LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne

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 wheel of life no less will stay
In a smooth than rugged way:
Since it equally doth flee,
Let the motion pleasant be.
Beauteous flowers why do we spread
Upon the monuments of the dead?
Nothing they but dust can show,
Or bones that hasten to be so.
Crown me with roses while I live—
Now your wines and ointments give;
After death I nothing crave:
Let me alive my pleasures have—
All are Stoics in the grave.—Cowley.

Reverting more strictly to public progress and literary history, the alliance of the house of Longman &c. Co. with the “Gazette,” gave it a new and effective stimulus. Instead of changes, and accidents, and fires, and irregular accounts, there were steady advancing, prompt publication, and regularity in every department, the good effects of which were soon felt, internally and externally.

The accession of literary co-operation became, at the same time, more copious and valuable. My old supporters stuck to their kind assistance, and new contributors of no slight powers joined the standard which faithfully floated over an array whose declared object was to diffuse a taste
for literature; to promote, with letters, the dearest interests of society; to encourage all the beneficent arts of peace and civilisation; to propagate a knowledge of science; and to spread over the mass of mankind, a love for those pursuits which refine and ennoble, and bless humanity. In aid of such a purpose, I was now joined by the author of “Wine and Walnuts,”
Dr. Maginn, L. E. L., A. A. Watts, the Abbe M’Quin, Mr. Crowe, Theodore Hook, and other correspondents, who began at this period, some of them, with their first essays in print, and continued through a course of sequent years to be occasional or constant contributors to the “Gazette.” Of such, especially of those who afterwards achieved distinction and fame, it is my duty to speak—a duty saddened by many a tearful recollection.

“Wine and Walnuts” succeeded “The Hermit in London,” and speedily attained still greater popularity. Its fidelity in regard to facts and characters, and its delectable ornamentation by the varied talent of Mr. Pyne, a charming artist,* and companion almost unrivalled for stores of anecdote and curious felicity of remark, were quickly appreciated, and did much towards raising the journal. A short letter, therefore, in which he sketched the outline of his plan, may still be worthy of literary preservation:—

My dear Sir,

“If I had known that you were most pleased with that style of gossiping which you speak so kindly of, I would have confined myself to the course you recommend;

* His splendid work on the Royal Residences, mentioned in volume ii., is an elaborate example; but his facile pencil so ready and true in seizing every quaint and characteristic form or feature, as illustrated in his Microcosm of London, and other productions which gave celebrity to Ackerman’s Repository, were still more captivating proofs of his genius in

but I fancied greater variety might appear by what I intended, namely, to excite in the readers a little of the antiquarian feeling, which would give a greater relish to the dessert. Now, agreeable to this plan, I had arranged my walk as follows:—

“To take a slight peep in St. Margaret’s Church, and pass on to Old St. Martin’s Church, of which little is known. To have given some quaint epitaphs introduced with chit-chat about costume, with an attempt at some original remarks—pointed ones. I had addressed it to the inhabitants of that extensive parish, telling them what distinguished predecessor parishioners they had, as many of the painters of Charles I. and II. were buried there. Then to have proceeded to Covent Garden in the same gossiping style,—another church for the interment of painters. Promising that after showing what geniuses and oddities have lived in these neighbourhoods—what caused the change of manners, &c., &c, and then introduce Old Slaughters, and Hogarth’s club there. The old academy there (St. Martin’s Lane). The establishment of King Charles I. Academy at the house, late the Royal Hotel Covent Garden. Tom King’s, Button’s, Will’s, and other coffee-houses in the same parish. And all the taverns, hotels, and smoking shops, right on through the city. In short, I wished to give a sketch of the manners from Charles I. to the age of Pope and Arbuthnot, and all such worthies, giving the readers notice of the reason for the apparent digression. I think the St. Margaret’s, and St. Martin’s, and Covent Garden would be new. There will be no lack of gossiping

the arts. It was delightful to lounge out with him on a summer day, imbibe his conversation, and watch the execution of a dozen humorous and most faithful sketches, of beggars, brewers, milkmaids, children at play, animals, odd-looking trees, or gates, or buildings—in short, of all curious or picturesque objects and everything else.

as we go on. I have got a very faithful history of Exeter Change, and a budget of conversations about the Old Society of Painters, and the founding of the Royal Academy.

“This, in great haste, from
“Yours most truly,
W. H. PYNE.”

