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the same unassuming signature.

In June 1823, The Smoked Miser, or the
Benefit of Hanging, a one-act farce, was brought
out on the same stage as that on which Jerrold's
first piece had been produced rather more than
two years earlier. The new play showed dis-
tinct advance on its predecessor in point of
dialogue. An old miser and his friend are
scheming to get possession of the property of
their ward, and wish — with that end in view —
to wed her to an old confederate. She, how-
ever, has placed her affections elsewhere, upon
a young man appropriately named Daring.
Disguised as Giles Sowthistle, one of the
tenants of Screw, the miser, Daring visits him
on quarter-day and pays the rent. Before he
can get a glimpse of the deeds which prove
his inamorata to be already entitled to her
estate, the genuine Giles comes in to make
excuses for his inability to pay the rent due.
Screw tells him that his brother has already
been there, but Giles says that he has no
brother. " And you will deny this to be your
relation ? " " Ees, zur, I has nobody but a
sister, and he don't look like she." " Not your
brother — why, he's paid your rent — what is he
then ? " " Paid my rent ! Dang it, he is my

Daring and his newly-made friend are turned
out by Spiderlimb, the miser's starveling
servant, to whom are entrusted many of the


brightest points in the dialogue. Daring is
then let down a chimney in a basket to Anne,
and they are just projecting flight when Screw
comes to the room and they have to hide.
The miser, confident that he has heard some
one, goes to the fireplace, stumbles into the
basket and is hauled half up the chimney, only
to be released from his uncomfortable state of
suspense for the required happy ending.

Spiderlimb makes frequent happy references
to his employer's parsimony and meanness.
The miser has remonstrated with him in-
dignantly, " Why, you scoundrel, don't I keep
you ? " "I can't persuade my stomach that
you do." Again, he says to a visitor, " This
way, this way, — don't be afraid, you'll not run
against the pantry." " You are a worthy,
intelligent lad," says the miser, wishful of

making special use of him, " and so "

" You give me humble merit's livery — rags,"
comes the uncompromising answer, showing
the young author to be thus early possessed
of some measure of that bitterness which is all
too often referred to as his chief characteristic.

Reviewing Croly's comedy, Pride Shall Have
a Fall, about this time in the Mirror of the
Stage, Jerrold said, " Were we to choose our
own destiny, were we capable of receiving
from Providence any of its gifts, we would not
say — make us rich, make us talented; but
make us fortunate; luck brings everything,
stupefies the rest of the world, distracts and
deceives their vision, makes them believe they


are blinded by the rays of a peacock, when in
fact they are nothing but the grey, dirty
feathers of the owl."

A month or so after The Smoked Miser had
first made old Sadler's Wells ring with the
merriment of delighted audiences, another
play from the same author's pen was ready
for the boards, and duly made its appearance
on July 28. The piece was founded upon,
and took its title from, Lord Byron's then just-
published poem dealing with the mutiny of the
" Bounty," The Island, or Christian and His
Comrades. Seeing that in later years the play-
wright became familiar with one of the lordly
owners of Chatsworth, it is not uninteresting
to find from contemporary newspaper para-
graphs that the Duke of Devonshire was on
this occasion among the Sadler's Wells first-
nighters. The piece was well received, and
shared the boards with The Smoked Miser on
into the middle of September. According to
the critics' skimpy notices we learn that it
" abounded in rapid incident and situation,"
that it was beautifully staged and that " the
heaving of the anchor and preparing to pro-
ceed from Otaheite, had a most real effect."
The opening scene represented a section of the
armed ship Bounty so correctly that " a sailor
in the gallery (where they mustered very
strongly) called to one of the performers to
' go to leeward of the capstan.' " 1

1 The Island was revived at Sadler's Wells in the
following year, and at the Surrey Theatre in 1825.


The Mirror of the Stage was published by
John Duncombe, of Middle Row, Holborn, who
was proprietor of Duncombe 's British Theatre,
and other theatrical publications, and evidently
a man of some moment to aspiring young
dramatists and artists. Jerrold seems early
to have met with recognition from Duncombe,
and continued to write freely for some time
in the Mirror of the Stage, often, as has been
said, over the simple " a?," sometimes over his
own initials, and, probably, often anonym-
ously. In the number for February 24, 1823,
occur a set of nine six-line stanzas from his
pen entitled The Pleasures of One Chair ;
verses which are neither better nor worse
than aspiring youths are wont to put forth
in the springtime of their lives. The following
is a fair specimen stanza —

" The lip — the dear inviting guest,
'Tis heaven sues — it must be prest

But for religion's sake,
Those glowing ruby gates of bliss
Be they my beads, and I will kiss, —

Such penance let me take."

