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flame, Vincent promptly falls in love with the
damsel of the cherries — only later to find that
she is his cousin, and Gertrude's father and
grandfather are of course reconciled. It is
a pretty play with some entertaining dialogue,
in which a honeymooning undertaker from
Houndsditch, who is greatly befooled by sellers
of " relics " of the great battle, plays the chief
comic part.

" Jerrold, after witnessing the success of
Gertrude's Cherries, has, we believe, returned
to France " — so ran a newspaper comment of
the day, but it was not to prove a happy
return, for shortly afterwards — after a chilly
evening spent on the pier at Boulogne — he
had a severe attack of rheumatism which
settled in the eyes and made him suffer
tortures. As his son put it, "a French doctor
came to him, and treated him as a horse might
be treated. He was blistered, and again
blistered. He shrieked if the light of the small-
est candle reached him; yet he could, if the
chord were touched, say a sharp thing. This
French doctor had just been operating upon
the patient. The patient had winced a little,

VOL. i. z


and the operator had said, ' Tut ! tut ! it's
nothing at all ! ' Presently some hot water
was brought in. The doctor put his fingers
in it, and sharply withdrew them with an
oath. The patient, who was now lying, faint,
upon the sofa, said c Tut ! tut ! It's nothing-
nothing at all ! ' "

After five weeks of illness he was well enough
to pay a visit to London for the purpose of
consulting a specialist, and on November 7
wrote from Dover :

" My dear Forster, — You will, I know, be happy
to see this scrawl. I have just crossed from Boulogne
and shall be in London to-morrow evening. I, in
truth, rejoice in a resurrection. I, however, come
to have advice from Alexander that will, I trust, in
a few days quite restore me. I will see you (thank
God ! I now can see you) in the forenoon of

" Yours truly ever,

" Douglas Jerrold."

The letter is written in a large and " scrawl-
ing " manner quite in contrast with the author's
usual small, neat penmanship, and thus bears its
evidence to the affliction from which the writer
had suffered. It was evidently but a brief visit
to London, for just three weeks later Jerrold
wrote again to the same correspondent from
Boulogne, announcing his determination to
settle in London :

' My dear Forster, — In dread of a relapse, I
have resolved to avail myself of the first fair day — for


here the weather continues very bad — and start for
England. I have tried for several mornings to work,
but cannot. After half-an-hour's application, or less,
reading or writing, thick spots obscure my sight, and
then come all sorts of horrid apprehensions. Yet
I strive to think it is nothing but weakness, which
rest — and rest only — will remedy. On this, how-
ever, I come (and have resolved to settle in England)
for advice. I now despair being able to complete
Rabelais, lor, though I might still eke out sight
enough for it, without any permanent evil — yet the
nervous irritability which besets me weakens every
mental faculty. You will, I hope, believe me truly
distressed at the inconvenience I shall draw upon you.
which, at no small risk, I would if possible prevent.
If, however, I am to work again, Rabelais shall be
the first thing I complete. I shall see you in a few

" Yours ever most truly (and sadly),

" D. Jerrold."

John Forster was at the time editor of the
Foreign Quarterly Review, and Jerrold had
promised a contribution on the subject of
Rabelais — a contribution which he was destined
never to write, though he is said to have been
a diligent and enthusiastic student of Rabelais'
work. Writing to Douglas Jerrold's son many
years later, Forster said, " I never in my experi-
ence found an understanding of, and liking
for, Rabelais other than the sure test of a well-
read man. Your father had read and studied
a great deal more than those who most inti-
mately knew him would always have been
prepared to give him credit for." The tone


of the preceding letter was coloured not only
by his own severe illness but by the fact that
a niece, the one whom he had himself taken
out in April — daughter of his sister, Mrs.
Hammond — to be at school with his own girls
in Boulogne, had just died there.

