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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsLady Byron Vindicated - Part 2 - Chapter 8. Conclusion
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Lady Byron Vindicated - Part 2 - Chapter 8. Conclusion Post by :best4you Category :Nonfictions Author :Harriet Beecher Stowe Date :May 2012 Read :1429

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Lady Byron Vindicated - Part 2 - Chapter 8. Conclusion

PART II. CHAPTER VIII. CONCLUSION

In leaving this subject, I have an appeal to make to the men, and more especially to the women, who have been my readers.

In justice to Lady Byron, it must be remembered that this publication of her story is not her act, but mine. I trust you have already conceded, that, in so severe and peculiar a trial, she had a right to be understood fully by her immediate circle of friends, and to seek of them counsel in view of the moral questions to which such very exceptional circumstances must have given rise. Her communication to me was not an address to the public: it was a statement of the case for advice. True, by leaving the whole, unguarded by pledge or promise, it left discretionary power with me to use it if needful.

You, my sisters, are to judge whether the accusation laid against Lady Byron by the 'Blackwood,' in 1869, was not of so barbarous a nature as to justify my producing the truth I held in my hands in reply.

The 'Blackwood' claimed a right to re-open the subject because it was not a private but a public matter. It claimed that Lord Byron's unfortunate marriage might have changed not only his own destiny, but that of all England. It suggested, that, but for this, instead of wearing out his life in vice, and corrupting society by impure poetry, he might, at this day, have been leading the counsels of the State, and helping the onward movements of the world. Then it directly charged Lady Byron with meanly forsaking her husband in a time of worldly misfortune; with fabricating a destructive accusation of crime against him, and confirming this accusation by years of persistent silence more guilty than open assertion.

It has been alleged, that, even admitting that Lady Byron's story were true, it never ought to have been told. Is it true, then, that a woman has not the same right to individual justice that a man has? If the cases were reversed, would it have been thought just that Lord Byron should go down in history loaded with accusations of crime because he could be only vindicated by exposing the crime of his wife?

It has been said that the crime charged on Lady Byron was comparatively unimportant, and the one against Lord Byron was deadly.

But the 'Blackwood,' in opening the controversy, called Lady Byron by the name of an unnatural female criminal, whose singular atrocities alone entitle her to infamous notoriety; and the crime charged upon her was sufficient to warrant the comparison.

Both crimes are foul, unnatural, horrible; and there is no middle ground between the admission of the one or the other.

You must either conclude that a woman, all whose other works, words, and deeds were generous, just, and gentle, committed this one monstrous exceptional crime, without a motive, and against all the analogies of her character, and all the analogies of her treatment of others; or you must suppose that a man known by all testimony to have been boundlessly licentious, who took the very course which, by every physiological law, would have led to unnatural results, did, at last, commit an unnatural crime.

The question, whether I did right, when Lady Byron was thus held up as an abandoned criminal by the 'Blackwood,' to interpose my knowledge of the real truth in her defence, is a serious one; but it is one for which I must account to God alone, and in which, without any contempt of the opinions of my fellow-creatures, I must say, that it is a small thing to be judged of man's judgment.

I had in the case a responsibility very different from that of many others. I had been consulted in relation to the publication of this story by Lady Byron, at a time when she had it in her power to have exhibited it with all its proofs, and commanded an instant conviction. I have reason to think that my advice had some weight in suppressing that disclosure. I gave that advice under the impression that the Byron controversy was a thing for ever passed, and never likely to return.

It had never occurred to me, that, nine years after Lady Byron's death, a standard English periodical would declare itself free to re-open this controversy, when all the generation who were her witnesses had passed from earth; and that it would re-open it in the most savage form of accusation, and with the indorsement and commendation of a book of the vilest slanders, edited by Lord Byron's mistress.

Let the reader mark the retributions of justice. The accusations of the 'Blackwood,' in 1869, were simply an intensified form of those first concocted by Lord Byron in his 'Clytemnestra' poem of 1816. He forged that weapon, and bequeathed it to his party. The 'Blackwood' took it up, gave it a sharper edge, and drove it to the heart of Lady Byron's fame. The result has been the disclosure of this history. It is, then, Lord Byron himself, who, by his network of wiles, his ceaseless persecutions of his wife, his efforts to extend his partisanship beyond the grave, has brought on this tumultuous exposure. He, and he alone, is the cause of this revelation.

And now I have one word to say to those in England who, with all the facts and documents in their hands which could at once have cleared Lady Byron's fame, allowed the barbarous assault of the 'Blackwood' to go over the civilised world without a reply. I speak to those who, knowing that I am speaking the truth, stand silent; to those who have now the ability to produce the facts and documents by which this cause might be instantly settled, and who do not produce them.

I do not judge them; but I remind them that a day is coming when they and I must stand side by side at the great judgment-seat,--I to give an account for my speaking, they for their silence.

In that day, all earthly considerations will have vanished like morning mists, and truth or falsehood, justice or injustice, will be the only realities.

In that day, God, who will judge the secrets of all men, will judge between this man and this woman. Then, if never before, the full truth shall be told both of the depraved and dissolute man who made it his life's object to defame the innocent, and the silent, the self-denying woman who made it her life's object to give space for repentance to the guilty.

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