LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Augusta Leigh to Francis Hodgson, 14 November 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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Dear Mr. Hodgson,—I am so glad of an excuse to write to you, that I avail myself of that of our last letters having crossed, and there being many points in yours upon which mine would not satisfy you. To begin with dear B. The last tidings of him were from Milan, the 13th October, having just arrived there without disasters, or encounter of robbers on the Simplon. The style struck me as being more cheerful than former letters. I told you something, and indeed I daresay all I know, of the Canto, etc. I see they make their appearance on the 23rd. The story of their being sent to Lady B. I think I may safely say is untrue. She was, as well as me, on the eve of leaving Town when Murray received them, and he paid her the compliment of showing them. I think he had scarcely time to look them over. This may by some means have been twisted into the tale you have heard; but perhaps you had better keep my information to yourself. I am afraid to open my lips, though all I say to you I know is secure from misinterpretation. On the opinions expressed by Mr. M. I am not surprised. I have seen letters written to him which could not but give rise to such, or confirm them. If I may give you mine, it is that in his own mind there were and are recollections, fatal to
his peace, and which would have prevented his being happy with any woman whose excellence equalled or approached that of Lady B., from the consciousness of being unworthy of it. Nothing could or can remedy this fatal cause but the consolations to be derived from religion, of which, alas! dear Mr. H., our beloved B. is, I fear, destitute. My anxious prayer for him, is for that first and only certain good, and I should be wretched indeed bereaved of hope on that subject. His friends (who for the most part are more or less deceived about him) argue thus: ‘Oh! had he married a woman of the world, she would have let him have his way, and have had hers—and they would have done very well;’ and this is worldly reasoning. I happen to know that dear Lady B. would have sacrificed all her own tastes and pursuits, everything but her duty, to make him happy; but all was in vain: it is indeed a heart-breaking thought! And worse than all, not all my affection or anxiety can be either of use or comfort to him. I shall pain you as much as I feel it myself, but it is a relief to talk of him to one who loves him and feels so rationally at the same time all there is to hope and fear for him. I’m sure it is very useless to try to express my feelings towards him—I never could. Pray read
over the 17th, 18th, and 19th stanzas of ‘
Lara;’ they are quite wonderfully resemblant. Sometimes it strikes me he must have two minds! Such a mixture of blindness and perception! I don’t know whether you can understand me. Pray always say anything that you wish and think about him.

Nov. 14.

I am obliged to finish this letter, which was begun some days ago, rather in haste, for a frank and the post. I hope you will give me the pleasure of hearing from you when you can. B. desires me to direct to him ‘à Genève, Poste Restante.’ His banker there forwards his letters. I quite dread the Poems. So afraid of their renewing unpleasant recollections in the public mind, and containing bitterness towards her who has already suffered too much. Mind, whatever you hear pray tell me. B. has once or twice said he thought of returning to England in the spring; but I don’t indulge much hope on the subject, nor do I know that it would be desirable. You have probably heard by this time all that is known about the dreadful fire at B. Castle:1 I felt so sorry for it, as knowing the duke and duchess, and the

1 Belvoir.

latter being so attached to it. I should indeed delight in paying you and
Mrs. H. a visit, but with five children to nurse and educate you will feel that I cannot make any long or distant absence from home. Our plans are, however, in great uncertainty, as our place is for sale, and if we could get a purchaser we must go somewhere. If ever I go north, it shall not be without at least a call at Bakewell. I hope Mrs. H.’s health will not suffer from the cold climate. I passed seven years of my life, from six years old to thirteen, about seven miles from Chesterfield, at a village called Eckington, and well remember the coal pits! My children are all well, thank God! Col. L. desires his best compliments.

Ever very truly yours,
A. L.

Pray write to B. I have much more to say, but cannot say it now.