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Title: Lady Byron Vindicated - A history of the Byron controversy from its beginning in 1816 to the present time
Author: Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A history of the Byron Controversy from its beginning in 1816 to the
present time.


The subject of this volume is of such painful notoriety that any apology
from the Publishers may seem unnecessary upon issuing the Author's reply
to the counter statements which her narrative in Macmillan's Magazine has
called forth.  Nevertheless they consider it right to state that their
strong regard for the Author, respect for her motives, and assurance of
her truthfulness, would, even in the absence of all other considerations,
be sufficient to induce them to place their imprint on the title-page.

The publication has been undertaken by them at the Author's request, 'as
her friends,' and as the publishers of her former works, and from a
feeling that whatever difference of opinion may be entertained respecting
the Author's judiciousness in publishing 'The True Story,' she is
entitled to defend it, having been treated with grave injustice, and
often with much maliciousness, by her critics and opponents, and been
charged with motives from which no person living is more free.  An
intense love of justice and hatred of oppression, with an utter disregard
of her own interests, characterise Mrs. Stowe's conduct and writings, as
all who know her well will testify; and the Publishers can unhesitatingly
affirm their belief that neither fear for loss of her literary fame, nor
hope of gain, has for one moment influenced her in the course she has

                                    LONDON: January 1870.










The interval since my publication of 'The True Story of Lady Byron's
Life' has been one of stormy discussion and of much invective.

I have not thought it necessary to disturb my spirit and confuse my sense
of right by even an attempt at reading the many abusive articles that
both here and in England have followed that disclosure.  Friends have
undertaken the task for me, giving me from time to time the substance of
anything really worthy of attention which came to view in the tumult.

It appeared to me essential that this first excitement should in a
measure spend itself before there would be a possibility of speaking to
any purpose.  Now, when all would seem to have spoken who can speak, and,
it is to be hoped, have said the utmost they can say, there seems a
propriety in listening calmly, if that be possible, to what I have to say
in reply.

And, first, why have I made this disclosure at all?

_To this I answer briefly, Because I considered it my duty to make it_.

I made it in defence of a beloved, revered friend, whose memory stood
forth in the eyes of the civilised world charged with most repulsive
crimes, of which I _certainly_ knew her innocent.

I claim, and shall prove, that Lady Byron's reputation has been the
victim of a concerted attack, begun by her husband during her lifetime,
and coming to its climax over her grave.  I claim, and shall prove, that
it was not I who stirred up this controversy in this year 1869.  I shall
show _who did do it_, and who is responsible for bringing on me that hard
duty of making these disclosures, which it appears to me ought to have
been made by others.

I claim that these facts were given to me unguarded by any promise or
seal of secrecy, expressed or implied; that they were lodged with me as
one sister rests her story with another for sympathy, for counsel, for
defence.  _Never_ did I suppose the day would come that I should be
subjected to so cruel an anguish as this use of them has been to me.
Never did I suppose that,--when those kind hands, that had shed nothing
but blessings, were lying in the helplessness of death, when that gentle
heart, so sorely tried and to the last so full of love, was lying cold in
the tomb,--a countryman in England could be found to cast the foulest
slanders on her grave, and not one in all England to raise an effective
voice in her defence.

I admit the feebleness of my plea, in point of execution.  It was written
in a state of exhausted health, when no labour of the kind was safe for
me,--when my hand had not strength to hold the pen, and I was forced to
dictate to another.

I have been told that I have no reason to congratulate myself on it as a
literary effort.  O my brothers and sisters! is there then nothing in the
world to think of but literary efforts?  I ask any man with a heart in
his bosom, if he had been obliged to tell a story so cruel, because his
mother's grave gave no rest from slander,--I ask any woman who had been
forced to such a disclosure to free a dead sister's name from grossest
insults, whether she would have thought of making this work of bitterness
a literary success?

Are the cries of the oppressed, the gasps of the dying, the last prayers
of mothers,--are _any_ words wrung like drops of blood from the human
heart to be judged as literary efforts?

My fellow-countrymen of America, men of the press, I have done you one
act of justice,--of all your bitter articles, I have read not one.  I
shall never be troubled in the future time by the remembrance of any
unkind word you have said of me, for at this moment I recollect not one.
I had such faith in you, such pride in my countrymen, as men with whom,
above all others, the cause of woman was safe and sacred, that I was at
first astonished and incredulous at what I heard of the course of the
American press, and was silent, not merely from the impossibility of
being heard, but from grief and shame.  But reflection convinces me that
you were, in many cases, acting from a misunderstanding of facts and
through misguided honourable feeling; and I still feel courage,
therefore, to ask from you a fair hearing.  Now, as I have done you this
justice, will you also do me the justice to hear me seriously and

What interest have you or I, my brother and my sister, in this short life
of ours, to utter anything but the truth?  Is not truth between man and
man and between man and woman the foundation on which all things rest?
Have you not, every individual of you, who must hereafter give an account
yourself alone to God, an interest to know the exact truth in this
matter, and a duty to perform as respects that truth?  Hear me, then,
while I tell you the position in which I stood, and what was my course in
relation to it.

A shameless attack on my friend's memory had appeared in the 'Blackwood'
of July 1869, branding Lady Byron as the vilest of criminals, and
recommending the Guiccioli book to a Christian public as interesting from
the very fact that it was the avowed production of Lord Byron's mistress.
No efficient protest was made against this outrage in England, and
Littell's 'Living Age' reprinted the 'Blackwood' article, and the
Harpers, the largest publishing house in America, perhaps in the world,
re-published the book.

Its statements--with those of the 'Blackwood,' 'Pall Mall Gazette,' and
other English periodicals--were being propagated through all the young
reading and writing world of America.  I was meeting them advertised in
dailies, and made up into articles in magazines, and thus the generation
of to-day, who had no means of judging Lady Byron but by these fables of
her slanderers, were being foully deceived.  The friends who knew her
personally were a small select circle in England, whom death is every day
reducing.  They were few in number compared with the great world, and
were _silent_.  I saw these foul slanders crystallising into history
uncontradicted by friends who knew her personally, who, firm in their own
knowledge of her virtues and limited in view as aristocratic circles
generally are, had no idea of the width of the world they were living in,
and the exigency of the crisis.  When time passed on and no voice was
raised, I spoke.  I gave at first a simple story, for I knew
instinctively that whoever put the first steel point of truth into this
dark cloud of slander must wait for the storm to spend itself.  I must
say the storm exceeded my expectations, and has raged loud and long.  But
now that there is a comparative stillness I shall proceed, first, to
prove what I have just been asserting, and, second, to add to my true
story such facts and incidents as I did not think proper at first to


In proving what I asserted in the first chapter, I make four points:

1st.  A concerted attack upon Lady Byron's reputation, begun by Lord
Byron in self-defence.

2nd.  That he transmitted his story to friends to be continued after his

3rd.  That they did so continue it.

4th.  That the accusations reached their climax over Lady Byron's grave
in 'Blackwood' of 1869, and the Guiccioli book, and that this re-opening
of the controversy was my reason for speaking.

And first I shall adduce my proofs that Lady Byron's reputation was,
during the whole course of her husband's life, the subject of a
concentrated, artfully planned attack, commencing at the time of the
separation and continuing during his life.  By various documents
carefully prepared, and used publicly or secretly as suited the case, he
made converts of many honest men, some of whom were writers and men of
letters, who put their talents at his service during his lifetime in
exciting sympathy for him, and who, by his own request, felt bound to
continue their defence of him after he was dead.

In order to consider the force and significance of the documents I shall
cite, we are to bring to our view just the issues Lord Byron had to meet,
both at the time of the separation and for a long time after.

In Byron's 'Memoirs,' Vol. IV. Letter 350, under date December 10, 1819,
nearly four years after the separation, he writes to Murray in a state of
great excitement on account of an article in 'Blackwood,' in which his
conduct towards his wife had been sternly and justly commented on, and
which he supposed to have been written by Wilson, of the 'Noctes
Ambrosianae.'  He says in this letter: 'I like and admire W---n, and he
should not have indulged himself in such outrageous license. . . . .  When
he talks of Lady Byron's business he talks of what he knows nothing
about; and you may tell him _no man can desire a public investigation of
that affair more than I do_.' {7}

He shortly after wrote and sent to Murray a pamphlet for publication,
which was printed, but not generally circulated till some time
afterwards.  Though more than three years had elapsed since the
separation, the current against him at this time was so strong in England
that his friends thought it best, at first, to use this article of Lord
Byron's discreetly with influential persons rather than to give it to the

The writer in 'Blackwood' and the indignation of the English public, of
which that writer was the voice, were now particularly stirred up by the
appearance of the first two cantos of 'Don Juan,' in which the indecent
caricature of Lady Byron was placed in vicinity with other indecencies,
the publication of which was justly considered an insult to a Christian

It must here be mentioned, for the honour of Old England, that at first
she did her duty quite respectably in regard to 'Don Juan.'  One can
still read, in Murray's standard edition of the poems, how every
respectable press thundered reprobations, which it would be well enough
to print and circulate as tracts for our days.

Byron, it seems, had thought of returning to England, but he says, in the
letter we have quoted, that he has changed his mind, and shall not go
back, adding 'I have finished the Third Canto of "Don Juan," but the
things I have heard and read discourage all future publication.  You may
try the copy question, but you'll lose it; the cry is up, and the cant is
up.  I should have no objection to return the price of the copyright, and
have written to Mr. Kinnaird on this subject.'

One sentence quoted by Lord Byron from the 'Blackwood' article will show
the modern readers what the respectable world of that day were thinking
and saying of him:--

   'It appears, in short, as if this miserable man, having exhausted
   _every species_ of sensual gratification--having drained the cup of
   sin even to its bitterest dregs--were resolved to show us that he is
   no longer a human being even in his frailties, but a cool, unconcerned
   fiend, laughing with detestable glee over the whole of the better and
   worse elements of which human life is composed.'

The defence which Lord Byron makes, in his reply to that paper, is of a
man cornered and fighting for his life.  He speaks thus of the state of
feeling at the time of his separation from his wife:--

   'I was accused of every monstrous vice by public rumour and private
   rancour; my name, which had been a knightly or a noble one since my
   fathers helped to conquer the kingdom for William the Norman, was
   tainted.  I felt that, if what was whispered and muttered and murmured
   was true, I was unfit for England; if false, England was unfit for me.
   I withdrew; but this was not enough.  In other countries--in
   Switzerland, in the shadow of the Alps, and by the blue depth of the
   lakes--I was pursued and breathed upon by the same blight.  I crossed
   the mountains, but it was the same; so I went a little farther, and
   settled myself by the waves of the Adriatic, like the stag at bay, who
   betakes him to the waters.

   'If I may judge by the statements of the few friends who gathered
   round me, the outcry of the period to which I allude was beyond all
   precedent, all parallel, even in those cases where political motives
   have sharpened slander and doubled enmity.  I was advised not to go to
   the theatres lest I should be hissed, nor to my duty in parliament
   lest I should be insulted by the way; even on the day of my departure
   my most intimate friend told me afterwards that he was under the
   apprehension of violence from the people who might be assembled at the
   door of the carriage.'

Now Lord Byron's charge against his wife was that SHE was directly
responsible for getting up and keeping up this persecution, which drove
him from England,--that she did it in a deceitful, treacherous manner,
which left him no chance of defending himself.

He charged against her that, taking advantage of a time when his affairs
were in confusion, and an execution in the house, she left him suddenly,
with treacherous professions of kindness, which were repeated by letters
on the road, and that soon after her arrival at her home her parents sent
him word that she would never return to him, and she confirmed the
message; that when he asked the reason why, she refused to state any; and
that when this step gave rise to a host of slanders against him she
silently encouraged and confirmed the slanders.  His claim was that he
was denied from that time forth even the justice of any tangible
accusation against himself which he might meet and refute.

He observes, in the same article from which we have quoted:--

   'When one tells me that I cannot "in any way _justify_ my own
   behaviour in that affair," I acquiesce, because no man can "_justify_"
   himself until he knows of what he is accused; and I have never
   had--and, God knows, my whole desire has ever been to obtain it--any
   specific charge, in a tangible shape, submitted to me by the
   adversary, nor by others, unless the atrocities of public rumour and
   the mysterious silence of the lady's legal advisers may be deemed

Lord Byron, his publishers, friends, and biographers, thus agree in
representing his wife as the secret author and abettor of that
persecution, which it is claimed broke up his life, and was the source of
all his subsequent crimes and excesses.

Lord Byron wrote a poem in September 1816, in Switzerland, just after the
separation, in which he stated, in so many words, these accusations
against his wife.  Shortly after the poet's death Murray published this
poem, together with the 'Fare thee well,' and the lines to his sister,
under the title of 'Domestic Pieces,' in his standard edition of Byron's
poetry.  It is to be remarked, then, that this was for some time a
private document, shown to confidential friends, and made use of
judiciously, as readers or listeners to his story were able to bear it.
Lady Byron then had a strong party in England.  Sir Samuel Romilly and
Dr. Lushington were her counsel.  Lady Byron's parents were living, and
the appearance in the public prints of such a piece as this would have
brought down an aggravated storm of public indignation.

For the general public such documents as the 'Fare thee well' were
circulating in England, and he frankly confessed his wife's virtues and
his own sins to Madame de Stael and others in Switzerland, declaring
himself in the wrong, sensible of his errors, and longing to cast himself
at the feet of that serene perfection,

   'Which wanted one sweet weakness--to forgive.'

But a little later he drew for his private partisans this bitter poetical
indictment against her, which, as we have said, was used discreetly
during his life, and published after his death.

Before we proceed to lay that poem before the reader we will refresh his
memory with some particulars of the tragedy of AEschylus, which Lord
Byron selected as the exact parallel and proper illustration of his
wife's treatment of himself.  In his letters and journals he often
alludes to her as Clytemnestra, and the allusion has run the round of a
thousand American papers lately, and been read by a thousand good honest
people, who had no very clear idea who Clytemnestra was, and what she did
which was like the proceedings of Lady Byron.  According to the tragedy,
Clytemnestra secretly hates her husband Agamemnon, whom she professes to
love, and wishes to put him out of the way that she may marry her lover,
AEgistheus.  When her husband returns from the Trojan war she receives
him with pretended kindness, and officiously offers to serve him at the
bath.  Inducing him to put on a garment, of which she had adroitly sewed
up the sleeves and neck so as to hamper the use of his arms, she gives
the signal to a concealed band of assassins, who rush upon him and stab
him.  Clytemnestra is represented by AEschylus as grimly triumphing in
her success, which leaves her free to marry an adulterous paramour.

   'I did it, too, in such a cunning wise,
   That he could neither 'scape nor ward off doom.
   I staked around his steps an endless net,
   As for the fishes.'

In the piece entitled 'Lines on hearing Lady Byron is ill,' Lord Byron
charges on his wife a similar treachery and cruelty.  The whole poem is
in Murray's English edition, Vol. IV. p. 207.  Of it we quote the
following.  The reader will bear in mind that it is addressed to Lady
Byron on a sick-bed:--

   'I am too well avenged, but 't was my right;
   Whate'er my sins might be, _thou_ wert not sent
   To be the Nemesis that should requite,
   Nor did Heaven choose so near an instrument.
   Mercy is for the merciful!  If thou
   Hast been of such, 't will be accorded now.
   Thy nights are banished from the realms of sleep,
   For thou art pillowed on a curse too deep;
   Yes! they may flatter thee, but thou shalt feel
   A hollow agony that will not heal.
   Thou hast sown in my sorrow, and must reap
   The bitter harvest in a woe as real.
   _I have had many foes, but none like thee_;
   For 'gainst the rest myself I could defend,
   And be avenged, or turn them into friend;
   But thou, in safe implacability,
   Hast naught to dread,--in thy own weakness shielded,
   And in my love, which hath but too much yielded,
   And spared, for thy sake, some I should not spare.
   And thus upon the world, trust in thy truth,
   And the wild fame of my ungoverned youth,--
   On things that were not and on things that are,--
   Even upon such a basis thou halt built
   A monument whose cement hath been guilt!
   The moral Clytemnestra of thy lord,
   And hewed down with an unsuspected sword
   Fame, peace, and hope, and all that better life
   Which, but for this cold treason of thy heart,
   Might yet have risen from the grave of strife
   And found a nobler duty than to part.
   But of thy virtues thou didst make a vice,
   Trafficking in them with a purpose cold,
   And buying others' woes at any price,
   For present anger and for future gold;
   And thus, once entered into crooked ways,
   The early truth, that was thy proper praise,
   Did not still walk beside thee, but at times,
   And with a breast unknowing its own crimes,
   Deceits, averments incompatible,
   Equivocations, and the thoughts that dwell
   _In Janus spirits, the significant eye
   That learns to lie with silence_, {14} the pretext
   Of prudence with advantages annexed,
   The acquiescence in all things that tend,
   No matter how, to the desired end,--
   All found a place in thy philosophy.
   The means were worthy and the end is won.
   I would not do to thee as thou hast done.'

Now, if this language means anything, it means, in plain terms, that,
whereas, in her early days, Lady Byron was peculiarly characterised by
truthfulness, she has in her recent dealings with him acted the part of a
liar,--that she is not only a liar, but that she lies for cruel means and
malignant purposes,--that she is a moral assassin, and her treatment of
her husband has been like that of the most detestable murderess and
adulteress of ancient history, that she has learned to lie skilfully and
artfully, that she equivocates, says incompatible things, and crosses her
own tracks,--that she is double-faced, and has the art to lie even by
silence, and that she has become wholly unscrupulous, and acquiesces in
_any_thing, no matter what, that tends to the desired end, and that end
the destruction of her husband.  This is a brief summary of the story
that Byron made it his life's business to spread through society, to
propagate and make converts to during his life, and which has been in
substance reasserted by 'Blackwood' in a recent article this year.

Now, the reader will please to notice that this poem is dated in
September 1816, and that on the 29th of March of that same year, he had
thought proper to tell quite another story.  At that time the deed of
separation was not signed, and negotiations between Lady Byron, acting by
legal counsel, and himself were still pending.  At that time, therefore,
he was standing in a community who knew all he had said in former days of
his wife's character, who were in an aroused and excited state by the
fact that so lovely and good and patient a woman had actually been forced
for some unexplained cause to leave him.  His policy at that time was to
make large general confessions of sin, and to praise and compliment her,
with a view of enlisting sympathy.  Everybody feels for a handsome
sinner, weeping on his knees, asking pardon for his offences against his
wife in the public newspapers.

The celebrated 'Fare thee well,' as we are told, was written on the 17th
of March, and accidentally found its way into the newspapers at this time
'through the imprudence of a friend whom he allowed to take a copy.'
These 'imprudent friends' have all along been such a marvellous
convenience to Lord Byron.

But the question met him on all sides, What is the matter?  This wife you
have declared the brightest, sweetest, most amiable of beings, and
against whose behaviour as a wife you actually never had nor can have a
complaint to make,--why is she _now_ all of a sudden so inflexibly set
against you?

This question required an answer, and he answered by writing another
poem, which also _accidentally_ found its way into the public prints.  It
is in his 'Domestic Pieces,' which the reader may refer to at the end of
this volume, and is called 'A Sketch.'

There was a most excellent, respectable, well-behaved Englishwoman, a
Mrs. Clermont, {16} who had been Lady Byron's governess in her youth, and
was still, in mature life, revered as her confidential friend.  It
appears that this person had been with Lady Byron during a part of her
married life, especially the bitter hours of her lonely child-bed, when a
young wife so much needs a sympathetic friend.  This Mrs. Clermont was
the person selected by Lord Byron at this time to be the scapegoat to
bear away the difficulties of the case into the wilderness.

We are informed in Moore's Life what a noble pride of rank Lord Byron
possessed, and how when the headmaster of a school, against whom he had a
pique, invited him to dinner, he declined, saying, 'To tell you the
truth, Doctor, if you should come to Newstead, I shouldn't think of
inviting _you_ to dine with _me_, and so I don't care to dine with you
here.'  Different countries, it appears, have different standards as to
good taste; Moore gives this as an amusing instance of a young lord's

Accordingly, his first attack against this 'lady,' as we Americans should
call her, consists in gross statements concerning her having been born
poor and in an inferior rank.  He begins by stating that she was

   'Born in the garret, in the kitchen bred,
   Promoted thence to deck her mistress' head;
   Next--for some gracious service unexpressed
   And from its wages only to be guessed--
   Raised from the toilet to the table, where
   Her wondering betters wait behind her chair.
   With eye unmoved and forehead unabashed,
   She dines from off the plate she lately washed:
   Quick with the tale, and ready with the lie,
   The genial confidante and general spy,--
   Who could, ye gods! her next employment guess,--
   An _only infant's earliest governess_!
   What had she made the pupil of her art
   None knows; _but that high soul secured the heart,
   And panted for the truth it could not hear
   With longing soul and undeluded ear_!' {17}

The poet here recognises as a singular trait in Lady Byron her peculiar
love of truth,--a trait which must have struck everyone that had any
knowledge of her through life.  He goes on now to give what he certainly
knew to be the real character of Lady Byron:--

   'Foiled was perversion by that youthful mind,
   Which flattery fooled not, baseness could not blind,
   _Deceit infect_ not, nor contagion soil,
   Indulgence weaken, or example spoil,
   Nor mastered science tempt her to look down
   On humbler talent with a pitying frown,
   Nor genius swell, nor beauty render vain,
   Nor envy ruffle to retaliate pain.'

We are now informed that Mrs. Clermont, whom he afterwards says in his
letters was a spy of Lady Byron's mother, set herself to make mischief
between them.  He says:--

   'If early habits,--those strong links that bind
    At times the loftiest to the meanest mind,
    Have given her power too deeply to instil
    The angry essence of her deadly will;
    If like a snake she steal within your walls,
    Till the black slime betray her as she crawls;
    If like a viper to the heart she wind,
    And leaves the venom there she did not find,--
    What marvel that this hag of hatred works
    Eternal evil latent as she lurks.'

The noble lord then proceeds to abuse this woman of inferior rank in the
language of the upper circles.  He thus describes her person and manner:--

   'Skilled by a touch to deepen scandal's tints
    With all the kind mendacity of hints,
    While mingling truth with falsehood, sneers with smiles,
    A thread of candour with a web of wiles;
    A plain blunt show of briefly-spoken seeming,
    To hide her bloodless heart's soul-harden'd scheming;
    A lip of lies; a face formed to conceal,
    And without feeling mock at all who feel;
    With a vile mask the Gorgon would disown,--
    A cheek of parchment and an eye of stone.
    Mark how the channels of her yellow blood
    Ooze to her skin and stagnate there to mud,
    Cased like the centipede in saffron mail,
    Or darker greenness of the scorpion's scale,--
    (For drawn from reptiles only may we trace
    Congenial colours in that soul or face,)
    Look on her features! and behold her mind
    As in a mirror of itself defined:
    Look on the picture! deem it not o'ercharged
    There is no trait which might not be enlarged.'

The poem thus ends:--

   'May the strong curse of crushed affections light
   Back on thy bosom with reflected blight,
   And make thee in thy leprosy of mind
   As loathsome to thyself as to mankind!
   Till all thy self-thoughts curdle into hate,
   Black--as thy will for others would create;
   Till thy hard heart be calcined into dust,
   And thy soul welter in its hideous crust.
   O, may thy grave be sleepless as the bed,
   The widowed couch of fire, that thou hast spread
   Then when thou fain wouldst weary Heaven with prayer,
   Look on thy earthly victims--and despair!
   Down to the dust! and as thou rott'st away,
   Even worms shall perish on thy poisonous clay.
   _But for the love I bore and still must bear_
   To her thy malice from all ties would tear,
   Thy name,--thy human name,--to every eye
   The climax of all scorn, should hang on high,
   Exalted o'er thy less abhorred compeers,
   And festering in the infamy of years.'
      March 16, 1816.

Now, on the 29th of March 1816, this was Lord Byron's story.  He states
that his wife had a truthfulness even from early girlhood that the most
artful and unscrupulous governess could not pollute,--that she always
_panted_ for truth,--that flattery could not fool nor baseness blind
her,--that though she was a genius and master of science, she was yet
gentle and tolerant, and one whom no envy could ruffle to retaliate pain.

In September of the same year she is a monster of unscrupulous deceit and
vindictive cruelty.  Now, what had happened in the five months between
the dates of these poems to produce such a change of opinion?  Simply

1st.  The negotiation between him and his wife's lawyers had ended in his
signing a deed of separation in preference to standing a suit for

2nd.  Madame de Stael, moved by his tears of anguish and professions of
repentance, had offered to negotiate with Lady Byron on his behalf, and
had failed.

The failure of this application is the only apology given by Moore and
Murray for this poem, which gentle Thomas Moore admits was not in quite
as generous a strain as the 'Fare thee well.'

But Lord Byron knew perfectly well, when he suffered that application to
be made, that Lady Byron had been entirely convinced that her marriage
relations with him could never be renewed, and that duty both to man and
God required her to separate from him.  The allowing the negotiation was,
therefore, an artifice to place his wife before the public in the
attitude of a hard-hearted, inflexible woman; her refusal was what he
knew beforehand must inevitably be the result, and merely gave him
capital in the sympathy of his friends, by which they should be brought
to tolerate and accept the bitter accusations of this poem.

We have recently heard it asserted that this last-named piece of poetry
was the sudden offspring of a fit of ill-temper, and was never intended
to be published at all.  There were certainly excellent reasons why his
friends should have advised him not to publish it _at that time_.  But
that it was read with sympathy by the circle of his intimate friends, and
believed by them, is evident from the frequency with which allusions to
it occur in his confidential letters to them. {21}

About three months after, under date March 10, 1817, he writes to Moore:
'I suppose now I shall never be able to shake off my sables in public
imagination, more particularly since my moral ----- clove down my fame.'
Again to Murray in 1819, three years after, he says: 'I never hear
anything of Ada, the little Electra of Mycenae.'

Electra was the daughter of Clytemnestra, in the Greek poem, who lived to
condemn her wicked mother, and to call on her brother to avenge the
father.  There was in this mention of Electra more than meets the ear.
Many passages in Lord Byron's poetry show that he intended to make this
daughter a future partisan against her mother, and explain the awful
words he is stated in Lady Anne Barnard's diary to have used when first
he looked on his little girl,--'What an instrument of torture I have
gained in you!'

In a letter to Lord Blessington, April 6, 1823, he says, speaking of Dr.
Parr:-- {22a}

   'He did me the honour once to be a patron of mine, though a great
   friend of the _other branch of the house of Atreus_, and the Greek
   teacher, I believe, of my _moral_ Clytemnestra.  I say _moral_ because
   it is true, and is so useful to the virtuous, that it enables them to
   do anything without the aid of an AEgistheus.'

If Lord Byron wrote this poem merely in a momentary fit of spleen, why
were there so many persons evidently quite familiar with his allusions to
it? and why was it preserved in Murray's hands? and why published after
his death?  That Byron was in the habit of reposing documents in the
hands of Murray, to be used as occasion offered, is evident from a part
of a note written by him to Murray respecting some verses so intrusted:
'Pray let not these _versiculi_ go forth with my name except _to the
initiated_.' {22b}

Murray, in publishing this attack on his wife after Lord Byron's death,
showed that he believed in it, and, so believing, deemed Lady Byron a
woman whose widowed state deserved neither sympathy nor delicacy of
treatment.  At a time when every sentiment in the heart of the most
deeply wronged woman would forbid her appearing to justify herself from
such cruel slander of a dead husband, an honest, kind-hearted, worthy
Englishman actually thought it right and proper to give these lines to
her eyes and the eyes of all the reading world.  Nothing can show more
plainly what this poem was written for, and how thoroughly it did its
work!  Considering Byron as a wronged man, Murray thought he was
contributing his mite towards doing him justice.  His editor prefaced the
whole set of 'Domestic Pieces' with the following statements:--

   'They all refer to the unhappy separation, of which the precise causes
   are still a mystery, and which he declared to the last were never
   disclosed to himself.  He admitted that pecuniary embarrassments,
   disordered health, and dislike to family restraints had aggravated his
   naturally violent temper, and driven him to excesses.  He suspected
   that his mother-in-law had fomented the discord,--which Lady Byron
   denies,--and that more was due to the malignant offices of a female
   dependant, who is the subject of the bitterly satirical sketch.

   *          *          *          *

   'To these general statements can only be added the still vaguer
   allegations of Lady Byron, that she conceived his conduct to be the
   result of insanity,--that, the physician pronouncing him responsible
   for his actions, she could submit to them no longer, and that Dr.
   Lushington, her legal adviser, agreed that a reconciliation was
   neither proper nor possible.  _No weight can be attached to the
   opinions of an opposing counsel upon accusations made by one party
   behind the back of the other, who urgently demanded and was
   pertinaciously refused the least opportunity of denial or defence_.  He
   rejected the proposal for an amicable separation, but _consented when
   threatened with a suit in Doctors' Commons._' {23}

Neither John Murray nor any of Byron's partisans seem to have pondered
the admission in these last words.

Here, as appears, was a woman, driven to the last despair, standing with
her child in her arms, asking from English laws protection for herself
and child against her husband.

She had appealed to the first counsel in England, and was acting under
their direction.

Two of the greatest lawyers in England have pronounced that there has
been such a cause of offence on his part that a return to him is neither
proper nor possible, and that no alternative remains to her but
separation or divorce.

He asks her to state her charges against him.  She, making answer under
advice of her counsel, says, 'That if he _insists_ on the specifications,
he must receive them in open court in a suit for divorce.'

What, now, ought to have been the conduct of any brave, honest man, who
believed that his wife was taking advantage of her reputation for virtue
to turn every one against him, who saw that she had turned on her side
even the lawyer he sought to retain on his; {24} that she was an
unscrupulous woman, who acquiesced in every and any thing to gain her
ends, while he stood before the public, as he says, 'accused of every
monstrous vice, by public rumour or private rancour'?  When she, under
advice of her lawyers, made the alternative legal _separation_ or open
investigation in court for divorce, what did he do?


Now, let any man who knows the legal mind of England,--let any lawyer who
knows the character of Sir Samuel Romilly and Dr. Lushington, ask whether
_they_ were the men to take a case into court for a woman that had no
_evidence_ but her own statements and impressions?  Were _they_ men to go
to trial without proofs?  Did they not know that there were artful,
hysterical women in the world, and would _they_, of all people, be the
men to take a woman's story on her own side, and advise her in the last
issue to bring it into open court, without legal proof of the strongest
kind?  Now, as long as Sir Samuel Romilly lived, this statement of
Byron's--that he was condemned unheard, and had no chance of knowing
whereof he _was accused--never appeared in public_.

It, however, was most actively circulated in _private_.  That Byron was
in the habit of intrusting to different confidants articles of various
kinds to be shown to different circles as they could bear them, we have
already shown.  We have recently come upon another instance of this kind.
In the late eagerness to exculpate Byron, a new document has turned up,
of which Mr. Murray, it appears, had never heard when, after Byron's
death, he published in the preface to his 'Domestic Pieces' the sentence:
'_He rejected the proposal for an amicable separation, but consented when
threatened with a suit in Doctors' Commons_.'  It appears that, up to
1853, neither John Murray senior, nor the son who now fills his place,
had taken any notice of this newly found document, which we are now
informed was drawn up by Lord Byron in August 1817, while Mr. Hobhouse
was staying with him at La Mira, near Venice, given to Mr. Matthew
Gregory Lewis, _for circulation among friends in England_, found in Mr.
Lewis's papers after his death, and _now_ in the possession of Mr.
Murray.'  Here it is:--

   'It has been intimated to me that the persons understood to be the
   legal advisers of Lady Byron have declared "their lips to be sealed
   up" on the cause of the separation between her and myself.  If their
   lips are sealed up, they are not sealed up by me, and the greatest
   favour _they_ can confer upon me will be to open them.  From the first
   hour in which I was apprised of the intentions of the Noel family to
   the last communication between Lady Byron and myself in the character
   of wife and husband (a period of some months), I called repeatedly and
   in vain for a statement of their or her charges, and it was chiefly in
   consequence of Lady Byron's claiming (in a letter still existing) a
   promise on my part to consent to a separation, if such was _really_
   her wish, that I consented at all; this claim, and the exasperating
   and inexpiable manner in which their object was pursued, which
   rendered it next to an impossibility that two persons so divided could
   ever be reunited, induced me reluctantly then, and repentantly still,
   to sign the deed, which I shall be happy--most happy--to cancel, and
   go before any tribunal which may discuss the business in the most
   public manner.

   'Mr. Hobhouse made this proposition on my part, viz. to abrogate all
   prior intentions--and go into court--the very day before the
   separation was signed, and it was declined by the other party, as also
   the publication of the correspondence during the previous discussion.
   Those propositions I beg here to repeat, and to call upon her and hers
   to say their worst, pledging myself to meet their
   allegations,--whatever they may be,--and only too happy to be informed
   at last of their real nature.


   'August 9, 1817.

   'P.S.--I have been, and am now, utterly ignorant of what description
   her allegations, charges, or whatever name they may have assumed, are;
   and am as little aware for what purpose they have been kept
   back,--unless it was to sanction the most infamous calumnies by


   'La Mira, near Venice.'

It appears the circulation of this document must have been _very
private_, since Moore, not _over_-delicate towards Lady Byron, did not
think fit to print it; since John Murray neglected it, and since it has
come out at this late hour for the first time.

If Lord Byron really desired Lady Byron and her legal counsel to
understand the facts herein stated, and was willing at all hazards to
bring on an open examination, why was this _privately_ circulated?  Why
not issued as a card in the London papers?  Is it likely that Mr. Matthew
Gregory Lewis, and a chosen band of friends acting as a committee,
requested an audience with Lady Byron, Sir Samuel Romilly, and Dr.
Lushington, and formally presented this cartel of defiance?

We incline to think not.  We incline to think that this small serpent, in
company with many others of like kind, crawled secretly and privately
around, and when it found a good chance, bit an honest Briton, whose
blood was thenceforth poisoned by an undetected falsehood.

The reader now may turn to the letters that Mr. Moore has thought fit to
give us of this stay at La Mira, beginning with Letter 286, dated July 1,
1817, {28a} where he says: 'I have been working up my impressions into a
_Fourth_ Canto of Childe Harold,' and also 'Mr. Lewis is in Venice.  I am
going up to stay a week with him there.'

Next, under date La Mira, Venice, July 10, {28b} he says, 'Monk Lewis is
here; how pleasant!'

Next, under date July 20, 1817, to Mr. Murray: 'I write to give you
notice that I have _completed the fourth and ultimate canto of Childe
Harold_. . . .  It is yet to be copied and polished, and the notes are to

Under date of La Mira, August 7, 1817, he records that the new canto is
one hundred and thirty stanzas in length, and talks about the price for
it.  He is now ready to launch it on the world; and, as now appears, on
August 9, 1817, _two days after_, he wrote the document above cited, and
put it into the hands of Mr. Lewis, as we are informed, 'for circulation
among friends in England.'

The reason of this may now be evident.  Having prepared a suitable number
of those whom he calls in his notes to Murray 'the initiated,' by private
documents and statements, he is now prepared to publish his accusations
against his wife, and the story of his wrongs, in a great immortal poem,
which shall have a band of initiated interpreters, shall be read through
the civilised world, and stand to accuse her after his death.

In the Fourth Canto of 'Childe Harold,' with all his own overwhelming
power of language, he sets forth his cause as against the silent woman
who all this time had been making no party, and telling no story, and
whom the world would therefore conclude to be silent because she had no
answer to make.  I remember well the time when this poetry, so resounding
in its music, so mournful, so apparently generous, filled my heart with a
vague anguish of sorrow for the sufferer, and of indignation at the cold
insensibility that had maddened him.  Thousands have felt the power of
this great poem, which stands, and must stand to all time, a monument of
what sacred and solemn powers God gave to this wicked man, and how vilely
he abused this power as a weapon to slay the innocent.

It is among the ruins of ancient Rome that his voice breaks forth in
solemn imprecation:--

   'O Time, thou beautifier of the dead,
   Adorner of the ruin, comforter,
   And only healer when the heart hath bled!--
   Time, the corrector when our judgments err,
   The test of truth, love,--sole philosopher,
   For all besides are sophists,--from thy shrift
   That never loses, though it doth defer!--
   Time, the avenger! unto thee I lift
   My hands and heart and eyes, and claim of thee a gift.

   *          *          *          *

   'If thou hast ever seen me too elate,
   Hear me not; but if calmly I have borne
   Good, and reserved my pride against the hate
   Which shall not whelm me, _let me not have worn
   This iron in my soul in vain, shall_ THEY _not mourn_?
   And thou who never yet of human wrong
   Left the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis,
   Here where the ancients paid their worship long,
   Thou who didst call the Furies from the abyss,
   And round Orestes bid them howl and hiss
   _For that unnatural retribution,--just
   Had it but come from hands less near_,--in this
   Thy former realm I call thee from the dust.
   Dost thou not hear, my heart? awake thou shalt and must!
   It is not that I may not have incurred
   For my ancestral faults and mine, the wound
   Wherewith I bleed withal, and had it been conferred
   With a just weapon it had flowed unbound,
   But now my blood shall not sink in the ground.

   *          *          *          *

   'But in this page a record will I seek;
   Not in the air shall these my words disperse,
   Though I be ashes,--a far hour shall wreak
   The deep prophetic fulness of this verse,
   And pile on human heads the mountain of my curse.
   That curse shall be forgiveness.  Have I not,--
   Hear me, my Mother Earth! behold it, Heaven,--
   Have I not had to wrestle with my lot?
   Have I not suffered things to be forgiven?
   Have I not had my brain seared, my heart riven,
   Hopes sapped, name blighted, life's life lied away,
   And only not to desperation driven,
   Because not altogether of such clay
   As rots into the soul of those whom I survey?


   'From mighty wrongs to petty perfidy,
   Have I not seen what human things could do,--
   From the loud roar of foaming calumny,
   To the small whispers of the paltry few,
   And subtler venom of the reptile crew,
   _The Janus glance of whose significant eye,
   Learning to lie with silence, would seem true,
   And without utterance, save the shrug or sigh,
   Deal round to happy fools its speechless obloquy_?' {31}

The reader will please notice that the lines in italics are almost, word
for word, a repetition of the lines in italics in the former poem on his
wife, where he speaks of a _significant eye_ that has _learned to lie in
silence_, and were evidently meant to apply to Lady Byron and her small
circle of confidential friends.

Before this, in the Third Canto of 'Childe Harold,' he had claimed the
sympathy of the world, as a loving father, deprived by a severe fate of
the solace and society of his only child:--

   'My daughter,--with this name my song began,--
   My daughter,--with this name my song shall end,--
   I see thee not and hear thee not, but none
   Can be so wrapped in thee; thou art the friend
   To whom the shadows of far years extend.

   *          *          *          *

   'To aid thy mind's developments, to watch
   The dawn of little joys, to sit and see
   Almost thy very growth, to view thee catch
   Knowledge of objects,--wonders yet to thee,--
   And print on thy soft cheek a parent's kiss;--
   This it should seem was not reserved for me.
   Yet this was in my nature,--as it is,
   I know not what there is, yet something like to this.


   '_Yet though dull hate as duty should be taught_,
   I know that thou wilt love me; though my name
   Should be shut out from thee as spell still fraught
   With desolation and a broken claim,
   Though the grave close between us,--'t were the same
   I know that thou wilt love me, though to drain
   My blood from out thy being were an aim
   And an attainment,--all will be in vain.'

To all these charges against her, sent all over the world in verses as
eloquent as the English language is capable of, the wife replied nothing.

   'Assailed by slander and the tongue of strife,
   Her only answer was,--a blameless life.'

She had a few friends, a very few, with whom she sought solace and
sympathy.  One letter from her, written at this time, preserved by
accident, is the only authentic record of how the matter stood with her.

We regret to say that the publication of this document was not brought
forth to clear Lady Byron's name from her husband's slanders, but to
shield _him_ from the worst accusation against him, by showing that this
crime was not included in the few private confidential revelations that
friendship wrung from the young wife at this period.

Lady Anne Barnard, authoress of 'Auld Robin Grey,' a friend whose age and
experience made her a proper confidante, sent for the broken-hearted,
perplexed wife, and offered her a woman's sympathy.

To her Lady Byron wrote many letters, under seal of confidence, and Lady
Anne says: 'I will give you a few paragraphs transcribed from one of Lady
Byron's own letters to me.  It is sorrowful to think that in a very
little time this young and amiable creature, wise, patient, and feeling,
will have her character mistaken by every one who reads Byron's works.  To
rescue her from this I preserved her letters, and when she afterwards
expressed a fear that anything of her writing should ever fall into hands
to injure him (I suppose she meant by publication), I safely assured her
that it never should.  But here this letter shall be placed, a sacred
record in her favour, unknown to herself.

   'I am a very incompetent judge of the impression which the last Canto
   of "Childe Harold" may produce on the minds of indifferent readers.

   'It contains the usual trace of a conscience restlessly awake, though
   his object has been too long to aggravate its burden, as if it could
   thus be oppressed into eternal stupor.  I will hope, as you do, that
   it survives for his ultimate good.

   'It was the acuteness of his remorse, impenitent in its character,
   which so long seemed to demand from my compassion to spare every
   semblance of reproach, every look of grief, which might have said to
   his conscience, "You have made me wretched."

   'I am decidedly of opinion that he is responsible.  He has wished to
   be thought partially deranged, or on the brink of it, to perplex
   observers and _prevent them from tracing effects to their real causes_
   through all the intricacies of his conduct.  I was, as I told you, at
   one time the dupe of his acted insanity, and clung to the former
   delusions in regard to the motives that concerned me personally, till
   the whole system was laid bare.

   'He is the absolute monarch of words, and uses them, as Bonaparte did
   lives, for conquest, without more regard to their intrinsic value,
   considering them only as ciphers, which must derive all their import
   from the situation in which he places them, and the ends to which he
   adapts them, with such consummate skill.

   'Why, then, you will say, does he not employ them to give a better
   colour to his own character?  Because he is too good an actor to over-
   act, or to assume a moral garb, which it would be easy to strip off.

   'In regard to his poetry, egotism is the vital principle of his
   imagination, which it is difficult for him to kindle on any subject
   with which his own character and interests are not identified; but by
   the introduction of fictitious incidents, by change of scene or time,
   _he has enveloped his poetical disclosures in a system impenetrable
   except to a very few_; and his constant desire of creating a sensation
   makes him not averse to be the object of wonder and curiosity, even
   though accompanied _by some dark and vague suspicions_.

   'Nothing has contributed more to the misunderstanding of his real
   character than the lonely grandeur in which he shrouds it, and his
   affectation of being above mankind, when he exists almost in their
   voice.  The romance of his sentiments is another feature of this mask
   of state.  I know no one more habitually destitute of that enthusiasm
   he so beautifully expresses, and to which he can work up his fancy
   chiefly by contagion.

   '_I had heard he was the best of brothers, the most generous of
   friends, and I thought such feelings only required to be warmed and
   cherished into more diffusive benevolence.  Though these opinions are
   eradicated, and could never return but with the decay of my memory_,
   you will not wonder if there are still moments when the association of
   feelings which arose from them soften and sadden my thoughts.

   'But I have not thanked you, dearest Lady Anne, for your kindness in
   regard to a principal object,--that of rectifying false impressions.  I
   trust you understand my wishes, which never were to injure Lord Byron
   in any way; for, _though he would not suffer me to remain his wife, he
   cannot prevent me from continuing his friend; and it was from
   considering myself as such that I silenced the accusations by which my
   own conduct might have been more fully justified_.

   'It is not necessary to speak ill of his heart in general; it is
   sufficient that to me it was hard and impenetrable that my own must
   have been broken before his could have been touched.  I would rather
   represent this as _my_ misfortune than as _his_ guilt; but, surely,
   that misfortune is not to be made my crime!  Such are my feelings; you
   will judge how to act.

   'His allusions to me in "Childe Harold" are cruel and cold, but with
   such a semblance as to make _me_ appear so, and to attract all
   sympathy to himself.  It is said in this poem that hatred of him will
   be taught as a lesson to his child.  I might appeal to all who have
   ever heard me speak of him, and still more to my own heart, to witness
   that there has been no moment when I have remembered injury otherwise
   than affectionately and sorrowfully.

   'It is not my duty to give way to hopeless and wholly unrequited
   affection; but, so long as I live, my chief struggle will probably be
   not to remember him too kindly.  I do not seek the sympathy of the
   world, but I wish to be known by those whose opinion is valuable and
   whose kindness is dear to me.  Among such, my dear Lady Anne, you will
   ever be remembered by your truly affectionate

   'A. BYRON.'

On this letter I observe Lord Lindsay remarks that it shows a noble but
rather severe character, and a recent author has remarked that it seemed
to be written rather in a 'cold spirit of criticism.'  It seems to strike
these gentlemen as singular that Lady Byron did not enjoy the poem!  But
there are two remarkable sentences in this letter which have escaped the
critics hitherto.  Lord Byron, in this, the Third Canto of 'Childe
Harold,' expresses in most affecting words an enthusiasm of love for his
sister.  So long as he lived he was her faithful correspondent; he sent
her his journals; and, dying, he left her and her children everything he
had in the world.  This certainly seems like an affectionate brother; but
in what words does Lady Byron speak of this affection?

'I _had heard he was the best of brothers_, the most generous of friends.
I thought these feelings only required to be warmed and cherished into
more diffusive benevolence.  THESE OPINIONS ARE ERADICATED, AND COULD
NEVER RETURN BUT WITH THE DECAY OF MEMORY.'  Let me ask those who give
this letter as a proof that at this time no idea such as I have stated
was in Lady Byron's mind, to account for these words.  Let them please
answer these questions: Why had Lady Byron ceased to think him a good
brother?  Why does she use so strong a word as that the opinion was
eradicated, torn up by the roots, and could never grow again in her
except by decay of memory?

And yet this is a document Lord Lindsay vouches for as authentic, and
which he brings forward _in defence_ of Lord Byron.

Again she says, 'Though he _would not suffer me to remain his wife_, he
cannot prevent me from continuing his friend.'  Do these words not say
that in some past time, in some decided manner, Lord Byron had declared
to her his rejection of her as a wife?  I shall yet have occasion to
explain these words.

Again she says, 'I silenced accusations by which my conduct might have
been more fully justified.'

The people in England who are so very busy in searching out evidence
against my true story have searched out and given to the world an
important confirmation of this assertion of Lady Byron's.

It seems that the confidential waiting-maid who went with Lady Byron on
her wedding journey has been sought out and interrogated, and, as appears
by description, is a venerable, respectable old person, quite in
possession of all her senses in general, and of that sixth sense of
propriety in particular, which appears not to be a common virtue in our

As her testimony is important, we insert it just here, with a description
of her person in full.  The ardent investigators thus speak:--

   'Having gained admission, we were shown into a small but neatly
   furnished and scrupulously clean apartment, where sat the object of
   our visit.  Mrs. Mimms is a venerable-looking old lady, of short
   stature, slight and active appearance, with a singularly bright and
   intelligent countenance.  Although midway between eighty and ninety
   years of age, she is in full possession of her faculties, discourses
   freely and cheerfully, hears apparently as well as ever she did, and
   her sight is so good that, aided by a pair of spectacles, she reads
   the Chronicle every day with ease.  Some idea of her competency to
   contribute valuable evidence to the subject which now so much engages
   public attention on three continents may be found from her own
   narrative of her personal relations with Lady Byron.  Mrs. Mimms was
   born in the neighbourhood of Seaham, and knew Lady Byron from
   childhood.  During the long period of ten years she was Miss
   Milbanke's lady's-maid, and in that capacity became the close
   confidante of her mistress.  There were circumstances which rendered
   their relationship peculiarly intimate.  Miss Milbanke had no sister
   or female friend to whom she was bound by the ties of more than a
   common affection; and her mother, whatever other excellent qualities
   she may have possessed, was too high-spirited and too hasty in temper
   to attract the sympathies of the young.  Some months before Miss
   Milbanke was married to Lord Byron, Mrs. Mimms had quitted her service
   on the occasion of her own marriage with Mr. Mimms; but she continued
   to reside in the neighbourhood of Seaham, and remained on the most
   friendly terms with her former mistress.  As the courtship proceeded,
   Miss Milbanke concealed nothing from her faithful attendant; and when
   the wedding-day was fixed, she begged Mrs. Mimms to return and fulfil
   the duties of lady's-maid, at least during the honeymoon.  Mrs. Mimms
   at the time was nursing her first child, and it was no small sacrifice
   to quit her own home at such a moment, but she could not refuse her
   old mistress's request.  Accordingly, she returned to Seaham Hall some
   days before the wedding, was present at the ceremony, and then
   preceded Lord and Lady Byron to Halnaby Hall, near Croft, in the North
   Riding of Yorkshire, one of Sir Ralph Milbanke's seats, where the
   newly married couple were to spend the honeymoon.  Mrs. Mimms remained
   with Lord and Lady Byron during the three weeks they spent at Halnaby
   Hall, and then accompanied them to Seaham, where they spent the next
   six weeks.  It was during the latter period that she finally quitted
   Lady Byron's service; but she remained in the most friendly
   communication with her ladyship till the death of the latter, and for
   some time was living in the neighbourhood of Lady Byron's residence in
   Leicestershire, where she had frequent opportunities of seeing her
   former mistress.  It may be added that Lady Byron was not unmindful of
   the faithful services of her friend and attendant in the instructions
   to her executors contained in her will.  Such was the position of Mrs.
   Mimms towards Lady Byron; and we think no one will question that it
   was of a nature to entitle all that Mrs. Mimms may say on the subject
   of the relations of Lord and Lady Byron to the most respectful
   consideration and credit.'

Such is the chronicler's account of the faithful creature whom nothing
but intense indignation and disgust at Mrs. Beecher Stowe would lead to
speak on her mistress's affairs; but Mrs. Beecher Stowe feels none the
less sincere respect for her, and is none the less obliged to her for
having spoken.  Much of Mrs. Mimms's testimony will be referred to in
another place; we only extract one passage, to show that while Lord Byron
spent his time in setting afloat slanders against his wife, she spent
hers in sealing the mouths of witnesses against him.

Of the period of the honeymoon Mrs. Mimms says:--

   'The happiness of Lady Byron, however, was of brief duration; even
   during the short three weeks they spent at Halnaby, the irregularities
   of Lord Byron occasioned her the greatest distress, and she even
   contemplated returning to her father.  Mrs. Mimms was her constant
   companion and confidante through this painful period, and she does not
   believe that her ladyship concealed a thought from her.  _With
   laudable reticence, the old lady absolutely refuses to disclose the
   particulars of Lord Byron's misconduct at this time; she gave Lady
   Byron a solemn promise not to do so_.

      *         *          *          *

   'So serious did Mrs. Mimms consider the conduct of Lord Byron, that
   she recommended her mistress to confide all the circumstances to her
   father, Sir Ralph Milbanke, a calm, kind, and most excellent parent,
   and take his advice as to her future course.  At one time Mrs. Mimms
   thinks Lady Byron had resolved to follow her counsel and impart her
   wrongs to Sir Ralph; but on arriving at Seaham Hall her ladyship
   strictly enjoined Mrs. Mimms to preserve absolute silence on the
   subject--a course which she followed herself;--so that when, six weeks
   later, she and Lord Byron left Seaham for London, not a word had
   escaped her to disturb her parents' tranquillity as to their
   daughter's domestic happiness.  As might be expected, Mrs. Mimms bears
   the warmest testimony to the noble and lovable qualities of her
   departed mistress.  She also declares that Lady Byron was by no means
   of a cold temperament, but that the affectionate impulses of her
   nature were checked by the unkind treatment she experienced from her

We have already shown that Lord Byron had been, ever since his
separation, engaged in a systematic attempt to reverse the judgment of
the world against himself, by making converts of all his friends to a
most odious view of his wife's character, and inspiring them with the
zeal of propagandists to spread these views through society.  We have
seen how he prepared partisans to interpret the Fourth Canto of 'Childe

This plan of solemn and heroic accusation was the first public attack on
his wife.  Next we see him commencing a scurrilous attempt to turn her to
ridicule in the First Canto of 'Don Juan.'

It is to our point now to show how carefully and cautiously this Don Juan
campaign was planned.

Vol. IV. p.138, we find Letter 325 to Mr. Murray:--

      'Venice: January 25, 1819.

   'You will do me the favour to _print privately, for private
   distribution, fifty copies of "Don Juan."_  The list of the men to
   whom I wish it presented I will send hereafter.'

The poem, as will be remembered, begins with the meanest and foulest
attack on his wife that ever ribald wrote, and puts it in close
neighbourhood with scenes which every pure man or woman must feel to be
the beastly utterances of a man who had lost all sense of decency.  Such
a potion was too strong to be administered even in a time when great
license was allowed, and men were not over-nice.  But Byron chooses fifty
armour-bearers of that class of men who would find indecent ribaldry
about a wife a good joke, and talk about the 'artistic merits' of things
which we hope would make an honest boy blush.

At this time he acknowledges that his vices had brought him to a state of
great exhaustion, attended by such debility of the stomach that nothing
remained on it; and adds, 'I was obliged to reform my way of life, which
was conducting me from the yellow leaf to the ground with all deliberate
speed.' {41}  But as his health is a little better he employs it in
making the way to death and hell elegantly easy for other young men, by
breaking down the remaining scruples of a society not over-scrupulous.

Society revolted, however, and fought stoutly against the nauseous dose.
His sister wrote to him that she heard such things said of it that _she_
never would read it; and the outcry against it on the part of all women
of his acquaintance was such that for a time he was quite overborne; and
the Countess Guiccioli finally extorted a promise from him to cease
writing it.  Nevertheless, there came a time when England accepted 'Don
Juan,'--when Wilson, in the 'Noctes Ambrosianae,' praised it as a
classic, and took every opportunity to reprobate Lady Byron's conduct.
When first it appeared the 'Blackwood' came out with that indignant
denunciation of which we have spoken, and to which Byron replied in the
extracts we have already quoted.  He did something more than reply.  He
marked out Wilson as one of the strongest literary men of the day, and
set his 'initiated' with their documents to work upon him.

One of these documents to which he requested Wilson's attention was the
private autobiography, written expressly to give his own story of all the
facts of the marriage and separation.

In the indignant letter he writes Murray on the 'Blackwood' article, Vol.
IV., Letter 350--under date December 10, 1819--he says:--

   'I sent home for Moore, and for Moore only (who has my journal also),
   my memoir written up to 1816, and I gave him leave to show it to whom
   he pleased, but _not to publish_ on any account.  _You_ may read it,
   and you may let Wilson read it if he likes--not for his public
   opinion, but his private, for I like the man, and care very little
   about the magazine.  And I could wish Lady Byron herself to read it,
   that she may have it in her power to mark any thing mistaken or
   misstated.  As it will never appear till after my extinction, it would
   be but fair she should see it; that is to say, herself willing.  Your
   "Blackwood" accuses me of treating women harshly; but I have been
   their martyr; my whole life has been sacrificed to them and by them.'

It was a part of Byron's policy to place Lady Byron in positions before
the world where she _could_ not speak, and where her silence would be set
down to her as haughty, stony indifference and obstinacy.  Such was the
pretended negotiation through Madame de Stael, and such now this
apparently fair and generous offer to let Lady Byron see and mark this

The little Ada is now in her fifth year--a child of singular sensibility
and remarkable mental powers--one of those exceptional children who are
so perilous a charge for a mother.

Her husband proposes this artful snare to her,--that she shall mark what
is false in a statement which is all built on a damning lie, that she
cannot refute over that daughter's head,--and which would perhaps be her
ruin to discuss.

Hence came an addition of two more documents, to be used 'privately among
friends,' {43} and which 'Blackwood' uses after Lady Byron is safely out
of the world to cast ignominy on her grave--the wife's letter, that of a
mother standing at bay for her daughter, knowing that she is dealing with
a desperate, powerful, unscrupulous enemy.

      'Kirkby Mallory: March 10, 1820.

   'I received your letter of January 1, offering to my perusal a Memoir
   of part of your life.  I decline to inspect it.  I consider the
   publication or circulation of such a composition at any time as
   prejudicial to Ada's future happiness.  For my own sake, I have no
   reason to shrink from publication; but, notwithstanding the injuries
   which I have suffered, I should lament some of the consequences.

      'A. Byron.

   'To Lord Byron.'

Lord Byron, writing for the public, as is his custom, makes reply:--

      'Ravenna: April 3, 1820.

   'I received yesterday your answer, dated March 10.  My offer was an
   honest one, and surely could only be construed as such even by the
   most malignant casuistry.  I could answer you, but it is too late, and
   it is not worth while.  To the mysterious menace of the last sentence,
   whatever its import may be--and I cannot pretend to unriddle it--I
   could hardly be very sensible even if I understood it, as, before it
   can take place, I shall be where "nothing can touch him further." . .
   .  I advise you, however, to anticipate the period of your intention,
   for, be assured, no power of figures can avail beyond the present; and
   if it could, I would answer with the Florentine:--

   '"Ed io, che posto son con loro in croce
   .     .     .     .     .     e certo
   La fiera moglie, piu ch'altro, mi nuoce." {44}


   'To Lady Byron.'

Two things are very evident in this correspondence: Lady Byron intimates
that, if he publishes his story, some _consequences_ must follow which
she shall regret.

Lord Byron receives this as a threat, and says he doesn't understand it.
But directly after he says, 'Before IT can take place, I shall be,' etc.

The intimation is quite clear.  He _does_ understand what the
consequences alluded to are.  They are evidently that Lady Byron will
speak out and tell her story.  He says she cannot do this till _after he
is dead_, and then he shall not care.  In allusion to her accuracy as to
dates and figures, he says: 'Be assured no power of figures can avail
beyond the present' (life); and then ironically _advises_ her to
_anticipate the period_,--i.e. to speak out while he is alive.

