Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places. Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 4Thornbury, Walter
The British Museum (continued).
The British Museum (continued).
The difference of the appearance of Montagu House from that of the [extra_illustrations.4.502.1] of the present day is very striking, not only with regard to the building in itself, but also as to its situation, relatively to the country and the town. The old house, as we have shown, remained down almost to the close of the last century quite open on the north side, and commanded views of the surrounding fields; whilst the present edifice, although occupying the same site, and indeed covering a much larger space of ground, is almost completely shut in on sides by streets and squares which are built up close to its walls, so that the only view of the edifice that can be obtained is that of the principal, or southern, front in .
The new buildings, which were commenced by Sir Robert Smirke, were continued in by his brother, [extra_illustrations.4.502.2] ; the walls of old Montagu House being removed piecemeal as the new edifice progressed; the last portion of it disappeared in . In place of the dull brick wall which separated the old house from , there was erected a handsome iron railing, partly gilt. Through this the magnificently enriched front of the new building can be surveyed by the passer-by in all its entire length; it presents a recessed portico and projecting wings; and as the edifice fronts the south, the play of light and shade caused by the forest of Ionic columns with which the whole is faced, is such as no other portico in London possesses. At either extremity of the court-yard is a range of houses for the resident officials of the Museum. In the centre of the iron railing-which is raised upon a granite curb, and is formed of spears painted of a dark copper-colour, with the heads gilt, and an ornamental band--is the principal carriage-gate and foot entrance, strengthened by fluted columns with composite capitals, richly gilt, and surmounted by vases.
The style of architecture adopted throughout the exterior of the new building is the Grecian-Ionic. The southern facade consists of the great entrance portico, columns in width, and intercolumniations in projection. This is approached by a broad flight of steps. On either side is an advancing wing, giving to the entire front an extent of feet; the whole surrounded by a colonnade of columns, raised upon a stylobate feet and a half high. The columns are feet at their lower diameter, and feet high; the height from the pavement of the front court-yard to the top of the entablature of the colonnade, upwards of feet. Professor Cockerell, in a lecture delivered in , remarked that
In the tympanum of the pediment there is a group of allegorical figures, representing the
which has been thus described by Sir Richard Westmacott, R.A.:--
The building erected by Sir Robert Smirke consists of ranges of apartments-east, west, north, and south; and these formerly enclosed a hollow square, forming a large open quadrangle. The eastern range, which was completed in , was in use some years previous to the gradual erection of the others. It contains the apartments
| appropriated to the manuscript collection, and also the Royal Library, of which we have spoken above; a magnificent series of corridors feet in length, and wide, with inlaid floors and coffered ceilings. The ground-floor of the northern range of apartments is allotted to the general library, and is less ornate in appearance than the eastern range; but it nevertheless contains or rooms of a striking character. The western range was erected partly on the site of the old Gallery of Antiquities, which was opened in , and presents large apartment, corresponding in length with the Royal Library; this is appropriated to Egyptian and other sculpture. The southern range, the last completed, occupies the exact site of old Montagu House. This range contains the great hall and staircase; on the east of which is a room containing the Grenville library, and on the west a saloon containing sculptured antiquities. The increasing collections of the Museum had rendered it necessary to make various additions to the original design of Sir Robert Smirke, some of them even before that design had been carried out. Of these may be mentioned a gallery or saloon for the Elgin marbles, which was erected on the western side of the western range. The most extensive addition, however, is that erected in the inner quadrangle, under the superintendence of Mr. Sydney Smirke, who had some time previously succeeded his brother, Sir Robert, as architect to the Museum. This new building contains the reading-room and the accommodation prospectively necessary for the annual increase of the collection of printed books. It is of the principal architectural features of the Museum, and the only that is visible at a distance, the dome that crowns it forming part of the view of London as seen from Hampstead Heath, and from the Norwood and Sydenham hills near the Crystal Palace. to the room is by a long passage, which is adorned with a bust of Sir Anthony Panizzi, who was some time principal librarian, and at whose suggestion the new reading-room was built. The subject had indeed been under consideration many years previously, and some discussion has arisen as to the real author of the original suggestion. Mr. Hawkins, an architect, who published a pamphlet of |
in , assigns the earliest notion of building in the above-mentioned quadrangle to Mr. Edward Hawkins, in ; but the idea seems to have been ventilated even as early as the years and , when it was introduced in a series of letters on the Museum, published at that time anonymously in the , but which were subsequently acknowledged by Mr. Watts, of the officers of the Printed Book Department.
