LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
William Jerdan, The Pleasures and Pains of Editors of Periodicals, 1819

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
“Delightful task.”—Thomson.
“Hail plural unit.”—Colman.

“Even in this immense metropolis there are not more than a score or two, and in the chief places of the kingdom not a greater number than from one to five of the entire population, who know anything of the pleasures we are about to describe. To the great majority of readers, therefore, this exposition must possess the grand charm of novelty.

“In the first place, the joys of Editors are very widely spread and general; in fact, they are made the happiest of living creatures—by being requested to publish such intimations as the following, sent to them expressly, as it should seem, for their gratification:—

“‘We rejoice to hear that the MS. poem of A. B. is in
such a state of forwardness that it may positively be expected to issue from the press this winter.’

“‘It gives, or affords, us the highest pleasure to be able to state that Mr. C. D. intends to add another book to his exquisite treatise on morbid affections.’

“‘Nothing could inspire us with greater delight than to be able to state that that eminent artist E. F. has arrived in safety from Italy, where the contemplation of the great masters has added new powers even to his magic pencil.’

“‘The public will learn with the same heart-felt satisfaction which we feel in announcing it, that the accomplished Miss G. H. has recovered from her indisposition, and will immediately resume her duties in the fashionable world.’

“‘We are at once astonished and enraptured by J. K.’s last lecture on the diseases of the bladder. We understand he begins his new course on the 1st of April next.’

“And so on through the whole alphabet, and the whole circle of literature, arts and sciences.

“We are, it is true, sometimes said to he sorry, but in that case, there is invariably a hope attached to us, a land of promise at the end of the desert;—thus

“‘We are sorry to find that the Rev. L. M. is prevented by the gout from finishing his grand work on the prophecies; but have reason to hope that the delay will be short, and the publication rendered more perfect every day it remains in the hands of its classic author.’

“‘We lament to learn that N. O.’s famous picture of the Bombardment* of Jerusalem will not grace the ensuing Exhibition; but the lovers of the arts will be consoled with us on being informed that it may be seen at his residence, No. 717, next door to the Ophthalmia Hospital in the

* Why not bombard Jerusalem?

Regent’s Park, and that many sublime touches have recently been added to this masterly composition.’

“Being compelled ex officio to sympathise in print with all the hypothetical happinesses (heaven knows how few in reality!) of authors, artists, players, lecturers, publishers, picture-dealers, cognoscenti, exhibitors, teachers, fiddlers, and hunters after popularity of every kind; feeling all their little troubles, and more than partaking in all their great hopes: watching their motions, as it were, and recording their progress with a maternal anxiety; comforting the public when they are not immediately prominent, with the assurance that they will shortly be so, and being enraptured with their stupendous merits when they do come forward with any labour—these are the mere first links of our intimate connection with everything in the above lines.

Our opinions are of mighty importance.

“After seeing the midnight lamp expire in reading P’s MSS. preparing for the press, we are rapped out of bed at seven o’clock by Q. determined not to present his medals to the world, without consulting us on the merits (so that we too must ‘stand the hazard’) of the dye. R. invites us to inspect his show-room six miles off, in a miry suburb, before he erects his national monument to the memory of Tom Thumb the Great, our knowledge of the original and historical information rendering our judgment on the subject so truly desirable. Our meals are interrupted, our retirement broken in upon, our most precious time consumed, our very sick-room invaded, by the discoverers of curious papers found where they were never lost, the liberal possessors and ready retailers of scientific information which happens to be no news, the writers of poetry, according to their own nomenclature, and the projectors of
the most immortal schemes that ever an ungrateful world slighted as absurd and ridiculous.

“Then the multitude of especial favours that we receive—each in his sphere! Being chosen as the most appropriate channel for a highly (self) interesting communication:—the publishers of long essays written in haste, and in want of our kind correction:—the most excellent paper for an exposition of the greatest consequence to our readers in the improvement of S. T.’s patent:—the respectable medium for answering U.’s attack on V.’s important letter:—the valuable journal for widely disseminating a specimen of W.’s intended publication on a question of universal attraction!

“It must be confessed that our enjoyments are occasionally chequered with some slight regrets. We find elegiac poets very hard-hearted, and if we affront them, or even pastoral writers, by not immediately inserting their productions, we are sure of a severe scolding, as heavy postage, and anger everlasting. Antiquarians are also obdurate dogs to deal with: if disappointed on the ensuing day of publication, there is no escaping their research and remonstrance. In vain do we bury ourselves in the darkest corner of our study, and entrench ourselves behind the lies of our servant’s ‘not at home;’ we are invariably dug out, and suffer exposure. Authors, whom our consciences will not allow us to praise, charge us with prejudice, partiality, corruption, illiberality, malevolence, and all the deadly sins of human nature. Artists are perhaps still more intolerant and greedy of praise. Their appetites for flattery are only equalled by their immeasurable irritability; and woe be to that critic who does not discover in every daub the colouring of Titian, combined with the grandeur of Michael Angelo; in every plaster-
model the fancied fire of
Phidias, and the imagined beauty of Praxiteles. Indeed, we have ascertained that most public characters have such capacious stomachs for applause, that there is no risk of surfeiting them with panegyric; but, on the contrary, much danger of being thought churls and niggardly starvlings for not giving enough. Reviews must be puffs—criticisms must observe no blemishes—biographies must make men angels!

