LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
[William Maginn]
Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron.
Fraser’s Magazine  Vol. 2  (August 1830)  1-9.
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No. VII AUGUST, 1830. Vol. II.


Doctor Kennedy, we learn, by the preface to this work, received his education in Edinburgh, and was originally destined for the bar, but he finally adopted the medical profession, in which he rose to a high standing. He obtained an appointment in his Majesty’s service, and about ten years ago was ordered to the Mediterranean, where he served in Malta and the Ionian Isles. During his residence in Cephalonia, in 1823, he became acquainted with Lord Byron in the following manner:—Being a zealous and sincere Christian, he occupied himself wherever he went in spreading the truths of Christianity as far as was in his power; and in Cephalonia, before Lord Byron arrived there, he had engaged four officers to enter upon the investigation of the doctrines of our faith. Lord Byron heard of this, and expressed a wish to be present at their meetings, and, after his introduction, held many conversations on religious topics with the Doctor. His lordship always treated him with respect and deference, but it was not to be expected that the godless crew with whom Lord Byron so much associated, would act in a like manner. Accordingly we find in the various lives, narratives, etc. concerning his lordship, written by these gentlemen much misrepresentation as to Dr. Kennedy. The Examiner called him a missionary, others depicted him as a half-crazy methodist. Almost all sneer at him and his exertions. In their works Lord Byron is represented as putting down the Doctor with the greatest ease and most complete success, and Dr. Kennedy says, in one of his letters, with much naïveté, that he found himself compelled to prove that he was not a blockhead, “which is rather a difficult thing to do when one writes a book.” It is certain that in Kennedy’s own report of the conversations, he cuts a very different figure from what he does in the books written by the Philhellenes. The apologue of the lion and the man is most completely verified here: the lion has turned painter in his own defence, and the tables are turned.

To those to whom religious controversy is at all familiar, these conversations will not communicate any thing new. Dr. Kennedy asserts, on the usual grounds, the truth of the scriptures, using Horne’s truly excellent work as his text book. The doctrine which he preaches is Protestant and Orthodox, with a strong tendency to what are called Evangelical principles; these he inculcates and illustrates, in the usual manner, with much earnestness, and occasionally considerable eloquence. Although there is not much novelty in the work, yet we consider it a useful one. We agree with a very judicious remark of Lord Byron to

2Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron
Dr. Kennedy. His lordship had urged him to write what he had said, and publish it, and the Doctor excused himself on the ground that so many able men had written on the subject, that he could offer nothing new. But, said Lord Byron, every one has a different way of reporting a subject, and the view that is old and useless to some, may be made, in other hands, new and useful to others. Besides, curiosity to see Lord Byron’s opinions upon religions matters, will put the book into the hands of persons whose reading is anything but religious, and there it must do good. If many among these come to scoff, some, we may be sure, will remain to pray. The effect of the conversations on Lord Byron himself, Dr. Kennedy sums up by saying that he has no reason to believe that his lordship was, in the least degree, converted; but that if he had lived he would have examined the subject. If he had, it is our opinion that he would have acknowledged the truths of Christianity.

We confess that we do not think Dr. Kennedy went the right way to work with him. We shall give one specimen of the Doctor’s argument:

“‘I was once dining with a gentleman,’ [Dr. K. is speaking,] ‘who after dinner rather unexpectedly asked, ‘What are the grounds on which you, ‘New Lights’ believe that you are influenced by the Holy Spirit, and what is the evidence by which you convince others, who have never felt such an influence, that you are possessed of it?’

“‘Well,’ said Lord Byron, ‘this was a sensible and pertinent question; what answer did you make?’ ‘We had a long conversation on the subject, and many things were said on both sides, which I do not now recollect.’

“‘But did you convince him?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘it is not so easy to convince people on such points.’ ‘I should, however, like to know what answers you could make to such a question.’

