Decorated initial J

erdan’s reputation for kindness must sometimes have been a burden to him; he constantly heard hard-luck stories, tales of real tragedy, and endless requests to notice or publish work in the Literary Gazette. In the space of a few months between January and August 1847, even bearing in mind that Jerdan’s professional star was waning, he was begged for help by one friend who was convalescing from throat cancer, another who claimed to be owed fifteen thousand pounds salary and wanted Jerdan to assist him in getting his plight noticed in The Times; from Mrs Bray whose brother had died, she was continually ill and Colburn offered her only half profits on her next book, along with requests to insert three sonnets about pictures in the Royal Academy Exhibition, and a review of a book, The Law of Costs, and to visit an artist’s studio to review his latest work. (Bodleian d. 114, f95, 113, f37, 113, f135, 114, f194, 113, f122).

Towards the end of 1847 Bentley was preparing to republish Letitia Landon’s Romance and Reality. In a letter dated only 6 February, likely to have been in 1847, Jerdan had told him, “My Pickersgill portrait of L.E.L., if you have any idea of an engraving from it, might be in Burlington Street for your judgment, and pledge for £25 which it would cost to have it from deposit with other pictures (not pawn mind you!) Be that as you please: I think it wd largely increase the sale of her Novels.” By November 29th he was again corresponding with Bentley: “I shall be very happy to co-operate with you in producing Romance and Reality or any other novel of L.E.L. you may wish to publish…and I think I offered you, for a small expence, the use of a fine portrait by Pickersgill, if you wished an Engraving, or thought it would largely promote the sale.” Bentley republished Romance and Reality in 1848, with a ‘Memoir of L.E.L’. by Jerdan. In the ‘Memoir’ Jerdan explained how he had made time to encourage Landon’s writing, a role that he now related, with some self-congratulation, and no fear of contradiction:

Cherishing the ruling passion, there was an incessant community of thought; every line and every motion of a soul imbued with a quenchless thirst for literary distinction and poetic glory was submitted for my advice; mine was the counsel that pointed the course and the hand that steered the bark, and the breath that filled the sail: was it then to be wondered at that the conscious progress towards the fruit of this engrossing ambition should resolve and extend itself into an enthusiastic feeling, even on such feeble foundations of affection for the guide and the hyperbolical estimate, which magnified and illuminated every trivial and common feature till very slight, if any, resemblance to the original remained? The world was only opening and unknown to her, and she might – even holding her child-like gratitude in view – both feel and say, “For almost every pleasure I can remember I am indebted to one friend. I love poetry; who taught me to love it but he? I love praise; to whom do I owe so much of it as to him? I love paintings; I have rarely seen them but with him. I love the theatre, and there I have seldom gone but with him. I love the acquisition of ideas; he had conducted me to their attainment. Thus his image has become associated with my enjoyments and the public admiration already accorded to my efforts, and he must be all I picture of kindness, talents and excellence.

Gratitude is prone to such illusions, and especially where combined with the fire and fervour of genius; and if We love the bird we taught to sing, how much more intensely must we cherish the love of the bird that sings in such a strain? [3.172]

Even ten years after Landon’s untimely death, and his involvement in a recent and expanding family of his own, Jerdan’s emotional memories over-rode his sense of propriety. (According to the 1861 census, Gilbert, the ninth child, was born in Chelsea in 1848.) Pressed for time he wrote irritably to Bentley on April 23rd, “I was not aware of the exact desire for L.E.L. correspondence this month and you gave me very short notice…I have hardly known which way to turn to get well through. Could you postpone the matter till June and do my uttermost to have something good for you? Might a short notice do, just referring to the republication of Romance and Reality?” This short-tempered protest may relate to a “Biographical Sketch of L.E.L.” which appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany of 1848, on pages 532-34, with an accompanying portrait of the poet, an engraving after Pickersgill, therefore apparently the portrait to which Jerdan had referred earlier. This “Sketch” is unsigned and it is by no means certain that Jerdan was the author. My examination of the Bentley Papers in the British Library has not revealed the author of this biographical kketch. Since Bentley had commissioned him to write the “Memoir of L.E.L.” in his new edition of Romance and Reality it seems likely that he also asked Jerdan for this biographical sketch as a means of promoting the new edition. It is indeed a sketchy piece, even to the extent of relying on a quotation from Laman Blanchard’s biography for a description of L.E.L.’s physical appearance, which could well reflect the pressure Jerdan felt he was under at this time.

Possibly suggesting an investment in the Literary Gazette as the Irwin brothers were on the verge of dissolving their partnership with him, or maybe the idea of a Scottish edition, Jerdan seems to have proposed some sort of arrangement to his friend Halliwell. Whatever the plan was, Halliwell thought better of it. Disappointed, Jerdan wrote to him in 12 May 1847: “I regret extremely that we cannot see a means to the union we both desire. I wd help it by every way in my power, but a certain amount is directly needful. I am quite sure that it wd be a most eligible thing for you in a literary point of view as furnishing an object for regular pursuit, and I am equally certain that it would be very profitable for all parties” (Edinburgh LOA 55.47).

Jerdan had expected Halliwell to make an investment in his project but Halliwell, knowing his friend’s track record, decided against it. Some aspect of the financial proposal offended him, as Jerdan remarked,

I have read your letter with very sincere regret and am sorry indeed that any circumstances should appear to you incompatible with the function I had hoped to effect. The arrangement I wished to try might probably have been merged into that of the reversion you spoke of; and was, even without that, so simple and safe that I fancied I had hit on the readiest of means if the bankers agreed.

Reflecting his apparent financial difficulties, the Literary Gazette office moved yet again in August 1847 to 300 Strand, and the long-time publisher Scripps retired. The printing of the Literary Gazette was then undertaken by a Mr Silverlock of Doctors’ Commons, an arrangement which led to a law suit three years later. Jerdan wrote to Bentley on 7 August 1847 that his IOU which his son, probably William Freeling, had given Bentley, was on Jerdan’s behalf and “comes with the [cancel?] of all pecuniary obligations between us when we agreed about the L.E.L.copyrights At all events (under circumstances) I rely on your so considering and letting him have account clear, in full, today as he wants it specially for Somerset House.” Somerset House was then home to three learned Societies, the Navy Office and the Inland Revenue. One might speculate that it was with the latter that Jerdan’s son so urgently had business with Bentley’s money.

