Oldalképek
PDF

historical, literary, and geographical subjects.* By some Bookii, transient forgetfulness of the pledge given to Lord Earn- The Borough, the manuscripts, or part of them, were, in March, .^"0^°*. 1841, sent to the ' Manuscript Department' of the Museum. LlB,u"But Mr. Panizzi, then the Keeper of the Printed Books, Afhtuies of successfully reclaimed them for their due place of deposit, according to the arrangement of 1823. Nor was such a ab0TM claim a mere official punctilio.

In every point of view, close regard to the wishes of donors, or of those who virtually represent them, is not more a matter of simple justice than it is a matter of wise and foreseeing policy in the Trustees of Public Museums. The integrity of their Collections is often, and naturally, an anxious desire of those who have formed them. In a subsequent chapter (C. ii of Book III) it will be seen that the wish expressed by the representatives of King George The Third was also the wish of a munificent contemporary and old minister of his, who, many years afterwards, gave to the Nation a Library only second in splendour to that which had been gathered by George The Third.

Not the least curious little fact connected with the Georgian Library and its gift to the Public, is that the gilt was predicted thirty-one years before George The Fourth wrote his letter addressed to Lord Liverpool from the Pavilion at Brighton, and twenty-eight years before the death of George The Third.

In 1791, Frederick Wendeborn wrote thus:—'The King's private Library .. . can boast very valuable and magnificent books, which, as it is said, will be one time or another

* Curiously enough, three volumes of the Georgian MSS. had belonged to Sir Hans Sloane, and had, in some unexplained way, come to be separated from the bulk of his Collection. They now rejoined their old companions in Great Russell Street.

Book ii, joined to those of the British Museum.' Wendeborn* Thk 1V was a German preacher, resident in London for many Kisg's Ok years jje was known to Queen Charlotte, and had Lisbaky. occasional intercourse with the Court. May it not be inferred that on some occasion or other the King had intimated, if not an intention, at least a thought on the matter, which some courtier or other had repeated in the hearing of Dr. Wendeborn?

• See, before, p. 339.

CHAPTER V.

THE FOUNDER OF THE BANKSIAN MUSEUM
AND LIBRARY.

'It may be averred for truth that they be not the highest
instances that give the best and surest information.
. . . . It often comes to pass [in the study of Nature]
that small and mean things conduce more to the discovery
of great matters, than great things to the discovery of
small matters.'—Bacon.

'Not every man is fit to travel. Travel makes a wise
man better, but a fool worse.'—Owkn Felltham.

The Life, Travels, and Social Influence, of Sir Joseph Banks.The Royal Society under his Presidency.His Collections and their acquisition by the Trustees of the British Museum.Notices of some other contemporaneous accessions.

We have now to glance at the career—personal and Bookii, scientific—of an estimable public benefactor, with whom t!',°kpfou.-« King George The Third had much pleasant intercourse, TMOTTM both of a public and a private kind. Sir Joseph Banks ""«TM was almost five years younger than his royal friend and Libkabt. correspondent, but he survived the King by little more than three months, so that the Georgian and the Banksian Libraries were very nearly contemporaneous accessions. The former, as we have seen, was given in 1823, and fully received in 1828; the latter was bequeathed (conditionally) in 1820, and received in 1827. These two accessions, taken conjointly, raised the Museum collection of books

[ocr errors]

Book ii. (for the first time in its history) to a respectable rank Ti'ii I'ous. amongst the National Libraries of the day. The Banksian bequest made also an important addition to the naturalhistory collections, especially to the herbaria. It is as a Libbaey. cultivator and promoter of the natural sciences, and preeminently of botany, that Sir Joseph won for himself enduring fame. But he was also conspicuous for those personal and social qualities which are not less necessary to the man, than are learning and liberality to the philosopher. For the lack of such personal qualities some undoubted public benefactors have been, nevertheless, bad citizens. In this public benefactor both sets of faculties were harmoniously combined. They shone in his form and countenance. They yet dwell in the memory of a survivor or two,, here and there, who were the contemporaries of his closing years.

Joseph Banks was born at Reresby Abbey, in Lincolnshire, on the thirteenth of December, 1743. He was the only son of "William Banks-iiodgkenson, of Reresby Abbey, by his wife Sophia Bate.

Mr. Banks-hodgkenson was the descendant of a YorkBAMOisKs shire family, which was wont, of old, to write itself 'Banke,' and was long settled at Banke-Newton, in the wapentake of Staincliffe. The second son of a certain Henry Banke, of Banke-Newton, acquired, by marriage, Beck Hall, in Giggleswick; and by his great grandson, the first Joseph Bankes, Reresby Abbey was purchased towards the close of the seventeenth century. His son (also Joseph) sat in Parliament for Peterborough, and served as Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1736. The second (and eldest surviving) son of the Member for Peterborough took the name of Hod G Ken Son, as heir to his mother's ancestral estate of Overton, in Derbyshire, but on the death of his elder brother (and his consequent heirship) resumed the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

paternal name, and resigned the Overton estate to his Bo<*h, next brother, who became Robert Hodgkenson, of Overton. Thr FounMr. Banks-iiodgkenson died in 1701, leaving to his son, £ASF,TME afterwards Sir Joseph Banks, a plentiful estate. """d"1* The youngster was then little more than beginning his Library. career at Oxford, whither he had recently come from Eton, £abli

•* YEARS or

though his schooling had been begun at Harrow. He was Sir Josehi 'lord of himself/ and of a fine fortune, at the critical age of eighteen. To many, such an inheritance, under like circumstances, has brought misery. To Joseph Banks, it brought noble means for the prosecution of a noble aim. It was the ambition of this young Etonian—not to eclipse jockies, or to dazzle the eyes of fools, but—to tread in the footsteps of Linnaeus. Rich, hardy, and handsome in person, sanguine in temperament, and full of talent, he resolved that, for some years to come, after leaving the University, the life that might so easily be brimmed with enjoyments should incur many privations and face many hardships, in order to win both knowledge and the power of benefiting the Public by its communication. That object of early ambition, it will be seen, was abundantly realised in the after-years.

There is no reason to think that a resolution, not often formed at such an age as eighteen, was come to in the absence of temptation to a different course. Banks was no ascetic. Nor was it his fortune, at any time, to live much with ascetics. One of his earliest friends was that Lord Sandwicu* whose memory now chiefly connects itself with the unsavoury traditions of Medmenham Abbey, and with the peculiar pursuits in literature of John Wilkes. With Sandwich he spent many of the bright days of

* John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich (1729-1792).

« ElőzőTovább »