“‘To one who knows the Scriptures, and has felt their power, the answer would be easy and satisfactory; but to those who do not believe, no answer, however demonstrative, can be satisfactory. It is as though one were to talk of colours to a man born blind; or to expect that a man who has no musical ear should derive pleasure from a succession of sweet sounds. A sober friend of mine one day gave me his opinion of religious people. ‘In my opinion,’ he said, ‘religion is like any other thing. Some are attached to it, because they have a taste for it; others care nothing about it, merely because they have no taste for it; as one man has a taste for music and another has not; therefore, let everybody follow his own taste, and not trouble those that have no sympathy with it,’ Another gentleman gave it as his opinion, that the serious people, called ‘Blue Lights,’ ‘Saints,’ and Methodists, were in general of weak and timid minds, who required something to allay their superstitious fears respecting a futurity.’”

“‘Well, but what answer have you to make to the question proposed?’ ‘The answer is twofold. The Scriptures reveal a person of the Deity, called the Holy Spirit of God, the Comforter. We find this Spirit in various parts of Scripture called God, and performing the works of God; Creation is ascribed to him. The Apostles and Prophets wrote as inspired by Him. The whole name and attributes of the Godhead are applied to Him. In John iii., which I formerly read to you, regeneration is declared to be the work of the Spirit; and sanctification is also His work, going on towards perfection, until the man enters into the glorified state. Therefore, though many cannot know the exact period of their conversion, and in others it appears more immediate, yet there are few but must be aware of the fact, that a change has taken place in their conduct, feelings, principles of action, and affections, which, while it includes moral reformation, comprehends something greater. This change they feel not to have been brought about by themselves; not to be the result of good resolutions, nor of moral suasion, nor of satiety in sin, nor from the mere love of virtue for its own sake; taught by the Scriptures, they refer it to the Holy Spirit Hence, they have an evidence within themselves that they have been influenced by the Holy Spirit. This influence acts always in concurrence with reason, and never against it. Though this evidence is satisfactory in itself, it is confirmed by the fact, that real Christians in every age, of every sect, have given their testimony of having experienced the same supernatural operations.

“‘To the second part of the question, ‘What evidence is there to convince others who have never felt it?’ the answer is equally obvious. 1st. The evidence of Scripture; 2nd. The evidence of real Christians, who are unanimous in bearing the same testimony; and, 3rd. The conduct of those Christians, which is consistent with their professions. A man may set aside the first evidence as being of no weight; the second he may ascribe to mental weakness, superstition, and delusion; and the third he may deny as proving nothing but what may arise from mere moral reformation. That those who have never felt the influence of regeneration on their own minds
Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron3
may reason thus is too often exemplified, and is much to be lamented; but the question arises, ‘Do they, in these conclusions, act upon those sound principles of philosophical and logical reasoning which they profess to know better than those whom they ridicule?’ Now I apprehend that, so far from doing so, they violate them all. First, they doubt the existence of a feeling, because they never experienced it. Secondly, they coolly reject the united testimony of Christians of every age, sect, condition, degree of talents and accomplishments, who must, in their opinion, have perjured themselves on this point, or at least have been deceived. But the evidence of these persons they will receive on every other subject except religion; and on what principle of human nature can they account for a deception so uniform and similar, among so many whose ages, education, habits of thinking, and acquirements in other respects are so different? such evidence would be decisive on every other point, and would be by all acknowledged. Why is it rejected? Simply, because those who reject it have never felt this power in religion; they confess that they have it not: but do they reason logically, when they deny that this power has been felt by others, who assert that they have felt it?’”

We venture to say that Lord Byron was not convinced from this argument. A man’s own conviction of certain strong feelings in himself, is no proof to others of the divine nature of those feelings. In false religions, as well as in the true one, the faithful believers feel the same internal convictions, and might use precisely the same arguments. We do not doubt the soundness of the doctrines here laid down, but we think that a person so accomplished as Lord Byron ought to have been approached through his understanding, not his feelings. The same reasoning that would be effective in a congregation of enthusiastic methodists prepared to believe, would fail when addressed to a cool, shrewd, educated gentleman, proud of his literary fame, conscious of high intellectual powers, and predetermined to sneer.

