LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward I

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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The commencement of my literary intercourse with the author of “Tremaine” was immediately antecedent to the commencement of his own literary career in 1824; and as that intercourse speedily led to a personal intimacy and correspondence, which lasted, nearly without intermission, till his death in 1846, and therefore included the whole of the most remarkable phase of his remarkable life, I do not suppose any apology will be expected from me for the extent to which the following selections from my correspondence with Mr. Plumer Ward will reach, as compared with those relating to the other subjects of these Memorials.

There is indeed a something (not easily to
be described) about the writings of
Plumer Ward, which is calculated to excite, and, in point of fact, did and does excite, a stronger feeling of personal interest and curiosity as to the individual character of their author, than arises from almost any other similar productions of our own day.

This is, no doubt, the secret of that irresistible charm which those writings possess, for that large proportion of their readers who feel the quality to be a beauty and a benefit; and to such readers it cannot but be an acceptable service to show them that their instinctive feelings of personal sympathy and regard are not unfounded. And even by the critical few who look upon this quality in the writings of Plumer Ward in a different light, these Recollections will probably not be thought wholly worthless, as a contribution to the personal history of the literature of our time.

There is another reason why I have felt in some measure called upon to undertake the (to me) gratifying task in question. It is that, from accidental circumstances, hereafter to be explained so far as may be needful
to the purpose I have in view, there is, I have every reason to believe, no one else living who has equal means of satisfying that curiosity and interest which still prevail, and which will undoubtedly prevail still more hereafter, as to the literary life of
Mr. Plumer Ward—that portion of his public life which will be remembered and dwelt upon with admiration and gratitude when his career as a politician shall long have been forgotten.

As the in many respects valuable and important work of Mr. Phipps touches very briefly on this branch of Mr. Ward’s career,* it will, I think, be felt that, so far from its having (as might at first be supposed) preoccupied the ground I propose to take in the following pages, it has but fitly and conveniently paved the way for them; it has, indeed, in some measure rendered them necessary, with the view to a more complete knowledge and appreciation of one of the most remarkable men of our day, and one whose writings have assuredly as good a chance of going down to posterity, and ranking among

* Out of 988 pages, his literary career scarcely occupies the odd 88.

English classics, as those of any one other who can be named in connexion with the same important department of our literature—not even excepting those of
Walter Scott himself.

I will conclude these brief introductory remarks by observing, that there can perhaps scarcely be a more striking instance cited of the supremacy of literary over political pretensions in this country in the present day, than that of Mr. Plumer Ward. For nearly twenty years Mr. Ward occupied a position in the House of Commons and in political life, only second to those of the great leaders Pitt, Percival, and Liverpool, with whom he acted from the commencement to the close of his political career; his services in various high and important offices being ultimately rewarded by his sovereign, at their voluntary close, by an ample and honourable provision. Yet when, after only two or three years of retirement from public life, he came before the world anonymously as “the Author of Tremaine,” he derived more immediate distinction, and more lasting celebrity, from that one unlaborious result of his lettered leisure
(not to mention that personal gratification to which his correspondence will so pleasingly testify), than he had gathered from his share in the political triumphs of a career which included the unexampled successes of the Pitt and Percival ministries. And while all the world were anxious to testify their admiration and gratitude to the successful writer, not one in a thousand of these had ever heard of his name as the statesman and politician. So certain is it, that while all of us almost instinctively recognise the validity of the shrewd old statesman’s sneer at the small amount of ability that usually goes to the governing of a great nation, nobody ventures to exclaim, “How little talent it takes to write a ‘
Waverly,’ or a ‘Tremaine!’”

But the utter inadequacy of political ambition, even in its best and most legitimate triumphs, to satisfy the yearnings of the human mind and heart, has been so beautifully and touchingly treated by Mr. Ward himself, in various parts of his works, that I should perhaps apologize for alluding to the subject here; and I should certainly have
abstained from doing so, but that the personal application of those writings (more or less) to the author’s own political and social career, is little known to the general readers of his works, and will be most interestingly illustrated in the letters which are to follow.