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the Secretaries of State, (10) the Lord Steward, (11) the Lord Chamberlain, (12) the Bishop of London, (13) the Chancellor of the Exchequer, (14) the Lord Chief Justice of England, (15) the Master of the Rolls, (16) the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, (17) the AttorneyGeneral, (18) the Solicitor-General, (19) the President of the Royal Society, (20) the President of the College of Physicians.
To the first three of these Official Trustees Parliament entrusted the appointment, from time to time, of all the Officers of the Museum, except the Principal Librarian, who is to be appointed by the Crown, on the nomination of the 'Principal Trustees,’ as the first three Trustees—— the Archbishop, Chancellor, and Speaker—have always been called.
The following fifteen persons were the first eleclell Trustees, under the Act of 17 53 :—The Duke of Argyle, the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Willoughby of Parham, Lord Charles Cavendish, the Honourable Philip Yorke, Sir George Lyttelton, Sir John Evelyn, James \Vest, Nicholas Hardinge, \Villiam Sloane, William Sotheby, Charles Grey, the Reverend Dr. Thomas Birch, James \Vard, and William Watson. The first meeting of the Trustees under the Act was held at the Cockpit, Whitehall, on the 17th of December, 1753.
The first ‘Principal Librarian' * was Dr. Gowin KNIGHT, a member of the College of Physicians, and eminent, in his
1' The term ‘ Librarian,’ as used at the British Museum, has never implied any special connection with the Books, printed or manuscript. All the Keepers of Departments were, originally, called ‘ Under Librarian.’ The General Superintendent or Warden has always been called ‘ Principal Librarian.’
day, as a cultivator of experimental science. Some magnetic apparatus of his construction and gift was placed in the Museum soon after its opening, and attracted, in its day, much attention. He received the appointment after a keen competition with the more widely-known physician and botanist, Sir John HILL. The first three ‘Keepers of Departments’ were Dr. Matthew MATY, Dr. Charles Moarou, and Mr. James EMPsON. Dr. KNIGHT retained his post until 1772.
MAN and Moa'rON succeeded in turn to the office of Principal Librarian, and their respective services will have a claim to notice hereafter. EMPSON had been the valued servant and friend of Sir Hans SLOANE. He is the only officer whose name appears in SLQANn’s Will. He had served him as Keeper of the Museum at Chelsea for many years.
There is, in one of the letters of Horace WALPOLE to Sir Horace MANN, an amusing account of an initiatory meeting of the original Trustees, held prior to their formal constitution by Parliament. It is marked by the writer’s usual superciliousness towards all hobbies, except the dilettante hobby which he himself was wont to ride so hard. ‘ I employ my time chiefly, at present,’ he wrote to MANN, in February, 17 53, ‘in the guardianship of embryos and cockle shells. Sir Hans SLOANE valued his Museum at eighty thousand pounds, and so would anybody who loves hippopotamuses, sharks with one ear, and spiders as big as geese. . . . \Ve are a charming wise set—all Philosophers, Botanists, Antiquarians, and Mathematicians—and adjourned our first meeting because Lord MACCI.ESFIELD, our Chairman, was engaged in a party for finding out the Longitude.’
‘ One of our number,’ continues WALPOLE, ‘is a Moravian, who signs himself “ Henry XXVIII, Count de Rsuss.” The Moravians have settled a colony at Chelsea, in Sir Hans’ neighbourhood, and I believe he intended to beg Count Henry the Twenty-Eighth’s skeleton for his Museum.’ This distinguished foreigner does not appear in the parliamentary list.
The Chairman of the preliminary meeting so airily described by WALPOLE, continued, under the definitive eonstitution of the Trust, to take a leading part in its administration. It appears to have been by Lord MxeeLnsrlnLn that the original ‘ Statutes and Bye-laws ’ of the Museum, or many of them, were drafted.’
In the form in which they were first issued, in 1759, these statutes directed that the Museum should ‘ be kept open every day in the week, except Saturday and Sunday.’ For the greater part of the year the public hours were from nine o’clock in the morning until three o’clock in the afternoon. On certain days, in the summer months, the open hours were from four o’clock in the afternoon until eight-— so as to meet the requirements of persons actively engaged in business during the early part of the day. But the publicity was hampered by a system of admission-tickets which had to be applied for on a day precedent to that of every intended visit. The application had first to be made, then registered ; a second application had to follow, in order to receive the ticket; and the ticket could rarely be used at the time of receiving it. So that, in practice, each visit to the Museum had commonly to be preceded by two visits to the ‘ Porter’s Lodge.’
The visitors were admitted in parties, at the prescribed hours, and were conducted through the Museum by its officers according to a routine which, practically and usually,
allowed to each group of visitors only one hour for the inspection of the whole. Special arrangements, however, were made for those who resorted to the Museum for purposes of study. To such, say the statutes, ‘a particular room is allotted, in which they may read or write without interruption during the time the Museum is kept open.’
The aggregate number of persons admitted as visitors— exclusive of students—was, for some years, restricted to sixty persons, as a maximum, in any one day.
In order to give the reader a definite and clear idea of what was seen, in 1759, by the earliest visitors to the British Museum, in its rudimentary state, some sort of ground plan is essential, but the merest outline will suffice for the purpose.
There were at Montagu House two floors or stories of state apartments. The upper floor was that which was first shown, after the formation of the Museum.
The visitor, having ascended the superb staircase painted by LA Fossn, passed through a vestibule and grand saloon (A B) furnished with various antiquities, into the ‘Cottonian Library’ (C), and thence into the ‘ Harleian Library,’ which occupied three rooms (D, E, and F). He then entered the ‘ Medal Room ’—containing the coins and medals of the SLOANE and Cor'ron collections (G); the ‘ SLOANE Manuscript Room ’ (H) ; and the room containing the chief part of the antiquities (1)—