says Mr. Watts, speaking of the quadrangle,
On crossing the threshold of the reading-room, the visitor finds himself in a large circular apartment crowned with a dome of the most magnificent dimensions, feet in diameter, and feet high. It is the largest dome in the world, with exception, the Pantheon at Rome. The cylinder or drum which sustains the dome, presents a continuous circular wall of books, which are accessible from the floor, or from low galleries running round the apartment; it comprises in the part open to the
about volumes of books of reference and standard works, and in the part round the galleries more than volumes of the principal sets of periodical publications, old and new, and in various languages.
--we use the words of the authorised
The floor of the room is occupied with
| large and smaller tables, fitted up with ample accommodation for more than readers; of these are reserved for the exclusive use of ladies, who have been admitted as |
since about the year ; ladies, however, are always at liberty to take a seat at any other table which they prefer. By the simple expedient of raising the partition down the middle of each of the larger tables so high that a reader cannot see his opposite neighbour, privacy is secured to the literary workingbees, and on entering the room when it is quite full, a stranger might at suppose that it was nearly empty. The tables are all arranged so as to converge towards the centre of the room, near which, are circular ranges of stands for the gigantic Catalogue, the entries of which--all in manuscript-fill upwards of large folio volumes, and a portion of which is thus, if not at the reader's fingers' ends, yet actually at the end of every table. In the centre is the
of the chief superintendent, whose position commands a general view of all the tables and their occupants, often between and in number, and comprising among them some of the best known names in the world of literature and learning-
says a writer in the
What a difference exists between the readingroom of to-day and that of a century ago! Not only is its whole aspect changed with regard to the building, the accommodation provided, and the regulations respecting its management and rules for admission, but the increase in the number of its
has kept equal pace with the increase in the thousands who visit the other parts of the Museum. The regulations for its management at the outset, in , were, as we have shown in the previous chapter, of the same cautious and restrictive character with those for the general establishment. Gray, the poet, was of the
| to avail himself of the opening of the room; and some mention of it will be found in or of his letters. Thus, in , dated , he writes, |
and in another letter he describes the company, which at that time consisted of only other readers, of whom were Prussians, while Dr. Stukeley, the antiquary, and a copyist made up the number. In like manner, Mr. D'Israeli tells us that when his late father, the author of
&c., frequented the reading-room, at the end of the last century, his companions never numbered half a dozen. In , after the removal of the readers' quarters to more spacious rooms, the numbers rose to nearly daily; and on the opening of the present reading-room the number was instantaneously doubled, the daily average in the year being . Those who obtain admission have at their command, arranged on the walls around them, a library of volumes, comprising books of reference of all kinds. They may at pleasure, by merely writing for what they want, obtain as many volumes as they please of a printed and manuscript library of above
|volumes, of the best and largest general collections in Europe. Their seats are furnished with every accommodation for writing and reading, and they are met on all sides with attention and civility; indeed, a nobleman in his private library may often miss facilities to be found in the readingroom of the Museum. The following are the most important directions respecting it, taken from a printed paper which is given to every reader :--|
There are various printed catalogues of portions of the collection, such as the King's Library, the Grenville Library, &c., and subsidiary catalogues to the magazines, newspapers, and serial publications, as well as to the Bibles and works illustrative of the Holy Scriptures. But the is the General Catalogue, to which reference has been already made. The entries are all made in manuscript by an army of scribes, whose daily work it is to add to it the names of all the new books which reach the Museum. These are entered under their author's name, or, where published anonymously, according to the subjects of which they treat. To the title of each book is affixed a
which, by certain figures and letters familiar to the practised eyes of the officials, though unintelligible to the outer world, gives a clue to its whereabouts on the shelves of the Leviathan Collection. Every reader who wants a book must give in writing its full title and
in order to enable the attendants to bring it to him when seated at his table. It is to be much wished that there were another catalogue as well, in order to help the literary explorer when he knows the subject of a book, but is at a loss for the name of the author whom he wishes to consult.