Jerdan was not alone in his constant financial problems. By this time Lady Blessington, although still occasionally holding her salons at Gore House, was in increasing difficulties. The Irish potato famine had a direct impact on her annuity, which had dwindled over the last few years then ceased as people fled Ireland, and no funds were forthcoming. She turned to Bulwer, who helped her get part of the income due from the trustees, but she was forced to pledge her jewellery for loans. A further blow struck when, in the autumn, Heath the financier of the Keepsake and the Book of Beauty died bankrupt, owing her seven hundred pounds for her work. His administrators reduced her salary for editing the two annuals which hung on a little longer, but the craze for annuals had subsided and they did not continue.

Although not suffering the fate of the annuals, Bentley dropped Jerdan from his contributors to the Miscellany. His contribution had anyway been sparse in this decade, one in 1840, one in 1844, and the last scrappy offering in November 1846. Grieved at the tone of a note from Bentley, on 23 January (letter carries no year but likely to have been 1847) Jerdan protested,

I know not how it is, but the least trifle on my part seems to be taken as a high offence, whilst I see others rewarded for years of wrong and hostility. I have been the first and best friend to literature and publishers – and for you certainly among the foremost have felt an anxious wish to promote your interests by every friendly act both of service and forbearing…To conciliate foes is perhaps more prudent than to favour friends who will not neglect or forsake you on any grounds. It is too much the way of the world, and I have no right to expect being made an exception.

Jerdan was obviously hurt by what he saw as Bentley’s lack of trust in him, and this letter set out as clearly as any of the statements in his later Autobiography, what his philosophy was. Bentley seems not to have responded, and on 22 June Jerdan wanted the last word: “As you have cut me and my offering for the Miscellany I am sure you will not be displeased to learn that my literary amour propre has carried me elsewhere. My vanity whispers that the rejected of Bentley may be popular enough in other quarters, but I would not change my beat without telling you.” This letter was undated as most of Jerdan’s letters were, and may refer to his recent review of Wright’s biography of Hume in Tait's Edinburgh Magazine or to some other plan he had in mind. Relations with Bentley were again, or still, at a low ebb.

Jerdan’s Literary Gazette was often the first journal to review a new book or a new translation. He greatly admired the fairy tales and stories of the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, many of which had become available in English translation by 1846, and he gave Andersen’s work glowing reviews. Andersen loved to travel and was planning another tour when, in the autumn of 1846, he received a letter from Jerdan suggesting that he visit England where he would be warmly received. Andersen’s long reply in Danish, which has been partially translated in E. Bredsdorff’s biography, mentioned his interest in Shakespeare, and especially in Sir Walter Scott whose novels had helped him to forget hunger and poverty. “How dear do I not hold Bulwer,” he continued, “how fervently do I not wish to press Boz’s hand…” Jerdan sent it on to Dickens, who returned it with a note dated 30 March 1847: “His spirit shines through him in all he does. It is the most single-hearted, innocent, captivating letter I have ever read in my life.” Charles Beckwith Lohmeyer, Andersen’s friend, and translator of his travel sketches, A Poet’s Bazaar, wrote to Jerdan assuring him that Andersen “considers your journal the principal medium through which his writings have been made known to the English public”. Jerdan was not Andersen’s only fan in England: Dickens admired his writings, and Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett wrote about his work Improvisatore in their love letters, whilst Thackeray told a friend, “I am wild about him, having only just discovered that delightful, fanciful creature” (quoted Bredsdorff).

Jerdan wrote again to Andersen in March 1847 apologising for the long delay in replying to his letter. “I hope you will think of me and the matter, as of a horse in a mill, so incessantly engaged in drudging round and round, that it never has any time to look out for a bit of pleasure like other beasts of burden…” He assured Andersen that only ten days previously he had told Dickens “how warmly you spoke of him, and he was exceedingly flattered by your good opinion…no one will be more desirous to give you warm welcome than he will be.” At this time Andersen had a poor grasp of English, although he was taking lessons and, knowing this, it is rather strange that Jerdan's letter went on to a wider discussion about the state of the country:

At present our literary world is very dull. Irish Famine, like Pharaoh’s lean kine, seems to eat up all that is worth anything, physically, morally, or intellectually. The failure of potatoes has led to the failure of mental culture, and the arts and literature may fast without a royal proclamation. The mechanical sciences alone continue in full activity; for they bring money, direct as cause and effect and money is the mighty idol to which all bow the knee in a Commercial Country.

This is a fascinating idiosyncratic light on an aspect of the terrible potato famine. Jerdan’s apparent disdain for “money” can only be simulated – it was a commodity that for him was in increasingly short supply. However, he was excited at Andersen’s imminent visit as the Danish author arrived in London on 23 June 1847. He was feted at the houses of Lord Palmerston, Lord Castlereagh, Lord Willoughby de Eresby (introduced by Jerdan), and Count Reventlow, the Danish Minister. He was quickly taken up and lionised by London society, and was soon writing back to his friend in Denmark that he was exhausted by the relentless round of parties, reigniting his anger that he was not properly recognised at home in Denmark. There had not even been time to meet with Jerdan who wrote on 29 June, “I grieved to leave London without seeing you; but I hope you have received an invitation to a City feast tomorrow and are free to accept it, as I shall run up by rail from Oxford on purpose to call on you” (Anderson). Although Andersen was gratified by the high society who entertained him, he was not meeting some of the writers he wanted to see. Jerdan tried to make a dinner party for him to meet Bulwer, Dickens, Macready and Harrison Ainsworth, but it was not possible to arrange this. Dickens, however, sent a parcel to Andersen containing “twelve marvellously bound volumes of stories by Dickens with the even more marvellous dedication: ‘To Hans Christian Andersen from his Friend and Admirer Charles Dickens’” (J. Andersen 402). Jerdan sent Andersen a note that he would call at 7 o’clock on Friday to take him to Lady Blessington’s to dinner. Blessington, of course, was not “received” in the higher echelons of society, but the literary men and artists she gathered at Gore House were precisely the milieu that Andersen sought. Jerdan took Andersen to see her on 6 July, and she invited them to a dinner party she planned in Andersen’s honour ten days later. Dickens would be there too. On 14 July 1847 he wrote Jerdan: “I dine at the Gore House on Friday, when we will discuss our great question. Tell Andersen not to let the nimrods of London kill him, but to live and write more books. I mean, if I can, to live and read ’em” (Andersen).

