LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 13: The Sun

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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But, Oh! remember the indignant Press;
Honey is bitter to its fond caress;
But the black venom that its hate lets fall
Would shame to sweetness the hyena’s gall.—Holmes.
How calm, how beautiful, comes on
The stilly hour when storms are gone.—Moore.

I shall very briefly indeed conclude this sad eventful history, though adorned with the animated and provoking portraiture of myself, exhibited in the preceding chapter. The 800l. mentioned was, alas! all I got for about four years’ labour, at a nominal salary of 546l. per annum. The French Papers were procured under circumstances I have previously alluded to, when single journals smuggled over were frequently purchased almost like pigs in pokes at a late hour in the afternoon, at extraordinary prices; and the contributions paid for were the absolutely necessary articles for every respectable newspaper. The first item was indeed a hard reproach for me to bear—the 800l. representing my right to nearly 2200l., of which I was defeated by a legal distinction; such as often covers villany, though I do not impute it in this instance, because the condition of our banker at the moment (Sir W. Stirling), and the state of the “Sun” account rendered the payment
impossible. But the fact was, that when I proceeded in Chancery to recover this claim, it was referred to a Master, who found that by the deed of copartnery I was entitled to “take and receive for myself the sum of ten guineas weekly as salary;” that I had not done so, but allowed the long arrear to accumulate, and therefore was not legally entitled to a verdict.
Mr. Fladgate, who drew the deed, and Mr. Clarke, who was a party to it (Mr. Heriot, the other party, being in the West Indies), offered their evidence that such a construction was never contemplated and could not be intended; but the Master, on a right principle, said he could not receive parole testimony to overturn the litera scripta, but the case was so hard that he would not pronounce a judgment in it at all. He was not aware that it would have been equally hard to get the money if he had pronounced in my favour; but it would have been a potent instrument for procuring a just settlement of all differences, and as such I greatly desiderated it. The allusion to Mr. Freeling’s friendship may be illustrated by the following note from that gentleman:—

“General Post Office, 19th September, 1815.
Dear Jerdan,

“I could almost be uneasy if I did not know that the world will attribute to your own generous and friendly appreciation of me those two handsome and liberal expressions in which you have indulged yourself respecting me. Be assured, however, that I am grateful for your good opinion, and for the warm and affectionate manner in which it is conveyed.

“Always yours truly,

How I sustained this unequal combat would be a mystery, had I not to record the generous friendship of Mr. Freeling, who was not only cognisant of all I have related, but I may say a party concerned in it; and who, knowing how much I must be harassed under the circumstances, surprised me by one of those acts which are so rare in the world, and supplied me first liberally from his own purse, and afterwards farther by his influence, and thus enabled me to weather the storm. Never can I forget the manner in which he came to my succour. I was hailed at my office-door to step into a hackney coach, and found him proceeding in haste, or apparent haste, to the Post-office in Lombard Street. He said he had not time to call, but wished to put a letter into my hands; and that was all for which he took the liberty to trouble me to come in. He gave me the letter, and set me down in Fleet Street; so the journey was not long, but the enclosure was sufficient to save me from much annoyance, and last a long while!