Dr. Kennedy, however, does not set much store upon the common-sense way of inculcating religion. Southey’s beautiful Life of Wesley finds no favour in his eyes, because, “though Southey is a man who believes in Christianity, and is what the world calls a good man, I doubt whether he is able to comprehend some parts of Wesley’s character, which, to a mere scholar, must appear fantastical.” In fact, in different parts of the book, he speaks as if scholarship were a positive hindrance to the understanding of religion. It is amusing to see the manner in which Warburton is spoken of.

“His lordship asked me, what I thought of the theory of Warburton, that the Jews had no distinct idea of a future state, and that a state of future rewards and punishments was not, in the slightest degree, alluded to in any of the books of Moses? I said, ‘that I had often seen, but had never read, his Divine Legation of Moses, although I was well acquainted with his theory, from having seen it so often stated and alluded to in other works. It is not necessary,’ I said, ‘to read his book to form a clear and decided opinion upon its subject, as we have the Bible and the whole history of man to guide us. No nation has ever been found without having some idea of a future state, and it would be strange to conclude, that the Jews were a solitary exception. Many passages of the Pentateuch distinctly imply it, and many events of the Jewish history, as well as the obvious import and meaning of the whole of their ceremonial law, must have rendered the idea familiar to those who were capable of reflection and observation. Had Warburton read his Bible with more simplicity and attention, and not allowed himself to be misled by the ambition of displaying his vast stores of erudition, he would have enjoyed a more solid and honourable, though perhaps less brilliant fame, than that which time has awarded to him.’”


Lord B. asked me whether I had read Warburton’s theory. I said I had seen the work repeatedly, at a time when I had no interest in these subjects, and now, when I wish to see it, I cannot get access to it ‘I have read it,’ said Lord B., ‘or, rather, I have glanced over it. It appears a learned and ingenious work, and I know there are many people who think very highly of his theory.’ I replied that I had seen an abstract of his theory repeatedly stated, and could judge that it was easily refuted; ‘and, indeed,’ I added, ‘when I go home I will put down some passages in the Pentateuch itself, which, had Warburton looked at, he would not have adopted so fanciful a theory.’”

The Doctor then admits that he had never read one of the greatest theological works ever written, (though, he has no scruple in deciding that it is a work that ought to be condemned by every Christian), and yet he judges that it could be easily refuted.
4Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron
It is a sign that
Warburton is thoroughly dead, or this assertion would meet some contradiction. But the naive self-sufficiency with which Dr. K. says that he will put down some passages in the Pentateuch, which, had Warburton looked at, he would not have adopted his theory, is really droll. When we consider that Warburton was one of the greatest scholars, and most distinguished polemics of his time, it is impossible not to be diverted by the idea that Dr. Kennedy’s reading of the Pentateuch would supply the Bishop with matter which he had never looked at. Warburton had of course most minutely considered every text and gloss that could bear upon his theory, with professional and critical accuracy. Whether we agree with the leading principles of the Divine Legation or not, we must admire its erudition and genius, and certainly disagree with Dr. K. in thinking it “wholly incompatible with Christianity.”

With equal nonchalance he informs Lord Byron that he had seen the works of Barrow and Stillingfleet, but not read them. In another place—

“‘Do you understand,’ said his lordship, ‘the scriptures in their original languages?’ I replied, ‘that I understood the original language of the New, but not that of the Old Testament; that I had commenced the study of the language of the Old Testament, and should have finished it long ago, if I had any reason to doubt the accuracy of our various translations.’”

Thus splendidly qualified he, nevertheless, does not hesitate to turn critic upon some of the most vexatæ questiones connected with the sacred books.

“‘The apostles,’ said his lordship, ‘are accused of not having written in good Greek.’—‘This is an objection,’ I answered, ‘which has been made from ignorance or malice, or from a want of due consideration of the subject. They do not write, it is true, in the style of Demosthenes or Thucydides, any more than the majority of our authors write in the style of Robertson, Gibbon, or Johnson.’”

* * * *

“‘The style of the Septuagint, and that of the New Testament, are precisely alike in purity and correctness; and the few Latinisms introduced in that of the latter, were names of things which were not known to the ancient Greeks. It would have been strange had the apostles used a description of these things, instead of using the names by which they were known and understood, merely because ancient writers knew neither the names nor the things which they signified.’”

