« PrécédentContinuer »
GEORGE W. CHILDS, PUBLISHER, No. 600 CHESTNUT STREET, PHILADELPHIA.
TRÜBNER & 00., 60 Paternoster Row, London, GUSTAVE BOSSANGE & CO., 25 Quai Voltaire, Paris
CHARLES MOQUARDT, Brussels.
ALBERT DETKEN, Naples
T. W. WILSON, 14 Calle de Mercaderes, Habana, Agent for the West Indies.
to the Editor any Books or Publications intended for notice.
OCT. 15, 1869.
OUR ENGLISH CORRESPONDENCE,
whether sbe would undertake a redaction of Lady LONDON, September 15, 1869. Byron's married history, but only as to the policy A GENERAL feeling of indignation pervades all of publishing such a history at all. Secondly. Mrs. literary and educated classes at Mrs. Beecher Stowe, on her own adınission, returned to Lady Stowe's betrayal of Lady Byron's secrets. The Byron the brief memorandum paper which had universal judgment is, there is no excuse for this been intrusted to her, with the statement of her breach of confidence. Since Willis reported for the opinion that 'Lady Byron would be entirely justipublic press dinner-table conversations in houses fiable in leaving the truth to be disclosed after her where he was hospitably received, public opinion death, and recommended that all facts necessary has not been so moved here. Amid the mass of should be put in the hands of some persons to be replies which have seen the light, I select two so published. Thirdly. Lady Byron did, by her which seem to me to merit a place in the LITERARY last will and testament, executed a few days only GAZETTE, even though in giving them room I am before her decease, bequeath to three persons as obliged to postpone to another letter the latest in- trustees all her manuscripts, to be by them first telligence from book-shops and press-rooms. The sealed up, afterwards deposited in a bank in the first reply I quote is that made by the solicitors of names of such trustees, and she directed that no Lady Byron and her family :
one else, however nearly connected with her, should “ As the solicitors of the descendants and repre- upon any plea whatsoever be allowed to inspect sentatives of the late Lady Noel Byron, for whose such documents, which the trustees were alone to family we have acted for upwards of half a century, make use of as they might judge to be best for the we request your permission to publish in the col- interests of her grandchildren. Mrs. Stowe is not umns of The Times, the following observations one of these three. Her paper is entirely gratuirelative to an article which has appeared in . Mac- tous and unauthorized. It is, as we have said, not millan's Magazine.' The article in question is en consistent with her own counsel ; it is an offence titled 'The True Story of Lady Byron's Life,' and against Lady Byron's dying wishes, and the auMrs. H. B. Stowe is announced to be the writer of thoress has written in utter disregard of the feelit. Of the paper itself we should probably have ings of those grandchildren of whom she speaks in abstained from taking any public notice, if it a vague, fulsome way, as 'some of the best and had appeared in a less respectable journal than noblest of mankind.' The appearance of the volMacmillan,' or if even in this periodical the au umes about Lord Byron by the Countess Guiccioli thoress had been allowed to tell her story without is alleged by Mrs. Stowe as the main reason which editorial preface or comment. The editor of Mac- induced her to publish her story ; but if Lady Bymillan,' however, has not only admitted Mrs. ron's descendants, her personal and trusted friends Stowe's article, but has prefixed to it a note, in in this country, suffer the slanders of the Countess which he authoritatively proclaims to the world Guiccioli to pass uncontradicted-for, to use Mrs. that the paper on Lady Byron's life and relations Stowe's own expression, of what value was the outto Lord Byron is the complete and authentic state- cry of 'the mistress' against the wife ?-their siment of the whole circumstances of that disastrous lence should surely have led Mrs. Stowe to hesitate affair.' Nay, more: 'that this paper is, in fact, before giving to the world a statement which, howLady Byron's own statenient of the reasons which ever it may affect the memories of the dead, must forced her to separation which she so long resisted.' inevitably inflict much pain on the living. "Lady Again, the editor states that the contribution of Byron's own statement is in the possession of those Mrs. Stowe supplies 'evidence at once and direct' who love her memory too well to make a rash use of Lady Byron's history. We, as the family solici- of it, and if the world is ever to learn the true story tors, beg most distinctly to state that the article is of Lady Byron's life it will learn it from them. It not 'a complete' or 'authentic statement of the would have been in better taste if Mrs. Stowe and facts connected with the separation, that it cannot the editor of 'Macmillan's Magazine' had imitated be regarded as Lady Byron's own statement, and the religious silence' which the latter so much that it does not involve (evolve ?) any direct evi- commends in the case of Lady Byron. Meanwhile, dence on Lady Byron's history. Instead of direct Lady Byron's descendants and representatives en. evidence, Mrs. Stowe has nothing to communicate tirely and absolutely disclaim all countenance of but her recollections of a conversation thirteen Mrs. Stowe's article, which has been published years ago, and her impressions of a manuscript without their privity or consent. We are, etc. which she states that Lady Byron gave her to pe
