LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward II

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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It is, I believe, pretty generally thought and said, that the authors of remarkable works are rarely answerable to the personal impressions of them created by their books. I have had unusual opportunities of judging on this point, and have seldom found the prevalent notion to be the true one; and I never found it so little true as in the case of the author of “Tremaine” and “De Vere.”

It would not be consistent with the object of these pages to inquire what are the personal impressions likely to be created in regard to their author by the perusal of those two celebrated works.* But I think it must be generally felt by their readers, that no

* At the period about to be referred to, Mr. Ward had written those two works only.

other works of recent times, unless it be those of
Byron, do; in point of fact, create so many and such strong, specific, and lasting impressions, of the kind in question, and at the same time so earnest a desire to test and realize them. At any rate, such had been their effect in my own case; and an anonymous epistolary intercourse with their anonymous author, on literary matters, had greatly increased and confirmed the vividness and individuality of those impressions. The result was that for the first time in my life (for Byron had, in my case, been no exception) I felt that strong interest and curiosity as to the personal qualities and characteristics of a living writer, which lovers of books, and especially those who live in them, as I do, are so apt to confine to writers who have ceased to exist. And this salutary interest and curiosity (for such I think they will always be found to be) were anything but repressed by the belief that, in the present instance, they could never be gratified. For Mr. Ward’s secret was, for a considerable time, even more carefully and successfully guarded than that of the Great Unknown
himself; and I had reason to believe that, at the period I am now speaking of (just after the publication of “
De Vere”), he had no intention of allowing it to be formally disclosed—at least during his lifetime.

Not long after the publication of “De Vere,” however, Mr. Plumer Ward changed his determination of remaining anonymous, and his first direct communication to me was signed with his own name—all our previous literary intercourse having taken place anonymously on both sides, and through the medium of his publisher.

Shortly after this Mr. Ward suffered a fearful domestic calamity, in the loss (within two or three days of each other) of two beloved and accomplished daughters—the joint models, as it was understood, of his exquisite Georgina, in “Tremaine.” This wholly incapacitated him for all social intercourse for a long period; and as, during the next two or three years, he wrote nothing, I had given up all expectation of any further communication with him, when, in the summer of 1831, while staying in Hertfordshire, at a few miles’ distance from his beau-
tiful seat in that county, a mutual friend, residing in the neighbourhood, intimated to me that Mr. Ward, on hearing my name accidentally mentioned, had expressed a wish to be introduced to me; and my friend proposed that I should accompany him to Gilston Park the next day.

At length, then, the moment was unexpectedly at hand that would enable me, if I chose, to solve the problem about which I had felt so much interest; and I confess that I prepared myself for an entire and blank disappointment; for the mutual acquaintance who was about to introduce me to Mr. Ward seemed to see in him nothing materially different from what he was accustomed to meet with in persons moving in the same station of life. Mr. Plumer Ward made, I was assured, an exemplary high sheriff of the county,* an unexceptionable magistrate, a model landlord, a pattern patron of race balls and archery meetings, and was, in brief, the beau-ideal of an English country gentleman and a lord of acres, of the old school.

* Mr. Ward held this office during the year referred to.


This was very well in its way, but it was not what I looked for and desired in the author of “Tremaine” and “De Vere;” and, as I had little inclination to get rid of the ideal I had formed for myself in the latter regard, I should certainly have avoided the proposed introduction if I could have done so without showing that such was my desire. But this was impossible, and the next day we drove over to Gilston.

Our first personal interview with distinguished men about whom we have long felt a strong interest and curiosity, invariably impresses itself upon the mind and memory more vividly than do any subsequent details of our intercourse with them, however marked or memorable the latter may have been. And such was especially the case in regard to my first introduction to Mr. Plumer Ward at Gilston Park. The man himself, and the immediate adjuncts and accessories of the picture which his first personal appearance before me presented, stand out on my memory as if they were of yesterday; while all the collateral incidents and objects connected with the visit recede into a misty and indistinct
distance. Had I not afterwards grown familiar with the many beauties of Gilston, I should, notwithstanding the singular charm of several of them, and the striking and impressive character of others, have overlooked or forgotten them all as entirely as if they had never passed before my sight. But the tall, slim, distinguished, and somewhat stately figure of the chief personage of the picture, as it slowly advanced towards me, step by step, up the long drawing-room, attired (very carefully, as it struck me at the time) in deep mourning, slightly bent by illness, and leaning painfully on the arms of two tall liveried attendants, also in deep mourning, lives before me at this moment, all alone, like the central group of a consummate picture, seen from precisely that point of view at which all the other features are intended by the artist to merge in the indistinct haze of a general effect.

As it is my desire to mix as little as possible with these reminiscences of Mr. Plumer Ward anything but that which immediately or incidentally relates to himself personally, I shall not dwell on this, my first interview with him, further than to say that, after the
first glance which his astonishingly keen and hawklike eyes had cast upon me, the slight tinge of haughtiness which marked his usual bearing on the first abord, passed entirely away (never again to return for me); that our mutual introducer being present, the conversation was confined to the ordinary topics of the day; that on our taking leave, Mr. Ward made me promise to return on the morrow, and pass a few days at Gilston; and that, from that morrow commenced between us an intimacy which speedily ripened into a confiding friendship on his part, and an admiring and affectionate esteem and respect on mine, which were never once disturbed or interrupted during the remainder of his life.