amphitheatre in Astley’s time. But
Fitzball may have been in error as to the occasion. As the story goes,
Astley, on some of the musicians suspending their performances, demanded
the reason.

‘It is a rest,’ returned the leader.

‘Let them go on, then,’ said the equestrian. ‘I pay them to play, not to

Presently a chromatic passage occurred.

‘What do you call that?’ demanded Astley. ‘Have you all got the

‘It is a chromatic passage,’ rejoined the leader, with a smile.

‘Rheumatic passage?’ said Astley, not comprehending the term. ‘It is in
your arm, I suppose; but I hope you’ll get rid of it before you play
with the people in front.’

‘You misunderstand me, Mr Astley,’ returned the leader. ‘It is a
chromatic passage; all the instruments have to run up the passage.’

‘The devil they do!’ exclaimed Astley. ‘Then I hope they’ll soon run
back again, or the audience will think they are running away.’

Hitherto the quadrupeds whose docility and intelligence rendered them
available for the entertainment of the public had been limited to the
circle; but in 1811 the example was set at Covent Garden of introducing
horses, elephants, and camels on the stage. This was done in the grand
cavalcade in _Bluebeard_, the first representation of which was attended
with a singular accident. A trap gave way under the camel ridden by an
actor named Gallot, who saved his own neck or limbs from dislocation or
fracture, by throwing himself off as the animal sank down. He was
unhurt, but the camel was so much injured by the fall that it died
before it could be extricated. The elephant, though docile enough, could
not be induced to go upon the stage until one of the ladies of the
ballet, who had become familiar with the animal during the rehearsals,
led it on by one of its ears. This went so well with the audience, that
the young lady repeated the performance at every representation of the

Philip Astley died in Paris, at the ripe age of seventy-two, in
1814,—the year in which the celebrated Ducrow made his first appearance
on the stage as Eloi, the dumb boy, in the _The Forest of Bondy_. The
Amphitheatre was conducted, after the death of its founder, by his son,
John Astley, in conjunction with Davis; but not without opposition. The
Surrey had ceased to present equestrian performances under the
management of Elliston; but in 1815, on his lease expiring, it was taken
by Dunn, Heywood, and Branscomb, who were encouraged by the success of
Astley to convert it into a circus. The experiment was not, however, a
successful one.

In the following year, Vauxhall Gardens assumed the form and character
by which they were known to the present generation; and the celebrated
Madame Saqui was engaged for a tight-rope performance, in which she had
long been famous in Paris. She was then in her thirty-second year, and
even then far from prepossessing, her masculine cast of countenance and
development of muscle giving her the appearance of a little man, rather
than of the attractive young women we are accustomed to see on the
_corde elastique_ in this country. Her performance created a great
sensation, however, and she was re-engaged for the two following
seasons. She mounted the rope at midnight, in a dress glistening with
tinsel and spangles, and wearing a nodding plume of ostrich feathers on
her head; and became the centre of attraction for the thousands who
congregated to behold her ascent from the gallery, under the brilliant
illumination of the fireworks that rained their myriads of sparks around

Andrew Ducrow, who now came into notice, was born in Southwark, in 1793,
in which year his father, Peter Ducrow, who was a native of Bruges,
appeared at Astley’s as the Flemish Hercules, in a performance of feats
of strength. Andrew was as famous in his youthful days as a pantomimist
as he subsequently became as an equestrian, and was the originator of
the _poses plastiques_, the performance in which he first attracted
attention, and which was at that time a novel feature of circus
entertainments, being a series of studies of classical statuary on the
back of a horse. He appeared at the Amphitheatre during only one season,
however, leaving England shortly afterwards, accompanied by several
members of his family, to fulfil engagements on the continent. The first
of these was with Blondin’s Cirque Olympique, then in Holland. He had at
this time only one horse; but, as his gains increased with his fame, he
was soon enabled to procure others, until he had as many as six. After
performing at several of the principal towns in Belgium and France, he
was engaged, with his family and stud, for Franconi’s Cirque, where he
was the first to introduce the equestrian pageant termed an _entrée_.
There he exhibited his double acts of Cupid and Zephyr, Red Riding Hood,
&c., in which he was accompanied by his sister, a child of three or four
years old, whose performances were at that time unequalled.

Simultaneously with the rise of Ducrow, the well-known names of Clarke
and Bradbury appear in circus records. When Barrymore, the lessee of the
Coburg Theatre (now the Victoria), opened Astley’s in the autumn of 1819
for a limited winter season, his company was joined by John Clarke,
fresh from saw-dust triumphs at Liverpool, and Bradbury, who was the
first representative on the equestrian stage of Dick Turpin, the
renowned highwayman, whose famous ride to York had not then been related
by Ainsworth, but was preserved in the sixpenny books, with folding
coloured plates, which constituted the favourite reading of boys fifty
years ago. Clarke’s little daughter, only five years of age, made her
appearance on the tight-rope in the following year, when Madame Saqui
re-appeared at Vauxhall, and was one of the principal attractions of
that season.

John Astley survived his father only a few years, dying in 1821, on the
same day of the year, in the same house, and in the same room, as his
more famous progenitor. After his death the Amphitheatre was conducted
for a few years by Davis alone; and by him hippo-dramatic spectacles,
the production of which afterwards made Ducrow so famous, and which
greatly extended the popularity of Astley’s, were first introduced
there. Davis also signalized his management by the introduction of a
camel on the stage for the first time in a circus, the occasion being
the production of the romantic spectacle of _Alexander the Great and
Thalestris the Amazon_.

In the circle a constant variety of attractive, and often novel, feats
of horsemanship and gymnastics continued to be presented. All through
the season of 1821 the great attraction in the circle was the graceful
riding of a young lady named Bannister—probably the daughter of the
circus proprietor of that name, whose name we shall presently meet with,
and who had, shortly before that time, fallen into difficulties. During
the following season the public were attracted by the novel and
sensational performance of Jean Bellinck on the flying rope, stretched
across the pit at an altitude of nearly a hundred feet, according to the
bills, in which a little exaggeration was probably indulged. The great
attraction of 1823 was Longuemare’s ascent of a rope from the stage to
the gallery, amidst fireworks, which had been the sensation of the
preceding season at Vauxhall Gardens, where, at the same time, Ramo
Samee, the renowned Indian juggler, made his first appearance in this

                              CHAPTER III.

Ducrow at Covent Garden—Engagement at Astley’s—Double Acts in the
    circle—Ducrow at Manchester—Rapid Act on Six Horses—‘Raphael’s
    Dream’—Miss Woolford—Cross’s performing Elephant—O’Donnel’s
    Antipodean Feats—First year of Ducrow and West—Henry Adams—Ducrow at
    Hull—The Wild Horse of the Ukraine—Ducrow at Sheffield—Travelling
    Circuses—An Entrée at Holloway’s—Wild’s Show—Constantine, the
    Posturer—Circus Horses—Tenting at Fairs—The Mountebanks.

When Elliston produced the spectacle of the _Cataract of the Ganges_ at
Drury Lane Theatre, in 1823, Bunn, who was then lessee of Covent Garden
Theatre, was induced by its success to engage Ducrow, who made his first
appearance at that theatre on Easter Monday, 1824, in the lyrical and
spectacular drama of _Cortez_. Davis, fearing a rival in the famous
equestrian, offered him an engagement at Astley’s, where he soon became
the chief attraction.

The double act of Cupid and Zephyr, now represented by himself and his
wife, was received with as much applause as it had elicited at
Franconi’s; and a perfect _furore_ was created when he appeared on two
bare-back horses, as an Indian hunter. Cline’s rope-walking feats varied
the programme of the circle in 1826, and in the following year Ducrow,
having first given the performance with immense success at Manchester,
introduced his great feat, then unparalleled, of riding six horses at
the same time, in his rapid act as a Russian courier.

Fresh novelties were produced in 1828, the most attractive being the
equestrian act called ‘Raphael’s Dream,’ in which Ducrow reproduced, on
horseback, the finest conceptions of the sculptors of ancient Greece,
receiving immense applause at every exhibition. Miss Woolford and George
Cooke made their first appearance at Astley’s in this year, in a double
performance on the tight-rope, in which the former _artiste_ was for a
long time without a rival. Aptitude for this exhibition seems, as in
other branches of circus business, to be hereditary; and a Miss Woolford
may have been found as a tight-rope performer in some circus or other
any time within the last half-century. I remember seeing a tight-rope
performer of this name in a little show which attended the July fair at
Croydon about thirty years ago.

Ducrow’s stud was engaged this year for Vauxhall Gardens, where the
hippo-dramatic spectacle of _The Battle of Waterloo_ was revived, and
proved as attractive as it had been some years previously at Astley’s.
The year 1828 is also memorable for the first introduction of an
elephant into the arena, a colossal performing animal of that genus
being brought, with its keeper, from Cross’s menagerie, which many
readers, even old residents in the metropolis, may require to be
informed had its location on the site of what afterwards became Exeter
Arcade, in the rear of the houses on the north side of the Strand,
between Exeter Street and Catherine Street. The elephant was also led in
the bridal procession which constituted one of the displays of the
quadrupedal resources of the establishment in the spectacular drama of

In travelling over the records of saw-dust performances, we are
frequently reminded of the saying of the wise monarch of Israel, that
there is no new thing under the sun. The bills of Astley’s, the
advertisements of the Royal Circus and the Olympic Pavilion, the
traditions of travelling circuses, present us with the originals of
almost every feat that the acrobats and posturers of the present day
have ever attempted. Ducrow, it has been seen, was the originator of the
_poses plastiques_, revived and made famous a quarter of a century ago
by Madame Wharton and troupe, at the Walhalla, in Leicester Square, and
subsequently by Harry Boleno, the clown, at the Alhambra. Another
instance comes under notice in 1829, when a performer named O’Donnel
exhibited at Astley’s the antipodean feats performed a few years ago at
the London Pavilion, and other music-halls, by Jean Bond. O’Donnel
mounted a ladder, stood on his head on the top of one of the uprights,
kicked away the other, with all its rungs, and in that position drank a
glass of wine, and performed several tricks. The kicking away of the
unfixed portion of the ladder invariably creates a sensation among the
spectators, but adds nothing to the difficulty or danger of the

On the lease of the Amphitheatre expiring in 1830, the owner of the
premises raised the rent so much that Davis relinquished the
undertaking. Ducrow, who possessed much of the energy and enterprise by
which Philip Astley had been distinguished, saw his opportunity at once,
and, obtaining a partner in William West, took the lease on the terms
which his less enterprising predecessor had shrunk from. He produced a
gorgeous Eastern spectacle, and engaged Stickney and young Bridges for
the circle. Stickney was an admirable equestrian, the first of the many
famous riders who have learned their art on the other side of the
Atlantic, where he had already achieved a considerable reputation.
Bridges was a rope-dancer, and gained great applause by turning a
somersault on the rope, a feat which he appears to have been the first
to perform. Later in the season, Henry Adams (the father of Charles
Adams) made his appearance as a performer of rapid acts of equitation,
the travelling circus which he had lately owned having passed into the
possession of his late groom, John Milton.

During the portion of this year when Astley’s was closed, Ducrow and his
company, bipeds and quadrupeds, performed for a short time at Hull.
Returning to the metropolis, he opened the Amphitheatre for the season
of 1831 with the spectacular drama of _Mazeppa_, the only enduring
performance of the kind with which Astley’s was for so many years
associated. Most of them, elaborately as they were got up,—for Ducrow
never spared expense,—and attractive as they proved at the time of their
production, owed their popularity to recent military events; but the
fortunes of the daring youth immortalized by the genius of Byron, and
the headlong flight of the wild horse of the Ukraine, have proved an
unfailing source of attraction, and made _Mazeppa_ the trump-card of
every hippo-dramatic manager who possesses or can borrow a white horse
qualified to enact the part of the ‘fiery, untamed steed’ upon whose
bare back the hero is borne into the steppes of the Don Cossack country.

Adams and Stickney continued to attract in the circle, but Ducrow
engaged in addition an acrobatic performer named Williams, who turned
tourbillions at the height of twelve feet from the ground, and repeated
them through hoops at the same height, over a tilted waggon, over eight
horses, and, finally, over a troop of mounted cavalry. The famous
performing elephant, Mdlle Jeck, also made its appearance during this
season. When the Amphitheatre closed, Ducrow took his company and stud
to Sheffield, where he had had an immense structure of a temporary
character erected for their performances. He ruined the prospect of a
successful provincial season, however, by indulgence of his overbearing
disposition, which manifested itself on all occasions, in and out of the
arena. The Master Cutler and Town Council determined to patronize the
circus officially, and appeared at the head of a cortege of between
forty and fifty carriages, containing the principal manufacturers and
their families. But, on the Master Cutler sending his card to Ducrow, in
the anticipation of being personally received, Ducrow replied, through
one of his subordinates, that he only waited upon crowned heads, and not
upon a set of dirty knife-grinders. The astounded and indignant chief
magistrate immediately ordered his coachman to turn about, and the
entire cavalcade returned to the Town Hall, where a ball was improvised,
instead of the intended visit to the circus. Thus Ducrow’s prospects in
the hardware borough were ruined by his own hasty temper and overbearing

It is now time to say a few words about the travelling circuses that had
been springing into existence during the preceding fifteen or sixteen
years, and some of which have already been mentioned. The northern and
midland counties were travelled at this time by Holloway’s, Milton’s,
Wild’s, and Bannister’s; the eastern, southern, and western by
Saunders’s, Cooke’s, Samwell’s, and Clarke’s. We find Holloway in
possession of the circus at Sheffield after its vacation by Ducrow.
Wallett, who first comes into observation about this time, was one of
Holloway’s clowns, and also did posturing, and played Simkin in saw-dust
ballets. He states, in his autobiography, that they opened with a
powerful company and a numerous stud; but it seems that there were not a
dozen of the troupe, including grooms, who could ride. The first item in
the programme for the opening night was an _entrée_ of twelve, five of
whom were thrown off their horses before the round of the circle had
been made, one of them having three of his fingers broken. The horses do
not appear to have been in fault, for they continued their progress as
steadily as if nothing had happened. Wallett accounts for this untoward
incident by stating that the dismounted cavaliers were clowns and
acrobats, and that few members of those sections of the profession can
ride; but, considering that grooms could have been made available, a
‘powerful company’ should have been able to mount twelve horses for an
_entrée_ without putting into the saddle men who could not ride.

James Wild’s show was a small concern, combining a drama, _à la
Richardson_, with the performances of a tight-rope dancer and a
fortune-telling pony. Wallett, who had made his first appearance before
the public as a ‘super’ at the theatre of his native town, Hull, when
Ducrow was there, and had afterwards clowned on the outside of Charles
Yeoman’s Royal Pavilion at Gainsborough fair, joined Wild’s show at
Leeds, but soon transferred his talent to a rival establishment. Both
shows were soon afterwards at Keighley fair, for which occasion Wild had
engaged four acrobats from London, named Constantine, Heng, Morris, and
Whitton. The popularity of Ducrow’s representations of Grecian statuary
had induced Constantine to study them, and having provided himself with
the requisite properties, he exhibited them very successfully in Wild’s

The proprietor of the rival establishment was in agony, for his loudest
braying through a speaking-trumpet, and the wildest beating of his gong,
did not avail to stop the rush to Wild’s which left the front of his own
show deserted. Wallett ruminated over the situation, and at night sought
Constantine, and made overtures to him for the purchase of his tights
and ‘props.’ The acrobat entertained them,—perhaps the bargain was very
liberally wetted,—and Wallett became the triumphant possessor of the
means of personating Ajax and Achilles, and all the gods and heroes of
Homer’s classic pages. Next day, the show in which he was engaged was
crowded to see him ‘do the Grecian statues,’ while Wild’s was deserted,
Constantine dejected, and his employer despairing.

Bannister’s circus travelled Scotland and the northern counties of
England, and it is a noteworthy point in his history that David Roberts
was engaged by its proprietor as scene painter when he added a stage and
a company of pantomimists to the attractions of the ring. This was in
1817, when the circus was located in Edinburgh, and the future R.A. had
just completed his apprenticeship to a house-painter. Roberts says, in
his diary, that he could never forget the tremor he felt, the faintness
that came over him, when he ascended to the second floor of the house in
Nicholson Street in which Bannister lodged, and, after much hesitation,
mustered courage to ring the bell. Bannister received him very kindly,
looked at his drawings, and engaged him to paint a set of wings for a
palace. The canvas was brought, and laid down on the floor, and Roberts
began to work there and then. At the close of the circus season, he was
engaged at a salary of twenty-five shillings a week to travel with the
company into England, paint all the scenery and properties that might be
required, and make himself generally useful. Roberts says that he found
that the last clause of the contract involved the necessity of taking
small parts in pantomimes, which, he says, he rather over-did than
under-did. His circus experiences were brief, however, for Bannister
became bankrupt before long, and Roberts betook himself to
house-painting again until he was engaged by Corri to paint scenery for
the Pantheon, at Edinburgh. It may be remarked that he received no
higher salary from Corri than from Bannister, and did not reach thirty
shillings a week until he was engaged as scene-painter to the theatre at

The tenting circuses of those days were on a more limited scale than
those of the present time, and were met with chiefly at fairs. They had
seldom more than three or four horses, of which perhaps only two
appeared in the circle. Their proprietors were not so regardless of
colour as Philip Astley was, and favoured cream-coloured, pied, and
spotted horses. While the acrobats performed ‘flips’ and hand springs,
and the clown cracked his ‘wheezes,’ on the outside, while the
proprietor beat his gong, or bawled through a speaking-trumpet his
invitations to the spectators to ‘walk up,’ the horses stood in a row on
the platform; and when the proprietor shouted ‘all in, to begin!’ the
animals were led or ridden down the steps in front, and taken round to
the entrance at the side, whence they emerged on the conclusion of the
performance, to ascend the steps, and resume their position on the
platform. The performances were short, consisting of two or three acts
of horsemanship, some tumbling, and a tight-rope performance; but they
were repeated from noon till near midnight as often as the seats could
be filled.

Even in the palmy days of fairs, the vicissitudes of showmen were a
marked feature of their lives, owing, in part at least, to their
dependence upon the weather for success, and the variability of the
English climate. A wet fair was a serious matter for them, and the
October fair at Croydon, one of the best in the south, seldom passed
over without rain, which sometimes reduced the field to such a state of
quagmire that hurdles had to be laid down upon the mud for the
pleasure-seekers to walk upon. Saunders, as we have seen, was seldom out
of difficulties; and Clarke had not always even a tent, but pitched his
ring in a field, or on a common, in the open air, after the manner of
Philip Astley and his predecessors, Price and Sampson, in the early days
of equestrian performances. He did not, however, make a
collection—called in the slang of the profession, ‘doing a nob,’—but
made his gains by the sale, at a shilling each, of tickets for a kind of
‘lucky-bag’ speculation among the spectators whom the performances
attracted to the spot. Sometimes additional _éclat_ would be given to
the event by the announcement that a greasy pole would be climbed by
competitors for the leg of mutton affixed to the top, or a piece of
printed cotton would be offered as a prize for the winner in a race, for
which only girls were allowed to enter. Then, while the equestrian of
the company enacted the Drunken Hussar, or the Sailor’s Return, or Billy
Button’s ride to Brentford, the acrobats would walk round with the
tickets; or the equestrian would condescend to do so, while the Polish
Brothers tied themselves up in knots, or wriggled between the rungs of a
ladder, or Miss Clarke delighted the spectators by her graceful
movements upon the tight-rope. The business concluded with the drawing
for prizes, which were few in proportion to the blanks, and consisted of
plated tea-pots and milk jugs, work-boxes, japanned tea-trays, silk
handkerchiefs, &c. This kind of entertainment was given within the last
forty years; but Clarke was then an old man, and with his death the race
of the mountebanks, as they were popularly called, became extinct.

The last section of a mock Act of Parliament published about this time
gives a good idea of the clown’s business five-and-thirty years ago, and
affords the means of comparing the circus wit and humour of that period
with the laughter-provocatives of the Merrymans of the present day. It
runs as follows:—

‘_And be it further enacted_, that when the scenes in the circus
commence, the Merriman, Grotesque, or Clown shall not, after the first
equestrian feat, exclaim, “Now I’ll have a turn to myself,” previous to
his toppling like a coach-wheel round the ring; nor shall he fall flat
on his face, and then collecting some saw-dust in his hands drop it down
from the level of his head, and say his nose bleeds; nor shall he
attempt to make the rope-dancer’s balance-pole stand on its end by
propping it up with the said saw-dust; nor shall he, after chalking the
performer’s shoes, conclude by chalking his own nose, to prevent his
foot from slipping when he treads on it; nor shall he take long pieces
of striped cloth for Mr Stickney to jump over, while his horse goes
under; previous to which he shall not pull the groom off the stool, who
holds the other end of the same cloth, neither shall he find any
difficulty in holding it at the proper level; nor, after having held it
higher and lower, shall he ask, “Will that do?” and, on being answered
in the affirmative, he shall not jump down, and put his hands in his
pockets, saying, “I’m glad of it;” nor shall he pick up a small piece of
straw, for fear he should fall over it, and afterwards balance the said
straw on his chin as he runs about. Neither shall the Master of the Ring
say to the Merriman, Grotesque, or Clown, when they are leaving the
circus, “I never follow the fool, sir;” nor shall the fool reply, “Then
I do,” and walk out after him; nor, moreover, shall the Clown say that
“the horses are as clever as the barber who shaved bald magpies at
twopence a dozen;” nor tell the groom in the red jacket and top boots,
when he takes the said horses away, to “rub them well down with
cabbage-puddings, for fear they should get the collywobbleums in their
pandenoodles;” such speeches being manifestly very absurd and

‘_Saving always_, that the divers ladies and gentlemen, young ladies and
young gentlemen, maid-servants, apprentices, and little boys, who
patronise the theatre, should see no reason why the above alterations
should be made; under which circumstances, they had better remain as
they are.’

                              CHAPTER IV.

A few words about Menageries—George Wombwell—The Lion Baitings at
    Warwick—Atkins’s Lion and Tigress at Astley’s—A Bull-fight and a
    Zebra Hunt—Ducrow at the Pavilion—The Stud at Drury Lane—Letter from
    Wooler to Elliston—Ducrow and the Drury ‘Supers’—Zebras on the
    Stage—The first Arab Troupe—Contention between Ducrow and Clarkson
    Stanfield—Deaths of John Ducrow and Madame Ducrow—Miss Woolford.

Circuses and menageries are now so frequently associated, and the
inmates of the latter have at all times been so frequently brought into
connection with the former, that it becomes desirable, at this stage of
the record, to say a few words about the zoological collections of
former times. Without going back to the formation of the royal menagerie
in the Tower of London in the thirteenth century, it may be stated that,
when that appendage of regal state was abolished, most of the animals
were purchased by an enterprising speculator named Cross, who located
them at Exeter Change. The want of sufficient space there subsequently
induced Cross to remove the collection to the site afterwards known as
the Surrey Gardens, where, under the more favourable conditions as to
space, light, and air afforded by that locality, it long rivalled that
of the Royal Zoological Society, which had, in the mean time, grown up
on the north side of Regent’s Park.

The travelling menageries probably grew, on a small scale, side by side,
as it were, with the royal collection at the Tower, until they developed
into such exhibitions as, half a century ago, travelled from fair to
fair, in company with Richardson’s and Gyngell’s theatres, Cooke’s and
Samwell’s circuses, Algar’s dancing booth, and the pig-faced lady.
Wombwell’s menagerie was formed about 1805, and Atkins’s must have begun
travelling soon afterwards. These two shows were for many years among
the chief attractions of the great fairs, in the days when fairs were
annual red-letter days in the calendar of the young, and even the upper
classes of society did not deem it beneath their dignity to patronize
the itinerant menagerie and the tenting circus.

‘Wombwell’s,’ said the reporter of a London morning journal, about three
years ago, by way of introducing a report of the sale of Fairgrieves’s
menagerie, ‘had its great show traditions; for its founder was a showman
of no ordinary enterprise and skill. He built up the menagerie, so to
speak, and he made it by far the finest travelling collection of wild
animals in the country. His heart was in his work, and he spared nothing
that could help it forward. Tales of his enterprise are many. He never
missed Bartlemy fair as long as it was held; once, however, he was very
near doing so. His show was at Newcastle within a fortnight of
Bartlemy’s, and there were no railways. He had given up all intention of
going to the fair; but, being in London buying specimens, he found that
his rival—a man named Atkins—was advertising that his would be the only
wild beast show at the fair.

‘Forthwith Wombwell posted down to Newcastle, struck his tent, and began
to move southward. By dint of extraordinary exertions he reached London
on the morning of the fair. But a terrible loss was his. The one
elephant in the collection—a fine brute—had so over-exerted itself on
the journey that it died just as it arrived at the fair. Atkins thought
to make capital of this, and placarded at once that he had “the only
live elephant in the fair.” Wombwell saw his chance, and had a huge
canvas painted, bearing the words that within his show was to be seen
“the only dead elephant in the fair.” There never was a greater success;
a live elephant was not a great rarity, but the chance of seeing a dead
elephant came only once now and then. Atkins’s was deserted; Wombwell’s
was crowded.’

It is not easy to reconcile the keen rivalry between the two shows which
this story is intended to illustrate with the fact that they never
visited Croydon fair together, but always agreed to take that popular
resort in their tours in alternate years. The story may be true, or it
may be as apocryphal as that of the lion and dog fights with which the
readers of another London morning journal were entertained three months
previously, when the tragical incident of the death of the lion-tamer,
Macarthy, had invested leonine matters with more than ordinary interest.

‘Did you ever hear of old Wallace’s fight with the dogs?’ an
ex-lion-tamer was reported as having said to the gentleman by whom the
conversation was communicated to the journal.

‘George Wombwell was at very low water, and not knowing how to get his
head up again, he thought of a fight between an old lion he had
sometimes called Wallace, sometimes Nero, and a dozen of mastiff dogs.
Wallace was tame as a sheep—I knew him well—I wish all lions were like
him. The prices of admission ranged from a guinea up to five guineas,
and had the menagerie been three times as large it would have been full.
It was a queer go, and no mistake! Sometimes the old lion would scratch
a lump out of a dog, and sometimes the dogs would make as if they were
going to worry the old lion, but neither side showed any serious fight;
and at length the patience of the audience got exhausted and they went
away in disgust. George’s excuse was, “We can’t make ’em fight, can we,
if they won’t?” There was no getting over this; and George cleared over
two thousand pounds by the night’s work.’

In this account two different animals are confounded; the old lion,
whose name was Nero, and a younger, but full-grown one, named Wallace.
The blunder is strange and unaccountable in one who professes to have
known the animals and their keeper, and renders it probable that he is
altogether in error about the fight he describes. The newspapers and
sporting magazines of the period—about fifty years ago—describe two
lion-baitings, which took place in Wombwell’s menagerie in the Old
Factory Yard, at Warwick; and some vague report or dim recollection of
them seems to have been in the mind of the ‘ex-lion-king,’ when he
dictated the graphic narrative for the morning journal. The fights were
said to have originated in a bet between two sporting gentlemen, and the
dogs were not mastiffs, but bull-dogs. The first fight, the incidents of
which were similar in character to those described by the
‘ex-lion-king,’ was between Nero and the dogs; and, this not being
considered satisfactory, a second encounter was arranged, in which
Wallace was substituted for the old lion, with very different results.
Every dog that faced the lion was killed or disabled, the last that did
so being carried about in the lion’s mouth as a rat is by a terrier or a

I may add, that I have a perfect recollection of both the lions, having
made their acquaintance at Croydon fair when a very small boy. I
remember the excitement which was once created amongst the visitors to
that fair by Wombwell’s announcement that he had on exhibition that most
wonderful animal, the ‘bonassus,’ being the first specimen which had
ever been brought to Europe. As no one had ever seen, heard, or read of
such an animal before, the curious flocked in crowds to see the beast,
which proved to be a very fine male specimen of the bison, or American
buffalo. Under the name given to it by Wombwell, it found its way into
the epilogue of the Westminster play as one of the wonders of the day.
It was afterwards purchased by the Zoological Society; but it had been
enfeebled by confinement and disease, and died soon after its removal to
the Society’s gardens in the Regent’s Park. The Hudson’s Bay Company
supplied its place by presenting a young cow, which lived there for many

Atkins had a very fine collection of the feline genus, and was famous
for the production of hybrids between the lion and the tigress. The cubs
so produced united some of the external characteristics of both parents,
their colour being tawny, marked while they were young with dark
stripes, such as may be observed in the fur of black kittens, the
progeny of a tabby cat. These markings disappeared, however, as they do
in the cat, as the lion-tigers attained maturity, at which time the
males had the mane entirely deficient, or very little developed. I
remember seeing a male puma and a leopardess in the same cage in this
menagerie, but am unable to state whether the union was fruitful.

Atkins’s lion and tigress, with their playful cubs, were engaged by
Ducrow and West as one of the attractions of the season of 1832, and
were introduced to the frequenters of Astley’s by their keeper, Winney.
A zebra hunt was also exhibited in the circle, in which four zebras
appeared; and with this novel spectacle was combined, on the occasion of
Ducrow’s benefit, a mimic representation of a Spanish bull-fight, in
which the great equestrian enacted the part of the matador. When a
similar exhibition was got up, many years afterwards, at the Alhambra,
during the time when it was temporarily converted into a circus, a horse
was trained to wear the horns and hide of an ox, and do duty for Toro;
and, though I have not been able to verify the fact, this was probably
the case at Astley’s.

It was during this season that Ducrow had the honour of performing
before William IV., who ordered a temporary amphitheatre to be erected
within the grounds of the Pavilion at Brighton, in order that he might
witness the performances of this celebrated equestrian, which included
several of his most admired feats of horsemanship.

In the following year the bull-fight was repeated, and the zebras
re-appeared in the spectacle of _Aladdin_. After the Amphitheatre was
closed the stud appeared at Drury Lane, instead of going into the
provinces; and this arrangement between Elliston and the lessees of
Astley’s was repeated in more than one season. Elliston’s biographer
relates that when the stud was engaged for Croly’s _Enchanted Courser_,
the horses and their grooms were at the stage door of Drury Lane
Theatre, at the time fixed for the first rehearsal, but there was no one
to direct the important share which they were to take in the
performance. A note was sent to Ducrow, who replied that his agreement
with Elliston only related to the horses. This was found to be correct,
though undoubtedly an oversight on the part of Elliston, the Drury Lane
manager, who had to make a second agreement with Ducrow for his personal
services in superintending the training of the horses, and the general
arrangement of the scenes in which they were to be introduced.

The introduction of horses on the stage of Drury Lane was the subject of
a letter to Elliston from Thomas Wooler, of _Yellow Dwarf_ fame, from
which the following passages, are extracted, as bearing upon the long
subsequent production of _Richard III._ at Astley’s, while under the
management of William Cooke.

‘What think you of mounting Shakespeare’s heroes, as the bard himself
would rejoice they should be? Why not allow the wand of Ducrow to aid
the representation of his dramas, as well as the pencil of Stanfield?
“Saddle White Surrey” in good earnest, and, as from The Surrey you once
banished these animals, and have taken them up at Drury Lane, think of
doing them justice. I fancy your giving up the circle in St George’s
Fields, and bringing your stable into a Theatre Royal, a little
inconsistent; but no matter, it is done, and reminds me of a friend of
mine, who swept away his poultry-yard from his suitable villa at Fulham,
and yet kept cocks and hens in Fleet Street.

‘But to return; instead of niggardly furnishing Richard and Richmond
with armies that do not muster the force of a serjeant’s guard, give
them an efficient force of horse and foot. Your two-legged actors would
be in arms against this project, but disregard their jealousy, and
remember that four to two are two to one in your favour. Richard should
march to the field in the full panoply of all your cavalry, and not
trudge like a poor pedlar, whom no one would dream of “interrupting in
his expedition,” He might impressively dismount in compliment to the
ladies; and when in the field he cries, “My kingdom for a horse!” the
audience might fairly deem such a price only a fair offer for the
recovery of so noble an animal. The audience would wish Hotspur to
manage his roan as well as his lady, and though amongst your spectators
there might be perhaps a grey mare, yet she would be content that
Hotspur should be the “better horse” for her night’s amusement.’

What Wallett says of the absence of a good seat on horseback from the
list of the qualifications of clowns and acrobats is true of actors, and
in a greater degree, in the sense, I mean, that is attached to riding by
professional entertainers of the public. The number of actors who can
ride at all is comparatively small; and among those who can, and who
make a decent figure in Rotten Row, there are probably not two who would
venture to gallop across a stage, and much less to take part in an
equestrian combat or joust. Hence it is only in the arena of a circus
that Richmond wins his crown as he did at Bosworth; and, though horses
were again introduced on the stage of Drury Lane in the drama of
_Rebecca_, they were not ridden by the actors whose names appeared in
the bills. The horses belonged to a circus company, and were ridden by
the practised equestrians accustomed to bestride them—‘doubles’ of the
Knight of Ivanhoe and Sir Brian Bois-Guilbert.

When Bernard’s hippo-dramatic spectacle of _St George and the Dragon_
was produced at Drury Lane, under the superintendence of Ducrow, who had
acquired great experience in the arrangement of equestrian cavalcades,
pageants, and tableaux, there was a great deal of trouble with the
supernumeraries, who were not accustomed to doing their business in the
manner expected from them by so accomplished a pantomimist as the lessee
of Astley’s. While the scene was being rehearsed in which the people
appear excitedly before the Egyptian king, with the news of the
devastation and dismay caused by the dragon, the ‘supers’ exhausted
Ducrow’s not very large stock of patience, and, after making them go
through their business two or three times, without any improvement, his
temper burst out, in his characteristic manner.

‘Look here, you damned fools!’ he exclaimed. ‘You should rush up to the
King,—that chap there—and say, “Old fellow, the dragon has come, and we
are in a mess, and you must get us out of it.” The King says, “Go to
Brougham,” and you all go off to Brougham; and he says, “What the devil
do I know about the dragon? Go to your gods,” and your gods is that lump
of tow burning on that block of timber.’

This strange address was accompanied by an exhibition of the pantomimic
skill of which Ducrow possessed a greater degree than any man of his
day, and which was intended to impress the subordinate actors and
supernumeraries of the theatre with a correct idea of the manner in
which their business should be performed.

This was Ducrow’s manner on all occasions. One morning, during the
season of 1833, he was on the stage, in his dressing-gown and slippers,
to witness the first rehearsal of a new feat by the German rope-walker,
Cline. The rope was stretched from the stage to the gallery, and the
performer was to ascend it, and return. Cline was a little nervous;
perhaps the rope had been arranged more in accordance with Ducrow’s
ideas than with his own. Whatever the cause, he hesitated to ascend the
rope, when Ducrow snatched the balancing-pole from his hands, and walked
up the rope in his slippers, his dressing-gown flapping about his legs
in the draught from the stage in a manner that caused his ascent to be
watched with no small amount of anxiety, though he did not appear to
feel the slightest trepidation himself.

The special attractions in the circle during the season of 1834 were the
Vintner family, who presented a novel performance on two and three
ropes, with double and single ascensions, which had been much applauded
the year before at Franconi’s; and a troupe of Arab vaulters and
acrobats, who seem to have been the first of their race who had visited
Europe in that capacity. On the conclusion of the season at Astley’s,
the stud went again to Drury Lane, where Pocock’s spectacle of _King
Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table_ was produced. The production
of this piece was the occasion of an unfortunate contention between
Ducrow and Clarkson Stanfield, who was then scene-painter to Drury Lane.
The scenic artist had painted a beautiful view of Carlisle, which he
wished to be seen by the spectators before their attention was diverted
from it by the entry of Arthur and his knights. Ducrow crowded the stage
with men and horses, and wished, the curtain to rise upon this animated
spectacle—knights caracoling, banners waving, trumpets blaring, people
shouting their welcome. Bunn sided with Ducrow, and Stanfield retired
from his post, mortified and offended.

Queen Adelaide witnessed the performance of this spectacle, as she had
that of the preceding season, and was so much gratified that she ordered
a hundred pounds to be distributed among the company. Count D’Orsay was
so pleased with it, that he presented Ducrow with a gold and
ivory-mounted dirk, and a pair of pistols inlaid with gold, which had
been worn by Lord Byron, and presented by him to the Count.

Henry Adams was again a prominent member of Ducrow’s company in 1835,
when he appeared in the circle as the Mexican lasso-thrower, a part
which he performed with great dexterity. In the following year, the
Vintners and the Arabs were found a source of undiminished attraction,
but were joined with Price, called the Bounding Ball, who exhibited the
then unparalleled feat of throwing thirty somersaults.

John Ducrow, brother of the renowned equestrian, who had been the
principal clown of the Amphitheatre during the preceding ten years, died
in 1834; and Andrew Ducrow’s first wife, the companion of his early
triumphs, died about two years afterwards. Widdicomb, who had been
ring-master of the establishment for many years, died the same year, at
the age of sixty-seven. Ducrow subsequently married Miss Woolford, who
had for several years been one of the leading attractions of his
establishment, and various members of whose family helped to supply the
travelling circuses with equestrians and tight-rope performers for a
long period.

