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Boon u, 111- K contained the minerals and fossils of Sir H ans SLOANE’S Chap. 1.
Em, collection; L, the shells; 111, the plants and insects.
grams; Thence he passed into N, which was devoted to the bulk of
Mm“- the SLOANE Zoological Collection, and into 0, containing artificial and miscellaneous curiosities.
Descending to the floor beneath, by the secondary staircase between N and O, the visitor then entered the small room P, which contained the magnetic apparatus given by Dr. Gowin KNIGHT, and the rooms, Q and R, devoted to the reception of the greater part of the Royal Library, restored by HENRY, Prince of Wales, and augmented— but with extreme parsimony—by several of the Stuart monarchs, whose additions to the shelves were, indeed, much oftener made of books given, than of books bought. He then passed into SLOANE’s Printed Library, which occupied the whole of the spacious and handsome suite of rooms 8', T, V, W, X, and Y, and (passing through the 'l‘rustees’ Room 2,) entered the room A A, containing the EDWARDS Library; ending his tour of inspection in the room B B, in which was arranged the remainder of the old Royal Library, the main portion whereof had been seen already in Q and R.
When the combined Museum and Libraries, thus arranged, were first opened to the inspection of the curious Public
in 1759, the collections enumerated in the Foundation Act of 1753 had, it is seen, already received some notable increase by gifts. The first donor was the House of Lords, by whose order the historical collections of Thomas RYMER, royal historiographer, and editor of the Fwdcra, were given to the Trustees, immediately after their incorporation. Then followed, in 1757, the gift of the Royal Library and that of the Lethieullier Antiquities from Egypt.~ [See Chapter II.]
The next donor, in order of time, was a Jewish merchant,-and stock-broker, of humble origin, but of princely disposition. Solomon da COSTA was one of the many men who have done honour to commerce not merely by its successful prosecution, but by the conspicuous union of mercantile astuteness with noble tastes and true beneficence. His talents for business enabled him to make a hundred thousand pounds—which in his day was more, perhaps, than the equivalent of four hundred thousand in ours. He had made it, says a keen observer, who knew the man well, ‘ without scandal or meanness.’ When wealth made him independent, he spent his new leisure, not in luxury but in hard labour for the poor.
DA Cosra had come, from Amsterdam, into England, in the year 1704. His struggling Hebrew compatriots were among the earliest sharers in his bounty. But his heart was too large to suffer that bounty to be limited by considerations either of race or of local neighbourhood. To him, as to the Samaritan of old, distress made kinship. He was wont to journey, from time to time, through thirty or forty parishes of Surrey and of Kent, with the punctual diligence of a commercial traveller, simply to succour the distressed by that best of all succour, the provision of means through which, in time, self-help would be developed and ensured. Provident loans, clothing-funds, the educa
tion and apprenticeship of necessitous children, were the forms in which DA Cos'ra’s benevolence delighted to invest not only his money, but his personal exertion and his cordial sympathy. He devoted more than a thousand pounds a year to the benefit of Christian Englishmen, besides all that he gave to the poor of his own faith and race. And to both he gave, without noise or ostentation.
He had, too, the breadth of view which enabled him to put, on their true foot of equality, the claims of the necessitous mind, as well as those of the necessitous body, Unlike many other men of genuine beneficence, popular estimates of giving did not mislead him into one-sidedness of aim.
Within a few years of DA Cos'rA’s arrival in England, probably about the year 1720, and when, with youthful ardour, he was seeking to acquire knowledge as well as to make money, he met, at a bookseller’s, with a remarkable collection of Hebrew books, of choice editions and in rich and uniform bindings. The collection had that sumptuousness of aspect which invited inquiry into its origin. All that he could learn on that score was the probability that some statesman or other of the Commonwealth period, had collected them for a public but unfulfilled purpose, and that they had fallen—with so much other spoil—into the hands of Cannes THE SECOND. By that King’s order they had received, if not their rich binding, at least his crown and cypher as marks of the royal appropriation, and then (in a truly Carolinian fashion) were left in the hands of the King’s stationcr for lack of payment of the charge of what—whether binding or mere decoration—had been done to the books by the royal command. DA Cos'ra prized them as among his chief treasures, but directly he heard of the foundation of a great repository of learning,
Booxll, the emotions of the Jewish broker were such as might 2112," have been felt by ‘broad-browed VERULAM,’ could he 33:55,, have lived to see that day; save only that Bacon would Mm"- first have scanned the evidence about the origin of the institution, and would have discriminated the praise.
DA Cos'ra wrote a letter to the Trustees. The generous heart is facile in ascribing generosity. ‘A most stately monument,’ said DA Cos'ra, ‘ hath been lately erected and endowed, by the wisdom and munificence of the British Legislature,’ and he accompanied his eulogy with a prayer that the Almighty would ‘ render unto them a recompense, according to the work of their hands.’ He brought his mite of contribution, he added, not only as proof of sym
1’" Com m pathy with the work in progress, I‘ but as a thanksgiving
\he Trustees _ _ . arms am. offering, in part, for the generous protection and number
$1322.“, less blessings which I have enjoyed under the British “19' ["591 Government.’
The gift embraced several Biblical Manuscripts of value, and a still choicer series of early printed books, one hundred and eighty in number. The giver has a merited place
.in the roll of our public benefactors; and his devout prayer
for the new Museum, ‘May it increase and multiply . . . to the benefit of the people of these nations and of the whole earth,’ has had a more conspicuous fulfilment than could, in 17 59, have been imagined by the most sanguine of bystanders.
61" "m Three years afterwards, and soon after his accession to
COLLECTION the throne, King GEORGE THE THIRD gave to the Nation
Booxsor that most curious assemblage of nearly the whole English literature of two and twenty eventful years of Civil War, -—open or furtive,—-which is known to the Public as the
‘ 'l‘homason Collection,’ though its technical name within