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accepting payment; and stated that the money for “Childe Harold” and “The Corsair" had been given to himself. The sums due for the other two poems then published were still, it seems, in the publisher's hands. In the beginting of 1816 Byron declined to take the 1000 guineas for “Parisina" and the "Siege of Corinth,” and it was proposed to hand over the money to Godwin, Coleridge, and Maturin. The plan was dropped at Murray's objection, and the poet soon became less scrupulous. These poems were written in the thick of many distractions. Byron was familiar at Holland, Melbourne, and Devonshire Houses. He knew Brummell and was one of the dandies; he was a member of Watier's, then a "superb club," and appeared as caloyer in a masquerade given by his fellow-members in 1813; of the more literary and sober Alfred; of the Union, the Pugilistics, and the Owls or “Flyby-nights." He indulged in the pleasures of his class, with intervals of selfcontempt and foreboding. Scott and Mme. de Staël (like Lady Byron) thought that a profound melancholy was in reality his dominant mood." "He had reasons enough in his money embarrassments and in dangerous entanglements, Fashionable women adored the beautiful Foung poet and tried to soothe his blighted affections. Lady Morgan describes him as “cold, silent, and resened," but doubtless not the less fascinating. Dallas observed that his Coyness speedily vanished, and found him in a brown study writing to some fine lady whose page was waiting in
scarlet and a hussar jacket. This may them have been Lady Caroline Lamb, a
woman of some talent, but flighty and excitable to the verge of insanity.? She was born 23 Nov. 1785, the daughter of the Eari of Bessborough, and, in June 1805 married William Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne. The Women, as she says, “suffocated him” when she first saw him. On her own introduction by Lady Westmorland,
she turned on her heel and wrote in her diary that he was “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” The acquaintance was renewed at Lady Holland's, and for nine months he almost lived at Melbourne House, where he contrived to "sweep away” the dancing, in which he could take no part. Lady Caroline did her best to make her passion notorious. She "absolutely besieged him," says Rogers; told him in her first letter that all her jewels were at his service; waited at night for Rogers in his garden to ask him to reconcile her to Byron; and would return from parties in Byron's carriage or wait for him in the street if not invited. At last, in July 1813, it was rumoured in London that after a quarrel with Byron at a party Lady Caroline had tried to stab herself with a knife and then with fragments of a glass. Her mother now insisted upon her retirement to Ireland. After a farewell interview Byron wrote her a letter? which reads like an attempt to use the warmest phrases consistent with
acceptance of their separation, though ending with a statement of his readiness to fly with her. She corresponded with Byron from Ireland till on the eve of her return she received a brutal letter from him,' saying roundly that he was attached to another, and telling her to correct her vanity and leave him in
peace. The letter, marked with Lady Oxford's coronet and initials, threw Lady Caroline into a fit, which involved leeching, bleeding, and bed for a week.
Lady Caroline's mother-in-law, Lady Melbourne, was sister of Sir R. Milbanke, who, by his wife, Judith Noël, daughter of Lord Wentworth, was father of an only daughter, Anne Isabella Milbanke, born 17 May 1792. Miss Milbanke was a woman of intellectual tastes; fond of theology and mathematics, and a writer of poems,
The party was on 5 July; Hayward, Eminent Statesmen, i. 350-3.
· Printed from the original manuscript in Jeaffreson, i. 261.
3 Printed in “Glenarvon," and apparently acknowledged by Byron, Medwin, p. 274.
one or two of which are published in Byron's works. Byron described her to Medwin as having small and feminine, though not regular, features; the fairest skin imaginable; perfect figure and temper and modest manners. She was on friendly terms with Mrs. Siddons, Miss Baillie, Miss Edgeworth, and other literary persons who frequented her mother's house. A strong sense of duty, shown in a rather puritanical precision, led unsympathetic observers to regard her as prudish, pedantic, and frigid. Her only certain fortune was £10,000. Her father had injured a considerable estate by electioneering. Her mother's brother, Lord Wentworth, approaching seventy. His estate of some £7000 a year was at his own disposal, and she was held to be his favourite; but he had illegitimate children, and his sister, Lady Scarsdale, had sons and a daughter. Miss Milbanke was, therefore, an heiress with rather uncertain prospects. 'Byron, from whatever motives, made her an offer in 1812, which was refused, and afterwards opened a correspondence with her ? which continued at intervals for two years. On 30 Nov. 1813 he notices the oddness of the situation in which there is “not a spark of love on either side.” On 15 March 1813 he receives a letter from her and says that he will be in love again if he does not take care. Meanwhile he and his friends naturally held that a marriage might be his salvation.' Lady Melbourne, whom on her death in 1818 he calls the “best, kindest, and ablest female” he ever knew, promoted a match with her niece, possibly because it would effecutally bar the intrigue with her daughter-in-law. In September 1814 he made an offer to Miss Milbanke in a letter, which, according to a story told by Moore, was the result of a momentary impulse.”, Byron may be acquitted of simply mercenary motives.
