LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Conversations on Religion, with Lord Byron
Fifth Conversation

First Conversation
Kennedy on Scripture
Second Conversation
Third Conversation
Fourth Conversation
‣ Fifth Conversation
Memoir of Byron
Byron’s Character
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH


About a week after this I walked out to Metaxata, to visit Lord Byron; as I was entering the village, Count Gamba came up to me, on horseback, on his return from a ride, and told me his lordship was behind, in company with two Greek gentlemen. We entered the house, and in a few minutes Lord B. arrived, accompanied by Count Delladecima, of Cephalonia, and the celebrated Noto Botzaris, the Suliote, who since so distinguished himself as commander-in-chief of
Missolunghi during the whole of its memorable siege; and who, in conjunction with
Tzavellas, at the head of the Suliotes, forced his way through the army of the Turks, when the city was taken by storm. Botzaris was a fine-looking man, about fifty, and was richly dressed. His son, a smart-looking boy of fourteen, attended him; when Botzaris entered the room, his lordship said, pointing to a chair, Kαθέσετε Kυριε, Sit down, sir,” and then turning to me he said, “I have forgotten the little Greek I had learned.” Botzaris spoke in Greek, which was interpreted by Count Delladecima, in Italian, or French, in which the others present spoke; I never heard Lord Byron speak Greek, except the two words already mentioned. I may remark here, that he spoke Italian with great correctness, and purity, and with a pronunciation which differed little from that of a native. He spoke French also well, but he disliked the language, as well as the literature of that nation, as I heard him once say. The conversation turned on various subjects, but chiefly on the affairs of Greece; this was continued during dinner, which was shortly afterwards brought in. His lordship wished young Botzaris to sit down at table with us, but this the father
would not permit, so the boy was consigned to the care of
Fletcher. It is probable that the latter treated him with more wine than he was accustomed to drink, for after dinner, when he returned to the room, the young mountaineer entered with a lofty and erect air, which he retained, while his lordship was putting some questions to him. Lord Byron seemed much pleased with his noble bearing, and remarked to me, “That young spark, I fancy, would hold you and me in utter contempt, because we might have some compunctions in shooting a Turk, which to him would be an object of great delight, if he met him in a fit and safe situation on his native mountains.”

Shortly after dinner, Botzaris and Count Delladecima rose in order to return to Argostoli. In taking leave, Botzaris approached his lordship, and thanked him in his own name, and in that of the Greek nation, for the interest he took in their welfare, and the aid which his name and efforts would give to their sacred cause. He mentioned the eager desire which he and all his countrymen had to see his lordship in Greece, and the eternal gratitude the whole nation would always entertain for so great and noble a benefactor. The Count Delladecima interpreted the speech in Italian, to
which his lordship made a short but suitable reply, which, while the Count was interpreting to Botzaris, Lord Byron turned to me, and said, “These Greeks are excellent flatterers. I do not believe they care one farthing about me personally, though they would be very glad to get my money.”

They then departed, and Lord Byron and I sat down to the table, and had a conversation which lasted till sunset. I asked him when he intended to set off for Greece, he said, “he had not fixed the day yet, though he was making preparation for it, and must set off shortly.” I again expressed my regret that he was obliged to go, as I was afraid the scenes he would have there to enter into, would not contribute much to his health, or comfort, and that he would soon lose all relish and desire to prosecute the study of religion. He said, “that he was bound to go, that he would prefer staying, but that public duty, as well as what was expected from him, must force him to go. Besides,” he said, “I love the cause of liberty, which is that of the Greek nation, although I despise the present race of the Greeks, even while I pity them, I do not believe they are better than the Turks, nay, I believe that in many respects the Turks surpass them; and as for their being Chris-
tians, I do not know if there is much difference between the parties.” “Then,” I said, “I see your lordship is like others, a slave of circumstances. You do not so much live for yourself, as you live according to what others expect you should do.” “It is true,” he said, “there is a chain which binds us all, high and low, and our inclination and will must bend to the circumstances of our situation. However,” he said, “if I find I cannot do any good in allaying the animosities, and restoring some degree of unanimity to the contending parties, I shall not stay long in Greece; and after spending some money, and making some efforts, by my presence, to restore the public tranquillity, I shall have done all that can be expected from me, and shall then retire to some spot and lead a tranquil life.” I said, “I doubted if that would be the result; when your lordship is in the midst of the game, you will feel the same excitement as others, and the more so, as the stake at hazard is so important; and besides, your name and influence will be of too much importance to allow you to stand neutral, or even to permit you to judge with coolness. Some of the most cunning and dexterous of the parties will, by some means or other, gain you to their side, and
then your lordship will become interested in the cause as a party, and your own pride will prevent you from getting out of the trammels, into which circumstances will lead you.” “I know well,” he said, “that some of them will find out my weak side, but we must do the best we can, and if we fail, we shall get the praise of having had good intentions.”

