LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH

When we read his satire we fancy him right in the name of T. Moore, (Timour) the Tartar; but when we come to hear his love ditties, his name changes into A. Moore (Amour).—Private.

All chance direction which thou canst not see.—Pope.

I remember being invited by a very ingenious mechanic to inspect a machine he had invented, to equal, if not supersede, chronometers, for the measurement of time; and who set out in his explanation—“You see, Sir, the first movement is to mark every one or two hours hourly!” upon which
“I took up my hat and I walked away,”
But, on reflection, I was sorry I had been so precipitate, as I confessed he must, indeed, be a clever fellow who could manage to get the business of two hours into one, and the thought has recurred to me with triple force since I have been employed in writing this desultory, yet time-consuming and laborious work, and found it delayed far beyond the
T. MOORE.105
date at which I owed it to my publishers and the public. L’homme propose, mais Dieu dispose; though arrogantly denied by the first
Napoleon on that invasion of Russia, which first led to his downfall (Je dis, he replied to the apothegm of the Russian ambassador, c’est moi qui propose, et cest moi aussi qui dispose) is, in my belief, a great truth, and I am equally convinced that with regard to mental operations, though one man may take a horse to the water, a hundred cannot make him drink. At least, so it has been with me in my attempts to proceed with this volume, and I only hope it may not bear too many and too perceptible indications of the invita Minerva.

From the beginning of his career, or rather the portion of it contemporaneous with the “Literary Gazette,” the social qualities of Moore, independently of his genius, made him ever a favourite in its pages. It felt for his misfortunes and rejoiced in his successes, with only an occasional protest against some of his personalities and opinions.

Quid sen tire putas omnes, Calvine, recenti
De scelere.
Yes, Moore, the debt of sympathy is paid
To worth deceived, and artless faith betrayed;
And still we hope, for thee and us remain,
Mines of the fancy, ingots of the brain;
Whilst safe from cockpit law the Muses guard
The wealth, already funded (1819), of the bard.
How few, like Moore, can see without dismay,
Their worldly stock to alien hands a prey!

Yet with all my admiration and regard I could not bestow any praise upon the first life of Sheridan, ascribed to him whilst living abroad, and upon which he bestowed about as much pains as his noble Editor has bestowed upon his
Remains: a sort of even-handed justice, yet, in a literary point of view, much to be regretted. “The Loves of the Angels,” however, restored all to rights, and its sparkling brilliancy and breathing beauty were duly acknowledged; though it was critically observed that its exquisite touches of nature had occasionally their foils in fictitious sentiment, and the dazzling force of its happy imagery was sometimes attenuated into the ingenious trifling of fanciful conceit. And, finally, when the genuine “Life of Sheridan” appeared with his (Moore’s) name, due justice was paid to that unequal, but interesting and popular publication. Poor Sheridan! who thought a man might surely be permitted to take “a glass of wine by his own fireside,” as he remarked, enjoying that consolation at the Piazza Coffee-house, whilst the adjacent Drury Lane Theatre was burning. Moore in conversation abounded in lively anecdote, rather than in original wit or humour, as his biography exemplifies in many an instance, and recalls others to my memory, of which I may hereafter make some use. At present, I shall only allude to the whimsical story of Lord Muskerry, on his deathbed, saying:—“I have nothing to reproach myself with, for I never in my life denied myself anything;” on account of its being, as I thought, “capped” at the time, by a similar tale of an unfortunate Manchester manufacturer, who had not stinted himself in any sensual indulgence, till he fell into circumstances which ‘eventuated’ a meeting of his creditors. At this the poor fellow was sadly bothered by pestering inquiries and disagreeable questions, which produced that intestine effect of a guttural noise, known by the name of a grumbling. No change of position could stop the unpleasant phenomenon, when in the midst of other unpleasant queries, the sufferer struck his hand violently against his
stomach, exclaiming—“Domm thee, hold thy tongue! thou can’st not say that ever I wronged thee of ought in my life!”

Till the melancholy period at which Moore’s fine faculties gave way, I maintained a constant friendly intercourse with him. When he came to town and occupied his lodgings in Duke-street, St. James’s, I was among the foremost summoned to his levee; and during his stay, many of our pleasant engagements were enjoyed in unison. Among more serious circumstances I cannot forget accompanying him and his inestimable wife, though so slightingly treated in his Memoirs, to see their son off for India. Both parents were extremely affected, and Mrs. Moore in particular seemed to have a presentiment of the fatal issue, for she wept even more abundantly than a fond mother does on parting with her child.

