Poet scornerBMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b4098 (Published 28 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4098
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
It pains me to have to admit it, but not every member of our profession who ever lived was endowed with a sense of humour. Among those who were not is James Kennedy, author of Conversations on Religion with Lord Byron and Others, Held in Cephalonia, a Short Time Previous to His Lordship’s Death, published posthumously in 1830.
Dr Kennedy was a military doctor stationed in the Ionian island of Cephallonia when Lord Byron arrived. An earnest evangelical, Dr Kennedy sought to convert his lordship to Christianity, a thankless task. He did not see the irony of it.
According to the doctor, Byron was always prone to say what was witty or “smart”; truth was with him a secondary consideration. …