February 13 1816: Hopeless


On February 13 1816, Lady Byron writes to to Lord Byron, concluding: “I have consistently fulfilled my duty as your wife. It was too dear to be resigned till it became hopeless. Now my resolution cannot be changed.” Translation: it’s over.

Kirkby, Feb. 13, 1816.

On reconsidering your last letter to me, and your second to my father, I find some allusions which I will not leave to be answered by others because the explanation may be less disagreeable to you from myself. My letters of January 15th and 16th. It can be fully and clearly proved that I left your house under the persuasion of your having a complaint of so dangerous a nature that any agitation might bring on a fatal crisis. My entreaties before I quitted you that you would take medical advice, repeated in my letter of Jany 15th, must convince you of such an impression on my mind. My absence, if it had not been rendered necessary by other causes, was medically recommended on that ground, as removing an object of irritation.

I should have acted inconsistently with my unchanged affection for you, or indeed with the common principles of humanity, by urging my wrongs at that moment. From subsequent accounts I found that these particular apprehensions, which I, and others, had entertained, were boundless. Till they were ascertained to be so, it was my intention to induce you to come to this place where, at every hazard, I would have devoted myself to the alleviation of your sufferings, and should not then have reminded you of my own, as believing you, from physical causes, not to be accountable for them. My parents under the same impression communicated to me, felt the kindest anxiety to promote my wishes and your recovery, by receiving you here. Of all this my letter of Jany . 16th is a testimony. if for these reasons (to which others were perhaps added) I did not remonstrate at the time of leaving your house, you cannot forget that I had before warned you, earnestly and affectionately, of the unhappy and irreparable consequences which must ensue from your conduct, both to yourself and to me, that to those representations you had replied by a determination to be wicked, though it should break my heart. What then had I to expect? I cannot attribute your “state of mind” to any cause so much as the total dereliction of principle, which, since our marriage, you have professed and gloried in. Your acknowledgements have not been accompanied by any intentions of amendment. I have consistently fulfilled my duty as your wife. It was too dear to be resigned till it became hopeless. Now my resolution cannot be changed. A. I. BYRON.

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