The New General Catalogue, having the Old Catalogue and the Supplemental Catalogue embodied in it, was begun in , and is completed to the end of letter R, the number of volumes thus far amounting to , each containing about pages. After letter R, at the present time () we have only the Old and the Supplemental Catalogues to guide us; but, in course of time, this portion will be swallowed up by the Leviathan, which is of such slow growth. The following curious and interesting information on this subject we quote from the
The chief books of reference in the readingroom, as we have already shown, are arranged on shelves round the floor of the building, and are available for readers without the necessity of writing an order for them. They are divided into Theology;
| Law; Philosophy; Fine Arts; Biography; Belles Lettres; Poets; Bibliography; Ancient Classics; Geography; Voyages and Travels; Topography; History; Literary Journals and Libraries; Encyclopaedias; Dictionaries of Languages; and lastly, Peerages and Genealogical works. To each of these subjects a separate department of the shelves is assigned; and there hangs up on every table in the room a |
which will show their order and distribution, so as to save the searcher's time.
Of the scene to be daily witnessed in the readingroom, a classic picture is presented to us by a writer in the
which we here take the liberty of quoting :--
It may be as well to add here a list of a few of the offences against the code of rules and regulations for which
have at various times been excluded from the reading-room. Writing (or making marks) in pencil as well as ink, in Museum books, manuscripts, &c., even corrections of the press and the author; damaging book-bindings, &c.; tracing and colouring without permission; leaving the library-books on the tables, instead of returning them, and obtaining the vouchers, or book-tickets; transferring reading-tickets to other persons for their use; taking books out of the reading-room; annoying lady-readers; insulting the officials; disturbing students; carrying lighted cigars into the room; uncleanly habits; conveying away the property of the trustees (for which offence, we need hardly say, a term of imprisonment has followed the exclusion); and also for employing fictitious names and initials in order to gain admission, or for passing under fictitious names and titles after admission gained. For this offence a
of some standing, a foreigner, who had fraudulently assumed a sham title of nobility, in , had his reading-ticket stopped.
Passing from the reading-room to the
we will proceed to note down a few of the many interesting works that are here preserved. At the time when the was opened, towards the close of the reign of George II., the library of printed books, as we have shown above, had already received a donation which emphatically marked it as the national library of England. This was the royal library, which had been presented to it by the king. The collection, although not large, being estimated only at about volumes, was nevertheless rich in interest, from its numerous memorials of the Tudors and the Stuarts. The volumes brought together by Henry VII. comprised a remarkable series of illuminated books on vellum, from the press of the early French printer, Anthony
| Verard. of them, a French Boethius, has a dedication addressed to the King of England, while in another copy in the library, the dedication is to the King of France; but on examination it will be found that, in the King of England's copy, the word |
has been inserted with a pen. A splendid vellum copy of the Bible of is interesting, as containing in the title-page, said to be from a design by Holbein, a figure of Henry giving the Bible to his subjects. It is something to know that
possessed a Bible; but the sacred work does not, it is true, bear marks of having been much used by its royal owner. We will not pretend to say that this is the identical copy of the Bible which was placed upon the floor by a companion of the youthful and pious
Edward VI., in order that, by standing upon it, he might reach something from a shelf in the room in which they were amusing themselves. At ail events, such an anecdote is told; and it is added that the young offender was warmly reproved by his royal playmate for his want of reverence for the Scriptures. In the same press is a copy of the New Testament which belonged to Anne Boleyn. There is also King Henry's copy of his |
the book which procured for him, from Pope Leo X., the title of
ever since borne by the British sovereigns. Of the children of Henry who successively came to the throne, there are likewise interesting memorials to be found here--in the Greek Grammar of Edward VI.; in Queen Mary's
