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question which can be solved only. by conjecture and reasoning, in the absence and deficiency of all positive testimony. The Turkish ministers of that day are, in fact, the only persons in the world capable (if they are still alive) of deciding the doubt; and it is probable that even they, if it were possible to consult them, right be unable to form any very distinct discrimination as to the character in consideration of which they acceded to Lord Elgin's request. The occasion made them, beyond all precedent, propitious to whatever was desired in behalf of the English nation; they readily, therefore, complied with all that was asked by Lord Elgin. He was an Englishman of high rank; he was also ambassador from our Court: they granted the same permission to no other individual: but then, as Lord Elgin observes, no other individual applied for it to the same extent, nor had indeed the same unlimited means for carry.. ing such an undertaking into execution. The expression of one of the most intelligent and distinguished of the British travellers, who visited Athens about the same period, appears to your Committee to convey as correct a judgment as can be formed upon this question, which is incapable of being satisfactorily separated, and must be taken in the aggregate.
The Earl of Aberdeen, in answer to an inquiry, whether the authority and influence of a public situation was in his opinion necessary for accomplishing the removal of these Marbles, answered that he did not think a private inVOL. LVIII.
dividual could have accomplished the removal of the remains which Lord Elgin obtained: and Doctor Hunt, who had better opportunities of information upon this point than any other person who has been examined, gave it as his decided opinion, that " a British subject not in the situation of ambassador, could not have been able to obtain from the Turkish government a fermaun of such extensive powers."
It may not be unworthy of remark, that the only other piece of sculpture which was ever removed froin its place for the purpose of export was taken by Mr. Choiseul Gouffier, when he was ambassador from France to the Porte; but whether he did it by express permission, or in some less ostensible way, no means of ascertaining are within the reach of your committee. It was undoubtedly at various times an object with the French government to obtain possession of some of these valuable remains, and it is probable, according to the testimony of Lord Aberdeen and others, that at no great distance of time they might have been removed by that government from their original site, if they had not been taken away, and secured for this country by Lord Elgin.
III. The third part is involved in much less intricacy; and although in all matters of taste there is room for great variety and latitude of opinion, there will be found upon this branch of the subject much more uniformity and agreement than could have been expected. The testimony of several of the most eminent artists ? G
in this kingdom, who have been examined, rates these Marbles in the very first class of ancient art, some placing them a little above, and others but very little below the Apollo Belvidere, the Laocoon, and the Torso of the Belvidere. They speak of them with admiration and enthusiasm: and notwithstanding the manifold injuries of time and weather, and those mutilations which they have sustained from the fortuitous, or designed injuries of neglect, or mischief, they consider them as among the finest models, and the most exquisite monuments of antiquity. The general current of this portion of the evidence makes no doubt of referring the date of these works to the original building of the Parthenon, and to the designs of Phidias, the dawn of every thing which adorned and ennobled Greece. With this estimation of the excellence of these works it is natural to conclude, that they are recommended by the same authorities as highly fit, and admirably adapted to form a school for study, to improve our national taste for the fine arts, and to diffuse a more perfect knowledge of them throughout this kingdom.
Much indeed may be reasonably hoped and expected, from the general observation and admiration of such distinguished examples.. The end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries enlightened by the discovery of several of the noblest remains of antiquity, produced in Italy an abundant harvest of the most eminent men, who made gigantic advances in the path of art, as painters, sculptors, and
architects. Caught by the novelty, attracted by the beauty, and enamoured of the perfection of those newly disclosed treasures, they imbibed the genuine spirit of ancient excellence, and transfused it into their own compositions.
It is surprising to observe in the best of these Marbles in how great a degree the close imitation of nature is combined with grandeur of style, while the exact details of the former in no degree detract from the effect and predominance of the latter.
The two finest single figures of this collection differ materially in this respect from the Apollo Belvidere, which may be selected as the highest and most sublime representation of ideal form and beauty, which sculpture has ever embodied, and turned into shape.
The evidence upon this part of the inquiry will be read with satisfaction and interest, both where it is immediately connected with' these Marbles, and where it branches out into extraneous observations, but all of them relating to the study of the Antique. A reference is made by one of the witnesses to a sculptor, eminent throughout Europe for his works, who lately left this metropolis highly gratified by the view of these treasures of that branch of art, which he has cultivated with so much success. His own letter to the Earl of Elgin upon this subject is inserted in the Appendix.
In the judgment of Mr. Payne Knight, whose valuation will be referred to in a subsequent page, the first class is not assigned to the two principal statues of this collection; but he rates the Me
topes in the first class of works in high relief, and knows of nothing so fine in that kind. He places also the frize in the first class of low relief; and considering a general museum of art to be very desirable, he looks upon such an addition to our national collection as likely to contribute to the improvement of the arts, and to become a very valuable acquisition; for the importation of which Lord Elgin is entitled to the gratitude of his country.
IV. The directions of the House in the order of reference impose upon your committee the task of forming and submitting an opinion upon the fourth head, which otherwise the scantiness of materials for fixing a pecuniary value, and the unwillingness, or inability in those who are practically most conversant in statuary to afford any lights upon this part of the subject, would have rather induced them to decline.
The produce of this collection, if it should be brought to sale in separate lots, in the present depreciated state of almost every article, and more particularly of such as are of precarious and fanciful value, would probably be much inferior to what may be denominated its intrinsic value.
The mutilated state of all the larger figures, the want either of heads or features, of limbs or surface, in most of the metopes, and in a great proportion of the compartments even of the larger frize, render this collection, if divided, but little adapted to serve for the decoration of private houses. It should therefore be considered as forming a whole, and should unquestionably be kept
entire as a school of art, and a study for the formation of artists. The competitors in the market, if it should be offered for sale without separation, could not be numerous. Some of the Sovereigns of Europe, added to such of the great galleries or national institutions in various parts of the continent, as may possess funds at the disposal of their directors sufficient for such a purpose, would in all probability be the only purchasers.
