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Book III, The rapid growth of the Collection of Printed Books,
History more especially between the years 1845-1865, which
Mu«tm had, as we nave seen> resulted from the unremitting labours
Uhdee Sib 0f ]yfr pANlzzIj was well kept up, both under his immediate
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successor, Mr. John Winter Jones, and (after Mr. Jones promotion to the Principal-Librarianship, towards the close of 1866) by the next Keeper, Mr. Watts. As is well known, the increase of the Library is still more remarkable for the character of the additions purchased than for their mere number. But recent years have afforded no such instance of individual munificence in this department of the Museum as that which will presently call for detailed notice when we record the acquisition (in 1846) of the Grenville Library, nor could any such instance, indeed, be reasonably looked for.
Sir Frederick Madden's energetic researches and labours for the improvement of the Collection of MSS. would well merit a fuller account than it is here practicable to give of them. They have been perseveringly and worthily continued by his successor, Mr. Edward Augustus Bond, to whom students also owe the great and distinctive debt of the commencement of an admirable "Index Of Matters " to the Collection generally. No greater boon, in the way of Catalogues, was ever given within the walls of the Museum, though, as yet, it is necessarily a beginning only. The special labours of Dr. Gray in that sphere, for the Natural-History Collections, comprised the extended advantage of printing and sale. Not less, I hope, will eventually be done for the service of manuscript students. There is the desire to do it, and the means must, sooner or later, follow.
The wonderful growth and development of the Collections of Antiquities in recent years is the special subject of the next chapter. That growth derives no small part of Bookiii, its permanent scientific interest and value from the pressive way in which it illustrates the teachings of Holy
Scripture. Some of the collections amassed in the British und,!esib
Museum have, more than once, by dint of human vanity, been made to subserve a laudation of the wonderful achievements of Man, rather than of the power, wisdom, and goodness of God; but for the ebullitions of human vanity there is extremely little room when a visitor stands beside the sculptured memorials of that vast empire which 'the cedars in the garden of God could not hide/ which was Ezek.x«i, 'lifted up in the pride of its height/ only to become a comp3 marvel for desolation, so that upon its ruin 'the fowls of HabHk-">uthe heaven remain.' When before our own eyes and ears the very stones cry out in the wall, and the beams out of the timber answer them, the man vainest of his science or of his philosophy must needs be led to ask himself: 'What hath God wrought?'
Some very advanced men of science have become, of late, fond of ' Sunday-evening Lectures'/or the instruction of the working classes. That would be a tolerably impressive Sunday-evening Lecture which a competent scholar could give in the Assyrian Gallery of the British Museum.
Here, and now, the recent increase of the Department of Antiquities may be wholly passed over. But to that part of the history of accessions which bears upon the Natural-History Galleries some attention must needs be given, by way of continuing our former brief epitome of the improvements made between the years 1836 and 1850.
Of the state of the Department of Zoology, during the earlier part of the decade now more immediately under review, a good and instructive account was given in Professor Owen's Annual Report of 1861. Its most material
History portions TUn thUS
'The proportion of the stuffed specimens of the class Under Sir Mammalia, exhibited in the glazed cases of the Southern
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Zoological Gallery and Mammalian Saloon, is in good conThe dition. The stuffed specimens, which, from their bulk, or from want of space in the cases, stand on the floor, have suffered in a certain degree from exposure to the corrosive Collec- smoke-dust of the metropolis, the effects of which cannot
1800-1861. be wholly prevented.'
The proportion, continues Mr. Owen, of the Collection of Mammalia consisting of skins preserved in boxes, the Osteological specimens, including the horns and antlers, and the specimens kept in spirit, are all in a good state of preservation. The unstuffed, Osteological and bottled specimens are unexhibited and restricted in use, as at present located, to scientific investigation and comparison; but it is with difficulty that the special visitor for such purposes can now avail himself of these materials, owing to their crowded accumulation in the Basement Rooms in which they are stored.
'The exhibited Collection of Birds is in a good state of preservation, is conveniently arranged for public inspection, and is usefully and instructively named and labelled. The interest manifested by visitors, and the satisfaction generally expressed in regard to this gallery, indicate the amount of public instruction and gratification which would result from a corresponding serial arrangement and exposition of the other classes of the animal kingdom.
'The stuffed and exhibited selections from the classes of Reptilia and Fishes, are in a very good state of preservation; they suffer less from the requisite processes of cleaning than the classes covered by hair, fur, or feathers.
'Of these cold-blooded Vertebrates the proportion preserved in spirits is much greater than in Mammals and Book in, Birds, and, consequently, through the present allotment of History space, the majority of the singular specific forms of Reptiles and Fishes are excluded from public view. Upwards of two TMpTM,sz" thousand specimens in spirits of these classes have been added in the past year to the previously crowded shelves of the basement store-rooms, where access to any individual specimen is a matter of some difficulty, if not hazard. Of the above additions, fourteen hundred and fifty-six have accrued from the donation of the Secretary of State for India in Council. The interest and novelty of the specimens have constrained their acceptance, and the same reason has led to the acquisition of many additions from other sources.
'Amongst them deserve to be specified two specimens of that singular snake, the Herpeton tentaculatum, known for a century past only by a single discoloured example in the Paris Museum; those now in the stores of the British Museum were acquired from Siam, and have served to enrich Zoology with a complete knowledge of the species, through the descriptions and figures by Dr. Guntheb,.
'The following may be also specified, namely, the burrowing Snake from South Africa, Uriechis microlepidotus; a new genus of tree-snake, Herpetoreas; a new genus, Barycephalus, of Saurian, from an altitude in the Himalayas of fifteen thousand feet above the level of the sea; also two new species of freshwater Tortoise, the JEmys Livingstonii, dedicated to its discoverer in Africa, and the Emys Siamensis. Among the additions to the class of Fishes has been acquired a new genus, Hypsiptera, of the Scomberoid family; with several new species, including one, Centrolophus Britannicus, belonging to this country.
'The specimens of the Molluscous classes showing the entire animal, preserved in spirits, and stored in the basement room, are in good condition. The entire class of Tunicata is so preserved; also the families or genera devoid of, or with rudimental, shells, in the other Molluscous classes. A small proportion of such "naked" Mollusca, and the soft parts of a few of the testaceous kinds, are represented by coloured wax models in the exhibited series of shells arranged in the Bird Gallery.
'The whole of the exhibited collection is in an excellent state of preservation. The system or scale on which the genera, species, and local varieties of shells are exhibited, with their names and localities, gives to the ordinary visitor a power of comparing his own specimens, and, in most instances, of determining them, without the necessity of special application to the keeper or assistant in the department. The extent to which students and others avail themselves of this facility of comparison, and the value attached to it, show that the above principle and scale of exhibition of specimens are proper to be adopted in a National Museum for public use.'
In the year following the presentation of this Report, Professor Owen made a more elaborate review, both of the condition and of the needs of the Zoological Department, from which I gather broadly, and by abridgement, the following striking results :—
The number of species of Mammals possessed by the British Museum was a little over two thousand, exemplified by about three thousand individual specimens. In the year 1830, the number of specimens had been about one thousand three hundred and fifty; in 1850, it had risen to nearly two thousand. It follows that, within thirty-two years, the number of specimens in the Museum Collection had been somewhat more than doubled. But still the number of species adequately illustrated was only about two thousand