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

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THEATRE REVIEWS

51. The Mariners of England (1897)

 

The Mariners of England
by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe (Harriett Jay).
Nottingham: Grand Theatre. 1 March, 1897.
London: Olympic Theatre. 9 March to 2 April, 1897.
Other performances:
London: Britannia Theatre, Hoxton. 21 July, 1902.

’Twas In Trafalgar’s Bay or Trafalgar
Scenes from The Mariners of England concerning the death of Nelson and the battle of Trafalgar.
Glasgow: Coliseum. 29 May, 1911.
London: South London Palace. 4 March, 1912.
Various other venues including the London Palladium, and Leeds Hippodrome (30 November, 1914).

A letter from Harriett Jay to The Era (30 April, 1898) announced that she and Buchanan were disassociating themselves from all future productions of the play on the grounds that “the attempt to celebrate the achievement of a real national Hero has been construed, in some quarters, into sympathy with more ignoble manifestations of the national (or Jingo) spirit”.

 

The Era (14 November, 1896)

     “THE MARINERS OF ENGLAND,” the new nautical drama by the authors of Alone in London, is in active preparation for early production in London and the provinces. It is founded on new and as yet unpublished facts connected with Lord Nelson, whose full and definitive biography is announced for publication in March next; and the same materials have been used by Mr Robert Buchanan for a new story, which is now in the press. Nelson is a leading character in the play, the scene of which is laid at the beginning of the present century. The scenery is already in hand, and a copyright performance will take place in a few days.

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The Pall Mall Gazette (18 November, 1896)

     As usual, there are few interesting announcements to make this week. We read that Mr. Buchanan has collaborated with Miss Harriett Jay in a nautical “drama,” and we hope it will be rollicking. Also that Mr. Buchanan’s “Sweet Nancy” will be revived in the afternoon at the Criterion by Miss Annie Hughes.

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The Yorkshire Evening Post (19 December, 1896 - p.3)

     Messrs. Robert Buchanan’s and Charles Marlowe’s new piece, Ye Mariners of England, is to be tried on the provincial dog by Mr. Herbert Heath, preparatory to a “London production.” The great scene is the death of Nelson on board of the Victory. Lady Hamilton will not be introduced.

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The Daily News (17 February, 1897 - p.7)

     We have already noted that the Avenue Theatre is not to have any monopoly either of Nelson or the naval drama. It is now definitively announced that Mr. Herbert Sleath, late a member of one of Mr. Weedon Grossmith’s touring companies, will produce “The Mariners of England,” by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, at the New Olympic Theatre on the 9th of next month, with Mr. W. L. Abingdon and Mr. Charles Glenney in leading parts. We are particularly requested to observe that, although Nelson will be a conspicuous figure in the play, he will be represented “simply as the great naval hero,” and there will be “no Lady Hamilton.” The following list of the scenes painted by Mr. Bruce Smith and Mr. Walter Drury will give some hint of the character of the drama: “Act 1, The old Town of Deal and view of the Downs—‘The Anniversary.’ Act 2, scene 1; The Cliffs between Deal and Dover; scene 2, Fairlight Cove, Moonlight—‘The Escape.’ Act 3, Deck of H.M.S. Victory, Portsmouth Harbour; scene 2, State Cabin of the Victory; scene 3, Deck of the Victory, Trafalgar; scene 4, The Cockpit of the Victory—‘The Death of Nelson.’ Act 4, Interior of Admiral Talbot’s House—‘Father and Son.’”

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Daily Mail (17 February, 1897 - p.3)

     The company engaged by Mr. Herbert Sleath for his season at the Olympic with Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe’s” new nautical drama, “The Mariners of England,” includes Mr. W. L. Abingdon and Mr. Charles Glenney. The synopsis of scenery is as follows:—Act I.—The Old Town of Deal and view of the Downs (Mr. Bruce Smith), “The Anniversary.” Act II.—Scene 1: The Cliffs between Deal and Dover; scene 2: Fairlight Cove, moonlight (Mr. Walter Drury), “The Escape.” Act III.—Scene 1: Deck of H.M.S. Victory, Portsmouth Harbour; scene 2: State cabin of the Victory; scene 3: Deck of the Victory, Trafalgar; scene 4: The cockpit of the Victory (Mr. Bruce Smith), “The Death of Nelson.” Act IV.— Interior of Admiral Talbot’s house (Mr. Bruce Smith), “Father and Son.” The play will be produced on March 9.

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The Era (20 February, 1897 - p.14)

     WE are requested by Mr Robert Buchanan to contradict the statement which has been made that he has become the manager of the Olympic Theatre. Although a drama of which he is part author is about to be produced at that establishment he has no connection with the production except an artistic one. The responsible manager of the theatre is Mr Herbert Sleath, who has secured the acting rights of The Mariners of England for both London and the provinces.

     “THE MARINERS OF ENGLAND,” by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, is a romantic costume play, in four acts, to be produced at the Olympic Theatre on or about March 8th. Among the company engaged to appear in it are Mr Charles Glenney, Mr Abingdon; Miss Edith Bruce, Miss Florence Tanner, and Miss Keith Wakeman. The new scenery is being painted by Mr Bruce Smith and assistants and the Messrs Drury; and the costumes are being specially made by Messrs Morris Angel and Co. The time is 1805, the year of Trafalgar, and one of the great effects of the play is a scenic reproduction of the great battle and the death of Nelson.

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The Morning Post (22 February, 1897 - p.6)

     At the Grand Theatre, Nottingham, on Monday next, Mr. Mulholland has arranged for the first production of Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe’s new play, “The Mariners of England.” Mr. W. L. Abingdon has been specially engaged to play the part of Nelson, and the company will include Mr. Charles Glenney and Miss Edith Bruce. The scenery will be elaborate, and the climax of the play will be the Battle of Trafalgar as viewed from the Victory. As at present arranged the piece will be brought to the Olympic Theatre the following week, opening Tuesday, March 9.

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Pall Mall Gazette (24 February, 1897 - p.1)

     So there is to be another Nelson play. “The Mariners of England,” by Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” is to be produced at the Olympic (where “The Free Pardon” stopped on Saturday) on the 9th of next month. We suppose it will be patriotism undiluted; in fact, we read that Nelson’s unfortunate domestic arrangements will not be alluded to. The whole of the last act will take place on the Victory and end with the death of Nelson. We look forward to the play. Mr. Abingdon seems to be tired of villainy; at least we presume that Nelson, whom he will play, will not be the villain of the piece. Cromwell was made the villain of a play, but his services to England were a little more dubious than Nelson’s. We should rather like to see a set of historical plays with the traditions of character reversed—Richard III. as a good hero, and Bishop Wilberforce, or somebody of that type, as a villain.

     The woman’s hat question has been somewhat drastically dealt with by the Brussels police, who have published a prohibition against the wearing of such headgear in the stalls and dress circle of any theatre in that capital. The effect of this ukase has, however, not been wholly satisfactory, for the fair sex, taking exception to it, decline to patronize theatrical entertainments, with the not unnatural consequence that the attendance of the sterner sex has also fallen off to a very considerable extent. It is difficult to see how the Brussels managers will be able to grapple with the difficulties of a position that threatens to play havoc with their treasuries. Surely, in these days of arbitration some equitable adjustment of this highly important matter might be arrived at.

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The Era (6 March, 1897)

“THE MARINERS OF ENGLAND.”
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A New and Original Nautical Drama,
in Four Acts and Ten Tableaux,
by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe,
Produced, for the First Time, at the Grand Theatre,
Nottingham, on Monday, March 1st.

Lord Nelson and Bronte ...     Mr W. L. ABINGDON
Admiral Talbot           ... ...    Mr FREDERICK STANLEY
Admiral Collingwood      ...   Mr W. H. BROUGHAM
Admiral White            ... ...   Mr GEOFFREY WEEDALL
Captain Hardy            ... ...   Mr ADAM ALEXANDER
Captain Lebaudy        ... ...   Mr HERBERT SLEATH
Lieutenant Portland        ...    Mr ERNEST MAINWARING
Mr Lestrange             ... ...    Mr GILBERT WEMYS
Mr Beaumont            ... ...    Mr C. K. CATLEY
Harry Dell                 ... ...    Mr CHARLES GLENNEY
Tom Trip                   ... ...    Mr E. M. ROBSON
Old Trip                     ... ...   Mr JULIUS ROYSTON
John Marston             ... ...   Mr TOM TAYLOR
Bill Buckett               ... ...    Mr CHARLES H. FENTON
Joe Appleyard            ... ...   Mr GEO. HARETON
Officer of Coastguard    ...    Mr FRANK STRIBBLY
Master of Marines          ...   Mr GODFREY KNOWLES
Mabel Talbot             ... ...    Miss KEITH WAKEMAN
Nelly Dell                   ... ...   Miss FLORENCE TANNER
Polly Appleyard        ... ...    Miss EDITH BRUCE

