LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
William Jerdan, “Review Extraordinary” 1812

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
Creative Commons License

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

Poetry may be said to delight in fiction: creation, as the word implies, is its chief object. Soaring on the wings of fancy and imagination, new worlds and new beings present themselves to the poet’s phrensied view. To the realities he adds all the possibilities of existence, and, unsatisfied pedestribus historiis, with plain narrations, in which only human actors and human exploits are exhibited, he enriches his scene and interests the reader by the introduction of preternatural beings. Homer could not sing the contentions between the Grecian and Dardan hosts, at the siege of Troy, without elevating his subject by associating divinities with heroes, and forcing the gods themselves to bear a part in the mighty conflict. He employed the popular superstitions of his age to impart a grandeur and solemnity to his theme, selecting from the mythology which then prevailed the machinery of his immortal Iliad.

The divinities of Greece having been transported to, and worshipped at, Rome, the Latin epic poets were forced to adopt the machinery, as well as to follow the plans, of Homer—they had little left except to be servile copyists of this great original: but when the Muses began to be courted by our northern ancestors, poetry was obliged to have recourse for its machinery to new superstitions, and to substitute Gothic demons for
Grecian deities: Odin and Thor superseded Jupiter and Mars. In this we are of opinion poetry sustained no loss. Nothing is perhaps more truly adapted to its genius than the Gothic fictions and manners. The military institutions and customs of chivalry, united with the gloomy theology and fables of the north, which included a system of magic, enchantment, and prodigy, opened a spacious field to the epic adventurer. The old romances, though they wanted powers to cultivate it to perfection, serve to demonstrate to the discerning critic its extensive capabilities.
Ariosto, Tasso, and our Spenser have employed them to singular advantage; and had Homer flourished in the Gothic age, the supposition is not extravagant, that he might have produced a work superior to the Iliad itself, as he would certainly have found more unlimited scope for his genius. In the refined gallantry and military fanaticism of this period there was more of the tender as well as of the terrific, and more to engage the softer affections of the heart as well as to harrow up the soul, than the civil and religious state of ancient Greece presented to his observation, or to his fancy.

We have been led to make this observation, not from what is found in the work before us, but from the circumstance of no effort having been made to enrich its pages from these sources. Its claim to public approbation rests not on the exploits of the heroes of antiquity; it is derived from the exertions of those who have figured in modern times. Saying this, however, we do not wish to be understood to assert that its pages are occupied with the frivolous occurrences of modern life, or with the insipid anecdotes of fashionable folly, which have of late swelled almost every new publication. If, however, it has not those deeds of “high emprize,” of which the lovers of romance are so much enamoured, sung in never-dying strains, and if it cannot boast of that fashionable chit-chat which is so ardently admired by the readers of modern novels, on the other hand it avoids that disgusting bombast which frequently attends an attempt to celebrate the former, and that atrocious slander which is too generally the characteristic of the latter. If it is to be censured as wanting that animating fire and fascinating vivacity usually sought for in works of that description to which we have alluded, it possesses nothing that can be regarded as insulting
to common sense, nothing to put female delicacy out of countenance.

This work is understood to be compiled by Mr. Hoffman, a gentleman well known in the literary world, and who has been for some time regarded, if not as a rising, at least as a stationary genius. The present is, certainly, not his greatest work; but we are happy to say, that comparing it with his former productions of the same cast, we cannot discover that there is any falling off.

While we bear testimony to the merits of this work, as in no way offending against the purest morality, we cannot but admit that there are parts which, in our opinion, would admit of considerable improvement. It, however, affords us no small satisfaction to find that one work, at least, has been produced in the present day, in which, besides being recommended by the circumstance of its being not only free from nonsense and immorality, but wholly exempt from those errors of style which too frequently disfigure works of merit, from the beginning to the end we have not been able to discover one fault in grammar, or even in punctuation. Its pages are not sullied by one improper, nor even by one inelegant, expression. We cannot say that it is recommended to us by all the fire of Walter Scott; but if it has not the beauties of his style, it is happily free from its defects, and much as we may regret the want of its harmony, we are in a very considerable degree consoled by the absence of its affectation.

We cannot conclude without observing, that this work is in an eminent degree entitled to the praise of consistency, and this of itself is no common merit. No statements are made at the end, which are at variance with anything contained in the early part of the book. Nothing is advanced to influence the thoughtless, or to mislead the ignorant. In no part are we disgusted with an assumption of importance, or of superior information, which is not warranted by facts. It is never attempted to baffle the understanding by an affectation of mystery. We are never perplexed by a series of asterisks, dashes, or initial and final letters, significantly marked in italics. Its contents are in no part unintelligible or even doubtful; but the work is in every part fair, clear, and perfectly plain. With such claims to
approbation, possessing merits so great, and with no faults but of omission, this production, though not all that could be wished, is still of considerable value; and we have no hesitation in recommending it as more harmless than most.modern works of fiction, and as a performance which, if it does not enrapture, does not offend; if it does not convulse with laughter, does not disgust with ribaldry; and if it does not please with novelty of thought, does not excite distaste from impotent attempts at dazzling conceits. Its errors are few, trivial, and unimportant; its beauties, numerous as its leaves, apparent, and perfectly original. The uniformity of its style is unbroken by plagiarism or quotation, and what some hypercritics might challenge as sameness or insipidity is amply compensated by its purity, entire connection, fidelity to its subject, adherence to truth, clearness of conception, and delicacy of execution. These praises are not undeserved; these plaudits not exaggerated; for, reader, the object of this critique is—A blank book.”