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intended to become. But a collection less complete, much less costly, is wanted for daily use. The first would still be the resort of men of letters as at present; the other would be open to the general public, and would satisfy all its wants.
To combine the two would be most inconvenient, if not impossible. A public reading room is not a place where a man can carry on a study. Even the present room at the Museum is almost useless in this respect, from the necessary noises made in carrying books about among two hundred readers. Few people now use it except as a place for consulting books and making references. If a man have serious work to do there, he must get permission to sit in a separate apartment- -as Mr. Macaulay and M. Libri do, who sit in the King's Library; but this permission can only be obtained in very rare cases. If the general public were admitted, only to read, there would be no chance of doing anything beyond mere reading. The experience of the National Library in Paris is decisive on the point. In a letter written by M. Libri to the Committee, he says of the two chief collections of France:
"Neither the Bibliothèque Nationale nor the Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève is a popular library. They consist chiefly of important and rare works, of books adapted for the inquiries and serious studies of well-educated men.
"The second more particularly contains but few modern books. Both, however, offering an asylum to the idle population of Paris, they are invaded, especially in winter, by a crowd of persons mostly of indifferent education; of soldiers, of students, and even of schoolboys, who go there almost solely to pass time, and to read works which may be found in all the circulating libraries. The History of the Revolution, by M. Thiers, works with plates, and all sorts of amusing books, are what they chiefly ask for. They thus oblige the administration to have several copies of works always asked for, and of comparatively little interest, for the large establishments. As soon as the doors are opened, all the tables are besieged, all the rooms are occupied, by not very select readers; they find there a temperature which pleases them; agreeable reading. At Saint Geneviève, they find even light gratis; and they install themselves by hundreds in these libraries, sometimes with bread and cheese in their pockets, to avoid being disturbed, and exposing themselves to the cold by going to breakfast at the wine-shop. The result is, that at the Bibliothèque Nationale more particularly, a man who has serious inquiries to make, a scholar of reputation, would not find a corner to sit down in; and it is with great trouble that four or five persons can, by special favour, gain admittance into the private room of the director. The largest literary establishment which exists in the world, the most extensive collection of books which has been formed in modern times, is thus diverted from its real and great object. Out of a million of volumes that the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris contains, nine-tenths at least have become almost entirely useless to this mass of readers, who only generally ask for what may be found in a good circulating library, and whose wants might be satisfied with 20,000 or 30,000 volumes appropriated to these readers. On
the other hand, it is impossible to exercise a proper surveillance over such a mass of readers; a great number of books disappear; others are deteriorated, rendered incomplete; sheets are carried off, to save the trouble of copying them, or take extracts."
This indiscriminate admission of the public is rendered comparatively harmless in Paris by the fact, that men of learning and letters are there allowed to take the books which they may want home with them. We may borrow for our own use all that is good in the management of the French libraries, and reject what is doubtful and defective. We might throw the general library open to the public-but at the same time, by forming a subsidiary library out of the duplicates (already 52,000 in number), fitted up in a manner better adapted to promote the comfort of those who simply wish to read, the consulting library would probably remain much in its present state.
There are two other points connected with the British Museum on which the Committee express the strongest opinions-the necessity of having it open in the evening-and the desirableness of lending out the books, under strict guarantees of course, to readers. The first of these points chiefly concerns the working classes. To them the mere opening of the institution from ten to four would be only an additional mockery. The great objection to this course has always been the alleged danger to the books from the use of gas. The objection is two-fold-it asserts, that gas spoils the binding, and exposes the books to fire. There is little force in either. Gas is not found to spoil the binding of books in our private houses, and a library properly fitted up-fire-proof-is one of the least likely of all places to be burnt by fire. The National Library in Paris runs far more risk of destruction by fire than the British Museum would if covered with jets of gas; but it has not been burned. Even Chetham's library in Manchester is closed to the public at night-and so is rendered useless to the toiling thousands of that city-through the same absurd fear of gas. The same objections are felt in many parts of the continent; but at Rouen, at Orleans, and at Paris, the experimeut of having the libraries open in the evening has been tried by the authorities, and it is said by M. Guizot with the very best results. Great numbers of workmen repair to them after the labour of the day, instead of going to the wine-shop: no doubt it would be the same in London and Manchester. The proposition to adopt the continental plan of lending out books meets with the same class of objections. Some of them would be lost, it is said. This is conceded by M. Guizot, M. Van de Weyer, and M. Libri, on behalf of France, Belgium, and Italy. But these eminent witnesses contend that the advantages of such a course are so great as to make the possible waste in this way unworthy of a thought. M. Van de Weyer puts the case well. He admits the moral turpitude which would attach to the neglect to return a book borrowed from the nation: but, at the same time, he shows that the book by changing hands is not absolutely lost. With its store of wisdom, it is still in existence-still has its readers most probably. Whether to men of letters or to the large class of readers, this ques
tion of home-reading is second only in importance to the establishment of the library itself. Both these principles are strongly urged for adoption by the Committee in their Report.
