LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch 21: My Writings

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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The wearie traveller, wandering that way,
Therein did often quench his thirsty heat,
And then by it his wearie limbs display,
Whiles creeping Slombre made him to forget
His former payne, and wypt away his toilsome sweat.

The story was told of A—— B——, that having been long in India, and chiefly occupied on distant missions up the country, he knew little or nothing of England when he returned. So, rejoicing in the meeting with one of his old schoolfellows, the inquiries, as usual, ran upon their fortunes or conditions. “How is C—— D—— doing?” asked the Indian; “he was a fine steady boy, and so good-natured.” “Ah!” replied his companion, “it is a sad case, he was transported for a very serious offence.” “Good heavens! how sorry I am to hear this! but E—— T——, that pattern of all that was honourable, what has become of him?” “Oh, Lord! don’t mention him; he was hanged for an atrocious crime, about ten years ago, and one’s only hope now is, that the event may be passing on into the common bucket of oblivion.” “Shocking, shocking! My poor old mates! I dare not ask about that wicked, racketty d—l, G—— H——. I presume he must have been drawn and quartered?” “Pooh, quite the
reverse! G—— H—— is at this moment Archbishop of York!” [A fact!] So various, though in minor degrees, have been the fates of those who pass before my reflecting glass! But I have room for no more in this volume, and must bide my time for pastures new, till the gloomy month of November, which I trust to enliven a bit with my third tome; an author whose immense number of works, as appeared by their backs, excited the astonishment of a casual reader on the shop shelves of
Cadell and Davies! Besides Messrs. Bradbury and Evans, the printers, make me the welcome signal to wind up, which I rejoice to do thus shortly.

It continued to be an up-hill fight with the world, and I consequently got more and more in love with the literature that absorbed me, and shut out vexatious thoughts. A law bill of 88l. odd, for “Sun” litigation, did not contribute to my ease; though two of the items were: “Writing Mr. Taylor to make up quarterly accounts, and settle with you; and fair copy delivered by hand, 5s.”—“Writing Mr. Taylor for half a year’s salary, and copy delivered by hand, 5s.” There was no hand ready on the other side!

Another inconvenience sprung up to annoy me; for our publishers and shareholders in the “Literary Gazette,” Messrs. Pinnock and Maunder, were so immersed in their own extensive concerns with Catechisms and Histories, all over the country, that they found but little time for keeping the “Gazette” accounts. Thus the very trifling income which it afforded me, came to be more uncertain and precarious; and bills, given to stop gaps till the books could be posted and balanced, &c., were frequently only turnstiles opening into paths of difficulty and trouble. I observe that in my first year my receipts were 109l., and the sale of the
paper close upon one thousand stamped, and two hundred and fifty unstamped. Next year, the circulation increased considerably, yet still the returns did not raise the supplies above some 50l. more; and, but for other literary engagements, such as writing a weekly leader for the “Staffordshire Potteries Gazette,” Rose Cottage might have assumed the name of Bleak House. As it was, there was no superabundance; and I quitted it soon for Queen’s Buildings, Brompton. Horse was sold, and matters crept on. Of my way of taking the rough with the smooth, the following sketch of the pleasures and pains of editors of periodicals, may serve to furnish an idea.

“Delightful task.”—Thomson.
“Hail plural unit.”—Colman.

“Even in this immense metropolis there are not more than a score or two, and in the chief places of the kingdom not a greater number than from one to five of the entire population, who know anything of the pleasures we are about to describe. To the great majority of readers, therefore, this exposition must possess the grand charm of novelty.

“In the first place, the joys of Editors are very widely spread and general; in fact, they are made the happiest of living creatures—by being requested to publish such intimations as the following, sent to them expressly, as it should seem, for their gratification:—

“‘We rejoice to hear that the MS. poem of A. B. is in
such a state of forwardness that it may positively be expected to issue from the press this winter.’

“‘It gives, or affords, us the highest pleasure to be able to state that Mr. C. D. intends to add another book to his exquisite treatise on morbid affections.’

“‘Nothing could inspire us with greater delight than to be able to state that that eminent artist E. F. has arrived in safety from Italy, where the contemplation of the great masters has added new powers even to his magic pencil.’

“‘The public will learn with the same heart-felt satisfaction which we feel in announcing it, that the accomplished Miss G. H. has recovered from her indisposition, and will immediately resume her duties in the fashionable world.’

“‘We are at once astonished and enraptured by J. K.’s last lecture on the diseases of the bladder. We understand he begins his new course on the 1st of April next.’

“And so on through the whole alphabet, and the whole circle of literature, arts and sciences.