As the publication went on from the end of September to the beginning of December, and attracted much notice, and many inquiries and questions about facts and dates, the writer found that, besides being entertaining, he must be biographically and historically correct; and that it would not do to embellish fictions as if they were archaeological truths. A great deal more minute research than could be believed for so playful a design, was consequently required; and I can assure all future readers of “Wine and Walnuts,” that they may depend as much on the accuracy of its data as if it were the most serious Dry-as-dust composition that ever antiquary published. Pyne thus unfolds the dilemma:—

My dear Jerdan.

“The inventing of the scenes for ‘Wine and Walnuts,’ in its present stage, is a business of greater difficulty than I had calculated upon. I have to guard against anachronisms—to support consistency in the characters, and to account for my history by the agency of an older fellow than myself. To manage these matters, touching the distance of their days, is the most difficult part of the scheme. In order, therefore, to reconcile Old Zachery’s apparent inconsistency of rank, and to make him square with the coteries of learned men, I was obliged to give the Starch
Family. I grant that in the limits of your work there is little room for prosing, and, of course, the pith of the chit-chat makes the proper subjects. When I come within memory, I can drive on with greater speed, having abundance of material.

“When I send the four subjects promised, I shall beg to know what your coadjutors will afford to give for the work, as I presume those with what are already printed will be sufficient specimens. I do not wish to press the subject upon them, for if it meets not their approval from what will be offered, I will give it to Mr. Ackermann to try what may be made of it in numbers, with characteristic prints in the manner of Dr. Syntax.” * *

With regard to the latter and business part, it affords me pleasure to add that there was no ground for dissatisfaction left with any of the parties concerned. I had given twenty pounds in November, and now a weekly solatium was arranged to the extent of the author’s own suggestion; and when the papers were finally collected and published in two volumes octavo, at fourteen shillings, the sale was so considerable as to put above two hundred pounds (I think) in his purse. But, in the interim, poor Pyne was suffering under the too common pressure of the tribe whose badge he wore; and it ultimately produced a crisis in his affairs which no effort of his or mine could avert or remedy. He projected several other series of contributions, but none of them came to fruit; though the subjects were promising and his skill and intelligence sufficient to guarantee their successful treatment. Among others, “The Rise and Progress of the Art of Painting in Water Colours, with Notices of all the Ingenious Artists who have contributed to raise it to its present state of excellence;” than which I could hardly imagine any history
of the British school more likely to have reached extensive popularity. But growing embarrassments spoil many an enterprise of great pith and moment; and so it happened, I am sure much to the public loss, not only in this case, but in others which filled his fertile mind, and were condemned to be still-born Minervas that never leapt from his brain to light.

Of Maginn, the precocious, the prolific, the humorous, the eccentric, the erratic, the versatile, the learned, the wonderfully endowed, the Irish,—how shall I attempt to convey any idea? There is hardly any species of literature in which he has not left examples as masterly as any in the language. Romancist, parodist, politician, satirist, linguist, poet, critic, scholar—pre-eminent in all and in the last all but universal—the efflux of his genius was inexhaustible; and were even the approach to a considerable collection of his productions accomplished, I am convinced that the world would be more than ever astonished by the originality, learning, fancy, wit, and beauty with which he illuminated the widest circle of periodical literature. For he was at all, and wrote everywhere. He jested, and he mystified, and he laughed. He played with pebble-stones and nuggets of gold; pelting with the one, and hitting hard with the other. A sprite or a gladiator as the maggot took—a warm-hearted Irishman, though a fearful literary antagonist, his career was devious, zigzag, corruscating, here, there, and everywhere, flashing with the electric force agreeable to his nature, or working with the regulated toil which graver occasions demanded from bis vigorous intellect. In society or with friends he was the most simple and unaffected of men; and yet
Qualis ubi Oceani perfusus Lucifer undaâ,
Quem Venus ante alios astrorum diligit ignea,
Extulit os sacrum Cælo, tenebræque resolvit.
In any galaxy he was, indeed, a star of the first magnitude and greatest brilliancy.

