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Harriet Beecher Stowe
Lady Byron Vindicated

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LADY BYRON VINDICATED BY HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.


A history of the Byron Controversy from its beginning in 1816 to the present time.


NOTE BY THE PUBLISHERS.


The subject of this volume is of such painful notoriety that any apology from the Publishers may seem unnecessary upon issuing the Author's reply to the counter statements which her narrative in Macmillan's Magazine has called forth. Nevertheless they consider it right to state that their strong regard for the Author, respect for her motives, and assurance of her truthfulness, would, even in the absence of all other considerations, be sufficient to induce them to place their imprint on the title-page.


The publication has been undertaken by them at the Author's request, 'as her friends,' and as the publishers of her former works, and from a feeling that whatever difference of opinion may be entertained respecting the Author's judiciousness in publishing 'The True Story,' she is entitled to defend it, having been treated with grave injustice, and often with much maliciousness, by her critics and opponents, and been charged with motives from which no person living is more free. An intense love of justice and hatred of oppression, with an utter disregard of her own interests, characterise Mrs. Stowe's conduct and writings, as all who know her well will testify; and the Publishers can unhesitatingly affirm their belief that neither fear for loss of her literary fame, nor hope of gain, has for one moment influenced her in the course she has taken.


LONDON: January 1870.


CONTENTS.


PART I.


CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION


CHAPTER II. THE ATTACK ON LADY BYRON


CHAPTER III. RÉSUMÉ OF THE CONSPIRACY


CHAPTER IV. RESULTS AFTER LORD BYRON'S DEATH


CHAPTER V. THE ATTACK ON LADY BYRON'S GRAVE


PART II.


CHAPTER I. LADY BYRON AS I KNEW HER


CHAPTER II. LADY BYRON'S STORY AS TOLD ME


CHAPTER III. CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY OF EVENTS


CHAPTER IV. THE CHARACTER OF THE TWO WITNESSES COMPARED


CHAPTER V. THE DIRECT ARGUMENT TO PROVE THE CRIME


CHAPTER VI. PHYSIOLOGICAL ARGUMENT


CHAPTER VII. HOW COULD SHE LOVE HIM?


CHAPTER VIII. CONCLUSION


PART III. MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS.


THE TRUE STORY OF LADY BYRON'S LIFE (AS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 'THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY')


LORD LINDSAY'S LETTER TO 'THE LONDON TIMES'


DR. FORBES WINSLOW'S LETTER TO 'THE LONDON TIMES'


EXTRACT FROM LORD BYRON'S EXPUNGED LETTER TO MURRAY


EXTRACTS FROM 'BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE'


LETTERS OF LADY BYRON TO H. C. ROBINSON


DOMESTIC POEMS BY LORD BYRON


PART I.



<p>CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION.</p><br />

The interval since my publication of 'The True Story of Lady Byron's Life' has been one of stormy discussion and of much invective.


I have not thought it necessary to disturb my spirit and confuse my sense of right by even an attempt at reading the many abusive articles that both here and in England have followed that disclosure. Friends have undertaken the task for me, giving me from time to time the substance of anything really worthy of attention which came to view in the tumult.


It appeared to me essential that this first excitement should in a measure spend itself before there would be a possibility of speaking to any purpose. Now, when all would seem to have spoken who can speak, and, it is to be hoped, have said the utmost they can say, there seems a propriety in listening calmly, if that be possible, to what I have to say in reply.


And, first, why have I made this disclosure at all?


To this I answer briefly, Because I considered it my duty to make it.


I made it in defence of a beloved, revered friend, whose memory stood forth in the eyes of the civilised world charged with most repulsive crimes, of which I certainly knew her innocent.


I claim, and shall prove, that Lady Byron's reputation has been the victim of a concerted attack, begun by her husband during her lifetime, and coming to its climax over her grave. I claim, and shall prove, that it was not I who stirred up this controversy in this year 1869. I shall show who did do it, and who is responsible for bringing on me that hard duty of making these disclosures, which it appears to me ought to have been made by others.


I claim that these facts were given to me unguarded by any promise or seal of secrecy, expressed or implied; that they were lodged with me as one sister rests her story with another for sympathy, for counsel, for defence. Never did I suppose the day would come that I should be subjected to so cruel an anguish as this use of them has been to me. Never did I suppose that,-when those kind hands, that had shed nothing but blessings, were lying in the helplessness of death, when that gentle heart, so sorely tried and to the last so full of love, was lying cold in the tomb,-a countryman in England could be found to cast the foulest slanders on her grave, and not one in all England to raise an effective voice in her defence.


I admit the feebleness of my plea, in point of execution. It was written in a state of exhausted health, when no labour of the kind was safe for me,-when my hand had not strength to hold the pen, and I was forced to dictate to another.


I have been told that I have no reason to congratulate myself on it as a literary effort. O my brothers and sisters! is there then nothing in the world to think of but literary efforts? I ask any man with a heart in his bosom, if he had been obliged to tell a story so cruel, because his mother's grave gave no rest from slander,-I ask any woman who had been forced to such a disclosure to free a dead sister's name from grossest insults, whether she would have thought of making this work of bitterness a literary success?


Are the cries of the oppressed, the gasps of the dying, the last prayers of mothers,-are any words wrung like drops of blood from the human heart to be judged as literary efforts?


My fellow-countrymen of America, men of the press, I have done you one act of justice,-of all your bitter articles, I have read not one. I shall never be troubled in the future time by the remembrance of any unkind word you have said of me, for at this moment I recollect not one. I had such faith in you, such pride in my countrymen, as men with whom, above all others, the cause of woman was safe and sacred, that I was at first astonished and incredulous at what I heard of the course of the American press, and was silent, not merely from the impossibility of being heard, but from grief and shame. But reflection convinces me that you were, in many cases, acting from a misunderstanding of facts and through misguided honourable feeling; and I still feel courage, therefore, to ask from you a fair hearing. Now, as I have done you this justice, will you also do me the justice to hear me seriously and candidly?


What interest have you or I, my brother and my sister, in this short life of ours, to utter anything but the truth? Is not truth between man and man and between man and woman the foundation on which all things rest? Have you not, every individual of you, who must hereafter give an account yourself alone to God, an interest to know the exact truth in this matter, and a duty to perform as respects that truth? Hear me, then, while I tell you the position in which I stood, and what was my course in relation to it.


A shameless attack on my friend's memory had appeared in the 'Blackwood' of July 1869, branding Lady Byron as the vilest of criminals, and recommending the Guiccioli book to a Christian public as interesting from the very fact that it was the avowed production of Lord Byron's mistress. No efficient protest was made against this outrage in England, and Littell's 'Living Age' reprinted the 'Blackwood' article, and the Harpers, the largest publishing house in America, perhaps in the world, re-published the book.


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