The Murder of Antony Louvel, 1794
by Thomas Waters
I met an old acquaintance of mine, whom I had lost sight of for many years, in the High Street, Camden Town, one spring Sunday evening; but so changed in all respects, that I had some difficulty to persuade myself that it could be really Jack Pendrell who was so heartily shaking hands with and declaring he was so delighted to see me. When I knew Pendrell, he was a pale, moonish, spouting youth—imbued with a strongly-expressed preference for perishing in the flood rather than rot upon the bank; and especially desirous to achieve the tinsel triumphs of the actor. Having, however, stumbled hopelessly in his first amateur step on the stage, he was forced by inexorable destiny to subside into a country grocer’s apprentice. “My life,” I remembered him to have exclaimed, just as he was about to scale the roof of the Reading coach—” My life, Clarke, is blighted forever. But, thank God, the struggle can’t last long. I feel that. The sword will soon cut through the scabbard.”
And now, good heavens! this Byronic young gentleman was the stout, podgy father of seven children in actual presence, with more possibly at home. One, the youngest, he sustained on his left arm; two, seated in a smart child’s carriage, he tugged along by the long handle with his right; the remaining four, with their mamma—a sharp, sloe-eyed, little woman—continuing and concluding the procession! The weather was warm; and the once for ever blighted being—though perspiring profusely, and somewhat blown with his work—appeared to be in excellent health.
“Maria, love,” said Pendrell, with a deprecatory, timid smile, addressing his by much better half, “Maria, love, Mr. Clarke, the famous detective officer we read of in the newspapers, and a very old friend of mine."
“Maria, love”—who at first evidently resented the halt… Read More