English Book Collectors
by William Younger Fletcher
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After Walpole's death Strawberry Hill and its contents passed to the Hon. Mrs. Damer, the sculptress, daughter of his cousin, Field-Marshal Conway, together with two thousand a year for its maintenance. After residing in it for some time Mrs. Damer found the situation lonely, and gave up the house and property to the Countess Dowager Waldegrave, in whom the fee was vested under Walpole's will. In 1842, George, seventh Earl Waldegrave, to whom Strawberry Hill had descended, ordered the contents to be sold by George Robins, the well-known auctioneer. The sale was advertised to occupy twenty-four days, from April 25th to May 21st. The catalogue was badly compiled, and so much dissatisfaction was expressed at the intention of selling some of the collections en masse, that the contents of the seventh and eighth days' sale, which consisted of prints, drawings, and illustrated books, were withdrawn, re-catalogued, and disposed of at a sale at Robins's rooms at Covent Garden, which lasted from the 13th to the 23rd of June. The amount realised at the sale at Strawberry Hill was twenty-nine thousand six hundred and twelve pounds, sixteen shillings and threepence; and at that in London, three thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven pounds, fifteen shillings and sixpence. The library, consisting of books, manuscripts, prints, etc., sold for about seven thousand seven hundred and forty pounds. The copy of the Psalms, with illuminations ascribed to Giulio Clovio, fetched four hundred and forty-one pounds; the volume of English poetry, two hundred and twenty pounds, ten shillings; the 'Missal' executed for Queen Claude, one hundred and fifteen pounds, ten shillings; and the manuscripts and letters of Madame du Deffand, one hundred and fifty-seven pounds, ten shillings.

RALPH WILLETT, 1719-1795

Ralph Willett, the collector of the famous Merly Library, was born in 1719. He was the elder son of Henry Willett, of the island of St. Christopher in the West Indies. In 1736 he matriculated at the University of Oxford from Oriel College, but did not take a degree; and in 1739 he was admitted a student at Lincoln's Inn. Willett early developed a taste for books and pictures, and his inheritance of the family estates in the West Indies, on the death of his father in 1740, enabled him to form splendid collections of them. In 1751 he purchased a property at Merly, near Wimborne, Dorsetshire, where in 1752 he built a noble mansion, which later he enlarged by adding two wings, in one of which he constructed a handsome room for a library, which he ornamented with frescoes and arabesque designs. A description of this library, written by Willett in English and French, was printed in 1776 in octavo, and reprinted in 1785 by John Nichols in a large folio volume, with twenty-five illustrations of the designs. His London house was in Dean Street, Soho. Willett was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1763, and contributed two papers on The Origin of Printing to the Archaeologia, which were reprinted at Newcastle in 1818-20; and a third on British Naval Architecture. In 1764 he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died on the 13th of January 1795. Willett, who was twice married, but left no issue, bequeathed his property to his cousin John Willett Adye, who took the name of Willett, and was M.P. for New Romney from 1796 to 1806. This gentleman, shortly before his death, which occurred on 26th of September 1815, parted with the collections which had been left to him. The pictures were sold by Peter Coxe and Co. on May 31st, 1813, and two following days, and the books by Leigh and Sotheby on December 6th, and sixteen following days. The same auctioneers also sold the botanical drawings, of which there was a large number, on the 20th and 21st of December; and the books of prints on the 20th of February in the succeeding year. The books were disposed of in two thousand seven hundred and twenty lots, and realised thirteen thousand five hundred and eight pounds, four shillings. The sale catalogue states that the library consisted of 'a most rare assemblage of the early printers, fine specimens of block-printing, old English chronicles, etc., in the finest preservation, likewise an extensive and magnificent collection of books in every department of literature, from the earliest period to the present time. All the books are in the finest condition, many printed on vellum and on large paper, and bound in morocco and russia leathers. Likewise a most splendid missal; and a very choice selection of botanical drawings, by Van Huysum, Taylor, Brown, Lee, etc.'

The block-books in the collection comprised a Biblia Pauperum, which realised two hundred and fifty-seven pounds, five shillings; the first and another edition of the Speculum Humanae Salvationis, which sold for three hundred and fifteen pounds and two hundred and fifty-two pounds; and the Apocalypse of St. John, which fetched forty-two pounds. There were seven Caxtons—the first edition of the Dictes or Sayings of the Philosophers, Tully of Old Age, the Polychronicon, the second edition of the Game of the Chesse, the Confessio Amantis, the second edition of the Mirrour of the World, and Diverse Ghostly Matters. These realised altogether one thousand three hundred and eighteen pounds, sixteen shillings; the Dictes and the Confessio Amantis fetching the highest prices—three hundred and fifteen pounds, and two hundred and sixty-two pounds, ten shillings.

Some of the many other notable books in the library, and the prices obtained for them, were a copy of the Mentz Psalter of 1459 on vellum, sixty-three pounds; Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of Durandus (Mentz, 1459), one hundred and five pounds; the Catholicon of Joannes Balbus (Mentz, 1460), sixty pounds, eighteen shillings; the Constitutiones of Pope Clement V. (Mentz, 1460), sixty-six pounds, three shillings; Latin Bible (Mentz, 1462), one hundred and five pounds; the Officia of Cicero (Mentz, 1465), seventy-three pounds, ten shillings; Latin Bible on vellum (Venice, 1476), one hundred and sixty-eight pounds; Rhetorica Nova, by Laurentius de Saona (St. Albans, 1480), seventy-nine pounds, sixteen shillings; a vellum copy of the first edition of Homer (Florence, 1488), eighty-eight pounds, four shillings; a nearly complete set of De Bry's collections in seven volumes, one hundred and twenty-six pounds; and a large paper copy of Prynne's Records in three volumes, London, 1665-70, one hundred and fifty-two pounds, five shillings. The 'splendid' manuscript missal, specially mentioned in the sale catalogue, sold for one hundred and five pounds.

DR. ANTHONY ASKEW, 1722-1774

Dr. Anthony Askew, M.D., was born at Kendal, Westmoreland, in the year 1722. His father was Dr. Adam Askew, an eminent physician of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He received his education at Sedbergh School, the Grammar School of Newcastle, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He took the degree of M.B. in 1745, and that of M.D. five years later. After leaving the University he went to Leyden, where he remained twelve months studying medicine, and then undertook an extensive tour on the Continent, during which he purchased a large number of valuable books and manuscripts. Dibdin says he was well known as a collector in most parts of Europe. In 1750, having finished his travels, Askew returned to Cambridge, where he practised for some time as a physician. He afterwards removed to London, where, aided by the patronage and support of his friend Dr. Mead, he soon acquired a considerable reputation, but he is better known as a scholar than a physician. Dr. Parr entertained a very high opinion of his attainments in Greek and Roman literature. Askew was a Fellow and Registrar of the College of Physicians, and also a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died at Hampstead on the 27th of February 1774.

Dr. Askew was an indefatigable collector, and filled his house from the ground floor to the attics with rare and handsomely bound books. The library, which numbered about seven thousand volumes, was extremely rich in early editions of the Greek and Latin classics, and its owner was ambitious that it should contain every edition of a Greek author. It comprised the first editions of the De Officiis of Cicero, the Natural History of Pliny, Cornelius Nepos, the History of Ammianus Marcellinus, the Fables of AEsop, the Works of Plato, and of many other Greek and Latin writers; the greater number of them being printed on vellum. A vellum copy of the Rationale of Durandus, printed by Fust and Schoeffer at Mentz in 1459; a first edition of the Teseide of Boccaccio, printed on vellum at Ferrara in 1475; a copy of the Greek Anthology, also on vellum, printed at Florence in 1494; Tully of Old Age, printed by Caxton, and a fine vellum copy of the Tewrdannck, were a few of the other notable books in the collection.

The printed books in the library were sold by Baker and Leigh at their auction rooms in York Street, Covent Garden, on the 13th of February 1775, and the nineteen following days. The lots were three thousand five hundred and seventy in number, and realised three thousand nine hundred and ninety-three pounds and sixpence. Among the purchasers at the sale were King George III., Louis XVI., King of France, Dr. Hunter and the Rev. C.M. Cracherode. The British Museum also acquired a considerable number of the books. The manuscripts, and the printed books with manuscript notes, were sold by Leigh and Sotheby in 1785. The sale took place on March the 7th and the eight subsequent days. There were six hundred and thirty-three lots, which produced eighteen hundred and twenty-seven pounds.

Askew was the author of a manuscript volume of Greek and Latin Inscriptions, copied by him during his travels in Greece and the Levant. The collection is preserved among the Burney Manuscripts in the British Museum.

