While dedicated to poetry as an avocation, Shelley was not above performing the occasional clandestine service for the British government, and often enlisted the equally impecunious Byron as an agent provocateur.
During one of these missions, Shelley was tasked with obtaining information about Czechoslovakia’s defenses, and ordered Byron to use his considerable charms to obtain that information by seducing Queen Caroline Augusta of that country.
Byron supplied daily coded reports of his progress via carrier pigeon for two weeks, but after promising that the defense plans would be delivered via the next day’s message, he vanished from Prague and the reports broke off.
Shelley spent the next three days in an agony of speculation, and finally risked delivering a message to a pre-arranged safe house through a local double agent.
The message read: “Byron—please report Status. Worried that Mission to Seduce Queen has been Compromised.”
The next day a carrier pigeon brought Byron’s scribbled reply: “Trust me—the male is in the Czech.”
Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells