LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Astarte: a Fragment of Truth
Lady Byron to Augusta Leigh, 23 December [1819]

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 [Thursday] Decr 23rd [1819]

Dearest A—As you seem to apprehend some insecurity from the ordinary means of communication, and I think myself called upon to speak openly, I will request Mrs Villiers to deliver this letter to you herself—I shall mention to her the prospect of B’s return, and leave you to consult her if you like to do so.—

On my own account, for my own sake individually, I am at present not very anxious—but for you, I feel the greatest solicitude, and I should reproach myself were I to shrink at this crisis from the declaration of any opinions by which you might be assisted to form your own determination.—

The reasons which a short time since induced you to

1 [Lady Caroline Lamb.]

deliberate whether you ought to continue the correspondence, even with those restrictions which you so cautiously observe, have infinitely more weight in the question whether any personal intercourse is admissible.—I have, throughout our confidential communication, strongly pointed out to you the pernicious effects that must result from
B’s associating with you, unless the circumstances were wholly changed, and the proofs of his reformation unequivocal.—So far from there being any change of this kind, several of his letters and some which you received only 3 or 4 months ago, demonstrate that he has not relinquished his criminal desires, & I think I may add designs. Is it not inevitable that the former must be more excited by the presence of their object, even though the latter, in consequence of your conduct, be frustrated?—Guilt of heart must be promoted. It can scarcely be doubted, from the whole series of his correspondence, that you are his principal object in England.—Consider too, as a Mother, that he would corrupt the morals of your Children—and recollect that the impression on the public mind is such, that the strongest suspicion would attach to your personal intercourse with him—

Since evils of such magnitude may be confidently anticipated from one course, let us weigh the consequences of the alternative, (which in principle is unobjectionable)—that is—of your communicating to him your determination not to associate with him in the existing circumstances.—His revenge must be directed either against your reputation or your pecuniary interests. I do not think that his worst attacks upon the former, when appearing to proceed from pique, would endanger it more than your personal intercourse—particularly whilst he obviously desires to bring you under his power by any means,—& you cannot suppose that the conduct which principle would dictate on your part, were you & he together, would incline him to forbear—With regard to your pecuniary interests, of which he so insultingly reminds you, as if you were to be bribed into wickedness,
I am aware that the interests of your children1 may rightly influence your conduct, when guilt is not incurred by consulting them—However your children cannot, I trust, under any circumstances be left destitute, for reasons which I will hereafter communicate.

Observe, I entreat you, that my sole wish is to place before you those considerations which appear to me most important, not to influence you by my authority or my wishes to adopt any course of the rectitude & propriety of which your own mind is not thoroughly convinced. I should most seriously regret so to influence you—for you would not act consistently, unless you acted from Conviction,—You would take half-measures, which must end in your ruin.—Anxious as I feel to support & comfort you in the recovered path of virtue, I could not hope to do so by an attempt to impose my own opinions—On the contrary I would as far as possible, remove every obstacle to independence of conduct on your part.

Consider then for yourself, whether it would be advisable to apprize him at Calais of the impossibility of your consenting to personal intercourse, after the letters which you had at different times received from him, &c.—and which had caused you to hesitate as to the propriety of continuing the correspondence—But, as I have before observed, I fully participate in your wish to consult his welfare in the present & the future, & should most warmly concur with you in any measures directed to those ends—

God bless you—& believe me
Ever affectionately yours

P.S. I think I cannot make it too clear to you that I do not instigate the measure which I suggest—If my reasons convince you, they become yours—if not, I have no wish to enforce them—