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Decoder Ring: The Stowe-Byron Controversy


I read twitter a lot. You know as one does and a couple of months ago I saw a viral viral. tweet that I think I must know more. It was by the journalist. Sarah Young it said people keep asking for my opinion on cancel culture and the only thing I have to say is that the Atlantic was nearly destroyed in eighteen sixty nine by thousands of subscription cancellations over an article by Harriet Beecher stowe insinuating that Lord Byron F. His sister then there was another tweet the best part of this saga being that he most certainly did head like I said had to know more. This is Dakota ring a show about cracking cultural mysteries and Willa Paskhin every episode. We take a cultural question habit or idea crack it open and try to figure out what it means and why it matters a hundred and fifty years ago Lord Byron and Harriet Beecher Stout collided in the pages of the Atlantic the resulting smash up endangered in August American publication altered the reputations of two of the most famous in their time authors that have ever lived and most lastingly besmirched the less famous woman at the story center at issue. Were so many of the topics that are still consuming us today. Civility celebrity celebrity feminism fairness fake news and bad literary and also juicy so today undercoating. What did look like in the eighteen? Sixties this episode is brought to you by progressive saving money on your car. Insurance is easy with progressive. It's an average savings of seven hundred ninety six dollars for customers who switch and save save in fact customers can qualify for an average of six discounts on their auto policy with progressive including discounts. Just for starting a quote online or owning multiple vehicles discounts vary and are not available in all states and situations get your quote online at Progressive Dot Com and see how much you could be saving discounts area and are not available in all all states and situations. There are three major players in the story. The romantic poet Lord Byron his wife Lady Byron born Annabella Millbank and the American author abolitionist. Harriet Beecher stowe. I'm going to begin with Lord Byron because in addition to being the oldest of the three his Gargantuan celebrity liberty and it's incredible longevity the stage upon which all of this plays out one way to see this whole incident is a referendum on the shifting meaning of Byron of how it who's most lasting legacy was not his poetry but himself he's had this incredible cultural impact possibly more than any other figure among the romantic poets but not for his poetry for his persona. Laura Miller associates book critic and people who have never heard of him mm are basically still in love with him whether they're reading regency romance novels or twilight. Uh Byron was born. George Gordon Byron in London in Seventeen Eighty eight his father Womanizer and gambler nicknamed mad. Jack died when Byron was three leaving his second wife and son without much money Byron. WHO's born with malformed foot of which he was very conscious was raised in Scotland but when he was ten he unexpectedly inherited the family title? Becoming Lord Byron lived in outside outsized life and there is a bounty of gossipy facts about him like forbidden from bringing his dog to Oxford Byron brought a small there he wants described Wordsworth Earth as turns worth. He was very handsome and personally kicked off a craze for the open collared shirt and a nodded. neckerchiefs the details of his diet were widely tone. He would sometimes drink vinegar to maintain his figure. He was veraciously. Amnesty sexual betting men and women to cite just one par for the course example He. He claimed himself to have had liaisons with over two hundred women during a visit to Venice. It's easy to Slot Byron into the framework of modern celebrity. What he gate what he wore? Who is beefing with who he was sleeping with? And that's not a coincidence. He created that Framework Byron. He was really the first true through celebrity. The first person who's primary claim to fame was just himself was just this this persona that he created and that he conveyed in this poetry this persona. I made its appearance in Childe Harold. Pilgrimage travel home. The Byron wrote while he was on a grand tour of Europe in the years after university when the first two cantos republished in eighteen twelve. They made Byron an overnight sensation I. I awoke one morning and found myself famous. He wrote in the poem. The protagonist Harold like Byron visits Portugal and Spain Albania and Greece. He's he's angsty naughty alluring. Here's how Byron Describes Harold early in the poem Wallo in Albion's Isle there dwelt a youth who may in virtues ways as to take delight but spent his days in riot most uncouth and vexed with Mirth the drowsy here of night Me Me in soothe. He was a shameless white sore. Given to revel and ungodly glee few earthly things found favor in his sight. Save concubines ends and Cardinal Company and flaunting Wa- Salo's of