LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 17: Contributors

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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Friend! desert not thou the Muse!
Shun not—scorn not—her control!
Thou the yellow drop may’st lose,
But thou’lt gain the wealth of soul.
What is gold unless it bring
More than gold has ever brought?
What is gold, if to it cling
Narrower vision—meaner thought?

In one of my “Gazettes” in April this year there is a review of “The Arctic Expeditions,” a poem, by Miss Porden, the first wife of Sir John Franklin, and mother of his only daughter, which contains some lines touchingly applicable to the present hour:—

“Give to mankind the inhospitable zone,
And Britain’s trident plant in seas unknown.
Go, sure wherever science fills the mind,
Or grief for man long severed from his kind,*
That anxious nations watch the changing gales,
And prayers and blessings swell your flagging sails.”

* Alluding to the inhabitants of lost Greenland, should any exist; and most singularly applicable now to the gallant officer to whom they were addressed.


The following is almost prophetic of a condition of things we may all so promptly imagine, and deplore—

“Oh, did its sons, beneath the withering gale,
Behold each year their scantier herbage fail!
The South, still wont with light and joy to bring,
The friendly ships, the short, yet fruitful Spring,
Changed to their keenest blast . . . .
“Oh, has their sight
Been strained o’er glowing realms of dreary white!
While each clear iceberg, floating o’er the main,
Seem’d a white sail, and wakened hope again;
Till, fancied outcasts, both of heaven and man,
Even to their hearts the piercing coldness ran.
O’er blasted fields they rolled their stiffening eyes,
And sunk, the victims of unpitying skies.
“Or have they lived, to prove the Almighty hand
Showers blessings ev’n on that secluded land,—
That fortitude can warm that frozen air,
And clothe with food that region of despair.”

I was well acquainted with Miss Porden at this time, and when she wrote her epic of Cœur de Lion, and also with her father, an able architect; and just before Sir John Franklin departed it gave me a pleasing reminiscence to meet Miss Franklin (who has since changed her name), with her enthusiastic stepmother, Lady Franklin, at the house of the most eminent of all the arctic and antarctic explorers, Sir James Clarke Ross. The painful interest now attached to these regions surpasses aught from the time of their first accidental discovery in 1380, by the Venetian brothers Lani, through all the voyages of the Cabots, Willoughby, Burroughs, Frobisher, Pett (who was never more heard of) and Jackman, Davis, Barent, Hudson, Button, Baffin, and others, to the brave and dauntless efforts of our own countrymen in our own day. Alas, for the mystery and gloom that impends over the fate of the gallant Franklin and Crozier and their intrepid companions; rendered almost
romantically dreadful by the vague stories of phantom ships seen traversing the ocean, bound to eternal ice!

At this period died John Gifford, author of the “Life of Pitt,” and a number of popular political pamphlets, and other productions, besides being founder and editor of the “Anti-Jacobin Review,” and a police magistrate. From the similarity of name he was sometimes confounded with William Gifford, the translator of “Juvenal,” author and editor of many works of the highest reputation, besides being the redoubtable editor of the “Quarterly Review,” who used to be much displeased with any mistake of their identities. Truly, there was no comparison, and well was it written of William, that
“He peopled with the blockhead throng
That stern creation of satyric song,”
which put to flight
“That long-eared rout, the Delia Cruscan host;”
and still more deserved to hear that
Persius is his, and Juvenal arrays
His honoured temples in a living blaze;
His the firm, song where genius feels her scope,
And England glories in a second Pope.*
I frequently met John Gifford; a generally well-informed gentleman, who had seen much of the world, and could tell much about it; with William I became intimate, and continued a friendship (which will furnish me hereafter with some literary matter) to the close of his life.

On setting out with the Gazette I naturally consulted several friends, and from one of them (who has since then

* See Appendix.

led a distinguished literary and public life), I received and acted upon the following hints.

My Dear Sir,

“ . . . . You are welcome to any assistance I can give to its success as a volunteer. If it should gradually look more promising, then is time enough for any arrangement which you may consider as the most suitable to the part which I may take. I may not be fully acquainted with the general line you have adopted, but it appears to me that detached essays of whatever excellence are not the most judicious features of such a work. For facility and for interest everything should have a reference to, and take as its groundwork some matter which has already engaged the public mind. This of course affords a large liberty of choice, but independently of passing topics, critical surveys of the works of persons who feel their credit more than commonly engaged in their works appear to me likely to excite the strongest curiosity. I do not know for instance whether you have seen Lord Thurlow’s poems; a slight permeation of these would certainly awaken his lordship, and every man who thinks him worth looking or laughing at, to the book in which they were criticised. I would undertake those affairs, when you found it convenient to point them out to me. The spirit of such a criticism of course might be anything but solemnly literary; a light examination of the subject, a light occasional wandering from it into one’s own speculations, and a light ridicule, should be all that was to be admitted. I leave the filling up of the idea with you.

