LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch 20: Lord Munster

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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For a moment or two he stood
On the shore of the mighty wood;
Then ventured out
With a hounding heart, and a joyful shout,
The brave sky bending o’er him—
The broad sea all before him!
Birth of a Poet, by John Neal, American.
Yankee Doodle’s come to town!
Clever Yankee Doodle!

An autobiographer being, like a peacock, the hero of his own tale, may be pardoned for the hope that he has created or may create some interest in the beholders, by the spread and rustling of his shivering quills. In my case, especially in this volume, the analogy holds tolerably together; for though the bird displays a perfect shower of radiant Suns, and I have had only one of a fog-covered appearance to exhibit, yet there is Sun in both cases, and that is enough for any fanciful resemblance. The similitude is at least as good as that between Macedon and Monmouth, as both began with M.

The “Literary Gazette” continued to improve in circulation, and to be more and more appreciated by persons
eminent in literature, friends of literature and art, and youthful aspirants to literary honours. The consequence was that I greatly enlarged my circle of connections with the élite of society; and from mere introductory acquaintances founded intimate attachments which lasted for many years; too many of them closed, as time flew on, by the last severation of all human ties. Among the number I may reckon
Colonel Fitzclarence, Earl Munster, to whom I had the pleasure to lend the slight assistance which his want of practice rendered expedient, in preparing for and conducting through the press, his interesting “Journal of a Route across India, through Egypt, to England.” This was an epoch in the life of the author. The gay young dragoon officer had turned from empty fashion, Almack’s and St. James’s—with the highest facilities and temptations to continue a course of such enjoyments—to become an acute observer, a lover of books, an able and interesting writer, a new man. Nor was the promise of this work disappointed. To the unhappy termination of his life, Lord Munster devoted much of his time to studious reading, and distinguished himself not only as the patron of learned and useful societies, such as the Oriental, Geographical, R. S. of Literature, and others, but occupied himself in preparing historical matter for publication, especially an account of the Free Bands of Military Adventurers in the Middle Ages, and Memoirs of the Turkish Empire, the MS. of which I have looked over, and have to express my sincere regret that nothing has been done with them since his lamented death.* It was my good fortune to be often with him, and to receive him as a guest in my own dwelling, where his open manner and

* His observations on the employment of Mahommedan mercenaries in the Christian armies. Paris: Journal Asiatique, 56 Cahier (February, 1827), is a fair example of what the larger work would be.

perfect good humour endeared him to every one who met him. On one occasion when I not only enjoyed the honour of his company, but that of the
Earl of Mulgrave (now Marquis of Normanby), both having recently been advanced to higher titles, the one from Baron to Earl, the other to a peerage, there was for a short, while a faint trace of formality between them as they addressed each other, “milording” it; at length the cheerful champagne did its duty; and one exclaimed, “I do wish you would not milord me in this manner; why don’t you call me ‘George,’ as you used to do?” “Well then, and why don’t you call me ‘Henry?’” A laugh followed this amusing interlude of arcades ambo; but the bargain was struck, and to the end of the evening nothing more of lords was heard but George and Henry! It was years after this, when political jealousies were rife, and it was whispered that Lord Munster visited the Duke of Wellington, early at morn, relating to certain negotiations then supposed to be on the tapis, when one day Lord Mulgrave took me aside to show me an anonymous letter about my friend (as he was courteous enough to call him), and asked my opinion about it. It was disguised in the writing and still more in the spelling; but we made out that it accused Lord Munster of acting the go-between in carrying on the imputed intrigue, and ended pithily, “in shorte me lord he’s a Gorse Hopper.” This Delphic oracle was a sore puzzler; and what was meant by a “Gorse Hopper” we could no more make out than a sphynx’s riddle. We tried grasshopper, but that had no application, and we went through all sorts of nearly approaching sounds in vain; at last, out burst the word “Gossiper,” and Gossiper it was! My forenoon calls on Lord Munster in Belgravia were exceedingly pleasant. The conversation was invariably on
topics connected with literature, and books, prints, drawings, and communications from individuals engaged in similar pursuits never failed to offer a rich and agreeable banquet. When his invalid lady was well enough to be seen, it added a charm to the party, and his fondness for his children gave him a farther claim to my affectionate regard. And still more was I delighted with the filial love he displayed for his mother, of whom an exquisite likeness adorned the principal room where we sat, when not in the library; and to which he always referred with gushing tenderness. A fine natural disposition could alone account for this: and indeed for the whole of his life, which was kind-hearted, manly, and generous. That he was ambitious might be true, but I never witnessed any undue symptoms of the passion; and his anomalous position, so near to, and yet so far from the throne, must have induced both lofty hopes and galling disappointments. The fatal aberration of reason which led to his most melancholy fate might perhaps be traced to the constant recurrence of these discordant feelings; all I know is that I deeply deplored, and still deplore his loss.