Laman Blanchard also contributed to Dun-
combe's small Mirror, and it is recorded that
one day, in the beginning of 1824, when he
and Jerrold were talking in the publisher's
shop, there entered a third young man who
was introduced to the friends as Kenny
Meadows, an artist engaged in preparing por-
traits of actors for Duncombe's various publi-

VOL. i f


cations. According to Blanchard Jerrold it
was then that Meadows took to the publisher
his portrait of the actor Young, which duly
appeared in the Mirror of the Stage for Febru-
ary 16 with accompanying verses by Laman
Blanchard. This casual meeting was destined
to bear fruit in long years of friendship and
mutual assistance in work.

An advertisement appeared in the Mirror
of the Stage for January 26, 1824, announcing
a work of Jerrold's to appear " in the course
of next week." The title is given as The
Seven Ages, a dramatic sketch by Douglas
William Jerrold, and the nature of the piece
may be gathered from the following motto
which is appended to the announcement —

" Neville. I don't think he could ever be
prevailed on to produce it on the stage

" Vapid. He ? prevailed on ! The Manager
you mean."

Jerrold had had no very fortunate experi-
ence of managerial treatment with his earliest
ventures — his total return from four plays
amounted to twenty pounds ! — and this
dramatic sketch was probably of a satirical
nature. Beyond the announcement in the
Mirror it has, however, so far proved im-
possible to trace The Seven Ages, or even to
find whether it was ever actually published.

In May of this year a further play from
Douglas Jerrold's pen was produced at Sadler's
Wells Theatre, in the shape of Bampfylde
Moore Carew, a dramatization of the story of


the notorious eighteenth-century King of the

In the Belle Assemblee for 1824 there ap-
peared three pieces of verse from Douglas
Jerrold's pen ; all of them perhaps attributable
to the fact that the youthful dramatist and
compositor — he was but just over twenty-one
— was now engaged to be married. The pieces
are such as many youths have penned in the
same circumstances. The following lines indi-
cate that he was no inattentive reader of the
work of Thomas Moore, and show him also as
early indulging in that use of " conceits," to
use an old word, which characterized much of
his later writing —

' I dreamt that young Cupid to Flora's path strayed,

And culled every beauty that decked her domain ;
But no flower by lightning or canker betrayed,

Or heartsease decaying he wove in the chain.
The garland completed around us he flew —

The cable of joy caught our hearts in the toil.
He shed o'er the blossoms refreshing bright dew —

Their tendrils entwining struck into the soil.

Methought I saw Time — on his lips sat a smile,

And joy lit his face as he sharpened his blade ;
But Cupid still watchful, suspecting the wile,

His cruel intention for ever delayed.
The god in a rage seized the impious steel,

And breathed o'er its surface a clothing of rust,
Crying ne'er shall this garland your keenness reveal,

But ever unite till ye touch them to dust."

In 1824 Douglas Jerrold married Mary Ann
Swann, a daughter of Thomas Swann, of


Wetherby in Yorkshire. The marriage took
place at the Church of St. Giles' in the Fields,
Bloomsbury, on August 15, 1824. He is said
to have first seen his future wife when he was
an impetuous lad of eighteen, and to have
exclaimed on so seeing her, " That girl shall be
my wife ! " A similar story is told of William
Cobbett. At the time of the marriage Douglas
was but in his twenty-second year — his bride
about a year younger — and so boyish in appear-
ance that, as he would recall later, the clergy-
man who performed the ceremony addressed
a few kind and fatherly words to him, bidding
him remember the serious duty he had under-
taken of providing for a young girl's welfare
and that he must remember that her future
happiness must henceforth depend mainly on
her husband. Young as he was in years and
spirits, that husband was already old in expe-
rience, and serious beyond those years on
questions which do not, as a rule, much move
the mind of youth. For a while the young
couple continued to live, as Douglas had been
living, with his mother and grandmother in
Little Queen Street.

