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By Winfred P. Lehmann

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Caroline Lamb represented him as a Gothic villain in her roman à clef (a novel fictionalising real people and events, sometimes for satiric purposes), entitled Glenarvon (1816). As the historian Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote in 1831: ‘It is not every day that the savage envy of aspiring dunces is gratified by the agonies of such a spirit, and the degradation of such a name’ (quoted in Massie 1988: 74). The personal suffering the poet endured in the loss of his wife, daughter and sister, and the blackening of his reputation both as a man and a poet, did have the effect of stimulating him to prove himself once again in the face of adversity.

86, 102). The figure of the solitary wanderer now became a portrait of the exiled Romantic genius, exploring the creative springs of his own imagination in nature and art. Byron dramatised himself through ironic analogy with Napoleon, whilst questioning the possibility of heroism in the modern world (Bainbridge 1995: 134–82). The poet had already expressed his mixed feelings obliquely about this military genius in the series of portraits of renegade leaders in the oriental tales, overtly in his journal 1813–14 (BLJ III, 204–58) and publicly in the ‘Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte’ and a series of short poems ventriloquising different views of Bonaparte’s abdication and subsequent return to power, the romantic episode of the ‘Hundred Days’.

Hunt and Byron had more success when they invited left-wing journalist and brilliant essayist, William Hazlitt, to contribute to the new magazine. Byron also wrote to Leigh’s brother John, newly released from gaol, instructing him to collect miscellaneous manuscripts from Murray, including The Vision of Judgment, for publication in the journal. Out of spite, Murray disobeyed Byron’s written instructions to include the preface, in which Byron attempted to evade prosecution by explaining that the poem’s target was Southey rather than the Monarch.

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