LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Fifty Years’ Recollections, Literary and Personal

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
‣ Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Vol. III Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Creative Commons License

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

I wasted time in perusing works of imagination, and vapid novels, calculated as they are, except when of a high order, to pervert history, and vitiate the taste. They who possess a mature judgment, read some works for their style, others for information, or for the disposition of their parts. Some are excellent as sources of knowledge, but of little service in teaching how to acquire correct modes of thinking, such as scientific compilations. From others, we derive no great accession of facts, but they sharpen and discipline the faculties. Books of mere amusement are good for the diversion of the mind after heavier studies, but they are the bane of mental discipline, unless well selected, as I have found from experience. The more frivolous are preferred, from being written down to the unrefined feeling and bad taste of the many; extravagant in excitement, or else childish; vulgar in dialogue, and suitable to low and untutored sympathies, or full of spurious morality, giving false pictures of manners, and contradicting historical testimony. Their heroes, like the clown’s spectacles that were to teach him reading, being imaginary models of all that shines in the social character, without much
regard to morality or good taste. There have been as many different fashions in novel writing as in the shape of a coat, in the same duration of time. The novels of the Minerva Press were the rage in my youth. Many works appeared too openly licentious to be tolerated now; yet it is a question whether that insidious immorality which prevails in some works of imagination, with too fair an outside, is not really more prejudicial than where vice is at once apparent.

Monk Lewis’s works fell early into my hands, but they operated in a different mode from that the author intended. I set Lewis down for a bigot in faith, as well as a man of loose morality. I had known some Catholic sisters of exemplary character; and I had early become acquainted with several excellent persons, members of their faith. There are many excellent people who will believe chalk is cheese, if they are told they must believe it, their fault being a belief in anything but the dictates of good sense—are they to be maligned rather than pitied? Lewis hated the men, the creed was of less moment. He described vice too well not to have been familiar with it. I read his ‘Monk’ at fifteen; he borrowed that tale, I have no doubt, from “l’Année Littéraire,” for 1772, and the article “Le Diable Amoureux.” The “Tales of Wonder” I well recollect appearing. The first edition of his ‘Monk’ shamed even its author into the suppression of some of its pruriences on its reaching a second. I heard of his “Castle Spectre”in the country; but I did not see it performed until I arrived in town. It produced no effect on my mind—I was an infidel as to ghostly appearances even then; but it drew crowds to the
theatre. London was full of the praises of the productions of Lewis. His lubricity was tolerated in compliment to the service it rendered to intolerance. In those days, numberless stories were told and credited of the fleshless gentry, who appear to visit the earth on very silly errands, and hobgoblin Lewis found superstition and intolerance towers of strength in support of his popularity. Lewis was a pale, small man, no wizard in manners nor appearance, to be possessed of the talent with which he was unquestionably endowed. It was in 1807, when he was getting ready his “
Romantic Tales” that I last saw him.

In regard to ghosts, I had, when a lad, a sister whom the gods loved, for she died young. She was a fine high-spirited girl, to whom I related my stock of ghost stories, and to whom I was able to entrust, without fear of betrayal, all my tiny secrets. I believe she wondered from what source I derived them. My father rejected all such superstitions, and endeavoured to guard against their effect on the youthful mind, as if he had some surmise of the true state of things. On a dark, ghostly, cold winter’s night, he asked my sister if she was afraid to fetch a book out of a pew, at the upper end of a chapel, which stood at the termination of a long avenue of trees planted among the graves of several departed generations. I suspected it was done to try my courage. My sister was two years younger than myself. She shall not go, thought I, feeling that my courage was suspected, and as well that she would prove unequal to the task. My chivalry vanquished my fears. I volunteered, my father taunting me, when I did not deserve it, that my sister would fetch it, if I failed.
She, poor girl, had no taste for the expedition, from stories with which I had crammed her head. It was past eleven o’clock at night; a dozen horrible tales came to my recollection, I had scores, and worse than all some faith in them. As I was setting out, I put on the most heroic countenance. The long avenue of trees was to be passed. The night was black as Erebus, the gusty wind made the branches rustle and creak, and I could see my way only by looking up at the tops which were a little blacker than the heavens. I was scarcely half a dozen yards on my way, when the demons of
Lewis came into my mind, a hideous group as they were. Next came uppermost a picture in an old edition of the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ which represented Christian passing through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and close at his heels a tall cloven-footed fiend, with bat-like wings, a figure well adapted from its superlative hideousness, to adorn the temptation of the most holy St. Anthony. I reached the door of the edifice, not whistling like a school-boy to keep my courage up, but standing in need of some such resource for the purpose. I dashed open the door of the sacred edifice, near which I had seen a person inhumed a few days before. It was an effort of courage for which I took credit, that the echoes from the empty edifice, though they brought my courage down to the freezing point, did not make me retrogade, I only halted for a few seconds to give my valour breath. I then felt my way up the aisle, and as I extended my hands for the purpose, fully expected one of them to be grasped by marble-cold fingers. A pew door left open struck me as I was passing. I felt a shiver, halted, then recollect-
ing what it was, I proceeded cautiously to the clerk’s place, seized a book, and groping along the pew fronts, returned with much more alacrity than I had shown in proceeding on my errand. I deposited my trophy on the drawing-room table, saying, what was untrue, “I don’t care for a hundred ghosts, not I!” The youth of the present day is fortunate in not having to contend with the tales of spectres and apparitions, which once made children so miserable, imbibed among other mischiefs in the nursery, the invention of superstition to overawe mind for the worst purposes. What, for example, would our forefathers not have said of the electric telegraph, but to prove that we dealt with the devil?

