LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Lady Morgan’s Memoirs
Chapter XXXV

Vol. I Contents.
Prefatory Address
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
‣ Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXVI
Chapter XXXVII
Vol. I Index
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter IV
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXVI
Chapter XXXVII
Chapter XXXIX
Chapter XL
Vol. II Index
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The following passage is a frank confession of principle and practice from a young, much admired, and unmarried woman. It is from a diary of the year 1811. In Lady Morgan’s own writing it is endorsed

Self, 1811.”

Inconsiderate and indiscreet, never saved by prudence, but often rescued by pride; often on the very verge of error, but never passing the line. Committing myself in every way—except in my own esteem,—without any command over my feelings, my words, or writings,—yet full of self-possession as to action and conduct,—once reaching the boundary of right even with my feet on the threshold of wrong; capable, like a menage horse, of stopping short, coolly considering the risk I encounter, and turning sharply back for the post from whence I started, feeling myself quite side, and, in a word—quitte pour la peur.


Early imbued with the high sentiments belonging to good birth, and with the fine feelings which accompany good education. My father was a player and a gentleman. I learned early to feel acutely my situation; my nature was supremely above my circumstances and situation, the first principle or passion that rooted in my breast, was a species of proud indignation, which accompanies me to that premature death, of which it is finally the cause. My first point of society was to behold the conflict between two unequal minds—the one (my mother) strong and rigid—the other weak and yielding; the one strong to arrest dispute—the other accelerating its approach. The details which made up the mass were—seeing a father frequently torn to prison—a mother on the point of beggary with her children, and all those shocks of suffering which human nature can disdain, and which can only occur in a certain sphere of life and a certain state of society. Man, who has his appetites to gratify, which Nature supplies in his social or artificial character, has thousands of wants which suffering poverty may deny; and even their gratification is not always attended with effects proportionate to their cause. So delicately and fatally organised, that objects impalpable to others, were by me accurately perceived, felt and combined; that the faint ray which neither warmed nor brightened, often gave a glow and a lustre to my spirits; that the faintest vapour through its evanescent passage through the atmosphere, threw no shadow on the most reflecting object, darkened my prospects, and gloomed my
thoughts. Oh! it was this unhappy physical organisation, this nervous susceptibility to every impression which circulated through my frame and rendered the whole system acute, which formed the basis of that condition of my mind and being, upon which circumstances and events raised the after superstructure. So few have been the days on which I sighed not that night close on them for ever—that I could now distinctly count them—alas! were they not the most dangerous of my days; the smiling and delusive preparations of supreme misery which time never failed to administer.

It may be supposed that life hastens to its close when its views are thus tinged with hues so dark and so terrific? But the hand which now writes this has lost nothing of the contour of health or the symmetry of youth. I am in possession of all the fame I ever hoped or ambitioned. I wear not the appearance of twenty years; I am now, as I generally am, sad and miserable.

Sydney Owenson.
July 12th, 1811, Dublin.

This tendency to depression of spirits—which, the reader should remember, was exhibited before the whole world had learned from Byron to turn down its shirt collar, and express the elegant despair of Childe Harold,—induced her to put away sorrow as an evil thing; her cheerfulness was a reality—a habit of mind which she carefully and systematically cultivated.

Another entry in the next page is of the same tone.


“It is a melancholy conviction that all my starts of happiness are but illusions; that I feel I do but dream even while I am dreaming,—and that in the midst of the inebriety I court, I am haunted by the expectation of being awakened to that state of hopeless melancholy which alone is real—and felt and known to be so. It is in vain that my fancy steeps me in forgetfulness. The happy wreath which the finger of peace wreathed round my head, suddenly drops off, and the soft vapours that encircled it, scathe and dissipate;—all in truth and fact, sad, dreary and miserable—
“‘I may submit to occasions, but I cannot stoop to persons.’

“I may not say with Proverbs—‘Wisdom dwelleth with Prudence.’”

The position of this young woman of genius in the household of a great family, if brilliant in outward show, was accompanied by a thousand vexations. The elopement of Marchioness Cecil with Lieutenant Copley had not increased Lord Abercorn’s native respect for female virtue. The third wife and her husband lived on terms of excessive politeness with each other; and poor Miss Owenson was expected to bear their tempers and attentions; to sit in the cross-fire of their humours, and to find good spirits and sprightly conversation when they were dull. Add to this, that heavy pressure of anxiety about family matters which was laid upon her before her nerves and sinews were braced to meet it, and before she had any worldly knowledge,
produced a feeling of exhaustion. In the material prosperity of her life at Baron’s Court, the tension relaxed, and the fatigue of past exertion asserted itself.

