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

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.



Plan for fortifying Missolonghi.—Lord Byron’s method of paying the expense.—Dissentions.—Method of the Greeks to get money from Lord Byron.—Source of the Dispute between Byron and Stanhope.—Hopes of Capturing a Turkish brig of war.—Lord Byron’s humane orders and rewards as to the prisoners.—The brig destroyed.—Negligence of the Greeks in preparing for their defence—Proposal for having gun-boats.—Lieutenant Sass enters the Hellenic Legion.—Taken prisoner.—His sufferings.—Is released by an English gentleman.—Returns home.—Sent out to Missolonghi by the Greek Committee.—Appointed a Lieutenant in Lord Byron’s brigade.—His death.—Meeting of the Suliot chiefs at Lord Byron’s.—The mechanics frightened.—Resolve to leave Greece.—Receive money to return to England.—Sum they cost the Greek committee.—Work they performed.

The day after Lord Byron’s fit, on February 16th, I accompanied Prince Mavrocordato to inspect the fortifications of Missolonghi, which I found in a most wretched and dilapidated state. With the usual discrimination of persons always accustomed to command, and never to execute, and with that usual discontent which follows the discovery of its being impossible to execute their commands as fast as they are issued, I was requested to put all the fortifications in a perfect state of repair, without possessing the
means. The defences were to be finished, the batteries repaired, the guns remounted, the platforms were to be levelled, the ditches cleared out, a magazine was to be built, and four gun-boats fitted out. All these were, unquestionably, useful things; but there was no means of immediately accomplishing them. The only skilful men we had, were the few mechanics who came out with me from England, and their skill was rendered almost valueless by their discontent. It was plain, however, that all these operations might be carried into effect, if a proper plan, drawn up for the purpose, were executed with energy. But there did not seem to be much hope of this. I had before pointed out to the Prince several little things which would be useful, and might be immediately executed. For example, there were several Turkish guns, and considerable quantities of loose shot lying about the town, and at the water side; these I wished to be collected, and carried to the arsenal; as they must constitute the materials of our defence. The guns sent out from England were field-artillery, or mountain-guns, proper to secure passes, and such like, and the artillery for the fortifications must be elsewhere provided. I had before requested that these guns and shot might be collected for this purpose, but in vain; both the Prince and the people seemed quite unaware that prepara-
tory labours were more certain of securing victory than mere animal courage; and this, and other necessary operations, remained unexecuted.

On reporting to Lord Byron what I had seen, what I had said to Prince Mavrocordato, and what I thought might be done, he ordered me to draw up a plan for putting the fortifications in thorough repair, and to accompany it with an estimate of the expense. It was agreed, that I should make the estimate only one-third of what I thought would be the actual expense, and if that third could be procured from the Magistrates, Lord Byron undertook secretly to pay the remainder. With the iron and materials brought out from England, some of which might be spared for this purpose, we concluded that the whole might be done for the sum of five thousand dollars; and it was therefore agreed, that we should endeavour to get one thousand dollars from the Greeks, with supplies of wood, and the assistance of a few labourers and artificers. By means of this sum, and assistance, together with his Lordship’s advances, Missolonghi and the fort of Vasaladi might be put in a complete state of defence, and gun-boats fitted out, so that we might be fully prepared to meet the enemy. At my request, therefore, Colonel Stanhope drew up and presented a plan and
estimate for this purpose. It will be found in the Appendix. The magistrates of Missolonghi and Prince Mavrocordato concurred in it, and preparations were talked of for carrying it into effect.

This was an additional task which Lord Byron imposed on himself. We were before actively employed in fitting up the arsenal, and disciplining the artillery in field-exercise, organizing his Lordship’s brigade, &c. &c. There was work enough for us already marked out, even with the most zealous co-operation, both of the Greeks, and among ourselves, which unfortunately did not exist. The foreign adventurers disagreed with one another, and with every body else; the mechanics sent from England were by no means satisfied; Lord Byron and Colonel Stanhope did not both row in the same boat; and Prince Mavrocordato and the Greek authorities were for obtaining every thing, promising every thing, and doing nothing. In such a state of division, or rather, slumbering discord, of all the numerous and mighty projects we took in hand, not one ripened into complete success.

