London at the End of the Century:A Book of Gossip
a Beckett, Arthur William
QUITE A LITTLE HOLIDAY IN LUDGATE CIRCUS.
But perhaps the amateur companies are the latest fashion. The Victoria has, I fancy, a professional staff, and consequently is unlike the voluntary associations in the East End. It was my good fortune a short while since to be present at a concert organised with the view of amusing certain young men cooperating
|for their own improvement in the neighbourhood of a well-known city church. The function was held in a highly-decorated room, redolent of illuminated texts, and the company was distinctly select. A clergyman presided, and in the front row were a number of people well known The programme was a good one. We had some excellent songs sung by two professionals who had kindly volunteered their services, and a host of auxiliary talent. One gentleman did wonders with a banjo. I never heard a more refined rendering of negro minstrelsy in my life. The gentleman uttered his (I believe that is the technical term for those mirth-provoking jokes that find so much favour in the Great St. James's Hall) in a manner that would have been entirely appropriate to the Row or the stalls at the opera.|
"You see," he said to me afterwards,
Besides the gentleman with a banjo, we heard a reciter who told us gruesome tales (in blank verse) about starved paupers and Further, one talented individual recited a Tommy Atkins' Barrack Ballad in the most faultless fashion. Seeing ladies present, he dropped his voice at words referring to the infernal regions and a condition of the atmosphere that would have excited the suspicion of an inspector of nuisances. But the hero of the evening was unquestionably my friend with the banjo, and when he sang a song with a rattling chorus, and appealed to the audience to join in it, the applause was absolutely deafening. The function was altogether a pleasant one, and we congratulated ourselves all round upon having kept our humble friends the juvenile Christians well employed.