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take the place at first. Sophy's lover, Simon
Box, is in London, and resents her going as
housekeeper to young Maynard, and thus falls
in with Felicia's scheme ; while Maynard's one-
time boon companions seek to win him from
that purpose of solitude and study which it is
the design of one Father Oliver and his fellow
conspirators to strengthen for their own ends.

The arrival of Felicia as housekeeper in
place of the widow excites the curiosity — and
later the warmer feelings — of Maynard, and the
suspicions of Father Oliver, a number of whose
confederates are to meet unknown to the
master in Maynard's house. The same evening
his whilom boon companions decide to have
a housewarming there and send in a case of
wine for the purpose. Thus are brought about
some striking situations, leading up to the
culminating one when — thanks to the quick-
wittedness of Felicia, the conspirators are



unmasked, soldiers arrive, and Maynard finds
who his mysterious housekeeper is, and con-
cludes " if she looks yes, why, then, all will
be welcome to my housewarming, for here,
behold my wife — the best Housekeeper ! "

In his time of disillusionment Maynard has
declared that in study and wisdom are the
only lasting good : " Glory ! 'tis but a bubble
blown from blood. Law ! a spider's wisdom !
and politics ! the statesman ponders and plans,
winning nothing certain but ingratitude and
indigestion. Whilst for woman, we hunt a
wildfire and vow it is a star." The inebriated
Bin says to the girls who have told him that
there is " not such a thing in the house " as
a corkscrew, that they are not to shun good
advice — " I feel I speak as a father ; for if I'd
twenty marrying daughters these should be
my solemn words to each : ' Never be without
a corkscrew ! ' "

The piece was well received both by the
public and the critics, and enjoyed a good
run. Nell Gwynne, produced six months earlier,
was being acted in London at the same time
as its successor, and the author determined
upon publishing these two plays. They are
referred to in the following letters to Forster :

" 6, Seymour Terrace, Little Chelsea,

" July 20, 1833.

" My dear Forster, — You must allow me the
pleasure of a cordial acknowledgement of your kind-
ness. Though I feel you have, on the present as
on a former occasion, thrown what are the best


points into the strongest relief, by softening down
the worst, it would be a poor affectation in me to
question such partiality, as, indeed, its very existence
is a matter of, I hope, something better on my part
then mere self-complacency. We can none, or at
least very few, escape the influence of personal
acquaintance. It is, then, a subject of honest
pleasure to the obliged when such knowledge, on
some minds, is the liberal interpreter of good inten-
tions, and the charitable apologist of all deficiencies.

" Yours, my dear Forster,
" Very truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

" P.S. — Nell and the Housekeeper will be in print
on Monday — when I will forward them to you.
About a fortnight's careful work will finish Beau
Nash : which is then to be produced immediately."

" Friday, Seymour Terrace, Little Chelsea,

"Aug. 1833.

" My dear Forster, — Will you favour me with a
few lines on my two pieces in the True Sun? I ask
for nothing more than a mere signification of their
being in print — and being the first of a series to be
published by our society. Hearing that you are
again attached to the paper induces me to solicit
this added favour at your hands.

" Yours ever truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

" I publish these dramas on my own account :
and of course all publicity — the more especially as
they are now being played helps the sale. I have
been expecting— what I now ask of you — this past


" Our Society " referred to in these letters
was the Dramatic Authors' Society, the in-
ception of which is mentioned in the following
note to Joseph Lunn, of Craven Street, Strand,
a dramatic writer who enjoyed some popularity
in the first half of the nineteenth century :

" Thursday, 6, Seymour Terrace, Little Chelsea,

"July 13, 1833.

" Dear Lunn, — I am requested to write to ask

your attendance at the Garrick Tavern, Bow Street,

at the hour of one (precisely) on Monday, to consider

certain resolutions to be entered upon to secure us

the fruits of the Dramatic Authors' Art — and a law.

Knowles, Serle, Buckstone, Dance, Oliver (?)* and

self, were present yesterday, but it was resolved to

postpone any final settlement until everybody — who

would wish to secure himself — for it is only by

acting in a society, that the managers are to be

fought — should meet. Hinc — this letter. At one


" Yours truly,

" D. Jerrold."

