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A GROUP OF CLASSICAL ARCHEOLOGISTS
‘The Archmologist cannot, like the Scholar, carry on his researches in his own Library, independent of outward circumstances. For his work of reference and collation he must travel, excavate, collect, arrange, delineate, transcribe, before he can place his whole subject before his mind . . . . . .
“A Museum of Antiquities is to the Archrcologist What a Botanic Garden is to the Botanist. It presents his subject compendionsly, synoptically, snggcstively, not in the dcsultory and accidental order in which he would otherwise be brought into contact with its details/—
C. ’1‘. NEWTON, 0n the Study of Archeoloyy, p. 26.
Sir le'llz'am HAMILTON and his Pursuits amt Erlwloymeuls in Italy—The Acquisitions of the French Institute of Ljyypt, and the capture of part of them at Alexandria. —Charles TOWNELEY and his Collection of Antiquities—The Researches of the Earl of ELGIN in Greece. —The Collections and Wriliuys of Richard PAYNE KNIGHT.
Booxll, To the comparatively small assemblage of antiquities 2:12,, which originally formed part of the Museum of Covaran and of SLOANE, several additions had been made—besides “mu”- the coins, medals, and bronzes of Sir Robert Corron— prior to the opening of the British Museum to the Public in 1759. Some of those additions were the gift, severally, of
three members of the LETHIEULLIER family. Others were the gift of Thomas HOLLIS, who became a constant benefactor to the Museum almost from the day of Sir Hans SLOANE’s death to that Of his own.
The LETHIEULLIER antiquities had been chiefly gathered in Egypt. The first gift was made by the Will Of Colonel William LETHIEULLIER, dated 23rd July, 1755. And the first catalogue of any kind which was prepared for the British Museum, after its acquisition by Parliament, was a list of these antiquities drawn up by Dr. John WARD, one of the Trustees. And here it may deserve remark that for many years after the foundation not a few Of the Trustees took a large share in the actual work of preparing the Museum for public use, as well as in the ordinary duties of control and administration.
To the gift of Colonel William LETHIEULLIER, his cousin, Smart LETHIEULLIER, and his nephew, Pitt LETHIEULLIER, , made several additions between the years 1756 and 1770. The last-named of these gentlemen, when receiving, as executor of his uncle, the personal than ks of a Committee of the Trustees (February, 1756), for the bequest so made, took the opportunity of augmenting it by the gift of some antiquities which he had himself collected during his residence at Grand Cairo.
But the first large and comprehensive addition in the archaeological department was that made in 17 72 by the purchase, by means of a Parliamentary grant, of the Museum of Antiquities, which had been formed during seven years’ researches in Italy by Sir William HAMILTON, our Ambassador at Naples.
Sir William HAMILTON was among the earliest of British diplomatists who, by a voluntary choice, turned to good account, in the interests of learning and of the public, the
opportunities which diplomatic life so frequently offers for amassing treasures of literature and science, and (in many cases) for saving them from peril of destruction. In that path Frenchmen had showed the way many generations earlier. ‘
As far, indeed, as regards a public and national care for matters of the intellect, France is far better entitled to claim a priority in the proud distinction of ‘ teaching the nations how to live,’ than is any other country in the world. It is to her immortal honour that from a very early period, and i even in times of sore trouble, her sovereigns and her statesmen have known how to turn public resources to the promotion of public culture, as well as of national power. A man may read in French diplomatic letters of instruction of the sixteenth century orders to collect manuscripts and antiquities, as implements of public education, such as he would look for in vain in parallel British documents of any . century at all,——inclusive of the present;—-although it is certain that the omission} has by no means arisen from the engrossment of our diplomatists in weightier concerns.
In Sir William IIAMIL'rON’s case the liberal tastes and the mental energy of the individual supplied the defect of his instructions. He set an example which not a few of our ambassadors have voluntarily followed with like public spirit, and with results not less conspicuous.
William HAMILTON was the fourth son of Lord Archibald HAMILTON, youngest son of James, third Duke of HAMILTON, K.G. His mother, Lady Jane HAMILTON, was of that illustrious family by birth, as well as by marriage, being the daughter of James, sixth Earl Of ABERCORN. He was born in the year 1730.
Towards the close of his career, Sir William would sometimes say to his intimates, when conversation turned upon the battle of life: ‘I had to begin the world with a great name, and one thousand pounds for all my fortune.’ But the world never used him very roughly. \Vhilst still a young man (1755) he married Miss BAnLow, the wealthy heiress of Hugh BARLOW, of Laurenny Hall, in Pembrokeshire. She brought him an estate, in the neighbourhood of Swansea, worth nearly five thousand pounds a year; but it was his happy lot to haVe married a true wife, not a bag of money. Deenos, who saw much of the HAMILTONS in their family circle at Naples in after years, was wont to say, ‘ They are the happiest couple I ever saw.’
Mr. HAMILTON was sent to the Court of Naples in 1764. The post, in that day, was not overburdened with business. And for some years to come the new Ambassador found the Neapolitan society little to his taste. He was intellectual, and, in the truest sense, an English gentleman. The tone of society at that time in Naples was both frivolous and dissolute. He had to form, by slow degrees, a circle in which a man of cultivated tastes might enjoy social life. The public duties of the embassy could employ but a small portion of his time, and the temper of the man made employment to him a necessary of life. He threw his energies into hard study. And he possessed that happiest of mental characteristics, an equal love of the natural sciences, and of the world of art and of books. He could pore, with like enjoyment, on the deep things of Nature, and on the secrets of ‘the antiquary times.’ And in both paths, he knew how to make his personal enjoyments teem with public good.
His first labours were given to the exhaustive research of volcanic phenomena. He amazed the fine gentlemen of
noun. Naples by setting to work as though he had to win his
bread by the sweat of his brow. He laboured harder on
the slopes of Vesuvius than an exceptionally diligent crafts
F-XPLORBRS- man would labour in a factory—had Naples possessed any. Within four years he ascended the famous mountain twenty-two times. More than one of these ascents was made at the risk of his life. He made, and caused to be made, innumerable drawings of all the phenomena that he observed, showing the volcanic eruption in all its stages, and under every kind of meteorological condition. He formed too a complete collection of volcanic products, and of the earths and minerals of the volcanic district. When he had studied Vesuvius under every possible aspect, he went to Etna.
The results of these elaborate investigations were sent, from time to time, to the Royal Society (of which Mr. HAMILTON was made a Fellow, after the reading of the first of his papers in 1766), and they were published in the Plailosop/lical Transaclz‘ons, between the years 1766 and 1780. They were afterwards collected, and improved, in the two beautiful volumes entitled Campi Pfilqymi, and were lavishly illustrated from the drawings of F. A. FABius, who had been trained by HAMILTON to the work.* The collection of volcanic geology and products was given to the British Museum in 1767.
These geological labours had been diversified, at in
TM tervals, by the collection of a rich archaeological museum, Ilumxrou
Mum, o, and by the establishment of a systematic correspondence on “mu” antiquarian subjects with men of learning in various parts
* In a copy of this work now before me, the original drawings are bound up with the engravings, and later drawings are added. They serve to show that Sir William’s scientific interest in the subject lasted as long as his life.