LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Fifty Years’ Recollections, Literary and Personal

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
‣ Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Vol. III Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
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Turner, the landscape painter, had arrived in the West on a professional tour. Among those who entertained him with admiring hospitality, was Mr. John Collier, whom I have mentioned among my own most respected friends, as having preceded Turner to the grave. We were sailing on the St. Germain river, Turner, Collier and myself, when I remarked what a number of artists the West of England had produced from Reynolds to Prout.

“You may add my name to the list,” said Turner, “I am a Devonshire man.”

I asked from what part of the county, and he replied, “From Barnstaple.” I have several times mentioned this statement to persons who insisted Turner was a native of Maiden Lane, London, where, it is true, he appears to have resided in very early life, whither he must have come from the country. His father was a barber. When Turner had a cottage near Twickenham, the father resided with his son, and used to walk into town to open the gallery in Queen Anne Street, where I well remember seeing him, a little plain, but not ill made old man—not reserved and austere as his son, in whom the worth lay beneath a coarse soil.
The unprepossessing exterior, the reserve, the austerity of language, existed in combination with a powerful, intelligent, reflective mind, ever coiled up within itself, and a faculty of vision that seemed to penetrate the sources of natural effect, however various in aspect, and to store them in memory with wonderful felicity. His glance commanded, in an instant, all that was novel in scenery, and a few outlines on paper recorded it unintelligibly to others. He placed these pictorial memoranda upon millboard, not larger than a sheet of letter paper, quite a confused mass. How he worked out the details from such sketches seemed to me wonderful. His views around Plymouth, in the engravings from his pictures, were marvellously varied in effect, as well as faithful representations. His first sketches showed little of the after picture to the unpractised eye—perhaps he bore much away in memory, and these were a kind of short-hand which he decyphered in his studio.

We once ran along the coast to Borough or Bur Island, in Bibury Bay. There was to be the wind-up of a fishing account there. Our excuse was to eat hot lobsters, fresh from the water to the kettle. The sea was boisterous—the morning unpropitious. Our boat was Dutch built, with outriggers and undecked. It belonged to a fine old weather-beaten seaman, a Captain Nicols. Turner, an artist, half Italian named Demaria, an officer of the army, Mr. Collier, a mutual friend, and myself, with a sailor, composed the party. The sea had that dirty puddled appearance which often precedes a hard gale. We kept towards Rame Head to obtain an offing, and when running out
from the land the sea rose higher, until off Stokes Point, it became stormy. We mounted the ridges bravely. The sea, in that part of the Channel, rolls in grand furrows from the Atlantic, and we had run about a dozen miles. The artist enjoyed the scene. He sat in the stern sheets intently watching the sea, and not at all affected by the motion. Two of our number were ill. The soldier, in a delicate coat of scarlet, white, and gold, looked dismal enough, drenched with the spray, and so ill, that, at last, he wanted to jump overboard. We were obliged to lay him on the rusty iron ballast in the bottom of the boat, and keep him down with a spar laid across him. Demaria was silent in his suffering. In this way we made Bur Island. The difficulty was how to get through the surf, which looked unbroken. At last, we got round under the lee of the island, and contrived to get on shore. All this time, Turner was silent, watching the tumultuous scene. The little island, and the solitary hut it held, the bay in the bight of which it lay, and the dark long Bolthead to seaward, against the rocky shore of which the waves broke with fury, made the artist become absorbed in contemplation, not uttering a syllable. While the shell-fish were preparing, Turner, with a pencil, clambered nearly to the summit of the island, and seemed writing rather than drawing. How he succeeded, owing to the violence of the wind, I do not know. He, probably, observed something in the sea aspect which he had not before noted. We took our pic-nic dinner and lobsters, and soon became merry over our wine on that wild islet. Evening approached, the wind had rather increased than diminished in violence. The landsmen
did not approve of a passage back, that must run far into the night if not the morning. Some one proposed we should walk to Kingsbridge and sleep. Captain Nicols declared he would return—his boat would defy any sea. We ought not in good fellowship to have separated. When it was low water we could reach the main land over the sands. We left the boat, and the captain with his man set sail back alone, and were obliged to run off the coast nearly to the Eddystone to make the Sound. Some of the men of war there, were firing guns to give notice that they were dragging their anchors. We slept at Kingsbridge. Turner and myself went early the next morning to Dodbrook to see the house in which
Dr. Wolcot (Peter Pindar) was born, of which the artist took a sketch. We walked a good part of the way back. The next day we spent at Saltram. Though full of paintings by the great masters, and many landscapes of Zuccarelli, I could not extract a word about them from Turner. Stubbs’ phaeton and runaway horses in the billiard room, he hardly noticed, except with the word “fine.” As we were retiring to bed, the room in which I slept was hung with Angelica Kauffman’s man-woman paintings. I directed his attention to them as he passed my room to his own, I received a “good-night in your seraglio,” (harem). On looking at some of Turner’s subsequent works, I recently perceived several bits of the scenery we had visited introduced into fancy pictures. Meeting him in London, one morning, he told me that if I would look in at his gallery I should recognize a scene I well knew, the features of which he had brought from the west.
I did so, and traced, except in a part of the front ground, a spot near New-bridge on the Tamar, we had visited together. It is engraved, called “Crossing the Brook,” and is now in Marlborough House.

I was present at Devil’s Point when he sketched the Sound, Mount Edgcumbe, Trematon Castle, Calstock, and scenes on the Tamar. We once passed an entire night together in a country inn with a sanded floor, where no beds were to be had, not far from the Duke of Bedford’s cottage on the Tamar. Most of our party went three miles to Tavistock. I volunteered to remain. They were to rejoin us after breakfast, the next day. Turner got some bread and cheese, and porter, for supper, which I did not relish, but by an after thought, procured some bacon and eggs, and after sitting conversing till midnight, with a fluency I never heard from Turner before or afterwards, he leaned over the table and fell asleep. I placed three chairs in a line, and stretching myself over them, got three or four hours’ rest, quite enough to be fresh to start with my companion at daybreak to explore some sweet spots in the neighbourhood, and return to breakfast before our friends rejoined us.

Turner said he had never seen so many natural beauties in such a limited spot of country as he saw there. He visited Mount Edgcumbe two or three times. I have a pencil sketch of his, which is a view of Cawsand Bay from the heights, with the end of a seat, a bottle of wine, table, and the men-of-war at anchor below. I value it as a relic of a great man, though a mere scrawl.


