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How at Edgehill, at Newbury, and Marston Moor,
One bright Sabbath morn in the fall of the year
But hark! and there beats on the turf of the street
“Men of Hadley! why sit ye in quiet here?
And while we wield the sword, let them earnestly pray!"
The records of Hadley have little to say
THE CAREER OF A JOKER. F fine personal qualities, as a handsome fig- to work, and produced “The Soldier's Return;
ure and agreeable countenance, quick intelor, What can Beauty do ?” a comic opera, in ligence, and brilliant wit, with an unfailing flow two acts, first represented at Drury Lane in of animal spirits, were alone able to secure hap- 1805. Its success was such as to stimulate him piness, THEODORE Hook ought to have been to further efforts, and at the age of sixteen he among the happiest and most fortunate of man- became a successful dramatist and song-writer, kind, for he possessed them all. We know, how the pet of the coulisses and green-room, to which ever, that something more is needed-above all, he had a free entrée, and the recipient of a handconscientiousness, sense of duty, or at least com- some income, rarely procurable by a man's permon prudence-to make life a true success. No sonal exertions at so early an age. The pieces man could more thoroughly illustrate the vanity written by him at this period comprise—“Catch of all gifts where this is wanting than Theodore Him who Can;" “The Invisible Girl;” “Tekeli, Hook.
or the Siege of Mongratz;" “Killing no MurHis early days were spent in an atmosphere der,” and others; but few, if any, of these now which naturally tended to foster and develop his keep possession of the stage. peculiar genius. His father was a favorite mu- As may have been expected, the more solid sical composer, whose house was the resort of branches of education seem to have been little all the popular characters of the day-musical, attended to in the case of Hook. The first school theatrical, and otherwise. Theodore was found to which he was sent was a "seminary for to have an exquisite ear for music, and soon be- young gentlemen'in Soho Square, where, by his came noted among his father's coteries as a first- own account, he used regularly to play the trurate singer and player on the piano-forte. One ant, amusing himself by wandering about the night he astonished the old gentleman by sing- streets, and devising all sorts of excuses to acing and accompanying on the instrument two count to his teacher for his absence. On one songs, one serious and the other comic, which occasion, unfortunately for him, he had remained the latter had never heard before. On inquiry, at home, asserting to his parents that a general they turned out to be original compositions, both holiday had been granted to the scholars. His as regarded words and music. Here an assist- brother on the same day, which happened to be ant was unexpectedly discovered, by the elder the rejoicing for the peace of Amiens, was passHook, to aid him in his labors, as hitherto he ing Theodore's school, and seeing it open, was had always been obliged to employ the services induced to go in and make inquiries, from which of some poetaster to furnish the libretto of his he learned that the young vagabond had not musical pieces. Thus encouraged Theodore set I shown face there for the last three weeks. The result was his being locked up for the remainder | by this unexpected address, and the eyes of the of the day in the garret, and debarred from see- whole audience being turned on them, may be ing the illuminations and fire-works in the even- more readily imagined than described, and they ing. From this academy he was sent to a school fled from the house in dismay. in Cambridgeshire, and afterward to Harrow, In the days of which we write, the abstraction where he had Lord Byron and Sir Robert Peel of pump-handles and street-knockers was a fafor his companions, but made little progress in vorite amusement of the young blades abont classic learning, study and application being to town, some of whom prided themselves not a lithim a most irksome drudgery. On the death tle in forming a museum of these trophies. Hook of his step-mother in 1802, he was prematurely was behind no one in such freaks. One of them withdrawn from school, and from this period was the carrying off the figure of a Highlander, remained at home, in the enjoyment of the con- as large as life, from the door of a tobacconist, genial atmosphere of his father's house, and the wrapping it up in a cloak, and tumbling it into reputation and more solid advantages which the a hackney-coach as “a friend, a very respectabrilliancy of his talents enabled him to secure. ble' man, but a little tipsy," with a request to
Hook's turn for quizzing and practical jokes the coachman to drive on. The following anecwas very early displayed, and innumerable anecdote is related in the “Ingoldsby Legends," but dotes are recorded of this propensity. They are will well bear repetition. On the occasion of connected chiefly with the theatre, to which his the trial of Lord Melville, Hook had gone with occupations constantly led him, and where he a friend to Westminster Hall to witness the prowas the soul and mirth-inspirer of the motley ceedings. As the peers began to enter, a simcommunity behind the scenes. On one occa- ple-looking lady from the country touched his sion he nearly frightened Dowton, the comedian, arm, and said : out of his wits, by walking up to him instead of “I beg your pardon, Sir, but pray who are the proper personator of the part, and delivering those gentlemen in red now coming in ?” a letter. On another, when Sheridan was con- “Those, ma'am," he replied, “ are the barons testing the seat for Westminster, the cry of of England; in these cases, the junior peers al“Sheridan forever!" was heard by the aston- ways come first.” ished audience proceeding apparently from the “Thank you, Sir, much obliged to you. evil spirit in the “Wood-Demon," and produc- Louisa, my dear (turning to her daughter, who ing one of those incongruous effects which are accompanied her), tell Jane these are the barons so much relied on for raising a laugh in panto- of England; and the juniors (that's the younmime or burlesque.
