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off by a pressgang, was tried, condemned,
hanged, and — resuscitated ! Jerrold " height-
ened " the interest of his drama by superadding
the passions of love and jealousy. The piece
brought ample receipts to the treasury of the
Coburg, and in the following month was given
also at Sadler's Wells. Only a week, however,
had passed after its original production when
a slight piece from its author's pen com-
panioned the seaside story at the Coburg.
This was Two Eyes Between Two, a broad
extravaganza, as it was described, in a single



DOUGLAS JERROLD 95

act. The story on which it was based was
taken from a volume presumably popular at
the time, Posthumous Papers by a Gentleman
About Town, 1 and dealt with the humorous
result of two one-eyed Mussulmen gambling
for their eyes, the loser not daring to look at
anything as the Cadi has adjudged that he has
no right to use the eye, without paying the
winner for the privilege of so doing !

Next, on November 24, came a more ambi-
tious effort in a three-act tragic drama " with
a purpose," to use the phrase much used later
in the century. That purpose was made plain
in the very title of the play, Fifteen Years of a
Drunkard's Life. Welcoming it, a contem-
porary critic said "the author must indeed be
possessed of the pen of a ready writer — for he
not only produces a new melodrama or burletta
at this house almost every other week, and has
also, we understand, been engaged at Sadler's
Wells on the same terms, but he is editor of a
Sunday paper {The Weekly Times) beside." This
three-act " domestic melodrama " has many
strong passages in it, and as it is directed against
a fault not peculiar to any one time, should
always prove popular as a play with a purpose.
One drawback to the piece is the lengthy period
over which the action is carried. The drunkard,
too, is the real hero, and the nobler passages
are put in the mouths of the villains ; Glanville,
for example, the arch-villain and hypocrite,

1 This work was by Cornelius Webbe, who appears to
have been an early friend of Jerrold's.



96 DOUGLAS JERROLD

pointing to the besotted Vernon, broken in
body, mind and estate, exclaims, " See, where
the image of noble, ambitious, God-like man —
the master of the earth, and all its being — the
creature that binds the elements to his will —
that tempts the billows in their wrath, and
blunts the lightning — the gifted soul that would
read the will of fate within the star-lettered
front of heaven — see where he lies, gorged to
the throat with wine ! the mockery of life,
the antipodes of reason."

" Still," his fellow conspirator urges, " this
love of wine has been his only fault."

" Only fault ! habitual intoxication is the
epitome of every crime ; all the vices that stain
our nature germinate within it, waiting but
a moment to sprout forth in pestilential
rankness. When the Roman stoic sought to
fix a damning stigma on his sister's seducer,
he called him neither rebel, blood-shedder or
villain — no, he wreaked every odium within
one word and that was — drunkard ! "

In this play occur Jerrold's often-quoted
words as to Shakespearean grog : "As for
the brandy ' nothing extenuate ' — and the
water, 4 put nought in in malice ! ' "

By the trick of a five years' lapse between
the first and second acts and a ten-year lapse
between the second and third the wretched
Vernon is seen passing from happy prosperity
through misery and crime to a tragic close, for
the " purpose " is carried logically through
and leads to no conventional happy ending.



DOUGLAS JERROLD 97

This appears to have been the last of Douglas
Jerrold's pieces written for Davidge of the
Coburg Theatre. We have record of ten such
spread over a period of rather more than three
years, and as six of these had been produced
within three months it seems likely that it was
but for a short period that Jerrold was salaried
playwright at the Coburg. A contemporary
journal already quoted said that he was
engaged at Sadler's Wells on the same terms
as at the Coburg, but it appears likely that
it was a working arrangement between the
managers of the two theatres and the dramatist,
for at this period no new plays of Jerrold's
are traceable as having been originally pro-
duced at Sadler's Wells. The agreement with
Davidge seems to have come to an abrupt
end, though not quite in the way often de-
scribed. It has repeatedly been said that
Jerrold quarrelled with Davidge, and with the
manuscript of Black-Eyed Susan in his pocket
at once went to Elliston and took up at the
Surrey Theatre the post which he had left at
the Coburg. The story is more dramatic than
true. That there was a quarrel with Davidge
there seems little doubt, and in a moment of
bitterness the young dramatist, smarting under
some special indignity at the hands of the
grasping manager, exclaimed, " May he live
to keep his carriage and be unable to ride in
it." A wish that is said to have been painfully
realized almost to the letter.

