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perky

Mistress Of The Elgin Marbles

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I know there are several lovers of the Regency period on this forum so I though this book might be of interest. The book, a biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin is a facinating read.

Born in 1778 as the richest heiress in Scotland, Mary went on to marry Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin. Her money helped to finance the Earl's plan to bring back antiquities from the Parthenon in Greece. These sculptures which became known as The Elgin Marbles both facinated and divided English Society. Many felt they should never have been ripped from thier homeland, other's believe Lord Elgin was rescuing the stones from ruin.

Mary's help in not only financing the excavation but also getting the stones sent to England is due to her facinating personality. She captivated not only English society but Sultan Selim III, who fancied her. Her beauty, intelligence, and humor shine through the pages of the book. A really wonderful and informative read.

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Lord Elgin thought they would look good in his mansion. I believe the technical term is "stealing." I'm sure your book must mention how Byron felt on the subject!

I always felt sorry for the first Lady Elgin (and the second Lady Elgin, for that matter). I know she married Robert Ferguson after the divorce, but not much about her life afterward. I hope things worked out well for her.

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From Lord Byron's poem, "The Curse of Minerva"

"Frown not on England; England owns him not:/ Athena, no! thy plunderer was a Scot."

The Fates did not look too kindly upon Lord Elgin either.The controversy over the Stones themselves, a reversal of fortune, the embarrassment of having his wife fall in love with another man, a scandalous divorce, and finally having a doctor advise him to drink mercury!! to cure his sinus and sore throat infections which caused(among other things) Elgin's nose to severly blister leading another quack doctor to cut off the tip of it, disfiguring him.

On a positive note Mary did indeed find lasting happiness with Robert Ferguson.

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I glanced through the book at Tower Books the other day. It looks very good!

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