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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
William Jerdan, “Historical Sketch of the Enneabionians,” Literary Gazette 1817

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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“‘Long were to tell
What I have seen——’

“One day in summer, being determined to visit my friend C——, at Richmond, I took a seat in the stage-coach at the White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly, selecting, after minute inquiries, the most steady coachman, as is my general rule, by which, though I have travelled as much as a thousand miles within the last ten years, I have only been overturned fifty-four times, videlicet:—

By the linchpin’s being loose 5 times.
By the wheel breaking 1
By driving against posts 3
By driving into ditches 3
By the axle-tree breaking 2
By anti-attrition 6
By horses foundering 11 1/2
By horses running away 1/2
By racing, and against other coaches 22
  54 times.

“This I note (as all travellers ought to convey useful information) for the benefit of the public, that others, by imitating my prudence, may escape those severe accidents which are so common, and journey as much as I have done with no greater injuries than have be-
fallen me; that is, a collar-bone dislocated, a leg and arm broken, ancle sprained, eight or nine contusions on the head,* and but slight bruises over all the rest of my body.

“Owing to the precautions taken, we arrived safely at the end of Fulham Bridge, where it is deemed expedient to water the horses, lest they should resent the abnegation of their simple beverage, when the view of the Thames must convince them that there is no necessity to want. The driver, being more rational, is not in the habit of drinking water.

“While waiting for our second start, I could not help being witness of a scene of great cruelty. Several ruffianly boys were tormenting a poor cat, which seemed nearly dead from ill treatment before I had time to interfere in her behalf, and when I did, the young barbarians threw their victim into the river, and ran off to avoid punishment. I rejoiced to observe that their malice was disappointed. Puss, carried down by the stream, swam as if she had finished her education in one of the newest-fashioned Ecoles de Natation, and landed happily in a private ground below the bridge, and out of the reach of her persecutors. Here she licked herself dry, and began to gambol about as if

* It was upon one of these occasions that my witty companion, poor Punning, lost his life. His skull was fractured, and the surgeon at Launceston proposed the trepan. “Oh,” quoth Punning, “I have been trepanned already;” meaning into a “Fastfiier;” but the surgeon understood him literally, and, thinking it dangerous to repeat the operation without further advice, postponed it till too late. While the surgeon was consulting the physician, his brain became more affected than usual, and he died, deliriously repeating,

“Sunt quos curriculo pulverem Olympicum
Collegisse juvat, metaque fervidis
Evitata rotis . . . .
. . . . evehit ad Deos,”

nothing had happened. ‘It is well for you,’ said I, as the coach drove on, ‘that you have nine lives.’

“The day was sultry, and the conversation within our vehicle as dry as the weather. My companions being also lusty, I was squeezed into a corner by a fat lady, whose pressure produced the soporific effect of shampooing* and, in many ways overcome, I had just dropped into a doze—into which the adventures of the cat were being rapidly transferred to human creatures—when the coach suddenly upset, and by a rattling concussion of my brain laid me along, insensible to external objects, but busy in developing those within. In short, my journey terminated, and my travels began. I found myself, after a stormy voyage, and tedious peregrinations, fairly set down in the interior of the Blue Mountains, and in the midst of an utterly unknown people in the centre of New Holland, called the Enneabionians, as their country bore the name Enneabionia. They were rather a dwarfish race, the tallest among them not exceeding four feet six inches in stature; and I thought, were they hostilely inclined, that I should be able to play a tolerable stick among them before they got me clown. But there was no occasion for apprehension; the inhabitants welcomed me as kindly as the Armatans did a ci-devant Lord Chancellor, who has taken to the allegorical circuit since he left off the Northern and Home, in travelling. It would be impertinent to dwell upon the hospitality of my reception, and the natural chain of events which gradually unfolded to my observation the character of this singular and interesting nation. They differed in appearance from other men only in one extraordinary feature, the mouth. I

Vide Hawksworth, vol. ii., page 63, for an account of the soporific effects of tooge-tooge, or shampooing, as practised in Otaheite, the Tonga Islands, &c., &c.