It is not however reasonable nor becoming the liberality of Parliament to withhold upon this account, whatever, under all the circumstances, may be deemed a just and adequate price; and more particularly in a case where Parliament is left to fix its own valuation, and no specific sum is demanded, or even suggested by the party who offers the collection to the public.
It is obvious that the money expended in the acquisition of any commodity is not necessarily the measure of its real value. The sum laid out in gaining possession of two articles of the same intrinsic worth, may, and often does vary considerably. In making two excavations, for instance, of equal magnitude and labour, a broken bust or some few fragments may be discovered in the one, and a perfect statue in the other. The first cost of the broken bust and of the entire statue would in that case be the same; but it cannot be said that the value is therefore equal. In the same manner, by the loss, or detention of a ship, a great charge may have been incurred, and the original outgoing excessively en2 G2
hanced; but the value to the buyer will in no degree be affected by the extraneous accidents. Supposing again, artists to have been engaged at considerable salaries during a large period in which they could do little or nothing, the first cost would be burdensome in this case also to the employer, but those who bought would look only at the value of the article in the market where it might be exposed to sale, without caring, or inquiring how, or at what expense it was brought thither.
Supposing, on the other hand, that the thirteen other metopes had been bought at the Customhouse sale at the same price which chat of Mr. Choiseul Gouffier fetched, it could never be said, hat the value of them was no nore than twenty-four or twentyfive pounds apiece.
It is perfectly just and reasonable that the seller should endeavour fully to reimburse himself for all expenses, and to acquire a profit also, but it will be impossible for him to do so, when ever the disbursements have exceeded the fair money price of that which he has to dispose of.
Your committee refer to Lord Elgin's evidence for the large and heavy charges which have attended the formation of this col-, lection, and the placing of it in its present situation; which amount, from 1799, to January 1803, to 62,4401. including 23,2401. for the interest of money; and according to a supplemental account, continued from 1803 to 1816, to no less a sum than 74,000l. including the same sum for interest.
All the papers which are in his possession upon this subject, including a journal of above 90 pages, of the daily expenses of his principal artist Lusieri (from 1803 to the close of 1814) who still remains in his employment at Athens, together with the account current of Messrs. Hayes, of Malta, (from April 1807 to May 1811) have been freely submitted to your committee; and there can be no doubt, from the inspection of those accounts, confirmed also by other testimony, that the disbursements were very considerable; but supposing them to reach the full sum at which they are calculated, your committee do not hesitate to express their opinion, that they afford no just criterion of the value of the collection, and therefore must not be taken as a just basis for estimating it.
Two valuations, and only two in detail, have been laid before your committee, which are printed; differing most widely in the particulars, and in the total; that of Mr. Payne Knight amounting to 25,000l. and that of Mr. Hamilton to 60,8001.
The only other sum mentioned as a money price, is in the evidence of the Earl of Aberdeen, who named 35,000l. as a sort of conjectural estimate of the whole, without entering into particulars.
In addition to the instances of prices quoted in Mr. Payne Knight's evidence, the sums paid for other celebrated marbles, deserve to be brought under the notice of the House.
The Townley collection, which was purchased for the British Museum in June 1805, for 20,000l.
20,0001. is frequently referred to in the examinations of the witnesses, with some variety of opinion as to its intrinsic value; but it is to be observed of all the principal sculptures in that collection, that they were in excellent condition with the surface perfect; and where injured, they were generally well restored, and perfectly adapted for the decoration, and almost for the ornamental furniture of a private house, as they were indeed disposed by Mr. Townley in his lifetime.
In what proportion the state of mutilation in which the Elgin Marbles are left, and above all the corrosion of much of the surface by weather, reduce their value, it is difficult precisely to ascertain; but it may unquestionably be affirmed in the words of one of the sculptors examined (who rates these works in the highest class of art) that "the Townleyan marbles being entire, are, in a commercial point of view, the most valuable of the two.: but that the Elgin Marbles, as possessing that matter which artists most require, claim a higher consideration."
The Ægina marbles, which are also referred to, and were well known to one of the members of your committee, who was in treaty to purchase them for the British Museum, sold for 6,000l., to the Prince Royal of Bavaria, which was less than the British government had directed to be offered, after a prior negociation for obtaining them had failed; their real value however was supposed not to exceed 4000l., at which Lusieri estimated them.
They are described as valuable in point of remote antiquity, and curious in that respect, but of no distinguished merit as specimens of sculpture, their style being what is usually called Etruscan, and older than the age of Phidias.
The Marbles at Phigalia, in Arcadia, have lately been purchased for the Museum at the expense of 15,000l. increased by a very unfavourable exchange to 19,000l. a sum which your committee, after inspecting them, venture to consider as more than equal to their value.
It is true that an English gentleman, concerned in discovering them, was ready to give the same sum; and therefore no sort of censure can attach on those who purchased them abroad for our national gallery, without any possible opportunity of viewing and examining the sculpture, but knowing them only from the sketches which were sent over, and the place where they were dug up, to be undoubted and authentic remains of Greek artists of the best time.
When the first offer was made by the Earl of Elgin to Mr. Per. ceval, of putting the public in possession of this collection, Mr. Long, a member of your cummittee, was authorized by Mr. Perceval to acquaint Lord Elgin, that he was willing to propose to Parliament to purchase it for 30,000l. provided Lord Elgin should make out, to the satisfaction of a committee of the House of Commons, that he had expended so much in acquiring and transporting it.
Lord Elgin declined this proposal,