About the same time commenced my acquaintance with Mr. William Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne, the great personal favourite of our young Queen, and Prime Minister of England for a number of years. Though productive of many pleasing circumstances, some of which I will relate, this acquaintance never grew into intimacy, nothing beyond an occasional friendly intercourse; yet so marked, that only lately, after his death, his friend, Sir Henry Bulwer, and his private secretary, Mr. Thomas Young, having something to ascertain about him, thought it advisable to consult with me on the subject, as one likely to be possessed of the information. Through this degree of personal knowledge, I was, to my
great gratification, enabled to plead the cause of the widows of my two friends, the intrepid brothers Lander, the African travellers; and, backed by other recommendations, to procure pensions for them both, one of which continues to be paid through my hands.

In earlier times, I got a mischievous tap from the then merely “honourable” M. P., who was to be the future Premier and political ruler of a mighty empire. At a small evening party, sans etiquette, the almost obsolete pastime of Games and Forfeits, and other ancient humours, came into play. In the process I was victimised to be blindfolded, and in that kitten of seven days old condition was condemned to kneel upon the carpet, and, with my head bent into Lady Caroline Lamb’s lap, give such answers as I could to such questions as might be proposed to me. It was late, and I had been persecuted very cleverly; when I was asked what I would do if an injured ghost approached to assault me, for wrongs done in the flesh. I was about to reply, when a smart cuff on the side of my head, proved to me that it was no ghost story. I pulled off the silken bandage, and looking up from his laughing lady’s knee, found William Lamb, just released from a late sitting in the Commons, taking me, thus abroad, on his way to take his wife home. I was not quite at home under all the merriment elicited at my expense; but I did not call the aggressor out for the blow.

Lord Melbourne was, for a gentleman, a tolerable hand at swearing in conversation. I was once trying to persuade him to do something for the literary men of the country—he being himself adorned with excellent literary qualities—and spoke of what was done for them in Germany and France, &c.; but all I could get was, “Well, I don’t know, with all their honours and rewards, I’ll be d—— if I do not think we have greater historians, poets, and
better authors in every way, than they can show against us!”

He certainly was, however, one of the “pleasantest of pleasant men,” and he wrote in the “Gazette!” Witness an Epitaph.

“What! is the ancient shepherd dead?
The Patriarch of the Mountains gone?
And is all his white hair withered,
That once like snow in the moonlight shone?
And is yon old dame left alone
To battle with the world? ‘Alas!
How different from the thing she was!
“He was no common hind, who held
An idle occupation here;
Nor in fantastic dreams beheld
Wild visions from another sphere;
But his mind was firm and clear,
And many useful things could tell,
And, at times, on loftier story dwell.
“Every bird that wandereth forth,
And every grass and herb that sips
Nourishment from the rainy North
He knew, aye, and the dark eclipse,
The moon, the sun, and why he dips
His head beneath the burning seas,
And nature’s many mysteries.
“Oh, he was well-beloved there!
The very breezes seem’d to play,
In fondness, with his silver hair;
But now he’s vanish’d from the day,
And shook his eighty years away.
Free as his mountain winds is he,
Let loose to immortality.”

I know that, in the midst of official work and political struggle, Lord Melbourne often devoted a moment snatched from both to the Muse, and, if I am not mistaken, Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, in whose possession I have seen some of his effusions, must still have preserved these interesting compositions, which, even if not superior to the specimen I
have quoted, would be curious relics of one who had played so great a part in the nation’s history.

Horace Twiss at this time produced his “Carib Chief,” and it cemented a friendship between us, which lasted thirty years; though my critical judgment pronounced it to be only admissible to the Green Park, as a tragic equipage, albeit I denied it entrance into the Birdcage Walk, where only Royalty could be admitted. Twiss was satisfied with the Green Park praise; and so we jogged on pleasantly (for he was a pleasant companion) and comfortably to the last. I had met him at the country residence of a distinguished and estimable friend only a few weeks before his sudden death; and it was no poor solace, with the regard and esteem I entertained for him and his memory, when I, some eight months ago, met his son in the same delightful abode of his father’s constant friend, and found him to be one of the most promising youths which the great school of Westminster could boast, and one likely to do honour to the Kemble blood which runs in his veins, not to mention the very affluent stream which flows there on the mother’s side.

