LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter I

‣ 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
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
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Arrival at Corfu—Introduction to Lord Byron—His view of Greek affairs—Conversation of Lord Byron with Dr. Knox on religious subjects—Intrigues of the Greek chiefs to acquire Lord Byron’s favour and confidence.

I arrived at Asso, a small port in the island of Cephalonia, early in November, 1823, in company with Baron Von Quass, a Prussian officer of distinction and of considerable merit; Lieutenant Kindermann, who, led by a desire of serving the Greeks, had given up his commission in the Prussian artillery; and a young Saxon, of the name of Fels, who was returning to Greece in the hope of avenging the death of his twin-brother, who had fallen by his side during the glorious, though unfortunate, affair at Petta.

Being, like many others, bearers of a letter of recommendation from the London Greek Committee to Lord Byron—who, as we were informed, was on the eve of his departure for Greece—we hastened to Ar-
gostoli, whence we forwarded it to Metaxata, a village at a few miles’ distance, in which, since his arrival in Cephalonia’, he had taken up his abode.

The next day, Count Gamba, a young nobleman of Ravenna, who acted as secretary to Lord Byron, came to inform us, that his lordship had come down from the country, and desired to see us. We proceeded accordingly to the Lazaretto, where he received us with the greatest affability, exhibiting the most gentlemanly and elegant manners, bordering perhaps a little on affectation, but not to be surpassed by the most finished courtier. After commending our zeal in favour of the Greek cause, and expressing his readiness to assist us to the utmost of his power, he added, that we would not, he trusted, as many had done, ascribe his prolonged stay in Cephalonia to any diminution of Philhellenism; he had remained here because, notwithstanding the repeated assurances he had received, and the promise he had made of advancing a loan of twenty thousand dollars, the long-expected division of the Greek fleet, which was to raise the blockade of Mesolonghi, had not yet made its appearance. He also waited for the arrival of the deputies, which he had engaged the Greek government to appoint, in order to negotiate a national loan in England, wishing to have private conferences with them on this most important measure. To hasten their departure, and obtain at the same time a correct report on the state of things in the Morea, he had sent to that country Mr. Hamilton Browne, a gentleman highly qualified for the task. He flattered himself, he could not have acted more in conformity with the best interests of Greece than he had hitherto done; and it was his intention, he said, to depart for that country the moment the objects, he had mentioned, should be completely fulfilled.


He assured the German gentlemen, that he would give them letters of recommendation to the Greek government; though he felt it a duty to confess to them plainly his apprehensions, that the Greeks were not in a sufficient state of mental improvement to appreciate either their merits as military men, or the value of their services. In spite of what they had been given to understand in Europe, he feared that their acquirements would prove as unavailing to Greece, for the present, as a bridle would be to one possessing neither saddle nor horse. They would find the country agitated by civil broils and the thousand evils of anarchy, and the mind of every one absorbed by the petty passions, arising from the most absolute egotism. He dwelt in most feeling terms on the disappointment, met with by almost every Philhellene; described the miserably forlorn condition in which they returned from a land, in the defence of which they had often exposed their lives, endured the severest privations, and lost the greater part of their companions in arms. “If, gentlemen,” continued he, “you allow yourselves to be influenced by the same illusory ideas, which have led so many others to take a step, of which they repented as soon as reality taught them on how false a basis they had grounded their hopes, you cannot but expect to share the same fate. Yet, if you deem yourselves capable of serving Greece in spite of the Greeks, you might do well to venture on the career, which you propose to run. On the other hand, should you feel the love you bear towards so unfeeling a mistress, not to be proof against the thousand crosses, which inevitably await it, let prudence caution you in time to renounce so misplaced an attachment.”

Thoroughly imbued as we were with enthusiastic ideas in favour of the Greeks, that were then prevalent
in England, we could not but feel the most grievous disappointment, on hearing observations so completely at variance with our fondest expectations and the statements, on which we had been taught to rely; and what rendered them the more impressive was the quarter from which they proceeded;
Lord Byron being considered by us as a chivalrous friend of the cause.

