LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 20: Conclusion

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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Even such is Time, that takes on trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us with but age and dust;
Who in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways
Shuts up the story of our days.—Raleigh.

I am now warned that my task must come to a conclusion, and I have but a few memoranda to prefix to the brief remarks with which I shall attempt to satisfy the winding-up act.

I have quoted a number of letters for the reason I assigned for publishing these memoirs in my lifetime, namely to establish the perfect truth and accuracy of my narrative, whilst my contemporaries remained to contradict my statements, if wrong, and correct my errors where they accidentally occurred.

Among literary projects which occupied much of my attention, was a plan for a Juvenile Library (Colburn and Bentley), to execute which a number of the first authors of the day were engaged, but after some progress was made the design was abandoned by the publishers; in consequence of which several annoying disputes arose between them and the contributors, led to considerable expense, and vexed me
extremely. Notwithstanding all the novelties in this order of literature which have been published since, it is yet an excellent plan, and might be carried into effect very beneficially.*

When the “Gazette” completed its twenty-fifth year, as mentioned in a preceding chapter, its proprietors gave a pleasant dinner-party to its and their friends, at the Freemasons’ Tavern, which was attended by a brilliant intellectual company of about sixty, and “went off” most agreeably and satisfactorily.

I hope that in relating the leading incidents of my busy and varied life, and alluding to the numerous interesting transactions in which my occupation led me to take an active part, I have not far transgressed the rules of propriety by unwarranted laudation of what I had it in my power to do. With a common Scottish provincial education, happily improved by accident, I have put forth no pretence to be

* Another project to make a fortune by was not very literary, but it was curious enough to deserve a notice—it was no less than the manufacture (or transmutation) of soap by a process which would render the necessary article much cheaper, and wonderfully enrich the inventor. Well, it was experimented upon by Mr. Hendrie, one of the best practical and most scientific as well as fashionable perfumers in London, and tried by Messrs. Hawes, the great soap-boilers; and only found to be a delusion, as in a short time the product shrunk back into its original capacity and only showed a larger saponaceous front and apparent efficacy when first operated upon. The recipe was imported from the backwoods of America, where it was declared to be successfully practised, and if any gudewife or housekeeper likes to repeat the experiment in the approaching winter, it is as follows:—“Take 61b. of clean snow and put it in a saucepan on the fire till quite dissolved, then skim off with a spoon any dirty froth that may be on the top. After that cut into small slices 1lb. of the best brown, or any other soap, and add it to the snow-water. Let it boil an hour, stirring it frequently till the soap is quite dissolved, then add a wine-glass full of salt, again stirring it and letting it boil another ten minutes, and pour it into an earthen dish to cool for two days, then cut it out into thin wedges. The longer it is kept the better.” [Quære?] Thus it was asserted, that by the addition of snow and salt, say 1lb. of sapon, 31b. of snow, and a small quantity of salt, 41b. of soap would be formed, solid and very clear, not producing so strong a lather, but exceedingly soft and pleasant to the feel, and washing well.

considered a great scholar; but by voracious reading, unceasing reflection on what I read, and the necessity of forming and delivering opinions thereon, and by a general and free intercourse with the best-informed men of my time, I have believed that I so far succeeded in cultivating my mind as to be competent for the duties of my position in a respectable manner, and to have produced a work which will be found rationally entertaining, useful, and instructive to future generations, who have need to refer to the literary and scientific annals of that considerable portion of the nineteenth century which my labours have embraced.

Were all my writings collected together, they would fill very many volumes; and I know of nothing, not a syllable in the whole of which I have cause to be ashamed. From toils on any great popular scale, I am now most probably released for ever; yet am I ready and willing, if called upon, to put my shoulder to the wheel, with what strength remains, and I trust could exhibit some of the blood of the old racer still. The mens sana in corpore sano at all events sustains me with passive endurance of what cannot be helped or cured; and it is only when health is perilled by troubles hard to bear that I feel myself incompetent to the performance of tasks which ’twere well, for me and mine, were done quickly. Of the shock received by the death of L. E. L., I dare not trust my pen to write. The news stunned me at the time it was told—I fell down insensate—and the memory is too painful for even a line to bewail the sacrifice. No more.