Horace Twiss’s autobiography would be an interesting work; for he saw, and knew, and took part in a good deal, both political and literary, and especially dramatic. I do not know how it was, but his being in Parliament, and holding a high official appointment, seemed to provoke unusual jealousy in the literary class from which he sprung. Instead of being pleased with the fact, out of esprit du corps, they generally viewed it as if it were a promotion over their own heads, and twitted and lampooned Twiss accordingly. And then he lived in, and entertained the highest society. I have dined with Lord Eldon, Lord Castlereagh, and other Cabinet Ministers in his dark little dining-room in Serle Street, Lincoln’s Inn; and such doings in a literary
man are apt to provoke malice. Therefore his ready wit was ridiculed, his very considerable talents were depreciated, and all his little weaknesses or foibles (and who are without them?) were exaggerated and abused. Such is too much the way of the literary as well as common world!

Washington Irving! name to conjure with, falls within the time I am now occupying. I had gone for relaxation to Hastings, when my friend Pyne (a genius all but thrown away, for he did much that will remain, though he fell off in the end, and died in poverty), by a happy accident, got hold of the first copy of “The Sketch Book” which had found its way to England just time enough before its accomplished author, to have it sent to me as a sea-side material for my vagrant pen. The following facetious letter will expound the circumstances:—

“Most Honoured Sir,

“Here am I, scrambling about the stubble of literature, springing game for you, who, caring not half a straw about your faithful pointer, sally out afield after dinner, charged with everything but straight shot, and loading your piece with crooked powder. My nose—‘my jolly red nose,’ acknowledged to be one of the best of noses—true to the scent, nosed a covey—up it sprang. ‘Bang!’ says his Honour. Then his Honour boasts, ‘Look! Oh, what a shot am I!’

“If I did not point as plain as a pike-staff to the American game, giving you full scope to mark each bird, then am I a ‘shotten herring.’

“Henceforth ‘read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.’ The ‘Sketch Book’ was purchased at New York, wet from the press, by a gentleman coming to England, for the purpose of beguiling a vacant hour on the voyage, and thou hast made
him, the reader, author of the book! Did not I make allusions—elegant allusions—to moonshine?

“This is very afflicting. What company—I ask it with sorrow—what company hast thou picked up in the South, O worthy man of the North? The Sussex coast, a smuggling coast, right and left—has it not Hastings for its headquarters? Beware of its ‘moonshine,’ and drink Farintosh (if that be the word). Farintosh sweepeth clean the threshing-floor of a reviewer’s brain, and places a lamp in the corner of his midnight understanding, so that a scribbler scribbles his lucubrations† with true spirit, when he scribbleth Farintosh-like.

“Gin, you cry up Gin,
Gin you cry for ever;
Boderation! Gin
Has burnt poor Paddy’s liver.”
Vide Elegant Stanzas on Gin, by J. Hoppner, R.A.

“So the mermaids are gone a hair-combing at our Northcountrymen. Cannot you fidget up some excuse, to lead you a little further coast-ways?

“Come hame, mon—come hame. After all, they are but odd fish, and I wud na gie a bawbee to gang alang wi’ the ‘fanciest she’ an ’em that ever waltzed on the top o’ the giddy sea. But then, lad—what then? I want not the cooling of a hot frenzied poet. How romantic! How poetic! To be awakened from amorous dreams by a swingeing slap of her saucy tail, and refreshed by a showerbath of salt-water, sand, and perriwinkle from her trundling

* “I need not inform a reviewer that moonshine is smuggled gin—‘Strip me naked.’”

† “Query. The ‘Literary Gazette’ and the ‘Morning Chronicle’ use the word lucubration, methinks, not always in its true artificial light. Do these literary earth-stoppers always work (like the glow-worm) with a lantern at their back?”

locks. Reviewers shave their customers tolerably close, but after such a lathering, what reviewer would undertake to shave himself?”

The trifling mistake alluded to was immediately corrected, and my delight with the work repeated in still stronger terms; so that when Washington Irving set his foot upon the English shore he found himself famous, and a literary career in England courting his entry for the highest popular stakes. I need not say how cordially the public re-echoed my report. The result is expressed in the following note, the first of my correspondence with the most charming of American authors:—

“The author of the ‘Sketch Book’ cannot but feel highly flattered that his Essays should be deemed worthy of insertion in so elegant and polite a miscellany as the ‘Literary Gazette.’ A corrected and modified edition of the work is about to be republished in this country, which he barely mentions, and leaves it to the more experienced judgment of the Editor to determine how far the extracts may be made without anticipating and injuring the collective republication of the work. At the same time he begs leave to add his conviction that he could not have a better introduction to fashionable notice, than the favourable countenance of the ‘Literary Gazette.’”