WHARTON & FORDS." ruse, and which, according to her showing, she read Here is an extremely interesting letter from Lord under very great excitement. These circumstances Lindsay: "I have waited in expectation of a cateprobably account for several obvious errors into gorical denial of the horrible charge brought by which Mrs. Stowe has fallen, such as assigning two Mrs. Beecher Stowe against Lord Byron and his years instead of thirteen months as the period du- sister on the alleged authority of the late Lady ring which Lady Byron resided under the same Byron. Such denial has been only indirectly given roof with her husband, and similar inaccuracies, to by the letter of Messrs. Wharton and Fords. That which, for the present purpose, it is unnecessary letter is sufficient to prove that Lady Byron never to allude. Without for a moment conceding that contemplated the use made of her name, and that Mrs. Stowe's narrative contains a complete account her descendants and representatives disclaim any of Lady Byron's relations with her husband, we countenance of Mrs. B. Stowe's article ; but it does must protest against it as being professedly-first, a not specifically meet Mrs. Stowe's allegation that most gross breach of the trust and confidence stated Lady Byron, in conversing with her thirteen years to have been reposed in her; second, as inconsist- ago, affirmed the charge now before us. It remains ent with her own recommendation to Lady Byron ; open, therefore, to a scandal-loving world to credit and third, as an ignorant violation (at least we the calumny through the advantage of this flaw, shall, in charity, suppose Mrs. Stowe to be igno- involuntarily, I believe, in the answer produced rant) of the express terms of Lady Byron's last against it. My object in addressing you is to supwill and testament. First, as relates to a breach ply that deficiency by proving that what is now of trust. Mrs. Stowe states that she was consulted stated on Lady Byron's supposed authority is at in an interview which, to use her own words, “had variance in all respects with what she stated imalmost the solemnity of a death-bed, not as to Imediately after the separation, when everything
OCT, 15, 1869.
was fresh in her memory in relation to the time I reckoned it a bad jest, and told him so—that my during which, according to Mrs. B. Stowe, she be- opinions of him were very different from his of lieved that Byron and his sister were living together himself, otherwise he would not find me by his side. in guilt. I publish this evidence with reluctance, He laughed it over when he saw me appear hurt, but in obedience to that higher obligation of justice, and I forgot what had passed till forced to remember to the voiceless and defenceless dead, which bids it. I believe he was pleased with me, too, for a me break through a reserve that otherwise I should little while. I suppose it had escaped his memory bare held sacred. The Lady Byron of 1818 would, that I was his wife.' But she described the hapI am certain, have sanctioned my doing so had she piness they enjoyed to have been unequal and foreseen the present unparalleled occasion, and the perturbed. Her situation in a short time might bar that the conditions of her will present (as I have entitled her to some tenderness, but she made infer from Messrs.. Wharton and Fords' letter) | no claim on him for any. He sometimes reproached against any fuller communication. Calumpies such her for the motives that had induced her to marry as these sink deep, and with rapidity, into the pub- him-all was vanity, the vanity of Miss Milbanke lic mind, and are not easily eradicated. The fame carrying the point of reforming Lord Byron! He of one of our greatest poets, and that of the kindest always knew her inducements, her pride shut her and truest, and most constant friend that Byron eyes to his; he wished to build up his character ever had, is at stake; and it will not do to wait for and his fortunes ; both were somewhat deranged ; revelations from the fountain-head, which are not she had a high name and would have a fortune promised, and possibly may never reach us. The worth his attention-let her look to that for his late Lady Apne Barnard, who died in 1825, a con- motives !' 