REV. C.M. CRACHERODE, 1730-1799

The Rev. Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode, to whom the British Museum is indebted for some of its most precious collections, was the son of Colonel Mordaunt Cracherode, who commanded the Marines in Anson's voyage round the world. He was born at Taplow in 1730, and was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, taking the degree of B.A. in 1750, and that of M.A. in 1753. After leaving the University he took holy orders, and for some time was curate of Binsey, near Oxford, but he did not seek any preferment in the Church. On the death of his father he inherited a fortune of about three thousand pounds a year, which enabled him to acquire a library of not less than four thousand five hundred volumes, remarkable for their rarity and beauty; seven portfolios of drawings by the great masters, and a hundred portfolios of prints, many of which were almost priceless; and in addition to these a splendid collection of coins and gems, and a cabinet of minerals. Mr. Cracherode, who never married, was a shy, retiring man, who lived entirely among his collections, and it is said that he never mounted a horse, nor travelled a greater distance than from London to Oxford. One great drawback to the happiness of his quiet life was the dread that he might possibly be called upon to officiate at a coronation as the King's cupbearer, as his manor of Great Wymondley was held from the Crown subject to the performance of this duty. Dibdin, in his Bibliographical Decameron, says of him that he had 'a dash of the primitiveness of the old school about him, and that his manners were easy, polished and engaging. He was a thorough gentleman, and no mean scholar.' He devoted his life to his favourite pursuit, the formation of his collections; and Edwards, in his Lives of the Founders of the British Museum, tells us that—'For almost forty years it was his daily practice to walk from his house in Queen Square, Westminster, to the shop of Elmsly, a bookseller in the Strand, and thence to the still more noted shop of Tom Payne, by the "Mews-Gate." Once a week, he varied the daily walk by calling on Mudge, a chronometer-maker, to get his watch regulated. His excursions had, indeed, one other and not infrequent variety—dictated by the calls of Christian benevolence—but of these he took care to have no note taken.... The ruling passion kept its strength to the last. An agent was buying prints, for addition to the store, when the Collector was dying. About four days before his death, Mr. Cracherode mustered strength to pay a farewell visit to the old shop at the Mews-Gate. He put a finely printed Terence (from the press of Foulis) into one pocket, and a large paper Cebes into another; and then—with a longing look at a certain choice Homer, in the course of which he mentally, and somewhat doubtingly, balanced its charms with those of its twin brother in Queen Square—parted finally from the daily haunt of forty peripatetic and studious years.' Mr. Cracherode is also mentioned in the Pursuits of Literature, by T.J. Mathias:—

'Or must I, as a wit, with learned air, Like Doctor Dibdin, to Tom Payne's repair, Meet Cyril Jackson and mild Cracherode there? "Hold!" cries Tom Payne, "that margin let me measure, And rate the separate value of the treasure." Eager they gaze. "Well, Sirs, the feat is done. Cracherode's Poetae Principes have won."'

Mr. Cracherode, who was a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries, and a Trustee of the British Museum, died at Queen Square on the 5th of April 1799, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. He bequeathed the whole of his collections to the nation, with the exception of two books. A copy of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible was given to Shute Barrington, Bishop of Durham, and a princeps Homer, once the property of De Thou, to Cyril Jackson, Dean of Christ Church; but these volumes ultimately rejoined their former companions in the British Museum.

The library formed by Mr. Cracherode is marvellously rich in choice copies of rare and early editions of the classics; a large proportion of them being printed on vellum. The volumes are almost always in faultless condition, and beautifully bound. Many of them were once to be found in such renowned collections as those of Grolier, Maioli, Henry II. of France and Diana of Poitiers, Katharine de' Medici, De Thou, Longepierre, Count von Hoym, etc.; and have bindings by Nicolas and Clovis Eve, Le Gascon, Padeloup, Derome, and Roger Payne. Among them are magnificent copies of the editions of Pliny printed at Venice by Joannes de Spira in 1469, and by Nicolas Jenson in 1476. The latter formerly belonged to Grolier, and the binding bears his well-known motto. A copy of the first edition of AEsop's Fables, printed at Milan about 1480, and a very beautiful example of the first edition of the Greek Anthology, on vellum, printed in capitals by Laurentius de Alopa at Florence in 1494, in the original binding, are also deserving of special notice. Other remarkable and interesting books are the Greek Grammar of Lascaris, printed at Milan in 1476; the Liber Psalmorum, printed at Milan in 1481; Maioli's copy of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, printed at Venice by Aldus in 1499; and a fine copy of Petrarch's Sonetti e Canzoni, on vellum, printed by Aldus in 1501, which formerly belonged to Isabella d'Este, wife of Gian-Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua. This was the first Italian book printed in italic type.

The library contains three Caxtons: Boethius de Consolatione Philosophiae, the Mirrour of the World, and the Boke of Eneydos.

A copy of Tyndale's New Testament on vellum, which once belonged to Queen Anne Boleyn, with her arms emblazoned on the title-page, and the words 'Anna Regina Angliae' painted in gold on the edges of the leaves, and a handsome Shakespeare first folio, ought also to be mentioned.

Mr. Cracherode's classical attainments were by no means inconsiderable, but his only writings were a Latin poem printed in the Carmina Quadragesimalia of 1748, and some Latin verses in the collection of the University of Oxford on the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1751.

A portrait of Mr. Cracherode appears in Clarke's Repertorium Bibliographicum, and in Dibdin's Bibliographical Decameron. This was engraved, contrary to his express wishes, from a drawing made by Edridge for Lady Spencer. An explanation is given by Dr. Dibdin of the circumstances under which the likeness was reproduced.

JOHN TOWNELEY, 1731-1813

John Towneley, who was born on the 15th of June 1731, and died on the 13th of May 1813, was the younger son of Richard Towneley of Towneley, in the county of Lancaster, and Mary, daughter of William, Lord Widdrington. He married Barbara, fourth daughter of Edward Dicconson of Wrightington, in the county of Lancaster, by whom he had a daughter, Barbara, who married Sir William Stanley, Bart., of Hooton, and a son, Peregrine Edward, who succeeded to the estates. Dibdin, in his Bibliographical Decameron, informs us that 'Mr. Towneley had one of the finest figures, as an elderly gentleman (for he died at 82), that could possibly be seen. His stature was tall and frame robust; his gait was firm; his countenance was Roman-like; his manners were conciliatory, and his language was unassuming. His habits were simple and perhaps severe. He generally rose at five, and lighted his own library fire—and his health was manifest in his person and countenance. He was entirely an unpretending man—and may be said to have collected rather from the pleasure and reputation attached to such pursuits than from a thorough and keen relish of the kind of taste which it imparts. He had an ample purse, and it was most liberally unstrung when there was occasion for effectual aid. This observation may equally apply to matters out of the bibliomaniacal record; but as a book-purchaser he was considered among the most heavy-metalled and determined champions in the field.'

The library formed by Mr. Towneley was a particularly good one, and it was remarkable for the large number of rare and fine examples it possessed of books from the presses of Caxton, Pynson, Wynkyn de Worde, Julian Notary, and other early English printers. No fewer than nine Caxtons were to be found on its shelves, and Pynson and Wynkyn de Worde were especially well represented. Among the Caxtons were the first edition of the Dictes or Sayings of the Philosophers, the Fayts of Arms, and Troilus and Creside, together with the Life of St. Katherine, published by Caxton's executors. Perhaps the most important of the other early English books were Boccaccio's Falle of Princis, translated by Lydgate, and Froissart's Cronycle, both printed by Pynson; and the Vitas Patrum and the Kalender of Shepeherdes by Wynkyn de Worde. The library also contained some exceedingly rare and valuable manuscripts, of which some of the most notable were a famous copy of the Iliad, a Pontificale of Pope Innocent IV., and a very interesting and curious collection of English Miracle-Plays acted at Wakefield in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.[79] Of the copy of the Iliad, Clarke in his Repertorium Bibliographicum remarks:—'This is the identical manuscript which was formerly in the possession of Victorius and Salviati at Florence, the supposed loss of which had been deplored for more than two centuries. Critics have unanimously assigned to it a very remote period of antiquity. It is written upon vellum in a very fair and legible hand, and the margins are replete with most valuable and important scholia. Heyne has given a facsimile of it in his Homer. It was purchased by the late Rev. Dr. Burney, whose entire collection is now deposited in the British Museum.'

Towneley's books were sold after his death, in three portions, by Evans of Pall Mall. The first sale took place on June 8th, 1814, and six following days. It comprised nine hundred and five lots, which realised five thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven pounds, four shillings. The second sale occurred on June 19th, 1815, and nine following days, and the seventeen hundred and three lots in it fetched two thousand seven hundred and seven pounds, sixteen shillings. The third sale consisted only of a few remaining books, which were disposed of in conjunction with the library of Mr. Auditor Harley on May 22nd, 1817, and six following days. Eleven hundred and twenty-seven pounds, two shillings were obtained for the nine Caxtons; the Troilus and Creside, the Life of St. Katherine, and the Dictes or Sayings of the Philosophers fetching the highest prices, viz. two hundred and fifty-two pounds, two shillings, two hundred and thirty-one pounds, and one hundred and eighty-nine pounds. Bochas's Falle of Princis and Froissart's Cronycle realised twenty-seven pounds, sixteen shillings and sixpence, and forty-two pounds; and the Vitas Patrum and the Kalender of Shepeherdes fifty-three pounds, eleven shillings and nineteen pounds. Eighty-five pounds were obtained for Henry Boece's Hystory and Croniklis of Scotland, translated by Bellenden, and printed by Davidson at Edinburgh in 1536; thirty-three pounds, sixteen shillings for Ricraft's Survey of England's Champions, etc., London, 1647; and forty-eight pounds, six shillings for a Book of Hours printed on vellum by Julian Notary in 1503. Among the manuscripts the Iliad sold for six hundred and twenty pounds, the Wakefield Miracle-Plays for one hundred and forty-seven pounds, and the Pontificale Innocentii IV. for one hundred and twenty-seven pounds, one shilling. The drawings, prints, etc., belonging to Towneley were sold by King of 38 King Street, Covent Garden, in May 1816 for fourteen hundred and fourteen pounds, five shillings and sixpence; and his magnificent collection of Hollar's works was disposed of by the same auctioneer for two thousand one hundred and eight pounds, eleven shillings and sixpence in May 1818. John Towneley was not the only collector of his family. Charles Towneley, his nephew, formed a celebrated collection of marbles, coins, gems, and drawings, now in the British Museum; and Christopher Towneley, who was born in 1604 and died in 1674, was the collector of many of the old manuscripts disposed of in the second sale of the Towneley library which occurred in 1883 after the death of Colonel John Towneley, when in default of a male heir the estates devolved on his daughters and those of his elder brother, Colonel Charles Towneley.