But one of my most interesting congresses with Moore, occurred during a week’s stay with Mr. Bowles at his delightful residence, Bremhill. Bremhill itself, with its charities and ceaseless devotion to the wants, spiritual and temporal, of the poor, and education of youth, its poetic tastes and cordial feelings within, and its sweet aspects in the landscape without, was truly a serene and delicious retreat from the turmoils of London; and its attractions were greatly enhanced by the proximity to Moore at his cottage of Slopperton, and to the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne at their Palace of Bowood; with whom a close and neighbourly intercourse was continually introducing fresh pleasures to the harmony that prevailed. I mention Lady Lansdowne in order to pay a tribute to her benevolence in “scattering bliss around.” By her position enabled to do so, her Ladyship exceeded the good Mrs. Bowles in her philanthropic devotedness to
assure the comforts and welfare of all who lived within the sphere of her wide influence.

I shall not, however, dwell longer upon the recollection of joyous hours spent in the society of Moore; the last bright spot I shall notice was in the Castle of Dublin, where, after a sumptuous entertainment by the Lord Lieutenant, the Marquess of Normanby, a whole evening was charmed into midnight by an assemblage of the beauties of Ireland, to be enchanted by the melodies of Moore.

From Moore I will pass to another distinguished literary and personal friend whom I lost at the time on which I am now engaged—William Gifford, with whom I was made acquainted by Mr. Canning, which led to a confidential intimacy that lasted to the day of his death—my latest mornings passed with him being at Ramsgate, immediately preceding the close of his stirring career—and Mr. Canning survived him only a few months. Under his auspices I contributed to the “Quarterly Review,” and on one occasion bestowed great research and labour upon what was intended for the leading article, several sheets in length, but an event occurred upon the meeting of Parliament which rendered all my painstaking nugatory as far as publicity was concerned, though I was handsomely remunerated for my stifled manuscript.

The subjoined note will show outside barbarians in what manner such things are done under able editors:—

“James Street, Nov. 22.
Dear Sir,

“I had proposed to myself the pleasure of calling on you, but the fear of increasing a cold which is perpetually before me, delayed me from day to day.

“The present number is, as you have probably seen,
printed, and nearly ready for publication; but I am extremely desirous of meeting Parliament, at its opening, with the succeeding one, which must have something of a political tendency. I shall, therefore, be happy to hear from you at your earliest opportunity; for as we have but two months before us to get nearly a world of matter, not an instant should be lost.

“I am well convinced that you must have taken no ordinary pains, and am truly sorry that you have experienced any interruption from illness. Kemp and I, indeed, are but too well acquainted, but what business have you, young and strong, with such an impertinent visitant?

“I shall hope to hear from you as soon as your leisure will admit; and am, dear Sir,

“Yours very truly,
W. Jerdan, Esq.”
“James Street, May 6th.
Dear Sir,

“The little paper headed Pindarees is a verbal copy of Official Communications from the East Indies. Since it was printed, a notice has been given in the House of a motion for papers on the subject; this, of course, renders it improper, and indeed impossible to give them in their present form. Will you have the goodness to take the substance of them, and, with the assistance of the publication herewith transmitted, mould them up into a little article of eight or ten pages for the present number? You will find the account of the Pindarees at p. 118, and there is just enough to make an amusing and interesting paper at the present moment. I shall be glad if your leisure will allow you to oblige me in this. As for the rest
of the book, it may be dismissed in two lines, as neither of much novelty or much account. I have an excellent article on the formation of an Indian army, and some little account of these marauders will complete it.

“Your other article is not at present in my hands. I need not say more at present on this head, but I hope to give it in this number. Circumstances have made some curtailments necessary, but on this subject you shall hear from me again,

“Ever, dear Sir, faithfully yours,
W. Jerdan, Esq.