My legal measures had protected me from having statements or paragraphs forced into the paper against my will and orders; and so far established me in the position upon the faith in which I had entered into the concern: on which Mr. Freeling writes, “I am sure you will use your triumph mildly, and be merciful as you are strong.” But the perpetual worry and annoyance, being in the same room every day with such an adversary, and the discouragement of a sinking instead of a rising “Sun,” at last determined me to make good my retreat on the best terms I could. Mr. Arbuthnot wrote to inquire “how the property of the newspaper stood, and what proportion of it was bonâ fide my own;” the origin of which question is readily traced to such mis-representations as Mr. Taylor dwelt upon regarding my tyranny over his property; and Mr. Freeling assures
me, “In the course of ten days I shall have the opportunity of discussing the whole subject with C. A. and C. L. (Mr. Charles Arbuthnot and
Mr. C. Long). Write a handsome letter directly to C. A.—Yours, F. Freeling.” I had suggested an arrangement, which, if sanctioned, should have been satisfactory to Mr. Taylor, and left the paper under my conduct, respecting which the same kind and active mediator says, “I have been so hampered by arrears of business, that I have not had time to think of the proposal. It is highly important; I will devote half an hour on Sunday.—Believe yours truly, F. Freeling.” Every attempt at pacification was, however, unavailing; and the unceasing ravings and “false facts” of my partner (as indicated in his letters to me in the preceding chapter) grew, by repetition, so irksome, that I lived in a state of great uneasiness as to the impression which unanswered falsities might produce on persons and in places unknown to me. In a few cases where I became aware of such imputations, I took the trouble to meet them; and the annexed letter from Mr. Long will demonstrate the result, which indeed was the same in every instance, as my continued intimacy and increasing friendships with all the distinguished individuals whose names have been forced into the account of this brawl, incontrovertibly proves. Bored almost as much as I was with ceaseless clamours, their conviction of their groundlessness only served to augment the interest they took in my welfare, and my escape from so trying a connexion. Thus Mr. Long:

“Bromley Hill.

“I assure you that as far as my good opinion is at all worth your having, I have never seen anything of you that does not fully entitle you to it; and that opinion could
not be changed by the representation of any adverse party, without my having the opportunity of knowing the points in dispute between you.

“But I am particularly desirous to notice what you say respecting Mr. Arbuthnot. I firmly believe you are under a mistake respecting him; at least, I can truly say that upon those occasions on which I have heard him mention you, nothing has fallen from him which could be construed into the slightest prejudice against you; and if it does exist, I am persuaded it must have taken place since I last mentioned you to him. Upon that occasion I transmitted your letter to him, because it stated fully the grounds on which you made the application, and because I was totally ignorant of the sort of office you solicited; but nothing could be further from my intention than to bring into question any other point.

“I lament the disputes which have taken place between Mr. Taylor and yourself. I know no person more likely to conciliate, if conciliation is practicable, than my kind friend Mr. Freeling, because I know no man of a more just and honourable mind.

“Believe me,
“Yours most faithfully,

From this letter I presume that in my anxiety to get out of the “Sun” into the shade, I had asked for some appointment to light up the latter, in which I did not succeed. At last, in the spring of 1817, the conflict was brought to a conclusion. I was glad to sell my share for 300l., and had the world to begin again.

At the commencement of the year there was, as already mentioned, no address to readers; for what could I truly say
of such a wreck. But it rocked on its unquiet billows, to and fro, with my unsteadied hand at the helm for four months more; when all negotiations being concluded, the dissolution of partnership was announced in the “
Gazette” of the 3rd of May. On the 1st, and several successive days, the following announcement appeared over the leading article:—

“May 1. The patrons of the ‘Sun’ newspaper, the public in general, and the friends of Mr. John Taylor, who has been for nearly twenty-four years intimately connected with that property, are hereby informed that it is now solely in his possession, the late partnership having been dissolved by mutual consent.”

And on the 5th, and following publications, after the Gazetting, another advertisement was substituted, in which Taylor referred to the “London Gazette” of Saturday for the dissolution; and announced his having been “enrolled as a member of the Pitt club, as a pledge for his upholding the principles of the paper, founded under the auspices of the illustrious Pitt.”

This last “dodge” was Mr. Acheson’s cajolery: alas! poor misguided Taylor.

I do not mean to insist much upon the bearing of this transaction on the question of literary liability to greater losses than would attend similar ruinous disputes in other walks of busy life and trade; but quantum valeat, it does appear to me that the breaking up of very few concerns, in any other line of life, would prove so unfortunate to the parties. To take a mere sop as an inducement to retire from a competent annual provision is bad enough, but the evil is aggravated by the particular pursuit of the sufferer. A merchant, or a trader, can readily go from one countinghouse, or from one shop to another of the same kind, with
his share of business connexions to buoy him up; but the author has neither counting-house nor shop to go to; he has to find out some new channel where he can dispose of his talents and wares, and these are by no means either numerous or easily opened. It requires considerable time, under the most favourable circumstances, to establish any thing capable of offering a profitable return. There is therefore a material difference between the classes: in the one the staff is only partially affected; in the other it has altogether given way, and fallen into a slough out of which it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to lift it again.

