LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton

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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No mortal ever from that bourne departs;
Yet many oft unto that land repair—
Some with crush’d hopes, and some with riven hearts,
And most in anguish deep and fill’d with care;
And some, who on their lofty brows do bear
Great scorn of that false world they did forsake,
Who hither came to battle with despair,
And with high gods the nectareous draughts partake
And breathe the breath of fame—and die, for glory’s sake.

My acquaintance with the Abbé Angel Denis M’Quin commenced in a review of his volume entitled “Tabella Cibaria,” and one of the happiest jeux d’esprit of my time—playful, facetious, and witty, and evolving many ingenious hits of humour. My brief critique brought me the favour of a notice from the author, thanking me for my “flattering encomium,” and justifying the classicality of the title, which I had slightly questioned; as follows: “The author begs to observe that he also doubted the propriety of joining the adjective cibaria to Tabella, so far that the very stamina of the work stood originally under the words (you suggest) Tabella Cibariorum; but that, having found sufficient authority to support him, and particularly that ‘Lex
cibaria’ (a case in point) had been used by several authors, he set his scruples aside, and adopted the present title.”

Above a year after this, my unknown correspondent wrote to me that he was preparing a work under the title of Etymological Gleanings, interspersed with curious anecdotes, historical explanations, et cetera, and intended as a Supplement to the last edition of Johnson’s Dictionary, and enclosing me some of the manuscript. As was to be expected from the author of “The Bill of Fare,” I found the specimens very learned and very entertaining; the production of a wonderfully well read classical and mediæval scholar, and as full of point as of learning. From time to time I printed selections from this delightful store, and all the while attributed it to my friend Archdeacon Nares, whom I was then in the habit of meeting frequently on the formation of the Royal Society of Literature, and supposed that he sported the anonyme only to give more zest to the jocular vein of the communication. That no more of this matter than forty-two columns in the “Gazette” has been preserved, is a great loss to the public; for my extracts ceased with the letter A (122 quotations) and a portion of B; and the whole Alphabet, treated in the same manner, would have formed one of the most pleasant and instructive works of its class that ever was published. It is impossible to afford any adequate idea of the merits without occupying more room than I can spare (under a modification of the plan of publishing my memoirs); but I will offer a few of the shortest extractable passages, and such as do not require the types of Hebrew, Greek, Saxon, German, et cetera, not to mention Chinese, French, and other languages in our usual typography:—

Abstemious, adj., [abstemius, Latin, from abs without, and temetum, strong wine]. Pliny tells us that Cato Major
(who according to
Horace had no objection to a brimmer of generous wine—
‘Narratur et prisci Catonis
Sæpe mero incaluisse virtus’
Od., lib. iii., xxi.)
had slily advised his relations to kiss their wives on their coming home, in order to detect whether they had drunk wine with their gossips when abroad.

“The reader may not have remarked that in the word abstemious the five vowels of the alphabet stand in their grammatical order a, e, i, o, u. The word facetious offers the same accidental singularity; and facetiously brings in the y.

Absurd adj. [absurdus, Latin, from ab and surdus]. Meaning something as foolish as might be the answer of a deaf person to an unheard question—Ab surdo responsum absurdum est.

Beet-root. Beet is in general derived from the Latin Beta, or Bœta, analogous to the name of the river Bætis in Spain (now Guadalquivir) on the fertile banks of which this olus spontaneously grew, and whence it was transported to Italy about one hundred and fifty years before the Christian era.” [There is a much longer and amusing illustration of Beet, and the French Bête, and the Latin Betizare, (Suetonius, Aug. 87), and the French Betizer].

The derivation of Beef-eater, from Buvette, Buffet, (from boire, buvons, buvez, to drink,) a sideboard or place to take refreshments, is curious, and thence the conversion of Buvetiers or Buffatières, gardes de la buvette, who had the keys and charge of the liquors there administered, into Beef-eaters, where there was no beef, is an easy transition.
In Paris, now, the what we call the bar in a tavern, is the buvette at the “Ginguettes.”

Bark, the name of a ship, is derived from the earliest of vessels, constructed of the bark of trees; and some connection with the Ark is hinted at.

