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

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
‣ Notes
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Ignacius, Archbishop of Arta, has for some time resided at Pisa. When he first escaped from the persecutions of Ali Pacha, he took refuge in Russia, and is said to have enjoyed no small share of favour at the court of Alexander, from whom he was allowed a pension. Lord Byron, fearing to hurt him in the eyes of that court, abstained from communication with him whilst in Tuscany; but the same motive did not prevent him from accepting his letters of recommendation for Marco Bozzari and others in Greece. The Archbishop has always devoted a considerable portion of his income to the relief of his fellow countrymen; and the family of Bozzari, retired to Ancona, now subsists upon his bounty.


We were in excellent health and spirits during our whole voyage from Italy to Greece; and for this we were partly indebted to our medical man, and partly to that temperance which was observed by every one on board,
except at the beginning of the voyage by the
captain of our vessel, who however ended by adopting our mode of life. I mention this to contradict an idle story told in a magazine (the London), that Lord Byron on this voyage “passed the principal part of the day drinking with the captain of the ship.” Lord Byron, as we all did, passed his time chiefly in reading. He dined alone on deck; and sometimes in the evening he sat down with us to a glass or two, not more, of light Asti wine. He amused himself in jesting occasionally with the captain, whom he ended, however, by inspiring with a love of reading, such as we thought he had never felt before.

To give some idea of the silly stories that were told to the prejudice of Lord Byron, and which some of his biographers have shown every inclination to adopt for facts, I will mention, that our young physician confessed, that for the first fifteen days of our voyage he had lived in perpetual terror, having been informed that if he committed the slightest fault, Lord Byron would have him torn to pieces by his dogs, which he kept for that purpose; or would order his Tartar to dash his brains out. This Tartar was Baptista Falsieri the Venetian. In the same manner, the English inhabitants both civil and military of Cephalonia seemed surprised by the kind, affable, open, and humorous disposition of Lord Byron, having formed a preconception of him quite contrary to his real character. The writer in the magazine, who certainly never saw Lord Byron in his life, chooses to insert this fact, and to place the surprise and delight to the account of his Lordship, who, he says, “was gratified to a most extravagant pitch.” And at what?—merely because he was “in good odour,” the writer says, “with the authorities of
the Island.” If his Lordship was “gratified to a most extravagant pitch,” he concealed his gratification from me, who was with him almost every hour in the day. Pleased he was at the attentions of the Cephalonian English, as it was his nature to be with the attentions of any persons who seemed to wish him well: the rest is fiction. Perhaps I may be pardoned for alluding to one or two other pretended facts introduced by the
same writer, in order to finish the features of the portrait which he has given of Lord Byron. “It was dangerous,” says that writer, “for his friends to rise in the world, if they valued his friendship more than their own fame—he hated them.” This is very easily said, and is with equal difficulty disproved; because the controversialists of both sides may end in saying, “in my opinion, he did hate them;” whilst the other can only reply, “in my opinion, he did not.” In proportion, however, as the charge is so easily made, and with such difficulty refuted, and as it is a most serious imputation, the writer ought to have some very good grounds for his assertion. I would therefore beg to ask him, which of his friends Lord Byron ever was known to hate, because or when “they rose in the world?” Which of his friends, I further ask, was he ever known to hate at all? Those very few individuals who, I have always understood from his Lordship’s own lips, were his friends, I never heard him talk of, except in terms of the most sincere attachment. My own opinion is just the contrary to that of the writer in the magazine. I think he prided himself on the successes of his friends, and cited them as a proof of discernment in the choice of some of his companions. This I know, that of envy he had not the least spark in his whole disposition: he had strong antipathies,certainly, to one or two individuals; but I have
always understood from those most likely to know, that he never broke with any of the friends of his youth, and that his earliest attachments were also his last.

