LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Narrative of Lord Byron’s Last Journey to Greece
Chapter V

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
‣ Chapter V
Chapter VI
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News from the Morea—Lord Byron indisposed—Communication from the islands—Anxiety at Cephalonia respecting Lord Byron—He receives proposals from Sessini of Gastouni, and from Colocotroni—Also from Parucca on the part of Pietro Bey—His letter to Parucca—His view of the politics of Greece—Alarm of the plague—Offer from the government to appoint Lord Byron Governor-General of continental Greece—His reply—A public meeting at Missolonghi—Departure of Messrs. Finlay and Humphreys for Athens, with despatches from Lord Byron—Their interruption by the way—News of the conclusion of the Greek loan—Punishment of an artillery-man—Discipline of that corps—Lord Byron presented with the citizenship of Missolonghi—Distress of the government.

March 1.—This day we received news from the Morea. The government addressed letters to Lord Byron of the same tenor with the last. A young Irishman, Mr. Winter, arrived from Italy, bringing with him letters and many newspapers.
He was entered upon our list for the artillery brigade.

Lord Byron was indisposed. He complained to me that he was often attacked by vertigos, which made him feel as if intoxicated. He had also very disagreeable nervous sensations, which he said resembled the feeling of fear, although he knew there was no cause of alarm. The weather got worse, and he could not ride on horseback.

March 2.—Messrs. Hodges and Fawkes, who had been sent to the Ionian Islands, returned, having procured what was wanted. They brought us intelligence that the conduct of the Suliotes had excited a general indignation at Cephalonia, and that the consequence had been the withdrawing the succours afforded to their families in that island. We learnt also that the greatest
anxiety prevailed amongst all the English respecting my Lord’s health; and that
Dr. Kennedy had been specially employed to write to Dr. Bruno for the purpose of making minute inquiry as to the fit with which Lord Byron had been assailed in February, as also in order to give such medical advice as might be expedient. Several correspondents wrote to Lord Byron also, praying him to return to Cephalonia and take care of his health; but these entreaties produced just the contrary effect, for in proportion as Byron thought his position more perilous, he the more resolved upon remaining where he was.

March 3.—Lord Byron was a little better, and was in good spirits. He not unfrequently diverted himself in the evening with playing off some pleasantry on some one of those about him. One of the En-
glishmen had been much alarmed at the earthquake, and had continual apprehensions of its return. Byron conceived a scheme for frightening him, and accordingly we rolled some barrels full of cannon-balls in the room above us, which completely succeeded, and terrified our companion as much as he had been at the real earthquake.

I should mention, that amongst our other disagreeable employments might be reckoned that of preventing duels between our German friends, who gave no better example of concord than our Suliote allies.

March 8.—We were occupied for some days as usual in visiting the fortifications, particularly at Basiladi, and in providing for their repairs. About this time, also, Sessini, who had for some months been
master of the district about Gastouni, had recourse to
Lord Byron to settle his differences with the government. Lord Byron consented to act as mediator, but he required, as proof of that chief’s sincerity, that he should surrender the fortress of Chiarenza into the hands of the government.

We now learnt, that as soon as the Greeks of Arta had heard that the Suliotes were in march towards them, they had immediately sent to them, saying, that if their intention was to assist them in a permanent effort at gaining their independence, they would assist them with all their means; but that if the Suliotes had no other object than to obtain plunder, and then to leave them a prey to the vengeance of the Turks, the Greeks of Arta would resist to the utmost any such enterprise upon their town.


March 9.—A certain Lambro, a Suliote, and one of their chiefs, came from the Morea, the bearer of a complimentary message from Colocotroni to Lord Byron. That powerful chieftain signified to my Lord, that he was willing to submit to a regular inquiry into his conduct, seeing that his country would in the course of the year be exposed most probably to the most imminent perils, and that internal dissension might be the cause of her ruin. We did not think it worth while to canvass the sincerity of his professions, but we concluded from them that he found his influence on the decline.

