In March 1812 Byron was to begin a very public friendship with Lady Caroline Lamb....
Fast forward to March 1813 and 198 years ago today we read of a friendship in ruins, the Lady making mischief and our Lord tormented and pursued as he finds refuge in the arms of a Lady Oxford, makes plans to move abroad and seeks the confidence of a certain Lady Melbourne...
I can't help but think about the 1988 film "Dangerous Liaisons" or Les Liaisons dangereuses...
The tale of rich aristocrats in 18th century France indulging in risky games of passion and betrayal to relieve their boredom with liberal doses of seduction, revenge, love, anger and romantic intriques thrown in for equal measure..
The delightful symbolism of the character "Marquise de Merteuil" played by Glenn Close in the film and of Lady Melbourne, Byron's "Ma Tante" is enticing...
"My dear Ly. M. -
I read the note (for letter it was not) in which there was no mention nor allusion to any females of any family whatever - I would not have allowed such an epistle to go - besides - whatever Ly. O(xford) may have thought I am certain she entertains no such notions at present. -
The last sentence in it I erased - because it expressed pity for C(aroline) & I wished to spare her that humilation. - This assertion then is a gross & malignant falsehood of your correspondent's to make more mischief. - Pray - burn my letter - at any rate do not send it - I now recall my intention of complying with her request - & will not meet her - her depositions will rival Ly. D's - - I am so provoked at this last piece of malice - that I am really not fit to write a line - I will call soon - & hope to find you well - believe me -
If Ly. O(xford) entertained or expressed such opinions of you and yours - we should quickly quarrel - I would not hear those who have treated me with forbearance & kindness traduced even by her - & I certainly like her better than anything on earth. -
ever yrs. dr. Ly. M
March 15 1813
Lady Melbourne's "forbearance & kindness" must have been truly phenomenal with Byron's blatant and volatile affair with her daughter-in-law that had effectively "cuckolded" her favourite son and who was then to solicit her friendship and confidence...
Or perhaps she had another secret agenda...
Warner Bros. 1988
However for Lady Caroline it would be a case of "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid"
or "Revenge is a dish that is eaten cold"
Byron's Letters and Journals Vol 3 1813-1814, Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1974)