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

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.



Of the Greek Committee—Mr. Blaquiere—Honorary Secretary Bowring—Colonel Stanhope—Mr. Gordon—Subjects for Don Juan—Opinion of Missolonghi—Sir Francis Burdett—Patriotic Committees—Mr. Bentham’s Cruise—Author’s Introduction to him—His breakfast and dinner hour—Source of a mistake—Adventures with him—Byron a Carbonaro—A reverend opponent of Lord Byron—His detestation of hypocrites—Favourable opinion of mechanics—Mode of welcoming him at Anatolica—His opinions on religion—Or forms of government—The United States of America—Belief in ghosts and presentiments—Anecdote of the late Queen—His opinion of marriage—Of Lord Byron—Mr. Southey—Sir Walter Scott—Mr. Cooke the actor.

J. G. Lockhart, “Last Days of Lord Byron”

In the present chapter, I shall set down what I recollect of Lord Byron’s opinions, as to his coadjutors, the Greek committee, of Sir Francis Burdett, of Mr. Bentham, and of some other persons and things.

The Greek committee have a great plenty of defenders, and may well despise one voice lifted up against them. Among them, there are poets, orators, and authors. The press seems listed in their service, and they will scarcely regard one feeble note of dispraise. The voice that might, if energetically raised, have carried fear
and contrition to their hearts, lies hushed in death, and I can only echo some of its faintest tones.

In discussing the merits of Mr. Gordon’s offer, which was rather a favourite topic of Lord Byron’s conversation, he asked, which I of course could not answer, though the committee may,—Had circulars been sent to the different noblemen, and gentlemen who had subscribed? Had they been informed of that offer, and told, that the committee, for want of a little increase of means, could not accept it. This was an affair, he said, he would like to sift to the bottom. “I conceive,” he added, “that I have been already grossly ill-treated by the committee. In Italy, Mr. Blaquiere, their agent, informed me that every requisite supply would be forwarded with all dispatch. I was disposed to come to Greece, but I hastened my departure, in consequence of earnest solicitations. No time was to be lost, I was told, and Mr. Blaquiere instead of waiting on me, at his return from Greece, left a paltry note, which gave me no information whatever. If I ever meet with him, I shall not fail to mention my surprise at his conduct; but it has been all of a piece. I wish the acting committee had had some of the trouble which has fallen on me, since my arrival here; they would have been more prompt in their proceedings, and would have
known better what the country stood in need of. They would not have delayed the supplies a day, and they would not have sent out German officers, poor fellows, to starve at Missolonghi, but for my assistance. I am a plain man, and cannot comprehend the use of printing presses to a people who do not read. Here, the committee have sent supplies of maps, I suppose, that I may teach the young mountaineers geography. Here are bugle-horns, without bugle-men, and it is a chance if we can find any body in Greece to blow them. Books are sent to a people who want guns; they ask for a sword, and the Committee give them the lever of a printing press. Heavens! one would think the Committee meant to inculcate patience and submission, and to condemn resistance. Some materials for constructing fortifications they have sent, but they have chosen their people so ill, that the work is deserted, and not one para have they sent to procure other labourers.

John Bowring, 1827

“Their secretary, Mr. Bowring, was disposed I believe, to claim the privileges of an acquaintance with me. He wrote me a long letter, about the classic land of freedom, the birth-place of the arts, the cradle of genius, the habitation of the gods, the heaven of poets, and a great many such fine things. I was obliged to answer him, and I scrawled some nonsense in reply to his
nonsense; but I fancy I shall get no more such epistles. When I came to the conclusion of the poetry part of my letter, I wrote, ‘so much for blarney, now for business.’ I have not since heard in the same strain from Mr. Bowring.

“Here too is the chief agent of the Committee, Colonel Stanhope, organizing the whole country. He leaves nothing untouched, from the general government, to the schools for children. He has a plan for organizing the military force, for establishing posts, for regulating the administration of justice, for making Mr. Bentham the apostle of the Greeks, and for whipping little boys, in the newest and most approved mode. He is for doing all this, without a reference to any body, or any thing; complains bitterly of a want of practical statesmen in Greece, and would be glad I believe, to import a large supply of Mr. Bentham’s books, and scholars. Mavrocordato he openly beards, as if the Prince knew nothing of Greece, and was quite incapable of forming a correct opinion of its interests. At the same time, he has no funds to carry all his projects into execution. He is a mere schemer and talker, more of a saint than a soldier; and with a great deal of pretended plainness, a mere politician, and no patriot.

“His printer and publisher, Dr. Meyler, is a German adventurer, who is quite in a rage with the quakers, for sending medicines to Greece. He
knows nothing of either the Greek or the English language; and if he did, who would buy his paper? The Greeks have no money, and will not read newspapers for ages to come. There is no communication with different parts of the country; there is no means of receiving any news; and no means of sending it, when got.
Stanhope begins at the wrong end, and from observing that, in our wealthy and civilized country, rapid communication is one means of improvement, he wants to establish posts—mail-carts, I believe is his object, among a people who have no food. Communication, though a cause of increased wealth and increased civilization, is the result of a certain degree of both; and he would have it without the means. He is like all political jobbers, who mistake the accessories of civilization for its cause; they think if they only hoist the colours of freedom, they will immediately transform a crazy water-logged bark into a proud man-of-war. Stanhope, I believe, wants discussion in Greece—pure abstract discussion; as if he were ignorant, that in a country where there are one hundred times as many readers, proportionably, as in Greece, where the people have been readers of newspapers for a century, and read them every day, they care nothing about his favourite discussion, and will not listen either to Mr. Bentham’s, or any other person’s
logic. I have subscribed to his paper, to get rid of Stanhope’s importunities, and it may be, keep
Gamba out of mischief*; at any rate he can mar nothing of less importance.

