November 14 1815: Byron’s Debts

On November 14 1815, Lord Byron writes to John Murray to return the £1,500 that his publisher had sent him when he had learned of Byron’s debts. Byron’s financial embarrassments are now extreme. A bailiff has moved into his home to execute or sell his property. Byron has even begun to sell his library. Still a proud Byron refuses Murray’s help. In the letter that he writes, he returns Murray’s three cheques for £500, each ripped up into three pieces.

Dear Sir / I return you your bills – not accepted – but certainly not unhonoured. – Your present offer is a favour which I would accept from you if I accepted such from any man: – had such been my intention I can assure you I would have asked you fairly and as freely as you would give – & I cannot say more of my confidence or your conduct. – – – – – The circumstances which induce me to part with my books – though sufficiently – are not immediately pressing – I have made up my mind to them – & there’s an end. – Had I been disposed to tresspass on your kindness in this way; – it would have been before now – but I am not sorry to have an opportunity of declining it – as it sets my opinion of you – & indeed of human Nature in a different light from that in which I have been accustomed to consider it. – – – – Believe me very truly

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