February 14 1816: KINDEST Explanation


On February 14 1816, Lady Byron writes to Augusta Leigh, and again explains why she will not return to Byron. There is now a resigned sharpness, to her explanation, and a creeping exasperation with Augusta. (The image of is “The Shipwreck of Don Juan” by Delacroix.)

MY DEAREST A.—I won’t enter into explanations, but the reasons for my second letter were meant to be the kindest.

Now in answer to yours. Happiness no longer enters into my views, it can never be restored, and the greater or less degree of misery I must endure will depend on the principles of my conduct, not on its consequences. Now, independent of any advice whatever, I deem it my duty to God to act as I am acting, and I am resigned to the misfortunes that may flow from that source, since by any other conduct I should forfeit my peace of conscience, the only good that remains to me. No temporal advantages or privations will have the least weight. In regard to him, it is my decided opinion there will be no fatal event, and I think it a greater error to regard “wordly disgrace” as a serious evil compared to some that must ensue, with his character, from wordly prosperity. If Pride be not expiated on earth, but indulged, who may dare to look beyond? The lessons of adversity may be beneficial when they are most bitter. Not that I would voluntarily be the means of chastisement, but I seem to have been made so, and am doomed to participate in the suffering.

His grief and despair, which I do not doubt, are of the same too worldly nature. The loss of character by the anticipation of a measure which he had long intended, only with advantages of which he is deprived in this case, touches him most sensibly. It is not for me, but for the accompanying circumstances, that he feels so deeply. All this it is in his disposition to revenge on the object, if in his power. When his revenge avowedly began as soon as I became so by marriage, and seems to have increased in force rather than diminished, what would it be now? Those who consider his welfare ought not to desire my return, there is nothing of which I am more certain.

The present sufferings of all may yet be repaid in blessings. Don’t despair absolutely, dearest; and leave me but enough of your interest to afford you any consolation by partaking that sorrow which I am most unhappy to cause even thus unintentionally. You will be of my opinion hereafter, and at present your bitterest reproach would be forgiven, though Heaven knows you have considered me more than one in a thousand would have done, more than anything but my affection for one most dear to you could deserve. I must not remember these feelings. Farewell. God bless you, from the bottom of my heart. A.I.B.

This letter has not been seen though sent circuitously, as I thought it better it should not be received by post.

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