Oldalképek
PDF

estimable amount of labour and research—upon an object
essentially and largely public. Yet a British Parliament
could not summon up enough of public spirit to tax its own
members, in common with their tax-paying fellow subjects
throughout the realm, to the extent of a hundred thousand
pounds, in order to meet an obvious public want, to redeem
an actual parliamentary pledge, and to secure aconspicnous
national honour for all time to come. That want of public
spirit did not exhaust its results with the ruin of the poor
families, scattered here and there, whose scanty means had
been hazarded and lost by gambling, under a parliamentary
temptation. It impressed itself, so to speak, on the subse-
quent history of the institution for more than forty years.
The Museum had been founded grudgingly.
up parsimonionsly.

Had that fact been otherwise, the story of the knavery of Peter LEHEUP would have little merited recital a century after it, and he, had passed into oblivion. .

The value of so small an incident in the crowded story of our National Museum lies simply in the fact that it forms a just and salient illustration of the narrowncss of spirit with which the then representatives of the people received the liberal gift of public benefactors. It serves to show why it was that, from the year 1753 down to some years after 1800, the History of the British Museum casts very little honour on Britain as a nation, whereas the precedent history of its integral parts, as separate and infant collections, casts, and will long continue to cast, great honour on the memory of the Co'r'rons, the HARLEYS, and the Snonnns, by whom they were painfully gathered and most liberally dispensed.

Happily, as the course of this narrative-éwhatever its

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

shortcomings—cannot fail to show, the literary and scientific treasures which men of that stamp had collected, came, in a subsequent generation (and, in a chief measure, by dint of the exertions of the Trustees and Officers to whom they had been, in course of time, confided) to be more adequately estimated by Ministers and by Parliament in their public capacity, as well as by the more cultivated portion of the people generally. For more than a half-century past the History of the British Museum has been one that any Briton may take delight and pride in telling. And such it promises to be, preeminently, in the time yet to come. In a conspicuous sense, the men by whom it was first founded, and the men by whom, for what is now a long time past, it has been administered and governed, have alike been true workers for Posterity.

BOOK THE SECOND.

THE ORGANIZERS, AND EARLY A U GM EN TORS.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER. I. INTRODUCTORY.—EARLY HISTORY on THE anrrsn
Museum.
II. A GROUP OF Achn-iowersrs AND CLASSICAL Ex-
PLORERS.
III. THE COLLECTORS on THE CBACHERODE, Lansnowmr,
BURNEY, AND EGERTON LIBRARIES, AND OF THE
APPENDANT COLLECTIONS.
IV. THE Krno’s LIBRARY—ITS COLLECTOR AND ITS DONOR.
V. THE FOUNDER on THE BANKSIAN MUSEUM AND
LIBRARY.

“ Tan King made this Ordinance :—r ‘hat there should be a mission of three of the brethren of Solomon’s House, whose errand was only to give as knowledge of the affairs and state of those countries to which they were designed, and especially of the Sciences . . . . and Inventions of all the World; and withal to bring us books, instruments, and patterns in every kind. . . . . .

“\Ve have also precious stones, of all kinds; many of

them of great beauty. . . . . . Also, store of fossils. But we do hate all impostures and lies, insomuch as we have severally forbidden it to all our fellows, under pain of ignominy or fines, that they do not show any natural work or thing adorned or swelling, but only pure as it is, without afi'ectation of showing marvels.

“ We have also those who take care to consider of the former labours and Collections, and out of them to direct new explorations . . . more penetrating into Nature than the former. . . . . Upon every invention of value we erect a statue to the inventor, and give him a liberal and honourable reward.

“ we have hymns and services, which we say daily, of land and thanks to Gon for His marvellous works, and forms of prayer imploring His blessing for the illumination of our labours.”—Bacon, ‘ New Atlanlz's, a Work unfinals/waif

« ElőzőTovább »