Play List:

1. The Rath Boys

2. The Witchfinder

3. A Madcap Prince

4. Corinne

5. The Queen of Connaught

6. The Nine Days’ Queen

7. The Mormons

8. The Shadow of the Sword

9. Lucy Brandon

10. Storm-Beaten

11. Lady Clare

[Flowers of the Forest]

12. A Sailor and His Lass

13. Bachelors

14. Constance

15. Lottie

16. Agnes

17. Alone in London

18. Sophia

19. Fascination

20. The Blue Bells of Scotland

21. Partners

22. Joseph’s Sweetheart

23. That Doctor Cupid

24. Angelina!

25. The Old Home

26. A Man’s Shadow

27. Theodora

28. Man and the Woman

29. Clarissa

30. Miss Tomboy

31. The Bride of Love

32. Sweet Nancy

33. The English Rose

34. The Struggle for Life

35. The Sixth Commandment

36. Marmion

37. The Gifted Lady

38. The Trumpet Call

39. Squire Kate

40. The White Rose

41. The Lights of Home

42. The Black Domino

43. The Piper of Hamelin

44. The Charlatan

45. Dick Sheridan

46. A Society Butterfly

47. Lady Gladys

48. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown

49. The Romance of the Shopwalker

50. The Wanderer from Venus

51. The Mariners of England

52. Two Little Maids from School

53. When Knights Were Bold


Short Plays

Other Plays

Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America

Poetry Readings





The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search


12. A Sailor and His Lass (1883) - continued


The Referee (21 October, 1883 - pp.2-3)


“GOOD NIGHT!” is, I believe, the customary salute between friends who, having met and passed an evening at the theatre, are leaving and parting and going home. After the first performance of “A Sailor and his Lass,” in five acts and seventeen tableaux, at Drury Lane on Monday, the “Good night!” was changed to “Good morning!” Just fancy a manager in his right senses keeping his patrons waiting for the end of a new play until a quarter of an hour after midnight!. Why, such a policy as this is positively suicidal. Have I not pointed out, times without number, that the majority of those who patronise our theatres have business to attend to early in the day, and that consequently they like to be in their beds by a decent hour at night; and that to give them the impression that if they visit a certain theatre they will run the risk of being kept from their pillows until at least two o’clock in the morning, is to cause them to stay away altogether? What is the use of my preaching away in the interests of managers if they turn a deaf ear? Does my dear friend Gussy really think that the few thousands who turned out in the pitiless, pelting rain and faced the howling blasts on Tuesday morning blessed him, and went away to advise their friends to give him their patronage? I don’t.

     Some very cruel things have been written about the new production, and, remembering that critics are but mortal, I am inclined to think that their wrath would have been moderated wonderfully had they been allowed to set their pens going before one o’clock in the morning. A fellow who has had to sit for four hours and a half in a theatre, and who then is compelled to go to work instead of going to bed, can’t be expected to be in the very best of tempers.

     “A Sailor and his Lass,” by Robert Buchanan and Augustus Harris, is a very mixed lot, such as in an auctioneer’s catalogue would be described as “various.” It is a jumble of “sensations,” some new, some old, but half of them, or nearly half, altogether unnecessary, and only serving to obscure the plot and to destroy what interest there was in the story the authors set themselves to tell. There is superfluous talk as well as superfluous sensation; and such an indulgence in trivialities, with the result of spinning out time and taxing the patience of a good-natured audience, never was known. Take a big chopper at once, Gussy, and without heeding Buchanan’s protests, settle that agitator who makes a long-winded and silly speech in the very first act; hack away at that dynamite factory until it no longer exists; kill, if you like, that burly policeman—that “helmet, great coat, and a bit of padding,” as you call him—who steals the boy’s biscuit; slaughter every one of those fat and flaring harlots who disgrace themselves and the stage in that Ratcliff-highway saloon; destroy that “Street in London by Moonlight,” and spare our nerves the shock of another explosion; and please don’t forget to lay low the chaplain who conducts Harry Hastings to the foot of the gallows; the scoundrel who is so eager to hoist that black flag—and, indeed, to get rid of all that ghastly paraphernalia of a private execution, which on Monday about midnight sent a thrill of disgust through your house. Do all this, and, believe me, you will have a much better and a much more wholesome play, and one that, in spite of all that has been said, may yet bring you back a good return for your evidently vast outlay, and perhaps a little bit over, to console you for your losses in the interests of “Freedom.”

Mr. Binns, the new-fledged hangman, thinks that Gus needs castigation
     For putting gallows business on the stage.
“What right has he,” thinks Binns, “to interfere with my vocation?”
     And Bartholomew has reason for his rage.
Methinks in this connection Gussy shows some diminution
     Of his former business faculty and nous;
But though he on his stage portrays a private execution,
     May he ne’er have executions in his house.

     My readers by this time know as much as they desire to know of the story of “A Sailor and his Lass,” and could tell how old Farmer Morton, deceived by Richard Kingston, kills the squire he imagines has seduced his daughter Esther, Kingston himself being guilty; how Kingston shields the farmer and accuses the young sailor, Harry Hastings, now off to sea, taking Esther with him; how on his return, after all sorts of adventures, he is arrested, tried, and condemned; and how he is saved by the confession of the farmer, who, learning the truth, dies in his denunciations of the arch-villain of the play.

     Very well, then. Knowing the story, you won’t want me to repeat it, and I shall confine my attention to other matters. I should like you to imagine Augustus Harry Hastings Harris hugging Harriett Mary Morton Jay in the first scene, where are a farmhouse and fruit garden and a real live cow. Such hugging surely never before was seen upon the stage or off if. Gussy was quite aware that Mrs. H. was at home with her own darling little baby girl, just brought into the world, and—naughty boy!—he hugged with all his might. Worse than that, he actually sat down with his “lass” to conjure up the time when they would have a baby. I think he wanted this one to be a boy. Dreadful, wasn’t it? And yet already Gussy was being applauded and encouraged, for his enthusiasm was caught by the house, who already saw in him a hero.

     And a hero he proved. He was ready to risk life and limb at any moment in the cause of virtue. Certainly he was rash to the verge of silliness, and brought a good many of his troubles on his own head through being such an idiot; but, then, if he hadn’t been rash he wouldn’t have been such a hero as he was. I didn’t tremble for his fate a little bit when he ventured to face a dynamiter howling—as only Mr. Charles Sennett can howl—for blood, because I knew he would come out all right again; but I really do think that instead of bullying that policeman he might have told him what he had seen and heard, and that he was a very noodle to go to sea when he found the conspirators whom he had discovered “up to no good” were to be entrusted with the working of the ship.

     And what a remarkable ship this is! You can open its sides right down to the water’s edge, but it won’t sink until the stage manager gives the signal, and even then it goes down slowly and with dignity, as though trying to atone for its ugliness and to apologise for being so unlike any ship that ever was built.