“I thought Colonel Stanhope, being a soldier, would have shewn himself differently. He ought to know what a nation like Greece needs for its defence, and being on the acting committee, he should have told them that arms, and the materials for carrying on war, were what the Greeks required. The country once cleared of the enemy, the land would be cultivated, commerce would increase, and if a good government were established, knowledge and improvement of every kind, even including a multitude of journals, would speedily follow. But Stanhope, I repeat, is beginning at the wrong end, and expects by introducing some of the signs of wealth and knowledge, to make the people rich and intelligent. He might as well expect to give them the opulence of London, by establishing a Long’s Hotel in this swamp; or to make the women adopt

* Lord Byron had a curious opinion of this young nobleman, which I must mention to explain this passage; he thought him destined to he unfortunate, and that he was one of those persons with whom every thing goes wrong. According to Lord Byron’s view, he could not encourage him to engage in any thing, ruining which would be so little prejudicial as the newspaper.

all our fashions, by setting up a man milliner’s shop.

Gordon was a much wiser and more practical man than Stanhope. Stanhope has brought with him Nabob airs from Hindostan; and while he cajoles the people, wishes to govern them. He would be delighted, could he become administrator of the revenue, or resident at the court of the Greek republic. Gordon has been in Greece, and expended a large sum of money here. He bought his experience, and knows the country. His plan was the one to have acted on; but his noble offer seems so far to have surpassed the notions and expectations of the Committee, that it staggered them. They had done nothing like it, and could not credit this generosity and enthusiasm in another. All their deeds have been only talk and foolery. Had their whole property been at stake in Greece, they would have shewn more zeal. Mr. Gordon’s offer would have been promptly acceded to; we should have had by this time, an army regularly organized of three thousand men, Lepanto would have been taken, and Greece secured. Well, well, I’ll have my revenge: talk of subjects for Don Juan, this Greek business, its disasters and mismanagement, have furnished me with matter for a hundred cantos. Jeremy Bentham and his scholar, Colonel Stanhope, shall be two of my heroes.


“I do not intend to write till next winter; then I may possibly finish another Canto. There will be both comedy and tragedy; my good countrymen supply the former, and Greece the latter. In one week, I have been in a fit: the troops mutined—a Turkish brig burned—Sass killed—an earthquake—thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain—such a week I never witnessed. I shall tire them all with Juan’s pranks.

“My situation here,” he was accustomed to say, “is unbearable. A town without any resources, and a government without money; imprisoned by the floods, unable to take any exercise, pestered by demands, without the means of satisfying them or doing any thing either to relieve them, or myself, I must have left this hole, had you not arrived. I may now do something. Missolonghi and Anatolica are the keys of Western Greece, and protect the Morea on the side of Albania. If Mr. Gordon’s offer had been acted on, as it ought to have been, you would have been here four months sooner. His exertions and mine would have effected every thing, would have restored union here, and have encouraged the friends of Greece at home. But instead of an efficient expedition, there came out a few English and German adventurers, a few stores, and musical instruments.”

This subject always excited a considerable de-
gree of irritation in his mind, and getting up, he stamped with his foot, shewing how much he was vexed.

Sir Francis Burdett,” he said, “I am sure, can know nothing of what is going on. I shall always respect Sir Francis; I am told he does not trouble himself so much as formerly about politics. I am glad of it; it has cost him enormous sums of money, and he has experienced ingratitude enough, to teach him to be quiet. He is the firm friend of liberty, on constitutional principles, and is highly respected by the first men of England, belonging to both parties. He is one of the old school, and a man I shall always esteem and honour. You’ll never find him, or such men as he is, stepping into the office of chairman, auditor, or cashier, by means of petty contributions. He does not provide for his family and dependents by thrusting them into offices, while he covers his attacks on the public purse by the cloak of patriotism. Men who do this are the worst of hypocrites, the most cursed race in existence. I know them well, and know what stuff your committees, and such patriotic bodies, are made of. Honorary secretaries, bankers to the cause they pretend to serve. They should call themselves pecuniary, and then terms would have their proper meaning.”

J. G. Lockhart, “Last Days of Lord Byron”

Lord Byron asked me, in the course of my con-
versations, did I know
Mr. Bentham? I said I had seen him previously to my leaving England, that he had invited me to dine with him, and had been with me to see the preparations for the expedition. He had behaved very civilly to me, I said, but I thought him a little flighty. Lord Byron eagerly asked me in what way, and I told him. At hearing my account, his Lordship laughed most immoderately, and made me repeat it over and over again. He declared, when he had fished out every little circumstance, he would not have lost it for a thousand guineas. I shall here relate this little occurrence, not out of any disrespect to Mr. Bentham, but because he is a great man, and the world are very fond of hearing of great men. Moreover, Lord Byron has been somewhat censured, chiefly, I think, for not having a most profound respect for Mr. Bentham; and the following little story goes at least to prove, that some of this philosopher’s peculiarities might very naturally excite the laughter of the poet. Mr. Bentham is said also to have a great wish for celebrity, and he will not therefore be displeased, by my sounding another note to his fame, which may, perchance, convey it where it has not yet reached.

