January 16 1816: Dearest Duck

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On January 16 1816, having left the previous day, Lady Byron writes to Byron, from Kirkby Mallory. She has been advised by doctors to write to Byron in a light vein given the concern  over his mental stability.

Dearest Duck,―We got here quite well last night, and were ushered into the kitchen instead of drawing-room, by a mistake that might have been agreable enough to hungry people. Of this and other incidents Dad wants to write you a jocose account, & both he & Mam long to have the family party completed. Such a W.C.! and such a sitting-room or sulking-room all to yourself! If I were not always looking about for B., I should be a great deal better already for country air. Miss finds her provisions increased, & fattens thereon. It is a good thing she can’t understand all the flattery bestowed upon her, “Little Angel.” Love to the good Goose, & everybody’s love to you both from hence. Ever thy most loving PIPPIN … PIP … IP.

Annabella’s true feelings are expressed in her letter to Augusta of the same day. Annabella, at this point in time, does not appear to be suspicious of her sister-in-law.

MY DEAREST SIS.,—I am safe here, and have your letter. I hope Le Mann will write me his opinion after this interview, which must have rendered it more decided. He is right in not seeing H. I have made the most explicit statement to my father and mother, and nothing can exceed their tender anxiety to do everything for the sufferer. She is quite composed, though deeply affected, and able to use her judgment, which certainly is excellent when not impaired by too great indulgence of feeling. She has relieved my mind about the foreign scheme by a mode of prevention that appears likely to be  effectual against any practices of H.’s, viz. that if requisite my father and Captain B. should wait upon him, and state as their joint opinion that it would be a measure most injurious to B., after which H. dare not promote it for his own character’s sake. My father and mother agree that in every point of view it would be best for B. to come here; they say he shall be considered in everything, and that it will be impossible for him to offend or disconcert them after the knowledge of this unhappy cause. I assure you that my mother could not be more affectionate towards her own son.

Has Le Mann advised the country? It will be by means of the heir that it can be effected, and you will be able to touch that subject skillfully before you go, and give G B. a hint of it if you can. My dearest A., it is my great comfort that you are in Piccadilly. Don’t restrain your communications from the idea of my mother’s inspection, for I only read passages. Tell me exactly how B. is affected by my absence. I conceive that in his morbid state of feeling he has no desire for the absent, and may feel relieved for a time as Le Mann expected. Make him write to me if you can, because any manual exertion is good for him, since his active habits decrease with the progress of disease, and to employ the powers externally diminishes the mental irritability. On the whole I am satisfied to have come here. I am sure it was right, and must tend to the ultimate advantage of all. I am very well. I hope top get another letter from you before post goes out.

My mother suggest what would be more expedient about the laudanum bottle than taking it away, to fill it with about three-quarters of water, which won’t make any observable difference, or, if it should, the brown might be easily made deeper coloured. I am obliged to send this in haste, but may be able to write again by this post. A. I. N. B.

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