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vide a grand central hall for the Department of An- Boox III. tiquities.
When Mr. Hosking called public attention to his design or of 1848—in a pamphlet entitled Some Remarks upon the under SIB recent Addition of a Reading-Room to the British Museum - Mr. Sydney SMIRKE wrote to him thus :-'I recollect seeing your plans at a meeting of the Trustees, ... shortly after you sent them [to Lord ELLESMERE]. When, long subsequently, Mr. Panizzi showed me his sketch for a plan of a new Reading Room, I confess it did not remind me of yours, the purposes of the two plans and the treatment and Sydney
Smirke to construction were so different.'* Whilst to Mr. SMIRKE William himself belongs the merit of practical execution, that of frekares, design belongs no less unquestionably to Panizzi.
* If the question of mere hints and analogies in construction were to be followed out to its issues, the result, I feel assured, would in no degree tend to strengthen the contention of Mr. Hosking's pamphlet. Something like a first germ of the mere ground-plan of the new ReadingRoom may, perhaps, be found in M. Benjamin Delessert's Projet d'une Bibliothèque circulaire, printed, at Paris, as far back as the year 1835, when the question of reconstructing the then 'Royal,' now • Imperial Library,' was under discussion in the French Chambers. 'I propose,' says Delessert, 'to place the officers and the readers in the centre of a vast rotunda, whence branch off eight principal galleries, the walls of which form diverging radii . . . and have book-cases on both sides,' &c. His plan may be thus shown, in small. The differences, it
will be seen, between this sketch and Mr. Panizzi's sketch of 1854, are greater than are the resemblances.
Mr. Panizzi himself preferred, at first, the plan of extending the building on the eastern and northern sides. His suggestions had the approval of the Commissioners of 1850. But the Government was slow to give power to the Trustees to carry out the plan of their officer and the recommendation of the Commissioners of Inquiry, by proposing the needful vote in a Committee of Supply Plan and Report alike lay dormant from the year 1850 to 1854. It was then that, as a last resort, and as a measure of economy, by avoiding all present necessity to buy more ground of the Duke of BEDFORD, Mr. PanizZI recommended the Trustees to build within the quadrangle, and drew a sketch-plan, on which their architect reported favourably. Sixty-one thousand pounds, by way of a first instalınent, was voted on the third of July, 1854. The present noble structure was completed within three years from that day, and its total cost—including the extensive series of book-galleries and rooms of various kinds, subserving almost innumerable purposes—amounted in round numbers to a hundred and fifty thousand pounds. It was thus only a little more than the cost of the King's Library, which accommodates eighty thousand volumes of books and a Collection of Birds. The new Reading Room and its appendages can be made to accommodate, in addition to its three hundred and more of readers, some million, or near it, of volumes, without impediment to their fullest accessibility.
To describe by words a room which, in 1870, has become more or less familiar, I suppose, to hundreds of thousands of Britons, and to a good many thousands of foreigners, would now be superfluous. But it will not be without advantage, perhaps, to show its character and appearance with the simple brevity of woodcuts.
The following illustrative block-plan shows the general
arrangement of the Museum building at large, at the date Book III, of the erection of the new Reading-Room.
I. GENERAL BLOCK-PLAN OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM,
AS IT WAS IN 1857.
The shaded part of the building itself shows the portions allotied to the Library. The unshaded part is assigned, on the ground floor, to the Department of Antiquities, and (speaking generally) on the floor above-in common with
the upper floors of the Library part—to the Departments of Natural History. The ‘Print Room' is shown on the ground-plan between the Elgin Gallery and the northwestern extremity of the Department of Printed Books.
The next illustration shows, in detail, the ground-plan of the new Reading-Room and of the adjacent bookgalleries :
II. GROUND-PLAN OF THE NEW OR .Panizzi' READING-ROOM,
AND OF THE ADJACENT GALLERIES, 1857.