“We are, it is true, sometimes said to he sorry, but in that case, there is invariably a hope attached to us, a land of promise at the end of the desert;—thus

“‘We are sorry to find that the Rev. L. M. is prevented by the gout from finishing his grand work on the prophecies; but have reason to hope that the delay will be short, and the publication rendered more perfect every day it remains in the hands of its classic author.’

“‘We lament to learn that N. O.’s famous picture of the Bombardment* of Jerusalem will not grace the ensuing Exhibition; but the lovers of the arts will be consoled with us on being informed that it may be seen at his residence, No. 717, next door to the Ophthalmia Hospital in the

* Why not bombard Jerusalem?

Regent’s Park, and that many sublime touches have recently been added to this masterly composition.’

“Being compelled ex officio to sympathise in print with all the hypothetical happinesses (heaven knows how few in reality!) of authors, artists, players, lecturers, publishers, picture-dealers, cognoscenti, exhibitors, teachers, fiddlers, and hunters after popularity of every kind; feeling all their little troubles, and more than partaking in all their great hopes: watching their motions, as it were, and recording their progress with a maternal anxiety; comforting the public when they are not immediately prominent, with the assurance that they will shortly be so, and being enraptured with their stupendous merits when they do come forward with any labour—these are the mere first links of our intimate connection with everything in the above lines.

Our opinions are of mighty importance.

“After seeing the midnight lamp expire in reading P’s MSS. preparing for the press, we are rapped out of bed at seven o’clock by Q. determined not to present his medals to the world, without consulting us on the merits (so that we too must ‘stand the hazard’) of the dye. R. invites us to inspect his show-room six miles off, in a miry suburb, before he erects his national monument to the memory of Tom Thumb the Great, our knowledge of the original and historical information rendering our judgment on the subject so truly desirable. Our meals are interrupted, our retirement broken in upon, our most precious time consumed, our very sick-room invaded, by the discoverers of curious papers found where they were never lost, the liberal possessors and ready retailers of scientific information which happens to be no news, the writers of poetry, according to their own nomenclature, and the projectors of
the most immortal schemes that ever an ungrateful world slighted as absurd and ridiculous.

“Then the multitude of especial favours that we receive—each in his sphere! Being chosen as the most appropriate channel for a highly (self) interesting communication:—the publishers of long essays written in haste, and in want of our kind correction:—the most excellent paper for an exposition of the greatest consequence to our readers in the improvement of S. T.’s patent:—the respectable medium for answering U.’s attack on V.’s important letter:—the valuable journal for widely disseminating a specimen of W.’s intended publication on a question of universal attraction!

“It must be confessed that our enjoyments are occasionally chequered with some slight regrets. We find elegiac poets very hard-hearted, and if we affront them, or even pastoral writers, by not immediately inserting their productions, we are sure of a severe scolding, as heavy postage, and anger everlasting. Antiquarians are also obdurate dogs to deal with: if disappointed on the ensuing day of publication, there is no escaping their research and remonstrance. In vain do we bury ourselves in the darkest corner of our study, and entrench ourselves behind the lies of our servant’s ‘not at home;’ we are invariably dug out, and suffer exposure. Authors, whom our consciences will not allow us to praise, charge us with prejudice, partiality, corruption, illiberality, malevolence, and all the deadly sins of human nature. Artists are perhaps still more intolerant and greedy of praise. Their appetites for flattery are only equalled by their immeasurable irritability; and woe be to that critic who does not discover in every daub the colouring of Titian, combined with the grandeur of Michael Angelo; in every plaster-
model the fancied fire of
Phidias, and the imagined beauty of Praxiteles. Indeed, we have ascertained that most public characters have such capacious stomachs for applause, that there is no risk of surfeiting them with panegyric; but, on the contrary, much danger of being thought churls and niggardly starvlings for not giving enough. Reviews must be puffs—criticisms must observe no blemishes—biographies must make men angels!

“Then we are occasionally sore beset with temptations. A pretty poetess has just finished her first attempt, ‘Stanzas to a favourite Goldfinch;’ and with down-cast blue eyes, a heaving bosom, and a faltering voice, entreats to see it in print. We are martyred between the writer and the writing. Such a supplicant, what man can deny—such a composition what Editor can insert! A philanthropist has a plan for the relief of the poor—have we not charity to give it place? A reformer produces a scheme for remedying all abuses—have we not patriotism to find room for it! An enthusiast would preach mankind into one blessed group of loving brethren—the sermons are long and perhaps tedious, but surely our humanity cannot reject them!

“And it is often in vain to endeavour to elude these applications with, ‘Your poetry is charming, but it wants a little polishing to fit it for the public eye.’—‘Will you be so good as make the necessary alterations?’—‘It would delight us, but take the merit from you, which must not be’—‘Oh, I am not self-sufficient, and shall be happy to have my errors rectified.’ ‘We will point out two or three slight defects in your exquisite ideas—so and so—etcetera.’ The verses are taken to be altered, and we are never forgiven.