During 1842— week by week from the begin-
ning of July until the end of the year, Jerrold
had been contributing to the columns of
Punch a satirically pointed series of Punch's
Letters to His Son, which were duly published
early in the following year as a neat little
volume with a number of illustrations by the
author's old friend, Kenny Meadows. Jerrold
was already feeling, perhaps somewhat bitterly,
the reputation which had been passed on him
for bitterness, and he wrote as Punch in the
introduction to these letters : " I am prepared
to be much abused for these epistles. They are
written in lemon-juice. Nay, the little sacs
in the jaws of the rattlesnake, wherein the
reptile elaborates its poison to strike with
sudden death the beautiful and harmless
guinea-pigs and coneys of the earth — these
venomous bags have supplied the quill that
traced the mortal sentences. Or if it be not
really so, it is no matter; the worthy, amiable
souls, who would have even a Sawney Bean
painted upon a rose-leaf, will say as much;
so let me for once be beforehand, and say it
for them." The writer was again and again
to be accused of dipping his pen in lemon- juice
merely because he refused to subscribe to the


smugly comfortable but pernicious doctrine
that " all's right with the world."

Reaching London with his family towards
the close of 1842, Douglas Jerrold settled for
a short time in the Vale of Health, Hamp-
stead, while looking about for a new home,
and thence on January 1, 1843, he wrote to
Forster :

" My dear Forster, — A happy new year to you !
I have at last a tranquil moment, which I employ
in jotting a few words to you. I should have called
upon you when I came to see Alexander but was
summoned back to Boulogne, where I found my dear
niece — a loveable, affectionate creature, little less to
me than a daughter — in her coffin at my house.
She had died of typhus at school — died in her four-
teenth year. I found my wife almost frantic with
what she felt to be a terrible responsibility; for we
had brought the child only last April from her heart-
broken mother to Boulogne. I assure you, that I
have been so harassed by bodily and mental annoy-
ance, I might say torture — that I have scarcely any
notion of how the time has passed since I last saw
you. We are, however, now settling down into some-
thing like tranquillity. I am myself much better —
with the healthful use of my sight. I have taken
a house near Regent's Park (Park Village) and hope
to be in it in a few days, with all my family. I
will call upon you in a day or two. The contents of
the Foreign have a promising appearance — I deeply
regret that one article is wanting.

' Ever, my dear Forster, yours truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

" Possibly we may meet at Talfourd's on Thursday,"


The article " wanting " in the Foreign
Quarterly was, of course, his own promised
paper on Rabelais.

The house that was fixed upon was a very
pretty place, 3, Gothic Cottages, Park Village
East, Regent's Park, and there at the beginning
of 1843 the home was newly set up, and in
" a study bowered by trees " the author could
set to work again so far as his still but con-
valescent eyes would permit. He had already
begun the tender Story of a Feather, which
commenced its serial appearance in the pages
of Punch in the first number for the new year,
and in the tree-bowered study it was to be
continued and completed. That the eyes were
still causing some anxiety is to be gathered
from the next letter to Forster :

" 3, Gothic Cottages, Regent's Park,

" February 15 [1843].

" My dear Forster, — I am kept at home for one
or two days, with a hint (no more) of inflammation
in one of my eyes : this will pass by keeping out of
the cold air. I have been at work and shall be quite
ready for you. I will see you, I hope, on Friday.
I am, indeed, sorry to hear of your ill-health — and
most heartily wish you speedy deliverance from the
fiend rheumatism. Have j^ou tried ' Feaver's Em-
brocation ' ? It is, I know, a quack medicine ; but
as the regulars are puzzled by the malady past all
knowledge, one is, therefore, justified in trying the
amateurs. J have found instant relief from it —
'tis an outward ' appliance ' — and have successfully
recommended it in several cases — notwithstanding
my belief that every man has his own rheumatism.


I heard on Saturday morning that you had been ill,
and also at night from Blanchard that you were quite
recovered, or should have called on Monday.

" Yours ever truly,

" D. Jerrold.

" I'm glad you like the Feather.'"

He was evidently still contemplating the
Rabelais, but as evidently had not got beyond
the contemplation of it when he wrote again
some three weeks later :

" My dear Forster, — I have been from home,

and so received yours only last night. I have found

it impossible to do any work by candlelight, which

hindrance has considerably impeded me : and I have

moreover lost time in finally settling certain matters

which have been long harassing me — however, now

they are settled I should have communicated with

you ere this, but day by day thought the annoyance

would be over, and so leave my mind at liberty.

