s 1831 opened, Jerdan announced that it had been fifteen years since he began editing the Literary Gazette, proudly telling his readers: “The Gazette enjoys, by many thousands, the greatest circulation of any purely literary journal ever published in England; and it has risen to this eminence under the absolute control and direction of its editor, who is also the proprietor of the largest proportion of the entire emoluments derived from this widely extended sale.
There was no mistaking his claim that the Literary Gazette was making him wealthy, a claim later to come back to haunt him when he wanted to warn young people that the literary life would not bring them financial security. He was proud of doing extraordinarily well, but it was the pride which came before his fall.
He was always interested in national matters, in every aspect of life, although refraining from political comment in his journal, in obedience to Canning’s dictum Even so Jerdan clung to his Tory heritage, whilst his friend Bulwer was campaigning for Reform. Four years after Canning’s death, Jerdan was still in favour with the government, sufficiently so for Viscount Goderich (whose five-month premiership had ended ignominiously) to select him as Tory candidate for Weymouth in the general election of May 1831. The idea appealed enormously to Jerdan. He was fifty years old, with what he called “a large and not overpoweringly encumbered income…neither deficient in mental nor bodily vigour” (4.355). He threw himself enthusiastically into the campaign, as he always did whatever his current project might be.
At that time a would-be Member of Parliament needed a certain amount of property, of which Jerdan had some, “subject to family arrangements”, but not enough. This may mean that Grove House was mortgaged, or that property in Scotland was shared with his siblings. He fortunately had a good friend and neighbour, a Dr. Anderson of Brompton, who assigned to Jerdan several houses in Alexander Square and some land and tenements on the river near Richmond. This meant that Jerdan was the owner of sufficient property to enable him to become a candidate. He kept a chaise and horses in readiness at livery stables by Fulham Bridge, and ensured that his household always knew where to find him, in case of a summons from the Treasury in the person of Edward Ellice who lived in Pall Mall, where Jerdan visited him every day. Throughout May he was in contact with people of influence in Weymouth, resulting in such encouragement that he decided to visit the town and start canvassing.
Before leaving Jerdan sent a note to his old friend Barnes, editor of The Times, telling of his intentions and asking for such assistance as he could conscientiously give. He misjudged his man. His confidence was abused. Jerdan thought it might have been due to the paper’s heated support of the Reform question, but whatever was Barnes’s reason, the next day’s Times carried a vituperative leader denouncing the pretensions of literary men standing for Parliament, and threatening ministers with popular odium if they upheld such a state of affairs. Jerdan ruefully acknowledged that he was hoist with his own petard. Calling as usual on Ellice it was agreed that he would not proceed with his candidacy; the chaise and horses were stood down, and Jerdan’s dream of a parliamentary career came to a sudden end. He somehow maintained a civil relationship with the editor of The Times, and was touched to receive a long and sympathetic letter from John Murray.
The postscript to this episode is pure Jerdan: no-one remembered to re-assign the properties that had been given to him, and it was not until ten years later that he came across the legal papers showing that he was still their proprietor. This could have been the cause of much wrangling in the interim, but fortunately the rightful owner was still alive, aged ninety-two, and the documents were safely restored to him.
Fraser’s had no respect for anyone, so even had Jerdan succeeded in becoming an MP, the magazine would still have made fun of him. In “A Long Song of Ecstasy” in May 1831, Fraser’s sang its own praises, and mocked its rivals, giving a line or two to all the current literary luminaries. Letitia Landon’s “thrilling lute” gave way to:
With Portraits of our learned men
It makes the world acquainted;
To see their Phizzes pencilled there
Is next to being sainted!
Jerdan was drawn as Jerdan is
When evening dews are falling!
(implying his usual condition, with a drink in front of him)
Jerdan’s full schedule appeared to have distracted his attention from Landon; she wrote to him about Bentley’s insistence that she find mottoes as chapter headings for her novel, and also that she was asking Maginn to put in a good word for her brother when he saw the Bishop of Exeter; she mentioned that Lady Stepney had called Jerdan “that charmant person” and ended with “I want so to hear from you” (Sypher). Her tone suggested that he had been neglecting her, but she, of all people, must have understood the vast quantity of reading and writing that Jerdan had to get through each and every day.
As an ‘Inhabitant Householder’ of Grove House, Jerdan was entitled to become a vestryman at the newly built Church of Holy Trinity, Brompton, consecrated in 1829. His family had been members of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, so Jerdan would have had to make some adjustments to the more decorative aspects of the new church when he became a member of the Church of England. His education at the parochial school in Kelso had taught him to accept all types of religious practice, so that “converting” to the English Church would not have caused him difficulty; many friends and colleagues would have made a similar move, to ease social relations when they moved away from home. The new Holy Trinity could seat 1505 people (606 free, 899 rented seats; Survey of London, Vol. 41). Jerdan did not take his vestry duties too seriously, calling them “rather droll affairs,” with some of his colleagues “though parochially well-to-do, not over-stocked with the fruits of education” (4.251). He relished the time when he pointed out that a comma in the wrong place had changed the sense of a local act; another vestryman, a builder, was infuriated by this display of erudition, exclaiming, “Pray, Sir, don’t talk to me of a comma: I don’t care for fifty commas!”. Ever after, Jerdan moved amendments consisting of fifty commas. After the “amusing enough” vestry meetings, Jerdan adjourned with two or three old friends “to a welcome parlour, a sober rubber, or a game at Boston, a slight refection, a glass of toddy, a merry family chat and to bed.” Although he dismissed this activity so lightly, in fact Jerdan took his duties seriously, at least at the outset. The first Select Vestry Meeting was held on 8 February 1830 and Jerdan joined the following month. He was present at seven of the eleven meetings that year, and at five of the eight held in 1831. In 1832 he attended only four out of ten meetings, and one of the two held in 1833. Holy Trinity’s Select Vestry Minutes Book for February 1830-April 1851 reveals that March 1834 he had moved away and his seat was declared vacant (London Metropolitan Archives). The Vestry Minutes disclose quite tedious matters of appointing officers of the church such as pew openers, selecting an organist, and dealing with clogged drains and clock cleaning; it was therefore clearly the social aspect which drew Jerdan to spend some of his free time there.
Some of the authors whom Jerdan reviewed in the Literary Gazette became family friends. It is through one such that we have a rare glimpse of Jerdan en famille. The traveller and writer John Carne and his wife Ellen were good friends of the Jerdans. In 1826 Carne’s Letters from the East which had been published in the New Monthly Magazine were gathered into a volume dedicated to Sir Walter Scott and published by Colburn. He and his wife went to live in Penzance, and a joint letter from each of them to Jerdan in the summer of 1831 was warm and affectionate. Ellen’s letter of 18 July 1831 recalled the many happy hours spent with the Jerdan family and hoped that the “charming daughters” had recovered from their sickness. The girls were encouraged to visit the Carnes in Cornwall, where Ellen was starved for intelligent company. She anxiously awaited the weekly delivery of the Literary Gazette which was “like conversing with an old friend” (Bodleian Library MS. Eng. lett. d. 113, f98.). Two comments in this letter relate directly to Jerdan’s activities: Ellen was “very glad you have at last resented the attack made at you by those who would be Critics”, and she asked him to use his influence with Carne’s publishers Saunders and Otley, to make a settlement to her husband, as she suspected they had sold more than they admitted. Carne’s part of the letter responded to an account Jerdan had given of a dinner at Grove House, which “revived many a pleasant remembrance”, especially Jerdan’s “splendid Hock Grave and Champagne”. He too asked Jerdan to intercede for him, this time with Lockhart, who was tardy in returning proof sheets. Carne reiterated his wife’s invitation that the Jerdans should visit them, it would be like “Manna in the desert”, or "a well of water to a thirsty man”, and tempted Jerdan with “sea trips, mines, minerals and picnics.” Jerdan did eventually make the trip and enjoyed his visits to mines and museums, especially the well known scientific mineral and natural collections at Falmouth and Penzance. He stored up the wealth of information gleaned on this visit, and used it to some effect in a story he wrote a little later in Bentley’s Miscellany.
Within a few months of his announcement that he was profiting handsomely from the Literary Gazette, Jerdan’s sense of financial security had vanished. He asked his Gazette partner Longmans for an advance, and received a withering response from Owen Rees:
My partners feel that so little attention has been given to the interest of our house in the Literary Gazette (but indeed quite the reverse) that they do not consider you have any claim to their favourable consideration; besides Twinings [bank] have given us notice not to pay you any money till you have repaid them the money they have paid on your policy of Insurance; and we have told them that we shall expect our claim to be first liquidated. [1 August 1831, University of Reading, Special Collections, Longmans Archive, I, 102,171C]
The following day brought worse news for Jerdan as the publishers told him that “finding the sale of the Literary Gazette declining and being already £1200 in advance to you, they do not feel themselves warranted on making the advance you now desire.” (Longmans Archive, I, 102, 171D).
His funds had diminished so quickly, beyond his normal expenditure, it seems probable that he had to meet a number of demands. He may have had to make some considerable provision for his and Landon’s children, maybe putting some funds into trust for them, or giving capital amounts to those who were taking care of them. This is only supposition; he could as easily have been overspending his income on good living at Grove House and elsewhere, on entertaining Landon and maybe other women too, but whatever was causing him financial hardship was draining his resources enough to force him to go cap in hand to his partners, who turned him down.
