In a letter dated September 9, he made a tentative proposal of marriage; she promptly accepted it. In marriage Byron hoped to find a rational pattern of living and to reconcile the conflicts that plagued him. Toward his bride the groom was by turns tender and abusive. Throughout his life Byron was a fervent reader of the Bible and a lover of traditional songs and legends.
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As a champion of freedom, he may also have responded instinctively to the oppression long suffered by the Jewish people. Throughout financial problems and heavy drinking drove Byron into rages and fits of irrational behavior. When Annabella was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, he made her the scapegoat for his troubles. On December 10, , she gave birth to Augusta Ada Byron the first name was later dropped. Early in the new year, increased money worries forced Byron to suggest that they move from their expensive Piccadilly Terrace address. He never saw them again. From Kirkby Mallory Lady Byron wrote affectionately to her husband in London, urging him to join her.
Byron was shocked. On March 17 the terms for the legal separation were agreed upon. During the separation crisis, Byron had a casual liaison with Claire Jane Clairmont. That she was the stepdaughter of the philosopher William Godwin and the stepsister of Mary Godwin, with whom Percy Bysshe Shelley had eloped in , may have induced him to tolerate her determined advances, which he had no intention of encouraging.
Byron signed the final deed of separation on April 21, having decided to go abroad with the completion of this formality. On the 25th, they sailed from Dover bound for Ostend.
Byron would never see England again. The party reached Geneva on May 25, Byron was unaware that waiting for him were Claire Clairmont, pregnant with his child, Shelley, and Mary Godwin. They passed the time agreeably by boating on Lake Leman and conversing at the Villa Diodati, which Byron had rented, with its commanding view of the lake and the Juras beyond. The poem, in turn, expresses deeper human understanding and advances more positive values than earlier works.
On July 4, three days after returning from his boat tour of Lake Leman, Byron completed the third canto of Childe Harold. Its framework is a poetic travelogue based on his journey from Dover to Waterloo, then along the Rhine and into Switzerland.
Having failed to maintain a convincing distinction between himself and his hero in the previous cantos, Byron drops the pretense and speaks in his own right. Harold becomes a shadowy presence who disappears in the middle of the canto, absorbed into the narrator. The new protagonist, a Hero of Sensibility, expresses the melancholy, passion, and alienation of the original Harold, as well as Byronic liberalism, sensitivity, and meditation.
Four major themes inform the third canto. Byron recognized himself in the characters of both men. Byron despised wars of aggression waged for personal gain while championing as honorable those conflicts that defended freedom, such as the battles of Marathon and Morat and the French Revolution. The pilgrim-poet temporarily experiences the thrill of a transcendental concept of nature, the fourth theme of the canto:. I live not in myself, but I become Portion of that around me; and to me, High mountains are a feeling The arrival of Hobhouse at the end of August coincided with the departure of Shelley, Mary, and Claire, who returned to England with the manuscripts of the third canto of Childe Harold, The Prisoner of Chillon , and the shorter poems; on January 12, , Claire gave birth to a daughter Byron named Clara Allegra.
The catharsis assumed a form new to him—blank-verse drama. He rewrote the third act during a trip to Rome the following May. In the first scene, proud and defiant, he revels in the supremacy of his will over the spirits he raises who are powerless over the inner self:. Within a week of publication, 7, copies of each volume had been sold. Byron set out in mid-April to join Hobhouse in Rome.
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In Ferrara, his visit to the cell where the 16th-century poet Torquato Tasso had been confined for madness inspired an impassioned dramatic monologue, The Lament of Tasso. Here, he began to distill his memories of Rome into poetry. Composing rapidly, he had completed the first draft for stanzas of Childe Harold , Canto IV, by mid-July, but he revised and expanded the manuscript for the rest of the year. Continuing the pilgrimage format of the earlier cantos, the framework for this longest of the sections is a spirited Italian journey from Venice through Arqua where Byron had seen the house and tomb of Petrarch and Ferrara city of Tasso and Ludovico Ariosto to Florence and on to Rome, the setting for half of the canto.
The pilgrim-narrator of Canto IV focuses sharply on the contrast between the transience of mighty empires, exemplified by Venice and Rome, and the transcendence of great art over human limitations, change, and death. Nature doth not die. Before he finished this canto, he had begun the spritely Beppo , with which he returned to satire and prepared the way for Don Juan. On August 29, he heard about the return of a supposedly deceased husband to his Venetian wife; she had meanwhile taken an amoroso , and then had to choose her husband, her lover, or solitary life on a pension. The demanding rhyme scheme of ottava rima—a b a b a c c—encourages comic rhymes.