Some have said Turner was not conscious of his own superiority, I believe he was conscious of it. I believe him, too, the first landscape painter that has existed, considering his universality of talent. That he did not share in every-day susceptibilities, nor build upon things which the mass of artists esteem, is to his honour rather than demerit. His mind, too, was elevated. He did not wish to appear what he was not. He exhibited none of the servile crawling spirit of too many of his brethren. He was charged with being niggardly, but he had no desire to live in any other way than that to which he had been habituated, for he dared to be singular. His wealth he made for devotion to a better purpose than giving dilletanti parties, and assembling in his drawing-room bevies of visitors to no good purpose. He had no inclination for assortment with idlers uselessly. Concealed beneath his homely exterior, there was a first-rate intellect. He was aspiring in art, and knew the small value of thinking after others in social compliances. A painter, said to me that an artist could often see something amiss in his own picture he could not tell what, but Turner would instantly explain the defect; a single glance at the canvas from his eye was enough. He spoke little, but always to the point. He disregarded many things said about him and his peculiarities as unworthy, compared with the worth he set upon his labours. The most despicable individuals are those who make life a burthen to accommodate themselves to the world’s idle notions. That he could, when he pleased, deviate from his usual habits, I can answer.


I was one at a pic-nic party of ladies and gentlemen, which he gave in excellent taste at Mount Edgcumbe. There we spent a good part of a fine summer’s day. Cold meats, shell fish, and good wines abounded. The donor of the feast, too, was agreeable, terse, blunt, almost epigrammatic at times, but always pleasant for one not given to waste his words, nor studious of refined bearing. We visited Cothele on the Tamar together, where the furniture is of the time of Henry VII. and VIII.

The woods are fine, and the views of some of the headlands round which the river winds are of exceeding beauty. In one place he was much struck, took a sketch, and when it was done, said:

“We shall see nothing finer than this if we stay till Sunday; because we can’t.”

It was the last visit he paid to the scenery of the Tamar, before he quitted the west. It was to the honour of several of the inhabitants of Plymouth, that boats, horses, and tables, were ready for his use during the time he remained. Every body felt that in paying him attention they were honouring a most extraordinary genius, whose artistic merit had not been exaggerated.

I remember one evening on the Tamar, the sun had set, and the shadows become very deep. Demaria looking at a seventy-four lying under Saltash, said:

“You were right, Mr. Turner, the ports cannot be seen. The ship is one dark mass.”

“I told you so,” said Turner, “now you see it—all is one mass of shade.”


“Yes, I see that is the truth, and yet the ports are there.”

“We can take only what we see, no matter what is there. There are people in the ship—we don’t see them through the planks.”

“True,” replied Demaria.

There had been a discussion on the subject before between the two professional men, in which Turner had rightly observed, that after sunset, under the hills, the port-holes were undiscernable. We had now ocular proof of it.

Turner has paid the debt of nature, and has proved how well he understood the world, and how little the world understood him and his elevated views. Why should he become one of the many in thinking and acting, he whose associations were so much above its well-dressed or ill-dressed adherents in community of feeling. Truly great men, in every walk of life, judge and act for themselves. I observed a most intense regard for nature in this great artist, and a deep insight into its works; a silent examination and admiration; a retraction within himself, most probably generated by seeing the dissimilarity of the views of others, and their mode of thinking, with his own. Sound sense, curt manners, shrewd remarks, no artistic boo’ing, so common with his brother artists, to wealth or station for ends of profit, no currying high patronage, he won his way bravely and alone. He lived with his art, and cared not for the god of the multitude—for fashion. He hewed his way to fame through all the obstacles which beset the path of genius, and attained by his talents the highest place. This is not extravagant praise. Others
might have equalled or excelled him in one branch of his art, but Turner was great in all the departments of landscape painting. Storm or calm, noon-day light or evening shadow, or early dawn, in depicting nature truthfully, in affluence of invention, in the poetry of his art, he was fine in all. I saw little of him during the last twenty years of his life, but his name always carried with it, in my view, a sentiment of deep respect—respect for that genius with which heaven so rarely endows human nature.

In one of our rambles, from the party in our excursions, we got into a field where four or five fine fellows of seamen, landed from the boat of a man of war, were striking at something with a switch, and drawing back. When we came to the spot, it was a harmless snake. I took it up in my hand, and they looked at me with an expression of astonishment—men who would have boarded an enemy’s ship, or marched to the muzzles of the guns of a battery were alarmed at a miserable reptile. Verily, man is after all an incomprehensible animal. This same class of men much amused even Turner with their frolics. They are become a more staid and rational race now. When a ship was paid off, they expended pounds in the hire of hackney coaches passing between the two towns backwards and forwards, always themselves riding on the top, and packing any one who liked inside. All the vehicles were sometimes engaged in this way for a day together. I was told that one sailor with well-lined pockets hired twenty-four, all he could find, and made them drive about after him, he being in the headmost. Captain, afterwards Admiral Penrose, met two or three
of his men, one of whom, drunk, had two twenty pound notes in his hand, waving them about. Penrose seized one of the notes, and the man recognising his officer, at once abandoned it. The Captain put it into his own pocket. In two days, the man came on board penniless, his leave having expired. When sober, on duty again, the Captain called him, and presented him with the note.

“Now, my man, you are twenty pounds richer than you expected, take more care of your money in future.”

“Aye, aye, your honour, I thought I had money enough for a couple of days longer, though I could not tell what had become of it.”

I knew Plymouth as a boy. The naval commander-in-chief was then the one-legged Admiral Colpoys, of the old school, a tough man, brave as a lion. He had a sister, notorious as Bet Colpoys, a drunken reprobate, who, whenever she saw her brother in the public street used to follow and abuse him in a full stream of Billingsgate language. It was a trial for the poor old admiral’s patience. She is said to have become a penitent a year or two before her death, and to have expired a good Christian. But this is a tale of a remote period that comes back like a half-forgotten dream. When we advance in life, we do not forget such dreams notwithstanding our conviction of their insubstantiality. Our youth spent in hope, age sustains itself in memory, man being ever the sacrifice to the future or the past.

Sir Francis Drake I found still held in respect here. On a particular day in the year, the Corporation went
to examine the leat or water-course, made by the great circumnavigator for supplying the town.

