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of what are called the minor theatres, who — unless
it be to see some extraordinary raree-show wide away
from the real purpose of the drama — will pay the
heavier charge ?

" At the time I write, The Schoolfellows has been
acted twenty-seven times, and is still announced for
further repetition. ' Yes,' it may be answered, ' but
acted at a minor theatre, where the audience is less
cultivated, and consequently less critical ; where,
with an undistinguishing appetite, they may thank-
fully devour the refuse of Covent Garden.' Though
little disposed to make the Court Guide the only test
of judgment, I might have crowded into the page a
long list of lords and ladies of every degree of nobility,
who — for their names have gemmed the paragraphs
of newspapers — have assisted, to use a French phrase,
at the unlawful representation of The Schoolfellows at
an unlicensed theatre. This is no extravagance ; the
tyro in heraldry might gain most discursive know-
ledge from the coach panels that are nightly wedged
in Tottenham Street.

" This point brings me to the question on which
you, my dear Serle, have long laboured ; distinguish-
ing yourself, no less by a singleness of purpose in the
advocacy of commonsense, and of the rights of every
man whose hard destiny it is to live by the sweat of
his pen, than by fervid eloquence and the soundest
judgment. Surely, excluded by a system (for I
make no charge against individuals ; I believe they

are fully aware of the hopelessness of the present
vol. i. s


state of things) from what the legislature, in its
former wisdom, intended to be the highest reward
of the dramatist — when told that the only prizes to
be won at the two theatres are, as in some of the
olden games, to be carried away upon horseback —
when the only Pegasus of the patent theatres is to
be found in the mews of Mr. Ducrow — it is not too
much to ask from the Government an assured retreat,
where the writer and the actor may pursue their
calling, safe from ' the armed heels ' of bays and pie-
balds. It is no answer for our opponents to tell us
there are, for the exercise of the art of the dramatist
and the player, the minor theatres. Those establish-
ments, with only two exceptions, are at the mercy
of the common informer every night; though the
patricians of the land, by their patronage, counten-
ance the illegality, their licences are forfeited. Thus
they are insecure in their tenure; and, even when
licensed by the Lord Chamberlain, are trammelled
by absurd fallacies ; though, in sorrow I say it, there
is no public functionary whose orders are so con-
stantly evaded as are the mandates of the royal key-
bearer. His Lordship says there shall be six songs
in each act of every burletta : and the due number
are constantly sent to the Deputy Licenser — {nay,
I know a recent instance in which the verses were
selected from the works of the Deputy himself) —
who pockets the fee, with a full conviction that in
five out of six instances not one of the songs will
be retained, but were merely sent to cheat the
unsuspecting Chamberlain !

" In the appeal which must again be made to the
legislature, we have surely a claim to the advocacy
of those noblemen who visit minor theatres. Surely
they will not refuse their voices when they have
before given their names ; they can hardly take boxes


at a playhouse, and then, by their vote, declare it,
if not mischievous, unnecessary.

* In the hope that the question of the existence of
a national drama will meet with that speedy con-
sideration which it now so strongly demands, and
in the conviction that with its purity and elevation
your efforts must meet with a proportionate reward,
believe me, dear Serle,

' Your sincere friend,

" Douglas Jerrold.

" Little Chelsea,

" March 20, 1835."

It was an old cry, that against the animal
shows at the theatres, for the Brothers Smith
had given forceful utterance to it more than
twenty years earlier in the Rejected Addresses.
It was indeed an old cry and is a new one, for
Punch has but recently had his gibe at the real
sheep and camel introduced in Joseph and His
Brethren at His Majesty's Theatre. Alfred
Bunn, who for a time controlled the destinies
of both the patent houses at this period,
lamented the taste of the public, but declared
that it was necessary to give that public what
it wanted or to shut up the theatres. The
reference to the extent to which the " minor "
theatres were at the mercy of the common
informer is interesting in that in the very
month in which the letter was written, the
company performing at the Strand Theatre
were summoned at the instigation of such a
common informer, the principals were fined,
and the house closed !

