LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 4: London

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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To London once my steps I bent,
Where trouth in no wyse should be faint.
* * * * *
Then into London I dyd me bye,
Of all the land it beareth the pryse—
Hot pescods one began to crye,
Straberry rype and cherryes in the ryste.

The effect of the intercourse stated in last chapter, was to fill my imagination with a restless longing to try my fortune in London, instead of going to Edinburgh to prosecute legal studies. My importunities were, as usual, yielded to, and on my birthday in the spring of 1801, I left home and sailed from Berwick in a smack, and, though steam was not, in due time, i.e., in nine days, happily reached the Metropolis, and was landed at the wharf in Wapping. My uncle, Mr. Stuart, being in town from his ship, took charge of the stranger, and after seeing the lions, I was introduced by his acquaintance and our townsman, Mr. John Robertson, a prosperous insurance broker, to the West Indian Merchant House of Messrs. Samuel, Samuel and Charles Turner, and engaged as a clerk, at the salary of fifty pounds a year. It is curious that in Mr. Robertson’s office, where for a preceding week or fortnight I was
initiated into the business ways and paths of London,
Mr. John Pirie was clerk; whilst in the saddler’s shop of Mr. Pollock, at Charing Cross, Mr. Peter Laurie was foreman; and that both came to be Lord Mayor. Pirie was a native of Dunse, but served in Kelso as shopman to Mr. Nicol, a grocer, whose daughter he afterwards married; and Laurie was a native of Stitchell, near Kelso, and claimed a sort of distant Scotch cousinship with me, which I jocularly said I would, and was proud to, acknowledge when he was Chief Magistrate of the City. I had the pleasure of attending their inauguration dinners in the Guild Hall, and was as vain of Tweedside as if Gog and Magog had been born and bred on its pastoral banks, which seemed as likely to breed Giants as Lord Mayors.

In Messrs. Turners’ counting house, City Chambers, I found a perfect sample of the quiet, contented and sedulous London clerk: a Mr. Drew, dressed in a brown Quakerish garb, and ever most punctually attentive to his day-books and ledgers, his dinner-hour and all his other duties. The Mr. Samuel Turner, Junior, at the opposite desk, took an active share in the concern; the senior member of the firm saw parties in an inner apartment, and I filled up the establishment, seated on a high stool near Mr. Drew. Mr. Charles Turner, now the candidate for the representation of Liverpool, was, if I remember rightly, only an occasional aid in the counting-house service, in my time, which lasted, strange to say, nearly a whole year. For I was, indeed, a bungling accountant, and unprofitable help even in letter copying or other routine employment. As heretofore, the consequence was, that instead of being, as I deserved, sent about my business, my warm-hearted employers chose to overlook all my imperfections, and on finding that I was not cut out for a merchant, chose
to adopt me as a favourite, affording the promise of some distinction in some more congenial pursuit. I believe I was caught writing verses, as I had been trying to do since I was twelve years old, and bad as they must have been, they proved an excuse for having me at Mr. Turner’s residence in Great Ormonde Street, where I became acquainted with the wealthy magnates of Antigua, such as the Athills, and other persons of rank and station who formed the refined and social circle of that truly enjoyable mansion. Dr. Turner, the eminent physician, was one of the family, and I think the
Duke of Ancaster (though I might only have heard of his grace), and Mr. Bertie Greathead, were frequent guests. The latter found me out as I was viewing the beauties of Guy’s Cliff, five-and-twenty years afterwards, and reminding me of past times, insisted on hospitable entertainment to myself and the friend who accompanied me, Mr. Orme, of Paternoster Row, when we had the farther good fortune to share it with the celebrated Dr. Parr.

But my most partial friend in the city was Mr. S. Turner, junior, who seemed absolutely to enjoy my blunders and encourage my vagaries. If I disliked the movements of reptile turtles which I had not seen before, it was rare fun; and if I spoilt a cask of madeira by ignorantly breaking several dozen of whole eggs into it to fine it, the laugh against me appeared to make amends for the loss, or deterioration of the wine. How kindly all these things were remembered, was shown in a way which afforded me intense gratification. When the British Association visited Dublin, Sir John Tobin liberally placed a steamer at the disposal of members who went by Liverpool, to convey them to their destination. It was altogether a memorable voyage, and one not to be forgotten by the joyous passengers.
Captain Denham commanded the vessel, and Mr. Turner acted as the locum tenens of its owner. Among the “savans” were
Adam Sedgwick, Colonel Dick of New Orleans, in my care, and thirty or forty gentlemen of scientific distinction. A sumptuous déjeûner was given on board, and after toasting the healths of greater importance, Mr. Turner did me the honour of proposing mine, which he prefaced with a ludicrous account of my mercantile incapacities, and then complimenting me on having (as he was pleased to think and say) attained a laudable position in my country’s literature, he claimed for himself all the alleged merits of my literary career. “Praise from Sir Hubert Stanley,” writes the poet, “is praise indeed,” and I do not know that I ever in my life felt such entire gratitude and satisfaction, as in this public testimony of esteem which embraced the brief epoch of my early merchant trial; nor was it rendered less grateful by being well received by those to whom it was addressed.

