Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Odd fish, no vandal

He was an odd fish, was Elgin. He was no vandal, certainly; indeed, bar Wolseley, he was probably the most sincere lover of the arts in the army — not that I’m authority, you understand; give me Rubens and you can keep the rest. So how could he bring himself to destroy so much that was rare and beautiful and valuable? I’ll tell you. He was avenging our dead with cold-blooded fury, striking at their murderers (the Emperor, Sang, Prince I, and — although he didn’t know it — Yehonala, who probably shaped Imperial policy more than all the rest) in the way he knew would hurt them most.

Flashman and the Dragon, p.281, Fontana Paperback edition, 1986.

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