LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward XVIII

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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In continuing to furnish details from Mr. Ward’s own pen of the passage through the press of his last and most remarkable work, “De Clifford,” I shall need no apology with those readers who appreciate, or desire to appreciate, the literary and intellectual character of its writer. And it is to such readers only that these Memorials are addressed.

It will be clear from several passages in some of the following, as well as the preceding letters, that their writer felt for a time infinitely more anxiety and uncertainty about the fate of this latest of his literary offspring—this beloved child of his old age—than he had done in regard to any of its predecessors, and that a previous success, as signal and uniform as it was unexpected, had anything but increased his confidence in his own powers. This unaffected diffidence, coupled with the uncon-
cealed and almost childlike gratification which he felt in the commendations of those friends in whose judgment he put faith, offers a rare and beautiful instance of that freshness and youthfulness of heart and spirit which marked the last years of
Mr. Ward’s lengthened life, as notably as they had done the earlier ones.

The passage I have retained in the first of the following letters tempts me to remark, that if there is one test of what is called “genius” more sure than another, it is the occasional production of effects of which the producer is at first unconscious. The productions of the greatest genius that ever lived are one great series of these effects; and in his case the unconsciousness seems to have existed not merely “at first,” but at last, and to the end; for none can believe (at least, from what we at present know of him) that Shakspeare felt and recognised his vast powers or their results; and as certain is it that none of his friends, rich as some of them were in similar gifts, seem to have ever told him of them, at least, to anything like the extent to which we of the present age insist on. The whole of Mr. Ward’s works
contain nothing else so subtilely felt, so delicately and clearly developed, and so beautifully true at once to the decrees of nature and the requirements of art, as the unconscious love of Bertha for De Clifford throughout the entire story—a love that, while it never suffers one defalcation from its allegiance, never permits one discovery of its power till that supreme moment when all the world are welcome to know it. And of this finest feature in this the most consummate of all his various delineations of the female character, he himself, as appears from what follows, was wholly unconscious!

“My discovery,” as he phrases it, of this “double constancy” was of course nothing more than some passing expression of my admiration for the feature in question, as finely enhancing the noble unity of design displayed in this story—taking it for granted that he so intended it.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover, Jan. 17, 1841,

Dear Patmore,— * * * I am particularly delighted with the discovery you
have made (which I own I never made myself) of the double constancy in the work, that of Bertha as well of De Clifford. It gives a very increased value to the story, though, as I say, it was not a part of my professed object. In this you make me feel like the Irishman, who, prosecuting another for an assault, was so impressed with the eloquence of his counsel (
Curran) in describing it, that he advanced into the middle of the court and addressed the jury: ‘Indade, now, it’s all true, every word of it; but I did not know I had been half so ill-used till this jintleman tould me.’ I, of course, meant to represent De C. as always in high favour with Bertha, without, perhaps, her knowing how much; but confess it was not my object to demonstrate her constancy as well as his.

“You please me much by what you say of the quarrel with Albany. I myself felt very heroic in writing it. * * *

“R. P. W.

“P.S.—What is the ‘Betrothed,’ advertised by Bentley? Was not that the title of the novel you praised so much, and which I have been looking for ever since? But that was
to be published by
Colburn. What is the mystery of its postponement? C. told me it has long been printed, though not brought out.”

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover Hall, March 4, 1841.

Dear Patmore,—I do not think you have a right to tantalize me by saying you have a ‘bright thought,’ which is evidently to do you good, and then stop without telling it. You must feel that such a thought, leading to such consequences, must be most interesting to me, and I shall really be most anxious to be told it, when properly concocted. At any rate, I am glad you are going to do something with those ‘Tales of the Olden Time.’ I liked them so well, as indeed everything I have seen of yours (particularly your play), that I am absolutely astonished at your consuming your own bright fires in clearing others of smoke and dirt. What is to hinder you, with far less waste of time (and far pleasanter employment too), from reaping as much of the harvest of letters as those rapid and suc-
cessful gentlemen,
Marryat, to wit, and Ainsworth, and James, and even Sir Edward himself?

“By the way, I have just finished the last work of the last-mentioned, and was more, far more interested by it than by any of his other works. I could not quit it, notwithstanding it was, as usual, filled with improbabilities. But Robert Beaufort, Lord Lilburn, Mr. Beaufort, the Mortons, Madame Mirevale, and some others, make up for wants in the still more principal (or intended principal) characters, the hero, Philip, and the strange and overpowering anomaly, Gawtry. They are admirably touched, the interest never ceases from beginning to end, and prevents you from stopping to mark faults. No mean service. What do you say to it? * *

“The plot thickens, and we may soon be out.*

“Notwithstanding the stones I have thrown at the Sourkrouts and Paragraphs, who will no doubt pelt me in return, my

* Alluding to “De Clifford.”

pulse is very tranquil; and, whether from impenetrable assurance or noble confidence, I have very good hopes for my ‘Constant Man.’ Certainly, I never felt less anxiety from fear of critics, whom, with very few exceptions indeed, I have begun to despise.

“Adieu. Always much yours,

“R. P. W.”

The “bright thought” referred to in the following and preceding letters was shortly afterwards put into words, in the form of a request that Mr. Ward would give the sanction of his name, as editor, to those “Tales of the Olden Time,” of which he had expressed so favourable an opinion in former letters, and had repeatedly urged me to publish; the favour being, of course, sought conditionally on his approval of every part of the work when completed for publication; and only under the belief that nothing short of such sanction would attract attention to a series of Tales, the scenes of which are for the most part laid in ante-historical times. In making this request to Mr. Ward, it is due to myself to say, that it never for an instant occurred to
me that his compliance with it would subject him even to the suspicion, much less to the distinct and formal attribution, of the authorship of a work so totally different in style, tone of thought, mode of construction, &c., from anything that he had put forth. Yet the attribution was almost universally made—was reiterated after his formal denial of it—and has been repeated in every Memoir that I have seen of Mr. Ward (of course excepting
Mr. Phipps’s) since his death. It is for this reason that I have thought it necessary hereafter to refer, somewhat in detail, to the facts of the case, and to publish two or three of his letters on the subject.

R. Plumer Ward to P. G. Patmore.
“Okeover, March 6, 1841.

Dear Patmore,—You tantalize worse than ever, and make me quite angry by the disappointing structure of your sentence, informing me that you had overcome your scruple about communicating your ‘bright thought,’ which you would unfold—in a day or two. ‘O, most lame, and impotent conclusion!’ And all the worse for my knowing what with
you a day or two means—scarcely less than three or four weeks.

“Well! you make up for it (if anything can) by the very pretty things you say of my dear heroines, and the encouragement this gives me as to their final success. Nor can anything be more delicate than the manner in which you convey a good opinion which, I need not tell you, is the most valuable I could have. So I gird myself for the battle, and care nothing for the Sourkrouts.

“Farewell, and ever yours,
“R. P. W.”