The next letter refers to a much-discussed
project as to establishing a third patent play-

1 James Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862) as author of
The Hunchback and The Love Chase, was a dramatist of
lasting fame ; Thomas James Serle, an actor and play-
wright of some repute in his day, secretary to Macready
at Drury Lane, was godfather of Douglas Jerrold's youngest
son, Thomas Serle Jerrold, who was an infant nine days
old when this letter was written; John Baldwin Buck-
stone (1802-1879) was another playwriting actor who
enjoyed considerable popularity up to the end of a long
life; Charles Dance (1794-1863) was a prolific writer for
the theatres; Oliver eludes identification.


" 6, Seymour Terrace, Little Chelsea,
"Aug. 1833.

" My dear Forster, — I waited for you yesterday
(with Serle, etc.) at Miller's 1 till half -past three. We
meet there on Saturday next at two. Will you
come ? It is about this 3d. theatre. I did not see
your luminary 2 of Wednesday week, not being able
to get to town. But have no doubt you then added
to the debt which it gives me great pleasure to owe

1 Yours ever, very truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

" Miss Tidswell — my near and dear neighbour —
has requested me to ask you about the safety (I
presume tender associations make her anxious) of
a portrait of Kean. Will you appease ' this tumult
in a vestal's veins ? ' I find I must put by Beau
Nash till next year, as it must be three acts. My
little affair of Swamp Hall comes out next week."

The " little affair of Swamp Hall " was a
farcical comedy produced at the Haymarket
Theatre in September 1833, which for some
reason failed to tickle the popular fancy,
despite the praise accorded to it by the
critics. One writer said : " Swamp Hall, an
admirable piece by Jerrold, has been most
brainlessly condemned by a Haymarket
audience. It was a trifle of extreme merit,
but the public sometimes applauds trash to
the echo and condemns really admirable

1 John Miller of Henrietta Street, who published some
of Jerrold 's plays.
a The True Sun,


productions. If such conduct suits them, it is
not for us to interfere, since their bad taste
brings with it its own penalty ! " It also
brings a pretty severe penalty upon the author,
whose work of some weeks or months is thus
" brainlessly condemned " in a single evening.
" The public sometimes applauds trash to
the echo," suggests a mot of Jerrold's on the
subject. A friend who was with him at one
of the patent houses when a dull and stupid
play had met with a favourable reception, said
it was astonishing that any people could be
found foolish enough to applaud such stuff.
"Why," said Jerrold at once, " all those who clap
their hands probably had orders to do so."
That Swamp Hall had been offered to Drury
Lane before going to the Haymarket, we learn
from a number of reports on plays read by
Thomas Morton given in Alfred Bunn's The
Stage, Both Before and Behind the Curtain ;
for though Bunn waxed wroth over Kemble's
appointment as official Examiner of Plays
in succession to Colman, he submitted the
pieces sent in to Drury Lane to the judgment
of a playwright ! Of Swamp Hall Morton
said : " This piece I have either read or seen,
as all the circumstances are familiar to me.
Won't do at all." He had presumably read
Jerrold's magazine story of the same name. 1
From that story we may gather that the play
was an amusing expose of the weakness of people

1 Reprinted in Tales of Douglas Jerrold Nozv First
Collected, 1891.


who put up with the tyranny of a person from
whom they have " expectations."

On the second day of the new year, 1834,
another play of Jerrold's, The Wedding Gown,
was produced at Drury Lane. It was very well
received, the author being hailed as "in his
way the Lillo of his day " — though it was, per-
haps, no very high compliment to be bracketed
with the author of George Barnwell — and during
February the piece was represented before
King William IV, " by special desire." A
scrap of contemporary criticism called forth
by this play runs :

" While such pieces as this are written, produced
and fill the theatre, surely there can be no just
foundation for the remark that has been made that
the drama has declined. If the stage has not been
prosperous this little comedy alone suffices to prove
that the dramatic author is not the party chargeable
with the faults that must have been committed
or the injuries that have been sustained. On the
contrary, we apprehend the dramatic author is the
individual who has suffered the greatest wrong under
the state of things to which we have adverted. But
Mr. Jerrold and The Wedding Gown inspires us with
hopes of a better condition for the Muse whom
Shakespeare wedded to immortality. The comedy
reads as well as it acts — perhaps better, for we have
marked several passages of great natural truth and
animated feeling, to which full justice has not yet
been done at Drury Lane. That felicitous tact and
neat development of his subject, that pleasant in-
genuity and sparkling polish of dialogue by which
the author has so remarkably distinguished himself,


are calculated to tell as effectively in the closet as
on the stage. We sympathize with Lubeski and his
interesting daughter ; smile at Beeswing ; tease, trifle,
yet may mean well with Margaret ; and rejoice with
all parties when at last by that skilful denouement
their happiness is assured."

