The thirty-seventh anniversary festival of this institution was held on Monday night in the Freemasons' Tavern. Mr. G.A. Sala took the chair; and among those present were the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex, Mr. Henry Irving, Mr. J. L. Toole, Mr. Bancroft, Mr. John Ryder, Mr. Creswick, Mr. Howe. Mr. Dillon Croker, Mr. Loveday, Sir E. Watkin, M.P., and Sir George Elliott, M.P.
After the local toasts, the chairman, in proposing "Prosperity to the Royal General Theatrical fund," glanced at the work the institution had done since it was founded, in 1839, and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1853. The main object of the fund was to grant annuities to old and infirm actors and actresses, and such members of the fund as, having been subscribers for seven years, had been incapacitated from following their profession by accident, illness, loss of voice, or other infirmity, and were entitled to claim their annuity, and that annuity continued to be paid them until their death. The income, however, fell short by about £600 of the sum required to be paid in these annuities and other advantages which the institution offered, and it was incumbent on the committee of management to make up that deficiency. The chairman concluded with an earnest and eloquent appeal on behalf of those who, in old age, found their means of support fail them.
Mr. T. Swinbourne, in acknowledging the toast, urged the members of his profession to join this society while they were young, and so to make provision for their old age.
Mr. Russell Sturgis proposed "The Drama and the Stage."
Mr. Irving, in responding, remarked that he was almost inclined to think that the toast should be drunk in solemn silence, since they were assured that the drama, at least the imaginative drama, was defunct. Having touched upon the state of the drama, he adverted to the advantages which actors of the present day enjoyed in the frequent appearance of foreign actors in London theatres.
Mr. Toole having, also spoken, other toasts followed; and subscriptions amounting to nearly £1000, including one hundred guineas from the Queen, were announced.
A musical entertaiment of an unusually pleasing character was provided, undo the direction of Herr Wilhem Ganz, by the following artistes, who rendered their services gratuitously:—Miss Clara Samuel, Madame Zimeri, Mdlle. Desvignes, Miss Hope Glenn, Mr. Herbert Reeves, Mr. Arthur Thompson, and Mr. Egbert Roberts and Herr Poznanski, who performed a solo on the violin.
Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2257—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, August 5, 1882, p.135
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