In 1831 Jerdan contributed ‘The Sleepless Woman’, a short story in three chapters to Volume 2 of The Club Book, which was a collection of tales by various authors, edited by another Scot, Andrew Picken, who included one of his own stories. The Introduction to this publication remarked that “since the clubs have come in, marriage has entirely gone out” as the Clubs offered young men more luxurious surroundings and services than they could afford at home. “How can it be expected,” asked the editor with his tongue almost in his cheek, “that a gentleman should marry for the old-fashioned motives of comfort and society when the clubs and their appendages supply all this at a tenth of the cost?” Mrs S. C Hall disagreed, having “a truly feminine antipathy to clubs”. Her home was her club; clubmen would eventually go one way, their wives another. “I don’t like them – I never shall like them: the club is the axe at the root of domestic happiness” (Retrospect 2.506). Some twenty years later Jerdan evidently remained satisfied with his Club Book story, as it appeared in Volume 1 of his Autobiography, as one continuous narrative.
The tale opened atmospherically, in a dark and gloomy castle at the death bed of the Baron. Adolphe, his handsome and dashing nephew and heir arrived in time to hear his uncle’s dying words. The Baron had seen into the future and warned Adolphe that “evil came into the world with woman, and in her is bound up the evil of your destiny.” After the Baron’s death, the gloominess of the castle weighed on the young man, who turned his thoughts ever more frequently towards Paris and bright lights. However, in true fairy tale tradition, he passed a rich coach in which he espied a beautiful young girl with bewitching eyes, “radiant orbs”, “bright and piercing”. Of course, she is rich and high-born, and Jerdan’s story quickly passed over the courtship, to their marriage, despite dire warnings from the old Baron’s servants.
Here the fairy-tale turned to gothic horror, as the bridegroom was woken night after night by his bride gazing at him with those radiant orbs . Horrified, he realised that she never slept – an idea she found abhorrent. “Sleep! One of my noble race, sleep? I never slept in my life.” He took her to live in Paris where, with her beautiful eyes, she is the toast of the town, whilst the erstwhile handsome bridegroom became sallow and emaciated. Slipping away from a party at their country chateau, he found himself in an avenue of dark cedar trees leading to a still lake. Consumed with exhaustion he was deluded into believing that a stray sunbeam was his wife still gazing at him. Unable to bear her sleeplessness any longer, he plunged into the lake and drowned. Instead of stopping at the climax of his story, Jerdan misguidedly added a final paragraph in which he stepped away from the narrative, to observe that whilst some believe the story to be accurate, others think it is an “ingenious allegory – and that the real secret of the Sleepless Lady was jealousy.” He concluded by remarking “Now, if a jealous wife can’t drive a man out of his mind and into a lake, we do not know what can!”
This story is more fanciful than some of Jerdan’s later efforts, and appears influenced by the ubiquity of gothic novels saturated with the sublime and supernatural so parodied by Jane Austen and Thomas Love Peacock only ten years previously. He could also have been feeling overwhelmed by the demands of his family and rather sour about women in general, (and Frances certainly had reason to be jealous), but it could be none of these factors, and he merely produced what he considered suitable for The Club Book readership, a traditional adventure tale, but without a happy ending.
Clubs were an important element of a gentleman’s life, and a new one had been formed in August 1831. The first gathering of the Garrick Club, named after the eighteenth-century century actor David Garrick, met in the committee room of the Drury Lane Theatre, and in the following three weeks, one hundred men had joined. Jerdan was one of the original members, invited by Lord Mulgrave, the Club’s President. The Garrick’s avowed purpose was for the “promotion of drama and general interest of the stage.” Jerdan was elected to the Committee on 22 October and a few days later Probatt’s Hotel in King Street had been acquired for the Club’s premises. Two temporary committees were then established, one for ‘furnishing’ and one for ‘providing’, both to report to the General Committee. Jerdan, even though arriving an hour late for the meeting on 2 November, was appointed Chair of the Providing Committee, which was responsible for recruiting servants and setting prices etc. They set up a wine committee, to which Jerdan was appointed. Records of the Garrick reveal that Jerdan was a very active member at this time (Information supplied by M. Riddell, Librarian and Archivist, Garrick Club.). “He is recorded as undertaking tasks such as selecting glasses for the Committee's approval, and was always present for discussions about livery, number of servants, type of silver, selecting a cook etc., all those tasks required to get the Club house opened, which it did on February 1, 1832.” Jerdan stepped down according to committee rules, in 1834, but remained a member until he resigned in 1862, unable to pay his dues.
Getting things ready for the new Club was a busy and happy time for him, most especially his duties in the selection of wines. He recorded that Grove House was the most convenient place to sample and judge wines for the Garrick, and his colleagues dined with him frequently for the purpose of wine-tasting (4.287). “The specialities of the occasion induced much merriment and relished the more on account of its difference from the formalities of set entertainment”, he wrote, describing how the floor on one side of the dining room was arranged with phials and bottles. Whatever was left remained in Grove House, and was doubtless afterwards consumed by Jerdan. He was “astonished” to receive bills from the wine merchants for these samples, listing from a surviving bill the port, claret, whisky, brandy, champagne and so on which the Wine Committee had sampled. “…the sum total of which caused my eyes to water (after my mouth had),” he recalled, “and a certain exchange of gold to pass from my pocket into that of the acute dealer.”
He thought he had been inspired by such revelry to triumph in designing the symbol of the Garrick Club, which is used to this day. The Club’s Minutes of 30 November noted that “Mr Jerdan proposed that the seal, or emblem of the Club, be a globe encircled with a ribband with the words ‘All the World’s A Stage’….” The words ‘Garrick Club’ and ‘1831’ appear on the encircling ribbon. Jerdan was so delighted that his design had been accepted, that with the approval of the President and Committee, he printed it on sixteen issues of the Literary Gazette during the first six months of the Club’s existence. Reciprocally, a box was placed in the Club’s library where members could deposit contributions of dramatic and theatrical matters for the Literary Gazette.
Then, as now, membership of the Garrick was closely guarded, and Jerdan found himself in the awkward position of answering a complaint from his old friend Edward Bulwer, who pressed for the selection of a Mr Ryde. Jerdan advised Bulwer that as Ryde had never paid his membership subscription, he had not actually joined the Garrick. In a letter dated only 22 December Jerdan said that he had nothing against Ryde, “except the expression of a hint that he was a writer in some of those periodicals which most Gentlemen seem to consider injurious to the enjoyments of private and social life. In fact, unless a man is extremely guarded in this respect every one connected with the press must feel that his society is neither wished nor courted by the better orders” (Norfolk Record Office, BUL 1.3.561X5). Jerdan obviously put himself on a far superior level to that of such a questionable journalist. There could have been another reason why Ryde was unacceptable. A contemporary observer noted that “the electing committee is compelled to exercise very vigilant care, for it is clear that it would be better that ten unobjectionable men should be excluded than that one terrible bore should be admitted” (Timbs 1.257).
Not a club, but the foundation of a great scientific society, the British Association, also occurred in 1831. Jerdan assiduously attended every Annual Meeting (except the one held in Belfast) and kept Literary Gazette readers informed of the activities of the Association, even at the expense of circulation dropping at the sight of these long and detailed reports, “its leaves like those of the trees falling in Autumn” (4.292).
London literary society was epitomised by Jerdan and his Literary Gazette, a fact celebrated even by the December 1831 Edinburgh Literary Journal which published Henry Glasford Bell’s “A London Soirée, Being a letter from Emily in town to her aunt in the country.” The first verse of this rather long poem was:
I’ll give you a sketch, my dear aunt,
Of a party I’ve been to in London,
Where poets and wits were not scant,
Whom Jerdan delightfully punn’d on –
He edits, as you know, the Gazette,
Which, though rivalled by Dilke’s Athenaeum,
Is read, they say, everywhere yet,
In Paris, Calcutta and Siam.
The literary public were clearly familiar with the foremost magazines and, more surprisingly compared to our own times, their editors. This verse was at least not denigrating Jerdan for alleged puffing and merely mentioned his name as one which would doubtless be familiar to all readers of the Journal.
Away from Clubs and scientific activities, literature was still Jerdan’s first concern. With him acting as her agent, Landon’s first foray into three-volume fiction appeared at the end of 1831. Romance and Reality was published by Colburn and Bentley, who paid her “£300, in Bills when the work was ready or within 2-3 weeks of it being ready for press” — an arrangement documented in a letter Jerdan wrote to Bentley. are The first print run was to be 1250 copies, and if a second edition was required, they would print a further 750 copies. According to W. St. Clair’s The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period, the Bentley Archives reveal that only 1000 were printed and sold out (Add MS 46,674).Their reason for limiting the editions was that most middle-class readers would not afford to purchase the three volumes outright, and that Colburn’s unsurpassable talents for puffing in the periodicals would ensure that the book would be in great demand by commercial lending libraries, his targeted market for sales. Knowing that Landon had already requested her copies for reviewers and friends, Jerdan asked Bentley in a letter that Cynthia Lawford believes was written in November or December 1831, for “ a copy neatly bound by Wednesday to be on my Table, having a largish party”. Jerdan was concerned that the “political ferment is not in its favour”, a reference to the unrest which resulted in the 1832 Reform Act.
