It's the birthday of romantic poet Lord Byron, born George Gordon Noel in Aberdeen, Scotland (1788). Byron was the product of his father's second marriage. His father, nicknamed "Mad Jack," struggled with debt, made his living by seducing rich women, and may have killed his first wife, though he was never charged with the crime. Byron was a poorly behaved child, and his nursemaids hated him. In 1809 he traveled to the eastern Mediterranean and kept a diary of his adventures and exploits. While traveling in Albania, he let a friend read the diary, and his friend persuaded him to burn it. He rewrote the story of his travels as a partially fictionalized book-length poem called Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812). The book made Byron one of the most popular poets of his time.
He was also an outspoken politician in the House of Lords. In 1812, workers in the weaving industry in Nottinghamshire were rioting and destroying machinery because of poor wages and working conditions. The Tories introduced a bill to punish the destruction of weaving machinery by death. Byron fiercely opposed the bill, speaking on behalf of workers' rights, and he published a poem on the topic that said, in part, "Some folks for certain have thought it was shocking, / When Famine appeals, and when Poverty groans, / That life should be valued at less than a stocking, / And breaking of frames lead to breaking of bones." Byron wrote many more books of poetry, including Don Juan (1819). When he died at age 36, several interested parties burned his unpublished memoirs before he'd even been buried.
She walks in beauty like the night,
And is pure delight when not upright.
He should appreciate that one, all right!
Reminds me of the ditty that ends:
When she was good, she was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was marvellous.
Not Byron's of course. Sorry to digress, Talia.
Post Edited (01-23-04 08:02)
I'm sure that is what Byron had in mind, originally.
Interestingly, the frame-breakers were the original Luddites.
He was also always a passionate supporter of the Greek cause against the Turks which was why he came to be in Missolonghi when he died.
The memoir burning was a low point in publishing history. It was largely at Lady Byron's urging worried that it might reveal too much about their marriage and also the rumored incest between Byron and his half-sister. Friends such as Hobhouse and his publisher, Murray, were party to the burning. Hobhouse because by then he was pursuing a political career and was worried that Byron's memoirs might tarnish his image. I continue to be surprised at Murray. I can't imagine a publisher today consenting to such an act!
Today's Daily Telegraph informs us of some of Lord Byron's nicknames.
The Balaam of Baron, Bard of Corsair, The Comus of poetry, Damaetas, Don Jose, Don Juan, A Literary Vassal, Lord Glenarvon, The Mocking Bird of our Parnassian Ornithology.
Where they all came from isn't said. These days he'd use them as his on-line identities.
Not heard of a few of these. Wonder where they got them from? Glenarvon wasn't one he would have ever used, it was the title of a book by Lady Caroline Lamb where the hero was a thinly disguised Byron.
She was the lover that wouldn't go away quietly. She wrote Byron a note asking him to remember her. His response:
Remember Thee! Remember Thee!
Remember thee! remember thee!
Till Lethe quench life's burning stream
Remorse and shame shall cling to thee,
And haunt thee like a feverish dream!
Remember thee! Aye, doubt it not.
Thy husband too shall think of thee:
By neither shalt thou be forgot,
Thou false to him, thou fiend to me!