“Do you know,” he said, “I am nearly reconciled to St. Paul, for he says, there is no difference between the Jews and the Greeks, and I am exactly of the same opinion, for the character of both is equally vile.” “This,” I answered, “is not St. Paul’s idea when he mentions, that there is no difference between the Jews and the Greeks. He means that God will pay no respect to the one, more than the other; that the Jew has no claim because he is a Jew, which the nation was apt to be proud of; but that the Greek would be as well received, if he embraced the Gospel as the Jew. But you mentioned this idea when you were dining at N’s., and I have heard that the conversation was of such a nature, and so gross, and licentious, about women and priests, that a married gentleman who was present was quite shocked, and nothing but the respect which he
had for you and his host prevented him from leaving the room.” “This is not fair,” he said, “in B. to say so. Our conversation was not so bad, and besides, N. was much worse than I was.” I said, “I did not know which was worst, but that it was a thing much to be lamented, to see men of such high rank and talents, not only so degrade themselves, but set such a bad example to others.”

“You must not despair of my conversion,” he said, “for all that, for you admit that I am a patient hearer; that I advance in my belief much farther than ——, and that my writings are not so bad as are generally apprehended, nor so gross as other satirists,—such as Juvenal, and even Pope.” I said, “I believe this must be admitted, but to a certain extent only; for the ancient satirists had an excuse in the gross manners and ignorance of the age, which your lordship has not; and as for Pope, admitting his language to be more gross than that of your lordship, yet Pope, while he was lashing the vices, never failed to praise the virtues. But your lordship may be said to do the one, while you seldom, if ever, do the other, as far as I recollect; and though your language may not be so gross, the poison of licen-
tiousness may be as dangerous, if not more so, in smooth, as in grosser language. But the worst things objected to your lordship, are the appearance of infidelity, and doubt of the Christian religion, which appear in your writings.” “Have you asked
D.” he said, “in what paper the account of the man is, who committed suicide after reading Cain?” I said, “I had, but that he could not remember the paper, though he assured me he had not the least doubt of having read it.” “I wish very much,” he said, “to see the paper; I was looking lately at the Examiner, and the accounts of the trial in which the editors of the Liberal are engaged.”

