Lord Portishead

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Lord Portishead is the title of John Waterbury, a wealthy nobleman and an enthusiast for magic. When Gilbert Norrell rose to fame Lord Portishead had been a theoretical magician for some years; but on hearing that Mr Norrell did not approve of theoretical magicians Lord Portishead, whose temper is remarkably modest and pliant, voluntarily abandoned his studies. Largely by the agency of Henry Lascelles however Lord Portishead was invited to Hanover-square and introduced to Mr Norrell, who was so favourably impressed by him that he advised he should not only resume the study of magic but also to become editor of a periodical about to be launched under Mr Norrell's patronage, The Friends of English Magic[12]. To this Lord Portishead instantly agreed.

Lord Portishead was already the author of three books on English magic when he met Mr Norrell - The Life of Jacques Belasis (1801), The Life of Nicholas Goubert(1805) and A Child's History of the Raven King (1807) - but from from 1808 to 1810 he selflessly gave his literary talents to the promoting of Mr Norrell's views on magic, when he was sole editor of The Friends of English Magic. He also wrote the Essay on the Extraordinary Revival of English Magic, &c (1814), which Jonathan Strange reviewed unfavourably in the The Edinburgh Review [37, 38]. Thereafter he shared the editorship with Henry Lascelles, until Mr Norrell's actions in suppressing Strange's book The History and Practice of English Magic led to a rift between his lordship and Mr Norrell. His lordship was not only a loyal friend but a man of the highest principle: in August 1816 he resigned his editorship of the journal and cancelled his subscription [50].

In appearance his lordship was tall, slender in figure, and commonly wore clothes of a lightish colour. He was married and the father of ten children, in whose company he delighted and whose innocent romps he was always glad to further. He was a clever man, but chose not to demonstrate his cleverness in witty speeches before company: he was essentially a man of domestic habits, most happy when in the bosom of his family[12].