This cut conveys the water from a stream called the ‘Mew,’ near Dartmoor, to the town, by a circuitous channel of twenty-four miles. A most patriotic undertaking, and what is still more, this great work was presented to the town by Drake, and constitutes one of the noblest gifts of public utility ever presented by an individual to his fellow citizens. I was shown the house in which Drake was born, and in front of it an old oak which grew there in his time. This house must not be confounded with Buckland Monachorum, the seat of the Drakes, which afterwards came by marriage to Lord Heathfield, the hero of Gibraltar. This last is on the left of the road from Plymouth to Tavistock, the other is on the right, an ancient-looking place. It is a tradition that when the tidings of the Great Armada reached Plymouth, where Drake’s ship lay with the commander-in-chief, Drake himself was on the Hoe playing at bowls, then a favourite game. Having the bowl in his hand, he exclaimed:

“Only this bowl more, and then for a bowl at the Spaniard.”

He made his hit and hastened on board. He was a kinsman of Hawkins, and I believe also of Gilbert, both great naval names, and natives of the town, though as to Gilbert’s natal place there is some uncertainty.

I was induced to collect materials towards a history of the town, and a prospectus of the undertaking was printed by old Haydon, but it came to nothing. There did not seem to be a sufficient number of persons who would be subscribers to ensure the expense of the
copper-plate engravings necessary to illustrate the work.

During an excursion to Lidford, among others, with certain barristers of the Western Circuit, I visited the Devil’s Bridge, of one arch thrown across a chasm in the rocks, so narrow and dark that the water beneath is heard, but cannot be seen. Several of the party, myself of the number, descended by the course of the stream, until we reached the side of the water, from the decline of the ground. By the turn of an angle in the fissure, we could not see far up the stream; and two or three of us stripped, determined to get up the bed of the torrent, as far as the bridge. We waded where it was shallow, and swam several black pools, our hands nearly touching the walls of rock on each side, green with dank vegetation. In this way we got under the bridge. It was a gloomy fissure where the sun’s ray never penetrated, the cold was intense, and we were happy to work our way back again. An unhappy suicide, said to be a commercial traveller, flung himself over the parapet. It is an odd fancy to choose such modes of self-murder as are frightful in the contemplation, when so many ways of terminating existence with tranquillity are at hand. Perhaps it is from the desire of notoriety, that people fling themselves from the monument, or prostrate themselves under railway cars. Can it really be from that passion, which—
Aids the dancer’s heel, the writer’s head,
And heaps the plain with mountains of the dead?
I visited the Land’s End before I left, and on my way called on some old friends. I found, on enquiring, whole
families had even then disappeared in no long period of time, some portions in the grave, and others scattered, I could not learn where. Life is of little moment after all, if we consider the vastness of the bygone time, the unceasing present mutation, and the infinity to come. I felt oppressed at the change a few years had made in my native county; I fancied I could exchange the extant friendships of my kind, to be spared the remembrance of past losses, and anticipated bereavements. We confess the great love of change, but we cannot become well reconciled to it. The heart is ever seeking to return to what it can never find, until the power of seeking has ceased for ever. I lost several friends, too, in the ‘St. George,’ and ‘Defence,’ among the vessels wrecked on the Haak Sand. A subscription was set on foot for the relief of the families of the sufferers, and an amateur play got up for the same benevolent object. I wrote the prologue.
Sir Robert Calder, in the stage box, sobbed aloud while it was reciting, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house. A catastrophe of another kind, and not so fatal to life happened while I was there, in the destruction of the ‘Captain,’ a seventy-four gun ship, by fire. She had borne Nelson’s flag in some his of most brilliant exploits. I was awoke at dead midnight by a rapid firing of shotted guns. The launches with heavy artillery were firing into the blazing mass to sink it; for no one could approach near enough to scuttle the hull, but as the flames consumed the hull, it became lighter, and the shot holes rose above the water line. It was feared the ship would get loose, and set others on fire. Luckily the vessel was fast moored with a chain. It was a sight of astonishing grandeur. The groves of
Mount Edgcumbe looked exceedingly beautiful, and the whole horizon, at midnight, over sea and land, bright as day. Only one man perished.

It was scarcely possible, in the first thirty years of a life spent in the midst of naval excitement, that I should not form opinions upon some obvious points connected with the service. The sea, as an element, had ever been my delight. I remember its bracing freshness and the pebbles at the bottom, as led by the nurse I looked into its rippling waves from the quay at Green Bank—how clear and charming it seemed to a vision opening upon life! Handed down from our ancestors, there was much tolerated, barbarous in act, erroneous in policy, and unjust in regard to those who ploughed its waters. The impress service was a disgrace alike to reason and humanity. Originating when the larger part of the people were serfs, the excuse of a sovereign’s right to the person and services of those who had no rights, might have been pleaded. Serfship ceasing in the reign of Elizabeth, the pretence, backed by the lawyers, of the right to impress mechanics, and players, for the sovereign’s pleasure whenever the amusements of the court called for it, was not then to be disputed, much less the services of seamen. This class was still enslaved under the tyrant plea of necessity; every natural and social right was entombed, and what was called common law was made flexible to justify it. The sailor was a martyr without a martyr’s consolations. The able seaman, who before he was fit for his duties, must have acquired an experience of six or seven years, and possess some scientific knowledge, was hunted down like a wild beast, outraged, degraded, his liberty
set at nought, and his services unrewarded. Had the system been persevered in, as I have witnessed it executed, it would have told fearfully in the end against our island defences. Seamen of the right stamp knew their duty, that discipline must be preserved, and that a good Captain makes a good and contented ship. On the other hand, overworked and harassed impressed men naturally became sullen and discontented. They dared not disobey, but they dared to remember. I knew of a young carpenter, who during his dinner hour was lounging on the barbican pier. A man-of-war boat landed an officer going to the victualling office, and was about to return, when the youth attracted their attention, they seized him in the twinkling of an eye, put him in the boat and pulled rapidly away. I was dining with the Mayor when the report was made to him, he had backed no press warrant, and without his signature, the act was unlawful. He sent a town serjeant to the Port Admiral’s ship. He was told in positive language no such man was in the vessel. In a day or two, notice privately came from the man’s brother, a marine, stating that the man was in iron’s in the ship, and would soon be sent off. The Mayor ordered a warrant to go with the proper officers, and took the man away by legal authority.

The Admiralty, itself, was set at defiance in similar matters, so much does the permission of one injustice encourage others. A French officer on parole had his son with him, a well made lad of sixteen. The boy ran away, and by some means got on board the port-ship. The father’s parole would not let him leave Ludlow. He applied to the agent for prisoners of war,
who wrote to the admiralty. An order was sent down to return the lad to his father. On the port-admiral sending the order to the flagship, the youth was put into a boat alongside, and an answer returned, “There was no such lad in the ship.”

