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The Life of Lord Byron by John Galt

Part 5 out of 6

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manner, but in the same proportion, equal stocks of reputation and
success. Do not let my frankness with you, nor my belief that you
deserve it more than Lord Byron, have the effect of deterring you
from assuming a station in modern literature, which the universal
voice of my contemporaries forbids me either to stoop or aspire to.
I am, and I desire to be, nothing.

"I did not ask Lord Byron to assist me in sending a remittance for
your journey; because there are men, however excellent, from whom we
would never receive an obligation in the worldly sense of the word;
and I am as jealous for my friend as for myself. I, as you know,
have it not; but I suppose that at last I shall make up an impudent
face, and ask Horace Smith to add to the many obligations he has
conferred on me. I know I need only ask." . . .

Now, before proceeding farther, it seems from this epistle, and there
is no reason to question Shelley's veracity, that Lord Byron was the
projector of The Liberal; that Hunt's political notoriety was
mistaken for literary reputation, and that there was a sad lack of
common sense in the whole scheme.


Mr Hunt arrives in Italy--Meeting with Lord Byron--Tumults in the
House--Arrangements for Mr Hunt's Family---Extent of his Obligations
to Lord Byron--Their Copartnery--Meanness of the whole Business

On receiving Mr Shelley's letter, Mr Hunt prepared to avail himself
of the invitation which he was the more easily enabled to do, as his
friend, notwithstanding what he had intimated, borrowed two hundred
pounds from Lord Byron, and remitted to him. He reached Leghorn soon
after his Lordship had taken up his temporary residence at Monte

The meeting with his Lordship was in so many respects remarkable,
that the details of it cannot well be omitted. The day was very hot;
and when Hunt reached the house he found the hottest-looking
habitation he had ever seen. Not content with having a red wash over
it, the red was the most unseasonable of all reds--a salmon-colour;
but the greatest of all heats was within.

Lord Byron was grown so fat that he scarcely knew him; and was
dressed in a loose nankeen jacket and white trousers, his neckcloth
open, and his hair in thin ringlets about his throat; altogether
presenting a very different aspect from the compact, energetic, and
curly-headed person whom Hunt had known in England.

His Lordship took the stranger into an inner room, and introduced him
to a young lady who was in a state of great agitation. This was the
Guiccioli; presently her brother also, in great agitation, entered,
having his arm in a sling. This scene and confusion had arisen from
a quarrel among the servants, in which the young Count, having
interfered, had been stabbed. He was very angry, the Countess was
more so, and would not listen to the comments of Lord Byron, who was
for making light of the matter. Indeed, it looked somewhat serious,
for though the stab was not much, the inflicter threatened more, and
was at that time revengefully keeping watch, with knotted brows,
under the portico, with the avowed intention of assaulting the first
person who issued forth. He was a sinister-looking, meager caitiff,
with a red cap--gaunt, ugly, and unshaven; his appearance altogether
more squalid and miserable than Englishmen would conceive it possible
to find in such an establishment. An end, however, was put to the
tragedy by the fellow throwing himself on a bench, and bursting into
tears--wailing and asking pardon for his offence, and perfecting his
penitence by requesting Lord Byron to kiss him in token of
forgiveness. In the end, however, he was dismissed; and it being
arranged that Mr Hunt should move his family to apartments in the
Lanfranchi palace at Pisa, that gentleman returned to Leghorn.

The account which Mr Hunt has given, in his memoir of Lord Byron, is
evidently written under offended feeling; and, in consequence, though
he does not appear to have been much indebted to the munificence of
his Lordship, the tendency is to make his readers sensible that he
was, if not ill used, disappointed. The Casa Lanfranchi was a huge
and gaunt building, capable, without inconvenience or intermixture,
of accommodating several families. It was, therefore, not a great
favour in his Lordship, considering that he had invited Mr Hunt from
England, to become a partner with him in a speculation purely
commercial, to permit him to occupy the ground-floor or flat, as it
would be called in Scotland. The apartments being empty, furniture
was necessary, and the plainest was provided; good of its kind and
respectable, it yet could not have cost a great deal. It was chosen
by Mr Shelley, who intended to make a present of it to Mr Hunt; but
when the apartments were fitted up, Lord Byron insisted upon paying
the account, and to that extent Mr Hunt incurred a pecuniary
obligation to his Lordship. The two hundred pounds already mentioned
was a debt to Mr Shelley, who borrowed the money from Lord Byron.

Soon after Mr Hunt's family were settled in their new lodgings,
Shelley returned to Leghorn, with the intention of taking a sea
excursion--in the course of which he was lost: Lord Byron knowing
how much Hunt was dependent on that gentleman, immediately offered
him the command of his purse, and requested to be considered as
standing in the place of Shelley, his particular friend. This was
both gentlemanly and generous, and the offer was accepted, but with
feelings neither just nor gracious: "Stern necessity and a large
family compelled me," says Mr Hunt, "and during our residence at Pisa
I had from him, or rather from his steward, to whom he always sent me
for the money, and who doled it out to me as if my disgraces were
being counted, the sum of seventy pounds."

"This sum," he adds, "together with the payment of our expenses when
we accompanied him from Pisa to Genoa, and thirty pounds with which
he enabled us subsequently to go from Genoa to Florence, was all the
money I ever received from Lord Byron, exclusive of the two hundred
pounds, which, in the first instance, he made a debt of Mr Shelley,
by taking his bond."--The whole extent of the pecuniary obligation
appears certainly not to have exceeded five hundred pounds; no great
sum--but little or great, the manner in which it was recollected
reflects no credit either on the head or heart of the debtor.

Mr Hunt, in extenuation of the bitterness with which he has spoken on
the subject, says, that "Lord Byron made no scruple of talking very
freely of me and mine." It may, therefore, be possible, that Mr Hunt
had cause for his resentment, and to feel the humiliation of being
under obligations to a mean man; at the same time Lord Byron, on his
side, may upon experience have found equal reason to repent of his
connection with Mr Hunt. And it is certain that each has sought to
justify, both to himself and to the world, the rupture of a
copartnery which ought never to have been formed. But his Lordship's
conduct is the least justifiable. He had allured Hunt to Italy with
flattering hopes; he had a perfect knowledge of his hampered
circumstances, and he was thoroughly aware that, until their
speculation became productive, he must support him. To the extent of
about five hundred pounds he did so: a trifle, considering the
glittering anticipations of their scheme.

Viewing their copartnery, however, as a mere commercial speculation,
his Lordship's advance could not be regarded as liberal, and no
modification of the term munificence or patronage could be applied to
it. But, unless he had harassed Hunt for the repayment of the money,
which does not appear to have been the case, nor could he morally,
perhaps even legally, have done so, that gentleman had no cause to
complain. The joint adventure was a failure, and except a little
repining on the part of the one for the loss of his advance, and of
grudging on that of the other for the waste of his time, no sharper
feeling ought to have arisen between them. But vanity was mingled
with their golden dreams. Lord Byron mistook Hunt's political
notoriety for literary reputation, and Mr Hunt thought it was a fine
thing to be chum and partner with so renowned a lord. After all,
however, the worst which can be said of it is, that formed in
weakness it could produce only vexation.

But the dissolution of the vapour with which both parties were so
intoxicated, and which led to their quarrel, might have occasioned
only amusement to the world, had it not left an ignoble stigma on the
character of Lord Byron, and given cause to every admirer of his
genius to deplore, that he should have so forgotten his dignity and

There is no disputing the fact, that his Lordship, in conceiving the
plan of The Liberal, was actuated by sordid motives, and of the
basest kind, inasmuch as it was intended that the popularity of the
work should rest upon satire; or, in other words, on the ability to
be displayed by it in the art of detraction. Being disappointed in
his hopes of profit, he shuffled out of the concern as meanly as any
higgler could have done who had found himself in a profitless
business with a disreputable partner. There is no disguising this
unvarnished truth; and though his friends did well in getting the
connection ended as quickly as possible, they could not eradicate the
original sin of the transaction, nor extinguish the consequences
which it of necessity entailed. Let me not, however, be
misunderstood: my objection to the conduct of Byron does not lie
against the wish to turn his extraordinary talents to profitable
account, but to the mode in which he proposed to, and did, employ
them. Whether Mr Hunt was or was not a fit copartner for one of his
Lordship's rank and celebrity, I do not undertake to judge; but any
individual was good enough for that vile prostitution of his genius,
to which, in an unguarded hour, he submitted for money. Indeed, it
would be doing injustice to compare the motives of Mr Hunt in the
business with those by which Lord Byron was infatuated. He put
nothing to hazard; happen what might, he could not be otherwise than
a gainer; for if profit failed, it could not be denied that the
"foremost" poet of all the age had discerned in him either the
promise or the existence of merit, which he was desirous of
associating with his own. This advantage Mr Hunt did gain by the
connection; and it is his own fault that he cannot be recollected as
the associate of Byron, but only as having attempted to deface his


Mr Shelley--Sketch of his Life--His Death--The Burning of his Body,
and the Return of the Mourners

It has been my study in writing these sketches to introduce as few
names as the nature of the work would admit of; but Lord Byron
connected himself with persons who had claims to public consideration
on account of their talents; and, without affectation, it is not easy
to avoid taking notice of his intimacy with some of them, especially,
if in the course of it any circumstance came to pass which was in
itself remarkable, or likely to have produced an impression on his
Lordship's mind. His friendship with Mr Shelley, mentioned in the
preceding chapter, was an instance of this kind.

That unfortunate gentleman was undoubtedly a man of genius--full of
ideal beauty and enthusiasm. And yet there was some defect in his
understanding by which he subjected himself to the accusation of
atheism. In his dispositions he is represented to have been ever
calm and amiable; and but for his metaphysical errors and reveries,
and a singular incapability of conceiving the existing state of
things as it practically affects the nature and condition of man, to
have possessed many of the gentlest qualities of humanity. He highly
admired the endowments of Lord Byron, and in return was esteemed by
his Lordship; but even had there been neither sympathy nor friendship
between them, his premature fate could not but have saddened Byron
with no common sorrow.

Mr Shelley was some years younger than his noble friend; he was the
eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley, Bart., of Castle Goring, Sussex.
At the age of thirteen he was sent to Eton, where he rarely mixed in
the common amusements of the other boys; but was of a shy, reserved
disposition, fond of solitude, and made few friends. He was not
distinguished for his proficiency in the regular studies of the
school; on the contrary, he neglected them for German and chemistry.
His abilities were superior, but deteriorated by eccentricity. At
the age of sixteen he was sent to the University of Oxford, where he
soon distinguished himself by publishing a pamphlet, under the absurd
and world-defying title of The Necessity of Atheism; for which he was
expelled from the University.

The event proved fatal to his prospects in life; and the treatment he
received from his family was too harsh to win him from error. His
father, however, in a short time relented, and he was received home;
but he took so little trouble to conciliate the esteem of his
friends, that he found the house uncomfortable, and left it. He then
went to London; where he eloped with a young lady to Gretna Green.
Their united ages amounted to thirty-two; and the match being deemed
unsuitable to his rank and prospects, it so exasperated his father,
that he broke off all communication with him.

