LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward IX
Robert Plumer Ward to Peter George Patmore, 17 February 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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“Feb. 17, 1817.
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“Notwithstanding the very handsome letter you have sent me from your able friend, I will confine this as much as possible to business, especially as, with the usual obstinacy of a strong first opinion, the more I think of the subject the more I am confirmed in it, and have framed my final alteration accordingly. At the same time I am really quite sorry not to have your friend’s opinion with me, as it shakes my confidence in my own, though it does not convince my judgment.

“What I have done is this (for as to this
point I entirely agree with your friend)—I have annihilated Beauclerk, the nephew, but not the uncle, who must be still the supposed author, who meets De Vere in the way he does. Without this I must lose perhaps one of the most interesting and forcible parts of the work—certainly that which creates the whole expectation and interest to be found in the outset, which, much as I fear I prefer ‘
Tremaine’ upon the whole, beats all the introductory part of ‘Tremaine’ twenty to one. However, Mr. Beauclerk himself is made to retire hors de page at about the 116th page of the first volume, and never appears again; so that everything then proceeds from a beginning to an end, without the least interruption or division of interest; and unity (which I so entirely agree with your friend in admiring) is quite preserved. It will then stand thus: Beauclerk brings you acquainted with De Vere, his mother, and two quondam mentors, and lays the foundation of an interest about them all, in certain scenes and conversations, which last through one hundred and sixteen pages, and no more; and he then says—Having
thus excited your curiosity about De Vere’s life, I will tell you its story, from his boyish days till the most interesting part of it is over. But in doing this, observe, I have nothing more to say of myself in it, because, previous to my knowing him, I of course had no share in it; and during the few months after our first meeting, which complete the story I mean to relate, I was absent from him. Henceforward, therefore, I am only his biographer, and you will hear no more of me in person.

“This, then, is all that Beauclerk has to do with it. He then begins with the childhood of De Vere, and pursues his career through various vicissitudes of ambition and love, till both are crowned: and this ends the book.

“With unfeigned deference, therefore, but yet with confidence, I ask your friend in what is this objectionable? or, if the earlier part of De Vere’s life (I mean that previous to the meeting between him and Beauclerk) consumed ten volumes instead of three, or composed the whole story one had to relate, how is the interest divided, or the plan mischievous to it? What numbers of books are
there wherein a man, at the zenith of his prosperity, writes his own life up to the moment of his telling the story. And what does Beauclerk do more than this by De Vere, after he has thoroughly introduced him to his readers? For you will please to observe, that Beauclerk is not writing in the first days of his acquaintance with De Vere, but in his old age, and in the way of reminiscence, long after all that composes the story is over.

“Having thus, I trust, satisfactorily explained myself, I cannot but again thank your friend for all the kind things he is pleased to say of the execution of the work, distinct from its plan, which very, very much encourages me. And as to the plan itself, I would adopt his suggestions if I could; but I think he will see that I could not make Beauclerk meet De Vere except in the precise time he did; certainly, not a few months before, as he proposes, for that would have been in the midst of the interest created by Lord Mowbray’s death, when he would have been more in the way; and, if you go farther back, De Vere was abroad.

“In short, it would delight me to have
your friend’s support as to the plan, if I could; but if I cannot, except against my own doctrines and decided judgment, his evident candour will excuse my pursuing the latter. I, however, quite agree with him in the general fault of all heroes and heroines, that they are paragons beyond their years; and certainly De Vere and Constance, from their matured judgments, ought to be near ten years older than they are. It is a fault, however, which, as he himself says, is necessary to all similar works, in order to combine mental with bodily perfection.”

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