LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward VIII

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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Perhaps nothing is more indispensable to the just and complete appreciation of any considerable work, whether of fiction or of fact, than a knowledge of what the writer desired and aimed at in the composition of it; and this is a knowledge rarely to be obtained—partly from the morbid fastidiousness of modern taste in regard to a writer speaking of himself and his productions—partly because few writers really know what it is they do aim at, or really do aim at anything at all, consistently and consecutively.

No writer was ever less open to either of these imputations than Plumer Ward; and for this reason the following notices, incomplete as they are, will not only be read with interest and curiosity for themselves, but claim to be put on record in justice to the writer himself.


The following is a portion of the letter which accompanied the MS. of “Tremaine” when offered to the notice of its publisher:—

“July 30-24.

“* * * * I am in possession of a manuscript work, the plan of which is at least singular. The form is certainly that of a novel, in which there is a love-story of no ordinary description; for though, in my opinion, it is full of interest, it is made the vehicle of the deepest disquisitions upon natural religion, particularly that part of it which concerns Providence and a future state. A great portion of it is also taken up with practical morality, and axioms relative to habits of life as they conduce to the happiness of man.

“The action depends upon this—a man of parts, of the first monde in fashion, and well known in public, from too fastidious a taste and sickly fancy, retires in disgust to view the world only at a distance. He gives the title to the work, which is called ‘The Man of Refinement.’ He is as un-
happy in solitude as in the world, and would be lost but for the endeavour of a practical moralist, his neighbour and friend, to reclaim him to society.

“The latter is a divine, of learning and piety, and contests between these two furnish the channel for the various discussions which occur, while the little scenes in which, and out of which, they arise, form the interest.

“The divine has a daughter. The ‘Man of Refinement,’ disgusted with both the upper and lower ranks of females, finds all he wants here. But his refinement has made him depart from nature, while she is nature itself. He cures all his bad habits and unreasonable disgusts to gain her, and actually does gain her affection. But in his refinement he has lost his religion, while she is all piety. She refuses him, therefore, at the expense of her happiness and health, which are ruined. He, indeed, promises to be reclaimed; but she will only accept the reclamation of perfect conviction. This, at last, is accomplished by her father; and the combat between infidelity and the truth exhibits much interesting learning. There is,
however, neither cant nor pedantry; all is popular, though the research is deep. The allusions and illustrations, too, are, on all the subjects, taken from known characters, chiefly from high, and frequently from political life.

In short, the whole is the work of a man evidently himself of the world in its higher stages, though also a man of the closet. His name, however, is forbidden to appear. The Man of Refinement being converted in everything, is in the end happy in being brought back to truth, and a wife the daughter of truth.

“The work does not reach Revealed Religion. * * * * I am, Sir,

“The Intended Editor,
(“for the present unknown.”)

As Mr. Ward was, during our subsequent intimacy, fond of recurring to circumstances connected with our early anonymous communications together, I learned from him many particulars relative to the composition and production of both “Tremaine” and
De Vere,” some of which I shall record in their respective places, as matters furnishing materials for future literary history. The foregoing letter, he informed me, led (after an interval of some months, during which his letter and MS. were not noticed) to a spontaneous offer on the part of Mr. Colburn, of 500l. for the copyright of “Tremaine,” and this offer was at once accepted by Mr. Ward.

The following letters must speak for themselves. Copies of them were transmitted to the reviser, by the writer’s direction, during the passage of the MS. of “Tremaine” through the hands of the former:—

“Nov. 26, 1824.

“I have examined with great care, and I may add, for the most part with great approbation, the emendations made by your judicious friend in the first volume of ‘Tremaine;’ and I have the pleasure to say I concur with him in almost all his suggestions, corrections, and omissions. I may add that the latter are fewer than I expected. I do
not quite agree with him in everything; but even where I do not, I have generally submitted to his greater experience, and allowed the alterations to go as he proposes, from deference to his authority.

“As to the corrections in language, some of them are indubitably preferable to the passages corrected, and in the greater part of the rest the alteration is so little different from my own taste that I have unhesitatingly adopted almost all that has been proposed.

“I have as little hesitation in saying that the criticism throughout seems most judicious. Of one thing I beg you will assure him, with my compliments, that no excuses whatever were necessary for what he calls ‘liberties;’ and that nothing can be less grounded than his fears of what he pleases to apprehend may be thought impertinent.

