February 26 1816: Elgin Marbles

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On February 26 1816, a select committee of Parliament begins deliberations on whether to purchase Lord Elgin’s marbles. Eventually, the marbles taken from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin were purchased for the British Museum. Lord Byron did not approve of Lord Elgin’s actions, as he made clear in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

XV

Cold is the heart, fair Greece, that looks on thee,
Nor feels as lovers o’er the dust they loved;
Dull is the eye that will not weep to see
Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed 130
By British hands, which it had best behov’d
To guard those relics ne’er to be restored.
Curst be the hour when their isle they roved,
And once again thy hapless bosom gored,
And snatch’d thy shrinking Gods to northern climes abhorr’d!

 

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