“I go to the fête to-morrow, and shall have much pleasure in going with you, if you can contrive to be ready in time; we should not leave town later than three o’clock, at the latest.

“Believe me, &c.

I hare already mentioned Mr. Canning’s advice to shun polemical and political discussion; and thus, acting on the suggestions of the wise and good, and following the bias of my own inclination and tastes, the “Gazette” increased, though not rapidly, in circulation, and the superior classes of the educated and intelligent who were addicted to literature, began to take a more marked interest in its progress. Correspondence and contributions multiplied, and able men in various walks of arts and sciences lent their aid, to facilitate my operations. Thus I find Professor Brande, in Chemistry; Mr. (Sir David) Brewster, a very old friend, in Kaleidoscope invention, and other philosophical inquiries of a higher order; Robert G. Clarke, in historical researches; Mr. Carey in the Fine Arts; Mr. Dagley in the same, and in all kinds of disquisition, grave and humorous, in prose and verse; Professor Faraday, Professor Millington, Sir Charles Morgan, Mr. Mudford, Mr. Cyrus Redding, Mr. Gaspey, Mr. Walter Henry Watts, Mr. Duppa, Mr. S. W. Singer, Mr. Laird, Mr. Andrew Robertson, the miniature painter, Lord Buchan, and through him M. Millin at Paris, Mr. Upcott, afterwards so celebrated as an autograph collector, Mr. Ilbery, who had been his fellow-librarian under Porson at the London Library in the Old Jewry, and a very intelligent man, and others, whom to name and describe would occupy more space than I need allot to the list; all helping me on my untrodden way. Suffice it to notice; that some of them have risen to such eminence as to require no panegyric beyond their announcement, while nearly all the rest were active and useful workers in their time, and will be found honourably recorded in the repertories of literature, sciences, and arts. Saturn, it is mythologically and allegorically stated, ate up his children; and in the true history of more recent and
civilised, not pagan, man, it is seen that generation eats up generation in succession, and the busy crowd of human bees throw off their swarms and perish; the aforesaid swarms having to do for themselves, and regarding little of the past. Thus it happens that many of the individuals of whom I have spoken and shall speak in these pages, who filled prominent parts on the grand life-theatre of their day, may be unknown, even in the brief lapse of thirty or forty years, to their successors, who are now playing similar parts; yet did they exercise a considerable influence on the spirit of the times, and on the progress of society throughout the world. The greater and smaller wheels are all necessary to the wonderful machine; though the latter, in the swift and engrossing course of events, are too apt to be too soon forgotten—some, perhaps, to be revived again, with thankful remembrance for what they have performed.

But, as I have observed, the period of which I am treating was a poetical era. Campbell, Scott, Southey, Byron, Moore, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Sotheby, Bowles, Crabbe, Hogg, Montgomery, Wilson, Lockhart, Croly, and other lesser lights, were in their prime, flourishing and productive, and a younger race was entering on their career of fame. Already rich in poetic association, it was to the latter that I turned with genial affection and regard; and even from this early date it is the proud boast of the “Literary Gazette,” that it cherished and brought forward much of that genius which has given, and will long continue to give, infinite delight to millions. In 1818, that periodical was enriched by a number of fine compositions by the author of the admired poem of “Paris in 1815;”* by the earliest

* Published in the Collection of Croly’s Poetical Works. 2 vols. Colburn & Bentley. 1830.

effusions of
Barry Cornwall (Procter);* by productions of Read, author of the “Hill of Caves,” a poet of power, who ought to have written more to charm the public; by playful tales and apologues from R. Dagley, and by occasional pieces from Polwhele, Crabbe, Miss Mitford, Neele, Beresford, Trin. Coll. Cambridge, Chandos (Lord) Leigh, Fitzadam, the seaman of melancholy memory, Knowles, who died too young, and anonymous hands from all parts of the kingdom, of which the merits were such as to entitle them to juxtaposition with such flowers and fruits of song as made the regular exhibition of my weekly garden.

Two other circumstances occurred within the year, to raise the character of the journal in public estimation and repute. The first was an original translation of the Remarks of the Austrian Arch-Dukes’ (John and Lewis) tour in England* by Mr. Lloyd, of the Foreign Post-Office, my indefatigable coadjutor for many a year, through his laborious diligence, and that of Miss Ross (daughter of William Ross,† an old

* Some of which only that have appeared in many Gazettes are preserved in the “English Songs, and other small Poems.’” Edition published last year by Chapman & Hall.

