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The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Bernard Barton to William Jerdan, 26 February 1820

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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“Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2nd Mo. 26th, 1820.
Respected Friend,

“An individual taking upon himself to address, in his own undisguised name, one whom he can only designate officially, starts with vast odds; because he has no idea how he may most effectually further his own views; how far candour may be construed impertinence, or a prudent reserve imply distrust. I can have no other data to go on, in this case, than a consciousness how I should myself be most easily induced to give my attention to an unknown corres-
pondent, and knowing that I should excessively dislike long apologies to begin with, I shall proceed at once to the point.

“I am engaged just now in superintending a volume of poetry through the press, or, in other words, expect shortly to have one out. As soon as it is ready for delivery, and if possible, a few days before any copies are laid on a bookseller’s counter, I could wish to have one transmitted to thee. This is all in the usual course, certainly, and could hardly require any previous address; but as a thousand things may prevent me at the time from explaining my views as to the claims of this volume on public notice, and as I have a leisure half hour this evening, I feel quite disposed to avail myself of it. Indeed, I could wish, before I actually present my production to thy critical inspection and consequent verdict, to have some grounds for hoping, not that it will be praised, but that it will be fairly and fully examined. Without some such encouragement, I might naturally doubt whether a volume of poems coming out neither from the Row, Albemarle-street, Conduit-street, nor any other birth-place of equal celebrity, but from Grace-church-street, and having in the title-page a name never before in print, would be ever looked into.

“But now for a word or two as to the book itself, and its claims on public notice. Its author is certainly not the most suitable judge of those claims; though I believe, judging from the occasional comments in the ‘Literary Journal,’ we should not differ very materially on the merits of the volume. I have read too much excellent poetry to over-rate my own very egregiously; but waving this part of the business, I may be allowed perhaps to know more than any one can of my own views in publishing, and my own feelings in composing these poems; and perhaps I may be
allowed, in reference to them, to state why I think the book ought to have a reading. Of the feelings which dictated them, I shall only say that they are not precisely
Arthur Brooke’s; some of them are not feelings of which I should be inclined to boast in company, but of none of them should I be ashamed in private: on this point my limits will not allow me to say more. As to my views in publishing, they are not mercenary; for I expect no profit; they are not aspiring—for fame would be of little value to me, though I by no means affect to think lightly of the praise of competent and intelligent judges—but I have published, or rather prevailed on the booksellers to publish, this volume as an experiment how far a Quaker Poet might hope to win attention. This is, so far as I know, the first volume of poems published by a member of our Society, bearing the visible stamp of Quakerism upon it. Wiffen’sAonian Hours’ does not, to my view, solve the question. I know very well, before I read that volume, that a Quaker might be a poet, if he divested himself of his Quakerism, and wrote in the style of a popular poet. I am not now finding fault with my friend Wiffen, for I was pleased with his book; but it does not determine the compatibility of Poetry and Quakerism to my satisfaction. There is not a little in it, particularly his excessive admiration of Lord Byron, which many a Quaker would be alarmed at. But I am inclined to think poetry may be composed with strict consistency, and by no means in opposition to the spirit of our code—and yet not be exclusively religious. He who undertakes the task has a nice path to tread; I may have failed, but I wish the work to be known, that by being known the question may be decided. It is needless for me to add, what I think my frankness may have proved, that I have written in that unreserved confidence with which I should
myself wish to be addressed, and in which I subscribe myself,

“Thy respectful Friend,

“P.S. If not requesting too great a favour, I would add that I should have great pleasure in paying the postage of a few lines in reply to this. I have no improper curiosity about who my correspondents may be, so, if most agreeable, keep up thy impersonality and address me officially. A letter will find me addressed Bernard Barton, Woodbridge, Suffolk.”