'Oh, Byron, Byron,' she said, ' how you temporary and friend of Burke, Windham, Dundas, desolate me!' He would then accuse himself of and a host of the wise and good of that generation, being mad, and throw himself on the ground in a and remembered in letters as the authoress of frenzy, which she believed was affected to conceal * Auld Robin Gray,' had known the late Lady By- the coldness and malignity of his heart-an affecron from infancy, and took a warm interest in her, tation which at that time never failed to meet with holding Lord Byron in corresponding repugnance, the utmost commiseration. I could find by some not to say prejudice, in consequence of what she implications, not followed up by me lest she might believed to be his harsh and cruel treatment of her have condemned herself afterwards for her involyoung friend. I transcribe the following passages, untary disclosures, that he soon attempted to coraud a letter from Lady Byron herself (written in rupt her principles both with respect to her own 1018) from a ricordi, or private family memoirs, in conduct and her latitude for his. She saw the Lady Anne's autograph, now before me. I include precipice on which she stood, and kept his sister the letter because, although treating only in gen- with her as much as possible. He returned in the eral terms of the matter and the causes of the se- evenings from the haunts of vice, where he made paration, it affords collateral evidence bearing her understand he had been, with manners so prostrictly upon the point of the credibility of the fligate! “Oh, the wretch !' said I, and had he no charge now in question :
moments of remorse?' 'Sometimes he appeared *• The separation of Lord and Lady Byron aston- to have them. One night, coming home from one ished the world, which believed him à reformed of his lawless parties, he saw me so indignantly map as to his habits, and a becalmed man as to his collected, and bearing all with such a determined remorses. He had written nothing that appeared calmness, that a rush of remorse seemed to come after his marriage till the famous Fare thee well,' over him; he called himself a monster, though his which had the power of compelling those to pity sister was present, and threw himself in agony at the writer who were not well aware that he was my feet. "I could not-no–I could not forgive not the unhappy person he affected to be. Lady him such injuries. He had lost me forever!' AsByron's misery was whispered soon after her mar- tonished at the return of virtue, my tears, I believe, riage, and his ill-usage ; but no word transpired, flowed over his face, and I said, “Byron, all is forno sign escaped from her. She gave birth shortly gotten; never, never shall you hear of it more ! to a daughter, and when she went, as soon as she He started up, and, folding his arms while he was recovered, on a visit to her father, taking her looked at me, burst into laughter.
• What do you little Ada with her, no one knew that it was to mean ?' said I. 'Only a philosophical experiment, return to her lord no more. At that period a severe that's all,' said he ; “I wished to ascertain the fit of illness had confined me to bed for two months. value of your resolutions.' I need not say more of I heard of Lady Byron's distress; of the pains he this prince of duplicity, except that varied were took to give a harsh impression of her character to his methods of rendering her wretched, even to the the world. I wrote to her, and entreated her to last. When her lovely little child was born, and come and let me see and hear her, if she conceived it was laid beside its mother on the bed, and he my sympathy or counsel could be any comfort to was informed 'he might see his daughter,' after her. She came-but what a tale was unfolded by gazing at it with an exulting smile, this was the this interesting young creature who had so fondly ejaculation that broke from him, “Oh! what an hoped to have made a young man of genius and implement of torture have I acquired in you !' such romance (as she supposed) happy! They had not he rendered it by his eyes and manner, keeping her been an hour in the carriage which conveyed them in a perpetual alarm for its safety when in his prefrom the church, when, breaking into a malignant sence. All this reads madder than I believe he was ; speer, 'Oh! what a dupe you have been to your but she had not then made up her mind to disbeimagination. How is it possible a woman of lieve his pretended insanity, and conceived it best your sepse could form the wild hope of reforming to intrust her secret with the excellent Dr. Baillie, me? Many are the tears you will have to shed ere telling him all that seemed to regard the state of that plan is accomplished. It is enough for me her husband's mind, and letting his advice regulate that you are my wife for me to hate you ; if you her conduct. Baillie doubted of his derangement, were the wife of any other man, I own you might but, as he did not reckon his own opinion infallible, have charms,' etc. I, who listened, was astonished. he wished her to take precautions as if her husband * How could you go on after this,' said I, “my dear; was so. He recommended her going to the country, why did you not return to your father's ? • Because but to give him no suspicion of her intentions of I had not a conception he was in earnest; because remaining there, and for a short time to show no
OCT. 15, 1869.