The day of Lady Blessington’s dinner party finally dawned, and Andersen described the occasion in a letter to a friend, telling how there was a portrait of Napoleon in nearly every room and that his neighbour at dinner was the Duke of Wellington. The Emperor of the French was also present, and Jerdan was amused that “the bewildered author could by no means reconcile himself to the fact that the nephew of the mighty Napoleon, and the son of the conquering hero could sit down, even with a lady between them, without fighting a l’outrance” (Leisure Hour (1 February 1868): 144). Lady Blessington herself was wreathed in splendour and magnificence. As Andersen was signing a copy of his book for her,

a man came into the room, exactly like the portrait we have all seen, a man who had come to town on my account and had written ‘I must see Andersen!’ When he had greeted the company, I ran from the writing table over to him, we took each other by both hands, gazed in each other’s eyes, laughed and rejoiced. We knew one another so well, although we were meeting for the first time – it was Charles Dickens. He comes up to the highest expectations I had of him. [Bredsdorff 189]

Now that the two great writers had met, through Jerdan’s introduction, their relationship blossomed for a time. In the Literary Gazette of 17 July 1847 Jerdan reviewed The True Story of my Life, which had been translated by Mary Howitt, but he began with a eulogy of Andersen:

Herr Andersen has now been three weeks amongst us, in the literary and refined society of London, converting that admiration and popularity into warm personal regard, affectionate esteem, and cherished friendship. Every one who has met him is delighted with his character, in which is united to acknowledged originality of genius and poetic imagination, a simplicity the most captivating, and a candour and truth of that rare nature which lays the individual soul, as it were, open to the view of the most heedless observer.

He ended by noting that Andersen was “this truly excellent man, delightful poet and original and fertile author.” He also called him the counterpart of Jenny Lind, the Swedish singer known as ‘the nightingale’, with whom Andersen had fallen platonically in love (Bredsdorff 189). in fact, Andersen’s friend in Copenhagen, Edvard Collin, sent a copy of Jerdan’s article to the Berlingske Tidende so that it could be quoted, but the Editor said it would be doing Andersen a disservice and make him a laughing-stock in Denmark if he quoted from an article in which he was seriously compared to Jenny Lind.

Joseph Durham from the 1866 Illustrated London News.

The young sculptor Joseph Durham wanted to make portrait busts of each of them and he asked Jerdan to arrange a visit. “I wish to bring my young Artist friend to call on you”, he told Andersen. “He will just take your physiognomical dimensions with the Callipen and then prepare his clay for modelling” (Andersen). A week later Jerdan reported how delighted he was with the bust: “The man and the Poet are there.” To persuade Jenny Lind to grant Durham another brief sitting “to finish the mouth”, Jerdan urged Andersen to tell her that “the plot for taking her was mine, and that my Literary Gazette was the first publication in England which made her rare endowments known to the public.”

Andersen stayed now and again with his countryman, Joseph Hambro, founder of the eponymous Bank, at whose house in Kilburn he was invited to rest and relax. Discovering this, Jerdan wrote in July from his new home at 21 Beaufoy Terrace, Edgware Road, “My residence is a hundred yards removed from Kilburn which I only left in June, and had I known you were so near me, I might have been tempted to disturb your repose.” He invited Andersen to stop in at his “humble cottage” when he passed that way. Jerdan did not explain why he had moved house, but it was likely that he needed a cheaper rent than at Kilburn Priory.

Andersen travelled to Scotland, armed with a letter of introduction from Jerdan to Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review. Jerdan also asked him to take a letter to his brother at Kelso and sang the praises of his homeland’s attractions. He received a letter from Andersen from Edinburgh thanking him for all his “friendly attentions”, and asking Jerdan to arrange for him to meet Bulwer-Lytton and Dickens on the only two days he could spend in London before leaving England. On his return from Scotland he called on Jerdan, who immediately sent a note combining the personal with the commercial:

I was much affected by your visit this morning – a sad pleasure I shall never forget. I did not tell you how I thanked you for, and valued, your portrait. It shall be one of my Loves. …I send you six Lit. Gazettes of today and hope you will like the account of my much-loved Busts. I shall always be proud of having procured such treasures to be made – it will link my name hereafter with those of Andersen and Lind! If convenient, please present one of my Journals to your Ambassador, and others to any friends in London, Germany or Denmark. I shd. much like to have the Column about your’s and Lind’s likeness translated into the publications of those countries.

Bentley had published Andersen’s novels, and A Poet’s Bazaar, but not his Tales. Andersen spent a couple of days with Bentley at his home in Sevenoaks, Kent, and was impressed with his “wonderful house, very elegant, footmen in silk stockings waiting on the guests – that’s what I call a publisher!” (Bredsdorff 190). Andersen did not manage to meet Bulwer, who was busy electioneering, but he met other writers, including Leigh Hunt. In response to Andersen’s plea to see Dickens before he left, Jerdan advised him that Dickens was staying with his family at Broadstairs in Kent. Andersen wrote to Dickens that he would be arriving in Ramsgate the following day, prior to taking the steamboat for Ostend. Dickens invited him to supper and the following day walked from Broadstairs to Ramsgate to say goodbye. Andersen confided to his Diary, “He swung his hat and finally raised one hand up toward the sky; I wonder if that meant, we won’t see each other again until up there” (J. Andersen 404). It was to be ten years before Andersen visited England again, but he continued his correspondence with William Jerdan, as well as with Dickens.

Strangely, despite his evident admiration for the Danish writer and their personal friendship, Jerdan did not mention Andersen in his own , written only five years after Andersen’s visit to England. This is doubly curious, given Jerdan’s penchant for name-dropping and Andersen’s ever-increasing fame and popularity. One can only speculate on the reason for this omission, perhaps caused by events which occurred between the visit and the book’s publication, which caused Jerdan much heartache and changed his circumstances.

American authors were increasingly popular in England. Jerdan was keen to promote them, recalling his success with Washington Irving’s Sketchbook over twenty years earlier. Fenimore Cooper, prolific author of books such as The Deerslayer, and Last of the Mohicans, wrote to Jerdan in July 1847. Jerdan’s reply told Cooper that he was gratified by his letter and by his new work. This was Mark’s Reef, or The Crater, which was reviewed on the front page of the Literary Gazette on 9 October 1847. Cooper seemed to have made Jerdan a proposition, to which the response came, “I will with pleasure negotiate an arrangement with a London publisher for your next production and hope the notice of the last will facilitate that process and be to your advantage” (27 September 1847, Huntington Al 228). Jerdan was once again willing to act as agent for a writer. Richard Bentley had published Cooper’s The Pathfinderand The Deerslayer in 1843 and had undertaken to publish The Bee Hunter and Captain Spike in 1848. In 1854 The Sea Lions was published by Routledge. Possibly Jerdan was instrumental in this change of publisher, having just at that time written the introduction to a book Routledge published, so he may have had a hand in it. Referring to a mutual acquaintance, Jerdan told Cooper, “Robert Egar (sic) is a bit of character, and I hardly know what had become of him. He once bought me an alotment of land in New Brunswick, I don’t know what became of that?!!” How like Jerdan not to follow up an investment which could have proved lucrative, especially as this Robert Egar was his brother-in-law, according to Lanman’s story. Charles Lanman tells the story of his meeting with Robert Eggar or Egar (spelling varies) in chapter 21, “The Hermit of Aroostook” of his Adventures of an Angler in Canada .

