LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Conversations on Religion, with Lord Byron
James Kennedy to W. de la C., Esq., September 1824

First Conversation
Kennedy on Scripture
Second Conversation
Third Conversation
Fourth Conversation
Fifth Conversation
Memoir of Byron
Byron’s Character
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Ithaca, Sept. 1824.

“I have never fully informed you of my conversations with Lord B. It is now too late; but you will be acquainted with them all—not in writing, but in print. The moment he died, I formed the design of publishing
an account of the religious conversations I had with him and with others. I immediately communicated my resolution openly,—collected all the anecdotes I could which might in any way illustrate his character. To my surprise, I found my design warmly opposed by several of those gentlemen who were present at our first conversation. I assured them that I would not make use of their names, unless they wished it. I have now, however, found out the secret cause of this opposition, which, so far from discouraging, has the more fixed my determination to execute my purpose. In the mean time, these said gentlemen—I mean some of them—have been exceedingly busy in ridiculing, and, I am inclined to think, wilfully misrepresenting my object and views. At all events, a great many falsehoods, and many absurd stories, are spread about the islands on this subject. Some of them have reached the London press—as you will see me called a Missionary in the

“The simple state of the case is this. Before Byron came to Cephalonia, four officers had agreed to enter on the investigation of the doctrines of Christianity; Byron heard of it, and wished to be present. I had seven or eight meetings, at which he was not present; and I had seven or eight meetings with Byron alone. With one of the gentlemen I had conversations almost every day, for four months.

“My object is, to give a plain and faithful account of what took place at these meetings and conversations—Byron appears simply as one character. As every point
of religion was touched upon, and many objections stated and discussed, I intend to give as clear, simple, and forcible view of the leading doctrines of Christianity as I can, with a refutation of the principal objections which I have heard urged against it.

“As not one of the gentlemen have yet authorised me to use their names, I do not intend to describe what each said, or to delineate individual character. I shall only present a connected view of Christianity, in language divested of all pedantry, and of all tincture of theology. My object is not to prove Byron a Christian, nor to write about Byron particularly, but to take the opportunity which such meetings as we often held—and at which so singular a character as Byron was present—offer, to publish a work on Christianity written by a layman, with the hope of its being both interesting and useful. If I am not satisfied that it will be both, it shall never appear.

“I have no reason to believe that Byron was in the least degree converted; but I think, had he lived, he would have examined the subject. I was not surprised at the extent of his reading on religious subjects; I was surprised rather at his ignorance as much as I can be, since I have long been convinced that all unbelievers, however great their talents, are as ignorant as children, with respect to the real nature and doctrines of Christianity. This I know from a very wide experience. Let nothing of this be reported so as to be put into print, for they print all and everything about poor Byron now.
When my work is out, they will know my object, and learn something that will settle at once many an absurd tale, and many soi-disant wits will be compelled to keep silence.”