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SIR ANTHONY PANIZZI AND THE BRITISH MUSEUM:*

BY THE REV. JOHN TELFORD, B.A.

SIR ANTHONY PANIZZI was an Italian refugee, who had escaped from the hands of his enemies to the only country where he could find shelter. He rose to a commanding position in the land of his adoption, and enjoyed the warm and lasting friendship of some of its greatest men. His chief claim to remembrance rests on his long service in one of our noblest national institutions-the British Museum. It was under his direction and mainly through his labours that our national library assumed the importance which it now possesses as the centre of our vast literary activities. Above all,' said Dean Milman, when Panizzi had retired from the Museum, 'the great national gift of the Reading-Room, the envy and admiration of Europe, is.... almost his entire creation, from the original design to the most minute detail, from the dome to the inkstands and book-shelves.'

His biographer tells us that an ardent longing has possessed him to write of one with whom he had lived in the most intimate friendship; and his labour of love will not only do much to keep alive the memory of a distinguished career, but also to furnish another example -much needed in the struggle of life of the manner in which 'strict integrity and undeviating rectitude finally bring their reward.'

ANTONIO GENESIO MARIA PANIZZI was born September 16th, 1797, at Brescello, a little town in the territory of Modena. He was of respectable ancestry. After a careful course of study at the Lyceum of Reggio, he passed on to the University of Parma in 1814. Four years later, when about twenty-one years of age, he received his degree of Doctor, and shortly afterwards was appointed, by

* The Life of Sir Anthony Panizzi, K. C.B.

the Duke of Modena, Inspector of Public Schools at Brescello.

'One who knew Panizzi about that time thus describes his personal appearance: tall, thin and of dark complexion; in temper somewhat hot and hasty, but of calm and even judgment, which commanded respect and caused him to be looked up to by all..... He is described as constantly engaged in reading, even while walking from his house to the office.' As a lawyer, his powers of eloquence seemed to promise great distinction in the future.

But the political agitation of the time swept away all Panizzi's hopeof a prosperous career in Italy. Ar--dent in the cause of liberty, he be→ came, in 1820, one of the most active · members of the great secret society of Carbonari, who were banded together throughout the Italian peninsula to free their country from the degrading yoke of Austria. Panizzi's patron, the Duke of Modena, looked on this movement with great anxiety.. He endeavoured to maintain the allegiance of his subjects in a curious fashion. Once a week one of the Duke's private carriages was sent into Brescello to bring into his presence any two of the people whom he considered in special danger of yielding to the influence of the new opinions. opinions. All hated the carriage: but Panizzi and one of his friends,. whom he had initiated into Carbonarism, were peculiarly anxious to . escape these delicate attentions. Oneafternoon as they were strolling along the road, the carriage appeared. Sus-pecting that the Duke might have. sent for them, they threw themselves into the ditch by the wayside and remained there till the carriage was out of sight. With all speed they fled to the Parmese territory; then, By Louis Fagan. (Rivington and Co. 1880.)

determining to find out whether they had really been sent for, they journeyed back to Brescello, and learnt to their great satisfaction that their names had never been mentioned.

Two months later, Panizzi was arrested. The help of a friendly official enabled him, however, to jump out of a window and escape to the frontier. He had provided himself with a passport; and, though in much danger, managed to reach Switzerland in safety. Here he wrote a book describing the tyrannical character of the Modense government. It is,' says Mr. Fagan, 'one of the most interesting productions of its author. ....The style borders on the oratorical, charged with fiery but restrained indignation, while the vehemence of invective is supported by legal acumen, and a thorough acquaintance with the maxims of jurisprudence, to which the writer continually appeals.' The Austrians were so much provoked at the character of this work that he was ordered to quit Lugano. He proceeded to Geneva. Even here he was not allowed to remain in peace. The representatives of Austria, France and Sardinia insisted on his expulsion. Panizzi and his fellow-exiles therefore started for England; and, after many dangers, arrived in London, in May, 1823.

They were in sore straits. Panizzi once said at a banquet that fourteenpence was all he allowed himself for breakfast and dinner, and that 'he well remembered spending one portion of an afternoon in gazing through the windows of a cook-shop, watching with hungry eyes the more fortunate mortals who were satisfying their appetites within.' London was full of refugees, so Panizzi started for Liverpool, hoping to find employment there as a teacher of languages. He had a letter of introduction to William Roscoe, the author of The Life of Leo X., and his talents and

worth soon won the regard of Roscoe, who owed many happy hours to the kindness and attention of Mr.Panizzi, which rather resembled that of a son than a stranger.'

Meanwhile, Panizzi had been tried in the courts of Modena and condemned to the punishment of 'death, to be executed on his effigy, to confiscation of his property and in the costs.' He received a letter from the Inspector of Finances, demanding two hundred and twenty-five francs, twenty-five cents-the money spent in preparing his accusation and sentence of death. Even the fees of the executioner were not forgotten.