After their marriage the young couple resided some time in Edinburgh.
They then passed over to Ireland, which being in a state of
disturbance, Shelley took a part in politics, more reasonable than
might have been expected. He inculcated moderation.

About this tune he became devoted to the cultivation of his poetical
talents; but his works were sullied with the erroneous inductions of
an understanding which, inasmuch as he regarded all the existing
world in the wrong, must be considered as having been either
shattered or defective.

His rash marriage proved, of course, an unhappy one. After the birth
of two children, a separation, by mutual consent, took place, and Mrs
Shelley committed suicide.

He then married a daughter of Mr Godwin, the author of Caleb
Williams, and they resided for some time at Great Marlow, in
Buckinghamshire, much respected for their charity. In the meantime,
his irreligious opinions had attracted public notice, and, in
consequence of his unsatisfactory notions of the Deity, his children,
probably at the instance of his father, were taken from him by a
decree of the Lord Chancellor: an event which, with increasing
pecuniary embarrassments, induced him to quit England, with the
intention of never returning.

Being in Switzerland when Lord Byron, after his domestic
tribulations, arrived at Geneva, they became acquainted. He then
crossed the Alps, and again at Venice renewed his friendship with his
Lordship; he thence passed to Rome, where he resided some time; and
after visiting Naples, fixed his permanent residence in Tuscany. His
acquirements were constantly augmenting, and he was without question
an accomplished person. He was, however, more of a metaphysician
than a poet, though there are splendid specimens of poetical thought
in his works. As a man, he was objected to only on account of his
speculative opinions; for he possessed many amiable qualities, was
just in his intentions, and generous to excess.

When he had seen Mr Hunt established in the Casa Lanfranchi with Lord
Byron at Pisa, Mr Shelley returned to Leghorn, for the purpose of
taking a sea excursion; an amusement to which he was much attached.
During a violent storm the boat was swamped, and the party on board
were all drowned. Their bodies were, however, afterwards cast on
shore; Mr Shelley's was found near Via Reggio, and, being greatly
decomposed, and unfit to be removed, it was determined to reduce the
remains to ashes, that they might be carried to a place of sepulture.
Accordingly preparations were made for the burning.

Wood in abundance was found on the shore, consisting of old trees and
the wreck of vessels: the spot itself was well suited for the
ceremony. The magnificent bay of Spezzia was on the right, and
Leghorn on the left, at equal distances of about two-and-twenty
miles. The headlands project boldly far into the sea; in front lie
several islands, and behind dark forests and the cliffy Apennines.
Nothing was omitted that could exalt and dignify the mournful rites
with the associations of classic antiquity; frankincense and wine
were not forgotten. The weather was serene and beautiful, and the
pacified ocean was silent, as the flame rose with extraordinary
brightness. Lord Byron was present; but he should himself have
described the scene and what he felt.

These antique obsequies were undoubtedly affecting; but the return of
the mourners from the burning is the most appalling orgia, without
the horror of crime, of which I have ever heard. When the duty was
done, and the ashes collected, they dined and drank much together,
and bursting from the calm mastery with which they had repressed
their feelings during the solemnity, gave way to frantic exultation.
They were all drunk; they sang, they shouted, and their barouche was
driven like a whirlwind through the forest. I can conceive nothing
descriptive of the demoniac revelry of that flight, but scraps of the
dead man's own song of Faust, Mephistophiles, and Ignis Fatuus, in
alternate chorus.

The limits of the sphere of dream,
The bounds of true and false are past;
Lead us on, thou wand'ring Gleam;
Lead us onwards, far and fast,
To the wide, the desert waste.

But see how swift, advance and shift,
Trees behind trees--row by row,
Now clift by clift, rocks bend and lift,
Their frowning foreheads as we go;
The giant-snouted crags, ho! ho!
How they snort, and how they blow.
Honour her to whom honour is due,
Old mother Baubo, honour to you.
An able sow with old Baubo upon her
Is worthy of glory and worthy of honour.

The way is wide, the way is long,
But what is that for a Bedlam throng?
Some on a ram, and some on a prong,
On poles and on broomsticks we flutter along.

Every trough will be boat enough,
With a rag for a sail, we can sweep through the sky.
Who flies not to-night, when means he to fly?


"The Two Foscari"--"Werner"--"The Deformed Transformed"--"Don Juan"--
"The Liberal"--Removes from Pisa to Genoa

I have never heard exactly where the tragedy of The Two Foscari was
written: that it was imagined in Venice is probable. The subject
is, perhaps, not very fit for a drama, for it has no action; but it
is rich in tragic materials, revenge and affection, and the
composition is full of the peculiar stuff of the poet's own mind.
The exulting sadness with which Jacopo Foscari looks in the first
scene from the window, on the Adriatic, is Byron himself recalling
his enjoyment of the sea.

How many a time have I
Cloven with arm still lustier, heart more daring,
The wave all roughen'd: with a swimmer's stroke
Flinging the billows back from my drench'd hair,
And laughing from my lip th' audacious brine
Which kiss'd it like a wine-cup.

The whole passage, both prelude and remainder, glows with the
delicious recollections of laying and revelling in the summer waves.
But the exile's feeling is no less beautifully given and appropriate
to the author's condition, far more so, indeed, than to that of
Jacopo Foscari.

Had I gone forth
From my own land, like the old patriarchs, seeking
Another region with their flocks and herds;
Had I been cast out like the Jews from Zion,
Or like our fathers driven by Attila
From fertile Italy to barren islets,
I would have given some tears to my late country,
And many thoughts; but afterward address'd
Myself to those about me, to create
A new home and first state.

What follows is still more pathetic:

Ay--we but hear
Of the survivors' toil in their new lands,
Their numbers and success; but who can number
The hearts which broke in silence of that parting,
Or after their departure; of that malady {291a}
Which calls up green and native fields to view
From the rough deep with such identity
To the poor exile's fever'd eye, that he
Can scarcely be restrained from treading them?
That melody {291b} which out of tones and tunes
Collects such pastime for the ling'ring sorrow
Of the sad mountaineer, when far away
From his snow-canopy of cliffs and clouds,
That he feeds on the sweet but poisonous thought
And dies.--You call this weakness! It is strength,
I say--the parent of all honest feeling:
He who loves not his country can love nothing.


Obey her then, 'tis she that puts thee forth.


Ay, there it is. 'Tis like a mother's curse
Upon my soul--the mark is set upon me.
The exiles you speak of went forth by nations;
Their hands upheld each other by the way;
Their tents were pitch'd together--I'm alone--
Ah, you never yet
Were far away from Venice--never saw
Her beautiful towers in the receding distance,
While every furrow of the vessel's track
Seem'd ploughing deep into your heart; you never
Saw day go down upon your native spires
So calmly with its gold and crimson glory,
And after dreaming a disturbed vision
Of them and theirs, awoke and found them not.

All this speaks of the voluntary exile's own regrets, and awakens
sympathy for the anguish which pride concealed, but unable to
repress, gave vent to in the imagined sufferings of one that was to
him as Hecuba.

It was at Pisa that Werner, or The Inheritance, a tragedy, was
written, or at least completed. It is taken entirely from the
German's tale, Kruitzner, published many years before, by one of the
Miss Lees, in their Canterbury Tales. So far back as 1815, Byron
began a drama upon the same subject, and nearly completed an act when
he was interrupted. "I have adopted," he says himself, "the
characters, plan, and even the language of many parts of this story";
an acknowledgment which exempts it from that kind of criticism to
which his principal works are herein subjected.

But The Deformed Transformed, which was also written at Pisa, is,
though confessedly an imitation of Goethe's Faust, substantially an
original work. In the opinion of Mr Moore, it probably owes
something to the author's painful sensibility to the defect in his
own foot; an accident which must, from the acuteness with which he
felt it, have essentially contributed to enable him to comprehend and
to express the envy of those afflicted with irremediable exceptions
to the ordinary course of fortune, or who have been amerced by nature
of their fair proportions. But save only a part of the first scene,
the sketch will not rank among the felicitous works of the poet. It
was intended to be a satire--probably, at least--but it is only a
fragment--a failure.

Hitherto I have not noticed Don Juan otherwise than incidentally. It
was commenced in Venice, and afterward continued at intervals to the
end of the sixteenth canto, until the author left Pisa, when it was
not resumed, at least no more has been published. Strong objections
have been made to its moral tendency; but, in the opinion of many, it
is the poet's masterpiece, and undoubtedly it displays all the
variety of his powers, combined with a quaint playfulness not found
to an equal degree in any other of his works. The serious and
pathetic portions are exquisitely beautiful; the descriptive have all
the distinctness of the best pictures in Childe Harold, and are,
moreover, generally drawn from nature, while the satire is for the
most part curiously associated and sparklingly witty. The characters
are sketched with amazing firmness and freedom, and though sometimes
grotesque, are yet not often overcharged. It is professedly an epic
poem, but it may be more properly described as a poetical novel. Nor
can it be said to inculcate any particular moral, or to do more than
unmantle the decorum of society. Bold and buoyant throughout, it
exhibits a free irreverent knowledge of the world, laughing or
mocking as the thought serves, in the most unexpected antitheses to
the proprieties of time, place, and circumstance.

The object of the poem is to describe the progress of a libertine
through life, not an unprincipled prodigal, whose profligacy, growing
with his growth, and strengthening with his strength, passes from
voluptuous indulgence into the sordid sensuality of systematic
debauchery, but a young gentleman, who, whirled by the vigour and
vivacity of his animal spirits into a world of adventures, in which
his stars are chiefly in fault for his liaisons, settles at last into
an honourable lawgiver, a moral speaker on divorce bills, and
possibly a subscriber to the Society for the Suppression of Vice.
The author has not completed his design, but such appears to have
been the drift of it, affording ample opportunities to unveil the
foibles and follies of all sorts of men--and women too. It is
generally supposed to contain much of the author's own experience,
but still, with all its riant knowledge of bowers and boudoirs, it is
deficient as a true limning of the world, by showing man as if he
were always ruled by one predominant appetite.

In the character of Donna Inez and Don Jose, it has been imagined
that Lord Byron has sketched himself and his lady. It may be so; and
if it were, he had by that time got pretty well over the lachrymation
of their parting. It is no longer doubtful that the twenty-seventh
stanza records a biographical fact, and the thirty-sixth his own
feelings, when,

Poor fellow! he had many things to wound him,
Let's own, since it can do no good on earth;
It was a trying moment that which found him
Standing alone beside his desolate hearth,
Where all his household gods lay shiver'd round him:
No choice was left his feelings or his pride,
Save death or Doctors' Commons.

It has been already mentioned, that while the poet was at Dr
Glennie's academy at Dulwich, he read an account of a shipwreck,
which has been supposed to have furnished some of the most striking
incidents in the description of the disastrous voyage in the second
canto in Don Juan. I have not seen that work; but whatever Lord
Byron may have found in it suitable to his purpose, he has
undoubtedly made good use of his grandfather's adventures. The
incident of the spaniel is related by the admiral.