had seen strange phenomena among my fellow-creatures—feet of an inch-and-a-half in Chinese ladies, waists squeezed into inverted cones in English beauties, and ——s of enormous dimensions in Hottentot Venuses, but so wonderful a sight as an Enneabionian mouth it had not entered into my mind to conceive. Every man, woman, and child of this blessed nation has ten thin lips, occupying almost the whole allotment of their faces from their nostrils to the peaks of their chins. And what rendered this still more astonishing to me at first was, to observe that the real mouth appeared to be placed indifferently between any two of these labial conformations, from the highest to the lowest. I was not aware at that time that this neither arose from accident nor chance, but was indeed the consequence and index of the most important events in the lives of this people. Yet I soon perceived that great consequence was attached to this matter. The common salutations on meeting were, ‘I hope your lips open high;’ ‘How do you mouth?’ and their taking-leave and good wishes were of the same nature, such as, ‘Etua [their god] keep up your lips!’ ‘May your last lip never come!’ ‘Heaven close your under lips for ever!’ ‘High mouthing to you!’ ‘May your nose know your mouth ever, your chin never!’ &c., &c.; to divine the meaning of all which I was long sorely puzzled, as well as with their expressions of pity towards me, ‘Poor wretch, he has but one mouth!’ Not to keep my readers in suspense, I will inform them now, that this cluster of mouths is the necessary appendage, sign, and endowment of a race of individuals who really possess, as we idly allege of cats, nine lives. Yes, happy nation! little need they fear dangers and fatal accidents, with such a bank of vitality to repair the losses, and wastes, and perils of humanity. A forty-eight-pound shot through the body, only drops the mouth
one lip lower, and each seems qualified to exclaim, with Sin in ‘
Paradise Lost,’—
“But death and I
Are found immortal.’

“I will, however, draw a figure, to render this prodigious physical secret clear to the meanest capacity.


“Suppose this an Enneabionian mouth with its ten lips. When a child is born its mouth is at No. 1, and all the lower lips are as it were hermetically glued together, as close as those of lovers; but should it be killed, either by the carelessness, overstuffing, or overlaying of its nurse (as is not more uncommon in Enneabionia than in England), the upper compartment instantly collapses, and No. 2 opens. Thus do the mouths shut and open in succession to the lowest, as lives are lost, till at last the term of fatalities brings down the account to No. 9, and the stroke of Death is final, and with his last lip’s close, the Enneabionian expires, or according to the phraseology of the country, ‘is chinned,’ if he be killed, or ‘chins,’ if he die a natural death. They laughed at me when I told them we had a phrase in our language, when a person is sorely distressed,
saying ‘he is down in the mouth;’ but one of the greatest philosophers of Enneabionia entered into this subject with the devotion its importance merited, and before I quitted the country, published a treatise in two volumes folio, which proved as clearly as is usual under such circumstances, that Great Britain was originally an Enneabionian colony; but what I liked worst in this learned work, was an argument founded on the fitness of things, which went to show that these colonists must have been convicts, and that the return at present to Botany Bay was the natural consequence of a moral balance. Their funeral ceremonies are very curious; but I shall not stop to notice them at present, thinking it more eligible to give my readers some insight into the manners and habits inspired by the possession of such inestimable privileges.

“To do this, I cannot pursue a better course, than to describe an entertainment given by the chief persons of the town of Ninepins, to which, as a stranger, I was politely invited, and the company present on the occasion. It was astonishing to see with what assiduity the whole party attached themselves to the business of the table. Had I not had some faint idea of it from the manners of my own country, I should have supposed that the Enneabionians had no other care in life but to eat and drink. The anxiety with which they watched the removal of the covers, and the greediness with which they gobbled up the tit-bits of one dish after another, exceeds any belief which I may expect to obtain in this temperate country.* For two hours did they

* There was one clever rule observed here, which I note down for the benefit of my gormandising countrymen in London and elsewhere. Every person began by being helped to the dishes most distant from him, by this means reserving those more within his reach for the conclusion of the meal. Verbum sat., the Lord Mayor’s day will soon arrive!

stuff and wallow, and I could only account for their intemperance, by knowing, that as they have but very imperfect notions of a future state, they place all their happiness in present sensual gratifications; and I also remarked that my companions had no time to lose, for wonderful to relate, with the exception of one man, who had a Up to come, they were all reduced to their last mouth, though several were young and middle-aged people.

“My expressions of surprise at this strange circumstance led the way to the after-dinner conversation, and it will be received as a proof of the politeness of this people, when I tell, that to gratify my curiosity, each individual in turn narrated the chief events of his life by which he was brought so low in the mouth.