Shortly before I left London for Greece, Mr. Bowring, the honorary secretary to the Greek committee informed me, that Mr. Jeremy Ben-
tham wished to see the stores and materials, preparing for the Greeks, and that he had done me the honour of asking me to breakfast with him some day, that I might afterwards conduct him to see the guns, &c.

“Who the devil is Mr. Bentham?” was my rough reply, “I never heard of him before.” Many of my readers may still be in the same state of ignorance, and it will be acceptable to them, I hope, to hear of the philosopher.

Mr. Bentham,” said Mr. Bowring, “is one of the greatest men of the age, and for the honour now offered to you, I waited impatiently many a long day; I believe for more than two years.”

“Great or little, I never heard of him before; but if he wants to see me, why I’ll go.”

It was accordingly arranged, that I should visit Mr. Bentham, and that Mr. Bowring should see him to fix the time, and then inform me. In a day or two afterwards, I received a note from the honorary secretary, to say I was to breakfast with Mr. Bentham on Saturday. It happened that I lived at a distance from town, and having heard something of the primitive manner of living, and early hours of philosophers, I arranged with my wife over-night, that I would get up very early on the Saturday morning, that I might not keep Mr. Bentham waiting. Accordingly, I rose with the dawn, dressed myself in haste, and brushed off for
Queen’s-square, Westminster, as hard as my legs could carry me. On reaching the Strand, fearing I might be late, being rather corpulent, and not being willing to go into the presence of so very great a man, as I understood Mr. Jeremy Bentham to be, puffing and blowing, I took a hackney coach, and drove up to his door about eight o’clock. I found a servant girl a-foot, and told her I came to breakfast with Mr. Bentham by appointment.

She ushered me in, and introduced me to two young men, who looked no more like philosophers, however, than my own children. I thought they might be Mr. Bentham’s sons, but this I understood was a mistake. I shewed them the note I had received from Mr. Bowring, and they told me Mr. Bentham did not breakfast till three o’clock. This surprised me much, but they told me I might breakfast with them, which I did, though I was not much flattered by the honour of setting down with Mr. Bentham’s clerks, when I was invited by their master. Poor Mr. Bowring, thought I, he must be a meek spirited young man if it was for this he waited so impatiently.

I supposed the philosopher himself did not get up till noon, as he did not breakfast till so late, but in this I was also mistaken. About ten o’clock I was summoned to his presence, and mustered up all my courage, and all my ideas for the meeting. His appearance struck me forcibly.
His white thin locks cut straight in the fashion of the quakers, and hanging or rather floating on his shoulders; his garments something of their colour and cut, and his frame rather square and muscular, with no exuberance of flesh, made up a singular looking and not an inelegant old man. He welcomed me with a few hurried words, but without any ceremony, and then conducted me into several rooms to shew me his ammunition and materials of war. One very large room was nearly filled with books; and another with unbound works, which, I understood, were the philosopher’s own composition. The former he said furnished him his supplies; and there was a great deal of labour required to read so many volumes.

I said inadvertently, “I suppose you have quite forgotten what is said in the first before you read the last.” Mr. Bentham however took this in good part, and taking hold of my arm, said we would proceed on our journey. Accordingly off we set, accompanied by one of his young men carrying a portfolio, to keep, I suppose, a log of our proceedings.

We went through a small garden, and passing out of a gate, I found we were in Saint James’s Park. Here I noticed that Mr. Bentham had a very snug dwelling, with many accommodations, and such a garden as belongs in London only to the first nobility. But for his neighbours, I thought, for he has a barrack of soldiers on one side
of his premises, I should envy him his garden more than his great reputation. On looking at him, I could but admire his hale and even venerable appearance. I understood he was seventy-three years of age, and therefore I concluded we should have a quiet comfortable walk. Very much to my surprise, however, we had scarcely got into the Park, when he let go my arm, and set off trotting like a Highland messenger. The Park was crowded, and the people, one and all, seemed to stare at the old man; but heedless of all this he trotted on, his white locks floating in the wind, as if he were not seen by a single human being.

As soon as I could recover from my surprise, I asked the young man, “Is Mr. Bentham flighty,” pointing to my head. “Oh no, it’s his way,” was the hurried answer, “he thinks it good for his health, but I must run after him,” and offset the youth in chace of the philosopher. I must not lose my companions, thought I, and off I set also. Of course the eyes of every human being in the Park were fixed on the running veteran and his pursuers. There was Jerry a-head, then came his clerk and his portfolio, and I being a heavier sailer than either, was bringing up the rear.

What the people might think, I don’t know, but it seemed to me a very strange scene, and I was not much delighted at being made such an object
of attraction.
Mr. Bentham’s activity surprised me, and I never overtook him or came near him till we reached the Horse Guards, where his speed was checked by the Blues drawn up in array. Here we threaded in amongst horses and men till we escaped at the other gate into Whitehall. I now thought the crowded streets would prevent any more racing; but several times he escaped from us, and trotted off, compelling us to trot after him till we reached Mr. Galloway’s manufactory in Smithfield. Here he exulted in his activity, and inquired particularly if I had ever seen a man at his time of life so active. I could not possibly answer, no, while I was almost breathless with the exertion of following him through the crowded streets.