" Luck attends the downright striker," and
the young compositor by trade, poet, essayist,
dramatist and critic by aspiration, boldly
entered upon the responsibilities of head of a
family at an age when many young men are
still at college. The following graceful verses
were addressed to him at this time by his poet
friend, Laman Blanchard —


(From n >' early oil "painting)


" And thou art wed ! God knows how well
I wish thee . . .

Thy name shall crown the register
Of those that bless and blindly err ;
That follow a promiscuous gleam,
The poet-brain's romantic dream,
And grasp yet miss the glittering bubble,
While hope endears the specious trouble ;
Who brave the winds when others droop,
And fall at once, but cannot stoop . . .
Clipped be thy wing ! thine eye, and will,
And progress, are an eagle's still.
For whether with song thou tendst thy flock,
Or sling'st smooth pebbles at the giant,
Though deeply thou endur'st the shock,
Nor words nor wounds shall find thee pliant . . .
A bard for whom the thinking eye
Fills with the heart's philosophy,
With whom high fancies, feelings mingle,
Says * Nothing in the world is single,'
And he is right ; even mine is not,

Dear J , a solitary lot.

But this perchance I owe to thee,
Confirmer of my early vision."

The young poet's was not, as he said, a
solitary lot, for even at the time he was en-
gaged, if not already enrolled " in matrimony's
list of cures," before he himself legally came of
age, for in the Dictionary of National Biography
Blanchard's marriage is said to have taken
place in 1823.




An often repeated story — with a parallel in
the life of Benjamin Franklin — tells us that
while Douglas Jerrold was still a compositor
on the Sunday Monitor he made his first signifi-
cant beginnings as a journalist. It was at the
English Opera House — where, as has been said,
Mrs. Samuel Jerrold was a member of the
company — that Weber's opera of Der Freis-
chutz was first presented to an English audience
on July 22, 1824, and, the story runs, Douglas,
having been present at the performance, was
so impressed by the beauty and harmony of
the work that he wrote a critical paper on it
and dropped it anonymously in the editorial
letter-box at the office where he was engaged
as compositor. When he began work the
next morning great was his gratification at
finding his own manuscript among the first
copy handed him to set up, and greater still
on finding an editorial note appended, asking
for further contributions from the unknown
correspondent. This it was, we are told, which
led to his doubling the posts of compositor and



dramatic critic, and so to his final laying aside
of the composing-stick and becoming wholly
dependent on the pen.

It must be admitted that the file of the
Sunday Monitor does not bear out the truth of
this story. The notice of Der Freischutz which
appeared in that journal does not seem to
have been from Jerrold's pen, and was very
evidently the work of the same critic who had
written of the English Opera House in the same
paper a week earlier. He may, of course, have
been engaged on another paper at this time,
but the traditional story proves unverifiable.
In the Sunday Monitor of August 8 appeared
a mot which might well have been Jerrold's — " a
later critic has aptly observed in reference to
the character of the music in Der Freischutz
that the composer has not brought airs from
heaven, but blasts from hell."

It was, as has been shown, assuredly far from
being his first appearance in print. In 1825
both Douglas Jerrold and his friend Laman
Blanchard were contributing to a small twelve-
page literary miscellany — presumably issued
weekly — entitled Arliss's Literary Collections, 1
in which were given short pieces of prose and
poetry, both original and selected. Jerrold's
signed pieces are four in number, slight, satiric
prose scraps, but it is probable that he contri-

1 In The Life and Remains of Douglas Jerrold it is said
that he " first tempted the judgment of the public by bits
of fugitive verse ; and this in Arliss's Magazine" but there
is no trace of anything of his in the magazine, which was
doubtless confused with the later Literary Collections.


buted several of the short unsigned moralizings
scattered throughout the little volume.