The end of the year note ‘To Readers’ that appeared on 25 December of the Literary Gazette revealed Jerdan’s disappointment and frustration that his journal, now reverted to sixteen pages, had not grown in circulation since he became sole owner:

We confess, it strikes us, that the distinct class of periodical writing most nearly allied to such a paper as the Literary Gazette, has not acquired that extent of circulation which it ought to reach in a community desirous of knowledge. When we see statements of 40 or 50,000 copies being issued by very commonplace miscellanies, mixtures of all sorts, we consider it strange and unfortunate that a similar fortune should not attend those which by mature systematic arrangement, increasing diligence, large expenditure, and the employment of eminent talent, aim at supplying, and do supply, a continuous stream of intelligence worthy of every inquiring mind. [889]

Jerdan’s dig at “commonplace miscellanies” was probably aimed at Bentley; his portrayal of his own journal, which had barely changed for thirty years, was the way he perceived it, though his claim to employ “eminent talent” may be questioned as income from the Gazette at this point could not have afforded “eminent talent” fees. Indeed, in December Irwin and his brother withdrew from the Literary Gazette, having a Dissolution of Partnership drawn up, making official a break which had already occurred.

In the same Christmas Day issue, Jerdan set out his unchanged editorial policy. He compared – favourably of course – the education young people could derive from “the truly instructive Periodicals”to those who did not have the advantage of reading them. He made a large and unprovable generalisation: “Provision, advancement, and honours, are gained or lost to thousands upon this single ground.” Regretting the proliferation of cheap magazines, available on every street corner, he commented, “The very low prices, alas, of several very respectable papers, are their just and deserving recommendation. But still, for effects worthy the grave attention we have, in these remarks, endeavoured to incite, we must adhere to our opinion, that the habitual cultivation of the youthful mind by such easy and attractive means is a desideratum of much private and national consequence.” The cultivation of young readers by giving them a weekly paper full of the latest literature (as long as it was ‘moral’), arts and science news, had ever been Jerdan’s object, one that it is hard to quarrel with, even a century and a half later.

In pursuance of the science aspect of contemporary activity, the Literary Gazette had devoted considerable attention to Fox Talbot’s photographic invention and also to his later developments. Jerdan was clearly fascinated by the process and aware of its importance. By 1848 his acquaintance with the inventor had gone beyond the solely professional stage. In a letter of 1 December 1847 he told Fox Talbot: “I have kept a space open for you in the Literary Gazette to the latest day every week for some weeks past. Have you given up the idea of setting the Quarterly right?” (Talbot Correspndence 2258) He advised that he had signed the proposal form for the Royal Society of Literature and Fox Talbot would be elected at the next meeting; indeed, Fox Talbot’s name is on the list of Members for 1847-48 where Jerdan’s name appears on the Council. Three weeks later, complaining of suffering severely from gout, Jerdan enthusiastically told Fox Talbot that he had been delighted with the latter’s manuscript which he had just read: “To my mind it is precisely what the literary world and the public in general will enjoy. It is as if a professed Bruiser, having assaulted a Gentleman, had met with a queer Customer in an unexpected stand-up encounter, and been handsomely punished and floored, to the great gratification of the lookers on – I am convinced this will be the universal feeling on the perusal of your masterly exposition” (6063).

The manuscript in question was the one “to set the Quarterly right”, and appeared in the Literary Gazette of 1 January 1848. It filled six pages and was a good-humoured, sarcastic, scholarly debunking of the highly critical review of Fox Talbot’s English Etymologies which had appeared in the Quarterly. The reviewer was jovially shown up as not having done his homework, by Talbot quoting his sources going back centuries, and demonstrating his familiarity with Latin, Greek, French, German and Italian. It was just the kind of witty yet erudite rebuttal which would have delighted Jerdan in its own right, and allowing the Literary Gazette to be the mouthpiece of Talbot’s riposte to the august Quarterly would have been the icing on the cake. The Gazette’s own review of Talbot’s book had been warmly enthusiastic so to support Talbot’s own response Jerdan added an Editor’s note. Conscious that his paper was frequently accused of being too kind, he said he had taken the trouble to verify many of Talbot’s etymologies and to check out those which the Quarterly had challenged. In every instance Talbot proved correct. This being the case “we must plead guilty to the critical offence of being too good-natured, instead of infusing the proper abuse, and indiscriminating, instead of righteously bitter in the detection or misapprehension of errors.” Rubbing salt into the wounds of the Quarterly’s reviewer, Jerdan pompously observed that “[Talbot’s] high position in the social and literary scale, and his remarkable discoveries in science (honourable to his country), ought to have saved him from rude assault; and the censor would remember that at least decent language was due to one who, in one scientific pursuit alone, had made a name that would never perish.”

Standing firm for a friend whose invention or work he championed was one aspect of Jerdan’s editorial duties; another, as mentioned earlier, was the expectation that he would act as arbitrator in authorial quarrels. In 1848 John Forster published his Life and Adventures of Oliver Goldsmith. Eleven years earlier James Prior, who had published his own Life of Goldsmith, was enraged at what he alleged was Forster’s piracy of his work. He lobbied Jerdan in his letter of 17 May 1848: “Of course I do not know whether you have touched upon Mr John Forster or not. I do not wish to hamper you with him in any way disagreeable to yourself, and therefore beg you to choose your own way of treating the matter. Only I think in an independent journal of Criticism, a gross piracy and specimen of book-making the most egregious should not pass unnoticed and uncensured.” (Bodleian d 114, f154). Prior supported his allegation with evidence of the piracy, claiming that of the whole of Forster’s work only one and a half pages was original. A few days later on 20 May 1848 the Literary Gazette’s review appeared. Jerdan sat firmly upon the fence, declining to enter the fray, but explaining the reason for the lateness of the review

Our difficulty, therefore, has not been with the nature of the work, but with a vexatious literary quarrel which has sprung up out of it, between two persons with whom we have lived in friendly intimacy for many years. We hate all feuds, and especially where our being involved as umpires, either publicly or privately, does not promise to be productive of any good. Therefore, liking this book much per se, it has distressed us to find the question raised by Mr Prior, on the propriety or impropriety of using the materials he gave to the world eleven years ago, and, no matter in however able or graceful a form, reconstructing them into a rival publication. What is the time within which it is just and fair for an author to avail himself of the labours of another? Is eleven years a sufficient length of protecting copyright, either partially or entirely? This Mr Prior denies, and a correspondence has ensued upon the subject, which, as it is likely to come before the public, we have considered it most fit to mention, and from its unpleasantness excuse ourselves for the delays in reviewing Mr Forster's handsomely embellished performance. The Question, on personal grounds, we must leave, without an opinion.

