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THE CIRCUS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 220, 18 December 1880
Tho evening performance at the Circus last night was patronised by as dense a crowd of Ashburton humanity as ever collected before in one space, and we do not believe we are far out in saying that 2,500 people paid for seats in the circus. There were various causes that might- have operated to prevent many people turning out to see a show of this description. A strong nor’-wester blow all day, making the journey to town exceedingly uucoiur fortable to tho country folks, and then the prices of admission were high and represented a big hole in the purse of a family man if he were inclined to treat his olive branches, especially if these were numerous, and then the times recently have not been the most prosperous. I;, is a sign, however, that the ebb tide is well on the turn when so many of our settlers rolled up to an exhibition of the kind we are now noticing. Regarding the nor’wester we may add that it was just as troublesome to the circus people as it could possibly have been to the visitors, and during its greatest force yesterday afternoon the canvas of all the tents more or less suffered. We noticed the tents in our yesterday’s issue, but it was not until evening, when the crowd filled the circus, that their capacity for giving accommodation was shown, and when all the seats were filled up the great canvas amphitheatre had a very imposing appearance indeed. Still there -was a wide space left between the ring and the tiers of seats, and we are told that that this could have utilised in a quarter of an hour, had it been necessary, and seats placed up to the margin of the circle. The first tent entered contained the menagerie. It was a large one, and comprised most of the wild animals that residents in civilised countries liketo look at occasionally. There were lions in plenty, tigers, leopard;., the rhinoceros, hyenas, monkeys, and so forth, while the always interesting elephants and camels, tame and docile, were present in considerable force. From the menagerie
tent a passage way admitted to the circus proper, and the- usual gorgeous pageant opened the performance. All the equestrian strength was utilised to make this effective, and what with the fine horses, the fine drosses of the riders, and the presence amongst them of camels and elephants, gaily caparisoned, the pageant was quite Oriental in its imposing grandeur. The last of the cavalcade had scarcely disappeared when Mr. George Conklin introduced the trained elephants, the performances of which were certainly extraordinary for such unwieldy animals. Then came the wonderful bicycle act on a tight rope of Mdllo. Adelaide, and Messrs. Murtz and Dunbar. One of these gentlemen rode a bicyle along the rope while a trapeze hung from the wheel, and gave his companions an opportunity to display some wonderful feats of gymnastics upon it. Then came in some dozen or so high loapers, who kept the ring alive with their nimblencss and elasticity. In quick succession their performances wore followed by Conklin's performances in the lion’s don—daring in the extreme. What he did we have most!v seen done before, but it is seldom that a lion-tamer attempts as Conklin did the hazardous ventare of tantalising the animals by ottering them a piece of meat, and then withdrawing it from their jaws just as they had secured it. Two well - trained horses were then introduced, and their contribution to the programme was certainly an interesting one. We may here stop to remark that it is in the training of their horses that Cole’s people seem to excel—in fact that is the only point of excellence they .show over other travelling circuses that the colony has scon. At a later period of the evening the six trained stallions introduced showed what the horse can be brought to do, and the intelligence ho can display. The whole six seemed to know exactly what was said to them, what each was required to do, and each did it when he was told. They came out in succession to the call of their names—as Duke, Sultan, Emperor, &c.— and went through their individual performances most wonderfully, and without any necessity whatever for the whip—a good feature in their training. But the crowning success was achieved when trainer Organ made each horse actually sit down on a stool, like schoolboys in a class. The riding was not above ordinary circus equestrianism. Wonda Cooke’s was very commonplace, but. that of the others was fair. The horizontal bar performance was good as was also thebalanceing trapeze act of Millie Tumour. Leaving out O’Dale Stevens’ wonderful globe balancing act, which certainly was wonderful, the rest of the exhibition was not up to what we should expect in “ the greatest show on earth." The clowns were only average, and gave nothing new The circus did not keep faith in its promises not to •‘peddle” for the clown’s trashy song books were hawked about during the evening, as well as tickets for the side show, which was not of much account. The side show opened after the circus was over, and about 200 people entered it. A man with very little flesh on his bones was exhibited, two dwarfs wore also shown, —smart little chaps for their 31 inches, and pleasant little men withal—an educated pig, of course ; a boa constrictor ; a magician that would bo eclipsed by many a street wizard at Home ; a musical wonder who plays on seven instruments at once; several Comanche Indians, who go through a war dance with a very great effort to refrain from laughing ; and several singers of trashy negro songs. The side show was assuredly a sell, but it added LlO or L2O to the day’s takings, and that of course is something. Our notice of the show would be incomplete did we not refer to the working of the electric light. It is so thoroughly under control, that a light equal to daylight is secured, while no undue dazzling of the eyes is entailed, audits effect last night was a most pleasing one indeed. The light is worked by an engine a few yards from the menagerie, and the wires are
taken all over the show whore the light is wanted. In an hour after the crowd had loft the ground, no sign of the circus was loft, so rapid arc the company’s movements, and as soon as everything was fairly bundled up and packed, the long special train was speeding on its way to Tirnaru.
THE CIRCUS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 220, 18 December 1880
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