March 10.—Lord Byron received, by way of Zante, a letter from one Parucca, the person who had been engaged two months before by the partisans of Pietro Bey to set out for London, and there to
thwart the negotiations of the deputies
Orlando and Luriotti; but he never went. He now wrote to Lord Byron, praying him to come into the Peloponnesus, to assist in bringing about an union of all parties. Thus, by an open and independent line of conduct, he inspired confidence among all the Greeks; and the moment appeared to be fast approaching, when all dissensions were to cease, and the foundations of a vigorous and national government, suited to the difficult circumstances of the country, were, through his mediation, to be finally established.

Lord Byron sent the following answer to Parucca*:

* Of the Italian original I give a fac simile, in Lord Byron’s hand-writing, in which those acquainted with my language will observe only one grammatical error, and that one of trifling importance.

“March 10, 1824.

“I have the honour of answering your letter. My first wish has always been to bring the Greeks to agree amongst themselves. I came here by the invitation of the Greek government, and I do not think that I ought to abandon Roumelia for the Peloponnesus until that government shall desire it;—and the more so, as this part is exposed in a greater degree to the enemy. Nevertheless, if my presence can really be of any assistance in uniting two or more parties, I am ready to go any where, either as a mediator, or, if necessary, as a hostage. In these affairs I have neither private views, nor private dislike of any individual, but the sincere wish of deserving the name of the friend of your country, and of her patriots.”

“I have the honour, &c.”

March 11.—It was feared by some friends of the Greeks in the Ionian Islands that our newspapers might take a purely democratical and perhaps an antireligious turn; but the appearance of the first number of the Telegrafo Greco soon undeceived them. Lord Byron’s view of the politics of Greece was, that this revolution had little or nothing in common with the great
struggles with which Europe had been for thirty years distracted, and that it would be most improvident for the friends of Greece to mix up their cause with that of the other nations who had attempted to change their form of government, and by so doing to draw down the hatred and opposition of one of the two great parties that at present divide the civilized world. Lord Byron’s wish was to lay it down for granted, that the contest was simply one between barbarism and civilization—between Christianity and Islamism—and that the struggle was in behalf of the descendants of those to whom we are indebted for the first principles of science, and the most perfect models of literature and of art. For such a cause, he hoped that all politicians of all parties, in every European state, might fairly be expected to unite.

We took a long ride, and considered of
a motto for the newspaper.
Lord Byron proposed a verse from Homer—“The best omen is to fight for one’s country.” And then chose another from the same poet—“When man falls into slavery, he loses the half of every virtue.” We afterwards conversed for some time on the affairs of the Greeks, and on the prospect of the future. “I hope,” said he, “the moment of uniting them is arrived. The chance of succour and the approach of danger is a circumstance favourable to my design. I think that their jealousy of strangers is diminished. The confidence I have always shown in them, and the having their own fellow-countrymen for guards, have not been fruitless.” He continued.—“The Greeks will have great danger to encounter this year; it appears that the Turks are making great efforts. If the deputies had set out three months sooner, we should
have had three months more to prepare ourselves; discord would have ceased, and we should have overcome many other obstacles to our success. To be in time to defend ourselves, we have only to put in action and unite all the means the Greeks possess,—with money we have experienced the facility of raising troops. In the mean time, this interval should not be neglected; and I will use my influence to induce them to act on the offensive during the winter.”

“I cannot,” he added, “calculate to what a height Greece may rise. Hitherto it has been a subject for the hymns and elegies of fanatics and enthusiasts; but now it will draw the attention of the politician.”

