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GEORGE GORDON, sixth Lord Byron, was descended from Richard, second Lord Byron, who succeeded his brother, John, first lord, in 1652. Richard's son, William (d. 1695), became third lord, and wrote some bad verses. By

his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Viscount Chaworth, he was father of William, fourth lord (1669-1736), gentleman of the bedchamber to Prince George of Denmark. The fourth lord was father, by his wife, Frances, daughter of Lord Berkeley of Stratton, of William, fifth Lord, John, afterwards Admiral Byron, and Isabella, wife of the fourth and mother of the fifth earl of Carlisle. The fifth lord (1722-1798) quarrelled with his cousin Mr. Chaworth (great grandson of Viscount Chaworth) at a club dinner of Nottinghamshire gentlemen, 26 Jan. 1765, and killed him after a confused scuffle in a room to which they had retired by themselves after dinner. Byron was convicted of manslaughter before the House of Lords, 16 April 1765, and, though exempted from punishment by his privilege as a peer, became a marked man. He lived in seclusion at Newstead Abbey, ill-treated his wife, was known as the "wicked lord," encumbered his estates, and made a sale of his property at Rochdale, the disputed legality of which led to a prolonged lawsuit. His children and his only grandson (son of his son by the daughter of his brother, the admiral) died before him.

Admiral Byron had two sons, John and George Anson (ancestor of the present peer), and three daughters, one


of whom became wife of her cousin, son of the fifth lord; another of Admiral Parker; the third of Colonel Leigh, by whom she was mother of another Colonel Leigh, who married his cousin, Augusta, daughter of John Byron, the admiral's eldest son. This John Byron (born 1756) was educated at Westminster, entered the guards, was known as "mad Jack," and was a handsome profligate. He seduced the Marchioness of Carmarthen, who became Baroness Conyers on the death of her father, fourth earl of Holderness. He married her (June 1779) after her divorce, and had by her in 1782 a daughter, Augusta, married to Colonel Leigh in 1807. Lady Conyers's death in France, 26 Jan. 1784, deprived her husband of an income of £4000 a year. He soon afterwards met, at Bath, a Miss Catherine Gordon of Gicht, with a fortune of £23,000, doubled by rumour. The pair were married at St. Michael's Church, Bath, 13 May 1785. John Byron took his second wife to France, squandered most of her property, and returned to England, where their only child, George Gordon, was born in Holles Street, London, 22 Jan. 1788. John Hunter saw the boy when he was born, and prescribed for the infant's feet. A malformation was caused, as Byron afterwards said, by his mother's "false delicacy.' Trelawny says that the tendo Achillis of each foot was so contracted that he could only walk on the balls of the toes, the right foot being most distorted

Parish register.

Mrs. Byron's letters in Add. MS. 31037.

and bent inwards. Injudicious treatment increased the mischief, and through life the poet could only hobble a few paces on foot, though he could at times succeed in concealing his infirmity.

John Byron's creditors became pressing. The daughter, Augusta, was sent to her grandmother, the Dowager Countess Holderness. Mrs. Byron retired to Aberdeen, and lived upon £150 a year, the interest of £3000 in the hands of trustees, the sole remnant of her fortune. She took lodgings in Queen Street, Aberdeen, and was followed by her husband, who occupied separate lodgings and sometimes petted the child, who professed in later years to remember him perfectly. With money got from his wife or his sister, Mrs. Leigh, he escaped to France in January 1791, and died at Valenciennes, 2 Aug. 1791, possibly by his own hand.1 Mrs. Byron's income, reduced to £135 by debts for furniture and by helping her husband, was raised to £190 on the death of her grandmother, and she lived within her means. Capricious and passionate by nature, she treated her child with alternate excesses of violence and tenderness. Scott says that in 1784 she was seized with an hysterical fit during Mrs. Siddons's performance in Southern's "Fatal Marriage," and was carried out screaming, "Oh, my Biron, my Biron!" (the name of a character in the play). She was short and fat, and would chase her mocking child round the room in impotent fury. To the frank remark of a schoolfellow, "Your mother is a fool," he replied, “I know it." Another phrase is said to have been the germ of the "Deformed Transformed." His mother reviling him as a "lame beast," he replied, "I was born so, mother." The child was passionately fond of his nurse, May Gray, to whom at the final parting he gave a watch and his miniature - afterwards in the possession of Dr. Ewing of Aber

Jeaffreson, i. 48: Harness, p. 333. Letter No. 460 in Moore's Life of Byron implicitly denies suicide.

