Transcription Tuesday XIII: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage – There is pleasure in the pathless woods

Ariana Malthaner

Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage is a four part poem detailing the adventures of Harold throughout Europe. Isabella Woods appears to have had a particular affinity for this poem, as she preserved multiple stanzas in her autograph book.

All four of the ones we are to look at in the coming weeks are from Canto IV, which follow Harold through Italy. Perhaps this was the only canto Isabella had access to, or perhaps she had a particular affinity for Italy, or perhaps this canto in particular just happened to be her favourite. Unfortunately, we may never know.

This first stanza that we have below also contains a brief note, slightly to the left. It is unclear as to its purpose, as it seems somewhat detached from the stanza itself but is written just slightly under it.

This note reads ‘F. Ew. Bayfield 7th Febr./72’. This does not appear to be the signature of the writer, as the handwriting is consistent with numerous other passages throughout the autograph book and unless we are to assume that Bayfield (if that is indeed their name) wrote all of the passages we had previously attributed to Isabella, it doesn’t seem reasonable to posit this is our scribe here.

Instead, potentially, Bayfield is a location and this is a brief reminder from Isabella about a pressing engagement.

Unfortunately, we may never know!

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Canto IV CLXXVIII

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society, where none intrudes

By the deep sea, and music in its roar;

I love not man the less, but nature more,

From these our interviews, in which I steal

From all I may be, or have been before,

To mingle with the universe, and feel

What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal

F. EW. Bayfield 7th Febr-/72-