Pages

September 3 1812: A Young Woman Writes to Byron



On September 3, 1812, an "inexperienced young Woman" known only as Anna writes to Lord Byron a fan letter. The writer has been moved by Byron' Childe Harold, which she  identifies as being Byron himself. "My Lord, I have been indebted to your muse," she writes, "for soothing & interesting some of my Saddest hours, I have wept over Child Harold’s griefs & sympathized in his wrongs. I would have rejoiced when he rejoiced but there seems no joy for him in this World." She is concerned that Byron may leave England so she pleads that he not let the "perfidy & ingratitude of a few" drive him away. She writes:
...Steel your bosom against your erring brethren in general. do not my Lord, if I may entreat you, suffer your mind to be so affected by those evil Spirits who have been the cause of your sufferings, as to think of with drawing {which I have heard was in your thoughts} yourself from your native Land, from that Land which once was dear to you, from that Country which proudly owns you for one of her most favor’d Sons, & of which you were formed to be the ornament & the pride. 
The letter is reproduced below is taken from Peter Cochran's invaluable site.


“Anna” to Byron, September 3rd 1812: 
[Lord Byron / Cheltenham]

My Lord, Tho I have not the honor of being personally known to you, I yet venture to address you; tho, I cannot offer any other excuse for the Liberty I take, if the irresistible desire I feel of thus (unknown) paying my humble tribute at the Shrine of Genius, be not deemd any apology. My Lord, I have been indebted to your muse, for soothing & interesting some of my Saddest hours, I have wept over Child Harold’s griefs & sympathized in his wrongs. I would have rejoiced when he rejoiced but there seems no joy for him in this World. Often have I wandered in these gardens with your poem for my Companion & “with thee, conversing have forgot all time”. I have hung in rapt attention over every Line of Child Harold, I am not a Critic but an inexperienced young Woman, but the language of genius & of nature must be felt & never makes its appeal in Vain to my heart. & who can read those lines unmov’d, those beautiful lines to Thyrza particularly, who! without feeling the tenderest compassion for their unhappy author & indignation against those wicked people who (as I have heard) have by their treacheries & injuries, thrown as misanthropic gloom, over so noble & so great a Mind, a Mind which I am sure, was form’d by nature to be the delight & comfort of private & Social Life, as much as it ever shines conspicuous in the World of Talent. I have often remarkd with pleasure occasional, (tho, evidently sought to be supprest) traits of tenderness & warm affection, bursting thro, the gloom, which too generally pervades your poem. he must surely feel affection & kindness who could excite them so strongly in others who could soften even the rugged Albanian & melt him into tears. Cherish these kinder feelings My Lord, & let Not the perfidy & ingratitude of a few, tho hard to bear I know, Steel your bosom against your erring brethren in general. do not my Lord, if I may entreat you, suffer your mind to be so affected by those evil Spirits who have been the cause of your sufferings, as to think of with drawing {which I have heard was in your thoughts} yourself from your native Land, from that Land which once was dear to you, from that Country which proudly owns you for one of her most favor’d Sons, & of which you were formed to be the ornament & the pride. remember that your talents were not given you for yourself alone, & that you must account for them hereafter. think not that it is because I cannot feel for your wrongs, I know they have been great or that I do not sympathize with you, because I am so earnest on this subject, I do most deeply enter into your feelings, peculiarly so perhaps because I have felt the same {cause} in some respects, to despair. I know that “Sorrow is a sacred thing”, my Lord I have known what it is to lose those we love.         Mine was the task To watch my drooping flowers, to mark the rapid changes of decay 

 Anxious, to look for each succeeding Morn 
 Tho, deeper sorrow clos’d the parting day 
 And when of every lingering hope bereft 
 With trembling anguish o’er her Couch I hung 
 ’Twas mine, with smiles, to hide a bursting heart 
 & force to words of joy a faltering tongue 

At length ’twas o’er, the lovely Victim sunk 
 Unconscious sunk, beneath the unfelt blow, 
 Unchang’d by pain her angel face remain’d, 
 And death sat smiling on her placid brow 

 The heartfelt pangs of life’s last Scene were mine, 
 Her gentle Soul, no parting anguish knew, 
 And with one Sigh its mortal bonds dissolv’d 
 Back to its native heaven’s unfetter’d flow. 

 But tho ascended like the ethereal flame, 
 To lights blest source, the Bosom of her God, 
 Still like an angel, may she view my tears, 
 With tender pity, from her blest abode. 

 When round our hearth, we weep her vacant place 
 Her gentle Spirit, still may near us dwell 
 Still, tho unseen, beside us may she walk, 
 Now guarding those, whom here she lov’d so well. 

These lines, are part of some compos’d at a time, [ms tear] after, When suffering under the Severe afflictions to [ms tear] relate & of which the deep & sad remembrance still unnerves my frame, & has darken’d the morning of my life. alas I grieve to say, that at a time when I so much wanted consolation, I experienced the most cruel indifference to my griefs from one who, I had a right to expect, should have wiped away my tears or wept with me - 

“before the Chastner humbly let me bow” 
“our hearth divided and our hopes destroyed.” 

enough I have now fulfilled the principal object of my letter which was may I venture to say it, to entreat you not to leave your Native Country & waste your precious days, in Solitude & perhaps despondency. & tho, I may be thought enthusiastic & Visionary, still I feel gratified, that I have done my part, all I could do, & tho, I have not the vain presumption to think, that what I can say, has anyweight with you, my Lord, still I was never easy till I had performd this task till I had pour’d forth my heart before you, & only entreat that you will not show a letter to any one, Spare me & let it sink in oblivion, perhaps this, I sometimes think, which was written in the fullness of my heart may be an object of contempt & ridicule to you, however I shall not witness what would be, to me, a cruel mortification, 

 “L’error d’un infelice e degno di pieta 
 May God ever bless & protect you, Lord Byron 

Anna 
Kensington Palace 




No comments:

Post a comment