LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton

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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Genius has so much youth no care can kill,
Death seems unnatural when it cries be still.
Critics to plays for the same end resort
That surgeons wait on trials in a court;
For innocence condemned they’ve no respect,
Provided they’ve the body to dissect.—Congreve.
Critics on verse, as squibs on triumph wait,
Proclaim the glory, and augment the state;
Hot, envious, noisy, proud, the scribbling fry,
Burn, hiss, and bounce, waste paper, ink, and die.—Young.

My readers will probably, by this time, expect that I should devote a portion of my work to the distinguished author whose portrait adorns this volume, and to whom it is dedicated. During a number of years previous to his debut in publishing, it was my good fortune to enjoy intimate personal and literary relations with him. I pride myself, therefore, on being the first public writer to discover and assert his high genius; his staunch defender against many a depreciating attack and inimical criticism, both alike bitter, unjustified, and contemptible; his ardent and constant
admirer, ever prompt and anxious to proclaim his merits, and point out the beauties in every work he produced: and now, setting the gratified feelings of private regard apart, I rejoice the more in witnessing all the opinions I gave and all the predictions in which I so heartily indulged, not only verified, but exceeded by the splendid career of one who as a poet, novelist, essayist, biographer, and dramatist, has achieved a foremost place among the living glories of the age, and added an immortal lustre to the brilliant literature of his country, and to his own name, which change as often as he may for estates or titles, will always be most illustrious in its own original literary dissyllabic sound!

Retaining, for this reason, the familiar and popular name of Bulwer, I may notice that, I believe, his earliest performance was one I have never seen, namely, “Ismael and other Poems,” in 12mo, published by Hatchard. Previous to his inauspicious marriage, which promised so much of happiness, our acquaintance had ripened into a very friendly footing. I was warmly welcomed as a visitor by his mother, to be distinguished by whom was neither a slight mark of esteem, nor to be lightly valued from one so eminent for intellectual endowments and acute perception of life; and thus, as well as by very pleasant excursions to his own residence at Woodcot House, Nettlebed, by the time that “Pelham” appeared in 1828, I had not only had opportunities of observing the vast information possessed by so young a man, but of being assured beforehand that whenever he brought his rare abilities into public exercise he must consummate a career of no ordinary distinction. “Pelham” was published in May, and received from me the eulogium, since confirmed by the universal voice, that “if the most brilliant wit; remarks accurate in observation as they are profound in judgment; playful satire by
the side of sound philosophy; a narrative whose interest never flags; and some pictures of the most riveting interest—if these can make a work popular, Pelham will be as first-rate in celebrity as it is in excellence.” This was its first hasty greeting in my number 590, May 10th, and yet so busy was the season, and so crowded with novelties, that it was not till number 594, June 7th, that I could return to these attractive volumes for a regular review, in which it was endeavoured to do justice to their merits. Further, I will now say nothing, but that on the retrospect “Pelham” still appears to me to be instinct with nearly all those qualities, the more mature development of which has raised the author to the lofty pinnacle of fame on which he now stands,

The barking and biting to which the publication exposed the writer of this novel personally, was but the beginning of a course which has hardly yet ceased to run down his works and persecute himself with all the ingenuity of detracting criticism and private malice; till at last the dogs are dumb, because they have found it in vain, and hurtful to themselves to rail against productions which all the rest of the world laud and enjoy in the highest degree. In short, Bulwer has persevered, could not be blighted, and has written them down Asses. “Pelham” was so much approved that it came to a second and improved edition in six months; though the sagacious critics of the envious and malignant school insisted on the fact that the hero was bonâ fide the author, and abused the latter accordingly for every spice of affectation or impertinence uttered by the former—an impersonation of a young man of fashion upon town!

