When Lord Byron’s dog died, the distraught poet composed a heartbreaking epitaph
‘Boatswain is dead!’ lamented Lord Byron to his friend Francis Hodgson on 18th November 1808. ‘He expired in a state of madness... after suffering much, yet retaining all the gentleness of his nature to the last; never attempting the least injury to anyone near him.’ Boatswain was Byron’s beloved Newfoundland dog. Having followed the TRACEY WHITEFOOT / TRAVELBILD /ALAMY postboy to Mansfield, he was bitten by a rabid dog and struck down by the disease. His master was distraught. According to his friend and biographer, Thomas Moore, Lord Byron was so little aware of the nature of the malady that, more than once, with his bare hand, he wiped away the slaver from the dog’s lips during its paroxysms. Byron had inherited Newstead Abbey – originally a 12th-century priory, granted to his ancestor by Henry VIII in 1539 – when he was only ten years old. He then also became...
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