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It is not, however, safe to depend on the originality of anything in these early pieces of Hook's. He steals as audaciously as any of his valets, and uses the plunder sometimes with a wonderful want of thought.

Liston's sweetheart for example, à tricky chambermaid, knocks him down with • Every man has just as much vanity as he wants understanding :-Pope's famous saying, to which Pope's history lends no authority.

« The Invisible Girl' soon followed the idea taken from a newspaper account of a new French vaudeville, but cleverly worked out. The fun is, that with a crowd of dramatis personæ, a rapid succession of situations, and even considerable complication of intrigue, no character ever gets out more than yes, no, a but, a hem, or a stillexcept the indefatigable hero Captain Allclack--for whose part it is difficult to believe that any English powers but Jack Bannister's in his heyday could ever have been adequate. This affair had a great run; and no wonder. If anybody could play the Captain now, it would fill the Adelphi for a season.

We are not very sure about the chronology of various farces and melodramas that Hook poured out in hot succession during the next two or three seasons Music Mad' - Darkness Visible

- Trial by Jury'- The Fortress '— Tekeli'—whiclı was more
successful than any of its predecessors, but is now remembered
only by some lines in Byron's early satire-

‘Gods! o'er those boards shall folly rear her head
Where Garrick trod, and Kemble lives to tread ?
On those shall Farce display Buffoonery's mask,

And Hook conceal his heroes in a cask ?'
We might name, we believe, several others equally defunct
besides two that have been revived with approbation within these
few years Exchange no Robbery,' and · Killing no Murder.!
In the former Terry, another intimate associate from that
time forth, had in Cranberry a character excellently adapted to
his saturnine aspect and dry humour; and Liston was not less
happily provided for in Lamotte. In the other, Liston as Apollo
Belvi, and Mathews as Buskin, filled the town with merriment,
such as had hardly perhaps been equalled since the days of Foote.
Almost all these were written before Hook was twenty years of
age. There can be no doubt that if he had gone on he must
have rivalled any farce writer that ever wrote in any language.

In his twentieth year (1808) Theodore also made his first essay as a novelist, under the pseudonyme of Alfred Allendale, Esq. The work (3 vols. 12mo.) was a mere farce, though in a narrative shape—and as flimsy as any he had given to the stage. As if the set object had been to satirize the Minerva Press School, everything, every individual turn in the fortunes of his Musgrave

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is brought about purely and entirely by accident. The sentimental hero elopes with his mistress. A hundred miles down the North road they stop for a quarter of an hour-order dinner, and stroll into the garden. Behold, the dreaded rival happens to be lodging here-he is lounging in the garden at this moment. The whole plan is baulked. Some time afterwards they elope again—and reach Gretna Green in safety.

Cruel mothers---chattering friends and flattering rivals-all were distanced-the game was run down, he was in at the death, and the brush was his own.

False delicacy at Gretna is exploded: a woman, when she goes into Lanchester's, is known to want millinery (people say something more); when she lounges at Gray's she is understood to stand in need of trinkets ; when she stops at Gattie's she wants complexion; and when she goes to Gretna she wants a husband !

That being the case, not to talk of marriage is as absurdly outré as not to call for supper, and therefore Musgrave, with a sly look at his blushing bride, ordered a couple of roasted fowls and a parson to be ready immediately. The waiter, perfect in his part, stepped over to the chandler's shop, hired the divine, and at half-past ten the hymeneal rites were to be solemnized.'- vol. i. p. 84.

