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fifteenth century: but of these the first would be of little general use, and hardly worth the cost; and the second, if now executed, would, we hope, very soon become imperfect. The only mode of carrying out this latter idea that could be considered as complete, should embrace not what any single library may happen to possess at the moment, but all the great libraries of Europe should be invited to contribute to a general catalogue of ALL books known to have been printed prior to 1501; and to each title might be affixed an initial to designate in what libraries the book might be found,—as ‘M. L.,' for Museum, London; B. O.,' Bodleian, Oxford; 'N. P.,' National, Paris; 'I. P.,' Institute, Paris, &c. So that, whenever any of these libraries became possessed of a work they had not before, the addition, by a hand-stamp, of this distinguishing mark would keep each catalogue and (by easy intercommunication) all the catalogues complete; and even individuals who might purchase a catalogue could keep their own complete by reference to that of the nearest public library. This would be a valuable addition to the literature of the world.

The Commission has also set at rest many other captious complaints against the Museum. We shall not be again insulted by injurious comparisons-bolstered up by evidence most scandalously deceptive-of our Museum with similar establishments abroad-of its inferiority in material riches, in scientific distribution, in general accessibility, and in the intelligence and personal courtesy of its officers and servants. The gross

injustice of such imputations is now indisputable. It has been proved beyond all further question, that there is not in the world another collection so various, so rich, so promptly, so lucidly, and so extensively accessible.

The Edifice itself, it must be admitted, does not come quite so well out of the discussion. Mr. Fergusson's pamphlet contains a minute and merciless criticism on the whole and

every part of it. We have no intention of entering on that proverbial inutility-a disputation on mere points of taste;but we are bound to say that we think Sir Robert Smirke has been treated, on matters both of taste and accommodation, with a degree of severity which the facts do not warrant. Our readers are aware that we ourselves are no great admirers of the edifice. It must, we fear, be admitted to be inferior to what its destination, its site, and, above all, its cost, might have led us to expect; but we cannot assent to Mr. Fergusson's sweeping and unconditional (but oddly worded) censure, that "the Museum is as bad and as extravagant a building as could be well designed.' In truth, though we concur in two or three of his leading criticisms, we think that most of his ob


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jections to the details are either altogether fanciful or much exaggerated; and we cannot but think that the criticisms of so ingenious a mind would have produced more effect on the public if they had been less indiscriminate.

We are glad, however, that, amidst so much censure, Mr. Fergusson does justice to Sir Robert Smirke's general reputation in that style of art which he has more peculiarly followed. He says

'I do not know of anything in the works of classic architecture on the Continent superior to Sir Robert Smirke's: I am certain it is not either the Berlin Museum, nor the Munich Walhalla or Glyptothek, nor the Paris Madeleine or Bourse, which, considering the difficulties of the subject, either show more taste or more knowledge of the style.'-Ferg., p. 11.

And he even adds a kind of apology for Sir Robert Smirke, by laying, as he phrases it, the blame on the right shoulders' viz. the Trustees-who, he intimates, had imposed not only the style of the edifice on Sir Robert under pain of not being employed, but even dictated to him some of the individual blemishes with which Mr. Fergusson is most offended. Now we know not whether the Trustees had any predilection (which Mr. Fergusson seems to consider a kind of insanity) for Greek architecture; we ourselves so far concur in his opinion that we should not have chosen that rigid and unaccommodating style for so complicated and diversified an object as a Museum; but we cannot therefore presume to censure persons of perhaps a purer taste, who preferred the Greek style for an i edifice dedicated to the arts and literature of which Greece was the illustrious parent; and especially when some of the richest treasures of the collection were derived from the noblest remains of Grecian architecture. And when the Trustees made that, as we think, not unnatural, though perhaps unlucky, choice, they surely did well in selecting to execute it the architect whom Mr. Fergusson admits to have surpassed in that style all the architects of the Continent.

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As to the apologetical insinuation that Sir Robert Smirke sacrificed his own opinions and taste-that is his duty-to the unreasonable suggestions of individual trustees—it is an excuse which we are satisfied that the integrity and spirit of Sir Robert Smirke's character would reject. We have no doubt that he accepts the whole responsibility of his work, and he may do so with honest pride; for we think, in spite of individual criti

* Why does Mr. Fergusson place the Walhalla at Manich? It is near Rafisbon, above thirty miles from Munich. He perhaps had in his mind's eye another edifice of the Doric style at Munich, called the Rulimeshalle.

cisms, that no impartial eye can be blind to the grandeur of its external aspect, or the appropriate beauty of its internal arrangement and decoration. For its faults, considerable as they no doubt are, a fairer, and we have no doubt a truer, apology would be found in the admission of the indulgent axiom,

Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,

Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall bewhich, applicable as it is to all works of art, is peculiarly so to that complicated class of architectural cases in which old and established rules of external form, proportion, and decoration are to be combined and reconciled with the exigencies of a species of internal accommodation unknown to the creators of the classic styles. Instances of such failures crowd on our memories and even on our eyes. The Buckingham Palace of Mr. Nash has been completely and happily masked by a new façade of an entirely different character. Mr. Soane's Council Office in Whitehall has been elevated, decorated, and indeed wholly and happily metamorphosed. The Courts of Law, near Westminster Hall, have been built and altered, and destroyed and rebuilt again, without, we fear, giving much greater satisfaction at last than at first. The National Gallery, the most prominent failure of all, stands, or rather hangs, in jeopardy between essential transformation and entire demolition. We fear that the latter must prevail; for we know not what else can be done to get rid-to say nothing of other external and internal defects-of the absurdity of making, in our climate, four flights (two at each side) of unsheltered steps the access to our two great galleries-a blunder and inconvenience which the Royal Academy is forced, every year, even in the summer months, to endeavour to remedy by a canvas awning, which strongly contrasts with its pretentious portico, and very imperfectly performs the office of sheltering the visitors. Well might Horace Walpole deprecate the monstrous fashion of making us go up and down stairs in the open air,' and unlucky it is for us that his denunciation of that absurdity has been disregarded. The artistic necessity of these external stairs is one of many reasons that would have deterred us from choosing the Grecian style for the Museum-though there, the inconvenience is not half the amount of that at the National Gallery.

