The Elgins, 1766-1917: A Tale of Aristocrats, Proconsuls and Their Wives

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9780080363950: The Elgins, 1766-1917: A Tale of Aristocrats, Proconsuls and Their Wives

Although it was Thomas, the seventh Earl, who by his acquisition of the Greek Marbles brought unwelcome and continuing notoriety to the Elgin name, it is James, the eighth Earl, who is the hero of this book. Did Byron's furious 'Curse of Minerva' hurled at Thomas for his activities in Greece--that all Elgin's sons be 'without one spark of intellectual fire'--succeed only in producing perhaps the most sensitive and forward-looking British proconsul of the Victorian age? James, as a colonial administrator, showed courage, determination and resource in handling difficult situations in Jamaica, Canada, China, Japan and India. As Viceroy of India, where he died, he might have brought reform to the turbulent subcontinent. His son Victor Alexander, the ninth Earl, a Scot of modest ambition, nevertheless performed creditably as Viceroy of India in the 1890s and as Colonial Secretary in the Liberal government of 1906. Through the pages of the book pass seven countesses. And as base and continuum to the story of a great Scottish family stands Broomhall, the house to which each generation brought trophies, mementos, relics, reports, letters, and ephemera. The book is based on the Elgin archives, which the present Earl of Elgin placed at the disposal of the author, whose extensive research took him as far afield as Canada and Japan.

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