There is something to me very softening in the presence of a woman, – some strange influence, even if one is not in love with them, – which I cannot at all account for, having no very opinion of the sex.
But yet, – I always feel in better humour with myself and every thing else, if there is a woman within ken.
And there is certainly a ‘woman within ken’ in the dining room for the walls that I have painted in a distemper inspired by the colour of ‘Wedgewood Blue’ are now adorned with several female likenesses which feature the likes of the notorious Lady Melbourne, the celebrated Duchess of Devonshire and the sculptor Anne Seymour Damer.
For with this dominant feminine presence and with Byron’s ambivalent attitude towards food in which he would frequently go for days without eating a substantial meal preferring a diet of “hard biscuits and Soda water” – I have created this particular room to be as ‘unByronic’ as is possible.
And which may offer some explanation for the portrait of B’s ‘infernal fiend’ which now hangs here.
For it was during the course of his brief residence within the martial home of 13 Piccadilly Terrace, he would on more than one occasion refuse to share the dining table with his bride.
… once when his dinner was accidentally served at the same table with mine, he desired his dish to be taken into another room (in my presence, & the servants attending) with an expression of rage…
As Lady B made no secret of her enjoyment of food, she did not share the dietary strictures employed by her spouse and my hope is that this wonderfully poignant image of this solemn yet graceful little girl can continue to adorn the walls of this particular room in peace!
‘The Trouble of an Index’ Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 13 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1982)
Lord Byron’s Wife Malcolm Elwin (London: John Murray 1962)