Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Canine Legality and Ursine Liability


Lord Byron (1788 - 1824), as apparently was expected of youthful Baron Byrons of Rochdale, enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge. 



He was summarily informed that Lord or no, he would not be allowed to bring his dog to the institution of learning. 

Coming from a line of Byrons including his father, "Mad Jack" Byron and his great-uncle, The "Wicked" Lord Byron, he complied . . . 


Burgage Manor and Green, with Byron and Boatswain
by Nick Hugh McCann 

and brought his bear to live with him. 


Seriously. 

His BEAR!


The Wonderful History of Lord Byron and his Dog
by EB Pigot (1807)
When attempts were made to evict the bear, Byron pointed out that bears were not mentioned in the college statutes and the bear stayed. 


When Boatswain (Byron's beloved Newfoundland) died, he wrote "Epitaph to a Dog". . . .

and evidently it is one of the big-deal literary contributions of Byron. (I had no idea and relied on Wikipedia and Stephen Fry for information.)

Lord Byron’s Lyon
by Nick Hugh McCann (1992)

15 years later, Byron was given a Newfoundland puppy named Lyon and promised, "Never to part with him for any consideration." Lyon accompanied Byron's coffin after Byron died of Malaria while in Greece. 


Byron did not have a similar attachment to his many lovers. 

When one lover threatened to leave him, he replied, 

"You may go away, if you like but you shall not forget me – no woman who has once loved me has ever forgotten me for I took good care to brand her with such infamy, she could not but remember me for the rest of her existence and I will for the same by you."


Romantics of the day, being unable to take and share inappropriate selfies, offered locks of hair as tokens of affection. 

It was not uncommon for lovers or romantic interests to exchange hair of the pubic variety. 


Wearing a lock of pubic hair incorporated into a cockade 

(the knot of ribbons or other circular symbol of distinctive color, usually worn on a hat - and yes, I had no idea about cockades either and had to look it up) 

was a sign of virility. 

That trend isn't particularly missed. Vastly more reasonable to send naked photos of yourself to potential hookups. 


Obtaining Lord Byron's hair was something of a social victory. Overwhelmed by the number of requests and not having the need to cultivate additional trysts, Byron would send locks of Boatswain's coat instead of his own. 


While Newfoundlands have dramatically increased in stature since then, I'm guessing there was still plenty of hair to send out ....


but I could be completely wrong about that. He was The Beatles, Donald Trump, JFK mashup of his day.


Hey man, you know any Byron? 
I remember the start: 
"She walks in beauty, like the night" 
but the rest is just like gone. 
Guess I'll go catch a ride to the library. 
Save my spot. 



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