| copy of Bandello's novels, which, it is asserted, supplied many of the plots for Shakespeare's plays; and in the volume of the |
the book privately printed in England; the last-named work is handsomely bound in embroidered velvet, and was presented to Queen Elizabeth by its author, Archbishop Parker. Another volume, which must once have belonged to the royal collection, but which came to the Museum through the bequest of a private gentleman, is Queen Elizabeth's copy of the book printed in Anglo-Saxon, the edition of the Gospels superintended by John Fox, who, as a memorandum in the title-page assures us, personally presented it to the queen. There are numerous memorials of James I., in books offered to him by the universities, the synod of Dort, &c.; and of his unfortunate successor, Charles I., there are the volumes of almanacks in which he scribbled his name when Prince of Wales; then there is Bacon's
printed at Oxford in , which contains apophthegms inserted by King Charles with his own hand. Here, too, are some beautifully-bound volumes of the Protestant nuns of Huntingdonshire, the illustrated
this work was brought to the king, by Nicholas Ferrar, , and a minute account of the delightful reception of it by his Majesty will be found in the
Among the books which belonged to Charles II. is a fine copy of the edition of the
The collection of pamphlets and publications bearing on the state of public affairs during the time of the Civil War, is of great interest. It was commenced in , at the very outbreak of the rupture between the King and the Parliament, by George Thomason, a bookseller of , who, observing the direction which public affairs were taking, and the extraordinary activity of the press, conceived the idea of collecting all the pamphlets and publications on either side, from folios to broadsides, as they made their appearance.
says the author of the article in the
That portion of the library which passed to the national repository from George III. was originally collected in Buckingham House. There, as we have shown in a previous chapter, Dr. Johnson frequently consulted its books.
writes Mr. John Timbs, in his
As to the formation of the King's Library, Sir Henry Ellis informs us in his
on the subject of the Museum collections, that it was commenced in the year , by the purchase of the library of an
at Venice, and subsequently enriched by the spoils of the libraries of the Jesuits, consequent on the suppression of that Order on the Continent, when many fine and rare books were to be bought at low prices. It is worthy of remark that the King's Books are kept separate from the rest, and that there is also, as we have already stated, a separate catalogue. In the centre of the King's Library are several upright glazed show-cases, in which are displayed for a time such prints and engravings as may be bequeathed to the Museum, before their final
|consignment to the room set apart to the Department of Prints, &c.|
Of smaller collections which have found their way, either by bequest or by purchase, on to the shelves of the Museum, may be mentioned a large and choice collection of Bibles belonging to Dr. Charles Combe, bought in as a nucleus; a large group of books on the topography of Italy, presented by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, in , and distinct batches of tracts on the French Revolution, acquired by purchase, and amounting to about articles, which form a sort of pendant to the Thomason collection spoken of above. In a most valuable addition was made to the library by a bequest of the Right Hon. Thomas Grenville. Mr. Grenville, who had signed the treaty of American Independence in , died in the full possession of his faculties in the last named year, upwards of years of age. In a codicil to his will, dated in , he thus expresses himself:--
It is devoutly to be wished that other holders of sinecures had been equally conscientious. The collection comprised upwards of volumes, and is said to have cost more than . This library is kept in a, room entirely set apart for it, on the east side of the entrance-hall. In both the Royal Library and the Grenville Library are a number of tables with show-cases, in which some of the choicest literary treasures are displayed. In the case devoted to the earliest production of the printing-press of Germany, there is a copy of the Latin Bible, known as the
because the copy which attracted notice in modern times was discovered in the library of Cardinal Mazarine. It is supposed to have been issued from the press of Guttenburg about the year . This book, according to general belief the earliest that was ever printed, is here in company with the Latin Psalter of , printed by Faust and Scheffer; this is said to be the earliest book bearing a date, and it is renowned for the splendour of its initial letter, printed in colours.