With regard to the more material points. The Committee recommend, in the first place, that a house be at once provided for the reception of books in every locality in which it is possible and desirable-and wherever it is possible it is desirable-to form a public collection. The depository being provided, it is believed that a respectable number of volumes would be obtained by donation. It is a certain fact that most of our literary treasures have been collected by private individuals, and then given to the nation. Nor is this wonderful. Of all the forms of bidding for a lasting name, to bequeath a collection of books to posterity is about the least objectionable. It is probable enough that when once an institution is permanently secured to the inhabitants of a localitythe control of it vested in a public and ever-renewable corporationand the buildings exempted from the burthen of local and general taxation, the books to fill it would soon be found. In the second place, the Committee recommends the managers of the existing public libraries to take such steps as will provide more room for readers in their present premises. There is some scope for improvement in this respect. For example, Dr. Williams's library, in Red Cross Street, City, has, at the present time, accommodation for about 50 or 60 readers: the available space might easily be increased so as to accommodate 100. At Sion College there are not more than six or seven readers generally-there might be space afforded for 200. Neither of these libraries, however, will be usefully employed until they are arranged for being open at night. The same suggestions apply to all the provincial collections of note. In the third place, the Committee recommends the government to make small grants-on clear and strict conditions-for the formation of public libraries. In such cases the conditions imposed should include a provision for the careful maintenance of the books, and for keeping the library open in the evening for the use of the labouring classes. For the grant of money there is precedent both
at home and abroad. Each state in the American Union has an annual vote for books; our own government makes a yearly grant in behalf of school-houses and schools of design. Not many modes of expending the resources of the people are so little open to objection. Lastly, the Committee recommends that power be given by the legislature to enable town councils to lay and levy a small rate for the support of local libraries.
These are the chief points resulting from the inquiry instituted. But while parliament and public bodies are set to the task of reform, individuals should not forget how much good, in such a work of reform, it lies in their power to accomplish. Employers in America and in many towns in the north of England have begun, at their own cost, to erect libraries in their mills and workshops for the free use of their hands. They find their own profit and moral advantage in it-in the improved and improving character of their workpeople. Others have adopted the plan of appropriating all fines
levied on the workers for inattention, late hours, or bad work, to the purchase of books for their daily use. There is a double advantage in this course. Formerly these fines went week by week into the pocket of the master; and the man who had a fraction of his scanty earnings thus arrested would seldom admit that the fine was justly inflicted-he would seldom fail to attribute it to his employer's wish to rob him of his hard-earned cash, and to load with curses those who grind the faces of the poor. Under the new system, he sees that his superior has no personal interest in inflicting such fines-that, in fact, they are inflicted only as a means of discipline; and out of his very faults good is made to come both to himself and to others of his class. It would have been wise and useful for the Committee to have examined one of the managers of these mill-libraries, of which there are several in Manchester and the neighbouring towns. Many curious and interesting facts would thus have come to light. But as it is, this Report is so satisfactory, that Mr. Ewart will well deserve the thanks of every friend of education for the inquiry which he has conducted to so successful a result.
RAILWAYS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.