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deen and by whose teaching he acquired a familiarity with the Bible preserved through life by a very reten tive memory.

At first he went to school to one "Bodsy Bowers," and afterwards to clergyman named Ross. The son o his shoemaker, Paterson, taught him some Latin, and he was at the gramma school from 1794 to 1798.1 He wa regarded as warm-hearted, pugnacious and idle. Visits to his mother's relation and an excursion to Ballater for change of air in 1796 varied his schooldays. I a note to the "Island" (1813) he date his love of mountainous scenery from this period; and in a note to "Do Juan" (canto x. stanza 18) he recall the delicious horror with which h leaned over the bridge of Balgounie destined in an old rhyme to fall with "; wife's ae son and a mare's ae foal." A infantile passion for a cousin, Mar Duff, in his eighth year was so intens that he was nearly thrown into convul sions by hearing, when he was sixteen of her marriage to Mr. Robert Cock burn (a well-known wine merchant brother of Lord Cockburn). She die 10 March 1858.2

In 1794, by the death of the fifth Lor Byron's grandson at the siege of Calv in Corsica, Byron became heir to th peerage. A Mr. Ferguson suggested t Mrs. Byron that an application to th civil list for a pension might be success ful if sanctioned by the actual peer The grand-uncle would not help i the appeal, but after his death, I May 1798, a pension of £300 was give to the new peer's mother (warran dated 2 Oct. 1799). In the autum Mrs. Byron with her boy and May Gra left Aberdeen for Newstead. TH house was ruinous. The Rochda property was only recoverable by a lav suit. The actual income of the Nev stead estate was estimated at £100 Bain, Life of Arnott, in the papers of t Aberdeen Philosophical Society, gives his plac in the school.

Notes and Queries, and series, iii. 231; is described in Mr. Ruskin's "Præterita." Letters in Morrison MSS.


year, which might be doubled when the leases fell in. Byron told Medwin (p. 40) that it was about £1500 a year. Byron was made a ward in Chancery, and Lord Carlisle, son of the old lord's sister, was appointed his guardian.

Mrs. Byron settled at Nottingham, and sent the boy to be prepared for a public school by Mr. Rogers. He was tortured by the remedies applied to his feet by a quack named Lavender. His talent for satire was already shown in a lampoon on an old lady and in an exposure of Lavender's illiteracy. In 1799 he was taken to London by his mother, examined for his lameness by Dr. Baillie, and sent to Dr. Glennie's school at Delwich, where the treatment prescribed by Baillie could be carried out. Glennie found him playful, amiable, and intelligent, ill-grounded in scholarship, but familiar with scripture and a devourer of poetry. At Glennie's he read a pamphlet on the shipwreck of the Juno in 1795, which was afterwards worked up in "Don Juan"; and here, about 1800, he wrote his first love poem, addressed to his cousin Margaret Parker. Byron speaks of her transparent and evanescent beauty, and says that his passion had its "usual effects" of preventing sleep and appetite. She died of consumption a year or two later. Meanwhile Mrs. Byron's tempers had become insupportable to Glennie, whose discipline was spoilt by her meddling, and to Lord Carlisle, who ceased to see her. Her importunity prevailed upon the guardian to send the boy to Harrow, where (in the summer of 1801) he became a pupil of the Rev. Joseph Drury.

