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Then the visitor, passing again through the vestibule {J) and great saloon {B), entered the rooms K, L, and

Book Ii, M. .ATcontained the minerals and fossils of Sir Hans Sloane's Ea°ely collection; L, the shells; M, the plants and insects. Ihtbuthh Thence he passed into N, which was devoted to the bulk of MusiTM, jjjg Sloane Zoological Collection, and into 0, containing artificial and miscellaneous curiosities.

Descending to the floor beneath, by the secondary staircase between iVand 0, the visitor then entered the small room P, which contained the magnetic apparatus given by Dr. Gowin Knight, and the rooms, Q and B, devoted to the reception of the greater part of the Royal Library, restored by Henry, Prince of Wales, and augmented— but with extreme parsimony—by several of the Stuart monarchs, whose additions to the shelves were, indeed, much oftener made of books given, than of books bought. He then passed into Sloane's Printed Library, which occupied the whole of the spacious and handsome suite of rooms S, T, V, W, X, and Y, and (passing through the Trustees' Room Z,) entered the room A A, containing the Edwards Library; ending his tour of inspection in the room B B, in which was arranged the remainder of the old Royal Library, the main portion whereof had been seen already in Q and B.

Rough Diagram, shotting Ground Plan of the original
British Museum of 1759.

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Book 11,
Chap. 1.
Tiik British

Officers' Apartments.


Major Edwards'


Old Itoyal

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When the combined Museum and Libraries, thus arranged, were first opened to the inspection of the curious Public

chM m 1759, the collections enumerated in the Foundation Act

Eabiy 0f 1753 had, it is seen, already received some notable

History or .

Thi Briush increase by gifts. The first donor was the House of Lords,

SElM by whose order the historical collections of Thomas Rymer,

Early •> ,'

Helpirs In royal historiographer, and editor of the Foedera, were given



Growth OF The British Museum.


or THE


ence of

to the Trustees, immediately after their incorporation. Then followed, in 1757, the gift of the Royal Library and that of the Lethieullier Antiquities from Egypt [See Chapter II.] The next donor, in order of time, was a Jewish merchant, and stock-broker, of humble origin, but of princely 1769 disposition. Solomon da Costa was one of the many men

Da Costa's"

Hebkew who have done honour to commerce not merely by its suc—History cessful prosecution, but by the conspicuous union of mercantile astuteness with noble tastes and true beneficence. His talents for business enabled him to make a hundred thousand pounds—which in his day was more, perhaps, than the equivalent of four hundred thousand in ours. He had made it, says a keen observer, who knew the man well, 'without scandal or meanness.' When wealth made him independent, he spent his new leisure, not in luxury but in hard labour for the poor.

Da Costa had come, from Amsterdam, into England, in the year 1704. His struggling Hebrew compatriots were among the earliest sharers in his bounty. But his heart was too large to suffer that bounty to be limited by considerations either of race or of local neighbourhood. To him, as to the Samaritan of old, distress made kinship. He was wont to journey, from time to time, through thirty or forty parishes of Surrey and of Kent, with the punctual diligence of a commercial traveller, simply to succour the distressed by that best of all succour, the provision of means through which, in time, self-help would be developed and ensured. Provident loans, clothing-funds, the education and apprenticeship of necessitous children, were the *00Kn> forms in which Da Costa's benevolence delighted to in- Early vest not only his money, but his personal exertion and his ti,ti°"tmm cordial sympathy. He devoted more than a thousand Uvatv*pounds a year to the benefit of Christian Englishmen, besides all that he gave to the poor of his own faith and race. And to both he gave, without noise or ostentation.

He had, too, the breadth of view which enabled him to put, on their true foot of equality, the claims of the necessitous mind, as well as those of the necessitous body. Unlike many other men of genuine beneficence, popular estimates of giving did not mislead him into one-sidedness of aim.

Within a few years of Da Costa's arrival in England, probably about the year 1720, and when, with youthful ardour, he was seeking to acquire knowledge as well as to make money, he met, at a bookseller's, with a remarkable collection of Hebrew books, of choice editions and in rich and uniform bindings. The collection had that sumptuousness of aspect which invited inquiry into its origin. All that he could learn on that score was the probability that some statesman or other of the Commonwealth period, had collected them for a public but unfulfilled purpose, and that they had fallen—with so much other spoil—into the hands of Chari-es The Second. By that King's order they had received, if not their rich binding, at least his crown and cypher as marks of the royal appropriation, and then (in a truly Carolinian fashion) were left in the hands of the King's stationer for lack of payment of the charge of what—whether binding or mere decoration—had been done to the books by the royal command. Da Costa prized them as among his chief treasures, but directly he heard of the foundation of a great repository of learning,

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