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Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) online

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You are aware, I dare say, by the newspapers that a subscription
has been set on foot by several persons for Mrs. Scott's benefit ; a
measure which I cannot but consider extremely improper at this
time, inasmuch as it may excite the minds of the public, and
therefore of the jurors, still further on the subject. Baldwin has
this morning sent me a paragraph for my perusal and approval as
a communication in the Lion's Head, of the subscription, etc. I
shall return it with a request that for one month it may be post-
poned, as the Legal Inquiry will then be concluded, and no ill
effects can ensue its publication.


I should have told you that Mrs. Scott's feeling is very strong
against Christie, — that she considers him to have gained a hand-
some name, unjustly, in the cause. She regards him with the
strongest sentiment of disgust and pain.

It now only remains for me to speak on the subject of your
return. For my own part I consider it dangerous, — but Rice
thinks that if you were quietly to come over and take a retired
lodging near us, and inform us only of your residence, — that you
might then be in London safely for the remainder of the time
before trial. One thing would be in your favour, and that is the
belief in every person's mind that you are abroad. If you deter-
mine on coming, (and certainly on many points your presence
would now be highly desirable) — you need not say a word about
it till you arrive. You might then take a quiet lodging in your
assumed name — refer to Mr. Rice for character, etc. — and send us
word where we may come to you. But unless you can determine
on seeing no one, on not writing to any person, or going out at
all, — your retirement would be quite hazardous. To be sure the
time is near, should you be discovered ; but a confinement would
be irksome and expensive at best. In this you must judge
from your own sentiments. Rice has requested me to leave him
room for a few words, and I shall here therefore close my letter.
We send to your Mother at all times.

I am My Dear Sir,

Yours very faithfully
W. Reynolds.

Rice has this moment returned — and, as he expects that you
will most likely adopt the course of coming to England, he will not
do any thing in the assignment until then, or until he hears from
you on the subject. Present or absent it is a step that you must
take, and if he does not hear by the next post of your intention of
returnmg, he will immediately see Mr. Mount and other parties in-
terested on the subject. He has seen your Father, Mother, and
Mr. Stevens this morning — who send letters to you.



The following manifesto, alluded to vol. i., pp. 15, 16, is
undated. It appears, however, to have been composed not
long after the duel. It is in P. G. Patmore's handwriting.

Now that the friends of Mr. Patmore can vindicate that gentle-
man's character and his conduct in the late unhappy affair, without
prejudice to the interests of other parties, they think it no longer
right to abstain from doing so, since, to effect this most fully,
nothing more is needed than a simple statement of facts.

The prejudice which exists against Mr. Patmore — for there is
no doubt that such a prejudice does exist — arises from a feeling
that, in the meeting which ended so fatally to Mr. Scott, Mr. Pat-
more was not so careful of his friend's safety as he might and
ought to have been consistently with his friend's honour. The
friends of Mr. Patmore do not complahi of the existence of this
prejudice, because it is the necessary consequence of what has
hitherto been regarded as an authentic statement which circum-
stances have rendered it improper to notice or contradict until the
present moment. All they now ask of the Public is to listen to
the real facts of the case, and the real impressions of those who
were the most deeply interested in the affair, and who were alone
capable of knowing and judging of those facts. When this justice
has been done to Mr. Patmore, he may feel safe in submitting him-
self to that legal investigation which he has never for a moment
wished to avoid, but which, if his friends remain silent, he must
now be meeting under circumstances of peculiar hardship. In re-
questing attention, therefore, to the following statement, it is confid-
ently hoped that such attention will not be withheld. For the
rest, an English Public are too enlightened not to judge correctly
of facts which are clearly placed before them.

It is unnecessary to allude to Mr. Scott's difference with Mr.
Lockhart further than to state — because it is not publicly known —
that Mr. Scott applied to Mr. Patmore in the first instance, request-
ing him to undertake the conduct of the affair ; and that it was
afterwards confided to the management of another gentleman,^ at

^ Horace Smith, one of the authors of " Rejected Addresses."


the express suggestion, not of Mr. Scott, but of Mr. Patmore,
though Mr. Scott would not consent to take any step in it without
first consulting with Mr. Patmore; and it was by his express
advice that Mr. Scott finally declined a meeting with Mr. Lockhart.

