The following was delivered by Richard Washington on April 30, 1994, at
the Ananda Ashrama, Monroe, NY, as part of a memorial service for Jack
Adams, creator and star of "The Incredible Merlin Magic Show",
who had passed away in late March 1994:
THE EULOGY FOR MERLIN
My name is Richard Washington --- and if you're wondering what my
connection was to the life of Jack Adams, I will only say this: I was
his most faithful audience member. I was among those in attendance at
Manhattan's Promenade Theatre when Jack Adams and Rani Mandel performed
together for the first time --- which is to say, before they ever became
husband and wife. It was not until one of my later encounters with them
that I learned (from Jack himself, mind you!) that indeed, he and Rani
had gotten married. I still have in my archives that small
Theatreworks/USA at the Promenade programme from that first performance,
in which Rani is described as "always searching for the magic in her
life;" I hope, dear Rani, that your search has proven successful.
Earlier this year, Jack and I spoke to one another over the phone ---
both of us unaware that this would be our last conversation together. In
that discussion, I explained to Jack about the little idea that I'd had:
to give "The Incredible Merlin Magic Show," to which Mahesvara had
devoted virtually his entire adult life, the added permanence of being
presented as a children's book. He and I would have come up with the
story; whereas I would handle the drawings.
In the end, we settled on the idea of Merlin visiting the 20th
Century in general, and New York City in particular --- to speak before
the United Nations General Assembly.... while simultaneously exploring
all the wonders of our beloved Big Apple. The Wizard's tour guide on
this adventure: a resourceful 12-year-old boy named Corey Lawrence.
Toward the end of the story, young Corey is seated amongst children
and dignitaries summoned to General Assembly Hall from all over the
world. Everyone listens intently as Merlin presents his views on the
state of modern-day Mankind:
"Fellow humans, distinguished guests, beloved children, ladies and
"On February 12, 1994, Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the
International Olympic Committee, stood upon a podium similar to this
one..... and requested a brief moment of silent contemplation in memory
of those who had perished (and who, in fact, may still be perishing even
as I speak to you now) in the then still volatile town of Sarajevo, in
what was once Yugoslavia. Sarajevo had been named 10 years before to
host the Olympic Winter Games; now, with its walls demolished and
blood-stained, and her people broken beyond endurance,
this once proud little village had become a mere shadow of her former
"Silence, on this occasion, was therefore golden. And a moment later,
when that golden silence was ended, Presidente Samaranch uttered these
"'The message of the Olympic Movement is stronger than ever: Please
stop fighting. Please stop killing. Drop your guns, please.'
"As I stand here, surrounded by this body of nations, whose
representatives have been gathered here from the four corners of the
globe, I am reminded of certain similar words of wisdom --- words spoken
centuries ago by my beloved liege and pupil, His Most Glorious Majesty,
"'Through the history of this Earth, the strong have always had their
way...... but I would pledge before you all the dawn of a new day --- a
day when strength shall be used not for its own ends, but to defend the
weak, to crush the wrong --- TO SERVE THE RIGHT!'
"Since 1945, these United Nations have summarily devoted themselves
to the fulfillment of dear Arthur's vision. When I first learned of the
existence of this unique organization, I began to wonder: is the UN
capable of accomplishing that which King Arthur set out to achieve so
"To such a question, there can be but one answer:
"The world must change, and a greater and wiser power must be brought
forth before the Masters of Good Magic can again walk among Mortals.
"Until then, I, Merlin, their chosen representative, do call upon
these United Nations to reaffirm those beliefs it swore to uphold more
than half a century ago. Only then shall Mankind beat its swords into
plowshares, and its spears into pruning hooks; only then shall nation
not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any
I think that that commentary says it all --- particularly in terms of
how we're living right now.
The book that Jack and I had envisioned will probably never be
written; and yet, perhaps, with the help and encouragement of Jennifer
his daughter, maybe that book might still find its way into reality.