To shew the reader how things were managed in Greece, and in what way Lord Byron was treated, both by the Greeks and his own countrymen, I shall here mention what Lord Byron said to me, on my talking to him about the esti-
mate.—“All this is a very pretty piece of mockery,” he said; “but the instant the estimate is agreed to, the Primates will come here, and under some false pretence or other, beg a loan of me, to the amount required. I shall give them a refusal, and they will retire, making me a thousand compliments; but after a short time, I shall be visited by
Prince Mavrocordato, who will find some other reason for asking the loan. If I refuse the Prince, I shall be again visited by the Primates, and if they go away without accomplishing their errand, the Prince will again renew the attack. To be plain with you, if I do not advance the whole amount, your project will vanish into thin air; but if I do it in any other way than secretly, as you and I have agreed on, I shall have fifty projects laid before me every week, and I shall speedily be reduced to beggary, or obliged to quit the country, which I am determined not to do while a chance of success remains.”

“It will be better, my Lord,” I said, “not to go through this farce, and, with your permission, I will tell Colonel Stanhope it will be of no use to present the estimate.”

At this his Lordship flew into a passion, and said, “Do you suppose I will give myself the trouble of explaining to others every difficulty which I have to encounter, and am acquainted with?
No, No!—
Colonel Stanhope has already said, I am too liberal; the money of the committee must not be intrusted to me, and I therefore will provide what supplies I can for the good of the service, but I will not waste my time and thoughts in fruitless explanations. In a short time, Colonel Stanhope will depart hence, and then our unpleasant altercations will cease. As to the Greeks, and their applications, I will refer them all to you, and you shall answer them agreeably to my wishes. What you point out as necessary for the service, and I approve of, I will find means for you to perform; but I know it is all in vain to expect money from the Greeks, or cordiality between Stanhope and me.”

February 17th. There were considerable hopes and expectations of capturing a Turkish brig of war excited this day, as news came to us, that one, mounting twenty-two guns, was aground six or seven miles from the city. This was a sort of enterprise which suited the Greeks, for there was in it a promise both of vengeance and plunder; and many of them set off in boats, as if each were afraid he should lose his share of the prize. They did not find the enterprise so easy; and it was evident more means must be prepared, before she fell into our power. Consigning my ordinary labours to the superintendence of Messrs. Gill and Hodges, I set off, accompanied
by some other officers, to reconnoitre her. We proceeded about five miles across what is called the fishing ground, a considerable extent of shallows, on which was about eighteen inches or two feet of water. We ascertained that we could, though with considerable difficulty, transport stores and guns over these shallows, and make an attack on the brig from a point of land beyond them. It was accordingly resolved to attack her in this manner, on the following day; and though it came on to rain, in the mean time, with great violence, we zealously set about making preparations.

We had but two pieces of cannon fit for immediate service; a long three-pounder, and Mr. Gordon’s howitzer. There were, also, two Turkish guns, but the carriages were in such a state, that it was necessary to repair them, and they could not be got ready before three o’clock. I waited on Lord Byron, and explained all these circumstances to him; he expressed his satisfaction with my arrangements, and gave me orders to draw on him for money to pay all the additional expense; and to be sure and send him word when it was likely we should begin the attack on her that he might be on the spot.

On this occasion, his Lordship, with that active attention to humanity which characterized all his proceedings in Greece, gave me strict
injunctions, should any prisoners be taken, to endeavour to save their lives. For this purpose, he offered to give two dollars a head for every prisoner saved, to pay something more for officers, and be at all the expense of taking care of them while at Missolonghi, and of sending them to a place of safety. His Lordship, knowing also what would be the conduct of the Greeks, as to plunder, gave me strict injunctions to keep back the artillery brigade, that I might have it as much as possible in my power to relieve and protect the captives, should any be made.

William Fletcher, 1827
Robert Laycock, 1827
Lega Zambelli, 1827
Leicester Stanhope, 1827
The Examiner, 1827
The Examiner, 1827

Early in the morning of the 18th, we began to prepare for our attack on the brig, In transporting our guns, the boats grounded; which, with other unexpected impediments, brought on the afternoon before our preparations were completed. In the mean time, three Turkish brigs of war came down from Patrass, and brought up, so as to enfilade the beach; they got out their boats, and endeavoured to heave the brig, which was aground, afloat into deep water, but without success; and seeing our preparations for an attack, they thought it prudent to get out of the way. They accordingly removed all the men from the brig, and as many of her stores as they could save; and then, setting her on fire, made sail for Patrass. She burnt down to the waters’ edge. Though we were disappointed of
our prey, we all rejoiced to see her in flames; and carried back our guns and stores to the arsenal, without much grumbling, that our labour had not been rewarded as we expected.