                               CHAPTER V.

Lions and Lion-tamers—Manchester Jack—Van Amburgh—Carter’s Feats—What is
    a Tiger?—Lion-driving and Tiger-fighting—Van Amburgh and the Duke of
    Wellington—Vaulting Competition between Price and North—Burning of
    the Amphitheatre—Death of Ducrow—Equestrian Performances at the
    Surrey Theatre—Travelling Circuses—Wells and Miller—Thomas Cooke—Van
    Amburgh—Edwin Hughes—William Batty—Pablo Fanque.

He must have been a bold man who first undertook to tame and train a
lion. It has been jocosely remarked that he must have been a courageous
man who first ventured to eat an oyster; but a very different degree of
courage must have been possessed by the man who first ventured upon
familiarities with the tawny monarch of the African forests. The
distinction is attributed to Hanno, the Carthaginian general; but the
first public exhibition of trained lions was given in the Amphitheatre
at Rome, where Mark Antony, seated in a car, with a lady by his side,
drove a pair of lions round the arena. But we must come down to modern
times for the first exhibition of tamed and trained lions and tigers in
this country. Van Amburgh is generally credited with the distinction of
having been the first lion-tamer of modern times; but I remember seeing,
when a very small boy, the keeper of the lions in Wombwell’s menagerie
enter the cage of a fine old lion, Nero; and sit on the animal’s back,
open his mouth, &c. As this was more than forty years ago, the performer
must have been ‘Manchester Jack,’ who was enacting the part of ‘lion
king’ in Wombwell’s menagerie when Van Amburgh, an American of Dutch
descent, arrived in England with his trained lions, tigers, and

It has been said that arrangements were made for a trial of skill and
daring between the American and Manchester Jack, and that it was to have
taken place at Southampton, but fell through in consequence of Van
Amburgh showing the white feather. The story seems improbable, for Van
Amburgh’s daring in his performances has never been exceeded.

‘Were you ever afraid?’ the Duke of Wellington once asked him.

‘The first time I am afraid, your Grace,’ replied the lion-tamer, ‘or
that I fancy my pupils are no longer afraid of me, I shall retire from
the wild beast line.’

After having been killed in the newspapers half a dozen times, his back
broken twice, and his head once bitten off by a tiger, Van did retire,
undevoured, and died quietly in his bed about five years ago. Manchester
Jack also retired from the profession, and kept an inn at Taunton for
many years afterwards, dying in 1865.

Van Amburgh and his trained animals were engaged by Ducrow and West
during the season of 1838 at Astley’s, and proved a great attraction.
Then came Carter, another lion-tamer, who appeared with his animals, in
a drama specially written for them, as Afghar, a lion-tamer, in which
part he drove a lion in harness and maintained a mimic fight with an
animal called in the bills a tiger. I have not been able to ascertain
whether this animal was really a tiger, a point upon which doubt arises
from the fact of Carter’s collection being announced as containing a
fine ‘Brazilian tiger,’ and from the application of the name by
travellers and colonists imperfectly acquainted with zoology to every
feline animal which is larger than a cat, and does not possess a mane.
The beautiful striped animal properly called a tiger has very
circumscribed range, being found only in the hot regions of Asia, south
of the Himalayan mountains and east of the Indus. But the South African
colonists call the leopard a tiger, and many travellers in the tropical
regions of America speak of the jaguar by that name. Carter’s ‘Brazilian
tiger’ was, of course, a jaguar; but his collection _may_ have contained
a veritable tiger, and it _may_ have been the latter animal that he
engaged in mimic conflict with on the stage. Tigers are not usually
sufficiently docile to be trusted in such performances; but the
possibility of their being so trained is proved by the fact that I saw a
struggle between a man and a tiger, about five and thirty years ago, in
a small show pitched on a piece of waste ground at Norwood. It was a
rather tame affair, however, and, coupled with the fact that the tiger
was the sole representative of the ‘group of trained animals’ announced
in the bills, caused my boyish disappointment to vent itself, as I
passed out of the show, in a remark on the discrepancy between the
promise and the performance. ‘What can you expect for a penny?’ was the
rejoinder of the shabby woman who acted as money-taker; and, though I
felt that I ought to have seen at least another animal, I passed on,
silently wondering how a tiger and several human beings could be fed
upon the scanty receipts of a little penny show; for there was a drama
produced, the hero of which was an English traveller, who underwent
harrowing adventures among savages and wild beasts in Central Africa.

The ex-lion king, whose reminiscences and experiences were recorded
three years ago in a London morning journal, computes the number of
lions in this country at about fifty; but this seems erroneous, as there
were ten in Fairgrieve’s menagerie, and probably as many in each of the
other two shows into which Wombwell’s collection was divided at his
death, five in Manders’s, and five attached to Sanger’s circus, besides
those in Hilton’s, Day’s, and other menageries, Bell and Myers’s circus,
and the Zoological Gardens of London, Bristol, and Manchester. The
greater number of them have been bred in cages. These are cheaper than
the imported lions, but seldom attain so large a size as the latter.
Jamrach, of Ratcliffe Highway, is the agent through whom most of the
imported lions are procured. He has agents abroad, and also buys from
captains and stewards of ships, who sometimes bring home wild animals as
a commercial speculation. As I lay claim to no practical knowledge of
the business of lion-taming and lion-training, I quote here what the
‘ex-lion king’ said on the subject two years ago, in preference to
writing at random about it.

‘The lion-tamer,’ we are told, ‘likes to get his beasts as young as he
can, because then they are more easily brought into order, although, no
doubt, there are many instances where a full-grown forest lion has been
trained to high perfection. The lion-tamer begins by taking the feeding
of them into his own hands, and so gets them to know him. He commences
feeding them from the outside of the den, then ventures inside to one at
a time, always carefully keeping his face to the animal, and avoiding
any violence, which is a mistake whenever it can be avoided, as it
rouses the dormant devil in the beasts. Getting to handle the lion, the
tamer begins by stroking him down the back, gradually working up to the
head, which he begins to scratch, and the lion, which, like a cat, likes
friction, begins to rub his head against the hand. When this familiarity
is well established, a board is handed in to the trainer, which he
places across the den, and teaches the lion to jump over it, using a
whip with a thong, but not for the purpose of punishment. Gradually this
board is heightened, the lion jumping over it at every stage; and then
come the hoops, &c., held on the top of the board to quicken the beast’s
understanding. To teach the animal to jump over the trainer, the latter
stoops alongside the board, so that when the lion clears one he clears
the other, and half a dozen lessons are ordinarily about sufficient to
teach this. To get a lion to lie down, and allow the tamer to stand on
him, is more difficult. It is done by flicking the beast over the back
with a small tickling whip, and at the same time pressing him down with
one hand. By raising his head, and taking hold of the nostril with the
right hand, and the under lip and lower jaw with the left, the lion, by
this pressure on the nostril and lip, loses greatly the power of his
jaws, so that a man can pull them open, and put his head inside the
beast’s mouth, the feat with which Van Amburgh’s name was so much
associated. The only danger is, lest the animal should raise one of its
fore-paws, and stick his talons in; and if he does, the tamer must stand
fast for his life till he has shifted the paw.’

This is a fool-hardy feat, in which a considerable amount of risk is
incurred, without exhibiting any intelligence, grace, or docility on the
part of the lion. But the concluding bit of advice is noteworthy, as
lions and tigers, like cats, sometimes extend their claws without
intending any mischief, and many injuries from them might be prevented
by presence of mind on the part of the exhibitor.

Stickney re-appeared at Astley’s during the season of Van Amburgh and
Carter, and the vaulting performances of Price were supplemented by the
engagement of an American vaulter named North. Between these two famous
vaulters a competition took place in the circle, when the unprecedented
number of one hundred and twenty somersaults were turned by each man.

Ducrow’s stud appeared, for a short season, in the summer of 1841, at
Vauxhall Gardens, returning to the Amphitheatre for the winter. His last
production was the _Dumb Man of Manchester_, and the performance of the
principal character in that drama was one of the most successful efforts
as a pantomimist which he ever exhibited. The conflagration by which the
Amphitheatre was destroyed for the third time gave such a shock to his
system that mental aberration and physical paralysis resulted, and he
died on the 27th of January 1842. His remains were interred in Kensal
Green cemetery, where the monument erected to his memory is one of the
most remarkable objects which arrest the eye of the visitor.

The performers at Astley’s, biped and quadruped, found a temporary
refuge, after the conflagration, at the Surrey theatre, which, having
been originally an amphitheatre, admitted of ready adaptation to circus
requirements. The dramatic company being retained, a melo-drama was
first presented, and then the orchestra and a portion of the benches of
the pit were removed, and a ring formed in its place. During the
performance of the scenes in the circle the orchestra and the displaced
spectators occupied seats amphitheatrically arranged on the stage. The
original status was then restored and the performances concluded with
the popular hippodramatic spectacle of _Mazeppa_.

As the taste for equestrian and acrobatic performances became more
widely diffused, amphitheatres were erected at Liverpool by Copeland,
and at Bristol, Birmingham, and Sheffield by James Ryan; while the
travelling circuses increased yearly in number and repute. Samwell’s was
still travelling, but the rapid increase of wealth and population in the
northern towns, consequent upon the development of manufactures, had
induced its proprietor to leave the southern circuit, and pitch his show
near the great industrial hives of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

New names are presented to us in Wells and Miller, in whose circus, then
located at Wakefield, Wallett first assumed the distinctive designation
of ‘the Shakspearian Jester.’ Tom Barry, afterwards so well known in
connection with Astley’s, was then clowning in Samwell’s circus. Wells
and Miller soon dissolved their partnership, and the former started a
separate concern, opening a very fine circus at Dewsbury.

Thomas Cooke, after a professional tour in the United States, returned
to England and opened at Hull, afterwards visiting the principal towns
in the northern and midland counties. Van Amburgh also, obtaining a
partner with capital, started a circus with his performing lions,
tigers, and leopards as an adjunct of no inconsiderable attractiveness.
One of John Clarke’s daughters was his principal _equestrienne_, and he
engaged Wallett as clown.

Edwin Hughes brought out one of the largest establishments of the kind
which, at that time, had ever been seen; but he could not make headway
against William Batty, who now came into notice, and to ample means
joined the indomitable energy and enterprise of Astley and Ducrow. We
find Batty in 1836 at Nottingham, with a company which included Pablo
Fanque, a negro rope-dancer, whose real name was William Darby; Powell
and Polaski, for principal equestrians; Mulligan, as head vaulter; and
Dewhurst, as chief clown, with capacities for every branch of the
profession, being an admirable vaulter and acrobat, and a good rider.
The stud was as good as the company, and included a pair of zebras, a
wild ass, and an elephant, all of which, with a contempt of local
colouring worthy of Ducrow, Batty introduced on the stage in _Mazeppa_!

Batty did not limit his movements to any part of the United Kingdom. In
1838 we find him at Newcastle and Edinburgh, and in 1840 at Portsmouth
and Southampton. Some changes had been made in the company, of which
James Newsome, now proprietor of one of the best of the provincial
circuses, Lavater Lee, the vaulter, and Plége, the French rope-dancer,
were prominent members. At the time when Astley’s was burnt for the
third time, Batty’s circus was in Dublin, where a good stroke of
business had been done. On hearing of the conflagration, Batty started
for London by the next steamer, made arrangements for the immediate
rebuilding of the Amphitheatre, and returned to Dublin. The receipts
were beginning to decline there, and, pending the completion of the new
Amphitheatre in Westminster Road, Batty resolved to construct a
temporary circus at Oxford. To that city he accordingly proceeded,
leaving the circus under the management of Wallett, who, after
travelling for several years with Cooke, and two years with Van Amburgh,
had joined Batty in Dublin. On the termination of the season in the
Irish capital, Wallett took the company and the stud to Liverpool, and,
as the circus at Oxford was not yet ready for opening, arranged with
Copeland for twelve nights at the Amphitheatre. This engagement, being
made without the knowledge and sanction of Batty, caused a warm dispute
between the latter and Wallett, which did not, however, have the
immediate effect of terminating the clown’s engagement.

Wallett tells a humorous story of Pablo Fanque, with whom he became
intimately acquainted, and who used to fish in the Isis. The black was a
very successful angler, and would pull the golden chub, the silvery
roach, and the bearded barbel out of the river by the dozen when Oxonian
disciples of Walton could not get a nibble. One intelligent
undergraduate came to the conclusion that the circus man’s success must
be due to his dusky complexion, and astonished his brothers of the rod
by appearing one morning on the bank of the stream with a face
suggestive of the surmise that he must have been playing Othello or
Zanga at some private theatricals the preceding night, and have gone to
bed, as Thornton—well known in the annals of provincial theatres at the
beginning of the present century—once did, without wiping the black off.
The Oxonian caught no more fish, however, than he had done before.

While Batty’s circus was still at Oxford, Pablo Fanque terminated his
engagement, and started a circus on his own account. Wallett, always a
rolling stone, joined him, and they proceeded to the north together,
opening at Wakefield, where, for the present, we must leave them.

                              CHAPTER VI.

Conversion of the Lambeth Baths into a Circus—Garlick and the
    Wild Beasts—Batty’s Company at the Surrey—White Conduit
    Gardens—Re-opening of Astley’s—Batty’s Circus on its Travels—Batty
    and the Sussex Justices—Equestrianism at the Lyceum—Lions and
    Lion-tamers at Astley’s—Franconi’s Circus at Cremorne Gardens—An
    Elephant on the Tight-rope—The Art of Balancing—Franconi’s Company
    at Drury Lane—Van Amburgh at Astley’s—The Black Tiger—Pablo
    Fanque—Rivalry of Wallett and Barry—Wallett’s Circus—Junction with

While waiting for the reconstruction of Astley’s, Batty obtained
possession of the Lambeth Baths, a spacious building in the immediate
vicinity of the Amphitheatre, and converted them, without loss of time,
into a circus, which he was enabled to open at the close of November,
1841. Though the process of conversion had been hastily carried out, the
accommodation and decorations left little to be desired; and, as
Dewhurst, the clown, observed on the opening night, ‘it, like a
punch-bowl, looked all the better for being full.’

‘The performances last night,’ said a critic, ‘were multifarious. First,
there was the phenomenon rider, the volant Mr T. Lee, who, while riding
one or more fiery steeds, made “extraordinary and wonderful leaps,” as
the play-bill says, round the arena, and whose sinewy and symmetrical
form, and untiring activity, drew forth the admiration of the audience.
The clown, however, thought proper to pass a criticism upon his leg,
declaring it was like a bad candle, having more cotton than fat. Next
came Herr Ludovic’s “celebrated extravaganza of Jim Crow and his
granny,” in which the old trick of carrying two faces under one hat is
ludicrously exemplified. Mr Walker followed, with his wonderful feats on
the flying rope and his celebrated _tourbillions_, in which he proved
himself to be anything but a walker. He was speedily displaced by M.
Leonard, the great French rider, on two fleet steeds, who was
miraculously adventurous,—“hazarding contusion of neck and spine.” A
group of ponies was then introduced, and delighted the spectators with a
variety of amusing and sagacious tricks; they fought, they leaped over
poles, and through hoops, they sat down and stood up at command, they
wore cocked hats and cloaks, lace caps and mantles, and supped with the
clowns on oaten pies, sitting at the table with all proper decorum; they
fetched and carried, they played at leap-frog, they marched, they
danced, they walked on their hind legs, they bowed, and they went down
on their knees, for here that was an accomplishment, and not a
detriment, to any nag.

‘A company of vaulters next performed some daring leaps and threw
somersaults _ad infinitum_, backwards or forwards, in rapid succession.
After this Miss O’Donnell performed some pretty evolutions on horseback.
Wonderful feats of “ponderosity” were next displayed by M. Lavater Lee,
who balanced a feather and a plank forty feet long with equal dexterity,
and by various jugglings frequently placed his physiognomy in jeopardy.
These performances being over there came, “for the first time, a novel
introduction, replete with new and splendid dresses, properties, and
state carriage drawn by four diminutive steeds,” in which the whole
juvenile company appeared, entitled _The Little Glass Slipper_. The
foundation of this pantomime is old; but it was produced with new faces
last night, and elicited loud and universal approbation. Some of the
performers were scarcely able to toddle, but the acting of the whole was
unique, and deserving of all the praise it received. The dresses and
arrangements were superlative in their style and effect. A series of
gymnastics and equestrian exhibitions, with a new piece, called _The
Wanderers of Hohonor and the Sifans_, wound up the entertainments of the
evening, which were interspersed with the witticisms and waggeries of
two very clever clowns, one of whom is a good punster, and the other a
supple posture-master and a capital performer on—the penny trumpet.‘

Early in 1842, the programme was varied by a romantic spectacle called
_The Council of Clermont_, devised for the introduction of a group of
trained lions, tigers, and leopards, brought from Batty’s menagerie,
accompanied by their performer, Garlick. The spectacle comprised a
triumphal cavalcade of Frankish warriors, mediæval sports in rejoicing
for victory, the tricks of a Greek captive’s horse, and the adventures
of the Greek among the wild beasts to whom he is thrown to be devoured.
It had a very brief run, however, and was succeeded by the elephant, and
subsequently by a tournament, to which was given the anachronical title
of _The Eglinton Tournament, or The Lists of Ashby!_ Shakspeare, it may
be said, has given, as the locality of the scene of an incident in one
of his plays, ‘a sea-port in Bohemia;’ but the making the Eglinton
tournament take place at Ashby-de-la-Zouch is an anachronism as glaring
as the incongruity of elephants and zebras in a Cossack camp.

The Olympic Arena, as Batty’s new circus was called, was the scene of
some feats too remarkable to be omitted from this record. Walker, on one
occasion, sustained the weight of six men, and held six cart-wheels
suspended, while hanging by the feet from slings; but it must be
remarked that he held only two of the wheels with his hands, the others
being attached in pairs to his feet, which were secured in the slings,
so that the weight fell chiefly upon the rope to which the slings were
attached. More remarkable feats were performed by Lavater Lee on his
benefit night, when he vaulted over fourteen horses, threw a dozen
half-hundred weights over his head, bent backward over a chair, and in
that position lifted a bar of iron weighing a hundred pounds, threw a
back somersault on a horse going at full speed, and turned twenty-one
forward somersaults, without the aid of a spring-board.

Dewhurst, the clown, must be allowed to speak for himself in the bill
which he issued for his benefit, and which, as regards his own
performances, was as follows:—

‘This is the night to see DEWHURST’S long and LOFTY JUMPS, without the
assistance of a spring-board:—1. Over a garter 14 feet high. 2. Over a
man standing on a horse lengthways. 3. Through a hoop of fire two feet
in diameter. 4. Through a circle of pointed daggers. 5. Over 10 horses.
6. Through six balloons. 7. Over three horses, one standing on the backs
of the other two. And finally, to crown his extraordinary efforts, he
will leap through a MILITARY DRUM, and over a REAL POST-CHAISE AND PAIR

‘During the evening will be introduced several NEW ACTS OF HORSEMANSHIP,
during the intervals of which Mr DEWHURST will perform many surprising
Feats; amongst the number, he will _tie his body in a complete knot_.
After which he will _walk on his hands_, and carry in his mouth _two
fifty-six pound weights_; in finis, it will be a GRAND BANQUET NIGHT!!
More entertainments than all the Aldermen in London can swallow. Dishes
to please Old and Young, Father and Son—Daughter and Mother, Sister and
Brother—Fat and Lean, Dirty and Clean—Short and Small, Big and Tall—Wise
and Witty, Ugly and Pretty—Good and Bad, Simple or Sad—All may enjoy,
and plenty to pick and choose among—Curious Speeches, Mild Observations,
Strange Questions, and Ugly Answers—Shakspeare reversed, and Milton with
a glass eye—Conundrums, Riddles, Charades, Enigmas, and Problems—With a
variety of real Nonsensical Nonsense, too innumerable to mention—hem!

‘Mr DEWHURST will on this night dance an ORIGINAL MOCK CACHOUCA, in a
style nothing like MADAME TAGLIONI. Mr D. will likewise dance the
CRACOVIENNE, as originally danced by Mademoiselle FANNY ELSLER, at her
Majesty’s Theatre, Italian Opera House. He will also _burlesque a
favourite dance of_ MADAME CELESTE; and conclude with a New Comic

Batty removed his company and stud at Whitsuntide to the Surrey, for a
short season, Dewhurst taking another benefit, on which occasion he
issued the following characteristic appeal:—

‘On this particular occasion Mr Dewhurst’s tongue will be placed on a
swivel in the centre, and black-leaded at both ends, to bring laughing
into fashion.

                ‘I wonder how the people can
                Call me Mr Merryman!
                Worn are my clothes almost out
                By being whipped and knocked about;
                Torn is my face in twenty places
                By stretching wide to make grimaces.
                My worthy cits,
                Now is it fit
                That you should sit,
                Gallanting it,
                The whole kit,
                In box and pit,
                To see me hit,
                Boxed, cuffed, and smit,
                Sham dead as a nit,
                And laugh at it,
                Till your sides split?
                There you sit,
                Though requisite
                To rack my wit
                These rhymes to knit,
                Which I have writ
                To bring the folks to a house well lit,
                To fill the house before we quit,
                For a great attraction all admit
                Will be on Dewhurst’s benefit.’

From the Surrey, Batty and his company removed to White Conduit Gardens,
where a temporary circus was erected for the summer season, and in early
autumn to the theatre at Brighton. Astley’s was re-opened shortly
afterwards with a powerful company and a numerous stud of beautiful and
well-trained horses. Batty was himself a capital rider; Newsome, his
articled pupil, was already a very promising equestrian; and the company
was now joined by the celebrated Stickney, who was a great attraction
during several seasons. A bull-fight was one of the special features of
the programme of 1842–3, a horse being, as on other occasions when the
conflicts of the _Corrida de los Toros_ have been represented in the
arena, trained to play the part of the bull.

While performing at Brighton, Batty was convicted of having performed a
pantomime in a place unlicensed for theatrical performances, whereby he
had incurred a penalty of £50 under an Act of the reign of George II.,
which has been exercised on several occasions to the vexation and loss
of the circus proprietors against whom it has been enforced. Batty
appealed against the conviction, and engaged counsel, by whom it was
elicited from the witnesses that the dialogue did not exceed fourteen
lines, and was merely an introduction to an equestrian and acrobatic
entertainment without scenery. It was argued for the appellant that the
spectacle which had been represented was neither a pantomime nor a stage
play; and that if an entertainment without a stage or scenery was a
‘stage play,’ the well-known tailor’s ride to Brentford was a stage
play, and, if dialogue alone made an entertainment a stage play, the
clown must not crack jokes with the ring-master, nor Punch appeal to the
drummer outside his temple. Counsel reminded the bench that the Lord
Chamberlain’s jurisdiction did not extend to the Surrey side of the
Thames, and that magistrates had power to grant licenses only at a
distance of twenty miles from the metropolis; so that Astley’s, the
Surrey, the Victoria, and the Bower infringed with impunity the Act
under which Batty had been convicted. The conviction was quashed, but
the result of the appeal has not prevented other circus proprietors from
being similarly molested in other parts of the country.

During the summer of 1843, Batty’s company performed in the Victoria
Gardens, at Norwich, where the feats of Masotta, ‘the dare-devil rider,’
from Franconi’s, formed a striking feature of the programme. He was
famous for leaping on and off the horse, from side to side, and backward
and forward, while the animal was in full career. Plége, the
rope-dancer, and Kemp, the pole performer, were also in the company.

On the company and stud returning to Astley’s in the autumn, the
stirring events of the war in Afghanistan were embodied in one of those
patriotic and military spectacles for which the establishment was
famous. The national pulse did not beat so ardently at beat of drum and
call of trumpet as it had done a quarter of a century before, however,
and the run of the piece was proportionately short. It was followed by a
spectacular play founded upon incidents connected with the battle of
Worcester; a romantic equestrian drama, illustrative of the final
struggle between the Spaniards and the Moors; and, towards the close of
the season, by the ever-attractive _Mazeppa_.

Young Newsome, who displayed considerable ability as an equestrian
pantomimist, was a great attraction in the circle, which now began to be
enlivened by the humour of Tom Barry, who continued to be principal
clown at this establishment for several years. Among the more remarkable
of the ring performances during this season, other than equestrian, were
the feats of one of the Henglers on the _corde volante_, and Kemp’s
tricks on the ‘magic pole.’

Equestrian entertainments were given in 1844, for a short season, at the
Lyceum Theatre; and, in the absence of rivalry, attracted good houses.
At Astley’s, new aspirants to fame and popular favour appeared in Plége,
the French rope-dancer, and Germani, a clever equestrian juggler, whose
performance seems to have somewhat resembled that given a few years ago
at the Holborn Amphitheatre by Agouste, with the difference that Germani
performed his feats on the back of a horse. He juggled with balls,
oranges, and knives alternately, and then with a marble, which he caught
in the neck of a bottle while the horse was in full career.

Carter, the lion-tamer, was also engaged towards the close of the
season; and, his re-appearance having shown that the exhibition of
trained lions and tigers was still attractive, another of the
profession, named White, was engaged by Batty in 1845, with a group of
performing lions, tigers, and leopards. White, however, never produced
the sensation created by the performances of Van Amburgh and Carter. The
equestrianism was a very strong feature of the programme this season,
those accomplished riders, John Bridges and Alfred Cooke, being engaged,
while Batty and Newsome were pillars of strength in themselves. Cooke’s
company appeared this year at the Standard, and was succeeded in the two
following years by Tournaire’s and Columbia’s, but equestrian
performances did not attract there.

In 1846, Simpson, host of the Albion Tavern, opposite Drury Lane
Theatre, opened Cremorne Gardens, for which he engaged the company and
stud of the famous Parisian circus of Franconi.

At Astley’s, in this year, Newsome revived Ducrow’s feat of riding six
horses at once, in an act called the Post-boy of Antwerp; and a German
equestrian named Hinné, with his daughter Pauline, were engaged. Young
Newsome and Mdlle Hinné sometimes rode together in double acts, and in
this manner an acquaintance sprang up between them which, becoming
tenderer as it progressed, eventually ripened into marriage.

It was during the season of 1846 that the extraordinary spectacle was
witnessed at Astley’s of an elephant on the tight-rope. It is not more
difficult, however, for an elephant, or any other beast, to balance
itself upon a stretched rope than for a man to do so; the real
difficulty is in inducing the animal to mount the rope. The art of
balancing consists in the maintenance of the centre of gravity, which,
it may be explained, is that point in any body, animate or inanimate,
upon or about which it balances itself, or remains in a state of
equilibrium in any position. In any regular-shaped body, whether round
or angular, provided its density is uniform through all its parts, the
centre of gravity is the centre of the body; but in an irregular-shaped
body, or a combination of two or more bodies, the centre of gravity is
the point at which they balance each other. If we place any
regular-shaped body on a table, it will remain stationary, or in a state
of rest, provided an imaginary line drawn from its centre of gravity,
and passing downward in a direction perpendicular to the table, falls
within its base. But, if the centre of gravity is in a part of the body
above any part of the table that is outside the base, the object will
topple over, and assume some position in which the centre of gravity
will be within the base. Take, for example, a five-sided block of wood,
and place it upon the table. If the five sides are each of the same
superficies, it will stand upon either of them; but if they are unequal,
and it is so placed that the centre of gravity is above a part of the
table that is outside the face upon which you attempt to make it stand,
it will fall down.

There is a little toy which I remember having seen when a child, and
which, as it illustrates the natural law upon which the art of balancing
depends, I will here describe. It was made of elder pith, fashioned and
coloured into a rough resemblance to the human figure, and weighted with
a piece of lead, like the half of a small bullet, which was attached to
its feet with glue. The centre of gravity was, consequently, so low
that, in whatever position the figure might be placed, it immediately
assumed the perpendicular, and could be kept in any other only by
holding it. Now, if the feet of a human being were as much heavier than
the head and trunk, as the lead in this toy was heavier than the pith,
we should never be in any danger of losing our balance; and an infant
might be allowed to make its first essay in walking as soon as its legs
were strong enough to support it, without being in any danger of a fall.
But the head is, in proportion to its bulk, much heavier than the trunk;
and the breadth of the trunk considerably exceeds that of the feet,
which constitute the base. The balance is, therefore, easily lost;
because a stumble throws the centre of gravity beyond the base.

Though the maintenance of the centre of gravity is rendered more
difficult in proportion to the height to which it is raised above the
base, as my younger readers may have found when constructing a house of
cards, this is not the case when any disturbance of the equilibrium can
be counteracted immediately, as in the case of a stick balanced on the
tip of the finger. A stick three or four feet long is more easily
balanced on the finger than one much shorter, because the tendency to
topple over can be counteracted by the movement of the finger in the
direction in which it leans, so as to maintain the centre of gravity.
Those who make an experiment of this kind for the first time will be apt
to find that the balancing of a stick or a broom upon the finger is
difficult, owing to the smallness of the base in proportion to the
height of the centre of gravity, unless the eyes are directed towards
the top. The stick is at rest at the base, and any deviation from the
perpendicular must commence at the upper extremity. Keep your eye on the
top, and you can balance a scaffold-pole or a ladder, if you can sustain
the weight. Whatever difficulty there was in the feat of balancing a
ladder, to the top of which a small donkey was attached, as exhibited in
my juvenile days by an itinerating performer,—whence the saying,
‘Twopence more, and up goes the donkey!’—was due entirely to the weight
of the animal; because, if it was properly attached to the ladder, the
centre of gravity would be in precisely the same situation as if the
ladder alone had to be balanced.

In the animal world, the centre of gravity is invariably so placed as to
produce an exact equilibrium and harmony of parts. Every animal
furnished with legs is balanced upon them; so that in man the centre of
gravity is the crown of the head. The reader may test this by leaning
forward or laterally, with the arms by the side, and the legs straight,
when a tendency to fall will be experienced, which can be counteracted
only by extending an arm or a leg in the opposite direction. The art of
balancing the body in extraordinary situations, as exemplified in the
feats of rope-walkers and gymnasts, depends, therefore, on the same
natural law as that which enables us to balance a stick upon the finger.
The centre of gravity must be kept perpendicular to the rope or bar, any
tendency to sway to the right or left being corrected by the arms, or by
the balancing-pole, if preferred, by performers on the rope.

I have dwelt upon this subject a little after the manner of a lecturer,
because so many of the feats performed in the arena of a circus depend
upon the natural law which I have endeavoured to explain, and many of my
readers, who have witnessed them, without being able to account for
them, may like to know something of the _rationale_. It may be asked,
and the question is a very pertinent one, why do not equestrians fall in
performing feats of horsemanship in a standing position, in which, as
the horse careers round the ring, they lean inward? This phenomenon is
due to the counterpoise which, in the case of bodies in a state of rapid
motion, the centrifugal force presents to the weight of the body.

Centrifugal force, it must be explained, is the tendency which bodies
have to fly off in a straight line from motion round a centre; and the
power which prevents bodies from flying off, and draws them towards a
centre, is called centripetal force. All bodies moving in a circle are
constantly acted upon by these opposing forces, as may be seen by
attaching one end of a piece of string to a ball, and the other to a
stick driven into the ground. If the ball is thrown horizontally, with
the string in a state of tension, it will fly round the stick; but, if
it becomes disengaged from the string, the centrifugal force, or its
tendency to fly off, will cause it to proceed in a straight line from
the point at which the separation is effected.

Let us now see how these forces operate in the case of the riders in a
circus. The equestrian leans inward so much that, if he were to stand
still in that position, he would inevitably fall off the horse; but the
centrifugal force, which has a tendency to impel him outward from the
circle, or in a straight line of motion, sustains him, and he careers
onward safely and gracefully. The tendency of the centrifugal force to
impel him outward is counteracted by the inward leaning, while it forms
an invisible support to the overhanging body. It will be observed also
that the horse assumes the same counteracting posture; and a horse
quickly turning a corner does the same.

Resuming our record of circus performances, we find Pablo Fanque at
Astley’s in 1847, with a wonderful trained horse, Plége again appearing
on the tight-rope, and Le Fort, ‘the sprite of the pole,’ in a novel and
clever gymnastic performance. The political events of which Paris was
the scene in the following year caused the managers of Franconi’s Cirque
to transfer their company and stud to Drury Lane Theatre, so that London
had two circuses open at the same time for the first time since the days
of Astley and Hughes.

John Powell appeared during this season at Astley’s, and an additional
attraction was provided in Van Amburgh’s trained animals, to which there
was now added a black tiger, a rare variety, and one which had never
been exhibited in a state of docility before. It was introduced in the
drama of the _Wandering Jew_, a story which was then creating a great
sensation all over Europe; and Van Amburgh personated the beast-tamer,
Morok, through whose instrumentality the Jesuits endeavour to delay the
old soldier, Dagobert, on his journey to Paris, by exposing his horse to
the fangs of a ferocious black panther.

It was in this year, it may here be remarked, that Sir Edwin Landseer’s
great picture of Van Amburgh in the midst of his beasts was exhibited at
the Royal Academy, where it attracted as much attention as the originals
had done at Astley’s.

Pablo Fanque’s circus had, in the mean time, moved from Wakefield to
Leeds, where a catastrophe occurred which has, unfortunately, had too
many parallels in the annals of travelling circuses. On a benefit night
in March, 1848, the circus was so crowded that the gallery fell, and
Pablo’s wife was killed, and Wallett’s wife and several other persons
were more or less injured. Wallett then joined Ryan’s circus, which,
however, was on its last legs; bailiffs were in possession, and its
declining fortunes were brought to a climax by a ‘strike’ of the band.
At this crisis Wallett had the good fortune to be engaged for Astley’s,
where a keen rivalry soon ensued between him and Barry, who claimed the
choice of acts in the ring, in his exercise of which Wallett was not
disposed to acquiesce. Thompson, the manager, took the same view as the
latter of the equality of position of the two clowns; and Barry, in
consequence, refused to perform, unless the choice of acts was conceded
to him. A very attractive act was in rehearsal at this time, in which
John Dale was to appear as an Arab, with a highly-trained horse, and
Barry as a rollicking Irishman. As Wallett had attended all the
rehearsals he was as capable of taking this part as the other clown was,
and, on Barry failing to appear, he was requested by Thompson to take
the part which had been assigned to his rival. Wallett complied, and
enacted the part of Barney Brallaghan with complete success. Barry
thereupon retired, and for many years afterwards kept a public-house in
the immediate vicinity of the theatre.

Thompson was succeeded in the management by William Broadfoot, the
brother-in-law of Ducrow, whom he resembled very much in disposition and
temper. One day, during the rehearsal of a military spectacle, a cannon
ball, which was among the stage properties, was thrown at him, which so
enraged him that he offered a reward of £2 for information as to the
person by whom it had been thrown, the hand which had impelled the
missile being unknown at least to himself. There was a fine of ten
shillings for practical joking during rehearsals, but the reward left a
wide margin for its payment, and tempted Wallett to acknowledge that he
was the offender. Broadfoot paid the reward, and Wallett paid the fine,
afterwards expending the balance of thirty shillings in a supper, shared
with Ben Crowther, Tom Lee, and Harvey, the dancer.

There was another supper at Astley’s which the parties did not find
quite so pleasant. Batty produced an equestrian drama called the
_Devil’s Horse_, in which Wallett had to play a subordinate part, one
agreeable incident of which was the eating of a plate of soup. One
night, James Harwood, the equestrian actor, intercepted the soup in
transit, and refreshed himself with a portion of it, which so enraged
Wallett that he broke the plate on the offender’s head. By this assault
he incurred the penalty of being mulcted of a week’s salary, the means
of evading which exercised his mind in an unusual degree. The expedient
which he hit upon was the borrowing of ten pounds from the treasurer,
George Francis, having obtained which he went his way rejoicing. He did
not present himself at the treasury on the following Saturday; and
Batty, meeting him on Monday morning, inquired the reason of his

‘I had no salary to receive,’ replied Wallett. ‘I had borrowed ten
pounds of Mr Francis in the week.’

‘Then your fine will be a set off against next week’s salary,’ observed

‘Aren’t you aware, sir,’ rejoined Wallett, ‘that the time I was engaged
for expired on Saturday night?’

By this stratagem he escaped the payment of the fine; but his engagement
was not renewed, and, having saved some money, he started a circus, and
opened with it at Yarmouth. Business was very bad there, and he
proceeded to Colchester, where part of the circus was blown down by a
high wind, and this accident created an impression of insecurity which
damaged his prospects in that town beyond repair. At Bury St Edmunds and
Leicester he was equally unsuccessful, and determined to proceed
northward. Nottingham afforded good houses, but Leeds was a failure, and
at Huddersfield the gallery gave way, and the alarm created by the
accident deterred persons from venturing into the circus afterwards.
Franconi’s company were doing good business at Manchester, in the Free
Trade Hall, at this time; and Wallett, after two more experiments, at
Burnley and Wigan, with continued ill fortune, effected an amalgamation
with the French troupe. James Hernandez, one of the most accomplished
equestrians who have ever entered the arena, made his _début_ at
Manchester while the combined companies and studs were performing there,
and proved so sterling an attraction that he was engaged for the
following season at Astley’s.

