LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 16: British Association

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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What cannot art and industry perform,
When Science plans the progress of their toil.
If I can fasten but one cup upon him,
With that which he has drunk to-night already,
He’ll be as full of quarrel and offence
As my young Mistress’ dog.

Passing onward, a brief space of time opened a new source of pursuit in which I took great delight. I refer to the origination of the British Association, to promote the interests of which I immediately devoted the “Literary Gazette,” and from that date to 1850, when my connection with the journal was unscrupulously severed by base intrigue, continued from year to year to labour in its service with untiring assiduity. I attended every meeting after the first; and to the last, with the exception of Belfast, took a share in the proceedings, and with the able scientific aid of my near friend and relative, Mr. Thomas Irwin, who generally
accompanied me to the later meetings, and the assistance, either purchased or volunteered from other quarters, made up the reports which filled hundreds of columns of my publication. This periodical was the foremost to perform the task, and its example was judiciously followed by others, to the great advantage of the Institution. With the burthen of all the work on my mind, I nevertheless found the meetings most agreeable and instructive holidays; somewhat costly perhaps, for “I guess” I spent a very considerable sum of money upon them; and reaped no pecuniary return: for it is a curious literary fact that during the weeks the “Gazette” inserted the transactions, it invariably decreased in circulation, its leaves, like those of the trees, falling in Autumn.

Still it was pains well bestowed, and funds disbursed in a way which brought no repentance. A multitude of useful and pleasant connections were formed during a score of meetings; new scenes were visited; and new attractions of antiquities, arts, and nature explored; and I can call to memory only one annoying incident that occurred to mar the general impression of gratification and instruction from the whole. I do not allude to gallanting Miss Martineau, after the brilliant and hospitable Newcastle meeting, to the sea-lashed terminus of Fingal’s Cave, at Staffa, but to a succeeding rupture which took place at Cambridge, under the presidency of Dr. Whewell. With this learned and encyclopedial-minded, but somewhat arrogant scholar, I had maintained a social acquaintance, thankful for his familiar condescension, admiring his various and comprehensive talents, joining his friends for a season in regrets that they had not been suitably acknowledged by the “powers that be,” and, when their great reward happened to fall into his lap, rejoicing in the lucky
chance which made the trump turn up so high. I was therefore the more sorry to discover that his good fortune had not had the effect of adding to his humility, and that like the mounting Bolingbroke, he was prone to kick down the Association ladder by which he had climbed to the Mastership of Trinity. He described it as declining and unable to support itself, and proposed biennial or triennial meetings, that it might drop off gradually and die a decent and unmarked death. Upon this conduct I ventured to make and print some free remarks, which it seems gave much offence to the master. At Newcastle, however, the grievance was condoned; Dr. Whewell entered into friendly relations for the next assemblage at Cambridge, and the
Marquis of Northampton, ever conciliatory and kind, had the goodness to interpose his gentle offices to effect a personal reconciliation between the irate Professor and my humble self. But the sore was only apparently healed, and my presumption was not forgiven; and his resentment broke out in a very unseemly manner at a hospitable entertainment given to members under the roof of the College, over which, as well as over the dinner-table, he presided. Invited among others to this splendid festival by the, in every respect, truly excellent Professor Sedgwick, I was in compliment to my constant exertions in the cause, seated with Mr. Irwin, in a seat of honour at the board upon the dais, where, besides Mr. Romilly, a high officer of the University, Dr. Roget, my immediate host, and other amiable persons, I was enjoying the good things of college life, in an elysium of unconcern, and little dreaming of a cloud, when the sudden storm broke over me. But it was all the fault of the cross table; which made the Master crosser. I happened to sit at the farther end from that where he ruled the roast; and was
rather surprised that his lackey should walk all the way down with a message to me. I instinctively took a champagne glass in my hand to acknowledge the courtesy from so elevated a place, and could not but (hastily) think it odd that the message delivered to me was the inquiry whose guest I was? Perfectly unaware of any intended insult, I as innocently as one would say “very well thank you, how do ye do,” answered “Professor Sedgwick’s,” and there the matter would have dropt, hut from some suspicion flashing upon my neighbours that the communication was not such as could be tolerated by gentlemen belonging to the college. I explained the circumstance, and no slight degree of indignation was expressed. On withdrawing to the combination-room for the dessert, Mr. Romilly insisted on my abiding by him, and thus again carried me up to the top table, and seated me by his side within the distance of six or eight individuals from the chair. I cannot forget the fury which this insult elicited: in truth, it burnt so fiercely that the want of mastery over the Master’s passion was but too obvious to the company.