Moore’s Poems under the name of Thomas Little, published after his ‘Anacreon,’ I read by stealth soon after their appearance. It was not a feather in his poetical renown, that he should, in youth, treat love no better than harlotry. It did not speak a pure spirit. I doubt whether Moore ever felt real love. The language of artifice and warmth beyond delicacy, coloured the passion after the mode in which rakes would depict it, but in more elegant language. It was the love of the lip, not the heart. He had passed his early years in the Dublin circles; he had visited many of those dissipated personages to whom the simplicity and truth of nature’s colouring were too tasteful to be welcome, for he was somewhat of a follower of fashion and title. It is true, he expressed his regret in later years, that he published Little’s Poems, and there is no doubt his regret was sincere, but he could not have written the poems with the untainted mind of unartificial youth, prompted by genuine natural feeling. It is true that the generous,
pious, impartial, and profoundly gifted public, or ‘masses,’ as they are now called, which flatterers deem an authority not to be challenged, decided against my humble opinion, for in five years, in this wisest, most virtuous, and most religious of all nations, the lubricious poems of Little passed through thirteen editions.

The Children of the Abbey,” by Maria Roche, Surr’sSplendid Misery,” and Mrs. Opie’sMother and Daughter,” I remember successively taking to my place of reading in fine weather. This was a dense wood, seldom intruded upon, where I could enjoy reading undisturbed. I carried thither a piece of white-painted board for a seat, on which I had pencilled, in an idle mood, Pope’s line:
“Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care.”

I never knew, for certain, what fair footsteps had followed me unobserved, but I had been followed, and by one who was familiar with Pope, for I found the line written under mine in a lady’s hand:
“For God, not man, absolves our frailties here.”

I must state that Charlotte Smith’s beautiful Sonnets were among my early reading, and that I read them still with great pleasure. Her novels, too, were popular, and rank with the best of those days. She had a far-spread reputation. Miss Owenson’sSt. Clair,” and “Novice of St. Dominick,” I read about the same time as I perused Surr. Clara Reeves’ “Old English Baron” followed. Godwin was too
profound for my youth.
Bage’sHermsprong” I well remember, and Moore’sZeluco.” The last was the first novel I ever called my own property. The fault of many of the novelists of that time, was that they relied too much upon imagination, leaving probability out of sight. What a history, by no means honourable to the popular taste, would that of novel-writing be, with its lights and shadows, for sixty years past!

Coleridge’s poems I perused with delight, but I could never lumber through Southey’s leaden epic, “Joan of Arc.” His “Curse of Kehama” I perused with the interest arising from its novelty of subject, notwithstanding its verbiage. I remember the starting of the “Edinburgh Review,” much talked of by the public. By the “Monthly”and “Critical Reviews,” and the “British Critic,” I had been too much swayed in opinion. I think there was an “English Review” in my early years, but I only remember there was such a work. It was said to be established through the instrumentality of a Dr. Thompson, a friend of Dr. Parr, and author of a work called “The Man in the Moon.” The “Monthly Review” had attained considerable reputation, and was first the property of Mr. Griffith, assisted by Dr. Rose of Chiswick, and a Mr. Cleveland. Old Mr. Jenkinson, afterwards Earl of Liverpool—whose writings, Peter Pindar said, showed not a spark of fire until they were put into the grate,—Charles Burney—not the musical man, but the Greek number three (or Porson, Parr, and Burney),—and Dr. Rees, of Encyclopedia renown, were contributors. The literary opinions the work expressed were not always
correct. The writers made no pretence to Essay writing, under the false colour of reviewing. The “British Critic” was established principally by the activity of
Archdeacon Nares, Prebendary of Lincoln—not him of the same name who wrote “Thinks I to Myself.” I knew the Archdeacon well; he was a sound scholar, and an excellent man, although with the extent of his divinity qualification, I was not acquainted. It was in Nares’ “Review” that Parr criticised the splendid edition of Horace, which he had at first consented to join Dr. Combe and a friend in projecting, as I heard the history of the affair. Parr backed out, upon finding his coadjutors not equal to the task. Combe was a physician. The Doctor’s review enraged Dr. Combe, especially as Parr pointed out numerous blunders in the Greek quotations, which gave origin to a war of pamphlets, and an epigram:
Combe’s Greek proved a lapsis—though at home in a ptysick,
It was so much the worse he deserted his physic—
Parr combed him they say for his Greek, and so far,
It was proved to the world he was not up to par!

