Mr. Henry Compton

It is with extreme regret we chronicle the compulsory retirement from the stage of Henry Compton, comedian. The man exists, but the witty, eccentric, genial actor is no more. Rare is the man or woman of the present generation who is not acquainted with his speciality, or who does not cherish grateful recollections of hearty laughs indulged in at his bidding. This actor was endowed with one of the richest veins of humour (and we have seen him in most of his characters) that ever fell to the share of an eccentric delineator of stage oddities. He was not a one-part actor, but exhibited a multitude of contrarieties, each one apparently surpassing the other, none falling below the standard of true excellence. He possessed the "grip" of the true artist, and in every phase of variety held his audience with a grasp of iron. His First Champagne, Founded on Fact, and The Fish Out of Water are associated with his earlier triumphs. At the Haymarket he retained his popularity for a number of years; and later on, at the Globe Theatre, under the management of Mr. H.J. Montague, he contributed to the mirthful entertainment of thousands of admiring spectators.

Henry Compton

His Oxeye in Oriana, his Muggles in Partners for Life, and his Paul Cudlipp in Forgiven, are still fresh in the memories of many. He has now arrived at the advanced age of seventy-two years, and is visited with a terrible physical infirmity that incapacitates him for his profession, and must be endured. Our best wishes and kindliest sympathies go with him; and we doubt not that with his affliction our readers will readily sympathise.

Mr. Compton's family name is Mackenzie; he was born in Huntingdon. In his professional studies he began at the lowest round, but sought on the Bedford circuit to shine as light comedian, which he soon wisely left for that of low comedian. After eleven years of hard work at Lincoln and on the York circuit, he appeared in London, at the Lyceum; subsequently at Drury Lane, in the parts of Slender, Tony Lumpkin, Mar All, Mawworm, and the Gravedigger. His reputation as a Shakespearean performer was early established. We shall not easily forget his Launcelot Gobbo and Touchstone. As an actor of sterling merit, and one of our richest low comedians, his name will ever be remembered by all lovers of stage art.

His benefit on Thursday at Drury Lane was produced under the most favourable circumstances, and commanded the services of the élite of the profession. The performances were a scene from Othello, the Moor being personated by Mr. Creswick, and Iago by Mr. Ryder; and scenes from Bulwer's play of Money, with the part of Evelyn by Mr. Edward Compton, the son of the eminent comedian; also from Sheridan's Critic, Morton's Lend me Five Shillings, Macklin's Man of World, and Sullivan Gilbert's Trial by Jury, contributed to the miscellaneous department. A better entertainment could not have been provided.


Henry Compton as Launce


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