     Of all the wonderful things Harris does on board this ship I told you in my last, and it is only necessary to say now that the business on the crosstrees of the sunken Albatross—you have doubtless seen the pictures in the shop windows—made the spectators frantic with excitement and delight. I was quite prepared to lay long odds that Gus would not be executed after trial and conviction, and I should have won, for that gruesome warder never got a chance of hoisting his hideous black flag. Harry Jackson, provided with a horse that could win the Derby if the Derby were run in “four-wheelers,” was in time with a reprieve, and the sailor was allowed once more to hug his sweetheart.

     Gus, considering his age, played with wonderful vigour throughout. Through four acts he was all fire, fret, fuss, fury, fervour, and fever; but in one part, at least, of the fifth, he showed that he knew the value of repose, and so avoided over-gesticulation. I refer to the scene where he is found pinioned by the rival to Bartholomew Binns, and on his way to the scaffold. The general opinion was that Gussy’s best effort was in the condemned cell over the Black-eyed Susan business.

     Harry Jackson rendered incalculable service to the piece as Downsey, the ancient cabby with a good heart and a mouthful of lies. He swore hard and fast that he had once taken a fare from the Marble Arch to York, and, instead of reproaching him, the audience roared. Indeed, cabby was considered rare fun, and I verily believe he was most liked when he was heard holding up to ridicule law and order, as represented by a policeman. he was evidently following the pernicious example set by his master in Scene 2 of the second act. Harry Nicholls cut a very comical figure throughout. The authors hadn’t troubled themselves about art—why should he? He meant to score, and score he did, without being particular about the means. James Fernandez made a grand effort just as everybody was beginning to yawn, and in the fifth act, by a magnificent bit of declamation indulged in by poor old Farmer Morton at the expense of the villain, fairly electrified the house, and brought up a hurricane of applause. Henry George as the villain, Harriett Jay as the Sailor’s “Lass,” Sophie Eyre as the good girl gone wrong, Clara Jecks as the boy who cries for his biscuit, Paget Fairleigh as a comic Irish sentinel, are all deserving of honourable mention.

     The scenery, by Emden, Grieve, Perkins, and Ryan, is magnificent, and somebody merits praise for a wonderfully realistic storm in the second act. There were something like “effects” here, and the audience cheered the falling of the rain, quite forgetful of the fact that they would have to face the real outside. The lightning was wonderful, but some of the thunder was bad—thundering bad.

     As usual, I must tell you of a few of the things that struck me as being most comical. No. 1. Gussy telling us how, when up aloft and listening to the skipper reading prayers, he would think of his lass. (Telephonic communication on board his ship, of course.) No. 2. Gus inviting the discarded Esther Morton to be comforted by the assurance that she should have a ride in his four-wheeled cabby. No. 3. The bare back of a well-known actress, which formed an interesting study for me during the long waits. No. 4. The scene which showed the hostelry of Mr. John Cox in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, right opposite to a dancing saloon at Wapping. No. 5. Wilford Morgan, towering head and shoulders above everybody else in the stalls. No. 6. Miss M. A. Victor producing a child’s caul for Sophie Eyre’s little boy to wear at sea. (This gave rise to no end of jokes about Sophie Eyre taking her caul; about the youngster being a caul boy, and so on.) No. 6. That ship. No. 7. Gussy getting mixed over “Carrots” and Clara Jecks. (This was it: “A stowaway! Why, it’s the boy I assisted on the quay. Never mind, my lass, don’t be afraid. Now go back to your hiding-place, my lord—my lad.” Over this I thought I should have had a fit.) No. 8. Gus taking a call at the end of the third act, with the baby in his arms. No. 9. The Sheriff of Middlesex knocking at Newgate with his knuckles. No. 10. Harry Jackson’s looking-glass, through which you could see the pattern of the paper on the walls of his swell furnished apartments. No. 11. Harry Jackson trying to make us believe that a cabman wears his badge (6, 960) when at home; and—well, please, sir, I don’t know no more.

     So much for what took place at Old Drury on Monday night. The young lessee has, I am pleased to say, profited by that lengthy evening’s experiences, and “A Sailor and his Lass” has been very much improved in consequence. I looked in on Friday night to see if first impressions in any way needed correction, and found the house full, the big show running smoothly and well, and the pit and gallery enthusiastic. That there is still a good deal of Harris in the play goes perhaps without saying; but I am bound to admit that the audience on Friday night didn’t seem to like it any the worse on that account. Quite the contrary, in fact. Various judicious compressions have been made. The Central Criminal Court, with its terrible show of judge and jury and counsel, and other curiosities, has been lopped out bodily, and Act IV. plays all the closer in consequence. One very important result of this use of the pruning-knife is that “A Sailor and his Lass” is now over every night by ten minutes past eleven. Intending visitors from the suburbs will therefore have plenty of time to catch their trains.

     A very noteworthy and excellent feature of this production is the appropriate music sweetly discoursed during the entr’actes. Mr. Oscar Barrett’s exceptionally fine orchestra doubtless forms a heavy item in the managerial outlay; but to my thinking the money is well laid out. In these days of heavy “sets” occasional long waits are unavoidable, and it is above all things necessary to keep your audience in a good temper during the intervals. The Drury Lane orchestra fulfils this purpose to the admiration of all hearers.



Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper (21 October, 1883 - p.12)



     The most inveterate lovers of sensation found themselves surfeited on Monday, when the new drama compounded by Robert Buchanan and Augustus Harris, although commenced at a quarter to eight, did not conclude until ten minutes after midnight. In the anxiety to provide an exciting entertainment, the whole thing had been overdone. The story of A Sailor and His Lass is simple enough—being confined to the clearing of the nautical hero from false charge of murder fastened upon him by a villain—but the surrounding incidents, which engaged the services of thirty-eight characters and occupied five acts and seventeen scenes, proved well-nigh bewildering. Act 1 presents a picture of agricultural discontent, leading up through much mischievous plotting to the deliberate murder of a young squire by a farmer. Aided by the villain who has prompted the crime, the assassin succeeds in escaping suspicion, though he is drawn into further evil courses. In the second act he is seen as the tool of a Dynamite gang, being made the instrument for causing an explosion exactly resembling that which took place at the offices of the Local Government Board. This, however, has nothing to do with the real plot, any more than a painfully realistic picture of low life among the degraded women of Ratcliff Highway. A shipwreck in the open sea, arranged on a most elaborate scale, forms a great feature of the third act, which includes also a lighthouse scene and a struggle in the rigging of the sunken ship. After escaping all these perils of the deep, the hero returns to undergo fresh troubles ashore. He no sooner appears to claim his lass than he is cast into prison, found guilty, and condemned to death for the murder of the squire. The interior of the Old Bailey brings the fourth act to a close, and the fifth shows the Sailor in the condemned cell, from which he marches pinioned to the gallows, a reprieve arriving only at the very last moment. It will be seen that there is no single element of novelty in the plot, and the manner in which it was presented did not atone for the deficiency. Much of the business was crude in the extreme, while the mounting, despite the elaborate display, suggested undue haste and consequent confusion. The chief honours of the acting were carried off by Mr. Harry Jackson, who made an admirable study of a comic cabman. Mr. Fernandez, when opportunity served, played with marked intensity as the farmer overwhelmed by remorse. Under more favourable circumstances Mr. Augustus Harris will do himself far greater justice as Harry Hastings than was possible on the first night. He made a bluff and kindly-hearted sailor, who carries the sympathy of the audience entirely with him. The part of the lass is not a strong one, and Miss Harriet Jay failed to make it impressive. Extended as was the first night’s performance, the reception was a good one, and with ruthless compression there is hope for the piece obtaining a run.