Of the parties who established the “Critical Review” I do not remember having heard. A very ingenious compiler for the press, Stephen Jones, gave me much information about the reviews, which I regret has long been forgotten. The “Quarterly Review” did not appear until 1809, two years after I had begun my town career. Most of the foregoing statements I remember to have learned in town. The only literati, in my boyish days, resident near where I lived, were Polwhele, and Whittaker, the Manchester historian.
The latter wrote more elaborately upon the leanest text, than any one before or since his time has done. I do not remember any of the Magazines, except the “
Gentleman’s” and “Monthly.” Mr. Urban was, of course, no stranger to the world fourscore years before I saw the light. Phillips, the bookseller, was the proprietor of the “Monthly,” and Dr. Aikin the editor. Phillips had been a schoolmaster, then a bookseller at Leicester, where he set up a periodical publication, and was imprisoned for publishing Paine’sRights of Man.” He became a bookseller in Bridge Street, Blackfriars, afterwards, and his shop a lounge for those who supported the proscribed doctrine of Parliamentary Reform. Many literary men used to look in there. Phillips was a selfish, conceited, shrewd man. He got knighted afterwards, Mansion House fashion, for he became Sheriff of London; whether he was ever Lord Mayor, I do not remember. It is hardly possible, I should think, as he never touched animal food. Thelwall, tried for his life with Horne Tooke, Hardy, and Joyce, used to be often in the shop of Phillips. The last was a fresh-coloured, plump, hale man, and died at eighty years of age. He once offered me a tolerable sum of money, if I would go to Elba and write a book about Napoleon. I never had any business transaction with him.

Scott’sMarmion” delighted me, and it was well calculated to do so, especially on the first time of perusal. It came out at this period. There was a happy abruptness in the termination, which left a grateful recollection behind. It lost much of its attraction on a second perusal, and on the third descended to
what it really was, a versified story. Scott was well aware his pretensions as a poet were fallacious, and changed his mood. Verse has its peculiar sentiment and language; the best must “accommodate the shows of things to the desires of the mind.” We do not want to hear repeated to us continually the existing or defunct state of things—our senses make that state sufficiently evident; we want something more elevated, better, something which our minds tell us we do not possess, but of which we may laudably aspire to the fruition. There is an innate sentiment of right and justice ever blended in the poet. His colour must not be drab, nor his voice colloquial and prosaic; he must be all brilliancy of hue. He must have a mind that, in place of gasping after kings, courts, and pageantry, can take them at their real worth, climbing above earthly things, along the broad empirean, in place of aspiring to strut under painted ceilings, among the stars of the embroiderer, robes of the tailor’s happiest adjustment, jewelled and painted ladies, and courtiers the froth of nations,—a mind that, in place of such cribbed desires, can expatiate upon real greatness, fear no truth, read the better things of nature, and associate with the wise and good of all ages, daring to pass even the bounds of time and space—such a mind, and its peculiar sentiments of greatness and independence, was not that of Scott. Hence he shone peculiarly in his novels, which dealt more with earthly beings in fantastic dresses, and in times nearly forgotten. He had strong yearnings too, after every-day things, which he was continually necessitated to disguise, lest the innate nakedness of his characters should become too palpable. Hence, perhaps, the hero
of the novellist—some incorrigible ruffian—he clothed in gorgeous raiment, endowed with a thousand virtues and one great crime, the union forming the staple in the description. The virtue that hangs about the heart of the true poet, reverses this. Virtue never leaves the poetic fancy, if occasionally overlooked in description. The poet describes “the one virtue link’d with a thousand crimes,” and in exaggerating it, inflicts no wound upon the ascendency of honourable and virtuous desires, if not clothed in moral beauty. Scott became the enchanter of the age, from possessing, with points in his literary character, some of which resembled those of the poet, others which constituted his own particular excellence as a prose writer, which, while disqualifying him for lasting poetical success, made him the transcendent novelist.

Another of the noted works of the day, a little subsequent to Scott’sMarmion,” was that of a poet whose fame was already fixed upon a durable foundation in “Gertrude of Wyoming,” the second edition of which appeared the same year as Scott’s “Lady of the Lake.” “Gertrude” did not strike me with its tranquil and peculiar beauties, until I had read it more than once, as Reynolds observed of Raphael’s cartoons, the excellence of which did not strike at the first glance. It was somewhat in this way that the first perusal of “Gertrude”affected me.