Such scraps must here suffice for the taste of the rich banquet, respecting which I never could gain any satisfactory information; and I will only quote one passage more of a general and philosophical nature, though it be to augment our regret at losing aught, and especially so much, from the pen of so accomplished a writer:—

“Of all animals man is the only one that has not been gifted with a natural language. I explain:—The roaring of the lion, neighing of the horse, braying of the ass, barking of the dog, warbling of the bird, hissing of the serpent, croaking of the frog, etc., are understood by every individual of their species in all parts of the world. The cricket of London would answer the call of the cricket of Paris, and the owl of the abbey ruins of Scotland might condole in vernacular strains with the owl who mopes and ‘to the moon complains’ on the remains of the Colosseum at Rome. But man, thrown away by accident from the identical spot where he has been educated, is deaf and dumb to the rest of mankind. Why this difference between him and the brute? Did Nature frown on his birth, as romancers would say, and wantonly refuse him what she granted to the lowest individual in the creation? God forbid that we should insult the unerring wisdom of His providence. By way of compensation for the lack of some natural or innate faculties which other animals possess, such as the knowledge of making nests, the distinguishing, at first sight, between good and bad food, and the native
sounds which interpret their affections, passions, and wants all over the world to their respective tribes, without the help of grammar or dictionaries,—man is endowed with that exclusive prerogative called Reason. With it, man has received, as a natural consequence, the perceptibility of his original talent—an heavenly concession; a pledge of immortality, which the brute species were refused at the hands of their Creator.” * * * *

At a later date a letter from Mr. Beckford of Fonthill, informed me that my anonymous correspondent was a personal friend of his. He farther gave me a brief sketch of him and his history; which letter, interesting on other accounts, I hope to meet with in my paper-hunting hereafter; but all I recollect now is, that he was before the revolution one among the wealthiest of the French ecclesiastics, who barely escaped from the guillotine with his life. That though an epicure, of the most exquisite taste (and his Tabella Cibaria bore witness to it), he would avail himself of only a moderate assistance to enable him to enjoy his refined gourmetism on the cheapest fare, would rarely accept the invitations of the few friends who knew and appreciated him, and sojourned in an obscure lodging in Southwark, generally his own caterer and always his own cook. After a long exile, cheered by occasional visits to the gorgeous palace of Fonthill,* the contrast of contrasts to his abode

* From Fonthill, in the autumn of 1822, he contributed an able essay on the Satyricon attributed to Petronius Arbiter, and a series of papers giving an historical account of the Abbey, a biography of the family of Beckford, the author of “Vathek,” and a fine description of the place and its contents previous to the grand sale. The second paper was illustrated by a drawing, of which I published a neat engraving. The fifth is in verse, and concludes with the following tribute:

Through the blazon’d halls,
The storied galleries and princely rooms,

in the Borough, the restoration of
Louis XVIII. enabled him to return to France, which he did, as he informed me in 1814, and was reinstated in a considerable part, if not the whole, of his funded property, though his landed possessions were lost for ever. But the long practical habits of his London life had got too firm a hold of him; and he once more sought a residence, though of a superior class, on the banks of the Thames. Here he continued, not to vegetate, but to indulge in his literary researches and cuisine recherchée,* including the cellar, not despising the hotel accommodations of Greenwich, in their season, or

A bright galaxy of heraldic stars,
Long lines of noble ancestry, declare
Who planned, who raised the splendid mansion, where,
Above the puny jarrings of the world,
Above the strife for glory and for power,
“Wrapt in his cloak of learning and of art—
A mind of fire, a deeply feeling heart,—
The founder stands aloft,—a stranger to our sphere!

* I ought not, in justice, to allow the portrait of a Gourmet to be received as a likeness of this remarkable man, a short serious poem by whom, at this period, is enough to prove his depth of religious feeling, reverential awe, and holy aspirations.