Davidge was the centre of a good story

VOL. I H



98 DOUGLAS JERROLD

which the late Henry Vizetelly told at length
in his Glances Back Through Seventy Years—

" Douglas Jerrold, who was a hack dramatist at
the Coburg for several years during Davidge's reign,
had a good story which I once heard him tell at Orrin
Smith's dinner table before he used it up in his Men
of Character, 1 respecting the manager and a certain
performing pig, a former member of the Coburg
company. It seems that the performances of a
cleverly trained porker, known as the learned pig,
were all the rage at some London exhibition, and
that Davidge was seized with the idea that the intro-
duction of an intelligent animal of the same species
on the Coburg boards would attract crowded houses.
A trained pig was accordingly secured from some
travelling showman, and Jerrold was instructed to
write the necessary piece in which the intelligent
Toby might display his surprising talents. The
dramatist by no means relished the idea, and raised
endless objections, but Davidge was obdurate, and
in the end the piece was written. The play, with the
pig in the principal part, proved fairly successful,
but at length the time arrived when it became neces-
sary to withdraw it, and the question then arose, what
should be done with the pig. ' Eat him,' bluntly
suggested Jerrold, ' Toby's still young and succulent.'
4 Good heavens ! how can you propose such a thing ? '
rejoined the indignant manager. ' To eat one's
benefactor would be the basest ingratitude — worse,
indeed, than cannibalism. I couldn't swallow a
mouthful even ! ' The dramatist, abashed by the
reproof, made no reply. A few weeks afterwards
Jerrold happened to call on Davidge at his private

1 This is an error. The story appeared as " The
Manager's Pig," in Cakes and Ale (1842).



DOUGLAS JERROLD 99

residence when the manager and his wife were dining.
He was about to retire, but Mrs. Davidge pressed him
to stay, coaxingly adding, ' I'm sure you'll not refuse
when you know what we are to have for dinner.'
Whereupon, raising a cover, she exposed to view an
inviting hand of pickled pork in which a tolerable
inroad had been made, remarking as she did so, ' It's
a piece of your old friend Toby.' Jerrold could not
conceal his surprise, and turning to Davidge ex-
claimed, ' Et tu, Brute ! Why, only a fortnight ago
you pretended you couldn't swallow a mouthful of
your benefactor.' ' No more I could, sir,' urged
Davidge, solemnly, ' if the animal hadn't been
salted.' "

A glance may be taken at the brief story
and its attendant moral as set forth by the
dramatist himself. Davidge, disguised under
the name of Aristides Tinfoil, is described as
intended by nature for lawn sleeves or ermined
robes. He " might have preached charity
sermons, till tears should have flowed and flowed
again : no matter; he acted the benevolent
old man to the sobs and spasms of a crowded
audience. He might with singular efficacy
have passed sentence of death on coiners and
sheep-stealers ; circumstances, however, con-
fined his mild reproofs to scene-shifters, bill-
stickers, Cupids at one shilling per night, and
white muslin Graces." In his account of the
interview between the dramatist and the
manager Jerrold gives further indications of
the character of his employer and also has a
sly hit at some of the dramatic customs of the



100 DOUGLAS JERROLD

time. We can imagine that it is the retained
author and the actor-manager of the Coburg
who are taking part in the dialogue :

" The pig was no sooner a member of the company
than the household author was summoned by Tinfoil,
who, introducing the man of letters to the porker,
shortly intimated that ' he must write a part for
him.'

" ' For a pig, sir? ' exclaimed the author.

" ' Measure him,' said Tinfoil, not condescending
to notice the astonishment of the dramatist.

" ' But, my dear sir, it is impossible that '

" ' Sir ! impossible is a word which I cannot allow
in my establishment. By this time, sir, you ought
to know that my will, sir, is sufficient for all things,
sir — that, in a word, sir, there is a great deal of
Napoleon about me, sir.'

" We must submit that the dramatist ought not
to have forgotten the last interesting circumstance,
Mr. Tinfoil himself very frequently recurring to it.
Indeed, it was only an hour before, that he had
censured the charwoman for having squandered a
whole sack of saw-dust on the hall floor when half
a sack was the allotted quantity. ' He, Mr. Tinfoil,
had said half a sack ; and the woman knew, or ought
to know, there was a good deal of Napoleon about
him ! ' To return to the pig.

" ' Measure him, sir,' cried Mr. Tinfoil, the deepen-
ing tones growling through his teeth, and his finger
pointing still more emphatically downwards to the

pig-

" ' Why,' observed the author, ' if it could be

measured, perhaps-



tt &



If it could ! Sir,' and Mr. Tinfoil, when at all
excited trolled the monosyllable with peculiar energy —



DOUGLAS JERROLD 101

' Sir, I wouldn't give a straw for a dramatist who
couldn't measure the cholera morbus.'