The Doctor clearly thinks that none but deists have impugned the classicality of the New Testament Greek. The ignorant fear nothing. Had Lord Byron mooted the questions commonly discussed among scholars as to the language in which the gospel of Saint Matthew, for instance, was originally written, or broached the theory of those who, like the author of the Palæoromaica and others, assign a Latin origin to the whole, or disputed concerning the fate of the autographs of the apostles, or opened the controversy of the Hellenistic dialect, or any other thing of the same kind, his lordship’s deism would have been most cruelly aggravated; yet, at the risk of incurring the odium theologicum of the critics who believe in the working of so useless a miracle as that of imparting scholar-like skill in the management of an intricate and artificial dialect to men so uneducated as those who wrote the New Testament, we must say, that its text is not only not that of Demosthenes and Thucydides, but it is of the most corrupt class of Greek. This we repeat with a full knowledge of the whole controversy respecting it, and, in spite of the labours of the learned men who have bolstered up the theory of Hellenistic Greek, and have, with immense industry, produced parallel passages from writers of all styles and centuries, to justify particular idioms. So far from considering this a slur upon the credibility of the New Testament, we have always considered it the reverse. We contend that another miracle would have been necessary to convince us, if the text had been Demosthenic or Thucydidean, that it was written by peasants of Galilee, or even a gentleman of Tarsus. As for the comparison of the Greek of the Septuagint with that of the New Testament, nothing but that grand confidence which results from total want of knowledge of the subject under debate, could have dictated the assertion. This, however, is not the place for our entering into such a discussion; we have said enough to let scholars judge of the competency of Dr. Kennedy to decide on points like these. Of
Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron5
its Latinisms he knows nothing; he imagines evidently that the only idiotisms in the text are such words as χήτυραν, λεγεων, ωραιτωριον, &c. It is therefore idle to dispute with him on the subject. He does not know enough to suspect that he knows nothing. That even the mere technical arrangement of the Bible, if it differed ever so little from that to which he was accustomed, was enough to puzzle him, we have a curious proof.

“I then turned over the Bible to look for the third chapter of John, but as the chapters were arranged in a different manner from that to which I had been accustomed, and with different titles, I leisurely observed them; In the meantime Lord B. was waiting to be shewn the passage referred to; and as I looked, I happened to say, ‘I cannot find the place so readily in this Bible as in the common Bible.’”

The Doctor would of course have regarded any attempt to alter the common arrangement as blasphemy, and unknowingly contended for the inspiration of Robert Stephens.

He tells us that he does not know anything of Hebrew, but yet believes in the general accuracy of the authorized versions. If he had known anything of the language his belief would have been confirmed; but it is amusing, after such a confession, to find him entering into verbal disputes respecting the interpretation of the words describing what he, or Lord B. calls, the “ghost scene in Samuel”—dogmatically deciding on the unity of the composition of the Pentateuch—settling, with the tone of authority, all the disputes about the book of Job—and so on. Now this must have injured his usefulness in carrying on controversy, (for such, of course, his conversations must have been,) with such a man. We agree with him in thinking that Lord Byron’s knowledge of the Scriptures was not critical or exact, and that it was considerably overpanegyrized by his friends or toadeaters; but his lordship was a well educated and a passably read man, and he could not have avoided perceiving some of the slips of Dr. K.’s conversation, although his politeness prevented him from noticing them. We doubt also the policy, (to speak humanly,) of resting the cause of the Christian doctrines upon the prophecies of Daniel, particularly when the gentleman who appeals to them confesses that he takes them at the second-hand of a translation, and scornfully denounces all those who fancy that manuscripts are to be consulted, collations made, all the paraphernalia of criticism employed, before the very letters of the text, on which such important consequences are built, can be settled.