• Two are given in Madame Belloc's Byron,
He never acted upon calculation, and had he wished, he might probably have turned his attractions to better account. The sense that he was drifting into dangerous embarrassments, which suggests hints of suicide, would no doubt recommend a match with unimpeachable propriety, as the lady's vanity was equally flattered by the thought of effecting such a conversion. Byron was pre-eminently a man who combined strange infirmity of will with overpowering gusts of passion. He drifted indolently as long as drifting was pos sible, and then acted impetuously ir obedience to the uppermost influence.
Byron's marriage took place 2 Jan 1815 at Seaham, Durham, the seat of Sir R. Milbanke. The honyemoon was passed at Halna by, another of his houses in the same county. The pair returned to Seaham 21 Jan.; in March they visited Colonel and Mrs. Leigh at Si: Mile Bottom, Newmarket, on their way to London, where they settled 18 March 1815, at 13 Piccadilly Terrace for the rest of their married life. Byron, in “The Dream," chose to declare tha on his wedding day his thoughts ha been with Miss Chaworth. He als told Medwin that on leaving the hous he found the lady's-maid placed between himself and his bride in the carriage Hobhouse, who had been his “best man authoritatively contradicted this, and th statement of Mrs. Minns," who ha been Lady Byron's maid at Halnab and previously, is that Lady Byro arrived there in a state “buoyant an cheerful”; but that Byron's "irreg larity” began there and caused h misery, which she tried to conceal fro her mother. Lady Byron also wro to Hodgson (15 Feb. 1816) that Byrd had married her “with the deepe determination of revenge, avowed the day of my marriage and execut ever since with systematic and increa ing cruelty.” The letters written
First published in Newcastle Chroni 23 Sept. 1800.
Byron contradicts some report to this att to Medwin, p. 39.
Campbell, New Monthly, xxviii. 374, contradicts, on Lady Byron's authority, Medwin's statement (p. 37). that she began the correspondence.
the time, however, hardly support these statements. Byron speaks of his happness to Moore, though he is terribly bored by his “pious” father-in-law. Lady Milbanke speaks of their happiness at Seaham. Mrs. Leigh tells Hocgson that Lady Byron's parents • Were pleased with their son-in-law, and reports favourably of the pair on their visit to Six Mile Bottom. In April Lord Wentworth died. The bulk of I his property was settled upon Lady
Mitanke (who, with her husband, now
trok the name of Noel) and Lady -3. ! Byron. On 29 July 1815 Byron exe
cuted the will proved after his death. - He left all the property of which he *could dispose in trust for Mrs. Leigh
and her children, his wife and any childrer. he might have by her being now
amply provided for. Lady Byron fully approved of this provision, and com
municates it in an affectionate letter to 기
Harness says that when the Byrons first came to London no couple could be apparently more devoted; but troubles E !1 approached. Byron's expenses were inscreased. He had agreed to sell Newstead for £140,000 in September 1812; but two years later the purchaser withdrew, forfeiting £25,000, which seems to have speedily vanished. In November 1813 Byron had to sell his library, though he still declined Murray's offers
for his copyrights. Creditors (at whose Tras expense this questionable delicacy must
have been exercised) dunned the hushand of an heiress, and there were nine executions in his house within the year. He found distractions abroad. He was a zealous playgoer; Kean's perform
ance of Sir Giles Overreach gave him B:+f a kind of convulsive fit - a story which Bing recalls his mother's at the Edinburgh
theatre, and of the similar effect afterwards, produced on himself by Alfieri's
“Mirra”. He became member of the en committee of management of Drury
Lane, and was brought into connections me of which Moore savs that they gave no
real cause of offence, though the circumstances were dangerous to the "steadi
ness of married life.” We hear, too, of parties where all ended in “hiccup and happiness"; and it seems that Byron's dislike of seeing women eat led to a separation at the domestic board. The only harsh action to which he confessed was that Lady Byron once came upon him when he was musing over his embarrassments and asked “Am I in your way?” To which he replied, “Damnably."
