LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 8: Varieties

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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How happy is the bard,
Whose book no one peruses!
Except himself;
For, unread on the shelf,
They think his case is hard,
He thinks on’t what he chuses.
Happy Bard!*

With my readers’ permission I will for a while leave this “very pretty quarrel,” as it stood, on the poetical issues I have quoted; and glance over a period during which various other matters occurred to divert my mind from the editorial toil and annoyance of my broiling in the “Sun.” Among the pleasant reliefs from this coil of trouble and vexation, was the continued enjoyment of the family circle of Mr. Begbie, whose two eldest daughters, afterwards the wives of Captain Foote, in the East India Company’s service, and of the Rev. Dr. Croly, contributed a number of graceful little poems to the paper, under the signatures of Anna and Helen. Their example was followed with equal talent by the third sister, Fanny; and it may be worthy of notice,

* From a little Poem by W. Jerdan, “The Happy Bard!” repeated by a friend, who remembers much more of him and his earlier attempts than he does himself.

that Dr. Croly’s own sisters were also accomplished poetesses, and that his eldest daughter has inherited the gift. If the day of poetry were in the ascendant, I should say that a sweet volume might he culled out of their productions; hut as it is, they must be left to the dispersion of their first birth, and, perhaps, the only recognition of them be found in this brief notice, by an old friend who has to mourn them, nearly all, among the lost, from his earlier affections.

Another of Mr. Southey’s jeux was in the autumn played off, like the “March to Moscow,” given in the Appendix to my first volume; and though not so striking as that telling hit, is yet so clever a satire upon Lord Byron’s affected Misanthropy, that I am sure it will be relished alike by the lovers of poetry and wit. I was not so much mystified with it as with its precursor: here it is, in the body of the text, and not in the Appendix, as there seems to be a sort of notion, that what is “Appendix” is not Autobiography, though it is in reality all part and parcel of the same design.

“The tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.”
A damsel there was, and her surname was Thrope,
And her Christian name was Ann;
Few lovers had she for her favours to hope,
For she was a hater of man;—
And heartily she detested the sex,
And her only amusement was to vex,
And every thought of pleasure perplex;—
Oh Thrope! Ann Thrope! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
On the pensoroso plan.
This sorrowful damsel, Miss Ann Thrope,
Thought laughter a mortal sin;
As soon in the morn as her eyes did ope,
To weep they did begin.
For her highest luxury was to grieve,
And in company to cry in her sleeve,
And as long as her shadow lengthened at eve,
Oh Thrope! Ann Thrope! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
She was sure to lengthen her chin.
Such sentimentality, Miss Ann Thrope
Expected all would admire;
So she studied to mumble, mump, and mope,
Like a cat by the kitchen fire.
The joys of the world she turned into woes,
And whenever she stoop’d to pluck a rose,
She took care to scratch her unfortunate nose;—
Oh Thrope! Ann Thrope! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
By smelling too near the briar.
Sure nobody else but Miss Ann Thrope
In sorrow would waste the day,
And go out of their road for griefs to grope,
When so many are in the way;
But she in a tombstone made her bed,
And epitaphs all night she read,
And with dying speeches bother’d her head;—
Oh Thrope! Ann Thrope! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
Till she sent her brains astray.
When my lord came wooing to Miss Ann Thrope,
He was just a Childe from school;
He paid his addresses in a Trope,
And called her his pretty Bul-Bul.
But she knew not in the modern scale,
That a couple of Bulls was a Nightingale;—
So full in his face she turned her tail—
Oh Thrope! Ann Thrope! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
As sweet as a fresh-blown Gûl.
Then he sent a love-sonnet to Miss Ann Thrope,
Four stanzas of elegant woe;
The letters were cut in a comical slope,
With Ζωη μου σας αγαπω.
’Twas all about Rivals, and Ruins, and Racks;
The bearer was drest in a new suit of blacks;
The paper was sable, and so was the wax—
Oh Thrope! Ann Thrope! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
And his pen was the quill of a Crow.
What queer-looking words, thought Miss Ann Thrope,
To tag at the tail of a Distich!
So she clapped her eye to a microscope,
To get at their sense cabalistic.
He swore in the Hellespont he’d fall,
If she would not go with him to Istambol;
But all she would answer was tol-de-rol-lol—
Oh Thrope! Ann Thrope! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
To his Lordship’s Rhymes Hellenistic.
Then the Peer he said—Oh Miss Ann Thrope,
Since life is a fading flower,
You’ll do me the favour to elope
With your own dear faithful Giaour.
And as for your father, your mother, and aunt,
The family all I will enchant,
By reading of a Romaic Romaunt—
Oh Thrope! Ann Thrope! Oh Miss Ann Thrope
Till they shed of tears a shower.
His Lordship he read,—and Miss Ann Thrope
Was obliged to praise his wit;
But as the poetry seemed rather sop-
Orific, she dozed a bit.
’Till, quite overwhelm’d with slumber and sorrow,
A yawn or two she begg’d leave to borrow—
And said, if he’d call again to-morrow—
Oh Thrope! Oh Ann! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
He might read a second Fytte.
He read till he wept, but Miss Ann Thrope
Declared it was all my eye;
She called him a Jew, and wish’d the Pope
Had his Hebrew melody.
Said my lord, “I beg you will call it E E,
And as whilom you have listened ne,
I’ll be off to the Paynims beyond the sea—
Oh Thrope! Oh Ann! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
And leave you eftsoons to die.”
Ah who could resist?—not Miss Ann Thrope—
A Corsair hove in sight;
My lord he bid him throw out a rope,
And hold it fast and tight.
So then they put it to the vote,
He tipp’d the Lozel a one-pound note,
And they jump’d together into the boat—
Oh Thrope! Oh Ann! Oh Miss Ann Thrope!
And bid her Papa Good Night.