In Vol. VI. Letter 518, which Lord Byron wrote to Lady Byron, but did not
send, he says: 'I burned your last note for two reasons,--firstly,
because it was written in a style not very agreeable; and, secondly,
because I wished to take your word without documents, which are the
resources of worldly and suspicious people.'

It would appear from this that there was a last letter of Lady Byron to
her husband, which he did not think proper to keep on hand, or show to
the 'initiated' with his usual unreserve; that this letter contained some
kind of _pledge_ for which he preferred to take her word, _without

Each reader can imagine for himself what that _pledge_ might have been;
but from the tenor of the three letters we should infer that it was a
promise of silence for his lifetime, on _certain conditions_, and that
the publication of the autobiography would violate those conditions, and
make it her duty to speak out.

This celebrated autobiography forms so conspicuous a figure in the whole
history, that the reader must have a full idea of it, as given by Byron
himself, in Vol. IV.  Letter 344, to Murray:--

   'I gave to Moore, who is gone to Rome, my life in MS.,--in seventy-
   eight folio sheets, brought down to 1816 . . . also a journal kept in
   1814.  Neither are for publication during my life, but when I am cold
   you may do what you please.  In the mean time, if you like to read
   them you may, and show them to anybody you like.  I care not. . . . '

He tells him also:--

   'You will find in it a detailed account of my marriage and its
   consequences, as true as a party concerned can make such an account.'

Of the extent to which this autobiography was circulated we have the
following testimony of Shelton Mackenzie, in notes to 'The Noctes' of
June 1824.

In 'The Noctes' Odoherty says:--

   'The fact is, the work had been copied for the private reading of a
   great lady in Florence.'

The note says:--

   'The great lady in Florence, for whose private reading Byron's
   autobiography was copied, was the Countess of Westmoreland. . . .  Lady
   Blessington had the autobiography in her possession for weeks, and
   confessed to having copied every line of it.  Moore remonstrated, and
   she committed her copy to the flames, but did not tell him that her
   sister, Mrs. Home Purvis, now Viscountess of Canterbury, had also made
   a copy! . . .  From the quantity of copy I have seen,--and others were
   more in the way of falling in with it than myself,--I surmise that at
   least half a dozen copies were made, and of these _five_ are now in
   existence.  Some particular parts, such as the marriage and
   separation, were copied separately; but I think there cannot be less
   than five full copies yet to be found.'

This was written _after the original autobiography was burned_.

We may see the zeal and enthusiasm of the Byron party,--copying seventy-
eight folio sheets, as of old Christians copied the Gospels.  How widely,
fully, and thoroughly, thus, by this secret process, was society
saturated with Byron's own versions of the story that related to himself
and wife!  Against her there was only the complaint of an absolute
silence.  She put forth no statements, no documents; had no party, sealed
the lips of her counsel, and even of her servants; yet she could not but
have known, from time to time, how thoroughly and strongly this web of
mingled truth and lies was being meshed around her steps.

From the time that Byron first saw the importance of securing Wilson on
his side, and wrote to have his partisans attend to him, we may date an
entire revolution in the 'Blackwood.'  It became Byron's warmest
supporter,--is to this day the bitterest accuser of his wife.

Why was this wonderful silence?  It appears by Dr. Lushington's
statements, that, when Lady Byron did speak, she had a story to tell that
powerfully affected both him and Romilly,--a story supported by evidence
on which they were willing to have gone to public trial.  Supposing, now,
she had imitated Lord Byron's example, and, avoiding public trial, had
put her story into private circulation; as he sent 'Don Juan' to fifty
confidential friends, suppose she had sent a written statement of her
story to fifty judges as intelligent as the two that had heard it; or
suppose she had confronted his autobiography with her own,--what would
have been the result?

The first result might have been Mrs. Leigh's utter ruin.  The world may
finally forgive the man of genius anything; but for a woman there is no
mercy and no redemption.

This ruin Lady Byron prevented by her utter silence and great
self-command.  Mrs. Leigh never lost position.  Lady Byron never so
varied in her manner towards her as to excite the suspicions even of her
confidential old servant.

To protect Mrs. Leigh effectually, it must have been necessary to
continue to exclude even her own mother from the secret, as we are
assured she did at first; for, had she told Lady Milbanke, it is not
possible that so high-spirited a woman could have restrained herself from
such outward expressions as would at least have awakened suspicion.  There
was no resource but this absolute silence.

Lady Blessington, in her last conversation with Lord Byron, thus
describes the life Lady Byron was leading.  She speaks of her as 'wearing
away her youth in almost monastic seclusion, questioned by some,
appreciated by few, seeking consolation alone in the discharge of her
duties, and avoiding all external demonstrations of a grief that her pale
cheek and solitary existence alone were vouchers for.' {49}

The main object of all this silence may be imagined, if we remember that
if Lord Byron had not died,--had he truly and deeply repented, and become
a thoroughly good man, and returned to England to pursue a course worthy
of his powers, there was on record neither word nor deed from his wife to
stand in his way.

HIS PLACE WAS KEPT IN SOCIETY, ready for him to return to whenever he
came clothed and in his right mind.  He might have had the heart and
confidence of his daughter unshadowed by a suspicion.  He might have won
the reverence of the great and good in his own lands and all lands.  That
hope, which was the strong support, the prayer of the silent wife, it did
not please God to fulfil.

Lord Byron died a worn-out man at thirty-six.  But the bitter seeds he
had sown came up, after his death, in a harvest of thorns over his grave;
and there were not wanting hands to use them as instruments of torture on
the heart of his widow.


We have traced the conspiracy of Lord Byron against his wife up to its
latest device.  That the reader's mind may be clear on the points of the
process, we shall now briefly recapitulate the documents in the order of

I.  March 17, 1816.--While negotiations for separation were
pending,--'_Fare thee well, and if for ever_.'

While writing these pages, we have received from England the testimony of
one who has seen the original draught of that 'Fare thee well.'  This
original copy had evidently been subjected to the most careful and acute
revision.  Scarcely two lines that were not interlined, scarcely an
adjective that was not exchanged for a better; showing that the noble
lord was not so far overcome by grief as to have forgotten his
reputation.  (Found its way to the public prints through the imprudence
of _a friend_.)

II.  March 29, 1816.--An attack on Lady Byron's old governess for having
been born poor, for being homely, and for having unduly influenced his
wife against him; promising that her grave should be a fiery bed, etc.;
also praising his wife's perfect and remarkable truthfulness and
discernment, that made it impossible for flattery to fool, or baseness
blind her; but ascribing all his woes to her being fooled and blinded by
this same governess.  (Found its way to the prints by the imprudence of
_a friend_.)

III.  September 1816.--Lines on hearing that Lady Byron is ill.  Calls
her a Clytemnestra, who has secretly set assassins on her lord; says she
is a mean, treacherous, deceitful liar, and has entirely departed from
her early truth, and become the most unscrupulous and unprincipled of
women.  (Never printed till after Lord Byron's death, but circulated
_privately_ among the '_initiated_.')

IV.  Aug. 9, 1817.--Gives to M. G. Lewis a paper for circulation among
friends in England, stating that what he most wants is _public
investigation_, which has always been denied him; and daring Lady Byron
and her counsel to come out publicly.  (Found in M. G. Lewis's portfolio
after his death; never heard of before, except among the 'initiated.')

Having given M. G. Lewis's document time to work,--

January 1818.--Gives the Fourth Canto of 'Childe Harold' {51} to the

Jan. 25, 1819.--Sends to Murray to print for private circulation among
the 'initiated' the First Canto of 'Don Juan.'

Is nobly and severely rebuked for this insult to his wife by the
'Blackwood,' August 1819.

October 1819.--Gives Moore the manuscript 'Autobiography,' with leave to
show it to whom he pleases, and print it after his death.

Oct. 29, 1819, Vol. IV. Letter 344.--Writes to Murray, that he may read
all this 'Autobiography,' and show it to anybody he likes.

Dec. 10, 1819.--Writes to Murray on this article in 'Blackwood' against
'Don Juan' and himself, which he supposes written by Wilson; sends a
complimentary message to Wilson, and asks him to read his 'Autobiography'
sent by Moore.  (Letter 350.)

March 15, 1820.--Writes and dedicates to I. Disraeli, Esq., a vindication
of himself in reply to the 'Blackwood' on 'Don Juan,' containing an
indignant defence of his own conduct in relation to his wife, and
maintaining that he never yet has had an opportunity of knowing whereof
he has been accused; accusing Sir S. Romilly of taking his retainer, and
then going over to the adverse party, etc.  (Printed for _private
circulation_; to be found in the standard English edition of Murray, vol.
ix. p.57.)

To this condensed account of Byron's strategy we must add the crowning
stroke of policy which transmitted this warfare to his friends, to be
continued after his death.

During the last visit Moore made him in Italy, and just before Byron
presented to him his 'Autobiography,' the following scene occurred, as
narrated by Moore (vol. iv. p.221):--

   'The chief subject of conversation, when alone, was his marriage, and
   the load of obloquy which it had brought upon him.  He was most
   anxious to know _the worst_ that had been alleged of his conduct; and,
   as this was our first opportunity of speaking together on the subject,
   I did not hesitate to put his candour most searchingly to the proof,
   not only by enumerating the various charges I had heard brought
   against him by others, but by specifying such portions of these
   charges as I had been inclined to think not incredible myself.

   'To all this he listened with patience, and answered with the most
   unhesitating frankness; laughing to scorn the tales of unmanly outrage
   related of him, but at the same time acknowledging that there had been
   in his conduct but too much to blame and regret, and stating one or
   two occasions during his domestic life when he had been irritated into
   letting the "breath of bitter words" escape him,. . .  which he now
   evidently remembered with a degree of remorse and pain which might
   well have entitled them to be forgotten by others.

   'It was, at the same time, manifest, that, whatever admissions he
   might be inclined to make respecting his own delinquencies, the
   inordinate measure of the punishment dealt out to him had sunk deeply
   into his mind, and, with the usual effect of such injustice, drove him
   also to be unjust himself; so much so, indeed, as to impute to the
   quarter to which he now traced all his ill fate a feeling of fixed
   hostility to himself, which would not rest, he thought, even at his
   grave, but continue to persecute his memory as it was now embittering
   his life.  So strong was this impression upon him, that, during one of
   our few intervals of seriousness, he conjured me by our friendship,
   if, as he both felt and hoped, I should survive him, not to let
   unmerited censure settle upon his name.'

In this same account, page 218, Moore testifies that

   'Lord Byron disliked his countrymen, but only because he knew that his
   morals were held in contempt by them.  The English, themselves rigid
   observers of family duties, could not pardon him the neglect of his,
   nor his trampling on principles; therefore, neither did he like being
   presented to them, nor did they, especially when they had wives with
   them, like to cultivate his acquaintance.  Still there was a strong
   desire in all of them to see him; and the women in particular, who did
   not dare to look at him but by stealth, said in an under-voice, "What
   a pity it is!"  If, however, any of his compatriots of exalted rank
   and high reputation came forward to treat him with courtesy, he showed
   himself obviously flattered by it.  It seemed that, to the wound which
   remained open in his ulcerated heart, such soothing attentions were as
   drops of healing balm, which comforted him.'

When in society, we are further informed by a lady quoted by Mr. Moore,
he was in the habit of speaking of his wife with much respect and
affection, as an illustrious lady, distinguished for her qualities of
heart and understanding; saying that all the fault of their cruel
separation lay with himself.  Mr. Moore seems at times to be somewhat
puzzled by these contradictory statements of his idol, and speculates not
a little on what could be Lord Byron's object in using such language in
public; mentally comparing it, we suppose, with the free handling which
he gave to the same subject in his private correspondence.

The innocence with which Moore gives himself up to be manipulated by Lord
Byron, the naivete with which he shows all the process, let us a little
into the secret of the marvellous powers of charming and blinding which
this great actor possessed.

Lord Byron had the beauty, the wit, the genius, the dramatic talent,
which have constituted the strength of some wonderfully fascinating

There have been women able to lead their leashes of blinded adorers; to
make them swear that black was white, or white black, at their word; to
smile away their senses, or weep away their reason.  No matter what these
sirens may say, no matter what they may do, though caught in a thousand
transparent lies, and doing a thousand deeds which would have ruined
others, still men madly rave after them in life, and tear their hair over
their graves.  Such an enchanter in man's shape was Lord Byron.

He led captive Moore and Murray by being beautiful, a genius, and a lord;
calling them 'Dear Tom' and 'Dear Murray,' while they were only
commoners.  He first insulted Sir Walter Scott, and then witched his
heart out of him by ingenuous confessions and poetical compliments; he
took Wilson's heart by flattering messages and a beautifully-written
letter; he corresponded familiarly with Hogg; and, before his death, had
made fast friends, in one way or another, of the whole 'Noctes
Ambrosianae' Club.

We thus have given the historical resume of Lord Byron's attacks on his
wife's reputation: we shall add, that they were based on philosophic
principles, showing a deep knowledge of mankind.  An analysis will show
that they can be philosophically classified:--

1st.  Those which addressed the sympathetic nature of man, representing
her as cold, methodical, severe, strict, unforgiving.

2nd.  Those addressed to the faculty of association, connecting her with
ludicrous and licentious images; taking from her the usual protection of
womanly delicacy and sacredness.

3rd.  Those addressed to the moral faculties, accusing her as artful,
treacherous, untruthful, malignant.

All these various devices he held in his hand, shuffling and dealing them
as a careful gamester his pack of cards according to the exigencies of
the game.  He played adroitly, skilfully, with blinding flatteries and
seductive wiles, that made his victims willing dupes.

Nothing can more clearly show the power and perfectness of his
enchantments than the masterly way in which he turned back the moral
force of the whole English nation, which had risen at first in its
strength against him.  The victory was complete.


At the time of Lord Byron's death, the English public had been so
skilfully manipulated by the Byron propaganda, that the sympathy of the
whole world was with him.  A tide of emotion was now aroused in England
by his early death--dying in the cause of Greece and liberty.  There
arose a general wail for him, as for a lost pleiad, not only in England,
but over the whole world; a great rush of enthusiasm for his memory, to
which the greatest literary men of England freely gave voice.  By general
consent, Lady Byron seems to have been looked upon as the only
cold-hearted unsympathetic person in this general mourning.

From that time the literary world of England apparently regarded Lady
Byron as a woman to whom none of the decorums, nor courtesies of ordinary
womanhood, nor even the consideration belonging to common humanity, were

'She that is a widow indeed, and desolate,' has been regarded in all
Christian countries as an object made sacred by the touch of God's
afflicting hand, sacred in her very helplessness; and the old Hebrew
Scriptures give to the Supreme Father no dearer title than 'the widow's
God.'  But, on Lord Byron's death, men not devoid of tenderness, men
otherwise generous and of fine feeling, acquiesced in insults to his
widow with an obtuseness that seems, on review, quite incredible.

Lady Byron was not only a widow, but an orphan.  She had no sister for
confidante; no father and mother to whom to go in her sorrows--sorrows so
much deeper and darker to her than they could be to any other human
being.  She had neither son nor brother to uphold and protect her.  On
all hands it was acknowledged that, so far, there was no fault to be
found in her but her utter silence.  Her life was confessed to be pure,
useful, charitable; and yet, in this time of her sorrow, the writers of
England issued article upon article not only devoid of delicacy, but
apparently injurious and insulting towards her, with a blind
unconsciousness which seems astonishing.

One of the greatest literary powers of that time was the 'Blackwood:' the
reigning monarch on that literary throne was Wilson, the lion-hearted,
the brave, generous, tender poet, and, with some sad exceptions, the
noble man.  But Wilson had believed the story of Byron, and, by his very
generosity and tenderness and pity, was betrayed into injustice.

In 'The Noctes' of November 1824 there is a conversation of the Noctes
Club, in which North says, 'Byron and I knew each other pretty well; and
I suppose there's no harm in adding, that we appreciated each other
pretty tolerably.  Did you ever see his letter to me?'

The footnote to this says, '_This letter, which was_ PRINTED _in Byron's
lifetime, was not published till_ 1830, when it appeared in Moore's "Life
of Byron."  It is one of the most vigorous prose compositions in the
language.  Byron had the highest opinion of Wilson's genius and noble

In the first place, with our present ideas of propriety and good taste,
we should reckon it an indecorum to make the private affairs of a pure
and good woman, whose circumstances under any point of view were trying,
and who evidently shunned publicity, the subject of public discussion in
magazines which were read all over the world.

Lady Byron, as they all knew, had on her hands a most delicate and
onerous task, in bringing up an only daughter, necessarily inheriting
peculiarities of genius and great sensitiveness; and the many
mortifications and embarrassments which such intermeddling with her
private matters must have given, certainly should have been considered by
men with any pretensions to refinement or good feeling.

But the literati of England allowed her no consideration, no rest, no

In 'The Noctes' of November 1825 there is the record of a free
conversation upon Lord and Lady Byron's affairs, interlarded with
exhortations to push the bottle, and remarks on whisky-toddy.  Medwin's
'Conversations with Lord Byron' is discussed, which, we are told in a
note, appeared a few months after the _noble_ poet's death.

There is a rather bold and free discussion of Lord Byron's character--his
fondness for gin and water, on which stimulus he wrote 'Don Juan;' and
James Hogg says pleasantly to Mullion, 'O Mullion! it's a pity you and
Byron could na ha' been acquaint.  There would ha' been brave sparring to
see who could say the wildest and the dreadfullest things; for he had
neither fear of man or woman, and would ha' his joke or jeer, cost what
it might.'  And then follows a specimen of one of his jokes with an
actress, that, in indecency, certainly justifies the assertion.  From the
other stories which follow, and the parenthesis that occurs frequently
('Mind your glass, James, a little more!'), it seems evident that the
party are progressing in their peculiar kind of _civilisation_.

It is in this same circle and paper that Lady Byron's private affairs
come up for discussion.  The discussion is thus elegantly introduced:--

   Hogg.--'Reach me the black bottle.  I say, Christopher, what, after
   all, is your opinion o' Lord and Leddy Byron's quarrel?  Do you
   yoursel' take part with him, or with her?  I wad like to hear your
   real opinion.'

   North.--'Oh, dear!  Well, Hogg, since you will have it, I think
   Douglas Kinnard and Hobhouse are bound to tell us whether there be any
   truth, and how much, in this story about the _declaration_, signed by
   Sir Ralph' [Milbanke].

The note here tells us that this refers to a statement that appeared in
'Blackwood' immediately after Byron's death, to the effect that, previous
to the formal separation from his wife, Byron required and obtained from
Sir Ralph Milbanke, Lady Byron's father, a statement to the effect that
Lady Byron had no charge of moral delinquency to bring against him. {61}

North continues:--

   'And I think Lady Byron's letter--the "Dearest Duck" one I mean--should
   really be forthcoming, if her ladyship's friends wish to stand fair
   before the public.  At present we have nothing but loose talk of
   society to go upon; and certainly, _if the things that are said be
   true, there must be thorough explanation from some quarter, or the
   tide will continue, as it has assuredly begun, to flow in a direction
   very opposite to what we were for years accustomed_.  Sir, they must
   _explain this business of the letter_.  You have, of course, heard
   about the invitation it contained, the warm, affectionate invitation,
   to Kirkby Mallory'--

Hogg interposes,--

   'I dinna like to be interruptin' ye, Mr. North; but I must inquire, Is
   the _jug_ to stand still while ye're going on at that rate?'

   North--'There, Porker!  These things are part and parcel of the
   chatter of every bookseller's shop; a fortiori, of every drawing-room
   in May Fair.  Can the matter stop here?  Can a great man's memory be
   permitted to incur damnation while these saving clauses are afloat
   anywhere uncontradicted?'

And from this the conversation branches off into strong, emphatic praise
of Byron's conduct in Greece during the last part of his life.

The silent widow is thus delicately and considerately reminded in the
'Blackwood' that she is the talk, not only over the whisky jug of the
Noctes, but in every drawing-room in London; and that she must speak out
and explain matters, or the whole world will set against her.

But she does not speak yet.  The public persecution, therefore, proceeds.
Medwin's book being insufficient, another biographer is to be selected.
Now, the person in the Noctes Club who was held to have the most complete
information of the Byron affairs, and was, on that account, first thought
of by Murray to execute this very delicate task of writing a memoir which
should include the most sacred domestic affairs of a noble lady and her
orphan daughter, was Maginn.  Maginn, the author of the pleasant joke,
that 'man never reaches the apex of civilisation till he is too drunk to
pronounce the word,' was the first person in whose hands the
'Autobiography,' Memoirs, and Journals of Lord Byron were placed with
this view.

The following note from Shelton Mackenzie, in the June number of 'The
Noctes,' 1824, says,--

   'At that time, had he been so minded, Maginn (Odoherty) could have got
   up a popular Life of Byron as well as most men in England.  Immediately
   on the account of Byron's death being received in London, John Murray
   proposed that Maginn should bring out Memoirs, Journals, and Letters
   of Lord Byron, and, with this intent, placed in his hand every line
   that he (Murray) possessed in Byron's handwriting. . . . .  The strong
   desire of Byron's family and executors that the "Autobiography" should
   be burned, to which desire Murray foolishly yielded, made such an
   hiatus in the materials, that Murray and Maginn agreed it would not
   answer to bring out the work then.  Eventually Moore executed it.'

The character of the times in which this work was to be undertaken will
appear from the following note of Mackenzie's to 'The Noctes' of August
1824, which we copy, with the author's own Italics:--

   'In the "Blackwood" of July 1824 was a poetical epistle by the
   renowned Timothy Tickler to the editor of the "John Bull" magazine, on
   an article in his first number.  This article. . .  professed to be a
   portion of the veritable "Autobiography" of Byron which was burned,
   and was called "My Wedding Night."  It appeared to relate in detail
   everything that occurred in the twenty-four hours immediately
   succeeding that in which Byron was married.  It had plenty of
   coarseness, and some to spare.  It went into particulars such as
   hitherto had been given only by Faublas; and it had, notwithstanding,
   many phrases and some facts which evidently did not belong to a mere
   fabricator.  Some years after, I compared this "Wedding Night" with
   what I had all assurance of having been transcribed from the actual
   manuscripts of Byron, and was persuaded that the magazine-writer must
   have had the actual statement before him, or have had a perusal of it.
   The writer in "Blackwood" declared his conviction that it really was
   Byron's own writing.'

The reader must remember that Lord Byron died April 1824; so that,
according to this, his 'Autobiography' was made the means of this gross
insult to his widow three months after his death.

If some powerful cause had not paralysed all feelings of gentlemanly
honour, and of womanly delicacy, and of common humanity, towards Lady
Byron, throughout the whole British nation, no editor would have dared to
open a periodical with such an article; or, if he had, he would have been
overwhelmed with a storm of popular indignation, which, like the fire
upon Sodom, would have made a pillar of salt of him for a warning to all
future generations.

'Blackwood' reproves the 'John Bull' in a poetical epistle, recognising
the article as coming from Byron, and says to the author,--

   'But that you, sir, a wit and a scholar like you,
   Should not blush to produce what he blushed not to do,--
   Take your compliment, youngster; this doubles, almost,
   The sorrow that rose when his honour was lost.'

We may not wonder that the 'Autobiography' was burned, as Murray says in
a recent account, by a committee of Byron's friends, including Hobhouse,
his sister, and Murray himself.

Now, the 'Blackwood' of July 1824 thus declares its conviction that this
outrage on every sentiment of human decency came from Lord Byron, and
that his honour was lost.  Maginn does not undertake the memoir.  No
memoir at all is undertaken; till finally Moore is selected, as, like
Demetrius of old, a well-skilled gilder and 'maker of silver shrines,'
though not for Diana.  To Moore is committed the task of doing his best
for this battered image, in which even the worshippers recognise foul
sulphurous cracks, but which they none the less stand ready to worship as
a genuine article that 'fell down from Jupiter.'

Moore was a man of no particular nicety as to moralities, but in that
matter seems not very much below what this record shows his average
associates to be.  He is so far superior to Maginn, that his vice is rose-
coloured and refined.  He does not burst out with such heroic stanzas as
Maginn's frank invitation to Jeremy Bentham:--

   'Jeremy, throw your pen aside,
      And come get drunk with me;
   And we'll go where Bacchus sits astride,
      Perched high on barrels three.'

Moore's vice is cautious, soft, seductive, slippery, and covered at times
with a thin, tremulous veil of religious sentimentalism.

In regard to Byron, he was an unscrupulous, committed partisan: he was as
much bewitched by him as ever man has been by woman; and therefore to
him, at last, the task of editing Byron's 'Memoirs' was given.

This Byron, whom they all knew to be obscene beyond what even their most
drunken tolerance could at first endure; this man, whose foul license
spoke out what most men conceal from mere respect to the decent instincts
of humanity; whose 'honour was lost,'--was submitted to this careful
manipulator, to be turned out a perfected idol for a world longing for an
idol, as the Israelites longed for the calf in Horeb.

The image was to be invested with deceitful glories and shifting
haloes,--admitted faults spoken of as peculiarities of sacred origin,--and
the world given to understand that no common rule or measure could apply
to such an undoubtedly divine production; and so the hearts of men were
to be wrung with pity for his sorrows as the yearning pain of a god, and
with anger at his injuries as sacrilege on the sacredness of genius, till
they were ready to cast themselves at his feet, and adore.

Then he was to be set up on a pedestal, like Nebuchadnezzar's image on
the plains of Dura; and what time the world heard the sound of cornet,
sackbut, and dulcimer, in his enchanting verse, they were to fall down
and worship.

For Lady Byron, Moore had simply the respect that a commoner has for a
lady of rank, and a good deal of the feeling that seems to underlie all
English literature,--that it is no matter what becomes of the woman when
the man's story is to be told.  But, with all his faults, Moore was not a
cruel man; and we cannot conceive such outrageous cruelty and
ungentlemanly indelicacy towards an unoffending woman, as he shows in
these 'Memoirs,' without referring them to Lord Byron's own influence in
making him an unscrupulous, committed partisan on his side.

So little pity, so little sympathy, did he suppose Lady Byron to be
worthy of, that he laid before her, in the sight of all the world,
selections from her husband's letters and journals, in which the
privacies of her courtship and married life were jested upon with a
vulgar levity; letters filled, from the time of the act of separation,
with a constant succession of sarcasms, stabs, stings, epigrams, and
vindictive allusions to herself, bringing her into direct and insulting
comparison with his various mistresses, and implying their superiority
over her.  There, too, were gross attacks on her father and mother, as
having been the instigators of the separation; and poor Lady Milbanke, in
particular, is sometimes mentioned with epithets so offensive, that the
editor prudently covers the terms with stars, as intending language too
gross to be printed.

The last mistress of Lord Byron is uniformly brought forward in terms of
such respect and consideration, that one would suppose that the usual
moral laws that regulate English family life had been specially repealed
in his favour.  Moore quotes with approval letters from Shelley, stating
that Lord Byron's connection with La Guiccioli has been of inestimable
benefit to him; and that he is now becoming what he should be, 'a
virtuous man.'  Moore goes on to speak of the connection as one, though
somewhat reprehensible, yet as having all those advantages of marriage
and settled domestic ties that Byron's affectionate spirit had long
sighed for, but never before found; and in his last resume of the poet's
character, at the end of the volume, he brings the mistress into direct
comparison with the wife in a single sentence: 'The woman to whom he gave
the love of his maturer years idolises his name; and, with a single
unhappy exception, scarce an instance is to be found of one brought. . .
into relations of amity with him who did not retain a kind regard for him
in life, and a fondness for his memory.'

Literature has never yet seen the instance of a person, of Lady Byron's
rank in life, placed before the world in a position more humiliating to
womanly dignity, or wounding to womanly delicacy.

The direct implication is, that she has no feelings to be hurt, no heart
to be broken, and is not worthy even of the consideration which in
ordinary life is to be accorded to a widow who has received those awful
tidings which generally must awaken many emotions, and call for some
consideration, even in the most callous hearts.

The woman who we are told walked the room, vainly striving to control the
sobs that shook her frame, while she sought to draw from the servant that
last message of her husband which she was never to hear, was not thought
worthy even of the rights of common humanity.

The first volume of the 'Memoir' came out in 1830.  Then for the first
time came one flash of lightning from the silent cloud; and she who had
never spoken before spoke out.  The libels on the memory of her dead
parents drew from her what her own wrongs never did.  During all this
time, while her husband had been keeping her effigy dangling before the
public as a mark for solemn curses, and filthy lampoons, and secretly-
circulated disclosures, that spared no sacredness and violated every
decorum, she had not uttered a word.  She had been subjected to nameless
insults, discussed in the assemblies of drunkards, and challenged to
speak for herself.  Like the chaste lady in 'Comus,' whom the vile wizard
had bound in the enchanted seat to be 'grinned at and chattered at' by
all the filthy rabble of his dehumanised rout, she had remained pure,
lofty, and undefiled; and the stains of mud and mire thrown upon her had
fallen from her spotless garments.

Now that she is dead, a recent writer in 'The London Quarterly' dares
give voice to an insinuation which even Byron gave only a suggestion of
when he called his wife Clytemnestra; and hints that she tried the power
of youth and beauty to win to her the young solicitor Lushington, and a
handsome young officer of high rank.

At this time, such insinuations had not been thought of; and the only and
chief allegation against Lady Byron had been a cruel severity of virtue.

At all events, when Lady Byron spoke, the world listened with respect,
and believed what she said.

Here let us, too, read her statement, and give it the careful attention
she solicits (Moore's 'Life of Byron,' vol. vi. p.275):--

   'I have disregarded various publications in which facts within my own
   knowledge have been grossly misrepresented; but I am called upon to
   notice some of the erroneous statements proceeding from one who claims
   to be considered as Lord Byron's confidential and authorised friend.
   Domestic details ought not to be intruded on the public attention: if,
   however, they are so intruded, the persons affected by them have a
   right to refute injurious charges.  Mr. Moore has promulgated his own
   impressions of private events in which I was most nearly concerned, as
   if he possessed a competent knowledge of the subject.  Having survived
   Lord Byron, I feel increased reluctance to advert to any circumstances
   connected with the period of my marriage; nor is it now my intention
   to disclose them further than may be indispensably requisite for the
   end I have in view.  Self-vindication is not the motive which actuates
   me to make this appeal, and the spirit of accusation is unmingled with
   it; but when the conduct of my parents is brought forward in a
   disgraceful light by the passages selected from Lord Byron's letters,
   and by the remarks of his biographer, I feel bound to justify their
   characters from imputations which I know to be false.  The passages
   from Lord Byron's letters, to which I refer, are,--the aspersion on my
   mother's character (p.648, l.4): {70a} "My child is very well and
   flourishing, I hear; but I must see also.  I feel no disposition to
   resign it to the contagion of its grandmother's society."  The
   assertion of her dishonourable conduct in employing a spy (p.645, l.7,
   etc.): "A Mrs. C. (now a kind of housekeeper and spy of Lady N's),
   who, in her better days, was a washerwoman, is supposed to be--by the
   learned--very much the occult cause of our domestic discrepancies."
   The seeming exculpation of myself in the extract (p.646), with the
   words immediately following it, "Her nearest relations are a---;"
   where the blank clearly implies something too offensive for
   publication.  These passages tend to throw suspicion on my parents,
   and give reason to ascribe the separation either to their direct
   agency, or to that of "officious spies" employed by them. {70b}  From
   the following part of the narrative (p.642), it must also be inferred
   that an undue influence was exercised by them for the accomplishment
   of this purpose: "It was in a few weeks after the latter communication
   between us (Lord Byron and Mr. Moore) that Lady Byron adopted the
   determination of parting from him.  She had left London at the latter
   end of January, on a visit to her father's house in Leicestershire;
   and Lord Byron was in a short time to follow her.  They had parted in
   the utmost kindness, she wrote him a letter, full of playfulness and
   affection, on the road; and, immediately on her arrival at Kirkby
   Mallory, her father wrote to acquaint Lord Byron that she would return
   to him no more."

   'In my observations upon this statement, I shall, as far as possible,
   avoid touching on any matters relating personally to Lord Byron and
   myself.  The facts are,--I left London for Kirkby Mallory, the
   residence of my father and mother, on the 15th of January, 1816.  Lord
   Byron had signified to me in writing (Jan. 6) his absolute desire that
   I should leave London on the earliest day that I could conveniently
   fix.  It was not safe for me to undertake the fatigue of a journey
   sooner than the 15th.  Previously to my departure, it had been
   strongly impressed on my mind that Lord Byron was under the influence
   of insanity.  This opinion was derived in a great measure from the
   communications made to me by his nearest relatives and personal
   attendant, who had more opportunities than myself of observing him
   during the latter part of my stay in town.  It was even represented to
   me that he was in danger of destroying himself.  With the concurrence
   of his family, I had consulted Dr. Baillie, as a friend (Jan. 8),
   respecting this supposed malady.  On acquainting him with the state of
   the case, and with Lord Byron's desire that I should leave London, Dr.
   Baillie thought that my absence might be advisable as an experiment,
   assuming the fact of mental derangement; for Dr. Baillie, not having
   had access to Lord Byron, could not pronounce a positive opinion on
   that point.  He enjoined that, in correspondence with Lord Byron, I
   should avoid all but light and soothing topics.  Under these
   impressions I left London, determined to follow the advice given by
   Dr. Baillie.  Whatever might have been the nature of Lord Byron's
   conduct towards me from the time of my marriage, yet, supposing him to
   be in a state of mental alienation, it was not for me, nor for any
   person of common humanity, to manifest at that moment a sense of
   injury.  On the day of my departure, and again on my arrival at Kirkby
   (Jan. 16), I wrote to Lord Byron in a kind and cheerful tone,
   according to those medical directions.

   'The last letter was circulated, and employed as a pretext for the
   charge of my having been subsequently influenced to "desert" {72} my
   husband.  It has been argued that I parted from Lord Byron in perfect
   harmony; that feelings incompatible with any deep sense of injury had
   dictated the letter which I addressed to him; and that my sentiments
   must have been changed by persuasion and interference when I was under
   the roof of my parents.  These assertions and inferences are wholly
   destitute of foundation.  When I arrived at Kirkby Mallory, my parents
   were unacquainted with the existence of any causes likely to destroy
   my prospects of happiness; and, when I communicated to them the
   opinion which had been formed concerning Lord Byron's state of mind,
   they were most anxious to promote his restoration by every means in
   their power.  They assured those relations who were with him in
   London, that "they would devote their whole care and attention to the
   alleviation of his malady;" and hoped to make the best arrangements
   for his comfort if he could be induced to visit them.

   'With these intentions, my mother wrote on the 17th to Lord Byron,
   inviting him to Kirkby Mallory.  She had always treated him with an
   affectionate consideration and indulgence, which extended to every
   little peculiarity of his feelings.  Never did an irritating word
   escape her lips in her whole intercourse with him.  The accounts given
   me after I left Lord Byron, by the persons in constant intercourse
   with him, added to those doubts which had before transiently occurred
   to my mind as to the reality of the alleged disease; and the reports
   of his medical attendant were far from establishing the existence of
   anything like lunacy.  Under this uncertainty, I deemed it right to
   communicate to my parents, that, if I were to consider Lord Byron's
   past conduct as that of a person of sound mind, nothing could induce
   me to return to him.  It therefore appeared expedient, both to them
   and myself, to consult the ablest advisers.  For that object, and also
   to obtain still further information respecting the appearances which
   seemed to indicate mental derangement, my mother determined to go to
   London.  She was empowered by me to take legal opinions on a written
   statement of mine, though I had then reasons for reserving a part of
   the case from the knowledge even of my father and mother.  Being
   convinced by the result of these inquiries, and by the tenor of Lord
   Byron's proceedings, that the notion of insanity was an illusion, I no
   longer hesitated to authorise such measures as were necessary in order
   to secure me from being ever again placed in his power.  Conformably
   with this resolution, my father wrote to him on the 2nd of February to
   propose an amicable separation.  Lord Byron at first rejected this
   proposal; but when it was distinctly notified to him that, if he
   persisted in his refusal, recourse must be had to legal measures, he
   agreed to sign a deed of separation.  Upon applying to Dr. Lushington,
   who was intimately acquainted with all the circumstances, to state in
   writing what he recollected upon this subject, I received from him the
   following letter, by which it will be manifest that my mother cannot
   have been actuated by any hostile or ungenerous motives towards Lord

   '"MY DEAR LADY BYRON,--I can rely upon the accuracy of my memory for
   the following statement.  I was originally consulted by Lady Noel, on
   your behalf, whilst you were in the country.  The circumstances
   detailed by her were such as justified a separation; but they were not
   of that aggravated description as to render such a measure
   indispensable.  On Lady Noel's representation, I deemed a
   reconciliation with Lord Byron practicable, and felt most sincerely a
   wish to aid in effecting it.  There was not on Lady Noel's part any
   exaggeration of the facts; nor, so far as I could perceive, any
   determination to prevent a return to Lord Byron: certainly none was
   expressed when I spoke of a reconciliation.  When you came to town, in
   about a fortnight, or perhaps more, after my first interview with Lady
   Noel, I was for the first time informed by you of facts utterly
   unknown, as I have no doubt, to Sir Ralph and Lady Noel.  On receiving
   this additional information, my opinion was entirely changed: I
   considered a reconciliation impossible.  I declared my opinion, and
   added, that, if such an idea should be entertained, I could not,
   either professionally or otherwise, take any part towards effecting

                         '"Believe me, very faithfully yours,

                              '"STEPH. LUSHINGTON.

   '"Great George Street, Jan. 31, 1830."

   'I have only to observe, that, if the statements on which my legal
   advisers (the late Sir Samuel Romilly and Dr. Lushington) formed their
   opinions were false, the responsibility and the odium should rest with
   me only.  I trust that the facts which I have here briefly
   recapitulated will absolve my father and mother from all accusations
   with regard to the part they took in the separation between Lord Byron
   and myself.

   'They neither originated, instigated, nor advised that separation; and
   they cannot be condemned for having afforded to their daughter the
   assistance and protection which she claimed.  There is no other near
   relative to vindicate their memory from insult.  I am therefore
   compelled to break the silence which I had hoped always to observe,
   and to solicit from the readers of Lord Byron's "Life" an impartial
   consideration of the testimony extorted from me.

                                   'A. I. NOEL BYRON.

   'Hanger Hill, Feb. 19, 1830.'

The effect of this statement on the literary world may be best judged by
the discussion of it by Christopher North (Wilson) in the succeeding May
number of 'The Noctes,' where the bravest and most generous of literary
men that then were--himself the husband of a gentle wife--thus gives
sentence: the conversation is between North and the Shepherd:--

   North.--'God forbid I should wound the feelings of Lady Byron, of
   whose character, known to me but by the high estimation in which it is
   held by all who have enjoyed her friendship, I have always spoken with
   respect! . . .  But may I, without harshness or indelicacy, say, here
   among ourselves, James, that, by marrying Byron, she took upon
   herself, with eyes wide open and conscience clearly convinced, duties
   very different from those of which, even in common cases, the
   presaging foresight shadows. . . the light of the first nuptial moon?'

   Shepherd.--'She did that, sir; by my troth, she did that.'

                     .          .          .          .

   North.--'Miss Milbanke knew that he was reckoned a rake and a roue;
   and although his genius wiped off, by impassioned eloquence in love-
   letters that were felt to be irresistible, or hid the worst stain of,
   that reproach, still Miss Milbanke must have believed it a perilous
   thing to be the wife of Lord Byron. . . .  But still, by joining her
   life to his in marriage, she pledged her troth and her faith and her
   love, under probabilities of severe, disturbing, perhaps fearful
   trials, in the future. . . .

   'But I think Lady Byron ought not to have printed that Narrative.
   Death abrogates not the rights of a husband to his wife's silence when
   speech is fatal. . . to his character as a man.  Has she not flung
   suspicion over his bones interred, that they are the bones of
   a--monster? . . .  If Byron's sins or crimes--for we are driven to use
   terrible terms--were unendurable and unforgivable as if against the
   Holy Ghost, ought the wheel, the rack, or the stake to have extorted
   that confession from his widow's breast? . . .  But there was no such
   pain here, James: the declaration was voluntary, and it was calm.  Self-
   collected, and gathering up all her faculties and feelings into
   unshrinking strength, she denounced before all the world--and
   throughout all space and all time--her husband, as excommunicated by
   his vices from woman's bosom.

                     .          .          .          .

   ''Twas to vindicate the character of her parents that Lady Byron
   wrote,--a holy purpose and devout, nor do I doubt sincere.  But filial
   affection and reverence, sacred as they are, may be blamelessly, nay,
   righteously, subordinate to conjugal duties, which die not with the
   dead, are extinguished not even by the sins of the dead, were they as
   foul as the grave's corruption.'

Here is what John Stuart Mill calls the literature of slavery for woman,
in length and breadth; and, that all women may understand the doctrine,
the Shepherd now takes up his parable, and expounds the true position of
the wife.  We render his Scotch into English:--

   'Not a few such widows do I know, whom brutal, profligate, and savage
   husbands have brought to the brink of the grave,--as good, as bright,
   as innocent as, and far more forgiving than, Lady Byron.  There they
   sit in their obscure, rarely-visited dwellings; for sympathy
   instructed by suffering knows well that the deepest and most hopeless
   misery is least given to complaint.'

Then follows a pathetic picture of one such widow, trembling and fainting
for hunger, obliged, on her way to the well for a can of water, her only
drink, to sit down on a 'knowe' and say a prayer.

   'Yet she's decently, yea, tidily dressed, poor creature! in sair worn
   widow's clothes, a single suit for Saturday and Sunday; her hair,
   untimely gray, is neatly braided under her crape cap; and sometimes,
   when all is still and solitary in the fields, and all labour has
   disappeared into the house, you may see her stealing by herself, or
   leading one wee orphan by the hand, with another at her breast, to the
   kirkyard, where the love of her youth and the husband of her prime is

   'Yet,' says the Shepherd, 'he was a brute, a ruffian, a monster.  When
   drunk, how he raged and cursed and swore!  Often did she dread that,
   in his fits of inhuman passion, he would have murdered the baby at her
   breast; for she had seen him dash their only little boy, a child of
   eight years old, on the floor, till the blood gushed from his ears;
   and then the madman threw himself down on the body, and howled for the
   gallows.  Limmers haunted his door, and he theirs; and it was hers to
   lie, not sleep, in a cold, forsaken bed, once the bed of peace,
   affection, and perfect happiness.  Often he struck her; and once when
   she was pregnant with that very orphan now smiling on her breast,
   reaching out his wee fingers to touch the flowers on his father's
   grave. . . .

   'But she tries to smile among the neighbours, and speaks of her boy's
   likeness to its father; nor, when the conversation turns on bygone
   times, does she fear to let his name escape her white lips, "My
   Robert; the bairn's not ill-favoured, but he will never look like his
   father,"--and such sayings, uttered in a calm, sweet voice.  Nay, I
   remember once how her pale countenance reddened with a sudden flush of
   pride, when a gossiping crone alluded to their wedding; and the
   widow's eye brightened through her tears to hear how the bridegroom,
   sitting that sabbath in his front seat beside his bonny bride, had not
   his equal for strength, stature, and all that is beauty in man, in all
   the congregation.  That, I say, sir, whether right or wrong,

Here is a specimen of how even generous men had been so perverted by the
enchantment of Lord Byron's genius, as to turn all the pathos and power
of the strongest literature of that day against the persecuted, pure
woman, and for the strong, wicked man.  These 'Blackwood' writers knew,
by Byron's own filthy, ghastly writings, which had gone sorely against
their own moral stomachs, that he was foul to the bone.  They could see,
in Moore's 'Memoirs' right before them, how he had caught an innocent
girl's heart by sending a love-letter, and offer of marriage, at the end
of a long friendly correspondence,--a letter that had been written to
show to his libertine set, and sent on the toss-up of a copper, because
he cared nothing for it one way or the other.

They admit that, having won this poor girl, he had been savage, brutal,
drunken, cruel.  They had read the filthy taunts in 'Don Juan,' and the
nameless abominations in the 'Autobiography.'  They had admitted among
themselves that his honour was lost; but still this abused, desecrated
woman must reverence her brutal master's memory, and not speak, even to
defend the grave of her own kind father and mother.

That there was no lover of her youth, that the marriage-vow had been a
hideous, shameless cheat, is on the face of Moore's account; yet the
'Blackwood' does not see it nor feel it, and brings up against Lady Byron
this touching story of a poor widow, who really had had a true lover
once,--a lover maddened, imbruted, lost, through that very drunkenness in
which the Noctes Club were always glorying.

It is because of such transgressors as Byron, such supporters as Moore
and the Noctes Club, that there are so many helpless, cowering, broken-
hearted, abject women, given over to the animal love which they share
alike with the poor dog,--the dog, who, beaten, kicked, starved, and
cuffed, still lies by his drunken master with great anxious eyes of love
and sorrow, and with sweet, brute forgiveness nestles upon his bosom, as
he lies in his filth in the snowy ditch, to keep the warmth of life in
him.  Great is the mystery of this fidelity in the poor, loving
brute,--most mournful and most sacred

But, oh that a noble man should have no higher ideal of the love of a
high-souled, heroic woman!  Oh that men should teach women that they owe
no higher duties, and are capable of no higher tenderness, than this
loving, unquestioning animal fidelity!  The dog is ever-loving,
ever-forgiving, because God has given him no high range of moral
faculties, no sense of justice, no consequent horror at impurity and

Much of the beautiful patience and forgiveness of women is made possible
to them by that utter deadness to the sense of justice which the laws,
literature, and misunderstood religion of England have sought to induce
in woman as a special grace and virtue.

The lesson to woman in this pathetic piece of special pleading is, that
man may sink himself below the brute, may wallow in filth like the swine,
may turn his home into a hell, beat and torture his children, forsake the
marriage-bed for foul rivals; yet all this does not dissolve the marriage-
vow on her part, nor free his bounden serf from her obligation to honour
his memory,--nay, to sacrifice to it the honour due to a kind father and
mother, slandered in their silent graves.

Such was the sympathy, and such the advice, that the best literature of
England could give to a young widow, a peeress of England, whose husband,
as they verily believed and admitted, might have done worse than all
this; whose crimes might have been 'foul, monstrous, unforgivable as the
sin against the Holy Ghost.'  If these things be done in the green tree,
what shall be done in the dry?  If the peeress as a wife has no rights,
what is the state of the cotter's wife?

But, in the same paper, North again blames Lady Byron for not having come
out with the whole story before the world at the time she separated from
her husband.  He says of the time when she first consulted counsel
through her mother, keeping back one item,--

   'How weak, and worse than weak, at such a juncture, on which hung her
   whole fate, to ask legal advice on an imperfect document!  Give the
   delicacy of a virtuous woman its due; but at such a crisis, when the
   question was whether her conscience was to be free from the oath of
   oaths, delicacy should have died, and nature was privileged to show
   unashamed--if such there were--the records of uttermost pollution.'

   Shepherd.--'And what think ye, sir, that a' this pollution could hae
   been, that sae electrified Dr. Lushington?'

   North.--'Bad--bad--bad, James.  Nameless, it is horrible; named, it
   might leave Byron's memory yet within the range of pity and
   forgiveness; and, where they are, their sister affections will not be
   far; though, like weeping seraphs, standing aloof, and veiling their

   Shepherd.--'She should indeed hae been silent--till the grave had
   closed on her sorrows as on his sins.'

   North.--'Even now she should speak,--or some one else for her,-- . . .
   and a few words will suffice.  Worse the condition of the dead man's
   name cannot be--far, far better it might--I believe it would be--were
   all the truth somehow or other declared; and declared it must be, not
   for Byron's sake only, but for the sake of humanity itself; and then a
   mitigated sentence, or eternal silence.'

We have another discussion of Lady Byron's duties in a further number of

The 'Memoir' being out, it was proposed that there should be a complete
annotation of Byron's works gotten up, and adorned, for the further
glorification of his memory, with portraits of the various women whom he
had delighted to honour.

Murray applied to Lady Byron for her portrait, and was met with a cold,
decided negative.  After reading all the particulars of Byron's harem of
mistresses, and Moore's comparisons between herself and La Guiccioli, one
might imagine reasons why a lady, with proper self-respect, should object
to appearing in this manner.  One would suppose there might have been
gentlemen who could well appreciate the motive of that refusal; but it
was only considered a new evidence that she was indifferent to her
conjugal duties, and wanting in that respect which Christopher North had
told her she owed a husband's memory, though his crimes were foul as the
rottenness of the grave.

Never, since Queen Vashti refused to come at the command of a drunken
husband to show herself to his drunken lords, was there a clearer case of
disrespect to the marital dignity on the part of a wife.  It was a plain
act of insubordination, rebellion against law and order; and how shocking
in Lady Byron, who ought to feel herself but too much flattered to be
exhibited to the public as the head wife of a man of genius!

Means were at once adopted to subdue her contumacy, of which one may read
in a note to the 'Blackwood' (Noctes), September 1832.  An artist was
sent down to Ealing to take her picture by stealth as she sat in church.
Two sittings were thus obtained without her knowledge.  In the third one,
the artist placed himself boldly before her, and sketched, so that she
could not but observe him.  We shall give the rest in Mackenzie's own
words, as a remarkable specimen of the obtuseness, not to say indelicacy
of feeling, which seemed to pervade the literary circles of England at
the time:--

   'After prayers, Wright and his friend (the artist) were visited by an
   ambassador from her ladyship to inquire the meaning of what she had
   seen.  The reply was, that Mr. Murray must have her portrait, and was
   compelled to take what she refused to give.  The result was, Wright
   was requested to visit her, which he did; taking with him, not the
   sketch, which was very good, but another, in which there was a strong
   touch of caricature.  Rather than allow that to appear as her likeness
   (a very natural and womanly feeling by the way), she consented to sit
   for the portrait to W. J. Newton, which was engraved, and is here
   alluded to.'

The artless barbarism of this note is too good to be lost; but it is
quite borne out by the conversation in the Noctes Club, which it

It would appear from this conversation that these Byron beauties appeared
successively in pamphlet form; and the picture of Lady Byron is thus

   Mullion.--'I don't know if you have seen the last brochure.  It has a
   charming head of Lady Byron, who, it seems, sat on purpose: and that's
   very agreeable to hear of; for it shows her ladyship has got over any
   little soreness that Moore's "Life" occasioned, and is now willing to
   contribute anything in her power to the real monument of Byron's

   North.--'I am delighted to hear of this: 'tis really very noble in the
   unfortunate lady.  I never saw her.  Is the face a striking one?'

   Mullion.--'Eminently so,--a most calm, pensive, melancholy style of
   native beauty,--and a most touching contrast to the maids of Athens,
   Annesley, and all the rest of them.  I'm sure you'll have the proof
   Finden has sent you framed for the Boudoir at the Lodge.'

   North.--'By all means.  I mean to do that for all the Byron Beauties.'

But it may be asked, Was there not a man in all England with delicacy
enough to feel for Lady Byron, and chivalry enough to speak a bold word
for her?  Yes: there was one.  Thomas Campbell the poet, when he read
Lady Byron's statement, believed it, as did Christopher North; but it
affected him differently.  It appears he did not believe it a wife's duty
to burn herself on her husband's funeral-pile, as did Christopher North;
and held the singular idea, that a wife had some rights as a human being
as well as a husband.

Lady Byron's own statement appeared in pamphlet form in 1830: at least,
such is the date at the foot of the document.  Thomas Campbell, in 'The
New Monthly Magazine,' shortly after, printed a spirited, gentlemanly
defence of Lady Byron, and administered a pointed rebuke to Moore for the
rudeness and indelicacy he had shown in selecting from Byron's letters
the coarsest against herself, her parents, and her old governess Mrs.
Clermont, and by the indecent comparisons he had instituted between Lady
Byron and Lord Byron's last mistress.

It is refreshing to hear, at last, from somebody who is not altogether on
his knees at the feet of the popular idol, and who has some chivalry for
woman, and some idea of common humanity.  He says,--

   'I found my right to speak on this painful subject on its now
   irrevocable publicity, brought up afresh as it has been by Mr. Moore,
   to be the theme of discourse to millions, and, if I err not much, the
   cause of misconception to innumerable minds.  I claim to speak of Lady
   Byron in the right of a man, and of a friend to the rights of woman,
   and to liberty, and to natural religion.  I claim a right, more
   especially, as one of the many friends of Lady Byron, who, one and
   all, feel aggrieved by this production.  It has virtually dragged her
   forward from the shade of retirement, where she had hid her sorrows,
   and compelled her to defend the heads of her friends and her parents
   from being crushed under the tombstone of Byron.  Nay, in a general
   view, it has forced her to defend herself; though, with her true sense
   and her pure taste, she stands above all special pleading.  To plenary
   explanation she ought not--she never shall be driven.  Mr. Moore is
   too much a gentleman not to shudder at the thought of that; but if
   other Byronists, of a far different stamp, were to force the savage
   ordeal, it is her enemies, and not she, that would have to dread the
   burning ploughshares.

   'We, her friends, have no wish to prolong the discussion: but a few
   words we must add, even to her admirable statement; for hers is a
   cause not only dear to her friends, but having become, from Mr. Moore
   and her misfortunes, a publicly-agitated cause, it concerns morality,
   and the most sacred rights of the sex, that she should (and that, too,
   without more special explanations) be acquitted out and out, and
   honourably acquitted, in this business, of all share in the blame,
   which is one and indivisible.  Mr. Moore, on further reflection, may
   see this; and his return to candour will surprise us less than his
   momentary deviation from its path.

   'For the tact of Mr. Moore's conduct in this affair, I have not to
   answer; but, if indelicacy be charged upon me, I scorn the charge.
   Neither will I submit to be called Lord Byron's accuser; because a
   word against him I wish not to say beyond what is painfully wrung from
   me by the necessity of owning or illustrating Lady Byron's
   unblamableness, and of repelling certain misconceptions respecting
   her, which are now walking the fashionable world, and which have been
   fostered (though Heaven knows where they were born) most delicately
   and warily by the Christian godfathership of Mr. Moore.

   'I write not at Lady Byron's bidding.  I have never humiliated either
   her or myself by asking if I should write, or what I should write;
   that is to say, I never applied to her for information against Lord
   Byron, though I was justified, as one intending to criticise Mr.
   Moore, in inquiring into the truth of some of his statements.  Neither
   will I suffer myself to be called her champion, if by that word be
   meant the advocate of her mere legal innocence; for that, I take it,
   nobody questions.

   'Still less is it from the sorry impulse of pity that I speak of this
   noble woman; for I look with wonder and even envy at the proud purity
   of her sense and conscience, that have carried her exquisite
   sensibilities in triumph through such poignant tribulations.  But I am
   proud to be called her friend, the humble illustrator of her cause,
   and the advocate of those principles which make it to me more
   interesting than Lord Byron's.  Lady Byron (if the subject must be
   discussed) belongs to sentiment and morality (at least as much as Lord
   Byron); nor is she to be suffered, when compelled to speak, to raise
   her voice as in a desert, with no friendly voice to respond to her.
   Lady Byron could not have outlived her sufferings if she had not wound
   up her fortitude to the high point of trusting mainly for consolation,
   not to the opinion of the world, but to her own inward peace; and,
   having said what ought to convince the world, I verily believe that
   she has less care about the fashionable opinion respecting her than
   any of her friends can have.  But we, her friends, mix with the world;
   and we hear offensive absurdities about her, which we have a right to
   put down.

                     .          .          .          .

   'I proceed to deal more generally with Mr. Moore's book.  You speak,
   Mr. Moore, against Lord Byron's censurers in a tone of indignation
   which is perfectly lawful towards calumnious traducers, but which will
   not terrify me, or any other man of courage who is no calumniator,
   from uttering his mind freely with regard to this part of your hero's
   conduct.  I question your philosophy in assuming that all that is
   noble in Byron's poetry was inconsistent with the possibility of his
   being devoted to a pure and good woman; and I repudiate your morality
   for canting too complacently about "the lava of his imagination," and
   the unsettled fever of his passions, being any excuses for his
   planting the tic douloureux of domestic suffering in a meek woman's

   'These are hard words, Mr. Moore; but you have brought them on
   yourself by your voluntary ignorance of facts known to me; for you
   might and ought to have known both sides of the question; and, if the
   subject was too delicate for you to consult Lady Byron's confidential
   friends, you ought to have had nothing to do with the subject.  But
   you cannot have submitted your book even to Lord Byron's sister,
   otherwise she would have set you right about the imaginary spy, Mrs.

Campbell now goes on to print, at his own peril, he says, and without
time to ask leave, the following note from Lady Byron in reply to an
application he made to her, when he was about to review Moore's book, for
an 'estimate as to the correctness of Moore's statements.'

The following is Lady Byron's reply:--

   'DEAR MR. CAMPBELL,--In taking up my pen to point out for your private
   information {86} those passages in Mr. Moore's representation of my
   part of the story which were open to contradiction, I find them of
   still greater extent than I had supposed; and to deny an assertion
   here and there would virtually admit the truth of the rest.  If, on
   the contrary, I were to enter into a full exposure of the falsehood of
   the views taken by Mr. Moore, I must detail various matters, which,
   consistently with my principles and feelings, I cannot under the
   existing circumstances disclose.  I may, perhaps, convince you better
   of the difficulty of the case by an example: It is not true that
   pecuniary embarrassments were the cause of the disturbed state of Lord
   Byron's mind, or formed the chief reason for the arrangements made by
   him at that time.  But is it reasonable for me to expect that you or
   any one else should believe this, unless I show you what were the
   causes in question? and this I cannot do.

                        'I am, etc.,

                                    'A. I. NOEL BYRON.'