Another critic said —

" At Drury Lane the principal feature has been
Jerrold's interesting drama of the Wedding Gown. 1
On reviewing the merits of this gentleman we scarcely
know which to admire most — his terse and polished
writing, his fine, manly sentiments, or that consum-
mate skill which, without violating probability,
excites and keeps alive the interest of his audience."

It was presumably during the spring of
1834 that Jerrold removed from Seymour
Terrace to 11, Thistle Grove, still in Little
Chelsea. Since his time that narrow way
has been renumbered, so that it cannot be
said whether his house was at the old end
that remains or in the rebuilt portion.

Jerrold had another comedy in hand, Beau
Nash, as we saw in his letter to Forster of a
few months earlier. It was to be finished by
the summer, and on June 25 the dramatist
wrote again to his friend from his new address :

" My dear Forster, — Will you come and eat
something with me on Sunday? Sam 2 is really

1 It enjoyed a run of twenty-nine nights during its
first season.

2 Laman Blanchard.


coming ! ! ! ! (so you can't refuse). Dine at 4,

military time.

" Yours ever truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

" Drop me a line — or if passing leave [it] at Miller's
or Divan. I am very ill, being just delivered."

The postscript evidently refers to the new
three-act comedy of manners, Beau Nash, the
King of Bath, which was produced about three
weeks later (July 16) at the Haymarket
Theatre, and on which the author declared he
had spent far more than twice as much labour
of thought and research as on any other of his
dramatic pieces. The thought and research
were well spent, and the piece was received
with considerable applause, yet for some reason
the author did not include it in his collected
writings. In the preface to the printed edition
of this comedy — dated from Little Chelsea
three days after the production of the piece —
he wrote :

" In a Life of Richard Nash, Esq., attributed to the
pen of Goldsmith, may be found full authority for
the eccentricities of the stage hero. In the same
biography the writer incidentally dwells upon the
knavish subtleties and compunctious visitings of a
Jack Baxter; who, though never honoured with the
personal intimacy of the beau monarch, yet desired
to acknowledge in fine bold type his wayward and
royal benevolence. The only ' historical ' persons
in the present drama are the lauded potentate and
the laudatory pickpocket.


" The author pleads guilty to one charge made
against his drama — that it possesses ' no startling
situations ' ; and confesses that, doubtless, a comedy
of manners would be a much better comedy were it a

" ' Startling situations ' have been so frequent
that the public are now taught — by some, too, whose
ostensible duty it is to teach the public better — to
consider mere men and women mere commonplaces ;
and mere pictures of life mere everyday dulness.
According to such instructors, audiences are to be
treated not as a body of persons in sound moral
health but as a convocation of opium-eaters. A
dramatist is now to be 'a dreamer of dreams,' and
not an illustrator of truths."

There are several hits in the opening scenes
of the comedy at the neglect of the legitimate
drama for the performance of puppets, and
though the scene is set in the Bath of the
eighteenth century, it is probable that the
author was glancing at something of the taste
of his period in stage matters :

" Derby. Who and what are you ?

Claptrap. By name, Thespis Claptrap, formerly
actor at the playhouse here in Bath ; but now, chief
assistant to the illustrious Mr. Powell.

Derby. Not the Powell who has set Bath mad after
his puppets ?

Claptrap. Sir, the professor of motions; and with
myself, as Mr. Bickerstaff's Tatler will certify, worker
of Punch.

Wilton. Well, though I have heard much of the
puppets, I never heard of you.

Claptrap. To be sure not, sir; the wood and paint


carry it ; who thinks of the poor devils who find the
words and pull the wires ?

Wilton. Yet why leave the wisdom of the theatre
for the jargon of the puppet show ?

Claptrap. Sir, I did but follow the example of my
betters. They vowed the playhouse was the vulgar
produce of barbarous times ; and so patronized Punch
to display their refinement."

