Life of Lord Byron, Vol. 6 (of 6) - With his Letters and Journals
by Thomas Moore
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LETTERS AND JOURNALS OF LORD BYRON, with NOTICES OF HIS LIFE, from February, 1823, to his Death in April, 1824










* * * * *


"Genoa, February 20. 1823.

"My Dear Tom,

"I must again refer you to those two letters addressed to you at Passy before I read your speech in Galignani, &c., and which you do not seem to have received.[1]

[Footnote 1: I was never lucky enough to recover these two letters, though frequent enquiries were made about them at the French post-office.]

"Of Hunt I see little—once a month or so, and then on his own business, generally. You may easily suppose that I know too little of Hampstead and his satellites to have much communion or community with him. My whole present relation to him arose from Shelley's unexpected wreck. You would not have had me leave him in the street with his family, would you? and as to the other plan you mention, you forget how it would humiliate him—that his writings should be supposed to be dead weight![1] Think a moment—he is perhaps the vainest man on earth, at least his own friends say so pretty loudly; and if he were in other circumstances, I might be tempted to take him down a peg; but not now,—it would be cruel. It is a cursed business; but neither the motive nor the means rest upon my conscience, and it happens that he and his brother have been so far benefited by the publication in a pecuniary point of view. His brother is a steady, bold fellow, such as Prynne, for example, and full of moral, and, I hear, physical courage.

[Footnote 1: The passage in one of my letters to which he here refers shall be given presently.]

"And you are really recanting, or softening to the clergy! It will do little good for you—it is you, not the poem, they are at. They will say they frightened you—forbid it, Ireland!

"Yours ever,


Lord Byron had now, for some time, as may be collected from his letters, begun to fancy that his reputation in England was on the wane. The same thirst after fame, with the same sensitiveness to every passing change of popular favour, which led Tasso at last to look upon himself as the most despised of writers[1], had more than once disposed Lord Byron, in the midst of all his triumphs, if not to doubt their reality, at least to distrust their continuance; and sometimes even, with that painful skill which sensibility supplies, to extract out of the brightest tributes of success some omen of future failure, or symptom of decline. New successes, however, still came to dissipate these bodings of diffidence; nor was it till after his unlucky coalition with Mr. Hunt in the Liberal, that any grounds for such a suspicion of his having declined in public favour showed themselves.

[Footnote 1: In one of his letters this poet says:—"Non posso negare che io mi doglio oltramisura di esser stato tanto disprezzato dal mondo quanto non e altro scrittore di questo secolo." In another letter, however, after complaining of being "perseguitato da molti piu che non era convenevole," he adds, with a proud prescience of his future fame, "Laonde stimo di poter mene ragionevolmente richiamare alla posterita."]

The chief inducements, on the part of Lord Byron, to this unworthy alliance were, in the first place, a wish to second the kind views of his friend Shelley in inviting Mr. Hunt to join him in Italy; and, in the next, a desire to avail himself of the aid of one so experienced, as an editor, in the favourite project he had now so long contemplated, of a periodical work, in which all the various offspring of his genius might be received fast as they sprung to light. With such opinions, however, as he had long entertained of Mr. Hunt's character and talents[1], the facility with which he now admitted him—not certainly to any degree of confidence or intimacy, but to a declared fellowship of fame and interest in the eyes of the world, is, I own, an inconsistency not easily to be accounted for, and argued, at all events, a strong confidence in the antidotal power of his own name to resist the ridicule of such an association.

[Footnote 1: See Letter 317. p. 103.]

As long as Shelley lived, the regard which Lord Byron entertained for him extended its influence also over his relations with his friend; the suavity and good-breeding of Shelley interposing a sort of softening medium in the way of those unpleasant collisions which afterwards took place, and which, from what is known of both parties, may be easily conceived to have been alike trying to the patience of the patron and the vanity of the dependent. That even, however, during the lifetime of their common friend, there had occurred some of those humiliating misunderstandings which money engenders,—humiliating on both sides, as if from the very nature of the dross that gives rise to them,—will appear from the following letter of Shelley's which I find among the papers in my hands.


"February 15. 1823.

"My dear Lord Byron.

"I enclose you a letter from Hunt, which annoys me on more than one account. You will observe the postscript, and you know me well enough to feel how painful a task is set me in commenting upon it. Hunt had urged me more than once to ask you to lend him this money. My answer consisted in sending him all I could spare, which I have now literally done. Your kindness in fitting up a part of your own house for his accommodation I sensibly felt, and willingly accepted from you on his part, but, believe me, without the slightest intention of imposing, or, if I could help it, allowing to be imposed, any heavier task on your purse. As it has come to this in spite of my exertions, I will not conceal from you the low ebb of my own money affairs in the present moment,—that is, my absolute incapacity of assisting Hunt farther.

"I do not think poor Hunt's promise to pay in a given time is worth very much; but mine is less subject to uncertainty, and I should be happy to be responsible for any engagement he may have proposed to you. I am so much annoyed by this subject that I hardly know what to write, and much less what to say; and I have need of all your indulgence in judging both my feelings and expressions.

"I shall see you by and by. Believe me

"Yours most faithfully and sincerely,


Of the book in which Mr. Hunt has thought it decent to revenge upon the dead the pain of those obligations he had, in his hour of need, accepted from the living, I am luckily saved from the distaste of speaking at any length, by the utter and most deserved oblivion into which his volume has fallen. Never, indeed, was the right feeling of the world upon such subjects more creditably displayed than in the reception given universally to that ungenerous book;—even those the least disposed to think approvingly of Lord Byron having shrunk back from such a corroboration of their own opinion as could be afforded by one who did not blush to derive his authority, as an accuser, from those facilities of observation which he had enjoyed by having been sheltered and fed under the very roof of the man whom he maligned.

With respect to the hostile feeling manifested in Mr. Hunt's work towards myself, the sole revenge I shall take is, to lay before my readers the passage in one of my letters which provoked it; and which may claim, at least, the merit of not being a covert attack, as throughout the whole of my remonstrances to Lord Byron on the subject of his new literary allies, not a line did I ever write respecting either Mr. Shelley or Mr. Hunt which I was not fully prepared, from long knowledge of my correspondent, to find that he had instantly, and as a matter of course, communicated to them. That this want of retention was a fault in my noble friend, I am not inclined to deny; but, being undisguised, it was easily guarded against, and, when guarded against, harmless. Besides, such is the penalty generally to be paid for frankness of character; and they who could have flattered themselves that one so open about his own affairs as Lord Byron would be much more discreet where the confidences of others were concerned, would have had their own imprudence, not his, to blame for any injury that their dependence upon his secrecy had brought on them.

The following is the passage, which Lord Byron, as I take for granted, showed to Mr. Hunt, and to which one of his letters to myself (February 20.) refers:—

"I am most anxious to know that you mean to emerge out of the Liberal. It grieves me to urge any thing so much against Hunt's interest; but I should not hesitate to use the same language to himself, were I near him. I would, if I were you, serve him in every possible way but this—I would give him (if he would accept of it) the profits of the same works, published separately—but I would not mix myself up in this way with others. I would not become a partner in this sort of miscellaneous 'pot au feu,' where the bad flavour of one ingredient is sure to taint all the rest. I would be, if I were you, alone, single-handed, and, as such, invincible."

While on the subject of Mr. Hunt, I shall avail myself of the opportunity it affords me of introducing some portions of a letter addressed to a friend of that gentleman by Lord Byron, in consequence of an appeal made to the feelings of the latter on the score of his professed "friendship" for Mr. Hunt. The avowals he here makes are, I own, startling, and must be taken with more than the usual allowance, not only for the particular mood of temper or spirits in which the letter was written, but for the influence also of such slight casual piques and resentments as might have been, just then, in their darkening transit through his mind,—indisposing him, for the moment, to those among his friends whom, in a sunnier mood, he would have proclaimed as his most chosen and dearest.

LETTER 509. TO MRS. ——.

"I presume that you, at least, know enough of me to be sure that I could have no intention to insult Hunt's poverty. On the contrary, I honour him for it; for I know what it is, having been as much embarrassed as ever he was, without perceiving aught in it to diminish an honourable man's self-respect. If you mean to say that, had he been a wealthy man, I would have joined in this Journal, I answer in the negative. * * * I engaged in the Journal from good-will towards him, added to respect for his character, literary and personal; and no less for his political courage, as well as regret for his present circumstances: I did this in the hope that he might, with the same aid from literary friends of literary contributions (which is requisite for all journals of a mixed nature), render himself independent.

"I have always treated him, in our personal intercourse, with such scrupulous delicacy, that I have forborne intruding advice which I thought might be disagreeable, lest he should impute it to what is called 'taking advantage of a man's situation.'

"As to friendship, it is a propensity in which my genius is very limited. I do not know the male human being, except Lord Clare, the friend of my infancy, for whom I feel any thing that deserves the name. All my others are men-of-the-world friendships. I did not even feel it for Shelley, however much I admired and esteemed him, so that you see not even vanity could bribe me into it, for, of all men, Shelley thought highest of my talents,—and, perhaps, of my disposition.