Campbell then goes on to reprove Moore for his injustice to Mrs.
Clermont, whom Lord Byron had denounced as a spy, but whose
respectability and innocence were vouched for by Lord Byron's own family;
and then he pointedly rebukes one false statement of great indelicacy and
cruelty concerning Lady Byron's courtship, as follows:--

   'It is a further mistake on Mr. Moore's part, and I can prove it to be
   so, if proof be necessary, to represent Lady Byron, in the course of
   their courtship, as one inviting her future husband to correspondence
   by letters after she had at first refused him.  She never proposed a
   correspondence.  On the contrary, he sent her a message after that
   first refusal, stating that he meant to go abroad, and to travel for
   some years in the East; that he should depart with a heart aching, but
   not angry; and that he only begged a verbal assurance that she had
   still some interest in his happiness.  Could Miss Milbanke, as a well-
   bred woman, refuse a courteous answer to such a message?  She sent him
   a verbal answer, which was merely kind and becoming, but which
   signified no encouragement that he should renew his offer of marriage.

   'After that message, he wrote to her a most interesting letter about
   himself,--about his views, personal, moral, and religious,--to which
   it would have been uncharitable not to have replied.  The result was
   an insensibly increasing correspondence, which ended in her being
   devotedly attached to him.  About that time, I occasionally saw Lord
   Byron; and though I knew less of him than Mr. Moore, yet I suspect I
   knew as much of him as Miss Milbanke then knew.  At that time, he was
   so pleasing, that, if I had had a daughter with ample fortune and
   beauty, I should have trusted her in marriage with Lord Byron.

   'Mr. Moore at that period evidently understood Lord Byron better than
   either his future bride or myself; but this speaks more for Moore's
   shrewdness than for Byron's ingenuousness of character.

   'It is more for Lord Byron's sake than for his widow's that I resort
   not to a more special examination of Mr. Moore's misconceptions.  The
   subject would lead me insensibly into hateful disclosures against poor
   Lord Byron, who is more unfortunate in his rash defenders than in his
   reluctant accusers.  Happily, his own candour turns our hostility from
   himself against his defenders.  It was only in wayward and bitter
   remarks that he misrepresented Lady Byron.  He would have defended
   himself irresistibly if Mr. Moore had left only his acknowledging
   passages.  But Mr. Moore has produced a "Life" of him which reflects
   blame on Lady Byron so dexterously, that "more is meant than meets the
   ear."  The almost universal impression produced by his book is, that
   Lady Byron must be a precise and a wan, unwarming spirit, a
   blue-stocking of chilblained learning, a piece of insensitive

   'Who that knows Lady Byron will not pronounce her to be everything the
   reverse?  Will it be believed that this person, so unsuitably matched
   to her moody lord, has written verses that would do no discredit to
   Byron himself; that her sensitiveness is surpassed and bounded only by
   her good sense; and that she is

   '"Blest with a temper, whose unclouded ray
   Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day"?

   'She brought to Lord Byron beauty, manners, fortune, meekness,
   romantic affection, and everything that ought to have made her to the
   most transcendent man of genius--had he been what he should have
   been--his pride and his idol.  I speak not of Lady Byron in the
   commonplace manner of attesting character: I appeal to the gifted Mrs.
   Siddons and Joanna Baillie, to Lady Charlemont, and to other ornaments
   of their sex, whether I am exaggerating in the least when I say, that,
   in their whole lives, they have seen few beings so intellectual and
   well-tempered as Lady Byron.

   'I wish to be as ingenuous as possible in speaking of her.  Her
   manner, I have no hesitation to say, is cool at the first interview,
   but is modestly, and not insolently, cool: she contracted it, I
   believe, from being exposed by her beauty and large fortune, in youth,
   to numbers of suitors, whom she could not have otherwise kept at a
   distance.  But this manner could have had no influence with Lord
   Byron; for it vanishes on nearer acquaintance, and has no origin in
   coldness.  All her friends like her frankness the better for being
   preceded by this reserve.  This manner, however, though not the
   slightest apology for Lord Byron, has been inimical to Lady Byron in
   her misfortunes.  It endears her to her friends; but it piques the
   indifferent.  Most odiously unjust, therefore, is Mr. Moore's
   assertion, that she has had the advantage of Lord Byron in public
   opinion.  She is, comparatively speaking, unknown to the world; for
   though she has many friends, that is, a friend in everyone who knows
   her, yet her pride and purity and misfortunes naturally contract the
   circle of her acquaintance.

   'There is something exquisitely unjust in Mr. Moore comparing her
   chance of popularity with Lord Byron's, the poet who can command men
   of talents,--putting even Mr. Moore into the livery of his
   service,--and who has suborned the favour of almost all women by the
   beauty of his person and the voluptuousness of his verses.  Lady Byron
   has nothing to oppose to these fascinations but the truth and justice
   of her cause.

   'You said, Mr. Moore, that Lady Byron was unsuitable to her lord: the
   word is cunningly insidious, and may mean as much or as little as may
   suit your convenience.  But, if she was unsuitable, I remark that it
   tells all the worse against Lord Byron.  I have not read it in your
   book (for I hate to wade through it); but they tell me that you have
   not only warily depreciated Lady Byron, but that you have described a
   lady that would have suited him.  If this be true, "it is the
   unkindest cut of all,"--to hold up a florid description of a woman
   suitable to Lord Byron, as if in mockery over the forlorn flower of
   virtue that was drooping in the solitude of sorrow.

   'But I trust there is no such passage in your book.  Surely you must
   be conscious of your woman, with her 'virtue loose about her, who
   would have suited Lord Byron," to be as imaginary a being as the woman
   without a head.  A woman to suit Lord Byron!  Poo, poo!  I could paint
   to you the woman that could have matched him, if I had not bargained
   to say as little as possible against him.

   'If Lady Byron was not suitable to Lord Byron, so much the worse for
   his lordship; for let me tell you, Mr. Moore, that neither your
   poetry, nor Lord Byron's, nor all our poetry put together, ever
   delineated a more interesting being than the woman whom you have so
   coldly treated.  This was not kicking the dead lion, but wounding the
   living lamb, who was already bleeding and shorn, even unto the quick.
   I know, that, collectively speaking, the world is in Lady Byron's
   favour; but it is coldly favourable, and you have not warmed its
   breath.  Time, however, cures everything; and even your book, Mr.
   Moore, may be the means of Lady Byron's character being better

                                  'THOMAS CAMPBELL.'

Here is what seems to be a gentlemanly, high-spirited, chivalric man,
throwing down his glove in the lists for a pure woman.

What was the consequence?  Campbell was crowded back, thrust down,
overwhelmed, his eyes filled with dust, his mouth with ashes.

There was a general confusion and outcry, which reacted both on him and
on Lady Byron.  Her friends were angry with him for having caused this re-
action upon her; and he found himself at once attacked by Lady Byron's
enemies, and deserted by her friends.  All the literary authorities of
his day took up against him with energy.  Christopher North, professor of
moral philosophy in the Edinburgh University, in a fatherly talk in 'The
Noctes,' condemns Campbell, and justifies Moore, and heartily recommends
his 'Biography,' as containing nothing materially objectionable on the
score either of manners or morals.  Thus we have it in 'The Noctes' of
May 1830:--

   'Mr. Moore's biographical book I admired; and I said so to my little
   world, in two somewhat lengthy articles, which many approved, and
   some, I am sorry to know, condemned.'

On the point in question between Moore and Campbell, North goes on to
justify Moore altogether, only admitting that 'it would have been better
had he not printed any coarse expression of Byron's about the old
people;' and, finally, he closes by saying,--

   'I do not think that, under the circumstances, Mr. Campbell himself,
   had he written Byron's "Life," could have spoken, with the sentiments
   he then held, in a better, more manly, and more gentlemanly spirit, in
   so far as regards Lady Byron, than Mr. Moore did: and I am sorry he
   has been deterred from "swimming" through Mr. Moore's work by the fear
   of "wading;" for the waters are clear and deep; nor is there any mud,
   either at the bottom or round the margin.'

Of the conduct of Lady Byron's so-called friends on this occasion it is
more difficult to speak.

There has always been in England, as John Stuart Mill says, a class of
women who glory in the utter self-abnegation of the wife to the husband,
as the special crown of womanhood.  Their patron saint is the Griselda of
Chaucer, who, when her husband humiliates her, and treats her as a brute,
still accepts all with meek, unquestioning, uncomplaining devotion.  He
tears her from her children; he treats her with personal abuse; he
repudiates her,--sends her out to nakedness and poverty; he installs
another mistress in his house, and sends for the first to be her handmaid
and his own: and all this the meek saint accepts in the words of Milton,--

      'My guide and head,
   What thou hast said is just and right.'

Accordingly, Miss Martineau tells us that when Campbell's defence came
out, coupled with a note from Lady Byron,--

   'The first obvious remark was, that there was no real disclosure; and
   the whole affair had the appearance of a desire, on the part of Lady
   Byron, to exculpate herself, while yet no adequate information was
   given.  Many, who had regarded her with favour till then, gave her up
   so far as to believe that feminine weakness had prevailed at last.'

The saint had fallen from her pedestal! She had shown a human frailty!
Quite evidently she is not a Griselda, but possessed with a shocking
desire to exculpate herself and her friends.

Is it, then, only to slandered men that the privilege belongs of desiring
to exculpate themselves and their families and their friends from unjust

Lord Byron had made it a life-long object to vilify and defame his wife.
He had used for that one particular purpose every talent that he
possessed.  He had left it as a last charge to Moore to pursue the
warfare after death, which Moore had done to some purpose; and
Christopher North had informed Lady Byron that her private affairs were
discussed, not only with the whisky-toddy of the Noctes Club, but in
every drawing-room in May Fair; and declared that the 'Dear Duck' letter,
and various other matters, must be explained, and urged somebody to
speak; and then, when Campbell does speak with all the energy of a real
gentleman, a general outcry and an indiscriminate melee is the result.

The world, with its usual injustice, insisted on attributing Campbell's
defence to Lady Byron.

The reasons for this seemed to be, first, that Campbell states that he
did not ask Lady Byron's leave, and that she did not authorise him to
defend her; and, second, that, having asked some explanations from her,
he prints a note in which she declines to give any.

We know not how a lady could more gently yet firmly decline to make a
gentleman her confidant than in this published note of Lady Byron; and
yet, to this day, Campbell is spoken of by the world as having been Lady
Byron's confidant at this time.  This simply shows how very trustworthy
are the general assertions about Lady Byron's confidants.

The final result of the matter, so far as Campbell was concerned, is
given in Miss Martineau's sketch, in the following paragraph:--

   'The whole transaction was one of poor Campbell's freaks.  He excused
   himself by saying it was a mistake of his; that he did not know what
   he was about when he published the paper.'

It is the saddest of all sad things to see a man, who has spoken from
moral convictions, in advance of his day, and who has taken a stand for
which he ought to honour himself, thus forced down and humiliated, made
to doubt his own better nature and his own honourable feelings, by the
voice of a wicked world.

Campbell had no steadiness to stand by the truth he saw.  His whole story
is told incidentally in a note to 'The Noctes,' in which it is stated,
that in an article in 'Blackwood,' January 1825, on Scotch poets, the
palm was given to Hogg over Campbell; 'one ground being, that he could
drink "eight and twenty tumblers of punch, while Campbell is hazy upon

There is evidence in 'The Noctes,' that in due time Campbell was
reconciled to Moore, and was always suitably ashamed of having tried to
be any more generous or just than the men of his generation.

And so it was settled as a law to Jacob, and an ordinance in Israel, that
the Byron worship should proceed, and that all the earth should keep
silence before him.  'Don Juan,' that, years before, had been printed by
stealth, without Murray's name on the title-page, that had been denounced
as a book which no woman should read, and had been given up as a
desperate enterprise, now came forth in triumph, with banners flying and
drums beating.  Every great periodical in England that had fired moral
volleys of artillery against it in its early days, now humbly marched in
the glorious procession of admirers to salute this edifying work of

'Blackwood,' which in the beginning had been the most indignantly
virtuous of the whole, now grovelled and ate dust as the serpent in the
very abjectness of submission.  Odoherty (Maginn) declares that he would
rather have written a page of 'Don Juan' than a ton of 'Childe Harold.'
{95a}  Timothy Tickler informs Christopher North that he means to tender
Murray, as Emperor of the North, an interleaved copy {95b} of 'Don Juan,'
with illustrations, as the only work of Byron's he cares much about; and
Christopher North, professor of moral philosophy in Edinburgh, smiles
approval!  We are not, after this, surprised to see the assertion, by a
recent much-aggrieved writer in 'The London Era,' that 'Lord Byron has
been, more than any other man of the age, the teacher of the youth of
England;' and that he has 'seen his works on the bookshelves of bishops'
palaces, no less than on the tables of university undergraduates.'

A note to 'The Noctes' of July 1822 informs us of another instance of
Lord Byron's triumph over English morals:--

   'The mention of this' (Byron's going to Greece) 'reminds me, by the
   by, of what the Guiccioli said in her visit to London, where she was
   so lionised as having been the lady-love of Byron.  She was rather
   fond of speaking on the subject, designating herself by some Venetian
   pet phrase, which she interpreted as meaning "Love-Wife."'

What was Lady Byron to do in such a world?  She retired to the deepest
privacy, and devoted herself to works of charity, and the education of
her only child, that brilliant daughter, to whose eager, opening mind the
whole course of current literature must bring so many trying questions in
regard to the position of her father and mother,--questions that the
mother might not answer.  That the cruel inconsiderateness of the
literary world added thorns to the intricacies of the path trodden by
every mother who seeks to guide, restrain, and educate a strong, acute,
and precociously intelligent child, must easily be seen.

What remains to be said of Lady Byron's life shall be said in the words
of Miss Martineau, published in 'The Atlantic Monthly:'--

   'Her life, thenceforth, was one of unremitting bounty to society
   administered with as much skill and prudence as benevolence.  She
   lived in retirement, changing her abode frequently; partly for the
   benefit of her child's education and the promotion of her benevolent
   schemes, and partly from a restlessness which was one of the few signs
   of injury received from the spoiling of associations with home.

   'She felt a satisfaction which her friends rejoiced in when her
   daughter married Lord King, at present the Earl of Lovelace, in 1835;
   and when grief upon grief followed, in the appearance of mortal
   disease in her only child, her quiet patience stood her in good stead
   as before.  She even found strength to appropriate the blessings of
   the occasion, and took comfort, as did her dying daughter, in the
   intimate friendship, which grew closer as the time of parting drew

   'Lady Lovelace died in 1852; and, for her few remaining years, Lady
   Byron was devoted to her grandchildren.  But nearer calls never
   lessened her interest in remoter objects.  Her mind was of the large
   and clear quality which could comprehend remote interests in their
   true proportions, and achieve each aim as perfectly as if it were the
   only one.  Her agents used to say that it was impossible to mistake
   her directions; and thus her business was usually well done.  There
   was no room, in her case, for the ordinary doubts, censures, and
   sneers about the misapplication of bounty.

   'Her taste did not lie in the "Charity-Ball" direction; her funds were
   not lavished in encouraging hypocrisy and improvidence among the idle
   and worthless; and the quality of her charity was, in fact, as
   admirable as its quantity.  Her chief aim was the extension and
   improvement of popular education; but there was no kind of misery that
   she heard of that she did not palliate to the utmost, and no kind of
   solace that her quick imagination and sympathy could devise that she
   did not administer.

   'In her methods, she united consideration and frankness with singular
   success.  For one instance among a thousand: A lady with whom she had
   had friendly relations some time before, and who became impoverished
   in a quiet way by hopeless sickness, preferred poverty with an easy
   conscience to a competency attended by some uncertainty about the
   perfect rectitude of the resource.  Lady Byron wrote to an
   intermediate person exactly what she thought of the case.  Whether the
   judgment of the sufferer was right or mistaken was nobody's business
   but her own: this was the first point.  Next, a voluntary poverty
   could never be pitied by anybody: that was the second.  But it was
   painful to others to think of the mortification to benevolent feelings
   which attends poverty; and there could be no objection to arresting
   that pain.  Therefore she, Lady Byron, had lodged in a neighbouring
   bank the sum of one hundred pounds, to be used for benevolent
   purposes; and, in order to preclude all outside speculation, she had
   made the money payable to the order of the intermediate person, so
   that the sufferer's name need not appear at all.

   'Five and thirty years of unremitting secret bounty like this must
   make up a great amount of human happiness; but this was only one of a
   wide variety of methods of doing good.  It was the unconcealable
   magnitude of her beneficence, and its wise quality, which made her a
   second time the theme of English conversation in all honest households
   within the four seas.  Years ago, it was said far and wide that Lady
   Byron was doing more good than anybody else in England; and it was
   difficult to imagine how anybody could do more.

   'Lord Byron spent every shilling that the law allowed him out of her
   property while he lived, and left away from her every shilling that he
   could deprive her of by his will; yet she had, eventually, a large
   income at her command.  In the management of it, she showed the same
   wise consideration that marked all her practical decisions.  She
   resolved to spend her whole income, seeing how much the world needed
   help at the moment.  Her care was for the existing generation, rather
   than for a future one, which would have its own friends.  She usually
   declined trammelling herself with annual subscriptions to charities;
   preferring to keep her freedom from year to year, and to achieve
   definite objects by liberal bounty, rather than to extend partial help
   over a large surface which she could not herself superintend.

   'It was her first industrial school that awakened the admiration of
   the public, which had never ceased to take an interest in her, while
   sorely misjudging her character.  We hear much now--and everybody
   hears it with pleasure--of the spread of education in "common things;"
   but long before Miss Coutts inherited her wealth, long before a name
   was found for such a method of training, Lady Byron had instituted the
   thing, and put it in the way of making its own name.

   'She was living at Ealing, in Middlesex, in 1834; and there she opened
   one of the first industrial schools in England, if not the very first.
   She sent out a master to Switzerland, to be instructed in De
   Fellenburgh's method.  She took, on lease, five acres of land, and
   spent several hundred pounds in rendering the buildings upon it fit
   for the purposes of the school.  A liberal education was afforded to
   the children of artisans and labourers during the half of the day when
   they were not employed in the field or garden.  The allotments were
   rented by the boys, who raised and sold produce, which afforded them a
   considerable yearly profit if they were good workmen.  Those who
   worked in the field earned wages; their labour being paid by the hour,
   according to the capability of the young labourer.  They kept their
   accounts of expenditure and receipts, and acquired good habits of
   business while learning the occupation of their lives.  Some
   mechanical trades were taught, as well as the arts of agriculture.

   'Part of the wisdom of the management lay in making the pupils pay.  Of
   one hundred pupils, half were boarders.  They paid little more than
   half the expenses of their maintenance, and the day-scholars paid
   threepence per week.  Of course, a large part of the expense was borne
   by Lady Byron, besides the payments she made for children who could
   not otherwise have entered the school.  The establishment flourished
   steadily till 1852, when the owner of the land required it back for
   building purposes.  During the eighteen years that the Ealing schools
   were in action, they did a world of good in the way of incitement and
   example.  The poor-law commissioners pointed out their merits.  Land-
   owners and other wealthy persons visited them, and went home and set
   up similar establishments.  During those years, too, Lady Byron had
   herself been at work in various directions to the same purpose.

   'A more extensive industrial scheme was instituted on her
   Leicestershire property, and not far off she opened a girls' school
   and an infant school; and when a season of distress came, as such
   seasons are apt to befall the poor Leicestershire stocking-weavers,
   Lady Byron fed the children for months together, till they could
   resume their payments.  These schools were opened in 1840.  The next
   year, she built a schoolhouse on her Warwickshire property; and, five
   years later, she set up an iron schoolhouse on another Leicestershire

   'By this time, her educational efforts were costing her several
   hundred pounds a year in the mere maintenance of existing
   establishments; but this is the smallest consideration in the case.
   She has sent out tribes of boys and girls into life fit to do their
   part there with skill and credit and comfort.  Perhaps it is a still
   more important consideration, that scores of teachers and trainers
   have been led into their vocation, and duly prepared for it, by what
   they saw and learned in her schools.  As for the best and the worst of
   the Ealing boys, the best have, in a few cases, been received into the
   Battersea Training School, whence they could enter on their career as
   teachers to the greatest advantage; and the worst found their school a
   true reformatory, before reformatory schools were heard of.  At
   Bristol, she bought a house for a reformatory for girls; and there her
   friend, Miss Carpenter, faithfully and energetically carries out her
   own and Lady Byron's aims, which were one and the same.

   'There would be no end if I were to catalogue the schemes of which
   these are a specimen.  It is of more consequence to observe that her
   mind was never narrowed by her own acts, as the minds of benevolent
   people are so apt to be.  To the last, her interest in great political
   movements, at home and abroad, was as vivid as ever.  She watched
   every step won in philosophy, every discovery in science, every token
   of social change and progress in every shape.  Her mind was as liberal
   as her heart and hand.  No diversity of opinion troubled her: she was
   respectful to every sort of individuality, and indulgent to all
   constitutional peculiarities.  It must have puzzled those who kept up
   the notion of her being "strait-laced" to see how indulgent she was
   even to Epicurean tendencies,--the remotest of all from her own.

   'But I must stop; for I do not wish my honest memorial to degenerate
   into panegyric.  Among her latest known acts were her gifts to the
   Sicilian cause, and her manifestations on behalf of the antislavery
   cause in the United States.  Her kindness to William and Ellen Craft
   must be well known there; and it is also related in the newspapers,
   that she bequeathed a legacy to a young American to assist him under
   any disadvantages he might suffer as an abolitionist.

   'All these deeds were done under a heavy burden of ill health.  Before
   she had passed middle life, her lungs were believed to be irreparably
   injured by partial ossification.  She was subject to attacks so
   serious, that each one, for many years, was expected to be the last.
   She arranged her affairs in correspondence with her liabilities: so
   that the same order would have been found, whether she died suddenly
   or after long warning.

   'She was to receive one more accession of outward greatness before she
   departed.  She became Baroness Wentworth in November, 1856.  This is
   one of the facts of her history; but it is the least interesting to
   us, as probably to her.  We care more to know that her last days were
   bright in honour, and cheered by the attachment of old friends worthy
   to pay the duty she deserved.  Above all, it is consoling to know that
   she who so long outlived her only child was blessed with the
   unremitting and tender care of her grand-daughter.  She died on the
   16th of May, 1860.

   'The portrait of Lady Byron as she was at the time of her marriage is
   probably remembered by some of my readers.  It is very engaging.  Her
   countenance afterwards became much worn; but its expression of
   thoughtfulness and composure was very interesting.  Her handwriting
   accorded well with the character of her mind.  It was clear, elegant,
   and womanly.  Her manners differed with circumstances.  Her shrinking
   sensitiveness might embarrass one visitor; while another would be
   charmed with her easy, significant, and vivacious conversation.  It
   depended much on whom she talked with.  The abiding certainty was,
   that she had strength for the hardest of human trials, and the
   composure which belongs to strength.  For the rest, it is enough to
   point to her deeds, and to the mourning of her friends round the chasm
   which her departure has made in their life, and in the society in
   which it is spent.  All that could be done in the way of personal love
   and honour was done while she lived: it only remains now to see that
   her name and fame are permitted to shine forth at last in their proper

We have simply to ask the reader whether a life like this was not the
best, the noblest answer that a woman could make to a doubting world.


We have now brought the review of the antagonism against Lady Byron down
to the period of her death.  During all this time, let the candid reader
ask himself which of these two parties seems to be plotting against the

Which has been active, aggressive, unscrupulous? which has been silent,
quiet, unoffending?  Which of the two has laboured to make a party, and
to make that party active, watchful, enthusiastic?

Have we not proved that Lady Byron remained perfectly silent during Lord
Byron's life, patiently looking out from her retirement to see the waves
of popular sympathy, that once bore her up, day by day retreating, while
his accusations against her were resounding in his poems over the whole
earth?  And after Lord Byron's death, when all the world with one consent
began to give their memorials of him, and made it appear, by their
various 'recollections of conversations,' how incessantly he had obtruded
his own version of the separation upon every listener, did she manifest
any similar eagerness?

Lady Byron had seen the 'Blackwood' coming forward, on the first
appearance of 'Don Juan,' to rebuke the cowardly lampoon in words
eloquent with all the unperverted vigour of an honest Englishman.  Under
the power of the great conspirator, she had seen that 'Blackwood' become
the very eager recipient and chief reporter of the stories against her,
and the blind admirer of her adversary.

All this time, she lost sympathy daily by being silent.  The world will
embrace those who court it; it will patronise those who seek its favour;
it will make parties for those who seek to make parties: but for the
often accused who do not speak, who make no confidants and no parties,
the world soon loses sympathy.

When at last she spoke, Christopher North says 'she astonished the
world.'  Calm, clear, courageous, exact as to time, date, and
circumstance, was that first testimony, backed by the equally clear
testimony of Dr. Lushington.

It showed that her secret had been kept even from her parents.  In words
precise, firm, and fearless, she says, 'If these statements on which Dr.
Lushington and Sir Samuel Romilly formed their opinion were false, the
responsibility and the odium should rest with me only.'  Christopher
North did not pretend to disbelieve this statement.  He breathed not a
doubt of Lady Byron's word.  He spoke of the crime indicated, as one
which might have been foul as the grave's corruption, unforgivable as the
sin against the Holy Ghost.  He rebuked the wife for bearing this
testimony, even to save the memory of her dead father and mother, and, in
the same breath, declared that she ought now to go farther, and speak
fully the one awful word, and then--'a mitigated sentence, or eternal

But Lady Byron took no counsel with the world, nor with the literary men
of her age.  One knight, with some small remnant of England's old
chivalry, set lance in rest for her: she saw him beaten back unhorsed,
rolled in the dust, and ingloriously vanquished, and perceived that
henceforth nothing but injury could come to any one who attempted to
speak for her.

She turned from the judgments of man and the fond and natural hopes of
human nature, to lose herself in sacred ministries to the downcast and
suffering.  What nobler record for woman could there be than that which
Miss Martineau has given?

Particularly to be noted in Lady Byron was her peculiar interest in
reclaiming fallen women.  Among her letters to Mrs. Prof. Follen, of
Cambridge, was one addressed to a society of ladies who had undertaken
this difficult work.  It was full of heavenly wisdom and of a large and
tolerant charity.  Fenelon truly says, it is only perfection that can
tolerate imperfection; and the very purity of Lady Byron's nature made
her most forbearing and most tender towards the weak and the guilty.  This
letter, with all the rest of Lady Byron's, was returned to the hands of
her executors after her death.  Its publication would greatly assist the
world in understanding the peculiarities of its writer's character.

Lady Byron passed to a higher life in 1860. {105}  After her death, I
looked for the publication of her Memoir and Letters as the event that
should give her the same opportunity of being known and judged by her
life and writings that had been so freely accorded to Lord Byron.

She was, in her husband's estimation, a woman of genius.  She was the
friend of many of the first men and women of her times, and corresponded
with them on topics of literature, morals, religion, and, above all, on
the benevolent and philanthropic movements of the day, whose principles
she had studied with acute observation, and in connection with which she
had acquired a large experience.

The knowledge of her, necessarily diffused by such a series of letters,
would have created in America a comprehension of her character, of itself
sufficient to wither a thousand slanders.

Such a Memoir was contemplated.  Lady Byron's letters to Mrs. Follen were
asked for from Boston; and I was applied to by a person in England, who I
have recently learned is one of the existing trustees of Lady Byron's
papers, to furnish copies of her letters to me for the purpose of a
Memoir.  Before I had time to have copies made, another letter came,
stating that the trustees had concluded that it was best not to publish
any Memoir of Lady Byron at all.

This left the character of Lady Byron in our American world precisely
where the slanders of her husband, the literature of the Noctes Club, and
the unanimous verdict of May Fair as recorded by 'Blackwood,' had placed

True, Lady Byron had nobly and quietly lived down these slanders in
England by deeds that made her name revered as a saint among all those
who valued saintliness.

But in France and Italy, and in these United States, I have had abundant
opportunity to know that Lady Byron stood judged and condemned on the
testimony of her brilliant husband, and that the feeling against her had
a vivacity and intensity not to be overcome by mere allusions to a
virtuous life in distant England.

This is strikingly shown by one fact.  In the American edition of Moore's
'Life of Byron,' by Claxton, Remsen, and Haffelfinger, Philadelphia,
1869, which I have been consulting, Lady Byron's statement, which is
found in the Appendix of Murray's standard edition, is entirely omitted.
Every other paper is carefully preserved.  This one incident showed how
the tide of sympathy was setting in this New World.  Of course, there is
no stronger power than a virtuous life; but, for a virtuous life to bear
testimony to the world, its details must be told, so that the world may
know them.

Suppose the memoirs of Clarkson and Wilberforce had been suppressed after
their death, how soon might the coming tide have wiped out the record of
their bravery and philanthropy!  Suppose the lives of Francis Xavier and
Henry Martyn had never been written, and we had lost the remembrance of
what holy men could do and dare in the divine enthusiasm of Christian
faith!  Suppose we had no Fenelon, no Book of Martyrs!

Would there not be an outcry through all the literary and artistic world
if a perfect statue were allowed to remain buried for ever because some
painful individual history was connected with its burial and its
recovery?  But is not a noble life a greater treasure to mankind than any
work of art?

We have heard much mourning over the burned Autobiography of Lord Byron,
and seen it treated of in a magazine as 'the lost chapter in history.'
The lost chapter in history is Lady Byron's Autobiography in her life and
letters; and the suppression of them is the root of this whole mischief.

We do not in this intend to censure the parties who came to this

The descendants of Lady Byron revere her memory, as they have every
reason to do.  That it was their desire to have a Memoir of her
published, I have been informed by an individual of the highest character
in England, who obtained the information directly from Lady Byron's

But the trustees in whose care the papers were placed drew back on
examination of them, and declared, that, as Lady Byron's papers could not
be fully published, they should regret anything that should call public
attention once more to the discussion of her history.

Reviewing this long history of the way in which the literary world had
treated Lady Byron, we cannot wonder that her friends should have doubted
whether there was left on earth any justice, or sense that anything is
due to woman as a human being with human rights.  Evidently this lesson
had taken from them all faith in the moral sense of the world.  Rather
than re-awaken the discussion, so unsparing, so painful, and so
indelicate, which had been carried on so many years around that loved
form, now sanctified by death, they sacrificed the dear pleasure of the
memorials, and the interests of mankind, who have an indefeasible right
to all the help that can be got from the truth of history as to the
living power of virtue, and the reality of that great victory that
overcometh the world.

There are thousands of poor victims suffering in sadness, discouragement,
and poverty; heart-broken wives of brutal, drunken husbands; women
enduring nameless wrongs and horrors which the delicacy of their sex
forbids them to utter,--to whom the lovely letters lying hidden away
under those seals might bring courage and hope from springs not of this

But though the friends of Lady Byron, perhaps from despair of their kind,
from weariness of the utter injustice done her, wished to cherish her
name in silence, and to confine the story of her virtues to that circle
who knew her too well to ask a proof, or utter a doubt, the partisans of
Lord Byron were embarrassed with no such scruple.

Lord Byron had artfully contrived during his life to place his wife in
such an antagonistic position with regard to himself, that his intimate
friends were forced to believe that one of the two had deliberately and
wantonly injured the other.  The published statement of Lady Byron
contradicted boldly and point-blank all the statement of her husband
concerning the separation; so that, unless she was convicted as a false
witness, he certainly was.

The best evidence of this is Christopher North's own shocked, astonished
statement, and the words of the Noctes Club.

The noble life that Lady Byron lived after this hushed every voice, and
silenced even the most desperate calumny, while she was in the world.  In
the face of Lady Byron as the world saw her, of what use was the talk of
Clytemnestra, and the assertion that she had been a mean, deceitful
conspirator against her husband's honour in life, and stabbed his memory
after death?

But when she was in her grave, when her voice and presence and good deeds
no more spoke for her, and a new generation was growing up that knew her
not; then was the time selected to revive the assault on her memory, and
to say over her grave what none would ever have dared to say of her while

During these last two years, I have been gradually awakening to the
evidence of a new crusade against the memory of Lady Byron, which
respected no sanctity,--not even that last and most awful one of death.

Nine years after her death, when it was fully understood that no story on
her side or that of her friends was to be forthcoming, then her
calumniators raked out from the ashes of her husband's sepulchre all his
bitter charges, to state them over in even stronger and more indecent

There seems to be reason to think that the materials supplied by Lord
Byron for such a campaign yet exist in society.

To 'The Noctes' of November 1824, there is the following note apropos to
a discussion of the Byron question:--

   'Byron's Memoirs, given by him to Moore, were burned, as everybody
   knows.  But, before this, Moore had lent them to several persons.  Mrs.
   Home Purvis, afterwards Viscountess of Canterbury, is known to have
   sat up all one night, in which, aided by her daughter, she had a copy
   made.  I have the strongest reason for believing that one other person
   made a copy; for the description of the first twenty-four hours after
   the marriage ceremonial has been in my hands.  Not until after the
   death of Lady Byron, and Hobhouse, who was the poet's literary
   executor, can the poet's Autobiography see the light; but I am certain
   it will be published.'

Thus speaks Mackenzie in a note to a volume of 'The Noctes,' published in
America in 1854.  Lady Byron died in 1860.

Nine years after Lady Byron's death, when it was ascertained that her
story was not to see the light, when there were no means of judging her
character by her own writings, commenced a well-planned set of operations
to turn the public attention once more to Lord Byron, and to represent
him as an injured man, whose testimony had been unjustly suppressed.

It was quite possible, supposing copies of the Autobiography to exist,
that this might occasion a call from the generation of to-day, in answer
to which the suppressed work might appear.  This was a rather delicate
operation to commence; but the instrument was not wanting.  It was
necessary that the subject should be first opened by some irresponsible
party, whom more powerful parties might, as by accident, recognise and
patronise, and on whose weakness they might build something stronger.

Just such an instrument was to be found in Paris.  The mistress of Lord
Byron could easily be stirred up and flattered to come before the world
with a book which should re-open the whole controversy; and she proved a
facile tool.  At first, the work appeared prudently in French, and was
called 'Lord Byron juge par les Temoins de sa Vie,' and was rather a
failure.  Then it was translated into English, and published by Bentley.

The book was inartistic, and helplessly, childishly stupid as to any
literary merits,--a mere mass of gossip and twaddle; but after all, when
one remembers the taste of the thousands of circulating-library readers,
it must not be considered the less likely to be widely read on that
account.  It is only once in a century that a writer of real genius has
the art to tell his story so as to take both the cultivated few and the
average many.  De Foe and John Bunyan are almost the only examples.  But
there is a certain class of reading that sells and spreads, and exerts a
vast influence, which the upper circles of literature despise too much
ever to fairly estimate its power.

However, the Guiccioli book did not want for patrons in the high places
of literature.  The 'Blackwood'--the old classic magazine of England; the
defender of conservatism and aristocracy; the paper of Lockhart, Wilson,
Hogg, Walter Scott, and a host of departed grandeurs--was deputed to
usher into the world this book, and to recommend it and its author to the
Christian public of the nineteenth century.

The following is the manner in which 'Blackwood' calls attention to it:--

   'One of the most beautiful of the songs of Beranger is that addressed
   to his Lisette, in which he pictures her, in old age, narrating to a
   younger generation the loves of their youth; decking his portrait with
   flowers at each returning spring, and reciting the verses that had
   been inspired by her vanished charms:--

   'Lorsque les yeux chercheront sous vos rides
   Les traits charmants qui m'auront inspire,
   Des doux recits les jeunes gens avides,
   Diront: Quel fut cet ami tant pleure?
   De men amour peignez, s'il est possible,
   Vardeur, l'ivresse, et meme les soupcons,
   Et bonne vieille, an coin d'un feu paisible
   De votre ami repetez les chansons.
   "On vous dira: Savait-il etre aimable?
   Et sans rougir vous direz: Je l'aimais.
   D'un trait mechant se montra-t-il capable?
   Avec orgueil vous repondrez: Jamais!'"

   'This charming picture,' 'Blackwood' goes on to say, 'has been
   realised in the case of a poet greater than Beranger, and by a
   mistress more famous than Lisette.  The Countess Guiccioli has at
   length given to the world her "Recollections of Lord Byron."  The book
   first appeared in France under the title of "Lord Byron juge par les
   Temoins de sa Vie," without the name of the countess.  A more
   unfortunate designation could hardly have been selected.  The
   "witnesses of his life" told us nothing but what had been told before
   over and over again; and the uniform and exaggerated tone of eulogy
   which pervaded the whole book was fatal to any claim on the part of
   the writer to be considered an impartial judge of the wonderfully
   mixed character of Byron.

   'When, however, the book is regarded as the avowed production of the
   Countess Guiccioli, it derives value and interest from its very
   faults.  {113}  There is something inexpressibly touching in the
   picture of the old lady calling up the phantoms of half a century ago;
   not faded and stricken by the hand of time, but brilliant and gorgeous
   as they were when Byron, in his manly prime of genius and beauty,
   first flashed upon her enraptured sight, and she gave her whole soul
   up to an absorbing passion, the embers of which still glow in her

   'To her there has been no change, no decay.  The god whom she
   worshipped with all the ardour of her Italian nature at seventeen is
   still the "Pythian of the age" to her at seventy.  To try such a book
   by the ordinary canons of criticism would be as absurd as to arraign
   the authoress before a jury of British matrons, or to prefer a bill of
   indictment against the Sultan for bigamy to a Middlesex grand jury.'

This, then, is the introduction which one of the oldest and most
classical periodicals of Great Britain gives to a very stupid book,
simply because it was written by Lord Byron's mistress.  That fact, we
are assured, lends grace even to its faults.

Having brought the authoress upon the stage, the review now goes on to
define her position, and assure the Christian world that

   'The Countess Guiccioli was the daughter of an impoverished noble.  At
   the age of sixteen, she was taken from a convent, and sold as third
   wife to the Count Guiccioli, who was old, rich, and profligate.  A
   fouler prostitution never profaned the name of marriage.  A short time
   afterwards, she accidentally met Lord Byron.  Outraged and rebellious
   nature vindicated itself in the deep and devoted passion with which he
   inspired her.  With the full assent of husband, father, and brother,
   and in compliance with the usages of Italian society, he was shortly
   afterwards installed in the office, and invested with all the
   privileges, of her "Cavalier Servente."'

It has been asserted that the Marquis de Boissy, the late husband of this
Guiccioli lady, was in the habit of introducing her in fashionable
circles as 'the Marquise de Boissy, my wife, formerly mistress to Lord
Byron'!  We do not give the story as a verity; yet, in the review of this
whole history, we may be pardoned for thinking it quite possible.

The mistress, being thus vouched for and presented as worthy of sympathy
and attention by one of the oldest and most classic organs of English
literature, may now proceed in her work of glorifying the popular idol,
and casting abuse on the grave of the dead wife.

Her attacks on Lady Byron are, to be sure, less skilful and adroit than
those of Lord Byron.  They want his literary polish and tact; but what of
that?  'Blackwood' assures us that even the faults of manner derive a
peculiar grace from the fact that the narrator is Lord Byron's mistress;
and so we suppose the literary world must find grace in things like

   'She has been called, after his words, the moral Clytemnestra of her
   husband.  Such a surname is severe: but the repugnance we feel to
   condemning a woman cannot prevent our listening to the voice of
   justice, which tells us that the comparison is still in favour of the
   guilty one of antiquity; for she, driven to crime by fierce passion
   overpowering reason, at least only deprived her husband of physical
   life, and, in committing the deed, exposed herself to all its
   consequences; while Lady Byron left her husband at the very moment
   that she saw him struggling amid a thousand shoals in the stormy sea
   of embarrassments created by his marriage, and precisely when he more
   than ever required a friendly, tender, and indulgent hand to save him.

   'Besides, she shut herself up in silence a thousand times more cruel
   than Clytemnestra's poniard: that only killed the body; whereas Lady
   Byron's silence was destined to kill the soul,--and such a
   soul!--leaving the door open to calumny, and making it to be supposed
   that her silence was magnanimity destined to cover over frightful
   wrongs, perhaps even depravity.  In vain did he, feeling his
   conscience at ease, implore some inquiry and examination.  She
   refused; and the only favour she granted was to send him, one fine
   day, two persons to see whether he were not mad.

   'And, why, then, had she believed him mad?  Because she, a methodical,
   inflexible woman, with that unbendingness which a profound moralist
   calls the worship rendered to pride by a feelingless soul, because she
   could not understand the possibility of tastes and habits different to
   those of ordinary routine, or of her own starched life.  Not to be
   hungry when she was; not to sleep at night, but to write while she was
   sleeping, and to sleep when she was up; in short, to gratify the
   requirements of material and intellectual life at hours different to
   hers,--all that was not merely annoying for her, but it must be
   madness; or, if not, it betokened depravity that she could neither
   submit to nor tolerate without perilling her own morality.

   'Such was the grand secret of the cruel silence which exposed Lord
   Byron to the most malignant interpretations, to all the calumny and
   revenge of his enemies.

   'She was, perhaps, the only woman in the world so strangely
   organised,--the only one, perhaps, capable of not feeling happy and
   proud at belonging to a man superior to the rest of humanity; and
   fatally was it decreed that this woman alone of her species should be
   Lord Byron's wife!'

In a note is added,--

   'If an imaginary fear, and even an unreasonable jealousy, may be her
   excuse (just as one excuses a monomania), can one equally forgive her
   silence?  Such a silence is morally what are physically the poisons
   which kill at once, and defy all remedies; thus insuring the culprit's
   safety.  This silence it is which will ever be her crime; for by it
   she poisoned the life of her husband.'

The book has several chapters devoted to Lord Byron's peculiar virtues;
and under the one devoted to magnanimity and heroism, his forgiving
disposition receives special attention.  The climax of all is stated to
be that he forgave Lady Byron.  All the world knew that, since he had
declared this fact in a very noisy and impassioned manner in the fourth
canto of 'Childe Harold,' together with a statement of the wrongs which
he forgave; but the Guiccioli thinks his virtue, at this period, has not
been enough appreciated.  In her view, it rose to the sublime.  She says
of Lady Byron,--

   'An absolute moral monstrosity, an anomaly in the history of types of
   female hideousness, had succeeded in showing itself in the light of
   magnanimity.  But false as was this high quality in Lady Byron, so did
   it shine out in him true and admirable.  The position in which Lady
   Byron had placed him, and where she continued to keep him by her
   harshness, silence, and strange refusals, was one of those which cause
   such suffering, that the highest degree of self-control seldom
   suffices to quiet the promptings of human weakness, and to cause
   persons of even slight sensibility to preserve moderation.  Yet, with
   his sensibility and the knowledge of his worth, how did he act? what
   did he say?  I will not speak of his "farewell;" of the care he took
   to shield her from blame by throwing it on others, by taking much too
   large a share to himself.'

With like vivacity and earnestness does the narrator now proceed to make
an incarnate angel of her subject by the simple process of denying
everything that he himself ever confessed,--everything that has ever been
confessed in regard to him by his best friends.  He has been in the world
as an angel unawares from his cradle.  His guardian did not properly
appreciate him, and is consequently mentioned as that wicked Lord
Carlisle.  Thomas Moore is never to be sufficiently condemned for the
facts told in his biography.  Byron's own frank and lawless admissions of
evil are set down to a peculiar inability he had for speaking the truth
about himself,--sometimes about his near relations; all which does not in
the least discourage the authoress from giving a separate chapter on
'Lord Byron's Love of Truth.'

In the matter of his relations with women, she complacently repeats (what
sounds rather oddly as coming from her) Lord Byron's own assurance, that
he never seduced a woman; and also the equally convincing statement, that
he had told her (the Guiccioli) that his married fidelity to his wife was
perfect.  She discusses Moore's account of the mistress in boy's clothes
who used to share Byron's apartments in college, and ride with him to
races, and whom he presented to ladies as his brother.

She has her own view of this matter.  The disguised boy was a lady of
rank and fashion, who sought Lord Byron's chambers, as, we are informed,
noble ladies everywhere, both in Italy and England, were constantly in
the habit of doing; throwing themselves at his feet, and imploring
permission to become his handmaids.

In the authoress's own words, 'Feminine overtures still continued to be
made to Lord Byron; but the fumes of incense never hid from his sight his
IDEAL.'  We are told that in the case of these poor ladies, generally
'disenchantment took place on his side without a corresponding result on
the other: THENCE many heart-breakings.'  Nevertheless, we are informed
that there followed the indiscretions of these ladies 'none of those
proceedings that the world readily forgives, but which his feelings as a
man of honour would have condemned.'

As to drunkenness, and all that, we are informed he was an anchorite.
Pages are given to an account of the biscuits and soda-water that on this
and that occasion were found to be the sole means of sustenance to this
ethereal creature.

As to the story of using his wife's money, the lady gives, directly in
the face of his own Letters and Journal, the same account given before by
Medwin, and which caused such merriment when talked over in the Noctes
Club,--that he had with her only a marriage portion of 10,000 pounds; and
that, on the separation, he not only paid it back, but doubled it. {119}

So on the authoress goes, sowing right and left the most transparent
absurdities and misstatements with what Carlyle well calls 'a composed
stupidity, and a cheerful infinitude of ignorance.'  Who should know, if
not she, to be sure?  Had not Byron told her all about it? and was not
his family motto Crede Byron?

The 'Blackwood,' having a dim suspicion that this confused style of
attack and defence in reference to the two parties under consideration
may not have great weight, itself proceeds to make the book an occasion
for re-opening the controversy of Lord Byron with his wife.

The rest of the review devoted to a powerful attack on Lady Byron's
character, the most fearful attack on the memory of a dead woman we have
ever seen made by living man.  The author proceeds, like a lawyer, to
gather up, arrange, and restate, in a most workmanlike manner, the
confused accusations of the book.

Anticipating the objection, that such a re-opening of the inquiry was a
violation of the privacy due to womanhood and to the feelings of a
surviving family, he says, that though marriage usually is a private
matter which the world has no right to intermeddle with or discuss, yet--

   'Lord Byron's was an exceptional case.  It is not too much to say,
   that, had his marriage been a happy one, the course of events of the
   present century might have been materially changed; that the genius
   which poured itself forth in "Don Juan" and "Cain" might have flowed
   in far different channels; that the ardent love of freedom which sent
   him to perish at six and thirty at Missolonghi might have inspired a
   long career at home; and that we might at this moment have been
   appealing to the counsels of his experience and wisdom at an age not
   exceeding that which was attained by Wellington, Lyndhurst, and

   'Whether the world would have been a gainer or a loser by the exchange
   is a question which every man must answer for himself, according to
   his own tastes and opinions; but the possibility of such a change in
   the course of events warrants us in treating what would otherwise be a
   strictly private matter as one of public interest.

   'More than half a century has elapsed, the actors have departed from
   the stage, the curtain has fallen; and whether it will ever again be
   raised so as to reveal the real facts of the drama, may, as we have
   already observed, be well doubted.  But the time has arrived when we
   may fairly gather up the fragments of evidence, clear them as far as
   possible from the incrustations of passion, prejudice, and malice, and
   place them in such order, as, if possible, to enable us to arrive at
   some probable conjecture as to what the skeleton of the drama
   originally was.'

Here the writer proceeds to put together all the facts of Lady Byron's
case, just as an adverse lawyer would put them as against her, and for
her husband.  The plea is made vigorously and ably, and with an air of
indignant severity, as of an honest advocate who is thoroughly convinced
that he is pleading the cause of a wronged man who has been ruined in
name, shipwrecked in life, and driven to an early grave, by the arts of a
bad woman,--a woman all the more horrible that her malice was disguised
under the cloak of religion.

Having made an able statement of facts, adroitly leaving out ONE, {121}
of which he could not have been ignorant had he studied the case
carefully enough to know all the others, he proceeds to sum up against
the criminal thus:--

   'We would deal tenderly with the memory of Lady Byron.  Few women have
   been juster objects of compassion.  It would seem as if Nature and
   Fortune had vied with each other which should be most lavish of her
   gifts, and yet that some malignant power had rendered all their bounty
   of no effect.  Rank, beauty, wealth, and mental powers of no common
   order, were hers; yet they were of no avail to secure common
   happiness.  The spoilt child of seclusion, restraint, and parental
   idolatry, a fate (alike evil for both) cast her into the arms of the
   spoilt child of genius, passion, and the world.  What real or fancied
   wrongs she suffered, we may never know; but those which she inflicted
   are sufficiently apparent.

   'It is said that there are some poisons so subtle that they will
   destroy life, and yet leave no trace of their action.  The murderer
   who uses them may escape the vengeance of the law; but he is not the
   less guilty.  So the slanderer who makes no charge; who deals in hints
   and insinuations: who knows melancholy facts he would not willingly
   divulge,--things too painful to state; who forbears, expresses pity,
   sometimes even affection, for his victim, shrugs his shoulders, looks

      "The significant eye,
   Which learns to lie with silence,--"

   is far more guilty than he who tells the bold falsehood which may be
   met and answered, and who braves the punishment which must follow upon

   'Lady Byron has been called

      "The moral Clytemnestra of her lord."

   The "moral Brinvilliers" would have been a truer designation.

   'The conclusion at which we arrive is, that there is no proof whatever
   that Lord Byron was guilty of any act that need have caused a
   separation, or prevented a re-union, and that the imputations upon him
   rest on the vaguest conjecture; that whatever real or fancied wrongs
   Lady Byron may have endured are shrouded in an impenetrable mist of
   her own creation,--a poisonous miasma in which she enveloped the
   character of her husband, raised by her breath, and which her breath
   only could have dispersed.

      "She dies and makes no sign.  O God! forgive her."'

As we have been obliged to review accusations on Lady Byron founded on
old Greek tragedy, so now we are forced to abridge a passage from a
modern conversations-lexicon, that we may understand what sort of
comparisons are deemed in good taste in a conservative English review,
when speaking of ladies of rank in their graves.

Under the article 'Brinvilliers,' we find as follows:--

   atrocity of this woman gives her a sort of infamous claim to notice.
   She was born in Paris in 1651; being daughter of D'Aubrai, lieutenant-
   civil of Paris, who married her to the Marquis of Brinvilliers.
   Although possessed of attractions to captivate lovers, she was for
   some time much attached to her husband, but at length became madly in
   love with a Gascon officer.  Her father imprisoned the officer in the
   Bastille; and, while there, he learned the art of compounding subtle
   and most mortal poisons; and, when he was released, he taught it to
   the lady, who exercised it with such success, that, in one year, her
   father, sister, and two brothers became her victims.  She professed
   the utmost tenderness for her victims, and nursed them assiduously.  On
   her father she is said to have made eight attempts before she
   succeeded.  She was very religious, and devoted to works of charity;
   and visited the hospitals a great deal, where it is said she tried her
   poisons on the sick.'

People have made loud outcries lately, both in America and England, about
violating the repose of the dead.  We should like to know what they call
this.  Is this, then, what they mean by respecting the dead?

Let any man imagine a leading review coming out with language equally
brutal about his own mother, or any dear and revered friend.

Men of America, men of England, what do you think of this?

When Lady Byron was publicly branded with the names of the foulest
ancient and foulest modern assassins, and Lord Byron's mistress was
publicly taken by the hand, and encouraged to go on and prosper in her
slanders, by one of the oldest and most influential British reviews, what
was said and what was done in England?

That is a question we should be glad to have answered.  Nothing was done
that ever reached us across the water.

And why was nothing done?  Is this language of a kind to be passed over
in silence?

Was it no offence to the house of Wentworth to attack the pure character
of its late venerable head, and to brand her in her sacred grave with the
name of one of the vilest of criminals?

Might there not properly have been an indignant protest of family
solicitors against this insult to the person and character of the
Baroness Wentworth?

If virtue went for nothing, benevolence for nothing, a long life of
service to humanity for nothing, one would at least have thought, that,
in aristocratic countries, rank might have had its rights to decent
consideration, and its guardians to rebuke the violation of those rights.

We Americans understand little of the advantages of rank; but we did
understand that it secured certain decorums to people, both while living
and when in their graves.  From Lady Byron's whole history, in life and
in death, it would appear that we were mistaken.

What a life was hers!  Was ever a woman more evidently desirous of the
delicate and secluded privileges of womanhood, of the sacredness of
individual privacy?  Was ever a woman so rudely dragged forth, and
exposed to the hardened, vulgar, and unfeeling gaze of mere
curiosity?--her maiden secrets of love thrown open to be handled by
roues; the sanctities of her marriage-chamber desecrated by leering
satyrs; her parents and best friends traduced and slandered, till one
indignant public protest was extorted from her, as by the rack,--a
protest which seems yet to quiver in every word with the indignation of
outraged womanly delicacy!

Then followed coarse blame and coarser comment,--blame for speaking at
all, and blame for not speaking more.  One manly voice, raised for her in
honourable protest, was silenced and overborne by the universal roar of
ridicule and reprobation; and henceforth what refuge?  Only this
remained: 'Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the
keeping of their souls to him as to a faithful Creator.'

Lady Byron turned to this refuge in silence, and filled up her life with
a noble record of charities and humanities.  So pure was she, so
childlike, so artless, so loving, that those who knew her best, feel, to
this day, that a memorial of her is like the relic of a saint.  And could
not all this preserve her grave from insult?  O England, England!

I speak in sorrow of heart to those who must have known, loved, and
revered Lady Byron, and ask them, Of what were you thinking when you
allowed a paper of so established literary rank as the 'Blackwood,' to
present and earnestly recommend to our New World such a compendium of
lies as the Guiccioli book?

Is the great English-speaking community, whose waves toss from Maine to
California, and whose literature is yet to come back in a thousand voices
to you, a thing to be so despised?

If, as the solicitors of the Wentworth family observe, you might be
entitled to treat with silent contempt the slanders of a mistress against
a wife, was it safe to treat with equal contempt the indorsement and
recommendation of those slanders by one of your oldest and most powerful
literary authorities?

No European magazine has ever had the weight and circulation in America
that the 'Blackwood' has held.  In the days of my youth, when New England
was a comparatively secluded section of the earth, the wit and genius of
the 'Noctes Ambrosianae' were in the mouths of men and maidens, even in
our most quiet mountain-towns.  There, years ago, we saw all Lady Byron's
private affairs discussed, and felt the weight of Christopher North's
decisions against her.  Shelton Mackenzie, in his American edition,
speaks of the American circulation of 'Blackwood' being greater than that
in England. {126}  It was and is now reprinted monthly; and, besides
that, 'Littell's Magazine' reproduces all its striking articles, and they
come with the weight of long established position.  From the very fact
that it has long been considered the Tory organ, and the supporter of
aristocratic orders, all its admissions against the character of
individuals in the privileged classes have a double force.

When 'Blackwood,' therefore, boldly denounces a lady of high rank as a
modern Brinvilliers, and no sensation is produced, and no remonstrance
follows, what can people in the New World suppose, but that Lady Byron's
character was a point entirely given up; that her depravity was so well
established and so fully conceded, that nothing was to be said, and that
even the defenders of aristocracy were forced to admit it?

I have been blamed for speaking on this subject without consulting Lady
Byron's friends, trustees, and family.  More than ten years had elapsed
since I had had any intercourse with England, and I knew none of them.
How was I to know that any of them were living?  I was astonished to
learn, for the first time, by the solicitors' letters, that there were
trustees, who held in their hands all Lady Byron's carefully prepared
proofs and documents, by which this falsehood might immediately have been

If they had spoken, they might have saved all this confusion.  Even if
bound by restrictions for a certain period of time, they still might have
called on a Christian public to frown down such a cruel and indecent
attack on the character of a noble lady who had been a benefactress to so
many in England.  They might have stated that the means of wholly
refuting the slanders of the 'Blackwood' were in their hands, and only
delayed in coming forth from regard to the feelings of some in this
generation.  Then might they not have announced her Life and Letters,
that the public might have the same opportunity as themselves for knowing
and judging Lady Byron by her own writings?

Had this been done, I had been most happy to have remained silent.  I
have been astonished that any one should have supposed this speaking on
my part to be anything less than it is,--the severest act of
self-sacrifice that one friend can perform for another, and the most
solemn and difficult tribute to justice that a human being can be called
upon to render.

I have been informed that the course I have taken would be contrary to
the wishes of my friend.  I think otherwise.  I know her strong sense of
justice, and her reverence for truth.  Nothing ever moved her to speak to
the public but an attack upon the honour of the dead.  In her statement,
she says of her parents, 'There is no other near relative to vindicate
their memory from insult: I am therefore compelled to break the silence I
had hoped always to have observed.'

If there was any near relative to vindicate Lady Byron's memory, I had no
evidence of the fact; and I considered the utter silence to be strong
evidence to the contrary.  In all the storm of obloquy and rebuke that
has raged in consequence of my speaking, I have had two unspeakable
sources of joy; first, that they could not touch her; and, second, that
they could not blind the all-seeing God.  It is worth being in darkness
to see the stars.

It has been said that I have drawn on Lady Byron's name greater obloquy
than ever before.  I deny the charge.  Nothing fouler has been asserted
of her than the charges in the 'Blackwood,' because nothing fouler could
be asserted.  No satyr's hoof has ever crushed this pearl deeper in the
mire than the hoof of the 'Blackwood,' but none of them have defiled it
or trodden it so deep that God cannot find it in the day 'when he maketh
up his jewels.'

I have another word, as an American, to say about the contempt shown to
our great people in thus suffering the materials of history to be
falsified to subserve the temporary purposes of family feeling in

Lord Byron belongs not properly either to the Byrons or the Wentworths.
He is not one of their family jewels to be locked up in their cases.  He
belongs to the world for which he wrote, to which he appealed, and before
which he dragged his reluctant, delicate wife to a publicity equal with
his own: the world has, therefore, a right to judge him.

We Americans have been made accessories, after the fact, to every insult
and injury that Lord Byron and the literary men of his day have heaped
upon Lady Byron.  We have been betrayed into injustice and a complicity
with villainy.  After Lady Byron had nobly lived down slanders in
England, and died full of years and honours, the 'Blackwood' takes
occasion to re-open the controversy by recommending a book full of
slanders to a rising generation who knew nothing of the past.  What was
the consequence in America?  My attention was first called to the result,
not by reading the 'Blackwood' article, but by finding in a popular
monthly magazine two long articles,--the one an enthusiastic
recommendation of the Guiccioli book, and the other a lamentation over
the burning of the Autobiography as a lost chapter in history.