Entering into these discussions would be out of our way; and, in truth, if we continue this style of criticism it may appear that we are hostile to Dr. Kennedy, whereas the very contrary is the fact. We think him, and thousands of people like him, fundamentally wrong in endeavouring to mix the scholar with the Christian, without taking the trouble, (and no small trouble it is,) to qualify for the former character. Of the New Testament this may truly be said—that its material doctrines, those which it concerns us all to know and understand, may be known and understood by “babes and sucklings”—by the most illiterate and the most helpless of human creatures. They may be made clear by the most unlearned of preachers; they can be found in the most faulty and imperfect of versions. Even the intense dishonesty of the Romish translators—those of Douay and Rheims for instance—cannot conceal them—there they are, contradicting by their native truth and simplicity, (disguised though they be by the perversions of translators,) the felonious commentaries beneath. We, who do not admit this, but who particularly insist upon its truth—who maintain that Christianity is, like the works of its Creator, adapted for all classes of beings, contend nevertheless that there must be what, in scriptural language, is called, “meat for strong men.” He who went to convert Lord Byron, (if Lord Byron was, indeed, an infidel, a question which we shall shortly consider before we conclude the article,) should have come better prepared in what those who read and criticize think of importance, than Dr. Kennedy did. But here our reproval ceases. His arguments are neatly arranged, and his conspectus of Christian doctrine irreproachable. He was an honest man in politics as well as religion, and a clever man too.

6 Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron

We extract a passage illustrative of his principles:

“The Radicals have little loyalty, and less piety; at least many of them have openly professed their deistical principles; and no honest man can join in wishing them success. Their arguments betray their ignorance; and it is evident, if they could succeed, that they would maintain that a nation is as well without, as with a church establishment. No Christian would ever wish to see the money applied to teach religion and morality withdrawn: he might say, that it might be more justly distributed, and given only to those who execute their duty; and that he would like to see real religion nourish in every part of the nation, without the distinction of churchman or dissenter; and that the funds should be applied in such a way, as most effectually to promote these objects exclusively; and that means should be adopted which should tend to repress the ambition of rank, wealth, and indolence, literary or political.

“From such an union, however, I would exclude Arians, Socinians, Swedenborgians, and fanatics of all descriptions; leaving to them, not only toleration, but perfect liberty of conscience. These people have no right to the name of Christians. The Arians deny that the Son is equal to the Father; although he himself expressly declares that he is. The Socinians say, he is not a divine character; yet these sects call themselves Christians, while they reject the testimony of Christ The other fanatics are too absurd in their fancies and imaginations to be reasoned with.

“‘You seem to hate the Socinians,’ said Lord Byron. ‘Not the individuals,’ I replied, ‘but their principles. I believe their system a terrible delusion, and that there is more hope of a deist, than of a Socinian, becoming a real Christian.’

“‘But is this charitable?’ he asked; ‘why would you exclude a sincere Socinian from the hope of salvation?’

“‘I do not exclude him, and certainly I am no judge; nor ought we to judge of the ultimate state of any one; but comparing the Socinian doctrines with those in the Bible, the one or other must be wrong.’

“‘But they draw their doctrine from the Bible,’ said Lord B. ‘Yes, so do all the fools, enthusiasts, and fanatics; so the Church of Rome founds a system of idolatry, as absurd as ancient or modern paganism, on the Bible. The Socinians reject such parts of the Scripture, as interpolations, or corruptions, which do not suit their scheme; they turn literal things into metaphorical, and metaphorical into literal, until they succeed in representing original sin, the depravity of our nature, the necessity of atonement, and consequently the whole necessity of a revelation, as perfectly useless. Setting aside the evidence on which these doctrines stand, it is obvious, according to their scheme, that there was very little need of a Saviour. The truth is, the Socinians are all unregenerated men; their hearts require to be renewed, and their heads enlightened; and their danger is, that they have formed a false system of religion, and cling to it in the hope of safety. If any of them are sincerely seeking the truth, God will in due time teach them, and bring them out of their Socinian delusion; but those who die believing it, die, as far as I can judge, unregenerated, and consequently, according to the Scriptures, die in a most dangerous state.’

“‘Their religion,’ said his lordship, ‘seems to be spreading very much. Lady B. is a great one among them, and much looked up to. She and I used to have a great many discussions on religion, and some of our differences arose from this point; but on comparing all the points together, I found that her religion was very similar to mine.’