Maginn was born in Cork, in 1794, and began his literary career on this side of the Channel in the “Literary Gazette” soon after it started, and at a time when, I believe, he took a share in the management of his father’s academy. A little before the date of his communicating with Blackwood he first tried his anonymous experiment on me, and under the name of Crossman, No. 8, Marlborough-street, Cork, surprised and delighted me more than I can express. I can well remember with what pleasure I was wont to receive his large folio sheet, covered closely all over with manuscript, and supplying me with rich and sparkling matter, to adorn and enliven, at least, two or three successive numbers of the “Miscellaneous Sheet.” There was always a perfect shower of varieties; poetry, feeling or burlesque; classic paraphrases, anecdotes, illustrations of famous ancient authors (displaying a vast acquaintance with, and fine appreciation of, them,) and, in short, Mr. Crossman’s proper hand on the address of a letter, and the post-mark “Cork” were about the most welcome sight that could meet my editorial eye and relieve my editorial anxieties. In publishing he adopted all kinds of signatures, and never could be traced by them; and till he chose to throw off the veil of mystery, and treat you confidentially, it was as impossible to know “where to have him,” as it was to have Mrs. Quickly! In later days he was often funning—I can find no other word to express it—in “Blackwood” and the “Gazette” at the same time, and getting up such strange equivoques as were no less puzzling than amusing. He was the master of Punch, pulled the strings as he listed, and made the puppets dance, squeak, and fight for the sheer entertainment of the gaping crowd.


Of such an individual the subjoined particulars, indicative of his feelings and explaining his condition at the commencement of his singular and lamentable literary career, will be read with interest. The first (though not the first in order of dates) is a note which shows his wish, whilst yet a mere youth, to study a language rarely thought of in our country.

“Ap. 18; 8, Marlborough Street, Cork.
Dear Sir,

“I intended to have filled this sheet for you, but as I want to make a request of you, I send it unfilled. You will oblige me by sending a ‘Literary Gazette’ every week, until July, to ‘John Maginn, Esq., A.B., 6, Trinity College, Dublin,’ for which I shall settle with you when I see you, which will probably be this summer.

“If it be not intruding on you too much I should request you to write me word where I could find any Swedish books, or where I could get any information concerning the literature of Sweden. I have no literary acquaintances in London, else I should not trouble you. I take it for granted that there are people to whom you have access, who could supply you with information.

“I am, dear Sir,
“Yours faithfully,

An extract from the next is a sample of the mystifying humour to which I have alluded:—

“You have quite misunderstood the meaning of my expression, ‘writing in the dark.’ I intended to say by that phrase, that I did not know what would be acceptable, and consequently was very often wasting my time and
yours in sending you what would be of no use. As I really like your journal very much, I shall send you the trifles as usual.

“There was no need of sending your name. Who could have told you that my name is different from my signature I know not, but I am acquainted with some wags [truly!] who I am pretty sure will make use of that signature sometime or other to impose on you.

“I send you two songs by a young lady [!]: if worth anything, print them.

“I remain, Sir,
“Your humble servant,

The denouement of the mysterious veiling is a memorable key to the real character of the writer, who was, to the end, diffident and unassuming, as one unconscious of his extraordinary endowments.

Dear Sir,

“Mr. Tatam came home by so circuitous a route that your letter of the 17th ult. did not reach me until yesterday.

“As he has told you who I am, I suppose he has also informed you of the nature of my avocations, in which case you will not, I think, feel much astonished at the irregular and interrupted nature of my correspondence with you. In fact, I am so completely occupied that I have scarcely time to do anything beside my business. I shall, however, send you a trifle occasionally.

“I affected the mysterious, as you call it, on no other account but that I felt that what I sent was so very trivial, I was unwilling to put a grave-looking signature to my
communications. As, however, you have dealt so very frankly with me, and as you desire it, I shall conclude by assuring you, in my real name, that

“I am,
“Dear Sir,
“Your humble servant,

“You need not make any alteration in the direction of the Gazette.”

When Maginn paid his first visit to London he had his letters addressed under cover to me, and I had the great pleasure of beginning a friendship with him, which never varied, on personally delivering them to him at the Angel Hotel, Saint Clements, where he had been deposited by the Bath coach.

I beg to introduce two other letters here, though of later date; and simply to afford a few additional traits of the portrait, recalled to my memory by the slightest touches.

“Friday morning, Somerset Hotel, 162, Strand.
Dear Jerdan,

“I have a request to make, which I confess at once is hardly a fair one, but throw myself on your good-nature.

Hood, in the ‘Literary Gazette,’ is poaching sadly on a preserve of mine. I take it for granted it is he who wrote the very clever verses on Carving. Now it so happens that I wrote for the ‘N[ew] Times,’ more than two years ago, some hundred and fifty lines on the same subject, and if you will take the trouble of looking over the file (which is to be
sure a most unreasonable request) you will find that Hood has, unconsciously I suppose, gone very close to what I have written.

“And what consequence, you will say, is this? Not much; but that, at Murray’s request, I have just finished the poem. I have run it to twelve hundred lines, and he wishes to publish it as a ‘nice little book.’ Having in me not the slightest literary ambition, I do not care if all the critics in England say that this poem of mine is abominable, or pronounce me a base follower of Hood, but I do care about the coin of the realm, and if Hood goes on, it may be some 50l. or more out of my pocket. I scarcely know him; but as all clever fellows ought to be good fellows, I hope you will prevail on him to turn his pen to some other subject for three weeks. After that time he may go on, and I am perfectly content to play second fiddle.

“I feel I am depriving your Gazette of a great attraction, but I have honestly told you the reason. I consider myself some dozen columns of squib-work in your debt if you accede to my request.

“I am,
“Dear Jerdan,
“Yours faithfully,
Dear Jerdan,

“A bevy of fair ladies are about to visit Windsor on Saturday. I believe there is some difficulty of getting to see the penetralia of that Keep, and I believe also that you have a voice potential to remove it.

* Hood was not the writer of the lines in the “Gazette,” but another living and admired humourist, who has often and largely contributed to its most scientific intelligence as well as its liveliest sallies.


“If you can assist me in this matter you will much oblige,

“Dear Jordan,
“Faithfully yours,

In 1820 or 1821, Maginn paid Blackwood a whimsical visit in Edinburgh, having corresponded with him in the same mystical manner as with me, and having even received and indorsed bankers’ bills in his anonymous name; and having had an interview with him, as satisfactory as it was comical, continued to write regularly for the magazine till 1830, when, in consequence of some misunderstanding, he formed a connection with Fraser in London. Afterwards he returned to Blackwood,* but his course had become more and more promiscuous and discursive. The “John Bull,” the “Age,” the “True Sun,” and almost every annual or serial published, got access to his able pen, and the “Standard” was, for a long while, a regular and good standard provision for the passing day. He had given up school-keeping, and married an excellent wife in 1823; from which period his entire dependence was upon his literary

* How he used to puzzle us all, may be surmised from the following note I received from Blackwood (I think) in 1824:—

“If you have heard anything of Dr. Maginn, of Cork, I would be much obliged to you if you would favour me with a note by the twopenny post. I am very anxious to see him, and I expected he would have been calling for me either here or at Mr. Cadell’s, as he wrote me he was to be in town by the 27th at the latest.

“I shall be in town for some days, and hope to have the pleasure of seeing you very soon.

productions. I am sorry to add that his habits got into a train as irregular as his means; and singing
Life’s like the sea in constant motion;
Sometimes high, and sometimes low—
he shaped his way in unison with the uncertainties of his profession. The law got him into its clutches, and in spite of all sacrifices, frequent incarceration in spunging-house and gaol was the inevitable consequence. Though he bled at every pore, there was still blood enough left for a farther drain, when it could be squeezed out of him by legal pressure. But
Maginn could always run when he was not quite competent to walk steadily;* and after the race, not only were the outpourings of his fancy copious and delightful, but what was more extraordinary, the graver opinions of his judgment were wonderfully clear and precise.

His strange romance of “Whitehall,” is a singular example of wild genius; and his frequent sport in this way, besides being the prince of parodists, consisted in his inventing originals, that is to say, writing and quoting old poets, and Greek or Latin authors, and then translating them to prove that Moore or anybody else had been guilty of gross plagiarism. Assuredly more direct and decisive evidence could not be produced! One of his biographers has stated that he wrote a number of things in “Fisher’s Drawing-room Scrap-book;” but this is a mistake; he never wrote an anonymous line in that popular publication. Of his much-prized contributions to me, and which he continued occasionally to supply to the last, in 1842, when

* It was a droll custom with him on social occasions, when affected by wine—and his constitution could not bear much—the moment he got to the door, to start off like a hunted hare, and be seen no more. He then got at full speed to his work, and wrote his best; as he also did when in the clutches of law.

he died,* the annexed short specimens will furnish some idea; but his reviews and other sparkling varieties are incapable of being exemplified:—

