Page:Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.djvu/50

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The eminent comedian, Mr. John Laurence Toole, is a native of the city of London, and was born, as he sometimes jokingly says, 'of poor but dishonest parents, you know,' in the year 1831. He is the son of the late celebrated toastmaster, who distinguished himself as much by his 'Silence, gentlemen, if you please,' and by his good and genial qualities, as his son has since done on the boards.

Mr. Toole received his education at the City of London School, and was removed thence at the usual age to become a clerk in a merchant's office, His taste for the drama appears to have developed itself very early in life, for at this time he became a member of the 'City Histrionic Club,' where he soon became very popular. The appearances of the amateur actor were hailed with applause at several metropolitan literary institutions, where he performed in various characters. His successes at Walworth, Aldersgate-street, Hackney, Crosby Hall, and other places, caused Mr. Toole to lay down his pen and put on the buskin as a professional actor.

His first appearance on the stage of a regular theatre was at Ipswich, on the occasion of a benefit, where— under an assumed name—he played the part of Silvester Daggerwood. This assumption was completely successful. On his return to town, Mr. Toole played as an amateur at the Haymarket, for Mr. F. Webster's benefit, taking the character of Simmons in the 'Spitalfields Weaver.' After this performance he gave up his commercial pursuits, and took to the stage for good.

His debut as a professional was made at the Queen's Theatre, Dublin, on the 2d of October 1852—now twenty years ago. Since that date Mr. Toole's career has been a series of successes. From Dublin, where he was well received, Mr. Toole went to Edinburgh, and thence to Glasgow.

In London his first engagement was at the St. James's Theatre, then