The naval punishments were dreadfully severe. The knout could not be worse than the cat. It was a greater torture in the naval than the military service, and was inflicted at the will of a superior, justly or unjustly, according to the temper of the man. Court-martials, too, inflicted most severe punishments. “Two poor fellows going round the fleet this morning, Sir,” the boatman has said to me when I was about to cross the Sound. My reply was “pull me in again!” The number of deaths resulting from this old and brutal custom, is only known to him from whom no secret is concealed.

There were many officers, by whom such scenes were considered unnecessary. They would govern a vessel like a family, and rarely indeed did such, ever themselves punish, or apply to courts-martial to punish those under them. Nelson and Collingwood hated punishments. “There is a man has been in irons for a week, my lord,” Captain Hardy would say to Nelson. “It is better for himself that his punishment were over.”

Nelson would seem to assent, and in a few minutes the signal would be flying to manœuvre the fleet, so that no punishment could take place. Again the admiral’s captain would report and remonstrate.

“Well, Hardy, I suppose it must be. Let me know when it is over, I shall go and write my letters.”

He used to say that he hated to see the backs of those fine fellows cut up, who stood to their guns as his
men did. This was stated to me by my old friend
Sir George Magrath, who was Nelson’s medical officer for some years before Sir W. Beatty. It may sound strange, but I heard certain naval men contend that Nelson was no sailor. His ship they said, was never in crack order. Things were slovenly. He did not sweat his men enough in keeping all taught, not a rope too slack, all trim to a hair. Such ships were beautifully kept to the eye, but then this was the only point of service for which their commanders were adapted. They were like the black stock officers in the army—Crimean staff, with toes at an angle of forty-five degrees, and brains of pipe-clay.

I often used to ask why we did not, as of old, impress for soldiers, which would have been less injustice. The soldier had little more to acquire than the art of loading and firing a musket, and marching in line; the labour of only a month or two for a plough-boy’s intellect. The acquirement of complicated duties, as reefing and steering, rigging, musket, pistol, and cutlass practice, working heavy artillery, and the like, besides the mastership of resources under novel circumstances continually occurring, the seaman was still treated like a Russian slave, and the plough-boy, a mere machine, was respected like a free citizen. Such were my thoughts in those days. I have lived to see a happy change, both for the seamen and the country, which forty years of peace and mental progress have operated. A feeling of what is due to individual justice, a sense of good policy, and a union of British hearts in one sentiment of generous patriotism, has rendered our sea-girt land so much stronger, as it has yielded more to principles of equity and
humanity. History will mark the present era in the management of the navy, with a due exaltation of the good sense which worked it out. The inestimable benefits will be felt when every timber that now exhibits the majestic improvements in naval construction, will be dust. The Russian war will be the date of a higher career in our naval government, as well as in mechanical construction.

At Plymouth, after reading of our old navigators and the ravages of disease in their ships, I was told by Drs. Magrath and Beatty, that they had been one morning to the naval hospital to see a man suffering under an attack of real sea scurvy, of which for many years they had not encountered a single case. The stop was not put to this scourge without great labour and perseverance, backed by the strong influence of Lord Howe, nearly at the close of the last century. The man to whom England is so deeply indebted was Dr. Trotter. I heard it from excellent naval authorities. Thousands of lives, and hundreds of thousands of pounds he saved, by regulations as to the seamen’s diet and the increased use of vegetables. Ruptured in clambering up the sides of vessels to visit the sick, his own health ruined, he was allowed to retire after his inestimable services on one hundred and eighty pounds per annum! When several eminent individuals interfered in his behalf, they got only the usual reply of that day, “we admit Dr. Trotter’s merits, but we cannot resist interest.” The name of this deserving man was never mentioned without high encomiums by the naval officers and medical men of that time.

I was pressed to enter the army. A commission
was twice offered me by a party not without interest. I declined because I could not bring myself to all the submission required. I speak not of military obedience. In what related to the service, obedience was a necessity to be cheerfully met as a condition of putting on the uniform. There was in the army, and there is still, it is possible, a tendency to interfere with matters not military.
Wellington continually reprehended the interference of superior officers in this way.

There was then much more latitude in the navy than in the army, the mental calibre of the officers in the last named service was more contracted. Opinions were measured only by the fashion; too little was demanded of the military at setting out. A young midshipman of a twelvemonth’s standing, required in the exercise of his duty at the end of that twelvemonths of his career, more intellectual exertion than a full colonel in the army, who was not of the artillery or engineers. Hence the more expanded views of the seaman, enlarged resources, and greater self reliance. At a dinner party where there were guests of both services, I was attacked as if I had done something heinous for defending a statement of Cobbett’s. It was not whether the opinion was right or wrong. I replied, that I did not hold Cobbett’s opinions, that he was virulent and coarse, but that he now and then let fall a wholesome truth.

They were astonished I could read, much less quote anything such “a fellow” wrote with approbation. I replied that must depend upon the merit, or demerit of the argument. He was not to be censured when he stated the truth, that I did not concern myself about the man, but only about what he had written upon a
particular point. They repeated their wonder; “it was applauding a great rascal.” The late
Captain Nicolas Lockyer was sitting near me, as gallant a little man as the navy contained, he came to the rescue.

“You are right Redding, I have taken Cobbett several years. He does let fall many strong truths, and if it be not in a Jemmy Jessamy sort of a way, it will still be a truth. As for his hard names, they are his own affair, he is abusive and violent; but when he writes a truth, it is another matter.”

My opponents were silent after that rejoinder. Poor Lockyer! he was a kind-hearted, strict but just officer, and died in command of the ‘Albion’ at Malta. He had many good stories of his own adventures, how his life was saved by becoming a prisoner to the South American Spaniards on the main, where he and his comrades were considered to be spies, and expected to be hung the next day. The officer of the guard over him was a mason, so was he, and winked at his escape in the night. How he became flag-lieutenant to Sir John Duckworth in the West Indies, that medley of a sailor and money-lover, and how after being up two nights in the burning latitude of Jamaica, he fell asleep while steering in the admiral’s boat, and how old Sir John Tommy, as they called him, hit him with his fist under the ear, “God d—— ye, sir, are you going to drown His Majesty’s commander-in-chief in the West Indies?” How in command of a schooner that sank off Port Royal, he and some others saved themselves on hencoops and similar articles, until picked up by the boat of a merchant vessel, from which he was swimming in another direction, much afraid of sharks,
and not observing the boat which pulled after him, “why did he go off, and not wait till they took him up?”