"I will do my duty by my intimates, upon the principle of doing as you would be done by. I have done so, I trust, in most instances. I may be pleased with their conversation—rejoice in their success—be glad to do them service, or to receive their counsel and assistance in return. But as for friends and friendship, I have (as I already said) named the only remaining male for whom I feel any thing of the kind, excepting, perhaps, Thomas Moore. I have had, and may have still, a thousand friends, as they are called, in life, who are like one's partners in the waltz of this world—not much remembered when the ball is over, though very pleasant for the time. Habit, business, and companionship in pleasure or in pain, are links of a similar kind, and the same faith in politics is another." * * *


"Genoa, March 28. 1823.

"Mr. Hill is here: I dined with him on Saturday before last; and on leaving his house at S. P. d'Arena, my carriage broke down. I walked home, about three miles,—no very great feat of pedestrianism; but either the coming out of hot rooms into a bleak wind chilled me, or the walking up-hill to Albaro heated me, or something or other set me wrong, and next day I had an inflammatory attack in the face, to which I have been subject this winter for the first time, and I suffered a good deal of pain, but no peril. My health is now much as usual. Mr. Hill is, I believe, occupied with his diplomacy. I shall give him your message when I see him again.

"My name, I see in the papers, has been dragged into the unhappy Portsmouth business, of which all that I know is very succinct. Mr. H—— is my solicitor. I found him so when I was ten years old—at my uncle's death—and he was continued in the management of my legal business. He asked me, by a civil epistle, as an old acquaintance of his family, to be present at the marriage of Miss H——. I went very reluctantly, one misty morning (for I had been up at two balls all night), to witness the ceremony, which I could not very well refuse without affronting a man who had never offended me. I saw nothing particular in the marriage. Of course I could not know the preliminaries, except from what he said, not having been present at the wooing, nor after it, for I walked home, and they went into the country as soon as they had promised and vowed. Out of this simple fact I hear the Debats de Paris has quoted Miss H. as 'autrefois tres liee avec le celebre,' &c. &c. I am obliged to him for the celebrity, but beg leave to decline the liaison, which is quite untrue; my liaison was with the father, in the unsentimental shape of long lawyers' bills, through the medium of which I have had to pay him ten or twelve thousand pounds within these few years. She was not pretty, and I suspect that the indefatigable Mr. A—— was (like all her people) more attracted by her title than her charms. I regret very much that I was present at the prologue to the happy state of horse-whipping and black jobs, &c. &c.; but I could not foresee that a man was to turn out mad, who had gone about the world for fifty years, as competent to vote, and walk at large; nor did he seem to me more insane than any other person going to be married.

"I have no objection to be acquainted with the Marquis Palavicini, if he wishes it. Lately I have gone little into society, English or foreign, for I had seen all that was worth seeing in the former before I left England, and at the time of life when I was more disposed to like it; and of the latter I had a sufficiency in the first few years of my residence in Switzerland, chiefly at Madame de Stael's, where I went sometimes, till I grew tired of conversazioni and carnivals, with their appendages; and the bore is, that if you go once, you are expected to be there daily, or rather nightly. I went the round of the most noted soirees at Venice or elsewhere (where I remained not any time) to the Benzona, and the Albrizzi, and the Michelli, &c. &c. and to the Cardinals and the various potentates of the Legation in Romagna, (that is, Ravenna,) and only receded for the sake of quiet when I came into Tuscany. Besides, if I go into society, I generally get, in the long run, into some scrape of some kind or other, which don't occur in my solitude. However, I am pretty well settled now, by time and temper, which is so far lucky, as it prevents restlessness; but, as I said before, as an acquaintance of yours, I will be ready and willing to know your friends. He may be a sort of connection for aught I know; for a Palavicini, of Bologna, I believe, married a distant relative of mine half a century ago. I happen to know the fact, as he and his spouse had an annuity of five hundred pounds on my uncle's property, which ceased at his demise; though I recollect hearing they attempted, naturally enough, to make it survive him. If I can do any thing for you here or elsewhere, pray order, and be obeyed."


"Genoa, April 2. 1823.

"I have just seen some friends of yours, who paid me a visit yesterday, which, in honour of them and of you, I returned to-day;—as I reserve my bear-skin and teeth, and paws and claws, for our enemies.

"I have also seen Henry F——, Lord H——'s son, whom I had not looked upon since I left him a pretty, mild boy, without a neckcloth, in a jacket, and in delicate health, seven long years agone, at the period of mine eclipse—the third, I believe, as I have generally one every two or three years. I think that he has the softest and most amiable expression of countenance I ever saw, and manners correspondent. If to those he can add hereditary talents, he will keep the name of F—— in all its freshness for half a century more, I hope. I speak from a transient glimpse—but I love still to yield to such impressions; for I have ever found that those I liked longest and best, I took to at first sight; and I always liked that boy—perhaps, in part, from some resemblance in the less fortunate part of our destinies—I mean, to avoid mistakes, his lameness. But there is this difference, that he appears a halting angel, who has tripped against a star; whilst I am Le Diable Boiteux,—a soubriquet, which I marvel that, amongst their various nominis umbrae, the Orthodox have not hit upon.

"Your other allies, whom I have found very agreeable personages, are Milor B—— and epouse, travelling with a very handsome companion, in the shape of a 'French Count' (to use Farquhar's phrase in the Beaux Stratagem), who has all the air of a Cupidon dechaine, and is one of the few specimens I have seen of our ideal of a Frenchman before the Revolution—an old friend with a new face, upon whose like I never thought that we should look again. Miladi seems highly literary,—to which, and your honour's acquaintance with the family, I attribute the pleasure of having seen them. She is also very pretty, even in a morning,—a species of beauty on which the sun of Italy does not shine so frequently as the chandelier. Certainly, English-women wear better than their continental neighbours of the same sex. M—— seems very good-natured, but is much tamed, since I recollect him in all the glory of gems and snuff-boxes, and uniforms, and theatricals, and speeches in our house—'I mean, of peers,'—(I must refer you to Pope—who you don't read and won't appreciate—for that quotation, which you must allow to be poetical,) and sitting to Stroeling, the painter, (do you remember our visit, with Leckie, to the German?) to be depicted as one of the heroes of Agincourt, 'with his long sword, saddle, bridle, Whack fal de, &c. &c.'

"I have been unwell—caught a cold and inflammation, which menaced a conflagration, after dining with our ambassador, Monsieur Hill,—not owing to the dinner, but my carriage broke down in the way home, and I had to walk some miles, up hill partly, after hot rooms, in a very bleak, windy evening, and over-hotted, or over-colded myself. I have not been so robustious as formerly, ever since the last summer, when I fell ill after a long swim in the Mediterranean, and have never been quite right up to this present writing. I am thin,—perhaps thinner than you saw me, when I was nearly transparent, in 1812,—and am obliged to be moderate of my mouth; which, nevertheless, won't prevent me (the gods willing) from dining with your friends the day after to-morrow.

"They give me a very good account of you, and of your nearly 'Emprisoned Angels.' But why did you change your title?—you will regret this some day. The bigots are not to be conciliated; and, if they were—are they worth it? I suspect that I am a more orthodox Christian than you are; and, whenever I see a real Christian, either in practice or in theory, (for I never yet found the man who could produce either, when put to the proof,) I am his disciple. But, till then, I cannot truckle to tithe-mongers,—nor can I imagine what has made you circumcise your Seraphs.

"I have been far more persecuted than you, as you may judge by my present decadence,—for I take it that I am as low in popularity and book-selling as any writer can be. At least, so my friends assure me—blessings on their benevolence! This they attribute to Hunt; but they are wrong—it must be, partly at least, owing to myself; be it so. As to Hunt, I prefer not having turned him to starve in the streets to any personal honour which might have accrued from such genuine philanthropy. I really act upon principle in this matter, for we have nothing much in common; and I cannot describe to you the despairing sensation of trying to do something for a man who seems incapable or unwilling to do any thing further for himself,—at least, to the purpose. It is like pulling a man out of a river who directly throws himself in again. For the last three or four years Shelley assisted, and had once actually extricated him. I have since his demise,—and even before,—done what I could: but it is not in my power to make this permanent. I want Hunt to return to England, for which I would furnish him with the means in comfort; and his situation there, on the whole, is bettered, by the payment of a portion of his debts, &c.; and he would be on the spot to continue his Journal, or Journals, with his brother, who seems a sensible, plain, sturdy, and enduring person." * *

The new intimacy of which he here announces the commencement, and which it was gratifying to me, as the common friend of all, to find that he had formed, was a source of much pleasure to him during the stay of his noble acquaintances at Genoa. So long, indeed, had he persuaded himself that his countrymen abroad all regarded him in no other light than as an outlaw or a show, that every new instance he met of friendly reception from them was as much a surprise as pleasure to him; and it was evident that to his mind the revival of English associations and habitudes always brought with it a sense of refreshment, like that of inhaling his native air.

With the view of inducing these friends to prolong their stay at Genoa, he suggested their taking a pretty villa called "Il Paradiso," in the neighbourhood of his own, and accompanied them to look at it. Upon that occasion it was that, on the lady expressing some intentions of residing there, he produced the following impromptu, which—but for the purpose of showing that he was not so "chary of his fame" as to fear failing in such trifles—I should have thought hardly worth transcribing.

"Beneath ——'s eyes The reclaim'd Paradise Should be free as the former from evil; But, if the new Eve For an apple should grieve, What mortal would not play the devil?"[1]

[Footnote 1: The Genoese wits had already applied this threadbare jest to himself. Taking it into their heads that this villa (which was also, I believe, a Casa Saluzzo) had been the one fixed on for his own residence, they said "Il Diavolo e ancora entrato in Paradise."]

