LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Astarte: a Fragment of Truth
XI. Byron and Augusta

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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The Hon. Mrs. Leigh to Lord Byron.
(Enclosing hair.)

[Post Mark] Newmarket Free 29 NO 29 1813
[seal: “Augusta”]
Lord Byron
4 Bennet Street
St. James’s
Partager tous vos sentimens
ne voir que par vos yeux
n’agir que par vos conseils, ne
vivre que pour vous, voila mes
voeux, mes projets, & le seul
destin qui peut me rendre

[Enclosed is a small packet containing a lock of fine dark brown hair tied with white silk. Inside the paper of the packet, and underneath the lock of hair, is written in autograph:

On the outside of the paper containing the hair is written by Lord Byron]:
La Chevelure of
the one whom I
most loved

[Of the following thirty-four letters, thirty-one are to Mrs. Leigh and three to Lady Byron. Of these I
possess in most cases both the original letters and Lady Byron’s copies from them, which she took under the advice of
Colonel Doyle and Dr. Lushington, whose anxiety to guard against any future misrepresentation of facts has been already described.1 Some of these originals are from Lady Byron’s papers and some from a packet given many years ago by the late Mr. Murray2 to Lord Lovelace and his sister. Mr. Murray, who had been a generous creditor to Mrs. Leigh in the distresses of her later years, bought these letters after her death from her heirs. It has been possible to supply some lost portions and erasures, made by Mrs. Leigh, from Lady Byron’s copies.

The letter of July 20, 1819, to Lady Byron may perhaps give the false impression that, after their parting, he wrote to her frequently and on indifferent matters. That is far from being the case. But since she has been supposed to have been unsympathetic to him on the subject of his poetry, it is worth noting how—the pen once in hand—he recurred naturally to the old habit of talking to her about the scenery and subjects of his verse.

I have made no attempt to reproduce the dashes, which (in all the letters that I have seen) Byron habitually used instead of punctuation marks; nor the peculiar method of apparently doubling the letter “s”—so that, for instance, “yours” becomes “yourss”—which he adopted in his later years.3Ed.]

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Diodati Augt 27th 1816.
[First line scratched out]

Your confidential letter is safe, and all the others. This one has cut me to the heart because I have made you uneasy. Still I think all these apprehensions—very groundless. Who can care for such a wretch as Ce ——,4

1 See Chap. II., p. 46, and Chap. III., p. 59.

2 Father of the present head of the firm.

3 See Chap. V., p. III.

4 Lady Caroline Lamb.

or believe such a seventy times convicted liar? and in the next place, whatever she may suppose or assert—I never “committed” any one to her but myself. And as to her
fancies—she fancies any thing—and every body—Lady M1 &c. &c. Really this is starting at shadows. You distress me with—no—it is not you. But I have heard that Lady B—— is ill, & I am so sorry—but it’s of no use—do not mention her again—but I shall not forget her kindness to you.

I am going to Chamouni (to leave my card with Mont Blanc) and I mean to buy some pretty granite & spar playthings for children (which abound there) for my daughter—and my nieces—You will forward what I select to little Da—& divide the rest among your own. I shall send them by Scrope; this goes by another person. I shall write more and longer soon.

do not be uneasy—and do not “hate yourself” if you hate either let it be me—but do not—it would kill me; we are the last persons in the world—who ought—or could cease to love one another.

Ever dearest thine 2

P.S. I send a note to Georgiana. I do not understand all your mysteries about “the verses” & the Asterisks; but if the name is not put asterisks always are, & I see nothing remarkable in this. I have heard nothing but praises of those lines.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Sept. 8th 1816.
My dearest Augusta,

By two opportunities of private conveyance I have sent answers to your letter delivered by Mr. H.3 S——4 is on his return to England and may probably

1 Lady Melbourne.

2 For facsimile of signature, see p. 286.

3 Hobhouse.

4 Scrope Davies.

arrive before this. He is charged with a few packets of seals—necklaces—balls &c. &—I know not what—formed of Chrystals, Agates, and other stones, all of them from Mont Blanc bought and brought by me on and from the spot—expressly for you to divide among yourself and the children, including also your niece
Ada, for whom I selected a ball (of Granite—a soft substance by the way—but the only one there) wherewithall to roll and play when she is old enough, and mischievous enough, & moreover a Chrystal necklace; and anything else you may like to add for her—the love!

The rest are for you and the nursery, but particularly Georgiana, who has sent me a very nice letter. I hope Scrope will carry them all safely, as he promised. There are seals and all kinds of fooleries, pray like them, for they come from a very curious place (nothing like it hardly in all I ever saw) to say nothing of the giver.

And so—Lady B. has been “kind to you” you tell me—“very kind”—umph—it is as well she should be kind to some of us, and I am glad she has the heart & the discernment to be still your friend; you was ever so to her. I heard the other day that she was very unwell. I was shocked enough——& sorry enough, God knows, but never mind; H. tells me however that she is not ill; that she had been indisposed, but is better and well to do—This is a relief. As for me I am in good health, & fair, though very unequal spirits; but for all that—she—or rather the Separation—has broken my heart. I feel as if an Elephant had trodden on it. I am convinced I shall never get over it—but I try. I had enough before I knew her and more than enough, but time & agitation had done something for me; but this last wreck has affected me very differently. If it were acutely it would not signify; but it is not that—I breathe lead. While the storm lasted and you were all pitying and comforting me with condemnation in Piccadilly, it was bad enough & violent enough, but it’s
worse now; I have neither strength nor spirits nor inclination to carry me through anything which will clear my brain or lighten my heart. I mean to cross the Alps at the end of this month, & go—God knows where—by Dalmatia up to the Arnauts again, if nothing better can be done; I have still a world before me—this—or the next. H—— has told me all the strange stories in circulation of me & mine—not true.1 I have been in some danger on the lake (near Meillerie) but nothing to speak of; and as to all these “mistresses”—Lord help me—I have had but one. Now don’t scold—but what could I do? A
foolish girl, in spite of all I could say or do, would come after me, or rather went before for I found her here, and I have had all the plague possible to persuade her to go back again, but at last she went. Now dearest, I do most truly tell thee that I could not help this, that I did all I could to prevent it, and have at last put an end to it. I was not in love nor have any love left for any, but I could not exactly play the Stoic with a woman who had scrambled eight hundred miles to unphilosophize me, besides I had been regaled of late with so many “two courses and a desert” (Alas!) of aversion, that I was fain to take a little love (if pressed particularly) by way of novelty. And now you know all that I know of that matter, & it’s over. Pray write, I have heard nothing since your last, at least a month or five weeks ago. I go out very little, except into the air, and on journeys, and on the water, and to Coppet, where Me de Staël has been particularly kind and friendly towards me, and (I hear) fought battles without number in my very indifferent cause. It has (they say) made quite as much noise on this as the other side of “La Manche”—Heaven knows why, but I seem destined to set people by the ears.

Don’t hate me, but believe me ever
Yrs. most affecly

1 From here the latter half of this letter is printed in “Letters and Journals,” Vol. III., p. 347.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Sept. 14th 1816.
My dearest Augusta

The paper with the initials came safely with your letter, but the hair was either omitted or had slipt out. You may be sure I looked everywhere carefully, but I suppose you in your hurry forgot it. Pray send (or save for me) two or three—but tie them with a thread—or wrap them in a manner more liable to security.

I have written to you lately thrice, twice by private conveyance & once by post. This is the fourth since the letter you mention.

Your having seen my daughter is to me a great satisfaction; it is as if I had seen her myself. Next to you—dearest—she is nearly all I have to look forward to with hope or pleasure in this world. Perhaps she also may disappoint & distress me, but I will not think so; in any case she will at least love me—or my memory.

By Mr Davies I sent you for yourself—little Da—& my nieces, a variety of Chrystal & other trinkets from Mont Blanc & Chamouni, which I got upon the spot for you all. I hope they will arrive safely.

In my last letter I mentioned to you the origin of the stories about “mistresses.” As to “pages”—there be none such—nor any body else. Such assertions and reports find their own remedy sooner or later.

If I understand you rightly, you seem to have been apprehensive—or menaced (like every one else) by that infamous Bedlamite [erased]1—If she stirs against you, neither her folly nor her falsehood should or shall protect her. Such a monster as that has no sex, and should live no longer.

But till such an event should occur, you may rely that I shall remain as quiet as the most unbounded Contempt of her, and my affection for you & regard for your feelings can make me. I should never think of her nor her infamies, but that they seem (I know not why) to make you uneasy. What ’tis she may tell or what she may

1 Caroline Lamb.

know or pretend to know—is to me indifferent. You know I suppose that
Lady Bn secretly opened my letter trunks before she left Town, and that she has also been (during or since the separation) in correspondence with that self-avowed libeller & strumpet [erased]1 wife. This you may depend upon though I did not know it till recently.

Upon such conduct I am utterly at a loss to make a single comment—beyond every expression of astonishment. I am past indignation.