The “Disowned,” appeared soon after, in the winter, and exemplified the more striking analytical and philosophical powers of Mr. Bulwer, and though the characters were
admirably drawn with a knowledge of the human heart, there were,
I thought, some defects in the construction of the story, with as it were, two heroes to divide if not to divert the interest, and a too frequent and perhaps too sensitive reference to the relations between author and reader; so that I could not applaud so entirely as in “Pelham,” though I confessed to the display of force which promised the yet more remaining behind.

With what true equanimity the author could endure the comparative coldness appears in a letter from him, in which in alluding to the expedition of the review in the “Gazette” he says, “I therefore conclude you must have seen the work in an imperfect and garbled form—and should you have sufficient leisure, and are not already quite bored by the work, I would earnestly request you to look over the last half of the fourth volume, when fairly printed off, before you entirely come to your conclusion respecting the book. At all events I am glad you do not dislike it. I agree with you in doubting whether it will not be more unpopular than ‘Pelham,’ [modestly put] but if it does not fall far short of the success of that work, it may possibly go far beyond it. But you say wisely, who can predicate of the million?”

My vanity—for vanity is a ruling passion with all mankind, and I believe more than with all womankind—impels me to add the following letter entire, on the same subject.

My dear Sir,

“I feel that it is a very difficult task to thank you for your review of ‘The Disowned,’ and equally so to express the pleasure I have derived from it. I cannot, however, pass in silence over so flattering and public a testimony of your approbation—a testimony which becomes
still more flattering to me, by the belief that somewhat of the partiality and indulgence of the acquaintance have, insensibly to yourself, mingled with your opinions as the critic. I am aware that my works as yet have been but rude and unequal attempts, and I shall not again trespass on the public, unless it be in a shape much more worthy of its attention; but I can readily believe that no literary success is so dear as its first foretaste, and that we never feel so warm a gratitude for assistance in maturer enterprises, as we do to those who first launched our vessel, and wished well to its prosperity. It is a source of pride as well as pleasure to think that I shall owe that gratitude to one whose own reputation sheds a light upon the reputation he assists to create, and that I may set a value upon your auguries of future success, not only from the pleasure derived from the prophecy, but from the respect due to the prophet.

“Acting upon Shenstone’s maxim, that a well-dressed friend is never discreditable company, be his interior deficiencies what they may, I have directed a copy of ‘The Disowned,’ and one of ‘Pelham’ to be bound and sent to you, in the hope that their dress may be admitted as a qualification that entitles them to admission among the more dignified and important occupants of your library.

“Your very faithful and obliged Servant,
“Weymouth, Dec. 1, 1828.

“We hope Miss Landon is recovered. Should you see her, may we request you to remember us kindly to her.”*

The masterly portraiture of Bolingbroke in “Devereux,”

* Of this charming being a note of nearly the same date says, “It is impossible for any one acquainted, as we are, with her many good and fine qualities not to feel greatly interested in her.”

and the poetical imagery shed over this production, were features of a novel nature and fine genius superadded to the attributes which “
Pelham” had disclosed; and, consequently, the powers of the author began to make the greater impression on readers, and especially upon those classes that can most truly appreciate the means by which good taste is cultivated, and elevated sensations gratified and confirmed.

In April, 1830, (as noticed in the “Literary Gazette,” of May 1st, No. 693, where, as hitherto, since “Pelham,” the compliment of occupying the foremost place was allotted to it,) Mr. Bulwer’s fourth work of fiction appeared, and was entitled “Paul Clifford;” being, in everything but genius, quite different from all his preceding productions, In this I felt a peculiar interest, from having suggested to the author the design which he proceeded to fulfil in execution. My thought was a mere whim of the moment. At this period it had become a common practice of inferior publishers to catch and gull the public by pseudo-personal characters, sadly misdrawn and vilely misrepresented. As a satire upon these worthless ephemeræ, I, in a morning walk in the garden at Woodcot, threw out the idea of a novel apparently constructed upon their vicious principle, but which, when the usual key was furnished, should turn out, instead of being sketched from living individuals, to be founded on dramatic heroes, viz.: “Peachum,” “Lockit,” “Polly,” “Lucy,” “Macheath,” “Filch,” and other worthies of the “Beggars’ Opera.” Bulwer was struck with the fancy, and began “Paul Clifford” on this plan; but before he had got over half a volume discovered, what many a writer fails not to learn, that an apparently happy notion is so cramped and crippled in detail, as to render it impossible to be carried out. He was, therefore, obliged to depart from the original conception, and by introducing extraneous matter and another
description of working up the whole, enable himself to finish the “Paul Clifford” of our fictitious literature, which became immediately popular, and added another chaplet to his flourishing wreath. On this matter he writes to me:—

