BYRON, George Gordon, Lord, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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Byron sells his schooner, the Bolivar

BYRON, George Gordon, Lord (1788-1824). Poet.
Autograph Letter Signed ('N.B.') to Captain [Daniel] Roberts, RN at Genoa, 1 page 8vo, 3 June 1823, with address on the reverse and the full signature 'Noel Byron'. An apparently unpublished letter concerning Byron's schooner Bolivar, which Byron was selling to Lord Blessington prior to his departure for Greece. (Small hinges from former mounting on the reverse.)
'I send all the flags that you may select the right one. Also an order on Mr Barry for the bills - which are reasonable. The remainder will be paid the moment we have the accounts. I shall do as you desire till we can obtain a sober navigator for our craft. ...'
It was early in 1822 that Byron had, through Trelawny, commissioned Commodore [the self-styled 'Captain'] Roberts to build him a boat. At the same time Shelley, with Edward Ellerker Williams, had ordered a smaller craft. Byron had intended to name his schooner after the Countess Guiccioli, but eventually was persuaded that naming the craft for his mistress would be rather too indiscreet, and he chose the name of the South American revolutionary who had caught his imagination. Shelley named his boat the Don Juan after the work on which Byron was at this time engaged.
Byron evidently made little use of the Bolivar, partly because of the restrictions placed on it by the Italian authorities on account of its armament (there were two brass cannon, although Byron had original ordered four), but more so because of his aversion to sailing. Shelley and Williams, however, regularly sailed the Don Juan after she had arrived in Lerici in May 1822. Both were lost, together with their boy crew member, on 8 July when the boat was swamped in a storm. On hearing that the boat was missing Byron had immediately given permission for Roberts to use the Bolivar in the search, and his own boat was later to be anchored off the coast at Viareggio when Shelley's body was cremated on the shore. The cremation, so well known to literary history, had been a prolonged and harrowing affair, and Byron had stripped off and swum the mile and a half or so to the Bolivar during its progress.
The present letter is not in Byron's Letters and Journals, ed Leslie A Marchand, and apparently unpublished. A letter to Charles F Barry the following day (4 June) makes further arrangements with respect to the sale, which was for four hundred guineas, less than half the boat's cost. Byron wished to retain the two cannon and some chairs which bore his personal coronet and also a number of superfluous flags. Having arranged the disposal of his own boat Byron engaged the brig Hercules to take him to Greece. He was to depart within a fortnight of the date of this letter.
[No: 20304]

The image is of the body of the letter.

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