Within the shade of yonder grove,
Fair Helen rear’d her woodbine bow’r,
And fondly hoped unscared by love
Would flit away each tranquil hour;
Her moments flew unchased by care,
And calm she dwelt in peace and pleasure,
While still that love could not stray there,
Was Helen’s bosom’s cherish’d treasure.
One day the God, within the wood,
Had roved, with nature’s sweets enchanted,
To where fair Helen’s bower stood,
By fancy sketch’d, and beauty planted.
He gazed entranced, as light the latch
He slily raised to beg admission,
Waited her dark blue glance to catch,
Then lowly proffer’d his petition.
“A feeble boy, alas! am I,
No parents’ tender care is mine,
I’ve miss’d the wood-path here hard by,
I’ve lost my home, and stray’d to thine;
I’m weary, too, think on my lot,
Without thine aid, alas! I’ll perish;
Then, oh! receive me in thy cot.
And a forlorn poor baby cherish.”
She heard his pray’r, she wept, she smiled,
Then kindly bade the boy good morrow:
And, oh! the urchin soon beguiled
The heart that strove to soothe his sorrow.

* On his deathbed, Sir Robert Peel sent a donation, which arrived just in time to pay his burial fees! As in the case of Haydon; is it not lamentable to think that in this great and opulent country, the succours intended by the dispensers of Government “patronage” for the unfortunate sons of genius, should be so often and so long delayed, that, if given at all, they literally supply a stone where they ought to have furnished bread. The last gasp of the fearful struggle may indeed be happily over, rather than be embittered by the communication of a useless relief, which

While, simple maid! too late she found,
Go where she may, there love would wander;
And not a spot, tho’ fairy ground,
Could keep her soul and his asunder.

I have chosen the following more on account of their lively character than aught else:—

The last lamp of the alley
Is burning alone!
All its brilliant companions
Are shiver’d and gone.
No lamp of her kindred,
No burner is nigh,
To rival her glimmer,
Or light to supply.
I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To vanish in smoke;
As the bright ones are shatter’d
Thou, too, shalt be broke:
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy globe o’er the street
Where the watch in his rambles
Thy fragments shall meet.
Then home will I stagger
As well as I may,
By the light of my nose sure
I’ll find out the way.
When thy blaze is extinguished,
Thy brilliancy gone,
Oh! my beak shall illumine
The alley alone.

if timeously afforded might have cheered many a day of hopeless misery and enriched our national literature with products, partaking of the splendours of a Sun which sets on the calm of a summer evening. Alas! poor Yorick! Alas! poor Maginn!

My heart leaps up when I behold
A bailiff in the street:
’Twas so since from one first I ran;
’Twas so even in the Isle of Man:
’Twill be so even in Newgate’s hold,
Or in the Fleet!
A trap is hateful to a man!
And my whole course in life shall be
Bent against them in just antipathy!

From a dreamy jeu d’esprit, in which the writer writes the poem whilst fancying he is not writing at all, I copy the last two stanzas. It is entitled

And now, as on the freshening grass I lay
Just as oblivious as a dandy lord,
Forgetful of the duel or the fray,
The opprobrious name, the pistol or the sword,—
Finding that I had versified away,
Not thinking I composed a single word,—
Says I, I’ll send my verses, light and airy,
To the Gazette surnamed the Literary.
I like that journal well. But then perchance
Lines without title, meaning, or connection,
May not delight the editorial glance
Of him, whose name there is no need to mention;
True: but they can as high a claim advance
On meaning’s score, as some of more pretension.
Then for a name—Pshaw! give it for a name
Ballidehob—the place from whence it came.
(Parody—See,“When he who adores thee.”)
When he, who adores thee, has left but the dregs
Of such famous old stingo behind,
Oh! say, will he bluster or weep—no, ifegs!
He’ll seek for some more of the kind.
He’ll laugh, and though doctors perhaps may condemn,
Thy tide shall efface the decree,
For many can witness, though subject to phlegm,
He has always been faithful to thee!
With thee were the dreams of his earliest love,
Every rap in his pocket was thine,
And his very last prayer, every morning by Jove,
Was to finish the evening in wine.
How blest are the tipplers whose heads can outlive
The effects of four bottles of thee;
But the next dearest blessing that Heaven can give,
Is to stagger home muzzy from three!
(See Tom Moore’s “I saw from the Beach,” &c.)
To the Finish* I went, when the moon it was shining,
The jug round the table moved jovially on;
I staid till the moon the next morn was declining;
The jug still was there, but the punch was all gone;
And such are the joys that your brandy will promise,
(And often these joys at the Finish I’ve known)
Every copper it makes in the evening ebb from us,
And leaves us next day with a headache alone!
Ne’er tell me of puns, or of laughter adorning
Our revels, that last till the close of the night;
Give me back the hard cash that I left in the morning,
For clouds dim my eye, and my pocket is light.
O! who’s there who welcomes that moment’s returning,
When daylight must throw a new light on his frame—
When his stomach is sick, and his liver is burning—
His eyes, shot with blood, and his brow in a flame!