Again, in order to prove the difficulty of living with Lord Byron, it is said, that “When Mr. Hobhouse and he travelled in Greece together, they were generally a mile asunder.” I have the best authority for saying, that this is not the fact: that two young men, who were continually together and slept in the same room for many months, should not always have ridden side by side on their journey is very likely; but when Lord Byron and Mr. Hobhouse travelled in Greece, it would have been as little safe as comfortable to be “generally a mile asunder;” and the truth is, they were generally very near each other.

The writer wishing to show how attentive Lord Byron was to his own person says, “And in these exercises so careful was he of his hands (one of those little vanities which beset men), that he wore gloves even in swimming!” This is certainly not true; and I should say, on the contrary, that he wore gloves (if it be worth while to mention such a circumstance) rather less than most men: I have known him ride without them.

I could contradict other assertions of the magazine writer, which though trifling in themselves have served as a foundation for his “personal character of Lord Byron;” but I feel reluctant to enter upon a task, which will doubtless one day or the other be better performed by some fellow-countryman of my illustrious friend. Indeed, I should not have said as much as I have, had I not been informed
that the article to which I allude has made some impression upon the English public, having on the first appearance an air of candour and impartiality, as well as of being written after an intimate acquaintance with the great original: whereas, though there is some truth in his statements, it is certain that neither the writer nor his informants were fair judges of the person intended to be portrayed.


Marco Bozzari had undertaken to arrest the march of the Pacha of Scutari, and of Omer Vrioni, who were crossing the mountains towards Anatolico. The enemy were between 15 and 20,000 strong: he had only a few hundred troops; notwithstanding this, he harassed them perpetually with the utmost skill and bravery. When he made his attack on the night on which he wrote to Lord Byron, he had but 300 Suliotes, and assembling them, he told them that he intended to penetrate into the enemy’s camp, and would not be followed except by volunteers: all his men came forward. Bozzari was acquainted with the Turkish watch-word, and in the dead of night rushed into the camp, where for three hours he slaughtered the Turks, and spread confusion in all their quarters, until they began to suspect the small number of their assailants. More than 500 Turks of Scutari defended a large ditch, which crossed the camp. Marco was already wounded, and his friends wished him to retire; but he resolved to try another assault against this party. As he was kneeling on one knee to reload his musket, a ball struck him in the head, and he fell dead on the spot. His companions secured his remains, and carried them to Missolonghi.

292 NOTES.

I had this account from his brother and from Lambro Zerva, who were at his side when he fell.

When Lord Byron had made up his mind to dismiss the 40 Suliotes whom he had taken into his pay, I collected them in the house of Signor Corgialegno, and took that opportunity of reading to them the account of the victory and death of their countryman Bozzari; and never shall I forget the lively colours with which the alternate passions of grief and pride were painted on their rude and weather-worn countenances. They shed a torrent of tears; but immediately recovered themselves, and expressed an anxious desire to join the surviving companions of their deceased chieftain. The Suliotes have learnt by rote a few words, allusive to the present chance of national independence, and to the ancient glories of Greece; but their real feelings prompt them to reject the name of Greeks as synonymous with slaves, and to keep to that of their own tribe: never do they turn to the quarter where their own rocks are seen to rise into the clouds, never do they mention the name of Suli, without a tear or a sigh.


We passed our time at Metaxata in Cephalonia as I have described in the narrative, and seldom saw any one in the evening except Dr. Stravolemo, one of the most estimable men in the island, who lived in our village, and who had been first physician to Ali Pacha. He was an entertaining man, and afforded us no little amusement occasionally, by disputing on some medical question with Dr. Bruno. Lord Byron, who had generally three or
four books lying before him, of which he read first one then the other, used to contrive, in a way that was exceedingly diverting, to foment those friendly contentions, which, however, never passed beyond the proper bounds. Lord Byron’s favourite reading consisted of Greek history, of memoirs, and of romances. Never a day passed without his reading some pages of the Scotch novels. His admiration of
Walter Scott, both as a writer and as a companion, was unbounded. Speaking of him to his English friends, he used to say, “You should know Scott; you would like him so much; he is the most delightful man in a room; no affectation, no nonsense; and, what I like above all things, nothing of the author about him.”


