A prayer for a child, by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

A poem written by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, about the child (by her lover Charles Grey) she was forced to give up. Yes, Georgiana was a writer too, though it is easy to overlook it if you limit yourself to the film The Duchess.

Unhappy child of indiscretion,
poor slumberer on a breast forlorn
pledge of reproof of past transgression
Dear tho’ unfortunate to be born.

For thee a suppliant wish addressing
To Heaven thy mother fain would dare
But conscious blushes stain the blessing
And sighs suppress my broken prayer.

But spite of these my mind unshaken
In present duty turns to thee
Tho’ long repented ne’er forgotten
Thy days shalllov’ d and guarded be.

And should th’ungenerous world upbraid thee
for mine and for thy father’s ill
A nameless mother oft shall assist thee
A hand unseen protect thee still.

And tho’ to rank and wealth a stranger
Thy life a humble course must run
Soon shalt thou learn to fly the danger
Which I too late have learnt to shun.

Meanwhile in these sequestered vallies
Here may’st thou live in safe content
For innocence may smile at malice
And thou-Oh! Thou art innocent.

Georgiana Duchess Devonshire Reynolds

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7 Comments to “A prayer for a child, by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire”

  1. Jessica says:

    It is upsetting and beautiful.
    I read it over again.

  2. Catherine Delors says:

    I gather, Lily, that you are no fan of the Spencers. Neither am I, except that I do like Georgiana.

  3. Lily says:

    She made a choice. Typical Spencer/Churchill, abandoning one’s child for cold hard cash. Her great-grandfather was a self-serving gigolo who sold out his own King and country for his own gain, so I’m not surprised his descendents turned out so self-absorbed.
    Georgiana at least had a heart, I would say. Her sister, a silly “hack whore”, as Byron called her, interbred HER own daughter with disasterous consequences.

  4. Catherine Delors says:

    Very true, Felio. Men and women in the 18th century did not express themselves in a sentimental fashion towards their children, but parental love and caring were there.

  5. Catherine Delors says:

    Felio – Very true. Men and women in the 18th century did not express
    themselves in a sentimental fashion towards their children, but
    parental love and caring were there.

    Elena – I thought so too. I just saw the film tonight and will post a review shortly. Sadly the screenplay totally forgot that Georgiana was a writer too.

  6. Really beautiful and utterly heartbreaking, knowing the circumstances.

  7. Felio Vasa says:

    How beautifully sad. It’s really interesting to me how these aristocratic women (even men-Louis XV) loved their children & understood & felt a bond that was greater than duty.
    In this line she fully grasps the idea of fate.
    “Dear tho’ unfortunate to be born.”
    See it goes to show you just because you are born into a family with title, prestige and money it isn’t always so simple & easy.

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