LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
‣ Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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During the visit to London mentioned in the last chapter, Byron wrote the ‘Hebrew Melodies,’ and early in the next year there appeared a critique by Hodgson, the humorous satire of which is amusingly characteristic of the critic. Censure conveyed in such kindly terms, and leavened by judicious appreciation of all that was really praiseworthy, could not fail to be received in a similar spirit to that which prompted it.


The critique commences by drawing attention to the change which had taken place since the days of Pope in the reception accorded to the productions of noble authors. The public were prejudiced against Lord Byron for more reasons than one. They were jealous of the unique example which he afforded of a combination of rank and talent; a large and influential section were indignant at his want of respect for the Prince Regent, whose ministers were, moreover, chagrined by their inability to answer the arguments of those brilliant speeches in which he had so ruthlessly attacked them. The critic ought, therefore, as he valued his reputation for loyalty and discernment, to have discovered in these Songs of Sion a great deal of lurking evil against Church and State; but finding it impossible to comply with these requirements, he prefers to proceed at once to impartial comments upon the poetry.

The ‘Hebrew Melodies’ consist of twenty-four short poems, which were written at the request, as the author tells us, of his friend, the Hon. D. Kinnaird, for a selection of Hebrew airs, and have been published with the music, arranged by Messrs. Braham & Nathan.

Great allowances are to be made for the trammels which a capricious time throws upon a writer un-
practised in this peculiar knack of versification: and there is a degree of unconstrained and graceful fluency requisite in words intended for music, a sort of free pencilling which is ill-suited to a deep and energetic expression of feeling—the characteristic charm of
Lord Byron’s poetry. Still, however, we ventured to expect—and in this expectation we have not been disappointed—that we should meet with much of that enchanting tenderness, that devotedness and chastity of feeling, and that high and deep pathos, which charmed us in the short poems at the end of ‘Childe Harold,’ in the common-places of the ‘Bride of Abydos,’ in the delightful song of Medora in the first canto of the ‘Corsair,’ and in the beautiful ‘Farewell,’ printed at the end of that poem.

Then follow some extracts, and the critique continues:—

In every one of these songs (with the exception, perhaps, of two) we find the traces of genius: a reflection, an image, a description, or an expression, indicative of the hand of the άνήρ ούχ ό τύχων. Many of them, however, it must be confessed, exhibit faults of carelessness, and with a very few we would rather have dispensed. . . . The vision
of Belshazzar is much the worst in the collection.

The opening lines,
The king was on his throne,
The satraps in the hall,
reminded us forcibly of the ballad of our infancy,
The king was in his parlour
Counting out his money, etc.
The eighth melody is worthy of its author. It is full of tenderness, and the thought at the conclusion is, we believe, quite new—
And thou—who tell’st me to forget.
Thy looks are wan—thine eyes are wet.
The following lines, too, are in the style of some of the best and most forcible passages in the ‘Corsair’ or ‘Lara’—
Sun of the sleepless! melancholy star! etc.
Lord Byron continue to write in this strain: it is natural to him, and it becomes him. Much, however, as we wish to excite him to longer and nobler efforts, we must have the pleasure of giving one or two more extracts from this book, which no inferior lyre could have sounded. It is scarcely
descending from the higher ground of Poetry, to write such lines as the following—
‘All is vanity,’ saith the preacher.
‘Fame, wisdom, love, and power were mine,’ etc.
The verses beginning, ‘When coldness wraps this suffering clay,’ are replete with feeling and vigour. Vigour indeed, that sine quâ non of poetry, and which covers a multitude of minor offences, breathes in every line we have ever read of this author’s production. The melody we have just mentioned, is highly characteristic of Lord B.’s muse. With his energy and peculiarity of thinking, it combines also some faults peculiarly his. It has all that tone of abstraction and obscurity which accompanies his development of very deep and very original ‘imaginings;’ not without some degree of carelessness for the labour he often occasions his unpractised readers; and a disregard of finish, which gives an apparent want of neatness to the most brilliant thoughts. But we beseech his Lordship not to imitate
Mr. Scott’s ungraceful and ungrammatical omission of the article, as he has done in the line
An age shall fleet like earthly year.
And we cannot help objecting to the expression, ‘a thing of eyes,’ as applied to the soul, or, indeed,
to anything but an ornamental paper kite. ‘Thing’ is a favourite word in the noble poet’s vocabulary: we have again, in the last stanza of the same melody, ‘a nameless and eternal thing,’ and we are told that it shall fly ‘away, away without a wing,’ which brings us back again to the paper kite.