I believe I have not noted in my narrative that when we were at Metaxata, one day after our ride—it was in October—Colonel Napier, the resident, arrived at full gallop, inquiring for Drs. Bruno and Stravolemo, and returned immediately with the same speed. We learnt that a party of peasants employed in road-making had imprudently excavated a high bank, which had fallen down and overwhelmed a dozen persons. Colonel Napier had arrived at this moment, and set off in search of assistance. Lord Byron despatched Bruno to the spot, and we followed as soon as our horses could be got ready. When we came to the place, we saw a most lamentable spectacle indeed. A crowd of women and children were assembled round the ruins, and filled the air with their cries. Three or four of the peasants who had been dug from under
ground were carried before us half dead to the neighbouring cottages; and we found
Mr. Hill, a friend of Lord Byron, and the superintendent of those works, in a state of the utmost consternation. Notwithstanding, however, an immense body of people continued flocking to the place, and it was thought that there were still some other workmen under the fallen earth, no one would make any further efforts. The Greeks stood looking on without moving, as if totally indifferent to the catastrophe, or despairing of doing any good. This enraged Lord Byron very much; he seized a spade himself, and began to work as hard as he could; but it was not until after being threatened with the horsewhip that the peasants would follow his example. Some shoes and hats were found; but the story told in the Westminster Review, of two men being discovered, is incorrect. Lord Byron never could be an idle spectator of any calamity. He was peculiarly alive to the distresses of others; and was perhaps a little too easily imposed upon by every tale of woe, however clumsily contrived. The slightest appearance of injustice or cruelty, not only to his own species, but to animals, roused his indignation, and commanded his interference, without the least calculation as to personal consequences.


I have mentioned in my narrative the reasons that induced Lord Byron to proceed to Missolonghi; and in order to give an idea of the impatience with which he was expected there, I subjoin extracts from two letters from that
place, one from
Mavrocordato, the other from Colonel Stanhope.

“De Missolonghi, ce 29 Decemb. 1823.

“C’est avec le plus grand chagrin que j’ai vu de retour le bâtiment que j’ai cru devoir mettre à votre disposition. . . . . . . . Je prends donc le parti de faire une double expedition aujourd’hui d’une barque Ionienne, qui portera mes lettres dans le port, et du bâtiment de l’ammiral Bottazi, qui restera à la voile sous Metaxata pour vous attendre à son bord.

“Je n’ai pas besoin de vous dire, mi Lord, combien il me tard de vous voir arriver; à quel point votre presence est désirée de tout le monde, et quelle direction avantageuse elle donnera à toutes les affaires. Vos conseils seront écoutes comme des oracles; et nous ne perdront par le tems le plus précieux de nos operations contre l’ennemi.”

“Missolonghi, December 28th, 1823.

“The Greek ship sent for your Lordship has returned; your arrival was anticipated, and the disappointment has been great indeed. The Prince is in a state of anxiety, the admiral looks gloomy, and the sailors grumble aloud. It is right and necessary to tell you that a great deal is expected from you, both in the way of counsel and money.

“In the first place, your loan is much wanted; and if the money arrive not speedily, I expect the remaining five ships (the others are off), will soon make sail for Spezia. I therefore think that a large portion of the
loan should be immediately placed at the disposal of

“With respect to your coming here, all are eager to see you: they calculate moreover on your aiding them with resources for their expedition against Lepanto: they think you will take 1000 or 1500 Suliotes into your pay for two or three months.

“This town is swarming with soldiers, and the government has neither quarters nor provisions for them.

“I walked along the street this evening, and the people asked me after Lord Byron!!!

“L. S.”
“Miss. 29 Dec.

Prince Mavrocordato and the admiral are in a state of extreme perplexity: they, it seems, relied on your loan for the payment of the fleet; that loan not having been received, the sailors will depart immediately. This will be a fatal event indeed, as it will place Missolonghi in a state of blockade; and will prevent the Greek troops from acting against the fortresses of Nepacto and Patras.