The Literary Gazette reviewed the book on its front pages on 26 November 1831, asking rhetorically whether admirers of L.E.L.’s poetry would find the same qualities in her prose. Whilst it was “totally different from the writer’s poetry”, said the reviewer, “it displays altogether various faculties and powers hitherto undeveloped by her publications.” “We think Romance and Reality a perfectly original specimen of fictitious narrative; there is no performance of the class, within our knowledge, which it resembles.” The reviewer analysed, with examples, several “classes” of novels, including the Romantic, Historical, Fashionable, Satirical and many others, explaining that in Romance and Reality “we have glimpses of most of the ingredients we have enumerated…” No mention was made of Landon’s evident weariness with her own story, dismissing it in her final chapter with “Luckily in the closing chapter a little explanation goes a long way, and a character, like a rule of morality, may be dismissed in a sentence.” The reviewer, certainly Jerdan, is clearly at a loss to know what to make of the work. Landon was gently rebuked for a “few unimportant errors”, for introducing characters who could be easily recognised in real life. “This is not done ill-naturedly, but the thing itself is below the standard of the writer’s genius.” As always, the “review” then became a page or two of extracts from the novel. Mary Howitt, who met “Daddy Jerdan” and Landon at The Rosery in Brompton, home of Samuel Carter and Mrs Hall, reported that “Miss Landon chattered hard all the time, was using her round eyes that evening; in her forthcoming book Romance and Reality some of her friends were given ridiculous ‘puffs’ and she introduced the present company” (A. Lee, Laurels and Rosemary). Landon did portray Mary Howitt, as well as an instantly recognisable and complimentary portrait of Edward and Rosina Bulwer. It was hardly surprising then, that Bulwer gave Landon’s book a glowing review in the New Monthly Magazine of which he was then editor, a review which he introduced with the anecdote, since much quoted, of the Cambridge undergraduates scrambling for a glimpse of the latest L.E.L. poem in the Literary Gazette. His praise was in part a reciprocation for Landon’s article on his own work, which had been published in May of the same year in the New Monthly Magazine, an article so fulsome that Fraser’s affected to believe it had been written by Bulwer himself (Sadleir, Bulwer and his Wife 258).
The Athenaeum was quick to complain that the Literary Gazette had given the book twelve columns of puffing before it was made available to other reviewers. This attack was clearly against the periodical and Colburn, not against Jerdan personally; the following week the Athenaeum for 10 December 1831 gave a lead position to a praising review which nevertheless concluded that Landon had not yet fully used her powers (793-95). Other reviews complained that Romance and Reality was not a novel. Landon used the first two volumes as a vehicle for discussing society’s foibles, the state of literature, and politics, with authorial asides on any other subjects that took her fancy. The plot line was subservient to all these ‘messages’, and it was not until the third volume that much action occurred at all. The book was not a success. Portraits of some writers were highly unflattering. Those who believed they had suffered from Landon’s reviews in the Literary Gazette took the opportunity to return the compliment in their critical reviews and comments. However, Landon’s explicit portrait of her radical friend Bulwer was a dangerous indulgence, drawing down insinuations about her relationship with him. Mischievously, in his text for Fraser’s ‘Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters’ in August 1832 Maginn would not describe Bulwer, saying only “L.E.L. in her Romance and Reality has so completely depicted Bulwer (we shall not say con amore lest that purely technical phrase should be construed literally)…that it would be useless” (112).
Although Landon penned this distinct portrait of Bulwer, any portrait of Jerdan is altogether absent. There are small clues which definitely refer to him, here and there, and some passages where Landon may have had him in mind. In Volume 1, a character says that “the excitement of a literary career is so great, that most sentiments seem tame by its side. Homage you have from the many – praise is familiar to your ear, and your lover’s compliment seems cold when weighed against that of your reviewer. Besides, a lover is chiefly valued for the consequence he gives; he loses one great charm when you have it without him”. The speaker here was described as “good-looking and singularly tall”. Whilst this may depict Jerdan, it could as well be another Scottish friend of Landon’s, Allan Cunningham, or merely a figment of her imagination. However, Landon was not now so much in need of Jerdan’s “consequence” as she had been at the outset of her career, and this comment may be a small indication that for her, he was losing “one great charm.”
In another chapter she quoted a couplet from Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel, with a footnote coyly stating “I find this remark previously made in the National Portrait Gallery; and I am glad to observe the opinion confirmed by such authority as the author of those biographical sketches.” She could simply have named Jerdan, but chose not to do so. Elsewhere she began a chapter with a quotation attributed to the ‘Juvenile Library,’ a little unkindly perhaps, considering what a failure this was for Jerdan. In another chapter she attributes an “elaborate essay” on the relative intelligence of geese and turkeys to the Foreign Literary Gazette. This was either playful or unkind, as no such article appeared in any of the few issues of this, another of Jerdan’s ill-fated ventures. Several of the literary works mentioned in the novel had been reviewed in the Literary Gazette between 1824 and 1831, written either by Landon herself, or by Jerdan.
Landon remarked that the pleasures of childhood are more satisfying than those of later days, as they “suffice unto themselves. The race is run without an eye to a prize… Hope destroys pleasure” as life darkens around us. Landon inserted a footnote to her phrase “Hope destroys pleasure”, most likely referring to Jerdan as she had previously used terminology about deferring to his judgment:
This remark having been questioned by one to whose judgment I exceedingly defer, may I be permitted not to retract, but to defend my assertion? Hope is like constancy, the country, or solitude – all of which owe their reputation to the pretty things that have been said about them. Hope is but the poetical name for that feverish restlessness which hurries over today for the sake of to-morrow. Who among us pauses upon the actual moment, to own “Now, even now, am I happy?” The wisest of men has said, that hope deferred is sickness to the heart: yet what hope have we that is not deferred? For my part, I believe that there are two spirits who preside over this feeling, and that hope, like love, has its Eros and Anteros. Its Eros, that reposes on fancy, and creates rather than calculates; while its Anteros lives on expectation, and is dissatisfied with all that is, in vague longing for what may be.
This refutation of Jerdan’s objection to her phrase reads as a message directly to him. Landon had spent quite a few years in “feverish restlessness”, and possibly in expectation, and she may easily have been at the stage of being “dissatisfied with all that is.” Jerdan, in contrast, found pleasure almost everywhere, and apart from his financial worries, appeared to live life very much in the present, with little attention to “Hope”.
In Chapter IX of Volume 3 of Romance and Reality Landon appeared remorseful, sorry for the situation in which she found herself, with no protective husband and, somewhere out of sight, three small children:
Alas, for human sagacity! And that which is to depend on it – human conduct! Look back on all the past occurrences of our lives; - who are there that, on reflection, would not act diametrically opposite to what they formerly acted on impulse? No one would do the same thing twice over. Experience teaches, it is true; but she never teaches in time. Each event brings its lesson, and the lesson is remembered; but the same event never occurs again.
Except, of course, that for Landon it had occurred again, and then again. Landon’s pervasive air of melancholy in the poems, and in this first novel, did not find favour with readers. Her perpetual fascination with sorrows, deaths and suicides was not in accord with popular taste.
In addition to taking care of Landon’s literary endeavours, Jerdan helped her in family matters. Her younger brother Whittington had completed his studies at Worcester College Oxford; after a year’s curacy he was seeking employment. Jerdan inserted an advertisement into the Literary Gazette on 23 April 1831, to the effect that “A young clergyman M.A. of Oxford, residing in London, would be glad to engage as Classical Tutor in preparing One or Two Pupils for the University or to read with them during the vacations.” He received at least one reply, asking for a reference, to whom he divulged the name of the would-be Tutor (23 April, n.y., Special Collections Department, Temple University Libraries). Jerdan was again to offer a helping hand to Whittington when he sought employment at the Literary Fund Society.
One small activity which briefly engaged him in the summer of 1831 was to join forces with fourteen other literary men in a touching tribute to Goethe. They included Carlyle, Maginn, Wilson, Scott, Lockhart, Southey, Wordsworth and Barry Cornwall (All the Year Round June 1887). A gold seal was made to celebrate Goethe’s birthday on 28 August, to a design by Jane Carlyle, representing the serpent of eternity encircling a star, with the words ‘Ohne Hast aber Ohne Rast’ [Without haste, but without dawdling] in allusion to Goethe’s verses. They sent their gift “To the German Master: From Friends in England” with an accompanying letter of tribute to which Goethe warmly responded. In his Autobiography Jerdan made no mention of this kindly gesture, as it had probably slipped his mind twenty years later.
The event which, more than any other, was to mark a significant moment in the affairs of the Literary Gazette, occurred in the autumn of 1831. The Athenaeum had now reached a circulation of about 3000; hoping to double it, Dilke halved the price of his paper from eightpence (also the price of the Literary Gazette), to fourpence. Jerdan refused to accept their advertisement announcing the price reduction, a refusal which gave the Athenaeum a golden opportunity to goad the Literary Gazette yet again:
While friends, known and unknown, take such interest in the success of an independent literary paper, what avails the miserable policy of the Publishing Proprietors of the Literary Gazette in refusing to insert our Advertisements? The truth will be known, though it be shut out even from the advertising columns of that paper… the old orthodox belief in all that is in print is shaken – the day for booksellers’ Reviews, and for booksellers reviewing their own books, is gone; the public generally now know well enough, that the everlasting songs of praise in the Literary Gazette are but mystic hymns to their breeches pockets, and therefore button them the tighter; and the readers of the Gazette will learn this truth; though it be but the echo of public opinion that shall disturb their slumbers. [22 October 1831, 695]
Sales of the Athenaeum rose six-fold on the second day of this experiment, making this the turning-point in its ascendancy and in the decline of the Literary Gazette (Marchand 45). Jerdan himself recalled the moment his rival struck the fatal blow:
The Athenaeum held on in fruitless efforts and with some curious accidents, till the lucky idea of cheap literature suggested the expedient of lowering the price of the publication one half, and the plan, seconded by clever and not over-literary business and publishing devices, worked its way to popular success. It gradually took the wind out of the sails of the Gazette and possessed quite ability enough to account for the change especially in a commercial country, where, whatever else may be misunderstood, the difference between fourpence and eightpence cannot be mistaken. [3.210]
This was written with hindsight, but it is extraordinary that at the time Jerdan and his partners did not follow the Athenaeum’s lead and reduce the price of the Literary Gazette. Jerdan might have tried to persuade his partners to match the halved price of the Athenaeum although there is no evidence that he did so. Longmans would have done the arithmetic and found, as did Dilke, that selling a journal for fourpence instead of eightpence necessitated doubling its sales; the Athenaeum had stolen a march on them, the advantage in such a competition being always on the side of the initiator. Moreover, the Athenaeum operated at a loss for some years after its price reduction, despite a rise in circulation. Dilke could bear the loss as he had a private income, but the commercially-minded partners of the Literary Gazette could not contemplate such a sudden drop in profit, nor would Jerdan have welcomed so obviously playing second fiddle to the Athenaeum’s lead. The Literary Gazette had led the field for so many years, and he had so relished its superior position, that he would resist change for a commercial reason. Furthermore, the policies of the Literary Gazette remained the same as ever, and would have needed reinvigorating to attract new readers to choose the Gazette over the Athenaeum; also, the Athenaeum’s relentless attacks on puffery had lowered respect for the Gazette. All of these factors combined to push the Literary Gazette further and further down the path of lower circulation, so that although it still had many years ahead, it never again recovered the peak it reached before the Athenaeum halved its price and vastly increased its readership. It was to be fifteen years before the price of the Literary Gazette was lowered.
