A Schoolboy Comedian’s Prank (Snippets 40)

Windows into History

Haymarket The Haymarket Theatre, where Mathews made his first London performance, photographed c. 1900.

Charles Mathews (1776-1835) was an English comedian, known chiefly for his impressions, and for playing many different characters in one performance (see also Katie’s Pick of Punch 5.  His memoirs were published posthumously in 1839 by his widow.  Autobiographical writing can often be amusing, but especially so when written by a comedian.  Remembering his school days, Mathews wrote of his cruel treatment at the hands of his teachers, and the moment when a practical joke went wrong:

In due course of time I was sent to school — St. Martin’s Free School was, I believe, the first. In the indiscriminate selection of a first school, there are very few who reflect on its consequent effects in after life. Had I twenty sons, I would never send one to the school of a man fond of punishment…

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