Another copy of verses addressed by him to the same lady, whose beauty and talent might well have claimed a warmer tribute from such a pen, is yet too interesting, as descriptive of the premature feeling of age now stealing upon him, to be omitted in these pages.



"You have ask'd for a verse:—the request In a rhymer 'twere strange to deny, But my Hippocrene was but my breast, And my feelings (its fountain) are dry.


"Were I now as I was, I had sung What Lawrence has painted so well; But the strain would expire on my tongue, And the theme is too soft for my shell.


"I am ashes where once I was fire, And the bard in my bosom is dead; What I loved I now merely admire, And my heart is as grey as my head.


"My life is not dated by years— There are moments which act as a plough, And there is not a furrow appears But is deep in my soul as my brow.


"Let the young and the brilliant aspire To sing what I gaze on in vain; For sorrow has torn from my lyre The string which was worthy the strain.


The following letters written during the stay of this party at Genoa will be found,—some of them at least,—not a little curious.


"April 5. 1823.

"My dear Lord,

"How is your gout? or rather, how are you? I return the Count ——'s Journal, which is a very extraordinary production[1], and of a most melancholy truth in all that regards high life in England. I know, or knew personally, most of the personages and societies which he describes; and after reading his remarks, have the sensation fresh upon me as if I had seen them yesterday. I would however plead in behalf of some few exceptions, which I will mention by and by. The most singular thing is, how he should have penetrated not the fact, but the mystery of the English ennui, at two-and-twenty. I was about the same age when I made the same discovery, in almost precisely the same circles,—(for there is scarcely a person mentioned whom I did not see nightly or daily, and was acquainted more or less intimately with most of them,)—but I never could have described it so well. Il faut etre Francais, to effect this.

[Footnote 1: In another letter to Lord B—— he says of this gentleman, "he seems to have all the qualities requisite to have figured in his brother-in-law's ancestor's Memoirs."]

"But he ought also to have been in the country during the hunting season, with 'a select party of distinguished guests,' as the papers term it. He ought to have seen the gentlemen after dinner (on the hunting days), and the soiree ensuing thereupon,—and the women looking as if they had hunted, or rather been hunted; and I could have wished that he had been at a dinner in town, which I recollect at Lord C——'s—small, but select, and composed of the most amusing people. The dessert was hardly on the table, when, out of twelve, I counted five asleep; of that five, there were Tierney, Lord ——, and Lord —— —I forget the other two, but they were either wits or orators—perhaps poets.

"My residence in the East and in Italy has made me somewhat indulgent of the siesta;—but then they set regularly about it in warm countries, and perform it in solitude (or at most in a tete-a-tete with a proper companion), and retire quietly to their rooms to get out of the sun's way for an hour or two.

"Altogether, your friend's Journal is a very formidable production. Alas! our dearly beloved countrymen have only discovered that they are tired, and not that they are tiresome; and I suspect that the communication of the latter unpleasant verity will not be better received than truths usually are. I have read the whole with great attention and instruction. I am too good a patriot to say pleasure—at least I won't say so, whatever I may think. I showed it (I hope no breach of confidence) to a young Italian lady of rank, tres instruite also; and who passes, or passed, for being one of the three most celebrated belles in the district of Italy, where her family and connections resided in less troublesome times as to politics, (which is not Genoa, by the way,) and she was delighted with it, and says that she has derived a better notion of English society from it than from all Madame de Stael's metaphysical disputations on the same subject, in her work on the Revolution. I beg that you will thank the young philosopher, and make my compliments to Lady B. and her sister.

"Believe me your very obliged and faithful

"N. B.

"P.S. There is a rumour in letters of some disturbance or complot in the French Pyrenean army—generals suspected or dismissed, and ministers of war travelling to see what's the matter. 'Marry (as David says), this hath an angry favour.'

"Tell Count —— that some of the names are not quite intelligible, especially of the clubs; he speaks of Watts—perhaps he is right, but in my time Watiers was the Dandy Club, of which (though no dandy) I was a member, at the time too of its greatest glory, when Brummell and Mildmay, Alvanley and Pierrepoint, gave the Dandy Balls; and we (the club, that is,) got up the famous masquerade at Burlington House and Garden, for Wellington. He does not speak of the Alfred, which was the most recherche and most tiresome of any, as I know by being a member of that too."


"April 6. 1823.

"It would be worse than idle, knowing, as I do, the utter worthlessness of words on such occasions, in me to attempt to express what I ought to feel, and do feel for the loss you have sustained[1]; and I must thus dismiss the subject, for I dare not trust myself further with it for your sake, or for my own. I shall endeavour to see you as soon as it may not appear intrusive. Pray excuse the levity of my yesterday's scrawl—I little thought under what circumstances it would find you.

[Footnote 1: The death of Lord B——'s son, which had been long expected, but of which the account had just then arrived.]

"I have received a very handsome and flattering note from Count ——. He must excuse my apparent rudeness and real ignorance in replying to it in English, through the medium of your kind interpretation. I would not on any account deprive him of a production, of which I really think more than I have even said, though you are good enough not to be dissatisfied even with that; but whenever it is completed, it would give me the greatest pleasure to have a copy—but how to keep it secret? literary secrets are like others. By changing the names, or at least omitting several, and altering the circumstances indicative of the writer's real station or situation, the author would render it a most amusing publication. His countrymen have not been treated, either in a literary or personal point of view, with such deference in English recent works, as to lay him under any very great national obligation of forbearance; and really the remarks are so true and piquante, that I cannot bring myself to wish their suppression; though, as Dangle says, 'He is my friend,' many of these personages 'were my friends, but much such friends as Dangle and his allies.

"I return you Dr. Parr's letter—I have met him at Payne Knight's and elsewhere, and he did me the honour once to be a patron of mine, although a great friend of the other branch of the House of Atreus, and the Greek teacher (I believe) of my moral Clytemnestra—I say moral, because it is true, and is so useful to the virtuous, that it enables them to do any thing without the aid of an AEgisthus.

"I beg my compliments to Lady B., Miss P., and to your Alfred. I think, since his Majesty of the same name, there has not been such a learned surveyor of our Saxon society.

"Ever yours most truly, N. B."

"April 9. 1823.

"P.S. I salute Miledi, Mademoiselle Mama, and the illustrious Chevalier Count ——; who, I hope, will continue his history of 'his own times.' There are some strange coincidences between a part of his remarks and a certain work of mine, now in MS. in England, (I do not mean the hermetically sealed Memoirs, but a continuation of certain Cantos of a certain poem,) especially in what a man may do in London with impunity while he is 'a la mode;' which I think it well to state, that he may not suspect me of taking advantage of his confidence. The observations are very general."


"April 14. 1823.

"I am truly sorry that I cannot accompany you in your ride this morning, owing to a violent pain in my face, arising from a wart to which I by medical advice applied a caustic. Whether I put too much, I do not know, but the consequence is, that not only I have been put to some pain, but the peccant part and its immediate environ are as black as if the printer's devil had marked me for an author. As I do not wish to frighten your horses, or their riders, I shall postpone waiting upon you until six o'clock, when I hope to have subsided into a more christian-like resemblance to my fellow-creatures. My infliction has partially extended even to my fingers; for on trying to get the black from off my upper lip at least, I have only transfused a portion thereof to my right hand, and neither lemon-juice nor eau de Cologne, nor any other eau, have been able as yet to redeem it also from a more inky appearance than is either proper or pleasant. But 'out, damn'd spot'—you may have perceived something of the kind yesterday, for on my return, I saw that during my visit it had increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished; and I could not help laughing at the figure I must have cut before you. At any rate, I shall be with you at six, with the advantage of twilight.

Ever most truly, &c.

"Eleven o'clock.

"P.S. I wrote the above at three this morning. I regret to say that the whole of the skin of about an inch square above my upper lip has come off, so that I cannot even shave or masticate, and I am equally unfit to appear at your table, and to partake of its hospitality. Will you therefore pardon me, and not mistake this rueful excuse for a 'make-believe,' as you will soon recognise whenever I have the pleasure of meeting you again, and I will call the moment I am, in the nursery phrase, 'fit to be seen.' Tell Lady B. with my compliments, that I am rummaging my papers for a MS. worthy of her acceptation. I have just seen the younger Count Gamba, and as I cannot prevail on his infinite modesty to take the field without me, I must take this piece of diffidence on myself also, and beg your indulgence for both."


"April 22. 1823.

"My dear Count —— (if you will permit me to address you so familiarly), you should be content with writing in your own language, like Grammont, and succeeding in London as nobody has succeeded since the days of Charles the Second and the records of Antonio Hamilton, without deviating into our barbarous language,—which you understand and write, however, much better than it deserves.

"My 'approbation,' as you are pleased to term it, was very sincere, but perhaps not very impartial; for, though I love my country, I do not love my countrymen—at least, such as they now are. And, besides the seduction of talent and wit in your work, I fear that to me there was the attraction of vengeance. I have seen and felt much of what you have described so well. I have known the persons, and the re-unions so described,—(many of them, that is to say,) and the portraits are so like that I cannot but admire the painter no less than his performance.

