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BOOK THE FIRST.

EARL Y COLLECTORS:_ THE GATHERERS OF THE F0 UNDA TI 0N COLLECTIONS.

CONTENTS OF BOOK I.

CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION.
II. THE FOUNDEE OF THE COTTONIAN LIBRARY.

III. THE COLLECTons AND AUOHENTOEs or THE OLD ROYAL
AND PUBLIC LIBRARY AT ST. JAMEs’.

IV. THE COLLECTOR OF THE ARUNDELIAN MSS.
V. THE COLLECTOR OF THE HARLEIAN MANUSCRIPTS.

VI. THE FOUNDEBS OF THE SLOANE MUSEUM.

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, . . . . . . “ THE reverence and respect your Petitioners bear to the memory of the most learned Sir ROBERT Corron are too great not to mention, in particular: that from the

“liberal use of his Library sprang (chiefly) most of the learned works of his time, for ever highly to be valued. The great men of that age constantly resorted to and consulted it to shew the errors and mistakes in government about that period. And, as this inestimable Library hath since been generously given and dedicated to the , Public use for ever, to be a National Benefit, your Petitioners presume that no expression of gratitude can be too great for so valuable a treasure, or for doing honour to the Memory and Family of Sir ROBERT Corron.”— ‘ Petition to the Honourable House of Commons from the Cottom'an Trustees’ (drawn up antecedently to the Foundation Act of the British Museum) ; 1752.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.

Chronoloyical Epoc/w in the Formation of the British
[Museum .

IN two particulars, more especially, our great National Museum stands distinguished among institutions of its kind. The collections which compose it extend over a wider range than that covered by any other public establishment having a like purpose. And, if we take them as a whole, those collections are also far more conspicuously indebted to the liberality of individual benefactors. In a degree of which there is elsewhere no example, the British Museum has been gradually built up by the munificence of open-handed Collectors, rather than by the public means of the Nation, as administered by Parliament, or by the Governments of the day. ~

The real founders of our British Museum have been neither our British monarchs nor our British legislators, as such. They have been, commonly, individual and private British subjects; men loyal both to the Crown and to the People. Often, they have been men standing in direct lineal descent from the great Barons who dictated the Charter of our liberties, in the meadow near Windsor, and from those who led English knights and English bowmen to victory, on the wooded slopes near Poitiers. Sometimes, they have been men of very lowly birth; such as could point to no

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