« AnteriorContinuar »
The consequence is that he cannot appear, or appears only to stagger, and expose himself, and be hissed from the stage. Thus he loses his popularity, and the loss affects his spirits, and the lowness of spirits drives him to brandy. And this is the circle in which his life is past. In 1807, we find him journalizing in Appleby goal, for some months.
In 1810, after a shocking course of the most extravagant intemperance, and forgetting his engagement with Mr. Harris, he enters into a new one with the manager of the New York theatre, and crosses the Atlantic.
The admiration with which he was received in America was nothing short of enthusiasm.
• Such was the eagerness to get seats, that sturdy blackguards were paid from six to ten dollars for securing a box; and to make sure of the prize, the stone steps in front of the theatre were occupied all night, that the place nearest the door might be secured in readi. ness for its opening at ten o'clock the next day.
« This was carried so far, that I have seen men sitting at the theatre door, eating their dinner, who had taken their post on Sunday morning, with a determination of remaining there all day on Sunday, and all Sunday night, to be ready for the opening of the door on Monday morning. V. II. pp. 255, 256.
But nothing could keep Cooke long from the bottle. One or two scenes more, and we have done. While at New York, he was entertained very hospitably in the house of Mr. Price, one of the managers.' Late one night, Cooke was drunk and noisy, and Mr. P. begged him to go to bed; he apparently complied' but when the household were all at rest,
came down from his chamber, unlock'd the street-door, and sallied out in the face of a west wind of more than Russian coldness.' The next morning,
• After one of the most inclement nights of one of the coldest of our winters, when our streets were choked with ice and snow, a little girl came to the manager's office at the theatre with a note scarcely legible, running thus« Dear Dunlap, send me one hundred dollars.
6 G. F. COOKE.' " I asked the child of whom she got the paper she had given me?'
of the gentleman, Sir.'
Where is he?', " At our house.' • Where is that?'
In Reed-street, behind the Hospital.' • When did this gentleman come to your
house? • Last night, Sir, almost morning-mother is sick, Sir, and I was sitting up with her, and a negro and a watchman brought the gen• tleman to our house and knocked, and we knew the watchman; and Vol. X.
so mother let the gentleman come in and sit by the fire- he didn't * want to come in at first, but said when he was at the door,' let me • lay down here and die!" V. II. p. 200.
Mr. D. accompanied the girl home.
! We entered a small wooden building in Reed-street. The room was dark, and appeared the more so, owing to the transition from the glare of snow in the streets. I saw nothing distinctly for the first moment, and only perceived that the place was full of people. I soon found that they were the neighbours, brought in to gaze at the strange crazy gentleman; and the sheriff's Officers distraining for the rent on the furniture of the sick widow who occupied the house
« The bed of the sick woman filled one corner of the room, surrounded by curtains--Sheriff's officers, a table, with pen, ink, and inventory,' occupied another portion-a motley groupe, of whom Cooke was one, hid the fire-place from view, and the remainder of the apartment was filled by cartmen, watchmen, women, and children.
• When I recognized Cooke, he had turned from the fire, and his eye was on me with an expression of shame and chagrin at being found in such a situation. His skin and eyes were red, his linen dirty, his hair wildly pointing in every direction from his " distracted globe,” and over his knee was spread an infant's bib, or something else, with which, having lost his pocket handkerchief, he wiped incessantly his moistened visage. After a wild stare at me, he changed from the first expression of his countenance, and welcomed me. He asked me why I had come? I replied, that I had received his note, and brought him the money he had required. I sat down by him, and after a few incoherent sentences of complaint, and intreaty that I would not leave him, he burst into tears. Í soothed him, and replied to his repeated intreaties of don't leave me,” by promises of remaining with him, but told him we must leave that place. He agreed, but added, with vehemence, “ Not back to his house.No, never ! never !!"-Which apparent resolution he confirmed, with vehement and reiterated oaths.
• After giving a five dollar Rote to the child who guided me to him, and making some other presents to members of the family, Mr. Cooke agreed to go to Bryden's in a sleigh, which I had previously sent for. He rose from his chair, his step was not steady, and some of the crowd offered to assist him; but he put them by with his hand, in a style of courtly contempt. He accepted my arm, but before we reached the door, stopped to wipe his face, and having lost the piece of dirty linen he had before used, he made inquiry for his handkerchief-it was not to be found ; and I, fearing a change in his determination, and somewhat impatient of my own situation, offered him a white handkerchief, which I had put in my pocket but a few minutes before receiving his note, and which, after seeing the filthy rag he had been using, and displaying on his knee before the fire, I did not hesitate to present to him ; but he put it aside with the most princely motion, saying, “A gentleman cannot accept a handkerchief that has been used."; V. II.
201—206. At another time, the author calling upon him finds him in bed, and sick with the effects of a yesterday's debauch. There are few states more contemptible or more pitiable than that in which Cooke, the great Cooke,' was lying.
• I went up to see him, and found him exhausted and frightened. He felt wretchedly, and of course repented. I pitied him He reprobated his conduct, called himself a wretch, and said he should die in the miserable manner in which death had threatened him a few hours before. I told him that it was in his power to remedy the evil, but he answered that it was too late, and burst into tears.'
On another occasion,
• It is impossible to conceive any thing more vile, pitiable, and wretched, than such a man, in such a situation. His madness was not sufficient to silence his conscience; and, at variance with him. self and all mankind, he, while retiring to his thorny pillow, continued incessantly to utter invectives and execrations. The idea of being compared to Cooper, still haunted him :-" I that have played with John that have played against him!—M'll leave them to worship their wooden god! He suits them. John is an actor! He is my superior—though they did not think so in London-I acknow.. ledge it-and now !—No, I'll never play at New York again !_I must have one night's rest at Amboy-I know you want to persuade me to play at New York, but I won't-No!" ». 'V. II.
