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named in the comparison with our own national collection. But the earlier history has engrossed so large a proportion of our space, that we must be content with selecting a few of the great modern collections, as types of what the library has become under the requirements of the new literature and in the new conditions of the world which that literature may be said to have created.
Among the libraries of the modern period, three now stand out prominently, unapproached by any of their rivals in the extent, the variety, and the value of their contents—the National Library at Paris, the Imperial Library at St. Petersburg, and the library of the British Museum. Fortunately, too, for the elucidation of our subject, each of these collections may be regarded as typical, and as illustrating in its formation a different condition of things and a distinct phase of bookcollecting on a large scale; the first representing for the most part the result of ancient growth and gradual accumulation; the second, the comparatively compendious process of conquest and confiscation; while the third teaches the still more valuable lesson of what may be accomplished by earnest, systematic, and well-directed energy, even within a limited time, and under disadvantageous circumstances as to facility of bookcollection.
We shall begin with the great library of Paris, called variously, under the various forms of government through which France has passed, the Royal, the National, the Imperial, then again Royal, then a second time National, then Imperial, and now once more the National Library.
The first commencement of this noble collection, under Jean le Bon, with nineteen volumes; its progress to nine hundred and ten under John's son and successor, Charles V.; its reverses under Charles VII., and more than compensating advantages during the foreign wars of Charles VIII.; and its various migrations to Blois, Angoulême, and Fontainebleau ; all belong to the period of manuscript libraries. Under Francis I. its printed books and MSS. together were still below the number of two thousand volumes, and at his death the printed books barely reached two hundred. Henry IV., by whom it was finally transferred to Paris, did much for the improvement of its administration ; but, even with the advantages of a copy-tax on all books printed in France, and under the direction of a book-collector so eminent as De Thou, its progress as a modern library seems unaccountably slow. So late as the accession of Louis XIV., the printed books in the royal collection are stated not to have exceeded five thousand in number.
It is in the reign of this monarch, indeed, that the character of the “ Bibliothèque du Roi' as a grand modern library is first fully recognisable. The administration as organised under Francis I. consisted of a single responsible head styled master,' with subordinate officers called 'keepers.' Almost contemporaneously with the accession of the Grand Monarque, the mastership of the library came to the hands of the first of a family which was destined to retain for nearly a century and a half the chief direction of its fortunes—the well-known family of Bignon; of whom it may truly be said that they seem to have lived exclusively for the duties of their charge. During four successions, the Bignons-Jérôme Bignon, Jérôme Bignon the younger, Armand Jérôme, and John Frederick-occupied this important post from 1642 till 1784. They had the assistance in the office of keeper during this period of many eminent scholars, including Varillas, Gallois, Thevenot, Clement and Sallier. In 1661 one of the keepers of the Royal Library, the Abbé Colbert, being named Bishop of Luçon, instead of resigning his office as keeper, continued to discharge its duties through his brother, the celebrated Minister of that name, who at that time held the important office of Superintendent of Royal Buildings. Colbert not only took up zealously the regular duties of his vicarious office as Keeper of the Library, but threw into it all the official weight which belonged to him by virtue of his own public position. No expedient was overlooked. Not only were the ordinary resources of purchase, donation, interchange, bequests, industriously turned to account; the services of scientific travellers, of merchants, of missionaries, of diplomatic agents, were either specially employed, or taken advantage of as occasion arose. Learned travellers, as Jean Petis de la Croix, Thevenot, Antoine Galland (to whom the West owes its first knowledge of the Arabian Tales); members of the learned religious congregations-- Vansleb the learned Dominican, the still more learned Benedictine, Mabillon, the Fathers of the Missions Étrangères
--were enlisted in the same service. No ambassador or • consul of France, it is justly observed by Mr. Edwards, seems to have regarded his duties as fulfilled, unless he had become a benefactor or at least an active agent of the Royal Library.'* Nor was it only in the principal literary languages of the world,' adds Mr. Edwards, that books were eagerly sought. The less important dialects of the East were as carefully represented as were the
* Memoirs of Libraries, ii. 272.
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most famous; the literature of Fins and Icelanders as well • as that of Germans and Swedes. Above all, it speaks highly for the intelligent forethought which guided the library administration, that even Chinese literature, at that time, if we except the purely practical schools of the Jesuit and Dominican missionaries, a complete blank as regarded Western scholarship, received its full share of consideration. Under Colbert's administration the library rose from 16,000 volumes, including MSS., to a total of 40,000 printed volumes and 12,000 MSS., in which latter are comprised the Harault MSS., the Bethune, the Bigot, the Baluze, and other chief treasures of the modern library.
Colbert's successor, Louvois, was perhaps even more openhanded; and before the end of Louis XIV.'s reign, the number of volumes had risen to 70,000.