The fowls are put to the fire--the blacksmith appears—the ceremony has just reached the essential point, when a chaise dashes up to the door-out spring the heroine's mother and the rival again.—Farther on, the hero comes late at night to an inn, and is put into a double-bedded room, in which the rival happens to be deposited, fast asleep. The rival gets up in the morning before the hero awakes, cụts his thumb in shaving, walks out, sees a creditor, jumps on the top of a passing stage-coach, and vanishes. The hero is supposed to have murdered him--the towel is bloody -he must have contrived to bury the body; he is tried, convicted, condemned;

he escapes-an accident brings a constable to the cottage where he is sheltered-he is recaptured—pinioned

-mounts the drop;-he is in the act of speaking his last speech, when up dashes another post-chaise containing the rival, who had happened to see the trial just the morning before in an old newspaper. And so on through three volumes. But the oddest part of the whole is that Hook himself, sixteen years afterwards, thought it worth while to recast precisely the same absurd fable, even using a great deal of the language, in his Sayings and Doingsseries first, vol. iii. Merton. Of course the general execution of that tale is vastly, superior to the original edition; but some of, all things considered, its most remarkable passages are transcribed almost literatim. For instance, * Self-opinionated, with complete self-possession, a sarcastic sneer,

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and a bewitching smile, a good person, and many accomplishments, this young woman was known as a genius. She was a connoisseur in painting, an amateur in music, a perfect dancer, an exquisite performer on the piano, and a Billington in singing. She wrote tales and poems, published on wove paper with broad margins in Bond-street, made designs for furniture, dressed in the most outré costume to set fashions, and, in short, was a fine, dashing, animated girl.-'But with all this blaze of notoriety, did anybody esteem her particularly? Was there any one man upon earth who on his pillow could say “My God! what an angel is Fanny Wilding!” Had she ever refused an offer of marriage ? No! for nobody ever had made her one. She was like a fine firework, entertaining to look at, but dangerous to come too near to; her bouncing and cracking in the open air gave a lustre to surrounding objects, but there was not a human being who could be tempted to take the exhibition into his own house.'-vol. i. pp. 231, 232.

But, above all, in the early novel we read as follows:

• Are not the brightest talents made nothing worth by perpetual intoxication? Is not the statesman degraded, and the wit rendered contemptible, by a constant and habitual use of wine ? Have we not examples before us, where every carthly qualification is marred by it, and where poverty and ignominy are the reward of exertions weakened by its influence, which, used with sobriety and temperance, would deserve, and might have received, the meed of honour and the wreath of fame?'-vol. i. p. 174.

And the saine is repeated in the work of 1824! Who that knew him will not echo it in 1843?

Mr. Allendale's novel, we conclude, excited little or no attention, and remained unacknowledged. We never heard of it till very lately. It is worthless, except that in the filling up occasionally we have glimpses of the author's early habits and associations, such as he was in no danger of recalling from oblivion in the days of · Sayings and Doings.' When the hero fell in love, for example, • Bond Street lounges became a bore to him—he sickened at the notion of a jollification under the Piazza--the charins of the pretty pastrycooks at Spring Gardens had lost their piquancy.' À viscountess's fête at Wimbledon has all the appearance of having been sketched after a lark at Vauxhall with a bevy of singing women. In the recast, it is right to say, he omitted various gross indecencies, some rude personalities, and a very irreverent motto.

But the real farce at this time was Theodore's own life. It was one uninterrupted succession of boisterous buffooneries, especially of what the future lexicographer might almost be pardoned for supposing to have been called after him-Hoaxes. Of these his true Sayings and Doings,' his own talk inter pocula was the only adequate memorial. We may catch some