Desirous of avoiding monotony, and preserving the character of this work, as being as desultory and changeable as human life itself, I will place in juxta-position with Mr. Southey’s piece of humour, a matter-of-fact letter from an esteemed friend, still rejoicing, I hope, in easy retirement, on the fruits of an enterprising career, seldom equalled by any individual, and productive of public exhibitions, paving the way for a multitude of imitative speculations, which have all conduced to the gratification and instruction of the “masses,” and their younger branches. The builder of the Egyptian Hall, in Piccadilly, was, in his busy time, no ordinary man. His Whales, his admirable collections of Natural History, his Mexican travels, and illustrations brought home to our doors, his Laplanders and their deer, and many other novelties, were truly new lessons, from which the people of London and their visitors learnt things in their sensible realities about which they were previously either altogether ignorant, or most imperfectly informed. Such a man does infinite good. He does not set up as a teacher—a showman, if you like—but he conveys more intelligence to the public mind, than a multitude of pseudo-dogmatists, and even able lecturers and writers. To compare the intelligence of a respectable London citizen at the beginning of the century, with the present information of a person of a much inferior class, would be the highest eulogium that could be pronounced upon the great and beneficial effects of such institutions as Zoological and Botanical Gardens, and of the intercourse generated, and knowledge acquired, in consequence of steam conveyances on land and water. I remember asking a Manchester warehouseman, in a goodly way of business in Cheapside (pretty well on a par with others in conversation), if he knew what like an owl was: to which he
answered—“No, Sir, I have seed a mouse, and a rat, but I never seed a howl.” There were no gardens in the Regent’s Park in those days, and the majority of Cockneyland were very ignorant of many things with which they are now, from daily habit, perfectly conversant. I held with
Mr. Bullock in all his undertakings, admired his indefatigable energy, and wondered at the tact by which he perceived attraction after attraction, and never failed to gratify the “world.” The following letter from him is so characteristic, and so curious in its way, that I have much pleasure in making the manuscript print.

