LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Last Days of Lord Byron
Chapter I

‣ Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
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“Lord Byron awoke in half an hour. I wished to go to him, but I had not the heart.
Mr. Parry went, and Byron knew him again, and squeezed his hand, and tried to
express his last wishes.”—Count Gamba’s Narrative.






Public Meeting in London in behalf of the Greeks—My services engaged by Mr. Gordon—His generous offer—Unaccountable delay of the Committee—Mr. Gordon retracts—Formation of a small Brigade—Terms of my agreement—Sail from the River—Arrival at Malta—Delay there, and at Corfu—Arrival at Dragomestri—Send the Stores to Missolonghi—Arrival there—Meeting with Colonel Stanhope—Take up my Quarters in Lord Byron’s House—Introduction to Lord Byron—His kind manner, and warm reception of me—His appearance—Furniture of his room—Conversation.

The noble struggle of the Greeks to shake off the yoke of their Mahomedan tyrants having excited much interest in Great Britain, and produced a strong wish, among many enlightened persons, to contribute to the success of so good a cause, a Public Meeting was called at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, London, on the 15th day of May, in the year 1823. A subscription was entered into at the meeting, and a committee appointed to carry the intentions of those who sub-
scribed their money into effect, by providing such supplies as were most likely to be of effectual service to the Greeks. Having been known to several members of the committee, by my services on another occasion, I was sent for by
Mr. Hume, to ascertain if I were willing to be again employed. I accordingly waited on this gentleman, and met with him Mr. Blaquiere and Mr. Gordon. Nothing particular passed, except that the latter gentleman put several questions to me concerning the formation of a brigade of artillery. I gave him all the information in my power, at the moment, as to the number of men, the quantity of stores of different kinds, and the various species of ammunition which would be required to form a small brigade; and I concluded by tendering an offer of my services to prepare one, under his auspices and direction.

Mr. Gordon being extremely anxious, and even enthusiastic, to promote the cause of the Greeks, readily accepted my offer, and engaged me immediately. I accompanied him to Scotland, at his request, and remained at Cairness, the place of his residence in that country, until the committee came to a determination as to the course of proceedings they would adopt. At length, it being ascertained that the subscriptions would enable the committee to pay the expenses incurred in England, and send some effectual
assistance to the Greeks, Mr. Gordon ordered me to make out an estimate of the expense of a corps of artillery, consisting of mountain guns and howitzers, with all the necessary ammunition and stores. A small laboratory, foundry, and establishment for making and repairing gun-carriages, were also to be added. According to his directions, I immediately made out an estimate of all these matters, on the most economical plan, and the sum I concluded they would cost was 10,500l.

My employer approved of this statement, and, with that devotion to the good cause of Greece which has so long distinguished him, he immediately made an offer to the committee to pay the third of this expense from his private purse, if the committee would pay the remainder. He also offered to give up his own time, and proceed immediately to Greece with this most needed and necessary supply, could his wish for the formation of a brigade of artillery be accomplished. He thought no sacrifice, short of consistency and honour, too great to promote the cause of the Greeks. It was plain, in his opinion, that artillery was the arm of war in which they were most deficient, and which, if properly organized, might render them the most beneficial services.

To further his views, he immediately sent me to London to form a small brigade on his own account, and to stimulate the committee to pro-
ceed as fast as possible. From some causes, which I cannot explain, and which have never been explained, a delay of nearly four months took place. Every day did I attend on the committee, to give them every information in my power, and receive their orders, and during all this time I noticed little or no progress in the actual preparations for assisting Greece.
Mr. Gordon can, most probably, explain this matter far better than I can, and to him and the committee I willingly leave it, remarking merely, that the latter are responsible to the warm-hearted people of our country who confided in them, and to the great interests of humanity, religion, and liberty, with which they were intrusted, for this injurious and fatal delay. The first consequence of it was, that Mr. Gordon retracted his offer, and notified his intention to relinquish his excellent plan. At the same time; he made a present to the committee, for the use of the Greeks, of the small brigade I had formed, together with all the carriages, limber and forge carts, complete; exclusive of contributing a very handsome sum of money.

