LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
Horace & James Smith II
Horace Smith to Peter George Patmore, 6 October 1838

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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“It is many years since I resided in London, or even saw a play there, and such marked changes have latterly occurred in the conduct of our theatres and the dramatic taste of the public, that I feel some hesitation in offering an opinion upon this comedy as adapted to an audience of the present day. But I have no difficulty whatever in declaring that, when measured by the very best works of a similar class that I have either seen or read,† it seems to me to be one of those genuine and legitimate comedies that ought to command a great and undoubted success. Its merits are of a high order—sterling—indisputable; and, if they be not recognised as such, I can only repeat that the public taste must have been changed very much for the worse.

“So much for the general impression pro-

* This comedy has just been published, under the title of “Marriage in May Fair.”

† The italics are the writer’s own.

duced by its perusal. Now, for the objections that have occurred to me, and which, very probably, would not have occurred to me had I been more conversant with the actual stage.

“I don’t like the title, which will tempt the wags to turn the play into ridicule, should it not be very favourably received, and which may be avoided by prefixing the word ‘assumed,’ or ‘affected.’

“The first act, I think, would bear a little compression. In these days, when so much bustle is required, I would not make the whole act (however the unities may be preserved) consist of only one scene. Change of scene, even from one room to another, keeps attention awake, and assists an audience, just as a frequent division into chapters enlivens a reader.

“Act ii., p. 2. I agree with Mr. Ward, in thinking that it is rather hazardous to say too much about Belton’s wit; for it makes it deuced difficult to write up to your own character. Parts of this act recal ‘The School for Scandal;’ and, in the next act, I was reminded of ‘The Road to Ruin;’ but in neither case is there anything more than
a general resemblance, nor anything that I would alter.

“Act iv., p. 1. Lady Falkland’s talking of a separation, on so very slight a foundation, is too strong. Might she not say,—‘Some wives, if they were thus treated, would insist on a separation,’ &c.

“Act v., last scene. If Belton is to be dismissed without any redeeming traits, or feelings of repentance, I think he gets off too cheaply. Couldn’t he be more completely humiliated and exposed? Nor would I dismiss him with a threat that points to a duel, and leaves a doubt upon the minds of the audience whether the comedy, after all, may not have a tragic conclusion.

“I agree with Mr. Ward in thinking that more might be made of Emma,—particularly in some scenes with her brother, and that she is unnecessarily lowered by being so very easily bestowed upon Wildgoose. I am also of opinion, that the audience ought to be let into Madame Beaumonde’s honest intentions, that they might sympathise with her, as she proceeds to carry them into effect, and enjoy more the defeat of Belton.

“I have now stated every objection that
occurred to me,—many of which, as it will be seen, are extremely frivolous; but I wished to state my impressions fully and candidly. Let me repeat, however, I am no judge of dramatic writing as it is now pursued, and that, if the author of such a comedy as this cannot insure success, he has at least deserved it.

“H. S.
“6th Oct., 1838.”