His life in Liverpool was one of much privation and labour. The severity of the climate, and the want of the most ordinary comforts of life, told sorely upon his health. 'His income was chiefly derived from giving lessons in the Italian language and literature; some of his pupils lived far away from the town, and he used to start on foot early in the morning, give his lessons and return to Liverpool by eleven o'clock.' His lectures on Italian literature at the Royal Institution and his lessons to private pupils placed him at last in a position of comparative comfort, and he had already made many friendships which were a great solace to him, though he writes plaintively enough to an Italian friend in London: If the misery of selling articles and verbs were not such as to freeze one's blood, I might say I live, yet I only vegetate.'

In 1828, through the influence of Lord Brougham, Panizzi was invited to occupy the chair of Italian literature at the London University.* Roscoe deeply regretted his departure from Liverpool, and gave him various letters of introduction; in one of which to Rogers, the poet, he speaks 'not only of his abilities as an elegant scholar, but of his experienced *Now University College.

worth as a sincere friend, and of his character as a man.' The emoluments of the Professorship were not as great as he expected, but his reputation increased daily, and his circle of friends grew wider. He was busy with several works on the Italian poets. In 1831, through the exertions of Brougham, then Lord Chancellor and, ex-officio, a Trustee of the British Museum, Panizzi was appointed Extra-Assistant Librarian.

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Our National Museum owes its origin to private enterprise and munificence. The will of Sir Hans Sloane, of Chelsea, who died in 1752, directed that his numerous library of books and MSS., with drawings, prints, medals and coins, articles of virtu, cameos, precious stones, etc., etc.,' which he had himself collected at an outlay of fifty thousand pounds, should be offered to the nation for twenty thousand pounds. Parliament gave instructions for the purchase of this collection, and of the Harleian MSS., which were valued at ten thousand pounds, and Montague House, the residence of Lord Halifax, was purchased and prepared for their reception. At the opening of the Museum, in 1759, persons were admitted by tickets; no more than ten tickets were to be given out per hour, and five of the visitors were to be attended by the UnderLibrarian, five by the AssistantLibrarian in each department. Two years later, the number admitted at one time was increased to fifteen. In 1774, the Committee suggested that on certain days visitors should pay for admission. The appointment of Joseph Planta, a native of Switzerland, as Principal Librarian, in 1799, opened a new era for the Museum, and three times a week, from ten to four, the Museum was opened without tickets. By various gifts and purchases the department of Printed Books' had been greatly enriched, and, in 1823, the library

of George III. was presented by George IV. to the nation, with characteristic generosity, on condition that its value (two hundred thousand pounds) should be paid.

Panizzi's appointment was worth about two hundred and seventy-five pounds a year. His first duty was to transcribe a catalogue of duplicates to be submitted to the Royal Society for their selection. About this time the Royal Society requested him to examine the sheets of a new catalogue which they were preparing. He found them full of errors, and refused to have anything to do with the catalogue. He was ordered to prepare a new one. He had, however, excited the anger of a member of the Society (who had prepared the catalogue) by his exposure of its errors, and, owing to this man's influence, he was thwarted and annoyed by the ignorance and prejudice of the Society for many years.

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Meanwhile, his reputation for skill and diligence steadily grew, until, in 1837, when the head of the department of Printed Books' resigned his post, Panizzi was appointed Keeper of the Printed Books. Mr. Cary, the translator of Dante, who was Panizzi's senior, was considered unfit for the post on account of the weakness of his health, but felt much aggrieved that he had not been appointed to the office. Sir Henry Ellis was the Principal Librarian. Mr. Fagan's book tells us that 'between Panizzi and Sir Henry Ellis there was no reciprocal feeling of friendship; indeed, at times, the former expressed himself so strongly that we prefer not to reproduce his remarks.' With Sir F. Madden, the Secretary of the Museum, too, he was not on friendly terms. After mentioning one rupture between them, Mr. Fagan says: 'Many other disagreements-amounting, by the animosity evinced, to something worthy of a worse name

we gloss over.' Thoroughly capable, Panizzi seems sometimes to have had little control of his temper, and often indulged in caustic satire on the work of others. Thus he made himself many enemies.

The want of sympathy between Panizzi and Sir Henry Ellis will be better understood if we look at the different views which they held concerning the proper scope of an înstitution like the British Museum. Panizzi entered on his work with three great ideas, which he sought to embody in his administration:

1. The Museum is not a show, but an institution for the diffusion of culture.

2. It is a department of the Civil Service, and should be conducted in the spirit of other public departments.

3. It should be managed with the utmost possible liberality.

Sir Henry wished to exclude visitors at the time when they were most at liberty to attend, because the most mischievous part of the population was abroad'; and in holiday weeks he desired to close the Museum, 'because the place otherwise would really become unwholesome.'

