LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 15: Literary

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
‣ Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
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Here lies * * * *
Who long was a bookseller’s hack;
He led such a d—mn—ble life in this world,
That I don’t think he’ll wish to come back!—Goldsmith.

During the period I have been speaking of, my regular literary occupation was connected with the “Morning Post,” and afterwards with the “British Press;” but I was also a contributor to the “Satirist,” a monthly publication, edited by Mr. George Manners, from whom I subsequently purchased the copyright, and tried my luck with a new series, divested of the personalities and rancour of the old. This purchase was a beautiful example of the bargains made in so business-like a style by literary men. Mr. Manners was a gentleman in every sense of the word, full of fancy and talent, acute and well-informed. For aught I know, he is now a British consul in America. He sold me the magazine, the stock, and the house in which it was published (No. 267, Strand), as folks say, in a lump, the latter being vouched as respectably tenanted. But I turned out not only an unsuccessful speculator in the publication, but a still more unfortunate landlord. My first floor was held by a good-looking mantua-maker, with four or five younger assistants; and they all literally laughed at me when I
called for rent. Not a farthing did I ever get from the concern. My other tenant was the agent for one of the wealthiest mines ever discovered in Wales, but who was equally abstemious in regard to paying for his lodgings; and as I could not suffer him to grin at me, like the ladies upstairs, and threatened him with I know not what; he very civilly bade me farewell, and, as a proof of his confidence, enclosed the large door-key to me in a letter, P.P.A! To end my house-owning adventure,—I possessed it still when the “
Literary Gazette” commenced, and it became the publishing office of Messrs. Pinnock and Maunder,—I disposed of it, and received bills on the Newbury bank for the price. The Newbury bank was robbed, and stopped payment. My bills were non inventus; and it was a dozen years after that the honesty of the parties found means to discharge the debt.

In the way of jobs there were, and I daresay there are, often literary services required of individuals, who become known as writers for the press. Some of them are honourable, some lucrative, and some hardly to be squared with very correct feelings, though not absolutely disreputable. But they are things which, upon after reflection, you would rather wish you had not done, or had anything to do with. I had helped a comrade, hurried to complete his work, a lift in the translation of Staël’s Corinne—a task which repaid itself in the pleasure of performance; but I was not so well satisfied with my next production, though I cannot now recall the grounds of my dissatisfaction—it was the composition of a novel under the title of “New Canterbury Tales,” the material furnished by some captain, or I forget what, and the literary shape given by Mr. Michael Nugent, the undertaker, and myself. Nugent was for many years a reporter, and an exceedingly clever man, thrown
away as the cleverest reporters, unfortunately for themselves and the public, too often are; and I daresay there is nothing seriously objectionable in our joint labour (should a copy still be preserved), though I think it was done to gratify some personal feelings, and avenge some wrongs attributed by the author to the party we were engaged to expose. At the time it seemed like hunting a polecat or badger, but, as I have confessed, did not bear the morrow’s review as a gentlemanly sport. I have, however, dwelt more on the subject than it deserves.

It was better, and more congenial employment, to edit provincial newspapers in London, which, though absurd as it may seem at first sight, is just as effective (with a subeditor on the spot for the local news, &c.) as if the writer resided in the place of publication. For the political intelligence had to come from town, to be handled in the country, and it was quite as easy and expeditious to have the news and the commentaries sent down together. I do not know whether the railroad system, and the greater importance of the leading provincial journals, now, may have altered this practice, but it was previously a source of considerable revenue to the gentlemen engaged in such communications. Thus I edited the “Sheffield Mercury” for a number of years, and at other times a Birmingham, a Staffordshire Pottery, an Irish journal (for which I never was paid), and others in various parts of the country, to the sound edification of their readers, and the entire relief of their proprietors, who had nothing to do but eat their puddings and hold their tongues.

The details of my London contributions to the press, in a subordinate position, could possess but little public interest; and all I shall hope to do, with the sanction of my readers, will be to allow me in future volumes to submit
a selection of such articles (the newspaper phrase comprehending everything), as I may flatter myself are worthy of preservation. They are scattered about in many a quarter; and I never could trace or recover half of them. Even in this, my first volume, I venture to submit one specimen of my extra-harness,* voluntary, votive offerings, which was contributed in aid of an unfortunate brother scribe a good many years ago.

Of my writings in the “Morning Post” the most effective, in one sense, were a continuation of “leaders,” as editorial comments are designated, pending the memorable charges brought by Mr. Wardle, and sustained by the evidence of Mary Anne Clarke. In these I made an abstract of the parliamentary proceedings from night to night, and earnestly maintained the cause of his royal highness against all comers, denouncing the conspiracy against him, and exposing the misdeeds of his enemies. I am not now going to revive the question, nor give my opinion of the measure of weakness on one side, or falsehood on the other. Sorely did the duke prove the truth of the poet, that “Our pleasant vices make instruments to scourge us” as certainly and more severely than our crimes; but the appeal has been made from Philip drunk to Philip sober; and I believe that history will clear the accused from all the grosser stains with which Party and Malicious revenge laboured so fiercely to blacken his character. But be that as it may, the tide of popular resentment ran far too strong at the time to allow of any resistance. The outcry was too loud to admit of any other voice being heard; and though I shouted as vehemently as I could, it would be inconsistent with truth to assert that I succeeded, to any extent, in arresting or modifying the overwhelming current

* See Appendix F.