“I am astonished how your lordship associated with such a set (i. e. the writers in the Liberal). H., it must be admitted, is a man of talent, both as a poet and as a writer of prose; but he is an open and professed infidel; and when the public see your lordship connected with such people, giving them your poems,—attacking, not only the individual statesman, with such extraordinary language, but also the king himself, whose person and character ought, both by law and scripture, to be sacred; you must certainly excuse the public from believing, that as your lordship entertains
the same political sentiments, you entertain also the same principles of infidelity.” “Even here,” he said, “I am more hardly judged and dealt with, than I should be. I assure you, my connexion with these people originated from humanity. I found H. in Italy, with a large family, in circumstances which claimed my compassion. I gave him as much money as I could spare, and when I had no more to spare, I gave him some loose poems which I had by me, that he might make some money of them.” “You have certainly had a strange reward for your humanity,” I replied. “But the public only knows that there is a connexion, and that apparently an intimate one, and it has judged accordingly. But,” I said, “why not break off such a connexion. If you think with H. in all points of religion and politics, you do only what your conscience dictates in being his associate; but if you do not, why should you allow your character to be blackened without the least necessity, and when you could so easily prevent it. The sooner you do this the better. H. has set himself, not only against the church, but against all professors of religion. He is busy attacking the ceremonies of the Church, and he thinks he shall shake it, by col-
lecting all the errors and crimes of some unfortunate men who are its ministers; while he says nothing of those who adorn it by their example and conduct. Every man must admit and regret, that amidst so many clergymen, there are some who are unworthy of the character. H. has been lavish in the praise of a book called
Paul against Jesus; in which he insinuates that Paul was not an inspired follower or Apostle of Christ, but that he was some sort of intruder, and delivered doctrines contrary to that of his Master, and contradicted himself in the account of his conversion.” “Have you seen the book,” inquired his lordship. “No,” I replied, “I have not; but whatever it is, it could be satisfactorily refuted; and I mention it only to shew its character. He is also occupied in ridiculing Mr. Irving, who certainly, according to the extracts given from his writings, seems to deserve a little, from the affectation of his style and manner, and the too theatrical exhibition he makes in the pulpit; and above all, for the gross impropriety of mixing politics with his sermons.” “Well,” said his lordship, “I must do H. the justice to say, that he is sincere and conscientious in his opinions, that he would look down upon both
you and me with contempt, as men not sufficiently enlightened to perceive the truth. He conscientiously believes what he says.” “He has,” I rejoined, “as much right to think for himself as others, but he is not able to discern the truth, either in politics or religion, and his preconceived opinions prevent him from judging rightly, or reasoning fairly. He represents Christians as credulous, simple, or fanatics; his eyes are open to their faults and shut to their virtues, and he represents orthodox believers, as a sort of sect which has just arisen to disturb the peace of society, and oppose the confirmed opinion of enlightened and educated men. There must be a bitterness and enmity of heart against the system, which blinds his judgment, otherwise he must know that Christianity is 1800 years old, and that the sect of Freethinkers is an innovation upon it. He certainly takes great liberties, but this is I suppose in consistency with his Radical creed; he makes very free with your lordship: many years ago when I first saw his poem of ‘
Rimini,’ I wondered at his vanity, or his radicalism, in accosting you with the address of ‘My dear Byron.’” Here his lordship smiled. “I pay,” I said, “no blind respect to rank, or name by itself, nor can any
philosopher do so; but established as society is, I conceive that no independent mind will improperly step out of his own rank, and station, for if he interferes with that of others, he exposes himself to be kicked down to his own place with contempt, or retains, by the tolerance of others, what is not properly his due. I ascribed this to vanity then, but it may be simply the point of radicalism, which sees no difference between a peer and the printer of a public paper, who is an infidel; and your lordship has a foretaste of what your associates will do. If they cannot raise themselves up to you, they will bring you down to them. In the same manner the Whigs have degraded themselves and their cause, by befriending these radicals. I do not understand how a nobleman who derives his distinction from the Crown, can unite himself with such people; and however philosophically some may affect to look on the distinction derived from titles, I suspect nobody despises it, except those who have it not; and this alone, independently of other circumstances, has surprised me, that your lordship has united yourself with such people; you cannot be a Radical in your heart.”

“No; I am not,” he said, “all I have done is to
expose the errors and vices of the great, in order that it might lead to their amendment. And as to
H., I respect him as a man of talent and sincerity, though I am far from agreeing with him in all things, and I cannot desert him now that he is in trouble on my account. But,” continued his lordship, “you must concede, that he has just ground for inveighing against the abuses both of Church and State. There are too many in both, for an honest man to witness and remain silent, and if he write at all, he must write what is the truth. How many fox-hunting, card-playing, and dancing, and fiddling parsons have I known, and some who do still worse; and look how the immense revenues of the Church are squandered on a few, while the bulk remain oppressed by poverty. Surely you must wish to see them reformed. Lady B.,” he continued, “has just written to me, to ask my presentation of a church, to a person who is not well fitted, in my opinion, for the charge, as he is too much a man of the world. The presentation, in fact, belongs to her, and not to me, although she has politely asked me, as if it depended on my will. I have written to her that certainly the person might have it if she pleased.”