I revert to an early period of Mr. Gifford’s life, because I am in possession of what I believe to be some very interesting memorials of it, and juvenile examples of his poetic talents unknown to his biographer and the public. In the Preface to his Juvenal, published by (J. and W. Nicol and R. Evans, 1802, he says:—

“Hitherto I had not so much as dreamed of poetry: indeed, I scarce knew it by name; and, whatever may be said of the force of nature, I certainly never ‘lisped in numbers.’ I recollect the occasion of my first attempt. It is, like all the rest of my non-adventures, of so unimportant a nature, that I should blush to call the attention of the idlest reader to it, but for the reason alleged in the introductory paragraph (the delay in the publication of his Juvenal). A person, whose name escapes me, had undertaken to paint a sign for an ale-house: it was to be a lion; but the unfortunate artist produced a dog. On this awkward affair one of my acquaintances wrote a copy of what we call verse: I liked it, but fancied I could compose something more to the purpose: I tried; and by the unanimous
suffrage of my shop-mates, was allowed to have succeeded. Notwithstanding this encouragement, I thought no more of verse, till another occurrence, as trifling as the former, furnished me with a fresh subject: and so I went on till I had got together about a dozen of them. Certainly nothing on earth was ever so deplorable: such as they were, however, they were talked of in my little circle, and I was sometimes invited to repeat them, even out of it. I never committed a line to paper, for two reasons: first, because I had no paper; and, secondly——perhaps I might be excused from going farther; but, in truth, I was afraid, for my master had already threatened me, for inadvertently hitching the name of one of his customers into a rhyme. . . . . . . . . . I was found in the twentieth year of my age by
Mr. William Cookesley, a name ever to be pronounced by me with veneration. The lamentable doggrel which I have already mentioned, and which had passed from mouth to mouth among people of my own degree, had, by some accident or other, reached his ear, and given him a curiosity to enquire after the author . . . . . but nothing could slacken the zeal of this excellent man; he procured a few of my poor attempts at rhyme, dispersed them amongst his friends and acquaintances, and when my name was becoming somewhat familiar to them, set on foot a subscription for my relief. I still preserve the original paper; its title was not very magnificent, though it exceeded the most sanguine wishes of my heart; it ran thus: ‘A subscription for purchasing the remainder of the time of William Gifford, and for enabling him to improve himself in Writing and English Grammar.’”

Some time after Mr. Gifford’s death, a resident in his native town of Ashburton intimated to me that he had been enabled to make a collection of the youthful effusions thus
characterised by their author; and, after some correspondence, I became their possessor, through the medium of
Howe, a bookseller of Exeter. They are now on my table, and, together with the well-known and dire denunciation of Peter Pindar, and several other compositions, of the authenticity of which I am not assured, include the identical lines on the ale-house sign, though the memory of the writer had misled him as to the subject. As this production of so distinguished a man must be considered a literary curiosity, I have much pleasure in presenting it to my reader, and also four other original poems, coming within the same category, which I cannot discover to have ever been printed, the present Mr. John Murray writing to me that he has no information on the subject. The genuineness of the five I have deemed worthy of preservation was vouched by three old inhabitants of Ashburton, and early friends of their writer. I commence with—
as specially acknowledged by him.

Two strangers through the town were walking,
Of this and that at leisure talking—
Till, half their journey o’er,
One of them for a moment stood,
And, fill’d with most amazement, view’d
The sign at Taprell’s* door.
“Dear sir,” said he, “I lately heard,
(And much the dismal tale I fear’d,)
That painting was declining:
But was mistaken, I believe;
And for my comfort I perceive
There’s no such need of whining.

* An innkeeper, who had for his sign “The Rose and Crown,” very rudely drawn.

