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Since the year 1842, the annual “Mis- scripts; a library of printed books; a mucellaneous Estimates” presented to the seum of ancient sculpture ; museums of House of Commons, have exhibited the natural history, in all its departments; colnovel feature of a distinct series (issued as lections of prints, of medals, and of maps a separate Sessional paper), under the head, and charts; and (not least in importance) “ Education, Science, and Art.” Such the nucleus of an ethnographical museum grants as had previously been voted for lite has received the sum of 894,0991. : viz. rary, scientific, or artistic purposes, were for the maintenance of the establishment mixed up with those for “ Public Buildings, and for acquisitions, 468,6561., and for new Royal Palaces, Roads, Harbors, and Gaols.” | buildings (including temporary corridors
The following tabular view of the sums and passages), 425,443l. If to these sums voted, under this head, in each of the be added those granted from the year 1753, last six years, shows a progressive annual when the museum was founded, down to increase since 1843:
1830, together with the grants of the current
year, 1847–8, the whole sum devoted to “Estimates, &c., Miscellaneous Services. | the British Museum by Parliament will Education, Science, and Art.”
amount to 2,061,8951. For the year ending
The sum voted for general purposes, in 25th March, 1842
£212,524 the first year after the foundation, was 1843
210,88920001., and last year, as above, 45,4061. 1844
219,867 The mean annual average of the sums 1845
283,084 granted, both for general purposes and for 1846
300,288 buildings, during the last twenty-four years, 1847
325,908 is 54,1051.
The whole sums granted in aid of muse- But our more immediate purpose, in this ums, and other public collections, and article, is to give a rapid summary of the including the grants for buildings to re- history, and existing condition, of public ceive them, in the several years from 1830 to libraries in the metropolis-amongst which 1845, amounted to £1,180,264. Of this that of the British Museum is pre-eminentsum, the British Museum-which, it is to ly the chief, although not the earliest—and be remembered, includes a library of manu-I then to compare the advantages which in Vol. XII. No. III.
this respect are provided for the student in at various periods, so that it now London, with those which are presented to prises a very extensive and valuable collechim in the capital of our neighbors across tion of books, both in the ancient and the channel.
modern tongues, and in all the more imporThe honor of founding the first public tant departments of learning, especially in library in London is due to the excellent those of Theology, Ecclesiastical History, Archbishop Tenison, and that of founding and Biography."* Its present number the second, to his eminent Nonconformist of volumes we believe to be about 17,000, contemporary, Dr. Daniel Williams. and the number of separate works about
In March, 1684, Dr. Tenison applied to 22,000, of which, probably, 9000 are pamthe vestry of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, phlets. † for permission to erect, upon certain ground The library is open every week-day, save belonging to that parish, “ a fabrick for a Saturday, except in the month of August, public library, for the use of the students and in Christmas and Whitsuntide weeks, of the abovesaid precinct [of Westminster, from ten till three, in the spring and sumat his own proper costs and charges, and to mer, and from ten till four in the winter make some settlement for the support of months. Admission is by a trustee's order, the said fabrick, and towards the maintain and it is notified, that “if, in any case, difing of a keeper of the said intended libra- ficulty should be experienced by individuals ry." In pursuance of this proposition Dr. in procuring the necessary introductions, Tenison built a library, gave a considerable assistance will, on application, be cheerfully number of books, and 10001. in money. afforded them by the librarian, who is resi
But the library thus founded appears to dent on the premises."I have fallen into neglect soon after the arch- But, like many other institutions, foundbishop's death. Its endowment provided ed by English presbyterians, the Red-Cross only for the maintenance of a librarian, Street Library has been for many years not for the purchase of books. And it was under the almost exclusive management of not until 1835 that any successful effort was unitarian trustees. Dissatisfaction with made to revive its usefulness. The pro- this state of things, was one of the causes ceedings of a committee appointed in that that led to the establishment of the “ Conyear by the parishioners of St. Martin's gregational Library,''$ which has already led to the establishment of a subscription become a valuable institution, and is rapidlibrary in connexion with Tenison's library, ly increasing in usefulness. It is not, howthe management of the latter continuing, ever, in the strict sense of the term, a public, of course, under the original trust; and its but a proprietary and subscription library, books—about 3000 volumes-being confined and therefore not within the scope of our to the reading-room, whilst those of the present remarks. subscription library are circulated amongst the members. The readers who frequent Sir Hans Sloane may with justice be rethe former are chiefly clergymen of West- garded as the founder (chronologically) of minster and its neighborhood.
