LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Astarte: a Fragment of Truth

I. Byron Characteristics
II. Three Stages of Lord Byron’s Life
III. Manfred
IV. Correspondence of Augusta Byron
V. Anne Isabella Byron
VI. Lady Byron’s Policy of Silence
VII. Informers and Defamers
VIII. “When We Dead Awake”
IX. Lady Byron and Mrs. Leigh (I)
X. Lady Byron and Mrs. Leigh (II)
XI. Byron and Augusta
Notes by the Editor
‣ Appendix
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Extract From Colonel Francis Hastings Doyle’s Letter to Robert John Wilmot Horton about the burning of the Memoirs.
Montague Square, May 18th, 1825.

I CERTAINLY did consider myself as, in some degree, representing Lady Byron at the meeting which took place at Murray’s. Lady Byron told me at Beckenham, I think the day before, that she had received some communication from Mr Hobhouse on the subject of this manuscript—to the effect, as well as I recollect, that Mr Moore was disposed to deliver it up to Lord Byron’s family, and that it was very desirable to obtain it from him—and Lady Byron then requested me to act for her, in the event of its being necessary for her to do anything in the matter. I came to town immediately afterwards but certainly without any expectation that I should be called upon to take any steps in the business till I had heard further from her—I found, however, to my surprise that Mr Moore was waiting at my house with a view of speaking to me on the subject. . . .

The only thing in his conversation material to the present point, was that he ended by saying to me, that altho in his opinion many parts of the memoirs might be published without impropriety, yet if Lord Byron’s family thought otherwise he was ready to deliver up the whole—he begged me, however, distinctly to bear in mind that by the words “Lord Byron’s family” he must be understood not to mean Lady Byron or to include her, as he seemed to think it might not be considered honorable on his part under the circumstances to deliver up papers to her which had been confided to him by Lord Byron, but he appeared to apply the term more particularly to Mrs Leigh. This conversation I communicated to you almost immediately afterwards, and I believe it corresponded with what Mr Moore had previously said to you. My going afterwards to Murray’s was quite accidental—you called upon me and requested me to accompany you there, which I did. What passed there it is unnecessary for me to repeat as you were present. I will only observe, however, that Mr Moore having expressly stated to me that he would not deliver up the manuscript to Lady Byron, but that he would place it entirely at
Mrs Leigh’s disposal, I did not consider myself as having any power on the part of Lady Byron to oppose or sanction any particular disposition of it which Mrs Leigh might think proper to make, and when you signified her wish that it should be destroyed—I regarded myself only as a witness and not as a party to the proceeding. Lady Byron certainly gave no consent to the destruction of the manuscript either directly or indirectly—she never could have known that it was intended to destroy it because I believe that intention was communicated for the first time at the meeting in question: The point at issue before us was not whether the Manuscript should be destroyed but whether it should be suppressed—or partially published.


THE following lines, referred to on pp. 34, 35, 36, are taken from a copy which belonged to Lady Byron:

I speak not—I trace not—I breathe not thy name—
There is love in the sound—there is Guilt in the fame—
But the tear which now burns on my cheek may impart
The deep thoughts that dwell in that silence of heart.
Too brief for our passion—too long for our peace—
Was that hour—can it’s hope—can its memory cease?1
We repent—we abjure—we will break from our chain
We must part—we must fly to—unite it again!
Oh! thine be the gladness—and mine be the Guilt
Forgive me—adored one—forsake—if thou wilt—
But the heart which is thine shall expire undebased
And Man shall not break it whatever thou may’st.
Oh! proud to the mighty—but humble to thee
This soul in it’s bitterest moments shall be
And our days glide as swift—and our moments more sweet
With thee at my side—than the world at my feet.
One tear of thy sorrow—one smile of thy love
Shall turn me or fix—shall reward or reprove—
And the heartless may wonder at all I resign
Thy lip shall reply—not to them—but to mine—

1 The manuscript is not altogether easy to decipher at this place. The line is substituted for an erased line which ought perhaps to be read:
“Were the minutes—whence hours can never release.”


The first three lines of the 5th stanza were first written:
And thine is that love which I would not forego
Though that heart may be bought by Eternity’s woe
But if thine too must suffer—Oh! take it again,1
and then erased and replaced by the four lines which are nearly identical with the printed version.


Opening Lines To “Lara.”
she is
WHEN thou art gone—the loved, the lost—the one
Whose smile hath gladdened though perchance undone—
Whose name too dearly cherished to impart
Dies on the lip but trembles in the heart;
Whose very mention can almost convulse
lightens through
And fires to speed the ungovernable pulse—
so keenly
Till the heart leaps responsive to the word
that hardly
We fear its throb can scarcely beat unheard—
Then sinks at once beneath that sickly chill
That follows when we find her absent still—
such is
When thou art gone—too far again to bless—
Oh God—how slowly comes Forgetfulness—
Let none complain how idle-and how brief
brain’s remembrance— bosom’s
The mourner’s memory—or the lover’s grief—
Or e’er they thus forbid us to forget—
Let Mercy strip the memory of regret,—
Yet—selfish still—we would not be forgot—
What lip
O-who-dare say—“my Love—remember not,—”

1 Compare:

“Say that thou loath’st me not—that I do bear
This punishment for both—that thou wilt be
One of the blessed—and that I shall die”
(P. 75; quoted from “Manfred.”)
Aurora dearest
Oh best—and dearest—thou whose thrilling name—
My heart adores too deeply to proclaim—
My memory almost ceasing to repine
Would mount to Hope if once secure of thine.—
Meantime the tale I weave must mournful be—
lives on
As absence to the heart that pants for thee.—


Stanzas to Augusta.
WHEN all around grew drear and dark,
And reason half withheld her ray—
And hope but shed a dying spark
Which more misled my lonely way;
In that deep midnight of the mind,
And that internal strife of heart,
When dreading to be deem’d too kind,
The weak despair—the cold depart;
When fortune changed—and love fled far,
And hatred’s shafts flew thick and fast,
Thou wert the solitary star
Which rose and set not to the last.
Oh! blest be thine unbroken light!
That watch’d me as a seraph’s eye,
And stood between me and the night,
For ever shining sweetly nigh.
And when the cloud upon us came,
Which strove to blacken o’er thy ray—
Then purer spread its gentle flame
And dash’d the darkness all away.
Still may thy spirit dwell on mine,
And teach it what to brave or brook—
There’s more in one soft word of thine
Than in the world’s defied rebuke.
Thou stood’st, as stands a lovely tree,
That still unbroke, though gently bent,
Still waves with fond fidelity.
Its boughs above a monument.
The winds might rend—the skies might pour,
But there thou wert—and still wouldst be
Devoted in the stormiest hour
To shed thy weeping leaves o’er me.
But thou and thine shall know no blight
Whatever fate on me may fall;
For heaven in sunshine will requite
The kind—and thee the most of all.
Then let the ties of baffled love
Be broken—thine will never break;
Thy heart can feel—but will not move;
Thy soul, though soft, will never shake.
And these, when all was lost beside,
Were found, and still are fix’d in thee;—
And bearing still a breast so tried,
Earth is no desert—ev’n to me.

Extract From “Childe Harold.” Canto 3.
AND there was one soft breast, as hath been said,
Which unto his was bound by stronger ties
Than the church link’d withal; and—though unwed,
That love was pure—and far above disguise,
Had stood the test of mortal enmities
Still undivided, and cemented more
By peril, dreaded most in female eyes;
But this was firm, and from a foreign shore
Well to that heart might his these absent greetings pour!
The castled Crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o’er the wide and winding Rhine,
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine,
And hills all rich with blossomed trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine,
And scattered cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strewed a scene, which I should see
With double joy wert thou with me.
And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes,
And hands which offer early flowers,
Walk smiling o’er this Paradise;
Above, the frequent feudal towers
Through many green leaves lift their walls of gray;
And many a rock which steeply lowers,
And noble arch in proud decay,
Look o’er this vale of vintage-bowers;
But one thing want these banks of Rhine,—
Thy gentle hand to clasp in mine!
I send the lilies given to me—
Though long before thy hand they touch,
I know that they must withered be,
But yet reject them not as such;
For I have cherished them as dear,
Because they yet may meet thine eye,
And guide thy soul to mine even here,
When thou behold’st them drooping nigh,
And know’st them gathered by the Rhine,
And offered from my heart to thine!
The river nobly foams and flows—
The charm of this enchanted ground,
And all its thousand turns disclose
Some fresher beauty varying round;
The haughtiest breast its wish might bound
Through life to dwell delighted here;
Nor could on earth a spot be found
To Nature and to me so dear—
Could thy dear eyes in following mine
Still sweeten more these banks of Rhine!1

1 Mary Godfrey wrote to Thomas Moore, Dec. 24th, 1816: “How do you like Lord Byron’s last gloomy productions? He now comes out openly and fairly—the hero of his own tale.

“Some people say those pretty lines, from the banks of the Rhine, are addressed to his sister. Others will not allow that they can be addressed to a sister.”—Moore’s Correspondence, viii. 222.


