Imágenes de páginas

tain the personaliaconvenience of being of a separate committee, we shall at his prosecutor. This is a defect which present be satisfied with this slight no. admits, unlike most of the others, of a tice. The governor ofthe principal prisimple and easy remedy:

son in London, sensible to the defects 6. The prisons of the metropolis, of his own establishment, and accus. crowded indiscriminately with young tomed to observe, in every shape, the and old, accused and convicted of. progress of depravity, suggested to the fenders, operate as hot-beds of vice, committee certain remedies, which, in rather than schools of solitary reflec. his opinion, might with advantage be tion and repentance. The obvious ex. adopted. Some of these proposals have pediency of providing more abundant already been carried into effect. The and more distinct accommodations for first and most important of the whole, the vicious and heterogeneous inmates however, is not among the number, of these places of confinement, has long viz." An establishment for the safe been felt, and improvements of very and separate custody of persons before considerable importance have actually trial, who are committed on suspicion, been commenced in many instances. so that they may not be injured by As the state of prisons, however, has associating with experienced offend. since become the subject of the labours ers."'*

* See Mr Henry Newman's evidence.


Committee and Debates on the Purchase of the Elgin Marbles.-Vote of a

Monument in Memory of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Ar an early period of this session, a With regard to the latter point, all petition was presented to the House the distinguished artists of the kingof Commons from the Earl of Elgin, dom were unanimous in expressing praying that a sum of money might their opinion, that the Elgin marbles be granted to him to remunerate him formed in reality the finest of all for the expense at which he had col- existing collections of ancient sculplected a large and valuable set of an. ture-an opinion which had already, cient marbles in Greece, which an. indeed, become widely diffused, in contiques he was desirous should thus be sequence of the well-known judgment transferred from his own possession to pronounced by Canova and published that of the nation. The Chancellor by West. Mr Payne Knight held of the Exchequer brought this peti- the statues in great contempt; but tion of his lordship before the House, notwithstanding the acknowledged and observed very properly, that a eminence of this gentleman as an ancommittee ought to be appointed to tiquarian and a virtuoso, the members investigate into the nature and true of the committee had no difficulty in value of Lord Elgin's collection, and preferring the decision of practical Rotwithstanding the outcry raised by sculptors and painters of the first cecertain members against at all entering lebrity to his. On the termination of upon such a subject in the then condi. their enquiries the committee brought tion of the public finances, the Chan. up their report, and Mr Bankes (who cellor's motion was carried by a large had taken a lead in the investigation, majority.

and whose qualifications for doing so During the months of the spring, are too well known to require any nothis committee pursued their labours tice here), proposed to the House in endeavouring to ascertain by exa- that 35,6001. should be offered to mination of proper witnesses, first, the Lord Elgin, and the marbles placed circumstances under which Lord Elgin in the British Museum, as a great and had obtained his marbles, and secondly, national treasure, equal in value to the value of them as specimens of art. any similar treasure possessed by any


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other country, and honourably distin- communication should be immediately guished from that so lately in the made, stating, that Great Britain holds possession of France, by having been these marbles only in trust till they are obtained by the fairest means of demanded by the present, or any fupeaceful negociation. Mr Curwen ture, possessors of the city of Athens ; opposed this proposal in toto, on the and upon such demand, engages, withscore of its involving an injudicious out question or negociation, to restore expenditure of public funds. Mr them, as far as can be effected, to the Hammersley opposed its adoption ex. places from whence they were taken, actly as it stood, chiefly on account and that they shall be in the mean of the unfavourable opinion at which time carefully preserved in the British he had arrived respecting the mode of Museum." the acquisition of the marbles on the In reply to this, Mr Croker began part of Lord Elgin. The conclusion with stating, that the honourable of this gentleman's speech is too sin- speaker had arrived at his opinion by gular to be omitted : he moved that a very unfair and unequal examination a resolution should be passed, " that of the evidence laid before the comthis committee, having taken into mittee. “ He had never,” he said, its consideration the manner in which “ heard a speech filled with so much the Earl of Elgin became possessed of tragic pomp and circumstance, concertain ancient sculptured marbles cluded with so farcical a resolution, from Athens, laments that this am- After speaking of the glories of bassador did not keep in remembrance Athens, after haranguing us on the that the high and dignified station of injustice of spoliation, it was rather representing his sovereign should have too much to expect to interest our made him forbear from availing him- feelings for the future conqueror of self of that character in order to ob- those classic regions, and to contemtain valuable possessions belonging to plate his rights to treasures which we the government to which he was ac- reckoned it flagitious to retain. It credited ; and that such forbearance did seem extraordinary that we should was peculiarly necessary at a moment - be required to send back these monu. when shat government was expressing ments of art, not for the benefit of high obligations to Great Britain. those by whom they were formerly This committee, however, imputes to possessed, but for the behoof of the the noble earl no venal motive whatever descendants of the Empress Catherine, of pecuniary advantage to himself, but who were viewed by the honourable on the contrary, believes that he was gentleman as the future conquerors of actuated by a desire to benefit his Greece. Spoliation must precede the country, by acquiring for it, at great attainment of them by Russia ; and risk and labour to himself, some of the yet, from a horror at spoliation, we most valuable specimens in existence of were to send them, that they might ancient sculpture. This committee, tempt and reward it! Nay, we were therefore, feels justified, under the to hold them in trust for the future particular circumstances of the case, in invader, and to restore them to the recommending that 25,0001. be offered possession of the conqueror, when his to the Earl of Elgin for the collection, rapacious and bloody work was exe. in order to recover and keep it to. cuted. Our museum, then, was to be gether for that government from which the repository of these monuments for it has been improperly taken, and to Russia, and our money was to purchase which this committee isof opinion that a them, in order that we might hold them

