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Book i, turn, was disinclined to assent, being of opinion—perhaps ch«p.vi. ^ unjustly—that, in 1743, the art of copperplate printing was better understood in Paris than in London. On Bloatm these grounds the negotiation was broken off.
Museum. ° B
Growth Of Auoidst these varied avocations, the growth of the library Tmsloani and museum went on unceasingly. Friends and foes contributed, in turn, to its enrichment. The year 1702 saw the incorporation with the original gatherings of the West India voyage of the splendid collections of Courten, the friend of Sloane's youth. In 1710, Sir Hans acquired the valuable herbaria of his old assailant, Leonard Plukenet. In 1718 he purchased the extensive collections, in all departments of natural history, of another friend of early years, James Petiver. The herbarium of Adam Buddle, a botanist little remembered now but of note in his generation, came to Sloane, as a token of friendship, from the «69Sj^ril death-bed of its collector. The scientific possessions of Dr. Christopher Merret were purchased from his son, and from time to time, when valuable collections were known to be on sale upon the Continent, agents went across to buy.
Of these numerous sources of augmentation the museum of Petiver was next in importance to that of Courten —but with a considerable interval. It is said (in the contemporary correspondence, as I think) that its cost to Sloane was four thousand pounds. But remembering what four thousand pounds was a hundred and fifty years ago, there is reason to suspect some exaggeration in the statement.
T"* James Petiver, when Sir Hans first became acquainted
Natural . . . -Ill
History with him, was serving, as an apprentice, the then apothenomoi cary of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He afterwards bePetivkr. came apothecary to the Charter House. He had, in one way or other, made for himself a singularly extensive acquaintance amongst seafaring men; and by their help had established Th* an almost world-wide correspondence with people interested or,„E in natural history, or possessed of special opportunities for Mcejl. gathering its rarities. Of such rarities, Sloane somewhere says, ' He had procured, I believe, a greater quantity than any man before him.' But in course of time his collections overpowered his means, or his industry, for the work of preservation and arrangement. When, at the collector's death, they passed into the possession of his friend, choice specimens were found, not in order, but in heaps. The due classification and ordering occupied many hands during many months.
The charities of human life were not, in the breast of Sir Blows Hans Sloane, choked either by the various allurements Spoxdkkcf, and preoccupations of science, or by the ceaseless toils of a Cbabjtm. busy and anxious profession. He was a very liberal giver, and also a discriminating and conscientious giver. I have rarely seen a correspondence which mirrors more strikingly than does that of Sloane, a just and equable attention to multifarious and often conflicting claims.
The multiplicity of the claims was, indeed, as notable as was the patience with which they were listened to. Not to dwell upon the innumerable gropings after money of which, in one form or other, every man who attains any sort of eminence is sure to have his share (but of which Sir Hans Sloane seems to have had a Benjamin's portion) or upon interminable requests for the use of influence, at Court, at the Treasury, at the London Hospitals, at the Council Boards of the Royal Society or of the College of Physicians, and elsewhere; his fame brought upon him a mass of appeals and solicitations from utter strangers, busied with Boo« i, less worldly aims and pursuits. Enthusiastic students of
Thep' the deep things of theology sought his opinion on abstruse
orraV" an(^ mystical doctrines. Advocates of perpetual peace, and
Ploaub 0f ^e transformation, at a breath, of the Europe of the
eighteenth century into a new Garden of Eden, implored him to endorse their theories, or to interpret their dreani3.
His replies are sometimes both characteristic and amusing; none the less so for the fact that his power of writing was, at all times, far beneath his other mental powers and attainments. Now and then, though rarely, a touch of humour lights up the homeliness of phrase.
