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44

ALARMING SITUATION

Lord Byron portioned her most liberally, and, carrying them to Venice, purchased a fishingvessel of eighteen tons burthen, in which her husband became what he thought in very opulent circumstances; and they were so grateful, that it was with difficulty they could be made to receive payment for the fish with which they supplied Lord Byron's table.

Francisco, whilst his Lordship travelled round the island, remained with Demetrius, and made himself not only agreeable to the old man, but his niece. A proposal was made by Demetrius to take Francisco into his service as a manager, at a very liberal salary, and Lord Byron was happy to settle him so comfortably for life. One morning, his Lordship went out early, as was by no means unusual with him, no one venturing at any time to take notice of any of his movements, which would have given him the greatest offence. In about two hours after his departure, the door was surrounded by Turks, making a most horrible outcry, and vowing vengeance on the heads of all the Christian dogs. Captain Fullinton, Francisco, and Lord Byron's suite, were confined in a close room, guarded by six Turks, armed with pistols and sabres, and thirsting for the blood of their devoted victims. The captain growled and swore, and Francisco, for the first time since he had been expelled the church, prayed to all the saints in the calendar for protection. It was said that his

OF LORD BYRON'S SUITE.

Lordship had shot a Turk, and got safe on board, so that those left behind deemed their doom was sealed, and their death certain. Demetrius had obtained permission to go to the Governor, and by a well-timed bribe he discovered the truth : the Turks wished to have it believed that their comrade was killed, in order to extort money from the prisoners; but he was alive, and only very slightly wounded. The fellow, presuming on the law for disarming all persons in the Grecian Islands, had insisted upon Lord Byron's yielding up his arms, which he intended to appropriate to his own use. Lord Byron resisted, and fired, with the intention only of terrifying the scoundrel, who instantly fled, and Lord Byron, aware of the consequences of such an action, got on board his own vessel, which was standing off and on in the bay. The captives were well assured that he would use every effort for their liberation, and would even surrender himself rather than suffer others to be punished for his own act; but even that, perhaps, would not ensure their safety. Demetrius having claimed Francisco as his servant, he was released, and soon after brought the dismal tidings that all was now lost, as a Turkish frigate had just arrived in the bay and made prize of Lord Byron's vessel, which was moored under her stern. The guns of the frigate and the fort were heard saluting each other, and seemed to announce the death knell of the prisoners. The guards at length came to

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conduct them to the Governor, and they were taken by a circuitous route into the garden of the palace, fearing they should be executed secretly, as is usual with the Mussulmans. They passed through a long hall, lined with soldiers, with drawn sabres in their hands; and were brought into the Governor's presence, who regarded them most ferociously. Matters wore the most dismal aspect, and they expected orders for their instant execution, when the doors were thrown open, and Lord Byron entered the hall with Hassan Hadgee, the captain of the Turkish frigate (with whom he had been well acquainted during his stay at Constantinople), and followed by Francisco, who had contrived to get on board the vessel and acquaint Lord Byron with the dreadful situation into which his imprudence had brought his friends. The captain of the frigate, on being apprized of all the circumstances, landed with Lord Byron ; matters were soon settled to the satisfaction of the Governor, and a present made to the soldiers rendered

them loud in praise of the infidels, whose throats , but a few moments before they had been eager for the signal of cutting

A longer stay in Cyprus would not have been safe, so after making acknowledgments to the Turkish captain, Lord Byron and friends got on board and set sail, hoping never more to set eyes on Cyprus ; at least under the verge de feu of the Mussulman savages.

( 47 )

CHAPTER II,

Lord Byron brings out three dramatic pieces at once :

“ Sardanapalus," _“ The two Foscari,”-and a Mystery intitled “ Cain;" the latter work pirated: and on a motion to stop the sale, the Lord High Chancellor refuses, alledging that the work is of an improper tendency. Lord Byron vindicates his publisher, and takes the blame wholly on himself. The Rev. Mr. Styles preaches and publishes against Lord Byron's Cain and other works.—He is reminded of Æsop's Fable of the Ass and the Sick Lion.

LORD BYRON was not a man to be intimidated by the sneer of criticism, nor to be daunted by the public diapprobation of his dramatic attempt. The former he repelled by giving blow for blow; and he determined to show his disregard of the latter by pursuing his own course. He avowed that he did not write for the stage, and if his tragedy was not hailed with applause in the theatre, it was sure to be read by every man of taste in the closet.

Very shortly after the appearance of Marino Faliero,” he brought forward a volume containing three dramatic pieces, two of them regularly constructed tragedies, and the third styled (after the old English fashion of compositions founded on scriptural stories) a mystery. These dramas were 48

EXPLANATORY PREFACE.

ushered into the world by the following introductory observations, in which the author avows his determination of following his own judgment in preference of bowing to the taste of the public:

“ In publishing the following tragedies, I have only to repeat that they were not composed with the most remote view of the stage.

“ On the attempt made by the Managers in a former instance, the public opinion has been already exhibited.

“ With regard to my own private feelings, as it seems that they are to stand for nothing, I shall say nothing

" For the historical foundation of the following compositions the reader is referred to the notes.

“ The author has, in one instance, attempted to preserve, and in the other to approach, the unities,' conceiving that with any very distant departure from them, there may be poetry, but can be no drama. He is aware of the unpopularity of this notion in the present state of English literature; but it is not a system of his own, being merely an opinion which, not very long ago, was the law of literature throughout the world, and is still so in the more civilized parts of it. But nous avons changé tout cela, and are reaping the advantage of the change. The writer is far from conceiving that any thing he can adduce by personal precept or example, can at all approach his regular or even irregular predecessors: he is merely giving

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