Both articles represented Lady Byron as a cold, malignant, mean,
persecuting woman, who had been her husband's ruin.  They were so full of
falsehoods and misstatements as to astonish me.  Not long after, a
literary friend wrote to me, 'Will you, can you, reconcile it to your
conscience to sit still and allow that mistress so to slander that
wife,--you, perhaps, the only one knowing the real facts, and able to set
them forth?'

Upon this, I immediately began collecting and reading the various
articles and the book, and perceived that the public of this generation
were in a way of having false history created, uncontradicted, under
their own eyes.

I claim for my countrymen and women, our right to true history.  For
years, the popular literature has held up publicly before our eyes the
facts as to this man and this woman, and called on us to praise or
condemn.  Let us have truth when we are called on to judge.  It is our

There is no conceivable obligation on a human being greater than that of
absolute justice.  It is the deepest personal injury to an honourable
mind to be made, through misrepresentation, an accomplice in injustice.
When a noble name is accused, any person who possesses truth which might
clear it, and withholds that truth, is guilty of a sin against human
nature and the inalienable rights of justice.  I claim that I have not
only a right, but an obligation, to bring in my solemn testimony upon
this subject.

For years and years, the silence-policy has been tried; and what has it
brought forth?  As neither word nor deed could be proved against Lady
Byron, her silence has been spoken of as a monstrous, unnatural crime, 'a
poisonous miasma,' in which she enveloped the name of her husband.

Very well; since silence is the crime, I thought I would tell the world
that Lady Byron had spoken.

Christopher North, years ago, when he condemned her for speaking, said
that she should speak further,--

'She should speak, or some one for her.  One word would suffice.'

That one word has been spoken.



An editorial in The London Times' of Sept. 18 says:--

   'The perplexing feature in this "True Story" is, that it is impossible
   to distinguish what part in it is the editress's, and what Lady
   Byron's own.  We are given the impression made on Mrs. Stowe's mind by
   Lady Byron's statements; but it would have been more satisfactory if
   the statement itself had been reproduced as bare as possible, and been
   left to make its own impression on the public.'

In reply to this, I will say, that in my article I gave a brief synopsis
of the subject-matter of Lady Byron's communications; and I think it must
be quite evident to the world that the main fact on which the story turns
was one which could not possibly be misunderstood, and the remembrance of
which no lapse of time could ever weaken.

Lady Byron's communications were made to me in language clear, precise,
terrible; and many of her phrases and sentences I could repeat at this
day, word for word.  But if I had reproduced them at first, as 'The
Times' suggests, word for word, the public horror and incredulity would
have been doubled.  It was necessary that the brutality of the story
should, in some degree, be veiled and softened.

The publication, by Lord Lindsay, of Lady Anne Barnard's communication,
makes it now possible to tell fully, and in Lady Byron's own words,
certain incidents that yet remain untold.  To me, who know the whole
history, the revelations in Lady Anne's account, and the story related by
Lady Byron, are like fragments of a dissected map: they fit together,
piece by piece, and form one connected whole.

In confirmation of the general facts of this interview, I have the
testimony of a sister who accompanied me on this visit, and to whom,
immediately after it, I recounted the story.

Her testimony on the subject is as follows:--

   'MY DEAR SISTER,--I have a perfect recollection of going with you to
   visit Lady Byron at the time spoken of in your published article.  We
   arrived at her house in the morning; and, after lunch, Lady Byron and
   yourself spent the whole time till evening alone together.

   'After we retired to our apartment that night, you related to me the
   story given in your published account, though with many more
   particulars than you have yet thought fit to give to the public.

   'You stated to me that Lady Byron was strongly impressed with the idea
   that it might be her duty to publish a statement during her lifetime,
   and also the reasons which induced her to think so.  You appeared at
   that time quite disposed to think that justice required this step, and
   asked my opinion.  We passed most of the night in conversation on the
   subject,--a conversation often resumed, from time to time, during
   several weeks in which you were considering what opinion to give.

   'I was strongly of opinion that justice required the publication of
   the truth, but felt exceedingly averse to its being done by Lady Byron
   herself during her own lifetime, when she personally would be subject
   to the comments and misconceptions of motives which would certainly
   follow such a communication.

                                 'Your sister,

                                       'M. F. PERKINS.'

I am now about to complete the account of my conversation with Lady
Byron; but as the credibility of a history depends greatly on the
character of its narrator, and as especial pains have been taken to
destroy the belief in this story by representing it to be the wanderings
of a broken-down mind in a state of dotage and mental hallucination, I
shall preface the narrative with some account of Lady Byron as she was
during the time of our mutual acquaintance and friendship.

This account may, perhaps, be deemed superfluous in England, where so
many knew her; but in America, where, from Maine to California, her
character has been discussed and traduced, it is of importance to give
interested thousands an opportunity of learning what kind of a woman Lady
Byron was.

Her character as given by Lord Byron in his Journal, after her first
refusal of him, is this:--

   'She is a very superior woman, and very little spoiled; which is
   strange in an heiress, a girl of twenty, a peeress that is to be in
   her own right, an only child, and a savante, who has always had her
   own way.  She is a poetess, a mathematician, a metaphysician; yet,
   withal, very kind, generous, and gentle, with very little pretension.
   Any other head would be turned with half her acquisitions and a tenth
   of her advantages.'

Such was Lady Byron at twenty.  I formed her acquaintance in the year
1853, during my first visit in England.  I met her at a lunch-party in
the house of one of her friends.

The party had many notables; but, among them all, my attention was fixed
principally on Lady Byron.  She was at this time sixty-one years of age,
but still had, to a remarkable degree, that personal attraction which is
commonly considered to belong only to youth and beauty.

Her form was slight, giving an impression of fragility; her motions were
both graceful and decided; her eyes bright, and full of interest and
quick observation.  Her silvery-white hair seemed to lend a grace to the
transparent purity of her complexion, and her small hands had a pearly
whiteness.  I recollect she wore a plain widow's cap of a transparent
material; and was dressed in some delicate shade of lavender, which
harmonised well with her complexion.

When I was introduced to her, I felt in a moment the words of her

   'There was awe in the homage that she drew;
   Her spirit seemed as seated on a throne.'

Calm, self-poised, and thoughtful, she seemed to me rather to resemble an
interested spectator of the world's affairs, than an actor involved in
its trials; yet the sweetness of her smile, and a certain very delicate
sense of humour in her remarks, made the way of acquaintance easy.

Her first remarks were a little playful; but in a few moments we were
speaking on what every one in those days was talking to me about,--the
slavery question in America.

It need not be remarked, that, when any one subject especially occupies
the public mind, those known to be interested in it are compelled to
listen to many weary platitudes.  Lady Byron's remarks, however, caught
my ear and arrested my attention by their peculiar incisive quality,
their originality, and the evidence they gave that she was as well
informed on all our matters as the best American statesman could be.  I
had no wearisome course to go over with her as to the difference between
the General Government and State Governments, nor explanations of the
United States Constitution; for she had the whole before her mind with a
perfect clearness.  Her morality upon the slavery question, too,
impressed me as something far higher and deeper than the common
sentimentalism of the day.  Many of her words surprised me greatly, and
gave me new material for thought.

I found I was in company with a commanding mind, and hastened to gain
instruction from her on another point where my interest had been aroused.
I had recently been much excited by Kingsley's novels, 'Alton Locke' and
'Yeast,' on the position of religious thought in England.  From these
works I had gathered, that under the apparent placid uniformity of the
Established Church of England, and of 'good society' as founded on it,
there was moving a secret current of speculative enquiry, doubt, and
dissent; but I had met, as yet, with no person among my various
acquaintances in England who seemed either aware of this fact, or able to
guide my mind respecting it.  The moment I mentioned the subject to Lady
Byron, I received an answer which showed me that the whole ground was
familiar to her, and that she was capable of giving me full information.
She had studied with careful thoughtfulness all the social and religious
tendencies of England during her generation.  One of her remarks has
often since occurred to me.  Speaking of the Oxford movement, she said
the time had come when the English Church could no longer remain as it
was.  It must either restore the past, or create a future.  The Oxford
movement attempted the former; and of the future she was beginning to
speak, when our conversation was interrupted by the presentation of other

Subsequently, in reply to a note from her on some benevolent business, I
alluded to that conversation, and expressed a wish that she would finish
giving me her views of the religious state of England.  A portion of the
letter that she wrote me in reply I insert, as being very characteristic
in many respects:--

   'Various causes have been assigned for the decaying state of the
   English Church; which seems the more strange, because the clergy have
   improved, morally and intellectually, in the last twenty years.  Then
   why should their influence be diminished?  I think it is owing to the
   diffusion of a spirit of free enquiry.

   'Doubts have arisen in the minds of many who are unhappily bound by
   subscription not to doubt; and, in consequence, they are habitually
   pretending either to believe or to disbelieve.  The state of Denmark
   cannot but be rotten, when to seem is the first object of the
   witnesses of truth.

   'They may lead better lives, and bring forward abler arguments; but
   their efforts are paralysed by that unsoundness.  I see the High
   Churchman professing to believe in the existence of a church, when the
   most palpable facts must show him that no such church exists; the
   "Low" Churchman professing to believe in exceptional interpositions
   which his philosophy secretly questions; the "Broad" Churchman
   professing as absolute an attachment to the Established Church as the
   narrowest could feel, while he is preaching such principles as will at
   last pull it down.

   'I ask you, my friend, whether there would not be more faith, as well
   as earnestness, if all would speak out.  There would be more unanimity
   too, because they would all agree in a certain basis.  Would not a
   wider love supersede the creed-bound charity of sects?

   'I am aware that I have touched on a point of difference between us,
   and I will not regret it; for I think the differences of mind are
   analogous to those differences of nature, which, in the most
   comprehensive survey, are the very elements of harmony.

   'I am not at all prone to put forth my own opinions; but the tone in
   which you have written to me claims an unusual degree of openness on
   my part.  I look upon creeds of all kinds as chains,--far worse chains
   than those you would break,--as the causes of much hypocrisy and
   infidelity.  I hold it to be a sin to make a child say, "I believe."
   Lead it to utter that belief spontaneously.  I also consider the
   institution of an exclusive priesthood, though having been of service
   in some respects, as retarding the progress of Christianity at
   present.  I desire to see a lay ministry.

   'I will not give you more of my heterodoxy at present: perhaps I need
   your pardon, connected as you are with the Church, for having said so

   'There are causes of decay known to be at work in my frame, which lead
   me to believe I may not have time to grow wiser; and I must therefore
   leave it to others to correct the conclusions I have now formed from
   my life's experience.  I should feel happy to discuss them personally
   with you; for it would be soul to soul.  In that confidence I am yours
   most truly,

                                     'A. I. NOEL BYRON.'

It is not necessary to prove to the reader that this letter is not in the
style of a broken-down old woman subject to mental hallucinations.  It
shows Lady Byron's habits of clear, searching analysis, her
thoughtfulness, and, above all, that peculiar reverence for truth and
sincerity which was a leading characteristic of her moral nature. {139}
It also shows her views of the probable shortness of her stay on earth,
derived from the opinion of physicians about her disease, which was a
gradual ossification of the lungs.  It has been asserted that pulmonary
diseases, while they slowly and surely sap the physical life, often
appear to give added vigour to the play of the moral and intellectual

I parted from Lady Byron, feeling richer in that I had found one more
pearl of great price on the shore of life.

Three years after this, I visited England to obtain a copyright for the
issue of my novel of 'Dred.'

The hope of once more seeing Lady Byron was one of the brightest
anticipations held out to me in this journey.  I found London quite
deserted; but, hearing that Lady Byron was still in town, I sent to her,
saying in my note, that, in case she was not well enough to call, I would
visit her.  Her reply I give:--

   'MY DEAR FRIEND,--I will be indebted to you for our meeting, as I am
   barely able to leave my room.  It is not a time for small
   personalities, if they could ever exist with you; and, dressed or
   undressed, I shall hope to see you after two o'clock.

                             'Yours very truly,

                                     'A. I. NOEL BYRON.'

I found Lady Byron in her sick-room,--that place which she made so
different from the chamber of ordinary invalids.  Her sick-room seemed
only a telegraphic station whence her vivid mind was flashing out all
over the world.

By her bedside stood a table covered with books, pamphlets, and files of
letters, all arranged with exquisite order, and each expressing some of
her varied interests.  From that sick-bed she still directed, with
systematic care, her various works of benevolence, and watched with
intelligent attention the course of science, literature, and religion;
and the versatility and activity of her mind, the flow of brilliant and
penetrating thought on all the topics of the day, gave to the
conversations of her retired room a peculiar charm.  You forgot that she
was an invalid; for she rarely had a word of her own personalities, and
the charm of her conversation carried you invariably from herself to the
subjects of which she was thinking.  All the new books, the literature of
the hour, were lighted up by her keen, searching, yet always kindly
criticism; and it was charming to get her fresh, genuine, clear-cut modes
of expression, so different from the world-worn phrases of what is called
good society.  Her opinions were always perfectly clear and positive, and
given with the freedom of one who has long stood in a position to judge
the world and its ways from her own standpoint.  But it was not merely in
general literature and science that her heart lay; it was following
always with eager interest the progress of humanity over the whole world.

This was the period of the great battle for liberty in Kansas.  The
English papers were daily filled with the thrilling particulars of that
desperate struggle, and Lady Byron entered with heart and soul into it.

Her first letter to me, at this time, is on this subject.  It was while
'Dred' was going through the press.

                                 'CAMBRIDGE TERRACE, Aug. 15.

   'MY DEAR MRS. STOWE,--Messrs. Chambers liked the proposal to publish
   the Kansas Letters.  The more the public know of these matters, the
   better prepared they will be for your book.  The moment for its
   publication seems well chosen.  There is always in England a floating
   fund of sympathy for what is above the everyday sordid cares of life;
   and these better feelings, so nobly invested for the last two years in
   Florence Nightingale's career, are just set free.  To what will they
   next be attached?  If you can lay hold of them, they may bring about a
   deeper abolition than any legislative one,--the abolition of the heart-
   heresy that man's worth comes, not from God, but from man.

   'I have been obliged to give up exertion again, but hope soon to be
   able to call and make the acquaintance of your daughters.  In case you
   wish to consult H. Martineau's pamphlets, I send more copies.  Do not
   think of answering: I have occupied too much of your time in reading.

                             'Yours affectionately,

                                  'A. I. NOEL BYRON.'

As soon as a copy of 'Dred' was through the press, I sent it to her,
saying that I had been reproved by some excellent people for representing
too faithfully the profane language of some of the wicked characters.  To
this she sent the following reply:--

   'Your book, dear Mrs. Stowe, is of the little leaven kind, and must
   prove a great moral force; perhaps not manifestly so much as secretly.
   And yet I can hardly conceive so much power without immediate and
   sensible effects: only there will be a strong disposition to resist on
   the part of all hollow-hearted professors of religion, whose
   heathenisms you so unsparingly expose.  They have a class feeling like

   'To the young, and to those who do not reflect much on what is offered
   to their belief, you will do great good by showing how spiritual food
   is often adulterated.  The bread from heaven is in the same case as
   bakers' bread.

   'If there is truth in what I heard Lord Byron say, that works of
   fiction live only by the amount of truth which they contain, your
   story is sure of a long life.  Of the few critiques I have seen, the
   best is in "The Examiner."  I find an obtuseness as to the spirit and
   aim of the book, as if you had designed to make the best novel of the
   season, or to keep up the reputation of one.  You are reproached, as
   Walter Scott was, with too much scriptural quotation; not, that I have
   heard, with phrases of an opposite character.

   'The effects of such reading till a late hour one evening appeared to
   influence me very singularly in a dream.  The most horrible spectres
   presented themselves, and I woke in an agony of fear; but a faith
   still stronger arose, and I became courageous from trust in God, and
   felt calm.  Did you do this?  It is very insignificant among the many
   things you certainly will do unknown to yourself.  I know more than
   ever before how to value communion with you.  I have sent Robertson's
   Sermons for you; and, with kind regards to your family, am

                             'Yours affectionately,

                                   'A. I. NOEL BYRON.'

I was struck in this note with the mention of Lord Byron, and, the next
time I saw her, alluded to it, and remarked upon the peculiar qualities
of his mind as shown in some of his more serious conversations with Dr.

She seemed pleased to continue the subject, and went on to say many
things of his singular character and genius, more penetrating and more
appreciative than is often met with among critics.

I told her that I had been from childhood powerfully influenced by him;
and began to tell her how much, as a child, I had been affected by the
news of his death,--giving up all my plays, and going off to a lonely
hillside, where I spent the afternoon thinking of him.  She interrupted
me before I had quite finished, with a quick, impulsive movement.  'I
know all that,' she said: 'I heard it all from Mrs. ---; and it was one
of the things that made me wish to know you.  I think you could
understand him.'  We talked for some time of him then; she, with her pale
face slightly flushed, speaking, as any other great man's widow might,
only of what was purest and best in his works, and what were his
undeniable virtues and good traits, especially in early life.  She told
me many pleasant little speeches made by him to herself; and, though
there was running through all this a shade of melancholy, one could never
have conjectured that there were under all any deeper recollections than
the circumstances of an ordinary separation might bring.

Not many days after, with the unselfishness which was so marked a trait
with her, she chose a day when she could be out of her room, and invited
our family party, consisting of my husband, sister, and children, to
lunch with her.

What showed itself especially in this interview was her tenderness for
all young people.  She had often enquired after mine; asked about their
characters, habits, and tastes; and on this occasion she found an
opportunity to talk with each one separately, and to make them all feel
at ease, so that they were able to talk with her.  She seemed interested
to point out to them what they should see and study in London; and the
charm of her conversation left on their minds an impression that
subsequent years have never effaced.  I record this incident, because it
shows how little Lady Byron assumed the privileges or had the character
of an invalid absorbed in herself, and likely to brood over her own woes
and wrongs.

Here was a family of strangers stranded in a dull season in London, and
there was no manner of obligation upon her to exert herself to show them
attention.  Her state of health would have been an all-sufficient reason
why she should not do it; and her doing it was simply a specimen of that
unselfish care for others, even down to the least detail, of which her
life was full.

A little while after, at her request, I went, with my husband and son, to
pass an evening at her house.

There were a few persons present whom she thought I should be interested
to know,--a Miss Goldsmid, daughter of Baron Goldsmid, and Lord Ockham,
her grandson, eldest son and heir of the Earl of Lovelace, to whom she
introduced my son.

I had heard much of the eccentricities of this young nobleman, and was
exceedingly struck with his personal appearance.  His bodily frame was of
the order of the Farnese Hercules,--a wonderful development of physical
and muscular strength.  His hands were those of a blacksmith.  He was
broadly and squarely made, with a finely-shaped head, and dark eyes of
surpassing brilliancy.  I have seldom seen a more interesting combination
than his whole appearance presented.

When all were engaged in talking, Lady Byron came and sat down by me, and
glancing across to Lord Ockham and my son, who were talking together, she
looked at me, and smiled.  I immediately expressed my admiration of his
fine eyes and the intellectual expression of his countenance, and my
wonder at the uncommon muscular development of his frame.

She said that that of itself would account for many of Ockham's
eccentricities.  He had a body that required a more vigorous animal life
than his station gave scope for, and this had often led him to seek it in
what the world calls low society; that he had been to sea as a sailor,
and was now working as a mechanic on the iron work of 'The Great
Eastern.'  He had laid aside his title, and went in daily with the other
workmen, requesting them to call him simply Ockham.

I said that there was something to my mind very fine about this, even
though it might show some want of proper balance.

She said he had noble traits, and that she felt assured he would yet
accomplish something worthy of himself.  'The great difficulty with our
nobility is apt to be, that they do not understand the working-classes,
so as to feel for them properly; and Ockham is now going through an
experience which may yet fit him to do great good when he comes to the
peerage.  I am trying to influence him to do good among the workmen, and
to interest himself in schools for their children.  I think,' she added,
'I have great influence over Ockham,--the greater, perhaps, that I never
make any claim to authority.'

This conversation is very characteristic of Lady Byron as showing her
benevolent analysis of character, and the peculiar hopefulness she always
had in regard to the future of every one brought in connection with her.
Her moral hopefulness was something very singular; and in this respect
she was so different from the rest of the world, that it would be
difficult to make her understood.  Her tolerance of wrong-doing would
have seemed to many quite latitudinarian, and impressed them as if she
had lost all just horror of what was morally wrong in transgression; but
it seemed her fixed habit to see faults only as diseases and
immaturities, and to expect them to fall away with time.

She saw the germs of good in what others regarded as only evil.  She
expected valuable results to come from what the world looked on only as
eccentricities; {147} and she incessantly devoted herself to the task of
guarding those whom the world condemned, and guiding them to those higher
results of which she often thought that even their faults were prophetic.

Before I quit this sketch of Lady Byron as I knew her, I will give one
more of her letters.  My return from that visit in Europe was met by the
sudden death of the son mentioned in the foregoing account.  At the time
of this sorrow, Lady Byron was too unwell to write to me.  The letter
given alludes to this event, and speaks also of two coloured persons of
remarkable talent, in whose career in England she had taken a deep
interest.  One of them is the 'friend' she speaks of.

                                  'LONDON, Feb. 6, 1859.

   DEAR MRS. STOWE,--I seem to feel our friend as a bridge, over which
   our broken outward communication can be renewed without effort.  Why
   broken?  The words I would have uttered at one time were like drops of
   blood from my heart.  Now I sympathise with the calmness you have
   gained, and can speak of your loss as I do of my own.  Loss and
   restoration are more and more linked in my mind, but "to the present
   live."  As long as they are in God's world they are in ours.  I ask no
   other consolation.

   'Mrs. W---'s recovery has astonished me, and her husband's prospects
   give me great satisfaction.  They have achieved a benefit to their
   coloured people.  She had a mission which her burning soul has worked
   out, almost in defiance of death.  But who is "called" without being
   "crucified," man or woman?  I know of none.

   'I fear that H. Martineau was too sanguine in her persuasion that the
   slave power had received a serious check from the ruin of so many of
   your Mammon-worshippers.  With the return of commercial facilities,
   that article of commerce will again find purchasers enough to raise
   its value.  Not that way is the iniquity to be overthrown.  A deeper
   moral earthquake is needed. {148}  We English had ours in India; and
   though the cases are far from being alike, yet a consciousness of what
   we ought to have been and ought to be toward the natives could not
   have been awakened by less than the reddened waters of the Ganges.  So
   I fear you will have to look on a day of judgment worse than has been

   'As to all the frauds and impositions which have been disclosed by the
   failures, what a want of the sense of personal responsibility they
   show.  It seems to be thought that "association" will "cover a
   multitude of sins;" as if "and Co." could enter heaven.  A firm may be
   described as a partnership for lowering the standard of morals.  Even
   ecclesiastical bodies are not free from the "and Co.;" very different
   from "the goodly fellowship of the apostles."

   'The better class of young gentlemen in England are seized with a
   mediaeval mania, to which Ruskin has contributed much.  The chief
   reason for regretting it is that taste is made to supersede
   benevolence.  The money that would save thousands from perishing or
   suffering must be applied to raise the Gothic edifice where their last
   prayer may be uttered.  Charity may be dead, while Art has glorified
   her.  This is worse than Catholicism, which cultivates heart and eye
   together.  The first cathedral was Truth, at the beginning of the
   fourth century, just as Christianity was exchanging a heavenly for an
   earthly crown.  True religion may have to cast away the symbol for the
   spirit before "the kingdom" can come.

   'While I am speculating to little purpose, perhaps you are doing--what?
   Might not a biography from your pen bring forth again some great, half-
   obscured soul to act on the world?  Even Sir Philip Sidney ought to be
   superseded by a still nobler type.

   'This must go immediately, to be in time for the bearer, of whose
   meeting with you I shall think as the friend of both.  May it be

                               'Your affectionate

                                       'A. I. N. B.'

One letter more from Lady Byron I give,--the last I received from her:--

                                   LONDON, May 3, 1859.

   DEAR FRIEND,--I have found, particularly as to yourself, that, if I
   did not answer from the first impulse, all had evaporated.  Your
   letter came by 'The Niagara,' which brought Fanny Kemble to learn the
   loss of her best friend, the Miss F---- whom you saw at my house.

   'Her death, after an illness in which she was to the last a minister
   of good to others, is a soul-loss to me also; and your remarks are
   most appropriate to my feelings.  I have been taught, however, to
   accept survivorship; even to feel it, in some cases, Heaven's best

   'I have an intense interest in your new novel. {149}  More power in
   these few numbers than in any of your former writings, relating, at
   least, to my own mind.  It would amuse you to hear my granddaughter
   and myself attempting to foresee the future of the love-story; being,
   for the moment, quite persuaded that James is at sea, and the minister
   about to ruin himself.  We think that Mary will labour to be in love
   with the self-devoted man, under her mother's influence, and from that
   hyper-conscientiousness so common with good girls; but we don't wish
   her to succeed.  Then what is to become of her older lover?  Time will

   'The lady you desired to introduce to me will be welcomed as of you.
   She has been misled with respect to my having any house in Yorkshire
   (New Leeds).  I am in London now to be of a little use to A----; not
   ostensibly, for I can neither go out, nor give parties: but I am the
   confidential friend to whom she likes to bring her social gatherings,
   as she can see something of the world with others.  Age and infirmity
   seem to be overlooked in what she calls the harmony between us,--not
   perfect agreement of opinion (which I should regret, with almost fifty
   years of difference), but the spirit-union: can you say what it is?

   'I am interrupted by a note from Mrs. K----.  She says that she cannot
   write of our lost friend yet, though she is less sad than she will be.
   Mrs. F---- may like to hear of her arrival, should you be in
   communication with our friend.  She is the type of youth in age.

   'I often converse with Miss S----, a judicious friend of the W----s,
   about what is likely to await them.  She would not succeed here as
   well as where she was a novelty.  The character of our climate this
   year has been injurious to the respiratory organs; but I hope still to
   serve them.

   'I have just missed Dale Owen, with whom I wished to have conversed on
   spiritualism. {150}  Harris is lecturing here on religion.  I do not
   hear him praised.

   'People are looking for helps to believe, everywhere but in life,--in
   music, in architecture, in antiquity, in ceremony; and upon all these
   is written, "Thou shalt not believe."  At least, if this be faith,
   happier the unbeliever.  I am willing to see through that materialism;
   but, if I am to rest there, I would rend the veil.

                                           'June 1.

   'The day of the packet's sailing.  I shall hope to be visited by you
   here.  The best flowers sent me have been placed in your little vases,
   giving life to the remembrance of you, though not, like them, to pass

                               'Ever yours,

                                   'A. I. NOEL BYRON.'

Shortly after, I was in England again, and had one more opportunity of
resuming our personal intercourse.  The first time that I called on Lady
Byron, I saw her in one of those periods of utter physical exhaustion to
which she was subject on account of the constant pressure of cares beyond
her strength.  All who knew her will testify, that, in a state of health
which would lead most persons to become helpless absorbents of service
from others, she was assuming burdens, and making outlays of her vital
powers in acts of love and service, with a generosity that often reduced
her to utter exhaustion.  But none who knew or loved her ever
misinterpreted the coldness of those seasons of exhaustion.  We knew that
it was not the spirit that was chilled, but only the frail mortal
tabernacle.  When I called on her at this time, she could not see me at
first; and when, at last, she came, it was evident that she was in a
state of utter prostration.  Her hands were like ice; her face was deadly
pale; and she conversed with a restraint and difficulty which showed what
exertion it was for her to keep up at all.  I left as soon as possible,
with an appointment for another interview.  That interview was my last on
earth with her, and is still beautiful in memory.  It was a long, still
summer afternoon, spent alone with her in a garden, where we walked
together.  She was enjoying one of those bright intervals of freedom from
pain and languor, in which her spirits always rose so buoyant and
youthful; and her eye brightened, and her step became elastic.

One last little incident is cherished as most expressive of her.  When it
became time for me to leave, she took me in her carriage to the station.
As we were almost there, I missed my gloves, and said, 'I must have left
them; but there is not time to go back.'

With one of those quick, impulsive motions which were so natural to her
in doing a kindness, she drew off her own and said, 'Take mine if they
will serve you.'

I hesitated a moment; and then the thought, that I might never see her
again, came over me, and I said, 'Oh, yes! thanks.'  That was the last
earthly word of love between us.  But, thank God, those who love worthily
never meet for the last time: there is always a future.


I now come to the particulars of that most painful interview which has
been the cause of all this controversy.  My sister and myself were going
from London to Eversley to visit the Rev. C. Kingsley.  On our way, we
stopped, by Lady Byron's invitation, to lunch with her at her summer
residence on Ham Common, near Richmond; and it was then arranged, that on
our return, we should make her a short visit, as she said she had a
subject of importance on which she wished to converse with me alone.

On our return from Eversley, we arrived at her house in the morning.

It appeared to be one of Lady Byron's well days.  She was up and dressed,
and moved about her house with her usual air of quiet simplicity; as full
of little acts of consideration for all about her as if they were the
habitual invalids, and she the well person.

There were with her two ladies of her most intimate friends, by whom she
seemed to be regarded with a sort of worship.  When she left the room for
a moment, they looked after her with a singular expression of respect and
affection, and expressed freely their admiration of her character, and
their fears that her unselfishness might be leading her to over-exertion.

After lunch, I retired with Lady Byron; and my sister remained with her
friends.  I should here remark, that the chief subject of the
conversation which ensued was not entirely new to me.  In the interval
between my first and second visits to England, a lady who for many years
had enjoyed Lady Byron's friendship and confidence, had, with her
consent, stated the case generally to me, giving some of the incidents:
so that I was in a manner prepared for what followed.

Those who accuse Lady Byron of being a person fond of talking upon this
subject, and apt to make unconsidered confidences, can have known very
little of her, of her reserve, and of the apparent difficulty she had in
speaking on subjects nearest her heart.

Her habitual calmness and composure of manner, her collected dignity on
all occasions, are often mentioned by her husband, sometimes with
bitterness, sometimes with admiration.  He says, 'Though I accuse Lady
Byron of an excess of self-respect, I must in candour admit that, if ever
a person had excuse for an extraordinary portion of it, she has; as, in
all her thoughts, words, and deeds, she is the most decorous woman that
ever existed, and must appear, what few I fancy could, a perfectly
refined gentlewoman, even to her femme de chambre.'

This calmness and dignity were never more manifested than in this
interview.  In recalling the conversation at this distance of time, I
cannot remember all the language used.  Some particular words and forms
of expression I do remember, and those I give; and in other cases I give
my recollection of the substance of what was said.

There was something awful to me in the intensity of repressed emotion
which she showed as she proceeded.  The great fact upon which all turned
was stated in words that were unmistakable:--

'He was guilty of incest with his sister!'

She here became so deathly pale, that I feared she would faint; and
hastened to say, 'My dear friend, I have heard that.'  She asked quickly,
'From whom?' and I answered, 'From Mrs. ----;' when she replied, 'Oh,
yes!' as if recollecting herself.

I then asked her some questions; in reply to which she said, 'I will tell

She then spoke of her first acquaintance with Lord Byron; from which I
gathered that she, an only child, brought up in retirement, and living
much within herself, had been, as deep natures often were, intensely
stirred by his poetry; and had felt a deep interest in him personally, as
one that had the germs of all that is glorious and noble.

When she was introduced to him, and perceived his admiration of herself,
and at last received his offer, although deeply moved, she doubted her
own power to be to him all that a wife should be.  She declined his
offer, therefore, but desired to retain his friendship.  After this, as
she said, a correspondence ensued, mostly on moral and literary subjects;
and, by this correspondence, her interest in him was constantly

At last, she said, he sent her a very beautiful letter, offering himself
again.  'I thought,' she added, 'that it was sincere, and that I might
now show him all I felt.  I wrote just what was in my heart.

'Afterwards,' she said, 'I found in one of his journals this notice of my
letter: "A letter from Bell,--never rains but it pours."'

There was through her habitual calm a shade of womanly indignation as she
spoke these words; but it was gone in a moment.  I said, 'And did he not
love you, then?'  She answered, 'No, my dear: he did not love me.'

'Why, then, did he wish to marry you?'  She laid her hand on mine, and
said in a low voice, 'You will see.'

She then told me, that, shortly after the declared engagement, he came to
her father's house to visit her as an accepted suitor.  The visit was to
her full of disappointment.  His appearance was so strange, moody, and
unaccountable, and his treatment of her so peculiar, that she came to the
conclusion that he did not love her, and sought an opportunity to
converse with him alone.

She told him that she saw from his manner that their engagement did not
give him pleasure; that she should never blame him if he wished to
dissolve it; that his nature was exceptional; and if, on a nearer view of
the situation, he shrank from it, she would release him, and remain no
less than ever his friend.

Upon this, she said, he fainted entirely away.

She stopped a moment, and then, as if speaking with great effort, added,
'Then I was sure he must love me.'

'And did he not?' said I.  'What other cause could have led to this

She looked at me very sadly, and said, 'Fear of detection.'

'What!' said I, 'did that cause then exist?'

'Yes,' she said, 'it did.'  And she explained that she now attributed
Lord Byron's great agitation to fear, that, in some way, suspicion of the
crime had been aroused in her mind, and that on this account she was
seeking to break the engagement.  She said, that, from that moment, her
sympathies were aroused for him, to soothe the remorse and anguish which
seemed preying on his mind, and which she then regarded as the
sensibility of an unusually exacting moral nature, which judged itself by
higher standards, and condemned itself unsparingly for what most young
men of his times regarded as venial faults.  She had every hope for his
future, and all the enthusiasm of belief that so many men and women of
those times and ours have had in his intrinsic nobleness.  She said the
gloom, however, seemed to be even deeper when he came to the marriage;
but she looked at it as the suffering of a peculiar being, to whom she
was called to minister.  I said to her, that, even in the days of my
childhood, I had heard of something very painful that had passed as they
were in the carriage, immediately after marriage.  She then said that it
was so; that almost his first words, when they were alone, were, that she
might once have saved him; that, if she had accepted him when he first
offered, she might have made him anything she pleased; but that, as it
was, she would find she had married a devil.

The conversation, as recorded in Lady Anne Barnard's Diary, seems only a
continuation of the foregoing, and just what might have followed upon it.

I then asked how she became certain of the true cause.

She said, that, from the outset of their married life, his conduct
towards her was strange and unaccountable, even during the first weeks
after the wedding, while they were visiting her friends, and outwardly on
good terms.  He seemed resolved to shake and combat both her religious
principles and her views of the family state.  He tried to undermine her
faith in Christianity as a rule of life by argument and by ridicule.  He
set before her the Continental idea of the liberty of marriage; it being
a simple partnership of friendship and property, the parties to which
were allowed by one another to pursue their own separate individual
tastes.  He told her, that, as he could not be expected to confine
himself to her, neither should he expect or wish that she should confine
herself to him; that she was young and pretty, and could have her lovers,
and he should never object; and that she must allow him the same freedom.

She said that she did not comprehend to what this was tending till after
they came to London, and his sister came to stay with them.

At what precise time the idea of an improper connection between her
husband and his sister was first forced upon her, she did not say; but
she told me how it was done.  She said that one night, in her presence,
he treated his sister with a liberty which both shocked and astonished
her.  Seeing her amazement and alarm, he came up to her, and said, in a
sneering tone, 'I suppose you perceive you are not wanted here.  Go to
your own room, and leave us alone.  We can amuse ourselves better without

She said, 'I went to my room, trembling.  I fell down on my knees, and
prayed to my heavenly Father to have mercy on them.  I thought, "What
shall I do?"'

I remember, after this, a pause in the conversation, during which she
seemed struggling with thoughts and emotions; and, for my part, I was
unable to utter a word, or ask a question.

She did not tell me what followed immediately upon this, nor how soon
after she spoke on the subject with either of the parties.  She first
began to speak of conversations afterwards held with Lord Byron, in which
he boldly avowed the connection as having existed in time past, and as
one that was to continue in time to come; and implied that she must
submit to it.  She put it to his conscience as concerning his sister's
soul, and he said that it was no sin, that it was the way the world was
first peopled: the Scriptures taught that all the world descended from
one pair; and how could that be unless brothers married their sisters?
that, if not a sin then, it could not be a sin now.

I immediately said, 'Why, Lady Byron, those are the very arguments given
in the drama of "Cain."'

'The very same,' was her reply.  'He could reason very speciously on this
subject.'  She went on to say, that, when she pressed him hard with the
universal sentiment of mankind as to the horror and the crime, he took
another turn, and said that the horror and crime were the very
attraction; that he had worn out all ordinary forms of sin, and that he
'longed for the stimulus of a new kind of vice.'  She set before him the
dread of detection; and then he became furious.  She should never be the
means of his detection, he said.  She should leave him; that he was
resolved upon: but she should always bear all the blame of the
separation.  In the sneering tone which was common with him, he said,
'The world will believe me, and it will not believe you.  The world has
made up its mind that "By" is a glorious boy; and the world will go for
"By," right or wrong.  Besides, I shall make it my life's object to
discredit you: I shall use all my powers.  Read "Caleb Williams," {161}
and you will see that I shall do by you just as Falkland did by Caleb.'

I said that all this seemed to me like insanity.  She said that she was
for a time led to think that it was insanity, and excused and pitied him;
that his treatment of her expressed such hatred and malignity, that she
knew not what else to think of it; that he seemed resolved to drive her
out of the house at all hazards, and threatened her, if she should
remain, in a way to alarm the heart of any woman: yet, thinking him
insane, she left him at last with the sorrow with which anyone might
leave a dear friend whose reason was wholly overthrown, and to whom in
this desolation she was no longer permitted to minister.

I inquired in one of the pauses of the conversation whether Mrs. Leigh
was a peculiarly beautiful or attractive woman.

'No, my dear: she was plain.'

'Was she, then, distinguished for genius or talent of any kind?'

'Oh, no!  Poor woman! she was weak, relatively to him, and wholly under
his control.'

'And what became of her?' I said.

'She afterwards repented, and became a truly good woman.'  I think it was
here she mentioned that she had frequently seen and conversed with Mrs.
Leigh in the latter part of her life; and she seemed to derive comfort
from the recollection.

I asked, 'Was there a child?'  I had been told by Mrs. ---- that there
was a daughter, who had lived some years.

She said there was one, a daughter, who made her friends much trouble,
being of a very difficult nature to manage.  I had understood that at one
time this daughter escaped from her friends to the Continent, and that
Lady Byron assisted in efforts to recover her.  Of Lady Byron's kindness
both to Mrs. Leigh and the child, I had before heard from Mrs. ----, who
gave me my first information.

It is also strongly impressed on my mind, that Lady Byron, in answer to
some question of mine as to whether there was ever any meeting between
Lord Byron and his sister after he left England, answered, that she had
insisted upon it, or made it a condition, that Mrs. Leigh should not go
abroad to him.

When the conversation as to events was over, as I stood musing, I said,
'Have you no evidence that he repented?' and alluded to the mystery of
his death, and the message be endeavoured to utter.

She answered quickly, and with great decision, that whatever might have
been his meaning at that hour, she felt sure he had finally repented; and
added with great earnestness, 'I do not believe that any child of the
heavenly Father is ever left to eternal sin.'

I said that such a hope was most delightful to my feelings, but that I
had always regarded the indulgence of it as a dangerous one.

Her look, voice, and manner, at that moment, are indelibly fixed in my
mind.  She looked at me so sadly, so firmly, and said,--

'Danger, Mrs. Stowe!  What danger can come from indulging that hope, like
the danger that comes from not having it?'

I said in my turn, 'What danger comes from not having it?'

'The danger of losing all faith in God,' she said, 'all hope for others,
all strength to try and save them.  I once knew a lady,' she added, 'who
was in a state of scepticism and despair from belief in that doctrine.  I
think I saved her by giving her my faith.'

I was silent; and she continued: 'Lord Byron believed in eternal
punishment fully: for though he reasoned against Christianity as it is
commonly received, he could not reason himself out of it; and I think it
made him desperate.  He used to say, "The worst of it is I do believe."
Had he seen God as I see him, I am sure his heart would have relented.'

She went on to say, that his sins, great as they were, admitted of much
palliation and excuse; that he was the child of singular and ill-matched
parents; that he had an organisation originally fine, but one capable
equally of great good or great evil; that in his childhood he had only
the worst and most fatal influences; that he grew up into manhood with no
guide; that there was everything in the classical course of the schools
to develop an unhealthy growth of passion, and no moral influence of any
kind to restrain it; that the manners of his day were corrupt; that what
were now considered vices in society were then spoken of as matters of
course among young noblemen; that drinking, gaming, and licentiousness
everywhere abounded and that, up to a certain time, he was no worse than
multitudes of other young men of his day,--only that the vices of his day
were worse for him.  The excesses of passion, the disregard of physical
laws in eating, drinking, and living, wrought effects on him that they
did not on less sensitively organised frames, and prepared him for the
evil hour when he fell into the sin which shaded his whole life.  All the
rest was a struggle with its consequences,--sinning more and more to
conceal the sin of the past.  But she believed he never outlived remorse;
that he always suffered; and that this showed that God had not utterly
forsaken him.  Remorse, she said, always showed moral sensibility, and,
while that remained, there was always hope.

She now began to speak of her grounds for thinking it might be her duty
fully to publish this story before she left the world.

First she said that, through the whole course of her life, she had felt
the eternal value of truth, and seen how dreadful a thing was falsehood,
and how fearful it was to be an accomplice in it, even by silence.  Lord
Byron had demoralised the moral sense of England, and he had done it in a
great degree by the sympathy excited by falsehood.  This had been pleaded
in extenuation of all his crimes and vices, and led to a lowering of the
standard of morals in the literary world.  Now it was proposed to print
cheap editions of his works, and sell them among the common people, and
interest them in him by the circulation of this same story.

She then said in effect, that she believed in retribution and suffering
in the future life, and that the consequences of sins here follow us
there; and it was strongly impressed upon her mind that Lord Byron must
suffer in looking on the evil consequences of what he had done in this
life, and in seeing the further extension of that evil.

'It has sometimes strongly appeared to me,' she said, 'that he cannot be
at peace until this injustice has been righted.  Such is the strong
feeling that I have when I think of going where he is.'

These things, she said, had led her to inquire whether it might not be
her duty to make a full and clear disclosure before she left the world.

Of course, I did not listen to this story as one who was investigating
its worth.  I received it as truth.  And the purpose for which it was
communicated was not to enable me to prove it to the world, but to ask my
opinion whether she should show it to the world before leaving it.  The
whole consultation was upon the assumption that she had at her command
such proofs as could not be questioned.

Concerning what they were I did not minutely inquire: only, in answer to
a general question, she said that she had letters and documents in proof
of her story.  Knowing Lady Byron's strength of mind, her
clear-headedness, her accurate habits, and her perfect knowledge of the
matter, I considered her judgment on this point decisive.

I told her that I would take the subject into consideration, and give my
opinion in a few days.  That night, after my sister and myself had
retired to our own apartment, I related to her the whole history, and we
spent the night in talking of it.  I was powerfully impressed with the
justice and propriety of an immediate disclosure; while she, on the
contrary, represented the painful consequences that would probably come
upon Lady Byron from taking such a step.

Before we parted the next day, I requested Lady Byron to give me some
memoranda of such dates and outlines of the general story as would enable
me better to keep it in its connection; which she did.

On giving me the paper, Lady Byron requested me to return it to her when
it had ceased to be of use to me for the purpose indicated.

Accordingly, a day or two after, I enclosed it to her in a hasty note, as
I was then leaving London for Paris, and had not yet had time fully to
consider the subject.

On reviewing my note, I can recall that then the whole history appeared
to me like one of those singular cases where unnatural impulses to vice
are the result of a taint of constitutional insanity.  This has always
seemed to me the only way of accounting for instances of utterly
motiveless and abnormal wickedness and cruelty.  These my first
impressions were expressed in the hasty note written at the time:--

                                'LONDON, Nov. 5, 1856.

   'DEAREST FRIEND,--I return these.  They have held mine eyes waking!
   How strange! how unaccountable!  Have you ever subjected the facts to
   the judgment of a medical man learned in nervous pathology?

   'Is it not insanity?

   "Great wits to madness nearly are allied,
   And thin partitions do their bounds divide."

   'But my purpose to-night is not to write you fully what I think of
   this matter.  I am going to write to you from Paris more at leisure.'

The rest of the letter was taken up in the final details of a charity in
which Lady Byron had been engaged with me in assisting an unfortunate
artist.  It concludes thus:--

   'I write now in all haste, en route for Paris.  As to America, all is
   not lost yet. {168}  Farewell!  I love you, my dear friend, as never
   before, with an intense feeling I cannot easily express.  God bless

                                        'H. B. S.'

The next letter is as follows:--

                                  'Paris, Dec. 17, 1856.

   'DEAR LADY BYRON,--The Kansas Committee have written me a letter
   desiring me to express to Miss ---- their gratitude for the five
   pounds she sent them.  I am not personally acquainted with her, and
   must return these acknowledgments through you.

   'I wrote you a day or two since, enclosing the reply of the Kansas
   Committee to you.

   'On that subject on which you spoke to me the last time we were
   together, I have thought often and deeply.

   'I have changed my mind somewhat.  Considering the peculiar
   circumstances of the case, I could wish that the sacred veil of
   silence, so bravely thrown over the past, should never be withdrawn
   during the time that you remain with us.

   'I would say, then, Leave all with some discreet friends, who, after
   both have passed from earth, shall say what was due to justice.

   'I am led to think this by seeing how low, how unjust, how unworthy,
   the judgments of this world are; and I would not that what I so much
   respect, love, and revere should be placed within reach of its harpy
   claw, which pollutes what it touches.

   'The day will yet come which will bring to light every hidden thing.
   "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that
   shall not be known;" and so justice will not fail.

   'Such, my dear friend, are my thoughts; different from what they were
   since first I heard that strange, sad history.  Meanwhile, I love you
   ever, whether we meet again on earth or not.

                                 'Affectionately yours,

                                      'H. B. S.'

The following letter will here be inserted as confirming a part of Lady
Byron's story:--


   'SIR,--I trust that you will hold me excused from any desire to be
   troublesome, or to rush into print.  Both these things are far from my
   wish.  But the publication of a book having for its object the
   vindication of Lord Byron's character, and the subsequent appearance
   in your magazine of Mrs. Stowe's article in defence of Lady Byron,
   having led to so much controversy in the various newspapers of the
   day, I feel constrained to put in a few words among the rest.

   'My father was intimately acquainted with Lady Byron's family for many
   years, both before and after her marriage; being, in fact, steward to
   Sir Ralph Milbanke at Seaham, where the marriage took place; and, from
   all my recollections of what he told me of the affair (and he used
   often to talk of it, up to the time of his death, eight years ago), I
   fully agree with Mrs. Stowe's view of the case, and desire to add my
   humble testimony to the truth of what she has stated.

   'Whilst Byron was staying at Seaham, previous to his marriage, he
   spent most of his time pistol-shooting in the plantations adjoining
   the hall, often making use of his glove as a mark; his servant being
   with him to load for him.

   'When all was in readiness for the wedding-ceremony (which took place
   in the drawing-room of the hall), Byron had to be sought for in the
   grounds, where he was walking in his usual surly mood.

   'After the marriage, they posted to Halnaby Lodge in Yorkshire, a
   distance of about forty miles; to which place my father accompanied
   them, and he always spoke strongly of Lady Byron's apparent distress
   during and at the end of the journey.

   'The insulting words mentioned by Mrs. Stowe were spoken by Byron
   before leaving the park at Seaham; after which he appeared to sit in
   moody silence, reading a book, for the rest of the journey.  At
   Halnaby, a number of persons, tenants and others, were met to cheer
   them on their arrival.  Of these he took not the slightest notice, but
   jumped out of the carriage, and walked away, leaving his bride to
   alight by herself.  She shook hands with my father, and begged that he
   would see that some refreshment was supplied to those who had thus
   come to welcome them.

   'I have in my possession several letters (which I should be glad to
   show to anyone interested in the matter) both from Lady Byron, and her
   mother, Lady Milbanke, to my father, all showing the deep and kind
   interest which they took in the welfare of all connected with them,
   and directing the distribution of various charities, etc.  Pensions
   were allowed both to the old servants of the Milbankes and to several
   poor persons in the village and neighbourhood for the rest of their
   lives; and Lady Byron never ceased to take a lively interest in all
   that concerned them.

   'I desire to tender my humble thanks to Mrs. Stowe for having come
   forward in defence of one whose character has been much
   misrepresented; and to you, sir, for having published the same in your

                     'I have the honour to be, sir, yours obediently,

                                     'G. H. AIRD.



I have now fulfilled as conscientiously as possible the requests of those
who feel that they have a right to know exactly what was said in this

It has been my object, in doing this, to place myself just where I should
stand were I giving evidence under oath before a legal tribunal.  In my
first published account, there were given some smaller details of the
story, of no particular value to the main purpose of it, which I received
not from Lady Byron, but from her confidential friend.  One of these was
the account of her seeing Lord Byron's favourite spaniel lying at his
door, and the other was the scene of the parting.

The first was communicated to me before I ever saw Lady Byron, and under
these circumstances:--I was invited to meet her, and had expressed my
desire to do so, because Lord Byron had been all my life an object of
great interest to me.  I inquired what sort of a person Lady Byron was.
My friend spoke of her with enthusiasm.  I then said, 'but of course she
never loved Lord Byron, or she would not have left him.'  The lady
answered, 'I can show you with what feelings she left him by relating
this story;' and then followed the anecdote.

Subsequently, she also related to me the other story of the parting-scene
between Lord and Lady Byron.  In regard to these two incidents, my
recollection is clear.

It will be observed by the reader that Lady Byron's conversation with me
was simply for consultation on one point, and that point whether she
herself should publish the story before her death.  It was not,
therefore, a complete history of all the events in their order, but
specimens of a few incidents and facts.  Her object was, not to prove her
story to me, nor to put me in possession of it with a view to my proving
it, but simply and briefly to show me what it was, that I might judge as
to the probable results of its publication at that time.

It therefore comprised primarily these points:--

1.  An exact statement, in so many words, of the crime.

2.  A statement of the manner in which it was first forced on her
attention by Lord Byron's words and actions, including his admissions and
defences of it.

3.  The admission of a period when she had ascribed his whole conduct to

4.  A reference to later positive evidences of guilt, the existence of a
child, and Mrs. Leigh's subsequent repentance.

And here I have a word to say in reference to the alleged inaccuracies of
my true story.

The dates that Lady Byron gave me on the memoranda did not relate either
to the time of the first disclosure, or the period when her doubts became
certainties; nor did her conversation touch either of these points: and,
on a careful review of the latter, I see clearly that it omitted dwelling
upon anything which I might be supposed to have learned from her already
published statement.

I re-enclosed that paper to her from London, and have never seen it

In writing my account, which I designed to do in the most general terms,
I took for my guide Miss Martineau's published Memoir of Lady Byron,
which has long stood uncontradicted before the public, of which
Macmillan's London edition is now before me.  The reader is referred to
page 316, which reads thus:--

'She was born 1792; married in January 1814; returned to her father's
house in 1816; died on May 16, 1860.'  This makes her married life two
years; but we need not say that the date is inaccurate, as Lady Byron was
married in 1815.

Supposing Lady Byron's married life to have covered two years, I could
only reconcile its continuance for that length of time to her uncertainty
as to his sanity; to deceptions practised on her, making her doubt at one
time, and believe at another; and his keeping her in a general state of
turmoil and confusion, till at last he took the step of banishing her.

Various other points taken from Miss Martineau have also been attacked as
inaccuracies; for example, the number of executions in the house: but
these points, though of no importance, are substantially borne out by
Moore's statements.

This controversy, unfortunately, cannot be managed with the accuracy of a
legal trial.  Its course, hitherto, has rather resembled the course of a
drawing-room scandal, where everyone freely throws in an assertion, with
or without proof.  In making out my narrative, however, I shall use only
certain authentic sources, some of which have for a long time been before
the public, and some of which have floated up from the waves of the
recent controversy.  I consider as authentic sources,--

Moore's Life of Byron;

Lady Byron's own account of the separation, published in 1830;

Lady Byron's statements to me in 1856;

Lord Lindsay's communication, giving an extract from Lady Anne Barnard's
diary, and a copy of a letter from Lady Byron dated 1818, about three
years after her marriage;

Mrs. Mimms' testimony, as given in a daily paper published at Newcastle,

And Lady Byron's letters, as given recently in the late 'London

All which documents appear to arrange themselves into a connected series.

From these, then, let us construct the story.

According to Mrs. Mimms' account, which is likely to be accurate, the
time spent by Lord and Lady Byron in bridal-visiting was three weeks at
Halnaby Hall, and six weeks at Seaham, when Mrs. Mimms quitted their

During this first period of three weeks, Lord Byron's treatment of his
wife, as testified to by the servant, was such that she advised her young
mistress to return to her parents; and, at one time, Lady Byron had
almost resolved to do so.

What the particulars of his conduct were, the servant refuses to state;
being bound by a promise of silence to her mistress.  She, however,
testifies to a warm friendship existing between Lady Byron and Mrs.
Leigh, in a manner which would lead us to feel that Lady Byron received
and was received by Lord Byron's sister with the greatest affection.  Lady
Byron herself says to Lady Anne Barnard, 'I had heard that he was the
best of brothers;' and the inference is, that she, at an early period of
her married life, felt the greatest confidence in his sister, and wished
to have her with them as much as possible.  In Lady Anne's account, this
wish to have the sister with her was increased by Lady Byron's distress
at her husband's attempts to corrupt her principles with regard to
religion and marriage.

In Moore's Life, vol. iii., letter 217, Lord Byron writes from Seaham to
Moore, under date of March 8, sending a copy of his verses in Lady
Byron's handwriting, and saying, 'We shall leave this place to-morrow,
and shall stop on our way to town, in the interval of taking a house
there, at Colonel Leigh's, near Newmarket, where any epistle of yours
will find its welcome way.  I have been very comfortable here, listening
to that d---d monologue which elderly gentlemen call conversation, in
which my pious father-in-law repeats himself every evening, save one,
when he played upon the fiddle.  However, they have been vastly kind and
hospitable, and I like them and the place vastly; and I hope they will
live many happy months.  Bell is in health and unvaried good-humour and
behaviour; but we are in all the agonies of packing and parting.'

Nine days after this, under date of March 17, Lord Byron says, 'We mean
to metropolize to-morrow, and you will address your next to Piccadilly.'
The inference is, that the days intermediate were spent at Colonel
Leigh's.  The next letters, and all subsequent ones for six months, are
dated from Piccadilly.

As we have shown, there is every reason to believe that a warm friendship
had thus arisen between Mrs. Leigh and Lady Byron, and that, during all
this time, Lady Byron desired as much of the society of her sister-in-law
as possible.  She was a married woman and a mother, her husband's nearest
relative; and Lady Byron could with more propriety ask, from her, counsel
or aid in respect to his peculiarities than she could from her own
parents.  If we consider the character of Lady Byron as given by Mrs.
Mimms, that of a young person of warm but repressed feeling, without
sister or brother, longing for human sympathy, and having so far found no
relief but in talking with a faithful dependant,--we may easily see that
the acquisition of a sister through Lord Byron might have been all in all
to her, and that the feelings which he checked and rejected for himself
might have flowed out towards his sister with enthusiasm.  The date of
Mrs. Leigh's visit does not appear.

The first domestic indication in Lord Byron's letters from London is the
announcement of the death of Lady Byron's uncle, Lord Wentworth, from
whom came large expectations of property.  Lord Byron had mentioned him
before in his letters as so kind to Bell and himself that he could not
find it in his heart to wish him in heaven if he preferred staying here.
In his letter of April 23, he mentions going to the play immediately
after hearing this news, 'although,' as he says, 'he ought to have stayed
at home in sackcloth for "unc."'

On June 12, he writes that Lady Byron is more than three months advanced
in her progress towards maternity; and that they have been out very
little, as he wishes to keep her quiet.  We are informed by Moore that
Lord Byron was at this time a member of the Drury-Lane Theatre Committee;
and that, in this unlucky connection, one of the fatalities of the first
year of trial as a husband lay.  From the strain of Byron's letters, as
given in Moore, it is apparent, that, while he thinks it best for his
wife to remain at home, he does not propose to share the retirement, but
prefers running his own separate career with such persons as thronged the
greenroom of the theatre in those days.

In commenting on Lord Byron's course, we must not by any means be
supposed to indicate that he was doing any more or worse than most gay
young men of his time.  The licence of the day as to getting drunk at
dinner-parties, and leading, generally, what would, in these days, be
called a disorderly life, was great.  We should infer that none of the
literary men of Byron's time would have been ashamed of being drunk
occasionally.  The Noctes Ambrosianae Club of 'Blackwood' is full of
songs glorying, in the broadest terms, in out-and-out drunkenness, and
inviting to it as the highest condition of a civilised being. {178a}

But drunkenness upon Lord Byron had a peculiar and specific effect, which
he notices afterwards, in his Journal, at Venice: 'The effect of all
wines and spirits upon me is, however, strange.  It settles, but makes me
gloomy--gloomy at the very moment of their effect: it composes, however,
though sullenly.' {178b}  And, again, in another place, he says, 'Wine
and spirits make me sullen, and savage to ferocity.'

It is well known that the effects of alcoholic excitement are various as
the natures of the subjects.  But by far the worst effects, and the most
destructive to domestic peace, are those that occur in cases where
spirits, instead of acting on the nerves of motion, and depriving the
subject of power in that direction, stimulate the brain so as to produce
there the ferocity, the steadiness, the utter deadness to compassion or
conscience, which characterise a madman.  How fearful to a sensitive
young mother in the period of pregnancy might be the return of such a
madman to the domestic roof!  Nor can we account for those scenes
described in Lady Anne Barnard's letters, where Lord Byron returned from
his evening parties to try torturing experiments on his wife, otherwise
than by his own statement, that spirits, while they steadied him, made
him 'gloomy, and savage to ferocity.'