Jerdan was unwilling to take sides in such a contentious matter, although saying that Forster’s book was “a very attractive and ably written volume, beautifully and characteristically illustrated and every way calculated to gratify popular taste” was an indication of his true sympathies. This was not good enough for James Prior who, the following year, published an open letter accusing Forster and Washington Irving of pirating his book.

The Literary Gazette of 3 June 1848 listed Jerdan as both printer and publisher, but within a few months Jerdan changed the printers of the Literary Gazette to Messrs Savill and Edwards, who did a reliable job in producing the magazine “without accident…before six o’clock every Saturday morning” (20 May 1848). There was much work involved in printing the Literary Gazette. Jerdan, as was the practice in the first half of the nineteenth century, calculated the amount of letterpress he provided for the readers. The first issue of 1848 calculated the output for the previous year as 910 pages containing 2730 columns, of which 530 columns were advertisements, the remaining 2200 columns of text averaging 680 words each.

Besides the change of printers, the Literary Gazette was undergoing financial and other pressures. Jerdan seemed distracted. The Gazette had always prided itself on its early reviews – in the old days often before the book was published – but now Jerdan found himself a whole year behindhand in reviewing Alfred Tennyson’s The Princess. The magazine’s treatment of the poet had varied wildly in the preceding years, labelling his works as “eminently disagreeable”, “intolerable”, in “perpetual discord”. In the issue of 8 Dec. 1832 Tennyson had been accused of belonging to the “Baa-Lamb” school by which was meant, “a preposterous inclination to engraft antique phraseology upon commonplace notions which occur to everybody” (773). However, ten years later the Literary Gazette for 19 November 1842 admitted that Tennyson had poetical genius, was “foremost of our young poets”, but was often “too grand” (788). Then, on 12 August 1848 Jerdan acknowledged his inconsistencies in his tardy review of The Princess, unusual for his candour and uncertainty:

That we are behind most even of our heaviest and slowest contemporaries in the notice of this volume, is a fact for which we cannot satisfactorily account to ourselves, and can therefore hardly hope to be able to make a valid excuse to our readers. The truth is, that whenever we turned to it we became like the needle between positive and negative electric poles, so attracted and repelled, that we vibrated too much to settle to any fixed condition. Vacillation prevented criticism, and we had to try the experiment again and again before we could arrive at the necessary equipoise to indicate the right direction of taste and opinion. [530]

His metaphor of the needle was an apt one for his own life at this point, pulled hither and thither by the many demands of family and the Literary Gazette.

Jerdan’s lack of understanding of Tennyson, as earlier of Wordsworth and Coleridge, can be seen as evidence that he failed to grow or to change with the times. As Robert Duncan points out, “he is patently inadequate in the face of new forms and new ideas”, charged one writer. “The editor avoided the difficult task of dealing with ideas, by concentrating on a line-by-line and passage by passage dissection, on diction and style. When the forest was impenetrable, he contented himself with a close study of the trees” (246). The charge has some basis in truth, and Jerdan’s difficulties with modern poetry may have had their roots in his early alliances with harmonic poetry, with the safe and comfortable world of Landon’s mythological, sentimental poetry, and the “new” poets seemed to him discordant and difficult.

If he was distracted by changes he could not easily cope with, some help was at hand. William Freeling, Jerdan’s son, wrote to Halliwell on 11 July 1848, sending him the second volume of Pepys for review in the Literary Gazette. “My father says that the Athenaeum review (I enclose it) is too carping and nasty and he would like you (without at all fettering or biasing your judgment) to take a more liberal view of Lord Braybrooke’s volume” (Edinburgh LOA 38/45). The following month however, William Freeling was back to his usual task of raising money. Macready noted in his diary on 26 August, “Mr Jerdan Junior called with a note from his father who has been taken in execution, asking my assistance. I told him my means would not allow me to advance money. I read his note and asked the amount of his liability; he told me £50 odd, of which he had part, and wanted only £15. I therefore wrote him a cheque for the money.” With help, Jerdan managed to stay out of debtors’ prison, but his friend Alaric Watts was not so fortunate, spending months incarcerated during 1848, with little effort to secure his release being made by the Peelites for whose cause he had long worked, at huge cost to himself. It was not until the premiership of Lord Aberdeen in 1854 that Watts was granted a pension of £100 per annum.

Jerdan and Hans Christian Andersen continued to correspond once the Dane had returned home, and the 8 January 1847 issue of the Literary Gazette favourably reviewed Andersen’s Christmas Greeting to my English Friends published by Bentley. About Andersen’s tales, Jerdan observed astutely that

subjects which to ordinary minds would not suggest a single idea beyond their external form or use, become in his alembic, profuse of matter and reflective illustration, and his invention invests them with human vitality and superhuman interest; out of both which result the purest sentiments, the purest morality, and the sagest advice. And to contemplate the charm, the radiant colours of poetry are thrown over the whole with a lavish hand, so that we are at a loss to tell whether we are most benefited by the real, or delighted by the imaginative.

. On 17 March 1848, more than six months after his visit, Andersen wrote to Jerdan:

My happy stay in England, where you in particular, contributed so much to my comfort, stand so vividly in my thoughts that it almost appears to me as if it were but a few weeks since I was there; if however I look into the almanac it shows me that it is months since, and I reproach myself for not having written to you, not thanked you for the indescribably hearty reception you gave me, and that good feeling you have show towards me. [Andersen Center & Leisure Hour (1 February 1868): 144]

Andersen’s beloved King Christian had died, he told Jerdan, and he was deeply concerned at events unfolding in France. Two “sunbeams” however had fallen on him, a letter from Dickens and one from Jenny Lind who was about to return to London. Andersen asked Jerdan to remind Durham of his promise to send casts of his and Lind’s busts and was anxious to receive them in time for the opening of the Danish Gallery of Art. Charging Jerdan with giving his compliments to Lady Blessington and to Dickens, Andersen asked him also to “Give my heartfelt greeting to your lady and children.” The “lady” could only have been Mary Maxwell and the “children”, the nine she and Jerdan had at that time. This is a very infrequent reference to Jerdan’s latest family being introduced to any of his literary friends. He may have made an exception in Andersen’s case as his visit was fleeting, and he may never have even known of the existence of Jerdan’s first and second families with Frances and L.E.L.

