LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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[William Bourne Oliver Peabody]
Lord Byron's Conversations on Religion.
North American Review  Vol. 36  No. 78  (January 1833)  152-188.
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JANUARY, 1833.

Art. VI.Lord Byron's Conversations on Religion.
Conversations on Religion with Lord Byron and others.
By the late James Kennedy, M. D. London. 1830.

In all our lives, whether as reviewers or as men, we do not remember to have read a more singular book than this. It contains the history of an attempt made by the writer to convert Lord Byron to Christianity, a change which was suffi-
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ciently necessary both to the happiness and reputation of the poet, whose mortal life and literary renown might both have lasted longer, had the endeavor been attended with success; but which was commenced and pursued in a manner, which showed that the writer relied less on human reasoning than supernatural power. It is of some little importance in such cases, to ascertain whether the infidel has ever considered the subject, or relies on merely general impressions unfavorable to the truth and importance of Christianity; whether the miraculous or prophetic evidence seems to him to be incredible or unsatisfactory; whether his incredulity is owing to any thing he has read in the Scriptures or anything he has seen in the conduct of Christians; in fact, it is necessary to know whether he is unbelieving, or simply indifferent, and to suit the approaches precisely to the nature of the case, before one can undertake such an enterprise with the most distant hope of success. Nothing of this kind seems to have occurred to the worthy doctor; relying upon the goodness of his cause, he disdained to use earthly arms. At first he was encouraged by the attention of his unpromising audience, who listened from pure respect for his kind intentions; but as his zeal grew warmer, the most resolute courtesy gave way, and he was obliged to console himself by writing a book, and reflecting that he had done his duty. The same goodness of purpose which gained him a hearing from them, will secure him from that derision in readers, which the grotesque manner in which he conducted his undertaking would be exceedingly apt to inspire.

We shall not enlarge upon the character and principles of Lord Byron. We have done it on former occasions, and our opinion has been confirmed by that verdict of public sentiment, which is always pronounced upon the dead. After making every allowance which his education, his position, his sudden elevation to rank, the dazzling blaze of his renown, all of them circumstances likely to affect the strongest heads and hearts,—seemed to demand from impartial writers, we came to the conclusion, that he was entirely destitute of what is called character,—that is, of all fixed principles of thought and action. He had no deliberate opinions; he had not even habits uniform in their operation; his judgments and feelings varied with the hour; and it is one of the wonders of his poetical power, that it could sustain itself in its flights upon its light and inconstant wing. A great poet he undoubtedly was, or rather was meant
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to be; for he was so capricious and inconstant in his application, so distracted with pleasures and the numberless vexations which they brought with them in the form of retributions, and so connected with associates who were sufficient to put to flight every thing like honorable ambition, that we cannot believe that the world ever knew what he might have accomplished, or what he might have been. Considering the early life of his noble patient, the Doctor might well have begun his good work by showing him what Christianity was, for many of Byron’s remarks make it evident that he did not know; but the physician, as if conscious that this was the very point on which he was least qualified to enlighten him, proceeded to reply to easy arguments which his patient had never heard of before, and with stern and solemn preparation, brought up his park of artillery to demolish a castle in the air. We need hardly say that the phlogistic practice was unsuccessful: the patient never recovered from the Doctor nor the disease. We do not know that the enterprise would have resulted more happily in different hands; but even the forlorn hope should be conducted in the manner which affords the best chances of success.

As we have said, a great proportion of those who have passed for infidels seem never to have known the religion which they condemned. We cannot say that if they had know it, they would have believed in its divine origin; for unbelief on this point is commonly regarded as the characteristic of the infidel; but certainly those who deliberated on the subject should have taken this into consideration before they made up their minds. They have united almost to a man in praising the actions and sentiments of the Author of our religion, without appearing to know that his life was Christianity,—Christianity in the living letter; it was the active and efficient religion which came to establish among men. They do not seem to be in the least aware that, when they admire his uniform excellence, his matchless wisdom, and his unexampled self-devotion, they are in fact bearing testimony in favor of the religion which he brought from above. They complain of Christianity that it is an enthusiastic religion, dealing in visions and raptures; at the same time they confess, that no being that ever existed was more entirely practical than he. They charge Christianity with regarding the feeling rather than the life, while they acknowledge that his feelings were manifested, not by
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words and professions, but by a persuasive and eloquent example. They reproach Christianity with frowning on harmless enjoyment, and thus throwing a cloud over the path of life, which is sad enough at the best; while they see that his life was the most entirely social that was ever led, and that the only ambition, the heart's desire of his life, was to make others happy. When they say that his religion is the cause of disunion among men, they admit that the first and last duty, which he enjoined with his living voice and his dying sigh, was that of union, forgiveness, and love. Since his life was Christianity, they cannot condemn the religion without condemning him; and, on the other hand, every word of praise given to his life and character, is an acknowledgment unconsciously made, of the truth, excellence, and glory of Christianity.

The principal objections made to Christianity by men like Byron, who of course never investigated the subject, though they are generally of an indefinite and floating character, seem to have been suggested to their minds by what they had seen or heard of the sentiments or practice of individual Christians. This process of generalizing is common on every subject; but is not resorted to by those, who are particularly earnest to reach the truth. The English traveller in this country encounters occasionally a coarse and vulgar man; he immediately determines in his own mind that such are the characters formed by free institutions, when possibly, by diligent search, he might have found some few such worthies in the most enslaved country on the globe. Would Byron have allowed that it would be a fair test of the value of poetry to read Amos Cottle, or accept the judgment of one, who, after having gone through that process, should decide that poetry was a weary and unprofitable art? When the French infidels made use of the practices of the Roman church in that day, and paraded her corrupt and superstitious practices as so many evidences against Christianity, they must have been conscious that they were acting an unworthy part; for these things, far from being the result of Christianity, were not even inseparable from the church in which they were found, which still exists and disavows these abuses and corruptions. The most signal instance of this unfairness is seen in Gibbon, who has set down with singular minuteness all the vices and follies of the Christians of early ages, wandering out of his way to find them, and describing them where they would be out of place, unless they
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were intended to illustrate some essential point. That point was the character of the Christian religion; he gives the impression, that these are the benefits and blessings which it brought to the world. And yet, in order to maintain the appearance of candor, he intimates that there is a distinction to be drawn between Christianity and Christians. Had he wholly passed over this distinction, his irony would have seemed too bitter to be in good taste. Had he brought it forward in a prominent manner, as he was bound in manliness and honor to do, it would have taken off the edge of his sarcasm at once, by showing that Christianity was not responsible for what Christians had done, and that their crimes brought dishonor simply upon themselves or on human nature, and not by any means on their religion. Unless he could show that they did these things because they were Christians, and would not have done them had they not been Christians; unless he could show that all the rest of the world were innocent, and Christians alone were guilty, he could not, as he evidently wished, make it appear that the sethings were proofs of the real character of Christianity.

The friends of Christianity have, in one respect, greatly aided its enemies; they have insisted upon it that the religion shall be judged by some one of its forms, rather than by the life and words of our Saviour in the Scriptures. Every striking object in nature produces an effect on men, differing in individuals according to their feelings, habits of thought, and the position in which they stand. This is still more true of intellectual and moral subjects, like Christianity. The various aspects in which that religion appears, are doubtless suited to the various minds which welcome and embrace them. A particular form in which Christianity is presented may be abundantly impressive to one, while it would not make the least impression on another; and if we insist upon one form to the exclusion of all others, we prevent many, perhaps, from considering the views which would be most likely to affect them, and thus condemn them to indifference or infidelity through all their lives. It is natural enough that their own form of faith should be dear to Christians, recommended as it is by the judgment of their minds and the feeling of their hearts. It comes under the authority of a father's kindness, a mother's affection; it is sanctified to them by the example of the living and the memory of the dead; it is associated in their minds
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with the plaintive music of the hymn, the deep solemnity of the prayer, with all the most important engagements of life, and with the awful sleep of death. It is not strange, then, that they regard it as embracing in itself all that is great and inspiring in Christianity. But they should remember that it cannot be equally impressive to those who are strangers to these associations, and that some other aspect in which the religion is presented might be powerful and affecting, where theirs was tried to as little purpose as seed is cast upon the rock. We are convinced that it would appear on examination, that the enemies of Christianity have objected always to some form of it, in which they have found something offensive. Why not invite them to try some other form, in which they may not see the same objection? Why not urge them to make trial of any and every form, since perhaps where one seems liable to objection from its accidental peculiarities, another, containing the same substantial truths, may encounter no prejudice, may be admitted and welcomed, and thus bring those into the ranks of Christianity, who would otherwise have opposed the religion themselves, and carried others into infidelity with them? We have been struck with the manner in which
Dr. Kennedy, in all his discussions, narrowed the question to his own peculiar sentiments, which in most cases happened to be the very views that excited the most decided aversion in his hearers. Now, whether his sentiments were right or wrong, we apprehend that he would have done better to recommend them to the teaching of the Author of Christianity, since the question was not whether Dr. Kennedy’s opinion, but whether the truths of the Gospel were divine; and one might have doubts with respect to the former point, without disbelieving the other.

