LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward XV

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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Several of the letters in this section refer to a controversial pamphlet by Mr. Ward, published anonymously, in December, 1838, in reply to some strictures in the “Edinburgh Review” on his work entitled “Essay on the Revolution of 1688.” As Mr. Ward thought it essential to his object that he should strictly preserve his incognito for a time, I willingly undertook all the business details connected with this matter, in which, as will be seen by the subsequent letters, he felt a strong interest—as, indeed, his temperament impelled him to do in everything in which he seriously occupied himself. I am not sure whether he afterwards avowed the authorship of this brochure beyond the circle of his immediate family and private friends. But as there can be no conceivable reason for any longer concealing a step which the nature of the attack almost compelled him
to take, and as his share in the controversy was marked by great argumentative skill and critical acumen, with but few of those “ills” which usually attend controversial writing, I have not thought it right to withhold such details as his own letters furnish relative to a matter which belongs to the literary history of our day.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover Hall, Ashbourn, Oct. 18, 1838.

My dear Patmore,—I have taken a liberty with you, which I hope and trust, from your long shown friendship, you will excuse. The very silly arguments and gross misrepresentations of the ‘Edinburgh Review’ on my ‘Essay on the Revolution,’ joined to its general rudeness, made me resolve to do, what you will perhaps think a foolish thing,—review the review. But as I did not like to do this in my own name, nor wish to go to the expense of printing it in a separate form, I addressed it to ——, without my name, to publish it in his magazine, if he chose; if not, to send it to your house. If you get it, I do not venture to ask you to read it, for the subject is not to your taste;
but, if you know any other channel by which it may be published, I will be thankful for your advice. If not, be so good as to keep it till further advice.

“Should —— address any note to the author, will you forward it here, where, you will be glad to hear, I am revelling in a house and a real country life very much to my taste, which Gilston, with all its charms, was not. I am only sorry that its distance (150 miles) precludes, I fear, my hope that you will come to see me. The place belongs to my step-son, and to us till he is of age, eight years hence.

“We shall be in town, in Chesterfield-street, in February.

“Have you done anything with your tale, or your play? I want to see both in print.

* * * * * *

“Pray write and tell me what you are doing, and believe me always much yours,

“R. P. Ward.”

The opening paragraph of the following letter refers to Mr. Edmund Reade’s beautiful poem of “Italy,” then just published:—

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover Hall, Ashbourn, Nov. 11, 1838.

My dear Patmore,—I find I am indebted to your partiality for a book of poems, exhibiting, I think, warmth and genius, though perhaps wanting some pruning. The book was sent me by Mr. Reade, with a flattering letter, owing, I fear, more to your kind opinion than ‘Tremaine,’ though attributed to both. Well, thank you for this and many other instances of your kindness.

“I wrote you some time ago with a twofold view, of knowing what had become of a certain tale and comedy, neither of which ought to be hid under a bushel; also to apprise you that I had sent a review of the ‘Edinburgh Review’ of my political work, to ——, with a request that if he did not publish it, he would send it to you to be returned to the author, for I did not tell my name. As there was scarcely time to publish it in the last magazine of ——, and I have heard nothing from you about it, it is possible he retains it for his next publication; but I should like to know if you have heard anything about it.


“Tell me what you have been about, and where. Perhaps you are abroad, or enjoying the sun (if you can find him, at least) out of London. My sun is only that of my imagination, for the real one is nowhere here. We have, however, a delightful coal-pit, which almost does as well.

“If you will answer this letter, and excuse the trouble it gives you, you will make me very glad.

“I will not add to it more than to say I am much yours,

R. P. Ward.”
R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover Hall, Nov. 18, 1838.

My dear Patmore,—Your letter, as all your letters do, only added to my obligations to you. I cannot thank you enough for the trouble you have taken for me with ——, who may be a very good Tory, but certainly understands little of good manners. I am neither surprised nor disappointed by his thinking the papers not available, for I did not expect they would suit his publication. Still he might have returned them with less delay.


“The question is, what is to be done; for I own I think the Edinburgh wight so ignorant and cowardly in his critique, as well as so malapert, that I wish much for the publication, late as it is. I would be very glad, therefore, to profit by your more extensive experience and judgment in these matters, and would give you a carte blanche as to the means of bringing out the critique, short of revealing my name, which, if I did, I would do it in form, as a regular answer; but this many things forbid.

“Upon this I would ask your advice how to proceed, though the work, I fear, is too long for a magazine, and too short for a pamphlet. If, however, you think it may do, and you have interest to effect it (which you, of course, have, so well and advantageously known), London or Edinburgh would be the same to me. I fear this would give you the trouble of looking into it, which I by no means wished to impose upon you.

“As to your own MS., I am quite sorry to perceive your unwillingness or fear to bring them out. I sincerely think you ought to do so, both for your own and the public’s
sake. I augur the best for them if only for this, that I cannot keep them from running in my head, crammed as it is with things very different. I told you I thought the
comedy very like those of Congreve, and quite equal to many of them; and as for the tale, I have the rocks and the tides, and the castle, and the lady-wife watching for her lord, and distracted by her vow, oftener before me than you may perhaps imagine. It may not possibly suit the trifling, superficial taste of the day; but it has the genius of the old romance, which I think we have too much banished, preferring the frippery of modern pictures of mere outside manners to imagination and mind. Pray think a little more about it, and at least consult Macready. I shall be glad to know the result.

