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excitement either of the action itself or of the



28 DOUGLAS JERROLD

reception of the victors, and the resultant
loathing for military " glory " was an ever-
abiding one with him. Possibly the vessel
brought back wounded when she returned
from Cuxhaven on June 29, and from the Ems
in August, but her log has no mention of such.

While on one of these trips between Eng-
land and the Continent — probably at Ostend —
young Jerrold fell into sad disgrace with his
chief officer. 1 He had gone ashore with the
captain, and was left in charge of the boat.
While the commander was absent one of the
seamen asked permission to land, and make
some small purchases. The good-natured and
unsuspecting young officer at once assented,
adding with boyish readiness, " By the way,
you may as well buy me some apples and a
few pears."

" All right, sir," as readily replied the man,
and promptly departed.

The captain presently returned to the boat,
and still the sailor was away on his errand.
A search was at once instituted, but to no
purpose, the man had effectually succeeded in
deserting, and the captain's blame fell, of
course, on the too-lenient midshipman. The
episode made a very deep impression upon the
young delinquent, and years afterwards he is

1 This incident has hitherto been told as of two deserters,
and as having taken place at Cuxhaven. The Muster
Books of the brig, which I have examined in the Public
Record Office, only tell of three seamen deserting during
Jerrold's service on her, two at Sheerness and one, on
June 12, 1815, at Ostend.



DOUGLAS JERROLD 29

described as talking about it with that curious
excitement which lit up his face when he spoke
of anything that he had felt strongly. He
remembered even the features of the deserter,
as he had, long afterwards, and in a most
unexpected manner, an opportunity of proving.
With the overthrow of Napoleon, the war
which had so long convulsed Europe came to
an end; ship after ship that had been manned
and pressed into the service returned to
port and was paid off, and at length came
the turn of the Earnest. On September 30
the commander had entered in his log " re-
ceived orders to proceed to Deptford to be
paid off"; and three weeks later "at 11.30
sent the ship's company to Dockyard to be
paid off." Thus on the 21st of October— the
tenth anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar
—Douglas Jerrold stepped ashore and turned
his back upon the Navy. Henceforward he
must seek some other field in which to
win those laurels to which all high-spirited
youths look forward as the assured reward
of all their strivings. He brought ashore
with him, as has been suggested, indelible
impressions of the horrible reality on which
military glory is based, but though Nelson's
profession was closed to him, he brought with
him, too, an abiding love of the salt water, a
lasting sympathy for those who go down to
the sea in ships. Though he had not yet
completed his thirteenth year, it is not fanciful
to believe in the permanency of the impressions



30 DOUGLAS JERROLD

that the boy had received — nearly forty years
of the man's work were to testify to their
strength.

Precisely what was the status of a " first-
class volunteer " I cannot say, but such was
Douglas Jerrold's position during the year
and ten months which he passed in the Navy.
The Muster Books give firstly the ship's
company — including always as No. 1 that
fictional " widow's man " whose pay and
prize money went to Greenwich Hospital —
the officers from admiral to midshipmen,
the warrant officers and seamen. Then came
the rolls of marines, supernumeraries, etc.,
including " first-class volunteers." In the case
of the Earnest, Douglas Jerrold was the only
one in the last category, his name and service
particulars forming a rivulet of writing across
the " meadow of margin " provided by two
of the expansive sheets of the Muster Books.

In the summer of 1813, the year in which
Douglas entered the Navy, Samuel Jerrold had
handed over the management of the Sheerness
theatre to his eldest son Robert, and apparently
contented himself with the management of
the Southend house. It would seem as though
the apathy of the Southend visitors and inhabi-
tants towards the theatre, commented on by
the writer in the Theatrical Inquisitor, continued,
for in the autumn of 1815 Samuel Jerrold
found it necessary to relinquish the Southend
theatre also; indeed, to give up management
altogether. He had, doubtless with the war-



DOUGLAS] JERROLD 31

ranty of a series of successful seasons during
the naval activity at Sheerness, had the
theatre rebuilt, but the work of rebuilding is
said to have been entrusted to unjust men, and
the result was that the old manager found
himself in difficulties, the theatre had to be
sold, the home broken up, and the family
to seek a new one. Thus it was that at the
end of 1815, Samuel Jerrold, his wife and their
children, left Sheerness for London ; exchanged
the surroundings of the theatre at Sheerness or
Southend for lodgings in Broad Court, Drury
Lane.