The fact is, that the views of almost every sect of Christians, contain something, for which Christianity should not be made to answer. As they understand them themselves, all may be harmonious and consistent with reason, nature, and the general spirit of the Gospel; but it is not safe for them to assume, that they can make it appear so to others. If they undertake to explain them themselves, they may satisfy one without convincing another; since the same arguments, much less the same language, cannot convey the same impression to all. We hold, as an encouraging fact, that the pure elements of truth might, be found under the errors of every party. Separated as they may be by peculiarities of form, faith, and feeling, they are
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united in those great truths, which from their nature can be peculiar to none. So that, whoever would recommend his religion to unbelievers, should direct their attention not to those matters concerning which men disagree, but to those substantial truths, which are the same in every party and the same in every breast. To one who sneered at all the pretensions of medical science, the Doctor would hardly have quoted the system of
Brown or Cullen, in order to remove his scepticism; since it is the pertinacity with which the slaves of every system cling to their peculiar notions, which, more than all other causes united, brings contempt upon the whole subject. He would have argued that question on larger and more liberal grounds; and in this discussion, had there been no other cause of his failure, the disgust with which he mentioned views of Christianity differing from his own, taken in connexion with his evident sincerity, would have been enough to convince his hearers, that many of their suspicions of Christianity were true; certainly to satisfy them that the interests of good feeling would gain but little if it prevailed among men.

Since it is perfectly evident, that the great majority of infidels are those who, like Byron, are prejudiced against Christianity without any serious investigation, we will allude to one or two of those objections which generally have most effect upon their minds.

One is, that they charge upon Christianity all the follies and weaknesses of Christians; and if such are the materials from which their objections are made, they can find an ample supply even in the best parts of the Christian world. They know full well that the word Christian, as generally used, is applied to all born in lands where Christianity prevails; and that, so far from being confined to those who make that religion the rule of their life, it is applied to thousands who never listened to its instructions, who are Christians only because they chance to be near certain parallels of latitude, and who, in a little different region, would pass muster equally well with Heathen, Mahometans, or Jews. The objectors say that they will look to the lives of Christians, to learn what the Christian virtues are; and they invariably turn to characters of this description, though better representatives of the spirit and power of their faith are standing close beside them. They point to these men, hold up their faults and vices to scorn, and ask what must the faith be, if such are its disciples. The principal beauty of
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this reasoning is, that they point to the unchristian part of their conduct, to show the effect of Christianity. It was in precisely the same way, that writers, who used to declaim against civilized life, showed the evils of society, by placing in a strong light the traces of barbarism which still existed in it, because civilization could not reach them; and, by exhibiting and overstating these things, they succeeded in convincing some wild brains, that the savage life was the best. It is as if one, who wished to discourage planting, should take us to the part of a mansion which is unshaded, to show that there is no use nor benefit in shade. We should probably tell him, that the house only wanted more of it; and this is the case with Christians; they want more Christianity, not less; and one thing is certain, that this argument has no force against Christianity, till it can be shown that the religion has a direct tendency to produce the weakness and folly of Christians, and that they might divest themselves of these failings, and this reproach, by simply giving up Christianity.

There is not much respect due to those who press this kind of objection to Christianity, since they well know that the question is not whether the lives of Christians are what they should be. It is readily admitted that they are not; and they are aware that the life of the Author of the religion, in which the religion was carried into beautiful, harmonious and consistent action, is the only one to which such an appeal can be made. They speak as if all who professed Christianity must of course be governed by its power. Under the same error they attempt to show, that Christianity is no blessing to the world. For, say they, if Christianity profess to reform the evils of the world, why has it not reformed them? Why is the aspect of society deformed and stained with vices of every description in private life? Why is the earth still blackened with slavery, and overshadowed by the thundercloud of war? The answer is, that Christianity, though it was miraculously given, professes to exert only a moral agency on men, and therefore can have no more influence than men choose to allow it. Where they permit it to act, it will exert its power; as far as they allow it to go, it will go travelling in the greatness of its strength. Since it was given for the benefit of men, it is left to them to say where and how far it shall prevail. The infidel may therefore perceive that his own prejudice against it, his unwillingness to give it a hearing and a trial, is one of the reasons why it has so little power, and also a reason
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why the character of the religion must be judged, not from the lives of those who are called Christians, nor the aspect of what is called the Christian world; but from the life of Jesus Christ and the teaching of the Gospel.

Another prejudice against Christianity rests upon the charge, that it has occasioned divisions in the world. Undoubtedly many pages in its history are red with blood, but what page in history is there without a similar stain? Why do they pass over the long list of battles and murders before Christianity came, and reserve all reproach for those, which were recorded within the last eighteen hundred years? If they say that Christianity was the cause of these things, they are bound to show what caused them before the Christian religion existed; and if any causes existed before, what there was in Christianity which suspended their agency and acted in their stead. If they say that Christianity occasions these things, they are bound to show some one of its charges, principles, or affections which leads to such results; if nothing of the kind appears, and they content themselves with saying that Christianity ought to have prevented them, then some way must be shown, in which Christianity could have prevented them. Christian truth is not a living thing,—it is not a person invested with powers, nor is it, as this argument seems to imply, a God, and almighty. Christian truths are simply facts made known to men by Jesus Christ, for the better government of their lives; and if they pay no regard to these facts, they can hardly be called Christians. It is unjust to call them Christians, merely for the sake of charging their crimes upon that religion, which they resist and disobey. No one can show a single precept of that religion, a single duty it enjoins, nor a feeling it inspires, which leads to strife; we can show a thousand which forbid it; but we can find traits enough in human nature, which lead to, these things. Why not then lift the charge from Christianity, and place it where it belongs? It will then appear that if Christianity be not obeyed, men with it are like men without it; and if we say that God could not be its author, because its perversion leads to strife, we may as well argue that he was not the Creator of man, because there are principles and passions within us, which we can abuse to our own destruction if we will.

It is strange, that those who charge these divisions upon Christianity do not see that Christianity forbids them, and that
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they arise from those passions of men which religion is not suffered to reach, and therefore cannot control. We think it will be admitted, for argument's sake, if nothing more, that the opposers of Christianity have sometimes grown warm in their opposition. Will they charge this upon Christianity, or will they allow that there may be passion occasionally, where there is no religion? In fact, what society of men is there, which is not full of division? What region of the earth is there, where parties do not separate those whom God and nature had united; where violence does not lead to bitterness, disunion and blood? Those who are in the habit of commenting sharply upon religious disputes, though by the way religious dispute is a contradiction in terms, and we might as well speak of a religious murder, would do well to look round them,—to consider the political world,—to look upon those waves which, like those of ocean, heave in the calmest day, and sometimes dash in thunder upon the shores which can hardly bar them in,—and then say whether Christians need blush for their divisions, because political differences are so calm and forbearing; whether they need be ashamed of their language, because political retorts are so mild and gracious; whether Christianity must be rejected because of the strife it occasions, and politics be welcomed as the means of peace and good will. All this violence, so often made matter of reproach to our religion, only proves, what we readily allow, that human nature, with Christianity, is human nature still.

