LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan

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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Page 158.

As my last flash in the “Sun,” February 28th, about two months before I retired from it, when the country was torn to pieces by treasons and trials, I take leave to re-discharge my “Highlander’s Pistol,” and am vain to have another report with it, in the following flattering imprimatur of a distinguished friend and poet:—

“Dear J.,

“I have just received your ‘Pistol’ poem. I think it exceedingly interesting. The description of the carved work, and the brown spots on the barrel, struck me peculiarly. I am glad to tell you you are a poet; and now is the time for works like this.”

A Fable: For The Present Time.
“It wants a new stock, a new lock, and a new barrel, like the Highlandman’s Pistol.”—Old Scottish Saying.
Breathes not in all Earth’s social bound,
A Being in whose breast are found
More deeply rooted, cherished more
Within the warm heart’s inmost core.
Those kind affections, Nature’s balm,
Which human suffering soothe and calm,
And harmonise the social plan,
Than Scotia’s genuine Highlandman.
Hence flows his clanship’s firm alliance,
In life a charm, to death defiance;
Hence, with resistless ardour, spring
His love of Country, love of King;
His family attachment strong;
His raptures at the Bardic song;
His local likings; friendships free;
And all his pride of ancestry,
Which estimates at price untold
What was his Sires’ in days of old,
Stamping that trifle, e’er so light,
A sacred relic in his sight.
Among such things most precious held,
In Donald’s house (benorth Dunkeld),
A Pistol, ancient as his race,
Had long maintained a foremost place.
Massy and gorgeous, common eyes
Might well the antique bauble prize
Even for itself, so rich, and rare,
And old, as if since Pistols were!
And dear to memory, its Lord,
What they admired, almost adored:—
On Flodden to his sire ’twas true,
True to himself on Waterloo
And many a bloody fray between,
Stuck in his father’s belts had been;
In foray fierce, in conflict rude,
In single broil, in quenchless feud,
Since first with harrow, spear, and shield,
It rung a wonder in the field,
Till now, with bayonet and gun,
Rocket and bomb, its work was done
At need it ne’er was known to fail,
And linked its fame to many a tale.
Bright was its barrel, Damask blade
Ne’er glanced more keen on foe dismay’d,
When faints the soul, the eye grows dim,
And terror shakes the warrior’s limb,
And from the faulchion waving high
He shrinks aghast, and turns to fly.
And here and there a spot was seen,
Marring the splendour of its sheen,
Though not its glory; for were these
Nor rust of time, nor stain of peace,
But symbols high of deeds of might,
When all so hotly raged the fight,
That space was none to wipe and dry
The sprinkled blood of enemy
Which plashed its lustre: and Renown
Dwelt in these lasting specks of brown.
Old fashioned looked the lock, and worn,
And plain, as if were held in scorn
Device, or ornament, or art,
Or show on this important part.
But nice it was the touch to feel,
With ample force dash’d stone on steel,
The spark eliciting, till sped,
It flash’d within its fiery bed.
The Stock—’twas here the workman tried
His skill, and every grace applied.
The wood was native heart of oak,
Hard, heavy, never to be broke;
To admiration carved, and wrought
With ore from furthest Afric brought;
Rich, noble shapes assumed the gold,
Not flimsy forms of modern mould—
The whole was exquisite, although
So stout, at pinch ’twould fell a foe.
Such was the weapon prized so long
Beyond my humble power of song;
The thing of all things valued most,
In war a friend, in peace a boast;
Of Donald and his house the pride—
But—man’s affairs obey a tide,
Which onward sweeps at Fortune’s beck,
Or refluent strews the shores with wreck,—
Rests at the height or ebb—no never—
But prosp’rous flows, or shallows, ever.
By wicked Counsellors beset,
The fatal turn now Donald met;
To them he bent in evil hour,
Doubted, but yet confess’d their power,
Thought they were false, but yet believed,
Listened, confided—was deceived!
They taught him, fickle and unwise,
His glorious pistol to despise—
Said that the barrel, rusty grown,
No more with former lustre shone—
It should be brighten’d up again
Till not a speck might there remain:—
Said that the lock was old and coarse,
Did not go free, and wanted force;
Was clogg’d and damaged everywhere,
And must receive complete repair:—
Said that the stock was barbarous taste,
The massive ornaments all waste,
Like sinecures, girding about
What was too cumbrous far without.
Away, they cried, this ne’er will do,
This must be altogether new!
Stock, Lock, and Barrel, changed they wanted;
And sad the day their suit was granted.
The polish’d barrel show’d no more
The honour’d battle rust of yore,
And strength was sacrificed to clear
Those harmless marks to valour dear.
The ancient lock was filed away,
More weak from mending than decay,
And if no hold, and looseness, be
To traverse freely, then ’twas free,
And oh! that stock of ages past,
That massy, matchless work—at last
’Twas lost; the carved and native oak,
Regardless thrown ’mid flame and smoke,
But urged the crucible the more,
Swift to devour the fusing ore;
And in its stead produced, we greet
A form called simple, light and neat.
The work was perfect; Donald sigh’d—
“It is not like the old,” he cried—
“It may be wondrously improved,
But ’tis not what my fathers loved—
Their safety ’mid a host of foes,
Their trophy after battle’s close.
It can no more adorn my hall!
Should aught the hour of strife recal
Its powers unknown!” Alas! too late
Arrived sage doubt and self debate.
Even now the foe in fury came,
Around him rapine, havock, flame,
Nor sex nor age is spared. To arms!
The war-shout Donald’s heart-blood warms,
He rushes forth—ah! ’tis for life,
For country, altar, children, wife,
For all that man esteems of worth
In this world’s scene; he rushes forth!
What groans the ear distracted pierce?
The conflict rages, bloody, fierce,—
The crisis comes; prove weapon true,
For death or vict’ry rests on you,
’Tis the last effort, save him Heav’n!
He fires—it bursts,—in pieces riven!
Scatheless the enemy at whom
’Twas levell’d on this day of doom;
And wounded mortally, he died
Who on that faithless arm relied.
Self-vanquish’d, Folly’s Victim fell,
He whom no human force could quell;
His children’s gore reddens the plains,
His country clanks its foreign chains,
His land is desolate, his place
Is empty as the viewless space.
Thus Heaven deserts those who refuse
Its mercies, and its gifts abuse.
In Britain’s Isle, so matchless fair,
Of Innovation’s wiles beware.
Your glorious Constitution rears
Its fabric through a thousand years,
Impregnable to every storm,
Immortal, if insane Reform,
Vision’d Perfection, and wild Change,
Within are ne’er allow’d to range.
Then doubt Improvement’s specious cry,
And prize substantial blessings high;
Warn’d by our tale, not told in vain,
Believe not every spot a stain,
Nor every ancient form misspent,
Nor useless each rich ornament.
Experience proves, at endless length,
These may be glory, wisdom, strength;
And Fable only strives to show,
Aptly, that from rash counsels flow,
Guilt, Madness, Ruin, Slavery, Woe!!