“Museum, Tuesday.
Dear Sir,

“It will perhaps be necessary, on entering on my career as an auctioneer, to make some kind of a little introductory address to my auditors on the occasion. Will you, my good sir, furnish me with such a thing? it will render me a service, and I will not remain in your debt for it. All I wish to observe is, that from the local knowledge I possess of many of the articles, and to insure their coming fairly before the public, induces me to sell them myself, without any of the manœuvres sometimes resorted to in a sale of this description, and particularly to impress on the minds of my hearers that every article is fairly and without reserve before them.

“When I come to the Buonapartian subject, perhaps it may not be amiss to mention what is most singular in my history, that everything that originated with Napoleon has been successful. I have put it down in my uncouth way, on a separate paper, and shall be obliged by your opinion and correction.

“Yours, very truly,

“I cannot help feeling a kind of superstitious fear and interest for the fate of Napoleon, on account of the remarkable coincidence and kind of dependence on advantage derived to myself from everything originating or arising from that man. An accidental possession of a medal of him, when General Buonaparte (one of the first portraits of him that came to England), laid the foundation of the London Museum. A purchase in France of his property was the most advantageous speculation I ever made; but the personal property left me, as a last legacy, by the Emperor on the evening of his political death of the memorable 18th of June, and transmitted me through the hands of the Prince Regent, was more advantageous in a pecuniary point of view than the entire labours of my life. I allude to his far-famed Military Carriage, which, with its curious and valuable contents, as is well known, became my property: these (like Elijah’s mantle) gave me the power of accomplishing, in a few months, what, with all his talents, riches, and armies, he could never succeed in doing; for in that short period I over-ran England, Ireland, and Scotland, levying a willing contribution on upwards of 800,000 of his Majesty’s subjects; for old and young,rich and poor, clergy and laity, all ages, sexes, and conditions, flocked to pay their poll-tax, and gratify their curiosity by an examination of the spoils of the dead lion. But those days are passed; the meteor is extinguished, like the dream of greatness which intoxicated the man himself; but still the influence of Napoleon on my destinies seems to exist, for in the cases that I received from his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, has been discovered a talisman, whose magic power was to act after that of its original possessor had for ever ceased; a talisman whose single touch will, in a short time, take from me and scatter over the world the
whole of what I have received from its late master, as well as every production of earth, air, and water, of every clime in the habitable globe, which my whole life has been devoted to bring together; but, although it will inevitably deprive me of what has been my pride and pleasure, it will probably—“A hole in the ballad; the letter is unfinished.

Before opening his Exhibition, our skilful provider for popular curiosity brought over Buonaparte’s coachman, who had been reported killed on the box, when attacked by Baron Kœhler’s lancers, and who had indeed been very severely wounded, and left for dead on the field, with the loss of his right arm. He added greatly to the attraction, and had driven the Emperor on his various and extensive travels even beyond Moscow, and on the flight back, during the last seven years. His master, he stated, had not been in the carriage for some hours before it was taken; but had passed it on horseback about ten minutes before, giving orders that it should follow him—Sauve qui peut! I was interested in all Bullock’s exhibitions; and indeed in all novelties of the kind, and for some twenty-five years there was not a known show or curiosity, from the charge of a halfpenny to a guinea, that I did not see. I went with the Laplanders to the Haymarket Theatre, and remember their ecstacies whilst the orchestra were tuning their instruments, only equalled by their disappointment and dislike when they came to play a tune. Lap ears preferred discord to harmony, beyond all comparison. I was detected by Charles Kemble peeping into a halfpenny show, in some street about Long-Acre; in short, giants, dwarfs, mermaids, Albinos, Hottentot Venuses, animals with more heads or legs than “they ought to,” and all other curiosities and monstrosities, were “my affections.”


I am not quite sure as to the precise dates of the following letters. They refer to the Post Office, and the death of Mr. Palmer, the regenerator of the Post Office, and do honour to the writer, my friend, Mr. Freeling, who so efficiently carried out his reforms, and added so largely to the revenue of the country. The welcome change in the system introduced by Mr. Rowland Hill, takes nothing from the merits of the former improvement, and the skill and ability with which it was framed and effected.