“And then the Stage and its people! Heaven defend us from it and them! The theatre is a bottomless gulf
for panegyric; the more that is poured in, the more void it appears, and there is no return. One
Shakspeare, who knew them well, has told us we had better have a bad epitaph after our death, than their ill report while we live; and yet there is no avoiding the latter by the sacrifice of truths on the altar of flattery, though we butcher hecatombs. What is the death of a monarch to an actor’s taking leave, overcome by his feelings, supported by his friends, and all the audience, who have them, snivelling into their white handkerchiefs! What is the march of a general at the head of a victorious army, to the peregrinations of a third-rate mime through the provinces! As for the great heroes—if Critics do not laud them with more than eastern adulation, woe betide them; their motives are base, and they are the private foes of persons they never saw but on the public stage. Dreading some tragic end to our labours, we dare say no more of these tyrants, who carry the mockery of their profession into their intercourse with real life.

“‘That is really a fine group, Mr. Sculptor—the attitudes are easy, the pyramidal form studied without affectation, the animals spirited, and the human figures full of nature.’ ‘But is there no point at which your admirable judgment could oblige me by suggesting an improvement?’ ‘The whole, we have said, is excellent, yet, as no work is absolutely faultless, it does seem possible to amend the anatomy of that horse’s limbs, and thus improve its position—the armour of one of the knights, too, is rather heterogeneous, being semi-barbaric, semi-Greek, like the St. George on a Pistrucci crown’—‘Oh, I beg your pardon, gentlemen, I am sorry to differ from such superior minds, but I have particularly regarded the form and attitude of that horse, which is indeed the best part of the design, and the armour I assure you, is classically accurate.’ We are doomed
ignorant pretenders as soon as our backs are turned, and the monument graces St. Paul’s, with a crooked-legged Bucephalus, and a painted Pict in an Athenian helmet:— very much on a par with the rest of the national monuments (of want of taste) in that Cathedral.

“The painter is equally solicitous for advice, alias praise, and equally wedded to his own system. ‘That sky is green.’ ‘Ah! that was necessary for the contrast with these black rocks.’ ‘The natural colour is blue.’ ‘Surely you would not have a picture look black and blue!’ ‘But these trees are heavy and brown.’ ‘I must have a neutral tint in that bright sun-set.’ A picture is entirely yellow, purple, and gold—it is a fine effect of colour. Another has men, women, and babes at the breast, all muscular as Samsons or Herculeses—it is a noble display of anatomical knowledge. A third has men of stone, and dead children of iron grey—it is the grand gusto, half-tint, and not amenable to the laws of nature! We could swell the catalogue, but might be thought personal.

“‘This is a new mechanical invention—a fire and water escape, so that you are in no danger in your garret, should your house catch fire, nor in your cellar if it should be flooded. Observe how the machinery moves.’ ‘Yes, in the air, but either fire or water would destroy the very principle of its motion.’ ‘I am sorry that you do not seem to understand the mechanical forces.’ ‘We are sorry that you do not seem to understand the force of our argument.’ ‘It is very easy to object to useful speculations, but not so easy to escape from the terrors of flood or horrors of conflagration!’ ‘Sir, we would rather trust to the resource of Gulliver among the Lilliputians, in both cases, than to your silly machine.—Good by t’ye.’

“We might dramatise a hundred other scenes in which
the situation of the Editors of periodical works invariably resembles that of handsome women—most perseveringly courted, and little attended to when they come to advise. But we have said enough on the subject; and instead of resorting, as the fair would do, to a curtain lecture, We shall drop the curtain, behind which our readers have had a peep, such as they may not have had before.

“WE—An Editor.”
A Bride’s likeness was painted, where only one hand
Was seen, to the critic’s dismay;
But the artist, when blamed, cried “What would you demand?
She has just given the other away!”—Teutha.

