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Douglas Jerrold, dramatist and wit (Volume 1) online

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fugacity of fame that is the lot of those who
deal, however brilliantly, with criticism of
matters of the moment.

During the early part of 1844 Jerrold was
very busy with miscellaneous contributions to
Punch, and with completing the Chronicles of
Clovernook in the magazine he was editing, on
the completion of which, in the July number,
he at once set about a new series for Punch,



Encouraged by the success which had attended
the earlier letters in which the jester had
given his advice to his son, the author
now started and continued to the end of
the year a series presenting Punch's Complete
Letter Writer.

A letter to Benjamin Webster, of the
Haymarket Theatre, this year, refers to the
dramatist's Time Works Wonders.

" Boulogne-sur-Mer,
" September 19 [1844], Rue de Maquetra.

" My dear Sir, — I have only to-day received your
letter with one from Lemon. From this I am induced
to believe that what I urged in my last respecting
the additional remuneration has come as an unex-
pected demand upon you, and I therefore, under the
present circumstances, waive it : the more especially,
as from certain matters I have now in hand, I should
not be able to complete the two-act piece for your
present season. I am moreover of opinion that the
piece I sent you will be susceptible of fuller effect (as,
indeed, must all pieces of sentiment and character)
on your stage than [that] of any larger arena. Will
you favour me with an early line, addressed as

" Yours truly,

" D. Jerrold.

" If May wood cannot be made to dovetail with
your arrangements, I am willing that the part should
go to Mr. Strickland."

Some time during the autumn of this year
Douglas Jerrold paid a visit to Scotland, and
was present at a Burns Festival at which the
poet's sons were entertained, but unfortunately


no particulars of the trip are available beyond
the two pages on the theme which he con-
tributed to Punch.

In the October number of the Illuminated
Magazine Jerrold bade farewell to his readers
in a brief note dated from " West Lodge,
Putney Common," and resigning his office to
his successor — who (perhaps after an interval)
was William John Linton, the poet and en-
graver whose wife, Mrs. Lynn Linton, was to
be one of the most popular writers of the next
generation. The following letter — the first
available that was written from the home
most memorably connected with its writer —
addressed to Camilla Toulmin (afterwards Mrs.
Newton Crosland) suggests that the editorship
had not been an entirely comfortable position
and hints at a new venture that was evidently
then taking shape :

" West Lodge, Putney,

" October 10, 1844.

" My dear Madam, — I am happy to learn that
you have returned recruited for your work, which I
have no doubt will bear evidence of the fresh air of
Devon. My engagement with the magazine ended
somewhat abruptly, but I am on perfectly good terms
with the proprietor who, for a mere money-grubber,
is by no means the worst of that stolid class. I feel,
however, sensibly relieved by withdrawing from the
work ; it kept me from higher and better labour, and
I was constantly trammelled by indecision and ignor-
ance. Mr. Ingram's partner thinks himself literary,
and will I believe edit. If I can judge correctly of
his taste, it will not long survive his intelligence. He
has a notion that contributions are to be got for


nothing, and so they are, and when got are worth
exactly what is paid for them.

I have the satisfaction of knowing that from what
has been done much good has resulted to Thorn, but
almost all assistance has been from the south. Scot-
land has kept her purse -strings with a double knot in
'em, even though it seemed that half -farthings have
been expressly issued to tempt her liberality. I will
send you Thorn's book when I can pick it out of the
little mountain of volumes amongst which it is at
present buried.

" I shall certainly bestow my tediousness upon you
the first time I come your way, and my paternal
duties x will, I presume, make the day not distant.
We trust, also, that yourself and mamma will see us
here in the great desert of Putney, in which I never
breathed more freely than for months past. Now I
have here the blessing of a large garden, out of which
I hope to dig a book or two.