Speaking of Jennifer: when I first learned about this memorial
service, I asked Jen if I could keep her father's Merlin outfit and
makeup, if only to perpetuate his memory.
It was when he wore that outfit and makeup, after all, that Jack made
me happier than I'd ever been at any time since before my late mother's
own recent passing. None of us will ever forget the opening moments of
"The Incredible Merlin Magic Show," when Jack strode out onto the stage
as Merlin: bearded, bewhiskered, befuddled, somewhat silly --- but
nevertheless, every inch King Arthur's beloved old teacher!
It was an image that never failed to tickle my fancy; and, in a way,
I guess it probably explains why Jennifer not only turned down my offer
--- she also told me that she herself was going to assume the Merlin
All of which leads me to wrestle with this question: As Jennifer
Adams prepares to finish what her dad started, can she pull off the same
people-pleasin' capabilities which permitted the magic of Jack Adams to
work so many wonders on so many audiences?
I would say, let Time tell that tale.
And what of Merlin himself?
Well, since Merlin the Magician was, and is, one of my role models,
I can declare with conviction that his --- and Jack's --- spirit dwells
within the hearts of you who have been touched and/or inspired by the
man whose lifeforce we celebrate here this afternoon. And that, my
friends, is something that will last you forever.
Y'know, they say that Magic has been described many times in many
ways: illusion; sleight-of-hand; camera tricks; ESP; and so forth. In
recent years, another synonym has been added to that list: the
Discipline of Thaumaturgy.
In his best-selling "Wizard of 4th Street" novels, which feature
magical adventures as taken from the files of the fictitious
International Thaumaturgical Commission, sci-fi author Simon Hawke cites
Merlin with being the first person to refer to Magic per se as a
'Discipline'. And indeed, he even has the the old Wizard offer us this
humble bit of advice:
"If we are to practise the Discipline of Thaumaturgy, we must first
learn to stop distracting ourselves; and discover the means whereby we
can become less and less preoccupied with our own concerns. We should
learn to relax ourselves into an attentive state, rather than drive
ourselves purely with directed logic."
And on the subject of himself, the Hawke text finds Merlin offering
these comments in response to the question 'Who destroyed Camelot?':
"I it was," says he, "who taught King Arthur, and instilled within
him the Dream that became Camelot. It was I as well who taught him that
Honor and Principle are everything --- the only true ideals worth
living, fighting, and sometimes dying for. These were, and are,
important ideals, to be sure; and in these respects, I had taught him
"But I had forgotten to teach him something else that is equally
important: namely, that Honor must always be tempered by Reason; and
that Principle must always be administered with Compassion.
"And there, I failed him......
"For had Arthur understood Compassion, he would have felt if for
Mordred, and thus have loved him, instead of seeing in him a constant
living, breathing reminder of his own human frailty. And moreover, had
Arthur understood the reasoned principle rather than the inflexible
ideal, he would have pardoned both Lancelot and Guinevere, and thus have
become a better King because of it!
"But it was I who raised Arthur, and taught him, and made him into
who and what he was.
"And yet, I was a poor teacher, and I failed him.
"I shall endeavour to do better --- this time."
Well, Merlin, old friend, I got some news for ya: you have indeed
done better, And I'll tell you why.
Once upon a time, in Oklahoma City, you entered the life patterns of
a Mortal named Jack Adams. I, and all these gathered here today, are
better Mortals ourselves as a result.
And now, dear Merlin --- you who are the greatest of Wizards ---
as you prepare to enter the life patterns of Jennifer, daughter of Jack,
may the aura of the Masters of Good Magic allow her to be bestowed with
the same glow of wisdom, compassion, humor and joie de vivre that of old
was bestowed upon her father.
And as for you, Mahesvara, I love you, and I will never forget you.
And when my own dark hours fill me with hopelessness, I ask that you
be with me.
I ask that you nurture my spirit.
And I ask that you set that spirit free, as only Merlin the Magician
Only then shall I know true happiness.
----- Richard Washington