The same circumstance put me to much inconvenience, and to a considerable expence. Under the notion that Mr. Gordon’s proposition would be promptly acted on, I went among some of my old acquaintance connected with the Artil-
lery, and selected upwards of fifty veterans, both artillery-men and artificers, all of excellent character, who would readily have engaged themselves in the service of Greece. Of course, I had to enter into an engagement with them, to make them promises, and point out to them the advantages they would obtain. Some of them not having a present means of subsistence in London, I was obliged to provide them with both food and lodging, and being also obliged to give the men something to whom I had held out hopes and made promises, I was put to an expense altogether of upwards of thirty pounds, not one farthing of which I was ever paid by the Greek committee, or by any other persons. But whatever I may have lost and suffered appears to me as nothing, compared to what the cause of Greece has lost and suffered by that sort of management which was so vexatious and injurious to me.

When Mr. Gordon withdrew, my connexion with him, in this official relation, of course, ceased, and very sorry I was to lose the stimulus of his advice and encouragement. I was, however, too far embarked in the business, to give it up, and the committee having engaged my services, I continued in attendance on them till the month of August. They then resolved to send out an expedition, or a quantity of supplies
on a small scale. Taking wages, freight out, and every other expense, it was to cost about £4,500, and to consist of certain military stores, and a certain number of artificers and mechanics. I undertook to superintend the manufacture of the various pieces of artillery ordered; and to carry the whole into execution. Contracts were accordingly entered into with several tradesmen, to supply the different species of stores; the whole to be completed in ten weeks. For my services the Committee agreed to pay me four pounds sterling per week. The reader will find in the Appendix, A, a detailed account of the number of men, and quantity of stores, sent out to Greece under my orders.

These supplies were calculated to form a mountain brigade of artillery, with the munitions of war, materiel, tools, &c. necessary for a small establishment. With this as a foundation, it was calculated, should proper assistance be given in Greece, that an arsenal might gradually be formed, sufficient to manufacture all the minor implements of war, and most of the ammunition and stores which would be requisite for that country. It was also supposed, that it would be of great service to introduce among the Greeks some of those mechanic arts connected with war, in which they are most deficient. Sensible as I am of the great utility of every species of practical
mechanical skill, it did appear to me that this plan, which originated with
Mr. Gordon, was one of the most effectual means which could be devised for assisting Greece.

The Greek committee agreed to pay me for my services, the sum of £400 for one year, from the time of my departure, I being to find my own passage back, after that period, if I thought proper to return. For this sum, stipulating for customary and proper usage, according to my rank and behaviour, I entered into a contract to perform certain specific services. Not to interrupt my narrative, I shall place this document also in the Appendix; and the reader will find it marked B.

When the stores were prepared, and the men engaged, I represented to the committee the many advantages which would accrue from forwarding them by a fast-sailing vessel, having nothing else on board, and to touch only at one port for orders. My advice was not followed; and both stores and men were shipped on board a vessel, partly laden with government stores to be delivered at Malta and Corfu, at both which ports, of course, the vessel would have to stop, and must necessarily be detained a considerable time to unload. The utility of the advice which I gave was made very evident to me when we arrived at Greece, where there was, at that time, a great want of stores and ammunition of
every description. There was a great scarcity of powder; and the success, if not the salvation, of Greece depended on our speedy arrival.

The men and stores were all shipped on board the brig “Ann,” of 250 tons, Capt. Langridge, and we sailed from Gravesend on November 10, 1823. We had a favourable voyage from London to Malta, arriving there in thirty-seven days (December 15), and six weeks is not considered to be an unusual passage. Our vessel was, however, more crowded than was consistent with our comfort. The cabin was calculated only to accommodate four persons; and there were nine cabin passengers, besides nine persons in the steerage. I had to provide for eighteen persons, exclusive of two Greek servants, most of whom had not been at sea before, and required much attention. They consisted of three English adventurers, sent out under the auspices of the Greek committee; four foreigners, among whom was Lieut. Sass; two respectable Greeks, six mechanics, a foreman and clerk, with myself. My trouble and expense were both greater than I had expected, the number of persons stipulated for having been only fourteen, and for this number only had provisions been laid in.

At Malta we were detained no less than nineteen days. The cabin passengers went on shore, and I made them an allowance for subsisting them-
selves there. The steerage passengers, particularly the mechanics, whose conduct had not been very good, remained on board, and we were the whole time under apprehensions on their account. We had brought them into the lion’s mouth; and had an information been laid on oath that English mechanics, hired for a foreign service, were on board, both they and the stores would have been detained. The carpenter of the brig, an Irishman, having quarrelled with some of my men, threatened, indeed, to inform against them, and he was only prevented by his ignorance of the mode of proceeding. Without a formal information, the government would not interfere; and the friends of Greece at Malta exerted themselves to prevent this being laid. The alarm on this account was, however, very great; and I was not easy till the Anne was again at sea, and away from Valletta. My men knew all these circumstances, and took advantage of them. They asked for every thing in the way of food and drink which could be procured, and to content them, I was obliged to supply them with whatever the market would afford.

