LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Lady Byron to Francis Hodgson, 24 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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February 24, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I have received your second letter. First let me thank you for the charity with which you consider my motives; and now of the principal subject.

I eagerly adopted the belief of insanity as a consolation; and though such malady has been found insufficient to prevent his responsibility with man, I will still trust that it may latently exist
so as to acquit him towards God. This no human being can judge. It certainly does not destroy the powers of self-control, or impair the knowledge of moral good and evil.

Considering the case upon the supposition of derangement: you may have heard, what every medical adviser would confirm, that it is in the nature of such malady to reverse the affections, and to make those who would naturally be dearest, the greatest objects of aversion, the most exposed to acts of violence, and the least capable of alleviating the malady. Upon such grounds my absence from Lord B. was medically advised before I left Town. But the advisers had not then seen him, and since Mr. Le Mann has had opportunities of personal observation, it has been found that the supposed physical causes do not exist so as to render him not an accountable agent.

I believe the nature of Lord B.’s mind to be most benevolent. But there may have been circumstances (I would hope the consequences, not the causes, of mental disorder) which would render an original tenderness of conscience the motive of desperation—even of guilt—when self-esteem had been forfeited too far. No external motive can be so strong. Goodness of heart—when there are
impetuous passions and no principles—is a frail security.

Every possible means have been employed to effect a private and amicable arrangement; and I would sacrifice such advantages in terms as, I believe, the Law would ensure to me, to avoid this dreadful necessity. Yet I must have some security, and Lord B. refuses to afford any. If you could persuade him to the agreement you would save me from what I most deprecate. I have now applied to Lord Holland for that end.

If you wish to answer—and I shall always be happy to hear from you—I must request you to enclose your letter to my father, Sir Ralph Noel, Mivart’s Hotel, Lower Brook Street, London, as I am not sure where I may be at that time.

My considerations of duty are of a very complicated nature; but my duty as a mother seems to point out the same conduct as I pursue upon other principles that I have partly explained.

I must observe upon one passage of your letter, that I have had (sic) expectations of personal violence, though I was too miserable to have feelings of fear, and those expectations would now be still stronger.

In regard to any change which the future state
Lord B.’s mind might justify in my intentions, an amicable arrangement would not destroy the opening for reconciliation. Pray endeavour to promote the dispositions to such an arrangement; there is every reason to desire it.

Yours very truly,
A. I. Byron.
The Rev. F. Hodgson.