The objections are all of an indefinite kind, and it is not surprising if they are sometimes inconsistent. Thus it is sometimes said, that the tendency of the religion is unfavorable to the welfare of men; and again, Christians are reproached with not regarding its laws. But if its tendency is bad, evidently the less they regard it the better. It is a compliment rather than a reproach to say, that they are not what their faith would make them; if it be any fault in them not to regard it, this seems to us like an acknowledgment that its effect is good, since it is an honor to a man to be better than his profession. One of the two charges must be given up; they must either make the tree good and its fruit good, or, if the religion be injurious in its tendency, allow that men are faithful to it when they are doing wrong. It is true that Christianity has by no means the effect which it ought on those who profess it; and this shows how strong the evidence and conviction must have
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been which sent forward a religion, which offered no flattery to human pride or passion; which threw contempt on the distinctions of human greatness, and was in every way unwelcome to the feelings of men, till they had embraced it and made it welcome to their souls. We do not allow that its influence on the world has been small. If we compare the Christian nations with others, there will be no question which state of society is best. If it be said that their moral superiority is owing to their superior refinement, how happens it that the nations most generally enlightened are invariably the most Christian? It is true we have often heard of the virtues of Mussulmen: but it is not easy to believe, that a power which professes not to be bound by treaties,—which betrays its enemies and removes them by secret murder,—which pays a price for the slain in battle, and exterminates whole provinces of human life at a blow,—it is not easy to allow that such a people are as exemplary, as some would make them, nor that their state of society is so desirable, that it would only be made worse by Christianity. So, too, we sometimes find the people of Hindostan quoted as examples of moral virtue, to put Christianity to shame. Those who do this calculate with amazing confidence upon the ignorance of their readers. Gentle and inoffensive in their manners they may be; but in all moral respects they are well known to be in the lowest depths of corruption. To say that nations, in which no principle of improvement has ever appeared,—to say that these, which advance no more than the beasts of the field from one generation to another, are better than Christian nations, because they are accidentally free from one or two of their vices,—in other words, because ardent spirits are not generally within their reach, is the most absurd Arcadian fiction known in modern times. If civilization be not a blessing to the world, then Christianity is not a blessing. If the vices thus charged on Christianity are only those which wait on civilization, and partially balance its good effect, we shall continue to believe that barbarous nations would certainly be no worse, and might possibly be better, if enlightened by Christianity.

Another objection which infidels make to Christianity and the volume which contains it is, that they cannot understand it; Lord Byron, we observe, often repeats this assertion by way of excuse for his indifference to the subject. If it were true that the Scriptures could not be understood, it would form a strong presumption against their divine origin; for, if the obscurity
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were in the style, it would be inconsistent with the natural expectation that such truths should be conveyed in the clearest manner, and, in fact, with the claims of the Scriptures themselves to be so plain that all can read them; and if the obscurity were in the truths, it would be a natural inference that they were not such as would be given from Heaven to enlighten man. But it does not appear, that Byron and others like him ever complained that they could not understand truths which they read in the Scriptures; all the difficulties that troubled them were in what others told them that the Scriptures contained; and since those persons might have misunderstood the Sacred writings, and have built obscure hypotheses upon plain words by imagination, inference and construction, those writings cannot be held responsible for any language but their own. When any one speaks of the difficulties of the Scriptures, he is taking the language of other men upon trust, while the writings are open before him; which he certainly would not do, if he desired to do justice to the subject. Those difficulties seldom embarrass those who read with interest and a desire to learn their duty; and perhaps something important may be gathered from the fact, that the obscurities of the Scriptures are always most obvious and perplexing to those who do not read them.

Regarded simply as a rule of life and duty, the Scriptures are easily understood. They were given for purposes of duty and improvement; and if read for these purposes, which surpass all others immeasurably in importance, the Scriptures will not be likely to embarrass the most inquiring mind. It is true that questions may be continually suggested which it will be difficult to answer, but these, may not be necessarily connected with the subject; and if they are, it is not well to dismiss them in disgust, without making at least an attempt to understand them. There is hardly one of the common arts of life, which does not or rather may not be made to involve questions, which no human intelligence can solve; but the husbandman raises his grain without comprehending the mysteries of vegetation; and the seaman, without any acquaintance with astronomy, takes his observation and guides his vessel through the sea. We never heard that our Saviour’s sermon on the mount could not be understood: in short, we do not know that this objection ever came from one, who had read the Scriptures with any thing approaching to singleness of heart. They teach no contradictions; they conduct men in the great
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highway where none need wander nor stumble, where those only who turn aside are bewildered and lost. Every one, who is acquainted with the Scriptures, will recognise their simplicity as their most admirable distinction. This, if nothing else, would stamp them with the broad seal of inspiration; for they were meant for every variety of character and every condition of human life, for the ignorant and the enlightened, the rich and the poor, the humble and the high. Now we see that plainness distinguishes the profound exertions of human thought; and, in proportion to the power and clearness of the thought, is the simplicity of the expression. The Scriptures, which contain a history of the revelation of God to man, might be expected to come with an air of divine simplicity about them; and that such is their character, is manifest to every impartial mind.

But perhaps the most efficient prejudice against Christianity, certainly the most mistaken one is, that it discourages all exertion and improvement of mind, and thus has an inauspicious bearing on the best interests of man. There has been an imagination, that it requires the prostration of the mind, the entire surrender of the judgment; that a man must believe whatever he seems to see in its pages without the least examination; that the least use of the intellectual powers on such prohibited subjects is treason to the King of kings. Such an impression was doubtless given by many of the fanatics of former days, and by some few in the present who cry out against education, as if it were suicidal to encourage it. Many a sect has felt, and not without reason, that a few efforts at general improvement would be fatal to the existence of their party. Such a clamor has been raised at times, and it has given an unfortunate advantage to the enemies of Christianity, who, according to their usual practice, charged upon the religion every unworthy act and every foolish word of its disciples. A better day, however, has risen; and now there is hardly a sect, with which we are acquainted, which is not animated with an honorable ambition to extend the means of improvement among its members as widely as possible. Some doubtless think that this will be the means of increasing the numbers of their own party; but in this they will be disappointed, and must console themselves with the thought, that it will increase the influence of Christianity alone. Whoever travels through our forests in the autumn is struck with the rich and glorious profusion of their
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dyes. Did it ever occur to him that all this beauty is owing to the light, and that, should the light be withdrawn, all would be uniform, colorless and unmeaning? There is no doubt that, in like manner, the effect of light in the religious world is to increase in number the lights and shadows of opinion. The only church, which was ever able to produce any thing like uniformity of sentiment, did it by keeping the world in darkness; as the light grows and extends, the aspect of the religious world grows more various and at the same time more bright and cheering; and possibly, when, after shining more and more, it reaches the perfect day, every man will be his own party.

But, with whatever views improvement is welcomed, we rejoice at it, for the effect must be in every way good; and not the least advantage is, that the infidel can no longer misrepresent Christianity, at least in this part of its design. It is a fact and a painful one, that many intellectual men have been opposed to our religion. On any subject which they had examined, their authority would command respect; but is there any reason to believe that they ever gave the subject that deliberate and impartial attention, which its importance requires? Unless some evidence of this can be inferred from their character or found in their writings, their judgment is entitled to but little weight. We do not say, that no man can be an infidel from conviction; we can conceive, that by long habits of scepticism a man may have his mind entirely closed against conviction, even when the strongest possible evidence is presented. The evidence of Christianity was not meant to be irresistible and overwhelming; it is meant to be sufficient to satisfy reasonable and impartial minds. But we know not why any one should attach more weight to the doubts of one powerful mind, than to the convictions of another. The great names of Milton, Newton and Locke, which it would be difficult to match with others of equal glory, were all decided and fervent Christians. We allow that this will not prove Christianity to be true; but it will prove, that it has been believed by men of the greatest powers and the most sagacious, deliberate and penetrating minds,—men who would be as unlikely to believe a falsehood or be carried away with a delusion, as any that ever existed. And moreover, their belief was not a mere acquiescence,—not a name and profession only; it was an active, earnest and devoted faith. They reverenced the Scriptures as a treasury of the noblest materials of thought; they declared that Christianity kept always in
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advance of the widest range of their prophetic minds, and at the moment when all the nations did homage to them, they bowed themselves in humility before the Son of God. All the defenders of Christianity have been earnest in proportion to their intellectual greatness. The apostles were men of strong minds; and the reason that they were unenlightened was, that there was no real improvement in the learning of that day. Those who believe nothing more concerning Jesus Christ, confess that man never spake like him, and that his mind would seem stupendous, were it less harmoniously blended with his other perfections. With these facts before them, how can any doubt, whether Christianity is an intellectual religion? It is entirely intellectual; it is only through the mind that it attempts to reach the heart. Its intellectual character sufficiently explains the slow progress it has made; since only enlightened nations know how to enjoy its influence and improve its power.