Jerdan reassured Andersen that the precious busts were safely packed and on their way to him. He told Andersen wryly that Durham “has just finished one of me; but is wroth with my ‘flexible countenance’ as he calls it, and cannot satisfy himself with the likeness.” According to Macready’s diary entry for 1 April 1848, he had passed on greetings to Dickens and they would drink to Andersen at the next week’s Dombey Dinner, which Macready, D’Orsay, Forster, Thackeray, and other attenedd and about which he commnented, that it was “a day interesting in its occasion but strangely assorted. Still, dear Dickens was happy.” He had also greeted Lady Blessington on Andersen’s behalf, and told Andersen that in reply she had written, “I have seldom felt so strong an interest in a person of whom I saw so little; for he interested me as being quite as good as he is clever, and of how few authors can we say this! (Andersen Center).” Andersen had promised to send her a story for The Keepsake which she needed by the end of June. Having brought his friend up to date, Jerdan told him, “ the impression you left in my little domicile does not wear out at all, but yr. portrait, your looks, your kindly and affectionate manners are stored in a manner that years will not efface. We all love you” (Andersen Center).

A week or so later Jerdan made a rare exception to George Canning’s dictum about eschewing politics. Just before the decisive, but ultimately fatal, battle of Schleswig, against more than 20,000 Prussians who had crossed the border into Jutland, Andersen wrote a long letter to Jerdan concerning the political situation in Denmark. Jerdan printed his letter in the Literary Gazette of 29 April 1848. It was a brave attempt on Andersen’s part to call for peace and understanding across all of Europe, and he had been asked to write this letter by his government, in his role as an internationally renowned and respected Dane who was known for his innocence and pacifism. His letter, sent to other publications as well as the Literary Gazette, showed Andersen’s belief in Europe, and his faith in an intercultural community (J. Andersen 408). The goal of peace should be achieved by calling the enemy to order in an unwarlike manner:

In our time the storm of change passes through all lands; but there is One above who changes not – it is the just God. He is for Denmark, which only demands its rights; and they will and must be acknowledged, for truth is the conquering power for all people and all nations. May every nationality obtain its rights, and all that is truly good have its progress! This is and ought to be Europe’s watchword, and with this I look consolingly forward. The Germans are an honest, truth-loving people; they will get a clear view of the state of affairs here, and their exasperation will be transformed to esteem and friendship. May that hour soon arrive! And may God let the light of his countenance shine on all lands.

It is a measure of Jerdan’s respect and admiration for Andersen that he used the Literary Gazette for political ends, something he had been careful to avoid throughout the thirty-one years of his editorship. Unfortunately for Denmark the Prussians occupied Jutland; Andersen wrote to Richard Bentley, “Denmark is a small country, she is being overpowered, she is suffering the greatest injustice; she is bleeding to death. Britain has guaranteed us Schleswig, we have looked confidently towards Britain. Noble, high-minded Britain! Oh, that help might come. Just from there I should like to see it coming, there where my heart has grown firm by the friends I have there and by the spiritual nationality I have acquired there” (Bredsdorff 221).

Britain had its problems at home, struggling to recover from the crisis of the Irish potato famine. Parliament had finally voted ten million pounds to help Ireland, by passing the “Soup Kitchen Act” in 1847, but this aid stopped long before it should have done (Fraser). Horrified by 53,000 deaths from cholera.html in this year alone, Parliament had also passed a Public Health Act under which Sir Edwin Chadwick set up the Board of Health. This enforced proper buried sewage systems, dramatically increasing life expectancy. The Chartists’ final petition was delivered without demonstrations, and revolutions on the Continent were not reflected in Britain. Samuel Smiles ‘Self help’ doctrines became popular and the country’s trading supremacy was unparallelled. The novels of the Bronte sisters appeared and women writers such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Harriet Martineau and Eizabeth Gaskell raised eyebrows and awareness with their passionate representations of women’s aspirations and the realism of their social and political situations. A new world was opening before his eyes, but it was one to which Jerdan seemed oblivious.

In the Literary Gazette of 27 January 1849 William Freeling Jerdan was listed as printer and publisher, perhaps a final attempt to breathe some life into the dying journal, or to dissociate it from the aging editor. On the surface, life went on as usual. Jerdan still served on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature, signing the certificate electing Austen Henry Layard as an Honorary Member of the Society. He still received some requests – but by no means as often as before – to ‘notice’ new books in the Literary Gazette. The poet Eliza Cook, who was to write a tribute poem on his death, asked him for the favour of printing a review of her Journal. This was a miscellany directed mainly at women and the working classes, encouraging education and opportunities for expanding the mind. It ran for 291 issues until 1854. “I promise you my Journal shall not disgrace your mention of it”, she told Jerdan on 10 February 1849. “I am preparing in a very steady and business-like way…and your great credit for the ‘judgment’ I evince (don’t laugh) and everything promises well…I shall be right glad if I can get your word of praise for my endeavours” (Iowa MsL C771je). Jerdan had earlier praised many of Cook’s poems which had been published in the New Monthly Magazine and other publications, and must therefore have admired her political, reforming stance, and been flattered that his opinion and blessing was still sought.

Another reformer, but with a capital R, was the highly successful novelist and politician, Jerdan’s friend Bulwer-Lytton, who on 15 January 1849 sent him “‘the child of my love’ – later portions better than earlier, the whole the best thing I have ever done” (Bodleian d. 114, f52). In his Autobiography Jerdan printed a letter from Bulwer which asked for his opinion on the work, flatteringly relying on Jerdan’s good judgement on matters of poetry, as Bulwer knew that his prose works had met with general approbation (4.208). These letters appear to refer to a poetic work King Arthur, as a review of three and a half columns appeared in the Literary Gazette of 3 February 1849. The reviewer thought that although the book had many merits and superior qualities, these would preclude the chance of popularity as the world was too busy for epics.

