« PreviousContinue »
Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice
Child Harold's PILGRIMAGE. A Ro-
The Two Foscari
The Deformed Transformed
Cain: A Mystery
Canto the Third
Gentleman," with Answer
Imitation of Tibullus
Stanzas to Augusta : “Though the
Stanzas written in passing the Ambra-
GEORGE GORDON LORD BYRON, a Baron of the United Kingdom, was born on the 22d of January 1788, in Holles Street, London. He traced his descent from the time of the Conquest : his ancestor Ralph de Burun is recorded in Domesday Book. The Byrons or Birons, having been Knights long before, and Baronets also, were raised to the peerage by Charles I., whose cause the family espoused. The poet was the only son of Captain John Byron, of the Guards, by his second wife, Catharine Gordon of Gight, an Aberdeenshire heiress, belonging to the senior branch of the Gordons, and having some Stuart blood in her veins. John Byron was a nephew of William, the then Lord. A spendthrift and rake, he had aforetime eloped with Lady Carmarthen, who, on being divorced from her husband, became the first wife of Captain Byron, and bore him one daughter, Augusta Mary, afterwards the Honourable Mrs Leigh. The celebrated Admiral Byron was the poet's grandfather.
Byron was born (it would appear, though the accounts are conflicting) with both feet clubbed, and with legs withered to the knee: the right foot, owing to an accident attending birth, was more particularly distorted. In other respects he grew up extremely handsome ; with lightblue or greyish eyes, dark auburn hair curling over the head, and a complexion almost colourless. His stature was five feet eight and a half. He had a constitutional tendency to fatness, which he kept down by a diet abstemious to the point of semi-starvation, although occasionally he neglected his precautions, and paid the forfeit. Extreme sensitiveness to his lameness, even apart from the practical inconvenience which it caused, embittered his entire life.
Captain Byron squandered his second wife's fortune, and left her to shift for herself. Reduced to an income of £150 a year, she retired with her infant, in 1790, to Aberdeen: a proud, impetuous, inflammable woman, who spoiled the child by frequent petting, and more frequent violences. In her moods, she would call him “a lame brat;” and the opprobrious term rankled in his memory. Inheriting the characteristic defects of both his parents, with a gloomy heart though much superficial gaiety of spirits, with many generous impulses and passionate susceptibilities, he underwent no training that would have elicited his finer and climinated his more perilous qualities. His father soon levanted to the continent, and died at Valenciennes in 1791.
Byron's schooling began at the age of five; and he had been under three instructors before he passed to the Free-school of Aberdeen. The son of the reigning Lord Byron died before his father; the lord himself