LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 15: Learned Societies

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Quorum pars * * * fui.*”

From personal sketching, I shall alternate to a glance at public affairs, in which the “Gazette” took a prominent interest, and to which I devoted myself with much assiduity. With Mr. Vigors, in the establishment of the Zoological Society, I co-operated zealously, and was rewarded with the compliment of a perpetual ivory ticket, which I still retain, though I can very seldom use it. To this succeeded the formation of the Royal Geographical Society, the merit of originating which I claim for the “Literary Gazette” and its Editor.

The first idea and suggestion ever breathed for such an institution appeared in the “Literary Gazette” of the 24th of May, 1828, when, in answer to a correspondent, I wrote and published the following paragraph:—

“With regard to the hint that a Geographical Society

* A word illegible. It seems something like mag! Perhaps magna.—Quære, by Printer.

would be an excellent institution in England, we perfectly agree with our correspondent A. C. C. It is a great desideratum among our literary and scientific associations. Our numerous travellers returning home would continually bring novelty and information; and the meetings could not fail to be of the most agreeable and instructive kind. We are persuaded it only needs three or four active and influential persons to originate such a plan, in order to ensure its perfect success. * * * We trust to see this matter taken up by efficient hands.”

From the egg thus dropt, the Royal Geographical Society was hatched; though a little time was spent in the incubation; for it was not until four months after, viz., the 20th of September, that the following appeared in No. 609 of the “Gazette”:—


“After your favourable mention in the ‘Literary Gazette’ of the 24th of May, of the hint relating to the establishment of a Geographical Society, I confidently expected that some of your correspondents would immediately discuss the formation of such an institution. My expectations having, however, been disappointed, and fearing that the answer to your correspondent may have escaped the notice of those who feel desirous of promoting geographical knowledge, I request you will spare me a small portion of your columns to direct or recall attention to this important subject.

“No country is so deeply interested as England in the acquisition of a correct knowledge of the physical, moral, and political geography of every part of the world; yet, while we have societies for the cultivation of almost every other branch of knowledge, we have none for the cultivation
of that science on which our political and commercial prosperity so greatly depends.

“The non-existence of a geographical society in England cannot, I am certain, be traced to the want of persons to institute it: for no nation abounds so much as this country in voyagers and travellers; and the reading public generally considers the study of geography not less agreeable than instructive. Neither can its absence arise from the want of means for effectually executing the purposes, for we have active and intelligent countrymen either constantly visiting or residing in almost every part of the habitable globe.

“As we enjoy the benefit and pleasure derived from geography, and are better circumstanced, in reference to its cultivation than any other European nation, it may be inquired why a geographical society has not long since been established in England? It is simply because no person possessing influence and energy has proposed its establishment. If the formation of a geographical society was proposed, or zealously patronised by a few distinguished individuals, there is no doubt that a society, which would unite the suffrages of the politician, the man of letters, and the merchant, would rapidly become eminent for its numbers and utility.

“It would be easy to enumerate the objects to which a geographical society would direct its attention, and the means by which they might be obtained; but I will limit myself by stating, that I think statistics, the topography of the British empire, and history, so far as it is intimately connected with geography, should be included among its objects; and that furnishing travellers with topics of inquiry connected with the countries they visit, and encouraging them by conferring honorary distinctions, or pecuniary rewards, and by the publication of their observations, should be employed as means of increasing our geographical knowledge.


“In conclusion, I take the liberty of stating my conviction of the strong probability that geography, through being honoured and patronised, would be more generally and deeply studied, and thereby attain the rank of a science, which it should, but does not at present possess in England.

“I am yours, &c.
W. H.

Still, after thus moving the matter in various likely quarters, and stimulating and negotiating, more than a year was spent before Mr. Huttmann, of the Asiatic Society, the writer of the foregoing letter, Mr. Britton, and one or two other individuals favourable to the project, with myself, and canvassed by him, viz., Captain (now Admiral) Smyth, Francis Baily, Lieut. Stratford, Colonel Colby, &c, succeeded in procuring the required co-operation. In consequence of a communication from Mr. Britton, with the first uncorrected proof of a Prospectus on the 8th of May, 1830 (“L. G.,” No. 694), I promulgated the following notice:—

