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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 voted, under this head, in each of the last six years, shows a progressive annual increase since 1843:
and passages), 425,4431. If to these sums be added those granted from the year 1753, when the museum was founded, down to 1830, together with the grants of the current year, 1847-8, the whole sum devoted to Services.- the British Museum by Parliament will amount to 2,061,8951.
The sum voted for general purposes, in £212,524 the first year after the foundation, was 210,889 2000l., and last year, as above, 45,4061. 219,867 The mean annual average of the sums 283,084 granted, both for general purposes and for 300,288 buildings, during the last twenty-four years, 325,908 is 54,1051.
The whole sums granted in aid of museums, and other public collections, and including the grants for buildings to receive them, in the several years from 1830 to 1845, amounted to £1,180,264. Of this sum, the British Museum-which, it is to be remembered, includes a library of manuVOL. XII. No. III.
But our more immediate purpose, in this article, is to give a rapid summary of the history, and existing condition, of public libraries in the metropolis-amongst which that of the British Museum is pre-eminently the chief, although not the earliest-and then to compare the advantages which in
this respect are provided for the student in London, with those which are presented to him in the capital of our neighbors across the channel.
The honor of founding the first public library in London is due to the excellent Archbishop Tenison, and that of founding the second, to his eminent Nonconformist contemporary, Dr. Daniel Williams.
In March, 1684, Dr. Tenison applied to the vestry of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, for permission to erect, upon certain ground belonging to that parish, "a fabrick for a public library, for the use of the students of the abovesaid precinct [of Westminster], at his own proper costs and charges, and to make some settlement for the support of the said fabrick, and towards the maintaining of a keeper of the said intended library." In pursuance of this proposition Dr. Tenison built a library, gave a considerable number of books, and 1000l. in money.
at various periods, so that it now comprises a very extensive and valuable collection of books, both in the ancient and modern tongues, and in all the more important departments of learning, especially in those of Theology, Ecclesiastical History, and Biography."* Its present number of volumes we believe to be about 17,000, and the number of separate works about 22,000, of which, probably, 9000 are pamphlets.†
The library is open every week-day, save Saturday, except in the month of August, and in Christmas and Whitsuntide weeks, from ten till three, in the spring and summer, and from ten till four in the winter months. Admission is by a trustee's order, and it is notified, that "if, in any case, difficulty should be experienced by individuals in procuring the necessary introductions, assistance will, on application, be cheerfully afforded them by the librarian, who is resident on the premises."
But, like many other institutions, founded by English presbyterians, the Red-Cross Street Library has been for many years under the almost exclusive management of unitarian trustees. Dissatisfaction with this state of things, was one of the causes that led to the establishment of the "Con
But the library thus founded appears to have fallen into neglect soon after the archbishop's death. Its endowment provided only for the maintenance of a librarian, not for the purchase of books. And it was not until 1835 that any successful effort was made to revive its usefulness. The proceedings of a committee appointed in that year by the parishioners of St. Martin's gregational Library,"§ which has already led to the establishment of a subscription library in connexion with Tenison's library, the management of the latter continuing, of course, under the original trust; and its books-about 3000 volumes-being confined to the reading-room, whilst those of the 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.
become a valuable institution, and is rapidly increasing in usefulness. It is not, however, in the strict sense of the term, a public, but a proprietary and subscription library, and therefore not within the scope of our present remarks.
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 by his will, that the collection thus acquired, together with his own private collection, in itself both numerous and valua-fore us. ble, should be arranged for public use, under the management and control of a succession of trustees.
* Catalogue, &c., preface, p. v.
+ Of the number of volumes, &c., we do not find official statement. The figures given above are
calculated approximatively from the Catalogue be
Catalogue, &c. p. vi.
volumes, on the 2d Dec., 1833, and since that periIt was opened with a collection of about 4000
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, his support. Notices of its origin and growth may be found in the Congregational Magazine for April personal friend, who bequeathed the whole and May, 1831, and January, 1835, &c. (New Seof his library, and by many other donors | ries, vol. x., 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. Sloane'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., by 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 300,000l. 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 30,000l. 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 Thomason Collection of Pamphlets, but of this we shall speak presently.
Dr. Thomas Birch, the biographer of Milton, and one of the earliest trustees of the British Museum, bequeathed his books to it in 1766, and Mr. Arthur Onslow, long Speaker of the House of Commons and an official trustee, bequeathed a collection of Bibles, in 1768. Sir Joseph Banks, an official trustee, as president of the Royal Society, presented, in 1783, a small but very curious collection of books printed in Iceland. Mr. Tyrwhitt, the editor of Chaucer, bequeathed nearly 1000 volumes, most of which were valuable editions of
The collections thus brought together became "The British Museum." Those of Sir Hans Sloane, the real founder, are now almost buried amidst the vast accessions which that institution has received during the last forty years, but they were the nucleus around which the others have accumulated, and but for them, the present generation might have had to begin the formation of a national museum, instead of the easier and more grateful task of continuing one long since founded by an enlightened man, in a spirit of true munificence, devoid of ostentation; and in that particular, as well as in others, presenting a marked contrast to certain founders of classics. museums, in our own day, who seem to have coveted the greatest possible amount of notoriety, at the cost of the smallest possible contribution to the public benefit.