(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

     Admiral Field’s conclusion that Lord Nelson’s memory had been treated with but scant respect in a recently- produced drama and the same gallant officer’s subsequent fiery question in the House of Commons as to what the Government were going to do about it, followed up by his forcible remark at the North London Rifle Club that “he would before long have the Lord Chamberlain’s department on toast,” will, no doubt, be a splendid advertisement to any play having among its dramatis personæ the hero of Trafalgar, and people will flock to the theatre if only to witness the treatment accorded in the new piece and apart from its merits as a work of dramatic art. The Mariners of England, in the words of one of the authors, “does not touch in any way on the Lady Hamilton intrigue, and, indeed, the great naval commander is rather the deus ex machinâ than the hero of the drama, which may be described as a simple story of original invention with an historical background.” No ideals are shattered by the authors of this piece, Messrs Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe; in fact, Nelson is just pictured as most of his admirers have from boyhood upwards fondly regarded him—a brave sailor, a beloved captain, and a man who made it possible for Englishmen to sing “Britannia Rules the Waves,” and who, in the end, gave his life for his country. All that is best worth remembering in the admiral’s life has been focussed into The Mariners of England, and the only regret is that the picture thrown upon the stage is not a larger one. With the exception of the one great incident, “The Death of Nelson,” the authors make no pretence to actual fact, and, truth to tell, the story might just as well have been written round any other naval character. For the greater part of the play Nelson is outside it altogether.
     In the first act, for instance, he merely makes his appearance in the midst of the rejoicings in celebration of the battle of the Nile. He is the guest of his old friend Admiral Talbot, and during his evening stroll on the lonely cliffs above Deal he is the victim of a desperate plot hatched by his host’s nephew, who, for some unexplained reason, is in league with John Marston, a renegade English sailor. Nelson is actually struck down, and his assailants are about to cast him over the cliffs when Harry Dell, a typical Jack Tar, with a romantic history, comes to the rescue. Nelson had wounded one of the would-be murderers, and Harry, who had also received a cut in the fray, is promptly accused of being one of the perpetrators of the outrage by Captain Lebaudy, the villainous nephew, who, although the betrayer of Harry’s foster- sister, bitterly opposed the love which Harry had for Admiral Talbot’s niece. Unfortunately for the young sailor’s avowals, and for Mabel Talbot’s protestations, Nelson had seen Harry in the company of Marston, the French spy, and this so heightens the suspicions against Harry that he makes a bold dash and flees the country. But as the Victory lies in Portsmouth harbour ready to sail, Harry suddenly appears on board and delivers himself up to justice. Nelson takes over the command of the ship, and at the court-martial which quickly follows he states the facts which make the accused man’s fate almost a foregone conclusion. Captain Lebaudy gives his lying testimony, and then Mabel appeals with passionate earnestness to Nelson for mercy for her betrothed. The Admiral expresses his belief that Harry was a rescuer and not a would-be destroyer, but this is taken for magnanimity by his brother officers, who declare that justice must be done. Justice is done, but in a totally different direction, for the traitor Marston has been captured, and is produced by Nelson. Harry is at once exonerated and acquitted; whilst Captain Lebaudy is in turn accused by his commander, and summarily dismissed the service. The next scene is a beautiful and impressive tableau of the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson having that moment been struck down by the fatal bullet. Amid the rush of battle the dying Admiral lies on the deck surrounded by his officers. The next tableau, in which Nelson hears the glad news of victory and dies his gallant death, is intensely impressive, and one which will make a strong appeal to the emotions of all who witness it. After this the story draws rapidly to an end, and the threads are skilfully gathered up. The play takes a firm grip of the audience, and has the advantage of being unfolded in graphic dialogue, the incidents arising naturally and following each other in well-connected sequence. The close of the third act in particular produced a marked influence on the spectators. The death scene, most touchingly portrayed by Mr Abingdon, held the house in deepest silence, followed a moment later by thunderous cheering, which was not stilled until the curtain had been raised again and again. The interpretation all round was admirable. Mr W. L. Abingdon looked and acted the character of Nelson wonderfully well. It was a careful, measured performance. His appearance was noble, and he played the part with due dignity and emphasis. Mr C. Glenny as Harry Dell made a fine, breezy sailor, and with quiet power and skilful precision embodied the personage from first to last. Mr Herbert Sleath as Capt. Lebaudy made an excellent villain, never over colouring the picture, and keeping well within the frame. Mr Frederick Stanley did well as the blind Admiral Talbot. Mr E. M. Robson as Tom Trip contributed a very comical sketch, and was materially aided by Miss Edith Bruce as Polly Appleyard. She was delightful in the mingled archness, sweetness, petulance, grace, and sauciness which she threw into her performance. Mr Tom Taylor acted with discretion in the thankless character of the Spy. Miss Keith Wakeman played magnificently as Mabel, rising to the level of the force and pathos demanded by the most passionate and tender of the scenes, and Miss Florence Tanner distinguished herself greatly by her sweet impersonation of Nelly Dell. The scenery by Messrs Bruce Smith and Walter Drury was wonderfully picturesque, and Mr W. Carlile Vernon’s music was aptly illustrative.

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The Morning Post (10 March, 1897 - p.3)

OLYMPIC THEATRE.
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     “The Mariners of England,” a new and original romantic drama, written by Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, was presented for the first time last night at the Olympic Theatre. It received a favourable reception, which is largely to be accounted for by the subject of the play, in which Nelson figures conspicuously, although he is not the hero of the action, by the excellent stage mounting and brightness and variety of the scenes, and by the plentiful distribution of such sentiments as “Nelson’s left arm is the right arm of England” and “The man who fights for his country in any capacity is a gentleman.” The four acts into which the piece is divided are of very unequal merit. The first, though purely introductory, is bright, well written, and interesting, promising a story above the level of average melodrama. We are made acquainted with the love of Mabel Talbot, Admiral Talbot’s niece, for a typical bluejacket named Harry Dell. He has been picked up from a wreck, and his parentage is unknown, which naturally fills every spectator with a conviction amounting to certainty that he will ultimately be shown to be of birth equal to that of his sweetheart. And this proves to be the fact; in the last scene he is declared to be the Admiral’s son, and, of course, he marries Mabel. This, though not a very original, is no doubt a wise dispensation of the authors, for there unquestionably exists a prejudice against the affection of a lady of gentle birth for a lover of low degree; though, singularly enough, there is no such feeling regarding the love of the nobleman for the peasant maid. The second act, laid on a cliff near Dover, not far from the Admiral’s house, falls into one of the gravest errors of melodrama—the want of probability. There is a diabolical plot, hatched by Captain Lebaudy, the Admiral’s relative, who loves Mabel and has seduced Harry Dell’s sister, to take Nelson’s life. For this there is, we believe, no historical warrant whatever; the authors, however, are perfectly justified in introducing such an event if it suits their purpose. But they should so have arranged the attack on Nelson as to make the scene appear likely. Nothing could be more improbable than that the hero of the Nile should be set upon by a couple of ruffians on a bright moonlight night within a stone’s throw of the house where he was staying, and almost within call of the Coastguard, who a minute before have been parading the stage. Nelson is stunned, but Harry Dell is opportunely close at hand; he rushes in to the rescue, puts “Black Jack,” the villain in Lebaudy’s pay, to flight, and being wounded, is in true melodramatic fashion accused of having done the deed himself. The patrol surrounds him, but he knocks three of them down, and makes his escape, jumps into the sea, and presumably swims over to France. The third act is on board the Victory in Portsmouth Harbour. She is making ready to sail, and Nelson takes command. Before she weighs anchor Harry Dell appears; finding life unendurable in foreign parts, he gives himself up, protesting, however, that he is innocent. He is at once tried by court-martial and found guilty. Nelson, to whom “Black Jack” has meanwhile revealed the entire truth, intervenes, forces Lebaudy to confess his guilt and resign his commission, and then gives fresh evidence to the Naval Court, which enables them to reverse their judgment. Dell is acquitted. Here the play ends, but there are two tableaux vivants and a fourth act before the curtain finally descends. The first tableau represents the deck of the Victory at Trafalgar. It is a triumph of stage scenery. Nelson is struck down, and then we are taken to the cockpit, where he dies. This scene suffers from comparison with the similar infinitely more pathetic spectacle at the Avenue Theatre. The subject is a well-worn one, and there is nothing in its treatment by the authors of “The Mariners of England” or by the actors to lift it out of the region of commonplace. For all that the representation of the national hero’s death will in all circumstances command the applause of Englishmen; and it did not fail to do so on this occasion. The last act, every incident in which had been discounted by the audience, was unnecessary and tedious. Nelson was personated with dignity and some feeling by Mr. Abingdon, Harry Dell by Mr. Charles Glenney, an excellent representative of the traditional nautical hero of melodrama. The acting of the other characters calls for no particular comment. The authors were called for at the end, and bowed their acknowledgments. On the whole “The Mariners of England” is in tone considerably above the average melodrama, and this taken in conjunction with the success of “The Two Little Vagabonds” at the Princess’s, would seem to indicate that the public, at the West-end theatres at all events, is beginning to take pleasure in plays in which the colour is laid on with a more delicate hand than in the days of our fathers.