" ' Much may be done for an actor by measuring,'
remarked the dramatist, gradually falling into the
opinion of his employer.

" ' Everything, sir ! Good heavens ! what might
I not have been, had I condescended to be measured ?
Human nature, sir — the divine and glorious char-
acteristic of our common being, sir — that is the thing,
sir, by heavens ! sir, when I think of that great
creature, Shakespeare, sir, and think that he never
measured actors — no, sir '

" * No, sir,' acquiesced the dramatist.

" ' Notwithstanding, sir, we live in other times, sir;
and you must write a part for the pig, sir.'

" ' Very well, sir; if he must be measured, sir, he
must,' said the author.

" ' It's a melancholy thing to be obliged to succumb
to the folly of the day,' remarked Mr. Tinfoil ; ' and
yet, sir, I could name certain people, sir, who, by
heavens ! sir, would not have a part to their backs,
sir, if they had not been measured for it, sir. Let
me see : it is now three o'clock — well, some time
to-night, you'll let me have the piece for the pig, sir.' "

The pig performed, as we have seen before,
and — having been salted — was eaten by the
manager. Jerrold was not the writer to let
slip such an opportunity for sarcasm, and the
last few lines of the story are distinctly char-
acteristic.

" Of how many applications is this casuistry of the
manager susceptible ?

" ' When, sir,' cried the pensioned patriot, ' I swore



102 DOUGLAS JERROLD

that no power in the universal world could make me
accept a favour at the hands of such men — I meant — '

" Unless salted !

" How often is it with men's principles, as with the
manager's pig ; things inviolable, immutable — unless
salted ! "

As may be gathered from the above the
relations of Jerrold and Davidge were not of
the most cordial, and it is by no means sur-
prising that they quarrelled and parted. The
pig-play, if it was ever an actuality, is un-
traceable.



CHAPTER IV

" BLACK-EYED SUSAN "
1829-1830

It has already been said that the common
story which tells us of the way in which
Douglas Jerrold changed from being drama-
tist-to-order to Davidge at the Coburg Theatre
to being dramatist-to-order at the Surrey
Theatre is more dramatic than true ; that the
legend which tells us how Jerrold quarrelled
with Davidge, and with the manuscript of
Blactc-Eyed Susan in his pocket went and
interviewed Eliiston, and so had the play
produced at the Surrey, is demonstrably
inaccurate. It was in November 1828, as
we have seen, that the last of the Coburg
series of pieces was produced. It was not
until May of the following year that Black-
Eyed Susan was written, and June before it
made its appearance at the rival house — and
it was preceded there by two other of Jerrold's
plays.

" Magnificent were thy capriccios, on this
globe of earth, Robert William Eliiston ! "
Thus Charles Lamb apostrophized the actor-
manager with whom for a time Douglas
Jerrold was to be associated. Leigh Hunt

103



104 DOUGLAS JERROLD

declared that Elliston was the only genius that
had in his time approached to the greatness of
Garrick. But by 1829 Elliston was nearing
the end of a remarkable career, which cannot
here be dealt with at any length. His seven
years' management of Drury Lane which
ended in bankruptcy in 1826— he is said to
have sacrificed his own fortune of £30,000
to the interests of the proprietors— had been
marked with some incidents not usual in the
running of a theatre. For example, on Octo-
ber 26, 1824, he was summoned to the Sheriffs'
Court for knocking down one of his actors,
W. H. Williams. Elliston admitted the assault,
apologized and expressed his willingness to
pay the costs, and so the unseemly incident
closed; but in May of the next year he
committed another assault on Poole the
dramatist, and had to pay a heavy sum in
damages. 1 In the following August he suffered
from an epileptic or other attack which, as
his biographer put it, left him " a helpless,
decrepit, tottering old man " (his years were
then but fifty-one). About this time there
was a fierce attack on him in Oxberry's
Dramatic Biography, while in one of the
theatrical journals appeared the following —
which in these days would surely be con-
strued as libellous — " A correspondent asks

1 In 1812, too, during his earlier occupancy of the Surrey-
Theatre, he had had a row with an actor, De Camp, which
had led to a meeting on Dulwich Common on September 9,
and an exchange of shots.