The Edinburgh Evening News (22 October, 1883 - p.2)


     Although (says a London correspondent) Mr Robert Buchanan’s new play “The Sailor and His Lass” has been received with scant favour by one section of the critics, Mr Augustus Harris is quite satisfied with the result, and on Saturday night he stated that money was turned away from all parts of the house. Some slight changes have been made. The trial scene at the Old Bailey has been bodily cut out, and the play has been shortened by about an hour. A considerable amount of good-humoured “chaff” is going on at the expense of one of the most trenchant of the critics who vigorously condemned the realism of using real water for the stage rainstorm. The point of the joke is, that the real rain in question is nothing more harmful than a judicious mixture of small spangles and unboiled rice. The fat is not generally known that at the first performance of the “Sailor and his Lass” two serious dangers were narrowly averted. Early in the evening one of the dressing curtains caught fire, and the fireman losing his head, telegraphed for the engines. The message, “Drury Lane on fire,” with an audience of 4000 people known to be in the theatre, at once set the fire brigade in motion, and three engines actually arrived within as many minutes, while 15 more were on their way when they were telegraphed back. Luckily nobody in the audience knew anything about it. The second danger was in the management of the gigantic ship, which rocked so heavily that the master carpenter refused to be answerable for the supports, and the vessel was secured, unluckily stern out of water.



The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (27 October, 1883 - p.3)

     I CAN scarcely believe that Mr. Robert Buchanan is in earnest when he writes to the Standard and talks of an “organised cabal” against his play, The Sailor and His Lass. If Mr. Buchanan is sincere he is seriously mistaken. The idea of an “organised opposition” was invented a few years ago by a dramatist whose play failed, and who, after reflecting on the plot, incidents, and dialogue, could not see why. In common with the few hundreds of people that were in the theatre on the first night of the production, I could have told him, and “bad piece” would have been the explanation; but, oddly enough, from the outside point of view, this was the one thing that never occurred to the dramatist. The notion has been adopted a few times since, and now Mr. Buchanan takes it up. As a matter of fact, the reception of The Sailor and His Lass was astonishingly good. “Organised cabals” do not exist. What is more, they could not exist if members of a cabal arrived with the most malevolent designs, for the good feeling of the audience would summarily suppress them. If the flattering unction comforts Mr. Buchanan’s soul, by all means let him adopt it. It is nonsense all the same.


     WHAT, by the way, is the peculiarity of the acres which are supposed to belong to the squire in a melodrama? They are always described—vide Mr. Robert Buchanan in The Sailor and His Lass, passim—as “broad acres.” Are they broader than other acres? Because if so, what they gain in breadth they must necessarily lose in length? I mean, an acre, if it be an acre, can only contain a certain superficial area, and so no particular advantage can accrue to the possessor from the fact of it being broad. Yet there must be something exceptional in the idea of broad acres, or authors of melodrama would not insist on their breadth. I wish Mr. Buchanan, the latest supporter of the broad acre theory, would enlighten me.



The Referee (28 October, 1883 - p.3)

     Gunpowder Gus may, if so it pleases him, draw another moral from Marwood and more excuses for his execution scene from the reports of hangings that have appeared in the daily papers; but I don’t think it likely he will be in a hurry to publish another testimonial from the Rev. Mr. Pennington, brother of the well-known actors of that name, and vicar at Kensington, who, having occupied some of his time in theatrical instead of spiritual matters, has found himself landed in the Bankruptcy Court.

. . .

     More than one writer during the week has been putting it about that Gus Harris has been laughing at those critics who protested against the real water used in the Storm Scene in the second act of “A Sailor and his Lass” at Drury Lane, and that he has held them up to ridicule by explaining that the real water is nothing more than a mixture of hard rice and silver spangles. The writer of “The Theatres” in the D.N. first set this going, but he, like those who followed his lead, missed the mark altogether. In the Storm Scene—with lightning, thunder, and rain—real water is undoubtedly used. The rice and spangle business comes with the Raft Scene, and is brought in to give an idea of the spray of the sea trying its hardest to wet Sophie Eyre’s legs—I suppose I may say legs without outraging the proprieties—and to make her baby cry.

     Robert Buchanan appears to be very angry with at least one of his critics. He says he—the critic—holds a hat in one hand and a bludgeon in the other, and that he alternates between sycophantic praise and savage abuse. Authors should not get angry with their critics, for critics have good memories: they don’t forget and they don’t forgive. Thank heaven I am not one of them.

     This (Saturday) evening Augustus Harris writes me to the effect that although Buchanan’s letter (containing the above statements) is addressed from Drury Lane Theatre, it was written without his (Harris’s) knowledge or consent; that he (Harris) is perfectly satisfied with the favourable notices of “A Sailor and his Lass” which have appeared; and that he (Harris) has no inclination “to enter into any discussions or old standing disputes between Mr. Buchanan and any individual members of the Press.”

     Subject for Grand Historical painting for the National (Theatre) Gallery—“Gus Harris renouncing Buchanan and all his works,” or rather letters.