“‘I am, as you perceive,’ said our entertainer, ‘a man of good fortune. Born to the inheritance of the largest estate in this parish, I was reared with the utmost care. I was the idol of father, mother, and all the household, yet what will appear most extraordinary, I lost six lives before I was six years old. Although my mamma was a fashionable lady, she resolved to set a bright example to mothers, and nurse me herself. Yet, as she could not wean herself entirely from her accustomed pleasures, I was frequently neglected, and died twice before she weaned me. Maternal duties and fashionable pursuits cannot assimilate. Terrified at my lipping, a nurse was hired for me, and one of the finest peasants on our estate was selected. She was healthy and good-natured, but she had a child of her own, and through their stolen interviews I was rendered so weakly, that I fell an easy victim, first to the Quugh-whu-u-u-Quugh (their name for the hooping-cough), and next, to the variolpogs. In my fifth year I was killed by a fall from my father’s favourite hunter, upon which his favourite groom placed me,
to teach me to ride, and not six months after was frightened to death by a trick of the nurserymaid, who disguised her sweetheart as an infernal ill-looking ghost, lest seeing him in his proper shape, I should blab to my mamma. It was some consolation to me when I grew up, to learn that evenhanded justice visited this vestal, who became in due time the mother of the most monstrous and diabolical imp that was ever preserved in spirits in the academy of natural philosophy of Enneabionia. From this period I was tolerably lucky; but at nineteen, having been sent to the capital, I died from dissipation, and being not long after shot in a duel, arising out of a frolic adjourned from the Fum lobby of a theatre to a bagnio, I thought it high time to return to my paternal acres, and take especial care of my last lip, which I have now done for above sixteen years, and so comfortably (I am not married) that my only apprehension is told by the poet, when he says—

“‘How swiftly glide our flying years!
Alas! nor piety, nor tears
Can stop the fleeting day!
Deep-furrowed wrinkles posting age,
And death’s unconquerable rage
Are strangers to delay.’

“‘Your history is not uninstructive,’ quoth the Vicar, taking up the story, ‘mine is more monotonous, and may be sooner told. By the accidents of childhood I died only twice; but the balance between us is made up by my decease four times during the four years I was at college; in the first instance, from contracting a malady respecting which I did not like to consult the doctor; in the second, from catching cold one night that I could not get in at my chamber window; in the third, from a disorder induced from want of exercise, while fagging for my degree; and
in the fourth, (said he, looking hard at the Squire,) by a hard fall down-stairs, prepared for me with soft-soap by my pupil in revenge for an imposition, the recompense for which death was my present living.

“‘Some, raised aloft, come tumbling down amain,
And fall so hard, they bound and rise again.’

“‘Since my induction I have died naturally of plethora and apoplexy, and have now only one life at the service of my patron and my parishioners.’ These last words he accompanied with a low bow round the room, which was acknowledged in a bumper toast by all present, and the physician next thus addressed us:—

“‘More fortunate than the generality of men,’ said he, ‘I arrived at years of maturity without the loss of a single life. At twenty-one I graduated regularly as a physician, and the lip of my birth-day was still open. What a prospect of immortality! I took the most rigid precautions to avoid every danger and every disease, But alas! in the early part of my life I was poor: it is a long and trying probation before our profession acquire a name, practice, a carriage, and wealth. My first life was sacrificed to a mere casualty. A slight indisposition which I felt alarmed me, and I prepared a medicine to take on going to bed; but unluckily sent it to a patient in a mistake, swallowing the strong drug I intended for his desperate case. They were of opposite natures, and we both lost a lip. Poor fellow! his was his last! This threw me into a lowness of spirits, and the terror which a knowledge of the human frame inspired in me when I was the least unwell, literally destroyed me three times by three separate nervous fevers, which anybody else would have escaped. Now, in the middle of my course, though yet young, I got into full practice; for the
long preservation of my own lips had inspired much public confidence in my skill, which, once established, did not diminish with the number of my lives. I caught, however, a putrid fever in attending the Duke of Norris, which cost me one lip; another I lost, together with my left arm, as you see, through a slight puncture which I received in my little finger in opening the infectious body of Lord Cadaver; and a third closed from my being blown up while attending a chemical experiment of my friend Mr. Gasote. Thus reduced, in little more than ten years, to my penultimate lip, I thought it high time to settle for posterity, and accordingly married a sickly lady, but of very large fortune. She wedded me for my physic; I loved her for her riches; and we might have gone on as decently as can be expected in the marriage state, but that she sacrificed all her own and one of my lips to jealousy. Even my last would have gone with hers; for so desperate was this infatuated woman, that she mixed poison in our common cup, but on the first symptom I discovered the cause, and hastily administering an antidote to myself, I left to fate Mrs. ——.’ Here a fit of coughing abridged the few words which remained of the Doctor’s memoir.

