Lady Caroline Lamb

A succession of images.

Lady Caroline has collected a shoe from every young gentleman at a party in Italy on her honeymoon, she tosses the shoes into the air, one lands in a fountain, the gentlemen cheerfully retrieve them and proclaim her bellissima, one says he would die for her. “Please do,” she soberly replies, and the others laugh. Their hosts say she is fantastica.

In a Roman arena, a batch of Italian beggars are give ten scudi by William Lamb MP, his wife tosses a diamond bracelet to them, one of them is killed for it.

The poaching of a pheasant, for which the punishment is death by hanging. Parliament debates the question, Tory justice or Whig mercy? Lamb, an orderly Whig gentleman, settles the matter on a practical basis, five years in prison will obtain more frequent rural convictions.

Lord Byron publishes Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage to great success, and takes Lady Caroline to his mistress. She has a breakdown, he marries a sensible young lady.

The Duke of Wellington at Paris receives Lady Caroline. He dismisses her the following morning, she makes a comparison of his victory over Bonaparte and the latter as “a force of nature”.

She gives her husband leave to separate so that he may accept a posting as Minister in the Tory government at Dublin Castle. She dies in a garden folly alone under the moon and dark clouds, of “a broken heart”, it is said.

This has a legendary aspect in its construction, “a history of representations”, and just as the characters strike one another like flint to illuminate the action, so the images reveal themselves in the sequence.

Variety’s tepid response and the New York Times’ pusillanimous one are simply of no account.