“My dear Sir,

“I send you the first volume; the last three sheets—where the story ‘takes a turn,’ and in which the songs and the slang scene at ‘Gentleman George’s’ occur, are those about which I wished to consult you. I have, therefore, sent the proofs, and keep the press open for your answer. I have sent the preceding clean sheets that you may the better judge of the story.

“You see that I have very imperfectly caught your idea; but wherever it is in the smallest degree caught, I think you will find the most amusing parts of the book. I wish you had struck off yourself your own conception. I believe you are too much a citizen of the world to be angry at my jokes now and then upon Scotchmen. But I expect Campbell will (if he ever by accident reads the book) testify high wrath.

“Most truly yours,
“E. L. B.

“P.S. It was Prince P. Lieven I wished you to meet.”

Looking back on the four novels of which I have spoken, it was justly observed by the accomplished L. E. L., “that each of these performances had differed as much from its predecessor as if, instead of being the production of successive months, they severally marked epochs of years, passed with all those changes of thought, feeling, and action, years must inevitably bring. One of our most original novelists he (Bulwer) is also one of our most
various, though, by-the-by, variety is but an effect of which originality is the cause. In his later productions the same charm of variety is everywhere discerned; the difference between these and his earlier works being that they evince more intimate knowledge of the world, and are less lent to the adornments of the imagination.”

Bulwer was yet only about twenty-five years of age, and nevertheless had in these works more than shadowed forth the greater artist he was to become, when “The Caxtons,” and “My Novel,” were to crown (I trust only in mid career) the display of that extraordinary versatility and comprehensiveness which, even so early as this, the same judicious critic declared to be the result of his having “evidently read much, seen much, felt much, thought much, and reflected on all still more.” Well also did she also express her opinion, that our friend had entered the arena of Literature not only from the mere love of literary exertion, the excitement of which forces great talents to find themselves employment—not only from the mere desire of fame—but with one great moral purpose ever before him. That whether using the diamond arrow of wit, the graver arms of argument—whether in the pictures of real life, or the creations of imagination—he had kept the one aim in view, of human amelioration. He had satirised follies, to deter, if possible, from their pursuit; and drawn in noble colours, the good and the great, if possible to attract! But, in spite of these self-evident truths, the hounds that never stopped their howl against the author, appeared yet more and more irritated by every new success, and my experience of literary malevolence and turpitude, supplies me with no stronger instance of presevering hostility than that which dogged every fresh “offence” of Lytton-Bulwer, “Paul Clifford” smacked too racily of Swift to escape
more condign censure than “
Devereux,” or “The Disowned,” or even the first grand enormity, “Pelham.” Notwithstanding all this, he held on his course, rejoicing in an ample increase of favour, till universal applause drowned the voice of malice; and if the hounds still growled in their kennels, it was impossible to hear them, or see them shrink in disappointed, with their woful ears and tails hanging down in shameful despondency.

About this date I was indebted to the pens of both Mr. Edward and Mr. Henry Bulwer (whose “Autumn in Greece” had enhanced his literary reputation, and led to the commencement of his honourable diplomatic career, as an attaché to the embassy at Berlin) for valuable communications to enrich my miscellany; and which I endeavoured to return by services to emulous individuals, then starting in literature and politics, whom they introduced to my attention, and whom I abstain from naming, on account of several of them having attained eminence almost as high as the distinguished brothers.