After seeing at Mr. Galloway’s manufactory, not only the things which had been prepared for the Greeks, but his other engines and machines, we proceeded to another manufactory at the foot of Southwark bridge, where our brigade of guns stood ready mounted. When Mr. Bentham had satisfied his curiosity here also, and I had given him every information in my power, we set off to return to his house, that he might breakfast; I endeavoured to persuade him to take a hackney-coach, but in vain. We got on tolerably well, and without any adventures, tragical or comical, till we arrived at Fleet-street. We crossed from
Fleet Market over towards
Mr. Waithman’s shop, and here, letting go my arm, he quitted the foot pavement, and set off again in one of his vagaries up Fleet-street. His clerk again set off after him, and I again followed. The race here excited universal attention. The perambulating ladies, who are always in great numbers about that part of the town, and ready to laugh at any kind of oddity, and catch hold of every simpleton, stood and stared at or followed the venerable philosopher. One of them, well known to all the neighbourhood, by the appellation of the City barge, given to her on account of her extraordinary bulk, was coming with a consort full sail down Fleet-street, but whenever they saw the flight of Mr. Jeremy Bentham, they hove too, tacked, and followed to witness the fun or share the prize. I was heartily ashamed of participating in this scene, and supposed that every body would take me for a mad doctor, the young man for my assistant, and Mr. Bentham for my patient, just broke adrift from his keepers.

Fortunately the chase did not continue long. Mr. Bentham hove too abreast of Carlisle’s shop, and stood for a little time to admire the books and portraits hanging in the window. At length one of them arrested his attention more particularly. “Ah, ah,” said he, in a hurried indistinct tone, “there it is, there it is,” pointing to a portrait
which I afterwards found was that of the illustrious Jeremy himself.

Soon after this, I invented an excuse to quit Mr. Bentham and his man, promising to go to Queen-square to dine. I was not, however, to be again taken in by the philosopher’s meal hours; so, laying in a stock of provisions, I went at his dining hour, half-past ten o’clock, and supped with him. We had a great deal of conversation, particularly about mechanical subjects, and the art of war. I found the old gentleman as lively with his tongue as with his feet, and passed a very pleasant evening; which ended by my pointing out, at his request, a plan for playing his organ by the steam of his tea-kettle. This little history gave Lord Byron a great deal of pleasure; he very often laughed as I told it; he laughed much at its conclusion, and he frequently bade me repeat what he called Jerry Bentham’s Cruise.

In the course of the conversation at Mr. Bentham’s, he enquired of me if I had ever visited America in my travels?—I said, Yes, I had resided there for some time.—Have you read Miss Wright’s book on that country?—Yes.—What do you think of it; does it give a good description of America? Here I committed another fault. “She knows no more of America,” I replied, “than a cow does of a case of instruments,” Such a reply was a com-
plete damper to Mr. Bentham’s eloquence on the subject. No two men could well be more opposed to each other than we were, and our whole conversation consisted in this sort of cross-firing. Opposition appeared to be something Mr. Bentham was not accustomed to, and my blunt manner gave it still more the zest of novelty. He laughed and rambled to some other subject, to get another such a damper. In my talk there was much want of knowledge and of tact. No man, acquainted with party feelings, or with that sort of minor literary history, which is so much the topic of conversation, I am told, among literary people, could have been guilty of my blunder. He would have known that Miss Wright spoke what Mr. Jeremy Bentham and his friends wished to be true, and that she was in an especial manner a favourite of his. It was not till I was informed of these things, by Lord Byron I believe, that I discovered how very rude I had been, and how much reason Mr. Bentham would have to find fault with my want of manners.

“What do they say of my politics in England?” was a question Lord Byron put to me. “I hear they call me a Carbonaro. I am one. Italy required an alteration in her government, The people were happier and more secure under Napoleon than under the Austrians; and I blame them, not for their attempt, but their failure. They don’t hate the Austrians half as much as they
deserve, and if they did hate them more they would sweep these intruders from their country. In wishing Italy to be free, and the Italians to be united, I am a Carbonaro.

“Persons represent me as a leveller and an infidel, I am neither; and those who vilify me should take care of themselves. I shall not forget them; and I hear that a reverend gentleman, who was accustomed to deal out philippics against me, has got into a worse scrape than ever I did. He was very violent in his declamation, and must have been a detestable hypocrite. Hypocrisy is of all crimes the worst. No man has suffered more than I have from deception, particularly during the unfortunate and unpleasant occurrence with Lady Byron. —— was supposed to be a man of the very highest integrity; he deceived me at the moment; I placed the greatest confidence in him; but he is dead, and my resentment does not go beyond the grave. I find consolation now in reflecting on such matters; for my conduct has been like the arrow’s flight, compared to their sinuous serpent-like track.”

After my acquaintance with Lord Byron, he took a great interest in all that concerned the welfare of the working classes, and particularly of the artisans.