the third public library in London, and of
the only extensive public library in the The eminent presbyterian minister, Dr. British empire. His collections, it is true, Daniel Williams, had contemplated the were nominally purchased by Parliament of foundation of a public library in the metro- his executors; but, agreeably to his will, polis, for a considerable time previous to it was at a rate greatly disproportionate to his decease, and with this view had pur- their cost and real value. The Act, 26 chased the valuable library of Dr. William Bates. He died in 1716, having directed
* Catalogue, &c., preface, p. V. by his will, that the collection thus ac- any official statement. The figures given above are
+ Of the number of volumes, &c., we do not find quired, together with his own private col- calculated approximatively from the Catalogue belection, in itself both numerous and valua- fore us. ble, should be arranged for public use, un
Catalogue, &c. p. vi. der the management and control of a suc- volumes, on the 24 Dec., 1833, and since that peri
It was opened with a collection of about 4000 cession of trustees.
od has received considerable accessions. So imThe intentions of the liberal founder portant a design deserves, however, still more liberal were seconded by Dr. William Harris, bis support. Notices of its origin and growth may be personal friend, who bequeathed the whole and May, 1831, and January, 1835, &c. (New Seof his library, and by many other donors | ries, vol. I., pp. 241, 310 ; and vol. xi., pp. 68, 69, &c.) Geo. II., c. 22 (1753), directed the pur- books (about 2000 volumes) were not chase of Sir H. Şloane's collections, and transferred to the Museum until nearly also of a collection of MSS., commenced twelve years after it was opened. by the celebrated Robert Harley, Earl of In 1759, Mr. Solomon Da Costa presentOxford and Mortimer, and continued by his ed 180 Hebrew books, chiefly on theology son Edward, second earl.* It further di- and Jewish history, and many of them both rected that one general repository should curious and valuable. In the same year, be provided for these, and for the Cottoni- George II., hy instrument under the Great an collection of MSS., which was already the Seal, presented the old royal library of the property of the public, and also for a small kings of England, consisting of 9000 library of printed books, which had been be- volumes,* begun by Henry VII., and conqueathed, as an addition to the Cotton li- taining among other rarities, a splendid and brary, by Major Arthur Edwards. The unique collection of the productions of the sum of 300,0001. was directed to be raised, press of Antoine Verard at Paris, struck by a lottery, to defray the necessary expen- Off on vellum, expressly for that monarch. ses, of which sum 30,0001. was invested in Another royal gift was made by George III., the funds, as a permanent endowment. within two years of his accession, in the
The collections thus brought together Thomason Collection of Pamphlets, but of became “ The British Museum." Those this we shall speak presently. of Sir Hans Sloane, the real founder, are Dr. Thomas Birch, the biographer of now almost buried amidst the vast acces- Milton, and one of the earliest trustees of sions which that institution has received the British Museum, bequeathed his books during the last forty years, but they were to it in 1766, and Mr. Arthur Onslow, long the nucleus around which the others have Speaker of the House of Commons and an accumulated, and but for them, the present official trustee, bequeathed a collection of generation might have had to begin the Bibles, in 1768. 'Sir Joseph Banks, an formation of a national museum, instead of official trustee, as president of the Royal the easier and more grateful task of con- Society, presented, in 1783, a small but tinuing one long since founded by an en- very curious collection of books printed in lightened man, in a spirit of true munifi- Iceland. Mr. Tyrwhitt, the editor of cence, devoid of ostentation; and in that Chaucer, bequeathed nearly 1000 volumes, particular, as well as in others, presenting most of which were valuable editions of a marked contrast to certain founders of classics. museums, in our own day, who seem to have In 1799, the Rev. Clayton Mordaunt coveted the greatest possible amount of Cracherode, an elected trustee, bequeathed notoriety, at the cost of the smallest possi- a very choice collection of books on all subble contribution to the public benefit. jects, including many Incunabula, and rare
Of the number of printed books contained editions of classic authors, and comprising in the British Museum, when it was opened about 4500 volumes. And between the to the public in 1757, there is no accurate years 1769 and 1800, a sum of about 60001., account. We believe they did not much being part of the interest accruing from exceed 40,000 volumes. These were all of Major Edwards' bequest, appears to have Sloane's collection, as Major Edwards' been expended on the purchase of printed
books at various times. * But Parliament allowed Lord Oxford's noble
Thus far, and indeed until the close of library of printed books to be dispersed by public the first half century of its existence, the sale." It contained the vast collection of tracts, whence the Harleian Miscellany was compiled library of printed books owed its extension and the curious collection of ballads now known as to the munificence of individuals, and not the Roxburgh Collection, and recently bought for to the liberality of parliament. It was not the British Museum at a great price, but not beyond until 1812, that parliament made any its value.