“For proof of this, lift up your eyes,
And with agreeable surprise,
Confess yourself convicted;
For such the beauty of these lines,
Where so much skill and beauty shines,
It can’t be contradicted.
“Here Rubens, Teniers, Steen and Stella,
Mast own themselves outdone.
Their feeble efforts can no more
Compare with this than dross with ore,
Or Luna with the sun.”
Came by a man: “Friend, tell us, do,
This famous painter’s name that drew
‘The Rose and Crown’ so noble.”
He bow’d: “Then hark ye, gentlemen,
If I must tell you flat and plain,
’Twas done by Daniel Dobell!
“A greater wonder I’ve to tell;
Daniel, though he can paint so well,
A carpenter by trade is:
Many a hog’s stye hath he rear’d;
And he can make, as I have heard,
New limbs for jointed babies.”
O, Daniel, for a moment lend
Thine car to an officious friend—
Who, if he might, would choose
A subject for thy second piece
Unknown to Rome or ancient Greece,—
Then pray attend the muse.
With shades and lines—long, short, big, small,
Display the beggar’d prodigal,
A-feeding with the hogs:
If that wont do, then—(let me see)—
Why let thy second painting be
Daniel amid the dogs.
First for thy pallet I advise
That thou dost make (’twill well suffice)
Thy drawing-board of deal;
Then, secondly, thy glue-brush take—
’Twill a most noble pencil make,
By lessening of its tail.
Thy glue-pot to a paint-pot change,—
Nor think the metamorphis strange,—
And when that thou hast done it,
Suppose thy leather apron gay
To be a piece of canvass grey,
And draw thy portrait on it.
Let Taprell have our praises too;
To him our thanks are justly due,
For raising from the ground
Where he obscurely grovelling lay,
And bringing to the face of day
A genius so profound.
Hail! Daniel hail! of parts sublime,—
And do not spend thy precious time
In shoving saw and plane:
Throw those vile, cramping tools away;
Commence a painter—and we’ll say
That Raphael lives again!

The next example is an epitaph, in which will be recognised the dreadful vigour which belonged to Gifford throughout his literary career:—

Where ragged nettles mark the rising ground,
And pois’nous night-shade breathes infection round,
Bill Brazen rots. In the good patriarch’s phrase,
“Evil and few were his unhallow’d days:”
Yet in these few and evil the rank knave
Choused of a head-stone his poor father’s grave;
Abused his mother; grudged his children bread,
And coffin’d them in wig boxes when dead;
Bullied his sister; kicked his wife to th’ door;
Belied the parish books, and starved the poor.
Till grown too bad for this bad town, kind Heaven
Suffer’d the miscreant westward to be driven;
Where three long years in solitary state
He dragg’d the drunken hours through scorn and hate;
Till as he lay one night devoid of rest,
And conscience woke the worm within his breast,
A wint’ry blast, with hoarse, tremendous roar,
Rush’d through the gallery, burst the faithless door,
Approach’d him, touch’d—“Christ Jesus! save,” he cried,
“A wretch! a hateful wretch!"—shook, groan’d, and died.
Now buried here, the scorn that dogg’d his way
Through life, still scents, and opens on his clay.
* * * * * *
Stranger! this scene demands an awful pause:
A vicious world takes arms in virtue’s cause:
Vice cowers beneath the shame she boasts to brave,
And finds chastisement on this side the grave.

The chief interest of what follows is its indication of Gifford’s early attention to the stage; the seed-corn of the future editor of Massinger, Jonson, Ford, and Shirley.


[It was a custom with Gifford and some youthful associates to act plays at which persons were admitted gratis. On one occasion, just before the play was to begin, a person proposed writing a prologue; on which Gifford, without any hesitation, quickly scribbled out one, of which the following lines are apart:—]

No Garrick here majestic treads the stage;
No Quin, your whole attention to engage;
No practised actors here the scene employs,
But a small number of raw girls and boys.
As when some peasant, who, to treat his lord,
Brings out his little stock and decks his board
With what his ill-stored cupboard will afford,
With awkward bows, and ill-placed rustic airs,
To make excuses for his feast prepares,
So here I stand, all trembling in your sight,
Come to behold the audience of to-night;
And, conscious of its meanness, hardly dare
To bid you welcome to our homely fare.
Would you, ye fair ones, in our cause appear,
Your looks would silence every critic here;
If you but smile, ’twill cheer our tim’rous hearts,
And give us courage to perform our parts.
Since then to please you has been all our care,
Bear kindly with us, and attentive hear.

Another epitaph suggests a reminiscence of Burns.

‘Within the chambers of this tomb
Is laid, alas! poor Johnny Coomb.
Ye sons of Momus seek his bier,
There drop the tributary tear;
And mourn his fate, deprived of breath
By the deceitful wiles of Death.
Long had our hero mock’d his art,
And laugh’d to scorn his conqu’ring dart;
But Death, who for his conquest burn’d,
Resolved to leave no stone unturn’d.
John got himself a suit of clothes—
Coat, waistcoat, breeches, shoes, and hose;
And, as he knew his jaws were thin,
Tied down his hat beneath his chin.
Thus furnish’d out from top to toe,
Like any other country beau,
He came to town—his station chose—
And lay at ambush at “The Rose.”*
Have you not seen a spider fell
Rush rapid from his gloomy cell,
To seize some wretch, and then convey
Back to his den the trembling prey?
So Death ran out, and cross’d the street,
The object of his hate to meet.
“And what dost sell, old friend?” he cried;
“Why, nuts, my master,” John replied;
“Up with your copper, and I’ll call—
’Tis but a-ha’penny, hap how’t shall.”
Death says—“Well, friend, I’ll try my luck;”
And straightway out a ha’penny took.