There is perhaps a chance of your seeing me in Spring, as I said before I left England; but it is useless to form plans, and most of all for me to do so. I may say (as Whitbread said to me of his own a short time before his decease), that “none of mine ever succeeded.”

We purpose making a short tour to the Berne Alps next week, and then to return here and cross the Simplon to Milan. Your letters had better be always directed to Geneva Poste Restante and my banker (Mr. Hentsch, a very attentive and good man), will take care to forward them, wherever I may be.

I have answered Georgiana’s letter & am very glad she likes her little cousin. How came Ada’s hair fair?—she will be like her mother and torture me. However if she is kind to you—and when the time comes—if she will continue so, it is enough.

I do not write to you in good spirits, and I cannot pretend to be so, but I have no near nor immediate cause of being thus, but as it is; I only request you will say nothing of this to Hobhouse by letter or message, as I wish to wear as quiet an appearance with him as possible;—besides I am in good health & well without.

The Jerseys are here; I am to see them soon. Made de Staël still very kind & hospitable, but Rocca (to whom she is privately married) is not well, with some old wounds badly cured.

If I see anything very striking in the Mountains I will tell thee. To Scrope I leave the details of Chamouni

1 Wm. Lamb’s.

& the Glaciers & the sources of the Aveiron. This country is altogether the Paradise of Wilderness—I wish you were in it with me—& every one else out of it—Love me,
A., ever thine—


[Mrs. Leigh wrote about the above letter to Lady Byron:

Sept. 27. The first sentence relates to 2 or 3 hairs of a Great Man, which I sent by way of curiosity”. . .

“And then about you my dearest A—— Do you know I’m sorry to suspect Fletcher of that communication—for no one else could”. . .

“I will tell you what I have answered which was very little . . . in answer to the accusations—ye first—‘Who could tell him such a thing! which I could not believe’” . . .

Sept. 30. Do tell me if I can do anything about you for I cant tell you the grief it is to me his having such ideas—if1 he really has them—I sometimes indeed often think it a real madness and you know not how I have been doomed to witness this perverted way of seeing things—not only in him—thinking real friends enemies—right—wrong—and so on” . . .

“About the Trunks—Could not I say something true to contradict such a vile Calumny! Do advise me—and consider yourself as what I consider most”. . .

Lady Byron answered:

Oct. 2. . . . All that is said of CL appears to me nothing but the effect of apprehension—and the design to blacken me by association with her (which will however make me more cautious) is another effect of fear in order to invalidate any future disclosure which he may suspect or know it is in my power to make so as to convince others—the temper of the whole letter is decidedly that of a conscience enraged by anticipating judgment here as well as hereafter—and which by way of precaution against the former would persecute un-

1 Underlined twice.

relentingly all whom he has made to know him—From this view his adoption (if not invention) of my being a Picklock is easily explained—for such a suspicion of my means of information would entirely discredit my testimony—But there also seems another disposition in parts of the letter—to alarm and annoy you notwithstanding the professed feelings of consideration and affection—This is evident in the hint about
Whitbread—(the old threat of Suicide)—and I think also in this very suggestion of my having opened his papers—letters of yours probably”. . .

“To return once more to CL—I never wrote a single line to her from the time of my separation till that note of which you know merely declining her visit—so that the story of a correspondence is utterly false.” . . .

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Ouchy. Sept 17. 1816
My dearest Augusta,

I am thus far on my way to the Bernese Alps & the Grindenwald, and the Yung frau (that is the “Wild woman” being interpreted—as it is so perverse a mountain that no other sex would suit it), which journey may occupy me about eight days or so, and then it is my intention to return to Geneva, preparatory to passing the Simplon——

Continue you to direct as usual to Geneva. I have lately written to you several letters (3 or 4 by post and two by hand) and I have received all yours very safely. I rejoice to have heard that you are well. You have been in London too lately, & H. tells me that at your levée he generally found Ld F. Bentinck—pray why is that fool so often a visitor? is he in love with you? I have recently broken through my resolution of not speaking to you of Lady B— but do not on that account name her to me. It is a relief—a partial relief to me to talk of her sometimes to you—but it would be none to hear of her. Of her you are to judge for yourself,
but do not altogether forget that she has destroyed your brother. Whatever my faults might or may have been—She—was not the person marked out by providence to be their avenger. One day or another her conduct will recoil on her own head; not through me, for my feelings towards her are not those of Vengeance, but—mark—if she does not end miserably tot ou tard. She may think—talk—or act as she will, and by any process of cold reasoning and a jargon of “duty & acting for the best” &c., &c., impose upon her own feelings & those of others for a time—but woe unto her—the wretchedness she has brought upon the man to whom she has been everything evil [except in one respect effaced] will flow back into its fountain. I may thank the strength of my constitution that has enabled me to bear all this, but those who bear the longest and the most do not suffer the least. I do not think a human being could endure more mental torture than that woman has directly & indirectly inflicted upon me—within the present year.

She has (for a time at least) separated me from my child—& from you—but I turn from the subject for the present.

To-morrow I repass Clarens & Vevey; if in the new & more extended tour I am making, anything that I think may please you occurs, I will detail it.

Scrope has by this time arrived with my little presents for you and yours & Ada. I still hope to be able to see you next Spring, perhaps you & one or two of the children could be spared some time next year for a little tour here or in France with me of a month or two. I think I could make it pleasing to you, & it should be no expense to L. or to yourself. Pray think of this hint. You have no idea how very beautiful great part of this country is—and women and children traverse it with ease and expedition. I would return from any distance at any time to see you, and come to England for you; and when you consider the chances against our—but I won’t relapse into the dismals and anticipate long absences——

The great obstacle would be that you are so admirably
yoked—and necessary as a housekeeper—and a letter writer—& a place-hunter to that very helpless gentleman your Cousin, that I suppose the usual self-love of an elderly person would interfere between you & any scheme of recreation or relaxation, for however short a period.

What a fool was I to marry—and you not very wise—my dear—we might have lived so single and so happy—as old maids and bachelors; I shall never find any one like you—nor you (vain as it may seem) like me. We are just formed to pass our lives together, and therefore—we—at least—I—am by a crowd of circumstances removed from the only being who could ever have loved me, or whom I can unmixedly feel attached to.

Had you been a Nun—and I a Monk—that we might have talked through a grate instead of across the sea—no matter—my voice and my heart are

ever thine—
Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Diodati. October 1st 1816.
My dearest Augusta,—

Two days ago I sent you in three letter-covers a journal1 of a mountain-excursion lately made by me & Mr H.2 in the Bernese Alps. I kept it on purpose for you thinking it might amuse you. Since my return here I have heard by an indirect Channel that Lady B. is better, or well. It is also said that she has some intention of passing the winter on the Continent. Upon this subject I want a word or two, and as you are—I understand—on terms of acquaintance with her again you will be the properest channel of communication from me to her. It regards my child. It is far from my intention now or at any future period (without misconduct on her part which I should be grieved to anticipate),

1Letters and Journals,” Vol. III., p. 349.

2 Hobhouse.

to attempt to withdraw my child from its mother. I think it would be harsh; & Though it is a very deep privation to me to be withdrawn from the contemplation and company of my little girl, still I would not purchase even this so very dearly; but I must strongly protest against my daughter’s leaving England, to be taken over the Continent at so early a time of life & subjected to many unavoidable risks of health & comfort; more especially in so unsettled a state as we know the greater part of Europe to be in at this moment. I do not choose that my girl should be educated like
Lord Yarmouth’s son (or run the chance of it which a war would produce), and I make it my personal & particular request to Lady Byron that—in the event of her quitting England—the child should be left in the care of proper persons. I have no objection to its remaining with Lady Noel & Sir Ralph, (who would naturally be fond of it), but my distress of mind would be very much augmented if my daughter quitted England without my consent or approbation. I beg that you will lose no time in making this known to Lady B. and I hope you will say something to enforce my request, I have no wish to trouble her more than can be helped. My whole hope—and prospect of a quiet evening (if I reach it), are wrapt up in that little creature—Ada—and you must forgive my anxiety in all which regards her even to minuteness. My journal will have told you all my recent wanderings. I am very well though I had a little accident yesterday. Being in my boat in the evening the pole of the mainsail slipped in veering round, & struck me on a nerve of one of my legs so violently as to make me faint away. Mr He & cold water brought me to myself, but there was no damage done—no bone hurt—and I have now no pain whatever. Some nerve or tendon was jarred—for a moment & that was all. To-day I dine at Coppet; the Jerseys are I believe to be there. Believe me ever & truly my own dearest Sis. most affectionately and entirely yours

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Milan Octr 15. 1816.
My dearest Augusta

I have been at Churches, Theatres, libraries, and picture galleries. The Cathedral is noble, the theatre grand, the library excellent, and the galleries I know nothing about—except as far as liking one picture out of a thousand. What has delighted me most is a manuscript collection (preserved in the Ambrosian library), of original love-letters and verses of Lucretia de Borgia & Cardinal Bembo; and a lock of her hair—so long—and fair & beautiful—and the letters so pretty & so loving that it makes one wretched not to have been born sooner to have at least seen her. And pray what do you think is one of her signatures?—why this ✣ a Cross—which she says “is to stand for her name &c.” Is not this amusing? I suppose you know that she was a famous beauty, & famous for the use she made of it; & that she was the love of this same Cardinal Bembo (besides a story about her papa Pope Alexander & her brother Caesar Borgia—which some people don’t believe—& others do), and that after all she ended with being Duchess of Ferrara, and an excellent mother & wife also; so good as to be quite an example. All this may or may not be, but the hair & the letters are so beautiful that I have done nothing but pore over them, & have made the librarian promise me a copy of some of them; and I mean to get some of the hair if I can. The verses are Spanish—the letters Italian—some signed—others with a cross—but all in her own hand-writing.

