LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 8: My Own Life

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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Painting is welcome!—Shakspere.
May pure contents
For ever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these meads, these rocks, these mountains,
And peace still slumber by these purling fountains,
Which we may every year
Find when we come a-fishing here.—Raleigh.

I am writing my own life, and nobody else’s. There’s a fine sentence for a critic to carp at.

It was a busy life, and shaped now and henceforward by three dominant influences. There was the ceaseless demand for literary labour and activity—a labour, indeed, of love, and cherished by high popular favour and the wider extension of the friendly circle, whose esteem and approbation gilded every exertion, and made the roughest struggles comparatively smooth. There was also the strong appetite for enjoyments, intellectual and social, which my position gratified to the utmost that could be desired as congenial to my nature. Pleasure was truly to me a pleasant thing, and I spared it not, whilst I prized more and more the means by
which it was made so abundantly attainable. And there was the broad stimulus to work which rested on the great fact that existence depended upon it; so that I might briefly sum up flattery, gratification, and necessity; or success, temperament, and accident, as having shaped all I did, and have done and undone through the whole of the tangled web of my being. I should find it difficult to tell whether I entered with greater gusto into the daily tasks or the daily goods which the gods so liberally provided. It was a mingled yarn, but had a full and fair proportion of gold and silver tissue spun in with the coarser threads and drugget material. My inborn good nature also served much to smooth the rugged places and border the way with flowers; and if it exposed me to considerable imposition from the one sex, it struck a tolerable balance by inducing that courtesy and attention which finds favour with the other, and is, perhaps, more than high qualities, calculated to sweeten life and make the world jog on agreeably.

Not but that, ever and anon, grave afflictions fell like shadows on my path, and lesser troubles chequered it. The hurry and variety of my occupation reduced the latter to very insignificant proportions, and in the flying course of time modified the deepest impressions of the former; but for a season the natural intensity of my feelings claimed full sway, and none ever mourned the death of friends and those I loved, more bitterly than I. It may have been remarked by many that there seems to be periods of fatality in the loss of those who are dear to us; as in the epochs of the falling stars, a series of our brilliant lights are extinguished and our firmament robbed of its beauty and lustre for ever. Almost contemporaneously, besides much esteemed companions, such as Miss Benger and Dr. Kitchener, I had the misfortune to lose my elder brother, Gilbert, and my most
valued friend,
Lord de Tabley, and the object of my almost idolatry, George Canning.

Poor Gilbert (see vol. i.), one of the smartest of boys! After the same, course of common school education as my own, he had not the happy chance to fall in ‘with a Dr. Rutherford, but finished it as a Glasgow weaver; thence took a fancy to being a plumber, was always unlucky, and died prematurely, having suffered long from the malady which is common to individuals who work with lung-poisoning lead. He was a gay, spirited, kind-hearted fellow; prompt at every playful frolic, and ready to take his own part cleverly, or get his comrades dexterously out of any little scrape that might ensue. Poor Gilbert, he had been somewhat of a drain upon me when I could, and when I could not, afford it;* but I laid him in his grave in Greyfriars Churchyard with deep sorrow, and for many a long day lamented the absence from my circle of a cheerful, fondly-attached, and affectionate brother.†

Even now, when I look back on the intimacy with which the accomplished Lord de Tabley honoured me, brightened

* Witness, a mem. 17th April, 1826, for 80l. “till we settle,” but which was settled by the most relentless of all creditors.