Little is now recoverable about those small
playhouses of a hundred years ago, and there-
fore the following description of the Southend
theatre as it appeared to a visitor as near to
the time of the Jerrold's abandonment of it
as 1817, may be worth recovering from the
pages of an old magazine :

" In the summer of 1817, on a month's visit to
Southend, exploring the place, I stumbled on what I
certainly did not expect to find, a building designated,
in large letters, Theatre Royal, which but for this
notice, I should have taken for a very small chapel or
rather meeting-house. I had merely read the high-
sounding words Theatre Royal, when the manager
appeared at the door (there was but one, for box, pit,
gallery and stage) ; I immediately recognised an old
acquaintance, who a season before had been engaged
at the Haymarket Theatre. He very politely gave
me the entree of the theatre during my stay; but
requested that I would delay my visit until the next



32 DOUGLAS JERROLD

night but one of performance ; as he flattered himself
on that night there would be something worth seeing.
It was the bespeak of the village of ' Prittlewell ' ;
for which occasion they had prepared three new
pieces, but more particularly Blue Beard ; on which
he told me he had bestowed much care and expense."

The writer proceeded to give a ludicrous
account of the performance of Blue Beard
to a " house " — despite the bespeak — of sixty
or seventy persons, and his description suggests
that owing to that lack of support with which
the " visitors and inhabitants " had before
been reproached, the Southend theatre had a
company more worthy of its audience's neglect.

After the departure of the Jerrold family
from Sheerness and Southend, we more or less
lose sight of Samuel Jerrold's two sons by his
first marriage. The elder, Robert, who had
probably left home by the time that Douglas
was born, followed his father's profession,
and had become a strolling player on some
other circuit. He is said to have taken as his
stage name Fitzgerald — presumably at first
when acting in his father's company to avoid
confusion — and to have become successively
manager of the Norwich and York circuit
companies. With the Norwich Company he
stayed for some years. He is referred to as an
" old friend " in a notice of Norwich theatricals
in 1806, while in 1808—

' Mr. Fitzgerald is, without exception, the most
useful performer we have ; he seems to undertake and



DOUGLAS JERROLD 33

bustle through with uncommon ease, all the various
parts of gentlemen, Jews, countrymen, Irishmen and
sailors; his naturally hoarse voice, and rolling walk,
rather unfit him for the first, but he must be thought
the support of our house."

A year after, and the same critic enlarged on
Robert's versatile powers, his natural genius,
his forcible energy, and his knowledge of stage
effect. While six years later he was still with
the same company, as we learn from a note
on the Norwich Company at Lynn —

" This town may boast of a company that would
not disgrace the first of our metropolitan theatres.
I never saw the comedy of the Rivals, taken as a
whole, better. The Sir Lucius of Mr. Fitzgerald, I
think equal, if not superior, to Mr. Johnstone : in
Irishmen and sailors he is particularly happy— he has
more than once been in treaty with the London mana-
gers, but at the request of his Norwich friends, where
he is greatly admired as an actor, and highly respected
as a man, the treaty has been broken off."

Shortly after this he must have left Norwich,
for in June 1815 he was lessee of the York
circuit. He died suddenly at Hull in the spring
of 1818.

Charles Jerrold, as has been said, entered
the Navy, became a warrant officer, and died
about 1846.

The Admiralty papers which I have ex-
amined in the Public Record Office show that
he must have entered the Navy as Charles
Gerald — which suggests either that he had run

VOL. I D



34 DOUGLAS JERROLD

away to sea and given his name as spelt thus,
or that finding it spelt thus on board he had
allowed it to remain so. When or at what
age he joined I cannot find, but in the summer
of 1812 he was on a ship in Sir Edward Pellew's
squadron in the Mediterranean, and was on
June 1 duly certified as fitted to receive a
boatswain's warrant. As boatswain he was
appointed in the following month to the
Minorca, and afterwards served in the same
capacity in the Camilla, Florida, Argus and
Rainbow. The last-named ship he joined in
December 1823, and between then and 1827 —
when his name no longer appeared in the ac-
tive list of boatswains — he seems to have been
transferred to duties in Chatham Dockyard.