But the stanza descriptive of the mind after death is sterling bullion, ‘Eternal, boundless, undecay’d,’ etc. It is no disparagement to this magnificent picture to say that it reminds us of Locke’s beautiful idea of angelic minds being endowed with capacities able to retain together and constantly set before them, as in one picture, ‘in one broad glance,’ all their past knowledge at once.

After more detailed criticism, the opinion is expressed, in conclusion,

That if the ‘Hebrew Melodies’ do not add much to their author’s fame, they assuredly will not detract from it, for that there is a tone diffused throughout them which no other living poet can impart.

That the marriage of Lord Byron, which took place on the 2nd January, 1815, did at first justify an anticipation of permanent happiness is proved by
several passages in the correspondence of that ‘sweet sister’ who knew and loved him so well; but that her fond and, perhaps, too sanguine hopes were not altogether divested of gloomy forebodings for the future is equally evident: and her anxious solicitations on the subject cannot fail to attract the sympathy and interest of those who peruse their heartfelt expression in the following letters.

Six Mile Bottom: December 15.

My dear Mr. Hodgson,—You could not have gratified me more than by giving me an opportunity of writing on my favourite subject to one so truly worthy of it as you are; indeed I have repeatedly wished of late that I could communicate with you, and should have ventured to do so by letter had I known your address. Most thankful do I feel that I have so much to say that will delight you. I have every reason to think that my beloved B. is very happy and comfortable. I hear constantly from him and his Rib. They are now at Seaham, and not inclined to return to Halnaby,1 because all the world were preparing to visit them there, and at S. they are free from this torment, no trifling

1 Sir Ralph Milbanke’s other place in Durham, where they passed the first month of their married life.

one in B.’s estimation, as you know. From my own observations on their epistles, and knowledge of B.’s disposition and ways, I really hope most confidently that all will turn out very happily. It appears to me that
Lady B. sets about making him happy quite in the right way. It is true I judge at a distance, and we generally hope as we wish; but I assure you I don’t conclude hastily on this subject, and will own to you, what I would not scarcely to any other person, that I had many fears and much anxiety founded upon many causes and circumstances of which I cannot write. Thank God! that they do not appear likely to be realised. In short, there seems to me to be but one drawback to all our felicity, and that, alas! is the disposal of dear Newstead, which I am afraid is irrevocably decreed. I received the fatal communication from Lady B. ten days ago, and will own to you that it was not only grief, but disappointment; for I had flattered myself such a sacrifice would not be made. From my representations she had said and urged all she could in favour of keeping it. Mr. Hobhouse the same, and I believe (but I can’t exactly explain to you particularly how and about it) that he was deputed to make inquiries and researches, and I know that he wrote to B. suggesting the propriety and ex-
pediency of at least delaying the sale. This most excellent advice created so much disturbance in B.’s mind, that Lady B. wrote me word ‘He had such a fit of vexation he could not appear at dinner, or leave his room.’
Claughton has since that conceded the £5,000 in dispute, and I fear this would finally end all difficulties. B.’s spirits had improved at the prospect of a release from the embarrassments which interfered so much with his comfort, and I suppose I ought to be satisfied with this. But for the life of me, dear Mr. H., I cannot, never shall while I breathe, I’m thoroughly convinced, feel reconciled to the loss of that sacred, revered Abbey. The affliction it causes me is severely aggravated by the conviction that it might by a little patience, forbearance, and temporary prudence have been unnecessary, and that my darling brother will some day lament this step, and perhaps others besides him. I am determined to think it lost, though the thought makes me more melancholy than, perhaps, the loss of an inanimate object ought to do; and I have determined henceforward to hold my peace to others, for if it is really gone lamentations can do no good. At the same time, I cannot always check a sort of inward foreboding that it will not go. To be sure, this is
perfectly irrational, but so it is, and I can only say that I don’t encourage such superstitions. Anybody but you would be quite tired of my bewailings on this sad subject, but I’m sure you feel on it as much like me as anyone can who is not a Byron, and therefore I will not apologise. May the future bring peace and comfort to my dearest B.! that is always one of my first wishes; and I’m convinced it is my duty to endeavour to be resigned to the loss of this dear Abbey from our family, as well as all other griefs which are sent by Him who knows what is good for us. It is said that
Lord P.’s 1 sanity is likely to be established, which I’m glad of for the sake of his poor wife; but I can’t help wishing my brother’s concerns out of her father’s hands for very powerful reasons.