† One of his last letters to me showed the enjoyment of the ludicrous triumphing over exhausting pain and approaching death. After describing the sorrows of the preceding long night, he gaily asks, “Dear Willy, do you remember the story of Willy Hawick and the Duke?” (See my first volume. Hawick was the “Natural” or imbecile from whom Scott drew his character, and the Duke was the famed John Ker, the “Book Duke” of Roxburghe.) Hawick had found his way, on a fine Sunday afternoon, into the plantation around Fleurs, the beautiful palace of his Grace, and had just broken off the branch of a tree when the Duke, happening to stroll in the same direction, came face to face with the trespasser. “What are you doing there, sir?” cried his Grace; and at the moment the dinnerbell rang out from Fleurs. Willy heard the sound and not the question (or if he did the cunning of idiotcy did not heed it), and, hitting at the Duke with his sapling, he exclaimed, “There’s the bell for Kirk, gang to it, ye dam scunrel, what are ye doing here, the Lord’s day?” I need hardly add that his Grace lost no time in making his escape from the idiotic assailant.

by the genial smile of his lovely
partner—lovelier than the painter’s art could represent her in the exquisite portrait as Hope by Sir T. Lawrence—and continued to this hour by his no less accomplished son, the present bearer of his title, and inheritor of his refined taste* and princely generosity; for it was not only in his patronage of the English school of Fine Arts, but in every act and circumstance, that Sir John Leicester displayed the munificence of a prince—even now, I repeat, when I look back on those happy days, I experience a renewal of the grief with which they close upon the head and chief source whence they emanated.

From the time my genuine admiration of Sir John Leicester’s patronage of native art, towards the promotion of which he opened his gallery in Hill-street, Berkeley-square, led to a personal intercourse, to the day of his death, the friendship and close intimacy which subsisted between us was, as I have already stated, attended by everything which could make such a connexion gratifying to an individual in my position. It was not the hospitality and charms of Tabley House, the social elegance and recreations of the field-sports, the intellectual converse, and the delicious quiet retreats into the library, where the family-stored archæological researches of Peter Leicester the historian of Cheshire reposed, among massive Caxtons and Wynkyn-de-Wordes—it was not these attractions, fascinating as they

* In the “Literary Gazette,” No. 572 (Jan. 5, 1828), this amiable and accomplished nobleman (whom I rejoice to see personally attached to the service of our gracious Queen, and, I presume, probably communed with by her Majesty and her art-loving Consort on fine-art subjects,) was thus mentioned, as the successor of his father: “Not in his title alone, but in his fine taste and love of the arts, by his son George, who, though only sixteen years of age, is already a most beautiful and skilful draftsman. His younger brother, William, is heir to the same talent.” Time, alas, has taken William from us, but confirmed my highest anticipations of the finely cultivated genius of the present Peer, whose intelligence, as regards literature and the arts, is of the foremost order, and might be very beneficially employed on public questions affecting both.—W. J.

were, which crowned my satisfaction here; but heartily feeling the wish to do everything in my power to promote the prosperity of English artists and the renown of English Arts, it was to me a proud triumph to find myself associated in such a cause with such a man as Sir John Leicester; having my opinions consulted by such a connoisseur, and my advice and assistance required to confirm his own masterly judgments, and point the way to his liberal appreciation and encouragement of rising talent. The compliment to one’s-self was sufficiently seductive.

Having formerly spoken of my more private sources of happiness in this relation (Vol. ii. pp. 256-8), I should hardly discharge my duty, even as an autobiographist, were I not to afford some account of subjects interesting to the Fine Arts of England, with which my intimacy with their first great patron made me acquainted. Other noble and distinguished persons have since followed in the same path, but I question if there has yet been a legitimate successor to the splendid example set by my most estimable friend. I run through some of the letters of our correspondence—too much cherished by sentiment to be destroyed, and thus yet remaining with me to refresh my memory of joyful and lamented days. The following extracts are from letters of various periods:—

Sir J. did not forget Mr. J.’s intimation of the Romneys at Mr. Stewardson’s,* which he found very beautiful, but too sketchy for the gallery; and should consider it a particular favour if Mr. J. would oblige him by the mention of any productions of Modern Art that may fall in his way, and which he thinks of a class to hang

* My still living and valued friend, whose portrait of Mr. Canning adorns my second volume. He was a pupil of Romney’s, and possessed some of his beautiful paintings, of Lady Hamilton and others.

with the rest of the specimens he has been fortunate in bringing together.”