Ross and I were always good friends; for I never found politics or differences of opinion provoke enmities in my breast; and yet, at the time alluded to, he was a red-hot republican, though, like most others, he, too, cooled down in later years. One evening, in the gallery of the House of Commons, he was pointing out, to a curious stranger, the distinguished members sitting below; and, among the rest, Mr. (Sir Benjamin) Hobhouse. “That,” said he, “is the man of the people, who will stick to us to the last. If all the rest are faithless, he will ‘be faithful found.’” On the following week he accepted a Government office!! Under all circumstances, however, he was the stanchest and most efficient friend to the Literary Fund, for the prosperity of which I acted in unison with him for a number of years, as may be related more at length hereafter; but, even in 1818, was beneficially exerted. The Duke of Somerset had rank, but was a rather indolent and “slow” President; and the interests of the Fund languished in consequence. I wrote and wrought earnestly to arouse the prevailing lethargy; and Sir B. Hobhouse was a firm and powerful ally. 1157l. odd were consequently procured within the year, and above 820l. devoted to the relief of unfortunate authors; and

reporter on the “
Times,” who was nearly compromised as a secretary to the famed Corresponding Society, at the time of the French Revolution), whose talents were of a sound order, especially for a youthful female, and who still, I believe, performs able though unostensible duties in the republic of letters.

The other circumstance which helped to advance the “Gazette,” was the commencement of that series of smart and graphic sketches of society, entitled “The Hermit in London,” the hint for which was taken from my “Paris Spectator.” They were begun in No. 77, July 11th, and with a bit of flourish of trumpets, of which I was the blower, though it was in fact, my copartner, Mr. Colburn, who put the instrument to my mouth. I, however, declared on his “authority,” (page 444) for I have always been a little doubtful on the subject of publishers’ announcements, that the papers were received from and “written by a person of distinguished rank and title.” What was much more to my satisfaction, I perceived that they were the production of an acute and observant author, who had mixed much with “the world” and its upper strata, and could draw very clever and original pictures from real life, and lively

Fitzgerald’s annual recitation (so often made the subject of too undistinguishing ridicule), dwelt upon the wrongs and sufferings of the literary classes:—

“But of all wants with which mankind is curst,
The accomplished Scholar’s are, by far, the worst;
For generous pride compels him to control
And hide the worm that gnaws his very soul.
Though Fortune in her gifts to him is blind,
Nature bestows nobility of mind,
That makes him rather endless ills endure,
Than seek from meanness a degraded cure!
Yet from his unrequited labours flow
Half we enjoy, and almost all we know.”

There was, and is, and ever will be, reason in these rhymes, drawn from a kind-hearted witness of much of the misery he sung and deplored.

representations of the manners of various circles, without trenching upon private matters or personalities. That, like the performances of the “Persons of Quality” of older times, they required some corrections, licking into shape, and pointing, was no obstacle. The material was to the purpose, and it required little trouble to brush it up for display and sale. The author was a
Captain Macdonough, and his Hermit became at once so popular as to produce a very gratifying addition to the Gazette, and one no less agreeable to that repose from actual service which is uncomfortably designated “half-pay.” Above twenty of the essays appeared before the close of the year.

The opening of our columns to poetical contributions, though hardly credible to the unpoetical spirit, or rather want of spirit, now pervading the land, had a considerable influence on the progress of the Gazette; and some specimens of dramatic criticism and discussions on the works of great dramatic writers had also a favourable effect. But as I have said, the advance, though encouraging, was neither rapid nor remunerative; yet it was so tempting as to provoke imitation of a piratical description, and fraudulent external appearance, in London; and in Paris it was translated nearly verbatim and published under another name. But the rose in neither case happened to smell as sweet; and our rivals and copyists soon withered on their stalks, as did others who in after times essayed the same walk in literature, and some of them with very commendable talent.

It was no wonder that, living in such an atmosphere of verse as I have described, I should myself be more than ever bitten with the cacoethes scribendi; and as an editor has nobody to control, reject, or amend his lucubrations, I presume that I took advantage of my privileges to insert the subjoined two pieces in one number; calculated, as I
daresay I thought at the time, to display my sportive and my melancholic capabilities. Ex. gr.:—

Thrice red that blossom is, alas!
And thrice red has it been:
Red in the grape—red in the glass—
Red on thy nose, ’tis seen.
Ah, Tom! at that red, red, red blot
Thy well-wishers bewail;
They say the redness of that spot
’Tis makes thy poor wife pale.

