Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Doomed Love Letters and Strange Enclosures

First, illustrated, the most beautiful of the letters as an object...Caroline writing on her best paper in her best handwriting...when love was new...but foredoomed...it's all about the death of a rose...March 1812...

The rose Lord Byron gave Lady Caroline Lamb died in despite of every effort made to save it, from regret at its fallen fortunes.
an undated letter from between April and June shows Caroline in sentimental mood, but also that she was not above using Byron as an entree into the world of high literature to which she now felt, perhaps, destined
as you like curiosities, I send you a relic of Lady Caroline Ponsonby (her maiden name and maiden hair) and I request that you keep it for her sake. I saw Walter Scott last night. He did not remember me at first, I think. I much wish him to name some evening within these 14 days and will engage some persons who wish to meet him to come here. I trust you will be of that number...
anxiety is already creeping in, and is perhaps full blown trauma, when less philosophically, and far more famously than pressed flowers, in the letter of 9 August, Caroline enclosed a cutting of her pubic hair

Next to Thyrza dearest
and most faithful - God bless you
own love - ricordati di Biondetta

This is in code...lovers code...but according to Fiona MacCarthy, "Thyrza" was a boy named John Eddleston...Byron's lover in Cambridge...who had died...so Caroline is saying that she... "Biondetta"...is next to him...that is, if she knew, if he'd talked...

and we know that he must have told her something of his homosexual activity...she was going to use it against him later...

cross dressing was very much part of their relationship. Not only did she dress as a boy, she had herself painted as one...

and signed the pubic hair enclosing letter

From your wild antelope

I asked you not to send blood but yet do - because it means love, I like to have it - I cut the hair too close and bled much more than you need. Do not you the same o pray, put not scissors point near where quei capelli grow - sooner take it from the arm or wrist - pray be careful, and Byron, tell me why a few conversations with the Queen Mothers always change you. I think tou would make a bad minister and a worse ambassador. You would be always acting from pique and resentment, [then] soft words and pretty lips would make you another Duke of Buckingham. I must one night be in your arms, and now not even see you but in presence of a witness? Newstead bears your unkindness in sullen silence. I will kneel and be torn from your feet before I will give you up

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