This was the true love, the seeking out of every work and artist, with merits to deserve the honours of the Leicester Gallery. And it was no casual or common-place voice without meaning and result. Other letters reiterate the request, as, for example:—

“Allow me to thank you for your note of the 5th inst., and to assure you I shall highly appreciate and feel greatly obliged for any communication relative to works of art that may come under your observation, and which you may at any time favour me with.

“Entirely agreeing with you in your eulogy (in 1818) of Hilton and Stothard, but at the same time having in regard for the former even more sanguine expectations than you hold out, I am in hopes of being enabled to show you, the next season, a much more perfect performance than that of Una, which, with all its merits, I must consider deficient in what would, in my mind, have created far greater interest in the picture, viz., the character and beauty of the heroine.

“And in regard to the latter, with all due admiration and wish to possess a specimen of that ingenious artist’s pencil, I cannot, looking accurately into the picture, consider the ‘Fête Champétre’ of a character to rank with the very choice works of other masters I have been fortunate enough to acquire.”

Speaking of the purport and intention of the exhibitions of his gallery, Sir John asks me (i. e. the “Literary Gazette”) to consider it as “having in view only the advantage the professors may derive from a choice selection of their productions being seen, unmixt with foreign works.” The warm supporter of our native school and the sagacious critic lives in these few lines.


I cannot now remember what another letter refers to, but it is a pressing invitation for “a little assistance from [my] elegant pen in recording a remarkable instance of liberality in an artist;” and yet another thanks me for a suggestion which led to the annexed notice in Hill-street: “It is most particularly requested that visitors to this gallery will entirely refrain from offering any money whatever to the attendants, which is strictly forbid being taken;” and Sir John writes, “Indeed it never before struck me that such a practice existed, as I consider it beyond bearing that servants who are well paid for doing their duty, should thus draw on the amusements of the poor artists.”

But it was not in the liberal purchase of works of art, and giving commissions to rising artists, that Lord de Tabley showed his pure taste and ardent attachment, the mere movement of a painting, the “removal of Collins’s beautiful Sun-rise into the gallery,” and the placing of “Gainsborough’s Cottage-door in a better light,” were matters of gratulation to him, almost as much as when he, in like manner, informed me of his delight in acquiring a magnificent specimen of Wilson,* and having been favoured

* Matthews had a good anecdote of Tompkinson and a dealer who came to him with a fine landscape of Wilson, which he wished to sell. He dwelt upon its beauties with great fervency, and pointed out the undoubted and indubitable touches of the English Claude; but so far from convincing the piano-forte maker of the authenticity of the painting, he expressed his great doubt of the fact. The chapman, however, insisted, and by way of clenching the matter said, “Now sir, I will convince you of your error in judgment, for I saw Wilson paint upon it.” “Did you, indeed,” exclaimed the still incredulous Tompkinson,—“of course if you saw it, I can dispute the matter no longer, but by G—— I would not believe it if I had seen it myself.” Judgment in applying the names of masters to pictures is, truly, little better than a farce, and generally quite identical with an imposition. M. Des-Enfans showing Ibbotson the finest Hobbima ever seen, and which Ibbotson himself had painted, was but a lucky example of the uncertainty, where not worse, of connoisseur dogmatism.

with the acceptation of now commissions as above-noticed by that rising artist
Hilton, (the result of which was perhaps his best work, the “Europa,”) Fuseli (who produced two, “Friar Tuck,” and a scene from Boccaccio), Callcot, Collins again, and others, who had promised their best efforts to adorn his collection. West’s first design for “Death on the White Horse;” also his “Angels conducting Lot and his daughters out of the Burning cities of Sodom and Gomorrah,” and Loutherbourg’s “Avalanche,” were equally brought in with exultation; and the discovery of any young artist of promise was hailed as an event to be taken in hand with the zeal of a suitor rather than of a pre-determined patron. Yet, on another occasion, he writes: “I highly approve your standing clear of all the artists’ broils: to please or even satisfy them, would indeed be an Herculean task!” On Hilton’s election by the Academy, he (Sir John) tells me, “Your remarks on his genius set your taste and judgment in a higher light than the R.A.’s who elected him by one vote!”