“I said I was exceedingly sorry to hear that her ladyship was among such a set, and I hoped that ere long she would see her error and danger. ‘But,’ I added, ‘were thousands more of the great, and the noble, and the learned among them, Christianity will stand and raise its head with ultimate success from amidst the ruins of superstition, ignorance, idolatry, and damnable heresies.’”

We hope that Lady Byron has escaped from the Socinians, who are, in every point of view, the most disgusting sect of mock religionists that ever appeared. Lord B. was mistaken in thinking them on the increase—they are daily diminishing.

Another—because it connects somehow with the above, and is curious besides.

“The conversation turned upon the Socinians, and I was accused by some of the party of being too severe on this sect,—that my opinions were too exclusive and narrow, and less-candid and charitable in judging of others than they should be. I affirmed that this was a mistake. ‘That I pretended not to judge of the final and eternal state of any one, but that there were opinions and practices, which, when judged by the Bible, rendered those who held them incapable of obtaining eternal happiness; since God had declared certain characters should not enter into the kingdom of heaven. We believe what God has said. Had he said, that after a certain time passed elsewhere, the unrepenting wicked, after due punishment, should be cleansed and raised to heaven, we would have believed it, and rejoiced in the idea: but God
Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron7
has said otherwise, and the will of the Christian is, to yield to the will of God. Whatever he does is right. If it depended on me, judging by mere feelings of humanity, I would have all saved. Nay, I would go further than you,—I would have no hell at all; but would pardon all, purify all, and send all to equal happiness.’ ‘Nay,’ exclaimed some of them, ‘I would not save all.’ ‘I would save,’ cried his Lordship, ‘my
sister and my daughter, and some of my friends,—and a few others, and let the rest shift for themselves.’ ‘And your wife also,’ I exclaimed. ‘No,’ he said. ‘But your wife, surely you would save your wife?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I would save her too, if you like.’”

This sounds cruel: but as Dr. Kennedy is not alive, (he died in the West Indies in 1827,) we cannot tell how it was said, and that makes all the difference.

There is some amusing literary matter in the book, but with that we shall not meddle. We give Dr. Kennedy’s description of Lord Byron’s person and manner, without offering any comment:—

Lord B. was rather above the middle size; his countenance was fine, and indicated intelligence, but especially benevolence. His forehead was large and ample, his eyes were of a grey colour, his nose well-proportioned, his mouth wide, and his chin projecting; his hair was light brown, inclining to grey, particularly about the temples; his appearance was full and robust. He had high shirt collars, sometimes embroidered, but without frills; he wore often nankeen jacket and trowsers, sometimes a plaid jacket; he generally wore a gold chain about his neck, on which a locket was suspended, and the end of the chain was placed in his waistcoat pocket, and a cameo, with the head of Napoleon.

“His countenance generally exhibited a smile, or a look of softness, and thoughtfulness; and when animated in conversation, there was a keen and perçant expression of eye, with a slight colour in his face, which was usually pale and clear.

“He spoke with energy, vivacity, and freedom; his utterance was rapid, and varied in its intonations; his language was select, forcible, and pure; and his ideas were expressed with unusual ease and propriety. His voice was soft and melodious, to a degree which at first appeared to be the result of affectation. His manners were dignified and well-bred; he was invariably polite.

“The impression which he left on me, judging of his manner merely, was that of a perfectly polished man, with much affability, cheerfulness, vivacity, and benevolence. In the conversations which I had with him, he appeared to shew an acute and cultivated mind, rather than a profound understanding. There was no appearance of extensive science or erudition, nor that coolness and sobriety of judgment, which a learned philosopher might be expected to exhibit; but his manner was lively, witty, and penetrating, shewing that he had a mind of strong powers, and capable of accomplishing great things, rather than affording a constant proof that he had already accomplished them. He was so easy, affable, and kind, that you required at times to recall to mind his rank and fame, lest his manner should unconsciously betray you into undue familiarity—an error into which one gentleman fell—and was punished by Lord B.’s avoiding him as much as politeness permitted. Although he must have looked into a variety of books, and was acquainted with a little on every subject, yet I was not impressed with an idea of the profoundness of his knowledge, nor should I have been disposed to rely on the solidity of his judgment. He often spoke for effect, and appeared to say fine and brilliant things, without having any other end in view; a practice which might display quickness of discernment, eloquence, and wit, but which, of course, could not excite the decided admiration which the display of a richly-furnished mind, or a superior and solid understanding, would have elicited. Though not insensible to renown and distinction, and though raised to the highest pitch of poetical eminence, he had no poetical enthusiasm, or fantastic frenzy in his manner and conversation. He felt that these were useful, and to be studied and valued only as they lead to something more substantial; and as he had a quick perception of the ridiculous, he seemed to have a feeling, that frequently crossed his mind, as if fame and poetry, and every thing else which men so eagerly court, was, in reality, hollow and vain; and contempt for the whole human race—including himself—was often predominant.”