I was so pleased with passages in Darwin’s poetical works, when young, that I retained them in memory. His prophecy in regard to steam-vessels was singular in its verification. His writings were put down by the wits of the Anti-Jacobin, not for their demerits, but
from his unfashionable politics. This figure in Darwin much struck my youthful fancy:
“Thus charmed to sweet repose when twilight hours,
Shed their soft influence on celestial bowers,
The cherub innocence with smile divine
Shuts his white wings, and sleeps on beauty’s shrine.”

Many and varied were the snatches of byegone verse treasured in roy youth, in rambles over waste, and through wood and vale. In lonely hours, thoughtful, companionless, it was then I used to fix, or rather, such quotations became fixed in my mind, by continual repetition. Gray was one of my favourites, from whom I culled fragments, and the same with Milton, Pope and others. How fresh-coloured, even through the dimness of years, is the recollection of the localities where I thus beguiled many solitary moments.

The appearance of “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” in the return for the attack of the Scotch reviewers upon young Byron, I well remember. The Edinburgh did not make much noise at its first appearance, but grew rapidly into favour. It would have merited unalloyed praise, had it supported liberal principles only, and taken a tone more exalted. Still it had merit in a point difficult to be understood now, from the alterations for the better effected by time. Intense religious bigotry, the judicial bench little better than a tool of the crown; the Test and Corporation Acts in full force, the press enslaved, illiberality and ignorance triumphant, all showed the necessity for a striking advocacy of equal justice and free opinion. It has since
had, too, the gratification of seeing the full realization of the principles with which it set out. On the other hand, the “
Quarterly” has been doomed to find its most cherished and reiterated opinions erroneous, and its averments falsified over and over. Its prophetic denunciations of national ruin were met by an increase of prosperity. The more extensive its fulminations, the more false they proved on a comparison of the results with the predictions. The prophetic denunciations in this work would make an entertaining volume.

The waste of labour and logic, the assumed egotism, and something like bombast at times, presented no very edifying example in the use of the critical tomahawk upon those literary men who were so unfortunate as not to be able to claim the reviewer’s political brotherhood. The first person named as editor, was Dr. Grant, who could not proceed with his duties from an attack of illness. Gifford then undertook a task for which he had from toil the scholarship, the intense virulence from nature, and the vulgarity by early tendencies. He had no scintillation of genius, but was a plodding labourer over books, when not occupied in pushing his fortunes in other ways. How he became tutor of the late Lord Westminster is well known. In his published account of himself, he took care to omit his turf transactions, and his female acquaintances. Weatherby, of racing calendar notoriety, was the chum, at one time, of the tutor of the young nobleman, when he might, at least, be supposed to “affect” strictness. Jockeys and blacklegs were hardly consistent companions for grave tutors. But he was not likely to be over exact in this and other matters
within the circle where he made his débût. The patron’s house was not a bad locality in which to illustrate

I had a clerk, when I was in Devonshire, named John Colmer. He and Gifford were companions at Ashburton, of which place both were natives. They separated when Gifford left off the contemplative trade of the last, to go to the college, whither his early patron sent him. Whenever Colmer came to town, for he had been in trade, he used to go and see his old crony. I questioned Colmer as to his knowledge of any female sent down to Ashburton to school by Gifford. He replied in the affirmative, which decided in my mind all I had heard.

What I learned from Colmer, who did not at all suspect the drift of my questions, had better pass into oblivion.

The coarse mind of Gifford, infused fear into many writers, lest he should mangle them in the “Quarterly.” Gifford was the very antipode of anything poetical, while affecting to be a poet. His love of arithmetic and the betting-book, were hardly consistent with such an affectation. Byron, a peer, so abused by the “Edinburgh,” though not a Tory, obtained the support of Gifford in the “Quarterly,” besides that, Murray, the bookseller, owned the “Review.” Gifford flattered Byron, and the latter in return, handed over his beautiful verses in MS., for Gifford’s “experienced” correction. The critic made such ridiculous, anti-poetic work of it, that Byron could not put up with the emendations, and in his teeth fortunately kept to his first text. Byron wrote:—

“When all is past it is humbling to tread,
O’er the weltering field, of the tombless dead!”

Gifford cobbled these lines as follows:—
“O’er the weltering limbs of the tombless dead!”
Again, at the passage:—
“All regarding men as their prey,
All rejoicing in his decay,
Follow his frame from the bier to the dust.”
he omitted the couplet:—
“Out upon time! it will leave no more
Of the things to come than the things before!”

It is then clear, that the Cannings, Freres, Milmans, Crokers, and other men of talent who contributed, elevated the “Review,” not its editor. Some of the scholarship notices are excellent. A selection of these in three or four volumes, from the mass of high-flown rubbish, and falsified prophecies of national ruin, would be most useful. In its classical articles, the “Review” as far outshone the “Edinburgh” as the “Edinburgh” outshone the “Quarterly” in the truth of its political predictions, and that advocacy of improvement and reform for which its reputation is imperishable.