"But I am sorry for you; for if you are so well acquainted with life at your age, what will become of you when the illusion is still more dissipated? But never mind—en avant!—live while you can; and that you may have the full enjoyment of the many advantages of youth, talent, and figure, which you possess, is the wish of an—Englishman,—I suppose, but it is no treason; for my mother was Scotch, and my name and my family are both Norman; and as for myself, I am of no country. As for my 'Works,' which you are pleased to mention, let them go to the Devil, from whence (if you believe many persons) they came.

"I have the honour to be your obliged," &c. &c.

During this period a circumstance occurred which shows, most favourably for the better tendencies of his nature, how much allayed and softened down his once angry feeling, upon the subject of his matrimonial differences, had now grown. It has been seen that his daughter Ada,—more especially since his late loss of the only tie of blood which he could have a hope of attaching to himself,—had become the fond and constant object of his thoughts; and it was but natural, in a heart kindly as his was, that, dwelling thus with tenderness upon the child, he should find himself insensibly subdued into a gentler tone of feeling towards the mother. A gentleman, whose sister was known to be the confidential friend of Lady Byron, happening at this time to be at Genoa, and in the habit of visiting at the house of the poet's new intimates, Lord Byron took one day an opportunity, in conversing with Lady ——, to say, that she would render him an essential kindness if, through the mediation of this gentleman and his sister, she could procure for him from Lady Byron, what he had long been most anxious to possess, a copy of her picture. It having been represented to him, in the course of the same, or a similar conversation, that Lady Byron was said by her friends to be in a state of constant alarm lest he should come to England to claim his daughter, or, in some other way, interfere with her, he professed his readiness to give every assurance that might have the effect of calming such apprehensions; and the following letter, in reference to both these subjects, was soon after sent by him.


"May 3. 1823.

"Dear Lady ——,

"My request would be for a copy of the miniature of Lady B. which I have seen in possession of the late Lady Noel, as I have no picture, or indeed memorial of any kind of Lady B., as all her letters were in her own possession before I left England, and we have had no correspondence since—at least on her part.

My message, with regard to the infant, is simply to this effect—that in the event of any accident occurring to the mother, and my remaining the survivor, it would be my wish to have her plans carried into effect, both with regard to the education of the child, and the person or persons under whose care Lady B. might be desirous that she should be placed. It is not my intention to interfere with her in any way on the subject during her life; and I presume that it would be some consolation to her to know,(if she is in ill health, as I am given to understand,) that in no case would any thing be done, as far as I am concerned, but in strict conformity with Lady B.'s own wishes and intentions—left in what manner she thought proper.

"Believe me, dear Lady B., your obliged," &c.

This negotiation, of which I know not the results, nor whether, indeed, it ever ended in any, led naturally and frequently to conversations on the subject of his marriage,—a topic he was himself always the first to turn to,—and the account which he then gave, as well of the circumstances of the separation, as of his own entire unconsciousness of the immediate causes that provoked it, was, I find, exactly such as, upon every occasion when the subject presented itself, he, with an air of sincerity in which it was impossible not to confide, promulgated. "Of what really led to the separation (said he, in the course of one of these conversations,) I declare to you that, even at this moment, I am wholly ignorant; as Lady Byron would never assign her motives, and has refused to answer my letters. I have written to her repeatedly, and am still in the habit of doing so. Some of these letters I have sent, and others I did not, simply because I despaired of their doing any good. You may, however, see some of them if you like;—they may serve to throw some light upon my feelings."

In a day or two after, accordingly, one of these withheld letters was sent by him, enclosed in the following, to Lady ——.


"Albaro, May 6.1828.

My dear Lady ——,

I send you the letter which I had forgotten, and the book[1], which I ought to have remembered. It contains (the book, I mean,) some melancholy truths; though I believe that it is too triste a work ever to have been popular. The first time I ever read it (not the edition I send you,—for I got it since,) was at the desire of Madame de Stael, who was supposed by the good-natured world to be the heroine;—which she was not, however, and was furious at the supposition. This occurred in Switzerland, in the summer of 1816, and the last season in which I ever saw that celebrated person.

[Footnote 1: Adolphe, by M. Benjamin Constant.]

"I have a request to make to my friend Alfred (since he has not disdained the title), viz. that he would condescend to add a cap to the gentleman in the jacket,—it would complete his costume,—and smooth his brow, which is somewhat too inveterate a likeness of the original, God help me!"

"I did well to avoid the water-party,—why, is a mystery, which is not less to be wondered at than all my other mysteries. Tell Milor that I am deep in his MS., and will do him justice by a diligent perusal."

"The letter which I enclose I was prevented from sending by my despair of its doing any good. I was perfectly sincere when I wrote it, and am so still. But it is difficult for me to withstand the thousand provocations on that subject, which both friends and foes have for seven years been throwing in the way of a man whose feelings were once quick, and whose temper was never patient. But 'returning were as tedious as go o'er.' I feel this as much as ever Macbeth did; and it is a dreary sensation, which at least avenges the real or imaginary wrongs of one of the two unfortunate persons whom it concerns."

"But I am going to be gloomy;—so 'to bed, to bed.' Good night,—or rather morning. One of the reasons why I wish to avoid society is, that I can never sleep after it, and the pleasanter it has been the less I rest."

"Ever most truly," &c. &c.

I shall now produce the enclosure contained in the above; and there are few, I should think, of my readers who will not agree with me in pronouncing, that if the author of the following letter had not right on his side, he had at least most of those good feelings which are found in general to accompany it.



Pisa, November 17. 1821.

I have to acknowledge the receipt of 'Ada's hair,'which is very soft and pretty, and nearly as dark already as mine was at twelve years old, if I may judge from what I recollect of some in Augusta's possession, taken at that age. But it don't curl,—perhaps from its being let grow.

"I also thank you for the inscription of the date and name, and I will tell you why;—I believe that they are the only two or three words of your handwriting in my possession. For your letters I returned, and except the two words, or rather the one word, 'Household,' written twice in an old account book, I have no other. I burnt your last note, for two reasons:—firstly, it was written in a style not very agreeable; and, secondly, I wished to take your word without documents, which are the worldly resources of suspicious people.

I suppose that this note will reach you somewhere about Ada's birthday—the 10th of December, I believe. She will then be six, so that in about twelve more I shall have some chance of meeting her;—perhaps sooner, if I am obliged to go to England by business or otherwise. Recollect, however, one thing, either in distance or nearness;—every day which keeps us asunder should, after so long a period, rather soften our mutual feelings, which must always have one rallying-point as long as our child exists, which I presume we both hope will be long after either of her parents.

The time which has elapsed since the separation has been considerably more than the whole brief period of our union, and the not much longer one of our prior acquaintance. We both made a bitter mistake; but now it is over, and irrevocably so. For, at thirty-three on my part, and a few years less on yours, though it is no very extended period of life, still it is one when the habits and thought are generally so formed as to admit of no modification; and as we could not agree when younger, we should with difficulty do so now.

I say all this, because I own to you, that, notwithstanding every thing, I considered our re-union as not impossible for more than a year after the separation;—but then I gave up the hope entirely and for ever. But this very impossibility of re-union seems to me at least a reason why, on all the few points of discussion which can arise between us, we should preserve the courtesies of life, and as much of its kindness as people who are never to meet may preserve perhaps more easily than nearer connections. For my own part, I am violent, but not malignant; for only fresh provocations can awaken my resentments. To you, who are colder and more concentrated, I would just hint, that you may sometimes mistake the depth of a cold anger for dignity, and a worse feeling for duty. I assure you that I bear you now (whatever I may have done) no resentment whatever. Remember, that if you have injured me in aught, this forgiveness is something; and that, if I have injured you, it is something more still, if it be true, as the moralists say, that the most offending are the least forgiving.

"Whether the offence has been solely on my side, or reciprocal, or on yours chiefly, I have ceased to reflect upon any but two things,—viz. that you are the mother of my child, and that we shall never meet again. I think if you also consider the two corresponding points with reference to myself, it will be better for all three.

"Yours ever,


It has been my plan, as must have been observed, wherever my materials have furnished me with the means, to leave the subject of my Memoir to relate his own story; and this object, during the two or three years of his life just elapsed, I have been enabled by the rich resources in my hands, with but few interruptions, to attain. Having now, however, reached that point of his career from which a new start was about to be taken by his excursive spirit, and a course, glorious as it was brief and fatal, entered upon,—a moment of pause may be permitted while we look back through the last few years, and for a while dwell upon the spectacle, at once grand and painful, which his life during that most unbridled period of his powers exhibited.

In a state of unceasing excitement, both of heart and brain,—for ever warring with the world's will, yet living but in the world's breath,—with a genius taking upon itself all shapes, from Jove down to Scapin, and a disposition veering with equal facility to all points of the moral compass,—not even the ancient fancy of the existence of two souls within one bosom would seem at all adequately to account for the varieties, both of power and character, which the course of his conduct and writings during these few feverish years displayed. Without going back so far as the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, which one of his bitterest and ablest assailants has pronounced to be, "in point of execution, the sublimest poetical achievement of mortal pen," we have, in a similar strain of strength and splendour, the Prophecy of Dante, Cain, the Mystery of Heaven and Earth, Sardanapalus,—all produced during this wonderful period of his genius. To these also are to be added four other dramatic pieces, which, though the least successful of his compositions, have yet, as Poems, few equals in our literature; while, in a more especial degree, they illustrate the versatility of taste and power so remarkable in him, as being founded, and to this very circumstance, perhaps, owing their failure, on a severe classic model, the most uncongenial to his own habits and temperament, and the most remote from that bold, unshackled license which it had been the great mission of his genius, throughout the whole realms of Mind, to assert.