I am so hurried, & so sleepy, but so anxious to send you even a few lines my dearest Augusta, that you will forgive me troubling you so often; and I shall write again soon; but I have sent you so much lately, that you will have too many perhaps. A thousand, loves to you from me—which is very generous for I only ask one in return

Ever dearest thine
Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Milan. Octr 26th 1816.
My dearest Augusta

It is a month since the date of your last letter—but you are not to suppose that your letters do not arrive. All the assertions of the post being impeded are (I believe) false; and the faults of their non-arrival are in those who write, (or rather do not write) not in the conveyance. I have hitherto written to you very regularly, indeed rather perhaps too often, but I now tell you that I will not write again at all, if I wait so long for my answers. I have received no less than three letters from one person all dated within this month of Octr, so that it cannot be the fault of the post, and as to the address—I particularly stated Geneva, as usual poste restante, or to the care of Monsr Hentsch Banquier Geneva—perhaps the latter is safest. I mention all this—not from any wish to plague you—but because [my unfortunate effaced] circumstances perhaps make me feel more keenly anything which looks like neglect; and as among my faults towards you, that at least has not been one, even in that in which I am often negligent—viz.—letter writing—pray do not set me the example, lest I follow it.

I have written twice since my arrival at Milan and once before I left Geneva. My Diodati letter contained some directions about my daughter Ada, and I hope you received that letter & fulfilled my request as far as regards my child. I wish also to know if Scrope delivered the things entrusted to him by me, as I have no news of that illustrious personage. Milan has been an agreeable residence to me, but we propose going on to Venice next week. You will address however as usual (to my bankers) to Geneva. I have found a good many of the noble as well as literary classes of society intelligent, & very kind & attentive to strangers. I have seen all the sights, & last night among others heard an Improvisatore recite, a very celebrated one, named Sgricchi. It is not an amusing though a curious effort of human powers. I
enclose you a letter of
Monti (who is here & whom I know), the most famous Italian poet now living, as a specimen of his handwriting. If there are any of your acquaintance fond of collecting such things you may give it to them; it is not addressed to me.

I shall write again before I set out
believe me ever & truly
Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Octr 28th 1816.—
My dearest Augusta

Two days ago I wrote you the enclosed1 but the arrival of your letter of the 12th has revived me a little, so pray forgive the apparent “humeur” of the other, which I do not tear up—from lazyness—and the hurry of the post as I have hardly time to write another at present.

I really do not & cannot understand all the mysteries & alarms in your letters & more particularly in the last. All I know is—that no human power short of destruction—shall prevent me from seeing you when—where—& how—I may please—according to time & circumstance; that you are the only comfort (except the remote possibility of my daughter’s being so) left me in prospect in existence, and that I can bear the rest—so that you remain; but anything which is to divide us would drive me quite out of my senses; Miss Milbanke appears in all respects to have been formed for my destruction; I have thus far—as you know—regarded her without feelings of personal bitterness towards her, but if directly or indirectly—but why do I say this?—You know she is the cause of all—whether intentionally or not is little to the purpose——You surely do not mean to say that if I come to England in Spring, that you & I shall not meet? If so I will never return to it—though I must for many

1 The preceding letter.

reasons—business &c &c—But I quit this topic for the present.

My health is good, but I have now & then fits of giddiness, & deafness, which make me think like Swift—that I shall be like him & the withered tree he saw—which occasioned the reflection and “die at top” first. My hair is growing grey, & not thicker; & my teeth are sometimes looseish though still white & sound. Would not one think I was sixty instead of not quite nine & twenty? To talk thus—Never mind—either this must end—or I must end—but I repeat it again & again—that woman has destroyed me.

Milan has been made agreeable by much attention and kindness from many of the natives; but the whole tone of Italian society is so different from yours in England; that I have not time to describe it, tho’ I am not sure that I do not prefer it. Direct as usual to Geneva—hope the best—& love me the most—as I ever must love you.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Venice. Decr 18th 1816.
My dearest Augusta

I have received one letter dated 19th Novr I think (or rather earlier by a week or two perhaps), since my arrival in Venice, where it is my intention to remain probably till the Spring. The place pleases me. I have found some pleasing society—& the romance of the situation—& it’s extraordinary appearance—together with all the associations we are accustomed to connect with Venice, have always had a charm for me, even before I arrived here; and I have not been disappointed in what I have seen.

I go every morning to the Armenian Convent (of friars not Nuns—my child) to study the language, I mean the Armenian language, (for as you perhaps know—I am versed in the Italian which I speak with fluency rather
than accuracy), and if you ask me my reason for studying this out of the way language—I can only answer that it is Oriental and difficult, & employs me—which are—as you know my Eastern & difficult way of thinking—reasons sufficient. Then I have fallen in love with a
very pretty Venetian of two & twenty,1 with great black eyes. She is married—and so am I—which is very much to the purpose. We have formed and sworn an eternal attachment, which has already lasted a lunar month, & I am more in love than ever, & so is the lady—at least she says so. She does not plague me (which is a wonder) and I verily believe we are one of the happiest—unlawful couples on this side of the Alps. She is very handsome, very Italian or rather Venetian, with something more of the Oriental cast of countenance; accomplished and musical after the manner of her nation. Her spouse is a very good kind of man who occupies himself elsewhere, and thus the world goes on here as elsewhere. This adventure came very opportunely to console me, for I was beginning to be “like Sam Jennings very unappy” but at present—at least for a month past—I have been very tranquil, very loving, & have not so much embarassed myself with the tortures of the last two years and that virtuous monster Miss Milbanke, who had nearly driven me out of my senses.—[curse her effaced]2

Hobhouse is gene to Rome with his brother and sister—but returns here in February: you will easily suppose that I was not disposed to stir from my present position.

I have not heard recently from England & wonder if Murray has published the po’s sent to him; & I want to know if you don’t think them very fine & all that—Goosey my love—don’t they make you “put finger in eye?”

You can have no idea of my thorough wretchedness from the day of my parting from you till nearly a month ago though I struggled against it with some strength. At present I am better—thank Heaven above—&

1 Marianna (or Marianina) Segati.

2 The erasure is probably by Mrs. Leigh.

woman beneath—and I will be a very good boy. Pray remember me to the babes, & tell me of little
Da—who by the way—is a year old and a few days over.

My love to you all & to Aunt Sophy1: pray tell her in particular that I have consoled myself; and tell Hodgson that his prophecy is accomplished. He said—you remember—I should be in love with an Italian—so I am.—

ever dearest yrs.

P.S. I forgot to tell you—that the Demoiselle2—who returned to England from Geneva—went there to produce a new baby B., who is now about to make his appearance. You wanted to hear some adventures—there are enough I think for one epistle. Pray address direct to Venice—Poste Restante.

Lord Byron to Mrs. Leigh.
Venice Jany 13th 1817.
My dearest Augusta.

I wrote to you twice within the last and present months. Your letter of the 24th arrived to-day. So you have got the po’s. Pray tell me if Murray has omitted any stanzas in the publication; if he has I shall be very seriously displeased with him. The number sent was 118 to the 3d Canto.3 You do not mention the concluding 4 to my daughter Ada which I hoped would give you pleasure at least. I care not much about opinions at this time of day, and I am certain in my mind that this Canto is the best which I have ever written; there is depth of thought in it throughout and a strength of repressed passion which you must feel before you find; but it requires reading more than once, because it is in part metaphysical, and of a kind metaphysics which every will not understand. I

1 Sophia Byron.

2 Jane Clairmont, step-daughter of William Godwin. See “Letters and Journals,” Vol. III., pp. 347 and 427.

3 Of “Childe Harold.”

never thought that it would be popular & should not think well of it if it were, but those for whom it is intended will like it. Pray remember to tell me if any have been omitted in the publication. The lines on Drachenfels originally addressed to you, ought to be (& I suppose are) in the centre of the Canto—and the number of Stanzas in the whole 118—besides 4 of ten lines beginning with “Drachenfels” the lines which I sent to ou (sic) at the time from Coblentz—with the violets dearest ✣

Have you also got Chillon & the Dream & do you understand the latter?