“Under these circumstances, I hope your Lordship will proceed hither. You are expected with feverish anxiety. Your further delay in coming will be attended with serious consequences.

“L. S.”
NOTES. 297

Lord Byron also received invitations from the Suliote chieftains at Anatolico, one of whom, Draco, was in correspondence with him; and he had also at Cephalonia several conferences with Nota Bozzari, the uncle of Marco, who promised him to use all his influence in settling the differences amongst his fellow-countrymen. Nota had a right to be heard by them; for he had made the most generous sacrifices in behalf of his country, and had been the peculiar object of the hatred of Ali Pacha; so much so, that the tyrant had used every means to procure his assassination. At that time a certain Suliote, with all his family, were imprisoned in the dungeons of Ioannina. Ali offered him and his children their liberty if he would repair to Corfu and kill Bozzari. The man, to save his family, accepted the offer. He went to Corfu; but he missed his aim; and instead of Nota himself, he killed the son of Bozzari, a promising youth of twenty years of age.


I will venture to add some further particulars respecting my capture by the Turkish frigate. When the Turks halloaed to us to keep near their ship, they were all on the deck, looking at us attentively. I continued looking at them through my spy-glass, on which they called out to me, that if I continued doing so any longer, they would fire, and sink us: so great was their alarm, but that of our sailors was, of course, much more serious; and (though all our servants and household kept up their spirits, and behaved courageously) they gave themselves over for lost, and wept bitterly.

298 NOTES.

It was fortunate for us that we fell into the hands of a generous enemy. The captain, Zachiria Bey, was descended from a rich Candiote family, and he spoke Greek more familiarly than Turkish. He had lost all his fortune in the present revolution; but he spoke of it to me with perfect calmness and indifference, only saying, as he looked up to heaven, “It was written that it should be so.” He was the captain of the Captain Pacha’s ship that was burnt at Scio, and had saved himself by swimming. No wonder, then, that he imagined he saw a fireship in every Greek boat. He had with him two Greek boys, taken at the massacre at Scio, and having made Mahometans of them, he treated them with great care and humanity, of which, however, he made a merit to me, saying, “Could I treat them better if they were my own children?” The boys were, notwithstanding, eager to return to their countrymen and to their religion, and asked Spiro if he could contrive their escape?

At the table of Zachiria we did not drink wine, but punch, in a large cup that went round to all of us. We had neither forks nor spoons, except one old spoon which he brought out on my account, and which was so rusty that I could not use it. During supper a fellow sung a sort of psalm to us, in a hoarse nasal voice. He would have us breakfast and dine with him the next day, and seemed to take a liking to us; for he came to visit us when we lay off the castle of the Morea. On that occasion we took care to have some good punch and other liquors ready for him. He drank freely, saying, “My father always recommended abstinence, but he lived in the contrary way himself—I shall follow his example, and
preach abstinence to others.” His ship was a fine French-built vessel of fifty guns; his cabin was clean and commodious; but the quarters of his crew were like pigsties. He had about 500 on board; but when he left Constantinople, in the spring, he had 700, of whom 200 had died of disease. The duty of sailing the ship was left to about fifty Italians. The Turks never mounted aloft: they seemed to me to do nothing; except some dozen of them, who were driving about the rest of the crew with sticks and shouts, like so many oxen. They were six hours weighing anchor.