The work concludes with the following passage:—

“It appears, therefore, from a review of Byron’s private character, that it was a common one, being mixed with many virtues and stained with some fashionable vices. We meet nothing in it to command our veneration: we find many things to pity and excuse, from the peculiarity of his situation; but we are not entitled to call him a virtuous, pious man. In his poetical character, we find much reason to admire his wonderful talents. We may regret that his poems were not finished with a greater end in view than he seems to have had; that is, that he did not propose to himself more distinctly the promotion of virtue. We may blame him for his indelicacy and licentiousness of description in some of his
8Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron
works, and also for many of his sentiments, and especially for the levity, and appearance of infidelity, with which he sometimes alludes to sacred subjects. We observe in them, however, no proof of fixed opinions, or reason to believe that in general he pourtrayed the features of his own character: and we may readily believe, without any breach of candour, that his most reprehensible descriptions and sentiments, written under the influence of passion and prejudice, or the result of ignorance, would have been an object of regret to himself had he lived, and perhaps often were so. With respect to religion, we find nothing like a bitter enmity to it, or a settled conviction that it was an imposture. Some passages display a levity and an appearance of incredulity, but nothing like a deliberate denial, or a rejection of its truth. We find, in fact, that he was like all those nominal Christians who are unregenerate: he knew not its spirit. His conduct was not regulated by it, and he differed simply from many of those who hold in the world a very respectable character, in his having treated it with seeming ridicule in his writings, while they, perhaps, have done the same in conversation.

“He was, in fact, what he represented himself to be when I saw him—unsettled in his religious opinions. He rejected the appellation of infidel; he said it was a cold and chilling word. He confessed he was not happy; he said, he wished to be convinced of the truth of religion. We have now to consider if his conduct confirmed this statement.” * * * *

This promised task Dr. Kennedy did not live to fulfil, and the book finishes thus abruptly. We agree with the Doctor, that Lord Byron was not an infidel on any settled conviction; he scoffed, because it was the fashion of the coterie by which he was sometimes surrounded, and sometimes because it made people stare. He was very anxious not to be mixed up with the creed, real or affected, of such persons as Leigh Hunt. “I assure, you,” said he to Dr. K., “my connexion with these people originated from humanity. I found H. in Italy with a large family, in circumstances that claimed my compassion. I gave him as much money as I could spare, and when I had no more to spare, I gave him some loose poems which I had by me, that he might make some money of them.” Lord Byron’s mind was cast in a different mould from that of any member of such a crew. A fine passage illustrative not indeed of any fixed religious views, but of a decided devotional tendency, occurs in a letter of Count P. Gamba’s, which is contained in the Appendix to this volume. We prefer giving it in its original Italian, subjoining a translation in a note:—

“La prima volta che io ebbi conversazione con lui su questo soggetto fu a Ravenna, mia patria, saran quattro anni—mentre cavalcavamo insieme, in un superbo solitario bosco di pini. La scena invitava alle meditazioni religiose. Era un chiaro giorno di primavera. ‘Come,’ mi disse, ‘alzando gli occhj al cielo, o abassandoli alla terra, si puo dubitare dell’ esistenza di Dio? e come rivolgendoli al nostro intero possiam dubitare che non vi sia qualche cosa dentro di noi piu nobile, e più durevole che la creta di cui siamo formati? Quelli che non odono, o non vogliono ascoltare questi sentimenti, bisogna bene che siano di una vile natura.’

