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100 years ago

by
30 August 2013

29 August 2013

The black American boxer Jack Johnson had skipped bail during his trial on charges under the United States' White-Slave Traffic Act (he was convicted, but a posthumous pardon has been sought in recent years). He was engaged to appear on stage in London.

THE music hall to-day is a different place from the music hall of twenty years ago. . . But the bettering of the music hall cannot be expected to proceed without set-backs. This week has seen the announcement that a notorious pugilist, who is out on bail pending the hearing in his own country of a case in which grave charges are preferred against him, would appear in a London music-hall. It is clear that it was not primarily as a boxer that he was engaged, but as a person who is the object of morbid curiosity because of the scandals with which his name is associated. It is quite clear also that the public indignation has been aroused in an extraordinary degree. Music-hall artists have protested to excellent purpose. A Press not prudish has pointed out that if the pugilist had reached these shores as a third-class passenger, he would quite rightly have been turned back as an undesirable alien, but that because he travels first-class the law can unfortunately say nothing. We are entirely at one with those daily papers which have expressed their regret that the law, equally with the better and, as we believe, the overwhelming section of public opinion, can do little to prevent an engagement which is degrading to the music-hall stage, and to the country which allows it to be entered into. The actual performance has been postponed, we hope sine die. For the present the protest must be sustained.

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