I replied, “I should be glad to see these abuses remedied, and I believe most sober Christians would. But when Radicals, and Infidels, take this reformation in hand, the abuses are likely to be perpetuated, for all honest men will prefer that matters should stand as they are, rather than join themselves with Radicals, who would be very glad to see the Church quite pulled down, and who have, it may be presumed, no wish to see another built in its stead.”

“I respect,” said Lord B., “every faithful minister of the Church, who honestly and fairly does the duty for which he is paid,—but I cannot value their Christian charity, and humility, when so many of them inveigh against me from their pulpits.”

“I blame every clergyman,” I replied, “who would notice you particularly from the pulpit, but it may be pleaded in their behalf, that it is from sorrow and pity they blame you, from as wish to see you reformed, and from apprehension of the consequences which your example and influence may produce on others; and, should you reform, the delight they would feel would prove to you that it was not rancour nor censoriousness
which dictated the expression of their regrets or reproaches.”

“Have you seen the Quarterly Review?” he asked; “I do not think I am so well treated there as by Jeffrey. The article, I believe, is written by Heber; I was indulgently treated by Gifford. He was very kind to me, and as long as he has the management of the Review, I may hope for a continuance of kindness.” I said, “I had seen it, and that I thought all the literary publications treated him with unusual gentleness, in hope of his reformation, and from respect to his high talents.” I added, “This is indeed the best way, as a contrary method would only tend to irritate your pride, and make you worse—not better. I must not, however, omit to state a cause for this gentleness. The men who conduct these Reviews have not so deep a sense of religion as the clergymen who attack you. They see less harm in your freethinking principles, in your infidelity, and in your want of religion.”

“The ‘Quarterly,’ it is true, staunchly stands up for the Church as it is, and, it must be confessed, deserves praise for a higher tone of religion and morality than the ‘Edinburgh:’ this I appre-
hend, however, proceeds more from policy than sentiment. But from whatever motive it may proceed, it deserves praise, and I am pleased to see that it is a greater favourite with all good men than the Edinburgh. Had the Edinburgh united to the extraordinary talents, which the early writers of that work displayed, a proper sense of religion, it would have continued unexampled in celebrity and influence; but it justly lost both, by the foolish and boyish admiration which it invariably expressed for French infidel literature, by its unbounded admiration for our own infidel authors, and by the attacks which it directly or indirectly made upon Christians, such as appear in their
review of Missions in the East. They have given cause for suspicion of their orthodoxy, and their writings, together with the circumstance that so many of our English modern reformers, and Radicals are infidels, or indifferent to religion, have tended to bring even the genuine principles of Whigs, which I believe they sincerely profess and act upon, into contempt and disrepute. In political economy, and in literary and scientific criticism, they continue unrivalled; in historical criticism, and in religious feeling, they are far inferior to the Quarterly.”


I then inquired whether he had looked into my paper on the doctrine of eternal punishments. “No,” he said, “I must confess I have not,—something or other always comes in the way; but that, and the other books, I intend to peruse diligently, though I fear I shall not have time to do so before I go to Greece; but I shall take care to send them all to you before I go, whether I read them or not.”

“You need not do that,” I replied. “On the contrary, I wish you to take them with you. Though the Bible is the best book, and deserves chiefly to be studied, yet those few I have sent may not be without some use; and when your lordship has perused them, and has no further occasion for them, you can give them to others, as there are few religious books in this part of the world. I have also brought you another book, which I should be glad that you would peruse,—it is Jones on the Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity. You will find here, that the doctrine of three persons in one Godhead is as unequivocally and as distinctly revealed as any other doctrine, and must be received, whatever difficulties may arise to an inquisitive and
speculative mind. I have brought it, because I understand that your lordship has misunderstood me in what I formerly said about the Trinity,—either because I expressed myself obscurely, or from your want of familiarity with the subject. I should be sorry that you should suppose any doctrine of religion which I believed was new, or peculiar to myself. I believe precisely what all the Protestant Churches believe, and what every sound-minded Christian of every denomination believes. There are no discoveries to be made in religion: all the improvement must be in an increase of piety, charity, and brotherly love, and in a correction of every abuse,—whether arising from speculative opinions, or external discipline and human ceremonies, which time or ignorance have introduced into the public devotion of Christians. In this book, which your lordship can study with advantage, at your leisure, you will find what I, with all real Christians, believe, on this prime and fundamental doctrine of Christianity.”

