This most handsome and beautiful boy wore the handicap of a club foot. Always eager and anxious to please, he determined to prove that he was nonetheless, brave, courageous and adventurous.
In later years this was evidenced by his boxing prowess, his swim of the Hellespont and his heroic speeches supporting the disadvantaged and the final irony, his death at Missolonghi in his championship of the ultimate freedom of the Greeks.
Thus we know why George Gordon Lord Byron is loved and reknowned to this day, not in his own country ,but in the many streets of Greece named George and by the numerous descendants of those first Greek parents who,even now, reverberate his name by their children George or Byron.
Even though young Lord Byron was used to life in country mansions in Scotland and in England by reason of his heritage, nevertheless the groaning relative poverty of his family was all too evident.
As a child at Newstead Abbey his boyhood bedroom still retains the obvious care with which he obediently maintained his boyish possessions and books and doubtless dreamed his dreams.
If handwriting were to be a coda, then it must be agreed that the neatness and exactitude with which he kept his notebooks clearly shows that this boy enjoyed accuracy, cared for correctness and, above all, was instinctively aware of the visionary impact of the inward eye.
Even at this early age, the young Byron could see, record and convey, as he was to do throughout his life, the encapsulated exactitudes of meaning which were to strike chords the world over and inspire men and women of many nations.
In the 1950ís as the heroic figure of the late Sir Frank Whittle strode forth from his home on the brow of Harrow Hill he may have cast his mind back over some decades to the figure of a young boy sitting by a gravestone on the brow of that same but earlier hill, browsing and contemplating the vast panaramic scenery from that vantage point.
George Gordon Lord Byron loved that hill. He loved the unfolded scene therefrom over vast tracts of ,as yet, unspoiled English scenery ranging from shire to shire. He did indeed dream and hope. He also wrote poetry there and subsequently great poetry was inspired from there. This hill was indeed to inspire him in his later years, just as Seaham Harbour beach and cliff edge were to inspire him in more tumultuous days.
Later still, in grieveous sorrow for loss of another child, this time by death itself, he hopefully yearned for her peaceful burial in the tranquility of his beloved Harrow Church with its gracious soaring spire of great beauty beheld by centuries of his fellow countrymen and women who raised their eyes from Englandís heritage and their own grass roots. As ever his hope was to be denied. Here it was in his schooldays, enobled at the age of ten upon the death of his uncle, that George Gordon Lord Byron newly set forth on many of the pathways of his life some of which were to endure throughout that life. His great loyalty and camaraderie which began there in friendships for those just newly met was to continue throughout his life.
He learned discernment and something of praise but also of disappointment and treacherous betrayal with child-like bonding and feuds. He learned about trust and mistrust, he learned some of the lessons of life as he began the onward and upward thrust which was to take him with glorious acclaim to the House of Lords and his spirited and compassionate debates, for and on behalf of the needy, the desperate and the deprived. This early pathway took him towards his life of learning and of his own expression of all he had learned through the inspired pages of his enduring and radiant poetry which from thenceforth was to reach the hearts and minds of men and women worldwide and for all ages. Here he learned to battle with physical courage in spite of the always-present disability of his club foot, as he would in later life with moral courage and in spite of incapacities sought from his wayward life.
He did not allow lameness to deter him from partaking in the hard games and jousts of schoolboy rivalry. He boxed, swam and partook of all that was part of the daily life of a Harrow schoolboy. Maybe, in his aspirations, inspirations and efforts, he sought to play his part in everyday life as it sped towards later adolescence, adulation, current London fashion and temptations and temptresses of London society. He was soon to be embroiled in that world of gaiety , careless liaisons, brief conquests and the now and ever-present fuss which dogged the young man who, though always impoverished but proudly noble, had hopes and fears more subtle and more profound than most of his contemporaries in those turbulent and uncertain times.
Byron, however, always found the challenge in life and met it with grace, perception and courage and not a little humour. Equal to the challenge at all times, he looked fate and destiny in the eye and lived with vigour and valour and burnished, total awareness of lifeís diurnal round. Revolutions, wars and rumours of wars may have been in the air all over Europe but Byron kept his steady gaze from day to day on those revolutions, wars and rumours which beset his daily life and coped with it all with elan and with dignity. He was the darling of society but was soon to know that society had a fickle, shallow and amnesiac remembrance of its erstwhile darlings.
Byrons fame does not rest with the detrious of society but within the massive canon of his great work of insight, inspiration and understanding of the wide world which he was soon to bestride in the endless tide of ever advancing time. Childhood and youth at Harrow on that hill with itís calm and clear fresh air widespread views and massive skies gave him child-like inspiration, time to think and to brood and left some happy memories upon that boyish mind.
Perspective is all. Proportion and rationale are evinced in quiet contemplation. Spurred onwards throughout his life his happy memories of Harrowís spire remained as a mast of hope in the murky waters of travails and troubles to come. The diamond of his brain illuminated numerous pages of eridite thought as clearly as that spire transforms the horizon even to this very day.
A latter-day local Penshaw Monument can recall noble deeds in Durham, just as Harrow Hill illuminates the mindís eye of Europe and Missolonghi for Byron and thereby for his poetry and his readers in years to come.
As the years unrolled from his childhood we see the pattern of Byrons life with its hills and hollows its soaring mountains its turbulent seas and lakes all bringing with them some sorrow, some joy as yet unknown to this yearning and lonely boy, whom great gifts, great grace, glamour and prestige had yet to guide his way from Harrow to the wider world. Yes we all climb the steep hill of Harrow, we see the splendour of the universe from there but to partake of that universe we must walk down from that same hill and go forward towards the future as did Byron, as did the great Sir Frank Whittle as did many more less exalted generations few of whom could fail to have been equally inspired. Fewer still were to be tested more keenly than was young George Gordon Lord Byron. This little Lord was to engage the world stage as very few could with ideas, deeds, soaring intellect and a capacity to breath new life-enhancing thought to mankind everywhere who cared to listen and to think with truth to be told and challenge to be bold. Byron had found a haven of calm at Harrow but was soon to face the maelstrom of daily life and all that it beheld. As he said of Napoleon the arbiter of others fate as supplient for his own.
His poem on a distant view of the village and school of Harrow-on-the-Hill
tells itís own tale:
"Ye scenes of my childhood whose loved recollections
Embitters the present compared with the past
Whose science first dawned in the powers of reflection
And friendships were formed too romantic to last."
Yes indeed here we have at Harrow the young boy Byron father of the man indeed.