outlines

outlines in his Gurney and Daly—but even his pen was too slow and cumbrous a machine for the vital reproduction of such scenes. They are nothing without the commentary of that bright eye--the deep gurgling glee of his voice—the electrical felicity of his pantomime-for in truth he was as great an actor as could have been produced by rolling up Liston and Terry and Mathews into one. : So told, no mirth in this world ever surpassed the fascination of these early mountebankeries. We have seen austere judges, venerable prelates, grand lords, and superfine ladies, all alike overwhelmed and convulsed as he went over the minutest details of such an episode as that, for example, of his and Mathews, as they were rowing to Richmond, being suddenly bitten by the sight of a placard' at the foot of a Barnes garden, -'Nobody permitted to land here — offenders prosecuted with the utmost rigour of law'-their instant disembarkation on the forbidden paradise---the fishing-line converted into a surveyor's measuring-tape—their solemn pacing to and fro on the beautiful lawn-Hook the surveyor, with his book and pencil in hand— Mathews the clerk, with the cord and walking-stick, both soon pinned into the exquisite turf—the opening 'of the parlour-window, and fiery approach of the napkined alderman -the comedians' cool, indifferent reception of him and his indignant inquiries—the gradual announcement of their being the agents of the Canal Company, settling where the new cut is to cross the old gentleman's pleasaunce-his alarm and horror, which call forth the unaffected regrets and commiserations of the unfortunate officials, who are never more pained than with such a duty'—the alderman's suggestion that they had better walk in and talk the matter over-their anxious examination of watches, and reluctant admission that they might spare a quarter of an hour· but alas! no use, they fear, none whatever'—the entry of the dining-room--the turkey just served--the pressing invitation to taste a morsel--the excellent dinner--the fine old madeira- the bottle of pink champagne, "a present from my lord mayor' the discussion of half-a-dozen of claret and of the projected branch of the canal—the city knight's arguments getting snore and more weighty- Really this business must be reconsidered One bottle more, dear gentlemen'-till at last it is getting dark --they are eight miles from Westminster Bridge-Hook bursts out into song, and narrates in extempore verse the whole transaction, winding up with

* And we greatly approve of your fare,

Your cellar 's as prime as your cook ;
And this clerk here is Mathews the player,
And I'm-Mr. Theodore Hook:'=(Exeunt.)

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That name was already enough to put any wig in Guildhall out of curl. But the crown and consummation of all this work was the Berners Street Hoax,' in 1809. It, too, is shadowed in Gilbert Gurney,' but very faintly-and no one need hope to supply the deficiency. It is recorded that in walking down that street one day his companion called his attention to the particularly neat and modest appearance of a house, the residence, as appeared from the door-plate, of some decent shopkeeper's widow. •I'll lay you a guinea,' said Theodore, that in one week that nice modest dwelling shall be the most famous in all London.' The bet was taken in the course of four or five days Hook had written and despatched one thousand letters, conveying orders to tradesmen of every sort within the bills of mortality, all to be executed on one particular day, and as nearly as possible at one fixed hour. From waggons of coals and potatoes (says Gurney) to books, prints, feathers, ices, jellies, and cranberry tarts-nothing in any way whatever available to any human being but was commanded from scores of rival dealers scattered over our 'province of bricks, from Wapping to Lambeth, from Whitechapel to Paddington. In 1809 Oxford Road was not approachable either from Westminster, or Mayfair, or from the City, otherwise than through a complicated series of lanes. It may be feebly and afar off guessed what the crash and jam and tumult of that day was. Hook had provided himself with a lodging nearly opposite the fated No. —; and there, with a couple of trusty allies, he watched the development of the midday melodrame. But some of the dramatis persona were seldom if ever alluded to in later times. He had no objection to bodying forth the arrival of the lord mayor and his chaplain, invited to take the deathbed confession of a peculating common councilman; but he would rather have buried in oblivion that precisely the same sort of liberty was taken with the Governor of the Bank, the chairman of the East India Company, a lord chief justice, a cabinet minister,--above all, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. They all obeyed the summons-every pious and patriotic feeling had been most movingly appealed to; we are not sure that they all reached Berners Street: but the Duke of York's military punctuality and crimson liveries brought him to the point of attack before the poor widow's astonishment had risen to terror and despair. Perhaps no assassination, no conspiracy, no royal demise or ministerial revolution of recent times, was a greater godsend to the newspapers than this audacious piece of mischief. In Hook's own theatrical world he was instantly suspected, but no sign escaped either him or his confidants. The affair

was

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