George Gordon, Lord Byron
In the beginning of January 1824, he entered Missolonghi, where the inhabitants, who hailed his coming as that of a Messiah, received him with enthusiastic demonstrations of respect and applause. He began by attempting to induce the Greeks to a more civilized system of warfare than had been lately carried on; and, with this view, he not only personally rescued a Turk from some Greek sailors, on the very day of his landing, but released several prisoners in the town, and sent them back to Prevesa, in the hope that it would beget a similar mode of treatment towards the captives in the hands of the Turks. He then formed a brigade of Stiliotes, five hundred of whom he took into his pay; and 'burning,' says Colonel Stanhope, with military ardor and chivalry, prepared to lead them to Lepanto.' The insubordination, however, among the troops, and the differences that hourly arose amid the half-famished and ill-accoutred garrison, rendered this step impracticable, and threw him into a state of feverish irritation, that destroyed his self-possession at a time when it was most necessary to the cause he was struggling to serve. An attack of epilepsy was the con sequence of this state of mind, and on his recovery, he was strongly urged to remove, for a while, from the marshy and deleterious air of Missolonghi. This he indignantly refused to do; I will remain here,' he said, to Captain Parry, until Greece is secure against the Turks, or till she has fallen under their power. All my income shall be spent in her service; but, unless driven by some great necessity, I will not touch a farthing of the sum intended for my sister's children. When Greece is secure against external enemies, I will leave the Greeks to settle their government as they like. One service more, and an eminent service it will be, I think I may perform for them. You Parry, shall have a schooner built for me, or I will buy a vessel; the Greeks shall invest me With the character of their ambassador, or agent: I will go to the United States, and procure that free and enlightened government to set the example of recognizing the federation of Greece as an independent state. This done, England must follow the example, and Greece will then enter into all her rights as a member of the great commonwealth of Christian Europe.'
This was the last ebullition of a mind which was now tottering to its final decadence; though it occasionally broke out in those meteor-like flashes, which had belonged to its early vigor. On the 12th of April, a fever, of whose premonitory symptoms he had not been sufficiently heedful, confined him to his bed, and his physician, Dr. Bruno, proposed bleeding him, as the only means of saving his life. This, however, he repeatedly refused; declaring, that he had only a common cold, and that he would not permit the doctor to bleed him for the mere purpose of getting the reputation of curing his disease. At length, on the 14th, after some controversy among the physicians, who now all saw the necessity of bleeding, he consented to the operation; and also on the 16th, saying as he stretched out his arm, I fear they know nothing about my disorder; but, here, take my arm, and do whatever you like.' On the 17th, his countenance changed, and he became slightly delirious; he complained that the want of sleep would drive him mad; and,' he exclaimed to his valet, Fletcher, I would ten times sooner shoot myself than be mad; for I am not afraid of dying - I am more fit to die than people imagine.' It was not, however, till the 18th, that he began to think himself in danger, when he called Fletcher to his bed-side, and bid him receive his last instructions. 'Shall I fetch pen, ink, and paper? ' said the valet, as he approached; Oh, my God! no; ' was his reply; you will lose too much time, and I have it not to spare.' He then exclaimed, Oh! my poor dear child! - my dear Ada could I have but seen her give her my blessing.' And, after muttering something unintelligibly, he suddenly raised his voice, and said, 'Fletcher, now, if you do not execute every order which I have given you, I will torment you here after, if possible.' The valet replying that he had not understood one word of what his lordship had been saying, Oh, my God?' he exclaimed, then all is lost, for it is now too late, and all is over: yet, as you say, God's will, not mine, be done - but, I will try to my wife! my child! my sister! - you know all - you must say all - you know my wishes.' Here his words became unintelligible. Stimulants were now, in direct opposition to the opinion of Dr. Bruno, administered to him, after taking which, he said, must sleep now,' and never spoke again. For twenty four hours he lay in a state of lethargy, with the rattles occasionally in his throat; and at six o'clock in the evening of the 19th, an exclamation of Fletcher, who saw him open and then shut his eyes, without moving hand or foot, announced that his master was no more.