The New York Times (29 October, 1883)




     LONDON, Oct. 16.—Last night the long-promised and often-postponed new “grand nautical sensation drama” of “A Sailor and His Lass,” by Robert Buchanan and Augustus Harris, was at length produced at Drury-Lane Theatre. The repeated postponement of the play was due to more than one cause. In the first place, it is got up with more than usually elaborate scenic effects, the stage “set” being extraordinarily numerous and complicated, especially in the case of a wonderfully realistic ship scene, the machinery of which fairly broke down in the course of rehearsal and had to be entirely reconstructed. Again, the Lord Chamberlain—that terrible authority who watches so carefully over the morals and politics of our stage—demurred to a proposed reproduction of the famous Fenian dynamite explosion in Charles- street, Westminster, which was to form one of the sensational features of the piece, and progress could not be made until the great affair had been so arranged as not to shock his lordship’s sense of propriety. So, Mr. Harris, after many announcements of his intention to produce the piece on a particular night, was compelled to promise the performance with the qualifying and pious reservation of “D. V.,” which irreverent persons have translated as meaning, “If the Lord Chamberlain and the machinist are willing.” However, the great censor of the stage is at last pacified and the Deus ex machinâ has at length allowed the ship to be launched, and so the new Drury-Lane venture has been started on what promises to be a fairly prosperous career.
     The joint composition of “A Sailor and his Lass” is the outcome of a practice long in vogue on the French stage but until lately not so common in England. Somehow or other our dramatic authors have failed to appreciate the advantages of collaboration. Each has preferred to work “on his own hook,” scorning all assistance, and the result has often been failure where success might have been assured. Nevertheless, in a few instances in the past collaboration, either avowed or concealed, has really had the happiest effects. The late Mr. Tom Taylor, for instance, probably never produced a more successful or charming play than “New Men and Old Acres,” which he wrote in conjunction with Mr. Augustus Dubourg, while Mr. James Albery’s happiest effort, “Two Roses,” is believed to have owed its great success mainly to the assistance he received from a judicious stage manager. It is indeed the opinion of our best critics that the dearth of really good acting plays from which we have so long been suffering has been due to the want of a solid experience of stage effect united to literary ability, and these are faculties not often combined in one and the same person. Even a clever novice working with a good practical stage manager may turn out a better play than a man of the greatest literary skill rejecting such help. Of this we have had several examples of late years. Mr. Brandon Thomas, a young and untried author, working with Mr. C. B. Stephenson, a sound old stager, produced a capital play in “Comrades,” and “The Silver King,” one of the greatest hits of our time, is, as every one knows, the joint production of Mr. H. A. Jones, a comparatively new man, and Mr. Henry Herman, an excellent practical stage manager. Nor are even the most distinguished of our literary dramatists now above calling in the help of men experienced in what I may term “stage carpentry.” Thus Mr. Charles Reade not long ago condescended to work with such a thoroughly practical man as Mr. Henry Pettitt, and the joint outcome of their labors was an excellent piece “Love and Money.” Mr. Pettitt, again, has lately been co-operating with Mr. George R. Sims, and the two between them have turned out “In the Ranks,” which is playing at the Adelphi to literally overflowing houses. In the course of a few weeks, too, we shall have at the Princess’s a new piece by Mr. W. G. Wills and Mr. Henry Herman, and meanwhile we find that Mr. Robert Buchanan, who has never, except perhaps in the case of his “Storm-Beaten” at the Adelphi, achieved any marked success on the stage, going into partnership with Mr. Augustus Harris, and composing a play which, with all its faults, at any rate is something that Mr. Buchanan never produced on his own account, a good acting drama.
     I had the privilege of being one of a small audience of some 20 or 30 persons invited to witness a “dress rehearsal” of the new play at Drury-Lane on Saturday night, and the performance under these conditions was equally instructive and amusing. It was instructive, inasmuch as such a trial should teach the captious critic how great are the difficulties with which the most painstaking of managers have to contend, difficulties which can only be appreciated by actually seeing the efforts made to overcome them. It was amusing, as the process of preparation, presenting the performances in their two- fold capacity as, so to speak, public and private characters, give rise to the oddest incongruities. Then Mr. Augustus Harris, the manager, upon whom the whole weight of the work of getting up and directing the performance devolves, plays in the piece the part of a gallant young sailor who is always rescuing people in distress, and who by the machinations of a band of villains is accused of murder, tried, and condemned to death. To give some idea how matters go at a dress rehearsal in these circumstances, let me describe some of the incidents as I witnessed them, premising that Mr. Augustus Harris, with that conscientiousness which always distinguishes him, “acts” as energetically at a rehearsal with only a couple of dozen spectators before him as he does on “the night” to a crowded house. The scene is a court of justice, the barristers assembled in their wigs and gowns and the public gathered to hear the trial. The prisoner guarded by wardens is placed in the dock. A subdued murmur passes through the court. “Louder, louder,” cries the prisoner, “make more noise! You are ready enough to make a row when it is not wanted and now no one can hear you. Now louder!” The buzzing in court being at last loud enough to satisfy the accused man, the jury enter, a shabby, feeble- looking lot certainly. “Now then,” exclaims this extraordinary prisoner, “don’t come sneaking in like that. Hold your heads up and let everybody see you. Then go back and come in again.” But this is nothing to the gross contempt of court of which the prisoner is guilty when the Judges themselves make their appearance. Fancy a man standing manacled in the dock with the weight of the most terrible of charges crushing him down, addressing the great and dignified functionaries who are about to try him for his life in this wise: “That won’t do! That won’t do! You haven’t to hide yourselves under those desks. You have got to sit behind them. Go back, go back! All over again!” And so the ermined Judges, at the bidding of this bold prisoner, sneak out of court and return in a manner with which he at last expresses himself satisfied. The scene changes. It is the condemned cell, and the prisoner sits alone, heartbroken, unjustly doomed to die. Presently the Governor of the jail enters. The condemned man rises respectfully. “I have come to tell you, Harry Hastings,” says the Governor, “that—that”— “You cannot hope for mercy,” whispers a voice in the distance. “Yes—that you cannot hope for mercy. Your time is short—let me abjure you—” “No, no,” breaks in the unhappy prisoner, “conjure you, man; conjure you.” “Yes—I beg pardon—conjure you to make your peace with Heaven.” Here the Governor, overcome by emotion or loss of memory, breaks down, the prisoner orders him to leave the cell, and a gentleman with a manuscript in his hand comes in and delivers the last touching words of the officer of the law. How the condemned man escapes from jail and actually appears in the street outside the walls of the prison in which he is to be hanged, and bullies the Sheriffs who have arrived to superintend his execution; how he goes into agonies of wrath because they will not toll the bell that announces his impending doom, and how, being apparently recaptured, he is pinioned and led toward the scaffold, yet interferes in the most audacious manner with every detail of the last dismal preparations for his own death, I need not describe. Seriously, Mr. Harris worked as hard as manager ever did to secure the success of his play, and he well deserved the enthusiastic applause of a crowded audience which last night rewarded his efforts.
     It is hardly necessary to say more about the plot of the piece than may be gathered from what I have said already,  for, to tell the truth, the story, though exciting enough, is not particularly novel. It is little more than a peg whereon o hang a series of sensational scenes, and the literary skill of Mr. Robert Buchanan does not conspicuously shine in it. The scenic effects, however, are for the most part very striking, and in some instances original. Nothing, for example, went better than the real shower of rain in the second act, while the dynamite explosion behind the scenes, accompanied by a tremendous fall of broken glass from the windows of the houses on the stage, duly impressed the audience. The great ship scene, the working of which had given so much trouble, hardly repaid the pains bestowed upon it. The vessel, a  two-masted bark, was very solidly built up, and by means of a movable side the cabins and banks, and what was going on in them, were exhibited, as well as the action on deck. But I am afraid that if its details had been criticised by an expert—say, Mr. Clark Russell, the “Seafarer” of the Daily Telegraph—it would not have been found above reproach. Sails do not flap idly against the mast when a ship is bowling along before a fresh breeze, nor is a vessel wholly stationary when a rough sea is rolling beneath her. The piece is played in that robust, energetic style which Mr. Harris seems to have imported from the south side of the Thames, and which has a multitude of admirers even on our more fastidious northern shores. Mr. Harris himself is the life and soul of the play, and acts with an earnestness as the gallant young sailor which is simply irresistible.