Of the number of printed books contained in the British Museum, when it was opened to the public in 1757, there is no accurate account. We believe they did not much exceed 40,000 volumes. These were all of Sloane's collection, as Major Edwards'
But Parliament allowed Lord Oxford's noble
library of printed books to be dispersed by public sale. It contained the vast collection of tracts, whence the Harleian Miscellany was compiled, and the curious collection of ballads now known as the Roxburgh Collection, and recently bought for the British Museum at a great price, but not beyond
+ In 1700, Sir John Cotton, grandson of Sir Robert, the collector of the Cottonian Library, had expressed his willingness that it "should be kept and preserved for public use and advantage." On his death, Cotton House and Library were vested in trustees, but the house was in ill condition, and in 1712, the books were removed to Essex House, near the Strand; and again, in 1730, to an old house in Little Dean's Yard, Westminster, where, in the following year, they suffered severely from fire, narrowly escaping total destruction.
In 1799, the Rev. Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode, an elected trustee, bequeathed a very choice collection of books on all subjects, including many Incunabula, and rare editions of classic authors, and comprising about 4500 volumes. And between the years 1769 and 1800, a sum of about 60007., being part of the interest accruing from Major Edwards' bequest, appears to have been expended on the purchase of printed books at various times.
Thus far, and indeed until the close of the first half century of its existence, the library of printed books owed its extension to the munificence of individuals, and not to the liberality of parliament. It was not until 1812, that parliament made any special grant for such purchases; and then, representations having been made that the library was particularly deficient in certain classes of works (as might have been expected from the manner in which its augmentations had accrued), a sum of 1000%. was voted, expressly "for the purchase of
* Report from Select Committee on the Library of George III. (April 17, 1823), p. 5.
works relating to the history and topogra- and hoping that the more modern publicaphy of the British Islands;" which grant tions may be added to it hereafter."* This was repeated in each of the three following collection, with an addition subsequently years. In the year 1813, a special grant made to it, amounted to nearly 3000 was made for the purchase of the fine law volumes, some of them rare, and all of library (both printed and manuscript) of them valuable. Mr. Francis Hargrave, the eminent barrister, and the amount devoted to printed books was probably about 2,5001. Dr. Burney's library, rich in Greek classics, with his own MS. notes, and containing a curious series of newspapers in 700 volumes, was also purchased under a special grant in 1818. The printed books comprised about 13,000 volumes, and were estimated at
From 1801 to 1815 (when the separate account ceased to be kept), Edwards' fund produced about 16,000l., of which sum about 6,500l. was expended in the purchase of printed books. In 1820, Sir Joseph Banks bequeathed his valuable library, containing 16,000 volumes,† and especially rich in natural history, and in the transactions of learned societies.
In the year 1823, it was computed that the Museum library contained 125,000 volumes. Of this number, at least 62,000, exclusive of the 40,000 volumes (or thereabouts) collected by Sir Hans Sloane, were the gift of individuals. And in the year above named the most valuable of all the donations which have gradually made this library what it now is, was conferred upon it by George IV., when he presented to the nation the noble library which had been collected by his father, comprising upwards of 65,000 well-selected volumes. It is very rich in classics, in English history, in Italian, French, and Spanish literature, and in the scarce early printed books of the fifteenth century. There is likewise a very extensive collection of geography and topography." The entire library has been said to cost upwards of 300,000l. §
To this long list of contributors to our national library may now be added the name of the late Right Hon. Thomas Grenville, the donor of the most splendid addition it has ever received, with the single exception of the library of George III. Mr. Grenville, whose death occurred on the 17th Dec., 1846, bequeathed to the British Museum (of which he had long been an elected trustee), unconditionally, the whole of his library, amounting to more than 20,000 volumes, and probably containing a greater number of select, rare, and costly books, than any private library in this country, except Lord Spencer's.
In the catalogue of this collection, recently compiled by Messrs. Payne and Foss, it is said to include
Many of the earliest and most curious specimens of typography; first and best editions of the classics, with an unrivalled collection of Homers; the scarcest Spanish and Italian poems and romances; the most complete series existing of the early editions of Ariosto; many books printed on vellum, of extreme beauty; a range of English and, more especially, of Irish history, perhaps unrivalled; amongst which will be found the rarest works on the Spanish Armada, and the divorce of Henry VIII.; an assemblage of early Voyages and Travels, from the original editions of Marco Polo and Contarini, Columbus and Vesputius, to the collections of De Bry, Hulsius, Hakluyt, and Purchas, forming such a chain of uninterrupted information on the subject, as no other library can furnish.”†
Some idea may be formed of the intrinsic value of this bequest to the national library in supplying some of its felt deficiencies, when we state that it contains no less than seventeen of the earliest editions 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, in 1825, to the trustees of the British Museum, in these words :-"Anxious to follow the liberal example of our gracious monarch... (though in a very humble degree), I do give unto the British Museum this my collection of topography, made during a residence of five years abroad,
their value as curiosities, have each a positive literary value, either on account of its variations, or of some other peculiarity. One hundred and twenty works on the history of Ireland, which would be looked for in vain in the Museum catalogues, are to be found in the Bibliotheca Grenvilliana;
among these are five works by Ramond Caron, three by Carve, seven by Barnaby Rich, two by Archbishop Ussher, two by * Quoted by Panizzi, ut sup., p. 7, note.