“Why,” said Nick in his usual lively way, “because I thought you would not pick me up at all, and so I was bearing up for Jamaica.” He had been several hours in the water, but his oily round little body could hardly have sank, had he been drowned. New Orleans was a subject of great indignation with him on account of the ignorance of our general commanding, who was killed.

“I could have flanked the whole Yankee position with a gun or two in the launches, and prevented our abominable disgrace.”

I was struck with the inefficiency there must be in officers’ reports, who act as judge-advocates at courts-martial. These courts are such tremendous odds against a prisoner, that the proceedings ought to be carried verbatim before the judge-advocate-general. Often persons act as judge-advocates in cases where the want of legal knowledge is most disadvantageous. In our ports an attorney generally holds the office. Verbatim reports would be much better than abstracts never certain to be correct. The judge-advocate-general could form a better opinion than any attorney’s abstract would enable him to do. I have known the court act erroneously too, where it would have been glad to be set right, and it was not done; I have seen it most overbearing. The judge-advocate-general himself cannot be ubiquitous; but a sworn report, verbatim et literatim, would secure justice. Of what then are those abstracts worth when Ensign Ramrod or Captain Sabretash takes the office
upon him? I often saw odd things occur at courts-martial during the war.

The ‘Raven’ schooner I had seen sunk in a gale of wind, and I was also destined to see the ‘Amethyst’ frigate wrecked, of which I have before spoken; it was in the night with no great sea running. When I reached the spot at daylight, the masts were cut away, but the hull was entire, and they were dragging the bodies of the drowned out of the waves, to the number of thirty or forty. I was introduced to Captain Sir William Bolton, R.N., Nelson’s nephew, who died in 1830. His father was heir presumptive to the title. There was a young officer, too, named Lindsell, to whom I was introduced at the same time, in the eleventh dragoons, on his way to Spain, where he fell. Pleasant dinners with stranger guests, from all parts of the world, were common. The regiments of cavalry embarked in Catwater, in miserably close transports, were often detained by contrary winds, and our club made it pleasant to many of the officers. The men slept over the horses on a species of deck, not more than three feet in height inhaling the breath of the animals beneath, in a state of the atmosphere insufferably hot. The horses were slung. I could not tell how the men contrived to exist. I recollect soon afterwards, in consequence of statements from Lisbon, the sides of the cavalry barracks were ordered to be taken down. The hot stables at home unfitting the horses for service when picketted out upon chopped straw. The complaint was general, that we sacrificed our fine animals to show and glossy coats, in place of considering what would render them efficient for active service.


I must mention here an acquaintance with General Thomas, inspecting field officer, a native of Devonshire. His son was his aide-de-camp, and going out not many years ago to Australia, he was speared by the natives, among whom he had too carelessly ventured. Twenty years after I had quitted the county of Devon, I entered the Somerset Coffee-house, there were only two persons in the room, I seated myself where I could not see their faces, but I thought I recognized the voices. I found one was Dr. Maclean, the anti-contagionist, and the other was the general who died lately at the age of eighty-eight. It was a singular meeting, after such a lapse of time, and the recognition, too, by the voices. I am not aware of the date or place of Maclean’s decease. They were both kind-hearted excellent men.

Before I left Devon, I had two hair-breadth escapes for my life. I was on horseback on the bridle road, along what are called the Batten Cliffs in Whitsun Bay. At rather a dangerous part of the road, people in general dismounted, and led their horses. There was a railing between the road and the sea on the verge of the precipice, but in one place the rail was wanting, and precisely there did the horse start, so that one of its legs was actually over the edge of the precipice, at the bottom of which the sea was thundering upon the rocks. How the animal recovered itself I cannot tell. I felt little until I had got some distance from the place. Two men coming up, exclaimed, “a narrow escape, indeed.” Proceeding a little farther, I felt tremorish and faint; and dismounting, was obliged to lean against the hedge to support myself. The hazard I had run came upon me in full force.


The second hazard I encountered, was at a fire in the night. I entered the next house to that on fire, ignorant that the partition between the two was constructed of wood. The lower part of both houses was burning, and there was no downward retreat. I got upon a window sill where I knew the wall was substantial. One side of the room was occupied by a dresser well covered with earthenware. There was a great crackling for a minute or two, and then I saw the whole sink into the space below with a horrible crash. More I could not see, for the smoke and flame followed so quickly, that I had barely time to spring from the window unsinged, upon a heap of garden mould beneath. The height was much greater than any one would propose to leap by choice. I sustained no injury.

St. Sebastian, I remember, had been stormed about this time. I knew an officer who had run out in a king’s ship, and arrived just after the place was carried. He told me that he saw women with infants at their breasts lying bayonetted in the street. The conduct of our soldiers was most disgraceful here. It made a painful impression on every mind. It was too horrible to be detailed.

I had squandered money, nearly all I possessed, and much precious time to little purpose, and my resolve, I have already stated.

I sold the paper, at last, through a London agent, and strange enough, a financial friend of Perceval, a little time before, was the purchaser. Perceval’s assassination had not altered the state of literary taxation. His friend had been condemned to die, and pardoned through a legal opinion, that he had been only guilty of
a breach of trust, in place of the felony for which he was tried, not that there was any difference in the two crimes in the sight of a rational person, but it was not so in law. It required some degree of assurance to assume the character of publisher of any newspaper, since a public character in some degree, the editor of a paper must necessarily be. This individual should rather have hid his head in the obscurity of a remote place, where his conduct and person were alike strange. He was only known to me personally, when he reached the property of which he had become the purchaser.

Walsh had been Member of Parliament for Wooton Basset. Whether he was considered clever among the stock-brokers of the city in the mystery of moneymaking, I do not know; but he was a very feeble-minded man, destitute of political, as he was of literary information. His manners were mild, and on the whole, I should describe him as a weak, unreflecting man, beyond a business which flourishes or fails, like the tables of hazard. He said he had ninety thousand pounds one morning, and the next day was thousands worse than nothing. He had in his despair, as it was “charitably” said, but in too much of a methodized despair, taken off twenty thousand pounds, with which he had been entrusted by Sir Thomas Plumer to purchase exchequer bills. He had been dabbling in lottery tickets and lost all he possessed, he then purchased American stock with his plunder, bought American coin, and set off to Falmouth to sail to America. From Falmouth, he franked a letter to his family, with a stolidity unparalleled, justice being in pursuit of him. He was brought back, tried and condemned, and was
expelled from the House of Commons. To him I made over the paper as the purchase warranted. I never heard the particulars of his after career, except that he set up as a merchant as well as a newspaper proprietor, and failed.

