Chapter I. Introduction :—Summary View Of The History Of The British Museum During The Principal


II. Introduction (continued) :—Summary View Of The
History Of The British Museum During The
Principal-librarianship Of Sir Henry Ellis.

III. Introduction (continued) :—Summary View Of The

History Of The British Museum During The
Principal-librarianship Of Sir Antonio Panizzi.

IV. Another Group Of Arch^ologists And Classical


V. The Founder Of The Grenville Library.
VI. Benefactors Of Recent Days.
VII. Reconstructors And Projectors.

'The comprehensive character of the British Museum— the origin of which may be traced to the heterogeneous nature of Sir Hans Sloane's bequest—doubtless makes it difficult to provide for the expansion of its various branches, according to their relative demands upon the space and light which can be applied to their accommodation. Any attempt, however, now to diminish that difficulty by segregating any portion, or by scattering in various localities the components of the vast aggregate, would involve a sacrifice of great scientific advantages which are not the less inherent in their union because that union was, in its origin, fortuitous

'Some passages of our evidence ... illustrate the difficulty of. drawing a line of separation, for purposes of management

and superintendence, between certain Collections

Its occurrence [i. e. the occurrence of such a difficulty] indicates strongly the value to Science, of the accidents which have placed in near juxtaposition the Collections of mineralogy [and] of forms of existing and extinct animal and vegetable life. The immediate connexion of all alike with the Library of the Museum is too important to allow us to contemplate its dissolution.'—Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Constitution and Management of the British Museum (1850), p. 36.



. . . Perseverance keeps honour bright.
To hare done, is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery.

Troilus and Creuida.

* Signer, mirate, come '1 tempo vola,
E siccome la vita

Fogge, e la Morte ne sovra le spalle,

Voi siete or qui: pensate alia partita

Che 1' alma ignuda e sola

Conven ch' arrive a quel dubbioso calle.' ....

Petraech {Italia mia, kc).

Notices of the Life of Joseph Planta, third Principal-
Librarian.Improvements in the Internal Economy of
the Museum introduced or recommended by Mr.
Planta.His labours for the enlargement of the
Collections and on the Museum Publications and
Catalogues.The Museum Gardens and the Duke of

Hitherto these pages have chiefly had to do with the Book in. history of the integral parts of the British Museum, and History with that of the men by whom these integral parts, taken Mtmtm severally, were first founded or first gathered. We have J^JJ^, now to glance at the organic history of the whole, after the primary Collections and the early additions to them came, by aggregation, to be combined into the existing national establishment. It may, at best, be only by glances that so wide a subject can (within the limits of this one volume) be looked over, in retrospect. That necessity of being brief suggests a connection of the successive epochs in the story of the Museum, for seventy years, with the lives of the three eminent men who have successively presided over the institution since the beginning of the present century. Those three official lives, I think, will be found to afford succinct divisions or breakings of the subject, as well as to possess a distinctive personal interest of their own. Our introductory chapters will therefore—in relation to the chapters which follow them—be, in part, retrospective, and, in part, prospective.

When Dr. Charles Morton died (10 February, 1799), Joseph Planta was, by the three principal Trustees, appointed to be his successor. The choice soon commended itself to the Public by the introduction of some important improvements into the internal economy of the institution. It is the first librarianship which is distinctively marked as a reforming one. In more than one of his personal qualities Mr. Planta was well fitted for such a post as that of Principal Officer of the British Museum. He had been for many years in the service of the Trustees. He had won the respect of Englishmen by his literary attainments. He was qualified, both by his knowledge of foreign languages and by his eminent courtesy of manners, for that salient part of the duties of librarianship which consists in the adequate reception and the genial treatment of strangers.

Joseph Planta was of Swiss parentage. He was of a

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