Salsette Frigate, 3 May 1810
****This morning I swam from Sestos to Abydos. The immediate distance is not above a mile, but the current renders it hazardous; – so much so that I doubt whether Leander’s conjugal affection must not have been a little chilled in his passage to Paradise. I attempted it a week ago, and failed, – owing to the north wind, and the wonderful rapidity of the tide, – though I have been from my childhood a strong swimmer. But, this morning being calmer, I succeeded and crossed the ‘broad Hellespont’ in an hour and ten minutes.
Well, my dear sir, I have left my home, and seen part of Africa and Asia, and a tolerable portion of Europe. I have been with generals and admirals, princes and pashas, governors and ungovernables, – but I have not time or paper to expatiate….
I like the Greeks, who are plausible rascals, – with all the Turkish vices, without their courage. However, some are brave, and all are beautiful, very much resembling the busts of Alcibiades; – the women not quite so handsome. I can swear in Turkish; but, except one horrible oath, and ‘pimp’ and ‘bread’, and ‘water’, I have got no great vocabulary in that language. They are extremely polite to strangers of any rank, properly protected****
I am like the Jolly Miller, caring for nobody, and not cared for. All countries are much the same in my eyes. I smoke, and stare at mountains, and twirl my mustachios very independently. I miss no comforts, and the mosquitoes that rack the morbid frame of H. have, luckily for me, little effect on mine, because I live more temperately.****
My paper is full, and my ink ebbing – good afternoon! If you address to me at Malta, the letter will be forwarded wherever I may be. H. greets you; he pines for his poetry, – at least, some tidings of it. I almost forgot to tell you that I am dying for love of three Greek girls at Athens, sisters, I lived in the same house. Teresa, Mariana, and Katinka, are the names of these divinities, – all of them under fifteen.
Your ‘Tapeinotatos doulous’,
Byron wrote the lyric ‘On Swimming from Sestos to Abydos’ about this experience.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Lord Byron Letter To Henry Drury Salsette Frigate, 3 May 1810" https://englishhistory.net/byron/selected-letters/henry-drury-salsette-frigate-3-may-1810/, March 6, 2015