" In two or three months I hope for the pleasure
of again meeting you on a work under a far different
proprietorship than that I have just quitted. With
our remembrances to Mrs. Toulmin, believe me,

" Yours truly,

" Douglas Jerrold.

iw P.S. — I trust I need not say that at any time it
will afford me much pleasure — in so far as ' what so
poor a man as Hamlet can do ' — to forward your
wishes ; and therefore hope you will never hesitate
to tell me when you think I can be in the slightest way

To a short-lived periodical of this autumn,
The Stage, Jerrold contributed some brief

1 Presumably to visit his elder daughter, Jane, who
during this year (1844) married Henry Mayhew.


articles, one on The Poor Player, evidently
informed with recollections of his father's life
as a " stroller," and the other — inspired by
the writer's own experiences — on Refusing a
Part. At about this time it was announced,
too, that " a new drama by Douglas Jerrold
will be speedily produced at the Strand
Theatre," but the announcement was not
true. It may have been a misreading of the
revival of Nell Gwynne at that theatre. Not
yet was the dramatist to make a return to
the stage. He was, indeed, engaged in negoti-
ating for the production of a more ambitious
magazine venture than the Illuminated, and
that early in November the arrangements were
completed may be gathered from the following
note of November 11 to George Hodder, who
was a reporter on the Morning Herald, and
then engaged on his Sketches of Life and
Character Taken at Bow Street:

" Dear Hodder, — I arrived back last night. My
object in now writing is that you should speak to
Mr. H. (I forget his name), the surgeon of Sanatorium,
telling him that I have a magazine coming out on
January 1 (the thing is decided), and that I shall
be very glad if he will furnish an article of the
same nature as his last. The matter must be of the
present day, and social in its application,

" Yours truly,

"D. J."

Charles Dickens was away in Italy com-
pleting a new Christmas story, The Chimes,
and thence he wrote inviting Jerrold to the


reading of that story and asking him to return
afterwards to Italy :

" Cremona,
" Saturday Night, Sixteenth November, 1844.

" My dear Jerrold, — As half a loaf is better
than no bread, so I hope that half a sheet of paper
may be better than none at all, coming from one
who is anxious to live in your memory and friend-
ship. I should have redeemed the pledge I gave
you in this regard long since, but occupation at one
time, and absence from pen and ink at another, have
prevented me.

" Forster has told you, or will tell you, that I very
much wish you to hear my little Christmas book;
and I hope you will meet me, at his bidding, in
Lincoln's Inn Fields. I have tried to strike a blow
upon that part of the brass countenance of wicked
Cant, where such a compliment is sorely needed at
this time, and I trust that the result of my training
is at least the exhibition of a strong desire to make
it a staggerer. If you should think at the end of
the four rounds (there are no more) that the said
Cant, in the language of BelVs Life, ' comes up piping,'
I shall be very much the better for it.

" I am now on rav wav to Milan : and from thence
(after a day or two's rest) I mean to come to England
by the grandest Alpine pass that the snow may leave
open. You know this place as famous of yore for
fiddles. I don't see any here now. But there is a
whole street of coppersmiths not far from this inn,
and they throb so d — ably and fitfully, that I thought
I had a palpitation of the heart after dinner just
now, and seldom was more relieved than when I
found the noise to be none of mine.

•• I was rather shocked yesterday (I am not strong


in geographical details) to find that Romeo was only
banished twenty -five miles. That is the distance bet
tween Mantua and Verona. The latter is a quain-
old place, with great houses in it that are now solitary
and shut up — exactly the place it ought to be. The
former has a great many apothecaries in it at this
moment, who could play that part to the life. For
of all the stagnant ponds I ever beheld, it is the
greenest and the weediest. I went to see the old
palace of the Capulets, which is still distinguished by
their cognizance (a hat carved in stone on the court-
yard wall). It is a miserable inn. The court was
full of crazy coaches, carts, geese and pigs, and was
ankle-deep in mud and dung. The garden is walled
off and built out. There was nothing to connect it
with its old inhabitants and a very unsentimental
lady at the kitchen door. The Montagues used
to live some two or three miles off in the country.
It does not appear quite clear whether they ever
inhabited Verona itself. But there is a village
bearing their name to this day, and traditions of the
quarrels between the two families are still as nearly
alive as anything can be in such a drowsy neighbour-

