Wednesday, July 27, 2011

* Why isn't "Lady Byron Vindicated" a PBS Documentary?

"Woman as a Human Being with Human Rights"


Lady Byron Vindicated 

[Had Lady Byron broken her silence it would have] been Mrs. Leigh’s utter ruin.[Augusta Leigh, sister to Lord Byron] The world may finally forgive the man of genius anything; but for a woman there is no mercy and no redemption. (510 kindle)

Lord Byron had the beauty, the wit, the genius, the dramatic talent, which have constituted the strength of some wonderfully fascinating women . . .Such an enchanter in man’s shape was Lord Byron. (575-9)

For Lady Byron, Moore had simply the respect that a commoner has for a lady of rank, and a good deal of the feeling that seems to underlie all English literature, --that it is no matter what becomes of the woman when the man’s story is to be told. (686)

Literature has never yet seen the instance of a person of Lady Byron’s rank in life, placed before the world in a position more humiliating to womanly dignity, or wounding to womanly delicacy.
The direct implication is, that she has no feelings to be hurt, no heart to be broken, and is not worthy even of the consideration which in ordinary life is to be accorded to a wisow who has received those awful tidings . . . (703+)

But, oh that a noble man should have no higher ideal of the love of a high-souled, heroic woman! [than a dog’s love for its cruel master] Oh that men should teach women that they owe no higher duties, and are capable of no higher tenderness, than this loving, unquestioning animal fidelity!  The do is ever-loving, ever forgiving, because God has given him no high range of moral faculties, no sense of justice, no consequent horror at impureness and vileness.
Much of the beautiful patience and forgiveness of women is made possible to them by that utter deadness to the sense of justice which the laws, literature and misunderstood religion of England have sough to induce in women as a special grace and virtue. ( 846)

If these things be done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?  If the peeress as a wife has no rights, what is the state of the cotter’s wife? (853)

Thomas Campbell, the poet . . . It appears  he did not believe it a wife’s duty to burn herself on her husband’s funeral-pile . . . and held the singular idea, that a wife had some rights as a human being as well as a husband. (893)

. . .compelled her to defend the heads of her friends and her parents from being crushed under the tombstone of  Byron. (902)

This was not kicking the dead lion, but wounding the living lamb, who was already bleeding and shorn, even unto the quick (988)

There has always been in England, as John Stuart Mill says, a class of women who glory in the utter self-abnegation of the wife to the husband, as the special crown of womanhood. (1004)

Is it, then, only to slandered men that the privilege belongs of desiring to exculpate themselves and their families and their friends from unjust censure? (1013)

Reviewing this long history of the way in which the literary world had treated Lady Byron, we cannot wonder that her friends should have doubted whether there was left on earth any justice, or sense that anything is due to woman as a human being with human rights. (1188)

The mistress of Lord Byron could easily be stirred up and flattered to come before the world with a book which should reopen the whole controversy and she proved a facile tool  . . . The book was inartistic, and helplessly, childishly, stupid as to any literary merits, -- a mere mass of gossip and twaddle . . .( 1222+)

Men of America, and men of England, what do you think of this?
When Lady Byron was publicly branded with the names of the foulest ancient and foulest modern assassins, [Clytemnestra and the Marchioness of Brinvilliers] and Lord Byron’s mistress was publicly taken by the hand, and encouraged to go on and prosper in her slanders, by one of the oldest and most influential British reviews [Blackwood], what was said and what was done in England.

I have another word, as an American, to say about the contempt shown to our great people in thus suffering the materials of history to be falsified to subserve the temporary family purposes of family feeling in England . . . we Americans have been made accessories, after the fact, to every insult and injury that Lord Byron and the literary men of his day have heaped upon Lady Byron. (1416+)

I claim for my countrymen, and for women, our right to true history. (1430)

‘He was guilty of the charge of incest with his sister’ [Lady Byron to Harriet Beecher Stowe] (1684)

He set before her the Continental idea of liberty of marriage; it being a simple partnership of friendship and property, the parties to which were allowed by one another to pursue their own separate tastes. He told her, that, as he could not be expected to confine himself to her, neither should he expect or wish that she should confine herself to him; that she was young and pretty, and could have her lovers, and he should never object; and that she must allow him the same freedom. (1719+)

After a few short months of married life, -- months full of patient endurance of the strangest and most unaccountable treatment, --she comes to them [her parents], expelled from her husband’s house, an object of hatred and aversion to him, and having to settle for herself the awful question, whether he is a dangerous madman or a determined villain.

Such was this young wife’s situation. (2025)

No comments: