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Biography of Lord Byron


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GEORGE GORDON LORD BYRON, a great English poet, was born in London, on the 22nd of January, 1788. He was the only son of Captain John Byron, of the Guards, and Catherine Gordon of Gight, an heiress in Aberdeenshire. In his eleventh year, Byron succeeded his grand-uncle, William Lord Byron, and on succeeding to the title, he was placed in a private school at Dulwich, and thereafter was sent to Harrow. In 1805, he removed to Trinity College, Cambridge, and two years thereafter his first volume of verses, entitled "Hours of Idleness," was printed at Newark. The volume was fiercely assailed by Lord (then Mr.) Brougham in the Edinburg Review, and his sarcasms stung Byron into a poem. The satire, "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers," was written in reply to the articles in the Edinburg Review, and the town was taken by a play of wit and a mastery of versification unequalled since the days of Pope. In the babble of praise that immediately arose, Byron withdrew from England, visited the shores of the Mediterranean, and sojourned in Turkey and Greece. On his return in 1812, he published the first two cantos of "Childe Harold," with immense success, and was at once enrolled among the great poets of the country. During the next two years, he produced "The Giaour," "The Bride of Abydos," "The Corsair," and "Lara." While these brilliant pieces were flowing from his pen, he was indulging in all the revelries and excesses of the metropolis. What was noblest in the man revolted at this mode of life, and in an effort to escape from it, he married Miss Milbanke, daughter of Sir Ralph Milbanke, a baronet in the county of Durham. This union proved singularly infelicitous. It lasted only a year, and during that brief period, money embarrassments, recriminations, and all the miseries incident to an ill-made marriage, were of frequent occurrence. Upon the birth of her child Ada, Lady Byron retired to her father's house and refused to return. This event, from the celebrity of one of the parties, caused considerable excitement in the fashionable world. Byron became the subject of all uncharitable tongues.

Misery and indignation stimulated him to remarkable activity. Six months' stay at Geneva produced the third canto of "Childe Harold" and "The Prisoner of Chillon." "Manfred," and the "Lament of Tasso" were written in 1817. The next year he was at Venice, and finished "Childe Harold" there. In 1822, he removed to Pisa, and worked there at "Don Juan," which poem, with the exception of "The Vision of Judgment," occupied his pen almost up to the close of his life. In the summer of 1823, he sailed for Greece, to aid in the struggle for independence with his influence and money. He arrived at Missolonghi on the 4th of January, 1824. There he found nothing but confusion and contending chiefs, but in three months, he succeeded in evoking some kind of order from the turbulent patriotic chaos. His health, however, began to fail. On the 9th of April, he was overtaken by a shower while on horseback, and fever and rheumatism followed. After twenty-four hours' insensibility, he expired on the evening of the 19th of April, 1824.