in deposit till she made her demand. of its greatest ornaments, had been The proposition, he would venture to made the subject of severe and unde. say, was one of the most absurd ever served censure. No blame had, howe heard in that House. Considerations ever, been shown to attach to it after of economy had been much mixed up the fullest examination. One of the with the question of the purchase objects, and the most important object, and the House had been warned in the for which he wished the institution of present circumstances of the country, a committee, was, that the transactions not to incur a heavy expense merely by which those works of art were obto acquire the possession of works of tained, and imported into this country, ornament. But who was to pay this might stand clear of all suspicion, and expense, and for whose use was the be completely justified in the eyes of purchase intended? The bargain was the world, and that the conduct of the for the benefit of the public, for the noble lord implicated might be fully honour of the nation, for the promo. investigated. He (Mr č.) was en tion of national arts, for the use of the tirely unacquainted with the noble pational artists, and even for the ad. lord before he became a member of vantage of our manufactures, the ex. the committee, and could, of course, cellence of which depended on the pro. have no partialities to indulge. What gress of the arts in the country. It he said for himself, he believed he was singular that. when, 2500 years might say for the other members with ago, Pericles was adorning Athens whom he acted. They were all pera with those very works, some of which fectly unprejudiced before the enquiry we are now about to acquire, the same commenced, and ail perfectly satisfied cry of economy was raised against him, before its conclusion. They had come and the same answer that he then gave to an unanimous opinion in favour of might be repeated now, that it was the noble lord's conduct and claims, money spent for the use of the people, and that opinion was unequivocally for the encouragement of arts, the in- expressed in the report which was the crease of manufactures, the prosperity result of their impartial examination. of trades, and the encouragement of With regard to the spoliation, the saindustry; not merely to please the eye crilegious rapacity, on which the last of the man of taste, but to create, to speaker had descanted so freely, he stimulate, to guide the exertions of the would say a few words in favour of artist, the mechanic, and even the la. the noble lord, in which he would be bourer, and to spread through all the borne out by the evidence in the branches of society a spirit of improve- report. The noble lord had shewn ment, and the means of a sober and no principle of rapacity. He làid industrious affluence. But he would go his hand on nothing that could have the length of saying, that the posses- been preserved in any state of repair : sion of these precious remains of ancient he touched nothing that was not pregenius and taste would conduce not only viously in ruins. He went into Greece to the perfection of the arts, but to the with no design to commit ravages on elevation of our national character, to her works of art, to carry off her ornaour opulence, to our substantial great. ments, to despoil her temples. His first ness. The conduct of the noble earl, intention was to take drawings of her who, by his meritorious exertions, had celebrated architectural monuments, given us an opportunity of considering or models of her works of sculpture. whether we should retain in the country This part of his design he had to a what, if retained, would constitute one certain extent executed, and many

+ **

drawings and models were found in eight or ten fragments on the pedihis collection. Nothing else entered ment, with a car and horses not entire, iņto his contemplation, till he saw that but distinguishable : but when he remany

of the pieces of which his pre- turned, neither car nor horses were to decessors in this pursuit had taken be seen, and all the figures were de. drawings had entirely disappeared, stroyed but two. If the honourable that some of them were buried in member, whose statement he was comruins, and others converted into the bating, had read the evidence carefully, materials of building. No less than he would have seen that Lord Elgin eighteen pieces of statuary from the interfered with nothing that was not western pediment had been entirely already in ruins, or that was threatendestroyed since the time when M. de ed with immediate destruction. The Nointel, the French ambassador, had temple of Theseus was in a state of procured his interesting drawings to great preservation, and, therefore, probe made ; and when his lordship pur- ceeding on this principle, he had left chased a house in the ruins of which it as he found it, and only enriched he expected to find some of them, and this country with models and drawings had proceeded to dig under its foun. taken from it. Much had been said dation with such a hope, the malicious of the manner in which Lord Elgin Turk to whom he bad given the pur. had prostituted his ambassadurial chachase-money, observed, « The statues racter to obtain possession of the mo« you are digging for are pounded into numents in question. There was no mortar, and I could have told you so ground for such an imputation. Not a before you began your fruitless la- piece had been removed from Athens bour,'' Ought not the honourable till Lord Elgin had returned, and of gentleman who had spoken so much course till his official influence ceased. about spoliation to have mentioned Signor Lucieri was even now employthis fact? Ought he not to have stated ed there under his lordship's orders ; that it was then, and not till then, and was he still prostituting the ambasthat Lord Elgin resolved to endeavour sadorial character? When his lordship to save what still remained from such was a prisoner in France, the work was wanton barbarity? Had he read the still going on; and was he then prostireport, and did he know the circum- tuting the ambassadorial character ? stances without allowing any apology His lordship had remained after his refor the noble earl? Did he not know turn at his scat in Scotland ; and was that many of the articles taken from the character of ambassador injured in the Parthenon, were found among its his person during his retirement ? He ruins ? More than one third of that (Mr Croker) might have shown some poble building was rubbish before he warmth in defending the opinion of the touched it. The honourable member committee, and removing the imputa(Mr Hammersley) had referred to the tion thrown upon the noble person evidence of the member for Northaller whose character had been attacked by ton (Mr Morrit;) but while he quo. the honourable member ; but he hoped ted one part of it, he had forgotten he would be excused, when the nature another, by which that quotation would of the charges which had excited him have been explained and qualified. He were considered. -He could not sit in had visited Athens in 1796 ; and when his place, and hear such terms as dishe returned five years afterwards, he honesty, plunder, spoliation, bribery, found the greatest dilapidations. In and others of the same kind, applied to his first visit be stated, that there were the conduct of a British nobleman, who

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