Wellington modestly said—“War is a struggle between commanders who shall make the fewest blunders,” and assuredly the same pithy apophthegm may be applied to auto-biographical writers; and truthful was the observation of an old friend of mine, “Every man begins life with
a measure of what he means to do; but he finds himself, year after year, compelled to cut the stick shorter; and is too often at the last, sadly ashamed of its diminutive size.” I, at least, look back, with melancholy regrets on the poor proportions of my ambitious stick.

For I have lived in a stirring and wonderful period, and the retrospect exhibits such changes and revolutions that a man of ordinary talents and fair opportunities has cause to blame himself, as one wanting in some essential requisites, if he has not employed the former and availed him of the latter, to cleave his way to fortune and station. When I commenced my career, a Capet sat on the throne of France; a chimney at Old Sarum and its “likes,” (as formerly Arundel and Berkeley Castles,) made commoners legislators as the highway to peerages; the King had “friends,” and children were taught Greek and Latin or nothing at all; convicts were hanged by dozens at a time, the laws were deemed perfect, and judges infallible; it took four days to go between London and Edinburgh; and a thousand other things were not as they now are. To have lived from Louis XVI. to Louis Napoleon, is to have seen much abroad; to have lived from stage-coaches and Margate hoys, and laborious paintings, and tedious general-postage, to railroads and steam-vessels, and photographic art, and electric telegraphs, is to have witnessed not a little at home.

The changes in things, small and great, have indeed been a curious example of the “march of intellect.” Such a medley! The Union with Ireland and the Irish unanimity ever since. The introduction of omnibuses and the supplement of cabs, instead of the ancient hackney-coaches. The battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Tobacco-pipes almost superseded by cigars, and the latter protruded from the
middle of the mouth, especially by boys and snobs, instead of the corner, as in the good old, old woman, piping times. Tunnels performing for bridges. Cholera doing the work of small-pox. Grave judges, as in Ireland, taking to be agents and auctioneers for the sale of estates, recommended to purchasers by being encumbered. Police magistrates adding charity commissionerships to their disposal of night-charges and the committal of humane husbands. The Reform of Parliament, and seats becoming more purchaseable, and candidates and electors more corrupt in consequence, so that the reform of reform is the universal shout. The game of Puss in the corner made part and portion of divine worship, and the restoration of the Romish hierarchy under a Wise-man.* Free trade and strikes—Oh, I might go on for a month! * * * So no more at present.

Among my pursuits, I have, for many years, felt a deep interest in the very difficult question of secondary punishments and criminal reform, and written a great deal on the subject. It does not yet seem to have attained a rational and practicable solution; but I cannot regret the time I have spent, nor especially my latest efforts in seconding the meritorious labours in the cause of Mr. ex-Sheriff John Laurie. His pamphlet, describing the proceedings, in which Lord John Manners took a prominent part, is well worthy of the attention of the public and legislature; and reflects much honour upon his benevolence and patriotism, From the Asiatic Society I have repeatedly received

* Cardinal Wiseman about twenty years ago, a priest at Rome, was the intimate friend of the celebrated Angelo Mai, and his coadjutor in learned research into the literary treasures of the Vatican, and translating several oriental works. On account of his learning he was elected an honorary member of the Royal Society of Literature, which distinction he holds to the present day.