I had afterwards repeated opportunities of observing, that, on every occasion before strangers, he sought to prove, that in the part he had undertaken, his conduct was influenced rather by prudence and judgment than by any romantic disposition; while before those, whom he treated with familiarity, he delighted in indulging the natural bent of his mind for adventurous and extraordinary undertakings. Addressing himself to me in particular, he wished me to remain in Cephalonia till he himself should embark for Greece. My professional services, he said, would always be valued in a country where there was a great dearth of medical men; and where the name of doctore was the best, or rather the only, introduction for a Frank; and he promised to employ me in the corps of troops, he proposed taking into his service on his arrival in that country.

In consequence of his invitation I soon after went to Metaxata, where I remained several days. On my arrival, I found him on the balcony of the house, wrapt in his Stewart tartan cloak, with a cap on his head, which he affected to wear as the Scotch bonnet, attentively contemplating the extensive and variegated view before him, terminated by the blue mountains of Ætolia, Acarnania, and Achaia. The valley below the village is highly luxuriant, and even at this advanced epoch of the year was covered with verdure, and embellished by the evergreen olive, orange and
lemon trees, and cypresses towering above the never-fading laurel and myrtle. Like an oasis in the sandy desert, its aspect produced the most pleasing impression on the eye, weary of the barren and cheerless rocks of Cephalonia.

Being on the point of taking his usual ride, he invited me to accompany him. Greece and the London Committee formed, till our return, the principal topics of conversation. After I had, to the best of my power, satisfied his curiosity by answering the questions he put to me, he said, that notwithstanding the talents of most of its members, he could not help apprehending, that the well-meaning endeavours of the Committee would be attended with very limited success; because their impatience of being useful to the Greeks induced them to act before a competent knowledge had been acquired of their moral disposition and real wants. If they allowed themselves to be guided by Bellier’s report, they could not avoid falling into the most egregious errors. Had they taken a correct view of the state of things, they would not have sent, as they had lately done, cavalry and infantry officers to Greece, much less have determined on establishing a laboratory. By acting thus, they not only wasted the funds, intrusted to their care by the public, and drew blame and ridicule on their proceedings, but materially injured the cause, they sought to serve, and occasioned the misfortune of those deluded young men, who placed confidence in their fair but unwarranted assurances. The most essential service, the London Committee could confer upon Greece, would be to exert their influence in facilitating the negotiation of the intended loan; for on the well-directed employment of this aid entirely depended the prosperity of the country both at home and abroad. The sums raised
by private subscription could, comparatively speaking, be of trifling avail, and, at any rate, would be much more beneficial if spent upon the spot by prudent agents, instead of being devoted in England to the relief of wants that, for the most part, are imaginary, or the least urgent.

Having, in the course of conversation, often expressed my surprise at the prodigious difference between his notions with regard to the Greek character and those prevalent in England, he said, “This should not surprise you, for I know this nation by long and attentive experience, while in Europe they judge it by inspiration. The Greeks are perhaps the most depraved and degraded people under the sun, uniting to their original vices both those of their oppressors, and those inherent in slaves. Breaking asunder the frail shackles, which checked their immorality, the late revolution has given the amplest scope to the exhibition of their real character; and it stands to reason, that it must have placed in a more glaring light the melancholy picture of their utter worthlessness. Even under the wisest government, the regeneration of a nation can only be the difficult work of time; and certainly none can be less easily improvable than this.”

As I expressed my astonishment how, having so unfavourable an opinion of the Greeks, he should have determined on leaving the comforts of peaceable life to devote his time, talents, and fortune, nay, if necessary, his very existence, for their sake, he replied, after a long pause, “Heartily weary of the monotonous life I had led in Italy for several years; sickened with pleasure; more tired of scribbling than the public, perhaps, is of reading my lucubrations; I felt the urgent necessity of giving a completely new direction to the course of my ideas; and the active,
dangerous, yet glorious scenes of the military career struck my fancy, and became congenial to my taste. I came to Genoa; but far from meditating to join the Greeks, I was on the eve of sailing for Spain, when, informed of the overthrow of the Liberals, and the desperate state of things in that country, I perceived it was too late to join
Sir R. Wilson;—and then it was, in the unmanageable delirium of my military fever, that I altered my intention, and resolved on steering for Greece. After all, should this new mode of existence fail to afford me the satisfaction I anticipate, it will at least present me with the means of making a dashing exit from the scene of this world, where the part I was acting had grown excessively dull.”