“I have lately read,” he said on one occasion, “of an institution recently established in London for the instruction of mechanics. I highly approve
of this, and intend to subscribe 50l. to it, but I shall accompany the order for the money with a letter giving my opinion on the subject. I am always apprehensive schemes of this description are intended to dupe people, and unless all the offices in such an institution are filled with real practical mechanics, the working classes will soon find themselves deceived. If they permit any but mechanics to have the direction of their affairs, they will only become the tools of others. The real working man will soon be ousted, and his more cunning pretended friends will take possession and reap all the benefits. It gives me pleasure to think what a mass of natural intellect this will call into action; if the plan succeed, and I firmly hope it may, the ancient aristocracy of England will be secure for ages to come. The most useful and numerous body of people in the nation will then judge for themselves, and when properly informed will judge correctly. There is not on earth a more honourable body of men than the English nobility, and there is no system of government under which life and property are better secured than under the British constitution.

“The mechanics and working classes who can maintain their families, are in my opinion the happiest body of men. Poverty is wretchedness; but it is perhaps to be preferred to the heartless unmeaning dissipation of the higher
orders. I am thankful I am now entirely clear of this, and my resolution to remain clear of it for the rest of my life shall be immutable.

“The Greeks on the continent,” said Lord Byron, “follow the Turkish custom in welcoming strangers, and when I arrived at Anatolica, they fired their carbines with ball so close to my head, that I thought there was no possibility of escaping. I expected to be shot, and though I laughed heartily, was a little frightened at first. I was delighted however with the people, they themselves seemed so delighted. Anatolica is an unhealthy swamp, like Missolonghi. Greece, generally, is like every half-cleared, half-cultivated country, not very healthy. To remain in such places as Missolonghi or Anatolica during the summer is almost certain death. When the campaign opens in May, we will take to the mountains; there we shall enjoy freedom and escape disease.”

This is what Lord Byron frequently said to me on the subject of religion:—

“I have both been annoyed and amused by numerous attacks on my religious opinions, and with the conversations about them. It is really astonishing how these Religionists persecute. No situation in life secures a man from their importunities. Under a pretence of being greatly apprehensive for our eternal welfare, if we do not follow their dictum, they persecute us in every
way possible. True religion teaches man humility, charity, kindness, and every good act. Professing religion is now become quite a trade. Thousands sally forth to escape from labour, without the least claim either by education, character, or station in society, and assume the character of teachers. They embrace different opinions, and are continually bellowing damnation against each other. All join to crush liberal sentiments; they have sworn a bond against that charity which thinketh no evil; and they will remain in this disposition until the bulk of mankind think for themselves. As long as they are so ignorant as to be credulous, there will always be impostors to profit by their credulity. It would fill a volume to record the manner in which I have been attacked. I am sure that no man reads the Bible with more pleasure than I do; I read a chapter every day, and in a short time shall be able to beat the Canters with their own weapons. Most of them are like the Catholics, who place the Virgin Mary before Christ, and Christ before God; only they have substituted the
Apostle Paul for the Virgin, and they place him above Jesus, and Jesus above the Almighty.

“Clergymen ought to possess a perfect knowledge of astronomy; no science expands the mind so much; it does away with narrow ideas. A moral character is requisite in clergymen above all
other men, and if they cannot give that comfort they pretend to have a wish to give, they have at least no right to impress on the mind of their followers such damning anathemas. This is cruel, wicked, and unjust—man cannot progress beyond his ideas, as they enlarge, he becomes more liberal and less persecuting. All men believe in the great first cause, which we call Almighty God. Love of life is fear of death, or of annihilation, and therefore we hope to enjoy eternal life. The liberal principles of Christianity, what Christ taught,—mind, I say what Christ taught,—I have no doubt would be conducive to the happiness of the world; but the system of ramming opinions down our throats does harm to the cause, which the fanatical preachers endeavour to support.*

* In support of what is said in the text, I subjoin here an extract from a letter written to me by Mr. Kennedy, the gentleman who has been so much spoken of from his religious discussion with Lord Byron:—

“During his (Lord Byron’s) residence in Cephalonia, I had many long and interesting conversations with his Lordship on religion; and although I was not successful in bringing over his Lordship to those views of religion which I believe to be just, yet I conceive that the publication of our conversations will be favourably received by the public, who will naturally be pleased to know what such a celebrated man said of religion, and what was said to him on that subject. The object of my work will be to present a true and faithful picture of his Lordship, as far as I saw it myself, or others saw it, on whose authority I can safely rely. It will prove that his Lordship, if not


“While at Cephalonia, a gentleman of the name of Kennedy was introduced to me; I have a respect for him, and believe him sincere in his professions. He endeavoured to convince me that his ideas of religion were correct. At that time my mind was taken up with many other matters, particularly with Greece. I like to be civil and to give answers to questions which are put to me, although it is not pleasant to be questioned, particularly on abstruse subjects. They require a depth of thought, and such men as I am think deeply. Our minds are filled with ten thousand ideas. I answered Mr. Kennedy, therefore, though without any intention of converting him or allowing myself to be converted. I believe even then, though unprepared, I had very often the best of the argument, and now I am sure I could defeat him. He was not a skilful disputant.

