The Late Lord Byron: Posthumous Dramas

By Doris Langley Moore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
THOMAS Moore VERSUS SEVERAL ANTAGONISTS

It was hardly to be expected that, when people from the outer fringes of the Byron orbit were selling their real or pretended recollections for good round sums, Thomas Moore was going to remain for ever in unrewarding silence. He had put in his claim to be biographer even before Byron's own manuscript was burned, saying, after he had so rashly consented to give it up to Mrs Leigh: 'I hope after this sacrifice that if any Memoirs are to be written the family will give me the preference.' Kinnaird had replied: 'I think they ought,' but Hobhouse had protested, 'Why, that must be for consideration.'

'Here was a specimen of a poet's friendship!!' Hobhouse wrote afterwards in his diary. 'It was like Rousseau's consoling himself for Claude Anet's loss by thinking he should get his old coat.'1

Moore did not see it as so contemptible a thing to be the chronicler of a great poet whom he had intimately known, and, being deep in debt to his publisher for the part Hobhouse had forced him to play in the drama of the Memoirs, he looked to recouping himself by writing about his friend.

Medwin's unworthy book afforded him, as he thought, an opportunity to win family authority for his own, and before the end of 1824 he had approached Lady Byron's friend, Colonel Doyle, asking for his good offices with the two ladies. He did not guess that Mrs Leigh positively hated him -- how could he, seeing she had never met him? -- and that she would take council with Lady Byron in the most hostile spirit:

I am routed from my silence today by receiving thro' Wilmot from Col. Doyle a letter of Mr Moore -- which I conclude has in the first instance been forwarded to you -- I am anxious to know what you do and answer on the subject -- I detest his very name -- but then we are to remember that he reserved to himself the power of saying what a noble sacrifice he has made to me, in putting the Memoirs into my hands! It really torments me to death and as if this letter was not enough, I have one from Lady Jersey from Bowood (Lord Lansdowne's) saying she hopes I will allow Ld. L. to call upon me 'when he will convince me in a few minutes how nobly Moore acted and that Murray only wanted ye money -- and asked Moore for the interest of the £2000!' She 'is sure I cannot like the poor little man to be a sufferer by what my Brother meant him to be enriched' and she thinks if he does not like to take the money, it ought to be given into some Trustees hands for the benefit of the Boy [ Moore's son]. That he could not refuse and that it

____________________
1
Hobhouse Journals, 15 May 1824.

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