On dinner being served up, although several dishes of meat were upon the table, Lord Byron did not partake of any, his custom being to eat meat only once a month. Soup, a few vegetables, a considerable portion of English cheese, with some fried crusts of bread, and fruit, constituted his daily fare. He eat with great rapidity, and drank freely. There happened to be on the table a roasted capon, the good looks of which so powerfully tempted him, that, after wistfully eyeing it, he was on the point of taking a leg; but suddenly recollecting the rule, he had imposed on himself, he left it in the dish, desiring his servant to let the capon be kept till the next day, when his month would be out.

Lord Byron pretended, that the reason of his abstaining from meat, and of his taking nourishment only once in the course of twenty-four hours, was his having experienced, that his mental powers became thereby more alive and powerful; for nothing blunted or rendered them more torpid than substantial food or frequent eating. Though it is an incontrovertible fact, as
indeed everyone must, more or less, have experienced, that the stomach and digestive organs materially operate on the functions of the mind, this was not the cause of Lord Byron’s abstemiousness: the real motive being the fear of becoming corpulent, which haunted him continually, and induced him to adopt measures very injurious to his health. I frequently heard him say, “I especially dread, in this world, two things, to which I have reason to believe I am equally predisposed—growing fat and growing mad; and it would be difficult for me to decide, were I forced to make a choice, which of these conditions I would choose in preference.” To avoid corpulence, not satisfied with eating so sparingly, and renouncing the use of every kind of food, that he deemed nourishing, he had recourse almost daily to strong drastic pills, of which extract of colocynth, gamboge, scammony, &c. were the chief ingredients; and if he observed the slightest increase in the size of his wrists or waist, which he measured with scrupulous exactness every morning, he immediately sought to reduce it by taking a large dose of Epsom salts, besides the usual pills. No petit-maitre could pay more sedulous attention than he did to external appearance, or consult with more complacency the looking-glass. Even when en negligé, he studied the nature of the postures he assumed as attentively as if he had been sitting for his picture; and so much value did he attach to the whiteness of his hands, that in order not to suffer “the winds of heaven to visit them too roughly,” he constantly, and even within doors, wore gloves. The lameness, which he had from his birth, was a source of actual misery to him; and it was curious to notice with how much coquetry he endeavoured, by a thousand petty tricks, to conceal from strangers this unfortunate malconformation. If
any one fixed a look of curiosity on his foot, he considered it as paramount to a personal insult, and he could not easily forgive it. Sooner than confess, that nature had been guilty of this original defect, he preferred attributing his lameness to the improper treatment of a sprained ankle while he was yet a child; and he even vented himself bitterly against his mother for having neglected to place him in time under the care of a competent surgeon.

Besides the medicines, I have mentioned, he had daily recourse to soda powders or calcined magnesia, in order to neutralize the troublesome acidities, which the immoderate use of Rhenish wines and ardent spirits continually generated in his debilitated stomach. Nothing could be more strange, and at the same time more injurious to health, than the regimen which he had been induced to adopt, and to which, during several years, he unalterably adhered. He rose at half-past ten o’clock, when, by way of breakfast, he took a large basinful of a strong infusion of green tea, without either sugar or milk; a drink, that could not but prove exceedingly prejudicial to a constitution so essentially nervous. At half-past eleven he would set out on a two hours’ ride; and on his return his singular and only meal was served up. Having dined, he immediately withdrew to his study, where he remained till dark; when, more willingly than at any other time, he would indulge in conversation: and afterwards he would play at draughts for a while, or take up some volume on light subjects—such as novels, memoirs, or travels. He had unfortunately contracted the habit of drinking immoderately every evening; and almost at every page he would take a glass of wine, and often of undiluted Hollands, till he felt himself under the full influence of liquor. He would then pace up and down the room
till three or four o’clock in the morning; and these hours, he often confessed, were the most propitious to the inspirations of his muse.

This mode of life could not but prove ruinous to his constitution, which, however robust it might originally have been, must necessarily sink under shocks so powerful and so often repeated. The disagreeable symptoms of dyspepsia obliged him to have recourse to the daily use of pharmacy, which, instead of annoying him, seemed to be a business of pleasure, persuaded as he was, that there was no other way of obviating the misfortune of corpulency: but after the evanescent stimulation of alcohol had subsided, hypochondriasis, the inseparable companion of intemperance, plunged him in a condition often bordering on despair.