Some years ago I received a letter from an old
man who said that as a boy in the early 'forties
he lived at Woolwich, next door to Edward
Jerrold, a retired warrant officer, and his wife,
and if his memory did not err over the name,
it is possible that Charles Jerrold was Charles
Edward or Edward Charles. From the same
correspondent I learned that this Jerrold
married a Miss Barbara Punchard, daughter of
a Captain Punchard, who was in command of
a ship stationed at Woolwich Dockyard, and
that he died some time in the 'forties.

A couple of stories of this Edward Jerrold
may be given more or less closely in the words
of my kindly old correspondent, who " thought
he remembered hearing it said that the Jerrolds
were Cornish people : "



DOUGLAS JERROLD 35

Now Douglas himself was always devoted
to the sea, so Edward said, and was always,
when young, pleased to get out in a sailing
boat. The rougher the sea the better he liked
it. I remember Edward saying they were
once out together when the sea was rough,
and there was a high wind. Two or three
times they were nearly swamped, and while
Edward steered Douglas was kept constantly
baling, but at last they safely reached the
shore, and Douglas said what a jolly trip they
had had. When he was a sailor Edward
would, when ashore, make his way to the
theatre where his brother's plays were being
performed, and after one voyage he went to
the theatre, and told some one there that he
wanted to see Jerrold. The answer was, " Oh,
you must mean Fitzgerald." " Fitzgerald be
damned, my brother Douglas never had Fits,"
said the sailor, and made his way past to some
one who happened to know the name of the
writer of the play being performed, as well as
that of the performers.

The other story tells how the sailor went to
see one of his brother's pieces performed, and
sat in the pit. Hearing some loud laughter and
noisy talk in the gallery, he looked up and saw
some of his shipmates there, evidently having
a jolly time together. This was too much for
him, and shouting " Ship ahoy ! " he jumped
up, and climbed by various projections past
two tiers of boxes, sailor fashion, " with his
bottle in his side jacket pocket, as easy as



36 DOUGLAS JERROLD

though mounting the rigging, and with the
ready help of his mates from above. No
damage was done, though the people were
expecting every moment to see him fall, and
the incident passed off as a sailor's freak. In
one of the boxes which he passed sat a young
woman with her friends who were acquainted
with Douglas Jerrold, to whom the circumstance
was afterwards mentioned, when they learned
that the climbing sailor was his brother. The
young woman was Barbara Punchard, who
afterwards became Mrs. Edward Jerrold.
So runs my correspondent's strange story.



CHAPTER II

THE PRINTING-HOUSE — FIRST PLAYS
AND MARRIAGE

1816—1824

A fellow actor many years later said that
Samuel Jerrold was the only really honest
manager that he had ever known, but not-
withstanding — cynicism might suggest because
of — the character indicated by that testimony
he had to give up his theatres as a failure, and
retire on London, the goal of the hopeful and
the hopeless alike. It was on the last day
of 1815 that the family left their old home
by the Chatham boat, and on the first day of
1816, in the early morning, they landed in
London, and settled down in a house in Broad
Court, Drury Lane — some years since entirely
transmogrified. Mrs. Samuel Jerrold and her
tAvo daughters were on the stage — and on
coming to London it may well be that they
sought engagements at one or another of
the metropolitan playhouses — probably at one
of those " minor theatres," of which the con-
temporary press affords but the scrappiest
details. Not for the first few years of their
stay in London have I been able to trace their

appearance in the playbills of the period,

37

186325



38 DOUGLAS JERROLD

though in 1822 Miss Jerrold was acting at
Sadler's Wells, and shortly before, and for many
years after, Mrs. Samuel Jerrold was in the
company at the English Opera House.

