LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 10: Anecdotes

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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Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods;
My heart’s in the highland wherever I go.—Burns.

I have concluded the preceding chapter with a tribute of poetic beauty, conveying much of the feeling I would in vain attempt to express so well; and I am still farther induced to dwell upon the theme, by adopting a not less eloquent, affecting, and truthful summary, for which I am indebted to a friend who admired and loved Mr. Canning like myself. He affectionately says:—

“I can truly affirm that of all men whom I have known, he was the most worthy of being loved and honoured. His intellectual powers were of a splendid cast, and comprised within the radiant range every variety of mental supremacy. But Canning’s private beauty of character far transcended his incomparable public displays. In affectionate amenity
of manner, flowing from unquestionable kindness of heart, I never met his equal. The friend was never lost in the statesman, and his cordiality was not chilled by the elevated region to which his great talents necessarily raised him.

“On the death of Mr. Pitt no rising statesman bade so clearly for future pre-eminence as Mr. Canning. In every department of public distinction he was facile princeps. In all the ingratiating arts of oratory, in the skilful strife of debate, in the triumphant power of unrivalled pleasantry, an intellectual jocoseness of the finest and raciest order, and withal, a command of dignified declamation which never failed to captivate even hostile members, Canning held a bright superiority, before which subordinate stars ‘paled their ineffectual fires.’ To these high qualifications as a senator, he united the useful capabilities of a thorough man of business; not, of course, the technical correctness of mere official routine, but a concentration of mind in dispatching affairs of moment, or matters of minor importance, so as to do what is required to be done with accuracy, conscientiousness, and an avoidance of undue delay. Gifted with these great endowments for a noble career, Canning only assumed his proper position when on the sudden dissolution of ‘All the Talents’ administration, the seals of the Foreign Office were conferred on him. No better minister ever filled that important post, for he was the vigilant guardian of British interests without arrogating for Englishmen rights which clashed with the institutions of other countries. Canning’s removal from office consequent upon his unfortunate difference with Lord Castlereagh is up to this hour a vague spot in history. The truth is, that Canning by his marriage connections became entangled with the aristocracy more than was meet for a brilliant parvenu, whose power consisted mainly in the dignity of
his independence. The government grandees cajoled him, but furtively sided with Lord Castlereagh, and a denouement took place which deprived the state for a long season of the service of Canning as a Minister of the Crown. But as a member of the House of Commons how effective was his eloquence; as the chosen candidate for Liverpool, how wide-spread and nationally encouraging were those popular addresses which went home to the hearts of his immediate constituents! To write the biography of Canning is to write the contemporaneous chronicles of Europe and the world, as every theme affecting the political and social condition of all civilised communities was by turns illuminated by his genius, which gave a comprehensive character to his statesman-like views, and when again in the Cabinet his just influence was commensurate with his universally acknowledged ability.

“At length, the almost perennial premiership of Lord Liverpool fell with the fading faculties of that excellent nobleman, and all eyes were turned upon Canning as the proper pilot of the realm. This glorious popularity and the royal election were disastrous to poor Canning, who, after an ineffectual conflict of five months, sank under the relentless animosity of his former friends. The sorrowful singularity of this loss of a great man consists in the fact that he was harassed by the enmity of his former political friends, because he sustained upon just principles the cause of the Roman Catholics, which they (the Tory Protestants) subsequently espoused from motives of mere expediency. Canning was the truest friend the Irish Roman Catholics ever had, for he repudiated the monstrous notion that Catholic Emancipation was a religious question.

“Five months of indefatigable official exertion—of irritating parliamentary contention with implacable adversaries—acting upon the sensitiveness of his nervous system,
brought poor
Canning to what we are accustomed to call a premature grave. But I who mourned his loss, am, nevertheless, persuaded that he had fulfilled his mission. To the close of his splendid career his ruling wishes were for the prosperity of the state he so long served and adorned, and, in my humble judgment, England never possessed a more upright and patriotic statesman than George Canning.”