I cannot accomplish the paper in time — and yet

have scarcely the courage to tell you so. I have,

however, been the victim of circumstances which

may in your opinion make me seem reckless and

negligent in this affair — but it is not so. You have

doubtless seen my name in conjunction with a new

periodical. Do not believe that that project has

employed my thoughts to the neglect of you — for

nothing more has been done than the writing of the


" Yours truly,

" D. Jerrold."

On April 4, Douglas Jerrold made one of
his infrequent appearances in public, when as


steward he supported Charles Dickens, who
was presiding at the London Tavern over the
annual dinner of the Printers' Pension Society.
One of the toasts ran, " Thomas Hood, Esq.,
Douglas Jerrold, Esq., and the other authors
present," and to this Hood responded.

At length, after the various delays, Jerrold
gave up any idea of doing the Rabelais article
and wrote on April 19 :

" My dear Forster, — If ever I propose to myself
the evil habit of not attending to letters, you I can
assure you will be about the last I shall pass the
unseemly practice upon. I have delayed answering
until now, because I wished to answer definitively.
I feel that in two instances my non -performance
must have been so grievously inconvenient and per-
plexing, that I would not risk a third for any con-
sideration. It is, therefore, that I have taken time
to answer. I think I could do the paper ; but I will
not content myself with supposition. This magazine,
placing as it does a new responsibility upon me,
will not allow me to answer definitively yes ; and,
therefore, rather than run the least hazard, rather
than chance the remotest doubt — with great, very
great, unwillingness, I reply — no. It is, however,
but the poorest justice to you that I should say as
much; as I perfectly appreciate the motive which
has — out of consideration to me — kept so good a
subject for the work hitherto untouched. Though,
however, I may not be able to give the time and labour
necessary to so elaborate a [matter] as Rabelais,
I should nevertheless much like any other subject
that might present itself in an easier vein, I will,


if you like, keep my attention awake to some such
subject, and post to you thereupon.

" Yours truly,

" Douglas Jerrold."

Some days later the volume which was
evidently to have been the " peg " on which
the article was to be hung was returned to
the disappointed editor :

" My dear Forster, — I send Rabelais. You will
perceive a change in the book, inasmuch as the scarlet
edges are a faint reflection of the blushes of

" Yours truly,

" Douglas Jerrold."

In May came the first number of the
Illuminated Magazine — apparently Douglas
Jerrold's first essay in editing since the Punch
in London of a dozen years before. The
' advertisement " of the Illuminated declared
that " figures and objects of every kind there
will be, illustrative of the text, in its every
variety of essay — narrative — history — of social
right and wrong — of the tragedy of real life,
as of its folly, its whim, its mere burlesque.
Our prime object will be variety of matter,
so that the readers of the Illuminated Magazine,
like the lovers of pine-apples, may choose some
for one flavour, some for another, and some —
and we trust the greater number — for all."
In the preface to the first volume completed
in the following October, it was said ;


" It has been the wish of the proprietors of this
work to speak to the masses of the people ; and
whilst sympathizing with their deeper and sterner
wants, to offer to them those graces of art and litera-
ture which have too long been held the exclusive
right of those of happier fortunes."

The magazine set off with an essay by the
editor entitled " Elizabeth and Victoria," *
in which the author compared the legendary
" good old times " with the degenerate present
of the grumbling laudator temporis acti. It is
this essay that is referred to in the following
letter from Charles Dickens. The " books "
may be taken to indicate a belated presentation
copy of Cakes and Ale:

" Devonshire Terrace,

" Third May, 1843.

" My dear Jerrold, — Let me thank you most
cordially for your books (and I have read them with
perfect delight), but also for this hearty and most
welcome mark of your recollection of the friendship
we have established ; in which light I know I may
regard and prize them.

" I am greatly pleased with your opening paper in
the Illuminated. It is very wise and capital ; written
with the finest end of that iron pen of yours ; witty,
much needed, and full of truth. I vow to God
that I think the parrots of society are more intolerable
and mischievous than its birds of prey. If ever I
destroy myself, it will be in the bitterness of hearing
those infernal and damnably good old times extolled.
Once, in a fit of madness, after having been to a public

1 Reprinted with The Chronicles of Clovemook, 1846.


dinner which took place just as this Ministry came
in, I wrote the parody I send you enclosed, for
Fonblanque. There is nothing in it but wrath;
but that's wholesome, so I send it you.