A curious feature in the history of the
theatre during the early part of the nineteenth
century is the association of the stage with
the work of the printer. Samuel Jerrold, as
we have seen, was at one time printer to the
theatrical company to which he belonged;
William Oxberry, a comedian of considerable
note at the time, had been apprenticed to a
printer, who was also something of an actor,
and himself got his indentures cancelled that
he might go on the stage. Samuel Phelps
began as a printers' reader on a Plymouth
journal, and continued the same work in
London before finally reaching the stage.
Samuel Jerrold's slight association with the
craft as theatrical printer may have suggested
the putting of the two sons of his second
marriage to the trade, rather than to the stage,
which had in his own case left him stranded
in old age. Possibly, too, it may have been
realized that most of the actors of the time had
started as something else, and been afterwards
impelled to the stage. Anyway, now or later,
Henry Jerrold— whose story is of the vaguest,
though his name crops up now and again —
became a printer ; and shortly after the family
reached London, Douglas, then in his four-
teenth year, was bound apprentice to one,
Sidney, a printer in Northumberland Street,



DOUGLAS JERROLD 39

Strand— a street which, entirely rebuilt, remains
to the west of Charing Cross railway station.
The exact date of the apprenticeship I have
not been able to determine, but it was probably
soon after the removal of the Jerrolds to
London, for it was evidently necessary that
all should combine to maintain the household,
the head of which had apparently reached the
end of his working days.

To a boy in his early teens the change from
Sheerness to Broad Court was probably little
hardship; certainly not at first, when London
had yet the glamour of novelty. He must
have heard much of the London theatres— of
the grand " patent " houses and their com-
panies — from actor- visitors to the Sheppey
theatre, and as his father's son he would
probably have little difficulty in getting occa-
sional " orders " to see the performances.
He was early to learn that it was necessary to
be quick-witted in his new surroundings, for a
story runs that a few days after his arrival—
before the naval uniform had been finally
laid aside— he went to Scot's Theatre (later
the Adelphi), which is said to have had a
" remarkably amusing pantomime " at this
time, and as he was walking up the passage
was stopped by an imperative " Pay here,
please ! " Unsuspectingly he handed over his
coin and passed on, to be met again with a
peremptory " Pay here, please ! " as he reached
the genuine pay-office. Only then did he
learn that he had been victimized by a sharper.



40 DOUGLAS JERROLD

Having no more money, he was turning dis-
appointedly away, when a gentleman who had
learned of his trouble generously paid for him.
Shortly after the Jerrolds removed to London,
Wilkinson, the actor who after making a start
at Cranbrook had been a member of the
Sheerness company, and had given Douglas
some of his first lessons, returned to London
to become member of the company at the
Theatre Royal English Opera— later to be
known honourably in the annals of the stage
as the Lyceum.

Wilkinson— old playbills and dramatic critics
troubled little about the Christian names of
the actors, perhaps as " rogues and vagabonds "
they were regarded as without the pale— was
a Londoner, born in 1787, who had made his
first appearance on Samuel Jerrold's Cran-
brook stage as Valverde in Pizarro. Later
he was at Sheerness, thence passed on to
Southend, and for a time was in Scotland as a
member of Henry Siddons's Edinburgh com-
pany. Coming south again, he was at the
Theatre Royal at Norwich for three years,
and on June 15, 1816— a few months after the
arrival of his friends the Jerrolds in London —
made his first appearance before a metropolitan
audience at the English Opera House, where
he continued for some years as principal
comedian. Though described as " one of the
best low comedians of the day," it is not easy
to find much about him, but one colleague
said of him, " he is another who may be held



DOUGLAS JERROLD 41

up as an example of what actors ought to be
— upright, honourable and honest in all his
dealings, a warm friend, and an excellent
husband and father." x

Wilkinson visited the new home in Broad
Court, and more than forty years later he
said : " I cannot forget how glad Douglas
was to see me, and how sanguine he was of my
success, saying (it is now as fresh in my memory
as at the time he uttered it), ' Oh, Mr. Wilkinson,
you are sure to succeed, and I'll write a piece
for you.' " The old actor added, on recalling
the incident, " I gave him credit for his warm
and kind feeling, but doubted his capacity to
fulfil his promise." This remark suggests that
Wilkinson had not noticed any particular
precocity about his child-pupil of some years
earlier. Already it would seem the boy,
brought up in the theatre, was thinking of the
stage, but from a new point of view; already
he was feeling himself moved to express
himself by means of the pen. Therefore, it
may well have seemed that apprenticeship to
a printer was one of the ways which might take
him to the desired goal. At least, in a printing-
house he was in the atmosphere of literature;
as compositor he would have to set the type
for other men's books, would have opportuni-
ties for reading, for learning how it was that
his contemporaries were expressing themselves
in those years when, international unrest