From these grave considerations I would fain endeavour to lead my readers to a few lighter traits, that may relieve the subject, and conduct my pen by transition to more miscellaneous topics.

When I asked Mr. Canning to accept Dr. Croly’s dedication of the play “Pride Shall Have a Fall,” he immediately assented and spoke in high terms of the author’s productions; but, said he, “as I have no small degree of ambitious pride myself, I trust it will not be construed into an omen that mine shall have a fall!”

There was an anecdote of Queen Caroline, which I forgot in its proper place. When her bitterness against her husband was at its height, she exclaimed, “Je suis la fille d’un Hero; la femme d’un Zero.”

Canning was much taken with the exhibition and performances of the famous calculating boy; and on conversing about his extraordinary faculties, observed that the difference between him and other precocities was, that they in childhood or youthful years could do what elder men could do, but he could do more than any man, at any age, could do. This, like all his remarks, was happily expressed (and I fear somewhat deteriorated in my telling); but it has occurred to me as one example of the innumerable instances in which his wonderful acumen and intellectual comprehension were ever going beyond the standard of his ablest associates.

It is pleasant to me to add a remembrance of the appre-
ciation of the talents of my old friend
Charles Kemble; still living to remind us of the glories of the departed stage. Mr. Canning had been to the theatre to witness the representation of “Julius Cæsar,” then cast in a manner in which it is not likely ever to be cast again; when Kemble was the “Brutus,” Young the “Cassius,” and Charles the “Antony,” Fawcett the “Casca,” and all the subordinate parts filled to perfection. I was lauding the “Brutus” and “Cassius” to the skies, when Mr. Canning interposed and said, “but you ought not to forget the nimble ‘Antony,’ the spirit and life-like performance of which character was equal, if not superior, to the finest in the play.”

I am not sure whether or not the following is familiar to readers, or even original; but I give it as it is given to me from a quarter that ought to be correct in particulars of his younger life. It is stated that Mrs. Leigh, his aunt, made it a rule to give every one of her family a small present on her wedding-day, for which purpose, on one anniversary, she searched the village of Ashburnham, but could meet with nothing purchaseable, except some new-fashioned plush. She bought a piece, which she sent to Mr. Canning, directed, “To George Canning, Esq., to shoot partridges in,” and he returned the following immediately in acknowledgment of the present:—

While all on this auspicious day
Well pleased their grateful homage pay,
And sweetly smile, and softly say,
A thousand civil speeches:
My Muse shall strike her tuneful strings
Nor scorn the gift her duty brings,
Tho’ humble be the theme she sings,
A pair of shooting breeches.
Soon shall the tailor’s subtle art
Have fashioned them in every part
And made them spruce, and tight and smart
With twenty thousand stitches.
Mark then the moral of my song;
O! may your loves but prove as strong
And wear as well, and last as long
As these my shooting breeches.
And when to ease the load of life
Of private cares, and public strife,
My lot shall give to me a wife,
I ask not rank or riches,
For worth like thine alone I pray,
Temper like thine, serene and gay
And formed like thine, to give away
Not wear herself the breeches!*

Associated in my mind with the memory of Canning, is one of my oldest still surviving early friends, Mr. Stewardson, from whose painting the excellent likeness of the lamented statesman was engraved for my second volume. During the sittings, he was filled with admiration of the sayings which, like the pearls in the Fairy Tale, kept dropping from his lips whenever he opened his mouth. I may parody Keats, and pronounce—
A witty saying is a jest for ever;
but when so much of profundity is coupled with the inexhaustible stores of fancy, the instruction makes an impression more important, and as lasting as the wit.

Stewardson’s poetical paintings were much admired, and among others, the “Indian Snake Charmer,” and other subjects, sung by Croly in harmonious verse. He was absorbed in his art, and I may match my story illustrative of provincial manners, in which William Pollock figured (vol. iii.), with an anecdote of town life, which, perhaps, can hardly be matched for showing, that whereas in the country every body knows every other body and thing, in London there are very many who know nobody, though ever so close to them, and nothing that does not pertain to their own pursuits.

* I am afraid it has been printed before.—W. J.