In my case fortunately the field was not far to seek, though it was merely experimental and unproductive. The “Literary Gazette”* presented a path into the green pasture for which my soul yearned, after the turmoil of politics, and the more incongenial troubles of personal quarrelling. Then it was that the literary pursuits (which I have been so erroneously charged with depreciating) afforded me employment and solace which could hardly have been derived from any other source. I took to them as a Newfoundland dog takes to the pure and cooling water on a sultry day; and I found in them the refreshment I so greatly needed, the plunge and swim-like exercise so delightful to the senses, and the invigoration of hopes and prospects, the reverse of the vexations which had pestered my existence, and the despondency which had clouded my views during the last two years. With such consolations from literature at that period and ever since, I should be an ungrateful defamer were I to utter a syllable against it as a mental balm and source of pre-eminent

* This new periodical had been quoted with approbation in the “Sun” of February 14th, when I had no idea of ever being concerned with it.

enjoyment, although it is neither likely to bring affluence nor even competence in its train.*

Let me not, however, quit the Sun-shine without a momentary retrospect upon some of the habitual visitants, who, during the stormy time, durst still occasionally venture into hot Sun atmosphere. The philosophy of Proby cared little for the outbreaks; but such individuals as Mr. Freeling, Mr. John Stuart, Dr. Croly, Mr. Robert Clarke, Mr. Fladgate, Mr. John Kemble, Mr. Allan Cunningham, and others, gradually refrained from their usual calls, and made them very short when they did happen to drop in for a passing how do ye, and a hasty retreat.

With Allan Cunningham I had been acquainted from his advent to the capital, I think about 1810, and the first poetry he published in London was under my auspices. His signature of Hid-allan was both appropriate to his name and poetical in sound; but he had previously acquired a provincial fame in his native Dumfries, where some curious productions, covered with an incognito almost equal to Chatterton’s at Bristol, as well as some sweet specimens of Scottish song, had settled the destiny of the worthy and gifted stonemason for a literary life. Nature was bountiful to Cunningham. He was a fine manly specimen of the genus homo; had a massive head, with a countenance impressed with intelligence, and a softened air, fine and, when not animated, rather melancholy eye, very rarely found united to so much strength of character; and he was what he looked, a combination of sound judgment, masculine firmness, and that gentler nature in which the feeling of simple and plaintive poetry was enthroned. His genius and

* To avoid surcharging this portion of my narrative with too much of the “Sun” affairs, I have thrown some illustrative letters into the Appendix. See E.

his literary labours, aided by an adjutancy to
Sir Francis Chantrey, to whom and to whose studio he was an invaluable ally, happily sufficed for the wants of a comfortable, unaspiring domesticity, and kept him above the severer trials, though not some of the disappointments which usually attend the class to which he pertained. The friendship of Walter Scott and Mr. Lockhart also contributed much to this fortunate result.

I remember the little piece to which I have alluded gave rise to the exhibition of a laughable trait in my stalwart countryman’s disposition, and his sense of the dignity of the independent muse. There occurred in it a grammatical error, in which “that” was used instead of “who,” or something of equal note, but decidedly ungrammatical. This I pointed out to Cunningham, and was proceeding to correct it, when he snatched the paper out of my hand, with “Na, na, I will allow nae man to alter ma poetry; be it grammar or no grammar, it shall joost stand as it is!” and stand it did. But more of honest Allan, and others I have mentioned, anon.