“We are very glad to have received the prospectus of a plan for forming a London Geographical Society, which we have long considered to be a great desideratum among our learned and useful national institutions. The Geographical Society of Paris has contributed, and is always contributing, much valuable information to the world; and assuredly this maritime country, with colonies in every corner of the earth, the most enterprising seamen, and the most zealous travellers, ought not to be in the rear, where it has the means of being at the head of such interesting inquiries. The prospectus for the establishment of the London Geographical Institution, after remarking on the paramount consequence of geographical science, and the want of any encouragement to its cultivation in England (of all the countries in the
world!!); and after describing the progress and beneficial results of the Parisian association during the nine years of its existence, goes on to propose the formation of a similar society in London, whose object shall be to collect and register all the important facts comprehended under the two great divisions of political and physical geography; those of physical geography, including mountains, rivers, soil, climate, distribution of animals, vegetables, minerals, &c.; and those of political geography, comprehending ancient and moral civil divisions of the countries, sites of towns, both ancient and modern; nature of government; distribution of languages; roads, canals, manufactures, population, education; the whole statistics of a country, &c. A house or chambers; a library, to contain all the best books on geography, with maps, charts, &c.; a correspondence to be formed with similar societies and individuals in different parts of the world; prizes for the determination of particular questions, and inquiries, which would extend our knowledge of geographical facts, and the occasional publication, in a small and cheap form, of all the useful results at which the society arrives, are among the leading features of this plan, of the success of which we cannot entertain a doubt, and to the advancement of which we shall be happy to contribute by every means in our power, especially as the idea was originally thrown out and recommended in our columns more than twelve months ago.”

I made some corrections and alterations in this prospectus, and it was immediately printed and circulated among parties thought likely to approve of and promote the design. The result was all that could be wished. The original suggestions of the “Gazette” were adopted and acted upon. The hints, if they did not immediately fructify, took root; and, at last, in the summer of 1830, a meeting of the Raleigh
(Travelling) Club toot place, with
Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Barrow in the chair; than whom there could not be a more desirable person to preside over the resolutions, seven in number, then and there agreed to, for “Establishing a Geographical Society.” Farther, a potential provisional committee of individuals, distinguished for scientific knowledge and extensive travel, was appointed to frame the constitution of the society, and their names afforded to the public a certain assurance of success; for I have but to mention Mountstuart Elphinstone, Sir Thomas Brisbane, Sir A. de Capell Brooke, Mr. Cam Hobhouse (now Lord Broughton), Mr. Hay (of the Colonial Office), Colonel Leake, Captain (now Admiral) Beaufort, Captain Basil Hall, Sir John Franklin (alas!), Admiral Smyth, Captain Mangles, Mr. Barrow, Colonel Colby, Mr. Robert Brown, the great botanist, Mr. Henry Ward, Major the Honourable G. Keppell, Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Greenough, and though last, assuredly not least (and. in the result, the most ardent and efficient friend to the society), Mr. (now Sir) Roderick Murchison, in order to show that the work was now undertaken under auspices which could not fail to bring it into extended action, and direct its course to eminent utility and éclat. Captain Maconochie was elected secretary, and his indefatigable character also augured well for the infant association.

It is only justice to observe, that the parties who had stirred the business to this public demonstration, enjoying the prospect of a fruitful issue to their labours, displayed no petty jealousy on the occasion, but cordially joined, and gave their best support to the distinguished band which had, at length, embarked in the cause, and launched it with a wet sheet and a flowing sail on so bright a sea.* The

* Appendix K.

Dukes of
Wellington and Bedford; Lords Melville, Aberdeen, Bexley, and Prudhoe, Davies Gilbert; Sirs R. Peel, George Murray, George Clerk, H. Inglis, E. Parry, George Cockburn; the Right Hon. C. Yorke, Mr. Wilson Croker, Captain Beechey, Dr. Roget, and many other men, eminent in the intellectual annals of their time, were speedily enrolled as members; and this great maritime country witnessed at last the foundation of an institute which has since done much for its honour and advantage, and will, I trust, continue for centuries to come, to expand and enrich the wide-spread field of its important labours.