One day, exceedingly engrossed with his easel, the artist, who resided in the western corner house of Adam Street and the Strand, was annoyed by a loud knocking noise, which he endured for several hard thumps, but at last, losing patience, rang hastily for his servant. Joe appeared, and something like the following colloquy ensued. S. “What the d—l’s all that noise?” Joe. “It’s only Mr. Smith, Sir.” S. “Well, but I shall have no Mr. Smith making such a clatter as that. Go and see it put an end to.” Joe. “It will soon be over, Sir.” (Another rap on the staircase). S. “I tell you I will not endure it another instant; so inform Mr. Smith immediately.” Joe. “I can’t, Sir. He will soon be down.” S. (in a rage). “Do as you’re bid, Sir, or go about your business.” (Another rattle nearer at hand, close to the door). Joe. “I dare say that is the last, for the stair is wider below.” S. “What in Satan’s name do you mean? Am I obliged to put up with this din, and your impertinent folly to boot? Be off, Sir!” Joe. “Why, Sir, they could not help it in bringing him down from the second floor. He was rather a stout man, and the coffin is large and heavy.” S. (starting). “Is there any one dead in the house?” Joe. “Yes, Sir; Mr. Smith. He died last Thursday, and they are now taking him to the hearse, which is under your window below, in Adam Street.”

The painter opened his artistic shutters, and there stood the hearse, receiving the last remains of Mr. Smith, a lodger in the upper part of the house, whom Stewardson had never seen, whose existence he had forgotten, if he ever heard of it, and whose death and burial would have taken place without his cognisance (though he slept overhead in the room above his own bed-room), had it not been for the noise made by the undertaker’s men in getting the corpse down the narrow stairs.


What a farce in death; but not more farcical than the common practice of laying out the dead bodies of the great in funeral state. Lying in state! Ohone! The honours paid to corruption; the worship of the worm. Lying in state!

Yet has death in many more natural moods its beauty and its calm sadness, which soothe the spirit. Look on the infant reposing in the gentle embrace of the conqueror, or on the lovely girl, who seems to have left earth for heaven, to recruit the host of angels there. There is nothing of the dreadful energy of fear or horror in these sights; nor, if you seek a mournful and reflective hour in the country churchyard, where those who were dear to you rest, throw yourself upon the green sod, and listen to the tall grass above the graves, waving and bending with the wooing air, as if it were whispering, like yourself, in low sighs to the dead beneath. Yes, we have not always the Medusa head to appal us into stone; but rather the touching of the Ithuriel spear to awaken the finest sympathies of our nature, allure to brighter worlds, and lead the way.

The chain of ideas may not be very obvious, but these anecdotes bring to my recollection the delights of several autumnal excursions, when it was my happiness to sojourn for a while at Ballahuylish, the romantic sent of the family of my friend for many years, the present Vice-Chancellor, Sir John Stuart, and situated where the stream that permeates down the infamous, but picturesque, Glencoe, finds its passage to the sea. The magnificent granite mountain, at the foot of which it stands, the often storm-stopped ferry, the expanse of the estuary narrowing up to a beautiful isle, set apart for the burial of the dead, the scenery exquisite on one hand, and sublime on the other, with the eagle towering to the sky, the rugged quarries, with their echoing
blasts, and the peaceful sweetness of the woods and glens—all these charms only seemed to add a zest to the pleasures and hospitalities of the inner life. The mother of the Vice-Chancellor was a widow at the time of my first visit, but I had known her husband in London, a gallant soldier, who had fought in America, and a gentleman in every sense of the title.
Mrs. Stuart herself was worthy to be the mother of a distinguished son. In the decline of years, she displayed a degree of energy and intelligence such as I never beheld in any individual of the same age. She retired as late as others to repose; but was up before the earliest, to attend to the duties of the mistress of the house. The orders for the day were given, and every beggar who applied for relief (a call very common in the Highlands) was carefully questioned by herself, and the needful succour afforded according to the merits of the case. From the breakfast hour till night, the unobtrusive charge of the comfort of every inmate glided on like a pastime, and the social hours were enlivened with such Highland tales of the olden times, that I have never ceased to regret my not having preserved them all in lasting form. I can but remember an example or two.