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The Standard (10 March, 1897 - p.5)

OLYMPIC THEATRE.
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     It is quite impossible to treat seriously the melodrama by Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe produced at the Olympic Theatre last night under the title of The Mariners of England. Historical names figure in the list of characters; Lord Nelson, Admiral Collingwood, and Captain Hardy are here; but they are preposterously employed, and it is an entire mistake to imagine that a very poor play is improved by introducing perversions of history and caricatures of great men. The authors found their plot on the set basis of commonplace melodrama. The hero is accused of a crime that is in truth instigated, if not actually carried out, by the villain, and, as usual, the representatives of virtue and vice are both in love with the heroine. In Mr. Gilbert’s Pinafore the common sailor loved the captain’s daughter; in The Mariners of England he loves the Admiral’s niece, who throws herself at his head in a manner which is only paralleled by the behaviour of the low comedian’s sweetheart, when in scarcely franker terms she asks him to marry her. The crime of which the sailor is accused is an attempt to murder no less a personage than Lord Nelson himself. While taking a solitary stroll on the cliffs near Dover, he is assailed by a French spy, egged on by an English naval captain; Dell, as the sailor is called, arrives at the critical moment, and the routine of melodrama is scrupulously followed. As is customary in such cases, his position is misunderstood, and he is assumed to be guilty of the crime he has prevented. This leads to a reproduction of the familiar court-martial scene in Black Eyed Susan, except that Dell is allowed more scope in the way of speeches—previously the whole routine of duty on board her Majesty’s ship Victory had been suspended while the sailor addressed his captain and the ship’s company at great length. The Admiral’s daughter continually hangs round his neck during the proceedings. As a matter of fact, Nelson knows the truth about the assault on him, and is perfectly aware of Dell’s innocence; why he allows the court-martial to waste so much time, during which he practically acts as counsel for the prisoner, is incomprehensible. Dell is not only acquitted, but made a Lieutenant on the spot, and in that capacity is found occupying a prominent place in two tableaux, which show Nelson being wounded and his death in the cockpit of the Victory.
     There can be very little scope for interpretation of character in a play of this class. Mr. Abingdon cannot, of course, suggest the idea of Nelson when engaged upon the tasks here devised for him. It was impossible to identify Collingwood, and there is really nothing to be said about Hardy. Mr. Charles Glenney played Dell in his usual style of ultra-robustness. The patient eye of a spectator who was not wearied by the melodrama might possibly have detected promise in the sketch of the villain, Captain Lebaudy, by Mr. Herbert Sleath. Miss Keith Wakeman should not be judged by her attempt to represent a heroine so deficient in reticence and refinement as Miss Mabel Talbot. Mr. E. M. Robson and Miss Edith Bruce essayed the comic characters.

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Pall Mall Gazette (10 March, 1897 - p.3)

“THE MARINERS OF ENGLAND,” AT THE OLYMPIC.

     We have no particular congratulations to offer to the authors of “The Mariners of England,” who are Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe.” There are (more or less) interpolated into their play two very good tableaux—they are a little more than tableaux, since there is a little action and dialogue before the curtain falls, but the programme’s description is near enough—and these we presumably owe to somebody else, to say nothing of the original painters from whose pictures they are taken. There is an excellent piece of acting on the part of Mr. Abingdon, and in one or two other cases commendable acting. But the play itself is a poor thing. The plot is thin and foolish even for melodrama, and there is a prevailing air of “Black-Ey’d Susan” about it; an honest tar for hero, a captain for villain, and a pathetic court-martial. There is a grave fault of sentiment in the first act. The villain has (1) kept back the true secret of the hero’s birth, and (2) accused him of murder, knowing him to be innocent. These are possibly venial errors; but (3) being an officer in the King’s service he has been in the pay of the French, and (4) in their interest plotted the assassination of Nelson. Now these last two are not venial errors, either from the melodramatic or sociological point of view. Yet, if you please, this (so far) excellent villain is made to repent in Act IV., is allowed to marry the second heroine, and is positively hand-shaken by the hero. We are sincerely sorry that we stayed for that last act, in spite of its containing the hero’s discovery of his long-lost father, who (by the way, and so far as we could gather) had started life as a common sailor, worked his way up to admiral, and been blind all the time. No, the plot was not much, and the comic relief was the poorest we have seen for a long time.
     But the two tableaux were excellent, and so was Mr. Abingdon’s acting. In the first part he was rather too harsh and unsympathetic a Nelson; but the scene in which he dismissed the villain captain the service (a very irregular proceeding, but that was not his fault) was most effectively done, and his cockpit death scene was really impressive—better, we thought, than Mr. Forbes Robertson’s in “Nelson’s Enchantress.” Mr. Charles Glenney was better as the innocently-accused than as the happy and rollicking tar or the sententious captain (he was very rapidly promoted), but he had the right melodramatic touch throughout. Mr. Herbert Sleath was rather too subdued for melodrama as the chief villain, but he acted, and we look to see him in a more subtle part. There is nothing to be said of the rest, except that Miss Edith Bruce was at home in her part of Polly Appleyard, and that Mr. Robson was not so good as Little Tich, though much on his lines, in a comic lover.

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The Guardian (10 March, 1897 - p.7)

     A personage bearing the name of “Lord Nelson and Bronte” is the central figure of an exceedingly feeble melodrama by Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” produced this evening at the Olympic Theatre, under the title of “The Mariners of England.” The villain, one regrets to observe, is a captain in the Royal Navy, who, being in the pay of  France, makes a plot to murder Nelson. The hero, the long-lost son of an admiral, who is in the meantime serving as a foremast hand, rescues Nelson, but is accused of having been his chief assailant. He is court-martialled on board the Victory, and acquitted, of course, through the intervention of Nelson himself. Then we have the obligatory tableaux of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson, which Mr. Abingdon and the limelight man succeeded in rendering melodramatic and ridiculous. As a drama the play is devoid of merit, and the figure of Nelson is introduced without either taste or skill. Mr. Charles Glenny played the hero, and Miss Wakeman the heroine, while Mr. E. M. Robson provided the comic relief. The production was favourably received.

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The Scotsman (10 March, 1897 - p.9)

     The fashion for nautical plays continues, and after a short trial in the country a new piece by Mr Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” called “The Mariners of England,” was given this evening at the Olympic Theatre. What may be deemed the chief feature of the work is the introduction of the character of Lord Nelson. The play in style is melodrama of the simplest and most ordinary character, in which there is little pretence of novelty. Nelson is not really the principal person, for the hero is a sailor named Harry Dell, who rescues Nelson from some scoundrels who, acting in the pay of the French, attack the great Admiral when on shore in England. However, the villain of the play, in customary fashion, accuses the hero of the crime, and his guilt is immediately assumed by most of the characters, and he is forced to hide; but he surrenders himself for trial, and, after an absurd burlesque of a court-martial, is acquitted. Two effective tableaux are given in the piece; one represents the moment when Nelson was shot at Trafalgar, and the other his death in the cockpit. The piece has been very well mounted, and a good company has been engaged. Graceful work is done by Miss Edith Wakeman, and Miss Edith Bruce acts cleverly in a soubrette part. As chief villain Mr Herbert Sleath played with considerable force, and in good if somewhat rough style the parts of Nelson and the hero were represented by Mr. Abington and Mr Glenny in a fashion that seemed to please the house.

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The Times (11 March, 1897 - p.14)

OLYMPIC THEATRE.

     As the hero of Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe’s” new play, The Mariners of England, it cannot be said that Nelson stands at present in any want of recognition on the stage; for this is his second reincarnation, so to  speak, within the few months that have elapsed since the celebration of the Trafalgar anniversary. Nelson No. 2, it may be well to say at once, is as unlike No. 1 as both are probably unlike the original. But as embodied by Mr. Abingdon, No. 2 has this in his favour—that he displays some degree of personal dignity and authority if only in dismissing from the service an unworthy officer who has been conspiring against his admiral’s life. Of the notorious Lady Hamilton who is so much in evidence at the Avenue Theatre there is not a word, save in the historical dying speech which is delivered in the cockpit of the Victory. In fact the new Nelson is rather chary of speech at the best. More than once his entrance upon the scene is the signal for the curtain to come down, and in this respect the authors have done wisely, inasmuch as they leave one’s sense of the hero’s greatness comparatively undisturbed. Perhaps a still better effect would have been produced had the part been designed exclusively as what Mr. Puff would call a “thinking” one, though this would have been hard upon Mr. Abingdon, who really enacts the hero, empty sleeve and all, remarkably well.
     The story of the play is rather meagre in point of literary substance, but is furnished forth with naval dances and revellings, scenes on board a man-of-war, a Court-martial, and not only last but least—for the consumption of gunpowder is on a limited scale—the engagement with the French in which Nelson receives his death wound. In the old town of Dover a dastardly attack is made upon Nelson by a gang of hired ruffians at the instance of a traitor to his country, one Captain Lebaudy. A dashing sailor, Harry Dell, who is played with rugged pathos by Mr. Charles Gleaney, comes up at the critical moment and sends the conspirators flying. Upon him the tables are now turned by the double- dyed villain with the French name; for he is accused of being the author of the attack upon Nelson, and it is upon this case that the cock-hatted Court-martial of the third act solemnly sits. Needless to say honest Harry Dell has a sweetheart in Miss Keith Wakeman, who pleads for him with the Court, but in the end it is through the instrumentality of Nelson, who throughout has taken a paternal interest in the love affairs of his crew, that justice is done to brave men and cowards alike. At the first performance, the action of the play was too slow and straggling to be effective. But as a rough and honest melodrama with its heart in the right place The Mariners of England ought to stir the sympathies of the pit and gallery public.

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The Stage (11 March, 1897 - p.12)

THE OLYMPIC.

     On Tuesday evening, March 9, 1897, was produced at this theatre a new and original romantic drama, in four acts and two tableaux, by Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” entitled:—

The Mariners of England.