I left behind me a locality to which I was much attached, and many kind friends of whom I heard little afterwards. I was gratified in reflecting that in many trying circumstances, I had, though young and inexperienced, never dishonoured myself by any compromise of principle, or any of that servility too common by which the road to wealth, if not to honour, is generally made certain. I took my farewell regretfully. Among others, on whom I called to take leave was Lord Boringdon. His lordship was not at home, but a letter followed me, as follows:

“Dear Sir,

“I really am on every account extremely sorry to hear of your determination to quit this part of the country, and can only trouble you with the expression of my earnest hopes that the measure which you have adopted may in the event answer you most sanguine expectations.

“I shall at all times be most happy to hear of your welfare, and feeling very sensibly the kind sentiments expressed in your farewell note,

“I remain,
“Dear Sir,
“Your very faithful and obedient,

I knew not what course to adopt on my arrival in town. The conduct of a paper in London suited me best, but I had not pecuniary means of my own left to establish one, and I had severed my connections in the metropolis by my long absence. Editors were then something with the public, and would not be respected if they bartered their political integrity as the wind blew. The government of the day sought support from the press, and there was a necessity that all parties should be consistent. A proprietary, many of which scarcely know their alphabet, demanding that an editor should prostitute himself to the changes in their ignorant views and pecuniary speculations, whenever a market seemed open for the purchase of principle as of an article of merchandize, was then not common and was always reprehended. The press led the public mind, and did not follow and pamper the hallucinations of the meanest tendencies in those who are the more ignorant, and therefore the least worthy part of the community as guides. The editors then were, for the most part, men of education, gentlemen in manners, and habits of thinking. Nor did high moral or political objects become directly dependent upon the omnipotence of money, ignorance, and low huckstering, without the fault lying at the door of literary men, who have been and are forced into false positions by the sovereignty of avarice over honour, and sensitive feelings adherent to their nature, outraged preventive of that earnestness and spirit which belong to those who write from the soul. There is scarcely a publication extant of a character which reflects without alloy the honest mind of the writer that conducts it, unless it be his own property.


I felt on leaving the country as if I were beginning life anew. I came to town by what was then called the New Road over Salisbury Plain. Gloomy thoughts passed over my spirit; thoughts too literally realized in after life. I remember I composed, on my way, these lines—they depicted my feelings too truly.

This dream of life, this tiring dream
Of baffled hope, and vain endeavour,
This hour of foolery reason’s gleam
Faintly illumes, and quits for ever;
How strange its scenes of daily cheating,
So seldom sicken by repeating!—
The same worn round of action guides
The circle of our fleeting hours,
And man’s succession onward glides,
Like spring-leaves or the summer-flowers,
Replacing those stern winter’s race
Had driven from their dwelling place.
O weary, weary dream of life,
Yet never weary of repeating!—
Strange its delusion, toil, and strife,
We love the more for their deep cheating—
Nursing vain hopes, yet loth to tell
The dupery we feel too well.

After all, life is aimless with only a few. All have some end ever in view, if it be fallacious. That end fixes the difference in character. The end of most is mere existence. A comparative few alone meet the envy of those who toil; but the idle have no end in life, and are unhappy. Some find evil to compensate the good, as illness, discontent, family feuds which stand in the way of their enjoyment until the curtain drops.


I visited Stonehenge on my way, and walked from thence to Amesbury. It was a fine autumnal evening. The sun was setting in magnificent array, gorgeous with dazzling glories, well worthy of a delegated sovereignty over the inferior spheres. As I drew near that pile of an unknown age, the light of the orb of day, it being so near the horizon, threw long shadows from those gigantic uprights, like the projecting fingers of some one of titanic race—of the giants that dwelt upon the young earth. The light between the imposts was glowing and resplendent as burnished brass.

But all around was objectless, no tree, no enclosure, not even the humblest shrub broke the uniformity of the scene, though it contributed to heighten the effect upon the vision, by fixing the attention on the imposts, novel and striking as they appeared. They were symbols of a mystery never now to be revealed. The waste around them, silent, void, melancholy, had still its peculiar language. It addressed the heart silently. Its desolation, though dumb, indicated perished times and forgotten men. The stillness, the declining light, the lengthened shadows awed the spirit, conscious of unknown purposes and events, of which those stupendous stones were the sole memorial. I gazed upon them for the first and last time with indescribable feelings. I walked in and out among the prostrate as well as the upright colossi. I seated myself upon one of the ponderous and fallen masses, and contemplated the monuments around me in their senility as allied with things less durable, the term only a little longer. My reflections were not so much directed to the form of
those huge masses as to our limited knowledge in regard to the object which had caused them to be of such magnitude, and how man’s insignificance of duration, as well as the brevity of his records, was exhibited in the work of his own hands. We are full of boastings from youth to age, while continually reminded by inanimate things of the necessity of humility.

As I quitted that wonderful remnant of ruder times, I turned again and again to look at its grey columns in the twilight. I lingered and looked, and lingered again. Sombre thoughts arose, folding themselves like mist around a deeper obscurity than mortality could penetrate. We are but a minute particle of passing things, as a moment is a particle of eternity, and how humble ought we to feel when such truths press upon us. I reached Amesbury at dusk, I could sleep little that night, for tumultuous thoughts in which the past, present, and future intermingled.

The following bitter winter I spent in town, walked on the ice from Blackfriars to London Bridge, dirty and impure, and lumpy as it was—a dreary looking scene. A rising mist obscured the day almost constantly, so that the season was well characterised as a calamity. My spirits were not buoyant, nothing in that season was calculated to lift me above the state when we exclaim—
“There’s nothing in the world can make us joy.”

The Serpentine skaters, the promenading, the streets piled up with snow and ice, the well and ill clad spectators, as they were then combined, were novelties.
But the cold of that long remembered icy season made me sigh for “a beaker of the warm south,” from the extreme west of England.

I had published, while in the country, twenty-five copies of a poem called “Retirement,” which I presented to my friends, and of which no copy that I know of is at present extant. Preceded by a production of my boyhood, entitled “Mount Edgcumbe,” I wrote a prologue for the opening of Drury Lane Theatre, but I escaped being among the “Rejected Addresses,” as I told Horace Smith, “because it was never sent.” I could not please myself about the last dozen lines, and suffered the time fixed for its being given in to the committee to elapse.