“I was rather sorry to part with the two (I own) ridiculous disputations at the sessions, for they had pleased my fancy; but I have deferred to his reasons there also. I have, however, not been able to give up the
allusion to the departed character of the old country squire—from prejudice, perhaps, but not on that account the less operative; and there may be readers, possibly, not so polished as your friend, who may agree with me and not him upon it.

“For the same reason I have kept a little of the conversation at the sessions, proposed to be omitted, and also a shortened sketch of the political heart-burnings among country magistrates, which I can myself witness are not unjustly described. I think I have abandoned all the rest, with the exception of a page or two of religious allusions and reflections, by Careless, after the garden conversation; and these I would propose keeping, not so much for the sake of the reflections themselves, as to keep before the reader, or rather to prepare him at all proper opportunities, for what is to form the most important part, indeed the only real and great object, of the work.

“Your friend has struck out a little gipsy scene introducing the pic-nic dinner; and also much of Vellum and Steward; and I defer here to his better knowledge of what
may please the public; yet I have some regret, for I own it is to my taste.

“As a general observation upon the criticism, possibly I may think, though perhaps erroneously, that the mind of the critic has been so smoothed by the regular habits does of literary and town society, that he not easily condescend to the rougher manners and characters of remote country life. The author, though immersed from infancy in the world, had a different taste, which must account for several passages in the work which the editor would have left, but for the respect he has conceived for the reviewer.

“Upon the whole, the castigations have only increased my esteem for the powers of your friend, to whose acquaintance, I repeat, I shall be glad if I can ever be introduced.

* * * * *
“Dec. 10, 1824.

Sir,—I send back the second volume of ‘Tremaine,’ and am gratified to find it has been thought liable to so few corrections by
your literary friend. It would indeed be affectation to say that the praise bestowed on many parts, and the interest the story seems to have inspired in such a mind as the critic evidently possesses, have not given me much pleasure. From such a man, too, it is the best warranty that could be desired of success with the public.

“As to the corrections, I have adopted almost every one of them; and though I did not like to part with the conversations after dinner at Bellenden House, I have reduced them by a full half. I did not part with them altogether, because the speakers are real characters, which will be recognised by many. Mrs. Neville is in particular a portrait; so is Beaumont; so the Scotch Doctor, the Traveller, and Miss Lyttleton: nay, the leather breeches story is a fact well known among the gentry in the north, and I therefore keep it.

“As you may possibly send this to your friend, I will add a few more remarks, relative to those he has been so good as to make himself.


“He asks why Tremaine is called Mr. Belville. It is in allusion to ‘The Conscious Lovers,’ Belville in that play being the protector of Indiana, and wooing her in that capacity. So here, according to Mrs. Neville’s scandal, Tremaine and Melainie.

“The remark on the Opera failing in its power over thorough-paced opera-goers is very just; but the effect too often is, that they do not recover the tone of their minds, but become blasés. It is like dram drinking.

“The remark on the words ‘true God,’ which is corrected to ‘what the Jews thought the true God,’ better expresses the author’s sense, and I have adopted it.

“I have kept the story of Sergeant B.’s law pedantry, because it is known and apposite. * * *

“I am not wedded to the fact of the accident at the breakfast table; but it is the keystone to so many passages of the history (I mean in point of form) afterwards, that, finding it difficult to alter, I have left it.

* * * * *
“Monday Night.

“ * * * * * I could send them now [the proofs], but retain them to consider an important suggestion of your critical friend—in truth a very cogent argument, which deserves much thought whether to introduce it or not. I can, however, deal with it in a few hours, if noticed at all, and only on account of the present state of the MS. wish I had had the benefit of the suggestion sooner. * * *

“I cannot too often repeat how advantageous I feel his criticism has been, and how

* If I remember rightly, the suggestion referred to was apropos to an argument of Evelyn, that the almost universal hope of a future state is a sufficient proof of the existence of such a state—on the principle that a beneficent Deity would not implant such a hope and leave it groundless. The suggestion was, that the argument was open to the objection, on the part of the sceptical Tremaine, that even admitting the existence of such a hope, and the beneficence of the Deity in implanting it (which, latter Tremaine nowhere denies), the hope in question is a beneficent end in itself, and will not be disappointed even in the ultimate event of there being no such state. On referring to the last edition of “Tremaine,” the original argument of the MS. seems to have been omitted.