In contrast to all these high-toned strains, and struck off during the same fertile period, we find his Don Juan—in itself an epitome of all the marvellous contrarieties of his character—the Vision of Judgment, the Translation from Pulci, the Pamphlets on Pope, on the British Review, on Blackwood,—together with a swarm of other light, humorous trifles, all flashing forth carelessly from the same mind that was, almost at the same moment, personating, with a port worthy of such a presence, the mighty spirit of Dante, or following the dark footsteps of Scepticism over the ruins of past worlds, with Cain.

All this time, too, while occupied with these ideal creations, the demands upon his active sympathies, in real life, were such as almost any mind but his own would have found sufficient to engross its every thought and feeling. An amour, not of that light, transient kind which "goes without a burden," but, on the contrary, deep-rooted enough to endure to the close of his days, employed as restlessly with its first hopes and fears a portion of this period as with the entanglements to which it led, political and domestic, it embarrassed the remainder. Scarcely, indeed, had this disturbing passion begun to calm, when a new source of excitement presented itself in that conspiracy into which he flung himself so fearlessly, and which ended, as we have seen, but in multiplying the objects of his sympathy and protection, and driving him to a new change of home and scene.

When we consider all these distractions that beset him, taking into account also the frequent derangement of his health, and the time and temper he must have thrown away on the minute drudgery of watching over every item of his household expenditure, the mind is lost in almost incredulous astonishment at the wonders he was able to achieve under such circumstances—at the variety and prodigality of power with which, in the midst of such interruptions and hinderances, his "bright soul broke out on every side," and not only held on its course, unclogged, through all these difficulties, but even extracted out of the very struggles and annoyances it encountered new nerve for its strength, and new fuel for its fire.

While thus at this period, more remarkably than at any other during his life, the unparalleled versatility of his genius was unfolding itself, those quick, cameleon-like changes of which his character, too, was capable were, during the same time, most vividly, and in strongest contrast, drawn out. To the world, and more especially to England,—the scene at once of his glories and his wrongs,—he presented himself in no other aspect than that of a stern, haughty misanthrope, self-banished from the fellowship of men, and, most of all, from that of Englishmen. The more genial and beautiful inspirations of his muse were, in this point of view, looked upon but as lucid intervals between the paroxysms of an inherent malignancy of nature; and even the laughing effusions of his wit and humour got credit for no other aim than that which Swift boasted of, as the end of all his own labours, "to vex the world rather than divert it."

How totally all this differed from the Byron of the social hour, they who lived in familiar intercourse with him may be safely left to tell. The sort of ferine reputation which he had acquired for himself abroad prevented numbers, of course, of his countrymen, whom he would have most cordially welcomed, from seeking his acquaintance. But, as it was, no English gentleman ever approached him, with the common forms of introduction, that did not come away at once surprised and charmed by the kind courtesy and facility of his manners, the unpretending play of his conversation, and, on a nearer intercourse, the frank, youthful spirits, to the flow of which he gave way with such a zest, as even to deceive some of those who best knew him into the impression, that gaiety was after all the true bent of his disposition.

To these contrasts which he presented, as viewed publicly and privately, is to be added also the fact, that, while braving the world's ban so boldly, and asserting man's right to think for himself with a freedom and even daringness unequalled, the original shyness of his nature never ceased to hang about him; and while at a distance he was regarded as a sort of autocrat in intellect, revelling in all the confidence of his own great powers, a somewhat nearer observation enabled a common acquaintance at Venice[1] to detect, under all this, traces of that self-distrust and bashfulness which had marked him as a boy, and which never entirely forsook him through the whole of his career.

[Footnote 1: The Countess Albrizzi—see her Sketch of his Character.]

Still more singular, however, than this contradiction between the public and private man,—a contradiction not unfrequent, and, in some cases, more apparent than real, as depending upon the relative position of the observer,—were those contrarieties and changes not less startling, which his character so often exhibited, as compared with itself. He who, at one moment, was seen intrenched in the most absolute self-will, would, at the very next, be found all that was docile and amenable. To-day, storming the world in its strong-holds, as a misanthrope and satirist—to-morrow, learning, with implicit obedience, to fold a shawl, as a Cavaliere—the same man who had so obstinately refused to surrender, either to friendly remonstrance or public outcry, a single line of Don Juan, at the mere request of a gentle Donna agreed to cease it altogether; nor would venture to resume this task (though the chief darling of his muse) till, with some difficulty, he had obtained leave from the same ascendant quarter. Who, indeed, is there that, without some previous clue to his transformations, could have been at all prepared to recognise the coarse libertine of Venice in that romantic and passionate lover who, but a few months after, stood weeping before the fountain in the garden at Bologna? or, who could have expected to find in the close calculator of sequins and baiocchi, that generous champion of Liberty whose whole fortune, whose very life itself were considered by him but as trifling sacrifices for the advancement, but by a day, of her cause?

And here naturally our attention is drawn to the consideration of another feature of his character, connected more intimately with the bright epoch of his life now before us. Notwithstanding his strongly marked prejudices in favour of rank and high birth, we have seen with what ardour,—not only in fancy and theory, bet practically, as in the case of the Italian Carbonari,—he embarked his sympathies unreservedly on the current of every popular movement towards freedom. Though of the sincerity of this zeal for liberty the seal set upon it so solemnly by his death leaves us no room to doubt, a question may fairly arise whether that general love of excitement, let it flow from whatever source it might, by which, more or less, every pursuit of his whole life was actuated, was not predominant among the impulses that governed him in this; and, again, whether it is not probable that, like Alfieri and other aristocratic lovers of freedom, he would not ultimately have shrunk from the result of his own equalising doctrines; and, though zealous enough in lowering those above his own level, rather recoil from the task of raising up those who were below it.

With regard to the first point, it may be conceded, without deducting much from his sincere zeal in the cause, that the gratification of his thirst of fame, and, above all, perhaps, that supply of excitement so necessary to him, to whet, as it were, the edge of his self-wearing spirit, were not the least of the attractions and incitements which a struggle under the banners of Freedom presented to him. It is also but too certain that, destined as he was to endless disenchantment, from that singular and painful union which existed in his nature of the creative imagination that calls up illusions, and the cool, searching sagacity that, at once, detects their hollowness, he could not long have gone on, even in a path so welcome to him, without finding the hopes with which his fancy had strewed it withering away beneath him at every step.

In politics, as in every other pursuit, his ambition was to be among the first; nor would it have been from the want of a due appreciation of all that is noblest and most disinterested in patriotism, that he would ever have stooped his flight to any less worthy aim. The following passage in one of his Journals will be remembered by the reader:—"To be the first man (not the Dictator), not the Sylla, but the Washington, or Aristides, the leader in talent and truth, is to be next to the Divinity." With such high and pure notions of political eminence, he could not be otherwise than fastidious as to the means of attaining it; nor can it be doubted that with the sort of vulgar and sometimes sullied instruments which all popular leaders must stoop to employ, his love of truth, his sense of honour, his impatience of injustice, would have led him constantly into such collisions as must have ended in repulsion and disgust; while the companionship of those beneath him, a tax all demagogues must pay, would, as soon as it had ceased to amuse his fancy for the new and the ridiculous, have shocked his taste and mortified his pride. The distaste with which, as appears from more than one of his letters, he was disposed to view the personal, if not the political, attributes of what is commonly called the Radical party in England, shows how unsuited he was naturally to mix in that kind of popular fellowship which, even to those far less aristocratic in their notions and feelings, must be sufficiently trying.

But, even granting that all these consequences might safely be predicted as almost certain to result from his engaging in such a career, it by no means the more necessarily follows that, once engaged, he would not have persevered in it consistently and devotedly to the last; nor that, even if reduced to say, with Cicero, "nil boni praeter causam," he could not have so far abstracted the principle of the cause from its unworthy supporters as, at the same time, to uphold the one and despise the others. Looking back, indeed, from the advanced point where we are now arrived through the whole of his past career, we cannot fail to observe, pervading all its apparent changes and inconsistencies, an adherence to the original bias of his nature, a general consistency in the main, however shifting and contradictory the details, which had the effect of preserving, from first to last, all his views and principles, upon the great subjects that interested him through life, essentially unchanged.[1]

[Footnote 1: Colonel Stanhope, who saw clearly this leading character of Byron's mind, has thus justly described it:—"Lord Byron's was a versatile and still a stubborn mind; it wavered, but always returned to certain fixed principles."]

At the worst, therefore, though allowing that, from disappointment or disgust, he might have been led to withdraw all personal participation in such a cause, in no case would he have shown himself a recreant to its principles; and though too proud to have ever descended, like Egalite, into the ranks of the people, he would have been far too consistent to pass, like Alfieri, into those of their enemies.