Lord Nelson and Bronte   ...   Mr. W. L. Abingdon
Admiral Talbot             ... ...   Mr. Frederick Stanley
Admiral Collingwood        ...   Mr. W. H. Brougham
Admiral White              ... ...   Mr. Geoffrey Weedall
Captain Hardy              ... ...   Mr. Adam Alexander
Captain Lebaudy          ... ...   Mr. Herbert Sleath
Lieutenant Portland          ...    Mr. Ernest Mainwaring
Mr. Lestrange              ... ...   Mr. Gilbert Wemys
Mr. Beaumont             ... ...   Mr. Cyril Catley
Tom Trip                     ... ...   Mr. E. M. Robson
Old Trip                     ... ...    Mr. Julius Royston
John Marston             ... ...    Mr. Tom Taylor
Bill Buckett                 ... ...   Mr. Charles H. Fenton
Joe Appleyard            ... ...   Mr. Geo. Hareton
Officer of Coastguard    ...    Mr. Frank Stribly
Harry Dell                 ... ...    Mr. Charles Glenney
Mabel Talbot             ... ...   Miss Keith Wakeman
Nelly Dell                   ... ...   Miss Florence Tanner
Polly Appleyard        ... ...    Miss Edith Bruce

     After a trial trip at Nottingham last week, particulars of which were duly recorded in the last number of THE STAGE by our local correspondent, The Mariners of England, with Horatio, Lord Nelson, as the central figure in the story, has been submitted to a London audience, and successfully so submitted, we make haste to say. No purpose would be served by drawing any comparison between this second of the Nelson plays and that produced a few weeks ago at the Avenue. It will suffice to tell such playgoers as having seen Nelson’s Enchantress, may think that they do not need to see another production on the same theme, that there is no similarity whatever between the two pieces. Even Nelson’s death in the cockpit of the “Victory,” which is the only scene represented in both plays, is differently presented, the death taking place at the Olympic towards the footlights, in full view of the house, whereas, in the Avenue play, it will be remembered, it was represented behind a gauze as in a dream (Lady Hamilton’s). There is a distinct and very welcome salt flavour about The Mariners of England, which will no doubt go far to ensure its success with popular playgoers who enjoy the salt of the sea just as they do the scent of the new-mown hay when it is wafted across the footlights to them. Nor can anybody’s susceptibilities be hurt in this production by the picture drawn by the authors of the greatest of England’s admirals. The good name of Nelson is upheld throughout, for he is presented to us as a man imbued with the idea of his country’s greatness, and, as a consequence, beloved and honoured by his men. Of Lady Hamilton we see nothing; nor, indeed, is any mention made in the course of the drama of the fascination this beautiful woman exercised over England’s naval hero. We hear the name only on the lips of the dying admiral when he says, “Take care of Lady Hamilton.” But, if we have no skeletons unearthed, the play contains, nevertheless, sufficient love interest to satisfy the average playgoer, whose taste, let the advanced psychologists say what they will, still lies in the direction of honest love rather than lawless passion. And the love interest in The Mariners of England is of the kind beloved by the patrons of melodrama, its course temporarily ruffled by the machinations of the villain, who seeks to fasten upon an innocent man a crime of which he knows him to be innocent. There is, perhaps, a little too much of the comic love scenes between Polly Appleyard and Tom Trip, and too little of Lord Nelson himself in Mr. Buchanan’s play. And this will be the more felt by the serious-minded portion of the audience, because the interpretation given of Nelson by Mr. W. L. Abingdon is in every way one of the best conceptions this actor has presented to the stage. Generally associated with villainy, it comes as a relief to see so clever an actor playing in a different vein in the masterly manner he does. The Olympic Nelson is a completely sympathetic character. There is, in turn, gentleness, as well as the tone of command in his voice, besides a happy blend of kindness and dignity, in his manner, according to whether Nelson is engaged in talking to pretty women or merely issuing orders to his men. And this being so, the spectator could well have seen more of Nelson. Mr. Abingdon’s make-up, too, no less than his acting, deserves a word of praise. He has managed to copy the portraits of the great Admiral, the matter even of his armless coat-sleeve being most perfectly arranged. Mr. Charles Glenney is the most manly and loyal of “salts,” besides being a true-hearted lover and staunch supporter of the wronged woman. As the sailor wrongly accused of attempting the life of Lord Nelson—which, as a matter of fact, he is instrumental in saving—Mr. Glenney obtains the full sympathy of the house, and deserves it; whilst execration is as legitimately bestowed upon, and merited by, Mr. Herbert Sleath for his impersonation of the gentlemanly villain, Captain Lebaudy. A villain of a totally different character falls to Mr. Tom Taylor, whose John Marston is an extremely well-thought-out performance. Another cleverly-portrayed character is that of the blind Admiral Talbot, furnished by Mr. Frederick Stanley. Not a very prominent part, perhaps, as the authors wrote it, but it becomes so in the actor’s hands. The Admiral Collingwood of Mr. W. H. Brougham forms also an agreeable adjunct to the picture, the chief characteristic of the impersonation being—and rightly so—dignity; this same quality being likewise contributed by Mr. Geoffrey Weedall and Mr. Adam Alexander, who appear respectively as Admiral White and Captain Hardy. Comic relief is afforded by Mr. E. M. Robson, whose Tom Trip, whether by the seashore, when he talks about Harry Dell, the waif, as his “son,” or in full regimentals on board H.M.S. “Victory,” is a very amusing performance. The smaller parts of Lieutenant Portland, two midshipmen, and others played by Messrs. Ernest Mainwaring, Gilbert Wemys, Cyril Catley, Julius Royston, Charles H. Fenton, George Hareton, and Frank Stribly are all in good hands, the cast generally having been well selected. Despite the number of names on the programme, only three are those of women. But there is none the less a deal of feminine interest in The Mariners of England. Admiral Talbot’s niece, Mabel, and the good-hearted Polly Appleyard furnishing the happy love scenes of the story; whilst disappointment and despair are very befittingly portrayed by Miss Florence Turner, who, as Harry’s foster-sister, Nelly, appeals in turn pleadingly and reproachfully to the villainous Captain Lebaudy to acknowledge her as his wife. The Mabel Talbot of Miss Keith Wakeman is a very pretty picture to gaze upon, for the actress looks quite charming in her high-waisted, clinging dresses. She plays, too, with the requisite grace and abandon, and gives and receives kisses in turn from Lord Nelson and her sweetheart, Harry Dell, in truly delightful fashion. What, however, would make Miss Keith Wakeman’s impersonation more agreeable would be a better control over her voice, the deeper tones of which sometimes prove a little trying to the audience. This slight drawback is partly natural, no doubt, but as we think with care it can be modified, we venture to draw the young actress’s attention to it. The mounting of the play has been very well carried out indeed, the coast scene of the old town of Dover of the first act, no less than the cliffs of the same town in the next act being such as to show the work of the scenic artist at his best. Whilst the exact reproduction of the deck of H.M.S. “Victory” and the place where Nelson fell, will afford huge delight to all who have gone over his historic vessel in Portsmouth Harbour.

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The Graphic (13 March, 1897)

The Theatres

BY W. MOY THOMAS

     IF Nelson’s Enchantress was but a succession of episodes in the private and public life of Nelson, the new Nelson drama with which Mr. Robert Buchanan and his collaborator, “Charles Marlowe,” have furnished the management of the OLYMPIC belongs emphatically to the old school of melodrama which regards a “plot,” as it used to be called, as an indispensable condition. Clearly the authors of The Mariners of England have no faith in the formless play, and look with distrust upon the impressionist method. So, after the good old fashion of Douglas Jerrold, Thomas Dibdin and the late Mr. Pettitt, they have constructed a piece in which virtue and romantic ardour once more contend for four long acts with villainy, subtle daring, and unscrupulous, till in the dramatists’ own good time the wrongdoer is confounded and the hero triumphantly vindicated. They set but little store upon absolute freshness in their materials, as is evident from the fact that their hero, rushing forward to prevent murder, is, through an unhappy combination of circumstances, mistaken for the assassin; for this, it will be remembered, was the cardinal situation in the play called One of the Best, brought out at the ADELPHI a year or two ago; but originality is not looked for in plays of this class. That the authors have set forth a plausible story will hardly be said. It is not easy to conceive a young officer of Nelson’s own ship, and a nephew of a venerable English admiral to boot, conspiring with a scoundrel and spy in the employment of Bonaparte’s Government to stab the hero of the Nile as he is taking a walk by moonlight on the cliffs at Deal, and then cast his body into the sea. Still more difficult to imagine is the notion of making Nelson condone this murderous attack upon himself lest the news of his young officer’s terrible depravity should distress the feelings of the latter’s venerable uncle. Anomalies, however, abound in the OLYMPIC piece, not the least being the free and easy fashion in which the old Admiral’s beautiful niece, Mabel Talbot, gives her heart to Harry Dell, an honest, able-bodied seaman, of the Victory, and spends her time in promenading with him upon the cliffs by moonlight, not to speak of the rustic dances in which the great folk of the neighbourhood and the honest peasantry mingle with a disregard of social distinctions that recalls Mr. Gilbert’s Bab Ballads. Nelson, it will have been perceived, has little to do with all this beyond the fact that he is supposed to be the object of the wicked plot and the murderous attack; but all this furnishes the excuse for an exciting court-martial scene, which has some affinity with the famous episode in Black Ey’d Susan, and prepares the way for the two tableaux of the third act, in one of which Nelson is beheld shot down on the deck of his ship in the moment of his triumph, and in the other is seen dying in the cockpit of the Victory. With all its large admixture of make-believe, however, the new drama appeared to greatly excite and please the first night audience. It is, on the whole, well acted; though Mr. Charles Glenney is hardly sufficiently romantic of aspect for the part of the young man-o’-war’s man, whose high-sounding speeches cast such a spell upon the Admiral’s niece in the comely person of Miss Keith Wakeman. Mr. Abingdon’s Nelson, though hardly so convincing as Mr. Forbes Robertson’s, is a well-studied and highly finished portrait, and other parts are cleverly played by Mr. Herbert Sleath, Mr. E. M. Robson, Miss Florence Tanner, and Miss Edith Bruce.

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The Athenæum (13 March, 1897 - No. 3620, p.356)

DRAMA
_____

THE WEEK.