“G. P. O., Saturday.
Dear Jerdan,

“I have been much occupied officially and by domestic occurrences, I ought to have written to you without delay, not to send to me the biographical sketch of my deeply lamented friend, Palmer.

“I now return it, not being at liberty to alter or to add to it. I understand some friend of the family has the subject in contemplation. I cannot, therefore, say anything to Colonel or Captain Palmer respecting it.

“I lived thirty-five years in the most affectionate intercourse with this excellent man, whose like I shall never look upon again. I was not aware of the early circumstances of his life, which you have stated.*

“Yours truly,
“G. P. O., Saturday.
Dear Jerdan,

“Pray let me know what fair remuneration must be made for the short-hand report of the debate on the

* I find this refers to a biography of Palmer, published in the “Literary Gazette,” Sept. 5, 1818. Mr. Palmer died Aug. 16, aged 75.

Post Office? They need not proceed in it. It is astonishing how little senators know of subjects which they have affected to examine.

“Many thanks for your kindness in offering to insert the letter respecting the Montague Packet; although I know every word to be strictly true, I wish it not to be inserted, and you will give me credit for forbearance, recollecting the past, and that the worthy commander of the Pelham is now writing a book against me, full of as much venom as he can bring together: a friend of mine has seen the manuscript.

“I long much to see your translation of the Parisian Hermit. When does it come out?

“Yours always,

The last few words reminds me to state, that when in Paris I was so much pleased with M. Jouy’s publication of “L’Hermite de la Chaussée D’Antin,” that I resolved to make a selection from it of the papers I thought most likely to interest English readers, and translate them for the press. This I had accomplished, and the work appeared in three volumes, under the title of “The Paris Spectator.” It met with considerable patronage, and has long been out of print, but I cannot aver that it added any sum worth mentioning to my resources. The same may be said of my “Voyage to the Isle of Elba,” one volume octavo, also from a French author; and which contained a good account of the island, and the movements of its temporary ruler therein, which certainly bore externally no faint similitude to the doings of Governor Sancho Panza in Barataria, and were probably played off to cover the machinations which were thickening the plot within for the invasion of France. M. Jouy was a fair English scholar
himself, and some of his criticisms on my translation were very good, whilst some others were peculiarly French, and amusing. After writing “L’Hermite de la Chaussée D’Antin” he published the “
Franc Parleur,” translated as “Paris Chit-Chat,” and followed up both by other Essays, entitled “The Hermit of Guiana,” which he translated cleverly into English himself.

Before the end of the year, as previously mentioned, I had the unhappiness to lose my much-esteemed friend, Mr. Begbie. He had been removed for change to a pleasant villa at North End, Hammersmith, but all in vain. A rapid consumption ensued, and from November all hopes of saving his valued life had vanished. Early in December he died, leaving a widow and numerous offspring very unsatisfactorily provided for. But she was a woman of a strong and energetic mind, and fortunately for her children, could do for them, through near relatives (especially her mother, Mrs. Jones,) and other friends, what her husband was withheld by his position and independent feelings from soliciting. His considerable income expired with him; but not the friendships of those whom his excellent nature and honourable conduct had attached to him, and who now displayed that attachment by bestowing valuable appointments on his sons, and launching them with favourable prospects on the world. Writerships, cadetcies, and other auspicious provisions were made, and the family resources of Mrs. Begbie sufficed for the rest. At first, however, there was much to suffer; and I am not without hope that it will tend to redeem my course from some of its faults if I venture to show, that in this, as in many an other instance, my character, from youth to age, was genial, kindly of heart, and rejoicing in the privilege of doing good when in my power. Such also was my lamented friend, whose liberality of mind and generosity of sentiment had made
him a much poorer man than he ought to have been. I do not believe he ever committed a wrong, or did a wilful injury to man, woman, or child; but his worth, combined with an easiness of temperament, was not an adequate protection for his open purse and honest heart. He contributed much valuable information, chiefly commercial, to the “
Sun,” which had, like myself, a heavy loss in him. Thus wrote his disconsolate widow to me—

Dated twelve o’clock—“All your poor friend’s troubles are over; he ceased to breathe at twenty minutes past ten this night, without a struggle or a groan.” The final details need not be repeated.