Above thirty years ago, I find our indefatigable patron purchasing Behnes’ “Bust of the late venerable President, West,” and strongly recommending the “young artist” to my notice, as sure to “make a figure” as a sculptor; and, about this period, Mr. John Young, at a large cost, enriched the world of art with his splendid illustrated “Catalogue of the Leicester Gallery,” the exhibition of which he had so ably managed during the season.

Two years later, the pictures from Tabley House were transferred to London, and commissions given to Holland and other painters as they arose in the British school; whilst to myself, an autumnal visit to the country mansion whence the works were removed, imparted a refreshing sojourn after the winding up of the busy time of the year.
On my departure, I took a turn about the great manufacturing towns, and in passing through Manchester, went, at
Sir John’s request, to see a famous painting by an old master, respecting which he had received a letter a day or two before. It was duly hung, and green-silk-curtained in a rather dingy room; and after due eulogium by the owner, the veil was carefully withdrawn, and to my astonishment, I beheld a human (hardly human) figure, in comparison with which, I solemnly declare, the common sign-boards of Admiral Keppel or Lord Granby are master-pieces of pictorial art. I could not refrain from a burst of laughter, and hastened from this triumph of the pallet to announce its merits to the Lord of Tabley, who, in answer, playfully writes: “Dear Sir, I must thank you for your very amusing and kind letter, and really feel it a great obligation, your having arrested the Manchester Parmegiano (it had been so described by its possessor) in his proposed journey to Tabley, though I feel heavily the loss of such an opportunity to patronise a new school of art.”

I have observed elsewhere on the charm that belongs to familiar intercourse with the superior classes of society, whose cultivated, and ever cultivating, intellect, and habitual refinement, render their conversation at once so agreeable, their pursuits so instructive, and their manners so improving, in unison with an unvarying tone of consideration for others, which, though it proceeds from a chastised propriety of mind, seems to spring from the kind fount of Nature alone, void of offence, respecting the self-love of all around, and employed only in creating an atmosphere of pleasurable enjoyment. Literature in light mood, and philosophy in sport, independently of more important inquiries, distinguished my experience of such society, and when I have heard the upper ranks of life, as is too usual with those
unacquainted with them, spoken of superciliously and detractingly, I could never refrain from the earnest wish that their contemners could resemble them (even to a limited degree) in intelligence, a thirst for information, and a suavity which bade flowers grow where others planted thorns and nettles. I never was a tuft-hunter, and met the highest always on terms of equality, and this tribute to their noble and estimable qualities is but a simple testimony to the truth, which afforded me many delicious days to be deeply grateful for, in the course of a lengthened life. The sequel to the letter I have last quoted, may indicate the sort of enjoyments which have elicited these remarks.

“I hear that the partridges (17th Sept.) still find a safe refuge in the standing corn, which is not half cut; but look forward with great pleasure in hopes of seeing you empty your well-loaded pockets, not of primrose wine,* but woodcocks and wild ducks at the coming Christmas, when my lady promises she will not say a word about electric fire,† or by any chance recall to your remembrance, your friend the little Duke of Mantua’s skyrocket‡ hero, who took his flight twenty yards upwards from the top of an oak tree. N.B. See page 212, Jamieson’s ‘Universal

* Alludes to my finding some curious wines made from primroses, cowslips, balsams, and other flowers, at a cottage assigned, by my generous host, to a poor decayed old lady, who kindly assuaged my thirst with a bottle one hot day when out shooting. The balsam, I think, was so recherché, that I went for more, and, conspiring with the butler, my lady and I succeeded in imposing it on the exquisite palate (gout) of Sir John as some forgotten or unknown vintage from his own cellar, in revenge for his having taunted me that my panegyric was all owing to my drought.

