LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Francis Hodgson to Lady Byron, [February 1816]

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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Whether I am out-stepping the bounds of prudence in this address to your Ladyship I cannot feel assured; and yet there is so much at stake in a quarter so loved and valuable, that I cannot forbear running the risque, and making one effort more to plead a cause which your Ladyship’s own heart must plead with a power so superior to all other voices. If, then, a word that is here said only adds to the pain of this unhappy conflict between affection and views of duty, without lending any
weight of reason to the object it seeks, I would earnestly implore that it may be forgiven; and, above all, the interference itself, which nothing but its obvious motive and the present awful circumstances could in any way justify.

After a long and most confidential conversation with my friend (whom I have known thoroughly, I believe, for many trying years), I am convinced that the deep and rooted feeling of his heart is regret and sorrow for the occurrences which have so deeply wounded you; and the most unmixed admiration of your conduct in all its particulars, and the warmest affection. But may I be allowed to state to Lady Byron that Lord B., after his general acknowledgment of having frequently been very wrong, and, from various causes, in a painful state of irritation, yet declares himself ignorant of the specific things which have given the principal offence, and that he wishes to hear them; that he may, if extenuation or atonement be possible, endeavour to make some reply; or, at all events, may understand the fulness of those reasons which have now, and as unexpectedly as afflictingly, driven your Ladyship to the step you have taken.

It would be waste of words and idle presumption for me, however your Ladyship’s goodness
might be led to excuse it, to observe how very extreme, how decidedly irreconcilable such a case should be, before the last measure is resorted to. But it may not be quite so improper to urge, from my deep conviction of their truth and importance, the following reflections. I entreat your Ladyship’s indulgence to them. What can be the consequence, to a man so peculiarly constituted, of such an event? If I may give vent to my fear, my thorough certainty, nothing short of absolute and utter destruction. I turn from the idea; but no being except your Ladyship can prevent this. None, I am thoroughly convinced, ever could have done so, notwithstanding the unhappy appearances to the contrary.

Whatever, then, may be against it, whatever restraining remembrances or anticipations, to a person who was not already qualified by sad experience to teach this very truth, I would say that there is a claim paramount to all others,—that of attempting to save the human beings nearest and dearest to us from the most comprehensive ruin that can be suffered by them, at the expense of any suffering to ourselves.

If I have not gone too far, I would add that so suddenly and at once to shut every avenue to re-
turning comfort, must, when looked back upon, appear a strong measure; and, if it proceeds (pray pardon the suggestion) from the unfortunate notion of the very person to whom my friend now looks for consolation being unable to administer it, that notion I would combat with all the energy of conviction; and assert, that whatever unguarded and unjustifiable words, and even actions, may have inculcated this idea, it is the very rock on which the peace of both would, as unnecessarily as wretchedly, be sacrificed. But God Almighty forbid that there should be any sacrifice.

Be all that is right called out into action, all that is wrong suppressed (and by your only instrumentality, Lady Byron, as by yours only it can be) in my dear friend. May you both yet be what God intended you for: the support, the watchful correction, and improvement of each other! Of yourself, Lord B. from his heart declares that he would wish nothing altered—nothing but that sudden, surely sudden, determination which must for ever destroy one of you, and perhaps even both. God bless both!

I am, with deep regard,
Your Ladyship’s faithful servant,
Francis Hodgson.