But I digress. The above subject seems to me not a week old. Time carries no scale of the distances of its spoliations; the more remote often appearing the more approximate.

I met in society many literary characters about this time, some Templars, others collegians, and some pro-
fessional writers. All were men of education. It would have been thought then, that an individual who had not studied, one, in short, without more reading and acquirement than those receive now, who too frequently become in their way instructors without, would not manage an argument in a satisfactory and logical mode, and that to inform and give weight to opinion, men must themselves study and acquire information. There was then an effort to trace effects to their sources, and to meet opponents by an array of facts drawn from research. Hence social converse was more improving than at present among literary men, who really enjoyed each other’s society; their manners, too, were more gentlemanly. Clubs then were pleasant things, ill-exchanged for the sullen silence of the modern institutions so named. At a meeting of this kind, I can scarcely recollect how it happened, an offer was made me to take part in the establishment of a new daily evening paper. To me, the machinery of such an establishment was novel, but that belonged to more experienced hands than mine. The paper was to be named “
The Pilot,” and a main feature to be the discussion of East Indian affairs. The principal proprietor, was Samuel, a barrister, who had been concerned in a paper called “The World,” with Major Topham, of the Life Guards. The latter had long retired to his cottage in the wolds of Yorkshire, while the former, proceeding to India, had become auditor, I think that was the office, to the Nabob of Oude. While in India, Samuel established the “Madras Gazette,” which, on his departure, he let for a considerable income, and brought home with him thirty thousand
pounds. Thus, a newspaper was not a novelty to the chief proprietor.

Samuel wrote with rapidity and elegance, but he possessed little imagination. He left behind him an elaborate volume on courts-martial, written just before he quitted England some years after this, to become Chief Justice of Demerara, where he died. He was of the middle height, inclined to corpulence. His complexion ruddy, with some remnant of the Israelitish feature still apparent, rendering his countenance rather handsome, the midway between the personal of the two creeds. He was singularly generous and affable; in his living rather profuse than otherwise. He wore the invariable blue coat, buckskins, pigtail, and powder of that day. Suspenders were not yet in vogue, and the shirt was invariably displayed above the waistband, rotund gentlemen being continually forced to pull the buckskins up, I see him now, through the long vista of years, in the act of the existing fashionables. He lived in Sloane Street, where I often used to call upon him. He drove a handsome vehicle. I remember he had a French valet, who was a greater man than his master. In Surrey, ascending a steep hill the horses fatigued, the master got down and began pushing the carriage, desiring Louis to descend, but he sat unmoved.

“Dat do for my master, but dat not do for de valet of France: monsieur do if he please. I not.”

Not only did Samuel attack the East India Company in the ‘Pilot,’ he obtained the advocacy of Sir Thomas Turton in the House of Commons, by a series of letters in that paper. But Sir Thomas made his motion in vain on “the most atrocious, shameful, and inhuman
act, that had ever disgraced any government,” to use the words of
Sheridan. The company by placing Azeem ul Dowlah on the Musnud of the Carnatic, abandoned the rightful heir, under vague pretences, to the mercy of the tool they had set up, who was the next by two, if not more remote, in the succession. The victim died in the custody of the favoured usurper, after eight months of severe suffering. The cries of justice towards India from the day of the great plunderer Hastings, to recent minor transactions in Bombay, have been successfully stifled. Recently, the line of the petted Nabob and usurper of that day has been pulled down in his turn. The deposed prince was young, only about twenty years of age. The excuse, false and hollow, was that his father had once corresponded with Tippoo Saib—not he, but his father. One of Samuel’s letters had the following passage:

“About the fifth of April, the mother of this illustrious youth, with agonized heart and frantic feelings, sent the stained and reeking garments of her expiring son to the Chief Justice of Madras, and along with it the imprecations of nature for the dreaded loss of her beloved offspring, laying his death, which now appeared inevitable, with a mother’s wildness at the door of British policy; and calling with widely extended cries for vengeance and restitution. On the sixth, this ill-fated prince was relieved by the hand of death from his earthly miseries, having endured with the patience of a martyr more than a martyr’s sufferings; having never lost, in the feelings of the man, the dignity of the station for which he was intended, and for which he was, by Providence, so well and so peculiarly endowed.”
This is, perhaps, the only fragment remaining of that exposure of those base transactions within human memory, except in the journals of parliament. There is little doubt the prince’s death was accelerated by the tyrant who possessed his throne.

