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Orientalist who passed from amongst us at an early age—— who also bequeathed a Collection of Oriental and Chinese printed books. Mr. HULL-’5 legacy was the small beginning of that Chinese Library which has now become so large.
It was also in the year 1825 that Sir Gore OUSELEY presented a Collection of Marbles obtained from Persepolis. These will be mentioned hereafter in connection with the antiquarian explorations of Claudius RICH and his successors. The donor of the Persepolitan Marbles died on the eighteenth of November, 1844.
In addition to these many liberal benefactions made during the earlier years of the present century, a smaller gift (virtually a gift, though in name a ‘ deposit’) of the same period claims brief notice, on account both of its artistic value and of its curious history. I refer to that exquisite monument of ancient art known, for many years, as the ‘ Barberini Vase,’ but now more commonly as the ‘ Portland Vase,’ from the name of its last individual possessor.
This vase is one of the innumerable acquisitions which the country owes to the intelligent research and cultivated taste of Sir William I'IAMlL'l‘ON. It had been found more than a century before his time (probably in the year 1640), beneath the Monte del Grano, about three miles from Rome, on the road to Tusculum. The place of the discovery was a sepulchral chamber, within which was found a sarcophagus containing the vase, and bearing an inscription to the memory of the Emperor ALEXANDER Snvnnvs (AD. 222-235) and to his mother. About this sarcophagus and its inscription there have been dissertations and rejoinders, essays and commentaries, illustrative and obscurative, in
sufficient number to immortalise half a dozen Jonathan OLDBUCKS and ‘Antigonus’ MAC~CRIBBS. And the controversy is still undetermined.
After having been long a conspicuous ornament of the Barberini Palace, the ‘ Barberini Vase’ was bought by HAMILTON. When, in December, 1784, he paid one of his visits to England, the vase came with him. Its fame had previously excited the desires of many virtuosi. By the Duchess of PORTLAND it was so strongly coveted, that she employed a niece of Sir William to conduct a negotiation with much more solemnity and mystery than the ambassador would have thought needful in conducting a critical Treaty of Peace. The Duchess’s precautions foiled the curiosity of not a few of her fellow-collectors in virtfi. ‘1 have heard,’ wrote Horace WALPOLE, ‘that Sir W. HAMILTON’s renowned vase, which had disappeared with so much mystery, is again recovered; not in the tomb, but the treasury, of the Duchess of PORTLAND, in which, I fancy, it had made ample room for itself. Sir Willith told me it would never go out of England. I do not see how he could warrant Mat. The Duchess and Lord Edward have both shown how little stability there is in the riches of that family.’ As yet, the reader will remember, that ‘Portland Estate,’ which was so profitably to turn farms into streets, was but in expectancy.
And then \VALPOLE adds: ‘Jlly family has felt how insecure is the permanency of heir-looms,’—the thought of that grand ‘Houghton Gallery,’ and its transportation to Russia, coming across his memory, whilst telling Lady UPPER-OSBORY the story of the coveted vase, just imported
'from the Barberini Palace at Rome.
The Duchess of PORTLAND enjoyed the sight of her beautiful purchase only during a few weeks. It was bought
in by the family (at the nominal price of £1029“) at the sale of her famous museum of curiosities—a sale extending to more than four thousand lots—and twenty-four years afterwards, it was lent, for exhibition (1810), by the third Duke of PORTLAND, to the Trustees of the British Museum, where it has since remained.
When Wnncwoon set about imitating the Portland Vase in his manufactory at Etruria—for which purpose the then Duke liberally lent it to him—he discovered that the vase had been broken and skilfully put together again. After it had been publicly exhibited during almost thirtyfive years in London, the frenzy of a maniac led—as it seemed at the moment—to its utter destruction. But, mainly by the singular skill and patience of the late John DOUBLEDAY (a craftsman attached to the Department of Antiquities for many years), it was soon restored to its pristine beauty. That one act of violence in 1845 is the only instance of very serious injury arising from open exhibition to all comers which the annals of the Museum record.
4' Horace Walpole, at this sale, purchased the fine MS., with drawings by Julio Clovio, which was long an ornament of the villa at Strawberry Hill, and also a choice cameo of Jupiter Serapis, for which he gave a hundred and seventy-three pounds. He preferred, he said, either of them to the vase. S0, at least, he fancied when he found it unattainable. ‘ I am glad,’ he wrote to Conway (18 June, 1786), ‘that Sir Joshua saw no more excellence in the Jupiter than in the Clovio, or the Duke, I suppose, would have purchased it as he did the Vase—for £1000. I told Sir William and the late Duchess—when I never thought that it would be mine—that I would rather have the head than the vase.‘
THE KING’S OR ‘GEORGIAN’ LIBRARY ;—
Notices of the Literary Tastes and Acquirements of Kiny GEORGE 'ruE THIRD—m8 Conversalz'ons wit/t .Men of Idlers—History of Ms Library and (y its Transfer to tile BTiliS/t Nation by GEORGE THE FOURTH.
THE strong antagonisms in mind, in disposition, and in tastes, which existed between GEORGE THE THIRD and GEORGE THE FOURTH, may be seen in the small and incidental acts of their respective lives, almost as distinctly, and as sharply defined, as they are seen in their private lives, or in their characteristic modes of transacting the public business. GEORGE THE THIRD regretted the giving away of the old ‘ Royal Library’ of the Kings his ancestors, not because he grudged a liberal use of royal books by private scholars, but because he thought a fine Library was the necessary appendage of a palace. He occasionally stinted himself of some of his personal enjoyments in life, in order
to have the more means to amass books. He formed, during his own lifetime, a Library which is probably both larger and finer than any like Collection ever made by any
one man, even under the advantageous conditions of mm“
royalty. When he had collected his books, he made them liberally accessible. To himself, as we all know, Nature had not given any very conspicuous faculty for turning either books or men to good account; nor had education done much to improve the parts he possessed.
GEORGE THE FOURTH, as it seems, regretted the formation of the new Royal Library by the King his father, because, when he inherited it, he found that its decent maintenance and upkeeping would demand every year a sum of money which he could spend in ways far more to
his taste. He had been far better educated than his father had been. And to him Nature had given good abilities ;
but study was about the last and least likely use to which, at any time, he was inclined to apply them. If he saw any good at all in having, on his accession, the ownership of a large Library, it lay, not in the power it afforded him of benefiting literature, and the labourers in literature, but in the possibility he saw that so fine a collection of books might be made to produce a round sum of money. One of his first thoughts about the matter was, that it would be a good thing to Offer his father’s beloved Library for sale— to the Emperor Of Russia. By what influences that shrewd scheme of turning a penny was diverted will be seen in the sequel.
If GEORGE THE THIRD was, in respect to his parts, only slenderly endowed, he had in another respect large gifts. Both his industry and his power of sustained application
were uncommon. And his conscientious sense of responsi