The immediate circumstances which led to the meeting between
Mr. Scott and Mr. Christie need not be referred to in detail ; but
it is necessary to state, in proof of Mr. Patmore's general views on
the subject, that he strenuously and repeatedly urged Mr. Scott
not to notice those circumstances at all ; but that, when he found
Mr. Scott's irritated feelings could not be appeased wt^Aoia noticing
them, he then urged him to do it in manner very different from
that which Mr. Scott was disposed to use, and which he could not
be dissuaded from doing — so acutely did he feel as to the peculiar
situation in which he then stood in consequence of the turn which
his difference with Mr. Lockhart had taken.

But the circumstances in regard to which Mr. Patmore has been
the most injuriously prejudged are those which took place at the
actual meeting between Mr. Scott and Mr. Christie. Without re-
ferring to any previous accounts of those circumstances, the friends
of Mr. Patmore will here state what really did occur, leaving the
conduct of all parties to be judged of by those who are sure to
judge of it sanely and correctly, because they can have no interest
or desire but that justice should be done to all. First, then, that
remark which was made by Mr. Christie relative to the advantages
of the different positions in the field was made, not when the
parties were on the point of firing, but before the positions had
been finally chosen, or the pistols loaded ; and, in fact, Mr. Scott
himself fired both times from that side of the field where Mr.
Christie stood when the remark was made. Secondly, and with
respect to the nature of the first fire^ the pistols of both parties
were levelled, and both fired immediately on the signal being given
and nearly at the same instant of time ; and not a word passed
from either party as to the nature of this fire, until they were on the
point of firing again ; at which time the friend of Mr. Christie
addressed some words to that gentleman by nafne, and which Mr.
Patmore therefore considered himself as not entitled, much less
called upon, to attend to ; though he did hear them, and they were
perfectly unintelligible to him. Mr. Scott also appeared to hear
them ; and the effect of them was to irritate him in the highest
degree — for the impression he (evidently) received from them was
that Mr. Christie's friend meant to insinuate something against his
(Mr. Scott's) conduct, in having fired too quickly. Mr. Patmore
was fearful, from the irritation of Mr. Scott's words and manner at
this time, that he might say something offensive, which would place
the probability of an adjustment still farther off: he therefore
urged Mr. Scott to be silent. Nothing more was said by the


opposite party ; and a second fire took place. Immediately on
the effect of this fire being known, both Mr. Christie and his friend
informed Mr. Scott and Mr. Patmore that Mr. Scott had not been
fired at the first time ; and not till then had either Mr. Scott or
Mr. Patmore the most distant suspicion that such had been the
fact, or that any intimation was intended to be given to that effect.
It seems almost superfluous to add how eagerly Mr. Patmore
would have accepted and used such an intimation, had it been
given and understood ; for (to say nothing of other considerations)
it might have prevented the most bitter and irreparable misfor-
tune which has ever happened to him in the loss of the dearest,
and in every sense of the word the most valuable friend he ever

One more fact should be added, because it proved what both
Mr. Patmore and Mr. Scott's impressions really were, as to the
above circumstances. A paragraph having appeared in the news-
papers calculated to induce the preposterous belief that Mr. Pat-
more and Mr. Scott were aware — before the second fire took place
— that the first had not been directed at Mr. Scott, Mr. Patmore,
instead of contradicting this report on his own authority alone,
thought right first to endeavour to procure Mr. Scott's impression
of the fact, if he was in a state to be spoken to on the subject.
Mr. Patmore therefore sent a friend to Chalk Farm for this pur-
pose. The gentleman to whom Mr. Patmore intrusted this inquiry
was an entire stranger to both Mr. and Mrs. Scott. He returned
to Mr. Patmore with a paper containing the following words.^
These words were taken down by Mrs. Scott from her husband's
own lips : they were read over to him after they were written, and
he was asked if that was what he meant to state : he replied that
it was, and desired that the paper might be sent to Mr. Patmore
immediately. It should be remembered that this statement was
given some days after the date of one which had been made
public since Mr. Scott's death ; but long before any person except
the one ^ who made it public knew that any such statement was to
be expected.

