"On the Death of the Princess Charlotte."
by Anna Lætitia Barbauld (1743 - 1825)
First Publication: The Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year 1818. (1819, ed. John Aikin) London: W. Otridge et al, p. 612, titled "Elegy" and signed Mrs. B__d.
This Edition: The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld, with a Memoir by Lucy Aikin. London: Longman, 1825. I:281-282.
On the Death of the Princess Charlotte
Yes Britain mourns, as with electric touch
For youth, for love, for happiness destroyed.
Her universal population melts
In grief spontaneous; and hard hearts are moved,
And rough unpolished natures learn to feel
For those they envied, levelled in the dust
By fate's impartial stroke; and pulpits sound
With vanity and woe to earthly goods,
And urge, and dry the tear–Yet one there is
Who midst this general burst of grief remains
In strange tranquillity; whom not the stir
And long drawn murmurs of the gathering crowd,
That by his very windows trail the pomp
Of hearse, and blazoned arms, and long array
Of sad funereal rites, nor the loud groans
And deep felt anguish of a husband's heart
Can move to mingle with this flood one tear.
In careless apathy–perhaps in mirth
He wears the day. Yet is he near in blood,
The very stem on which this blossom grew,
And at his knees she fondled, in the charm
And grace spontaneous, which alone belongs
To untaught infancy:–Yet O forbear
Nor deem him hard of heart, for, awful, struck
By heaven's severest visitation, sad,
Like a scathed oak amidst the forest trees
Lonely he stands; leaves bud, and shoot, and fall,
He holds no sympathy with living nature,
Or time's incessant change. Then, in this hour,
While pensive thought is busy with the woes
And restless change of poor humanity,
Think then, oh think of him, and breathe one prayer
From the full tide of sorrow spare one tear,
For him who does not weep!
- Princess Charlotte: Princess Charlotte Augusta was the daughter of the Prince Regent (later King George IV) and wife of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg. She was as strongly loved by the people of England as her father was disliked. She died on November 6th, 1817, at age 21, from complications of childbirth, after bearing a dead child. The loss of the potential queen and her heir was deeply felt. Tributes were written by a number of women poets, including Felicia Hemans as well as Anna Barbauld.