I do not know what are B.’s plans. Lady B. says nothing can be decided upon till their affairs are in some degree arranged. They have been anxious to procure a temporary habitation in my neighbourhood, which would be convenient to him and delightful to me, if his presence is required in Town upon this sad Newstead business. But I’m sorry to say I cannot hear of any likely to suit

1 Lord Portsmouth, who had recently married a daughter of Lord Byron’s agent and solicitor, Mr. Hanson.

them; and our house is so very small, I could scarcely contrive to take them in. Lady B. is extremely kind to me, for which I am most grateful, and to my dearest B., for I am well aware how much I am indebted to his partiality and affection for her good opinion. I will not give up the hope of seeing them in their way to Town, whenever they do go, as for a few nights they would, perhaps, tolerate the innumerable inconveniences attending the best arrangement I could make for them. Before I quit the B. subject, I must ask you a question which has just occurred to me. Did you ever hear that Landed Property, the gift of the Crown, could not be sold? I have, but can scarcely believe it, because I should think
Mr. Claughton would be aware of such a thing in the case of N. A thousand thanks for your kind inquiries. My babes are all quite well; Medora more beautiful than ever. Col. L. is at present suffering from a very bad cough, which I’m sorry to add he has had a great deal too long. He desires his best compliments and regards to you.

Now, dear Mr. H., I have, I fear, almost tired you, at least I should fear it on any other subject. I wish you had told me a great deal more of you and yours; pray do this whenever your pen has not
better employment, for I am truly interested in your happiness. Have you any pupils, or any more, for I think you had one when last I heard from you? I hope your solitude will cease to be solitary sooner than you imagine. Excuse this tedious long letter, and

Believe me,
Ever very truly yours,
A. L.

P.S.—Lady B. writes me word she never saw her father and mother so happy: that she believes the latter would go to the bottom of the sea herself to find fish for B.’s dinner, that he (B.) owns at last that he is very happy and comfortable at Seaham, though he had pre-determined to be very miserable. In some of her letters she mentions his health not being very good, though he seldom complains, but say’s both that and his spirits have been improved by some daily walks she had prevailed on him to take; and attributes much of his languor in ye morning and feverish feels at night to his long fasts, succeeded by too hearty meals for any weak and empty stomach to bear at one time, waking by night and sleeping by day. I flatter myself her influence will prevail over these bad habits. They had been playing the fool one evening, ‘old and
young.’ B. dressed in
Lady M.’s long-haired wig (snatched from her head for the purpose), his dressing-gown on, turned wrong-side out; Lady B. in his travelling-cap and long cloak, with whiskers and mustachios. What a long P.S.!

Six Mile Bottom: Saturday, March 18.

Dear Mr. Hodgson,—I would not have delayed answering your letter even one post, but with the hope of procuring you a more welcome reply than mine can possibly be. I flatter myself, however, that before this letter comes to an end you will pronounce me a more agreeable correspondent than you expected to find me, for I’ve nothing but agreeables to communicate, on a subject of the greatest interest to you as well as to me. B. and Lady B. arrived here last Sunday, on their way from the North to London, where they have taken a very good house of the Duke of Devonshire in Piccadilly. I hope they will stay some days longer with me, and shall regret their departure, whenever it takes place, as much as I now delight in their society. B. is looking particularly well, and of Lady B. I scarcely know how to write, for I have a sad trick of being struck dumb when I am most happy and pleased. The expectations I had formed
could not be exceeded, but at least they are fully answered. I think I never saw or heard or read of a more perfect being in mortal mould than she appears to be, and scarcely dared flatter myself such a one would fall to the lot of my dear B. He seems quite sensible of her value, and as happy as the present alarming state of public and the tormenting uncertainties of his own private affairs will admit of. Poor Newstead is still unsold, and it seems doubtful whether
Claughton can complete the purchase. Now, dear Mr. H., for the subject of your letter,1 which distresses me only as it appears so distressing to you. I can assure you, with the utmost truth, that I do not even see the shadow of a foundation for your apprehensions. The night before your letter arrived, B. was talking of you in the most friendly and affectionate of terms, describing you in the highest possible of praise to Lady B., talking over our sèjour at Hastings, and, among other things, I have treasured the following as most satisfactory to you. He said that in all the years he had been acquainted with you he never had had a moment’s disagreement with you: ‘I have quarrelled with Hobhouse, with everybody but

1 Hodgson had expressed anxiety lest he should in some manner have offended Byron, who had not written to him for some months.

