Lady Caroline Lamb amused me very much by her attempted quotations from Julius Caesar which I imagine she knew nothing of till she saw it acted… I was not pleased with William Lamb’s manners, which I think very consequential…
On Sunday March 15, Annabella having dined at Melbourne House and with no allusion to either the fashions worn nor to the food enjoyed – she treated her mother with observations on the character of her cousin by marriage, Lady Caroline Lamb.
Ly Caroline has asked me to a party at her house on Thursday, not a very numerous one, and she told me with more consideration than I should have expected from her character that Lady Holland would be one of her company, and she thought it right to mention this, as you were absent, lest I might inadvertently be led to do what you would not approve….
If I am asked to be introduced to Lady Holland’s acquaintance, I shall certainly decline, but I think you will agree with me that no one will regard me as corrupted by being in the room with her…
Lady Holland’s great ‘crime’ was to have been divorced, otherwise known as a ‘common Woman’ and someone whom Judith Milbanke certainly did not approve of!
Lady Melbourne was very kind and seemed really anxious to promote my wishes, but nobody appears more sincerely friendly than Mrs. Lamb. Indeed I think her too kind-hearted to be quite fashionable…
For despite this missive of reassurance to her ‘Mam’ and with Judith’s vocal dislike for her sister-at-law, it’s probable she would not have been impressed with Lady M’s solicitude towards her ‘barley-sugar’ daughter.
In 1816 after Annabella’s marriage to Byron had imploded and Judith came out fighting to protect her daughter’s interests in the separation proceedings; she would soon have cause to regret Lady Melbourne’s ‘anxious promotion’ of her daughter’s wishes throughout that heady Season of 1812.
Well, honour is the subject of my story.
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life: but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself…
Lord Byron’s Wife Malcolm Elwin (London: John Murray 1962)
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Plays and Poetry (Flame Tree Publishing 2011)