We have thrown out these remarks, because we know that there are many in our country who are strongly inclined to this kind of infidelity, which is not so much unbelief as aversion, and does not result from any acquaintance with Christianity, but rather from a prejudice which prevents investigation. We think we are safe in saying, that there never was an individual in any country, who was made an infidel by any thing he had read in the Gospel; so far from it, they almost unanimously bear testimony to the excellence and greatness of the life, instruction and example of Jesus Christ. It is true that this alone will not make them Christians; it will not follow that they shall believe in the divine origin of Christianity; but it is manifest that they cannot approach the subject of its divine origin, till they have learned what it is; for so long as they think they see internal evidence of its earthly character, no external testimony can persuade them that it came from above. The first endeavor should be to remove their prejudice, by showing that it is founded on second-hand representations,—by asking them, when they object to particular views, to ascertain whether those views are taught in the Gospel; when they complain of the tendency of the religion, to read its instructions, and learn whether it is Christianity or the want of it which has led to dissensions, abuses and corruptions. In such an examination, they may find that their prejudices have been excited, not against Christianity, but by what they
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have mistaken for it, and that they are bound, as men of candor, to reconsider the subject, and not to reject at once the counterfeit and the true.

We shall now give some account of this book, which is very little known in this country, and yet is interesting from the celebrity of one of the parties. Dr. Kennedy was connected with the medical staff of the British army, and was stationed among the Ionian Islands, near the time when Lord Byron, having grown sick of his degraded condition and associates, determined to make an effort for the restoration of Greece, and in that way to recover the good opinion of the world. It was probably the mortification he had endured in Italy, which disposed him to listen with more complacency to Dr. Kennedy, whose proposal to enlighten him was made in the most respectful manner, and with a distinct acknowledgment that he wished to withdraw an illustrious name from the list of enemies to Christianity. While he was irritated every day by circumstances that wounded his pride, and while he was persuaded that the religious were of all others the most inveterate foes to his reputation, the flattering interest thus taken in him by one of their number tended greatly to remove his prejudices. The prayer of a young English lady, which was found in her papers by her husband after her death, and transmitted by him to Lord Byron, showed an affecting interest in his good fame, with which he was greatly moved; the more, perhaps, because the circumstance was so striking to his imagination. Thus the way was opened for a favorable hearing; and some one, more skilful than the Doctor in discovering his lordship's state of mind, and adapting his arguments to it, might possibly have made a deep impression. It is not likely, however, that any impression could have been lasting. Lord Byron’s infirmity was an entire want of independence,—a diseased sensibility to the opinion of others. Like all who are conscious of this weakness, he often entrenched himself in obstinacy, that he might appear firm to himself and other men. He evidently wished to maintain the high and distant reserve of his poetical characters, and to preserve a spirit insensible alike to censure and praise; but nature was perpetually breaking through; a smile was enough to bear down his best and strongest resolutions, so that, without some deep and thorough change, there could have been small hope that his faith, had he formed it, would endure. While we confess that we do not admire Dr.
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Kennedy’s management as a debater, we approve the spirit in which he conducted the discussion. There was, in general, nothing contemptuous in his treatment of the arguments and motives of those opposed to him, and this is a point in which the advocates of Christianity have sometimes been sadly wanting. He was not of the number of those who, in their zeal to snatch such “brands from the burning,” think they use sufficient ceremony when they take them out with the tongs.

Lord Byron arrived in Argostoli, the principal town in Cephalonia, in 1823, intending to spend some time in the Ionian Islands, to gain an acquaintance with the condition of Greece, before he plunged himself into the troubled sea of its affairs. Here he remained from August to December. He was here an object of curiosity and wonder, and having been received with respect by the public authorities and with deference by all, was cheerful and social in his intercourse with the English as well as others. About this time, the Doctor had a visit from four British friends, who were all deistical in their sentiments. They endeavored to laugh him out of his religion; but he proposed that they should enter into a discussion of the subject at some meeting appointed for the purpose, and that they should allow him to speak at least twelve hours, at different intervals, and without interruption. One of the gentlemen mentioned the proposed meeting to Lord Byron, who expressed a wish to be present; he was accordingly invited to attend the meeting on the following Sunday. But at that time he sent an excuse, saying that he could not be present, as he intended on that day to embark his horses. This, however, he did not accomplish; and the anecdote is by far too good to be omitted. On his mentioning his design to the captain of the ship, a sturdy rough Englishman, not particularly spiritual in his views and feelings, he replied, “No, no, my lord, you must not play these tricks with me: there shall be no such heathenish and outlandish doings on board my ship on a Sunday.”

On the following Sunday, the meeting was held; but meantime Dr. Kennedy says that his friends were dissatisfied with being represented as enemies to Christianity, and declared that the object of the meeting was simply to hear an explanation of his particular opinions. This circumstance, taken in connexion with some of our previous remarks, is quite important. The Doctor evidently thought it impossible to object to his views without objecting to Christianity: “As if I had notions,”
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he says, “different from those held by every sound Christian.” He says “he could not help smiling at the gloss thus put upon the matter.” Others might be tempted to smile for a different reason. The Doctor says that they were not professed unbelievers; they objected one to one doctrine, another to another; they expressed a strong dislike to being called infidels; even
Lord Byron remarked that it was “a cold and chilling appellation.” We have heard it said of a venerable physician who practised in this region half a century ago, that if a patient undertook to describe his own feelings, the Doctor would command him sternly to hold his peace, saying, that to tell what was the disorder was the business, not of the patient, but of the physician. Dr. Kennedy seems to have had equally high ideas of his prerogatives and powers; and there is something comic in the manner in which he insists upon treating them as infidels, when, with one exception, they were in no wise conscious of their unbelief.

The number of those present at the meeting was increased by various additions to ten. The Doctor commenced by stating, that he was formerly an unbeliever in practice, though he had never denied the truth of the Scriptures; but that circumstances led him to reflect upon the subject, and that, after two years of study, he made the profession of a Christian. He told them that there was a difficulty in his undertaking, because he should have to speak of a change in his mind and feelings, which they had never felt in theirs. He said that he should not attempt to make them real Christians, since that could only be done by the Spirit of God; his object simply was, to state the evidence in favor of the divine origin of the Scriptures. The Christianity which he undertook to defend was not that, he said, which was found in creeds and confessions, but that which was found in the Scriptures. So far all was well; but here the Doctor’s evil genius prevailed, because he made it clear, that by the Christianity “which was found,” he meant that which he found, and not that which they might find in the Scriptures; thus assuming the point which, in the case of most of them, was the very one in question. While he exulted in the right of private judgment which the Reformation had restored to the world, he does not seem to admit, as a possible thing, that any sincere inquirer could gather from the Scriptures sentiments different from his own. Nor if to believe the Scriptures, and to form the best judgment in
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one’s power as to what they teach, be not enough, his hearers might reasonably despair; since the sentiments of any particular sect are held by no more than one in a thousand of the Christian world, and they might be forgiven for taking little interest in his discussion, since, by his own admission, a conversion to Christianity alone would not be sufficient to make them Christians. His course is the more surprising, since he distinctly tells them that he advocates the Christianity of the Scriptures, and not the Christianity of men. Still it is evident that he is ready to set them down as infidels, should they, after reading the Scriptures, regard his Christianity as the Christianity of man.

After speaking at some length and with a good degree of discretion concerning the manner in which the question should be debated, he said that, to relieve their attention, he would read a summary of the doctrines of Christianity, which he says he had prepared from the works of Mr. John Newton; hoping that the plain, clear and forcible manner in which he explains the first truths of religion, would produce a good effect on their minds. He had not proceeded far, before they grew impatient, and Lord Byron interrupted him, asking, whether these sentiments accorded with his own. He replied that they did, and with those of all sound Christians. His hearers told him they did not wish to hear the sentiments of others, and that their desire was to be satisfied that the Scriptures were true. Now we think that, however happily Newton might have stated the truths of religion, his proper course would have been to let the Scriptures speak for themselves. After the manner in which he had cautioned them against the Christianity of man, it was not safe to assume that the doctrine of Newton was the Christianity of the Scriptures; since, however venerable such an authority might be, it was not the point in question; and if he admitted that the truths of Scripture could be better stated than in Scripture language, it was a concession which could not tend to increase their reverence for the Sacred writings. He was somewhat vexed at their impatience, but in order that the opportunity might not be wholly lost, he proposed to read the reasons which Scott gives, in his commentary, for believing in Christianity. He commenced, but was soon interrupted, and shut the book in despair.