coldness in her letters till she could better ascer- | decay of my memory, you will not wonder if there tain his state. She went-regretting, as she told are still moments when the association of feelings me, to wear any semblance but the truth. A short which arose from them, soften and sadden my time disclosed the story to the world. He acted thoughts. But I have not thanked you, dearest the part of a man driven to despair by her inflex- Lady Anne, for your kindness in regard to a pripible resentment and by the arts of a governess cipal object—that of rectifying false impressions. (once a servant in the family) who hated him. 1 I trust you understand my wishes, which derer will give you,' proceeds Lady Anne, “a few para were to injure Lord Byron in any way; for, though graphs transcribed from one of Lady Byron's own he would not suffer me to remain his wife, he canletters to me. It is sorrowful to think that in a not prevent me from continuing his friend ; and it very little time this young and amiable creature, was from considering myself as such that I silenced wise, patient, and feeling, will have her character the accusations by which my own conduct might mistaken by every one who reads Byron's works. have been more fully justified. It is not necessary To rescue her from this I preserved her letters, and to speak ill of his heart in general ; it is sufficient when she afterwards expressed a fear that anything that to me it was hard and impenetrable—that my of her writing should ever fall into hands to injare own must have broken before his could have been him (I suppose she meant by publication) I safely touched. I would rather represent this as my misassured her that it never should. But here this fortune, than as his guilt; but, surely, that misforletter shall be placed, a sacred record in her favor, tune is not to be made my crime! Such are my unknown to herself :
feelings ; you will judge how to act. His allusions “I am a very incompetent judge of the impres- to me in Childe Harold are cruel and cold, but with sion which the last canto of Childe Harold may pro- such a semblance as to make me appear so, and to duce on the minds of indifferent readers. It contains attract all sympathy to himself. It is said in this the usual trace of a conscience restlessly awake, poem, that hatred of him will be taught as a lesson though his object has been too long to aggravate to his child. I might appeal to all who have ever its burden, as if it could thus be oppressed into heard me speak of him, and still more to my own eternal stupor. I will hope, as you do, that it sur-heart, to witness that there has been no moment vives for his ultimate good. It was the acuteness when I have remembered injury otherwise than afof his remorse, impenitent in its character, which fectionately and sorrowfully. It is uot my duty to so long seemed to demand from my compassion to give way to hopeless and wholly unrequited affecspare every semblance of reproach, every look of tion; but, so long as I live, my chief struggle will grief, which might have said to his conscience, ‘You probably be not to remember him too kindly. I do have made me wretched.' I am decidedly of opin- not seek the sympathy of the world, but I wish to ion that he is responsible. He has wished to be be known by those whose opinion is valuable, and thought partially deranged, or on the brink of it, whose kindness is dear to me. Among snch, my to perplex observers and prevent them from tracing dear Lady Anne, you will ever be remembered by effects to their real causes through all the intricacies your truly affectionate,
A. BYRON." of his conduct. I was, as I told you, at one time " It is the province of your readers and of the the dupe of his acted insanity, and clung to the world at large to judge between the two testimonies former delusions in regard to the motives that con now before them—Lady Byron's in 1816 and 1818, cerned me personally, till the whole system was and that put forward in 1869 by Mrs. B. Stowe, as laid bare. He is the absolute monarch of words, communicated by Lady Byron thirteen years ago. In and uses them, as Buonaparte did lives, for conquest, the face of the evidence now given, positive, negawithout more regard to their intrinsic value, con- tive, and circumstantial, there can be but two altersidering them only as ciphers which must derive natives in this case-either Mrs. B. Stowe must all their import from the situation in which he have entirely misunderstood Lady Byron, and been places them and the ends to which he adapts them thus led into error and misstatement, or