The Late Lord Byron: Posthumous Dramas

By Doris Langley Moore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
LADY BYRON'S 'REMARKS'

For all his general perceptiveness, there was a vein of fatuity in Moore which allowed him to believe every compliment that was paid to him. His journal sometimes becomes little more than a register of the effect of his singing upon drawing-room audiences (it must have had extraordinary charm, for once even Hobhouse was delighted) and all the fine things he heard about his literary works.

On February 2nd, 1830, soon after the first volume of his Life of Byron came out, and while the second was in the press, he had a conversation with John Murray and John Croker about 'the letter Davison, the printer, had from Bland, Lady Byron's solicitor, in which he says that Lady Byron was highly pleased with the "Life" '.1 Even Moore must have found this difficult to swallow, and he goes on, ' Murray assured me that Bland is not the man to have said this, unless he had good grounds'.

Within the next few weeks, they were abruptly disillusioned. Lady Byron had issued, and was circulating privately but on a very considerable scale, a pamphlet which expressed the reverse of admiration for the book. It began with the contemptuous words:

I have disregarded various publications in which facts within my own knowledge have been grossly misrepresented; but I am called upon to notice some of the erroneous statements proceeding from one who claims to be considered as Lord Byron's confidential and authorized friend. Domestic details ought not to be intruded on the public attention; if, however, they are so intruded, the persons affected by them have a right to refute injurious charges. Mr Moore has promulgated his own impressions of private events in which I was most nearly concerned, as if he possessed a competent knowledge of the subject.

Disclaiming any spirit of self-vindication or accusation, professing extreme reluctance to advert to her marriage, she declared that the conduct of her parents had been 'brought forward in a disgraceful light, by the passages selected from Lord Byron's letters, and by the remarks of his biographer', and that she felt bound to defend their characters from false imputations. Byron had said and Moore had let his readers believe that her mother had exercised undue influence upon her, and that Mrs Clermont had played the part of a domestic spy.

She set about a denial of both aspersions, and in doing so, found it necessary to make unmistakable references to Augusta. Explaining

____________________
1
MOORE, Memoirs. John Davison Bland was a trustee of part of Lady Byron's fortune.

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