Epistle to Augusta.
MY sister! my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine;
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine;1
Go where I will to me thou are the same—
A loved regret which I would not resign,
There yet are two things in my destiny—
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.2
The first were nothing—had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness;
But other claims and other ties thou hast,
And mine is not the wish to make them less.
A strange doom is thy father’s son’s, and past
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
Reversed for him our grandsire’s fate of yore,
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.
If my inheritance of storms hath been
In other elements, and on the rocks
Of perils overlook’d or unforeseen,
I have sustain’d my share of worldly shocks,
The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen
My errors with defensive paradox;
I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
The careful pilot of my proper woe.
Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward,
My whole life was a contest, since the day
That gave me being, gave me that which marr’d
The gift,—a fate, or will, that walk’d astray;
And I at times have found the struggle hard,
And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
But now I fain would for a time survive,
If but to see what next can well arrive.

1 Compare: “a thousand loves—to you from me—which is very generous for I only ask one in return” (p. 79).

2 Compare: “What a fool I was to marry—and you not very wise—my dear—we might have lived so single and so happy—as old maids and bachelors . . . we are just formed to pass our lives together” (p. 79).

Kingdoms and empire in my little day
I have outlived, and yet I am not old;
And when I look on this, the petty spray
Of my own years of trouble, which have roll’d
Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:
Something—I know not what—doth still uphold
A spirit of slight patience;—not in vain
Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.
Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
Within me,—or perhaps a cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur,—
Perhaps a kinder clime or purer air,
(For even to this may change of soul refer,
And with light armour we may learn to bear,)
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.
I feel almost at times as I have felt
In happy childhood; trees and flowers and brooks
Which do remember me of where I dwelt
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks;
And even at moments I could think I see
Some living thing to love—but none like thee.1
Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
A fund for contemplation;—to admire
Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;
But something worthier do such scenes inspire:
Here to be lonely is not desolate,
For much I view which I could most desire,
And, above all, a lake I can behold
Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.
Oh that thou wert but with me!—2 but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise in this but one regret;

1 Compare in Manfred: “I have wander’d o’er the earth, And never found thy likeness” (p. 75); and p. 79: “I shall never find any one like you.”

2 Compare: “I wish you were in it [this paradise of wilderness] with me and everyone else out of it” (p. 78):
“The sole companion of his wanderings
And watchings”
(“Manfred.” See p. 71.)

There may be others which I less may show;—
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
And the tide rising in my alter’d eye.
I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,
By the old Hall which may be mine no more.
Leman’s is fair; but think not I forsake
The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore:
Sad havoc Time must with my memory make,
Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before;
Though, like all things which I have loved, they are
Resign’d for ever, or divided far.
The world is all before me; I but ask
Of Nature that with which she will comply—
It is but in her summer’s sun to bask,
To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
To see her gentle face without a mask,
And never gaze on it with apathy.
She was my early friend, and now shall be
My sister—till I look again on thee.
I can reduce all feelings but this one;
And that I would not;—for at length I see
Such scenes as those wherein my life begun.
The earliest—even the only paths for me—,
Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be;
The passions which have torn me would have slept;
I had not suffer’d, and thou hadst not wept.1
With false Ambition what had I to do?
Little with Love, and least of all with Fame;
And yet they came unsought, and with me grew.
And made me all which they can make—a name.
Yet this was not the end I did pursue;
Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
But all is over—I am one the more
To baffled millions who have gone before.
And for the future, this world’s future may
From me demand but little of my care;
I have outlived myself by many a day;
Having survived so many things that were;

1 Compare: “What is she now? a sufferer for my sins” (quoted at p. 73 from “Manfred”).

My years have been no slumber, but the prey
Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share
Of life which might have fill’d a century,
Before its fourth in time had pass’d me by.
And for the remnant which may be to come
I am content; and for the past I feel
Not thankless,—for within the crowded sum
Of struggles, happiness at times would steal
And for the present I would not benumb
My feelings further.—Nor shall I conceal
That with all this I still can look around
And worship Nature with a thought profound.
For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I know myself secure, as thou in mine;
We were and are—I am, even as thou art—
Beings who ne’er each other can resign;1
It is the same, together or apart,
From life’s commencement to its slow decline
We are entwined—let death come slow or fast,
The tie which bound the first endures the last!


(Mrs. Villiers’s Copy of Miss Mercer Elphinstone’s surreptitious copy, from proof lent by Murray to a friend of Miss Mercer Elphinstone.)

Stanzas to —— [Augusta].
Differences in the Printed Version given in the Margin.
THO’ the day of my destiny’s over
And the star of my fate had declined—
Thy soft heart refused to discover
The faults which so many could find—
Tho’ thy soul with my grief was acquainted
It shrunk not to share it with me—
And the love which my spirit hath painted
It never hath found but in thee—2

1 Compare: “We are the last persons in the world—who ought—or could cease to love one another——”

“I am by a crowd of circumstances removed from the only being who could ever have loved me—or whom I can unmixedly feel attached to——” (pp. 78, 79).

2 Compare:
“her whom of all earthly things
That lived, the only thing he seem’d to love,—
As he, indeed, by blood was bound to do,
The lady Astarte, his——”
(“Manfred,” quoted at p. 71.

Then when nature around me is smiling
The last smile which answers to mine
I will* not believe it beguiling *do not
Because it reminds me of thine—
And when winds are at war with the Ocean
As the breasts I believ’d in with me—
If their billows excite an emotion
It is that they bear me from thee1
Tho’ the rock of my lost* hope is shivered *my last hope
And its fragments are sunk in the wave
Tho’ I feel that my Soul is delivered
To pain—it shall not be its slave—
There is many a pang to pursue me
They may crush but they shall not condemn* *contemn
They may torture but shall not subdue me
’Tis of thee that I think—not of them—
Tho’ human—thou didst not deceive me—
Tho’ woman—thou didst not forsake—
Tho’ loved—thou forborest to grieve me—
Tho’ slandered—thou never couldst shake—
Tho’ trusted—thou didst not betray* me *disclaim me
Tho’ parted—it was not to fly—
Tho’ watchful ‘twas not to defame me—
Nor mute—that the World might belie—
Yet I blame not the World—nor despise it—
Nor the War of the many with one—
If my Soul was not fitted to prize it
’Twas folly not sooner to shun—
And if dearly that error hath cost me—
And more than I once could foresee
I have found that whatever it lost me
It could not deprive me of thee—
From the wreck of the past which has* perished *hath perish’d
Thus much I at least may recall
It hath taught me that what I most cherished
Deserved to be dearer* than all. *dearest of all

1 Compare: “who see nothing in England but the country which holds you—or around it but the sea which divides us” (p. 83).

In the Desert a fountain is springing—
In the wild* waste there still is a Tree *in the wide waste
And a bird in the Solitude singing
Which speaks to my Spirit of thee!—1

[Appendix H, containing passages from M. Paul Bourget’s writings applicable to the Byron drama, is omitted. See Introduction, pp. vi.—vii.]

Extracts from theSaturday Review,” September 4th to December 25th, 1869.3
September 4th, 1869.

THE great Byron mystery has been revealed on authority which, not so much by reason of any confidence which we give to the authenticator of the history, as on the intrinsic and internal evidence of the history itself, we are compelled, though not without some natural misgiving and reluctance, to accept. Mrs. Beecher Stowe tells us her ghastly story in the pages of “Macmillan’s Magazine,” the editor of which congratulates himself upon being selected as the organ of gratifying the curiosity and interest of the world. We envy neither this gentleman nor his contributor their very peculiar topics of congratulation.

1 In July, 1816, these stanzas were shown (probably by Madame de Staël to Elizabeth Hervey, who wrote about them (in the same letter which is quoted at pp. 17, 18):

“But to show you his inconsistency, whilst pretending to mourn his separation from your friend, he has filled three Pages of paper not forming a part of ‘Childe Harold’ with tender effusions addressed to another woman, whom he says, he has ever found true and faithful to him, who is ever in his thoughts, and when forsaken by others, from her alone he derives consolation! Pray who is this paragon?”

2 The lettering of this Appendix in the original edition is retained.

3 These able and eloquent pages are still of interest, being one of the very few bright spots in a dreary tangle of misrepresentation. It would be unfortunate if the identity of the acute Saturday essayist were lost, now that former services to a just cause ought to be recognized.

[After the publication of “Astarte” the author was told, on the authority of Mr. Watts Dunton, that these articles had been written by Mrs. Lynn-Linton. This was a mistake. I have now learnt that they were the work of the Rev. William Scott (1813—1872), one of the founders of the Saturday Review. The articles in Temple Bar (afterwards published as the “Vindication of Lady Byron ”) were by Mr. John Fox (1800—1880).

By the kindness of Sir John Charles Fox, Senior Master of the Chancery Division (son of Mr. John Fox), I have seen correspondence between these two gentlemen which puts the authorship of their above-named writings quite beyond a doubt.—Ed.]


