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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Mr. Cooke Gives Mr. Treat Paine the Snub Direct

By William Dunlap (1766–1839)

[From The Life of George Fred. Cooke. 1812.]

SOON after Mr. Cooke had played Richard, when sitting after dinner with Mr. Price and his friend B——, the waiter came up to announce that Mr. Robert Treat Paine and Mr. White had called on him. Cooke knew them not, and looked to his companions. They knew them, and did not want their company. But, while hesitating as to the mode of getting rid of them, the gentlemen marched up and made their appearance. Mr. Robert Treat Paine, with that confident ease which arises from a consciousness of superior worth, or superior talents, or—many other causes, introduced himself and his friend White, and apologized for the visit, by signifying his impatience to see a gentleman whose acting had given him such superlative delight. Cooke was not pleased with this trowel-plastering, and, besides, was put upon his guard by the looks and behavior of his companions. He therefore received the orator with cold civility, pointed to chairs, and called:

“Sam! bring glasses, and let these gentlemen help themselves to wine.”

Mr. White took some wine, but Mr. Robert Treat Paine excused himself, by saying he preferred brandy.

“I thought so,” says Cooke; “Sam! some brandy for the gentleman.” The brandy was brought. The orator proceeded:

“I thought, Mr. Cooke, that I was pretty well read in Shakespeare; that I understood him well, few much better; but, Sir, your Richard convinced me of my ignorance.”

“The stage does sometimes bring the truth home to a man.”

“Ha, ha, ha! very well, Sir, a fair hit—but, Sir, the first beauty I shall mention was, when the attendant informed you of your brother’s death—the manner in which you received the intelligence—and the way in which you gave the passage—

  • “‘Would he were wasted, marrowbones and all.’”
  • Cooke, who was writhing under this praise, roared out in his sharpest and shrillest tone—“Marrowbones and cleavers, by G—d!”

    Robert Treat Paine, Esquire, was for once confounded—the company laughed—and he joined in it, to get rid of it.

    “Pray, Sir, help your silent friend to a glass of wine.”

    “My silent friend—come, Mr. White, your glass. I’ll assure you Mr. Cooke, though Mr. White says little—”

    “He thinks the more, I suppose—may be so!”

    “Mr. White, Sir, is a man of literature, a player, a poet, a dramatic writer; but, Sir, Mr. White is a modest man—”

    “I wish the gentleman could say as much for his friend.”

    “Very well, Sir! That’s very well.—Mr. Cooper is your friend, Mr. Cooke. When he first played here, I wrote a good deal for the theatre then; I gave him a lift; my opinion was of some consequence—but Mr. Cooper’s playing—why—a—to be sure—but you know, Mr. Cooke, what playing is—and I must say, Mr. Cooper’s attempting to represent such characters as—”

    Cooke, who had looked at Price and at Paine alternately, now seized one of the candles, and starting up, held it before Paine, and pointed to the door.

    “Good-night, Sir—good-night!—There’s the door!—Good-night, I say!—there’s the door, there’s the door, Sir!—there’s the door!” and continued repeating “there’s the door,” till the visiting gentlemen were fairly out of the room. Then returning and putting down the candle, he joined in the laugh with his former companions.