The second sale of the Towneley library took place in June 1883. The printed books were sold on the 18th and seven following days, and the manuscripts on the 27th and following day, by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge. There were two thousand eight hundred and fifteen lots of printed books, which realised four thousand six hundred and sixteen pounds, three shillings; and two hundred and fifty-one lots of manuscripts, for which the sum of four thousand and fifty-four pounds, six shillings and sixpence was obtained. Among the printed books the very rare York Manual, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1509; the Pilgrymage of Perfection of 1531, by the same printer, with the Towneley arms worked in silver on the covers of the binding; and a large paper copy of Nichols's History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, in eight volumes, were the most deserving of special notice. These sold respectively for fifty-nine pounds, twenty-seven pounds, ten shillings, and two hundred and thirty-five pounds. The two principal manuscripts in the sale were a Vita Christi, beautifully illuminated by Giulio Clovio for Alexander, Cardinal Farnese, for which Mr. Quaritch gave two thousand and fifty pounds, and the collection of Wakefield Plays, which was also purchased by the same great bookseller for six hundred and twenty pounds.[80]


[Footnote 79: These plays were printed for the Surtees Society in 1836, and re-edited by George England, with side-notes and introduction by Alfred W. Pollard, M.A., in 1897, for the Early English Text Society.]

[Footnote 80: This collection was re-purchased for the Towneley library at the sale of Mr. North's books in May 1819 for ninety-four pounds, ten shillings.]


Sir John Thorold, Bart., of Syston Park, Grantham, Lincolnshire, who was born in 1734, and succeeded his father, Sir John Thorold, eighth baronet, in 1775, was one of the most ardent collectors of his time. The magnificent library which he and his son Sir John Hayford Thorold formed at Syston Park contained some of the rarest incunabula in existence. Among them were copies of the Gutenberg Bible; the Second Mentz Psalter on vellum; the Catholicon of 1460; the Latin Bible of 1462, with the arms and cypher of Prince Eugene on the binding; and the Mirrour of the World, printed by Caxton in 1481. It also possessed one of the earliest of the block-books, the Apocalypse. The library was extremely rich in first editions of the Greek and Latin classics, some of them on vellum. Other choice and rare books in the collection were a copy of the Greek Bible, printed 'in aedibus Aldi' in 1518, described by Dibdin as 'the largest and finest copy I ever saw'; the Polyglot Bible of Cardinal Ximenez; the first edition of the Tewrdannck; the four Shakespeare folios; Purchas his Pilgrimmes; and the Pastissier Francois, printed by L. and D. Elzevier at Amsterdam in 1655. There were also many editions of Horae and Officia of the Virgin Mary, mostly printed on vellum. Several of the Syston Park books once formed part of the famous libraries of Grolier, Maioli, Diana of Poitiers, Katharine de' Medicis, Count von Hoym, Prince Eugene, and Sir Kenelm Digby. The collection also possessed a number of the beautiful little volumes bound by Clovis Eve, which were once thought to have formed part of the library of Marguerite de Valois, but are now believed to have belonged to that of Marie Marguerite de Valois de Saint-Remy, daughter of a natural son of Henry III., King of France. After the death of Sir John Thorold on the 25th of February 1815, his son and successor Sir John Hayford Thorold, having first sold the duplicates in the library, made many additions to it. He died on the 7th of July 1831, and fifty-three years later a portion of the books was sold by auction by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge. The sale, which took place on December 12th, 1884, and seven following days, consisted of two thousand one hundred and ten lots, which realised the large sum of twenty-eight thousand and one pounds, fifteen shillings and sixpence. For some of the rarest of the books very large prices were obtained. Mr. Quaritch acquired the Gutenberg Bible for three thousand nine hundred pounds, and the Mentz Psalter for four thousand nine hundred and fifty. The Catholicon sold for four hundred pounds, the 1462 Latin Bible for one thousand pounds, The Mirrour of the World for three hundred and thirty-five pounds, the Aldine Greek Bible for fifty-one pounds, and the first Shakespeare folio for five hundred and ninety pounds.

REV. RICHARD FARMER, D.D., 1735-1797

The Rev. Richard Farmer, D.D., was born at Leicester on the 28th of August 1735. He was the second son of Richard Farmer, a wealthy maltster of that town. After receiving his early education in the Free Grammar School of his native place, he was entered in 1753 as a pensioner of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1757 and M.A. in 1760. In the latter year he was appointed classical tutor of his College; which post he held until his election to the Mastership in 1775, when he took the degree of D.D. He served the office of Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1775-76 and again in 1787-88, and on the 27th of June 1778 was chosen the Chief Librarian of the University. In 1780 he was collated to a prebendal stall at Lichfield, and two years later became Prebendary of Canterbury, which he resigned in 1788 on being preferred to a residentiary canonry of St. Paul's Cathedral, London. It is said that he twice refused a bishopric which was offered to him rather than forgo the pleasure of witnessing dramatic performances on the stage. He died on the 8th of September 1797, at the Lodge, Emmanuel College, and was buried in the chapel. A monument, with an epitaph by Dr. Parr, was erected to his memory in the cloisters.

Dr. Farmer, who was an elegant scholar and a zealous antiquary, was somewhat eccentric both in his appearance and manners. It is said of him 'that there were three things he loved above all others, namely, old port, old clothes, and old books; and three things which nobody could persuade him to do, namely, to rise in the morning, to go to bed at night, and to settle an account.[81] His reluctance to settle his accounts, however, was not caused by avarice, but indolence, for he spent a considerable portion of his large income in the relief of distress, and in assisting in the publication of literary works; while his pupils frequently borrowed of him sums of money, well knowing there would be but little chance of a demand for repayment. Dr. Parr, who was one of Farmer's intimate friends, remarked of him 'that his munificence was without ostentation, his wit without acrimony, and his learning without pedantry.' Farmer was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries. His only published work was an Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare, which appeared in 1767 and went through four editions, besides being prefixed to several issues of Shakespeare's plays.

Dr. Farmer possessed a well-chosen library, which was rich in old English poetry and plays. He himself said of it 'that not many private collections contain a greater number of really curious and scarce books; and perhaps no one is so rich in the ancient philological English literature; but Dibdin tells us that the volumes 'were, in general, in sorry condition; the possessor caring little for large margins and splendid binding.' The collection was sold by auction by Mr. King, of King Street, Covent Garden, on May 7th, 1798, and the thirty-five following days. The catalogue, of which a priced copy is in the British Museum, contains three hundred and seventy-nine pages, and the lots, including a few pictures, number eight thousand one hundred and fifty-five. The sale realised two thousand two hundred and ten pounds, a sum said to be greatly in excess of that which Farmer gave for his books.

There is a portrait of Dr. Farmer by Romney in Emmanuel College, which has been engraved by J. Jones.


[Footnote 81: Dictionary of National Biography.]

RICHARD GOUGH, 1735-1809

Richard Gough, the eminent antiquary, was the only son of Harry Gough, of Perry Hall, Staffordshire. He was born in Winchester Street, London, on the 21st of October 1735, and was privately educated until about seventeen years of age, when he was admitted a fellow-commoner of Benet (now Corpus Christi) College, Cambridge. He left the University in 1756 without taking a degree, and commenced a series of antiquarian excursions into various parts of the kingdom for the purpose of obtaining information for an enlarged edition of Camden's Britannia, which he published in London in 1789. In 1767 Gough was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and in 1771, on the death of Dr. Gregory Sharpe, Master of the Temple, was nominated Director, a post he held until 1797, when he left the Society altogether. He was also chosen a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1775, but resigned in 1795. He died at Enfield on the 20th of February 1809, and was buried in the churchyard of Wormley, Hertfordshire.

Gough wrote, and assisted in the production of numerous topographical and antiquarian works, and contributed many articles to the Archaeologia and the Vetusta Monumenta of the Society of Antiquaries. A history of that institution by him is prefixed to the first volume of the first-named publication. The Gentleman's Magazine also contains many papers and reviews from his pen. In addition to his edition of Camden's Britannia, which occupied seven years in translating and in printing, his more important works are Anecdotes of British Topography, published at London in 1768, which was afterwards enlarged and reprinted in 1780 under the title of British Topography: or an historical Account of what has been done for illustrating the Topographical Antiquities of Great Britain and Ireland; and The Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain, London, 1786-99.

Gough possessed a considerable fortune, which enabled him to form an extensive library, as well as a fine collection of maps, drawings, prints, coins, and other antiquities. He left to the Bodleian Library 'all his topographical collections, together with all his books relating to Saxon and Northern literature, for the use of the Saxon Professor, his maps and engravings, and all the copper-plates used in the illustration of the various works published by himself.[82] This collection, which numbered upwards of three thousand seven hundred volumes, was placed, in accordance with the wish expressed in his will, in 'The Antiquaries' Closet,' with the collections of Dodsworth, Tanner, Willis, and other antiquaries. Gough also gave to the library a splendid series of early printed Service-books of the English Church, among which is a beautiful vellum copy of the Hereford Missal, printed at Rouen in 1502, and which is believed to be unique. A catalogue of the collection was published by Dr. Bandinel in 1814. Gough bequeathed to Mr. John Nichols his interleaved set of the Gentleman's Magazine, and of the Anecdotes of Mr. Bowyer.