Of the specimens of the earliest productions of the printing-press in England, which are here preserved, are, of course, several from the press set up by Caxton in , towards the close of the century. These include
--the book printed in England-, and the English version of Aesop's Fables. Then there are some real treasures in the various old copies of the Scriptures that have found a safe keeping; and among them are the Elector of Saxony's copy of Martin Luther's translation of the Bible; Myles Coverdale's Bible, bearing the date of , the printed in England; and Martin Luther's own copy of the German Bible, which is dated . The collection of autographs is very large and valuable, and full of interest, being limited not to those of persons who belong to modern history, but to
Among them are the [extra_illustrations.4.513.1] (), on a copy of Montaigne's
translated by Florio, printed in ; of Milton, on a copy of Aratus, printed at Paris; of Ben Jonson, on the presentation copy of his
to John Florio; of Lord Bacon, on a copy of the works of Fulgentius; of Bentley, and of Martin Luther, , in the, copy of the Bible mentioned above. The same copy was afterwards in the possession of Melancthon, who, in , wrote a long note, still preserved, on the fly-leaf of the volume. Handwritings and letters of Edward IV., V., and VI.; Richard III. (application to the Duke of Gloucester for the loan of a ); Richard II. (document concerning the surrender of Brest), Henry VII., Queen Anne Boleyn, Knox, Calvin, Erasmus, Ridley, Cranmer, Latimer, Queen Mary, Bonner, Sir Thomas More, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Isaac Newton, Cardinal Wolsey, Galileo, Hampden, Sidney, Burghley, Tasso, Drake, Hawkins, Oliver Cromwell, Queen Elizabeth, Lady Jane Grey, Addison, Leibnitz, Dryden, Franklin, Charles I. and II., James II., Voltaire, George I., II., and III., William III., Queen Anne, Pope, Sully, Marlborough, Gustavus Adolphus, Emperor Charles V., Henry IV. of France, Francis I. of France, Peter the Great, Emperor of Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia, Napoleon Bonaparte, Catherine de Medici, Mary Queen of Scots (part of her will in her own handwriting in French), Louis XIV. of France, pen-and-ink sketch of Battle of Aboukir by Nelson, Conde, Turenne, Washington, Wellington, Sir Walter Scott, T. B. Macaulay, and Charles Dickens. Some of the autograph stores in the Museum are exhibited under glass cases in the Manuscript Department; many of those which are not so exhibited are published in Sir Henry Ellis's
documents, which form part and parcel of the history of England, will be found among the historical treasures of the Museum. of these is superscribed-
The rupture between King John and the Pope, as all readers of history know, had lasted for several years. How that in the end the Pope declared that John had forfeited his crown, released his subjects from their allegiance, proclaimed a crusade against England, and commissioned the French king to execute it; and how that John eventually surrendered to the Pontiff, acknowledged his appointment to the primacy of the English Church, consented to do homage to the Pope, and finally drew up the charter cited in the Bull now before us, in which he formally
--all these things are matters of history; and fortunately the actual voucher for the transaction is here to convince the most sceptical.
The other historical deed is a time-worn and highly-valued piece of parchment, bearing the signatures (or copy of the signature) of King John and several of the Barons--the famous Magna Charta. This is enclosed within a glass frame, and has a fragment of the [extra_illustrations.4.514.1] totally defaced, depending from it. After the injury sustained by this unfortunate document, when the library in which it was formerly kept (the Cottonian) was nearly all destroyed by an accidental fire, at Ashburnham House, in , it was carefully extended upon coarse canvas; but through the effects of time and other circumstances, the ink has become very pale, and the writing is now nearly illegible. Many years ago, however, an admirable fac-simile of the deed, in its original state, was made by permission of the trustees; this is surrounded by the arms of the barons who witnessed the [extra_illustrations.4.514.2] , and is placed side by side with the original.