We at length departed from Malta, on January 3, and, after a boisterous passage of six days, we reached Corfu. Here we were again detained no less than ten days, and were subject to the same sort of apprehension as at Malta; but
here, as there, though the authorities knew what our vessel was laden with, they did not interfere. They were satisfied in overlooking us, as the Custom-House clearance at London exonerated them from all responsibility on this point.

From Corfu we proceeded to Ithaca, and were nearly lost on the way, by the pilot running the brig into a small cove in the island of Cephalonia, not large enough for a vessel of her description. We remained at Ithaca seven days, waiting for orders, and had to pay five pounds five shillings a day demurrage. We then received orders to proceed to Dragomestri, in Western Greece, where we arrived on the same day, January 29th. I had necessarily been very impatient through the whole voyage, but more particularly after reaching Malta, and seeing the manner in which the vessel was detained; and I calculated, over and over again, the days and weeks the committee had lost, by not following my advice. At length, our voyage, for the conclusion of which I was so anxious, had been successfully completed, but I found my labours and anxiety were only beginning.

On January 31st, a messenger arrived from Missolonghi, at Dragomestri, and delivered me the following letter of instructions.

Missolonghi, Jan. 30, 1824.
Dear Sir,

The Turkish fleet returned into the Gulf of Lepanto yesterday morning; as they are slow in all their movements, there is no chance of their putting to sea again for many days.

Under these circumstances, Prince Mavrocordato, Lord Byron, and myself, think it desirable, that you should discharge your cargo at Scrofeo. Boats will be in readiness there to receive the articles, and to bring them on direct to Missolonghi.

It will, I fancy, be necessary for you to procure a pilot, but Martin will be able to afford you every information on this and other subjects.

Should you have already, on the receipt of this letter, commenced your disembarkation at Dragomestri, you had better go on with that work; but, in that case, you would do well to load as many boats for this place as may be there procurable.

I beg of you, by the first occasion, to forward to Missolonghi all the lithographic presses, and articles connected with the printing apparatus; also, one person that is acquainted with the art of lithographic printing.

Be pleased, also, to forward my trunk, saddle, sword, letters, &c. forthwith to Missolonghi.

The Artillery Corps, of which you are the Inspector, and every thing, will be ready for you here on your arrival. I expect you here with the greatest impatience;—your services will be most important to the independence and liberties of Greece.

Your’s most truly,
Leicester Stanhope.

We immediately began, and unloaded the ship with all the haste in our power; putting the stores in small vessels, which had been hired to convey them to Missolonghi. This cost us eight days more. There was a great difficulty in procuring small vessels; but when all was ready, we divided our men into two parties, to take care of the stores, and then proceeded in these boats to Missolonghi, where we arrived on February 7th, with all our charge, in good order. On my landing, I was met by Colonel Stanhope: this gentleman introduced me to Prince Mavrocordato, and informed me that a place had been procured for a laboratory or ordnance-establishment, as conformable as possible to the memorandum he had received of me in England. Great difficulty, he said, had been encountered in getting this accommodation, as there was no subordination among the Greeks; and the soldiers had at first objected to quitting the barracks. The place appropriated to us was called the Seraglio, and being at some distance from the water, we had a great deal of trouble in getting the stores removed thither. We received very little assistance; there was no regular organization, and the people who helped us one day rarely came a second. After much labour and vexation, we did, however, succeed in getting all the stores into a place of safety.


Having been consulted by Colonel Stanhope, prior to his leaving England, as to the sort of building we should require, I had given him the following memorandum;—I subjoin it here, that the reader may see I asked for no palace, that I was not fastidious as to architecture, and required only what was indispensable, either for our labours, our safety, or the safety of the stores.


The buildings, if possible, should be connected. One should be a store-house for the different articles brought out from England, and what might be supplied by the Greek Government. The building to be appropriated as the magazine for the gunpowder and other stores liable to explosion, is to be separate from the other. Remark—This building must be clear of the manufactory.