Lord B. took the book and said, he would deliberately read it. “But,” added he, “I do not remember that I said to any one that I did not understand your doctrine of the Trinity, or be-
lieved it to be peculiar.” “Yes, you did,” I replied; “but as you, perhaps, said so inadvertently, it will be sufficient if you examine the subject as you find it here,—comparing, if you please, each verse with your Bible.”

“Do you continue to read your Bible?” I asked. “I do,” he said, “every day.” “Do you add prayer to it?” “No,” he said, “I am not so far advanced; and, as I said before, you must give me time.”

“Well,” I said, “we must be contented, and hope for the best; but it is singular that people should be so ashamed to pray to their Creator and Preserver, since it is a duty which even natural religion teaches, and one without which no one can understand the Scriptures. If men were convinced of their own sinfulness and of their need of a Saviour, not a moment would be lost till it had been ascertained whether or not the Christ revealed in the Scriptures is the Saviour. Delay is dangerous. No person knows when death may arrest him, and call him before the throne of his Judge. I have sent your lordship Erskine’s work on the Internal Evidences of Religion. I had not an English copy; I have therefore sent you a French one, translated, it is said, by the Duchess
de Broglie.” “I read it,” said his lordship, “some time ago, and I think it very good, as far as it goes.”

“I would advise your lordship,” added I, “when you study your Bible, to get some good commentary to read with it; such, for example, as Scott’s. I do not mean that you should believe, or receive without examination, what any commentator says; for, however pious and learned, a commentator is not inspired, and many therefore err. Unfortunately, many people study religion only as a science, and examine it with all the faculties of their mind, while their heart is little affected. Were it a mere system of philosophy, this might be well: but it is a matter of life and death,—of eternal salvation or misery; and every one should study the subject with a deep and constant feeling of this great truth. Your lordship confesses that you are not happy, from the want of having your opinions on religion fixed. You say you wish to be convinced of the truth of what orthodox Christians believe,—you are ready to hear and read what they say. Take care, then, if you value your own salvation, that you act upon these feelings, and while life is preserved, lose no time.”


“I have had letters from England,” said Lord B., “which mention that Ada has been unwell,—she is now better. Her complaint was a determination of blood to the head: what is the cause of it at her age?” “This depends on various causes, and I could not pretend to judge what the cause is in her case, unless I saw her.” “Do you,” asked he, “think that such a complaint is habitual?” “No, it is not necessarily so,” I replied. “It is curious,” he answered, “that it is a complaint to which I myself am subject.”

“I could easily suppose so,” I said, “from your mode of life, and habits of study,—irregular, but intense; and I think I could have inferred so from the state of your eyes. Your right eye appears inflamed.” “That is from having read a good deal of late; but it will easily be removed, when I remove the cause. Ada,” he continued, “is, I understand, very fond of reading. She lies on the sofa great part of the day reading, and displays, perhaps, a premature strength of mind, and quickness of understanding.” “I hope,” I rejoined, “that her inclination for acquiring knowledge will not be pushed too far, to the injury of her health, or even to the exhaustion of her intellectual
powers, as is too often done by foolish and fond parents.”

“I hope not,” said Lord B.; “and I am sure that I can rely on Lady B.’s judgment and discretion*.”

“Do you know, my Lord,” I said, “that I hope ere long to see the day when your lordship will again be united to Lady B., and enjoy all the happiness of domestic life, instead of following your present wandering and unsettled state, so unsuitable to one of your rank and station.”

“What makes you think so? Have you had any private information?” asked Lord B. “No,” I replied; “I judge from circumstances, which I will mention, if they are not likely to offend your lordship.”

“By all means, tell me what they are.” “I judge from the style in which you spoke of Lady B.,—when we were talking of whom we would save, at a former conversation,—that your affection for her is not extinguished by absence, nor by all

* One day Colonel D. rode out with Lord Byron, when an infant from fright fell; Lord B. got off his horse with great anxiety, and, raising it, took it to his arms: it was a soldier’s child. He said in a hurried manner, “I cannot bear to look at an English child, I am so reminded of my own, whom I have not seen for along time.”

that has happened; that, in fact, she is not indifferent to you.”