Under the rule of the third of the Bignons, Amand Jérôme, as Master, the library assumed what is substantially its present organisation; the plan of the catalogue was settled and in part begun ; and the library which had been shifted from place to place for above two centuries was finally established in the habitat which it still occupies, and which was chosen with such wise foresight of its capabilities of expansion, as to prove adequate to the progressive requirements of the collection, even in the gigantic proportions which it has attained in our day. To the same period (1737) likewise is due the free opening of the library to the public. The catalogue, however, was only carried through two of the five classes into which it was distributed, Theology and Literature. That of Jurisprudence was interrupted by the death of the compiler, M. Capperonnier, and the work remained suspended for a full century.
During the Regency, and even amid the profligate expenditure of Louis XV., the Royal Library was believed to have grown to 150,000 volumes, to which number the early years of the reign of Louis XVI. were supposed to have added 50,000 more. Both these estimates, however, were in excess of the real number, which was ascertained by the well-known librarian, Van Praet, by the process of actual counting, to be 152,868 volumes.
In the bloody era of the Revolution few of the more distinguished officials of the library escaped the fury of political proscription. Three of the chief librarians-Carra the Girondist, Girey-Dupré, and D'Ormesson-fell under the guillotine. Champfort was arrested, attempted suicide in his despair, and eventually died, partly from the wound, partly from the shock which he had sustained. The Abbé Barthélemy, well-known to
the last generation by his long-popular Travels of the Younger • Anacharsis,' was imprisoned; and Van Praet, though he survived for nearly half a century, as the connecting link between the older and the more modern period, suffered a like peril, and with difficulty escaped the fate of his distinguished but unhappy colleagues. Nor was the library itself exempt from the perils of which its ill-fated guardians were the victims. A decree was drawn up, declaring that the books of the public libraries of Paris and of the Departments could no longer be permitted to offend the eye of Republicans by shameful marks of servitude, and that all such marks must be immediately effaced: fleurs-de-lis, for example, and armorial bearings, whether in the bindings or in other parts of books, together with all prefaces and dedications addressed to kings and nobles, must disappear; and a still more wholesale proposal was made by Henriot to burn the entire collection en masse, as a monument of priestcraft and monarchy.
On the whole, nevertheless, the revolutionary period was, in point of material progress and of advance in the actual growth of the collections, by far the most remarkable in the entire course of its history. The libraries of the suppressed monasteries, of the colleges, cathedrals, collegiate churches, and other ecclesiastical establishments, the confiscated collections of the nobles and other persons of note who perished or emigrated during the Revolution, were in great part handed over to the National Library. Many of the books, no doubt, were destroyed through ignorance or neglect; many were appropriated or sold by reckless or dishonest officials; a few were reserved till more peaceful and happier times, and recovered by their owners; a still more considerable proportion were assigned to other libraries of Paris and of the Departments; but, notwithstanding all these deductions, the number of the confiscated books which eventually found their way to the national collection equalled, if it did not exceed, that of all the successive acquisitions of the Royal Library during the whole period of its previous existence.
From the date of these accessions the pre-eminence of the Paris Library amongst European collections was placed beyond all question; and it is chiefly from the Revolution that its progress as a modern library, whether in regard to its administrative system, or to the growth and development of its various collections, begins to acquire interest in comparison with the other great libraries of the modern world.
The administration of the Library was remodelled in accordance with republican ideas. For the quasi-monarchical government of the chief librarian, was substituted a Board of eight keepers of departments, with a Director chosen by and from the Board. To this Board collectively were entrusted the administration of the funds, the appointment and dismissal of officers, and the general control of the establishment. This system, with but little modification, was retained for thirtythree years. Some changes were made in 1828 ; and in 1832, M. Guizot, then Minister of Public Instruction, revived the ancient form of administration by keepers and assistant keepers.
The fundamental idea of M. Guizot's system was an attempt to enlist the whole body of officials in the general interests of the institution by admitting them, not alone to a participation in the administrative authority, but even to a share in the election of the chiefs of the governing body. But his scheme had a very short tenure. Ministers of Public Instruction succeeded each other rapidly under Louis Philip. So did Directors of the Royal Library after the death of the patriarchal Van Praet, who had held office for above half a century. M. de Salvandy, in 1839, reverted to the system of a single administrative head, which is still maintained in the management of the Library; and by the judicious use of a grant of 50,6001., obtained by M. de Salvandy from the Chambers, much was done in the preparation both of materials for the new catalogue and of other reforming measures, the undivided credit of carrying out which is commonly given to the Government of the late Emperor. The truth is that in this and other departments the Emperor found much ready to his hand, There is one measure to the full merit of which he is entitled. In 1852 he gave life to the work of the catalogue by placing it in the hands of a single responsible editor, M. Taschereau; and the various projects of reform which had been previously suggested, may be said to have been reduced to shape by a Commission appointed by him in 1858, the elaborate report of which, drawn up by M. Prosper Mérimée and addressed to the Minister of Public Instruction, was published in the • Moniteur,' on July 20th of that year.
The details of the purely administrative reforms have no interest for our present purpose. We shall only advert very briefly to the important changes in the library buildings; to the conditions which affect the admission of readers; to the longexpected catalogue; and in general to the present condition and extent of the collections of this great library, as it emerges from the ordeal through which, in common with our own national collection, it has just been passing.
Of the new structure erected by the Emperor Napoleon III.,