Lord Byron was highly pleased at the destruction of the brig, and asked particularly what loss it would occasion to the Turks. I told him about twenty thousand dollars; and though one small vessel of war seems of trifling moment to a large empire like Turkey, yet, judging of it, probably, from our own straitened means, we all exulted at it, as an important achievement.

This event led Lord Byron to talk of the state of affairs in Greece; and he regretted that the Greeks should have done so little to repair the losses of the last campaign, or prepare for the next. They were so improvident, or so destitute, not having either money or materials, that neither in the Morea, nor in Western Greece, had any preparations been made to meet the enemy; nor had the fortifications and other means of defence, which had suffered in the late attack, been restored. The fleet was laid up till the loan should be negotiated in England, and the money received.

What had just occurred was an additional evidence, that six or eight gun-boats would be of essential use in defending Missolonghi and An-
natolica. With these at our command, and one of them fitted up to heat shot, the Turkish fleet could not, without great danger, lie at anchor to blockade these places. I again represented this to
Lord Byron, but his Lordship said it was of no use urging it any more on the Greeks; they would assent to it, he knew, and would ask him for money to execute it, and there the matter would rest. I offered, with his Lordship’s permission, to state the matter to the Greek committee, and request them to send out the frames of gun-boats, and the necessary materials; or I would go to the island of Hydra, where it was probable I might provide them. His Lordship said I could not be spared; we might expect the campaign to open in three months, and then our difficulties would be much greater even than at present.

On Thursday, February 19th, the men were again at work at the arsenal, but before their labours had proceeded very far, a quarrel ensued between one of the Suliotes and Lieutenant Sass, the very best, perhaps, of the foreign officers, which ended in his assassination. The whole business shews, unhappily, so well what was the state of Greece, as to the discipline of the soldiery, and the unfortunate effect of sending foreigners to rule and guide them, as it
were, that I shall give a detailed account of this melancholy affair, as far as it came within my knowledge.

Sass seems to have been one of those persons who are born out of season, or have got, from some cause or other, so much awry, or so misplaced, among men, that though they possess the best intentions, nothing succeeds with them. He had a very prepossessing appearance, and seemed destined to win his way smoothly to the goal of happiness; but his fate was very different. He was born of respectable parents, in Swedish Finland, and entered the military service at an early period. He served with credit, both in the Swedish and Swiss armies, but without obtaining distinction; and at the peace, like many others, was disbanded, having nothing but his sword wherewith to carve his fortune.

It is to the credit of England, though her citizens foster the mercenary spirit of mere soldiership less than any other people of Europe, that she does not suffer her defenders, when their services are not required, to die of ingratitude, neglect, and hunger. Though the pittance she gives be small, it is enough to preserve life; but this cannot, in general, be said of the nations of the continent; and in them, the military sovereigns who are at the head of the governments, seem afraid of their own tools, and break and cast them
away, the instant their services can be dispensed with.

Sass was in this situation at the beginning of the Greek contest, and was induced to join the German Hellenic regiment. It was fitted out, at a great expense, by subscriptions among the Germans who were friendly to the Greek cause; but on reaching Greece, these volunteer soldiers were doomed to suffering and neglect; in fact, the disorganized state of Greece, no part of the country, except the islands, having the least particle of disposable produce, and all the exertions of their inhabitants being wisely directed to their shipping, as the best means of enriching and defending their country, rendered it utterly impossible to subsist in it a corps of foreign troops like the Philhellenians; unless, as in the manner of the Turks, they could compel the inhabitants to supply them. There is some reason to believe, that all the foreigners who have been in the service of Greece have had recourse to this means; and as the Greeks did not throw off the yoke of one tyrant to submit to that of another, quarrels necessarily ensued, and the foreigners, being in this case the weaker party, were both ill-treated and half starved. Considering only their own good intentions, and not the light in which the Greeks interpreted them, they complained bitterly of ingratitude; and at length, half de-
stroyed by their combats with the Turks, and half famished by the neglect of the Greeks, the Hellenic corps was broken up.