DOUGLAS JERROLD 105

why Dowton, Mrs. Davison, Miss Kelly and
Mrs. Fitzwilliam are not at Drury ? — He had
better ask the sapient manager. N.B. — Sober
from 12 till 2 — so says report."

Elliston's temper, his egotism and his
habits, were frequently and freely touched
upon in the theatrical periodicals. In 1813
(during his first occupancy of the Surrey) the
following " Intelligence Extraordinary " ap-
peared in one of these papers : " Mr. Elliston
has been observed during the past month to
converse for ten minutes together, without
mentioning himself or the Surrey Theatre 1 "

The late Joseph Knight, summing him up, 1
said not unfairly, " few actors have occupied
a more important place than Elliston, and
few have exhibited more diversified talent
or a more perplexing individuality. In the
main he was an honest, well-meaning man.
His weakness in the presence of temptation
led him into terrible irregularities ; his animal
spirits and habits of intoxication combined
made him the hero of the most preposterous
adventures; and his assumption of dignity,
and his marvellous system of puffing, cast
upon one of the first of actors a reputation
not far from that of a ' charlatan.' "

It was in 1826 that Elliston's rule at
Drury Lane came to an end, and he retired
on that transpontine house of which he had
been lessee earlier in the century, and the
name of which he had changed from the
1 In the Dictionary of National Biography.



106 DOUGLAS JERROLD

Royal Circus to the Surrey Theatre. On
April 16, 1827, it was announced that he
would shortly open the Surrey. It was just
two years later that Jerrold engaged himself
at a weekly salary of five pounds to write
such pieces as were required as often as they
were needed ; and on Easter Monday (April
20), 1829, his first play was produced at the
Surrey. This was a three-act drama, John
Overy, the Miser of Southwark Ferry, the only
female character in which, the Miser's
daughter, was acted by Mrs. Fitzwilliam, 1
whose brother, William Robert Copeland, had
somewhere about this time married Douglas
Jerrold's sister Elizabeth. In this part she
was described as appearing to great advantage,
her acting being spirited, unaffected and
deeply interesting. In characters of romance
or passion she was said to be excelled by
but one of her contemporaries, Fanny Kelly.
The story on which John Overy is founded
was thus summarized by George Daniel in
the remarks-introductory which he wrote for
an edition of the play : One John Overy, a
miser, who lived about the eleventh century,
rented the ferry of Southwark, before a bridge
was built across the Thames. Flattering
himself that his apprentices would volun-
teer one fast, should a master so munificent
be gathered to his fathers, he counterfeited
death, and suffered himself to be laid out;

1 Fanny Elizabeth Copeland had in 1822 married the
actor Edward Fitzwilliam.



DOUGLAS JERROLD 107

hoping by this expedient to snatch at least
one scanty meal from the mouths of his
cormorants. But he sadly miscalculated;
for his apprentices, conceiving the death of
a ravenous old miser a matter for especial
rejoicing, resolved to make a night of it;
in furtherance of which they stormed the
cupboard, which so terrified the ferryman,
that he started up from his bier, grinning
ghastly horrible at their merriment ; when one
of the roysterers, taking the grim intruder
for a ghost, struck him with the butt end of
an oar, and made a ghost of him in reality !
His daughter Mary wrote to her lover the
glad tidings; whereupon he instantly took
horse for London, but on his way thither was
thrown from his steed, and killed. Mary
sought consolation in a monastery, on which
she bestowed the miser's gold ; and the monks,
to reward her piety, canonized her, built a
church and gave it her name; which church,
says the record, is known as St. Mary Overy
to this day. " And the bricks are alive at
this day to testify, therefore deny it not."

The dramatist took from the legendary
story but a hint for his play. He followed
the legend in making the miser's feigned
death lead to death's actuality, but added a
romantic love interest, and in due course a
happy ending. The author was taken to
task for making his miser's " passion for
wealth overcome his regard for his daughter's
virtue, a circumstance which, however natural



108 DOUGLAS JERROLD

in a wretch so sordid, is better avoided on
the stage." The chief merit of the play was
thought to lie in its language " written in
praiseworthy emulation of the old comedy,"
and some of the dialogue of the minor char-
acters is distinguished by that ready-tongued
liveliness which marked even the less note-
worthy of its author's pieces.