John Kemble, glorious John, was to his intimates a treasure, and though something of his sepulchral tone could generally be distinguished in his convivial hours and conversation, he was off the stage as different from John Kemble on the stage as it is possible to imagine. This is seldom the case with eminent performers; but in him the stately majesty of tragedy was left on the fall of the curtain, and within half an hour after Richard had been himself again, John Kemble, with some pleasant companions, was also himself again! He had a grand gusto for the society he liked, and his enjoyment of it was contagious. Of many memorable instances, I shall give two or three to exemplify my reminiscences; premising that his fine classical culti-
vation and critical acumen rendered him as oracularly instructive when in that vein as he was socially delightful in his merrier moods.

What a word it is that I have so often to repeat in this work—“I remember”—“I remember” I remember John Kemble in his happiest hours. I remember one night being in the front seat of the stage-box at the theatre, and witnessing his Coriolanus with that intense admiration which fixed and transported me from beginning to end. The next day, he happened to call, and I expressed to him the delight I had received, adding, that frequently as I had seen him in the character before, I had never thought that he played it to such absolute perfection. “And I will tell you the secret,” he responded. “I caught your eye, on my entering the stage; I knew I had got you, and I performed Coriolanus to you, as if quite insensible of any other audience.” I observed, then, it was no wonder he had fascinated me; and he explained what I daresay our greatest tragic actors would corroborate, namely, that the performer was curiously sensible of the sympathies or the negligences of his hearers, and that his temperament was often so keen and excited, that the slightest symptom of having failed in producing a desired effect, was enough to damp his efforts for a whole evening; whilst, on the other hand, a merely vague consciousness that he had fastened, were it only one spectator to his chariot-wheels, imbued him with a strong spirit to execute his task to the utmost of his powers. According to this dramatic canon, we may account for the marked difference, as far as excellence is concerned, between the acting of the best artists on one night and another.

In comic theatrical criticism, I remember no one superior to Kemble. The description he gave me of his Reuben
Glenroy, in one scene a poor fellow in Wales, and the next a millionaire on the Royal Exchange, without the public discovering any discrepancy, was a rich and humorous treat, enough to set the table in a roar. His remarks on the Timon of Athens by a celebrated contemporary were no less egregious and irresistibly laughable. But there was always much fun and a spice of sarcastic humour in him which those who never met him in private circles could not imagine in the stern tragedian and noblest Roman of them all.

To generous wine he was no enemy. I remember he was one of a party of four made up by Mr. R. Clarke, Mr. Taylor (I think, or Mr. Fladgate), and myself, who hired a glass-coach to carry us to Hampstead, and dinner with Mr. Freeling, who then resided there, on account of the indifferent health of his lady. As might be anticipated, we spent a most agreeable day, and were sorry when the hour of departure (somewhat sooner than usual, on account of the invalid) arrived. The carriage was at the door, we had descended into the lobby, and hatted and cloaked ourselves, and bid “good night” to Mr. Freeling, on the top of the stairs, when we suddenly missed our companion. No Kemble was forthcoming, and yet we waited a considerable time, whilst the servants sought him “that night” as they did the poor bride in the Old Oak Chest (so pathetically sung by Mr. Lane, the charming lithographic artist), and with no greater success. So, as we could not stop till “they sought him next day,” we reluctantly gave him up, wondering what could have happened to him, resigned him to his fate, whatever it might be, and drove away. All the ensuing forenoon we were full of surmises and speculations, and not devoid of some uneasiness, now that the after dinner roseate spirits had been slept upon, when our host favoured us at
the office with one of his customary calls. From him we learnt that our great comrade was alive and well, and the history of his disappearance was thus explained. When Mr. Freeling returned for a moment to the dining-room we had left, the lost Kemble stepped majestically forth from behind the door, and exclaimed, “Frank, my boy, that claret was too good for those fellows, and I have stopped behind to enjoy a cool bottle with you!” The claret was produced, the butler received conditional orders, and after sipping a glass or two, Mr. Freeling stole off to the invalid chamber, leaving his unobservant guest, who had got into a brown study, to enjoy his reverie and cool claret together as long as he liked. I am inclined to think he did not “awake, arise,” in aught like a hurry. He stood the consequent bantering with much good humour, and, in return, pitied us for what we had missed.