I defer to it in almost all instances. He will see in how very few I have differed, and in some even of these I think him right. I think him so in suggesting a curtailment of the cases illustrative of Providence; and if I have preserved them it is because of the want of them in almost every one of the treatises, whether of divines or laymen, on that subject. These were generally confined to general principles and propositions, when cases are what speak most intelligibly to the sort of readers for whom I have written.

“I think him right in proposing to omit the very abstruse problem quoted by Archbishop King. I fairly own it is above my mathematical learning to comprehend it: yet, as it is proveable to those who have this learning, the more it appears jargon the more it is for my purpose.

“You will suppose I mean all this for your friend. Let me add, that his criticisms as to style seem almost always just, and I have always changed what he has pointed at as obscure, with real benefit. He has read me with close and gratifying attention, and I cannot but have profited by his reading.

* * * * *

The following letter relates to the second edition of “Tremaine;” and I must premise, in regard to the curtailments and “castigations” to which this letter, and one relating to the same subject in Mr. Phipps’s book, refer, that though consenting to assist in carrying out the proposed curtailment, I had no hand whatever in proposing, and in fact did not approve of it. It is true that certain critics, otherwise favourable to the work, had spoken of it in general terms as “too long.” But even if this complaint was a valid one—which few of its admirers will admit—the time was past for correcting it, when the work was before the world in a large edition, and was in the act of running a brilliant and successful course:—

“April 24, 1824.

“Dear Sir,—I was so desirous of losing no time in sending back the first volume of
Tremaine,’ yesterday, that I wrote in too great a hurry. In particular, if your critical friend was really serious in what he said about ‘imputation,’ I ought to have explained more than I did what I meant by his being partial (for I cannot think I called him a panegyrist) in the —— Review. By partial, then, I did not mean partial to you, but to a work which he had himself, by his judicious emendations, contributed to form: perhaps I might say partial to Georgina, whose character he seemed to so much like. If he thinks I imputed to him that he would be a panegyrist contrary to his opinions and feelings, nothing can be more erroneous; and I beg you will lose no time in giving him this explanation. You see I continue to suppose him the Reviewer in the —— (indeed, am only confirmed by his letter in thinking so), and my respect for him makes me anxious to remove all notion from him that I could have meant anything derogatory to his perfect freedom of mind. Indeed, I cannot imagine yet that he can have been serious, but that some of the
language he has used indicates something like an offended spirit.

“Upon consideration, I do not think that the emendations you have sent me (with the exception of those of the punctuation, which are most valuable) go far enough; and with the exception of Eugenia’s story, which you know I have entirely left to your friend’s discretion, I would wish my own castigations to be pursued in addition to his. * *

“”Wherever I have added any sentence giving a somewhat different turn to the ideas conveyed, I request it may be most exactly followed. You will, however, find this is scarcely anywhere done, except in one or two pages of the Bellenden House conversations—particularly in the description of Mrs. Neville, and in the chapter on Lord St. Clair previous to his offer to Greorgina. I have very particular reasons for wishing this to be most strictly complied with, and depend upon you exactly to second my wish.

* * I am glad your friend consents to have in the Bellenden House conversations and characters. But I do not think I mis-
construed his objection to them originally. The words he used were—‘they are all great bores’—the honesty of which cured their brusquerie; but I could not collect that his dislike to them proceeded chiefly from their being of no consequence to the story. With great submission to him, they are even connected with the story, as developing much of both Georgina and Tremaine, for without them we should know nothing of his penchant for Miss Neville or Lady Gertrude. Lady Gertrude afterwards even connects with the story, and Mrs. Neville, too, in the affair of Melainie; and at any rate they, with Miss Lyttleton, absolutely give rise to the night conversation in the carriage on returning home—so critical to the heart of Georgina. * * *


The following extract from a letter of Mr. Ward to his friend Mr. Austen, as given in Mr. Phipps’s book, will show that the “castigation” of which Mr. Phipps, in a previous passage, says some of Mr. Ward’s friends complained, was almost as much at
variance with the revisor’s views of the matter as with theirs:—

“I got all your packets and your friendly letter safe. I shall probably, on your representations, curtail my curtailments. * *  Colburn’s friend’s castigations did not amount to an eighth part of mine.”—Phipps, ii. 114.