Although to Jerdan’s great disappointment Halliwell had declined to enter into a financial arrangement with the Literary Gazette the two continued to correspond quite vigorously, with Jerdan encouraging his friend to review the volumes of Pepys and others. Jerdan was only too glad now of contributions from other people, whereas in the heyday of the Gazette he had more material than he could cope with. “I assure you,” he wrote to Halliwell on 14 February 1848, “I never think half so well of an Literary Gazette as when I see contributions of my esteemed and able friends in it. When there is too much of Mr J. in the We, I get very fidgety and dissatisfied” (Edinburgh LOA 8/28). He had been away in the country to recover his health and was now much improved and optimistic. “I flatter me that the Gazette has been very much to the purpose for some months, and I am glad to tell you that ‘my pensive public’ seems to be of the same opinion…with good help we bid fair to mount now a few hundreds in 1849 then all wd be velvetty.” This was a far cry from the numbers of two decades previously, and he was still in difficulties. On 16 June 1849 he tried Halliwell again, following a furious row between Halliwell and the British Museum: “Do recent matters make any change with you to incline you to take up a regular trade in LG? I am and it is kept sadly back for want of a free and impulsive Capital. Within the last six months it has been regularly extending in circulation and needs only liberal outlay to bring rapid and large returns. However, I merely repeat the suggestion as you formerly thought well of attaching yourself to a regular literary pursuit” (Edinburgh LOA 8/65.) Jerdan may have been more optimistic than accurate in his claim of growing circulation, struggling as he was to keep the paper afloat.

The Bodleian Library, Oxford

Jerdan went off to Oxford for a few days, and on his return wrote on 24 June 1849 to Halliwell: “(Isn’t it nice to be in the Bodleian at quarter to 4 of c. and dining in Russell Square at 6?) …I regret you do not see the way to a connection which I think might be very pleasant and advantageous – affording me ease, and to an extent, a medium and object for employing your literary talents, profitably to LG [Literary Gazette] and JOH [James Orchard Halliwell]” (Edinburgh LOA 18/42). Desperate as he was for matter to fill his paper Jerdan maintained his usual standards, telling his Edinburgh friend on 6 July 1849 “I like your Rev[iew] of PC very much, but as it resembles that style which we condemn and repudiate, i.e. the finding out all the blemishes, and not discovering merits, I wish much to quote a column or two of the matters you generally praise, so that we may show the laudable as well as the defective together. Will you pick me out such fair balancing” (Edinburgh LOA 37/45.). Halliwell’s review of Peter Cunningham’s A Handbook for London Past and Present, published by Murray, duly appeared in the Literary Gazette of 28 July. Despite Jerdan’s request it was a highly critical but scholarly review, objecting to the indiscriminate mixing of information about ancient and modern London. Halliwell could not bring himself to find much to “balance” his poor opinion. A few weeks later things had not improved: Jerdan told him on 25 August 1849, “I am nearly at my wit’s end and there is such a scarcity of matter to work on at present. I shall therefore be very glad of a long review of Pepys” (Edinburgh LOA 8/1.)

Jerdan’s friend, the author and society hostess Lady Blessington, was at a crucial time in her life also. Creditors were baying for payment and Gore House was in a state of siege. She realised that d’Orsay would be sent to prison because of his own huge debts, so she arranged for him to leave the country quickly. Arrangements were made for the sale of all her belongings and the lease of Gore House. Lady Blessington wrote farewell letters to Sir Edwin Bulwer-Lytton, Benjamin Disraeli, John Forster, and Walter Savage Landor. In mid-April she left England. The sale enabled all her and d’Orsay’s creditors to be paid. The Gore House lease was to bring her a surplus of £1500, but her lawyers waited in vain for instructions. Lady Blessington had died suddenly, at the age of fifty-eight, from an apoplectic seizure and heart disease. A heartbroken d’Orsay built his benefactor a huge monument in Chambourcy; Landor wrote the Latin epitaph (altered when it was engraved on the stone), and Barry Cornwall an English one. D’Orsay died two years later, aged fifty-one, and was buried alongside Lady Blessington. So ended the mercurial life of one of the few friends in whom Jerdan could confide his feelings about Landon, and at whose house so many literary alliances had been made. His own tribute to her said:

I visited her constantly in St James Square Mayfair, and Gore House; and the more I saw and knew of her, the more I loved her kind and generous nature, her disposition to be good to all and her faithful energy to serve her friends. Full of fine tastes, intelligence, and animation, she was indeed a lovable woman; and, by a wide circle, she was regarded as the centre of a highly intellectual and brilliant society. [4.320]

A little light relief came Jerdan’s way on 10 June 1849 when the ‘Britton Club’ met at the house of Mr Hill, once Sheriff of London. “Mr Jerdan (the veteran editor of the Literary Gazette) was complimented in connection with the Periodical Press, to which toast he made a reply, replete with erudition, acute criticism, and witty comment” (Britton 134). His speech went down so well that he was asked to commit it to paper. After some jocularity and raillery, Jerdan spoke about the Club’s founder, John Britton, likening his literary life to a small boat tossed on the waves, finding at last a safe mooring – the little boat metamorphosing by stages to a splendid ship. At another meeting, recalled Britton, Jerdan produced a series of verses “not only specifying the names of all its members, but intimating some of their characteristics. Near the end, he included himself:

What think ye of such Club? – There yet remain
The Scribe, so oft reproved for wretched jest,
To whom ye owe this load of doggrel strain,
Proof that more ways than one he is a pest. [137]

The following month the Britton Club reassembled at Norbury Park, home of High Sheriff Grissell, to plant a cedar tree marking Britton’s 78th birthday. Jerdan told the company that many temples and idols of the Chinese were made of cedar, a sacred tree, no less sacred on British soil, where it was so laudably dedicated to hospitality and friendship. This lively gathering took place on 10 July, just before the storm broke over Jerdan’s head. Whilst the clouds gathered, the following day he attended an entertainment at the Mansion House where the Lord Mayor welcomed members of the Royal Society, Royal Academy and men distinguished in literature, including Dickens and Thackeray. The gap between Jerdan’s public and private life was about to become a chasm.