high and low degree. This type of character has a name. Of course the ironic hero we we just take for granted now. The idea of the brooding tormented loner hero. Who Breaks rules rules and is a genius and No one really understands him but he follows his own instincts even the causes him. This tremendous pain Byron really invented that sunup he didn't just invent it. He embodied it inspiring to who centuries worth of copycats so like every sort of chains dean every bad boy especially every vampire hero hero because actually the first vampire story was based on Byron. THE FIRST REAL VAMPIRE STORY EVEN BEFORE DRACULA was a story that was written by Byron's doctor doctor who likes so many people. The time was completely obsessed with Byron. This obsession which began after the publication of Childe Harold pilgrimage with called even even at the time by Romania. His picture was everywhere. His looks were copied and lusted after one of his poem. Sold ten thousand copies in a day and his every move was widely gossiped about and there was so much to gossip about takes the most famous of his many affairs with Lady Caroline Caroline Lamb. She's the person who described Byron as mad bad and dangerous to know at this point more famous than almost any line of his own poetry when things are going well between the two of them she sent him a thatch of blood tinged pubic hair but they were not always going well at one point. You know they were at some social missile event and she smashed a bottle and gouged her wrists with the broken glass and this very theatrical suicide attempt because is he wasn't paying enough attention to her. All of this was happening during the regency right. Before the Victorian era that particular moment that he was active give was a time that was notable for a sort of laxity of public morals. You could do it you could. You could fool around but you are expected to maintain a certain level of decorum now. He outraged public morals. Nevertheless he did this with was an accumulation of scandal capped by one particularly outrageous outrage even by the standards of the regency it was like a hotness. Incest is like a little too far for them even. Yeah most definitely okay so now. What still the early nineteenth eighteenth century part of Byron's life that will become fifty years later the contentious subject of the Brouhaha at the Atlantic? We're getting to Byron's incestuous twist relationship with his half sister. A woman named Augusta Leigh Augusta League was the child of Lord. Byron's father magic and his first wife she was five five years older than Byron. And the two didn't meet until he was almost a teenager. They got to know each other. Well only after Byron returned from Grand Tour of Europe in eighteen eleven at some point in the years after this Byron Augusta who was already married began to have an affair one he would describe as the most enjoyable love affair of his life in May of eighteen fourteen. And this is still the height by Romania. Augusta League gave birth to a daughter named Madora who is believed by Augusta League. Madora and Byron himself to be Byron's childe upon seeing the baby for the first time Baron wrote a letter to his close Confidante Lady Melbourne One of the most powerful women of the regency era expressing expressing relief. That she was not deformed it is not an ape he wrote and yet well all of this was going on Byron it was exchanging letters with a quiet bright right. mathematically inclined young woman named Annabella Millbank the woman actually who coined the phrase buyer Romania after observing its effects and others the author of in Byron's wake the turbulent lives Lord Byron's wife and daughter Annabella millbank was an attention literally incredibly wealthy and rather Brennan Young Woman from the north of England she was regarded as a tremendous. Ah Annabella had already turned down five proposals. When she met Byron at a party lady Melbourne's Lady Melbourne was also ANABELA's aunt Byron? Who didn't dance is because of his foot noticed Annabella not dancing as well? He was so intrigued despite barely knowing her. He made an odd offhand not entirely serious proposal of marriage Suru Lady Melbourne Annabella declined but the two began writing letters to one another. We all know Byron as the most wonderful lesser writer. They just rot long saying every kind of shocking thing and having fun but in his class with Ana Bella Thorne changed character he he started imitating on the Bella managed to rights that is. We're actually remarkably boring. And he kept waiting remarkably boring lectures. Ah Deep Sea worthy subjects like Talim poetry and religion and so on and so on for two years from Annabel's perspective then Byron Erin did seem to be table someone. She was already reforming when he finally proposed again. She accepted immediately. She was in love though. Byron professed a desire to be tamed. His motivations were more complicated but did to cover up. This incestuous relationship with his office and the child child's that they believe to be does and he also was in desperate need of money. That was