Hodgson,’ were his own words. When I received your letter I showed it to him and Lady B. He first exclaimed, ‘Oh dear! do tell him I am married and cannot write. I have not answered a single letter since that event;’ and begged I would tell you that he was not, could not be angry. Indeed I would not deceive you on this point, and I can well enter into your fears, they are too like my own whenever he is unusually silent to me. Lady B. has done her best to procure you a few lines of consolation from himself, but you know him too well to expect much from persuasion or entreaty till the lazy fit is over. I have just asked him for a message, and am desired to tell you he does not write because he is ‘lazy and has got a wife.’ Many thanks for your kind inquiries. My bairns are well, and delighted at being able to scream ‘Oh, Byron!’ again, and approve much of their new aunt. I am not quite sure that
Georgiana is not a little jealous of this formidable rival in B.’s affections. Adieu, dear Mr. H.! this is a long epistle, but you will forgive me, and

Believe me,
Most sincerely and truly yours,
Augusta Leigh.

Col. L. is in the North.

Six Mile Bottom: March 31.

Dear Mr. Hodgson,—Byron and Lady B. left me on Tuesday for London. I will forward your letter to him by this post. I am a little puzzled how to answer your queries about Mr. H., but I will tell you all I know, which is that by Mr. Hobhouse’s advice, his affairs and Mr. Hanson’s accounts are to be put into the hands of another professional man, whose name at this moment I forget. Mr. H. has not yet delivered up his accounts, consequently all remains in uncertainty. I think B. and Lady B. both suspect all has not been right, but, of course, judgment must be suspended till proof is obtained. There are circumstances strongly against Mr. H.

B. will probably write to you immediately. He talked of it while here after I received your last letter; which was the cause of my being silent. I was well aware one word from him would do more towards quieting your alarms than pages from me. I am sorry to say his nerves and spirits are very far from what I wish them, but don’t speak of this to him on any account. I think the uncomfortable state of his affairs is the cause; at least, I can discern no other. He has every outward blessing this world can bestow. I trust that the Almighty will be graciously pleased to grant him those
inward feelings of peace and calm which are now unfortunately wanting. This is a subject which I cannot dwell upon, but in which I feel and have felt all you express. I think
Lady B. very judiciously abstains from pressing the consideration of it upon him at the present moment. In short, the more I see of her the more I love and esteem her, and feel how grateful I am and ought to be for the blessing of such a wife for my dear, darling B.

You may be perfectly easy about B.’s friendship towards you. I am positive there is not a shadow of a cause for fidget. This I could better explain were you here at this moment, but do at least believe that I would not deceive you on this subject—the last on which I could bear to be deceived (even from motives of kindness) myself. When you have leisure write to me, and do tell me all the good you can of yourself and your prospects, and be assured that they will ever be most interesting to

Yours very truly and sincerely,
A. L.
13 Piccadilly Terrace: Saturday evening, April 29.

Dear Mr. Hodgson,—I am desired by B. to write you a few lines of recommendation for your new pupil to convey to you. I cannot make out
exactly what I am to say except that Mr. H. was desirous
B. should write to recommend him to you, and that he is as usual lazy, and wishes me to tell you he would have written, but that Lady B. has been unwell, and her uncle died last week. I am sure you will be glad to hear that I think her better, and that B. is very well.

Now for the pupil. To the best of B.’s knowledge and belief he is excessively clever, but rather behind-hand from a long vacation of fourteen months. He is to be brought up to the Bar, and nobody can bring him there so soon as you, B. says.

Yours very sincerely,
Augusta Leigh.

I am allowed to add a P.S. to excuse myself for writing such a stupid letter, it being B.’s dictation. One word of common-sense. B. desires me to add Lady B. is ———, and that Lord Wentworth has left all to her mother, and then to Lady B. and children; but B. is, he says, a ‘very miserable dog’ for all that!

Six Mile Bottom: September 4, 1815.