     COMEDY.—‘The Saucy Sally,’ a Farce in Three Acts.
From the French by F. C. Burnand.
     OLYMPIC.—‘The Mariners of England,’ a Drama in Four Acts and
Two Tableaux. By Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe.

. . .

     Primitive almost beyond precedent is the melodrama in which Mr. Buchanan and his associate have chosen to enshrine some events, real or fictitious, of the career of Nelson. Every character in the play has been seen before in ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ or other nautical dramas. The piece is intended, however, for a primitive public, and is exactly suited to that at the Olympic. That it would make a strong impression upon a more sophisticated audience is improbable. It is well placed, however, and is in a sense well shaped and well written, and will probably have an enduring success in the country towns for which presumably it is intended. To see Nelson kidnapped or murdered by spies—one of them a naval captain—in the interest of Napoleon, and a plotted invasion, is a bold idea, not, however, very cleverly worked  out. The introduction of a mimic battle of Trafalgar, in which Nelson is wounded, and the presentation of the death scene in the cabin of the Victory are concessions to modern taste, and may well help the fortunes of the piece. Abundant absurdities might be pointed out, and the loudly avowed affection of the daughter of an admiral for a common sailor has a distinctly Gilbertian ring. Mr. W. L. Abingdon was well made up as Nelson, and in the less emotional scenes looked the character to the life. In the death scene, where strong facial play was used, the resemblance was lost. Mr. Charles Glenney gave a conventionally powerful rendering of a sailor hero, and Mr. Sleath showed decided talent as the villain.

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The Era (13 March, 1897)

THE OLYMPIC.
_____

On Tuesday, March 9th, the Romantic Drama,
in Four Acts and Two Tableaux,
by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, entitled
“THE MARINERS OF ENGLAND.”

Lord Nelson and Bronte ...    Mr W. L. ABINGDON
Admiral Talbot           ... ...    Mr FREDERICK STANLEY
Admiral Collingwood      ...   Mr W. H. BROUGHAM
Admiral White            ... ...   Mr GEOFFREY WEEDALL
Captain Hardy            ... ...   Mr ADAM ALEXANDER
Captain Lebaudy        ... ...   Mr HERBERT SLEATH
Lieutenant Portland        ...    Mr ERNEST MAINWARING
Mr Lestrange             ... ...    Mr GILBERT WEMYS
Mr Beaumont            ... ...    Mr CYRIL CATLEY
Tom Trip                   ... ...    Mr E. M. ROBSON
Old Trip                     ... ...   Mr JULIUS ROYSTON
John Marston             ... ...   Mr TOM TAYLOR
Bill Buckett               ... ...    Mr CHARLES H. FENTON
Joe Appleyard          ... ...    Mr GEO. HARETON
Officer of Coastguard    ...   Mr FRANK STRIBLY
Harry Dell                 ... ...   Mr CHARLES GLENNEY
Mabel Talbot           ... ...    Miss KEITH WAKEMAN
Nelly Dell                 ... ...    Miss FLORENCE TANNER
Polly Appleyard        ... ...  Miss EDITH BRUCE

     Mr Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriett Jay in concocting The Mariners of England have done a bold, clever, and ingenious thing. They have simply turned H.M.S. Pinafore back from roguish travestie to sober earnest. In the Olympic piece there is a “common” sailor—“Oh, the irony of the word!”—who loves his admiral’s niece; there is a Dick Deadeye of the most repulsive type; and there is a dénouement similar to that in which the bumboat woman with gipsy blood in her veins confesses that she “mixed the children up, and not a creature knew it.” The expedient adopted by the authors was completely successful, and The Mariners of England was received on Tuesday evening with every symptom of enthusiastic satisfaction.
     The action opens at Dover, and, after some preliminary discussion, we are introduced to Harry Dell, a sailor in the Navy; to his foster-sister, Nelly; to Miss Mabel Talbot, niece of Admiral Talbot, a blind old sea-dog; to Captain Lebaudy, the aristocratic villain of the play, and to John Marston, a plebeian spy in the pay of France. Harry is beloved by Mabel, and Lebaudy has seduced Nelly. In this act Nelson appears, and displays his historic gentleness and humanity. The first scene of the second act is on the Cliffs at Dover, near Admiral Talbot’s house. Lebaudy plans with Marston the assassination of Lord Nelson, who is to be disabled by Marston and his gang, and thrown over the cliff. Nelly meets Lebaudy, and implores him to marry her, threatening and beseeching by turns; but he is case-hardened against both influences. Polly Appleyard, a barmaid, warns Harry that there is something between his foster-sister and the Captain; and Harry’s hatred for Lebaudy is increased by his suspicions. Marston and his men attack nelson, and knock him down; Harry comes to the rescue, and, while Nelson is insensible, is wounded by Marston, who then makes his escape. Harry is accused by Lebaudy of the crime, strikes the villain to the earth, and is pursued by a party of coastguardsmen to Fairlight Cove, where he leaps into the sea, a coastguard who had grappled with him being shot, in error, by the detachment. Harry, though he gets away to France, cannot endure his reflections; and returns in the third act to give himself up for a trial, which takes place in the state cabin of H.M.S. Victory. Here a court-martial pronounces Harry Guilty; but Nelson, who has been interesting himself in the case, orders Marston to be brought in, and the latter completely exonerates Harry, without, however, “peaching” on Lebaudy. The villain, therefore, is able to bring forward the charge against Harry of having struck his superior officer. Nelson again interferes in favour of the honest sailor. In an interview with Lebaudy in the presence of Captain Hardy, Nelson tells the former that he—Nelson—has learned from Marston of Lebaudy’s share in the assassination scheme. nelson then dismisses Lebaudy from the service, afterwards making Harry a lieutenant. The hero is thus able to take part in the battle of Trafalgar, which is depicted in powerfully picturesque fashion in the first tableau of this act, Nelson’s death in the cockpit of the Victory being shown in the second tableau. In the last act, Lebaudy, at the point of death from remorse, confesses that Harry, now a captain, is Admiral Talbot’s own son, thus completing the satisfaction of the lovers and the audience.
     Nelson, it will be observed, plays an important part in the plot of The Mariners of England; and an able representative of our great naval hero was found in Mr W. L. Abingdon, whose dignity and expressive ease were admirable in the character. Those who have only seen Mr Abingdon as a villain of the deepest dye can have no idea of how he can combine stately courtesy with humane sentiment, unless they have also seen him as Nelson. In the trial scene, especially, he showed us the great sea captain self-controlled, sedate, but full of feeling and tenderness. In the death scene, so simply pathetic that it almost “acts itself,” Mr Abingdon was, of course, highly effective. Mr Frederick Stanley gave a well-marked and sharply finished portraiture of Admiral Talbot; and Mr Adam Alexander lent mellow colouring to the character of Captain Hardy. Mr Herbert Sleath’s performance as Captain Lebaudy was genuinely artistic, his performance from first to last being clever, consistent, and carefully worked out. It made an excellent impression; and was extremely creditable to the able and conscientious actor. Mr Tom Taylor made John Marston just the grim, surly ruffian that was required, suggesting with skill the dash of mitigating manliness in the ruffian’s nature. Mr E. M. Robson as a smuggler who is afterwards pressed into the marines created considerable amusement by his quaint drollery, and was smartly assisted in his efforts by Miss Edith Bruce in the soubrette part of Polly Appleyard. Miss Florence Tanner put much passionate feeling into Nelly’s scene with Lebaudy in the second act, and was generally sweet and sympathetic. Miss Keith Wakeman employed the well-modulated notes of her fine voice expressively in her agreeable impersonation of Mabel Talbot, and was duly dramatic in the more serious scenes in which she had to take part. Mr Charles H. Fenton suggested with skill the senility of Bill Bucket. Mr Charles Glenney’s bold, manly, and energetic impersonation of Harry Dell won the hearts of the audience from start to finish. In every sense of the phrase he filled the part, and the strength and solidity of his embodiment were as keenly appreciated as its earnestness. The minor parts were all creditably sustained.
     Separate notice is due to the mounting, which was complicated, elaborate, and artistic. We were shown most graphically the heat and hurry of the naval engagement in the scene on the deck of the Victory. Decided credit is due to Mr William Holmes, the producer of the piece, for the excellent way in which the grouping of the sailors, marines, and officers have been arranged and for the complete manner in which they have been trained in their business. Seldom has an engagement at sea been so realistically represented on the English stage. The tableaux carry us away into the thick of the combat, and rouse the audience to a high pitch of patriotic and pugnacious excitement. Mr Robert Buchanan and Miss Jay are to be thanked for having given form and shape on the boards to one of the most memorable incidents of England’s history. But the whole of the scenery by Messrs Bruce Smith and Walter Drury is excellent, and will appear to still greater advantage when certain trifling defects of setting, quite excusable in such a difficult production, have been removed. Mr A. G. Bagot merits warm praise for the accuracy of the naval details, all of which he superintended. They added very valuably to the success of the piece. The Mariners of England is vividly interesting, thrillingly patriotic, and illusively effective. If patriotism and hero-worship are not dead within the breasts of the population, the Buchanan- Marlowe play ought to fill the Olympic Theatre to the doors for many months to come.

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Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (14 March, 1897 - p.6)

OLYMPIC THEATRE.