The remainder of his books, prints, and drawings, together with his coins, medals, and other antiquities, were sold, according to his directions, by auction by Leigh and Sotheby in 1810. The books realised three thousand five hundred and fifty-two pounds, and the prints, drawings, coins, medals, etc., five hundred and seventeen pounds more.


[Footnote 82: Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library.]


George Steevens, the Shakesperian commentator, who was born on the 10th of May 1736, was the only son of George Steevens of Stepney, for many years an East India captain, and afterwards a Director of the East India Company. He received his early education at a school at Kingston-on-Thames and at Eton. In 1753 he was admitted a fellow-commoner of King's College, Cambridge, but left the University without taking a degree. In 1766 he published a reprint in four octavo volumes of Twenty of the Plays of Shakespeare, being the whole number printed in quarto during his Lifetime, etc.; and in 1773 he brought out, in association with Dr. Johnson, an edition of the whole of Shakespeare's dramatic works. Steevens, who was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries, died unmarried at Hampstead on the 22nd of January 1800, and was buried in the chapel at Poplar, where a monument by Flaxman was erected to his memory.

Steevens collected a fine library, which was very rich in early English poetry and in the plays and poems of Shakespeare. It contained the first and second folios of the great dramatist, and upwards of forty copies of the separate plays in quarto, many of them being first editions. The second folio formerly belonged to King Charles I., and was given by him on the night before his execution to Sir Thomas Herbert, his Groom of the Bedchamber. This very interesting volume, in which the King has written 'Dum spiro spero C.R.,' was bought at the sale of Steevens's books for King George III. for eighteen guineas, and is now preserved in the Royal Library at Windsor. The collection also comprised some rare plays of Peele, Marlowe, and Nash; Barnabe Googe's Eglogs, Epytaphes and Sonnettes; Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie, London, 1589; Skelton's Lyttle Workes and Merie Tales; Watson's Passionate Centurie of Love; England's Helicon, collected by John Bodenham, London, 1600; Breton's Workes of a young Wyt; The Paradice of Dainty Devises, London, 1595; XII Mery fests of the Wyddow Edyth, London, 1573; and many other scarce and choice books.

Steevens's library was sold by auction by Mr. King at his great room, King Street, Covent Garden, on May 13th, 1800, and ten following days. The catalogue contained nineteen hundred and forty-three lots, which realised two thousand seven hundred and forty pounds, fifteen shillings. A copy of the catalogue marked with the prices of the books and the names of the purchasers is preserved in the British Museum.

Although Dibdin considered that 'enormous sums were given for some volumes that cost Steevens not a twentieth part of their produce,' the prices were very small compared with those which could be obtained for the same books at the present time. The first folio of Shakespeare's works fetched only twenty-two pounds, and Charles I.'s copy of the second folio, as already mentioned, but eighteen guineas. Of the first editions of the separate quarto plays, Othello sold for twenty-nine pounds, eight shillings; King Lear and the Merry Wives of Windsor for twenty-eight pounds each; Henry the Fifth for twenty-seven pounds, six shillings; A Midsummer Night's Dream for twenty-five pounds, ten shillings; and Much Ado about Nothing for the same sum. The first edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets went for three pounds, nineteen shillings. Steevens's copies of the Merry Wives of Windsor and the Sonnets fetched respectively three hundred and thirty guineas and two hundred and fifteen guineas at the sale of the library of George Daniel in 1864. Other prices obtained for some of the rare books were eleven pounds, fifteen shillings for England's Helicon; ten pounds, fifteen shillings for Barnabe Googe's Eglogs, Epytaphes and Sonnettes; and seven pounds, ten shillings for Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie.

Steevens, who led a very retired life in his house at Hampstead Heath, was the reverse of an amiable man; and while he was very polite and courteous to his literary friends in private, he made bitter attacks upon them in print. Dibdin says of him that 'his habits were indeed peculiar: not much to be envied or imitated; as they sometimes betrayed the flights of a madman, and sometimes the asperities of a cynic. His attachments were warm, but fickle both in choice and duration. He would frequently part from one, with whom he had lived on terms of close intimacy, without any assignable cause; and his enmities, once fixed, were immovable.' Dr. Parr said of him that 'he was one of the wisest, most learned, but most spiteful of men.' Dr. Johnson, however, thought 'he was mischievous, but not malignant.'

JAMES BINDLEY, 1737-1818

Mr. James Bindley was the second son of Mr. John Bindley, distiller, of St. John's Street, Smithfield. He was born in London on the 16th of January 1737, and was educated at the Charterhouse, from whence he proceeded to Peterhouse, Cambridge, taking the degree of B.A. in 1759, and that of M.A. in 1762. Later he became a Fellow of his College. In 1765, through the interest of his elder brother John, he was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Stamp Duties, and in 1781 rose to be the Senior Commissioner, a post he held until his death, which occurred at his apartments in Somerset House on the 11th of September 1818. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries for upwards of fifty-three years. A handsome monument to his memory was erected in the church of St. Mary-le-Strand. Bindley formed a very large and valuable collection of rare books, engravings, and medals, which he commenced at a very early age, and to which he devoted all his spare time and money. When only fifteen years of age he constantly frequented the book-shops, where he bought everything which he considered rare or curious. He was a man of very regular and retired habits, and it is said of him, that during the long period he held the appointment of Commissioner of the Stamp Duties, 'he never once failed in his daily attendance at the Board, or once slept out of his own apartments since he left his house at Finchley to reside in Somerset House.'[83] Bindley published in 1775 A Collection of the Statutes now in force relating to the Stamp Duties; and he read all the proof-sheets of Nichols's Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, which are dedicated to him, and also of the early volumes of The Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century, by the same author. He performed the same work for the Memoirs of John Evelyn, edited by William Bray in 1818.

Bindley's library was a remarkably fine one, and few collections have contained a larger number of works of early English literature, especially of those of the time of Elizabeth and James I. Many of these books were excessively rare, and some of them unique. Among them were the Venus and Adonis of Shakespeare, printed in 1602; his Poems printed in 1640, and several of the first editions of his separate plays in quarto. The library also comprised a large portion of the extraordinary collection of poetical sheets, consisting of ballads, satires, elegies, etc., formed by Narcissus Luttrell, who, Sir Walter Scott says, 'seems to have bought every poetical tract, of whatever merit, which was hawked about the streets in his time, marking carefully the price and date of the purchase.'

After Bindley's death his books were sent to Evans of Pall Mall for sale. They were disposed of in five portions. The first sale took place in December 1818, and the fifth, which consisted of omissions, in January 1821. There were nine thousand three hundred and eighty-three lots in the five sales, which occupied forty-six days, and realised upwards of seventeen thousand five hundred pounds. The following are a few of the more notable books, and the prices they fetched in the sales:—The Temple of Glasse, printed by Berthelet, forty-six pounds, four shillings; Chute's Beawtie Dishonoured (London, 1529)—Steevens's copy, thirty-four pounds; Lewicke's Titus and Gisippus (London, 1562), twenty-four pounds, thirteen shillings and sixpence; Parker, De Antiquitate Britannicae Ecclesiae (London, 1572), forty-five pounds, three shillings; Nicolas Breton's Floorish upon Fancie (London, 1577), forty-two pounds; Hunnis's Hyve full of Hunnye (London, 1578), eighteen guineas; The Forrest of Fancy (London, 1579), thirty-eight pounds, six shillings and sixpence; Markham's Tragedie of Sir Richard Grinvile (London, 1595), forty pounds, nineteen shillings; Robert Fletcher's Nine English Worthies (London, 1606), thirty-seven pounds, sixteen shillings; Dolarny's Primerose (London, 1606), twenty-six pounds, ten shillings; and Purchas's Pilgrimes, five volumes (London, 1625), thirty-four pounds, thirteen shillings. The first edition of Othello sold for fifty-six pounds, fourteen shillings; of Love's Labour Lost for forty pounds, ten shillings; and the Venus and Adonis of 1602 for forty-two pounds. Seven hundred and eighty-one pounds, one shilling were obtained for the Luttrell collection of poetical sheets; and fifty-two pounds, ten shillings for a little Manual of Devotions, one inch and seven-eighths long, and one inch and three-eighths broad, written on vellum, and bound in gold, said to have been given by Anne Boleyn on the scaffold to her Maid of Honour, Mistress Wyatt.

Bindley's portraits, prints, drawings, and medals were sold by Leigh and Sotheby in 1819, and realised seven thousand six hundred and ninety-two pounds.


[Footnote 83: Gentleman's Magazine, vol. lxxviii. part ii. p. 631.]