Take for example this:--

   'One night, coming home from one of his lawless parties, he saw me
   (Lady B.) so indignantly collected, and bearing all with such a
   determined calmness, that a rush of remorse seemed to come over him.
   He called himself a monster, and, though his sister was present, threw
   himself in agony at my feet.  "I could not, no, I could not, forgive
   him such injuries!  He had lost me forever!"  Astonished at this
   return to virtue, my tears, I believe, flowed over his face; and I
   said, "Byron, all is forgotten; never, never shall you hear of it

   'He started up, and folding his arms while he looked at me, burst out
   into laughter.  "What do you mean?" said I.  "Only a philosophical
   experiment; that's all," said he.  "I wished to ascertain the value of
   your resolutions."'

To ascribe such deliberate cruelty as this to the effect of drink upon
Lord Byron, is the most charitable construction that can be put upon his

Yet the manners of the period were such, that Lord Byron must have often
come to this condition while only doing what many of his acquaintances
did freely, and without fear of consequences.

Mr. Moore, with his usual artlessness, gives us an idea of a private
supper between himself and Lord Byron.  We give it, with our own italics,
as a specimen of many others:--

   'Having taken upon me to order the repast, and knowing that Lord Byron
   for the last two days had done nothing towards sustenance beyond
   eating a few biscuits and (to appease appetite) chewing mastic, I
   desired that we should have a good supply of at least two kinds of
   fish.  My companion, however, confined himself to lobsters; and of
   these finished two or three, to his own share, interposing, sometimes,
   a small liqueur-glass of strong white brandy, sometimes a tumbler of
   very hot water, and then pure brandy again, to the amount of near half
   a dozen small glasses of the latter, without which, alternately with
   the hot water, he appeared to think the lobster could not be digested.
   After this, we had claret, of which, having despatched two bottles
   between us, at about four o'clock in the morning we parted.

   'As Pope has thought his "delicious lobster-nights" worth
   commemorating, these particulars of one in which Lord Byron was
   concerned may also have some interest.

   'Among other nights of the same description which I had the happiness
   of passing with him, I remember once, in returning home from some
   assembly at rather a late hour, we saw lights in the windows of his
   old haunt, Stevens's in Bond Street, and agreed to stop there and sup.
   On entering, we found an old friend of his, Sir G---- W----, who
   joined our party; and, the lobsters and brandy and water being put in
   requisition, it was (as usual on such occasions) broad daylight before
   we separated.'--Vol. iii. p.83.

During the latter part of Lady Byron's pregnancy, it appears from Moore
that Byron was, night after night, engaged out at dinner parties, in
which getting drunk was considered as of course the finale, as appears
from the following letters:--

                               (LETTER 228.)

                               TO MR. MOORE.

                                   'TERRACE, PICCADILLY, OCT. 31,1815.

   'I have not been able to ascertain precisely the time of duration of
   the stock-market; but I believe it is a good time for selling out, and
   I hope so.  First, because I shall see you; and, next, because I shall
   receive certain moneys on behalf of Lady B., the which will materially
   conduce to my comfort; I wanting (as the duns say) "to make up a sum."

   'Yesterday I dined out with a large-ish party, where were Sheridan and
   Colman, Harry Harris, of C. G., and his brother, Sir Gilbert
   Heathcote, Ds. Kinnaird, and others of note and notoriety.  Like other
   parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then
   argumentative, then disputatious, then unintelligible, * then
   altogethery, then inarticulate, and then drunk.  When we had reached
   the last step of this glorious ladder, it was difficult to get down
   again without stumbling; and, to crown all, Kinnaird and I had to
   conduct Sheridan down a d---d corkscrew staircase, which had certainly
   been constructed before the discovery of fermented liquors, and to
   which no legs, however crooked, could possibly accommodate themselves.
   We deposited him safe at home, where his man, evidently used to the
   business, {181} waited to receive him in the hall.

   'Both he and Colman were, as usual, very good; but I carried away much
   wine, and the wine had previously carried away my memory: so that all
   was hiccough and happiness for the last hour or so, and I am not
   impregnated with any of the conversation.  Perhaps you heard of a late
   answer of Sheridan to the watchman who found him bereft of that
   "divine particle of air" called reason . . . He (the watchman) found
   Sherry in the street fuddled and bewildered, and almost insensible.
   "Who are you, sir?"--No answer.  "What's your name?"--A hiccough.
   "What's your name?"--Answer, in a slow, deliberate, and impassive
   tone, "Wilberforce!"  Is not that Sherry all over?--and, to my mind,
   excellent.  Poor fellow, his very dregs are better than the "first
   sprightly runnings" of others.

   'My paper is full, and I have a grievous headache.

   'P.S.--Lady B. is in full progress.  Next month will bring to light
   (with the aid of "Juno Lucina, fer opem," or rather opes, for the last
   are most wanted) the tenth wonder of the world; Gil Blas being the
   eighth, and he (my son's father) the ninth.'

Here we have a picture of the whole story,--Lady Byron within a month of
her confinement; her money being used to settle debts; her husband out at
a dinner-party, going through the usual course of such parties, able to
keep his legs and help Sheridan downstairs, and going home 'gloomy, and
savage to ferocity,' to his wife.

Four days after this (letter 229), we find that this dinner-party is not
an exceptional one, but one of a series: for he says, 'To-day I dine with
Kinnaird,--we are to have Sheridan and Colman again; and to-morrow, once
more, at Sir Gilbert Heathcote's.'

Afterward, in Venice, he reviews the state of his health, at this period
in London; and his account shows that his excesses in the vices of his
times had wrought effects on his sensitive, nervous organisation, very
different from what they might on the more phlegmatic constitutions of
ordinary Englishmen.  In his journal, dated Venice, Feb. 2, 1821, he

   'I have been considering what can be the reason why I always wake at a
   certain hour in the morning, and always in very bad spirits,--I may
   say, in actual despair and despondency, in all respects, even of that
   which pleased me over night.  In about an hour or two this goes off,
   and I compose either to sleep again, or at least to quiet.  In
   England, five years ago, I had the same kind of hypochondria, but
   accompanied with so violent a thirst, that I have drunk as many as
   fifteen bottles of soda-water in one night, after going to bed, and
   been still thirsty,--calculating, however, some lost from the bursting-
   out and effervescence and overflowing of the soda-water in drawing the
   corks, or striking off the necks of the bottles from mere thirsty
   impatience.  At present, I have not the thirst; but the depression of
   spirits is no less violent.'--Vol. v. p.96.

These extracts go to show what must have been the condition of the man
whom Lady Byron was called to receive at the intervals when he came back
from his various social excitements and pleasures.  That his nerves were
exacerbated by violent extremes of abstinence and reckless indulgence;
that he was often day after day drunk, and that drunkenness made him
savage and ferocious,--such are the facts clearly shown by Mr. Moore's
narrative.  Of the natural peculiarities of Lord Byron's temper, he thus
speaks to the Countess of Blessington:--

   'I often think that I inherit my violence and bad temper from my poor
   mother, not that my father, from all I could ever learn, had a much
   better; so that it is no wonder I have such a very bad one.  As long
   as I can remember anything, I recollect being subject to violent
   paroxysms of rage, so disproportioned to the cause as to surprise me
   when they were over; and this still continues.  I cannot coolly view
   any thing which excites my feelings; and, once the lurking devil in me
   is roused, I lose all command of myself.  I do not recover a good fit
   of rage for days after.  Mind, I do not by this mean that the ill
   humour continues, as, on the contrary, that quickly subsides,
   exhausted by its own violence; but it shakes me terribly, and leaves
   me low and nervous after.'--Lady Blessington's Conversations, p.142.

That during this time also his irritation and ill temper were increased
by the mortification of duns, debts, and executions, is on the face of
Moore's story.  Moore himself relates one incident, which gives some idea
of the many which may have occurred at these times, in a note on p.215,
vol. iv., where he speaks of Lord Byron's destroying a favourite old
watch that had been his companion from boyhood, and gone with him to
Greece.  'In a fit of vexation and rage, brought upon him by some of
these humiliating embarrassments, to which he was now almost daily a
prey, he furiously dashed this watch on the hearth, and ground it to
pieces with the poker among the ashes.'

It is no wonder, that, with a man of this kind to manage, Lady Byron
should have clung to the only female companionship she could dare to
trust in the case, and earnestly desired to retain with her the sister,
who seemed, more than herself, to have influence over him.

The first letter given by 'The Quarterly,' from Lady Byron to Mrs. Leigh,
without a date, evidently belongs to this period, when the sister's
society presented itself as a refuge in her approaching confinement.  Mrs
Leigh speaks of leaving.  The young wife, conscious that the house
presents no attractions, and that soon she herself shall be laid by,
cannot urge Mrs. Leigh's stay as likely to give her any pleasure, but
only as a comfort to herself.

   'You will think me very foolish; but I have tried two or three times,
   and cannot talk to you of your departure with a decent visage: so let
   me say one word in this way to spare my philosophy.  With the
   expectations which I have, I never will nor can ask you to stay one
   moment longer than you are inclined to do.  It would [be] the worst
   return for all I ever received from you.  But in this at least I am
   "truth itself," when I say, that whatever the situation may be, there
   is no one whose society is dearer to me, or can contribute more to my
   happiness.  These feelings will not change under any circumstances,
   and I should be grieved if you did not understand them.  Should you
   hereafter condemn me, I shall not love you less.  I will say no more.
   Judge for yourself about going or staying.  I wish you to consider
   yourself, if you could be wise enough to do that, for the first time
   in your life.


                                           'A. I. B.'

   Addressed on the cover, 'To The Hon. Mrs. Leigh.'

This letter not being dated, we have no clue but what we obtain from its
own internal evidence.  It certainly is not written in Lady Byron's usual
clear and elegant style; and is, in this respect, in striking contrast to
all her letters that I have ever seen.

But the notes written by a young woman under such peculiar and
distressing circumstances must not be judged by the standard of calmer

Subsequently to this letter, and during that stormy, irrational period
when Lord Byron's conduct became daily more and more unaccountable, may
have come that startling scene in which Lord Byron took every pains to
convince his wife of improper relations subsisting between himself and
his sister.

What an utter desolation this must have been to the wife, tearing from
her the last hold of friendship, and the last refuge to which she had
clung in her sorrows, may easily be conceived.

In this crisis, it appears that the sister convinced Lady Byron that the
whole was to be attributed to insanity.  It would be a conviction gladly
accepted, and bringing infinite relief, although still surrounding her
path with fearful difficulties.

That such was the case is plainly asserted by Lady Byron in her statement
published in 1830.  Speaking of her separation, Lady Byron says:--

   'The facts are, I left London for Kirkby Mallory, the residence of my
   father and mother, on the 15th of January, 1816.  Lord Byron had
   signified to me in writing, Jan. 6, his absolute desire that I should
   leave London on the earliest day that I could conveniently fix.  It
   was not safe for me to encounter the fatigues of a journey sooner than
   the 15th.  Previously to my departure, it had been strongly impressed
   on my mind that Lord Byron was under the influence of insanity.

   'This opinion was in a great measure derived from the communications
   made to me by his nearest relatives and personal attendant'

Now there was no nearer relative than Mrs. Leigh; and the personal
attendant was Fletcher.  It was therefore presumably Mrs. Leigh who
convinced Lady Byron of her husband's insanity.

Lady Byron says, 'It was even represented to me that he was in danger of
destroying himself.

'With the concurrence of his family, I had consulted with Dr. Baillie, as
a friend, on Jan. 8, as to his supposed malady.'  Now, Lord Byron's
written order for her to leave came on Jan. 6.  It appears, then, that
Lady Byron, acting in concurrence with Mrs. Leigh and others of her
husband's family, consulted Dr. Baillie, on Jan. 8, as to what she should
do; the symptoms presented to Dr. Baillie being, evidently, insane hatred
of his wife on the part of Lord Byron, and a determination to get her out
of the house.  Lady Byron goes on:--

   'On acquainting him with the state of the case, and with Lord Byron's
   desire that I should leave London, Dr. Baillie thought my absence
   might be advisable as an experiment, assuming the fact of mental
   derangement; for Dr. Baillie, not having had access to Lord Byron,
   could not pronounce an opinion on that point.  He enjoined, that, in
   correspondence with Lord Byron, I should avoid all but light and
   soothing topics.  Under these impressions, I left London, determined
   to follow the advice given me by Dr. Baillie.  Whatever might have
   been the nature of Lord Byron's treatment of me from the time of my
   marriage, yet, supposing him to have been in a state of mental
   alienation, it was not for me, nor for any person of common humanity,
   to manifest at that moment a sense of injury.'

It appears, then, that the domestic situation in Byron's house at the
time of his wife's expulsion was one so grave as to call for family
counsel; for Lady Byron, generally accurate, speaks in the plural number.
'His nearest relatives' certainly includes Mrs. Leigh.  'His family'
includes more.  That some of Lord Byron's own relatives were cognisant of
facts at this time, and that they took Lady Byron's side, is shown by one
of his own chance admissions.  In vol. vi. p.394, in a letter on Bowles,
he says, speaking of this time, 'All my relations, save one, fell from me
like leaves from a tree in autumn.'  And in Medwin's Conversations he
says, 'Even my cousin George Byron, who had been brought up with me, and
whom I loved as a brother, took my wife's part.'  The conduct must have
been marked in the extreme that led to this result.

We cannot help stopping here to say that Lady Byron's situation at this
time has been discussed in our days with a want of ordinary human feeling
that is surprising.  Let any father and mother, reading this, look on
their own daughter, and try to make the case their own.

After a few short months of married life,--months full of patient
endurance of the strangest and most unaccountable treatment,--she comes
to them, expelled from her husband's house, an object of hatred and
aversion to him, and having to settle for herself the awful question,
whether he is a dangerous madman or a determined villain.

Such was this young wife's situation.

With a heart at times wrung with compassion for her husband as a helpless
maniac, and fearful that all may end in suicide, yet compelled to leave
him, she writes on the road the much-quoted letter, beginning 'Dear
Duck.'  This is an exaggerated and unnatural letter, it is true, but of
precisely the character that might be expected from an inexperienced
young wife when dealing with a husband supposed to be insane.

The next day, she addressed to Augusta this letter:--

   'MY DEAREST A.,--It is my great comfort that you are still in

And again, on the 23rd:--

   'DEAREST A.,--I know you feel for me, as I do for you; and perhaps I
   am better understood than I think.  You have been, ever since I knew
   you, my best comforter; and will so remain, unless you grow tired of
   the office,--which may well be.'

We can see here how self-denying and heroic appears to Lady Byron the
conduct of the sister, who patiently remains to soothe and guide and
restrain the moody madman, whose madness takes a form, at times, so
repulsive to every womanly feeling.  She intimates that she should not
wonder should Augusta grow weary of the office.

Lady Byron continues her statement thus:--

   'When I arrived at Kirkby Mallory, my parents were unacquainted with
   the existence of any causes likely to destroy my prospects of
   happiness; and, when I communicated to them the opinion that had been
   formed concerning Lord Byron's state of mind, they were most anxious
   to promote his restoration by every means in their power.  They
   assured those relations that were with him in London that "they would
   devote their whole case and attention to the alleviation of his

Here we have a quotation {190a} from a letter written by Lady Milbanke to
the anxious 'relations' who are taking counsel about Lord Byron in town.
Lady Byron also adds, in justification of her mother from Lord Byron's
slanders, 'She had always treated him with an affectionate consideration
and indulgence, which extended to every little peculiarity of his
feelings.  Never did an irritating word escape her lips in her whole
intercourse with him.'

Now comes a remarkable part of Lady Byron's statement:--

   'The accounts given me after I left Lord Byron, by those in constant
   intercourse with him, {190b} added to those doubts which had before
   transiently occurred to my mind as to the reality of the alleged
   disease; and the reports of his medical attendants were far from
   establishing anything like lunacy.'

When these doubts arose in her mind, it is not natural to suppose that
they should, at first, involve Mrs. Leigh.  She still appears to Lady
Byron as the devoted, believing sister, fully convinced of her brother's
insanity, and endeavouring to restrain and control him.

But if Lord Byron were sane, if the purposes he had avowed to his wife
were real, he must have lied about his sister in the past, and perhaps
have the worst intentions for the future.

The horrors of that state of vacillation between the conviction of
insanity and the commencing conviction of something worse can scarcely be

At all events, the wife's doubts extend so far that she speaks out to her
parents.  'UNDER THIS UNCERTAINTY,' says the statement, 'I deemed it
right to communicate to my parents, that, if I were to consider Lord
Byron's past conduct as that of a person of sound mind, nothing could
induce me to return to him.  It therefore appeared expedient, both to
them and to myself, to consult the ablest advisers.  For that object, and
also to obtain still further information respecting appearances which
indicated mental derangement, my mother determined to go to London.  She
was empowered by me to take legal opinion on a written statement of mine;
though I then had reasons for reserving a part of the case from the
knowledge even of my father and mother.'

It is during this time of uncertainty that the next letter to Mrs. Leigh
may be placed.  It seems to be rather a fragment of a letter than a whole
one: perhaps it is an extract; in which case it would be desirable, if
possible, to view it in connection with the remaining text:--

                                          Jan. 25, 1816.

   'MY DEAREST AUGUSTA,--Shall I still be your sister?  I must resign my
   right to be so considered; but I don't think that will make any
   difference in the kindness I have so uniformly experienced from you.'

This fragment is not signed, nor finished in any way, but indicates that
the writer is about to take a decisive step.

On the 17th, as we have seen, Lady Milbanke had written, inviting Lord
Byron.  Subsequently she went to London to make more particular inquiries
into his state.  This fragment seems part of a letter from Lady Byron,
called forth in view of some evidence resulting from her mother's
observations. {192}

Lady Byron now adds,--

   'Being convinced by the result of these inquiries, and by the tenour
   of Lord Byron's proceedings, that the notion of insanity was an
   illusion, I no longer hesitated to authorize such measures as were
   necessary in order to secure me from ever being again placed in his

   'Conformably with this resolution, my father wrote to him, on the 2nd
   of February, to request an amicable separation.'

The following letter to Mrs. Leigh is dated the day after this
application, and is in many respects a noticeable one:--

                               'KIRKBY MALLORY, Feb. 3, 1816.

   'MY DEAREST AUGUSTA,--You are desired by your brother to ask if my
   father has acted with my concurrence in proposing a separation.  He
   has.  It cannot be supposed, that, in my present distressing
   situation, I am capable of stating in a detailed manner the reasons
   which will not only justify this measure, but compel me to take it;
   and it never can be my wish to remember unnecessarily [sic] those
   injuries for which, however deep, I feel no resentment.  I will now
   only recall to Lord Byron's mind his avowed and insurmountable
   aversion to the married state, and the desire and determination he has
   expressed ever since its commencement to free himself from that
   bondage, as finding it quite insupportable, though candidly
   acknowledging that no effort of duty or affection has been wanting on
   my part.  He has too painfully convinced me that all these attempts to
   contribute towards his happiness were wholly useless, and most
   unwelcome to him.  I enclose this letter to my father, wishing it to
   receive his sanction.

                              'Ever yours most affectionately,

                                    'A. I. BYRON.'

We observe in this letter that it is written to be shown to Lady Byron's
father, and receive his sanction; and, as that father was in ignorance of
all the deeper causes of trouble in the case, it will be seen that the
letter must necessarily be a reserved one.  This sufficiently accounts
for the guarded character of the language when speaking of the causes of
separation.  One part of the letter incidentally overthrows Lord Byron's
statement, which he always repeated during his life, and which is
repeated for him now; namely, that his wife forsook him, instead of
being, as she claims, expelled by him.

She recalls to Lord Byron's mind the 'desire and determination he has
expressed ever since his marriage to free himself from its bondage.'

This is in perfect keeping with the 'absolute desire,' signified by
writing, that she should leave his house on the earliest day possible;
and she places the cause of the separation on his having 'too painfully'
convinced her that he does not want her--as a wife.

It appears that Augusta hesitates to show this note to her brother.  It
is bringing on a crisis which she, above all others, would most wish to

In the meantime, Lady Byron receives a letter from Lord Byron, which
makes her feel it more than ever essential to make the decision final.  I
have reason to believe that this letter is preserved in Lady Byron's

                                       'Feb. 4, 1816.

   'I hope, my dear A., that you would on no account withhold from your
   brother the letter which I sent yesterday in answer to yours written
   by his desire, particularly as one which I have received from himself
   to-day renders it still more important that he should know the
   contents of that addressed to you.  I am, in haste and not very well,

                                 'Yours most affectionately,

                                    'A. I. BYRON.'

The last of this series of letters is less like the style of Lady Byron
than any of them.  We cannot judge whether it is a whole consecutive
letter, or fragments from a letter, selected and united.  There is a
great want of that clearness and precision which usually characterised
Lady Byron's style.  It shows, however, that the decision is made,--a
decision which she regrets on account of the sister who has tried so long
to prevent it.

                                 'KIRKBY MALLORY, Feb. 14, 1816.

   'The present sufferings of all may yet be repaid in blessings.  Do not
   despair absolutely, dearest; and leave me but enough of your interest
   to afford you any consolation by partaking of that sorrow which I am
   most unhappy to cause thus unintentionally.  You will be of my opinion
   hereafter; and at present your bitterest reproach would be forgiven,
   though Heaven knows you have considered me more than a thousand would
   have done,--more than anything but my affection for B., one most dear
   to you, could deserve.  I must not remember these feelings.  Farewell!
   God bless you from the bottom of my heart!

                                         'A. I. B.'

We are here to consider that Mrs. Leigh has stood to Lady Byron in all
this long agony as her only confidante and friend; that she has denied
the charges her brother has made, and referred them to insanity,
admitting insane attempts upon herself which she has been obliged to
watch over and control.

Lady Byron has come to the conclusion that Augusta is mistaken as to
insanity; that there is a real wicked purpose and desire on the part of
the brother, not as yet believed in by the sister.  She regards the
sister as one, who, though deceived and blinded, is still worthy of
confidence and consideration; and so says to her, 'You will be of my
opinion hereafter.'

She says, 'You have considered me more than a thousand would have done.'
Mrs. Leigh is, in Lady Byron's eyes, a most abused and innocent woman,
who, to spare her sister in her delicate situation, has taken on herself
the whole charge of a maniacal brother, although suffering from him
language and actions of the most injurious kind.  That Mrs. Leigh did not
flee the house at once under such circumstances, and wholly decline the
management of the case, seems to Lady Byron consideration and
self-sacrifice greater than she can acknowledge.

The knowledge of the whole extent of the truth came to Lady Byron's mind
at a later period.

We now take up the history from Lushington's letter to Lady Byron,
published at the close of her statement.

The application to Lord Byron for an act of separation was positively
refused at first; it being an important part of his policy that all the
responsibility and insistence should come from his wife, and that he
should appear forced into it contrary to his will.

Dr. Lushington, however, says to Lady Byron,--

   'I was originally consulted by Lady Noel on your behalf while you were
   in the country.  The circumstances detailed by her were such as
   justified a separation; but they were not of that aggravated
   description as to render such a measure indispensable.  On Lady Noel's
   representations, I deemed a reconciliation with Lord Byron
   practicable, and felt most sincerely a wish to aid in effecting it.
   There was not, on Lady Noel's part, any exaggeration of the facts,
   nor, so far as I could perceive, any determination to prevent a return
   to Lord Byron: certainly none was expressed when I spoke of a

In this crisis, with Lord Byron refusing the separation, with Lushington
expressing a wish to aid in a reconciliation, and Lady Noel not
expressing any aversion to it, the whole strain of the dreadful
responsibility comes upon the wife.

She resolves to ask counsel of her lawyer, in view of a statement of the
whole case.

Lady Byron is spoken of by Lord Byron (letter 233) as being in town with
her father on the 29th of February; viz., fifteen days after the date of
the last letter to Mrs. Leigh.  It must have been about this time, then,
that she laid her whole case before Lushington; and he gave it a thorough

The result was, that Lushington expressed in the most decided terms his
conviction that reconciliation was impossible.  The language be uses is
very striking:--

   'When you came to town in about a fortnight, or perhaps more, after my
   first interview with Lady Noel, I was, for the first time, informed by
   you of facts utterly unknown, as I have no doubt, to Sir Ralph and
   Lady Noel.  On receiving this additional information, my opinion was
   entirely changed.  I considered a reconciliation impossible.  I
   declared my opinion, and added, that, if such an idea should be
   entertained, I could not, either professionally or otherwise, take any
   part towards effecting it.'

It does not appear in this note what effect the lawyer's examination of
the case had on Lady Byron's mind.  By the expressions he uses, we should
infer that she may still have been hesitating as to whether a
reconciliation might not be her duty.

This hesitancy he does away with most decisively, saying, 'A
reconciliation is impossible;' and, supposing Lady Byron or her friends
desirous of one, he declares positively that he cannot, either
professionally as a lawyer or privately as a friend, have anything to do
with effecting it.

The lawyer, it appears, has drawn, from the facts of the case, inferences
deeper and stronger than those which presented themselves to the mind of
the young woman; and he instructs her in the most absolute terms.

Fourteen years after, in 1830, for the first time the world was
astonished by this declaration from Dr. Lushington, in language so
pronounced and positive that there could be no mistake.

Lady Byron had stood all these fourteen years slandered by her husband,
and misunderstood by his friends, when, had she so chosen, this opinion
of Dr. Lushington's could have been at once made public, which fully
justified her conduct.

If, as the 'Blackwood' of July insinuates, the story told to Lushington
was a malignant slander, meant to injure Lord Byron, why did she suppress
the judgment of her counsel at a time when all the world was on her side,
and this decision would have been the decisive blow against her husband?
Why, by sealing the lips of counsel, and of all whom she could influence,
did she deprive herself finally of the very advantage for which it has
been assumed she fabricated the story?


It will be observed, that, in this controversy, we are confronting two
opposing stories,--one of Lord and the other of Lady Byron; and the
statements from each are in point-blank contradiction.

Lord Byron states that his wife deserted him.  Lady Byron states that he
expelled her, and reminds him, in her letter to Augusta Leigh, that the
expulsion was a deliberate one, and that he had purposed it from the
beginning of their marriage.

Lord Byron always stated that he was ignorant why his wife left him, and
was desirous of her return.  Lady Byron states that he told her that he
would force her to leave him, and to leave him in such a way that the
whole blame of the separation should always rest on her, and not on him.

To say nothing of any deeper or darker accusations on either side, here,
in the very outworks of the story, the two meet point-blank.

In considering two opposing stories, we always, as a matter of fact, take
into account the character of the witnesses.

If a person be literal and exact in his usual modes of speech, reserved,
careful, conscientious, and in the habit of observing minutely the minor
details of time, place, and circumstances, we give weight to his
testimony from these considerations.  But if a person be proved to have
singular and exceptional principles with regard to truth; if he be
universally held by society to be so in the habit of mystification, that
large allowances must be made for his statements; if his assertions at
one time contradict those made at another; and if his statements, also,
sometimes come in collision with those of his best friends, so that, when
his language is reported, difficulties follow, and explanations are made
necessary,--all this certainly disqualifies him from being considered a
trustworthy witness.

All these disqualifications belong in a remarkable degree to Lord Byron,
on the oft-repeated testimony of his best friends.

We shall first cite the following testimony, given in an article from
'Under the Crown,' which is written by an early friend and ardent admirer
of Lord Byron:--

   'Byron had one pre-eminent fault,--a fault which must be considered as
   deeply criminal by everyone who does not, as I do, believe it to have
   resulted from monomania.  He had a morbid love of a bad reputation.
   There was hardly an offence of which he would not, with perfect
   indifference, accuse himself.  An old schoolfellow who met him on the
   Continent told me that he would continually write paragraphs against
   himself in the foreign journals, and delight in their republication by
   the English newspapers as in the success of a practical joke.  Whenever
   anybody has related anything discreditable of Byron, assuring me that
   it must be true, for he heard it from himself, I always felt that he
   could not have spoken upon worse authority; and that, in all
   probability, the tale was a pure invention.  If I could remember, and
   were willing to repeat, the various misdoings which I have from time
   to time heard him attribute to himself, I could fill a volume.  But I
   never believed them.  I very soon became aware of this strange
   idiosyncrasy: it puzzled me to account for it; but there it was, a
   sort of diseased and distorted vanity.  The same eccentric spirit
   would induce him to report things which were false with regard to his
   family, which anybody else would have concealed, though true.  He told
   me more than once that his father was insane, and killed himself.  I
   shall never forget the manner in which he first told me this.  While
   washing his hands, and singing a gay Neapolitan air, he stopped,
   looked round at me, and said, "There always was madness in the
   family."  Then, after continuing his washing and his song, he added,
   as if speaking of a matter of the slightest indifference, "My father
   cut his throat."  The contrast between the tenour of the subject and
   the levity of the expression was fearfully painful: it was like a
   stanza of "Don Juan."  In this instance, I had no doubt that the fact
   was as he related it; but in speaking of it, only a few years since,
   to an old lady in whom I had perfect confidence, she assured me that
   it was not so.  Mr. Byron, who was her cousin, had been extremely
   wild, but was quite sane, and had died very quietly in his bed.  What
   Byron's reason could have been for thus calumniating not only himself
   but the blood which was flowing in his veins, who can divine?  But,
   for some reason or other, it seemed to be his determined purpose to
   keep himself unknown to the great body of his fellow-creatures; to
   present himself to their view in moral masquerade.'

Certainly the character of Lord Byron here given by his friend is not the
kind to make him a trustworthy witness in any case: on the contrary, it
seems to show either a subtle delight in falsehood for falsehood's sake,
or else the wary artifices of a man who, having a deadly secret to
conceal, employs many turnings and windings to throw the world off the
scent.  What intriguer, having a crime to cover, could devise a more
artful course than to send half a dozen absurd stories to the press,
which should, after a while, be traced back to himself, till the public
should gradually look on all it heard from him as the result of this
eccentric humour?

The easy, trifling air with which Lord Byron made to this friend a false
statement in regard to his father would lead naturally to the inquiry, on
what other subjects, equally important to the good name of others, he
might give false testimony with equal indifference.

When Medwin's 'Conversations with Lord Byron' were first published, they
contained a number of declarations of the noble lord affecting the honour
and honesty of his friend and publisher Murray.  These appear to have
been made in the same way as those about his father, and with equal
indifference.  So serious were the charges, that Mr. Murray's friends
felt that he ought, in justice to himself, to come forward and confront
them with the facts as stated in Byron's letters to himself; and in vol.
x., p.143, of Murray's standard edition, accordingly these false
statements are confronted with the letters of Lord Byron.  The
statements, as reported, are of a most material and vital nature,
relating to Murray's financial honour and honesty, and to his general
truthfulness and sincerity.  In reply, Murray opposes to them the
accounts of sums paid for different works, and letters from Byron exactly
contradicting his own statements as to Murray's character.

The subject, as we have seen, was discussed in 'The Noctes.'  No doubt
appears to be entertained that Byron made the statements to Medwin; and
the theory of accounting for them is, that 'Byron was "bamming" him.'

It seems never to have occurred to any of these credulous gentlemen, who
laughed at others for being 'bammed,' that Byron might be doing the very
same thing by themselves.  How many of his so-called packages sent to
Lady Byron were real packages, and how many were mystifications?  We
find, in two places at least in his Memoir, letters to Lady Byron,
written and shown to others, which, he says, were never sent by him.  He
told Lady Blessington that he was in the habit of writing to her
constantly.  Was this 'bamming'?  Was he 'bamming,' also, when he told
the world that Lady Byron suddenly deserted him, quite to his surprise,
and that he never, to his dying day, could find out why?

Lady Blessington relates, that, in one of his conversations with her, he
entertained her by repeating epigrams and lampoons, in which many of his
friends were treated with severity.  She inquired of him, in case he
should die, and such proofs of his friendship come before the public,
what would be the feelings of these friends, who had supposed themselves
to stand so high in his good graces.  She says,--

   '"That," said Byron, "is precisely one of the ideas that most amuses
   me.  I often fancy the rage and humiliation of my quondam friends in
   hearing the truth, at least from me, for the first time, and when I am
   beyond the reach of their malice. . . .  What grief," continued Byron,
   laughing, "could resist the charges of ugliness, dulness, or any of
   the thousand nameless defects, personal or mental, 'that flesh is heir
   to,' when reprisal or recantation was impossible? . . .  People are in
   such daily habits of commenting on the defects of friends, that they
   are unconscious of the unkindness of it. . . Now, I write down as well
   as speak my sentiments of those who think they have gulled me; and I
   only wish, in case I die before them, that I might return to witness
   the effects my posthumous opinions of them are likely to produce in
   their minds.  What good fun this would be! . . .  You don't seem to
   value this as you ought," said Byron with one of his sardonic smiles,
   seeing I looked, as I really felt, surprised at his avowed
   insincerity.  "I feel the same pleasure in anticipating the rage and
   mortification of my soi-disant friends at the discovery of my real
   sentiments of them, that a miser may be supposed to feel while making
   a will that will disappoint all the expectants that have been toadying
   him for years.  Then how amusing it will be to compare my posthumous
   with my previously given opinions, the one throwing ridicule on the

It is asserted, in a note to 'The Noctes,' that Byron, besides his
Autobiography, prepared a voluminous dictionary of all his friends and
acquaintances, in which brief notes of their persons and character were
given, with his opinion of them.  It was not considered that the
publication of this would add to the noble lord's popularity; and it has
never appeared.

In Hunt's Life of Byron, there is similar testimony.  Speaking of Byron's
carelessness in exposing his friends' secrets, and showing or giving away
their letters, he says,--

   'If his five hundred confidants, by a reticence as remarkable as his
   laxity, had not kept his secrets better than he did himself, the very
   devil might have been played with I don't know how many people.  But
   there was always this saving reflection to be made, that the man who
   could be guilty of such extravagances for the sake of making an
   impression might be guilty of exaggeration, or inventing what
   astonished you; and indeed, though he was a speaker of the truth on
   ordinary occasions,--that is to say, he did not tell you he had seen a
   dozen horses when he had seen only two,--yet, as he professed not to
   value the truth when in the way of his advantage (and there was
   nothing he thought more to his advantage than making you stare at
   him), the persons who were liable to suffer from his incontinence had
   all the right in the world to the benefit of this consideration.'

With a person of such mental and moral habits as to truth, the inquiry
always must be, Where does mystification end, and truth begin?

If a man is careless about his father's reputation for sanity, and
reports him a crazy suicide; if he gaily accuses his publisher and good
friend of double-dealing, shuffling, and dishonesty; if he tells stories
about Mrs. Clermont, {205b} to which his sister offers a public
refutation,--is it to be supposed that he will always tell the truth
about his wife, when the world is pressing him hard, and every instinct
of self-defence is on the alert?

And then the ingenuity that could write and publish false documents about
himself, that they might reappear in London papers,--to what other
accounts might it not be turned?  Might it not create documents, invent
statements, about his wife as well as himself?

The document so ostentatiously given to M. G. Lewis 'for circulation
among friends in England' was a specimen of what the Noctes Club would
call 'bamming.'

If Byron wanted a legal investigation, why did he not take it in the
first place, instead of signing the separation?  If he wanted to cancel
it, as he said in this document, why did he not go to London, and enter a
suit for the restitution of conjugal rights, or a suit in chancery to get
possession of his daughter?  That this was in his mind, passages in
Medwin's 'Conversations' show.  He told Lady Blessington also that he
might claim his daughter in chancery at any time.

Why did he not do it?  Either of these two steps would have brought on
that public investigation he so longed for.  Can it be possible that all
the friends who passed this private document from hand to hand never
suspected that they were being 'bammed' by it?

But it has been universally assumed, that, though Byron was thus
remarkably given to mystification, yet all his statements in regard to
this story are to be accepted, simply because he makes them.  Why must we
accept them, any more than his statements as to Murray or his own father?

So we constantly find Lord Byron's incidental statements coming in
collision with those of others: for example, in his account of his
marriage, he tells Medwin that Lady Byron's maid was put between his
bride and himself, on the same seat, in the wedding journey.  The lady's
maid herself, Mrs. Mimms, says she was sent before them to Halnaby, and
was there to receive them when they alighted.

He said of Lady Byron's mother, 'She always detested me, and had not the
decency to conceal it in her own house.  Dining with her one day, I broke
a tooth, and was in great pain; which I could not help showing.  "It will
do you good," said Lady Noel; "I am glad of it!"'

Lady Byron says, speaking of her mother, 'She always treated him with an
affectionate consideration and indulgence, which extended to every little
peculiarity of his feelings.  Never did an irritating word escape her.'

Lord Byron states that the correspondence between him and Lady Byron,
after his refusal, was first opened by her.  Lady Byron's friends deny
the statement, and assert that the direct contrary is the fact.

Thus we see that Lord Byron's statements are directly opposed to those of
his family in relation to his father; directly against Murray's accounts,
and his own admission to Murray; directly against the statement of the
lady's maid as to her position in the journey; directly against Mrs.
Leigh's as to Mrs. Clermont, and against Lady Byron as to her mother.

We can see, also, that these misstatements were so fully perceived by the
men of his times, that Medwin's 'Conversations' were simply laughed at as
an amusing instance of how far a man might be made the victim of a
mystification.  Christopher North thus sentences the book:--

   'I don't mean to call Medwin a liar . . .  The captain lies, sir, but
   it is under a thousand mistakes.  Whether Byron bammed him, or he, by
   virtue of his own egregious stupidity, was the sole and sufficient
   bammifier of himself, I know not; neither greatly do I care.  This
   much is certain, . . . that the book throughout is full of things that
   were not, and most resplendently deficient quoad the things that

Yet it is on Medwin's 'Conversations' alone that many of the magazine
assertions in regard to Lady Byron are founded.

It is on that authority that Lady Byron is accused of breaking open her
husband's writing-desk in his absence, and sending the letters she found
there to the husband of a lady compromised by them; and likewise that
Lord Byron is declared to have paid back his wife's ten-thousand-pound
wedding portion, and doubled it.  Moore makes no such statements; and his
remarks about Lord Byron's use of his wife's money are unmistakable
evidence to the contrary.  Moore, although Byron's ardent partisan, was
too well informed to make assertions with regard to him, which, at that
time, it would have been perfectly easy to refute.

All these facts go to show that Lord Byron's character for accuracy or
veracity was not such as to entitle him to ordinary confidence as a
witness, especially in a case where he had the strongest motives for

And if we consider that the celebrated Autobiography was the finished,
careful work of such a practised 'mystifier,' who can wonder that it
presented a web of such intermingled truth and lies that there was no
such thing as disentangling it, and pointing out where falsehood ended
and truth began?

But in regard to Lady Byron, what has been the universal impression of
the world?  It has been alleged against her that she was a precise,
straightforward woman, so accustomed to plain, literal dealings, that she
could not understand the various mystifications of her husband; and from
that cause arose her unhappiness.  Byron speaks, in 'The Sketch,' of her
peculiar truthfulness; and even in the 'Clytemnestra' poem, when accusing
her of lying, he speaks of her as departing from

   'The early truth that was her proper praise.'

Lady Byron's careful accuracy as to dates, to time, place, and
circumstances, will probably be vouched for by all the very large number
of persons whom the management of her extended property and her works of
benevolence brought to act as co-operators or agents with her.  She was
not a person in the habit of making exaggerated or ill-considered
statements.  Her published statement of 1830 is clear, exact, accurate,
and perfectly intelligible.  The dates are carefully ascertained and
stated, the expressions are moderate, and all the assertions firm and
perfectly definite.

It therefore seems remarkable that the whole reasoning on this Byron
matter has generally been conducted by assuming all Lord Byron's
statements to be true, and requiring all Lady Byron's statements to be
sustained by other evidence.

If Lord Byron asserts that his wife deserted him, the assertion is
accepted without proof; but, if Lady Byron asserts that he ordered her to
leave, that requires proof.  Lady Byron asserts that she took counsel, on
this order of Lord Byron, with his family friends and physician, under
the idea that it originated in insanity.  The 'Blackwood' asks, "What
family friends?' says it doesn't know of any; and asks proof.

If Lord Byron asserts that he always longed for a public investigation of
the charges against him, the 'Quarterly' and 'Blackwood' quote the saying
with ingenuous confidence.  They are obliged to admit that he refused to
stand that public test; that he signed the deed of separation rather than
meet it.  They know, also, that he could have at any time instituted
suits against Lady Byron that would have brought the whole matter into
court, and that he did not.  Why did he not?  The 'Quarterly' simply
intimates that such suits would have been unpleasant.  Why?  On account
of personal delicacy?  The man that wrote 'Don Juan,' and furnished the
details of his wedding-night, held back from clearing his name by
delicacy!  It is astonishing to what extent this controversy has
consisted in simply repeating Lord Byron's assertions over and over
again, and calling the result proof.

Now, we propose a different course.  As Lady Byron is not stated by her
warm admirers to have had any monomania for speaking untruths on any
subject, we rank her value as a witness at a higher rate than Lord
Byron's.  She never accused her parents of madness or suicide, merely to
make a sensation; never 'bammed' an acquaintance by false statements
concerning the commercial honour of anyone with whom she was in business
relations; never wrote and sent to the press as a clever jest false
statements about herself; and never, in any other ingenious way, tampered
with truth.  We therefore hold it to be a mere dictate of reason and
common sense, that, in all cases where her statements conflict with her
husband's, hers are to be taken as the more trustworthy.

The 'London Quarterly,' in a late article, distinctly repudiates Lady
Byron's statements as sources of evidence, and throughout quotes
statements of Lord Byron as if they had the force of self-evident
propositions.  We consider such a course contrary to common sense as well
as common good manners.

The state of the case is just this: If Lord Byron did not make false
statements on this subject it was certainly an exception to his usual
course.  He certainly did make such on a great variety of other subjects.
By his own showing, he had a peculiar pleasure in falsifying language,
and in misleading and betraying even his friends.

But, if Lady Byron gave false witness upon this subject, it was an
exception to the whole course of her life.

The habits of her mind, the government of her conduct, her life-long
reputation, all were those of a literal, exact truthfulness.

The accusation of her being untruthful was first brought forward by her
husband in the 'Clytemnestra' poem, in the autumn of 1816; but it never
was publicly circulated till after his death, and it was first formally
made the basis of a published attack on Lady Byron in the July
'Blackwood' of 1869.  Up to that time, we look in vain through current
literature for any indications that the world regarded Lady Byron
otherwise than as a cold, careful, prudent woman, who made no assertions,
and had no confidants.  When she spoke in 1830, it is perfectly evident
that Christopher North and his circle believed what she said, though
reproving her for saying it at all.

The 'Quarterly' goes on to heap up a number of vague assertions,--that
Lady Byron, about the time of her separation, made a confidant of a young
officer; that she told the clergyman of Ham of some trials with Lord
Ockham; and that she told stories of different things at different times.

All this is not proof: it is mere assertion, and assertion made to
produce prejudice.  It is like raising a whirlwind of sand to blind the
eyes that are looking for landmarks.  It is quite probable Lady Byron
told different stories about Lord Byron at various times.  No woman could
have a greater variety of stories to tell; and no woman ever was so
persecuted and pursued and harassed, both by public literature and
private friendship, to say something.  She had plenty of causes for a
separation, without the fatal and final one.  In her conversations with
Lady Anne Barnard, for example, she gives reasons enough for a
separation, though none of them are the chief one.  It is not different
stories, but contradictory stories, that must be relied on to disprove
the credibility of a witness.  The 'Quarterly' has certainly told a great
number of different stories,--stories which may prove as irreconcilable
with each other as any attributed to Lady Byron; but its denial of all
weight to her testimony is simply begging the whole question under

A man gives testimony about the causes of a railroad accident, being the
only eye-witness.

The opposing counsel begs, whatever else you do, you will not admit that
man's testimony.  You ask, 'Why?  Has he ever been accused of want of
veracity on other subjects?'--'No: he has stood high as a man of probity
and honour for years.'--'Why, then, throw out his testimony?'

'Because he lies in this instance,' says the adversary: 'his testimony
does not agree with this and that.'--'Pardon me, that is the very point
in question,' say you: 'we expect to prove that it does agree with this
and that.'

Because certain letters of Lady Byron's do not agree with the
'Quarterly's' theory of the facts of the separation, it at once assumes
that she is an untruthful witness, and proposes to throw out her evidence

We propose, on the contrary, to regard Lady Byron's evidence with all the
attention due to the statement of a high-minded conscientious person,
never in any other case accused of violation of truth; we also propose to
show it to be in strict agreement with all well-authenticated facts and
documents; and we propose to treat Lord Byron's evidence as that of a man
of great subtlety, versed in mystification and delighting in it, and who,
on many other subjects, not only deceived, but gloried in deception; and
then we propose to show that it contradicts well-established facts and
received documents.

One thing more we have to say concerning the laws of evidence in regard
to documents presented in this investigation.

This is not a London West-End affair, but a grave historical inquiry, in
which the whole English-speaking world are interested to know the truth.

As it is now too late to have the securities of a legal trial, certainly
the rules of historical evidence should be strictly observed.  All
important documents should be presented in an entire state, with a plain
and open account of their history,--who had them, where they were found,
and how preserved.

There have been most excellent, credible, and authentic documents
produced in this case; and, as a specimen of them, we shall mention Lord
Lindsay's letter, and the journal and letter it authenticates.  Lord
Lindsay at once comes forward, gives his name boldly, gives the history
of the papers he produces, shows how they came to be in his hands, why
never produced before, and why now.  We feel confidence at once.

But in regard to the important series of letters presented as Lady
Byron's, this obviously proper course has not been pursued.  Though
assumed to be of the most critical importance, no such distinct history
of them was given in the first instance.  The want of such evidence being
noticed by other papers, the 'Quarterly' appears hurt that the high
character of the magazine has not been a sufficient guarantee; and still
deals in vague statements that the letters have been freely circulated,
and that two noblemen of the highest character would vouch for them if

In our view, it is necessary.  These noblemen should imitate Lord
Lindsay's example,--give a fair account of these letters, under their own
names; and then, we would add, it is needful for complete satisfaction to
have the letters entire, and not in fragments.

The 'Quarterly' gave these letters with the evident implication that they
are entirely destructive to Lady Byron's character as a witness.  Now,
has that magazine much reason to be hurt at even an insinuation on its
own character when making such deadly assaults on that of another?  The
individuals who bring forth documents that they suppose to be deadly to
the character of a noble person, always in her generation held to be
eminent for virtue, certainly should not murmur at being called upon to
substantiate these documents in the manner usually expected in historical

We have shown that these letters do not contradict, but that they
perfectly confirm the facts, and agree with the dates in Lady Byron's
published statements of 1830; and this is our reason for deeming them

These considerations with regard to the manner of conducting the inquiry
seem so obviously proper, that we cannot but believe that they will
command a serious attention.


We shall now proceed to state the argument against Lord Byron.

1st, There is direct evidence that Lord Byron was guilty of some unusual

The evidence is not, as the 'Blackwood' says, that Lushington yielded
assent to the ex parte statement of a client; nor, as the 'Quarterly'
intimates, that he was affected by the charms of an attractive young

The first evidence of it is the fact that Lushington and Romilly offered
to take the case into court, and make there a public exhibition of the
proofs on which their convictions were founded.

2nd, It is very strong evidence of this fact, that Lord Byron, while
loudly declaring that he wished to know with what he was charged,
declined this open investigation, and, rather than meet it, signed a
paper which he had before refused to sign.

3rd, It is also strong evidence of this fact, that although secretly
declaring to all his intimate friends that he still wished open
investigation in a court of justice, and affirming his belief that his
character was being ruined for want of it, he never afterwards took the
means to get it.  Instead of writing a private handbill, he might have
come to England and entered a suit; and he did not do it.

That Lord Byron was conscious of a great crime is further made probable
by the peculiar malice he seemed to bear to his wife's legal counsel.

If there had been nothing to fear in that legal investigation wherewith
they threatened him, why did he not only flee from it, but regard with a
peculiar bitterness those who advised and proposed it?  To an innocent
man falsely accused, the certainties of law are a blessing and a refuge.
Female charms cannot mislead in a court of justice; and the atrocities of
rumour are there sifted, and deprived of power.  A trial is not a threat
to an innocent man: it is an invitation, an opportunity.  Why, then, did
he hate Sir Samuel Romilly, so that he exulted like a fiend over his
tragical death?  The letter in which he pours forth this malignity was so
brutal, that Moore was obliged, by the general outcry of society, to
suppress it.  Is this the language of an innocent man who has been
offered a fair trial under his country's laws? or of a guilty man, to
whom the very idea of public trial means public exposure?

4th, It is probable that the crime was the one now alleged, because that
was the most important crime charged against him by rumour at the period.
This appears by the following extract of a letter from Shelley, furnished
by the 'Quarterly,' dated Bath, Sept. 29, 1816:--

   'I saw Kinnaird, and had a long talk with him.  He informed me that
   Lady Byron was now in perfect health; that she was living with your
   sister.  I felt much pleasure from this intelligence.  I consider the
   latter part of it as affording a decisive contradiction to the only
   important calumny that ever was advanced against you.  On this ground,
   at least, it will become the world hereafter to be silent.'

It appears evident here that the charge of improper intimacy with his
sister was, in the mind of Shelley, the only important one that had yet
been made against Lord Byron.

It is fairly inferable, from Lord Byron's own statements, that his family
friends believed this charge.  Lady Byron speaks, in her statement, of
'nearest relatives' and family friends who were cognizant of Lord Byron's
strange conduct at the time of the separation; and Lord Byron, in the
letter to Bowles, before quoted, says that every one of his relations,
except his sister, fell from him in this crisis like leaves from a tree
in autumn.  There was, therefore, not only this report, but such
appearances in support of it as convinced those nearest to the scene, and
best apprised of the facts; so that they fell from him entirely,
notwithstanding the strong influence of family feeling.  The Guiccioli
book also mentions this same allegation as having arisen from
peculiarities in Lord Byron's manner of treating his sister:--

   'This deep, fraternal affection assumed at times, under the influence
   of his powerful genius, and under exceptional circumstances, an almost
   too passionate expression, which opened a fresh field to his enemies.'

It appears, then, that there was nothing in the character of Lord Byron
and of his sister, as they appeared before their generation, that
prevented such a report from arising: on the contrary, there was
something in their relations that made it seem probable.  And it appears
that his own family friends were so affected by it, that they, with one
accord, deserted him.  The 'Quarterly' presents the fact that Lady Byron
went to visit Mrs. Leigh at this time, as triumphant proof that she did
not then believe it.  Can the 'Quarterly' show just what Lady Byron's
state of mind was, or what her motives were, in making that visit?

The 'Quarterly' seems to assume, that no woman, without gross hypocrisy,
can stand by a sister proven to have been guilty.  We can appeal on this
subject to all women.  We fearlessly ask any wife, 'Supposing your
husband and sister were involved together in an infamous crime, and that
you were the mother of a young daughter whose life would be tainted by a
knowledge of that crime, what would be your wish?  Would you wish to
proclaim it forthwith? or would you wish quietly to separate from your
husband, and to cover the crime from the eye of man?'

It has been proved that Lady Byron did not reveal this even to her
nearest relatives.  It is proved that she sealed the mouths of her
counsel, and even of servants, so effectually, that they remain sealed
even to this day.  This is evidence that she did not wish the thing
known.  It is proved also, that, in spite of her secrecy with her parents
and friends, the rumour got out, and was spoken of by Shelley as the only
important one.

Now, let us see how this note, cited by the 'Quarterly,' confirms one of
Lady Byron's own statements.  She says to Lady Anne Barnard,--

   'I trust you understand my wishes, which never were to injure Lord
   Byron in any way; for, though he would not suffer me to remain his
   wife, he cannot prevent me from continuing his friend; and it was from
   considering myself as such that I silenced the accusations by which my
   own conduct might have been more fully justified.'

How did Lady Byron silence accusations?  First, by keeping silence to her
nearest relatives; second, by shutting the mouths of servants; third, by
imposing silence on her friends,--as Lady Anne Barnard; fourth, by
silencing her legal counsel; fifth, and most entirely, by treating Mrs.
Leigh, before the world, with unaltered kindness.  In the midst of the
rumours, Lady Byron went to visit her; and Shelley says that the movement
was effectual.  Can the 'Quarterly' prove that, at this time, Mrs. Leigh
had not confessed all, and thrown herself on Lady Byron's mercy?

It is not necessary to suppose great horror and indignation on the part
of Lady Byron.  She may have regarded her sister as the victim of a most
singularly powerful tempter.  Lord Byron, as she knew, had tried to
corrupt her own morals and faith.  He had obtained a power over some
women, even in the highest circles in England, which had led them to
forego the usual decorums of their sex, and had given rise to great
scandals.  He was a being of wonderful personal attractions.  He had not
only strong poetical, but also strong logical power.  He was daring in
speculation, and vigorous in sophistical argument; beautiful, dazzling,
and possessed of magnetic power of fascination.  His sister had been kind
and considerate to Lady Byron when Lord Byron was brutal and cruel.  She
had been overcome by him, as a weaker nature sometimes sinks under the
force of a stronger one; and Lady Byron may really have considered her to
be more sinned against than sinning.

Lord Byron, if we look at it rightly, did not corrupt Mrs. Leigh any more
than he did the whole British public.  They rebelled at the immorality of
his conduct and the obscenity of his writings; and he resolved that they
should accept both.  And he made them do it.  At first, they execrated
'Don Juan.'  Murray was afraid to publish it.  Women were determined not
to read it.  In 1819, Dr. William Maginn of the Noctes wrote a song
against it in the following virtuous strain:--

   'Be "Juan," then, unseen, unknown;
      It must, or we shall rue it.
   We may have virtue of our own:
      Ah! why should we undo it?
   The treasured faith of days long past
      We still would prize o'er any,
   And grieve to hear the ribald jeer
      Of scamps like Don Giovanni.'

Lord Byron determined to conquer the virtuous scruples of the Noctes
Club; and so we find this same Dr. William Maginn, who in 1819 wrote so
valiantly, in 1822 declaring that he would rather have written a page of
'Don Juan' than a ton of 'Childe Harold.'  All English morals were, in
like manner, formally surrendered to Lord Byron.  Moore details his
adulteries in Venice with unabashed particularity: artists send for
pictures of his principal mistresses; the literary world call for
biographical sketches of their points; Moore compares his wife and his
last mistress in a neatly-turned sentence; and yet the professor of
morals in Edinburgh University recommends the biography as pure, and
having no mud in it.  The mistress is lionized in London; and in 1869 is
introduced to the world of letters by 'Blackwood,' and bid, 'without a
blush, to say she loved'--

This much being done to all England, it is quite possible that a woman
like Lady Byron, standing silently aside and surveying the course of
things, may have thought that Mrs. Leigh was no more seduced than all the
rest of the world, and have said as we feel disposed to say of that
generation, and of a good many in this, 'Let him that is without sin
among you cast the first stone.'

The peculiar bitterness of remorse expressed in his works by Lord Byron
is a further evidence that he had committed an unusual crime.  We are
aware that evidence cannot be drawn in this manner from an author's works
merely, if unsupported by any external probability.  For example, the
subject most frequently and powerfully treated by Hawthorne is the
influence of a secret, unconfessed crime on the soul: nevertheless, as
Hawthorne is well known to have always lived a pure and regular life,
nobody has ever suspected him of any greater sin than a vigorous
imagination.  But here is a man believed guilty of an uncommon immorality
by the two best lawyers in England, and threatened with an open exposure,
which he does not dare to meet.  The crime is named in society; his own
relations fall away from him on account of it; it is only set at rest by
the heroic conduct of his wife.  Now, this man is stated by many of his
friends to have had all the appearance of a man secretly labouring under
the consciousness of crime.  Moore speaks of this propensity in the
following language:--

   'I have known him more than once, as we sat together after dinner, and
   he was a little under the influence of wine, to fall seriously into
   this dark, self-accusing mood, and throw out hints of his past life
   with an air of gloom and mystery designed evidently to awaken
   curiosity and interest.'

Moore says that it was his own custom to dispel these appearances by
ridicule, to which his friend was keenly alive.  And he goes on to say,--

   'It has sometimes occurred to me, that the occult causes of his lady's
   separation from him, round which herself and her legal advisers have
   thrown such formidable mystery, may have been nothing more than some
   imposture of this kind, some dimly-hinted confession of undefined
   horror, which, though intended by the relater to mystify and surprise,
   the hearer so little understood as to take in sober seriousness.'

All we have to say is, that Lord Byron's conduct in this respect is
exactly what might have been expected if he had a crime on his

The energy of remorse and despair expressed in 'Manfred' were so
appalling and so vividly personal, that the belief was universal on the
Continent that the experience was wrought out of some actual crime.
Goethe expressed this idea, and had heard a murder imputed to Byron as
the cause.

The allusion to the crime and consequences of incest is so plain in
'Manfred,' that it is astonishing that any one can pretend, as Galt does,
that it had any other application.

The hero speaks of the love between himself and the imaginary being whose
spirit haunts him as having been the deadliest sin, and one that has,
perhaps, caused her eternal destruction.

   'What is she now?  A sufferer for my sins;
   A thing I dare not think upon.'

He speaks of her blood as haunting him, and as being

      'My blood,--the pure, warm stream
   That ran in the veins of my fathers, and in ours
   When we were in our youth, and had one heart,
   And loved each other as we should not love.'

This work was conceived in the commotion of mind immediately following
his separation.  The scenery of it was sketched in a journal sent to his
sister at the time.

In letter 377, defending the originality of the conception, and showing
that it did not arise from reading 'Faust,' he says,--

   'It was the Steinbach and the Jungfrau, and something else, more than
   Faustus, that made me write "Manfred."'

In letter 288, speaking of the various accounts given by critics of the
origin of the story, he says,--

   'The conjecturer is out, and knows nothing of the matter.  I had a
   better origin than he could devise or divine for the soul of him.'