Later on, too, Claptrap, when he hears a
lady say that she dearly loves all plays, urges,
" Never confess it : 'tis enough to ruin you
with people of wit " ; adding : "if you'd pass
for somebody, you must sneer at a play, but
idolize Punch. I know the most refined folks,
who'd not budge a foot to hear Garrick, would
give a guinea each, nay, mob for a whole
morning, to see a Greenlander eat seal's flesh
and swallow whale oil."

The time of the play is that when the
Beau's portrait was about to be hung in the
Pump Room between the busts of Pope and
Newton— that conjunction which inspired Lord
Chesterfield's famous quatrain :

" This Picture placed the busts between
Gives satire all its strength —
Wisdom and Wit are little seen
And Folly at full length ! "

The dramatist also has his hit at the com-
pletion of the trio :

" Wilton. A statue of Nash !

Derby. Aye, erected in the Pump Room by the
mayor and aldermen ; who, with corporation taste,


place the figure between the busts of Newton and

Wilton. Impossible ! The corporation cannot so
offend philosophy and wit.

Derby. Why, in this case, the corporation reverse
the common rule, and use no ceremony with

The comedy of manners has many satiric
touches, but also much of a tenderer humour,
and to it as a whole may be applied the words
used by Nash of his piece for the puppets,
" The play is like the leaf that Dr. Cheney
talks of — one side a blister, the other a salve.' '

The critics waxed eloquent in praise of Beau
Nash. Forster wrote a lengthy and appreci-
ative notice in the New Monthly Magazine, in
the course of which he said :

" For this we are obliged to Mr. Jerrold. . . . He
strives to fix, in permanent colours, some of the
fleeting bygone follies of mankind. Long ago, from
the groves and glories of Bath, its assembly, its pump-
room, and its wells, a ' parting genius was with sighing
sent,' which now the dramatist restores to us in his
habit as he lived, with his tawdry dress and his white
hat, putting him on the real scene, with the real
associates of his life around him, fearing not to make
them occupy what is now rare and dangerous ground
(for the stage, nowadays, must reduce everything
either to strict morality or to ' open manslaughter
and bold bawdry ') — that neutral ground of character
which stands between vice and virtue, which is in
fact indifferent to neither. ' A happy breathing place
from the burden of a perpetual moral questioning '

Douglas Jerrold in Caricature

Copied by Miss Daphne Jerrold after the following —

(1, standing) John Leech, Punch ; (2 and 3, was], and snake) A Word with Punch ; (4, pen)
Kenny Meadows, Beads of thi Peoph : (5) John Tenniel, Punch; (6) Richard Doyle,
Punch; (7) W. M. Thackeray, Punch; (8, "the printer's devil') Kenny Meadows,
Heads of tin People ; (9, with drum) John Leech, Punch.


and scorning to mar the truth of his picture by
any merely trading convulsions or startling situa-
tions. . . . We must make a charge here, too, against
our accomplished author, which we have elsewhere
made more than once. He is too fond of repartee.
He can bear to be told this, for he shares the fault in
very illustrious company. Congreve always made
wit too much the business, instead of the ornament
of his comedies. In Mr. Jerrold's dialogue passages
are every now and then peeping out which seem to
have been prepared, ' cut and dry,' for the scene.
The speaker has evidently brought them with him;
he has not caught them on the scene by the help of
some light of dialogue or suggestion of present
circumstances. We beg of Mr. Jerrold to consider
this more curiously in his next production, and we
beg of him to lose no time in favouring us again."

The author was evidently not disposed to
lose much time, for the following note was
probably written before Forster's criticism
made its appearance in the August number of
the magazine.

" My dear Forster, — I enclose the order. It is
the only one I have had since the first night ; deter-
mining — sink or swim — that the manager should not
have to accuse me of paper support. I leave the
Beau to the charity of the gentle public; and that
the Lord may touch their hearts and awaken their
understandings, is the disinterested prayer of,

" Yours ever truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

44 1 commenced yesterday a new comedy of pure
fiction. ' At 'em again ! ' "


This note was probably followed closely by
the next (they are both undated). The proof
referred to may have been one of Forster's
article on the Beau for the New Monthly.

' My dear Forster, — I leave town to-morrow for
Doncaster. I have troubled you with this to prevent
the misinterpretation of my silence touching the proof
you thought to send me ; which kindness will now
be unnecessary; at least, useless. I shall be absent
at most about 3 weeks. I hope to bring back with
me such a comedy ! Yours, my dear Forster, ever,

" Douglas Jerrold."

