LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Henry Drury, 3 May 1810

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
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Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
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Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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“Salsette Frigate, May 3d, 1810.

“When I left England, nearly a year ago, you requested me to write to you—I will do so. I have crossed Portugal, traversed the south of Spain, visited Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, and thence passed into Turkey, where I am still wandering. I first landed in Albania, the ancient Epirus, where we penetrated as far as Mount Tomarit—excellently treated by the chief Ali Pacha,—and, after journeying through Illyria, Chaonia, &c,, crossed the Gulf of Actiuim, with a guard of 50 Albanians, and passed the Achelous in our route through Acarnia and Ætolia. We stopped a short time in the Morea, crossed the Gulf of Lepanto, and landed at the foot of Parnassus;—saw all that Delphi retains, and so on to Thebes and Athens, at which last we remained ten weeks.

“His majesty’s ship Pylades, brought us to Smyrna; but not before we had topographised Attica, including, of course, Marathon and the Sunian promontory. From Smyrna to the Troad (which we visited when at anchor, for a fortnight, off the tomb of Antilochus) was our next stage; and now we are in the Dardannelles, waiting for a wind to proceed to Constantinople.

220 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1810.

“This morning I swam from Sestos to Abydos. The immediate distance is not above a mile, but the current renders it hazardous;—so much so that I doubt whether Leander’s conjugal affection must not have been a little chilled in his passage to Paradise. I attempted it a week ago, and failed,—owing to the north wind, and the wonderful rapidity of the tide,—though I have been from my childhood a strong swimmer. But, this morning being calmer, I succeeded, and crossed the ‘broad Hellespont’ in an hour and ten minutes.

“Well, my dear sir, I have left my home, and seen part of Africa and Asia, and a tolerable portion of Europe. I have been with generals and admirals, princes and pashas, governors and ungovernables,—but I have not time or paper to expatiate. I wish to let you know that I live with a friendly remembrance of you, and a hope to meet you again; and, if I do this as shortly as possible, attribute it to any thing but forgetfulness.

“Greece, ancient and modern, you know too well to require description. Albania, indeed, I have seen more of than any Englishman (except a Mr. Leake), for it is a country rarely visited, from the savage character of the natives, though abounding in more natural beauties than the classical regions of Greece,—which, however, are still eminently beautiful, particularly Delphi, and Cape Colonna in Attica. Yet these are nothing to parts of Illyria and Epirus, where places without a name, and rivers not laid down in maps, may, one day, when more known, be justly esteemed superior subjects, for the pencil and the pen, to the dry ditch of the Ilissus and the bogs of Bœotia.

“The Troad is a fine field for conjecture and snipe-shooting, and a good sportsman and an ingenious scholar may exercise their feet and faculties to great advantage upon the spot;—or, if they prefer riding, lose their way (as I did) in a cursed quaggmire of the Scamander, who wriggles about as if the Dardan virgins still offered their wonted tribute. The only vestige of Troy or her destroyers, are the barrows supposed to contain the carcasses of Achilles, Antilochus, Ajax, &c.—but Mount Ida is still in high feather, though the shepherds are now-a-days not much like Ganymede. But why should I say more of these things? are they
222 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1810.
not written in the Boke of
Gell? and has not H. got a journal? I keep none, as I have renounced scribbling.

“I see not much difference between ourselves and the Turks, save that we have * *, and they have none—that they have long dresses, and we short, and that we talk much, and they little. * * * * * They are sensible people. Ali Pacha told me he was sure I was a man of rank, because I had small ears and hands, and curling hair. By the by, I speak the Romaic, or modern Greek, tolerably. It does not differ from the ancient dialects so much as you would conceive; but the pronunciation is diametrically opposite. Of verse, except in rhyme, they have no idea.

“I like the Greeks, who are plausible rascals,—with all the Turkish vices, without their courage. However, some are brave, and all are beautiful, very much resembling the busts of Alcibiades:—the women not quite so handsome. I can swear in Turkish; but, except one horrible oath, and ‘pimp,’ and ‘bread,’ and ‘water,’ I have got no great vocabulary in that language. They are extremely polite to strangers of any rank, properly protected; and as I have two servants and two soldiers, we get on with great éclat. We have been occasionally in danger of thieves, and once of shipwreck,—but always escaped.

“At Malta I fell in love with a married woman, and challenged an aide-de-camp of General * * (a rude fellow, who grinned at something,—I never rightly knew what)—but he explained and apologized, and the lady embarked for Cadiz, and so I escaped murder and crim. con. Of Spain I sent some account to our Hodgson, but have subsequently written to no one, save notes to relations and lawyers, to keep them out of my premises. I mean to give up all connexion, on my return, with many of my best friends—as I supposed them—and to snarl all my life. But I hope to have one good-humoured laugh with you, and to embrace Dwyer, and pledge Hodgson, before I commence cynicism.

“Tell Doctor Butler I am now writing, with the gold pen he gave me before I left England, which is the reason my scrawl is more unintelligible than usual. I have been at Athens and seen plenty of these reeds for scribbling, some of which he refused to bestow upon me,
A. D. 1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 223
topographic Gell had brought them from Attica. But I will not describe,—no—you must be satisfied with simple detail till my return; and then we will unfold the flood-gates of colloquy. I am in a 36-gun frigate, going up to fetch Bob Adair from Constantinople, who will have the honour to carry this letter.

“And so H.’s boke is out*, with some sentimental sing-song of my own to fill up,—and how does it take, eh? and where the devil is the 2nd edition of my Satire, with additions? and my name on the title-page? and more lines tagged to the end, with a new exordium and what not, hot from my anvil before I cleared the Channel? The Mediterranean and the Atlantic roll between me and criticism; and the thunders of the Hyperborean Review are deafened by the roar of the Hellespont.

“Remember me to Claridge, if not translated to college, and present to Hodgson assurances of my high consideration. Now, you will ask, what shall I do next? and I answer, I do not know. I may return in a few months, but I have intents and projects after visiting Constantinople.—Hobhouse, however, will probably be back in September.

“On the 2d of July we have left Albion one year—‘oblitus meorum obliviscendus et illis.’ I was sick of my own country, and not much prepossessed in favour of any other; but I ‘drag on’ ‘my chain’ without ‘lengthening it at each remove.’ I am like the Jolly Miller, caring for nobody, and not cared for. All countries are much the same in my eyes. I smoke, and stare at mountains, and twirl my mustachios very independently. I miss no comforts, and the mosquitoes that rack the morbid frame of H. have, luckily for me, little effect on mine, because I live more temperately.

“I omitted Ephesus in my catalogue, which I visited during my sojourn at Smyrna; but the Temple has almost perished. and St. Paul need not trouble himself to epistolize the present brood of Ephesians, who have converted a large church built entirely of marble into a mosque, and I don’t know that the edifice looks the worse for it.

“My paper is full, and my ink ebbing—good afternoon! If you address to me at Malta, the letter will be forwarded wherever I may be.

* The Miscellany, to which I have more than once referred.

224 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1810.
H. greets you; he pines for his poetry,—at least, some tidings of it. I almost forgot to tell you that I am dying for love of three Greek girls at Athens, sisters. I lived in the same house. Teresa, Mariana, and Katinka*, are the names of these divinities,—all of them under 15.

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