In the ’45, the ancestors of Sir John Stuart and his lady were both out, youthful and ardent friends, belonging to the deeply loyal, Jacobite and attached Clan-Appin. In a skirmish which took place before the fatal battle of Culloden, the Highlanders were engaged with the English dragoons, whom they harassed from behind a stone-dyke, with a precipitous mountain in their rear. Both dyke and mountain were impervious to cavalry; but after some firing, the Highlanders thought it full time to retreat, and they consequently clambered up the precipices, like goats, to a place of safety, whence they looked down on the field of
conflict below. On this field still lingered the two Stuarts, dropping every now and then an enemy with a shot from behind the dyke; at which a party of the soldiers, at last completely exasperated, dismounted, and began pulling down the wall to open a way for their horses. This was a significant hint for the friends to flee, and they soon breasted up the hill to rejoin their comrades, the commander of whom exclaimed on their arrival, “You rash dogs, how could you be such d—d fools as to bide popping so long, that you might both have been taken prisoners!” “Fools,” replied a Stuart, “d—d fools, indeed—my faith, if you had all been d—d fools, the fortune of the day might have been very different!”

Of a merrier cast, though connected with death, was the following, which the fine old Highland gentlewoman repeated with racy freshness in the appropriate Doric of the North: “One of the small tenants happened to die in the winter, when the severe weather rendered it impossible to proceed to the isle [the cemetery I have mentioned] with the body for interment. Some time, therefore, elapsed before the ceremony was performed; but at length Donald was properly buried, and the clergyman of the parish, and the neighbours who had attended the funeral returned, as is usual in these parts, to the dwelling of the widow for refreshments. Mess John found her in great tribulation, weeping and wailing, for her loss, and addressed her: ‘Janet, ma woman, this excessive sorrow is unbecoming and unchristian; remember you have a family to care for, and ought not to give way to useless grief.’ ‘Ohone. ohone,’ was all that the sobbing Janet could reply, and the minister went on. ‘Janet desist. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.’ ‘Oh, aye!’ cried Janet, ‘blessed be His holy name! Truly, Sir, a’ shoudna tak on sae, but he was a gude man to me. O Donald, Donald—
whew!’* Another reproof brought the poor woman more to her senses, and she confessed that she ought not to lament so loudly, seeing, she was sure, ‘by this time the dear departed was in Belzebub’s bosom.’ ‘Belzebub’s bosom!’ exclaimed the minister, ‘It is Abraham’s bosom, ye mean. Ha ye sat sae lang under ma ministry, and no ken the difference between Belzebub and Abraham?’ ‘Waes me, waes me,’ rejoined the widow, ‘I’m a puir ignorant creature! Belzebub and Abra-ham—Abra-ham and Belzebub; a’ declare that in spite o’ aw yere teaching, a’ wadna ken the ane frae the ither gin they were baith standing afore me!’”

Close by Ballahuylish stood the Gallows’ Hill on which many of the Clan Appin had suffered death for their devotedness to the unfortunate royal race whose name they bore. It was still regarded with a kind of affectionate veneration by their descendants, and the hollow in which the fatal beam was erected pointed out as if it were an heir-loom. It well befitted the ruthless site of Glencoe, and the terrors of ’15 and ’45, and reminded me of a pathetic Jacobite song, as I fancy, never yet seen in print. The first and last verses are nearly—

The heath-cock crawed o’er moor and dell,
The morning sun rose bright and ruddy;
When gathering far, wi distant yell,
Our gallant clans marched brave and steady.
For hey, Duncan, Donald’s ready,
Ho, Donald, Duncan’s ready,
Wi sword and targe he seeks the charge,
An frae his shouther flings the plaidie.

The intermediate stanzas admirably describe the rival forces (doing honour to “St. George’s banner nobly streaming,”) and the battle; and the last, to my feeling, concludes with one of the most affecting touches ever penned in poetry:—

* The Scotch have none of the Irish wailing formulæ.

