LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

In Whig Society 1775-1818
Lady Melbourne to a relative of Eleanor Milbanke, [1800 c.]

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
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I have to apologise for the liberty I take in addressing you, but as the comfort of a near Relation of Yours is so much concerned I hope I need make no further excuses, & shall only observe that the bad state of my Brother Mr. John Milbanke’s health, which renders him unable to attend to any business, is the reason of my interfering upon a subject which would have come more properly from him—I am afraid my nephew Capn. Milbanke has not been so
explicit as he ought respecting his affairs to you Sir, & to
Mrs. Milbanke’s other Relations, for if he had I feel convinced you would have seen the necessity of making some provision for the pay[men]t of his debts—& would have advised him accordingly—or had his Relations known that his Marriage was to have taken place so soon some arrangement of that sort would have been proposed by them, for tho they were unacquainted with the extent of his debts, yet we knew it was impossible he should not have some, from the very small income his Father could give him, & from his situation in the profession which must lead him into great expenses. At the same time I must say that I cannot accuse him of any great extravagance, but he seems to have fall’n into bad Hands, & of course to have obtained money on very exorbitant terms, & I must own that considering all these circumstances I am surprised his debts do not amount to a larger sum. His conduct in not explaining his situation more fully can only be attributed to the embarassment a Young Man naturally feels in confessing his imprudences, as he might have settled his affairs with more facility previous to his Marriage than he can now. I have no doubt in my own Mind that were he once clear of debt, his future conduct would be prudent, & that having suffered so much distress and difficulty, a lesson would be imprinted, which he could not easily forget. It is under this conviction that I venture to apply to you—as I think it may be in your power to assist him materially & I do not see how he can in any other way extricate himself even from his present difficultys which press upon him daily & which distress him the more as they must involve Mrs.
Milbanke’s happiness by wounding her feelings—& from her amiable Character, I feel highly interested in her welfare and most sincerely hope they may be happy. From a variety of causes, relating to Family affairs which it would at present be unnecessary & tedious to enumerate, but which I have not the least objection to relate to you, if I have the honor of seeing you, my
Br[other] has it not in his power to assist him which he certainly would wish to do if he could—for if he has appear’d averse to his marriage it has not been from the least want of affection or from any other reason, but from a consciousness of his inability to make his situation comfortable. I understand you are Trustee for Mrs. Milbanke & that her fortune of £2,000 is settled upon her. If you would consent to call in a Thousand p[oun]ds of it, & it could be stated in what time it might be raised I should hope that sum might be borrowed on reasonable terms till the time of payt., & as he has 500 pd. at his Father’s death which is not settled, & secured to him by his Mother’s will: and another 500 secured also—by his Father—these two sums might be settled upon Mrs. Milbanke in lieu of 1,000 of her fortune which would be paid to him—This would I think relieve him effectually, and you must be sensible that nothing except being clear of debt can enable Mrs. M[ilbanke] & him to live upon their present small income and that any calls for Money to pay off old Debts must, not only be of the greatest present distress, but also of the least consequences ultimately.

My anxiety for my nephew and my wish to explain his situation clearly & fully to you, are my reasons for having presumed to trouble you
with so long a letter, which I trust you will have the goodness to forgive.

I am,
Your most obet.
& most Humble Sert.
Eliz: Melbourne