Crowther, who has been incidentally mentioned in connection with
Wallett, married Miss Vincent, ‘the acknowledged heroine of the domestic
drama,’ as she was styled in the Victoria bills. The union was not a
happy one, though the cause of its infelicity never transpired. It was
whispered about, however, that a prior attachment on Crowther’s part to
another lady had something to do with it; and there were many
significant nods and winks, and grave shakings of the head, at the bar
of the Victoria Tavern, and at the Rodney and the Pheasant, over the
circumstance of his strange behaviour in the church at which he and the
fair Eliza were married. The talk was, that the bride’s position and
worldly possessions had tempted him to break the word of promise he had
plighted to another, and that compunction for his faithlessness was the
cause of his strangeness of demeanour on the wedding-day, and of the
domestic infelicity which it preluded. But nothing ever transpired to
show that these rumours had any foundation in fact.

                              CHAPTER VII.

Hengler’s Circus—John and George Sanger—Managerial Anachronisms and
    Incongruities—James Hernandez—Eaton and Stone—Horses at Drury
    Lane—James Newsome—Howes and Cushing’s Circus—George Sanger and the
    Fighting Lions—Crockett and the Lions at Astley’s—The Lions at
    large—Hilton’s Circus—Lion-queens—Miss Chapman—Macomo and the
    Fighting Tigers.

The haze which envelopes the movements of travelling circuses prior to
the time when they began to be recorded weekly in the _Era_ cannot
always be penetrated, even after the most diligent research. Circus
proprietors are, as a rule, disposed to reticence upon the subject; and
the bills of tenting establishments are seldom preserved, and would
afford no information if they were, being printed without the names of
the towns and the dates of the performances. I have been unable,
therefore, to trace Hengler’s and Sanger’s circuses to their beginnings;
but, having seen the former pitched many years ago in the fair-field,
Croydon, I know that it was tenting long before its proprietor adopted
the system of locating his establishment for some months together in a
permanent building. Both Hengler’s and Sanger’s must have been
travelling nearly a quarter of a century, and the career of both has
been prosperous.

Indeed, the most successful men in the profession have been those who
have lived from their infancy in the odour of the stables and the
sawdust. Such a man was Ducrow, and such also are the Cookes, the
Powells, the Newsomes, the Henglers, the Sangers, and, I believe, almost
every man of note in the profession. They are not, as a rule, possessed
of much education, which may account for the incongruities so frequently
exhibited in the ‘getting up’ of equestrian spectacles, and the
perplexities which so often meet the eye when the proprietor of a
tenting circus parades in type the quadrupedal resources of his

I remember seeing a zebra in the Cossack camp in _Mazeppa_, and that,
too, at Astley’s; for neither Ducrow nor Batty cared much for
correctness of local colouring, if they could produce an effect by
disregarding it. Lewis, when reminded of the incongruity of the
introduction of a negro in a Northumbrian castle, in the supposed era of
the _Castle Spectre_, replied that he did it for effect; and if an
effect could have been produced by making his heroine blue, blue she
should have been. The effect, however, is sometimes perplexity, rather
than excitement, so far at least as the educated portion of the
community is concerned.

I saw at Kingston, some years ago, immense placards announcing the
coming of Sanger’s circus, and informing the public that the stud
included some Brazilian zebras, and the only specimen ever brought to
Europe of the ‘vedo, or Peruvian god-horse.’ Every one who has read any
work on natural history knows that the zebra is confined to Africa, and
that the equine genus was unknown in America until the horses were
introduced there by the Spaniards. Not having seen the animal, I am not
in a position to say what the ‘vedo’ really is or was; but it is certain
that the only beasts of burden possessed by the Peruvians before horses
were introduced by their Spanish conquerors were the llama and the
alpaca, which are more nearly allied to the sheep than to any animal of
the pachydermatous class, to which the horse belongs.

Leaving these wandering circuses for a time, we must turn our attention
for a little while to the permanent temples of equestrianism in the
metropolis. James Hernandez made his appearance at Astley’s during the
season of 1849, in company with John Powell, John Bridges, and Hengler,
the rope-dancer. Bridges exhibited a wonderful leaping act, and Powell’s
acts were also much admired; but the palm was awarded by public
acclamation to Hernandez, whose backward jumps and feats on one leg
elicited a _furore_ of applause at every appearance. His success, and
consequent gains, enabled him, on leaving Astley’s, and in conjunction
with two partners, Eaton and Stone, to form a stud, with which they
opened on the classic boards of Drury Lane.

Among the company was an equestrian who appeared as Mdlle Ella, and
whose graceful acts of equitation elicited almost as much applause as
those of Hernandez, while the young artiste’s charms of face and form
were a never-ending theme of conversation and meditation for the
thousands of admirers who nightly followed them round the ring with
enraptured eyes. It was the same wherever Ella appeared, and great was
the surprise and mortification of the young equestrian’s admirers when
it became known, several years afterwards, that the beautiful, the
graceful, the accomplished Ella was not a woman, but a man! Ella is now
a husband and a father.

James Newsome was also a member of the very talented company which
Hernandez and his partners had brought together under the roof of Drury
Lane. After completing his engagement with Batty, and entering into
matrimonial obligations with Pauline Hinné, he had proceeded to Paris,
where he applied himself earnestly to the art of which he soon became a
leading master, namely, the breaking of horses in what is termed the
_haute école_, then almost unknown in this country. The fame which he
acquired in Paris procured him an engagement in Brussels, where he
taught riding to the Guides, by whose officers he was presented, on
leaving the Belgian capital, with a service of plate. From Brussels he
proceeded to Berlin, of which city Madame Newsome is a native. There the
famous English riding master added to his laurels by breaking a vicious
horse named Mirza, belonging to Prince Frederick William (now heir to
the imperial crown of Germany), who presented him with the animal, in
recognition of his skill. It may here be added, that he had the honour,
some years afterwards, of exhibiting his system of horse-breaking before
the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, by whom it was highly

On the termination of their season at Drury Lane, Hernandez and his
partners associated Newsome with themselves in the firm, and made a
successful tour of the provinces. In the following season, however,
Newsome separated from his partners, and started a well-appointed circus
of his own. The distinctive features of his establishment are, that he
breaks his horses himself—other circus proprietors, not having the
advantage of himself, Batty, and Ducrow, of being trained in the
profession, being compelled to hire horse-breakers; and that the
performances are not given under a tent, set up for a couple of days
only, and then removed to the next town, as in the case of most other
circuses, but in buildings erected for the purpose in most of the large
towns of the north of England, and permanently maintained.

The great Anglo-American circus of Howes and Cushing was added to the
number of the circuses travelling in England and Scotland about this
time. The strength of the company and stud, and the resources of the
proprietors, threatening to render it a formidable rival to the English
circuses, the Sangers were prompted by the spirit of competition to take
a leaf from Batty’s book, and introduce performing lions. The lions were
obtained, and the appointment of ‘lion king’ was offered to a musician
in the band, named Crockett, chiefly on account of his imposing
appearance, he being a tall, handsome man, with a full beard. He had had
no previous experience with wild beasts, but he was suffering from a
pulmonary disease, which performing on a wind instrument aggravated, and
the salary was tempting. So he accepted the appointment, and followed
the profession literally till the day of his death. It is worthy of
remark, as bearing on the causes of accidents with lions and tigers,
that Crockett was a strictly sober man; and so also was the equally
celebrated African lion-tamer, Macomo, who never drank any beverage
stronger than coffee. Many anecdotes are current in circuses and
menageries of the rare courage and coolness of both men.

One of Sanger’s lions was so tame that it used to be taken from the cage
to personate the British lion, lying at the feet of Mrs George Sanger,
in the character of Britannia, in the cavalcades customary with tenting
circuses when they enter a town, and which are professionally termed
parades. One morning, when the circus had been pitched near Weymouth,
the keepers, on going to the cage to take out this docile specimen of
the leonine tribe, found the five lions fighting furiously with each
other, their manes up, their talons out, their eyes flashing, and their
shoulders and flanks bloody. Crockett and the keepers were afraid to
enter. But George Sanger, taking a whip, entered the cage, beat the
lions on one side, and the lioness, who was the object of their
contention, on the other, and made a barrier between them of the boards
which were quickly passed in to him for the purpose. This exciting
affair did not prevent the lions from being taken into the ring on the
conclusion of the equestrian performance, and put through their regular

If Crockett temporarily lost his nerve on this occasion, it must be
acknowledged that he exhibited it in a wonderful degree at the time when
the lions got loose at Astley’s. The beasts had arrived the night before
from Edmonton, where Sanger’s circus was at that time located. How they
got loose is unknown, but it has been whispered, as a conjecture which
was supposed not to be devoid of foundation, that one of the grooms
liberated them in resentment of the fines by which he and his fellows
were mulcted by Batty, and in the malicious hope that they would destroy
the horses. Loose they were, however, and before Crockett, to whose
lodging a messenger was sent in hot haste, could reach the theatre, one
of the grooms was killed, and the lions were roaming about the
auditorium. Crockett went amongst them alone, with only a switch in his
hand, and in a few minutes he had safely caged the animals, without
receiving a scratch.

These lions were afterwards sold by the Sangers to Howes and Cushing,
when the latter were about to return to America, and Crockett
accompanied them at a salary of £20 a week. He had been two years in the
United States, when one day, while the circus was at Chicago, he fell
down while passing from the dressing-room to the ring, and died on the
spot. The Sangers possess lions at the present day, and one of them is
so tame that, as I am informed, it is allowed to roam at large in their
house, like a domestic tabby. This is probably the animal which, on the
occasion of the Queen’s thanksgiving visit to St Paul’s, reclined at the
feet of Mrs George Sanger, on a triumphal car, in the ‘parade’ with
which the day was celebrated by the Sangers and their troupe.

While Crockett was still travelling with the Sangers, and to
counterbalance the attractiveness of his exhibitions, it was suggested
to Joseph Hilton by James Lee, brother of the late Nelson Lee, that the
former’s daughter should be ‘brought out’ in his circus as a ‘lion
queen.’ The young lady was familiar with lions, another of the family
being the proprietor of a menagerie, and she did not shrink from the
distinction. She made her first public appearance with the lions at the
fair, since suppressed, which used to be held annually on Stepney Green.
The attractiveness of the spectacle was tempting to the proprietors of
circuses and menageries, and the example was contagious. Edmunds, the
proprietor of one of the three menageries into which Wombwell’s famous
collection was divided on the death of the original proprietor in 1850,
formed a fine group of lions, tigers, and leopards, and Miss Chapman—now
Mrs George Sanger—volunteered to perform with them as a rival to Miss

Miss Chapman, who had the honour of appearing before the royal family at
Windsor, had not long been before the public when a third ‘lion-queen’
appeared at another of the three menageries just referred to in the
person of Helen Blight, the daughter of a musician in the band. The
career of this young lady was a brief one, and its termination most
shocking. She was performing with the animals at Greenwich fair one day,
when a tiger exhibited some sullenness or waywardness, for which she
very imprudently struck it with a riding whip which she carried. The
infuriated beast immediately sprang upon her, with a hoarse roar, seized
her by the throat and killed her before she could be rescued. This
melancholy affair led to the prohibition of such performances by women;
but the leading menageries have continued to have ‘lion-kings’ attached
to them to this day.

Twenty years ago the lion-tamer of George Hilton’s menagerie was
Newsome, brother of the circus proprietor of that name; and on this
performer throwing up his engagement at an hour’s notice, owing to some
dispute with the proprietor, a man named Strand, who travelled about to
fairs with a gingerbread stall, volunteered to take his place. His
qualifications for the profession were not equal to his own estimate of
them, however, and James Lee, who was Hilton’s manager, looked about him
for his successor. One day, when the menagerie was at Greenwich fair, a
powerful-looking negro accosted one of the musicians, saying that he was
a sailor, just returned from a voyage, and would like to get employment
about the beasts. The musician informed Manders, into whose hands the
menagerie had just passed, and the negro was invited into the show.
Manders liked the man’s appearance, and at once agreed to give him an
opportunity of displaying his qualifications for the leonine regality to
which he aspired. The negro entered the lions’ cage, and displayed so
much courage and address in putting the animals through their
performances that he was engaged forthwith; and the ‘gingerbread king,’
as Strand was called by the showmen, lost his crown, receiving a week’s
notice of dismissal on the spot.

This black sailor was the performer who afterwards became famous far and
wide by the name of Macomo. The daring displayed by him, and which has
often caused the spectators to tremble for his safety, was without a
parallel. ‘Macomo,’ says the ex-lion king, in the account before quoted,
‘was the most daring man among lions and tigers I ever saw.’ Many
stories of his exploits are told by showmen. One of the finest tigers
ever imported into this country, and said to be the identical beast that
escaped from Jamrach’s possession, and killed a boy before it was
recaptured, was purchased by Manders, and placed in a cage with another
tiger. The two beasts soon began to fight, and were engaged in a furious
conflict, when Macomo entered the cage, armed only with a whip, and
attempted to separate them. Both the tigers immediately turned their
fury upon him, and severely lacerated him with their sharp claws; but,
covered with blood as he was, he continued to belabour them with the
whip until they cowered before him, and knew him for their master. Then,
with the assistance of the keepers, he succeeded in getting one of the
tigers into another cage, and proceeded to bind up his wounds. This was
not the only occasion on which Macomo received injuries, the scars of
which he bore to his grave. Every one who witnessed his performances
predicted for him a violent death. But, like Van Amburgh, like Crockett,
he seemed to bear a charmed life; and he died a natural death towards
the close of 1870.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

Pablo Fanque—James Cooke—Pablo Fanque and the Celestials—Ludicrous
    affair in the Glasgow Police-court—Batty’s transactions with Pablo
    Fanque—The Liverpool Amphitheatre—John Clarke—William
    Cooke—Astley’s—Fitzball and the Supers—Batty’s Hippodrome—Vauxhall
    Gardens—Ginnett’s Circus—The Alhambra—Gymnastic Performances in
    Music-Halls—Gymnastic Mishaps.

When Wallett, the clown, returned from his American tour, he had
arranged to meet Pablo Fanque at Liverpool, with a view to performances
in the amphitheatre there; but when the Shakspearian humourist arrived
in the Mersey, his dusky friend was giving circus performances in the
theatre at Glasgow, with James Cooke’s large circus on the Green, in
opposition to him. London was not, at that time, thought capable of
supporting more than one circus, and it was not to be expected that
Glasgow could support two, even for a limited period. Pablo Fanque
retired from the contest, therefore, and removed his company and stud to
Paisley. Doing a good business in that town, he returned to Glasgow with
a larger circus, a stronger company, and a more numerous stud, and Cooke
retired in his turn.

Wallett, who had been clowning in Franconi’s circus, then located in
Dublin, joined Pablo Fanque in Glasgow, and between them they devised an
entertainment which was found attractive, but which produced most
ludicrous consequences. There was a posturer in the company, whose
Hibernian origin was concealed under the _nom d’arena_ of Vilderini; and
it was proposed that this man should be transformed, in semblance at
least, into a Chinese. The Irishman did not object, though the process
involved the shaving of his head, and the staining of his skin with a
wash to the dusky yellow tint characteristic of the veritable
compatriots of Confucius. The metamorphosis was completed by arraying
him in a Chinese costume, and conferring upon him the name of
Ki-hi-chin-fan-foo, which appeared upon the bills in Chinese characters,
as well as in the English equivalents. Whether his sponsors had recourse
to a professor of the peculiar language of the Flowery Land, or took the
characters from the more convenient source presented by a tea-chest or a
cake of Indian ink, I am unable to say; but the strange scrawl served
its purpose, which was to attract attention and excite curiosity, and
the few Celestials in Glasgow were either more unsophisticated than the
‘heathen Chinee’ immortalized by Bret Harte, and suspected no deception,
or they were too illiterate to detect it.

It happened that an enterprising tea-dealer in the city had, some time
previously, conceived the idea of engaging a native of China to stand at
the shop-door, in Chinese costume, and give handbills to the
Glasgowegians as they passed. A Chinese was soon obtained, and posted at
the door, where, in a few weeks, he found himself confronted with a
fellow-countryman, who was similarly engaged at a rival tea-shop on the
other side of the street. The two Chineses—Milton is my authority for
that word—could not behold the circus bills, with their graphic design
of a Chinese festival and the large characters forming the name of the
great posturer who had performed before the brother of the sun and the
moon, without being moved. They went to the circus, and, in a posturing
act, to which a Chinese character was imparted by a profuse display of
Chinese lanterns and a discordant beating of gongs, thumping of
tom-toms, and clashing of cymbals, by supernumeraries in Chinese
costumes, they beheld the great Ki-hi-chin-fan-foo.

On the conclusion of the performance, they went round to what in a
theatre would be termed the stage-door, asked for their countryman, and
evinced undisguised disappointment on being informed that he could not
be seen. They repeated their application several times, but always with
the same result; and, the idea growing up in their minds that their
countryman was held in durance, and only liberated to appear in the
ring, they went to the police-court, and made an affidavit that such was
their belief. Pablo Fanque was, in consequence, called upon for an
explanation, and found himself obliged to produce the posturer in court,
and put him in the witness box to depose that he was not a countryman of
the troublesome Chineses, but a native of the Emerald Isle, who could
not speak a word of Chinese, and had never been in China in his life.

Pablo Fanque moved southward on leaving Glasgow, but he fell into
difficulties, and borrowed money of Batty, giving him a bill of sale
upon the circus and stud. Going into the midland districts, and finding
Newsome’s circus at Birmingham, he went on to Kidderminster, where,
failing to carry out his engagements with Batty, the latter took
possession of the concern, and announced it for sale. Becoming the
purchaser himself, he constituted Fanque manager, thus displacing
Wallett, who had been acting in that capacity for the late proprietor.

Wallett endeavoured to make an arrangement for the company and stud to
appear in the amphitheatre at Liverpool, but could not obtain Batty’s
acquiescence. Having engaged with Copeland to provide a circus company
and horses, Batty’s refusal to allow the Fanque troupe to go to
Liverpool put him to his shifts. Having to form a company in some way,
he engaged two equestrians, Hemming and Dale, who happened to be in
Liverpool without engagements; and hearing that John Clarke, then a very
old man, was in the neighbourhood, with three horses and as many clever
lads, he arranged with him for the whole. He then started for London by
the night train, roused William Cooke early in the morning, and hired of
him eight ring horses and a menage horse, at the same time engaging
Thomas Cooke for ring-master, with his pony, Prince, and his son, James
Cooke, the younger, as an equestrian. These were got down to Liverpool
with as little delay as possible, and the amphitheatre was opened for a
season that proved highly prosperous.

In 1851, the expectation of great gains from the concourse of foreigners
and provincials to the Great International Exhibition in Hyde Park
induced Batty to erect a spacious wooden structure, capable of
accommodating fourteen thousand persons, upon a piece of ground at
Kensington, opposite the gates terminating the broad walk of the
Gardens. It was opened in May as the Hippodrome, with amusements similar
to those presented in the Parisian establishment of the same name, from
which the company and stud were brought, under the direction of M.
Soullièr. Besides slack-rope feats and the clever globe performance of
Debach, there was a race in which monkeys represented the jockeys, a
steeple chase by ladies, an ostrich race, a chariot race, with horses
four abreast, after the manner of the ancients, and the feat of riding
two horses, and driving two others at the same time, the performances
concluding with one of those grand equestrian pageants, the production
of which subsequently made the name of the Sangers famous, in connection
with the Agricultural Hall.

Fitzball wrote some half-dozen spectacular dramas for Batty during the
latter’s management of Astley’s, one of the earliest of which was _The
White Maiden of California_, in which an effect was introduced which
elicited immense applause at every representation. The hero falls asleep
in a mountain cavern, and dreams that the spirits of the Indians who
have been buried there rise up from their graves around him. The
departed braves, each bestriding a cream-coloured horse, rose slowly
through traps, to appropriate music; and the sensation produced among
the audience by their unexpected appearance was enhanced by the
statue-like bearing of the men and horses, the latter being so well
trained that they stood, while rising to the stage, and afterwards, as
motionless as if they had been sculptured in marble.

Fitzball adapted to the hippo-dramatic stage the spectacle of _Azael_,
produced in 1851 at Drury Lane. At the first rehearsal, there was as
much difficulty in drilling the gentlemen of the chorus into unison, to
say nothing of decorum, as Ducrow had experienced at Drury Lane in
instructing the small fry of the profession in the graces of elocution.
There was an invocation to be chanted to the sacred bull by the priests
of Isis, and the choristers, who seem to have been drawn from the
stables, entered in an abrupt and disorderly manner, some booted and
spurred, and carrying whips, others holding a currycomb or a wisp of hay
or straw. Kneeling before the shrine, they shouted the invocation in
stentorian tones, and with a total disregard of unison; and during a
pause they disgusted the author still more by indulging in horse-play
and vulgar ‘chaff.’

Fitzball made them repeat the chorus, but without obtaining any
improvement. They would play, and they would not sing in unison.
Fitzball glanced at his watch; it indicated ten minutes to the dinner
hour of the fellows. He thereupon desired the call-boy to give his
compliments to Mr Batty, and request that the dinner-bell might not be
rung until he gave the word for the tintinnabulic summons. The
choristers heard the message, and, as they wanted their dinners, and
knew that Batty was a strict disciplinarian, it had the desired effect.
There was no more ‘chaffing,’ no more practical jokes; they repeated the
invocation in a chastened and subdued manner, and before the ten minutes
had expired their practice was as good as that of the chorus at Covent

_Mazeppa_ was revived at Astley’s during the season of 1851–2, and the
acts in the arena comprised the fox-hunting scene of Anthony Bridges
with a real fox; the great leaping act of John Bridges; the _cachuca_
and the _Cracovienne_ on the back of a horse, danced by Amelia Bridges;
the graceful equestrian exercises of Mademoiselles Soullier and Masotta;
the gymnastic feats of the Italian Brothers; and the humours and
witticisms of Barry and Wheal, the clowns.

The Hippodrome re-opened in the summer of 1852, under the management of
Henri Franconi, the most striking features of the entertainment being Mr
Barr’s exhibition of the sport of hawking, with living hawks and
falcons; the acrobatic and rope-dancing feats of the clever Brothers
Elliot; and Mademoiselle Elsler’s ascent of a rope over the roof of the

Batty, who was reputed to have died worth half a million sterling, was
succeeded in the lesseeship of Astley’s by William Cooke, who, with his
talented family, for several years well maintained the traditional
renown of that popular place of amusement. Like the Ducrows, the
Henglers, the Powells, and others, the Cookes are a family of
equestrians; and not the least elements of the success achieved by the
new lessee of Astley’s were the wonderful feats of equestrianism
performed by John Henry Cooke, Henry Welby Cooke, and Emily Cooke (now
Mrs George Belmore). Welby Cooke’s juggling acts on horseback were
greatly admired, and John H. Cooke’s feat of springing from the back of
a horse at full speed to a platform, under which the horse passed, and
alighting on its back again, was quite unique.

Vauxhall Gardens re-opened in 1854 with the additional attraction of a
circus, in rivalry with Cremorne, now become one of the most popular
places of amusement in the metropolis. The sensation of the season was
the gymnastic performance of a couple of youths known as the Italian
Brothers on a trapeze suspended beneath the car of a balloon, while the
aërial machine was ascending. The perilous nature of the performance
caused it to be prohibited by the Commissioners of Police, by direction
of the Home Secretary; a course which was also adopted in the case of
Madame Poitevin’s similar ascent from Cremorne, seated on the back of a
bull, in the character of Europa, though in that instance on the ground
of the cruelty of slinging the bovine representative of Jupiter beneath
the car.

Some years afterwards, the gymnasts who bore the professional
designation of the Brothers Francisco advertised their willingness to
engage for a trapeze performance beneath the car of a balloon; but they
received no response, probably owing to the official prohibition in the
case of the Italian Brothers.

‘Would not such a performance be rather hazardous?’ I said to one of

‘Oh, we should only do a few easy tricks,’ he replied. ‘We should soon
be too high for anybody to see what we were doing, and need only make
believe. Once out of sight, we should pull up into the car.’

‘Of course,’ I observed, ‘the risk of falling would be no greater than
if you were only thirty or forty feet from the ground; but, if you did
fall, there would be a difference, you would come down like poor

‘Squash!’ said the gymnast. ‘As the nigger said, it wouldn’t be the
falling, but the stopping, that would hurt us. But the risk would have
to be considered in the screw; and then there is something in the offer
to do the thing that ought to induce managers to offer us an

In 1858, Astley’s had a rival in the Alhambra, which, having failed to
realize the anticipations of its founders as a Leicester Square
Polytechnic, under the name of the Panopticon, was converted by Mr E. T.
Smith into an amphitheatre. Charles Keith, known all over Europe as ‘the
roving English clown,’ and Harry Croueste were the clowns; and Wallett
was also engaged in the same capacity during a portion of the season.
One of the special attractions of the Alhambra circle was the vaulting
and tumbling of an Arab troupe from Algeria. Vaulting is usually
performed by European artistes with the aid of a spring-board, and over
the backs of the horses, placed side by side. The head vaulter leads,
and the rest of the company—clowns, riders, acrobats, and
gymnasts—follow, repeating the bound until the difficulty of the feat,
increasing as one horse after another is added to the group, causes the
less skilful performers to drop, one by one, out of the line. The Arab
vaulters at the Alhambra dispensed with the spring-board, and threw
somersaults over bayonets fixed on the shouldered muskets of a line of
soldiers. This feat has since been performed by an Arab named Hassan,
who, with his wife, a French rope-dancer, has performed in several
circuses in this country.

Vauxhall Gardens, which had been closed for several years, opened on the
25th of July, in this year, for a farewell performance, in which a
circus troupe played an important part, with Harry Croueste as clown.
Then the once famous Gardens were given over to darkness and decay,
until the fences were levelled, the trees grubbed up, and the site
covered with streets, some of which, as Gye Street and Italian Street,
still recall the former glories of Vauxhall by their names.

Some reminiscences of the provincial circus entertainments of this
period have been furnished by Mr C. W. Montague, formerly with Sanger’s,
Bell’s, F. Ginnett’s, Myers’s, and William and George Ginnett’s
circuses, and now manager of Newsome’s establishment. ‘Early in the
spring of 1859,’ says this gentleman, ‘some business took me into the
neighbourhood of Whitechapel, and while passing the London Apprentice
public-house, I heard my name shouted, and looking round espied Harry
Graham, whom I had known in the elder Ginnett’s circus. He was doing a
conjuring trick outside a miserable booth, at the same time inviting the
public to walk in, the charge being only one halfpenny. On the
completion of the trick, he jumped off the platform, and insisted on our
adjourning to the public-house, where he explained the difficulty he was
in, having been laid up all the winter with rheumatic gout. On his
partial recovery, he was compelled to accept the first thing that
offered, which was an engagement with the owner of the booth, a man
known in the profession as the Dudley Devil.

‘Poor Harry begged me to give him a start; so I came to an arrangement
to take him through the provinces as M. Phillipi, the Wizard. This was
on a Friday; on the following Wednesday he appeared at Ramsgate to an
eighteen pound morning performance and a fourteen pound one at night,
our prices being three shillings, two shillings, and one shilling,
although in Whitechapel he would not have earned five shillings per day.
Among other places I visited was Dartford, where I took the Bull Hotel
assembly-room, which had been recently rebuilt, but not yet opened. Mrs
Satherwaite, a lady of considerable distinction, kindly gave me her
patronage, and I arranged for a band at Gravesend. On the day of the
performance, towards the afternoon, the band not having arrived, I sent
my assistant to Gravesend, with instructions to bring a band with him.
Half-past seven arrived, the time announced for opening the doors, when
a large crowd had assembled, as much out of curiosity to see the new
room as the conjurer, and in a short time every seat was occupied.

‘Just before the clock struck eight, the time for commencement, in came
my assistant, saying the band had gone to Dover, to a permanent
engagement. I ran round to the stage-door, and told Graham. He said it
was impossible to give the entertainment without music. In my despair, I
rushed into the street, with the intention of asking Reeves, the
music-seller, if he could let me have a pianoforte. I had not got many
yards when I heard a squeaking noise, and found it proceeded from
_three_ very dirty German boys, one playing a cornopean, another a
trombone, and the third a flageolet. On accosting them, I found they
could not speak a word of English; so I took two of them by the collar,
and the other followed. On reaching the stage-door, I could hear the
impatient audience making a noise for a commencement.

‘Harry Graham, on seeing my musicians, said it would queer everything to
let them be seen by the audience. “I can manage that,” I said; “we will
just put them under the stage, and I will motion them when to go on and
when to leave off.” In another moment M. Phillipi was on the stage, and
received with shouts of applause from the impatient audience. On the
conclusion of the performance, I went to the front, and thanked Mrs
Satherwaite for her kindness, when she said, “He is very clever; but,
oh! that horrid unearthly music!”’

‘On finishing the watering towns, I took the Cabinet Theatre, King’s
Cross, where M. Phillipi appeared with success. One evening, to vary the
performance, we arranged to do the bottle trick, and specially engaged a
confederate, who was to change the bottles from the top of the ladder,
through one of the stage-traps. By some error, the man took his position
directly the bell rang for the curtain to go up, instead of doing so, as
he should have done, at the commencement of the second part of the
entertainment. M. Phillipi commenced his usual address, explaining to
the audience that he did not use machinery or employ confederates, as
other conjurers are wont to do; and to convince them, he pulled up the
cloth of the table, at the same time saying, “you see there is nothing
here but a common deal table.” To his surprise, the audience exclaimed,
“There’s a man there!” But he was equal to the occasion, and went on
with his address, taking the first opportunity to give the confederate a
kick, when down the ladder he went.

‘At this establishment, while under my management, the earthly career of
poor Harry Graham was brought to a close. For many years it had been his
boast that his Richard III. was second only to Edmund Kean’s, and that
he only lacked the opportunity to astound all London with his
impersonation of the character. Now the opportunity had arrived, and he
determined to play it for his benefit; but, unfortunately, the
excitement of this dream of years was too much for him, and he died a
few days afterwards. Those who are curious about the last resting-place
of this world-renowned showman may find his grave in the Tower Hamlets

‘In the following winter, I joined Ginnett’s circus at Greenwich, and
found the business in a wretched condition. The principal reason for
this state of things was, that the circus had only a tin roof and wooden
boarding around, and the weather being very severe, the place could not
be kept warm. I was at my wits’ ends to improve the receipts when, being
one day in a barber’s shop, getting shaved, the barber remarked, “There
goes poor Townsend.” On inquiring I found that the gentleman referred to
had been M. P. for Greenwich, but in consequence of great pecuniary
difficulties had had to resign. My informant told me that he was a most
excellent actor, he having seen him, on more than one occasion, perform
Richard III. with great success; and what was more, he was an immense
favourite in Greenwich and Deptford, he having been the means, when in
the House of Commons, of getting the dockyard labourers’ wages
considerably advanced.

‘It immediately struck me that, if I could get the ex-M. P. to perform
in our circus, it would be a great draw. With this object in my mind, I
waited on Mr Townsend the next morning, and explained to him my views.
“Heaven knows,” he said in reply, “I want money bad enough; but to do
this in Greenwich would be impossible.” I did not give it up, however,
but pressed him on several occasions, until at last he consented to
appear as Richard III. for a fortnight, on sharing terms. The next
difficulty was as to who should sustain the other characters in the
play, there being no one in the company, except Mr Ginnett and myself,
capable of taking a part. We got over the difficulty by cutting the
piece down, and Mr Ginnett and myself doubling for Richmond, Catesby,
Norfolk, Ratcliffe, Stanley, and the Ghosts. The business,
notwithstanding these drawbacks, turned out a great success; so much so,
that Mr Townsend insisted on treating the whole of the company to a
supper. Shortly afterwards, he went to America.

‘In the following year, while at Cardiff, we got up an equestrian
spectacle entitled _The Tournament; or, Kenilworth Castle in the Days of
Good Queen Bess_, for which we required many supernumeraries to take
part in the procession, the most important being a handsome-looking
female to impersonate the maiden Queen. Walking down Bute Street one
day, I espied, serving in a fruiterer’s shop, a female whom I thought
would answer our purpose admirably. So I walked in, and made a small
purchase, which led to conversation; and by dint of a little persuasion,
and explaining the magnificent costume to be worn, the lady consented to
attend a rehearsal on the following day. She came to the circus,
received the necessary instructions, and seemed highly gratified when
seated on the throne, surrounded by her attendants.

‘On the first night of the piece, everything went off well until its
close, when Mr Ginnett rushed into my dressing-room, in great
excitement, exclaiming, “There is that infernal woman sitting on her
throne!” I immediately proceeded to the ring-doors, and there, to my
dismay, saw the Queen on the throne by herself, and the boys in the
gallery pelting her with orange peel. I beckoned to her, but she seemed
to have lost all presence of mind. I sent one of the grooms to fetch her
off, and amidst roars of laughter her royal highness gathered up her
robes, and made a bolt. It appeared that the Earl of Leicester, who
should have led her off, had, for a joke, told her to stay until she was
sent for.’

Gymnastics continued in the ascendant at the Alhambra long after its
conversion into a music-hall, and crowds flocked there nightly to
witness the wondrous, and then novel, feats of Leotard, Victor Julien,
Verrecke, and Bonnaire on the flying trapeze. Somersaults over horses in
the ring, being performed by the aid of a spring-board, are far
surpassed by the similar feats of gymnasts between the bars of the
flying trapeze. The single somersaults of Leotard and Victor Julien were
regarded with wonder, but they have been excelled by the double
somersault executed by Niblo, which, in its turn, has been surpassed by
the triple turn achieved by the young lady known to fame as ‘Lulu.’ I am
not aware that a quadruple somersault has ever been accomplished, if
indeed it has ever been attempted. It was stated, about three years ago,
that a gymnast who had attempted the feat in Dublin paid the penalty of
his hardihood in loss of life; but experience has rendered me somewhat
incredulous as to the rumours of fatal accidents to gymnasts and
acrobats which are not confirmed by the report of a coroner’s inquest.

Besznak, the cornet-player of the London Pavilion orchestra, said to me
one evening, several years ago, ‘You know Willio, the bender? Well, he
is dead; went into the country to perform at a gala, and caught a cold,
poor fellow!’ Willio is, however, still living. I will give another
instance. About two years ago, one of the Brothers Ridgway met with an
accident at the Canterbury Hall, while practising. Some weeks
afterwards, it was currently reported that his injuries had proved
fatal. Subsequently, however, a gentleman engaged in the ballet at the
Alhambra, and who, at the time of the accident, had been similarly
engaged at the Canterbury, was accosted one evening, while returning
home, in the well-known voice of the young gymnast who had been reported
dead. Turning round in surprise, he saw that it was indeed Ridgway who
had spoken, looking somewhat paler than he did before the accident, but
far more lively than a corpse.

Great as the risks attending gymnastic feats really are, they are not
greater than those which are braved every day by sailors, miners, and
many other classes, as well as in hunting, shooting, rowing, and other
sports, not excluding even cricket. While there are few gymnasts who
have not met with casualties in the course of their career, the
proportion of fatal accidents to the number of professional gymnasts
performing is certainly not greater than among the classes just
mentioned, and I believe it to be even less. During the period between
the advent of Leotard at the Alhambra and the present time, only two
gymnasts, so far as I have been able to ascertain, have been killed
while performing; and the prophecy attributed to that renowned gymnast,
that all his emulators would break their necks, has, happily, not been

                              CHAPTER IX.

Cremorne Gardens—The Female Blondin—Fatal Accident at Aston
    Park—Reproduction of the Eglinton Tournament—Newsome and
    Wallett—Pablo Fanque’s Circus—Equestrianism at Drury Lane—Spence
    Stokes—Talliott’s Circus—The Gymnasts of the Music-halls—Fatal
    Accident at the Canterbury—Gymnastic Brotherhoods—Sensational
    Feats—Sergeant Bates and the Berringtons—The Rope-trick—How to do

Though the history of circus performances would be scarcely complete
without an occasional passing glance at the music-halls, it would be
impracticable to give a consecutive record of the performances at places
now so numerous without producing a work that would rival in
voluminousness, and, I may add, in tedium, the dramatic history of
Geneste. I shall, therefore, give only a general view of them, including
in the survey places which, during the summer, divide with them the
patronage of the pleasure-seeking public.

