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:


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 gentlemen:

"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 self.

"Silence, on this occasion, was therefore golden. And a moment later, when that golden silence was ended, Presidente Samaranch uttered these words:

"'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, King Arthur:

"'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 long ago?

"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 more!"

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 role.

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 well.

"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 can.

Only then shall I know true happiness.

Thank you.

----- Richard Washington

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