The following is a felicitous fancy, without a rival in modern playful literature.


“You know, of course, the many charges against the unfaithfulness of translators, and against their frequent destruction of all the force, power, tenderness, sublimity, wit, &c., of the original; but I have never seen yet any

* Alas! also poor Finish! in times to come some new Cockney Greybeard may arise to do justice to the gay scenes I have witnessed in thee, in the days of Sheridan and Westminster Elections.

satisfactory project proposed, by which the powers of the translator and original author could be both fairly represented in one book. True it is that you may print the original in one page and the translation in the opposite, but this is a poor mechanical bookbinding expedient.
Dean Swift, you may remember, on getting a translation of Horace thus arranged, very quietly tore out the English part, and declared that he could safely say that half the book was good, and was much obliged to the compiler for giving him so easy a method of separating the worthy from the unworthy. But a project which I have devised will save the translator from such wicked waggery, while it will do as well to show off the original.

“I have begun on Horace, he being a jocose and handy author, and I send you a specimen of my labours.

“You will perceive that my plan is to give lines alternately English and Latin, the former my own, the latter from my friend Flaccus. We are both thus fairly represented, just as in divided counties a Whig and Tory member are returned to satisfy both parties without giving trouble. If the public approve, I shall publish a translation of all the odes in this style; and if the public be a person of any taste, I am sure of general approbation. Meanwhile, Sir, believe me to be

“Your most obedient servant,

“P.S.—Mind to pronounce my Latin lines with Latin accents, not Anglically. Thus, do not say,
Apros in ob-stántes plágas
Aprós in ób-stantés plágas
and slur the short syllables of tribrachs and anapæsts, so as to bring them into order.”

Blest man! who far from busy hum,
Ut prisca gens mortalium,
Whistles his team afield with glee
Solutus omni fœnore:
He lives in peace, from battles free,
Neq’ horret iratum mare;
And shuns the forum, and the gay
Potentiorum limina.
Therefore to vines of purple gloss
Alta maritat populos,
Or pruning off the boughs unfit
Feliciores inserit;
Or in a distant vale at ease
Prospectat errantes greges;
Or honey into jars conveys,
Aut tondet infirmas oves.
When his head decked with apples sweet
Autumnus agris extulit
At plucking pears he’s quite au-fait
Certant, et uvam purpuræ.
Some for Priapus, for thee some
Sylvane, tutor finium!
Beneath an oak ’tis sweet to be
Mod’ in tenaci gramme:
The streamlet winds in flowing maze;
Queruntur in sylvis aves;
The fount in dulcet murmur plays
Somnos quod invitet leves.
But when the winter comes (and that
Imbres nivesque comparat)
With dogs he forces oft to pass
Apros in obstantes plagas;
Or spreads his nets so thick and close,
Turdis edacibus dolos;
Or hares, or cranes, from far away
Jucunda captat præmia:
The wooer love’s unhappy stir
Hæc inter obliviscitur.
His wife can manage without loss
Domum et parvos liberos;
(Suppose her Sabine, or the dry
Pernicis uxor Appuli.)
Who piles the sacred hearthstone high
Lassi sub ad-ventúm viri.
And from his ewes, penned lest they stray,
Distenta siccet libera;
And this year’s wine disposed to get
Dapes inemptas apparet.
Oysters to me no joys supply,
Magisve rhombus, aut scari.
(If when the east winds boisterous be
Hyems ad hoc vertat mare)
Your turkey pout is not to us,
Non attagen Ionicus.
So sweet as what we pick at home
Oliva ramis arborum;
Or sorrel, which the meads supply,
Malvæ salubres corpori—
Or lamb, slain at a festal show,
Tel hædus ereptus lupo.
Feasting, ’tis sweet the creature’s dumb,
Videre prop’rantés domum,
Or oxen with the ploughshare go,
Collo trahentes languido;
And all the slaves stretched out at ease,
Circum renidentes Lares.
Alphius the usurer, babbled thus,
Jam jam futurus rusticus,
Called in his cash on th’ Ides—but he
Quærit Calendis ponere.
I stood upon St. Peter’s battlement,
And my eye wandered o’er Imperial Rome,
And I thought sadly on the fatal doom
’Neath which her ancient palaces had bent;
Of temple and tower outrageously uprent,
Or moulder’d into dust by slow decay:
Of halls where godlike Cæsar once bore sway,
Or glorious Tully fulmin’d eloquent!
So shall all earthly fade! what wonder then,
If Time can make such all-unsparing wreck,
If neither genius, art, nor skill of men,
Can e’en pretend his felon-hand to check,
That this old coat, I’ve worn these three years past,
Should on each elbow want a patch at last?
In London, queen of cities, you may see
Facing the lordly house of Somerset,
A goodly, tall round tower. Its base is wet
With Thames’ fair waters rolling quietly;
Who was it built this tower? what may it be?
Say, was it piled by Druid hands of old!
Or rear’d by Eastern magi, there to hold
The sacred flame, type of their deity?
Was it a hermit’s calm retreat? or pile
Where hung sonorous the resounding bell?
Or is it such as in green Erin’s isle
We see, whose uses nobody can tell?—
’Twas answered:—Who ’twas built it, know I not,
But ’tis, I know, the tower for Patent Shot.

