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The sum voted for general purposes, in the first year after the foundation, was 20001., and last year, as above, 45,406. The mean annual average of the sums granted, both for general purposes and for buildings, during the last twenty-four years, is 54,1051.

We have ventured into these numerical details, partly because they appear deserving of more notice than they are likely to obtain while scattered among some five-and-twenty several parliamentary papers, (one of these, the Report of the Select Committee of the Commons on the British Museum in 1835, 36, containing upwards of 1500 folio pages ;) and partly because we wish to do the amplest justice to the past and present liberality of parliament, whilst earnestly contending that it is still inadequate to the extent and worthiness of its object.

But our more immediate purpose, in this article, is to give a rap 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 earliestand 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 neighbours across the channel.

The honour 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 pur

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* Minutes of the Vestry of St. Martin's, (MS.) vol. v. p. 13. In a note on p. 11 of Mr. Panizzi's valuable report on the British Museum Library, to which we shall hereafter have occasion to revert, mention is made of a certain • Proposal for building a royal library, and establishing it by Act of Parliament,' as proving that the (then existing] royal library was intended for the public. There is certainly an oversight in this statement, as the Proposal' merely asserts that “the Royal Library now at St. James's' was designed and founded for public use,' without adducing a tittle of evidence in support of the assertion, in itself an improbable one, inasmuch as, were it true, there would surely be some better testimony to the fact than that contained in an anonymous broadside, dateless, and without even the name of its printer. Besides which, Archbishop Tenison says expressly, in the letter above quoted, There is not in the said precinct .... any noted library, excepting that at St. James's (which belongs to his Majestie, and to which there is no easy access.' For the rest, this · Proposal is a very curious piece. We remember to have met with it some half-dozen years ago, and to have formed the opinion that it was printed in 1716 or 1717.

suance of this proposition Dr. Tenison built a library, gave a considerable number of books, and 10001. in money.

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 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 booksabout 3000 volumes-being confined to the reading-room, whilst those of the subscription library are circulated amongst the members. The readers who frequent the former are chiefly clergymen of Westminster and its neighbourhood.



The eminent presbyterian minister, Dr. Daniel Williams, had contemplated the foundation of a public library in the metropolis, for a considerable time previous to his decease, and with this view had purchased 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 valuable, should be arranged for public use, under the management and control of a succession of trustees.

The intentions of the liberal founder were seconded by Dr. William Harris, his personal friend, who bequeathed the whole of his library, and by many other donors 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. sent 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 Christinas 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 introduc

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Catalogue, &c., preface, p. v. † Of the number of volumes &c. we do not find any official statement. The figures given above are calculated approximatively from the Catalogue before




tions, 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 Congregational Library,'t which has already 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.

Sir Hans Sloane may with justice be regarded as the founder (chronologically) of the third public library in London, and of the only extensive public library in the British empire. His collections, it is true, were nominally purchased by Parliament of his executors; but, agreeably to his will, it was at a rate greatly disproportionate to their cost and real value. In this will be says :

• Whereas from my youth I have been a great observer and admirer of the wonderful power, wisdom, and contrivance of the Almighty God, appearing in the works of his creation, and have gathered together ..... books, both printed and manuscript .. natural and artificial curiosities, precious stones .... dried plants .... and the like .... amounting in the whole to a very great sum of money: Now, desiring very much that these things, tending many ways to the manifestation of the glory of God, the confutation of atheism, and its consequences, the use and improvement of arts and sciences, and benefit of mankind, may remain together and not be separated, and that chiefly in or about the city of London, where they may by the great confluence of people be of most use, .... do hereby request that (my).... trustees .... do make their humble application to Parliament .... to pay .... 20,0001. .... unto my executors .... in consideration of the said collection, (it not being, as I apprehend and believe, a fourth of the real and intrinsic value;) and also to obtain ... sufficient and effectual powers .... for the preserving and continuing my said collection, in such manner as they shall think most likely to answer the public benefit by me intended,' &c. I

The Act, 26 Geo. II., c. 22, (1753,) directed the purchase of • Catalogue, &c. p. vi.

† It was opened with a collection of about 4000 volumes, on the 2nd Dec. 1833, and since that period has received considerable accessions. So important a design deserves, however, still more liberal support. Notices of its origin and growth may be found in the Congregational Magazine for April and May, 1834, and January, 1835, &c. (New Series, vol. x. pp. 241, 310; and vol. xi. pp. 68, 69, &c.)

* Second Report from Select Committee on Brit. Mus. (1836), App. p. 503. The will is dated 9 Oct. 1739.



Sir H. Sloane's collections, and also of a collection of MSS., commenced by the celebrated Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, and continued by his son Edward, second earl.* It further directed that one general repository should be provided for these, and for the Cottonian collection of MSS., which was already the property of the public, and also for a small library of printed books, which had been bequeathed, as an addition to the Cotton library, by Major Arthur Edwards. The sum of 300,000l. was directed to be raised, by a lottery, to defray the necessary expenses, of which sum 30,0001. was invested in the funds, as a permanent endowment.

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 muniscence, devoid of ostentation; and in that particular, as well as in others, presenting a marked contrast to certain founders of 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' books (about 2000 volumes) were not transferred to the Museum until nearly twelve years after it was opened.

In 1759, Mr. Solomon Da Costa presented 180 Hebrew books, chiefly on theology and Jewish history, and many of them both curious and valuable. In the same year, George II., by instrument under the Great Seal, presented the old royal library

* 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 its value.

† 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.



of the kings of England, consisting of 9000 volumes,* begun by Henry VII., and containing, amongst other rarities, a splendid and unique collection of the productions of the press of Antoine Verard at Paris, struck off, on vellum, expressly for that monarch. Another royal gift was made by George III., 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 classics.

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 60001., 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 10001. was voted, expressly for the purchase of works relating to the history and topography of the British Islands ;' which grant was repeated in each of the three following years. In the year 1813, a special grant was made for the purchase of the fine law library (both printed and manuscript) of Mr. Francis Hargrave, the eminent barrister, and the amount devoted to printed books was probably about 25001. 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 95001.

Report from Select Committee on the Library of George III. (April 17, 1823,)



P. 5.

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