In letter 299, he says:--

'As to the germs of "Manfred," they may be found in the journal I sent to
Mrs. Leigh, part of which you saw.'

It may be said, plausibly, that Lord Byron, if conscious of this crime,
would not have expressed it in his poetry.  But his nature was such that
he could not help it.  Whatever he wrote that had any real power was
generally wrought out of self; and, when in a tumult of emotion, he could
not help giving glimpses of the cause.  It appears that he did know that
he had been accused of incest, and that Shelley thought that accusation
the only really important one; and yet, sensitive as he was to blame and
reprobation, he ran upon this very subject most likely to re-awaken

But Lord Byron's strategy was always of the bold kind.  It was the plan
of the fugitive, who, instead of running away, stations himself so near
to danger, that nobody would ever think of looking for him there.  He
published passionate verses to his sister on this principle.  He imitated
the security of an innocent man in every thing but the unconscious energy
of the agony which seized him when he gave vent to his nature in poetry.
The boldness of his strategy is evident through all his life.  He began
by charging his wife with the very cruelty and deception which he was
himself practising.  He had spread a net for her feet, and he accused her
of spreading a net for his.  He had placed her in a position where she
could not speak, and then leisurely shot arrows at her; and he
represented her as having done the same by him.  When he attacked her in
'Don Juan,' and strove to take from her the very protection {227}of
womanly sacredness by putting her name into the mouth of every ribald, he
did a bold thing, and he knew it.  He meant to do a bold thing.  There
was a general outcry against it; and he fought it down, and gained his
point.  By sheer boldness and perseverance, he turned the public from his
wife, and to himself, in the face of their very groans and protests.  His
'Manfred' and his 'Cain' were parts of the same game.  But the
involuntary cry of remorse and despair pierced even through his own
artifices, in a manner that produced a conviction of reality.

His evident fear and hatred of his wife were other symptoms of crime.
There was no apparent occasion for him to hate her.  He admitted that she
had been bright, amiable, good, agreeable; that her marriage had been a
very uncomfortable one; and he said to Madame de Stael, that he did not
doubt she thought him deranged.  Why, then, did he hate her for wanting
to live peaceably by herself?  Why did he so fear her, that not one year
of his life passed without his concocting and circulating some public or
private accusation against her?  She, by his own showing, published none
against him.  It is remarkable, that, in all his zeal to represent
himself injured, he nowhere quotes a single remark from Lady Byron, nor a
story coming either directly or indirectly from her or her family.  He is
in a fever in Venice, not from what she has spoken, but because she has
sealed the lips of her counsel, and because she and her family do not
speak: so that he professes himself utterly ignorant what form her
allegations against him may take.  He had heard from Shelley that his
wife silenced the most important calumny by going to make Mrs. Leigh a
visit; and yet he is afraid of her,--so afraid, that he tells Moore he
expects she will attack him after death, and charges him to defend his

Now, if Lord Byron knew that his wife had a deadly secret that she could
tell, all this conduct is explicable: it is in the ordinary course of
human nature.  Men always distrust those who hold facts by which they can
be ruined.  They fear them; they are antagonistic to them; they cannot
trust them.  The feeling of Falkland to Caleb Williams, as portrayed in
Godwin's masterly sketch, is perfectly natural, and it is exactly
illustrative of what Byron felt for his wife.  He hated her for having
his secret; and, so far as a human being could do it, he tried to destroy
her character before the world, that she might not have the power to
testify against him.  If we admit this solution, Byron's conduct is at
least that of a man who is acting as men ordinarily would act under such
circumstances: if we do not, he is acting like a fiend.  Let us look at
admitted facts.  He married his wife without love, in a gloomy,
melancholy, morose state of mind.  The servants testify to strange,
unaccountable treatment of her immediately after marriage; such that her
confidential maid advises her return to her parents.  In Lady Byron's
letter to Mrs. Leigh, she reminds Lord Byron that he always expressed a
desire and determination to free himself from the marriage.  Lord Byron
himself admits to Madame de Stael that his behaviour was such, that his
wife must have thought him insane.  Now we are asked to believe, that
simply because, under these circumstances, Lady Byron wished to live
separate from her husband, he hated and feared her so that he could never
let her alone afterwards; that he charged her with malice, slander,
deceit, and deadly intentions against himself, merely out of spite,
because she preferred not to live with him.  This last view of the case
certainly makes Lord Byron more unaccountably wicked than the other.

The first supposition shows him to us as a man in an agony of
self-preservation; the second as a fiend, delighting in gratuitous deceit
and cruelty.

Again: a presumption of this crime appears in Lord Byron's admission, in
a letter to Moore, that he had an illegitimate child born before he left
England, and still living at the time.

In letter 307, to Mr. Moore, under date Venice, Feb. 2, 1818, Byron says,
speaking of Moore's loss of a child,--

   'I know how to feel with you, because I am quite wrapped up in my own
   children.  Besides my little legitimate, I have made unto myself an
   illegitimate since [since Ada's birth] to say nothing of one before;
   and I look forward to one of these as the pillar of my old age,
   supposing that I ever reach, as I hope I never shall, that desolating

The illegitimate child that he had made to himself since Ada's birth was
Allegra, born about nine or ten months after the separation.  The other
illegitimate alluded to was born before, and, as the reader sees, was
spoken of as still living.

Moore appears to be puzzled to know who this child can be, and
conjectures that it may possibly be the child referred to in an early
poem, written, while a schoolboy of nineteen, at Harrow.

On turning back to the note referred to, we find two things: first, that
the child there mentioned was not claimed by Lord Byron as his own, but
that he asked his mother to care for it as belonging to a schoolmate now
dead; second, that the infant died shortly after, and, consequently,
could not be the child mentioned in this letter.

Now, besides this fact, that Lord Byron admitted a living illegitimate
child born before Ada, we place this other fact, that there was a child
in England which was believed to be his by those who had every
opportunity of knowing.

On this subject we shall cite a passage from a letter recently received
by us from England, and written by a person who appears well informed on
the subject of his letter:--

   'The fact is, the incest was first committed, and the child of it born
   before, shortly before, the Byron marriage.  The child (a daughter)
   must not be confounded with the natural daughter of Lord Byron, born
   about a year after his separation.

   'The history, more or less, of that child of incest, is known to many;
   for in Lady Byron's attempts to watch over her, and rescue her from
   ruin, she was compelled to employ various agents at different times.'

This letter contains a full recognition, by an intelligent person in
England, of a child corresponding well with Lord Byron's declaration of
an illegitimate, born before he left England.

Up to this point, we have, then, the circumstantial evidence against Lord
Byron as follows:--

A good and amiable woman, who had married him from love, determined to
separate from him.

Two of the greatest lawyers of England confirmed her in this decision,
and threatened Lord Byron, that, unless he consented to this, they would
expose the evidence against him in a suit for divorce.  He fled from this
exposure, and never afterwards sought public investigation.

He was angry with and malicious towards the counsel who supported his
wife; he was angry at and afraid of a wife who did nothing to injure him,
and he made it a special object to defame and degrade her.  He gave such
evidence of remorse and fear in his writings as to lead eminent literary
men to believe he had committed a great crime.  The public rumour of his
day specified what the crime was.  His relations, by his own showing,
joined against him.  The report was silenced by his wife's efforts only.
Lord Byron subsequently declares the existence of an illegitimate child,
born before he left England.  Corresponding to this, there is the
history, known in England, of a child believed to be his, in whom his
wife took an interest.

All these presumptions exist independently of any direct testimony from
Lady Byron.  They are to be admitted as true, whether she says a word one
way or the other.

From this background of proof, I come forward, and testify to an
interview with Lady Byron, in which she gave me specific information of
the facts in the case.  That I report the facts just as I received them
from her, not altered or misremembered, is shown by the testimony of my
sister, to whom I related them at the time.  It cannot, then, be denied
that I had this interview, and that this communication was made.  I
therefore testify that Lady Byron, for a proper purpose, and at a proper
time, stated to me the following things:--

1.  That the crime which separated her from Lord Byron was incest.

2.  That she first discovered it by improper actions towards his sister,
which, he meant to make her understand, indicated the guilty relation.

3.  That he admitted it, reasoned on it, defended it, tried to make her
an accomplice, and, failing in that, hated her and expelled her.

4.  That he threatened her that he would make it his life's object to
destroy her character.

5.  That for a period she was led to regard this conduct as insanity, and
to consider him only as a diseased person.

6.  That she had subsequent proof that the facts were really as she
suspected; that there had been a child born of the crime, whose history
she knew; that Mrs. Leigh had repented.

The purpose for which this was stated to me was to ask, Was it her duty
to make the truth fully known during her lifetime?

Here, then, is a man believed guilty of an unusual crime by two lawyers,
the best in England, who have seen the evidence,--a man who dares not
meet legal investigation.  The crime is named in society, and deemed so
far probable to the men of his generation as to be spoken of by Shelley
as the only important allegation against him.  He acts through life
exactly like a man struggling with remorse, and afraid of detection; he
has all the restlessness and hatred and fear that a man has who feels
that there is evidence which might destroy him.  He admits an
illegitimate child besides Allegra.  A child believed to have been his is
known to many in England.  Added to all this, his widow, now advanced in
years, and standing on the borders of eternity, being, as appears by her
writings and conversation, of perfectly sound mind at the time, testifies
to me the facts before named, which exactly correspond to probabilities.

I publish the statement; and the solicitors who hold Lady Byron's private
papers do not deny the truth of the story.  They try to cast discredit on
me for speaking; but they do not say that I have spoken falsely, or that
the story is not true.  The lawyer who knew Lady Byron's story in 1816
does not now deny that this is the true one.  Several persons in England
testify that, at various times, and for various purposes, the same story
has been told to them.  Moreover, it appears from my last letter
addressed to Lady Byron on this subject, that I recommended her to leave
all necessary papers in the hands of some discreet persons, who, after
both had passed away, should see that justice was done.  The solicitors
admit that Lady Byron has left sealed papers of great importance in the
hands of trustees, with discretionary power.  I have been informed very
directly that the nature of these documents was such as to lead to the
suppression of Lady Byron's life and writings.  This is all exactly as it
would be, if the story related by Lady Byron were the true one.

The evidence under this point of view is so strong, that a great effort
has been made to throw out Lady Byron's testimony.

This attempt has been made on two grounds.  1st, That she was under a
mental hallucination.  This theory has been most ably refuted by the very
first authority in England upon the subject.  He says,--

   'No person practically acquainted with the true characteristics of
   insanity would affirm, that, had this idea of "incest" been an insane
   hallucination, Lady Byron could, from the lengthened period which
   intervened between her unhappy marriage and death, have refrained from
   exhibiting it, not only to legal advisers and trustees (assuming that
   she revealed to them the fact), but to others, exacting no pledge of
   secrecy from them as to her mental impressions.  Lunatics do for a
   time, and for some special purpose, most cunningly conceal their
   delusions; but they have not the capacity to struggle for thirty-six
   years, as Lady Byron must have done, with so frightful an
   hallucination, without the insane state of mind becoming obvious to
   those with whom they are daily associating.  Neither is it consistent
   with experience to suppose, that, if Lady Byron had been a monomaniac,
   her state of disordered understanding would have been restricted to
   one hallucination.  Her diseased brain, affecting the normal action of
   thought, would, in all probability, have manifested other symptoms
   besides those referred to of aberration of intellect.

   'During the last thirty years, I have not met with a case of insanity
   (assuming the hypothesis of hallucination) at all parallel with that
   of Lady Byron.  In my experience, it is unique.  I never saw a patient
   with such a delusion.'

We refer our readers to a careful study of Dr. Forbes Winslow's
consideration of this subject given in Part III.  Anyone who has been
familiar with the delicacy and acuteness of Dr. Winslow, as shown in his
work on obscure diseases of the brain and nerves, must feel that his
positive assertion on this ground is the best possible evidence.  We here
gratefully acknowledge our obligations to Dr. Winslow for the corrected
proof of his valuable letter, which he has done us the honour to send for
this work.  We shall consider that his argument, in connection with what
the reader may observe of Lady Byron's own writings, closes that issue of
the case completely.

The other alternative is, that Lady Byron deliberately committed false
witness.  This was the ground assumed by the 'Blackwood,' when in July,
1869, it took upon itself the responsibility of re-opening the Byron
controversy.  It is also the ground assumed by 'The London Quarterly' of

Both say, in so many words, that no crime was imputed to Lord Byron; that
the representations made to Lushington in the beginning were false ones;
and that the story told to Lady Byron's confidential friends in later
days was also false.

Let us examine this theory.  In the first place, it requires us to
believe in the existence of a moral monster of whom Madame Brinvilliers
is cited as the type.  The 'Blackwood,' let it be remembered, opens the
controversy with the statement that Lady Byron was a Madame Brinvilliers.
The 'Quarterly' does not shrink from the same assumption.

Let us consider the probability of this question.

If Lady Byron were such a woman, and wished to ruin her husband's
reputation in order to save her own, and, being perfectly unscrupulous,
had circulated against him a story of unnatural crime which had no
proofs, how came two of the first lawyers of England to assume the
responsibility of offering to present her case in open court?  How came
her husband, if he knew himself guiltless, to shrink from that public
investigation which must have demonstrated his innocence?  Most
astonishing of all, when he fled from trial, and the report got abroad
against him in England, and was believed even by his own relations, why
did not his wife avail herself of the moment to complete her victory?  If
at that moment she had publicly broken with Mrs. Leigh, she might have
confirmed every rumour.  Did she do it? and why not?  According to the
'Blackwood,' we have here a woman who has made up a frightful story to
ruin her husband's reputation, yet who takes every pains afterwards to
prevent its being ruined.  She fails to do the very thing she undertakes;
and for years after, rather than injure him, she loses public sympathy,
and, by sealing the lips of her legal counsel, deprives herself of the
advantage of their testimony.

Moreover, if a desire for revenge could have been excited in her, it
would have been provoked by the first publication of the fourth canto of
'Childe Harold,' when she felt that Byron was attacking her before the
world.  Yet we have Lady Anne Barnard's testimony, that, at this time,
she was so far from wishing to injure him, that all her communications
were guarded by cautious secrecy.  At this time, also, she had a strong
party in England, to whom she could have appealed.  Again: when 'Don
Juan' was first printed, it excited a violent re-action against Lord
Byron.  Had his wife chosen then to accuse him, and display the evidence
she had shown to her counsel, there is little doubt that all the world
would have stood with her; but she did not.  After his death, when she
spoke at last, there seems little doubt from the strength of Dr.
Lushington's language, that Lady Byron had a very strong case, and that,
had she been willing, her counsel could have told much more than he did.
She might then have told her whole story, and been believed.  Her word
was believed by Christopher North, and accepted as proof that Byron had
been a great criminal.  Had revenge been her motive, she could have
spoken the ONE WORD more that North called for.

The 'Quarterly' asks why she waited till everybody concerned was dead.
There is an obvious answer.  Because, while there was anybody living to
whom the testimony would have been utterly destructive, there were the
best reasons for withholding it.  When all were gone from earth, and she
herself was in constant expectation of passing away, there was a reason,
and a proper one, why she should speak.  By nature and principle
truthful, she had had the opportunity of silently watching the operation
of a permitted lie upon a whole generation.  She had been placed in a
position in which it was necessary, by silence, to allow the spread and
propagation through society of a radical falsehood.  Lord Byron's life,
fame, and genius had all struck their roots into this lie, been nourished
by it, and had derived thence a poisonous power.

In reading this history, it will be remarked that he pleaded his personal
misfortunes in his marriage as excuses for every offence against
morality, and that the literary world of England accepted the plea, and
tolerated and justified the crimes.  Never before, in England, had
adultery been spoken of in so respectful a manner, and an adulteress
openly praised and feted, and obscene language and licentious images
publicly tolerated; and all on the plea of a man's private misfortunes.

There was, therefore, great force in the suggestion made to Lady Byron,
that she owed a testimony in this case to truth and justice, irrespective
of any personal considerations.  There is no more real reason for
allowing the spread of a hurtful falsehood that affects ourselves than
for allowing one that affects our neighbour.  This falsehood had
corrupted the literature and morals of both England and America, and led
to the public toleration, by respectable authorities, of forms of vice at
first indignantly rejected.  The question was, Was this falsehood to go
on corrupting literature as long as history lasted?  Had the world no
right to true history?  Had she who possessed the truth no responsibility
to the world?  Was not a final silence a confirmation of a lie with all
its consequences?

This testimony of Lady Byron, so far from being thrown out altogether, as
the 'Quarterly' proposes, has a peculiar and specific value from the
great forbearance and reticence which characterised the greater part of
her life.

The testimony of a person who has shown in every action perfect
friendliness to another comes with the more weight on that account.
Testimony extorted by conscience from a parent against a child, or a wife
against a husband, where all the other actions of the life prove the
existence of kind feeling, is held to be the strongest form of evidence.

The fact that Lady Byron, under the severest temptations and the
bitterest insults and injuries, withheld every word by which Lord Byron
could be criminated, so long as he and his sister were living, is strong
evidence, that, when she did speak, it was not under the influence of ill-
will, but of pure conscientious convictions; and the fullest weight
ought, therefore, to be given to her testimony.

We are asked now why she ever spoke at all.  The fact that her story is
known to several persons in England is brought up as if it were a crime.
To this we answer, Lady Byron had an undoubted moral right to have
exposed the whole story in a public court in 1816, and thus cut herself
loose from her husband by a divorce.  For the sake of saving her husband
and sister from destruction, she waived this right to self-justification,
and stood for years a silent sufferer under calumny and
misrepresentation.  She desired nothing but to retire from the whole
subject; to be permitted to enjoy with her child the peace and seclusion
that belong to her sex.  Her husband made her, through his life and after
his death, a subject of such constant discussion, that she must either
abandon the current literature of her day, or run the risk of reading
more or less about herself in almost every magazine of her time.
Conversations with Lord Byron, notes of interviews with Lord Byron,
journals of time spent with Lord Byron, were constantly spread before the
public.  Leigh Hunt, Galt, Medwin, Trelawney, Lady Blessington, Dr.
Kennedy, and Thomas Moore, all poured forth their memorials; and in all
she figured prominently.  All these had their tribes of reviewers and
critics, who also discussed her.  The profound mystery of her silence
seemed constantly to provoke inquiry.  People could not forgive her for
not speaking.  Her privacy, retirement, and silence were set down as
coldness, haughtiness, and contempt of human sympathy.  She was
constantly challenged to say something: as, for example, in the 'Noctes'
of November 1825, six months after Byron's death, Christopher North says,
speaking of the burning of the Autobiography,--

   'I think, since the Memoir was burned by these people, these people
   are bound to put us in possession of the best evidence they still have
   the power of producing, in order that we may come to a just conclusion
   as to a subject upon which, by their act, at least, as much as by any
   other people's act, we are compelled to consider it our duty to make
   up our deliberate opinion,--deliberate and decisive.  Woe be to those
   who provoke this curiosity, and will not allay it!  Woe be to them!
   say I.  Woe to them! says the world.'

When Lady Byron published her statement, which certainly seemed called
for by this language, Christopher North blamed her for doing it, and then
again said that she ought to go on and tell the whole story.  If she was
thus adjured to speak, blamed for speaking, and adjured to speak further,
all in one breath, by public prints, there is reason to think that there
could not have come less solicitation from private sources,--from friends
who had access to her at all hours, whom she loved, by whom she was
beloved, and to whom her refusal to explain might seem a breach of
friendship.  Yet there is no evidence on record, that we have seen, that
she ever had other confidant than her legal counsel, till after all the
actors in the events were in their graves, and the daughter, for whose
sake largely the secret was guarded, had followed them.

Now, does anyone claim, that, because a woman has sacrificed for twenty
years all cravings for human sympathy, and all possibility of perfectly
free and unconstrained intercourse with her friends, that she is obliged
to go on bearing this same lonely burden to the end of her days?

Let anyone imagine the frightful constraint and solitude implied in this
sentence.  Let anyone, too, think of its painful complications in life.
The roots of a falsehood are far-reaching.  Conduct that can only be
explained by criminating another must often seem unreasonable and
unaccountable; and the most truthful person, who feels bound to keep
silence regarding a radical lie of another, must often be placed in
positions most trying to conscientiousness.  The great merit of 'Caleb
Williams' as a novel consists in its philosophical analysis of the utter
helplessness of an innocent person who agrees to keep the secret of a
guilty one.  One sees there how that necessity of silence produces all
the effect of falsehood on his part, and deprives him of the confidence
and sympathy of those with whom he would take refuge.

For years, this unnatural life was forced on Lady Byron, involving her as
in a network, even in her dearest family relations.

That, when all the parties were dead, Lady Byron should allow herself the
sympathy of a circle of intimate friends, is something so perfectly
proper and natural, that we cannot but wonder that her conduct in this
respect has ever been called in question.  If it was her right to have
had a public expose in 1816, it was certainly her right to show to her
own intimate circle the secret of her life when all the principal actors
were passed from earth.

The 'Quarterly' speaks as if, by thus waiting, she deprived Lord Byron of
the testimony of living witnesses.  But there were as many witnesses and
partisans dead on her side as on his.  Lady Milbanke and Sir Ralph, Sir
Samuel Romilly and Lady Anne Barnard were as much dead as Hobhouse,
Moore, and others of Byron's partisans.

The 'Quarterly' speaks of Lady Byron as 'running round, and repeating her
story to people mostly below her own rank in life.'

To those who know the personal dignity of Lady Byron's manners,
represented and dwelt on by her husband in his conversations with Lady
Blessington, this coarse and vulgar attack only proves the poverty of a
cause which can defend itself by no better weapons.

Lord Byron speaks of his wife as 'highly cultivated;' as having 'a degree
of self-control I never saw equalled.'

   'I am certain,' he says, 'that Lady Byron's first idea is what is due
   to herself: I mean that it is the undeviating rule of her conduct . .
   . .  Now, my besetting sin is a want of that self-respect which she
   has in excess . . . .  But, though I accuse Lady Byron of an excess of
   self-respect, I must, in candour, admit, that, if any person ever had
   excuse for an extraordinary portion of it, she has; as, in all her
   thoughts, words, and actions, she is the most decorous woman that ever

This is the kind of woman who has lately been accused in the public
prints as a babbler of secrets and a gossip in regard to her private
difficulties with children, grandchildren, and servants.  It is a fair
specimen of the justice that has generally been meted out to Lady Byron.

In 1836, she was accused of having made a confidant of Campbell, on the
strength of having written him a note declining to give him any
information, or answer any questions.  In July, 1869, she was denounced
by 'Blackwood' as a Madame Brinvilliers for keeping such perfect silence
on the matter of her husband's character; and in the last 'Quarterly' she
is spoken of as a gossip 'running round, and repeating her story to
people below her in rank.'

While we are upon this subject, we have a suggestion to make.  John
Stuart Mill says that utter self-abnegation has been preached to women as
a peculiarly feminine virtue.  It is true; but there is a moral limit to
the value of self-abnegation.

It is a fair question for the moralist, whether it is right and proper
wholly to ignore one's personal claims to justice.  The teachings of the
Saviour give us warrant for submitting to personal injuries; but both the
Saviour and St. Paul manifested bravery in denying false accusations, and
asserting innocence.

Lady Byron was falsely accused of having ruined the man of his
generation, and caused all his vices and crimes, and all their evil
effects on society.  She submitted to the accusation for a certain number
of years for reasons which commended themselves to her conscience; but
when all the personal considerations were removed, and she was about
passing from life, it was right, it was just, it was strictly in
accordance with the philosophical and ethical character of her mind, and
with her habit of considering all things in their widest relations to the
good of mankind, that she should give serious attention and consideration
to the last duty which she might owe to abstract truth and justice in her

In her letter on the religious state of England, we find her advocating
an absolute frankness in all religious parties.  She would have all
openly confess those doubts, which, from the best of motives, are usually
suppressed; and believed, that, as a result of such perfect truthfulness,
a wider love would prevail among Christians.  This shows the strength of
her conviction of the power and the importance of absolute truth; and
shows, therefore, that her doubts and conscientious inquiries respecting
her duty on this subject are exactly what might have been expected from a
person of her character and principles.

Having thus shown that Lady Byron's testimony is the testimony of a woman
of strong and sound mind, that it was not given from malice nor ill-will,
that it was given at a proper time and in a proper manner, and for a
purpose in accordance with the most elevated moral views, and that it is
coincident with all the established facts of this history, and furnishes
a perfect solution of every mystery of the case, we think we shall carry
the reader with us in saying that it is to be received as absolute truth.

This conviction we arrive at while as yet we are deprived of the
statement prepared by Lady Byron, and the proof by which she expected to
sustain it; both which, as we understand, are now in the hands of her


The credibility of the accusation of the unnatural crime charged to Lord
Byron is greater than if charged to most men.  He was born of parents
both of whom were remarkable for perfectly ungoverned passions.  There
appears to be historical evidence that he was speaking literal truth when
he says to Medwin of his father,--

   'He would have made a bad hero for Hannah More.  He ran out three
   fortunes, and married or ran away with three women . . .  He seemed
   born for his own ruin and that of the other sex.  He began by seducing
   Lady Carmarthen, and spent her four thousand pounds; and, not content
   with one adventure of this kind, afterwards eloped with Miss
   Gordon.'--Medwin's Conversations, p.31.

Lady Carmarthen here spoken of was the mother of Mrs. Leigh.  Miss Gordon
became Lord Byron's mother.

By his own account, and that of Moore, she was a passionate, ungoverned,
though affectionate woman.  Lord Byron says to Medwin,--

   'I lost my father when I was only six years of age.  My mother, when
   she was in a passion with me (and I gave her cause enough), used to
   say, "O you little dog! you are a Byron all over; you are as bad as
   your father!"'--Ibid., p.37.

By all the accounts of his childhood and early youth, it is made apparent
that ancestral causes had sent him into the world with a most perilous
and exceptional sensitiveness of brain and nervous system, which it would
have required the most judicious course of education to direct safely and

Lord Byron often speaks as if he deemed himself subject to tendencies
which might terminate in insanity.  The idea is so often mentioned and
dwelt upon in his letters, journals, and conversations, that we cannot
but ascribe it to some very peculiar experience, and not to mere

But, in the history of his early childhood and youth, we see no evidence
of any original malformation of nature.  We see only evidence of one of
those organisations, full of hope and full of peril, which adverse
influences might easily drive to insanity, but wise physiological
training and judicious moral culture might have guided to the most
splendid results.  But of these he had neither.  He was alternately the
pet and victim of his mother's tumultuous nature, and equally injured
both by her love and her anger.  A Scotch maid of religious character
gave him early serious impressions of religion, and thus added the
element of an awakened conscience to the conflicting ones of his

Education, in the proper sense of the word, did not exist in England in
those days.  Physiological considerations of the influence of the body on
the soul, of the power of brain and nerve over moral development, had
then not even entered the general thought of society.  The school and
college education literally taught him nothing but the ancient classics,
of whose power in exciting and developing the animal passions Byron often

The morality of the times is strikingly exemplified even in its literary

For example: One of Byron's poems, written while a schoolboy at Harrow,
is addressed to 'My Son.'  Mr. Moore, and the annotator of the standard
edition of Byron's poems, gravely give the public their speculations on
the point, whether Lord Byron first became a father while a schoolboy at
Harrow; and go into particulars in relation to a certain infant, the
claim to which lay between Lord Byron and another schoolfellow.  It is
not the nature of the event itself, so much as the cool, unembarrassed
manner in which it is discussed, that gives the impression of the state
of public morals.  There is no intimation of anything unusual, or
discreditable to the school, in the event, and no apparent suspicion that
it will be regarded as a serious imputation on Lord Byron's character.

Modern physiological developments would lead any person versed in the
study of the reciprocal influence of physical and moral laws to
anticipate the most serious danger to such an organisation as Lord
Byron's, from a precocious development of the passions.  Alcoholic and
narcotic stimulants, in the case of such a person, would be regarded as
little less than suicidal, and an early course of combined drinking and
licentiousness as tending directly to establish those unsound conditions
which lead towards moral insanity.  Yet not only Lord Byron's testimony,
but every probability from the licence of society, goes to show that this
was exactly what did take place.

Neither restrained by education, nor warned by any correct physiological
knowledge, nor held in check by any public sentiment, he drifted directly
upon the fatal rock.

Here we give Mr. Moore full credit for all his abatements in regard to
Lord Byron's excesses in his early days.  Moore makes the point very
strongly that he was not, de facto, even so bad as many of his
associates; and we agree with him.  Byron's physical organisation was
originally as fine and sensitive as that of the most delicate woman.  He
possessed the faculty of moral ideality in a high degree; and he had not,
in the earlier part of his life, an attraction towards mere brutal vice.
His physical sensitiveness was so remarkable that he says of himself, 'A
dose of salts has the effect of a temporary inebriation, like light
champagne, upon me.'  Yet this exceptionally delicately-organised boy and
youth was in a circle where not to conform to the coarse drinking-customs
of his day was to incur censure and ridicule.  That he early acquired the
power of bearing large quantities of liquor is manifested by the record
in his Journal, that, on the day when he read the severe 'Edinburgh'
article upon his schoolboy poems, he drank three bottles of claret at a

Yet Byron was so far superior to his times, that some vague impulses to
physiological prudence seem to have suggested themselves to him, and been
acted upon with great vigour.  He never could have lived so long as he
did, under the exhaustive process of every kind of excess, if he had not
re-enforced his physical nature by an assiduous care of his muscular
system.  He took boxing-lessons, and distinguished himself in all
athletic exercises.

He also had periods in which he seemed to try vaguely to retrieve himself
from dissipation, and to acquire self-mastery by what he called

But, ignorant and excessive in all his movements, his very efforts at
temperance were intemperate.  From violent excesses in eating and
drinking, he would pass to no less unnatural periods of utter abstinence.
Thus the very conservative power which Nature has of adapting herself to
any settled course was lost.  The extreme sensitiveness produced by long
periods of utter abstinence made the succeeding debauch more maddening
and fatal.  He was like a fine musical instrument, whose strings were
every day alternating between extreme tension and perfect laxity.  We
have in his Journal many passages, of which the following is a specimen:--

   'I have dined regularly to-day, for the first time since Sunday last;
   this being Sabbath too,--all the rest, tea and dry biscuits, six per
   diem.  I wish to God I had not dined, now!  It kills me with
   heaviness, stupor, and horrible dreams; and yet it was but a pint of
   bucellas, and fish.  Meat I never touch, nor much vegetable diet.  I
   wish I were in the country, to take exercise, instead of being obliged
   to cool by abstinence, in lieu of it.  I should not so much mind a
   little accession of flesh: my bones can well bear it.  But the worst
   is, the Devil always came with it, till I starved him out; and I will
   not be the slave of any appetite.  If I do err, it shall be my heart,
   at least, that heralds the way.  O my head! how it aches!  The horrors
   of digestion!  I wonder how Bonaparte's dinner agrees with
   him.'--Moore's Life, vol. ii. p.264.

From all the contemporary history and literature of the times, therefore,
we have reason to believe that Lord Byron spoke the exact truth when he
said to Medwin,--

   'My own master at an age when I most required a guide, left to the
   dominion of my passions when they were the strongest, with a fortune
   anticipated before I came into possession of it, and a constitution
   impaired by early excesses, I commenced my travels, in 1809, with a
   joyless indifference to the world and all that was before
   me.'--Medwin's Conversations, p.42.

Utter prostration of the whole physical man from intemperate excess, the
deadness to temptation which comes from utter exhaustion, was his
condition, according to himself and Moore, when he first left England, at
twenty-one years of age.

In considering his subsequent history, we are to take into account that
it was upon the brain and nerve-power, thus exhausted by early excess,
that the draughts of sudden and rapid literary composition began to be
made.  There was something unnatural and unhealthy in the rapidity,
clearness, and vigour with which his various works followed each other.
Subsequently to the first two cantos of 'Childe Harold,' 'The Bride of
Abydos,' 'The Corsair,' 'The Giaour,' 'Lara,' 'Parisina,' and 'The Siege
of Corinth,' all followed close upon each other, in a space of less than
three years, and those the three most critical years of his life.  'The
Bride of Abydos' came out in the autumn of 1813, and was written in a
week; and 'The Corsair' was composed in thirteen days.  A few months more
than a year before his marriage, and the brief space of his married life,
was the period in which all this literary labour was performed, while yet
he was running the wild career of intrigue and fashionable folly.  He
speaks of 'Lara' as being tossed off in the intervals between masquerades
and balls, etc.  It is with the physical results of such unnatural
efforts that we have now chiefly to do.  Every physiologist would say
that the demands of such poems on a healthy brain, in that given space,
must have been exhausting; but when we consider that they were cheques
drawn on a bank broken by early extravagance, and that the subject was
prodigally spending vital forces in every other direction at the same
time, one can scarcely estimate the physiological madness of such a
course as Lord Byron's.

It is evident from his Journal, and Moore's account, that any amount of
physical force which was for the time restored by his first foreign
travel was recklessly spent in this period, when he threw himself with a
mad recklessness into London society in the time just preceding his
marriage.  The revelations made in Moore's Memoir of this period are sad
enough: those to Medwin are so appalling as to the state of contemporary
society in England, as to require, at least, the benefit of the doubt for
which Lord Byron's habitual carelessness of truth gave scope.  His
adventures with ladies of the highest rank in England are there paraded
with a freedom of detail that respect for womanhood must lead every woman
to question.  The only thing that is unquestionable is, that Lord Byron
made these assertions to Medwin, not as remorseful confessions, but as
relations of his bonnes fortunes, and that Medwin published them in the
very face of the society to which they related.

When Lord Byron says, 'I have seen a great deal of Italian society, and
swum in a gondola; but nothing could equal the profligacy of high life in
England . . .  when I knew it,' he makes certainly strong assertions, if
we remember what Mr. Moore reveals of the harem kept in Venice.

But when Lord Byron intimates that three married women in his own rank in
life, who had once held illicit relations with him, made wedding-visits
to his wife at one time, we must hope that he drew on his active
imagination, as he often did, in his statements in regard to women.

When he relates at large his amour with Lord Melbourne's wife, and
represents her as pursuing him with an insane passion, to which he with
difficulty responded; and when he says that she tracked a rival lady to
his lodgings, and came into them herself, disguised as a carman--one
hopes that he exaggerates.  And what are we to make of passages like

   'There was a lady at that time, double my own age, the mother of
   several children who were perfect angels, with whom I formed a liaison
   that continued without interruption for eight months.  She told me she
   was never in love till she was thirty, and I thought myself so with
   her when she was forty.  I never felt a stronger passion, which she
   returned with equal ardour . . . . . . .

   'Strange as it may seem, she gained, as all women do, an influence
   over me so strong that I had great difficulty in breaking with her.'

Unfortunately, these statements, though probably exaggerated, are, for
substance, borne out in the history of the times.  With every possible
abatement for exaggeration in these statements, there remains still
undoubted evidence from other sources that Lord Byron exercised a most
peculiar and fatal power over the moral sense of the women with whom he
was brought in relation; and that love for him, in many women, became a
sort of insanity, depriving them of the just use of their faculties.  All
this makes his fatal history both possible and probable.

Even the article in 'Blackwood,' written in 1825 for the express purpose
of vindicating his character, admits that his name had been coupled with
those of three, four, or more women of rank, whom it speaks of as
'licentious, unprincipled, characterless women.'

That such a course, in connection with alternate extremes of excess and
abstinence in eating and drinking, and the immense draughts on the brain-
power of rapid and brilliant composition, should have ended in that
abnormal state in which cravings for unnatural vice give indications of
approaching brain-disease, seems only too probable.

This symptom of exhausted vitality becomes often a frequent type in
periods of very corrupt society.  The dregs of the old Greek and Roman
civilisation were foul with it; and the apostle speaks of the turning of
the use of the natural into that which is against nature, as the last
step in abandonment.

The very literature of such periods marks their want of physical and
moral soundness.  Having lost all sense of what is simple and natural and
pure, the mind delights to dwell on horrible ideas, which give a
shuddering sense of guilt and crime.  All the writings of this fatal
period of Lord Byron's life are more or less intense histories of
unrepentant guilt and remorse or of unnatural crime.  A recent writer in
'Temple Bar' brings to light the fact, that 'The Bride of Abydos,' the
first of the brilliant and rapid series of poems which began in the
period immediately preceding his marriage, was, in its first composition,
an intense story of love between a brother and sister in a Turkish harem;
that Lord Byron declared, in a letter to Galt, that it was drawn from
real life; that, in compliance with the prejudices of the age, he altered
the relationship to that of cousins before publication.

This same writer goes on to show, by a series of extracts from Lord
Byron's published letters and journals, that his mind about this time was
in a fearfully unnatural state, and suffering singular and inexplicable
agonies of remorse; that, though he was accustomed fearlessly to confide
to his friends immoralities which would be looked upon as damning, there
was now a secret to which he could not help alluding in his letters, but
which he told Moore he could not tell now, but 'some day or other when we
are veterans.'  He speaks of his heart as eating itself out; of a
mysterious person, whom he says, 'God knows I love too well, and the
Devil probably too.'  He wrote a song, and sent it to Moore, addressed to
a partner in some awful guilt, whose very name he dares not mention,

      'There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame.'

He speaks of struggles of remorse, of efforts at repentance, and returns
to guilt, with a sort of horror very different from the well-pleased air
with which he relates to Medwin his common intrigues and adulteries.  He
speaks of himself generally as oppressed by a frightful, unnatural gloom
and horror, and, when occasionally happy, 'not in a way that can or ought
to last.'

'The Giaour,' 'The Corsair,' 'Lara,' 'Parisina,' 'The Siege of Corinth,'
and 'Manfred,' all written or conceived about this period of his life,
give one picture of a desperate, despairing, unrepentant soul, whom
suffering maddens, but cannot reclaim.

In all these he paints only the one woman, of concentrated, unconsidering
passion, ready to sacrifice heaven and defy hell for a guilty man,
beloved in spite of religion or reason.  In this unnatural literature,
the stimulus of crime is represented as intensifying love.  Medora,
Gulnare, the Page in 'Lara,' Parisina, and the lost sister of Manfred,
love the more intensely because the object of the love is a criminal, out-
lawed by God and man.  The next step beyond this is--madness.

The work of Dr. Forbes Winslow on 'Obscure Diseases of the Brain and
Nerves' {258} contains a passage so very descriptive of the case of Lord
Byron, that it might seem to have been written for it.  The sixth chapter
of his work, on 'Anomalous and Masked Affections of the Mind,' contains,
in our view, the only clue that can unravel the sad tragedy of Byron's
life.  He says, p.87,--

   'These forms of unrecognised mental disorder are not always
   accompanied by any well-marked disturbance of the bodily health
   requiring medical attention, or any obvious departure from a normal
   state of thought and conduct such as to justify legal interference;
   neither do these affections always incapacitate the party from
   engaging in the ordinary business of life . . . .  The change may have
   progressed insidiously and stealthily, having slowly and almost
   imperceptibly induced important molecular modifications in the
   delicate vesicular neurine of the brain, ultimately resulting in some
   aberration of the ideas, alteration of the affections, or perversion
   of the propensities or instincts. . . .

   'Mental disorder of a dangerous character has been known for years to
   be stealthily advancing, without exciting the slightest notion of its
   presence, until some sad and terrible catastrophe, homicide, or
   suicide, has painfully awakened attention to its existence.  Persons
   suffering from latent insanity often affect singularity of dress,
   gait, conversation, and phraseology.  The most trifling circumstances
   stimulate their excitability.  They are martyrs to ungovernable
   paroxysms of passion, are inflamed to a state of demoniacal fury by
   the most insignificant of causes, and occasionally lose all sense of
   delicacy of feeling, sentiment, refinement of manners and
   conversation.  Such manifestations of undetected mental disorder may
   be seen associated with intellectual and moral qualities of the
   highest order.'

In another place, Dr. Winslow again adverts to this latter symptom, which
was strikingly marked in the case of Lord Byron:--

   'All delicacy and decency of thought are occasionally banished from
   the mind, so effectually does the principle of thought in these
   attacks succumb to the animal instincts and passions . . . .

   'Such cases will commonly be found associated with organic
   predisposition to insanity or cerebral disease . . . .  Modifications
   of the malady are seen allied with genius.  The biographies of Cowper,
   Burns, Byron, Johnson, Pope, and Haydon establish that the most
   exalted intellectual conditions do not escape unscathed.

   'In early childhood, this form of mental disturbance may, in many
   cases, be detected.  To its existence is often to be traced the
   motiveless crimes of the young.'

No one can compare this passage of Dr. Forbes Winslow with the incidents
we have already cited as occurring in that fatal period before the
separation of Lord and Lady Byron, and not feel that the hapless young
wife was indeed struggling with those inflexible natural laws, which, at
some stages of retribution, involve in their awful sweep the guilty with
the innocent.  She longed to save; but he was gone past redemption.
Alcoholic stimulants and licentious excesses, without doubt, had produced
those unseen changes in the brain, of which Dr. Forbes Winslow speaks;
and the results were terrible in proportion to the peculiar fineness and
delicacy of the organism deranged.

Alas! the history of Lady Byron is the history of too many women in every
rank of life who are called, in agonies of perplexity and fear, to watch
that gradual process by which physical excesses change the organism of
the brain, till slow, creeping, moral insanity comes on.  The woman who
is the helpless victim of cruelties which only unnatural states of the
brain could invent, who is heart-sick to-day and dreads to-morrow,--looks
in hopeless horror on the fatal process by which a lover and a protector
changes under her eyes, from day to day, to a brute and a fiend.

Lady Byron's married life--alas! it is lived over in many a cottage and
tenement-house, with no understanding on either side of the cause of the
woeful misery.

Dr. Winslow truly says, 'The science of these brain-affections is yet in
its infancy in England.'  At that time, it had not even begun to be.
Madness was a fixed point; and the inquiries into it had no nicety.  Its
treatment, if established, had no redeeming power.  Insanity simply
locked a man up as a dangerous being; and the very suggestion of it,
therefore, was resented as an injury.

A most peculiar and affecting feature of that form of brain disease which
hurries its victim, as by an overpowering mania, into crime, is, that
often the moral faculties and the affections remain to a degree
unimpaired, and protest with all their strength against the outrage.
Hence come conflicts and agonies of remorse proportioned to the strength
of the moral nature.  Byron, more than any other one writer, may be
called the poet of remorse.  His passionate pictures of this feeling seem
to give new power to the English language:--

   'There is a war, a chaos of the mind,
   When all its elements convulsed--combined,
   Lie dark and jarring with perturbed force,
   And gnashing with impenitent remorse,
   That juggling fiend, who never spake before,
   But cries, "I warned thee!" when the deed is o'er.'

It was this remorse that formed the only redeeming feature of the case.
Its eloquence, its agonies, won from all hearts the interest that we give
to a powerful nature in a state of danger and ruin; and it may be hoped
that this feeling, which tempers the stern justice of human judgments,
may prove only a faint image of the wider charity of Him whose thoughts
are as far above ours as the heaven is above the earth.


It has seemed, to some, wholly inconsistent, that Lady Byron, if this
story were true, could retain any kindly feeling for Lord Byron, or any
tenderness for his memory; that the profession implied a certain
hypocrisy: but, in this sad review, we may see how the woman who once had
loved him, might, in spite of every wrong he had heaped upon her, still
have looked on this awful wreck and ruin chiefly with pity.  While she
stood afar, and refused to justify or join in the polluted idolatry which
defended his vices, there is evidence in her writings that her mind often
went back mournfully, as a mother's would, to the early days when he
might have been saved.

One of her letters in Robinson's Memoirs, in regard to his religious
opinions, shows with what intense earnestness she dwelt upon the unhappy
influences of his childhood and youth, and those early theologies which
led him to regard himself as one of the reprobate.  She says,--

   'Not merely from casual expressions, but from the whole tenor of Lord
   Byron's feelings, I could not but conclude that he was a believer in
   the inspiration of the Bible, and had the gloomiest Calvinistic
   tenets.  To that unhappy view of the relation of the creature to the
   Creator I have always ascribed the misery of his life.

   'It is enough for me to know that he who thinks his transgression
   beyond forgiveness . . . has righteousness beyond that of the self-
   satisfied sinner.  It is impossible for me to doubt, that, could he
   once have been assured of pardon, his living faith in moral duty, and
   love of virtue ("I love the virtues that I cannot claim"), would have
   conquered every temptation.  Judge, then, how I must hate the creed
   that made him see God as an Avenger, and not as a Father!  My own
   impressions were just the reverse, but could have but little weight;
   and it was in vain to seek to turn his thoughts from that fixed idea
   with which he connected his personal peculiarity as a stamp.  Instead
   of being made happier by any apparent good, he felt convinced that
   every blessing would be turned into a curse to him . . . "The worst of
   it is, I do believe," he said.  I, like all connected with him, was
   broken against the rock of predestination.  I may be pardoned for my
   frequent reference to the sentiment (expressed by him), that I was
   only sent to show him the happiness he was forbidden to enjoy.'

In this letter we have the heart, not of the wife, but of the mother,--the
love that searches everywhere for extenuations of the guilt it is forced
to confess.

That Lady Byron was not alone in ascribing such results to the doctrines
of Calvinism, in certain cases, appears from the language of the Thirty-
nine Articles, which says:--

   'As the godly consideration of predestination, and our election in
   Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly
   persons, and such as feel in themselves the workings of the spirit of
   Christ; . . .  so, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the spirit
   of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's
   predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth
   thrust them either into desperation, or into recklessness of most
   unclean living,--no less perilous than desperation.'

Lord Byron's life is an exact commentary on these words, which passed
under the revision of Calvin himself.

The whole tone of this letter shows not only that Lady Byron never lost
her deep interest in her husband, but that it was by this experience that
all her religious ideas were modified.  There is another of these letters
in which she thus speaks of her husband's writings and character:--

   'The author of the article on "Goethe" appears to me to have the mind
   which could dispel the illusion about another poet, without
   depreciating his claims . . . to the truest inspiration.

   'Who has sought to distinguish between the holy and the unholy in that
   spirit? to prove, by the very degradation of the one, how high the
   other was.  A character is never done justice to by extenuating its
   faults: so I do not agree to nisi bonum.  It is kinder to read the
   blotted page.'

These letters show that Lady Byron's idea was that, even were the whole
mournful truth about Lord Byron fully told, there was still a foundation
left for pity and mercy.  She seems to have remembered, that if his sins
were peculiar, so also were his temptations; and to have schooled herself
for years to gather up, and set in order in her memory, all that yet
remained precious in this great ruin.  Probably no English writer that
ever has made the attempt could have done this more perfectly.  Though
Lady Byron was not a poet par excellence, yet she belonged to an order of
souls fully equal to Lord Byron.  Hers was more the analytical mind of
the philosopher than the creative mind of the poet; and it was, for that
reason, the one mind in our day capable of estimating him fully both with
justice and mercy.  No person in England had a more intense sensibility
to genius, in its loftier acceptation, than Lady Byron; and none more
completely sympathised with what was pure and exalted in her husband's

There is this peculiarity in Lord Byron, that the pure and the impure in
his poetry often run side by side without mixing,--as one may see at
Geneva the muddy stream of the Arve and the blue waters of the Rhone
flowing together unmingled.  What, for example, can be nobler, and in a
higher and tenderer moral strain than his lines on the dying gladiator,
in 'Childe Harold'?  What is more like the vigour of the old Hebrew
Scriptures than his thunderstorm in the Alps?  What can more perfectly
express moral ideality of the highest kind than the exquisite
descriptions of Aurora Raby,--pure and high in thought and language,
occurring, as they do, in a work full of the most utter vileness?

Lady Byron's hopes for her husband fastened themselves on all the noble
fragments yet remaining in that shattered temple of his mind which lay
blackened and thunder-riven; and she looked forward to a sphere beyond
this earth, where infinite mercy should bring all again to symmetry and
order.  If the strict theologian must regret this as an undue latitude of
charity, let it at least be remembered that it was a charity which sprang
from a Christian virtue, and which she extended to every human being,
however lost, however low.  In her view, the mercy which took him was
mercy that could restore all.

In my recollections of the interview with Lady Byron, when this whole
history was presented, I can remember that it was with a softened and
saddened feeling that I contemplated the story, as one looks on some
awful, inexplicable ruin.

The last letter which I addressed to Lady Byron upon this subject will
show that such was the impression of the whole interview.  It was in
reply to the one written on the death of my son:--

                                     'Jan. 30, 1858.

   'MY DEAR FRIEND,--I did long to hear from you at a time when few knew
   how to speak, because I knew that you had known everything that sorrow
   can teach,--you, whose whole life has been a crucifixion, a long

   'But I believe that the Lamb, who stands for ever "in the midst of the
   throne, as it had been slain," has everywhere His followers,--those
   who seem sent into the world, as He was, to suffer for the redemption
   of others; and, like Him, they must look to the joy set before
   them,--of redeeming others.

   'I often think that God called you to this beautiful and terrible
   ministry when He suffered you to link your destiny with one so
   strangely gifted and so fearfully tempted.  Perhaps the reward that is
   to meet you when you enter within the veil where you must so soon pass
   will be to see that spirit, once chained and defiled, set free and
   purified; and to know that to you it has been given, by your life of
   love and faith, to accomplish this glorious change.

   'I think increasingly on the subject on which you conversed with me
   once,--the future state of retribution.  It is evident to me that the
   spirit of Christianity has produced in the human spirit a tenderness
   of love which wholly revolts from the old doctrine on this subject;
   and I observe, that, the more Christ-like anyone becomes, the more
   difficult it seems for them to accept it as hitherto presented.  And
   yet, on the contrary, it was Christ who said, "Fear Him that is able
   to destroy both soul and body in hell;" and the most appalling
   language is that of Christ himself.

   'Certain ideas, once prevalent, certainly must be thrown off.  An
   endless infliction for past sins was once the doctrine: that we now
   generally reject.  The doctrine now generally taught is, that an
   eternal persistence in evil necessitates everlasting suffering, since
   evil induces misery by the eternal nature of things; and this, I fear,
   is inferable from the analogies of Nature, and confirmed by the whole
   implication of the Bible.

   'What attention have you given to this subject? and is there any fair
   way of disposing of the current of assertion, and the still deeper
   under-current of implication, on this subject, without admitting one
   which loosens all faith in revelation, and throws us on pure
   naturalism?  But of one thing I always feel sure: probation does not
   end with this present life; and the number of the saved may therefore
   be infinitely greater than the world's history leads us to suppose.

   'I think the Bible implies a great crisis, a struggle, an agony, in
   which God and Christ and all the good are engaged in redeeming from
   sin; and we are not to suppose that the little portion that is done
   for souls as they pass between the two doors of birth and death is

   'The Bible is certainly silent there.  The primitive Church believed
   in the mercies of an intermediate state; and it was only the abuse of
   it by Romanism that drove the Church into its present position, which,
   I think, is wholly indefensible, and wholly irreconcilable with the
   spirit of Christ.  For if it were the case, that probation in all
   cases begins and ends here, God's example would surely be one that
   could not be followed, and He would seem to be far less persevering
   than even human beings in efforts to save.

   'Nothing is plainer than that it would be wrong to give up any mind to
   eternal sin till every possible thing had been done for its recovery;
   and that is so clearly not the case here, that I can see that, with
   thoughtful minds, this belief would cut the very roots of religious
   faith in God: for there is a difference between facts that we do not
   understand, and facts which we do understand, and perceive to be
   wholly irreconcilable with a certain character professed by God.

   'If God says He is love, and certain ways of explaining Scripture make
   Him less loving and patient than man, then we make Scripture
   contradict itself.  Now, as no passage of Scripture limits probation
   to this life, and as one passage in Peter certainly unequivocally
   asserts that Christ preached to the spirits in prison while His body
   lay in the grave, I am clear upon this point.

   'But it is also clear, that if there be those who persist in refusing
   God's love, who choose to dash themselves for ever against the
   inflexible laws of the universe, such souls must for ever suffer.

   'There may be souls who hate purity because it reveals their vileness;
   who refuse God's love, and prefer eternal conflict with it.  For such
   there can be no peace.  Even in this life, we see those whom the
   purest self-devoting love only inflames to madness; and we have only
   to suppose an eternal persistence in this to suppose eternal misery.

   'But on this subject we can only leave all reverently in the hands of
   that Being whose almighty power is "declared chiefly in showing


In leaving this subject, I have an appeal to make to the men, and more
especially to the women, who have been my readers.

In justice to Lady Byron, it must be remembered that this publication of
her story is not her act, but mine.  I trust you have already conceded,
that, in so severe and peculiar a trial, she had a right to be understood
fully by her immediate circle of friends, and to seek of them counsel in
view of the moral questions to which such very exceptional circumstances
must have given rise.  Her communication to me was not an address to the
public: it was a statement of the case for advice.  True, by leaving the
whole, unguarded by pledge or promise, it left discretionary power with
me to use it if needful.

You, my sisters, are to judge whether the accusation laid against Lady
Byron by the 'Blackwood,' in 1869, was not of so barbarous a nature as to
justify my producing the truth I held in my hands in reply.

The 'Blackwood' claimed a right to re-open the subject because it was not
a private but a public matter.  It claimed that Lord Byron's unfortunate
marriage might have changed not only his own destiny, but that of all
England.  It suggested, that, but for this, instead of wearing out his
life in vice, and corrupting society by impure poetry, he might, at this
day, have been leading the counsels of the State, and helping the onward
movements of the world.  Then it directly charged Lady Byron with meanly
forsaking her husband in a time of worldly misfortune; with fabricating a
destructive accusation of crime against him, and confirming this
accusation by years of persistent silence more guilty than open

It has been alleged, that, even admitting that Lady Byron's story were
true, it never ought to have been told.  Is it true, then, that a woman
has not the same right to individual justice that a man has?  If the
cases were reversed, would it have been thought just that Lord Byron
should go down in history loaded with accusations of crime because he
could be only vindicated by exposing the crime of his wife?

It has been said that the crime charged on Lady Byron was comparatively
unimportant, and the one against Lord Byron was deadly.

But the 'Blackwood,' in opening the controversy, called Lady Byron by the
name of an unnatural female criminal, whose singular atrocities alone
entitle her to infamous notoriety; and the crime charged upon her was
sufficient to warrant the comparison.

Both crimes are foul, unnatural, horrible; and there is no middle ground
between the admission of the one or the other.

You must either conclude that a woman, all whose other works, words, and
deeds were generous, just, and gentle, committed this one monstrous
exceptional crime, without a motive, and against all the analogies of her
character, and all the analogies of her treatment of others; or you must
suppose that a man known by all testimony to have been boundlessly
licentious, who took the very course which, by every physiological law,
would have led to unnatural results, did, at last, commit an unnatural

The question, whether I did right, when Lady Byron was thus held up as an
abandoned criminal by the 'Blackwood,' to interpose my knowledge of the
real truth in her defence, is a serious one; but it is one for which I
must account to God alone, and in which, without any contempt of the
opinions of my fellow-creatures, I must say, that it is a small thing to
be judged of man's judgment.

I had in the case a responsibility very different from that of many
others.  I had been consulted in relation to the publication of this
story by Lady Byron, at a time when she had it in her power to have
exhibited it with all its proofs, and commanded an instant conviction.  I
have reason to think that my advice had some weight in suppressing that
disclosure.  I gave that advice under the impression that the Byron
controversy was a thing for ever passed, and never likely to return.

It had never occurred to me, that, nine years after Lady Byron's death, a
standard English periodical would declare itself free to re-open this
controversy, when all the generation who were her witnesses had passed
from earth; and that it would re-open it in the most savage form of
accusation, and with the indorsement and commendation of a book of the
vilest slanders, edited by Lord Byron's mistress.

Let the reader mark the retributions of justice.  The accusations of the
'Blackwood,' in 1869, were simply an intensified form of those first
concocted by Lord Byron in his 'Clytemnestra' poem of 1816.  He forged
that weapon, and bequeathed it to his party.  The 'Blackwood' took it up,
gave it a sharper edge, and drove it to the heart of Lady Byron's fame.
The result has been the disclosure of this history.  It is, then, Lord
Byron himself, who, by his network of wiles, his ceaseless persecutions
of his wife, his efforts to extend his partisanship beyond the grave, has
brought on this tumultuous exposure.  He, and he alone, is the cause of
this revelation.

And now I have one word to say to those in England who, with all the
facts and documents in their hands which could at once have cleared Lady
Byron's fame, allowed the barbarous assault of the 'Blackwood' to go over
the civilised world without a reply.  I speak to those who, knowing that
I am speaking the truth, stand silent; to those who have now the ability
to produce the facts and documents by which this cause might be instantly
settled, and who do not produce them.

I do not judge them; but I remind them that a day is coming when they and
I must stand side by side at the great judgment-seat,--I to give an
account for my speaking, they for their silence.

In that day, all earthly considerations will have vanished like morning
mists, and truth or falsehood, justice or injustice, will be the only

In that day, God, who will judge the secrets of all men, will judge
between this man and this woman.  Then, if never before, the full truth
shall be told both of the depraved and dissolute man who made it his
life's object to defame the innocent, and the silent, the self-denying
woman who made it her life's object to give space for repentance to the



The reading world of America has lately been presented with a book which
is said to sell rapidly, and which appears to meet with universal favour.

The subject of the book may be thus briefly stated: The mistress of Lord
Byron comes before the world for the sake of vindicating his fame from
slanders and aspersions cast on him by his wife.  The story of the
mistress versus wife may be summed up as follows:--

Lord Byron, the hero of the story, is represented as a human being
endowed with every natural charm, gift, and grace, who, by the one false
step of an unsuitable marriage, wrecked his whole life.  A narrow-minded,
cold-hearted precisian, without sufficient intellect to comprehend his
genius, or heart to feel for his temptations, formed with him one of
those mere worldly marriages common in high life; and, finding that she
could not reduce him to the mathematical proprieties and conventional
rules of her own mode of life, suddenly, and without warning, abandoned
him in the most cruel and inexplicable manner.

