LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward III

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 two following notes mark the commencement of my miscellaneous correspondence with Mr. Ward. They belong to the period immediately succeeding my first personal introduction to him, as described in the preceding section. Brief and slight as they are, I think it well to put them on record here, because they denote that frank and cordial “spirit of human dealing” which caused the master of Gilston to be as much beloved by the meanest hind on his estate, as he was by his most intimate personal friends and associates. It was this tone and spirit of social equality, and the charming abandon with which he yielded himself up to it, that constituted the fascination (for it was nothing less) of his society—causing every one with whom he spoke to believe (because
in fact it was for the time being true) that he felt almost as strong an interest in them and their affairs as they did themselves—perhaps the rarest and most immediately gratifying of all the results of social intercourse.

When I add that these notes were written in reply to self-invitations from a man who had seen his correspondent but once, and had moreover for years past encouraged himself in an almost morbid shrinking from all new acquaintanceship, it will be felt that they show (by reflection) the vivid and vital nature of the characteristic in evidence of which I am alone induced to cite them.

It is true, the liberty I was thus tempted to take, in inviting myself to Gilston, was the result, not so much of the cordial welcome I received there, as of the peculiar footing on which its owner, at our first personal meeting, had chosen to place our future intercourse, by making me promise that I would go to Gilston as often as I could, without waiting for formal invitations; only stipulating that I should not risk a five-and-twenty miles’ ride without letting him know
a day or two beforehand when I was coming. I must also remind the reader that, although our personal acquaintance was so recent, our epistolary intercourse had been intimate and confidential during the previous three years.

I trust the reader will pardon the foregoing egotism, in favour of the motive which called it forth. He may be assured that if I could have devised any other effectual means of setting forth the peculiar feature I desired to illustrate, of the intellectual portrait I have undertaken to paint in these pages, I would have adopted it in preference to citing letters which can have no value but the one in question, to any but him to whom they were addressed. It will, however, be found, I think, that in this latter respect they stand alone in the correspondence of which they form a part.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Gilston, June 24-31.

My dear Sir,—At the dinner-table it has just occurred to me that you might wish, at all events, to have an answer to your welcome letter, so I steal a moment to tell you
we have no engagement, and shall be delighted to see you on Thursday, when I will send for you to Harlow. My lawyer says indeed it may be possible that he may send for me to town to-morrow. But if he does, I will let you know my motions before the evening, in Heathcote Street. If you don’t hear, count upon my being at home, and I need not say glad to see you.

“Much yours,
“R. P. W.”
R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Gilston Park, Dec. 14-31.

My dear Sir,—I am favoured with your flattering and (why should I deny it?) your gratifying letter. Whatever I have seen of you makes your good opinion very welcome, and-I have pleasure in thinking of your kindness. You may suppose, therefore, that your liking to Gilston is very agreeable, and that the oftener you favour us with a visit, the more we shall be pleased. I shall certainly be at home on Sunday, and ready to receive you, but hope you will stay all night;
and pray don’t bring your dandy blackings—those enemies to picturesque walks!

“Adieu au revoir, and believe me

“Much yours,
“R. Plumer Ward.”

Having thus introduced the reader personally to “the author of Tremaine,” I cannot do better than give to the sketch its fitting “local habitation,”—which I am fortunately enabled to do in the words of Mr. Plumer Ward himself. The following graphic descriptions of Gilston and its antiquarian and pictorial treasures were written and sent to me, upon a hint which I happened to drop, in one of the visits referred to in the foregoing notes, of my intention to describe in print some of the great old country seats (Gilston among them) in which England, and especially the metropolitan counties, is so rich.

In sending me the following description Mr. Ward says characteristically, in reference to the minuteness of some of its antiquarian details,—“But you have mounted me upon my hobby, and you see he has run away with
me. My excuse is,
Horace Walpole would have been worse had you put him upon Strawberry Hill.”

