LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Astarte: a Fragment of Truth
Lady Byron to Augusta Leigh, 30 July 1816

I. Byron Characteristics
II. Three Stages of Lord Byron’s Life
III. Manfred
IV. Correspondence of Augusta Byron
V. Anne Isabella Byron
VI. Lady Byron’s Policy of Silence
VII. Informers and Defamers
VIII. “When We Dead Awake”
IX. Lady Byron and Mrs. Leigh (I)
X. Lady Byron and Mrs. Leigh (II)
XI. Byron and Augusta
Notes by the Editor
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Lowestoffe July 30 1816.

. . . It is in hearts like yours & mine, dearest A——, where kind feelings have so much power, that their excess even in the shape of sacrifice, is to be guarded against—and those particular ones to which we have yielded too much ought to be those from which we should afterwards withdraw as much as possible—Certainly when regard for the welfare of others also enjoins us to withdraw—

Consider all the reasons against any future personal intercourse between you & him by an earlier regard to which evils might have been prevented—First—his inclinations to misuse it—against a return of which you can never feel secure in a character so unstable—& you
would thus expose him to temptation—If you have been sanguine in the disinterested hope of contributing actively to his good, I have indulged it for you beyond the bounds of reason, & have always most earnestly desired that you should have the comfort of being instrumental to that end—but your chance of being so, at least by any personal endeavours, has I fear been sacrificed—Associations most prejudicial to a good influence from you, have subsisted too deeply & too habitually in his mind—What has passed on his part since my marriage, in my presence, as well as in my absence, must on reconsideration, convince you they were in no degree done away—Our visit to SMB1—even the first night of it will make you sensible of this—He then made me most cruelly sensible of what engrossed his thoughts & actuated his conduct—His visit to you afterwards, when his resentment was excited by the blameless principle of your opposition, in short, many more facts I shall not recall, lead to the same conclusion—His feelings towards you have varied—& they were seldom suppressed with me—Sometimes he has spoken of you with compassion—sometimes with bitter scorn—& sometimes with dispositions still more reprehensible—The only time when I believe he was really on the very brink of Suicide, was on an occasion relating to his remorse about you—If I think you have something to atone for to him, much more do I think he owes you atonement. Till you feel that he has in reality been your worst friend—indeed, not your friend—you cannot altogether think rightly—yet I am far from thinking any uncharitable feelings are to follow—forgive him—desire his welfare—but resign the pernicious view of being his friend more nearly—do not think me cruel—you would not if you knew how happy it would make me that wishes which I do not misunderstand, & even feel for you, could accord with any reasonable or religious consideration of the relative circumstances.

There is another reason too of the greatest weight—

1 Six Mile Bottom

For the sake of your children—both as respects the world’s opinion of yourself and still more from the injury young minds must receive in the society of one so unprincipled—I feel most anxious for your children in this respect, & for dear
Georgiana particularly, whom, as you must remember he had every disposition to injure—& you will not be offended when I say also that I think his mind too powerful for you—I could not feel secure that he would not bewilder you on any subject—The nature of his character (which I could make clearer to you than it is) gives him great advantage over any one in this respect.

You seem to have understood from the anxiety I retain that he should become more fit for another world, that I have yet some idea of assisting that end personally No—Such hope is as far from me as from you—& it would only be in one circumstance that I would ever consent to see him again—Alas—my dear A—you do not, I believe, know him—The Selfishness of strong passions, & when Romance is made the colouring & the mask of Vice, is not so easily perceived, as the selfishness of a calmer temper & less fascinating imagination—and the arts of a character naturally open and ingenuous, till it was changed & taught to deceive at an early age by the dreadful necessity of concealment—is not as obvious as the duplicity of one whose heart was less formed for confidence—Such, as I once told you are the fatal effects of a Solitary Secret—it Chills & hardens & absorbs—& the heart which it does not break must become depraved—if Religious feelings do not save it—

I should not advise you for his sake to restrict your correspondence further than by keeping always in view to rectify instead of soothing or indulging his feelings—by avoiding therefore all phrases or marks, which may recall wrong ideas to his mind—& even should this excite his irritation, it will do him less injury than compliance—and let me also warn you against the levity & nonsense which he likes for the worst reason, because it prevents him from reflecting seriously—at a distance you
may perhaps be better able to say things occasionally which will make an impression—the more so, as you are not suspected of preaching—or of knowing what, when we meet, I may perhaps impart.

I will stop—perhaps already I have gone too far in using the privilege you allow me—But I will hope not to be quite useless to one I love so well—Let me know what opinions you may form on the subjects of my letter & believe me always—

Your most affecte
A. I. B