Like the low murmur of the secret stream,
Which through dank alders winds its shaded way,
My suppliant voice is heard: ah! do not dream
That on vain toys I throw my time away.
In the recesses of the forest-vale,
On the wild mountain, on the verdant sod,
Where the fresh breezes of the morn prevail,
I wander lonely, communing with God.
When the faint sickness of a wounded heart
Creeps in cold shudderings through my sinking frame,
I turn to Thee,—that holy peace impart,
Which soothes the invokers of Thy awful name.
O all pervading Spirit—sacred beam—
Parent of life and light—Eternal Power—
Grant me, through obvious clouds, one transient gleam
Of Thy bright essence in my dying hour!

turtle, whitebait, and champagne, and, in short, demonstrating how much an abbé of the nineteenth century could surpass a friar of the fifteenth, in the superabundance and preparations of viands then unknown, and in pressing elegance into the service of luxury. In the fulness of time he was, at the close of July, 1823, gathered to his parent earth. Requiescat in pace!

I might have mentioned that his habits were extremely studious, and that he seldom retired to rest till three or four o’clock in the morning, and always rose at eight o’clock. An anonymous correspondent, signing himself A. Z., wrote to me, after his death, that “his papers were locked up;” but I never could ascertain more, nor what became of them. The following are the last two letters I found of his among my masses:—

“Dec. 31, 1822.
Dear Sir,

“Had it not been for a temporary numbness in the fingers of my right hand, which prevented my writing, and for the certainty that you were not in want of matter, especially at this time, I should have sent back ‘Pope and Mademoiselle Dacier’* several days sooner. Although the proof was not faultless, considering the quantity of Greek, Latin, and French it contains, I think it was tolerably clean in the state it came to me. Make use of it how and when you think proper.

“If I could persuade myself that the removal of the veil which still hangs between you and me could afford you the least gratification, it would be done instantly; but I am convinced you would find yourself disappointed. This adoption of the anonyme is more owing to a whim of mine than to anything else; yet, until the ‘Gleanings’ have

* An interesting disquisition published in the Literary Gazette, No. 314.

found a purchaser, you must forgive me; and I know you will, for nobody can be more thankfully and more sincerely,

“My dear sir,
“Yours, than
“April 23, 1823.
Dear Sir,

“Having no doubt but the annexed paper will amuse some of your readers, I place it entirely at your disposal.

“Pray, is my ‘Man of Brass’* gone to the Refuge? Alas, poor man! if you cannot give him a better place, leave him there, or return it, if not inconvenient, to

“Dear Sir,
“Yours truly,
“At Messrs. Robins & Co.,
Stationers, Tooley Street.”

The return of Captain Parry from the Expedition of the Hecla and Griper to the Arctic regions, stimulated me to much exertion; and I not only procured very interesting accounts of the voyage for the “Gazette,” which raised its circulation, but formed intimacies with several of the officers, and enabled my journal to establish itself almost as an official organ for all future Expeditions, having the first and most authentic intelligence of their proceedings. This was an essential benefit to the publication; but far greater pleasures arose out of the friendships emanating from this source, and so cordially enjoyed with our most distinguished navigators. Among the foremost I may mention the gallant Sir James Clark Ross, and after him Beverley, the surgeon, and Alexander Fisher, of the Hecla (of whose

* In “Literary Gazette,” No. 333, June 7.

immediate “Journal” of the Expedition I procured the publication, and saw it through the press),
Colonel (then Captain) Sabine, Captain Crozier, Mr. Beechy, and other brave fellows, to whose talk, like Othello’s, of ‘hairbreadth ’scapes, and antres vast, and deserts idle,’ it was a delight to listen. It is laughable enough to read in the Gazette, now in altogether different hands, an occasional reference to past years, such as “we then observed so and so,” or, “we stated our opinion that,” et cetera, taking due credit for the prescience and judgment of a We with whom the present we has nothing in common, as the original we has nothing to do with the opinions or conduct of this we! The King is dead—Vive le Roi!

