A history of the circus in Britain during the 19th century. One chapter deals with America, another with circus slang. Perhaps most interesting are the recollections of a gymnast and how he made it into the circus.
But of the circus artistes - the riders, the clowns, the acrobats, the gymnasts, - what do we know? How many are there, unconnected with the sawdust, who can say that they have known a member of that strange race? Charles Dickens, who was perhaps as well acquainted with the physiology of the less known sections of society as any man of his day, whetted public curiosity by introducing his readers to the humours of Sleary's circus; and the world wants to know more about the subject. When, it is asked, will another saw-dust artiste give us such an amusing book as Wallett presented the world with, in his autobiography? When are the reminiscences of the late Nelson Lee to be published? With the exception of the autobiography of Wallett, and a few passages in Elliston's memoirs, the circus has hitherto been without any exponent whatever. Under the heading of 'Amphitheatres,' Watts's Bibliotheca Britannica, that boon to literary readers at the British Museum in quest of information upon occult subjects, mentions only a collection of the bills of Astley's from 1819 to 1845.