SIR,—I have waited in expectation of a categorical denial of the horrible charge brought by Mrs. Beecher Stowe against Lord Byron and his sister on the alleged authority of the late Lady Byron. Such denial has been only indirectly given by the letter of Messrs. Wharton and Fords in your impression of yesterday. That letter is sufficient to prove that Lady Byron never contemplated the use made of her name, and that her descendants and representatives disclaim any countenance of Mrs. B. Stowe’s article; but it does not specifically meet Mrs. Stowe’s allegation, that Lady Byron, in conversing with her thirteen years ago, affirmed the charge now before us. It remains open, therefore, to a scandal-loving world, to credit the calumny through the advantage of this flaw, involuntary, I believe, in the answer produced against it. My object in addressing you is to supply that deficiency by proving that what is now stated on Lady Byron’s supposed authority is at variance, in all respects, with what she stated immediately after the separation, when everything was fresh in her memory in relation to the time during which, according to Mrs. B. Stowe, she believed that Byron and his sister were living together in guilt. I publish this evidence with reluctance, but in obedience to that higher obligation of justice to the voiceless and defenceless dead which bids me break through a reserve that otherwise I should have held sacred. The Lady Byron of 1818 would, I am certain, have sanctioned my doing so, had she foreseen the present unparalleled occasion, and the bar that the conditions of her will present (as I infer from Messrs Wharton and Fords’ letter) against any fuller communication. Calumnies such as the present sink deep and with rapidity into the public mind, and are not easily eradicated. The fame of one of our greatest poets, and that of the kindest and truest and most constant friend that Byron ever had, is at stake; and it will not do to wait for revelations from the fountain-head, which are not promised, and possibly may never reach us.
The late Lady Anne Barnard, who died in 1825, a contemporary and friend of Burke, Windham, Dundas, and a host of the wise and good of that generation, and remembered in letters as the authoress of ’Auld Robin Gray,’ had known the late Lady Byron from infancy, and took a warm interest in her; holding Lord Byron in corresponding repugnance, not to say prejudice, in consequence of what she believed to be his harsh and cruel treatment of her young friend. I transcribe the following passages, and a letter from Lady Byron herself (written in 1818) from ricordi, or private family memoirs, in Lady Anne’s autograph, now before me. I include the letter, because, although treating only in general terms of the matter and causes of the separation, it affords collateral evidence bearing strictly upon the point of the credibility of the charge now in question:—