I remember another still more entertaining expedition, wherein the soul of his good fellowship shone forth in a still more grotesque and amusing manner. We had a very pleasant trip down the river in the Admiralty barge, on the invitation and under the command of a fine old British officer, Admiral Schank. The sail was delightful, and the company assembled select, and well disposed to make the most of so pleasurable an excursion. After touching our farthest point, the prow was turned homewards, and we sat down to a splendid feast, and not the less gracious from discarding all ceremony and etiquette, and adopting the joyous hilarity of the naval service. After this fashion, we had not only toasts and speeches, but songs to enliven the jovial scene; and there is no denying the great fact, that we were nearly all in the condition which sailors denominate three sheets (or some phrase of that sort) in the wind.


The jolly old Admiral kept up the ball with the liberality of a Bacchus; and the effects of his near neighbourhood, in proposing and passing bumpers, had told with certainty on Kemble, who was so close beside him, that he could not shirk the glass, if he had wished it. But the wines, like Mr. Freeling’s, were not of vintages to be disregarded; and as well as I can recollect, Mr. Kemble sung a song on the occasion in a very creditable style, though not quite so well as Braham or Incledon might have done it. But the crowning whim was, that by the time we had drunk our way, say from the Nore to off Greenwich, he had misconceived the Admiral, in his uniform and epaulettes, to be the landlord of a capital tavern; and clapping him on the shoulder, bid him never mind the disparity of rank or condition, but when he came to London, he should be very glad to see him in Great Russell Street. The invitation was repeated more than once, amid roars of laughter from the company, Kemble still clapping his fancied Boniface on the back, and assuring him that he was one of the best fellows he had ever sat down with, and that he should indeed be exceedingly happy to see him at his own house. I believe the parting toast was, “Merry days to honest fellows,” and a merrier one than this it never was my good luck to enjoy.

Mr. Kemble took leave of the stage in Coriolanus, on the 23rd of June, 1817, and the event created the strongest sensation I had ever witnessed, or thought it possible could attend a dramatic incident, however interesting. The heat of the weather was excessive, the house crammed; and every passage that could be applied to himself and the circumstances of the evening, was seized with ardour, and most vehemently applauded. When Coriolanus has to say—
As soon in battle
I would before thee fly, and howl for mercy,
As quit the station they’ve assigned me here,
the shouts were tremendous, and the cries, “No! No! Do not quit!” were repeated from a thousand throats. His farewell was delivered in a most touching manner, and reproduced in a few minutes, printed on white satin, and handed, with a laurel crown, to
Talma, who was in the orchestra, to cast upon the stage, whence it was taken by Fawcett, to present as a mark of public respect to Mr. Kemble. It was altogether a memorable and affecting scene.

His Essay on the characters of Macbeth and Richard III., in reply to Whately and Steevens (published the same week), proved him to be as fine a critic of the tragic in Shakspeare, as I have described him to be humorous in his comic remarks upon other dramas.

On the 27th, a farewell dinner was given to him at Freemason’s Tavern, when Lord Holland took the chair, surrounded by numbers of the nobility, and nearly all the eminent poets, artists, and literary men of the metropolis. A splendid vase was presented to him, and an Ode by Campbell performed. Talma spoke.

Talma, soon after his return to Paris, where the playgoers were angry at his long absence, performed “Coriolanus” at the Theatre Français; and when he came to the line
Adieu, Rome; je pars—
a sharp voice called out from the parterre,
Pour les départements—
which set the house in a roar (as much as a French
audience can be made to laugh), and reconciled the opposition.

I am told, by the by, that in America there is almost, at least in some parts of the Union, a similar fastidiousness and aversion to the outward and visible sign of being much entertained. It is told of one of our most comic actors, on his American tour, that he considered it the highest compliment paid to him in the country, when, one night after his performance, a representative of this class addressed him with, “Well, stranger, I guess you had almost made me laugh at some of your nonsense.”