We shall not be at the trouble of giving an abstract or abridgement of Mrs. Stowe’s story. Not one of our readers can be ignorant of its substance, which is that the cause of the separation of Lord and Lady Byron was the discovery by the wife of an adulterous and incestuous connection existing between her husband and the only woman in the world with whom he could commit that crime. Her position towards Lord Byron was that of Tamar to her half-brother Amnon. Mrs. Stowe tells us “that the whole history of Lord and Lady Byron in its reality has long been perfectly understood in many circles in England.” Mrs. Stowe always writes in a loose, careless, inaccurate way, and in this instance she moreover indulges in very bad taste in telling her story. . . . We are sorry to say that we believe it to be the true one. . . . The very first time it was ever announced in print was three months before Mrs. Stowe’s publication. In an able and interesting paper published in the “Temple Bar Magazine” of June last on “Lord Byron’s Married Life,”1 as far as we know, this crime of incest was first publicly charged on Lord Byron, and we are bound to say that that article, remarkable for ability, good taste, and right feeling, has had far more effect in compelling us to the conclusion that this is the true solution of the mystery than Mrs. Stowe’s very unpleasant narrative, or any confidence which we repose in a writer so inaccurate, and in other ways so positively repellent, as the authoress of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Again, we say, we accept this version, not on account of the external evidence which is brought to support it, so much as on its internal probability. . . .

Is the story, through whatever unpleasant channel it reaches us, true? Have we got the solution of the great mystery? For the truth of the story is quite independent of the particular form, which is unsatisfactory enough, in which we receive it. As we have already hinted, we think, though we think it with reluctance, that the balance of probability is on the whole much in its favour. It is intrinsically probable, and something more than probable, not only from internal evidence but from the whole cloud of small corroborative external details, not one of which perhaps is in itself conclusive, but the cumulative force of which taken together seems to be irresistible. The argument is of a critical nature, and though possibly weak in this or that single link, becomes very impressive from the multitude of indirect and casual illustrations and slight confirmations of which it is capable. . . .

We have gone through Moore’s Memoirs relating to this period, 1813-1815, and it is unquestionable and undeniable that it affords

1 See “Astarte,” pp. 113, 143 and 161.

great corroboration to
Mrs. Stowe’s—or Lady Byron’s—narrative. Byron’s life up to that time had been bad enough; but now there appears something secret, mysterious, and hidden, a frequent reference to some especial guilt and agony, which shows that something had happened very different from all that had happened before; some guilt different in kind from the unclean and coarse and drunken life of the previous years. It is not so much on what Byron says, as on what he hints, that we found this judgement. There is, we all know, in cases of great sin a strange, unnatural, or perhaps natural, dallying and playing round the fatal secret. It is concealed perhaps, but it is always on the very point of being revealed, as though, which is perhaps true, there were some horrid fascination in crime which all but compels the criminal to avow it. Read by the lurid light of Mrs. Stowe’s narrative, what Byron said in his letters to Moore at this time, what he inserted in his Diary, and the poems which he wrote, become of the highest interest and significance. . . .

From other notices, the exchange of books and letters, we find that he was in daily communication with his half-sister. May 4th, he sent Moore a song, which, by the way, was never published till after his death, which seems at this time significant:
“I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name,
There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame;
* * *
Too brief for our passion, too long for our peace
Were those hours—can their joy or their bitterness cease?
We repent—we abjure—we will break from our chain,
We will part—we will fly—to unite it again!
Oh! thine be the gladness and mine be the guilt,” etc., etc.

As we have said, not one of these expressions is conclusive, but taken together they become important.

We now come to the separation. . . . Dr. Lushington, who had at first thought a reconciliation probable, on further information communicated by Lady Byron, altered his opinion, declared it to be “impossible,” and added that if such an idea should be entertained, he could not, professionally or otherwise, take any part towards effecting it.” The writer in “Temple Bar,” to whose acute paper, published three months before Mrs. Stowe’s, we have already done justice, argues with great force that whatever the offence in Lord Byron’s case was, it must have been in the eyes of this great ecclesiastical lawyer equivalent to that which the House of Lords had in a celebrated judgement declared to be of
such an aggravated nature that “duty to God and man” made reconciliation impossible. That offence was incest.1 . . .

As soon as Byron was clear of England, he wrote the famous verses “To Augusta,” which were never published till after his death, beginning,
“My sister, my sweet sister.”
It is certainly open to anybody to say that it might be only fraternal love which dictated the very strong language of this remarkable poem; it is also certain on the other hand, that, read by the light of
Lady Byron’s story, these strange lines are also susceptible of a very different and blacker interpretation. As we have said before, taken by itself, this poem concludes nothing; taken in connection with other things, it seems to mean a good deal. The person to whom they were addressed, it must not be forgotten, had a husband, and, as the “Peerage” tells us, “issue.” Poets may address their sisters in very affectionate language, but they seldom talk of living, and living for ever, with a married woman, even though she may be a favourite half-sister:

“Go where I will, to me thou art the same,
A loved regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny—
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.
The first were nothing—had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness;
. . . . even at moments I could think I see
Some living thing to love, but none like thee.
* * *
Oh! that thou wert but with me!
* * *
Had I but sooner learnt . . . .
I had been better than I now can be;
The passions which have torn me would have slept,
I had not suffered, and thou hadst not wept.
* * *
We were, and are—I am, even as thou art—
Beings who ne’er each other can resign;
* * *
We are entwined, let death come slow or fast.”

Byron’s first literary work after the separation was to write “Manfred,” a ghastly tale, the interest of which centres on incest. We are quite aware that poets and dramatists are not to be identified with the characters or plots which they draw. Racine

1 See “Astarte,” p. 143.

wrote “
Phèdre,” but this is no proof that he or any other tragedian practised the vices of the characters which he draws. We certainly cannot agree with Mrs. Stowe’s wild assertion that “anybody who reads ‘Manfred’ with this story in his mind will see that it”—the story, we suppose—“is true.” But when it is said, on the other hand, as has been said by a writer in the “Times,” “that it is almost impossible that a man with the secret of incest on his soul would have written ‘Manfred,’” we should say, for the psychological reason to which we have already referred, this is a very likely thing for him to do.

September 11th, 1869.

. . . Those who, like ourselves, have, with whatever reluctance, been driven to the conclusion that on the whole the charge made against Lord Byron is likely to be true, because the moral probabilities against its truth seem to be outweighed by the probabilities, however disagreeable, for its truth, can treat with contemptuous indifference the tedious iteration of the paralogism that Lord Byron could not have committed a certain crime because he wrote very fine poems. And yet the majority of the writers in the newspapers harp upon no other string. For ourselves, we shall not enter into controversy with fervid undergraduates, who in the middle of the Long Vacation date from Trinity College, Oxford, nor with the impertinent and utterly untrue suggestion of another newspaper correspondent, that the writer on Byron’s life in “Temple Bar” and the writer in the “Saturday Review” are one and the same; but we content ourselves with reviewing the case as it stands at the moment. . . .

Mrs. Stowe has been guilty of a scandalous breach of faith as regards Lady Byron, and of extremely bad taste. . . . We are not of those who think that the publication of the true story of Byron would be in itself harmful; rather the reverse. Our objection is to the time and the manner, not to the matter. The greater Byron’s fame and powers, the greater right has the world to know the true man. But that revelation, we think, ought to have been made in 1816; it ought to have been made by Lady Byron herself, or at any rate on her express and undoubted authority, and by those commissioned to execute this stern judicial act. But to get it at this time, and in this indirect and surreptitious way, in a form so nauseous, from such a source, and for such objects, is a proceeding which we are glad to say has met with almost universal indignation, contempt and condemnation. . . .

We dismiss very rapidly the “hallucination” theory. Its
controversial value seems, in the eyes of the newspaper correspondents, chiefly to depend on the importance which they attach to a sonorous polysyllable. We do not profess altogether to understand an hallucination of any sort, certainly not of this sort—an hallucination which involves so horrible a charge, and which surrounds such a charge with all sorts of minute, and perfectly unnecessary, details.
Lady Byron’s character, as she and her friends give it, is one with which we do not altogether sympathize; indeed, we rather dislike, because perhaps we are unable to realize it. But that her character was very peculiar Lady Anne Barnard1 shows as clearly as Mrs. Stowe does. That character, be it what it may, is one, we should say, prima facie, least capable of being led away by, or indulging in an hallucination—whatever hallucinations may be. The upshot of the whole matter and the final alternative is this: Either we must accept this hallucination theory, or we must accept Lady Byron’s story. Further than this the matter cannot be carried.

September 25th, 1869.

The question is whether what Lady Byron communicated to Mrs. Stowe in 1856 is at variance with what she communicated to Lady Anne Barnard in 1816; and further, whether an absolute impossibility is established that Lady Byron could, at the time of the separation in 1816, have entertained the particular charge which she preferred in 1856. . . .

I. The carriage scene on the wedding-day. In our last article we adduced reasons for coming to the very opposite conclusion from Lord Lindsay’s on this matter. We still assert that there is no substantial difference between the two accounts. To establish their inconsistency they should both be authenticated by the same narrator at first hand. If we had two documents, one written by Lady Byron in 1816, and another written by Lady Byron in 1856, and if we found Lady Byron writing one thing in

1 Lady Byron’s communications to Lady Anne Barnard were all made in 1816—not 1818 as was incorrectly stated by Lord Lindsay in a letter (September 3rd, 1869) to the “Times.”

