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The Act then proceeds to declare that, ' Whereas, all arts Book I, and sciences have a connexion with each other, and disco- The veries in natural philosophy and other branches of speculative knowledge/ for the advancement whereof the Museum was intended, may, in many instances, give help to useful experiments and inventions, 'therefore, to the end that the said Museum may be preserved and maintained, not only for the inspection and entertainment of the leamed and the curious, but for the general use and benefit of the Public,' it is enacted by Parliament that the sum of twenty thousand pounds shall be paid to the Executors of Sir Hans Sloane, in full satisfaction for his said Museum.
In this Statute, also, the preceding original Act for the public establishment of the Cottonian Library (12th and 13th of William III, c. 7), together with the subsequent Act on that subject (5th Anne, C. 30), are severally recited, and it is declared as follows :—
First, 'Although the public faith hath been thus engaged Father
. . . Provisions
to provide for the better reception and more convenient use or The Act of the Cottonian Library, a proper repository for that purpose hath not yet been prepared, for the want of which the said Library did . . . suffer by a fire
And secondly, 'Arthur Edwards, late of Saint George's, Hanover Square, in the county of Middlesex, Esquire, being desirous to preserve for the public use the said Cottonian Library, and to prevent the like accident for the future, bequeathed the sum of seven thousand pounds'—after the occurrence of a certain contingent event—for the purpose either of erecting, 'in a proper situation, such a house as might be most likely to preserve that Library from all accidents, or—in the event of the performance by the Public, before the falling out of the contingency above mentioned, of that duty to which it already stood pledged by Act of
Mh.spka Onslow Jn The FormaTion Of The British
Parliament, then—for the purpose of purchasing such manuscripts, books of antiquities, ancient coins, medals, and other curiosities, as might be worthy to increase the Cottonian Library aforesaid;' to which end the same public benefactor further bequeathed his own library.
In order therefore to give due effect, at length, both to the primary donation of Sir John Cotton, and to the additional benefaction made thereto by Major Arthur Edwards, Parliament now enacted that a general repository should be provided for the several collections of Cotton, Edwards, and Sloane, and that Major Edwards' legacy of money should be paid to the Trustees created by the new Act, in accordance with the provisions heretofore recited in Sir Hans Sloane's codicil of 1749.
It is to the exertions, at this time, of Arthur Onslow, Kek the then Speaker of the House of Commons, that historical students owe their debt of gratitude for the preservation of the Harleian Manuscripts from that dispersion,— abroad as well as at home,—which befel the Harleian printed books.
When the Memorial of Sloane's Trustees was first presented to George The Second, he received it with the stolid indifference to all matters bearing upon science and mental culture, which was as saliently characteristic of that king as were his grosser vices. 'I don't think there are twenty thousand pounds in the Treasury,' was the remark with which he dismissed the proposal. Money could be found, indeed, for very foolish purposes, and for very base ones. And the bareness of the Treasury was, very often, the natural result of the profligacy of the Court. But, in 1753, it was a fact.
Save for Speaker Onslow's exertions, the Memorial would have fared little better in Parliament than at Court. The
then Premier, Henry Pelham, was not unfriendly to the- Bmu,
. Chap VI
scheme, nor was he, like his royal master, a man of sordid T..i
nature; but a Minister who was every now and then obliged
to write to his ambassadors abroad, even in the crisis of S,-°A*K
important negotiations, 'I have ordered you a part of your last year's appointments, but we are so poor that I can do no more,' could hardly be eager to provide forty or fifty thousand pounds for the purchase of a new Museum and the safety of an old Library.
Onslow proposed—eventually—as a means of over- "incoming these difficulties, that a sum of money should be ZmlTs, raised by a public lottery, and that it should be large Vl '" enough to effect not only the immediate objects contemplated by the Will of Sir Hans Sloane, and by the prior public establishment of Sir Robert Cotton's Library, but to purchase for a like purpose the noble series of Manuscripts which had passed (just eleven years before Sloane's death) to the executors of the last Earl of Oxford, in trust for his widow, the Dowager Countess, and for his daughter, the Duchess of Portland.