† An argument on the electricity with which gossamers propelled their filaments, wherein I fancy I had the worst; as books of reference were always consulted on such occasions.

‡ Something of a similar literary controversy on my poor friend John Roby’s tragedy of the Duke of Mantua, which was mysteriously brought out with a masked face bearing some likeness to Byron on the title page, and made some noise at the time.

Science,’ ‘that on an accurate estimation, the thread of the minutest spiders is composed of above 4000 still finer, and that above 16,000 millions are not altogether thicker than a human hair;’ this is perhaps in your favour.”

The next letter I shall quote entire, as it affords another proof of the influence which the “Literary Gazette” possessed in connection with the encouragement of the fine arts, which I pride myself on having set the example of effecting through the medium of regular and systematic notice by the periodical press:—

“Tabley House, 8th March, 1825.
Dear Sir,

“In perfect confidence I trouble you with rather a more weighty concern in the way of art than I expected, but hope it may turn out well.

“A short extract from Westmacott’s letter will explain it best:—

“‘South Audley Street, March 3rd.
“‘Sir John,

“‘On my return yesterday from Wilton, I found your very flattering letter and acceptance of my labours. Artists are perhaps not the best judges of their own efforts, but I confess I shall feel a little disappointed if my ‘Nymph and Zephyr’ is not as favourably received as even the ‘Psyche.’

“‘I have, I think, caught your ideas in the management I have adopted, which is well calculated to display the graces and prominent beauties of the female form, whilst the playfulness of the child heightens the interest of the group. I enter fully into your feelings in being desirous to withhold the work from general view for the present, but I see no objection to your wish that Mr. Jerdan should see it and notice it. Mr. Parker has reported me
truly in the money part of the commission. I have never thought beyond your gallery, and beg to name the price at 750l.’

“May I hope, therefore, you will have the goodness to take an opportunity of seeing it, and mentioning it as you think fit, as one of the novelties for my gallery next year; and what I am still more anxious for, is to have your private opinion of it. Pray also remember the fishing season is advancing, and shall be quite disappointed if you let it pass unheeded or unmindful of your friends at Tabley.

“Believe me, dear Sir,
“Yours very truly,

In 1825, Lady de Tabley honoured us by giving her name as godmother to the infant daughter, whose death I have recorded as the first fatal breach in the frail crystal globe of my entire family unity in this world; and the letter conveying this valued compliment adds, “you some time ago intimated a wish that I would give a commission to your friend Pickersgill, which I should now be happy to do, as I think my favourite subject from Croly possesses an ample scope for the brilliant colouring of his pencil, and will make a picture replete with interest. Will you ask your friend if he will undertake this, in which case its being finished for my gallery early next spring must be a sine quâ non.” Wishing to ascertain why this commission was not executed, I wrote to my old friend a few weeks ago for an explanation; and regret to say that he ignores the remembrance of such an offer. Yet I can hardly persuade myself that I could have neglected it; and thus the arts have lost a very valuable and interesting contribution.


Sir John was a great admirer of Croly’sParis” and other poetry; and the passage here alluded to was in the poem of “Sebastian,” where the Moor is playing on the harp in the tent, stanza 18; and the picture was intended as a companion to Leslie’s “Anne Page,” 2 feet 4½ inches high, by 2 feet wide, and the figures about the same size. Leslie, however, took up the subject of “Rebecca” in preference, which Sir John considered to be an entire failure.

