February 3 1816: Byron’s Ignorance



On February 3 1816, Lord Byron writes to his wife Lady Byron, to inquire if she agrees with her father about a separation.

I have received a letter from your father proposing a separation between us, to which I cannot give an answer without being more acquainted with your own thoughts & wishes―& from yourself. To vague & general charges & exaggerated statements from others I can give no reply: it is to you that I look, & with you that I can communicate on this subject. When I permit the interference of relatives, it will be as a courtesy to them―& not the admission of a right. I feel naturally at a loss how to address you, ignorant as I am how far the letter I have received has received your sanction; & in the circumstances into which this precipitation has forced me, whatever I might say would be liable to misconstruction. I am really ignorant to what part of Sir Ralph’s letter alludes. Will you explain? To conclude―I shall eventually abide by your decision; but I request you most earnestly to weigh well the probable consequences―& to pause before you pronounce. Whatever may occur, it is but justice to you to say that you are exempt from all fault whatever, & that neither now nor at any time have I the slightest imputation of any description to charge upon you. I cannot sign myself other than yours ever most affectionately …

In turn, Lady Byron writes to Augusta Leigh advising that in fact that she agrees with her father. She is probably responding to Byron’s letter to her father of yesterday.

MY DEAREST AUGUSTA,―You are desired by your brother to ask, if my father has my concurrence in proposing a separation. He has. It cannot be supposed that, in my present distressing situation, I am capable of stating in a detailed manner the reasons which will not only justify this measure, but compel me to take it; and it never can be my wish to remember unnecessarily those injuries for which, however deep, I feel no resentment. I will only recall to Lord Byron’s mind his avowed and insurmountable aversion to the married state, and the desire and determination he has expressed ever since its commencement to free himself from that bondage, as finding it quite insupportable, though candidly acknowledging that no effort of duty or affection has been wanting on my part. He has too painfully convinced me that all these attempts to contribute towards his happiness were wholly useless, and most unwelcome to him. I enclose this letter to my father, wishing it to receive his sanction. Ever yours most affectionately, A. I. BYRON.

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