LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Astarte: a Fragment of Truth
Lord Byron to Augusta Leigh, 28 September 1819

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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Venice. Novr 28th 1819.
My dearest Augusta,—

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.


[The signature is as in letter of Sept. 21st, 1818.—Ed.]

P.S. I enclose her last letter to me by which you may judge for yourself—that it was a serious business—I have felt it such, but—it was my duty to do as I did as her husband offered to forgive everything if she would return with him to Ravenna and give up her liaison.

I will talk to you of my American scheme when I see you—