On 10 Dec. 1815 Lady Byron gave birth to her only child, Augusta Ada. On 6 Jan. 1816 Byron gave directions to his wife “in writing" to leave London as soon as she was well enough. It was agreed, he told Medwin, that she should stay with her father till some arrangement had been made with the creditors. On 8 Jan. Lady Byron consulted Dr. Baillie, “with the concurrence of his family,” that is, apparently, Mrs. Leigh and his cousin, George Byron, with whom she constantly communicated in the following period. Dr. Baillie, on her expressing doubts of Byron's sanity, advised her absence as an “experiment.” He told her to correspond with him on “light and soothing” topics. She even believed that a sudden excitement might bring on a “fatal crisis." She left London on 15 Jan. 1816, reaching her parents at Kirkby Mallory on the 16th. She wrote affectionately to her husband on starting and arriving. The last letter, she says, was circulated to support the charge of desertion. It began, as Byron told Medwin, “Dear Duck,” and was signed by her pet name “Pippin. She writes to Mrs. Leigh on the same day that she has made “the most explicit statement” to her parents. They are anxious to do everything in their power for the “poor sufferer.”
He was to be invited at once to Kirkby Mallory, and her mother wrote accordingly on the 17th. He would probably drop a plan, already formed, for going abroad with Hobhouse on her parents' remonstrance. On 18 Jan. she tells Mrs. Leigh that she hopes that Byron will join her for a time and not leave her
till there is a prosepct of an heir. · Lady Noel has suggested that Mrs. Leigh might dilute a laudanum bottle with water without Byron's knowledge. She still writes as an affectionate wife, hoping that her husband may be cured of insanity. An apothecary, Le Mann, is to see the patient, and Lady Noel will go to London, consult Mrs. Leigh, and procure advice.
The medical advisers could find no proof of insanity, though a list of sixteen symptoms had been submitted to them. The strongest, according to Moore, was the dashing to pieces of a “favourite old watch" in an excess of fury. A similar anecdote was told of his throwing a jar of ink out of window, and his excitement at the theatre is also suggested. (Lady Byron upon hearing the medical opinion immediately decided upon separation. Dr. Baillie and a lawyer, by Lady Noel's desire, “almost forced themselves upon Byron,” Medwin, and confirmed Le Mann's report. - On 25 Jan. 1816 Lady Byron tells Mrs. Leigh that she must resign the right to be her sister, but hopes that no difference will be made in their feelings. From this time she consistently adheres to the view finally set forth in her statement in 1830. Her letters to Mrs. Leigh, to Hodgson, who had ventured to intervene, and her last letter to Byron (13 Feb. 1816), take the same ground. Byron had been guilty of conduct inexcusable if he were an accountable agent, and therefore making separation a duty when his moral responsibility was proved. She tells Mrs. Leigh and Hodgson that he married her out of revenge; she tells Hodgson (15 Feb.) that her security depended on the “total abandonment of every moral and religious principle," and tells Byron himself that to her affectionate remonstrances and forewarnings of consequences he had replied by a “determination to be wicked though it should break my heart."
On 2 Feb. 1816 Sir R. Noel proposed an amicable separation to Byron, which he at first rejected. Lady Byron went to London and saw Dr. Lushington,
who, with Sir S. Romilly, had been consulted by Lady Noel, and had then spoken of possible reconciliation. Lady Byron now informed him of facts “utterly unknown,” he says, “I have no doubt, to Sir R. and Lady Noel." His opinion was “entirely changed." He thought reconciliation impossible
, and should it be proposed he could take no part, “professionally or otherwise, towards effecting it.” Mrs. Leigh requested an interview soon after, which Lady Byron declined “with the greatest pain.” Lushington had forbidden any such interview, as they "might be called upon to answer for the most private conversation.” In a following letter (neither dated) Lady Byron beg for the interview which she had refused She cannot bear the thought of not m ing, and the "grounds of the as are in some degree changed.” 1 Accord ing to Lady Byron's statements (in 1830) Byron consented to the separation upor being told that the matter must other wise come into court.) We may easil; believe that, as Mrs. Leigh tells Mr Horton, Byron would be happy to escape the exposure,” whatever it precise nature. He afterwards threr the responsibility for reticence on th other side. He gave a paper to Mi Lewis, dated at La Mira in 1817, say ing that Hobhouse had challenged th other side to come into court; that h only yielded because Lady Byron ha claimed a promise that he would conser to a separation if she really desired i He declares his ignorance of the charge against him, and his desire to meet the openly. This paper was apparent shown only to a few friends. It wi first made public in the “Academy”, 9 Oct. 1869. Hobhouse ? also said th Byron was quite ready to go into cour and that Wilmot Horton on Lat Byron's part disclaimed all the curre scandals. It would seem, howeve Byron could have forced an open stat ment had he really chosen to do s