“‘It is the immutable decree of Nature,’ said a fourth, who, from his loquacity, I before rightly conjectured to be the lawyer, ‘that man should die, and the modus quo he approximates that condition, if not to be may be called a condition, is of no consequence in the eyes of the eternal law. For the terms are convertible; and what is justice is law, and what is law is justice. Therefore no man has a right to complain * * ’ Here a tremendous yawn from the Squire, echoed from the contagious feeling of several of the party, interrupted the speaker; and I observed with astonishment that one or two of these otherwise polite
persons had composed themselves into the most convenient attitudes for sleep. The lawyer took the hint, and as he was not paid for prolixity, declared he would briefly state his own case. I know not how it was, however, but either overcome by the heat of the atmosphere, or some other cause, I fell into a confused slumber, and heard only the following broken passages: ‘Quarrelled about the cause in cross-examining, if witness looked east or west—lie direct—received my adversary’s shot in the back—fell mortally wounded, and no redress by action of battery—overheated by wearing my gown during the dog-days, while so fully employed in a crowded court—requested a silk one, for the sake of coolness—was refused—died broken-hearted. Caught the gaol distemper, in visiting the celebrated ——, to whose villanous deception I attribute the loss of my last lip, and I am only one remove from that mortal event on which a philosophising moralist may say of me, with our immortal bard,’ ‘Where be his quiddits now; his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel?’” Suiting the action to the word, our lawyer gave his neighbour such a rap over the head, as made it clearly a crown case, and ‘roused him like a rattling peal of thunder.’ The whole company started with the din, and a round of toasts ensued before a pale and care-worn-looking gentleman, whose vocation I had in vain attempted to divine, took up the thread of narration.

“‘It is well known,’ said he, ‘what services I have done my country, and all my reward is the closing of eight lips. What I was, and what lives I lost while young, is of no consequence; for it is not till man, mature and active, forms a part of the great social system, that he becomes of any account in the estimation of the statist or economist.’


“‘Oho,’ thought I, ‘a politician!’ and I pricked up my ears, to learn how these wise men acted in Enneabionia.

“‘From seventeen to seven-and-twenty, I zealously advocated the liberty of the people against the encroachments of power. The mere possession of authority converted otherwise amiable individuals into incarnate fiends in my diatribes; and I raved for alterations which I declared would be improvements, and instanced the good effect of destroying all the first-born of Egypt, as a precedent for immolating all the rich and powerful among ourselves.

“‘The experiment was tried in the kingdom of Maniagal, and the horrors it produced made me a convert to the other side. For twenty years I devoted myself to the cause of our rulers; their measures I defended, their wars I justified, their errors I extenuated, their virtues I proclaimed, and their vices I excused, on the plea that whoever supplanted them would be more vicious. The midnight oil and my health wasted together, and several of my lives vanished in this drudgery. The thanklessness of office was my just reward. After six years’ daily attendance, the high behest of a trifling sub-secretary sealed my hopes, and threw me on my own resources, only instructed in this, that there is nothing so unproductive as political labours, on either side, after they are performed. Exhausted and chagrined, esteemed and neglected, praised for talents and steeped in poverty, I retired to this village, where the pursuit of literature is the chase which furnishes my humble board; if it is as scanty as that of the wild Indian, it is also as independent; and while I mourn, I laugh at the anxiety and fury with which I once mingled in the madness of party and the fray of faction.’

“‘I am,’ exclaimed a little fierce-looking man, whose tremendous mustachios had hitherto concealed from me that
he had two lips remaining, ‘a soldier. Ever fearless of danger, I have fought in nineteen general battles, and actions innumerable, with the extinction of three lives added to four which were gone before I entered the army. Mine has been a career of hazard and peril; I never inquired why my sovereign or his ministers ever went to war, but, always praising them when they so determined, rushed into it most resolutely, with all my heart, and all my soul. In the first campaign with the Bonians, I was taken prisoner, and massacred in cold blood; and in the second fell gloriously on the field of Humdrum, bequeathing my exploits to history, which has never mentioned them. In the last short conflict with the pirates of Brenoo, I was unfortunately slain; but our victory imposed terms upon them, which they observed till we were out of sight.
“‘Cowards die many times before their death;
The brave man only tastes of death but once,’
as is evidenced in your condition and in mine, who have more lives in store than any one of you, though I have never shrunk and cringed from my duties as a man.’

“There was yet the tale of a merchant, a farmer, a traveller, and a citizen to come; but the offensive language of the soldier, rendered presumptuous by his two lips, and the excitement of the company, who had not failed to drink deeply during this drama of story-telling, begat a quarrel of the most fatal kind.

“The Captain attempted to draw his sword, which so exasperated his opponents, that, in their resentment, they threw him down and literally beat him to death. My concern was succeeded by astonishment, when I saw his eighth lip suddenly close in an agony of pain, and his ninth as suddenly open in perfect serenity, Reduced to a level
with his fellows, his intemperance and their resentment at once subsided; and I exclaimed with emotion, ‘Ah, gentlemen, I perceive, after all, such is the wisdom and goodness of Providence, that the poor wretch with only one life is just as happy as the Enneabionian with nine.’

“The struggle I made to deliver this sentiment with due effect, woke me from my trance, and I was astonished to find myself lying on Barnes Common, with an old woman throwing some ditch-water in the face of