An Example of Benevolence Recorded by Colin Hague

Clarence Hague was a member of the Lyceum Company for something over five years during the 1890s. He played in Henry VIII (Surrey), King Lear (Cornwall), Becket (Fitzurse), Much Ado About Nothing (Borachio), Faust (Witch of the Kitchen), Merchant of Venice (Lorenzo), Richard III (Tyrrell) and others in which he did little more than ‘carry a spear’. However he did have one moment of glory for, on 27 September 1894, The Stage reported:-

“Another instance of Sir Henry Irving’s kind and thoughtful good nature occurred last week. On Monday and Tuesday Becket was billed and, at such short notice as to be practically no notice, Mr Clarence Hague undertook to play King Henry II (the part played originally by Mr William Terriss). In recognition of this service, Sir Henry on Saturday evening presented Mr Hague with an 18 carat solid gold combined sovereign purse and matchbox inscribed:- “Clarence Hague, from Sir Henry Irving, 22 September 1894″.

In making the presentation, Sir Henry graced his thanks to Mr Hague with the assurance that the donee’s performance had been ‘admirable, in every way admirable’”.

A playbill for the week indicates that originally Clarence Hague had been cast once again as Sir Reginald Fitzurse. Mr Vanderfelt was billed to play the rôle of King Henry II on this occasion, William Terriss having recently left the company.

The observant reader will have noticed that both the incident and the presentation occurred during the very week when Conan Doyle’s A Story of Waterloo was first seen, at the Prince’s Theatre, Bristol.

A new member of the Society, I have a photograph of the purse/ matchbox presented to my grandfather (unfortunately not suitable for reproduction here). But, sadly, the valuable object itself has long gone astray. It appears that, on leaving Sir Henry Irving, Clarence Hague set up his own company – with only limited success. Nevertheless, I hope to establish more about his career.

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