It is alleged that she parted from him in apparent affection and good-
humour, wrote him a playful, confiding letter upon the way, but, after
reaching her father's house, suddenly, and without explanation, announced
to him that she would never see him again; that this sudden abandonment
drew down upon him a perfect storm of scandalous stories, which his wife
never contradicted; that she never in any way or shape stated what the
exact reasons for her departure had been, and thus silently gave scope to
all the malice of thousands of enemies.  The sensitive victim was
actually driven from England, his home broken up, and he doomed to be a
lonely wanderer on foreign shores.

In Italy, under bluer skies, and among a gentler people, with more
tolerant modes of judgment, the authoress intimates that he found peace
and consolation.  A lovely young Italian countess falls in love with him,
and, breaking her family ties for his sake, devotes herself to him; and,
in blissful retirement with her, he finds at last that domestic life for
which he was so fitted.

Soothed, calmed, and refreshed, he writes 'Don Juan,' which the world is
at this late hour informed was a poem with a high moral purpose, designed
to be a practical illustration of the doctrine of total depravity among
young gentlemen in high life.

Under the elevating influence of love, he rises at last to higher realms
of moral excellence, and resolves to devote the rest of his life to some
noble and heroic purpose; becomes the saviour of Greece; and dies
untimely, leaving a nation to mourn his loss.

The authoress dwells with a peculiar bitterness on Lady Byron's entire
silence during all these years, as the most aggravated form of
persecution and injury.  She informs the world that Lord Byron wrote his
Autobiography with the purpose of giving a fair statement of the exact
truth in the whole matter; and that Lady Byron bought up the manuscript
of the publisher, and insisted on its being destroyed, unread; thus
inflexibly depriving her husband of his last chance of a hearing before
the tribunal of the public.

As a result of this silent persistent cruelty on the part of a cold,
correct, narrow-minded woman, the character of Lord Byron has been
misunderstood, and his name transmitted to after-ages clouded with
aspersions and accusations which it is the object of this book to remove.

* * * * *

Such is the story of Lord Byron's mistress,--a story which is going the
length of this American continent, and rousing up new sympathy with the
poet, and doing its best to bring the youth of America once more under
the power of that brilliant, seductive genius, from which it was hoped
they had escaped.  Already we are seeing it revamped in
magazine-articles, which take up the slanders of the paramour and enlarge
on them, and wax eloquent in denunciation of the marble-hearted
insensible wife.

All this while, it does not appear to occur to the thousands of
unreflecting readers that they are listening merely to the story of Lord
Byron's mistress, and of Lord Byron; and that, even by their own showing,
their heaviest accusation against Lady Byron is that she has not spoken
at all.  Her story has never been told.

For many years after the rupture between Lord Byron and his wife, that
poet's personality, fate, and happiness had an interest for the whole
civilized world, which, we will venture to say, was unparalleled.  It is
within the writer's recollection, how, in the obscure mountain-town where
she spent her early days, Lord Byron's separation from his wife was, for
a season, the all-engrossing topic.

She remembers hearing her father recount at the breakfast-table the facts
as they were given in the public papers, together with his own
suppositions and theories of the causes.

Lord Byron's 'Fare thee well,' addressed to Lady Byron, was set to music,
and sung with tears by young school-girls, even in this distant America.

Madame de Stael said of this appeal, that she was sure it would have
drawn her at once to his heart and his arms; she could have forgiven
everything: and so said all the young ladies all over the world, not only
in England but in France and Germany, wherever Byron's poetry appeared in

Lady Byron's obdurate cold-heartedness in refusing even to listen to his
prayers, or to have any intercourse with him which might lead to
reconciliation, was the one point conceded on all sides.

The stricter moralists defended her; but gentler hearts throughout all
the world regarded her as a marble-hearted monster of correctness and
morality, a personification of the law unmitigated by the gospel.

Literature in its highest walks busied itself with Lady Byron.  Hogg, in
the character of the Ettrick Shepherd, devotes several eloquent passages
to expatiating on the conjugal fidelity of a poor Highland shepherd's
wife, who, by patience and prayer and forgiveness, succeeds in reclaiming
her drunken husband, and making a good man of him; and then points his
moral by contrasting with this touching picture the cold-hearted
pharisaical correctness of Lady Byron.

Moore, in his 'Life of Lord Byron,' when beginning the recital of the
series of disgraceful amours which formed the staple of his life in
Venice, has this passage:--

'Highly censurable in point of morality and decorum as was his course of
life while under the roof of Madame ----, it was (with pain I am forced
to confess) venial in comparison with the strange, headlong career of
licence to which, when weaned from that connection, he so unrestrainedly,
and, it may be added, defyingly abandoned himself.  Of the state of his
mind on leaving England, I have already endeavoured to convey some idea;
and among the feelings that went to make up that self-centred spirit of
resistance which he then opposed to his fate was an indignant scorn for
his own countrymen for the wrongs he thought they had done him.  For a
time, the kindly sentiments which he still harboured toward Lady Byron,
and a sort of vague hope, perhaps, that all would yet come right again,
kept his mind in a mood somewhat more softened and docile, as well as
sufficiently under the influence of English opinions to prevent his
breaking out into open rebellion against it, as he unluckily did

'By the failure of the attempted mediation with Lady Byron, his last link
with home was severed: while, notwithstanding the quiet and unobtrusive
life which he led at Geneva, there was as yet, he found, no cessation of
the slanderous warfare against his character; the same busy and
misrepresenting spirit which had tracked his every step at home, having,
with no less malicious watchfulness, dogged him into exile.'

We should like to know what the misrepresentations and slanders must have
been, when this sort of thing is admitted in Mr. Moore's justification.
It seems to us rather wonderful how anybody, unless it were a person like
the Countess Guiccioli, could misrepresent a life such as even Byron's
friend admits he was leading.

During all these years, when he was setting at defiance every principle
of morality and decorum, the interest of the female mind all over Europe
in the conversion of this brilliant prodigal son was unceasing, and
reflects the greatest credit upon the faith of the sex.

Madame de Stael commenced the first effort at evangelization immediately
after he left England, and found her catechumen in a most edifying state
of humility.  He was, metaphorically, on his knees in penitence, and
confessed himself a miserable sinner in the loveliest manner possible.
Such sweetness and humility took all hearts.  His conversations with
Madame de Stael were printed, and circulated all over the world; making
it to appear that only the inflexibility of Lady Byron stood in the way
of his entire conversion.

Lady Blessington, among many others, took him in hand five or six years
afterwards, and was greatly delighted with his docility, and edified by
his frank and free confessions of his miserable offences.  Nothing now
seemed wanting to bring the wanderer home to the fold but a kind word
from Lady Byron.  But, when the fair countess offered to mediate, the
poet only shook his head in tragic despair; 'he had so many times tried
in vain; Lady Byron's course had been from the first that of obdurate

Any one who would wish to see a specimen of the skill of the honourable
poet in mystification will do well to read a letter to Lady Byron, which
Lord Byron, on parting from Lady Blessington, enclosed for her to read
just before he went to Greece.  He says,--

'The letter which I enclose I was prevented from sending by my despair of
its doing any good.  I was perfectly sincere when I wrote it, and am so
still.  But it is difficult for me to withstand the thousand provocations
on that subject which both friends and foes have for seven years been
throwing in the way of a man whose feelings were once quick, and whose
temper was never patient.'

* * * * *


                                 'PISA, Nov. 17, 1821.

'I have to acknowledge the receipt of "Ada's hair," which is very soft
and pretty, and nearly as dark already as mine was at twelve years old,
if I may judge from what I recollect of some in Augusta's possession,
taken at that age.  But it don't curl--perhaps from its being let grow.

'I also thank you for the inscription of the date and name; and I will
tell you why: I believe that they are the only two or three words of your
handwriting in my possession.  For your letters I returned; and except
the two words, or rather the one word, "Household," written twice in an
old account book, I have no other.  I burnt your last note, for two
reasons: firstly, it was written in a style not very agreeable; and,
secondly, I wished to take your word without documents, which are the
worldly resources of suspicious people.

'I suppose that this note will reach you somewhere about Ada's
birthday--the 10th of December, I believe.  She will then be six: so
that, in about twelve more, I shall have some chance of meeting her;
perhaps sooner, if I am obliged to go to England by business or
otherwise.  Recollect, however, one thing, either in distance or
nearness--every day which keeps us asunder should, after so long a
period, rather soften our mutual feelings; which must always have one
rallying point as long as our child exists, which, I presume, we both
hope will be long after either of her parents.

'The time which has elapsed since the separation has been considerably
more than the whole brief period of our union, and the not much longer
one of our prior acquaintance.  We both made a bitter mistake; but now it
is over, and irrevocably so.  For at thirty-three on my part, and few
years less on yours, though it is no very extended period of life, still
it is one when the habits and thought are generally so formed as to admit
of no modification; and, as we could not agree when younger, we should
with difficulty do so now.

'I say all this, because I own to you, that notwithstanding everything, I
considered our reunion as not impossible for more than a year after the
separation; but then I gave up the hope entirely and for ever.  But this
very impossibility of reunion seems to me at least a reason why, on all
the few points of discussion which can arise between us, we should
preserve the courtesies of life, and as much of its kindness as people
who are never to meet may preserve,--perhaps more easily than nearer
connections.  For my own part, I am violent, but not malignant; for only
fresh provocations can awaken my resentments.  To you, who are colder and
more concentrated, I would just hint, that you may sometimes mistake the
depth of a cold anger for dignity, and a worse feeling for duty.  I
assure you that I bear you now (whatever I may have done) no resentment
whatever.  Remember, that, if you have injured me in aught, this
forgiveness is something; and that, if I have injured you, it is
something more still, if it be true, as the moralists say, that the most
offending are the least forgiving.

'Whether the offence has been solely on my side, or reciprocal, or on
yours chiefly, I have ceased to reflect upon any but two things; viz.,
that you are the mother of my child, and that we shall never meet again.
I think, if you also consider the two corresponding points with reference
to myself, it will be better for all three.

                                  'Yours ever,

                                       'NOEL BYRON.'

The artless Thomas Moore introduces this letter in the 'Life,' with the

'There are few, I should think, of my readers, who will not agree with me
in pronouncing, that, if the author of the following letter had not right
on his side, he had at least most of those good feelings which are found
in general to accompany it.'

The reader is requested to take notice of the important admission; that
the letter was never sent to Lady Byron at all.  It was, in fact, never
intended for her, but was a nice little dramatic performance, composed
simply with the view of acting on the sympathies of Lady Blessington and
Byron's numerous female admirers; and the reader will agree with us, we
think, that, in this point of view, it was very neatly done, and deserves
immortality as a work of high art.  For six years he had been plunged
into every kind of vice and excess, pleading his shattered domestic joys,
and his wife's obdurate heart, as the apology and the impelling cause;
filling the air with his shrieks and complaints concerning the slander
which pursued him, while he filled letters to his confidential
correspondents with records of new mistresses.  During all these years,
the silence of Lady Byron was unbroken; though Lord Byron not only drew
in private on the sympathies of his female admirers, but employed his
talents and position as an author in holding her up to contempt and
ridicule before thousands of readers.  We shall quote at length his side
of the story, which he published in the First Canto of 'Don Juan,' that
the reader may see how much reason he had for assuming the injured tone
which he did in the letter to Lady Byron quoted above.  That letter never
was sent to her; and the unmanly and indecent caricature of her, and the
indelicate exposure of the whole story on his own side, which we are
about to quote, were the only communications that could have reached her

In the following verses, Lady Byron is represented as Donna Inez, and
Lord Byron as Don Jose; but the incidents and allusions were so very
pointed, that nobody for a moment doubted whose history the poet was

   'His mother was a learned lady, famed
      For every branch of every science known
   In every Christian language ever named,
      With virtues equalled by her wit alone:
   She made the cleverest people quite ashamed;
      And even the good with inward envy groaned,
   Finding themselves so very much exceeded
   In their own way by all the things that she did.
   .          .          .          .
   Save that her duty both to man and God
   Required this conduct; which seemed very odd.

   She kept a journal where his faults were noted,
      And opened certain trunks of books and letters,
   (All which might, if occasion served, be quoted);
      And then she had all Seville for abettors,
   Besides her good old grandmother (who doted):
      The hearers of her case become repeaters,
   Then advocates, inquisitors, and judges,--
   Some for amusement, others for old grudges.

   And then this best and meekest woman bore
      With such serenity her husband's woes!
   Just as the Spartan ladies did of yore,
      Who saw their spouses killed, and nobly chose
   Never to say a word about them more.
      Calmly she heard each calumny that rose,
   And saw his agonies with such sublimity,
   That all the world exclaimed, "What magnanimity!"'

This is the longest and most elaborate version of his own story that
Byron ever published; but he busied himself with many others, projecting
at one time a Spanish romance, in which the same story is related in the
same transparent manner: but this he was dissuaded from printing.  The
booksellers, however, made a good speculation in publishing what they
called his domestic poems; that is, poems bearing more or less relation
to this subject.

Every person with whom he became acquainted with any degree of intimacy
was made familiar with his side of the story.  Moore's Biography is from
first to last, in its representations, founded upon Byron's
communicativeness, and Lady Byron's silence; and the world at last
settled down to believing that the account so often repeated, and never
contradicted, must be substantially a true one.

The true history of Lord and Lady Byron has long been perfectly
understood in many circles in England; but the facts were of a nature
that could not be made public.  While there was a young daughter living
whose future might be prejudiced by its recital, and while there were
other persons on whom the disclosure of the real truth would have been
crushing as an avalanche, Lady Byron's only course was the perfect
silence in which she took refuge, and those sublime works of charity and
mercy to which she consecrated her blighted early life.

But the time is now come when the truth may be told.  All the actors in
the scene have disappeared from the stage of mortal existence, and
passed, let us have faith to hope, into a world where they would desire
to expiate their faults by a late publication of the truth.

No person in England, we think, would as yet take the responsibility of
relating the true history which is to clear Lady Byron's memory; but, by
a singular concurrence of circumstances, all the facts of the case, in
the most undeniable and authentic form, were at one time placed in the
hands of the writer of this sketch, with authority to make such use of
them as she should judge best.  Had this melancholy history been allowed
to sleep, no public use would have been made of them; but the appearance
of a popular attack on the character of Lady Byron calls for a
vindication, and the true story of her married life will therefore now be

Lord Byron has described in one of his letters the impression left upon
his mind by a young person whom he met one evening in society, and who
attracted his attention by the simplicity of her dress, and a certain air
of singular purity and calmness with which she surveyed the scene around

On inquiry, he was told that this young person was Miss Milbanke, an only
child, and one of the largest heiresses in England.

Lord Byron was fond of idealising his experiences in poetry; and the
friends of Lady Byron had no difficulty in recognising the portrait of
Lady Byron, as she appeared at this time of her life, in his exquisite
description of Aurora Raby:--

                                         'There was
   Indeed a certain fair and fairy one,
      Of the best class, and better than her class,--
   Aurora Raby, a young star who shone
      O'er life, too sweet an image for such glass;
   A lovely being scarcely formed or moulded;
   A rose with all its sweetest leaves yet folded.

   .          .          .          .

   Early in years, and yet more infantine
      In figure, she had something of sublime
   In eyes which sadly shone as seraphs' shine;
      All youth, but with an aspect beyond time;
   Radiant and grave, as pitying man's decline;
   Mournful, but mournful of another's crime,
   She looked as if she sat by Eden's door,
   And grieved for those who could return no more.

   .          .          .          .

   She gazed upon a world she scarcely knew,
      As seeking not to know it; silent, lone,
   As grows a flower, thus quietly she grew,
      And kept her heart serene within its zone.
   There was awe in the homage which she drew;
      Her spirit seemed as seated on a throne,
   Apart from the surrounding world, and strong
   In its own strength,--most strange in one so young!'

Some idea of the course which their acquaintance took, and of the manner
in which he was piqued into thinking of her, is given in a stanza or

   'The dashing and proud air of Adeline
      Imposed not upon her: she saw her blaze
   Much as she would have seen a glow-worm shine;
      Then turned unto the stars for loftier rays.
   Juan was something she could not divine,
      Being no sibyl in the new world's ways;
   Yet she was nothing dazzled by the meteor,
   Because she did not pin her faith on feature.

   His fame too (for he had that kind of fame
      Which sometimes plays the deuce with womankind,--
   A heterogeneous mass of glorious blame,
      Half virtues and whole vices being combined;
   Faults which attract because they are not tame;
      Follies tricked out so brightly that they blind),--
   These seals upon her wax made no impression,
   Such was her coldness or her self-possession.

   Aurora sat with that indifference
      Which piques a preux chevalier,--as it ought.
   Of all offences, that's the worst offence
      Which seems to hint you are not worth a thought.

   .          .          .          .

   To his gay nothings, nothing was replied,
      Or something which was nothing, as urbanity
   Required.  Aurora scarcely looked aside,
      Nor even smiled enough for any vanity.
   The Devil was in the girl!  Could it be pride,
      Or modesty, or absence, or inanity?

   .          .          .          .

   Juan was drawn thus into some attentions,
      Slight but select, and just enough to express,
   To females of perspicuous comprehensions,
      That he would rather make them more than less.
   Aurora at the last (so history mentions,
      Though probably much less a fact than guess)
   So far relaxed her thoughts from their sweet prison
   As once or twice to smile, if not to listen.

   .          .          .          .

   But Juan had a sort of winning way,
      A proud humility, if such there be,
   Which showed such deference to what females say,
      As if each charming word were a decree.
   His tact, too, tempered him from grave to gay,
       And taught him when to be reserved or free.
   He had the art of drawing people out,
   Without their seeing what he was about.

   Aurora, who in her indifference,
      Confounded him in common with the crowd
   Of flatterers, though she deemed he had more sense
      Than whispering foplings or than witlings loud,
   Commenced (from such slight things will great commence)
      To feel that flattery which attracts the proud,
   Rather by deference than compliment,
   And wins even by a delicate dissent.

   And then he had good looks: that point was carried
      Nem. con. amongst the women.

   .          .          .          .

      Now, though we know of old that looks deceive,
   And always have done, somehow these good looks,
   Make more impression than the best of books.

   Aurora, who looked more on books than faces,
      Was very young, although so very sage:
   Admiring more Minerva than the Graces,
      Especially upon a printed page.
   But Virtue's self, with all her tightest laces,
      Has not the natural stays of strict old age;
   And Socrates, that model of all duty,
   Owned to a penchant, though discreet for beauty.'

The presence of this high-minded, thoughtful, unworldly woman is
described through two cantos of the wild, rattling 'Don Juan,' in a
manner that shows how deeply the poet was capable of being affected by
such an appeal to his higher nature.

For instance, when Don Juan sits silent and thoughtful amid a circle of
persons who are talking scandal, the poet says,--

   ''Tis true, he saw Aurora look as though
      She approved his silence: she perhaps mistook
   Its motive for that charity we owe,
      But seldom pay, the absent.

   .          .          .          .

   He gained esteem where it was worth the most;
      And certainly Aurora had renewed
   In him some feelings he had lately lost
      Or hardened,--feelings which, perhaps ideal,
   Are so divine that I must deem them real:--

   The love of higher things and better days;
      The unbounded hope and heavenly ignorance
   Of what is called the world and the world's ways;
      The moments when we gather from a glance
   More joy than from all future pride or praise,
      Which kindled manhood, but can ne'er entrance
   The heart in an existence of its own
   Of which another's bosom is the zone.

   And full of sentiments sublime as billows
      Heaving between this world and worlds beyond,
   Don Juan, when the midnight hour of pillows
      Arrived, retired to his.' . . .

In all these descriptions of a spiritual unworldly nature acting on the
spiritual and unworldly part of his own nature, every one who ever knew
Lady Byron intimately must have recognised the model from which he drew,
and the experience from which he spoke, even though nothing was further
from his mind than to pay this tribute to the woman he had injured, and
though before these lines, which showed how truly he knew her real
character, had come one stanza of ribald, vulgar caricature, designed as
a slight to her:--

   'There was Miss Millpond, smooth as summer's sea,
      That usual paragon, an only daughter,
   Who seemed the cream of equanimity
      'Till skimmed; and then there was some milk and water;
   With a slight shade of blue, too, it might be,
      Beneath the surface: but what did it matter?
   Love's riotous; but marriage should have quiet,
   And, being consumptive, live on a milk diet.'

The result of Byron's intimacy with Miss Milbanke and the enkindling of
his nobler feelings was an offer of marriage, which she, though at the
time deeply interested in him, declined with many expressions of
friendship and interest.  In fact, she already loved him, but had that
doubt of her power to be to him all that a wife should be, which would be
likely to arise in a mind so sensitively constituted and so unworldly.
They, however, continued a correspondence as friends; on her part, the
interest continually increased; on his, the transient rise of better
feelings was choked and overgrown by the thorns of base unworthy

From the height at which he might have been happy as the husband of a
noble woman, he fell into the depths of a secret adulterous intrigue with
a blood relation, so near in consanguinity, that discovery must have been
utter ruin and expulsion from civilised society.

From henceforth, this damning guilty secret became the ruling force in
his life; holding him with a morbid fascination, yet filling him with
remorse and anguish, and insane dread of detection.  Two years after his
refusal by Miss Milbanke, his various friends, seeing that for some cause
he was wretched, pressed marriage upon him.

Marriage has often been represented as the proper goal and terminus of a
wild and dissipated career; and it has been supposed to be the appointed
mission of good women to receive wandering prodigals, with all the rags
and disgraces of their old life upon them, and put rings on their hands,
and shoes on their feet, and introduce them, clothed and in their right
minds, to an honourable career in society.

Marriage was, therefore, universally recommended to Lord Byron by his
numerous friends and well-wishers; and so he determined to marry, and, in
an hour of reckless desperation, sat down and wrote proposals to two
ladies.  One was declined: the other, which was accepted, was to Miss
Milbanke.  The world knows well that he had the gift of expression, and
will not be surprised that he wrote a very beautiful letter, and that the
woman who had already learned to love him fell at once into the snare.

Her answer was a frank, outspoken avowal of her love for him, giving
herself to him heart and hand.  The good in Lord Byron was not so utterly
obliterated that he could receive such a letter without emotion, or
practise such unfairness on a loving, trusting heart without pangs of
remorse.  He had sent the letter in mere recklessness; he had not
seriously expected to be accepted; and the discovery of the treasure of
affection which he had secured was like a vision of lost heaven to a soul
in hell.

But, nevertheless, in his letters written about the engagement, there are
sufficient evidences that his self-love was flattered at the preference
accorded him by so superior a woman, and one who had been so much sought.
He mentions with an air of complacency that she has employed the last two
years in refusing five or six of his acquaintance; that he had no idea
she loved him, admitting that it was an old attachment on his part.  He
dwells on her virtues with a sort of pride of ownership.  There is a sort
of childish levity about the frankness of these letters, very
characteristic of the man who skimmed over the deepest abysses with the
lightest jests.  Before the world, and to his intimates, he was acting
the part of the successful fiance, conscious all the while of the deadly
secret that lay cold at the bottom of his heart.

When he went to visit Miss Milbanke's parents as her accepted lover, she
was struck with his manner and appearance: she saw him moody and gloomy,
evidently wrestling with dark and desperate thoughts, and anything but
what a happy and accepted lover should be.  She sought an interview with
him alone, and told him that she had observed that he was not happy in
the engagement; and magnanimously added, that, if on review, he found he
had been mistaken in the nature of his feelings, she would immediately
release him, and they should remain only friends.

Overcome with the conflict of his feelings, Lord Byron fainted away.  Miss
Milbanke was convinced that his heart must really be deeply involved in
an attachment with reference to which he showed such strength of emotion,
and she spoke no more of a dissolution of the engagement.

There is no reason to doubt that Byron was, as he relates in his 'Dream,'
profoundly agonized and agitated when he stood before God's altar with
the trusting young creature whom he was leading to a fate so awfully
tragic; yet it was not the memory of Mary Chaworth, but another guiltier
and more damning memory, that overshadowed that hour.

The moment the carriage-doors were shut upon the bridegroom and the
bride, the paroxysm of remorse and despair--unrepentant remorse and angry
despair--broke forth upon her gentle head:--

'You might have saved me from this, madam!  You had all in your own power
when I offered myself to you first.  Then you might have made me what you
pleased; but now you will find that you have married a devil!'

In Miss Martineau's Sketches, recently published, is an account of the
termination of this wedding-journey, which brought them to one of Lady
Byron's ancestral country seats, where they were to spend the honeymoon.

Miss Martineau says,--

'At the altar she did not know that she was a sacrifice; but before
sunset of that winter day she knew it, if a judgment may be formed from
her face, and attitude of despair, when she alighted from the carriage on
the afternoon of her marriage-day.  It was not the traces of tears which
won the sympathy of the old butler who stood at the open door.  The
bridegroom jumped out of the carriage and walked away.  The bride
alighted, and came up the steps alone, with a countenance and frame
agonized and listless with evident horror and despair.  The old servant
longed to offer his arm to the young, lonely creature, as an assurance of
sympathy and protection.  From this shock she certainly rallied, and
soon.  The pecuniary difficulties of her new home were exactly what a
devoted spirit like hers was fitted to encounter.  Her husband bore
testimony, after the catastrophe, that a brighter being, a more
sympathising and agreeable companion, never blessed any man's home.  When
he afterwards called her cold and mathematical, and over-pious, and so
forth, it was when public opinion had gone against him, and when he had
discovered that her fidelity and mercy, her silence and magnanimity,
might be relied on, so that he was at full liberty to make his part good,
as far as she was concerned.

'Silent she was even to her own parents, whose feelings she magnanimously
spared.  She did not act rashly in leaving him, though she had been most
rash in marrying him.'

Not all at once did the full knowledge of the dreadful reality into which
she had entered come upon the young wife.  She knew vaguely, from the
wild avowals of the first hours of their marriage, that there was a
dreadful secret of guilt; that Byron's soul was torn with agonies of
remorse, and that he had no love to give to her in return for a love
which was ready to do and dare all for him.  Yet bravely she addressed
herself to the task of soothing and pleasing and calming the man whom she
had taken 'for better or for worse.'

Young and gifted; with a peculiar air of refined and spiritual beauty;
graceful in every movement; possessed of exquisite taste; a perfect
companion to his mind in all the higher walks of literary culture; and
with that infinite pliability to all his varying, capricious moods which
true love alone can give; bearing in her hand a princely fortune, which,
with a woman's uncalculating generosity, was thrown at his feet,--there
is no wonder that she might feel for a while as if she could enter the
lists with the very Devil himself, and fight with a woman's weapons for
the heart of her husband.

There are indications scattered through the letters of Lord Byron, which,
though brief indeed, showed that his young wife was making every effort
to accommodate herself to him, and to give him a cheerful home.  One of
the poems that he sends to his publisher about this time, he speaks of as
being copied by her.  He had always the highest regard for her literary
judgments and opinions; and this little incident shows that she was
already associating herself in a wifely fashion with his aims as an

The poem copied by her, however, has a sad meaning, which she afterwards
learned to understand only too well:--

   'There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes away
   When the glow of early thought declines in feeling's dull decay:
   'Tis not on youth's smooth cheek the blush alone that fades so fast;
   But the tender bloom of heart is gone e'er youth itself be past.
   Then the few whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness
   Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt, or ocean of excess:
   The magnet of their course is gone, or only points in vain
   The shore to which their shivered sail shall never stretch again.'

Only a few days before she left him for ever, Lord Byron sent Murray
manuscripts, in Lady Byron's handwriting, of the 'Siege of Corinth,' and
'Parisina,' and wrote,--

'I am very glad that the handwriting was a favourable omen of the morale
of the piece: but you must not trust to that; for my copyist would write
out anything I desired, in all the ignorance of innocence.'

There were lucid intervals in which Lord Byron felt the charm of his
wife's mind, and the strength of her powers.  'Bell, you could be a poet
too, if you only thought so,' he would say.  There were summer-hours in
her stormy life, the memory of which never left her, when Byron was as
gentle and tender as he was beautiful; when he seemed to be possessed by
a good angel: and then for a little time all the ideal possibilities of
his nature stood revealed.

The most dreadful men to live with are those who thus alternate between
angel and devil.  The buds of hope and love called out by a day or two of
sunshine are frozen again and again, till the tree is killed.

But there came an hour of revelation,--an hour when, in a manner which
left no kind of room for doubt, Lady Byron saw the full depth of the
abyss of infamy which her marriage was expected to cover, and understood
that she was expected to be the cloak and the accomplice of this infamy.

Many women would have been utterly crushed by such a disclosure; some
would have fled from him immediately, and exposed and denounced the
crime.  Lady Byron did neither.  When all the hope of womanhood died out
of her heart, there arose within her, stronger, purer, and brighter, that
immortal kind of love such as God feels for the sinner,--the love of
which Jesus spoke, and which holds the one wanderer of more account than
the ninety and nine that went not astray.  She would neither leave her
husband nor betray him, nor yet would she for one moment justify his sin;
and hence came two years of convulsive struggle, in which sometimes, for
a while, the good angel seemed to gain ground, and then the evil one
returned with sevenfold vehemence.

Lord Byron argued his case with himself and with her with all the
sophistries of his powerful mind.  He repudiated Christianity as
authority; asserted the right of every human being to follow out what he
called 'the impulses of nature.'  Subsequently he introduced into one of
his dramas the reasoning by which he justified himself in incest.

In the drama of 'Cain,' Adah, the sister and the wife of Cain, thus
addresses him:--

      'Cain, walk not with this spirit.
   Bear with what we have borne, and love me: I
   Love thee.

   Lucifer.  More than thy mother and thy sire?

   Adah.  I do.  Is that a sin, too?

   Lucifer.                        No, not yet:
   It one day will be in your children.

   Adah.                           What!
   Must not my daughter love her brother Enoch?

   Lucifer.  Not as thou lovest Cain.

   Adah.                           O my God!
   Shall they not love, and bring forth things that love
   Out of their love?  Have they not drawn their milk
   Out of this bosom?  Was not he, their father,
   Born of the same sole womb, in the same hour
   With me?  Did we not love each other, and,
   In multiplying our being, multiply
   Things which will love each other as we love
   Them?  And as I love thee, my Cain, go not
   Forth with this spirit: he is not of ours.

   Lucifer.  The sin I speak of is not of my making
   And cannot be a sin in you, whate'er
   It seems in those who will replace ye in

   Adah.  What is the sin which is not
   Sin in itself?  Can circumstance make sin
   Of virtue?  If it doth, we are the slaves

Lady Byron, though slight and almost infantine in her bodily presence,
had the soul, not only of an angelic woman, but of a strong reasoning
man.  It was the writer's lot to know her at a period when she formed the
personal acquaintance of many of the very first minds of England; but,
among all with whom this experience brought her in connection, there was
none who impressed her so strongly as Lady Byron.  There was an almost
supernatural power of moral divination, a grasp of the very highest and
most comprehensive things, that made her lightest opinions singularly
impressive.  No doubt, this result was wrought out in a great degree from
the anguish and conflict of these two years, when, with no one to help or
counsel her but Almighty God, she wrestled and struggled with fiends of
darkness for the redemption of her husband's soul.

She followed him through all his sophistical reasonings with a keener
reason.  She besought and implored, in the name of his better nature, and
by all the glorious things that he was capable of being and doing; and
she had just power enough to convulse and shake and agonise, but not
power enough to subdue.

One of the first of living writers, in the novel of 'Romola,' has given,
in her masterly sketch of the character of Tito, the whole history of the
conflict of a woman like Lady Byron with a nature like that of her
husband.  She has described a being full of fascinations and sweetnesses,
full of generosities and of good-natured impulses; a nature that could
not bear to give pain, or to see it in others, but entirely destitute of
any firm moral principle; she shows how such a being, merely by yielding
step by step to the impulses of passion, and disregarding the claims of
truth and right, becomes involved in a fatality of evil, in which deceit,
crime, and cruelty are a necessity, forcing him to persist in the basest
ingratitude to the father who has done all for him, and hard-hearted
treachery to the high-minded wife who has given herself to him wholly.

There are few scenes in literature more fearfully tragic than the one
between Romola and Tito, when he finally discovers that she knows him
fully, and can be deceived by him no more.  Some such hour always must
come for strong decided natures irrevocably pledged--one to the service
of good, and the other to the slavery of evil.  The demoniac cried out,
'What have I to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth?  Art thou come to
torment me before the time?'  The presence of all-pitying purity and love
was a torture to the soul possessed by the demon of evil.

These two years in which Lady Byron was with all her soul struggling to
bring her husband back to his better self were a series of passionate

During this time, such was the disordered and desperate state of his
worldly affairs, that there were ten executions for debt levied on their
family establishment; and it was Lady Byron's fortune each time which
settled the account.

Toward the last, she and her husband saw less and less of each other; and
he came more and more decidedly under evil influences, and seemed to
acquire a sort of hatred of her.

Lady Byron once said significantly to a friend who spoke of some
causeless dislike in another, 'My dear, I have known people to be hated
for no other reason than because they impersonated conscience.'

The biographers of Lord Byron, and all his apologists, are careful to
narrate how sweet and amiable and obliging he was to everybody who
approached him; and the saying of Fletcher, his man-servant, that
'anybody could do anything with my Lord, except my Lady,' has often been

The reason of all this will now be evident.  'My Lady' was the only one,
fully understanding the deep and dreadful secrets of his life, who had
the courage resolutely and persistently and inflexibly to plant herself
in his way, and insist upon it, that, if he went to destruction, it
should be in spite of her best efforts.

He had tried his strength with her fully.  The first attempt had been to
make her an accomplice by sophistry; by destroying her faith in
Christianity, and confusing her sense of right and wrong, to bring her
into the ranks of those convenient women who regard the marriage-tie only
as a friendly alliance to cover licence on both sides.

When her husband described to her the Continental latitude (the
good-humoured marriage, in which complaisant couples mutually agreed to
form the cloak for each other's infidelities), and gave her to understand
that in this way alone she could have a peaceful and friendly life with
him, she answered him simply, 'I am too truly your friend to do this.'

When Lord Byron found that he had to do with one who would not yield, who
knew him fully, who could not be blinded and could not be deceived, he
determined to rid himself of her altogether.

It was when the state of affairs between herself and her husband seemed
darkest and most hopeless, that the only child of this union was born.
Lord Byron's treatment of his wife during the sensitive period that
preceded the birth of this child, and during her confinement, was marked
by paroxysms of unmanly brutality, for which the only possible charity on
her part was the supposition of insanity.  Moore sheds a significant
light on this period, by telling us that, about this time, Byron was
often drunk, day after day, with Sheridan.  There had been insanity in
the family; and this was the plea which Lady Byron's love put in for him.
She regarded him as, if not insane, at least so nearly approaching the
boundaries of insanity as to be a subject of forbearance and tender pity;
and she loved him with that love resembling a mother's, which good wives
often feel when they have lost all faith in their husband's principles,
and all hopes of their affections.  Still, she was in heart and soul his
best friend; true to him with a truth which he himself could not shake.

In the verses addressed to his daughter, Lord Byron speaks of her as

   'The child of love, though born in bitterness,
   And nurtured in convulsion.'

A day or two after the birth of this child, Lord Byron came suddenly into
Lady Byron's room, and told her that her mother was dead.  It was an
utter falsehood; but it was only one of the many nameless injuries and
cruelties by which he expressed his hatred of her.  A short time after
her confinement, she was informed by him, in a note, that, as soon as she
was able to travel, she must go; that he could not and would not longer
have her about him; and, when her child was only five weeks old, he
carried this threat of expulsion into effect.

Here we will insert briefly Lady Byron's own account (the only one she
ever gave to the public) of this separation.  The circumstances under
which this brief story was written are affecting.

Lord Byron was dead.  The whole account between him and her was closed
for ever in this world.  Moore's 'Life' had been prepared, containing
simply and solely Lord Byron's own version of their story.  Moore sent
this version to Lady Byron, and requested to know if she had any remarks
to make upon it.  In reply, she sent a brief statement to him,--the first
and only one that had come from her during all the years of the
separation, and which appears to have mainly for its object the
exculpation of her father and mother from the charge, made by the poet,
of being the instigators of the separation.

In this letter, she says, with regard to their separation,--

'The facts are, I left London for Kirkby Mallory, the residence of my
father and mother, on the 15th of January, 1816.  LORD BYRON HAD
not safe for me to undertake the fatigue of a journey sooner than the
15th.  Previously to my departure, it had been strongly impressed upon my
mind that Lord Byron was under the influence of insanity.  This opinion
was derived, in a great measure, from the communications made me by his
nearest relatives and personal attendant, who had more opportunity than
myself for observing him during the latter part of my stay in town.  It
was even represented to me that he was in danger of destroying himself.

'With the concurrence of his family, I had consulted Dr. Baillie as a
friend (Jan. 8) respecting the supposed malady.  On acquainting him with
the state of the case, and with Lord Byron's desire that I should leave
London, Dr. Baillie thought that my absence might be advisable as an
experiment, assuming the fact of mental derangement; for Dr. Baillie, not
having had access to Lord Byron, could not pronounce a positive opinion
on that point.  He enjoined that, in correspondence with Lord Byron, I
should avoid all but light and soothing topics.  Under these impressions,
I left London, determined to follow the advice given by Dr. Baillie.
Whatever might have been the conduct of Lord Byron toward me from the
time of my marriage, yet, supposing him to be in a state of mental
alienation, it was not for me, nor for any person of common humanity, to
manifest at that moment a sense of injury.'

Nothing more than this letter from Lady Byron is necessary to
substantiate the fact, that she did not leave her husband, but was driven
from him,--driven from him that he might give himself up to the guilty
infatuation that was consuming him, without being tortured by her
imploring face, and by the silent power of her presence and her prayers.

For a long time before this, she had seen little of him.  On the day of
her departure, she passed by the door of his room, and stopped to caress
his favourite spaniel, which was lying there; and she confessed to a
friend the weakness of feeling a willingness even to be something as
humble as that poor little creature, might she only be allowed to remain
and watch over him.  She went into the room where he and the partner of
his sins were sitting together, and said, 'Byron, I come to say goodbye,'
offering, at the same time, her hand.

Lord Byron put his hands behind him, retreated to the mantel-piece, and,
looking on the two that stood there, with a sarcastic smile said, 'When
shall we three meet again?'  Lady Byron answered, 'In heaven, I trust'.
And those were her last words to him on earth.

Now, if the reader wishes to understand the real talents of Lord Byron
for deception and dissimulation, let him read, with this story in his
mind, the 'Fare thee well,' which he addressed to Lady Byron through the

   'Fare thee well; and if for ever,
      Still for ever fare thee well!
   Even though unforgiving, never
      'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.

   Would that breast were bared before thee
      Where thy head so oft hath lain,
   While that placid sleep came o'er thee
      Thou canst never know again!

   Though my many faults defaced me,
      Could no other arm be found
   Than the one which once embraced me
      To inflict a careless wound?'

The re-action of society against him at the time of the separation from
his wife was something which he had not expected, and for which, it
appears, he was entirely unprepared.  It broke up the guilty intrigue and
drove him from England.  He had not courage to meet or endure it.  The
world, to be sure, was very far from suspecting what the truth was: but
the tide was setting against him with such vehemence as to make him
tremble every hour lest the whole should be known; and henceforth, it
became a warfare of desperation to make his story good, no matter at
whose expense.

He had tact enough to perceive at first that the assumption of the
pathetic and the magnanimous, and general confessions of faults,
accompanied with admissions of his wife's goodness, would be the best
policy in his case.  In this mood, he thus writes to Moore:--

'The fault was not in my choice (unless in choosing at all); for I do not
believe (and I must say it in the very dregs of all this bitter business)
that there ever was a better, or even a brighter, a kinder, or a more
amiable, agreeable being than Lady Byron.  I never had, nor can have, any
reproach to make her while with me.  Where there is blame, it belongs to

As there must be somewhere a scapegoat to bear the sin of the affair,
Lord Byron wrote a poem called 'A Sketch,' in which he lays the blame of
stirring up strife on a friend and former governess of Lady Byron's; but
in this sketch he introduces the following just eulogy on Lady Byron:--

      'Foiled was perversion by that youthful mind
   Which flattery fooled not, baseness could not blind,
   Deceit infect not, near contagion soil,
   Indulgence weaken, nor example spoil,
   Nor mastered science tempt her to look down
   On humbler talents with a pitying frown,
   Nor genius swell, nor beauty render vain,
   Nor envy ruffle to retaliate pain,
   Nor fortune change, pride raise, nor passion bow,
   Nor virtue teach austerity,--till now;
   Serenely purest of her sex that live,
   But wanting one sweet weakness,--to forgive;
   Too shocked at faults her soul can never know,
   She deemed that all could be like her below:
   Foe to all vice, yet hardly Virtue's friend;
   For Virtue pardons those she would amend.'

In leaving England, Lord Byron first went to Switzerland, where he
conceived and in part wrote out the tragedy of 'Manfred.'  Moore speaks
of his domestic misfortunes, and the sufferings which he underwent at
this time, as having influence in stimulating his genius, so that he was
enabled to write with a greater power.

Anybody who reads the tragedy of 'Manfred' with this story in his mind
will see that it is true.

The hero is represented as a gloomy misanthrope, dwelling with impenitent
remorse on the memory of an incestuous passion which has been the
destruction of his sister for this life and the life to come, but which,
to the very last gasp, he despairingly refuses to repent of, even while
he sees the fiends of darkness rising to take possession of his departing
soul.  That Byron knew his own guilt well, and judged himself severely,
may be gathered from passages in this poem, which are as powerful as
human language can be made; for instance this part of the 'incantation,'
which Moore says was written at this time:--

   'Though thy slumber may be deep,
   Yet thy spirit shall not sleep:
   There are shades which will not vanish;
   There are thoughts thou canst not banish.
   By a power to thee unknown,
   Thou canst never be alone:
   Thou art wrapt as with a shroud;
   Thou art gathered in a cloud;
   And for ever shalt thou dwell
   In the spirit of this spell.

                .          .          .          .

   From thy false tears I did distil
   An essence which had strength to kill;
   From thy own heart I then did wring
   The black blood in its blackest spring;
   From thy own smile I snatched the snake,
   For there it coiled as in a brake;
   From thy own lips I drew the charm
   Which gave all these their chiefest harm:
   In proving every poison known,
   I found the strongest was thine own.

   By thy cold breast and serpent smile,
   By thy unfathomed gulfs of guile,
   By that most seeming virtuous eye,
   By thy shut soul's hypocrisy,
   By the perfection of thine art
   Which passed for human thine own heart,
   By thy delight in other's pain,
   And by thy brotherhood of Cain,
   I call upon thee, and compel
   Thyself to be thy proper hell!'

Again: he represents Manfred as saying to the old abbot, who seeks to
bring him to repentance,--

   'Old man, there is no power in holy men,
   Nor charm in prayer, nor purifying form
   Of penitence, nor outward look, nor fast,
   Nor agony, nor greater than all these,
   The innate tortures of that deep despair,
   Which is remorse without the fear of hell,
   But, all in all sufficient to itself,
   Would make a hell of heaven, can exorcise
   From out the unbounded spirit the quick sense
   Of its own sins, wrongs, sufferance, and revenge
   Upon itself: there is no future pang
   Can deal that justice on the self-condemned
   He deals on his own soul.'

And when the abbot tells him,

      'All this is well;
   For this will pass away, and be succeeded
   By an auspicious hope, which shall look up
   With calm assurance to that blessed place
   Which all who seek may win, whatever be
   Their earthly errors,'

he answers,

   'It is too late.'

Then the old abbot soliloquises:--

   'This should have been a noble creature: he
   Hath all the energy which would have made
   A goodly frame of glorious elements,
   Had they been wisely mingled; as it is,
   It is an awful chaos,--light and darkness,
   And mind and dust, and passions and pure thoughts,
   Mixed, and contending without end or order.'

The world can easily see, in Moore's Biography, what, after this, was the
course of Lord Byron's life; how he went from shame to shame, and
dishonour to dishonour, and used the fortune which his wife brought him
in the manner described in those private letters which his biographer was
left to print.  Moore, indeed, says Byron had made the resolution not to
touch his lady's fortune; but adds, that it required more self-command
than he possessed to carry out so honourable a purpose.

Lady Byron made but one condition with him.  She had him in her power;
and she exacted that the unhappy partner of his sins should not follow
him out of England, and that the ruinous intrigue should be given up.  Her
inflexibility on this point kept up that enmity which was constantly
expressing itself in some publication or other, and which drew her and
her private relations with him before the public.

The story of what Lady Byron did with the portion of her fortune which
was reserved to her is a record of noble and skilfully administered
charities.  Pitiful and wise and strong, there was no form of human
suffering or sorrow that did not find with her refuge and help.  She gave
not only systematically, but also impulsively.

Miss Martineau claims for her the honour of having first invented
practical schools, in which the children of the poor were turned into
agriculturists, artizans, seamstresses, and good wives for poor men.
While she managed with admirable skill and economy permanent institutions
of this sort, she was always ready to relieve suffering in any form.  The
fugitive slaves William and Ellen Crafts, escaping to England, were
fostered by her protecting care.

In many cases where there was distress or anxiety from poverty among
those too self-respecting to make their sufferings known, the delicate
hand of Lady Byron ministered to the want with a consideration which
spared the most refined feelings.

As a mother, her course was embarrassed by peculiar trials.  The daughter
inherited from the father not only brilliant talents, but a restlessness
and morbid sensibility which might be too surely traced to the storms and
agitations of the period in which she was born.  It was necessary to
bring her up in ignorance of the true history of her mother's life; and
the consequence was that she could not fully understand that mother.

During her early girlhood, her career was a source of more anxiety than
of comfort.  She married a man of fashion, ran a brilliant course as a
gay woman of fashion, and died early of a lingering and painful disease.

In the silence and shaded retirement of the sick-room, the daughter came
wholly back to her mother's arms and heart; and it was on that mother's
bosom that she leaned as she went down into the dark valley.  It was that
mother who placed her weak and dying hand in that of her Almighty

To the children left by her daughter, she ministered with the
faithfulness of a guardian angel; and it is owing to her influence that
those who yet remain are among the best and noblest of mankind.

The person whose relations with Byron had been so disastrous, also, in
the latter years of her life, felt Lady Byron's loving and ennobling
influences, and, in her last sickness and dying hours, looked to her for
consolation and help.

There was an unfortunate child of sin, born with the curse upon her, over
whose wayward nature Lady Byron watched with a mother's tenderness.  She
was the one who could have patience when the patience of every one else
failed; and though her task was a difficult one, from the strange
abnormal propensities to evil in the object of her cares, yet Lady Byron
never faltered, and never gave over, till death took the responsibility
from her hands.

During all this trial, strange to say, her belief that the good in Lord
Byron would finally conquer was unshaken.

To a friend who said to her, 'Oh! how could you love him?' she answered
briefly, 'My dear, there was the angel in him.'  It is in us all.

It was in this angel that she had faith.  It was for the deliverance of
this angel from degradation and shame and sin that she unceasingly
prayed.  She read every work that Byron wrote--read it with a deeper
knowledge than any human being but herself could possess.  The ribaldry
and the obscenity and the insults with which he strove to make her
ridiculous in the world fell at her pitying feet unheeded.

When he broke away from all this unworthy life to devote himself to a
manly enterprise for the redemption of Greece, she thought that she saw
the beginning of an answer to her prayers.  Even although one of his
latest acts concerning her was to repeat to Lady Blessington the false
accusation which made Lady Byron the author of all his errors, she still
had hopes from the one step taken in the right direction.

In the midst of these hopes came the news of his sudden death.  On his
death-bed, it is well-known that he called his confidential English
servant to him, and said to him, 'Go to my sister; tell her--Go to Lady
Byron,--you will see her,--and say'--

Here followed twenty minutes of indistinct mutterings, in which the names
of his wife, daughter, and sister, frequently occurred.  He then said,
'Now I have told you all.'

'My lord,' replied Fletcher, 'I have not understood a word your lordship
has been saying.'

'Not understand me!' exclaimed Lord Byron with a look of the utmost
distress: 'what a pity!  Then it is too late,--all is over!'  He
afterwards, says Moore, tried to utter a few words, of which none were
intelligible except 'My sister--my child.'

When Fletcher returned to London, Lady Byron sent for him, and walked the
room in convulsive struggles to repress her tears and sobs, while she
over and over again strove to elicit something from him which should
enlighten her upon what that last message had been; but in vain: the
gates of eternity were shut in her face, and not a word had passed to
tell her if he had repented.

For all that, Lady Byron never doubted his salvation.  Ever before her,
during the few remaining years of her widowhood, was the image of her
husband, purified and ennobled, with the shadows of earth for ever
dissipated, the stains of sin for ever removed; 'the angel in him,' as
she expressed it, 'made perfect, according to its divine ideal.'

Never has more divine strength of faith and love existed in woman.  Out
of the depths of her own loving and merciful nature, she gained such
views of the divine love and mercy as made all hopes possible.  There was
no soul of whose future Lady Byron despaired,--such was her boundless
faith in the redeeming power of love.

After Byron's death, the life of this delicate creature--so frail in body
that she seemed always hovering on the brink of the eternal world, yet so
strong in spirit, and so unceasing in her various ministries of mercy--was
a miracle of mingled weakness and strength.

To talk with her seemed to the writer of this sketch the nearest possible
approach to talking with one of the spirits of the just made perfect.

She was gentle, artless; approachable as a little child; with ready,
outflowing sympathy for the cares and sorrows and interests of all who
approached her; with a naive and gentle playfulness, that adorned,
without hiding, the breadth and strength of her mind; and, above all,
with a clear, divining, moral discrimination; never mistaking wrong for
right in the slightest shade, yet with a mercifulness that made allowance
for every weakness, and pitied every sin.

There was so much of Christ in her, that to have seen her seemed to be to
have drawn near to heaven.  She was one of those few whom absence cannot
estrange from friends; whose mere presence in this world seems always a
help to every generous thought, a strength to every good purpose, a
comfort in every sorrow.

Living so near the confines of the spiritual world, she seemed already to
see into it: hence the words of comfort which she addressed to a friend
who had lost a son:--

'Dear friend, remember, as long as our loved ones are in God's world,
they are in ours.'

* * * * *

It has been thought by some friends who have read the proof-sheets of the
foregoing that the author should give more specifically her authority for
these statements.

The circumstances which led the writer to England at a certain time
originated a friendship and correspondence with Lady Byron, which was
always regarded as one of the greatest acquisitions of that visit.

On the occasion of a second visit to England, in 1856, the writer
received a note from Lady Byron, indicating that she wished to have some
private, confidential conversation upon important subjects, and inviting
her, for that purpose, to spend a day with her at her country-seat near

The writer went and spent a day with Lady Byron alone; and the object of
the invitation was explained to her.  Lady Byron was in such a state of
health, that her physicians had warned her that she had very little time
to live.  She was engaged in those duties and retrospections which every
thoughtful person finds necessary, when coming deliberately, and with
open eyes, to the boundaries of this mortal life.

At that time, there was a cheap edition of Byron's works in
contemplation, intended to bring his writings into circulation among the
masses; and the pathos arising from the story of his domestic misfortunes
was one great means relied on for giving it currency.

Under these circumstances, some of Lady Byron's friends had proposed the
question to her, whether she had not a responsibility to society for the
truth; whether she did right to allow these writings to gain influence
over the popular mind by giving a silent consent to what she knew to be
utter falsehoods.

Lady Byron's whole life had been passed in the most heroic
self-abnegation and self-sacrifice: and she had now to consider whether
one more act of self-denial was not required of her before leaving this
world; namely, to declare the absolute truth, no matter at what expense
to her own feelings.

For this reason, it was her desire to recount the whole history to a
person of another country, and entirely out of the sphere of personal and
local feelings which might be supposed to influence those in the country
and station in life where the events really happened, in order that she
might be helped by such a person's views in making up an opinion as to
her own duty.

The interview had almost the solemnity of a death-bed avowal.  Lady Byron
stated the facts which have been embodied in this article, and gave to
the writer a paper containing a brief memorandum of the whole, with the
dates affixed.

We have already spoken of that singular sense of the reality of the
spiritual world which seemed to encompass Lady Byron during the last part
of her life, and which made her words and actions seem more like those of
a blessed being detached from earth than of an ordinary mortal.  All her
modes of looking at things, all her motives of action, all her
involuntary exhibitions of emotion, were so high above any common level,
and so entirely regulated by the most unworldly causes, that it would
seem difficult to make the ordinary world understand exactly how the
thing seemed to lie before her mind.  What impressed the writer more
strongly than anything else was Lady Byron's perfect conviction that her
husband was now a redeemed spirit; that he looked back with pain and
shame and regret on all that was unworthy in his past life; and that, if
he could speak or could act in the case, he would desire to prevent the
further circulation of base falsehoods, and of seductive poetry, which
had been made the vehicle of morbid and unworthy passions.

Lady Byron's experience had led her to apply the powers of her strong
philosophical mind to the study of mental pathology: and she had become
satisfied that the solution of the painful problem which first occurred
to her as a young wife, was, after all, the true one; namely, that Lord
Byron had been one of those unfortunately constituted persons in whom the
balance of nature is so critically hung, that it is always in danger of
dipping towards insanity; and that, in certain periods of his life, he
was so far under the influence of mental disorder as not to be fully
responsible for his actions.

She went over with a brief and clear analysis the history of his whole
life as she had thought it out during the lonely musings of her
widowhood.  She dwelt on the ancestral causes that gave him a nature of
exceptional and dangerous susceptibility.  She went through the
mismanagements of his childhood, the history of his school-days, the
influence of the ordinary school-course of classical reading on such a
mind as his.  She sketched boldly and clearly the internal life of the
young men of the time, as she, with her purer eyes, had looked through
it; and showed how habits, which, with less susceptible fibre, and
coarser strength of nature, were tolerable for his companions, were
deadly to him, unhinging his nervous system, and intensifying the dangers
of ancestral proclivities.  Lady Byron expressed the feeling too, that
the Calvinistic theology, as heard in Scotland, had proved in his case,
as it often does in certain minds, a subtle poison.  He never could
either disbelieve or become reconciled to it; and the sore problems it
proposes embittered his spirit against Christianity.

'The worst of it is, I do believe,' he would often say with violence,
when he had been employing all his powers of reason, wit, and ridicule
upon these subjects.

Through all this sorrowful history was to be seen, not the care of a
slandered woman to make her story good, but the pathetic anxiety of a
mother, who treasures every particle of hope, every intimation of good,
in the son whom she cannot cease to love.  With indescribable
resignation, she dwelt on those last hours, those words addressed to her,
never to be understood till repeated in eternity.

But all this she looked upon as for ever past; believing, that, with the
dropping of the earthly life, these morbid impulses and influences
ceased, and that higher nature which he often so beautifully expressed in
his poems became the triumphant one.

While speaking on this subject, her pale ethereal face became luminous
with a heavenly radiance; there was something so sublime in her belief in
the victory of love over evil, that faith with her seemed to have become
sight.  She seemed so clearly to perceive the divine ideal of the man she
had loved, and for whose salvation she had been called to suffer and
labour and pray, that all memories of his past unworthiness fell away,
and were lost.

Her love was never the doting fondness of weak women; it was the
appreciative and discriminating love by which a higher nature recognised
god-like capabilities under all the dust and defilement of misuse and
passion: and she never doubted that the love which in her was so strong,
that no injury or insult could shake it, was yet stronger in the God who
made her capable of such a devotion, and that in him it was accompanied
by power to subdue all things to itself.

The writer was so impressed and excited by the whole scene and recital,
that she begged for two or three days to deliberate before forming any
opinion.  She took the memorandum with her, returned to London, and gave
a day or two to the consideration of the subject.  The decision which she
made was chiefly influenced by her reverence and affection for Lady
Byron.  She seemed so frail, she had suffered so much, she stood at such
a height above the comprehension of the coarse and common world, that the
author had a feeling that it would almost be like violating a shrine to
ask her to come forth from the sanctuary of a silence where she had so
long abode, and plead her cause.  She wrote to Lady Byron, that while
this act of justice did seem to be called for, and to be in some respects
most desirable, yet, as it would involve so much that was painful to her,
the writer considered that Lady Byron would be entirely justifiable in
leaving the truth to be disclosed after her death; and recommended that
all the facts necessary should be put in the hands of some person, to be
so published.

Years passed on.  Lady Byron lingered four years after this interview, to
the wonder of her physicians and all her friends.

After Lady Byron's death, the writer looked anxiously, hoping to see a
Memoir of the person whom she considered the most remarkable woman that
England has produced in the century.  No such Memoir has appeared on the
part of her friends; and the mistress of Lord Byron has the ear of the
public, and is sowing far and wide unworthy slanders, which are eagerly
gathered up and read by an undiscriminating community.

There may be family reasons in England which prevent Lady Byron's friends
from speaking.  But Lady Byron has an American name and an American
existence; and reverence for pure womanhood is, we think, a national
characteristic of the American; and, so far as this country is concerned,
we feel that the public should have this refutation of the slanders of
the Countess Guiccioli's book.