From the moment Lord Byron embarked in the Greek cause, his mind seemed so completely absorbed by the subject, that it rendered him deaf to the calls of the muse; at least he repeatedly assured us, that, since his departure from Genoa, he had not written a single line: and though it appeared from his conversation, that he was arranging in his head the materials of a future canto of Don Juan, he did not feel his poetical vein sufficiently strong to induce him to venture on the undertaking. It was an invariable habit with him to write by fits and starts, when the impetuosity of his Pegasus could no longer be restrained; and he often observed, that the productions of his pen, to which he was most partial, were those which he had composed with the greatest rapidity. If he ever wrote any thing worth perusing, he had done it, he said, spontaneously and at once; and the value of his poems might, according to him, be rated by the facility he had experienced in composing them, his worst productions (his dramatic pieces) being
those that had given him most trouble. The
Bride of Abydos was composed in less than a week; the Corsair in the same space of time; and the Lamentation of Tasso, which he wrote at the request of Teresa of Ravenna, was the business only of two nights.

During his stay at Metaxata, the portion of his time, which was not employed in correspondence with the different chiefs in Greece, and his friends in England, was devoted to reading. Novels, from his earliest youth, were the works in which he delighted most, and they formed almost his sole occupation. So prodigious was the number which he had perused, and so strong was the impression they had left on his memory, that he frequently defied us to mention one, however indifferent, that he had not read, and of which he could not give some account. Sir Walter Scott’s were his favourites: and so great was the pleasure he derived from them, so often had they banished from his mind the sad train of thoughts attendant on despondency, that he professed himself bound to their author by ties of the liveliest gratitude; and though habitually frugal of praise, he constantly spoke of this distinguished writer in terms of the most lavish admiration. The conversation happening once to fall on modern poets, on being asked his opinion of Sir Walter, he observed: “I have received so many benefits from him as a novelist, that I cannot find it in my heart to criticise him as a poet.” Passing in review the rest of the poets, he gave to each, without exception, a few lashes of that playful but often caustic satire which invariably enlivened his conversation, and rendered it so piquant. Southey and Wordsworth served him as targets against which to vent his bitterest sarcasms. We were not a little surprised to find that he did not spare even * * * * *. It was some time before he
would let out what had indisposed him so much against a man, whom he had publicly called his friend; but he spoke at last of a letter, in which this friend had taken the liberty of censuring him rather freely on the immorality of certain passages of
Don Juan; a liberty which was deemed highly misplaced, and by a person so excessively touchy as Lord Byron, and whose vanity, vulnerable on all sides, never overlooked the slightest offence, was not to be forgiven. Small reliance, it would appear, is to be placed on the friendship of poets for each other: like coquettes, they look with an evil eye at any one of their craft, who has pretensions to beauty; and the slightest incident of displeasure is sufficient to cause them to throw off the mask that concealed their enmity.

Among Lord Byron’s books there were very few poetical works; and, what may appear strange, he did not possess a copy of his own. Next to the British poets, those which he read in preference were the Italian—Ariosto and Dante more especially. With respect to the ancient classics, he was too indifferent a scholar to be able to peruse the originals with any degree of pleasure. He was as partial to the French prose-writers as he was averse to their poets. He entertained a singular prejudice against every thing that bore the name of this nation; and it may be cited as a proof of the sway, which preconceived opinions exercised over his mind, that not only he would never visit any part of France, but purposely avoided even entering its confines; and absolute necessity alone could induce him to express himself in the French tongue. Italian was the language he used in conversing with foreigners, and he spoke and wrote it with peculiar purity and elegance. It has been supposed by many, that Lord Byron was familiarly acquainted with German literature; and
critics in Europe have often laid imitation and even plagiarism to his charge; yet he certainly understood scarcely one word of that language; and the only knowledge, he possessed of the productions of the most celebrated German authors, was derived from the very limited translations of their works, that have appeared in England.

Historical works, next to novels, were those which he took most pleasure in reading; and indeed his acquaintance with both ancient and modern history might, without exaggeration, be called prodigious. He had devoted peculiar attention to that of the East, a region very imperfectly known; where his imagination always delighted to rove, and from which he drew his finest and most original poetical thoughts. We had often occasion to be astonished at the accuracy, with which he related the minutest details of the most uninteresting facts. So highly was he gifted with memory, that every word he heard that struck, or every passage he read that pleased him, left an indelible impression. Not only could he repeat the finest passages of our classics, but also the most ludicrous of Bombastes Furioso; and we found it difficult, after repeated trials, to cite a line from any poet, he had attentively perused, without his being able to add the lines that followed.

