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More of Tom & Jerry’s Life in London

April 4, 2012
by the gentle author

Last week, I introduced you to Tom & Jerry and their “Life in London” of 1821 and this week – thanks to a second volume, “The Finish to the Adventures of Tom, Jerry & Logic” published in 1830 – I am able to show more escapades concluding their urban existence. Derived from the real-life adventures of George Cruikshank and his brother Richard, in league with the writer Pierce Egan, the first book had been a sensational success, producing multiple stage versions and innumerable imitations. As Egan put it, “We have been pirated, COPIED, traduced, but, unfortunately, not ENRICHED.”

As before, Tom (the urbanite), Jerry (the out-of-towner) and Logic (their senior academic pal) enjoy the life of men about town, discovering all that London has to offer, losing their trousers at the brothel, getting chased by a kangaroo at the zoo and exploring the subterranean magnificence of tunnels under the Thames  – among many other colourful adventures. The stories are unprecedented for their closely observed accounts of the social life of the poor and, as in the first volume, a visit to the East End is a highlight of the narrative.

Our protagonists set out to visit Half Moon Tap, a public house celebrated for the boxers that gather there, reflecting Pierce Egan’s knowledge of the culture of boxing in the capital as the pre-eminent boxing writer of his day, reporting not merely on the sport itself but writing elaborate portraits of leading boxers. Egan was editor of “Boxiana, or Sketches of Ancient and Modern Pugilism” from 1812 until 1824, and his evocative description of the clientele at the Half Moon Tap (pictured below) speaks of first hand observation – “The wit of the stage, produced by numerous dragsmen taking their morning whets, frequently creates roars of laughter, the slang remarks of the commoners in tossing off their drams, and inquiries of the swells after the movements in the Sporting World, over their glasses of sherry make the thing not only complete, but a fine picture of real life in a peculiar point of view.”

In spite of the success, Egan chose to bring Tom & Jerry, and Logic’s adventures to a close, killing off Tom and Logic with unsentimental glee, yet permitting Jerry to return to the country and enjoy married life there – “Jerry was the picture of contentment, determined to profit by his experience, and to turn to a good account,  for the benefit of himself and his family, the many hair-breadth escapes and dangerous adventures he had met with in his DAY & NIGHT SCENES of his LIFE IN LONDON.” We can only all hope that the same may be said one day of our own experiences of life in the capital.

Life in the East. At the Half Moon Tap – Tom, Jerry & Logic called to the bar by the Benchers. The John Bull Fighter exhibiting his cups and ‘the uncommonly big Gentleman’ highly amused by the originality of the surrounding group.

The Mistakes of  a Night.  The Hotel in an Uproar. Tom, sword in hand backed by a Petticoat – “False Alarm!” but no Ghost.

Logic’s slippery state of Affairs. A Random Hit! and the Upper Works of Old Thatchpate not insured. And the fat Knight enjoying the Scene laughing, like Fun, at Logic’s disaster.

Hawthorn Hall. Jerry at Home: the Enjoyments of a comfortable fireside. Logic all Happiness. Corinthian Tom at his Ease. The Old Folks in their Glory, and the uncommonly big Gentleman’ taking forty winks.

The Hounds at a Standstill. Jerry enticed by the pretty Gipsy Girl to have his fortune told.

Logic’s Upper Storey but no Premises. Jerry’s Return to the Metropolis.

Strong Symptoms of Water on the Brain in the Floating Capital.

The Duchess of Do-Good’s Screen, an attractive subject to Tom & Jerry

How to Finish a Night, to be Up and dressed in the Morning. Tom awake, Jerry caught napping and Logic on the go.

Splendid Jem, once a dashing Hero in the Metropolis, recognised by Tom amongst the Convicts in the Dockyard at Chatham.

Logic visiting his old Acquaintances on board the Fleet, accompanied by Tom & Jerry to play a Match at Rackets with Sir John Blubber.

Jerry up, but not dressed! A miserable Brothel, his Pal bolted with the Togs. One of those unfortunate Dilemmas connected with Life in London, arising from the Effects of Inebriety.

The Burning Shame! Tom & Jerry laughing at the Turn-up between the ‘uncommonly big Gentleman’ and the Hero of the Roundyken under suspicious Circumstances.

The Money Lender. The ‘High-Bred One’ trying it on, to get the best of the Old Screw, to raise the Needful towards Life in London, accompanied by Tom, Jerry & Logic.

Popular Gardens. Tom, Jerry & Logic laughing at the Bustle and Alarm occasioned amongst the Visitors by the Escape of a Kangaroo.

Life on the Water. Symptoms of a Drop too much for the ‘uncommonly big Gentleman.’

Melancholy End of Corinthian Kate! One of those lamentable Examples of a dissipated Life in London.

The Death of Corinthian Tom

Images courtesy © Bishopsgate Institute

You may also like to see the first instalment of

Tom & Jerry’s Life in London

and take a look at these other pictures by George Cruikshank

Joseph Grimaldi, Clown

Jack Sheppard, Thief, Highwayman & Escapologist

The Bloody Romance of the Tower

Henry Mayhew’s Punch & Judy Man

One Response leave one →
  1. Libby Hall permalink
    July 28, 2012

    How have I never before known of these marvellous books of Cruikshank illustrations? What treasures I keep finding in Spitalfields Life!

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