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PREFACE TO NEW EDITION
INCE the first publication of this book in 1912, some import
ant additions have been made to our knowledge of Byron.
The most remarkable of these are Lord Byron's Correspondence, published by Mr. John Murray in 1922 (2 vols), and the new edition of Lord Lovelace's privately-printed Astarte, which with many additions and notes was published in the usual way by his widow, Mary, Countess of Lovelace, in 1921. On these two books I have a few remarks to make.
Lord Byron's Correspondence consists of many hitherto unpublished letters which had passed on Hobhouse's (Lord Broughton's) death, to his daughter, Lady Dorchester. On her death, she bequeathed these papers to Mr. John Murray. The letters were written at all the outstanding periods of Byron's life; and in those to Lady Melbourne between 1812 and 1815, there is much highly detailed information about his love-affairs with Lady Caroline Lamb, Lady Oxford, and Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster. The last of these is reported almost hourly, and in its mingling of ribaldry, humour, and sentiment is as characteristic a Byron document as we possess.
Byron's offer of marriage to Annabella Milbanke, who afterwards became his wife, is prominent among the subjects of these letters; and closely connected with this by the tragic issue, there are in the letters to Lady Melbourne many references, more or less veiled but unmistakable, to his relations with Augusta Leigh. These are so remarkable as to have made at least one distinguished convert, Mr. G. S. Street, to the Astarte theory of the Byron Separation Mystery. Mr. Street's view is that we can escape from the Astarte documents, but not from the allusions in the Melbourne letters.
To the relief of many—myself among the number—there is also in the 1922 Correspondence a light thrown upon the muchdebated question of the "Hoppner Letter ", which enables us at least to hope that Byron did send Mary Shelley's fervent repudiation of the scandal to Mrs. Hoppner. It is no more than a hope—but, as such, we welcome the testimony of the broken seal and adherent morsel of paper. For this was, to the sense of many of us, the worst thing we feared to have to think of Byron. Since, however, the new light cannot be regarded as