I still smile at a note informing me of the arrangements for a pleasant party into the country, among whom was the lady of Mr. Bulwer of Heydon Hall, Norfolk (the elder brother of the family); and which the writer concludes with, “Yours, very truly, though in as much haste as a man ought to be who writes two novels a year—E. Lytton Bulwer.” But, amid such gratifications, my readers will not be surprised that I set even a higher value upon the letter which is here annexed:—

My dear Sir,

“Happening to call at my silversmith’s I was struck with the oddity and workmanship of a little inkstand, and, on inquiry, learnt that it had once been ordered by
Mr. Canning, but never sent home to him, on account of his death. Upon hearing this, I remembered your friendship for that remarkable man, and imagined that the circumstance might give the inkstand that value which, in itself, it is too mere a trifle to possess.

“If you will encourage me in this hope, by giving the inkstand a place on your writing-table, you will confer an additional honour and favour upon,

“Dear Sir,
“Your very obliged and faithful
“Athenæum, Friday.”

Coupled with so delightful a mark of esteem, and from such a quarter, the laus a laudato of the most precious kind, I ought to state that,—which the recent efforts of Sir E. L. Bulwer to establish a saving and permanent succour for his unfortunate compatriots of the press has so nobly demonstrated—among the large number of literary men with whom it has been my good fortune to be on terms of intimacy, I never knew one of more generous sentiments than he, one more prompt and liberal in purse and person, or one who conferred solid benefits as if they were not even favours, in a manner more feeling and gentlemanly. Indeed, I am not aware of suffering literature having applied to him without being met with, and rather beyond the dictates of prudence (I allude to circumstances before his accession of wealth); and for myself, have, with heartfelt satisfaction, to acknowledge obligations so imposed that I almost fancied I was the obliger and he the obligee.

How dear to memory are reciprocal kindnesses and acts of friendship. If all men knew this, or were capable of appreciating it, how happy would it he for society; how
many miseries would be alleviated, how much gloom brightened, how much the real enjoyments of life enhanced, how much the wide, wide world blessed. Hereabouts, in date, I find myself in a condition to forward my friend’s views on a seat in Parliament for Penryn, near which I had some influential connections, including
Mr. Davies Gilbert, Mr. Holmes, the Carnes family (of whom I must say something most agreeable to me, I trust, before this weary life-book is concluded); but alas for the purity of Parliament and the borough aforesaid—“open bribery as dangerous as disgraceful,” was the only hopeful admission to the field, and the candidate (without using my letters) resigned with a good grace, without going to the poll, and reserved his money for some other more auspicious future occasion. A warm invitation to enjoy the shooting season, with his mother, at Knebworth, “only 28 miles from town,” closed the exploratory expedition in search of a seat to Penryn (August, 1830).

With “Eugene Aram,” about Christmas, 1831, I shall close this partial retrospect of the earlier prose works of Mr. Bulwer, the broad space since occupied by the author opening far too extensive a field for even the most cursory notice. I still think this story, “as the Bride of Lammermuir” of Scott (to whom this book is gracefully dedicated), the most complete and finished of the long series of each, for which the world is their debtors. “Eugene Aram” is depicted in that masterly style which exhibits the grand delusion of human kind—more or less developed in all, but here developed to an intensity, which confounds the highest aspirations with the most heinous criminality. The guilt is prodigious, but yet the self-deception is so fascinating, that the bewildered murderer, resting on his better deeds, desires and virtues, all the while succeeds in persuading himself that he is making a creditor of Heaven! The
perfect dramatic unity, the profound reflections abounding everywhere, and the searching knowledge of human nature sufficed, in this pathetic piece, to re-create the interest of a well-known tragedy, and re-awaken feelings as deep, as if the sad story possessed the inherent attraction of a skilfully constructed plot, working its mysterious way to an unforseen catastrophe. This is a triumph of genius; and it is curious that the same achievement, though in a lesser degree, was accomplished with the same subject by
Thomas Hood, whose poem of “Eugene Aram” is alike beautiful and touching. I cannot, therefore, do better than diversify my theme here, with two notes of Hood’s; one of them especially characteristic of his humour, and the other relating also in his own laughable manner to the poem referred to:—

My dear Jerdan,

“Many thanks for your kind note. You will, of course, receive one of the earliest Comics. It is at present riding on my back, like a centipede spurred on each foot, to be out by 1st December.* This must be my excuse for haste. As it is all but a monopolylogue, it takes all my moments at present.

