LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
James Weddell

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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C. page 25.

The straightforward and coolly intrepid character of Weddell, stamped him the perfect successor to the bravest nautical heroes of the elder times, who, in their small frail barks explored the wildest seas and most desolate regions of the earth. On his return from his Antarctic voyage, he was greeted with great applause by all who were interested in Polar discoveries, and received many deserved compliments and marks of honour. It was my good fortune to hail his book (1825) in a style which procured the annexed acknowledgment, and led to a lasting friendship.

“Your very able review has given my book a stamp of
respectability, and conferred a most flattering compliment on the author.

“With respectful remembrance,
“Yours very faithfully,


I am sorry to confess that a (what shall I call it?) of four dozen pints of the finest Malmsey Madeira, brought from the Island, attended this seaman’s thank-ye, and I could only requite the “what shall I call it,” by hospitalities and attentions to the bestower when in town, and a continued tribute to his persevering conduct, as opportunities arose for its public notice. Among the aspirations of my warm friend was his candidature for the post of superintendent of Leith docks, for success in which he was, notwithstanding my efforts, too late in the field, and the office was carried by my jovial steam-vessel intimate Captain Dall. Weddell’s narrative of his Antarctic voyage, on which he penetrated to a higher latitude than had ever been previously reached, even by Cook or any other navigator in expeditions fitted out for discovery by Government, made a great sensation; and until the last splendid achievements of Sir James Clark Ross, he stood at the head of the gallant explorers of the southern hemisphere—as it still does among the foremost of enthusiastic private enterprise, in any age or perilous sea. I am proud of my name being given in his map to an Island, though at Cape Horn, and so desolate and unproductive, that even in my worst days, I have never thought of proceeding to that stormy region to take possession of my undoubted property, with its icebergs and pen-guins (such natural subjects for a pen-man), and, it might be, a native Patagonian or two, only I should have been afraid to attempt the rule over the females of so gigantic a people, however loyal and attached!

Poor Weddell did not long survive to enjoy the triumph of his brave exploits. He was more wrapped up in the ambition to follow up his brilliant naval adventures than to look out for and realise the fruits of commercial industry in the ships entrusted to his command—and ship-owners do not enter, with eagerness, into such feelings. The result was that the strong-built and strong-hearted sailor fell into embarrassments, and sank under their pressure. He had, however, from his own
resources, and the co-operation of confiding connections, who had experienced the benefit of his integrity and ability as the skipper of a merchantman, succeeded in equipping a handsome new vessel, of about 400 tons, and taking one trip more, though only a short one. I allude to this, as it produced a scene of such unequalled merriment, that it is yet vividly present to my mind and eye. There was a fête on board to christen the bark, as she lay in the West India Docks; and I was one of the guests. The dinner was excellent, though not à la
Ude or Soyer (vide preceding note); for the cook, as was afterwards ascertained, was of another complexion; and it went off with adequate satisfaction. The cloth was removed, bumpers filled, and the company “upstanding,” with “three times three” in the vista, having been suitably addressed, were lifting the wine to their lips to toast the health of Captain Weddell and prosperity to the (I forget the name, it was a pretty feminine one in accordance with a pretty figure-head) when lo, a crash was heard, the broad cabin light above us was dashed into fragments, the shivered glass and frame-work descended in showers, and in the midst the cause of all this confusion, a huge black pig, which they had been trying to stow away on deck, and which, objecting to the process, came tumbling through the sky-light, not at all like Mercury alighting on a heaven-kissing hill. Some of us were knocked under the table, the upheld bumper-glasses accompanying the fall of man, and we had no time to recover from our amazement, when a half naked, and much over-heated, huge negro rushed down the ladder into the cabin, and springing on the pig, the cause of all our woes, and clasping the also black monster in his arms, hugged it up to its destination in spite of struggles and shrieks the most swinishly desperate and deafening. The denouement was followed, as we gathered ourselves up, with roars of uncontrollable laughter, and, as none of us were seriously damaged, the jollity was renewed in a humour which did not tend to diminish the succeeding revels of the day.

Hogarth, Cruikshank, or Leech might have envied the spectacle of this baptism, and their pencils have immortalised this story of a pig without a poke.

To poor Weddell, even in this vein of merry recollection, I must, however, bid adieu. He was a worthy of the right sort for sea or land,
An honest man, the noblest work of God.