LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ch. 15: Literati

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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Oh, when I was a tiny boy,
My days and nights were full of joy,
My mates were blithe and kind!
No wonder that I sometimes sigh,
And dash the tear-drop from my eye,
To cast a look behind!—Hood.

In running over the ground, as I am doing, I have as yet abstained from two topics of much personal and some public interest, but too copious for my present undertaking. I allude to the first appearances of our greatest artists, and also of our most admirable theatrical performers, with whom it was my good fortune to form friendly relations, witness their earliest efforts, encourage their emulous achievements, and enjoy their triumphs. Still hoping for the opportunity to throw at least a partial light over some of the younger memorabilia attached to these eminent individuals, who have charmed the age in which they flourished, and (in the Fine Arts) will be the delight of future times, I will now endeavour to call up a few literary spirits from the vasty deep—made by a very brief lapse of time in these busy days, and present them, as they rise, to the notice of my readers. Shakspeare has said—and I believe it has been quoted before—that one touch
of nature makes the whole world kin; without vouching for which, I think I may assert that one sheet of paper brought me into contact, one way or another, with half the world, in the common acceptation of the phrase. Shall I recall some instances? Some will “come like shadows; so depart;” but others still live, and it is my happiness still to count them among my cherished companions and most valued friends.

Mr. Isaac Disraeli, the voluminous and interesting author, and father of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, lived just out of, and to the eastward of Red Lion Square, and either next house to or nearly adjoining that of Lady Sanderson, who married William Huntingdon, S.S. (“Sinner Saved,” and especially by her Ladyship’s comfortable fortune), and I visited them both.

Mr. Disraeli’s was very literary, and archaeological and delightful. Douce was often there, and Archdeacon Nares from the adjacent Hart-street, and my dear old friend and colleague, Richard Dagley, who had illustrated Disraeli’s “Flim-Flams,” and whose stories of, and intelligence respecting the English School of Arts, judgment in appreciating its productions, and unassuming manner of communicating facts and opinions worthy of the attention of the most tasteful and best informed, endeared him to all who enjoyed the pleasure of his society and instruction of his conversation. His pencil was by no means equal to his invention: his originality and conception were but inadequately rendered by his embodiment and execution. Yet without high art or high finish, his productions told well what he imagined and wished to express: they were plain; but there was no mistaking what they meant either in humour or pathos. What would I give, were he alive now to advise and aid me, and in his own way embellish this work? He was
well acquainted with the founders of the Water Colour School—the
Sandbys, Nicholsons, and other leaders in that delicious art, which is more mannered now than it was at first, is not (all) quite so natural, and has recourse to agencies for effect which did not belong to the purer style of the earliest painters. He was also familiar with the artistic transitions from sign-boards and chasing in metals (our prominent original schools) to the establishment and infant movements of the Royal Academy; and in these respects his knowledge and communications were valuable to the most learned, laborious, and distinguished of his contemporaries; to such, indeed, as the eminent connoisseurs and antiquaries I have mentioned.

A small part of his life Dagley spent as a drawing-master at Doncaster, where, as everywhere else, he was loved and esteemed. But oh, for the fickleness of popularity, especially if dependant on boarding-schools and the mammas of the pupils. Dagley was cut out at Doncaster by a showy Frenchman, whose talents would not have entitled him to tie his shoes; but he was gifted with superior qualities for success, and the quiet, studious Englishman had no chance with him. In those days, or rather nights, it was customary for the principal townspeople to meet at taverns to drink their ale or grog, chat, and spend the evening. Of course the rival masters were there, and poor Dagley used to tell of his final defeat by the superior skill of his foreign competitor. A leading corporator, in the course of debate (it must have been wonderfully instructive) on the Fine Arts, happened to ask Monsieur what was his own peculiar style, to which he incontinently replied, “Mine own stayles! Ach-oui-yas. Veil, den, you know de immortal Raffel, de Tenniers, de Tissiano, de Mick Ange, de Vatteau, de Candletti, de Ostade, de Rubennz, dat is ma stayle.” Dagley had no style to compete
with this, was floored, and left Doncaster in the possession of the extraordinary artist of the wonderful style, and returned to London, to which I may bring with him a Doncaster anecdote, which would have done for
Southey’sDoctor.” Over the doorway of the principal bookseller was sculptured, in bold relief, the Crown and Sceptre, and the owner, as is usual in provincial towns, was lounging one fine day at the door under the shadows thereof, when a countryman lounged up with the question, “Please, Sir, be this the Phœnix?” In answer to this, Mr. —— took him gently by the arm, and, leading him into the street, pointed to his Sign, and asked in return, “Is that like a Phœnix?” to which the heavy lout incontinently replied, with a scratch of his head, “Wha, Sir; I dinna knaw, for I never seed yane!”