In October, 1823, upon a similar occasion, when the Fury and Hecla reached home, from Captain Parry’s second voyage, I made one of those stirring exertions which, as I have stated before, used (for I do not think they do now produce such striking effects) often to contribute to the marked success of any newspaper or periodical publication which got the start with intelligence of national interest. In consequence of my former intercourse with the officers, I was received on board the vessels then lying at the Galleons below Woolwich, on Wednesday forenoon, and came up with them to Deptford dockyard (off which they moored). I had only a few hours to acquire, in the midst of much bustle and interruption, the information I sought; and it was late on Wednesday night when I reached home, tolerably tired. But I set to work “with a will,” and had a good account of the Expedition in the “Gazette” of Saturday morning, which was followed by a second on the ensuing Saturday; and the circulation of the journal rose seven hundred, getting it, before the end of the year, to print four thousand copies.


Thus buoyant, I made an attempt to relieve myself from the pressure of the barren past; but the riddance could not be achieved; and it was still Hope and the Employment I delighted in, which cheered me on, and covered troubles and vexations, as bees enclose offensive matters with sarcophagi of wax.

Parties hostile to the “Gazette,” and imitators and rivals, as they sprang up, never ceased to represent it as a tool of the publishers connected with it, and not conducted on independent principles. Nothing could be more untrue than this libel: from first to last I never admitted one whisper of control. Even so early as the time I am now treating off, I see a letter from Mr. Orme, alluding to an offence taken by Mr. Colburn at my review of one of his books. “Our co-partner may be sore; but the lady deserves all she has got; and these independent articles do us a world of good. Alexander Chambers told me, on Saturday, that he was induced to take in the ‘Gazette’ from what he heard of the article on Dibdin, to every word of which he subscribed.” So far so good; but, some time after, I happened to write a notice of Mrs. Graham’s (afterwards Lady Callcott) work, which gave no less offence to Mr. Longman; and I did not visit Hampstead for two years after. Mr. Longman tried to compromise matters; and only desired that if I could not commend in certain cases where he felt a personal interest, I would abstain altogether from noticing; but even this modification I refused to accede to, as it would be dishonest in a publication which professed to give a fair report of all the literary production of the passing time. The falsehood was, nevertheless, pertinaciously repeated till it was a good deal believed; and it was small comfort to me that I had frequent proofs in my possession where the very parties who spread the report
were absolutely prostituting their own services venally to publishers.

In 1820, Mrs. Bray, then Mrs. Stothard, and since so distinguished as a novelist, first appeared in print as the author of “A Tour in Normandy,” &c.; and Mr. Payne Collier commenced his literary career with the “Poetical Decameron,” indicating the entire route he has since so diligently pursued. Accum’sDeath in the Pot” showed the way to Aunt Margaret’s papers on the adulteration of food, which ran through a year of the “Gazette;” and a course which the “Lancet” has recently followed more systematically, and with more effect. It is one of the utmost importance to the population of the metropolis, the very air of which is saturated with frauds perpetrated to an enormous extent on every branch of the provision trade. Of the infamous practices resorted to I had plenty of demonstration during Aunt Margaret’s researches; and some so vile as to be absolutely unfit for publication, and some almost farcically amusing. The shopman of a grocer not far from Fitzroy-square, whose master had kicked him out from jealousy of his wife helping to mix the teas in the cellar, had in revenge agreed to reveal the whole process of manufacturing privet leaves and thorn into congous and hysons. But he failed to come to appointment and earn his fee; and when asked the reason, he excused himself on the ground that a friend was about to enable him to open a shop in the same line, and, of course, it would not do to let the public know anything about it!

Bernard Barton was hailed by the “Gazette” on his debut with a volume of poems in the spring, and also on the appearance of a slighter performance, “A Day in Autumn,” though published in November. A Quaker bard needed encouragement, who dared to vindicate the rights of
formal broad-cloth and beaver, to the finer feelings of humanity and the poetry of imagination; especially if it were true that
Scott of Amwell was beset on his deathbed by bigots earnest, but in vain, to induce him to repent of the sin of verse. Friend Barton and I became literary and friendly correspondents from the earliest of the above dates, and many a long letter did I receive from him, for he was not sparing in pen, ink, and paper when occasion offered; but his first and introductory epistle is so curious an exposition of the question involved in the union of Quakerism and poetry, and so striking a confession of the writer’s own feelings on the subject—feelings which ruled the whole of his future poetical life and voluminous productions—that I am sure it will be perused with more than common interest both by the general reader, and the Society of which he was so prominent a member. As a proof also of the progress of liberal and enlightened views in clearing away sectarian prejudices, the commencement and reception of Bernard Barton by all religious denominations, and his whole career of authorship, form a literary epoch in the sphere to which they appertain, and therefore I proceed to give the letter alluded to:—

“Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2nd Mo. 26th, 1820.
Respected Friend,

“An individual taking upon himself to address, in his own undisguised name, one whom he can only designate officially, starts with vast odds; because he has no idea how he may most effectually further his own views; how far candour may be construed impertinence, or a prudent reserve imply distrust. I can have no other data to go on, in this case, than a consciousness how I should myself be most easily induced to give my attention to an unknown corres-
pondent, and knowing that I should excessively dislike long apologies to begin with, I shall proceed at once to the point.

“I am engaged just now in superintending a volume of poetry through the press, or, in other words, expect shortly to have one out. As soon as it is ready for delivery, and if possible, a few days before any copies are laid on a bookseller’s counter, I could wish to have one transmitted to thee. This is all in the usual course, certainly, and could hardly require any previous address; but as a thousand things may prevent me at the time from explaining my views as to the claims of this volume on public notice, and as I have a leisure half hour this evening, I feel quite disposed to avail myself of it. Indeed, I could wish, before I actually present my production to thy critical inspection and consequent verdict, to have some grounds for hoping, not that it will be praised, but that it will be fairly and fully examined. Without some such encouragement, I might naturally doubt whether a volume of poems coming out neither from the Row, Albemarle-street, Conduit-street, nor any other birth-place of equal celebrity, but from Grace-church-street, and having in the title-page a name never before in print, would be ever looked into.

“But now for a word or two as to the book itself, and its claims on public notice. Its author is certainly not the most suitable judge of those claims; though I believe, judging from the occasional comments in the ‘Literary Journal,’ we should not differ very materially on the merits of the volume. I have read too much excellent poetry to over-rate my own very egregiously; but waving this part of the business, I may be allowed perhaps to know more than any one can of my own views in publishing, and my own feelings in composing these poems; and perhaps I may be
allowed, in reference to them, to state why I think the book ought to have a reading. Of the feelings which dictated them, I shall only say that they are not precisely
Arthur Brooke’s; some of them are not feelings of which I should be inclined to boast in company, but of none of them should I be ashamed in private: on this point my limits will not allow me to say more. As to my views in publishing, they are not mercenary; for I expect no profit; they are not aspiring—for fame would be of little value to me, though I by no means affect to think lightly of the praise of competent and intelligent judges—but I have published, or rather prevailed on the booksellers to publish, this volume as an experiment how far a Quaker Poet might hope to win attention. This is, so far as I know, the first volume of poems published by a member of our Society, bearing the visible stamp of Quakerism upon it. Wiffen’sAonian Hours’ does not, to my view, solve the question. I know very well, before I read that volume, that a Quaker might be a poet, if he divested himself of his Quakerism, and wrote in the style of a popular poet. I am not now finding fault with my friend Wiffen, for I was pleased with his book; but it does not determine the compatibility of Poetry and Quakerism to my satisfaction. There is not a little in it, particularly his excessive admiration of Lord Byron, which many a Quaker would be alarmed at. But I am inclined to think poetry may be composed with strict consistency, and by no means in opposition to the spirit of our code—and yet not be exclusively religious. He who undertakes the task has a nice path to tread; I may have failed, but I wish the work to be known, that by being known the question may be decided. It is needless for me to add, what I think my frankness may have proved, that I have written in that unreserved confidence with which I should
myself wish to be addressed, and in which I subscribe myself,

“Thy respectful Friend,

“P.S. If not requesting too great a favour, I would add that I should have great pleasure in paying the postage of a few lines in reply to this. I have no improper curiosity about who my correspondents may be, so, if most agreeable, keep up thy impersonality and address me officially. A letter will find me addressed Bernard Barton, Woodbridge, Suffolk.”

This letter of the 26th of February, not having been promptly acknowledged, was followed by another of the 19th of March, in which the subject is resumed, and from which the subjoined are extracts:—.