Lady Byron saw Lady Anne Barnard in September, 1816, at the beginning (not the end) of a severe two months’ illness which kept Lady Anne in bed till November. After recovery, Lady Anne wrote (November 28th, 1816) to Lady Byron about the third Canto of “Childe Harold.” Lady Byron’s answer (printed by Lord Lindsay in 1869) was dated December 2nd, 1816, as is proved by the draft in her own handwriting, and the inaccuracy of shifting the date by two years tends to reduce Lord Lindsay’s authority on this subject within modest proportions.

1816 and another in 1856, we should say that there was an inconsistency. What, however, we have is the account of two narrators, each giving the substance of two different oral communications; and we maintain that the differences are so slight, and the general agreement so complete between the two versions, that the separate accounts confirm, rather than confute, each other. In other words, we apply to these two documents the familiar method by which history and criticism are enabled to reconcile narratives of the same facts which come to us through different channels. . . .

Many writers—from whom we select the vigorous writer of a high-toned letter in the “Times,”—“A Reader of Byron’s Letters,”1 which appeared in the same number with Lord Lindsay’s second letter—declare that the accusation of incest with his half-sister was known to all Byron’s familiar associates. Our own inquiries among those who were Byron’s contemporaries bear out this very important assertion. The charge, whether true or false, dates from 1816, not from 1856. Lord Lindsay proceeds: Lady Byron could not have entertained belief in her husband’s incest in 1816, because, . . . in talking and writing to Lady Anne Barnard, no trace of the charge exists . . . we are surprised that a person of Lord Lindsay’s good sense cannot see that Lady Byron’s half-confidence given to Lady Anne &c. . . . prove absolutely nothing. We can quite understand, and we see a score of reasons for the fact, that Lady Byron, generally speaking, never told the whole truth. Is it so very rare, or so very wrong a thing only to tell half the truth when to tell the whole truth would do a vast deal of harm? We can conceive a thousand conversations, letters, and documents emanating from Lady Byron which spoke of many troubles of the marriage, and yet said nothing of the incest. But a thousand or two thousand such documents would not show that there was not something behind, and worse, which, for reasons good or bad, Lady Byron still thought proper to hide. Lady Byron told Lady Anne many of her sorrows; therefore she told them all; therefore one greater sorrow never could have existed. Merely to state this weakest of all arguments, that to divulge half the truth is inconsistent with knowing the whole truth, is to confute it. Put a parallel case. A woman is robbed and ravished; there may be most forcible reasons why she should say nothing of the rape, though she often referred to the robbery. Therefore, because she always talked of the robbery, the rape never existed. This is Lord Lindsay’s argument. . . .

1 The same letter that is referred to in “Astarte,” p. 126.


Lord Lindsay goes on to express his belief that “Byron was hardly used in being denied a categorical answer to his rightful demand, Why have you cast me off?” To which we answer that there is no ground whatever for supposing that Byron did not know his wife’s grounds for enforcing the separation. What he complains of is, that he “never could get any specific charge in a tangible shape”; which he might well say—and there is no proof that he ever did more than say it—knowing that the challenge was a very cheap one, and that after the deed of separation it amounted to nothing, since his wife had got all by the separation that she wanted, and moreover had probably pledged herself, or anyhow had the strongest motives, to secrecy. And this is very important; had Byron been really sincere in his professed wish to have the matter fairly fought out and the whole thing judicially investigated, it was quite in his power to compel the wife to state her reasons and show her whole cause. Lord Byron might have declined to sign the separation deed, and then Lady Byron must have produced her case; but he signed it. And if he had persisted in his refusal to agree to the separation, and if Lady Byron had not given her reasons, he must have known very well that it was always open to him to institute a suit for the restitution of conjugal rights, which would have brought out the specific charges in a most tangible shape. That he did not take that course shows that he dared not; and in the1 teeth of this fact we set little store upon the mere talk about his wish and anxiety for the real reasons on which Lady Byron acted.

Into Lord Lindsay’s remaining argument we must decline to follow him. It is the merely popular ad captandum talk, that let Lord Byron be what he may, let all the evidence be on one side, we will not examine it. He dwells in the love of the British people; his genius is a star which no malignant vapours can obscure; we must give Byron credit for not having been a malignant demon, because we do not like to believe it. This sort of bombast reflects as little credit on our estimate of morality as it does on our critical sagacity. . . a fiendish mockery of good, a persistent and malignant hatred of virtue, yet a belief in it, and a concentrated venomous delight in scoffing at what mankind has been taught to believe to be the noble, the virtuous, the just, the beautiful, and the true, make up the Byron of Byron’s works and Byron’s letters. The Byron of the “True Story” is the complement of the Byron of “Don Juan”; it just reveals and completes the whole character. After the glorious ode, “The Isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece,” which stirs the heart like a trumpet, Byron goes on in the very next stanza:
“His strain displayed some feeling—right or wrong:
And feeling in a poet is the source
Of others’ feeling: but they are such liars,
And take all colours—like the hands of dyers.”
On this fiendish mock and sneer, worthy of
Goethe’s demon, Jeffrey remarks by characterizing it as “a strain of cold-blooded ribaldry, in which all good feelings are excited only to accustom us to their speedy and complete extinction, and we are brought back from their transient and theatrical exhibition to the staple and substantial doctrine of the work, the non-existence of constancy in woman or honour in man, and the folly of expecting to meet with any such virtues or of cultivating them for an unbelieving world.”1 The Byronic Gospel of Hell could not have

1 “‘Don Juan’ indeed has great power; but its power is owing to the force of the serious writing, and to the oddity of the contrast between that and the flashy passages with which it is interlarded. . . . He hallows in order to desecrate; takes a pleasure in defacing the images of beauty his hands have wrought; and raises our hopes and our belief in goodness to Heaven only to dash them to the earth again, and break them in pieces the more effectually from the very height they have fallen. Our enthusiasm for genius or virtue is thus turned into a jest by the very person who has kindled it, and who thus fatally quenches the sparks of both. It is not that Lord Byron is sometimes serious and sometimes trifling, sometimes profligate, and sometimes moral—but when he is most serious and most moral, he is only preparing to mortify the unsuspecting reader by putting a pitiful hoax upon him. This is a most unaccountable anomaly. It is as if the eagle were to build its eyry in a common sewer, or the owl were seen soaring to the mid-day sun. Such a sight might make one laugh, but one would not wish or expect it to occur more than once.” (Hazlitt, “Spirit of the Age.”)

An opposite criticism of great force is contained in a letter from the Rev. Frederick William Robertson to Lady Noel Byron, dated July 18, 1850:

“Nay, even that sarcasm & that bitter mode of turning into ridicule those feelings which at the beginning of a stanza he had put out so affectingly, & which had formed the whole tone of his earlier works—a bitterness which all the reviews of the day exclaimed against as unnatural &c. &c.—was to me in the last work an indication of returning nature, & a proof that experience had done her work. For what could Eve in Eden have learnt more impressively than that the Beauty & the Knowledge of which she had been enamoured were not the tree of life—that in those very feelings of romance of hers lay her chief danger—& that the voice which seemed to her an angel’s whisper was only a serpent’s hiss—when she found herself on the very verge of hell at the moment when she expected to be ‘as the Gods’? Nothing is to me more instructive & more mysteriously true to life than those sudden sneers in the midst of sublimities of feeling—as if to say—‘I know what all this means & how it ends—and yet how beautiful it is to feel!’”

And the late distinguished reviewer, G. S. Venables, Q.C., considered (in the “Fortnightly Review,” August, 1883) that: “Don Juan, another and a pleasanter reflection of his own personality, may, perhaps, have indicated an approach to a more healthy conception of life.”

been more summarily or more completely described than in this famous language of Jeffrey.

* * *

The only other contribution to this Byron-Stowe literature which takes an ambitious line is a pamphlet originally published in the “Standard,” and authenticated by Mr. Alfred Austin, under the title of “A Vindication of Lord Byron.” Mr. Austin has certainly succeeded in closing all controversy with ourselves; but his admirers, among whom he is himself the chief, may judge of his powers to conduct any critical controversy by the following comic specimen:

“The argument that if an allusion to incest can be construed out of any passage of ‘Manfred,’ everybody must see that Mrs. Stowe’s story is true, and that Byron must have committed incest with his sister [an argument never adduced by any one out of Bedlam or, as far as we know, in Bedlam], may be dismissed with the remark that, if it is good for anything, it is good to show that Byron committed murder as well . . . whereas even Mrs. Stowe’s fabulous account of poor Mrs. Leigh bears testimony to the fact that she was murdered neither by her brother nor by anybody.” Why? because in “Manfred” the incestuous sister Astarte is murdered by Manfred, the proof of such murder being contained in the following passage:
Manfred. I loved her, and destroyed her.
Witch. With thy hand?
Manfred. Not with my hand, but heart—which broke her heart;
It gazed on mine, and withered. I have shed
Blood, but not hers—and yet her blood was shed;
I saw—and could not stanch it.”
Even a child can see that the murder which Manfred owns to was a metaphorical one, the murder of a broken heart, the blood anything but material and arterial, in shedding which the metaphorical sister-slayer used “not his hand but heart.” What Astarte died of was not a stabbed, but a broken heart. The expressions are figurative throughout.

