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for this purpose the vessel deviated from its regular course in order to pass the island of Stromboli. The vessel lay off this place a whole night in the hopes of witnessing the usual phenomena, when, for the first time within the memory of man, the volcano emitted no fire—the disappointed poet was obliged to proceed, in no good humour with the fabled forge of Vulcan.
Lord Byron was an eager and constant observer of nature, and generally spent the principal part of the night in solitary contemplation of the objects that present themselves in a sea voyage: “ For many a joy could he from night's soft presence glean.” He was far above any affectation of poetical ecstasy, but his whole works demonstrate the sincere delight he took in feeding his imagination with the glories of the material world. Marine imagery is more characteristic of his writings than those of any other poet, and it was to the Mediterranean and its sunny shores that he was indebted for it all.
-As the stately vessel glided slow
It was a point of the greatest importance to determine on the particular part of Greece to which his Lordship should direct his course—the country was afflicted by intestine divisions, and Lord Byron thought that if he wished to serve it, he must keep aloof from faction. The different parties had their different seats of influence, and to choose a residence, if not in fact, was in appearance to choose a party. In a country where communication is impeded by natural obstacles and unassisted by civilized regulations, which had scarcely succeeded in expelling a barbarian master, and where the clashing interests of contending factions often make it advantageous to conceal the truth, the extreme difficulty of procuring accurate information may be easily supposed. It, therefore, became necessary to make some stay in a place which might serve as a convenient post of observation, and from which assistance could be rendered where it appeared to be most needed. Cephalonia was fixed upon; where Lord Byron was extremely well received by the English civil and military authorities, who, generally speaking, seemed well inclined to further the objects of his visit to Greece. Anxjous, however, to avoid involving the government of the island in any difficulty respecting himself, or for some other cause, he remained on board the vessel until further intelligence could be procured.
At the time of Lord Byron's arrival in the Ionian Islands, Greece, though even then an intelligent observer could scarcely entertain a doubt of her ultimate success, was in a most unsettled state. The third campaign had commenced, and had already been marked by several instances of distinguished success. Odysseus and Niketas had already effectually harassed and dispersed the two armies of Yusuff Pasha, and Mustapha Pasha, who had entered Eastern Greece by the passes of Thermopylæ. Corinth, still held by the Turks, was reduced to the greatest extremitiesand, indeed, surrendered in the course of the autumn.—The Morea might almost be said to be thoroughly emancipated. Patras Modon, and Coron, and the Castle of the Morea, did then and still hold out against the combined assaults of famine and the troops of the besiegers. But the ancient Peloponnesus had, at this moment, more to fear from the dissensions of its chiefs, than the efforts of the enemy-they had absolutely assumed something like the character of a civil war. The
generals had been ordered on different services, when it appeared that the funds destined for the maintenance of their armies were already consumed in satisfying old demands for arrears. Much confusion arose, and a bloody conflict actually took place in the streets of Tripolitza, between a troop of Spartiates and another of Arcadians, the followers of rival leaders. The military chiefs, at the head of whom was the able but avaricious Colocotronis, at that time Vicepresident of the Executive Government, were jealous of the party which may be termed the civil faction. Over this party presided Mavrocordatos, who, as a Constantinopolitan, was considered as a foreigner, and who, on account of his being a dexterous diplomatist, a good letter-writer, and a lover of intrigue, was regarded with feelings of jealousy and hatred by the rude and iron-handed generals of the Morea. Mavrocordatos was Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and was accused of holding correspondence with foreign Courts without the knowledge of the Government, and of aiming at getting himself elected the President of the Legislative Body. It turned out that the actual President fled from the seat of government, and that Mavrocordatos was elected into
the office. He too was soon obliged to retreat, and had just resigned the office and retired to the island of Hydra, where the civil and commercial party was strong, and where he was held in considerable estimation, when Lord Byron arrived at Cephalonia.
At this moment, too, Western Greece was in a very critical situation-Mustapha, Pasha of Scutari, was advancing into Acarnania in large force, and was on the point of being resisted by the chivalrous devotion of the brave Marco Botzaris. This chief, worthy of the best days of Greece, succeeded on the 9th of August (O.S.) by his famous night-attack in cutting off a considerable part of the Turkish army,—and fell a sacrifice to his generous efforts. In spite of this check, however, the Pasha advanced and proceeded towards Anatolicon and Messolonghi ; the latter place was invested by Mustapha, and the Albanian chief, Omer Vriones, by the early part of October. The Turkish fleet had arrived in the waters of Patras about the middle of June, and continued to blockade (at least nominally) Messolongbi, and all the other ports of Western Greece, up to the arrival of Lord Byron.
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