It now remains to show what were Mr. Scott's impressions as to
Mr. Patmore's general conduct of the affair up to the moment of
the meeting ; and also what are \h& present impressions and know-
ledge of the individual most deeply involved in the fatal con-
sequences of that meeting, and who was in hourly and unremit-
ting attendance on her husband, from the night he received his
wound till he died. For this purpose the friends of Mr. Patmore
are authorised to publish the following extracts. The first is from
a letter ^ to Mrs. Scott, written by her husband on the evening of

^ Given vol. i., p. 13. - Dr. Darling.

' This letter is not among the papers preserved.


the meeting, with directions for it to be given to her in case of his
death. The affecting circumstances under which this letter was
written and received make its contents the more important and
conclusive. The second extract is from a letter written by Mrs.
Scott to Mr. Patmore,^ on her hearing of the public prejudice
which existed against that gentleman on account of his conduct in
this unhappy affair. The friends of Mr. Patmore refrain from
offering anything in the shape of remark on the above statement ;
for the. facts which it contains are in themselves conclusive. They
will only add that, as Mr. Patmore's character and habits can-
not be known to the public, nothing has been stated as fact but
what could be corroborated by other than Mr. Patmore's own

^ It is not clear what extracts P. G. Patmore intended to give. Mrs. Scott's
letters are printed in Appendix II. as they came to hand.



17 Princes Street,

Saturday, 20 Dec, 1817.


The Criticisms to which you referred me — the translation
from Petrarch — and the style of your correspondence prove that
you are a gentleman and a scholar. Being assured of that, I am
the less anxious to be made acquainted with your name, should you
have any wish to let it remain unknown to me. In refusing all
anonymous communications I was influenced by what I conceived
to be a necessary caution, as not unfrequently articles have been
sent to me as original which were not so. For satisfactory reasons
I am determined that my own name shall be known only to the
Proprietor of the Magazine. If under such circumstances, you
choose to intrust your name to me, it shall, if you say so, be a
secret in my heart. It would certainly on many accounts be
desirable that I should know the name of so excellent a corre-
spondent, and something of his opinion of men and things. The
principles of the Magazine which I edit shall be independent of all
personal favour. But if you do become one of my Correspondents,
it would give me pleasure to consult your feelings in many ways —
and to avoid giving offence perhaps to your literary predilections.
I confess that I speak to you the more freely on this point, because
your translation from Petrarch appeared, if I mistake not, in
the " Examiner Newspaper," ' — from which circumstance it is
probable that you may have a personal acquaintance with Mr.
Leigh Hunt. Now you cannot be ignorant that there is a strife
between him and a writer in our Magazine. The offensive paper
certainly contains some very reprehensible passages which may seem
to imply what I know the writer never meant to insinuate, and in

* Note by P. G. Patmore. Notwithstanding this it was, according to his
account, so " beautiful," that he reprinted it in the Magazine.


that shape never would have been inserted but by accident. But
if your sentiments concerning Mr. Hunt's poetry are at variance
with those expressed in this Magazine, and if you wish to defend
him, our pages are open to you to say what you choose on this
subject. The style of your Criticism is so like the best parts of the
" Examiner " and " Champion," that I have an impression, perhaps
an erroneous one, that you may be acquainted with the men of
talents who support these publications. If you choose therefore to
say anything confidentially to me on this or any other subject, you
will have no cause to regret such confidence. And I am ready to
answer any question you may put to me, in the most free and un-
reserved manner.

I am of opinion that a regular monthly account of the Acted
Drama of London would be of great benefit to this Magazine, and
I can devote to this purpose from three to six pages, or even
occasionally a page or two more, though in all probability six pages
would be found sufficient for you. The execution of this plan I
leave entirely to your judgement. I have only to observe that, in
writing, you might keep in mind that it is for an " Edin. Magazine"
and that you should have a regular commencemefii as ijitroduction
explaining your views. But the pages to which you referred me
convince me that, whatever you do write, it will be executed with
ability and judgement.