The number of men required for the guns and howitzers to be instructed, should be ten men to a gun, giving a total of one hundred and twenty men, exclusive of officers. These men should be armed with a brace of pistols and a sabre, and might be disciplined immediately on my arrival, as I could attend to this part of the service at the same time the different manufactures were in progress.

William Parry,
G. C.

After seeing our men established in their new quarters, I went to my own, which were under the same roof with Lord Byron. Immediately on reaching Missolonghi, I began to suffer from
another effect of our protracted voyage. From the long time our vessel remained at Malta and Corfu, as well as from the expense I had been at in procuring vessels to bring forward the stores, my money began to grow short. I had expended from my own funds, in supplying the artificers and other passengers, and on the public service, every farthing I could spare, and it was necessary, for the sake of the men, as well as my own, and even to enable me to get the stores conveyed to a place of safety, that I should obtain an immediate supply. I accordingly applied to
Colonel Stanhope for pecuniary assistance, but he told me he had no means of supplying me, and no public funds at his command. He added, Lord Byron would probably supply me, he knew his Lordship would at least be glad to see me, and he would introduce me.

I was somewhat impatient to see Lord Byron, and readily accepted this offer. Two of our men, who had arrived in the first boat, had already seen him, and had told me, with great warmth, of his kind and condescending behaviour. He had seemed, they said, overjoyed to see some of his countrymen; he told them he was glad they had arrived in safety, and behaved to them in the most hospitable and friendly manner. This cheered my spirits, which were much depressed by severe fatigue, and the information
I had received from
Colonel Stanhope, that he had no money at his command. Without this it was impossible for me to carry on the service, and I felt abashed and ashamed to come before Lord Byron for the first time in the character of a beggar. He was a nobleman, a stranger, and a man of exalted genius. I had understood I might be of service to him and to Greece, but, on the contrary, I found myself immediately obliged, that I might be enabled even to subsist my men, to have recourse to him for pecuniary aid.

It was under these mingled feelings of regret and expectation, that I had my first interview with Lord Byron. In five minutes after Colonel Stanhope had introduced me, every disagreeable thought had vanished; so kind, so cheering, so friendly was his Lordship’s reception of me, that I soon forgot every unpleasant feeling. He gave me his hand, and cordially welcomed me to Greece. “He would have been glad,” he said, “to have seen me before; he had long expected me, and now that I was come, with a valuable class of men, and some useful stores, he had hopes that something might be done.” This was highly flattering to me, and I soon felt a part of that pleasure which beamed from his Lordship’s countenance.

On getting somewhat more at ease, I had time
to look about me, and notice the room in which I was. The walls were covered with the insignia of
Lord Byron’s occupations. They were hung round with weapons, like an armoury, and supplied with books. Swords of various descriptions and manufacture, rifle-guns and pistols, carbines and daggers, were within reach on every side of the room. His books were placed over them on shelves, and were not quite so accessible. I afterwards thought, when I came to know more of the man and the country, that this arrangement was a type of his opinion concerning it. He was not one of those who thought the Greeks needed education before obtaining freedom: as I can now interpret the language, there was legibly written on the walls,—“Give Greece arms and independence, and then learning; I am here to serve her, but I will serve her first with my steel, and afterwards with my pen.”

Lord Byron was sitting on a kind of mattress, but elevated by a cushion that occupied only a part of it, and made his seat higher than the rest. He was dressed in a blue surtout coat and loose trowsers, and wore a foraging-cap. He was attended by an Italian servant, Tita, and a young Greek of the name of Luca, of a most prepossessing appearance. Count Gamba, too, came in and out of the room, and Fletcher, his servant, was also occasionally in attendance. His Lordship
desired me to sit down beside him: his conversation very soon became animated, and then his countenance appeared even more prepossessing than at first.

He began to rally me on the length of my voyage, and told me he had supposed I meant to vie with my namesake, and that I was gone to explore the South Pole instead of coming to Greece. My arrival at length, he added, had taken a load off his mind, and he would not complain, if he at last saw Greece nourishing and successful. “Why,” he asked, observing that I did not share his satisfaction, “was I not as well pleased as he was?” Then, with a hint at my sailor habits, he said he knew I wanted refreshment, and sent Tita to bring me some brandy and water. This, however, had not all the effect his Lordship wished, and he still rallied me on my dissatisfied appearance, bade me be at home, and explain to him why I was not contented.