Jerdan found some small solace in the Athenaeum occasionally seeking guidance from the Literary Gazette, and offering to reciprocate, something Jerdan thought “what ought to exist where literary men and gentlemen are concerned. When the press falls into the hands of persons who are neither, the degradation is pitiable” (3.211). Here is the core of Jerdan’s problem: he still clung to the idea of publishing being a gentleman’s occupation, and was unable to see that it had become a commercial business. His inability to change with the times was to have a serious effect upon the Literary Gazette. His personality too, affected his success. “He was popular, but hardly admired, windy, cheerful, bibulous and not very discriminating,” it has been observed, noting that these qualities combined with Jerdan’s considerable energy “were adequate for popular and commercial success in the 1820s. They would not be adequate for the more rigorous demands of the next decade” (Pyle 133).
Perhaps in an effort to forget the huge blow struck by the Athenaeum, Jerdan still enthusiastically pursued his non-literary interests, which served as a relaxation from the relentless daily and weekly routines of reading a mass of journals and newspapers from home and abroad, as well as the mountain of manuscripts from hopeful writers. He still took an active interest in the Society of Antiquaries. A gold earring had been found in Athens, with a bulls head decoration, other designs corresponding with a ring Jerdan had discussed at some length, illustrated by Greek quotations, and scholarly references, printed with a drawing in the Society’s Archaeologia (18.72) and also reported in the Gentleman’s Magazine (211) on 12 March and July 1831. However, far more than the stuffy Society of Antiquaries he enjoyed the convivial company of the break-away group of Noviomagians, with whom he dined and occasionally went on archaeological trips.
Not all of Jerdan’s expeditions were for reasons of archaeology or antiquity hunting. In “A Day in Kent” the February 1831 Fraser’s provides a jovial fictionalized account of one that took place in the winter of 1830-31. It portrayed glimpses of Jerdan at play, relaxing from his daily labours and displaying that glee in life which he enjoyed so seldom. The sixteen pages of this rumbustious story may have been entirely a figment of the writer’s imagination, but the participants are so clearly delineated that it is more likely to be a highly embroidered version of an actual excursion. In either event, it depicts this group of influential literary men at play, in a manner that makes them more present and alive than even their own writings can achieve.
The joyful (if possibly fictional) cameraderie portrayed in this story renders all the more puzzling an advertisement for Fraser’s Magazine, for which they took a full page in the Literary Gazette of 30 July 1831. The on-going accusations of puffery turned extremely vicious and personal through this unexpected medium. Jerdan was on good terms with all the Fraserians, and was indeed one of their number in social terms, so why Fraser’s chose to attack the Literary Gazette, synonymous with its Editor, as well as attacking Colburn, is a puzzle. The full page advertisement was a mass of small type, part of which was comprised of complimentary quotes on Fraser’s from London and provincial papers. Publicity was given to their ‘Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters’, naming Jerdan as one of those featured, and they also plugged their Panoramic Plan of London.
However, a block of this advertisement in even smaller type, quoted a long paragraph from the Aberdeen Observer, mentioning the
inanity, folly, filthiness and obscenity of the trashy novels issuing from Burlington Street and elsewhere...critical publications entered into an unholy alliance with the booksellers...To say that Frasers Magazine has wholly subverted this tyranny of evil, were to go too far, so long as we see the New Monthly is still zealous to puff and instant to praise the grossest trash of its publishers - and so long as the atmosphere is tainted by the corruption of the London Literary Gazette, a publication which our contemporary, the Aberdeen Magazine, has justly designated "the common sewer of the vilest bibliopolical corruption.
In his ‘To Correspondents’ column in the same issue, Jerdan attacked back at some length, and with strong feeling:
While the falsehood and scurrility of low periodicals respecting the Literary Gazette are confined to their own small spheres, we leave them to the obscure contempt which alone they have the power to provoke; but having admitted into our pages today (in the way of business) an advertisement which will thus afford to such abuse a publicity otherwise unattainable, we deem it right to accompany it with a few words of remark. Belonging to that class of the press which finds it easier to struggle into a narrow and ephemeral notoriety by the shameful means of slander and personalities, than to prefer a widespread and permanent claim to the public regard by meritorious efforts in the cause of literature and improvement, we might well leave the Magazine in question, and the impudent lies it has intruded into our own columns, to the degradation earned by the one, and the speedy oblivion which is sure to overtake the other. But we will publicly tell the propagator of these attacks upon us (which he knows to be utterly false and which are rendered personal by a preceding part of the advertisement) that the individual who can so readily violate the least burdensome, though not the least imperative of human virtues, gratitude to a benefactor, is not the best calculated to inform or benefit mankind as the editor of a periodical work: but his vocation, like that of this fellows, is not to promote any good or useful purpose. Entitled as we feel we are, to the general confidence and rewarded by a circulation far beyond any literary Journal that ever was published, we shall continue to despise the base detractions of unsuccessful envy. [To guard against misapprehension we should say, that a private friend of ours, a gentleman whose name is frequently mentioned as editor of this Magazine, but who denies that responsibility, is not in the slightest degree alluded to in this notice of a stupid and worthless calumny.]
This seemed to be the end of the sudden squall. However, the matter again reared its ugly head six months later in January 1832, when Fraser’s printed an article headed “The Literary Gazette, the Court Journal, the Spectator and REGINA”. Harking back to their July advertisement, Fraser’s said that the Aberdeen quote was merely “some casual remarks upon the manifold sins of the Literary Gazette, which called forth the following indignant remonstrance from that worthy print.” They quoted in full (except for the final sentence) Jerdan’s riposte given above. They noted that the Age of the following day had outrageously declared this “magnanimous burst to be a specimen of the ‘puff reverberative’, and had accused Fraser’s of paying Jerdan to insert his comments as a “guide-post or index” to their advertisement. In the persona of Oliver Yorke, Fraser’s denied knowing anything about that; if their proprietor did pay, “it is a matter wholly out of our province”. The notion of Jerdan accepting a fee for an insertion which attacked his own journal is simply absurd, but this was not the main thrust of Fraser's article.
It asked, “Who the deuce is it Jerdan alludes to, when he talks of gratitude being due to him? We, Oliver Yorke, owe him none; and upon looking through the list of persons who, justly or unjustly, are considered to be competitors of ours, we find several to whom Jerdan has many, many reasons to be grateful – not one who owes him any favour. We therefore purge ourselves of the accusation of ingratitude altogether.” Yorke then turned his spleen on to the Court Journal and the Spectator, having finished with Jerdan for the time being. If this warmed-over argument was intended as a serious attack on the Literary Gazette one wonders why Fraser’s waited six months before resurrecting it; if it was meant to be humorous, there was nothing in it to indicate this intention. A possible explanation could be that it was revived because Jerdan had personally offended someone of influence at Fraser’s, maybe Maginn, but if this was the case, no corroborative evidence has come to light to support this supposition.
Maginn, through the pages of Fraser’s, also impugned Alaric Watts, his motivation being just as mysterious, there having been no ill-feeling, only friendship, between the two men (Watts 2.83). Watts found some retaliation by composing “The Conversazione” in his Literary Souvenir of 1832, hitting back, amongst others, directly at Maginn. Fraser’s, under the guise of ‘biography’ in the ‘Gallery of Literary Characters’, remarked “There is not a man to whom he has not been under an obligation from Jerdan to Lockhart…etc. etc.” The accompanying drawing was sarcastic and not drawn by Maclise from life, but from a portrait of Watts then on exhibition at the Royal Academy. (This corroborates S. C. Hall’s observation that Maclise seldom drew from life for his Fraser’s portraits.) UnlikeWatts Jerdan did not sue Fraser’s, which may be interpreted as his having no case to answer, or simply that he was too busy to take the time to refute the accusations. He was still showing signs of anxiety a few months later, rejecting some Essays of an unknown contributor:
The LG has been so very guarded, that matters which would be unobjected to in almost any other publication provoke severe animadversion in it. I am not myself inclined to be either too hypercritical or prudish, but having established a periodical upon certain principles, one is forced to be rather over-delicate than to risk censure on points, which if they could be defended there is no place wherein to defend them. [25 May 1832, The Pierpont Morgan Library, Bequest, Gordon N. Ray; 1987, MA4500]
On Christmas Day 1831, the Satirist, or Censor of the Times printed a squib with a title which would have made Jerdan and Landon very nervous indeed, “The Baby: A Dialogue between W. Jerdan Esq. and L.E.L.” The scene was set in a Back Parlour in Colburn’s shop.