The Parliamentary proceedings of 1849, in respect to Railways' have been marked by the same caution as those of the preceding year a caution which, if exhibited earlier, would have prevented a mass o commercial difficulty. The Railway Acts of 1848, as noticed in the last number of the Companion, amounted in number to 83, of which there were only about 30 that empowered the construction of new branch lines; the rest related to leases, amalgamations, deviations, amendments, and increased capital for finishing lines already commenced. The mileage of new railway sanctioned did not exceed 300 miles. In the session just terminated (1849), the operations have become still more limited. The new Acts are but 35 in number; and only 12 of these contain provisions for new branch lines. The only new companies incorporated have been two for India; viz.: those for the East India Railway, and the Indian Peninsula Railway. There are seven of the Acts which sanction leases, purchases, or amalgamations of different companies. The remaining 14 Acts relate to amendments, deviations, consolidation of Acts, and increase of capital. The new capital, however, and the new portions of railway, are both small in quantity, as compared with those of the five preceding sessions; and much of the capital is required because the companies find almost insuperable difficulties in raising money on loan. Of the 35 new Acts, 21 relate to England, 9 to Scotland, 1 to Ireland, 2 to Wales, and to India.
The following is a list of the Railway Acts passed in the session of 1849; with a few words explanatory of the main object or objects of each Act :
1. Caledonian; purchase of the Wishaw and Coltness Railway.
2. Caledonian; lease of the Glasgow, Barrhead, and Neilston Railway.
3. Chester and Holyhead; additional capital.
4. Cockermouth and Workington; branch to Bridgefoot; and amend
5. East Anglian; additional time and powers for works.
6. East Indian; incorporating the company.
7. East Lancashire; new branches at Preston; and amendments.
8. East Lothian; dissolution of company.
9. Eastern Union; amendments.
10. Edinburgh and Glasgow; amalgamation with Union Canal Company. 11. Edinburgh and Glasgow; purchase of Wilsontown and Coltness Rail
12. Edinburgh and Northern; new pier and works at Granton.
13. Edinburgh and Northern; additional capital.
14. Glasgow, Kilmarnock, and Ardrossan; additional powers. 15. Great Indian Peninsula; incorporating the company.
16. Great Northern; deviations; enlargement of stations.
17. Irish South Eastern; amendment of Acts.
18. Lancashire and Yorkshire; extensions and amendments.
19. Lancashire and Yorkshire, and London and North Western; joint lease of Preston and Wyre Railway.
20. Lancaster and Carlisle; lease of Lancaster and Preston Railway. 21. Leeds and Thirsk; additional capital.
22. London and Blackwall; extension of time for works.
23. Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire; amendment of Acts.
24. Newcastle and Carlisle; new branch and alterations.
25. North Western; alterations and amendments.
26. Reading, Guildford and Reigate; connecting line near Guildford. 27. Shrewsbury and Birmingham; new branches and works. 28. Shrewsbury and Chester; new branches and works. 29. South Western; extension of time for new branches. 30. South Western; extension from Datchet to Windsor. 31. Stirling and Dunfermline; deviations; extension of time. 32. Stockton and Darlington; lease of Middlesboro' Dock. 33. Taff Vale; branch to Dowlais.
34. York, Newcastle, and Berwick; new branches.
35. York and North Midland; deviations in branch lines.
The monetary or Stock-Exchange aspect of the railway system has exhibited most lamentable features during 1849. The half-yearly dividends declared by the companies, and the current market prices of the shares, have suffered an amount of declension beyond even the gloomy anticipations entertained in the preceding year. In the last Companion (p. 101), a sketch was given of the progressive decline of dividend in most of the principal lines. The London and North Western is almost the only company which has maintained in 1849 the same rate of dividend, even, as in the preceding year, viz. 7 per cent. The Great Western, the Midland, the Lancashire and Yorkshire, the York and Newcastle, the York and North Midland, the Eastern Counties, the South Eastern, the South Western, Brighton, the Manchester and Lincolnshire-all have suffered a decided diminution of dividend. These ten great companies, whose works up to the present time have cost over One Hundred Millions Sterling, have on an average declared, for the half-year ending in the summer of 1849, a dividend on the regular non-guaranteed shares