" I am writing a little history of England for my
boy, which I will send you when it is printed for him,
though your boys are too old to profit by it. It is
curious that I have tried to impress upon him (writing,
I dare say, at the same moment with you) the exact
spirit of your paper, for I don't know what I should
do if he were to get hold of any Conservative or
High Church notions ; and the best way of guarding
against any such horrible result is, I take it, to wring
the parrots' necks in his very cradle.

" O Heaven, if you could have been with me at
a hospital dinner last Monday ! There were men
there who made such speeches and expressed such
sentiments as any moderately intelligent dustman
would have blushed through his cindery bloom to
have thought of. Sleek, slobbering, bow-paunched,
over-fed, apoplectic, snorting cattle, and the auditory
leaping up in their delight ! I never saw such an
illustration of the power of the purse, or felt so
degraded and debased by its contemplation, since
I have had eyes and ears. The absurdity of the thing
was too horrible to laugh at. It was perfectly over-
whelming. But if I could have partaken it with
anybody who would have felt it as you would have
done, it would have had quite another aspect; or

would at least, like a ' classic mask ' (oh, d that

word !) have had one funny side to relieve its dismal

" Supposing fifty families were to emigrate into
the wilds of North America — yours, mine and forty-
eight others — picked for their concurrence of opinion
on all important subjects and for their resolution


to found a colony of commonsense, how soon would
that devil, Cant, present itself among them in one
shape or other ? The day they landed, do you say,
or the day after ?

" That is a great mistake (almost the only one I
know) in the Arabian Nights, when the Princess
restores people to their original beauty by sprinkling
them with the golden water. It is quite clear that
she must have made monsters of them, by such a
christening as that.

" My dear Jerrold, faithfully your Friend,

" Charles Dickens."




That there was something disappointing
to the editor about the appearance of the
Illuminated we learn from one or two refer-
ences in his letters of the time. And indeed
the colour implied in the title was limited to
the title-page, and was very crudely produced.
That despite such mechanical drawbacks the
magazine met with a cordial reception we learn
from the following note addressed to Cyrus
Redding :

" 3, Gothic Cottages,

" May 12 [1843].

" My dear Redding, — I have been out of town
for two or three days, or should have answered
before. Name your own day, giving me a forty-
eight hours' notice and you shall command the
' tediousness ' of,

" Yours truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

c The mag. was infamously printed. It has, how-
ever, done more than well. In June 'twill, I think, be



With the magazine safely started, and meet-
ing with such a reception as promised for it a
goodly future, the editor was able to take his
work with him away to some such country
retreat as always delighted him. The experi-
ence of the previous autumn had probably
made Boulogne a place of memories too sadly
fresh in the mind, and Jerrold went for the
first time to a place which attracted him again
and again in successive years — though a place,
it may be said, which he did not mind chaffing
in the pages of Punch. This was Heme Bay—
or rather the village of Heme, lying something
less than a couple of miles from the actual
Bay, where for several years at holiday time he
sought rustic quiet. Firwood House, the only
place in the neighbourhood with which I can
definitely associate his visits to the breezy and
bracing Kentish coast, is at Heme Common,
a delightful tree-embowered hilltop house, from
the pines at the back of which is to be seen
the Bay. From Heme, about the end of May
1843, he wrote thus to Charles Dickens — what
the enclosure for Daniel Maclise was does not
appear :

' My dear Dickens, — I write from a little cabin,
built up of ivy and woodbine, and almost within
sound of the sea. Here I have brought my wife
and daughter, and have already the assurance that
country air and sounds and sights will soon recover

" I have little more than a nodding acquaintance
with Maclise, and therefore send the enclosed to him