Her own ambition had never allowed her to rest; she had been wonderfully successful; but, at Baron’s Court and Stanmore Priory, all she had obtained looked dwarfed and small when measured by the hereditary power and consequence of the family in which she was for the time an inmate. She did not become discontented; but she was disenchanted (for the time) with all that belonged to herself, and saw her own position on its true comparative scale. Sydney Owenson, from earliest childhood had depended on herself alone for counsel and support. There is no sign that she ever felt those moments of religious aspiration, when a human being, sensible of its own weakness and ignorance, cries for help to Him who made us; there are no ejaculations of prayer, or of thanksgiving; she proudly took up her own burden and bore it as well as she could; finding her own way and shaping her life according to her own idea of what ought to form her being’s end and aim. She was a courageous, indomitable spirit, but the constant dependence on herself, the steady concentration of purpose with which she followed out her own career, without letting herself be turned aside, gave a hardness to her nature, which, though it did not destroy her kindness and honesty of heart, petrified the tender grace which makes the charm of goodness. No one can judge Sydney Owenson, because no one can know all the struggles, difficulties,
temptations, flatteries and defamation, which she had to encounter, without the shelter or support of a home or the circle of home relatives. She remained an indestructibly honest woman; but every faculty she possessed had undergone a change, which seemed to make her of a different species to other women.

The portrait of Miss Owenson was at length finished by Sir Thomas Lawrence, and the romance of The Missionary printed by Stockdale. The portrait was to be prefixed; but Lawrence, for the reasons given, requested that his name might not appear.

Sir Thomas Lawrence to Miss Owenson.
Greek Street,
January 21st, 1811.
Dear Madam,

I must be indebted to your kindness (and I fear it must put you to the trouble of writing) for preventing the insertion of my name in Mr. Stockdale’s advertisement.

I have an anxious desire that the readers of The Missionary may be gratified with as accurate a resemblance of its author, as can in that size be given, but from the drawing being so much reduced, the engraving must be comparatively defective; and besides this, I have no wish to be seen to interfere with the province of other artists who are professionally employed in making portraits for books.

There are many of them whose talents I very highly respect, and might reasonably be jealous of, did they
encroach on my province in painting, but our present walk in art is distinct.

I will take the greatest care that the drawing be as well copied as possible; the engraver has just left me.

Let me beg the favour of you in your communication to Mr. Stockdale, to give it simply as your demand (as a condition of the drawing being lent by you for the purpose,) without stating the reason I have advanced, which might by that gentleman be made matter of offence to others.

Believe me, with the truest respect,

Dear Madam,
Most faithfully yours,
Thos. Lawrence.

On the publication of the book, Miss Owenson came from the Priory to London, to her old friends, the Pattersons. From York Place she wrote to Lady Stanley.

Miss Owenson to Lady Stanley.
London, 12, York Place,
Portman Square,
April 12, 1811.
Dearest, kindest of Ladies,

By this you have received my little packet; it is near a fortnight since I sent it to be franked, and I have been rather anxious as to its fate, but perhaps at this very moment you are seated at your fireside, Poll at your feet, and Pug beside you, and The Missionary
in your hands; but in a few days I shall cease to envy Poll, Pug, or Missionary, for I shall be in your arms. I leave this heaven upon earth on the evening of the 30th, so I suppose I shall be with you about the 2nd of May, and you will, perhaps, meet me at Holyhead. And, now, who do you think I am waiting at home for? only
Sir John Stanley—it is all very true! Both your sons openly avow their passion for me; and Lady Stanley is the most generous of rivals! I have been now one blessed fortnight in this region of delight, and were I to describe to you the kind of attention I excite and receive, you would either laugh at, or pity me, and say “her head is turned, poor little animal;” and you would say very true. But I will tell you all when we meet, a period now not far distant. I mean to send my trunks, directed for you, to Mr. Spencer’s, by one of the heavy coaches, so pray have the goodness to mention the circumstance to him, as it will ensure the safety of my poor little property. Your letter was most gracious, and received with infinite pleasure. Dearest and kindest of friends,

God keep you ever,

I am on a visit to an East Indian nabob’s, whose wife and family are all kindness to me.

This “East India nabob and his family,” were Captain and Mrs. Patterson; they admired the young authoress, and were glad to have her in their house, and they placed it and their carriage at her disposal. Some-
times Mrs. Patterson was invited to accompany her on her visits, and
Miss Owenson received her friends in their house. The Pattersons were not brilliant people; but they were thoroughly kind-hearted; they enjoyed Miss Owenson’s success, and also the glimpses of high society which they obtained through the visitors who called on their guest. Lady Morgan used to tell, in a most amusing way, a story of how, one evening, she and Mrs. Patterson being engaged to a grand party, were obliged to go there in—a hackney-coach; some accidental hinderance about the carriage having occurred at the last moment. The thought of this hackney-coach tormented Miss Owenson all the evening, and destroyed both her peace and pleasure; the idea of what people would say, and, still worse, what they would think, if they discovered she had come in a hackney-coach!

