LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Conversations on Religion, with Lord Byron
Francesco Bruno to James Kennedy, 18 May 1824

First Conversation
Kennedy on Scripture
Second Conversation
Third Conversation
Fourth Conversation
Fifth Conversation
Memoir of Byron
Byron’s Character
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Zante, May 18th, 1824.
Dear Sir,

I congratulate you on your project of publishing the religious conversations which you had with the honourable Lord Byron, of excellent memory; but I regret that I am not able to give further information respecting his intentions about Methodism, except that he was not decidedly attached to it, although he manifested
esteem for it, and especially for you, whom he considered as one of the most honest and excellent men that can be found.

I would tell you rather, that there scarcely passed a day which was not marked by some act of beneficence, in which the poor and the unhappy ever presented themselves at his lordship’s door without being certain of having the balm of consolation; that among the other fine qualities which adorned his lordship, predominated that of a compassionate heart, and a feeling beyond measure for the miserable and the unfortunate, and that his purse was always open in their favour. It is unnecessary for me to speak of his restoring to their country those Turks, amounting to twenty-five; this was entirely his own work; nor shall I notice to you the expenses he incurred, or his intentions with respect to the education of that little Turk and her mother, whom you were to have received, but who unfortunately wished to return to Prevesa, where the father of the child was. When any poor person was seriously sick, either by a fall or fracture, or other causes, my lord, without being asked, immediately sent me to these unhappy people to cure them, furnished them with medicines, and every other necessary assistance. He was one of the first in Missolunghi who gave money for establishing an hospital. Lord B. loved justice above all things, and would not tolerate a falsehood even in jest. He was endowed with a sincerity without example, and was tolerant in the highest degree in matters of religion. His benefactions in Cephalonia you know
sufficiently well. Those numerous instances of benevolence exhibited in Italy, and in other places, you will learn from
Fletcher, and from Count Gamba. With respect to the reading of the sacred Scriptures, it appears to me that he was occupied with it, since he kept it along with other books on his study table. I cannot tell you more, but I will confirm the truths which you shall write on this high personage, in order to increase his fame and glory.

With pleasure, however, 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, and among the most enthusiastic, for its political tendency to the public good*. Since I see in Methodism the united advantages of all other religions; and that which is of the greatest importance, and in which the churches with all their pomp, their monks, their priests, their religious ceremonies and other things are deficient—which, moreover, cost the

* Be it remembered that this term is his own, for I do not think Dr. K. ever used it; it is a word imported by the English among the Italians and other foreigners. It is evidently here used in a favourable sense, though too often the English apply it in ridicule of those who will not go to the same excess with themselves: lately, however, it has been found not emphatic enough, and the word “Saint” is now introduced to supply the defect. In the mind of Dr. Bruno, the term Methodism, or strict discipline, does not appear to be associated with any thing narrow, vulgar, or bigoted; indeed his admiration for the system, as he called it, is fully expressed.

people immense sums, that employed in other better work would be productive of the greatest advantage to the cause of humanity; that in this (“System—i. e. Methodism”) is wanting that numerous herd of friars, and priests, and other like drones, which form an imperium in imperio, and who, by all the means in their power, protect tyrants.

These men would lose much of their power, if the people were all Methodists, and vice versâ, people would make a vast acquisition towards liberty, by believing in the pure Gospel. On this account, especially, I have made other Methodists, and am busily occupied in increasing the number; and those whom I cannot persuade, or sufficiently convince with reasoning, and with proofs from the sacred Scriptures, and from the New Testament, I lead to Methodism by this political way, so beautiful and so good. But that which is most curious, is, that whilst I wish to convince others, and to bring them, as you call it, “into the good way,” I convince even myself more deeply, and become the more ardent for this noble and advantageous reformation.

I do not speak to you of the death of the worthy Lord Byron, in order not to irritate a wound which is sufficiently painful of itself. Let it suffice to mention, that there were two powerful causes of his death. A young English doctor, who, in order to make his court and please my lord, (who was repugnant to blood-letting,) opposed himself always to my warm entreaties, that blood should be drawn, and ridiculed the threat and the
prognostic which I made to Lord B. of his certain death, if he did not permit himself to be copiously bled. The other, an
individual in a responsible charge, (but most vulgar in his condition, and manners, and customs,) who two or three times a day visited Lord B., always repeating to him, “Do not listen to the physicians, eat, drink, do not let them touch your blood, and do what I tell you, I who am better than all the doctors”—this person is now fled from Missolunghi. In my heavy grief I shall always have the sweet consolation of knowing, that every individual of his lordship’s household, and all those who approached his Excellency, make ample testimony, and render me justice; as do, indeed, the English doctor, and two other consulting physicians, who all affirm that if my lord had adhered to my treatment alone, he would have been still certainly in life. The sad termination of Lord B.’s disease, and the most manifest signs of inflammation which were found on the brain, fully verify my prognostics; while on the other hand, the three other doctors were greatly astonished at the gross mistake which they had made in the diagnosis, cure, and prognosis of the disease, which they always asserted to be good, even to the last moments; so that whilst I cried that my lord was in a profound coma and near his end, they were so blind that they said he was in a deep sleep, which would prove useful to the salutary crisis which they went on prognosticating.

Accept my compliments, and present the same to your respected consort; to Mr. Muir, and to Count Della-
decima, to whom I pray you to read these few things respecting the malady of my lord. May you continue in good health, preserve for me your friendship, and believe me to be always

Your very affectionate and sincere friend,
(Signed)  Francisco Bruno*.
Dr. Kennedy.