March 7 1816: Hobhouse’s Preamble


“Thursday March 7th 1816: In the morning I drew up a paper of declarations as preamble to the separation, in which Lady Byron disavowed cruelty systematic, unremitted neglect, gross repeated infidelities, incest and ––––– [sodomy].

At two o’clock I went with Davies to Byron’s, read the paper – Byron and Davies seemed to think those things had better not be put on record, and certainly not on the same paper with the separation, as that would make the disavowal seem like the price of separation. Wilmot came in – Lord Byron and Scrope Davies withdrew – Wilmot secured my paper. He said he would take it to Lady Byron – whilst we were talking, Lord Byron and Davies returned, and seemed afraid of my compromising the matter–

Davies urged the necessity of Lady Byron’s disavowal being previous to, and altogether unconnected with, the separation – it was agreed she should be asked by Wilmot to write a letter tantamount to my declaration – the main articles of which I drew up as a memorandum for Wilmot in his interview with Lady Byron – Wilmot asked me whether I could assure him that in case the disavowal was made the private separation would be agreed to on Byron’s part. I said I thought he might understand it would be so, but that the disavowal must be totally unconnected with the whole transaction, and previous to it – he said he understood this – the party broke up – agreeing to meet at two the next day. Scrope Davies, Norton and myself dined at the Piazza – sat till twelve and drank eight bottles of claret and one of sherry, yet was I but little affected. Scrope Davies’s fun and Norton’s good-humour and anecdotes made the evening pleasant. We were enlivened by a madman, who took two glasses of brandy, and by Bearcroft and a flash attorney – doing a young Cambridge man. Sent Prologue to Kinnaird this morning, who made alterations – curse him – and said it was gr[ ].”

—  John Cam Hobhouse writes in his diary, March 7 1816.

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