I told his Lordship, that I felt my situation very irksome; that I had come to render assistance to the Greeks, and found myself, on the instant of my arrival, obliged to ask him for assistance; that his Lordship’s kindness, and what he had said to me, had heightened my regret, and that if he had received me haughtily and proudly, I should have had less objection to
trouble him; “for,” I added, “
Colonel Stanhope informs me that he has no funds to assist me, and has recommended me to ask your Lordship for money,” On hearing this, he rose, twirled himself round on his heel, (which I afterwards found was a common, though not a graceful practice of his,) and said, “Is that all?—I was afraid it was something else. Do not let that give you any uneasiness; you have only to tell me all your wants, for I like candour, and, as far as I can, I will assist you.” When his Lordship rose, I observed that he was somewhat lame, but his bust appeared perfectly and beautifully formed. After a few moments’ reflection, he again took his seat, and said, he would take some brandy and water with me, on condition that I should tell him all the news in England, and give him all the information in my power.

I accordingly endeavoured to recollect all the events of any importance which had occurred, or of which I had heard before leaving England; I told him of the proceedings of the committee, and of every thing which I thought would be interesting. In return, his Lordship said I had come to a place where I should encounter many difficulties, and if I were the man I had been represented to him, I should be exposed to some dangers. Mr. Bowring, he said, had informed him, that I was a person of violent passions;
he did not, for his own part, exactly dislike those who were quick to feel and prompt to act; though such men might easily get into embarrassments in a country like Greece. Perhaps, indeed, he added, he felt a greater interest in me on this account, than he otherwise should; and, if he found me worthy of his confidence, he would do what lay in his power to make me acquainted both with men and things in Greece, so that I might know how to steer clear of the dangers which threatened me.

I was much surprised that any person, particularly Mr. Bowring, should have given himself the trouble to prejudice Lord Byron against me; and to satisfy his Lordship, I handed over to him the following letter from Mr. Gordon. I shall insert it here,—apologizing at the same time, for speaking to the reader of myself, when Lord Byron is a much more interesting topic,—because I have that to say, in describing my intercourse with him, which will impeach, at least, the prudence and discretion of some highly respectable persons; and therefore I wish to shew, that Lord Byron did not place the confidence with which he immediately honoured me in one wholly untried and unrecommended. I also wish to inspire the reader with that reliance on all my subsequent statements, which will arise from a conviction, that those who have known me have
relied on my integrity. From the moment Lord Byron read this letter, he was satisfied that the delay of which he complained had not originated with me; and during the short remainder of his valuable life, he had me always about him, and placed almost every thing he possessed in Greece under my control. Mr. Gordon wrote to me as follows:—

Cairness, October 18th, 1823
Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure of receiving both your letters;—that of Mr. Robertson was intended as an answer to the first, I am much obliged to you for all the trouble you have taken, and am happy to hear that my train of artillery is soon to arrive. I should already have sent you the letters, were it not that all the friends to whom I would have recommended you in Greece have quitted that country.

Nothing could give me more concern or surprise, than the intelligence you conveyed to me in your last; viz., that the committee had resolved to send out the expedition in a vessel carrying government stores, to touch at Malta and the Ionian Islands. Had it been their intention to defeat the object of the subscription by one masterly stroke, no better plan could have been devised. From the known character of the Powers that be in these Islands, there is nothing to be expected but fine or imprisonment for the individuals composing the expedition, and seizure of the stores belonging to it. And should the committee persist in this plan of despatching you, I would advise you to give them a direct refusal to be accessory to a proceeding which would entail ruin on yourself, and cause disappointment to the friends of the Greeks.

I have been more particular in mentioning this, from your
conduct having always met with my approbation, and from the interest I shall always take in your welfare. I shall be happy to hear from you again,

And I remain,
Dear Sir, yours truly,
Thomas Gordon.

My first interview with Lord Byron lasted nearly three hours, and his Lordship repaid my candour, and the information I had given him, by explaining to me how much he had been harrassed and disappointed since his arrival in Greece. Of these subjects, I shall hereafter have more to say, and shall enter more into details; I shall therefore now only observe, that his Lordship, when speaking on these topics, displayed a great degree of sensibility, not to say irritation,—that his countenance changed rapidly, and expressed great anxiety. He seemed almost to despair of success, but said he would see the contest out. There was then a pallidness in his face, and knitting of his brows, that indicated both weakness and vexation. I have since thought, that his fate was sealed before my arrival in Greece; and that even then he was, so to speak, on his death-bed.