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Book Hi. One of the communications which my late friend pub
Histoet lished in that' Mechanics' Magazine contained two suggesuriEUK ^ions—niade contingently, and by way of alternative plans i-NOki siE —for the enlargement of the Museum buildings. Nearly eleven years afterwards (August, 1847), I unconsciously repeated those very suggestions, amongst many others, in a pamphlet, entitled Public Libraries in London and Paris. I was in complete ignorance that my suggestions of 1847 were otherwise than entirely original. I thought them wholly my own. Of the print which accompanied my pamphlet T give the reader an exact fac-simile, errors included, on the opposite plate. The print embodied very nearly the same thoughts, on the enlargement of the library, which had been expressed, so long before, in the pages of the 'Mechanics' Magazine' The first presented copy of that pamphlet and print was given to my friend Watts. I was then absent, far from London, and I had presently the pleasure of receiving from him a long letter, containing some criticisms and remarks on my publication. But such was his modest reticence about his own prior performance, that the letter contained no word or hint concerning the anticipation of my alternative suggestions for the enlargement of the Library in his prior publication. And, in the long interval between 1837 and 1847, I suppose we had conversed about the improvement of the Museum, and about its buildings, actual and prospective, some thirty or forty times, but (as I have said) those valuable and thoughtful articles of his, printed in 1836-7—and making complimentary mention of my own labours, and of my evidence given before Mr. Hawks' Committee—never came within my knowledge. No part of their contents was even mentioned to me. I saw them, for the first time, in January, 1870. Very few men—within my range of acquaintance
—had so much dislike to talk of their performances, as was Book Hi, manifested by Thomas Watts. To this day, very much of H!sto»y what he did for the Public is scarcely known even by those „"""« who (at one time or other) enjoyed the pleasure, and the OND''E s,r honour, of his friendship. He was one of the men who 'did good by stealth,' and would have almost blushed to find it fame.
When Thomas Watts entered the Museum, the imme- WATM'
diate task entrusted to him, onerous as it was, did not (for TM» Thk any long time) engross his attention. In common with Tionofthk Mr. Panizzi, his desire to increase the Library, and to Bllu" make London surpass Paris—'Paris must be surpassed' are the words which close the best of those articles, printed in 1837, to which I have just now referred—amounted to a positive passion. He did not talk very much about it; but I fancy it occupied, not only his waking thoughts, but his very dreams.
Mr. Panizzi had not been at the head of his Department many weeks before he began a Special Report to the Trustees, recommending a systematic increase of the Collection of Printed Books.
In the autumn of 1837 he could hardly foresee that one of the attacks to be made, in the after-years, upon those who had appointed him, or who had promoted his appointment, for the crime of preferring 'a foreigner' to a high post in our National Museum, would be based upon the foreigner's neglect of English Literature. 'An Italian Librarian/ said those profound logicians, 'must, naturally and necessarily, swamp the Library with Italian books. He can't help doing it.' But, strange as it may have seemed to objectors of that calibre, this particular Italian happened to be, not only a scholar—a ripe and good one—
Istics or A National
Booiiii, but a man of wide sympathies, and of catholic tastes in H.sTOM literature. He was able himself to enjoy Shakespeare, not less thoroughly than he was able, by his critical acumen, to increase other men's enjoyment of Ariosto and of Dante. s„A. In October, 1837, he wrote thus:—' With respect to the
Room's Purcnase of books, Mr. Panizzi begs to lay before the ocTOBim, Trustees the general principles by which he will be guided,
1837, ON THE I • !• 1 • 1 •
noriB if not otherwise directed, in endeavouring to answer the expectations and wishes of the Trustees and of the Public in this respect. First, the attention of the Keeper of this
G.kat emphatically British Library ought to be directed, most particularly, to British works, and to works relating to the British Empire; its religious, political, and literary, as wTell as scientific history; its laws, institutions, description, commerce, arts, &c. The rarer and more expensive a work of this description is, the more indefatigable* efforts ought to be made to secure it for the Library. Secondly, the old and rare, as well as the critical, editions of ancient Classics, ought never to be sought for in vain in this Collection. Nor ought good comments, as also the best translations into modern languages, to be wanting. Thirdly, with respect to foreign literature, arts, and sciences, the Library ought to possess the best editions of standard works for critical purposes or for use. The Public have, moreover, a right to find, in their National Library, heavy as well as expensive foreign works, such as Literary Journals; Transactions of Societies; large Collections, historical or otherwise; complete series of Newspapers; Collections of Laws, and their best interpreters.' We have, in this brief passage, the germ
* In Minutes of Evidence (page 596) printed erroneously 'reasonable.' To the brief extract, for which alone I can here afford space, were appended, in the original Report, many pertinent amplifications and illustrations. Some of these are given in the MiniUes of Evidence above referred to.