At the same time as Jerdan was struggling valiantly with his failing finances, he also became embroiled in a legal dispute which was instigated by HRH Prince Albert. The case concerned some etchings made by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, which had somehow fallen into the hands of a Mr Judge. This came to light when Judge asked the Royal couple’s permission to exhibit these etchings and was refused on the grounds that they had been stolen from their private apartments. Judge contended that he had bought them as ‘waste’ from a printer in Windsor, and the case had gone on for some time. Jerdan became involved, and swore an affidavit, because he had caught wind of the proposed exhibition and said on oath that he had asked the publisher of the etchings, William Strange, to allow the Literary Gazette to have a list of the exhibits and requested that he should be invited to attend a private view. Judge published a 74-page pamphlet setting out his case and in July 1849 this pamphlet was ‘reviewed’ on the front page of the Literary Gazette; it included considerable extracts of those sections naming Jerdan as guilty of inserting a notice of the forthcoming exhibition into his paper before Judge had received the Queen’s permission. The matter had caught the public’s attention because the Literary Gazette was so widely copied by country papers that the news had quickly spread. Jerdan refuted all of Judge’s accusations point by point, concentrating on how he acquired his information in the first place. Jerdan’s affidavit referred to his meeting with Strange, but Judge pointed out that he had in fact met with Strange Junior, while his father was two hundred miles away. He argued that Strange Junior had been merely polite to Jerdan and had no knowledge of a proposed catalogue or exhibition. In his ‘review’ of the pamphlet, Jerdan dismissed this detail as an ‘oversight’ of no consequence to the case. Judge insisted that he had bought the unauthorised proofs in good faith and only wished to demonstrate the Royal talents to the British public; he had received no permissions but several law suits. Jerdan’s involvement, although seemingly central in promoting Judge’s plan by publicising the list of etchings and promising an exhibition, was in reality no more than an Editor doing his job of giving eager readers news hot off the press; unfortunately for him, it was off an illegal press. No penalty appears to have been incurred by Jerdan or the Literary Gazette as a result of the Royal ire, which was heaped solely on the shoulders of Judge and Strange.

It was fortunate for Jerdan that the proceedings did not prove worse for him, as he had quite enough to cope with at this time. On 28 July 1849 his solicitor, Benham of Essex Street, Strand, filed a declaration of Jerdan’s insolvency (National Archives, B/6/77). The notice was printed in the London Gazette of 31 July where Jerdan’s address was given as 62 Milton Road, Milton-next-Gravesend, an address that does not appear on any other surviving document, and noted that he was “late of” 21 Beaufoy Terrace, Edgware Road, where he had moved in June 1847. He was instructed to appear before the Court of Bankruptcy at Basinghall Street on 9 August to “make a full discovery and disclosure of his estate and effects”. He was also told to appear on 18 September when his creditors should make their claims and the procedure would be completed. No record of the hearing on 9 August exists, but the second hearing on 18 September was reported in the Times on the following day. An adjournment was agreed to give Jerdan time to explain certain details, “particularly as regards an alleged partnership”. A balance sheet had been filed, covering two years, showing that on 2 July 1847 Jerdan’s deficit was £6,104. Some of his affairs were listed, showing the following income and debts:

Unsecured creditors £5790
Secured creditors £5378
Profit, about £3167
Credit side, debtors £351
Bad debts £100
House expenses £1184
Law charges £237
Estimated value of
property held by creditors
Payment of annuities etc. £602

The adjournment offered Jerdan a little breathing space, as the next meeting was postponed until February 1850. An editor’s footnote to a letter of Charles Dickens dated 4 November 1850 says that Jerdan came before the Bankruptcy Court with debts of £11,000, and that he had sold the Literary Gazette to his son in 1849. It is not clear how either of these facts were substantiated, although the fact that William Freeling’s name had been listed as printer and publisher in the January Literary Gazette may have been the source of this assumption. Jerdan’s financial difficulties probably included the fact that he had not kept his own account books for the Literary Gazette, having relied on Longmans for nearly thirty years; his losses, and the measures he took back in 1826 to avert disaster then, came home to haunt him now as he had no resources to fall back on.

Struggling under this blow, trying to maintain his ailing Literary Gazette, and mourning the loss of his dear friend Lady Blessington, Jerdan was faced with another disaster when, in October, his younger brother George died, aged 65. “So near and dear to us, it is not in these pages that we would indulge in the expression of our sorrows,” he wrote in the November 1849 Gazette after quoting the bare facts from the newspaper obituary, “but a few words are due to the literary antecedents and position of the deceased.” A brief history of the Kelso Mail followed, crediting his father John Jerdan with influencing its creation, together with a footnote about his father’s weekly court and his encouragement of the schoolboy Walter Scott. George’s continual efforts on behalf of local agriculture and his presentation on retirement with “a handsome piece of plate” were mentioned, and then Jerdan allowed himself a more personal note:

In private life we believe, we may truly say that no individual of his station was ever more generally esteemed. His judgment was acute and sound, and Scottish hospitality had in him a pattern, when his abode was favoured with the visits of authors or artists of southern fame. His delight in them was evinced by every attention which could lead to their enjoyment of the lovely and interesting country around his native place, and friendships were consequently formed with many of the distinguished ornaments of our literature and arts. An affectionately attached family, still more sensibly, lament his loss. [849]

His extended family life caused Jerdan his usual roller-coaster of emotions: Mary Maxwell’s tenth child was born in Kilburn and called George after Jerdan’s brother (1861 census). At the very end of the year Jerdan’s daughter Mary Felicity Power, who was on a visit to England from Ceylon, died in London at the home of her brother William Freeling, and his wife Louisa Richards at 10 Grafton Street, St Pancras. Mary was only 35 years old, and left her husband with a son, Edmund, and at least one other child. Her husband who was in the Civil Service in Ceylon had not accompanied her on her journey to England. Her death certificate noted that she died of “Dysentery 4 years ulceration of bowels, Anasarca 1 month”, indicating that perhaps she returned to England for treatment of her chronic condition (Registration of Deaths, St. Pancras, 1.286). “I grieve to think of all she must have felt in leaving her little ones in this cold world with their father far away”, wrote a friend G. Innes on 1 January 1850, a friend consoling Jerdan (Bodleian d. 113, f266). Mary’s widower, Edward Power, remarried in 1863 to a woman half his age, eventually moving to Wales where he died aged 75 in 1886.

It was perhaps around this time that Jerdan’s wife Frances, had had enough of her wayward husband. She moved out of her home and, with her youngest daughter Elizabeth Hall Dare, went back to her childhood home of Bentley in Hampshire. They moved into Whiteley Cottage, where the 1851 census shows them as neighbours to the Bull Inn on one side, and a large family of agricultural labourers on the other. Frances’s sisters Mary and Ann, now aged seventy-four and sixty-seven, shared another cottage in Bentley village; perhaps here, in the quiet countryside, Frances found the peace of mind of which she had been deprived throughout the long years of Jerdan’s infidelities and financial upheavals. Certainly, he was now in the throes of the worst of these.


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Last modified 11 July 2020