Drury obtained the respect and affection of his pupil. A note to "Childe Harold" (canto iv.), upon a message in which he describes his repugnance to the "daily drug" of classical lessons, expresses his enthusiastic regard for Drury, and proves that he had not profited by Drury's teaching. His notes in the books which he gave to the school library show that he never became a tolerable scholar. He was

always "idle, in mischief, or at play," though reading voraciously by fits. He shone in declamation, and Drury tells how he quite unconsciously interpolated a vigorous passage into a prepared composition. Unpopular and unhappy at first, he hated Harrow till his last year and a half; but he became attached to it on rising to be a leader. Glennie had noticed that his deformity had increased his desire for athletic glory. His strength of arm made him formidable in spite of his lameness. He fought Lord Calthorpe for writing "dd atheist" under his name.


was a cricketer, and the late Lord Stratford de Redcliffe remembered seeing him playing in the match against Eton with another boy to run for him. Byron was one of the ringleaders in a childish revolt against the appointment of Dr. Butler (March 1805) as Drury's successor, and in favour of Mark Drury. Byron said that he saved the Hall from burning by showing to the boys the names of their ancestors on the walls (Medwin, p. 68). He afterwards satirised Butler as "Pomposus" in "Hours of Idleness," but had the sense to apologise before his first foreign tour. "My school friendships," says Byron, "were with me passions." Byron remonstrates with a boyish correspondent for calling him "my dear" instead of 'my dearest Byron." His most famous contemporary at Harrow was Sir Robert Peel, for whom he offered to take half the thrashing inflicted by a bully. He protected Harness, his junior by two years, who survived till 1869. His closest intimates were apparently Lords Clare and Dorset and John Wingfield. When he met Clare long afterwards in Italy, he was agitated to a painful degree, and says that he could never hear the name without a beating of the heart. He had been called at Glennie's "the old English baron," and some aristocratic vanity perhaps appears in his choice of intimates and dependents.

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His mother was at Bath in 1802 (where he appeared in Turkish costume


at a masquerade); at Nottingham in 1803; and at Southwell, in a house called Burgage Manor, in 1804. Byron visited Newstead in 1803, then occupied by Lord Grey de Ruthin, who set apart a room for his use. He was often at Annesley Hall, the seat of his distant cousins, the Chaworths. Mary Anne Chaworth was fifth in descent from Viscount Chaworth, and her grandfather was brother to the William Chaworth killed by the fifth Lord Byron. A superstitious fancy (duly turned to account in the "Siege of Corinth," xxi.) that the family portraits would descend from their frames to haunt the duellist's heir, made him refuse to sleep there; till a "bogle" seen on the road to Newstead or some less fanciful motive induced him to stay for the night. He had fallen desperately in love with Mary Anne Chaworth, two years his senior, who naturally declined to take him seriously. A year later Miss Pigot describes him as a "fat bashful boy.' In 1804 he found Miss Chaworth engaged to John Musters. The marriage took place in 1805. Moore gives a report, probably inaccurate, of Byron's agitation on hearing of the wedding. He dined with her and her husband in 1808, and was much affected by seeing her infant daughter. Poems addressed to her appeared in "Hours of Idleness" and Hobhouse's "Miscellany." He told Medwin (p. 65) that he had found in her "all that his youthful fancy could paint of beautiful." Mrs. Musters's marriage was unhappy; she was separated from her husband; her mind became affected, and she died in 1832, from a shock caused by riots at Nottingham. This passion seems to have left the most permanent traces on Byron's life; though it was a year later (if his account is accurate) that the news of Mary Duff's marriage nearly caused convulsions.

In October 1805, Byron entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a nobleman. A youth of "tumultuous passions," in the phrase of his college tutor, he was exposed to the temptations of his

rank, yet hardly within the sphere of its legitimate ambition. He rode, shot with a pistol, and boxed. He made a friend of the famous pugilist, Jackson, paid for postchaises to bring "dear Jack" to visit him at Brighton, invited him to Newstead, and gave him commissions about dogs and horses. He was greatest at swimming. The pool below the sluice at Grantchester is still called by his name. Leigh Hunt first saw him (Hunt, Byron, &c. p. 1.) swimming a match in the Thames under Jackson's supervision, and in August 1807, he boasts to Miss Pigot of a three-mile swim through Blackfriars and Westminster bridges. He travelled to vari ous resorts with a carriage, a pair of horses, a groom and valet, besides a bulldog and a Newfoundland. In 1806 his mother ended a quarrel by throwing a poker and tongs at his head She followed him to his lodgings in London, whither he retreated, and ther another engagement resulted in the defeat of the enemy - his mother.

