LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Literary Poverty

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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A. page 5.

Whilst this sheet was passing through the press, in treating of the Guild of Literature, the following remarks occur in the “Morning Chronicle” (Sept 3), a journal (having no reference to its politics) which must always be prized for its literary ability and especially on literary subjects:—

“We have read the history of literature in vain, if we have not discovered that men of letters are not as other men. Knowledge and intellectual superiority are their own exceeding great reward; but it may be doubted whether we can make erratic genius prudent, or regulate the inconsistencies and caprices which so often fatally obstruct the success of the artist, by the most elaborate provision against the unavoidable accidents of fortune, or against the natural impulses of disposition or passion. This much, however, is certain—that, despite the melancholy annals of shattered genius, broken hopes, and blasted capabilities, the man of truth, honesty, and principle has very rarely suffered final shipwreck in pursuing or in imparting knowledge. Poverty sorely cripples intellect; but how ennobling and elevating are those records which remind us that intellect, coupled with principle and regulated by conscience, has seldom failed to conquer that ignoble hindrance! Johnson walked the streets of London without knowing where to lay his head; but the lesson of his life would be lost, if we were not to add that he died in competence.”

I dissent very little from this statement; but is it indeed to be deemed a literary triumph and cause of exultation, that after all
his sufferings and all his prodigious labours,
Johnson had actually the good fortune to die in competency. How glorious for literature—how decisive of the question of its equality with, if not advantages over other liberal pursuits! He could not be a Minister of State, nor a Bishop, nor a Judge, nor anything halfway up to any of these elevations; but what of that? What right had the mere literary, though mighty intellectual giant, to look so high? Lucky, and to be congratulated, was the author of the Dictionary, the “Rambler,” and “Rasselas,” &c &c, in reaching a pension and a competency of three or four hundred pounds a year!

At the same time Mr. Justice Talfourd has prefixed a biographical sketch of his schoolfellow, Mr. Deacon, to a pleasing posthumous work from his pen. He was no Johnson, but a literary enthusiast, gifted with considerable talents. He, too did not die in distress, thanks to newspaper employment; but how his enthusiasm was quelled, and his talents discouraged, and his life embittered for a long season, I can show from his disconsolate letters seeking work in the “Literary Gazette.”