Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/573

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
535
POEMS OF THE SEPARATION.

Whig and the Sunday News, which favoured the "opposition," printed both poems, with prefatory notices more or less favourable to the writer; whereas the Tory Antigallican Monitor, which also printed both poems, added the significant remark that "if everything said of Lord Byron be true, it would appear that the Whigs were not altogether so immaculate as they themselves would wish the world to suppose."

The testimony of the press is instructive from two points of view. In the first place, it tends to show that the controversy was conducted on party lines; and, secondly, that the editor of the Champion was in some degree responsible for the wide diffusion and lasting publicity of the scandal. The separation of Lord and Lady Byron must, in any case, have been more than a nine days' wonder, but if the circulation of the "pamphlet" had been strictly confined to the "initiated," the excitement and interest of the general public would have smouldered and died out for lack of material.

In his second letter on Bowles, dated March 25, 1821 (Observations upon Observations, Life, 1892, p. 705), Byron alludes to the publication of these poems in the Champion, and comments on the behaviour of the editor, who had recently (February 16, 1821) been killed in a duel. He does not minimize the wrong, but he pays a fine and generous tribute to the courage and worth of his assailant. "Poor Scott is now no more ... he died like a brave man, and he lived an able one," etc. It may be added that Byron was an anonymous subscriber to a fund raised by Sir James Mackintosh, Murray, and others, for "the helpless family of a man of virtue and ability." (London Magazine, April, 1821, vol. iii. p. 359).

For chronological reasons, and in accordance with the precedent of the edition of 1832, a third poem, Stanzas to Augusta, has been included in this group.