While a member of the Drury Lane Committee for the examination of the theatrical productions presented by different authors, it was his amusement to read the greater portion; and, to our no small entertainment, he often regaled us with extracts from the most nonsensical. His wonderful mnemonic faculties, the rich and variegated store with which he had furnished his mind, his lively, brilliant, and ever—busy imagination, his deep acquaintance with the world, owing to his sagacious
penetration, and the advantageous positions in which, through his birth and other circumstances, he had been placed, conjoined to the highly mercurial powers of his wit, rendered his conversation peculiarly interesting; enhanced, too, as it was by the charm of his fascinating manners. Far from being the surly, taciturn misanthrope, generally imagined, I always found him dwelling on the lightest and merriest subjects, carefully shunning discussions, and whatever might give rise to unpleasing reflections. Almost every word with him was a jest; and he possessed the talent of passing from subject to subject with a lightness, an ease, and a grace, that could with difficulty be matched. Communicative to a degree, that raised our surprise, and might, not unfrequently, be termed indiscretion, he related anecdotes of himself, his friends, and even of the females, to whom he had been bound by the tenderest ties, which he might as well have kept secret*. Many, perhaps, will regard

* Of the numerous anecdotes I heard him relate of himself on different occasions, several have already been communicated to the public, others will be found dispersed in the pages of these Memoirs, while many, for more than one valid reason, must remain untold. I flatter myself, however, that two or three which I shall record here will not prove unacceptable to the reader, since, while they tend to illustrate the character of this interesting poet, no one’s feelings can be hurt by them.

During his stay at Venice, Maria Louisa, the Ex-Empress of France, paid a visit to that remarkable city. A translation of our poet’s Ode on Napoleon happening to be read to her, she was so moved by the beauties of the composition, that she expressed a strong wish to become acquainted with its author. The English consul, on being apprised of this, sought to procure an opportunity of presenting him without his undergoing the formality of etiquette, against which he had strongly declared himself. Knowing the hour at which he was accustomed to take his ride at the Lido, he so disposed matters that the ex-empress came to the spot at the moment Lord B. was preparing to quit it. He accordingly rode up to him and informed him of her highness the

this circumstance as incredible; but the apparent contradictions, existing in his character, are not the

Duchess of Parma and Piacenza’s desire, and said, that, if he felt inclined, he would be happy to introduce him. Happening to be in one of his sullen moods, Lord Byron replied, “I beg you will inform her highness that I should have esteemed it an honour to be presented to the Empress of France; but that I feel, as to a Duchess of Parma, differently disposed.” And he rode off, leaving the consul to convey this mortifying message.

During the earlier part of his youth, his then very limited revenues were soon exhausted by his extravagant expenses in London, and especially by his frequenting the gaming-houses. He had borrowed so much from the usurers, that none were to be found humane enough to advance him any further sum, at whatever interest he offered. One morning, after a sleepless night, spent at one of those establishments, in which he had lost all his money, he heard a coach stop before his lodgings, and soon after saw a young lady of rank, who had given him proofs of the most ardent attachment, enter his room. She held a small casket in her hand, and on depositing it on the table, told him, that hearing of the pecuniary misfortunes he had met with, and fearing he might find himself in embarrassed circumstances, she had brought him all her jewels and money, and requested he would accept them as proofs of her affection. “Go and take back with you,” said Lord B. sternly, “your trinkets and money. I am not a man to be imposed upon by cant; and you know full well, that you would never have brought such things to me, had you supposed me vile enough to accept them.”

Mention being once made before him of the frequent errors of judgment, into which a person may be led by the appearances of physiognomy, he observed: “You are young men, and may therefore have occasion to derive benefit from this precept of mine: never give your entire faith to any one whose eyes are gray.” On its being remarked to him, that his own were of that very colour, he added: “Do not think I consider myself an exception to this, I might say, universal rule: it would have been well for many, who have had to deal with me, had they been guided by it.”