A conversation then followed, in which Lord Byron mentioned that his mother had brought him up strictly, and that
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he went regularly to church. He said that he wished to have his religious opinions fixed, but he could not understand the subject, and that he had seen so many, whose life gave the lie to their profession, that his impression was that few Christians believed the Scriptures; but that he always respected those who conscientiously believed, and was disposed to trust them more than others. He asked the Doctor various questions, and among others, whether he had ever read
Warburton’s Divine Legation, and what he thought of his theory maintaining that a state of retribution was not revealed in the Hebrew law. The Doctor thought that Warburton had not read his Bible with sufficient attention; for, said he, no nation has ever been found without some idea of a future state, and it would be strange if the Jews were a solitary exception. Warburton’s idea, however, was, that a future state was not revealed in that law in such a way as to give authority to its commands, and if the Doctor thinks that the Jews were only acquainted with the future state like other nations, he seems to agree with the Bishop of Gloucester, who maintained, if we understand him, not that the Jews had no idea of a future state, but that it was not confirmed to them by the revelation of God. Lord Byron inquired of the Doctor, “what would become of the heathen at the last day?” To which he replied, in substance, that he did not know. Two remarks were made by Byron, which the Doctor records, though he had forgotten the connexion in which they were spoken. One was, ‘that he should certainly say to the potter, if he were broken to pieces, “Why do you treat me thus?” The other was, that if the whole world were going to hell, he would rather go with them than go alone to Heaven.’ To which the Doctor replied with some force, that if it came to the test, he might feel differently upon the subject. So ended the first meeting. The Doctor complains that, as Lord Byron during the discussion frequently asked him if he had read certain books, and he was obliged to confess that he had not, the story spread that his lordship was profoundly acquainted with theology and sacred literature, somewhat to the disparagement of his own attainments. The case was certainly a hard one, for Lord Byron did not even pretend to know the works, except by name. He did, however, say that he had read the works of Barrow.

Several other meetings were held, but Lord Byron was absent from the town. The next time the Doctor encountered
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him was at the table of the English officers. Some instance was mentioned, to illustrate the superstition of the Greeks in the island. “Do the people believe the miracle?” said Byron. The Doctor answering that they did; he observed, that “it was easy to persuade people of the truth of any thing, if it came in a religious way, as they then willingly gave up both their senses and their reason.” He then asked, “if a miracle could be proved by human testimony?” “Certainly,” the Doctor replied, “if the effect of the miracle remained and was permanent in its nature.” The conversation, as usual with Byron, was desultory; he only remarked, by way of illustrating his sense of religious character, that
Lord Calthorpe was the first who called him an atheist when they were at school at Harrow, for which he gave him as good a drubbing as ever he had in his life. On the subject of miracles, he remarked that one had happened while he was in Italy. A church having accidentally taken fire, one of the saints held out his toe, and the conflagration immediately ceased, to the great edification and delight of the people. We wonder that the Doctor was not discouraged. At the next meeting, however, he told his friends with great candor, that the difficulty he encountered did not arise from the subject, but from want of attention and study in themselves; that they judged from their own ignorance, and that the time would come, when they would be astonished at their own obstinacy and blindness. After conciliating attention in this pleasing manner, he postponed the discussion to another day.

At that meeting, he entered very largely into the prophetic evidence in favor of Christianity, and gives as a reason their prejudice against miracles. Did it never occur to him that a prophecy is a miracle, unless it is a mere sagacious conjecture? If the prophecies were not miraculous, they were exertions of common foresight, and their fulfilment would only prove the discernment of those, who anticipated future events as likely to happen, from what they saw in their own day. A real prophecy is as incredible as a miracle, and requires as much evidence: we may say more; for we are not only obliged to prove that the prediction was made, when no common wisdom could have suggested it, but also to prove that it was fulfilled. But Dr. Kennedy is of opinion, that the evidence derived from the fulfilment of prophecy is the most convincing that can be offered to unbelievers. If so, it is a little singular that
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the apostles should not have made use of it more freely in their preaching; they rested the question upon the miracles which Jesus Christ had wrought, and which were established by such proof that none could doubt them. It does not appear, that his opinion of the power of this kind of testimony was confirmed by the event; his hearers fell away after this meeting, and though he attended once or twice, his audience never met him again. He dwelt at much length upon the celebrated prophecy of the “seventy weeks” in Daniel, but could not make them see the force of its application. He appears not to have known the remarkable fact, that this prophecy, which has perplexed all commentators of past ages, was explained by a discovery of the original septuagint version of this book. This version, for some reason or other, was removed from the Greek Bible, and another substituted in its stead. The prophecy, as contained in the substituted version, is found in our Bibles, and every one, who has seen the attempts of learned men to reconcile it with history, is aware how hopeless the endeavor has been. When the ancient version was recovered about sixty years ago, having been found in a library at Rome, it appeared that the prophecy, instead of stating that the Messiah should come after seventy weeks of years were expired, declared that, from the time when the decree went forth to rebuild Jerusalem to the time when the Messiah should “cut off from belonging to him both the city and sanctuary,” should be seventy and seven weeks of years and threescore and two years, amounting to six hundred and one. Dr. Kennedy appears never to have heard of this fact, nor of
Dr. Blayney’s dissertation on the subject; but he glides on through all the intricacies of the old explanation with a glow of satisfaction, only abated by the circumstance that his hearers could not comprehend one word of that which was so plain to him. It appears to have confirmed their suspicions, that he saw these things by means of some inward light, which was not given to them, and satisfied them that their research was vain, since it required a new revelation to make them understand the one already given.

During the latter part of these discussions, Lord Byron was residing at Metaxata, four miles and a half from the town. He seems to have been much flattered by Dr. Kennedy’s interest in him, and after a time invited him to make him a visit. He did not however go, till he found that the party were soon to
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proceed to continental Greece, when he proceeded to Metaxata and found Byron at home. They talked on religious subjects, or rather the conversation was sustained by the Doctor, and Byron, as usual, professed to desire to attain conviction. He was told that he must begin by prayer. To this he replied, that devotion was the affection of the heart; that when he saw the glory of creation, he bowed to the Majesty of Heaven, and when he felt the enjoyment of life, health, and happiness, he felt grateful to God. The Doctor told him truly, that Christianity required something more constant and efficient, and again advised him to read the Bible with prayer. “I read more of the Bible than you are aware,” said Byron. “I have one which my
sister, who is an excellent woman, gave me, and I read it very often.” Saying this, he went into his bed-room and brought out a pocket Bible. The Doctor took it, and explained to him the doctrine of depravity and the necessity of conversion. Byron told him that, on the subject of human depravity, he had no doubt whatever. What prospect the Doctor had of making an impression, and what was the nature of Byron’s scriptural studies, may be judged from his saying, “What think you of the Witch of En-dor? I have always thought this the finest and most finished scene, that ever was written. It beats all the ghost-scenes I ever read.” The conversation wandered fast to other subjects. The Doctor complained of his “Cain.” Byron said that he had a right to draw the characters according to truth and nature, and that it would be absurd to put pious sentiments into the mouth of Cain. The Doctor replied, that he was censured, not for ascribing such sentiments to Cain, but for putting nothing to counterbalance them into the mouths of his other characters, and that it was well known that the work had done mischief; for that the papers contained an account of a man in distressed circumstances, who one evening brought it to a friend, read some passages containing the sentiments alluded to, and next morning shot himself. The Doctor then expressed his opinion of Don Juan, in a free and not very complimentary manner. Byron insisted upon it, that he had been misunderstood; that his object was to show how accomplishments covered vices. “This may be true,” said the Doctor, “but what are your motives for painting nothing but scenes of vice and folly?” “It is to unmask the hypocrisy of high life.” The Doctor told him that the world never entertained the opinion,
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that high life afforded the purest models of piety and virtue; and from what he had read of Don Juan, he could not perceive that it contained much abhorrence of vice, or laid particular stress upon morality. He told Lord Byron, that the virtuous could not look upon him as a person qualified to be a moralist and reformer, and that the vicious would hate one who disclosed their vices; so that he could not do good in any quarter. Byron told him that he thought it strange that he should be attacked by the pulpit, as well as the reviews; for that he was actually aiding the objects of religious men, by assisting to convince people of their depravity, and thus enabling religious men to throw in their doctrine with greater effect. The Doctor would by no means admit that he had any claims to be considered a public benefactor, but told him that, when he had given some proofs of his own conversion, his attempts to reform others might be more successful. “Well,” said Byron, “you shall see what a winding up I will give to the story.” “I shall be glad,” said the Doctor, “to see any winding up that may remedy the pernicious consequences of the rest of the work.” “What excuse,” said Byron, “will you find for that preacher in London, about whom they have raised such infamous calumnies, and who has written against me in the Review with which he is connected, as well as preached against me? 1 do not believe that there is any foundation for the calumny against him, and yet how delighted he would have been, had it been raised against me. I show a greater degree of Christian charity, in believing him innocent, than he would have done towards me. You think me in a very bad way.” “I certainly think you are,” said the Doctor. “But,” answered Byron, “I am now in a fairer way. I already believe in depravity, and predestination; so that you see there are two points in which we agree; I shall get at the others by and by. But you cannot expect me to become a perfect Christian at once.” The Doctor was rather startled at these signs of approach to Christian perfection. He therefore told him that he must apply to Christ, and seek him as a Saviour. “That is going too fast,“ said Byron; “there are many difficulties to be cleared up; when that is done, I will consider what you say.” The Doctor asked him what he meant by difficulties. To which he replied, “There is, for instance, the doctrine of the Trinity.” The Doctor, in a series of remarks, occupying eight pages, explained this doctrine; and then advised him to lay
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aside these subjects for the present, and commence an attentive and honest examination of the Bible. This advice was judicious, and Byron had probably heard more truths, in this conversation, than he had ever heard from human lips before. But here the Doctor’s evil genius stepped in; and when Byron spoke of the differences of Christians, the Doctor said that he wished to see them all united; but from such an union, said he, “I would exclude Arians, Socinians, Swedenborgians, and fanatics of all descriptions, leaving them, however, not only toleration, but perfect liberty of conscience. These people have no right to the name of Christians.” “You seem to hate the Socinians,” said Lord Byron. “Not the individuals,” said the Doctor, “but their principles. I believe that there is more hope of a Deist, than a Socinian, becoming a real Christian.” “But is this charitable?” he asked; “why would you exclude a sincere Socinian from the hope of salvation?” “I do not exclude him,” said the Doctor; “but comparing his doctrines with those of the Bible, one or the other must be wrong.” “But they draw their doctrine from the Bible,” said Byron. “Yes, so do all fools, enthusiasts and fanatics.” “Their religion,” said Byron, “seems to be spreading very much.
Lady Byron is a great one among them, and is much looked up to.” The Doctor replied, that he was exceedingly sorry to hear that her ladyship was in such a set, and hoped that she would, before long, see her error and danger. “I should have been pleased,” said Byron, “to have had you acquainted with Shelley. I should like to have seen you argue together. He possessed one of the first Christian virtues, charity and benevolence.” The Doctor did not perceive his lordship’s intimation, that in this respect the Atheist might have taught something to the Christian. This singular conversation ended with a proposal on the part of the Doctor, to send to Lord Byron a book which he thought suited to his case. If the reader is curious to know what work he thought most likely to effect the purpose, we are constrained, to tell him that it was Boston’s Fourfold State!