William Petty Fitzmaurice, third Earl of Shelburne and first Marquis of Lansdowne, was born in Dublin on the 2nd of May 1737. He was first privately educated, and afterwards at Christ Church, Oxford, which he left early to take a commission in the Guards. He served with the British troops under Prince Ferdinand in Germany, and was present at the battles of Kampen and Minden, where he distinguished himself by his personal valour. He became a Major-General in 1765. In May 1760, and again in April 1761, he was elected member for Wycombe, but he sat for a short time only in the House of Commons, as the death of his father on the 10th of May 1761 called him to the House of Lords. In April 1763 he was placed at the head of the Board of Trade and Plantations, a post which he held only till September in the same year; but in 1766, when Pitt, Earl of Chatham, formed his second administration, he included Lord Shelburne in it as Secretary of State for the Southern Department, to which, at that time, the Colonial business was attached. From this post, however, he was dismissed in October 1768 by the Duke of Grafton, whose influence in the Cabinet became paramount when the Earl of Chatham's illness prevented him taking an active share in the government. Lord Shelburne remained out of office until March 1782, when on the formation of the Rockingham administration he became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. This ministry was dissolved on the death of Lord Rockingham on the 1st of July in the same year, and the King entrusted Lord Shelburne with the construction of a new one, which lasted but little over seven months, as it was defeated in February 1783 by the vote of the Fox and North coalition. Shortly after his retirement he was created Earl Wycombe and Marquis of Lansdowne. Lord Lansdowne did not again accept office, but devoted himself to the augmentation of his fine library, the formation of which had occupied his attention for many years. It was especially rich in historical and political manuscripts, and comprised, among other collections, one hundred and twenty-one volumes of the papers and miscellaneous correspondence of Lord Burghley, including his private note-book and journal, which had formerly been in the hands of Strype the historian. The library also contained a considerable portion of the important collection of State papers amassed by Sir Julius Caesar, Master of the Rolls in the reign of James I.; the historical collections of White Kennet, Bishop of Peterborough, which amounted to a hundred and seven volumes, many of them being in the bishop's handwriting; the heraldic and genealogical collections of Segar, St. George, Dugdale, Le Neve, and other heralds; and some valuable legal, topographical, musical, biblical and classical manuscripts. The collection of manuscripts, which amounted to one thousand two hundred and forty-five volumes, was acquired in 1807 by the Trustees of the British Museum for the sum of four thousand nine hundred and twenty-five pounds. The printed books, among which were many valuable topographical works and some rare volumes of English literature, numbered about twenty thousand. They were sold by Leigh and Sotheby in 1806, and together with the maps, charts, books of prints, etc., realised over eight thousand three hundred and fifty pounds. The Marquis, who collected pictures and sculpture as well as books, died on the 7th of May 1805, at the age of sixty-eight, and was succeeded by his son John Henry.


The Honourable Topham Beauclerk was the only son of Lord Sydney Beauclerk, and a grandson of the first Duke of St. Albans. He was born in 1739, and on the death of his father in 1744 succeeded to the estates which Lord Sydney had inherited from Mr. Richard Topham, M.P. for Windsor. In 1757 Beauclerk matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, but seems to have left the University without taking a degree. While he was at Oxford he made the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson, who appears to have been greatly attracted to him on account of his wit and conversation. This intimacy surprised many of Johnson's friends, for although Beauclerk valued science and literature, he was also gay and dissipated. 'What a coalition,' said Garrick, when he heard of it, 'I shall have my old friend to bail out of the Round-house.' Notwithstanding somewhat frequent squabbles, the friendship lasted for upwards of twenty years, and on Beauclerk's death Johnson remarked of him—'that Beauclerk's talents were those which he had felt himself more disposed to envy, than those of any whom he had known.'[84] His conversational powers were evidently of a very high order, for Dr. Barnard, Bishop of Limerick, in his well-known lines on Dr. Johnson, writes of him:

'If I have thoughts, and can't express 'em, Gibbon shall teach me how to dress 'em In terms select and terse; Jones teach me modesty and Greek; Smith, how to think; Burke, how to speak; And Beauclerk to converse.'

Beauclerk married on the 12th of March 1768 Lady Diana Spencer, eldest daughter of the second Duke of Marlborough, two days after her divorce from Lord Bolingbroke and St. John. He died at Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, on the 11th of March 1780, leaving one son and two daughters.

Beauclerk possessed a fine library of upwards of thirty thousand volumes, which he kept at his residence at Muswell Hill, near London, stored, as Horace Walpole informs us, 'in a building that reaches half-way to Highgate.' It did not contain many rare books, but it was rich in works relating to natural history, voyages and travels, and English and French plays; and Dibdin says that it was also valuable to the general scholar, and to the collector of English antiquities and history. It also possessed a few curious and choice manuscripts. Some of the books appear to have belonged to Mr. Topham, but most of them were collected by Beauclerk. After his death they were sold by auction by Mr. Paterson 'at the Great Room, heretofore held by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures, opposite Beaufort Buildings, in the Strand, London,' on Monday, April 9th, 1781, and the forty-nine following days. A priced copy of the catalogue is in the British Museum.

Beauclerk, who was a Fellow of the Royal Society, was a collector of natural curiosities, as well as books, and botany was one of his favourite studies. He had also an observatory at Muswell Hill.


[Footnote 84: Boswell, Life of Johnson (London, 1811), vol. iii. p. 460.]

REV. BENJAMIN HEATH, D.D., 1739-1817

The Rev. Benjamin Heath, D.D., one of the sons to whom Mr. Benjamin Heath gave a part of his books, was born on the 29th of September 1739. He was educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge, of which College he became a Fellow. After leaving the University he was appointed an assistant master at Eton, and in 1771 succeeded Dr. Sumner as headmaster of Harrow, a post he held for fourteen years.[85] He died on the 31st of May 1817, at the rectory of Walkerne in the county of Hertford, a living given to him by his College, which he held with the rectory of Farnham in Buckinghamshire. He was buried at Exeter. Dr. Heath, who was 'a scholar and a bibliomaniac,' added greatly to the library given to him by his father, for which he built a large room at Walkerne, where, says Dibdin, 'he saw, entertained, and caressed his friends, with Alduses in the forenoon, and with a cheerful glass towards evening, hospitable, temperate, kind-hearted, with a well furnished mind and purse, and with a larder and cellar which might have supplied materials for a new edition of Pynson's Royal Boke of Cookery and Kervinge, 1500, 4to.'[86] Some years before his death Heath offered his books to King's College, Cambridge, for half the sum they had cost him; but the College authorities declined the purchase, and he then sold the principal portion of them to some private individuals, who, Dibdin believes, were Messrs. Cuthell and Martin, for three thousand pounds beneath the sum they ultimately produced,[87] and they instructed Mr. Jeffery of 11 Pall Mall to sell the books by auction. The sale took place on Thursday, the 5th of April 1810, and twelve following days and Wednesday, May 2nd, and eighteen following days. It consisted of four thousand seven hundred and eighty-six lots, which realised eight thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine pounds. The sale catalogue states that the library consisted of 'rare, useful and valuable publications in every department of literature, from the first invention of printing to the present time, all of which are in the most perfect condition.' Another catalogue, with the prices and purchasers' names, of which it is said only two hundred and fifty copies were printed, was published later in the year by Constable of Edinburgh. Both the catalogues are to be found in the Library of King George III. in the British Museum. Dibdin describes this sale in enthusiastic terms in his Bibliomania:—'Never,' he writes, 'did the bibliomaniac's eye alight upon "sweeter copies"—as the phrase is; and never did the bibliomaniacal barometer rise higher than at this sale! The most marked phrensy characterized it. A copy of the Editio Princeps of Homer (by no means a first-rate one) brought L92:[88] and all the ALDINE CLASSICS produced such an electricity of sensation that buyers stuck at nothing to embrace them!'[89]


[Footnote 85: Dibdin, Bibliographical Decameron, vol. iii. p. 368.]

[Footnote 86: Dibdin, Bibliographical Decameron, vol. iii. p. 369.]

[Footnote 87: Ibid., iii. 370.]


Major Thomas Pearson was born about the year 1740 at Cote Green, near Burton-in-Kendal, Westmoreland. He was educated at Burton, and came to London about 1756 to fill a post in the Navy Office, which he resigned in 1760. In the course of the following year he left England, having obtained a cadetship on the Bengal Establishment, in which he rose to the rank of Major. He distinguished himself on several occasions, and was particularly noticed by Lord Clive, to whom he adhered during the mutiny fomented by Sir Robert Fletcher, at whose trial he held the office of Judge Advocate. In 1767 Pearson married a sister of Eyles Irwin, the traveller and writer. This lady died in the following year, and an epitaph inscribed to her memory may be found, together with other poetical pieces by Pearson, in vol. iv. of Pearch's Collection of Poems. Pearson returned to England in August 1770 with Governor Verelst, under whom he had acted as Military Secretary, and built a house for himself at Burton, in which he collected a very extensive library, consisting of works on the history, antiquities, topography, and heraldry of Great Britain and Ireland, foreign history, voyages and travels, natural history, etc., but it was principally remarkable for the large number of books in all branches of old English literature, and it was especially rich in the works of the early poets and dramatists. In 1776 Pearson again went to India, but after a residence there of five years he fell a victim to the effects of the climate, and died at Calcutta on the 5th of August 1781. Some years after his death his library was brought from Westmoreland, and sold on April 14th, 1788, and twenty-two following days, by T. and J. Egerton at their room in Scotland Yard. The prices obtained at the sale, in which there were five thousand five hundred and twenty-five lots, were very small:—Boccaccio's The Falle of Princis and Princesses and other Nobles, translated by Lydgate, and printed by Pynson in 1494, fetched but one pound, twelve shillings; The Castell of Laboure, also printed by Pynson, two guineas; two books printed by Wynkyn de Worde—Hawes's Example of Virtu, and The Lyf of Saynt Ursula, translated by Hatfield—seven pounds, ten shillings and one pound, ten shillings; Skelton's Ryght Delectable Traytise upon a goodly Garlande, or Chapelet of Laurell, printed by Richard Faukes in 1523—an excessively rare, if not unique book—seven pounds, seventeen shillings and sixpence; Peele's Polyhymnia, London, 1590, three guineas; Lyly's Midas, London, 1592, seven pounds; and England's Helicon, collected by John Bodenham, London, 1600, five pounds, ten shillings. Two volumes of ballads, chiefly collected by the Earl of Oxford, and purchased by Major Pearson at Mr. West's sale, were bought by the Duke of Roxburghe for thirty-six pounds, four shillings and sixpence, and are now, with additions by the Duke, preserved in the British Museum. Books bound for Pearson may be recognised by the device of a bird surmounting a vase, stamped on the panels of the back.


