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think how much I lost for want of a little information. _ In about thirty minutes we finished our silent journey through the princely mansion, which would well have taken thirty days . . . . . . I had laid more stress on the British Museum, than on anything else which I should see in London. It was the only sight which disgusted me. . . . . Government purchased this rare collection at a vast expense, and exhibits it as a national honour. . . . How far it answers the end proposed this account will testify.’
Better days were at hand. But it was not until 1805 that the rules of admission were even so far effectively revised as to abolish the traffic in tickets. Nor was any ‘ Synopsis’ of the contents of the Museum provided until 1808. In that year admission tickets were abolished wholly.
Straitened means of maintenance have, at all times, had far more to do with any inadequate provision for public usefulness of which (in days long past) there may have been well-grounded cause of complaint, than had neglect or oversight on the part of any officer.
The officers, too, were, for a very long period after the establishment of the Museum, engaged, and remunerated, only for an attendance, in rotation, for two hours daily, on alternate days. A largely increased provision by Parliament was the essential condition of any large increase in the accessibility of the institution.
As early as in 1776 the necessary expenditure in salaries and wages alone (at a very low scale of payment), exceeded the annual income (£900) accruing from the original endowment fund. After Parliament had made an additional provision—first introduced in a clause of what was then
an. Cause. or 1111. Man-111w Man.
called a ‘hotch-potch Act’-averaging £1000 yearly, the total annual income was still but £2448, including the yearly three hundred pounds accruing from the ‘ Enwaans Fund,’ and the £248, paid, under the grant of GEORGE THE SECOND, as the net yearly salary of the ‘King’s Librarian.’ For a considerable period, the sums expended in purchases—for all the departments collectively —had not amounted, in any one year, to one hundred pounds.
On the decease of the first Principal Librarian, Dr. Gowin KNIGHT, in 1772, Dr. Matthew MATY was appointed to that office. He was born at, or in the neighbourhood of Utrecht, in 1718, and was educated in the University of Leyden, where he took his degrees in 1740, the subject of his inaugural dissertation, for that of M.A. and Doctor of Philosophy, being ‘custom,’ and its wide results and influence social and political. His essay was published (under the title Diss'ertalz'o plailosop/u'ca inauyuralis a’e Usu,) in 1740. For the degree of Doctor in Medicine, he treated of the effects of habit and custom upon the human frame (De Colzsuetucli/zz's qflicacz'a in corpus llumanum). This medical dissertation was also published at Leyden, in the usual form, in the same year. Both essays showed much ability, along with many faults and crudities. Some of these became matters of conversation and correspondence between the author and his friends. The subject was less hacknied than that of the majority of academical essays, and MATY was induced to reconsider it. He republished the result of his thoughts, in a greatly improved form, in the following year at Utrecht, and, to gain a wider audience, wrote in French. The Essaz' sur l’Usaye attracted much attention, and served to pave the way for the establishment by its
author, eight years afterwards, of the periodical entitled, Journal Brilamzz'que, as editor of which he is now best remembered. He came to England in 1741, practised as a physician, attained considerable reputation, and distinguished himself more especially by following in the path of Sir Hans SLOANE, and others, as an earnest supporter of the practice of inoculation. In this field he was able to render good service, both by his professional influence and by his pen. In the sharp controversies which soon, and for a time, impeded the new practice, he took a large share, and his publications on the subject are distinguished from many others by their union of moderation of tone with vigour of advocacy.
MA'rY’s predilections, however, pointed to a literary rather than to a medical career. He had early taken that ply, and it was not easily efi'aced, Within six years (1750— 1756) he published eighteen volumes of the Journal Britaunique—edited in London but printed at the Hague— in the toils of which he was, according to GIBBON, almost unaided. GIBBON, too, bears testimony to the amiability of the man, as well as to the industry of the writer. His own first and youthful achievement in literature had MATY’S encouragement and active aid. \Vhen the Essai sur l’Etude de la Littérature was, after much filing and polishing, given to the Public, a preliminary letter from Mary’s pen accompanied it, and by him the essay was carried through the press.
When he succeeded Dr. Gowin KNIGHT, as Principal Librarian in 17 72, his health was already failing. He occupied the post during less than four years. To the last, his pen was busily employed. He was a contributor to several foreign journals, as well as to the P/u'losop/zical Transaclz'om, some volumes of which he edited, or assisted
- edition of the Earl’s [Miscellaneous "forks.
to edit, in his capacity as one of the Secretaries of the
-Royal Society, to which office he had been appointed in
1765. Among his minor literary publications are a life of BOERHAAVE, in French, and one of Dr. Richard MEAD, in English. At the time of his death he was working on the Life of Lord Chesterfield, afterwards prefixed to the collective Dr. MATY died in 17 76, and was succeeded in his Librarianship by his colleague, Dr. Charles Moa'roN, who had had, from the beginning, the charge of the department of Manuscripts, and had also acted as Secretary to the Trustees;
Dr. MORTON was a native of Westmoreland, and was born in 1716. Until the year 1750 he had practised as a physician at Kendal. In 1751 he became a Licentiate of the College of Physicians, and in the following year a Fellow of the Royal Society. His service in the British Museum lasted from 1756 to 17 99. There are several testimonies to the courtesy with which he treated such visitors and students as came under his personal notice, but his long term of superior office was certainly not marked by any striking improvement in the public economy of the Museum. And how much room for improvement existed there the reader has seen. Dr. MORTON, like his predecessor, was one of the Secretaries of the Royal Society. He filled that ofiice from the year 1760 to 1774. He contributed several papers to the Pfiilosopkical Transactions, as well on antiquarian subjects as on topics of physical science, and he was the first editor of Bulstrode WHiTnLocxn’s remarkable narrative of his embassy to Sweden during the Protectorate. Moaron’s writings are not remarkable either for vigour or for originality, but, on more topics than one, they had the useful result of setting abler men awork. He was three times married: (1) to Mary BERKELEY, the niece of Swrr'r‘s frequent. corre- noun. Chap.l.