Family associations and his early stage suc-
cesses combined to make him turn to dramatic
writing as the means of earning an income,
and his youthful successes at Sadler's Wells
bore early fruit, for some time in 1825 Douglas
Jerrold accepted an engagement as playwriter
to the Coburg Theatre at a small fixed salary.
A few months earlier a critic had written that
the Coburg was rapidly declining, and implied
that it deserved so to do, for it offered its patrons
" pieces that would disgrace a booth at Bartholo-
mew Fair." This state of things the young
dramatist of two-and-twenty was to reverse in
return for the sum of four or five pounds a
week, 1 paid to him by the one-time harlequin,
George Bolwell Davidge, become manager of
the Coburg, on the understanding that he would
provide pieces, drama, farces and dramatic
squibs " as frequently as they might be called
for by a capricious public, and an avaricious
manager." " Long runs " were then things
undreamed of in the philosophy of the most
optimistic of managers and only dreamed of
by the callowest of playwriters, and the position
was therefore far, indeed, from being a sinecure.
New pieces were in almost constant demand,
and the youthful author proved his remarkable

1 In 1790 Thomas Dibdin had been similarly employed
at one of the theatres, his duties being to write one-
act plays as required on any local or topical subject
— and a pantomime at Christmas — for five pounds per


fertility of invention in the readiness with
which he maintained the supply; and main-
tained it, too, as he was justly proud of declar-
ing, from native sources. Though but little
more than a youth in years he had already
resolved to wage war against the prevailing
fashion of " borrowing," " adapting," or, as
he would have preferred to stigmatize it,
" pilfering " from the French. The most
popular writers for the English stage of that
day were wont to make very free use of Parisian
productions, and young Douglas Jerrold's scorn
of the procedure is seen in many of his early
dramatic criticisms, as well as in his letters
and in his more matured productions. The
popular " adapters " of the day, too, Planche,
Selby and others, often had the shafts of his
wit directed at them on this account. His
strong views were strongly expressed, and even
in the earlier days of his severe apprenticeship
to the craft of playwright he succeeded —
setting aside pieces " ordered " on topical
popular themes — in vindicating his position
as above everything an original writer. And
even when the themes on which his pieces were
founded were dictated by managerial policy,
the treatment and dialogue were always
peculiarly his own.

We proceed to the story of one of these
" ordered " pieces. William Hone in his Every-
Day Book declared that nothing would stop the
dramatist of the time from seizing on any novelty
for stage purposes, and reproduced a handbill


that was being given about the streets in which
one "Thomas Feelwell, of 104, High Holborn,"
stated that his own humane feelings and those
of a sensitive public made it proper to expose
the doings of the proprietors of the Coburg,
and proceeded to set forth the following
strange story :

" A young man of extraordinary leanness was, for
some days, observed shuffling about the Waterloo
Road, reclining against the posts and walls, apparently
from excessive weakness, and earnestly gazing through
the windows of the eating-houses in the neighbour-
hood for hours together. One of the managers of the
Coburg Theatre accidentally meeting him, and being
struck with his attenuated appearance, instantly
seized him by the bone of his arm, and, leading him
into the saloon of the theatre, made proposals that
he should be produced on the stage as a source of
attraction and delight for a British audience; at
the same time stipulating that he should contrive
to exist on half a meal a day — that he should be
constantly attended by a constable, to prevent his
purchasing any other sustenance, and be allowed no
pocket-money, till the expiration of his engagement —
that he should be nightly buried between a dozen
heavy blankets, to prevent his growing lusty, and to
reduce him to the lightness of a gossamer, in order
that the gasping breath of the astonished audience
might so agitate his frame, that he might be tremblingly
alive to their admiration."

Seriously, if this be so it ought not to be,
said Hone, and went on to suggest that the
condition of the poor man should be an object


of public inquiry as well as public curiosity.
It may well be that Mr. " Feelwell's " handbill
was nothing but an ingenious advertisement
for the Coburg. One Seurat, the " living skele-
ton," was on exhibition in Pall Mall, draw-
ing crowds of the morbidly curious, and doubt-
less Davidge, seeking to turn that notoriety
to theatrical gain, instructed his new journey-
man-dramatist to make a play of which the
attenuated one should be a central figure.
Thus it was that The Living Skeleton was
produced at the Coburg Theatre. 1 The success
of the little piece must have been considerable,
for several years afterwards Jerrold's new
productions for the Coburg stage were always
announced as "by the author of The Living
Skeleton." In the circumstances it is to be
regretted that the play is not now obtainable ;
it was commented on as follows in one of the
newspapers of the day :

" An amusing piece in which Sparerib, ' a student
of medicine in love and in debt,' is asked by a creditor,
Sharp, to raise the wind by means of exhibiting himself
as a living skeleton. Sharp observes [and the satirist
is betrayed in the dramatist of two-and-twenty],
' that the public would rather give half a crown apiece
to see a man without flesh than sixpence apiece to
put one in good condition.' A real skeleton is
substituted for Sparerib, and is seized in his name as
a victim for the debtor's prison."