     In The Mariners of England Messrs. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe” have provided a stirring and healthful drama of Nelson’s days without attaching scandal to the greatest of British naval heroes. It is a nautical piece of the style for which audiences have ever shown a decided preference. The brave and honest tar is presented in the most favourable light, and the crafty villain deserves even more contempt than he receives when his plots to wreck the good name and happiness of cheery Harry Dell are exposed. Nelson is the cause of the young sailor’s disgrace as well as his restoration to honour. The Admiral is attacked while walking at night by the seashore, and Dell comes to his rescue, but it is made to appear that he was among the assailants. Dell surrenders himself on board the Victory, and is tried. The evidence is altogether against the prisoner, when suddenly Nelson produces a witness who puts an entirely new complexion upon affairs. Less surprising to the habitual play-goer is the discovery that Dell si the long-lost son of Admiral Talbot; and that, on the ground of social position no less than of gallant conduct and general rectitude, he can claim the hand of the devoted Mabel, hitherto his superior from the worldly point of view. This is the story, told with directness, simplicity, and perfect command of dramatic effect. After Dell’s innocence is proved comes the battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson in the cockpit of the Victory. Both from the pictorial and histrionic aspects this portion of the drama is exceedingly well done, the tableaux being striking in their realism, whilst Mr. W. L. Abingdon pathetically illustrates the final moments of the beloved commander. Harry Dell has an energetic representative in Mr. Charles Glenney; the subtlety of the chief scoundrel is unobtrusively yet clearly defined by Mr. Herbert Sleath; and Miss Keith Wakeman makes a sympathetic heroine. The incidental comic passages devolve upon Miss Edith Bruce and Mr. E. M. Robson. There are the elements of popularity in The Mariners of England.

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From The Theatrical ‘World’ of 1897 by William Archer (London: Walter Scott, Ltd., 1898 - p.81)

“THE MARINERS OF ENGLAND.”

                                                                                                                                                   17th March.

     As I can find nothing praiseworthy in the conception, construction, or writing, and nothing noteworthy in the acting, of The Mariners of England, by Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” and as, on the other hand, it is too puerile to call for serious condemnation, I prefer to pass it over in silence. It was cerainly rather painful to see the death of Nelson treated as a limelit scene of vulgar melodrama; but fortunately one had long ago ceased to associate, even in make-believe, the figure on the stage with the name in the playbill.

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The Penny Illustrated Paper (20 March, 1897 - p.177)

marinerspip

“The Mariners of England,”

by Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” is a robust melodrama of the Nelson period, remarkably well mounted and played at the Olympic. Indeed, it would be hard to excel the dramatic strength of the Court-Martial Scene, in which the brave and innocent Harry Dell (like another William Terriss) is wrongly accused of an attempt to murder Nelson, but is nobly vindicated by the great Admiral in person, who is impersonated with dignity by Mr. W. L.  Abingdon. Nor would it be easy to beat for stirring effect and vraisemblance the deck of the Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, or the pathos of Nelson’s death. A story of love and treason is interwoven with these historic scenes, and in the end the faithful lovers are made happy in approved fashion. The treasonable Lebaudy is a character rendered with incisive force by Mr. Herbert Sleath, who reminded me of Sir Henry Irving in his early days of melodrama in town. Harry Dell has a brave exponent in Mr. Charles Glenney. Irresistibly funny are Mr. E. M. Robson and Miss Edith Bruce in their comic courting scenes. Miss Keith Wakeman is a rich-voiced heroine; and the other chief parts are exceptionally well played.

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The City Punch Bowl (20 March, 1897 - p.14)

punchmariners

The Academy (20 March, 1897 - p.336-337)

     I HAVE no objection to Nelson or any other historical person being put onto the stage, but he is being done to death a little too much at present. The cock-pit scene is all very well, but two editions of it in so short a time fatigue. Of the two, I thought Mr. Abingdon died better than Mr. Forbes Robertson: he may not have been more like Nelson, but he was more like a dying man. “The Mariners of England,” by Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” is a better play than “Nelson’s Enchantress,” in the sense that in construction it is more like a play. In dialogue and in characterisation it is infinitely worse, which is saying a good deal. I mean that it is very silly and impossible, but that, of course, does not mean that it is not ever adapted by its authors to the tastes they designed to gratify. It is full of foolishly expressed patriotism and false sentiment and claptrap generally, and its plot is a farrago of nonsense. I hesitate to criticise its naval details, since I notice that Admiral Field has said they are realistic. I may say they are surprising. Mr. Charles Glenney was very manly and robust and affecting. Mr. Abingdon was distinctly good; he carried through a scene in which he had to dismiss a bad officer with dignity and verisimilitude. Mr. Sleath, as the villain in question, was over-subdued for melodrama. He quite suggested a villain in real life. By the way, his repentance in the last act and his handshaking with the hero annoyed me very much; but that was Mr. Buchanan’s fault or the fault of Charles Marlowe. There is some good “spectacular effect” in the piece, which is being played at the Olympic.
                                                                                                                                                       G. S. S.

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The Stage (25 March, 1897 - p.13)

     It is pleasant to hear of the success of an actor who has had the courage to break new ground in his career. Mr. W. L. Abingdon, successful as a heavy man, boldly undertook a new line of business in Nelson in The Mariners of England at the Olympic, and the result proves how right he was in estimating his own powers. All the papers have been unanimous in praise of his performance, and his portrait of the grand old naval hero stands out as a masterpiece of the actors’ art. There is always an inclination to follow in a groove, and, too frequently, actors are even compelled to stick to one line of business in consequence of their success in one part. Mr. Abingdon may congratulate himself on his pluck in striking out a new career for himself.

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The Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) (3 April, 1897 - p.11)

OUR LONDON LETTER.
____

                                                                                                                             London, 9th March, 1897.

. . .

Next week will witness the production of the much talked about “Mariners of England” by Robert Buchanan and all London hopes for the success of the “Mariners” if for no other reason, than this that the “Olympic” theatre has been taken specially for its pourtrayal by Charles Wilmot’s widow. It is her first venture as a manageress. Having been for so many years associated with her late husband’s managerial successes at the well known “Grand” Theatre at Islington she may be expected to exhibit great cleverness and ability in the choice of her companies. The “Mariners” are to be of Nelson’s time and Nelson himself not in this drama aided an one Enchantress is to be placed in the gifted hands of Mr. W. L. Abingdon an actor of knowledge, ability and taste and possessing the physique and voice necessary for a famous and beloved High Admiral. The hero proper of the play is to be a young seaman who is falsely accused of an attempt on Nelson’s life. Two other characters are to be Admiral Collingwood and an “infamous” Captain the impersonation of which latter will be left to Mr. Charles Glenney. It is matter of regret to Mr. Sydney Grundy who has an article in “Fortnightly” explanatory of his concern that Musical Comedy has begun to rule the roast so alarmingly in England. “For a moment” he observes “the old theatrical public is almost swamped; but a new public is in course of evolution . . . . this cloud will pass. Presently the public will discover that the variety shows are deadly monotonous.” I wonder what his feelings will be when he witnesses “Saucy Sally” by that most comic of all farcical comedians Mr. F. C. Burnand finding a long enduring home at the pretty Comedy Theatre. This, like the “Mariners of England” is to see the light for the first time this week. Mr. Charles Hawtrey so long associated with the eventful run of the “Private Secretary” will take a leading part. “Saucy Sally” by the way is not a girl, but a boat. Another part will be taken by that inimitable creator of comic female parts Mrs. Charles Calvert. The three scenes of the piece are to be placed in a drawing-room at a country house, in the Ship and Anchor Hotel at Southampton and in the heroine’s apartments in London. The “Saucy Sally” herself will put in no material appearance. I suppose it is the increased interest being taken everywhere over the country in the cry for the efficiency and manning of the Navy which is responsible for the unequalled popularity of nautical plays. “Black Eyed Susan” threatens to go on for years at the Adelphi Theatre. “Nelson and his Enchantress” is doing well at the Avenue and now also in London we are to have the “Mariners of England” and “Saucy Sally.” Incitement to enlistment in the Navy is, it is said, palpably evident in the volume of cheers which nightly greet “Black Eyed Susan.” By the bye the scenes both in “Black Eyed Susan” as well as in the “Mariners” are laid at that old fashioned and picturesque port in South Eastern England—Deal so old fashioned is it that the boatmen and fishermen on the beach there now may be seen wearing tall tile hats just as they did when the Queen came to the throne.

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The New York Dramatic Mirror (10 April, 1897 - p.16)

THE LONDON STAGE.
_____

GAWAIN’S GOSSIP.

The Mariners of England-- Saucy Sally--
Fregoll--American Plays.

(Special Correspondence of The Mirror.)

                                                                                                                             LONDON, March 12, 1897.