Frequent meetings were now convened, the proceedings at which I had great pleasure in making public, and in consequence of which above five hundred adhesions were announced of noblemen and gentlemen of distinction in life and literature, such as I never knew combined before at the commencement of any undertaking of any kind. Mr. Barrow in an admirable address took a comprehensive view of the objects contemplated, and the ample means which a nation like England possessed, with its vast colonies and fleets covering every sea, to accomplish them all in a splendid manner. Before the end of the season Lord Goderich (Earl of Ripon) was elected President, and the Society entered fairly and fully upon the career of its imperial usefulness. There have been periods of comparative languor since, but feeling, as I think I have a right to do, somewhat in loco parentis, I take a papa’s pride in believing that it is at the present day in as flourishing and beneficial a condition as ever it was at any preceding date.

In this year I was, as previously told, one of the half-dozen founders of the Melodists’ Club; but had a far more busy time of it in making preparations for the issue of a new periodical, which required immense correspondence,
research, and application, yet which I was not afraid to face with one colleague, in whose intelligence and spirit I had the utmost confidence, and the alliance of others of great information and ability. This was no other than the weekly publication of a journal as full of matter as the “
Gazette,” of a similar form, and doing the same for the literature, arts, and sciences of the rest of the world, as its elder brother was doing for native land. The “Foreign Literary Gazette” offered a seductive prospect of valuable matter and promise of reputation and reward. My immediate associate was my friend Captain Williams, since and now so favourably known to the public in the official capacity of Inspector of Prisons; and I am inclined to fancy that the cultivation of his mind and practice of his pen in this literary pursuit may have had some share in producing that sagacity which he has displayed in performing the difficult duties of his office, and marked the lucidity which has imparted such high value to his Blue-book Reports. There are few schools superior to the school of literary reviewing and miscellaneous essay for developing the intellectual faculties and enlarging the understanding. To write even indifferently men must learn something; to write well they must study devotedly and learn a great deal, a certain degree of exercise and discipline of the faculties is indispensable. My friend was no superficial reader, and had seen much of the world to improve his natural qualifications. And so, we set to work upon the “Foreign Literary Gazette,” of which thirteen numbers from January 6, 1830, are now lying before me, and seem to me, on perusal, to be most deservedly entitled to a warmer reception and a better fate than they met with either from learned or popular circles.

Our Adjutant-General was Mr. H. Smith, an assistant of
adequate calibre, a steady good hard-worker, who could go through a great deal and perform the service very satisfactorily. As Secretary to King’s College, London, he has evinced the possession of these sterling requisites.
Mr. Lloyd of the Foreign Post-Office (my diligent and laborious coadjutor in the “Gazette” for more than twenty years) and other allies formed a strong staff; and correspondents were engaged from Petersburgh to Naples. Publishers in every quarter were also enlisted, and in order to perfect the arrangements, Mr. Smith travelled into Belgium, Holland, and Germany, and Captain Williams into France, whilst I, at-home, obtained the ambassadorial patronage and co-operation of Prince Lieven, Prince Esterhazy, Lord Burghersh (then at Florence), and other persons in power who could facilitate our intercourse with distant countries, and help us in other respects to a most convenient extent.

An imposing field was chalked out and a flattering vista opened. Messrs. Longmans and Mr. Colburn for a considerable time debated on taking £500 interests each, but I believe it occurred to them that the task of editing would distract me too much from the “Literary Gazette” (then a very lucrative investment) and they threw cold water on the Novelty, from its concoction to its finale; to the need for which latter end their discountenance, in great measure, contributed. Mr. Murray did not coquette with my proposal to him to join forces, and his note in answer is so characteristic, that—here it is—

“Albemarle-street, December 23, 1829.
My dear Jerdan,

“I have not been so inattentive to your former applications respecting the ‘Foreign Literary Gazette,’ as it may have appeared to you; for upon every occasion
that I received a letter from you on this subject I wrote to or inquired of Messrs.
Longman what they intended to do; but I never could obtain a decisive or satisfactory answer.

“I decline joining in the ‘Foreign Literary Gazette,’ for no other reason than the thorough knowledge of myself—that I should be a restless and teasing partner—and indeed I can absolutely do nothing when I am obliged to act with others.

“With most sincere thanks for your very kind offer, and with the warmest wishes for the success of the undertaking (of which I have not the smallest doubt),

“I remain,
“My dear Jerdan,
“Most faithfully yours,
W. Jerdan, Esq.