However we may question the justice of much of Mr. Fergusson's architectural criticism, there is one great point-in our opinion the most important defect and difficulty of the whole case-on which his animadversions are no more-perhaps even less-than the circumstances appear to deserve: namely, that there seems to have been in the original design no provision what

soever for the future. We see no trace of the architect's having contemplated any serious addition to any department of the Museum; the vast but indispensable extensions lately made, or still in progress, are all external patches-internally convenient enough, as far as they go, and handsome too, but quite—not only independent of, but-inconsistent with, all possibility of external symmetry.

It is, we think, equally to be regretted and wondered at that both the architect and his employers should not have been struck, in the very first instance, by the peculiar character and obvious requirements of such an institution as the Museum, whose annual, monthly, nay, daily, growth was even then portentous, and clearly promised exactly what has happened-that before the buildings could be finished they would be already too small for the objects they were intended to contain. This neglect of so indispensable a preliminary is the more surprising, because we know that about the period when the matter was in discussion the attention of Sir Robert Peel-an ever active Trustee of the Museum, and an especial friend and patron of Sir Robert Smirke's-was called to this very point of the difficulty of constructing such edifices as Museums, Picture Galleries, and Record Offices, which should include, within a limited space, present adequacy with the means of gradual extension; and a plan was submitted to him of a building, behind the adequate façade of which should be accumulated, as time and circumstances might require, a series of— if we may use the expression-concentric galleries.*

Whether that plan, or even the general problem which it was meant to solve, was brought to the notice of the other Trustees or the architect of the Museum, we know not. The difficulty indeed is so obvious that they should not have required a flapper; but certain it is that the absence of any provision for future extension is a radical, and, as it seems, irremediable error in the design of the Museum, and the main-we really might say the only realcause of all the complaints that are made about it: complaints not merely of professional critics and of literary and artistical grumblers, but of all the intelligent and experienced officers of the institution. Room! room!' is the general cry; all the


* Mr. Fergusson saw a room, or series of rooms, at Mr. Marshall's mills at Leeds, constructed on something of this principle, and recommends it as the best and cheapest plan for a largely increasing library. It might serve equally well, we suppose, for a growing collection of pictures-but unluckily, being exclusively adapted for a ground floor and, as it seems, an unlimited space, it could never satisfy some of the conditions most requisite in a public edifice occupying a conspicuous site in a crowded capital. The plan mentioned in the text as laid before Sir Robert Peel was of more general applicability, and, if we remember right, was especially directed to the employment of the space (then vacant) on which the National Gallery was afterwards built.




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departments are daughters of the horse-leech, crying Give! give!'-and various are the schemes which have been proposed for remedying an evil which is everywhere more or less felt; but in the Antiquities it is stated to be already seriousin Natural History perhaps more so-and in the Library overwhelming.

The first project we shall examine is a general one, advocated by Mr. Fergusson. He very justly says that the Library must be the first object, and to it, as we understand him, he would dedicate the whole existing building, and dismiss all the other departments, which he considers as interlopers, to other receptacles. Now, we admit at once the paramount claims of the Book and Manuscript departments. They are the first objects, and should be amply provided for, both at present and in future, by the allocation of any parts, or even, if we should arrive at such a happy necessity, of the whole of the building. We are, however, we think, still very far from being reduced to any such extremity. It would be, according to our estimate, some centuries before these two classes could fill the existing edifice. But the dispersion of the general collection is recommended-not merely on the urgent necessity of making room, but also on the principle of homogeneity and systematic classification. This proposition would send the sculptures and other specimens of Art to an amended edition of the National Gallery in Trafalgar-square-or, of course, to the far grander Palace of Art now announced for KensingtonGore-extend the new Geological Museum in Piccadilly as far as St. James's churchyard for the accommodation of the minerals and fossils; arrange the remains of animated nature in a receptacle to be erected in the neighbourhood of the living specimens in the Zoological Gardens-or in Devonshire or Burlington Houses, to be bought for the occasion or where some lucky fire might produce a vacant space-or 'by taking advantage of a new street in a worthless neighbourhood'-or finally, by appropriating St. James's Palace as a chapel of ease to the Museum.

We need not dwell on the merely practical objections to these bold schemes-the difficulty of making any classified separation and division of such an infinity of objects acquired from so many different sources and under such a variety of legal and honourable conditions-the vast, immediate cost of the proposed sites and edifices-and the additional and ever-growing expense of such multiplied establishments. But even if the separation and dislocation of the various collections were easy and the result economical, we should strenuously protest against it on higher considerations. Whether we consider the convenience of the studious or the amusement of the curious, we should equally regret such a general dispersion; though we might not object

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