Jerdan: O wondrous woman, pretty L.E.L!
To meet you gives me infinite delight.
My baby you’ve not seen, you’d like it well:
Lo! I’ll produce it, little darling wight!
L.E.L. O Jer! Your works, they say, do equal Brougham,
But think how all our enemies would sneer,
Should we be overheard in this back room
Talking about a little baby dear.
Jerdan: Charming L.E.L! Be not so coy;
My baby’s in the Keepsake, splendid book!
And not a word of either girl or boy –
You’ll nurse it now? I read it in that look.
L.E.L. Your baby I’ll not own; and, in addition,
I’ll tell you truly what I told A-ram
Bulwer, that, if writing’s your ambition,
Nothing you’ve ever penned is worth a d—n!
The following week, as a New Year Wish another verse appeared. Buried amongst other stanzas it said:
To Jerdan the ability
A ‘baby’ to produce
That LEL deign to own And nurse would not refuse.
Finding that the ‘Baby’ referred to was Jerdan’s contribution to The Keepsake for 1832, published in November or December 1831, rather than one of their flesh and blood babies, would have come as a huge relief to the secret parents of Ella, Fred and Laura.
‘Baby! An Autobiographical Memoir’ also appeared in two parts in The Mirror, under the heading ‘Spirit of the Annuals’. Jerdan chose as its epigraph a quotation from Landon’s novel Romance and Reality: “Death sends Truth before it as its messenger”, not a subject generally considered uplifting or cheerful enough for the annuals. It also raised the ire of the Royal Lady’s Magazine who noted that the novel was not due for publication for a further three months, and called Jerdan’s quotation “the puff-preliminary-extraordinary”. But they didn’t like his story either, calling it “intensely gross, filthy, nauseous, vulgar and indecent”, selecting those tid-bits they found especially distasteful so that they could share their spleen with readers.
Jerdan’s story was the twenty-four hours of a new-born’s life told by the baby himself, from the moment he emerged into the world roughly handled by a disgusting hag he perceived as trying to kill him. The harridan swigged gin, then fiercely rubbed some into his skull, scorching his brain. As this did not finish him off, she plunged him headfirst into a pan of water; he kicked and yelled, and “to gratify her hellish spite” she scraped him “from head to foot more in the manner of a dead pig than a living boy”. The next torment was to be tightly swaddled as an Egyptian mummy, finally tying a bonnet on his head, the ribbons of which were tight enough to strangle him. Having, as Baby saw it, had three attempts upon his life in the first thirty minutes of existence, he was left to himself to contemplate his sorry situation. The Nurse (“Curse would have been a juster title”), returned and poured a spoonful of something bitter down his throat from a bottle marked ‘Ol Ricini’, castor oil. “A sense of sickness took possession of me. I asked myself, Is this the food of human beings? Is it for the enjoyment of such delicacies as this that gourmandism and sensuality fill so prodigious an extent in the existence of men?” Defeated and exhausted, Baby fell asleep. When he awoke he was again assailed by Nurse who spooned a revolting substance called pap or gruel into his mouth. “…whoever sent the meat, the devil inspired the cook.” Wrapped in warming flannel he was again allowed to sleep. Later, on Nurse’s knee, he looked around the room, “so untidy that I could well understand why it was called a sick-room; it was enough to make any body sick.” He was carried to the window where Nurse tried to blind him by opening the curtains onto the glare of morning.
A small pantomime followed wherein the Baby’s father (“another ruthless enemy of mine”) entered, paid the doctor his fee, (“the bribe”), bent to kiss his wife in bed, (“putting his face close to hers gave her a smack which, though partially concealed, was perfectly audible to my ear”). Baby, full of rage and hatred, longed to protect his ailing mother, especially from the villain’s chin, which was “armed all over with sharp spears and short but cutting knives”. Desolate that his only hope of rescue, his mother, was also in the power of the Nurse, Baby’s soul died within him. Various females came to inspect him as the day drew on, one “a very old female whom they styled grandmamma, because she was dressed in a stately guise; this hideous person disguised herself by putting two round glasses over her eyes then came close to me…” It was insufferable, her powder drifted over Baby, causing him to sneeze and the company to laugh – “my curse be upon them for their inhumanity”. Baby was so debilitated by his dreadful experience of life that he stopped fighting. “Flayed, drowned, insulted, incapacitated, smothered, abused, tortured, poisoned, is it to be wondered at that I resigned myself quietly to the prospect of a release?” A man dressed as from a masquerade read a prayer over him, while the parents argued about a name for him. His last moments were of heavenly peace upon the soft bosom of his mother.
Unable to just leave the end of any story without interposing his authorial voice, Jerdan added that, not wanting to interrupt the “pathos and elegant connexion” of his tale, he had left until the end that Baby had stated during the course of his life that he “was a genius and born with a natural taste for literature”. Asked for a definition of Man, which even Plato could not provide, Baby replied, “Man is a writing animal”. Overcome by this “immortal answer” Baby is asked how his memory may be venerated. With humility he requested that upon his monument be engraved:
Since I have been so quickly done for,
What on earth was I begun for !!!
The notion of Man’s lifetime condensed into a single day of sorrows and disappointments and death is treated with some dark humour by Jerdan; it does not seem to have been provoked by any such dismal feelings in his own life at this point. On re-reading it twenty years later, he still thought it worthy of including it as an Appendix in his Autobiography.
For his second contribution to The Keepsake of 1832 he wrote “Scan.-Mag,” a lively piece about society’s delight in a scandal magazine. Reynolds, the editor of The Keepsake, appended a note to the effect that Jerdan had written it “in less than half an hour, in order to meet an exigency occasioned by the sudden and inevitable exclusion of a very able but long article on the same subject”. Whether the article itself was due from Jerdan, he did not clarify. Despite its haste, this verse seems more Jerdan’s natural style than the many melancholy poems he usually provided for the annuals; one of its five stanzas read:
You’ve heard of poor Miss M’s affair,
’Twas at the Oratory;
Upon my life I do declare
I crimson at that story
I told it to her aunt Mill Poll,
But she made sham to pout,
And call’d it silly rigmarole,
I knew ’twas roundabout!
And so long as tongues can wag.
I’ll tell it, fearless of scan.-mag.
Reynolds accompanied this hasty and amusing offering of Jerdan’s by an engraving of a painting by Smirke called Scandal, showing two women deep in exchanging gossip whilst a boy and dog play beside them. The Royal Lady’s Magazine was unhappy with this offering as well, penning their own satirical verse in sixty-five seconds, not the half hour that Jerdan claimed to have taken, advising readers that
Well – such poetry as this,
We never read before;
It’s really worse than L.E.L.’s,
And what can we say more?” etc.
Jerdan overcame his discomfiture over allegations of puffing, and despite rumbling rumours over his affair with Landon, he was either invited, or more likely applied for, a position of Commissioner of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of Middlesex. Writing on 31 January 1832 to the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Portland, Jerdan acknowledged his request for a testimonial of his fitness to be a Magistrate, and apologised that in response he had merely mentioned a few “noble and distinguished persons” who would give him a reference. Since then it had been pointed out that he should have taken the trouble himself to acquire such documentation, and he was now doing so (British Library, ADD 40879). A few days later he asked Lord Goderich (who had encouraged him to stand as Tory candidate for Weymouth) to sign a paper which he enclosed, recommending Jerdan to the Duke of Portland. In this same letter Jerdan had a bigger favour to ask. His son John Stuart had been working for the Abbotsford Subscription, but now Jerdan wanted a better position for him. Perhaps he harboured the same misgivings as The Times of 24 November 1832, which said that the nation, having paid off Scott’s debts, should not purchase Abbotsford; it should be for the family to take care of his house.
Having tried to see the Duke of Portland three times the previous week, Jerdan apologised for his intrusion in a letter of 5 February 1832: “I can only rely for my excuse upon the same goodness which principally led to my visit, namely your Lordship’s kind intuitions towards my son; the assurance of which has rendered both him and me very anxious, though truly feeling that your Lordship would not forget the hope you had created. Amid the cares and overwhelming fatigues of Office, may I beg gratefully to remind your Lordship of this.” He gently jogged the great man’s sense of obligation by remarking “I hope your Lordship received a very small book about six weeks ago which I offered for Lady Goderich’s acceptance” (British Library, ADD 40879). More than two months passed without news of a job for his son, so Jerdan tried again in a letter of 20 April, having noticed in the newspaper that a diplomat was retiring from the Buenos Aires Consulate, thus presumably creating a vacancy lower down. “Should it place aught in your Lordship’s power, I should be most grateful, for Stuart’s being unoccupied and unprovided for is a heavy weight on the mind of, My Lord, your faithful servant” (Britsh Library, ADD 40879). Humiliatingly, he was forced to beg again in July, saying how much of his welfare and happiness depended on Goderich’s kind promise to his son. John Stuart was at this time twenty-five years old, still apparently reliant on his father finding him a job. Jerdan’s persistence eventually paid off and his son was sent out to Jamaica as a Stipendiary Magistrate, a move Jerdan would come to deeply regret. No more was said about his own application to become a Magistrate, and he did not mention this episode in his Autobiography. This indicates that the testimonials he sought were hard to come by, or else that he had second thoughts about taking a position in which expense would be incurred. The very fact that Portland had even considered Jerdan for a position of Magistrate suggests that Jerdan had reached a certain status in society, entirely based on his editorship of the Literary Gazette. When he first made his application, he was extremely busy in another, more enjoyable, direction.