Of the visit to Doncaster — where his brother-
in-law Hammond had the theatre — no record
remains ; if it took place it was evidently but a
short one, for on August 8 Jerrold wrote once
more from his home in Chelsea :

" My dear Forster, — I am deeply indebted to
you for the long, elaborate and analytical essay in the
N.M.M. 1 At this time it may be of peculiar service
to me : for I have every reason to believe that it is
the intention of Mr. Morris to play me false. Last
night (August 7) the comedy was acted for the tenth
time ; and placed between two such cold slices of
bread and butter as The Padlock and The Green-Eyed
Monster : nevertheless, the house was full — (the
boxes crowded) — and, if there be truth in actors,
the piece went off better than ever. Yet, in despite
of its increasing effect, I find by the bills of to-day
that it is not to be repeated until Wednesday. Un-
fortunately, I have no written agreement with Morris,
who was to pay me on the success of the piece : which

1 The New Monthly Magazine.


success he now broadly insinuates is not evident ;
and, at the same time, does all that in him lies to
prevent. These are your Christian managers ! How-
ever, I wrote to thank you, and not to inflict upon
you a volume of grief of,

" Yours most truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

" I have so frequently written to you, appointing a
day for you to come and see me, that I now leave the
day to your own choice. Name a day next week ; give
me 48 hours' notice ; and bring with you any such
five feet two of natural dissipation and acquired
infamy as Sam, 1 the Joshua of the True Sun."

Douglas Jerrold often had occasion to com-
plain of " your Christian managers," and one
of his retorts to Morris may well find a place
here, more especially as it was probably made
during the preparations for Beau Nash. The
dramatist was finding fault with the strength,
or lack of strength, of the Haymarket com-
pany, when the manager expostulated, saying,
" Why, there's Vining, he was bred on these
boards ! "

" He looks as though he'd been cut out of
them" retaliated Jerrold.

It is, of course, impossible now to decide
upon the relative merits of the combatants in
the dispute between Jerrold and Morris, but
when the matter had to be taken to the courts
of justice the jury was with the dramatist.
The manager certainly appears to have justi-
fied Jerrold's indignation by his treatment of
1 Laman Blanchard, then editing the True Sun.


the brilliant and should-have-been-successful
comedy. On August 12 the author again
mentioned the subject in a note to Forster :

" I have, in vain, tried the actors for orders — (I
am, at this moment, 2 p.m., reeking in a wet shirt) ;
orders they have not, i. e. — they say so. Morris
I cannot encounter until the Beau has rim his course.
You may take this consolation in your disappoint-
ment; you are not alone: for Mrs. Shelley, who
wrote to me on Saturday, for the same favour, is
also on your side. Now, I don't care much about
you, but I am very much annoyed that I cannot
oblige a lady on her first request. So it is, but let
us hope there is another and a better theatre ' where
the Forsters cease from troubling and the Jerrolds
are at rest.' I hope you got home safe ; and, believe
me, I am very well ; and, moreover, believe that I

" Yours ever truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

" I leave town (I hope) on Saturday, for ' the open
sea,' for (I hope) a month."

The hope that he would be leaving town at
the end of the same week for " the open sea '
which he loved so much proved illusory, and
the close of the same month found him still at
home in Little Chelsea. On the 28th he wrote
again to Forster :

" My dear Forster, — I enclose you a notice of
the lecture — which I earnestly wish you could have
heard. I have, perhaps, been partial in the length
of my remarks, but not, I assure you, in their spirit.
The discourse was excellent; no less so for not


mincing the matter. I am now at law with Morris
[having] proceeded as far as possible until November.
He refuses to pay me another shilling in addition to
the £50. We must fight for it, and so ' God defend
the right.' If you see Procter 1 will you tell him
that 4 a most eligible opportunity now presents
itself ' in the way of a house ; my next-door neigh-
bour is compelled to move; the house is the same
extent, same rent, with better garden than mine.
So you can, with your glowing powers of description,
give him a notion of the bargain. I answered his
note, but have not heard from him. It will much
oblige me, and serve a true fellow (one of the right
kind 2 ) if the enclosed be inserted. I have written
it in a feigned hand, as I contemplate sending some

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Online LibraryWalter JerroldDouglas Jerrold, dramatist and wit (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 24)