Obituary

Sydney Pardon

ESPNcricinfo staff

Sydney Herbert Pardon, for thirty-five years editor of " Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack." died on November 20 after a few hours' illness. Born in 1855, he had recently completed his seventieth year, and yet at that age was as full of enthusiasms as he had been half a century before. Possessed of an extraordinarily good memory, he had a mind stored with interesting information on many subjects, and was always a fascinating companion for young and old. While the game of cricket played the biggest part in his life, he was also a close student of the drama, a devoted supporter of good music, and a keen follower of racing. These were the four things in which he chiefly delighted, and it was always a proud recollection with him that on each of these four subjects he had written special articles, for "The Times."

His journalistic experience extended to many forms of sport outside cricket. Upon athletics, rowing, boxing and billiards, he was a mine of information, and used to charm his friends with descriptions, always illuminating and happily phrased, of happenings in bygone days--the running of George and Cummings, the sculling of Hanlan and Trickett, the billiards of John Roberts and William Cook. His joy in racing was peculiarly his own--not the bringing off of a bet successfully, but the triumph of one or other of the big breeding strains, as, for instance, that grandsons of St. Simon, or some particular line of Galopin's descendants, had done honour to their pedigree.

A playgoer from his earliest days, Sydney Pardon rarely missed seeing anything in the way of serious drama during a period of fifty years, and was always a fine judge of acting, rather contemptuous of stage accessories, and insistent upon the most polished elocution. Of plays and players during his life-time, and even of those before that period, his knowledge was encyclopaedic, and he was equally well-informed about musical matters. Upon this phase of Pardon's acquirements, a leading musical critic wrote :--" His detailed and accurate knowledge of the events in cricket had its parallel in regard to music. He could tell you, off-hand, of events in the operatic world, and these not only within his personal experience, but in past history. One often went to him for information as to when and where some eminent vocalist made her appearance in this country, and in what opera, and rarely was he found wanting."

Despite his remarkable attainments in other directions, Sydney Pardon will be chiefly remembered for his writings upon cricket, and his long association with " Wisden's Almanack." Taken as a small boy to Lord's and the Oval, he developed an absorbing interest in the game, and by the happy accident of circumstances he was able to realise his ambitions while still a young man. Keen and accurate, well-balanced in his conclusions, and gifted with a particularly graceful form of expression, he rapidly built up a name for himself. Steadily his reputation grew until at length all leading cricketers were glad to have his opinions upon the big questions of the day. In years--now happily long distant, when throwing had become very rife, and threatened to invade the best of county elevens, Sydney Pardon fought a great battle for fair bowling, and had no small share in bringing about a healthier state of affairs. Spending his youth in an atmosphere that presumed the superiority of the Englishman in every walk of sport, he mourned over any England failure, yet, however keenly he might feel, nothing but sound and gracious criticism ever emanated from his pen. He treated his calling as a trust, and no power on earth could have made him write anything of which he was not absolutely convinced.

So interesting and pleasantly instructive a companion, Sydney Pardon had naturally a very wide circle of friends in the theatrical, musical, sporting and journalistic worlds. A strong individualist, always level-headed in his judgments, even when his personal sympathies were concerned, and a man of perfect integrity, he had great charm of manner, and by his always interesting speech and never-failing kindness he contributed in no small measure to the happiness of all who knew him. Possessed of mental powers of no common order, he strove untiringly for half a century to give consistently of his best, and certainly his long career brought much honour to his profession.

An old friend asked : "Why didn't he write his reminiscences ? They would have made a fine book." Undoubtedly he could have produced a volume, full of interesting information about famous people and outstanding events conveyed in attractive style, and invaluable for its absolute accuracy. It was not to be. Sydney Pardon, in the busy life of a Fleet Street journalist, had neither the time nor the inclination to attempt anything of the kind. All he knew was generously at the disposal of his companions, but, if, with his passing, much has been lost, he has his monument aere perennius--and he would have desired no other--in the many "Wisden's Almanacks" which he produced with such ability and loving care. C.S.C.

Below are some of the many tributes paid at, the time of Sydney Pardon's death.

LORD HARRIS:- "I am concerned to hear of the death of Mr. Sydney Pardon, my old friend, and, I might almost say, my old colleague of the cricket field, for we have had very intimate relations for many years. He is a great loss to the cricket world, for he had a most retentive memory and was therefore able, in pursuing his profession, to inform each generation correctly of incidents and players of the past. He had a facile pen, and to me his accounts of matches were always most readable and his criticisms most fair. He was, too, a great judge of the game, and I would as soon have had his opinion on difficult points as anyone I have known. I do not know if he was ever himself a player, but he knew how the game should be played, and was a staunch advocate of the classical style, and a fearless critic of the reverse. There will be many who will miss him much, but none more than I."

MR. A. J. WEBBE, the old Harrow, Oxford and Middlesex captain:- " I received only on Friday morning a most charming letter, in which he said that it was sad to think it was fifty years since he and I first met on the old Prince's Ground. For those fifty years, he has said and written nothing but kind things. I shall always remember him with gratitude and affection. Whet a loss he will be. He was a power in the cricket world and all for good. We cannot think of " "Wisden" or, indeed, of cricket generally without him."

LORD HAWKE :-" This loss of Sydney Pardon is to cricket journalism nigh irreparable. His knowledge of the game, his retentive memory of the old days, made his articles sought after by all the best papers and they were eagerly devoured by a devoted following. A more kindhearted man I never knew. Is that surprising when his two greatest hobbies were cricket and music? I am not sure but that latterly music did not come first."

MR. P. F. WARNER:-" He had such a sane and sound out-look on all cricket matters. He wrote with a charm that was peculiar to himself and had an amazing aptitude for saying a great deal in a few words. I cannot recall in any of the biographies which he wrote-a marked feature of "Wisden"--an unkind word about any cricketer. Criticism was sometimes imperative but the charitable touch was never wanting. On all questions which agitated the cricket world during his long editorship--to ventilate which the pages of "Wisden" were always open-his views were always balanced, one might almost say, judicial. Towards all cricketers with whom he came in contact he showed an amiability of which I, personally, had more than one proof during a long illness. He was a most interesting and many-sided talker. His knowledge of cricket, racing, the drama, the opera, was full and complete and made him at all times a rare companion. His death is a great lees to the cricket world."

MR. F. E. LACY, Secretary of the M.C.C.:-" All at Lord's are very grieved. We feel we have lost a great supporter, as well as an old and valued friend. His knowledge of cricket was wonderful and he always used his influence in the beat interests of the game."

MR. H. D. G. LEVESON-GOWER, of Winchester, Oxford and Surrey :--"His loss to cricket will indeed be severe. No better judge, no fairer critic, no better writer, ever existed."

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