She persuaded Mrs. Patterson to depart early, in the hope of escaping detection; but Lord George Granville, who was very much her admirer, perceived her exit, and insisted upon “seeing her to her carriage!”

Lady Morgan used to declare, that her agony of false shame was dreadful; but sooner than confess, she allowed the servants “to call her coach, and let her coach be called”; but of course it did not come. She then insisted upon “walking on to find it,” and entreated Lord George to leave them to the servant, whom they had brought with them; but he was too gallant, and still insisted on keeping them company “till they should find their carriage.”


The hackney coachman, who had been ordered to wait, espied them, and followed to explain that he was there and waiting. Mrs. Patterson took no notice; Miss Owenson took no notice; the footman, who guessed their troubles, took no notice either. The hackney-coachman continued to follow them.

“What does that man mean by following us?” asked Lord George.

“I really cannot imagine,” said the elder lady.

“I wish he would go away,” said the younger one.

“What do you want, fellow?” asked Lord George.

“I want these ladies either to get into my coach or to pay me my fare.”

“What does he mean—is he drunk?”

“No,” said Miss Owenson, at last, laughing at the dilemma; “but the fact is, that we were so ashamed of coming in a hackney-coach, that we wanted nobody to know it.”

Mrs. Patterson proceeded to explain all about how it had happened that they were deprived of the use of their own carriage; but her representations were drowned in the peals of laughter with which Miss Owenson and Lord George recognised the absurdity of the situation.

“So you came in a hackney-coach, and would rather have walked home in the mud than have had it known. How very Irish!” was his lordship’s comment. He put them into their despised coach, and saw them drive away.

The comparative failure of The Missionary, together with the troubles she had met with from her publishers,
Miss Owenson’s mind for a moment from the romance towards the drama. She had an hereditary leaning to the stage. Her father had been a manager and a comedian. She herself had written a successful musical piece. The theatre offered her many inducements to try her hand at a play; and she had so far thought of it as to consult Lord Abercorn on the choice of a hero. Lord Abercorn’s answer is among her papers.

Lord Abercorn to Miss Owenson.
[No date.]

I read your letter to the person you desired, dear, and if I did not write “by return” (O you Irish expression, why cannot I write the proper brogue for such a broguey expression?) you must still impute it to the penny postman’s life I am living, for when you ask me a question worth an answer, I will never delay it.

What your genius for melodrama, or any drama may be, I have no other reason for guessing than my suspicion that you have genius enough for anything that you will give proper attention to. I should, however, be sorry that the drama, in any shape, should supersede the intentions of the romance or novel production that you last professed.

Hand-in-hand with it I have no objection; and as you give me my choice of two heroes, I will so far decide that he shall not be Henry
the Fourth (
Henry the Fourth of France). In the first place he is hackneyed to death and damnation; in the second, between ourselves (and spite of the whole female race whose favourite hero he is) he was no hero at all; he was a brave, good-natured, weak, selfish gentleman, and had he been endowed with higher mind and nature than he was, still his infamous conduct to the Prince de Condé would have blotted him out of my list.

The qualities, virtues, and vices of Francis the First were of a more kingly kind; and though he was hardly a hero, he was a good deal more like one; his time, too, was more chivalric, and the events of it, as well as his own words and actions, having been less hackneyed, may be worked up far more entertainingly and interestingly.

So much for my wisdom with which I shall begin and end.

So bye-bye, sweet Glo.

Lord Abercorn’s objection to Henri Quatre as a hero, in spite of all feminine preferences to the contrary, were probaby personal Henri’s “infamous conduct” towards Condé perhaps reminded him of Lieutenant Copley’s “infamous conduct” to the Marquis of Abercorn.