“The different views and the jealousies of the European powers are well calcu-
lated to favour the efforts of the Greeks; for they apparently will secure their neutrality. This campaign, it seems, will lay the foundations of Grecian independence; and then a glorious field for improvement will naturally be opened before us. At present, there is but little difference in many respects between Greeks and Turks; nor could there be; but the latter must, in the common course of events, decline in power; and the former must as inevitably become better in every sense of the word. The soil is excellent; with skilful tillage and good seeds, we should soon see how rapidly, and in what perfection, the fruits of civilisation would rise around us. In the present state of European politics, there seems in the East a sort of vacuum, which it is advisable to supply, in order to counterbalance the preponderance of the North. The English government de-
ceived itself at first in thinking it possible to maintain the Turkish empire in its integrity: but it cannot be done; that unwieldy mass is already putrefied, and must dissolve. If any thing like an equilibrium is to be upheld, Greece must be supported.
Mr. Canning, I think, understands this, and intends to behave towards Greece as he does with respect to the South American colonies. This is all that is wanted; for in that case Greece may look towards England with the confidence of friendship, especially as she now appears to be no longer infected with the mania of adding to her colonies, and sees that her true interests are inseparably connected with the independence of those nations, who have shown themselves worthy of emancipation, and such is the case with Greece*.”

* This is the substance of what Lord Byron said to me on this day’s ride, and he frequently repeated the


March 13.—All the shops were shut. A report of the plague was spread: a Greek merchant arrived from Gastuni, twelve days ago, was attacked the night before with violent vomitings, which killed him before morning. After death, several black pustules appeared on his face, arms, and back. When opened and examined with great care and precaution by the doctors, a large quantity of extravasated blood, and a cupful of watery humour, were found on the stomach, which were taken to be analysed. The doctors were divided between poison and the plague; but there was no suspicion of the former: it was known that he possessed 10,000 piastres in specie, and they were found in his house.

According to the doctors, no sign of poison appeared. A great mortality pre-

same remarks: how just, I will leave to others to determine.

vailed at Gastuni; but whether the plague or a fever was not known. The government had already sent for more precise information.

Every possible precaution was taken. Those who had any communication with the deceased were put into quarantine, and a commission of medical men was named to watch after any other symptoms of the plague.

The greatest alarm prevailed in the town: every one walked with a stick, to keep off the passengers. In a country so void of cleanliness, the plague would make dreadful progress.

Lord Byron sent off an express to Zante, to communicate our fears to the resident. If they were confirmed, we were to go into the mountains.


For many years the plague has not been known either here or in the Morea. Last year a similar report was spread by the agents of Colocotroni, for the purpose of dispersing the deputies then collected in a general assembly without his approbation. In less than two hours the town was empty.

March 14.—News arrived from Gastuni that the plague was not there, but the scarlet fever: no other symptoms had appeared to increase our fears.

The drilling of our company made great progress, and in three or four weeks we should have been ready to take the field. We exercised the troop in all sorts of movements: Lord Byron joined us, and practised with us at the sabre and foil: notwithstanding his lameness, he was very adroit.

I was employed by Lord Byron to confer with Lambro, the envoy of Colocotroni, who
told me that his patron with his followers were the warmest and sincerest friends of Lord Byron, wished his Lordship to come into the Morea, and were willing to submit themselves to his judgment if he would go there. The envoy likewise explained to me upon what terms they would act with the new government at Cranidi, and what was of the utmost importance, that they would abide the judgment of a national assembly, adding, that if Lord Byron could not go himself, he might send a commissioner.

Ipsilanti was already gone to Cranidi, to settle an accommodation, but we did not expect any thing from his mediation.

My answer to the envoy was similar to that to Parucca. I insisted strongly on the necessity of an immediate submission to the legal government. I remarked that a national assembly was plausible enough,
but would cause a loss of two or three months, and that the melancholy experience of past years proved that an armed assembly only inflamed the anger of parties, and drove them to sanguinary frays; that with them force would prevail over reason and justice; and that it would be impossible to convene at this time an unarmed assembly in Greece: that
Lord Byron would make every exertion in bringing about a general amnesty, provided they were willing to obey the laws and their legitimate guardians. I concluded by saying, that as Colonel Stanhope was going into the Morea with the same view, it was not necessary for Lord Byron to send any one else. Lambro, in reply, assured my Lord that all parties confided in him, for it was known that he belonged to none.