The jocular may pass, but I know not what the critical verdict may be on the serious:—

“Life is a dream,” and “rounded by a sleep”—
A heavy sleep—and Oh! a sorrowing dream,
And wild, and fevered! Be its closing deep—
Oblivious as Lethe’s fabled stream,
Untroubled by one soul-reviving beam,
Lest I should wake again to some new race
Vexed as the past,—of which I well might deem
’Twas as Night’s broken minutes, through whose space
Things hideous, fearful, agonising, all held place.
Yet, innocent and beautiful, the forms
In opening vision o’er my senses play;
Serene the heavens, as if there ne’er were storms,
And bright, as if eternal were the day.
“With my companions how I bound away—
Rude-laughing at each freak, careless and free!
Ah, merry little fools, in frolic gay,
How we disport, brimful of Nature’s glee!
I wake. ’Tis past—’tis gone—the dream of Infancy!
Arcadian bowers! Were ever bowers so fair
As these I thread? “Was ever painted mead
Like these I move upon,—whose flowerets rare
All that the earth e’er perfected exceed?
Such gorgeous colours, and such shapes, indeed,
As win the eye to gaze, as if delight
Would ceaseless on the dazzling wonder feed—
Increasing! while, to spoil this scene so bright
Is near nor sting, nor thorn, nor snake, nor envious blight.
And on my arm She leans, who, fairer still,
Makes all this paradise,—my promised bride—
Soul-joined, of love and joy we prate our fill,
As wandering all adown that river’s side;
Years coming like its pure waves’ placid glide.
Ah, faithless bank! why tempted I thy brink?
Precipitate, and plunging in the tide,
Love’s dream is o’er! I struggle, gasp, and sink;
And she her troth and faith doth with another link!
A shadowy Spectre, of tremendous power,
Approaches dimly. Stretching forth an arm
Impalpable, its ringer points an hour.
It drags me on, resistless. Magic’s charm
Hath not, nor ever had, such gift of harm.
That hour is Death, and all between is pain,
Racking the joints, freezing the life-blood warm.
Thou art Disease— thou spectre of the brain—
Night’s grimly visitant—in life man’s direst bane.
Horror! ’tis on my limbs, my breast, my soul,
The fell Hag rides; nor motion, breath, nor life
Are mine;—so dead and heavy her control,
I cannot even groan for help. Her knife
Is in my heart. Pangs through each nerve are rife.
Exulting see the demon bloat and swell
O’er the poor victim’s faint and dying strife!
Her name the Night-mare, as weak dreamers tell!
But Poverty it is, which makes this world a hell.
“Were not the power to shriek for help denied,
How friends would rush to chase the fiend afar!
With such I converse hold, though yet untried,
Whose sympathies congenial know no jar,
But, born beneath an influencing star,
Admiring, loving, hating each the same;
Fix’d in esteem, no accident can mar;
Ready to aid, as either aid may claim.
All human parallels, and differing but in frame.
From books, from social bliss, to Nature’s store
We range together. Now, the bright-orb’d sky
We scan with wonder, and its Lord adore;
Now, Earth we meditate; now, Ocean eye,
In all its grandeur, from this rock on high,
Whence to the shore dare scarcely Fancy creep.
Yet, down the impaling precipices I
Am hurl’d! “Friends, help!” They dash’d me o’er the steep,
And mock these dreams—thank Heaven, “all rounded by a sleep!”

The readers of my memoirs will, I hope, he so good as pardon the quotation of my own productions; the vanity of which I candidly own. But besides the personal desire to show that I have written some tolerable things in my time, which are scattered unacknowledged and unknown in many publications, and am not quite undeserving of a niche among the minores gentes on the outskirts of Parnassus, I wish it to be understood that I have had some pretensions to deliver my opinion upon the productions of others—seeing that I have myself attempted as much as to enable me to understand their difficulties and their triumphs.

My lines, I have no doubt, were inspired by some disappointment of friendly succour, at this time when my resources were unsettled and insufficient; and I felt as the poet from whom I have headed the chapter expresses it:—

Had he no friend? Oh! yes:
Pity which hates all noise, and Sorrow, like
The enamouring marble that wraps virgin mould,
And palest Silence, who will weep alone,
And all sad friends of Death, were friends to him!

The world is full of such false sentiment and friends bearing the name without the moving principle. Bah! Show me friends like the old Scotch lady, who, in the unhappy civil war, hearing some one pray “God defend the right,” fervently exclaimed in the true spirit of friendship, “God defend the right? God defend Hamilton’s regiment, whether right or wrong!”