“If I said anything disrespectful of Lady B., I am very much to blame. Lady B. deserves every respect from me, and certainly nothing could give me greater pleasure than a reconciliation.”

“With such sentiments, how is it possible that a separation has taken place, or how is it that a reunion cannot be effected? Under such circumstances, neither you nor she can be happy; and the cause must be singular, which two persons of such rank and understanding cannot find out and remove.”

“I do not, indeed, know the cause of separation,” said Lord B. “I know that many falsehoods have been spread abroad,—such as my bringing actresses to my house,—but they were all false. Lady B. left me without explaining the cause. I sent Hobhouse to her, who almost went on his knees,—but in vain: and at length I wished to institute an action against her, that it might be seen what were her motives.”

“Perhaps,” I said, “Lady B. is to be commended. No wife, from motives of delicacy, would like the public to be acquainted with the
causes of her sorrow and grief, in circumstances where her husband was concerned; and if she acted under misapprehension, or bad influence, it was your lordship’s duty to have acted in such a way as in time to remove this.”

“What could I have done? I did everything at the time that could be done, and I am, and have always been, ready for a reconciliation.” “I think your lordship could have done many things, and some of them better than you did. In the first place, it was wrong to give such publicity to a domestic misunderstanding, by poems, however beautiful and pathetic; but before I tell you what you might have done, let me ask you what would you not have done, when you were paying your addresses to Lady B.? Would any task have appeared too severe for you? Would you not have compassed sea and land, and gone to the uttermost parts of the earth, in order to obtain her hand?” “I would,” said his lordship. “Well, and how is it that you cannot do the same to regain the suspended affections of one who is dearer, as she is nearer, than she ever was when you were her lover,—of your wife, and the mother of your child? Instead of leaving your
country in a pet, and living retiredly in a country so grossly immoral as Italy, and thus affording just grounds to Lady B. and others, for suspecting the purity of your manners, and at least furnishing strong grounds for the tales (calumnies they may be) which were spread against you,—could you not have remained in England, where your conduct would have been open to her inspection? Could you not have taken up your abode near her, in whatever place she moved to, and so lived as to satisfy her in time, and compel her to acknowledge that she had wronged you, and that she had acted from misapprehension?” His lordship smiled, and said, “All this is very fine,—but it would have had no effect. Everything was done that could be reasonably done, and it was unsuccessful; and I have remained, and I shall always remain, ready for a reconciliation with Lady B., whenever circumstances open and point out the way to it.”

Talking of Count Gamba and of Dr. Bruno, he praised them both. He said, “the former wrote Italian with elegance, and Bruno would become distinguished in his profession. He judged so, because he had so much enthusiasm for it; as he never knew any one arrive at
eminence in anything, unless he had an enthusiasm for it.”

We again adverted to religious subjects, and I expressed my hope that his lordship would fix his attention on them more than he had ever done, as they concerned him more deeply than the fame of poetry, or the still more noble object he had in view—the assistance he was about to give to an oppressed nation. “I have endeavoured,” I said, “to do my duty. I have spoken plainly and sincerely, because I felt for your situation,—a feeling increased by the honour you have conferred on me, and your desire to hear me, and the patience you have exhibited. If I have failed in the respect due to you, forgive it. I have, perhaps, pressed the matter too eagerly, but this proceeded from my desire for your welfare; from the impression of not having other opportunities, and from the fear that these are subjects which, situated as you are, you will not be often annoyed with.”

Lord B. said, “he considered himself obliged to me for what I had done; for the sincerity with which I had spoken, and for the evident interest I had shewn for what I considered his danger. I am satisfied,” he said, “that you are not animated by the desire merely of making a noble convert.
I have had too much reason to distrust the motives of those who wished to convert me, nor am I inclined to rely much on the sincerity of flaming professors, whose zeal might well enough be ascribed to popular ambition or applause, and the delight they have in becoming the leaders of the fanatic or the vulgar, such as
Wesley or Whitfield,—whose motives may, in some degree at least, be justly suspected.”