The more enjoyable activity in the winter of 1831-32 was the arrival in London of the celebrated Scottish poet, James Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd. Many of the “better classes of its Scottish residents” wished to honour him, and the task was undertaken chiefly by Jerdan and Lockhart (4.295). There was little time to organise the Dinner and Burns’ Night, 25 January, was chosen as an appropriate time. It was a hectic time for Hogg; he was being lionised, and partying every night. He wrote to his wife about the great Dinner being planned. It “will be such a meeting as was never in London…But do not be afraid, for vain as I am, it will not turn my head; on the contrary it has made me melancholy, and I wish it were fairly over… And all this to do honour to a poor old shepherd” (Miller 316).
More people than were expected wanted to honour the “poor old shepherd”. The organisers were taken unawares by the huge rush for admission. Nearly two hundred people crushed into the Freemasons Tavern, causing a chaotic delay whilst tables were lengthened. In Jerdan’s memoir twenty years later recollection of the Dinner was muted, concentrating mostly on the names of the titled and famous who were present. He also mentioned the presence of the sons of Robert Burns, the many toasts that were sung, and the “good laugh at the toastmaster’s proclaiming silence for the pleasure of a song from Mr Shepherd – Ettrick was terra incognita to him!” This account of what was clearly a noisy and riotous evening, just the kind of revelry Jerdan loved, pales next to the contemporary account in Fraser's Magazine of February 1832. Their article ran to fourteen pages, purportedly to correct the inaccuracies in a long list of newspapers and magazines (including the Literary Gazette) which reported on the great event. In true Fraserian style all these publications were lambasted for reports which “have been coloured by base adulation on the one hand, and by the still more abominable spirit of personality and the existing age.” Fraser’s listed the great and the good who attended, drawing them up in military formation: Booksellers Murray and Colburn, then “authors arraying according to the size of their works”, down to pamphleteers, then the “gentlemen of the press”, unshaven and predatory in habit. Finally, “the Magazine men lay on the flanks and came out, as Magazines usually do, in numbers” headed by Campbell and Bulwer. Jerdan was named too, taking the place of his friend Jack Mitford, a prolific writer but penniless alcoholic who had died in the workhouse just a month earlier. This assembly of literary men collected Hogg at his lodgings and paraded him down the intricate byways to the Freemasons Tavern, many stopping off at public houses along the way. Fraser’s reported that Cuff, the hosteller of the Freemasons, was overwhelmed by “the literature of London let loose upon him. Anxiety for his spoons first seized on his soul – then the horrible apprehensions of the fate of his viands under the ravenous grinders of the Scotchmen, hungry from the hills, and, as was evident from the appearance of their jaws, the generality of them having fasted for a couple of days, in order to be prepared for this dinner.”
Quoting from the Morning Advertiser, the Fraser’s account reported how everyone except the sixty or seventy seated at the centre table were served with food, and that these starving guests set up a clattering and banging of cutlery against plates, silenced only by the arrival not of food, but of bagpipes. Having paid their twenty-five shillings admission, and still unfed, they were given left-overs from the other tables and had to make do with that. Paganini fainted away at the sound of bagpipes, and fun was made of the gargantuan appetite of Sir John Malcolm who told his neighbour not to bother carving the duck, just put the whole thing on his plate, from whence it was quickly eaten. Toasts to the King and the Queen followed, and, controversially by one to “The Duke!” first called forth huge cheers, but then,
ceasing for a while, there came a shabby hiss, issuing from lips too cowardly to express any sentiment not worthy of the snake, very audible in one or two quarters of the room. It was the paltriest hiss that ever was ventured upon; it sounded like the filthiest fizzing of the filthiest water flung into the filthiest of fires.
Hogg’s response to his health being drunk was given by Fraser’s in full, starting in a broad Scots dialect quickly reverting to normal English – perhaps so that it could be more easily enjoyed by the readers. Hogg announced that he was born on Burns’s birthday, ascribing to this coincidence his own “undoubted talents” as a Poet. Tears of emotion and other toasts followed. All through this rumbustious dinner Hogg, according to Jerdan, “brewed sundry bowls of punch in Burns’s bowl, kept sacred for such anniversaries” (4.297). Picken, a fellow Scot, gave a long and patriotic speech upon the superiority of all things Scottish, citing famous Scots like James Watt inventor of the steam engine, James Patterson who established the bank of England, Walter Scott writer of the Waverley Novels, leading journalists and editors of magazines, “And who writes the Literary Gazette (another great work) but a Kelso Scotchman? [immense applause].” One can almost feel Jerdan’s happy blush, to be included in such an august collection. Hogg reminded the roisterers there were ladies in the room, albeit up in the gallery. Clearing his throat, he sang a song about “luve o’ bonnie lasses”. Yet more speeches and toasts were followed by another Scottish ballad sung by Allan Cunningham as a compliment to the ladies. Bulwer then responded to Sir John Malcolm’s toast to his health, announcing that he “loved a lord; and it is my delight to be a tuft-hunter”. He had prepared and practised a song for the occasion, playing with words commencing with “ass”, which he had been called previously by Fraser’s Magazine. One of several verses was:
Let. Landon declares I’m an ass-
onant to love and to beauty;
Cries Mrs. B. ‘O what an ass-
ociate in conjugal duty!’
There’s Jerdan exclaims, I’m an ass-
ayer of poesy’s pinions;
And I, too, affirm, I’m an ass-
enter to all their opinions.
Replete with “copious draughts of rude port” Bulwer jumped on to the table, dancing to the bagpipes, “to the amusement of the whole company, puffing being, he said, his business.” His capering broke several decanters and glasses. When he admitted to Cuff that he had no money to pay for them, Cuff threatened to call the police, refusing any credit to literary men. At the last moment Colburn came to his rescue, drawing a bill for almost five pounds to be paid to Cuff at six months. The altercation caused much noise and confusion, in the midst of which Allan Cunningham thought his pocket was being picked and punched his neighbour. Crofton Croker joyfully joined in, hitting anybody in range, Bulwer hid behind Colburn, “Jerdan and Patmore engaged in mortal combat, but we did not hear the result”, and Hogg judiciously departed the scene of his and Burns’s Dinner.
Jerdan saw a great deal of Hogg on this visit to London and they met often at various houses and entertainments, as well as at Jerdan’s home. Hogg took a fancy to Jerdan’s eighteen-year-old daughter Mary. He thought her beauty resembled a portrait of Mary Queen of Scots. On his eventual return home, Hogg sent her a formal proposal of marriage on behalf of his nephew, a surgeon leaving London to return to India. In a letter of 27 December 1832 concerned mainly with a Whig election victory at Selkirk, and deep anxieties over Sir Walter Scott’s Monument, Hogg regretted that his suit “had been so equivocally received by the lovely Mary.” He didn’t know how to go about getting Mary and his nephew together, but insisted “There never was a match my heart was so much set on as that, not even my own marriage, and I got a very lovely and amiable lady, for I regard William as quite a treasure” (National Library of Scotland, 20437/42-3.). Hogg sold his nephew hard, he had come home to find a wife, his future was secure, he required no dowry. Hogg urged Jerdan not to let Mary, “the wild sly-looking gypsy” decide, but that he and Jerdan should plan between themselves. Mary never met the surgeon and the matter was dropped. in Men I have Known Jerdan wrote that perhaps such practices were more common in the quiet part of deeply rural Scotland where Hogg lived (253).
The Ettrick Shepherd made himself well liked in the fine society of the capital, and charmed all who met him. Jerdan remarked that this was due to Hogg’s “manners and joviality, combined with his shrewdness, discretion and ready wit” (4.298), no small accomplishment for a man unused to ‘society’. He was however, an outspoken blunt man, and in recording several anecdotes about Hogg’s reactions to London society, Jerdan mentioned one especially memorable evening. He and Hogg were dining at Sir George Warrender’s, where Hogg enticed everyone away from the excellent claret and made them whisky toddies. From there they attended an evening party at the home of Mr and Mrs Samuel Carter Hall, Landon’s close friends. According to Jerdan, Hogg “was in his glory, crushed within a circle of fine women, like an Apollo, he sang song after song to their intense delight, and was in fact as great as Moore, or more.” Mrs Hall remembered that Hogg “shouted forth in an untunable voice, songs that were his own especial favourites, giving us some account of each at its conclusion” (Stephenson 53). It was on this evening that Hogg was introduced to Letitia Landon, of whose sullied reputation he had already heard and participated in spreading. Delighted with her charm, he declared that he “never thought she could have been sie a bonny sweet lassie” (Men I Have Known 252).Hall recalled this meeting slightly differently. Being the rigid moralist that he was, Hall was shocked at Landon’s decolletage, and was highly and vocally critical of Jerdan’s drinking habits. His recollection of Hogg’s impulsive reaction to Landon “in his rich and manly Scottish voice” was “I’ve said many hard things aboot ye. I’ll do so nae mair. I didna think ye’d been sae bonnie!” (Book of Memories 275). The feeling is the same, only the words are a little changed.
