The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Byron and Boatswain

Seldom can such an epitaph have been written to a faithful friend. Byron was no ordinary poet though and nor seemingly was his loyal, Boatswain an ordinary pet in his eyes and heart.

‘Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.’


When Byron wrote his moving words in 1808, he had deep financial problems. His beloved Newfoundland dog, Boatswain, had died after being bitten by a rabid dog in nearby Mansfield Market Place. The poet concluded to a friend that he had now lost most everything.

Despite his acute pecuniary problems, Byron was driven to demonstrate his love and affection for his dog by commissioning an impressive marble monument at the poet’s ancestral home, Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.

Boatswain was buried in an elaborate tomb, which was indeed larger and more impressive than that erected for Byron himself in St Mary Magdalene’s Church at Hucknall, after his passing in Missolonghi in Greece in 1824.

I have many times, when wandering and dreaming through dear Newstead’s remains, admired this monument and its fine and devoted words, many of which were faded over the years. I am very happy to read today of its refurbishment.

Dedicated to the memory of my late friend, Alistair Tait. The kindest and warmest dog lover it was my great pleasure to know.


March 28, 2017 - Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , ,


  1. Epitaph to Byron

    Ah! You were born for earthly fate,
    High descent and supreme power:
    Youth, sadly, while you went astray,
    Was torn from you in its first hour!
    You saw the world, with real clear vision
    You understood the yearning heart,
    The glow of lovely woman’s passion,
    And all singing’s rarest art.

    Comment by Ron | June 22, 2017

  2. I am sure l read somewhere when Lord Byron was at Cambridge University he wasn’t allowed to keep a dog as pet so he kept a tame bear instead. Has he travelled a lot the bear was left with his mother to look after at Newstead but unfortunately she neglected the animal and it died.

    Comment by Robbie | January 6, 2018

  3. He certainly did:

    Byron was a great animal lover.

    Comment by Stuart | January 6, 2018

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