also the fact that lady Melbourne with it was very supportive of the much now leading Melbourne who was tremendously fond of power and was horrified by the story. In which Byron Toto Mr Paste and she said you you kind of put your name at risk in this way or reputation will be ruined and you you must get married. Annabella Byron or married in January of eighteen. Fifteen as a harbinger of what was to come. He told her that day she would find she and married. A Devil Lady. Byron did not know from the outset about his relationship with his sister who is very friendly towards Annabella but at some point she became aware of it when Augusta stayed with the Byron's Byron would shoe Annabella upstairs early in the evening. Bad is that was. It wasn't the worst of IT Byron. Flaunted did his ongoing affairs and threatened violence. When Lady Byron became pregnant? She would lock herself in her room. While Byron was raging for fear that she'd miscarry towards the end of her pregnancy she she became convinced Byron was going mad and took preliminary steps to have him committed it a dreadful year in violence life. He he lost a lot of money he was in a very now. Yeah the state and she left because she really feared for her life when he was in one of his moods fits was a very very frightening indeed. In December of eighteen. Fifteen Annabella gave birth to their daughter. Augusta Ada yes named after his sister. Augusta Leigh who grow up to to be known as Ada lovelace the woman now famous in her own right for being the first to imagine a thinking machine. The computer one of the reasons Annabella had eight study math. I was in the hopes of counteracting. Her father's moody nature even though Eva Barely ever met him Byron last laid eyes on her when she was a newborn because in January eighteen sixteen Annabella left Byron. They'd been married for a little over a year. The end of Byron's marriage was scandalous bruise. Only one of the strikes against him others included his liberal politics bisexuality his attempts to sodomize both his wife and caroline lamb. And of course the incest altogether it was enough to push Byran ran out of England not that he didn't want to go letters from this period show that he was eager to get away from his marriage his country his expenses and the scrutiny in eighteen eighteen sixteen he set sail for Europe and that we didn't know it then he would never come back at the time he played the tragedy of his partying. He wrote a poem about his angst and having to leave his country his wife and child but the public wasn't really buying it. There's a cartoon from the time drawn George cruikshanks of Byron on a small boat. forlornly Lauren Lee waving to Annabella and eight on the shore even as he stands amidst bottles of alcohol three bosomy women hanging off of his body appropriate words worse. The report cynical about Barnes departure and sympathy about time was entirely a hundred percent with his barons adventurous. Life continued in Europe. He may have been a little disgraced but he was still regarded as a singular poetic genius. And it's not like bad. Behavior was off brand for him. He wrote more cantos of Childe Harold pilgrimage and his best regarded Work Don Juan. He continued to have affairs. He had another illegitimate child with the young woman. Minute named cleric Clermont. That's a whole other unseemly rabbit hole. If you're looking for one to go down and a more stately multi year relationship with the Italian Countess to resume jucci elite elite who will reappear later in the saga. He also became more and more involved in the Movement for Greek independence eventually going to Greece to fight the Turks in eighteen eighteen twenty four at the age of thirty six fighting for the cause. He died in Missolonghi in-depth. His reputation was restored barring death in this noble coors that coolest an overnight sensation on complete change of view about foreign despite everything thing that happened between them Annabel up still known as lady Byron because the two never officially divorced spent the rest of her life looking out for his legacy including financially nationally supporting Augusta and Madora Lee honor bell a remained devoted to bar in until the day she died. She paid Tofu his debt software. He died she bought land in Greece. Booker she knew Byron loved Greece. She set up schools in Greece in his memory. He did a great great deal to to honor him. And that's we're going to leave the Byron's for right now to head to America and Harriet Beecher. Stowe every moment you spend in your bathroom should be part of an elevated experience with a colour intelligent toilet. There are arranged a smart smart features to help you feel your cleanest most comfortable using remote APP control. You can personalize your colour intelligence to create the ideal experience for you. Adjust the temperature. Get your pressure and spray of the warm water. Cleansing choose your perfect temperature and customize the warm air dryer enjoy soothing ambient light for nighttime way finding an automatic air freshening joining go hands. Free with automatic