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Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

1808–1877

Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton was born in London, England, on March 22, 1808. Her grandfather, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, was a distinguished dramatist, and her mother was a novelist. She attended boarding school in Surrey, and at age nineteen, she married George Chapple Norton, a barrister.

Unhappy in her marriage and in need of money, Norton began writing and publishing poetry. Her first book, The Sorrows of Rosalie: A Tale with Other Poems (John Ebors and Co., 1829), was published in 1829. This was followed by several other poetry collections, including The Lady of la Garaye (Macmillan, 1866), The Dream, and Other Poems (Henry Colburn, 1840), and A Voice From the Factories (John Murray, 1836). She also served as an editor of the magazine La Belle Assemblée.

While Norton is known for her poetry, she is also remembered for her involvement in a political scandal and her subsequent political influence. Accused by her husband of an adulterous affair with the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, she fell in social status and lost custody of her children. As a result, she became involved in women’s rights and helped influence the 1839 Infant Custody Bill and the Marriage and Divorce Act of 1857.

George Norton died in 1875, and Caroline went on to marry Sir William Stirling-Maxwell. She died on June 15, 1877.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
The Lady of la Garaye (Macmillan, 1866)
The Child of the Islands (Chapman and Hall, 1846)
The Dream, and Other Poems (Henry Colburn, 1840)
A Voice From the Factories (John Murray, 1836)
The Undying One and Other Poems (Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830)
The Sorrows of Rosalie: A Tale with Other Poems (John Ebors and Co., 1829)

Prose
Old Sir Douglas (Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1868)
Stuart of Dunleath: A Story of Modern Times (Colburn and Co., 1851)
Letters to the Mob (Thomas Bosworth, 1848)

By This Poet

4

I Do Not Love Thee

I do not love thee!—no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
   And envy even the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.

I do not love thee!—yet, I know not why,
Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:
   And often in my solitude I sigh
That those I do love are not more like thee!

I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone,
I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)
   Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone
Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.

I do not love thee!—yet thy speaking eyes,
With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue,
   Between me and the midnight heaven arise,
Oftener than any eyes I ever knew.

I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
   And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.

Love Not

  Love not, love not! ye hapless sons of clay!  
Hope's gayest wreaths are made of earthly flowers—  
Things that are made to fade and fall away  
Ere they have blossom'd for a few short hours.  
        Love not!
  
Love not! the thing ye love may change:  
The rosy lip may cease to smile on you,  
The kindly-beaming eye grow cold and strange,  
The heart still warmly beat, yet not be true.  
        Love not!
  
Love not! the thing you love may die,  
May perish from the gay and gladsome earth;  
The silent stars, the blue and smiling sky,  
Beam o'er its grave, as once upon its birth.  
        Love not!
  
Love not! oh warning vainly said  
In present hours as in the years gone by;  
Love flings a halo round the dear ones' head,  
Faultless, immortal, till they change or die,  
        Love not!

We Have Been Friends Together

We have been friends together,  
  In sunshine and in shade;  
Since first beneath the chestnut-trees  
  In infancy we played.  
But coldness dwells within thy heart,
  A cloud is on thy brow;  
We have been friends together—  
  Shall a light word part us now?  
  
We have been gay together;  
  We have laugh'd at little jests;
For the fount of hope was gushing  
  Warm and joyous in our breasts.  
But laughter now hath fled thy lip,  
  And sullen glooms thy brow;  
We have been gay together—
  Shall a light word part us now?  
  
We have been sad together,  
  We have wept, with bitter tears,  
O'er the grass-grown graves, where slumber'd  
  The hopes of early years.
The voices which are silent there  
  Would bid thee clear thy brow;  
We have been sad together—  
  Oh! what shall part us now?