Feeling no wrong, I should have been very glad if the silly matter had ended here; but the act of intemperance was taken up as an affront to the college, and, from the principals, the spirit of resentment descended among all classes, and a perfect turmoil ensued. At the next evening meeting, the Master’s special invitations were disregarded, his rooms were deserted, and there was a crowded assembly in the common-hall. Sir R. Murchison and other leading men entered into the cause, and after considerable correspondence wrung an ungracious apology from the Master to me; who has, however, scowled upon me more angrily ever since, so that, when I have accidentally encountered him, I have ever rejoiced that his caput did not possess the
powers of the head of Medusa, for if it had I should have been a paving-stone, and perhaps Macadamised long ago. My chief vexation, at the moment, was occasioned by finding myself the cause of quarrel between
Professor Whewell and Professor Sedgwick, but the latter set my heart at rest, by considering the act as only the last of a series of contumelies he had endured from the same quarter, and expressing his satisfaction that it had come to a climax.

Whilst going through this trouble, I had some amusing compensation, in the entertainment afforded me by numerous squibs and epigrams which I received anonymously from parties with whom the Master appeared to be by no means popular; as indeed he was not, as far as I could see, either with his equals or inferiors. These would make a laughable little chapter, but I will only mention one, as it illustrates the affair which I have so faintly described. It runs thus:—When Professor Whewell returned to Cambridge a benedict, and his lady discovered the estimation in which he was generally held, she is reported to have exclaimed, “Why, W., how is this? When I married you I was taught to believe my husband was the Lion of Cambridge, but I find to my sorrow, he is only the Bear:”
Who, not content
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Would arrogate dominion undeserved
Over his brethren.—Milton.

From the Trinity College dinner I pass on to another of a different order, and leaving the impression of many bittersweet recollections behind. James Hogg, the far-famed Ettrick Shepherd, having paid a visit to London, there arose a pretty general fama clamosa, among the better classes of its Scottish residents, to give him a public reception, and pay a just tribute to his genius. Mr. Lockhart
and I inclined to take up the call, (and I will here seize the opportunity to say of my gifted colleague, that I have always, through a long sweep of years, found him warm and steady in his services to literary Scotsmen who have arisen in his day, witness
Allan Cunningham, Mr. Gleig, and many more, to whose talents he has been no inefficient friend, and also in zeal to promote the best interests of his native land)—Mr. Lockhart and I were induced to take up the call, and what was much more exigent upon our capacities, undertake the arrangements for a suitable meeting with and welcome to the
Bard, who from Scotland’s Sons of Song,
Had come to England’s minstrel shore;
Bard of the many voiced lyre,
Waking alike the smile and tear;
Now glowing bright with patriot fire,
Now lilting songs to Nature dear.

We had only a short time for preparation, and it was most oppressively occupied; but the dinner, as the saying is, came off triumphantly, on the birthday of Burns, chosen as congenial with the occasion; though in consequence of an unannounced and therefore unexpected rush of nearly 200 guests, the tables had to be lengthened, and the feast about an hour delayed, causing a little confusion at the bottom of the Hall. Sir John Malcolm admirably filled the chair, and the post-prandial enjoyments were rarely or never surpassed by any banquet of the kind I ever saw. Two sons of Burns were present, and the boy to whom he had addressed his “Advice to a young Friend,” and the toasts brought out, in delightful and characteristic force, the Shepherd in the Doric of Tweedside; Mr. Lockhart with interesting anecdotes of Scott, whose “happy return” was longed for in vain; Lord Porchester, the poet; Lord
Mahon, the historian; the gallant Sir Pulteney Malcolm and Sir George Murray, noble ornaments of the naval and military services, of whom Scotland was so justly proud; Patrick Robertson, the inimitable humorous representative of the bar; Sir Peter Laurie, than whom a more useful magistrate never sat on the London bench; Captain Basil Hall, author; Sir George Warrender, M. P.; Galt, the novelist; and a closing set the finales of which were, at a later hour, drowned in cheers and the loud notes of the festive bagpipe.

