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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 8.djvu/28

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[CHAP. I.
CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL.

name, married Catherine Innes of Rosieburn, and by her became the father of Catherine Gordon, born in 1765, afterwards Mrs. Byron. Both her parents dying early, Catherine Gordon was brought up at Banff by her grand-mother, commonly called Lady Gight, a penurious, illiterate woman, who, however, was careful that her granddaughter was better educated than herself. Thus, for the second time, Gight, which, with other property, was worth between £23,000 and £24,000, passed to an heiress.

Miss Catherine Gordon had her full share of feminine vanity. At the age of thirty-five she was a stout, dumpy, coarse-looking woman, awkward in her movements, provincial in her accent and manner. But as her son was vain of his personal appearance, and especially of his hands, neck, and ears, so she, when other charms had vanished, clung to her pride in her arms and hands. She exhausted the patience of Stewardson the artist, who in 1806, after forty sittings, painted her portrait, by her anxiety to have a particular turn in her elbow exhibited in the most pleasing light. Of her ancestry she was, to use her son's expression, as "proud as Lucifer," looked down upon the Byron family, and regarded the Duke of Gordon as an inferior member of her clan. In later life, at any rate, her temper was ungovernable ; her language, when excited, unrestrained; her love of gossip insatiable. Capricious in her moods, she flew from one extreme to the other, passing, for the slightest cause, from passionate affection to equally passionate resentment. How far these defects were produced, as they certainly were aggravated, by her husband's ill treatment and her hard struggle with poverty, it is impossible to say. She had many good qualities. She bore her ruin, as her letters show, with good sense, dignity, and composure. She lived on a miserable