“Then we are occasionally sore beset with temptations. A pretty poetess has just finished her first attempt, ‘Stanzas to a favourite Goldfinch;’ and with down-cast blue eyes, a heaving bosom, and a faltering voice, entreats to see it in print. We are martyred between the writer and the writing. Such a supplicant, what man can deny—such a composition what Editor can insert! A philanthropist has a plan for the relief of the poor—have we not charity to give it place? A reformer produces a scheme for remedying all abuses—have we not patriotism to find room for it! An enthusiast would preach mankind into one blessed group of loving brethren—the sermons are long and perhaps tedious, but surely our humanity cannot reject them!

“And it is often in vain to endeavour to elude these applications with, ‘Your poetry is charming, but it wants a little polishing to fit it for the public eye.’—‘Will you be so good as make the necessary alterations?’—‘It would delight us, but take the merit from you, which must not be’—‘Oh, I am not self-sufficient, and shall be happy to have my errors rectified.’ ‘We will point out two or three slight defects in your exquisite ideas—so and so—etcetera.’ The verses are taken to be altered, and we are never forgiven.

“And then the Stage and its people! Heaven defend us from it and them! The theatre is a bottomless gulf
for panegyric; the more that is poured in, the more void it appears, and there is no return. One
Shakspeare, who knew them well, has told us we had better have a bad epitaph after our death, than their ill report while we live; and yet there is no avoiding the latter by the sacrifice of truths on the altar of flattery, though we butcher hecatombs. What is the death of a monarch to an actor’s taking leave, overcome by his feelings, supported by his friends, and all the audience, who have them, snivelling into their white handkerchiefs! What is the march of a general at the head of a victorious army, to the peregrinations of a third-rate mime through the provinces! As for the great heroes—if Critics do not laud them with more than eastern adulation, woe betide them; their motives are base, and they are the private foes of persons they never saw but on the public stage. Dreading some tragic end to our labours, we dare say no more of these tyrants, who carry the mockery of their profession into their intercourse with real life.

“‘That is really a fine group, Mr. Sculptor—the attitudes are easy, the pyramidal form studied without affectation, the animals spirited, and the human figures full of nature.’ ‘But is there no point at which your admirable judgment could oblige me by suggesting an improvement?’ ‘The whole, we have said, is excellent, yet, as no work is absolutely faultless, it does seem possible to amend the anatomy of that horse’s limbs, and thus improve its position—the armour of one of the knights, too, is rather heterogeneous, being semi-barbaric, semi-Greek, like the St. George on a Pistrucci crown’—‘Oh, I beg your pardon, gentlemen, I am sorry to differ from such superior minds, but I have particularly regarded the form and attitude of that horse, which is indeed the best part of the design, and the armour I assure you, is classically accurate.’ We are doomed
ignorant pretenders as soon as our backs are turned, and the monument graces St. Paul’s, with a crooked-legged Bucephalus, and a painted Pict in an Athenian helmet:— very much on a par with the rest of the national monuments (of want of taste) in that Cathedral.

“The painter is equally solicitous for advice, alias praise, and equally wedded to his own system. ‘That sky is green.’ ‘Ah! that was necessary for the contrast with these black rocks.’ ‘The natural colour is blue.’ ‘Surely you would not have a picture look black and blue!’ ‘But these trees are heavy and brown.’ ‘I must have a neutral tint in that bright sun-set.’ A picture is entirely yellow, purple, and gold—it is a fine effect of colour. Another has men, women, and babes at the breast, all muscular as Samsons or Herculeses—it is a noble display of anatomical knowledge. A third has men of stone, and dead children of iron grey—it is the grand gusto, half-tint, and not amenable to the laws of nature! We could swell the catalogue, but might be thought personal.

“‘This is a new mechanical invention—a fire and water escape, so that you are in no danger in your garret, should your house catch fire, nor in your cellar if it should be flooded. Observe how the machinery moves.’ ‘Yes, in the air, but either fire or water would destroy the very principle of its motion.’ ‘I am sorry that you do not seem to understand the mechanical forces.’ ‘We are sorry that you do not seem to understand the force of our argument.’ ‘It is very easy to object to useful speculations, but not so easy to escape from the terrors of flood or horrors of conflagration!’ ‘Sir, we would rather trust to the resource of Gulliver among the Lilliputians, in both cases, than to your silly machine.—Good by t’ye.’

“We might dramatise a hundred other scenes in which
the situation of the Editors of periodical works invariably resembles that of handsome women—most perseveringly courted, and little attended to when they come to advise. But we have said enough on the subject; and instead of resorting, as the fair would do, to a curtain lecture, We shall drop the curtain, behind which our readers have had a peep, such as they may not have had before.

“WE—An Editor.”