It was, however, the stamp which defeated us. Some of the arrangements are of literary curiosity enough to be mentioned. In Paris, Captain Williams found it expedient to salary a literary agent, to visit all the booksellers’ shops from week to week, and collect the budgets they professed themselves ready and desirous to forward for notice to England. The secretaries and reporters of the literary and scientific societies engaged to send regular reports of their proceedings. An eminent “hand” undertook the fine arts. A prospectus in French was published with Galignani’s name at the foot of it; as was another in Italian, for circulation in Italy, with the address of Signor W. Jackson, of Rome, and recommended to the classics of that Carbonari country by “suoi devotiss. Servitori i Redattori della Foreign Literary Gazette!” In short Captain Williams’ Parisian arrangements were upon a perfect scale, to secure
from persons of acknowledged talent in every branch we sought to illustrate constant communications of a superior order.

Mr. Smith was equally assiduous and successful in his mission, and in all the considerable places he visited, made engagements with such writers for instance as De Reiffenberg and Quetelet, at Brussels; Dr. Blume, at the Hague; got the assurance of my friend, Mr. Bosworth’s best services; and at Berlin, Copenhagen, Leipzig, Breslau, Dresden, Gottingen, Darmstadt, he, &c., &c., secured the co-operation of first-rate celebrities.

I look back on the excitement of this affair with astonishment. The paper was announced to be produced, but how? with already as much, or more on my head than I could do justice to, the brain-seething of the plans and details did not allow me to take into consideration. But it came out, with great novelty of information for English readers, and a very pleasing and instructive Miscellany it was. It would require more room than I can afford to attempt even a slight notice of its more important contents, but I rescue from its sad oblivion a few anecdotes of Talleyrand, which may not have crept out of it elsewhere.


“[Very many are the anecdotes recounted of the celebrated Talleyrand; we do not remember a tithe of those we have heard and read, which, like Lord Norbury’s, sparkle and are partially forgotten; but the following will, we trust, be found to be original, and pregnant enough for a half-page of relievo in the ‘Foreign Literary Gazette.’]

“Shortly after the affair of Pichegru and Moreau, a banker who had been introduced to Talleyrand, and
admitted to the honour of several conferences with him, wrote to his Excellency to solicit an audience, which was granted. Talleyrand was at that time minister for foreign affairs. The report of the death of
George III. had just obtained circulation throughout Paris, and was naturally suspected to produce a great sensation on the stock exchange. The banker, who, like many of his financial brethren, wished to make a good hit, and thought the present a favourable opportunity, had the indiscretion to reveal to the minister the real object of his visit. Talleyrand listened to him without moving a muscle of his phlegmatic visage, and at length replied in a solemn tone:—‘Some say that the King of England is dead, others say that he is not dead; but do you wish to know my opinion?’ ‘Most anxiously, Prince!’ ‘Well then, I believe—neither! I mention this in confidence to you; but I rely on your discretion: the slightest imprudence on your part would compromise me most seriously.’

“Madame Flamelin one day reproached M. de Moutrou with his attachment to Talleyrand. ‘Good God! madam,’ replied M. de Moutrou, with naïveté, ‘who could help liking him, he is so wicked!’

Talleyrand, speaking of the members of the French Academy, observed—‘after all, it is possible they may one day or other do something remarkable. A flock of geese once saved the Capitol of Rome.’

“On a certain occasion, a friend was conversing with Talleyrand on the subject of Mademoiselle Duchenois, the French actress and another lady, neither of them remarkable for beauty. The first happens to have peculiarly bad teeth, the latter none at all. ‘If Madame S——,’ said Talleyrand, ‘only had teeth she would be as ugly as Mademoiselle Duchenois.’


“A distinguished personage once remarked to Talleyrand, ‘in the upper Chamber at least are to be found men possessed of consciences.’ ‘Consciences,’ replied Talleyrand, ‘to be sure: I know many a peer who has got two.’

Madame de Staël, speaking of Talleyrand, illustrates his character in the following happy and familiar manner:—‘The good Maurice is not unlike the mannikins with which children play—dolls with heads of cork and legs of lead: throw them up which way you please, they are sure to fall on their feet.’

