The innocence with which Moore gives himself up to be manipulated by Lord Byron, the naivete with which he shows all the process, let us a little into the secret of the marvellous powers of charming and blinding which this great actor possessed.
Lord Byron had the beauty, the wit, the genius, the dramatic talent, which have constituted the strength of some wonderfully fascinating women.
There have been women able to lead their leashes of blinded adorers; to make them swear that black was white, or white black, at their word; to smile away their senses, or weep away their reason. No matter what these sirens may say, no matter what they may do, though caught in a thousand transparent lies, and doing a thousand deeds which would have ruined others, still men madly rave after them in life, and tear their hair over their graves. Such an enchanter in man’s shape was Lord Byron.
He led captive Moore and Murray by being beautiful, a genius, and a lord; calling them ‘Dear Tom’ and ‘Dear Murray,’ while they were only commoners. He first insulted Sir Walter Scott, and then witched his heart out of him by ingenuous confessions and poetical compliments; he took Wilson’s heart by flattering messages and a beautifully-written letter; he corresponded familiarly with Hogg; and, before his death, had made fast friends, in one way or another, of the whole ’Noctes Ambrosianae’ Club.
We thus have given the historical resume of Lord Byron’s attacks on his wife’s reputation: we shall add, that they were based on philosophic principles, showing a deep knowledge of mankind. An analysis will show that they can be philosophically classified:—
1st. Those which addressed the sympathetic nature of man, representing her as cold, methodical, severe, strict, unforgiving.
2nd. Those addressed to the faculty of association, connecting her with ludicrous and licentious images; taking from her the usual protection of womanly delicacy and sacredness.
3rd. Those addressed to the moral faculties, accusing her as artful, treacherous, untruthful, malignant.
All these various devices he held in his hand, shuffling and dealing them as a careful gamester his pack of cards according to the exigencies of the game. He played adroitly, skilfully, with blinding flatteries and seductive wiles, that made his victims willing dupes.
Nothing can more clearly show the power and perfectness of his enchantments than the masterly way in which he turned back the moral force of the whole English nation, which had risen at first in its strength against him. The victory was complete.