This mention of “Manfred” enables us to refer to a minor point on which we have been, not misunderstood, but wilfully misrepresented. We never said that, because Byron made incest the subject of one of the first works that he wrote after the separation, therefore he committed incest. We expressly observed that to say this would be as ridiculous as to say that Racine committed incest because he wrote the “Phèdre.” What we did say was, that it furnished an indirect, not conclusive, but very noticeable, indication of the state of mind in which Byron
wrote this tragedy on incest; that there was some secret, mysterious, and unavowed cause for his special interest in the subject of “Manfred” at that time. Passages have been produced from Byron’s letters to show that “Manfred” has nothing to do with
Mrs. Leigh. Byron, we are told, says that “the germs of ‘Manfred’ are to be found in the journal which he sent to Mrs. Leigh before he left Switzerland.” And, it is asked, “if the germs were already known to Mrs. Leigh, why inform her of them in a journal?” The answer is obvious; the germs in the journal were the sketches of scenery and the external accompaniments of the drama; the moral germ was something very different. We have already said that it is a very striking and perhaps significant thing that Byron, writing to Murray in 1817, says, speaking of the supposed origin of “Manfred,” “The conjecturer is out and knows nothing of the matter. I had a better origin than he can devise or divine for the soul of him.1 We will add another passage which we have more recently discovered in the Byron Correspondence. Writing to Murray, the 7th of June, 1820, Byron expressly anticipates and confutes the objection that the scenery of the Alps was all that suggested “Manfred.” “I never read the ‘Faust’; but it was the Steinbach [Staubbach?— L.] and the Jungfrau, and something else, much more than Faustus, that made me write ‘Manfred.’” Perhaps somebody will tell us what he thinks this “something else,” this “better origin than any conjecturer can devise or divine” for “Manfred,” was. Byron himself, in 1820, admits that he had “some difficulty in extricating himself from ‘Manfred.’” Of course the two passages do not prove the incest; but, slipping out in this accidental way, these dark references to some mysterious and secret origin of “Manfred” are, in connection with the “True Story,” very remarkable things for Byron to have said.

1 This particular letter was communicated to Mrs. Leigh, who wrote about it to Lady Byron (August 5th, 1817):

“I have to relate—that I yesterday had 2 letters sent me to read to Mr M—— in one there was mention of a critique which had been sent upon M.[anfred] & a request to have part of it which had by mistake been omitted & which alluded to the ‘origin of this dreadful story’—that ‘whoever the Critic might be he was mistaken as he had a foundation for it which for ye Soul of him he could not divine’—I may not give you the words exactly—but that was the sense of the paragraph—& I don’t think there is any remedy for the object of his persecution—but it often occurs to me, that it is impossible any longer to remain silent to him—& only the fear of encreasing the evil has hitherto kept me so—sometimes I am inclined to remain so—& leave all to Providence—& yet I think it is wrong not to do any thing in one’s power to avert evils, at least any thing that is not wrong—& for my children’s sake I am more anxious than for myself individually.”

October 16th, 1869.

When Byron might have enforced a public investigation he submitted to a separation: when a public investigation was impossible he professed his willingness to take a course which he knew very well could not be taken.

Can any contradiction be more complete? Lady Byron plainly and unequivocally asserts that her husband consented to a separation only under the terror of the threat of going into Court. Lord Byron says that he all along, and up to the very last, offered to go into Court. The point, therefore, to which the issue is narrowed is simply this. Are we to believe Lord Byron or Lady Byron?

His whole life was one living lie;1 and yet we are asked to believe his assertion, backed as it is by no tittle of evidence, and in terms and in every detail contradicted by Lady Byron. What “the document” produced so ostentatiously in the “Academy2 tells us is only what we knew before, and what when known is absolutely worthless, and utterly beside the only question worth considering, which is simply this: Whether Lord Byron was guilty of the crime which undoubtedly his wife believed him to have committed; or whether Lady Byron herself invented—for the hallucination theory is simply puerile—a charge the blackness and guilt of which are not surpassed by the wickedness of the crime alleged.

October 23rd, 1869.

We are not at all surprised at the importance which is attached to the article on “the Byron Mystery” which appears in the

1 Or rather—was not the life of Byron an incontestable truth which was written down by impostors?—much as Chateaubriand once said of a greater than Byron: “La vie de Bonaparte était une vérité incontestable, que l’imposture s’était chargée d’écrire.”

2 The paper referred to was written by Lord Byron at the instigation of Matthew Gregory Lewis, who reported one of Brougham’s indiscretions, which ought not to have been noticed, and that Hobhouse and other friends had endeavoured to keep from Byron’s knowledge. On going to Byron one day in August, 1817, near Venice, Hobhouse “found Monk Lewis there and this paper just written and sealed—he, Byron—in a state of the greatest agitation calling on Hobhouse to prove that he had done everything to induce you [Lady Byron] to come into Court! & left ye room desiring Hobhouse to read ye Paper—that he, Hobhouse, had tried Heaven & Earth to persuade him not to give it to Monk Lewis (whom he abused) in vain—& that only the hour after it was gone, Byron expressed regret he had given and written it!” (The Honble. Mrs. Leigh to Lady Byron, April 17th, 1818.)

It was a ludicrous mistake of Byron’s that Brougham had been one of Lady Byron’s counsel, for which there never was any foundation. But in consequence of this blunder, Byron was always far more excited about Brougham’s misdeeds (which certainly were gross enough) than was called for by Brougham’s intrinsic importance.

Quarterly Review” just published. . . . A most able counsel has been engaged, and has spoken well to his brief, addressing the jury in the well-known free and imperious way in which an advocate hopes to convince public judgement on easy terms because he has easily convinced himself. We must remark, however, that unless he had imported some new, and we will at once admit startling, evidence into the case, there would be nothing to be said, except that the “Quarterly” Reviewer only repeats in better language and with the skill of a veteran practitioner, the talk which has been talked in the newspapers for the last six weeks. We have the same protest against the wickedness of meddling with the “world-wide fame and influence” of Byron, and the article, as a whole, though in very good language, only echoes our Tupper’s plea:
“Our English hearts and hearths must not endure
The poison-fumes of a sensation-story;
Nor an unproved tale, confused, impure,
Defraud us of our Byron’s classic glory.”
With some main particulars of the
Reviewer’s moral code, and therefore with his general estimate of Byron, we are in such direct conflict that we approach the whole subject, not only from different sides, but with different prepossessions. The Reviewer thinks that “Don Juan” is a work suited for “family use”; he thinks that “to test genius by morality is almost ludicrous”; and so far is he carried away by his admiration of “the true and noble qualities” of Byron—man as well as poet—that he ventures to misrepresent, as well as condescends to laugh at, those whose detestation of Byron’s life is only surpassed by their conviction that his writings as a whole “have a tendency to destroy all belief in the reality of virtue . . . that he has exerted all the powers of his powerful mind to convince his readers, both directly and indirectly, that all ennobling pursuits and disinterested virtues are mere deceits or illusions—hollow and despicable mockeries for the most part, and, at best, but laborious follies . . . that love, patriotism, valour, devotion, constancy, ambition, are all to be laughed at, disbelieved in, and despised.” . . . And we must remind the “Quarterly” Reviewer that when he denounces as cant and hypocrisy the ludicrous notion of testing genius by morality, what he must mean, if he has any meaning, is that in the presence of such genius as Byron has displayed we have no right to protest when that genius is employed only to represent all virtue as an illusion, and all truth and nobleness of soul as a thing to be mocked and insulted. We at least are not denouncing
Byron’s poetry because he has been charged with incest; but as we have felt, long before
Mrs. Stowe wrote, that Byron’s poetry as a whole was most mischievous, we certainly did not decline to investigate the “True Story” because Byron wrote “Childe Harold.”

