My recent homage to ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know’ Lord Byron made clear that not only was Byron idolized as a celebrity in his time, but that I adore him myself, making him a patron saint of this blog for example. I was inspired to write that post partly by the old biography of him I found at the library. Well, this staid biography by Longford contains a discovery of a most upsetting nature! Of a nature so vile, I have been tempted to put the book down unfinished.
Some creature, of repellent handwriting and distinct ammorality, has annotated this book! Scrawled in No.2 pencil all over its margins!
“Lord Byron then went to Venice…” becomes annotated by some childish scribble such as “As he should! Pisa was far too provincial for him” (the excess of exclamation points is distinctly annoying.) This person, no doubt some susceptible very young or very old female, defends Byron against any negative charges brought against him by his peers, defends his incestuous love for his sister, defends his leaving his sick 4-year-old daughter in a nunnery to die of typhoid fever, and calls Shelley a ‘tiresome bore’! She quite obviously shows her jealously of his many mistresses, and roots for Byron to leave them all and break their hearts. She keeps saying things like, “But Byron was never a class-traitor or atheist, thank god!” Yes, thank god he was a selfish, incestuous poet who was ‘revolutionary’ but title-proud…?
So look you, o noble notater, come forward. I challenge you to a duel. Something must be done to stop your forever marking up books to turn dialogues into trialogues, and if death is the answer, so be it. I demand the satisfaction.
And you readers, if you happen to come across a female of inexplicable and strong feelings towards the sundry elements of Lord Byron’s life who is an amoral, elitist with strongly round handwriting, probably defensive of some petty title she inherited, and likely a dumpy figure and big red nose, please tell her my challenge.