Talleyrand had a confidential servant excessively devoted to his interests, but withal superlatively inquisitive. Having one day intrusted him with a letter, the prince watched his faithful valet from the window of his apartment, and with some surprise saw him reading the letter en route. On the next day a similar commission was confided to the servant, and to the second letter was added a postscript, couched in the following terms:—‘You may send a verbal answer by the bearer; he is perfectly acquainted with the whole affair, having taken the precaution to read this previously to its delivery!’ Such a postscript must have been more effective than the severest reproaches.”

But neither able reviews, interesting original papers, accounts of important scientific discoveries, nor lighter matter and amusing anecdotes, could prevail upon John Bull to disburse two shillings a week for two literary journals (the Foreign was published every Wednesday), yet the circulation was satisfactory, but the expenses (including considerable sums for expeditious translations from several languages) were consuming, and the advertisements did not come in flush (my partners in the “ould” L. G. setting the example of retentiveness); and thus, in spite of gallant exertions, we found it prudent to give up our arduous work
at the close of its first, and last, quarter. In bidding farewell, we stated that we had entered into the speculation in the belief that a desire to possess a speedy acquaintance with foreign literature and science was so prevalent in England, that a work of the kind would be encouraged to such an extent as to remunerate the very great labour and expense that must be incurred in carrying it on. Our brief experiment had convinced us we were partially mistaken in our opinion. It was true, the journal had met with liberal support, and most flattering testimonies of approbation; but the former had not been sufficient to induce us, on a rational view of the case, to proceed with the design. We had enjoyed, as our prospectus held out, regular contributions from the first men in Europe, and yet, great as the cost was of printing nearly every syllable from MSS. in modern and ancient languages, translated, we firmly believed that perseverance and the outlay of much capital, would have established the publication.

Thus we closed our well-intended labours, after thirteen weeks’ incessant application, building on foundations expensively as well as extensively laid down; and my friend and myself, on counting up our comforts, found that we had lost, as nearly as possible, a hundred pounds per week on our foreign whistle.
Though losses and crosses
Be lessons right severe,
There’s wit there, ye’ll get there,
Ye’ll find nae other where.

So singeth the Ayrshire bard, but whether I learnt anything worth while or not from this experiment, I always flatter myself that it was the best, and ultimately the most beneficial and productive lesson my esteemed colleague ever learnt.


The nature of my occupation, and the manifold connections to which it led, brought me into contact with all the schemes that arose, from time to time, for material and social improvement, or ameliorating the condition of such sections of the community as were suffering distress or wrong from the constitution of our revolving system, ever causing mutations, which, on the progress of events and the consequent prosperity of individuals and classes, irresistibly tend to the misfortunes and adversity of others. The general level is, no doubt, maintained; but, in preserving it, it is the fate of some to rise and some to fall, by the certain force of circumstances, and neither by error nor fault of their own. Works and efforts for the common good are almost invariably attended by partial, and frequently by wide-spread, injuries.

The feeling conviction of this law, and the hardships which it inflicts, is the origin of most of the benevolent institutions and charities which reflect so much honour on British humanity, and especially abound in the metropolis of the Empire. A number of these sprung up in my active time, and it is a source of heartfelt consolation to me that my humble exertions were never withheld from their aid to the utmost of my power. I can conscientiously lay the unction to my soul, that I was not one of the kind so poignantly anathematised by my friend Martin Tupper:—
Oh, but ’tis war to the knife man,
Selfish and desperate strife, man,
* * * *
What do they care for your cares, man,
Nobody heeds
How the heart bleeds,
Nor how a poor fellow fares, man.

On the contrary, I ever took a lively interest even in the minor propositions and processes devised for beneficial ends,
and in reviewing my life (with all its imperfections), I can safely say that I did not neglect my duties towards my fellow-creatures, nor fail to contribute my share of usefulness to the common weal. A refreshing evidence of this (recalling long-forgotten things to my memory) has reached me since the publication of my preceding volumes; and as the writer touches on improvements yet to be carried into execution, I beg leave to add his letter, and a sample of its enclosure, in illustration of the things which have since been done, and the things which it is still desirable to effect:—

“January 19, 1853.
Dear Sir,

“In your first two volumes of amusing autobiography, on referring to your editorial labours in the ‘Literary Gazette,’ you, with great truth, take credit for its influence on public opinion, as evinced by many of the hints scattered through its columns having been seized and acted on. You name some instances; you might have taken credit for more.