Mr. John Timbs, in his
says that this copy of Magna Charta is
Mr. Richard Thomson, the author of
published in , observes that
We have space to notice only or other ancient charters in this part of the collection. of these is the Bull of Pope Leo X., conferring on Henry VIII. the title of
This document was also injured by the fire which partly destroyed the Cottonian Collection. of the oldest English charters is the title to Battle Abbey, in Sussex, granted by William the Conqueror. This once famous ecclesiastical foundation owed its origin to the battle of Hastings, which decided the Norman conquest, in . The abbey was commenced by the Conqueror the year after.
Another of the treasures of the Cottonian Collection is what antiquaries supposed to be the oldest royal letter in existence--a short note from King Henry V. to the Bishop of Durham, dated .
The history of the Manuscript Department, of which the Harleian, Sloanean, and Cottonian manuscripts formed the nucleus, is in its general outline similar to that of the Printed Book Department, but its development has, of course, not been so immense. It was formed at the outset by the union of great collections, the above mentioned, to which shortly afterwards were added the manuscripts of the ancient royal library of England. Old scholastic divinity abounds in this department; but
says Sir Henry Ellis,
The department contains also many volumes enriched by the finest illuminators of different countries, in a succession of periods to the century; a numerous assemblage of the domestic music-books of Henry VIII.; and the
of King James I., in his own handwriting. This latter work is a treatise on the art of government, addressed by the king to his promising son, Prince Henry, who died young, and
Among the other literary treasures of the Museum is a copy of the earliest newspaper, so-called the , which, by authority, was imprinted at London by her Highness's printer, in ; in fact, there are several such papers, printed while the Spanish fleet was hovering about in the English Channel in that year.
observes D'Israeli, in his
The newspaper in the collection is printed in Roman type, not in black letter, and contains the usual articles of news like the of the present day. Under the date of in that year, for instance, there is a notice of the Scots' Ambassador being introduced to Sir F. Walsingham, and having an audience of her Majesty, to whom he gave a letter from the King, his master, assuring her of his firm adhesion to her interests, and those of the Protestant faith.
The came into the possession of the Museum in , through a bequest of Dr. Birch; and from , when George Chalmers called attention to it, it had been looked on not merely as the English newspaper, but the in the world--
says Sir Henry Ellis,
Many of the genuine early newspapers were acquired by the Museum in the purchase of the library and collections of Dr. Burney; of the oldest is dated in , and it is mainly occupied with
Till long after this period occasional pamphlets and tracts served the purpose of the newspaper, which did not assume anything like its present character till after the Revolution of . Macaulay, in his
describes the earlier efforts of our countrymen at newspaper literature. He mentions that in nothing like the London daily paper of our time existed, or could exist, for want of capital, skill, and freedom. The political conflicts which preceded the Civil War gave rise to a number of publications, which are thus described:
With reference to the writes Macaulay,
In there were London newspapers published weekly. In Queen Anne's reign, in , they had increased to eighteen, including daily paper. In the reign of George I. there were daily, weekly, and times a week. The collection of newspapers in the Museum was commenced by Sir Hans Sloane. The Burney Collection was added to these in , at the cost of .
From the Stamp Office was directed to supply to the Museum its copies of London newspapers after the lapse of years, a lapse which had previously converted them into a
and consigned them to destruction as waste paper to be sent to the mill. The English country newspapers were not regularly added to the library till about ; the Scotch in , and the Irish not until even some years later. Numerous files of Continental and American newspapers have been added at different times. On the ground floor of the library, surrounding the reading-room, large shelves of newspapers occupy the sides of a circular passage about feet in length. The newspapers here are not confined to particular languages or dialects, countries, provinces, or cities; they are in every language, and come from places situated in all parts of the world. But while there are numerous foreign and colonial series of papers complete or nearly so, those of Great Britain generally, and those of London especially, are the most extensive, and probably the most perfect.
For the augmentation of the collection of English books, reliance had been placed, in the earlier stages of the Museum, on its legal rights.