SIR,--I have waited in expectation of a categorical denial of the
horrible charge brought by Mrs. Beecher Stowe against Lord Byron and his
sister on the alleged authority of the late Lady Byron.  Such denial has
been only indirectly given by the letter of Messrs. Wharton and Fords in
your impression of yesterday.  That letter is sufficient to prove that
Lady Byron never contemplated the use made of her name, and that her
descendants and representatives disclaim any countenance of Mrs. B.
Stowe's article; but it does not specifically meet Mrs. Stowe's
allegation, that Lady Byron, in conversing with her thirteen years ago,
affirmed the charge now before us.  It remains open, therefore, to a
scandal-loving world, to credit the calumny through the advantage of this
flaw, involuntary, I believe, in the answer produced against it.  My
object in addressing you is to supply that deficiency by proving that
what is now stated on Lady Byron's supposed authority is at variance, in
all respects, with what she stated immediately after the separation, when
everything was fresh in her memory in relation to the time during which,
according to Mrs. B. Stowe, she believed that Byron and his sister were
living together in guilt.  I publish this evidence with reluctance, but
in obedience to that higher obligation of justice to the voiceless and
defenceless dead which bids me break through a reserve that otherwise I
should have held sacred.  The Lady Byron of 1818 would, I am certain,
have sanctioned my doing so, had she foreseen the present unparalleled
occasion, and the bar that the conditions of her will present (as I infer
from Messrs Wharton and Fords' letter) against any fuller communication.
Calumnies such as the present sink deep and with rapidity into the public
mind, and are not easily eradicated.  The fame of one of our greatest
poets, and that of the kindest and truest and most constant friend that
Byron ever had, is at stake; and it will not do to wait for revelations
from the fountain-head, which are not promised, and possibly may never
reach us.

The late Lady Anne Barnard, who died in 1825, a contemporary and friend
of Burke, Windham, Dundas, and a host of the wise and good of that
generation, and remembered in letters as the authoress of 'Auld Robin
Gray,' had known the late Lady Byron from infancy, and took a warm
interest in her; holding Lord Byron in corresponding repugnance, not to
say prejudice, in consequence of what she believed to be his harsh and
cruel treatment of her young friend.  I transcribe the following
passages, and a letter from Lady Byron herself (written in 1818) from
ricordi, or private family memoirs, in Lady Anne's autograph, now before
me.  I include the letter, because, although treating only in general
terms of the matter and causes of the separation, it affords collateral
evidence bearing strictly upon the point of the credibility of the charge
now in question:--

'The separation of Lord and Lady Byron astonished the world, which
believed him a reformed man as to his habits, and a becalmed man as to
his remorses.  He had written nothing that appeared after his marriage
till the famous "Fare thee well," which had the power of compelling those
to pity the writer who were not well aware that he was not the unhappy
person he affected to be.  Lady Byron's misery was whispered soon after
her marriage and his ill usage, but no word transpired, no sign escaped,
from her.  She gave birth, shortly, to a daughter; and when she went, as
soon as she was recovered, on a visit to her father's, taking her little
Ada with her, no one knew that it was to return to her lord no more.  At
that period, a severe fit of illness had confined me to bed for two
months.  I heard of Lady Byron's distress; of the pains he took to give a
harsh impression of her character to the world.  I wrote to her, and
entreated her to come and let me see and hear her, if she conceived my
sympathy or counsel could be any comfort to her.  She came; but what a
tale was unfolded by this interesting young creature, who had so fondly
hoped to have made a young man of genius and romance (as she supposed)
happy!  They had not been an hour in the carriage which conveyed them
from the church, when, breaking into a malignant sneer, "Oh! what a dupe
you have been to your imagination!  How is it possible a woman of your
sense could form the wild hope of reforming me?  Many are the tears you
will have to shed ere that plan is accomplished.  It is enough for me
that you are my wife for me to hate you!  If you were the wife of any
other man, I own you might have charms," etc.  I who listened was
astonished.  "How could you go on after this," said I, "my dear?  Why did
you not return to your father's?"  "Because I had not a conception he was
in earnest; because I reckoned it a bad jest, and told him so,--that my
opinions of him were very different from his of himself, otherwise he
would not find me by his side.  He laughed it over when he saw me appear
hurt: and I forgot what had passed, till forced to remember it.  I
believe he was pleased with me, too, for a little while.  I suppose it
had escaped his memory that I was his wife."  But she described the
happiness they enjoyed to have been unequal and perturbed.  Her
situation, in a short time, might have entitled her to some tenderness;
but she made no claim on him for any.  He sometimes reproached her for
the motives that had induced her to marry him: all was "vanity, the
vanity of Miss Milbanke carrying the point of reforming Lord Byron!  He
always knew her inducements; her pride shut her eyes to his: he wished to
build up his character and his fortunes; both were somewhat deranged: she
had a high name, and would have a fortune worth his attention,--let her
look to that for his motives!"--"O Byron, Byron!" she said, "how you
desolate me!"  He would then accuse himself of being mad, and throw
himself on the ground in a frenzy, which she believed was affected to
conceal the coldness and malignity of his heart,--an affectation which at
that time never failed to meet with the tenderest commiseration.  I could
find by some implications, not followed up by me, lest she might have
condemned herself afterwards for her involuntary disclosures, that he
soon attempted to corrupt her principles, both with respect to her own
conduct and her latitude for his.  She saw the precipice on which she
stood, and kept his sister with her as much as possible.  He returned in
the evenings from the haunts of vice, where he made her understand he had
been, with manners so profligate!  "O the wretch!" said I.  "And had he
no moments of remorse?"  "Sometimes he appeared to have them.  One night,
coming home from one of his lawless parties, he saw me so indignantly
collected, and bearing all with such a determined calmness, that a rush
of remorse seemed to come over him.  He called himself a monster, though
his sister was present, and threw himself in agony at my feet.  I could
not--no--I could not forgive him such injuries.  He had lost me for ever!
Astonished at the return of virtue, my tears, I believe, flowed over his
face, and I said, 'Byron, all is forgotten: never, never shall you hear
of it more!'  He started up, and, folding his arms while he looked at me,
burst into laughter.  'What do you mean?' said I.  'Only a philosophical
experiment; that's all,' said he.  'I wished to ascertain the value of
your resolutions.'"  I need not say more of this prince of duplicity,
except that varied were his methods of rendering her wretched, even to
the last.  When her lovely little child was born, and it was laid beside
its mother on the bed, and he was informed he might see his daughter,
after gazing at it with an exulting smile, this was the ejaculation that
broke from him: "Oh, what an implement of torture have I acquired in
you!"  Such he rendered it by his eyes and manner, keeping her in a
perpetual alarm for its safety when in his presence.  All this reads
madder than I believe he was: but she had not then made up her mind to
disbelieve his pretended insanity, and conceived it best to intrust her
secret with the excellent Dr. Baillie; telling him all that seemed to
regard the state of her husband's mind, and letting his advice regulate
her conduct.  Baillie doubted of his derangement; but, as he did not
reckon his own opinion infallible, he wished her to take precautions as
if her husband were so.  He recommended her going to the country, but to
give him no suspicion of her intentions of remaining there, and, for a
short time, to show no coldness in her letters, till she could better
ascertain his state.  She went, regretting, as she told me, to wear any
semblance but the truth.  A short time disclosed the story to the world.
He acted the part of a man driven to despair by her inflexible resentment
and by the arts of a governess (once a servant in the family) who hated
him.  "I will give you," proceeds Lady Anne, "a few paragraphs
transcribed from one of Lady Byron's own letters to me.  It is sorrowful
to think, that, in a very little time, this young and amiable creature,
wise, patient, and feeling, will have her character mistaken by every one
who reads Byron's works.  To rescue her from this, I preserved her
letters; and, when she afterwards expressed a fear that any thing of her
writings should ever fall into hands to injure him (I suppose she meant
by publication), I safely assured her that it never should.  But here
this letter shall be placed, a sacred record in her favour, unknown to

'"I am a very incompetent judge of the impression which the last canto of
'Childe Harold' may produce on the minds of indifferent readers.  It
contains the usual trace of a conscience restlessly awake; though his
object has been too long to aggravate its burden, as if it could thus be
oppressed into eternal stupor.  I will hope, as you do, that it survives
for his ultimate good.  It was the acuteness of his remorse, impenitent
in its character, which so long seemed to demand from my compassion to
spare every resemblance of reproach, every look of grief, which might
have said to his conscience, 'You have made me wretched.'  I am decidedly
of opinion that he is responsible.  He has wished to be thought partially
deranged, or on the brink of it, to perplex observers, and prevent them
from tracing effects to their real causes through all the intricacies of
his conduct.  I was, as I told you, at one time the dupe of his acted
insanity, and clung to the former delusions in regard to the motives that
concerned me personally, till the whole system was laid bare.  He is the
absolute monarch of words, and uses them, as Bonaparte did lives, for
conquest, without more regard to their intrinsic value; considering them
only as ciphers, which must derive all their import from the situation in
which he places them, and the ends to which he adapts them with such
consummate skill.  Why, then, you will say, does he not employ them to
give a better colour to his own character?  Because he is too good an
actor to over-act, or to assume a moral garb which it would be easy to
strip off.  In regard to his poetry, egotism is the vital principle of
his imagination, which it is difficult for him to kindle on any subject
with which his own character and interests are not identified: but by the
introduction of fictitious incidents, by change of scene or time, he has
enveloped his poetical disclosures in a system impenetrable except to a
very few; and his constant desire of creating a sensation makes him not
averse to be the object of wonder and curiosity, even though accompanied
by some dark and vague suspicions.  Nothing has contributed more to the
misunderstanding of his real character than the lonely grandeur in which
he shrouds it, and his affectation of being above mankind, when he exists
almost in their voice.  The romance of his sentiments is another feature
of this mask of state.  I know no one more habitually destitute of that
enthusiasm he so beautifully expresses, and to which he can work up his
fancy chiefly by contagion.  I had heard he was the best of brothers, the
most generous of friends; and I thought such feelings only required to be
warmed and cherished into more diffusive benevolence.  Though these
opinions are eradicated, and could never return but with the decay of my
memory, you will not wonder if there are still moments when the
association of feelings which arose from them soften and sadden my
thoughts.  But I have not thanked you, dearest Lady Anne, for your
kindness in regard to a principal object,--that of rectifying false
impressions.  I trust you understand my wishes, which never were to
injure Lord Byron in any way: for, though he would not suffer me to
remain his wife, he cannot prevent me from continuing his friend; and it
was from considering myself as such that I silenced the accusations by
which my own conduct might have been more fully justified.  It is not
necessary to speak ill of his heart in general: it is sufficient that to
me it was hard and impenetrable; that my own must have been broken before
his could have been touched.  I would rather represent this as my
misfortune than as his guilt; but surely that misfortune is not to be
made my crime!  Such are my feelings: you will judge how to act.  His
allusions to me in 'Childe Harold' are cruel and cold, but with such a
semblance as to make me appear so, and to attract all sympathy to
himself.  It is said in this poem that hatred of him will be taught as a
lesson to his child.  I might appeal to all who have ever heard me speak
of him, and still more to my own heart, to witness that there has been no
moment when I have remembered injury otherwise than affectionately and
sorrowfully.  It is not my duty to give way to hopeless and wholly
unrequited affection; but, so long as I live, my chief struggle will
probably be not to remember him too kindly.  I do not seek the sympathy
of the world; but I wish to be known by those whose opinion is valuable,
and whose kindness is clear to me.  Among such, my dear Lady Anne, you
will ever be remembered by your truly affectionate,

                                    '"A. BYRON."'

It is the province of your readers, and of the world at large, to judge
between the two testimonies now before them,--Lady Byron's in 1816 and
1818, and that put forward in 1869 by Mrs. B. Stowe, as communicated by
Lady Byron thirteen years ago.  In the face of the evidence now given,
positive, negative, and circumstantial, there can be but two alternatives
in the case: either Mrs. B. Stowe must have entirely misunderstood Lady
Byron, and been thus led into error and misstatement; or we must conclude
that, under the pressure of a lifelong and secret sorrow, Lady Byron's
mind had become clouded with an hallucination in respect of the
particular point in question.

The reader will admire the noble but severe character displayed in Lady
Byron's letter; but those who keep in view what her first impressions
were, as above recorded, may probably place a more lenient interpretation
than hers upon some of the incidents alleged to Byron's discredit.  I
shall conclude with some remarks upon his character, written shortly
after his death by a wise, virtuous, and charitable judge, the late Sir
Walter Scott, likewise in a letter to Lady Anne Barnard:--

'Fletcher's account of poor Byron is extremely interesting.  I had always
a strong attachment to that unfortunate though most richly-gifted man,
because I thought I saw that his virtues (and he had many) were his own;
and his eccentricities the result of an irritable temperament, which
sometimes approached nearly to mental disease.  Those who are gifted with
strong nerves, a regular temper, and habitual self-command, are not,
perhaps, aware how much of what they may think virtue they owe to
constitution; and such are but too severe judges of men like Byron, whose
mind, like a day of alternate storm and sunshine, is all dark shades and
stray gleams of light, instead of the twilight gray which illuminates
happier though less distinguished mortals.  I always thought, that, when
a moral proposition was placed plainly before Lord Byron, his mind
yielded a pleased and willing assent to it; but, if there was any side
view given in the way of raillery or otherwise, he was willing enough to
evade conviction . . . .  It augurs ill for the cause of Greece that this
master-spirit should have been withdrawn from their assistance just as he
was obtaining a complete ascendancy over their counsels.  I have seen
several letters from the Ionian Islands, all of which unite in speaking
in the highest praise of the wisdom and temperance of his counsels, and
the ascendancy he was obtaining over the turbulent and ferocious chiefs
of the insurgents.  I have some verses written by him on his last
birthday: they breathe a spirit of affection towards his wife, and a
desire of dying in battle, which seems like an anticipation of his
approaching fate.'

                   I remain, sir, your obedient servant,


DUNECHT, Sept. 3.



SIR,--Your paper of the 4th of September, containing an able and deeply
interesting 'Vindication of Lord Byron,' has followed me to this place.
With the general details of the 'True Story' (as it is termed) of Lady
Byron's separation from her husband, as recorded in 'Macmillan's
Magazine,' I have no desire or intention to grapple.  It is only with the
hypothesis of insanity, as suggested by the clever writer of the
'Vindication' to account for Lady Byron's sad revelations to Mrs. Beecher
Stowe, with which I propose to deal.  I do not believe that the mooted
theory of mental aberration can, in this case, be for a moment
maintained.  If Lady Byron's statement of facts to Mrs. B. Stowe is to be
viewed as the creation of a distempered fancy, a delusion or
hallucination of an insane mind, what part of the narrative are we to
draw the boundary-line between fact and delusion, sanity and insanity?
Where are we to fix the point d'appui of the lunacy?  Again: is the
alleged 'hallucination' to be considered as strictly confined to the idea
that Lord Byron had committed the frightful sin of incest? or is the
whole of the 'True Story' of her married life, as reproduced with such
terrible minuteness by Mrs. Beecher Stowe, to be viewed as the delusion
of a disordered fancy?  If Lady Byron was the subject of an
'hallucination' with regard to her husband, I think it not unreasonable
to conclude that the mental alienation existed on the day of her
marriage.  If this proposition be accepted, the natural inference will
be, that the details of the conversation which Lady Byron represents to
have occurred between herself and Lord Byron as soon as they entered the
carriage never took place.  Lord Byron is said to have remarked to Lady
Byron, 'You might have prevented this (or words to this effect): you will
now find that you have married a devil.  Is this alleged conversation to
be viewed as fact, or fiction? evidence of sanity, or insanity?  Is the
revelation which Lord Byron is said to have made to his wife of his
'incestuous passion' another delusion, having no foundation except in his
wife's disordered imagination?  Are his alleged attempts to justify to
Lady Byron's mind the morale of the plea of 'Continental latitude--the
good-humoured marriage, in which complaisant couples mutually agree to
form the cloak for each other's infidelities,'--another morbid perversion
of her imagination?  Did this conversation ever take place?  It will be
difficult to separate one part of the 'True Story' from another, and
maintain that this portion indicates insanity, and that portion
represents sanity.  If we accept the hypothesis of hallucination, we are
bound to view the whole of Lady Byron's conversations with Mrs. B. Stowe,
and the written statement laid before her, as the wild and incoherent
representations of a lunatic.  On the day when Lady Byron parted from her
husband, did she enter his private room, and find him with the 'object of
his guilty passion?' and did he say, as they parted, 'When shall we three
meet again?'  Is this to be considered as an actual occurrence, or as
another form of hallucination?  It is quite inconsistent with the theory
of Lady Byron's insanity to imagine that her delusion was restricted to
the idea of his having committed 'incest.'  In common fairness, we are
bound to view the aggregate mental phenomena which she exhibited from the
day of the marriage to their final separation and her death.  No person
practically acquainted with the true characteristics of insanity would
affirm, that, had this idea of 'incest' been an insane hallucination,
Lady Byron could, from the lengthened period which intervened between her
unhappy marriage and death, have refrained from exhibiting her mental
alienation, not only to her legal advisers and trustees, but to others,
exacting no pledge of secrecy from them as to her disordered impressions.
Lunatics do for a time, and for some special purpose, most cunningly
conceal their delusions; but they have not the capacity to struggle for
thirty-six years with a frightful hallucination, similar to the one Lady
Byron is alleged to have had, without the insane state of mind becoming
obvious to those with whom they are daily associating.  Neither is it
consistent with experience to suppose that, if Lady Byron had been a
monomaniac, her state of disordered understanding would have been
restricted to one hallucination.  Her diseased brain, affecting the
normal action of thought, would, in all probability, have manifested
other symptoms besides those referred to of aberration of intellect.

During the last thirty years, I have not met with a case of insanity
(assuming the hypothesis of hallucination) at all parallel with that of
Lady Byron's.  In my experience, it is unique.  I never saw a patient
with such a delusion.  If it should be established, by the statements of
those who are the depositors of the secret (and they are now bound, in
vindication of Lord Byron's memory, to deny, if they have the power of
doing so, this most frightful accusation), that the idea of incest did
unhappily cross Lady Byron's mind prior to her finally leaving him, it no
doubt arose from a most inaccurate knowledge of facts and perfectly
unjustifiable data, and was not, in the right psychological acceptation
of the phrase, an insane hallucination.

                    Sir, I remain your obedient servant,

                               FORBES WINSLOW, M.D.





                              'BOLOGNA, June 7, 1819.

. . . 'Before I left Venice, I had returned to you your late, and Mr.
Hobhouse's sheets of "Juan."  Don't wait for further answers from me, but
address yours to Venice as usual.  I know nothing of my own movements.  I
may return there in a few days, or not for some time; all this depends on
circumstances.  I left Mr. Hoppner very well.  My daughter Allegra is
well too, and is growing pretty: her hair is growing darker, and her eyes
are blue.  Her temper and her ways, Mr. Hoppner says, are like mine, as
well as her features: she will make, in that case, a manageable young

'I have never seen anything of Ada, the little Electra of my Mycenae . .
. .  But there will come a day of reckoning, even if I should not live to
see it.  I have at least seen ---- shivered, who was one of my assassins.
When that man was doing his worst to uproot my whole family,--tree,
branch, and blossoms; when, after taking my retainer, he went over to
them; when he was bringing desolation on my hearth, and destruction on my
household gods,--did he think that, in less than three years, a natural
event, a severe domestic, but an expected and common calamity, would lay
his carcass in a cross-road, or stamp his name in a verdict of lunacy?
Did he (who in his sexagenary . . .) reflect or consider what my feelings
must have been when wife and child and sister, and name and fame and
country, were to be my sacrifice on his legal altar?--and this at a
moment when my health was declining, my fortune embarrassed, and my mind
had been shaken by many kinds of disappointment? while I was yet young,
and might have reformed what might be wrong in my conduct, and retrieved
what was perplexing in my affairs?  But he is in his grave, and--What a
long letter I have scribbled!' . . .

* * * * *

In order that the reader may measure the change of moral tone with regard
to Lord Byron, wrought by the constant efforts of himself and his party,
we give the two following extracts from 'Blackwood:'

The first is 'Blackwood' in 1819, just after the publication of 'Don
Juan:' the second is 'Blackwood' in 1825.

'In the composition of this work, there is, unquestionably, a more
thorough and intense infusion of genius and vice, power and profligacy,
than in any poem which had ever before been written in the English, or,
indeed, in any other modern language.  Had the wickedness been less
inextricably mingled with the beauty and the grace and the strength of a
most inimitable and incomprehensible Muse, our task would have been easy.
'Don Juan' is by far the most admirable specimen of the mixture of ease,
strength, gaiety, and seriousness, extant in the whole body of English
poetry: the author has devoted his powers to the worst of purposes and
passions; and it increases his guilt and our sorrow that he has devoted
them entire.

'The moral strain of the whole poem is pitched in the lowest key.  Love,
honour, patriotism, religion, are mentioned only to be scoffed at, as if
their sole resting-place were, or ought to be, in the bosoms of fools.  It
appears, in short, as if this miserable man, having exhausted every
species of sensual gratification, having drained the cup of sin even to
its bitterest dregs, were resolved to show us that he is no longer a
human being, even in his frailties, but a cool, unconcerned fiend,
laughing with a detestable glee over the whole of the better and worse
elements of which human life is composed; treating well-nigh with equal
derision the most pure of virtues, and the most odious of vices; dead
alike to the beauty of the one, and the deformity of the other; a mere
heartless despiser of that frail but noble humanity, whose type was never
exhibited in a shape of more deplorable degradation than in his own
contemptuously distinct delineation of himself.  To confess to his Maker,
and weep over in secret agonies the wildest and most fantastic
transgressions of heart and mind, is the part of a conscious sinner, in
whom sin has not become the sole principle of life and action; but to lay
bare to the eye of man and of woman all the hidden convulsions of a
wicked spirit, and to do all this without one symptom of contrition,
remorse, or hesitation, with a calm, careless ferociousness of contented
and satisfied depravity,--this was an insult which no man of genius had
ever before dared to put upon his Creator or his species.  Impiously
railing against his God, madly and meanly disloyal to his sovereign and
his country, and brutally outraging all the best feelings of female
honour, affection, and confidence, how small a part of chivalry is that
which remains to the descendant of the Byrons!--a gloomy visor and a
deadly weapon!

'Those who are acquainted (and who is not?) with the main incidents in
the private life of Lord Byron, and who have not seen this production,
will scarcely believe that malignity should have carried him so far as to
make him commence a filthy and impious poem with an elaborate satire on
the character and manners of his wife, from whom, even by his own
confession, he has been separated only in consequence of his own cruel
and heartless misconduct.  It is in vain for Lord Byron to attempt in any
way to justify his own behaviour in that affair; and, now that he has so
openly and audaciously invited inquiry and reproach, we do not see any
good reason why he should not be plainly told so by the general voice of
his countrymen.  It would not be an easy matter to persuade any man who
has any knowledge of the nature of woman, that a female such as Lord
Byron has himself described his wife to be would rashly or hastily or
lightly separate herself from the love with which she had once been
inspired for such a man as he is or was.  Had he not heaped insult upon
insult, and scorn upon scorn, had he not forced the iron of his contempt
into her very soul, there is no woman of delicacy and virtue, as he
admitted Lady Byron to be, who would not have hoped all things, and
suffered all things, from one, her love of whom must have been inwoven
with so many exalting elements of delicious pride, and more delicious
humility.  To offend the love of such a woman was wrong, but it might be
forgiven; to desert her was unmanly, but he might have returned, and
wiped for ever from her eyes the tears of her desertion: but to injure
and to desert, and then to turn back and wound her widowed privacy with
unhallowed strains of cold-blooded mockery, was brutally, fiendishly,
inexpiably mean.  For impurities there might be some possibility of
pardon, were they supposed to spring only from the reckless buoyancy of
young blood and fiery passions; for impiety there might at least be pity,
were it visible that the misery of the impious soul equalled its
darkness: but for offences such as this, which cannot proceed either from
the madness of sudden impulse or the bewildered agonies of doubt, but
which speak the wilful and determined spite of an unrepenting,
unsoftened, smiling, sarcastic, joyous sinner, there can be neither pity
nor pardon.  Our knowledge that it is committed by one of the most
powerful intellects our island ever has produced lends intensity a
thousand-fold to the bitterness of our indignation.  Every high thought
that was ever kindled in our breasts by the Muse of Byron, every pure and
lofty feeling that ever responded from within us to the sweep of his
majestic inspirations, every remembered moment of admiration and
enthusiasm, is up in arms against him.  We look back with a mixture of
wrath and scorn to the delight with which we suffered ourselves to be
filled by one, who, all the while he was furnishing us with delight,
must, we cannot doubt it, have been mocking us with a cruel mockery; less
cruel only, because less peculiar, than that with which he has now turned
him from the lurking-place of his selfish and polluted exile to pour the
pitiful chalice of his contumely on the surrendered devotion of a virgin
bosom, and the holy hopes of the mother of his child.  It is indeed a sad
and a humiliating thing to know, that in the same year, there proceeded
from the same pen two productions in all things so different as the
fourth canto of "Childe Harold" and his loathsome "Don Juan."

'We have mentioned one, and, all will admit, the worst instance of the
private malignity which has been embodied in so many passages of "Don
Juan;" and we are quite sure the lofty-minded and virtuous men whom Lord
Byron has debased himself by insulting will close the volume which
contains their own injuries, with no feelings save those of pity for him
that has inflicted them, and for her who partakes so largely in the same
injuries.'--August, 1819.

* * * * *


'We shall, like all others who say anything about Lord Byron, begin, sans
apologie, with his personal character.  This is the great object of
attack, the constant theme of open vituperation to one set, and the
established mark for all the petty but deadly artillery of sneers,
shrugs, groans, to another.  Two widely different matters, however, are
generally, we might say universally, mixed up here,--the personal
character of the man, as proved by his course of life; and his personal
character, as revealed in or guessed from his books.  Nothing can be more
unfair than the style in which this mixture is made use of.  Is there a
noble sentiment, a lofty thought, a sublime conception, in the book?  "Ah,
yes!" is the answer.  "But what of that?  It is only the roue Byron that
speaks!"  Is a kind, a generous action of the man mentioned?  "Yes, yes!"
comments the sage; "but only remember the atrocities of 'Don Juan:'
depend on it, this, if it be true, must have been a mere freak of
caprice, or perhaps a bit of vile hypocrisy."  Salvation is thus shut out
at either entrance: the poet damns the man, and the man the poet.

'Nobody will suspect us of being so absurd as to suppose that it is
possible for people to draw no inferences as to the character of an
author from his book, or to shut entirely out of view, in judging of a
book, that which they may happen to know about the man who writes it.  The
cant of the day supposes such things to be practicable; but they are not.
But what we complain of and scorn is the extent to which they are carried
in the case of this particular individual, as compared with others; the
impudence with which things are at once assumed to be facts in regard to
his private history; and the absolute unfairness of never arguing from
his writings to him, but for evil.

'Take the man, in the first place, as unconnected, in so far as we can
thus consider him, with his works; and ask, What, after all, are the bad
things we know of him?  Was he dishonest or dishonourable? had he ever
done anything to forfeit, or even endanger, his rank as a gentleman?  Most
assuredly, no such accusations have ever been maintained against Lord
Byron the private nobleman, although something of the sort may have been
insinuated against the author.  "But he was such a profligate in his
morals, that his name cannot be mentioned with anything like tolerance."
Was he so, indeed?  We should like extremely to have the catechising of
the individual man who says so.  That he indulged in sensual vices, to
some extent, is certain, and to be regretted and condemned.  But was he
worse, as to such matters, than the enormous majority of those who join
in the cry of horror upon this occasion?  We most assuredly believe
exactly the reverse; and we rest our belief upon very plain and
intelligible grounds.  First, we hold it impossible that the majority of
mankind, or that anything beyond a very small minority, are or can be
entitled to talk of sensual profligacy as having formed a part of the
life and character of the man, who, dying at six and thirty, bequeathed a
collection of works such as Byron's to the world.  Secondly, we hold it
impossible, that laying the extent of his intellectual labours out of the
question, and looking only to the nature of the intellect which
generated, and delighted in generating, such beautiful and noble
conceptions as are to be found in almost all Lord Byron's works,--we hold
it impossible that very many men can be at once capable of comprehending
these conceptions, and entitled to consider sensual profligacy as having
formed the principal, or even a principal, trait in Lord Byron's
character.  Thirdly, and lastly, we have never been able to hear any one
fact established which could prove Lord Byron to deserve anything like
the degree or even kind of odium which has, in regard to matters of this
class, been heaped upon his name.  We have no story of base unmanly
seduction, or false and villainous intrigue, against him,--none whatever.
It seems to us quite clear, that, if he had been at all what is called in
society an unprincipled sensualist, there must have been many such
stories, authentic and authenticated.  But there are none
such,--absolutely none.  His name has been coupled with the names of
three, four, or more women of some rank: but what kind of women?  Every
one of them, in the first place, about as old as himself in years, and
therefore a great deal older in character; every one of them utterly
battered in reputation long before he came into contact with
them,--licentious, unprincipled, characterless women.  What father has
ever reproached him with the ruin of his daughter?  What husband has
denounced him as the destroyer of his peace?

'Let us not be mistaken.  We are not defending the offences of which Lord
Byron unquestionably was guilty; neither are we finding fault with those,
who, after looking honestly within and around themselves, condemn those
offences, no matter how severely: but we are speaking of society in
general as it now exists; and we say that there is vile hypocrisy in the
tone in which Lord Byron is talked of there.  We say, that, although all
offences against purity of life are miserable things, and condemnable
things, the degrees of guilt attached to different offences of this class
are as widely different as are the degrees of guilt between an assault
and a murder; and we confess our belief, that no man of Byron's station
or age could have run much risk in gaining a very bad name in society,
had a course of life similar (in so far as we know any thing of that) to
Lord Byron's been the only thing chargeable against him.

'The last poem he wrote was produced upon his birthday, not many weeks
before he died.  We consider it as one of the finest and most touching
effusions of his noble genius.  We think he who reads it, and can ever
after bring himself to regard even the worst transgressions that have
been charged against Lord Byron with any feelings but those of humble
sorrow and manly pity, is not deserving of the name of man.  The deep and
passionate struggles with the inferior elements of his nature (and ours)
which it records; the lofty thirsting after purity; the heroic devotion
of a soul half weary of life, because unable to believe in its own powers
to live up to what it so intensely felt to be, and so reverentially
honoured as, the right; the whole picture of this mighty spirit, often
darkened, but never sunk,--often erring, but never ceasing to see and to
worship the beauty of virtue; the repentance of it; the anguish; the
aspiration, almost stifled in despair,--the whole of this is such a
whole, that we are sure no man can read these solemn verses too often;
and we recommend them for repetition, as the best and most conclusive of
all possible answers whenever the name of Byron is insulted by those who
permit themselves to forget nothing, either in his life or in his
writings, but the good.'--[1825.]


The following letters of Lady Byron's are reprinted from the Memoirs of
H. C. Robinson.  They are given that the reader may form some judgment of
the strength and activity of her mind, and the elevated class of subjects
upon which it habitually dwelt.


                                       'DEC. 31, 1853.

'DEAR MR. CRABB ROBINSON,--I have an inclination, if I were not afraid of
trespassing on your time (but you can put my letter by for any leisure
moment), to enter upon the history of a character which I think less
appreciated than it ought to be.  Men, I observe, do not understand men
in certain points, without a woman's interpretation.  Those points, of
course, relate to feelings.

'Here is a man taken by most of those who come in his way either for Dry-
as-Dust, Matter-of-fact, or for a "vain visionary."  There are,
doubtless, some defective or excessive characteristics which give rise to
those impressions.

'My acquaintance was made, oddly enough, with him twenty-seven years ago.
A pauper said to me of him, "He's the poor man's doctor."  Such a
recommendation seemed to me a good one: and I also knew that his
organizing head had formed the first district society in England (for
Mrs. Fry told me she could not have effected it without his aid); yet he
has always ignored his own share of it.  I felt in him at once the
curious combination of the Christian and the cynic,--of reverence for
man, and contempt of men.  It was then an internal war, but one in which
it was evident to me that the holier cause would be victorious, because
there was deep belief, and, as far as I could learn, a blameless and
benevolent life.  He appeared only to want sunshine.  It was a plant
which could not be brought to perfection in darkness.  He had begun life
by the most painful conflict between filial duty and conscience,--a large
provision in the church secured for him by his father; but he could not
sign.  There was discredit, as you know, attached to such scruples.

'He was also, when I first knew him, under other circumstances of a
nature to depress him, and to make him feel that he was unjustly treated.
The gradual removal of these called forth his better nature in
thankfulness to God.  Still the old misanthropic modes of expressing
himself obtruded themselves at times.  This passed in '48 between him and
Robertson.  Robertson said to me, "I want to know something about ragged
schools."  I replied, "You had better ask Dr. King: he knows more about
them."--"I?" said Dr. King.  "I take care to know nothing of ragged
schools, lest they should make me ragged."  Robertson did not see through
it.  Perhaps I had been taught to understand such suicidal speeches by my
cousin, Lord Melbourne.

'The example of Christ, imperfectly as it may be understood by him, has
been ever before his eyes: he woke to the thought of following it, and he
went to rest consoled or rebuked by it.  After nearly thirty years of
intimacy, I may, without presumption, form that opinion.  There is
something pathetic to me in seeing any one so unknown.  Even the other
medical friends of Robertson, when I knew that Dr. King felt a woman's
tenderness, said on one occasion to him, "But we know that you, Dr. King,
are above all feeling."

'If I have made the character more consistent to you by putting in these
bits of mosaic, my pen will not have been ill employed, nor unpleasingly
to you.

                                   'Yours truly,

                                       'A. NOEL BYRON.'

* * * * *


                                'BRIGHTON, NOV. 15,1854.

'The thoughts of all this public and private suffering have taken the
life out of my pen when I tried to write on matters which would otherwise
have been most interesting to me: these seemed the shadows, that the
stern reality.  It is good, however, to be drawn out of scenes in which
one is absorbed most unprofitably, and to have one's natural interests
revived by such a letter as I have to thank you for, as well as its
predecessor.  You touch upon the very points which do interest me the
most, habitually.  The change of form, and enlargement of design, in "The
Prospective" had led me to express to one of the promoters of that object
my desire to contribute.  The religious crisis is instant; but the man
for it?  The next best thing, if, as I believe, he is not to be found in
England, is an association of such men as are to edit the new periodical.
An address delivered by Freeman Clarke at Boston, last May, makes me
think him better fitted for a leader than any other of the religious
"Free-thinkers."  I wish I could send you my one copy; but you do not
need, it, and others do.  His object is the same as that of the "Alliance
Universelle:" only he is still more free from "partialism" (his own word)
in his aspirations and practical suggestions with respect to an ultimate
"Christian synthesis."  He so far adopts Comte's theory as to speak of
religion itself under three successive aspects, historically,--1.  Thesis;
2. Antithesis;  3. Synthesis.  I made his acquaintance in England; and he
inspired confidence at once by his brave independence (incomptis
capillis) and self-unconsciousness.  J. J. Tayler's address of last month
follows in the same path,--all in favour of the "irenics," instead of

'The answer which you gave me so fully and distinctly to the questions I
proposed for your consideration was of value in turning to my view
certain aspects of the case which I had not before observed.  I had begun
a second attack on your patience, when all was forgotten in the news of
the day.'

* * * * *


                                'BRIGHTON, Dec. 25, 1854.

'With J. J. Tayler, though almost a stranger to him, I have a peculiar
reason for sympathising.  A book of his was a treasure to my daughter on
her death-bed. {320a}

'I must confess to intolerance of opinion as to these two points,--eternal
evil in any form, and (involved in it) eternal suffering.  To believe in
these would take away my God, who is all-loving.  With a God with whom
omnipotence and omniscience were all, evil might be eternal; but why do I
say to you what has been better said elsewhere?'

* * * * *


                               'BRIGHTON, Jan. 31, 1855.

. . .  'The great difficulty in respect to "The Review" {320b} seems to
be to settle a basis, inclusive and exclusive; in short, a boundary
question.  From what you said, I think you agreed with me, that a
latitudinarian Christianity ought to be the character of the periodical;
but the depth of the roots should correspond with the width of the
branches of that tree of knowledge.  Of some of those minds one might
say, "They have no root;" and then, the richer the foliage, the more
danger that the trunk will fall.  "Grounded in Christ" has to me a most
practical significance and value.  I, too, have anxiety about a friend
(Miss Carpenter) whose life is of public importance: she, more than any
of the English reformers, unless Nash and Wright, has found the art of
drawing out the good of human nature, and proving its existence.  She
makes these discoveries by the light of love.  I hope she may recover,
from to-day's report.  The object of a Reformatory in Leicester has just
been secured at a county meeting . . . .  Now the desideratum is well-
qualified masters and mistresses.  If you hear of such by chance, pray
let me know.  The regular schoolmaster is an extinguisher.  Heart, and
familiarity with the class to be educated, are all important.  At home
and abroad, the evidence is conclusive on that point; for I have for many
years attended to such experiments in various parts of Europe.  "The
Irish Quarterly" has taken up the subject with rather more zeal than
judgment.  I had hoped that a sound and temperate exposition of the facts
might form an article in the "Might-have-been Review."'

* * * * *


                               'BRIGHTON, Feb. 12, 1855.

'I have at last earned the pleasure of writing to you by having settled
troublesome matters of little moment, except locally; and I gladly take a
wider range by sympathizing in your interests.  There is, besides, no
responsibility--for me at least--in canvassing the merits of Russell or
Palmerston, but much in deciding whether the "village politician" Jackson
or Thompson shall be leader in the school or public-house.

'Has not the nation been brought to a conviction that the system should
be broken up? and is Lord Palmerston, who has used it so long and so
cleverly, likely to promote that object?

'But, whatever obstacles there may be in state affairs, that general
persuasion must modify other departments of action and knowledge.
"Unroasted coffee" will no longer be accepted under the official
seal,--another reason for a new literary combination for distinct special
objects, a review in which every separate article should be convergent.
If, instead of the problem to make a circle pass through three given
points, it were required to find the centre from which to describe a
circle through any three articles in the "Edinburgh" or "Westminster
Review," who would accomplish it?  Much force is lost for want of this
one-mindedness amongst the contributors.  It would not exclude variety or
freedom in the unlimited discussion of means towards the ends
unequivocally recognized.  If St. Paul had edited a review, he might

have admitted Peter as well as Luke or Barnabas . . . .

'Ross gave us an excellent sermon, yesterday, on "Hallowing the Name."
Though far from commonplace, it might have been delivered in any church.

'We have had Fanny Kemble here last week.  I only heard her "Romeo and
Juliet,"--not less instructive, as her readings always are, than
exciting; for in her glass Shakspeare is a philosopher.  I know her, and
honour her, for her truthfulness amidst all trials.'

* * * * *


                                'BRIGHTON, March 5, 1855.

'I recollect only those passages of Dr. Kennedy's book which bear upon
the opinions of Lord Byron.  Strange as it may seem, Dr. Kennedy is most
faithful where you doubt his being so.  Not merely from casual
expressions, but from the whole tenor of Lord Byron's feelings, I could
not but conclude he was a believer in the inspiration of the Bible, and
had the gloomiest Calvinistic tenets.  To that unhappy view of the
relation of the creature to the Creator, I have always ascribed the
misery of his life . . . .  It is enough for me to remember, that he who
thinks his transgressions beyond forgiveness (and such was his own
deepest feeling) has righteousness beyond that of the self-satisfied
sinner, or, perhaps, of the half-awakened.  It was impossible for me to
doubt, that, could he have been at once assured of pardon, his living
faith in a moral duty, and love of virtue ("I love the virtues which I
cannot claim"), would have conquered every temptation.  Judge, then, how
I must hate the creed which made him see God as an Avenger, not a Father!
My own impressions were just the reverse, but could have little weight;
and it was in vain to seek to turn his thoughts for long from that idee
fixe with which he connected his physical peculiarity as a stamp.  Instead
of being made happier by any apparent good, he felt convinced that every
blessing would be "turned into a curse" to him.  Who, possessed by such
ideas, could lead a life of love and service to God or man?  They must,
in a measure, realize themselves.  "The worst of it is, I do believe," he
said.  I, like all connected with him, was broken against the rock of
predestination.  I may be pardoned for referring to his frequent
expression of the sentiment that I was only sent to show him the
happiness he was forbidden to enjoy.  You will now better understand why
"The Deformed Transformed" is too painful to me for discussion.  Since
writing the above, I have read Dr. Granville's letter on the Emperor of
Russia, some passages of which seem applicable to the prepossession I
have described.  I will not mix up less serious matters with these, which
forty years have not made less than present still to me.'

* * * * *


                                'BRIGHTON, April 8, 1855.

. . . . 'The book which has interested me most, lately, is that on
"Mosaism," translated by Miss Goldsmid, and which I read, as you will
believe, without any Christian (unchristian?) prejudice.  The
missionaries of the Unity were always, from my childhood, regarded by me
as in that sense the people; and I believe they were true to that
mission, though blind, intellectually, in demanding the crucifixion.  The
present aspect of Jewish opinions, as shown in that book, is all but
Christian.  The author is under the error of taking, as the
representatives of Christianity, the Mystics, Ascetics, and Quietists;
and therefore he does not know how near he is to the true spirit of the
gospel.  If you should happen to see Miss Goldsmid, pray tell her what a
great service I think she has rendered to us soi-disant Christians in
translating a book which must make us sensible of the little we have
done, and the much we have to do, to justify our preference of the later
to the earlier dispensation.' . . .

* * * * *


                               BRIGHTON, April 11, 1855.

'You appear to have more definite information respecting "The Review"
than I have obtained . . .  It was also said that "The Review" would, in
fact, be "The Prospective" amplified,--not satisfactory to me, because I
have always thought that periodical too Unitarian, in the sense of
separating itself from other Christian churches, if not by a high wall,
at least by a wire-gauze fence.  Now, separation is to me the [Greek
text].  The revelation through Nature never separates: it is the
revelation through the Book which separates.  Whewell and Brewster would
have been one, had they not, I think, equally dimmed their lamps of
science when reading their Bibles.  As long as we think a truth better
for being shut up in a text, we are not of the wide-world religion, which
is to include all in one fold: for that text will not be accepted by the
followers of other books, or students of the same; and separation will
ensue.  The Christian Scripture should be dear to us, not as the charter
of a few, but of mankind; and to fashion it into cages is to deny its
ultimate objects.  These thoughts hot, like the roll at breakfast, where
your letter was so welcome an addition.'



   Fare thee well! and if for ever,
   Still for ever fare thee well!
   Even though unforgiving, never
   'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.

   Would that breast were bared before thee
   Where thy head so oft hath lain,
   While that placid sleep came o'er thee
   Which thou ne'er canst know again!

   Would that breast, by thee glanced over,
   Every inmost thought could show!
   Then thou wouldst at last discover
   'Twas not well to spurn it so.

   Though the world for this commend thee,
   Though it smile upon the blow,
   Even its praises must offend thee,
   Founded on another's woe.

   Though my many faults defaced me,
   Could no other arm be found,
   Than the one which once embraced me,
   To inflict a cureless wound?

   Yet, oh! yet, thyself deceive not:
   Love may sink by slow decay;
   But, by sudden wrench, believe not
   Hearts can thus be torn away:

   Still thine own its life retaineth;
   Still must mine, though bleeding, beat
   And the undying thought which paineth
   Is--that we no more may meet.

   These are words of deeper sorrow
   Than the wail above the dead:
   Both shall live, but every morrow
   Wake us from a widowed bed.

   And when thou wouldst solace gather,
   When our child's first accents flow,
   Wilt thou teach her to say 'Father,'
   Though his care she must forego?

   When her little hand shall press thee,
   When her lip to thine is pressed,
   Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee;
   Think of him thy love had blessed.

   Should her lineaments resemble
   Those thou never more mayst see,
   Then thy heart will softly tremble
   With a pulse yet true to me.

   All my faults, perchance, thou knowest;
   All my madness none can know:
   All my hopes, where'er thou goest,
   Wither; yet with thee they go.

   Every feeling hath been shaken:
   Pride, which not a world could bow,
   Bows to thee, by thee forsaken;
   Even my soul forsakes me now.

   But 'tis done: all words are idle;
   Words from me are vainer still;
   But the thoughts we cannot bridle
   Force their way without the will.

   Fare thee well!--thus disunited,
   Torn from every nearer tie,
   Seared in heart, and lone and blighted,
   More than this I scarce can die.


   Born in the garret, in the kitchen bred;
   Promoted thence to deck her mistress' head;
   Next--for some gracious service unexpress'd,
   And from its wages only to be guessed--
   Raised from the toilette to the table, where
   Her wondering betters wait behind her chair,
   With eye unmoved, and forehead unabashed,
   She dines from off the plate she lately washed.
   Quick with the tale, and ready with the lie,
   The genial confidante and general spy,
   Who could, ye gods! her next employment guess?--
   An only infant's earliest governess!
   She taught the child to read, and taught so well,
   That she herself, by teaching, learned to spell.
   An adept next in penmanship she grows,
   As many a nameless slander deftly shows:
   What she had made the pupil of her art,
   None know; but that high soul secured the heart,
   And panted for the truth it could not hear,
   With longing breast and undeluded ear.
   Foiled was perversion by that youthful mind,
   Which flattery fooled not, baseness could not blind,
   Deceit infect not, near contagion soil,
   Indulgence weaken, nor example spoil,
   Nor mastered science tempt her to look down
   On humbler talents with a pitying frown,
   Nor genius swell, nor beauty render vain,
   Nor envy ruffle to retaliate pain,
   Nor fortune change, pride raise, nor passion bow,
   Nor virtue teach austerity, till now.
   Serenely purest of her sex that live;
   But wanting one sweet weakness,--to forgive;
   Too shocked at faults her soul can never know,
   She deems that all could be like her below:
   Foe to all vice, yet hardly Virtue's friend;
   For Virtue pardons those she would amend.

   But to the theme, now laid aside too long,--
   The baleful burthen of this honest song.
   Though all her former functions are no more,
   She rules the circle which she served before.
   If mothers--none know why--before her quake;
   If daughters dread her for the mothers' sake;
   If early habits--those false links, which bind
   At times the loftiest to the meanest mind--
   Have given her power too deeply to instil
   The angry essence of her deadly will;
   If like a snake she steal within your walls
   Till the black slime betray her as she crawls;
   If like a viper to the heart she wind,
   And leave the venom there she did not find,
   What marvel that this hag of hatred works
   Eternal evil latent as she lurks,
   To make a Pandemonium where she dwells,
   And reign the Hecate of domestic hells?
   Skilled by a touch to deepen scandal's tints
   With all the kind mendacity of hints,
   While mingling truth with falsehood, sneers with smiles,
   A thread of candour with a web of wiles;
   A plain blunt show of briefly-spoken seeming,
   To hide her bloodless heart's soul-hardened scheming;
   A lip of lies; a face formed to conceal,
   And, without feeling, mock at all who feel;
   With a vile mask the Gorgon would disown;
   A cheek of parchment, and an eye of stone.
   Mark how the channels of her yellow blood
   Ooze to her skin, and stagnate there to mud!
   Cased like the centipede in saffron mail,
   Or darker greenness of the scorpion's scale,
   (For drawn from reptiles only may we trace
   Congenial colours in that soul or face,)--
   Look on her features! and behold her mind
   As in a mirror of itself defined.
   Look on the picture! deem it not o'ercharged;
   There is no trait which might not be enlarged:
   Yet true to 'Nature's journeymen,' who made
   This monster when their mistress left off trade,
   This female dog-star of her little sky,
   Where all beneath her influence droop or die.

   O wretch without a tear, without a thought,
   Save joy above the ruin thou hast wrought!
   The time shall come, nor long remote, when thou
   Shalt feel far more than thou inflictest now,--
   Feel for thy vile self-loving self in vain,
   And turn thee howling in unpitied pain.
   May the strong curse of crushed affections light
   Back on thy bosom with reflected blight,
   And make thee, in thy leprosy of mind,
   As loathsome to thyself as to mankind,
   Till all thy self-thoughts curdle into hate
   Black as thy will for others would create:
   Till thy hard heart be calcined into dust,
   And thy soul welter in its hideous crust!
   Oh, may thy grave be sleepless as the bed,
   The widowed couch of fire, that thou hast spread!
   Then, when thou fain wouldst weary Heaven with prayer,
   Look on thine earthly victims, and despair!
   Down to the dust! and, as thou rott'st away,
   Even worms shall perish on thy poisonous clay.
   But for the love I bore, and still must bear,
   To her thy malice from all ties would tear,
   Thy name, thy human name, to every eye
   The climax of all scorn, should hang on high,
   Exalted o'er thy less abhorred compeers,
   And festering in the infamy of years.


   And thou wert sad, yet I was not with thee!
      And thou wert sick, and yet I was not near!
   Methought that joy and health alone could be
   Where I was not, and pain and sorrow here.
   And is it thus?  It is as I foretold,
   And shall be more so; for the mind recoils
   Upon itself, and the wrecked heart lies cold,
   While heaviness collects the shattered spoils.
   It is not in the storm nor in the strife
   We feel benumbed, and wish to be no more,
   But in the after-silence on the shore,
   When all is lost except a little life.
   I am too well avenged!  But 'twas my right:
   Whate'er my sins might be, thou wert not sent
   To be the Nemesis who should requite;
   Nor did Heaven choose so near an instrument.
   Mercy is for the merciful!--if thou
   Hast been of such, 'twill be accorded now.
   Thy nights are banished from the realms of sleep!
   Yes! they may flatter thee; but thou shalt feel
   A hollow agony which will not heal;
   For thou art pillowed on a curse too deep:
   Thou hast sown in my sorrow, and must reap
   The bitter harvest in a woe as real!
   I have had many foes, but none like thee;
   For 'gainst the rest myself I could defend,
   And be avenged, or turn them into friend;
   But thou in safe implacability
   Hadst nought to dread, in thy own weakness shielded;
   And in my love, which hath but too much yielded,
   And spared, for thy sake, some I should not spare.
   And thus upon the world,--trust in thy truth,
   And the wild fame of my ungoverned youth,
   On things that were not and on things that are,--
   Even upon such a basis hast thou built
   A monument, whose cement hath been guilt;
   The moral Clytemnestra of thy lord,
   And hewed down, with an unsuspected sword,
   Fame, peace, and hope, and all the better life,
   Which, but for this cold treason of thy heart,
   Might still have risen from out the grave of strife,
   And found a nobler duty than to part.
   But of thy virtues didst thou make a vice,
   Trafficking with them in a purpose cold,
   For present anger and for future gold,
   And buying others' grief at any price.
   And thus, once entered into crooked ways,
   The early truth, which was thy proper praise,
   Did not still walk beside thee, but at times,
   And with a breast unknowing its own crimes,
   Deceit, averments incompatible,
   Equivocations, and the thoughts which dwell
   In Janus-spirits; the significant eye
   Which learns to lie with silence; the pretext
   Of prudence, with advantages annexed;
   The acquiescence in all things which tend,
   No matter how, to the desired end,--
   All found a place in thy philosophy.
   The means were worthy, and the end is won:
   I would not do by thee as thou hast done!


{7}  The italics are mine.

{14}  The italics are mine.

{16} In Lady Blessington's 'Memoirs' this name is given Charlemont; in
the late 'Temple Bar' article on the character of Lady Byron it is given
Clermont.  I have followed the latter.

{17}  The italics are mine.

{21} In Lady Blessington's conversations with Lord Byron, just before he
went to Greece, she records that he gave her this poem in manuscript.  It
was published in her 'Journal.'

{22a} Vol. vi. p.22.

{22b} 'Byron's Miscellany,' vol. ii. p.358.  London, 1853.

{23}  The italics are mine.

{24} Lord Byron says, in his observations on an article in 'Blackwood:'
'I recollect being much hurt by Romilly's conduct: he (having a general
retainer for me) went over to the adversary, alleging, on being reminded
of his retainer, that he had forgotten it, as his clerk had so many.  I
observed that some of those who were now so eagerly laying the axe to my
roof-tree might see their own shaken.  His fell and crushed him.'

In the first edition of Moore's Life of Lord Byron there was printed a
letter on Sir Samuel Romilly, so brutal that it was suppressed in the
subsequent editions.  (See Part III.)

{28a} Vol. iv. p.40

{28b} Ibid. p.46.

{31}  The italics are mine.

{41} Vol. iv. p.143.

{43} Lord Byron took especial pains to point out to Murray the importance
of these two letters.  Vol. V. Letter 443, he says: 'You must also have
from Mr. Moore the correspondence between me and Lady B., to whom I
offered a sight of all that concerns herself in these papers.  This is
important.  He has her letter and my answer.'

{44} 'And I, who with them on the cross am placed,
    .          .          .          .    truly
    My savage wife, more than aught else, doth harm me.'
                        Inferno, Canto, XVI., Longfellow's translation.

{49} 'Conversations,' p.108.

{51} Murray's edition of 'Byron's Works,' vol. ii. p.189; date of
dedication to Hobhouse, Jan. 2, 1818.

{61} Recently, Lord Lindsay has published another version of this story,
which makes it appear that he has conversed with a lady who conversed
with Hobhouse during his lifetime, in which this story is differently
reported.  In the last version, it is made to appear that Hobhouse got
this declaration from Lady Byron herself.

{70a} The references are to the first volume of the first edition of
Moore's 'Life,' originally published by itself.

{70b} 'The officious spies of his privacy,' p.65O.

{72} 'The deserted husband,' p.651.

{86} 'I (Campbell) had not time to ask Lady Byron's permission to print
this private letter; but it seemed to me important, and I have published
it meo periculo.'

{95a} 'Noctes,' July 1822.

{95b} 'Noctes,' September 1832.

{105} Miss Martineau's Biographical Sketches.

{113}  The italics are mine.--H. B. S.

{119} In 'The Noctes' of November, 1824 Christopher North says, 'I don't
call Medwin a liar. . . .  Whether Byron bammed him, or he, by virtue of
his own stupidity, was the sole and sufficient bammifier of himself, I
know not.'  A note says that Murray had been much shocked by Byron's
misstatements to Medwin as to money-matters with him.  The note goes on
to say, 'Medwin could not have invented them, for they were mixed up with
acknowledged facts; and the presumption is that Byron mystified his
gallant acquaintance.  He was fond of such tricks.'

{121} This one fact is, that Lord Byron might have had an open
examination in court, if he had only persisted in refusing the deed of

{126} In the history of 'Blackwood's Magazine,' prefaced to the American
edition of 1854, Mackenzie says of the 'Noctes' papers, 'Great as was
their popularity in England it was peculiarly in America that their high
merit and undoubted originality received the heartiest recognition and
appreciation.  Nor is this wonderful when it is considered that for one
reader of "Blackwood's Magazine" in the old country there cannot be less
than fifty in the new.'

{139} The reader is here referred to Lady Byron's other letters, in Part
III.; which also show the peculiarly active and philosophical character
of her mind, and the class of subjects on which it habitually dwelt.

{147} See her character of Dr. King, Part III.

{148} Alluding to the financial crisis in the United States in 1857.

{149} 'The Minister's Wooing.'

{150} See her letter on spiritualistic phenomena, Part III.

{161} This novel of Godwin's is a remarkably powerful story.  It is
related in the first person by the supposed hero, Caleb Williams.  He
represents himself as private secretary to a gentleman of high family
named Falkland.  Caleb accidentally discovers that his patron has, in a
moment of passion, committed a murder.  Falkland confesses the crime to
Caleb, and tells him that henceforth he shall always suspect him, and
keep watch over him.  Caleb finds this watchfulness insupportable, and
tries to escape, but without success.  He writes a touching letter to his
patron, imploring him to let him go, and promising never to betray him.
The scene where Falkland refuses this is the most highly wrought in the
book.  He says to him, "Do not imagine that I am afraid of you; I wear an
armour against which all your weapons are impotent.  I have dug a pit for
you: and whichever way you move, backward or forward, to the right or the
left, it is ready to swallow you.  Be still!  If once you fall, call as
loud as you will, no man on earth shall hear your cries: prepare a tale
however plausible or however true, the whole world shall execrate you for
an impostor.  Your innocence shall be of no service to you.  I laugh at
so feeble a defence.  It is I that say it: you may believe what I tell
you.  Do you know, miserable wretch!" added he, stamping on the ground
with fury, "that I have sworn to preserve my reputation, whatever be the
expense; that I love it more than the whole world and its inhabitants
taken together? and do you think that you shall wound it?"  The rest of
the book shows how this threat was executed.

{168} Alluding to Buchanan's election.

{178a} Shelton Mackenzie, in a note to the 'Noctes' of July 1822, gives
the following saying of Maginn, one of the principal lights of the club:
'No man, however much he might tend to civilisation, was to be regarded
as having absolutely reached its apex until he was drunk.'  He also
records it as a further joke of the club, that a man's having reached
this apex was to be tested by his inability to pronounce the word
'civilisation,' which, he says, after ten o'clock at night ought to be
abridged to civilation, 'by syncope, or vigorously speaking by hic-cup.'

{178b} Vol. v. pp.61, 75.

{181}  These italics are ours.

{190a} This little incident shows the characteristic carefulness and
accuracy of Lady Byron's habits.  This statement was written fourteen
years after the events spoken of; but Lady Byron carefully quotes a
passage from her mother's letter written at that time.  This shows that a
copy of Lady Milbanke's letter had been preserved, and makes it appear
probable that copies of the whole correspondence of that period were also
kept.  Great light could be thrown on the whole transaction, could these
documents be consulted.

{190b} Here, again, Lady Byron's sealed papers might furnish light.  The
letters addressed to her at this time by those in constant intercourse
with Lord Byron are doubtless preserved, and would show her ground of

{192} Probably Lady Milbanke's letters are among the sealed papers, and
would more fully explain the situation.

{205a} Hunt's Byron, p.77. Philadelphia, 1828.

{205b} From the Temple Bar article, October 1869.  'Mrs. Leigh, Lord
Byron's sister, had other thoughts of Mrs. Clermont, and wrote to her
offering public testimony to her tenderness and forbearance under
circumstances which must have been trying to any friend of Lady
Byron.'--Campbell, in the New Monthly Magazine, 183O, p.38O.

{219} 'My Recollections,' p.238.

{225} Vol. vi.  p.242.

{227} The reader is here referred to the remarks of 'Blackwood' on 'Don
Juan' in Part III.

{258} The article in question is worth a careful reading.  Its industry
and accuracy in amassing evidence are worthy attention.

{320a} Probably 'The Christian Aspects of Faith and Duty.'  Mr. Tayler
has also written 'A Retrospect of the Religious Life of England.'

{320b} 'The National Review.'

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