+ Bibliotheca Grenvilliana, &c. Preface, pp. 3, 4.
General Vallancey, four by Sir James Ware ist; copies of each edition are in the -names well known and highly distinguish- Grenville Library. The first edition of ed in Irish history. . . . . Of twelve tracts Cranmer's Bible, the printing of which was relating to the history of the Spanish begun in Paris in 1538, and finished in Armada' in the Grenville library, the London in 1539,-the Inquisition having Museum contains only three."* interposed by imprisoning the printers and burning the greater part of the impression,
Amongst the very numerous typographical rarities of a different class from those is excessively rare in a perfect state; referred to in the preceding extract, which and of Harrison's reprint (1562) only three adorn this collection, are the Mazarine copies are known besides Mr. Grenville's, Bible, Fust and Schoyffer's Bible of 1462, two of which (viz., that in the Baptist LiMentelin's Bible of 1470, Rodt and Ri- brary at Bristol, formerly Dr. Gifford's, chel's Bible, the Complutensian Polyglot, and that in the Bridgewater Library, now the first English Bible, the first edition of Lord Ellesmere's) are imperfect, and the Cranmer's Great" Bible, and Harrison's third, in the Bodleian, is in a bad condiedition of 1562, the Bishop's Bible of 1569, tion.
the Mentz Psalter of 1457, the Milan The Grenville copy of the "Bishop's Psalter of 1481, the Venice Psalter of 1486, Bible" is said to be "the finest ever the Genoa Polyglot Psalter of 1516, and seen;"† and that of Tyndale's Pentateuch, that of Cologne of 1518, the first French" emprinted at Malborow in the Land of Psalter, the first English Psalter, together Hesse, by Hans Lufft," (Luther's printer) with that of Archbishop Parker, Tyndale's to be the only perfect copy known."* Pentateuch of 1530, and very many others, both curious and valuable.
The Editio Princeps of the Latin Vulgate, printed at Mentz about 1450 (called the "Mazarine Bible" from its having been first discovered in the library of Cardinal Mazarine), was long the subject of fierce controversy amongst bibliographers, some asserting its claims to be regarded as the first book ever printed, and others denying those claims, on the ground of its extreme beauty of typography and paper, and the consummate finish of its execution, whence they inferred that it must necessarily have been preceded by inferior specimens of the infant art. The discovery, however, of an authenticated MS. note in a copy belonging to the Royal Library of Paris, recording its illumination, rubrication, and binding, as completed in 1456, by Henry Cremer, vicar of St. Stephen's, in Mentz, went far to set that vexed question at rest.† The Grenville copy is one of five copies known to exist on vellum. The Latin Bible of 1462 is the first edition with a certain date; and that of 1470, printed by Mentelin at Strasburg, is so rare, that it was utterly unknown to bibliographers until the appearance of the Crevenna Catalogue.
The first English translation of the entire Bible, by Coverdale, printed at Zurich in 1535, was reprinted in 1550, and reissued in 1553, with a new title-page, &c, and of the latter only four copies are known to
*Panizzi, ut sup., p. 19.
The copy already in the Museum wants four leaves; that which formerly belonged to Mr. Tulet, and afterwards to Mr. Heber, thirteen leaves; that in the Baptist Library at Bristol, the whole of Genesis; and that in Sion College, the whole of Deuteronomy. The latter has likewise the marginal notes cut off, as directed by an act of Parliament in 1542. †
Cardinal Ximenes' great Polyglot Bible -in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Chaldaicwas printed at Alcala (Compluti) in 6 vols. folio, between the years 1502 and 1517." The impression of this work was a very limited one, so that it is extremely rare.§ Mr. Grenville's is a superb copy.
The Latin Psalter, printed at Mentz in 1457, per Joh. Fust et P. Schoeffer, is the first printed book with a certain date, and has long been coveted in the British Museum-whose trustees, some years since, in vain offered £600 for a copy in the Wurtemburg Library, the curators of which demanded £2000. "It is a master-piece of typography," says Van Praet, "whether it be regarded as printed with wooden or with metal types."||
The Polyglot Psalter, in Hebrew, Greek, * Cotton, List of Editions of the Bible. . . . in English, p. 13. † B. G., p. 78.
Cotton, p. 2, note. "Scarso numero di copie." Gamba (Biblioteca portatile, &c.) The Mac Carthy copy, on vellum, ex-sold for 6701.
Catalogue des livres sur velin, tom. i., p. 206. The Mac Carthy copy sold for 500l. Brunet, De + Nodier, Bibliothèque Sacrée Grecque-Latine, Boze, and Nodier, concur in the opinion that it is
printed with wooden types.