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Proceedings.

SHORT COMMUNICATIONS, ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS,

AND DISCUSSIONS.

VISIT TO SALFORD FREE LIBRARY AND MUSEUM.

The members of the Club, to the number of sixty or more, paid a visit on Tuesday, June 12, to the Free Library and Museum of the Borough of Salford in Peel Park. They assembled in the first instance in the library, where Mr. John Plant, F.G.S., the curator and chief librarian, showed some of the book rarities in the collection, including the copies of old and rare newspapers. Of the Manchester newspapers, the earliest dated 1736, the specimens form almost a complete series. Of course, of the majority only single copies have been obtained, but these suffice to show the character of each. From the library the party proceeded to the galleries in the museum upstairs, and here Mr. Plant indicated the plan of the classification, and pointed out several of the more interesting objects. The first room contains specimens of the workmanship of various nations, including the fine handiwork of the Japanese, the Persians, and other Eastern peoples. In the second room are arranged an ordered series of textile fabrics, of.. every variety. The examples of the cotton industry are exceptionally full and perfect, and Mr. Plant remarked that the cases containing them attracted more attention from the bulk of the working class visitors (themselves mainly engaged in the cotton manufacture) than any other department of the Museum. Referring to the portraits hung round the room, Mr. Plant said that many of them were original, the others being copies. The late Alderman Agnew had conceived the idea that he would make a collection of all portraits of the celebrated men belonging to Lancashire, but especially to Manchester, He carried out that idea partially, and the

VISIT TO SALFORD FREE LIBRARY AND MUSEUM.

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Museum had received from him as a donation all the portraits he had been able to collect. Mr. Plant then pointed out several of the original paintings, which include portraits of Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Bridgewater, and others. One of the most valuable is the portrait of Lawrence Sterne, which, it is believed, was the work of Gainsborough. It is certainly an extremely fine work. Bradley's portrait of Isherwood, the famous Manchester tenor, was pointed out. It had been sent by the Free Library and Museum Committee to the International Exhibition, and had there attracted admiring attention as a work of art. The autograph corridor, the natural history rooms, the sculpture hall, and the geological and mineralological gallery, were successively visited, and the company then adjourned again to the library, where Mr. Plant read a paper on the Importance of Museums in the Educacation of the People. Mr. J. H. Nodal, president, occupied the chair.

Mr. PLANT said he wished to combat the idea he heard expressed, and sometimes met with in print, that popular public museums gathered together a rabble of people at holiday times, who simply trooped the rooms and looked at the objects in an indifferent, promiscuous, and ignorant manner, and went away without carrying with them any benefit to their minds or bodies, and that museums and libraries were not doing the duty which was hoped they would do. After an experience of twenty-seven years within these walls, he could tell them that idea was not a correct one. This was the first free library which was established, but not the first free museum. By the influence the late Mr. Joseph Brotherton and Mr. Langworthy were able to bear upon the Town Council of the day, the library was started with a fair prospect of being useful to the district. It began with 9,000 fair volumes. About six months after the opening of the library they were able to open two rooms as a museum. It was soon found that the place was too popular for its size, and Mr. Langworthy at once said: "We will build a new wing, to cost £6,000; the Town Council can contribute what they like towards its cost out of the rates, and I will find the rest." The result was that the north wing was added to the building. That was found not to be sufficient, but through the liberality of Mr. Langworthy and the Town Council (who on this occasion were more liberal than formerly), the south wing was also erected. When Mr. Langworthy died, he left a bequest of £10,000 to the museum, and at present they were engaged in making an extension of the building which would cost £6,000. The remaining £4,000 would be devoted to the purchase of articles to fill up the space which would be obtained 'by the new addition. When this was done, he felt satisfied that Salford would possess an institution which would be a pride to the borough and to the council of the borough, and would be an

1728 example of what other boroughs as wealthy as Salford might do if they had the energy and will to do it. The library possessed 35,000 volumes. As was the case with the most libraries, ninety out of every hundred volumes were never reached from the shelves. The number of visitors to the place was something astonishing. About fifteen million visitors had passed through the museum. The number who made use of the library and reading room averaged about four hundred daily. There were also two branch libraries in Regent Road and Greengate, and another branch was about to be opened in Pendleton. What more a corporation could do for the intellectual and physical advantage of the people he could not in his imagination invent. Mr. Plant then referred more particularly to the subject of the importance of the museums in the education of the people.