I found Samuel composing a work on courts-martial, having ceased to write for the ‘Pilot’ several years before. He soon after sailed for Demerara. In that horrible winter, I remember a country friend of mine had his pocket picked of a handkerchief, and was grievously annoyed. He regarded it as a species of reflection upon his own vigilance. Determined to be revenged upon some of the pick-pocket tribe, he procured fish-hooks, and had them fastened into the pockets of an old coat with the barbs downwards. He, thus accoutred, sallied forth into the Strand in the dusk of the evening. Amid a crowd at Charing Cross, he felt a hand in his pocket, and giving himself a jerk as he said to get the hooks well into the rogue’s flesh, he moved on with his prey closely following. He then quickened his pace, giving every now and then another jerk. In this mode, affecting not to feel the fish he had hooked, he led the knave clear of the crowd to a
bye street. “Now my fine fellow I have you, don’t fish in my pockets again.”

He unbuttoned his coat to slacken the pocket, but in vain did the thief endeavour to extricate himself, the hooks were too deep in the hand, so my acquaintance took out his knife, and whipped off the skirt of the old coat he had used for the trap, and bade the pickpocket walk off to a surgeon, as he thought he had been tolerably well punished, directing him to be careful respecting his person again, if he spared no others of the King’s subjects. The pickpockets are generally among the least powerful of those who thus live upon their wits, and my friend was a strong man, so that the robber would have had little chance in a struggle with him, especially having only one hand to spare.

I had found out the young American Graham on my arrival, alluded to as having the patronage of Mr. Burdon. Being attacked with typhus fever, I went to see him. Mr. Burdon had sent him a medical man, under whose care he slowly recovered, but never looked so well in person after he came to town. His kind patron urged him to abandon literature as a profession, and from having studied the law in America for some time, recommended that he should continue to do so here. He was entered of the middle Temple, at which Mr. Burdon and myself became his securities. Nor was this all, his munificent patron afterwards sent him to Cambridge, where, though he did not neglect his studies, he became intimate with young men of fortune, of little principle, and dissipated. He left Cambridge with the same sort of moral character as too many display on taking leave of the university, who go
through the routine there without the necessity for exertion. He had acquired a habit of play, and became a debater. He sometimes wrangled with his benefactor, not always with due regard to truth, if he thought the reverse would obtain him a triumph. He would never admit he was in the wrong. I had not seen him for two years. He wrote me, in France, an account of the illness of Mr. Burdon.

In this letter, he said, “I wish I could tell you of anything gratifying, I am still harassed by claims that I cannot discharge, and by the sting of wants I cannot satisfy. The increasing illness of Mr. Burdon, my excellent friend, which has assumed an aspect more alarming than ever, agitates me more than all my pecuniary distresses. His complaint perplexes the science, and baffles the prescriptions of his medical attendants, and after fluctuating between hopes and fears, doubts and certainties for twelve weeks, we have now nothing left us but the most alarming apprehensions. If he should not recover, I cannot count the distresses of his family which is wrapped up in his existence. I hardly have the courage to calculate the quality of my own fortitude. Nothing can replace with me his liberal kindnesses, his paternal affection. But it is a subject too gloomy and too heart-oppressing for affection to anticipate.”

He then referred to Caleb Colton’s injury to his arm, by the bursting of his gun—his life being despaired of, and continued, “I have written some articles for the reviews, but the stipend was too trifling to make it profitable. I hope soon to do something in the literary way that will tell better. I intend to
give up my chambers in the Temple, and go into lodgings. These last will be more convenient, and I hope less expensive. But it is not decided yet—you do not mention
Biagioli?” He had visited the continent before, by permission of Mr. Burdon, who supplied him with funds. Mr. Burdon died, leaving an estate burthened with an annuity to his protégé, which the latter disposed of, and returned again to the continent. I lost sight of him once more for some time, during which he had traversed part of Germany and Italy. I was passing along the Quay de 1’Ecole going to the Place de Grêve to see two men guillotined by the restored Bourbons, when I met Graham. He informed me he was going to England, almost pennyless. He further told me of his propensity for play, how it had grown upon him, and how weak were his resolves. That he had broke up one of the banks at Aix-la-Chapelle, having left his stake to double which it had actually done fourteen times. A winner of some thousands, he had lost it all again, and having no money left had been studying hard. He was indebted at his quarters at Mr. Biagioli, a worthy professor of languages in the College of Louis le Grand, and he wanted to get back to London. He got there, and before his departure declared to me that the practice was not of long standing, but that the excitement was delightful, winning or losing it had a complete mastery over him. He said he had met with Mr. Wordsworth in Switzerland, and had travelled some days in his society. He was never called to the bar, and withdrew the money lodged in the Temple, usually deposited on such occasions.


In 1821, being at the time coadjutor of the poet Campbell, in conducting the New Monthly Magazine, I got some money for him for contributions written at my suggestion. He had been a member of the academics in Chancery Lane, and was the forensic rival of Talfourd, whom he far surpassed in natural talent, would he had equalled him in perseverance, and the practise of similar virtues, Graham and Talfourd were at this time in close intimacy. Talfourd wrote the dramatic article for my part of the New Monthly, and delivered it punctually on the day which required it for the printer. Graham anticipated the sum for his labours before they were half completed. I had recommended him to Ugo Foscolo, for an amanuensis, and he laboured diligently while he had no money. The fiery Italian, and hot Yankee were not likely to agree long. Foscolo had two female servants, and he accused Graham of being too intimate with one of them. Foscolo used an epithet towards him in the matter which he determined to resent. I was in consequence surprized one day by a note from him to the following effect—

“I am going out with Foscolo. He used an expression about me which I could not tolerate. I walked to his house, and as he would not apologize or explain, I insulted him, and applied to him the epithet he deserved. After a little shuffling, he has had the courage to call me out, and I go on the instant. If anything should happen to me pray do go down to my place, and take away my things. There will be but a few shillings to pay at my lodgings, but there will be some money in my pockets—keep everything, and leave the rest to the parish! I don’t apprehend any danger, but I am
determined that Foscolo shall not easily escape the ground. My mind is made up as to that, and in spite of my utter contempt for the practice of duelling—I am in for it—why let the worst come!”

