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steps, and appealed, by turns, to the suspicions and to the
Book in, and Speaker), recalling his recommendation, and stating
H»To"i liis reason. With the Speaker, Rogers also conversed on
Miik'm tl,e subject. Mr. Abercromby asked the poet : 'What do
I'ndke Sib vou know about a Mr. Panizzi, who stands next to Cary?'
H. Elms. J _'
'Panizzi,' said Rogers, ' would serve you very well.' 'To tell you the truth,' rejoined the Speaker, 'we think that, if Mr. Cary is not appointed, Panizzi will be the right man.' At that time, Mr. Panizzi was not personally known either to the Speaker or to the Chancellor.
I give these details, first, because they became, in afterdays, a very vital and influential part of the History of the British Museum. No appointment was ever made during the whole of the hundred and fifteen years which have elapsed betwixt the first organization of the establishment in 1755 and the year in which I write (1870) that has had such large influence upon its growth and its improvement; and, secondly, because in a published life of the excellent man whose temporary disappointment led to a great public benefit a passage appears which (doubtless very unintentionally, but not the less seriously) misrepresents the matter, and hints, mysteriously, at underhanded influence, as though something had been done in the way of treachery to Cary. 'The Lord Chancellor and the Speaker,' writes Cary's biographer, ' acting under information, the source of which was probably known only to them and their informant,
nlZitcZy, resolved on passing him over, and appointing his subor
vUui,p.2oo. dinate, Mr. Panizzi, to the vacant place.'
These letters and conversations passed in the interval between the announcement that there would be a vacancy in the Museum staff and its actual occurrence. The Keepership became vacant on the twenty-fourth of June. On that day Mr. Cary made his personal application to the Archbishop. The Archbishop told him that objections were made to his appointment. Cary, immediately after his Bookiii, return, told his brother-officers Babkr and Panizzi what History the Archbishop had communicated to him. 'Then/ said Mr. Panizzi, 'the thing concerns me.' 'Yes,' rejoined g""TM®1" Cary, 'certainly it does.' They all knew that applications for the vacant office from outsiders were talked of. Among these were the late Reverend Ernest Hawkins and the late Reverend Richard Garnett (who afterwards succeeded to the Assistant-Librarianship). And Mr. Panizzi then proceeded to say to Mr. Ca Ky: 'You will not, now, object to my asking for the place myself, as there are these objections to you.' Cary replied, 'Not at all.5 Instantly, and in Cary's presence, Mr. Panizzi wrote thus to the Archbishop :—' I hope your Grace will not deem it presumptuous in me to beg respectfully of your Grace and the other Principal Trustees to take my case into consideration, should they think it necessary to depart from the usual system of regular promotion, on appointing Mr. Baber's successor. I venture to say thus much, having been informed by Mr. Cary of the conversation he has had the Panizzi to the honour to have with your Grace.' The writer gave his Canterbury,0 letter into Mr. Cary's hand, received his brother-officer's 2«June l8f
immediate approval, and had that approval, at a later hour of the day and after a re-perusal of the letter, confirmed.
Within the walls of the Museum, the general feeling was so strongly in favour of Mr. Cary's appointment, despite all objection (and nothing can be more natural than that it should be so—' A fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind '), that the public interest, in having an officer who would use the appointment rather as a working-tool than as a reclining staff, was, for the moment, lost sight of. Sir Henry Ellis himself, when asked to give a formal testimonial of Mr. Panizzi's qualifications to be head of the
Cary to the
Printed Book Department, answered: 'If you told me that the Bodleian Librarianship was vacant—or any other outside Librarianship worth your having—you should have my heartiest recommendation. At present, you must excuse meor in words to that effect. Edward Hawkins, then Keeper of the Department of Antiquities, expressed himself (in the hearing of the present writer) to like purpose, when asked what his opinion was on a point which, at the moment, attracted not a little attention in literary circles.* Cary afterwards—and when it was too late to recall it —regretted his assent to Mr. Panizzi's application. He applied again to the Archbishop, and obtained something like a promise of support. He wrote several letters to the Lord Chancellor. In one of these he (unconsciously, as it seems) adduced a conclusive argument against his own appointment to the office he sought. He wrote that, as he was informed, the objections of his Lordship and of the Speaker were twofold: the one resting on his age, and the other on the state of his health. He answered the objections in these words :—' My age, it is plain, might rather ask for me that alleviation of labour which, in this as in other public offices, is gained by promotion to a superior place, than call for a continuance of the same laborious employment.' What must have been a Lord Chancellor's ruminations upon the 'alleviation of labour' which 'a
* It is necessary that I should state, with precision, the sources of the information conveyed in the text. I rely, chiefly, on three several sources, one of which is publicly accessible. My main knowledge of the matter rests (first) upon the Minutes of Evidence taken by Lord Ellesmere's Commission of 1848-1850; (secondly) upon conversations with the late Mr. Edward Hawkins, held in July and August, 1837, not long after the appearance of Mr. Cary's letter in The Times; (thirdly) upon a conversation, on the same subject, with which I was honoured by Sir Henry Ellis in 1839.
superior place' brings to a public servant, is a somewhat Bookiii, amusing subject of conjecture. History
It was with perfect honesty and integrity of purpose that Museum Mr. Cary adduced medical testimony of his fitness for con- gTM*^"' tinued but diminished labours. He would have exerted himself to the best of his ability. But it was a blemish in an excellent man that (under momentary irritation) he twice permitted himself to reproach his competitor and colleague with being 'a foreigner.'
One would fain have hoped that our famous countryman Daniel Defoe had, a hundred years before, put all reproach and contumely on the score of a man's not being a 'trueborn Englishman' quite out of Court, in all contentions concerning capabilities of public service. But, of all places in the world, a Museum is the queerest place in which to raise petty questions of nationality. If it be at all worthy of its name, its contents must have come from the four quarters of the globe. Men of every race under Heaven must have worked hard to furnish it. It brings together the plants of Australia; the minerals of Peru; the shells of the far Pacific; the manuscripts which had been painfully compiled or transcribed by twenty generations of labourers in every corner of Europe, as well as in the monasteries of Africa and of the Eastern Desert; and the sculptures and the printed books of every civilised country in the world. And then it is proposed—when arrangements are to be made for turning dead collections into living fountains of knowledge —that the question asked shall be: not 'What is your capacity to administer?' but 'Where were you born?' I hope, and I believe, that in later years Mr. Cart regretted that he had permitted a name so deservedly honoured to endorse so poor a sophism.