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Mr. Panizzi himself preferred, at first, the plan of extending the building on the eastern and northern sides. His suggestions had the approval of the Commissioners of 1S50. But the Government was slow to give power to the Trustees to carry out the plan of their officer and the recommendation of the Commissioners of Inquiry, by proposing the needful vote in a Committee of Supply. Plan and Report alike lay dormant from the year 1850 to 1854. It was t hen that, as a last resort, and as a measure of economy, by avoiding all present necessity to buy more ground of the Duke of Bedford, Mr. Panizzi recommended the Trustees to build within the quadrangle, and drew a sketch-plan, on which their architect reported favourably. Sixty-one thousand pounds, by way of a first instalment, was voted on the third of July, 1854. The present noble structure was completed within three years from that day, and its total cost—including the extensive series of book-galleries and rooms of various kinds, subserving almost innumerable purposes—amounted in round numbers to a hundred and fifty thousand pounds. It was thus only a little more than the cost of the King's Library, which accommodates eighty thousand volumes of books and a Collection of Birds. The new Reading-Room and its appendages can be made to accommodate, in addition to its three hundred and more of readers, some million, or near it, of volumes, without impediment to their fullest accessibility.

To describe by words a room which, in 1870, has become more or less familiar, I suppose, to hundreds of thousands of Britons, and to a good many thousands of foreigners, would now be superfluous. But it will not be without advantage, perhaps, to show its character and appearance with the simple brevity of woodcuts.

The following illustrative block-plan shows the general

[graphic]

I. General Block-plan Of The British Museum,

AS IT WAS IN 1857.

The shaded part of the building itself shows the portions allotted to the Library. The unshaded part is assigned, on the ground floor, to the Department of Antiquities, and (speaking generally) on the floor above—in common with

Book III,
Chap. III.

IIlSTOKY
OF T1IK

Museum
Under Sir
A. Panlzzi.

the upper floors of the Library part—to the Departments of Natural History. The 'Print Boom' is shown on the ground-plan between the Elgin Gallery and the northwestern extremity of the Department of Printed Books.

The next illustration shows, in detail, the ground-plan of the new Reading-Room and of the adjacent bookgalleries :—

[graphic]

II. Ground-plan Of The New Or 'Panizzi' Reading-room, And Of The Adjacent Galleries, 1857.

The general appearance of the interior of the Reading- Book nj.

Room may be shown thus:

History

Of Til K

[graphic]

Book m, Of course, the improvements thus effected did but solve Uistoht a portion of the difficulty felt, long before 1857, in accomMitm*m modating the National Collections upon any adequate scale, ^*p",jtm which should provide alike for present claims and for future extension. This more effectual provision became one of the most pressing questions with which both the Trustees and their officers had now to deal. During the whole term of Sir A. Panizzi's Principal-Librarianship this building question increased in gravity and urgency, from year to year. Both the Trustees and the PrincipalLibrarian were intent upon its solution. But the latter was enforced, by failing health, to quit office, leaving the matter still unsolved. Paslia- Most of the little information on this part of the subject

MENTARY T J

Inquiry which, within my present limits, it will be practicable for

INTO PRO- l 1 l 1 1

Poskd En- me to offer to the reader, belongs, properly, to a subsequent rt"" chapter. But some brief notice must be given here of the important inquiries, 'how far, and in what way, it may be desirable to find increased space for the extension and arrangement of the various Collections of the British Museum, and the best means of rendering them available for the promotion of Science and Art,' which were made, between the months of May and August of 18G0, by a Select Committee of the House of Commons.

The first question to be answered by the Committee of 1860 was this: Is it expedient, or not, that the NaturalHistory Collections should be removed from Bloomsbury, to make room for the inevitable growth of the Collections of Antiquities?

After an elaborate inquiry, spreading over three months, the Committee reported thus :—' The witnesses examined have, almost unanimously, testified to the preference over the other Collections, with which the Natnral-His

MUSEUK

IN 1860.

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