Such things belong to the most grateful incidents of my literary life. No doubt, without my aid, the beautiful American canoe would soon have been safely launched on the British waters; but as it was, I had the pleasure and honour to launch it at once, fill the sails, and send it on its prosperous voyage. I never enjoyed so much of Irving’s society as I wished; but have had the gratification of seeing him at my own table, with such associates as the Bulwers,
Edward and Henry H. Ellis,
Moore, and others of the same proud literary rank. His quiet manners, and retiring habits, never putting himself forward, and my severe occupation, dissipated only in pressing channels, prevented our meeting (at any rate) so much as I desired, but I trust our mutual esteem has not decayed since the days of the Sketch Book.

Other friendships and friendly relations dating from this period must furnish many notices to my future page; but from one of the body, if I transcribe an amusing piece of poetry (for no matter what the taste of readers may be, I have a lot of poetry to deposit somewhere in the course of my Biography), I trust that it will be accepted as the tag of this chapter.

What! Stranger, have you never heard
Of the lady under the holly tree?
The tale is sad, and will make you weep;
It always does me.
This lady had a little dog,
’Twas of King Charles’s breed;
And she loved him as well as no tongue can tell—
Aye, very much indeed!
But poor little Pompey was taken ill,
And eke look’d wond’rous faint;
“Oh, go for the doctor!” the lady she cried,
“To remove this sad complaint.”
So the doctor he came and felt his pulse,
And held up his watch to his eye;
“Fair lady, twelve ounces of blood must he lose,
Or your little dog will die.”
But poor little Pompey grew very weak,
And eke grew wond’rous faint;
“Oh, go for another doctor, I pray,
To remove this sad complaint.”
So the doctor he came, and felt his pulse;
“Fair lady, he’s very ill;
Some strengthening medicine he must have;”
And he gave him a mercury pill.
But poor little Pompey still grew weak,
And eke look’d wond’rous faint;
“Oh, go for another doctor, I pray,
To remove this sad complaint.”
So, the doctor came, and look’d very grave,
And he held up his cane to his nose;
“Some opening medicine he must have,
His system to compose.”
Then he gave him a potion, and gave him a lotion,
Whilst he gave dismal cries;
And the little dog died as dead as a door nail,
And twisted his gooseberry eyes!
“Oh, wretched! that my little dog,
Lately in health so well,
Should thus die suddenly by death
“His body shall be opened,
To find the dreadful cause;
Pompey shall be buried with great pomp,
Aye! bless his little paws!”
Then the surgeon came, and he took out his knife,
And made a great hole in his side;
The blood trickled down, and ’tis dreadful to think
What a terrible sight he espied!
For out of his stomach a tapeworm there came,
Full seventy yards or more,
And he twisted about the throat of the surgeon,
And strangled him on the floor!
“Oh! fool that I was,” the lady she cried,
“Oh! silly foolish thing,
I ought to have known that Pompey had worms,
And sent for Doctor Ching.
“If I had sent for Doctor Ching,
I might have bless’d the day,
For he would have cured Pompey with his patent worm-destroying
Lozenges, I dare say.
“Dolly, deny me to all my friends,
My grief it is increased,
Three nights and three days without sleep will I watch,
By the corpse of the deceased.
“Go carry the surgeon into the garden,
And bury him, since he’s dead.”
So the gardener made a deep hole with his spade,
And the surgeon was bu-ri-ed.
So the lady she lock’d herself into her room,
For her grief it was increased;
And three nights and three days without sleep did she watch,
By the corpse of the deceased!
And when the fourth day it came,
Dolly went to her lady’s door,
But found it was lock-ed, and then she knock-ed,
Full seventy times or more!
But she did not attend to the seventy knocks,
As she lay upon her bed,
Which is not much to be wondered at—
Poor lady! she was dead!
Then Dolly forced the door with her fist,
And into the room she went,
And she opened the shutter in a very great flutter,
For she was ready to faint.
And ah! and oh! what sight she saw,
Dear me! ’twas very shocking!
The lady was dead, as she lay on her bed,
And had stifled herself in her stocking.
Pompey lay stretch’d within her arms,
Reclined was her head,
His precious limbs were cold and stiff,
And the white of his eyes were red!
When Dolly saw these doleful sights,
She felt a-shiver-ed,
And went in a fit as dead as a stone,
And pitch’d upon her head.
And her head it was split into twenty pieces,
Which truckled about the floor,
And from the wound, the blood flow’d around,
Full seventy yards or more!
But Dolly did not complain at all,
Indeed she could not speak;
One eye was hanging against the wall,
And t’other hung on her cheek.
“Well—into one coffin the bodies were placed,
And buried under the holly;
This excellent epitaph graved on the grave,
“The Lady, her Dog—and Dolly.”