We learn from the |
that the donation of the Royal Library to the Museum by George II., in , was accompanied by that of the royal privilege of claiming from the publishers a gratuitous copy of every work printed in the English dominions. This had been granted to the Crown by an Act of Parliament of the of Charles II., and subsequently renewed after its expiry by the famous Copyright Act of the of Queen Anne. This does not include privatelyprinted books, in which department our national collection is not so rich as it should be; neither does it extend to the printed papers of the , consequence of which is that in our great National Library there is no complete set of Parliamentary Blue-books to be found, and that there never is a specimen less than or years old. Dr. Bentley, when keeper of the Royal Library, complained of the constant evasion of the above-mentioned Act by the booksellers; and the complaints were often renewed by the librarians of the Museum, though from about the year II, when Mr. Barber, then keeper of the printed books, gave some curious evidence on the subject before the Copyright Committee, there was certainly a
| great improvement. The new Copyright Act of gave a pre-eminence to the Museum among other libraries to which the privilege was conceded, and provided that, in case of non-compliance with the Act, the negligent publisher might be taken before a magistrate and fined. In , the superintendence of this part of the Museum business was transferred to Mr. Panizzi, as keeper of the Printed Book Department, and the strictness with which he enforced the Act led to a great augmentation in the number of books received. At present, all is collected that issues from the English press down to the most insignificant work on crochet, a Child's Missionary Magazine, the directory of a country town, or a circulating library novel; and everything that is collected finds its place on the shelves and in the catalogue, in the conviction that it may often be a point of importance to preserve copy of even a worthless work in a repository where it may instantly be referred to in case of need. A different system prevailed in former days, when it does not seem to have struck a single individual that it might probably be of advantage to preserve a set of the |
and a complete collection of either is, in consequence, not
|to be found in the , or apparently anywhere else.|
As to whether this library or that of the Louvre in Paris has the most books, is a disputed point; probably we are below the Louvre in manuscripts, and about equal to it in the number of printed books. Owing, however, to the regulation already mentioned referring only to books published in the kingdoms, it is not every foreign work that will be found here. Books published in India and the colonies ought to be sent to the , but there seems to be some difficulty in the way of enforcing this right. Also with regard to foreign books, a few are sent in order to comply with the regulations for securing the rights of international copyright; but here, too, the rule is not carried out very strictly.
The author of the
in , thus speaks of the library:
As we have notified above, the statement here regarding the arrears of foreign works may perhaps hold good even at the
|present time; but with reference to the general arrangement and selection of books of reference, considerable improvement has been made since the erection of the present reading-room, and the consequent increase in the space devoted to the purposes of the library. At the close of the year the entire number of volumes in the library amounted to about , besides which there was a much larger number of parts of volumes.|
Although there is a very large number of prints, drawings, and photographs kept with the collection of printed books and manuscripts, and accessible to students in the reading-room and the apartment attached to the manuscript-room, the most extensive and valuable works of these descriptions are preserved in a separate division of the Museum, called the Department of Prints and Drawings, and are open to the inspection only of persons who hold cards of admission to that department. Members of the Royal Academy are admitted to this room without any recommendation or letter of introduction; they have merely to make a written application, addressed to the principal librarian of the Museum. Other persons are admitted upon applying by letter to the same individual-very much as in the case of readers-and forwarding a written recommendation from some person of standing, either as an artist or otherwise. , Drawing and sketching are very freely allowed in this department; and every facility is given for copying; but as the drawings are irreplaceable, and the whole collection intended for
it is scarcely necessary to add that the greatest care of the works entrusted to students is earnestly enjoined. The entrance to this department is in the western range of the building, at the north end of the main gallery of Egyptian antiquities.