But lang may Scotland rue the day,
She saw her clans sae wildly fleeing:
Culloden’s hills were hills o’ wae,
Her honour lost, her warriors deeing!
Donald now, nae mair is ready;
Duncan now, nae mair is ready;
The sword has fa’en frae out his han,
His bonnet blue lies stain’d and bluidy!

I could linger long and affectionately on Ballahuylish, whose incomparable head has been laid in the grave since these happy days, and where the elder brother of the Vice-Chancellor yet maintains the Highland hospitalities of his “forbears.” I may mention of his liberality, that when I last left the genial roof, I carried with me no small sample-weight of granite from the mountain it was my delight to climb, till I got among the ptarmagans on the top, and offered, in his name, to Sir Charles Barry all the stone needed for building the Palace of Parliament, gratuitously, of this everlasting material. It is of a beautiful kind, and the water nearly washes the base, so that it could have been shipped at the smallest possible cost; but Sir Charles having made his calculations, informed me that the working of so extremely hard a substance would cost twice as much as the purchase and working of the material which has been chosen. But it would have been eternal as the Pyramids.

But I must bid farewell to this portion of the fascinating Highlands, having yet to speak of another, in the centre of which stands Drummond Castle—a paradise on earth—and can say nothing of a most interesting trip, vià Tobermory, in a storm, to Iona and Staffa, with Lady Stuart and several of her family and friends—of our driving Tobermory and its natives and refugees into a night of such daft merriment as never was surpassed in that part—of the gallanting Miss Martineau into the Cave of Staffa—and of witnessing one of
the grandest displays of the aurora borealis ever seen even in the north, in company with
Sir T. Noon Talfourd and his family, who were heard of in the neighbourhood of Ballahuylish, whilst I was staying there, and forthwith hailed in as my acquaintances, to partake of its unceasing hospitalities. I am inclined to think that the public may owe the fine poem of “Glencoe” to this accidental circumstance. I must also mention an auspicious ascent of Ben Nevis, with Mr. James Russell, of the Chancery bar, Mr. A. Wansey, merchant, and Mr. Russell’s late brother, an Edinburgh advocate, the author of a “Tour in Germany,” and who, happening to have a round bald head, the humorous Lord Robertson forthwith christened “The Globe and Traveller.” He was an exceedingly well informed and most agreeable companion. The glorious view, by far the most extensive in Great Britain, from the summit of Ben Nevis, amply repaid all our toils, but we found the redeundum worse than the ascent; no facilis descensus, but a killing labour, which, but for our capital guide, the agile heirapparent to the hostelry of Fort William, would have left us for the night on the mountain bivouac. Led to avoid dangerous places, where a gentleman had recently lost his life, we managed to roll, slide, stagger, and podicate to the foot in the dark, between ten and eleven o’clock. Hence, to wade across the river, drag our weary steps to Fort William, see the relics of “bonnie Prince Charley” at the inn, eat a good supper, peep into the various replenished vessels of whisky toddy, and sleep as sound as if Ben Nevis were a-top of us, finished a day of great excitement, and enjoyment not to be forgotten.

When in town throughout the year, my life very nearly resembled this hill-climbing. There was a good deal of labour, some getting up, some pleasant companionship, some
grand views, some stumbling, some falls, some hardships, and some ugly clefts, ravines, or precipices that required experienced guidance to clear. The excitement too was as stirring, and if the fatigue was as much as I could get through, there was also a high and plentiful seasoning of enjoyments to bear me rejoicing on my way; for I must again own the soft impeachment that pleasures were ever welcome to me, though I had found that they were only the butterflies in human existence, and that men pursuing them are indeed like children chasing these fragile creatures; and that, after all the toils and troubles of the chase, if they are not very tenderly handled when caught, they are destroyed in the success.

