Lady Charlotte Susan Maria Bury: The Three Great Sanctuaries of Tuscany, Valombrosa, Camaldoli, Laverna; a poem, with historical and legendary notices. London: John Murray, 1833. WPRP 100.
Following the death of her second husband, the Rev’d Edward John Bury (rector of Litchfield, Hampshire), Lady Charlotte Susan Maria Bury (1775–1861) published The Three Great Sanctuaries of Tuscany (1833), a poem dedicated to her late husband that describes three Tuscan monastic communities. It is illustrated with scenes originally drawn by her husband and embellished in full-page mezzotint engravings by Thomas Goff Lupton (Boase, Perkins; Forrester, ODNB). The dramatic chiaroscuro of the mezzotints as well as the significant size and weight of this volume—proportioned like a coffee-table book—make it possible to interpret this object as a bibliographical monument to the late Rev. Bury’s memory.
Charlotte Bury served as a lady-in-waiting in the household of the princess of Wales (later Queen Caroline), a position that provided fodder for her diary entries that noted the “foibles and failings” of those at court (Boase, Perkins, ODNB). Bury, whose literary circle included Sir Walter Scott and novelist Susan Ferrier, also published a serial novel called Self-Indulgence; a tale of the nineteenth century (1812) and a collection of prayers called Suspira santorum, or, Holy Breathings (1826).
Of Valombrosa, Bury writes:
In Tuscan climes, in scenes so fair to range,
‘Mid luscious odours and voluptuous strains,
Shall shrinking Virtue fear? No! chance or change
From outward things the upright mind disdains –
From its proud height looks down on Pleasure’s chains,
Beholds unoved Vice spread th’insidious snare,
Ane roams through Zembla’s snow, through Ganges’ plans,
In innocence secure, like Milton’s fair,
Who passed through spells unhurt, and fled the wizard’s lair. (36)
This book can be viewed in its entirety courtesy of the CU Digital Library here.