Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Theatre and Shows - Theatres and Venues - 'Royal Circus,' East End

    Again we pause, this time before a door surmounted by a  large transparency, upon which is set forth that the " Royal Circus is now open," and that admission may be obtained thereunto at the stated prices. We pause irresolute- shall we enter? The loud promise of the door-keeper scatters our hesitation at once.
    "Now, then, gen'l'men! now's your time!! The R'yal Cirkis - all the talent o' the world - young Halfonso, as has appeared afore all the crowned ' eads of Europe, besides Vic toria and Halbert - as will dance a ' ornpipe on a Arab steed, and go through blazing hoops like a salamander; ' ere also's  the hinfant prodigy as rides too osses at vonst; and Madame Barroni, as will stand on her ' ead in the saddle, and play the tumberine with her feet." We require no more; our money is at once deposited, and we enter, proceed up a rickety flight of stairs, and find ourselves hooking down into the arena, where Master Halfonso, in sailor's jacket and trowsers that once were white, is leisurely dancing a horn' pipe upon the back of a feeble-minded horse, who is as leisurely proceeding round the circle, amidst the admiring plaudits of an audience, numerous if not select.
    Yes, leisurely Halfonso dances a solemn hornpipe on the back of that sad-looking horse, who is in no measure exhilerated by the music, and utterly indifferent to the stampings on his back,-a back which, as if not broad enough to beat the weight of sorrow imposed upon it, is rendered doubly so by the addition of a kind of tea-board and table-cloth, the latter flowing gracefully over his loins.
    Leisurely dances the youth, leisurely canters time horse; while we, with note-book and pencil in hand, as leisurely jot down our observations on the place.

 Watts Phillips, The Wild Tribes of London, 1855