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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I thank you most warmly for the trouble you have taken which will be of great use to me. I wish to make some remarks on parts of your very kind letter & comments.

I am so deeply sensible of the mischievous consequences that would ensue from want of temper were I married to a man of warm feelings (and I could not love one who had them not), that I have thought it a sufficient reason for
deferring matrimony. I should at present occasion disappointment to a husband who expected to find me possessed of constant self-command & composure. I most fully agree with you in thinking a reciprocation of Passion highly culpable and absurd—it is therefore my constant endeavour to practise self-government in my present slight trials in order to prepare my mind for enduring those I may hereafter encounter, in such a manner as will make myself & others happy. I have confessed that my good resolutions on this subject sometimes fail when their execution is most requisite, but as the failures become gradually less frequent, I hope I may without presumption look forward to the time when I shall not disappoint my husband. I do not exactly recollect in what way I gave myself credit for Controuling my feelings, but I think I must have applied it to those which border on Romance, not to my irritable dispositions, as I reproach myself so painfully for not having completely subdued the latter.

With this consciousness of my own deficiencies in what is so essential to the conduct of a good wife, I am not in danger of being dissatisfied because I do not find perfection. Believe me I have never imagined myself deserving of attachment from the best kind of imperfect characters, and on that account I did not venture to include in my demands some qualities which you justly consider very great advantages (as those of Talents & Chearfulness) because I would not be conceitedly unreasonable.

In some particulars you have not exactly estimated my meaning, which I cannot be surprised at when I consider the obscurity & in-
sufficiency of my statement owing to my wish for brevity. You are mistaken in thinking that I meant to dispense with the amiable feelings. I thought those of “good-nature, openness, frankness & kindness of heart” included under the term “generous” and if that expression was not correct, I cannot explain my meaning better than by those particular qualities which you have enumerated at the foundation of Love. So far from supposing that I could be attached by a character of dry Reason, and cold Rectitude, I am always repelled by people of that description.

With regard to the Principles, which I would have founded on a sense of religion, I thought that if they are consistent they cannot be unsettled, therefore that it is needless to add that they should be fixed. However you are very right in reproving vague expressions, and I should have made the sense less equivocal.

You say that with all these requisites “a man has my free leave to be obstinate, perverse, morose, sulky & ill-natured.” How can these dispositions exist with the well-regulated good feelings which I mention in the first place? Besides I afterwards specify the absence of ill-humoured habits. If I had not thought this sufficient to secure the exclusion of such bad qualities as you describe I should have named them distinctly as objectionable.

After so full an explanation you will perhaps take off my stilts, and allow that I am only on tiptoe. I quite agree with what you say, and I am trying to show you that it agrees more nearly with what I said than you seem to suppose.

Most affecty. yours,
A. I. M.