In the licence of Don Juan, the author seems to have considered that
his wonted accuracy might be dispensed with.

The description of Haidee applies to an Albanian, not a Greek girl.
The splendour of her father's house is altogether preposterous; and
the island has no resemblance to those of the Cyclades. With the
exception of Zea, his Lordship, however, did not visit them. Some
degree of error and unlike description, runs indeed through the whole
of the still life around the portrait of Haidee. The fete which
Lambro discovers on his return, is, however, prettily described; and
the dance is as perfect as true.

And farther on a group of Grecian girls,
The first and tallest her white kerchief waving,
Were strung together like a row of pearls,
Link'd hand in hand and dancing; each too having
Down her white neck long floating auburn curls.
Their leader sang, and bounded to her song,
With choral step and voice, the virgin throng.

The account of Lambro proceeding to the house is poetically imagined;
and, in his character, may be traced a vivid likeness of Ali Pasha,
and happy illustrative allusions to the adventures of that chief.

The fourth canto was written at Ravenna; it is so said within itself;
and the description of Dante's sepulchre there may be quoted for its
truth, and the sweet modulation of the moral reflection interwoven
with it.

I pass each day where Dante's bones are laid;
A little cupola, more neat than solemn,
Protects his dust; but reverence here is paid
To the bard's tomb and not the warrior's column.
The time must come when both alike decay'd,
The chieftain's trophy and the poet's volume
Will sink where lie the songs and wars of earth,
Before Pelides' death or Homer's birth.

The fifth canto was also written in Ravenna. But it is not my
intention to analyze this eccentric and meandering poem; a
composition which cannot be well estimated by extracts. Without,
therefore, dwelling at greater length on its variety and merits. I
would only observe that the general accuracy of the poet's
descriptions is verified by that of the scenes in which Juan is
placed in England, a point the reader may determine for himself;
while the vagueness of the parts derived from books, or sketched from
fancy, as contrasted with them, justifies the opinion, that invention
was not the most eminent faculty of Byron, either in scenes or in
characters. Of the demerits of the poem it is only necessary to
remark, that it has been proscribed on account of its immorality;
perhaps, however, there was more of prudery than of equity in the
decision, at least it is liable to be so considered, so long as
reprints are permitted of the older dramatists, with all their
unpruned licentiousness.

But the wheels of Byron's destiny were now hurrying. Both in the
conception and composition of Don Juan he evinced an increasing
disregard of the world's opinion; and the project of The Liberal was
still more fatal to his reputation. Not only were the invidious eyes
of bigotry now eagerly fixed upon his conduct, but those of
admiration were saddened and turned away from him. His principles,
which would have been more correctly designated as paradoxes, were
objects of jealousy to the Tuscan Government; and it has been already
seen that there was a disorderliness about the Casa Lanfranchi which
attracted the attention of the police. His situation in Pisa became,
in consequence, irksome; and he resolved to remove to Genoa, an
intention which he carried into effect about the end of September,
1822, at which period his thoughts began to gravitate towards Greece.
Having attained to the summit of his literary eminence, he grew
ambitious of trying fortune in another field of adventure.

In all the migrations of Lord Byron there was ever something
grotesque and desultory. In moving from Ravenna to Pisa, his caravan
consisted of seven servants, five carriages, nine horses, a monkey, a
bulldog, and a mastiff, two cats, three peafowl, a harem of hens,
books, saddles, and firearms, with a chaos of furniture nor was the
exodus less fantastical; for in addition to all his own clanjamphry,
he had Mr Hunt's miscellaneous assemblage of chattels and chattery
and little ones.


Genoa--Change in the Manners of Lord Byron--Residence at the Casa
Saluzzi--"The Liberal"--Remarks on the Poet's Works in general and on
Hunt's Strictures on his Character

Previously to their arrival at Genoa, a house had been taken for Lord
Byron and the Guiccioli in Albaro, a pleasant village on a hill, in
the vicinity of the city; it was the Casa Saluzzi, and I have been
told, that during the time he resided there, he seemed to enjoy a
more uniform and temperate gaiety than in any former period of his
life. There might have been less of sentiment in his felicity, than
when he lived at Ravenna, as he seldom wrote poetry, but he appeared
to some of his occasional visitors, who knew him in London, to have
become more agreeable and manly. I may add, at the risk of sarcasm
for the vanity, that in proof of his mellowed temper towards me,
besides the kind frankness with which he received my friend, as
already mentioned, he sent me word, by the Earl of Blesinton, that he
had read my novel of The Entail three times, and thought the old
Leddy Grippy one of the most living-like heroines he had ever met
with. This was the more agreeable, as I had heard within the same
week, that Sir Walter Scott had done and said nearly the same thing.
Half the compliment from two such men would be something to be proud

Lord Byron's residence at Albaro was separate from that of Mr Hunt,
and, in consequence, they were more rarely together than when
domiciled under the same roof as at Pisa. Indeed, by this time, if
one may take Mr Hunt's own account of the matter, they appear to have
become pretty well tired of each other. He had found out that a peer
is, as a friend, but as a plebeian, and a great poet not always a
high-minded man. His Lordship had, on his part, discovered that
something more than smartness or ingenuity is necessary to protect
patronage from familiarity. Perhaps intimate acquaintance had also
tended to enable him to appreciate, with greater accuracy, the
meretricious genius and artificial tastes of his copartner in The
Liberal. It is certain that he laughed at his affected admiration of
landscapes, and considered his descriptions of scenery as drawn from

One day, as a friend of mine was conversing with his Lordship at the
Casa Saluzzi, on the moral impressions of magnificent scenery, he
happened to remark that he thought the view of the Alps in the
evening, from Turin, the sublimest scene he had ever beheld. "It is
impossible," said he, "at such a time, when all the west is golden
and glowing behind them, to contemplate such vast masses of the Deity
without being awed into rest, and forgetting such things as man and
his follies."--"Hunt," said his Lordship, smiling, "has no perception
of the sublimity of Alpine scenery; he calls a mountain a great

In the mean time the materials for the first number of The Liberal
had been transmitted to London, where the manuscript of The Vision of
Judgment was already, and something of its quality known. All his
Lordship's friends were disturbed at the idea of the publication.
They did not like the connection he had formed with Mr Shelley--they
liked still less the copartnery with Mr Hunt. With the justice or
injustice of these dislikes I have nothing to do. It is an
historical fact that they existed, and became motives with those who
deemed themselves the custodiers of his Lordship's fame, to seek a
dissolution of the association.

The first number of The Liberal, containing The Vision of Judgment,
was received soon after the copartnery had established themselves at
Genoa, accompanied with hopes and fears. Much good could not be
anticipated from a work which outraged the loyal and decorous
sentiments of the nation towards the memory of George III. To the
second number Lord Byron contributed the Heaven and Earth, a sacred
drama, which has been much misrepresented in consequence of its
fraternity with Don Juan and The Vision of Judgment; for it contains
no expression to which religion can object, nor breathes a thought at
variance with the Genesis. The history of literature affords no
instance of a condemnation less justifiable, on the plea of
profanity, than that of this Mystery. That it abounds in literary
blemishes, both of plan and language, and that there are harsh
jangles and discords in the verse, is not disputed; but still it
abounds in a grave patriarchal spirit, and is echo to the oracles of
Adam and Melchisedek. It may not be worthy of Lord Byron's genius,
but it does him no dishonour, and contains passages which accord with
the solemn diapasons of ancient devotion. The disgust which The
Vision of Judgment had produced, rendered it easy to persuade the
world that there was impiety in the Heaven and Earth, although, in
point of fact, it may be described as hallowed with the Scriptural
theology of Milton. The objections to its literary defects were
magnified into sins against worship and religion.

The Liberal stopped with the fourth number, I believe. It
disappointed not merely literary men in general, but even the most
special admirers of the talents of the contributors. The main defect
of the work was a lack of knowledge. Neither in style nor genius,
nor even in general ability, was it wanting; but where it showed
learning it was not of a kind in which the age took much interest.
Moreover, the manner and cast of thinking of all the writers in it
were familiar to the public, and they were too few in number to
variegate their pages with sufficient novelty. But the main cause of
the failure was the antipathy formed and fostered against it before
it appeared. It was cried down, and it must be acknowledged that it
did not much deserve a better fate.

With The Liberal I shall close my observations on the works of Lord
Byron. They are too voluminous to be examined even in the brief and
sketchy manner in which I have considered those which are deemed the
principal. Besides, they are not, like them, all characteristic of
the author, though possessing great similarity in style and thought
to one another. Nor would such general criticism accord with the
plan of this work. Lord Byron was not always thinking of himself;
like other authors, he sometimes wrote from imaginary circumstances;
and often fancied both situations and feelings which had no reference
to his own, nor to his experience. But were the matter deserving of
the research, I am persuaded, that with Mr Moore's work, and the
poet's original journals, notes, and letters, innumerable additions
might be made to the list of passages which the incidents of his own
life dictated.

The abandonment of The Liberal closed his Lordship's connection with
Mr Hunt; their friendship, if such ever really existed, was ended
long before. It is to be regretted that Byron has not given some
account of it himself; for the manner in which he is represented to
have acted towards his unfortunate partner, renders another version
of the tale desirable. At the same time--and I am not one of those
who are disposed to magnify the faults and infirmities of Byron--I
fear there is no excess of truth in Hunt's opinion of him. I judge
by an account which Lord Byron gave himself to a mutual friend, who
did not, however, see the treatment in exactly the same light as that
in which it appeared to me. But, while I cannot regard his
Lordship's conduct as otherwise than unworthy, still the pains which
Mr Hunt has taken to elaborate his character and dispositions into
every modification of weakness, almost justifies us in thinking that
he was treated according to his deserts. Byron had at least the
manners of a gentleman, and though not a judicious knowledge of the
world, he yet possessed prudence enough not to be always unguarded.
Mr Hunt informs us, that when he joined his Lordship at Leghorn, his
own health was impaired, and that his disease rather increased than
diminished during his residence at Pisa and Genoa; to say nothing of
the effect which the loss of his friend had on him, and the
disappointment he suffered in The Liberal; some excuse may,
therefore, be made for him. In such a condition, misapprehensions
were natural; jocularity might be mistaken for sarcasm, and caprice
felt as insolence.


Lord Byron resolves to join the Greeks--Arrives at Cephalonia--Greek
Factions--Sends Emissaries to the Grecian Chiefs--Writes to London
about the Loan--To Mavrocordato on the Dissensions--Embarks at lest
for Missolonghi

While The Liberal was halting onward to its natural doom, the
attention of Lord Byron was attracted towards the struggles of

In that country his genius was first effectually developed; his name
was associated with many of its most romantic scenes, and the cause
was popular with all the educated and refined of Europe. He had
formed besides a personal attachment to the land, and perhaps many of
his most agreeable local associations were fixed amid the ruins of
Greece, and in her desolated valleys. The name is indeed alone
calculated to awaken the noblest feelings of humanity. The spirit of
her poets, the wisdom and the heroism of her worthies; whatever is
splendid in genius, unparalleled in art, glorious in arms, and wise
in philosophy, is associated in their highest excellence with that
beautiful region.