This point, as we shall never agree with the “Quarterly Review” on its importance, we pass by, and proceed to the substance of the article. . . The “Quarterly” Reviewer admits that this story—i.e., the charge of incest—told by Lady Byron, was no delusion or illusion, the growth of her later years, but was the substance of the famous communication to Dr. Lushington in 1816. This is certainly clearing the ground, and the action is now at the closest quarters. But, says the “Quarterly” Reviewer, whatever Lady Byron stated, whether in 1816 or forty years later, in the way of a charge of incest inculpating Mrs. Leigh, was, and Lady Byron must have known it to be, false. Why? Because, at the very time of the separation the necessity of which Lady Byron based on this alleged incest, we find her writing in the most affectionate language to this very Mrs. Leigh whom she was charging at this very moment with this very incest. . . . The “Quarterly” Reviewer, therefore, argues that, whatever Lady Byron said to her legal advisers, she could have had no ground for it, and that her conduct can only be accounted for on the hypothesis of insanity or monomania. “There is no other hypothesis but insanity on which the moralist can charitably account for her conduct”; and then we are told of her “monomania” and “self-delusions.” The letters are certainly very remarkable . . . We are not going to extenuate the force of these letters; and we shall not insinuate a doubt as to their genuineness. We feel confident that the “Quarterly” Reviewer is much too scrupulous not to have investigated this point. They seem to have come upon him much as they will come upon other people, as a surprise; but a surprise so agreeable to his previous prepossessions, that he considers that their internal evidence will convince everybody without any external vindication of their startling contents. Not a word is said to account for their unexpected appearance; they are introduced in the briefest fashion as “letters and extracts addressed by Lady Byron to Mrs. Leigh, now published for the first time.” They could only have reached the Reviewer through Mrs. Leigh’s surviving daughter, and, as it is not at all likely that these five or six fragments stand alone, the possessor of these epistolary treasures is probably to be congratulated on the possession of other letters from Lady Byron, and most likely from Lord Byron, which must have great literary and other value. We
trust that we may not be misunderstood as impugning the genuineness of these curious letters; but as to the way in which they reach us, and the very curious circumstance that they so exactly and precisely fit into the gap which was wanted to be filled up, that they begin and end where they do, and that they appear at this particular moment and in this very nick, or rather in so many nicks, of time and place, these things surprise us almost as much as the contents of the letters themselves.

But has it occurred to the “QuarterlyReviewer that whatever difficulties these new materials must present to those who—as it has been phrased—“hesitate to reject Mrs. Stowe’s account of the reason that led to the separation of Lord and Lady Byron,” they present the same difficulties to himself on his own view of the case? It is, we are told, quite impossible that Lady Byron should have believed in the charge of incest while she was writing to Mrs. Leigh in the terms we have quoted. But, as a matter of fact, according to the “Quarterly” Reviewer’s own testimony, she said that she believed it, and expressed this belief to Dr. Lushington and the military man. The objection to the “True Story” is the co-existence of the charge of incest and the affectionate letters to Mrs. Leigh. The objection to the “Quarterly” Reviewer’s story is co-existence of these affectionate letters and a monomaniacal or insane belief in a non-existent crime. Surely this is six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. It is, we admit, next to incredible that Lady Byron could have believed in the charge and have written the letters; but it is equally incredible—which is the “Quarterly” Reviewer’s position—that under the influence of monomania or insanity she could have preferred the charge and still have written the letters. Sane or insane makes very little or no difference in the matter. That Lady Byron made the charge in 1816 the Reviewer admits; and if she made it under the influence of insanity or monomania—as he further argues—her letters to Mrs. Leigh, “now published for the first time,” must be as inexplicable to him on his theory as they are to those who have “hesitated to reject the ‘True Story.’”

But we have something further to say on this point of insanity, or madness, or hallucination, or whatever it is. Dr. Forbes Winslow,1 in a letter dated September 8th, and published in the “Standard,” and he is a very high authority on such a matter, says:

1 Born 1810, died March 3rd, 1874—the greatest expert on criminal insanity of his time; appeared as a witness before a Commons’ committee; and in many celebrated trials his testimony proved mental disease. (Norman Moore, M.D., “Dictionary of National Biography.”)


“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 the 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 it, not only to legal advisers and trustees (assuming that she revealed to them the fact), but to others, exacting from them no pledges of secrecy 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’s. I never saw a patient with such a delusion.”

This seems to be conclusive as to the hallucination, or monomania, or insanity view. Dr. Winslow is a high authority, and he tells us that such monomania as the “QuarterlyReviewer attributes to Lady Byron is psychologically impossible. A mind so disordered as to entertain an untrue charge of incest, and to retain this illusion through a long life, must have given way on other points. Such insanity, or mental unsoundness, as the “Quarterly Review” attributes to Lady Byron, Dr. Winslow declines to entertain the notion of.

If, then, we are to yield to the new evidence produced by the “Quarterly Review,” and if with Dr. Forbes Winslow we decline for a single moment to believe in Lady Byron’s alleged monomania, it comes to this, and nothing short of this—that Lady Byron, finding that in Dr. Lushington’s judgement the sixteen [sic] reasons1 alleged by her and her parents in favour of a

1 The “sixteen reasons for a separation” are a myth. It was a “Quarterly Review” fiction that Lady Byron “prepared a written statement in which sixteen symptoms were mentioned as evidence of insanity.” In the version printed by Moore and Murray it was pretended that “articles of impeachment were drawn up against Lord Byron’s sanity”—sixteen in number according to them—and of the most watery quality. All this is fabulous as to Lady Byron or her friends.

separation failed, and would not hold water, consciously and maliciously and falsely invented the seventeenth [sic]—namely the charge of incest—knowing it to be false. She charged her husband with the most frightful of crimes and charged him falsely, knowing well what she was about. Further, for so far does the “Quarterly Review’s” argument drive us, we must conclude that Dr. Lushington at once and without any investigation, and simply on the ipsa dixit of this treacherous and calumnious wife, assumed the truth of this wicked charge and acted on it. Is not this proving rather too much? And yet nothing short of this is proved in the “Quarterly Review,” if anything is proved. We can but repeat what we have said throughout, and what we insisted on only a week ago, before “the letters now published for the first time” appeared, that the question is—Whether
Lord Byron was guilty of the crime which undoubtedly his wife charged him with; or whether Lady Byron herself invented a charge, the blackness and guilt of which are not surpassed by—we will add, are not equal to—the wickedness of the crime alleged? The “Quarterly” Reviewer is to be credited with this success, that in his zeal to defend Byron from a charge which with perfect good faith he was anxious to repel, he has, whether he intended it or not, raised an accusation of deliberate wickedness against Lady Byron which no person of common sense—we lay the matter of good feeling aside—can for a moment entertain.

December 25th, 1869 (after the publication of
“Medora Leigh”).

It is obvious to observe, first, that as far as this hideous autobiography goes, it confirms to the minutest particulars the story told by Mrs. Stowe as told her by Lady Byron. Here is the “child of sin,” told by her own sister that she was not her putative father’s daughter, subsequently assured of the same fact by Lady Byron, with the addition that she was Lord Byron’s daughter, announcing it to a whole crowd of witnesses—Captain De B ——, Mr. S——, Sir George Stephen, Dr. Lushington, the Duke of Leeds, Lord and Lady Lovelace, Lady Chichester, all and everybody whom she could get to listen to her story, and above all, confronting her own mother, Mrs. Leigh, with the charge. From not one single person does she meet with a single word of disbelief. Mrs. Leigh, her mother, the person most interested, receives her unnatural child’s charge of incest, and does not contradict her. She only never answers the letters. . . .

The “QuarterlyReviewer, while admitting that the charge
of incest was vaguely floating about, but in an intangible shape, even during
Byron’s life, and that even as early as the separation in 1816 it was named by Lord Broughton on Byron’s part to Mr. Wilmot Horton1 [sic] acting on Lady Byron’s part, and at last admitting that it was actually “produced, and brought under Byron’s notice, before he left England,” goes on in his Postscript to ask, not without indignation, “If Lady Byron was openly to adopt it at all, why she did not do so whilst Colonel and Mrs. Leigh, Lord Broughton, and Mr. Wilmot Horton were still living?” If this Autobiography of Medora Leigh is true at all, it shows that this is precisely what Lady Byron did. . . .

A single word more. We have been repeatedly confronted with the facts—and they are facts—that Lady Byron lived in close and affectionate intercourse with Mrs. Leigh up to the time at least of Lord Byron’s death. We have been asked what we can make of the letters published in the “Quarterly Review.” We have been reminded that it is totally impossible, contrary to all common sense, that Lady Byron could have believed Mrs. Leigh had been guilty of incest and yet could have maintained the intercourse with her of love and kindness and confidence which undoubtedly she professed. Our answer is that we do not understand it; that we do not profess to be able to account for Lady Byron’s character and conduct; and that we cannot reconcile the letters of 1816 with her real conviction of the truth of the charge. And we do not profess to account for this difficulty, because, in the first place, these letters are fragmentary, and cover a very short space of time; because, if we had all the letters written to Mrs. Leigh, either by her brother or her sisterin-law, we might be able to form a judgement; and that as to Lady Byron, her character is very unique, very unintelligible, and one with which as we have no sympathy, so about it we have little knowledge. Anyhow, all that Lady Byron’s character presents itself to us [sic], as described by Mrs. Stowe and confirmed by other evidence, is, that she entertained wild, fanatical, and fantastical notions about everybody’s innate goodness and ultimate salvation. Under the influence of these feelings, which we neither admire nor justify, she is said to have forgiven her husband, forgiven her sister-in-law, forgiven everybody, and to have exhibited towards the sinful and fallen all sorts of, perhaps very angelic, but still very strange, sentiments. Such a woman might do many very strange things under this morbidly virtuous

1 Robert Wilmot only assumed the additional name of Horton seven years after his unsuccessful mediation between Lord and Lady Byron of March 5th to 11th, 1816.

temperament, and amongst them she might, though probably no other woman in the world could or would, live in affectionate intercourse with one whom she believed to have been guilty, but repentant, of incest, and with her own husband. It is a very strange thing, we admit, and one very difficult to comprehend. . . .
Medora Leigh’s Autobiography, if it is true, proves that Lady Byron acted towards her incestuous and adulterous niece much as we are told that it is impossible that she could have acted in a previous case of incest. The fact—if it is a fact—of this second instance of the display of Lady Byron’s peculiar character, announced by Medora Leigh, raises a presumption that the alleged first instance of its exercise in the husband’s case, announced by Mrs. B. Stowe, is after all not so wildly improbable. Medora Leigh’s Autobiography, in other words, shows that Lady Byron, strange as was her view of duty, applied it consistently, and we have two entirely independent witnesses to the fact that such was her character and mode of action.