Hogg sang an original song, besides brewing sundry bowls of punch in Burns’ bowl, kept sacred for such anniversaries by the convivial Archibald (alias Archy) Hastie, who is rich in relics of the Ayrshire bard; and there was a good laugh at the toastmaster’s proclaiming silence for the pleasure of a song from Mr. Shepherd—Ettrick was terra incognita to him! Mr. Lockhart mentioned that Burns only met Scott once, when the latter was but seventeen years old, yet from something which then passed (no doubt Scott’s exhibiting some of his early love for ballad poetry), he predicted that he would figure in his country’s annals. Also that Scott while still young and ardent in his pursuit of legendary lore, found Hogg a poor peasant in a wild sequestered valley, possessed of a larger store of what he was seeking than lived in the memory of all the province beside. A characteristic anecdote of Hogg transpired from another friend. Being at dinner at a ducal table, the duchess said to him, “Were you ever here before, Mr. Hogg?” To which the poet with his usual candour, replied, “Na ma’ Laddy, I have been at the yett (the gate) wi beasts that I was driving into England; but I never was inside o’ the house before.”

My intercourse with the Shepherd during the remainder
of his stay in town, was de die in diem, and his manners and joviality, combined with his shrewdness, discretion, and ready wit, imparted a rare degree of novelty and zest to the parties to which we went together. His simplicity and talent for entertaining a company rendered him the “Whistle Binkie,” or soul of the revels, whether ruled by social sense or high jinks; and it was all the same who were his auditors, like the musician with the magic pipe, he enchanted every one to dance after him, and English and Irish, as well as Scotch, were sure to be charmed with his quaintness and his genius. At
Sir George Warrender’s, whose cellar was the ne plus ultra, he persuaded such a tri-national assemblage of a dozen to abandon the claret and stick to the whiskey-toddy, which he brewed with anxious particularity and ladled out with beaming good-will. At the Chief of the Macleods he sang an anti-Whig satire, and being told, when finished, that the Duke of Argyle was at the table, he quickly cried, “Never mind, mon,” and rattled out the ballad of “Donald M’Gillivray,” on the other political side of the question. At this party, I remember the Shepherd himself being astonished by the effect of a message whispered to a gentleman near him, in the midst of great hilarity; for wherever he was, after a jocund feast,
“Still the fun grew fast and furious”—
but now an ice-bolt, equivalent to an ice-berg, had suddenly fallen upon and transformed the scene. The gentleman jumped up from his chair, and laying almost violent hands upon several other gentlemen, hurried them reluctantly out of the room, with the bare assurance that there was a hackney-coach at the door, that would hold six! That individual was
Billy Holmes, the occasion an unlooked-for
division and hurried whip, and the forcibly abducted convives Warrenders, Gordons, Cummings, gallant representatives of the land of the mountain and the flood.

I could recite many similar stories, but though delectable at the time, and not unpleasing on reflection, they would probably be less interesting to the reader than the writer.
But pleasures are like poppies spread.
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed.
* * * *
Nae man can tether time or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride.

Hogg’s departure made quite a blank in my existence, and Grove House seemed to have lost its life, seeing his honest face look in daily no more, nor laughing at his jokes, nor listening with admiration and delight to his songs, nor hearing his most original description of all he had seen and all that had happened to him—the wonders of every twenty-four hours—in altogether novel situations, and in society of an order he had never mixed with before.*

From that period I took a deeper interest than ever in the fortunes of my countryman, and corresponded with him in terms of the warmest regard, to the day of his death.

* I copy here a characteristic letter from Hogg to his publisher Cochrane (who deserved from his liberality to authors better fortune than has befallen him), torn off a communication to me:

“(Private, to be torn off.

“I herewith send you the other two tales of The Wars of Montrose, which I mentioned, and which I am sure will please. I am afraid of the corrections of the press, especially the broken highland dialect, which none but a Scotsman can do. I must, however, trust it to you, for you put a work so slowly through the press, that I cannot and dare not come to London. Indeed, it is impossible to put every work of mine quickly through the press, owing to. the closeness of the MS. Now it makes very little difference which of the tales go first or last, for they are all distinct tales, and allude to distinct battles, quite unconnected with each other, and therefore they may be arranged to suit the

I must add, however, a singular anecdote, which will strike my poetical readers as it did me. I was conversing with him about his poetry, and observed that ho had put two exquisite rural images into a single line, quite equal to anything in
Theocritus, or the most celebrated in Greek pastoral composition. “Hey, sir, what may thae be?” he asked; and I replied, “The delicious traits of evening-fall,—when the lark becomes a clod, and the daisy turns a pea,” on which he immediately retorted, “Hey, sir, what’s in that?—there’s nae great poetry in that—so they do!” Was this beautiful passage suggested by unconscious inspiration? or did he think that pure invention alone, and not an actual perception of beauties in nature, was poetry—imagination, not appreciation?

