Author Topic: Byron's cheque  (Read 671 times)

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Offline Maik

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Byron's cheque
« on: Sunday, 18 April, 2021 @ 10:20:23 »
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Revealed: Lord Byron’s £4,000 cheque that helped create modern Greece
The poet’s generosity 200 years ago helped to pave the way to independence, and he is still seen as a hero

Racked by fever, prone to fits of delirium, consumed by his last great passion – the liberation of Greece – Lord Byron lay on his sickbed. It was 18 April 1824. The great Romantic poet would be dead the next day.

“I have given her [Greece] my time, my means, my health,” he is recorded as saying in a moment of lucidity. “And now I give her my life! What could I do more?”

Byron’s death in Missolonghi, the malaria-ridden town where he had spearheaded the Greeks’ revolt against Ottoman rule, induced instant shock, convulsing the English-speaking world.

The man who was “mad, bad and dangerous to know”, a celebrity of his day who was loved and loathed in equal measure, had spent a mere 100 days in the land whose freedom he had championed so vociferously.

As Greece celebrates the bicentenary of its war of independence, a banknote unearthed by the Observer in the country’s state archives sheds new light on the poet’s fabled generosity. It also offers indelible proof of his commitment to the Greek cause.

In the cheque Byron stipulates that £4,000 – roughly £332,000 today – be paid to Giovanni Orlando, a representative of the provisional government that, alarmed by the way the war was going, had approached the British peer for funds.

The money was to go towards emergency needs – notably financing a fleet to defend Missolonghi from besieging Albanians. Both sides agreed it would be repaid against a much bigger loan to be raised in London where Orlando was headed.

Byron agreed to the loan in Kefalonia, part of the British-run Ionian Islands where the poet and his coterie of fellow travellers had stopped on their way to Greece. The cheque, subsequently cashed in Malta, was taken in the form of silver Spanish dollars and transported in trunks to Missolonghi by the poet.

The money was then used to fund fighting ships run as a commercial enterprise by profit-minded Greek islanders.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/apr/18/revealed-lord-byrons-4000-cheque-that-helped-create-modern-greece