     The second of some three Nelson plays has at length made its appearance in London at the Olympic this week, after a six-nights’ trial trip in the historic town of Nottingham, which became much battered about in the late great wars between King Charles I. and the Roundhead Parliamentary Army led on by Oliver Cromwell. The latest Nelsonian drama is boldly and breezily called The Mariners of England, which is certainly a better title than that given to Nelson play No. 1—namely, Nelson’s Enchantress, of which I gave some account a week or two ago. Moreover, Nelson drama No. 2 has happily no enchantress in it—no Lady Hamilton or any such wholesale concubine.
     The authors of The Mariners of England, the poet-playwright, Robert Buchanan, and the actress-novelist-playwright, Harriet Jay, who of late prefers to be billed as “Charles Marlowe,” have wisely confined themselves to the purely heroic side of our great national hero; also, and still wisely, they have taken care not to make our G. N. H. the real leading character of the play. This function is fulfilled by one Harry Dell, a true British tar, who starting, like our young friend Tom Jones as a foundling, fights his way through difficulties and dangers to an important command in His Majesty’s fleet, and subsequently proves to be the long lost son of a fine old English Admiral. En route, however, the gallant Harry is a good deal handicapped and pegged back. His first important check occurs after he has at the risk of his life rescued the great Lord Nelson from being thrown headlong from Dover Cliff by a band of bold, bad smugglers engaged by a French spy. Harry is, in strict accordance with the canons of melodrama, forthwith falsely accused of the great sea lion’s attempted murder! Nay, more; he is promptly court martialed for the same. Yea, and he would have been also swiftly yardarmed, to boot, but that the good Nelson, seeing reason to give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt, straightway causes him to be released, and ships him aboard the good ship Victory.
     Once aboard this gallant craft, Hero Harry performs prodigies of valor, even becoming apparently the chief helper of Nelson in winning that never-to-be forgotten victory at Trafalgar. In connection with this episode, our authors show a couple of very striking tableaux, namely, the battle of Trafalgar, and the subsequent death of Nelson in the cockpit of the Victory. In short, The Mariners of England is a very good and stirring specimen of naval melodrama, and, whether it succeeds or not at the long ill-fated Olympic, it should do well on the road.
     Some of the acting is very good, notably that of Charles Glenney as hero Harry Dell; W. L. Abingdon, who has lately become quite virtuous in his histrionic functions, as Nelson; E. M. Robson, a son of the late great Robson, as a comic smuggler; Edith Bruce as his sweetheart; Herbert Sleath, who is running the show, as the Anglo French spy; and Keith Wakeman as the heroine, Mabel Talbot. Miss Wakeman looks very handsome and imposing; the only fault I have to find with her in this piece is that she lets her fine contralto voice go down, down, down too far towards her boots, which sounds all right for a persecuting villainess, but is not so appropriate for a persecuted heroine.

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The Era (22 January, 1898 - p.12)

     MR ROBERT BUCHANAN’S play The Mariners of England will shortly be sent on tour under the direction of Mr Herbert Sleath. The tour is being booked by Mr C. St. John Denton’s manager, Mr Frank Weathersby.

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The Era (30 April, 1898)

“YE MARINERS OF ENGLAND.”
_____

TO THE EDITOR OF THE ERA.

     Sir,—On my own behalf and that of Mr Buchanan who collaborated with me in the play produced last year under this title, I wish to explain why our names will be withdrawn from future announcements and advertisements. On the understanding that this should be done, we have parted with all our rights and interests in the piece, so far, at least, as Great Britain is concerned, and have given the purchaser carte blanche to alter and produce it in any way he thinks expedient. We disclaim, therefore, all responsibility for future productions of the piece, from which our names will henceforth be absolutely disassociated. At the same time, we wish it all success, as the arrangement I have described is a perfectly friendly one, and we know that the play is in good hands.
     I am desired by Mr Buchanan to add that his chief reason for disassociating himself from this particular play is the fact that the attempt to celebrate the achievement of a real national Hero has been construed, in some quarters, into sympathy with more ignoble manifestations of the national (or Jingo) spirit, against which he has always protested in his writings. It is better, therefore, that the fame and name of Nelson should be relinquished altogether into other hands.
     Yours faithfully,                   HARRIETT JAY
     April 28th, 1898.             (“Charles Marlowe.”).

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The Era (20 August, 1898 - p.9)

THE ELEPHANT AND CASTLE.
On Monday, Aug 15th,
the Drama, in Four Acts and Two Tableaux,
by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, entitled
“THE MARINERS OF ENGLAND.”

     Stirring scenes by sea and land are to be found at the Elephant and Castle this week, where Mr Herbert Sleath’s company is presenting the Olympic play, produced for the first time in March of last year, entitled The Mariners of England. It deals with that most eminent mariner, Britannia’s pet hero, Nelson, a bulwark of England’s might and majesty, and a warrior of imperishable memory. The famous Battle of Trafalgar is placed before the eye with wonderful spectacular effects, to be changed with marvellous celerity to the solemn tableau of the dying admiral that concludes the piece. Mr Sleath, who was the original Captain Lebaudy, brings his ripe talent to bear on the part of Lord Nelson. He gives to the character the humane characteristics of the victorious sailor and all the necessary tragic intensity, while his appearance realises with extraordinary correctness the admiral’s pictures. Mr Ernest Leicester, stalwart and handsome, acts the much-injured Harry Dell with vigour and virility, and the effect of his admirable acting is to bring forth many manifestations of approval for his manly deed and his breezy sayings. Hatred undiluted and undisguised is aroused by the many-sided villainy of Captain Lebaudy, impersonated with strength and meaning by Mr Charles Whitley, an actor of much merit; while the victim of his heartlessness, Nelly, is thrillingly performed by Miss E. M. Hughes. Tom Tripp, in the hands of that well-tried actor, Mr T. P. Haynes, is the means of unflagging merriment whenever he is about, and every assistance is given in this respect by his sweetheart, Polly Appleyard, vivaciously represented by Miss Rosie Lewis. The acting of Miss Alice Underwood as Mabel Talbot pleads powerfully for sympathy, and a full measure of that quality is given her by her tear-bereft auditors, whose best feelings are aroused by the talented actress’s performance. Mr W. Parker has a fine appearance as Captain Hardy, and in the court-martial scenes displays elocutionary abilities of a high order. Mr John S. Wood distinguishes himself as Admiral Talbot, while as Marston Mr C. W. McCabe is resolute and convincing. Mr J. Sutton Pateman makes a capital Bill Buckett, and the other parts are wholly excellent. Too much praise could not be bestowed on the scenery and uniforms throughout, for which Bruce Smith and Morris Angel are respectively responsible; and the patrons of the theatre have given audible and vehement expression to their complete satisfaction with the spectacle. Mr J. Wakehurst is Mr Sleath’s business representative, and the orchestra, led by Mr Edward Parker, performs in the course of the evening an admirable selection of music.

___

 

The Belfast News-Letter (12 September, 1899 - p.5)

AMUSEMENTS.
_____

THEATRE ROYAL.

     In “The Mariners of England” we have a play which should bring everybody to the Theatre Royal. Its claim to be a drama has been emphasised by several adjectives which need not be adopted, but all the same it is a drama, a powerful and a healthy one, recalling Britain’s greatest triumphs at sea, idealising her dearest hero, and freshened by salt breezes in all their recuperative realism. In a day when melodrama of the mechanical type fills most of the place unoccupied by so-called musical comedy such healthy and well-enacted pieces are especially welcome. The programme issued last evening did not contain the name of the author, possibly because certain departures have been made from Robert Buchanan’s original text, but the work is apparently his in substance. The plot is worked out with no little success, though its patriotic flavour is perhaps marred by the fact that a naval officer is the leading exponent of villainy. But the interest centres naturally upon Nelson, who occupies as prominent a part in “The Mariners of England” as does Napoleon in “A Royal Divorce”—a piece which in point of historic interest and accuracy of contemporary setting much resembles it. The Lord Nelson of the play (admirably impersonated by Mr. Ernest R. Abbott, who has marshalled the excellent company at present appearing at the Royal) is pourtrayed acceptably as a man cool in the presence of mortal peril, stern in discipline, unerringly sound of judgment, and—as we, his admirers, wish to think of him—kindly of heart, and gifted with the gentlest conception of humour. The other personages introduced are drawn with a master hand, are attired in the costume of their period, and speak its language. This much may be said before mentioning spectacular effects, which should always be subservient to the play and its players. They are, however, completely realistic, from the scene depicting the ancient town of Deal to the cockpit of H.M.S. Victory, where in the closing act one witnesses again the scene so sadly familiar to all patriotic students of England’s later history. Mr. Abbott’s performance is dignified, subdued, and effective—free from the too brilliant colouring which would prevent us from identifying our hero. Mr. Fred Terris, a cultivated elocutionist, with great command of appropriate gesture, represents the true-hearted sailor, Harry Dell, who is submitted to a court-martial under circumstances faintly suggestive of Dreyfus; and Mr. W. H. Garbois in the impersonation of a villainous traitor never forgets that Captain Lebaudy must necessarily have learnt the speech and manners of a gentleman. Miss Ida Phillips is a graceful, refined, and womanly Mabel Talbot, and Miss Rosie Lewis a sympathetic Nellie Dell. Mr. T. P. Haynes infuses a great deal of robust and breezy humours into the part of Tom Tripp, the frequent supporter of the hero, and Mr. George Croft as the spy Marston achieves a triumph in what may be termed “deputy villainy.”

marinerscol

The Folkestone Herald (28 October, 1899 - p.11)

PLEASURE GARDENS THEATRE.

. . .

NEXT WEEK AT THE THEATRE.
_____

THE “MARINERS OF ENGLAND” OR
“THE DAYS OF NELSON.”

     Owing to the success and the cordial reception accorded to “The Mariners of England” or “The Days of Nelson” on the occasion of its first production in this town at the above Theatre just twelve months ago, Mr. Rowlands, with his usual business tact, has made arrangements for its revival next week. The play, which is written in four acts, is from the pen of that very clever writer and dramatist, Mr. Robert Buchanan, and is as its title suggests purely a nautical one. For the edification of our readers who did not avail themselves of the opportunity of witnessing the performances last time, we might say that the plot of the play is founded upon the leading historical events connected with the life of Lord Nelson, from the time he achieved such a grand and glorious victory at the Battle of the Nile to his sad and somewhat tragic ending at Trafalgar. The chief scenes of the play are laid on board the old ship Victory—which at the present time is lying in Portsmouth Harbour—and shows a court martial during the commencement of this century, also the Battle of Trafalgar as seen from the “poop” of the Victory at the time Nelson receives the fatal wound and his subsequent death in the cockpit. The Company, as on the last occasion, is an all round excellent one although it has undergone several changes. It is now under the proprietorship of Ernest R. Abbot, who is responsible for the entire production as well as the difficult role of Admiral Lord Nelson. No matter where this piece has been produced, it has always met with the success it deserves, and the press have stated the tableaux to be the masterpiece of scenic art. When we add the fact that the Company again bring with them all the elaborate scenery and costumes that were used during its original production at the Olympic Theatre, London, where it had a most successful run, crowded houses should be the order of the day at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre next week.

