LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Augusta Leigh to Francis Hodgson, 15 December 1814

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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Six Mile Bottom: December 15.

My dear Mr. Hodgson,—You could not have gratified me more than by giving me an opportunity of writing on my favourite subject to one so truly worthy of it as you are; indeed I have repeatedly wished of late that I could communicate with you, and should have ventured to do so by letter had I known your address. Most thankful do I feel that I have so much to say that will delight you. I have every reason to think that my beloved B. is very happy and comfortable. I hear constantly from him and his Rib. They are now at Seaham, and not inclined to return to Halnaby,1 because all the world were preparing to visit them there, and at S. they are free from this torment, no trifling

1 Sir Ralph Milbanke’s other place in Durham, where they passed the first month of their married life.

one in B.’s estimation, as you know. From my own observations on their epistles, and knowledge of B.’s disposition and ways, I really hope most confidently that all will turn out very happily. It appears to me that
Lady B. sets about making him happy quite in the right way. It is true I judge at a distance, and we generally hope as we wish; but I assure you I don’t conclude hastily on this subject, and will own to you, what I would not scarcely to any other person, that I had many fears and much anxiety founded upon many causes and circumstances of which I cannot write. Thank God! that they do not appear likely to be realised. In short, there seems to me to be but one drawback to all our felicity, and that, alas! is the disposal of dear Newstead, which I am afraid is irrevocably decreed. I received the fatal communication from Lady B. ten days ago, and will own to you that it was not only grief, but disappointment; for I had flattered myself such a sacrifice would not be made. From my representations she had said and urged all she could in favour of keeping it. Mr. Hobhouse the same, and I believe (but I can’t exactly explain to you particularly how and about it) that he was deputed to make inquiries and researches, and I know that he wrote to B. suggesting the propriety and ex-
pediency of at least delaying the sale. This most excellent advice created so much disturbance in B.’s mind, that Lady B. wrote me word ‘He had such a fit of vexation he could not appear at dinner, or leave his room.’
Claughton has since that conceded the £5,000 in dispute, and I fear this would finally end all difficulties. B.’s spirits had improved at the prospect of a release from the embarrassments which interfered so much with his comfort, and I suppose I ought to be satisfied with this. But for the life of me, dear Mr. H., I cannot, never shall while I breathe, I’m thoroughly convinced, feel reconciled to the loss of that sacred, revered Abbey. The affliction it causes me is severely aggravated by the conviction that it might by a little patience, forbearance, and temporary prudence have been unnecessary, and that my darling brother will some day lament this step, and perhaps others besides him. I am determined to think it lost, though the thought makes me more melancholy than, perhaps, the loss of an inanimate object ought to do; and I have determined henceforward to hold my peace to others, for if it is really gone lamentations can do no good. At the same time, I cannot always check a sort of inward foreboding that it will not go. To be sure, this is
perfectly irrational, but so it is, and I can only say that I don’t encourage such superstitions. Anybody but you would be quite tired of my bewailings on this sad subject, but I’m sure you feel on it as much like me as anyone can who is not a Byron, and therefore I will not apologise. May the future bring peace and comfort to my dearest B.! that is always one of my first wishes; and I’m convinced it is my duty to endeavour to be resigned to the loss of this dear Abbey from our family, as well as all other griefs which are sent by Him who knows what is good for us. It is said that
Lord P.’s 1 sanity is likely to be established, which I’m glad of for the sake of his poor wife; but I can’t help wishing my brother’s concerns out of her father’s hands for very powerful reasons.

I do not know what are B.’s plans. Lady B. says nothing can be decided upon till their affairs are in some degree arranged. They have been anxious to procure a temporary habitation in my neighbourhood, which would be convenient to him and delightful to me, if his presence is required in Town upon this sad Newstead business. But I’m sorry to say I cannot hear of any likely to suit

1 Lord Portsmouth, who had recently married a daughter of Lord Byron’s agent and solicitor, Mr. Hanson.

them; and our house is so very small, I could scarcely contrive to take them in. Lady B. is extremely kind to me, for which I am most grateful, and to my dearest B., for I am well aware how much I am indebted to his partiality and affection for her good opinion. I will not give up the hope of seeing them in their way to Town, whenever they do go, as for a few nights they would, perhaps, tolerate the innumerable inconveniences attending the best arrangement I could make for them. Before I quit the B. subject, I must ask you a question which has just occurred to me. Did you ever hear that Landed Property, the gift of the Crown, could not be sold? I have, but can scarcely believe it, because I should think
Mr. Claughton would be aware of such a thing in the case of N. A thousand thanks for your kind inquiries. My babes are all quite well; Medora more beautiful than ever. Col. L. is at present suffering from a very bad cough, which I’m sorry to add he has had a great deal too long. He desires his best compliments and regards to you.

Now, dear Mr. H., I have, I fear, almost tired you, at least I should fear it on any other subject. I wish you had told me a great deal more of you and yours; pray do this whenever your pen has not
better employment, for I am truly interested in your happiness. Have you any pupils, or any more, for I think you had one when last I heard from you? I hope your solitude will cease to be solitary sooner than you imagine. Excuse this tedious long letter, and

Believe me,
Ever very truly yours,
A. L.

P.S.—Lady B. writes me word she never saw her father and mother so happy: that she believes the latter would go to the bottom of the sea herself to find fish for B.’s dinner, that he (B.) owns at last that he is very happy and comfortable at Seaham, though he had pre-determined to be very miserable. In some of her letters she mentions his health not being very good, though he seldom complains, but say’s both that and his spirits have been improved by some daily walks she had prevailed on him to take; and attributes much of his languor in ye morning and feverish feels at night to his long fasts, succeeded by too hearty meals for any weak and empty stomach to bear at one time, waking by night and sleeping by day. I flatter myself her influence will prevail over these bad habits. They had been playing the fool one evening, ‘old and
young.’ B. dressed in
Lady M.’s long-haired wig (snatched from her head for the purpose), his dressing-gown on, turned wrong-side out; Lady B. in his travelling-cap and long cloak, with whiskers and mustachios. What a long P.S.!