The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 3/Lines to a Lady weeping
H.R.H. The Princess Charlotte of Wales
from a miniature in the possession of H.M. The Queen at Windsor Castle.
Weep, daughter of a royal line,
A Sire's disgrace, a realm's decay;
Ah! happy if each tear of thine
Could wash a Father's fault away!
Weep—for thy tears are Virtue's tears—
Auspicious to these suffering Isles;
And be each drop in future years
Repaid thee by thy People's smiles!
[MS. M. First published, Morning Chronicle, March 7, 1812
(Corsair, 1814, Second Edition).]
- Sympathetic Address to a Young Lady.—[Morning Chronicle, March 7, 1812.]
- [The scene which begat these memorable stanzas was enacted at a banquet at Carlton House, February 22, 1812. On March 6 the following quatrain, entitled, "Impromptu on a Recent Incident," appeared in the Morning Chronicle:—
"Blest omens of a happy reign,
In swift succession hourly rise,
Forsaken friends, vows made in vain—
A daughter's tears, a nation's sighs."
Byron's lines, headed, "Sympathetic Address to a Young Lady," were published anonymously in the Morning Chronicle of March 7, but it was not till March 10 that the Courier ventured to insert a report of "The Fracas at Carlton House on the 22nd ult.," which had already been communicated to the Caledonian Mercury.
"The party consisted of the Princess Charlotte, the Duchess of York, the Dukes of York and Cambridge, Lords Moira, Erskine, Lauderdale, Messrs. Adams and Sheridan.
"The Prince Regent expressed 'his surprise and mortification' at the conduct of Lords Grey and Grenville [who had replied unfavourably to a letter addressed by the P.R. to the Duke of York, suggesting an united administration]. Lord Lauderdale thereupon, with a freedom unusual in courts, asserted that the reply did not express the opinions of Lords Grey and Grenville only, but of every political friend of that way of thinking, and that he had been present at and assisted in the drawing-up, and that every sentence had his cordial assent. The Prince was suddenly and deeply affected by Lord Lauderdale's reply, so much so, that the Princess, observing his agitation, dropt her head and burst into tears—upon which the Prince turned round and begged the female part of the company to withdraw."
In the following June, at a ball at Miss Johnson's, Byron was "presented by order to our gracious Regent, who honoured me with some conversation," and for a time he ignored and perhaps regretted his anonymous jeu d' esprit. But early in 1814, either out of mere bravado or in an access of political rancour, he determined to republish the stanzas under his own name. The first edition of the Corsair was printed, it not published, but in accordance with a peremptory direction (January 22, 1814), "eight lines on the little Royalty weeping in 1812," were included among the poems printed at the end of the second edition.
The "newspapers were in hysterics and town in an uproar on the avowal and republication" of the stanzas (Diary, February 18), and during Byron's absence from town "Murray omitted the Tears in several of the copies"—that is, in the Third Edition—but yielding to force majeure, replaced them in a Fourth Edition, which was issued early in February. (See Letters of July 6, 1812, January 22, February 2, and February 10, 1814 (Letters, 1898, ii. 134, etc.); and for "Newspaper Attacks upon Byron," see Letters, 1898, ii. Appendix VII. pp. 463-492.)]