Dear Mr. Hodgson,—I am quite ashamed when I think how very long your last kind letter has re-
mained unanswered. I have no excuse to offer but its having reached me at a time of much hurry and confusion, which has been succeeded by many events of an afflicting nature, and compelled me often to neglect those correspondents to whom I feel most pleasure in writing. Having apologised as well as I am able, I must trust to your indulgence for my pardon, and proceed to congratulate you and
Mrs. Hodgson upon an event which I see announced in the newspaper, and which from my heart I wish may be productive of all the happiness this world can bestow. Indeed, I cannot express with how much pleasure I read the paragraph, and thought of your first and dearest wish being realised.

My brother has just left me, having been here since last Wednesday, when he arrived very unexpectedly. I never saw him so well, and he is in the best spirits, and desired me to add his congratulations to mine upon your marriage. I was in hopes you might have seen him in London, as Col. L. informed me he had the pleasure of meeting you.

I will not now tire you with a longer letter, but must add that I always look forward with great pleasure to the hope of seeing you again, and renewing my acquaintance with Mrs. Hodgson.
In the meantime, believe me, with every good wish to you both,

Yours most sincerely,
Augusta Leigh.

P.S.—I forgot to say when on the B. subject, that he gave me the best accounts of Lady B.’s health.

The next letter was written three weeks after the final departure of Lady Byron from her husband, when the fatal separation, though not quite inevitable, was alarmingly imminent.

13 Piccadilly Terrace: Wednesday, February 7 (1816).

Dear Mr. Hodgson,—Can you by any means contrive to come up to Town? Were it only for a day, it might be of the most essential service to a friend I know you love and value. There is too much fear of a separation between him and his wife. No time is to be lost, but even if you are too late to prevent that happening decidedly, yet it would be the greatest comfort and relief to me to confide other circumstances to you, and consult you; and so if possible oblige me, if only for twenty-four hours. Say not a word of my summons; but attribute your coming, if you come, to business of your own
or chance. Excuse brevity. I am so perfectly wretched I can only say

Ever yours
Most truly,
Augusta Leigh.

It is probable I may be obliged to go home next week. If my scheme appears wild, pray attribute it to the state of mind I am in. Alas! I see only ruin and destruction in every shape to one most dear to me.

Hodgson at once responded to this appeal by taking the first stage-coach to London, where the next letter was addressed to him at his lodgings near Piccadilly.

How very good of you, dear Mr. Hodgson! I intend showing the letter to B., as I think he will jump at seeing you just now, but I must see you first; and how? I am now going to Mr. Hanson’s from B. I’m afraid of your meeting people here who do no good, and would counteract yours; but will you call about two or after that, and ask for me first? I shall be home, I hope, and must see you. If I’m out ask for Capt. B.

Yours sincerely,
A. L.

Dear Mr. Hodgson,—I’ve been unable to write to you till this moment. Mr. H. stayed till a late hour, and is now here again. B. dined with me, and after I left the room I sent your note in, thinking him in better spirits and more free from irritations. He has only just mentioned it to me: ‘Oh, by the bye, I’ve had a note from H., Augusta, whom you must write to and say I’m so full of domestic calamities that I can’t see anybody.’ Still, I think he will see you if he hears you are here, or that even it would be better, if the worst came to the worst, to let the servant announce you and walk in. Can you call here about eleven tomorrow morning, when he will not be up or scarcely awake, and Capt. B., you, and I can hold a council on what is best to be done? The fact is, he is now afraid of everybody who would tell him the truth. It is a most dreadful situation, dear Mr. H.! The worst is that if you said ‘you have done so and so,’ &c., he would deny it; and I see he is afraid of your despair, as he terms it, when you hear of his situation, and, in short, of your telling him the truth. He can only bear to see those who flatter him and encourage him to all that is wrong. I’ve not mentioned having seen you, because I wish him to suppose your opinions unprejudiced. You
must see him; and pray see me and George B. to-morrow morning, when we will consult upon the best means. You are the only comfort I’ve had this long time. I’m quite of your opinion on all that is to be feared.

Ever yours truly,
A. L.
Friday evening, 9 o’clock.

Dear Mr. H.,—About three you will be sure of finding me, if not sooner. I’ve sent in your letter; he said in return I was to do what I pleased about it. I think and hope he will find comfort in seeing you.

Yours truly,
A. L.
Piccadilly Terrace.