“I was for some years, though at distant intervals, an occasional contributor to its pages. The few prose compositions you may call to mind were all headed ‘A Few Queries;’ many of these related to architectural subjects. They were all accepted, and to one paper was assigned the post of honour, the first page. I have not a copy of each by me, but I can recall them to your recollection by a transcript of one, which I herewith enclose, and therein you will see the articles alluded to.

“I think, too, it was in one of these papers that the monstrous superstructure then overhanging the Mansion House, in the City, and since removed, was first brought into notice.


“It was there, too, that attention was first directed to the utterly neglected condition of the Parks, particularly Hyde Park,* now become undoubtedly one of the completest and finest promenades in Europe.

“You will make such use of these hints as you may think proper, and, with the best wishes for the success of your work,

“I am, dear Sir,
“Take this,”
“What’s this.”—Old Play.

“Whether Mr. M. A. Taylor, who undertook by his late bill to make steam-engines consume their own smoke, would have any objection to stand any day, a little before he dined, just for five minutes, on London Bridge, particularly on the western side? and whether, if he did so, ho might not by the operation save himself the expense of a dinner, deducting only the necessary charge for a dose of physic, to clean out his inside after the treat?

“Whether it is quite fair to be always reproaching our Continental neighbours for commencing buildings which they never finish, while we exhibit Somerset House (the finest and most central object of our metropolis) with an entire wing yet unbuilt, and thus left for the best part of a century?

“For how many years is it to happen in this ‘great nation,’ as we delight to call it, that whilst other capitals boast of superb palaces for their national pictures, a foreigner shall be directed, when inquiring for ours, to a paltry little house, No. 100, Pall Mall, where he will find them disposed

* I remember a ridiculous con. at the time. “Why are the three parks like single men?—Because, if taken in, they are done for!”

in such rooms as many a retired cheesemonger would be far from being proud of?

“Whether, in these refining times, when a cowkeeper has named his cow-shed a Lactearium, the old-fashioned name of the City-road, leading to it, might not be considered obsolete, and changed to that of the Via Lactea?

“Why the great western door of St. Paul’s, affording so fine a vista to the cupola, is never opened? Whether the Dean and Chapter are afraid that, by letting in so much light and air to the church, all the damp and mildew would be excluded? or whether it is intended for the benefit of the bun trade, the little door opened being built close against the pastry-cook’s shop?

“Why the numbers of the pictures at our annual exhibition are so ingeniously placed as to make up just one-half of the fatigue of the day, in finding them out? whether there is any joke in the thing? and where the gist lies?

“When the opening into Lincoln’s-inn Fields, begun twenty years ago, by the way of Pickett Place, shall be completed? and whether, whenever that event shall occur, it would not be a great treat to mark the astonishment of many of the neighbouring inhabitants at first sight of that terra incognita? many thousands having, from its always having been so carefully shut up, never so much as dreamed of its existence!

“What can possibly be the reason that this, the finest square in England (perhaps in Europe), should be so sedulously shut up from all observation, as a thing to be ashamed of; and, although within a few yards on each side of the two greatest thoroughfares of the metropolis, no access let into it but by by-ways and alleys? Whether any very atrocious act, any very horrible murder, has brought upon its precincts this heavy doom, or whether the
only reason it is deemed proper to conceal it is the great quantity of lawyers living in it?

“Whether the taste for music is not sufficiently spread to allow of the Italian Opera being thrown open to the public, at something like the prices at which it is enjoyed in other capitals? and, as under the present system of exclusion all who have anything to do in its management have been invariably ruined, whether it might not (just by way of experiment) be as well to try, in place of the patronage of the great, what might be done by the admission of the many?

“Why, as we seem at length awakened in this, ‘the first capital of Europe,’ to the propriety of a few statues here and there, one or two might not, just by way of change, be exhibited of marble? and whether, through the smoke which prevails always, and the fog which prevails often, those of bronze do not, at a very few feet distance, look wonderfully like huge heaps of mud?

“Why, amongst the many improvements for regaining land from the water, that great marsh within view of the Royal Palace, called the Parade, in St. James’s Park, might not be advantageously attempted? or whether, as among the numerous Government offices which surround it, so many persons are presumed to be cooling their heels in attendance within, it is deemed but fair and equitable that the crowd should he allowed to cool their heels without?”