Dr. Maclean, the well known anti-contagionist, had a share in the paper at its commencement, but parted with it soon afterwards. David Walker, a son of the rector of Middleton, near Manchester, held another share, and resided at the house in the Strand, next door to Burgess’s Italian Warehouse, where the paper was printed. The printer, a tall raw-boned Scotchman, named Taylor, was an original character, a “pawky” fellow, as any Scotchman need be. He had won the sixteenth of twenty thousand pounds in the lottery, but this good fortune made no difference in his conduct. He took his own four guineas weekly, was in the office daily a quarter before 4 a.m., and paid the same close attention to his duties until the paper appeared at 3 p.m., on the Saturday. He then paid his men, set his dress in order, and adjourned to a bout of good fellowship with some of his countrymen, until Sunday was well in, though your Scotchman is a great external religionist. Even if his potations were continued into the evening, he was at his post at four on the Monday morning. Each of his men was expected to have his column of type ready by eight o’clock. The papers, it must be recollected, were not then as gigantic as they are at present. The only reporter on the establishment, little required, was named Jenkins. The morning papers supplied most of the requisite reports.

The editor of an evening paper then came at 8 a.m.,
and quitted about 3 p.m., after running his eye over the finished proofs of original matter. He thus controlled the whole political bearing of the paper. When the number of a paper was large, duplicates of the inner form were set up, as the printing press could only supply a certain number per hour. This involved much additional expense.

Samuel, when he gave up all but a few contributions himself, had an Indian friend in Mr., afterwards Sir Herbert Compton, who having run a successful career in the law in India, found it necessary, before he could rise higher, to become a member of the English bar, now, I believe, necessary to any legal practice in the East. He became chief editor of the paper. His history was a singular example of talent, industry, and integrity combined. He remained editor until it became requisite for him to return to the East, after having dined himself into a knowledge of the law here. He became Advocate-General both at Madras and Calcutta, and finally Chief Justice at Bombay. He returned to England, dying in Hyde Park Gardens two or three years ago. He is said to have run away from his friends early in life, and to have enlisted as a private soldier in a regiment ordered to India. There he soon obtained his discharge, and studying the law upon the spot, was permitted to practise, under the old charter. He continued an advocate in the Supreme Court, but there he must have remained and risen no higher had he not returned and entered the Temple. I am often reminded of him by his house in Upper Baker Street, on the same side as the house of Mrs. Siddons, but not half way up from the New Road, all beyond it being then grass land to
Hampstead. He was a stout, rather tall, strong built, gentlemanly minded man, a little marked by the smallpox. In 1828, long years afterwards,
Marsh, once of the Indian bar, wrote some anecdotes of the members of that body. Among them were some of Compton, which were put into my hands by Colburn for the “New Monthly Magazine.” I sent them to the printer, as they were not the kind of matter about which Campbell cared. I thought they did Compton honour. One anecdote is worth mentioning. Sir Henry Gwillim, a choleric Welsh judge, was on the Madras bench. Compton idly drew a pen and ink sketch of the Lion grinning at the Unicorn, over the bench, in the royal arms. Gwillim imagined Compton was caricaturing him, and told him so, boiling with rage.

“You are wrong, my Lord, I assure you, I was sketching the lion.”

“Let me see it, I insist,” said the angry Rhadamanthus.

Compton handed up the sketch, which the judge declared was an intended insult to himself, foaming and distorting his features with anger.

“My Lord,” said Compton, calmly, “I have assured you I did not intend it for your likeness. It is not my fault if your Lordship’s passion makes your face resemble the lion’s.”

Compton, when Samuel undertook the editorship, in his place for a day or two, visited Bath and Cheltenham, and sometimes Brighton, towns new to him. On those occasions he sent us up letters, and light articles of local interest, which drew the attention of the fashionable world to the paper. He generally signed
his letters “Fretful Murmur.” Being at Bath at one of
Rauzzini’s concerts, when the rooms were crammed to suffocation, there were not seats for all the ladies. One bulky dowager dropped herself in stress of ancle, plumb down into the lap of a slim girl, who, pinioned on each side by the others, could not move, and was scarcely able to breathe. Crushed, extrication vain, even prayers, tears, and entreaties useless, she contrived to extract a large pin from her dress, which she applied to the nether side of the hill of flesh that oppressed her. Compton told the tale in rhyme, and Bath echoed with the lines that came down in the ‘Pilot.’

I remember gentleman Lewis as he was styled, coming to us occasionally to go and dine at a coffeehouse. They truly called him “gentleman.” He was an excellent companion, and deputy manager of Covent Garden Theatre, a remarkably amiable and contented man. Some relations of his in India, made him known to the ‘Pilot’ people, I forget what the connection was. Lewis shone as Ranger and the Copper Captain among his more prominent characters.

When I quitted town, for an object subsequently explained, I left Compton at his post, his Temple probation not having been completed. He was succeeded by Edward Fitzgerald, who died, in 1823, Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, after twelve years’ residence.