Dear Mr. H.,—B. will see you. I saw him open your note, and said I had given his message this morning, when I had seen you and talked generally on the subject of his present situation of which you had before heard. He replied, ‘Oh, then, tell him I will see him certainly; my reason for not was the fear of distressing him.’ You had better call towards three, and wait if he is not yet out of his room. Mr. Hanson has sent for me in conse-
quence (probably) of your interview. I’m going to him about three with
Capt. B., but have said nothing to B. of this.

Ever yours,
A. L.

Immediately after the interview, which took place on the day after the last note was written, Hodgson, feeling that nothing could be lost and that much might be gained by judicious remonstrance, resolved to hazard an appeal to Lady Byron’s feelings; with what success will be seen from her Ladyship’s reply. It is impossible to over-estimate the combined tact and zeal displayed by Hodgson in this most delicate and difficult matter.

Whether I am out-stepping the bounds of prudence in this address to your Ladyship I cannot feel assured; and yet there is so much at stake in a quarter so loved and valuable, that I cannot forbear running the risque, and making one effort more to plead a cause which your Ladyship’s own heart must plead with a power so superior to all other voices. If, then, a word that is here said only adds to the pain of this unhappy conflict between affection and views of duty, without lending any
weight of reason to the object it seeks, I would earnestly implore that it may be forgiven; and, above all, the interference itself, which nothing but its obvious motive and the present awful circumstances could in any way justify.

After a long and most confidential conversation with my friend (whom I have known thoroughly, I believe, for many trying years), I am convinced that the deep and rooted feeling of his heart is regret and sorrow for the occurrences which have so deeply wounded you; and the most unmixed admiration of your conduct in all its particulars, and the warmest affection. But may I be allowed to state to Lady Byron that Lord B., after his general acknowledgment of having frequently been very wrong, and, from various causes, in a painful state of irritation, yet declares himself ignorant of the specific things which have given the principal offence, and that he wishes to hear them; that he may, if extenuation or atonement be possible, endeavour to make some reply; or, at all events, may understand the fulness of those reasons which have now, and as unexpectedly as afflictingly, driven your Ladyship to the step you have taken.

It would be waste of words and idle presumption for me, however your Ladyship’s goodness
might be led to excuse it, to observe how very extreme, how decidedly irreconcilable such a case should be, before the last measure is resorted to. But it may not be quite so improper to urge, from my deep conviction of their truth and importance, the following reflections. I entreat your Ladyship’s indulgence to them. What can be the consequence, to a man so peculiarly constituted, of such an event? If I may give vent to my fear, my thorough certainty, nothing short of absolute and utter destruction. I turn from the idea; but no being except your Ladyship can prevent this. None, I am thoroughly convinced, ever could have done so, notwithstanding the unhappy appearances to the contrary.

Whatever, then, may be against it, whatever restraining remembrances or anticipations, to a person who was not already qualified by sad experience to teach this very truth, I would say that there is a claim paramount to all others,—that of attempting to save the human beings nearest and dearest to us from the most comprehensive ruin that can be suffered by them, at the expense of any suffering to ourselves.

If I have not gone too far, I would add that so suddenly and at once to shut every avenue to re-
turning comfort, must, when looked back upon, appear a strong measure; and, if it proceeds (pray pardon the suggestion) from the unfortunate notion of the very person to whom my friend now looks for consolation being unable to administer it, that notion I would combat with all the energy of conviction; and assert, that whatever unguarded and unjustifiable words, and even actions, may have inculcated this idea, it is the very rock on which the peace of both would, as unnecessarily as wretchedly, be sacrificed. But God Almighty forbid that there should be any sacrifice.

Be all that is right called out into action, all that is wrong suppressed (and by your only instrumentality, Lady Byron, as by yours only it can be) in my dear friend. May you both yet be what God intended you for: the support, the watchful correction, and improvement of each other! Of yourself, Lord B. from his heart declares that he would wish nothing altered—nothing but that sudden, surely sudden, determination which must for ever destroy one of you, and perhaps even both. God bless both!

I am, with deep regard,
Your Ladyship’s faithful servant,
Francis Hodgson.

Lady Byron’s answer was as follows:—

Dear Sir,—I feel most sensibly the kindness of a remonstrance which equally proves your friendship for Lord Byron and consideration for me. I have declined all discussion of this subject with others, but my knowledge of your principles induces me to justify my own; and yet I would forbear to accuse as much as possible.

