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regards Walter Scott. You say that “his character is little worthy of enthusiasm," at the same time that you mention his productions in the manner they deserve. I have known Walter Scott long and well, and in occasional situations which call forth the real character—and I can assure you that his character is worthy of admiration—that of all men he is the most open, the most honourable, the most amiable. With his politics I have nothing to do: they differ from mine, which renders it difficult for me to speak of them. But he is perfectly sincere in them: and Sincerity may be humble, but she cannot be servile. I pray you, therefore, to correct or soften that passage. You may, perhaps, attribute this officiousness of mine to a false affectation of candour, as I happen to be a writer also. Attribute it to what motive you please, but believe the truth. I say that Walter Scott is as nearly a thorough good man as man can be, because I know it by experience to be the case.
(1823, May 29. Letter 1089, to Henri
Beyle “Stendhal"], Vol. VI., p. 220.)
BYRON'S OBITER DICTA ON THE DRAMA
(1) THE DRURY LANE COMMITTEE KINNAIRD, I hope, has appeased your magnanimous indignation at his blunders. I wished and wish you were in the Committee, with all my heart. It seems so hopeless a business, that the company of a friend would be quite consoling,—but more of this when we meet. In the mean time, you are entreated to prevail upon M" Esterre to engage herself. [The lady had become a celebrity of a kind through her husband, M J. N. d'Esterre, having been killed in a duel with Dan O'Connell in February of this year.] I believe she has been written to, but your influence, in person or proxy, would probably go further than our proposals. What they are, I know not; all my new function consists in listening to the despair of Cavendish Bradshaw, the hopes of Kinnaird, the wishes of Lord Essex, the complaints of Whitbread, and the calculations of Peter Moore-all of which, and whom, seem totally at variance. C. Bradshaw wants to light the theatre with gas, which
may, perhaps (if the vulgar be believed), poison half the audience, and all the dramatis personee. Essex has endeavoured to persuade Kean not to get drunk; the consequence of which is, that he has never been sober since. Kinnaird, with equal success, would have convinced Raymond that he, the said Raymond, had too much salary. Whitbread wants us to assess the pit another sixpence,--a damned insidious proposition, which will end in an 0. P. combustion. Το
own all, Robins, the auctioneer has the impudence to be displeased, because he has no dividend. The villain is a proprietor of shares, and a long-lunged orator in the meetings. I hear he has prophesied our incapacity,—"a foregone conclusion,” whereof I hope to give him signal proofs before we are done.
Will you give us an opera ? No, I'll be sworn; but I wish you would. * ***
(1815, June 12. Letter 538, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. III., p. 201.) Poor Whitbread died yesterday morning, a sudden and severe loss. His health had been wavering, but so fatal an attack was not apprehended. He dropped down, and I believe never spoke afterwards. I perceive Perry attributes his death to Drury Lane,-a consolatory encouragement to the new Committee. I have no doubt that * *, who is of a plethoric habit, will be bled immediately; as I have, since my marriage, lost much of my paleness, and-horresco referens (for I hate even moderate fat) --that happy slenderness, to which when I first knew you, I had attained, I by no means sit easy under this dispensation of the Morning Chronicle. Every
AN EQUIVOCAL USE OF “RAVISH"
one must regret the loss of Whitbread; he was surely a great and very good man. . . . La! Moore—how you blaspheme about “Parnassus and “Moses !" I am ashamed for you. Won't you do any thing for the drama? We beseech an Opera. Kinnaird's blunder was partly mine. I wanted you of all things in the Committee, and so did he. But we are now glad you were wiser; for it is, I doubt, a bitter business.
(1815, July 7. Letter 539, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. III., p. 207.)
Is not part of the dialogue in the new piece a little too double, if not too broad, now and then ?-for instance, the word “ravish ” occurs in the way of question, as well as a remark, some half dozen times in the course of one scene, thereby meaning, not raptures, but rape. With regard to the probable effect of the piece, you are the best judge: it seems to me better and worse than many others of the same kind. I hope you got home at last, and that Misshas recovered from the eloquence of my colleague, which, if it convinced, it is the first time, I do not mean the first time his eloquence had that effect, — but that a woman could be convinced she was not fit for any thing on any stage.
([Undated.] Letter 542, to Thomas Dibdin,
Vol. III., p. 213.)
We intend to be inveterately impartial, no doubt, and your request is in direct opposition to our intentions. I shall therefore do all I can to forward
it. I return to town to-morrow, but write to the Committee before I set off, that no time may be lost; you say that you will “try to soften Kinnaird and George.” I beg leave to say that I expect to be softened as well as another, and desire you will set about that process immediately, and begin with me first, as the most obdurate of the party. I believe the person on whose behalf you have applied to be the same recommended by Lady Besborough, a great point in her favour, particularly with me. You “wish, beg, and entreat." I presume that these expressions are to be allotted one a piece to George [Lamb], Kinnaird, and me; pray in future let me have the first only, and I shall consider it as a command.
(1815, September 3. Letter 545, to the
Hon. Mrs George Lamb, Vol. III.,
Ivan is accepted, and will be put in progress on Kean's arrival. The theatrical gentlemen have a confident hope of its success.
I know not that any alterations for the stage will be necessary; if any, they will be trifling, and you shall be duly apprised. I would suggest that you should not attend any except the latter rehearsals—the managers have requested me to state this to you. You can see them, viz. Dibdin and Rae, whenever you please, and I will do any thing you wish to be done on your suggestion in the mean time.
M" Mardyn is not yet out, and nothing can be determined till she has made her appearance-I mean as to her capacity for the part you mention, which I