Byron, “To His Wife After the Separation”

I have to acknowledge the receipt of “Ada’s hair,” which is very soft and pretty and nearly as dark already as mine was at twelve years old, if I may judge from what I recollect of some in Augusta’s possession taken at that age. But it don’t curl perhaps from it being let grow.

I also thank you for the inscription of the date and the name, and I will tell you why: I believe they are the only two or three words of your handwriting in my possession. For your letters I returned and except the two words, or rather the one word, “household” written twice in an old account book, I have no other. I burned your last note for two reasons: firstly, it was written in a style not very agreeable; and secondly, I wish to take your word without documents, which are the worldly resources of suspicious people. I suppose that this note will reach you somewhere about Ada’s birthday—the 10th of December, I believe. She will then be six, so that in about twelve more I shall have some chance of meeting her; perhaps sooner if I am obliged to go to England by business or otherwise. Recollect, however, one thing either in distance or nearness; every day that keeps us asunder should after so long a period rather soften our mutual feelings, which must always have one rallying point so long as our child exists, which I presume we both hope will be long after either of her parents.

The time which has elapsed since our separation has been considerably more than the whole brief period of our union, and the not much longer one of our prior acquaintance. We both made a bitter mistake, but now it is over and irrevocably so. For, at thirty-three on my part, and a few years less on yours, tho it is no very extended period of life, still it is one when the habits and thought are generally so formed as to admit of no modification; and as we could not agree while young, we should with difficulty do so now.

I say all this because I own to you, that, notwithstanding everything, I considered our union as not impossible for more than a year after the separation; but then I gave up the hope entirely and forever. But the very impossibility of reunion seems to me at least a reason why, on all the few points of discussion which can arise between us, we should preserve the courtesies of life, and as much of its kindness as people who are never to meet may preserve perhaps more easily than nearer connections. For my own part, I am violent but not malignant; for only fresh provocation can awaken my resentment. To you, who are colder and more concentrated, I would just hint that you may sometimes mistake the depth of a cold anger for dignity and a worse feeling for duty. I assure you that bear you now (whatever I may have done) no resentment whatever. Remember, that if you have injured me in aught, the forgiveness is something; and that if I have injured you it is something more still, if it be true, as the moralists say, that the most offending are the least forgiving.

Whether the offense has been solely on my side, or reciprocal, or on yours chiefly, I have ceased to reflect upon any but two things, viz., that you are the mother of my child, and that we shall never meet again. I think if you also consider the two corresponding points with reference to myself, it will be better for all three.

Yours ever,

Noel Byron.