March 26 1816: Byron’s Reference Letters


On March 26 1816, Lord Byron receives letters  from various people confirming that he has not spoken ill of Lady Byron. These letters have been sent at Byron’s request. The irony is that Lady Caroline Lamb is set to visit Lady Byron on March 27 1816. Her visit will confirm Annabella’s darkest suspicions about Byron.


Lord Holland provides the following letter:

MY DEAR LORD,—— I have no difficulty in answering your questions. 147 In the conversations I had with you, as in my correspondence with you, on the subject of the separation between you and Lady Byron, you uniformly spoke of her in a kind and considerate manner; not a syllable of reproach on the score either of temper or conduct ever escaped you. Your lips in my presence, and even in lamenting some, circumstance which occurred, you studiously and anxiously acquitted Lady Byron of having acted unkindly or improperly. In short, you spoke of’ her judgment, her veracity, her character, and her conduct, with much respect. It is but justice to Lady Byron to say that, in the interview I had the honour of having with her, she confirmed the impression which my slight acquaintance with her, and your representations, had given me, and spoke on the painful subject on which I saw her with propriety and judgment, professing great regard and interest for you. Of the causes of difference I was, am, and wish to remain, entirely ignorant; but as far as my testimony goes, I can say with great truth, that if those differences have produced a separation, there was no appearance in my interviews with you or Lady Byron of their having produced in either party any bitterness or disposition to express themselves harshly of one another. I am, my dear Lord, Ever truly yours, VASSAL HOLLAND.

Douglas Kinnaird provides the following letter:

DEAR BYRON, Pray excuse this piece of foolscap. It is not personal; but I cannot lay my hands on any other, and still less can I consent to delay answering the interrogatives of your letter, seeing that I entertain not the slightest doubt in giving to them one and the same negative reply. You ask me whether or no I ever heard you speak of Lady Byron with harshness, or impute to her any impropriety of character or conduct, or if you ever did sanction or authorise any condemnation of, or imputation against, her to me, or (as far as I know) to others? To these questions I unreservedly answer, Never. Nor I do not think I should give them a proper answer, were I not to add that I have never heard you express yourself of Lady Byron but uniformly in the same tone of unqualified respect for her character, and the motives of’ her conduct. I have heard you frequently, when discussing the situation into which you have lately been brought, and when the proceedings taken against you have been censured, anxiously except Lady Byron from any censure which implied more than her Ladyship having suffered herself to be misled. Whilst, on the contrary, the only act I can charge my memory with ever having heard you complain of (and that strictly in terms of complaint, not reproach) was, that her Ladyship used to keep a journal, in which your casual expressions and minutest actions were noted down. Were I called upon to state any part of your conduct that had left upon me the strongest impression in my intercourse with you since Lady Byron left your house, it would assuredly be the uniform and scrupulous delicacy with which you have ever mentioned Lady Byron’s name. I am, my dear Byron, Yours very faithfully, DOUGLAS KINNAIRD.

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