In a book about Hogg Jerdan was referred to as Hogg’s “malicious deevil”, but without attribution or giving reasons (Miller 314). Perhaps this was a phrase used by Hogg at an earlier time as, the Literary Gazette of 17 July 1824 reviewed Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner as “strange…mystical and extravagant (and what we dislike still more, allegorical)…a work of irregular genius…” Of Hogg’s Queen Hynde the Gazette observed, “Here is as much to censure as to praise…it is made tiresomely long…it defies our penetration to tell whether he means it to be serious or burlesque” (25 December 1825). They may have had their differences over these reviews, but Jerdan’s accounts of their close friendship on Hogg’s visit to London, Hogg’s desire to join their two families in matrimony, and Jerdan’s repeated efforts to get Literary Fund support for Hogg, belie this cruel epithet.
Jerdan missed Hogg when he finally left London, and found that “Grove House seemed to have lost its life, seeing his honest face look in daily no more, no laughing at his jokes, no listening with admiration and delight to his songs, nor hearing his most original descriptions of all he had seen.” Hogg’s powers of description in his poetry had always been a source of wonder to Jerdan. They had been talking about his poetry one day, and Jerdan “observed that he had put two exquisite rural images into a single line, quite equal to anything in Theocritus, or the most celebrated in Greek pastoral composition” (4.300). Hogg’s response was impatient, as on a similar occasion when he told Jerdan irritably, “Surely ye’re daft; it’s only joost true about the wee burdies, and the cows at e’en, and the wild flowers, and the sunset and clouds, and things and the feelings they create. ‘A canna fathom what ye’re making a’ this fuss about. It’s joost a plain description of what everybody can see: there’s nae grand poetry in it” (Men I Have Known 250). The literary critic in Jerdan wondered “was this beautiful passage suggested by unconscious inspiration? Or did he think that pure invention alone, and not an actual perception of beauties in nature, was poetry – imagination, not appreciation?” (4.300). Wishing to avoid the danger (as he saw it) of being knighted, with its attendant expenses, Hogg returned home to Scotland in March. A few months after this successful visit to London, Hogg again got into financial troubles. In June Jerdan once more applied to the Literary Fund on his behalf but without Hogg’s knowledge. This time the Fund provided forty pounds for which Hogg was grateful.
Jerdan had a small skirmish with the law, reported in The Times of 18 April 1832. Scripps, the printer of the Literary Gazette, had an ‘information’ preferred against him by a Mr Judge, for not duly stamping the issue of the Gazette dated 7 April, rendering himself liable to a fine of twenty pounds. Jerdan was present at the hearing before the Bow Street magistrate, but he was represented by his solicitor who got Scripps off on a technicality, based upon Mr Judge not being an officer of stamps. Jerdan’s lawyer remarked testily that the law had been framed “to clip the wings of common informers and prevent printers and publishers from being subject to vexatious informations.” Such actions were to become a thing of the past when, in June 1832, Bulwer Lytton opened a debate in the House of Commons which resulted, in 1836, in lowering the hated stamp duty from fourpence to one penny, and that on advertisements from three shillings and sixpence to one shilling and sixpence. These taxes were finally abolished in 1855, but it was not until 1861 that the heavy duty on paper was repealed.
Landon and Jerdan were seen together so often, and worked together so much on the Literary Gazette, it was inevitable that their names should be linked in print. A small thirty-two page booklet appeared in 1832, published by James Gilbert. It was called The Poetical March of Humbug! By the Great Unmentionable, being burlesque imitations of the principal poets of the day after the manner of ‘Rejected Addresses’ . Amongst those it made fun of were Jerdan and the poetess. “Well, reader, what do you think of Jerdan and his ‘own delightful minstrel L.E.L?” it asked. Accompanying this was a sketch of Jerdan in his armchair, puffing a cigar, a pile of books at his side, at his side a roaring fire, above which is a framed picture at which he gazes, of a muse holding a lyre. The title of the sketch is ‘The Editor of the Literary Gazette and L.E.L. or, “Puff” and his protégée.’
The identity of the author, “The Great Unmentionable” has not been revealed, but it has been suggested that Hook is the likeliest candidate, as he was in the habit of sketching in pen and ink on his letters and would have relished the discomfiture such a sketch would have caused Jerdan and L.E.L. who were in no position to sue over the innuendo implicit in this sketch. Beneath the sketch are supposed signatures, reading “Yours ever feesable (sic) W. Jerdan” and “Literally yours L.E.L.”, the latter a daring and blatant statement. The text explained, “The room before you is the Editor’s study, where he is generally to be found puffing morning and evening at a rapid and voluminous rate. His breathings of course, occasionally end in smoke, and such is the force of example, that several of L.E.L’s late effusions have terminated their career in a similar manner, by being thrown into the fire after a first perusal…” A narrative verse called The False Hussar and purporting to be “by L.E.L” followed – the tale of a young woman dazzled by the hussar, sitting on his knee and allowing him to kiss her; she later sees news of his marriage and dies of a broken heart.
Jerdan and L.E.L.’s descendant, Michael Gorman, reads much into this sketch, interpreting the lyre as liar; the position of L.E.L.’s head indicating that the burning fire would be around her loins, the cat (pussy) having obvious sexual connotations as well as the ‘cat being out of the bag’ as stand-in for a baby, the cup (Circean) on the mantelpiece with a spoon suggesting it is not fresh, the three objects alongside, possibly buns (bairns) referring to the three children, Jerdan’s position being a reverse of the famous Maclise portrait, possibly alluding to LEL’s rumoured affair with Maclise, L.E.L. is wearing a loose chemise similar to night attire and other indications that this cartoon was a smear against which they could not dare to take legal action.
Gorman suggests Hook as the author, basing his attributiom on S. C. Hall’s Book of Memories, which mentions Hook’s artistic habits. Hook was well known for hoaxes and satire, and Gorman’s suggestion might well be accurate. Despite considerable searching, no other possible author has been revealed.
Undeterred by being the butt of such a prank, Landon was as busy as ever. She believed some of her finest work appeared in the annuals, especially in Fisher’s Drawing-Room Scrap Book. In her letter to Croker, dated 10 October 1831, she told him that the work came at a good time for her: “a week ago Messrs. Fisher’s (sic) proposal would have been a matter of comparative indifference, but from some recent family events it is a perfect fairy-gift” (quoted Sharpe’s Magazine, February 1862 p. 64). The ‘family events’ may have been demands on her purse from her mother, brother, or upkeep for her children. She edited the Drawing-Room Scrap Book from 1832 until 1839, the final issue appearing after her death. It was distributed not only in London, but also in New York, Paris, Berlin and St. Petersburg. She was much more than editor: she was almost the sole author of all eight volumes of what has been termed “one of the most impressive annuals” (Sypher 1999). Jerdan remembered that “she had no assistance from any hand”, but contrary to this accepted view Maginn “used to repeat those poems which he had given to the fair editress, laughing heartily all the time at the little hoax they were playing off on the public” (Mackenzie 5.lxxxvi). From 1825 until the end of her life Landon wrote poems for many other annuals, including the Forget Me Not and its Juvenile version, Friendship’s Offering, Literary Souvenir, the Amulet, Pledge of Friendship, the Bijou, and The Keepsake. In 1833 she contributed all the articles and verse to the first volume of Heath’s Book of Beauty. Some writers and reviewers derided the annuals. When Thackeray wrote Pendennis in 1850 he satirised them quite savagely, but by that time, their day had long since ended. However, they were a welcome source of income for Landon, as well as providing her with many outlets for her particular brand of poetry. Jerdan reported that she received thirty pounds for The Easter Gift, which was in the form of an annual. About this time, Landon proposed a plan for a new type of annual, describing it in detail to Jerdan, and suggesting it be called The Choice. She left the scheme in his hands “as you know far better than I do what publishers might be likely to act upon the scheme” (Sypher, Letters 100). No such annual appeared.
Editing an annual was a coveted occupation, one not below the attention of the titled, albeit financially embarrassed Lady Blessington, who edited and wrote for Heath’s Book of Beauty and for The Keepsake. Her career was to intertwine with both Jerdan and Landon at various points, whilst her connection ensured that “persons of fashion” vied to be included in her annuals. Marguerite, Countess of Blessington, had had a turbulent past, born in Ireland, sold at sixteen by her father to an abusive husband whom she quickly left. Another, kinder man took her under his protection, and she eventually married Lord Blessington, a wealthy Irish landlord with whom she lived for many years. She was reviled in England for her past alliances, making life in London impossible, so she and her husband lived in great luxury in France and in Italy where she met and spent much time with Byron, an experience on which she later traded. Lord Blessington’s only legitimate son by his first marriage died unexpectedly; perhaps unhinged by this tragedy Lord Blessington became closely attached to Alfred, Count d'Orsay, changing his will in favour of the young Frenchman on condition that he marry one of Blessington's two daughters, then aged eleven and twelve, and leaving his wife an annuity of only two thousand pounds. This action laid the foundation for her later troubles. Blessington’s younger daughter Harriet Gardiner was the bride d’Orsay chose from the two on offer, although he showed no interest in her, or in most other women. Despite his apparent predilections, rumours later abounded that he had an affair with Lady Blessington. Lord Burghersh (to whom Jerdan had applied for contributions to the Foreign Literary Gazette), was the English Minister in Florence, and put so many obstacles in the way of the discreditable match (Harriet was only fifteen-and-a-half, at this point) that the marriage was finally performed in Rome in 1828. A few months later Lord Blessington died, leaving his estates in chaos.