If Murray has mutilated the MS. with his Toryism, or his notions about family considerations I shall not pardon him & am sure to know it sooner or later & to let him know it also.

I wrote to you the other day about Ada, if the answer is still refused I shall take legal measures to enforce it, and have ordered H.1 to do so. Remember I do not seek this, I wish it not, I regret it, but I require an explicit promise that Ada shall on no consideration quit the country, whether the mother does or no, and by all that is most sacred, there is no measure which I will not take to prevent it, failing in a reply to my just demand. So say—and so I will do. They will end by driving me mad, I wonder they have not already.

Of Venice I gave you some account in one of my letters. I have not much to add to it. I told you that I had fallen in love and that I shall probably remain here till the Spring, and that I am studying the Armenian language.

Marianina is not very well to-day, and I shall stay with her to nurse her this Evening. It is the Carnival, but the height of the Masquing is not yet begun. Catalani comes here on the 20th, but we have famous Music already, and a better opera than in London and a finer theatre, the Fenice by name, where I have a box, which costs me about 14 pounds sterling for the season instead

1 Hanson, his solicitor.

of four hundred as in London, and a better box and a better opera, besides the music the Scenery is most superb. There is also a ballet inferior to the singing. The Society is like all foreign Society. There is also a Ridotto. My paper’s out.

Ever yrs.
Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Venice, February 25th 1817.
Dearest Augusta,

I believe you have received all my letters, for I sent you no description of Venice, beyond a slight sketch in a letter which I perceive has arrived, because you mention the “Canal &c.” that was the longest letter I have written to you from this city of the seventy islands.

Instead of a description of the lady whom Aunt Sophy wants to have described, I will show you her picture, which is just finished for me, some of these days or other. The Carnival is over, but I am not in a descriptive mood, and will reserve all my wonders for word of mouth, when I see you again. I have nothing which would make you laugh much, except a battle some weeks ago in my apartment, between two of the fair “sect” (sisters in law) which ended in the flight of one and the fits of the other, and a great deal of confusion and eau de Cologne, and asterisks, and all that. The cause was—one paying me an evening visit. The other was gone out to a Conversazione, as was supposed for the evening, but lo and behold, in about half an hour she returned and entering my room, without a word, administered (before I could prevent her) about sixteen such slaps to her relation, as would have made your ear ache only to hear them. The assaulted lady screamed and ran away, the assailant attempted pursuit, but being prevented by me, fairly went into asterisks, which cost a world of water of all sorts, besides fine speeches to appease, and even then she declared herself a very ill used person,
although victorious over a much taller woman than herself. Besides she wronged my innocence, for nothing could be more innocent than my colloquy with the other. You may tell this to Sophy if she wants amusement. I repeat (as in my former letter) that I really and truly know nothing of

I have published nothing but what you know already.

I am glad to hear of Ada’s progress in her mother tongue, I hope you will see her again soon. What you “hope” may be, I do not know, if you mean a reunion between Lady B. and me, it is too late. It is now a year, and I have repeatedly offered to make it up, with what success you know. At present if she would rejoin me to-morrow, I would not accept the proposition. I have no spirit of hatred against her, however, I am too sensitive not to feel injuries, but far too proud to be vindictive. She’s a fool, and when you have said that, it is the most that can be said for her.

ever very truly yrs.
Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Rome May 10th 1817.
My dearest Augusta

I have taken a flight down here (see the Map), but shall return to Venice in fifteen days from this date, so address all answers to my usual head- (or rather heart-) quarters—that is to Venice. I am very well, quite recovered, & as is always the case after all illness—particularly fever—got large, ruddy, & robustous to a degree which would please you—& shock me. I have been on horse-back several hours a day for this last ten days, besides now & then on my journey; proof positive of high health, & curiosity, & exercise. Love me—& don’t be afraid—I mean of my sicknesses. I get well, & shall

1 Lord Ernle explains this as referring to “Peter or Patrick Pattieson,” the fictitious character under which Scott disguised the authorship of the first series of the “Tales of my Landlord.” See “Letters and Journals,” Vol. IV., p. 56.

always get so, & have luck enough still to beat most things; & whether I win or not—depend upon it—I will fight to the last.

Will you tell my wife “mine excellent Wife” that she is brewing a Cataract for herself & me in these foolish equivocations about Ada,—a job for lawyers—& more hatred for every body, for which—(God knows), there is no occasion. She is surrounded by people who detest me—Brougham the lawyer—who never forgave me for saying that Mrs Ge Lambe was a damned fool (by the way I did not then know he was in love with her) in 1814, & for a former savage note in my foolish satire, all which is good reason for him—but not for Lady Bn; besides her mother—&c &c &c—so that what I may say or you may say is of no great use—however—say it. If she supposes that I want to hate or plague her (however wroth circumstances at times may make me in words & in temporary gusts or disgusts of feeling), she is quite out—I have no such wish—& never had, & if she imagines that I now wish to become united to her again she is still more out. I never will. I would to the end of the year succeeding our separation—(expired nearly a month ago, Legal reckoning), according to a resolution I had taken thereupon—but the day & the hour is gone by—and it is irrevocable. But all this is no reason for further misery & quarrel; Give me but a fair share of my daughter—the half—my natural right & authority, & I am content; otherwise I come to England, & “law & claw before they get it,” all which will vex & out live Sir R. & Ly N.1 besides making Mrs Clermont bilious—& plaguing Bell herself, which I really by the great God! wish to avoid. Now pray see her & say so—it may do good—& if not—she & I are but what we are, & God knows that is wretched enough—at least to me.

Of Rome I say nothing—you can read the Guide-book—which is very accurate.

I found here an old letter of yours dated November 1816—to which the best answer I can make—is none.

1 Noel.

You are sadly timid1 my child, but so you all shewed yourselves when you could have been useful—particularly
——2 but never mind. I shall not forget him, though I do not rejoice in any ill which befalls him. Is the fool’s spawn a son or a daughter? you say one—& others another; so Sykes works him—let him—I shall live to see him & W.3 destroyed, & more than them—& then—but let all that pass for the present.

yrs. ever

P.S. Hobhouse is here. I travelled from V—— quite alone so do not fuss about women &c—I am not so rash as I have been.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Venice. June 3d 1817.

Dearest Augusta—I returned home a few days ago from Rome but wrote to you on the road; at Florence I believe, or Bologna. The last city you know—or do not know—is celebrated for the production of Popes—Cardinals—painters—& sausages—besides a female professor of anatomy, who has left there many models of the art in waxwork, some of them not the most decent.—I have received all your letters I believe, which are full of woes, as usual, megrims & mysteries; but my sympathies remain in suspense, for, for the life of me I can’t make out whether your disorder is a broken heart or the earache—or whether it is you that have been ill or the children—or what your melancholy & mysterious apprehensions tend to, or refer to, whether to Caroline Lamb’s novels—Mrs Clermont’s evidence—Lady Byron’s magnanimity—or any other piece of imposture; I know nothing of what you are in the doldrums about at present. I should think all that could affect you must have been over long ago; & as for me—leave me to take care of myself. I may be ill or well—in high or low spirits—in

1 “Sadly timid” is substituted for “a sad coward,” erased.

2 George Byron.

3 Wilmot.

quick or obtuse state of feelings—like any body else, but I can battle my way through; better than your exquisite piece of helplessness
G. L.1 or that other poor creature George Byron, who will be finely helped up in a year or two with his new state of life—I should like to know what they would do in my situation, or in any situation. I wish well to your George, who is the best of the two a devilish deal—but as for the other I shan’t forget him in a hurry, & if I ever forgive or allow an opportunity to escape of evincing my sense of his conduct (& of more than his) on a certain occasion—write me down—what you will, but do not suppose me asleep. “Let them look to their bond”—sooner or later time & Nemesis will give me the ascendant—& then “let them look to their bond.” I do not of course allude only to that poor wretch, but to all—to the 3d & 4th generation of these accursed Amalekites & the woman who has been the stumbling block of my——

June 4th 1817.

I left off yesterday at the stumbling block of my Midianite marriage—but having received your letter of the 20th May I will be in good humour for the rest of this letter. I had hoped you would like the miniatures, at least one of them, which is in pretty good health; the other is thin enough to be sure—& so was I—& in the ebb of a fever when I sate for it. By the “man of fashion” I suppose you mean that poor piece of affectation and imitation Wilmot—another disgrace to me & mine—that fellow. I regret not having shot him, which the persuasions of others—& circumstances which at that time would have rendered combats presumptions against my cause—prevented. I wish you well of your indispositions which I hope are slight, or I should lose my senses.

