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you?-Sometimes I am sent for into the room. Is there that general consultation and cordial intercourse which is satisfactory to you as head of your department?—Certainly not.” (4590-1.) The examination continues:
“Supposing the management of the Museum were vested in the heads of the departments, as a committee for the general management of the institution, subordinate to the board of principal trustees, what is your opinion of such a mode of managing the Museum in future ?-I think benefit might accrue to the institution by it, as all the reports made by the respective officers of their proceedings; all proposals for increasing the collections of the Museum, by purchase, or by any other means; and all suggestions for the benefit of the establishment, would, by being previously submitted to the consideration of the officers, and discussed by them at their board, come before the trustees in a shape and manner, and with an authority which would cause them to attract the attention of the trustees more forcibly, perhaps, than they do now in many instances. Such a meeting of the officers might further tend to promote amongst them a more general interest in the welfare of the Museum, and bring before each other's notice observations and suggestions respecting each other's departments, which, under present circumstances, they think it intrusive and impertinent to make." (4731.) And Mr. Panizzi, in his subsequent evidence on the same subject, assigns reasons which appear to be conclusive why the assistantkeepers (having custody) should form part of the board. Such is, in many foreign museums, the established custom.
Subdivision of natural history de;'artment.
The subdivision of departments does by no means appear to have been carried sufficiently far. The fossil animals are quite extensive and important enough to form a separate department, and are certainly more closely connected with zoology than with mineralogy. A geological arrangement of fossils should form another department, or rather a department including with these those geological collections, not at present possessed by the Museum, but which, sooner or later, must be added to it. Such, for example, as a collection of rocks, arranged economically; a collection of rocks, arranged topographically; and a collection of rocks, arranged according to position, &c. And it will
probably soon become highly expedient to make arrangements for the care and preservation of the zoological collections in their distinct subdivisions of vertebrata -mollusca-articulata-radiata. This department of the Museum (perhaps more than any other) appears heretofore to have been deprived of its due share of attention ;* but it is now rapidly improving. Dr. Horsfield has very justly pointed out how de- Evid. B.M.
II., 2546, ficient we have been in availing ourselves of the many et seq. naval and colonial advantages which we have possessed for the improvement of our collections. In this the Dutch have immensely outstripped us.
And “ France" Ib. 2713. adds Mr. Gray, one of our curators of zoology, "has also a number of collectors in its service, called travelling naturalists, of whom there are no less than eight constantly employed in different parts of the world, for the express purpose of making collections, Indeed there is no facility which the government can give them (i. e. the collections at the Jardin des Plantes) which is not given.”
The correspondence of the trustees of the British Museum, with the lords of Her Majesty's treasury, even respecting the desired completion of buildings long decided upon, shows a state of things in this country
• There has been singular disproportion in the sums devoted to the increase of the various collections, small as these sums have been altogether. In the five years following 1830, the sum spent in printed books was £4,905, and that on MSS. £7,397, together £12,302; and at the end of this period an extra grant of £2,000. But the antiquities (by far the richest department in 1830) bad, during this period, £12,457, with an extra grant of £8,000. While the natural history departments altogether, extra grant (of £1,310 for Mr. Hawkins's fossils) included, had but about £6,500; and these are the collections which, in 1830,' were indisputably the poorest. Doubtless all these sums ought to be increased, but still it is and always will be desirable thạt the apportionment have some relation to the special wants of the several departments.
very different indeed. Yet the lingering way in which New build- the new buildings are carried on, not only seriously ings.
diminishes the public usefulness of the Museum, but
Few points of detail, in the internal management of the Museum, are more important than the provision of good catalogues, as has been already insisted upon. Ample evidence was adduced before the committee to show the great importance and entire practicability of classed catalogues, or indices, both of printed books and MSS., published in parts or faculties, for separate sale. Sir Harris Nicolas describes the printing and publishing such catalogues as a “sine qua non, if the contents of the British Museum library are really to be made useful to the public.”
Mr. Forshall, while agreeing that “a well-digested and full-classed index of subjects” to an alphabetical catalogue has some advantages over a general classed catalogue, properly so called, is still of opinion that it is also desirable to publish catalogues of the lastmentioned kind
“of the books, in some five or six branches of knowledge, which are limited in their extent and definite in their nature.
I mean such as: 1, the physical sciences; 2, the arts of design, and the mechanical arts; 3, British history; 4, British topography; 5, bibliography, and a few others.” And he continues: “I may perhaps be allowed to take the opportunity of suggesting, whether in the annual lists published each year, the books might not with advantage be disposed alphabetically in classes, so that a reader might find within the compass of a few pages what new books, in his own par. ticular line of reading or research, had been added to the library in the course of the preceding year." These appear to me to be most excellent suggestions.
The following points in the evidence of Mr. John Murray, the eminent publisher, respecting catalogues, are highly deserving of attention: “Your opinion is adverse to the publication of catalogues in Evidence
of Mr. folio ?-I consider it an utter waste of money and destroying the
John very object. Have you any decided opinion as to the value of Murray classed and alphabetical catalogues?—To publish a classed catalogue respecting would be ten times more valuable than an alphabetical catalogue.
catalogues. Would it be more useful in a literary point of view ?-I think it would be of the greatest value in the world. In your opinion would a classed catalogue be not only valuable in a literary point of view, but also successful as a commercial speculation ?-Yes. I think I could publish it safely at my own expense.
My opinion is, that I would undertake the expense of it, if it were given me thoroughly digested. In fact, having the MS., you would under. take all the other expenses connected with the publication ?-Yes.” (Ev. II., 3750 to 3761.)
I have gone so much into detail on this subject of catalogues, because it is one so intimately connected with the improvement of the British Museum in relation to its highest objects. It was but too truly said by Mr. Panizzi, in his evidence as to the past: “Public opinion is exercised only upon one of the purposes for which the British Museum was instituted; that is, upon its establishment as a show place. Unfortunately, as to its most important and most noble purpose, as an establishment for the furtherance of education, for study and research, the public seem to be [to have been?] almost indifferent. content that my assertion be tested by the feeling which is expressed in the House of Commons when the Museum Ev. ut sup. is mentioned in that assembly.”
Nothing will do more to elevate the public conception of the proper character of the Museum than a continuance of that growing spirit of liberality towards such objects on the part of Parliament, of which of late there has been repeated evidence, and which has been attributed by a principal trustee of the British Museum-his Grace
the Archbishop of Canterbury—“to the improvements that have taken place in the Museum itself; to the greater facilities of admission; to the general improvement in the taste of the people for such objects as the Museum presents to their view; and to the effect which these circumstances must have on the members of the government, by showing them that a [large] expenditure of money in thut way will be rather approved by the people than otherwise."