March 15.—All suspicion of the plague had disappeared. The heavy rains began,
and would not cease for a month; the principal cause, as we shall see, of the fatal catastrophe that ensued.

March 16, 17, 18.—Lord Byron could not go out all this time. In the house we practised with the sword and foil: letters came from the different chiefs and nobles of the Morea; all disposed to a general union through the mediation of Lord Byron. News came from London of the arrival of the deputies, and that there was every hope of a speedy conclusion of the loan; they arrived in time to defeat the plans of a certain Baron di Wintz.

On the 18th, at night, Mr. Humphreys arrived from Athens, with letters from Colonel Stanhope, Mr. Trelawny, and Ulysses. The descent of a large Turkish force by way of Larissa was feared. A meeting at Salona without delay was con-
sidered necessary to concert an union of the forces of Eastern and Western Greece, and a system of defence.
Lord Byron and Mavrocordato were to set off in a few days for Salona.

The general government sent to know if Lord Byron would be willing to proceed in person to the seat of government; or if he would accept the office of governor-general of Greece, that is, of the enfranchised part of the continent, excepting the Morea and the Islands. General Londo, his old friend, and another Greek, both well acquainted with the affairs of the country, would be appointed his counsellors.

March 20, 21.—We were employed in our usual occupations, writing letters and drilling our troops. The laboratory was preparing; a great part of the ammunition was ready. Lord Byron practised every
evening with the singlestick or sword; he was very expert at the former.

He returned an answer to the government at Cranidi, that “he was first going to Salona, and that afterwards he would be at their commands; that he could have no difficulty in accepting any office, provided he could persuade himself that any real good could result from it.”

The danger to which these provinces were exposed was a temptation to accept such a charge; but it was necessary to discover whether a command would not be merely nominal.

A public meeting was held in one of the principal churches of the town, for the election of magistrates, according to the Hellenic constitution. The people took great interest in it; but the strictest order
was preserved. The most worthy citizens were elected. Thus, even in the midst of the confusion of such a struggle, were gradually strengthened the foundations of that system, which both theory and experience have approved as the most perfect, and the best adapted to combine the power and stability of states with the liberty and felicity of individuals; and which the peculiar situation of Greece seems to demand.

Messrs. Finlay and Humphreys set out with our answers, and the few barrels of powder we were able to send, to Ulysses. But Mr. Finlay returned at night, on account of an unfortunate accident, which he described in the following terms:

Mr. Finlay and Captain Panai left this town for Athens, with the powder and other military stores, sent by Lord Byron
Odysseus for the war in Negropont, in company with Messrs. Humphreys and Kinderman. On arriving at the Phidari, they found the river considerably swollen, but succeeded in transporting the powder safely. Mr. Humphreys, on a German horse Mr. Finlay was conveying to Athens for Mr. Trelawny, remained behind while the other horses crossed: in crossing, he unfortunately missed the ford. As the horse was swimming over, the saddle-bags were carried away, containing, besides the most valuable part of Mr. Finlay’s baggage and papers, the sum of seven hundred dollars, of which the greater part was the property of Mr. Trelawny. In consequence of this accident, the powder was forwarded to Athens under the charge of Mr. Kinderman. Attempts have been made to recover the saddle-bags; but, from the rapidity of the stream, they have not been attended with success.”


March 22.—We had this day news, by way of Leghorn and Zante, of the conclusion of the loan—news of the utmost importance to the safety of Greece. The great object which Lord Byron had had in view, during the time he had been in Greece, was, as I have often repeated, to make preparations for the employment of the loan to the best advantage immediately on its arrival: internal organisation, and arrangements for offensive warfare, had occupied his attention during the whole of this anxious interval; and on the receipt of the intelligence, he advised Mavrocordato to send immediate information to the government, that no time might be lost in getting ready the fleets of the different islands.