I said, “While I am grateful to your lordship for this good opinion of me, it is proper to say, that in neither case do you reason fairly. For aught that you know, I am but waiting a proper opportunity of playing what you call the same part as Wesley or Whitfield, and either circumstances, or want of ability, may prevent me. It cannot, surely, be a proof against piety and virtue, that good arises to those who practise both,—or that, when these are displayed in an eminent degree, the admiration of others follows them, and a just celebrity attends them. This is a connexion as strict and certain, as that pain or punishment invariably follows sin and guilt.”

“It may be so,” replied Lord B., “but I judge you to be sincere, and not actuated by ambitious motives, while I see you contented, and happy,
and using no means which others in your situation would have done, to raise yourself into public notice, from motives of ambition, and vainglory.”

“Has your lordship seen the life of Wesley, by Southey?” “No, I have not; have you?” “No, but I should like to see how he represents the character ofWesley. Though Southey is a man who believes in Christianity, and is what the world calls a good man, I doubt whether he is able to comprehend some parts of Wesley’s conduct, which to a mere scholar must appear fanatical. I understand from some, who have seen the work, that it is much better than was to have been expected, which is highly creditable to Southey, though still I do not believe that he is capable of doing justice to the Methodists. I am not a Methodist myself, nor have I been in their chapels, but I have a high respect for this zealous body, and though they are the most despised of all the Christian denominations, yet there is reason to believe that they are the best Christians, since they have been the means of doing so much good. I think Wesley one of the worst divines, in many doctrinal points, though he was certainly a man of ability; but that he was substantially a sound
Christian, must be willingly granted; and what is extraordinary, his zeal for God, his unexampled industry, labour, self-denial, and charity, have raised him to a higher rank, which he will maintain, than any bishop, or indeed any divine, that England has ever produced.

“I believe that the Methodists erred in their relations of too wonderful conversions, nor was the distinction made between the effects of the powerful preaching of the Gospel on the bodily frame, and the real and permanent affection of the hearer by the power of God; but these circumstances no longer attend the preaching of this body of Christians, whose labours extend to all corners of the globe, and to people whom other Christians had overlooked. Wesley, I think, was much inferior to Whitfield, though he has been more fortunate in obtaining a higher fame.

“I was once dining with a gentleman, who after dinner rather unexpectedly asked, ‘What are the grounds on which you ‘New Lights’ believe that you are influenced by the Holy Spirit, and what is the evidence by which you convince others, who have never felt such an influence, that you are possessed of it?’”

“Well,” said Lord Byron, “this was a sensible
and pertinent question; what answer did you make?” “We had a long conversation on the subject, and many things were said on both sides, which I do not now recollect.”

“But did you convince him?” “No,” I replied, “it is not so easy to convince people on such points.” “I should, however, like to know what answers you could make to such a question.”

“To one who knows the Scriptures, and has felt their power, the answer would be easy and satisfactory; but to those who do not believe, no answer, however demonstrative, can be satisfactory. It is as though one were to talk of colours to a man born blind; or to expect that a man who has no musical ear should derive pleasure from a succession of sweet sounds. A sober friend of mine one day gave me his opinion of religious people. ‘In my opinion,’ he sad, ‘religion is like any other thing. Some are attached to it, because they have a taste for it; others care nothing about it, merely because they have no taste for it; as one man has a taste for music and another has not; therefore, let everybody follow his own taste, and not trouble those that have no sympathy with it.’ Another gentleman gave it as his opinion, that the serious
people called ‘Blue Lights,’ ‘Saints,’ and Methodists, were in general of weak and timid minds, who required something to allay their superstitious fears respecting a futurity.’”