Lady Blessington understood that she had to find a way to earn her own money, as the annuity was insufficient for her accustomed life style. Revolution was brewing in Paris and she returned to London, setting up home in Seamore Place, Park Lane, determined to create the relaxed and intellectual atmosphere of her salon in Paris. She was in fierce competition with other society hostesses, but aimed for a different group, for “men of taste”, in a club-like ambience where literature and the arts would be discussed openly, not solely politics which was on everyone’s lips at the time. Her visitors were mainly bourgeois, such as Dickens, Thackeray and Disraeli, “who were prepared to turn a withering satire upon all whose arrogance rested on mere accident of birth. To many of these spokesmen of the new culture, private passions came ultimately to count for less than public ills” (Buckley 27). Lady Blessington’s house was soon the centre of a lively group of clever men, enjoying her renowned beauty and her witty conversation. Some women made calls on her in the daytime, others were appalled at her presence in London, and she was not welcome to return calls anywhere, lest she offend high society. Her evenings were thus attended solely by men; d’Orsay was usually present, his child-wife out of sight elsewhere in the house. Up to this time Lady Blessington’s fortunes were dependent on d’Orsay’s legacy from her late husband, earned on his marriage to Harriet. He was a profligate gambler and spendthrift, running up enormous debts with gay abandon.
Lady Blessington was determined to satisfy her desire to fill her house with the kind of men she valued for their talk, to offer them a place to meet under the guidance of a sympathetic hostess of great beauty and social skill. Edward Bulwer came to her evenings, as did Jerdan, Disraeli and that moralising teetotaller, Hall. Deciding that to make money she should become an author, Bulwer, then editor of the New Monthly Magazine, agreed to serialise her Conversations with Lord Byron, from notes she had kept during her Italian travels. These appeared from time to time between July 1832 and December 1833. In the meantime, she asked Bulwer’s advice on writing novels. He was now a successful author and took her proposal to Bentley, who was to publish his next three books. Bentley offered Lady Blessington four hundred pounds for the copyright of her first book, a generous offer; in response, she produced six hundred pages in four weeks, of the total nine hundred and eight pages of The Repealers, published in three volumes in June 1833. This work contained thinly veiled references to her enemies in Ireland, but also directly complimented L.E.L.’s Romance and Reality. The success of her Conversations with Lord Byron and her novel obtained an offer for her to edit Heath’s Book of Beauty, the first volume of which Landon had produced. For Heath, the snob appeal of a Countess was more attractive than that of a mere poetess, however famous. She prepared her first issue during the summer of 1833 and it was published in November, to enable it to be shipped to America, India and the Colonies, but dated 1834. Contributors to this issue were her dear friends Walter Savage Landor and Bulwer, as well as Henry Bulwer and John Galt, and seven contributions from her own pen. Heath raised Lady Blessington’s salary when the Book of Beauty beat Landon’s popular Drawing Room Scrapbook by two thousand copies, a sore fact for Landon. (Most of the information about Lady Blessington comes from M. Sadleir, M. Blessington D’Orsay, a Masquerade. )
In the midst of all Landon’s workload of reviewing, poetry composition, editing and considering another novel, her grandmother Letitia Bishop died on 10 November 1832 at the age of eighty-two. According to Samuel Carter Hall, she was buried in the third grave in the new churchyard of Holy Trinity, Brompton. (This was not quite accurate; several burials took place before her own.) Hall quoted the letter Landon wrote to his wife: “I have had time to recover the first shock, and it was great weakness to feel so sorry, though even now I do not like to think of her very sudden death. I am thankful for its giving her so little confinement or pain. She had never known illness, and would have borne it impatiently – a great addition to suffering. I am so very grateful to Mr Hall, for I really did not know what to do. Her funeral is fixed for Friday; the hour will be arranged to his and Mr Jerdan’s convenience” (Hall 270).
Jerdan was therefore still much in evidence as her friend and colleague, possibly still as her lover, but it seems probable that their affair had run its course; he was certainly not her only admirer. Landon did not benefit financially as much as she had hoped from her grandmother’s death. Katherine Thomson recorded that the bulk of Mrs Bishop’s money had gone into an annuity, but that Landon received the residue of her estate. “£350 was every farthing she ever received after the age of seventeen, independently of her own exertions” (291). Thomson estimated Landon’s annual income to be £250 of which she retained £120 for herself, the rest going on the upkeep of her family. Thomson took her information from Jerdan’s Autobiography, just as she had already quoted his figures on Landon’s earnings for specific books. Jerdan received “the good old lady’s good old watch”, which was stolen from his pocket one night at the theatre (3.185).
During this year, Landon was at one of the gatherings at the home of Rosina and Edward Bulwer Lytton where Disraeli was also present. He snobbishly commented that he had “avoided L.E.L. who looked the very personification of Brompton – pink satin dress and white satin shoes, red cheeks, snub nose, and her hair à la Sappho” (Disraeli 71). He was in no position to be critical, having been described at Lady Blessington’s salon “with the last rays of the sunlight reflected from the gorgeous gold flowers of a splendidly embroidered waistcoat, a quantity of gold chains about his neck and pockets, a white stick with a black cord and tassel in his hand, and a thick mass of jet-black ringlets falling over his left cheek almost to his collarless stock.” Such gatherings were the brighter side of London life in 1832, when cholera was raging through the city.
One victim was David Blaikie, a Scotsman staying with family in Kensington. Blaikie had started the Edinburgh Evening Post and on selling it in 1829 purchased the copyright of the Edinburgh Weekly Chronicle. He also tried for two years to publish the Edinburgh Literary Gazette but ultimately found no call for it in Scotland. He and Jerdan knew each other well, and when Blaikie fell ill, Jerdan went to comfort him and his pregnant wife. The Liberal paper the True Sun (an offshoot of Jerdan’s old paper the Sun), published an account of Jerdan’s actions which the October 1832 New Monthly Magazine reprinted (461), Jerdan himself being too modest to divulge what had happened (begging the question of how the True Sun learnt of the story). “He found his friend Blaikie ill of this appalling, and perhaps infectious disease and he stuck by him nevertheless to the last. Mr Blaikie, we understand, died in his arms. He then takes the widow home to his house…” Mrs Blaikie gave birth to a daughter twelve hours after her husband was buried. The True Sun went on to admit that
the writer of this article has had occasion, in the course of his life, to differ much with Mr Jerdan and to be differed with by him. All idea of ill-will has long been done away, we trust, on either side, from a knowledge that on neither side was there any real ill-blood. But an instance of genuine feeling like this, with or without the numerous testimonies we have heard to this gentleman’s natural kind-heartedness, places him at once, we beg leave to say, in a high rank in our respect… Mr Jerdan, in all probability, is not exempt from the trouble common to most of us, he has assuredly this consolation within him – that he must believe in the existence of what is good and kind, because he has it in his own heart.
The author of the article was possibly Laman Blanchard who was writing for the True Sun at this time. Jerdan had put himself in danger by his kindness to Blaikie. A day or so later a mutual friend, a fine young man from Aberdeen, came to Grove House at 10 in the morning, to accompany Jerdan to Blaikie’s funeral. He looked ill, and Jerdan suggested he go home and call for a doctor. By five in the afternoon the young man was dead. A bereavement closer to Jerdan occurred at Grove House on 6 December 1832 when his sister Agnes, who had been staying with him, died at the age of 58.
Even disasters such as cholera did not halt Jerdan’s enemies from making opportunities to attack him. On 3 August 1832 the Age, which had long had Jerdan as its target, also disliked the exclusive Garrick Club and its members. They created their own tid-bit of scandal, reporting that Mr D lost his black gloves at the Garrick. “Mr D begs further to observe that Mr Jerdan has lately adopted black gloves. He used not to wear any.” A petty matter, but another stone to add to the mountain of scandal that attached to Jerdan over the years. Still occasionally active in the Society of Antiquarians, Jerdan exhibited a drawing and impression of a seal found in a field near Winchester; it was a stamp for woollen cloths for Southampton, dating from the time of Edward III ( Literary Gazette (March 1832) 202). He would have been amused to see that in May 1832 the always irreverent Fraser’s Magazine bestowed upon “The Antiquaries” the honour of a place in their ‘Gallery of Literary Characters’. Maginn, who was the author of the long-running feature, referred to a sketch by Croquis (pseudonym of Maclise) of the Society of Antiquaries at their meetings, having dispensed with business, enjoying their cakes and coffee. “Here stand and sit the A.S.S.es, great and small, long and short; in witness whereof behold the lengthy Jerdan, peering through his glass at every thing and person around him; while the five-feet nothingness of Crofty Croker has taken up a position under Jerdan’s elbow, sipping his coffee in the blessed unconsciousness of the fairyhood of his situation.” The rest of the article was in the same vein, noting, for instance, “Why the Society has two secretaries, is a question that has been asked in these reforming times. The necessity is obvious – because one can’t read, and the other can’t write.” For a popular journal to select such a subject throws an interesting light upon the level of public interest in, and awareness of, the learned societies, which could not be emulated today.
Having been balked at the beginning of the year in his wish to become a Magistrate, Jerdan turned his attention to other public matters. In October he was approached to offer his services to the Scott Committee, formed to memorialise the great novelist who had died the previous month. He replied enthusiastically in a letter of 8 October 1832:
The meeting which has so promptly and patriotically undertaken to devise the best means of testifying the national sense of our lamented loss in Sir Walter Scott, having done me the honour to invite my humble co-operation, I beg to say that I shall enter with very strong feelings into every plan for the promotion of this object. I lived on friendly terms with my immortal Countryman, and my family with his family; and I consequently have a deep private sympathy added to my sense of a public duty on this mournful occasion. [National Archives of Scotland, GD157/2029/6.]
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Last modified 29 June 2020