Yes—and with infinitely less excuse; for Strawberry Hill was to Gilston Park something like what a London cit’s Italian villa on Clapham Common is to Chatsworth, or a half-pay sea captain’s be-flagged and be-battlemented cabin in the Greenwich Road is to Windsor Castle.

“Gilston Park, Dec. 19, 1831.

“The Court Yard is of ample dimensions, where a troop of yeomanry could manoeuvre, and have often paraded. In two parts it is bounded by the house; on another, flanked by the stables, screened by trees; on the fourth, by an old-fashioned wall and massive iron gates, between stone pillars, crowned with urns and pines, fruit, flowers, and heads of satyrs.

“In niches in the walls the statue of Cardinal Wolsey, in his robes and hat, and the busts of Charles 1st and Lord Bacon; size of life.

“A very ancient door, studded with iron,
leads to the offices, and an ample gate, of black carved oak, filling a Gothic arch twelve feet high, with a latch of ponderous brass, opens into the Outer Hall of the mansion. Above this door is the helmet and vizor of a knight, cut in stone, and the arms of the present, and several of the ancient possessors of the place.

“The Outer Hall is near thirty feet square, and twenty high, with a cross-beam of oak, in the middle of the ceiling. The sides are lined with oak, in small panels, of a very bright hue, to the height of seven feet; afterwards, up to the ceiling, a white wall; but so covered with arms and armour of different ages; pikes, halberts, crossbows, plaited and twisted coats of mail, shields, helmets, and maces; tilting lances, matchlocks, horse armour, and, (approaching to modern times,) carbines, bayonets, and pistols, that, together with numerous coats of arms, pedigrees, and family and other pictures, scarce any part of the walls can be discovered.

“The principal features, however, are a most massive and ponderous oak staircase and
gallery, of the taste of the olden time; an equally old chimney of the widest dimensions, composed of marble, and a mantelpiece of black oak, boldly carved into representations of a dolphin race, a stag chase, and a boar hunt, with appropriate figures. Over the whole a quaint motto, in gold letters, ‘Patriæ fumus, Igne Alieno, Luculentior.’ Within, blazes a Christmas log, on the dogues formerly belonging to
Sir Ralph Sadleir.

“Then come ancient chests, inlaid with different coloured woods; upon one of which stands a crucifix, between two ponderous brass candlesticks, with almost still more ponderous wax candles, not far from the resemblance of a Roman-catholic altar.

“In another part, the famous ballad of the ‘Old Courtier of the Queen,’ in ancient type, and a broad tapestry and tortoiseshell frame, which seems to have come out of the dressing-room of the Queen herself.

“But chief of all is a large casement window, some ten feet square, entirely covered with glowing painted glass, blazing with the arms of the ancient possessors of Gilston; as
a key to which there is the following inscription:—

“‘Ceux sont les armouries quis porteroient autrefois magnifuiques Princes, nobles Barons et gentilz chevalirs, adonques Seigneurs des beaux fiefs de Gilston, Standon, et Eastwick.’

“Among these are the Mandevilles, De Veres, Mowbrays, De Rooses, Giffards, Fitz Gilberts, Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I., the De Burghs, Lionel Duke of Clarence, Mortimer, and Beauchamp, all of them ancestors of the present possessor’s children and grandchildren. Among these, too, are the arms of Hugh Blount and Sir Thomas De Swinburne, great ancestors of my son’s family, who were sheriffs of this county as far back as 1286 and 1403.

“There is a scroll under the arms of Sir Thomas, stating that he was mayor of Bordeaux and chaptal of Fronsac, in Guienne; ‘par sa mere, noble Boutetourte, par sa grande mere, noble de Montfichet.’ Many panes are serried with very emblematic Plantagenista in pod.

“But the greatest relics in this interesting
hall, are the helmets and various swords of the renowned
Sir Ralph Sadleir, who once possessed some of the estate, and which were removed from his old castle, about ten miles off.