+ In 1700, Sir John Cotton, grandson of Sir special grant for such purchases; and then, Robert, the collector of the Cottonian Library, had representations having been made that the expressed his willingness that it should be kept library was particularly deficient in certain his death, Cotton flouse and Library were vested classes of works (as might have been exin trustees, but the house was in ill condition, and pected from the manner in which its augin 1712, the books were removed to Essex House, mentations had accrued), a sum of 10001. near the Strand; and again, in 1730, to an old house was voted, expressly" for the purchase of in Little Dean's Yard, Westminster, where, in the following year, they suffered severely from fire, * Report from Select Committee on the Library narrowly escaping total destruction.
of George IIJ. (April 17, 1823), p. 5.
works relating to the history and topogra- and hoping that the more modern publica-
ed trustee), unconditionally, the whole of his
Many of the earliest and most curious speciIn the year 1823, it was computed that mens of typography; first and best editions of the the Museum library contained 125,000 classics, with an unrivalled collection of Homers ; volumes. Of this number, at least 62,000, the scarcest Spanish and Italian poems and 10exclusive of the 40,000 volumes (or there- mances; the most complete series existing of the abouts) collected by Sir Hans Sloane, were early editions of Ariosto ; many books printed on the gift of individuals . And in the year and, more especially, of Irish history, perhaps wat
vellum, of extreme beauty; a range of English above named the most valuable of all the rivalled ; amongst which will be found the rarest donations which have gradually made this works on the Spanish Armada, and the divorce of library what it now is, was conferred upon Henry VIII.; an assemblage of early Voyages and it by George IV., when he presented to the Travels, from the original editions of Marco Polo nation the noblé library which had been and Contarini, Columbus and Vesputius, to the colcollected by his father, comprising upwards lections of De Bry, Hulsius, Hakluyt, and Purchas, of 65,000 well-selected volumes. It is forming such a chain of uninterrupted information very rich in classics, in English history, in on the subject, as no other library can furnish."f Italian, French, and Spanish literature, and Some idea may be formed of the intrinin the scarce early printed books of the sic value of this bequest to the national lififteenth century. There is likewise a very brary in supplying some of its felt defiextensive collection of geography and topo- ciencies, when we state that it contains no graphy.”I The entire library has been less than seventeen of the earliest editions said to cost upwards of 300,0001.9 of Ariosto’s “ Orlando,” none of which is
Sir Richard Colt Hoare, who had formed at present to be found in the British Mua very fine collection of works on the His-seum. These early editions, apart from tory and Topography of Italy, presented it, their value as curiosities, have each a posiin 1825, to the trustees of the British Mu- tive literary value, either on account of its seum, in these words :-“ Anxious to fol- variations, or of some other peculiarity. low the liberal example of our gracious One hundred and twenty works on the hismonarch. (though in a very humble tory of Ireland, which would be looked for degree), I do give unto the British Muse- in vain in the Museum catalogues, are to um this my collection of topography, made be found in the Bibliotheca Grenvilliana; during a residence of five years abroad, among these are five works by Ramond
Caron, three by Carve, seven by Barnaby • Second Report, ut sup., App., pp. 421-424. + Panizzi's report, p. 7.
Rich, two by Archbishop Ussher, two by 1 Report, ut sup., p. 3.
* Quoted by Panizzi, ut sup., p. 7, note. Report of April 17, 1822, ut sup., p. 3.
+ Bibliotheca Grenvilliana, &c. Preface, pp. 3, 4.