While the graceful performance of Leotard was attracting nightly crowds
to the Alhambra, the public were invited by the lessee of Cremorne
Gardens to witness the crossing of the Thames on a rope by a lady who
assumed the name of the Female Blondin, and whose performance was
probably suggested by the more adventurous feat of her masculine
prototype over the cataract of Niagara. The performance was decidedly
sensational, and attracted a great crowd; besides having the advantage
of being attended with much less risk to the performer than any
exhibition ever given by the cool-headed and intrepid Frenchman whose
name she borrowed. Had Blondin fell at Niagara, he would have been
carried over the cataract, and been dashed to pieces; if he should fall
from his lofty elevation at the Crystal Palace, he would be killed

Miss Young incurred no such risk; if she had fallen into the river, she
would have found it soft, and so many boats were on its surface that the
risk of drowning could not enter into the calculation. Leotard practised
his aerial somersault over water before he performed in public; and it
would have been well for Miss Young if she had confined her rope-walking
feats to localities in which she had the water beneath her. The
experiment at Cremorne served its purpose in recommending her to the
attention of managers as a rival of Blondin on the high rope; but it was
not long before she met with an accident which rendered, her a cripple
for life, while another young woman, whom her success led to emulate her
lofty feats, fell from a rope at Aston Park, in the environs of
Birmingham, and was killed on the spot.

The great attraction of the Cremorne season of 1863 was a tournament,
got up on the model of the one which attracted so large a proportion of
the upper ten thousand to Eglinton Castle in the summer of 1844. There
was a grand procession to the lists, and an imposing display of banners,
and all the pomp and pageantry of bygone times; and then the encounters
of the armoured knights, for which the lists at Cremorne afforded much
more scope than the stage at Astley’s, or even at Drury Lane. Doubtless
there were some dummies, as I have seen in the tournament scene in
_Mazeppa_; but the living knights acquitted themselves very creditably,
and the spectacle proved a powerful source of attraction.

The Queen of Beauty was a lady whose ordinary business was to ride in
_entrées_, and who was known professionally as Madame Caroline. If she
did not, like Thackeray’s Miss Montmorency, live in the New Cut, she had
her abode in the vicinage of that thoroughfare, in the somewhat more
westerly region which receives, after midnight, so large a proportion of
those who, in various ways, contribute to the amusement of the public.
Yet there may have been some of the critical spectators of the Cremorne
tournament who, looking upon Madame Caroline, may have felt the force of
the remark made by Willis as to the comparative suitability of Lady
Seymour and Fanny Kemble to have occupied the throne of the Queen of
Beauty at Eglinton Castle.

‘The eyes,’ said Willis, ‘to flash over a crowd at a tournament, to be
admired from a distance, to beam down upon a knight kneeling for a
public award of honour, should be full of command; dark, lustrous, and
fiery. Hers are of the sweetest and most tranquil blue that ever
reflected the serene heaven of a happy hearth—eyes to love, not wonder
at—to adore and rely upon, not admire and tremble for. At the distance
at which most of the spectators of the tournament saw Lady Seymour,
Fanny Kemble’s stormy orbs would have shown much finer; and the forced
and imperative action of a stage-taught head and figure would have been
more applauded than the quiet, nameless, and indescribable grace, lost
to all but those immediately around her.’

Wallett, the clown, on his return from his second American tour, having
acquired some money, was taken into partnership by Newsome, whose circus
was, in the words of the former, ‘one of the most complete concerns ever
seen,’ They opened at Birmingham, where good business was done for a few
months, after which they started on a tenting tour, with a stud of forty
horses. They returned to Birmingham for the winter, and showed their
thousands of patrons one of the finest amphitheatres ever opened in this
country. The ring, instead of having saw-dust or tan laid down, was
covered with pile matting of cocoa-nut fibre for the horses to run on,
while the central portion, where the ring-master cracks his whip and the
clown his ‘wheeze,’ boasted a circular carpet. The decorations of the
interior were rich and tasteful, and it was illuminated by a chandelier
by Defries, which had cost a thousand guineas.

The association of Wallett with Newsome continued for two years, after
which the circus was conducted by the latter single-handed, and the
former joined Pablo Fanque’s circus as clown. He is next found engaging
the talented Delavanti family for a tour, and afterwards coming with
them to London, where they were all engaged at Drury Lane Theatre, then
temporarily open for circus performances, under the management of Spence
Stokes, an American.

In 1865, Hengler’s company and stud came to London, and gave a series of
performances at the Stereorama, temporarily converted into a circus for
the purpose.

On the termination of these performances, and of William Cooke’s
lesseeship of Astley’s, London was without an amphitheatre for several
years, with the exception of a few months, when a small temporary circus
was opened in the back-slums of Lambeth Walk, by James Talliott,
formerly well known as a trapeze performer. The company and stud, which
were on a very limited scale, were supplied from Fossett’s circus, which
tented at fairs during the summer, and Talliott erected a temporary
circus for them on the yards at the back of a row of houses belonging to

During the time that Astley’s ceased to exist as a circus, the
music-halls of the metropolis, which were now springing up in every
quarter, supplied the seekers after amusement with a constant succession
of performers of those portions of a circus entertainment which can be
exhibited upon a platform. The fatal accident which befell a gymnast
named Majilton at the Canterbury caused the proprietors of those places
of amusement to discountenance the flying trapeze for a time, and the
rising school of young gymnasts who intended to transcend the feats of
Leotard began to practise on the fixed trapeze, single or double, the
horizontal bar, and the flying rings. The gymnast known professionally
as Airec made balancing the distinctive feature of his performances, and
exhibited it on the trapeze in every position. Others gave to their
feats on the trapeze the sensational character which was so striking an
element in the performances of Leotard and Victor Julien by exhibiting
what is called ‘the drop,’ in which one of the performers falls headlong
from the bar, as if by accident, and is caught by the foot by his
companion, who himself hangs from the bar by his feet, which are locked
in the angles formed by the bar and its supporting ropes.

The gymnasts known as the Brothers Ellis, and sometimes as the Brothers
Ellistria, were two of the best performers on the horizontal bar that I
ever witnessed. The slow pull-up of James Ellis was inimitable; but in
feats in which ease and grace were displayed more than strength he was
excelled, I think, by his partner, who, after their separation, assumed
the name of Castelli. I must here remark that gymnastic and acrobatic
‘brothers’ seldom bear the relationship to each other which the
designation conveys. Though it exists in some instances, as in the case
of the Brothers Ridley (both, I believe, now dead), they are the
exceptions; the Brothers Francisco, who performed in numerous circuses
and provincial music-halls several years ago, but have since retired
from the profession, were cousins. The Brothers Ellis, the Brothers
Price, and many other professional fraternities that could be named were
not even partners, one of them making engagements and receiving the
salary, taking the lion’s share for himself, and paying a stipulated sum
to his companion, in or out of an engagement.

The partnership of the Brothers Price, who performed on the double
trapeze, was of brief duration. Price, for only one of them bore that
patronymic in private life, had the good fortune to receive a legacy of
considerable amount, and thereupon retired from the profession; and his
partner, whose real name was Welsh, assumed the name of Jean Price, and,
knowing that single trapeze performances did not ‘go’ like the double,
he began to practise the ‘long flight,’ and made it his specialty.
Suspending his trapeze above the platform, as usual, he erected a perch,
as for the flying trapeze, at the opposite end of the hall, and at the
same altitude as the trapeze. Midway between the perch and the trapeze a
pair of ropes were suspended from the ceiling, and provided with rings
or stirrups, as for the flying rings performance, but long enough to
reach the perch. Taking his stand on the perch, and grasping the rings
firmly with his hands, the gymnast sprang off into the air, and swung to
the trapeze, which he caught with his legs, at the same moment loosing
his hold of the rings. He then performed some ordinary feats on the
trapeze, and catching the climbing rope swung to him by an attendant,
descended by it to the platform, from which he bowed his acknowledgments
of the warm applause with which such sensational feats as the long
flight are invariably received.

Remarks are often made by gymnasts as to the ease with which they
perform on the trapeze and the horizontal bar many of the feats which
elicit the most applause, as compared with those which often excite no
demonstration whatever. Every one who has witnessed the tight-rope
performances of the inimitable Blondin must have observed how much more
he is applauded when he appears on a rope stretched at a great elevation
than when he performs his feats on a low rope. There is, however, no
more difficulty, and no greater risk of falling, whether the rope is
stretched at an elevation of four feet only, or of forty feet, while the
feats performed are the same. But the greater elevation conveys to most
minds the idea of a greater amount of skill and courage being required
for their performance, and hence the louder and more general applause
which they elicit when they are performed on the high rope. People
admire daring, and the more sensational a gymnastic performance of any
kind is the more it is sure to be applauded.

Antipodean balancing feats have been exhibited by several music-hall
_artistes_, in various modes, and with a considerable variety of
accessories. James King, known as the bottle equilibrist, places a stool
on a table, four wine glasses on the stool, a tray upon the glasses, and
a decanter upon the tray; and then, grasping the upper part of the
decanter with both hands, raises himself to a head-balance. Another
_artiste_ of this class, Jean Bond, balances himself upon his head upon
the summit of one of the uprights of a ladder, which is surmounted by a
revolving cap, and by turning the cap with his hands, he spins round in
that position. A more interesting performance, to my mind, than either
of these was shown three or four years ago by an acrobat named Carl, who
walked upon his hands along a wire stretched from the gallery to a
temporary platform on the stage. In performing this feat, the whole
weight of the body rests on the right and left hands alternately, and
the equilibrium is maintained by following each movement of the hands
along the wire with a corresponding motion of the body, so that, whether
the weight is resting on the right hand or the left, the centre of
gravity is directly above the wire.

The flying rings, being a less sensational performance than the trapeze,
has not been much favoured by gymnasts, though they frequently practise
with the rings while training, as a preparation for the flying trapeze.
Some very good tricks can be shown with them, however, and several years
ago the performance was made a specialty by a brace of gymnasts known as
Parelli and Costello. Parelli is not an Italian, as his professional
name would lead the _incognoscenti_ in such matters to infer, but a
native of Westminster, and his real name is Francis Berrington. Having
practised gymnastics with a view to a public appearance, he found a
partner in a young acrobat named Costello, also a native of Westminster,
whose performances had hitherto been exhibited in quiet streets, and
been followed by a ‘nob.’ He is not, however, the only performer whom
the multiplication of music-halls, and the consequent demand for
gymnasts and acrobats in such establishments, has elevated from the
streets to the platform; and it is certain that the change, while it has
raised the status of the vocation, has produced a great improvement in
the quality of the performance, by furnishing the performer with a
constant incentive thereto. It is a curious illustration of the system
of adopting professional names differing from their real patronymics,
and which obtains equally among all classes that contribute to the
amusement of the public in theatres, circuses, and music-halls, that
Parelli is the brother of Luke Berrington, who performs under the name
of Majilton. Luke Berrington is a very creditable artist in
water-colours, and his views of the various portions of the exterior and
interior of Westminster Abbey have been greatly admired by competent
judges for their artistic finish and the fidelity with which every
portion of the venerable edifice has been reproduced. To the general
public, however, he is better known as a clever performer of the tricks
with a hat of soft felt which were first exhibited in this country by
the French clowns, Arthur and Bertrand.

Mr Berrington, senior, the father of Luke and Frank, is not a little
proud of his clever sons and daughter. When Serjeant Bates, to win a
wager and make a book, carried the flag of the American Union from
Glasgow to London, the elder Berrington welcomed him to the metropolis
in an epistle signed ‘Majilton,’ without the prefix of his baptismal
name, as if the writer was a peer of the realm, and used his title. He
refers, with pardonable parental pride, to his olive-branches, then
making a professional tour in the United States, Luke and Frank being
accompanied by their sister and Costello; and the serjeant, who had
probably never heard of them before, speaks of them as a talented family
of actors! Their entertainment was really a ballet of _diablerie_, like
those of Fred Evans and the Lauri family, with a good deal of tumbling
and hat-spinning.

Seven or eight years ago, the great ‘sensation’ of the London
music-halls was a balancing feat of a novel character, which was
exhibited by an acrobat named professionally Sextillian, but whose real
name is James Lee. He arranged about a score of glass tumblers in the
form of an inverted pyramid, and balanced the fragile structure on his
forehead, the base being formed by a single tumbler. But this was not
all. He changed his position several times, constantly assuming
attitudes which would have won the admiration of the world, if they
could have been perpetuated in marble, and even passed in various
positions through a hoop, all the time maintaining the equilibrium of
the glittering pile that rested upon such a narrow base upon his
forehead. If any of my readers should be disposed to attempt the
performance of this feat as a private drawing-room entertainment, they
must be prepared with a good supply of tumblers, for I am able to assure
them, on the excellent authority of Sextillian himself, that the
wondrous dexterity with which he performs it was not attained without an
extensive destruction of glass.

Another performance which excited a large amount of public attention,
partly through the mystery in which the _modus operandi_ was enveloped,
and partly by reason of the excitement previously produced by the
Brothers Davenport’s exhibition of alleged spirit-manifestations, was
the ‘rope-trick,’ shown first by an expert performer named Redmond at
Astley’s, and afterwards at most of the music-halls. The performer was
enclosed in a cabinet about three feet square, and five or six feet
high, with a door facing the spectators, and provided with a small
aperture near the top. In a few minutes an attendant opened the door,
when Redmond was seen within, securely bound in a chair. The spectators
were allowed to satisfy themselves that he was bound as securely as if a
second person had bound him, and then the door was closed. In a few
moments he rang a bell, then he showed one hand at the aperture; in a
few seconds more he began to beat a tambourine, and in a minute and a
half from the time he was shut in the door was opened again, and he
walked out, with the rope in his hands. This performance proved so
attractive that it soon had many imitators, but none of them did it in
so genuine and puzzling a manner, or displayed equal dexterity in its

The trick was not original, but it was new to the public, or at least to
the present generation. I have heard it called both the American
rope-trick and the Indian rope-trick, but the former name may have been
derived from the similar performance of the Brothers Davenport, who
pretended to be passive agents in the business, and to be tied and
untied by spirits. Long before the pretended spiritual phenomena were
ever heard of, the rope-trick was in the _repertoire_ of the famous
Hindoo juggler, Ramo Samee, who performed at the Adelphi and the
Victoria some forty years ago. The manner of its performance is said to
have been communicated by him to one of the Brothers Nemo, who thought
so little of it that he never exhibited it until the public mind had
become excited by the tricks of the Davenports and the antagonistic
performance of Redmond. Next to the latter, Nemo was the best exhibitor
of the trick that I ever saw; but that is not saying much, for most of
them were so incompetent to perform it that the effect produced by its
exhibition by them was simply ludicrous. I remember one of them—I will
not mention his name—complaining when he found that he could not release
himself, that he had not been treated as a gentleman by the person—one
of the spectators—by whom he had been bound; and another, that he had
been tied so tightly that the rope hurt his wrists, and stipulating, on
another occasion, that he should not be tied tight!

The peculiarity which distinguished Redmond’s feats in a remarkable
manner from those of his imitators was, that he not only released
himself from the rope in less time than was occupied in binding him,
whoever the operator might be, but bound himself in a manner that
baffled the skill and exhausted the patience of every one who attempted
to unbind him. I was present one evening at the decision of a wager
which had been made by a West-end butcher, that he would unbind Redmond
in a given time, the tying up being done by Redmond himself. The
performer entered the cabinet, carrying the rope, and was shut in; in
less than two minutes the door was opened, and he was seen bound, hand
and foot, to the chair on which he was sitting. The butcher immediately
set to work, several gentlemen standing around, with their watches in
their hands, surveying the operation with the keenest interest. It was
very soon seen that the butcher was at fault; he could not find either
end of the rope. He sought in Redmond’s boots, up his sleeves, inside
his vest, but the rope seemed endless. He fumed, he perspired, as the
seconds grew into minutes, and the minutes swiftly chased each other
down the stream of time; but no end could he discover. Time was called,
and the butcher’s wager was lost. Redmond was then enclosed in the
cabinet again, and in less than two minutes he was free.

The secret of this trick is unknown to me, but I was not long in
discovering that the mere untying by a person of a rope which has been
bound about him by another is, however securely the rope may be tied, a
very simple matter. It does not follow, however, that the feat can be
performed by every one. The operator must possess good muscles, sound
lungs, small hands, and strong fingers. If he clenches his hands, raises
the muscles of his arms, and keeps his chest inflated during the
operation of tying, he will find that his work is half done by the
simple process of opening his hands, relaxing the muscles of the arms,
and restoring the natural respiration. If the wrists are bound together
without being separately secured, the releasing of one hand frees the
other by the slackening of the rope; but the operator is thought to be
more securely tied when the rope is tied with a knot about the right
wrist, and then passed round the other, both drawn close together, and a
second knot tied. In this case, the right hand must be drawn through the
hempen bracelet by arching it lengthwise, and bringing the thumb within
the palm, so that the breadth of the hand shall very little exceed that
of the wrist; and this operation is greatly facilitated by a smooth,
hard skin. With the right hand at liberty, there is little more to be
done; for a skilful and experienced manipulator finds it easier to slip
out of his bonds than to untie the knots which are supposed to increase
his difficulty. Any man possessing the physical qualifications which I
have mentioned ought to be able to liberate himself, however securely he
is tied, in a minute and a half.

I have performed this feat on several occasions for the satisfaction of
friends, and have always released myself in Redmond’s time, except on
one occasion, when I failed entirely, and had to be released by the
gentleman who had bound me. He had, unknown to me, made a noose at one
end of the rope, and this he passed over my head, after binding my arms
and knotting the rope behind me in such a manner that I could not move
either hand without producing a lively sense of strangulation.

‘I learned that trick in Australia,’ observed the author of my
discomfiture. ‘I tied up a black fellow like that in the bush; _and he
is there now_.’

                               CHAPTER X.

Opening of the Holborn Amphitheatre—Friend’s season at Astley’s—Adah
    Isaacs Menken—Sanger’s Company at the Agricultural Hall—The Carré
    troupe at the Holborn Amphitheatre—Wandering Stars of the
    Arena—Albert Smith and the Clown—Guillaume’s Circus—The Circo
    Price—Hengler’s Company at the Palais Royal—Re-opening of Astley’s
    by the Sangers—Franconi’s Circus—Newsome’s Circus—Miss Newsome and
    the Cheshire Hunt—Rivalry between the Sangers and Howes and Cushing.

After the lapse of several years, during which no equestrian
performances were given in the metropolis, though gymnastic and
acrobatic feats were exhibited nightly at a score of music-halls, a new
amphitheatre was, in 1868, erected on the north side of Holborn. There,
under the excellent management of Messrs Charman and Maccollum, have
been exhibited some of the finest acts of horsemanship, and the most
striking gymnastic feats, ever witnessed by this or any other
generation. Alfred Bradbury’s wonderful jockey act; James Robinson’s
great feat of hurdle-leaping on the bare back of a horse with a boy
standing upon his shoulders; the marvellous leap through a series of
hoops of George Delavanti; the astounding gymnastic performances of the
Hanlons and the Rizarelis; the extraordinary somersaulting and
rocket-like bound of the young lady known as Lulu; and the graceful
riding of Beatrice Chiarini, without saddle or bridle, will not soon be
forgotten by those who had the gratification of witnessing them.

In the same year that the Holborn Amphitheatre was opened, Astley’s was
re-opened as a circus by Mr Friend. The chief attraction upon which Mr
Friend relied was the impersonation of Mazeppa by Adah Isaacs Menken, a
young lady of Jewish extraction, who came from America with the
reputation of a female Crichton of the nineteenth century. According to
a biographical sketch prefixed to a Paris version of the drama, _The
Pirate of the Savannah_, in which she appeared in that city, she had
written verses and essays at an age at which other girls are occupied
with dolls, and translated the _Iliad_ in her thirteenth year. In Latin
and Hebrew, Spanish and German, she was as proficient as in Greek;
French, her enthusiastic Gallic biographer does not seem to consider it
necessary to mention. Her mother being left in reduced circumstances at
her second widowhood, Adah resolved to devote her natural talents and
acquired accomplishments to the stage, and made her appearance as a
dancer at the opera-house at New Orleans, of which city she was a

After achieving the greatest artistic triumphs there and at Havanna, she
abandoned the boards for the literary profession, publishing a volume of
poems, and contributing for some time to two New Orleans journals. In
1858, being then seventeen years of age, she made her _début_ as an
actress in her native city, and subsequently performed in the chief
towns of the West. In 1863 she went to San Francisco, and afterwards
made a professional tour of the Eastern States, raising her reputation,
according to her biographer, to the highest pitch.

Unfortunately for the maintenance of the exalted fame which she brought
from the United States, this versatile lady appeared, not at the Italian
Opera as a dancer, nor at Drury Lane or Covent Garden as an actress,
which such fame should have entitled her to do, but at Astley’s in the
character of Mazeppa; and it was still more unfortunate that the
management pinned their faith in her powers of attraction, not upon her
talent as an actress, but upon her beauty and grace, and her ability to
play the part without recourse to a double for the fencing and riding.
Enormous posters everywhere met the eye, representing the lady,
apparently in a nude state, stretched on the back of a wild horse, and
inviting the public to go to Astley’s, and see ‘the beautiful Menken.’
Young men thronged the theatre to witness this combination of _poses
plastiques_ with dramatic spectacle, and ‘girls of the period’ dressed
their hair _à la Menken_, that is, like the frizzled crop of a negress;
but the theatrical critics looked coldly and sadly upon the performance,
and accused the management of ministering to a vitiated taste.

Adah Menken was at this time in her twenty-seventh year, and had a few
years previously become the wife of Heenan, the pugilist, whose fine
figure had won her regards when the wealthiest men in California were
competing for her favours. The union was not a happy one, for which
result both the parties have been blamed; and the cause of difference
was probably one in respect of which neither could reproach the other
without provoking recrimination. Heenan, who was then in London, might
often have been seen at Astley’s during his wife’s engagement, and it
was said that both desired a reconciliation, and that Adah had come to
England with that view; but nothing came of it. ‘The beautiful Menken’
went to Paris, and was said to be on terms of tender intimacy with the
elder Dumas. She died in Paris shortly afterwards, and her remains rest
in the cemetery of Père La Chaise.

Adah Isaacs Menken was undoubtedly a woman of rare natural talents and
great accomplishments. While in London, she published a volume of poems,
with the general title of _Infelicia_, which correctly describes their
tone and character. Some of them are as wild as anything which has
emanated from Walt Whitman, and more are replete with the weird fancies
and wayward genius of Poe; but all are pervaded by a deep and touching
melancholy, which seems to shadow forth the spectre that haunted the
author’s gay and brilliant life, like the garlanded skeleton at the
festive board of the ancient Egyptians. From the suggestive title to the
last of the little head-and-tail pieces, designed probably by Adah
herself, everything in the book impresses a lesson which may be read in
Ecclesiastes. In the first of these tiny engravings we seem to read the
moral of the author’s life-story. It represents a woman stretched on the
shore of a stormy sea, with her face to the earth, and her dark hair
flowing over her recumbent form, which is faintly illuminated by the
fitful light of a moon half-obscured by drifting masses of black clouds.
The book was dedicated to Dickens, and contains a photographic
reproduction of a letter from the great novelist, thanking ‘Dear Miss
Menken’ for her portrait, and giving the desired permission to the

On the legal principle, it would seem, that two lawyers will live where
one would starve, the Sangers brought their company and stud to the
Agricultural Hall, where, for several successive winters, their
performances attracted thousands of spectators. This establishment
continues to travel during the summer, however, only resorting to a
permanent building in the metropolis when the approach of winter renders
‘tenting’ as unpleasant as it is unprofitable. The Agricultural Hall,
not having been constructed for equestrian entertainments, is not so
well adapted for them as for the purpose for which it was especially
designed, and the locality is far inferior, as a site for a circus, to
that of the Holborn Amphitheatre, of the circus subsequently erected by
Charles Hengler, or even Astley’s.

It was at the Holborn Amphitheatre that the first female trapezist
appeared, in the person of a beautiful young woman rejoicing in the _nom
d’arena_ of Azella, the attractiveness of whose performances, as in the
case of female lion-tamers, soon produced many imitators. Azella was
announced to appear on the flying trapeze, and to turn a somersault; but
this feat, which created such a sensation when performed by Leotard and
Victor Julien, was exhibited by the fair aspirant to the highest
gymnastic honours in a manner which caused some disappointment to those
who had witnessed the performances of those renowned gymnasts at the
Alhambra. Instead of throwing off from one bar, turning the somersault,
and catching the next bar, Azella threw off, and somersaulted in her
descent from the bar to the bed placed for her to alight upon. The grace
with which all her evolutions were performed combined, however, with the
beauty of her person and the novelty of seeing such feats performed by a
woman, to secure her an enthusiastic reception whenever she appeared.

Azella was succeeded at the Amphitheatre by Mdlle Pereira, who performed
similar feats, which she had exhibited in 1868 at Cremorne. Imitators
soon appeared at all the music-halls in the metropolis. At some of these
the long flight of Jean Price was emulated by a lady named Haynes, who
transformed herself, for professional purposes, into Madame Senyah by
the device of spelling her real name backward. A variation from Price’s
mode of performing the feat was presented by this lady, whose husband
appeared with her in a double trapeze act, and hanging from the bar by
his feet, caught her with his arms as she swung towards him on loosing
her hold of the stirrups.

The company with which the Amphitheatre was opened was succeeded, after
a long and successful career, by the Carré troupe, which introduced to
the metropolis Alfred Burgess, who unites the qualifications of a clown
with those of an accomplished equestrian and clever revolving globe
performer. Clowns would seem to be precluded, by the nature of their
business, from the cosmopolitan wanderings of other circus performers;
but the name of Burgess is almost as famous on the continent as that of
Charles Keith, who has performed in nearly every European capital,
though Albert Smith has given a picture of clowning under difficulties
which might well deter those who cannot crack a ‘wheeze’ in half a dozen
languages from venturing into lands where English is not spoken.

‘One evening,’ says the humourist, ‘I went to the Grand Circo
Olympico—an equestrian entertainment in a vast circular tent, on a piece
of open ground up in Pera; and it was as curious a sight as one could
well witness. The play-bill was in three languages—Turkish, Armenian,
and Italian; and the audience was composed almost entirely of
Levantines, nothing but fezzes being seen round the benches. There were
few females present, and of Turkish women none; but the house was well
filled, both with spectators and the smoke from the pipes which nearly
all of them carried. There was no buzz of talk, no distant hailings, no
whistlings, no sounds of impatience. They all sat as grave as judges,
and would, I believe, have done so for any period of time, whether the
performance had been given or not.

‘I have said the sight was a curious one, but my surprise was excited
beyond bounds when a real clown—a perfect Mr Merriman of the
arena—jumped into the ring, and cried out, in perfect English: “Here we
are again—all of a lump! How are you?” There was no response to his
salutation, for it was evidently incomprehensible; and so it fell flat,
and the poor clown looked as if he would have given his salary for a boy
to have called out “Hot codlins!” I looked at the bill, and found him
described as the “Grottesco Inglese,” Whittayne. I did not recognize the
name in connection with the annals of Astley’s, but he was a clever
fellow, notwithstanding; and, when he addressed the master of the ring,
and observed, “If you please, Mr Guillaume, he says, that you said, that
I said, that they said, that nobody had said, nothing to anybody,” it
was with a drollery of manner that at last agitated the fezzes, like
poppies in the wind, although the meaning of the speech was still like a
sealed book to them.

‘I don’t know whether great writers of Eastern travel would have gone to
this circus; but yet it was a strange sight. For aught that one could
tell we were about to see all the mishaps of Billy Button’s journey to
Brentford represented in their vivid discomfort upon the shores of the
Bosphorus, and within range of the sunset shadows from the minarets of
St Sophia! The company was a very fair one, and they went through the
usual programme of the amphitheatre. One clever fellow threw a bullet in
the air, and caught it in a bottle during a “rapid act;” and another
twisted himself amongst the rounds and legs of a chair, keeping a glass
full of wine in his mouth. They leaped over lengths of stair-carpet, and
through hoops, and did painful things as Olympic youths and Lion
Vaulters of Arabia.

‘The attraction of the evening, however, was a very handsome
girl—Maddalena Guillaume—with a fine Gitana face and exquisite figure.
Her performance consisted in clinging to a horse, with merely a strap
hung to its side. In this she put one foot, and flew round the ring in
the most reckless manner, leaping with the horse over poles and gates,
and hanging on, apparently, by nothing, until the fezzes were in a
quiver of delight, for her costume was not precisely that of the
Stamboul ladies—in fact, very little was left to the imagination.’

I quote this passage for the purpose of showing that the wanderings of
the men and women whose vocation it is to entertain the public as
equestrians, clowns, acrobats, and jugglers are not confined to the
limits within which actors and singers obtain foreign engagements. There
are very few men or women of eminence in the profession who have not
visited nearly every European capital, and many of them have made the
tour of the world. Price’s circus was for many years one of the most
popular institutions of Madrid, and the Circo Price was to English
circus _artistes_ what Cape Horn is to American seamen. Tell an
equestrian or an acrobat that you think you have seen him before, and he
will ask, ‘Was it at the Circo Price?’ just as a Yankee sailor will
snuffle, ‘I guess it was round the Horn.’ To have appeared at the
Hippodrome or the _Cirque Imperiale_ is a very small distinction indeed,
when so many have performed in Madrid and Naples, Berlin and St
Petersburg, and not a few have traversed the United States from New York
to San Francisco, and then crossed the ocean, and performed in Sydney
and Melbourne, or Yokohama, Hong Kong, and Calcutta.

Circus performers wander about the world more generally, and to a
greater extent, than the acrobats and jugglers who perform in
music-halls, from whom they are separated into a distinct class by the
requirements of circus engagements. All aspirants to saw-dust honours
being engaged for ‘general utility,’ it is necessary for them to
understand the whole routine of circus business, whether their specialty
is riding, vaulting, clowning, or any other branch. They are required to
take part in vaulting acts, to hold hoops, balloons, banners, &c., which
requires some practice before it can be done properly, and to line the
entrance to the ring when a lady of the company flutters into it, or
bows herself out of it. For this last duty, the proprietors of the best
appointed circuses provide uniform dresses, which are worn by all the
male members of the company, when not engaged in their performances,
from the time the circus opens until they retire to the dressing-room
for the last time. I am speaking, of course, of those who form the
permanent company of a circus, and not of those engaged, as ‘stars,’ for
six or twelve nights.

The ‘bright particular star’ of the Amphitheatre, during the season of
1870, was the young lady known as Lulu, and who was recognized by
frequenters of that popular place of entertainment as the agile and
graceful child who had appeared, a few years previously, with her
father, at the Alhambra and Cremorne, as ‘the flying Farinis,’ in a
performance somewhat resembling that of the Brothers Hanlon and the
child called ‘Little Bob.’ She was then supposed to be a boy, and much
amusement was created after her appearance at the Amphitheatre as an
avowed woman, by the recollection of her having, after descending from
the lofty arrangement of trapezes and ladders on which she performed at
the Alhambra, advanced to the footlights, and sang a song, each verse of
which ended with the words, ‘Wait till I’m a man.’ The secret of her sex
was at that time unknown even to the performers at the Alhambra, at
least to the masculine portion, among whom the circumstance of her being
accompanied by her mother, and performing the operations of the toilet
in the ladies’ dressing-room, was a frequent subject of wonder and

There was a doubt also about the sex of the child who for a long time
did a gymnastic performance at the London Pavilion, very similar to that
given by Olmar at the Alhambra. The child was announced as ‘Little
Corelli,’ and was generally supposed to be a boy; but I have since heard
that it was a girl.

The performances of Azella and Pereira had not satiated the public
appetite for the feats of female gymnasts, and the manager of the
Amphitheatre secured in Lulu a star of the first magnitude. Her triple
somersault is a feat in which she is still unrivalled; and though George
Conquest has since achieved her wonderful vertical spring of twenty-five
feet from the ring-fence, the means by which it is accomplished is still
a mystery. Lulu was succeeded by the Brothers Rizar, as they now chose
to be called, though they had gained immense applause a few years
previously at the Alhambra as the Brothers Rizareli. The double trapeze
of these clever gymnasts is perfectly unique, and must be seen to be

The Amphitheatre did not continue without a competitor for the patronage
of that portion of the public which delights in witnessing feats of
equestrianism and gymnastics. Hengler’s circus, after being located for
some time in Bristol, and afterwards in Dublin, settled down at the
Palais Royal, in Argyle Street, and introduced to the metropolis all the
Henglers and Powells, male and female, whose praises had been sounded by
the provincial press all over the kingdom. The most noteworthy members
of the company were Louise Hengler, an admirable horse-woman, who, like
Adele Newsome, rides and leaps in a ‘cross country’ fashion, over
hurdles and six-barred gates; James Lloyd, most experienced in his art,
and one of the neatest, as well as of the boldest, of riders; John
Milton Hengler, who danced on a tight-rope with a grace and skill which
fully justified the warmth of the applause with which the performance
was received; and Franks, the clown, who, before joining the Hengler
troupe, had been the chief exponent of fun and humour attached to
Newsome’s circus.

The circumstance of John M. Hengler dispensing with the balancing-pole
in his performance was mentioned by some of the newspaper critics as if
it was unique; but every frequenter of the London music-halls must have
observed the same feature in the similar performance of a member of the
clever Elliott family.

Scarcely had the lovers of circus entertainments had time to solve the
problem of the possibilities of success for two amphitheatres in London
when Astley’s was re-opened as a circus by the Sangers. Circus
performances are necessarily so much alike that it is only by the
production of a constant succession of novelties, as was done at the
Holborn establishment, or by combining hippo-dramatic spectacles with
the ring performances, as Ducrow and Batty did, that any distinctive
character can be established. The Sangers followed the example of their
predecessors, and preceded the acts in the arena by an equestrian drama
of the kind which had been found attractive in the palmy days of
Astley’s. The ring performances were good, but presented no novelty.
Lavinia Sanger deserved her tribute of applause as a skilful rider, who
gracefully leaped over banners and boldly dashed through ‘balloons;’ and
her brother’s, or cousin’s, feat of riding, or rather driving, a number
of horses at once, in emulation of Ducrow, was very creditably
performed, but who has not seen similar feats as well performed in every
circus he has entered? We should be sorry to miss them; but they should
be the ‘padding’ of the programme, and not its staple.

I have often heard the question asked, ‘What can be done upon a horse
which has not been done before?’ The question has been answered again
and again by the equestrian feats of such masters or the art of
equitation as Andrew Ducrow, Henry Adams, John Henry Cooke, Henry Welby
Cooke, George Delavanti, James Robinson, and Alfred Bradbury. It is only
by doing something which has never been done before, or by performing
some feat in a very superior style to that of previous exhibitors, that
a circus _artiste_ can emerge from the ruck, whether he is a rider, a
tumbler, a juggler, or a gymnast.

‘If you want to get your name up,’ I said, several years ago, to a young
gymnast, ‘you must do something that has not been done before, and not
be content with performing such feats as may be seen every night, in
every music-hall in London.’

‘What can we do?’ he inquired.

‘Ay, “there’s the rub!” Only a gymnastic genius can answer the question.
You may be sure that question was asked of themselves by Leotard, and
Olmar, and Farini, and all the other fellows who have made their names
famous, as the first performers of a skilful and daring feat. You know
how they answered it, and what salaries they got. As in the story of
Columbus and the egg, when a trick has once been done, there are many
who can repeat it, but it is the first performer that gets the greatest
fame and the highest salary.’

I must conclude this chapter with a brief notice of the changes and
movements of the principal travelling circuses during the last ten
years. In 1864, Franconi’s was at Nottingham for a time, with Charlie
Keith as clown and the Madlles Monfroid holding a conspicuous place
among the equestrian members of the company. Newsome’s circus was, later
in the year, at Chester, as I find by the following passage in a local
journal descriptive of a foxhunt:—‘The pace was terrific, and the
country the stiffest in Cheshire. This description would be incomplete
if I omitted to mention Miss Newsome, of the Chester Circus. This young
lady astonished the whole field by the plucky way in which she rode. She
unquestionably led the whole way, and never came to grief once.
_Straight_ was her motto, and straight she went; brook, hedge, and cop
were cleared by her in a style never seen in Cheshire before, and when
Reynard was deprived of his brush, it was most deservedly presented to
her amidst the cheers of all present.’

The movements of this circus during the following year are related, in
another chapter, by a gentleman who was at that time a member of the
company. In the spring of 1870, Messrs Sanger, whose circus is the
largest and most complete tenting establishment travelling in this
country, were threatened with a formidable rivalry by the appearance in
the field of the great American circus of Howes and Cushing. How they
met it is thus told by Mr Montague, who was then their agent in

‘It is well known that two large tenting concerns will not pay in
England. Under these circumstances, Messrs Sanger determined to drive
the Yankees off the road, which we ultimately succeeded in doing. Our
mode of fighting them was to bill all the towns taken by them as though
we were coming the following day, it being known to us that English
people will always wait for the last circus, when two or more companies
are advertised at the same time. Our next move was to take all the best
towns in the North first. We succeeded so well with this mode of
operation that we ultimately performed in the same town with them,
namely, Preston, in Lancashire. On this memorable occasion, showmen came
from all parts of England, two such concerns never having been seen in
one town on the same day. Messrs Howes and Cushing acknowledged
themselves beaten, and shortly afterwards returned to America.’