Had Lord Byron never been in Greece, he was, undoubtedly, one of
those men whom the resurrection of her spirit was likeliest to
interest; but he was not also one fitted to do her cause much
service. His innate indolence, his sedentary habits, and that all-
engrossing consideration for himself, which, in every situation,
marred his best impulses, were shackles upon the practice of the
stern bravery in himself which he has so well expressed in his works.

It was expected when he sailed for Greece, nor was the expectation
unreasonable with those who believe imagination and passion to be of
the same element, that the enthusiasm which flamed so highly in his
verse was the spirit of action, and would prompt him to undertake
some great enterprise. But he was only an artist; he could describe
bold adventures and represent high feeling, as other gifted
individuals give eloquence to canvas and activity to marble; but he
did not possess the wisdom necessary for the instruction of councils.
I do, therefore, venture to say, that in embarking for Greece, he was
not entirely influenced by such exoterical motives as the love of
glory or the aspirations of heroism. His laurels had for some time
ceased to flourish, the sear and yellow, the mildew and decay, had
fallen upon them, and he was aware that the bright round of his fame
was ovalling from the full and showing the dim rough edge of waning.

He was, moreover, tired of the Guiccioli, and again afflicted with a
desire for some new object with which to be in earnest. The Greek
cause seemed to offer this, and a better chance for distinction than
any other pursuit in which he could then engage. In the spring of
1823 he accordingly made preparations for transferring himself from
Genoa to Greece, and opened a correspondence with the leaders of the
insurrection, that the importance of his adhesion might be duly

Greece, with a fair prospect of ultimate success, was at that time as
distracted in her councils as ever. Her arms had been victorious,
but the ancient jealousy of the Greek mind was unmitigated. The
third campaign had commenced, and yet no regular government had been
organized; the fiscal resources of the country were neglected: a
wild energy against the Ottomans was all that the Greeks could depend
on for continuing the war.

Lord Byron arrived in Cephalonia about the middle of August, 1823,
where he fixed his residence for some time. This was prudent, but it
said nothing for that spirit of enterprise with which a man engaging
in such a cause, in such a country, and with such a people, ought to
have been actuated--especially after Marco Botzaris, one of the best
and most distinguished of the chiefs, had earnestly urged him to join
him at Missolonghi. I fear that I may not be able to do justice to
Byron's part in the affairs of Greece; but I shall try. He did not
disappoint me, for he only acted as might have been expected, from
his unsteady energies. Many, however, of his other friends longed in
vain to hear of that blaze of heroism, by which they anticipated that
his appearance in the field would be distinguished.

Among his earliest proceedings was the equipment of forty Suliotes,
or Albanians, whom he sent to Marco Botzaris to assist in the defence
of Missolonghi. An adventurer of more daring would have gone with
them; and when the battle was over, in which Botzaris fell, he
transmitted bandages and medicines, of which he had brought a large
supply from Italy, and pecuniary succour, to the wounded.

This was considerate, but there was too much consideration in all
that he did at this time, neither in unison with the impulses of his
natural character, nor consistent with the heroic enthusiasm with
which the admirers of his poetry imagined he was kindled.

In the mean time he had offered to advance one thousand dollars a
month for the succour of Missolonghi and the troops with Marco
Botzaris; but the government, instead of accepting the offer,
intimated that they wished previously to confer with him, which he
interpreted into a desire to direct the expenditure of the money to
other purposes. In his opinion his Lordship was probably not
mistaken; but his own account of his feeling in the business does not
tend to exalt the magnanimity of his attachment to the cause: "I
will take care," says he, "that it is for the public cause, otherwise
I will not advance a para. The opposition say they want to cajole
me, and the party in power say the others wish to seduce me; so,
between the two, I have a difficult part to play; however, I will
have nothing to do with the factions, unless to reconcile them, if

It is difficult to conceive that Lord Byron, "the searcher of dark
bosoms," could have expressed himself so weakly and with such vanity;
but the shadow of coming fate had already reached him, and his
judgment was suffering in the blight that had fallen on his
reputation. To think of the possibility of reconciling two Greek
factions, or any factions, implies a degree of ignorance of mankind,
which, unless it had been given in his Lordship's own writing, would
not have been credible; and as to having nothing to do with the
factions, for what purpose went he to Greece, unless it was to take a
part with one of them? I abstain from saying what I think of his
hesitation in going to the government instead of sending two of his
associated adventurers, Mr Trelawney and Mr Hamilton Brown, whom he
despatched to collect intelligence as to the real state of things,
substituting their judgment for his own. When the Hercules, the ship
he chartered to carry him to Greece, weighed anchor, he was committed
with the Greeks, and everything short of unequivocal folly he was
bound to have done with and for them.

His two emissaries or envoys proceeded to Tripolizza, where they
found Colocotroni seated in the palace of the late vizier, Velhi
Pasha, in great power; the court-yard and galleries filled with armed
men in garrison, while there was no enemy at that time in the Morea
able to come against them! The Greek chieftains, like their classic
predecessors, though embarked in the same adventure, were personal
adversaries to each other. Colocotroni spoke of his compeer
Mavrocordato in the very language of Agamemnon, when he said that he
had declared to him, unless he desisted from his intrigues, he would
mount him on an ass and whip him out of the Morea; and that he had
only been restrained from doing so by the representation of his
friends, who thought it would injure their common cause. Such was
the spirit of the chiefs of the factions which Lord Byron thought it
not impossible to reconcile!

At this time Missolonghi was in a critical state, being blockaded
both by land and sea; and the report of Trelawney to Lord Byron
concerning it, was calculated to rouse his Lordship to activity.
"There have been," says he, "thirty battles fought and won by the
late Marco Botzaris, and his gallant tribe of Suliotes, who are shut
up in Missolonghi. If it fall, Athens will be in danger, and
thousands of throats cut: a few thousand dollars would provide ships
to relieve it; a portion of this sum is raised, and I would coin my
heart to save this key of Greece." Bravely said! but deserving of
little attention. The fate of Missolonghi could have had no visible
effect on that of Athens.

The distance between these two places is more than a hundred miles,
and Lord Byron was well acquainted with the local difficulties of the
intervening country; still it was a point to which the eyes of the
Greeks were all at that time directed; and Mavrocordato, then in
correspondence with Lord Byron, and who was endeavouring to collect a
fleet for the relief of the place, induced his Lordship to undertake
to provide the money necessary for the equipment of the fleet, to the
extent of twelve thousand pounds. It was on this occasion his
Lordship addressed a letter to the Greek chiefs, that deserves to be
quoted, for the sagacity with which it suggests what may be the
conduct of the great powers of Christendom.

"I must frankly confess," says he, "that unless union and order are
confirmed, all hopes of a loan will be in vain, and all the
assistance which the Greeks could expect from abroad, an assistance
which might be neither trifling nor worthless, will be suspended or
destroyed; and what is worse, the great powers of Europe, of whom no
one was an enemy to Greece, but seemed inclined to favour her in
consenting to the establishment of an independent power, will be
persuaded that the Greeks are unable to govern themselves, and will,
perhaps, undertake to arrange your disorders in such a way, as to
blast the brightest hopes you indulge, and that are indulged by your

In the meantime, Lord Byron was still at the villa he had hired in
Cephalonia, where his conduct was rather that of a spectator than an
ally. Colonel Stanhope, in a letter of the 26th of November,
describes him as having been there about three months, and spending
his time exactly as every one acquainted with his habits must have
expected. "The first six weeks he spent on board a merchant-vessel,
and seldom went on shore, except on business. Since that period he
has lived in a little villa in the country, in absolute retirement,
Count Gamba (brother to the Guiccioli) being his only companion."--
Such, surely, was not exactly playing that part in the Greek cause
which he had taught the world to look for. It is true, that the
accounts received there of the Greek affairs were not then
favourable. Everybody concurred in representing the executive
government as devoid of public virtue, and actuated by avarice or
personal ambition. This intelligence was certainly not calculated to
increase Lord Byron's ardour, and may partly excuse the causes of his
personal inactivity. I say personal, because he had written to
London to accelerate the attempt to raise a loan, and, at the
suggestion of Colonel Stanhope, he addressed a letter to Mavrocordato
respecting the inevitable consequences of their calamitous
dissensions. The object of this letter was to induce a
reconciliation between the rival factions, or to throw the odium, of
having thwarted the loan, upon the Executive, and thereby to degrade
the members of it in the opinion of the people. "I am very uneasy,"
said his Lordship to the prince, "at hearing that the dissensions of
Greece still continue; and at a moment when she might triumph over
everything in general, as she has triumphed in part. Greece is at
present placed between three measures; either to reconquer her
liberty, or to become a dependence of the sovereigns of Europe, or to
return to a Turkish province; she has already the choice only of
these three alternatives. Civil war is but a road which leads to the
two latter. If she is desirous of the fate of Wallachia and the
Crimea, she may obtain it TO-MORROW; if that of Italy, THE DAY AFTER.
But if she wishes to become TRULY GREECE, FREE AND INDEPENDENT, she
must resolve TO-DAY, or she will never again have the opportunity,"
etc., etc.

Meanwhile, the Greek people became impatient for Lord Byron to come
among them. They looked forward to his arrival as to the coming of a
Messiah. Three boats were successively despatched for him and two of
them returned, one after the other, without him. On the 29th of
December, 1823, however, his Lordship did at last embark.


Lord Byron's Conversations on Religion with Dr Kennedy

While Lord Byron was hesitating, in the Island of Cephalonia, about
proceeding to Greece, an occurrence took place, of which much has
been made. I allude to the acquaintance he formed with a Dr Kennedy,
the publication of whose conversations with him on religion has
attracted some degree of public attention.

This gentleman was originally destined for the Scottish bar, but
afterwards became a student of medicine, and entering the medical
department of the army, happened to be stationed in Cephalonia when
Lord Byron arrived. He appears to have been a man of kind
dispositions, possessed of a better heart than judgment; in all
places wherever his duty bore him he took a lively interest in the
condition of the inhabitants, and was active, both in his official
and private capacity, to improve it. He had a taste for circulating
pious tracts, and zealously co-operated in distributing copies of the

Firmly settled, himself, in a conviction of the truth of
Christianity, he was eager to make converts to his views of the
doctrines; but whether he was exactly the kind of apostle to achieve
the conversion of Lord Byron may, perhaps, be doubted. His sincerity
and the disinterestedness of his endeavours would secure to him from
his Lordship an indulgent and even patient hearing. But I fear that
without some more effectual calling, the arguments he appears to have
employed were not likely to have made Lord Byron a proselyte. His
Lordship was so constituted in his mind, and by his temperament, that
nothing short of regeneration could have made him a Christian,
according to the gospel of Dr Kennedy.