Sass lived through all these fatigues, privations, and contumelies; then, partly from being unprovided for, partly from having a strong attachment to the cause of Greece, he embarked for Candia, with a view of joining the patriots in that island. On the voyage he was captured by a Turkish vessel, and subjected to the grossest insults, and most brutal cruelty. Some of these things cannot be related; but it may be mentioned, that it was one of the amusements of the Turkish soldiers to draw their sabres across his neck, and to point their carbines at him, so that he frequently expected instant assassination. Half famished, beaten, and in a state of torture, death would, probably, have been mercy, but the continued apprehension of the stroke was dreadful; and probably nothing but his sensibility being blunted by previous sufferings preserved his reason unimpaired. He was carried to Alexandria, and thence sent up to Grand Cairo, where he was sold as a slave. The humanity and generosity of an English gentleman released him from slavery, and provided him with the means of returning to his native country. On his arrival, hearing of the expedition which was preparing in England, he went to London, and offered his services to the
Greek committee. This body provided him with the means of again reaching Greece, but, like other adventurers, when he arrived he had no funds to maintain himself. Becoming known to
Lord Byron, his Lordship appointed him a Lieutenant in his brigade, and here Sass behaved in a prudent and careful manner. He was, undoubtedly, by far the most useful foreign officer who was then in Greece, and his loss was proportionably regretted.

Sass was on duty on the 19th, at the Seraglio, or the arsenal, where all our stores were deposited. There were at that time a great number; of Suliotes at Missolonghi, as well as a number of adventurers of all nations and all sorts of characters, and though we were anxious to teach our arts to the Suliotes and the other Greeks, who were therefore permitted to range round the arsenal at pleasure, yet, as several things had been pilfered, which made precaution necessary, the guards had orders to watch closely whoever entered, and not to allow perfect strangers to come in. One of the Suliotes, however, a very brave soldier, who had distinguished himself in the night attack which Botzaris made on the Turkish camp, and in which he fell, wished that morning to enter the arsenal, as he had done before; but not being known to the serjeant on guard, not a Greek, he was not allowed to pass.
The Suliote insisted on forcing his way, and the serjeant prevented him. A quarrel was, of course, the consequence, and Lieutenant Sass, hearing the disturbance, hastened to the spot. The Greek was armed, like all his countrymen, with a brace of pistols, and his yatagan or dagger, and was a strong, powerful man. Sass, too, was athletic and fearless, but, perhaps, considering the irritation which existed between the foreigners and the Greeks, was not sufficiently temperate on this occasion; he instantly drew his sword, and struck the Greek with the flat part of it. The latter shook himself clear of his first antagonist, and drawing his yatagan with one hand, while he drew forth a pistol with the other, made a desperate attack on Sass. The first attack was parried, and the Suliote received a wound in the neck; the second was fatal, and the unfortunate Sass was at the same instant shot in the head, and received a cut which almost severed his arm from his body. He remained alive, but senseless and speechless, about an hour, and then the existence of the adventurous but unfortunate Sass terminated for ever. He left, I have understood, a wife, then living at Malma, in Sweden; and
Byron, with that attention to the feelings and wants of others which always distinguished him, thought immediately of contributing to her comfort in a pecuniary way.
In the next communication made to the Greek committee, he requested that a small sum might be sent her, on his account.

The Suliote was arrested, but immediately afterwards set at liberty, on his Captain promising that an inquiry should be made, and justice done. The event took place so suddenly, that interference was impossible. On its being known in the town, the confusion became very great; the English and other foreigners gathered round Lord Byron; a thousand exaggerated rumours were instantly set on foot; and, as the Suliotes were not liked by the inhabitants, there was an apprehension the town would be sacked, or that we should at least come to open war. At Lord Byron’s quarters, preparations were made as for a siege. The guns were prepared, and pointed towards the gate, and all the precautions in our power were taken, to prevent surprise. The main body of the Suliotes assembled round the house, threatening to attack it, and to murder every foreigner. Their momentary fury was, probably, checked by the sight of our preparations, and when this had subsided, we were able to settle the matter in a more amicable way.