During this visit to London, Miss Owenson made the acquaintance, and won the enduring friendship of that woman of unhappy genius, Lady Caroline Lamb. Born in the highest rank, gifted with the rarest powers, at once an artist, a poetess, a writer of romance, a
woman of society and the world, Lady Caroline Ponsonby had been the belle of her season, the toast of her set, the star of her firmament. Early loved and early won by a young man, who was at the same time a nobleman and a statesman, every wish of her heart, every aspiration of her mind, would appear to have been gratified by success. As Lady Caroline Lamb, and future Lady Melbourne, she was an adored wife, with a fixed and high position in society, and with everything that wealth, beauty, youth, talent and connexions can command to make life happy. But the woman was not content. Is any woman of genius ever tranquil? Is not genius, whether in man or woman, the seed of what
Schiller calls “a sublime discontent?” Lady Caroline had that restless craving after excitement—after the something unattained and unattainable—which pursues all spirits that are “finely touched.” Sometimes she sought this in the exercise of her pencil and her pen; sometimes in the more dangerous exercise of her affections and her imagination. She was not wicked. She was not even lax in her opinions. But she was bold and daring in her excursions through the debateable land which divides the territories of friendship from those of love. If she never fell, she was scarcely ever safe from falling. At the date when her correspondence with Miss Owenson began, she was a young wife of five or six years, and the image of Byron, beautiful and deadly as the nightshade, had not thrown its shadow on her life. When the letter, which is now to introduce Lady Caroline to the reader, as one of the most charming figures of this
correspondence, was written, Byron had just returned from the East, having his
Hints from Horace and the early cantos of Childe Harold in his pocket. His English Bards, which he found in a fourth edition, had made him famous; and his poetry, his travels, his singularity of manners, his extraordinary personal beauty, and his reputation for gallantry, made him one of the chief lions of the London season. Half the women were soon in love with him, more or less platonically; among others, at first very platonically, Lady Caroline Lamb. How far this friendship and flirtation went between the noble poet and the noble lady, has never yet, for want of full materials, or in deference to living persons, been truly told. These reasons for observing silence are no longer binding. Lady Caroline made Lady Morgan the depository of all her secrets as to this connexion; the actors in the drama have passed away, and the story of their lives is public property. The details which may now be given, mainly under the hands of Lady Caroline and Lord Byron, will complete an interesting chapter in the poet’s memoirs.

Lady Caroline may now appear on the stage.

Lady C. Lamb to Miss Owenson.
My dear Miss Owenson,

If it had not been near making me cry, what I am going to tell you might make you laugh; but I believe you are too good-natured not to sympathize
in some manner with my distress. It never occurred to me that I should forget the direction you gave me, so that having ordered the carriage, and having passed a restless night, I was but just getting up when it was ready. I ordered it to fetch you; where, was the question—at York, was the only answer I could possibly give; for York, alas, is all I remember. Now they say there is a York lane, three York streets, a York place, a York buildings, and York court. I knew no number, but immediately thought of sending to Lady Augusta Leith; the Court Guide was opened, it was for 1810;
Lady A. Leith consequently not where she now is, and where either of you are I cannot think; but as I was obliged to go into the country, I wrote this, and take my chance of its ever getting to you. Should you receive it, pray accept of my regrets and excuses, and do not treat me as ill as I have you, but remember your kind intentions some evening. I shall be back Saturday, I believe; but General Leith goes Tuesday.

See me before you leave town, and send me your number and street, I beg of you; the impression you have made is, I assure you, a little stronger, but I never can recollect one direction—do you think the new man could teach me?

Yours very sincerely,
C. Lamb.

My direction is always Melbourne House.

The two ladies soon met to become friends and associates for ever. No contrast could be greater than
between these two women of genius; one highly born, adored by her husband, and every whim gratified without her own exertion; the other humble, if not obscure; adored by many, but with a dangerous kind of love; compelled to struggle for her daily bread and for her daily safety. Both played, most perilously, with the fire; yet both came from the burning bush unscathed.
Lady Caroline was saved by her affections, Miss Owenson by her principles. She, too, was weaving most unconsciously her married destiny. On the death of his first wife, Dr. Morgan accepted the post of physician to Lord Abercorn. A man so handsome and accomplished, made a deep impression on the Marchioness, who set herself to provide him with a second wife. The affair of Miss Owenson with “le bien aimé” was now off; and Lady Abercorn’s letters to Miss Owenson began to glow with praises of her young physician. Jane Butler (afterwards Lady Manners) mentions him in one of her letters in a rather droll fashion.

“We brought Dr. Morgan,” she writes to Miss Owenson, “a physician, with us, who, I believe, is very clever in more ways than one, as he understands simony and all Mrs. Malaprop’s accomplishments. I believe he is of your religious persuasion, and seems to think Moses mistaken in his calculations (this is entre nous).”