If any light I love, ’tis thine, sweet Moon,
Purer and softer than the glittering noon.
Ah, in what stage of life is aught more bright
Than the Moon-light?
In Infancy the play is tenfold dear,
All school-tasks o’er, enjoy’d beneath thy sphere;
And happy hours make many a fleeting night
By the Moon-light.
In youth the Lover’s dream is all of thee,
Blest and sole witness of his ecstasy:
Even with his Mistress” charms thou shar’st his plight,
Conscious Moon-light.
In Age when nature’s transitory gleam
Expiring seeks a mild congenial beam,
Dear thy repose, as Time rests from his flight
With thee, Moon-light.—Teutha.
Hastings, upon thy coast I stood—
Still onward, onward roll’d the flood:
’Tis trite, but who can see that strife
Of waves, nor think on human life?
Oh, awful likeness! how they pass,
A rippling undistinguish’d mass,
Fretting the surface, and no more,
Till lost upon the oblivious shore.
And Fancy, how thou turn’st my brain!
I trace each billow of the main:
’Tis individual, and its span
Of being, is like thine, O Man.
Mark ye that plumy-crested surge,
Its foaming courser forward urge;
Lashing the land, it spreads dismay,
The pebbles fly, the rocks give way:
That is the warrior fierce uprear’d,
Roaring to battle, ruthless, fear’d;
He’s spent—a whispering murmur all
That echoes his high-sounding fall.
Upon the sand that gentle wave
Delights in peaceful grace to lave;
The margent dents with flowing line,
While glittering planets o’er it shine;
That is the Bard, alas! to see
The impress of his harmony
And tuneful force, a moment’s joy,
The next succeeding wave destroy.
Wearing and splashing through these rocks,
Whose adamant the struggle mocks;
In eddies whirl’d, in deep chasms lost,
Bubbling in straits, in spray up-tost;
Many an effort see they make,
And billows rise, and billows break:—
All worldlings these, who ceaseless boil
And labour on with noisy toil;
By difficulties some defied
Die off the granite’s reckless side;
While others blest beyond desire
Wind through, and on the shore expire!
Those burst, the haven ere they reach,
And these but perish on the beach.
How sweetly these round billows rise,
And undulate, while the breeze sighs
Above; their race seems youthful sport,
Flight and pursuit—they shun, they court—
Now parted and to distance thrown,
And now commingled into one;
They swell but soon subside, and where
They were, a few small wavelets are;
Or sooth to say, they brawl and flee,
One seeks the land, one floats to sea:
How like is this to human love,
As the young passions swell and move?
Coy dalliance, union, fond embrace,
Proud bound, and then a nameless place—
Or sever’d fates, away they go,—
No matter where they froth or flow.
Far off a hoary head I view,
Dropping salt rheum; ’tis age’s hue,
And life’s last tears. The sea-bird’s breast
Is on the neighbouring calm imprest—
Ah, spirit’s emblem! can it be,
But one faint struggle more, and he
Shall seek Heaven’s element, like thee?
How blest, if so; for lo the gale
Increasing flaps the shuddering sail,
Wild ocean bellows loud, and fierce
The tempest sweeps, the drear winds pierce
With dismal howl, the waters rave,—
Nothing can ’scape the yawning grave;
And every mortal, wreck’d, may know
There is no safety here below.
Ah me! my dream of waves is o’er;
Another reflux bares the shore,
Another influx comes again,
And new each shape in, on, the main—
My heroes, lovers, bards all fled,
Forgotten, traceless, vanished.
And Man, whence springs thy senseless pride?
’Tis but a century or a tide?
Hastings, August 21. Teutha.

With a simple but gratifying proof of the benefit that may be derived from publications of the literary class (and
of which I had many instances in the course of my travel, such even as thanks from foreign ambassadors on leaving the country, for having been their truthful guide in all that concerned books and intelligence), I shut up the last page of my biography, volume the second.

“November 10th, 1818.

“Permit one who is highly indebted to you to return you his sincere thanks.

“About a twelvemonth ago, I accidentally saw, at a friend’s house, a number of your excellent publication. I perused it, and immediately imbibed a taste for literature, which, I am happy to say, has since afforded me no small degree of intellectual enjoyment.

“Before I read your journal, I was, I fear, a sad idle fellow. I would indeed skim through a novel or a romance—provided I procured them without any trouble—and the knowledge I acquired from such publications, was what may be expected. I have very many reasons to consider the hour when your publication was first put into my hands, as a most fortunate one; from that moment I may date the pleasure I have experienced from the perusal of works whose titles were before unintelligible or appalling.

“I am a young man, Mr. Editor—a very young man, not yet nineteen—and most of my leisure time is devoted to the cultivation of literature. In this respect, I hope I am not singular. For my own part, I find so much enjoyment, such exquisite pleasure, in these pursuits, that I wonder why the time which many of our young men spend in idleness is not applied to what would afford them lasting
and much greater enjoyment, the cultivation of science and the arts.

“I have no motive, my dear Sir, beyond the impulse of gratitude, in thus addressing you; as I am, and most likely ever shall be, unknown to you; yet, if you should experience any gratification from learning that you have conferred one of the greatest blessings a mortal can enjoy on an humble individual, know, my dear Sir, that you have conferred that blessing on me, and that I shall ever consider myself

“Your obliged and grateful Pupil,
“J. R.”