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laid before Parliament. He died on the ninth of September, 1869, at the age of fifty-nine. His post was not filled up until the end of December, when he was succeeded by Mr. William Brenchley RYE, who was then Senior Assistant-Keeper in the Department of Printed Books. Mr. RYE is well known in literature. He has edited, with great ability, several works of early travel for the useful ‘Hakluyt Society,’—an employment which he has often shared with his friends and Museum colleagues Messrs. Winter Jonas and Richard Henry MAJOR, and with like honourable distinction in its performance. More recently, he has increased his reputation by a book which has been largely read, and which well deserves its popularity— Enylaml as seen by Foreq'yners. This work was published in 1865.
'What do we, as s. nation, care about books? How
much do you think we spend altogether on our Libraries,
public or private, as compared with what we spend on our
horses? If amsn spends lavishly on his Library, you call
him mad,-s Bibliomsnisc. But you never call any one a
Horse-maniac, though men ruin themselves every day by
their losses, and you do not hear of people ruining them
selves by their books. Or, to go lower still, how much do
you think the contents of the bookshelves of the United
Kingdom, public and private, would fetch, as compared
with the contents of its wine-cellars!—
nusns, Sesame and Lilia, pp. 75-77. T/ee varzous Projects and Plans proposed, a! a'zfi‘erent tunes, for fire Severance, t/te Parlzal Duper-awn, and the Rearrangement, 1y“ i/te several mteyral Collections wine]:
at present form ‘ The British Museum.’
THE first reconstruetor, in imagination, of the British Museum on the plan of severing the literature from the scientific collections, was a speculative and clever Frenchman, Peter John GROSLEY, who visited it within less than six years of its being first opened to public inspection. Gaosmzr expressed great admiration for much that he saw, and he also criticised some of the arrangements that seemed to him defective, with freedom but with courtesy. Some of my readers will probably think that he hit a real blot, at that time, when he said: ‘The Printed Books are the weakest part of this immense collection. The building cannot contain such a Library as England can form and ought to form for the ornament of its capital. It has a building quite ready in the “Banquetting-House” [at Whitehall], and that building could be enlarged from time to time as occasion might require.’
Other writers, at various periods, have advocated the severance of collections which seemed to them too multifarious to admit of full, natural, and equable development, in common. There is perhaps no apparent reason, on the surface, why a great Nation should not be able to enlarge the most varied public collections as effectively, and as impartially, within one building, as within half a dozen buildings. Nor does there seem to be any necessary connection between the wise and liberal government of public collections, and their severance or division into many buildings, rather than their combination within a single structure. Nevertheless it is certain that many thinkers have, by some process or other, reached the conclusion that severance would favour improvement.
Seventy years after GROSLEY wrote, Thomas WATTS revived the proposition of dividing the contents of the British Museum, but be revived it in a new form. His idea was to remove the Antiquities and to retain at Montagu House both the Libraries and the Natural History Collections. "l‘he pictures have been removed,’ wrote Mr. Warrs in 1837, ‘ why should not the statues follow? The collections at the Museum would then remain of an entirely homogeneous character. It would be exclusively devoted to conveying literary information; while the collection at the National Gallery would have for its object to refine and cultivate the taste.’
It was not by any oversight that Mr. VVA'r'rs spoke of the ‘homogeneity’ of Manuscripts, Printed Books, and Natural-History Collections. He (at the time) meant what he said. But I doubt if the naturalists would feel flattered by the reason which he gives in illustration of his opinion.. ‘The various curiosities accumulated at the Museum might be considered,’ he continues, ‘as a vast
pp. 295, seqq.
assemblage of book-plales, serving to illustrate and elucidate the literature of the Library.’
Be that as it may, the idea of removing either the Antiquities or the Printed Books has long ceased to be mooted. All who now advocate severance advise, I think, that the Natural History Collections should be removed, and none other than those. But hitherto the idea of severance, in any shape, has been uniformly repudiated both by Royal Commissions of Inquiry, and by Parliamentary Committees. The question, however, is sure to be reviVed, and that speedily. Ere long it must needs receive a final parliamentary solution—aye or no.
In this chapter I shall endeavour to state,—and as I hope with impartiality,—the main reasons which have been severally adduced, both by those who advocate a severance, and by those who recommend the continuance of the existing union of all the varied and vast Collections now at Bloomsbury. There can be no better introduction of the subject than that which will be afforded by putting before the reader, on the one hand, a detailed and well-considered plan which contemplated the maintenance of the Museum as it is; and, on the other, the elaborate report in favour of transferring the scientific collections to a new site,—in order to gain ample space at Bloomsbury for a great Museum of Literature and Archaeology, such as should be in every point of view worthy of the British Empire,—whieh was approved of by a Treasury Minute more than eight years ago.
Of the several schemes and projects of extension which rest on the twofold basis of (1) the retention at Bloomsbury of nearly all the existing collections, with ample space for their prospective increase, and ('2) such an effective internal rearrangement of the collections themselves as would greatly increase the public facilities of access and study, none better deserves the attention of the reader than that which was submitted in the first instance to the Trustees of the British Museum, and subsequently to Parliament (in 1860) by Mr. Edmund OLDFIELD, then a Senior Assistant in the Department of Antiquities, entrusted (in succession to Mr. C. T. NEWTON, on his proceeding to Greece) with the charge of the Greek and Roman Galleries. By this plan it is proposed to erect on the west side of the Museum a new range of Galleries for Greek and Roman Antiquities. The facade in Charlotte Street—prolonged to the house No. 4 in Bedford Square—would extend to about 440 feet in length, with an usual depth of 140, increased at the southern extremity to 190 feet. This new range would provide for the whole of the present Greek, Roman, Phoenician, and Etruscan Antiquities, and for considerable augmentations. To Assyrian Antiquities would be assigned the present Elgin Gallery, the ‘ Mausoleum Room,’ and the ‘ Hellenic Room,’ together with two other rooms—gained in part by new adaptations of space comprised within the existing buildings. The rooms now devoted to the Antiquities of Kouyunjik and Nimroud would then be applied to the reception of Egyptian Antiquities, together with a room to be constructed on the site of the present principal staircase. The Lyeian Gallery would _retain its site, with an enlargement westward. I quote Mr. OLnrisLD’s own descriptive account of his project, in full, from the Appendix to the fllz'nufes of Evidence of 1860.