Dr. Kennedy was not satisfied that he had sustained his part well in this conversation, but he consoled himself with the consciousness of good intentions. The wits of the garrison insisted upon it, that Byron was using the Doctor as a lay-figure, for a portrait in Don Juan; but, to do Byron justice, he does not appear to have thought of any thing of the kind. For the reasons we have suggested, he listened, and perhaps
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had a curiosity to learn what a Christian, who was obviously sincere, could say in favor of his religion; but he evidently listened without the least personal interest in the subject, and waived it as civilly as he could, when the Doctor pressed it home. The Doctor inquired of a gentleman who was intimate with Byron, whether he had expressed any feeling on the subject: he replied that there was no ground for the suspicion that his lordship was amusing himself with the discussion; nor, on the other hand, was there reason to believe that any impression had been made. Byron had said, that he liked the Doctor’s confining himself to the Scriptures, but that he could not understand his doctrines. The Doctor therefore thought that the case was not entirely hopeless; and as he feared neither ridicule nor poetry, “he resolved to continue his attempt on the next suitable occasion.”

At his next visit, he asked Lord Byron if he had read the books he had sent; but found that he had done no more than “look into Boston.” The conversation soon wandered to the subject of Greece. The Doctor endeavored to persuade his lordship, that he could render more service to that country by remaining where he was, than by proceeding to the continent, where he would inevitably be entangled with one of the opposing parties. Byron’s reply was characteristic. He said, that to remain would suit him best, for his indolence had made him quit every one of his various residences with regret; but that something was expected of him, and if he should not go, it would subject him to unworthy imputations. At the same time, he was fully aware that the Greeks would find out his weak side, and that he should become a prey to one party or the other. On the Doctor’s pressing the subject of religion, he said, that he had given some of the tracts to his servant Fletcher, and had bestowed the Italian ones upon Count Gamba and Doctor Bruno. “You have sent me an account of the death of Lord Rochester, as a tract par excellence, having particular reference to me.” The Doctor confessed that something of that sort was in his mind when he sent it. “But” said Byron, “had he recovered after his conversion, perhaps he would have relapsed; and while there is this uncertainty, we never can be assured of his real conversion.” The Doctor admitted that this was true; but, said he, “we shall be perfectly satisfied, if we find that your lordship, who resemble him in some respects, should follow him in his closing scenes.” “What,” said
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Byron, “do you wish me to die so early, without giving unequivocal proofs of my conversion, and making atonement for past sins?” He said this smiling. How different would have been his expression, could he have read one or two pages in the book of fate!

The next time he conversed with Byron on the subject was after dining with him in company with one of the Greek leaders. Byron then gave a proof of his belief in the Scriptures. “Do you know,” said he, “I am nearly reconciled to St. Paul? He says there is no difference between the Jews and Greeks; I am of exactly the same opinion, for the characters of both are equally vile.” The Doctor explained to him that he had misunderstood the passage, and took the opportunity to reprove him, for connecting himself with the writers of the Liberal. Byron declared that his connexion with those people arose from common humanity. He found Hunt, in Italy, in distressed circumstances, and, after giving him what money he had to spare, he gave him some loose poems. Byron said that he considered Hunt as a man of talent, and sincere in his infidel opinions; but that he was far from agreeing with him. “You must allow,” said he, “that there is just ground for inveighing against abuses in church and state.” He mentioned, among other abuses, the number of clergymen who were not proper men for their calling; and told the Doctor, that Lady Byron had just written to him, to ask his presentation to a church of a person who in his opinion was unfit for the profession. His reply was that the person might certainly have it, if she pleased. If he considered such power an abuse, it might have occurred to him that this was an abuse of power. He said he respected every clergyman who did his duty, but he could not think highly of their charity when so many of them preached against him. “Have you seen the Quarterly Review?” said he; “I am not so well treated there as by Jeffrey; the article I believe was written by Heber; I was indulgently treated by Gifford. He was kind to me, and as long as he has the management of the Review, I may hope for a continuance of kindness.” The Doctor said that he had seen it; that all the Reviews treated him with great indulgence, from respect for his talents, and hope of his reform; and it was indeed their best way, since a contrary method would only irritate his pride, and make, him worse, not better. The Doctor then inquired of his lordship, if he had looked into his paper on the doctrine of eter-
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nal punishment. “No, I must confess that I have not: something or other always comes in the way; but I shall send all of them to you before I go, whether I read them or not.” “You need not do that; on the contrary I wish you to take them with you. I have brought you another; it is
Jones on the Scripture doctrine of the Trinity.” Again he recommended to Byron that he read the scriptures and to do it with the help of a commentary such as Scott’s; but the subject was changed by Lord Byron saying that he had heard from his daughter, that she has been unwell. He then went on to speak of her saying “Ada is I understand fond of reading. She lies on the sofa a great part of the day, reading, and displays, perhaps, premature strength of the mind and quickness of understanding.” He always took pleasure in speaking of his daughter. One day, on seeing an infant fall, he sprang from his horse and took it in his arms, saying that he could not bear to look upon a child, he was so powerfully reminded of his own.