My duties were desultory. They commenced about half past 10 a.m., by a walk into the city as far as Lloyd’s, the great mart of commercial intelligence. I had access by an ivory ticket. From thence, and after looking at American and other papers, I returned to communicate the intelligence of the morning. I delivered all I might
have learned to the office by a little after one o’clock. I had then to prepare what I thought useful for the next day, if Parliament were not sitting; but the compilation part was principally undertaken by David Walker. I wrote light articles to add variety to the columns. There were some topics which none of the establishment would venture to handle, such as complicated matters of finance, for the newspapers then did not spare each other’s errors. I had generally to ferret out writers upon particular subjects, and to secure the desired article by a pecuniary compliment. I well remember getting one or two from
Playfair on a finance question, when the public budget was before Parliament, he being a great authority on finance at that time. I wrote, I remember, some descriptions of Hyde Park scenes, and an essay on Equipages. The well-known W. H. Ireland sent us one contribution, a counterpart to Canning’sElijah’s Mantle,” shewing considerable ability in a pen too notoriously misdirected.

I met the funeral of Opie, the painter, passing up the Strand, on its way to St. Paul’s, and it reminded me that I had an introduction to the painter from the West, but procrastinated calling when I came to town. I deeply regretted not knowing him. How often had I rambled along the wild shores of his native parish, bent over its lofty cliffs, and traced the metallic veins laid bare in their sides by the ever-resounding surf that undermines their base. He had married a second time in 1798, a lady so well-known by her writings. His first wife was a wanton from whom he was divorced.

I remember an instance of her conduct characteristic
of her immorality. I had a relation, a very handsome man from the country, on whose arm she was leaning on the way to Berners Street, where
Opie resided. The artist, with two or three friends, was holding conversation not a hundred yards distant. They were passing through Soho Square, when Mrs. Opie directed my relation’s attention to a certain notorious house there, saying she understood it was a curious place, and she should like to see the inside of it some day, if he would show it to her. Repassing the house with a friend the same evening, my relative, in perfect simplicity, mentioned the lady’s remark, and thus strengthened the previous suspicions regarding her conduct.

Many other characters, the names of whom alone survive, used to drop in occasionally at the office for whose reception there was a handsome drawing-room. One of these was Major Topham, when on his visits to town from the Wolds, having long given up his paper established nearly twenty years before, called “The World.” He wrote the life of Elwes, the miser, several dramatic and political works, and prologues and epilogues, I know not how many, with an account of an aërolite, which fell near his country residence. It was taken up warm, having penetrated deeply into the earth. Topham was a stout, full faced, ruddy complexioned man, with grey whiskers, of middle stature, gentlemanly in manners, with much openness of disposition. He died in 1820.

His attachment to Mrs. Wells, the actress, was singular. It is true I only saw her when much altered by time, and still more by ill habits. She was a fine
woman, but her features were neither handsome nor expressive, and a little marked with the small-pox. She might have appeared well on the stage, but she had long been, in every sense, a faded creature. All her life she had been passionless in matters of the heart, which accounts for her subsequent history. She was the daughter of a carver of some eminence, and married an actor named Wells, who soon after her marriage forsook her. She appeared on the stage subsequently, and became a popular favorite. In one or two particular characters, the town rung with her name.
Topham was smitten with her acting, and she soon left the boards and lived with him in every sense, but the ceremony, as his wife. She bore him three daughters, who were carefully educated, and becoming elegant and accomplished women, married into families of high respectability. She discovered an inclination for drinking, at first secretly, till it became so confirmed a habit that neither Topham nor her daughters could restrain it. Her temper, too, grew ungovernable; at length, even her children were compelled to discard her. She came to London, got into debt, and the King’s Bench, where she so well played her part as to influence a captain in the navy to pay her liabilities. She was soon afterwards arrested again. A Jew, named Sumbell, not only paid her debts, but on her turning Jewess, married her. Soon afterwards, running away from him, he sought her, found her, and they were reconciled. Her conduct afterwards became so bad, that her husband left her in his turn, and the kingdom together.

She next pretended to embrace the Catholic faith,
perhaps to excite the charity of the Romanists, on her desertion of Judaism, but she failed, and became almost destitute.
Samuel, who had a generous spirit, repeatedly sent her sums of money, but would never see her. He told me one day, he feared she was starving, and he should like to give her a few pounds, but he did not know how. I said, “Give me the money, I should like to see so singular a character.” She lodged in Child’s Place, Temple Bar. I knocked, entered, ascended two pair of stairs, and knocked at the second door to which I was directed. It was opened and the lady herself, she who had once so fascinated the town! stood before me, a red-faced bloated creature, the remains of a fine grown woman, with features rather strong and coarse. Such was the ruin before me, the victim of that propensity which in the one sex is so degrading; in the other, so utterly destructive of every trace of the ideal of womanhood, and of present beauty; changing the loveliest object of creation into the foulest, as if to show how deep may become the degradation of the fairest humanity. She contrived to get a speculating bookseller to publish, what she called her memoirs or adventures, and died in obscurity.

