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|Public beyond a hope
Written by Tarn
(10/19/2010 3:34 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, A question, penned by Barb JA
The other side of the story, from Lord Byron to Lady Melbourne (mother of William Lambe, MIL of Lady Caroline and Aunt of Miss Milibanke)on the 6th July "I only saw her dancing and in the doorway for a moment, where she said something so very violent that I was in distress lest Ld Y. or Ly Rancliffe overheard her...I am in stupid innocence and ignorance of my offence or her proceedings. If I am to be haunted with hysterics wherever I go, and whatever I do, I think she is not the only person to be pitied. I should have returned to her after her doorway whisper, but I could not with any kind of politeness leave Ly Rancliffe to drown herself in wine and water, or be suffocated in a jelly dish, without a spoon, or a hand to help her; besides if there was, and I foresaw there would be something ridiculous, surely I was better absent than present."
And on the 9th of July
And then, on July 18th, when the sale of Newstead fell through and Byron kept the deposit (or had already spent it), and Miss Millibanke had written to Lady Melbourne that she had heard a report in London that Lord Byron had behaved very unhandsomely to the 'young man who purchased Newstead'
He continues to protest too much about Lady Caroline Lamb in August ("I hear very seldom from her"), and (I suspect, to increase any romantic anxieties for him in the heart of Miss Milibanke, to whom the substance of these letters might be revealed) hints that he might leave the country, or join the Moravian Brethren, before finally leaving London...for the races, at Aston.
I think Caroline Lamb was a bit lucky, having a husband who took her off to the country and did not divorce her, and a mother-in-law whose affairs in the past (with the Prince Regent, among others) and association with Byron in the present, severely limited her talking room. Still, Lady Caroline did not go gently into that good night - she was not prepared to be bundled off to the country to live quietly while there was such hypocrisy and double standards being applied to her and not to him. She became the stalker ex from hell, and then (in 1816)wrote a roman à clef called 'Glenarvon' that went into four editions that year, portraying Byron as a turncoat unionist in Ireland in 1798, in a way that made her personal and political point, but owed nothing to imagination.
Yes, you say, but Jane Austen would not have known about all that. Well, only because Glenarvon was written two years after MP was published. The thing is, Byron was famous. More famous than, say, Russell Brand, and at a time when there was no bill of rights, no privacy legislation, no limits to what the press would do. His private letters, and snatches of private verse would find their way into the newspapers, sold by servants or given by gossips. You can follow the speeches he made in the day, and the parties he attended in the evenings in the newspapers, the days when there is no news padded out with a satiric epigrams by 'Hafiz' or some cryptic sentences with Italicized words to let those in the know know what they are referring to (you can see from his letters that Byron knew how to interpret this code. I have not yet worked it out).
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