I had an opportunity of observing the soldiery, in the castle of the Morea, and found them much the same sort of troops as those in the frigate; as much indolence, ignorance, and want of discipline prevail amongst the one as the other. The fortifications of this castle, as well as of Lepanto and Patras, are so insignificant, and so ill-guarded, that 500 soldiers would take them by assault at any time. The best proof of the weakness of the Turkish force is known in the successes of the Greeks, without means, and embarrassed, as they are, by intestine discord. The Pacha (Yussuff) of the castles sent me a message by one of his principal counsellors, a grave and venerable old man, who held a long conversation with me on the Greek insurrection, and gave me his opinion of the various chiefs. He told me that Colocotroni and Nikita were good soldiers, but too ignorant to be much dreaded; and that, for his part, he was more afraid of the skill of Mavrocordato. To show me how he preferred ingenuity to brute force, he made use of this parable:—“If a blockhead wants to destroy a man’s house, he takes a
pickaxe, and begins hammering at the walls: he has scarcely begun, when the inmates rush out, and he has hardly time to escape with his life: now, a clever fellow who has the same project, observing that a torrent runs at a little distance from the house, silently breaks down the dam, and in a little time the house is overflowed and carried away, and the inhabitants either are obliged to fly for their lives, or are drowned.”

Yussuff Pacha himself, though a good man, was not remarkable for his education or ingenuity. He one day sent to me, asking if I had a map of Greece. I lent him one of Turkey in Europe: after examining it attentively with his counsellors and secretaries, he returned it to me, with a request that I would send him another, in which he could find Prevesa and Roumelia. I need not mention that the former map contained all Roumelia.

Notwithstanding, however, the gratitude of Zachiria Bey to Spiro, and the civility of the Pacha to me, there were moments at which I felt by no means at ease. One day I found that a boat had arrived from Zante, and as my papers had been detained by the Pacha after the hour appointed on that morning for their delivery, I fancied myself discovered. Lord Byron had given his property up for lost; but he hoped nothing would happen to us. He wrote to the primates of Missolonghi, telling them that the greater part of the monies engaged for the Greeks was safe in his hands, and that as for the remainder, the loss should not fall on them, but himself. From the Scrofes Rocks, he also wrote to Colonel Stanhope as follows:

NOTES. 301
“Scrofer (or some such name), on board
“a Cephaloniote Mistico, December
“31, 1823.
“My dear Stanhope,

“We are just arrived here, that is, part of my people and I, with some things, &c. 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 clearing 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 (Draco), 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 un-
easy at being here; not so much on my own account as on that of a Greek boy with me, for you know what his fate would be; and I would sooner cut him in pieces and myself too than have him taken out by those barbarians. We are all very well.

“N. B.

“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 between us and the port.”

Such was Lord Byron’s style of writing under circumstances of considerable peril: there was indeed always a playfulness of mind observable in him on occasions when most other men are serious and thoughtful. This turn of mind, however, gave an air of openness and frankness to him which was irresistible, even with persons the most prepossessed against him. For example, Count Constantine Metaxa, ex-prefect of Missolonghi, being fearful that Lord Byron had a dislike to him and his friends, prepared on our arrival at that place to quit the town, and retire to Tripolitza. He resolved, however, to see Lord Byron: he came into the room with apprehension and suspicion strongly depicted on his countenance; but he retired delighted with his visit, and full of confidence and enthusiasm for his Lordship, who had entered at once into a frank avowal of his intentions, and in a few words had laid before the Count a summary of the reasons which had induced him to visit Greece, and of the projects which he hoped to execute: so that when the Count departed for Tripolitza, he went there as the friend and coadjutor of Lord Byron.

NOTES. 303

I have spoken of Lord Byron’s mode of living: I have before me an order which he gave his superintendent of the household for the daily expenses of his own table. It is this; and amounts to no more than one piastre.

Bread, a pound and a half 15
Wine 7
Fish 15
Olives 3

This was his dinner; his breakfast consisted of a single dish of tea, without milk or sugar. The place of his abode was as simple as his fare. Colonel Stanhope lived in the same house, and Lord Byron had two wretched rooms above him. In one of these he slept, in the other he received his guests; but this second apartment was at night turned into a dormitory for us.


When his friends in Zante and Cefalonia heard of his first fit, they invited Lord Byron most earnestly to retire, at least for a time, to one of the Ionian islands; but he had made up his mind on this subject, and he wrote thus to a gentleman of Zante.

