LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Astarte: a Fragment of Truth
Lady Byron, “Statement,” 14 March 1816

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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[Thursday March 14 1816]3

During the year that Lady Byron lived under the same roof with Lord B: certain circumstances occurred & some intimations were made which excited a suspicion in Lady B’s mind that an improper connection had at one time & might even still subsist between Lord B: and Mrs L: The causes however of this suspicion did not amount to proof & Lady Byron did not consider herself justified in acting upon these suspicions by immediately quitting Lord B’s house for the following reasons.—1st & principally because the causes of suspicion, tho’ they made a strong impression upon her mind, did not amount to positive proof, & Lady B: considered, that whilst a possibility of innocence existed, every principle of duty & humanity forbad her to act, as if Mrs L: was actually guilty, more especially as any intimation of so heinous crime even if not distinctly proved, must have seriously affected Mrs L’s character & happiness

2d. Lady B: had it not in her power to pursue a middle course; it was utterly impossible for her to remove Mrs L from the society & roof of Lord B: except by a direct accusation.

1 Colonel Doyle to Lady Byron, July 9th and July 18th, 1816.

2 The packet was sealed.

3 The writing that follows is in Dr. Lushington’s hand.


3rdly. Because Mrs L: had from her first acquaintance with Lady B: always manifested towards her the utmost kindness & attention endeavouring as far as laid in her power to mitigate the violence and cruelty of Lord B:

4th. Because Mrs L: at times exhibited signs of a deep remorse; at least so Lady B: interpreted them to be, tho’ She does not mean to aver that the feelings Mrs L: then shewed were signs of remorse for the commission of the crime alluded to or any other of so dark a description.

& lastly—Because Lady B: conceived it possible that the crime, if committed might not only be deeply repented of, but never have been perpetrated since her marriage with Lord B:

It was from these motives & strongly inclining to a charitable interpretation of all that passed that Lady B: never during her living with Lord B: intimated a suspicion of this nature.——

Since Lady B’s Separation from Lord B: the Report has become current in the World of such a connection having subsisted This report was not spread nor sanctioned by Lady B:—Mrs L’s character has however been to some extent affected thereby—Lady B: cannot divest her mind of the impressions before stated, but anxious to avoid all possibility of doing injury to Mrs L: & not by any conduct of her own to throw any suspicion upon Mrs L: & it being intimated that Mrs L:’s character can never be so effectually preserved as by a renewal of intercourse with Lady B: she does for the motives & reasons before mentioned consent to renew that intercourse—

Now this Statement is made in order to Justify Lady B: in the line of conduct she has now determined to adopt & in order to prevent all misconstruction of her motives in case Mrs L: should be proved hereafter to be guilty, and if any circumstances should compel or render it necessary for Lady B: to prefer the charge in order
that Lady B: may be at full liberty so to do without being prejudiced by her present conduct.

It is to be observed that this Paper does not contain nor pretend to contain any of the grounds which gave rise to the suspicion which has existed & still continues to exist in Lady B’s mind—

We whose names are hereunto subscribed are of opinion, that under all the circumstances above stated & also from our knowledge of what has passed respecting the conduct of all parties mentioned, that the line now adopted by Lady B: is strictly right and honourable, as well as just towards Mrs L: & Lady B: ought not whatever may hereafter occur be prejudiced thereby—.

Robt. John Wilmot
F. H. Doyle
Stephen Lushington
London—March 14. 1816 [Signed by each.]
[Written Addition by Lady Byron.]

The reasons above stated are the genuine reasons which actuated my conduct—

Anne Isabella Byron
[Attestations to Lady
Byron’s signature by
R. J. W. Mr Wilmot,
F. H. D. Col. Doyle and
S. L. Dr Lushington.]
March 14. 1816