LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward XVI

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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ThePictures of the World” were now published, and various allusions to them will be found in the letters contained in the present section.

I may here be allowed (à propos to some of these allusions) to state, once for all, my firm conviction that the singularly diffident and deprecatory tone and terms in which Mr. Ward was accustomed to respond to those testimonies of admiration which his writings called forth, whether in the form of public criticisms from strangers, or private expressions of personal feeling from friends and acquaintance, were strictly sincere. Not that he ever felt or exhibited any disposition unduly to depreciate the character and tendency of those writings. But he was not seldom stricken with a sort of childlike astonishment at the effect which certain por-
tions of his moral and social delineations of human life produced upon a class of intellect that he had scarcely aimed at reaching; and when the expressions of the feelings thus called forth came to him from friends, who might be supposed to be influenced by personal feelings towards him, he fairly doubted (for a time at least) of their sincerity; and nothing but similar expressions of feeling and opinion from strangers, who were professionally responsible for their decisions, could have quite satisfied him as to the perfect good faith of his friends.

In some of those pleasing and characteristic letters of Mr. Ward to his cultivated friends, Lady Mulgrave, Mrs. Austen, &c., which form so interesting and valuable a portion of Mr. Phipps’s book, the views I have just expressed are so fully confirmed, that I am tempted to cite one or two brief passages. The following declaration (in a letter to Lady Mulgrave) in reference to “Tremaine,” his first and most successful work, may be accepted as the strictest and most literal truth:—

“The success has been not merely beyond
hope, but all calculation. I had, in fact, no conception of the taste of the town, having merely thrown down my own ideas on paper, chiefly to fill the leisure of my retirement in a manner which I hoped, rather than expected, would be approved.”—
Phipps, ii. 140.

In a subsequent letter to Mrs. Austen, he says:—

“You must no longer accuse me of ungraciousness in my reception of what I was most sincere in thinking I owed to your friendship rather than your justice; though, if just, you know how few opinions I think so valuable as your own. But indeed, indeed, it is no more than true that when I look into myself, and see the nothingness of which I am composed; how totally wanting I am in science, and how neglectful my long life has been of duty, as well as of everything that required energy and self-denial; the truth, that I am a gross imposition, instead of deserving the opinion you tell me such men as Professor Wilson award me, flashes upon me, spite of all the kind manner in which you relate it. However, he is so little of an imposition himself, that I cannot but be greatly
pleased by his wish to know me.”—
Phipps, ii. 216.

The allusion in the opening paragraph of the following letter is to the same subject referred to in the closing letter of the last section—namely, the “very tempting” one of treating of his own “Life and Times.” The remainder relates to “Pictures of the World,” then just published:—

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover Hall, Jan. 1, 1839.
“My dear Patmore,—
* * * * * *

“It is not because I was insensible to either the importance or the extreme of your kind and partial judgment of me, which appear in your last letter, that I did not immediately answer it. Yet I could only thank you for it, which I most sincerely do, confessing most unaffectedly my unworthiness of what you are so good as to attribute to me. Though I know something, I know so little in comparison of what there is to know, and which others know so much better, that though I might feel much interest in the task you recommend, I am afraid I should
only expose myself. It is, therefore, better to drop all thoughts of the matter, though by no means of the recollection of your kindness about it.

“Where does your kindness end? I discover it in the warm and elegant (would I could say deserved) tribute which I read in the ——. No one else either thinks or could write so of me.

“What else has been written, if anything, I absolutely am ignorant in this closed-up nook; so if you can enlighten me by sending me any papers, pray do. Observe, I mean enlighten either for good or for evil; for, though I don’t desire, I can bear to be abused. I am rather surprised that the —— (the only weekly paper I take) has not yet attacked the ‘Pictures’ or the ‘Reviewer Reviewed.’

“Should you have heard anything about it (the latter), and whether it has reached Edinburgh, I should be glad to know, under cover, if you please, to Sir George Anson, at this place. En attendant.

“Believe me ever
“Most truly yours,
“R. P. W.”

In the following letter the allusions all through are still to “Pictures of the World.” Nothing would be more shallow and more unjust than to attribute these allusions, and the almost useless anxiety which some of them imply, to what is called personal vanity, of which few men had so little as Mr. Ward; though he had an unusual amount of that which is apt to be mistaken for it, namely, a strong desire to stand well in the opinion of those whom he esteemed, and a sincere pleasure in being the medium of giving pleasure to others.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover Hall, Jan. 13, 1839.

My dear Patmore,—I have just seen the —— ——, and, notwithstanding your denial (if it is one) of the warm and eloquent review of a certain work in it, am persuaded that nobody now alive could have partiality enough to me (to say nothing of the glowing and forcible style), to write such honouring things but yourself.

“There! I have come to the point at once, and deny it if you can.


