[ William Moncrieff, English dramatist. ] Autograph Letter Signed ('W. Moncrieff'), justifying his biographical treatment of R. W. Elliston [ in his 'Ellistoniana', New Monthly Magazine ], with reference to Charles Lamb.

William Moncrieff [ William Gibbs Thomas Moncrieff; W. T. Moncrieff ] (1794-1857), English playwright and theatre manager [ Robert William Elliston (1774-1831), actor and theatre manager ]
Publication details: 
4 Cowley Street, Westminster Abbey. 1 February 1843.
SKU: 20237

4pp., 12mo. Bifolium. In fair condition, on aged and worn paper. The letter is addressed to 'My dear Sir' and the recipient is not identified. He begins by thanking him for his 'kind attention': 'I had got the information about Gattie, though I dont think I shall want it.' He is surprised the recipient 'never heard Mr Elliston mention The King of the Sheffield Gallery'. He continues: 'I am sorry my Anecdotes do not appear to please you, there is one thing however which must please you, which is, that finding them so incorrect &c you had nothing to do with them'. The anecdotes had 'nothing to do with any of Mr Elliston's private transactions relating in any way to his family or domestic history', but were 'literally theatrical stories […] not suited for any biography'. He is surprised by the recipient's view that he does not 'display my usual liberality and good taste – I tell nothing that can cast a reproach upon Mr Ellistons memory, or impeach his morality – nothing at all that relates to his family or his private transactions'. He has 'merely endeavoured to show he was not an habitual Drunkard, Gambler or Trickster, as some pretended anecdotes in the Sunday Times in the past four months went to prove him'. He has 'entirely […] not made him a Saint or a Teetotaler. They would not be Anecdotes of Elliston that did that[.] I shew him to be a fellow of infinite fancy, talent and good humour. None but the most fastidious can I think reasonably take offence at any thing I have said, especially his family, for all of whom, as well as for Mr E himself I have the highest respect and regard'. He continues in the same vein, justifying himself and his aim in writing: to prevent 'such a man' from going 'into oblivion'. 'I merely do, what Charles Lamb did before me, and in quite as good natured a spirit though he chiefly confined himself to Elliston's extreme egotism'. He asks for information regarding 'the principal Characters in the Coronation': 'Perhaps I may be able to find a Bill among my papers, if not, perhaps you'll be good enough […] to turn to the Garrick File for me'. According to Moncrieff's entry in the Oxford DNB, by 1842 he was 'a widower, with no living children, and he expressed his despair now that 'the cold gloom of poverty is added to the darkness that half shuts out life' (Royal Literary Fund archive, letter, 5 April). However, he completed a twelve-part series on his old employer Elliston (Ellistoniana, New Monthly Magazine, 1843)'.