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Mistress of all she surveys
Sep 7, 2018
I became acquainted with this sonnet while researching my alternate history set in the world of Edwardian and WWI-era British politics. Prime Minister H.H. Asquith used it as a leitmotif of sorts in his letters to his aristocratic young petite amie, Venetia Stanley. Here it is:

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,

As to behold desert a beggar born,

And needy nothing trimmed in jollity,

And purest faith unhappily forsworn,

And gilded honour shamefully misplaced,

And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,

And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,

And strength by limping sway disabled,

And art made tongue-tied by authority,

And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill,

And simple truth miscalled simplicity,

And captive good attending captain ill:

Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,

Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.
Me again. When I read Sonnet 66 (which Asquith referred to as "our Sonnet" to Venetia), I wondered why the most powerful man in what was then (1914-1915) the most powerful nation in the world felt so helpless. It is a lovely sonnet, but ominous. If he did not think that he could change the world for the better to a significant extent, and wished himself dead (and would indeed die, except for the love he had for Venetia), then just who could change the world for the better? Perhaps wartime prime ministers should not be thinking that if not for the love of a beloved, one would much rather die (or let’s put it more clearly: kill oneself).

Yes, I can imagine that if the newspaper publisher Lord Northcliffe had published Asquith’s letters to Venetia Stanley in May 1915 (as I posit in my story), it would have been as easy as pie for David Lloyd George to encourage Asquith to ctb, especially if Asquith's wife Margot and Asquith's children who were still dependents would have been well provided for in the circumstances (and would not be provided for if Asquith had decided to live). In fact, I am a little surprised that Asquith died of natural causes in 1928, years after he was forced to resign as Prime Minister.


Dec 28, 2019
Such a beautiful sonnet, but then again, they all are.

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry. (...)
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

These lines were written 500 years ago. Do they not strike a cord? Are they not eerily familiar? How many posts haven’t we had on SS about the wish to CTB versus the fear of hurting loved one?

These questions are as old as the hills. They keep coming back...
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