Spencer Smith, the elder brother of the hero of Acre, Sir Sidney, and British Ambassador at Constantinople, was another of our friends. He got the paper introduced into the Foreign Office. He was about this time contesting the borough of Dover. He possessed much general information, and was a delightful companion. He had married in 1798, the daughter of Baron Herbert, the Austrian minister at Constantinople, who the year
before, in 1806, had made her escape from Italy, and the French. An account of this escape was published by the
Marquis de Salvo. Her life had been a perfect romance. This lady is immortalized as the Florence of Byron’s Childe Harold.

Sweet Florence! could another ever share
This wayward, loveless heart, it would be thine,
But check’d by every tie, I may not dare
To cast a worthless offering at thy shrine,
Nor ask so dear a breast to feel one pang for mine.

Smith gave me the detail of a most frightful abuse of English law in the ruin of a Turkish captain of a vessel, named Antonopolo, by a London attorney, such a history of professional rascality was hardly ever before equalled, the Turk was got into prison, and his ship and cargo applied to the purposes of his plunderer. The unfortunate man was a total stranger to the country, and in prison would have died, but for Smith’s interference. I put the whole case into the paper. It had been printed the year before, in a series of letters addressed to the Earl of Moira. After 1808, I saw no more of Spencer Smith. Ten years passed away, during three of which I had been absent from England. Wind bound nearly a week at Dieppe in 1818, where I knew no one, and by no means in good spirits, hoping for a change in the wind every hour, I was seated near the sea ruminating at my detention, when a voice near me called out:

“God bless me—what Cyrus Redding!”

A packet had come in with Smith on board. Our congratulations were mutual. We spent the day together.
He proceeded to Caen where he took up his residence, and I believe died.

I visited Johnson, the smuggler, in the Fleet prison, to obtain some intelligence of moment, which we required, and he frankly gave it to me. He was a man about the middle height, no way calculated from his appearance to carry the formidable name he bore. He was enlarged by government, so it was reported, to pilot Lord Castlereagh’s expedition to Walcheren, because he knew the coast better than most pilots. There was a tale circulated some years afterwards, that he had planned to take the late Emperor Napoleon off the Island of St. Helena. I imagine it was an idle story.

Some comments on Major Semple Lisle, although the police had been seeking to apprehend him, brought him to the office. He was charged with stealing a bit of bacon—his life has long been before the public. He was rather tall, a thin pale man, with acute features. In manners gentlemanly, dressed in shabby green; I could not help fancying I saw marks of great suffering in his countenance. I assured him we had no reason to press upon him, our reporter had brought the proceedings as they occurred. He complained of being haunted with charges wholly unfounded, and obliged to secret himself from his creditors, he could not therefore openly meet his accusers. I pacified him. Singular enough, the next day passing where I had not been half a dozen times before in my life, that row of one story bourses at the east end of New St. Pancras Church, I saw Semple Lisle knock at one of them. He observed me, and looked imploringly, so I fancied—I kept his secret. Government gave him at last some
situation at Lisbon, where he was found one morning, dead in his bed.

Little Paull, who was returned for Westminster, and ultimately committed suicide with such remarkable deliberation, placing the looking glass in a position which reflected the part of the throat most eligible for his purpose, and himself opposite to it when he inflicted the wound;—he used to look in sometimes for the purpose of hearing or communicating Indian news. His affairs had become deranged. The Prince of Wales’ party, which had proffered him parliamentary support, having offers of certain concessions from the administration, throw off Paull at the very moment he was going down to open the debate. While he was in Carlton House on his way, the arrangement was concluded, and the prince’s friends, who had before pledged themselves to bear him up with their votes, abandoned him at the eleventh hour; such was the political honour of that time.

The day Paull destroyed himself, it was said remittances had arrived at his house from India, which would have prevented the catastrophe, this could not have been the fact, for as late as 1839, Sir Charles Wolseley told me, at Wolseley, that he had been one of Paull’s securities for the reserved payment for his house in Charles Street, St. James’, and that after his suicide, he had to pay two thousand pounds on that account. Paull was a zealous man, versed in the East Indian affairs, but seemed to know very little besides.

The duel between Paull and Burdett took place in Coombe Wood, near Wimbledon. In that wood there was an ice house overshadowed by five or six venerable
oaks, a bricked conical pit now marks the spot at the back of Coombe House, where I have often since joined pic-nic parties. Burdett the tee-totum of
Horne Tooke, paid here the penalty of his shuffling by getting a shot in his thigh.

I saw the election for Westminster, when Sheridan and Paull were rivals. Among other ridiculous things, a kind of stage was brought from Drury Lane Theatre, supported on men’s shoulders, upon this there were four tailors busily at work, with a live goose and several huge cabbages, they came close up to the hustings, before Paull, amidst roars of laughing. The joke was, that Paull’s father had been a tailor. A voter called out to Sheridan that he had long supported him, but should, after that, withdraw his countenance from him.

“Take it away at once—take it away at once,” cried Sheridan from the hustings, “it is the most villainous looking countenance I ever beheld.”