LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Cyrus Redding, Letter regarding Peter Pindar, in the Athenaeum, 1852

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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Produced by CATH
“St. John’s Wood, May 17.

“In your number of the 8th instant some anecdotes respecting Peter Pindar (Dr. Wolcot) are extracted from the Autobiography of Mr. Jerdan. A previous knowledge of the Doctor by my family induced me, when I came a youth to London, to visit him. From the close of 1805, down to the time of his death in 1819, I spent an evening weekly when I was in London at his house. I remember his sisters also, who were alive in 1813. Mr. Jerdan is not correct in his statements. The facts of his alleged trick on the publishers are these:—Wolcot’s works having a prodigious sale, Walker the bookseller was deputed by some of the trade to offer the Doctor a sum of money, or an annuity, for the copyright of them all. The Doctor chose the annuity of 250l. He had suffered all his life from asthma, but less in his latter years than before. A fit was on him on the day when Walker called about the business,—and the bibliopolist went away, and told (I think) his wife, that the Doctor could not live long, and it might soon be too late to conclude the bargain. The Doctor heard of this, and when Walker came with the draft of the document, he coughed ‘double time,’ on purpose to play off the joke upon him,—and the bookseller naturally hurried through the business. The Doctor used to repeat the anecdote as a good joke against the booksellers. He was not in a ‘dying condition.’ He never ‘wiped the chalk off his face,’ which, with his mahogany complexion, chalk would hardly have whitened,—
nor did he ‘dance out of the room’—neither had he ‘one foot in the grave.’ He used, after he was eighty years of age, to say in jest that he had got the best of the bargain with the bibliopolists,—living so many years more than they reckoned on,—and always concluded by speaking of his cough. He was a man far above such a trick as chalking his face to entrap those with whom he dealt. In money affairs he was scrupulous. He was one of the most open, candid men that ever lived,—fond of a joke, and making one sometimes out of little.—The anecdote of the pension, as told by Mr. Jerdan, is equally erroneous. I had the previous story from his own lips. Wolcot came from Cornwall to London about 1782. He began to write soon afterwards,—and the King’s first fit of illness occurred in 1789, and lasted but a short time. The second attack was in 1811. Wolcot wrote little or nothing worth mentioning after the latter year. The ‘laudable anxiety of Ministers’ to protect the King by pensioning Peter Pindar thus falls to the ground,—though it is true the statement is very generally made. The truth is,—Peter did not offer his assistance to the Government. Mr. Jerdan contradicts himself. If the pension was offered to prevent annoyance to the King, it could hardly have been granted to Peter on his own solicitation! All the world knows that
Charles II. bade a writer, legally attached for a lampoon, to abuse him, and then the ministers would not trouble themselves about his diatribes. Peter was more bitter against the ministry than against the King. He told too many truths of them. He disliked Pitt,—whom he deemed a renegade from his father’s principles, and a tacit libeller of his memory. The first Pitt was the Doctor’s hero,—and his first verses were written to that Mr. Pitt, ‘On his recovery from a fit of the gout.’ These verses were published in ‘Martin’s Magazine
about 1756, and are dated from Fowey in Cornwall. His praises of Chatham were unbounded:—his dislike of the son was proportional. Peter was offered a pension more than once, but he could not be a dependant and write for the Government. The last time the offer was made he was depressed in mind and in circumstances. He had thought of retiring into Cornwall, and giving up his pen. This was not known to the Treasury,—but it so happened that an offer of a pension was renewed at that very time. Peter was not to write for the Government, and he stipulated that he would not write against it.
Mr. Yorke was the go-between, if I recollect rightly. Peter finally agreed to write no more articles on political personages—in fact, to keep silent about the Ministry. A pension of 300l. per annum was to be his. He had received the first quarter’s allowance but a few days, when, in the temper of those times, a messenger from the Treasury called and hoped, now the Doctor saw the Ministry were in earnest, he would use his pen on their side. ‘You know the stipulation was to be my silence,’ said the Doctor indignantly, ‘I’ll be d—d if I will write for you; I won’t be a prostitute,—go and tell this to your Ministers.’ It happened that a sum of money about which the Doctor had been depressed in mind from his hopelessness of obtaining it, was paid over to him. He at once enclosed back the amount which he had received from the Treasury. ‘Peter can live without a pension’ was the result. So began and ended the pension affair,—as related by himself.—I will trespass upon your space by an anecdote which has not been told, out of many that I know of this remarkable man. The Prince of Wales always had slips of the Doctor’s works from the printer, while they were in the press. When he became Prince Regent, a messenger was sent to the Doctor to know what the Prince
was indebted to him for the proof slips, None had been sent for years, because the Doctor had not written anything worth sending. ‘I thought it a sufficient honour that the Prince read my works in that way. I never expected to be insulted by such a demand so long afterwards,’ said Wolcot. ‘My orders are peremptory, Doctor.’ replied the messenger.—‘I hare nothing to do with my writings now, nor with money transactions relating to them. You must go to Walker the bookseller.’ The messenger went, the Doctor instructing Walker to make out a regular tradesman’s bill for the Prince Regent, to the farthing, and give a regular receipt for the sum when paid. Some little time afterwards the messenger called on the Doctor with a fifty-pound note, the account being forty odd pounds and some shillings,—‘The change was of no consequence.’ The Doctor despatched the messenger to Walker again—saying he would not have the Prince’s money. It was a trading affair on both sides, and he must go to the traders. ‘Was not this very pretty?’ said Wolcot; ‘the Prince had my squibs about his father to read openly at his own table, and then fearing that I may blab the fact, now he is become Viceroy, he thinks if he pays me for the rags all will be right.’
Weltje, of the Prince’s household, supplied the Doctor with materials for many of his squibs. The tale of the shaving of the royal cooks originated in a fact. The order was given, but withdrawn. It was founded on an accident of a trivial character,—which Wolcot altered and made the subject of one of the richest comic poems in any language, exalting the insect hero—
“‘To draw of deep astronomers the ken,
The Georgium Sidus of the sons of men.’

“I am, &c,