The Theatre (1 November, 1883)

Our Play-Box.


By ROBERT BUCHANAN and AUGUSTUS HARRIS. First produced at the Theatre Royal,
Drury Lane, Monday, October 15, 1883.

Harry Hastings         ...    ...    Mr. Augustus Harris
Walter Carruthers    ...    ...    Mr. William Morgan
Richard Kingston     ...    ...    Mr. Henry George
Michael Morton       ...    ...    Mr. James Fernandez
Mary Morton          ...    ...    Miss Harriet Jay
Esther                     ...    ...    Miss Sophie Eyre
Barby                      ...     ...     Miss Lillie Young
Bob Downey           ...    ...    Mr. Harry Jackson
Green                      ...    ...    Mr. Harry Nicholls
Ben Armstrong        ...    ...    Mr. John Ridley
Captain of the “Albatross”       Mr. A. C. Lilly
Mrs. Downsey         ...     ...     Miss M. A. Victor
Carrots                    ...     ...     Miss Clara Jecks
Bradley                    ...     ...     Mr. Charles Sennett
Hurt                         ...     ...     Mr. Arthur Chudleigh
Connell                    ...     ...     Mr. Bruton
Larry O’Brien          ...     ...     Mr. Paget Fairleigh
Master of Ceremonies     ...    Mr. Frank Parker
Black Waiter           ...    ...    Mr. G. OKill

Polly                        ...     ...     Mrs. Lennox
Susan                    ...    ...    Miss Cissy St. George
Policeman                ...     ...     Mr. Mayston
Jew Slopseller         ...    ...    Mr. Sloman
Landlord                 ...    ...    Mr. C, Johnson
Boy                        ...    ...    Master Smith
Lighthouse Keeper  ...    ...    Mr. George Gillett
Polly                        ...     ...     Mrs. Barrett
Judge                      ...    ...    Mr. C. Douglas
Clerk of the Arraigns ...    ...     Mr. Nicholson
Foreman of Jury        ...     ...     Mr. Phipps
Police Inspector       ...    ...    Mr. Stevens
Governor of Newgate      ...    Mr. Villiers
Smith                        ...     ...     Mr. B. H. Bentley
Chaplain                   ...     ...     Mr. C. Johnson
Sheriff                      ...    ...    Mr. Lewis
Coffee-stall-Keeper ...    ...    Mr. Arthur Chudleigh
First Masher             ...     ...     Miss Addie Grey
Mary Brown             ...     ...     Miss Emily Clare

THE dramatic life and adventures of Mr. Augustus Harris are little short of miraculous. His appetite for adventure, his thirst for gore, his love of danger, difficulty, and dynamite are seemingly unquenchable; and living (dramatically) as he does in a seething whirlpool of criminal commotion and “effects,” there is good ground for fear that the result on the actor-manager may be of a disastrous nature. In fact, it is high time to check his boisterous career, for this last Drury Lane monstrosity is really too much for us. When Mr. Harris some years back assumed the management of what he is pleased to call the National Theatre, he felt the pulse of the public, and pretty accurately diagnosed the very low state of the public taste requiring sensation, outrage, and noisy nonsense. He accordingly produced “The World,” in which, with commendable accuracy, he played a villain. He then entered on a wild course of extravagance. He is a born stage- manager, and a master of mechanism. He has, moreover, a power of ludicrously audacious advertisement that tickled the public taste; and so he piled up horror upon horror in the series of bombastic pantomimes that he is pleased to call plays, and the public liked the horrors, and meekly, indeed cheerfully, swallowed them. Unfortunately, Mr. Harris was not content to be a king among melodramatic managers. He insisted on becoming both author and actor; and the result is that we have first protested, then laughed, then growled, and now are almost seriously sulky.
     Mr. Harris’s villain was a clever thing; but in an evil moment he took to heroes, and his heroes, with their flaunting valour and eternal generous manliness, are very irritating—their virtue is at times insufferable. Of recent days Mr. Harris has posed as the hearty, cheery, British sailor—fighting, roving, squabbling, rescuing damsels, bearding wicked folk of various types in their respective lairs, and being, at proper intervals, either shipwrecked or shot at—to his heart’s  content. Of this type is the hero of “A Sailor and his Lass,” who bears a strong likeness to the Bold Boy Buccaneer” or “Young Pirate” of the juvenile penny novelette. Indeed, the whole play might be re-christened “The Daring Adventures of Harry Hastings, profusely illustrated, with full-page coloured Supplement. A piece of poetry by Shakespeare and other authors given away with each chapter. Complete in five parts.” And its chapter-scheme would run some way thus:—
     ACT I.  “How Harry woos and wins Mary Morton in an orchard—the murder—the criminal grandpapa—Harry smashes the villain, and flies to London in a four-wheel cab. Original couplet given away with this chapter.”—[Notes by reviewer. Flimsy sentiment and a real cow. Miss Sophie Eyre excellent as a “wronged sister” of the “Promise of May” type. Mr. Jackson’s conservative comic cabman very healthy.]
     ACT II. “Harry’s daring deeds with the Dynamiters!—how he has tea with the cabman, takes compassion on Carrots and goes to sea. Terrible scene of midnight orgie in Ratcliff Highway (illustrated in colours). Given away with this chapter a box, containing an explosion that has nothing on earth to do with the adventures of Harry, and kills nobody, and may be safely used by the young of both sexes, also a passage from “Macbeth.” How the villain ships a criminal crew on board the good ship Albatross. Mary’s misery.—[Notes by reviewer. Mr. Nicholls amusing as a comic conspirator. Miss Clara Jecks’ Carrots a charming vignette. Mr. Ryan’s “The Docks” a capital cloth. Real rain, real horse, everything real save Harry. Quite evident that Mr. Buchanan has written a drama called “Macbeth” for himself, as the late William Shakspeare never wrote anything about “secret, black and midnight shapes”—why shapes? is it Buchanese for “hags?”]
     ACT III.  “Harry at sea on the magic ship with transparent water-tight bulkheads and bulwarks—the mutiny—the stowaway—the ‘registration’ of the name of ‘the strong heroic man’ Harry—the wreck—how grandmother Grace Darling, with half-drowned Carrots and the Ancient Mariner punts out in fathoms of stormy water—how Harry heeds the baby’s cry, drowns a dynamiter, and saves the wet ‘wronged sister’ Sophie from what are evidently salt waves—how the baby takes its caul. Given away with this chapter, “the Ballad of the Stowaway.”—[Notes by  reviewer. The ship very foolish—the scene in the rigging short and excellent of its kind, the Buchanese ballad evidently not Clement Scott’s—great feeling of relief that the majority of the nasty people are drowned.]
     ACT IV. “The villain triumphant—the wronged one begins to right herself—comic conspirator begins to look mildly malignant—the tag of the trial. Given away with this chapter a full-page heartrending picture of the sad scene in the Central Criminal Court, by Grieve of course.”—[Notes We rather like the wronged one, she is picturesque in her passion.]
     ACT V.  “Crime and coffee—the murderer’s remorse—Mary Morton “evidently on the batter" before Newgate—sentiment in a snowstorm—glorious complications—the hanging of Harry—the black hour—the black  watch, and the black flag. Up with the rag. The trap-warder. ‘Are you ready? Pull!’ ‘No!’ ‘Yes!’ The reprieve. Hurra for Harry! The end.” Given away, “A London poem.”
     In all seriousness, this last act is very, very bad. The action shifts about uneasily, the tender adieu in the condemned cell is prolonged, mawkish, and, as far as “Harry” was concerned, was on the first night superbly inaudible. The act was saved by Mr. Fernandez’s one moment of earnest acting in his confession. It was not really a very great effort. I have seen him do far better in the memorable scene in Mr. Wills’s “Ninon,” but it stood out from the gloomy atmosphere of bathos and bosh that pervades the last act, and the actor deserved the recognition of his effort that was thundered down to him by a long-suffering house. Of the rest of the long caste that has been collected above from a somewhat complicated programme, I thought that Miss Jay played the heroine over-romantically, at moments dangerously so. Mr. George’s villain was consistent and sound; his voice is strong, and his bearing emphatic. Excellent in their respective forms of melodramatic clowning were Mr. Harry Jackson and Mr. Harry Nicholls—portions of this play are full of Harrys; and Mr. Sennett’s mysterious dynamiter, Miss Victor’s Mrs. Downsey, the motherly spouse of the comic cabman with severe notions of propriety, and Mr. Lilly’s Captain, were all clever studies. Mr. Oscar Barrett’s introduced music makes the play at moments operatic, and concerning Mr. Harris I will say no more. His pluck, enterprise, and managerial skill and ingenuity I admire; but it is my painful case that I never could, and never will, admire his heroes or his method of acting.
     Touching the question raised by the critics, and recently replied to by Mr. Buchanan, as regards the “revolting realism” of the last act, I would point out that in all the details of the last scene not a word is said, not a line introduced, until the girl rushes on with the reprieve, and that consequently the scene is, to use Mr. Buchanan’s own words, “a representation of revolting details, unillumined by imagination, and untempered by art.”
     With all due respect to Mr. Buchanan, “Art with a big A” revolts against these “effects” without a single streamlet of humanity running through them. Terence complained of the people who deserted his plays to see the rope-dancers, and we are forgetting dramatic art in our hurry to see hangings, and shipwrecks, and glory of gunpowder, and mechanical ships, and it’s high time all this should stop. Quo usque tandem? Shall we dramatise the Deluge or the Apocalypse?