gest, you know) always goes first. Tell her to A mischievous trick of another kind, in which be sure and remember that when we get home.” he was aided by Liston, may also be mentioned. “Dear me, ma," said Louisa, “can that genA young gentleman of Hook's acquaintance had tleman be one of the youngest ? I am sure he a great desire to witness a play, and also escort looks very old.” a fair cousin thither, but was terrified lest his This naïveté held out an irresistible temptagoing to a theatre should come to the knowledge tion to Theodore, who, on the old lady pointing of his father, a rigid Presbyterian, who held such to the bishops, who came next in order, with places in abhorrence. He communicated his scarlet and lawn sleeves orer their doctors' difficulties to his gay friend. “Never mind the robes, and asking, “What gentlemen are those ?" governor, my dear fellow," was the reply; “trust replied: “Gentlemen, ma'am! these are not to me; I'll arrange every thing-get you a couple gentlemen; these are ladies, elderly ladies--the of orders, secure places—front row; and no- dowager-peeresses in their own right." body need know any thing about it.” The tick- His interrogator looked at him rather susets were procured, and received with great thank- piciously, as if to find out whether or not he fulness by Mr. B-, who started with his rela- was quizzing her; but reassured by the impertive for the play-house, and the pair soon found turbable air of gravity with which her glance themselves absorbed in an ecstasy of delight in was met, turned round again to her daughter witnessing the drolleries of Liston. But what and whispered: “Louisa, dear, the gentleman was their confusion when the comedian, advanc- says that these are elderly ladies and dowagering to the foot-lights during a burst of laughter peeresses in their own right; tell Jane not to at one of his performances, looked round the forget that." dress-circle with a mock-offended air, and ex- Shortly afterward her attention was drawn to claimed:
the Speaker of the House of Commons, with his “I don't understand this conduct, ladies and richly-embroidered robes. “Pray, Sir," she gentlemen! I am not accustomed to be laughed exclaimed, “who is that fine-looking person at ; I can't imagine what you can see ridiculous opposite ?” in me; why, I declare” (pointing at the centre box " That, ma'am, is Cardinal Wolsey." with his finger), “there's Harry B- , too, “No, Sir!" was the angry rejoinder, and his cousin Martha J- ; what business knows a good deal better than that; Cardinal have they to come here and laugh at me, I should Wolsey has been dead and buried these many like to know? I'll go and tell his father, and years." hear what he thinks of it!"
“No such thing, my dear madam," replied The consternation caused to the truant couple Hook, with the most extraordinary sang froid;
" it has indeed been so reported in the country, / worse than dine there. He then alighted, rang but without the least foundation in truth; in fact, the bell, and on being admitted to the presence these rascally newspapers will say any thing!” of the worthy old citizen, said that he had often
The good lady looked thunder-struck, opened heard his name, which was celebrated throughher eyes and mouth to their widest compass, out the civilized world, and that being in the and then, unable to say another word, or re- neighborhood, he could not resist the temptamain longer on the spot, hurried off with a tion of calling and making the acquaintance of daughter in each hand, leaving the mischievous so distinguished a public character. The good wag and his friend to enjoy the joke.
