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GRAY'S GREAT DISCOVERY
My poor mother died yesterday! and I am on my way from town to attend her to the family vault. I heard one day of her illness, the next of her death. Thank God her last moments were most tranquil. I am told she was in little pain, and not aware of her situation. I now feel the truth of M' Gray's observation, “That we can only have one mother." Peace be with her! I have to thank you for your expressions of regard.
If it will be any satisfaction, I have to inform you that in November next the editor of the Scourge will be tried for two different libels on the late M" B. [accusing her of drunken habits and her son, Lord Byron, of being illegitimate) and myself (the decease of M's B. makes no difference in the proceedings); and as he is guilty, by his very foolish and unfounded assertion of a breach of privilege, he will be prosecuted with the utmost rigour.
I inform you of this, as you seem interested in the affair, which is now in the hands of the Attorney-General (who gave his opinion against legal proceedings, on the two grounds that a considerable time had elapsed since the publication, and that Byron himself had provoked the attack by an onslaught on Hewson Clarke, the editor, made in English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers.)
(1811, August 2. Letter 159, to John M. B.
Pigot, Vol. I., p. 320.)
I trust that the decease of Mrs B. will not interrupt the prosecution of the Editor of the Magazine, less for the mere punishment of the rascal,
than to set the question at rest, which, with the ignorant and weak-minded, might leave a wrong impression. I will have no stain on the Memory of my Mother; with a very large portion of foibles and irritability, she was without a vice (and in these days that is much). The laws of my country shall do her and me justice in the first instance; but, if they were deficient, the laws of modern Honour should decide. Cost what it may, Gold or blood, I will pursue to the last the cowardly calumniator of an absent man and a defenceless woman.
(1811, August 4. Letter 160, to John
Hanson, Vol. I., p. 323.)
(3) His Pride and Quickness of Temper, as shown in a
Propensity for Quarrelling and Duelling I am concerned to be obliged again to trouble you, as I had hoped that our conversations had terminated amicably. Your good Father, it seems, has desired otherwise ; he has just sent me a most agreeable epistle, in which I am honoured with the appellations of unfeeling and ungrateful. [The quarrel between Byron and the Leacroft family arose out of certain attentions paid by Byron to Miss Julia Leacroft. But as the consequences of all this must ultimately fall on you and myself
, I merely write this to apprise you that the dispute is not of my seeking, and that, if we must cut each other's throats to please our relations, you will do me the justice to say it is from no personal animosity between us, or from any insult on my part, that such disagreeable events (for I am
MOORE'S HAPPY SENSE OF HONOUR
not so much enamoured of quarrels as to call them pleasant) have arisen.
(1807, February 4. Letter 64, to Captain
John Leacroft, Vol. I., p. 115.) Your letter followed me from Notts to this place, which will account for the delay of my reply. Your former letter I never had the honour to receive ;-be assured in whatever part of the world it had found me, I should have deemed it my duty to return and answer it in person. [In English Bards, etc., Byron had made fun of the duel between Moore and Jeffrey, which, provoked by the Edinburgh Review's attack on Moore's Odes, Epistles, and other Poems (July 1806), and frustrated by the inopportune arrival of the police, had been instrumental in bringing about a friendship between poet and critic.]. . At the time of your meeting with M' Jeffrey, I had recently entered College, and remember to have heard and read a number of squibs on the occasion; and from the recollection of these I derived all my knowledge on the subject, without the slightest idea of "giving the lie” to an address which I never beheld. When I put my name to the production [i.e. to the second edition of English Bards, etc.], which has occasioned this correspondence, I became responsible to all whom it might concern,—to explain where it requires explanation, and,
and, where insufficiently too sufficiently explicit, at all events to satisfy. My situation leaves me no choice; it rests with the injured and the angry to obtain reparation in their own way.
With regard to the passage in question, you were
certainly not the person towards whom I felt personally hostile. On the contrary, my whole thoughts were engrossed by one, whom I had reason to consider as my worst literary enemy, nor could I forsee that his former antagonist was about to become his champion. You do not specify what you would wish to have done : I can neither retract nor apologise for a charge of falsehood which I never advanced.
In the beginning of the week, I shall be at No. 8, St James's Street. ... Your friend M Rogers, or any other gentleman delegated by you, will find me most ready to adopt any conciliatory proposition which shall not compromise my own honour,—or, failing in that, to make the atonement you deem it necessary to require.
(1811, October 27, Cambridge. Letter 202,
to Thomas Moore, Vol. II., p. 59.)
With regard to the passage [in English Bards, etc.) on M' Way's loss [of several thousand pounds at the Argyle Institution, of which Colonel Greville was manager], no unfair play was hinted at, as may be seen by referring to the book; and it is expressly added, that the managers were ignorant of that transaction. As to the prevalence of play at the Argyle, it cannot be denied that there were billiards and dice ;-Lord B. has been a witness to the use of both at the Argyle Rooms. These, it is presumed, come under the denomination of play. If play be allowed, the President of the Institution can hardly complain of being termed the “Arbiter of Play,” or what becomes of his authority ? Lord B. has no
HIGH PLAY AT THE ARGYLE ROOMS
personal animosity to Colonel Greville. A public institution, to which he himself was a subscriber, he considered himself to have a right to notice publicly. Of that institution Colonel Greville was the avowed director ;-it is too late to enter into a discussion of its merits or demerits.
Lord B. must leave the discussion of the reparation, for the real or supposed injury to Colonel G.'s friend and M' Moore, the friend of Lord B.—begging them to recollect that, while they consider Colonel G.'s honour, Lord B. must also maintain his own. If the business can be settled amicably [eventually, it was so settled], Lord B. will do as much as can and ought to be done by a man of honour towards conciliation ; --if not, he must satisfy Colonel G. in the manner most conducive to his further wishes.
([Undated.] Letter 229, to Thomas Moore,
Vol. II., p. 109.) In the “mail-coach copy” of the Edinburgh, I perceive The Giaour is second article. The numbers are still in the Leith smack--pray which way is the wind? The said article is so very mild and sentimental, that it must be written by Jeffrey in love ;you know he is gone to America to marry some fair one, of whom he has been, for several quarters, éperdument amoureur. [Jeffrey married, as his second wife, at New York, in October, 1813, Charlotte Wilkes, a grand-niece of John Wilkes.] Seriously -as Winifred Jenkins says of Lismahago—M' Jeffrey (or his deputy) “has done the handsome thing by me," and I say nothing. But this I will say, if you and I had knocked one another on the head in