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'HIS Edition contains the whole of Byron's Poems and
Dramas with his Original Notes. A few additional Notes have been added by the Editor, which appeared necessary to further elucidate the text.
GEORGE GORDON BYRON, Lord Byron, the son of Captain Tyron and Miss Catherine Gordon of Gight, was born in Holles Street, London, January 22, 1788. The Byron family was a very ancient and noble one. In the wars of Edward III.; on Bosworth Field, by the side of Richmond, the knightly Byrons won fame and royal favour; and bravely and loyally the first peer of the race, Sir John Biron-afterwards created Baron Biron of Rochdale in the county of Lancaster-fought for the unfortunate Charles I. "Sir John Biron," writes Mrs. Hutchinson in her husband's life, " afterwards Lord Biron, and all his brothers, bred up in arms and valiant men in their own persons, were all PASSIONATELY the king's." In that word “ passionately " the family characteristic is revealed. They were an impulsive, passionate race, vehement alike in love and hatred. After the period when seven brothers of the house fought at Edgehill, the Dame does not again come prominently forward till the shipwreck of young Byron (afterwards Admiral), the account of which will never cease to move sympathy, pity, and admiration.
This gallant seaman was the grandfather of the poet, and brother to the Lord Byron who in 1765 was tried for killing his relation and neighbour, Mr. Chaworth, in a duel.
Captain Byron, the poet's father, was a very immoral man. He was twice married : first to the divorced Lady Carmarthen, and secondly to Miss Gordon. He had a daughter by his first marriage, Augusta, afterwards Mrs. Leigh ; and the poet by his second union. Overwhelmed by debt, he married Miss Gordon for her money, which was soon wholly spent in satisfying his creditors. He had no love for his wife, and they lived so unhappily that in 1790 they separated, though Mrs. Byron was warmly attached to her husband, and ready, even after he had beggared ber, to give him pecuniary aid from the mere pittance left her; for the heiress of Gight was reduced to an income of £150 a-year. She lent him money, however, to the last, and mourned passionately for him when he died. But though generous, devoted, and honourable in money matters, Mrs. Byron was afflicted with an infirm and violent temper, over which she had not the sightest control ; and from which even her child suffered at times. Like Scott, the poet had a malformation of one foot which rendered him lame, and caused him in his childhood great suffering
When not quite five years old he was sent to a day school in Aberdeen. Of this time he records : “I was sent at five years old or earlier, to a school kept by a Mr. Bowers, who was called Bodsy Bowers, by reason of his dapperness. It was a school for both sexes. I learned little there except to repeat by rote the first lesson of monosyllables (God made man. Let us love him), by hearing it often repeated without acquiring a letter. Whenever proof was made of my