The accolade of the most romantic, undiscovered love letter ever written has been awarded today to the late Charles Baylis Burgess (17 January 1850 - December 8th 1872). Born in Northamptonshire in the UK, Charles penned a heartfelt poem for his beloved wife, Elizabeth Morgan, on August 20th 1872, shortly before dying of tuberculosis (at the tender age of 22). Our love letter competition aimed to celebrate family love and ancestral romances on Valentine’s Day 2011; with one of the UK’s best-selling authors, Wendy Holden (author of Filthy Rich, Beautiful People and Gallery Girl), acting as judge. Ancestral romances, often illustrated in love letters, are a critical point in every family’s history.
The letter was submitted by his great-great-granddaughter, Paula Green. Over 200 hundred people scoured their attics and family archives to enter this unique competition, and a selection of the best examples that span the centuries can also be read at http://www.myheritage.com/loveletters, while the full transcript of Charles’s romantic effort can be read below.
The letter includes romantic references such as "While on our little babe I gaze, as a fond father ought to do, my heart is filled with inward praise to think that I am loved by you." And "My dear from you I soon must part, and all the friends I love, but joyful thoughts do fill my heart, that we can meet above."
LINES ADDRESSED TO MY WIFE
CHARLES BAYLIS BURGESS
WHILE GAZING ON MY FEEBLE FRAME,
MY MIND IS FILLED WITH THOUGHTS OF THEE
NOT THOUGHTS THAT FILL MY MIND WITH SHAME
BUT WHAT MY FUTURE LOT WILL BE.
THOU KNOWEST SOON THAT I MUST DIE,
THAT YOU MUST PART WITH HIM YOU LOVE;
AND IN THE TOMB MUST SHORTLY LIE
THE ONE YOU NOW CALL YOUR DOVE
WHEN E'ER THAT HAPPY CHANGE DOTH COME
THAT I'M RELEASED FROM ALL MY PAIN
I SHALL NOT GRIEVE TO LEAVE THIS HOME
BUT I THINK FOR ME TO DIE IS GAIN.
FOR IN THIS WORLD THERE IS NOT FOUND
NOTHING BUT DOUBTS AND TRIALS AND FEARS,
BUT WHEN I'M LOWERED IN THE GROUND
YOU'LL SEE IT BUT WITH PAINFULL TEARS.
MY DARLING WIFE DO NOT REPINE
THOUGH HARD HATH BEEN OUR EARTHLY LOT,
LOOK UP TO HIM WHO PROMISED WINE
FOR THOSE WHO DO, FORSAKE HIM NOT.
YOUR BREAD AND WATER WILL BE SURE
AND GOD TO YOU WILL BE A FRIEND,
THEN WHY MY DEAR LOOK SO DEMURE
WHILE ON YOUR GOD YOU MAY DEPEND.
SOMETIMES TO MEMORY, MY LOT SEEMS HARD
BUT THEN I KNOW IT IS GODS WILL
THOU KNOWEST MY HAPPINESS IS MARRED
BY PERSONS WHO DO WISH ME ILL.
JUST FOURTEEN WEEKS I IN BED
HAVE BEEN A CONSTANT GUEST,
AND OH, WHAT THOUGHTS HAVE FILLED MY HEAD
WHEN I COULD GET NO REST.
THOU KNOWEST WELL THAT I'M RESIGNED,
AND GOD HAS PARDONED ALL MY SINS.
I LOOK TO HIM WHO CURED THE BLIND
TO HIM WHO LOVES OUR HEART TO WIN.
TO LEAVE THEE DEAREST, THAT WILL BE MY GRIEF
WHEN I DO COME TO DIE:
BUT SOON MY SAVIOUR I SHALL SEE
AND GOD WHO HEARS THE ORPHANS CRY.
I KNOW IT'S HARD FOR YOU TO LOOK
UPON MY FRAME OF BONES;
WHY HAS MY FLESH, MY BONES FORSOOK,
AND WHY MY FEEBLE GROANS?
THOUGH GOD AFFLICTS AND CASTS US DOWN
WE MUST NOT MOURN OR FRET;
BUT THINK IN HEAVEN THERE IS A CROWN,
AND GOD WON'T US FORGET.
WHILE ON OUR LITTLE BABE I GAZE
AS A FOND FATHER OUGHT TO DO,
MY HEART IS FILLED WITH INWARD PRAISE
TO THINK I AM SO LOVED BY YOU.
HER PRATTLING WAYS MY SPIRIT CHEER
WHEN I FEEL WEARY AND DOWNCAST;
THERE'S NOUGHT BUT TROUBLE FOR US HERE,
SO ON YOUR GOD YOUR BURDEN CAST.
MY DARLING WIFE I DO THANK THEE
AND LOVE YOU WHILE MY BREATH DOTH LAST,
FOR ALL THE KINDNESS YOU HAVE SHOWN ME
SINCE ON MY BED I HAVE BEEN CAST.
LITTLE WE THOUGHT WHEN WE WERE WED
WHEN ALL WAS BLITHE AND GAY
THAT GOD WHO OUR BODIES FED,
WOULD THUS CALL ME AWAY.
TEACH OUR DEAR CHILD TO LOVE THE LORD
WHO BLESSES SUCH ONES AS SHE
TEACH HER TO READ HIS HOLY WORD,
THEN HAPPY SHE WILL BE.
MY DEAR FROM YOU I SOON MUST PART,
AND ALL THE FRIENDS I LOVE,
BUT JOYFUL THOUGHTS DO FILL MY HEART
THAT WE CAN MEET ABOVE.
HOW SWEET FOR US TO KNOW WE MAY
MEET ALL OUR FRIENDS IN HEAVEN,
TO KNOW THAT CHRIST, HE IS THE WAY
BY WHICH FORGIVEN.
AUGUST 20th 1872
We send thanks all those who took part in this competition and also to Wendy Holden, our competition judge, for her time.