Edward, Earl of Oxford, had stood at one period of his life, in the rank of the wealthiest of Englishmen. He was the owner of estates worth some four or five hundred thousand pounds. He was, too, a man of highly intellectual and studious tastes; but, in his case, a magnificent style of living, great generosity, and excessive trust in dependants, did what is more usually the work of huge folly or of gross sins; they brought him into circumstances which, for his position in life, might almost be called those of poverty. But for this comparative impoverishment, his own act—it is more than probable—would have secured to posterity the enjoyment, in its entirety, of the splendid library he had inherited and increased.
Book I, To the proposal of a lottery there was much solid objec
T„"pp tion. What were then called 'parliamentary lotteries' had
Founds keen mtro(juce(j expressly to put down those private lotte
Sloark r[cs common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
which had been fraught with mischief. It was hoped, or pretended, that a 'regulated' evil would be reduced within tolerable limits, whilst bringing grist to the national mill. But the forty years that had passed since the first parliamentary lottery of 1709 had shown that the system was essentially and incurably mischievous. Pelham was averse to its continuance. As First Lord of the Treasury, it was his poverty, not his will, that consented to the adoption of so questionable an expedient for the purchase of the Sloank Collections. He had not, individually, any such love of learning as might have induced an appeal to Parliament to set, for once, an example of liberal and far-sighted legislation. He merely stipulated that some stringent provisos should be put into the Act, directed against the nefarious practices of the lottery-jobbers. Thk Lot- Eventually, it was enacted that there should be a hundred TM" 0,1768 thousand shares, at three pounds a share; that two hundred
FOR THK 'I'
Purchase thousand pounds should be allotted as prizes, and that the
Sloahi And remaining hundred thousand—less the expenses of the C.m"!ec.an lottery itself—should be applied to the threefold purposes of the Act, namely, the purchase of the Sloane and Harleian Collections; the providing of a Repository; and the. creation of an annual income for future maintenance.
By the precautionary clauses of the Bill, provision was made for the prolonged sale of shares; for the prevention of the purchase by any one adventurer of more than twenty shares, or 'tickets,' and for other impediments, as it was
thought, to a fraudulent traffic in the combined covetous- B<x>«i, ness and ignorance 01 the unwary. Thk
All these precautions proved to be vain. Mr. Pelham's opposition was abundantly justified by the result. Fraud proved to be, in that age, just as inseparable an element in a Lottery scheme, however good its purpose, as fraud has proved to be, in this age, an inseparable element (at one stage or other of the business) in a Railway scheme,—however useful the line proposed to be made.
It thus came to pass that the foundation of the British Museum gave rise to a great public scandal. When evidence was produced that many families had been brought to misery, as the first incident in the annals of a beneficent and noble foundation, a somewhat dull Session of Parliament was suddenly enlivened by an animated and angry debate.
The provident clauses in the Lottery Act of 1753 were made of no effect, mainly by entrusting the chief share in working the Act to an accomplished jobber. One Peter iaa*wm Leheup was made a Commissioner of the Lottery. This man had held some employment or other at Hanover, from which he had been recalled with circumstances of disgrace. It is to be inferred, from the way in which his name points an epigrammatic phrase in one of the letters of Boling- 1753 Broke,* and in more than one of those of Horace Walpole, that it had come, long before this appointment took place, to have a sort of proverbial currency, like the names of 'Curll ' or of 'Chartres.' But, be that as it may, Mr. Commissioner Leheup set on foot as thriving and as flagitious a traffic in Sloank lottery tickets, as was ever
* 'Walpole is your tyrant to-day; and any man His Majesty pleases to name—Horace or Leheup—may be so to-morrow.'—Bolinybrokc to Marchmont, 22 July, 1739.
The ProseCution OF Lehei P For