LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

In Whig Society 1775-1818
Matthew Gregory Lewis to Lady Melbourne, [October 1802]

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
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“Your Darling arrived here on Wednesday
last dripping wet, but otherwise in good case and in good spirits. He is at present busily employed upon the composition of a Domestic Newspaper which has been lately established at Inverary and of which he has been appointed Editor for the present week. Three have already been published with great applause, but (in spite of all care) not without some heart-burning: the Fourth of course will possess all the merits of the three former, unaccompanied by any of their defects; for you know it would be impossible for
William not to do everything better than anybody else. To tell you the truth (but tell it not in Gath, & let it not be heard in the streets of Askalon) I have some difficulty not to be of the above opinion myself. Inverary is as full as it can hold—& fuller too as the Irishman said. Bed-rooms are in great request and William and Kinnaird being the last comers, are moved about from chamber to chamber, never knowing one night where they are to sleep the next. Whoever passes a few hours out of the Castle is certain of finding one of the two new-comers established in his room when he returns; & a formal complaint was lodged yesterday by a great Russian Count, that he only stept out for half an hour, and the first things which He saw lying on his bed when He came back, were a dozen pair of Kinnaird’s leather breeches. Our theatricals are in a flourishing condition: We played The Rivals last Monday, and though I say it, that should not say it, it was really very well acted. Lady Charlotte in particular played Julia as well as ever I saw it performed. Wm. Campbell was a capital Sir Anthony; and my Sister made a very good Mrs. Malaprop, only her wig not being
properly fastened, the strongest interest which the Audience seemed to take in the performance, while She was on the stage, seemed to rest upon the single doubt, whether her perruque would fall off or not. Among other dramatic schemes it was attempted to get up (what
Mr. Skeffington calls) a walking ballet, and a machine was actually made in which my Sister was to fly up into the clouds in the character of the Queen of the Fairies. Unluckily the want of an Orchestra put a stop to this daring attempt, to the great mortification of the Authoress, who had taken infinite pains in instructing her performers, though her exertions had been repaid with very little success, & very great ingratitude; for the story was voted extremely dull, and the actors made no scruple of wounding her feelings by telling her, that they thought it so. At length at the conclusion of a rehearsal, Lord Lorne being ordered to present her to the Queen of the Fairies, in order to be punished for her crimes, he made her offence sufficiently clear by saying at the same time ‘She composed this Pantomime.’ This gave it a death-blow, and the first excuse that presented itself, was seized to lay it aside.

“We are now preparing The Citizen and The Mock Doctor, in the latter of which I have persuaded William to play the part of Leander, but He obstinately refuses to be dressed as a shepherd with a wreath of roses & a bunch of cherry coloured ribbands ornamenting his hat, which I am clearly of opinion is the proper dress for the character. I purpose leaving this place with Beaujolois on Wednesday next; William and Kinnaird stay two days longer, when they set out in company with Lady Charlotte & her
suite. . . . I did not think it necessary to congratulate you on
Pen’s election-success, as I trust you are aware how sincerely I rejoice at whatever gives you pleasure; but I own, if asked my opinion, I should have said, as the Dissenter did to Frederick, ‘Truly, Sir, we should have liked your second Brother better.’

“Yours most truly,
M. G. Lewis.

“P.S.—William’s Newspaper has just appeared, in which He informs the Public that He is at length stationary in Lady Augusta’s Dressing-room.”