Lord Byron had but loose feelings in religion--scarcely any. His
sensibility and a slight constitutional leaning towards superstition
and omens showed that the sense of devotion was, however, alive and
awake within him; but with him religion was a sentiment, and the
convictions of the understanding had nothing whatever to do with his
creed. That he was deeply imbued with the essence of natural piety;
that he often felt the power and being of a God thrilling in all his
frame, and glowing in his bosom, I declare my thorough persuasion;
and that he believed in some of the tenets and in the philosophy of
Christianity, as they influence the spirit and conduct of men, I am
as little disposed to doubt; especially if those portions of his
works which only trend towards the subject, and which bear the
impression of fervour and earnestness, may be admitted as evidence.
But he was not a member of any particular church, and, without a
reconstruction of his mind and temperament, I venture to say, he
could not have become such; not in consequence, as too many have
represented, of any predilection, either of feeling or principle,
against Christianity, but entirely owing to an organic peculiarity of
mind. He reasoned on every topic by instinct, rather than by
induction or any process of logic; and could never be so convinced of
the truth or falsehood of an abstract proposition, as to feel it
affect the current of his actions. He may have assented to
arguments, without being sensible of their truth; merely because they
were not objectionable to his feelings at the time. And, in the same
manner, he may have disputed even fair inferences, from admitted
premises, if the state of his feelings happened to be indisposed to
the subject. I am persuaded, nevertheless, that to class him among
absolute infidels were to do injustice to his memory, and that he has
suffered uncharitably in the opinion of "the rigidly righteous," who,
because he had not attached himself to any particular sect or
congregation, assumed that he was an adversary to religion. To claim
for him any credit, as a pious man, would be absurd; but to suppose
he had not as deep an interest as other men "in his soul's health"
and welfare, was to impute to him a nature which cannot exist.
Being, altogether, a creature of impulses, he certainly could not be
ever employed in doxologies, or engaged in the logomachy of
churchmen; but he had the sentiment which at a tamer age might have
made him more ecclesiastical. There was as much truth as joke in the
expression, when he wrote,

I am myself a moderate Presbyterian.

A mind constituted like that of Lord Byron, was little susceptible of
impressions from the arguments of ordinary men. It was necessary
that Truth, in visiting him, should come arrayed in her solemnities,
and with Awe and Reverence for her precursors. Acknowledged
superiority, yea, celebrated wisdom, were indispensable, to bespeak
his sincere attention; and, without disparagement, it may be fairly
said, these were not the attributes of Dr Kennedy. On the contrary,
there was a taint of cant about him--perhaps he only acted like those
who have it--but still he was not exactly the dignitary to command
unaffected deference from the shrewd and irreverent author of Don
Juan. The result verified what ought to have been the anticipation.
The doctor's attempt to quicken Byron to a sense of grace failed; but
his Lordship treated him with politeness. The history of the affair
will, however, be more interesting than any reflections which it is
in my humble power to offer.

Some of Dr Kennedy's acquaintances wished to hear him explain, in "a
logical and demonstrative manner, the evidences and doctrines of
Christianity"; and Lord Byron, hearing of the intended meeting,
desired to be present, and was accordingly invited. He attended; but
was not present at several others which followed; he however
intimated to the doctor, that he would be glad to converse with him,
and the invitation was accepted. "On religion," says the doctor,
"his Lordship was in general a hearer, proposing his difficulties and
objections with more fairness than could have been expected from one
under similar circumstances; and with so much candour, that they
often seemed to be proposed more for the purpose of procuring
information, or satisfactory answers, than from any other motive."

At the first meeting, Dr Kennedy explained, becomingly, his views of
the subject, and that he had read every work against Christianity
which fell in his way. It was this consideration which had induced
him with such confidence to enter upon the discussion, knowing, on
the one hand, the strength of Christianity, and, on the other, the
weakness of its assailants. "To show you, therefore," said the
doctor, "the grounds on which I demand your attention to what I may
say on the nature and evidence of Christianity, I shall mention the
names of some of the authors whose works I have read or consulted."
When he had mentioned all these names, Lord Byron asked if he had
read Barrow's and Stillingfleet's works? The doctor replied, "I have
seen them, but I have not read them."

After a disquisition, chiefly relative to the history of
Christianity, Dr Kennedy observed, "We must, on all occasions, but
more particularly in fair and logical discussions with sceptics, or
Deists, make a distinction between Christianity, as it is found in
the Scriptures, and the errors, abuses, and imperfections of
Christians themselves." To this his Lordship remarked, that he
always had taken care to make that distinction, as he knew enough of
Christianity to feel that it was both necessary and just. The doctor
remarked that the contrary was almost universally the case with those
who doubted or denied the truth of Christianity, and proceeded to
illustrate the statement. He then read a summary of the fundamental
doctrines of Christianity; but he had not proceeded far, when he
observed signs of impatience in Lord Byron, who inquired if these
sentiments accorded with the doctor's? and being answered they did,
and with those of all sound Christians, except in one or two minor
things, his Lordship rejoined, that he did not wish to hear the
opinions of others, whose writings he could read at any time, but
only his own. The doctor then read on till coming to the expression
"grace of God." His Lordship inquired, "What do you mean by grace?"
"The primary and fundamental meaning of the word," replied the
doctor, somewhat surprised at his ignorance (I quote his own
language), "is favour; though it varies according to the context to
express that disposition of God which leads Him to grant a favour,
the action of doing so, or the favour itself, or its effects on those
who receive it." The arrogance of the use of the term ignorance
here, requires no animadversion; but to suppose the greatest master,
then in existence, of the English language, not acquainted with the
meaning of the word, when he asked to be informed of the meaning
attached to it by the individual making use of it, gives us some
insight into the true character of the teacher. The doctor closed
the book, as he perceived that Lord Byron, as he says, had no
distinct conception of many of the words used; and his Lordship
subjoined, "What we want is, to be convinced that the Bible is true;
because if we can believe that, it will follow as a matter of course,
that we must believe all the doctrines it contains."

The reply to this was to the effect, that the observation was partly
just; but though the strongest evidence were produced of the
Scriptures being the revealed will of God, they (his Lordship and
others present) would still remain unbelievers, unless they knew and
comprehended the doctrines contained in the Scriptures. This was not
conclusive, and Lord Byron replied, that they wished him to prove
that the Scriptures were the Word of God, which the doctor, with more
than apostolic simplicity, said that such was his object, but he
should like to know what they deemed the clearest course to follow
with that object in view. After some farther conversation--"No other
plan was proposed by them," says the doctor; and he adds, "they had
violated their engagement to hear me for twelve hours, for which I
had stipulated." This may, perhaps, satisfy the reader as to the
quality of the doctor's understanding; but as the subject, in its
bearing, touches Lord Byron's character, I shall proceed a little
farther into the marrow of the matter.

The inculcation being finished for that evening, Lord Byron said,
that when he was young his mother brought him up strictly; and that
he had access to a great many theological works, and remembered that
he was particularly pleased with Barrow's writings, and that he also
went regularly to church. He declared that he was not an infidel,
who denied the Scriptures and wished to remain in unbelief; on the
contrary, he was desirous to believe, as he experienced no happiness
in having his religious opinions so unsteady and unfixed. But he
could not, he added, understand the Scriptures. "Those people who
conscientiously believe, I always have respected, and was always
disposed to trust in them more than in others." A desultory
conversation then ensued, respecting the language and translations of
the Scriptures; in the course of which his Lordship remarked, that
Scott, in his Commentary on the Bible, did not say that it was the
devil who tempted Eve, nor does the Bible say a word about the devil.
It is only said that the serpent spoke, and that it was the subtlest
of all the beasts of the field.--Will it be said that truth and
reason were served by Dr Kennedy's {319} answer? "As beasts have not
the faculty of speech, the just inference is, that the beast was only
an instrument made use of by some invisible and superior being. The
Scriptures accordingly tell us, that the devil is the father of lies-
-the lie made by the serpent to Eve being the first we have on
record; they call him also a murderer from the beginning, as he was
the cause of the sentence of death which was pronounced against Adam
and all his posterity; and still farther, to remove all doubt, and to
identify him as the agent who used the serpent as an instrument, he
is called the serpent--the devil."

Lord Byron inquired what the doctor thought of the theory of
Warburton, that the Jews had no distinct idea of a future state? The
doctor acknowledged that he had often seen, but had never read The
Divine Legation. And yet, he added, had Warburton read his Bible
with more simplicity and attention, he would have enjoyed a more
solid and honourable fame.

His Lordship then said, that one of the greatest difficulties he had
met with was the existence of so much pure and unmixed evil in the
world, and which he could not reconcile to the idea of a benevolent
Creator. The doctor set aside the question as to the origin of evil;
but granted the extensive existence of evil in the universe; to
remedy which, he said, the Gospel was proclaimed; and after some of
the customary commonplaces, he ascribed much of the existing evil to
the slackness of Christians in spreading the Gospel.

"Is there not," said his Lordship, "some part of the New Testament
where it appears that the disciples were struck with the state of
physical evil, and made inquiries into the cause?"--"There are two
passages," was the reply. The disciples inquired, when they saw a
man who had been born blind, whether it was owing to his own or his
parents' sin?--and, after quoting the other instance, he concludes,
that moral and physical evil in individuals are not always a judgment
or punishment, but are intended to answer certain ends in the
government of the world.

"Is there not," said his Lordship, "a prophecy in the New Testament
which it is alleged has not been fulfilled, although it was declared
that the end of the world would come before the generation then
existing should pass away?"--"The prediction," said Dr Kennedy,
"related to the destruction of Jerusalem, which certainly took place
within the time assigned; though some of the expressions descriptive
of the signs of that remarkable event are of such a nature as to
appear to apply to Christ's coming to judge the world at the end of

His Lordship then asked, if the doctor thought that there had been
fewer wars and persecutions, and less slaughter and misery, in the
world since the introduction of Christianity than before? The doctor
answered this by observing, that since Christianity inculcates peace
and good-will to all men, we must always separate pure religion from
the abuses of which its professors are guilty.

Two other opinions were expressed by his Lordship in the
conversation. The doctor, in speaking of the sovereignty of God, had
alluded to the similitude of the potter and his clay; for his
Lordship said, if he were broken in pieces, he would say to the
potter, "Why do you treat me thus?" The other was an absurdity. It
was--if the whole world were going to hell, he would prefer going
with them than go alone to heaven.

Such was the result of the first council of Cephalonia, if one may
venture the allusion. It is manifest, without saying much for Lord
Byron's ingenuity, that he was fully a match for the doctor, and that
he was not unacquainted with the subject under discussion.

In the next conversation Lord Byron repeated, "I have no wish to
reject Christianity without investigation; on the contrary, I am very
desirous of believing. But I do not see very much the need of a
Saviour, nor the utility of prayer. Devotion is the affection of the
heart, and this I feel. When I view the wonders of creation, I bow
to the Majesty of Heaven; and when I feel the enjoyments of life, I
feel grateful to God for having bestowed them upon me." Upon this
some discussion arose, turning chiefly on the passage in the third
chapter of John, "Unless a man is converted, he cannot enter the
kingdom of Heaven"; which naturally led to an explanatory
interlocutor, concerning new birth, regeneration, etc.; and thence
diverged into the topics which had been the subject of the former

Among other things, Lord Byron inquired, "if the doctor really
thought that the devil appeared before God, as is mentioned in the
Book of Job, or is it only an allegorical or poetical mode of
speaking?"--The reply was, "I believe it in the strict and literal

"If it be received in a literal sense," said his Lordship, "it gives
me a much higher idea of the majesty, power, and wisdom of God, to
believe that the devils themselves are at His nod, and are subject to
His control, with as much ease as the elements of nature follow the
respective laws which His will has assigned them."