man was quite tickled with the compliment; A well-known story is told of Hook and pressed his admirer and friend to stay dinner, Terry the actor making their way into a gentle which was just ready;'and a most jorial afterman's house with whom they had no acquaint- noon was spent, though on the way home the ance whatever, but the appetizing steams issuing gig containing Hook and his companion was from whose area gave indications of a glorious smashed to pieces by the refractory horse, and feast being in the course of preparation. The the two occupants had a narrow escape of their anecdote is perfectly true, though the real scene lives. Another of his adventures, in which he of the adventure was not, as commonly repre- seems to have taken his cue from Tony Lumpsented, a burban villa on the banks of the kin, was driving up to an old gentleman's house, Thames, but a town-mansion somewhere in the ordering the servant who appeared to take his neighborhood of Soho Square. Hook caught at mare to the stable and rub her down well, and the idea suggested by Terry, that he should like then proceeding to the parlor stretched himself to make one of so jovial a party; and arranging at full length on the sofa and called for a glass with his friend that he should call for him there of brandy and water. On the master of the that evening at ten o'clock, hurried up the steps, house making his appearance and inquiring the gave a brisk rap with the knocker, and was at business of his visitor, Hook became more voonce admitted to the drawing-room. The room ciferous than ever, declared that he had never being full, no notice was taken of him at first, before met with such treatment in any inn, or and before the host discovered him, he had al- from any landlord, and ended by saying that ready made his way to the hearts of a knot of his host must be drunk, and he should certainly guests by his sallies of drollery. The master feel it his duty to report the circumstance to the of the house at last perceiving a stranger, went bench. The old gentleman was confounded, up and politely begged his name, as he felt but in a short time Hook pretended to discover rather at a loss. Hook replied with a perfect his blunder of having taken the house for an torrent of volubility, but expressed in the suavest inn, and made ten thousand apologies, adding and most fascinating terms, and effectually pre- that he had been induced to commit the mistake venting any interruption to his discourse. An by seeing over the entrance-gate a large vase of explanation at last came out, that he had mis- flowers, which, he imagined, indicated the sign taken both the house and the hour at which he of the Flower-pot. This said vase happened to ought to have dined with a friend. The old be cherished by its owner with special complagentleman's civility then could not allow him cency as a most unique and chaste ornament, to depart, as his friend's dinner-hour must now and here it was degraded to the level of a pot. be long past, and a guest with such a flow of house sign! spirits must prove a most agreeable acquisition Another story is told of Hook, in which he to his own table. Hook professed great reluct- improved on a well-known device related of ance to trespass thus on the hospitality of a per- Sheridan. Getting into a hackney-coach one fect stranger, but was induced, seemingly with day, and being unable to pay the fare, he bemuch difficulty, to remain and partake of din- thought himself of the plan adopted by the celner. So delightful a companion and so droll a ebrated wit just mentioned on a similar occasion, fellow had never been met before, and so much and hailed a friend whom he observed passing mirth and jollity had never till now enlivened along the street. He made him get into the the mansion. At ten o'clock Mr. Terry was carriage beside him, but on comparing notes he announced, and Hook, who had seated himself found his companion equally devoid of cash as at the piano-forte, in the performance of one of himself, and it was necessary to think of some his famous extemporaneous effusions, brought other expedient. Presently they approached his song to a close as follows:
the house of a celebrated surgeon. Hook alight“I am very much pleased with your fare;
ed, rushed to the door, and exclaimed hurriedly Your cellar's as prime as your cook;
to the servant who opened it: “Is Mr. My friend's Mr. Terry the player,
home? I must see him immediately. For And I'm Mr. Theodore Hook!"
God's sake do not lose an instant!" Ushered Nor was this by any means the only enter- into the consulting-room, he exclaimed wildly tainment of the kind which his assurance and to the surgeon, farcical powers enabled him to obtain. Passing “Thank Heaven! Pardon my incoherence, one day in a gig with a friend by the villa of a Sir; make allowance for the feelings of a husi'ctired chronometer-maker, he suddenly reined band, perhaps a father-your attendance, Sir, is up, remarked to his friend what a comfortable instantly required — instantly — by Mrs. little box that was, and that they might do For mercy's sake, Sir, be off!”.