“You will receive one of these days a reprint of ‘Eugene Aram’s Dream,’ with designs by Harvey. It was coming out with the ‘Comic,’ but will precede it. It has already been indebted to your good word, without plates, and I dare say you will find something very praiseable in those. With reciprocation of kind regards, I was, is, and shall be,

“Dear Jerdan, yours ever truly,
W. Jerdan, Esq.

* I have experienced the same with this very volume, and very date.—W. J.

“Lake House, Wanstead,
“My Dear Jerdan,

“I have often had to thank you for kindly mention of my works, and I will not omit my acknowledgments when I find in the ‘Gazette’ all that man ought to wish for. ‘Man wants but little here below, nor wants that little long.’

“There are other arguments in favour of brevity besides its being the soul of wit—‘short accounts make long friends’—and I cannot but be flattered by a Lilliput account of the Comic from a friend of Brobdignag standing.

“I write this, dipping by turns into a glass of ink and a glass of sherry, poured out to your health, and I shall never take ‘something short,’ without dedicating it to the same toast.

“Friends ought to be friends, whether in Long Island or the Inch of Perth, and as even semibreves conduce to harmony, your little ‘taste,’ or rather sip ‘of my quality,’ still leaves me,

“My dear Jerdan, yours very truly,

To have one’s judgment on such a publication as Bulwer’sEugene Aram” approved by its author is too flattering to the self-love of autobiographical capaciousness to be laid aside, with many similar testimonies from other quarters, from among which, however, I look to be able to select (as I have already done with preceding standard writers) a few letters of Moore, James, and men of their stamp with whom in the Republic of Letters, I had so much to do; and I therefore take leave to append a note that gave me great
pleasure above twenty years ago, and is still very grateful to finer emotions than the amour propre could inspire.

My dear Sir,

“I have indeed to thank you most heartily—most cordially—for the kindness and favour of your review of ‘Eugene Aram.’ I know that I thank you for a sincere opinion, however private friendship may have contributed to form its substance, and mould its expression, and this gives me a double pleasure—that of the publicity of your praise, and that also of its private sincerity.

“I was greatly surprised to see that the ‘Court Journal’ had obtained the book in sheets, as I had meant any little use derivable for an early copy solely for you. I am glad you like the unity of the story, and the scenes in the third volume, for they are the result of more care over my natural faults of composition than any other qualities in the work.

“Believe me, my dear friend,
“Your ever grateful,

Perhaps, boasting too much of my critical acumen, I may, nevertheless, notice, that in the next work of Bulwer, his then publisher, Mr. Bentley, did me the honour to request my previous comments on certain portions of the narrative as it was going through the press, the result of which will be shown by the following extract of a letter from him: “I am much obliged by the observations you have thrown out respecting ‘Godolphin.’ . . The passages shall be cancelled, and I cannot but feel greatly obliged to you for drawing my attention to the subject. The cancels shall be forwarded to you early to-morrow.” In “Paul Clifford,” the author had paid me a similar compli-
ment, for he informs me, “I am so sorry that, owing to some mistake of the printer’s, one of the sheets in which you requested me to leave out some ‘strong’ expressions, was struck off, and I was thereby prevented doing so. But the other, containing the note on
Moore, I was able to modify as you suggested.”

To the period when my connection with the literary press terminated, the same kind of gratifying intercourse continued to subsist between my distinguished friend and myself, and I feel assured that he will not be ashamed of having a few of the proofs of its confidential nature exhibited to the credit of those frank communications and generous relations which ought to be cherished between authors and parties who assume the responsible office of criticism. The mutual interchange of sentiments and opinions, dictated by candour and sincerity, combines the sweet and useful in an eminent degree, and is a contribution of considerable value to the truest interests of literature.

And if this state of things was acceptable in regard to literary processes, it was rendered yet more delightful by the social cordialities which varied and enhanced its pleasures. I had in my power occasionally to perform friendly services for individuals recommended by Mr. Bulwer and his immediate circle—introducing some young aspirants to the perplexities of the pen, and giving or procuring employment for others in whose welfare an interest was felt. As an instance of this I will insert a letter from a lady whose volume on behalf of the sex and their rights made some noise at the time it appeared, when the cause could not boast of such earnest and accomplished apostles as have re-echoed the theme. Mrs. Wheeler was the sister of Sir John Doyle and the mother of Mrs. Bulwer, and her letter does so much honour to her character as a true-hearted
private benefactor, as well as a warm public advocate where woman’s interests were concerned, that I am happy to preserve probably the only anecdote of her that will ever appear in print.

“Monday, July 20th.
My dear Mrs. Fordyce,

“The good tidings you bring me relative to your mission, on behalf of unfortunate Madame de L * * * * t, gives me much pleasure.

Mr. Jerdan’s promise being given, delay in its accomplishment is all we have to complain of; and situated as this poor lady is, suffering in body and depressed in mind, delay is not only dangerous, but would be a crime against humanity and justice were it intentional, which I am persuaded it is not. The fact is, that literary men are so immersed in their pursuits, that an occasional lapse of memory must meet with all due indulgence, and in this manner we must account for Mr. Jerdan’s omission. Might I suggest, my dear Mrs. Fordyce, that, as you are delayed a few days longer in London, time yet remains to follow up your previous humane exertions for poor Madame de L * * * * t, by a line to Mr. Jerdan, reminding him of his promise, and I am quite sure he will be obliged to you for doing so.*

“As you are going to Paris, what an opportunity would be lost of conveying to the sufferer this relief. I need not press this question upon you, as I know that your own prompt benevolence will anticipate all that should be done on so pressing an occasion. God bless you, my dear Mrs. Fordyce, my hand is so weak I can hardly hold the pen; but, ill or well, am always most sincerely and affectionately yours,


* A lady I consequently engaged as soon as I could, i.e. immediately, as a Paris correspondent; in which capacity she continued several years.—W.J.


There is a quaint Scotch story of a Highlandman who asked a passer-by, on the bridge of Perth, what was the name of the shentleman that lived in the bra’ house yonder, which he pointed out, and being told it was the bank of “Sir John * * * * and Co.” waited till his informant was out of sight, and then very deliberately, on the parapet, forged an order on Sir John * * * * and Co., which, in his ignorance, he signed in the same manner as he had addressed it. On presentation for payment the intended fraud was of course instantly detected, and the offender taken into custody. Inquiries followed, and on being told he had committed a crime that would hang him, poor Donald merely shrugged up his shoulders and replied, “I hae seen as muckle:—Times taks turns;” and so I may say with the little bit of frolic which the following recalls to mind, and I look back with something like disbelief in my senses when I think of the marvellous turns which time has taken since our merry bout at the theatre, in consequence of the pretty note of L. E. L.

Dear Sir,

“Do you remember a promise made to Mrs. Bulwer and Mrs. Wyndham touching the play and pantomime; can you get them a box to-night or Friday to see ‘Puss in Boots?’ and can you give me an answer (if you will try) by the two o’clock boy. Please let the boy call on me to take a note for me.

“Yours truly,
L. E. L.

“Send word, please, when you mean to call to-day.”

