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valuable Collection of classical authors, in about nine hun- Bookii. dred volumes, was bequeathed by another worthy Trustee, BookMr. Thomas Tyrwhitt, distinguished both as a scholar and ^TMSAND as the Editor of Chaucer. Benetm.
But all the early gifts to the Museum, made after its parliamentary organization, were eclipsed, at the close of the century, by the bequest of the Cracherode Collections. That bequest comprised a very choice library of printed l""
A r J J i Bequest
books; a cabinet of coins, medals, and gems; and a series Of The of original drawings by the great masters, chosen, like the Roue Col
books and the coins, with exquisite taste, and, as the auctioneers say, quite regardless of expense. It also 1799. included a small but precious cabinet of minerals.
The collector of these rarities was wont to speak of them with great modesty. They are, he would say, mere 'specimen collections.' But to amass them had been the chief pursuit of a quiet and blameless life.
Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode was born in London Ll,IAm
about the year 1730. And he was 'a Londoner' in a sense or Mr. and degree to which, in this railway generation, it would Cbache. be hard to find a parallel. Among the rich possessions K0DE which he inherited from Colonel Cracherode, his father— whose fortune had been gathered, or increased, during an active career in remote parts of the world—was an estate in Hertfordshire, on which there grew a certain famous chestnut-tree, the cynosure of all the country-side for its size and antiquity. This tree was never seen by its new owner, save as he saw the poplars of Lombardy, or the cedars of Lebanon—in an etching. In the course of a long life he never reached a greater distance from the metropolis than Oxford. He never mounted a horse. The ordinary extent of his travels, during the prime years of a long life, was from Queen Square, in Westminster, to Clapham. For
Book Ii, almost forty years it was his daily practice to walk from his
Book- house to the shop of Ei-msly, a bookseller in the Strand,,
I'ubuo*"0 ar,d thence to the still more noted shop of Tom Payne, by
Bknkfac- 'the Mews-Gate.' Once a week, he varied the daily walk
by calling on Mudge, a chronometer-maker, to get his watch regulated. His excursions had, indeed, one other and not infrequent variety—dictated by the calls of Christian benevolence—but of these he took care to have no note taken.
Early in life, and probably to meet his father's wish, he received holy orders, but he never accepted any preferment in the Church. He took the restraints of the clerical profession, without any of its emoluments. His classical attainments were considerable, but the sole publication of a long life of leisure was a university prize poem, printed in the Carmina Quadragesimalia of 1748. The only early tribulation of a life of idyllic peacefulness was a dread that he might possibly be called upon, at a coronation, to appear in public as the King's cupbearer—his manor of Great Wymondley being held by a tenure of grand-serjeantry in that onerous employment. Its one later tinge of bitterness lay in the dread of a French invasion. These may seem small sorrows, to men who have had a full share in the stress and anguish of the battle of life. But the weight of a burden is no measure of the pain it may inflict. Mr. Cracherode looked to his possible cupbearership, with apprehension just as acute as that with which Cowper contemplated the awful task of reading in public the Journals of the House of Lords. And the sleepless nights which long afterwards were brought to Cracherode by the horrors of the French revolutionary war were caused less by personal fears than by the dread of public calamities, more terrible than death. During one year of the devastations on the other side of the Channel, Bookii,
chronicled by our daily papers, Mr. Cracherode was Book
thought by his friends to have 'aged' full ten years in his p°TM^ *
The one active and incessant pursuit of this noiseless career was the gathering together of the most choice books, the finest coins and gems, the most exquisite drawings and prints, which money could buy, without the toils of travel. Our Collector's liberality of purse enabled him to profit, at his ease, by the truth expressed in one of the wise maxims of John Selden :—' The giving a dealer his price hath this advantage;—he that will do so shall have the refusal of whatsoever comes to the dealer's hand, and so by that means get many things which otherwise he never should have seen.' The enjoyment—almost a century ago—of six hundred pounds a year in land, and of nearly one hundred thousand pounds invested in the 'sweet simplicity' of the three per cents., enabled Mr. Cracherode to outbid a good many competitors. His natural wish that what he had so eagerly gathered should not be scattered to the four winds on the instant he was carried to his grave, and also the public spirit which dictated the choice of a national repository as the permanent abode of his Collections, has already made that long course of daily visits to the London dealers in books, coins, and drawings, fruitful of good to hundreds of poorer students and toilers, during more than two generations. From stores such as Mr. Craoherode's— when so preserved—many a useful labourer gets part of his best equipment for the tasks of his life. He, too, would enjoy a visit to the 'Paynes' and the 'Elmslys' of the day as keenly as any book-lover that ever lived, but is too often, perhaps, obliged to content himself with an outside glance at the' windows. Public libraries put him practi
cally on a level with the wealthiest connoisseur. When, as
‘Nusquam blatta, vel inquinata charta,
Hic sit quinitet arte Montacuti,
In CRACHERODE’s eyes, external charms such as these were scarcely less essential than the intrinsic worth of the author. “Large paper and broad pure margins are fancies which it needs not much culture or much wit to banter. But now and then, they are ridiculed by those who have just as little capacity to judge the pith and
Loveks And Public BenefacTors.
substance of books, as of taste to appreciate beauty in Bookii, their outward form.* Book-111
The solidity of those three per cents., and the plodding perseverance of their owner, were in time rewarded by the collection (1) of a library containing only four thousand five hundred volumes, but of which probably every volume —on an average of the whole—was worth, in mercantile eyes, some three pounds; (2) of seven portfolios of drawings, still more choice; (3) of a hundred portfolios of prints, many of which were almost priceless; and (4) of coins and gems—such as the cameo of a lion on sardonyx, and the intaglio of the Discobolos—worthy of an imperial cabinet.
The ruling passion kept its strength to the last. An agent was buying prints, for addition to the store, when the Collector was dying. About four days before his death, Mr. Cracherode mustered strength to pay a farewell visit to the old shop at the Mews-Gate. He put a finely printed Terence (from the press of Foulis) into one pocket, and a large paper Cedes into another; and then,—with a longing look at a certain choice Homer, in the course of which he mentally, and somewhat doubtingly, balanced its charms with those of its twin brother in Queen Square,—parted finally from the daily haunt of forty peripatetic and studious years.
Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode died towards the close of 1799. He bequeathed the whole of his collections to the Nation, with the exception of two volumes of books. A polyglot Bible was given to Shute Barrington, Bishop
* "Or must I, as a wit, with learned air
Like Doctor Dibdin, to Tom Payne's repair,
Mathias, Pursuits of IAtm-ature.