I have alluded to the exaggerated gratitude with which the impulsive Shepherd overpaid the poor services I was enabled to render him, fancying at these moments that

vols., which is likewise of little avail. But the way they ought to stand is as follows:—

1. The Edinr. Baillie.—That being Montrose’s first campaign.

2. Col. Aston.—That being the second.

3. Julia M’Kenzie (the above tale).—That being his third battle. This tale is accounted my best.

4. Sir Simon Brodie.—His fourth great battle.

5. Wat Pringle.—That being Montrose’s last battle narrated here.

“Now I do not bind you to this arrangement, but it is the natural one, and the way they should be. They should just be printed in the style of the Waverley Novels (first edition), paper and type, which is by far the best style for a circulating library book. All well. God bless and prosper you, dear Cochrane. But before I close, I must tell you that I have a work for publication, a capital one, though I have little interest in it. It will form two handsome closely printed vols., like The Altrive Tales, it is entitled, The Beauties of the British Poets of the 19th century, contrasted and compared in copious notes to each extract. By Messrs. Hay, Howard, and Hogg. The conditions, a moiety of the dear profits for the behoof of two fatherless babies. It is by far the best collection that ever was offered to the British public.

“Your’s most truly,
James Hogg.”

nobody else valued him in the same manner. But his northern friends, though they sometimes made a little mystifying game with him, were never insensible to his merits, nor regardless of his welfare. This will be shown by a portion of a letter from
Blackwood, Edinburgh, dictated both by good feeling and delicacy.

My dear Sir,

“I am just favoured with your kind letter of April 30. I am truly sorry that our worthy friend the Shepherd does not fall within the class to which your society gives pensions. If, however, great originality and true poetical genius could have given any title, sure I am there could not be so strong a case as our friend’s for the society’s extending their patronage.

“I feel much indebted to you for your most friendly offer of moving for a draft of 50l. This, however, is a matter of some little delicacy; and though, for my own part, I think our friend would most gratefully accept a favour so delicately and honourably conferred upon him, yet I do not like to take it upon myself to say so. I intend, therefore, to consult some mutual friends here, and will write you in a few posts.”

I am tempted by a chain of ideas, linking the Scottish bards together, to insert here a letter which I am still gratified at having received from Allan Cunningham.

“Belgrave Place, 16th October.
Dear Jerdan,

“I venture to enclose you a notice of a new work of mine. I have no desire that you should abide by any words but such as you like; therefore dress it up in your own manner, if you please. Some such notice before
publication will be useful; nor would a little kindness from critics afterwards, be at all amiss. God knows, I have much need of a kind word or two, for I have been working hard up-hill these many years, and
William Jerdan and Sir Walter Scott have been almost my only friends—I acknowledge they have been good ones.

“Yours very truly,
“To Wm. Jerdan, Esq.

Ay, ay, my old, lamented friend, let inferior talent, which, but for newspaper employment, could not earn salt to its porritch by literature, prate of the dignity and productiveness of the “profession,” and of the shame to say it is precarious and often humiliated; you and I knew many a worthy candidate for its honours and wealth, who fared little better than Otway, Churchill, or Savage, and never reached the medium poverty and neglect of Milton, Dryden, or Butler.

