LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Astarte: a Fragment of Truth
Lady Byron to Sir Francis Hastings Doyle, 29 January 1820

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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“I defer to Dr. Lushington’s opinion with respect to the danger of entering into a direct correspondence with Lord Byron—I will state my objections to the measure which he proposes to substitute

“1st. I think it is highly desirable that I should be able to produce to any one a copy of my declaration to Lord B— on this subject—If that declaration were contained in a letter to Mrs Leigh, I must, in showing it, either explain fully how she and I are circumstanced, or else inferences contrary to the truth would be drawn from the fact of my treating her thus confidentially.—

2ndly Supposing that objection could be obviated—Mrs L— is herself sufficiently alarmed about the consequences of his measures, but I have no reason to think that she can influence him.—I foresee from the
transmission of such a letter in substance as
Dr L’s first (which I believe she would transmit, if urged to do so—with her own comments), this consequence:—that, an unreserved disclosure from her to him being necessitated, they would combine together against me—he being actuated by revenge—she by fear—whereas, from her never having dared to inform him that she has already admitted his guilt to me with her own, they have hitherto been prevented from acting in concert—The transmission of the cursory observation suggested in Dr L’s note, and the equivalent of what I have said to her, would not in my opinion have any effect. Lord B— is not intimidated by terms so general. The addition which you suggest of the paragraph—‘Lord B— is probably by no means aware of the extent of the information of which I was possessed before our separation, nor of the additional proofs, as well as new facts, which have since come to my knowledge’—would render the communication more pointed (bringing it perhaps into the same case with the first) but I perceive objections to the clause underlined. For, my information previous to my separation having been derived either directly from Lord B— or from my observations on that part of his conduct which he exposed to my view—the expression ‘he is probably not aware’ would seem a contradiction, at least unless guarded by something to this effect—‘As the infatuation of pride may have blinded him to the conclusions which must inevitably be established by a long series of circumstantial evidences’—The same clause also appears objectionable to me as coinciding with the story of my having used clandestine means to obtain information—An invention doubtless designed to invalidate the force, or impair the respectability of my probable statements—on the same principle as he contrived to cast on Lady C L1—the suspicion of a forgery in order to destroy the effect of her evidence against him.—These insidious endeavours render it in my opinion the more necessary for me to have made my

1 [Lady Caroline Lamb.]

protest,—in terms of greater decision than I have yet employed, and in such a form as to be recorded,—before an attack is made upon the credibility of my testimony.—And in one case, which it is painful to me to calculate upon, such a declaration would be almost the sole, though inadequate proof of my conscious integrity—viz—If I were to survive him—for it would then be impossible for me to vindicate myself by accusation from the posthumous charges which could not, probably, be otherwise disproved.—

* * *

“I have to ask—would not such a communication to Lord B— from my father—authorised by me—answer the desired ends without being liable to the same objections as a letter from myself—

“The chief points in that communication to be—

“The information of my declining to peruse the MS—A representation of the injurious consequences of its circulation to Ada—and a declaration that I shall consider the existence of such a Memoir (avowedly destined for future publication) especially if it be circulated in MS—at present, as releasing me from even the shadow of an engagement to suppress the facts of my own experience, or the corroborating proofs of Lord B’s character & conduct—that reluctant as I have ever been to bring my domestic concerns before the public, and anxious as I have felt to save from ruin a near connection of his, I shall feel myself compelled by duties of primary importance, if he perseveres in accumulating injuries upon me, to make a disclosure of the past in the most authentic form.—

“The last sentence requires very great caution—& I have only given the substance.—This allusion to Mrs L— is not so likely as that which she might convey, to necessitate her acknowledgment to him. At the same time it would have equal force.—I do not conceive that such a communication would absolutely bind me at this time to publish my case, if he should, (relying on the
advantage of an intervening sea,) return an answer of defiance.—”