In conclusion, we must observe that, though the controversial value of this book is next to nothing, yet, so far as it goes, it helps rather Lady Byron’s advocates than Lord Byron’s apologists, inasmuch as in many particulars it confirms Mrs. Stowe’s (by which we mean Lady Byron’s) statement; inasmuch as it disposes of one of the “Quarterly” Reviewer’s chief arguments, that Mrs. Leigh “died unconscious of guilt,” and that Lady Byron never openly specified the charge during Mrs. Leigh’s lifetime, but “industriously circulated the posthumous calumny before she was well cold in the grave”; whereas Medora Leigh’s Autobiography proves that Lady Byron specified the charge in 1840 and even goes so far as to say that Mrs. Leigh was openly taxed with it in 1843; and lastly, inasmuch as it goes some way to show that, however unintelligible, or even, as we think, unjustifiable, Lady Byron’s views about the final triumph of good were, she applied those views consistently and on two occasions.


Chronology of Persons connected with this History.

July 28, 1747. Ralph Milbanke born, afterwards Sir Ralph Milbanke, Bart, M.P., and Lady Byron’s father.

November 14, 1751. The Honble. Judith Noel born, afterwards Lady Milbanke, and Lady Byron’s mother.

1752. Elizabeth Milbanke born, afterwards Viscountees Melbourne.


November 23, 1759. The Honble. George Villiers born.

April 22, 1766. Germaine Necker born, afterwards Madame de Staël.

July 27, 1766. William Henry Vane, Viscount Barnard, born, afterwards third Earl of Darlington and created Duke of Cleveland.

April 13, 1769. Elizabeth Milbanke married to Sir Peniston Lamb, second baronet, who was born January 29, 1745, was made Viscount Melbourne in 1781, and died July 22, 1828.

June 8, 1770. Sir Peniston Lamb created Lord Melbourne in the peerage of Ireland.

1770. Elizabeth Vassall born, afterwards Lady Holland, when divorced from Sir Godfrey Webster.

November 21, 1773. Hon. Henry Richard Fox born, afterwards third Lord Holland.

July 21, 1775. George William Frederick (sixth Duke of Leeds, and Mrs. Leigh’s half-brother) born.1

September 22, 1775. Therese Parker born, afterwards the Honble. Mrs. George Villiers. (See p. 57.)

September 6, 1776. Lady Mary Henrietta Juliana Osborne born (afterwards Countess of Chichester—Mrs. Leigh’s half-sister).

January 9, 1777. Ralph Milbanke married to Judith Noel (Lady Byron’s father and mother).

October 18, 1777. Lord Francis Godolphin Osborne born (afterwards, May 14, 1832, Lord Godolphin); Mrs. Leigh’s half-brother.

September 19, 1778. Henry Brougham born in Edinburgh. May, 1779. Lady Conyers divorced from the Marquis of Carmarthen.

1779. Lady Conyers married to the Hon. John Byron.

January 11, 1781. Lord Melbourne created Viscount Melbourne in the peerage of Ireland.

November 2, 1781. Lord Frederick Bentinck born. (See p. 60.)

January 14, 1782. Stephen Lushington, D.C.L., M.P., etc., born.

January 3, 1783. Francis Hastings Doyle born.

January 26, 1784. The Hon. Augusta Mary Byron (afterwards Mrs. Leigh) born; daughter of Baroness Conyers and Captain John Byron.

January 26, 1784. Lady Conyers died (in childbirth).

December 21, 1784. Robert John Wilmot born; son of Sir

1 [His parents were the Marquis of Carmarthen and Amelia, Baroness Conyers in her own right.—Ed.]

Robert Wilmot, Bart., by his marriage (September 23, 1783) with Juliana Elizabeth Byron, second daughter of Admiral the Hon. John Byron, and widow of the Hon. William Byron.

November 13, 1785. Hon. Caroline Ponsonby (afterwards Lady Caroline Lamb) born; daughter of Frederick Viscount Duncannon, by his marriage with Lady Henrietta Spencer.

June 27, 1786. John Cam Hobhouse born.

January 22, 1788. George Gordon Byron, afterwards sixth Lord Byron, born.1

February 26, 1788. The Hon. Douglas James William Kinnaird, afterwards a banker, born; son of George, seventh Lord Kinnaird, by his marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Griffin Ransom, banker.

June 12, 1788. Margaret Mercer Keith Elphinstone, afterwards Comtesse de Flahault, born; daughter of Captain the Hon. George Keith Elphinstone and Jane, daughter and heiress of William Mercer, of Aldie.

March 8, 1789. George Anson Byron, afterwards seventh Lord Byron, born; son of George Anson Byron, by his marriage with Charlotte Henrietta Dallas.

May, 1790. Caroline Rosalie Adelaide St. Jules (the Honble. Mrs. George Lamb) born at Paris; adopted daughter of Lady Elizabeth Foster.

July 8, 1790. Ralph Milbanke, of Seaham, returned member for Durham County.

September 1, 1790. Margaret Power, afterwards Countess of Blessington, born; daughter of Edmund Power, of Curragheen, Waterford.

Thursday, May 17, 1792, Ascension Day. Anne Isabella Milbanke, afterwards Lady Noel Byron, born; daughter of Sir Ralph and the Hon. Lady Milbanke.

September 10, 1792. Viscount Barnard succeeded his father as Earl of Darlington.

March 3, 1794. Jane Elizabeth Scott, daughter of the Rev. James Scott, married to Edward, fifth Earl of Oxford.

April 27, 1796. Maria Susannah Simpson (daughter of John Simpson of Bradley, Durham, by Lady Anne Lyon his wife) married to Sir Thomas Henry Liddell, afterwards Lord Ravensworth. (See p. 16.)

July 9, 1797. Henry Richard, third Lord Holland, married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Vassall. Her marriage with Sir Godfrey Webster, Bart., had been dissolved in June, 1797.

August 17, 1797. George William Frederick, Marquis of

1 [For his parents, see Explanation, p. xxix.—Ed.]

Mrs. Leigh’s half-brother, married Lady Charlotte Townshend.

January 8, 1798. Sir Ralph Milbanke, grandfather of Anne Isabella, afterwards Lady Byron, died; and Ralph Milbanke, M.P., succeeded to the baronetcy and Halnaby.

April 17, 1798. The Honble. Therese Parker married to the Hon. George Villiers, son of the first Earl of Clarendon. (See p. 57)

January 31, 1799. Mrs. Leigh’s half-brother, the Marquis of Carmarthen, succeeded his father as Duke of Leeds.

March 31, 1800. Lord Francis Godolphin Osborne, afterwards Lord Godolphin, married the Hon. Elizabeth Charlotte Eden.

July 16, 1801. Lady Mary Henrietta Julia Osborne, Mrs. Leigh’s half-sister, married to Thomas, Lord Pelham, afterwards second Earl of Chichester.

June 2, 1804. Colonel Francis Hastings Doyle married to Diana Elizabeth Milner of Nunappleton, who died January 14, 1828.

February 20, 1805. The Hon. William King born (afterwards Earl of Lovelace).

June 3, 1805. Lady Caroline Ponsonby, daughter of Frederick, third Earl of Bessborough, married to the Hon. William Lamb, M.P., afterwards Viscount Melbourne.

September 1, 1806. Robert John Wilmot married to Anne Horton of Catton.

August 17, 1807. The Hon. Augusta Mary Byron married to her first cousin, George Leigh, Lieutenant-Colonel of 10th Dragoons, and son of General Charles Leigh, by his marriage with Frances Byron, daughter of the Admiral.

May 17, 1809. Caroline Rosalie Adelaide St. Jules married to the Hon. George Lamb (who died January 2, 1834), brother of the above mentioned William Lamb and son of Lady Melbourne, also referred to.

October 19, 1809. Mrs. Lamb’s guardian, Lady Elizabeth Foster, was married to William, fifth Duke of Devonshire.

December 24, 1809. Lady Harriet Elizabeth Cavendish, second daughter of William, fifth Duke of Devonshire, was married to Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, afterwards Viscount and Earl Granville.

March 25, 1812. Waltzing party at Melbourne House, given in the morning by Lady Caroline Lamb, at which were present, amongst others, Sidney Smith, Lord Byron, Lady Jersey, Lord and Lady Kinnaird, Miss Mercer Elphinstone, Mrs. Lamb, Lord Palmerston, Miss Milbanke.

September 29, 1812. Parliament was dissolved, and Sir Ralph
Milbanke, Bart., M.P., retired after twenty-two years of silent and neglected whiggery, and the loss of all his property over elections.

