March 12 1816: More Byronic Moves


“Up at eleven – burnt letter, and wrote to Wilmot simply to say I could not give him an answer until I knew the precise cause of the obstruction, and adding he had a guarantee in Lady Byron’s paper in his hand. Very unwillingly I rode up to town, not knowing what to make of the matter, and thinking there must be some fighting – arrived at Byron’s by half past four. I told him what I have before mentioned as to my notions of his and Davies’ assent. I found there had been queries put in an angry tone both to him and Davies, which he had answered as rudely and Davies mildly through Mr Ridley Colborne. Also that Hanson and Lushington had met on Sunday night and broke off at once on the article of the Kirkby property. I told Byron my mind distinctly, that I thought he was wrong – but he was positive – and I then sat down and wrote a note to Wilmot in the spirit of last night, which as Davies said [it] would not do, I threw into the fire. Byron wanted to write a violent note, which we threw into the fire. It was agreed that I should call on Wilmot. I set off, but did not find him at Mivart’s nor at 23 Montague Square, his home, so came back to Byron. He told me that he was eager that neither I nor Davies should quarrel with Wilmot and no-one but himself, but he promised me not to send any note. 

I went away, dressed at Davies’, dined with him at the St James’ Coffee House, a bad house. Went to Byron’s, and then in his carriage to 23 Montague Square, where I found Wilmot and Colonel Doyle. I confessed to these gentlemen my impression of the assent of Lord Byron, S.B.D., and myself to the Principle of Separation as a basis on which two lawyers and a referee were to meet. I said that I thought the principle first even now, but that I had been assured on Lord Byron’s honour that he had misconceived Mr Wilmot, and never imagined he had not the power of receding even before the three were appointed to settle the business.

As to Mr Davies, I stated the fact of his not having seen the Principle. Having said this I claimed for myself an avowal of Mr Wilmot’s perfect satisfaction at my conduct – this he gave me in the fullest manner, and was joined in this by Colonel Doyle. Indeed, my testimony was a great relief to poor Wilmot, who had thus an excuse to offer to Lady Byron’s friends for his conception of the matter arranged on Saturday. Having obtained this, I stated the necessity of his making some apology to S.B.D. He (Wilmot) having in that case agreed to call and recall. Then I begged him to call on Byron, and throw Lady Byron’s disavowal into the fire, and finish his mediation. I found, however, that Byron had after all sent up his violent note, so that Wilmot had made up his mind to have done with his cousin.197 I took down the heads of what I had asserted in presence of Wilmot and Doyle, and read them, put them in my pocket and went away, having thus closed the affair as far as Wilmot was concerned. He shook hands, and hoped our acquaintance would be continued through life. I came back to Byron’s, received congratulations from S.B.D. &c., heard that Byron had written a letter198 on Sunday evening to Lady Byron after the Wilmot principle had been rejected by Hanson, who threatened to throw up the case if the Kirkby property was touched. In this letter Byron offered to arrange amicably every thing relative to every thing except the Kirkby property, which he would not touch. He has had no answer. An advertisement in the paper replies to the Friendly Hint,199 which quire has taken with Madame Clermont. It appears that, as court is inevitable, Byron owned to S.B.D. and me, at last that he must have been bereaved of reason during his paroxysms with his wife – it appears to me he has made some confession – I am still however in the dark utterly –”

—  John Cam Hobhouse writes in his diary, March 12 1816.

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