William Darby, better known as Pablo Fanque, died in the following year,
at the ripe age of seventy-five. Charles Hengler had adopted the plan so
successfully followed by Newsome, of locating his circus in permanent
buildings, maintaining several for the purpose, and remaining several
months at each place. The principal members of his company in 1873, were
Miss Jenny Louise Hengler, Miss Cottrell, John Henry Cooke, Hubert
Cooke, William Powell, Herr Oscar, the Hogini family, the Brothers
Alexander, and the clowns, Bibb and ‘Little Sandy.’ Newsome’s company
comprised, at the same time, in addition to the clever ladies of his
family, Charles and Andrew Ducrow (descendants of the great equestrian
of that name), Hubert Mears, Fredericks, and the gymnast known as Avolo.

Sanger’s is the only great circus which follows the tenting system,
which can be successfully pursued only by those who possess a numerous
stud of showy horses. A less powerful company than Hengler or Newsome
finds necessary will do, because, the performances being given only two
nights in a town, the programme does not require to be changed so
frequently as when the company perform every night for a period of three
months in the same place; and the horses may be ridden in parades by the
grooms and their wives or daughters. But the public do not believe in a
tenting circus, unless its resources are put forth in a parade, for
which purpose a large number of horses are required, with a handsome
band-carriage, an elephant, and a couple of camels. The cost of
maintaining such an establishment is so great that the system cannot be
successfully pursued without a large capital, and the most complete and
efficient organization. Without both these requisites a bad season will
ruin the proprietor, as many have found by sad experience.

                              CHAPTER XI.

Reminiscences of the Henglers—The Rope-dancing Henglers at
    Astley’s—Circus of Price and Powell—Its Acquisition by the
    Henglers—Clerical Presentation to Frowde, the Clown—Circus
    Difficulties at Liverpool—Retirement of Edward Hengler—Rivalry of
    Howes and Cushing—Discontinuance of the Tenting System—Miss Jenny
    Louise Hengler—Conversion of the Palais Royal into an
    Amphitheatre—Felix Rivolti, the Ring-master.

Conscious as I am of the imperfections of the foregoing record of circus
performances in this country, it is a relief to my mind to be enabled to
supplement the history with some further particulars concerning the
establishments so long, and with such well-deserved success, conducted
by the gentlemen who bear the renowned names of Hengler and Sanger. I am
indebted for the following memoir of the Henglers to a gentleman well
known in the equestrian profession, and who has for many years held the
important position of acting-manager in one of the best-appointed and
most admirably-conducted circuses in this country.

Mr Charles Hengler, the proprietor of the cirque in Argyle Street, may
be said to have been born to the equestrian profession, his father
having been a celebrated tight-rope dancer with Ducrow, in whose service
he remained for several years; and thus had an opportunity of teaching
his sons his own profession.

Edward Henry Hengler, the eldest, became famous in England and on the
Continent under the title of Herr Hengler, and was the most celebrated
professor of that art in his day. He died a few years since. John Milton
Hengler, a younger son, inherited the family talent, and also became
famous in America, and on the Continent. He came to England on the
retirement of his elder brother, and was considered a worthy successor.
A few years ago he retired from active service, and opened a riding
school in Liverpool, where he is still residing, highly respected and
esteemed by all who know him. Charles Hengler was, fortunately for him,
too tall to follow in the footsteps of his brothers, so his father
determined to make him the business man of the family, and his present
position is ample proof of his father’s success in so doing.

After leaving Ducrow, Hengler, with his sons, joined the circus of Price
and Powell—Powell having married one of his daughters. Here they
remained some time, Charles attending to the business department, and
his father and brothers performing in the ring. As the showman’s life
is, at the best, a very precarious one, Price and Powell got into
difficulties while performing at Greenwich, and were consequently
obliged to dispose of their concern, which was purchased by Charles and
Edward Hengler. Price went abroad, and Powell, who was an excellent
equestrian, accepted an engagement with the new proprietors, who carried
on the business for several years with varied success, sometimes making
money, and as frequently losing what they had worked so hard to obtain.
It must be remarked that in those days equestrianism was not so popular
as it has since become, and there were two men in the business who
carried all before them, namely, Ducrow and Batty; so young and
struggling beginners had a hard battle to fight, the best towns in
England being in the possession of the former. But, as usual in all such
cases, courage and perseverance, combined with honesty of purpose and
strict attention to business, ultimately met its reward; for Henglers’
circus at last made a name for itself, being the most respectably
conducted establishment of that class travelling the provinces.

During the summer months they ‘tented,’ and in the winter erected
temporary wooden buildings in populous towns, in which the second visit
was invariably more remunerative than the previous one—a sufficient
proof of the high estimation in which the company were held. This is not
to be wondered at, when it is stated that several performers, who were
then with Mr Hengler, are yet on his establishment; notably, Mr James
Franks, one of the best clowns in his line of business of this or any
other day. Also Mr Bridges, Mr Powell, and a few others. Of course, with
the exception of Mr Powell, they were very young men when they first
joined him. There was also another very clever clown on the
establishment, of whom I must say a few words. This was James Frowde, a
nephew of the proprietors. This gentleman, who several years since
retired from the equestrian profession, was an immense favourite with
all classes. His appearance in the ring was invariably greeted with
acclamations, and in private life his company was sought by many of the
most respectable members of the community. To give some idea of the
popularity of this gentleman, I may state that while the company were
located in Chester in 1856, several clergymen presented him with a very
valuable Bible. This was made the subject of an eulogistic paragraph in
_Punch_, in which the recipient and the donors were equally
complimented—the one for deserving such a testimonial, the others for
their liberal appreciation of his conduct as clown, Christian, and
gentleman. It would be well if more of our divines followed so excellent
an example; not necessarily by presenting Bibles, for the poor player
not only possesses the book, but in most instances acts up to its

It was while residing in Chester that Mr Hengler obtained the patronage
of the Marquis of Westminster; of course on previous occasions he had
been patronized by many distinguished personages, and this particular
instance is mentioned only because it was the source of Mr Hengler’s
gaining a footing in Liverpool. I may here be allowed to quote a short
paragraph which appeared in the _Chester Observer_:—

‘HENGLER’S CIRQUE.—The patronage and presence of the Mayor at this
admirably-conducted place of entertainment on Tuesday last filled the
building to overflowing.... Last night the performances were under the
patronage of Earl Grosvenor, M. P. In the morning the Marquis of
Westminster honoured the establishment with his patronage and presence,
the noble lord kindly and duly appreciating the just claim that Mr
Hengler has on the public as regards talent, attraction, and propriety,
and so, with his usual discretion and sound judgment, took this
opportunity to signify to Mr Henry, the manager, his conscientious
approval of Mr Hengler’s admirably-conducted establishment.’ Mr Hengler
also received a letter from the Marquis conveying a similar opinion.

For several years it had been the desire of Mr Hengler and other
equestrian managers to obtain permission from the authorities of
Liverpool to erect a temporary circus in that town. Applications were
frequently made, and as frequently refused. The invariable answer was,
‘If you wish to perform in this town, you must make an arrangement with
Mr Copeland; he has the Amphitheatre, and we cannot allow any one to
oppose him.’ Now although the Amphitheatre, as its name imports, had
been originally built for equestrian performances, they had with one or
two exceptions, and these in its earliest days, proved failures. Of
course no manager possessing the knowledge of Mr Hengler would risk
going there, especially as the best arrangement it was possible to make
with the then proprietor was something like ‘Heads I win, tails you
lose.’ I think I am not far wrong in stating that Mr Hengler had made
seven or eight applications; and invariably received a similar reply,
‘You can’t be allowed to build here. The Amphitheatre is open to you; go
there, or go away.’ Armed with the Marquis of Westminster’s letter, and
several other valuable testimonials, Mr Hengler determined to make one
more trial; with what success I shall presently show.

A piece of ground, the property of the corporation, was vacant in Dale
Street, and was a capital site for the erection of a temporary circus.

Mr Hengler, and his architect, Mr O’Hara, went to Liverpool, and
obtained an interview with the then Mayor, a celebrated builder and a
liberal-minded gentleman.

The testimonials were shown and a promise was made, that, at the next
meeting of the Council, Mr Hengler’s request should be brought forward,
and that the Mayor would assist him by using his influence. With this Mr
Hengler was compelled to be satisfied.

From Chester, Mr Hengler went to Bradford, on which occasion the
following paragraph appeared in the _Leeds Mercury_, of January 10,

‘Mr Hengler’s Establishment receives, as it deserves, the patronage of
immense audiences. The performances are so unique and varied, that they
cannot fail to please; while it is gratifying to perceive the strict
care that is taken to prevent anything that could offend the most
fastidious. The generality of such entertainments are more or less loose
in their morality; but the able and correct manner in which these
performances are conducted is testified by the fact, that they have met
with the approbation of the local clergy. The Rev. Vicar patronizes the
performance on Monday next. And on that occasion Mr Hengler affords free
admission to the day-schools connected with the Church of England.’
This, of course, was of great value to Mr Hengler; and the authorities
at Liverpool were duly apprised of it; and, in a few days, the welcome
intelligence was conveyed to Mr Hengler that his request had been
complied with, and Mr O’Hara was started off to make arrangements for
the erection of the circus. This he soon succeeded in doing, Messrs
Holmes and Nicol, the eminent builders, undertaking its erection.

This circus was opened by Mr Hengler on March the 15th, 1857. To give
some idea of its style and appointments, I cannot do better than quote
the following description from the _Liverpool Daily Mail_ of March 20th,

‘HENGLER’S CIRQUE VARIETIES.—During the present week Mr Charles Hengler
has opened, in Dale Street, a handsome, commodious, and spacious
theatre, devoted to equestrian performances, which has been constructed
by Messrs Holmes and Nicol of this town, on the model of Franconi’s
famous Cirque, in the Champs Elysees, Paris. The building, though of a
temporary character, is most admirably suited for the purpose for which
it is designed; and while accommodating an immense number of spectators,
who can all easily witness the performances, the ventilation is perfect,
and with an entire absence of draughts. There is nothing to offend the
senses of smell or sight. The audience is placed in compartments round
the circle; the frequenters of the boxes being seated on cushioned
chairs, with a carpeted flooring under their feet. The compartments
entitled pit and gallery are also very comfortable, while round the
whole building runs a spacious promenade. The ceiling is covered with
coloured folds of chintz, which give a brilliant and cleanly appearance;
and the pillars supporting the roof are neatly papered, and ornamented
with flags and shields. The whole aspect is, in fact, what has long been
a desideratum in this country, and we regret it will have to be pulled
down again in a few months.

‘With respect to the performances, we can only speak most highly; they
are decidedly the best we have witnessed here since the appearance of
the French Company.

‘The horses are beautiful and well trained, the grooms smart and natty,
and the dresses of all connected with the establishment new and
tasteful. We have not space to mention a tithe of the performances,
which present many novelties, and display the varied talent of the
company to great advantage; the gentlemen being all daring and skilful,
and the ladies, equally clever, yet modest and charming. In fact, we can
strongly recommend our readers to pay a visit to Mr Hengler’s circus;
for, as we were surprised and delighted ourselves, we feel assured that
no one can regret patronizing an entertainment so harmless, pleasing,
and exciting.’

In one respect, the writer of the above paragraph made a mistake, for,
although the circus was originally intended to be a temporary building,
the success was so great that it remained standing for five years, Mr
Hengler visiting Liverpool for four months each winter. At this time the
company comprised William Powell, Anthony and John Bridges, the Brothers
Francisco, the clowns Frowde, Hogini, and Bibb, Ferdinand and Eugene,
Madame Bridges, Miss Adrian, etc. The performing horses were introduced
by Mr Hengler. Previous to Mr Hengler visiting Liverpool, the
partnership terminated between him and his brother Edward, the latter
having realized sufficient to retire from the profession.

The ground in Dale Street being wanted by the corporation for building
purposes, Mr Hengler obtained a site for the erection of a building in
Newington, and a lease of the ground for seven years. He here built a
very fine and capacious cirque, the builders who erected the one in Dale
Street undertaking the contract. It was to be a brick building; and they
were under heavy penalties to get it completed by a certain time.
Unfortunately for them, they had no sooner commenced, than a strike took
place amongst the brick-makers; and the builders had to appeal to Mr
Hengler, who allowed them to erect a wooden structure, they agreeing to
erect, at the expiration of the strike, brick walls around it, which was

Here Mr Hengler remained for seven years, the term of his lease. The
ground was then required for a new railway, and he had to leave
Liverpool, not being able to find a site adapted to his purpose. While
Mr Hengler remained here, several other circuses attempted to oppose
him, the authorities, who had remained inflexible for so many years,
granting indiscriminate permission to whoever applied to them. All of
them failed, and soon left the town. A notable example occurred in one
especial case.

Howes and Cushing, the American equestrian managers, chartered a vessel,
and landed at Liverpool with the largest company and stud that had ever
visited these shores. They obtained the best position in Liverpool for
the erection of their tent: and this, only after Mr Hengler had been
open in Dale Street about one month. They inundated the town with their
large pictorial posters, paid fabulous sums for fronts and sides of
houses on which to have them affixed. Liverpool really went Howes and
Cushing mad. The American colours were flying from every house in which
any of the company lodged. Columns of advertisements were in all the
Liverpool newspapers; and the day upon which they advertised to parade
the town every house in the line of procession was closed. The streets
were crowded; all Liverpool seemed to have congregated on the line of
route. Special trains came from the surrounding districts.

The procession was certainly a noble one. A huge car, in which the band
was seated, was drawn by forty horses, driven in hand. The whole of the
company, a very extensive one, was placed in the other cars, which were
elaborately carved and gilt. The pageant terminated with a procession of
Indians, and a huge musical instrument which was played by steam power.
And what was the result? The morning after their first performance the
papers were unanimous in saying Mr Hengler’s entertainment was far
superior. One of them stated that ‘the greatest circus in America has
met more than its match in Liverpool.’ They remained but two weeks; the
business falling off very considerably, while Mr Hengler’s increased

After a few very successful seasons in Liverpool Mr Hengler discontinued
the tenting business in the summer months,—never to him a very congenial
occupation, and erected large buildings in several important towns,
notably, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, and Hull. Those in Glasgow and Hull
are still in existence; and, when not occupied by the proprietor, are
let for concerts, and entertainments of a similar character.

In 1865 Mr Hengler was offered an engagement at Cremorne Gardens, where
there was a very fine building, originally erected for equestrian
purposes, but used latterly for exhibiting a Stereorama, which proved a
great failure, although the paintings were by those eminent artists,
Grieve and Telbin. For several years Mr Hengler had been desirous of
performing before a London audience, and thought this a good opportunity
of feeling the pulse of the metropolitan public. He therefore came to
terms with the then proprietor, Mr E. T. Smith; but, even in those days,
Cremorne was in its decadence, and the engagement was neither pleasant
to Mr Hengler nor his company. With the exception of one or two
miserable attempts, circus performers bade a final adieu to a place
which has lately gained such unenviable notoriety. After leaving
Cremorne Mr Hengler went to Hull, where he had a most successful season.

It may be a matter of surprise to many people that Mr Hengler never
brought any of his family (a very numerous one) up to the equestrian
business, with the exception of his daughter, Miss Jenny Louise. He was
always desirous that they should receive a good education. Now it would
be almost an impossibility to combine the two things, for, at the very
time children should be studying their lessons in school, they would be
compelled to be practising in the ring, and performing at night, as
Infant Prodigies, Lightning Lilliputians, or Bounding Brothers. Then how
about Miss Jenny Louise? it maybe asked. That young lady did not
commence riding before the public until she was eighteen years of age;
but she had such an intense desire to become an _equestrienne_, that she
learned, under her father’s tuition, more in one year, than many others
would have learned in a lifetime. She was naturally graceful, very
feminine, and she possessed the necessary nerve and firmness. She was
always most deservedly an immense favourite with the public, her skilful
horsemanship and charmingly graceful appearance never failing to secure
her hosts of admirers of both sexes.

I now come to Mr Hengler’s second appearance in London, which had such a
different result to the previous one, as will be shown in the sequel. In
1871, a gutta percha merchant, who had made several ventures in the
equestrian business, obtained possession of the Palais Royal in Argyle
Street, the site of the present cirque, and wished Mr Hengler to join
him. Mr Hengler took time to consider the proposal, which after due
consideration he declined, the previous experiments of the gutta percha
merchant in the equestrian business having invariably proved so
unsuccessful that his shows became known amongst equestrians as the
Gutta Percha Circus, an appropriate title, they having in most instances
so suddenly collapsed.

After some difficulty, Mr Hengler succeeded in obtaining possession of
the Palais Royal, as it was then called, and speedily converted it into
the elegant theatre, so admirably adapted for its present purposes,
which was opened in the autumn of 1871. His first season was not a
profitable one, in a pecuniary sense; and this, in a great measure, is
to be accounted for by the fact, that circus entertainments in London
had become very unpopular. In the first place, the circus in Holborn had
been badly managed, the proprietors not understanding the business. In
this year it was again opened by one of the former proprietors, and the
season not having proved profitable, the place was soon closed.

In 1872 it was opened under the auspices of the gutta percha merchant,
though his name did not appear publicly in the matter. Astley’s also
opened under the management of the Brothers Sanger, gentlemen of great
experience in the profession, and who, as a matter of course, were
formidable rivals. There were now ‘three Richmonds in the field,’ and,
as Mr Hengler, although popular in the provinces, was not known to any
great extent in London, he had to bide his time, until the superiority
of his entertainments became known and appreciated. At any rate he had
sown the seed; the harvest was to be gathered hereafter. All who visited
the place were delighted with the high character of the entertainments.
Everything was neat and elegant; the horses were considered, by good
judges, to be far superior to those usually exhibited in places of this
description. Miss Jenny Louise Hengler had already become a great
favourite with lovers of high-class riding.

At Christmas, _Cinderella_, with a host of juveniles, was for the first
time produced in a London Cirque. Everybody who witnessed it left the
place delighted; and it became the talk of London. The mid-day
performances were invariably well attended, and by the best families in
London and its suburbs; but Mr Hengler’s expenses were very great, and
the receipts, though good, were not commensurate with his outlay and
risk. He remained in London until the beginning of May, and then went
into the provinces, where he met with his usual success.

In November, 1872, he again opened the Cirque in Argyle Street, to which
he brought a very clever company, the principal features being Miss
Jenny Louise Hengler, ‘Little Sandy,’ who made his first appearance in
London, and the performing horses. This season, the Prince and Princess
of Wales and family honoured the Cirque with a visit, and expressed
themselves highly delighted with the entertainment. Mr Joe Bibb, another
very clever grotesque and clown, appeared during this season, and soon
became popular. Mr H. B. Williams, a lyrical jester, was also a
favourite. Mr Charles Fish, an American rider, made his first appearance
in England, and created a sensation.

At Christmas, _Jack the Giant Killer_ was produced, with an army of
forty juveniles, whose evolutions were highly commended. This season was
a very profitable one, although the circus in Holborn and Astley’s were
open at the same time. Mr Hengler remained until the beginning of March,
when he left for Dublin.

After visiting several towns, he returned to London in November, 1873.
This was a very successful season—several new engagements having been
effected, notably Mr William Bell, one of the best, if not the very
best, equestrians in the profession, and Mr Lloyd, another extraordinary
rider. Little Sandy now became, if possible, more popular than before;
and the portrait of Miss Jenny Louise Hengler was in all the
photographers’ windows, and in everybody’s album.

Mr Felix Rivolti, the genial ring-master who had been with Mr Hengler,
with the exception of a few months, about eighteen years, was still in
great force. This gentleman had the happy knack of pleasing all
audiences, as one half invariably laughed with him, the other half as
certainly laughed at him. Very good judges considered him the best
ring-master since the celebrated Widdicomb delighted his audiences at

Observe with what a self-sufficient smirk Rivolti enters the arena,
gracefully handing in the young lady; see how he places her on her
horse, and then looks round the house, as much as to say, ‘In one minute
you will be delighted to see what I can make her do.’ He cracks his
whip, the horse starts into a canter, the young lady leaps from his
back, over garlands, through hoops, etc., etc., when the horse stops,
and while the audience are applauding, how happy Rivolti appears! He
looks around as much as to say to the audience, ‘I told you I could do
it. But wait a minute. You see this clown; now I am going to make him do
all manner of funny things.’ Then ‘Little Sandy’ performs some of his
quaint tricks as only ‘Little Sandy’ can, and while the audience are
laughing and applauding, with what complacency Rivolti looks at them,
every feature in his face beaming with gratification. His many admirers
will be sorry to hear that he has for the present left the profession,
to which, however, he will probably soon return.

Mr John Henry Cooke returned from America this year, and again joined Mr
Hengler’s Company. _Cinderella_ was reproduced for the Christmas
holidays, and with greater splendour than on the previous occasion.
Large audiences visited the circus, and the season proved a very
profitable one. The Prince and Princess of Wales and family again
visited the cirque. From London Mr Hengler and his company went to
Dublin, and from thence to Hull and Glasgow, returning to London to open
for the fourth season in December 1874. The company was of the usual
excellence, including a new importation from America, Mr Wooda Cook, a
very clever equestrian; ‘Little Sandy,’ and Mr Barry, a very pleasing
lyrical jester, a great favourite in America, where he has been located
several years. The other performers are all excellent. The great feature
for the Christmas holidays was a new pantomime, entitled _Little Red
Riding Hood_, performed (with the exception of ‘Little Sandy,’ who
enacts the Wicked Wolf) entirely by children, original music being
composed by Messieurs Rivière and Stanislaus. The idea of this piece is
entirely original, nothing of a similar description having been produced
in the arena. The cirque is crowded at every representation, and the
present promises to be a greater success than either of Mr Hengler’s
previous seasons in Argyle Street.

                              CHAPTER XII.

The Brothers Sanger—First Appearance in London—Vicissitudes of
    Astley’s—Batty and Cooke—Purchase of the Theatre by the Brothers
    Sanger—Their Travelling Circus—The Tenting System—Barnum and the

An impenetrable mist hangs over the early history of the industrious and
enterprising gentlemen who now own the ‘home of the equestrian drama’ in
the Westminster Road. The names of Hengler, and Cooke, and Adams have
been, to our fathers and grandfathers, as well as to the present
generation, ‘familiar in their mouths as household words;’ but circus
records, and even circus traditions, are silent concerning the
progenitors of John and George Sanger. There is a whisper floating about
circus dressing-rooms that the latter gentleman might have been seen,
many years ago, doing a conjuring trick on the narrow ‘parade’ of a
little show at fairs; but the Brothers Sanger are most reticent
concerning their antecedents, and all that can be said of them with
certainty is that they were travelling with a well-appointed circus, and
a numerous company and stud, many years before they became known as
public entertainers in the metropolis.

They first became known to a London audience by their successful series
of performances at the Agricultural Hall, which place of amusement they
occupied for several seasons.

During their tenancy they produced several equestrian spectacles, all
mounted in a costly and elaborate manner. The first was entitled ‘The
Congress of Monarchs,’ and, nothing of a similar character having been
previously produced in London, it attracted an immense concourse of
persons to the Hall. To give some idea of the vast number who attended,
I am enabled to state, on authority, that on several occasions upwards
of 37,000 persons witnessed the performances in one day.

Their last season in this place was in 1872, in which year they also
acquired possession of Astley’s, which had, since the earlier days of
Batty, gradually sunk to the lowest grade in the estimation of the
pleasure-seeking portion of the public, all Batty’s successors, with the
exception of William Cooke, having signally failed. Upon the termination
of Cooke’s lease, Batty wished to raise the rental, or sell the
property, and as Cooke declined paying more than he had hitherto done,
he retired from Astley’s and the profession, and Batty, not finding a
purchaser or a suitable tenant, after keeping the place closed for some
time, opened it himself, having Hughes, a once celebrated equestrian
proprietor, as acting manager, and William West as stage director. The
military spectacle with which the theatre was re-opened, entitled _The
Story of a Flag_, was a failure; and after lingering for a few months
the theatre was closed.

Mr E. T. Smith then obtained possession on very advantageous terms, and
in a short time was fortunate enough to find a tenant in Mr Nation, who
paid £5000 for the unexpired term of the lease. This not proving a
profitable investment, the theatre was again in the market, when Mr
Boucicault, with the same view of ‘regenerating the National Drama,’
which he subsequently essayed at Covent Garden with _Babil and Bijou_,
obtained a lease, made great alterations, and renamed the building the
Royal Westminster Theatre, advertising it as ‘the nearest theatre to the
West End, through the parks, which extend to the foot of Westminster
Bridge, close to which the theatre is situate.’ The inhabitants of
Lambeth laughed, and the dwellers in Belgravia wondered; but the Royal
Westminster was not frequented by the play-goers of either quarter, and
after an unsuccessful season the theatre was again closed.

Mr Batty again trying to dispose of the property, but without effect, it
remained closed for a considerable period, until the present proprietors
obtained possession of it, and opened it for the Christmas holidays. The
experiment of keeping both Astley’s and the Agricultural Hall open at
the same time did not, however, answer their expectations, and they
ultimately concentrated their forces at Astley’s, having purchased the
property upon extremely advantageous terms.

They expended a large sum of money in having the interior almost
entirely remodelled, the well-known theatrical architect, Mr Robinson,
being employed for the purpose. Under the present arrangement the
building is adapted for the accommodation of nearly 4000 persons. During
the winter season the Brothers Sanger remain in London; the other
portion of the year is passed in visiting the principal provincial
towns, where the extent and splendour of their parade invariably
attracts large audiences. The performances are given, sometimes in a
huge tent, and sometimes in the open air, in a large field near the
town. Their stay in one place is usually from one to four days,
according to the population. Their expenses are necessarily very heavy,
and their takings, as a rule, enormous.

It may be interesting to some persons to know how an affair of this
description is managed. The proprietors themselves are most industrious
and indefatigable, and they have in their service, as acting manager, a
very clever and experienced gentleman named Twigg, late lieutenant in
one of Her Majesty’s regiments. Mr Twigg engages several persons, whose
duty it is to make arrangements in advance for the numerous company and
stud. They hire ground suitable for the purpose, and engage
bill-posters, who placard the town with large and brilliantly-coloured
pictorial representations of the performances, and distribute printed
bills, containing the names of the performers, also giving a description
of the procession, and the route it will take in parading the town.
These are distributed in all the villages within a radius of fifteen
miles. Lengthened advertisements are also inserted in all the local
newspapers, and thus the public curiosity is excited, and it is no
uncommon thing for a general holiday to be held upon the day of their
grand procession through the town.

Previous to the company arriving, the tent-men, with the
baggage-waggons, proceed to the field, erect the tent, make the ring,
and prepare for the various performances,—fixing the hurdles, gates,
etc. When the company arrives everything is prepared. The horses are
stabled, groomed, and fed; the ‘Tableaux Carriages’ (as they are termed)
are washed, and everything made ready for the grand parade, which
usually starts from the tent about an hour and a half previous to the
first performance. After the parade the show commences—the first one
occupying about two hours. After this is over the performers dine and
rest until the evening—the second performance commencing about seven,
and terminating about ten o’clock.

Immediately after the last act, the whole of the company are advised at
what hour they will be required to start in the morning for the next
place; this, of course, depends in a great measure upon the length of
the journey and the state of the roads; the usual time for starting is
about five o’clock, and they travel at the rate of five or six miles an
hour. The tent and baggage men leave earlier. Many of the principal
members of the company have their own ‘living carriages,’ which are
fitted up with every convenience, and a very jolly and healthy life the
occupants lead. Two performances are invariably given each day,
consisting of the usual equestrian and gymnastic feats, horse and pony
racing, hurdle-leaping, and Roman chariot races.

The stud of the Brothers Sanger comprises upwards of 200 horses, the
greater number of which are used for drawing their show-cars, conveying
the performers and paraphernalia, etc. The trained animals used in their
entertainments are very numerous, however, and they have also no fewer
than 11 elephants. The company is, necessarily, a very numerous one,
consisting of male and female performers, band, grooms, stable-helpers,
tent-men, etc.; seldom less than 200 persons altogether. It would
surprise most people to see how easily all the arrangements are carried
out; when once started on its tour the whole affair moves on like
clock-work. The advent of the circus in each town at the time announced
may be regarded as an absolute certainty, so complete is the
organization in every respect.

This immense establishment has grown to its present gigantic dimensions
from very small beginnings, the Brothers Sanger being proud to
acknowledge that they commenced their career at the lowest rung of the

In addition to his share in Astley’s Amphitheatre, Mr John Sanger is
also proprietor of the ‘Hall by the Sea’ at Margate, which is managed by
his son-in-law, Mr Reeves, and is highly popular as a place of
recreation with the thousands of persons who visit that salubrious
watering-place during the summer.

The fame of the Brothers Sanger having reached the United States, Mr P.
T. Barnum, the world-renowned American showman, came to England in 1873
expressly to purchase from them the whole of the dresses and material
used in the grand spectacle of ‘The Congress of Monarchs’ (produced by
them, as before stated, at the Agricultural Hall), at a cost (as
advertised) of £30,000. This has been an immense attraction in New York,
and has added considerably to the fortunes of the ‘prince of showmen,’
as Barnum calls himself.

The Christmas entertainment of the present season has been, as everybody
knows, a pantomime entitled—_Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, and the
Forty Thieves, and the Flying Horses of Lambeth_—a strange and rather
peculiar conglomeration of titles. It has been produced and placed on
the stage regardless of cost, the scenic effects being very beautiful,
the costumes magnificent and elaborate, and one scene, in which all the
company appear, forming a brilliant combination of colour, certainly
deserving of the highest praise, and reflecting the greatest credit upon
all concerned.

The eleven elephants are here introduced, the ‘white’ one especially
attracting much attention, and Mr George Sanger’s address previous to
its introduction being not the least amusing part of the performance.
These elephants play a very conspicuous part in the tableaux, and the
general effect far surpasses anything of a similar description ever
produced by the Brothers Sanger, who certainly deserve the fame and
fortune which their industry and enterprise have acquired for them.

Until within the last few years it was supposed that the circus-loving
portion of the metropolitan population was not numerous enough to
support more than one equestrian establishment; but the contrary may now
be regarded as proven, and, though it may still be doubted whether
London would support as many circuses as the much less populous city of
Paris, we trust to see the company and stud of Mr Hengler at his most
comfortable _cirque_ in Argyle Street, and those of the Brothers Sanger
at Astley’s, for many years to come, and to be assured that with each
recurring season the proprietors of both establishments are augmenting
the fame and fortune which they have so deservedly won.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

American Circuses—American Performers in England, and English Performers
    in the United States—The Cookes in America—Barnum’s great
    Show—Yankee Parades—Van Amburgh’s Circus and Menagerie—Robinson’s
    combined Shows—Stone and Murray’s Circus—The Forepaughs—Joel
    Warner—Side Shows—Amphitheatres of New York and New Orleans.

The circus in America is a highly popular entertainment, and is
organized upon a very extensive scale, as everything is there, like the
country itself, with its illimitable prairies, rivers thousands of miles
long, and lakes like inland seas. Americans have a boundless admiration
of everything big; they seem to revel even in ‘big’ bankruptcies and
‘big’ fires, such as that which desolated Chicago a few years ago.
Circus proprietors bring their establishments before the public, not by
vaunting the talent of the company, or the beauty and sagacity of the
horses, but by announcing the thousands of square feet which the circus
covers, the thousands of dollars to which their daily or weekly expenses
amount, and the number of miles to which their parades extend. ‘This is
a big concern,’ say those who read the announcement, and their patronage
is proportionate to its extent and cost.

The American circuses are all conducted on the tenting system, and, as
there are few towns in the Union which could support one only of the
many colossal establishments which travel during the summer, most of
them are idle during the winter; many of them are combined with a
menagerie, in which cases one charge admits to both. Except in the
matter of size, they do not differ materially from tenting circuses in
this country; but the tents are larger, the parades longer, and the
rifle-targets, the Aunt Sallies, and the acrobats in dirty tights who
follow Sanger, and the Ginnetts, and Quaglieni, and other tenting
circuses in England, are replaced by small shows, such as attend fairs
in this country, and in which giants, dwarfs, albinoes, and
monstrosities of various kinds are exhibited.

The interchange of circus performers between England and the United
States, which has existed almost as long as circuses, has made us better
acquainted in this country with the kind and quality of the performances
to be witnessed in American circuses than with the manner in which they
are conducted. Stickney and North were known and appreciated at Astley’s
by the last generation, and the present has seen and admired, at the
Holborn Amphitheatre, those inimitable gymnasts, the Brothers Hanlon,
the incomparable vaulter, Kelly, and some others. Wallett, the Cookes,
and many others, besides French, German, and Italian performers who have
appeared in English circuses and music-halls, have found their way to
America, and proved as attractive there as here. Four years ago, the
Cooke family was represented in the United States by Emily Henrietta
Cooke, John Henry Cooke, and George Cooke, prominent members of Stone
and Murray’s company, and James E. Cooke with French’s circus.

The largest circus now travelling is Barnum’s, forming a portion of the
great combination advertised as the ‘Great Travelling World’s Fair.’
Barnum has long been famous in both hemispheres as the greatest showman
in the world. He is certainly a man of remarkable enterprise and energy.
He is quick in arriving at conclusions, and when he has resolved upon
any undertaking, he exercises all his energy, and brings into force all
the results of his long and varied experience, in carrying it into

Coup, a gentleman well known among public entertainers across the
Atlantic, said to Barnum one day, ‘What do you say to putting a big show
on the road?’

‘How much will it cost?’ inquired Barnum, after a moment’s reflection.

‘Two hundred thousand dollars,’ was the reply.

‘I’ll let you know to-morrow,’ said Barnum.

On the following day, he told Coup that ‘Barnum’s great show’ was a
fact, and that he (Coup) was to be its manager, as he is to this day.
The establishment then formed was, however, far from being the mammoth
concern with which the great showman took the field in 1873.
Notwithstanding the great loss which he sustained by the burning of the
museum which so long attracted attention in the Broadway, New York, at
the close of the preceding year, he came before the public a few months
afterwards with a circus, a menagerie, a museum, a gallery of pictures
and statuary, and a show of mechanical wonders and curiosities, all
combined in one, and to which the public were admitted for a single
payment of half-a-dollar.

The address to the public with which this colossal combination of
entertainments was inaugurated is so unique and characteristic that I
need make no apology for inserting it entire.


‘My career for forty years as a public Manager of amusements, blended
with instruction, is well known. You have all heard of my three New York
Museums; my great triumphal tour with Jenny Lind, the Swedish
Nightingale, and my immense travelling exhibitions. Everybody concedes
that I give ten times the money’s worth, and always delight my patrons.
I now come before you with the LAST GRAND CROWNING TRIUMPH OF MY

‘Notwithstanding the burning of my last Museum, in December (which,
however, did not destroy any of my great travelling chariots, vans,
cages, or horses, nor duplicates of most of my living wild animals,
which were then on exhibition in New Orleans), I have been enabled,
through the aid of cable dispatches, electricity and steam, and the
expenditure of nearly a million of dollars, to place upon the road by
far the largest and most interesting combination of MUSEUM, MENAGERIE,
and HIPPODROME ever known before—a veritable WORLD’S FAIR.

‘No description will convey an adequate idea of its vastness, its
beauty, and its marvellous collection of wonders. It travels by rail,
and requires more than one hundred cars, besides FIFTY OF MY OWN, made
expressly for this purpose, and five or six locomotives to transport it.
My daily expenses exceed $5,000. We can only stop in large towns, and
leave it to those residing elsewhere to reach us by cheap excursion
trains, which they can easily get up.

‘Among some of my novelties is a FREE FULL MENAGERIE OF WILD ANIMALS,
including all, and more than are usually seen in a travelling menagerie,
which I now open to be seen by everybody, WITHOUT ANY CHARGE WHATEVER.
Although I have consolidated more than twenty shows in one, containing
nearly one hundred gorgeously magnificent gold and enamelled cages, dens
and vans, requiring the services of nearly 1,000 men and over 500
horses, the price of admission to the entire combination of exhibition
is only the same as is charged to a common show, viz. 50 cents; children
half price. My great Hippodrome Tent comfortably seats 14,000 persons at
one time, while my numerous other tents cover several acres of ground.

‘The Museum Department contains 100,000 curiosities, including Professor
Faber’s wonderful TALKING MACHINE, costing me $20,000 for its use six
months. Also, a National Portrait Gallery of 100 life-size Oil
Paintings, including all the Presidents of the United States, our
Statesmen and Military Heroes, as well as foreign Potentates and
Celebrities, and the entire Collection of the celebrated John Rogers’
groups of Historical and Classic Statuary. Also, an almost endless
variety of Curiosities, including numberless Automaton Musicians and
Mechanicians, and Moving Scenes, Transformation Landscapes, Sailing
Ships, Running Water-mills, Railroad Trains, etc., made in Paris and
Geneva, more beautiful and marvellous than can be imagined, and all kept
in motion by a Steam Engine. Here, also, are Giants, Dwarfs, Fiji
Cannibals, Modoc and Digger Indians, Circassian Girls, the No-armed Boy,

‘Among the rare wild animals are MONSTER SEA LIONS, transported in great
water-tanks; the largest RHINOCEROS ever captured alive, and 1,500 Wild
Beasts and Rare Birds, Lions, Elephants, Elands, Gnus, Tigers, Polar
Bears, Ostriches, and every description of wild animal hitherto
exhibited, besides many never before seen on this Continent.