“I am here still in my hollow-tree—a most comfortable one—caring nothing for the world, which I have outlived. Why should I, when I am absolutely so blessed by Heaven at home? How lucky, too, that I am fond of all our connexions who abound
about us, and make our retreat very pleasing. My
son is very welcome to all the cockneys and radicals of Herts. I never felt a real country gentleman before. Staffordshire for ever, says your obliged friend,

R. P. W.

“P.S.—Do you remember Lady Louisa Anson the day you dined with me? The Anson family are all going to have rare doings on her marriage, in a week or two, at Shugborough, her father’s fine place. Whether from philosophy or fear of rheumatism, I have declined going, but duly send my family and wife. Yet I should like it, for there will be many Lady Lauras there, though I fear not one Isabel.

“By the way, did I ever tell you who Isabel was? Partly (whether you believe it or not) ——; chiefly, however, Lady ——, the earl’s wife, whom I met in Nassau, and not a word too much for her.”

The “Lady Laura” and “Isabel” referred to in the postscript of the foregoing letter are two characters in “Illustrations of Human Life,” the latter one of the most exquisite creations of a pen that has never
been surpassed (at all events, among prose writers) in its delineations of the female character. I do not know why I should leave the names of the living originals in blank; but I dare not print them without the permission of their owners, and should not obtain that permission if I were to ask it.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover Hall, Dec. 3, 1838.

My dear Patmore,—I wish, among the many benefits you have conferred upon me, you would tell me how to thank you as I ought, for I cannot do it myself. In human affairs, whatever it may be among the angels, I do not accede to the sentiment of Milton, that by owing we owe not—at best a sort of quibble; so that, unless you can teach me how to acquit myself, I must continue to owe.

“Meanwhile, all I can do is cordially to thank you. You have had a sad deal of trouble, but I know it will have been lightened by your good will. Like ‘Macbeth’ I can say—
“‘I know this is a joyful trouble to ye,
But yet ’tis one.’
You have, however, shown your skill in diplomacy admirably, and
Lord Palmerston would be glad of you, for much he seems to want able negotiators.

“You are most good in offering to superintend the proofs. Were the distance from this shorter, I would by no means think of imposing that additional burthen upon you; but after all the delays that have occurred, I am fearful of more; which certainly could not be avoided, where there is not time to answer a letter by return of post; so that if you are not tired out, my dear Patmore, I will thankfully accept your offer.

* * * * * *

“In all this I give you carte blanche, and only feel happy in having so able as well as so kind an associate.

“Though I have not said half enough, I will not say more, at present at least, than that I am most truly,

“Your obliged friend,
“R. P. Ward.

“I don’t know whether you have looked at the pamphlet. If you have, I hope you do
not think the tone of it more trenchant than what the rudeness of the
attack deserved.”

The pamphlet, entitled “The Reviewer Reviewed,” was ultimately published by Mr. Churton, of Holles Street.

What Mr. Ward, in the following letter, smilingly calls my “attempts on his vanity,’ refer, I suppose, to something I had said while suggesting (at his special request) a subject on which to employ his pen during the happy leisure that he was now enjoying at Okeover Hall. The subject I had proposed to him was his own political “Life and Times.” How singularly well qualified he was to treat such a subject, whether with a view to solid information or light amusement, has been since conspicuously shown in the copious extracts from his political diary, which form so important and interesting a feature of Mr. Phipps’s book. But there is no denying that the social tact which was so marked a trait of his intellectual character, directed him to the right decision on a question which had evidently engaged much
of his attention since his retirement from public life. He not only, as he says himself, “knew too much and too little” to undertake the task in question, but he knew that, if he did undertake it, he should not be able to divest its performance of that spirit of partisanship which, though he deliberately allowed it to mark his personal career as a politician, he could not permit to interfere with the high and sacred duties of the historian.

I may mention here, that another work which Mr. Ward seriously contemplated about this time was a Life of Bolingbroke,—a true history, which, under his hand, would have been likely to grow into an issue not merely “stranger than fiction,” but more romantic and attractive. Probably the same feeling deterred him in this case as in the other.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover, Dec. 12, 1838.
* * * * * *

“And now, what shall I say of your
attempts upon my vanity? Only that, if you wanted to turn my head or quiz me, you have not succeeded. With a very fair stock of the said commodity (vanity), I am not quite so far gone as to believe I deserve one-hundredth part of what you are pleased to attribute to me. * * * And, therefore,
Monsieur Patmore, as I was saying, your panegyrics have downright puzzled me; but no more of that.

“As to the subject you propose, I think you once proposed it before; and, in truth, it is a very tempting one, being full of interest. But, after thinking of it often, I always find myself obliged to give the same answer—I know too much and too little (particularly the last), to undertake it. Besides, if it were not so,
“‘Periculosæ plenum opus alea

“After what I have been writing of Burnet, too! No; my life is too tranquil here to risk its continuance, and so ‘no more of that, if you love me, Hal.’


“Meantime, I am not altogether idle, and make a great many notes, if no regular work.

“Though so much farther from town, I am really better off for neighbours than at Gilston. I had yesterday a party of fourteen, all thorough ladies and gentlemen, which is more than I could always say of the cockney county I have left. As Johnson (who, by the way, is remembered here) used to say, “we had good talk.” In fact, I am fond of real rural thanes, the native noblesse, if well educated, which the Boothbys, Davenports, Bromleys, and Fitzherberts, who roost all about me, are.

“There is a mixture, however: some with no blood, but immensely rich; some with high blood, and immensely poor. Among the first, however, Watts Russell bears his faculties so meekly, that he is deservedly popular. He inhabits and possesses the ‘happy valley,’ which gave Johnson the scene of his ‘Rasselas;’ and, also, a hollow tree, in which, it is said, Congreve wrote ‘The Double Dealer.’


“And, now, adieu. I hope you got a basket with certain Christmas commodities, which I ordered to be sent you.

“Ever much yours,
“R. P. W.”