1 August 15, 1825. There was another " living
skeleton " in America, one Calvin Edson, who so far
stultified his name as to die — at Randolph, Vermont, in
October 1833.


A fortnight after the production of The
Living Skeleton at the Coburg, Douglas Jer-
rold's first child, Jane Matilda, was born on
August 29. 1

New pieces and dramatic sketches were
brought out so frequently in the " good old
days " that sometimes we find but the barest
mention of them made even in periodicals
devoted exclusively to matters theatrical.
Especially was this the case with regard to
pieces produced at the transpontine or other
of the unpatented houses. The second play

1 The following are the entries made by Douglas
Jerrold himself in his copy of the " Baskett " Old Testa-
ment of 1715, acquired by him in 1837, and now in the
possession of the writer, who has added in brackets the
places of birth from the church register —

" Jane Matilda Jerrold, born August 29, 1825. Chris-
tened at St. George's, Bloomsbury.

William Blan chard Jerrold, born December 22, 1826.
Christened at St. George's, Bloomsbury. [Little
Queen Street.]

Douglas Edmund Jerrold, born July 18, 1828.
Christened at St. George's, Bloomsbury. [Seymour
Street, St. Pancras.]

Mary Anne Jerrold, born September 21, 1831.
Christened at St. George's, Bloomsbury. [Augustus
Square, Regent's Park.]

Thomas Serle Jerrold, bom July 4, 1833. Chris-
tened at St. George's, Bloomsbury. [Seymour
Terrace (Little Chelsea).]

Mary Anne Jerrold, bom March 26, 1830. Died
April 8, 1831.

Bessy Jerrold, bom August 28, 1836. Died Nov-
ember, 1836."

An examination of the registers of St. George's, Blooms-
bury, shows that Jane was not christened at that church,
and that Thomas was actually christened Charles Serle.


to be written by Jerrold for ex-harlequin
Davidge — or at least the second which is
traceable as his, for the authorship of many
productions seems never to have been declared
— was a comic sketch entitled London Char-
acters, a piece of dramatic caricature of which
only the " advertisement " has proved re-
coverable :


"Puff I Puff!! Puff!!!

"'Puff in thy teeth.' — Shakespeare.

" Some explanation may be required from the writer
to preface this (apparently) hardy undertaking, and
he enters on it with all the alacrity which the con-
sciousness of good intentions is so well calculated to
inspire. It is a common fault that in our anxiety to
render homage to the memory of men bygone, we
treat somewhat too cavalierly the illustrious living,
who still pay rent and taxes : it is as though indi-
viduals were not to be esteemed until they had given
employment to an undertaker. Now the present
object of the writer is to awaken the public to a
proper knowledge of the talents scattered through the
town, to pull its million buttons and tweak its thou-
sand noses, until the said lethargic public shall open
its two thousand eyes (that is, allowing a pair for
every person), and become fully assured of the great-
ness it has snored over. To this end and without
any fear or trembling the writer creates the important
letters that form the mystic name of Francis Moore,
physician, almanac maker, the awful wizard that
warns the ungrateful world of the season for um-
brellas and worsted hose : he apostrophizes those


venerable sages Day and Martin, who, like the wise
men of yore, write their immortality on imperishable
leather ; Burgess, who, with Jonah, has found a
lasting fame in the bowels of a fish ; Mr. Money, of
Fleet Street, who, like Captain Parry, roves ' from
pole to pole ' for mutual benefit ; Charles Wright, of
the Opera Colonnade who makes us forget our troubles
at the cheapest rate; Rowland, who drops the
compassionating ' dye ' on the afflictions of red hair,
and puts whiskers into half mourning ; Atkinson who
trains English beauty as the Greenlanders feed their
children, upon bears' grease; Henry Hunt, Esq.,
the reformer of vitiated tastes for Turkey coffee;
Charles Wright, whose spirits like that of the Spanish
goblin dwell in a bottle ; Doctor — but no, some kind
of excellence must, like the poet's flower (and,
indeed, like much genius of the present day), ' blush
unseen ' ; Mrs. Johnson, whose Soothing Syrup speedily
fills our mouths with bones that we may better tear

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