Academic journal article The Byron Journal

Byron Visits the American Navy: Two Unpublished Diary Entries

Academic journal article The Byron Journal

Byron Visits the American Navy: Two Unpublished Diary Entries

Article excerpt

On the afternoon of Tuesday 21 May, 1822, Lord Byron visited two ships of the U.S. Navy's Mediterranean Squadron anchored in Leghorn Roads, Italy: the 44-gun frigate USS Constitution and the 20-gun sloop USS Ontario. First boarding the flagship Constitution, he was no doubt met with enthusiasm by individual navy men and was noted in the day's log, but received no special honours.1 Rowed over to the Ontario, he was received in a way no other poet has ever been treated by any unit of the American navy. As he boarded the ship, a 17-gun salute volleyed forth; when he departed, the crew manned the yards. Clearly the Ontario's captain, Master in Command Wolcott Chauncey, was a Byron fan, but so too were at least some of the officers. Two of them have left written remarks on the occasion.

The more substantial and interesting is that of Charles Heyer Bell, who devoted a separate page in his personal journal to a description of Byron:

Description of Lord Byron-1822-Leghorn Italy

Lord Byron is about five feet nine or ten inches high, rather stoutly built, sharp expressive eyes (not very large but projecting) between the colour of light blue and grey-his forehead is very high & well formed, his hair is, or rather has been a light brown but the greater part is at present gray, he wears it short before but quite long behind his ears and back of his neck; it curls naturally-his teeth are very fine & when he smiles he has an amiable expression of countenance. …

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