King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’

50. Leicester Stanhope's Greece, in 1823 and 1824

KCL Rare Books Collection DF806.H3

Hand-coloured engraved frontispiece, depicting Mustapha Ali, and title page.Frontispiece and title page from Leicester Stanhope's book Greece, in 1823 and 1824. KCL Rare Books Collection DF806.H3Leicester Stanhope, a lieutenant-colonel in the British Army, became the appointed agent of the London Greek Committee. A follower of the reformer Jeremy Bentham and an advocate of the liberty of the press, Stanhope was an energetic supporter of one of the first Greek newspapers, the Greek Chronicle, which he helped to set up in January in 1824, in Missolonghi. At the end of that month he clashed with Byron and Mavrokordatos over what he saw as their interference with the newspaper.

The following month he left for Athens, where he met, and was captivated by, the warlord of eastern Greece, Odysseus Andritzou (later known as Androutsos). In a letter to Byron of 6 March, Stanhope supported Odysseus’ proposal to hold a congress of Greek leaders at Salona (modern Amfissa, near Delphi), ‘to unite the interests of eastern and western Greece’. Byron and Mavrokordatos promised to attend, but torrential rain, infighting among the Greek factions, and, finally, Byron’s death intervened to frustrate the initiative.

Byron and Stanhope were nominated by the London Greek Committee as commissioners to oversee the distribution of the large loan raised for the Greek government from private sources in England. Problems arose, however, when the gold sovereigns reached Zante in late April 1824; Byron had died on 19 April and Stanhope, as a serving army officer, was ordered home to England by the Foreign Secretary George Canning and travelled back on the Florida with Byron’s body. The loan was eventually dispatched to the Greek government but spent without any intervention from the Committee.

Stanhope’s letters to the Committee’s secretary John Bowring were published in September 1824. The Turkish boy shown on the frontispiece, Mustapha Ali, lost his family during the war and Stanhope brought him back to a school in England.

In this exhibition

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