I add only one of the writer’s prose bagatelles:—


“In Phillips’sLife of Curran’ we have a vast deal, in that gentleman’s peculiar style, about the great uneasiness and the tender feelings of his hero, concerning his domestic circumstances. There is much fustian of the same kind in O’Regan’sMemoirs of Curran,’ but I am very much inclined to think that no such sorrows existed. In Ireland it is very generally believed that Mrs. Curran was an extremely injured woman, and her family, a highly respectable one, received her with open arms after the verdict obtained against her supposed paramour. Many ugly stories are current with respect to the evidence adduced on the trial; and Curran was so anxious to hinder the proceedings on it from obtaining publicity, that he had notices served on all the newspapers of Dublin, enjoining them not to publish it, and accordingly it never was given to the public.


“The reason that inclines me to think that he never felt very severely his matrimonial misfortune, is the great levity with which he was frequently in the habit of speaking about it. A couple of coarse jests on the subject have come to my knowledge, for the accuracy of the first of which I can positively vouch, and the second I have on tolerably good authority. He was a fine musician, and had frequently concerts in his house in Dublin. At one of these a young barrister of Cork, a distinguished amateur, bore a part. After the concert had concluded, Curran went up to him and said, ‘Well, H——, what do you think of that? Do you think it at least as good as any of your Cork concerts?’ ‘Why,’ replied his friend, ‘it was very fine; but in Cork we can procure military music much more readily than you can in Dublin. The want of it was very discernible in your concert; for instance,’ said he, repeating a passage, ‘would not the French horn have made a great improvement there?’ ‘Well, H——,’ said Curran, laughing, ‘you are the first who has complained of the want of horns in my house.’

“On another occasion, he and the late Sir Richard Musgrave, the historian of the ‘Rebellion in Ireland,’ whose lady’s frailties were numerous and notorious, met at the house of a common friend. They were decidedly hostile in politics to each other, and had even proceeded to personal altercations. On being summoned up stairs to the dining-room, they happened to arrive at the foot of the stairs together, and, as it is usual on such occasions when enemies meet, their behaviour was ceremoniously polite. Weary at length of alternately ceding the pas, Sir Richard, assuming an air of familiarity, took him by the arm, and said, ‘Well, well, let us settle the matter by walking up together.’ ‘Pardon me, Sir Richard,’ replied Curran, ‘that is impossible; our antlers would entangle.’


“He that could jest thus could not feel deeply. I have heard also, that on the day of the trial in which his wife’s character was involved, he appeared in an obscure corner of the court, where, however, he could be seen by the opposing lawyer, and there diverted himself with putting him out during his speech, by erecting his fore fingers over his ears, making faces, and performing various droll gesticulations, for which he had a peculiar talent. Whether this be true or not I cannot say, but it is commonly believed; and I am sure that could he hear half the eloquence bestowed on his woes by Phillips he would laugh outright in his face. That he had not a very high opinion of his biographer, the following anecdote will evince. He came into Phillips’s room one day while he was writing, and inquired what he was about; ‘I am writing a speech, sir,’ was the reply, ‘and I can tell you that I intend to give your friend, Mr. Grattan, a rating in it.’ ‘Never mind, Charley,’ said Curran, ‘never mind it; it would only be a child throwing a stone at the leg of a Colossus.’