“Even Greece is not to be clear of strife, as respects her religious institutions. I hear that Missionaries are to be introduced before the country is cleared of the enemy, and religious disputes are to be added to the other sources of

a real Christian, was not a confirmed infidel; that he wished to believe in the truth of Christianity if he could; that he was not happy in the unsettled opinions which he had respecting religion; and that latterly he studied the subject more than he was accustomed to do. It is perhaps necessary to inform you that I am a member of the Church of Scotland, the fundamental articles of belief of which, are precisely the same as those contained in the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.”

discord. How very improper are such proceedings—nothing could be more impolitic; it will cause ill blood throughout the country, and very possibly be the means of again bringing Greece under the Turkish yoke. Can it be supposed that the Greek Priesthood, who have great influence and even power, will tamely submit to see interested self-opinionated foreigners interfere with their flocks? I say again, clear the country, and teach the people, I mean the labouring people, to read and write, and they will judge for themselves.*” Look at Anatolica, what a beneficial effect was produced there by the fall of a shell fired from the Turkish camp; the shell fell into the Church, and struck a pipe (some depth under the surface) of an ancient aqueduct, entirely unknown to the inhabitants. The Priests took a proper advantage of this to stimulate the Greeks to further resistance; it acted like an electrical shock; the supply of water relieved their wants, and the Priests ascribed it to

* Colonel Stanhope was one of the persons who seemed most anxious to introduce Missionaries into Greece. One of the persons whom he expressly invited had any thing but a good character. It is not for me to give currency to all the scandalous reports which were in circulation, and therefore I shall be silent. Missionaries, however, are men, and their trifling backslidings, suffering the spirit to be subdued by the flesh, would really be very excusable, were it not that they condemn themselves by their exhortations to others, and by falling so very short of the hypocritical model they hold up to public approbation.

the immediate intervention of the Almighty, and to the purity of the Greek Church. But if Schism had been introduced among the people, every effort of this kind would have been paralysed.”

With all Lord Byron’s aristocratical prejudices, and it would be the extreme of folly to attribute to him any attachment to democracy, such as it has shewn itself in modern times, he was by no means insensible to all the advantages of liberal institutions. His hatred, however, of any particular form of government, arose not from any deduction of reasoning, but from some palpable evidence of injustice, cruelty, and oppression. His opinions were the results of his feelings, and were what rigid logicians call prejudices. They were formed, as I have often heard him say, though my expressions fall short of his vigorous language, from what he had seen and felt, and not from any theory. He knew, as every man knows, of the astonishing increase and prosperity of the United States of America, and without being able, like Colonel Stanhope, to expatiate at large on the theory of this prosperity, out of his love to human-kind, he loved the government which, undisturbed by jealousy, allowed its subjects to be free and happy.

“I wish well,” he used to say, “to the United States of America: the government of that country is suitable to the people. The Americans profit very much by the emigration of artisans and me-
chanics, who carry with them, ready formed, that skill it has cost England vast sums of money to bring to perfection. They are children, who profit by the knowledge of their parents, but who are at the same time the victims of their prejudices. They have a fresh country to work on, and the civilization and knowledge of Europe to work with. They have carried with them, however, some of the worst vices of European society, and they have been heightened in the Southern States by a voluptuous climate, and by the facility the people once had of procuring slaves. Though I think the government of America good, because it is the government of the whole people, and adapted to their views, I have no love for America. It is not a country I should like to visit. The Americans, they say, are great egotists. I suppose ail the people of young countries are so. Man must have something to be vain of, and when he has no ancestors in whose fame he may exult, h« must talk and boast of himself. If we had as much communication with the natives of Owhyhee, or with the Indians of the Continent of America, as we have with the inhabitants of the United States, and if we understood their language, we should find them as vain-glorious as the Americans. An Englishman does not boast of himself, because he can always boast of his country. For this he is called a patriot; but if he were to praise himself as much as he praises
his institutions, he would be called an ass. He indulges his vanity, and gets credit for patriotism. Since it is found that the American government works well, in the political slang of the day, the Americans begin to boast of it. In a few years more, when they have produced a score or two of such men as
Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, when they can talk with pride of the antiquity of their institutions; when they can exult, perhaps, in some hundred victories, like that of New Orleans, selfishness and egotism will change their meaning, and be merged into a love of their country.

“On this account I have always thought the mode in which the Americans separated from Great Britain unfortunate for them. It made them despise or reject every thing English. They disinherited themselves of all the historical glory of England; there was nothing left for them to admire or venerate but their own immediate success, and they became egotists, like savages, from wanting a history. The spirit of jealousy and animosity, excited by the contests between England and America, is now subsiding. Should peace continue, prejudices on both sides will gradually decrease. Already the Americans are beginning, I think, to cultivate the antiquities of England, and as they extend their inquiries, they will find other objects of admiration besides themselves. It was of some importance, both for them and for us, that they did not reject
our language with our government. Time, I should hope, would approximate the institutions of both countries to one another; and the use of the same language will do more to unite the two nations than if they both had only one king.

“I would not answer, indeed, for the continuance of the present system of government in America, should that country be involved in long and expensive wars. In any season of distress, the free and slave states will separate. Freedom and slavery cannot dwell under the same roof; to bind them together force is necessary, and nothing but an arbitrary master over both can keep them united.”