‘In the Hippodrome Department are THREE DISTINCT RINGS, wherein three
sets of rival performances are taking place at the same time, in full
view of all the audience. Here will be seen Performing Elephants,
Horse-riding Goats, Educated Horses, Elk and Deer in Harness, Ponies,
Trick Mules, and Bears, and three distinct Equestrian Companies (with
six clowns), including by far the best Male and Female Bare-back Riders
in the World, with numerous Athletes and Gymnasts who have no equal.
Everything is perfectly chaste and unobjectionable. Its like will never
be known.

‘THE GREAT STREET-PROCESSION, three miles long, takes place every
morning at half-past eight o’clock. It is worth going 100 miles to see.
It consists of trains of Elephants, Camels, Dromedaries, Zebras, and
Elks in harness; nearly 100 Gold Enamelled and Cerulean Chariots, Vans,
Dens, and Cages; Arabian Horses, Trick Ponies, three Bands of Music, and
a most marvellous display of Gymnastic, Automatic, and Musical
performances in the public streets.

‘THREE FULL EXHIBITIONS will be given each day at ten, one, and seven
o’clock. No one should miss the early Procession.

‘The Public’s Obedient Servant,

                                                     ‘P. T. BARNUM.’

The circus department of this unrivalled combination show is managed by
Dan Castello, who is described in the bills as ‘a gentleman of rare
accomplishments as a jester and conversationalist, whose varied and ripe
experience in Continental Europe, and North and South America, render
his services of great value.’ The company comprised Celeste Pauliere,
the dashing bare-back rider of the Cirque Français; D’Atalie, ‘the man
with the iron jaw,’ who appeared a year or two ago at some of the London
music-halls; the Sisters Marion, who then appeared in America for the
first time; Frank Barry, Vinnie Cook, Montenard and Aymar, Madame Aymar,
Marie Girardeau, and Carlotta Davioli: and among performers less known
on this side of the Atlantic, Lucille Watson, Angela (‘the female
Samson’), Sebastian and Romeo, the Mathews family, Lazelle and Millison,
the Bliss family, Bushnell, Nathan, Nichols, Lee, and Hopper.

The grand parade is a thing to be seen once in a life, and talked of
ever afterwards. Here I must let the Prince of Showmen, as Barnum has
been called, speak for himself; no other’s pen could do justice to the
theme. ‘The grand street pageant,’ says one of his bills, ‘which heralds
the advent into each town of the longest and grandest spectacular
demonstration ever witnessed, is nearly three miles in length. Prominent
among the grand and attractive features of the innumerable caravan, are
the twelve golden chariots, eight statuary and four tableau, including
the gorgeous moving Temple of Juno, 30 feet high, built in London at a
cost of $20,000, the musical Chariot of Mnemosyne, the revolving Temple
of the Muses, the great steam Calliope, three bands of music, and one
hundred resplendent cages and vans.

‘These magnificently gilded Palaces and Dens, plated and elaborated by
the most cunning artisans, after vivid designs and gorgeous
impersonations from the Dreams of Hesiod, are drawn in the Great
Procession by trained Elephants, Camels, Dromedaries, Arabian
Thoroughbreds, Liliputian Ponies, herds of Elk and Reindeer in harness,
and a gorgeously caparisoned retinue of dapple Steeds and Shetland
Palfreys. They are of such rich and varied attractions as to excite the

‘The Great Procession will be interspersed with grotesque figures, such
as automaton gymnasts,rich mechanical trapezists, globe and ball
jugglers, comic clowns, and athletic sports, performing on the tops of
the cages and chariots, in open streets, all the difficult feats of the
celebrated living gymnasts. The different brass bands, musical chariots,
Polyhymnian organs, steam pianos, and Calliopes, &c., are equivalent to
one hundred skilful musicians. Persons anxious to see the procession
should come early, as three performances a day are given to accommodate
the multitudes, viz., at 10 a.m., also at one and seven o’clock in the
afternoon and evening. Prof. Fritz Hartman’s silver cornet band, Herr
Hessler’s celebrated brass and string bands, Mons. Joseph Mesmer’s
French cornet band, and the great orchestra Polyhymnia, will enliven the
community with their choicest rhapsodies, in alternate succession, while
passing through the streets.’

The bill concludes with the following announcement, eminently
characteristic of the people, and of Barnum in particular:—‘Tickets will
be carefully but rapidly dispensed, not only by BEN LUSBIE, Esq., the
“Lightning Ticket Seller,” whose achievement of disposing of tickets at
the rate of 6,000 per hour is one of the sensational features of the
great free show, but from several ticket waggons, and also from the
elegant carriage of Mr Barnum’s Book Agent, who furnishes Tickets FREE
to all buyers of the Life of P. T. Barnum, written by himself, reduced
from $3.50 to $1.50.’

Circuses on such a scale as this, and many similar concerns now
travelling in the United States, can only be conducted successfully by
those who combine a large amount of reserve capital with the requisite
judgment, experience, and energy for undertakings so great and onerous.
There are in that country, though its population is much less and
scattered over an area far more extensive than that of Great Britain,
many more circuses than exist in this country, and most of them
organized on a scale which can be matched in England only by Sanger’s.
Conducted as such enterprises are in America, under conditions unknown
in this country, a bad season is ruin to circus proprietors whose
reserve capital is insufficient to enable them to hold their own against
a year’s losses, maintain their stud during the winter in idleness, and
take the field with undiminished strength and untarnished splendour in
the following spring.

American circus proprietors, managers, performers, and all connected
with them, will not soon forget the season of 1869, which ruined several
concerns, sapped the strength of more, and disappointed all. ‘During the
winter of 1868–9,’ writes an American gentleman, fully acquainted with
the subject, ‘the most extensive preparations were made by them. New
canvases were bought, new wagons built, the entire paraphernalia
refitted, and considerable expense gone to for what they all anticipated
would be a prosperous season. The rainy term struck a good many of the
shows in the western country as soon as they got fairly on the road, and
some of them did not see the sun any day for three weeks. This proved
disastrous, as it put them back several weeks. The rainy weather made
the roads in a horrible condition and almost impassable, while in some
parts of the far west one concern came to a dead stand for a week, not
being able to get along with the heavy wagons through a country that had
to be forded. In this manner several concerns lost many of their stands.
Then, when they did strike a clear country, business did not come up to
expectations. It is very doubtful if, out of the twenty-eight circuses
and menageries that started out in April and May, more than six concerns
came home with the right side of a balance-sheet. Of this number were
the European, Bailey’s, Stone and Murray’s, and two or three of the
menageries. Some of the other shows managed by close figuring to worry
through the season and come home with their horses pretty well jaded
out, their wagons worn, and their canvas in a dilapidated condition.
There were other shows that collapsed before the season was half over.

‘Profiting by experience, and having not much better hopes for next
season, scarcely a manager went heavily into preparations during the
winter for the summer’s campaign. The general impression with all the
old and experienced managers was that it was going to be another hard
one for them to pull through, and could they have made any satisfactory
disposal of their live stock, they would willingly have done so sooner
than go through such another summer as the last one. Some of the old
managers believe in “Never say die,” and launched out a little more
boldly than the rest, believing that “Nothing venture, nothing win.” The
big concerns that have wealthy managers, who can stand a few weeks of
bad luck, hold out; but there are several new managers getting into the
business—as well as several old ones—who have just money enough to get
their shows on the road. These are the concerns that go by the board
first, should times be bad, for, having no money to fall back on, the
“jig’s up.” There are many shows that go on the road without a dollar in
the treasury, comparatively speaking. They manage to crawl along by
paying no salaries, their daily receipts just about meeting their hotel
bill for keep of men and horses. Finally, they reach a town, the weather
is very stormy, and the receipts do not come up to the daily expense.
The consequence is the landlord of the hotel has to accompany the show
to the next stand to get his money, and in some instances keep along for
two or three days.

‘I know of a circus that once travelled through Vermont and did a good
business, but on their return home through New York State met with five
weeks of horrible business, the weather being rainy nearly every day.
There were from two to three landlords accompanying the show all the
time to collect back bills, and as fast as one was dropped another would
be taken on. In one town one landlord, who had been along for nearly a
week, grew out of patience, and, becoming desperate, had the canvas
attached, and as soon as the company got ready to start for the next
town it was hauled down to a stable under charge of the sheriff. Of
course there was no use of the show going to the next town without a
canvas, so at last the sheriff kindly consented to take two of the
baggage horses for the debt, and they were left behind. This caused a
delay, and the canvas did not arrive in the next town until it was too
late to give the afternoon show. This is only one of the hundreds of
little events that transpire during the tenting season.

‘But the greatest trouble experienced by circus managers is the attempt
on the part of crowds of roughs to gain free admittance to the circus.
In a body they go to the door and attempt to pass; upon being stopped,
they show fight. If they are worsted, they soon re-appear on the scene,
considerably strengthened in numbers, and they either cut the guy ropes
and let down the canvas, or they get into a fight with the circus boys.
Generally speaking, serious results follow, and if one of the citizens
of the town is hurt the concern is followed to the next town and hunted
like dogs, and probably the same scenes occur there. There are several
towns where trouble is generally looked for. West Troy, N. Y., is one of
these, and we could mention half a dozen others. In scarcely one of
these towns are the police strong enough to break up these regular
circus riots. A circus manager is compelled to pay to the corporation a
heavy license fee for the privilege of showing in the town, a goodly tax
for ground rent for pitching his canvas, he is charged exorbitantly for
everything he wants during his stay there, and he has a United States
licence also to pay, and it is but justice that the corporation should
be prepared beforehand, and see that said manager’s property is

Next to Barnum’s, the best organized and appointed circuses now
travelling are Van Amburgh’s, Robinson’s, and Stone and Murray’s. Van
Amburgh and Co. own two menageries, one of which accompanies the circus.
It will surprise persons acquainted only with English circuses to learn
that the staff of the combined shows comprises a manager and an
assistant manager, advertiser, treasurer, equestrian director,
riding-master, band leader, lion performer, elephant man, doorkeeper,
and head ostler, besides grooms, tent-men, &c., to the number, all told,
of nearly a hundred. The number of horses, including those used for
draught, is about a hundred and forty.

In 1870, the management adopted the plan of camping the horses and
providing lodgings and board for the entire company, so as to be
independent of hotel and stable keepers, whose demands upon circus
companies are said to have often been extortionate. To this end, they
had constructed a canvas stable, and two large carriages, eighteen feet
long, to be set eighteen feet apart, with swinging sides, was to form a
house eighteen feet by thirty. This is their hotel, and the cooking is
done in a portable kitchen, drawn by four horses. Fifty men are lodged
and boarded in this construction, which is called, after the manager,
Hyatt Frost, the Hotel Frost. Among the cooking utensils provided for
the travelling kitchen is a frying-pan thirty inches in diameter, which
will cook a gross of eggs at once.

Robinson, the manager of the concern known as the Yankee Robinson
Consolidated Shows, combines a menagerie and a ballet _troupe_ with a
circus, the former containing a group of performing bears. The parades
of this circus are organized on a great scale, and usually present some
feature of novelty, or more than ordinary splendour. A new Polyhymnia,
used as an advertising car, and which produces a volume of sound equal
to that of a brass band, was added to its attractions in 1870. The
Hayneses or Senyahs, who performed at several of the London music-halls
a few years ago, and whose performance has been described in a previous
chapter, were at that time in the company, and had been during the
previous winter at the Olympic Theatre, Brooklyn. There also another
female gymnast known to the frequenters of metropolitan music-halls,
namely, Madlle Geraldine, appeared that season. Robinson is said to be
the only man that so far has been successful as a circus manager,
performer, and Yankee comedian, having appeared with considerable
success as a representative of Yankee characters at Wood’s Museum and
the Olympic Theatre, New York, as well as in other cities.

Stone and Murray’s circus enjoyed, until Barnum took the field, a
reputation second to none in the Union. ‘Wherever they have been,’ says
the writer already quoted, ‘they have left a good name behind them, and
they give a really good circus entertainment. Everything about the show
presents a neat appearance, and the company are noted for behaving
themselves wherever they appear.’ This is the circus in which two or
three of the numerous and talented Cooke family performed during the
season of 1870, together with Jeannette Elsler, who in 1852 performed at
Batty’s Hippodrome, being then a member of Franconi’s company. Charles
Bliss, now in Barnum’s company, and William Ducrow, were also members of
Stone and Murray’s company four years ago. For the parade, this circus
has a band chariot, drawn by forty horses; and in 1870, as an additional
outside attraction, Madlle Elsler made an ascent on a wire from the
ground to the top of the pavilion, a feat which she had performed
eighteen years previously at Batty’s Hippodrome.

Forepaugh’s ‘zoological and equestrian aggregation,’ as the show is
called, combines a circus with a menagerie, and possesses no fewer than
three elephants and as many camels. Adam Forepaugh is the proprietor of
this show, which must not be confounded with Gardner and Forepaugh’s
circus and menagerie, which was organized in 1870 by the amalgamation of
Gardner and Kenyon’s menagerie with James Robinson’s circus. Kenyon
retired from the former in 1869, and John Forepaugh, brother of Adam,
took his place. The two elephants and other animals forming the
zoological collection belong, however, to Adam Forepaugh, from whom they
are hired on a per centage arrangement. Madlle Virginie, who appeared at
the Holborn Amphitheatre a few years ago, has since been travelling with
Adam Forepaugh; while Gardner and Forepaugh’s circus has included in its
company J. M. Kelly, brother of George Kelly, the champion vaulter,
whose double somersaults over a dozen horses will long linger in the
memory of those who witnessed the feat in the same arena.

Joel Warner, who was formerly Adam Forepaugh’s advertiser, started a
circus and menagerie on his own account in 1871. ‘He said,’ writes the
gentleman who relates the story of the origin of Barnum’s show, ‘that he
was “bound to have some money, or die;” and he added that he would
“fifty per cent. rather have the money than die.” Well, he started out,
and met with but poor encouragement; still his indomitable energy kept
him above-water until he got into Indiana, when he found, to his utter
consternation, that he was to meet with strong opposition. “Well,” he
said, “there’s just one way to get out of this,” and Warner quietly
disappeared. Two or three days after a travel-worn stranger stepped into
the counting-room of Russell, Morgan, & Co.’s great printing house, in
Cincinnati, and, sitting himself down in a chair, exclaimed:—“Well, here
I am, and here I’ll stay.” It was Warner, and the way that man disturbed
the placid bosom of quart-bottles of ink was a warning to writists. For
two weeks he sat at a desk running off “proof” from his pen, while the
printers ran it off from the press, and when he got through, J. E.
Warner & Co.’s Menagerie and Circus was among the best advertised shows
in America. He courted the muses too, and fair poetry shed her light
upon Warner’s wearied brain, while she tipped his fingers with:—

                 “One summer’s eve, amid the bowers
                   Of Grand river’s peaceful stream,
                 Sleeping ’mong the breathing flowers,
                   Joel Warner had a dream:
                 Argosies came richly freighted,
                   Birds and beasts, from every land,
                 At his calling came and waited,
                   Till he raised his magic hand.”

The “magic hand,” was raised, and Hoosiers and Michiganders filled it
with “rocks.” I met him in the summer at Fort Wayne. “Well, Warner, what
success?” I asked. “Red hot!” was the answer, and off he started to hire
every bill-board and bill-poster and newspaper in the town. As an
advertiser he stands “ever so high,” and as a gentleman he is, as
Captain Cuttle remarked of his watch, “equalled by few and excelled by

‘One day Charley Castle—of course, everybody knows Charley Castle, and
has heard him mention Syracuse—one day Charley Castle lost a beautiful
topaz from a ring, and after a thorough search he gave it up as gone;
“still,” said he, “I’ll give two dollars to the finder if he returns
it.” Warner quietly walked across the street to the dollar-store and
bought a glass stone which bore a remarkable resemblance to the one
lost. Laying it in a corner, he sat down, and in a few moments delighted
Castle by pointing out his lost gem. It fitted the setting exactly, and
Charley was happy. “Well,” said Warner, “I won’t ask you for the two
dollars, Charley, but you must set ’em up.” “All right.” They were set
up accordingly, and it cost three dollars exactly. A short time after,
Castle made a startling discovery—his beautiful topaz was beautiful
glass. There was war in that camp, and in order to move Charley Castle
it is only necessary to go and whisper “topaz” in his ear.

‘But Castle is full of tricks too. Out in Ohio, when he was agent of
O’Brien’s big show—“Great Monster Menagerie, National Natural Kingdom
and Aviary of Exotic Birds”—that’s what he calls it—a landlord gave him
a cross word. “Hitch up them horses,” he shouted to his groom, and
leaving the landlord a left-handed blessing, he drove three miles away,
and showed in an open farm, to a crowded house. Landlords and showmen
often have little passages, and generally the showmen come out winners.
I remember a landlord in a southern town, who once contracted to keep
fifty men, and when the show arrived he had just ten beds in the house.
This was rough on the showmen, but the way the landlord suffered was
enough to “point a moral and adorn a tale.”’

Bailey’s circus also combines a menagerie with the attractions of the
arena, and the former, which includes two large elephants and no fewer
than ten camels, is exhibited during the winter at Wood’s Museum, New
York. Though called Bailey’s, George Bailey is only the junior partner
and general director, the senior partners being Avery Smith and John
Nathans, who are also the proprietors, in partnership with George
Burnell, of the European Circus. Sebastian and Romeo, now travelling
with Barnum’s show, were performing in this circus a few years ago,
together with George Derious, a gymnast who, in 1869, performed some
sensational feats at the Bowery theatre, New York.

The European circus of Smith, Nathans, and Burnell travels with a
company of a hundred and twenty-five persons, and a stud of a hundred
and thirty-four horses. The famous Frank Pastor was lately the principal
equestrian, and the Conrads were among the gymnastic artistes.

French’s circus was the first in America in which the system of lodging
and boarding the company and stabling the horses, independently of
hotels, was introduced. The cooking and dining carriage is eighteen feet
long, eight feet wide, and ten feet high; and there are several large
carriages for sleeping purposes. French employs a hundred and twenty
persons, all told, and his stud numbers as many horses, besides two
elephants, fifteen camels, and two cages of performing lions.

Campbell’s show, which comprises a circus and a menagerie, is a good one
of the second, or rather third, class. The circus company lately
included Madame Brown (better known as Marie Tournaire), Madlle
Josephine, and Sam Stickney—a name still famous in the arena. The
zoological collection includes an elephant and a group of performing
lions, tigers, and leopards, who are exercised by Signor Balize.

There remains to be noticed several tenting circuses of minor extent and
repute, but which make a figure that would be more highly esteemed in
this country. Wheeler and Cushing have a band of silver cornet players,
and their company lately included Madame Tournaire, Annie Warner, and
Pardon Dean, the oldest English equestrian in America. Wilson’s circus
included the world-famed Brothers Risareli in the company just before
their appearance at the Holborn Amphitheatre. Johnson’s circus was
strengthened a few years ago by amalgamation with Levi North’s show,
which included a group of performing animals, and is now able to give a
parade extending to the length of a mile. Older’s circus and menagerie
is a fourth-rate concern, but yet possesses two camels.

Thayer’s circus was broken up by the bad business of 1869, and the stud
and effects sold by auction. A new concern was organized in the same
name in the following year by James Anderson, with fifty people and as
many horses, Thayer being manager, Samuel Stickney equestrian director,
and Charlie Abbott—the vanishing clown of a few years ago at the Holborn
Amphitheatre—as clown. Ward’s circus started in 1869, and broke up the
same year, when Bunnell and Jones bought the stud and effects at auction
for little more than one-seventh of the money they had cost, and started
it again in Ward’s name, in 1870. Lake’s circus was sold by auction
about the same time, when the ring horses were bought by Van Amburgh,
and the draught stock by Noyes. There are three other circuses—Watson’s,
De Haven’s, and Alexander Robinson’s—which though they bear the
high-sounding names of the Metropolitan, the Sensation, and the
International Hippo-comique and World Circus, are of comparative small

Besides these, there are some circuses which travel the Southern States,
where the climate enables them to tent all the year round. Foremost
among these is Noyes’ circus, a great feature in the parade of which is
the globe band chariot, drawn by eight cream-coloured horses. Hemmings,
Cooper, and Whitby’s show combines with the circus a small menagerie,
and includes an elephant and a cage of performing lions. Grady’s circus
lately numbered in its company Madame Macarte, who formerly travelled
with Batty, and whose real name is, I believe, Macarthy. John Robinson’s
circus and menagerie also possesses an elephant, and the zoological
collection has been greatly enlarged of late years. Stowe’s circus
appears to be a very small concern.

Most of the American circuses, including all the most considerable, are
accompanied, as before stated, by what are termed ‘side shows,’ of which
the following account is given by the gentleman to whom I am indebted
for the statement of the troubles of American circuses in the beginning
of this chapter. ‘The side show,’ he says, ‘is an institution of
itself—one in which considerable money is invested with some concerns,
while with others not so much capital is required. What is known as a
side show is an entertainment given in a small canvas in close proximity
to the big show. To secure the sole privilege of conducting this
entertainment on the same ground as used by the big concern, and for
being permitted to accompany it on its summer tour, a considerable bonus
has to be paid. There is a great rivalry among side showmen to secure
the privilege with the larger concerns, as a great deal of money is made
during a tenting season. Some of these entertainments consist of a
regular minstrel performance or the exhibition of some monstrosity, such
as a five-legged cow, a double-headed calf, collection of anacondas,
sword-swallowers, stone-eaters, dwarf, giant, fat woman, and anything
else, no matter what, so long as it is a curiosity.

‘The _modus operandi_ of running a side show is as follows:—The manager
has a two-horse waggon, into which he packs his canvas and traps. He
starts off early in the morning, so as to reach the town in which the
circus is to exhibit about an hour before the procession is made. He
drives to the lot, and in less than an hour every preparation has been
completed and the side show commences, with the “blower” taking his
position at the door of the entrance, and in a stentorian voice
expatiating at large upon what is to be seen within for the small sum of
ten cents; sometimes the admission is twenty-five cents. The term
“blower” is given to this individual because he talks so much and tells
a great deal more than what proves to be true. A crowd always gathers
about a circus lot early in the morning, and many a nimble tenpence is
picked up before the procession is made in town. When that is over and
has reached the lot, an immense crowd gathers around to see the pitching
of the big canvas, and from them many drop in to see the side show. As
soon as the big show opens for the afternoon performance the “kid” show,
as the side show is called, shuts up and does not open again until about
five minutes before the big show is out. Then the “blower” mounts a box
or anything that is handy, and goes at it with a will, “blowing” and
taking in the stamps at the same time. This is kept up for about half an
hour, by which time all have gone in that can, while the rest have
departed. The side show entertainment lasts about half an hour, when the
doors are closed and remain so until the evening performance of the big
show is over. And then, with a huge torch-ball blazing each side of him,
the “blower” commences. This torch ball consists of balls of cotton
wicking, such as was used in olden times for oil lamps; having been
soaked well in alcohol and lighted, it is fixed upon an iron rod, about
six feet long, which is placed upright in the ground and the ball will
burn for half an hour or more; two balls will make the whole
neighbourhood nearly as light as day.

‘The receipts from some side shows reach over $150 a day, and with the
larger concerns a still greater amount than this is taken. I know of a
side show that travelled with a circus company through Vermont and the
Canadas, about ten years ago, that actually came home in the fall with
more money than the circus had; not that it took more money, but it did
a big business, and had little or no expense. The side show belonged to
the manager of the big show, and consisted of a couple of snakes, a cage
of monkeys, and a deformed negro wench, who was represented as a wild
woman, caught by a party of slaves in the swamps of Florida. While the
big show did a poor business the “kid” show made money. Some of the
circus managers do not dispose of the side show privilege, but run it
themselves. Then, again, the manager of the big show rents out what is
called the “concert privilege;” that is, the right of giving a minstrel
entertainment within the canvas of the big show as soon as the regular
afternoon and evening performances are over. This consists of a regular
first part and variety minstrel entertainment, given by the circus
performers, who can either play some musical instrument or dance;
occasionally some of the ladies of the company dance. The show lasts
about three quarters of an hour, and the charge is twenty-five cents.
The clown announces to the audience, just before the big show is over,
that the entertainment will be given immediately after, and those who
wish to witness it can keep their seats. Several parties then skirmish
among the assembled multitude and cry “tickets for the concert,
twenty-five cents,” and just before the entertainment commences the
tickets are collected.’

New York and New Orleans are provided with permanent buildings in which
circus performances are given during the winter by companies which
travel in the tenting season. At the New York Amphitheatre the company
comprises some of the best equestrians and gymnasts, American and
European, whose services can be secured, such as Robert Stickney,
William Conrad (who, with his brother, will be remembered by many as
gymnasts at the Alhambra), and Joe Pentland, one of the oldest and best
clowns in the Union. The stud comprises between forty and fifty horses,
all used in turn in the ring, as the summer campaign is made by rail,
and only the principal towns are visited. Mr Lent is lessee and manager
in New York.

The New Orleans Amphitheatre combines a menagerie with its circus
attractions, and is owned by C. T. Ames. There are twelve camels
attached to it, and a ‘mio,’ whatever that may be, the animal being as
unknown to naturalists, by that name at least, as the ‘vedo’ of Sanger’s
circus. Lucille Watson, now with Barnum’s company, was previously a
member of the New Orleans troupe.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

Reminiscences of a Gymnast—Training and Practising—A Professional
    Rendezvous—Circus Agencies—The First Engagement—Springthorp’s
    Music-hall—Newsome’s Circus—Reception in the Dressing-room—The
    Company and the Stud—The Newsome Family—Miss Newsome’s Wonderful
    Leap across a green lane—The Handkerchief Trick—An Equine Veteran
    from the Crimea—Engagement to travel.

The picture of circus life and manners which I have endeavoured to
portray would not be complete without a narrative of the professional
experiences of the performers engaged in circuses. I shall next,
therefore, present the reminiscences of a gymnast, as I heard them
related a few years ago by one who has since retired from the avocation;
and I shall endeavour to do so, as nearly as may be possible, in his own

‘I was not born and bred a circus man, as most of them are—Alf Burgess,
for instance, who was born, as I may say, in the saw-dust, and brought
up on the back of a horse. Neither was my partner. He was a clerk in the
advertising department of a London evening newspaper, and I was an
apprentice in a London printing-office, and not quite out of my time,
when we went in for gymnastics at the Alhambra gymnasium. My partner was
practising the flying trapeze, and was just beginning to do his flights
with confidence, when that poor fellow fell, and broke his back, at the
Canterbury, and the proprietors of the London music-halls set their
faces against the flying trapeze, and would not engage gymnasts for it.
In consequence of that, he had to drop the flying trapeze, and practise
for the fixed trapeze; and, as the single trapeze doesn’t draw, he began
to look out for a partner, to do it double. Price was looking out for a
partner at the same time, but, as he was more advanced in his training
than Fred was, and was not disposed to wait till he was proficient, he
took Joe Welsh,—Alhambra Joe, as he used to be called,—and Fred had to
look out for somebody else.

‘The partnership of the Brothers Price, as they called themselves, did
not last long; for Price dropped in for a slice of luck, in the shape of
a thumping legacy,—twenty thousand pounds, I have heard,—and then he
turned up the profession, and Joe Welsh went in for the long flight. In
the mean time, I had made up my mind to follow Fred’s example, and to be
his partner; and, besides fixing up the ropes for the flying rings in my
grandmother’s orchard at Norwood, for practice on Sundays, we took our
fakements nearly every evening to the “ruins,” as they were called, in
Victoria Street. Do you know where I mean?’

I did know the place, and remembered that it conveyed the idea that a
Metropolitan Improvement Commission’s notions of street improvements
consisted in demolishing some three or four hundred houses, and creating
a wilderness of unfinished houses, yawning chasms, and heaps of rubbish.
The place remained in that condition for several years, and was the
rendezvous and free gymnasium of most of the gymnasts, acrobats,
rope-dancers, and other professors of muscular sensationalism in the

‘Well, we fixed our fakements up in the “ruins,” and when the evenings
began to get dark we had candles. A lot of us used to be there—Frank
Berrington, and Costello, and Jemmy Lee, and Joe Welsh, and Bill George,
and ever so many more. There used to be all kinds of gymnastic exercises
going on there; and there my partner and I went, night after night,
until we could do a tidy slang on the trapeze, the rings, or the bar.
Then we went to Roberts; he used to live in Compton Street then, and he
and Maynard, in York Road, Lambeth, were agents for all the circuses and
music-halls in the three kingdoms, and often had commissions from
foreign establishments to engage _artistes_ for them. They get
engagements for you, and you pay them a commission of fifteen per cent.
on the salary they get for you; so it is their interest to get you as
good a screw as they can, and it is your interest to keep the commission
paid regularly, because if you don’t, you will have to look out for
yourselves when you want another engagement. If you don’t act
honourable, and you try to get another engagement without the
intervention of an agent, the circus or music-hall proprietor or manager
says, “I engage my people through Roberts,” or Maynard, as the case may
be; and there you are—flummoxed!

‘Well, we went to Roberts, and had to wait our turn, while he did
business with other fellows who were before us. We looked at the framed
collections of photographs of gymnasts, acrobats, clowns, riders,
jugglers, singers, and dancers which hung against the wall, and then we
looked about us. There was Hassan, the Arab, a wiry-looking tawny man,
black bearded and moustached, and wearing a scarlet fez, a blue zouave
jacket, and baggy crimson breeches; and old Zamezou, with a
broad-brimmed felt hat overshadowing his face, and his portly figure
enveloped in the folds of a large blue cloak; and George Christoff, the
rope-dancer, buttoned up in his over-coat, and looking rather blue, as
if he had just stepped up from the chilly fog in the street; and Luke
Berrington, looking quite the swell, as he always does; and one or two
more that I didn’t know, or can’t remember. One by one, they dropped
out, and others came in, till at last our turn came.

‘“Well,” says Roberts, who is a nice sort of fellow—a smart
dark-complexioned man, with gold rings in his ears, “I want a couple of
good gymnasts for Springthorp’s, at Hull; but, you see, I don’t know
you: where have you been?”

‘That was a floorer; but, before my partner could answer, a young fellow
who had just come in, and who had seen us practising at the “ruins,” and
knew what we could do, says, “I know them; they have just come from the
Cirque Imperiale.”

‘“Oh!” says Roberts, “if you have been at the Cirque Imperiale, you will
do for Springthorp’s. The engagement will be for six nights, commencing
on Saturday next; and you will have five pounds.”

‘That was gorgeous, we thought. There was I, getting, as an apprentice,
a pound a week, with three-and-thirty shillings, or six-and-thirty at
the most, in perspective; and my partner, out of collar for months, and
receiving the munificent salary of twelve bob a week when in: and we had
jumped into fifty shillings a week each, for a nightly performance of
ten minutes or a quarter of an hour! It is no wonder that we fell to
work, building castles in the air, as soon as we got into the street. We
should go to the Cirque Imperiale some day, though we had not been there
yet, and then to Madrid or St Petersburg, and come back to England, and
be engaged for the Alhambra at fifty pounds a week. From the lofty
height to which we had soared before we reached the Haymarket we were
brought to the ground by considerations of finance. We were both at
low-water mark, and the denarlies had to be found for our tights and
trunks, and our expenses down to Hull. We got over that little
difficulty, however, and started for Hull with hearts as light as our

‘Do you know Springthorp’s? You were never in Hull, perhaps; but, if you
should ever happen to be there, and should lose yourself, as you are
very likely to do, in the neighbourhood of the docks, and should wander
into the dullest part of the town, towards Sculcoates, you will come
upon a dreary-looking building, which was once a chapel, and afterwards
a wax-work exhibition. That is Springthorp’s; and there, in the
dreariest, dingiest hall that was ever mocked with the name of a place
of amusement, we gave our first performance. The Vokes family were
performing there at the same time, and very agreeable people we found
them. The six nights came to an end too soon,—before we had got used to
seeing our name in the bills, in the largest type and the reddest ink.
Then we came back to London, and presented ourselves again before our
agent. We had given entire satisfaction at Springthorp’s, he told us;
but he couldn’t offer us another engagement just then. He should put our
name on his list, and, if anything should turn up, he would let us know.

‘The first offer came from a music-hall at Plymouth, but the screw was
too low for the distance, unless we had had other engagements in the
western towns to follow, and we didn’t take it. The next chance was at
the Hippodrome, in Paris, and we should have gone there, but another
brace of gymnasts, whose terms were lower than ours, cut us out of it.
As if to confirm the vulgar superstition about times, the third time was
lucky. Newsome wanted a couple of good gymnasts for his circus, and
offered the same terms we had had at Springthorp’s, and for twelve
nights. The distance was a drawback, for the circus was then at
Greenock; but we both desired a circus engagement, and hoped that
Newsome might be disposed to engage us to travel with him. So we
accepted the offer, and, reaching Edinburgh by steamer to Granton, went
on by rail to Greenock.

‘We had never seen any other circus than Hengler’s, except Astley’s,
and, as we did not expect to see a theatre, we expected to find a tent.
To our surprise, we found a large wooden building, well and
substantially built, though without any pretensions to elegance or
beauty of architecture; and we were still more surprised when we went
into the ring to fix up our trapeze. The boxes and balcony were as
prettily painted and gilded as in any theatre, and the ring-fence was
covered with red cloth, and a handsome chandelier hung from a canopy
such as Charman had at the Amphi. in Holborn.

‘“This is better than Hengler’s by a lump,” says my partner, as we
looked about us. “Why, it must look like Astley’s, when the chandelier
and those gas jets all round the balcony are lighted.”

‘We did not see many of the company till we presented ourselves in the
dressing-room on the first night of our engagement. As we walked in an
old clown was applying the last touch of vermilion to his whitened face,
and a younger one was balancing a feather on the tip of his nose. There
were seven or eight fellows in tights and trunks, ready for the vaulting
act, and two or three in the gilt-buttoned blue tunic and gold-striped
trousers which constituted the uniform in which the male members of the
company stood at the ring-doors when not engaged in their several
performances in the ring. They all stared at us as we went in, and I
heard one of them say, “Here are the star gymnasts from London!” One or
two said “good evening,” and one gave us a glance of inquiry as he
pronounced our professional name.

‘“That’s us,” returned my partner.

‘“Haven’t I seen your face before?” said another, looking hard at him.

‘“Very likely,” said Fred. “Were you ever at the Circo Price, in

‘“No,” answered the other fellow, still looking hard at him.

‘“Then it couldn’t have been there,” said my partner, without a muscle
of his face moving, though I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing.

‘We found all of them very good fellows to pal with when we knew them.
There was Webster Vernon, the ring-master; Alf Burgess, the head vaulter
and revolving globe performer, who had been all over the continent, and
was supposed to have accumulated some coin; Coleman, the bare-back
rider, a brother, I believe, of the theatrical manager of that name,
well known in the north; Charlie Ducrow, a direct descendant of the
great successor of Astley, and emulating him in his rapid act on six
horses; old Zamezou and his boys; the Brothers Ridley, also acrobats,
and very good in their chair act and at hand-balancing—Joe Ridley’s
one-arm balance was the best I ever saw; Franks, the first clown, with a
fund of dry, quiet humour that earned his salary, which was higher than
any other man’s in the company, except Burgess’s; Joe Hogini, singing
clown, and better at comic singing than at clowning, though he could do
some clever balancing tricks; and old Adams, clown and property-man,
whose wife was money-taker at the gallery entrance, and whose daughter
took small parts in the ballets when required.

‘If I mention the gentlemen before the ladies, which isn’t manners, it
is because I saw them first, and saw them oftenest. The ladies, as is
often the case in a circus, were all members of the proprietor’s family.
Madame Newsome only appeared in the ring when her clever manege horse,
Brunette, was introduced. Miss Adele was great in leaping acts, and has
been repeatedly acknowledged by the leading gentlemen of the north
country hunts to be the finest horsewoman across country in England. One
of the wonderful stories related of her is, that a splendid black hunter
which she was riding leaped, in the excitement of the chase, over two
hedges, with a narrow lane between them, landing safely in the field
beyond. Miss Emma did double acts with Burgess, who is as good a rider
as he is a vaulter and a juggler on the globe. Miss Marie only appeared
in ballets at that time, but she is famous now for her daring acts of
horsemanship, without saddle or bridle, like Beatrice Chiarini, whom you
may have seen at the Amphitheatre. But there was Lizzie Keys, a bold and
graceful rider, who used to take her hoops and balloons beautifully;
they called her the Little Wonder, and she was said to be only fourteen
years of age, but she looked more like a diminutive girl of eighteen.