Such arrangements, however, were of frequent occurrence, and truly the acquaintance of an editor was very convenient,
especially of an agreeable one, who was not, however, he must confess, lasted in such high favour with the
rather violent dame first mentioned,* nor with the second exalted lady, who has so recently played the first grand role in golden-robed ministerial glories. The former having imagined she has reason to detest old friends who still wish her well, and happier than she would suffer herself to be; and the latter may have mounted up the lofty ladder to a sphere so superior as to have a woman’s right to forget all byegones, and the pleasant jostlings on the lower steps. Alas! Sic transit!

But to return for a moment to the more immediate† subject of this chapter, as I may never live to reach what ought to be its sequel; my vanity is increased when I can say that Bulwer evinced the same regard for my opinion when his poetical career was running its noble race; for, though it is much easier for the invidious and captious

* Ex. gr. 1830.

Per contra, Lady Bulwer-Lytton in 1849. “The only thing that can equal your malignity in your review of ‘The Peer’s Daughter’ is your ignorance and wilful mis-statements. Your next charge of the language and style being at times almost pedantic, is rather more just, for the truth is that this book, in order to avoid the hired assassin-stabs of such reptiles as yourself and the rest of the clique, was intended to have been (by me) published anonymously, but, of course, the Mammon-worship of ‘a British publisher’ prevailed and threw me to the lions.” . . ‘There are accusations a thousand degrees worse than those, besides the threat of posthumous infamy as the worst man in the world—but one!!” O, well might I exclaim with poor Donald, “Times taks turns!”—W. J.

† See Appendix G.

to carp at and injure the poet in an unpoetic age, than to write down the novelist,
Bulwer’s poems will bide the test of time, and deserve a much higher eulogy than I have here bestowed upon them. “Now (he writes me) let me at once be plain, and yet confide in the certainty of your friendly feelings. There are very few (I am writing candidly) whose genuine opinion of my poems I would desire so much as your own. I am doubtful about them myself, not only because I am quite aware that no author can judge of his own works, but because I very much fear that I could not be a good critic in the case of others—often seeing but conceit where reviewers clamorously concur in praising beauties. Now I have sufficient strings to my bow in prose to be able to bear, without soreness or humiliation, any private opinion you might pass on my capacities in poetry. Even Voltaire, vain and great as he was, felt grateful to his friend when he said, ‘Leave the Sciences alone, and stick to Literature.’ So, if you think the publication of my volume a mistake, I beseech you to tell me so, entre nous, and let the blame rest with me if, like Gil Blas’s archbishop, I wish un peu plus de bon gout. I mean that, in that case, I gratefully respect your judgment, and waive all expectation of that public notice which is so disagreeable to an amiable nature, when there is no option between committing one’s judgment and hurting one’s friend. I own that I should reconcile myself more to ‘My dear Bulwer—shun the Muses,’ than to that sort of review which comes from the struggle between good nature and sound judgment, or to that conglomeration with other versifiers which an author, now some thirteen years before the public, and making with diffidence, an experiment in his mature manhood, shrinks from the same prudery, manifested by an elderly maiden when confounded with ‘those flighty girls.’
And so having disburthened myself, and assuring you of my perfect sincerity, believe me, &c.—E. L. B.”

I need scarcely add that this apprehension on the part of the author (it was before “Arthur” was published) was quite at issue with my estimate of his poetical powers; and I was happily able to write a review which was neither contrary to my genuine opinion, nor a’ conglomerate.

To end this, I hope interesting, literary chapter, I will state a remarkable occurrence as affecting the relative conditions of authors and publishers. Bulwer, I believe, paid Mr. Bentley £750 to recover a small portion of copyright which he wished in order to possess an entire property in his works; and, nearly at the same time, Mr. Dickens took a like step to repurchase a share of the copyright of Oliver Twist, after it had launched “Bentley’s Miscellany” prosperously on the popular tide, and gone through two or three profitable editions. The compensation was referred to Mr. John Forster and myself, and upon my table the sum of £2250 was handed over to Mr. Bentley, and both parties perfectly satisfied. But was not “the Trade” fortunate in so easily adding to handsome preceding emoluments, the total of no less than £3000?