The third of the four new pieces of Jerrold 's


produced within a single week, The Hazard
of the Die at Drury Lane, enjoyed a goodly
measure of success, thanks largely to the
acting of Wallack, which in a note to the
printed play the author briefly avowed " in
the hope that in dramatic as in commercial
matters, a few words may be understood to
convey a due acknowledgment of the heaviest
debt." Why the run of the play was stopped
by the " caprice of the manager " cannot be
said. The author's words in the preface to
The Schoolfellows indicate that when the
dramatist did get beyond the " patent "
portals he was still in uneasy case.

The story is one of the French Revolu-
tion on the eve of Robespierre's downfall.
David Duvigne has gambled to raise money
that by means of bribery he may get his
mother, his brother Charles, Violette and her
father St. Ange safely away from Paris.
His plans are overheard by Citizen President
Kalmer, and the threatened crisis is hastened
— Charles Duvigne and St. Ange being arrested.
In disguise David goes to the prison and is
himself forced to add their names to the list
of those entered for execution the next day.
He bribes the gipsy jailor to save St. Ange,
but needs a further two hundred crowns if
Charles also is to be saved; borrows the sum
and is then tempted to gamble that he may get
more money for the flight — gambles and loses
that which he had borrowed ! Past the gaming-
place the tumbrils go bearing the victims to


the guillotine, and David sees the brother
whose chance of safety he has sacrificed. He
would fling himself from the window but is
prevented, raves and announces that he is a
suspect with a price on his head. As he collapses
there are cries from the street that Robespierre
has fallen, that the last batch of victims has
been released at the very foot of the guillotine,
and Charles and Violette come in as the
wretched man dies. It is a vivid drama based
on an anecdote for which the author was
indebted to a friend, though he modified the
horror of the story, saying :

" I have endeavoured to display a social evil with
less distress to my audience and readers (if, in these
disastrous times, it may not be thought quixotic in a
playwriter to hope for readers) than was warranted
by the horror of the original event. In the tragedy
of real life, the brother, the victim of the gamester,
was guillotined, and the prototype of David lingered
and died a maniac. Names might be given ; but
are, for obvious reasons, withheld. The friend who
acquainted me with the story had it from the lips
of a late distinguished member of the French bar,
who, in the reign of terror, was fellow-prisoner with
the brother sacrificed to ' the hazard of the die.' "

The fourth of these plays, The Man's an
Ass, is a very diverting farce presenting a story
not without hints taken from Apuleius in that
it shows a man supposed to be translated into
an ass. The pretence is made by a hungry
fellow who, having removed a miller's ass, puts


himself in its place in the hope that he may
partake of a feast which the miller is pre-
paring. But it so happens that it is the
miller's wedding-day, that on the journey
home Angelino, the ass, has been refractory
and thrown the bride and so is to die— the
butcher has indeed already been sent for !
Thus come some amusing scenes developed in
quick and easy dialogue, as the ruthless miller
determines that the deed shall be done and
the man who claims to have been the ass is
brought to the conclusion that : " He who
quits even parched peas and safety to eat a
savoury dish in noise and danger — though he
may have the wisdom of the seven sages, the
learning of all the schools, still is such a man
only a — a— in a word The Man's an Ass." It
is sheer farce, farce the instant condemnation
of which it is not now easy to understand, un-
less one of the actors was responsible for the
" ticklish turn."

In this year Douglas Jerrold was active as a
Freemason ; x he had begun contributing to
The Freemason's Quarterly in 1834, and in
1835 was represented in each number of that
miscellany. On May 29 a performance was

1 His Masonic " record " was as follows : On November
10, 1831, Bro. Jerrold was initiated in the Bank of England
Lodge, No. 329, which met at the Horn Tavern, Doctors'
Commons, and continued a member until June 1836. He
joined the Lodge of Concord, No. 49, in March 1838, and
appears to have left it in December 1844. This last-
named Lodge has made no return since 1849, and the
charter cannot be traced. — Freemason's Monthly Magazine,
July 1857.


given at the English Opera House in aid of
the Asylum for Aged Freemasons, and one
of the brethren recited an address "written
for the occasion by Brother Douglas Jerrold."
The address is only one of several which he
wrote at different times for the same bene-
ficent purpose, and may be given here as a
specimen of them all, as an illustration of
the writer's happy fancy in dealing with a
seemingly matter-of-fact subject :

" In types we speak ; by tokens, secret ways,
We teach the wisdom of primeval days.
To-night, 'tis true, no myst'ry we rehearse,
Yet — hear a parable in homely verse.

