LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Astarte: a Fragment of Truth
Lord Byron to Augusta Leigh, 21 September 1818

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 Septr 21st 1818.—
Dearest Augusta

I particularly beg that you will contrive to get the enclosed letter safely delivered to Lady Frances,3 & if there is an answer to let me have it. You can write to her first & state that you have such a letter—at my request—for there is no occasion for any concealment at

1 Underlined twice.

2 Substituted for “the,” erased.

3 Wedderburne Webster.

least with her—& pray oblige me so far, for many reasons. If the
Queen dies you are no more a Maid of Honour—is it not so? Allegra1 is well, but her mother (whom the Devil confound) came prancing the other day over the Appennines—to see her shild; which threw my Venetian loves (who are none of the quietest) into great combustion; and I was in a pucker till I got her to the Euganean hills, where she & the child now are, for the present. I declined seeing her for fear that the consequence might be an addition to the family; she is to have the child a month with her and then to return herself to Lucca, or Naples, where she was with her relatives (she is English you know), & to send Allegra to Venice again. I lent her my house at Este for her maternal holidays. As troubles don’t come single, here is another confusion. The chaste wife of a baker—having quarrelled with her tyrannical husband—has run away to me (God knows without being invited), & resists all the tears & penitence and beg-pardons of her disconsolate Lord, and the threats of the police, and the priest of the parish besides; and swears she won’t give up her unlawful love (myself), for any body, or any thing. I assure you I have begged her in all possible ways too to go back to her husband, promising her all kinds of eternal fidelity into the bargain, but she only flies into a fury; and as she is a very tall and formidable Girl of three and twenty, with the large black eyes and handsome face of a pretty fiend, a correspondent figure and a carriage as haughty as a Princess—with the violent passions & capacities for mischief of an Italian when they are roused—I am a little embarrassed with my unexpected acquisition. However she keeps my household in rare order, and has already frightened the learned Fletcher out of his remnants of wits more than once; we have turned her into a housekeeper. As the morals of this place are very lax, all the women commend her

1 Alba or Clara Allegra Biron, his natural daughter by Jane Clairmont. See note, p. 280.

& say she has done right—especially her own relations. You need not be alarmed—I know how to manage her—and can deal with anything but a cold blooded animal such as
Miss Milbanke. The worst is that she won’t let a woman come into the house, unless she is as old and frightful as possible; and has sent so many to the right about that my former female acquaintances are equally frightened & angry. She is extremely fond of the child, & is very cheerful & goodnatured, when not jealous; but Othello himself was a fool to her in that respect. Her soubriquet in her family was la Mora from her colour, as she is very dark (though clear of complexion), which literally means the Moor so that I have “the Moor I of Venice” in propria persona as part of my household. She has been here this month. I had known her (and fifty others) more than a year, but did not anticipate this escapade, which was the fault of her booby husband’s treatment—who now runs about repenting & roaring like a bull calf. I told him to take her in the devil’s name, but she would not stir; & made him a long speech in the Venetian dialect which was more entertaining to anybody than to him to whom it was addressed. You see Goose—that there is no quiet in this world—so be a good woman—& repent of yr sins.