“Well, but what answer have you to make to the question proposed?” “The answer is twofold. The Scriptures reveal a person of the Deity, called the Holy Spirit of God, the Comforter. We find this Spirit in various parts of Scripture called God, and performing the works of God; Creation is ascribed to him. The Apostles and Prophets wrote as inspired by Him. The whole name and attributes of the Godhead are applied to Him. In John iii., which I formerly read to you, regeneration is declared to be the work of the Spirit; and sanctification is also His work, going on towards perfection, until the man enters into the glorified state. Therefore, though many cannot know the exact period of their conversion, and in others it appears more immediate, yet there are few but must be aware of the fact, that a change has taken place in their conduct, feelings, principles of action, and affections, which, while it includes moral reformation, comprehends something greater. This change they feel not to have been brought about by them-
selves; not to be the result of good resolutions, nor of moral suasion, nor of satiety in sin, nor from the mere love of virtue for its own sake; taught by the Scriptures, they refer it to the Holy Spirit. Hence they have an evidence within themselves that they have been influenced by the Holy Spirit. This influence acts always in concurrence with reason, and never against it. Though this evidence is satisfactory in itself, it is confirmed by the fact, that real Christians in every age, of every sect, have given their testimony of having experienced the same supernatural operations.

“To the second part of the question, ‘what evidence is there to convince others who have never felt it?’ the answer is equally obvious. 1st. The evidence of Scripture; 2nd. The evidence of real Christians, who are unanimous in bearing the same testimony; and 3rd. The conduct of those Christians, which is consistent with their professions. A man may set aside the first evidence as being of no weight; the second he may ascribe to mental weakness, superstition, and delusion; and the third he may deny as proving nothing but what may arise from mere moral reformation. That those who have never felt the influence of regeneration on their own minds may reason thus is too often
exemplified, and is much to be lamented; but the question arises, ‘Do they, in these conclusions, act upon those sound principles of philosophical and logical reasoning which they profess to know, better than those whom they ridicule?’ Now I apprehend that, so far from doing so, they violate them all. First, they doubt the existence of a feeling, because they never experienced it. Secondly, they coolly reject the united testimony of Christians of every age, sect, condition, degree of talents and accomplishments, who must, in their opinion, have perjured themselves on this point, or at least have been deceived. But the evidence of these persons they will receive on every other subject except religion; and on what principle of human nature can they account for a deception so uniform and similar, among so many whose ages, education, habits of thinking, and acquirements in other respects are so different? such evidence would be decisive on every other point, and would be by all acknowledged. Why is it rejected? Simply, because those who reject it have never felt this power in religion; they confess that they have it not: but do they reason logically, when they deny that this power has been felt by others, who assert that they have felt it?


“The result is, many people say they have felt this influence: others deny it, because they have never felt it. The integrity of the parties being equal, upon the plainest rule of logic, the affirmative evidence must prevail over the negative, unless, which is not yet done, causes of error and deception in the affirmative be demonstrated. Thus, treating it as a mere subject of reasoning, the evidence is sufficient in itself to satisfy every candid and impartial mind; and when to this is added the express testimony of Scripture, we must indeed be destitute of reason to hesitate one moment which party is in the right. Real Christians could do more; they could shew that their opponents are incapable of judging on the subject, and that their minds are clouded by prejudice, contempt, and enmity: while all the ingenuity of these opponents cannot, on any principle of reasoning, solve the singular phenomenon of such a series of uniform yet varied testimony.

“We do not expect that they will be convinced by our argument, but we can point out to them the means by which their judgment can be enlightened, and their prejudices removed. We can refer them to God the Creator, Christ the
Saviour, and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Sanctifier, whose operations on their heart will enable them to see the truth, which is now hid from them, and whose enlightening influences are invariably given to every one who will properly use the means.”

We then began to talk on other subjects, and at last poetry was talked of. I said, “A lady in Argostoli had expressed to me, how much it is to be regretted that your lordship has not chosen some other subjects for your works, especially for some of your tragedies. She thinks that the scene of a tragedy laid in Babylon during the Jews’ captivity there, would give full and irreproachable scope for all your powers.”

“I am tired of tragedies, having so completely failed in them, as they say; but does the lady you allude to write poetry?” I said, “She wrote a little for her own amusement, and as the subject I had just mentioned had struck her, she had amused herself by sketching out a few scenes, till it occurred to her that it would be an excellent subject for your lordship, and draw you from others which might afford room for objection.”

“Bring it,” said his lordship, “and shew me what the lady has written, and I shall consider the
subject, and whether I engage in it or not, I shall feel obliged if you can allow me to look at it.” I said, “I was not sure that I could succeed; but if it was in my power, I would bring it the next time I came.”