flushing and live operation plus touches seat opening and closing set preferences to match variety of routines. No matter your mood. A colour intelligent intelligent toilet offers everything you need for the ultimate pampering relaxation and cleanliness discovered. You've been missing at Kohler dot com slash intelligent toilets Harriet beecher so is the other major figure in the story and though she was otherwise not at all like Byron. She was also extraordinarily ordinarily famous in her own. Lifetime stowe was born in New England in eighteen eleven the Sixth of eleven children to a family that was the equivalent of American religious and intellectual. Royalty devout and fiercely fiercely abolitionist. She wrote the anti slavery novel Uncle. Tom's cabin which was published in eighteen. Fifty two the book about Christ Lake Slave named Tom made the abominations. The Nation's of slavery Akon Crete injustice to millions of white people who had previously thought about it only abstractly. It became the best selling book of the nineteenth century uncle uncle. Tom's cabin sold ten thousand copies a week. When it was published in book form a hundred thousand copies by the end of the first year in this country a million million and a half copies in England the first year Joan Hedrick is the author of Harriet beecher stout a life she was invited to go on an anti slavery tour of the British Isles After the book was published and She was just better crowds of two thousand three thousand people in Moscow and London and so forth north. The Queen Victoria came to to see her. Yeah it was yeah. She was truly an international phenomenom. You still second trip to Europe in eighteen fifty six. She had an extended audience with Lady Byron still had grown up reading an admiring. Byron's work work. Meaning his wife and grandchildren would have been a thrill in and of itself but lady Byron in the years since her separation from Byron had become serious about a number of causes including including abolition despite both being reserved women they had an intense personal connection. She was very very very smitten. I think is the right word. By Lady Byron era shed she had almost a Like a girlish reaction that. She felt his throbbing. Feeling it from the interview with her like she was almost infatuated by her. The bond between the two was so strong that lady Byron shared with stow the details of her. How rowing marriage to Byron including his relationship with Augusta? I mean she just had an extraordinary emotional response to her her intelligence her range of of knowledge rush and the fact that she was injured woman who told her fur story. Personally after this encounter the two women stayed in touch wrote letters silence at least one more time and then in eighteen sixty lady Byron died at the time of her death. Despite the past scandals she was a well regarded woman landes. Lady Byron's biographer again Laden Barham volume eighteen sixty and revered. She was regarded started as a metal thing. Stayed until eighteen. Sixty eight that year. Byron's former Lover Countess. TERRESA Jujio Lee published her memoir. I mentioned Theresa earlier. She had a long affair with Byron after he left England for good the idea that Annabella had killed Barin with a code nece. She had been so code hostage she had not understood. His great love says system nothing. Thanks bye incest yet. Mind but just you need the great love for his sister and She was a code halted miserable woman woman who should never have been married to a wonderful man who was in fact who completely celebrate Any went to bed with women when they threw them so slash asked him because he was such a gentleman. Well you would think a book like that. Would just you know full flavor small cliff and never be seen again but it republished during a window wasn't much news getting on and the gentleman of the press fell upon it with up salute delight. It's a disappoint when Lady Lebron is under attack from Theresa chilly and the press that Harriet Beecher stowe feels called upon to defend her friend. stowe's intentions in doing so. We're good Ed. But they were not entirely disinterested stowe's fame was on the wane. The civil war was over. It was the middle of reconstruction and she was almost sixty her. Most recent recent novel had been badly reviewed. It would be ungenerous to say that she was simply looking for a way back into the spotlight but she did see in Lady Byron a righteous means ends of doing just that in defending lady. Byron's you could do two things at once. Stand up her friend and once again align herself with a surging moral 'cause this this time the one for women's rights women really expected that after the civil war you know They would be granted. The right to vote to Joan. Hedrick stoves biographer again and they started Agitating in public Around the the issues of sexuality and divorce so this is the context. That's where we're sexuality was now being discussed publicly so also had just read mills on the subjection of women and written a couple of people about how this had just opened her eyes so she's