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October 20 1812: Lord Byron and Lady Oxford


On October 20, 1812, Lord Byron continues his correspondence with Lady Melbourne with respect to Annabella. Byron also lets Lady Melbourne know that he has moved on and is having an affair with Lady Oxford. Byron writes:
I mean (entre nous my dear Machiavel) to play off Ly. O against her, who would have no objection perchance, but she dreads her scenes, & has asked me not to mention that we have met to C. – or that I am going to E. – where by the bye I am not sure that I am going. – – In short if not by yourself – cannot any of your friends intimate or subordinate “varnish this tale of truth” for her, if it was a fiction there would be no difficulty, but certainly truth is an Artichoke particularly to her. – Not a word of Ly. O. for the present to C. & certainly to no one else. – When C. returns she will commence some furious flirtation elsewhere which will give me the opportunity of breaking at once.
Lady Oxford at 40 is 16 years older than Byron at 24. He will spend most of November at Eywood with her.

Byron's letter is reproduced below.
As Byron to Lady Melbourne, from Cheltenham, October 20th 1812: 
Cheltenham Octr. 20th. 1812 
My dear Ly. M. –  Tell A. that I am more proud of her rejection than I can ever be of another’s acceptance, this sounds rather equivocal, but if she takes it in the sense I mean it & you don’t blunder it in the delivery with one of your wicked laughs, it will do for want of something better. – It merely [means] that the hope of obtaining her (or any body else – but skip this parenthesis) was more pleasing than the possession of St. Ursula & the 11000 virgins (being a greater number than have ever since existed at the same time in that capacity) could possibly have been to her “disconsolate & unmathematical admirer, X. Y. Z. – – – 

“Not a word to C[aroline] !” as you please. – I, who do not write at all am in no danger of betraying our conspiracies. – I am not sorry to hear that she has written to a “Man” or “waltzed” because both were in the Articles, of which I must take advantage at the proper time for the infringement & be angry enough to make a decent quarrel or rather defence when she falls upon me which she shall not if I can keep out of the way. – My terrific projects amount to this – to remain on good terms with Ly Cowper – & MrsLamb – & on the best terms with you being the three pleasantest persons in very different ways with whom I am acquainted, & to be as quiet or cool with C. – as a mere common acquaintance as my wish to retain your intimacy will permit, if not & I must quarrel with one of the parties it shall certainly be with her, & indeed I should prefer it at once on every account; I am sick & annoyed with the connection. I fear A. is right that I cannot be indifferent – but change from love “to hate with the bitterest contempt.” – Believe me I would not give up your friendship & that of three or four rational beings for five thousand Carolines were each five thousand times more perfect than she is the reverse. – What can I say or write to her? it will answer no end, I shall be bored with reproaches exclamation declamation defamation & perhaps she may set off to display a vindication in person. – I mean (entre nous my dear Machiavel) to play off Ly. O against her, who would have no objection perchance, but she dreads her scenes, & has asked me not to mention that we have met to C. – or that I am going to E. – where by the bye I am not sure that I am going. – – In short if not by yourself – cannot any of your friends intimate or subordinate “varnish this tale of truth” for her, if it was a fiction there would be no difficulty, but certainly truth is an Artichoke particularly to her. – Not a word of Ly. O. for the present to C. & certainly to no one else. – When C. returns she will commence some furious flirtation elsewhere which will give me the opportunity of breaking at once. – Perhaps Dublin has done it already. – Write to me & believe that whatever I am to A. B. C. &c. I am ever yours most affectionately 
& sincerely 
       
 BN  
   
P.S. – My Love to Ld. M. 

P.S. – Thanks for your “Examiner” Hunt is a clever man & I should like to know his opinion – pray send it, it will be very acceptable. – I shall return it faithfully if required. –

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