“But, above all, a most valuable trophy, is the pole of the Royal Standard of Scotland, eighteen feet high, taken by Sir Ralph’s own hand at the battle of Musselborough, in the time of Edward VI.

“Over head are the casque, crest, and pennon bearing his arms, of Sir John Core, lord of Gilston, and sheriff of Herts in 1624. The only thing of modern times, but we hope not less interesting, are the colours of the present Gilston Troop of Yeomanry, who, their commander thinks, are quite worthy their ancestors.

“The pictures that line the staircase and opposite wall, are chiefly of ancestors; Cottons of Combermere; Mainwarings, of Cheshire and Shropshire, through whom a brilliant train of descents—Astons, Ratcliffs, and Smiths, baronets, of Hazeluyk Hall. One of the Ratcliffs is the famous Earl of Sussex, mentioned so beautifully by Scott, in
Kenilworth,’ as the rival of Leicester. One of the Smiths, a Sir John, in gold gloves, a sheriff of London in King James’s time, frowns most grimly, seemingly on his lady, who receives it with a look compounded of exuberant fat and resignation.

“More elegant, and more interesting, is a fine copy of, perhaps, Vandyke’s most splendid work, Charles I., with his noble horse, led by his equerry, and the Marquis of Hamilton (the late Mrs. Plumer Ward’s ancestor) in the background; then, a good painting of Essex, the last of the Devauxes, the parliamentary general; and a fine whole-length of Sir Walter Raleigh and his son, by Zucchero. These, two of Elizabeth, Cardinal Wolsey, and Lord Arundel in needle-work by a Lady Aylesbury, finish the hall.

“On the right, and through a well-carved old door of oak, representing many Saxon kings, is the dining-room, thirty-six feet by twenty-two, set thickly round with pictures of the Plumers. The late Mr. Plumer, forty years M.P. for the county, by Lawrence; and the Countess of Abercorn, as a shepherdess. There are, mingled with many eminent states-
men, a fine original half-length of
Lord Bolingbroke, bought by me of the late Lord Chetwynd. An interesting one of the first Lord Chatham, with the eyes of a hawk; a well-finished one of Sir William Wyndham, in his Chancellor of the Exchequer’s robes; and a curious, because uncommon one, of “downright Shippen,” add to the list, which, is crowned by perhaps the most strikingly characteristic likeness of Swift that ever was painted. It gives the very essence of his mind; his leering eye, and sardonic curl of lip would betray him to anybody, though his name were concealed.

“On trestles are the marble bust of Pitt, by Nollekens, and the beautiful one of Canning, by Chantry. The Duke of Wellington commands on the opposite side.

“I can no more to-day (Monday), but will send you the octagon hall, library, drawing-rooms, and exterior south front, to-morrow.

“R. P. W.”
R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore,
Gilston Park, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 1831.

“I forgot to mention in the catalogue of the Hall, what ought at least to be enumerated as belonging to the times—viz., the old oak table—a very plank, supported by barrel legs—which seemed to catch your fancy. It once belonged to Lord Fairfax, temp. C I., but was created long before him.

“Then there are the portraits of Burleigh, the favourites Leicester and Essex, Sir P. Sidney, and Lord Cottington, all in the proper Spanish costume of those days. Add to these, a fine whole length of bonnie King Jamie, by Jansen, Henry VIII., and (the most modern of the crowned heads here admitted) King William, on a spirited horse, though looking himself, as he always did, very much out of spirits.

“The black oak door, so beautifully divided into wreaths and ribbons, with a crimson oval in the middle, on which is a patriarchal cross in studded brass, and leading from the great stairs to other apartments, must not be forgotten.


“The archway above is crowned with, what the old gentry were always fond of erecting in their halls, an immense carving of the Royal Arms and supporters, which, though now venerably dimmed, had once been splendidly gilt and painted. They were of the time of the first James, and have been in the house ever since. These, and some chairs, exquisite in ebony and ivory, and Genoa velvet cushions, conclude the list of furniture in the hall.