Yours ever
very & truly

1 Colonel George Leigh.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Venice—June 19th 1817.
Dearest Augusta,—

Since the pictures are so bad—they need not be copied—the poor painter seems to have been ignorant of the art of flattery.—It is to be recollected that I was ill at the time—& had been so for months—that one of them was done in the climax of a slow fever—and that the other is an attempt to supply the health which I had not recovered.—Send me Holmes’s print—one or two copies—they can come by the common post—not being heavy.—The last (the Venice) need not be copied.

I fear that not any good can be done by your speaking to Ly Biron (sic)—but I think it my duty to give fair warning—because they have broken their word;—they are not aware that if I please I can dissolve the separation—which is not a legal act—nor further binding than the will of the parties; I shall therefore not only take all proper and legal steps—but the former correspondence shall be published—& the whole business from the beginning investigated in all the courts of which it is susceptible;—unless the reasonable assurance which I have required with regard to my daughter be accorded—& now—come what may—as I have said—so will I do & have already given the proper instructions to the proper persons—to prepare for the steps above mentioned.——

[A half sheet, partly written upon by Lord Byron, is here torn off, and the letter continues on another and smaller sheet as follows.]

Recollect only that I have done all in my power to avoid this extremity.——

I am not at Venice but a few miles on the mainland—on the road to Padua—address as usual to Venice. I ride daily.——

yrs. truly

P.S. I repeat to you again and again—that it would be much better at once to explain your mysteries—than to go on with this absurd obscure hinting mode of writing. What do you mean? what is there known? or can be known? which you & I do not know much better? & what concealment can you have from me? I1 never shrank—and it was on your account principally that I gave way at all—for I thought they would endeavour to drag you into it—although they had no business with anything previous to my2 marriage with that infernal fiend, whose destruction I shall yet see. Do you suppose that I will rest while any of their branch is unwithered? do you suppose that I will turn aside till they are trodden under foot? do you suppose that I can breathe till they are uprooted? Do you believe that time will alter them or me? that I have suffered in vain—that I have been disgraced in vain—that I am reconciled to the sting of the scorpion—& the venom of the serpent? which stung me in my slumber? If I did not believe—that Time & Nemesis—& circumstances would requite me for the delay—I would ere this have righted myself.—But “let them look to their bond”

[This letter, as in all those where Byron expresses anger, is punctuated with long and vehement dashes of the pen.—Ed.]

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Venice Septr 21st 1818.—
Dearest Augusta

I particularly beg that you will contrive to get the enclosed letter safely delivered to Lady Frances,3 & if there is an answer to let me have it. You can write to her first & state that you have such a letter—at my request—for there is no occasion for any concealment at

1 Underlined twice.

2 Substituted for “the,” erased.

3 Wedderburne Webster.

least with her—& pray oblige me so far, for many reasons. If the
Queen dies you are no more a Maid of Honour—is it not so? Allegra1 is well, but her mother (whom the Devil confound) came prancing the other day over the Appennines—to see her shild; which threw my Venetian loves (who are none of the quietest) into great combustion; and I was in a pucker till I got her to the Euganean hills, where she & the child now are, for the present. I declined seeing her for fear that the consequence might be an addition to the family; she is to have the child a month with her and then to return herself to Lucca, or Naples, where she was with her relatives (she is English you know), & to send Allegra to Venice again. I lent her my house at Este for her maternal holidays. As troubles don’t come single, here is another confusion. The chaste wife of a baker—having quarrelled with her tyrannical husband—has run away to me (God knows without being invited), & resists all the tears & penitence and beg-pardons of her disconsolate Lord, and the threats of the police, and the priest of the parish besides; and swears she won’t give up her unlawful love (myself), for any body, or any thing. I assure you I have begged her in all possible ways too to go back to her husband, promising her all kinds of eternal fidelity into the bargain, but she only flies into a fury; and as she is a very tall and formidable Girl of three and twenty, with the large black eyes and handsome face of a pretty fiend, a correspondent figure and a carriage as haughty as a Princess—with the violent passions & capacities for mischief of an Italian when they are roused—I am a little embarrassed with my unexpected acquisition. However she keeps my household in rare order, and has already frightened the learned Fletcher out of his remnants of wits more than once; we have turned her into a housekeeper. As the morals of this place are very lax, all the women commend her

1 Alba or Clara Allegra Biron, his natural daughter by Jane Clairmont. See note, p. 280.

& say she has done right—especially her own relations. You need not be alarmed—I know how to manage her—and can deal with anything but a cold blooded animal such as
Miss Milbanke. The worst is that she won’t let a woman come into the house, unless she is as old and frightful as possible; and has sent so many to the right about that my former female acquaintances are equally frightened & angry. She is extremely fond of the child, & is very cheerful & goodnatured, when not jealous; but Othello himself was a fool to her in that respect. Her soubriquet in her family was la Mora from her colour, as she is very dark (though clear of complexion), which literally means the Moor so that I have “the Moor I of Venice” in propria persona as part of my household. She has been here this month. I had known her (and fifty others) more than a year, but did not anticipate this escapade, which was the fault of her booby husband’s treatment—who now runs about repenting & roaring like a bull calf. I told him to take her in the devil’s name, but she would not stir; & made him a long speech in the Venetian dialect which was more entertaining to anybody than to him to whom it was addressed. You see Goose—that there is no quiet in this world—so be a good woman—& repent of yr sins.


[The next letter preserved is the important one of May 17, 1819, printed in full, with the correspondence between Mrs. Leigh and Lady Byron concerning it, in Chapter IV., pp. 81 to 99.]

Written in the Wrapper of a Letter from Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
[Ravenna July 1819]

Allegra is well at Venice—There are also a fox, some dogs and two monkies, all scratching, screaming and fighting—in the highest health and Spirits. Fletcher is
Lady B. has refused a character to his wife, a little revenge of a-piece with her own. You say nothing of Ada, how is she? doubtless Lady Noel is as immortal as ever. Her death would do too much good for Providence to permit it in this state of sublunary things. If you see my Spouse—do pray tell her I wish to marry again and as probably she may wish the same, is there no way in Scotland? without compromising her immaculacy—cannot it be done there by the husband solely?

Lord Byron to Lady Byron.
(Enclosing verses of a German poet.)
Ravenna. July 20th 1819.

I have received from Holstein (I believe) the annexed paper of the Baroness of Hohenhausen &c. and the inclosed letter of a Mr. Jacob (or Jacobssen) and as they “ardently wish it could reach you” I transmit it. You will smile, as I have done, at the importance which they attach to such things, and the effect which they conceive capable of being produced by composition, but the Germans are still a young and a romantic people, and live in an ideal world. Perhaps it may not offend you, however it may surprise, that the good people on the frontiers of Denmark have taken an interest in your domestic Affairs, which have now, I think, nearly made the tour of Europe, and been discussed in most of its languages, to as little purpose as in our own. If you like to retain the enclosed, you can do so, an indication to my Sister that you have received the letter will be a sufficient answer. I will not close this sheet without a few words more. Fletcher has complained to me of your declining to give his wife a character, on account of your “doubts of her veracity in some circumstances a short time before she left you.” If your doubts allude to her testimony on your case during the then discussion, you must or at least ought to be the best judge how far she spoke truth or not; I can only say that She never had directly or indirectly, through me or mine, the
slightest inducement to the contrary, nor am I indeed perfectly aware of what her Evidence was, never having seen her nor communicated with her at that period or since. I presume that you will weigh well your justice before you deprive the woman of the means of obtaining her bread. No one can be more fully aware than I am of the utter inefficacy of any words of mine to you on this or on any other subject, but I have discharged my duty to Truth in stating the above, and now do yours.

The date of my letter, indeed my letter itself, may surprize you, but I left Venice in the beginning of June, and came down into Romagna; there is the famous forest of Boccacio’s Story and Dryden’s fable hardby, the Adriatic not far distant, and the Sepulchre of Dante within the walls. I am just going to take a Canter (for I have resumed my Tartar habits since I left England) in the cool of the Evening, and in the shadow of the forest till the Ave Maria. I have got both my saddle and Carriage horses with me, and don’t spare them, in the cooler part of the day. But I shall probably return to Venice in a short time. Ravenna itself preserves perhaps more of the old Italian manners than any City in Italy. It is out of the way of travellers and armies, and thus they have retained more of their originality. They make love a good deal, and assassinate a little. The department is governed by a Cardinal Legate (Alberoni was once legate here) to whom I have been presented and who told me some singular anecdotes of past times—of Alfieri &c. and others. I tried to discover for Leigh Hunt some traces of Francesca, but except her father Guido’s tomb, and the mere notice of the fact in the Latin commentary of Benvenuto da Imola in M.S. in the library, I could discover nothing for him. He (Hunt) has made a sad mistake about “old Ravenna’s clear-shewn towers and bay” the city lies so low that you must be close upon it before it is “shewn” at all, and the Sea had retired four miles at least, long before Francesca was born, and as far back as the Exarchs and Emperors. They tell me that at Rimini they know as
little about her now—as they do here—so I have not gone there, it lies in the way to Rome, but I was at Rome in 1817. This is odd, for at Venice I found many traditions of the old Venetians, and at Ferrara a plentiful assortment of the House of Este, with the remains of the very Mirror, whose reflection cost at least a dozen lives, including those of Parisina and Ugo. I was wrong in placing those two naughty people in a garden. Parisina was a Malatesta of Rimini, and her daughter by Niccolo of Este was also put to death by some Italian Chief her husband in nearly the same manner as her mother. Her name was Ginevra. So that including the alliance of Francesca with Launcelot Malatesta of Rimini, that same Malatesta family appears to have been but indifferently fortunate in their matrimonial speculations——I have written to you thus much, because in writing to you at all I may as well write much as little. I have not heard of
Ada for many months but they say “no news is good news” she must now be three years and almost eight months old. You must let her be taught Italian as soon as she can be taught any language but her own, and pray let her be musical, that is if She has a turn that way. I presume that Italian being a language of mine, will not prevent you from recollecting my request at the proper time.