“The ‘Literary Gazette’ has now assumed a feature so different, and I should think to most readers and lovers of literature, so much more interesting than most of our literary journals, that the attention of authors, readers, and publishers is turned to it with accelerated and increasing force. I have certainly long been of opinion that a journal frequent in its appearance, copious in its selections, brief in its criticisms, and enabling the public thus to judge for itself on the merits of new claimants for its favour, would soon obtain an extensive circulation. People begin to get tired of seeing so much of the critic, and so little comparatively of the author, and the ‘Literary Gazette’ is now a rising paper, and its successive numbers are looked for with interest, simply because it is what it professes to be,—a mirror of the literature of the age. Of late the value and interest of the publication has been not a little increased by
its being a sort of avant-courrier of the works it reports, and this advantage, in which it never can be even attempted to be rivalled by its monthly or quarterly competitors, it will, I doubt not, sedulously follow up. An analysis of, and specimens from, works not yet accessible to the public, must always give peculiar value, in the estimation of the reading part of the public, to any journal.”

Upon this ground he promises to send me an early impression, and adds:—

“Do not let me be misunderstood. If this rough copy, on candid inspection of its contents, should appear to thee not deserving of being thus introduced to the public, yet if any inclination on thy part exist to have a fair copy of it for thy personal and private gratification, it is equally at thy service, trusting that thou wilt, in such case, give me thy private and personal opinion on its merits.

“I must acknowledge I feel no small solicitude respecting this publication, for the reasons stated in my last. I am anxious to know, in the opinion of accomplished and adequate judges, how far we, members of the Society of Friends, have a just and legitimate right
“‘To sport in syllables and play with song,’
The Review of
Wiffen’sAonian Hours’ has proved that, in the estimation of the literary, we are not proscribed or interdicted the cultivation of such poetical talent as we may be gifted with by nature. I am inclined myself to think that poetical feeling and poetical talent is existent in our Society to a much greater extent than witlings of the superficial order are disposed to give us credit for. How far my volume may illustrate either, or exemplify both, I am content
to leave to the judgment of those who really love poetry; but I have not ventured on this publication, and especially on prefixing my name to it, and betraying its Quaker origin by the dates of several of the pieces, without some previous thought. Though, in my original determination to publish, I had neither adviser nor confidant, (and I have said so in the preface, that my poetical sins may not be imputed to my fellow-professors, some of whom I believe to look with a cautious eye on these pursuits,) yet I have, while the volume has been going through the press, frankly consulted and furnished detached specimens of the poetry to literary characters of the very highest eminence, from all of whom I have had the most flattering encouragement, accompanied by the expression of the most cordial hopes that the experiment may answer my most sanguine expectations—not of profit, for I shall not be a penny the richer for it; nor of fame, for what I consider pre-eminently such is the reward only of the loftiest genius;—but that it may prove that there is no necessary connexion between the simplicity of our creed and that uncouth and gothic barbarity of thought and feeling, that sordid selfishness, and phlegmatic torpor, which in the idea of many is associated with it. For my own part, I am a fearless and firm believer not only in the refining, humanising influence of a pure literary taste, of a love for the ‘vision and the faculty divine,’ but of its perfect compatibility with the letter and spirit of our code and creed. It has been said of us, that we are the most illiterate sect in the Christian world, that all our conversation is of merchandise, &c. I do not see why such things necessarily should be, but I do know that the imputation will not be removed unless we have fair play given us, and we cannot be said to have this unless they, in whose hands is vested the power of dispensing notoriety, you who are
the reporters of the literary commonwealth, will have sufficient magnanimity to overlook exterior disadvantages, and bring us forward. To superficial and heartless levity, the very scope afforded to sarcasm and wit by our mere attempts, will always offer an irresistible temptation. Such, taking up a volume of poetry, seeing that the preface is dated 12th Mo., 31st, 1819, or whatever the date may be, may probably exclaim, ‘An excellent joke! here is a volume of poems by a Quaker poet I and dedicated forsooth to his sister!’ But I would appeal to ‘Philip-sober!’ and I would say with the Grecian orator of old, ‘Strike! but hear me’ It is not by such ‘ultra-Crepidarian critics,’ as they have been styled, that the real beauties of our best poets, our
Spenser, Shakspeare, Milton, have been rightly felt; nor have these ever been truly susceptible of the emphasised energy of Byron, the simplicity of Wordsworth, the pathos of Campbell, the spirit and gracefulness of Scott, the tenderness of Rogers; if they had, they would take up such a volume with kindlier feelings, and would rather rejoice in seeing Poetry acquire new votaries from a class unjustly supposed insensible to her charms, than ridicule their efforts.”