Lord Byron had some superstitions clinging to him. He believed in presentiments, fatal and fortunate days, and in ghosts. On setting out from Italy for Greece, a storm drove the vessel back; a circumstance which has occurred on numerous occasions, when the voyage has been afterwards happily accomplished, and followed by no disastrous results; but Lord Byron, though he is said to have quoted the proverb, that a bad beginning makes a good ending, was made melancholy by a foul wind. This circumstance was often mentioned among his friends at Missolonghi. On rallying Lord Byron on this subject, and observing that I thought it was very strange a man of his strength of mind should entertain such a vulgar belief as that of the existence of ghosts, he smiled, and re-
plied, “I have from my childhood endeavoured to impress a belief of supernatural causes on my mind. I cannot say why I had such a propensity, nor why it continued so long, but I derive great pleasure from the idea; even now, I actually believe such things may be.” At this he sighed deeply, and said, “I have had wonderful presentiments in my time. Hardly any unfortunate circumstance has ever happened to me, of which I have not had some forerunning warning. We can’t help these things, and can no more account for the existence of one sentiment than for another. I know not why, but I have a particular aversion either to begin or conclude any work on a Friday.” His opinion concerning
Count Gamba was another little superstition of Lord Byron’s. He was very partial to the Count, without placing much confidence in him, because he had got a notion that the Count was an unfortunate man, and that whatever he undertook would fail. I was particularly enjoined by Lord Byron never to allow the Count to undertake any piece of public service without first acquainting his Lordship with it, and obtaining his approbation. He always expected that the Count would get himself and others into scrapes; whether the Count had or had not ever given Lord Byron any reason to form such an opinion, before I was acquainted with them, I know not; but I never saw any thing to justify
it. I believe it was one of those prejudices or presentiments Lord Byron liked to indulge, or at least which he never made any effort to control or subdue.

Before my acquaintance with Lord Byron, I had no idea I should have found him of so very serious a turn. I mentioned to him my surprise at finding him so different from what I had expected. At this he laughed, and said, “Chicanery is the order of the day; and I always endeavour to converse so as to be agreeable to my visitors. They speak of me as they find me, and as I talk nonsense to them, because it suits them, I have got the reputation of being a romancer. After all, however, I feel relief in talking what you call nonsense to my visitors. I know the world, perhaps, better than you give me credit for, and I am obliged sometimes to endeavour to please a part of it. But who are these persons who call me a trifler? My visitors have been poets, painters, punsters, travellers; all would-be great personages, all triflers themselves, without any pursuit but amusement. They have found me ready to meet them in talking nonsense, because they liked it, but naturally I am of a serious disposition. I love solitude. When I was in Greece before, unpleasant things were said of me, because I mingled so little with other persons; Mr. Hobhouse was indeed with me, but we did not agree very well, and were not always to-
gether; I have known him a long time, and respect him much, but his disposition and mine were not always alike.”

There may be some persons able to explain the circumstance I shall now relate; but it seems to have no other interest than to excite conjectures as to its cause. “I was once,” said Lord Byron, “in company with the late Queen Caroline; I was sitting on her right hand, and another young nobleman was sitting on her left. All of a sudden she burst into tears, and I never could divine the cause. There is no accounting for women’s tears. She might have been thinking of her situation, and the neglect and injuries she had experienced might all at once have rushed into her mind. She was an unhappy woman, and much to be pitied, particularly in her latter days, when she was made the tool of a party.

“There are so many undefinable, and nameless, and not-to-be named causes of dislike, aversion, and disgust, in the matrimonial state, that it is always impossible for the public, or the best friends of the parties, to judge between man and wife. Their’s is a relation about which nobody but themselves can form a correct idea, or have any right to speak. As long as neither party commits gross injustice towards the other; as long as neither the woman nor the man is guilty of any offence which is injurious to the community; as long as the husband provides for his offspring, and secures the pub-
lic against the dangers arising from their neglected education, or from the charge of supporting them; by what right does it censure him for ceasing to dwell under the same roof with a woman, who is to him, because he knows her, while others do not, an object of loathing? Can any thing be more monstrous than for the public voice to compel individuals who dislike each other to continue their cohabitation? This is at least the effect of its interfering with a relationship, of which it has no possible means of judging. It does not indeed drag a man to a woman’s bed by physical force; but it does exert a moral force continually and effectively to accomplish the same purpose. Nobody can escape this force but those who are too high, or those who are too low, for public opinion to reach; or those hypocrites, who are, before others, the loudest in their approbation of the empty and unmeaning forms of society, that they may securely indulge all their propensities in secret. I have suffered amazingly from this interference; for though I set it at defiance, I was neither too high nor too low to be reached by it, and I was not hypocrite enough to guard myself from its consequences.

“What do they say of my family affairs in England, Parry? My story, I suppose, like other minor events, interested the people for a day, and was then forgotten?” I replied, no; I thought, owing to the very great interest the public took in him,
it was still remembered and talked about. I mentioned that it was generally supposed a difference of religious sentiments between him and
Lady Byron had caused the public breach. “No, Parry,” was the reply; “Lady Byron has a liberal mind, particularly as to religious opinions; and I wish, when I married her, that I had possessed the same command over myself that I now do. Had I possessed a little more wisdom, and more forbearance, we might have been happy. I wished, when I was first married, to have remained in the country, particularly till my pecuniary embarrassments were over. I knew the society of London; I knew the characters of many of those who are called ladies, with whom Lady Byron would necessarily have to associate, and I dreaded her contact with them; but I have too much of my mother about me to be dictated to; I like freedom from constraint; I hate artificial regulations; my conduct has always been dictated by my own feelings, and Lady Byron was quite the creature of rules. She was not permitted either to ride, or run, or walk, but as the physician prescribed. She was not suffered to go out when I wished to go; and then the old house was a mere ghost-house; I dreamed of ghosts, and thought of them waking. It was an existence I could not support.” Here Lord Byron broke off abruptly, saying, “I hate to speak of my family affairs; though I have been compelled to talk nonsense concerning them to some of my butterfly
visitors, glad on any terms to get rid of their importunities. I long to be again on the mountains. I am fond of solitude, and should never talk nonsense if I always found plain men to talk to.”