I am
Bologna. August 31st.

This letter was written as far back as July 20th at Ravenna, but I delayed putting it in the post till my return here which will account for the interval between the date and the arrival of the letter, if it arrives. Pray state to Augusta that you have received it, on account of the inclosures. I want no other answer. I should like to have a picture of Miss Byron, when she can conveniently sit to Holmes or any other painter. Addio.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Second sheet of a letter (the first sheet of which is
destroyed—towards Sept. 10 1819.)
. . . . .

Pray tell Waite to take a post-chaise; for if our Dentist follows our Barber, there will be ne’er a tooth or hair left which people can depend upon for a half year’s engagement.

I am truly sorry for Blake, but as you observe with great truth and novelty “we are none of us immortal.” It were to be wished however that Coachmen did not help people over the Styx—that used to be watermen’s work and fare.—

You say nothing in favour of my return to England.—Very well—I will stay where I am—and you will never see me more.

[A portion of the paper on which the next passage is written is here cut out by Mrs. Leigh.—Ed.]

Yrs ever


I sent Lady Byron the other day a letter—enclosing some letters from Germany to me concerning her chiefly, and which the writers wished her to have. Ask her by letter if she has received that letter. I want no answer but a mere acknowledgment to you or to Mr Murray of the arrival of my letter.

I want also a picture of Ada—and my miniature (by Holmes) of you. Address to Venice as usual. Allegra is here with me, in good health & very amiable & pretty, at least thought so. She is English, but speaks nothing but Venetian. “Bon di, papa” &c &c she is very droll, and has a good deal of the Byron—can’t articulate the letter r at all—frowns and pouts quite in our way—blue eyes—light hair growing darker daily—and a dimple in her chin—a scowl on the brow—white skin—sweet voice
—and a particular liking of Music—and of her own way in every thing—is not that B. all over?

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Venice. Novr 28th 1819.

Yours of the 11th came to-day—many thanks. I may be wrong, and right or wrong, have lived long enough not to defend opinions; but my doubts of the funds were Douglas Kinnaird’s, who also told me that at the investment Lady B. or her agents had demurred. I know nothing of England but through Douglas and Hobhouse, who are alarming reformers, and the Paris papers which are full of bank perplexities. The Stake concerns you and your children who are in part my heirs, and Lady B and her child who have a jointure and all that to come out of it. She may do as she pleases—I merely suggest—it is all your affair as much as mine. Since I wrote to you last I have had with all my household & family a sharp tertian fever. I have got well but Allegra is still laid up though convalescent; and her nurse—and half my ragamuffins—Gondoliers, Nurses—cook—footmen &c I cured myself without bark, but all the others are taking it like trees. I have also had another hot crater, in the shape of a scene with Count Guiccioli who quarrelled with his wife, who refused to go back to him, and wanted to stay with me—and elope—and be as good as married. At last they made it up—but there was a dreadful scene; if I had not loved her better than myself, I could not have resisted her wish but at thirty one years, as I have, and such years as they have been—you may be sure—knowing the world that I would rather sacrifice myself ten times over—than the girl, who did not know the extent of the step she was so eager to take. He behaved well enough, saying “take your lover or retain me—but you shan’t have both,” the lady would have taken her lover as in duty bound—not to do—but on representing to her the
destruction it would bring on her family (five unmarried sisters) and all the probable consequences—she had the reluctant good grace to acquiesce and return with him to Ravenna. But this business has rendered Italy hateful to me, and as I left England on account of my own wife, I leave Italy because of another’s. You need not be frightened—there was no fighting—nobody fights here—they sometimes assassinate, but generally by proxy—and as to intrigue, it is the only employment; but elopements and separations are still more serious than even with us being so uncommon, and indeed needless; as excepting an occasionally jealous old gentleman—every body lets their spouses have a man or two—provided he be taken with decency. But the
Guiccioli was romantic and had read “Corinna”—in short she was a kind of Italian Caroline Lamb—but very pretty and gentle, at least to me; for I never knew so docile a creature as far as we lived together, except that she had a great desire to leave her husband who is sixty years old—and not pleasant. There was the deuce—for her father’s family (a very noble one of Ravenna), were furious against the husband—(not against me) for his unreasonable ways. You must not dislike her, for she was a great admirer of you, and used to collect and seal up all your letters to me as they came that they might not be lost or mixed with other papers; and she was a very amiable and accomplished woman, with however some of the drawbacks of the Italian character now corrupted for ages.

All this—and my fever—have made me low and ill; but the moment Allegra is better we shall set off over the Tyrolese Alps, and find our way to England as we can, to the great solace of Mr Fletcher, who may perhaps find his family not less increased than his fortune during his absence. I cannot fix any day for departure or arrival—so much depending on circumstances—but we are to be in voyage as soon as it can be undertaken with safety to the child’s health. As to the Countess G. if I had been single and could have married her by getting
her divorced, she would probably have been of the party; but this being out of the question—though she was as “all for love or the world well lost”—I, who know what “love” and “the world” both are, persuaded her to keep her station in society.

Pray let Ada’s picture be portable as I am likely to see more of the portrait than of the original. Excuse this scrawl. Think that within this month I have had a fever—an Italian husband and wife quarrelling;—a sick family—and the preparation for a December journey over the mountains of the Tyrol all brewing at once in my cauldron.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Venice. Decr 4th 1819

The enclosed letter is from Douglas Kinnaird. You can send it to Ly B & hear what she says. If they—that is the trustees—approve, I can have no objection. I wish you too to express your own opinion—as, in case of my not marrying again & having a son—you & yours must eventually be my heirs according to my Will, made 5 years ago, since the marriage.

You need not answer to this place, as I expect to be in or near England by the new year. We propose setting out in a few days.

I wrote to you a long letter about ten days ago
explaining why &c &c I think of leaving Italy so soon. If you address a line to Calais it will I trust be met by yrs ever

most affct

[In a letter dated Dec. 23rd, printed in “Letters and Journals,” Byron explained that he had postponed this journey.—Ed.]

Lord Byron to Lady Byron.
Ravenna. Decr. 31st 1819.

Anything—like or unlike—copy or original will be welcome, I can make no comparison, and find no fault, it is enough for me to have something to remind me of what is yours and mine, and which, whatever may be mine, will I hope be yours while you breathe. It is my wish to give you as little further trouble as can be helped, the time and the mode of sending the picture you can choose; I have been taught waiting if not patience. The wretchedness of the past should be sufficient for you and me without adding wittingly to the future more bitterness than that of which time and eternity are pregnant. While we do not approximate we may be gentle, and feel at a distance what we once felt without mutual or self-reproach. This time five years (the fault is not mine but of Augusta’s letter 10th Decr, which arrived to-day) I was on my way to our funeral marriage. I hardly thought then that your bridegroom as an exile would one day address you as a stranger; and that Lady and Lord Byron would become byewords of division. This time four years I suspected it as little. I speak to you from another country, and as it were from another world, for this city of Italy is out of the track of armies and travellers, and is more of the old time. That I think of you is but too obvious, for three hours have not passed, since in society where I ought not to think of you, though Italian customs and Italian, perhaps even English, passions attach more importance and duty to
such liaisons than to any nuptial engagement, the principal person concerned said to me—“tu pensi di tua moglie”—it was so right a conjecture that I started and answered why do you think so? The answer was—“because you are so serious—and she is the woman whom I believe tu ami piu ed ami sempre”—If this had been said in a moment of anger or of playfulness, I should have thought it the consequence of ill humour or curiosity, but it was said without any such prologue, in a time of indifferent things and much good company, Countesses and Marchionesses and all the noble blood of the descendants of
Guido di Polenta’s—cotemporaries with names eloquent of the middle ages.

I was nearly on the point of setting out for England in November, but a fever the epidemic of the Season stopped me with other reasons; Augusta can tell you all about me and mine if you think either worth the enquiry. But the object of my writing is to come.