When Panizzi became Keeper, the catalogue of books was so much behind-hand that it was difficult to tell whether any specified volume was in the library or not. A new building had been erected for the books, and it was Panizzi's duty to see all the volumes, about one hundred and sixty-five thousand (exclusive of the Royal Library), removed to the new shelves, and to superintend every detail of the furnishing and fittings of the Library and Reading-Room. The magnitude of the work may be understood by the fact that when a year had been spent in removing the volumes, twelve thousand still awaited transfer. No interruption in the supply of books to readers occurred during

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these changes. It was a great triumph for the new head of the department. When he had informed the Trustees of his intentions, the Bishop of London said: 'It is impossible'; but amid all the claims made upon the library, Panizzi kept his promise.

In 1839, Panizzi gained a colleague-afterwards distinguished in a widely different sphere-the late Serjeant Parry. Panizzi soon became attached to him, and was not long in discerning his superior qualities. The new-comer was allowed to take liberties on which none of the rest durst venture. On one occasion, when all the assistants were mustered in solemn conclave, . . . . Panizzi asked these gentlemen to give their opinion on a portrait of himself. One of them remarked that it looked rather dark, when Parry said: “0! I have seen Mr. Panizzi look much blacker than that.""

Panizzi's hands were full. New rules were framed for the whole library; and, in response to a special appeal for help, Parliament, in 1846, made a grant of ten thousand pounds a year towards supplying the great deficiencies of the library. From that year the collection of Printed Books increased steadily, and at a rate unexampled in any other country.'

A letter to a friend in August, 1844, shows that other matters were not lost sight of: I am suffering from a painful swelling in the right wrist, that leaves me hardly strength to hold the pen. Lord Melbourne consoles me with assuring me that it is gout. I don't believe it, and will not. . . . . I am going to write an article on the Post Office for Welch, and one on the Jesuits and the French University, and another on Algiers. ....I cannot write more. Brougham came here the other day, shouting. laughing, joking and jumping like a boy, and pressing me to stay at his place when I go North; but I don't think I shall have time.'

Panizzi enjoyed considerable friendship about this time with Thiers. In October, 1845, he writes: 'Thiers has taken up all my time when here. It was I who brought him and Lord Palmerston together, and I have sent him away quite pleased with the reception.' Many letters passed between them, but about 1849 the correspondence ceased. The origin of this coolness, Mr. Fagan thinks, was probably due to the fact that Thiers declined to extend his love for Panizzi-or, at least, any beneficial effects of it-to Panizzi's countrymen in general, and thereby offended the ever-ardent patriotism of his friend.'

The intimacy which had existed for many years between Panizzi and the Right Honourable Thomas Grenville led that gentleman to bequeath his valuable library to the British Museum in 1847. It consisted of twenty thousand two hundred and thirty-nine volumes, all in admirable condition and beautifully bound,' which had cost their owner about fifty-four thousand pounds.

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had the habit of writing on a slip of paper, which he placed on the fly-leaf of the volume, a short sketch of how and when it was acquired; this was done in the neatest and clearest manner.' His books were constant companions: in his edition of Dean Sherlock on Death, he wrote: 'Read thirteen times in 1846.' These books were all transferred to the library in five days.

One of the most unpleasant duties which devolved on Panizzi, was that of enforcing on the publishers the delivery of certain copies of all books published by them to the authorities of the Museum. The first obligation to give copies of a work to any one was imposed in the reign of Charles II., when every printer was bound to reserve three printed copies, on the best and largest paper, of every book new printed or reprinted by

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him with additions'-one for His Majesty's library, and two for the Universities. After various changes and attempts to evade the Acts of Parliament, it was enacted in the reign of Queen Victoria that every volume, pamphlet, sheet of music, map or chart should be delivered to the Museum, under a penalty of five pounds and the value of the copy. In May, 1850, the Trustees gave Panizzi directions to enforce the provisions of the Act in their name. It was a difficult position, and his biographer says that it must be admitted, on the testimony of documents now before us, in his own handwriting, that his zeal was rather excessive; his battles with the publishers brought him odium, and at times even personal vituperation, although he himself undoubtedly in-tended to act with forbearance, and with that courtesy which was one of his chief characteristics.' He visited various towns of England and Ireland, meeting with innumerable difficulties in his task, but resolutely deter-mined to do his duty to the Museum and the public. Mr. Bohn, the publisher, was the most troublesome opponent who ever entered the listswith Panizzi. Proceedings at law and letters in The Times bore witnessto the severity of the contest between them. The Times, while extolling the. way in which Panizzi did his duty as a public servant, went so far in a leading article as to say: 'It is a la-mentable thing to see two such men engaged in so petty and so discreditable a warfare, the simple result of which will be to damage both combatants in the opinion of all sober and moderate men.' This unpleasant labour led to a large increase in the delivery of books at the Museum From nine thousand eight hundred and seventy-one (books, pamphlets, music, etc.) in 1851, the number rose to thirteen thousand nine hundred and thirty-four in 1852.

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