“Passing through a twin door with that which leads to the dining-room, we now enter a spacious room which, with all our fondness for Tudor recollections, I am afraid, though comparatively modern, must be acknowledged to be the finest thing in the place. It is called the Octagon Hall, composes a cube of thirty-six feet, ending at the top in a cupola. The ground on which it stands was, in fact, originally an open court, round which the old rooms were ranged, opening into one another. But this being thought cold and comfortless by the Plumer of a hundred years ago, he judiciously filled up the space with a building,
which, though incongruous with many other parts, is beautiful in itself, from its elegant proportions, and a Grecian decoration which is perfect.

“All round are niches, in which, and on trestles, are busts of the twelve Cæsars, as large, or perhaps larger, than life, in superb and spotless marble. In this hall lately sat down with ease to a very baronial dinner, one hundred and forty persons, composed of the Gilston yeomanry, officers and men, and many gentry of the neighbourhood.

“Passing through a door on the right, we are again gothicised, in a library thirty-six feet long, composed entirely of oak in panels; carved beams of the same; bay windows, full of family arms;—Suttons, Dudley, Charlton, Tiploft, the Seahouses and all their northern quarterings; Luice, Eaglefield, Ponsonby, Wharton, Huddleston, &c., with the appropriate motto of a border family of five hundred years,—‘Væ Victis.’

“To the critical traveller, however, the object most worthy of observation in this room, is a chimney-piece of the most exact architecture of the Tudor times, and seem-
ingly three hundred years old. It is of oak of different colours, divided by rich pillars and obelisks, and inlaid with flowers; an immense and high-wrought rose forming the centre compartment.

“Below, inclosing the fire-place, are four bishops with their robes, croziers, books, and crucifixes, excellently carved in alabaster. They are evidently of the Roman Catholic times, and one of them a cardinal.

“There are here, and in a study contiguous, some five thousand volumes, and two relics, the answer of the University of Oxford to the Pope’s bull excommunicating Henry VIII., sealed with the arms of all the colleges, and a rare facsimile of the letter to Lord Monteagle, which disclosed the Gunpowder Plot.

“Leaving this room for what is called the Den, you find yourself in the essence of cheerfulness. Windows, catching every ray of the sun, dancing on the water, and illuminating the park. A high and broad glass door down to the ground lets you into a conservatory, with all its sights and perfumes. In this Den are some of the owner’s favourite
books—divinity, classics, many
Shakspeares, many Horaces, many county histories, and gothic antiquities; plates of horsemanship, where ‘Monseigneur le Marquis de Newcastle devant son Chateau de Bolsover, donne leçon.’ There are also some valuable state papers, and books of reference; Montfaucon, Du Cange, Gesner, the various Encyclopedias, and much heraldry.

“Above the books are the pictures of some choice friends,—the late Sir Michael Stewart, the late Lord Mulgrave by Jackson, General Phipps by Hopner, and the owner’s first lady.

“Returning through the Octagon Hall, we pass now through a vestibule, into the drawing-rooms, stopping on the way to look at Henry IV. in his breastplate and sash of command; a good picture, but rather too old for the stories told of him with the ladies.

“A pendant is his wife, Mary de Medicis, looking very ugly and jealous, and almost an excuse for Henry’s inconstancies.

“Above is another foreign general, most markedly picturesque in face, beard, armour, and sashed arm,—the famous Spinola.


“A side wall is almost covered with a gigantic whole length of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham,—a superb man, and a good painting, by Kneller. Opposite is Mistress Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, his mother-in-law.

“These, and a portrait of Hamilton, Earl of Haddington, who was blown up in Dunglas Castle by his English page, out of revenge for calling the English cowards (the page sharing the same fate), conduct you to the Salons de Compagnie.

