This is the kind of woman who has lately been accused in the public prints as a babbler of secrets and a gossip in regard to her private difficulties with children, grandchildren, and servants. It is a fair specimen of the justice that has generally been meted out to Lady Byron.
In 1836, she was accused of having made a confidant of Campbell, on the strength of having written him a note declining to give him any information, or answer any questions. In July, 1869, she was denounced by ‘Blackwood’ as a Madame Brinvilliers for keeping such perfect silence on the matter of her husband’s character; and in the last ‘Quarterly’ she is spoken of as a gossip ’running round, and repeating her story to people below her in rank.’
While we are upon this subject, we have a suggestion to make. John Stuart Mill says that utter self-abnegation has been preached to women as a peculiarly feminine virtue. It is true; but there is a moral limit to the value of self-abnegation.
It is a fair question for the moralist, whether it is right and proper wholly to ignore one’s personal claims to justice. The teachings of the Saviour give us warrant for submitting to personal injuries; but both the Saviour and St. Paul manifested bravery in denying false accusations, and asserting innocence.
Lady Byron was falsely accused of having ruined the man of his generation, and caused all his vices and crimes, and all their evil effects on society. She submitted to the accusation for a certain number of years for reasons which commended themselves to her conscience; but when all the personal considerations were removed, and she was about passing from life, it was right, it was just, it was strictly in accordance with the philosophical and ethical character of her mind, and with her habit of considering all things in their widest relations to the good of mankind, that she should give serious attention and consideration to the last duty which she might owe to abstract truth and justice in her generation.
In her letter on the religious state of England, we find her advocating an absolute frankness in all religious parties. She would have all openly confess those doubts, which, from the best of motives, are usually suppressed; and believed, that, as a result of such perfect truthfulness, a wider love would prevail among Christians. This shows the strength of her conviction of the power and the importance of absolute truth; and shows, therefore, that her doubts and conscientious inquiries respecting her duty on this subject are exactly what might have been expected from a person of her character and principles.
Having thus shown that Lady Byron’s testimony is the testimony of a woman of strong and sound mind, that it was not given from malice nor ill-will, that it was given at a proper time and in a proper manner, and for a purpose in accordance with the most elevated moral views, and that it is coincident with all the established facts of this history, and furnishes a perfect solution of every mystery of the case, we think we shall carry the reader with us in saying that it is to be received as absolute truth.