I may notice a curious circumstance to show the minute accuracy of Sir Walter Scott’s descriptions of natural scenery. Dagley had in his portfolio a sketch of a woody nook in the woods near Doncaster, and when “Ivanhoe” was published, with the opening meeting of Gurth and Wamba, he had only to put in the two figures and the resemblance was as perfect in every feature as if it had been drawn to illustrate the author. They had both incidentally chosen the same spot; the one for the pen, and the other for the pencil. Dagley was my invaluable colleague for more than twenty years—to the day of his death.

If Mr. Disraeli’s was pleasing, the entertainments at his neighbour’s were by no means Calvinistic fasts. The living, on the contrary, was très joli, and the society anything but conventically rigid and dull. I have a faint recollection of playing whist there.

Nares was one of those men who bear a sort of charm about them, for everybody to delight in their society, pleased by their manners, amused by their talent, informed
by their intelligence, and improved by their example. His acquirements were very comprehensive, and I received much instruction from his society. His admirable and entertaining
Glossary was but the partial cream of his philological inquiries and illustrations: the whole was wonderfully rich, and supplied an endless stream of literature, which seemed to flow over all its cultivated regions on the face of the earth, and to have done so from the remotest antiquity to the present day. It was laughable, occasionally, to watch him hunt out a word till he came to some vile vulgar root, and see him throw the books about in a pet at having wasted his time in such a pursuit. For an antiquary his taste was exceedingly fastidious, and anything verging on indecency or profanity was very obnoxious to him.

I have said a good deal of the Pollock family, with which my boyhood was associated, and to which I have owed many happy reliefs from cares throughout the long years that have rolled away “since we were first acquent.” Distinguished as they have made themselves, there was one brother who lived not to emulate any lofty ambition, and truly he had no vocation that way; but he was a dear comrade of mine, blessed with a pitying heart and liberal hand, one of the kindest of human beings, possessed of a cool and ready wit, and of high personal courage, and I should like to carve him a niche in my humble votive temple. William Pollock was the second son, between Sir David and the Lord Chief Baron, and possessed no small share of the talents which has raised his brothers to high distinction and judicial and military rank. He was much of a humourist, and never failed to pick up the drollest stories, go where he would, or to tell them with the quaintest possible effect. He had quitted business and gone to study law in a solicitor’s office, but unfortunately contracted a malady, having all the
symptoms of consumption, from a young wife whom he early lost; and for the last six or seven years of his life seemed to renew it annually, by a wandering visit to the West of England, faring at farm houses, and enjoying country air and country habits. One of his simple adventures may be repeated as a picture of the times not at all remote from us, and of primitive manners which railroad intercourse has nearly, if not quite, obliterated within the last dozen years.