These and many other suggestions of a similar kind were perseveringly enforced in the page of the “Literary Gazette,” and among others there was no design in which (as I have already noticed) I took a more zealous concern than in the proposal to prohibit intra-mural burial, and provide cemeteries in fitting adjacent localities, where the dead might repose amid beauties of external nature,
grateful to the senses of those who lamented their loss; and be resolved into their mortal elements without poisoning the health and shortening the existence of the living. This important subject has been ardently taken up since I first moved in it, and is, I now hope, in the act of being fully reformed. Kensal Green, Brompton, Norwood, Highgate, and other sites bear testimony to the eligibility of such establishments, but the good derived from them is as nothing when compared with the greater good of shutting up the gorged graveyards in London, and the horrible Golgothas in the vaults of churches, where thousands have been borne to “rot and rot,” in most disgusting abomination. At the period of which I am now writing, I recollect one grand scheme which I warmly supported—it was for a spacious national cemetery, somewhat of the same character as that of Père la Chaise at Paris, intended to occupy a site of 150 acres about Primrose Hill, and to be divided into three regions of tombs, with catacombs, mausoleums, temples—laid out in the fine style of ornamental gardening, and adorned with rich and varied displays of architecture and sculpture. The estimated expense was 400,000l., and it was calculated that the 30,000 bodies annually deposited in the midst of the crowded capital, could be solemnly interred here and remain undisturbed for generations, and until all that once was man should be undistinguishable from his mother earth. The plan, however, fell to the ground. The time was not yet ripe for so desirable a consummation.

But death and life, sadness and mirth sojourn next door to each other:
Festinat enim de currere velox
Fiosculus angustte miserseque brevissima vitæ
Portio; dum bibimus, dum serta, unguenta, puellas
Poscimus, obstrepit non intellects senectus.


I think the next matter that occupied my attention was the formation of the Garrick Club. Accidentally meeting Lord Mulgrave in the street (having missed the subjoined and preceding notes*) he told me he was going to join a small party of friends and lovers of the drama at Mr. Winston’s, in Charles-street, Covent Garden, in order to concert the initiation of a club for the promotion of dramatic and general interest of the stage. His Lordship at once put the imaginary shilling into my hand, and no recruit was ever a heartier volunteer than I was. I accompanied him, and 150 eligible members were associated on the broad principle that they would combine all the essentials of a club, limited to 200, with the advantages of literary society, by bringing together the patrons of the drama, actors, and dramatic authors, and gentlemen who were most eminent in their respective circles, and entertaining opinions congenial to the objects in view. The list of 200 was immediately filled up, the Duke of Sussex elected patron, the Earl of Mulgrave, president, and Sir George Warrender, vice-president. Committee, sub-committee, trustees, auditors, &c., were appointed, and the limitation of members extended to 300. Many suggestions of ways ‘and means were offered, but finally everything was left to the discretion of the committee, which was composed of noble

and distinguished individuals, deemed most likely to mould the undertaking into a successful shape. Probatt’s hotel, in King-street, Covent Garden, was bought, and the interior skilfully and expeditiously re-arranged according to club requisites, by
Mr. Beazeley, to the day of his death an active and pleasant member, contributing his talent to the needful alterations, and his wit and humour to the social enjoyment of the place. Into both these modes of doing my “possible” for the new-born society, I also took a busy part in union with the president, vice-president, Lord W. Lennox, Mr. Frank Mills, and Mr. Beazeley (perhaps another or two) in the choice of furniture, glasses, and other necessary articles, but particularly in the selection of wines, whereon there hangs a tale.

Samples were sent in from various quarters, either recommended by friends of the parties or ordered by the wine committee; and it so happened that Grove House was the most convenient place to try and pronounce judgment on these candidates for the Garrick custom. My coadjutors consequently did me the pleasure of dining several times at Brompton, and the specialties of the occasion induced much merriment, and relished the more on account of its difference from the formalities of set entertainments. The floor of one side of the dining-room would be studded with an array of phials, vessels such as anchovy-sauce or catsup are sold in, and bottles such as the parson stigmatised;
Ye gods avert from eyes divine,
Such eyesores as a pint of wine.
The whole, indeed, as the Yankees say, was “’larmin’ to look at.” However, somehow or other, we got through our task (generally washed or blotted it out by a cool bottle, of
which the worth was known, from the cellar), laid in for the club to begin with a sufficient quantity of what was most approved, and suffered the rest to sink into vinous oblivion. So I fancied, but not so some of the merchants who had been candidates for orders. Some months after I was rather astonished by the appearance of a few “little bills” for the phials, anchovy, and catsup and pint abortions alluded to. I remonstrated, in vain, and one after another as they were delivered in, I paid the charges for these small temptations, without troubling the club, as the club had not drank any; and not very reluctantly (except as to full price) where the specimens exceeded the pintly modicum appeal to taste. By accident I have yet one of these bills among my huddle of papers, and as its quantums exceeded the wee measures, to pay for which, alone, I objected, I just copy the list to show to what straits we were reduced in performing the dangerous service imposed upon us by our unthinking confrères.