“Well, much as I have been gratified by it, I don’t know that it has made me much more your debtor, simply because I was so much so already for a thousand acts of kindness and proofs of good opinion.

“What pleases me most in this review is the handsome and forcible manner in which you vindicate my claim (laughed at by the flippant and very shallow ——) to be something more than a writer of novels of fashionable life. I cannot say I am much flattered to be so considered, and, in short, pretend to be an essayist, only in another form. I am, therefore, the more obliged to you.

“The —— —— disappointed me. Not because I expected approbation, for I looked for the contrary, and was surprised at the favour shown. My surprise was at the want of ability in it as a criticism; at bad grammar in language, and at a strange, nay, gross mistake as to the moral of ‘Sterling.’ Fr it says, that, because ‘Sterling’ fails in achieving what, with his abilities and opportunities, he might have accomplished, Mr. Ward’s moral fails too. Why, the very moral is, that, notwithstanding ability and
merit, when they are accompanied with such weaknesses they do and must fail.

“How far more correctly has the —— —— seized this, whoever may be the author. That it is you, however, unless you positively deny it more unambiguously than by saying, that, because you think it is the best of the critiques, it cannot be you, I must continue to opine.

“Pray put the matter frankly out of doubt, and so no more at present from your obliged friend,

“R. P. W.”

The passage referring to Sir Robert Peel, in the following letter, suggests a regret that two men whose political careers had begun nearly about the same period,* and had run parallel to each other for several years, should, after a long separation, have missed meeting when the one had reached the highest point of political, and the other of literary, eminence. Had the meeting sought by Sir

* Sir Robert (then Mr.) Peel was Under-Secretary-at-War in the Percival Administration, Mr. Ward having been successively a Lord of the Admiralty and Clerk of the Ordnance in the same.

Robert Peel taken place, we might possibly have had in “
De Clifford” (which was at this time in progress) one more of those admirable illustrations of ambition, as exemplified in modern political life, which give such unique and inestimable value to Mr. Ward’s writings.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover Hall, March 6, 1839.

My dear Patmore,—I have been ungratefully faulty in not sooner answering your last kind letter (I am afraid even to look at the date), nor will I make things worse by the only cause, not excuse, I can assign for it—too much leisure, and consequent procrastination. In short,
“‘I blush and am confounded to appear
Before thy presence, Cato.’

“By the bye, were you ever called Cato before? * * *

“I shall be quite sorry to come to town, though it may give me an opportunity of seeing the few friends I have not survived in the world, you among the best of them. My deafness, however, and the hours I am obliged
to keep, to preserve that delightful freedom from complaint which I am graciously allowed in my old age, unfit me for society, and I am literally forced to shut myself up, happy to have such a retreat in which to do so, and perform my no penance.

“I could sometimes wish it otherwise, as I did lately, when Peel asked me for a few days to Drayton, to meet some of our old political friends, which I felt forced to decline on account of my being a bore from my infirmity [his deafness]. I mention it, however, chiefly to add his amusing mode of invitation. He said he was glad to see, as I had quitted politics, that I had betaken myself to literature, adding, ‘tam Marti, quam Mercurio,’—‘by which,’ said he, ‘you see, I suppose Mars had a seat at a military board, perhaps the Ordnance.’

“Now pray tell me what was the ill-usage or discouragement which, in one of your letters, you said the Tories had given you? Peel’s name made me recollect this. All I can say is, that if they disgusted you, they were uncommon fools for their pains.

“You talk of reviewers, and well. I have
observed how little they say of
Bulwer. That the ‘Quarterly’ should do so does not surprise me; but, as party is everything, that the ‘Edinburgh’ should neglect him, does.

“By the way, have you ever happened to hear more of the pamphlet? It got to Edinburgh; for Lord Rosebery (my wife’s cousin) wrote word he had been reading it after the review. Do you recollect whether one was sent to Lord Lonsdale? If not, pray order one to him. He wrote me about the essay, and said it had disturbed all his views about the character of the Revolutionists of 1688; and thought I had a great deal of courage not to fear the hornets of the present day. I think, however, I pride myself upon it, and, having just read the essay again, own (though I am not a proper judge) that I value it as a work, and think it may in time be valued by the sober part of the world as much as ‘Tremaine.’

“So much for self-deceit. * * *

Pour moi, I necessarily read and write a great deal—both chiefly concerning the great subject ‘Human Life,’ which may possibly produce more fruit.


“I find the ‘Pictures’ more spoken of, and read much here. My real studies, however, are biblical, in which, with ten thousand differences with the orthodox, I venture to hope I can satisfy myself.

“Adieu. Pray write to me, notwithstanding I don’t deserve it. But tell me what you are about, and answer me in respect to your wishes as to ——. Meantime, believe that I am,

“Much yours,
“R. P. W.”