After the failure of those hopes with which he had so sanguinely looked forward to the issue of the late struggle between Italy and her rulers, it may be well conceived what a relief it was to him to turn his eyes to Greece, where a spirit was now rising such as he had himself imaged forth in dreams of song, but hardly could have even dreamed that he should live to see it realised. His early travels in that country had left a lasting impression on his mind; and whenever, as I have before remarked, his fancy for a roving life returned, it was to the regions about the "blue Olympus" he always fondly looked back. Since his adoption of Italy as a home, this propensity had in a great degree subsided. In addition to the sedatory effects of his new domestic r, there had, at this time, grown upon him a degree of inertness, or indisposition to change of residence, which, in the instance of his departure from Ravenna, was with some difficulty surmounted.

The unsettled state of life he was from thenceforward thrown into, by the precarious fortunes of those with whom he had connected himself, conspired with one or two other causes to revive within him all his former love of change and adventure; nor is it wonderful that to Greece, as offering both in their most exciting form, he should turn eagerly his eyes, and at once kindle with a desire not only to witness, but perhaps share in, the present triumphs of Liberty on those very fields where he had already gathered for immortality such memorials of her day long past.

Among the causes that concurred with this sentiment to determine him to the enterprise he now meditated, not the least powerful, undoubtedly, was the supposition in his own mind that the high tide of his poetical popularity had been for some time on the ebb. The utter failure of the Liberal,—in which, splendid as were some of his own contributions to it, there were yet others from his pen hardly to be distinguished from the surrounding dross,—confirmed him fully in the notion that he had at last wearied out his welcome with the world; and, as the voice of fame had become almost as necessary to him as the air he breathed, it was with a proud consciousness of the yet untouched reserves of power within him he now saw that, if arrived at the end of one path of fame, there were yet others for him to strike into, still more glorious.

That some such vent for the resources of his mind had long been contemplated by him appears from a letter of his to myself, in which it will be recollected he says,—"If I live ten years longer, you will see that it is not over with me. I don't mean in literature, for that is nothing; and—it may seem odd enough to say—I do not think it was my vocation. But you will see that I shall do something,—the times and Fortune permitting,—that 'like the cosmogony of the world will puzzle the philosophers of all ages.'" He then adds this but too true and sad prognostic:—"But I doubt whether my constitution will hold out."

His zeal in the cause of Italy, whose past history and literature seemed to call aloud for redress of her present vassalage and wrongs, would have, no doubt, led him to the same chivalrous self-devotion in her service, as he displayed afterwards in that of Greece. The disappointing issue, however, of that brief struggle is but too well known; and this sudden wreck of a cause so promising pained him the more deeply from his knowledge of some of the brave and true hearts embarked in it. The disgust, indeed, which that abortive effort left behind, coupled with the opinion he had early formed of the "hereditary bonds-men" of Greece, had kept him for some time in a state of considerable doubt and misgiving as to their chances of ever working out their own enfranchisement; nor was it till the spring of this year, when, rather by the continuance of the struggle than by its actual success, some confidence had begun to be inspired in the trust-worthiness of the cause, that he had nearly made up his mind to devote himself to its aid. The only difficulty that still remained to retard or embarrass this resolution was the necessity it imposed of a temporary separation from Madame Guiccioli, who was herself, as might be expected, anxious to participate his perils, but whom it was impossible he could think of exposing to the chances of a life, even for men, so rude.

At the beginning of the month of April he received a visit from Mr. Blaquiere, who was then proceeding on a special mission to Greece, for the purpose of procuring for the Committee lately formed in London correct information as to the state and prospects of that country. It was among the instructions of this gentleman that he should touch at Genoa and communicate with Lord Byron; and the following note will show how cordially the noble poet was disposed to enter into all the objects of the Committee.


"Albaro, April 5. 1823.

"Dear Sir,

"I shall be delighted to see you and your Greek friend, and the sooner the better. I have been expecting you for some time,—you will find me at home. I cannot express to you how much I feel interested in the cause, and nothing but the hopes I entertained of witnessing the liberation of Italy itself prevented me long ago from returning to do what little I could, as an individual, in that land which it is an honour even to have visited.

"Ever yours truly, NOEL BYRON."

Soon after this interview with their agent, a more direct communication on the subject was opened between his Lordship and the Committee itself.


"Genoa, May 12. 1823


"I have great pleasure in acknowledging your letter, and the honour which the Committee have done me:—I shall endeavour to deserve their confidence by every means in my power. My first wish is to go up into the Levant in person, where I might be enabled to advance, if not the cause, at least the means of obtaining information which the Committee might be desirous of acting upon; and my former residence in the country, my familiarity with the Italian language, (which is there universally spoken, or at least to the same extent as French in the more polished parts of the Continent,) and my not total ignorance of the Romaic, would afford me some advantages of experience. To this project the only objection is of a domestic nature, and I shall try to get over it;—if I fail in this, I must do what I can where I am; but it will be always a source of regret to me, to think that I might perhaps have done more for the cause on the spot.

"Our last information of Captain Blaquiere is from Ancona, where he embarked with a fair wind for Corfu, on the 15th ult.; he is now probably at his destination. My last letter from him personally was dated Rome; he had been refused a passport through the Neapolitan territory, and returned to strike up through Romagna for Ancona:—little time, however, appears to have been lost by the delay.

"The principal material wanted by the Greeks appears to be, first, a park of field artillery—light, and fit for mountain-service; secondly, gunpowder; thirdly, hospital or medical stores. The readiest mode of transmission is, I hear, by Idra, addressed to Mr. Negri, the minister. I meant to send up a certain quantity of the two latter—no great deal—but enough for an individual to show his good wishes for the Greek success,—but am pausing, because, in case I should go myself, I can take them with me. I do not want to limit my own contribution to this merely, but more especially, if I can get to Greece myself, I should devote whatever resources I can muster of my own, to advancing the great object. I am in correspondence with Signor Nicolas Karrellas (well known to Mr. Hobhouse), who is now at Pisa; but his latest advice merely stated, that the Greeks are at present employed in organising their internal government, and the details of its administration: this would seem to indicate security, but the war is however far from being terminated.

"The Turks are an obstinate race, as all former wars have proved them, and will return to the charge for years to come, even if beaten, as it is to be hoped they will be. But in no case can the labours of the Committee be said to be in vain; for in the event even of the Greeks being subdued, and dispersed, the funds which could be employed in succouring and gathering together the remnant, so as to alleviate in part their distresses, and enable them to find or make a country (as so many emigrants of other nations have been compelled to do), would 'bless both those who gave and those who took,' as the bounty both of justice and of mercy.

"With regard to the formation of a brigade, (which Mr. Hobhouse hints at in his short letter of this day's receipt, enclosing the one to which I have the honour to reply,) I would presume to suggest—but merely as an opinion, resulting rather from the melancholy experience of the brigades embarked in the Columbian service than from any experiment yet fairly tried in GREECE,—that the attention of the Committee had better perhaps be directed to the employment of officers of experience than the enrolment of raw British soldiers, which latter are apt to be unruly, and not very serviceable, in irregular warfare, by the side of foreigners. A small body of good officers, especially artillery; an engineer, with quantity (such as the Committee might deem requisite) of stores of the nature which Captain Blaquiere indicated as most wanted, would, I should conceive, be a highly useful accession. Officers, also, who had previously served in the Mediterranean would be preferable, as some knowledge of Italian is nearly indispensable.

"It would also be as well that they should be aware, that they are not going 'to rough it on a beef-steak and bottle of port,'—but that Greece—never, of late years, very plentifully stocked for a mess—is at present the country of all kinds of privations. This remark may seem superfluous; but I have been led to it, by observing that many foreign officers, Italian, French, and even Germans (butfewer of the latter), have returned in disgust, imagining either that they were going up to make a party of pleasure, or to enjoy full pay, speedy promotion, and a very moderate degree of duty. They complain, too, of having been ill received by the Government or inhabitants; but numbers of these complainants were mere adventurers, attracted by a hope of command and plunder, and disappointed of both. Those Greeks I have seen strenuously deny the charge of inhospitality, and declare that they shared their pittance to the last crum with their foreign volunteers.

"I need not suggest to the Committee the very great advantage which must accrue to Great Britain from the success of the Greeks, and their probable commercial relations with England in consequence; because I feel persuaded that the first object of the Committee is their EMANCIPATION, without any interested views. But the consideration might weigh with the English people in general, in their present passion for every kind of speculation,—they need not cross the American seas, for one much better worth their while, and nearer home. The resources even for an emigrant population, in the Greek islands alone, are rarely to be paralleled; and the cheapness of every kind of, not only necessary, but luxury, (that is to say, luxury of nature,) fruits, wine, oil, &c. in a state of peace, are far beyond those of the Cape, and Van Dieman's Land, and the other places of refuge, which the English people are searching for over the waters.

"I beg that the Committee will command me in any and every way. If I am favoured with any instructions, I shall endeavour to obey them to the letter, whether conformable to my own private opinion or not. I beg leave to add, personally, my respect for the gentleman whom I have the honour of addressing,

"And am, Sir, your obliged, &c.

"P.S. The best refutation of Gell will be the active exertions of the Committee;—I am too warm a controversialist; and I suspect that if Mr. Hobhouse have taken him in hand, there will be little occasion for me to 'encumber him with help.' If I go up into the country, I will endeavour to transmit as accurate and impartial an account as circumstances will permit.

"I shall write to Mr. Karrellas. I expect intelligence from Captain Blaquiere, who has promised me some early intimation from the seat of the Provisional Government. I gave him a letter of introduction to Lord Sydney Osborne, at Corfu; but as Lord S. is in the government service, of course his reception could only be a cautious one."


