LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Authors and Artists.

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

B, p. 42.

I had purposed in this Appendix to have gone more into the details of authorship, and demonstrated beyond controversy, from the multitude of the unsuccessful and unfortunate, and the paucity in numbers of those who have reached any moderate degree of opulence, the truth of the positions I have laid down in regard to literary pursuits. But the task has grown too large for the summary view I intended for it; and in order to do it justice, I must defer making up my materials to a future and more convenient opportunity. In the mean time, I may refer my readers, for a taste, to “Disraeli’s Calamities of Authors,” and assure them of a list from me not less disastrous and miserable. Such scenes of destitution as I have witnessed, and thank God! often been enabled to alleviate; would force the most buoyant proclaimer of the literary man’s millenium to confess that there was more universal failure in their objects, and frustration of their hopes, and also a lower depth of woe into
which they were often precipitated, than could be predicated of any other educated and intelligent class. How does the pride of genius aggravate the suffering! That pride, like ivy, climbs the highest, and luxuriates the most, where the ruin is the greatest, where the stateliest fabric is mouldering most rapidly and surely into decay, where the noble mind is overthrown and all is wreck:—

“Why to this stormy world, from their long rest,
Are these recall’d, to be again displeased,
Where, during Nature’s reign, we are opprest,
Till we by Death’s high privilege are eased.
“As rivers to their ruin hasty be,
So life (still earnest, loud, and swift) runs post
To the vast gulf of death, as they to sea,
And. vainly travels to be quickly lost.”—Davenant.

I abstain, then, for the present, from going into this sad and painful inquiry; but cannot help suggesting only one argument more, to show the disparity of the rewards which attend the productions of authors and artists; assuredly not begrudging but heartily wishing increase to the latter. But let us quietly set down, in two lines, ten of the one class opposite to ten of the other, and ask the public judgment on the comparison:—


The first column of high intellectual names, which will live for ever in the annals of literature, for the delight they have afforded to mankind, might sum up all their pecuniary gains through the whole of their lives and labours at a very few thousands, probably not more altogether than Turner amassed; and if you add the sums, very justly and meritoriously earned by the other nine, you will hardly come to the conclusion that the Poet
and the Painter are equally well off in the distribution of remuneration for their labours. I contend, therefore, that higher intellect being requisite in the one case than in the other—not that the artist is too liberally encouraged, but that the author is ill requited and wronged.

I have not mentioned such names as those of Burns, Hogg, and a long catalogue of others whose lives have been spent in acquiring lasting fame in the turmoil of lasting struggle for bare existence; and only add, for the present, the case of Mr. Horne, the author of an Epic, which could not command a great sale at the price of one farthing, and whom one of my critics has set forth to show that infinitely higher genius than mine has been far less rewarded—which may be true enough—but surely it makes for my argument (and not the reverse) that literary merit is rather an unproductive freehold.

“Australian ship Kent, Plymouth Sound, June 9, 1852.


“Various statements having been made in certain quarters of the press concerning my departure for Australia, may I request you will do me the kindness to insert these few words. Considering the great appreciation I received on the publication of my earliest works from some of the noblest intellects of the time, and that during a long period I have experienced the same from nearly all the foremost men in literature, in science, and in art, it would be equally absurd and ungrateful in me to complain of neglect. But while I repudiate all personal complaints at those circumstances which from times immemorial (and memorial) have been the common inheritance of all poets who had a lofty aim and no adventitious aids, I may be permitted simply to record the fact of twenty years of public indifference. This has continued nearly unbroken, so far as my substantive works are concerned, in the face of more elaborate philosophical analysis and criticism, and far higher eulogies, than any poet could reasonably expect during his life. With this record I take my leave.


“Let me add, however, that I bear with me a profound emotion towards those, whether strangers or friends (and they are not a few), by whom my writings have been received in the spirit in which they were composed.

“I am, Sir, your obedient servant,