A noble ship lay found'ring in the main,

The hapless victim of the hurricane ;

Her crew — her passengers — with savage strife,

Crowd in the boat that bears them on to life ;

They see the shore — again they press the strand —

A happy spot — a sunny, fertile land !

But say — have all escaped the 'whelming wave ?
Is no one left within a briny grave ?

Some few old men, too weak to creep on deck,

Lie in the ocean coffin'd in the wreck.

They had no child to pluck them from the tide,

And so unaided, unremembered, died.

But orphan babes are rescued from the sea

By the strong arm of human sympathy;

For in their looks — their heart-compelling tears —

There speaks an eloquence denied to years.

The shipwrecked men, inhabiting an isle,

Lovely and bright with bounteous Nature's smile,

And richly teeming with her fairest things,

Ripe, luscious fruits, and medicinal springs,


Must yet provide against the changing day,

The night's dank dew, the mountain's scorching ray ;

For Nature giving, still of men demands

The cheerful industry of willing hands.

But some there are among our shipwrecked crowd

Spent of their strength — by age, by sickness, bowed ;

Forlorn old men in childhood's second birth,

Poor broken images of Adam's earth !

Of what avails the riches 'bout them thrown,

If wanting means to make one gift their own ?

To him what yields the juicy fruit sublime,

Who sees the tree but needs the strength to climb ?

To him what health can healing waters bring

Who palsied lies, and cannot reach the spring ?

Must they then starve with plenty in their eye ?

Near health's own fountain must they groan and die ?

Whilst in that isle each beast shall find a den,

Shall no roof house our desolate old men ?

There shall !

(To Audience)

I see the builders throng around,
With line and rule prepared to mark the ground ;
Nor lack these gentlest wishes — hands most fair,
To join the master in his fervent prayer ;
But with instinctive goodness crowd to-night,
Smiling approval of our solemn rite,
The noblest daughters of this favoured isle ! —
And virtue labours, cheered by beauty's smile,
The stone is laid — the temple is begun —
Help ! and its walls will glitter in the sun.
There, 'neath its roof, will charity assuage
The clinging ills of poor dependent age ;
There, 'neath acacia boughs, will old men walk
And, calmly waiting death, with angels talk."

The address which he wrote for the following
year's Festival, The Grey Head, was set to
music by Reeve and published as a song.


It was somewhere about the year 1835 that
Douglas Jerrold first met Charles Dickens,
then descriptive reporter on the Morning
Chronicle, and two or three years later to wake
one fine morning to find himself famous as the
author of the Pickwick Papers. How the first
meeting was brought about cannot now be
said. Jerrold already knew John Forster well,
but Dickens did not meet him until the close
of 1836. It was probably some other friend
who sent " Boz " out to Little Chelsea to make
the acquaintance of a writer eight years his
senior, one who had already gained a prominent
position among the dramatists of the time,
and whose name must have been familiar to
his visitor as that of a frequent contributor
to the leading magazines. Dickens himself
recorded his impression of this first meeting :
" I remember very well that when I first saw
him in about the year 1835 — when I went into
his sick room in Thistle Grove, Brompton,
and found him propped up in a great chair,
bright-eyed and quick and eager in spirit,
but very lame in body, he gave me an im-
pression of tenderness. It never became dis-
sociated from him." The meeting that then
took place was a significant one, for the
young men became close friends, and remained
such — with one brief break — to the end of

It was, perhaps, during this illness that
Douglas Jerrold illustrated what has been
later termed, " the will to live," in a way which


came to be recorded in a medical work of a
few years later :

" That mysterious and incomprehensible thing, the
will, has, we know, an important influence on the
whole animal economy, and many instances have
come before us where it has staved off insanity;
others where it has aided in restoring health. I will
cite a case which is well known to me, and which
exemplifies this action, although unconnected with
insanity. A celebrated man of literature, dependent
for his income on the labours of his pen — feeding his
family, as he jocularly calls it, out of an inkstand —
was in the advanced stage of a severe illness. After
many hesitations, he ventured to ask his medical
attendant if there remained any hope. The doctor
evaded the embarrassing question as long as possible,
but at last was compelled sorrowfully to acknowledge
that there was none.