Though I produced no less than four quarto volumes, I had almost forgotten to record my Biographical Memoirs for “Fisher’s National Portrait Gallery of Illustrious and Eminent Personages of the Nineteenth Century.” His Majesty, George IV., graciously permitted the work to be dedicated to him, and it was extremely popular. Of all species of authorship, faithful and satisfactory biography is the most difficult. The impossibility of being perfectly certain of facts is the first stumbling block; the risk of drawing right conclusions from those you are fortunate enough to obtain is the next; and the delicacy required for steering by the lamp of truth, without flattery or offence, consummates the obstacles to authentic personal history. In the case of living individuals, the responsi-
bility is increased, and the dilemmas multiplied tenfold; and though I had only twenty-four, neither small-typed nor closely printed pages to provide per month, I found the onus lie on me like a load, and would rather have written ten times as much of any other kind of literature. In short I was so uncomfortable as to be almost miserable till the monthly “job” was done. The honorarium, as some publishers “like to phrase it,” however, was liberal, and eased my uneasiness, till my engagement terminated. This event was precipitated by one of those circumstances which evince the uncertainty of literary pursuits, and though the defalcation of income was of little consequence at the time, it would have been the same had my entire subsistence depended upon it. My friends,
Lord Brougham, Charles Knight, and a glorious company of associates, set up a wholesale literary manufactory, and among other publications, of books of all sorts, maps, and fine arts, included a Portrait gallery, the plan copied from, and in direct competition with Messrs. Fishers’. Supported by subscription in aid of their grand national design for the promotion of education, taste, and general knowledge, they could afford to undersell the private speculation of my employers, especially as they merely copied old engravings which cost nothing, and could advertise them far and wide (together with the rest of their doings) at very moderate expense. With the natural, proper, and unfailing sense of “the trade,” Mr. Fisher (senior) immediately wrote to me and pointed out the hardness of his case—in which I entirely agreed with him—at the same time requesting me to reduce my allowance by one-third—in which I entirely differed from him. But it was not that the suggestion was unreasonable, but that the feeling I have described, had made me more than indifferent to the employment.
I therefore caught the opportunity to retire—counselled the worthy publisher on the course I thought he should pursue—and whether his own astuteness or my advice prompted its adoption, I believe it turned out to be not only a safe escape from a form of rivalry which ought never to be encouraged in this commercial country, but, in every branch, a very profitable concern “in variation and continuation” of my monthly labours.

In their performance many things happened which might make an amusing literary miscellany. At present, my limited space, and the end I have in my eye, forbid me to do more than adventure a sample. Let me, however, in the first place, say, that some of the memoirs are of the highest historical value. I speak not of the pains I took, or my writing, or any collateral commendatory quality; but of the intrinsic integrity of the materials and unquestionable veracity of the statements. There can be no mistake about these, and neither a future Hume, nor Hallam, nor Lingard, nor Mahon, nor Alison, nor Macaulay can depart from the facts therein contained without a sacrifice of truth to theory or party. In other respects some of the memoirs were but common-place, whilst, in a certain proportion, my very extensive intercourse with the world enabled me to enliven the usual routine articles with embellishments within my own knowledge which contributed to enhance their mediocre merit and consequent popularity. The memoirs of Percival, Huskisson, Canning, Lord Palmerston, (as far as his career had borne him then towards more important positions,) Lord Goderich (Ripon) who had passed his perihelion, yet still left much for honourable record, Lord Aberdeen to his advent at that date, and others of an official nature, are unimpeachable; and some of the more familiar kind, such as Dr. Gray,
Bishop of Bristol,
Sir George Murray, Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, written by Lord Broughton, Sir W. Scott, W. Gifford, Sir Rufane Donkin, Sir Alex. Johnstone, Thomas Campbell, &c. &c, were only not enriched to the extent I could have enriched them, had the province of biographical illumination not been now and then crossed by the shadow of a cloud. The search for “facts” was often very entertaining, and let the acute inquirer, videlicet myself, into many little secrets which I had no business to promulgate to the long-eared world. But at other times, my seeking information interested me much, and this brings me to the samples at which I have hinted. The memoir of Mr. Thomas Grenville was “done” in four pages, and having had the pleasure of meeting that most accomplished gentleman in society, I took the liberty of writing to ask him if he would take the trouble to glance over the printed “proof.” An invitation to breakfast at Stable-yard, with the paper to look over, was the result, and I enjoyed the gratification of a téte-à-téte of five or six hours with one of the most accomplished men of the age. It is impossible to tell how much you learn in such interviews—if you are fortunate enough to reach, and clever enough to put the “contents” of half a dozen of them together, I mean of persons of that “calibre,” you may set up for a sage, and be the oracle of your circle, as long as the fountains last.

