LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward IX
Peter George Patmore to Robert Plumer Ward, [January? 1827]

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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“There is, however, one defect, and to my thinking a very important one, with which I have of course not meddled, but shall point out for the reconsideration of the author; though I am aware that the remedying of it will involve considerable difficulty. I allude to his mode of commencing the tale, by the introduction of a character (Beauclerk), who has nothing whatever to do with the main story, or the per-
sons by whose agency it is subsequently worked out. The introduction of this character (to my mind, at least) produces a very awkward and unpleasant effect; not exactly at the opening of the story (for there it is of little consequence)—but the recollection of this person obtrudes itself upon the reader all through the volume at intervals, and interferes with that unity of feeling which should, and which otherwise would, prevail throughout.

“You are, of course, aware that I am speaking only of the effect produced on me throughout the first volume. What use, if any, may be made of Beauclerk afterwards is, of course, more than I can anticipate. But I feel certain that his introduction can at best only be got over skilfully as a difficulty, not turned to any good account in heightening the interest, or otherwise furthering the purposes, of the main story. * *

“Why should not the book begin in the natural way—namely, at the precise period when the story begins? Why should several years of De Vere’s life be anticipated, and then cut off again, without any counterba-
lancing advantage being gained (that I can perceive) by this artificial management of the narrative? Nothing can be more objectionable in its effects, as far as they extend, than thus bringing a hero to life before his time, and producing upon the mind of the reader certain specific impressions, both mental and personal, concerning him, and then expecting us to get rid of all these impressions at once, on transferring him to another period of his life; or (still worse) permitting or compelling us to keep those impressions, and letting them interfere at every step (as they most decidedly do in the case in question) with others which should be simple, distinct, and, above all, progressive.

“The author of ‘De Vere’ will not suppose me ignorant of the occasional good effect of plunging in medias res. But he will also recollect the Giant Molineau’s advice about ‘beginning at the beginning;’ and though he may very fairly say that each of these modes of commencing a story has its advantages, he will, I think, on consideration, admit that they cannot well be united.

“But we have, in fact, not merely one re-
trograde movement in the story, but two. First, there is the ‘Editor’s Preface,’ which dates back I know not how far. Then the ‘Introductory’ matter, bringing us up to the visit of Beauclerk to Talbois. And then the story recommences a third time. All this strikes me as being at best superfluous. But I am certain that the circumstance of our first impression of De Vere being given and studiously fixed upon us, when he is a man of thirty, interferes very mischievously with all the after impressions we are called upon to receive of him. And for anything I can at present see to the contrary, this injurious effect is likely to recur at intervals all through the work. * * *

“I will only add that if, for any reason connected with those subsequent portions of the story which I have not yet seen, the. author should still determine to retain the introductory ‘Tour’ of Beauclerk, it seems desirable that it should at least be disconnected from the main narrative, and come expressly as an ‘introductory’ chapter.” * * *