Its couplet allows the stanza to end with a witty punch line, with a reversal in tone from high to low, or with a clever rhyme to surprise the reader. The seriocomic mood, colloquial style, and digressions of ottava rima, attracted Byron to this verse form as the medium for his witty version of the story of Venetian customs and light morals. By October 10, he had finished Beppo. The story Byron tells is slight. Beppo, a Venetian merchant, returns home during Carnival after years of Turkish captivity, to discover that his wife, Laura, has taken a count for her lover.
After the three pleasantly discuss the amatory triangle, the husband and wife reunite, and Beppo befriends the count. Banished is the soul-ravaged hero with his pride and pessimism, replaced by the poet-narrator—conversational, digressive, witty, observant, cynical. In this fresh, realistic voice he would create his comic masterpiece Don Juan. Early in June Byron moved into the Palazzo Mocenigo, with his daughter Allegra brought to Venice by the Shelley party in April , whom he had agreed to support and educate.
Here, too, he lodged his 14 servants, a menagerie, and a veritable harem. They urged that the manuscript be suppressed. Byron, exhausted by debauchery, cut and slashed in his personal life, getting rid of his harem.
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Now 19, she had been married for just over a year to a rich count of A strong mutual attraction quickly developed between Byron and Teresa. On July 15, , Murray, after some hesitation, cautiously published 1, copies of the first two cantos of Don Juan. By tacitly admitting, through anonymous publication, that Don Juan was disreputable, Murray intensified the outcry against the work. The critics hit back with a fury virtually unprecedented, vilifying both poet and poem.
In a pseudonymous Letter to the Right Hon. The stanzas teem with Byronic observations on liberty, tyranny, war, love, hypocrisy, cant, and much more. He experiences shipwreck, slavery, war, dissipation, and illness in his travels, gaining worldly wisdom and discretion as he goes.
In February , while in residence at the Palazzo Guiccioli, Byron sent Murray, along with other works, the third and fourth cantos of Don Juan. Uncertain about the future of Don Juan , he expended a portion of his creative energy on a trio of historical tragedies based on political subjects and modeled on neoclassical principles: Marino Faliero , Sardanapalus , and The Two Foscari.
These blank-verse plays were, he maintained, closet dramas, not designed for the stage. Adaptations of Sardanapalus and Werner enjoyed great success on the 19th-century stage. Remorseful and repentant, he goes into exile accompanied by Adah and Enoch, without railing against an unjust God.
In September, amid the confusion of packing for his move to Pisa, Byron took up a poem he had begun in May and immediately set aside.
This solemn, sycophantic eulogy in limping hexameters commemorates the death, burial, and supposed apotheosis of King George III. Through Japhet, the elect but troubled son of Noah, Byron questions the doctrine of predestination, which had disturbed him all his life.
As in Cain, this drama asks why evil exists, since Jehovah is good. They were joined in mid January by the flamboyant adventurer Edward John Trelawny. Byron had placed his daughter Allegra in a convent school in Bagnacavallo in March ; on April 20, she died there at the age of five, after a brief illness. Byron contributed to each of its four issues published in and He was also proceeding rapidly with Don Juan.
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After the erotic seraglio scenes in the sixth canto, he began to exhibit a new gravity. In late September, the remnants of the Pisan Circle relocated to Genoa.
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Within a week of his arrival, Byron had completed the 10th canto of Don Juan , which carries the hero to England, and started the 11th, with its satire on the shallowness and hypocrisy of the English aristocracy. John Hunt was prosecuted for libeling the late king; he remained the publisher of The Liberal but turned printing duties over to the less radical printer C.
Byron responded by withdrawing from Murray and turning to John Hunt as his publisher. As the title suggests, Byron voices disillusionment with the modern era, his targets being both political and economic. In May he was elected to the London Greek Committee, recently formed to aid the struggling insurgents. After a reluctant farewell to Teresa, he made good on his offer of personal assistance to the patriots by sailing from Genoa on July 16, bound for Leghorn and Greece.
He was accompanied by Pietro Gamba, Trelawny, and a considerable sum of money and medical supplies for the Greek cause; he also packed gold and scarlet uniforms and heroic helmets for their landing on Greek shores. On August 3, they reached the island of Cephalonia, then under British protection. Byron did not immediately commit himself to any faction, preferring to wait for signs of unity in the Greek effort.
In November Byron agreed to loan 4, pounds to the Greek fleet for its activation. In March , John and H. On April 9, having been soaked by a heavy rain while out riding, Byron suffered fever and rheumatic pains. By the 12th he was seriously ill. Repeated bleedings further debilitated him. On Easter Sunday, he entered a comatose state.