The Freemason (3 November, 1883 - p.12)

     We chronicled last week an Adelphi triumph, and it is now our duty to speak of another Drury Lane triumph, for to this category “A Sailor and his Lass” undoubtedly belongs. Yet there are certain parts in it with which we cannot harmonise, and we hope later on to see eliminated. The authors, Bro. Harris and Mr. Buchanan will hardly lay claim to the new drama having any connected story running through it; rather is it a series of scenes more or less thrilling with a story hanging on to them. We do not know how much of the drama is from the pen of Bro. Augustus Harris, but we should say, and probably without much mistake, that it is nearly all his work. We must say we prefer Bro. Harris in his capacity as stage manager far more than as either actor or author. As a manager we almost think him without an equal. “A Sailor and his Lass” seems almost written for Bro. Harris to show himself as a great hero always ready to succour the oppressed and to suffer himself if needs be, though in the long run virtue is triumphant and vice pays it homage. Bro. Harris has the drama nearly all to himself from beginning to end. It is true a cabman figures pretty prominently, and in the hands of Mr. Harry Jackson is very comic, and a relief to the tragic portions. Harry Hastings is a sailor, and, like all sailors, loves a lass; but she is loved by another; of course a villain of the deepest dye. Curiously enough, Harry Hastings has made this gentleman his bosom friend. This man Kingston has a cousin, one Carruthers, the young squire, who also loves Mary Morton, but he disappears in the first act. Kingston has ruined Mary’s half-sister, Esther, and gets her father to believe that the betrayer of his daughter is the young squire. The old farmer, Morton, in a fit of hot blood, sees young Carruthers calling for Mary and strikes a fatal blow. Kingston comes on the scene, and as he wanted his cousin out of the way he is delighted to find him dead, and tells old Morton he will, to save him, swear that the young squire was murdered by Harry Hastings. Kingston tells Mary Morton that her lover is a murderer, and that he must keep out of the country if he wishes to keep from a felon’s cell. Having got rid of his two rivals he thinks he will be able to win Mary’s love. He employs a young man who has taken up with a dynamite party to follow Hastings. This Green disguises himself as a sailor, gets engaged as one of the crew of the “Albatross,” and has bound himself to take Hastings’ life when the ship is on the high seas. But a stowaway has overheard the arrangements for the murder, and warns Hastings. The ship is presently wrecked. Hastings escapes after undergoing great hardships and hairbreadth escapes and arrives home at the moment Kingston is entreating Mary Morton to love him; assuring her her old lover is dead. Of course Kingston has Hastings arrested on the charge of murder; he is tried, condemned, and the last act shows the condemned cell in Newgate. On the morning of the execution the sheriffs are shown into the cell, the convict is pinioned, a procession of the chaplain, the sheriffs, and warders of the prison is formed, when a violent pull at the bell is heard; the gate is opened, a pardon handed in, though the warder thinks it too late, but is just in time. Hastings is released and Kingston arrested. This act we think might well be omitted. The life of a man after he is condemned for murder, whether guilty or innocent, is too horrible to be portrayed on the stage. We have the chaplain begging the unhappy man to confess his guilt; he, on the other hand, begging the chaplain not to torture him, as he has enough to bear already. Then the pinioning before he is led out to the scaffold, and the funeral procession of gaol officials, and the tolling of the bell of St. Sepulchre’s Church. Fortunately the scaffold itself is not shown, but we think the end might be depicted in some other way. Bro. Harris now states that his object in this exhibition is to further the movement for the abolition of capital punishment. To this also we must take exception. It will be a pity if the stage is going to take up such questions. They are best left to the Houses of Parliament. During his career, Hastings rescues a young woman from an outraged father; he discovers the manufactory of dynamite, and gets inside and out in an extraordinary manner; he defends himself against a number of mutineers on board ships; hands his buoy to the stowaway and himself takes to the rigging, and is attacked by a villain whilst on the rigging of the sinking ship and throws him off into the sea. To few men come such fearful events. We have said the plot is rather thin, and we thought it scarcely probable that Hastings could be arrested for a murder he could not have committed, as he might easily have set up an alibi. The dynamite conspiracy takes its origin from recent events in London. The play is relieved by the comic utterances of the cabman and the oratory of the dissatisfied young man who has taken up with unlawful and wicked secret societies because he is too lazy to work for an honest living. Mr. Harry Jackson and Mr. Harry Nicholls came in for their share of the applause for their excellent acting in these characters. Miss Harriet Jay plays Mary Morton with satisfaction, as do all the other people too numerous to mention. To the scenic artists is due much of the success of the piece—for a success it is sure to be—Messrs. Emden, Grieve, Perkins, and Ryan. The shipwrecked scene perhaps was applauded the loudest. We understand that “A Sailor and his Lass” is drawing crowded audiences, and Bro. Harris will certainly find his latest drama remunerative.



