LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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In Whig Society 1775-1818
Annabella Milbanke to Lady Melbourne, [October 1812]

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
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Dear Aunt,

On the opposite side you will find what I promised—do not forget your part.

It is so difficult to speak of oneself exactly as one means, that I think you might mistake the
account I gave of my defects of temper. As I do not wish you to think worse of me than I deserve, I will try to explain myself more correctly.

I am never irritated except when others are so, and then I am too apt to imitate them. This makes good temper in my companions very necessary for my peace, and if I am not disturbed by others in this way I have not any disposition to disturb them. I am never sulky, but my spirits are easily depressed, particularly by seeing anybody unhappy.

What I call my Romance is this—that if I had not acquired the habit of reflecting before I act, I should sometimes have sacrificed considerations of prudence to the impulse of my feelings—but I am not conscious of ever having yielded to the temptation which assailed me. I can assure you from experience that I am very thankfully submissive to correction so tell me when I am wrong.

Yours affectly. [A. I. Milbanke].

On the “opposite side” she wrote as follows:


“He must have consistent principles of Duty governing strong & generous feelings, and reducing them under the command of Reason.

“Genius is not in my opinion necessary, though desirable, if united with what I have just mentioned.

“I require a freedom from suspicion, & from habitual ill-humour—also an equal tenor of affection towards me, not that violent attachment which is susceptible of sudden encrease or diminution from trifles.


“I wish to be considered by my husband as a reasonable adviser, not as a guide on whom he could implicitly depend.

“So much for the chief requisites of mind, and for the sake of these I could overlook many imperfections in other respects. In regard to external qualifications I would have fortune enough to enable me to continue without embarrassment in the kind of society to which I have been accustomed. I have no inclination to extravagance, and should be content to practise economy for the attainment of this object.

“Rank is indifferent to me. Good connections I think an important advantage.

“I do not regard beauty, but am influenced by the manners of a gentleman, without which I scarcely think that any one could attract me.

“I would not enter into a family where there was a strong tendency to Insanity.”