Having mentioned Sir James Macintosh also, in a preceding page, I will take the opportunity of this retrospective glance to place on record a floating, and hitherto imperfectly told, anecdote relating to him.

About the time of the trial of O’Quigley, who was hanged at Maidstone, for treason, in 1798, some articles appeared in the “Morning Chronicle,” apparently reflecting on Fox. Dr. Parr read them, and was much displeased. He attributed them to Macintosh (not then Sir James) because they contained some literary criticism or remark which Parr thought he had communicated to Macintosh exclusively; in point of fact, he was wrong, as it turned out in the sequel that Macintosh had nothing to do with them; but while in the state of wrath which his belief that Macintosh was the author occasioned, he (Dr. Parr) and Macintosh dined together at the table of Sir William Milner, in Manchester Street, Manchester Square. In the course of conversation, after dinner, Macintosh observed, that “O’Quigley was one of the greatest villains that ever was hanged.” Dr. Parr had been watching for an opening, and immediately said, “No, Jemmy! bad as he was, he might have been a great deal worse. He was an Irishman; he might have been a
Scotchman! He was a priest; he might have been a lawyer! He stuck to his principles—(giving a violent rap on the table)—he might have betrayed them!”

The made-up addition to this philippic, living only “on the lip,” has converted the third branch into, “He was a turncoat; he might have been a traitor!” Or, “He was a traitor: he might have been an apostate.”

About this time Parr, who was in constant correspondence with the publisher, Mr. Mawman, who was present, and from whom this accurate version of a remarkable anecdote, so much valued for its sarcastic force, as unsurpassed in language, is recorded, said, “I do not like Macintosh; he is a Scotch dog. I hate Scotch dogs; they prowl like lurchers, they fawn like spaniels, they thieve like greyhounds; they’re sad dogs, and they’re mangy into the bargain, and they stink like pugs.”

It is a curious comment upon this national charge (and would have delighted Parr beyond measure to know), that Macintosh’s paramount enjoyment of a hot summer day was to lie on a sofa (in Cadogan Place, as I recollect in his latter years), and, almost in a state of Indian nudity, be manipulated from head to heel with the flesh-brush. A good new novel, to read while the operation was going on, made the luxury complete.

Having thus corrected the story of this venerable literary collision from the genuine source, I will conclude the miscellaneous portion of this chapter with a correction I have received myself, relating to an anecdote in my preceding volume, the addenda to which are so happily in tone with the humorous recollections I have endeavoured to sprinkle over my work by way of relief, that I copy the whole with a pleasure that I trust my readers will share with me. For, indeed, telling the jokes of past times, I find, involves a
more serious responsibility than I was aware of; and I feel I must be on my guard in respect to dates and names, birth, parentage, education, and other memorabilia of the parties mentioned. Thus, whilst vouching for the true reading of the
Macintosh onslaught, I have to cry peccavi (or, as a late worthy and eminent publisher used to pronounce it, pessavy*) to the inaccuracy which led to the following reproof:—

My Dear Jerdan,

“It is astonishing how unjust the world is; your story of Basil Montague and Jekyl is an instance of it: Jekyl no more made the joke than you did; it was made by Serjeant Lawes (Vitruvius), but long before he was a Serjeant. He was a busy pleader, an active junior in great business, a rival of Marryatt; withal a pleasant and facetious man, who said agreeable things and always had a smiling face. The solitary joke that has survived him you (and perhaps others) transfer without scruple to Jekyl, as if nobody was equal to any labour but Hercules. This is great injustice, just like the story of Canning’s statue, which gave rise to a good thing of Curwood’s; but it did not remain with him, but was put to the account of Rose, Thessiger, or some more accredited wit. Curwood was a little senior to David Pollock, of whom you speak, the ugliest man in London. He had a glass eye, which is connected with stories innumerable. He is supposed to be the only man that ever was churched (rather a comical story). He had been appointed Recorder of Maidstone, and