The Graphic (3 November, 1883)

     Apropos of some recent remarks on the “real shower of rain” in the new romantic drama at Drury Lane, we have received from Mr. Augustus Harris a note, in which he says:—“Is it worth while letting you know that the writer of the contradiction relating to ‘the objectionable realistic water effect’ in the new play was slightly in error, the ‘rice and spangles’ being only used for the splash against ‘Miss Eyre’s petticoats’ in the mast scene—which, by the way, was the only ‘real water’ objected to. The rain is water.”
     Mr. Augustus Harris also asks us to state that a letter published by his collaborator, Mr. Robert Buchanan, complaining in rather violent language of “the rancour of the dramatic ring and the contumely of a critical coterie,” was, though dated from Drury Lane Theatre, written without his (Mr. Harris’s) knowledge or authority.



The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (3 November, 1883 - p.18)

     VERY judiciously Mr. Augustus Harris disavows association with his collaborator, Mr. Robert Buchanan, in that gentleman’s violent attack upon “the rancour of the dramatic ring and the contumely of a critical coterie.” Mr. Harris is too shrewd a manager not to have discovered long ago that the “dramatic ring” is a figment of the imagination of the playwright, who for one reason or another thinks himself hardly used by his critics. It cannot be pleasant to have such silly, vulgar letters from Drury Lane theatre, and Mr. Harris is to be sympathised with in the circumstances which made his disclaimer necessary.



The Entr’acte (3 November, 1883 - p.4)


THAT letter which Mr. Robert Buchanan wrote to the old lady of Wellington Street last week, was something more than warm. If it had aimed at any other critic than Mr. Clement Scott, it is quite possible that Mr. Ledger would not have been violently in love with it.

     That Master Gus should repudiate this letter is only wise. Gus does not wish to make enemies of the newspaper people.

     I can’t help thinking that “A Sailor and His Lass” has been condemned with something more than necessary severity. It is a very much better piece than “Freedom,” and the last-named was never a tenth part slated like the more recent production has been.

     The highest-class drama stands no chance at Drury Lane Theatre, where the actors’ voices are not heard at times, and their facial play is not seen by those members of the audience at the back of pit, boxes, and gallery. Broad effects are wanted here; plenty of intelligible incident, stirring situations, and good scenery are the factors which, above all others, are required to pull a drama through, at this vast theatre.

     The late Samuel Phelps told me that he played “Werner” at Drury Lane to something under a twenty-pounds house. The old man made this humiliating confession not because he liked to do it, but to prove to me how utterly futile were experiments with the classics at this establishment.



The Evening News and Star (Glasgow) (8 November, 1883)


     Mr. Robert Buchanan, says “Truth,” is either the vainest or the most unreasonable of men. He writes a play that takes nearly five hours to get through. He insists that his audience shall be seated at a quarter to eight, and never dreams of dismissing them until half-past twelve. He amuses them with real cows, real cab-horses, real chaplains, sheriffs, and hangmen. He excites them to exhilaration with condemned cells in Newgate, processions to the execution yard, and hoisting of the black flag, and when the unmerited courtesy of applause has been bestowed on this inconsiderate gentleman, he turns round and states that his precious play has been destroyed by an organised cabal. This is the easiest thing in the world to say; the most difficult thing to prove. Where was the cabal? in what part of the house? how did it show itself? who detected it, save Robert Buchanan? What shadow or scintillation of evidence has this author to advance of a conspiracy that would have been dishonourable to all concerned in it? Time was when no pit or gallery would forget such an insult levelled at their heads by a bumptious author. One day, in a rash moment, Mr. Albery bounced out, and talked of “an organised opposition,” when his play was righteously damned. The pit would never look at, or listen to, him again for years. What will they say of Buchanan, who discovers “an organised cabal” in a weary crowd applauding him long after midnight?



The Illustrated London News (10 November, 1883)

     The scenes from “A Sailor and His Lass,” delineated by M. Forestier, afford a pretty fair notion of the exciting nature of the sensational melodrama written by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Augustus Harris for Drury Lane Theatre, and performed there since Monday, Oct. 15. First comes the striking ending to Act i.—the discovery of the dead body of Squire Carruthers, murdered by Farmer Morton (Mr. James Fernandez), because the latter suspected him (without cause) of having led astray his daughter Esther. The farmer is instigated to commit this crime by the modern Mephistopheles of the piece, Richard Kingston (Mr. Henry George), who forthwith threatens to accuse the absent sailor, who is Mary Morton’s sweetheart, if that young lady will not transfer her affections to him! The gallant sailor, Harry Hastings (Mr. A. Harris), has meantime taken pity on the unfortunate Esther (Miss Sophie Eyre), and escorted her to London, where he stumbles by accident across a secret meeting of dynamitards, prominent among whom is the unconscionable schemer, Richard Kingston. A party of these same dynamitards sail in Harry’s ship as members of the crew, and attempt to murder him; but he is warned in time by a stowaway (capitally played by Miss Clara Jecks) he had befriended in the docks. When the vessel is wrecked, and Harry, after a deadly struggle with a burly dynamitard on the mast, is wellnigh exhausted by his efforts to sustain Esther and her child, the stowaway and the Grace Darling of a neighbouring lighthouse, with her father, rescue them in a boat. The scenes in Newgate whilst Harry Hastings awaits his fate have been judiciously shortened; and the happy termination of the drama is arrived at the sooner.


[Click the picture for a larger version.]