we must with such consummate skill. Why, then, you will conclude that, under the pressure of a life-long and say, does he not employ them to give a better color secret sorrow, Lady Byron's mind had become to his own character ? Because he is too good an clouded with an hallucination in respect of the actor to overact or to assume a moral garb which it particular point in question. The reader will adwould be easy to slip off. In regard to his poetry, mire the noble but severe character displayed in egotism is the vital principle of his imagination, Lady Byron's letter; but those who keep in view which it is difficult for him to kindle on any sub- what her first impressions were, as above recorded, ject with which his own character and interests are may probably place a more lenient interpretation not identified ; but by the introduction of fictitious than hers upon some of the incidents alleged to incidents, by change of scene or time, he has en Byron's discredit. I shall conclude with some veloped his poetical disclosures in a system impene- remarks upon his character, written shortly after trable except to a very few, and his constant desire his death by a wise, virtuous, and charitable judge, of creating a sensation makes him not averse to be the late Sir Walter Scott, likewise in a letter to the object of wonder and curiosity, even though | Lady Anne Barnard :accompanied by some dark and vague suspicions. “ Fletcher's account of poor Byron is extremely Nothing has contributed more to the misunder- interesting. I had always a strong attachment to standing of his real character than the lonely that unfortunate, though most richly gifted man, grandeur in which he shrouds it, and his affectation because I thought I saw that his virtues (and he of being above mankind, when he exists almost in had many) were his own, and his eccentricities the their voice. The romance of his sentiments is result of an irritable temperament, which sometimes another feature of this mask of state. I know no approached nearly to mental disease. Those who one more habitually destitute of that enthusiasm are gifted with strong nerves, a regular temper, and he so beautifully expresses, and to which he can habitual self-command, are not perhaps aware how work up his fancy chiefly by contagion. I had much of what they think virtue they owe to constiheard he was the best of brothers, the most gene- tution; and such are but too severe judges of men rous of friends, and I thought such feelings only like Byron, whose mind, like a day of alternate required to be warmed and cherished into more storms and sunshine, is all dark shades and stray diffusive benevolence. Though these opinions are gleams of light, instead of the twilight gray which eradicated, and could never return but with the illuminates happier though less distinguished mor
OCT. 16, 1869.
tals. I always thought that when a moral proposi- She had sad misfortunes in her later years. Her tion was placed plainly before Lord Byron, his mind excellent and only surviving danghter nursed her yielded a pleased and willing assent to it, but, if with the tenderest affection in her last illness. there was any side view given in the way of rail- | How any one could have been so wicked as to write lery or otherwise, he was willing enough to evade so horrible a story, of one too long dead to have conviction.
It angurs ill for the cause friends left who could refute the story, seems beof Greece that this master-spirit should have been yond belief.' withdrawn from their assistance, just as he was “This is negative evidence, but of the most valuaobtaining a complete ascendency over their coun- ble kind; it adds another element of incongruity sels. I have seen several letters from the Ionian to a ghastly and unnatural theory. But, sir, one Islands, all of which unite in speaking in the high- word as to the expulsion of Lady Byron from est praise of the wisdom and temperance of his the house, and the theatrical scene detailed by counsels, and the ascendency he was obtaining Mrs. Stowe, whose passion for 'tall' writing has over the turbulent and ferocious chiefs of the in- betrayed her into more than one palpable absursurgents. I have some verses written by him on dity. • Looking round at the three that stood his last birthday; they breathe a spirit of affection there,'—what three ? He could not look round on towards his wife, and a desire of dying in battle, himself— with a sarcastic smile, he said: "When which seems like an anticipation of his approach- shall we three meet again ?' Lady Byron answered, ing fate. I remain, etc.