C *5




through you. I cut it out of The Times last summer
in France, with the intention of forwarding it. Since
then it has been mislaid, and has only turned up
to-day with other papers. It appears to me to
contain an admirable subject for a picture; and for
whom so specially as Maclise ? What an annoyance,
too, it is to know that good subjects, like the hidden
hoards of the buried, are lying about, if we only
knew where to light upon them. This, to be sure,
is only annoying to those who want subjects or
money; and then, again, of these Maclise is not.
Nevertheless upon the fine worldly principle of
leaving £10 legacies to Croesus, I send the enclosed
to Mr. M. I am about to take advantage of the
leisure of country life, and the inspiration of a glorious
garden, to finish a comedy begun last summer, and
to which rheumatism wrote ' to be continued,' when
rheumatism, like a despotic editor, should think fit.
By the way, did they forward to you this month's
Illuminated Magazine ? I desired them to do so.
As for ' illuminations,' you have, of course, seen the
dying lamps on a royal birthday-night, with the R
burned down to a P, and the W's very dingy W's
indeed, even for the time of the morning. The
' illuminations ' in my magazine were very like
these. No enthusiastic lamplighter was ever more
deceived by cotton wicks and train oil, than I by
the printer. However, I hope in another month
we shall be able to burn gas."

The " illumination " in so far as that was
shown in the red, blue and gold title-page of
the magazine was certainly not satisfactory,
but in the second meaning of its title the mis-
cellany may be said to have justified that title
thoroughly. The stay in Heme Bay provided


the editor with material for some light yet
pregnant philosophical essays — now it is a
sight of the local workhouse, with its two tiny
windows looking out in the country — all its
other windows turned inward upon the small
enclosed space and looking but upon other
buildings. " No crevice, no loophole per-
mitted captive poverty a look, a glimpse of
the fresh face of nature ; his soul, like his body,
was bricked up according to the statute." A
consideration of this leads to the conclusion :
" If God punish man for crime, as man
punishes man for poverty, woe to the sons of
Adam." In another case it is a walk to the
twin towers of Reculver that starts a vein of
musing. Then, it may be added, this striking
coast-mark had not been safeguarded from the
devouring sea. No longer is it possible to see
the bones of the long-dead exposed in the wave-
washed earth of the burial ground around the
remains of the ancient church; no longer can
one have the experience which Douglas Jerrold
recorded at the close of his Gossip at Reculver :

" One day, wandering near this open space, we
met a boy, carrying away, with exulting looks, a
skull in very perfect preservation. He was a London
boy, and looked rich indeed with his treasure.

" ' What have you there ? ' we asked.

" ' A man's head — a skull,' was the answer.

" ' And what can you possibly do with a skull ? '

" ' Take it to London.'

" ' And when you have it in London, what then
will you do with it ? '


" ' I know.'

" ' No doubt. But what will you do with it ? '

" And to this thrice-repeated question, the boy
three times answered, ' I know.'

" ' Come, here's sixpence. Now, what will you do
with it ? '

" The boy took the coin — grinned — hugged him-
self, hugging the skull the closer, and said very
briskly, ' Make a money-box of it ! '

" A strange thought for a child. And yet, mused
we as we strolled along, how many of us, with nature
beneficent and smiling on all sides — how many of us
think of nothing so much as hoarding sixpences — yea,
hoarding them even in the very jaws of Death ! "

While Jerrold was at Heme Bay came news
that Benjamin Webster had, for the encourag-
ing of English dramatic talent, offered the sum
of five hundred pounds for the best comedy
submitted to him by the close of the following
September. The author of over sixty plays
was highly diverted by the manager's pro-
posal ; he had won a place as the first of living
dramatists by nearly a quarter of a century's
writing for the stage — and for his most
successful piece, a piece that had established
an unchallenged " record," to use a modern
phrase, he had received from the theatre but
a tenth of that amount. He wrote to Charles
Dickens :

" Of course you have flung Chuzzlewit to the winds,
and are hard at work upon a comedy. Somebody —
I forget his name — told me you were seen at the Hay-
market door, with a wet newspaper in your hand,



knocking frantically for Webster. Five hundred
pounds for the best English comedy ! As I think of
the sum, I look loftily around this apartment of full
twelve by thirteen — glance with poetic frenzy on a
lark's turf that does duty for a lawn — take a vigorous
inspiration of the double ' Bromptons ' that are

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Online LibraryWalter JerroldDouglas Jerrold, dramatist and wit (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 24)