New aspirants to celebrity and new productions enlarged the circle of literary friends, and afforded me those opportunities in which I took a natural and sincere delight, viz., of doing my utmost to gratify such worthy ambition, or to assist the earliest struggles of emulous talent. The publication of Lord Mulgrave’sMatilda,” Mr. Henry Bulwer’sAutumn in Greece,” Miss Costello’s first works (contemporary with Miss Pardoe’s), Banim’sO’Hara Tales,” and such advents of poetesses as Mary Ann Browne, and (later) Eliza Cook, were ever creating varieties and opening gratifying paths for me to indulge in my “humour.”

The difference between literary and intellectual associations, and those of business and interest, is very great. The former may somewhat and sometimes partake of the butterfly sports and fruitions to which I have just alluded, and so come under the thong of Graybeard Wisdom’s censure; but then the latter, by a similar rule, must be granted to resemble the grub and its habits. All the caterpillars that live in societies (and thickly do they congregate, and twist and twine round each other, and toil
and spin),—all seem to be kept together by the common ties of utility—each one goes out to explore, and leaves behind the web whose threads in due time conduct the rest upon the branches where there is food and shelter. Thus do they work on, but when once they are provided with wings, these insects appear no longer to recognise each other, as if the state of the chrysalis, that sleep of the instinct, had made them forget the memory of mutual relations—all which moral illustration may be learnt from
M. Huber on the emigration of butterflies. And, in sooth, the imago, or fine fly, may well be compared to the upstart man of the world, who in the pride of his golden prosperity forgets the grubs and the caterpillars—his old cronies and companions. Yet is he still a grub or a caterpillar by nature.

Or is not the simile still more striking if carried beyond the grave? Here on earth we share only a diversity of common toil. Then comes the sleep of death; and then we rise to a higher range and sphere, no longer recognising our former associates, and altogether forgetful of the earth’s mutual relations. But this is a change to bliss; whereas the “Reminiscences of a Butterfly” might, if well written, convey at once an amusing and instructive lesson to mankind, and display the fantastic tricks which are played by us all in our imago pride before high Heaven.

The moral I would draw from these reflections is chiefly that the too ardent love of pleasure in youthful and middle life, had better be consummated with “there an end,” than entail repentance, or even unsuitable labour on old age, when the body wants physical quiet and the soul holy repose.

It may be as fit a place as any other, to note here a few of the petty disturbances which are continually
occurring to cause a ripple on the smooth surface of Editorial duties, and the placidity of that elevated character! I lift the fragments of a few months’ letters, and find these literary Scrapiana.

1. Dr. A. B. Granville, afterwards a very agreeable acquaintance, remonstrates with Longman and Co., and expresses his “astonishment at the appearance of so disgraceful a paragraph as that which relates to his ‘Enquiries on Egyptian Mummies,’ in the last number of the ‘Literary Gazette,’ a journal known to be under the control of so highly respectable a house.” This charge of “ribaldry” is transferred to me, and I find the letter indorsed “Wrote, that I would not attend to private interests;” but the Doctor and I have been good friends ever since.

2. The pathetic naïvete of the following characteristic request recommends it to notice, and was enough to melt the hardest of scribbling hearts. And see what temptations beset the journalist.

“London, 17th April.

“As I thought, you have ruined my Exhibitions. Every body says you have been wrong. The Duke of York himself, wrote to me it was a tribunal for Justice. But no, the bond of peace would make my mind happier. Although hurt a great deal, I will forget anything, would you say in your next paper what you like to counteract the dreadful paragraph: for instance, it was not your doings; you have not peruse it attentively; but hearing any one speaking well of the Naturoram you have visited again and found it deserves credit. If any one did not attend to you well enough when you have been visiting, tell me so. I will do you justice.


“Can I sent some advertisements to your office? Can I expect an answer to this? Do be a good man. Benevolence and beneficence do so much good.

“I remain, Sir,
“Your obedient Servant,
“23, New Bond Street.
“The Editor of the Literary Gazette.”

