1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Melesina Chenevix Trench to Mary Leadbeater, 1816; Leadbeater Papers (1862) 2:234.



I have seen, but am not personally acquainted with that prince of modern poets, Lord Byron. It is said he has behaved unkindly to his wife. I doubt his having been much to blame, because her friends and partizans have in my hearing brought forward the most vague and pitiful accusations. She was unfortunately very young and an heiress, had moved in the highest circles, was lovely, richly endowed in mental gifts, an only child, and educated by a doating father and mother. Strike out any one of these, and perhaps she might have been more capable of soothing the irritability often attendant on genius, and bending her will to the occasional and transient caprices of one so much admired, especially by our sex, that he must have been more than man had he escaped being a little spoiled. I believe his faults have been cruelly magnified by those who lead the world; first, from the desire of levelling such pre-eminent genius; next, because he wrote verses satirizing the Regent, and blaming unnecessary war, and is what some are therefore pleased to call a democrat; and thirdly, because he is of a retired disposition, lives on biscuit and water, and enters not warmly into the pleasures peculiar to this dinner-loving age.