"Genoa, May 21. 1823.


"I received yesterday the letter of the Committee, dated the 14th of March. What has occasioned the delay, I know not. It was forwarded by Mr. Galignani, from Paris, who stated that he had only had it in his charge four days, and that it was delivered to him by a Mr. Grattan. I need hardly say that I gladly accede to the proposition of the Committee, and hold myself highly honoured by being deemed worthy to be a member. I have also to return my thanks, particularly to yourself, for the accompanying letter, which is extremely flattering.

"Since I last wrote to you, through the medium of Mr. Hobhouse, I have received and forwarded a letter from Captain Blaquiere to me, from Corfu, which will show how he gets on. Yesterday I fell in with two young Germans, survivors of General Normann's band. They arrived at Genoa in the most deplorable state—without food—without a soul—without shoes. The Austrians had sent them out of their territory on their landing at Trieste; and they had been forced to come down to Florence, and had travelled from Leghorn here, with four Tuscan livres (about three francs) in their pockets. I have given them twenty Genoese scudi (about a hundred and thirty-three livres, French money,) and new shoes, which will enable them to get to Switzerland, where they say that they have friends. All that they could raise in Genoa, besides, was thirty sous. They do not complain of the Greeks, but say that they have suffered more since their landing in Italy.

"I tried their veracity, 1st, by their passports and papers; 2dly, by topography, cross-questioning them about Arta, Argos, Athens, Missolonghi, Corinth, c.; and, 3dly, in Romaic, of which I found one of them, at least, knew more than I do. One of them (they are both of good families) is a fine handsome young fellow of three-and-twenty—a Wirtembergher, and has a look of Sandt about him—the other a Bavarian, older and flat-faced, and less ideal, but a great, sturdy, soldier-like personage. The Wirtembergher was in the action at Arta, where the Philhellenists were cut to pieces after killing six hundred Turks, they themselves being only a hundred and fifty in number, opposed to about six or seven thousand; only eight escaped, and of them about three only survived; so that General Normann 'posted his ragamuffins where they were well peppered—not three of the hundred and fifty left alive—and they are for the town's end for life.'

"These two left Greece by the direction of the Greeks. When Churschid Pacha over-run the Morea, the Greeks seem to have behaved well, in wishing to save their allies, when they thought that the game was up with themselves. This was in September last (1822): they wandered from island to island, and got from Milo to Smyrna, where the French consul gave them a passport, and a charitable captain a passage to Ancona, whence they got to Trieste, and were turned back by the Austrians. They complain only of the minister (who has always been an indifferent character); say that the Greeks fight very well in their own way, but were at first afraid to fire their own cannon—but mended with practice.

"Adolphe (the younger) commanded at Navarino for a short time; the other, a more material person, 'the bold Bavarian in a luckless hour,' seems chiefly to lament a fast of three days at Argos, and the loss of twenty-five paras a day of pay in arrear, and some baggage at Tripolitza; but takes his wounds, and marches, and battles in very good part. Both are very simple, full of naivete, and quite unpretending: they say the foreigners quarrelled among themselves, particularly the French with the Germans, which produced duels.

"The Greeks accept muskets, but throw away bayonets, and will not be disciplined. When these lads saw two Piedmontese regiments yesterday, they said, 'Ah! if we had but these two, we should have cleared the Morea:' in that case the Piedmontese must have behaved better than they did against the Austrians. They seem to lay great stress upon a few regular troops—say that the Greeks have arms and powder in plenty, but want victuals, hospital stores, and lint and linen, &c. and money, very much. Altogether, it would be difficult to show more practical philosophy than this remnant of our 'puir hill folk' have done; they do not seem the least cast down, and their way of presenting themselves was as simple and natural as could be. They said, a Dane here had told them that an Englishman, friendly to the Greek cause, was here, and that, as they were reduced to beg their way home, they thought they might as well begin with me. I write in haste to snatch the post.

"Believe me, and truly,

"Your obliged, &c.

"P.S. I have, since I wrote this, seen them again. Count P. Gamba asked them to breakfast. One of them means to publish his Journal of the campaign. The Bavarian wonders a little that the Greeks are not quite the same with them of the time of Themistocles, (they were not then very tractable, by the by,) and at the difficulty of disciplining them; but he is a 'bon homme' and a tactician, and a little like Dugald Dalgetty, who would insist upon the erection of 'a sconce on the hill of Drumsnab,' or whatever it was;—the other seems to wonder at nothing."


"May 17. 1823.

"My voyage to Greece will depend upon the Greek Committee (in England) partly, and partly on the instructions which some persons now in Greece on a private mission may be pleased to send me. I am a member, lately elected, of the said Committee; and my object in going up would be to do any little good in my power;—but as there are some pros and cons on the subject, with regard to how far the intervention of strangers may be advisable, I know no more than I tell you; but we shall probably hear something soon from England and Greece, which may be more decisive.

"With regard to the late person (Lord Londonderry), whom you hear that I have attacked, I can only say that a bad minister's memory is as much an object of investigation as his conduct while alive,—for his measures do not die with him like a private individual's notions. He is a matter of history; and, wherever I find a tyrant or a villain, I will mark him. I attacked him no more than I had been wont to do. As to the Liberal,—it was a publication set up for the advantage of a persecuted author and a very worthy man. But it was foolish in me to engage in it; and so it has turned out—for I have hurt myself without doing much good to those for whose benefit it was intended.

"Do not defend me—it will never do—you will only make yourself enemies.

"Mine are neither to be diminished nor softened, but they may be overthrown; and there are events which may occur, less improbable than those which have happened in our time, that may reverse the present state of things—nous verrons.

"I send you this gossip that you may laugh at it, which is all it is good for, if it is even good for so much. I shall be delighted to see you again; but it will be melancholy, should it be only for a moment.

"Ever yours, N. B."

It being now decided that Lord Byron should proceed forthwith to Greece, all the necessary preparations for his departure were hastened. One of his first steps was to write to Mr. Trelawney, who was then at Rome, to request that he would accompany him. "You must have heard," he says, "that I am going to Greece—why do you not come to me? I can do nothing without you, and am exceedingly anxious to see you. Pray, come, for I am at last determined to go to Greece:—it is the only place I was ever contented in. I am serious; and did not write before, as I might have given you a journey for nothing. They all say I can be of use to Greece; I do not know how—nor do they; but, at all events, let us go."

A physician, acquainted with surgery, being considered a necessary part of his suite, he requested of his own medical attendant at Genoa, Dr. Alexander, to provide him with such a person; and, on the recommendation of this gentleman, Dr. Bruno, a young man who had just left the university with considerable reputation, was engaged. Among other preparations for his expedition, he ordered three splendid helmets to be made,—with his never forgotten crest engraved upon them,—for himself and the two friends who were to accompany him. In this little circumstance, which in England (where the ridiculous is so much better understood than the heroic) excited some sneers at the time, we have one of the many instances that occur amusingly through his life, to confirm the quaint but, as applied to him, true observation, that "the child is father to the man;"—the characteristics of these two periods of life being in him so anomalously transposed, that while the passions and ripened views of the man developed themselves in his boyhood, so the easily pleased fancies and vanities of the boy were for ever breaking out among the most serious moments of his manhood. The same schoolboy whom we found, at the beginning of the first volume, boasting of his intention to raise, at some future time, a troop of horse in black armour, to be called Byron's Blacks, was now seen trying on with delight his fine crested helmet, and anticipating the deeds of glory he was to achieve under its plumes.

At the end of May a letter arrived from Mr. Blaquiere communicating to him very favourable intelligence, and requesting that he would as much as possible hasten his departure, as he was now anxiously looked for, and would be of the greatest service. However encouraging this summons, and though Lord Byron, thus called upon from all sides, had now determined to give freely the aid which all deemed so essential, it is plain from his letters that, in the cool, sagacious view which he himself took of the whole subject, so far from agreeing with these enthusiasts in their high estimate of his personal services, he had not yet even been able to perceive any definite way in which those services could, with any prospect of permanent utility, be applied.

For an insight into the true state of his mind at this crisis, the following observations of one who watched him with eyes quickened by anxiety will be found, perhaps, to afford the clearest and most certain clue. "At this time," says the Contessa Guiccioli, "Lord Byron again turned his thoughts to Greece; and, excited on every side by a thousand combining circumstances, found himself, almost before he had time to form a decision, or well know what he was doing, obliged to set out for that country. But, notwithstanding his affection for those regions,—notwithstanding the consciousness of his own moral energies, which made him say always that 'a man ought to do something more for society than write verses,'—notwithstanding the attraction which the object of this voyage must necessarily have for his noble mind, and that, moreover, he was resolved to return to Italy within a few months,—notwithstanding all this, every person who was near him at the time can bear witness to the struggle which his mind underwent (however much he endeavoured to hide it), as the period fixed for his departure approached."[1]

[Footnote 1: "Fu allora che Lord Byron rivolse i suoi pensieri alla Grecia; e stimolato poi da ogni parte per mille combinazioni egli si trovo quasi senza averlo deciso, e senza saperlo, obbligato di partire per la Grecia. Ma, non ostante il suo affetto per quelle contrade,—non ostante il sentimento delle sue forze morali che gli faceva dire sempre 'che un uomo e obbligato a fare per la societa qualche cosa di piu che dei versi,—non ostante le attrative che doveva avere pel nobile suo animo l'oggetto di que viaggio,—e non ostante che egli fosse determinato di ritornare in Italia fra non molti mesi,—pure in quale combattimento si trovasse il suo cuore mentre si avvanzava l'epoca della sua parenza (sebbene cercasse occultarlo) ognuno che lo ha avvicinato allora puu dirlo."]

