Byron's circle of friends

George Gordon, Lord Byron
John Cam Hobhouse
Scrope Berdmore Davies
Charles Skinner Matthews

The quartet used codes to correspond with one another, replacing sensitive words or phrases in their letters with circumlocutions or euphemisms (eg 'hyacinth' for 'homosexual' or 'plen and optabil coit' for 'full anal intercourse'). The subterfuge was necessary as, in theory, sodomy was still punishable by death.

The common interest of the four men appears to have been the homo-erotic.

Byron himself had several close relationships with other boys at Harrow school, and he seems to have quickly developed a taste for young adolescent men thereafter. In his first year at Cambridge, he had struck up a close friendship with John Edleston, a choirboy at Trinity Chapel, and the young Robert Rushton (1793-1833) was with him at the start of his Grand Tour.

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