To one of the enthusiasts in mystic divinity, who had sent for his perusal an enormous manuscript, he replied: 'I am very much obliged for the esteem you have of my knowledge, which, I am very sure, comes far short of your opinion. As to the particular controversies on foot in relation to Natural and Revealed Religion, and to Predestisioneto nation, I am no ways further concerned than to act as my
Gabriel . .. . ,
Nigbett, May, own conscience directs me in those matters; and am no
sL3JnCM«>69, judge for other people I have not time to peruse the
f"38- book you sent.'
To the worthy and once famous Abbe De Saint Pierre, who would fain have established with Sloane a steady correspondence on the universal amelioration of mankind, by means of a vast series of measures, juridical, political, and politico-economical, which started from the total abolition of vice and of war, and descended to the improvement of road-making by some happy anticipation—a hundred years in advance—of our own Macadam, he wrote thus: slTt0 '^ snou^ be very glad to see a general Peace established, Ms. sioane, for ever. Rumours of war are often, indeed, found to be baseless, and the fears of it, even when well grounded, are often dissipated by an unlooked-for Providence. But poor
mortals are often so weak as to suffer, in their health, from Book I, the fear of danger, where there is none!' The
Letters on high themes like these had their frequent variety, in the shape of proffers of contributions, to be made upon terms, for the enlargement of the Museum, the fame of which had now spread into very humble ranks of society. A single specimen in this kind will suffice: 'I understand,' wrote a correspondent of a speculative turn, 'you are a great virtuoso, and gives a valuable consideration for novelties of antiquity,'—on getting thus far in the perusal, one can imagine Sir Hans murmuring 'not willingly, I assure you,'—' a pin has been many hundred years in our family, and was, I am told, the pin of the first Saxon king of the West Angles,' and so on.
Until the year 1741, a few months after his resignation Ac(jm8,TI0N of the chair of the Royal Society on the score of old age, °fatmj; Sir Hans Sloane continued to live chiefly in London; though often removing, for part of the summer months, to his Manor House in the then charming suburb of Chelsea. He had purchased that valuable manor, from the family of Cheyne, in 1714. The fine old House abounded in historical recollections and amongst them, as most readers will remember, in associations connected with the memory of Sir Thomas More. It had the additional attraction of a large and beautiful garden, close to that other garden in which the now Lord of the Manor had pursued, with all the energies of youth, the study of botany. One of his earliest acts of lordship had been a graceful gift to the Company of Apothecaries, of the freehold in the land of which till then they had been tenants. In 1741 he transferred his Museum and Library from Bloomsbury to Chelsea. His former house—situated in Great Russell Street,
Book i, near the corner of what is now Bloomsbury Square—had been capacious, but the new one admitted of a greatly improved arrangement and display of the collections.
The state and character of the Sloane Museum, in the fullness to which the collector had brought it during these A Royal latest years of his life, can scarcely be exemplified better nit Sloane than in a contemporary account of a visit which was paid p^.T!" to the Manor House at Chelsea by the Prince and Princess of Wales, in the year 1748. I quote it, almost verbally, from the Gentleman s Magazine of that year, but with some unimportant omissions. G ]M -.. At that date, the Manor House formed a square of above Pp. 3oi, 302. a hundred feet on each side, enclosing a court. Three of '! 11 the principal rooms were, on the occasion of this royal visit, filled successively—as the visitors passed from one room into another—with the finest portions of the collections in its most portable departments. The minerals were first shown. The tables were spread with drawers filled with all sorts of precious stones in their natural beds, as they are found in the earth, except the first table, which contained stones found in animals, such as pearls, bezoars, and the like. Emeralds, topazes, amethysts, sapphires, garnets, rubies, diamonds, .... with magnificent vessels of cornelian, onyx, sardonyx and jasper, delighted the eye, says the attendant describer, and raised the mind to praise the great Creator of all things.
When their Royal Highnesses, continues our narrator, had viewed one room, and went into another, the scene was shifted. When they returned, the same tables were covered, for a second course, with all sorts of jewels, polished and set after the modern fashion, and with gems carved and engraved. For the third course, the tables were