[Footnote 88: The marked catalogue says L94, 10s.]

[Footnote 89: Bibliomania, London, 1811, p. 617.]


John Ker, third Duke of Roxburghe, was born on the 23rd of April 1740 in Hanover Square, London. He was the elder son of Robert Ker, second Duke, and on the death of his father in 1755 succeeded to the title and estates. While on a tour on the Continent he became greatly attached to Christiana, eldest daughter of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and there is little doubt that she would have become his wife had not King George III. soon afterwards sought the hand of the Princess's younger sister in marriage, when it was considered necessary to break off the match, partly for political reasons, and partly because 'it was deemed indecorous that the elder sister should be the subject of the younger.' This was a great disappointment to both the Duke and the Princess, who evinced the strength of their affection by remaining single during their lives. George III., probably feeling that he had done the Duke an injury, always manifested a warm friendship for him, and bestowed upon him various appointments in the royal household. In 1768 he was made a Knight of the Thistle, and in 1801 was invested with the Order of the Garter. He died on the 19th of March 1804.

The Duke, who was remarkable both for his fine presence and his mental accomplishments, collected a magnificent library at his residence in St. James's Square, London. It contained among numerous other treasures the famous Valdarfer Boccaccio, upwards of a dozen volumes printed by Caxton, and many from the presses of Pynson, Wynkyn de Worde, Julian Notary, and other early English printers. The first, second, and third Shakespeare folios were in the collection, as well as a large number of early quarto plays. The library was especially rich in choice editions of the French romances, and in the works of the English dramatists who flourished during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. Some rare books printed in Scotland were also to be found in it. The collection of broadside ballads in three thick folio volumes, now in the British Museum, is perhaps the most extensive and interesting ever brought together. It was begun by Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, from whose library it passed successively to those of Mr. James West and Major Thomas Pearson, and at the sale of the books of the last-named collector it was purchased for thirty-six pounds, four shillings and sixpence by the Duke, who made many additions to it while in his possession. The collection has been admirably edited by Mr. William Chappell and the Rev. J.W. Ebsworth for the Ballad Society. Other books deserving special notice were the first edition of Pliny, printed by J. de Spira at Venice in 1469; Cicero's Epistolae ad Atticum, etc., printed at Rome in 1470; the 1580 edition of the Paradyse of Daintie Devises, and the first edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets.

Among the manuscripts the most valuable were Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, bound with Lydgate's Life of St. Margarete, on vellum, with illuminations, and the Mystere de la Vengeance de Nostre Seigneur, also on vellum.

The library was sold in 1812 by Mr. Evans of Pall Mall in the dining-room of the Duke's house in St. James's Square, and the total amount realised was twenty-three thousand three hundred and ninety-seven pounds, ten shillings and sixpence. The sale, which consisted of nine thousand three hundred and fifty-three lots, lasted forty-two days, commencing on the 18th of May, and ending on the 4th of July. It was followed by a supplementary one of seven hundred and sixty-seven lots, which began on the 13th of July, and lasted till the 16th of the same month. The catalogue was compiled by Mr. George Nicol, bookseller to the King. The sale excited very great interest; and Dibdin, who gives an account of it in his Bibliographical Decameron, tells us 'the room was so crowded that nothing but standing upon a contiguous bench saved the writer of The Bibliographical Decameron from suffocation.' The prices obtained for the books were very high. That 'most notorious volume in existence,' the Valdarfer Boccaccio, which cost the Duke of Roxburghe but one hundred guineas, was acquired by the Marquis of Blandford, after a severe struggle with Lord Spencer, for two thousand two hundred and sixty pounds, and Dibdin says that the Marquis declared that it was his intention to have gone as far as five thousand guineas for it. A copy of the Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, which once belonged to Elizabeth Grey, wife of Edward IV., was purchased by the Duke of Devonshire for one thousand and sixty pounds, ten shillings; while three other books from the press of Caxton, The Mirrour of the World, the Fayts of Arms, and Gower's Confessio Amantis, sold respectively for three hundred and fifty-one pounds, ten shillings, three hundred and thirty-six pounds, and three hundred and thirty-six pounds. The collection of ballads fell to Mr. J. Harding for four hundred and seventy-seven pounds, fifteen shillings. At the sale of Mr. B.H. Bright's books in 1845 it was secured for the British Museum for the sum of five hundred and thirty-five pounds. The first folio of Shakespeare's Plays fetched one hundred pounds, and his Sonnets twenty-one pounds. The two manuscripts mentioned realised three hundred and fifty-seven pounds and four hundred and ninety-three pounds, ten shillings.

A dinner was given, at the suggestion of Dr. Dibdin, to commemorate the sale of the Boccaccio; and Earl Spencer, Dr. Dibdin, and other bibliophiles met on the day of the sale at St. Alban's Tavern, St. Alban's Street—now Waterloo Place—and then and there formed the Roxburghe Club; Earl Spencer being the first President.


Michael Wodhull, the translator of the tragedies of Euripides, was born at Thenford, Northamptonshire, on the 15th of August 1740. His father was John Wodhull, a descendant of Walter Flandrensis, who held the estates of Pateshull and Thenford in the time of William I. He received his early education under the Rev. William Cleaver of Twyford, Bucks. He was afterwards sent to Winchester, and at the age of seventeen proceeded to the University of Oxford, matriculating from Brazenose College. While still young Wodhull inherited a considerable fortune from his father, and he built a fine mansion on the family estate at Thenford, in which he kept his library. He was High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1783. Wodhull married a daughter of the Rev. J. Ingram of Wolford, Warwickshire, by whom he had three children, who all predeceased him. He died on the 10th of November 1816. In addition to his translations of the tragedies of Euripides, Wodhull was the author of several poems. From 1764 to his death Wodhull was an indefatigable collector of rare and curious books, and Dibdin says of him that 'a better informed or more finished bibliographer existed not either in France or England.'

His splendid library, which was a great consolation and pleasure to him in the solitude of the last years of his life, was particularly rich in early editions of the Greek and Latin classics, and in works printed in the fifteenth century. All the books—many of which were bound by Roger Payne—were in fine condition, and some of them had once formed part of the libraries of Francis I., Grolier, Henry II. and Diana of Poitiers, Longepierre, and other famous French collectors, and were bound by such fine craftsmen as Boyet, Derome, Monnier, etc. The covers of the volumes bound for Wodhull are mostly impressed with a stamp of his arms, impaled with those of his wife. A portion of Wodhull's books, principally duplicates, was sold by Leigh, Sotheby and Son, of York Street, Covent Garden, at two sales in 1801 and 1803. The first sale consisted of a thousand and fifty-nine lots, which realised three hundred and sixty-one pounds, ten shillings; and the second of one thousand six hundred and thirty-nine lots, for which the sum of eight hundred and fifteen pounds was obtained. The remainder of the library appears to have been kept at Thenford until 1886, when Mr. J.E. Severne, M.P., to whom it had descended, determined to part with it, and it was sold by Wilkinson, Sotheby and Hodge on January 11th, 1886, and nine following days. There were two thousand eight hundred and four lots in the sale, which produced the large sum of eleven thousand nine hundred and seventy-two pounds, fourteen shillings and sixpence.

The following are a few of the rarest and most interesting books in this splendid collection, with the prices they fetched:—the Catholicon of Joannes Balbus, printed at Mentz in 1460, three hundred and ten pounds; Cicero de Officiis, printed at Mentz in 1466, seventy-one pounds; Tullius de Senectute et Amicitia, printed by Caxton in 1481, two hundred and fifty pounds; (a perfect copy of Caxton's Mirrour of the World was sold in the 1803 sale for thirty-eight pounds, seventeen shillings); the first edition of Homer, printed at Florence in 1488, two hundred pounds; Poliphili Hypnerotomachia, printed by Aldus in 1499, fifty-three pounds; the Aldine Virgil of 1501, one hundred and forty-five pounds; Roman de Guy de Warwick, Paris, 1525, one hundred and thirty pounds; the New Actes and Constitucionis of Parliament maid by James V., Kyng of Scottis, printed on vellum at Edinburgh in 1541, one hundred and fifty-one pounds; the Contes of La Fontaine, Amsterdam (Paris), 1762, in two small 8vo volumes, bound in red morocco, ninety-three pounds; Moliere's Works, with plates by Moreau, six volumes, 1773, seventy-seven pounds.

