February 8 1816: Things Which Cannot be Written

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On February 8 1816, Lord Byron writes another pleading letter to his estranged wife Lady Byron. One has to question the sincerity of Byron’s letters at this time. He had been desperately unhappy when they were together, now he seems desperately fearful of what Annabella may reveal. Matters are beginning to get very serious. The possibility that dark, and even criminal, secrets may be disclosed is sending Byron into a panic. This is one of the reasons why he wants to meet with Annabella. As he writes in today’s letter: “there are things to be settled and said which cannot be written”.

Byron’s full letter reads:

All I can say seems useless―and all I could say might be no less unavailing; yet I still cling to the wreck of my hopes before they sink forever. Were you then never happy with me? did you never at any time or times express yourself so? have no marks of affection of the warmest & most reciprocal attachment passed between us? or did in fact hardly a day go down without some such on one side and generally on both? Do not mistake me.

I have not denied my state of mind―but you know its causes; & were those deviations from calmness never followed by acknowledgement & repentance? Was not the last which occurred more particularly so? & had I not―had we not―the days before & on the day when we parted reason to believe that we loved each other―that we were to meet again? Were not your letters kind? had I not acknowledged to you all my faults & follies, & assured you that some had not―& would not be repeated? I do not require these questions to be answered to me―but to your own heart. The day before I received your father’s letter I had fixed a day for rejoining you. If I did not write lately, Augusta did; and as you had been my proxy in correspondence with her, so did I imagine she might be the same for me to you. Upon your letter to me this day―I surely may remark that its expressions imply a treatment which I am incapable of inflicting, & you of imputing to me―if aware of their latitude, & the extent of the inferences to be drawn from them. This is not just―but I have no reproaches―nor the wish to find cause for them. Will you see me when & where you please―in whose presence you please? The interview shall pledge you to nothing, and I will say and do nothing to agitate either. It is torture to correspond thus, & there are things to be settled and said which cannot be written. You say “It is my disposition to deem what I have worthless.” Did I deem you so? did I ever so express myself to you―or of you―to others? You are much changed within these twenty days, or you would never have thus poisoned your own better feelings―and trampled upon mine. ever yours most truly & affectionately [Scribbled signature]

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