thinking about women's rights now in other words the moment wrote her piece was not entirely unlike our own. The world was changing rapidly and there was a new feverish. Attention being paid in some quarters to the mistreatment of women and here was his legendarily. libidinous male writer whose prolific sexual shenanigans had long been part of its towering reputation despite his abhorrent and menacing behavior towards his own wife. So sees all of this and she thinks she can do something about it she can bring this moral man to account and do right by her friend and herself in the process but the problem is she's not she's such a novice at this she hasn't really got a very well worked out philosophy of women's rights. She's she's just sort of fallen into this suddenly so what she thought would be. I think the The uncle Tom's cabin of Ah Women's sexual slavery it just didn't work out that way. In fact it backfires spectacularly in eighteen. sixty-nine Harriet Beecher stowe wrote a piece. Defending Lady Byron for the Atlantic monthly the Atlantic which is the same Atlantic that is still publishing publishing. Today was founded in eighteen fifty seven in Boston with the ambition to be a first class literary magazine and Exponent of the American idea kind of American ideal the mission statement included in its first issue we signed by the likes of Emerson Mellow Hawthorne Famous Popular Immoral Beacon and embodiment Bodyman of exactly the noble literary American values of the Atlantic itself aspire to represent stow was one of the publications star writers the P.. She wrote for the magazine about lady. Byron is still to this day a fun read Beecher. stowe begins by synopsys Inc. and dismissing the claims of Theresa Julie's book which he says as rousing up new sympathy for Byron and doing its best to bring the youth of America once more under the power of the brilliant seductive genius from which it was hoped they had escaped. Escaped Byron was a bad habit. She thought America had kicked. But now he's back and she's going to help kick him out again. She shares all of Byron's misdeeds will highlighting lady Barron's immense class and forbearance remaining quiet about his sins which include incest the paragraph which she takes a decades old open secret about Byron Tiran and his half sister and deems it fit to print reads as follows. He fell into the depths of a secret adulterous intrigue with the blood relation. So near here in consanguinity that discovery must have been utterly ruined and expulsion from civilized society. It was was immediately apparent to the acting editor. In chief. The writer William Dean howells this piece was potentially explosive. Howls consulted a number of people about about whether or not he should run it? Some told him no the doctor and poet Oliver Wendell home senior told him yes basically saying he should do it for the clicks because it will quote attract attract considerable attention. Howls position was further complicated by stove? starpower as one of his colleagues joked with the ring of truth he might have felt like he couldn't say I'm not her and howls also came to think Asto did that. This telling the truth about Bahrain's misdeeds was the right thing to do. He wrote soon after quote quote the world needed to know. Just how base. Filthy and mean Byron was in order that all glamor should be forever removed from his literature. In other words the art could not be separated from the artist and the ought to both go down in September of eighteen sixty nine. The Atlantic publishes the true story of Lady Lady Byron's life whatever the complicated motivations for printing it a combination of moral outrage and wanting to make splash wanting to tell the truth about Byron while keeping heaping. Harriet Beecher stowe happy. The piece is received and this is an understatement very badly so it created an uproar now was a howl From England Susan Goodman is the author of Republic of words the Atlantic monthly and it's writers eighteen fifty seven to nine hundred and twenty-five seen as being so distasteful and people are it as A move on the Atlantic's part to make money by by publishing something that was sensational. And so that that was considered tawdry. The Atlantic monthly was widely seen to have published out of bounds poorly source dirty laundry about a poetic genius. The piece was riddled with factual errors and this readers. Further excuse to dismiss it. One of those errors had to do with the dates of the Byron's marriage still made it seem as though Annabella had buried by knowing about the incest and this turn people against her. What kind of woman would accept that that only a vial one? The fact that Byron was dead instead of as it might now making the whole thing less contentious only made it more so he wasn't alive to defend himself but there are also plenty of ways in which the pieces reception sounds familiar now as then people might wonder if consensual incest. I was really any of our business and like us. They look to famous people to take sides and they did the feminist Elizabeth Katie Stanton defended the piece but