“1. Light old Port; 2. Stouter ditto; 3. Pale Sherry; 4. Brown ditto; 5. West India Madeira; 6. East India ditto; 7. Hock; 8. ditto, red; 9. East India Bucellas; 10. Sauterne; 11. Pale Champagne; 12. ditto, Brown; 13. Claret; 14. ditto; 15. Whisky; 16. Pale Brandy; 17. Maraschino; 18. Noyeau Rouge; 19. ditto, Blanc; 20. Curacao; and 21. Gold water”—the sum total of which caused my eyes to water (after my mouth had), and a certain exchange of gold to pass from my pocket into that of the acute dealer, who had not, unluckily for me, been deemed deserving of any commission.

It must have been an inspiration of such revels that I bore off the bell, in a close competition, and linked my fame with that of the Garrick for ever, by devising the symbol under which it flourishes, viz., the globe and legend in a garter, “All the world’s a stage.” This was adopted
by acclamation, and to give it more public celebrity, I had a wood-engraving cut, and with the sanction and applause of the President and Committee printed it at the head of a series of sixteen papers which adorned the light literature of the “
Gazette” during the first half-year of the Club, in whose library a letter-box was placed to receive contributions to illustrate dramatic matters, and advance the interests of the theatrical world. In both instances, so cordially did some of my “talented” colleagues second me, the proposed end was very agreeably answered. In the first paper, after a beautiful translation of the chorus from the “Seven before Thebes,” of Æschylus, by Mr. Frank Mills, the question agitated two years before in the “Gazette,” on the amendment of the law relative to dramatic literary property (on Mr. G. Lamb’s motion in the House of Commons), was again taken up and the cause, which has since been carried, zealously advocated: and among the picked up facetiæ I see “I will never marry a woman who can’t carve,” said M——. “Why?” “Because she would not be a Help Meat for me.” The next gave an account of the opening festival, at which the Duke of Sussex presided, and a charmingly appropriate song, written by James Smith (“pleasantest of pleasant men”) was admirably sung by Braham; as were also a new glee, by a member, chaunted by the musical party, led by Sir George Smart, and a song composed and sung by M. Sola. But it would lead me a Will o’ the Wisp chase to pursue the scintillations of this meteor theme, and with all my liking for it, I must away; only noting that farewell entertainments to Young and Charles Kemble on their leaving the stage (the former has retired from, the latter still graces the club with his gentlemanly manners and long collected theatrical anecdote and intelligence)
were very interesting assemblies; and that the picture-gallery of
Charles Mathews (so exuberantly the delight of the Garrick) was purchased and presented to it by its constant friend the late Mr. Durrant, and is now one of the most interesting of the lions of London.

To finish this chapter agreeably to the spirit of its later pages, I have only to add a jeu d’ esprit in which the initial letters stand for James Smith and John Robinson Planché.

Though not with lace bedizened o’er
From James’s and from Howell’s,
Ah! don’t despise us twenty-four
Poor consonants and vowels.
Though critics may your powers discuss,
Your charms applauding men see,
Remember you from four of us
Derive your X. L. N. C—J. S.
Dear Friends! although no more a dunce
Than many of my betters,
I’m puzzled to reply at once
To four and twenty letters.
Perhaps you’ll think that may not he
So hard a thing to do,
For what is difficult to me,
Is A. B. C. to you.
However, pray dismiss your fears,
Nor fancy you have lost me,
Though many many bitter tears
Our first acquaintance cost me.
Believe me, till existence ends,
Whatever ill beset you,
My oldest literary friends,
I never can forget you.—J. R. P.