This notion was characteristic, and the poetical feeling in which it
originated, when the doctor attempted to explain the doctrine of the
Manicheans, was still more distinctly developed; for his Lordship
again expressed how much the belief of the real appearance of Satan,
to hear and obey the commands of God, added to his views of the
grandeur and majesty of the Creator.

This second conversation was more desultory than the first; religion
was brought in only incidentally, until his Lordship said, "I do not
reject the doctrines of Christianity; I want only sufficient proofs
of it, to take up the profession in earnest; and I do not believe
myself to be so bad a Christian as many of them who preach against me
with the greatest fury--many of whom I have never seen nor injured."

"You have only to examine the causes which prevent you" (from being a
true believer), said the doctor, "and you will find they are futile,
and only tend to withhold you from the enjoyment of real happiness;
which at present it is impossible you can find."

"What, then, you think me in a very bad way?"

"I certainly think you are," was the reply; "and this I say, not on
my own authority, but on that of the Scriptures.--Your Lordship must
be converted, and must be reformed, before anything can be said of
you, except that you are bad, and in a bad way."

"But," replied his Lordship, "I already believe in predestination,
which I know you believe, and in the depravity of the human heart in
general, and of my own in particular; thus you see there are two
points in which we agree. I shall get at the others by-and-by. You
cannot expect me to become a perfect Christian at once."

And farther his Lordship subjoined:

"Predestination appears to me just; from my own reflection and
experience, I am influenced in a way which is incomprehensible, and
am led to do things which I never intended; and if there is, as we
all admit, a Supreme Ruler of the universe; and if, as you say, he
has the actions of the devils, as well as of his own angels,
completely at his command, then those influences, or those
arrangements of circumstances, which lead us to do things against our
will, or with ill-will, must be also under his directions. But I
have never entered into the depths of the subject; I have contented
myself with believing that there is a predestination of events, and
that predestination depends on the will of God."

Dr Kennedy, in speaking of this second conversation, bears testimony
to the respectfulness of his Lordship's attention. "There was
nothing in his manner which approached to levity, or anything that
indicated a wish to mock at religion; though, on the other hand, an
able dissembler would have done and said all that he did, with such
feelings and intentions."

Subsequent to the second conversation, Dr Kennedy asked a gentleman
who was intimate with Lord Byron, if he really thought his Lordship
serious in his desire to hear religion explained. "Has he exhibited
any contempt or ridicule at what I have said?" This gentleman
assured him that he had never heard Byron allude to the subject in
any way which could induce him to suspect that he was merely amusing
himself. "But, on the contrary, he always names you with respect. I
do not, however, think you have made much impression on him: he is
just the same fellow as before. He says, he does not know what
religion you are of, for you neither adhere to creeds nor councils."

It ought here to be noticed, as showing the general opinion
entertained of his Lordship with respect to these polemical
conversations, that the wits of the garrison made themselves merry
with what was going on. Some of them affected to believe, or did so,
that Lord Byron's wish to hear Dr Kennedy proceeded from a desire to
have an accurate idea of the opinions and manners of the Methodists,
in order that he might make Don Juan become one for a time, and so be
enabled to paint their conduct with greater accuracy.

The third conversation took place soon after this comment had been
made on Lord Byron's conduct. The doctor inquired if his Lordship
had read any of the religious books he had sent. "I have looked,"
replied Byron, "into Boston's Fourfold State, but I have not had time
to read it far: I am afraid it is too deep for me."

Although there was no systematic design, on the part of Lord Byron,
to make Dr Kennedy subservient to any scheme of ridicule; yet it is
evident that he was not so serious as the doctor so meritoriously

"I have begun," said his Lordship, "very fairly; I have given some of
your tracts to Fletcher (his valet), who is a good sort of man, but
still wants, like myself, some reformation; and I hope he will spread
them among the other servants, who require it still more. Bruno, the
physician, and Gamba, are busy, reading some of the Italian tracts;
and I hope it will have a good effect on them. The former is rather
too decided against it at present; and too much engaged with a spirit
of enthusiasm for his own profession, to attend to other subjects;
but we must have patience, and we shall see what has been the result.
I do not fail to read, from time to time, my Bible, though not,
perhaps, so much as I should."

"Have you begun to pray that you may understand it?"

"Not yet. I have not arrived at that pitch of faith yet; but it may
come by-and-by. You are in too great a hurry."

His Lordship then went to a side-table, on which a great number of
books were ranged; and, taking hold of an octavo, gave it to the
doctor. It was Illustrations of the Moral Government of God, by E.
Smith, M.D., London. "The author," said he, "proves that the
punishment of hell is not eternal; it will have a termination."

"The author," replied the doctor, "is, I suppose, one of the
Socinians; who, in a short time, will try to get rid of every
doctrine in the Bible. How did your Lordship get hold of this book?"

"They sent it out to me from England, to make a convert of me, I
suppose. The arguments are strong, drawn from the Bible itself; and
by showing that a time will come when every intelligent creature
shall be supremely happy, and eternally so, it expunges that shocking
doctrine, that sin and misery will for ever exist under the
government of God, Whose highest attribute is love and goodness. To
my present apprehension, it would be a most desirable thing, could it
be proved that, alternately, all created beings were to be happy.
This would appear to be most consistent with the nature of God.--I
cannot yield to your doctrine of the eternal duration of punishment.-
-This author's opinion is more humane; and, I think, he supports it
very strongly from Scripture."

The fourth conversation was still more desultory, being carried on at
table amid company; in the course of it Lord Byron, however, declared
"that he was so much of a believer as to be of opinion that there is
no contradiction in the Scriptures which cannot be reconciled by an
attentive consideration and comparison of passages."

It is needless to remark that Lord Byron, in the course of these
conversations, was incapable of preserving a consistent seriousness.
The volatility of his humour was constantly leading him into
playfulness, and he never lost an opportunity of making a pun or
saying a quaint thing. "Do you know," said he to the doctor, "I am
nearly reconciled to St Paul; for he says there is no difference
between the Jews and the Greeks, and I am exactly of the same
opinion, for the character of both is equally vile."

Upon the whole it must be conceded, that whatever was the degree of
Lord Byron's dubiety as to points of faith and doctrine, he could not
be accused of gross ignorance, nor described as animated by any
hostile feeling against religion.

In this sketch of these conversations, I have restricted myself
chiefly to those points which related to his Lordship's own
sentiments and belief. It would have been inconsistent with the
concise limits of this work to have detailed the controversies. A
fair summary of what Byron did not believe, what he was disposed to
believe but had not satisfied himself with the evidence, and what he
did believe, seemed to be the task I ought to undertake. The result
confirmed the statement of his Lordship's religious condition, given
in the preliminary remarks which, I ought to mention, were written
before I looked into Dr Kennedy's book; and the statement is not
different from the estimate which the conversations warrant. It is
true that Lord Byron's part in the conversations is not very
characteristic; but the integrity of Dr Kennedy is a sufficient
assurance that they are substantially correct.


Voyage to Cephalonia--Letter--Count Gamba's Address--Grateful
Feelings of the Turks--Endeavours of Lord Byron to mitigate the
Horrors of the War

Lord Byron, after leaving Argostoli, on the 29th December, 1823, the
port of Cephalonia, sailed for Zante, where he took on board a
quantity of specie. Although the distance from Zante to Missolonghi
is but a few hours' sail, the voyage was yet not without adventures.
Missolonghi, as I have already mentioned, was then blockaded by the
Turks, and some address was necessary, on that account, to effect an
entrance, independent of the difficulties, at all times, of
navigating the canals which intersect the shallows. In the following
letter to Colonel Stanhope, his Lordship gives an account of what
took place. It is very characteristic; I shall therefore quote it.

"Scrofer, or some such name, on board a
Cephaloniate Mistice, Dec. 31, 1823.

"MY DEAR STANHOPE,--We are just arrived here--that is, part of my
people and I, with some things, etc., and which it may be as well not
to specify in a letter (which has a risk of being intercepted,
perhaps); but Gamba and my horses, negro, steward, and the press, and
all the committee things, also some eight thousand dollars of mine
(but never mind, we have more left--do you understand?) are taken by
the Turkish frigates; and my party and myself in another boat, have
had a narrow escape, last night (being close under their stern, and
hailed, but we would not answer, and bore away) as well as this
morning. Here we are, with sun and charming weather, within a pretty
little port enough; but whether our Turkish friends may not send in
their boats, and take us out (for we have no arms, except two
carbines and some pistols, and, I suspect, not more than four
fighting people on board), is another question; especially if we
remain long here, since we are blocked out of Missolonghi by the
direct entrance. You had better send my friend George Drake, and a
body of Suliotes, to escort us by land or by the canals, with all
convenient speed. Gamba and our Bombard are taken into Patras, I
suppose, and we must take a turn at the Turks to get them out. But
where the devil is the fleet gone? the Greek, I mean--leaving us to
get in without the least intimation to take heed that the Moslems
were out again. Make my respects to Mavrocordato, and say that I am
here at his disposal. I am uneasy at being here. We are very well.-
-Yours, etc.

"N. B.

"P.S. The Bombard was twelve miles out when taken; at least, so it
appeared to us (if taken she actually be, for it is not certain), and
we had to escape from another vessel that stood right in between us
and the port."

Colonel Stanhope on receiving this despatch, which was carried to him
by two of Lord Byron's servants, sent two armed boats, and a company
of Suliotes, to escort his Lordship to Missolonghi, where he arrived
on the 5th of January, and was received with military honours, and
the most enthusiastic demonstrations of popular joy. No mark of
respect which the Greeks could think of was omitted. The ships fired
a salute as he passed. Prince Mavrocordato, and all the authorities,
with the troops and the population, met him on his landing, and
accompanied him to the house which had been prepared for him, amid
the shouts of the multitude and the discharge of cannon.