The mention of his daughter led on to a subject, where we should have thought that even Dr. Kennedy’s intrepidity would have flinched. On Byron’s saying that he could rely on Ada’s receiving judicious treatment from her mother, the doctor told him, that he hoped before long to see the day when he would be reunited with Lady Byron and enjoy the happiness of domestic life. “What makes you think so? Have you had any private information?” “No; I judge from circumstances, which I will mention, if it will not offend lordship” “By all means tell me what they are.” The doctor told him that he judged from his manner of speaking of his wife, on a former occasion, that he had lost his attachment to her. “Lady Byron deserves every respect from me and nothing could give me greater pleasure than a reconciliation.” Then the doctor asked him how they came to be separated and what was the cause of the disunion. “I do not know the cause,“ said Lord Byron. “I know that many falsehoods have been spread such as I bringing actresses into my house, but they were all all false. I sent Hobhouse to her, who almost went on his knees, but in vain, and at length I wished to institute an action, that it might be seen what her motives were.” The Doctor said, that he thought that she had acted right, since, from, delicacy, she would not wish to make known the cause of her sorrow, where her husband was concerned, and that, if she acted under bad influence of misapprehension it was his duty to have
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conducted himself in such a manner as to remove it. “What could I have done? I did every thing at the time that could be done, and I am and always have been ready for a reconciliation.” The Doctor replied, that he could have done many things, and some of them better than he did. In the first place, it was wrong to make a domestic misunderstanding so public, by poems, however beautiful; but what would he have done when he was paying his addresses to her? Would he not have done every thing to obtain her affection? Why not do as much to recover her affection? Why not remain in England, where he could have shown by his conduct that her suspicions were not true, instead of leaving the country in a pet, and going to reside in a land so grossly immoral as Italy. “Could you not,” said he, “compel her to acknowledge that she had wronged you, if it was true?” “All this may be very fine,” said Byron, “but it would have had no effect. Every thing was done that could reasonably be done, and it was unsuccessful: I have remained and always shall remain ready for a reconciliation, whenever circumstances open and point out the way to it.” The Doctor, with all his freedom, did not reach the solution of that mystery which has perplexed so many inquirers. When Lord Byron says he does not know the cause, he probably means that he knows no particular act of his, which should have been the immediate cause of so decided a step on her part. It was rather his general treatment of her, and various capricious acts, which seemed to indicate wildness of passion amounting almost to insanity,—acts, which
Mr. Moore has described for the benefit of all who wish to know the whole history of this affair. But Lord Byron could not be very earnest in his desire of reconciliation, since nothing of the kind could be brought about without some advances from him, and he declares his purpose to receive only, and not to make them. The Doctor seems to have thought, that could he make Byron a Christian in the abstract, these minor traits of character and conduct could be easily corrected. But when he came to urge him to “forsake his way,” he was evidently less desirous to listen to the arguments in favor of Christianity.

Dr. Kennedy was with Lord Byron, at the time of his departure for continental Greece. He found him alone, reading Quentin Durward. Byron thanked him for the interest he had shown in his welfare, and gave him fifteen dollars to aid a school, which Mrs. Kennedy was about to establish. Dr. Ken-
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nedy told him that the ladies wished him to apply for his lordship’s patronage, but that he had declined, knowing the multiplied claims which were made on his generosity. “The ladies were right and you were wrong;” said he. After a promise to write, giving some account of his proceedings in Greece, Lord Byron bade him farewell, and he never saw him again.

Some of the letters which Dr. Kennedy received after the party had landed in Greece, are extremely characteristic; we could hardly persuade ourselves, that they were not prepared for the work by Miss Edgeworth, or Sir Walter Scott. The only allusion which Byron makes to the subject of religion, is in his vexation with one Brownbill, a tinman, who had left a number of Greek Testaments with him; and fearing that in this way he had excited the wrath of the priesthood, had fled to the islands; preferring rather to be a saint than a martyr, though his apprehensions of the latter were unfounded. Col. Stanhope had told him, that “he could not positively say that his life was safe.” “I should like to know,” said Byron, “when our life is safe, either here or anywhere else? With regard to such hermetically sealed safety as these persons appear to desiderate, it is not certainly to be found in Greece.” Some of the letters are from Dr. Bruno, Byron’s Italian physician, to whom he had given some of the tracts, but found him “too decided against it.” He writes to Dr. Kennedy in a manner exceedingly conciliating and gracious, saying “my lord in particular, and all of us in his house are fully converted to Methodism, and you can count on me as one of your most warm proselytes, who wishes only for opportunities to prove it to you.” After Lord Byron’s death, the same person writes to Dr. Kennedy, who had applied to him for information respecting Lord Byron’s intentions about Methodism, “he was not decidedly attached to it, though he manifested esteem for it and especially for you. With pleasure I inform you, that you were the fortunate cause that I read and studied the New Testament profoundly, and acquired a great disposition towards conversion to Methodism. Nevertheless I am not yet entirely a Methodist with regard to the belief, but I am so perfectly, for its political tendency to the public good.” “On this account especially, I have made other Methodists and am busily occupied in increasing the number; and those whom I cannot convince with proofs from the Sacred Scriptures I lead to Methodism by this political way, so beautiful and so good.” This
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novel expedient of leading men up to Christianity by another way, when they could not be made to go in the direct one, was Dr. Bruno’s own invention. What effect it had on others does not appear; but a letter addressed to Dr. Kennedy assures him, that Bruno became a convert before he died. He does not say, whether the change savored most of politics or religion. The aspect in which Dr. Kennedy’s faith struck the Italian most forcibly was, that by getting rid of the churches with their priests and ceremonies, “it would save the people immense sums of money.”

But by far the most curious of these documents is a letter from Lord Byron’s servant Fletcher, whom the Doctor had questioned concerning his master’s Christianity. Mr. Fletcher wonders that his master’s religion could ever be doubted; for, says he, “his manner of life was that of a good Christian, and one who fears and serves God.” This intelligence is somewhat new; but it is fully explained in the course of the letter. Mr. Fletcher had held conversations with his lordship on the subject, which were perfectly satisfactory to his own mind. Once Lord Byron said, “Fletcher, I know that you are at least what they call a Christian; do you think me what they say of me?” He answered, “I do not, for I have too many reasons to think otherwise.” Byron then continued, “I suppose because I do not go to church, I cannot any longer be a Christian: a man must be a great beast, who cannot be a good Christian without being always in the church. I flatter myself I am not inferior to many of them, in regard to my duty; for if I do no good, I do no harm, which I am sorry to say I cannot say of all churchmen.” This was one of the most satisfactory conversations, in which Lord Byron had given evidence of his piety; and here he seems to us to be indebted to Mr. Fletcher, not merely for the sentiment, but the very expression; so that his religious character is as firmly established as that of his master. But complete as this evidence was, the worthy valet had even more to give. ‘At another time, I remember it well, being a Friday, I, at the moment not remembering it, said to my lord “Will you have a fine plate of beccaficas?” My lord, half in anger, replied, “Is not this Friday? How could you be so extremely lost to your duty as to make such a request to me?” at the same time saying, A man that can so much forget his duty as a Christian, who cannot for one day in seven forbid himself of these luxu-
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ries, is no longer worthy to be called a Christian. And I can truly say, for the last eight years and upwards, his lordship always left that day apart for a day of abstinence; and many more and more proofs of a religious mind than I have mentioned.’
Dr. Kennedy was doubtless greatly delighted with these proofs of the success of his instructions.

But Mr. Fletcher’s zealous defence of his master's religious character did not stop here. He declares that he has seen his master repeatedly, on passing any Roman Catholic procession, dismount and fall on his knees. This, he truly says, “must remove every doubt.” On the whole, Mr. Fletcher concludes, “A greater friend to Christianity did not exist, I am fully convinced; in his daily conduct not only making his Bible his first companion in the morning, but in regard to whatever religion a man might be of, whether Protestant, Catholic, friar or monk, or any other religion; every priest of whatever religion, if in distress, was always most liberally rewarded, and with larger sums than any one who was not a minister of the Gospel. I think, every thing combined together, must prove to the world that my lord was not only a Christian, but a good Christian.” As if, however, Mr. Fletcher apprehended lest this overwhelming testimony should prove too much, he takes care to caution Dr. Kennedy in respect to his future publication. “I must beg your pardon when I make one remark, which I am sure your good sense will forgive me for, when I say you know too well the tongues of the wicked, and in particular of the great; and how glad some would be, to bring into ridicule any one that is of your religious and good sentiments of a future state, which every Christian ought to think his first and greatest duty. For myself, I should be only too happy to be converted to the truth of the Gospel. But I fear at this time it would be doing my lord more harm than good, in publishing to the world that my lord was converted; since to that extent of religion my lord never arrived.” The Doctor has treated this judicious caution with scrupulous regard.