Curran’s talents were of the very first order, but they were too often sadly misapplied, and the stern moralist would find much to censure both in his public and in his private life; but he was a highly fascinating man in conversation. His wit, his drollery, his eloquence, his pathos, were all irresistible. The only defect in him in this respect was a love of acting, which made his wit often degenerate into mere buffoonery, and his pathos into canting and overstrained sentiment.

“It must have been in some of these latter moods that his biographers observed his sensibility; but there never was anything real in it. It was often put on even to convey ill-natured remarks, and as my straggling letter (which has far outstripped the bounds I at first intended)
has been little more than a vehicle of jests, I shall conclude by giving another, connected with this splenetic tenderness of heart. At a supper party in Brighton, I believe, he began to lament the desolation of his old age; ‘he was a solitary, unfortunate old man,’ he said, ‘who had not even a child he could call his own.’ His
son was sitting at table with him at the very time! This observation created much disgust in the company, and a young barrister who was present, in relating it afterwards to an elder brother of his profession, added with much vehemence, ‘By God, if my father had said so in my presence, I would have forgotten all filial reverence and knocked him down.’ ‘Ay,’ said the senior, ‘that would certainly prove that you were not a natural son.’

“I have unconsciously intruded on your space, and must conclude by apologising for it, and subscribe myself,

“Your humble servant,
D. O. C.

I mentioned in a preceding chapter that Maginn was engaged to be the foreign correspondent of the unfortunate “Representative” newspaper, and went to Paris with that intent; and the following letter from Mr. Murray throws a gleam of light upon that undertaking. The last letter I have added, displays the writer in his undisguised moods, and may perhaps cause some readers to suspect that back-stair influence and good-natured friends may sometimes produce a little effect upon the literary guides of public opinion. If so, I cannot help it; it is better than if hostility and malevolence dictated the perversion.

“Whitehall-place, Dec. 12, 1825.
My dear Sir,

“I cannot allow a moment to pass without thanking you for your very kind and valuable letter. Some of your hints arrest my intention, and others confirm it, and none will, I assure you, be thrown away. Few things of this kind have, I believe, commenced with more enlarged views or more honourable intentions, or, perhaps, with more extensive and powerful means of giving them effect; but I am not less sensible to the risk of so complicated an enterprise, however well imagined, from the difficulty of its execution. I have never attempted anything with more considerate circumspection, or with more satisfactory hopes of success, but no one can form an estimate of a publication of this kind, until it is published, so accept my best thanks for your good wishes.

Mr. Lockhart becomes the editor of the ‘Quarterly Review’ after the publication of the next number. Mr. Coleridge’s engagements at the bar have nearly doubled during the last twelve months, and he merely held the appointment until I could make up my mind as to a successor. Mr. Coleridge is, without exception, one of the most truly amiable men I ever met with.

“Believe me, my dear Sir,
“Very truly yours,
W. Jerdan, Esq.”
“8, Marlborough-street, Cork,
December 9.
Dear Sir,

“I received in due time your letter through the hands of Mr. Foss, and thank you for your attention in answering my question so promptly. I was not a little
amused with the cool way in which you asked me to call on you, as I happened to be snugly located in this good city of Cork, some hundred miles off, which is rather an unpleasant distance for a morning call. I shall, however, see you in a fortnight or so.

“I write to you—for there is no use of talking humbug—to ask you for a favourable critique, or a puff, or any other thing of the kind—the word being no matter—of a forthcoming novel at Blackwood’s, ‘Percy Mallory,’ as soon as convenient. It is by the author of ‘Pen Owen;’ who that is I do not know; but I guess, as I suppose so do you. Ebony may perhaps write you about it, for he is an indefatigable letter-writer; but at all events you will oblige me by giving it a favourable and early notice in your ‘Gazette.’ In return, I vow to you a hecatomb of puns, and shall sacrifice the English tongue without remorse as fillings for your columns.

“Yours faithfully,

Maginn’s strictures on Debrett’s Peerage had so decided an effect in producing the improvement of all this class of publication, and ensuring the greater care of new competitors such as Burke, in the same line; and is, altogether so humorous an exposé of genealogical blundering, that I am tempted to add the four brief articles (the first and the last by him) in the Appendix.* It is hardly worth while to notice that in former times it was no unusual thing for the conductors of such works to be accused of receiving very handsome douceurs for post-dating the births of unmarried ladies who might not wish to appear so old as they really were when the book was published.

* Appendix I.