“And here we take leave of the olden time entirely,—for all now is modern elegance. May I not pay that tribute to the taste of their late mistress? The walls are painted crimson, so like morocco leather that they may be taken, at first sight, for that commodity. They are bordered with broad scallops in gold, and have many portraits in bright gold carved frames. These, added to a profusion of China (of which Mrs. Plumer Ward was very fond), crimson damask curtains, and embossed silver vases; marble and scagliola tables, and much plate glass and japan cabinets; a noble organ, grand piano, and
harp, almost make us forget, or at least not regret, the times of the Virgin Queen.

“The pictures are, some of them, very good; most, or all of them, interesting. The best, perhaps, is a fine whole length of the first Duke of Hamilton by Jamieson, the Scotch Vandyck. He is in the black dress of the age,—a black cloak, only enlivened by the George and other insignia of the garter, and a white lace ruff.

“His father and grandfather, Marquesses of Hamilton, are near him, in appropriate costume. These Hamiltons are ancestors of Mrs. Plumer Ward.

“Then a half length of Charles II. in the robes of the garter, one of the truest of Sir Peter. Another, equally true, by the same painter, of a very beautiful, very young, and very pensive Charlotte Cotton, leaning her cheek upon her hand, that makes one in melancholy love with her. What adds to it is an inscription much obliterated, but legible. ‘She was a pale primrose, that died unmarried.’

“Not so pensive, but perhaps still more exquisitely beautiful, is the whole length
Henrietta Maria, if not by Vandyck, so like him, as to fill ladies with envy both of her face and of her gown.

“Leave her for the great picture of Mr. Pitt, by Hopner, and Lord Bolingbroke again, in his court dress of crimson velvet, and looking older than in his robes, but with a higher look of the man of quality he was.

“These furnish the principal drawing-room, which is thirty-six feet by twenty-four, and sixteen feet high. In the ante-room, leading to it through folding mahogany doors, are others, more modern worthies,—Fox, excellent, by Romney; Sheridan, not quite perfect, by Sir Joshua; a noble one of the late Mr. Plumer’s father, by the same; Bishop Seth Ward (no relation though the same arms) in his robes of Chancellor of the Garter; a bad painting of Lord Lonsdale, and a worse of Mr. Percival, both preserved for the sake of personal esteem.

“I have now done what I feel I have made a very egotistical sketch, instead of the mere catalogue I intended. But you had mounted me on my hobby, and you see it has run
away with me. My excuse is,
Walpole would have been worse if you had sat him upon Strawberry Hill, To make amends I will be brief on the

“This rises on the margin of the lake, in quiet (I could almost say) majesty. On the opposite side a bank, somewhat steep, and crowned with trees, and the stems of trees of most grotesque shapes. In the distance, the woods and avenues of the park, with a whole army of deer, amounting to some hundreds.

“The building is perfectly Elizabethan. Innumerable gables and chimneys of the oldest time of that taste; turrets for clocks and weathercocks; statues and bust upon projecting corbeilles.

“Among the statues, those of Edward I. and his two queens, Eleanor of Castile, and Marguerite of France, by the first of whom came my son, by the second (mother of Thomas de Bartholomew), my daughter-in-law; by both my grand-children.

“The busts (being a Tudor house) are of the princes of that family.


“There are fifteen coats of arms in stone of the families who have possessed the place, and be sure De Vere and Mowbray are not forgotten. Seven of the earliest of these were lineal ancestors, from about seven hundred years ago, upwards.

“I must have done, but must first describe the porch, which is crowned with the bust of the Maiden Queen. Above it is the quaint inscription, ‘Fear God, obaye the Rial Queen.’ Below that, the epitaph in Camden
‘Spain’s rod, Rome’s ruin, Netherlands relief;
Earth’s joy, England’s gemme, World’s wonder, Nature’s chief.’

“There are two side casements in this porch. In one, Elizabeth of York; in the other, the Red and White Rose, very large and glowing in painted glass. Adieu.

“R. P. W.”