Count Gamba also wrote to Dr. Kennedy, giving his opinion of Lord Byron’s religious character. He gives many instances of his lordship’s benevolence, and certain expressions of feeling, which he thought sounded like devotion. But he tells the Doctor, that in his future work he must not represent Byron as a devotee, since that would be as incorrect as to
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represent him as an enemy to religion. It may be doubted says the Count, “whether he was a rigid Christian with respect to the opinions of faith and those little points demanded as their sequence.” The Count, in one respect, appeals to the Doctor himself, in the following convincing manner. “For the Bible, he had always a particular respect. It was his custom to have it always on his study table, particularly during his last months; and you well know how familiar it was to him, since he knew how to correct your inaccurate citations.” The Doctor repels the intimation, thus innocently conveyed, that he himself was not well acquainted with the Scripture, and maintains that the reason that Byron was able to find the place soonest was, that his copy was differently arranged from the common Bible.

The letter of Mr. Millingen, an English surgeon resident in Greece, is written in a very direct and business-like manner. He says of Lord Byron, “He died, to say the melancholy truth, like a man without religion. Truth also obliges me to say, that, though I saw him almost daily, I never could perceive the least change in his religious opinions.” This was doubtless the truth. There is no evidence, that Dr. Kennedy was able to make the least impression. Byron listened to his conversation, because he evidently respected the interest and sincerity that inspired it; but he was constantly changing the subject, and whenever the Doctor made it personal, waived it in a manner which was more discouraging than open resistance. Doubtless there were accessible places in his mind, but Dr. Kennedy did not discover them. He insisted upon breaking through the living rock, and the result was a signal failure of his benevolent design. It would have been a glorious thing to have succeeded; not because Christianity needed Byron, but because he needed Christianity; and he might then have come, and, like the Ephesian sorcerers, have burned the book of his former enchantment, by way of late atonement for his offences against decency, moral sentiment, and the best feelings of mankind.

This work affords us a more vivid idea of the situation of Lord Byron in Greece, than we have received from Mr. Moore’s work, or any other; and as this is one of the portions of his history which can be thought of with some satisfaction, we shall give some slight account of it to our readers. Dr. Kennedy confirms what has been stated by others, with respect to
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Byron’s patient, devoted and judicious attention to the affairs of Greece. And with respect to his liberality, which
Hunt’s work misrepresented, this witness declares that he made advances to the cause which enabled the Greek fleet to act with vigor, and that the fortifications of Missolonghi, which enabled it to make so glorious a resistance, were chiefly erected by him. Dr. Kennedy says, that while he was at Metaxata he was cheerful and familiar with all, and that, however it might be with others, he never saw him guilty of any excess, nor heard any thing gross or irreligious in his conversation. Byron himself seems to have had no very high opinion of his household. The widow who washed for him, used to send her daughter, a young and pretty girl, to his house with the linen. When he noticed this, he wrote to an officer of the regiment to which she belonged, requesting him to tell the mother not to send her daughter again, “for you know,” said he, “what a parcel of rascals my household are.” He was extremely liberal to the destitute among the Greeks, but generally spoke of them with contempt. His dread of the appearance of enthusiasm, in other words, his dread of a smile, grew upon him in his later years, and he was particularly anxious not to appear much interested in his enterprise, since it had been pronounced wild and romantic by the world.

When he took his residence in Missolonghi, he seemed destitute of all comfort, and even of the appearance of it. His house was low and inconvenient, though one of the best in the town. It was frequently necessary to use boats to reach it. Count Gamba lived in lodgings. Lord Byron’s household was always in confusion: the servants wore uniforms of their own selection, some of them absurd enough, and no one had any particular province assigned him. Each determined for himself what the nature and amount of his duties should be, and Byron took his scanty meals alone, depending as little as possible upon their attentions. Occasionally he took an obstinate fit, and laid about him with great indignation, but when it was over, all went on as before, and his only concern with their proceedings was to furnish them with money. One of them said, “We all at this time seemed to have lost our sense of honor, and were occupied in selling and buying from each other guns, horses and uniforms, each endeavoring to make the best bargain he could.” Byron evidently had no authority except what his money gave him. It required a strong hand
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to restrain the adventurers about him, and it must have occurred to him more than once, that, if he could not govern his immediate dependants, there was little hope of his putting down the dissensions of a lawless country.

It is but justice to Lord Byron, to give some account of Dr. Kennedy’s impressions concerning him. He says that Byron’s manner was that of a polished man, affable, benevolent and cheerful. He was so easy, that it was necessary to recall his rank and fame, lest one should be betrayed into undue familiarity. He appeared like a kind-hearted and feeling man, but one governed less by principle than by passion. With all his faults and vices, Dr. Kennedy confesses that he excited the deepest interest in his mind. His character, apart from his poetical reputation, was a common one: his private life was a mixture of virtues and vices; and his vices were not more numerous than is common with those of his rank, while his charity and benevolence were greater than can usually be found. This writer is very forbearing on the subject of his poetry. He puts the most favorable construction on his motives for exhibiting characters and breathing sentiments, which the most liberal moralist must condemn. He says that he acquits him of a preference for vice, and believes that he only regarded the poetical effect of such sentiments and descriptions. We like the Doctor’s disposition to be charitable, but we apprehend that there is not much in this concession. The most abandoned of mankind have not this preference of vice to virtue in the abstract; they are as ready to approve what is excellent as others; but when they find any particular temptation to do wrong, this approbation, which of course does not amount to principle, offers no resistance to their passion. It is no very flattering defence of Byron to say, that he regarded nothing but poetical effect when he offended the moral sense of the world.

We have no doubt, that Lord Byron’s principal motive for engaging in this expedition was a desire to recover the good opinion of his countrymen. He was conscious that he had lost it, and by his own fault, which made it harder still to bear. The very fury with which he set it at defiance, when he sat down to those writings in which lofty poetry was so often degraded by unworthy passions, shows that he never was indifferent to it. Had he felt concerning it as he affected to feel, this perpetual challenge would not have been upon his lips
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and in his heart. It seems to us, that no exile ever looked toward his country with fonder devotion than he. He rejoiced evidently in the thought, that then he was engaged in an enterprise which would force praise from those who had condemned him, and that all the faults of former years would be lost in his future glory. He saw but two ways of regaining the love and honor of his country; one was by repentance, to which his proud spirit could not bow; the other, by accomplishing some generous and manly purpose, which would open the way to a graceful and triumphant return. But his habits were too strong for him: he was not destined to see that day; and though he exerted himself honorably and generously for the Greeks, it was too late for his own renown. Nothing can be imagined more desolate than his condition in Missolonghi, with such a household as we have described; without a friend whom he could respect or trust; without anything approaching to the ordinary comfort of English life; with applications for money such as no resources could answer; with a barbarous force around his dwelling, over whom he had no control,—he found enough to convince him, that, although he could not retreat, it was impossible to go on with honor to himself or advantage to Greece. But he had not decision enough for the emergency, and therefore he lingered, sick in body and mind, till his destiny was sealed by death. It is affecting to think of him, lying down on the bed from which he knew he should never rise,—going down to the grave in the distance and solitude of a foreign land, without a single loved one near him to receive his parting breath,—vainly striving to utter some last messages of affection, and finally quitting this world without a thought of that which is beyond it. It was like the sun going down in a wintry cloud; a cold, heavy and oppressive gloom hung over the setting of his day.

The professed design of this work was, to take advantage of the interest which every thing connected with Byron has excited in the public mind, and in this way to introduce to the attention of general readers an explanation of the evidences of Christianity. The publication was well meant; but, for reasons intimated more than once in the course of our remarks, we do not think it at all calculated to answer the purpose in view. The motives and moral energy of the author deserve respect; but we do not think that, either in his conversations or in their more expanded form in his work, the evidences of
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Christianity are presented in a way likely to impress an intelligent mind. Byron had no arguments to bring against Christianity; his prejudice against it was founded principally upon the faults of Christians, their superstition, their want of charity, and other abuses which are acknowledged to exist in the Christian world. He had no patience therefore to listen to a discussion, which did not approach the subjects that interested him; and such, we fear, will be the feeling of most of those for whose benefit this work was intended. They will not read labored arguments in proof of what they never seriously doubted, and they will look in vain through this work to find the grounds of their prejudices explained away. It is but just, however, to say that since the death of
Dr. Kennedy, who did not live to publish this work, one of the persons who had attended his conversations without conviction, wrote to the Editor, that Lord Byron held Dr. Kennedy in the highest respect; and that he was so gentle, patient and kind, so earnest to secure the happiness of others, and so sincere in his belief and practice, that no one could help regarding the man with respect and attachment, and feeling grateful for his exertions to induce others to embrace that faith, which had so happy an effect on his own heart.