Among the books with historical or fine bindings were Alcyonius, Medices Legatus de Exsilio, in aedib. Aldi, Venetiis, 1522, bound for Francis I., with the arms of France, the crowned initial of the king, and the salamander stamped on the covers, fifty-eight pounds; Aristotle, De Arte Poetica, Florentiae, 1548, bound for Henry II. of France and Diana of Poitiers, with the devices of the king and his mistress on the covers, two hundred and five pounds; Crinitus, De Poetis Latinis, Florentiae, 1505, bound for Grolier, seventy-four pounds; Irenici Germania, Hagenoae, 1518, also bound for Grolier, sixty-two pounds; and two works by Giordano Bruno—Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante, Parigi, 1584, and La Cena de la Ceneri, 1584; the former bound in citron morocco, with a red double by Boyet, and the latter in a beautiful mosaic binding by Monnier, realised respectively the large sums of three hundred and sixty pounds and three hundred and sixty-five pounds.

The principal manuscripts were a copy of Dante, with a commentary by Joannes de Sarravalle, written in the years 1416-17, which sold for one hundred and fifty-one pounds; and a very beautiful Roman Breviary of the beginning of the sixteenth century, on vellum, illuminated for Francois de Castelnau, Archbishop of Narbonne, for which five hundred and fifteen pounds was obtained.


Francis Hargrave, the eminent law writer, who was born about 1741, was the son of Christopher Hargrave of Chancery Lane. He entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn in 1760, and in 1772 he greatly distinguished himself in the Habeas Corpus case of James Sommersett, a negro. Soon afterwards he was appointed one of the king's counsel, and in 1797 he was made Recorder of Liverpool. He was also for many years Treasurer of Lincoln's Inn. In 1813, in consequence of the impaired state of Hargrave's health, his wife petitioned Parliament to purchase the fine law library which he had amassed, consisting of a considerable number of printed books and about five hundred manuscripts; and on the recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons the collection was acquired by the Government for the sum of eight thousand pounds, and deposited in the British Museum. Edwards, in his Lives of the Founders of the British Museum, says that 'the peculiar importance of the Hargrave Collection consisted in its manuscripts and its annotated printed books. The former were about five hundred in number, and were works of great juridical weight and authority, not merely the curiosities of black-letter law. Their collector was the most eminent parliamentary lawyer of his day, but his devotion to the science of law had, to some degree, impeded his enjoyment of its sweets. During some of the best years of his life he had been more intent on increasing his legal lore than on swelling his legal profits. And thus the same legislative act which enriched the Museum Library, in both of its departments, helped to smooth the declining years of a man who had won uncommon distinction in his special pursuit.' A catalogue of the manuscripts was compiled by Sir Henry Ellis, and published in 1818. Hargrave, among other important legal works, published a new edition of State Trials from the eleventh year of Richard II. to the sixteenth of George III., in eleven volumes folio, in 1776-81; Juridical Arguments and Collections, in two volumes, in 1797-99; and Jurisconsult Exercitations, in three volumes, in 1811-13. He died on the 16th of August 1821, and was buried in Lincoln's Inn Chapel. Lord Lyndhurst, in speaking of Hargrave's great legal knowledge, declared that 'no man ever lived who was more conversant with the law of his country.'

ISAAC REED, 1742-1807

Isaac Reed, the editor of Shakespeare, was born in London on the 1st of January 1742. He was a conveyancer, and had chambers, first in Gray's Inn and afterwards in Staple Inn, where he died on the 5th of January 1807. He was buried at Amwell in Hertfordshire. Reed, who was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, collected books for upwards of forty years, and Dibdin says that 'he would appear to have adopted the cobbler's well-known example of applying one room to almost every domestic purpose: for Reed made his library his parlour, kitchen, and hall.' His extensive collection of books, which was rich in works relating to the English drama and poetry, was sold by King and Lochee, 38 King Street, Covent Garden, on Monday, November 2nd, 1807, and thirty-eight following days. The sale consisted of eight thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven lots, including prints and a few miscellaneous articles, and realised four thousand three hundred and eighty-six pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence. A copy of the catalogue, with the prices added in manuscript, is preserved in the Library of King George III. in the British Museum.


The Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, Bart., to whom the British Museum, in addition to other bequests, is indebted for one of the finest libraries of books on natural history ever collected, was born in Argyle Street, London, on the 13th of February 1744. He was the only son of William Banks, of Revesby Abbey, Lincolnshire, by his wife Sarah, daughter of William Bate. Banks was first educated at Harrow and Eton, and proceeded afterwards to Christ Church, Oxford, which college he entered as a gentleman-commoner in 1760. In 1761 his father died, leaving him a large estate. He left the University in 1763, after having taken an honorary degree, and in 1766 he set out on a scientific voyage to Newfoundland with his friend Lieutenant Phipps, afterwards Lord Mulgrave, and brought back a large collection of plants and insects. In 1768 he accompanied Captain Cook's expedition round the world in The Endeavour, a vessel which he equipped at his own expense, taking with him his friend and librarian Dr. Solander, two draughtsmen, and several servants. This voyage, which was attended by many dangers and privations, occupied nearly three years, and the specimens which the enterprising collectors brought home with them excited very great and general interest. Banks was anxious to join Captain Cook's second expedition, but owing to some difficulties respecting the fittings of the ship in which he was to have sailed he relinquished his purpose, and in 1772 paid a visit in company with Dr. Solander to Iceland, where he obtained a large number of botanical specimens, and also purchased a collection of Icelandic manuscripts and printed books, including the library of Halfdan Einarsson, the literary historian of the island, which he gave to the British Museum on his return to England. Ten years later he presented a second collection to that institution. In 1778 Banks succeeded Sir John Pringle as President of the Royal Society, a post he held for upwards of forty-one years. He had been a Fellow since the year 1766. In 1779 he married Dorothea, daughter of William Weston-Hugesson of Provender, in the parish of Norton, Kent, and in 1781 he was created a baronet. In 1795 he received the Order of the Bath, and in 1797 he was sworn of the Privy Council. The National Institute of France elected him a member in 1802. He died at his house at Spring Grove, Isleworth, on the 19th of June 1820, leaving a widow but no issue.

Sir Joseph Banks, even when a schoolboy, took great interest in all branches of natural history, and during his residence at Oxford he procured the appointment of a lecturer on natural science in the University. He was always exceedingly generous in his relations with men of science, and the splendid collections in his house in Soho Square were always open to them for study and investigation.

Sir Joseph Banks bequeathed his library, with the exception of some manuscripts which he left to the Royal Society and the Mint, his herbarium, drawings, engravings, and other collections to the Trustees of the British Museum, subject to a life interest and a life use in them by his friend and librarian, Mr. Robert Brown, the eminent botanist. This bequest was accompanied by a proviso that Mr. Brown should be at liberty to transfer the collections to the British Museum during his lifetime, if the Trustees were desirous to receive them, and he were willing to comply with their wishes. An arrangement to this effect was eventually carried out, and in the year 1827 the transfer was effected; Mr. Brown at the same time receiving the appointment of Keeper of the Department of Botany in the Museum, a post he held until his death in 1858.

The number of printed books acquired by the Museum amounted to about sixteen thousand, consisting principally of works on natural history and the journals and transactions of learned societies. The manuscripts numbered but forty-nine, but among them were the log-books of The Endeavour, The Resolution, and The Racehorse, and the journals of Tasman, Carver, Verwey and other navigators.

A catalogue of the library was compiled by Mr. Jonas Dryander, who succeeded Dr. Solander as Sir Joseph's librarian, in five volumes, and published in London in the years 1798-1800.

Sir Joseph Banks was the author of two treatises:—one, On the Cause of Blight in Corn, published in 1805; and the other on Some Circumstances relative to Merino Sheep, published in 1809; together with some articles contributed to the journals of learned societies. He evidently intended at one time to publish a work embodying the results of his researches, as the plates were engraved, and the text partly prepared for press, but the death of his librarian Dr. Solander in 1782 appears to have caused him to relinquish his purpose. Kaempfer's Icones Plantarum was published by him in 1791, and he also superintended the issue of Roxburgh's Coromandel Plants in 1795-1819. A statue of Sir Joseph by Sir Francis Chantrey is placed in the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, and a portrait of him by Sir Thomas Lawrence is hung in the board-room of the British Museum. Another portrait of him by Thomas Phillips, R.A., is in the National Portrait Gallery.

Sarah Sophia Banks, the only sister of Sir Joseph Banks, possessed similar tastes to her brother, and amassed a considerable number of books, coins, objects of natural history, etc. She died at her brother's house in Soho Square on the 27th of September 1818; and after her death a portion of her collections, consisting of sixty-six volumes of manuscripts, chiefly relating to heraldic matters, ceremonials, archery, etc., together with several printed books principally treating of chivalry, knighthood, etc., some of them enriched with her MS. notes, were presented to the library of the British Museum by Lady Banks, the wife of Sir Joseph. Several of the volumes were in very fine bindings.

REV. JOHN BRAND, 1744-1806

The Rev. John Brand, the author of Observations on Popular Antiquities, was born on the 19th of August 1744 at Washington, in the county of Durham, where his father Alexander Brand was parish clerk. When fourteen years of age he was apprenticed to his uncle Anthony Wheatley, a shoemaker of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and during his residence in that town he attended the grammar school there. He displayed so much ability and industry that the master of the school, the Rev. Hugh Moises, with the assistance of some friends, sent him to Lincoln College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1775. He had been ordained some time previously, and, after filling several curacies, in 1784 he was presented by the Duke of Northumberland to the rectory of the united parishes of St. Mary-at-Hill and St. Mary Hubbard in the city of London. In the same year he was elected resident secretary of the Society of Antiquaries, an office he held until his death on the 11th of September 1806. He was buried in the chancel of his church. Brand had a very extensive knowledge of antiquities, and he accumulated a large library, which was very rich in old English literature.