William was walking along the road on his way to Chard (I think), when he was overtaken by an old farmer on horseback, and they got into conversation. My entertaining friend made a due impression upon his companion, and they proceeded together, in pleasant chat, till they arrived at a division of the road, where William inquired which was the right way to Chard. “To Chard, Heav’n bless ye; what be ye going to do at Chard on a night like this?” William explained that he was simply going to take up his quarters at the best inn he could find, and stay there as long as his fancy and the sights in the neighbourhood tempted him. “But weel,” rejoined the farmer, “it’s of no use ye’re going to Chard to-night, for d’ye see it be market-day, and the inn so full of folks that ye can get no lodging there, I tell ye. Now, I’d advise ye just to go along wi’ me, and take t’chance o’ the ould farm-house. It’s no fine, but t’shall have the best it can afford, and a hearty welcome.” Nothing could be more agreeable to William’s erratic course, and he at once accepted the invitation. Well, the farm-house, a considerable mansion in the old English style, was reached, and a hearty supper eaten at the settle, which went nearly round the square, where a large kitchen fire was burning; after which the farmer apprised his guest that it was bed time, and that he would be happy to light him to his bed. He was accordingly taken up broad stairs to the
top of the house, in the upper story of which, extending nearly over its whole area, and covered by a high roof, Master William was shown an immense four-post bed, certainly not quite so large as the great bed at Ware. The size of the chamber, the altitude and sloping form of the ceiling, and the capaciousness of the bed, staggered him a little. He began to recall stories of unfortunate travellers, meeting accidentally with apparent farmers, being seduced to their humble retreat, and, in spite of all honest outward seeming, foully murdered, and never heard of more. He rallied, however, wished his guide good night—detecting, as he thought, a cursed sinister look at the moment—and, as there was no help for it, undressed and crept into bed, without venturing too far from the edge, and determined to keep awake. By degrees, however, a vagueness of ideas began to possess him, and he was just on the point of falling asleep when he heard footsteps, and the door of his room slowly and noiselessly opened. He screwed himself into a position to be ready for the worst, but without stirring, and anxiously watched the approaching figure. He soon saw it was the old farmer, and prepared for the mortal struggle. But instead of coming nearer, the Protectionist placed his light upon the distant table, and leisurely began to take off his clothes. This done, he went round to the other side of the bed, and quietly resigned himself to repose somewhere about the centre. This was funny enough, but it was only the first moiety of the entertainment. In about ten minutes the same sound of footsteps and the same cautious opening of the door were repeated, and William, to his utter astonishment, saw the farmer’s great fat wife also enter and prepare herself for rest. Having divested herself of her habiliments, she puffed out the candle, and also made her way to the farther side of the bed, into which she got with some exertion. She then began to
repeat the Lord’s Prayer aloud, which she followed by the Creed, and then went on with portions of the Litany, till her voice got weaker and more indistinct, and slumber fell upon her weary eyelids. There was happily room enough in the “huge bed” to avoid contact, and William hitched himself nearer and nearer to the side, which the farmer noticing, said “Are the fleas at ye? We canna weel help them, for they come out o’ the sacks o’ wool, yonder, in druves; but I can sure ye there’s na vermin, nane at all, i’ the place.” William at last fell asleep. The bed was evacuated the nest morning, in the same order and manner in which it was occupied on the preceding night, and William, as he left the dormitory, happening to lift his pillow, saw half-a-score of the fleas hop off with great muscular vigour to abide in the woolsacks till phlebotomy was again in request at the farm! Poor fellow! how he chuckled over the adventure, and excited such ludicrous ideas at the images he suggested, by his way of telling it, that it was impossible to go along with him and not “die with laughing.”

William’s own ready wit was, as usual in such cases, accompanied by a keen relish for the humorous and its detection wherever it even glimmered in the horizon. The anecdote of the Welsh clerk, who, in reading the service at an assize sermon preached before Judge Buller, on coming to the passage, “We know that thou art (sic) come to be our Judge,” turned about to the pew where he sat and made his lordship a low bow; was beaten by a piece of a genuine discourse with which my friend came primed one day from a conventicle whither he had gone to hear a celebrated preacher. The holy man was enforcing the omniscience of the Deity, and invoking sinners not to flatter themselves that they could conceal their offences;
“for,” said he, “there is an eye that seeth all thy doings, and knoweth all about ye. Yes, my brethren, He knows where you go, and where ye live, the very street in which you dwell, the house, and the number!” This curious example of the loss of force in endeavouring to be more forcible was too good to be lost on an appetite for the ludicrous; but is it not also an example of an error which is far from being infrequent in compositions of the highest pretensions in all classes of public oratory and many of literary ambition?

From the beginning of the “Literary Gazette,” it had no more constant and prolific supporter than Barry Cornwall, whose contributions, as yet unpublished elsewhere, are sufficient to form a delightful volume.

Mr. Proctor’s first appearance in print was, as far as I am aware, in No. 45, Nov. 29th, 1817. It was signed with the initials of his real name, “W. B. P.,” Waller Bryan Proctor, and not Barry Cornwall, since then so deservedly popular; the letters in which incognito employ all those in his own baptismal, excepting P. E. E. R. (which might stand for Peer), among the Lyrists and Dramatists of the day. It was some time before he adopted the signature by which he is so well known and his numerous charming productions which appeared in the “Gazette” were signed B., or W., or O., or X. Y. Z., &c

The piece alluded to was entitled “The Portrait,” with a prefix from the Italian, and is as follows—not so promising as the future fruitage!—

His name—and whence—that none may know—
But as he wanders by,
Mark well his stern and haggard brow,
And note his varying, dark-black eye;
It tells of feelings strong—intense—
And stamps the soul’s intelligence:
No more the crowd descry;—
For woe her keenest arrow sent.
And scarr’d each noble lineament.
Though in that high, cold, searching glance
The vulgar nought espy—
Yet souls congenial, there, perchance
May see youth waken’d from its trance,
And feigned, self-scorning levity—
And deep within that troubled breast,
The workings of a love represt.
Thus far may I unfold his tale—
That in life’s earlier day
His fairest, fondest hopes did fail,
His friends passed one by one away.—
Thus rudely on life’s ocean thrown,
He found—he felt himself alone,
To thrive—or to decay—
No heart returned one answering sigh—
None soothed his deep calamity.
He sought the midnight wood—he strayed
The still and haunted stream along,—
He watched the evening glories lade
The distant shadowy hills among:—
He sought the busier haunts of men,
And tried the maddening bowl again—
The jest—the jovial song.—
Towards some fond heart he sighed to press—
He sought, and found a wilderness.

