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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

II. Byron

§ 5. Life at Pisa and Genoa

In the meantime, Byron had once more changed his place of abode, and was now residing in the villa Saluzzo, Genoa. It was here that he made the acquaintance of the earl and countess of Blessington, and to the countess’s vivacious, if untrustworthy Conversations, we owe much of our knowledge of the poet’s manner of life at this time. During these last years in Italy, his poetic composition had proceeded apace. Don Juan, after being laid aside for some time, was now, with the full consent of countess Guiccioli, continued. The sixth canto was begun in June, 1822, and this, with the next two cantos, was published in the following month; by the end of March, 1823, the sixteenth canto was finished. To the Pisa-Genoa period, also, belong his domestic tragedy, Werner, founded upon The German’s Tale, included in Sophia and Harriet Lee’s Canterbury Tales, his unfinished drama, The Deformed Transformed, the satiric poem, The Age of Bronze, dealing with the last phase in Napoleon’s career and the congress of Verona, and, finally, his romantic verse-tale, The Island.

The failure of the Carbonari movement, in 1821, put an end, for the time being, to Byron’s active co-operation in the cause of national freedom. But, even before the final defeat of the Carboneria, a new liberation movement in a new field had begun, on behalf of which Byron was destined to lay down his life. The Greek war of liberation from the thraldom of the Turk was set on foot in the spring of 1821, and soon won the support of enthusiasts in England, who formed a committee to help forward the movement and supply the Greeks with the necessary funds. Byron’s sympathy with the cause of Greek freedom dates from his sojourn in Greece in the years 1810–11, and finds eloquent expression in the second canto of Childe Harold. In the spring of 1823, his active support in the Greek cause was solicited by the London committee, acting through captain Blaquiere and John Bowring, and, after a little hesitation, Byron decided to devote himself whole-heartedly to the movement; with that end in view, he prepared to man an armed brig and set sail for Greece. At the moment of departure, he received a highly courteous greeting in verse from Goethe, and, in acknowledging it, declared his intention of paying a visit to Weimar, should he return in safety from Greece. On 24 July, accompanied by count Pietro Gamba and captain Trelawny, he started from Leghorn in the brig Hercules, and, ten days later, reached the island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Sea. Here, he remained until the close of the year, anxiously watching developments and endeavouring, with great tact and patience, to put an end to Greek factions. His presence in Greek waters inspired enthusiasm among the people struggling for freedom; they looked to him as their leader, and some even hinted that, if success should attend their arms, he might become the king of an emancipated Greece.