* A public house.

“Now, tell me, Johnny, what you’ll call;”
“Why I’ll heads for’t, hap how’t shall.”
Then Death aloft the ha’penny threw;
And John, who kept it still in view,
And looking down with aspect sad,
Cried out—“’Tis tail, I vow to Gad.”
Death, who his every motion watch’d,
Now saw his time, and out he snatch’d
From underneath his coat a dart,
And stabb’d poor Johnny to the heart.

The last example exhibits the stern critic in the soft bands of love, as witnessed by a

Thou, to whose shrine I bow; at whose command,
(Though low my reed and artless be my hand,)
I take the rural pipe and sing and play,
Regardless what the senseless world may say.
Though mean’s the bard, I’m bid by Love to write,
And this shall plead for what I now indite.
Love reigns the mighty monarch of the mind,
Knows no superior, by no laws confined—.
But triumphs still without the least control
O’er all the grand endowments of the soul.
Believe the muse! the flame, no more supprest
Glows with unusual ardour in my breast;
Thy dear idea fills my every thought,
Nor e’en in slumber is thy name forgot:
Thy charms are ever present to my view;
Whate’er I do or say, I think on you.
When balmy sleep seals up these wearied eyes,
And Fancy bids her images arise,
I fondly clasp thee in my longing arms,
And gaze transported on thy matchless charms:
So pleased with this illusion do I seem,
I wake but grieved to find it all a dream.
Since you, and you alone, are all my care,
Accept these lines—the fairest of the fair!

The other poems, which I have rejected as spurious or doubtful, possess striking thoughts and passages of verse,
and in some cases illustrate
Wordsworth’s theory of the child being father of the man. Thus, the “Man of Reform” is a germ quite germane to the mature editor of the “Anti-Jacobin” and the “Quarterly Review.” The others claim no particular notice, but I add their titles, as it is possible some of my readers may be able to identify them as his, or appropriate them to their proper authors. They are “The Maniac,” “On Happiness,” “What is Love?” “The Murder,” in poetic prose, “The Harlot,” “Henry’s Letter to Emma,” “To Joy,” and “The Chieftain’s Funeral.” To these poetic effusions I will only add a prose letter which I received at Hastings, and which I am anxious to preserve in my biography, because it speaks of a dear friend of mine, Mr. Walter Henry Watts, so long and much respected by every member of the periodical press, (inasmuch as they proposed to erect a monument to his memory by subscription, in Kensington Churchyard, which some want of energy prevented being done,) an accomplished artist, an able and ingenuous critic on the arts, a fair litterateur, though not aiming at important works, and my loved and honoured colleague in the “Gazette” for many a year.

“Sept. 22nd; Guns now firing.
My dear Sir,

“I called at Murray’s this morning, and found your kind letter there, with which I was not a little pleased.

“I am glad you find Hastings so restorative. Ryde, to which I went, did nothing for me, for I returned to town in a feebler state than I left it. Since that, however, I have picked up a degree of strength very unusual with me, and am, indeed, better than I have been for a considerable time.

“I saw a friend of yours last evening, of whom I think very favourably indeed, Mr. Watts, the miniature-painter.
I owe his acquaintance to Mr. Wright. I have seldom seen a more modest and amiable man. He was glad to hear of you.

“In the hope of seeing you from day to day, I delayed thanking you for a little volume of poetry. It was far, indeed, above the common stamp, and augurs well of the genius and talents of the young writer. His style is spirited and picturesque. I would recommend to him the perusal of my old acquaintance, Massinger, that will add sweetness and rhythmical powers to the verse that wants nothing else to be paramountly excellent.

“And now to business. I rejoice most at Mr. C.’s conversation with you, and shall feel extremely obliged to you, if you will immediately undertake the whole. I can add nothing to your plan, which embraces the topics most material to our purpose. Mr. Canning talked over the subject with me, and I understood that it was his wish you should undertake it. Unfortunately, my illness rendered me unable to see any person for some time, and when he left England he was so hurried, that though he sent Backhouse to say that he would call upon me, he could not find leisure. I heard not, therefore, what he had done.