Previous to this, however, I had exerted myself to perform a needful service under existing circumstances; and that I had been successful is proved by the following warm acknowledgments:—

“Wednesday morning.
My dear Sir,

“My poor husband has been in the agonies of death all night, and we expected his dissolution every minute. I will not tell you what I have suffered. Whenever he thought himself dying he called me to him, to bid him farewell, and to let him ‘die in my arms.’ This morning he has recovered a little, and lies tolerably composed, and Mr. West thinks he may linger yet another night. If you are well enough to come to me on your return, do. He thinks he could die in peace if he heard you were likely to succeed in your generous intentions. To prevent unnecessary fatigue to you, and alarm to Mrs. Jerdan, do not think of returning at night; I can give you a bed, and indeed I have much to say to you, and consult you about. Mr. West (the medical adviser) has promised to spend the night here, he was in the house from four o’clock till nine.
By giving laudanum, my dear
Peter does not seem in those violent agonies; he is quite calm, and prays to be released from his sufferings. My poor girls and Alfred [the eldest son] are also quite broken-hearted. * * * has fainted away * * it is truly a house* of mourning—how I hold up I cannot imagine; but for my beloved children I think I should sink under my troubles. I do not know that I could go through such another night—to see my poor husband in danger of suffocation—to hear his groans—to hear him pray for me and my children—indeed it was too much; but I will not agonise your feeling heart, which I know participates largely in my sorrows.

“Adieu. Yours truly,
“Northend, 5th December, 1815.
My dear Sir,—

“Your truly kind and generous conduct to me and mine, entitles you to my warmest gratitude. It is impossible for me to thank you; but the approbation of your own heart will, I trust, be an ample reward. Never did consolation arrive at a time it was more wanted. Just as I got your letter, my poor suffering husband appeared to be nearly expiring. Even while I write you will hardly know from his countenance that he existed; he has the hiccups incessantly, and perhaps, ere you receive—you get this—he may be no more. Never can I sufficiently thank Mr. Freeling for his kindness. Tell him he has, by his generous endeavours to serve me and my helpless children, rescued me almost from despair. Without the help of some friends, I could not support the mournful situation I am at present in. May that Almighty Being who has warmed your liberal heart to

* The letter is defaced here by the seal.

assist me and mine, return the generous act tenfold upon you and your family.

“Believe me ever, with the truest regard,
“Your grateful friend,
——Sure the last end
Of the good man is peace! how calm his exit!
Night dews fall not more gently on the ground,
Nor weary worn-out winds expire so soft.—Blair.

I beg my readers to believe that I revive this picture of domestic suffering, such alas, as brings grief and mourning to most hearths in the trying journey through life, not from any self-glorifying desire to have myself and my memory held in higher estimation than they deserve; but I have said that I would frankly confess and expose my errors, in the belief that the retrospect might be serviceable to my fellow-creatures, and most signally so to those who were embarked, or were disposed to embark, in the pursuits of literature as a provision for the wants of life;* and I deem that it would not be justice to myself to withhold all the testimonies to my good deeds, and I hope, without a breach of “the consideration and reserve due to others.”

I shall only add Mr. Freeling’s letter to me on the occasion:—

“General Post Office. Saturday.
Dear Jerdan,

“Your letters do great credit to your feelings—poor Begbie! I know that these ‘Riders,’ as they are called* are in a general sense objectionable to the government, but

* See Vol. I., page 3.

I shall be very glad if the difficulty can be overcome on the humanity of the case.

“You have done right in addressing yourself to Mr. C. A. [Charles Arbuthnot.]

“Will you come and dine with us at six o’clock on Tuesday next, at 42, Bryanston Square. We shall be only a small party of six persons. Always yours, truly,