she was in the minority far more outraged about it including Charles Dickens. Who wrote quote wish Mrs Stow was in the pillory all the back and forth about the scandal all the hot takes published about it? Basically were gathered into a book. The print version of an explainer called the Sto- Byron controversy. And then of course there were the cancellations. The magazine began to hemorrhage readers who struck their subscriptions. En Masse even doesn't seem to have been an organized campaign to do so now they lost about a third of their you know subscribers. They had about forty five thousand subscribers and they lost fifteen. This is more more than just financially calamitous damage. The reputation took away their moral authority. I think that when people read the Atlantic this is probably true today when people read the Atlantic or The New York review of books they feel as though that can it makes that somehow that's a sign of how smart they are or how Cultured Day. Are you know it it confers. Something I'm saying. And so when when the Atlantic didn't live up to that ideal that that people had which was in part heart a reflection of who they wanted to be then they you know broke their connection to the magazine. It didn't reflect their values any any more the Atlantic and stow were asking people to Rethink Byron and rethinking particularly beloved. Celebrity was also so not something people wanted to do then any more than they wanna do it now. It's one of those things where people just didn't really WANNA believe it. Laura Miller again. They were just in love with him. uh-huh with either in love with what he represented the sort of prometheus an figure the grandeur and you know he was such a Sloven he. He was so unkind to his wife. And you know. He was bad according to Victorian ideals else which is basically what she was saying but the value of someone like Byron in particular because I think he represented all of the Trans aggressive impulses that people couldn't allow themselves to express so they needed him even more. If you think about the true story of Lady Byron's life as a boulder tossed into a lake. The effect on the Atlantic is the big splash. Immediate obvious dramatic but the Atlantic survives the impact basically by washing their hands of the whole thing they just let it flow over. Basically Susan Goodman who authored a book about the Atlantic Again House didn't get fired. He blamed carry Harry it though you know for exaggerations. Let's say howls would actually go on to become the editor in chief of the magazine. Zine which slowly built its subscriber base back up sto for her part was completely blindsided by the reaction she just could not. I believe the reaction of the American press. Joan Hedrick stowe's biographer again. She never thought that they would disbelieve her story which she heard directly from Lady Byron but instead they just decided that lady Byron. What's insane or you had a diseased mind or you know and of course if they accused of being prurient and and and taking the sensational story and dragging it before the public and some said even if this is true you shouldn't they shouldn't say it in public but instead of backing off sto digs in? She turns the piece into a book. The vindication of Lady Byron there is also adopt a defense of her decision to write the piece in the first place. She never regained the kind of stature that that she wants had I she probably would have continued to lose it anyway but this this didn't help. Still when stowed is in her eighty s in one thousand nine hundred six this is a minor ripple a footnote in the story of the woman who wrote uncle. Tom's cabin ultimately the stories most tidal repercussions. The people knocked flat by the wave kicked up by this boulder. Brouhaha are are the dead ones Lord and Lady Byron since their separation Lord and Lady Byron's reputations had become something of zero sum game when one was up up the other had to be down in the years immediately after lady Byron's death she had been on top but still is peace and the work was responding to turn this upside down down one of the most interesting things about the response to hurry. It's book is that foreign was completely completely restored as a kind of angel to be clear. She is talking here about his persona. Not His poetry. Though Barnes work was wildly esteemed in his lifetime by the time all this is happening his poetry has become something of an afterthought and this mess doesn't change that it just gives his persona a hard Polish that was the beginning of a new Hush and full bar in the great cigarettes table minded injured husband above all which is his new role the injured husband and that Roe Tareyton willing to the twentieth century Baron to be an injured husband he has to have a cruel wife. The thing about lady Byron that she seems to have become later in life not to put too fine a point on it. A bit of a prig break abstemious controlling a proud goody. Two shoes is nothing that bad. Certainly nothing that excuses Barron's behavior towards her but then as now it's nothing that ah fun. She's just