thanks, and not a long while ago served diligently upon a committee in which my late excellent friend
Sir Charles Forbes, Dr. Royle, and other eminent East Indians, took active parts—a committee which might he called commercial rather than literary, and therefore one to which I could he of but little use, and where the information I received was out of all proportion to the assistance I could communicate. What struck me most, was the extraordinary absence of data relative to almost every important or interesting question. When, we began to inquire, we found that little or nothing was known or could be learnt respecting the products of the country or the means of converting them into sources of improvement and prosperity. Certain scientific intelligence was nearly the sum total; but where drugs, or dyes, or timber, or other articles of trade could be cultivated to most advantage—or where there really were supplies in different provinces—and how they could be made available for beneficial commerce, was all but blank. As for sugar and cotton—their most advantageous soils, climates, and means of transport, &c. &c., our ignorance was astonishing, Dr. Royle especially, and Colonel Sykes, and others, have since that time thrown considerable light upon several of these investigations; but I cannot forget when the welfare of such an empire depended so much upon an accurate acquaintance with the particulars sought, my surprise and wonder at discovering that the want of knowledge was so profound. We sent orders out for samples of many kinds, and the condition in which we received them (nearly all) was a lesson in Indian affairs. Broken jars and bottles of liquids, crushed baskets and hampers of raw goods, cotton like thistles, and wrack of every sort were submitted for our examination, and if ever order could have been deduced out of disorder, this was the
committee to accomplish the task. Its appointment, nevertheless, was a great step in the right direction; and out of it sprung no small portion of the development of Indian resources now in progress, though far from being pursued with the energy it deserves and demands. China and the Eastern seas will speedily extend the already world-wide area, and kept, as when with his friend Rajah Brooke by such a gallant sailor as
Captain Henry Keppel (who belongs to my theme as a literary man, though more promising, if his country wants such defenders again, to be a Nelson than a Walter Scott,) will in spite of our slowest, snail-like progress, entirely change the face of this richest region of the earth.

The drama has offered too wide a field for me to mingle at any length with the other concerns which have occupied my page. But it received my constant and sedulous attention through all the years of the “Gazette,” and occupied my own pen to a considerable extent as well as my complete personal interest, and the pens of several superior critics. I can now assert on the retrospect, that I do not find one opinion in fifty, either in regard to performers, dramas, or dramatists controverted by the results. To the funds I also contributed my usual aid.

I know not, if, at my birth, some ill-natured fairy whispered, “William, have a taste,” but in the drama, almost as much in the fine arts, bad performances had the same sort of effect in disgusting my mind as immoral actions. The offences, certainly, were of a very different order, but there was a strange approximating dislike to bad acting, bad writing, bad painting, and bad sculpture as to impositions, falsehoods, and rascalities.

Of the poets, whose compositions have shed the brightest lustre on the columns of the “Gazette,” I have said the
least (for though early begun, they have chiefly belonged to later years) of the charming productions of my friend
Charles Swain. And of him and his productions, what can I say to express my affectionate regard and great admiration? Possessed of every quality which can render a man estimable and dear in private life, I consider him to stand in the very foremost rank of our living bards. Sweetness, nature, feeling, pathos, playfulness, power, are conspicuous in his writings, and all the smoke and noise of Manchester have but slightly and temporarily obscured the radiance of his muse or dinned the melody of his song. I am persuaded that but for the circumstance of place, that high as his fame is, it must have been much higher and more universal had he moved in the London sphere. Yet time will right all, and Charles Swain stand among the noblest laurelled heads of the age. Even at the last moment, when this sheet is passing from my hands, I rejoice to be able to add that Manchester has done itself honour in offering a public tribute of its applause to the bard who has reflected so much honour upon it. A splendid entertainment has been appointed for the 30th November, at which the liberal representatives of commercial industry, enterprise, wealth, and intelligence will have shown how they appreciate the merits of their gifted fellow citizen, whose fame will last as long as the bronze statues they are erecting.