It is this—I saw Moore three months ago and gave to his care a long Memoir written up to the Summer of 1816, of my life which I had been writing since I left England. It will not be published till after my death, and in fact it is a “Memoir” and not “confessions.” I have omitted the most important and decisive events and passions of my existence not to compromise others. But it is not so with the part you occupy, which is long and minute, and I could wish you to see, read and mark any part or parts that do not appear to coincide with the truth. The truth I have always stated—but there are two ways of looking at it—and your way may not be mine. I have never revised the papers since they were written. You may read them and mark what you please. I wish you (to) know what I think and say of you and yours. You will find nothing to flatter you, nothing to lead you to the most remote supposition that we could ever have been, or be happy together. But I do not choose to give to another generation statements which we cannot arise from the dust to prove or disprove—without letting you see fairly and fully what I look
upon you to have been, and what I depict you as being. If seeing this, you can detect what is false, or answer what is charged, do so—your mark shall not be erased.

You will perhaps say why write my life? Alas!—I say so too, but they who have traduced it and blasted it, and branded me, should know—that it is they, and not I—are the cause. It is no great pleasure to have lived, and less to live over again the details of existence, but the last becomes sometimes a necessity and even a duty.

If you choose to see this you may, if you do not—you have at least had the option.

January 1st.

[Part of the above letter is printed in Chap. V., pp. 101-2.—Ed.]

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Ravenna. August 19th 1820.

I always loved you better than any earthly existence, and I always shall unless I go mad. And if I did not so love you—still I would not persecute or oppress any one wittingly—especially for debts, of which I know the agony by experience. Of Colonel Leigh’s bond, I really have forgotten all particulars, except that it was not of my wishing. And I never would nor ever will be pressed into the Gang of his creditors. I would not take the money if he had it. You may judge if I would dun him having it not — —

Whatever measure I can take for his extrication will be taken. Only tell me how—for I am ignorant, and far away. Who does and who can accuse you of “interested views”? I think people must have gone into Bedlam such things appear to me so very incomprehensible. Pray explain

yors ever
& truly
Fragment of a Letter from Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh, apparently 1820, from a half-burnt sheet. The remainder is missing.
. . . . .

Hobhouse cares about as much for the Queen as he does for St. Paul’s. One ought to be glad however of anything which makes either of them go to Church. I am also delighted to see you grown so moral. It is edifying. Pray write, and believe me ever dearest A,

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Ravenna. 9bre 18th 1820

You will I hope have received a discreetly long letter from me—not long ago,—Murray has just written that Waite—is dead—poor fellow—he and Blake—both deceased—what is to become of our hair & teeth.—The hair is less to be minded—any body can cut hair—though not so well—but the mouth is a still more serious concern.——

Has he no Successor?—pray tell me the next best—for what am I to do for brushes & powder? And then the Children—only think—what will become of their jaws? Such men ought to be immortal—& not your stupid heroes—orators & poets.——

I am really so sorry—that I can’t think of anything else just now.—Besides I liked him with all his Coxcombry.——

Let me know what we are all to do,—& to whom we can have recourse without damage for our cleaning—scaling & powder.—

How do you get on with your affairs?—and how does every body get on.——

How is all your rabbit-warren of a family? I gave you an account of mine by last letter.—The Child Allegra is well—but the Monkey has got a cough—and the tame
Crow has lately suffered from the head ache.
Fletcher—has been bled for a Stitch—& looks flourishing again——

Pray write—excuse this short scrawl—
yours ever


Recollect about Waite’s Successor—why he was only married the other day—& now I don’t wonder so much that the poor man died of it.——

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Ravenna. 10bre 21st 1820.

Inform Lady B. that I am obliged by her readiness to have Ada taught Music and Italian, according to my wish (when she arrives at the proper period) and that in return I will give her as little trouble as can be avoided upon the subject of her education, tutelage, and guardianship. A Girl is in all cases better with the mother, unless there is some moral objection, and I shall not allow my own private feelings to interfere with what is for the advantage of the Child. She may bring her up in her own way; I am so sensible that a man ought to have nothing to do with such matters, that I shall in another year, either put Allegra (my natural daughter) into a Convent, or send or bring her to England, to put her in some good way of instruction. Tell Lady B. that I have written to her two letters within these three or four months. I do not say this because I desire an answer, for I have no such expectation, but simply that She may know that they have been sent, as the Italian post in these times is always treacherous and sometimes tyrannical enough to suppress letters. Will you for the same reason inform Murray that for six weeks I have had no letters, although for fifty reasons he ought to have written. Either the Post plays false or he is a shabby fellow.

The State of things here is what cannot be described. Not ten days ago the Commandant of the troops was
assasinated at my door, and died as he was being carried into my apartments; he lay on
Fletcher’s bed a corpse for eighteen hours, before the Government ventured to remove him. He was shot in walking home to his barrack at 8 in the Evening. All this is little to what will be—if there is a Neapolitan war. The Italians are right however, they want liberty, and if it is not given, they must take it. What you say of the Queen is of no consequence, it is the state of things which is shewn that imports. I have written and written to Lady B. to get us out of the funds—will she wait till they go? I know more of those things than you or she do, both at home and abroad; and those who live will see strange things.

[Torn off here.]
Lord Byron to Lady Byron.
Ra. January 11th 1821.

I have just heard from Mr. Kinnaird that (through the jugglery of Hanson) Mr. Bland (with the advice of Counsel) has refused to consent to the Irish loan on mortgage, to Lord Blessington. As you of course did not do this intentionally, I shall not upbraid you or yours, though the connection has proved so unfortunate a one for us all, to the ruin of my fame, of my peace, and the hampering of my fortune. I suppose that the trustees will not object to an English Security—if it can be found—though the terms may necessarily be less advantageous. I had, God knows, unpleasant things enough to contend with just now, without this addition. I presume that you were aware that the Rochdale Cause also was lost last Summer. However it is appealed upon, but with no great hopes on my part. The State of things here, you will have seen, if you have received my two letters of last month. But the grand consolation is that all things must end, whether they mend or no.

yrs. ever
Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Ravenna. June 22d. 1821.

What was I to write about? I live in a different world. You knew from others that I was in tolerable plight, and all that. However write I will since you desire it. I have put my daughter in a convent for the present to begin her accomplishments by reading, to which she had a learned aversion, but the arrangement is merely temporary till I can settle some plan for her; if I return to England, it is likely that she will accompany me—if not—I sometimes think of Switzerland, and sometimes of the Italian Conventual education; I shall hear both sides (for I have Swiss Friends—through Mr. Hoppner the Consul General, he is connected by marriage with that country) and choose what seems most rational. My menagerie—(which you enquire after) has had some vacancies by the elopement of one cat, the decease of two monkies and a crow, by indigestion—but it is still a flourishing and somewhat obstreperous establishment.

You may suppose that I was sufficiently provoked by Elliston’s behaviour, the more so as the foreign Journals, the Austrian ones at least (who detest me for my politics) had misrepresented the whole thing. The moment I knew the real facts from England, I made these Italical
Gentry contradict themselves and tell the truth—the former they are used to—the latter was a sad trial to them, but they did it, however, by dint of
Mr. Hoppner’s and my own remonstrances.

Tell Murray that I enclosed him a month ago (on the 2d.) another play, which I presume that he has received (as I ensured it at the post Office) you must help him to decypher it, for I sent the only copy, and you can better make out my griffonnage; tell him it must be printed (aye and published too) immediately, and copied out, for I do not choose to have only that one copy.

Will you for the hundredth time apply to Lady B. about the funds, they are now high, and I could sell out to a great advantage. Don’t forget this, that cursed connection crosses at every turn my fortunes, my feelings and my fame. I had no wish to nourish my detestation of her and her family, but they pursue, like an Evil Genius. I send you an Elegy upon Lady Noel’s recovery—(made too [here about fourteen lines of the autograph are cut off]

the parish register—I will reserve my tears for the demise of Lady Noel, but the old—will live forever because she is so amiable and useful.

Yours ever & [illegible.—Ed.]


Let me know about Holmes.1 Oh La!—is he as great a mountebank as ever?

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Oct.r 5th 1821.—

Has there been nothing to make it grey? to be sure the years have not. Your parcel will not find me here—I am going to Pisa, for the winter. The late political troubles here have occasioned the exile of all my friends & connections, & I am going there to join them. You know or you do not know that Madame La Comtesse G. was separated from her husband last year (on account of P.P. Clerk of this parish1), that the Pope decided in her favor & gave her a separate maintenance & that we lived very quietly & decently—she at her father’s (as the Pope decided) and I at home—till this Summer. When her father was exiled, she was obliged either to accompany him or retire into a Convent—such being the terms of His Holiness’s deed of divorcement. They went to Pisa by my recommendation & there I go to join them.