1 Theatrical Biography, by Francis Courtney Wemyss.
1848.



42 DOUGLAS JERROLD

having come to an end after the battle of
Waterloo, social and political unrest were
changing England. Old ideas were giving way
to new ones; intolerance, fighting hard the
while, was opposing the tolerance which a
decade later was to admit Roman Catholics
to the rights of citizenship; some outspoken
writers — Cobbett, Leigh Hunt, Henry Hunt
and others — had begun to speak for democracy,
and though punishment fell on them at times
for their outspokenness, their words were having
an effect in widening the cry for reform.
" Bliss was it in that time to be alive, but to be
young was very heaven," said Wordsworth of
an earlier period. Looking back on the great
change wrought during the two short reigns
between the death of George III and the
accession of Victoria, the words seem again
not inapplicable; for the two brief reigns that
came between the long ones of George III and
Victoria mark changes alike in the moral,
intellectual and physical worlds.

Already in the 'twenties the spirit of change
was abroad, the eager youth may well have
felt it " in the air," as we say. The awakening
of something of a political sense in the people
was making the cry for reform more insistent,
was widening the recognition of the mediaeval-
ism of the spirit which debarred Roman
Catholics from rights of citizenship; the new
spirit in poetry, expressed through the voices
of Byron, Wordsworth and Coleridge, became
yet more lyrical in the voices of Keats and



DOUGLAS JERROLD 43

Shelley. It was a time of the questioning of
old ideas, the formulating of new ideals.
The focal point of such changes is of necessity
seen in literature and the press, and it is
small wonder that an eager-minded young
student who found his daily work in setting
the type by means of which the thoughts
of others were given to the world, should
think whether he, too, had not something
to utter. Douglas Jerrold appears, indeed, to
have been early inspired with the desire to
write, though he must have felt there was
much educational leeway to be made up
before the desire could be achieved, and have
sternly resolved that he would in his spare
hours make up for lost time. Despite a
twelve-hours day at the printing-works he
managed by early rising and late retiring
to find hours for the mastering of Latin,
French and Italian, and for the reading of
those great and varied books, a knowledge of
which is in itself a liberal education. Shake-
speare and Sir Walter Scott were early idols,
the latter still veiled in the anonymity of
" the author of Waverley." Scott was then
at one and the same time delighting the
reading world and extending its boundaries,
and in after years Jerrold would tell how he
had borrowed the volumes one by one from a
lending library and read them delightedly to
his father.

Long hours of work and time given to self-
training did not, however, prevent the youth



44 DOUGLAS JERROLD

from trying his hand at literary expression,
and he doubtless made early essays in the
periodical publications of the period ; but those
first attempts are no longer traceable, and
perhaps not to be regretted, for, as he put it
in one of the rare directly autobiographical
passages in his later writings, " self-helped
and self-guided, I began the world at an age
when, as a general rule, boys have not laid
down their primers ; the cockpit of a man-of-war
was at thirteen exchanged for the struggle of
London; appearing in print ere perhaps the
meaning of words was duly mastered— no one
can be more alive than myself to the worth-
lessness of such early mutterings."

Little can be recalled of Douglas Jerrold's
apprentice days, but the following story may
be given. When the lad brought home his
first earnings he and his father were alone, and
they decided to celebrate the auspicious event
in a fitting manner. Douglas would himself
tell with great glee in later years how he went
forth with his own money to buy a dinner. A
beefsteak pie was the dish decided upon, and
the materials having been bought, the question
arose as to how they were to be so combined
that the result would be a veritable pie ? The
youthful printer's apprentice was not one to be
daunted by such a problem, and immediately
set to work, and having completed his culinary
task, took the pie to the bakehouse. He
continued his journey to the circulating
library and borrowed the latest of the novels



DOUGLAS JERROLD 45

of the mysterious " author of Wavcrley" and
returned with it to read the fascinating pages
to his father. The recollection of this dav
ever remained vividly in Jerrold's memory,
and when telling the story he would add
emphatically and with justifiable pride, " Yes,
I earned the pie, I made the pie, I took it to
the bakehouse, I fetched it home ; and my
father said, ' Really the boy made the crust
remarkably well.' "

Jerrold was only in his sixteenth year when
the promise made to Wilkinson was fulfilled, and
he had a piece duly written for that actor. Its



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