VISIT TO SALFORD FREE LIBRARY AND MUSEUM.

The PRESIDENT said the Literary Club had two objects in view in visiting such an institution as the one in which they were assembled, namely, to ascertain what materials were at the command of the student and the scholar in the libraries and museums of the district, and to see how far those stores of knowledge were doing the work for which they were designed among the people. Mr. Plant had expressed an opinion that the corporation of Salford had now done all that lay in their power. They had provided excellent and abundant opportunities for the acquisition of knowledge, and probably could go no further, having accomplished as much as was possible. He (the President) thought, however, that public libraries might be made very much more useful and serviceable by the institution, in connection with them, of popular addresses by competent men, on methods of study and reading and on the best books in the several departments of knowledge. Mr. Emerson, the American author, urged the appointment of professors of books, men who knew what books to recommend and tell people how they should be used. To the vast majority of would-be readers a library was a maze, a puzzle, a perplexity. Corporations were not called upon to provide such professors of books, but they might perhaps be induced to give opportunities for the delivery of such addresses. A similar plan would also increase the usefulness of museums.

Mr. H. H. HowORTH proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Plant for his services on the occasion. He remarked on the absence in Manchester of any such art gallery and museum as that of Peel Park, and said he thought Mr. Plant had somewhat undervalued the indirect influences of art galleries. There was no doubt that of late years there had been a perceptible increase in the good taste of the mass of the people, which he attributed in a great measure to their more ready access to picture exhibitions and familiarity with objects of art.

Mr. GEORGE MILNER, in seconding the motion, expressed an

opinion that museums were generally overcrowded. The exhibition of fewer objects would prove more effective, both in a popularly attractive and educational sense. He endorsed the President's suggestion as to the desirability of establishing a system of popular addresses as a guide to readers, and also advocated the formation of small educational libraries in connection with the free libraries, such educational collections to contain a few of the best books in each branch of knowledge.

The motion was passed unanimously.

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VISIT TO THE CHETHAM LIBRARY.

The second meeting of the recess was held on Tuesday evening, June 19, in the Chetham Library, in the refectory of which, by permission of the feoffees, a selection of the most remarkable manuscripts and printed books had been arranged by Mr. Wm. E. A. Axon, the Honorary Secretary of the Club, and Mr. Hanby, the Governor of Chetham's Hospital. The attendance of the members was large. After about an hour had been spent in the inspection of the books, the company were conducted through the library by Mr. Hanby, who pointed out the arrangement and classification of the several departments, and the portraits which hang upon the wall of the reading room and the separate room devoted to the Byrom library. The three new rooms recently taken on the ground floor for the extension of the library accommodation, the cloisters, and the audit room were also visited, after which the members returned to the refectory, where the president (Mr. Nodal) called upon Mr. Axon to describe the collection on the tables. Mr. AXON said there were more than two hundred volumes before them. Had they brought four hundred, there would still remain double that number with equal claims upon the attention of book lovers and students. Amongst the MSS. was a vellum MS. of Roger Bacon's medical treatises, dating from the thirteenth century; another of St. Augustine, and a Vulgate Bible of the fourteenth century. Of the fifteenth century was a MS. of the wonderful travels of Sir John Mandeville, that strange mixture of credulity and shrewdness. This copy showed that the original text had been in French, a point which had been disputed. There was an interesting Wyklyffite version of the New Testament, a vellum MS. of Alain Chartier, which had formerly belonged to the La Vallière collection; a copy of Higden's Polychronicon; a curious Kalendar, with an astronomical volvelle of which the stylus had been preserved. There was a MS. of the Prayers of the saintly John Bradford, the Manchester martyr; the Common-place Book of Dean Nowell; and many collections illustrative of local

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