LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Henry Drury to Francis Hodgson, [August 1811]

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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King’s College, Cambridge.

My dear Hodgson,—All the way from Puckeridge to-day I was conning an extempore laughing epistle; but have been so shocked with the account of poor Matthews’s death, though I never saw him,
that I can only write plain prose now. The reason I write is to request you not again to write to
Hart on the subject. He alone saw him die—saw him in his very last agony—and but for him the body might have been at this moment beneath the waters. Not fifty of the strongest-bodied men in England could, without ropes, have given the slightest assistance. I am this moment returned with Hart from the spot. There is literally a bed of weeds, thick, more than eight feet deep. Poor Hart, I see, is sadly cut down.

These are the facts. You know the fork above the mills, thus—
[Figure Here.]
1. Newnham mills.
4. Spot where Matthews was drowned.
2. Queen’s mills.
5. Freshmen’s pool.
3. Spot where Hart was bathing.
6. Course of the river towards Grandchester.
Matthews had gone to bathe solo. Two gownsmen came, bathed, and left Freshmen’s pool while he was bathing. From the best computation he
must have been in three-quarters of an hour. These men (who did not know him) saw him (as in bravado) stem down from points a and b what seemed an inextricable mass of weeds; these he cleared, had got down to b, and was returning—the last they saw of him, as they went homewards. Hart was alone on the bank when he distinctly heard the cry of ‘Help, help!’ He had seen nobody in the water; but, directed by the noise, he came to the spot. Nothing was to be seen. He looked up and down the river (he was at a measured 140 yards off when the άραια ϕωνή first came to him). He looked up and down the river some time, as I said, and thought the person might have escaped in the flags on the other side. Conceive his horror when on a sudden there darted up in the middle of the river a human form half-length out of the water. He made an excessive struggle. His arms were locked in weed; so were his legs and thighs. You never saw such a place. He looked most wistfully at Hart as if he knew him. Hart, who had been incessantly holloaing ‘Help!’ (the two men came back, but too late to see the last), called to him, ‘For Heaven’s sake, Matthews, make no more exertions; try to keep still till a rope is procured!’ In a resistless struggle Matthews then disentangled
Byron’s First Will.185
the weeds from his arms (I saw the very weeds), and threw them from him. This effort was his last; as if exhausted in it, he fell back. He was under the water in an instant, and no trace was left of him. Hart succeeded in having him got out in twelve minutes; but all too late. Every one who has been on the spot highly commends all Hart did. I verily think he nearly killed himself in his endeavours. The part of the river is the very broadest. The weeds go from one bank to the other; and were, as I said, eight feet perpendicularly deep. Temerity little short of madness could have induced Matthews to attempt them. More when we meet.

God bless you, my dear friend!
Henry Drury.