The Entr’acte (17 November, 1883 - p.4)

     The “Sailor and His Lass” has been tremendously curtailed. I think this piece has been somewhat maltreated by the newspapers. It seems to give great satisfaction to the good audiences which foregather at Old Drury nightly. Mr. Buchanan has got himself disliked, and although I don’t say that the dramatic critics would treat him with a deliberate and pronounced unfairness, I am of opinion that they would not put themselves out of the way to excuse his faults.

     Miss Harriet Jay is to be seen to better advantage in light than in heavy parts. She is deficient in power. She played the boy in “Freedom” very pleasantly and well, but she does not shine in the piece which she is now playing in.



The Liverpool Mercury (15 April, 1884 - p.6)


     No circumstances more conducive to the favourable reception here of a piece which, though known in London and several large provincial centres, was new to this city, could have been hoped for than those which attended the production at the Alexandra Theatre last night of “A Sailor and His Lass,” and all to whom the fortunes of that stirring play are important must have felt that its life then received a fresh impetus. A fine stage, attached to which is every appliance which modern theatrical carpentry has devised, served for the play, and the spacious auditorium was occupied to the full by people in holiday humour, who had come willing to be entertained even by slender means. But the story—which, by the way, rests upon a strongly dramatic basis—had hardly begun to develope before the audience found themselves interested in a supreme measure. Though broadly designed and painted in the highest colours, the incidents of “A Sailor and His Lass,” regarded generally, come within the limits of probability. It is in matters of detail that those limits are exceeded. One of the objects of English melodrama has ever been to emphasise the advantages of honesty and the disadvantages of an opposite course. There is happily in “A Sailor and His Lass” no departure from this healthy purpose. They who have done wrong come to grief, and they who have been persecuted are restored to happiness. The construction of the piece is such as to indicate a hand practised in the bolder devices of the stage; and there are in the dialogue touches of genuine pathos, while the comedy, never obtrusive, is admirably sustained from beginning to end. It is unfortunate, however, that devotion to realism is carried so far in the last act. Here is depicted in all its sickening suggestiveness the process of preparing a man for the gallows. The stability of the play would not be injured by the removal of this exhibition. The scenes of the wreck of the Albatross, and the rescue by the lighthouse keepers, are heroic, and quicken one’s warmest sympathies; but this makes one turn away with a feeling of depression. It is true that relief speedily arrives, but the impression is too deeply made to be easily effaced. let us have the prison by all means, but without the repulsive accessories of an execution. Of the performance of “A Sailor and His Lass,” the authors of which are Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Augustus Harris, there can be nothing said which does not savour of praise. Miss Daisy England and Miss Marie Illington, as the sisters who bear much of the sorrow which overtakes their happy home, display remarkable emotional power, and Miss L. Claremont portrays Mrs. Downsey with considerable comic force. Nor is Miss Barker unworthy of mention in the small part of a waif. Mr. A. C.  Lilly’s Richard Kingston, Mr. Charles Sennett’s Farmer Morton, and Mr. Estcourt’s Bradley, are impersonations of good workmanship. As Downsey and Green, the former a kind-hearted London cabman and the latter a sneaking scamp of the comic type, Mr. W. Sidney and Mr. Edmund Lyons render still more expressive the lighter vein of the story. Harry Hastings, the hero alike of its tragedy and its comedy, is played by Mr. W. R. Sutherland, an excellent actor, who makes the part stand out in high artistic relief. The scenery and the mechanical contrivances produce some very striking effects. “A Sailor and His Lass” is to be given every evening this week.


[Advert for a revival of A Sailor and his Lass from The Stage (22 May, 1885 - p.12).]


The Stage (10 June, 1897 - p.12)


     Following out their newly-formed policy of presenting a series of Drury Lane dramas at their excellently-managed theatre, Mr. Walter Tyrrell and Miss V. St. Lawrence have staged for a fortnight, beginning on Whit-Monday, A Sailor and His Lass, by Robert Buchanan and Augustus Harris, which was originally produced October 15, 1883, the cast then including the lamented impresario, Messrs. James Fernandez, Henry George, Harry Jackson, Harry Nicholls, Misses Harriett Jay, Sophie Eyre, M. A. Victor, and Clara Jecks. A Sailor and His Lass has never been regarded as a good specimen of its class, but still it contains enough variety of incident and sensation to make it entertaining to popular audiences, and in this light it is certainly now being considered at the Novelty. For instance, the wreck of the “Albatross,” and the rescue by the lighthouse keeper, both very fairly carried out, have been watched with keen interest, while the later scenes in Newgate, recently beaten on their own ground by similar passages in Saved From the Sea, retain their power to impress the imagination. The performance given on Tuesday by the stock company was effective in the main. Miss St. Lawrence displayed her now familiar blend of searching earnestness and well-assumed vivacity as Mary Morton, the betrayed sister, Esther, being represented with care by Miss Isa Bellington. As the rebellious old farmer, Michael Morton, Mr. William Luff, though forcible, was too preachy and monotonous, while the rôle of the insidious Richard Kingston gave Mr. Bernard Copping no scope for passing out of the beaten path of conventional stage villainy. Mr. Jack Haddon, generally inclined to be too strenuous and vociferous, by no means spared himself in his manly impersonation of the sailor-hero, Harry Hastings. Mr. Harry Jackson formerly made the kindly cab-driver, Bob Dounsey, almost the most popular character in the piece, and the same now applies to Mr. Newman Maurice, who evidently found the part a congenial one. Mr. Clifford Soames did capital work as the young squire, Walter Carruthers, who is murdered in act one, and afterwards, we fancy, he appeared, also with success, as the boldest member of the dynamite gang. Miss Maudie Hastings gave on Jo lines a pathetic embodiment of the little waif and stowaway, Carrots, originally played by Miss Clara Jecks, and Miss Lucy Murray was well in the picture as the cabman’s wife. Mr. Teesdale was efficient as the cowardly professional agitator, Green, and the other places in a long cast were suitably filled.



The Era (23 April, 1898 - p.12)

On Monday, April 18th,
the Drama, by Sir Augustus Harris and Robert Buchanan,

     A company, under the able direction of Mr Charles Hartley, is here with A Sailor and His Lass. A masterly performance is given by Mr John Webb as Harry Hastings. Miss Violet Irving as Mary Morton comes in for a large share of praise. Mr Hartley as Richard Kingston and Miss Frances Delaval as Esther give thrilling readings of their respective parts, and thoroughly deserve the applause their acting evokes. Mr Lewis Ward (Michael Morton), Mr Edgar Leyton (Bob Douncey), and Miss Muriel Herbert (Mrs Douncey) render good service, and Miss Florence Creagh should be praised for her performance as Barby.


[Poster for A Sailor and His Lass at the Grand Theatre, Nottingham, for the week commencing 13th June, 1898.]


[Advert for provincial tour of A Sailor and His Lass from The Stage (30 June, 1898 - p.18).]



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