They met at Primrose Hill. On the receipt of the above letter, I went up towards Foscolo’s house, and met Mr. William Wallace of the Temple, who had been Foscolo’s second. He told me the affair had terminated. Graham’s second, a member of the Irish bar now alive, said that Graham had won the toss for the first fire. Having given the insult designedly, he could not honourably avail himself of his advantage, and therefore fired wide, that Foscolo might take his satisfaction. Foscolo refused to fire at all, or to say that he was satisfied, wanting to enter into an argument on the point in dispute, which the seconds refused to hear. As Foscolo would neither answer nor take his shot the adverse parties moved off the ground. Foscolo’s excuse was that he had too great a contempt for his adversary to fire at him—then why challenge him?

Graham next became a translator for the newspapers, and realized a good income, but he plunged into fresh extravagances or rather vices. He formed an acquaintance with a loose woman, and although he was editor of the “Literary Museum,” and connected with a most respectable publisher, the demands upon him became in a short time very large. When he obtained this editorship, he wrote to me asking contributions:

“I put a song of yours,* ‘The Destroying Angel

* In the “New Monthly Magazine,” Vol. III, p. 11. Names were then seldom attached to contributions.

into the ‘Press’ (the newspaper once ‘The Globe and Press’) of this morning; at least, I thought it was yours, one you read the other day. It is good, and has been much liked. Have you heard of
Colton? the brandy spec, of which I spoke has turned out a bad affair. He is missing—excedit, abiit, evasit, eripuit, non est inventus. Empty is thy pulpit, O Kew, and the voice of the preacher shall no more be heard in thy high places! Desolate are the garrets of Princes Street, where never again shall the stranger look upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup! How are the mighty fallen!

“I have a notion of publishing a new edition of Colton’sHypocrisy,’ and dedicating it to himself. The beauty of Issachar is gone, and the virtue of Sophy departed for ever! ‘Blackwood’ is heavy and dull, not much better than the London this month. From what I have read of yours, I think it is livelier than either. This sentence is a lawful hexameter,* as also the two preceding—so good bye, Mr. Cyrus, whether in London or Epirus.”

Had he reflected on his own career, when he thus overcharged the acts of another!

This was the last communication I had from him before he left England. He continued his headlong career until his means were inadequate to meet his expenses. Debt followed. He borrowed of all his friends, even of Talfourd and myself, and the former could then as little afford it as I could, all which Graham well knew. He neglected his literary labours.

* Southey’s lumbering hexameters had before been the subject of general conversation.

His health began to decline, and rapidly. His reflections rendered him reckless. Driven for money, he committed a forgery, and went off to Liverpool to embark for America. He was followed by the officers of justice. A species of good fortune still hovered over his destiny. Though he walked about publicly in Liverpool, and it was reported, went to the theatre, he was not recognised. He embarked, and got to New York in safety, purely through his utter recklessness of what might be his fate, and thus, while wishing himself out of the world, he escaped by daring the worst. Another instance of that good fortune which so often attaches to those unworthy of it, and very rarely, indeed, to undeviating virtue—strange disposition of sublunary dispensations!

I never expected to hear more of one who had thus devoted himself to crime, but within two years after his escape, I received the following letter from New York which I give verbatim:—

“It is one of my greatest miseries that I cannot, in any way, control the waywardness of fortune, which is every day forcing me to violate the most fixed resolutions, and to perpetuate outrages upon the feelings of those who have been my best friends. A young gentleman of New York, being on the eve of making a tour in Europe, has requested letters to London from me, a request I have hitherto avoided, but in this case, refusal or evasion was impossible. I have ventured to write to you. Mr. Hosack belongs to the best family in this city. His father is a celebrated physician and scholar, president of the Rutger’s College, and a man of great wealth and leading. To have refused, would
have subjected me to the most fatal suspicions, or have occasioned a breach of intercourse with the family. This young gentleman is amiable, and well-educated. His letters will shew him to be of the greatest respectability. Don’t judge of him (for God’s sake!) by me. Treat him courteously for his sake and your own, and that is the sole respect I ask for my introduction. He is anxious to know the literary men of all parties,
Campbell, Rogers, Lockhart, Scott, Moore, Hunt, &c., &c. Of myself I need not say anything, and I ask a similar charity of the rest of the world. God bless you, which is more than he has or ever can do for me. Amongst the settled gloom of my life, there are but one or two bright spots. The most agreeable of these, is that which relates to the earlier part of my intercourse with you.

W. G. Graham.”

What an application arising out of the dilemma in which a little forecast would have enabled him to see he had involved himself, had Mr. Hosack delivered the letter to me! He did not; it came to me through the Liverpool Post Office. Another year and the history of this young and gifted man terminated. It appears that he engaged himself upon a periodical work in New York, called ‘The Enquirer,’ when he amply satisfied the proprietors on the score of ability. His father, a merchant of the same city, had died while his son was in England. The latter was born at Catskill, and had studied the law some time, under Barent Gardiner, when he took it into his head to start off for France.
It appears that his career closed suddenly while mingling in good society in New York. He had a dispute with a
Mr. Barton whom he struck, in return for some severe personal observation. A duel ensued, and Graham fell, in the thirty-second year of his age. The night before the duel, he wrote this characteristic letter to the Editor of the “New York Evening Post.”

“Dear Sir,

“What may be the result of the unhappy rencontre which is to take place in the morning between Mr. Barton and myself, cannot of course be predicted by me. In the supposition that it will be fatal, I bid you farewell, in the only language that is now left to me, I am perfectly indifferent as to myself, but I trust most earnestly that Mr. Barton (toward whom I have not the faintest enmity of any kind) may escape. I admit that I am in the wrong—that by giving him a blow, I have forced him into the position of a challenger; and that by not doing what he has, he would have blasted his character as a gentleman for ever. In common justice I am bound thus to absolve him from all suspicion of unbecoming conduct respecting the challenge. The provocation, though slight, was still a provocation, which I could not overlook. It is out of the question for me to explain, retract, or apologize. I will not hear of any settlement short of some abject and craven submission from him. Mr. Barton is a talking man, who dwells very complacently on his own skill as a marksman; on his experience as a duellist, and on his accuracy as a person of ton. I pretend to none of those things, and therefore must oppose the most inflexible obstinacy.
After he is perfectly satisfied, I may, perhaps, apologize—that is, in case I am fatally wounded. It is needless for me to say, I heartily detest and despise this absurd mode of settling disputes, and salving wounds of honour. But what can a poor devil do, except bow to the supremacy of custom?

“God bless you.
W. G. Graham.”

This story has not before been correctly told except in the Monthly Magazine in a short account I gave to the editor.