" ' What ! ' said the patient, ' die, and leave my

wife and five helpless children ! By , I won't


" If there be oaths which the recording angel is
ashamed to write down, this was one of them. The
patient got better from that hour." 1

The following letter, written from Thistle
Grove on August 6, 1835, was addressed to
W. H. Harrison, evidently the editor of the
Freemason's Quarterly, in which the article
referred to made its appearance. The Trial
of Shakespeare, was, there can be no doubt,
Walter Savage Landor's Citation and Examina-
tion of William Shakespeare and Others for

1 A. L. Wigan, M.D.


Deer Stealing, which had been published (by
Saunders, not Bentley) during the previous
year :

" My dear Sir, — The Trial of Shakespeare was, I
think, published by Bentley. I have only read
extracts from it in reviews : and though I therein
recognized nothing similar to my little sketch, never-
theless the publication of the book does, on consider-
ation, seem to preoccupy the subject. I concluded
that you had seen something of the volume, or should
before have pointed it out to you. If you please —
for I confess myself somewhat thin-skinned under
any charge of plagiary, the more especially when
unmerited — you may omit the first legend.

" For the second ; it has never yet seen the light ;
nor am I aware of the existence of any essay to which
even the uncharitableness of criticism might imagine
a resemblance.

" It struck me in sending it, that were it more
broken up into paragraphs — as new subjects are
introduced — it would be more effective. As it is, the
images, crowding so closely upon each other — (whilst
the spirit of the essay depends upon the distinctness
with which they represent the several plays) — may
give surprise and thus fail to satisfy the reader. If
you think with me, and will again favour me with the
proof, I will make the alterations with as little trouble
as possible to the printer. There being now only one
legend, I should call the paper Shakespeare at Bankside.
" I am, my dear Sir,
" Yours truly,

" Douglas Jerrold."

This note is interesting, not only as showing
that the two " legends," Shakespeare at Chart-


cote Park l and Shakespeare at Bankside 2 were
originally to be published together, but also
on account of the seal with which it was
fastened— a profile of Shakespeare. The seal
from which this impression was taken, a finely
cut cameo in a bone handle, is in my possession,
a precious relic testifying to Douglas Jerrold's
love of the national poet, and possibly repre-
senting the common seal of the Mulberry Club.
Harrison did not, apparently, think that the
Charlcote Park fancy was sufficiently like
Landor's work — as apart from similarity of
theme it certainly is not— to forbid its use, and
it duly appeared in the December number of
his magazine, though it is worthy of note
that the author's thin-skinnedness " under any
charge of plagiary " prevented him from in-
cluding it along with its companion piece in the
volumes he published a few years later.

Some time during the autumn of 1835
Douglas Jerrold again went to Paris, for the
next letter is dated thence to John Forster,
and its tenor suggests that the writer con-
templated making a long stay in the French
capital, presumably as a kind of Paris corre-
spondent of the New Monthly Magazine.

" Paris, December 12 [1835].
" Hotel de la Bibliotheque, Rue St. Nicoisc.

" My dear Forster, — I send this through the
office of the Ambassador — by which means I am

1 The Handbook of Swindling and other Papers, 1891.

2 Cakes and Ale, 1842.


promised the advantage of all future communications
with England from here. Wigan will transmit me
anything from you by Barnett's brother who leaves
London in a few days. I have seen Thackeray : he
called upon me (on hearing of my arrival) and gave
me a most cordial greeting ; with offers of introduction,

" I think I can send you a few tolerable pages of
gossip for the N.M. for the present month. As I
become more familiar with Parisian matters, and get
more into society — which I find opening in many
unexpected ways upon me — I have no doubt I can
render a monthly commentary more acceptable. Has
Hall vouchsafed his opinion of my offer ?

" I have some hopes of being able to produce a
drama at the Thehtre Francais ; of course, in con-
junction with a French author, who will translate
my piece, and share profits. I think I have a very
catholic subject wherewith to try the experiment.
It may appear a fiction, but dramatists here eat, drink,
dress and dwell like gentlemen. All I have read of
theatrical affairs in London since my departure con-
firms me in the opinion of the prudence of that step.
Osbaldiston is incorrigible, and for Drury Lane, who
can write against steel armour ?