“I am extremely obliged by your offer of your country house (as for all other kindnesses), in case my health should require my removal; but 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 allowances must be made for them by all reasonable people.”

It was about the period at which this letter was written that Lord Byron had accepted the invitation from Ulysses to attend a congress at Salona, at which it was more than probable it would have been resolved, by the chieftains of Eastern and Western Greece, that his Lordship should have the general direction of affairs in the Western continent. Indeed it was not unfrequently rumoured, that in a short space of time the general government of the country would be placed in his hands. Considering the vast addition to his authority which the arrival of the monies from England would have insured to him, such a supposition is by no means chimerical. Of his visit to Salona Lord Byron wrote thus:

“In a few days P. Mavrocordato and myself, with a considerable escort, intend to proceed to Salona, at the request of Ulysses and the chiefs of Eastern Greece; and to take measures offensive and defensive for the ensuing campaign. Mavrocordato is almost recalled by the new government of the Morea (to take the lead, I rather think), and they have written to propose to me to go either to the Morea with him, or to take the general direction of affairs in this quarter with General Londos, and any other I may choose to form a council. Andrea Londos is my old friend and acquaintance,
since we were lads in Greece together. It would be difficult to give a positive answer till the Salona meeting is over; but I am willing to serve them in any capacity they please; either commanding or commanded—it is much the same to me, as long as I can be of any presumed use to them. Excuse haste—it is late—and I have been several hours on horseback, in a country so miry after the rains, that every hundred yards brings you to a brook or a ditch, of whose depth, width, colour, and contents, both my horses and their riders have brought away many tokens.”


The following prospectus of the Greek Telegraph will show what were the principles on which Lord Byron and his friends wished the press to be conducted in Greece.

Prospectus.—Knowing the interest the christian people take in the affairs of Greece, some of those engaged in that sacred cause have resolved on publishing for their information a weekly journal, to be entitled The Greek Telegraph.

Written contributions to this newspaper will be accepted from men of all nations and parties. The articles will be published in the language in which they are forwarded to the editors.

The motto selected is the following passage of Homer:

“When man becomes enslaved, Jove deprives him of half his virtues.”
306 NOTES.

Already we have explained that we belong to no faction: we are however free men, and consider that publicity is the very soul of justice. It should prevail in the senate; in the courts of law; and above all, in giving vent to the unrestricted expression of the people’s thoughts. “The liberty of the press,” says Hume, “is attended with so few inconveniences, that it may be claimed as the common right of all mankind.” We are nevertheless enemies to all licentiousness; and our attachment to a free press is founded on a conviction that it is the best means of promoting public virtue.

The general object of the projectors of this journal is to convey intelligence to the world of the events that are passing in Greece.

In cooperation with the Greek committees in London and elsewhere, they will endeavour to encourage throughout the world every effort towards the promotion of her freedom and the amelioration of her condition. We wish the Greeks to be all armed; their land forces and their navies efficient, and of a constitutional character; their tongues and their presses free—free as their own thoughts; their roads open, and posts established for circulation of their ideas on military, commercial, and political subjects. The people we hope to see in full enjoyment of religious liberty; their laws plain and comprehensive; and justice openly, speedily, and cheaply administered. We desire the Greeks to have possession of that which is dear to every heart—the lands of their ancestors; their country accessible to settlers, with all the capital and improvement they can bring into it; their hands stretched out in amity, and their ports wide open
to all nations; and, finally, to behold their arms triumphant, and their christian charity extended to their, enemies. These are the unanimous sentiments of all high-minded men.

The Greek Telegraph will be published every, Saturday.

The subscription to it will be six dollars per annum.

Those who wish to have this newspaper will address themselves to the Editors of the Greek Telegraph, under cover to Segt. Doctor J. J. Mayer, at Missolonghi.

The Editors solicit the friends of Greece to forward news and contribute written articles in French, Italian, German, English, and other languages, for insertion in the Greek Telegraph.

Missolonghi, 16 (4) Marzo, 1824.