LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Astarte: a Fragment of Truth
Lady Byron to Theresa Villiers, 12 May 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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Kirkby. May 12. 1816.

My dear Mrs Villiers—I consider it as a very kind proof of your wish to do me justice that you desire to know my reasons, which I shall have real satisfaction in submitting to you—
It must be remembered that my Conviction was progressively formed, and not till lately fixed—and though my suspicion had been awakened very early, it was not at the period you allude to, sufficiently corroborated to have been made a principle of conduct without risking a cruel injury to one who professed herself most affectionately & disinterestedly devoted to my welfare. There was no medium—I must either have treated her as guilty or innocent—My Instinct too strongly dictated the former, but the evidence then rested chiefly on his words & manners, & her otherwise unaccountable assent & submission to both. If you regret that I did not attach more weight to my own wretched doubts, you will not dislike the feeling which rejected them as long as possible. Besides at the time of her return to Piccadilly, I conceived there was no danger to her from him, as his inclinations were most averse from her, & absorbed in another direction—and believing that the residence of any human being in the house would be the means of saving myself and my child, I had but her to look to, and was almost compelled to banish the ideas that would have deprived me of this last resource. Nevertheless before I allowed her to come, for she had many times offered it, I seriously urged her to reflect on the consequences that might ensue to herself. During her last visit my suspicions as to previous circumstances were most strongly corroborated—above all by her confessions & admissions when in a state of despair & distraction. They were of the most unequivocal nature possible, unless she had expressly named the subject of her remorse and horror. I have answered them in as pointed a manner—and have urged to her that everything was expiable by repentance, when she repeatedly said she had forfeited all hope of salvation—I must have had a heart of iron could I then have cast her off—No—she was only dearer to me, and I felt more bound to be the support of one whom I thought broken-hearted. I honor you—and love you for being her determined friend—it is the best privilege of an unblemished reputa-
tion to be kind to victims like her. Do not trouble yourself about her unjust language concerning me. If it had been my principal object to gain worldly opinion, you must be sensible that I should have acted differently throughout. Perhaps she does not feel towards me the anger she may think it necessary to show. You observe her omissions. It has appeared to me that all she has or has not said, has had so studied a reference to one consideration as to prove that it constantly occupied her thoughts.—Guilt has often betrayed itself by the endeavour to make out a good case—and I will venture to assert that her letters, if all produced together, would strongly tend to such an effect, by providing against it—When I tell you that
Ld. B. made two, and I believe three of the worst women in London his confidantes on this subject, even in detail—and even on paper—you will not wonder at the report—I have been the means of silencing its principal sources. . . .

Ever yours affectly.
A. I. B

I have written to thank Col. L—— for a letter apprizing me of the event1 which you of course have heard.