" It was very heart y and good of you, Jerrold, to
make that affectionate mention of the Carol in Punch,
and I assure you it was not lost on the distant
object of your manly regard, but touched him as you
wished and meant it should. I wish we had not
lost so much time in improving our personal know-
ledge of each other. But I have so steadily read
you, and so selfishly gratified myself in always ex-
pressing the admiration with which your gallant
truths inspired me, that I must not call it time lost,

" You rather entertained a notion, once, of coming


to see me at Genoa. I shall return straight, on the
ninth of December, limiting my stay in town to the
week. Now couldn't you come back with me ? The
journey, that way, is very cheap, costing little more
than twelve pounds ; and I am sure the gratification
to you would be high. I am lodged in quite a wonder-
ful place, and would put you in a painted room, as
big as a church and much more comfortable. There
are pens and ink upon the premises; orange trees,
gardens, battledores and shuttlecocks, rousing wood-
fires for evenings, and a welcome worth having.

" Come ! Letter from a gentleman in Italy to
Bradbury & Evans in London. Letter from a gentle-
man in a country gone to sleep to a gentleman in a
country that would go to sleep too, and never wake
again, if some people had their way. You can work
in Genoa. The house is used to it. It is exactly a
week's post. Have that portmanteau looked to, and
when we meet, say, ' I am coming.'

" I have never in my life been so struck by any place
as by Venice. It is the wonder of the world. Dreamy,
beautiful, inconsistent, impossible, wicked, shadowy,
d — able old place. I entered it by night, and the
sensation of that night and the bright morning that
followed is a part of me for the rest of my existence.
And, oh, God ! the cells below the water, underneath
the Bridge of Sighs ; the nook where the monk came
at midnight to confess the political offender; the
bench where he was strangled ; the deadly little vault
in which they tied him in a sack, and the stealthy
crouching little door through which they hurried him
into a boat, and bore him away to sink him where
no fisherman dare cast his net — all shown by torches
that blink and wink, as if they were ashamed to look
upon the gloomy theatre of sad horrors ; past and
gone as they are, these things stir a man's blood like


a great wrong or passion of the instant. And with
these in their minds, and with a museum there, having
a chamber full of such frightful instruments of torture
as the devil in a brain fever could scarcely invent,
there are hundreds of parrots, who will declaim to
you in speech and print, by the hour together, on the
degeneracy of the times in which a railroad is building
across the water at Venice ; instead of going down on
their knees, the drivellers, and thanking Heaven that
they live in a time when iron makes roads, instead
of prison bars and engines for driving screws into the
skulls of innocent men. Before God, I could almost
turn bloody-minded, and shoot the parrots of our
island with as little compunction as Robinson Crusoe
shot the parrots in his.

" I have not been in bed these ten days, after five
in the morning, and have been travelling many hours
every day. If this be the cause of my inflicting a
very stupid and sleepy letter on you, my dear Jerrold,
I hope it will be a kind of signal at the same time, of
my wish to hail you lovingly even from this sleepy
and unpromising state. And believe me as I am,
" Always your Friend and Admirer."

To Forster Dickens had already written with
reference to the party which he wished brought
together for the reading. " I know you have
consented to the party. Let me see. Don't
have any one, this particular night to dinner,
but let it be a summons for the special purpose
at half-past six. Carlyle, indispensable, and I
should like his wife of all things : her judgment
would be invaluable. You will ask Mac[lise]
and why not his sister? Stanny and Jerrold
I should particularly wish. Edwin Landseer;


Blanchard; perhaps Harness; and what say
you to Fonblanque and Fox? I leave it to
you. You know the effect I want to try."
Dickens returned, and the reading duly took
place on December 2 at Forster's room in
58, Lincoln's Inn Fields. Not all those whom
the novelist named were present, but from
Maclise's remarkable sketch it is to be seen
that those who attended were — besides the
novelist, the host, and the artist, Thomas
Carlyle, Laman Blanchard, Douglas Jerrold,
Frederick Dickens, Clarkson Stanfield, Alex-
ander Dyce, the Rev. William Harness, and
W. J. Fox. The meeting is described fully in
Forster's life of Dickens.

