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1100*111, Panizzi, who, in the preceding year, had been appointed Hijtoit next in office to Cary. The circumstances of that appointment have been thus stated by the eminent Prelate who
or 111 K Mutsnc
I-xdmsu nmde it:—
H. E us.
Ciecum- 'Mr. Panizzi was entirely unknown to me, except by
Mr""0' reputation. I understood that he was a civilian who had
Pasizzi-h come from Italy, and that he was a man of great acquire
rmNTHtsT ments and talents, peculiarly well suited for the British
Museum. That was represented to me by several persons
who were not connected with the Museum, and it was
strongly pressed by several of the Trustees, who were of
Minuinc/ °phiion that Mr. Panizzi's appointment would be very
Brijmce advantageous for the institution. Considering the quali
tkts<i<ci fications of that gentleman, his knowledge of foreign
iktsruith'"' languages, his eminent ability and extensive attainments, I
?*tmim could not doubt the propriety of acceding to their wishes.'
P 433. When that appointment was made, Mr. Panizzi had
Ha. already passed almost ten years in England. The greater
part of them had been spent at Liverpool, as a tutor in the
language and literature of Italy. Born at Brescello, in the
Eholand. Duchy of Modena, Mr. Panizzi had been educated at
lleggio and at Parma; in the last-named University he
had graduated as LL.D. in 1818; and he had practised
with distinction as an advocate. Part of his leisure hours
had been given to the study of bibliography, and to the
acquisition of a library. But he was an ardent aspirant
for the liberty of Italy, and, in 1820, narrowly escaped
becoming one of its many martyrs. After the unsuccessful
rising of that year in Piedmont, he was arrested at
Cremona, but escaped from his prison. After his escape
he was sentenced to death. He sought a refuge first at
Lugano, and afterwards at Geneva. But his ability had
made him a marked man. Austrian spies dogged his
steps, and appealed, by turns, to the suspicions and to the Book Hi, fears of the local authorities. Presently it seemed clear HTMn that England, alone, would afford, to the dreaded 'con- ^,TM*M spirator' for Italy, a secure abode. At Liverpool he ac- i*DTMsTM quired the friendship successively of Ugo Foscolo, of Roscoe, and of Brougham. In 1828, he received and accepted the offer of the Professorship of Italian Literature in the then London University, now 'University College.' In 1830, he began the publication of his admirable edition of the poems of Bojardo and Ariosto, which was completed in 1834.
When Mr. Baber announced, in March, 1837, his in- „. , .
''' Mimttei of
tention to resign his Keepership, Mr. Panizzi made no ^dencc on application for the office, but he wrote to the Principal tumand Trustees an expression of his hope that if, in the event, Ojiutmu 'any appointment was to take place on account of Mr. M«tm" Baber's resignation,' his services would be borne in i27M
° (Report of
mind. i85o, p. in).
One of Mr. Cary's earliest steps in the matter was to apply to his friend and fellow-poet, Mr. Samuel Rogers. Rogers—to use his own words—was one who had known Cary 'in all weathers.' His earnest friendship induced him to write a letter of recommendation to the three Principal Trustees. After he had sent in his recommendation, a genuine conscientiousness—not the less truly characteristic of the man for all that outward semblance of cynicism which frequently veiled it—prompted him to think the matter over again. It occurred to him to doubt whether he was really serving his old friend Cary by helping to put him in a post for which failing vigour was but too obviously, though gradually, unfitting him. His misgiving increased the more he turned the affair over in his mind. He then wrote three letters (to the Archbishop, Chancellor, Bookiti. and Speaker), recalling his recommendation, and stating H.STOKI his reason. With the Speaker, Rogers also conversed on
the subject. Mr. Abercromby asked the poet: 'What do
you know about a Mr. Panizzi, who stands next to Gary?' '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,
FrlneiicZZ resolved on passing him over, and appointing his subor
voi. ■■, p. soo. 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 Book Hi, return, told his brother-officers Babkr and Panizzi what mmn the Archbishop had communicated to him. 'Then/ said ^TM« Mr. Panizzi, 'the thing concerns me.' 'Yes,' rejoined D"ni!*8»» 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. Cary: 'You will not, now, object to my asking for the place myself, as there are these objections to you.' Cary replied, 'Not at all.' 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 hmnitothe honour to have with your Grace.' The writer gave his £TMtwbury,°f letter into Mr. Cary's hand, received his brother-officer's M*tm.18^
immediate approval, and had that approval, at a later hour «w*«««f 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
Cvt 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 me;' or 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* Cart 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.