I answered this appeal by return of post, and a number of letters were interchanged; but the main subject does not appear to need further illustration, and it may be sufficient to say that my review of the volume in the “Gazette” was so satisfactory to its author, that his immoderate and subsequent correspondence was subscribed by my, i. e. “Thy affectionate and respected friend, B.B.”

In the controversy which I have unwittingly provoked respecting the perils that beset a life dependent upon literature, no less eminent authority than Mr. Justice Talfourd
has given an opinion (see Biography of his schoolfellow,
W. F. Deacon, prefatory to a posthumous novel, called “Annette,” recently published), that failure in the pursuit may frequently be traced to natural inaptitude for its successful cultivation or to habits of improvidence in those who seek its tempting fruits. Now, I am perfectly ready to concede to this reasoning; but I hold that the great majority of melancholy disappointments arise out of other relations, and that the latter branch of the dilemma is often a complete mistake of an effect for a cause: in a word, that the carelessness and imprudence imputed to spring from extraneous sources are far more universally and literally due to the essential and inherent accidents of the imaginative temperament, studious devotedness to deep learning, or the eccentricities too common to true genius,* and consequent immersion in the precarious and ill-requited toils of authorship. I can quote hundreds of instances to demonstrate this sad fact: whereas the contrary tenet is, after all, but a supposititious accusation of moral infirmity and incapable of proof! I am led, however, to these remarks at present by the letters of another Poet, of ten years later date, and which supply one, among the multitude of examples that support the view my experience has led me to adopt; without offence, I hope (though it does not seem so), to those who entertain an opposite opinion. Mr. N. T. Carrington, the author of the “Banks of Tamar” and “Dartmoor” (the latter one of the finest descriptive poems in the English language), will hardly be charged as an unjustified aspirant to poetic fame or a man whose prospects were marred by imprudence. Mr. Carrington, to the noble ambition of the bard, superadded the labours of the schoolmaster. He taught the children of Plymouth and

* The alliance of great wit to madness is not always a fiction; and in an inferior degree of development, it is always adverse to business habits.

Devonport every day and all day long, and in the stillness of night he elaborated these compositions, which have excited general admiration and will hand down his name with honour to a distant posterity. Though published by
Murray, how fared the Poet?

“I am here (he writes me in the cold month of January) struggling with a consumptive disorder, and the north-east gales are trying my frail constitution. If, therefore, dear Sir, you can say anything in favour of the ‘Tamar,’ it would materially brighten the gloom of my prospects at this trying moment.” Over such a statement not unmanly tears might be shed; and I have seen but too many similar pictures! I did my best for the author, and had the year before done him a slight service in procuring admission for minor effusions to the “Bijou” and other annuals; for some of which he was never thanked and from none of which did he reap reward. But to continue my painful story. In the lovely and glowing month of May, when the Nature so admirably painted by Carrington was effulgent with beauty and gushing with life—how is it with him? Listen!

“I am unable to creep into the sunshine without assistance. I am reduced to a skeleton. I have had no school for the last quarter, and subsist entirely from my son’s scanty income.”*

I will not dwell longer on the theme. I had the satisfaction to obtain a grant of money from the Literary Fund for the Poet. He received it and—died.

* Let me add, a good son whose filial affections sustained and comforted the last days of his honoured parent. But he, too, must embrace literature. Fortunately the editing of respectable provincial newspapers has (as in Mr. Deacon’s own case, as a literary contributor to the “Sun”) proved sufficient for a competency. The periodical press, I repeat, is an excellent refuge for the destitute, and but for it the calamities of authors would be much greater and more numerous!