Well, with Mr. Grenville, inter alia, the authorship of “Junius” was discussed, and the impression of his guarded expressions on me was, that after the death of the speaker, and certainly among the muniments at Stowe, the secret would be disclosed. He is dead, and Stowe has been ransacked, and still “Junius” is a myth.* But my own

* The authorship of Junius has again become matter of controversy in consequence of Mr. Macaulay asserting the claim of Sir Philip Francis to

business was to take us a few minutes—simply to look over the dates, &c., of four pages. I will not attempt to describe my dismay, having consulted and compared all the ordinary annual and monthly authorities, at learning, that with regard to the few particulars of his political life, and the dates throughout, the former were erroneous, and the latter, in every instance, wrong! This was indeed a sickener to a careful biographer; but a literal truth, and I had to correct the births and deaths of
George Grenville, the minister of George III., the Marquis of Buckingham, Lord Grenville, and other members of this distinguished family, and to restore my communicant to various momentous foreign missions and embassies, every one of which was perverted in the account I had, of necessity, consulted. Could I adduce a more striking proof of the difficulties that beset biographical compositions? I think Mr. Grenville was at this time between seventy and eighty; ten years after, I had occasion to write to him about some literary matter, and I received the following note, which I am proud to possess from such a man:—

Mr. Grenville’s compliments to Mr. Jerdan, and thanks

that dubious honour, and somewhat upheld by the coquetting with the question by that individual, and the mystifying reminiscences of his widow. The following amusing anecdote illustrates the topic. One summer day, at a dinner party at Holland House, the guests, among whom were Francis and Rogers, were, previous to the dinner-bell, sauntering in the open conservatory and terrace below, and in one of the promenades the Junius secret became the subject of conversation, and Lord H. suggested to the bold banker that it would be an excellent opportunity to put the interrogatory flatly to the suspected man. But Francis happened to overhear the plot; and a few minutes after as Rogers was sidling towards him, he threw himself into an attitude of violent defiance, and exclaimed, “By Heaven, sir, if you dare to ask me any questions, regardless of where we are I will fell you to the earth!” The little poet quickly enough shrank back appalled; but when playfully asked after dinner (in the absence of Francis) if he had discovered the author, replied “I cannot say whether or not Francis is Junius; but he has quite convinced me he is Brutus!”

him for sending the ‘
Literary Gazette,’ though it was already on his table, as from early years Mr. G. has always taken the ‘Literary Gazette.’ Whatever are the courtesies to which Mr. Jerdan’s note alludes, Mr. Jerdan’s lavish hand has very far exceeded any that he can have received.

“Hamilton Street, 27th December, 1842.”

The other illustration of my subject appertains to no less a personage than the celebrated Lord Chancellor Eldon. My correspondence with him (it was during the long vacation, when he was shooting in Dorsetshire) was very amusing. I sent down the printed pages, and had them back with many queries, “Where I got this, and how I had ascertained that?” True to the idiosyncrasy of the man, every minute particular was sifted, and its accuracy doubted and determined. One of the letters especially, required of me to state on what grounds I had fixed the date on which he was called to the bar. Instead of being the 15th of the month, he thought it was either the 16th or the 17th; and in order to be precise in the matter, his Lordship directed me to go to an office, which he described, in the Middle Temple, down the steps from the fountain towards the river, and turning round to the left, I should find it behind the angle of the Hall! If the information was not recorded there, I was to seek it in a locality equally well defined, in the City; and a brace of birds of the Chancellor’s own shooting (though he was but an indifferent shot), arrived with the instructions, to reward me for my trouble.

But the most characteristic trait of the whole was a correction of my account of his runaway marriage. I had penned it in all the flourishing style of a penny-a-liner, much to my own satisfaction, and, as I fancied, hardly to be surpassed even in a novel description of a love event of the sort. The
finely-poised language occupied above half a page of type—so prettily expressed, and so delicately shaded, that it seemed impossible not to admire it—but what was my feeling of affront, when the “proof” was returned with my beautiful piece of penmanship ruthlessly struck out, and on the margin the following correction written in the
Lord Chancellor’s own proper hand.

“Soon after this distinction [gaining the Chancellor’s prize at Oxford in 1781] an event took place which, by uniting him with a helpmate for ever, put fellowships and college provisions beyond his aim. Eloping with Miss Surtees, the daughter of a banker at Newcastle, to Scotland, they were married, as it has been reported, to the great displeasure of her family.”

With this morsel, the only specimen that I am aware of, of the manner in which a really great and distinguished man would write his autobiography, and a model which I wish I could have more closely copied, I bid adieu to my memoranda touching “Fisher’s National Portrait Gallery.”