3. One of the rivals of the “Gazette” was the “London Weekly Review,” which had been in the habit of rebuking me and my doings, with commendable constancy, till it passed under the conduct of a very able and (since then) distinguished literary man, Mr. J. A. St. John, under whom the war was no longer carried on, but by accident one day, an old-style slur appeared in the publication. I was surprised at this assault; till an early letter from Mr. St. John explained that he had been “annoyed on perceiving that one of our old paragraphs had been inserted by mistake; the chief compositor having the power to select from among a great number, and choosing whatsoever happened to fill his vacant space.” The worthy writer stated his wish to insert a note to this effect, if I thought it worth while, which I did not, though I valued the assurance that he was anxious to say the paragraph was by no means consonant with his feelings towards me. This was a matter of small consequence, but it affords an excellent pattern for the gentlemen of the Press; and the friendly good will then generated between Mr. St. John and myself has, I trust, continued without abatement to the present hour.

4. More severe was a reclamation from Mr. Buckingham, transmitted through Mr. Orme, that in my review of his “Travels among the Arab Tribes,” I had misrepresented a
fact, charging two hundred pages with being occupied with a controversy between the author and the “
Quarterly Review,” whereas there were only seventy.* Upon this I did what every fair critic ought to do when wrong, and in my answers to correspondents, acknowledged the error of the language employed, which, instead of “two hundred pages,” ought in correctness to have said, “the matter of two hundred pages, it being an appendix in double columns, and bearing that proportion to the body of the work.” And here again is shown the benefit of preserving the periodical Press as much as possible from intemperate personalities, and suffering candour and courtesy to mark the intercourse among individuals pretending to the literary character. Since the period referred to, Mr. Buckingham and I have lived on the best of terms, and been united in our efforts (as for instance, in the very first public movement to get rid of the pestilential nuisance of intramural interments, at a meeting held at the Golden Cross, Charing-cross), to procure internal reforms and improvements of no small value to the metropolis and country. The only wonder is, that I never joined him in the Temperance Society, probably owing to my dislike to taking oaths!

5. It may be, that aware of this, Mr. A. Heilbrown, who visited London with a very fine collection of drawings, of which I spoke as it deserved, wished to requite the

* It is impossible for authors or reviewers to be always so guarded in their language as to avoid offence, even where none is meant, to the irritabile genus. After Mr. Colburn had joined Mr. Buckingham in the Athenæum, I remember receiving a letter from the Rev. Francis Thackeray, author of the “Life of Chatham,” accusing Mr. B. with endeavouring to strengthen himself in an attack on the Quarterly Review of De Vere, “by pretended passages from the ‘History of Chatham,’” in which, says Mr. Thackeray, “he has utterly misrepresented my sentiments, and several of the passages purporting to be extracts are not to be found in my work.” I forget if any answer was given to this charge.

service with a considerable “consideration,” in money. This being, of course, refused, I was rewarded, “as a slight mark of gratitude on his part by a request to accept of the accompanying essence of Royal Tokay, of which he had brought a few bottles with him.” Whether it was that I mistook “essence” for potable vintage, I cannot say; but I am sorry to add that I found the Royal Tokay undrinkable, and almost choked a cabinet minister with a bumper of it.

6. It seems that the remarks in a “Literary Gazette” were displeasing in a certain quarter; and as the resentment thus occasioned has outlived decency to the present day, I have no hesitation in printing the annexed letter:—

“Friday Morning.
My dear Sir,

“It appears that we have given some offence by referring to the proceedings of the record committee, which is not a public one. I am not aware that they will say anything about it, and I only mention it as an on dit; it will make the article more notorious at least. I will send the article on Devon’s book on Monday, and, at the same time, a paper which will, I trust, convince you that I spoke nothing untrue of Mr. Hunter, who is an immense humbug. Mr. J. G. Nichols should have hesitated before he called me ‘interested and prejudiced.’ I have since learned that he and his father print and publish Mr. H.’s topographical works—‘hinc ilia lacrymæ.’

“I recur to this, because I feel annoyed that you should have been troubled about the matter; for myself I am conscious of having done well and justly.

“Ever yours most truly,
“To W. Jerdan, Esq.”