‘There was a capital stud. Newsome selected his horses as they say
Astley did, without caring much for the colour of them; they were not
chosen for show, like the cream-coloured, and spotted, and piebald
horses you see in circuses that do a parade, but every horse was a good
one in the ring, and had been selected for docility and intelligence.
There was Emperor, the handsome black horse which the governor, and
sometimes Miss Adele, used to ride; he was worth a hundred guineas, at
the very least, as a hunter, and was a clever trick horse besides. It
was a treat to see that horse find, with his eyes bandaged, a
handkerchief which was buried in the saw-dust; you might bury it as deep
as you could, and be as careful as you liked to make the saw-dust look
as if it had not been disturbed, but he would be sure to find it. He
would step slowly round the ring till he came to the place, and then he
would scrape the saw-dust away with his hoof, pick up the handkerchief
with his teeth, and carry it to Newsome. One night Franks took the
handkerchief out of the saw-dust, ran over to the other side of the
ring, and buried it in another place, chuckling and gesticulating in
assumed anticipation of the horse’s discomfiture. The horse found it as
easily as usual. In fact, I never knew him miss it but once; he then
passed the place, but Newsome said, “_En arrière_,”—circus horses are
always spoken to in the ring in French,—and he stepped back directly,
and found it. Then there was Brunette, a brown mare, the most docile and
intelligent creature that ever went on hoofs; and Balaklava, a
scar-covered veteran that had served in the Scots Greys, and had
received his name from having been wounded in the charge of the heavy
cavalry at the battle of Balaklava. Lizzie Keys used to ride him.

‘From the company and the stud, I must return to ourselves. The twelve
nights we were engaged for, like the six at Hull, came to an end too
soon; and my partner spoke to Henry, the manager, about our travelling
with the circus, as we had set on minds upon doing. Henry, who was a
very gentlemanly fellow, said he would mention it to the governor; and
Newsome called us to him.

“I am afraid,” said he, “you wouldn’t be of much use to me. You have not
been used to circus business, and you know nothing about it. The general
routine of a circus is very different to a starring engagement, or a
turn at a music-hall. You can’t vault, or hold a banner or a balloon.”

‘“We should soon learn,” said Fred.

‘“Well, look here,” said the governor, “it’s as I said just now, you are
not of much use to me at present; but you are good on the trapeze, and,
on the understanding that you are to make yourselves useful in the
general business as soon as you can, I will put you on the
establishment, the engagement to be terminable at any time by a week’s
notice on either side.”

‘“I should like travelling with a circus, of all things,” said Fred.

‘“Of course, I couldn’t give you the salary you have been having as
stars,” said the governor. “The best man in the company doesn’t get much
more than I have been giving each of you. But if two pounds a week for
you and your partner will satisfy you, you may consider yourself

‘Of course, we thanked him, and we accepted the offer, thinking that we
should be worth more some day, and that it would be better to have two
pounds a week regular than to have five pounds for a week or a fortnight
only, and then be for several weeks without an engagement.’

                              CHAPTER XV.

Continuation of the Gymnast’s Reminiscences—A Circus on the move—Three
    Months at Carlisle—Performance for the Benefit of local
    Charities—Removal to Middlesborough—A Stockton Man’s
    Adventure—Journey to York—Circus Ballets—The Paynes in the
    Arena—Accidents in the Ring—A Circus Benefit—Removal to
    Scarborough—A Gymnastic Adventure—Twelve Nights at the Pantheon—On
    the Tramp—Return to London.

‘The circus was near the end of its stay at Greenock when we engaged for
“general utility,” and we were not sorry to leave the banks of the Clyde
for a more genial climate. It rained more or less, generally more, all
the time we were there, and I can quite believe the boy who assured an
English tourist that it didn’t always rain in Scotland, adding, “whiles
it snaws.” There was a frigate lying in the Clyde at the time, and
whenever the crew practised gunnery down came the rain in torrents. I
don’t know how that phenomenon is to be accounted for; but it is a fact
that there was a change from a drizzle to a down-pour whenever the big
guns were fired. And then the Sundays—not a drop of beer! But what do
you think the thirsty folks do? There are a great many people thirsty on
Sundays in Scotland, and especially in Greenock and Glasgow; for they
try to drink enough on Saturday night to last them till Monday, and that
plan doesn’t work satisfactorily. They go to a place called Gourock,
where they can get as much ale or whiskey as they can pay for. That is
how something like the Permissive Bill works in Scotland.

‘On the last night of our stay in Greenock, as soon as we had doffed the
circus uniform, and the audience had departed, we took down our trapeze,
and proceeded to the railway station. A special train had been engaged
for the removal to Carlisle of all the company, the band, the stud, and
the properties, Newsome paying for all. Having to make the journey by
night, we did not see much of the scenery we passed through; but we had
a good time, as the Yankees say, talking, joking, laughing, and singing
all the way. We found at Carlisle as good a building as we had left at
Greenock, and, having fixed up our trapeze, and taken a lodging, we
walked round the city to see the lions, which are rather tame ones.

‘While we were at Carlisle, Hubert Mears was starring with us for a
short time, doing the flying trapeze, and doing it, too, as well as ever
I have seen it done. After him, we had Sadi Jalma, “the serpent of the
desert,” for a time, and very serpent-like his contortions are; he can
wriggle in and out the rounds of a ladder or a chair like an eel. He is
like the acrobats that I once heard a couple of small boys holding a
discussion about, one maintaining that they had no bones, and the other
that their bones were made of gutta percha. He calls himself a Persian
prince, but I don’t believe he is any relation to the Shah. He may be a
Persian, for there are Arab, Hindoo, Chinese, and Japanese acrobats and
jugglers knocking about over England, as well as Frenchmen, Germans, and
Italians; but nationalities are as often assumed as names, and he may be
no more a Persian than I am a Spaniard.

‘It is a praiseworthy custom of Newsome, to devote one night’s receipts
to the charities of every town which he visits. It would require more
time than he has to spare to make the inquiries and calculations that
would be necessary before a stranger could distribute the money among
the several institutions, so as to effect the greatest amount of good;
and it is placed for that purpose at the disposal of the Mayor. The
amount of money which he has thus given for the relief of the sick, the
infirm, and the indigent during the time his circus has been travelling
would have been a fortune in itself, if he had put it into his own
pocket. He divides the year between four towns, and in one year he gave
two hundred pounds to the charities of Preston, and forty pounds to the
Seamen’s Orphans’ Asylum at Liverpool, besides what he gave to the
similar institutions of the other towns which he visited that year.

‘Our next move was to Middlesborough, where a very laughable incident
occurred. A party of us ferried over to Stockton one day, and went into
a public-house there for refreshment. Circus men are always courted and
sought after, as soldiers are in a place where they are only
occasionally seen; and, as soon as we were recognised by the Stockton
men in the room as belonging to the circus, there was a great
disposition shown to treat us, and to get into conversation with us.
Well, a short time afterwards, one of those men came over to
Middlesborough, to see the circus again, and, after the performance, he
went into a public-house where he recognized Sam Sault, a gymnast from
Manchester, who had lately joined us, and insisted upon treating him.
Sam had no objection to be treated, and the Stockton man was elated with
the opportunity of showing that he was acquainted with a circus man. So
one glass followed another until the Stockton man became, all at once,
helplessly drunk. Sam, who retained the use of his limbs, and some
glimmering of reason, good-naturedly took his drunken friend to his
lodging to save him from being turned out of the public-house, and then
locked up by the police. He had no sooner reached his lodgings, and
helped the drunken man up the stairs, however, than he felt a doubt as
to the safety of his purse; and, on immediately thrusting his hand into
his pocket, he found that it was gone. He reflected as well as he was
able, and came to the conclusion that he must have left it on the
parlour table at the public-house. Depositing his helpless companion
upon the sofa, he ran down-stairs, and rushed off to the tavern, where,
by great good fortune, he found his purse on the chair on which he had
been sitting, where he had placed it, it seems, when he thought he had
returned it to his pocket.

‘While he was at the public-house Joe Ridley and I, and my partner, who
lodged in the same house with Sam Sault, returned to our lodging, and
found the drunken man asleep on the sofa, smelling horribly of gin and
tobacco smoke, and snoring like a fat hog. We looked at the fellow in
surprise, wondering who he was, and how he came to be there. Neither of
us recognized him as any one we had seen before. Then the question was
raised,—What should we do with him. “Throw him out of the window,” says
Joe Ridley. “Take him down into the yard and pump on him,” says Fred.
“No, let us paint his face,” says I. So I got some carmine, and Fred got
some burnt cork, and we each painted him to our own fancy till he looked
like an Ojibbeway in his war-paint. By that time Sam Sault got back from
the public-house, and found us laughing heartily at the queer figure cut
by the recumbent Stocktonian.

‘“Oh, if he is a friend of yours, we’ll wipe it off,” says I, when Sam
had explained how the man came to be there.

‘“Oh, let it be,” says Sam,“ and let him be where he is; we’ll turn him
out in the morning, without his knowing what a beauty you have made him,
and that will serve him right for giving me so much trouble.”

‘So the fellow was left snoring on the sofa till morning, when, it
appears, he woke before we were about, and, finding himself in a strange
place, walked down-stairs, and quitted the house. We never saw him
again, but we often laughed as we thought of the figure the man must
have cut as he stalked into Stockton, and how he must have been laughed
at by his mates and the people he met on his way.

‘From Middlesborough we went to York, where the circus stood on St
George’s Field, an open space between the castle and the Ouse. About
that time, Webster Vernon left the company, and was succeeded as
ring-master by a gentleman named Vivian, who was quite new to the
profession, and whose adoption of it added another to the changes which
he had already known, though he was still quite a young man. He had been
a lawyer’s clerk, then a photographic colourist, and afterwards an
actor; and was a quiet, gentlemanly fellow, unlike the majority of
circus men, who are generally a fast, slangy set. He had married early,
and his wife, who was an actress, had an engagement in London—a frequent
cause of temporary separation among those whose business it is to amuse
the public, whether their lines lie in circuses, theatres, or
music-halls. Joe Ridley’s wife was in London, and Sam Sault had left his
better half in Manchester. Franks, and Adams, and old Zamezou, and Jem
Ridley, and the head groom had their wives with them; but two of the
five were connected with the circus, Adams’s wife taking money at the
gallery entrance, and the groom’s riding in _entrées_.

‘How did we do ballets? Well, they were _ballets d‘ action_, such as
used to be done at the music-halls by the Lauri family, and more lately
by Fred Evans and troupe. The Paynes starred in them at one time, but
generally they were done by the regular members of the company, usually
by Alf Burgess, and Funny Franks, and Joe Hogini, with Adele Newsome in
the leading lady’s part, the subordinate characters being taken by Marie
Newsome and Jane Adams, and my partner and I, and Charley Ducrow.

‘Who starred with us at this time, besides the Paynes? Well, there was
Hassan, the Arab, who did vaulting and balancing feats, and his wife,
who danced on the tight rope. He vaulted one night over a line of
mounted dragoons from Fulwood barracks, turning a somersault over their
heads and drawn sabres. Didn’t we have accidents in the ring sometimes?
Well, none of a very serious character, and nearly all that happened in
twelve months might be counted on the fingers of one hand. Coleman
slipped off the bare back of a horse one night, and cut his hand with a
sword. Burgess had a finger cut one night in catching the knives for his
juggling act, which used to be thrown to him from the ring-doors while
he was on the globe, and keeping it in motion with his feet. Adele
Newsome was thrown one night, and pitched amongst the spectators, but
received no injuries beyond a bruise or two. Lizzie Keys slipped off the
pad one night, but came down comfortably on the sawdust, and wasn’t hurt
at all. Fred fell from the trapeze once, and that was very near being
the most serious accident of all. He fell head foremost, and was taken
up insensible by the fellows at the ring-doors, and carried into the
dressing-room. We thought his neck was broken, but Sam Sault, who had
seen such accidents before, pulled his head right, and, when his senses
came back to him, it did not appear that he was much the worse for the
fall after all. Then my turn came. One night, when the performances were
to commence with a vaulting act, I went to the circus so much more than
half tight that I was advised on all sides to stand out of it, and
Henry, the manager, very kindly said that I should be excused; but, with
the obstinacy of men in that condition, and their usual belief that they
are sober enough for anything, I persisted in going into the ring with
the rest. What happened was just what might have been expected, and
everybody but myself feared. Instead of clearing the horses I touched
one of them, and, in consequence, instead of dropping on my feet, I was
thrown upon my back; and that accident, with a violent attack of
inflammation of the lungs, laid me up for two or three weeks, during
which I was treated with great liberality by Newsome, and received many
kindnesses from more than one of the good people of York.

‘My partner and I had a benefit while we were in York, but we didn’t
make more than £3 by it. The way benefits are given in circuses is by
admitting the tickets sold by the party whose benefit it is, and of
course the number of tickets a circus man can sell among the inhabitants
of a town where he was a stranger till the circus appeared, and where he
has lived only two or three months, can’t be very great. We were
thankful for what we got, however, and had new trunks made on the
strength of it—black velvet, spangled. Soon after this we removed to
Scarborough, where I had a rather perilous adventure. I attempted to
ascend the cliff, and found myself, when half way up, in an awkward
position. I had reached a narrow ledge, above which the cliff rose
almost perpendicularly, without any projection within reach that I could
grasp with one hand, or plant so much as one toe upon. Descent was
almost as impracticable as the completion of the ascent, for, besides
the difficulty of having to feel for a footing with my feet while
descending backward, a portion of the cliff, which I had been standing
upon a few minutes before, had given way and plunged down to the beach.
It seemed probable that the ledge I was standing upon might give way if
I stood still much longer, and in that case I should go down after it.
So I shouted “help!” as loud as I could, and in a few minutes I saw the
shako-covered head of a volunteer projected over the edge of the
precipice, and heard him call out, “A man over the cliff!” His corps was
encamped on the cliff, and in a few minutes I was an object of interest
to a large number of spectators, whom his alarm had attracted to the
edge of the cliff. Presently a rope was lowered to me, and held fast by
men above, while I went up it, hand over hand, as I did every night in
the circus, when we ascended to the trapeze.

‘When we had been in Scarborough about a month, my partner and I had a
disagreement, and I left the circus, and procured an engagement for
twelve nights at the Pantheon music-hall. That completed, “the world was
all before me, where to choose!” I thought there might be a chance of
obtaining an engagement at one or other of the music-halls at Leeds and
Bradford, and I visited both towns; but without meeting with success. By
the time I arrived at the conclusion that I must return to London I was
pretty nigh hard up. I counted my coin the morning I left Leeds, and
found that I had little more than enough to enable me to reach Hull,
where I expected to receive a remittance from “the old house at home!” I
had a long and weary walk to Selby, where I sat down beside the river,
to await the arrival of the steamer that runs between Hull and York.
Once more I counted my money, and had the satisfaction of ascertaining
that I had just one penny above the fare from Selby to Hull. I shoved my
fingers into each corner of every pocket, but the search did not result
in the discovery of a single copper more. It was something to have that
penny, though, for besides being thirsty, I was so fatigued that I
needed some sort of stimulant.

‘“I must have half a pint,” I thought, and I went into the nearest
public-house, and had it. Then I sat down again, and looked up the brown
Ouse, where at last I saw the black hull and smoking funnel of the
steamer. As soon as she came alongside the landing-place, I went aboard,
and descended into the fore-cabin, where I lay down, and smoked my last
bit of tobacco, after which I dozed till the steamer bumped against the
pier at Hull. There I was all right, as far as my immediate wants were
concerned. I dined, replenished my tobacco pouch, and strolled up to
Springthorp’s, to see if there was any chance there. There was no
immediate opening, however, and on the following day I took a passage
for London in one of the steamers running between the Humber and the

                              CHAPTER XVI.

Continuation of the Gymnast’s Reminiscences—Circus Men in
    Difficulties—Heavy Security for a small Debt—The Sheriff’s Officer
    and the Elephant—Taking Refuge with the Lions—Another Provincial
    Tour—With a Circus in Dublin—A Joke in the wrong place—A Fenian
    Hoax—A Case of Pikes—Return to England—At the Kentish
    Watering-places—Off to the North.

‘Several weeks elapsed before I got another engagement. Two gymnasts can
do so much more showy and sensational a performance than one can, that a
single slang doesn’t go near so well as a double one, and it is, in
consequence, only those who produce something novel, such as Jean
Price’s long flight and Avolo’s performance on two bars, who can procure
single-handed engagements. Knowing this to be the case, I looked about
for a new partner, and found that the Brothers Athos had separated, and
that one of them was in just the same fix as myself. When we met, and
talked the matter over, however, a difficulty arose in the fact that we
had both worked as bearers,—that is, we had supported our respective
partners in the double tricks, that require one man to bear the entire
weight of the other, as in the drop, or when one, hanging by the hocks,
holds a single trapeze for the other to do a trick or two upon beneath
him. Our respective necessities might have urged us to overcome this
difficulty if Christmas had not been approaching, at which season
unemployed gymnasts and acrobats often obtain engagements at the
theatres, as demons and sprites. Athos got an engagement to sprite at
the East London, and I was left out in the cold.

‘Newsome’s circus had moved, in the mean time, from Scarborough to
Middlesborough, where some changes were made in the company. Burgess and
two or three more left, and my late partner was among them. I heard
afterwards one of the many stories that are current in circuses of the
devices resorted to by circus men in difficulties to evade arrest. A
friend of one of the parties who had ceased to belong to Newsome’s
company called at the house where he had lodged, and found that he had
left, and that his landlady didn’t know where he had gone to.

‘“But I am sure to see him again,” said she, “for he has left a large
box, so heavy that I can’t move it.”

‘“Then you can have good security for what he owes you,” observed the
friend. “I suppose he owes you something?”

‘“Well, yes,” rejoined the woman, “he does owe me something for board
and lodging.”

‘Her lodger never returned, however, and his friend meeting him some
time afterwards in York, alluded to the manner in which he had
“mysteriously dried up,” as his friend called it.

‘“Ah, I was under a heavy cloud!” observed the defaulter. “What did the
old lady say about me?”

‘“That she was sure to see you again, because you had left a heavy box
in the room you occupied,” replied his friend.

‘“I should think it was heavy,” said the other. “Couldn’t move it, could

‘His friend replied in the negative, and he laughed so heartily that he
spilled some of the ale he was drinking.

‘“What is the joke?” inquired his friend.

‘“Why, you see, the box was once full of togs,” replied the mysterious
lodger, “but when I left Middlesborough such of them as were not
adorning the person of this swell were hypothecated.”

‘“What is the meaning of that hard word?” inquired a third circus man
who was present.

‘“In the vulgar tongue, up the spout,” replied the defaulter.

‘“Then what made the box so heavy?” inquired his friend.

‘“A score of bricks,” suggested the third party.

‘“Wrong, cully,” said the Artful Dodger. “I couldn’t have smuggled
bricks into the room without being observed; but a big screw went
through the bottom of the box, and held it fast to the floor.”

‘Another of the stories I have alluded to relates to a man that used to
look after an elephant in a circus, and put him through his performance.
He got pretty deeply in debt—the man I mean—in a midland town where the
circus had been staying some time, and his creditor, not being able to
obtain payment, and finding that the company were about to remove to
another town, determined to arrest him.

‘The cavalcade of horses, performing mules, camels, and other quadrupeds
was just ready to start from the circus when the sheriff’s officer
appeared on the scene, and tapped his man on the shoulder. He was
recognized at a glance, and the man ran into the stables, with the
sheriff’s officer after him. Running to the elephant, the debtor dived
under its belly, and took up a safe position on the other side of the
beast. The officer attempted a passage in the rear, but was cut off by a
sudden movement of the elephant’s hind quarters. Then he screwed up his
courage for a dive under the animal’s belly, but the beast turned its
head, and fetched him a slap with its trunk.

‘“I’ll have you, if I wait here all day,” said he, as he drew back

‘“You had better not wait till I unfasten this chain,” says the elephant
keeper, pretending to do what he threatened.

‘The officer growled, and went off to find the proprietor; but he didn’t
succeed, and when he returned to the stables, his man was gone. That was
as good a dodge as the lion-tamer’s, who, when the officers went to the
circus to arrest him, took refuge in the cage containing the lions. They
looked through the grating, and saw him in the midst of a group of lions
and lionesses. They were philosophic enough to console themselves with
the reflection that their man would come out when he wanted his dinner;
but they had not waited long when the lions began to roar.

‘“The lions are getting hungry,” says the keeper. “If he lets them out
of the cage, you will have to run.”

‘The officers exchanged frightened glances, and were out of the show in
two minutes.

‘To return to my story; my late partner found himself in much the same
fix as myself, and this discovery paved the way for a mutual friend to
bridge over the gulf that had kept us apart. As soon as we had agreed to
work together again, we got a twelve nights’ engagement at the Prince of
Wales concert-hall at Wolverhampton. We found the other professionals
engaged there very good people to pal with, and spent Christmas Day with
the comic singer and his wife, two niggers also being of the party, and
bringing their banjo and bones to promote its hilarity. While we were in
Wolverhampton, we arranged for twelve nights, to follow, at the London
Museum music-hall at Birmingham, which has received its name from the
cases of stuffed birds and small animals of all kinds, which cover all
the wall space of the front of the bar and the passage leading to the
hall. After our twelve nights there, we were engaged for six nights
longer; and then we went down to Oldham, for a twelve nights’ engagement
at the Co-operative Hall. For all these engagements, and for all we made
afterwards, the terms we obtained were four pounds ten a week.

‘Our next engagement was with a circus in Dublin, to which city we
crossed from Liverpool. The company and stud of this concern were very
different in strength and quality to Newsome’s, and they were doing very
poor business. It is very seldom that a circus proprietor ventures upon
the experiment of an Irish tour, which more rarely pays, both because of
the poverty of the people, and the difficulty which all caterers for
their amusement find in avoiding grounds for manifestations of national
antipathies between English and Irish. Of this we had an instance on the
first night of our engagement. I dare say you have heard Sam Collins or
Harry Baker, or some other Irish _comique_, interlard a song with a
spoken flourish about the Irish, something after this fashion:—“Who was
it made the French run at Waterloo? The Irish! Who won all the battles
in the Crimea? The Irish! Who put down the rebellion in India? The
Irish! Who mans your men of war and recruits your army? The Irish! Who
builds all your houses and churches? The Irish! Who builds your prisons
and your workhouses? The Irish! And who fills them? The Irish!” In
England this is laughed at, even by the Irish themselves; but in Ireland
nothing of the kind is tolerated. One of the clowns delivered himself of
this stuff in the ring, and was warmly applauded until the anticlimax
was reached, when such a howl burst forth as I shouldn’t have thought
the human voice could utter. The fellows in the gallery jumped up, and
raved, stamped, gesticulated, as if they were Ojibbeways performing a
war-dance; and everybody expected that the seats would be pulled up, and
flung into the ring, as had been done in another circus, under something
similar circumstances, some time before. But the storm was hushed as
suddenly as it arose. It happened fortunately that our performance was
next in the programme, and that, knowing how popular everything American
was in Ireland, we had provided for its musical accompaniment a fantasia
on American national airs, such as “Yankee Doodle,” “Hail, Columbia!”
and “The star-spangled banner.” The band struck up this music as the
offending clown ran out of the ring, expecting to have a bottle flung at
his head, and the howlers in the gallery hearing it, and seeing pink
stars on our white trunks, thought we were Yankees. The effect of our
appearance, and of the music, was like pouring oil on the waves. The
howling ceased, and harmony was restored as suddenly as it had been

‘This was the time, you must know, when the Fenian plot was in
everybody’s mouth, and when the wildest rumours were in circulation of
an intended rising in Ireland, and the coming of Americans, or rather
Americanized Irishmen, to support it. One day, while we were in Dublin,
a superintendent of constabulary received an anonymous letter, informing
him that a case of pikes had been buried at a spot near the Liffey,
which was so particularly described that the men who were sent to search
for it had no difficulty in finding it. When they had dug a pretty deep
hole, they found a deal box, which was raised to the surface, and carted
off to a police-station, with an escort of constabulary. It was opened
in the presence of the superintendent, and there were the pikes!—not
such as Slievenamon bristled with in ’48, but a couple of stale fishes.

‘Before leaving Dublin, we arranged for a twelve nights’ engagement at
the Alexandra music-hall, at Ramsgate, which, as you perhaps know, is
under the same management as the Raglan, in London. The Sisters Bullen,
and Miss Lucette, and the Brothers Keeling were at the Alexandra at the
same time; and, as music-hall professionals are, as a rule, disposed to
fraternize with each other, we had a very pleasant time. From Ramsgate
we went to Dover, for twelve nights at the Clarence music-hall, and then
back to Ramsgate for another twelve nights at the Alexandra.

‘Among the professionals engaged for the following week at the Clarence
was a versatile lady bearing the name of Cora Woski, and the town,
during the second week of our engagement, was placarded with the
inquiry, “Have you seen Cora?” This soon became a common question in the
streets, and at all places of public resort; and one of the company,
entering the Clarence on the day the bills appeared, without having seen
one of them, was equally surprised and confused at being greeted with
the inquiry, “Have you seen Cora?” He was only slightly acquainted with
the querist, and it happened that he was engaged to marry the only lady
of that rather uncommon name whom he knew.

‘“What do you know of Cora?” he demanded, his face reddening as he
frowned upon the questioner.

‘“Why, she is coming here,” returned the amused querist, who saw at once
the cause of the young fellow’s confusion.

‘“How do you know?” was the next question of the bewildered _artiste_.

‘“How do I know? Why, it’s all over the town,” was the reply.

‘A nudge from a friend drew the other’s attention from his tormentor for
a moment, and, following the direction of his friend’s glance, he saw
upon the wall one of the placards bearing the question with which he had
been greeted on entering the bar.

‘Engagements now followed each other pretty close. Returning to London
after our second engagement at Ramsgate, we were soon afterwards engaged
for twelve nights at Macfarlane’s music-hall, Dundee, and six nights, to
follow, at a similar place of amusement at Arbroath, under the same
management. We found the Gregories there, with their performing dogs;
and there was a ballet, in which the pretty illusion of Parkes’s silver
rain was introduced. No other engagement awaited us in the north when we
left Arbroath, and we returned to Dundee, and from thence to London.’

                             CHAPTER XVII.

Lions and Lion-tamers—Lorenzo and the Lions—Androcles and the Lion—The
    Successor of Macomo—Accident in Bell and Myers’s Circus—Lion
    Hunting—Death of Macarthy—True Causes of Accidents with Lions and
    Tigers—Performing Leopards—Anticipating the Millennium—Tame
    Hyenas—Fairgrieve’s Menagerie—Performing Lions, Tigers, Leopards,
    and Hyenas—Camels and Dromedaries—The Great Elephant

Since the death of the negro, Macomo, the most successful performer with
lions and other large members of the feline genus has been Lorenzo, who
travelled with Fairgrieve’s menagerie for several years preceding its
dispersion in the summer of 1872. On the death of George Wombwell, in
1850, his collection, which had grown to an almost unmanageable extent
during nearly half a century, was divided, according to his testamentary
directions, into three parts. With one of these his widow continued to
travel until 1866, when she retired from the business, and the menagerie
was transferred to Fairgrieve, who had married her niece. Another third
was bequeathed to Wombwell’s niece, Mrs Edmonds, who travelled with it
until the close of 1872, when it was announced for sale. Who had the
remaining third I am unable to say; it was travelling for several years
in the original name, as the menageries of Fairgrieve and Edmonds did
long after Wombwell’s decease, and is now owned by Mrs Day.

Fairgrieve’s group of performing animals consisted of several lions and
lionesses, a tigress, two or three leopards, and a hyena. Tigers are
not, as a rule, liked so well by lion-tamers as lions; but Fairgrieve’s
tigress exhibited as much docility and intelligence as her performing
companions. There was a famous lion, named Wallace, with which Lorenzo
represented the story of Androcles, the slave, who, flying from the
cruel tyranny of his Roman master, met in the forest in which he sought
refuge a lion that had been lamed by a thorn. Observing the suffering of
the beast, which made no hostile demonstrations, he ventured to approach
it, and was allowed to extract the thorn from the elastic pad of its
foot, the lion testifying its gratitude for the relief by rubbing its
head against him. Some time afterwards, the fugitive was captured, and
was doomed by his master to be exposed in the arena of the amphitheatre
to a recently trapped lion. But, to the amazement of the spectators, the
lion, instead of falling upon Androcles, and tearing him to pieces,
seemed to recognize him, and, after rubbing its head against him, lay
down at his feet. It was the lion from whose foot Androcles had
extracted the thorn in the forest. The slave told the story and received
his pardon and his liberty on the spot.

The successor of Macomo was an Irishman named Macarthy, who had
previously travelled, in the same capacity, with Bell and Myers’s
circus; and in 1862, while performing with the lions belonging to that
establishment, had his left arm so severely mangled by one of the beasts
that he had to undergo amputation. This circumstance seems to have added
to the _eclat_ of the unfortunate man’s performances, but he had neither
the nerve of Crockett and Macomo, nor their resolution to abstain from
stimulants. Whether from carelessness or nervousness, he often turned
his back upon the animals, though he had been repeatedly cautioned that
it was dangerous to do so; and to this circumstance, and his intemperate
habits, the lion-taming fraternity attribute his terrible end.

It is to be observed that Macarthy lost his life, not in the course of
the ordinary performances of lion-tamers, but while giving a sensational
exhibition termed ‘lion-hunting,’ which had been introduced by Macomo,
and consists in chasing the animals about the cage, the performer being
armed with a sword and pistols, and throwing into the mimic sport as
much semblance of reality as may be possible. It will be obvious that
this is a dangerous exhibition, and it should never be attempted with
any but young animals. For ordinary performances, most lion-tamers
prefer full-grown animals, as being better trained; but when lions
become full-grown, they are not disposed to be driven and hustled about
in this manner, and they are so excited by it that it cannot be
repeatedly performed with the same animals.

Macarthy had been bitten on three occasions previously to the
catastrophe at Bolton. The first time was in 1862, when he lost his left
arm, as already related; the second while performing at Edinburgh in
1871, when one of the lions made a snap at his arm, but only slightly
grazed it. The third occasion was only a few days before the accident
which terminated his career and his life, when one of the lions bit him
slightly on the wrist. The fatal struggle at Bolton was preceded by a
trifling accident, which may perhaps have done something to lessen the
never remarkable steadiness of the man’s nerves. In driving the animals
from one end of the cage to the other, one of them ran against his legs,
and threw him down. He regained his feet, however, and drove the animals
into a corner. He then walked to the centre of the cage, and was
stamping his feet upon the floor, to make the beasts run past him, when
one of the lions crept stealthily out from the group and sprang upon
him, seizing him by the right hip, and throwing him upon his side. For a
moment the spectators imagined that this attack was part of the
performance; but the agonized features of Macarthy soon convinced them
of their mistake. A scene of wild and terrible confusion ensued. Three
other lions sprang upon Macarthy, who was vainly endeavouring to regain
his feet, and making desperate lunges amongst the excited animals with
his sword. Presently one of the lions seized his arm, and the sword
dropped from his hand. Several men were by this time endeavouring to
beat the animals off, and to slide a partition between the bars of the
cage, with the view of driving them behind it. This was a task of
considerable difficulty, however, for as soon as one lion was compelled
to relinquish his hold, another took his place. Fire-arms and heated
bars of iron were then procured, and, by applying the irons to the paws
and jaws of the lions, and firing upon them with blank cartridges, four
of them were driven behind the partition.

Macarthy was then lying in the centre of the cage, with the lion which
had first attacked him still biting and tearing him. Discharges of blank
cartridge being found ineffectual to make it loose its hold of the
unfortunate man, the heated iron was applied to his nose, and then it
released him, and ran behind the partition, which had been drawn out a
little to admit him. Even then the terrible scene was not concluded.
Before the opening could be closed again, the lion which had been
foremost in the onslaught ran out again, seized Macarthy by the foot,
and dragged him into the corner, where all the lions again fell upon him
with redoubled fury. A quarter of an hour elapsed from the commencement
of the attack before he could be rescued; and, as the lions were then
all caged at the end where the entrance was, the opposite end of the
cage had to be opened before his mangled body could be lifted out.

This lamentable affair caused an outcry to be raised against the
exhibition of performing lions such as had been heard a few years
previously against such feats as those of Blondin and Leotard. ‘The
display of wild animals in a menagerie,’ said a London morning
journalist, ‘may be tolerated, and even encouraged for the sake of
science, and for the rational amusement of the public; but there is no
analogy between the case of beasts secured in strong dens, and
approached only with the greatest caution by wary and experienced
keepers, and that of a caravan open on all sides, illuminated by flaring
gas, and surrounded by a noisy audience.’ The distinction is one without
a difference, even if we suppose that the writer mentally restricted the
term ‘menagerie’ to the Zoological Gardens; for the proprietor of a
travelling menagerie, or a circus, consults his own interests, as well
as the safety of the public, in providing strong cages, and engaging
wary and experienced keepers. It is childish to talk of prohibiting
every performance or exhibition from which an accident has resulted.
Some years ago, one of the keepers of the Zoological Gardens in the
Regent’s Park, being somewhat intoxicated, chose to irritate a hooded
snake, which thereupon seized him by the nose. He died within an hour.
Would the journalist who proposed to exclude lion-tamers from menageries
and circuses close the Zoological Gardens on that account?

‘The caravans,’ continues the author of the article just quoted, ‘are
tenanted by wild beasts weary with previous performances, irritated by
the heat and the clamour around them, and teased by being obliged to
perform tricks at the bidding of a man whom they hate, since his
mandates are generally seconded by the blows of a whip or the searing of
a branding-iron. Now and again, in a well-ordered zoological collection,
some lazy, drowsy old lion, who passes the major part of his time in a
corner of his den, blinking at the sunshine, and who is cloyed with
abundant meals, and surfeited with cakes and sweetmeats, may exhibit
passable good-nature, and allow his keeper to take liberties; but such
placability can rarely be expected from animals moved continually from
place to place, and ceaselessly pestered into going through movements
which they detest. Lions or tigers may have the cunning of that feline
race to which they pertain; yet they are assuredly destitute of the
docility, the intelligence, or the fidelity of the dog or the horse; and
such cunning as they possess will prompt them rather to elude
performance of the tasks assigned them, or to fall upon their instructor
unawares and rend him, than to go through their feats with the cheerful
obedience manifested by creatures friendly to man. It is no secret that
the customary method of taming wild beasts for purposes of exhibition
is, to thrash them with gutta percha whips and iron bars, and when it is
considered necessary, to scarify them with red-hot pokers.’

I quote this for the sake of refuting it by the evidence of one who,
unlike the journalist, understood what he was writing about. The ex-lion
king, whose experiences and reminiscences were recorded about the same
time in another journal, and who must be admitted to be a competent
authority, says, ‘Violence is a mistake;’ and he adds, that he has never
known heated irons to be held in readiness, except when lions and
lionesses are together at times such as led to the terrific struggle in
Sanger’s circus, which has been related in the seventh chapter. The true
causes of accidents with lions and tigers are intemperance and violence.
‘It’s the drink,’ says the ex-lion king, ‘that plays the mischief with
us fellows. There are plenty of people always ready to treat the daring
fellow that plays with the lions as if they were kittens; and so he gets
reckless, lets the dangerous animal—on which, if he were sober, he would
know he must always keep his eye—get dodging round behind him; he _hits_
a beast in which he ought to know that a blow rouses the sleeping devil;
or makes a stagger and goes down, and then they set upon him.’ He
expected, he says, to hear of Macarthy’s death from the time when he
heard that he had given way to intemperance; and we have seen how a
hasty cut with a whip brought the tiger upon Helen Blight.

To this evidence of the ex-lion king I may add what I witnessed about
thirty years ago in one of the smaller class of travelling menageries,
exhibiting at the time at Mitcham fair. There were no lions or tigers,
but four performing leopards, a hyena, a wolf which anticipated the
Millennium by lying down with a lamb, and several smaller animals. The
showman entered the leopards’ cage, with a light whip in one hand, and a
hoop in the other. The animals leaped over the whip, through the hoop,
and over the man’s back, exhibiting as much docility throughout the
performance as cats or dogs. The whip was used merely as part of the
properties. Indeed, since cats can be taught to leap in the same way,
without the use of whips or iron bars, why not leopards, which are
merely a larger species of the same genus? The showman also entered the
cage of the hyena, which fawned upon him after the manner of a dog, and
allowed him to open its mouth. The hyena has the reputation of being
untameable; but, in addition to this instance to the contrary, and
another in Fairgrieve’s menagerie, Bishop Heber had a hyena at Calcutta,
which followed him about like a dog.