Lord B. often boasted of his being at heart devoutly aristocratical, and confessed, that he had inherited completely his mother’s disposition, who, according to him, was perhaps the proudest woman in England. Want of manners and of respect were faults which, even in republican Greece, he could never forgive. For instance, the insurmountable dislike, he professed against Dr.

less true because they appear singular. Those only, who lived for some time with him, could believe that a man’s temper, Proteus like, was capable of assuming so many shapes. It may literally be said, that at different hours of the day he metamorphosed himself into four or more individuals, each possessed of the most opposite qualities; for, in every change, his natural impetuosity made him fly into the furthermost extremes. In the course of the day he might become the most morose, and the most gay; the most melancholy, and the most frolicsome; the most generous, and the most penurious; the most benevolent, and the most misanthropic; the most rational, and the most childish; the most sublime and elevated in thought, and the most frivolous or trivial; the most gentle being in existence, and the most irascible. His works bear the stamp of his character, and Childe Harold is no less a faithful picture of him at one part of the day, than Don Juan is at another.

During my stay at Metaxata I almost daily saw

Meyer, arose entirely from his having observed him, one day, sit down, without being invited, to Colonel Stanhope’s table, and help himself to a tumbler of porter. So strong was his aversion to him on this account, that he expressly forbad his servants ever to allow him to enter his room; and during his last illness he would, on no account, agree to the doctor’s being called into consultation. He often dwelt with peculiar satisfaction on the numerous quarters of his own pedigree, the extensive ramifications of the Byron line, and the illustrious individuals, who had borne the name.

During his last illness, he consented, after some difficulty, to two extra physicians being called in; but insisted on my solemnly promising him, that not a question should be asked, or a word uttered in his hearing, during their stay in his room. Accordingly, being apprised of this, after feeling his pulse, inspecting his tongue, and observing the symptoms, indicated by his bodily appearance, they immediately withdrew in silence into an adjoining apartment: but he fixed me stedfastly all the time, and once or twice said, “See that you keep your promise.”

Suliots, who came purposely to present themselves to
Lord Byron. Since the late restoration of their country, many of them had continued to remain with their families in different parts of the Ionian Islands; while the greater portion, under the guidance of the Zavellas, Fotamaras, Lambro Veico, and the Bozzaris, had crossed over to Continental Greece, and covered themselves with glory in the defence of Mesolonghi, and Anatolico, at Carpenisi, and in fact, on almost every occasion where they had to cope with the enemy.

The most distinguished among those who appeared at Metaxata was Nothi Bozzari, the uncle of the celebrated Marco; a venerable old man, sixty years of age, the Nestor of the Suliot chiefs. He heard, with tears in his eyes, the promise, which Lord Byron made, of taking under his immediate protection the remainder of the brave population of Suli, and inlisting in his service all those, who were capable of bearing arms. The number of these were reduced to about 600 men, from the age of seventeen to sixty. Misfortune, instead of abating their courage, animated them more powerfully to revenge the injuries they had received in the loss of their country and the greater part of their brethren. Lord Byron felt a deep interest in favour of the Suliots; he knew the fine features of the history of their ancestors, the gallant manner in which, though a handful only of men, they had not only kept at bay, during many years, the powerful Ali Pasha, but caused him, the terror of Albania, to tremble in his turn at Joanina. He now witnessed the misery of these distressed beings, and, considering himself as the father of this adopted population, he supplied the wants of the most necessitous families, and procured the men the means of crossing over to Greece, where he assured them he would shortly join them, and incorporate
them all into one legion. The discovery of the impositions practised upon him by several of the Suliots did not render his benevolence the less active; it was, in his eye, the consequence of Albanian cunning, grafted on Ionian corruption; and he merely blamed himself for being so short-sighted, and felt the necessity of more caution in future. The numerous acts of charity, performed by him during his stay in Cephalonia, will long endear his name to the inhabitants. His heart had learnt to melt at others’ woe, for here, and wherever he went, if mention were made before him of an unfortunate, he would not rest satisfied till he had fully relieved his wants.

