Oldalképek
PDF

Public BenefacTors.

Another meeting was called shortly afterwards, with a Bookii,

. ~ Chap. III.

like object, but of another sort. Despite his reverence tor BookBusbeian traditions, Dr. Bubney had known how to win the love of his pupils. A large body of them met, under the chairmanship of the excellent John Kaye, then Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and afterwards Bishop jmma of Lincoln, and they subscribed for the placing of a monu- anfobuLry, ment to their old master in Westminster Abbey. voi.m,P.225.

On the twenty-third of February, 1818, the Trustees of TflK*""

«' J'' Cation or

the British Museum presented to the House of Commons Tbeteusa petition, praying that Dr. Burney's Library should be Bbitish acquired for the Public. The prayer of the petition was pAL,"lA*TMT supported by Mr. Bankes and by Mr. Vansittart, and IO*TM* a Select Committee was appointed to inquire and report Oi-bebkkvs upon the application.

In order to an accurate estimate of the value of the Library, a comparison was instituted, in certain particulars, between its contents and those of the Collection already in the national Museum. In comparing the works of a series of twenty-four Greek authors, it was found that of those authors, taken collectively, the Museum possessed only two hundred and thirty-nine several editions, whereas Dr. Charles Burney had collected no fewer than seven hundred ^iTM'1"" and twenty-five editions.* His Collection of the Greek J^TM", ET dramatists was not only, as I have said, extensive, but it Tm»h*tm»was arrayed after a peculiar and interesting manner. By making a considerable sacrifice of duplicate copies, he had brought his series of editions into an order which exhi

[ocr errors]

* This small fact in classical bibliography is remarkable enough to call for some particular exemplifications, beyond those given in the text, on a former page. Of the three greatest Greek dramatists, Burney had 315 editions against 75 in the Library of the British Museum. Of Homer he had 87 against 45; of Aristophanes, 74 against 23; of Demosthenes, 50 against 18; and of the Anthologia, 30 against 10.

Book II,
Chap. III.
Hook-

Lo\ KRS AND

PlJM.TC

Benefac

TOUS.

llrport of Select Committee, lbl8; pusaini.

bited, at one view, all the diversities of text, recension, and commentary. His Greek grammarians were arrayed in like manner. And his collection of lexicographers generally, and of philologists, was both large and well selected.

The total number of printed books was nearly thirteen thousand five hundred volumes, that of manuscripts was five hundred and twenty; and the total sum given for the whole was thirteen thousand five hundred pounds.

It was estimated that the Collection had cost Dr. Bcrnky a much larger sum, and that, possibly, if sold by public auction, it might have produced to his representatives more than twenty thousand pounds.

[ocr errors]

In the same year with the acquisition of the Burney Library, the national Collections were augmented by the purchase of the printed books of a distinguished Italian scholar long resident in France, and eminent for his conColifxtios tributions to French literature. Pier Luigi Ginguen£— author of the Hisloire Litferaire aV Italic and a conspicuous contributor to the early volumes of the Biographie Universelle —had brought together a good Collection of Italian, French, and Classical literature. It comprised, amongst the rest, the materials which had been gathered for the book by which the Collector is now chiefly remembered, and extended, in the whole, to more than four thousand three hundred separate works, of which number nearly one thousand seven hundred related to Italian literature, or to its history. This valuable Collection was obtained by the Trustees — owing to the then depressed state of the Continental book-market—for one thousand pounds. And, in point of literary value, it may be described as the first— in point of price, as the cheapest—of a scries of purchases which now began to be made on the Continent.

A more numerous printed Library had been purchased Book Ii,

together with a cabinet of coins and a valuable herbarium, Book

at Munich, three years earlier, at the sale of the Collections f°TM8A>°

of Baron Von Moll. His Library exceeded fourteen bkse,ac

</ TORS.

thousand volumes, nearly eight thousand of which related

to the physical sciences and to cognate subjects. The cost o°LB"*TMON

of this purchase, with the attendant expenses, was four >onmoll.

thousand seven hundred and seventy pounds. The whole

sum was defrayed out of the fund bequeathed by Major

Arthur Edwards.*

These successive purchases, together with the Hargrave Collection—acquired in 1813—increased the theretofore much neglected Library by an aggregate addition of nearly thirty-five thousand volumes. And for four successive years (1812-15) Parliament made a special annual grant of one thousand poundsf for the purchase of printed books relating to British History.