I married Lord B. determined to endure everything whilst there was any chance of my contributing to his welfare. I remained with him under trials of the severest nature. In leaving him, which, however, I can scarcely call a voluntary measure, I probably saved him from the bitterest remorse. I may give you a general idea of what I have experienced by saying that he married me with the deepest determination of Revenge, avowed on the day of my marriage, and executed ever since with systematic and increasing cruelty, which no affection could change. . . . . My security depended on the total abandonment of every moral and religious principle, against which (though I trust they were never obtruded) his hatred and endeavours were uniformly directed. . . . . The circumstances, which are of too convincing a nature, shall not be generally known whilst Lord
B. allows me to spare him. It is not unkindness that can always change affection.

With you I may consider this subject in a less worldly point of view. Is the present injury to his reputation to be put in competition with the danger of unchecked success to this wicked pride? and may not his actual sufferings (in which, be assured, that affection for me has very little share) expiate a future account? I know him too well to dread the fatal event which he so often mysteriously threatens. I have acquired my knowledge of him bitterly indeed, and it was long before I learned to mistrust the apparent candour by which he deceives all but himself. He does know—too well—what he affects to inquire.

You reason with me as I have reasoned with myself, and I therefore derive from your letter an additional and melancholy confidence in the rectitude of this determination, which has been deliberated on the grounds that you would approve. It was not suggested, and has not been enforced, by others; though it is sanctioned by my parents.

You will continue Lord Byron’s friend, and the time may yet come when he will receive from that friendship such benefits as he now rejects. I will even indulge the consolatory thought that the
remembrance of me, when time has softened the irritation created by my presence, may contribute to the same end. May I hope that you will still retain any value for the regard with which

I am,
Your most obliged and faithful servant,
A. I. Byron.
Kirkby: Feb. 15, 1806.

I must add that Lord Byron had been fully, earnestly, and affectionately warned of the unhappy consequences of his conduct.

It is most unfortunate that the second letter which Hodgson wrote on this most distressing occasion is lost, but some clue to its contents may be gathered from Lady Byron’s reply:—

February 24, 1816.

Dear Sir,—I have received your second letter. First let me thank you for the charity with which you consider my motives; and now of the principal subject.

I eagerly adopted the belief of insanity as a consolation; and though such malady has been found insufficient to prevent his responsibility with man, I will still trust that it may latently exist
so as to acquit him towards God. This no human being can judge. It certainly does not destroy the powers of self-control, or impair the knowledge of moral good and evil.

Considering the case upon the supposition of derangement: you may have heard, what every medical adviser would confirm, that it is in the nature of such malady to reverse the affections, and to make those who would naturally be dearest, the greatest objects of aversion, the most exposed to acts of violence, and the least capable of alleviating the malady. Upon such grounds my absence from Lord B. was medically advised before I left Town. But the advisers had not then seen him, and since Mr. Le Mann has had opportunities of personal observation, it has been found that the supposed physical causes do not exist so as to render him not an accountable agent.

I believe the nature of Lord B.’s mind to be most benevolent. But there may have been circumstances (I would hope the consequences, not the causes, of mental disorder) which would render an original tenderness of conscience the motive of desperation—even of guilt—when self-esteem had been forfeited too far. No external motive can be so strong. Goodness of heart—when there are
impetuous passions and no principles—is a frail security.

Every possible means have been employed to effect a private and amicable arrangement; and I would sacrifice such advantages in terms as, I believe, the Law would ensure to me, to avoid this dreadful necessity. Yet I must have some security, and Lord B. refuses to afford any. If you could persuade him to the agreement you would save me from what I most deprecate. I have now applied to Lord Holland for that end.

If you wish to answer—and I shall always be happy to hear from you—I must request you to enclose your letter to my father, Sir Ralph Noel, Mivart’s Hotel, Lower Brook Street, London, as I am not sure where I may be at that time.

My considerations of duty are of a very complicated nature; but my duty as a mother seems to point out the same conduct as I pursue upon other principles that I have partly explained.

I must observe upon one passage of your letter, that I have had (sic) expectations of personal violence, though I was too miserable to have feelings of fear, and those expectations would now be still stronger.

In regard to any change which the future state
Lord B.’s mind might justify in my intentions, an amicable arrangement would not destroy the opening for reconciliation. Pray endeavour to promote the dispositions to such an arrangement; there is every reason to desire it.

Yours very truly,
A. I. Byron.
The Rev. F. Hodgson.