So there’s a romance for you. I assure you it was not my wish nor fault altogether. Her husband was old—rich—& must have left her a large jointure in a few years; but he was jealous, & insisted &.c, & she like all the rest would have her own way. You know that all my loves go crazy, and make scenes—and so—“She is the sixteenth Mrs. Shuffleton.” Being very young—very

1 See note, p. 283.

romantic—and odd—and being contradicted by her husband besides, & being of a country where morals are no better than in England, (though elopements and divorces are rare—and this made an uncommon noise—the first that had occurred at Ravenna for two hundred years—that is in a public way with appeals to the Pope &c) you are not to wonder much at it; she being too a beauty & the great Belle of the four Legations, and married not quite a year (at our first acquaintance) to a man forty years older than herself who had had two wives already & a little suspected of having poisoned his first.

We have been living hitherto decently & quietly. These things here do not exclude a woman from all society as in yr hypocritical country. It is very odd that all my fairs are such romantic people; and always daggering or divorcing—or making scenes.

But this is “positively the last time of performance” (as the playbills say), or of my getting into such scrapes for the future. Indeed—I have had my share. But this is a finisher; for you know when a woman is separated from her husband for her Amant, he is bound both by honour (and inclination at least I am), to live with her all his days; as long as there is no misconduct.

So you see that I have closed as papa begun, and you will probably never see me again as long as you live. Indeed you don’t deserve it—for having behaved so coldly—when I was ready to have sacrificed every thing for you—and after [you had | having] taken the farther always1

It is nearly three years that this “liaison” has lasted. I was dreadfully in love—and she blindly so—for she has sacrificed every thing to this headlong passion. That comes of being romantic. I can say that, without being so furiously in love as at first, I am more attached to her than I thought it possible to be to any woman

1 The words in italics are erased, (apparently not by the writer) and partly illegible. “You” is underlined.

after three years—(except one & who was she can you guess?)1

and have not the least wish nor prospect of separation from her. She herself, (and it is now a year since her separation, a year too of all kinds of vicissitudes &c) is still more decided. Of course the step was a decisive one. If Lady B. would but please to die, and the Countess G.’s husband (for Catholics can’t marry though divorced), we should probably have to marry—though I would rather not—thinking it the way to hate each other—for all people whatsoever.

However you need not calculate upon seeing me again in a hurry, if ever. How have you sent the parcel, and how am I to receive it at Pisa? I am anxious about the Seal—not about Hodgson’s nonsense. What is the fool afraid of the post for? it is the safest—the only safe conveyance. They never meddle but with political packets.


P.S. You ought to be a great admirer of the future Lady B. for three reasons, 1stly She is a grand patroness of the present Lady B. and always says “that she has no doubt that” she was exceedingly ill-used by me—2ndly She is an admirer of yours; and I have had great difficulty in keeping her from writing to you eleven pages, (for she is a grand Scribe), and 3rdly she having read “Don Juan” in a French translation—made me promise to write no more of it, declaring that it was abominable &c &c that Donna Inez was2 meant for Lady B. & in short made me vow not to continue it—(this occurred lately) & since the last cantos were sent to England last year). Is this not altogether odd enough? She has a good deal of us too. I mean that turn for ridicule like Aunt Sophy and you and I & all the B’s Desire Georgiana to write me a letter I suppose she can by this time.

1 Erased (apparently not by the writer) and hardly legible.

2 Underlined twice.


Opened by me—and the Seal taken off—so—don’t accuse the post-office without cause

B—that’s a sign—a written one where the wax was.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Pisa. March 4th 1822.

I write two words to acknowledge your letter. I certainly felt a good deal surprized that you did not write immediately to announce that event,1 but it was probably for some good nursery reason, that you did not. I regret the pain which the privation must occasion to Sir R. N. and to Ly B., but I shall not pretend to any violent grief for one with whom my acquaintance was neither long nor agreeable. Still I bear her memory no malice. I am a little disappointed that Georgy should not write, it is proper that my nephews and nieces should cultivate some acquaintance with me, otherwise the interest I feel for them may diminish unavoidably from total estrangement. It has ever been my object (if I live long enough) to provide as far as I can for your children, as my daughter by Ly. B is rich enough already, and my natural daughter also will have a decent provision. I shall try what I can to save or accumulate some funds for this purpose (if Fortune be favourable) and should therefore like to hear now and then from my “residee legatoos” as I am not likely to see much of them for the present. If it should seem odd that I do nor prefer my own family, I think there are some reasons which will suggest themselves to you however, as it is quite impossible that any thing which reminds me of that unhappy connection with Ly B’s family can excite the same unmixed feeling which exists where there are no divisions.

yrs ever & truly
Noel Byron2

1 Death of Lady Noel.

2 Byron was now legally bound to assume the name of Noel, his wife having inherited the Noel estates from her mother.

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Genoa. Octr. 12th 1822.

My date will inform you that I am an hundred miles or better nearer to you than I was. Address to Genoa where we all are for the present—i.e. The family of Count Gamba, who left Ravenna in 1821 with me on account of the political troubles, together with myself &c. &c. &c.

Lady B. has done a very acceptable thing to me—and I presume to you—in sending you the game, it is the first thing of the kind too for these seven years, for what with trustees, lawyers, bankers, and arbitrators, both sides have hitherto proceeded as they did in the feudal times, when people used to shake hands with iron gauntlets on through a hole in the door, after being searched for concealed arms, by way of ascertaining the sincerity of their politeness. You cannot conceive how much things harass me, and provoke me into expressions which I momentarily feel; it appears to me that persons who are in our peculiar situation, and can never see each other as long as they live again, should at least be courteous in their distance, because they never can come in contact. She has lately had a chance of having the estate to herself, for I was for four days confined to my bed, in “the worst inn’s worst room” at Lerici, on my way here, with a very painful attack of bile and rheumatism and I know not what besides—no physician but a young Italian in no great practice—however I got over it, and on my journey further got well again. The English Physician here says I am bilious, and must take the “blue pill” &c. I have no objection to take all the colours of the rainbow if they can make them into a prescription.

I saw Mr. Hobhouse at Pisa before I left it, he is gone to Rome I believe. He told me that the Revd Thomas Noel (who married us) had requested him to ask me for the promise (in case of the incumbent’s demise) of some
living or other at Kirkby Mallory. I wish you would ask
Lady B. about it, for in the first place I know nothing of any living, and in the next place, to this hour I do not know whether the estate is in her, or in me, or in the trustees, or whether the living is in her gift, or mine, or anybody’s or nobody’s. I greatly fear by what I hear on those subjects that we shall have all to go into Chancery which—Heaven knows—is but a prospect of no pleasing augurey. About the living you may tell her that I (if I have a voice in the matter) can have no views or preferences, that as T. Noel is the son of Ld. W. and, poor fellow, in the awkward situation of seeing what should have been his own in the possession of others, had his father observed the rights of the Church, it is but fair that the Church should give him some portions of what should have been his rights. If therefore he can obtain Lady B’s promise, I will not withhold mine, but in any case (supposing that the whole right was vested in me) I should not put myself in opposition to her, if she had any other views upon the subject. But I know little or nothing of the matter.

Address to Genoa—yrs ever & truly

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
Genoa. Jy 27th 1823.

My dearest Augusta—Your informant was as usual in error. Do not believe all the lies you may hear. Hobhouse can tell you that I have not lost any of my teeth hitherto, since I was 12 years old, and had a back one taken out by Dumergue to make room for others growing, and so far from being fatter—at present I am much thinner than when I left England, when I was not very stout—the latter you will regret the former you will be glad to hear. Hobhouse can tell you all particulars, though I am much reduced since he saw me, and more than you would like. I write to you these few lines in haste, perhaps we may meet in Spring, either here, or in
England. Hobhouse says your coming out would be the best thing which you could do, for yourself and me too—ever yrs most affectly

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
(Genoa) June 23d 1823.

Tell Lady B. that she did quite right—and I am glad that she did so without hesitation. I do not know where the law lies (it lies always I believe) but I never would have promised the living to any one without her approbation, but have rather left the nomination to herself.

I sail for Greece in about a fortnight, address to Genoa—as usual—letters will be forwarded, yrs ever

Lord Byron to the Hon. Mrs. Leigh.
October 8, 1823.

I wish you could obtain from Lady B some account of Ada’s disposition, habits, studies, moral tendencies, and temper, as well as of her personal appearance, for except from the miniature drawn five years ago (and she is now double that age nearly) I have no idea of even her aspect. When I am advised on these points, I can form some notion of her character, and what way her dispositions or indispositions ought to be treated, and though I will never interfere with or thwart her mother, yet I may perhaps be permitted to suggest, as she (Lady B.) is not obliged to follow my notions unless she likes—which is not very likely. Is the girl imaginative? At her present age I have an idea that I had many
feelings and notions which people would not believe if I stated them now, and therefore I may as well keep them to myself. Is she social or solitary, taciturn or talkative, fond of reading or otherwise, and what is her tic?—I mean her foible—is she passionate? I hope that the Gods have made her any thing save poetical—it is enough to have one such fool in a family.