I preceded to the arsenal, to make inquiries into the matter, and drew up a fair report, as far as I could collect information, of the whole affray: Lord Byron, in the mean time, sent for
the Suliote Captains, and they agreed to wait on him. In fact, on my return, I found him in his full dress, as Colonel of the brigade, surrounded by the Suliote chiefs, each of whom was in the full costume of his country. They were all fine-looking men, and all being animated by this unfortunate event, formed as fine a picture as the eye could well behold. The report which I had drawn up was read and interpreted. Lord Byron addressed the chiefs, also, through the medium of an interpreter, calmness was gradually restored, and the chiefs pledged themselves that justice should be done. They got up, put on their shoes, made a profound obeisance to Lord Byron, crossing their arms at the same time on their breast, and retired to restore quiet among their soldiers. There was something pathetic in this peaceable conclusion to so threatening an affair; and though Lord Byron was still very unwell, few men, I believe, could have conducted themselves with more dignity and more prudence on so trying an occasion.

All this, however, harassed him very much, and though he made a fine display, when his energies were roused into action, his general health suffered from this excessive mental stimulus and exertion. Greater and increasing debility was the consequence; and, as he had some even still more unpleasant altercations
to go through, and still more gratingly-unpleasant scenes to witness, he gradually decayed, and soon fell a sacrifice to his own feelings, and the improper treatment of those who might have had more respect for the peculiarities of genius.

Friday, February 20th. It was gratifying to all the foreigners at Missolonghi, to witness the respect the inhabitants paid to Lieutenant Sass. He was interred with all the honours the Greek church could bestow; and, for our parts, we suspended our labours for the day, to consecrate it to his funeral.

The death of Sass was, in its consequences, very disastrous; it increased the anger and hostility which already existed between the foreign officers and the Greeks, and it alarmed all the mechanics who came out from England with me. One of them, also, in a tumult which ensued, had his hat cut open by the Greeks; and this contributed to make all the rest suspicious. They were apprehensive for their safety, and declared they would work no more. They said they had stipulated to be sent to a place where they should be safe, and they would not remain at Missolonghi. The contract was broken which had been made with them, and they felt themselves at liberty to return. They accordingly appealed to Colonel Stanhope, represented the dangers they were exposed to, and requested
to be sent back to England. The Colonel, they told me, had acceded to their request, and agreed to give them ten pounds per man for their passage home. He took all the blame on himself for bringing them to such a place, and he would take care, he said, to provide them a passage back.

I considered their conduct to have been extremely improper. They ought to have known, before-hand, what their situation was likely to be; at least, the Greek committee, which had several agents in Greece, such as they were, should have taken care to have informed them, previously to engaging their services. They had done very little since they came, and seemed, indeed, so little disposed to work, that the actual loss we suffered by their departure was not great; but still they were the class and sort of men most wanted, and I felt very angry at their proceedings. I refused to take any part in them; but they found favour with Colonel Stanhope, and he acceded to their requests.

I was obliged to represent the business to Lord Byron, and the men received sixty pounds, or two hundred and eighty-seven dollars; independent of forty-two dollars it cost to procure them a passage to Zante. They received bills for the sum, which were converted into cash at that island. It may be worth while here to
mention, as probably some of my readers subscribed for the support of the Greek cause, and may therefore like to know in what manner their money was expended, that these six mechanics received from the committee, for themselves, their wives, and families, the sum of two hundred and fifty-six pounds ten shillings, independent of the sum paid for their passage home, and other charges, making the whole expense, at least, equal to three hundred and forty pounds. They had never been called on to spend one penny on account of provisions and lodgings, from the day they left England, till their arrival at Missolonghi; and they were permitted to carry out small ventures, without any charge for freight. One of them, also, a protégé of
Colonel Stanhope’s, had carried out a number of tracts, and in addition to his avocations as a mechanic, was charged by the Missionary Society, at a salary of twenty pounds, to spread a knowledge of true religion, or of Wesleyism, among the heathen Turks and the heretical Greeks. He was one of the foremost to retreat from danger, but he managed to pick up a little something by his piety, to comfort him in his retreat. The services they rendered to the cause of Greece for this three hundred and forty pounds, were fourteen days’ work at Missolonghi, so that every day’s work of each of these
artisans, and it was not much they did in a day, was purchased by the Greek committee for the sum of something more than four pounds one shilling. There may have been wisdom in such management, but it appears to me to have been a mode of expending money which no individual would have followed with his own funds.