“I am sorry to say, that I cannot find your proof. In my chaos nothing is where it should be. I hope, however, to procure a copy, and have desired Murray to examine our printer’s treasury, their papers are sometimes laid up for a long period. I hope, however, that you will be enabled to commence without it, and in the interim, every exertion shall be made to recover it. With great regard,

“I am, dear Sir,
“Faithfully yours,

Mr. Watts was the writer and editor of the “Annual Biography and Obituary,” 15 vols. 1817—1831; a replication to parts of Shee’sRhymes on Art,” and other publications, to few if any of which he appended his name; and so, an individual much respected in his day, and the author of a great deal that was very useful and beneficial to the public, passed away with hardly a mention in a catalogue, to tell that he ever existed, or improved mankind. Yet had he most of the throes and gratifications of authorship, though the Anonymous saved him from some of the former, and robbed him of some of the latter. The pleasure of seeing oneself in print, only to be estimated by those who have glozed over the type—of seeing one’s mental self in everlasting reflection, whilst one’s bodily self can only be contemplated for a few minutes in a pond, or a mirror—of having proof sheets, equal in interest to love letters—of being reviewed flatteringly, indifferently, or abusively, each conveying a degree of consequence and satisfaction, the first for the delight in its praise, the second for the superiority felt in looking down on mediocre intelligence, and the last for the luxury of complaint and the demonstration of abominably bad usage. In good humour, therefore, let me again put myself right by averring that I never meant to portray myself as a victim to literary pursuits, nor to paint the profession of literature in the darkest colours, or rather shades of distemper; though I might quote curious authorities, half in jest and half in earnest to the point, for Moliere has written:—

Pégase est un cheval
Qui mene lea grands hommes à l’hôpital.


Hard is the fate on whom the public gaze
Is fix’d for ever to detract or praise;
Repose denies her requiem to his name,
And Folly loves the martyrdom of Fame.

And Moore:—

In the woods of the north there are insects that prey
On the brains of the elk to his very last sigh:
Oh, Genius! thy patrons more cruel than they,
First feed on thy brains, and then leave thee to die.

And Campbell, who beat all hollow in his peculiar diatribe against publishers, by toasting Buonaparte, as a benefactor of his species, because he had hanged a bookseller.

But to return to my still lamented friend. I beg leave to copy a very strange story relative to him, which was inserted in the “Mirror” some ten years ago, and the truth of which I can corroborate from alarming communications made to me at the time by Mr. Watts, of which A. and B. (our mutual friends, Mr. Gaspey and Mr. Mudford) were ignorant, as I was of their almost fatal pleasantry.

The relation runs thus:—


Mr. W. H. W., a gentleman connected with the fine arts, and long known as a member of the London press, died last year. He had through life borne a high character, and was remarkable for the general urbanity of his manners and his benevolence. In society he appeared mirthful or serene; but there were moments when he was strangely disturbed, and mournful recollections seemed to overwhelm him with something more than grief. At times he would start in great agitation, affected by a simple expression which had touched a chord that fearfully vibrated through his whole
frame. He remained single, but was said to have experienced a disappointment in an affair of the heart, early in life, which had driven him to the verge of madness. On one occasion, walking with a friend in London, they met an individual on whom Mr. W. gazed stedfastly, but did not speak to him. They passed, and he then exclaimed, “That is a scoundrel; he got for his wife the woman I ought to have married.”

What it was that at times disturbed him, it is not in the power of the writer to reveal. Though intimate with him for years, no explanation was ever volunteered. His liberal nature and unimpeachable integrity, as they gained him the affectionate regards of a large circle of friends, might have been expected to secure him from the hostility of every one. But that he had enemies, bitter and most terrible enemies, the following narrative, committed to paper, immediately after the circumstance and conversation it describes, will clearly demonstrate.