* The same learned Theban, looking out from Charles Heath’s balcony, in the New Road, before the dinner was announced, expressed his admiration of the opposite church, in consequence of the beautiful Cantkarides (caryatides) employed in the architecture.

understood he must attend church and get a certificate of his having taken the Sacrament; so to church he went, and, having staid through the ceremony, he asked an official for the certificate, who informed him that what he had witnessed was not the Communion, but the Churching of Women! When he married, he concealed his transparent eye from his wife, who found it out on dining one day at a friend’s, whose wife was an embodiment of indiscretion, and, somehow, blurted it out that Curwood had a glass eye! Mrs. C. stoutly denied it; the lady as stoutly affirmed it; Mrs. C. quarrelled with her, and went home to ascertain the truth—quarrelled with her husband for deceiving her, which made him go and quarrel with his friend for not keeping his wife’s tongue in order; but there the quarrelling ended, for that dear friend (both yours and mine) quarrelled with nobody, and, in spite of all her faults and absurdities, loved his wife as if she really had been made of one of his ribs; but I shall never get to Curwood’s joke if I go on thus. Soon after Canning’s statue was put up in Palace Yard, in all its verdant freshness, the carbonate of copper not yet blackened by the smoke of London, Justice Gazelee, (better known as Starelee, who tried the cause of Bardwell v. Pickwick), was walking away from Westminster Hall with Curwood, when the judge, looking at the statue (the size of which is heroic, if not colossal,) said: ‘I don’t think that is very like Canning; he was not so large a man.’ ‘No, my lord,’ said Curwood; ‘nor so green.’ In like manner, the only joke I ever made was not ascribed to me, though it was not good enough to ascribe to any one else. I was one day in Gray’s Inn Hall, where, in Vacation, the Court of Exchequer sat in Equity, and
Chief Baron Richards was hearing causes in one corner, the rest of the Hall occupied by loungers and waiters on the
cause-paper; an attorney came to me, and, pointing to Chief Baron Richards, said “‘Pray, sir, is that
Baron Wood?’ ‘Yes, sir,’ said I, ‘but his name is Richards.” Two days after, Denman told me my own mot as the good saying of some anonymous barrister of Gray’s Inn.”

My friend’s epistle recalls, as Old Men’s Tales generally do, other facetiæ connected with Mr. Curwood, with whom I lived on terms of friendly intimacy to the end of his life, and who was both an acute and able lawyer, much esteemed by the Bar, though exposed to jest from a sort of insignificance in appearance and manner. Mr. Fladgate, the solicitor in Essex-street, was one of the Sydney Smith species of wits (who are so rare), and was so prolific in piquant sayings, that, if all were remembered, they might fill a volume. When Elliston was in treaty to become the lessee of Drury Lane theatre, he gave way to more than his usual excitements, and consulting his legal adviser at all hours in no very proper state, Fladgate exclaimed to him, “Hang it, sir, there is no getting through any business with you, who come to me fresh drunk every night, and stale drunk every morning.” Elliston, like Elia Lamb, was easily affected by wine.—But to Curwood. One day, at the dinner-table, a troublesome blue-bottle fly kept buzzing about and alighting on the meats, apparently more attracted to Curwood’s plate than to any other; provoked by this, at last he started up, and, with napkin in hand, pursued the offender to the window and round the room, slashing away at it right and left. There was a call to sit down again and be still, as the chase was disturbing us all; when Fladgate quietly observed, “O, for Heaven’s sake let them alone! I want to see which will beat!” On another occasion, Curwood called upon him on a Sunday forenoon
to propose a walk, and, according to the fashion of the time, when not in professional costume, was drest in a blue coat with bright gilt buttons, and all the rest of his attire, to the very stockings, of bright yellow. The moment he entered, Fladgate jumped from his seat, and pointing to a canary breeding-cage belonging to one of his children, cried, “By Jove, the canary has hatched one of her eggs without our having noticed it!” His were seldom or never puns, but savoured always of the neatness of French touch and allusion.