In addition to the vagueness which this want of any defined object so unsatisfactorily threw round the enterprise before him, he had also a sort of ominous presentiment—natural, perhaps, to one of his temperament under such circumstances—that he was but fulfilling his own doom in this expedition, and should die in Greece. On the evening before the departure of his friends, Lord and Lady B——, from Genoa, he called upon them for the purpose of taking leave, and sat conversing for some time. He was evidently in low spirits, and after expressing his regret that they should leave Genoa before his own time of sailing, proceeded to speak of his intended voyage in a tone full of despondence. "Here," said he, "we are all now together—but when, and where, shall we meet again? I have a sort of boding that we see each other for the last time; as something tells me I shall never again return from Greece." Having continued a little longer in this melancholy strain, he leaned his head upon the arm of the sofa on which they were seated, and, bursting into tears, wept for some minutes with uncontrollable feeling. Though he had been talking only with Lady B——, all who were present in the room observed, and were affected by his emotion, while he himself, apparently ashamed of his weakness, endeavoured to turn off attention from it by some ironical remark, spoken with a sort of hysterical laugh, upon the effects of "nervousness."

He had, previous to this conversation, presented to each of the party some little farewell gift—a book to one, a print from his bust by Bartolini to another, and to Lady B—— a copy of his Armenian Grammar, which had some manuscript remarks of his own on the leaves. In now parting with her, having begged, as a memorial, some trifle which she had worn, the lady gave him one of her rings; in return for which he took a pin from his breast, containing a small cameo of Napoleon, which he said had long been his companion, and presented it to her Ladyship.

The next day Lady B—— received from him the following note.


"Albaro, June 2. 1823.

"My dear Lady B——, 'I am superstitious, and have recollected that memorials with a point are of less fortunate augury; I will, therefore, request you to accept, instead of the pin, the enclosed chain, which is of so slight a value that you need not hesitate. As you wished for something worn, I can only say, that it has been worn oftener and longer than the other. It is of Venetian manufacture; and the only peculiarity about it is, that it could only be obtained at or from Venice. At Genoa they have none of the same kind. I also enclose a ring, which I would wish Alfred to keep; it is too large to wear; but is formed of lava, and so far adapted to the fire of his years and character. You will perhaps have the goodness to acknowledge the receipt of this note, and send back the pin (for good luck's sake), which I shall value much more for having been a night in your custody.

"Ever and faithfully your obliged, &c.

"P.S. I hope your nerves are well to-day, and will continue to flourish."

In the mean time the preparations for his romantic expedition were in progress. With the aid of his banker and very sincere friend, Mr. Barry, of Genoa, he was enabled to raise the large sums of money necessary for his supply;—10,000 crowns in specie, and 40,000 crowns in bills of exchange, being the amount of what he took with him, and a portion of this having been raised upon his furniture and books, on which Mr. Barry, as I understand, advanced a sum far beyond their worth. An English brig, the Hercules, had been freighted to convey himself and his suite, which consisted, at this time, of Count Gamba, Mr. Trelawney, Dr. Bruno, and eight domestics. There were also aboard five horses, sufficient arms and ammunition for the use of his own party, two one-pounders belonging to his schooner, the Bolivar, which he had left at Genoa, and medicine enough for the supply of a thousand men for a year.

The following letter to the Secretary of the Greek Committee announces his approaching departure.


"July 7. 1823.

"We sail on the 12th for Greece.—I have had a letter from Mr, Blaquiere, too long for present transcription, but very satisfactory. The Greek Government expects me without delay.

"In conformity to the desires of Mr. B. and other correspondents in Greece, I have to suggest, with all deference to the Committee, that a remittance of even 'ten thousand pounds only' (Mr. B.'s expression) would be of the greatest service to the Greek Government at present. I have also to recommend strongly the attempt of a loan, for which there will be offered a sufficient security by deputies now on their way to England. In the mean time, I hope that the Committee will be enabled to do something effectual.

"For my own part, I mean to carry up, in cash or credits, above eight, and nearly nine thousand pounds sterling, which I am enabled to do by funds I have in Italy, and credits in England. Of this sum I must necessarily reserve a portion for the subsistence of myself and suite; the rest I am willing to apply in the manner which seems most likely to be useful to the cause—having of course some guarantee or assurance, that it will not be misapplied to any individual speculation.

"If I remain in Greece, which will mainly depend upon the presumed probable utility of my presence there, and of the opinion of the Greeks themselves as to its propriety—in short, if I am welcome to them, I shall continue, during my residence at least, to apply such portions of my income, present and future, as may forward the object—that is to say, what I can spare for that purpose. Privations I can, or at least could once bear—abstinence I am accustomed to—and as to fatigue, I was once a tolerable traveller. What I may be now, I cannot tell—but I will try.

"I await the commands of the Committee—Address to Genoa—the letters will be forwarded me, wherever I may be, by my bankers, Messrs. Webb and Barry. It would have given me pleasure to have had some more defined instructions before I went, but these, of course, rest at the option of the Committee.

I have the honour to be,

"Yours obediently, &c.

"P.S. Great anxiety is expressed for a printing press and types, &c. I have not the time to provide them, but recommend this to the notice of the Committee. I presume the types must, partly at least, be Greek: they wish to publish papers, and perhaps a Journal, probably in Romaic, with Italian translations."

All was now ready; and on the 13th of July himself and his whole party slept on board the Hercules. About sunrise the next morning they succeeded in clearing the port; but there was little wind, and they remained in sight of Genoa the whole day. The night was a bright moonlight, but the wind had become stormy and adverse, and they were, for a short time, in serious danger. Lord Byron, who remained on deck during the storm, was employed anxiously, with the aid of such of his suite as were not disabled by sea-sickness from helping him in preventing further mischief to the horses, which, having been badly secured, had broken loose and injured each other. After making head against the wind for three or four hours, the captain was at last obliged to steer back to Genoa, and re-entered the port at six in the morning. On landing again, after this unpromising commencement of his voyage, Lord Byron (says Count Gamba) "appeared thoughtful, and remarked that he considered a bad beginning a favourable omen."

It has been already, I believe, mentioned that, among the superstitions in which he chose to indulge, the supposed unluckiness of Friday, as a day for the commencement of any work, was one by which he, almost always, allowed himself to be influenced. Soon after his arrival at Pisa, a lady of his acquaintance happening to meet him on the road from her house as she was herself returning thither, and supposing that he had been to make her a visit, requested that he would go back with her. "I have not been to your house," he answered; "for, just before I got to the door, I remembered that it was Friday; and, not liking to make my first visit on a Friday, I turned back." It is even related of him that he once sent away a Genoese tailor who brought him home a new coat on the same ominous day.

With all this, strange to say, he set sail for Greece on a Friday:—and though, by those who have any leaning to this superstitious fancy, the result maybe thought but too sadly confirmatory of the omen, it is plain that either the influence of the superstition over his own mind was slight, or, in the excitement of self-devotion under which he now acted, was forgotten, In truth, notwithstanding his encouraging speech to Count Gamba, the forewarning he now felt of his approaching doom seems to have been far too deep and serious to need the aid of any such accessory. Having expressed a wish, on relanding, to visit his own palace, which he had left to the care of Mr. Barry during his absence, and from which Madame Guiccioli had early that morning departed, he now proceeded thither, accompanied by Count Gamba alone. "His conversation," says this gentleman, "was somewhat melancholy on our way to Albaro: he spoke much of his past life, and of the uncertainty of the future. 'Where,' said he, 'shall we be in a year?'—It looked (adds his friend) like a melancholy foreboding; for, on the same day, of the same month, in the next year, he was carried to the tomb of his ancestors."

It took nearly the whole of the day to repair the damages of their vessel; and the greater part of this interval was passed by Lord Byron, in company with Mr. Barry, at some gardens near the city. Here his conversation, as this gentleman informs me, took the same gloomy turn. That he had not fixed to go to England, in preference, seemed one of his deep regrets; and so hopeless were the views he expressed of the whole enterprise before him, that, as it appeared to Mr. Barry, nothing but a devoted sense of duty and honour could have determined him to persist in it.

In the evening of that day they set sail;—and now, fairly launched in the cause, and disengaged, as it were, from his former state of existence, the natural power of his spirit to shake off pressure, whether from within or without, began instantly to display itself. According to the report of one of his fellow-voyagers, though so clouded while on shore, no sooner did he find himself, once more, bounding over the waters, than all the light and life of his better nature shone forth. In the breeze that now bore him towards his beloved Greece, the voice of his youth seemed again to speak. Before the titles of hero, of benefactor, to which he now aspired, that of poet, however pre-eminent, faded into nothing. His love of freedom, his generosity, his thirst for the new and adventurous,—all were re-awakened; and even the bodings that still lingered at the bottom of his heart but made the course before him more precious from his consciousness of its brevity, and from the high and self-ennobling resolution he had now taken to turn what yet remained of it gloriously to account.

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