On Thursday, Dec. 21, 1821, A. and B., who had long been on friendly terms with Mr. W., went to dine at the Burton Ale-house, in Henrietta-street. While there they recollected that Mr. W. lived in the neighbourhood (he then lodged, I think, in Southampton (Bedford) street), and thought he would like to join them. They sent a waiter to invite him to do so. Mr. W. had visited Macclesfield a short time before, and to cause him some ludicrous surprise, as well as to make him come more speedily, they ordered the man to say that two gentlemen from Macclesfield desired to see him. The waiter went, but returned with the answer that Mr. W. was out for the evening. On leaving the tavern, the companions resolved, as he was to dine in company with them on the following Monday, to play off a further joke on their friend. They called at his
residence, and finding that he was still from home, left a message for him, that two gentlemen from Macclesfield had called to see him, and would do themselves the pleasure of waiting on him again, at seven o’clock on the evening of Monday. They expected that this would cause him to leave the party with whom he was to dine, at the hour named, and they proposed to drink his health in his absence, and then send a servant after him, with ‘a note to state what had been done, and to announce that the two gentlemen from Macclefield awaited his return to thank them for the honour they had conferred.

Monday came, the party dined together, and Mr. W. was present, but did not withdraw, as A. and B., or A. at least, thought he would. In the course of the evening, B. spoke to Mr. W. about Macclesfield, but nothing remarkable occurred till the party had nearly left the dining-room, and A. and B. found themselves alone. It was then that B. told A. he had a most extraordinary communication to make respecting Mr. W. They were, however, interrupted, and no opportunity offered for making it that evening, but on the following Thursday they again met, and B. gave the following statement:—

“The revelation I have to offer will cause you great surprise. On the day after we called on W., and left word that two gentlemen from Macclesfield would wait on him again, I received a note from him couched in these terms:—

“‘Dear B.,—For God’s sake let me have a quarter of an hour’s conversation with you, at your own house before you go to dinner, on a matter of VITAL importance to me. Your half distracted,

“‘W. H. W.

“‘P.S. Pray mention this to no human being.’


“The word ‘vital,’ B. continued, had three lines drawn under it. I confess I thought that he had detected us, and was playing off a counter-trick. I, however, returned the following answer:—

“‘Dear W.—I am afraid to flatter myself that you jest in your otherwise alarming letter.

“‘You will find me at home at four o’clock. Yours,


“I almost expected, when I went home, to find him laughing and dancing in the drawing-room; but on looking at him I found he was much disturbed. He spoke with a faltering voice, and altogether his aspect indicated the severest distress. ‘How can I,’ he exclaimed, ‘how can I tell you what I have to say?’ After some pause he proceeded:—

“‘I am reduced to such a situation that I have no alternative but to put an end to my existence or to leave the country. Can you, and will you, assist me with the means of doing the latter?’ I told him that I knew he was accustomed to view some things in a very peculiar light, and begged of him to impart what he had on his mind to some of his friends, with the expectation that they would convince him that neither of the steps which he contemplated were necessary. This he declared it was useless to do. His case was one in which argument could be of no avail. He said he must quit the country, though the idea of leaving his connexions in England gave him great pain. I endeavoured to draw from him his secret, that I might advise him upon it, but in vain. He begged of me to ask no questions, and declared that he would answer none, but demanded of me whether I
could and would enable him to go abroad? I, at least said, ‘I can and I will, if it be necessary.’

“I then made a new attempt to draw from him the cause of his distress, but to no purpose. Suddenly a thought flashed across my mind that there might be some connection between his present conduct and our prank of Thursday. I was about to leave the apartment to procure the cash he wanted, but I now paused, and fixing my eyes steadily on him, said:

“‘Before I comply with your request I have one question to ask.’

“‘I will answer none,’ was his reply.

“Upon this I placed my back against the door, and retorted on him in a peremptory tone—

“‘You must not leave this room till you have given an answer to one question.’

“He seemed struck by the determination of my manner, and, after some hesitation, desired to know on what subject I wished to interrogate him.

“‘Tell me,’ said I, ‘if that which disturbs you was communicated to you yesterday?’

“‘It was,’ he replied.

“‘Did you hear of it before you went home at night?’

“He wildly asked—‘Why do you ask—why, why? No, it was not told to me before I went home at bed-time.’

“I now,” continued B., “felt convinced of that which before I had, I know not why, suspected, and I went on to say—‘W., you must yet answer me a third question:—Does that which has moved you arise out of anything that you were told about two gentlemen from Macclesfield?’

