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September 13 1812: Byron has Marriage in Mind


On September 13, 1812, Lord Byron has marriage on his mind and is writing to Lady Melbourne on the subject. He first writes about Lady Caroline Lamb. He has been writing to Caroline to pacify her so that she does not do anything rash. Byron writes:

In the mean time I must & do write the greatest absurdities to keep her “gay” & the more so because [the] last epistle informed me that “8 guineas a mail & a packet could soon bring her to London” a threat which immediately called forth a letter worthy of the Grand Cyrus or the Duke of York, or any other hero of Madame Scudery or Mrs. Clarke.
The main purpose of Byron's letter is to have Lady Melbourne help him get married. He thus puts himself in her care. "I am always but too happy to find one to regulate or misregulate me, & I am as docile as a Dromedary & can bear almost as much," Byron writes and asks "Will you undertake me?"  

Byron does not come out and say who he has in mind to marry until halfway in the letter. He writes:
I was, am, & shall be I fear attached to another, one to whom I have never said much, but have never lost sight of, & the whole of this interlude has been the result of circumstances which it may be too late to regret. – Do you suppose that at my time of life, were I so very far gone, that I should not be in Ireland or at least have followed into Wales, as it was hinted was expected – now they have crossed the channel I feel anything but regret, I told you in my two last, that I did not “like any other & c. & c.” I deceived you & myself in saying so, there was & is one whom I wished to marry, had not this affair [Lady Caroline Lamb] intervened, or had not some occurrences rather discouraged me. – 
When our Drama was “rising” (I’ll be d – d if it falls off I may say with Sir Fretful”) in the 5th act, it was no time to <tempo> hesitate, I had made up my mind, to bear ye. consequences of my own folly; honour pity, & a kind of affection all forbade me to shrink, but now if I can honorably be off, if you are not deceiving me, & if she does not take some accursed step to precipitate her own inevitable fall (if not with me, with some less lucky successor) if these impossibilities can be got over, all will be well. – If not, – she will travel. – – – As I have said so much I may as well say all – the woman I mean is Miss Milbank. 
Miss Milbank is Lady Melbourne's niece.  Byron's letter is reproduced below.

Byron to Lady Melbourne, from Cheltenham, September 13th 1812:

My dear Lady M. –  The end of Ly. B’s letter shall be the beginning of mine “for Heaven’s sake do not lose your hold on him” pray don’t – I repeat, – & assure you it is a very firm one “but the yoke is easy & the burthen is light” to use one of my scriptural phrases. – So far from being ashamed of being governed like Lord Delacour or any other Lord or master, I am always but too happy to find one to regulate or misregulate me, & I am as docile as a Dromedary & can bear almost as much. – Will you undertake me? If you are sincere (which I still a little hesitate in believing) give me but time, let hers retain her in Ireland – the “gayer” the better, I want her just to be sufficiently gay that I may have enough to bear me out on my own part, grant me but till Decr. & if I do not disenchant the Dulcinea & Don Quichotte both, – then I must attack the Windmills, & leave the land in quest of adventures. – 

In the mean time I must & do write the greatest absurdities to keep her “gay” & the more so because ye. last epistle informed me that “8 guineas a mail & a packet could soon bring her to London” a threat which immediately called forth a letter worthy of the Grand Cyrus or the Duke of York, or any other hero of Madame Scudery or Mrs. Clarke. – – Poor Ly. B! with her hopes & her fears; in fact it is no jest for her – or indeed any of us; I must let you into one little secret, her folly half did this, at ye. commencement she piqued that “vanity” (which it would be the vainest thing on earth to deny) by telling me she was certain “I was not beloved,” that I was only led on for the sake of & c . & c.” this raised a devil between us which now will {only} be laid I do really believe in the Red sea, I made no answer, but determined not to pursue, for pursuit it was not – but to sit still, and – in a week after I was convinced – not that —— loved me – for I do not believe in the existence of what is called Love but that any other man in my situation would have believed that he was loved. – 

Now my dear Ly. M. you are all out as to my real sentiments – I was, am, & shall be I fear attached to another, one to whom I have never said much, but have never lost sight of, & the whole of this interlude has been the result of circumstances which it may be too late to regret. – – Do you suppose that at my time of life, were I so very far gone, that I should not be in Ireland or at least have followed into Wales, as it was hinted was expected – now they have crossed the channel I feel anything but regret, I told you in my two last, that I did not “like any other & c. & c.” I deceived you & myself in saying so, there was & is one whom I wished to marry, had not this affair intervened, or had not some occurrences rather discouraged me. – 

When our Drama was “rising” (I’ll be d – d if it falls off I may say with Sir Fretful”) in the 5th act, it was no time to <tempo> hesitate, I had made up my mind, to bear ye. consequences of my own folly; honour pity, & a kind of affection all forbade me to shrink, but now if I can honorably be off, if you are not deceiving me, & if she does not take some accursed step to precipitate her own inevitable fall (if not with me, with some less lucky successor) if these impossibilities can be got over, all will be well. – If not, – she will travel. – – – As I have said so much I may as well say all – the woman I mean is Miss Milbank – I know nothing of her fortune, & I am told that her father is ruined, but my own will when my Rochdale arrangements are closed, be sufficient for both, my debts are not 25000 p d .s & the deuce is in it, if with R. & the surplus of N. I could not contrive to be as independent as half the peerage. – <But> I know little of her, & have not the most distant reason to suppose that I am at all a favourite in that quarter, but I never saw a woman whom I esteemed so much. – But that chance is gone – and there’s an end. – Now – my dear Ly. M. I am completely in your power, I have not deceived you; as to —— I hope you will not deem it vanity – when I soberly say – that it would have been want of Gallantry – though the acme of virtue – if I had played the Scipio on this occasion. – – If through your means, or any means, I can be free, or at least change my fetters, my regard & admiration would not be increased, but my gratitude would, in the mean time it is by no means unfelt for what you have already done. – To L y. B. I could not say all this, for she would with the best intentions, make the most absurd use of it; what a miserable picture does <their> {her} letter present of this daughter? she seems afraid to know her, & blind herself writes in such a manner as to open the eyes of all others. – 

I am still here, in Holland’s house, quiet & alone without any wish to add to my acquaintances, your departure was I assure you much more regretted than that of any of your lineals or collaterals, so do not you go to Ireland or I shall follow you oer “flood and fen” a complete Ignis fatuus – that is I the epithet will not apply to you, so we will divide the expression you would be the light & I the fool. –  

I send you back the letter, & this fearful ream of my own. – C — is suspicious about our counter plots, & I am obliged to be as treacherous as Talleyrand, but remember that treachery is truth to you; I write as rarely as I can, but when I do, I must lie like George Rose, your name I never mention when I can help it; & all my amatory tropes & figures are exhausted – I have a glimmering of hope, I had lost it, it is renewed – all depends on it, her worst enemy could not wish her such a fate as now to be thrown back upon me. – yrs. ever most {truly} BN 


[on inside of envelope:] 
P.S. – Dear Ly. M. – Dont think me careless, my correspondence since I was sixteen has not been of a nature to allow of any trust except to a Lock & key, & I have of late been doubly guarded – the few letters of yrs. & all others in case of the worst shall be sent back or burnt, surely after returning the one with Mr. L’s message, you will hardly suspect me of wishing to take any advantage, that was the only important one in <my> behalf of my own interests; – think me bad if you please, but not meanly so.
<There is my own> L

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