I have learnt with much contempt, that this bad temper excited, as here described, degenerated into a personal enmity which has never ceased to assail me through the lapse of years; and I can well believe the reports I have heard on the subject. One of my grounds for thinking them true is, that where this enmity could be traced in any literary direction where the parties possessed influence, I perceived that I was not treated with the consideration due to me; ex. gr., by the Camden Society, to which I contributed two of as interesting and popular volumes as it has published. The private hostility, indorsed, as I was told, by Mr. A. Way, was so great, that I never had the compliment paid to me to be placed upon the council. So much for affronted Humbug.

And now to conclude these few variorum pages, I subjoin a letter, not so grammatical as it is bitterly in earnest. I cannot recall to mind whether it was intended as a reproof of one of my own misdemeanors, or a general denunciation of the abuse of criticism; but “such as it is,” those who deserve, the cap are welcome to wear it; “our withers are unwrung!”—

Mr. Editor,

“I am rash enough to address you on a subject on which I dare say enough has been written, and about which very likely I may have read; though being blessed with an unusually bad memory, I cannot quote from any work, impressions are no firmer on my mind than on sand, and changed, or altogether erased, as soon as made. This I mention, as it is not my wish to pass as my own what I may have borrowed from others, though unconscious when and where. You will consider it great boldness in me to undertake such a task, when I tell you that I am no
scholar, that I never have made a Latin speech, and am better acquainted with the feelings of men, than with my own language. To come to the matter; I am going to speak about a formidable class of men—the natural enemies of aspirants to fame—I mean the critics. A critic is a man who lives on others’ faults. His soul-delight and chief occupation, is to show all men in their worst light, and by exposing all the errors, and suppressing the beauties of their works, endeavours to prove them void of merit. ’Tis an occupation in which, in our days, there is great scope for his talent, as none being able to read every new work that is published, they trust to the opinions of the unsparing foe to worth. What a moment of delight when he finds some unlucky mistake in an author of repute! how he exults when he happens to meet with some wrong expression! and with what satisfaction, sipping his luscious port-wine negus, he cuts up the poor devil, and writes him down to ruin! how he triumphs when successful in destroying a fellow-creature’s reputation! ’tis a luxury of feeling only known to him. Critics are a morose, unhappy species of animal, delighting in the infliction of pain:—they are the steel-traps and spring-guns of the paths of literature. Woe to him who should make a false step; they’ll mangle him for life, or kill him outright. I’ve often thought what courage a man must have to turn author; he exposes himself to merciless and irresistible enemies, who will either crush him at once, or if possessed of superior genius, will use their every endeavour that it may not turn to his advantage. A single grammatical error is with them perdition to a work; all else there may be to admire in it cannot atone for such a crime. If a man had perfection of mind, they’d find fault with his body, and with perfection itself they find cause to complain that there is nothing to blame. They wish to reduce all to
a level, and will allow of no merit but what is granted by them, which, faith, is little enough! I remember, after reading ‘
De Bourrienne’s Memoir,’ that he had impressed me with a contemptible notion of the greatest genius of his age, and endeavoured to pass himself off as superior to the person he describes. Most men being fond of dispraise, these scorpions—these destroyers of fame—these Arguseyed dissectors have great sway; and the general opinion is, that their criticisms are impartial and just, which general opinion is as false as most others. It must be a strong body indeed that will live after having been submitted to their operations. How many persons do I know in my limited acquaintance whose happiness seems to consist in dissatisfaction—Do this, you should have done that; do that, you should have done this. Generosity is called extravagance; coolness, indifference; warmth, rage: in one word, whatever is, is wrong. They breathe but to blame, and would be miserable in contentment. I shall conclude by expressing my pity for those who are exposed to the fangs of these wild beasts, and by hoping that it will never be my misfortune to be noticed by them, though I risk being lashed with their well-pricked rod for these few lines, not that there is any merit in their composition, but you know, sir, that when a foe, however contemptible we may suppose him, attacks us in our own quarters, we all take to arms immediately to castigate him for his rashness.

“Sir, your obedient Servant,
“F. B.”