"I'll be on my way immediately,” replied the among others, of the reckless selection, too often medical man. “I have only to get my instru- displayed in those days, in the choice of public ments and step into my carriage.'
officials. What might have been expected fol“Don't wait for your carriage," cried the lowed. The treasurer was about as fitted by pseudo-distressed parent; "get into mine, which nature for discharging the duties of such an ofis waiting at the door."
fice as a clown, in a pantomime, and the five Esculapius readily complied, was hurried into years spent by him in the island were little more the coach, and conveyed in a trice to the res- than a round of merriment and festivities. An idence of an aged spinster, whose indignation investigation of his accounts at last took place, and horror at the purport of his visit was beyond and a large deficit, ultimately fixed at about all bounds. The poor man was glad to beat a $60,000, was discovered. There seems no reaspeedy retreat; but the fury of the old maiden son for believing that Hook had been guilty of lady was not all he was destined to undergo, as the least embezzlement or mal-appropriation of the hackney-coachman kept hold of him, and the Government funds; but there can be no mulcted him in the full amount of the fare which doubt that his negligence in regard to his duties Hook ought to have paid.
was most reprehensible, trusting their performAll these and similar escapades, however, ance entirely to a deputy, who committed suicide were fairly eclipsed by the famous Berners Street about the time of the inquiry being instituted. hoax, which created such a sensation in London A criminal charge was made out against the unin 1809. By dispatching several thousands of fortunate accountant-general, and in 1818 he letters to innumerable quarters he completely was sent home under arrest. His buoyancy of blocked up the entrances to the street, by an as spirits, however, never failed him, and meeting semblage of the most heterogeneous kind. The at St. Helena one of his old friends, who asked parties written to had been requested to call on him if he was going home for his health, he rea certain day at the house of a lady residing at plied, “Yes, I believe there's something wrong No. 54 Berners Street, against whom Hook and with the chest!" one or two of his friends had conceived a grudge. On landing in England it was found that there So successful was the trick that nearly all obey- was no ground for a criminal action against him, ed the summons. Coal-wagons heavily laden, but that, as responsible for the acts of his deputy,
carts of upholstery, vans with pianos and other his person and estate were amenable to civil · articles, wedding and funeral coaches, all rum- proceedings. The whole of his property in the
bled through, and filled up the adjoining streets Mauritius and elsewhere was accordingly conand lanes; sweeps assembled with the imple- fiscated, and he underwent a long confinement, ments of their trade; tailors with clothes that first in a sponging-house in Shire Lane, and had been ordered; pastry-cooks with wedding- afterward in the King's Bench Prison. Thrown cakes; undertakers with coffins; fish-mongers again on his own resources, he produced several with cod-fishes, and butchers with legs of mut- dramatic pieces, which achieved a respectable ton. There were surgeons with their instru- amount of success. The great event, however, ments; lawyers with their papers and parch- at this period of his life, was his becoming edments; and clergymen with their books of de- itor of the John Bull newspaper, which, under votion. Such a Babel was never heard before his management, made itself conspicuous by its in London; and, to complete the business, who stinging and too often scurrilous attacks on the should drive up but the lord mayor in his state Whig party. An inexhaustible fund of metrical carriage, the governor of the Bank of England, lampoon and satire was ever at the command the chairman of the East India Company, and of its conductor, and he certainly dealt out his even a scion of royalty itself in the person of sarcasm with no sparing hand. Some of the the Duke of Gloucester. Hook and his confed. most famous of his effusions were directed against erates were meantime enjoying the fun from a Queen Caroline and her party at the time of the window in the neighborhood, but the consterna- celebrated trial. “Whyttington and his Catte,” tion occasioned to the poor lady who had been the “Hunting of the Hare,” and “Mrs. Mugmade the victim of the jest was nearly becoming gins's Visit to the Queen," were reckoned in too serious a matter. He never avowed him- their day by the Tories as uncommonly smart self as the originator of this trick, though there things. is no doubt of his being the prime actor in it. Have you been to Brandenburgh? heigh! ma'am, ho! It was made the subject of a solemn investiga- ma'am; tion by many of the parties who had been duped, oh yes! I have been,
ma'am, to visit the queen, ma'am,
Have you been to Brandenburgh! ho! but so carefully had the precautions been taken
With the rest of the gallantee show. to avoid detection that the inquiry proved entire- What did you see, ma'am ? heigh! ma'am, ho! ma'am, ly fruitless.
What did you see, ma'am! ho! In 1813 Hook received the appointment, with We saw a great dame, with a face as red as flame,
And a character spotless as gnow. a salary of $10,000 a year, of accountant-general and treasurer of the Mauritius, an office which “Mrs. Muggins's Visit” was a satire on one would have supposed to be the very antip- Queen Caroline's drawing-room, at Brandenodes to all his capacities and predilections. How burgh House, and is said to be a very good it came to be conferred on him does not clearly specimen of Hook's style in improvisation-an appear ; but it exhibits a memorable instance, l art which he possessed in a wonderful degree.