The peculiar importance of the Hargrave Collection vuvcn consisted in its manuscripts and its annotated printed A.*d books. The former were about five hundred in number, and were works of great juridical weight and authority, not merely the curiosities of black-letter law. Their Collector was the most eminent parliamentary lawyer of his day, but his devotion to the science of law had, to some degree, impeded his enjoyment of its sweets. During some of the best years of his life he had been more intent on increasing his legal lore than on swelling his legal

* It was also from the Edwards fund that the whole costs of the Oriental MSS. of Halhed, and of the Minerals of Hatchett, together with those of several other early and important acquisitions, were defrayed. That fund, in truth, was the mainstay of the Museum during the years of parliamentary parsimony.

t Of these four thousand pounds, two thousand three hundred and forty-five pounds seem to have been expended in Printed Books; the remainder, probably, in Manuscripts.

COLLEC-
TIOS8 IN

Law Litera-
Ture.

BENEFAC-
TORS.

Book ii, profits. And thus the same legislative act which enriched

Book-' the Museum Library, in both of its departments, helped to

J"TM"° smooth the declining years of a man who had won an

uncommon distinction in his special pursuit. Francis

Iiargrave died on the sixteenth of August, 1821, at the

age of eighty.

Leaving now this not very long list of acquisitions made Becjuht by the National Library, in the way of purchase, either at the public cost or from endowments, we have again to turn to a new and conspicuous instance of private liberality. Like Cracherode, and like Burnet, Francis Henry Eoerton belonged to a profession which at nearly all periods of our history—though in a very different degree in different ages—has done eminent honour and rendered large services to the nation, and that in an unusual variety of paths.

Each of these three clergymen is now chiefly remembered as a ' Collector.' Each of them would seem to have been placed quite out of his true element and sphere of labour, when assuming the responsibilities of a priest in the Church of England. Cracherode was scarcely more fitted for the work, at all events, of a preacher—save by the tacit lessons of a most meek and charitable life—than he was fitted to head a cavalry charge on the field of battle. Burney was manifestly cut out by nature for the work of a schoolmaster; although, as we have seen, he was able— late, comparatively, in life—so to discharge (for a very few years) the duties of a parish priest as to win the love of his flock. Egerton was unsuited to clerical work of almost any and every kind. Yet he, too, with all his eccentricities and his indefensible absenteeism, became a public benefactor. The last act of his life was to make a provision which has been fruitful in good, having a hearing—very

TORS.

real though indirect—upon the special duties of the priestly Book It, function, for which he was himself so little adapted. The Boosbequests of Francis Egerton had, among their many p"TM*** usefid results, the enabling of Thomas Chalmers to add r -' one more to his fruitful labours for the Christian Church and for the world.

It may not, I trust, be out of place to notice in this connection, and as one among innumerable debts which our country owes specifically to its Church Establishment, the impressive and varied way in which the English Church has, at every period, inculcated the lesson (by no means, nowadays, a favourite lesson of 'the age') that men owe duties to posterity, as well as duties to their contemporaries. The fact bears directly on the subject of this book. Into every path of life many men must needs enter, from time to time, without possessing any peculiar and real fitness for it. In a path which (in the course of successive ages) has been trodden by some millions of men, there must needs have been a crowd of incomers who had been better on the outside. They were like the square men who get to be thrust violently into round holes. But, even of these misplaced men, not a few have learnt, under the teaching of the Church, that if they could not with efficiency do pulpit work or parish work, there was other work which they could do, and do perpetually. Men, for example, who loved literature could, for all time to come, secure for the poorest student ample access to the best books, and to the inexhaustible treasures they contain. Cracherode did this. Burney helped to do it. Egerton not only did the like, in his degree, in several parts of England, but he enabled other and abler men to write new books of a sort which are conspicuously adapted to add to the equipment of divines for their special duty and work in the world.

« ElőzőTovább »