April 19 1816: “Domestic Treachery”


… Lord Byron desired me to make a formal offer to Colonel Doyle to back off the arrangement for separation and to go into court. I went to Colonel Doyle, and told him that in consequence of the appearance of Sir Ralph Noel’s letter to Perry, Lord Byron thought publication was the wish of the other party, and he therefore offered to release Lady Byron from her signature and to go into court. Colonel Doyle said that nothing was further from the wish of the other party than any publicity – although they were quite prepared for, and not afraid of, anything, that a court would be better than partial publication. That Lady Byron had letters from Mrs Leigh and others, all of which would be made public, but that the whole family deprecated such a step – that Sir Ralph had interfered with Mr Perry merely on account of his own honour. To this I replied that as Lord Byron had said nothing to the editor of the Times, or Post, or Champion, Sir Ralph Noel should have said nothing to Mr Perry … that Mr Perry had merely tried to save a calumniated man, and that Sir Ralph had not only said that he should not be saved, but had introduced Lady Byron to the public as deciding against her husband … I grew a little angry, and said that my friend had suffered from the taunt “domestic treachery”.

The conference ended by my repeating Lord Byron’s proposition in form, and by ordering Colonel Doyle to transmit it to Lady Byron, which he said he would, and by a request on his part for me to go to Mr Perry, and to stop any further publication. I told him I could not answer for that – of course Mr Perry must defend himself against Sir Ralph’s letter. Leaving Colonel Doyle, I went to the Strand.323 There I saw Perry. He read me his letter to Ralph in the press, and concluded by saying he should insert that letter and nothing else. Here I thought him right. He might as well do that as give the minutes of his conversation, or perhaps better, for I doubt not he might boast of being in Byron’s confidence in the conversation, but he certainly did not in the letter. Came home. Byron is making first preparations for going, but the signing is as far off as ever, though he promises he will write to Hanson to tell him to come with the papers tomorrow …

— John Cam Hobhouse writes in his diary for April 19 1816.

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