a deeply unromantic figure surrounded by these deeply romantic figures who didn't always speak kindly of her Byron insulted her in his poetry in her daughter Ada resented some of controlling ways even as she assiduously kept her mouth shut in the years right before and after her death. This wasn't really held against Mr. She had her critics but she was a very respectable devout. Well behaved woman. She was in a lot of ways a very good Victorian but when stowe's article comes out out people don't just defend Byron the go on the offensive they latch onto lady Byron Self Regard The complaints about her war into a malevolent killjoy. With an anti artistic temperament who is out to get Byron this neighbor on wonderful woman who overnight almost it seemed to being turned into to a woman who is being described as I didn't know Clytemnestra on the wickedest woman in England and there was no insist they the main thing they wanted to say. What's the was new incest? This was all dilution of lady Byron's mind And that PAT idea was pushed in book after book. Lady Byron was cast as cold uptight heartless prudish and vindictive give the wet rag to Byron swaggering genius out there besmirching his name. His every flaw was forgiven. Her every flaw was magnified and and this remained the predominant conception of her for more than a century in other words Lady Byron at the least powerful least famous and shore least charismatic participant in this whole contre temps is the only one who was in the contemporary sense cancelled. As I was working on this piece I kept thinking about something. Laura Miller Fleets Book Critic said to me about Romanticism. We still live live in the sort of emotional and cultural soup of Romanticism. And so if I were to describe it to you it would be like I was describing what we live in now. If we have an idea of like the individual genius or the importance ends of gut feelings over reason or the imperative for self-fulfilment. All of those things are romantic. Nick ideas that were basically formulated during the romantic movement. But we just kind of take them for granted we don't really remember what the world was like before the romantic commitment this whole story underscore says we're still swimming in the same soup still working with the same archetypes asking the same kinds of questions agents fighting the same kinds of fights fascinated by the same sorts of things. I mean imagine if something similar happen right now if a respectable outlet where to run a piece alleging misdeeds about a famous man based only on the words of the victim herself now as then the whole thing would be an enormous enormous attention consuming to do there would be pieces about the place of open secrets in our culture outrage at the outlets frenzy for attention had led it to run such bad reporting wing questions about whether it was fair to judge previous Arab by the standards of a new one and debate about the merits of the accusations themselves. Are they real. Are they really that bad. Should they have been shared. Has this whole thing conto far. All of this would be capped by a lot of reading about how we're now supposed to relate to the bad man at the center of the story great even if after the dust settles he goes on pretty much as he wants. I'm not saying everything is the same. We are now in a moment when stowe's basic Jason position that there is a moral reason to expose the bad deeds of famous men is ascendant and blaming the victim. What happens too much is more generally understood to be an evil unto itself but you only have to think of the recent Michael Jackson documentary or the cavenaugh hearing to see? We're not so far away from all of this even if in eighteen eighteen fifteen byron stands didn't have the ability to swarm lady Byron's twitter account making death threats still if you're looking for a little reassurance and things have changed you can find it in the facts that ours is the age that finally took a harder. Better look at Annabella millbank. It's only relatively recently well into the two thousand ten's and the biographies like Miranda Seymour's have much more meticulously done what. Harriet Beecher. stowe tried and failed to do a hundred and fifty years ago restore short the reputation of the flawed by which I mean the human woman married to a much more famous man. You know what they say better on cancelled late the never saw. This is Dakota ring. I'm Willa Pass. Can you can find me on twitter. Twitter at Willow Haskins. And if you have any cultural mysteries you want us to code. You can email us at Dakota at slate dot com if you haven't yet subscribed and radar feed and apple podcasts. Art Gas or wherever you get your podcasts. And even better tell your friends this podcast was written by Willa Paskhin and edited by Benjamin fresh who also does illustrations for every episode was produced by will of Hoskin Benjamin Fresh Cleo. Eleven is our research assistant. Thanks to June. Thomas Gabriel Roth and Sasha Lesnar. Thanks for listening. We'll see you in a few weeks EXC

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