LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward X

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 following letter is the first direct communication I received from Mr Plumer Ward—still, however, without his knowing me, and signed merely, “The Author of De Vere.” It is in reply to one that I was compelled to address to him personally—still, however, as “the Author of De Vere”—in consequence of a matter which would be too insignificant in itself, and too ridiculously discreditable to our periodical literature, to permit of my recording it, if it were not that one of the objects of this work is to put on record such of the “secret history” of the literature of our time, in connexion with the writers referred to in these reminiscences, as may be usefully disclosed without compromising personal feelings and private interests.

I had, on the publication of “De Vere,” been requested to write a critical notice of
that work, in a
periodical in which I was not accustomed to write, and to which I should for personal reasons have objected to contribute, but for my great admiration of the new work, and my desire to miss no fair opportunity of publicly expressing that admiration. I had also learned, through the publisher of “De Vere,” previously to the appearance of the notice in question, that the author himself had been made acquainted (though without my previous consent) with my intention of writing it. Let the reader who has perused the preceding letter judge then of my astonishment and annoyance—or rather of my indignant disgust—when, on seeing the article in print, I found interpolated into it numerous distinct references, both by name and by obvious implication, to supposed and alleged personal traits, portraits, &c., of living people, which, it was said, were “evidently” to be traced in the new work—references and allegations that I could not fail to know would give the utmost pain and annoyance to the author, coming from any quarter—how much more, then, coming, as he must have supposed
them to do, from one to whom he had expressly and formally denied them!

Of course, I had no alternative but to address him in explanation of the facts. The following is his reply to my letter:—

The Author of “De Vere” to his Revisor.
“April 5, 1827.

Dear Sir,—I cannot but so address a man to whom I owe so much for his repeated kind exertions on my account; and for the gratification which (from his own mind, acquisitions, and disposition) the expression of so much of his good opinion has always afforded me.

“As to the subject of your letter, I am sure you must be confident that no excuse was necessary for entering so much into details which it has really given me very great pleasure to read; for they have completely satisfied me on a point which, I own, had moved my surprise; I mean as to the allusions (but most particularly that in regard to Lord Cleveland)—which it distressed me to read in the —— ——. At the same time, I beg to assure you I had a sort of
suspicion of the fact, particularly after having heard in Bond Street that
Mr. —— had remarked there was a highly-finished character of Lord Hertford in ‘De Vere.’ I have not the least knowledge of Mr. ——; but knowing how fully you were aware of my extreme anxiety to protect myself from such imputations, and thinking at least that I knew you, I began not only to be very sure that you could not have inserted the passage in the —— ——, but to suspect pretty shrewdly who had.

“My concern as to the fact is certainly not diminished, but I am most truly glad that I am left fully confirmed in the notion of a discretion in yourself which certainly seemed incompatible with the procedure of which I complained. It was certainly a piece of wanton officiousness, which, after my preface, was as cruel as it was unjust.

“To touch upon a minor point, I am also glad to be set right as to certain parts of the style. In particular, the introductory sentences had not escaped me and others; and we, who had observed the general justness of
your criticisms as to language, rather wondered to find anything so unpleasing. I need not, however, beg of you not to let my opinion of
Mr. ——’s conduct towards me appear to any one. It is too late to remedy it, and I wish not to hurt him by showing how much I have been hurt myself.

“As to the other explanations in your letter, I scarcely know what to say, as I feel put upon the defensive myself. I certainly, in making the confessions I did of what allusions were in my mind as to certain traits of character, had no contemplation that they could be construed to authorise their publication. I made them for your own information, and perhaps convenience, as if, in the course of conversations or comments with or from others, you found it necessary to give any opinion upon the subject of allusions, I thought that, by knowing what I did mean, you might be better able to manage those who might impute to me what I did not mean. I cannot recollect my letter, but as Mr. —— put upon it the same construction as you did, I must suppose that I at least
expressed myself awkwardly, and that there must have been even a wide opening for such construction. I am, however, become rather more indifferent about it, since I have seen some of the parties, especially the
Duke and Duchess of Buckingham, who have acquitted me of any share in the direction of the public attention to them, and can scarcely take ill any secret conceptions I may have had of what, at least, can do them no dishonour. Indeed, since my interview with them, they have put me so much at my ease upon the subject, that I beg we may think no more of it.

“Not so of the sincere feeling of obligation which I experience more than ever towards you, for the kind and active zeal you have shown about ‘De Vere’ and ‘Tremaine,’ to say nothing of the great benefit I have derived from your abilities, so strikingly shown as your criticism proceeded. May I not add (I surely hope I may), that this is enhanced by the impression (I know not whether well or ill founded) that something like personal good-will has grown on your side, as it certainly has on mine, as we have
proceeded together in our mutual communications. With this impression, I beg you to believe me,

“My dear Sir,

“Your much obliged and
“Faithful servant,
“The Author of ‘De Vere.’

“As Mr. —— seemed much interested about our subject, I send this open through him. He will learn by it that I enter completely into your explanations in regard to the —— ——.”