249. Two instances of the impudence with which he could insult people when in liquor, and the cowardice with which he i backed out,' when he met 'with unexpected opposition--and no more. Cooke and his friend Cooper were intruded upon at an inn by a couple of strangers, Messrs. A. and B. They flattered Cooke, ordered wine for him, and drank with him. After a time, the actor grew angry with them.
• Mr. A. paced the room_Cooper sat with his hat on upon a corner of the table--Mr. B. placed himself with his hat on at the table opposite Cooke, who, encouraged by the passive courage with · which the Liverpool men had received his friend Tom's speech, assumed the hero, and Mr. B. having addressed him, he in his sharp discordant tone cries out,
• Do you know, Sir, who you are speaking to?" • Yes, says B. very composedly.
• Then, Sir, I would have you know that no man with his hat on talks to George Frederick Cooke!'
• With the same sturdy indifference the other replied, “ Yet I talk to you
my hat on, and shall continue to do so.”. ( Here the hero was in a diłemma ; and müst either go forward
. This was
by knocking off his adversary's hat, which he knew would procure himself a beating, or back out and save his skin, which did not appear very easy, without giving up his assumed heroics very scurvily. În this distressing quandary his eye sought Cooper, and happily espied the hat on his head; he then, putting his hand above his eyes as if to assist his sight and looking at Cooper, cries, • Tom, have you got your hat on?'
Yes.' • Ah, then all's very well ; it's all very well if Tom has got his hat on. Vol. II. pp. 150, 151.
To get rid of an acquaintance contracted in an hour of drunkenness, Cooke once gave a low wretch, a conjuror and ventriloquist £50. This fellow was afterwards in America, at the same time that Cooke was, and one evening demanded to see him. Cooke gave orders that he should not be admitted, but the man was drunk, and would not be kept out.
• The figure which presented itself, was enormously broad across the shoulders, with head and limbs, but not height, in proportion.
“ Monsieur Tonson come again,” to the offended dignity of the tragic hero, and he demanded his business, concluding with “ Who are you, Sir?” in his sharpest key:
• Why, Mr. Cooke, don't you know me?'
• B-, who by this time, knew the humours of George Frederick, says, “Ó, Couke, if the gentleman is an old acquaintance, ask him to sit down." ' I know nothing of him, Sir!
“ Cooke, don't deny an old acquaintance-its Mr. IR
I don't know him, Sir-walk out of the room, Sir! Fellow, get o out of my room !
Why, Mr. Cooke, don't you remember when we were so merry together, and the next day you would not know me? but you lent me fifty pounds; and I'm come to shake hands with you in a strange country, and give you the money again.' • I know you not! begone, fellow!'
• You must remember, Mr. Cooke, lending me fifty pounds at < Whitehaven.'
• Avaunt ! cried Cooke, in a voice of almost superhuman strength and sharpness, I never loaned you any thing? Then sinking it to a whisper, - 1 might have given you a trifle, in chari• ty, to relieve you.' • I despise your charity-here's the money I borrowed of you.'
Begone, I say! Fellow, you are a thief! a public robber!. A swindler! taking money under false pretences ! Get out of the room-I don't know you, fellow-out of the room or I'll kick you out!'
• Price seeing Cooke in extreme wrath preparing to advance upon
and seeing in R- a solid mass of earthly material of Hercalean texture, and immoveable weight, wished to preserve the veteran from the danger of storming such a fortress, and getting between them undertook to persuade the conjuror to vanish Cooke very readily gave up the post of danger and honour to Price, and valiantly waited the event. V. II. pp. 191, 192.
At length Mr. Price was provoked to strike the fellow; but he
• Stood unmoved and unchanged, until feeling something trickle down his face, and finding it blood, he exclaimed, “ I'll make you pay for this,” and with all the slight o'foot he possessed, the coujuror ran to raise the watch.
• Cooke stood at a distance, looking rather wild.' pp. 194,
• The conjuror immediately charged the watch to take Price, who had assaulted him ; but B. who was known to the watchmen, told them it was all nonsense, and would not do ; that R had intruded upon a gentleman's private apartment, and had not got as much as he deserved.
! This arouzed the ire of R. against B, who soon tried his hand upon the immoveable, and a scuffle and noise ensued, which reached the ears of the man of valour above stairs. 6 Sam! What's that?'
They are fighting, Sir, on the stairs.' • Sam-Sam- It's very late-help me off with my clothes Sam---PL
go to bed.
. With the help of Sam, our hero undressed himself in less time than he had done for years; and B. having seen the visitors fairly out of the house, returned to Cooke's apartment, and found him stripped to his drawers.
• Why, Mr. Cooke-Mr. Cooke—are you sitting quietly here, • while Price is fighting for you below with that conjuring scoun. drel !
• Where is the scoundrel !--Sam—why are you so slow-give me . my boots-never mind the pantaloons-never mind the stockings my
boots—where is the scoundrel ?' • He is waiting for you in the gallery, and I have promised that you shall come down and fight him.'
My coat, Sam !--come, Sir-let me find the blackguard.'
The reader need not be informed that Mr. Cooke died in consequence of his intemperance.
On the whole, Mr. Dunlap has produced a very amusing and instructive book. It is written in a lively gossipping manner, and, we think, whoever begins it will not easily lay it down till he comes to the end.
• To conclude. All those high and rare natural endowments,