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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 8.djvu/38

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[CHAP. I.
CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL.

I am sorry to say that Mr. Henry Drury[1] has behaved himself to me in a manner I neither can nor will bear.

    right foot was most distorted. The lasts from which his shoes were made by Swift, the Southwell bootmaker, are preserved in the Nottingham Museum, and in both the foot is perfect in shape. The last pair of shoes modelled on them were made May 7, 1807. Mrs. Leigh Hunt says that the left foot was shrunken, but was not a club-foot. Stendhal says the right foot. Thorwaldsen indicates the left foot. Dr. James Millingen, who inspected the feet after the poet's death, says that there was a malformation of the left foot and leg, and that he was born club-footed. Two surgical boots are in the possession of Mr. Murray, made for Byron as a child; both are for the right foot, ankle, and leg, and, assuming that they were made to fit the foot, they are too long and thin for a club-foot. Both at Dulwich and at Harrow, Byron was frequently seen by Laurie, whom Mrs. Byron paid, as she once complained in a letter to Laurie, "at the rate of £150 a year." It is difficult to see what more could have been done for the boy, and the explanation of the failure to effect a cure is probably to be found in the following extracts from two of Laurie's letters to Mrs. Byron. The first is dated December 7, 1801:—

    "Agreeable to your desire, I waited on Lord Byron at Harrow, and I think it proper to inform you that I found his foot in a much worse state than when I last saw it,—the shoe entirely wet through and the brace round his ancle quite loose. I much fear his extreme Inattention will counteract every exertion on my part to make him better. I have only to add that with proper care and bandaging, his foot may still be greatly recovered; but any delay further than the present vacation would render it folly to undertake it."

    The second letter is dated October 2, 1802. In it Laurie complains that the boy had spent several days in London without seeing him, and adds—

    "I cannot help lamenting he has so little sense of the Benefit he has already received as to be so apparently neglectful."

  1. For Henry Drury (afterwards an intimate friend of Byron) and his father, the Head-master of Harrow, see p. 41, note 2.

    When Byron went to Harrow, in April, 1801, he was placed in Henry Drury's house. But in January, 1803, he refused to go back to school unless he was removed from Drury's care. He was in consequence placed at Evans's house. Dr. Drury, writing to explain the new arrangement, says, in a letter to Hanson, dated February 4, 1803—

    "The reason why Lord Byron wishes for this change arises from the repeated complaints of Mr. Henry Drury respecting his Inattention to Business, and his propensity to make others laugh and disregard their Employments as much as himself. On this subject I have had many very serious conversations with him, and though Mr. H. D. had repeatedly requested me to withdraw him from his Tuition, yet, relying on my own remonstrances and