LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron
Chapter XXV.

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
Chapter XIII.
Chapter XIV.
Chapter XV.
Chapter XVI.
Chapter XVII.
Chapter XVIII.
Chapter XIX.
Chapter XX.
Chapter XXI.
Chapter XXII.
Chapter XXIII.
Chapter XXIV.
‣ Chapter XXV.
Chapter XXVI.
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’Tis thus
Men cast the blame of their unprosperous acts
Upon the abettors of their own resolves,
Or anything but their weak, guilty selves.

Foul plots have been devised, and fit instruments found to execute them in less than four days. I was much more astonished and humiliated at the retrospection of my idiotic infatuation when, by Fenton’s papers and other evidence, I discovered that I had been his dupe from the first—a blind man led by a fiendish cur—no more. He was foisted on me at Missolonghi, to act as a spy on Odysseus, and had done so for a whole year.

My credulity was such that I not only told him all I knew, but employed him in many important transactions. Not a shadow or doubt of his honesty ever crossed my mind from the first day of our
meeting until his death. I was a fool, and deserved my fate.
Fenton, a mercenary bungling ruffian, in the hands of a professor of the black art.

To cut short this disagreeable subject, I extract from Gordon’s always fearless and generally accurate History of the Greek Revolution, his brief notice of the affair:—

“On taking the field, Odysseus deposited his family in his den on Mount Parnassus, which he confided to the guard of Trelawny (who had lately married his youngest sister), with a handful of men, for that singular cavern is impregnable, and when the ladders that gave access to it were removed, neither armies nor artillery could make any impression. It is a perpendicular height of one hundred and fifty feet from the bottom of a precipice, and sheltered above by a lofty arch. In front were natural and artificial bulwarks, concealing the interior and a portal cut in the rock, to which the flights of ladders gave access; within were houses, magazines stored for the consumption of years, and a fine spring of water.

“An attempt was made to murder Trelawny by two of his own countrymen, one of whom, Fenton,
determined villain, having accepted a bribe from government, seduced the other, a crack-brained young man, into complicity by extravagant tales, and the perpetual excitement of potent liquors. Although pierced through the back with two carbine balls, fracturing his arm and his jaw, the wonderful vigour of his constitution enabled Trelawny to recover. In the midst of his agony, he had the magnanimity to dismiss, unhurt, the happy youth who fired at him; as for Fenton, the prime assassin, he was instantly shot by a Hungarian soldier.

“In the same month, on the 17th of June, the rising sun disclosed the lifeless body of Odysseus stretched at the foot of the tower that had been his prison; it was said, that a rope by which he was lowering himself had broken, and that he was killed by the fall; however, no one gave credit to this story; it was supposed that he had been strangled, and then thrown from the top. Ghouras subsequently felt remorse for the death of his former patron; heard with pain the mention of his name, and occasionally murmurred, ‘In that business I was misled.’ There can be no doubt that Mavro-
cordato was at the bottom of these tragical events, instigated fully as much by private revenge as care of the public weal. Odysseus was undoubtedly a tyrant and a traitor;
Trelawny in open rebellion, and suspected of tampering with the Turks, who were very anxious to get possession of the cave; but all this might have been forgiven, had they not previously been the personal foes of the Director-General of Western Greece.”

For the first twenty days after being wounded, I remained in the same place and posture, sitting and leaning against the rock, determined to leave everything to nature. I did not change or remove any portion of my dress, nor use any extra covering. I would not be bandaged, plastered, poulticed, or even washed; nor would I move or allow any one to look at my wound. I was kept alive by yolks of eggs and water for twenty days. It was forty days before there was any sensible diminution of pain; I then submitted to have my body sponged with spirit and water, and my dress partly changed. I was reduced in weight from thirteen stone to less than ten, and looked like a galvanised mummy. I was first tempted to try and
eat by seeing my Italian eating raw ham of a wild hog which I had shot and cured; by great effort I opened my mouth sufficiently to introduce a piece of the size of a shilling, notwithstanding the agony of moving my fractured jaw, and by degrees managed to devour it, and from that time gathered strength, I suppose from the affinity of our Saxon nature to hog; excepting coffee, I refused all wishy-washy or spoon-food and stuck to wild boar, which in turn stuck to me; it spliced my bones and healed my flesh, excepting my right arm, which was shrivelled up and paralysed.

In three months after I had been wounded, my hurts were healing, and my health returning, but my right arm was painful, withered, and paralysed, my only hope of regaining the use of it was to get the ball extracted; and for that purpose a surgeon was indispensable.

Ghouras had been nominated to the command of Eastern Greece, as the stipulated payment for his treachery to his former chief, but the Turks held all the plains. So we were environed with foes and closely watched, but my trusty and zealous friends the Klephtes, were always on the alert; nestling
with the eagles, amongst the most inaccessible crags by day, and coming down with the wolves at night, they supplied us with fresh provisions and kept us informed of everything that took place around. They even brought me a Klephtes surgeon, stipulating to kill him if he did not cure me; he made an incision with a razor under my breastbone, and poked about with his finger to find the ball but in vain; the Klephtes then proposed to escort me to any place I chose to go to for a Frank doctor, or to kidnap one at Athens, and bring him to me, and to leave their families as hostages. I had perfect faith in their probity, but lingered on hoping for a change. Soon after this, Zepare, one of their leaders, brought me news at night that his men were on the trail of a Frank, and they would bring him to me: he said a medico, for they believe all the Franks are more or less so, from their habit of carrying and giving medicines. The next morning a party of soldiers arrived escorting the Major who so astonished
Odysseus and the Turkish Bey at Talanta, by his eccentricity. I was even more surprised now than then at meeting him. It appeared he had never lost sight of me. When he
heard I was in peril, he made several unsuccessful attempts to come to me; he then took a cruise in search of the Commodore on the station,
Hamilton, and stated my case. Hamilton, always prompt in acts of humanity, insisted on the government’s not only permitting the Major to have free access to me, but that I should have liberty to embark in one of his ships, if I chose to do so. After some days of deliberation and consultation with Odysseus’ widow, and the inmates of the cave, I reluctantly agreed to take advantage of this favourable occasion; my trusty crew promised to remain at their posts until my return, or until the enemies of their former chief, then in power, were ousted, and then to be guided by circumstances. No sooner had I left than Ghouras closely invested the place. The eagerness of both the Greeks and Turks to possess the cave, arose from the stories current in that land of lies, of the fabulous treasures it contained. The cupidity of the Greeks was lashed up to frenzy; every stratagem their subtle wits could devise was tried; crouching behind every rock and tree, they kept up a continual fusillade; they might as well have fired at the man in the moon, as at the men in the moun-
tain—if they came too near, the Hungarian stopped them with a shower of grape from the cannon. Some months after when men and things were changed, the inmates of the cavern came to terms with some of the old friends of the late chief, who had always used their influence to protect the cave, as well they might, since much of the plunder they had accumulated during the war was deposited within it. If the Hungarian
Camerone had served in any other country than Greece in a time of war he would have ranked high, for he was a well-trained warrior, skilful, resolute and modest; he had been nearly two years in Greece, when I fell in with him at Missolonghi, serving without pay or promotion: noted he certainly was, for his valour had been conspicuous in many battles.