Before the close of the year Jerrold's new
magazine was announced to commence at the
beginning of 1845 — announced in a prospectus
which is so characteristic of the writer's con-
stant purpose that no apology is necessary for
giving it in its entirety. The title fixed upon
for the periodical is of itself sufficient indica-
tion of the popularity which the author had
won. Already Thomas Hood — nearing the
close of his brave life — had started Hood's
Magazine, using the editor's name as trade-
mark instead of the publisher's as in the old
style, and Douglas JerroloVs Shilling Magazine
was a further recognition of the fact that writers
as well as publishers not only had something
to do with such miscellanies, but might have
names that had a label- value in the eyes of the
reading public. The prospectus ran :


" It is intended that this Work shall be mainly
devoted to a consideration of the social wants and
rightful claims of the People; that it shall appeal
to the hearts of the Masses of England.

" With no expectation or wish to conflict with or
supplant any present publication, it is believed that
a Work popularly addressed to the sympathies and
common sense of the kingdom, must make for itself
a large and hitherto unoccupied sphere of instruction,
amusement, and utility.

" It is our belief that the present epoch is pregnant
with more human interest than any previous era ; as
it is also our faith that the present social contest, if
carried out on all sides with ' conscience and tender
heart,' must end in a more equitable allotment of the
good provided for all men. To aid, however humbly,
in this righteous and bloodless struggle is a truer, a
more grateful glory, than any glory blatant in gazettes.
And an aroused Spirit begins to feel this. Awakening
from a long, vain dream, that showed the many
created only to minister to the few, the said Spirit
believes — or says it believes — in the universality of
the human heart. Hence, it vindicates a common
right of happiness : hence, in its new tenderness, it
even ' babbles o* green fields ' for the health and
healthful thoughts of the people. So much the

" With Politics — as Party Politics — we meddle not.
The day is happily gone by when Parties — like foul-
mouthed vixens — assailed each other with unseemly
epithets, that mutual abuse might hide mutual cor-
ruption and infirmity. We shall deal with Politics
only in their social relation, as operating for the good
or evil of the community. Whig and Tory — Con-
servative and Radical — will be no more to us than
the names of extinct genera.


' It will be our chief object to make every essay —
however brief, and however light and familiar its
treatment — breathe with a Purpose. Experience of
wider success, and more comprehensive application
than have heretofore been enjoyed by any Weekly
Periodical, assures us that, especially at the present
day, it is by a defined purpose alone, whether significant
in twenty pages or twenty lines, that the sympathies
of the world are to be engaged, and its support

" It will also be our aim to make every page
exclusively British in its subject, possessing either a
present vital interest or tending to the future.

" Whilst dealing with the highest social claims of
our countrymen, we shall not exclude from our
pages either Sketch of Character — Tale — History — or
Romance. Far otherwise. It will be our earnest
desire to avail ourselves of all and every variety of
literature, if illustrating and working out some whole-
some principle. Mere stories, made like Twelfth-
night heroes, of mere sugar, we shall certainly eschew.

" Neither would we have the ' light reader ' take
alarm at our graver subjects. They, too, it is hoped,
may be discussed with no very violent call upon his
wakefulness. It is not necessary that such themes —
like bullets — should be cast in lead to do the surest

" In this address we have aimed at brevity. Could
we have delivered our intentions in one twentieth part
of the space, most willingly would we have done so.
As it is, we have left much unsaid, which our First
Number must endeavour to say for us."


This book is DUE on the last date stamped below


jim is



7 1970















University Research Library





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