July 27, 1813 (his forty-seventh birthday). The Earl of Darlington was married to Elizabeth Russell. (He had been a widower for seven years.)

March 28, 1814. Lord Byron moved to the Albany.

April 15, 1814. Birth of Elizabeth Medora Leigh.

December 24, 1814. Byron and Hobhouse left London. Byron went to Mrs. Leigh at Six Mile Bottom, Hobhouse to Cambridge.

December 30, 1814. Byron and Hobhouse arrived together at Seaham.

December 31, 1814. The settlements were signed.

Monday, January 2, 1815. Lord Byron was married to Anne Isabella Milbanke at 11 o’clock in the drawing-room at Seaham. At 12 they left for Halnaby.

January 21, 1815. Lord and Lady Byron went from Halnaby to Seaham.

February 25, 1815. Colonel Leigh left Six Mile Bottom for his round of visits to Lord Darlington, etc.

March 9, 1815. Lord and Lady Byron left Seaham.

March 12, 1815. Lord and Lady Byron arrived at Six Mile Bottom, Colonel Leigh being absent all that time.

Easter Tuesday, March 28, 1815. Lord and Lady Byron left Six Mile Bottom, and settled at 13, Piccadilly Terrace, in the house belonging to Elizabeth, Duchess of Devonshire.

Early in April, 1815. Mrs. Leigh came to 13, Piccadilly Terrace, on a visit lasting over ten weeks.

April 17, 1815. Lady Byron’s uncle, Viscount Wentworth, died in London, and was buried at Kirkby on the 28th.

May 20, 1815. Sir Ralph Milbanke obtained a licence from the Prince Regent to take the name and arms of Noel.

By the end of June, 1815. Mrs. Leigh had left 13, Piccadilly Terrace, and returned to Six Mile Bottom.

July 29, 1815. Lord Byron signed his will in Mrs. Leigh’s favour.

August 11, 1815. Viscount Melbourne created Lord Melbourne in the peerage of the United Kingdom.

August 12, 1815. Lord Granville Leveson-Gower created Viscount Granville.

August 30, 1815. Lord Byron went to Six Mile Bottom.

September 4, 1815. Lord Byron returned to 13, Piccadilly Terrace.


November 15, 1815. Mrs. Leigh came to 13, Piccadilly Terrace.

December 10, 1815. Birth of Augusta Ada Byron. January 15, 1816. Lady Byron and Ada left 13, Piccadilly Terrace.

January 16, 1816. They arrived at Kirkby. February 2, 1816. Separation formally proposed to Lord Byron.

February 22, 1816. Lady Byron arrived in London and had her first interview with Dr. Lushington at Mivart’s Hotel.

March 16, 1816. Mrs. Leigh moved to her rooms in St. James’s Palace from 13, Piccadilly Terrace, after a stay of four months.

March 17, 1816. Lord Byron gave his written assent to the principle of a separation by agreement.

March 18, 1816. Captain George Anson Byron (afterwards seventh Lord Byron) married to Elizabeth Mary Pole of Radborne.

April 8, 1816. Countess of Jersey’s party. Present Lord Byron, Mrs. Leigh, Hobhouse, Flahault, B. Constant with his wife, Mrs. G. Lamb, Miss Mercer Elphinstone, Brougham, etc.

Easter Sunday, April 14, 1816. Mrs. Leigh went to 13, Piccadilly Terrace, to take leave of Lord Byron before going to Six Mile Bottom.

Sunday, April 21, 1816. Lord Byron signed the deed of separation at 3.30 p.m.—witnesses, John Cam Hobhouse and John Hanson.

April 22, 1816. Lady Byron signed the deed of separation. April 23, 1816. Lord Byron, Hobhouse and Scrope Davies went to Dover.

April 25, 1816. Lord Byron embarked soon after nine for Ostend.

November 1, 1816. Augusta Ada Byron christened; sponsors, Captain George Byron, the Honble. Lady Noel and Viscountess Tamworth.

Sunday, January 12, 1817. Alba or Clara Allegra Biron born.

June or July, 1817. The Hon. Margaret Mercer Elphinstone married to the Comte de Flahault (p. 50).

July 14, 1817. Death of Madame de Staël.

February 16, 1818. Margaret Power, widow of M. St. Leger Farmer of Poplar Hall, Kildare, married to Charles John Gardiner, Earl of Blessington.

Monday, April 6, 1818. Death of Elizabeth, Viscountess Melbourne, at Melbourne House, Whitehall. The funeral was on the 14th.

April 1, 1819. Henry Brougham was married to Mary Anne Eden, widow of John Spalding.


July 20, 1819. Henry Allen Bathurst born, afterwards registrar of the Admiralty Court and trustee for Lady Byron’s private papers.

September 16, 1820. Lord Frederick Bentinck was married to Mary, daughter of William, first Earl of Lonsdale.

July 18, 1821. Sir Thomas Liddell created Lord Ravensworth.

August 8, 1821. Stephen Lushington, D.C.L., married to Sarah Grace Carr, daughter of Thomas William Carr of Frognall, Hampstead, and Esholt Heugh, Northumberland. She died September 20, 1837.

January 28, 1822. The Hon. Lady Noel (formerly Milbanke—born Judith Noel) died at Kirkby; and Lord and Lady Byron assumed the additional name of Noel.

April 19, 1822. Allegra Biron died.

May 8, 1823. Robert John Wilmot assumed by Royal License the additional name of Horton.

Easter Monday, April 19, 1824. Lord Byron died at Missolonghi.

May 14, 1824. News of Lord Byron’s death reached London.

May 17, 1824. Lord Byron’s memoirs destroyed.

November 20, 1824. Countess of Oxford died.

March 19, 1825. Sir Ralph Noel, Bart, (formerly Milbanke), died at Hampstead, aged 78, and was buried at Kirkby, March 27.

January 25, 1828. Lady Caroline Lamb died six months before her husband, the Hon. William Lamb, became Viscount Melbourne.

February 11, 1828. Major-General Lord Frederick Bentinck, C.B., died.

February 18, 1828. Sir Francis Hastings Doyle created a baronet.

July 28, 1828. John Cam Hobhouse married to Lady Juliana Thomasina Hay.

March 12, 1830. The Hon. Douglas Kinnaird, banker, died.

November 22, 1830. Henry Brougham was made Lord Brougham and Vaux, and Lord Chancellor.

August 15, 1831. Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, Bart., died, and was succeeded by Sir John Cam Hobhouse, Bart.

1832. Robert John Wilmot Horton went as Governor to Ceylon.

January 15, 1833. The Earl of Darlington was created Duke of Cleveland.

1834. Robert John Wilmot Horton succeeded to baronetcy.

July 8, 1835. The Hon. Augusta Ada Byron married to William, eighth Lord King, afterwards Earl of Lovelace.

June 30, 1838. Lord King created Earl of Lovelace.


July 10, 1838. George William Frederick, sixth Duke of Leeds and Mrs. Leigh’s half-brother, died.

November 6, 1839. Sir Francis Hastings Doyle, Bart., died.

October 22, 1840. Lord Holland died.

May 31, 1841. The Right Hon. Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, Bart., G.C.B., died.

January 29, 1842. The Duke of Cleveland died.

November 17, 1845. Elizabeth Vassall, Lady Holland, died.

November 22, 1845. Lady Ravensworth died.

June 4, 1849. Margaret, Countess of Blessington, died.

September 3, 1849 (on or about). Elizabeth Medora Leigh died in France (having been married there some three or four years).

February 15, 1850. Mrs. Leigh’s half-brother Francis, Lord Godolphin, died.

April, 1850. Mary Anne Clermont died.

May 3, 1850. Colonel George Leigh died.

February 26, 1851. The Right Hon. Sir John Cam Hobhouse created Lord Broughton de Giffard.

July, 1851. Selina Doyle, sister of the first Sir Francis Doyle, died.

Sunday, October 12, 1851. The Hon. Mrs. Leigh (Augusta Mary Byron) died a little after 3 in the morning (p. 32).

November 27, 1852. Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, died.

January 12, 1856. The Hon. Mrs. George Villiers (née Therese Parker) died.

May 16, 1860. Anne Isabella, Lady Noel Byron, died.

January 31, 1861. Elizabeth Russell, dowager Duchess of Cleveland, died, aged 84.

August 31, 1862. The Hon. Mrs. George Lamb (Caroline Rosalie Adelaide St. Jules) died.

October 21, 1862. Mrs. Leigh’s surviving half-sister, the Dowager Countess of Chichester, died.

November 25, 1862. Harriet, Countess Granville, died.

November 11, 1867. Margaret, Lady Keith and Comtesse de Flahault, died.

March 1, 1868. Admiral Lord Byron died.

May 7, 1868. Lord Brougham died at Cannes.

June 3, 1869. John Cam Hobhouse, Lord Broughton de Giffard, died.

February 4, 1871. Lady Wilmot Horton died.

January 19, 1873. The Right Hon. Stephen Lushington, D.C.L., died at Ockham Park.

December, 1893. William, Earl of Lovelace, died.

Henry Allen Bathurst died.