of condemnation and censure. On the contrary, I do not believe that there is an instance of any journal sinking so rapidly in its circulation as the “Post” did in consequence of my able and spirited articles. In the course of a fortnight I reduced it by more hundreds per diem than it would be expedient even now to state; for I am persuaded that the effects of my lucubrations were not only so potent, but so permanent, that the paper has not yet recovered its palmy condition and wide diffusion: that the work cost me great toil and trouble is a fact not to be disguised. I remained in the House of Commons every night during the whole debates. Thence I went to the office and did my best and worst for the next morning’s publication; and then, generally about three o’clock in the morning, I walked from the Strand to Old Brompton, a fair three miles. One way and another I had my mind engaged, and my pen in my hand, above nineteen hours in the twenty-four; and let me say, the exertion was extraordinary. Towards the conclusion it was so overpowering, that I literally learnt to walk in my sleep, and could, on my way home, pick out the most convenient portions of the road to take a nap en passant! Thus between sleeping and waking, a pint of mulled madeira, and a bit of dry toast, re-invigorated me for the resumption of my task in three or four hours. But my principal,
Mr. Byrne, never failed, nor shrunk from what he conscientiously believed to be his duty, as the following note will testify:—

“Morning Post Office, Saturday Morning.”
Dear Sir,

“Accept my best thanks for your continued friendly and able assistance. I am going to take a run to Brighton this morning, but shall be back to-morrow evening in time, I hope, to do the necessary business. As it is not impos-
sible, however, that I may he delayed on my journey, you will exceedingly oblige me by looking over the Sunday papers (‘
Observer’ and ‘Englishman’), and writing a few observations on the leading intelligence of the day.

“Most truly yours,

Yet in the midst of all this turmoil there were interludes of rather exciting amusement. Mrs. Clarke resided in a house in the King’s Road, a short distance from Sloane Square, on my way to town, and as I happened to have been introduced to her at her sister’s, Mrs. Casey, she thought our acquaintance intimate enough to excuse an invitation for me to call upon her. Such a chance, when all the world were crazy to have only a glance at the Leonne of the day, was not to be thrown away, and accordingly I very soon waited upon the lady. Her object, as may be surmised, was to neutralize my pen, and the wiles to which she resorted would make a delicious chapter in the history of woman’s ingenuity. I found myself as a bird, I suppose may do when caught in a net; but the meshes were of many shapes and kinds, and reticulated with infinite skill and cunning. Wheedling confidential secrets, allurements, prospects of advantage, piquant familiarities, recherché treats, and lies. Never was a greater variety of artillery brought to bear upon a newspaper scribbler; and, at least, Madame so far accomplished her wishes, that I did moderate my tone about her personal performances, and was debarred from using other intelligence, lest it might be said that I stole it from the enemy’s camp. And a queer camp it was: the resort of dozens of M.P.’s, and of curious strangers, as ambitious of favourable reception as the most eminent legislators of the realm. Though all
agreed in one pursuit, or rather in two pursuits, the downfal of the commander-in-chief, and the smiles of the modern
Aspasia, there was, nevertheless, no small modicum of envy, jealousy, backbiting, and all uncharitableness among themselves. Thus I remember the patriot Wardle, it was whispered, had seduced a Miss R * * * * * * when on a visit to his wife, of which the éclât was heightened by the young lady’s being taken ill at a party, and producing some new music on the occasion. Mr. Biddulph was grossly ridiculed about some three hundred pounds he had foolishly invested on Dalilah promises; and Lord Folkstone, and others less prominent, hardly escaped with credit from this capital realization of the “School for Scandal.” It was part of the “dodge” to make me laugh at these and similar jokes; and I must confess to some merry and beguiling hours spent in the society of Mary Anne Clarke; so that, between her and me and the “Post,” I fear the illustrious Duke lost a trifle in the violence of his defence.

A visit from the 30th of June to the 24th of July, which I had the pleasure to pay to the mess of the 95th Rifle Regiment, at Hythe, in 1809, was an incident of exceeding interest to me. From a soldier’s welcome, in that short time, I became intimate with many gallant fellows who were lost in the ill-fated Walcheren expedition, and, within a few later years, shed lustre on their names and glorified their country in the Peninsular Campaigns. Methinks I see them now on the heights of Hythe, the most animated of human kind. The early morning bugle called them from their tents and barracks; their duties were attended to; and all else was gaiety and happiness. Dinners, parties, balls,—
How stands the glass around?
For shame, you take no care my boy;
Let mirth and wine abound;
* * *
and the expectation of being soon in active service, were enough to raise to fever height the spirits of the brave band in whose society I passed these few weeks. Wade, Travers, Perceval, Miller, Pemberton, Duncan, Stewart, Macgregor, and others, had their meed in the battle bulletins from Spain, whence few returned to enjoy the laurels they had so nobly earned, and some of these so crippled and weakened by wounds, as to be little better than the phantoms of the joyous, healthy, flesh and blood athletes, who in all the pride of early manhood and strength, were riding, swimming, and performing with ease the most fatiguing exercises of their corps, and feats of great activity and vigour, only some brief months before. I marched with my friends to their embarkation at Deal, and but for matters of absolute necessity overcoming my excited enthusiasm, would certainly have accompanied them on the expedition. As it was, I rejoiced in their company to the last, slept for two or three nights on board the Superb and Seraphis ships of the line, under the auspices of Dr. Gaunt (a fellow surgeon with my uncle); took a run up to Canterbury, and on the way back saw Blue Peter flying, and the departure of the grandest fleet that ever sailed, at once, from the shores of England. Above three hundred vessels spread their wings to the wind, and from North Foreland to South, the Channel was one cluster of moving vessels—a sight never to be forgotten, whilst “memory holds a seat.”