When Fairgrieve’s collection was sold by auction at Edinburgh in 1872,
the lions and tigers excited much attention, and good prices were
realized, though in some instances they were not so great as had been
expected. Rice, a dealer in animals, whose repository, like Jamrach’s,
is in Ratcliff Highway, bought, for £185, the famous lion, Wallace, aged
seven years and a half, with which Lorenzo used to represent the story
of Androcles. The auctioneer assured those present that the animal was
as tame as a lamb, and that he was inclined to enter the cage himself,
and perform Androcles ‘for that time only,’ but was afraid of the lion’s
gratitude. There were six other lions and three lionesses, five of which
were also bought by Rice, at prices varying, according to the age and
sex of the animals, from £80 for a full grown lioness, and £90 each for
lions a year and a half old, to £140 for full-grown lions, from three to
seven years old. A six-year old lion named Hannibal, said to be the
largest and handsomest lion in this country, was bought by the
proprietors of the Zoological Gardens at Bristol for £270; and his mate,
four years old, was bought by Jennison, of the Belle Vue Gardens,
Manchester, for 100 guineas. The third lioness realized £80, and the
remaining lion, bought by Jamrach, £200.

The magnificent tigress, Tippoo, which used to perform with Lorenzo, was
also purchased by Jamrach for £155; and the same enterprising dealer
became the possessor of three of the four leopards for £60. As these
leopards, two of which were females, were trained performing animals,
the sum they realized must be considered extremely low. Another
leopardess, advanced in years, realized only 6 guineas. Ferguson, the
agent of Van Amburgh, the great American menagerist, secured the spotted
hyena for £15; while a performing hyena of the striped variety was
knocked down at only three guineas. A polar bear, ‘young, healthy, and
lively as a trout,’ as the auctioneer said, was sold for £40, a
Thibetian bear for 5 guineas, and a pair of wolves for 2 guineas.

Rice, who was the largest purchaser, became the possessor of the zebra
for £50. The Bactrian camels, bought principally for travelling
menageries, brought from £14 to £30. The largest male camel, twelve
years old, was sold for £19; and another, six months younger, but a foot
less in stature, for £14. Of the three females, one, six feet and a half
high, and ten years old, brought £30; and another, of the same height,
and only half the age of the former, £23. The third, only a year and a
half old, and not yet full grown, brought £14. All three were in young.
A baby camel, nine weeks old, realized 9 guineas. The male ‘dromedary,’
as it was described in the catalogue, but called by naturalists the
Syrian camel, was sold for £30, and the female for 20 guineas.
Menagerists restrict the term ‘camel’ to the Bactrian or two-humped
variety, and call the one-humped animals dromedaries; but the dromedary,
according to naturalists, is a small variety of the Syrian camel,
bearing the same relation to the latter as a pony does to a horse. The
animals described as dromedaries in the catalogue of Fairgrieve’s
collection were, on the contrary, taller than the Bactrian camels.

There was a spirited competition for the two elephants, ending in the
female, a musical phenomenon, playing the organ and the harmonium, being
bought by Rice for £145; and the noble full-tusked male, rising eight
years old, and seven feet six inches in height, being purchased by
Jennison for £680. This enormous beast was described as the largest and
cleverest performing elephant ever exhibited. In point of fact, he is
surpassed in stature, I believe, by the Czar’s elephant, kept at his
country residence at Tzarski-Seloe; but that beast’s performances have
never gone beyond occasionally killing his keeper, whilst the elephant
now in the Belle Vue Gardens, at Manchester, is one of the most docile
and intelligent beasts ever exhibited. He will go in harness, and was
accustomed to draw the band carriage when a parade was made. He will
either drag or push a waggon up a hill, and during the last eighteen
months that the menagerie was travelling, he placed all the vans in
position, with the assistance only of a couple of men to guide the

The entire proceeds of the sale were a little under £3,000. The daily
cost of the food of the animals in a menagerie is, I may add, far from a
trifle. The quantity of hay, cabbages, bread, and boiled rice, sweetened
with sugar, which an elephant will consume, in addition to the fruit,
buns, and biscuits given to him by visitors, is enormous. The amount of
animal food for the carnivora in Fairgrieve’s menagerie was about four
hundred-weight a day, consisting chiefly of the shins, hearts, and heads
of bullocks. Each lion is said to have consumed twelve pounds of meat
every day; but this is more, I believe, than is allowed in the Gardens
of the Zoological Society. The appetite of the tiger is almost equal to
that of his leonine relative; and all these beasts seem to insist upon
having beef for dinner. We hear nothing of hippophagy among lions and
tigers in a state of confinement; though, in their native jungles, they
eat horse, pig, deer, antelope, sheep, or goat indiscriminately. The
bears get meat only in very cold weather; at other seasons, their diet
consists of bread, sopped biscuits, and boiled rice.

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

Circus Slang—Its Peculiarities and Derivation—Certain Phrases used by
    others of the Amusing Classes—Technicalities of the Circus—The
    Riders and Clowns of Dickens—Sleary’s Circus—Circus Men and Women in
    Fiction and in Real Life—Domestic Habits of Circus People—Dress and
    Manners—The Professional Quarter of the Metropolis.

Circus men are much addicted to the use of slang, and much of their
slang is peculiar to themselves. To those who are uninitiated in the
mysteries of life among what may be termed the amusing classes, the
greater part of their vocabulary would seem an unknown tongue; but a
distinction must be made between slang words and phrases and the
technical terms used in the profession, and also between the forms of
expression peculiar to circus men and those which they use in common
with members of the theatrical and musical professions. These
distinctions being duly observed, the words and phrases which are
peculiar to the ring will be found to be less numerous than might be
expected from the abundance of slang with which the conversation of
circus _artistes_ seems to be garnished; though it is probable that no
man, not even a circus man, could give a complete vocabulary of circus
slang, which, like that of other slang-speaking classes, is constantly
receiving additions, while words and phrases which have been long in use
often become obsolete, and fall into disuse.

There is an impression among circus men that much of the slang peculiar
to themselves is derived from the languages of Italy and Spain, and the
affirmative, _si_, has been cited to me as an instance; but I have never
heard this word used by them, and its use has probably been observed
only in the case of men or women who have recently been in Italy. The
few words in common use among the class which can be traced to an
Italian or Spanish origin may be counted on the fingers of one hand.
_Bono_ (good) is used both as an adjective, and as an exclamation of
approval or admiration. _Dona_ (lady) is so constantly used that I have
seldom heard a circus man mention a woman by any other term. The other
words referred to are used in monetary transactions, which are the
constant subject of slang among all classes of the community. _Saulty_
(penny) may be derived from the Italian _soldi_, and _duey_ (twopence)
and _tray saulty_ (threepence) are also of foreign origin, like the
deuce and tray of card-players. _Dollar_ is in constant use as the
equivalent of five shillings, and money generally is spoken of as
_denarlies_, which may be a corruption of the Latin _denarii_.

_Rot_ is a term of contempt, used in strong and emphatic
contradistinction to _bono_; and of late years it has been adopted by
other sections of the amusing classes, and by young men of the ‘fast’
sort, who seem to think the use of slang a commendable distinction. _Toe
rags_ is another expression of contempt, less frequently used, and
chiefly by the lower grades of circus men, and the acrobats who stroll
about the country, performing at fairs and races, in the open air. These
wanderers, and those who are still seen occasionally in the back streets
of the metropolis, are said to ‘go a-pitching;’ the spot they select for
their performance is their ‘pitch,’ and any interruption of their feats,
such as an accident, or the interference of a policeman, is said to
‘queer the pitch,’—in other words, to spoil it. Going round the
assemblage with a hat, to collect the largesses of the on-lookers, is
‘doing a nob,’ and to do this at the windows of a street, sometimes done
by one performer standing on the shoulders of another, is ‘nobbing the
glazes.’ The sum collected is the ‘nob.’

The verb ‘to fake,’ means, in the thieves’ vocabulary, to steal; but
circus men use it in a different sense, ‘faked up’ meaning ‘fixed,’
while ‘fakements’ is applied particularly to circus apparatus and
properties, and generally to moveables of any kind. ‘Letty’ is used both
as a noun and a verb, signifying ‘lodging’ and ‘to lodge.’ To abscond
from a place, to evade payment of debts, or from apprenticeship, is
sometimes called ‘doing a bunk,’ but this phrase is used by other
classes also, circus men more frequently using the phrase, ‘doing a
Johnny Scaparey,’ the last word being accented on the second syllable.
The circus is always called the ‘show;’ I have never heard it termed the
‘booth,’ which is the word which Dickens puts into the mouth of Cissy
Jupe, the little daughter of the clown of Sleary’s circus, in _Hard
Times_. Gymnasts call their performance a ‘slang,’ but I am not aware
that the term is used by other circus _artistes_. The joke or anecdote
of a clown is called ‘a wheeze,’ and he is said when engaged in that
part of his business, to be ‘cracking a wheeze.’

Balloons, banners, and garters are merely special applications to circus
uses of ordinary English terms. A balloon is a large hoop, covered with
tissue paper, held up for an equestrian _artiste_ to jump through; a
banner is a bordered cloth held horizontally, to be jumped over,—what
Albert Smith calls a length of stair carpet; and garters are narrow
bands held in the same manner, and for the same purpose. When an
equestrian fails to clear these, he is said to ‘miss his tip,’ which is
the gravest article of Childers’s impeachment of Jupe, in Dickens’s
interesting story of the fortunes and misfortunes of the Gradgrinds and
the Bounderbys. Dickens put two or three other words into the mouth of
the same member of Sleary’s company which I have never heard, and which
do not appear to be now in use. Jupe is said to have become ‘loose in
his ponging,’ though still a good ‘cackler;’ and Bounderby is reminded
sarcastically that he is on the ‘tight jeff.’ Childers explains that
‘ponging’ means tumbling, ‘cackling’ talking, and ‘jeff’ a rope.

‘Cully’ is the circus man’s equivalent for the mechanic’s ‘mate’ and the
soldier’s ‘comrade.’ ‘Prossing’ is a delicate mode of indicating a
desire for anything, as when old Ben, the drummer, in _Life in a
Circus_, says, in response to the acrobat’s exhortation to his fair
companion, to make the best of things,—‘That’s the philosophy to pitch
with! Not but what a drop of beer helps it, you know; and I declare my
throat’s that dry that it’s as much as I can do to blow the pipes.’
‘Pro’ is simply an abbreviation of ‘professional,’ and is used by all
the amusing classes to designate actors, singers, dancers, clowns,
acrobats, &c., to whom the term seems to be restricted among them.
Amongst all the amusing classes, the salary received is the ‘screw,’ the
‘ghost walks’ when it is paid, and an _artiste_ is ‘goosed,’ or ‘gets
the goose,’ when the spectators or auditors testify by sibillant sounds
disapproval or dissatisfaction. As in every other avocation, there are a
great many technical terms used, which are not to be confounded with
slang. Such is ‘the Plymouth,’ a term applied to one of the movements by
which gymnasts return to a sitting position on the horizontal bar, after
hanging from it by the hands in an inverted position. ‘Slobber swing’ is
applied to a single circle upon the bar, after which a beginner, from
not having given himself sufficient impetus, hangs by the hands. The
‘Hindoo punishment’ is what is more often called the ‘muscle grind,’ a
rather painful exercise upon the bar, in which the arms are turned
backward to embrace the bar, and then brought forward upon the chest, in
which position the performer revolves.

Having mentioned that Dickens has put some slang words into the mouths
of his circus characters, which I have not found in use among circus men
of the present day, I cannot refrain from quoting a passage in _Hard
Times_, and giving a circus man’s brief, but emphatic, commentary upon
it. Speaking of Sleary’s company, the great novelist says:—‘All the
fathers could dance upon rolling casks, stand upon bottles, catch knives
and balls, twirl hand basins, ride upon anything, jump over everything,
and stick at nothing. All the mothers could (and did) dance upon the
slack wire and the tight rope, and perform rapid acts on bare-backed
steeds.’ The circus man’s criticism of this statement, and of all the
circus business introduced into the story, was summed up in the one
word—‘Rot!’ Sleary’s people must certainly have been exceptionally
clever, so much versatility being very rarely found. There are few
clowns and acrobats who can ride, even in the ordinary, and not in the
circus acceptation of the word; and of a score of _equestriennes_ who
can ride a pad-horse, and fly through hoops and balloons, and over
banners and garters, there will not be found more than one or two who
can perform rapid acts on the bare back of a horse.

So far, also, from ‘all the mothers’ doing all the performances
mentioned by Dickens, there are more often none who do them. I call to
mind at this moment a circus in which seven of the male members of the
company were married, not one of whose wives ever appeared in the ring,
or ever had done so.

The picture of the domestic life of the men and women performing in
Sleary’s circus differs as much from reality as their versatile talents
and accomplishments differ from the powers exhibited by the riders,
clowns, and tumblers of real life. The company seems to be a rather
strong one, and most of the men have wives and children; yet the whole
of them, including the proprietor, are represented as lodging in one
house, an obscure inn in an obscure part of the outskirts of the town.
Such deviations from probability do not lessen the interest of the
story, which I have read again and again with pleasure; but they render
it of little or no value as a picture of circus life and character.
Circus men, if married, and accompanied by their wives, will generally
be found occupying private apartments. Riders and others who are
unmarried sometimes prefer to lodge in public-houses, and often have no
choice in the matter, owing to the early hours at which the inhabitants
of provincial towns retire to rest, and the unwillingness of many
persons to receive ‘professionals’ as lodgers, which applies equally to
actors and vocalists. But the Pegasus’s Arms must have had an unusual
number of apartments for a house of its class to have accommodated all
Sleary’s people, with their families; and the company must have been
gregarious in a very remarkable degree.

The dress, the manners, and the talk of circus men are peculiar, but in
none of these particulars are they at all ‘horsey,’ as all Sleary’s
company are described, unless they are equestrians, and even these are
less so than grooms and jockeys. They may be recognized by their dress
alone as readily as foreigners who have just arrived in England, and who
do not belong to those social classes that affect the latest Parisian
fashions, and in which national distinctions have disappeared. Watch the
men who enter a circus by the side-doors about eleven o’clock in the
forenoon, or walk on two or three successive mornings, between ten and
twelve, from Westminster Bridge to Waterloo Road, and you may recognize
the acrobats and rope-dancers of the circuses and music-halls by their
dress; you may meet one wearing a sealskin coat, unbuttoned, and
displaying beneath a crimson velvet vest, crossed by a heavy gold chain.
He is a ‘tip-topper,’ of course; one of those who used to get their
fifty or sixty pounds a week at the Alhambra, or who has had nuggets
thrown to him at San Francisco and Melbourne. Perhaps the next you will
meet will be a man of lower grade, wearing a brown coat, with velvet
collar, over a sealskin vest, with a brassy-looking chain festooned
across it. Another wears a drab over-coat, with broad collar and cuffs
of Astrakhan lamb-skin; an Alpine hat, with a tail-feather of a peacock
stuck in the band, is worn jauntily on his head; a pin, headed with a
gilt horse-shoe or horse’s head or hoof, adorns his fancy neck-tie; and
an Alaska diamond glistens on the fourth finger of an ungloved hand.
Further on you meet a man whose form is enveloped in a capacious blue
cloak, and whose head is surmounted by the tallest felt hat, with the
broadest brim, you have ever seen. But you are not done with these
strange people yet. You have nearly reached the end of York Road when
there issues from the office of Roberts or Maynard, the equestrian and
musical agents, a man wearing a low-crowned hat and a grey coat, braided
with black; or, it may be, a black velvet coat, buttoned across his
chest, whatever the weather may be, and ornamented with a gold chain
festooned from the breast-pocket to one of the button-holes.

This is the professional quarter of the metropolis. At least
three-fourths of what I have termed the amusing classes,
whether connected with circuses, theatres, public gardens, or
music-halls,—actors, singers, dancers, equestrians, clowns, gymnasts,
acrobats, jugglers, posturers,—may be found, in the day-time at least,
within the area bounded by a line drawn from Waterloo Bridge to the
Victoria Theatre, and thence along Gibson Street and Oakley Street, down
Kennington Road as far as the Cross, and thence to Vauxhall Bridge.
Towards the edges of this area they are more sparsely scattered than
nearer the bridges. They are well sprinkled along York Road, and in some
of the streets between the Albert Embankment and Kennington Lane they
constitute a considerable proportion of the population. You may enter
Barnard’s tavern, opposite Astley’s, or the Pheasant, in the rear of the
theatre, and find circus and music-hall _artistes_ making two to one of
the men before the bar.

They are, as a class, a light-hearted set, not remarkable for
providence, but bearing the vicissitudes of fortune to which they are so
liable with tolerable equanimity, showing a laudable desire to alleviate
each other’s ills to the utmost extent of their power, and regarding
leniently each other’s failings, without exhibiting a greater tendency
to vice than any other class. There is not much education among them, as
I have before indicated, and they are not much addicted to literature of
any kind. This seems to arise, not from any deficiency of natural
aptitude for learning, but from their wandering lives and the early age
at which they begin to practise the feats by which they are to be
enabled to live. The training of a circus rider, a gymnast, or an
acrobat begins as soon as he or she can walk. From that time they
practise every day, and they are often introduced in the ring, or on the
platform of a music-hall, at an age at which other children have not
left the nursery. They wander over the United Kingdom—Europe—the world.
The lads whom you see tumbling in one of the quiet streets between the
Strand and the Victoria Embankment one day, may be seen doing the same
performance a week or two afterwards on the sands at Ramsgate, the downs
at Epsom, or the heath at Newmarket. The equestrian or the gymnast who
amazes you at the Amphitheatre may be seen the following season at the
Hippodrome or the Circo Price. They may be met passing from one
continent to another, from one hemisphere to another, sometimes
gorgeously attired, sometimes out at elbows, but always light-hearted
and gay, excepting perhaps the clowns, who always seem, out of the ring,
the gravest and most taciturn of the race. I do not know how a moral
phenomenon of such strangeness is to be accounted for; perhaps all their
hilarity evaporates in the saw-dust, or on the boards; but I am afraid
that their humour is very often forced, their jests borrowed from the
latest collection of _facetiæ_, their merry interludes with the
ring-master rehearsed before-hand.

They are, as a rule, long-lived, and seem never to become superannuated.
Stickney died at forty, I believe; but Astley was seventy-two when he
departed this life, Pablo Fanque seventy-five, Madame Saqui eighty, and
Saunders ninety-two. Constant practice enables even gymnasts and
acrobats to continue their performances when they are far down the
decline of life; and I have seen middle-aged, and even grey-headed men,
who had been ‘pitching’ or ‘tenting’ all their lives, and could still
throw a forward somersault, or form the base of an acrobatic pyramid.
Both men and women generally marry young, but the latter go on riding or
rope-dancing until they are superseded by younger ones; and their
husbands ride, vault, tumble, or juggle, until their—

                       ———‘little life
                       Is rounded with a sleep.’

The human mind craves amusement in every phase of society, and in none
more than in that which is exemplified in the large towns of Europe and
the United States, where, and especially among the commercial and
industrial classes, the brain is in activity, the nerves in a state of
tension, from morn till eve. Released from business or labour for the
day, the nervous system requires relaxation; and if its demands are not
attended to, the strain of the day cannot long be sustained. The
entertaining classes are, therefore, a necessary element of present
society; and, in now taking leave of them, I cannot too strongly urge
upon all who may read these pages the appeal which the inimitable
Dickens has put into the mouth of Sleary: ‘People mutht be amuthed. They
can’t be alwayth a-learning, nor they can’t be alwayth a-working; they
an’t made for it. You _mutht_ have uth. Do the withe thing and the kind
thing too, and make the betht of uth; not the wutht.’ Let us indeed make
the best of our entertainers; for we owe them much.

                                THE END.





 Abbott, the clown                                                   247

 Adams, the equestrian                                            62, 86

   ”     ”  clown                                                    263

 Adrian, Miss, the equestrian                                        203

 Agouste, the juggler                                                110

 Airec, the gymnast                                                  162

 Alexander, Brothers, the acrobats                                   192

 Amburgh, Van, the lion-tamer                                89, 97, 117

    ”         ”    ”   circus proprietor                             238

 American circuses                                                   223

 Ames, the circus proprietor                                         252

 Anderson’s circus                                                   247

 Angela, the female Samson                                           231

 Arab vaulters, first in England                                      85

 Arthur and Bertrand, the clowns                                     167

 Astley, Philip, the equestrian                   17, 28, 46, 48, 51, 53

   ”    Mrs, the equestrian                                           19

   ”    John, the equestrian                          29, 33, 46, 53, 56

 Atalie, the man with the iron jaw                                   231

 Athos, Brothers, the gymnasts                                       280

 Atkins’s lion and tigress at Astley’s                                79

 Avolo, the gymnast                                                  193

 Azella, the female gymnast                                          179

 Bailey’s circus and menagerie                                       245

 Balize, the lion-performer                                          246

 Banks, the horse-charmer                                              4

 Bannister, Miss, the equestrian                                      56

    ”      the circus proprietor                                      66

 Baptiste, the rope-dancer                                            27

 Barnum, the great showman                                 221, 225, 226

 Barr, the falconer                                                  143

 Barry, the clown                                      96, 109, 118, 142

 Barry, the lyrical jester                                           212

 Barrymore, the manager                                               55

 Batty, William, the circus proprietor,                     97, 100, 138

 Bell, the acrobat                                                    34

  ”    the equestrian                                                211

  ”    and Myers’ circus                                              92

 Bellinck, the rope-dancer                                            57

 Berrington. _See_ Parelli.

 Bibb, the clown                                           192, 203, 210

 Blight, Helen, the lion-queen                                       132

 Bliss, the equestrian                                               241

 Blondin’s circus                                                     55

 Blondin, the rope-walker                                            157

 Boleno, the clown                                                    61

 Bologna Family, posturers and rope-dancers                       39, 44

 Bond, the equilibrist                                               165

 Bonnaire, the gymnast                                               153

 Bradbury the elder, the equestrian                                   55

    ”     Alfred, the equestrian                                     174

 Bridges, the rope-dancer                                             61

   ”     Amelia, the equestrian                                      142

   ”     Anthony, the equestrian                                142, 203

   ”     John, the equestrian                         111, 125, 140, 203

 Broadfoot, the equestrian manager                                   119

 Brown. _See_ Tournaire.

 Bull-fights in circuses                                         79, 107

 Bunn, the manager                                                    58

 Burgess, the vaulter and globe-performer             181, 254, 262, 275

 Burnell, the circus proprietor                                      245

 Burt, the clown                                                      22

 Campbell’s circus and menagerie                                     246

 Carl, the wire-walker                                               166

 Caroline, Madame, the equestrian                                    158

 Carr, the globe-performer                                            45

 Carré, the circus proprietor                                        181

 Carter, the lion-performer                                      90, 110

 Castelli, the gymnast                                               162

 Catawba Indians, feats of the                                        45

 Chapman, Miss, the lion-queen                                       132

 Chiarini, Beatrice, the equestrian                                  175

 Christoff, the rope-dancer                                          258

 Clark, the posturer                                                  10

 Clarke, the circus proprietor                               55, 69, 139

   ”    Miss, the rope-dancer                                     56, 97

 Clementina. _See_ Sobieska.

 Cline, the rope-dancer and ascensionist                          59, 83

 Coleman, the equestrian                                        262, 275

 Collet, the acrobat                                                  34

 Columbia, the circus proprietor                                     111

 Conquest, the manager                                               187

 Conrad, Brothers, the gymnasts                                 245, 252

 Constantine, the acrobat and posturer                                65

 Cooke, Alfred, the equestrian                                       111

   ”    Emily,    ”  ”                                               143

   ”    George, the rope-dancer                                       59

   ”    Henry Welby, the equestrian                                  143

   ”    Hubert,            ”     ”                                   192

   ”    James, the circus proprietor                                 135

   ”       ”      ”  equestrian                                      139

   ”    John Henry, the equestrian                         143, 192, 212

   ”    Thomas, the circus proprietor                   96, 98, 111, 139

   ”    William   ”      ”         ”                  139, 143, 161, 215

 Cook, Wooda, the equestrian                                         212

 Copeland, the circus proprietor                             96, 98, 139

 Corelli, the child gymnast                                          186

 Costello, the gymnast                                               166

 Costmethopila, the equestrian                                        19

 Cottrell, Miss, the equestrian                                      192

 Coup, the circus manager                                            226

 Crockett, the lion-performer                                        128

 Cross’s menagerie                                                60, 73

 Crossman, the acrobat                                    31, 34, 40, 43

 Croueste, the clown                                                 145

 Crowther, the actor                                            120, 122

 Dale, the equestrian                                           119, 139

 Darby. _See_ Fanque.

 Davis, the equestrian manager                        46, 53, 56, 58, 61

 Dawson, the acrobat                                                  22

 Dean, the equestrian                                                246

 Debach, the globe-performer                                         140

 Delavanti family, the acrobats                                      160

    ”     George, the equestrian                                     175

 Delpini, the manager and singer                                      27

 Derious, the gymnast                                                245

 Dewhurst, the clown                                        97, 100, 104

 Dubois, the clown                                                    46

 Ducrow, father of the equestrian                                     43

    ”    Andrew, the equestrian                   53, 58, 61, 79, 83, 95

    ”        ”   (the younger) equestrian                            193

    ”    Charles, the equestrian                                193, 263

    ”    John, the clown                                              86

    ”    William, the equestrian                                     241

 Dugée, the rope-dancer                                               15

 Eaton and Stone’s circus                                            126

 Ella, the equestrian                                                126

 Elliot, Brothers, the acrobats                                 143, 188

 Ellis, Brothers, the gymnasts                                       162

 Elliston, the manager                                        48, 58, 80

 Ellistria. _See_ Ellis.

 Elsler, Mdlle, the ascensionist                                143, 240

 Espagnole, La Belle, the rope-dancer                         36, 44, 46

 Fanque, Pablo, the circus proprietor         97, 99, 117, 135, 160, 192

 Farci. _See_ Ferzi.

 Farini, the gymnast                                                 186

 Fawkes, the posturer and juggler                                     12

 Ferzi, the rope-dancer                                               16

 Fish, the equestrian                                                210

 Fitzball, the hippo-dramatist                                   51, 140

 Forcer, the manager                                                   8

 Forepaugh’s circus and menagerie                                    241

 Fossett’s circus                                                    161

 Francisco, Brothers, the gymnasts                              144, 162

 Franconi, the circus proprietor                           111, 117, 121

 Franconi’s circus                                 46, 55, 136, 142, 190

 Franks, the clown                                    188, 197, 263, 275

 Fredericks, the equestrian                                          193

 French’s circus                                                     245

 Frowde, the clown                                              197, 203

 Gallot, the equestrian                                               52

 Gardner and Forepaugh’s circus and                                  241

 Garlick, the lion-performer                                         103

 Garmon, the acrobat                                              21, 27

 Geraldine, Mdlle, the gymnast                                       240

 Germani, the equestrian juggler                                     110

 Ginnett’s circus                                               146, 150

 Glee-men, Anglo-Saxon                                                 2

 Grady’s circus                                                      248

 Graham, the conjurer                                                147

 Grainger, the acrobat                                                27

 Griffin, the equestrian acrobat                                  20, 22

 Griffiths and wife, equestrians                                      19

 Grimaldi, the manager                                                26

    ”       ”  clown                                                  36

 Guillaume, the circus proprietor                                    182

    ”      Maddalena, the equestrian                                 183

 Hall, the rope-dancer                                                 8

 Handy, partner of Philip Astley                                      45

 Hanlon, Brothers, the gymnasts                                 175, 186

 Harwood, the equestrian actor                                       120

 Hassan, the vaulter                                                 146

 Haven’s, De, circus                                                 247

 Haynes. _See_ Senyah.

 Hemming, the equestrian                                             139

 Hemmings, Cooper, and Whitby’s circus                               248

 Heng, the acrobat                                                    65

 Hengler, the rope-dancer                              48, 110, 125, 195

   ”      Charles, the circus proprietor                             198

   ”      Edward Henry, the rope-dancer                              198

   ”      John Milton, the rope-dancer                          188, 195

   ”      Miss, the equestrian                        187, 192, 207, 210

 Hengler’s circus                                123, 160, 187, 192, 201

 Henry, the circus manager                                      266, 276

 Hernandez, the equestrian                                      121, 125

 Hilton, the circus proprietor                                       131

   ”      Miss, the lion-queen                                       131

 Hinné, the circus proprietor                                        111

 ” Pauline, the equestrian                                           111

 Hogini family, clowns and acrobats                        192, 203, 263

 Holloway’s circus                                                    64

 Hough, the acrobat                                                   15

 Howes and Cushing’s circus                           128, 130, 191, 204

 Hughes, the equestrian                                           23, 35

   ”       ”   circus proprietor                                 97, 216

 Huntley, the acrobat                                             21, 27

   ”       Miss, the equestrian                                       25

 Ingham, the acrobat                                                  40

 Italian Brothers, gymnasts                                     142, 144

 Jalma, Sadi, the contortionist                                      270

 Janno, the acrobat                                                   15

 Jenkins, the acrobat                                             31, 34

 Jenkinson, the acrobat                                               34

 Johnson, the equestrian                                              17

 Johnson’s circus                                                    246

 Jones, the equestrian                                                22

 Josephine, Mdlle, the equestrian                                    246

 Julien, the gymnast                                            153, 162

 Keith, the clown                                          145, 181, 190

 Kelly, the vaulter                                             225, 242

 Kemp, the pole performer                                            109

 Keys, Miss, the equestrian                                     264, 275

 King, the bottle equilibrist                                        165

 Lake’s circus                                                       247

 Lawrence, the vaulter                                                38

 Lee, James, the showman                                             131

 ” Lavater, the vaulter                                     98, 102, 104

 ” Thomas, the equestrian                                       101, 120

 Lefort, the pole-sprite                                             117

 Lent, the equestrian manager                                        252

 Leonard, the equestrian                                             101

 Leotard, the gymnast                                      153, 156, 162

 Lloyd, the equestrian                                          188, 211

 Longuemare, the ascensionist                                         57

 Lonsdale, the acrobat                                                34

 Lorenzo, the lion-performer                                         291

 Ludovic, the equestrian                                             101

 Lulu, the female gymnast                                  153, 175, 185

 Macarte, Mme, the equestrian                                        228

 Macarthy, the lion-performer                                        293

 Macomo, the lion-performer                                     129, 132

 Magilton, the gymnast                                               161

 Majilton, the hat-spinner                                      167, 229

 Manchester Jack, the lion-performer                                  89

 Manders, the menagerist                                             132

 Mariana, Signora, the rope-dancer                                    27

 Markutchy, the equestrian                                            18

 Masotta, the equestrian                                             109

    ”     Mdlle, the equestrian                                      142

 Maynard, the equestrian agent                                       257

 Mears, the gymnast                                             193, 269

 Menken, Miss, the equestrian actress                                175

 Miller, the equestrian                                               22

 Milton, the circus proprietor                                        62

 Monfroid, Mdlles, the equestrians                                    90

 Montague, the equestrian manager                               146, 191

 Morris, the acrobat                                                  65

 Mulligan, the vaulter                                                97

 Nathans, the circus proprietor                                      245

 Nemo, Brothers, the jugglers                                        170

 Nevit, the acrobat                                                   22

 Newsome, the circus proprietor             98, 107, 109, 126, 138, 159,
                                                                270, 275

    ”      ”  lion-performer                                         132

    ”     Miss Adele, the equestrian                  187, 190, 263, 275

    ”       ”    Emma,   ”     ”                                     264

    ”       ”    Marie,   ”     ”                               264, 275

 Niblo, the gymnast                                                  153

 Nomora’s feats of activity                                           16

 North, the vaulter                                                   94

   ”    the showman                                                  246

 Noyes’s circus                                                      248

 O’Donnel, the antipodean equilibrist                                 61

 O’Donnell, Miss, the equestrian                                     102

 Older’s circus and menagerie                                        247

 Olmar, the gymnast                                                  186

 Oscar, the equestrian                                               192

 Parelli, the gymnast                                                166

 Pastor, the equestrian                                              245

 Pauliere, Mdlle, the equestrian                                     231

 Payne family, the pantomimists                                      275

 Pentland, the clown                                                 252

 Pereira, Mdlle, the female gymnast                                  180

 Phillipi, the conjurer. _See_ Graham.

 Phillips, the acrobat                                                20

 Plege, the rope-dancer                                     98, 109, 117

 Polaski, the equestrian                                              97

 Porter, the acrobat                                              24, 40

 Powell, John, the equestrian                               97, 117, 125

   ”    William,   ”                                            192, 195

 Price, the equestrian                                                16

   ”    ”    vaulter                                              86, 94

     ”     Brothers, the gymnasts                               163, 255

 Price’s circus                                                      184

 Price and Powell’s circus                                           195

 Rayner, the acrobat                                      15, 21, 27, 35

   ”     the Misses, the tight-rope dancers                           15

 Redmond, the rope-performer                                    169, 171

 Richer, the acrobat and rope-dancer                      21, 27, 44, 46

 Ridgway, Brothers, the gymnasts                                     154

 Ridley, Brothers, the acrobats                            162, 263, 272

 Rivolti, the ring-master                                            211

 Rizareli, Brothers, the gymnasts                          175, 187, 246

 Roberts, the artist and scene-painter                                66

    ”     the equestrian agent                                       256

 Robinson, the equestrian                                            174

    ”       ”         ”       manager                                239

 Robinson’s, John, circus and menagerie                              248

    ”      Alexander, circus                                         247

 Romaine, Madame, the rope-dancer                                     35

 Rossi’s, Signora, feats of activity                                  16

 Ryan, the circus proprietor                                     96, 118

 Sadi Jalma, the contortionist                                       270

 Sadler, founder of the Wells                                          8

 Samee, Ramo, the juggler                                        57, 170

 Sampson, the equestrian                                              16

 Samwell’s circus                                                 64, 96

 Sandy, Little, the clown                                  192, 210, 213

 Sanger’s circus                                123, 128, 179, 188, 191,
                                                                193, 218

 Sanger, John and George, the circus                                 214

   ”    Miss, the equestrian                                         189

 Saqui, Madame, the rope-dancer                                   53, 56

 Sault, the gymnast                                                  271

 Saunders, the circus proprietor                                      49

 Saxoni, the rope-dancer                                              43

 Senyah and wife, the gymnasts                                  180, 240

 Sextillian, the acrobat and equilibrist                             168

 Simpson, the equestrian vaulter                                      12

 Smith, the equestrian                                                40

 Sobieska, the equestrian                                             24

 Soullier, the circus proprietor                                     140

   ”       Mdlle, the equestrian                                     142

 Stanfield, the artist and scene-painter                              85

 Stickney, the equestrian                           61, 63, 94, 107, 247

   ”       Robert, the equestrian                                    252

   ”       Samuel, the circus director                               246

 Stokes, the vaulter                                                  11

   ”      equestrian manager                                         160

 Stone and Murray’s circus                                           240

 Stowe’s circus                                                      248

 Strand, the lion-performer                                          132

 Talliott’s circus                                                   161

 Taylor, the equestrian                                           18, 30

 Thayer’s circus                                                     247

 Thompson, the equestrian manager                                    118

 Tournaire, the circus proprietor                                    111

     ”      Marie, the equestrian                                    246

 Townsend, the equestrian M. P.                                      151

 Tully, the acrobat                                                   27

 Twigg, the equestrian manager                                       218

 Tyers, proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens                                13

 Vangable, Miss, the equestrian                                   18, 31

 Vernon, the ring-master                                        262, 274

 Verrecke, the gymnast                                               153

 Vilderini, the posturer                                             136

 Vincent, Miss, the actress                                          122

 Vintners, the ascensionists                                          85

 Violante, the rope-walker                                            13

 Virginie, Mdlle, the equestrian                                     241

 Vivian, the ring-master                                             274

 Vokes family, the pantomimists                                      260

 Walker, the vaulter and rope-dancer                            101, 104

 Wallett, the clown and posturer              64, 96, 98, 118, 135, 145,

 Ward’s circus                                                       247

 Warner, the circus proprietor                                       242

   ”    Annie, the equestrian                                        246

 Watson, Lucille, the equestrian                                231, 253

 Watson’s circus                                                     247

 Wells and Miller’s circus                                            96

 Welsh. _See_ Price, Brothers.

 West, the equestrian manager                                         61

 Wheal, the clown                                                    142

 Wheeler and Cushing’s circus                                        246

 White, the lion-performer                                           110

 Whittayne, the clown                                                182

 Whitton, the acrobat                                                 65

 Widdicomb, the ring-master                                           87

 Williams, the acrobat                                                15

    ”       ”  jester                                                210

    ”       ”  vaulter                                                63

 Willio, the contortionist                                           154

 Wilson’s circus                                                     246

 Wombwell, the menagerist                                             74

 Wooler’s letter to Elliston                                          81

 Woolford, Miss, the rope-dancer                                  59, 87

 Young, Miss, the rope-walker                                        157

 Zamezou, the acrobat                                           257, 263

 Zebras at Astley’s                                                   79


                     JOHN CHILDS AND SON, PRINTERS.


                           Transcriber’s Note

On p. 40, the transcription of an advertisement refers to ‘fricapee’
dancing, which is likely a misprint for ‘fricassee’, which appears later
in the same advertisement and is, it seems, an old French folk dance.
The apparent error has been allowed to stand.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions.

  71.20    shall the fool reply, “Then I do,[’/”]         Replaced.
  307.28   The sum collected is the  ‘nob.[’]             Added.

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