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Book i, collectors and collections of Printed Books, of Engravings, iHTsotuc- of Drawings, and of Manuscripts. Thus,—to give but a few T,0M- examples,—important collections, now forming part of the British Museum, and gathered originally by Thomas

Rymer (1713); ThomasMadox (1733); Brownlow Cecil, Earl of Exeter (1739); David Garrick (1779); Peter Lewis Ginguene (1816); the Abate Canonici {circa, 1818); John Fowler Hull (1825); Frederick North, sixth Earl of Guildford (1826); Count Joseph de Puisaye (1827); the Marquess Wellesley

(1842); D. E. Davy (circa 1850),—are all noticed in an Appendix headed ' Historical Notices of Collectors' to the volume entitled 'Free Town Libraries published in 1869. Of that Appendix the notices above referred to form, respectively, Nos. '848' (Rymer); '570' (Madox); '186' (Cecil); '351' (Garrick); '372' (Ginguene); *165' (Canonici); '462' (Hull);' 683' (North); '781' (Puisaye); '1049' (Wellesley); and * 249' (Davy).

The existing constitution of the Board of Trustees of the British Museum has been on many occasions, and by several writers, somewhat freely impugned. More than once it has been the subject of criticism in the House of Commons. With little alteration that Board remains, in 1869, what Parliament made it in 1753. Obviously, it might be quite possible to frame a new governing Corporation, in a fashion more accordant with what are sometimes called the 'progressive tendencies' of the period.

But I venture to think that the bare enumeration of the facts which have now been briefly tabulated, in this introductory chapter, gives a proof of faithful and zealous administration of a great trust, such as cannot be gainsaid by any the most ardent lover of innovation. Both the Boo*i, Collections given, and the Collections purchased, afford Lumodi-c conclusive and splendid proofs that the Trustees and the Officers have alike won the confidence and merited the gratitude of those whose acquirements and pursuits in life have best qualified them to give a verdict on the implied issue. William Cotton with Mary Wesknham, daughter and Booii. heir of Robert Wesenham, who had acquired Conington utlor by his marriage with Agnes Bruce* ^q0""

If, of late years, the public purse has been opened with somewhat more of an approach to harmony with the openhandedness of private Englishmen, that result is wholly due to unremitting effort on the part both of the Trustees who govern, and of the Officers who administer, or have administered, the British Museum. And, to attain their end, both Trustees and Officers have, very often, had to fight hard, as the later chapters of this volume will more than sufficiently show.

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The Cottons of Conington were an offshoot of the old Cheshire stock. They held a good local position in right A^a"" of their manorial possessions both in Huntingdonshire and 8^b^„„ in Cambridgeshire, but they had not, as yet, won distinc- CoT""' tion by any very conspicuous public service. Genealogically, their descent, through Mary Wesenham, from Robert Bruce, was their chief boast. Sir Robert was to become, as he grew to manhood, especially proud of it. He rarely missed an opportunity of commemorating the fact, and sometimes seized occasions for recording it, heraldically, after a fashion which has put stumbling-blocks in the way of later antiquaries. But the weakness has about it nothing of meanness, It is not an unpardonable failing. And with the specially antiquarian virtues it is not less closely allied than with love of country. In days of court favour, James The First was wont to please Sir Robert Cotton by calling him cousin. Sir Robert's descendants became, in their turn, proud of his personal celebrity, but they too were, at all times, as careful to celebrate, upon the family monuments, their Bruce descent, as to claim a share in the literary glories of the ' Cottonian Library.'

This cousinship with King James—and also a matter which to Sir Robert was much more important, the descent to the Cottons of the rich Lordship of Conington with its appendant manors and members—will be seen, at a glance, by the following

* Sir Robert's father was the fourth ' Thomas Cotton of Conington,' and fifth Lord of that manor of the Cotton family. The marriage of "William Cotton with the eventual heiress of the Huntingdonshire Braces i contracted about the year 1450.

EDMTXD, called Irontide,

Cean-mohr, King of So

Edward = Agatba, Daughter of the Emperor Henry III.

cotM = Margaret (Saint)
tland

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