LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward XIV

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 relates to a tale of the olden times, which forms one of a series since published, with a modern framework, under the title of “Chatsworth; or, the Romance of a Week,” a work which Mr. Plumer Ward benefited by many valuable suggestions while in MS., and honoured by the sanction of his name as editor.

As this work was, on its publication, distinctly and almost universally attributed, by its numerous critics, to Mr. Ward himself, and has since his death been formally described as “his latest work,” in several biographical memoirs appearing in periodicals issuing from respectable quarters, it will be proper for me to show, at more length than I should otherwise have thought of doing, the true nature of his connexion with that
work, and luckily I am able to do so in his own words. It does not, however, seem necessary that I should, for this purpose, disturb the chronological order in which I have thought it best to arrange Mr. Ward’s letters. The other references to “
Chatsworth” and its editorship will therefore come in their proper places.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Chesterfield Street, March 13, 1838.

My dear Patmore,—I opened your romance at nine o’clock last night, but could not leave it till I had read every word. This will prove its interest, for few are more sleepy or sooner in bed than myself. I have much to say upon it, and all favourable, except perhaps a word or two as to the machinery, in which, too, I may be wrong. Imprimis, the foundation of the story is highly original, and, as such, adds greatly to the interest. How did you come by it? Is there anything like it in any old legend, or is it a legend of your own? Any way, it possesses the very first requisite of a story, interest; and hence I am quite against you
in thinking it will not be popular. I would have you publish it by all means.

“So much for the subject. Then, as to the execution, there are many things to admire. First, the simplicity of the style, which always most befits a narration, which this essentially is. You let the characters speak for themselves; and we know nothing, want nothing, of the author till all is over. This, I imagine, is exactly as it should be. In this, and other things, it resembles the episodical novels in Don Quixote. Could you wish for anything better? * * *

“The groundwork of the story is not only most impressive in itself, but preserved in high keeping throughout. ‘Servitur ad imum’—perhaps the most important of the rules of criticism. The commencing point of interest, the rocks, is striking, and very pleasing in itself, but grows more and more so as the story advances. Dorigen catching at their removal as the impossible thing, which yet would so gratify her, could it be performed, as to make her forget the consequence, is a great beauty. The whole scene afterwards between her and her hus-
band, on their appalling gradual disappearance as the tide rises, is felicitous. The simple solution of the phenomenon, too, from natural causes, is equally so; also the apparent mystery that sheds itself about the student in the meeting between him and Aurelius.

“The dénouement is not less agreeable for being unexpected. To tell you the truth, I was prepared for something very terrible. I thought the student was the devil, the price of the secret the soul of Aurelius, and the catastrophe of Dorigen a death like Lucretia’s. The finale, however, is more pleasing for not being so shocking; and there is wildness enough in the romantic cast of the events, and particularly in the source of them (a superstitious adherence to a vow), to gratify the utmost avarice for the wonderful.

“So much for the attractive in this attractive composition; nor do I know anything in the least of a contrary character, though I may venture a few suggestions with a view, to my mind, to make it more perfect. In the first place, the whole of the interest and
character of the story have for their base what, in these modern times, we are so little accustomed to feel, namely, superstitious reverence for a vow, and a still more superstitious horror at breaking it, that I think you ought to have employed more time and labour in impressing it upon your readers, preparatory to what is to be engrafted upon it. As it is, the ground is not sufficiently laid. * * *

“One little want of keeping (easily remedied) I will mention in Dorigen. She listens too soon, and with too little resentment at first, to Aurelius. My own impression (and this is what you want) was, that her sudden sympathy was quite incompatible with her previous character and delicate love for her husband. I almost thought her faithless, and about to be won over to infamy. But this, as I said, may be easily remedied by bestowing a little more time upon her first surprise and resentment, and gradual recovery from it, say from the apprehension that Aurelius was mad rather than wicked.

“Another omission (it is no more) strikes me [as advisable]. Arviragus is a great deal
and too suddenly complaisant, too easy about the fulfilment of a vow which is to destroy his happiness and dishonour his wife. Nothing but the most terrific dread of the gods, for breaking a vow ought to produce this easy sacrifice. Even with that dread, he should be anything but calm. Dorigen also ought to be more determined and threatening as to her self-sacrifice, in case Aurelius insisted upon her vow.

“If you think these hints are worth pursuing, a very little attention will make them available. * * *

“There! I think you will allow I have given you at least an honest opinion as to merits and oversights—the first really most attractive, the last merely what I have called them, and most easily remedied.

“If I were not greatly pleased, I could not bring myself to such a long letter—the longest I have written for many a year. If your comedy is as good as your romance, I shall have pleasure in writing another; but this must be deferred, and so no more at present from yours, very truly,

“R. P. W.”

I trust the reader will bear with me when I feel occasionally called upon, as in the cases of the foregoing letter, to refer to matters in which I am too intimately concerned to admit of my speaking of them without being liable to the charge of egotism. It has been with a reluctance almost insurmountable that I have at any time incurred this charge; but the alternative would have been the suppression of letters that I am confident the readers of these Memorials would not willingly miss. I need scarcely add, that all the hints in the foregoing letter were adopted.

The following note alludes to Mr. Ward’sEssay on the Revolution of 1688,” then just published.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Chesterfield Street, Mayfair, April 4, 1838.

“So you wish I had never quitted fiction for party, and that you had not met me ‘in the crowd and crush of politics!’ And you did not write the no-review, but really Patmore’s Lament, in the —— ——? Not you! As if I did not at once find you out by your style.


“Have you seen the skimmed milk and water trash in the —— upon me? It is not at all offensive, but such stuff, both as to argument and criticism, that I really feel for the writer, who seems unfit almost for any critique, much less to grapple with what he has undertaken. If I have no more powerful opponent than he, I shall be well off. Bulwer, I believe, announces himself as one. We shall see.

“R. P. W.”