LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward VII

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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I now recur to the commencement of my literary intercourse with the author of “Tremaine,” which, for more than a year and a half, remained anonymous on both sides—a fact which makes it needful that I say a few words in explanation of the origin and nature of the early portion of the following correspondence.

Up to the period of his composing the work entitled “Tremaine, or the Man of Refinement,” Mr. Ward’s whole life, after leaving college, had been one uninterrupted scene of active business, first as a practising barrister, and afterwards as a Member of Parliament and of a great political party; so that,
although he retained all the elegant scholarship and classic tastes he had acquired at Christ’s Church, Oxford, under his accomplished and beloved master,
Dr. Cyril Jackson, he had found few or no occasions for practice in English composition.* Moreover, his miscellaneous English reading had been chiefly confined to the school of Anne and her immediate successor; and he was fully aware of the great changes which English style had undergone since the establishment of the two great Quarterly Reviews: and though he did not admit those changes to be in all cases improvements, he fully recognised the general progress which the mere “complement extern” of our literature had made during the first quarter of the present century.

Under these circumstances, and addressing, as he chose avowedly to do in the case of “Tremaine,” the popular taste of the day, he wished to obtain for that work, during its

* The treatise on “The Law of Nations,” and the two or three political pamphlets which he wrote at a very early period of his political career, can scarcely be regarded as contradicting the above remark.

passage through the press, the benefit of such suggestions in regard to mere style and composition, as might seem called for in the judgment of some professional writer, whose practice, in connexion with the critical literature of the day, might be supposed to have given him those facilities in handling the mere mechanism of composition which nothing but long practice can impart.

The result, in one word, was that the MS. of “Tremaine” was proposed to be placed in my hands; and (after a delighted perusal of the first volume) I accepted the task of its revisal, under the express stipulation, on my part, that no proposed change or suggestion of mine, however slight or minute, should be carried into effect without the distinct sanction and approval of the author or his editor—for such the anonymous party communicating with the publisher was at first supposed to be.

Of course, the last thing to be expected from the honest and uncompromising fulfilment of a task like this, was the state of things which has at once enabled and impelled me to place before the world these
Recollections, and the correspondence which alone gives them any value. In fact, the frank good temper and generous candour with which the anonymous author of “Tremaine” received and replied to the suggestions of his anonymous adviser and critic (Heaven save the mark!) were among the most characteristic features of his healthy and finely-balanced mind; and, as might naturally be expected, they led, in the case in question, to my not seldom taking the liberty of throwing out hints and making suggestions which the merely clerical character of my task would not have warranted, in the absence of the marked encouragement thus afforded me, still less in the presence of my strong sense of the immeasurable inferiority of the critic to the criticised, in every quality of mind, both natural and acquired—with the sole and insignificant exception of that mere mechanical facility of hand (so to speak) which long practice may give to any hand, and the absence of it must withhold from all.

So true, indeed, is this, that by the time I had reached the middle of the work I found (but I here was really no occasion for further
revision as to mere style; and I suggested as much, but was overruled: and in all his subsequent works, except the “
Pictures of Human Life” (which was published when I was residing abroad), Mr. Plumer Ward, I believe, stipulated with his publisher, as part of the arrangement between them, that the MS. should pass through my hands.

I have felt no little difficulty in persuading myself formally to refer to circumstances which have compelled me not only to speak of myself, but to place myself in the light of a critic on the writings of a man towards whom, from the first moment that I knew him through the medium of his first work (as above alluded to), till the melancholy close of our intimacy by his death, I was accustomed to feel, and to look up to, with a respectful admiration that was only prevented from mounting into reverence by the frank cordiality and almost child-like simplicity of his personal bearing among his friends and associates. But when I recollect that Mr. Ward himself was in the habit of alluding, among his friends, and especially when I was present, to what he was pleased to call “my
share” of “
Tremaine” and “De Vere,” and that many of his most valuable and interesting letters would be either unintelligible, or would lead to erroneous conclusions, in the absence of some such explanation as that which I have now afforded, I feel that it would have been an unmeaning affectation to ignore circumstances which have formed the most gratifying feature of a literary life, which, however humble, has included not a few of a similar character, and none of an opposite one.