That the late Lord de Tabley was not only an excellent judge of the arts, but himself a practical artist far above the usual rank of amateur production, was demonstrated by several fine landscapes which he amused himself with painting when at Tabley. But one of his fancies to beguile pain by such employment, was so strange a manifestation of philosophical nonchalance, that I cannot refrain from describing it. Subject to violent attacks of headache, I have seen him frequently obliged to retire from table, and seek relief by the application of numerous leeches to his temples and the adjacent localities most severely affected. In this condition he would allow of no interruption of the social pleasures he had been compelled to leave; but when the “black doctors” had done their duty, and restored portions of the vital fluid to a large palette, it was a curious work of art to witness it converted into a palette, and a rich brown picturesque scene of wood, and rock, and country painted by the temporary invalid from his own veins. I assure my readers that these productions were natural, artistic, varied, and harmonious, and that, uninformed of the singular process by which they were produced, no one could ever have surmised the material, or that it could possibly form any feature in the pleasing landscape!*

* Thus there were Leeches employed in the fine arts before the debut of the Mr. Leech, who is one of the cleverest Hogarthian artists of our day—W. J.


It were indeed as difficult to guess as, I recollect, a stony mass which I had cut, and brought before a party of our most famous geologists for their opinion what it was. It puzzled the conclave; and well it might, for it came not from the bowels of the earth, nor from any formation with which they were acquainted in any stratum of historical or ante-historical era; being a concrete, charmingly variegated with every colour of the rainbow, and more; the result of the scraping of a painter’s palette for many years, which had not been thrown out, but left for time to harden into a lump, which bore a polish as complete as cornelian, agate, or porphyry.

But to return to my proper subject. His lordship took a very early interest in the art of lithography,* and executed many designs on stone with his own hands. In this, also, I went zealously along with him; for the “Literary Gazette” was the first journal to take up Mr. Ackermann’s novel importation from Germany, and support its capability of becoming a cheap and most useful interpreter of the Fine Arts.

In his choice of pictures and sculpture, Lord de Tabley always displayed an intense love of the beautiful; and though he felt high admiration for the grand and sublime, they did not yield him such delight as the sweet and lovely. Martyrdoms and distressing battle-pieces or massacres, et hoc genus omne, he mortally disliked, and would have none of them to adorn his gracefully-covered walls, or fill statuary niches in his elegant gallery, where beauty and sentiment

* The first engraved example of this art is added here:—

Mr. Ackermann has the honour to enclose a card of invitation to a literary meeting at his library, on Thursday the 20th of February, at seven o’clock in the evening; and on the same evening in each week, until the 10th day of April inclusive.

“101, Strand. Feb. 1817.”

walked hand in hand with the most successful Art and most perfect Nature.

A project uniting the Arts and Literature, must he mentioned before I quit a topic on which I love to dwell, though with it melancholy and gratifying reflections are so intimately blended, that I cannot define whether sobered sadness or tinted memories of bygone happiness most prevail. Time, when sinking with us into darkness, like the sun, throws forth a glory of departing beams which gild and illuminate for the moment the sky, and even the clouds of the past.

The cherished plan of a publication between Sir J. Leicester and I was thus announced:—

Will be published in One Volume Quarto.


W. JERDAN, Esq., F.A.S., M.R.L.S., &c.


SIR J. F. LEICESTER, Bart., H.M.R.D.S., H.M.R.C.I., &c.


The idea was more specifically developed in the annexed suggestions in the handwriting of my respected coadjutor.

“In One Vol. Quarto,
Illustrated with engravings of the principal Fish of Great Britain, and others frequenting its shores, from drawings taken from Nature by Sir J. F. Leicester and some of the first artists.

WILLIAM JERDAN, ESQ., &c. &c. &c.

“Will something of this kind do, with your corrections or improvements?—or, pray, suggest anything you think better.”

On this intent, we made some considerable progress; unfortunately never to be completed; but as it might yet be taken up and carried into effect by some fond disciple of Isaac Walton, in conjunction with a spirited publisher, I will as briefly as possible describe the particulars of our enterprise as far as it went.