How I might dilate on these wonders and the other overwhelming discoveries and progress of the age; but so unimportant a being as I am, must leave the glorious and philosophical view of such themes to the master-spirits, some of whom I could conjure by name to do justice to so immortal an undertaking. I will but notice that since 1780, the persons who have appeared on the stage here and elsewhere, are perhaps not more eminent (indeed
generally rather less so) than the distinguished men of former times; hut the historical events have been more striking, and the discoveries in arts and sciences, and the practical application of them to the useful purposes of life, have been so immeasurably superior to what was done before, that we seem at the commencement of a new era. The
younger Pitt was probably a much greater man than his father. Wellington I should put on the same level with Julius Cæsar, and Scott and Byron are on a par with any that ever went before them; but the general diffusion of knowledge has made it requisite that eminence should be very great to be conspicuous. Formerly stars shone in the midnight, now there is a twilight abroad which eclipses all but the brightest shining ones. What will it be when the full blaze of day shall appear? The events connected with the history of France during the last seventy years surpass in historic interest, and in the materials for philosophical speculations, any other period of the same duration in the history of man, and finishing (as it does) with the election of Louis Napoleon as a Republican President, and his becoming an Emperor within two years, baffles all foresight, and even speculation. The absence of European war is a most remarkable fact. My own impression is, that ere long the bulk of the community will directly, as here, or indirectly, as elsewhere, have such a voice in the public affairs, that no one shall ever see universal war again, threatening as the aspects now are. Those railways are the bands that will “bind the kings with iron,” and compel them to observe peace and allow “The Progress.”

In practical science immense strides have been taken, as, for instance, in the doctrine of polarised light yet in its infancy, though it has produced such beautiful and splendid results, at once gratifying and astonishing, especially when
assisted by the microscope; and on the advance of the mechanical arts alone a volume of eulogy might be written.

One who has lived to see the Sun made a Painter, Light a Chemist, Vapour a Coachman and Carrier, and Electricity a Postman, may yet even at a patriarchal age, live to see strange things!

But why have I even so hastily glanced at these marvellous improvements and the roads they have in all probability opened to yet greater discoveries to come! It is because, when I merely cast my eyes towards it I feel the more sensible of my own insignificance, and would fain close this book with a sincere and contrite apology for having written it.

There is one other name, among others, which I should like to mention in this volume. Above twenty years ago, my relative, Professor John Blacke, came to London with even then the reputation of being devoted to literature, and an excellent scholar, speaking Latin, German, Italian, and French as fluently as his vernacular: also well versed in Greek, having studied under a native, and thus mastered the modern with the ancient tongue. Only three years before he was intended for the Scotch church, but now, having his mind enlarged by foreign education, his views were directed to a professorship and the literary life he has since pursued, and in which he has so pre-eminently succeeded as to be one of the most distinguished ornaments of the University of Edinburgh, and a scholar whose reputation is even more than European, both as regards German and Grecian literature.

Autobiography as it ought to be, was defined by a great man as “a portrait of the mind of the writer,” and, in order to come somewhat within this canon, I have not hesitated
to give such truthful lineaments as occurred to my pencil, though I was not artist enough to paint a complete picture; and yet I fear that these traits will naturally expose me to the criticism which all such revelations risk, namely, the imputation of egotism. But this feeling has hung over my whole work like a cloud, and I have only got through it by the conviction that it is a blemish quite inseparable from this class of composition. At its close, I cannot help applying to myself the vain-glorious and flattering unction of
P. P., clerk of the parish, and, sensible how liable I have made myself to the charge, I take the liberty to anticipate the good-natured quotation.

“Now were the eyes of all the parish upon these our Weekly Councils. In a short time, the minister came amongst us; he spake concerning us and our councils to a multitude of other ministers at the visitation, and they spake thereof unto the ministers at London, so that even the bishops heard and marvelled thereat. Moreover, Sir Thomas, Member of Parliament, spake of the same unto other Members of Parliament, who spake thereof unto the peers of the realm. Lo! thus did our counsels enter into the hearts of our generals and our lawgivers; and from henceforth, even as We devised, thus did they!”