With respect to free admission into the theatres, I believe that
I shall soon be able to procure this ; but meanwhile, should you
incur any expense on our account in any way, the amount shall in-
stantly be sent you. You say that your object is amusement, and
not emolument. I can only reply to this, that if you have become
a Contributor to this Magazine, you shall, if you chuse it, be re-
munerated for your trouble, as liberally as any Writer on a work of
this nature.

You will, therefore, be so good as to write to me as soon as
possible. It would be desirable that your first communication
should appear in our January No. in which case, it should be here
on the loth or 12th at the very latest. And you should let me
know previously to what length it may extend.

If you finally make up your mind to write for me, I see no
reason why you should confine yourself to the Drama. Your ac-
complishments would render you a valuable contributor in many
other departments, and essays on any subject you choose will be
most acceptable. I intend henceforth that the Magazine be still
more miscellaneous, and contain a great variety of short pieces in
prose and verse to relieve the effect of longer and graver communi-
cations. If you see anything amiss in any opinion contained in our
pages, you may attack and destroy it. I feel that in you I have to
deal with a Gentleman, and if you should, unluckily for us, be


prevented from meeting our wishes, we part now with friendship
and courtesy.

I am, Sir,

Yours with respect.

The Editor of
Blackwood's Edin. Magazine.

I send this in a parcel to Messrs. Baldwin and Co. with a copy
of this Month's Magazine, which I hope you will like.

Edin., 29 January, 1818.
To A. Z.,


I need not say more to you, than that your two articles on
the Acted Drama (forming one in our Number of this Month)
fully equalled my expectations. In you I have found a most valu-
able correspondent, and sincerely hope you will find leisure to be
a regular one. I have enclosed you ;^io — as a retaining fee — and
I have no doubt that the success of our work, which will be greatly
aided by your most effective assistance, will enable us to pay all
our best contributions, at least as liberally as any similar periodical
publication in the kingdom.

Till I have made some arrangements about free admittances to
the Theatres, pray keep an account of your expenses in that way,
and let it be sent to me when you think proper. But I trust that
ere long I shall procure them.

We are all very much behind-hand in this city in theatrical
knowledge ; and the more criticism on living actors you can inter-
weave with your Acted Drama, the better for Scotch readers.
Your discretion will tell you how far you ought to go in this, so as
not to appear uttering unnecessary truths to our English friends.
Mathews is acting here at present, and if you have an opportunity
of sketching his merits in your next, it would please us here. But
as I said before I leave this department entirely to yourself.

Occasional Essays — short or long — on other subjects will be
acceptable. Vain as we Scotsmen are of ourselves, the idiomatic
language and simple elegance of Englishmen tells with us; and
our Magazine can every month be open to one other article from
you of equal length with your Acted Drama, if you choose to
favour us with it.

Would not "The Poets of the West End of the Town,"—
Spencer, etc., etc., be a good subject for an article or two !

I perceive by the Newspapers that Coleridge is about to deliver
a course of Lectures. Could you furnish us with an interesting
account of his first three lectures for our February Number, and of



his next three on Shakespeare for the March No. ? If you think
so — charge the price of the Course of Lectures to the Magazine.

Your poetry is in [my] opinion admirable, and I can scarcely
expect much of it for the Magazine. I sent the two compositions
you mentioned to the Gentleman who reviewed " Lallah Rookh "
and " Manfred," and I now enclose you his letter to Mr. Blackwood
on the subject, rather than mutilate his words, and you will return
it with your first communication.

I need not say to you how foolishly false is the report that we
intend to be libellers. I regret that on the subject of Mr. Leigh
Hunt offence has been given to you, and indeed our London
Correspondent in his first Paper expressed himself very unguard-
edly, though I cannot see any good from supposing that he meant
to accuse Mr. Hunt of immoral actions — which indeed I know
was not once in his mind. But I trust that our opinions and
sentiments on other occasions may coincide. So no more on what
must be painful. With the assistance of Mr. Walter Scott, Mr.
Henry Mackenzie Dr. Brewster, Professor Thomson, Professor
Jamieson, Mr. Wilson, Dr. Gordon, Mr. Lockhart, and many
other gentlemen of the first literary reputation in Scotland, we
have no need to seek to attract public notice by unworthy means,
and I leave you to judge, notwithstanding our difference of
opinion on one subject, and, if you please, our culpable error, if,
on a single occasion we have ever attempted it.