" Since I have been here, I have written a couple
of papers for Blackwood and am now at work upon
my novel. (Should goosequills rise in Paris, you
will know to whom to attribute the advance.) By-
the-way, will you in your literary news in the N.M.
give a line on that fact (I mean the novel) — a circum-
stance so important to the world of letters ? I have,
however, a reason for wishing certain people to
know that I am about to publish : that I am not

" This is a dull, stupid, barren letter ; but the


subject (myself) affords nothing better. My next,
however, shall sparkle with diamond dust.

" Yours, my dear Forster, ever truly,
" Douglas Jerrold.

" I am sure you will be glad to know that the notice
in the Examiner on that little Shakespearean paper of
mine has produced for me — here, in the good city
of Paris — more than one new and congratulatory

" I presume, if you have my paper for the N.M.
by the 23rd 'twill be time enough ? Depend upon it
— 'twill make some six or seven pages."

That letter is interesting for a variety of
reasons — incidentally it suggests that Forster
had some official connection with the New
Monthly Magazine, 1 possibly he may have
acted for a time as sub-editor. Hall, who had
vouchsafed no reply to the proposal, was
Samuel Carter Hall, and he apparently did not
agree to the offer of gossip from Paris —
certainly none appeared in the number for
which Jerrold said his copy could be depended
upon, nor indeed did any of his work appear
in the New Monthly until after the change of

1 The New Monthly Magazine was edited by Thomas
Campbell 1820-30, by Samuel Carter Hall (with a few
months of Lytton Bulwer's editing) 1830-36, by Theodore
Hook 1836-41, and by Thomas Hood 1841-43. This
letter suggests that John Forster was exercising some
control over the magazine; he was certainly a great
friend of its owner-publisher, Henry Colburn, whose
widow he married, but his biographers do not allude to
any connection with the New Monthly Magazine.


On December 21, 1835, Doves in a Cage,
a new comedy of Douglas Jerrold's, was pro-
duced at the Adelphi, and enjoyed consider-
able popularity, which, as a friendly critic said,
it richly deserved. That news of its success
was a pleasant Christmas gift to the author
away in Paris may be gathered from the
note, dated from the French capital December
27, attached to the printed play, which was
evidently immediately prepared for publi-
cation :

" The cordiality with which this little play has
been received by an audience (and an Adelphi
audience !) may afford a promise of better days to
the despairing British dramatist, at present all but
excluded from his native stage by foreign music and
translated spectacle. It is manifest that even an
attempt, however feebly executed, to trust to the
simplicity of comedy — depending neither upon the
glories of the scene painter nor the cunning of
the machinist — will be encouragingly accepted by the
theatrical public, continually libelled as caring for
nothing save processions and panoramas — steeds of
neighing flesh and steeds of ' bronze ' ; to be delighted
only when the mask of comedy is exchanged for a
masquerade, and the bowl of tragedy enlarged into a
brazen cauldron."

The scenes of this play are all laid in, or
in the neighbourhood of, the Fleet Prison, at
the time of the Restoration. One Prosper, a
spendthrift gallant who has been secretly
wooing Mabillah, the niece and heiress of the
wealthy merchant Bezant, is laid by the heels


by his creditors in the Fleet, getting (with an
officer in attendance) an occasional few hours
out to pursue his wooing. Sables, an old
merchant, seeks to wed Mabillah, and to
further his suit she is arrested and put in the
Fleet that he may win as benefactor what he
could not gain as wooer. When the inevitable
meeting between the lovers takes place in the
prison, Cherub— a Fleet hanger-on— makes each
believe that the other is there on a philan-
thropic errand, and it is only later when, the
two being permitted out under observation,
they meet again in the house of the Fleet
parson, where Sables hopes to make sure of
his young bride, that Prosper learns that the
girl is penniless. Though he has started as a
fortune-hunter he proves a true lover, and
taken back to the Fleet refuses to accept
payment of all his debts and freedom on the
condition that he gives up Mabillah and goes
abroad. Then he hears that the girl's uncle
is ruined, sees her brought into the Fleet—
and, to save her, signs the bond which would

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