Mr. S. Pether* was our leading counsel and guide in regard to the fine art departments of drawing and engraving the fishes, which Sir John, at first, estimated at thirty, but when the list came to be made, we found only the following:—British fresh water fishes: 1, pike; 2, perch; 3, carp; 4, tench; 5, trout; 6, barbel; 7, grayling; 8, gwynnard, in Bala Pool, North Wales; 9, char, in Windermere; 10, chub; 11, bream; 12, roach; 13, dace; 14, pope; 15, bleak; 16, eel; 17, gudgeon; 18, loach; 19, minnow; 20, miller’s thumb; 21, stickleback: river fish: 1, salmon; 2, smelt; 3, flounder; 4, lamprey eel, in the Severn.—Total 25.

* Painted for Sir John, who suggested the subject, “A Caravan overtaken by a Sandstorm in the Desert.”


The cost of the drawings and engravings was estimated at 200 guineas, of which the moiety was to be paid for the former by Sir John, and the second hundred for the engravings, to be repaid by the publication if it succeeded, any surplus to be mine. There was to be a popular octavo edition, after the quarto, with wood-cuts, as in Salter and Walton; when I got assent to the corporeal introduction of my small-fry friends, the minnows, sticklebacks, loaches, and miller’s thumbs. The plates were to be about the size of those in old Albin’s “History of Esculent Fishes,” 1794; and we had a bream executed as a specimen by Mr. Clarke, recommended by Pether. The other engravers spoken with were Griffiths, the engraver of Cuvier, in which the dory was beautifully executed; Curtis, the engraver of Franklin; Milan, Marsh, Swaine, and John Scott, all able artists, and competent to do ample justice to the undertaking; which became quite a pleasant hobby, and led to many an amusing letter, as we discussed tails, scales, gills, fins, and localities where the finest specimens were to be caught, including journeys to the English lakes, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland!

My part was to write an introduction, and a page or leaf of description, with the various generic names given by different authors, and modelled on Block’s “Ichthyologia” (3 vols, folio, Berlin, 1795), with remarks on particular species, and specimens extraordinary for size, or other peculiarity. In one of his notes, my co-author was pleased to observe that he had no doubt my share of the work would be very complete, if he could persuade me not to go quite so far as the cookery. Paintings of an enormous jack and a carp, taken out of the Tabley waters, by Thomson, R.A., were admirably copied by Sir John, and with several other drawings of his own of perch and roach, dispatched to me
in London, wherewith to commence proceedings, with the instruction, “I am fully persuaded that nothing can he had excellent and cheap; if the first is not obtained in a very high degree, I shall not like to have a hand in it.”

But all our pleasant preparations and prospects were sorrowfully dissipated by the sudden and alarming illness (as Mr. Lister Parker immediately informed me from Tabley) of our “kind and worthy friend, who was seized with a slight paralytic affection on the left side,” that enforced the abandonment of the fish plan, which they all deeply regretted. My own want of time to attend to and push on the work was, I fear, the main cause why it was not brought to a happier termination.

Among the friends and acquaintances I made at Tabley, besides Mr. Parker, above-named, and the surrounding Cheshire gentry, about the most ancient, gentlemanly, wealthiest, and best informed squirearchy in the kingdom, I should mention his Lordship’s chaplain, the Rev. Thomas Jee, Vicar of Thaxted in Essex, at whose hospitable manse I also enjoyed occasionally an abundance of the field-sports which were so conducive to my health and recreation, during brief intermissions of my literary toil. He offered the field where there were “no lords of the manor, and no keepers to consult or to control us; but we shall be as free as foresters and the natives of the forest.”

These gleams were finally darkened; and the last note of their extinction, was thus conveyed to me by Mr. Lister Parker:—

My dear Sir,

“It is my painful task now to inform you of the death of our most kind and generous friend Lord de Tabley, who departed this life at half-past nine this morning, after
a long and painful illness of more than six months. His last few hours were tranquil, and without apparent pain. The arts have lost a most munificent patron, and the world at large an accomplished scholar and a gentleman; private individuals a most kind and generous friend.”