" THE CAVALIER AND HIS LADY."
[TO THE EDITOR OF THE " SPROTATOILl
SIR,—As your review of "The Cavalier and his Lady" seems to- me unfair, I ask your leave candidly to give my grounds for thinking so. I do not for a moment intend to cross swords with you—if, indeed, it be not a freedom to hint at anything so pre- posterous—about the merit or the genius exhibited in the extracts from various works of the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, which I have entitled " The Cavalier and his Lady." As good or better critics than the writer of this notice have agreed and disagreed with him. I, who do not claim to be a critic,—God forbid l—but can humbly appreciate such quaint, gentle, pretty fancies as won the admiration of men like Coleridge and Charles Lamb, happen also to disagree with him. I really do not see how the issue can be determined, except by people who will read both my book and your notice, and to them I leave it.
There are some people who will read and enjoy your remarks without looking at the book, and may believe you incapable of misrepresentation, or even mistake. It is to put myself right with these readers that I make the following corrections :— 1. Your imputation that I have " performed my duty in a perfunctory manner" is not true ; and I use that term in its strongest sense, because to anyone who knew anything of the books from which the extracts were made, the book is evidence to the contrary. I compiled it eight years ago, and gave to it three months of honest work off and on at the British Museum, in addition to all I had procured and read of my authors before. Everything known to your critic or knowable to anyone about the noble pair, I believe I had col- lated. Recently, when passing the book through the press, I again ransacked the Museum, to add, if possible, to my informa- tion. The introductory essay, good, bad, or indifferent, was rewritten five times with my own band. This is an imputation that cuts deeply, and that I never expected would be thrown at me in the Spectator. What if I were to remark that the criticism is perfunctory? that no grounds are shown for your contempt of the Duchess's poetry ? and that it was cheaper and easier to fill up your columns with second-hand criticisms and damaging extracts from the familiar pages of Evelyn andPepys, than to give- good reasons of your own ?
2. Your critic has mistaken the nature of my " admiration "for the Duke and Duchess. He says I put her forward as "the type and representative " of a Cavalier's wife, when I do not. The title, extracted by my publisher from the first page of my essay, struck me as quaint and opportune, but certainly does not com- mit me to an apotheosis of the subjects. Worse than all, I am. accused of " being blinded to the sins and errors of the Cavalier cause," because, forsooth ! I do not make of a literary essay a political disquisition. I abstained, with the greatest care, from ex- pressing any opinion one way or the other on political matters, proposing simply to give enough of the private life of the New- castles to introduce the reader to their writings. Your critic says he is astonished to find " au iconoclast [a name I disown] on the side of flattery against common-sense !" To prove this, he
picks out a solitary exaggeration, aimed at that savage, Walpole, from a whole page of half-humorous and ironical approbation. I cannot, on re-reading pp. 22-24 of the essay, discharge the critic from unfairness on this point.—I am, Sir, &c., [Mr. Jenkins does not seem to see that, if he collated every- thing, and omitted the unfavourable accounts of Pepys, Evelyn, &c., he has been unfair, which is worse than being perfunctory ; or that their accounts, withheld by him if known, are much of the foundation of our opinion. The title of the " Cavalier and his Lady," whether chosen by Mr. Jenkins or his publisher, must mean that the Duke amd Duchess are presented as representative man and wife of the Cavalier party. We remain of opinion that Mr. Jenkins's fancy for the Duchess is a craze, and that his com- parison of his poetry with Milton's shows the height of his delusion and the factitiousness of this "minor literary production."— ED. Spectator.]