Although Lord Byron’s house was open to every stranger, yet the number of visitors was extremely limited, owing chiefly to the smallness of the circle of society on this island. The individuals, whom he received with most pleasure, were Colonel Napier, Dr. Knox, and Conte Delladecima, a Cephaloniot nobleman, of considerable shrewdness, sound judgment, and deep acquaintance with the Greek character. The first of these gentlemen, who was then at Cephalonia, soon acquired, by his generous and chivalrous qualities, the entire esteem of Lord Byron. So much did he value his opinion on Greek affairs, that he never took a step without previously consulting him; he submitted to his approbation his future plans, and modified them according to his directions. During a tour in Greece, the colonel had made numerous observations on the military features of the country; and his political situation in the Ionian Islands enabled him to form a correct estimate both of the good and evil dispositions of the Greeks, with whom he was in daily intercourse, and of the government and institutions, which befitted their character. Impelled by the desire of consecrating his talents to the
furtherance of the welfare of this interesting nation, and yielding to Lord Byron’s entreaties, he shortly after departed for England, with the intention of selling his commission and rejoining his friend at Mesolonghi. Had not Providence disposed otherwise of events, there can be no doubt, that the cooperation of these two enlightened individuals would have conferred the greatest benefits on Greece, and have materially contributed to the consolidation of order and liberty.

Dr. Knox, besides possessing considerable talents as a physician, was also conspicuous for his piety; and on Lord Byron’s arrival, he confidently undertook the task of converting him. But he soon found, notwithstanding the depth of his theological learning, and the power of his reasoning and his eloquence, that he was incompetent to elude the sophistry of his opponent; who, so far from being ignorant of the Scriptures, as might have been supposed, always set him right, when he happened not to be accurate in his quotations from them. The attempt was accordingly fruitless and unavailing, as far as conversion was concerned: but, in compliance with the doctor’s request, and to prove that he was far from being an enemy to the Christian religion, he undertook to act at Mesolonghi as agent to the Bible Society; and, on his arrival there, he piled up at the entrance of his receiving-room the numerous Bibles and religious tracts, that had been intrusted to his care, and seldom neglected to offer copies to his visitors. Though it may appear singular, it is not the less true, that he read every day a chapter in the Bible; and he mentioned to us, one evening, his having just finished the book of Genesis. Indeed, during the whole of my acquaintance with him, I never heard
him turn the Christian religion into ridicule: on the contrary, he frequently confessed, that nothing could be more unfair than to make derision of those, who believed in it; for in this strange world, he said, it was alike difficult to know what is and what is not to be believed; and by many freethinkers doctrines were laid down, that are as much above human comprehension, as the mysteries of revelation themselves.

The news of Lord Byron’s arrival, together with the exaggerated reports as to the extent of his wealth, the mighty assistance he was bringing with him to Greece, and the anticipation of a loan, raised so great an interest among the mass of its population, that they almost expected him as a Messiah; and scarcely a less lively fermentation was produced among the chiefs. Each of the numerous parties that, animated by the demon of discord, were on the eve of plunging their country into all the horrors of civil war, as well as many of the principal civil and military characters, hastened to send to Cephalonia their respective representatives; or addressed to him letter after letter, in which, after heaping upon him all the encomiums, that flattery could suggest, they depreciated or blackened as much as possible all those, who did not side with them, while they largely extolled their own purity of intention and patriotic conduct. Their cupidity left no intrigue unpractised to defeat the plans of their rivals, and secure to themselves a friend, who, as they fondly believed, would prove a help to their private interests and selfish views of aggrandisement, which was all they cared for. Mavrocordato had sent his secretary Praidi; and Colocotrone and Andrea Metaxa had numerous panegyrists on the island, who hourly rung their praises in his ears. Anargyri of Athens, deputed by the senate, soon after
appeared at Metaxata; while
Londo reminded the new-comer of their former acquaintance and friendship.

Much credit is certainly due to Lord Byron for the prudence which, under these circumstances, characterised his conduct. He was deaf to the voice of flattery, and withstood both the allurements of ambition and the powerful enticement, which romantic enterprises could not fail to exert on his warm imagination. Divesting himself of every preconceived opinion, he calmly sought to discover, amidst so many contradictory and unfavourable statements, the path that would best lead him to the attainment of his wish, which was the welfare of his newly-adopted country. His conduct on this occasion appears the more to his advantage, when contrasted with that of the individual, whom the Greek Committee judged the most competent to act the part of their agent in Greece, and best qualified by his judgment to put into execution the various plans, devised by them, to supply what they thought the most pressing wants of its population.