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a visit to Harrogate in the same summe with his friend Pigot he was shy, quiet avoided drinking, and was polite t Professor Hailstone, of Trinity. O some of his rambles he was accompanie by a girl in boy's clothes, whom h introduced as his younger brother. H tells Miss Pigot that he has playe hazard for two nights till four in th morning; and in a later diary (Moor chap. viii.) says that he loved gambling but left off in time, and played little afte he was of age. It is not surprising find him confessing in 1808 (Letter 2: that he is "cursedly dipped," and wi owe £9000 or £10,000 on coming


The college authorities natural looked askance at him; and Byro symbolised his opinion of dons bringing up a bear to college, declaring that the animal should for a fellowship.

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Byron formed friendships and h pursuits of a more intellectual kin He seems to have resided at Cambrid for the Michaelmas term 1805, and Lent and Easter terms 1806;

was then absent for nearly a year, and returned to keep (probably) the Easter term of 1807, the following October and Lent terms, and perhaps the Easter term of 1808, taking his M.A. degree on 4 July 1808.1 In the first period of residence, though sulky and solitary, he became the admiring friend of W. J. Barkes, was intimate with Edward Noel Long, and protected a chorister named Eddlestone. His friendship with this youth, he tells Miss Pigot (July 1807), is to eclipse all the classical precedents, and Byron means to get a partnership for his friend, or to take him as a permanent companion. Eddlestone diedof consumption in 1811, and Byron then reclaimed from Miss Pigot a cornelian which he had originally received from Eddlestone, and handed on to her. References to this friendship are in the "Hours of Idleness," and probably in the "Cornelian Heart" (dated March 1812). Long entered the army, and was drowned in a transport in 1809, to Byron's profound affliction. He became intimate with two fellows of King's Henry Drury and Francis Hodgson, afterwards provost of Eton. Byron showed his friendship for HodgSon by a present of £1000 in 1813, when Hodgson was in embarrassment and Byron not over-rich. In his later residence a closer "coterie " was formed by Byron, Hobhouse, Davies, and C.S. Matthews. John Cam Hobhouse, afterwards Lord Broughton, was his friend through life. Scrope Berdmore Davies, a man of wit and taste, delighted Byron by his "dashing vivacity," and lent him £4800, the repayment of which was celebrated by a drinking bout at the Cocoa on 27 March 1814. Hodgson reports that when Byron exclaimed melodramatically, "I shall go mad," Davies used to suggest "silly" as a probable emendation. Matthews was regarded as the most promising of the friends. Byron described his audacity, his swimming and boxing, and conversational powers in a letter to Murray (20 Nov. 1820), and Information kindly given by Cambridge au


tells Dallas that he was a "most decided" and outspoken "atheist."

Among these friends Byron varied the pursuit of pleasure by literary efforts. He boasts in a juvenile letter that he has often been compared to "the wicked" Lord Lyttelton, and has already been held up as "the votary of licentiousness and the disciple of infidelity." A list (dated 30 Nov. 1807) shows that he had read or looked through many historical books and novels "by the thousand.". His memory was remarkable. Scott, however, found that in 1815 his reading did "not appear to have been extensive, either in history or poetry"; and the list does not imply that he had strayed beyond the highways of literature.

At Southwell, in September 1806, he took the principal part (Penruddock, an "amiable misanthrope") in an amateur performance of Cumberland's "Wheel of Fortune," and "spun a prologue" in a postchaise. About the same time he confessed to Miss Pigot, who had been reading Burns to him, that he too was a poet, and wrote down the lines "In thee I fondly hope to clasp." In November 1806 Ridge, a Newark bookseller, had privately printed for him a small volume of poems, entitled "Fugitive Pieces." His friend, Mr. Becher, a Southwell clergyman, remonstrated against the license of one poem. Byron immediately destroyed the whole impression (except one copy in Becher's hands and one sent to young Pigot, then studying medicine at Edinburgh). A hundred copies, omitting the offensive verses, and with some additions, under the title "Poems on Various Occasions," were distributed in January 1807. Favourable notices came to the author from Bankes, Henry Mackenzie ("The Man of Feeling"), and Lord Woodhouselee. In the summer of 1807 Byron published a collection called "Hours of Idleness, a series of Poems, original and translated, by George Gordon, Lord Byron, a minor," from which twenty of the privately printed

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