The Confessions of Lord Byron, 1905: A Collection of His Private Opinions of Men and of Matters, Taken from the New and Enlarged; Edition of His Letters and Journals (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from The Confessions of Lord Byron, 1905: A Collection of His Private Opinions of Men and of Matters, Taken From the New and Enlarged; Edition of His Letters and Journals

But I have by no means' counted the tale of allusions that makes the Letters so piquant. Himself the great champion of the Augustan school of English Poetry, Byron was bound by his theories of his art, by his love for the finished epigram, as distinct from the imaginative suggestion, of the poetic phrase to pay the due meed of reference to the little nightingale of Twickenham. Yet, while he performs this duty most loyally, exalting Pope to the heights of Parnassus in his controversial pamphlets, and quoting from his works in the Letters no less than thirty-six times, it is to Johnson, the great critic in this school of verse-making wits, that he makes the most fre quent appeal. Byron is for ever celebrating Johnson as literary dictator on the one hand, and as master of epigram and of retort on the other. His Ras selas, his Drury Lane Prologue, his Lloes of the Poets, and his Vanity of Human Wishes, are all cited indeed the great satire is quoted on several occas1ons, and is once the subject of an elaborate eulogy. Byron's most interesting allusions to Johnson, however, are such as take the form-of quotations made from Boswell's Life, and to an examination of these quotations I therefore propose to devote the remain ing portion of my space. N ow, inasmuch as most of these phrases are borrowed to accentuate some particularly truculent expression of Byron's own opinions, it is only natural that four of the most im ortant should be taken from places in which J o nson gives his uncompromising judgment of the Fingal controversy; The scathing answer made by the Doctor to Bla1rs question whether any man of a modern age could have written such poems.

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English poet and dramatist George Gordon, Lord Byron was born January 22, 1788, in London. The boy was sent to school in Aberdeen, Scotland, until the age of ten, then to Harrow, and eventually to Cambridge, where he remained form 1805 to 1808. A congenital lameness rankled in the spirit of a high-spirited Byron. As a result, he tried to excel in every thing he did. It was during his Cambridge days that Byron's first poems were published, the Hours of Idleness (1807). The poems were criticized unfavorably. Soon after Byron took the grand tour of the Continent and returned to tell of it in the first two cantos of Childe Harold (1812). Instantly entertained by the descriptions of Spain, Portugal, Albania, and Greece in the first publication, and later travels in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, the public savored Byron's passionate, saucy, and brilliant writing. Byron published the last of Childe Harold, Canto IV, in 1818. The work created and established Byron's immense popularity, his reputation as a poet and his public persona as a brilliant but moody romantic hero, of which he could never rid himself. Some of Byron's lasting works include The Corsair, Lara, Hebrew Melodies, She Walks In Beauty, and the drama Manfred. In 1819 he published the first canto of Don Juan, destined to become his greatest work. Similar to Childe Harold, this epic recounts the exotic and titillating adventures of a young Byronica hero, giving voice to Byron's social and moral criticisms of the age. Criticized as immoral, Byron defended Don Juan fiercely because it was true-the virtues the reader doesn't see in Don Juan are not there precisely because they are so rarely exhibited in life. Nevertheless, the poem is humorous, rollicking, thoughtful, and entertaining, an enduring masterpiece of English literature. Byron died of fever in Greece in 1824, attempting to finance and lead the Byron Brigade of Greek freedom fighters against the Turks.