“On being thus addressed, he ran up to me with an air of wildness not to be described, seized my coat, and impetuously exclaimed—


“Good God! what do you mean? Yes it was!” I then told him to be calm; and added, ‘it was I and was and A. called, and by way of a joke left that message.’ He looked greatly amazed; a crowd of thoughts seemed running through his mind, and being scarcely able to stand, he threw himself on the sofa in great disorder, completely overcome by his feelings, and remained for some time incapable of speech. What he could have imagined, or what may be the cause of conduct so extraordinary, I cannot guess. In the course of our conversation he assured me, in the most positive manner, that he was not leaving the country in consequence of anything that could be thought dishonourable; and that he was not flying from the officers of justice, or seeking to avoid danger of that sort. How singular the accident! Had he applied to any one else, excited as he was, he might have carried his point without being questioned, and have been, through a joke, an exile from his country for life. No person in existence but yourself could have prevented his flight by supplying the requisite information, and it might not have occurred to you to put those questions which I happened to ask.”

The writer knew Mr. W. for many years subsequently, but no explanation of this strange affair was ever given. Beyond the annoyance of the moment, he is not aware that Mr. W. in any way suffered through it, but consequences more serious than those which seemed likely to grow out of it have seldom been seen in real life as the result of what was meant to be a perfectly friendly and harmless joke. It was thought prudent never to make the incident a topic of conversation. Silence has been observed for more than twenty years, but the grave having closed over the lamented individual, whom it concerned, the incident is no longer deemed a secret.


Such was the extraordinary tale, and as it must at least be considered as a case of remarkable coincidence, I need not hesitate, in these days of mesmerism, clairvoyance, table-moving, and supernatural intercourse through Rappers, like so many Witches of Endor or practisers on the credulity of Marshal Saxe, to confess an overweening predilection for the occult science of Co-in-cidence.

Suppose I relate a few recent instances as told to me, to close this miscellaneous chapter; and I hope I do not transgress the bounds of privacy in doing so.

Lord A. F— happened to drop into Coutts’s with his friend Mr. W—, who wanted to draw some money, for which purpose he got a cheque from the cashier, and filled it up for 200l.; on receiving which, he observed that he had something to say to one of the partners, and excused himself for running into an inner room a few minutes for the purpose. Lord A., left standing by the counter, noticed laughingly, “Well, it is a very pleasant thing to be able to walk in, and get helped to 200l. in that way.” “If your lordship wishes to draw,” replied the cashier, “I will hand you a cheque.” “Oh, yes; but as I do not keep an account here, that would be of very little use,” said my lord; and the conversation went on as his lordship thought jocularly. “I beg your lordship’s pardon, but I shall be very happy to cash it.” “But I tell you I have no money in the bank, and never had any at Messrs. Coutts.” “Your lordship is mistaken; there is a larger sum than that standing in our books in your name,” and consulting a large ledger, he pointed out the entry. It turned out that his royal father had vested certain amounts for the younger branches of his family, and had somehow forgotten to mention the circumstance; and so there it
might have lain for a long time, as it is a rule of the house never to announce monies paid in, but for this curious coincidence!

The same noble lord, whilst up the country at the Cape, was suddenly summoned to his ship, in consequence of the breaking out of some mutinous insubordination, and hastily getting on horseback, galloped towards the shore, where his boat was waiting him. On his course he arrived at a barrier where there was toll to pay, and found that in his haste he had forgotten his purse. He explained to the keeper, who was, however, reluctant to pass even a captain of the British navy without his fee, till, at last, Lord A. stated his name. “Oh, then,” said the fellow, “you are most welcome to proceed; for your brother took me with the rest of the Cato-street conspiracy, and it was only through his goodness that I obtained mercy, and was permitted to come out here, where I was put to this employment.”

My third anecdote tells of a visit to inspect Bethlem Hospital, where his lordship was pertinaciously asked for his name by a female patient, and, to avoid farther trouble, gave that of Mr. Jones. Some time after he again went with some friends, and was speedily encountered by his former interrogator; but this time it was in a different tone. “You did not,” said she, “conduct yourself like a gentleman to me when you were last here. I am not always so bad, but I know what’s what; and it was very improper in you to give me a false name. No, no, I knew you were no Mr. Jones, but (taking a shilling) your likeness to that showed me at once who you were. And now, sir, though I am shut up here as mad, you may give my compliments to your father, and tell him that the day he signed the Reform Act he was much madder than I am.”