Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pocock, Isaac
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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pocock, Isaac

POCOCK, ISAAC (1782-1835), painter and dramatist, born in Bristol on 2 March 1782, was eldest son of Nicholas Pocock [q. v.], marine painter, by Ann, daughter of John Evans of Bristol. William Innes Pocock [q. v.] was his brother. Isaac inherited his father's artistic talents, and about 1798 became a pupil of Romney. After Romney's death he studied under Sir William Beechey [q. v.] He acquired something of the distinctive style of each of his masters. William Hayley's son, Thomas Alphonso Hayley, was a fellow student under Romney, and in February 1799 Pocock accompanied Romney on a month's visit to the elder Hayley at Eartham. During this visit Romney made drawings of his two pupils, and Hayley addressed a sonnet to Pocock, beginning 'Ingenious son of an ingenious sire' (Life of Romney, p. 292).

Between 1800 and 1805 Pocock exhibited subject-pictures and portraits at the Royal Academy, and occasionally sent portraits during the next fifteen years. In 1807 his 'Murder of St. Thomas à Becket' was awarded the prize of 100l. given by the British Institution. In 1812 Pocock became a member of the Liverpool Academy, and sent to their exhibitions paintings in both oils and water-colours. His last historical painting was an altar-piece for the new chapel at Maidenhead. The Garrick Club has a portrait by him of Bartley as Hamlet.

In 1818 Pocock inherited from his uncle, Sir Isaac Pocock, some property at Maidenhead, and thenceforth he mainly devoted himself to the drama. For some time he lived in London, and served in the Royal Westminster Volunteers, in which he was raised to the rank of major 'by the suffrage of its members.' He afterwards became a J. P. and D. L. for Berkshire, and was an active magistrate. Pocock died at Ray Lodge, Maidenhead, on 23 Aug. 1835, and was buried in the family vault at Cookham. He married, on 24 Aug. 1812, Louisa, daughter of Henry Hime of Liverpool, and left three daughters and a son (see below).

Pocock's first piece was a musical farce in two acts, entitled 'Yes or No.' It was produced at the Haymarket on 31 Aug. 1808, and acted ten times. Genest calls it a poor piece, but Oulton says it had some effective broad humour (Genest, viii. 109-10; Oulton, London Theatres, iii. 77). It was followed by numerous similar productions.

Of the musical farces, 'Hit or Miss,' with music by C. Smith, first given at the Lyceum on 26 Feb. 1810, was by far the most successful, being acted 'at least thirty-three times' (Genest, viii. 166-7). A fourth edition of the printed work appeared in 1811. It is printed in Dibdin's 'London Theatre,' vol. xxiv., as well as in Cumberland's 'British Theatre,' vol. xxxiv. According to the 'Dramatic Censor,' it produced 'on an average 100 guineas at half-price on every evening that it is given.' Its success was chiefly due to the playing of Mathews as Dick Cypher (cf. Oxberry, Dramatic Biography, v. 5, 6). In 1815 Mathews rendered like service to Pocock's 'Mr. Farce-Writer' at Covent Garden (Genest, viii. 540). The piece was not printed. 'Twenty Years Ago,' a melodramatic entertainment, was given at the Lyceum in 1810. 'Anything New,' with overture and music by C. Smith, given on 1 July 1811, had some lively dialogue (Dramatic Censor; Oulton, iii. 125); but the 'Green-eyed Monster,' produced on 14 Oct. with Dowton, Oxberry, and Miss Mellon in the cast, was denounced by the 'Dramatic Censor' 'as a last experiment which should be quite final to Mr. Pocock.' It was, however, revived at Drury Lane in 1828, when William Farren [q. v.] and Ellen Tree acted in it. The music was composed by T. Welsh. A burletta, called 'Harry Le Roy,' by Pocock, was also given in 1811. Pocock's 'Miller and his Men,' a very popular melodrama, with music by Bishop, which attained a second edition in 1813, was still played in 1835 (cf. British Drama, 1864, vol. ii.; Cumberland, Collection; Dick, Standard Plays, 1883; Genest, viii. 441, 444, 472). 'For England Ho!' a melodramatic opera, produced at Covent Garden on 15 Dec. 1813, and acted 'about eleven times,' had, according to Genest, 'considerable merit' (ib. viii. 420-1). It was published in 1814 (cf. Cumberland, vol. xxxix.). 'John of Paris,' a comic opera adapted from the French, was produced at Covent Garden on 12 Oct. 1814, and acted seventeen times. Liston played an innkeeper. When revived at the Haymarket in 1826, Madame Vestris was in the cast (Genest, viii. 475-7). It was again played at Covent Garden in 1835 (cf. Cumberland, vol. xxvi.). 'Zembuca, or the Net-maker,' first given at Covent Garden, as 'a holiday piece,' on 27 March 1815, was played twenty-eight times (Genest, viii. 479). The 'Maid and the Magpie,' a drama in three acts, a second edition of which appeared in 1816, was adapted from the French of L. C. Caigniez and J. M. Baudouin. It was first printed in 1814 (cf. Lacy, vol. lxxxvii.; Cumberland, vol. xxviii.). 'Robinson Crusoe, or the Bold Buccaneers,' a romantic drama in two acts, was produced as an Easter piece at Covent Garden in 1817, with Farley in the title-rôle, and J. S. Grimaldi as Friday. It was published, with 'remarks,' by George Daniel, and is printed in Lacy's and Dick's 'Collections.' It was revived in 1826.