In the meantime, Count Gamba and his companions being taken before
Yusuff Pasha at Patras, expected to share the fate of certain
unfortunate prisoners whom that stern chief had sacrificed the
preceding year at Prevesa; and their fears would probably have been
realised but for the intrepid presence of mind displayed by the
Count, who, assuming a haughty style, accused the Ottoman captain of
the frigate of a breach of neutrality, in detaining a vessel under
English colours, and concluded by telling the Pasha that he might
expect the vengeance of the British Government in thus interrupting a
nobleman who was merely on his travels, and bound to Calamata.
Perhaps, however, another circumstance had quite as much influence
with the Pasha as this bravery. In the master of the vessel he
recognised a person who had saved his life in the Black Sea fifteen
years before, and in consequence not only consented to the vessel's
release, but treated the whole of the passengers with the utmost
attention, and even urged them to take a day's shooting in the

The first measure which his Lordship attempted after his arrival, was
to mitigate the ferocity with which the war was carried on; one of
the objects, as he explained to my friend who visited him at Genoa,
which induced him to embark in the cause. And it happened that the
very day he reached the town was signalised by his rescuing a Turk
who had fallen into the hands of some Greek sailors. This man was
clothed by his Lordship's orders, and sent over to Patras; and soon
after Count Gamba's release, hearing that four other Turks were
prisoners in Missolonghi, he requested that they might be placed in
his hands, which was immediately granted. These he also sent to
Patras, with a letter addressed to Yusuff, expressing his hope that
the prisoners thence-forward taken on both sides would be treated
with humanity. This act was followed by another equally
praiseworthy. A Greek cruiser having captured a Turkish boat, in
which there was a number of passengers, chiefly women and children,
they were also placed at the disposal of his Lordship, at his
particular request. Captain Parry has given a description of the
scene between Lord Byron, and that multitude of mothers and children,
too interesting to be omitted here. "I was summoned to attend him,
and receive his orders that everything should be done which might
contribute to their comfort. He was seated on a cushion at the upper
end of the room, the women and children were standing before him with
their eyes fixed steadily on him; and on his right hand was his
interpreter, who was extracting from the women a narrative of their
sufferings. One of them, apparently about thirty years of age,
possessing great vivacity, and whose manners and dress, though she
was then dirty and disfigured, indicated that she was superior in
rank and condition to her companions, was spokeswoman for the whole.
I admired the good order the others preserved, never interfering with
the explanation, or interrupting the single speaker. I also admired
the rapid manner in which the interpreter explained everything they
said, so as to make it almost appear that there was but one speaker.
After a short time it was evident that what Lord Byron was hearing
affected his feelings; his countenance changed, his colour went and
came, and I thought he was ready to weep. But he had, on all
occasions, a ready and peculiar knack in turning conversation from
any disagreeable or unpleasant subject; and he had recourse to this
expedient. He rose up suddenly, and, turning round on his heel as
was his wont, he said something to his interpreter, who immediately
repeated it to the women. All eyes were immediately fixed on me; and
one of the party, a young and beautiful woman, spoke very warmly.
Lord Byron seemed satisfied, and said they might retire. The women
all slipped off their shoes in an instant, and, going up to his
Lordship, each in succession, accompanied by their children, kissed
his hand fervently, invoked, in the Turkish manner, a blessing, both
on his hand and heart, and then quitted the room. This was too much
for Lord Byron, and he turned his face away to conceal his emotion"

A vessel was then hired, and the whole of them, to the number of
twenty-four, were sent to Prevesa, provided with every requisite for
their comfort during the passage. These instances of humanity
excited a sympathy among the Turks. The Governor of Prevesa thanked
his Lordship, and assured him that he would take care that equal
attention should be in future paid to the Greeks, who might fall into
his hands.


Proceedings at Missolonghi--Byron's Suliote Brigade--Their
Insubordination--Difference with Colonel Stanhope--Imbecility of the
Plans for the Independence of Greece

The arrival of Lord Byron at Missolonghi was not only hailed as a new
era in the history of Greece, but as the beginning of a new cycle in
his own extraordinary life. His natural indolence disappeared; the
Sardanapalian sloth was thrown off, and he took a station in the van
of her efforts that bespoke heroic achievement.

After paying the fleet, which indeed had only come out in the
expectation of receiving the arrears from the loan he had promised to
Mavrocordato, he resolved to form a brigade of Suliotes. Five
hundred of the remains of Marco Botzaris's gallant followers were
accordingly taken into his pay. "He burns with military ardour and
chivalry," says Colonel Stanhope, "and will proceed with the
expedition to Lepanto." But the expedition was delayed by causes
which ought to have been foreseen.

The Suliotes, conceiving that in his Lordship they had found a patron
whose wealth and generosity were equally boundless, refused to quit
Missolonghi till their arrears were paid. Savage in the field, and
untamable in the city, they became insubordinate and mercenary; nor
was their conduct without excuse. They had long defended the town
with untired bravery; their families had been driven into it in the
most destitute condition; and all the hopes that had led them to take
up arms were still distant and prospective. Besides, Mavrocordato,
unlike the other Grecian captains, having no troops of his own,
affected to regard these mercenaries as allies, and was indulgent to
their excesses. The town was overawed by their turbulence, conflicts
took place in the street; riot and controversy everywhere prevailed,
and blood was shed.

Lord Byron's undisciplined spirit could ill brook delay; he partook
of the general vehemence, and lost the power of discerning the
comparative importance both of measures and things. He was out of
his element; confusion thickened around him; his irritability grew
into passion; and there was the rush and haste, the oblivion and
alarm of fatality in all he undertook and suggested.

One day, a party of German adventurers reached the fortress so
demoralized by hardships, that few of them were fit for service. It
was intended to form a corps of artillery, and these men were
destined for that branch of the service; but their condition was
such, that Stanhope doubted the practicability of carrying the
measure into effect at that time. He had promised to contribute a
hundred pounds to their equipment. Byron attributed the Colonel's
objections to reluctance to pay the money; and threatened him if it
were refused, with a punishment, new in Grecian war----to libel him
in the Greek Chronicle! a newspaper which Stanhope had recently

It is, however, not easy to give a correct view of the state of
affairs at that epoch in Missolonghi. All parties seem to have been
deplorably incompetent to understand the circumstances in which they
were placed;--the condition of the Greeks, and that their exigencies
required only physical and military means. They talked of newspapers
and types, and libels, as if the moral instruments of civil
exhortation were adequate to wrench the independence of Greece from
the bloody grasp of the Ottoman. No wonder that Byron, accustomed to
the management only of his own fancies, was fluttered amid the
conflicts of such riot and controversy.

His situation at this period was indeed calculated to inspire pity.
Had he survived, it might, instead of awakening the derision of
history, have supplied to himself materials for another canto of Don
Juan. I shall select one instance of his afflictions.

The captain of a British gun-brig came to Missolonghi to demand an
equivalent for an Ionian boat, which had been taken in the act of
going out of the Gulf of Lepanto, with provisions and arms. The
Greek fleet at that time blockading the port consisted of five brigs,
and the Turks had fourteen vessels of war in the gulf. The captain
maintained that the British Government recognised no blockade which
was not efficient, and that the efficiency depended on the numerical
superiority of cannon. On this principle he demanded restitution of
the property. Mavrocordato offered to submit the case to the
decision of the British Government, but the captain would only give
him four hours to consider. The indemnification was granted.

Lord Byron conducted the business in behalf of the captain. In the
evening, conversing with Stanhope on the subject, the colonel said
the affair was conducted in a bullying manner. His Lordship started
into a passion and contended that law, justice, and equity had
nothing to do with politics. "That may be," replied Stanhope, "but I
will never lend myself to injustice."

His Lordship then began to attack Jeremy Bentham. The colonel
complained of such illiberality, as to make personal attacks on that
gentleman before a friend who held him in high estimation.

"I only attack his public principles," replied Byron, "which are mere
theories, but dangerous,--injurious to Spain, and calculated to do
great mischief in Greece."

Stanhope vindicated Bentham, and said, "He possesses a truly British
heart; but your Lordship, after professing liberal principles from
boyhood, have, when called upon to act, proved yourself a Turk."

"What proofs have you of this?

"Your conduct in endeavouring to crush the press by declaiming
against it to Mavrocordato, and your general abuse of liberal

"If I had held up my finger," retorted his Lordship, "I could have
crushed the press."

"With all this power," said Stanhope, "which by the way you never
possessed, you went to the prince, and poisoned his ear."

Lord Byron then disclaimed against the liberals. "What liberals?"
cried Stanhope. "Did you borrow your notions of freemen from the

"No: from the Hunts, Cartwrights, and such."

"And yet your Lordship presented Cartwright's Reform Bill, and aided
Hunt by praising his poetry and giving him the sale of your works."

"You are worse than Wilson," exclaimed Byron, "and should quit the

"I am a mere soldier," replied Stanhope, "but never will I abandon my
principles. Our principles are diametrically opposite, so let us
avoid the subject. If Lord Byron acts up to his professions, he will
be the greatest, if not, the meanest of mankind."

"My character," said his Lordship, "I hope, does not depend on your

"No: your genius has immortalized you. The worst will not deprive
you of fame."

Lord Byron then rejoined, "Well; you shall see: judge of me by my
acts." And, bidding the colonel good night, who took up the light to
conduct him to the passage, he added, "What! hold up a light to a

Such were the Franklins, the Washingtons, and the Hamiltons who
undertook the regeneration of Greece.


Lord Byron appointed to the command of three thousand Men to besiege
Lepanto--The Siege abandoned for a Blockade--Advanced Guard ordered
to proceed--Lord Byron's first Illness--A Riot--He is urged to leave
Greece--The Expedition against Lepanto abandoned--Byron dejected--A
wild diplomatic Scheme

Three days after the conversation related in the preceding chapter,
Byron was officially placed in the command of about three thousand
men, destined for the attack on Lepanto; but the Suliotes remained
refractory, and refused to quit their quarters; his Lordship,
however, employed an argument which proved effectual. He told them
that if they did not obey his commands, he would discharge them from
his service.

But the impediments were not to be surmounted; in less than a week it
was formally reported to Byron that Missolonghi could not furnish the
means of undertaking the siege of Lepanto, upon which his Lordship
proposed that Lepanto should be only blockaded by two thousand men.
Before any actual step was, however, taken, two spies came in with a
report that the Albanians in garrison at Lepanto had seized the
citadel, and were determined to surrender it to his Lordship. Still
the expedition lingered; at last, on the 14th of February, six weeks
after Byron's arrival at Missolonghi, it was determined that an
advanced guard of three hundred soldiers, under the command of Count
Gamba, should march for Lepanto, and that Lord Byron, with the main
body, should follow. The Suliotes were, however, still exorbitant,
calling for fresh contributions for themselves and their families.
His troubles were increasing, and every new rush of the angry tide
rose nearer and nearer his heart; still his fortitude enabled him to
preserve an outward show of equanimity. But, on the very day after
the determination had been adopted, to send forward the advanced
guard, his constitution gave way.

He was sitting in Colonel Stanhope's room, talking jestingly,
according to his wonted manner, with Captain Parry, when his eyes and
forehead occasionally discovered that he was agitated by strong
feelings. On a sudden he complained of a weakness in one of his
legs; he rose, but finding himself unable to walk, called for
assistance; he then fell into a violent nervous convulsion, and was
placed upon a bed: while the fit lasted, his face was hideously
distorted; but in the course of a few minutes the convulsion ceased,
and he began to recover his senses: his speech returned, and he soon
rose, apparently well. During the struggle his strength was
preternaturally augmented, and when it was over, he behaved with his
usual firmness. "I conceive," says Colonel Stanhope, "that this fit
was occasioned by over-excitement. The mind of Byron is like a
volcano; it is full of fire, wrath, and combustibles, and when this
matter comes to be strongly agitated, the explosion is dreadful.
With respect to the causes which produced the excess of feeling, they
are beyond my reach, except one great cause, the provoking conduct of
the Suliotes."

