SAKD THE CIRCUS MAN
(By Mr P. Wirth, in The Book/ellow,
Since 1880 we’ve seen a lot of men and a lot of countries. In 1898 we were in Africa ; in ’94- 95 in South America. In ’97-’9S we went to England, playing a twelve months’ season at the Winter Garden, Southport, where the present King Edward saw us 1 and praised us. Then we took the circus to France and Germany, went back to England in 1899, and then again to South Africa. When the war broke out we had to come away to India, and we landed back in Fremantle —and jolly glad to get there—in 1900. As I say, we’ve had enough of foreign countries, and now ■it’s Australia all the time for ns.
French .audiences are good. We were very well treated in France. Germany didn’t pay us as well. There’s a good 'deal of competition in Germany and a hue lot of circus men are bred there. They are better horsemen than the French, though when a Frenchman is really good he’s a wonder. The best horseman I ever saw was George Felton, who was with our Wild West Show. We brought that show to Australia in 1891, and lost money on it- The people came to see it all right, but they didn’t come often enough, and the expenses were heavy, •
Felton was an Arizona Irishman — a big,' solid man : he' stood six feet four inches high, and in the two years that he was with us I never saw the horse he could not master inside of five minutes. He could throw a horse down whenever he wanted to, or he could bend over from the saddle while the horse was bucking and pick tip objects on the ground. In all these buck-jumping or riding contests it’s simply a light between the man and the horse, and Felton was always too strong for his horse. Thatfs where his size came in. And he put such style and dash into his work —as I say, I never saw’ the man to excel him. Australians would make the best circus performers in- the world if they would take a. little more pains. English and European artists have been trained in a harder school with more competition, and if they can drag themselves into the ring _ They’ll go through their turns night after night and do their best every time. The competition makes them keener. When wc were at Southport, in England, I’ve seen chaps come to mo and ask leave to use the ring for practice at 5 o’clock in the morning, and a foggy morning, too —cold and miserable —they wore so anxious to keep themselves fib. Australians aren’t as keen as all that. If they were, nothing would hold them. My opinion, after travelling all round, is that we have got the best country in the world, and we don’t quite live up to it —inclined to take things easy, you know —a little bit slack.
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Sketcher., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 52, 6 April 1907
Sketcher. Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 52, 6 April 1907
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