Be so good as return Mr. Wilson's letter as soon as possible,
and let me hear from you what I am to expect for next Number,
and about what time.

I am, Sir,

Your Most Ob. Sr.,

The Editor of

Blackwood's Magazine.

Edin., 29 January, 1818.


Mr. Blackwood has this moment shewn me your letter of
the 26th.

I declined Z's communication respecting Mr. Hazlitt's Lectures,
because I feared it might be too bitter, and I feel some difficulty
in accepting yours lest it should be too panegyrical. At the same
time I am no stranger to Mr. Hazlitt's talents, and from my con-
fidence in your discretion, I can have no doubt that such an
article could not fail of being interesting. I am therefore loth to
lose it, and hope that you will send it to me if possible by the 9th,
leaving to me a discretionary power over its insertion (which I
have Uttle doubt will be exerted in its favour) and the liberty of
making any observations I may think fit upon it, in a future



Number. Should any such observations appear to me to be
called for, you may rest assured that they will be expressed with
all due respect to yourself and in a manner which will do no in-
justice to Mr. Hazlitt. This much I have thought necessary to
say to you, because I cannot always approve either of the matter
or the manner of Mr. Hazlitt's lucubrations, and therefore while
you are at liberty to state your own opinions or his in your own
way in our Magazine, you will admit it to be fair that I avail my-
self, if I chuse, of the same privilege.

Your Critique on your friend's work, shall with pleasure be in-
serted, unless it contains something very inconsistent indeed with
the general strain of sentiments and opinions of this Magazine,
which I know to be highly improbable, and I repeat that it will at
all times give me satisfaction to consult your feelings on all literary

You will perceive that our last Number is not a very ambitious
one, though perhaps, for general readers, an occasional number of
that kind may not be ill adapted. After this admission you may
perhaps consider it no great comphment when I add that your
own was the only sterling article, and gave great satisfaction to
our Scotch readers, being in fact written with that elegance and
simplicity which Scotchmen can admire without being able to

From your letter to Mr. Blackwood, I am not without hopes of
hearing from you in a few days at greater length, and be assured
that you will have no occasion to regret any freedom of com-
munication with me on any subject that may be interesting
to you.

I have just to add that I am very anxious to have a full account
of these three Lectures of Coleridge's that treat of the Drama, if
no other ; and as Kean is to perform here in Passion week, a
striking Essay ^ on his Genius and mode of acting in his powerful
characters would I think be a popular article in Scotland at least,
for our March Number.

I am, Sir

Yours with respect

The Editor of

Blackwood's Magazine.

The following letter is of interest as it shows that P. G.
Patmore's work, " Letters on England " (published by Col-
burn in 1823) "by Victor, Count de Soligny," was written,

^ Note by P. G. P. It was in reply to this that the Essay was written
which is noticed in the last No. of the Mag. (Dec, 1824), see the "Noctes


at least in part, in 1818. The most valuable portion of this
work is undoubtedly the appreciations of " Living English
Poets." The poets criticised are Wordsworth, Byron,
Southey, Moore, Campbell, Scott, Coleridge, Wilson, Crabbe,
Shelley, Leigh Hunt, and Barry Cornwall. It is curious
that Shelley is included in the list, and Keats omitted.
Keats died in 1821 and Shelley in 1822. Probably both
had been originally included, and the critique on Keats
omitted upon his death, while in July, 1822, the work may
have been too far advanced for the essay on Shelley to be
cut out. That on Keats very probably reappeared later in
the " London Magazine." This paper was generally
attributed to Hazlitt, whose style it more or less reproduces,
but Coventry Patmore, probably with good reason, assigns
it to his father.^ There is not, in any of these critiques,
the slightest indication of a French point of view: indeed,
the disguise is throughout the whole book of the flimsiest

Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 36)