He now added to the corps of artillerymen upwards of a hundred regular troops, for the protection of the cannon in the
Lambro, Colocotroni’s envoy, was taken into Lord Byron’s service, and intrusted with the command of these troops. Not to speak of the policy of this measure, we thus acquired the services of an active and faithful officer. He was by the side of Bozzari when he so gloriously fell. He appeared a remarkably intelligent person, speaking Italian perfectly, French tolerably, and some English. He was once in the English service, under General Church, and knew the value of discipline.

We continued making every preparation in our laboratory for repairing the fortifications; and we found that, in three days, we might be able to set off for Salona.

March 23.—Prince Mavrocordato presented to Lord Byron the Signer Vla-
, minister of war, just come from the Morea, and the bearer of important intelligence.

March 24 to 26.—Nothing of consequence occurred. The weather was even worse than before. My Lord could not go out on horseback, and his health suffered. He told me that he had frequent oppressions on his chest. But notwithstanding this, Mavrocordato, and the greater part of the English then in Missolonghi, met every evening in his room, and diverted themselves with fencing and playing at singlestick, and other similar amusements.

March 27.—This day had been fixed for our departure for Salona; but the river Fidari was so swollen as not to be fordable; and, besides, the roads were impassable. We had letters confirming the completion
of the loan, but as yet received nothing official on the subject.

March 28.—This day one of our artillerymen committed a theft, robbing a poor peasant in the market-place of twenty-five piastres. The peasant knew him again, and complained to an officer, who immediately arrested the culprit, and found the money hidden in his quarters. It was the first offence committed by any of our corps; and the delinquent was not a Greek, but from Ancona. A court-martial was held, and the trial proceeded according to the forms of the French military code adopted by the Greek legislature. He was convicted and condemned: there was no doubt as to his guilt; but a serious difference prevailed as to the punishment. The Germans were for the bastinade: but that was against the code, and flatly opposed by Lord
Byron, who declared that, as far as he was concerned, no barbarous usages, however adopted even by some civilised people, should be introduced into Greece; especially as such a mode of punishment would disgust rather than reform. We hit upon an expedient which favoured our military discipline; but it required not only all Lord Byron’s eloquence, but his authority, to prevail upon our Germans to accede to it. The culprit had his uniform stripped off his back, in presence of his comrades, and was afterwards marched through the town with a label on his back, describing, both in Greek and Italian, the nature of his offence; after which he was given up to the regular police. This example of severity, tempered by a humane spirit, produced the best effect upon our soldiers, as well as upon the citizens of the town. But it was very near causing a most disagreeable cir-
cumstance; for, in the course of the evening, some very high words passed on the subject between three Englishmen, two of them officers of our brigade, in consequence of which cards were exchanged, and two duels were to have been fought the next morning. Lord Byron did not hear of this till late at night; but he immediately ordered me to arrest both parties, which I accordingly did; and, after some difficulty, prevailed on them to shake hands. It would have been an exceedingly bad example for the Greeks, if they had witnessed such a proceeding on the part of those who ought rather to have shown them the advantages of union than the ill effects of discord.

March 30.—One of our irregular soldiers was this day accused of a serious crime, committed before he entered into our service. After a minute investigation, the fact
was proved, and the man was dismissed from the corps. This was another proof by which it was thought desirable to convince our friends, that we put the highest value upon good conduct and character, as being the best security for good discipline; and we flattered ourselves that we already beheld the good effects of our strictness in the daily improvement amongst our Greek auxiliaries, who, we felt persuaded, wanted nothing but regular pay in order to become a regular soldiery.

This day the primates of Missolonghi presented Lord Byron with the citizenship of their town. I subjoin a fac-simile of this document.

March 31.—This new honour did, however, but entail upon Lord Byron the necessity for greater sacrifices. The poverty
of the government and of the town became daily more apparent. They could not furnish the soldiers’ rations, nor pay their arrears; nor was there forthcoming a single farthing of the 1500 dollars which they had agreed to furnish for the fortifications. Thus the whole charge fell upon Lord Byron.