The reader will admire the noble but severe character displayed in Lady Byron’s letter; but those who keep in view what her first impressions were, as above recorded, may probably place a more lenient interpretation than hers upon some of the incidents alleged to Byron’s discredit. I shall conclude with some remarks upon his character, written shortly after his death by a wise, virtuous, and charitable judge, the late Sir Walter Scott, likewise in a letter to Lady Anne Barnard:—
’Fletcher’s account of poor Byron is extremely interesting. I had always a strong attachment to that unfortunate though most richly-gifted man, because I thought I saw that his virtues (and he had many) were his own; and his eccentricities the result of an irritable temperament, which sometimes approached nearly to mental disease. Those who are gifted with strong nerves, a regular temper, and habitual self-command, are not, perhaps, aware how much of what they may think virtue they owe to constitution; and such are but too severe judges of men like Byron, whose mind, like a day of alternate storm and sunshine, is all dark shades and stray gleams of light, instead of the twilight gray which illuminates happier though less distinguished mortals. I always thought, that, when a moral proposition was placed plainly before Lord Byron, his mind yielded a pleased and willing assent to it; but, if there was any side view given in the way of raillery or otherwise, he was willing enough to evade conviction . . . . It augurs ill for the cause of Greece that this master-spirit should have been withdrawn from their assistance just as he was obtaining a complete ascendancy over their counsels. I have seen several letters from the Ionian Islands, all of which unite in speaking in the highest praise of the wisdom and temperance of his counsels, and the ascendancy he was obtaining over the turbulent and ferocious chiefs of the insurgents. I have some verses written by him on his last birthday: they breathe a spirit of affection towards his wife, and a desire of dying in battle, which seems like an anticipation of his approaching fate.’
I remain, sir, your obedient servant,
DUNECHT, Sept. 3.
TO THE EDITOR.
SIR,—Your paper of the 4th of September, containing an able and deeply interesting ‘Vindication of Lord Byron,’ has followed me to this place. With the general details of the ‘True Story’ (as it is termed) of Lady Byron’s separation from her husband, as recorded in ’Macmillan’s Magazine,’ I have no desire or intention to grapple. It is only with the hypothesis of insanity, as suggested by the clever writer of the ‘Vindication’ to account for Lady Byron’s sad revelations to Mrs. Beecher Stowe, with which I propose to deal. I do not believe that the mooted theory of mental