January 20 1816: Blue Devils

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On January 20 1816, Lady Byron writes to Augusta Leigh, from Kirkby Mallory, Leicestershire. She adds a touching postscript about nursing Ada: “I have been with my Augusta, and whilst I was nursing her, happened to sigh, whereupon she looked up in my face and sighed too. It was so very odd as to strike the Nurse as well as myself. I hope the Blue Devils cannot be sucked?”

MY DEAREST A.,—Indeed, I don’t think you do know what I am feeling, nor all the causes I have to feel; and it makes me sicker still to write about them. Disease or not—all my recollections and reflection, tend to convince me that the irritability is inseparably connected with me in a greater degree than with any other object, that my presence has been uniformly oppressive to him from the hour we married—if not before, and in his best moods he has always wished to be away from me. The causes I won’t pretend to determine, the effects have been too constant and are too fixed; and had we continued together he would have gone mad. It would be the same again: Le Mann don’t know all, or he would think so.

I had written you a longer letter on this subject, which I now withhold, but may show you sometime. Le Mann has written to me very sensibly: I am comforted by knowing that such an adviser is at hand.
Ever, dearest friend, thine,
A. I. B.

I have been with my Augusta, and whilst I was nursing her, happened to sigh, whereupon she looked up in my face and sighed too. It was so very odd as to strike the Nurse as well as myself. I hope the Blue Devils cannot be sucked?

Indeed, I have done nothing except on the strictest principle of Duty, yet I feel as if I were going to receive sentence from the judge with his black cap on. In short, I feel—I feel—as if I were in the regions below, to speak of them genteelly. Then I have dreadful head-aches—to mind other aches, and am altogether growing a little rebellious. O that I were in London, if in the coal-hole.

Monday.

A little more crazy still. Nothing but Conscience to comfort me, and just now it is a Job’s comforter

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