I have mentioned that the voyage between Liverpool and Dublin was memorable, and it would look egotistical and vain-glorious, indeed, were I to verify the statement by only a tribute to Self: I will therefore add another anecdote. On board the steamer were the captain’s lady, Mrs. Denham, and baby but a few weeks old. As we got towards the outer buoy, of the number with which Capt. Denham has so scientifically indicated the safe channels and dangerous shoals off this coast, from one of them we heard the ringing of a bell, which we learned was a signal; but to us it bore the semblance of ringing the people to church on this beautiful Sunday forenoon, and as it happened that the baby had not been christened, it was unanimously voted that the holy ceremony should be performed there and then, in the midst of its father’s masterly improvements
for the safety of mariners in the navigation of the Mersey. With some little difficulty
Mr. Sedgwick was prevailed upon to officiate, as he entertained some apprehension lest the sacred rite might not be performed in a proper manner and with all the solemnity that ought ever to attend it, and fresh water being found, he proceeded to give the new Christian his name. The discourse he pronounced on the occasion was one of the most eloquent and impressive that ever was delivered; and the baptism, like the burial at sea, produced a sensation far more touching than could have been excited by the ablest divine on shore in the customary manner with which daily use has made us familiar. A collection of autographs was gathered from the witnesses, and having obtained the privilege of nursing the baby a little, I retired with him to the cabin, put the pen into his hand, and guided it to the youngest signature on record. He is now a fine promising fellow, and has recently, under most promising auspices, entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman; and if the rest of his naval career be as remarkable as his launch, his country will hear much more of the feats of Admiral Denham!

From this episode I must revert to 1801, and London. As might be anticipated, my intimacy with the Pollock family was cultivated and improved, and their father’s hospitable roof was all but a home to me. Their friends and acquaintances became my friends and acquaintances; I visited with the elders as if I had been their son, and with one or more of the younger branches I passed the time spared by my clerkly occupations in the City. David was called to the bar of the Middle Temple, where his chambers, No. 5, Elm Court, were almost as much occupied by me as by their legal owner. William, who died in early manhood, was destined to be the successor in trade, and possessed his
full share of the talent of the brotherhood: great acuteness, and a nice sense of the ludicrous and satirical, were his prominent characteristics, and these he inherited from his sire; but, as in most cases where superior ability or genius are seen to run in the blood, my more eminent companions derived their higher qualities from the mother’s side. She deserved to have such children.
Frederick had somewhat of an escape from the holy profession, which was spoken of, lest there being two brothers pursuing the same career in the law might interfere with the prospects of each other; but fortunately wiser counsels prevailed, and the present Lord Chief Baron was committed to Cambridge. My voice, as far as it was worth aught, was strenuous for this course, and, with the presumption of youth, I always chose to consider myself as having, by earnestness of argument, contributed to this most auspicious issue, which was truly arrived at through other and more valid inducements. A younger brother still was George, who soon departed as a cadet for India; that empire, which when the true history of its wars is written, will be found to have been saved by his great military talents, his sagacity, and firmness under trials that would have paralysed almost any other commander. I write this advisedly, and from a knowledge of facts relating to the Khyber Pass, which have not yet been made known to the public. We have some ideas, indeed, of the daring responsibility of the advance, and of the surrounding difficulties and perils of the march, but we have not yet heard of an incipient mutiny in two or three regiments, suppressed by the firmness and tact of the general, a whisper of which would have turned the arms of his Sikh allies against him; and with the hordes of thousands of the hill tribes hanging on every quarter, must have led to the total destruction of the army. A position of greater peril and glory can hardly
be imagined. He ignored or misunderstood the directions to retreat; he satisfied the mutineers, in separate interviews, by assurances of redress of their grievances, on which they relied (had he paraded them for the purpose all would have been lost); and as soon as every thing was sure, he hurried his motley and nearly disorganised force on to victory, to the salvation of terrified captives, and to the re-establishment of British supremacy over the Eastern world. This was the work of one man. The youngest of the brothers was John, who now discharges the duties of an official appointment, in a manner to show that there is no degeneracy in his case.

I have indulged in this retrospect because I take it for granted that my readers, like myself, will feel an interest in the early years of a family which has raised itself to so much distinction and honour. Three knighthoods, and the highest ranks in the legal and military professions—not without just claims to more had it been eligible for themselves—are striking examples of the best and most valuable principles of the British Constitution; and when we look upon the elevation of such races as the Wellesleys, the Malcolms, the Napiers, and the Pollocks, we feel that the safety and grandeur of our country rest upon that solid foundation, the union and ambition of a whole people, to every member of which the way is open for all that could be desired in golden opinions, and wealth, and dignity, and immortal fame.

But I would fain draw another inference from these gratifying sights, and especially invite the attention of juvenile readers to them, as very powerful inducements to the culture of brotherly kindness and love. How often are families kept down or wrecked by the selfish apathies or quarrels of their members; and, on the other hand, how
much are they benefitted, and how nobly do they rise when the warm affections, cherished in the home circle, teach them throughout life to love, and use their utmost efforts to help each other. Thus the fortunes of one make the fortunes of all, and humanity is graced by the holy example.