Pocock subsequently aimed at a higher species of composition, and converted some of the Waverley novels into operatic dramas. On 12 March 1818 his 'Rob Roy Macgregor, or Auld Lang Syne,' an operatic drama in three acts, was first played at Covent Garden. Macready took the title-rôle, 'which first brought him into play' (Oxberry, v. 41); Liston played Baillie Nicol Jarvie, and Miss Stephens Di Vernon. It was acted thirty-four times (Genest, viii. 657). It was played at Bath, for Farren's benefit, on 15 April 1815, when Warde was very successful as Rob Roy (ib. p. 672). In the revival of the following year Farren took Liston's place as the Baillie (ib. ix. 41). This play and Pocock's 'John of Paris' were given together at Bath on the occasion of Warde's farewell to the stage, on 5 June 1820 (ib. ix. 74). Wallack played in 'Rob Roy' at Drury Lane in January 1826; and Madame Vestris impersonated Di Vernon at the Haymarket in October 1824. The play was published in 1818, and is in Oxberry's 'New English Drama,' vol. x.; 'The British Drama,' vol. ii.; Lacy, vol. iii., and in Dick's 'Standard Plays.' 'Montrose, or the Children of the Mist,' three acts, produced at Covent Garden on 14 Feb. 1822, was not so successful, though it was played nineteen or twenty times. Liston appeared as Dugald Dalgetty (ib. ix. 157, 158, 570). 'Woodstock,' five acts, first acted on 20 May 1826, was a comparative failure, though the cast included Charles Kemble and Farren. 'Peveril of the Peak,' three acts, produced on 21 Oct. of the same year, was acted nine times. 'The Antiquary' was also unsuccessful. 'Home, Sweet Home, or the Ranz des Vaches,' a musical entertainment, was produced at Covent Garden on 19 March 1829, with Madame Vestris and Keeley in the cast (ib. ix. 481).

Besides the plays mentioned, Pocock wrote 'The Heir of Veroni' and 'The Libertine,' operas, 1817; 'Husbands and Wives,' a farce, 1817; 'The Robber's Wife,' a romantic drama in two acts, adapted from the German, 1829 (Cumberland, vol. xxviii.; Lacy, vol. lxix.), music by F. Ries; 'The Corporal's Wedding,' a farce, 1830; 'The Omnibus,' an interlude, 1831; 'Country Quarters' and 'The Clutterbucks,' farces, 1832; 'Scan Mag,' farce, 1833; 'The Ferry and the Mill,' melodrama, 1833; 'King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,' a Christmas equestrian spectacle, 1834-5. 'The Night Patrol,' a farce, and 'Cavaliers and Roundheads,' an adaptation of 'Old Mortality,' were posthumous.

His only son, Isaac John Innes Pocock (1819-1886), born on 28 July 1819, was educated at Eton, and Merton College, Oxford (B.A. in 1842), and was called to the bar, 19 Nov. 1847. In 1872 he printed privately 'Franklin, and other Poems.' He married, on 4 April 1850, Louisa, second daughter of Benjamin Currey. He died on 28 May 1886.

[Berry's Genealogies of Berkshire, pp. 116-22; Gent. Mag. 1835, ii. 657-8; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, 1889; Memoirs of T. A. Hayley, ed. J. Johnson, pp. 421, 449-50; W. Hayley's Life of Romney, pp. 291-4; Baker's Biogr. Dramatica, i. 575, 787; Genest's Account of the English Stage, vol. viii. ix. passim; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Pocock's christian name is erroneously given as James in Dict. of Living Authors, and some other places. See also Foster's Alumni Oxon. and Men at the Bar.]

G. Le G. N.

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