'In heaven, I trust,'' &c. Did this interview ever I must give you two other letters on this sub- occur at all? The pamphlet, Remarks Occaject:
sioned by Mr. Moore's Notices of Lord Byron's " It is, I believe, generally conceded that Mrs. Life,' printed privately, and the copy of which in Stowe's account of the circumstances attending the the Inner Temple library is inscribed from . Lady separation of Lord and Lady Byron cannot be accu- Noel Byron to Horace Twiss,' and which Mrs. rate, and that the reason for it, even if given by Stowe calls a letter, and curtails at a most importLady Byron herself, would require extreme caution ant point, says: On the day of my departure, I for its acceptance as the true one. Assuming, how- wrote Lord Byron in a kind and cheerful tone, acever, that Lady Byron did tell it to Mrs. Stowe, cording to the medical directions, and again on my that statement has not yet, I think, been suffi- arrival at Kirkby Mallory. My mother wrote on ciently tested as to its probability by any examina- the 17th, inviting him to Kirkby Mallory.' Moore tions of the history and character of the so-called throws no light upon the wherabouts of Byron at partner of the sin' of Lord Byron. It is not true that time. It is clear he wrote on the 6th, signifythat it was talked of at the time, nor, indeed, was ing his wish she should leave town as early as it hinted at until comparatively lately. I am per- possible after her confinement (in which there is mitted to give some details furnished me by a lady nothing very extraordinary). On the 8th, Lady of great natural abilities and keen observation, un- Byron consulted Dr. Baillie, who recommends her impaired by advanced age, 82, whose knowledge of correspondence to be of light and soothing topics. the world-fashionable, political, and literary – She writes on the day she leaves—why, if in the both of long days past and of these, is, perhaps, same house they had parted to meet only in heaven? unsurpassed. The Dowager Lady S- writes as The whole story is absurd as Mrs. Stowe tells it, follows:
and if Lady Byron so told it, it is incousistent with *** We have a great subject of interest in Mrs. hur previous account, as well as with common Stowe's account of Lord Byron. I want to know sense. I am, eto. E. M. H. (King's Bench-Walk, the truth. I have seen a great deal of Mrs. Leigh Temple).” (Augusta), having passed some days with her and Lord Wentworth (Lady Noel Byron's grandson) Colonel Leigh, for my husband's shooting near has published the owing letter on this subNewmarket, when Lord Byron was in the house, ject:and, as she told me, was writing. The Corsair,' to “In your number of September 3, you say that my great astonishment, for it was a wretched small Mrs. Stowe is not a flagrant offender against prohouse, full of her ill-trained children, who were prieties, because my sister and I are supposed to always running up and down stairs, and going into have intended to publish correspondence relating 'ancle's bed-room, where he remained all the to Lord and Lady Byron's conjugal differences. morning. Mrs. Leigh was like a mother to Byron, Now, supposing Mrs. Stowe's narrative to have being so much older, and not at all an attractive been really a 'true story,' and that we had meant person. I afterwards went with her, at her request, to reveal the whole of our grandmother's history, to pay a wedding visit to Lady Byron when she re- I do not see what defence that is to Mrs. Stowe turned to town, and she (Mrs. Leigh) expressed against the charge of repeating what was told her the greatest anxiety that his marriage should re- in a 'private and confidential conversation.' But form him. He opened the drawing-room door him- it is not true that Lady Anne Blunt and I ever inself, and received my congratulations as savagely tended to publish correspondence of the nature as I expected, looking demon-like, as he often did. mentioned. About three years ago, a manuscript But my astonishment at the present accusation is in Lady Noel Byron's handwriting was found among unbounded. She, a Dowdy-Goody, I being then, her papers, giving an account of some circumstances I suppose, a fine young lady. Scrope Davis used connected with her marriage, and apparently into come to dinner, and talked to me a great deal tended for publication after her death ; but as this about Byron afterwards, when he resided in the seemed not quite certain, no decision as to its pubcountry, and I never remember a hint at this lication was come to. In the event of a memoir unnatural and improbable liaison, when all London being written, this manuscript might, perhaps, be was at Byron's feet. I have heard from Lady A- included, but hitherto it has not been proposed to I relative to —, and to Mrs. Leigh, that my publish any other matter about her separation. recollection of her was perfectly correct. She says This statement in Lady Byron's own handwritivg she was an amiable and devoted wife, and mother does not contain any accusation of so grave a naof seven children. Her husband was very fond of ture as that which Mrs. Stowe asserts was told her, her, and had a high opinion of her. She must have and Mrs. Stowe's story of the separation is inconbeen married (in 1807) when Byrou was quite a sistent with what I have seen in various letters, boy (he was 19). She had no taste for poetry, etc., of Lacy Zyrori's. Lady Byron says in her own