Henry Irving was born in 1838 and died in 1905.
The book I wanted to write on this very remarkable being, I wanted to be perfect. This is far from perfect, still it is the best that I can do. I hear from afar the quiet, dear voice of my old master, ever critical and kind, saying: "Hmm -- it's a pity the young man's best is so bad!"
This "young man" who is writing here is well over fifty, and though he entered the service of Irving at the age of seventeen (in 1889), he is now what he was then, a young man in so far that his heart feels just the same young affection for his old master as it did in 1889 . . . and has added some understanding to the affection.
All pupils are so, but some prefer to disguise their feelings. I have for long attempted to postpone, and postpone indefinitely, making any record of my master, for the reason I have given. It is a creditable reason, and is one which curbs most disciples or pupils, and in good time curbs them.
But I am off. Let me state at once, in clearest unmistakable terms, that I have never known of, or seen, or heard, a greater actor than was Irving.
This first crow as challenge, and as salute to the sun. I hear, from all the hill-tops, answers coming back from other reckless fellows who strut up and down their own . . .