John Byron's creditors became pressing. His daughter Augusta was sent to her grandmother, the Dowager Countess Holderness. Mrs. Byron returned to Scotland, took lodgings in Queen Street, Aberdeen, and lived upon £150 a year, the interest on £3,000, the remnant of her fortune. She was followed to Aberdeen by her husband. With money got from his wife, or his sister Mrs. Leigh, he escaped to France in 1791, and died at Valenciennes in the same year.1

On the death of his grand-uncle, the fifth Lord Byron, the next heir, George Gordon, having become a ward in Chancery, the Earl of Carlisle, being the son of the deceased Lord's sister, was appointed his guardian, and in the autumn of 1798 Mrs. Byron and her son, attended by their faithful May Gray, left Aberdeen for Newstead.

Mrs. Byron settled at Nottingham, and sent her son to be educated there by a Mr. Rogers. In 1799 he was taken to London by his mother and put under the charge of Dr. Glennie, of Dulwich, preparatory to entering a public school. In the summer of 1801 he went to Harrow.

To a shy disposition such as Byron's was in his youth, the transition from a quiet scholastic establishment like that he had been attending at Dulwich to the bustle of a great public school was sufficiently trying. From his own account, for the first year and a half he hated Harrow. The activity and the sociableness of his nature, however, conquered this repugnance, and from being, as he says, a most unpopular boy, he rose at length to be a leader of all the sports, schemes, and mischief of the school. After some continuance at Harrow, and when the powers of his mind began to expand, Lord Carlisle, his guardian, desired to see the head master in London. Dr. Drury waited upon his lordship, and in reply to the Earl's inquiry respecting Byron's abilities, replied, "He has talents, my lord, that will add lustre to his rank" " Indeed!" said his lordship, with a degree of surprise that, according to the master's opinion, did not express the satisfaction expected.

Byron, in his note-book, records that Sir Robert Peel, the future statesman, and he were form fellows, and on good terms, but that his brother was his more intimate friend. "As a scholar he was greatly my superior; out of school I was always in scrapes, and he never."

While Lord Byron and Mr. Peel were at Harrow together, a tyrant, some few years older, whose name was------------- , claimed a right to fag little Peel, which claim (whether rightly or wrongly I know not), Peel resisted. His resistance, however, was in vain:--------- not only subdued him, but determined also to punish the refractory slave; and proceeded forthwith to put the determination in practice by inflicting a kind of bastinado on the inner fleshy side of the boy's arm, which, during the operation, was twisted round with some degree of technical skill to render the pain more acute. While the stripes were succeeding each other, and poor Peel was writhing under them, Byron saw and felt for the misery of his friend, and although he knew he was not strong enough to fight------- with any hope of success, and that it was dangerous even to approach him, he advanced to the scene of action, and with a blush of rage, tears in his eyes, and a voice trembling with terror and indignation,  asked very humbly if-------- would be pleased to tell him how many stripes he meant to inflict. " Why," returned the executioner, " you little rascal, what is that to you?" "Because, if you please," said Byron, holding out his arm, " I would take half!"

There is a mixture of simplicity and magnanimity in this little trait which is truly heroic. It is but rarely that the friendship of manhood is capable of anything half so generous. In spite of Byron's lameness his strength of arm made him formidable. While at Harrow he fought Lord Calthorpe for writing "d------ d atheist" under his name.

On leaving Bath, Mrs. Byron took up her abode in lodgings at Nottingham, Newstead Abbey being at that time let to Lord Grey de Ruthyn—and during the Harrow vacations of this year she was joined there by her son. So attached was he to Newstead that even to be in its neighbourhood was a delight to him, and there he became acquainted with Lord Grey. An intimacy soon sprang up between him and his noble tenant, and an apartment at the Abbey was from thenceforth always at his service. To the family of Miss Chaworth, of Annesley, in the immediate neighbourhood of Newstead, he had been made known some time before in London, and now renewed his acquaintance with them. The young heiress herself combined with many worldly advantages that encircled her that of personal beauty and a disposition the most amiable. Though already fully alive to her charms, it was at the period of which we are speaking that the young poet seems to have drunk deepest of that fascination whose effects were to be so lasting.

The six weeks passed as a dream amongst the beautiful flowers of Annesley. Byron was scarcely sixteen years of age, Mary Chaworth was two years older, but his heart was beyond his age, and his tenderness for her was deep and passionate. His love for Miss Chaworth, to use Lord Byron's own expression, was "the romance of the most romantic period of his life."

And with the vacation ended this brief romance. Byron returned to school deeply enamoured, but if he had really made any impression on Miss Chaworth's heart, it was too slight to stand the test of absence. She was at that age when a female soon changes from the girl to the woman, and leaves her boyish lovers far behind her. While Byron was pursuing his school-boy studies, she was mingling with society, and met with a gentleman of the name of Musters, remarkable, it is said, for manly beauty. He wooed and won her, and when Lord Byron next met her, he learned to his dismay that she was the affianced bride of another.

With that pride of spirit which always distinguished him, he controlled his feelings and maintained a serene countenance. He even affected to speak calmly of her approaching nuptials. " The next time I see you," said he, " I suppose you will be Mrs. Chaworth?" (she was to retain her family name). Her reply was, " I hope so."

Byron took up his abode at Newstead in 1808. The Abbey was in a ruinous state, and his fortune was not sufficient to put the building in order, nor to maintain the house in the state kept by his ancestors. Some of the rooms he restored so as to provide his mother with a comfortable habitation. Still, he felt a pride in the old edifice; its very dreary and dismantled state addressed itself to his poetical imagination. " Come what may," he said, " Newstead and I stand or fall together. I have now lived on the spot, I have fixed my heart upon it, and no pressure, present or future, shall induce me to barter the last vestige of our inheritance. I have that pride within me which will enable me to support difficulties. Could I obtain in exchange for Newstead Abbey the first fortune in the country, I would reject the proposition."

His residence at the Abbey was fitful and uncertain. He left England in 1809, and was abroad two years. In 1810 his pecuniary difficulties came to a crisis. Within a fortnight of his return to England, in 1811, Mrs. Byron died. In 1812 he was compelled to act on the advice of his men of business, who had repeatedly urged him to sell the Abbey. An agreement was made to dispose of Newstead for £140,000. This, however, was not carried out; two years afterwards, the intending purchaser withdrew, forfeiting £25,000. In November, 1817, the estate was eventually disposed of for ninety thousand guineas, and passed into the hands of Lord Byron's schoolfellow and friend, Colonel Wildman.

On his sale of Newstead, Byron wrote in his journal: " It cost me more than words to part with it, and to have parted with it, what I do? or what becomes of me? but let me remember Job's saying, and console myself with being a living man."