A few days after this distressing incident, a new occurrence arose,
which materially disturbed the tranquillity of Byron. A Suliote,
accompanied by the son, a little boy, of Marco Botzaris, with another
man, walked into the Seraglio, a kind of citadel, which had been used
as a barrack for the Suliotes, and out of which they had been ejected
with difficulty, when it was required for the reception of stores and
the establishment of a laboratory. The sentinel ordered them back,
but the Suliote advanced. The sergeant of the guard, a German,
pushed him back. The Suliote struck the sergeant; they closed and
struggled. The Suliote drew his pistol; the German wrenched it from
him, and emptied the pan. At this moment a Swedish adventurer,
Captain Sass, seeing the quarrel, ordered the Suliote to be taken to
the guard-room. The Suliote would have departed, but the German
still held him. The Swede drew his sabre; the Suliote his other
pistol. The Swede struck him with the flat of his sword; the Suliote
unsheathed his ataghan, and nearly cut off the left arm of his
antagonist, and then shot him through the head. The other Suliotes
would not deliver up their comrade, for he was celebrated among them
for distinguished bravery. The workmen in the laboratory refused to
work: they required to be sent home to England, declaring, they had
come out to labour peaceably, and not to be exposed to assassination.
These untoward occurrences deeply vexed Byron, and there was no mind
of sufficient energy with him to control the increasing disorders.
But, though convinced, as indeed he had been persuaded from the
beginning in his own mind, that he could not render any assistance to
the cause beyond mitigating the ferocious spirit in which the war was
conducted, his pride and honour would not allow him to quit Greece.

In a letter written soon after his first attack, he says, "I am a
good deal better, though of course weakly. The leeches took too much
blood from my temples the day after, and there was some difficulty in
stopping it; but I have been up daily, and out in boats or on
horseback. To-day I have taken a warm bath, and live as temperately
as can well be, without any liquid but water, and without any animal
food"; then adverting to the turbulences of the Suliotes, he adds,
"but I still hope better things, and will stand by the cause as long
as my health and circumstances will permit me to be supposed useful."
Subsequently, when pressed to leave the marshy and deleterious air of
Missolonghi, he replied, still more forcibly, "I cannot quit Greece
while there is a chance of my being of (even supposed) utility.
There is a stake worth millions such as I am, and while I can stand
at all I must stand by the cause. While I say this, I am aware of
the difficulties, and dissensions, and defects of the Greeks
themselves; but allowance must be made for them by all reasonable

After this attack of epilepsy Lord Byron because disinclined to
pursue his scheme against Lepanto. Indeed, it may be said that in
his circumstances it was impracticable; for although the Suliotes
repented of their insubordination, they yet had an objection to the
service, and said "they would not fight against stone walls." All
thought of the expedition was in consequence abandoned, and the
destinies of poor Byron were hastening to their consummation. He
began to complain!

In speaking to Parry one day of the Greek Committee in London, he
said, "I have been grossly ill-treated by the Committee. In Italy Mr
Blaquiere, their agent, informed me that every requisite supply would
be forwarded with all despatch. I was disposed to come to Greece,
but I hastened my departure in consequence of earnest solicitations.
No time was to be lost, I was told, and Mr Blaquiere, instead of
waiting on me at his return from Greece, left a paltry note, which
gave me no information whatever. If ever I meet with him, I shall
not fail to mention my surprise at his conduct; but it has been all
of a piece. I wish the acting Committee had had some of the trouble
which has fallen on me since my arrival here: they would have been
more prompt in their proceedings, and would have known better what
the country stood in need of. They would not have delayed the
supplies a day nor have sent out German officers, poor fellows, to
starve at Missolonghi, but for my assistance. I am a plain man, and
cannot comprehend the use of printing-presses to a people who do not
read. Here the Committee have sent supplies of maps. I suppose that
I may teach the young mountaineers geography. Here are bugle-horns
without bugle-men, and it is a chance if we can find anybody in
Greece to blow them. Books are sent to people who want guns; they
ask for swords, and the Committee give them the lever of a printing-

"My future intentions," continued his Lordship, "as to Greece, may be
explained in a few words. I will remain here until she is secure
against the Turks, or till she has fallen under their power. All my
income shall be spent in her service; but, unless driven by some
great necessity, I will not touch a farthing of the sum intended for
my sister's children. Whatever I can accomplish with my income, and
my personal exertions, shall be cheerfully done. When Greece is
secure against external enemies, I will leave the Greeks to settle
their government as they like. One service more, and an eminent
service it will be, I think I may perform for them. You, Parry,
shall have a schooner built for me, or I will buy a vessel; the
Greeks shall invest me with the character of their ambassador, or
agent: I will go to the United States, and procure that free and
enlightened government to set the example of recognising the
federation of Greece as an independent state. This done, England
must follow the example, and then the fate of Greece will be
permanently fixed, and she will enter into all her rights as a member
of the great commonwealth of Christian Europe."

This intention will, to all who have ever looked at the effects of
fortune on individuals, sufficiently show that Byron's part in the
world was nearly done. Had he lived, and recovered health, it might
have proved that he was then only in another lunation: his first was
when he passed from poesy to heroism. But as it was, it has only
served to show that his mind had suffered by the decadency of his
circumstances, and how much the idea of self-exaltation weakly
entered into all his plans. The business was secondary to the style
in which it should be performed. Building a vessel! why think of the
conveyance at all? as if the means of going to America were so scarce
that there might be difficulty in finding them. But his mind was
passing from him. The intention was unsound--a fantasy--a dream of
bravery in old age--begotten of the erroneous supposition that the
cabinets of Christendom would remain unconcerned spectators of the
triumph of the Greeks, or even of any very long procrastination of
their struggle.


The last Illness and Death of Lord Byron--His last Poem

Although in common parlance it may be said, that after the attack of
epilepsy Lord Byron's general health did not appear to have been
essentially impaired, the appearance was fallacious; his constitution
had received a vital shock, and the exciting causes, vexation and
confusion, continued to exasperate his irritation.

On the 1st of March he complained of frequent vertigoes, which made
him feel as though he were intoxicated; but no effectual means were
taken to remove these portentous symptoms; and he regularly enjoyed
his daily exercise, sometimes in boats, but oftener on horseback.
His physician thought him convalescent; his mind, however, was in
constant excitement; it rested not even during sleep.

On the 9th of April, while sailing, he was overtaken by the rain, and
got very wet: on his return home, he changed the whole of his dress;
but he had been too long in his wet clothes, and the stamina of his
constitution being shaken could not withstand the effects. In little
more than two hours he was seized with rigors, fever, and rheumatic
pains. During the night, however, he slept in his accustomed manner,
but in the morning he complained of pains and headache; still this
did not prevent him from going out on horseback in the afternoon--it
was for the last time.

On returning home, he observed to one of the servants that the saddle
was not perfectly dry, from having been so wet the day before, and
that he thought it had made him worse. He soon after became affected
with almost constant shivering; sudorific medicines were
administered, and blood-letting proposed; but though he took the
drugs, he objected to the bleeding. Another physician was in
consequence called in to see if the rheumatic fever could be appeased
without the loss of blood. This doctor approved of the medicines
prescribed, and was not opposed to the opinion that bleeding was
necessary, but said it might be deferred till the next day.

On the 11th he seemed rather better, but the medicines had produced
no effect.

On the 12th he was confined to bed with fever, and his illness
appeared to be increasing; he was very low, and complained of not
having had any sleep during the night; but the medical gentlemen saw
no cause for alarm. Dr Bruno, his own physician, again proposed
bleeding; the stranger still, however, thought it might be deferred,
and Byron himself was opposed to it. "You will die," said Dr Bruno,
"if you do not allow yourself to be bled." "You wish to get the
reputation of curing my disease," replied his Lordship, "that is why
you tell me it is so serious; but I will not permit you to bleed me."

On the 13th he sat up for some time, after a sleepless night, and
still complained of pain in his bones and head.

On the 14th he also left his bed. The fever was less, but the
debility greater, and the pain in his head was undiminished. His
valet became alarmed, and, doubtful of the skill of the doctors
around him, entreated permission to send to Zante for an English
physician of greater reputation. His Lordship desired him to consult
the others, which he did, and they told him there was no occasion to
call in any person, as they hoped all would be well in a few days.

His Lordship now began to doubt if his disease was understood, and
remarked repeatedly in the course of this day, that he was sure the
doctors did not understand it. "Then, my Lord," said Fletcher, his
valet, "have other advice." "They tell me," rejoined his Lordship,
"that it is only a common cold, which you know I have had a thousand

"I am sure you never had one of so serious a nature."

"I think I never had."

Fletcher then went again to the physicians, and repeated his
solicitations that the doctor in Zante might be sent for; but was
again assured that his master would be better in two or three days.

At length, the doctor who had too easily consented to the
postponement of the bleeding, seeing the prognostications of Dr Bruno
more and more confirmed, urged the necessity of bleeding, and of no
longer delay. This convinced Byron, who was himself greatly averse
to the operation, that they did not understand his case.

On the 15th his Lordship felt the pains abated, insomuch that he was
able to transact some business.

On the 16th he wrote a letter, but towards the evening he became
worse, and a pound of blood was taken from him. Still the disease
was making progress, but Dr Bruno did not yet seem much alarmed; on
the contrary, he thought were more blood removed his recovery was
certain. Fletcher immediately told his master, urging him to comply
with the doctor's wishes. "I fear," said his Lordship, "they know
nothing about my disorder, but"--and he stretched out his arm--"here,
take my arm and do whatever you like."

On the 17th his countenance was changed; during the night he had
become weaker, and a slight degree of delirium, in which he raved of
fighting, had come on. In the course of the day he was bled twice;
in the morning, and at two in the afternoon. The bleeding, on both
occasions, was followed by fainting fits. On this day he said to
Fletcher, "I cannot sleep, and you well know I have not been able to
sleep for more than a week. I know that a man can only be a certain
time without sleep, and then he must go mad, without anyone being
able to save him; and I would ten times sooner shoot myself than be
mad, for I am not afraid of dying--I am more fit to die than people

On the 18th his Lordship first began to dread that his fate was
inevitable. "I fear," said he to Fletcher, "you and Tita will be ill
by sitting up constantly, night and day"; and he appeared much
dissatisfied with his medical treatment. Fletcher again entreated
permission to send for Dr Thomas, at Zante: "Do so, but be quick,"
said his Lordship, "I am sorry I did not let you do so before, as I
am sure they have mistaken my disease; write yourself, for I know
they would not like to see other doctors here."

Not a moment was lost in executing the order, and on Fletcher
informing the doctors what he had done, they said it was right, as
they now began to be afraid themselves. "Have you sent?" said his
Lordship, when Fletcher returned to him.--"I have, my Lord."

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