Lord Byron was subject to violent gusts of passion; but they were merely gusts, and I never saw him do any mischief while under their influence. I heard him make use of many threats, and I do not know, on one or two occasions, that he might not have carried them into execution, but for my interference. When very much annoyed, he would rise, stamp with his foot on the ground, and on one or two occasions he even threatened to have recourse to his pistols. This was not his natural state; and it was only when he was goaded, as I have already described, that he gave way to these ungovernable out-breakings.

He was very fond of making jokes, both practical and others, as they relieved his mind, he said, and took off his attention from unpleasant thoughts. He had the greatest stock of quaint sayings and phrases of any man I ever met with; of the different languages and terms used by soldiers, sailors, tradesmen, and other classes of men, or of what is called slang, he was quite a master. I knew a great number of such words from having been either a sailor or a soldier nearly all my life; but he knew as many as I did in my own profession, and a great many used in other professions, of which I knew nothing. Much of his conversa-
tion with me was carried on in sea-phrases, and he made me always use them. Even in telling him any little anecdotes I knew, or adventures which had happened to me, such as that of
Mr. Bentham’s cruise, he always insisted on my using none but sea terms, and probably he found greater pleasure in the circumstance than my readers may have found, from the manner in which he compelled me to state it.

Lord Byron was rather partial to questioning me about what books I read, and what books I liked to read, and if I read poetry. I used to reply, as the fact is, that I had very little time to read, and having no library, when I had time, I read what fell in my way; that I liked Shakspeare—Billy Shakspeare as I called him, whom none of the moderns were ever likely to equal. “However high,” said I, “your Lordship and others may come, you will never quite reach Billy.” “There you are quite right, old boy; but do you never read any modern book?” “Oh, yes;—I have read some of your works; Don Juan for example, and there is nothing in that which pleases people of my description so well, or of which I have heard so much, as the shipwreck; that is something we mechanics and the working classes understand. Just before I left England, too, I read a book that I liked very much; it was called Wat Tyler.” “That’s Southey’s,” said his Lordship, “it is the best
thing he ever wrote.” “But have you never read any of
Sir Walter Scott’s novels?” “No, my Lord, I have had something else to do.” “I have a great respect for Sir Walter, but I have read enough to know how much of his works are his own property, and how much he takes from others. No author is more successful in appropriation. We who live at this late period of the world are all plagiarists; I have been loudly accused of being one, but I am sure I never deserved it half as much as Sir Walter. For him, however, I have a high respect, and I shall never, I am sure, act otherwise towards him than in a friendly manner.” “Ah,” I replied, “I see you all shift a plank occasionally.” “Shift a plank; what do you mean?” “Why, leave the scantling and the moulding, and the form, and put in a piece of new or old stuff that was not intended for that place.” “This is too true,” said Lord Byron, laughing at my comparing plagiarism to the repairs of an old ship.

Lord Byron had an insatiable curiosity, and was always making inquiries. He made me tell him every little incident of my life, and this sometimes led him to make remarks which I recollect very well. When I was in Virginia, in America, for example, I remember having an adventure with some of the deserters from the British army in Canada. I do not choose to be more particular here, as it may implicate individuals; I shall merely observe that desertion and treachery had
found their proper rewards, and were left in beggary and want; but mentioning this circumstance, led
Lord Byron to make the following observation.

“Why did not the Americans take the Canadas?” “They would have done it,” I replied, “but, for the great loyalty of the Scotch and French Canadians. The Irish in Canada were not to be trusted; they never had patience to make many improvements, and the instant they had cleared the land, and could sell it, they did so, and went to the United States of America.

“The low Irish,” said Lord Byron, “are never to be trusted. Fortunately, however, they are like the rattle-snake, they give you warning before they bite; they always have a means of letting you know they mean to deceive you. I know Ireland produces many clever men; but the rabble are deceitful and cunning. In a century, perhaps, the Irish may approximate in their manners to the English, and then we shall hardly know any difference between the two people. In any great national contest, I would place the English in the centre, the Welsh on the right, and the Scotch on the left; the Irish I would place in the front, and then I am sure they would not deceive me; I should then have no fear of the result: but if they were mixed with the others, and a battle were to take place with some great foreign power, I should not know on what to calculate.”


I mentioned to Lord Byron that I had lodged at the same house in New York, in which the celebrated actor, Cooke, died; and that he lamented loudly his unhappy fate, in dying far away from his native land. “I knew Cooke very well,” said Lord Byron; “he was the greatest genius of an actor I ever saw. I think Kean is a great man, but Cooke was much his superior. He had very great natural talents, but they had never been properly cultivated. With half the education John Kemble had received, and half the care he took of himself, he would have been the very first actor of the day.”