LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
Laman Blanchard I

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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My first acquaintance with Laman Blanchard arose out of that (now-a-days rare) esprit-de-corps which marked the whole of his literary career, and invariably impelled him to exercise his fine critical faculties in a generous and genial spirit. He was at the time I speak of (in 1836) editor of a journal, with the proprietor of which I had recently had serious differences on pecuniary matters, that led to legal proceedings on my part, which, after great expenses on both sides, had just ended in the usual way—namely, without (so at least each party conceived) anything like justice being obtained by either.
This was an awkward crisis at which to gratify the natural aspiration of an aggrieved proprietor of half-a-dozen literary organs—“Oh that mine enemy would write a book!” But it so happened that I had no escape from the threatened peril.* The desiderated
book was written and published; circumstances required that the author’s name should appear in the title-page; and I was prepared for the worst,—looking for that worst from the particular quarter over which Blanchard presided, because there, as I believed, the sinister influence in question was less under control than elsewhere. On the dreaded review making its appearance, however, it turned out to be a panegyric, of the most gratifying and flattering description; and, on inquiry, I found that it was written by Blanchard himself.

This struck me as being so marked a stepping aside from his course to do a liberal and generous thing (for he could not fail to be aware of my peculiar position with his chef) that, contrary to my feeling of what ought

* The peril, I have since had good reason to believe, was wholly imaginary on my part.

to be the rule in such matters, I could not help addressing a note of acknowledgment to the writer; and his reply gave occasion to a personal meeting, which led to an intimacy that ended only with his life.

As the little note above alluded to is no less characteristic of its writer than is the circumstance which gave rise to it, I shall insert it here.

This note, slight as it is, may be cited as a marking exemplification of that peculiar style and tone of social intercourse, at once courtly and cordial, which formed so large an ele-
ment of the causes of
Blanchard’s personal popularity with his friends, who, though they included many of the finest and most cultivated spirits of the time, were none of them proof against the fascinating flattery of such notes as these.

I must be allowed to dwell for a few moments on this point at the outset of my Recollections of Laman Blanchard, because it marks one of the leading features, and perhaps the only defective one, of his intellectual character, and one which was singularly reflected and typified in his eloquent and expressive countenance.

Paradoxical as it may sound to the reader who was unacquainted with Laman Blanchard, and unjust as it will probably seem to many of his personal acquaintance and to some even of his friends,—though perfectly sincere in all he said and wrote of and to those friends and acquaintance, he was nevertheless a true courtier, even in the court sense of the phrase;—in other words, whatever he had to say or write, he possessed and invariably used the mingled art and good-nature of turning it all “to favour and to
prettiness,” and of so turning it, that suspicion of its sincerity could not intrude to mar the flattering effect.

Nor was there, in point of fact, any insincerity in Blanchard’s courtliness; and this was the secret of his unequalled social popularity. The beautiful mask which his mind almost always wore, and which was reflected in the set smile that always illumined his regular and finely moulded, but small and somewhat sharp features, was not a thing put on for the nonce, to serve a purpose; it was a natural endowment. The extreme sweetness, amounting to benignity, of his natural disposition, rendered him that anomaly in social life, a natural courtier—a courtier without knowing or intending it—above all, without thinking or hoping to get anything by it.

But if this was one of the great charms of Blanchard’s mind and personal bearing, it was also their one besetting sin; for it made him equally beloved and popular with all manner of men; which an honest and delicately-minded man can scarcely permit himself to be.


Nor was the damaging effect which this quality produced on Blanchard’s otherwise clear and transparent spirit its most pardonable sin. Landor, in one of his noble “Conversations,” makes Alfieri brand “the lumber of the Italian courts,” for having “ruined his physiognomy,” by impressing a perpetual scowl of contempt upon it, “even when he whispered words of love in the prone ear of his donna.” In like manner the honied sweetness of Laman Blanchard’s temperament “ruined his physiognomy,” by impressing a perpetual smile upon it, even when uttering words of no-meaning courtesy in the pleased ear of a knave or a fool.

It is true that Blanchard could occasionally get into a passion, like the best or the worst of us; and then he could be, and could look, as bitter and biting as the most ill-conditioned of satirists or malcontents, and as small-souled as the meanest of them. But the rule of his mind and temper was a condition literally overflowing with the milk and honey of human kindness; and this habitual condition so moulded its type upon
his countenance, that though the thing represented was a living reality, the type was a dead mask, that at once falsified and disfigured the features it marked.