Overy, in a speech of bitter satire, tells
how it was that he was driven to miserliness :
" I have walked the world with eyes of man-
hood nearly twoscore years, and what have
I seen ? They call me miser, hang-dog,
grey-haired wolf — it pleases me they should
do so ; — the world ! there was a time when
I looked upon it with a melting eye — a
throbbing heart; I painted it a garden of
flowers — I found it a heap of ashes. What
did I see ? The weak smote down, and goaded
by the strong — virtue shivering in the winds
— vice swathed in ermine; — the knave's head
plumed and glistening with diamonds — poor
honesty shoeless and unbonneted; he, whose
tongue gave utterance to his heart, shunned
like a pestilence, or hunted like a beast — he,
who would lick the hand of fools or hum a
lie within the ear of crime, clothed with the
richest — fed with the best. I saw this, and
my heart grew hard, my eye sullen; I asked
the cause of so much baseness, so much
unmerited contempt ? — I asked, what is it,
that gets up these mockeries of life, dividing
man against man — placing fetters on the



DOUGLAS JERROLD 109

lowly and crowns upon the proud ? — A thou-
sand voices answered ' Gold ! gold ! ' The
sound sunk deeply in my heart — I brooded
o'er the word; — every feeling, every sense,
fell down and mutely worshipped the new-
found secret : from that moment I became
what I now am."

John Overy is a hopeless miser, he sends
his orphaned grandchild away rather than
feed him, he takes money, hoping to make yet
more, by handing over his daughter to villains,
and he shams death rather than spend money
(which has been given him for the purpose)
on a feast to welcome his long-separated
brother — and, as in the legend, that shamming
of death leads to his murder by those who
are attempting to steal his hoard. The
story — as well as the dialogue — smacks of
seventeenth-century comedy.

The success of John Overy must have been
alike gratifying to Jerrold and to Elliston,
and seemed to augur well for the connection
of the former with the Surrey Theatre. The
manager's appreciation of the dramatist's work
— appreciation no doubt fostered by the help
that John Overy had been to the Surrey
treasury — is to be seen in the following
extract from a letter which he wrote to T. P.
Cooke, on May 19, 1829 :

11 1 am sorry to tell you that our friend Ball's
piece proved in my mind a complete failure. Mrs.
Cooke read it, and thought with me, that the part



110 DOUGLAS JERROLD

intended for you was by no means of that description
that could have placed [you] in a prominent point of
view. Jerrold is now about the first piece which
is to be called Black-Eyed Susan ; or, All in the
Downs, an admirable title, and I have strong hopes
that the writing will be equally good, for I think
that he is the most rising Dramatist that we
have."

In that letter we have the first mention of
the play that was entirely to restore the for-
tunes of the Surrey and of Elliston, that was
to bring large sums to T. P. Cooke and to
establish his lasting fame as an actor of sailor
parts. A notable thing about the letter is
that it shows that the title of Black-Eyed
Susan was a happy afterthought, for Elliston
had first written it as Sweet Poll of Plymouth ;
or, All in the Downs, then crossed out the first
four words and written in the now familiar
name.

Two days after Elliston had sent that letter
to Cooke he produced a second play of Jerrold's
in the form of a two-act farce, Law and Lions.
The piece opens with a quarrel between
Mammoth, linkman and would-be naturalist,
and his wife — a Mrs. Malaprop of low life —
in which the latter declares that he must get
rid of his " rubbish " or she will stay with
him no longer. Mammoth exclaims : " Rub-
bish ! I must tell you, Mrs. Mammoth, that
I'll keep what I like — spiders, cockchafers,
black-beetles, white mice, bats, guinea-pigs,
hedgehogs and butterflies — and I'll have all



DOUGLAS JERROLD 111

stuffed, and when you die I'll have you



No, the company of a lifetime is enough for
both parties." After further words, Mrs.
Mammoth says indignantly, " Ignorant fellow,
I leave you to your spiders and hedgehogs
and museum. And now, sir, think your wife
is dead." " A leaf from 4 The Pleasures of
Hope,' " murmurs the husband.

This couple have a poet-lodger, Epic, who
has settled his bill by providing Mammoth
with a monody on the death of a piebald
cockchafer, a welcome to a newly-caught mer-
maid, a congratulatory ode on the birth of
three guinea-pigs, and, as the man of animals
adds to his wife, " the best bit yet — he has
thrown in your epitaph as a makeweight."
Epic, who is desirous of going to the Opera
House masquerade, and does so by borrowing
an officer's uniform which leads to a pretty
tangle, says feelingly that : "A pen is very
well for an amateur author, who has naught
to do but spoil gilt-edge paper and make the
nonsense-tracing engine a toothpick ; but when
poverty transforms it into a fork, it is being
fed with iron, indeed."

There are many lively sallies in the dialogue,
marriage being specially made the subject



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