For the most part, the Civil Service of the Crown is officered by natives of the United Kingdom; but to this rule the Museum appears to form an exception, as the names of several foreigners figure among its , and out of its chief librarians, half have been of foreign extraction. None of its earlier heads are men who have left any deep marks behind them, though Mr. Joseph Planta, of Swiss extraction, who held that post in the reign of George III. and George IV., became Secretary of the Treasury, a member of Parliament, and a Privy Councillor. His successor, Sir Henry Ellis, who died in , at the age of upwards of , was, however, a man of deep and varied learning, and is widely known as the editor of the best complete edition of Dugdale's
Sir Antonio Panizzi, to whom, as already stated, is due the erection of the great central reading-room, is a native of Brescello, in Italy. He came to England as a refugee, and, obtaining the patronage of Lord Brougham, was nominated to an assistantlibrarian- ship in the Museum; and, on a vacancy occurring in the keepership of printed books, he received that appointment. Some years later he was promoted to the principal librarianship. On his retirement, in , he was succeeded by Mr. J. Winter Jones, whose knowledge of books and manuscripts is probably unrivalled in England.
Mr. Thomas Watts entered the Museum in , and very soon afterwards distinguished himself by the prominence he gave to this national collection among the libraries of the world for the thoroughness with which Sclavonic literature and the literature of Hungary were represented in it. During the interval between the years and the arrangement of the books in the library was under the management of Mr. Watts, and every volume in the library thus passed through his hands. When the new reading-room was opened in , it was placed under the direction of Mr. Watts, and he presided there until the retirement of Sir A. Panizzi, in , when he became keeper of the Department of Printed Books, an office which he held down to the time of his death, in .
of the former keepers of the Department of Prints and Drawings was Mr. John T. Smith, the author of the
and other antiquarian works of high merit. He was the son of Mr. Nathaniel Smith, a sculptor, and afterwards a wellknown printseller of , and, as we have stated in a previous chapter, was literally born in a hackney-coach in the year , whilst his mother was proceeding to her residence in . At an early age, young Smith commenced studying drawing at the Royal Academy, and he was for many years a drawingmaster, and at time resided at Edmonton. His name, however, has been handed down to us as the author of some useful and entertaining topographical works on the metropolis, and also of the
&c. Mr. Smith died in , having held his post nearly half a century. In the album of a friend, the late Mr. W. Upcott, he wrote a playful account of himself, in which he observed:
It may interest the curious reader to learn the names of some, at least, of the more celebrated literary men of the last or generations who have made the library and reading-room the frequent scene of their researches. Among them have been Sir James Mackintosh, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Lamb, Washington Irving, William Godwin, Dean Milman, Leigh Hunt, Hallam, Macaulay, Grote, Tom Campbell, Sir E. Bulwer- Lytton, Edward Jesse, Charles Dickens, Douglas Jerrold, Thackeray, Shirley Brooks, Mark Lemon, and Count Stuart d'. Lord Macaulay, it may be added, when at work upon his
used to sit day after day, not in the large readingroom, but in the King's Library, where, in virtue of being a trustee, he had the right of taking down with his own hands from the shelves the numerous pamphlets which he desired to consult and search, without the attendance and aid of an assistant. We are told, in his
by Mr. Trevelyan, that the place where he used to sit was a little desk near the centre of the room, and away from the wall, in order to obtain better light.
Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince Consort on occasion visited the library. The only object for which Her Majesty asked in the MS. department was the paper signed at the foot by the prince who afterwards became Charles II. This was the piece of paper which, when his father's life was in the balance, he sent to Cromwell with the message,
Among the foreigners of note who have frequented the library and reading-room, either as visitors or as
may be mentioned the names of Guizot, Thiers, Louis Napoleon (who, after his escape from the fortress of Ham, was introduced to the library by Count D'Orsay and the Countess of Blessington, in order to glean materials for his book upon artillery practice), Louis Philippe, when he came to England as an exile, Count Cavour, and Garibaldi.
[extra_illustrations.4.502.2] Mr. Sydney Smirke
[extra_illustrations.4.503.1] E. A. Bond, Librarian of British Museum
 See ante, p. 64.
[extra_illustrations.4.513.1] signatures of W. Shakspere
[extra_illustrations.4.514.2] king's act