“Io volli rispondere con tutte quelle ragioni che la superficiale filosofia d’ Elvezio, e de’ suoi, e discepoli, e maestri, insegna. Egli mi rispose con stretti ragionamenti e profonda eloquenza, e m’ acco si che l’ ostinata contradizione so quel soggetto costringendolo a ragionarvi sopra, gli dava pena. Quel discorso fece sopra di me una forte impressione.

“Molte volte, e in varie circostanze, io l’ ho udito confermare li stessi sentimenti,—e me n’ è sembrato sempre profondamente convinto. Per l’ appunto l’ anno scorso in Genoa, quando ci preparavamo a venire in Grecia, era in costume di conversare due o tre ore ogni sera con me solo, assiso sopra la terazza del suo palazzo in Albano, nelle belle sere di primavera; d’ onde si scopre una magnifica vista della superba citta, e del mare contiguo: la nostra conversazione cadeva quasi sempre sulla Grecia, alla cui spedizione allora ci preparavamo, o sui soggetti religiosi. In varii modi lo sentii sempre confermare li sentimenti che io vi spiegai di sopra.”*

It is impossible to believe that Lord
* “The first time that I had a conversation with him on this subject, was at Ravenna, my native country, about four years ago, while we were riding on horseback in an extensive, solitary wood of pines. The scene invited to religious meditation. It was a fine day in spring. ‘How,’ he said, ‘raising our eyes to heaven, or directing them to the earth, can we doubt of the existence of God?—or how, turning them to what is within us, can we doubt that there is something within us more noble and more durable than the clay of which we are formed? Those who do not hear, or are unwilling to listen to those feelings, must necessarily be of a vile nature.’ I wished to answer him with all those
Dr. Kennedy and Lord Byron9
Byron was of the cold sect of the infidels, as he called them, or to refuse him credit when he said that that he never would be a lukewarm Christian. His intellect and education must have made him despise the low rabble of radicalism, or the shallow esprits forts, whom Count Gamba assures us he held in especial contempt. And no matter what might have been the influence of the scornful or misanthropical feelings which haunted him, yet there must have been moments when the thoughts of a soul such as his would have taken a nobler and more congenial direction. In the words of one, whose name we reluctantly withhold:—“The surface [of his mind] might exhibit a vainglorious, frozen waste of unbelief; but beneath principles would be at work which threatened its dissolution: memory, which calls up around the tender of heart departed objects of their love; enthusiasm, which communicates life and thought, and the passion of lofty souls to the images which story creates; and that aimless aspiring of the disregarded spirit which expands every feeling of sublimity or sorrow, until it has touched the boundary of visible things, and felt indistinctly the influence of a holier world; these would all be in motion in the breast; currents dark but warm, would always be gliding, and would often be heard; as, at the last, assuredly, Sadduceism would be broken up; and though scattered masses might still grieve the spirit, yet the pleasant motion of life would be between, and a living element would again make its voice heard continually.”

We must remark, that this work has been edited in a very ignorant manner. Just think of two authors, called here Barnes and Alexander Polytresh, being cited (p. 80,) as authorities for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The unlearned would hardly guess that those strange names stand for Berosus and Alexander Polyhistor. In the page before, Tacitus is accused of enquiring whether Jerusalem is not mentioned by Homer, under the name of Solymar. This is discreditable to the editor; and there are many more blunders of the same kind.

reasons which the superficial philosophy of Helvetius, his disciples, and his masters have taught. He answered me with strong arguments and profound eloquence; and I perceived that obstinate contradiction on this subject, forcing him to reason upon it, gave him pain. This discourse made a deep impression on me.
“Many times, and in various circumstances, I have heard him confirm the same sentiments; and he always seemed to me to be deeply convinced of their truth. Last year, in Genoa, when we were preparing for our journey to Greece, he was accustomed to converse with me for two or three hours each evening alone, seated on the terrace of his palace in Albano, in the fine evenings of spring, whence there opened a magnificent view of this superb city and the adjoining sea. Our conversation turned almost always on Greece, for which we were so soon to depart, or on religious subjects. In various ways. I have heard him confirm the sentiments which I have already mentioned to you.”