___

 

The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent (10 April, 1900 - p.9)

PUBLIC AMUSEMENTS.
_____

THEATRE ROYAL.

     A piece of entirely different character to “The Gay Lord Quex” holds the boards at the Theatre Royal this week. It is the drama, “The Mariners of England,” a play with a strong smack of the sea about it, now being produced by Mr. Ernest R. Abbott’s Company. Though the play is not new, this is the first visit of Mr. Abbott’s company to Sheffield, and dealing as it does with military events and a martial period, the piece should fall in just now with the popular taste. The story, which is from the pen of Robert Buchanan, centres round the actual events of the latter part of Nelson’s career; from the Nile to Trafalgar. The treasonable plot of a rascally Frenchman, Captain Lebaudy, and a French spy, Marston, afford the basis of the plot, and there is also a love episode concerning Harry Dell, a sailor, and Mabel Talbot, a retired admiral’s niece. Dell is suspected of an attempt upon the life of Nelson, of which Lebaudy is the real author, and in the third act there is a realistic representation of the court-martial before which he was tried. Satisfactory proof of his innocence is forthcoming, and the play ends with a realistic scene representing the battle of Trafalgar and Nelson’s death. Mr. E. R. Abbott takes the part of Lord Nelson, of whom he gives a life-like interpretation, and the part of Harry Dell is excellently borne by Mr. Wilson Howard. Mr. George Harris appears as Captain Lebaudy, and Mr. John Lester fills the role of Admiral Talbot, Mabel’s uncle. That young lady herself is charmingly represented by Miss Ada Abbott. Humorous roles are allotted to Mr. T. P. Haynes and Miss Rosie Lewis, and there are many subsidiary characters, whilst the historical accuracy maintained in the costumes and scenes gives a life-like tone to the whole play. The first scene represents the old town of Deal; the second the Cliffs near Dover, where the attack upon nelson is made; the third act takes place on board the Victory, and subsequently there is the battle tableau, which is a very elaborate panorama indeed, and faithful to history, the artists having worked from sketches of the old flagship, taken where it lies in Portsmouth Harbour. The piece had a good run in the Metropolis, and has been well received elsewhere. —On Good Friday evening there will, of course, be no theatrical performance, but a sacred concert has been arranged which promises to be a great musical attraction. The principal artistes will be Miss Eleanor Coward, Miss Marie Stiven, Mr. William Foxon, and Mr. Joseph Lycett, with a large choir and orchestra under the direction of Dr. Henry Coward.

___

 

The Stage (24 July, 1902 - p.11)

THE BRITANNIA.

     Good audiences are being drawn to the great Hoxton playhouse during this, the second, week of the stock season, the drama chosen being The Mariners of England. This successful work, by the late Robert Buchanan and his sister-in- law, loses none of its popularity as presented at the Britannia, the picturesqueness of the staging reaching its height, of course, in the various scenes on the Victory, with the closing tableau representing the death of Nelson in the cockpit of his ship at Trafalgar. The famous Admiral receives a capital character sketch from Mr. Algernon Syms, whom Britannia audiences love to see acting as well as stage managing. Made up according to the accepted portraits, Mr. Syms gives a very effective, impressive, and dignified impersonation of Nelson. Mr. Ernest E. Norris is a bluff and breezy tar as Harry Dell. The wronged Nellie Dell is played feelingly by Miss Judith Kyrle, and Miss Louisa Peach is a graceful and charming Mabel Talbot. Mr. W. S. Hartford successfully makes an out-and-out villain of the treacherous Captain Lebaudy, and Mr. Arthur St. John gives a strong representation of the spy, “Black Jack” Marston. Miss Marie Brian is as bright and vivacious as usual as Polly Appleyard, and Mr. Fred Lawrence, an amusing Tom Tripp, does especially well in the ditty, “The Wonderful Crocodile.” The esteemed Mr. G. B. Bigwood’s grandson, Mr. Jack Bigwood, acts in a praiseworthy manner as Bill Buckett, an old salt. Admiral Talbot and Captain Hardy are played with effect by Mr. Edwin Bennett and Mr. Edwin Fergusson, and other parts are filled capably by Messrs. James Dunlop, W. Barrett, and so on. In the music hall section of the programme a new series of pictures is being exhibited on Forster’s Cinematograph; and other varieties are by Charles Bignell, the Great Zarmo, Minnie Palmerston, Cassie Walmer, Payne’s Vagabonds, and Read and Wright.

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Sunderland Daily Echo (9 September, 1902 - p.5)

The Theatre Royal.

     “The Mariners of England,” which Royal patrons are fortunate in having presented for their approval this week, is one of the very best dramatic works the late Robert Buchanan—clever poet, novelist, and dramatist that he was—wrote. Though somewhat of what is known as the “transpontine” character, it never outrages one’s sense of possibility, and the many stirring incidents which thrill the observers follow in natural sequence. Besides, there are many appeals to that patriotic feeling which is so easily aroused in the Briton; and the brightest side is shown of the character of Lord Nelson, who takes a large part in making everything right for the falsely-accused hero, a seaman in the fleet. The plot will be fresh in the memory of playgoers, as the piece was here not very long ago. As to the representation, of course the grand performance of Mr Ernest R. Abbott as Lord Nelson stands out most prominently as a very satisfactory and finished interpretation, and a big share of the frequent applause fell to his lot. Also first-class are Admiral Talbot and Capt. Hardy (Messrs Clifford-Clifford and J. Lester). The hero, Henry Dell, is breezy and manly, as he should be, in Mr G. C. Doughty’s hands. The villainy is placed in strong contrast to the foregoing by Mr W. H. Garbois as Capt. Lebaudy and Mr John May as his henchman, Marston. Mr Edwin Keene, with Miss Ada Abbott, share the funmaking between them; he being very droll as a bashful swain and she vivacious as his rather pert sweetheart—a well-matched pair. Miss Claire Medwyn does well with the small part of Nellie Dell, and Miss Mercandelli is pleasing as the hero’s sweetheart. All the small rôles are carefully played. The scenery and costumes are excellent, and the continuous rounds of applause that followed each rousing speech or clever piece of acting were most gratifying.

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The Cheltenham Looker-On (5 March, 1904 - p.13)

     A PATRIOTIC Naval Play by the late Robert Buchanan, entitled The Mariners of England, will occupy the Theatre stage next week. This piece, though now in its seventh year of tour, has not yet, we believe, been seen in Cheltenham. It is a story of the days of Nelson, and the hero of Trafalgar is the central figure. Mr. E. R. Abbott, who appears in this character, has already played the part over fifteen hundred times. The last act includes a “stirring and realistic picture” of the Battle of Trafalgar, and concludes with the death of Nelson on board the Victory, on which a large portion of the play is supposed to take place.

_____

 

TRAFALGAR

 

The scenes involving Nelson at Trafalgar were later extracted from The Mariners of England and were performed on their own, originally at the Coliseum, Glasgow on 29th May, 1911, under the title, ’Twas In Trafalgar’s Bay. The first production in London took place at the South London Palace on 4th March, 1912, with the title amended to Trafalgar.

 

Sheffield Daily Telegraph (3 June, 1911 - p.10)

     The bill to be presented at the Empire is a particularly strong one, having as its premier attraction a grand nautical and spectacular sketch, entitled “’Twas In Trafalgar’s Bay,” written by the late Robert Buchanan. It will be presented by the well-known London actor, Herbert Sleath, who will be supported by a powerful company of artists.

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The Manchester Courier (30 March, 1912 - p.11)

trafalgarmanch

The Middlesex Chronicle (3 October, 1914 - p.6)

CHISWICK EMPIRE.

     Mr. Herbert Sleath’s company in a grand nautical spectacular production entitled “Trafalgar,” will be the main attraction at the Chiswick Empire on Monday. The piece, which is in four magnificent scenes, was written by the late Robert Buchanan. The first scene, which represents between decks of the “Victory,” deals with the court-martial of a seaman accused of attempting to take Lord Nelson’s life. The next scene is the upper deck on the night before the battle. The weather is stormy; the clouds roll across the sky, and the waves beat over the vessel in a most realistic manner. Captain Hardy implores Nelson not to wear his medals in the coming fight, but Nelson refuses, and Hardy leaves him in deep prayer. In the third scene a thrilling representation of the battle is given. The sails of the French Fleet are seen as the ships pass the “Victory,” and as the scene closes, Nelson drops wounded. In the last scene, which represents the cock-pit of the “Victory,” Nelson lies in the arms of Captain Hardy, who is surrounded by the officers and men. The news arrives that they have won the day, and Nelson, whispering “Thank God! I have done my duty!” falls back dead. Mr. Herbert Sleath, the popular actor, will play the part of Nelson. Ella Retford, the delightful vocalist and dancer; Jimmy Godden, the comedian from the Empire, Leicester-square; Fennel and Tyson, the American novelty duo; Syd Walker, comedian; Josephine Langley, the double-voiced lady ventriloquist; Carlton Brough, in patriotic songs and recitations; and the Sisters Webb, vocalists and dancers, complete a powerful programme. Seats may be booked locally at Messrs. Webb Bros., High-street.

trafalagrsm

[Poster for the Leeds Hippodrome, week beginning 30th November, 1914. Click the picture for a larger image.]

 

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