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By Leslie A. Marchand

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One of the two parallel developments in his relations with women, associated in his mind with Mary Duff and Margaret Parker, stimulated him to a "dash into poetry" and became the constant symbol to him of the ideally beautiful unpossessed love, the sort of image that usually bios· soms in adolescence but that in Byron was a dominating vision between the years of eight and twelve. It had numerous embodiments male and female during the rest of his life. The other, the premature sexual awakening, caused disillusionment, the melancholy which springs from physical disgust and the failure of * Byron was following a family penchant for first-cousin attachments and marriages: his grandfather, the Admiral, had married his cousin Sophia Trevanion; the Admiral's daughter Juliana Elizabeth married William, son of the fifth Baron, her father's brother; Augusta Byron, the poet's half-sister, married her first cousin Colonel George Leigh, son of her father's sister Frances.

John Bowers kept a mixed and noisy school in a grimy warehouse-like room, poorly lighted, with a low ceiling and dusty floor. "· During the next year, under more competent instructors, he learned to read. And he began the study of Latin in Ruddiman's Grammar. In 1794, when Byron was six, news came of an event that was to change the whole course of his life. The "Wicked" Lord Byron's grandson had been killed by a cannon ball in Corsica and George Gordon had become heir presumptive to the title and estates of his Byron ancestors.

After these books, he wrote, "I preferred the history of naval actions, Don. Quixote and Smollett's novels, particularly Roderick Random, and I was passionate for the Roman History. " • Yet, under the tutelage of Agnes Gray, Byron had come to know and like the poetry of the Psalms. And with her, and later with her sister May, he had read with some thoroughness the books of the Bible. " • The story of Cain and Abel early captured his imagination. When he was eight years old, he read Gessner's Death of Abel with delight.

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