Lady Abercorn, from the beginning, had set her heart on a match between Dr. Morgan and Miss Owenson, and Miss Owenson entered readily into all the fun of such a suggestion. When Lady Aberdeen
wrote to Miss Owenson a glowing account of Dr. Morgan’s learning, and genius, and qualifications, and desired her to write a poetical diploma for him, Miss Owenson answered in pure gaieté de cœur, as follows:—

We learned Professors of the College,
The Alma Mater of true knowledge,
Whore students learn, in memoria.
The philosophical amatoria,
Where senior fellows hold no power.
And junior sophists rule the hour,
Where every bachelor of arts
Studies no science—but of hearts.
Takes his degree from smiling eyes
And gets his Fellowship—by sighs;
Where scholars learn, by rules quite simple,
To expound the mystics of a dimple;
To run through all their moods and tenses,
The feelings, fancies, and the senses.
Where none (though still to grammar true)
Could e’er decline—a billet doux.
Though all soon learn to conjugate,
(Eadum nos autoritate)
We—learned Professors of this College,
The Alma Mater of true knowledge,
Do, on the Candidate Morgani,
(Doctissimo in Medicini)
Confer his right well earned degree,
And dub him, henceforth, sage M.D.,
He, having stood examination.
On points might puzzle half the nation,
Shown where with skill he could apply
A sedative, or stimuli,
How to the chorda tympani
He could, by dulcet symphony.
The soul divine itself convey,
How he (in verses) can impart
A vital motion to a heart,
Through hours which Time had sadly robb’d.
Though dull and morbid it had throbb’d.
Teach sympathetic nerves to thrill,
Pulses to quicken or lie still;
And without pause or hesitation,
Pursue that vagrant thing sensation,
From right to left,—from top to toe,
From head of sage to foot of beau,
While vain it shuns his searching hand,
E’en in its own pineal gland.
But did we all his feats rehearse,
How he excels in tuneful verse,
How well he writes—how well he sings,
How well he does ten thousand things,
Gave we due meed to this bright homo,
It would—Turgeret hoc Diploma.

On leaving England Miss Owenson again proceeded to Baron’s Court. She used to relate that Dr. Morgan had heard so much in praise of Miss Owenson’s wit, genius and general fascination, that he took an immense prejudice against her, and being a very shy man, he disliked the idea of meeting her.

He was one morning sitting with the Marchioness, when the groom of the chambers, throwing open the doors, announced “Miss Owenson!” who had just arrived. Dr. Morgan sprang from his seat, and there being no other way of escape, leaped through the open window into the garden below! This was too fair a challenge for Miss Owenson to refuse; she set to work to captivate him, and succeeded more effectually than she either desired or designed. The following letter
gives no indication of the crisis so nearly at hand; it is to
Mrs. Lefanu, and the tone is rather depressed.

Miss Owenson to Mrs. Lefanu.
[No date.]
Chere, Chere,

May the event your sweet letter communicated, and every event in your family that succeeds it, be productive of increasing happiness. Too much the creature of circumstances as they influence my manners or my conduct, my heart, ruled in its feelings by the objects of its affections only, knows no change, and the sympathy, the tender interest in all that concerns you, my longest, kindest friend, which chance recently discovered to you, has always existed under an increasing power since the first moment I pressed your cordial hand—I met the kind welcome of your full eyes. If I am too apt to visit abroad, I am sure to come home to you, and the increasing kindness with which you receive and forgive me, hourly quickens my return, and extends my contrition.

Tom and his bride are now as happy as is possible for human nature to be. I rejoice in their happiness. I pray that it may long, long continue, and above all, that it may add to the sum of your’s and Mr. Lefanu’s; for if ever parents deserved well of their children, you both have. I was received here with the kindest and most joyous welcome. I find the people and the place delightful—there never was such a perfect Paradise; the summer makes all the difference and
the magnificent outlines I so much admired in winter, are now most luxuriantly filled up.

We have got a most desirable acquisition to our circle, in the family physician; he is a person of extraordinary talent and extensive acquirements; a linguist, musician, poet and philosopher, and withal a most amiable and benevolent person; he is in high popularity, and he and I most amazing friends, as you may suppose.

Miss Butler is here, merry and pleasant as ever. She is sitting beside me, and desires her compliments, congratulations and best recollections to your ladyship. Olivia writes of nobody but you. She seems in very low spirits about our father, poor dear soul! and misses me sadly. I need not say a word to you on the subject. I am sure you will see her often, and I know you cannot help being kind to her, and to any one who may stand in need of your kindness.

We expect the Duke of Richmond and suite the week after next. I expect Sir C. and Lady Asgill will also come at that time, so that we shall be a gay party. Olivia has been asked over and over again, but still declines the honour.

You see the king cannot make up his mind to leave us; he is too kind! I believe all things remain on the other side in statu quo. Write to me soon like a love, and tell me all that you think I most desire to know; above all, that you continue to love

Your own Glorvina.