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Book II, Both to the Edinburgh Review and to the Classical
.butor. It was in the latter periodical that his Prolegomena EXPLORERS. to HOMER 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 Alfred, 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 to 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. KNIGHT'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 Ilias et Odyssea a rapsidorum interpolationibus repurgata, et in pristinam formam . . . . redacta ; cum notis ac prolegomenis, . . . . opera et studio Richardi Payne Knight. 1808, 8vo.
A GROUP OF BOOK-LOVERS AND PUBLIC
If we were to take away from the Museum Collection of Books7 the King's Library, and the collection which George the Third gave before that, and then the magnificent collection of Mr. Cracherode, as well as those of Sir William Musgrave, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, and many others, and 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 1836], nor one third of the value of the Library, has been procured with money voted by the Nation. The Nation has done almost nothing for the Library......
Considering the British Museum to be a National Library for research, its utility increases in proportion with the very rare and costly books, in preference to modern books..... I think that scholars have a right to look, for these expensive works, to the Goverument of the Country. ....
'I want a poor student to have the same means of in-
When you have given a hundred thousand pounds,-in
on British Museum, 7th June, 1836. (Q. 4785-4795.)
Notices of some early Donors of Books.—The Life and Col
lections of Clayton Mordaunt CRACHERODE.— William
fifteen years, a Collection of Antiquities, comparatively small Bookand insignificant, was so enriched as to gain the aspect of a Public National Museum of which all English-speaking men might B
Book II, Chap. III. Book LOVERS AND PUBLIC BENEFAC
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 HAMILTONS, TOWNELEYS, Elgins, 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 bearing 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 distin. guished 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 EDWARDS, were the first founders of the Library, so BIRCA, MUSGRAVE, TYRWHITT, CRACHERODE, BANKS, and HOARE, 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 Book II,
Chap. III. 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 BENEPACof 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 BrQuest or 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. Birch 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 he 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 BEQUEST OF assemblage of English plays was bequeathed to the Museum GAXICA by David GARRICK. Its formation had been one of the January, favourite relaxations of the great actor. And the study of
the plays gathered by GARRICK had a large share in moulding the tastes and the literary career of Charles LAMB. Thence he drew the materials of the volume of Specimens which has made the rich stores of the early drama known to thousands of readers who but for it, and for the Collection which enabled him to compile it, could have formed no fair or adequate idea of an important epoch in our literature.
Sir William MUSGRAVE was another early Trustee whose gifts to the Public illustrated the wisdom of SLOANE's plan for the government of his Museum and of its parliamentary adoption. MusGRAVE shared the predilection of Dr. BIRCH for the study of British biography and archæology, and he had larger means for amassing its materials. He was descended from a branch of the Musgraves of Edenhall, and was the second son of Sir Richard Musgrave of Hayton Castle, to whom he eventually succeeded. He made large and very curious manuscript collections for the history of portrait-painting in England (now Additional MSS. 6391. 6393), and also on many points of the administrative and political history of the country. He was a zealous Trustee of the British Museum, and in his lifetime made several additions to its stores. On his death, in 1799, all his manuscripts were bequeathed to the Museum, together with a Library of printed British Biography—more complete than anything of its kind theretofore collected.
This last-named Collection extended (if we include a partial and previous gift made in 1790) to nearly two thousand volumes, and it probably embraced much more than twice that number of separate works. For it was rich in those biographical ephemera which are so precious to the historical inquirer, and often so difficult of obtain ment, when needed. Nearly at the same period (1786) a