From this it could hardly be predicated what the writer has become; but like Byron’sHours of Idleness,” and hundreds of other instances, it only proves how injurious it is to check instead of cherish the first buddings of genius. Our mighty critics look for perfection in juvenile essays, and try them by a standard that never existed or can exist till children walk upright before they crawl, speak before they squall, and run like Atalantas before they totter like unsteady Bacchantes!

From this date, during the ensuing three years, the graceful effusions of the Poet adorned the “Gazette,” averaging about
a poem for every fortnight or three weeks of the publication; and after this time, when
L. E. L. had taken the public as it were by storm (a storm of April showers, and rainbows, and May flowers, and sweets), and contributed so much to the journal, the same welcome attractions were continued, though not so abundantly, as before. The longer pieces are chiefly on classic subjects or tinged with classic allusions—not unlike the first inspirations of Mrs. Hemans; but there are varieties of great interest and beauty—love-songs—war-songs—dramatic scenes (especially a spirited sketch of considerable length called “The Discovery,” the hint taken from Boccaccio)—Anacreontics, and compositions on poetic themes, both of pathos and humour. From these I think I shall be thanked for detaching (I cannot say selecting, though I have looked for what differed most from his published collection,) half-a-dozen specimens, and therewith enriching the Appendix to this volume.*

The “Literary Gazette” acted as the wet nurse to other bards who have cultivated their poetic faculty to the extent of lasting fame; whilst others of undoubted genius played their parts with applause for a few years, and then were heard no more, and some never emerged into public honour, and some never tried to attain distinction beyond the gratifying indulgence in a private luxury and intercommunion with kindred spirits that cared little or nothing for the “outer world.” It would be a very curious view of this subject, if it could be taken with sufficient knowledge, to trace the accidents or circumstances which have made one individual a celebrity, while perhaps his superior in every attribute sank into obscurity. It is a wide field for speculation, and it would require a volume to show.

Several of the principal poetic contributors to the

* See Appendix.

Literary Gazette,” contemporary with Croly, Barry Cornwall, Mrs. Hemans, L. E. L., Lisle Bowles, A. A. Watts, and others, but who died young or did not persevere in the practice of composition, would, under favouring circumstances, have risen to poetical eminence; but their fates forbade—they were taken from us or became immersed in the active business of life and pursuits uncongenial to the Muses. They were not stung to the quick by Edinburgh Reviewer, nor driven from the fashionable world into brooding seclusion and nursing nature—they had neither the stimulus nor the repose—nor even the vocation to drudgery in the hope of reward—and thus little more than a few fragments of the spring and early summer of their years are all that can be traced of fine feelings and noble aspirations, and talents of an order to accomplish high achievements had they not been turned aside by the necessities of other claims.

Among my foremost friends were William Read,* under the signature of “Eustace” (who afterwards published “The Hill of Caves,” and “Rouge et Noir”); Mr. Beresford, of Trinity College, Cambridge, under the title of “Ignoto Secondo;” Mr. Cartwright, who signed “Zarach;” Mrs. Rolls and Henry Neele, who published volumes of poetry; Mr. Hollness, and several others whose writings were of such promise that only their estrangement from pursuits so dear to their youthful minds can account for their names being now unheard of in song.† As I pass further down the stream of time, Mary Ann Browne and Eliza Cook

* Not to be confounded with Edmund Reade, author of the “Revolt of the Angels,” “Sybil Leaves,” “Italy,” and other admired volumes of poetry; and with whom, somewhat later, I enjoyed much intimate intercourse.

† “See Appendix for specimens of the first three named—in my judgment, poetry that well merits a lasting preservation.

will be found among those whose first essays it was my good fortune to cherish; but it is a long list, and I trust my reference to it will fulfil at least one of the public expectations from my work, that of presenting many figures and groupes who, have flourished in my time, and of whom the notices are so scattered about that it would be difficult for any one, who has not enjoyed my opportunities, to bring them and their productions into a collected view.

In this way I flatter myself that a glance back at my volumes will be interesting to our literary history—and even increase in interest with years.