« ElőzőTovább »
which is to be derived from the study of coins, and that thence it may be learnt that the Phoenicians had artisans, but not artists, he goes on to survey Greek art in its successive phases. That art, at its best, finds, he thinks, a typical expression, or summary, in the saying ascribed to LYSIPPUS : ‘It is for the sculptor to represent men as they seem to be, not as they really are.’ He dates the culmination of Greek sculpture as ranging between the years 3.0. 450 and 400, and as due to the national pride and energy which were excited by the defeat of XERXES and the events which followed. He thinks that what was gained, by the artists of the next half-century, in ideal grace, and in the fluent refinements of workmanship, was obtained only by a loss of energy, of characteristic expression, and of originality—the £009 of art. In the works of LYSIPPUS and his school (B. C. 350-300), he sees a brief resuscitation of the vigour of the former period, combined with much more than the grace of the latter, to be followed only too swiftly by those desolating wars ‘in which the temples were destroyed, their treasures of art pillaged, and artists, for the first time, saw their works perish before themselves.’ I
In the ‘ Dissertation} as in the ‘Ingm'ry,’ there are many statements and many reasonings to which subsequent discoveries have brought a tacit correction. The passage in the former about the Elgin Marbles had to be corrected by the evidence of the author’s own eyesight. His examination before the Commons’ Committee of 1816 was an amusing scene. The key-note was struck by the witness’s first words. To the question ‘ Have you seen the marbles brought to England by Lord ELGIN P’ he replied, ‘ Yes. I have looked them over.’ But on this point, enough has been said already in a previous page.
Both to the Edinburgh Review and to the Classical Journal Mr. KNIGHT was a frequent and valuable contributor. It was in the latter periodical that his Prolegomena to IIOMER were first given to the world, although he had printed a small edition (limited to fifty copies) for private circulation, as early as in the year 1808.* His latest poetical work, the Romance of A(fred, I have never had the opportunity of reading.
Richard Payne KNIGHT died on the twenty-fourth of April, 1824, in the 75th year of his age. He bequeathed his whole Collections t0 the British Museum, of which he had long been a zealous and faithful Trustee. He made no conditions, other than that his gift should be commemorated by the addition to the Trust of a perpetual KNIGHT ‘ Family Trustee.’ '
For this purpose a Bill was introduced into Parliament by Lord COLCHESTER on the eighth of June. It received the royal assent on the seventeenth.
The addition of Mr. Kmeu'r’s Greek Coins made the British Museum superior, in that department, to the Royal Museum of Paris; the addition of his bronzes raised it above the famous Museum of Naples. By the most competent judges it has been estimated that, if the Collection had been sold by public auction, Mr. KNIGHT’s representatives would probably have obtained for it the sum of sixty thousand pounds.
* Carmina Homerica Hias et Odyssea a rapsikiomm intmpolatio-nibus repurgaia, at in pr-ist'inam formant . . . redacta; cum notis ac prolegomenis, . . . opera et studio Richardi Payne Knight. 1808, 8v0.
A GROUP or BOOK-LOVERS AND PUBLIC,
‘ If we were to take away from the Museum Collection [of Books] the Kiiw‘s Library, and the collection which George the Thirtf gave before that, and then the an'nilit‘t'nt collection of Mr. Crnchcrode, as well as those of Sir William Musgrnve, Sir Joseph Banks. Sir Richard Colt lIoare, and many others,-—nnd also all the books received under the Copyright Act,-—if we were to take away all the books so given, I am satisfied not one half of the books [in 18361, nor one third of the mlw. of the Library, has been irocured with money voted by the Nation. The Nation has done almost nothing for the Library. . . . .
‘ Considering the British Museum to be a National Librar' for research, its utility increases in roportion with the very rare and costly hooks. in pre‘erenec to
modern books. . . . . I think that scholars have a right
‘I want a poor student to have the same means of in-
Ablz'ces of some early Donors of Boole—17w Life and Collections of Clayton illortlaunl CRACHERODEL— le'llz'am PETTY, first illdTQItGSS of Lanszlowne, anal lzis Library of zllannscrzlnls.—T/ze Literary Life and Colleclions of Dr. C/mrles Bonner—Francsz HARG RAVE and leis 11fanuscrzfla—T/ie Life anal Testamentary Fonmlalions of France's Ilenry EGERTON, Ne'nl/i Earl of Bre'rlycwaler.
Tan Reader has now seen that, within some twelve or goo“ - . . . , tap. . fifteen years, a Collection of Antiquities, comparatively small BOOKLOVERSAND
and insignificant, was so enriched as to gain the aspect of a PUBLIC National Museum of which all English-speaking men might B”"'*‘““'
be proud, and mere fragments of which enlightened Foreign Sovereigns were under sore temptation to covet. He has seen, also, that the praise of so striking a change was due, in the main, to the public spirit and the liberal endeavours of a small group of antiquarians and scholars. They were, most of them, men of high birth, and of generous education. They were, in fact, precisely such men as, in the jargon of our present day, it is too much the mode to speak of as the antitheses of ‘the People,’ although in earlier days men of that strain were thought to be part of the very core and kernel of a nation.
But if it be undeniably true that the chief and primary merit of so good a piece of public service was due to the I-Iannxrons, TOWNELEYS, Enems, and KNIGHTS of the last generation, it is also true that the Public, through their representatives, did, at length, join fairly in the work by hearing their part of the cost, though they could share neither the enterprise, the self-denial, nor the wearing toils, which the work had exacted.
Now that the story turns to another department of the National Museum, we find that the same primary and salient characteristic—private liberality of individuals, as distinguished from public support by the Kingdom—still holds good. But we have to wait a very long time indeed, before we perceive public effort at length falling into rank with private, in the shape of parliamentary grants for the purchase of books, calculated even upon a rough approximation towards equality.
As COTTON, SLOANE, HARLEY, and Arthur Enwaans, were the first founders of the Library, so BIRCH, Moseaavn, Trawnrr'r, CRACHERODE, BANKS, and Hoaaa, were its chief augmentors, until almost ninety years had elapsed since the Act of Organization. Of the Collections of those
ten benefactors, eight came by absolute gift. For the other two, much less than one half of their value was returned to the representatives of the founders. And that, it has been shown, was provided, not by a parliamentary grant, but out of the profits of a lottery.
The first important addition to the Library, subsequent to those gifts which have been mentioned in a preceding chapter as nearly contemporaneous with the creation of the Museum, was made by the Will of Dr. Thomas BIRCH, one of the original Trustees. It comprised a valuable series of manuscripts, rich in collections on the history, and especially the biographical history, of the realm, and a considerable number of printed books of a like character.
Dr. Bracn was born in 1705, and died on the ninth of January, 1766. He was one of the many friends of Sir Hans SLOANE, in the later years of Sir Hans’ life. When the Museum was in course of organization, BIRCH acted not only as a zealous Trustee, but he occasionally supplied the place of Dr. MORTON as Secretary. His literary productions have real and enduring value, though their value would probably have been greater had their number been less. His activity is sufficiently evidenced by the works which be printed, but can only be measured when the large manuscript collections which he bequeathed are taken into the account. Very few scholars will now be inclined to echo Horace WALPOLE’s inquiry—made when he saw the Catalogue of the Birch MSS.-——‘ Who cares for the correspondence of Dr. BIRCH ?’
Soon after the receipt of the BIRCH Collection, a choice assemblage of English plays was bequeathed to the Museum by David GARRICK. Its formation had been one of the favourite relaxations of the great actor. And the study of