1 Addit. JS. 31037, ff. 33. 34.
* See Quarterly Raia for October 18 January 1870, and July 1883.
This paper shows his consciousness that time, as revealed in letters since pubhe ought to have done it if his case had lished, proves this hideous story to be been producible. | Lady Byron tells absolutely incredible. Till 1830 Mrs. Hodgson at the time (15 Feb. 1816) he Leigh continued to be on good terms "does know, too well, what he affects with Lady Byron, and had conveyed to inquire."
messages between Byron and his wife The question remains, what were the during his life. The appointment of a specific charges which decided Lady trustee under Byron's marriage settleByron and Lushington ? A happy mar- ments in 1830 led to a disagreement. riage between persons so little congenial Lady Byron refused with considerable would have surprised his best friends. irritation a request made by Mrs. Leigh. So far we might well accept the state- All acquaintance dropped, till in 1851 ment which Moore assigns to him: Lady Byron consented to an interview. "My dear sir, the causes were too
Mrs. Leigh was anxious to declare that simple to be easily found out.” But she had not (as she supposed Lady this will not explain Lady Byron's state- Byron to believe that she had) encourments at the time, nor the impression aged Byron's bitterness of feeling made upon Lushington by her private
towards his wife. Lady Byron replied avoval. Lady Byron only exchanged
simply, “Is that all?” No further the hypothesis of insanity for that communication followed, and Mrs. of diabolical pride. Byron's lifelong
Leigh died 18 Oct. 1851. It can only habit of “inverse hypocrisy” may
be surmised that Lady Byron had beaccount for something. Harness re
come jealous of Byron's public and ports that he used to send paragraphs
pointed expressions of love for his sister, to foreign papers injurious to his own
contrasted so forcibly with his uttercharacter in order to amuse himself by
ances about his wife, and in brooding mystifying the English public. Some of
over her wrongs had developed the hateLady Byron's statements may strengthen ful suspicion communicated to Mrs. the belief that she had taken some such
Stowe, and, as it seems, to others. It foolish brags too seriously,
appears too, from a passage in the Other explanations have been offered.
Guiccioli memoirs, that at a time when In 1856 Lady Byron told a story to Mrs.
Byron was accused of “every monBeecher Stowe. She thought that by
strous vice” his phrases about his pure blasting his memory she might weaken
fraternal affection suggested some such the evil influence of his writings, and
addition to the mass of calumny." shorten his expiation in another world.
Another suggestion made by Mr. Lady Byron died in 1860. After the
Jeaffreson, that the cause was a connecpublication of the Guiccioli memoirs in
tion formed by Byron about the time of 1868, Mrs. Stowe thought it her duty
the first separation with Jane Clairto publish the story in Macmillan's
mont, daughter, by a previous marMagasine for September 1869 and the
riage, of William Godwin's second wife, Atlantic Monthly. Her case is fully
seems quite inadmissible. It entirely set forth, with documents and some ex
fails to explain Lady Byron's uniform planations, in “Lady Byron vindicated;
assertions at the time and in 1830 ? that a History of the Byron Controversy,'
Byron had been guilty of conduct 1870. According to Mrs. Stowe, Lady
excusable only on the ground of inByron accused her husband to Lushing
sanity, and continued during their whole ton of an incestuous intrigue with Mrs. Leigh. An examination of all that is
· Reminiscences of an Attaché, by Hubert known of Mrs. Leigh, of the previous
Jerningham (1886), contains a curious state
ment by Mme. Guiccioli as to Byron's strong re’ations between brother and sister,
affection for his sister. and especially of Lady Byron's affec
- See ante, and letter to Lady Anne Barnard, tiorate relations to Mrs. Leigh at the
published by Lord Lindsay in the Times in September 1869.