Among the rarer books were the Knight of the Tower, printed by Caxton in 1484; the Dyalogue of Dives and Pauper, and Arnold's Chronicle of the Customs of London, printed by Pynson in 1493 and 1521; A Plaister for a Galled Horse, London, 1548; John Byshop's Beautiful Blossomes, London, 1577; Thomas Bentley's Monument of Matrones, London, 1582; A Booke of Fishing with hooke and line, London, 1600; Mrs. Fage's Poems, London, 1637; and A Juniper Lecture, London, 1639. The collection also contained some curious works on witches.

After Brand's death, the library was sold in two parts by Stewart of 194 Piccadilly. The first sale took place on May 6th, 1807, and thirty-six following days, 'Sundays, the King's Birthday, and May 21-26 excepted.' It consisted of eight thousand six hundred and eleven lots of printed books, and two hundred and forty-three of manuscripts, which realised four thousand three hundred pounds. The second part, containing duplicates and pamphlets, was sold on February the 8th, 1808, and fourteen following days, 'Sundays and the Fastday excepted.' There were four thousand and sixty-four lots in this portion, and the sum obtained for them was eighteen hundred and fifty-one pounds. The Knight of the Tower was purchased by Mr. Payne the bookseller for Earl Spencer for one hundred and eleven pounds, six shillings; Arnold's Chronicle fetched eighteen guineas; the Dyalogue of Dives and Pauper, four pounds, three shillings; Bentley's Monument of Matrones, eight pounds, eighteen shillings and sixpence; and Mrs. Fage's Poems, five pounds, fifteen shillings and sixpence. A copy of Brand's own work on Popular Antiquities, with additions for a new edition, sold, with the copyright, for six hundred and thirty pounds.

In addition to his Observations on Popular Antiquities, which appeared in 1777, Brand published a work on the History and Antiquities of the town and county of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1789; and in 1775 a poem On Illicit Love, written among the ruins of Godstow Nunnery, near Oxford—the place where the celebrated Rosamond, the mistress of Henry II., was buried. He also contributed many papers to the Archaeologia of the Society of Antiquaries.

Nichols, in his Literary Anecdotes,[90] says of Brand that 'his manners, somewhat repulsive to a stranger, became easy on closer acquaintance, and he loved to communicate to men of literary and antiquarian taste the result of his researches on any subject in which they might require information.'

JOHN DENT, 1750?-1826

Mr. John Dent was born about the middle of the eighteenth century. His father is said to have been the master of a school in a small town in Cumberland. At an early age he entered the banking-house of Messrs. Child and Co. of London as a clerk, and in 1795 rose to be a partner in the firm. In 1790 he was elected Member of Parliament for the borough of Leicester, and held the seat during five successive Parliaments until the dissolution in 1812. Six years later he was chosen Member for Poole, which he represented till 1826. He died at his residence in Hertford Street, Mayfair, on the 14th of December 1826.

Mr. Dent, who was a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries, accumulated a very fine library, which was very rich in the Greek and Latin Classics and early English literature. It also contained some very beautiful manuscripts. After his death it was sold in two parts by Mr. Evans of Pall Mall. The first sale, which took place on March the 29th, 1827, and eight following days, consisted of fifteen hundred and two lots, and realised six thousand two hundred and seventy-eight pounds, twelve shillings. The second portion of the books was sold on the 25th of the succeeding month and eight following days. There were one thousand four hundred and seventy-four lots in this sale, which brought eight thousand seven hundred and sixty-two pounds, seven shillings. The following are a few of the many very rare books which this noble collection contained, and the prices which were obtained for them:—

Fust and Schoeffer's Latin Bible of 1462, one hundred and seventy-three pounds, five shillings; a vellum copy of the first edition of Livy, printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz at Rome in 1469, two hundred and sixty-two pounds, ten shillings; the first edition of the Anthologia Graeca on vellum, printed at Florence in 1494, seventy pounds; a perfect copy of Higden's Polychronicon, printed by Caxton in 1482, one hundred and three pounds, nineteen shillings; three other imperfect Caxtons, fifty-eight pounds, seventeen shillings and sixpence; Barclay's Shyp of Folys, printed by Pynson in 1509, thirty pounds, nine shillings; Bradshawe's Lyfe of Saynt Radegunde, printed by Pynson, without date, thirty-two pounds; The Cronycle of Englonde, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1502, thirty-eight pounds, seventeen shillings; a copy on vellum of the Orcharde of Syon, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1519, sixty-five pounds, two shillings; Vitruvius de Architectura, printed on vellum by P. de Giunta in 1513, one hundred and seven pounds, two shillings; the Coverdale Bible, 1535, eighty-nine pounds, five shillings; and Archbishop Parker's De Antiquitate Britannicae Ecclesiae, 1573, forty pounds. Mr. Dent possessed the first three Shakespeare folios, and a large number of the separate quarto plays. The folios realised respectively one hundred and ten pounds, five shillings, fifteen pounds, and sixty-five pounds, two shillings. The copy of the third folio had many contemporary manuscript corrections. Of the quarto plays, twenty-six pounds was obtained for the first edition of Love's Labors Lost, twenty-two pounds for the first edition of Othello, sixteen pounds for the first edition of The Merchant of Venice, and four pounds, ten shillings for the first edition of Midsummer Night's Dream.

Several of the manuscripts were of exceptional beauty and interest. A Roman Breviary, with illuminations in the finest Flemish style, presented to Queen Isabel of Castile by Francisco de Rojas, sold for three hundred and seventy-eight pounds; a copy of the Gospels in Greek, said to have been written about the end of the eleventh century, for two hundred and sixty-seven pounds, fifteen shillings; an Office de la Vierge, written by Nicolas Jarry, the celebrated calligraphist, in 1656 for Anne of Austria, and which afterwards passed into the possession of Madame de Maintenon and the Prince de Conti, for one hundred and ten pounds, five shillings; and a copy of the Westminster Liber Regalis, written in the fifteenth century, for fifty-five pounds, thirteen shillings. All these manuscripts were on vellum. The copies of the Roman Breviary and the Greek Gospels are described by Dibdin in his Bibliographical Decameron (vol. i. pp. clxiii and xcii).


[Footnote 90: Vol. ix. p. 653.]


The Right Hon. Thomas Grenville, who was born on the 31st of December 1755, was the second son of the Right Hon. George Grenville, the statesman, who succeeded Lord Bute as Premier in 1763, and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Wyndham. In 1771 he entered Christ Church, Oxford, as a gentleman-commoner, and in 1778 he was appointed ensign in the Coldstream Guards, which he left the following year to become a lieutenant in the 80th foot. In 1780 he was elected Member for Buckinghamshire, and became a follower of Lord Rockingham and Mr. Fox, the latter of whom thought so highly of his talents that he intended, if his India Bill had passed, to have made him Governor-General. Towards the close of the war with the United States, Mr. Grenville was sent to Paris to negotiate terms of peace, but only remained there a short time, being recalled by the death of the Marquis of Rockingham and a change of ministry. On his return to this country he continued for some time to support Mr. Fox, but the course pursued by that statesman with regard to the French Revolution caused him to transfer his allegiance to Mr. Pitt, and in 1794 Mr. Grenville accepted the post of Minister Extraordinary to the Court of Vienna. In 1798 he became a privy councillor, and in 1799 he was sent as Ambassador to Berlin to endeavour to prevent the King of Prussia deserting the coalition against France; but the first vessel in which he sailed was stopped by ice, and the second was wrecked, and the delay which ensued rendered the mission an abortive one. In 1800 he was made Chief Justice in Eyre to the South of the Trent, a sinecure office of two thousand a year, of which he was the last holder. On the fall of Mr. Pitt's ministry in March 1801, Mr. Grenville ceased to support the Tory party, and renewed his political connection with Mr. Fox, and in 1806, shortly after his brother, Lord Grenville, became Prime Minister, he was appointed President of the Board of Control. On the death of Mr. Fox on the 13th of September 1806, he succeeded Lord Howick as First Lord of the Admiralty, a post he held until the formation of the Duke of Portland's administration in April 1807, when he finally retired from office, and devoted the remaining forty years of his life to literature, and to the collection of the splendid library, which is now one of the great glories of the British Museum. From an early age Mr. Grenville was animated by an ardent love for books, and took a great interest in the development of the National Library, of which he was for many years a Trustee. He died at Hamilton Place, Piccadilly, on the 17th of December 1846, at the age of ninety-one. Mr. Grenville had originally bequeathed his library to his great-nephew the Duke of Buckingham, but the circumstance that it was principally purchased from the profits of the sinecure office which he had held for so many years, led him to the conclusion that it was 'a debt and a duty' that the collection so acquired should be devoted to the use of the public. In the autumn of 1845, in the course of a conversation with his friend Mr. Panizzi, afterwards Sir Anthony Panizzi, then Keeper of Printed Books in the British Museum, he informed him of his intention; and after his death it was found that he had revoked the bequest to the Duke of Buckingham, and left his noble collection to the nation. A full and interesting description of the printed books in the library by Sir Anthony Panizzi is to be found in the Report on the accessions to the Museum for the year 1847, and we cannot do better than give the account of them in the words of the famous librarian, who had himself much to do with the acquisition of this magnificent gift:—

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