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BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY
British and Foreign School Society. A large educational institution; its central extensive buildings are at the corner of the Borough Road, Southwark, and of Lancaster Street, so named after its founder, Joseph Lancaster. The principles of teaching, long known as the Lancasterian system, were Christian and unsectarian. “As a Quaker," he said, “I cannot teach your creeds, but I pledge myself not to teach my own." About 1798 he began, as a youth, teaching poor children in a room of his father's in Kent Street. He then, with the aid of Friends, among whom were Mrs. Fry, the Stranges, and the Sterrys, went to Newington Causeway, and finally to the Borough Road. At length George III. and many other distinguished people, among whom was Sydney Smith, gave him substantial help. Fitted by his zeal to begin and to found such a great work, he yet lacked the judgment to manage a great system, as he did also the management of money matters ; so, although personally respected, the schools passed out of his hands. Mr. Lancaster was unhappily killed by a waggon in New York in 1858, being then sixty years of age. In the year 1859 these British Schools, as they were now called, had been the means of training some sixteen hundred teachers, and of affording instruction to about a million and a half of children. The success of the teachers was most remarkable in imbuing their scholars with the power and love of self-education.
The extent of the work has now become enormous, and can be best known through the perusal of the more recent reports of the Society.
British Coffee House, COCKSPUR STREET, existed as early as 1722, and was kept in 1759 by the sister of Bishop Douglas (of Salisbury), so well known for his works against Lauder and Bower, who is described by Lord Brougham1 as “a person of excellent manners and abilities." Her successor, a Mrs. Anderson, is said in Mackenzie's Life of Home to have been “ a woman of uncommon talents and the most agreeable conversation.” Robertson, the historian, dates a letter from here, April 20, 1759.
The house was then, and indeed long after, much frequented by Scotchmen.
The Argyll [Archibald, third Duke of Argyll] carried all the Scotch against the turnpike: they were willing to be carried, for the Duke of Bedford, in case it should have come into the Lords, had writ to the sixteen Peers to solicit their votes; but with so little deference, that he enclosed all the letters under one cover, directed to the British Coffee House !-Horace Walpole to Mann, February 25, 1750.
It was rebuilt in 1770. The design, by Robert Adam, was considered of high merit and a good architectural façade.
Lord Campbell belonged to a club of Scotchmen called The Beeswing, who met here.
It consisted of about ten men, who met once a month at the British Coffee House to dine and drink port wine. Spankie, Dr. Haslam, author of several treatises on insanity, Andrew Grant, a merchant of great literary acquirements, and George Gordon, known about town as “the man of wit," were members, and the
i Reign of George III., Men of Letters.
conversation was as good as I ever joined in ; but the drinking was tremendous.Life of John Lord Campbell, vol. i. p. 411.
The building was pulled down in 1886, and shops have been built on the site.
British Institution, 52 PALL MALL (for promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom ; founded June 4, 1805, opened January 18, 1806), was built by Alderman Boydell, to contain the pictures composing his celebrated Shakespeare Gallery. The building and its contents being subsequently disposed of by lottery (January 28, 1805), the gallery and many of the capital works of art, forming the principal prize, were won by Mr. Tassie of Leicester Square, who, selling his new acquisition by auction in the following May, the lease of the gallery was bought for the sum of £4500 by several noblemen and gentlemen, patrons of the Fine Arts—and the British Institution established in consequence. Two exhibitions were held in the course of every yearone of living artists in the winter, and one of old masters in the summer. On the foundation of the Institution Valentine Green, the celebrated mezzotint engraver, accepted the office of keeper, which he held till his death in 1813.
During the years 1808-1842 premiums varying in amount from £40 to £210 were given to exhibitors whose paintings were considered by the Directors to merit that distinction, £,6080 being in all thus bestowed; £9699 expended in the purchase of pictures, and £462 in the purchase of busts. The Institution continued till the end of 1866, when it was dissolved, its functions during the last twenty years having been limited to the holding of its two annual exhibitions. The exhibition of works of the old masters is now carried on by the Royal Academy in its winter exhibition. The gallery in Pall Mall was sold by auction April 6, 1867, and pulled down in 1868. A new building was erected on the site, and is occupied by the Marlborough Club.
British Museum, GREAT RUSSELL STREET, BLOOMSBURY. The British Museum originated in an offer to Parliament, found in the will of Sir Hans Sloane (d. 1753), of the whole of his collection for £20,000-£30,000 less than it was said to have cost him. The offer was accepted, and an Act passed in 1753, entitled “An Act for the purchase of the Museum or Collection of Sir Hans Sloane, Bart., and of the Harleian Collection of MSS., and for providing one general repository for the better reception and more convenient use of the said Collection, and of the Cottonian Library, and of the additions thereto." In pursuance of this Act the sum of £300,000 was raised by a Lottery; £20,000 paid for the Sloane Museum, £10,000 to the Duchess of Portland, heiress of the second Earl of Oxford, for the Harleian Collection of MSS., and £ 10,250 to the Earl of Halifax for Montague House (which see) in Bloomsbury—a mansion at that time sufficient for all the resources of the Museum. £12,873 was expended upon repairs to the house. The Cotton Library, mentioned in the
1 Thomas Smith, Recollections of the British Institution.
Act, famous for its historical manuscripts, was presented to the nation in 1700, and narrowly escaped complete destruction in the fire at Ashburnham House in 1731. The Harleian Collection comprised about 6000 volumes of manuscripts collected by Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford. The collections in Montague House were opened to the public January 15, 1759, for three hours a day. A visit to the Museum was, however, a formidable undertaking. Previous application had, in the first place, to be made in writing; “which writing shall contain the applicants' names, condition, and places of abode, also the day and hour at which they desire to be admitted.” “If the applications are approved by the principal librarian, the applicants, on applying at the porter's lodge at the time named, will receive printed tickets enabling them to see the collections,”—but “no more than ten tickets are to be delivered out for each hour of admittance, which tickets when brought by the respective persons therein named are to be shown to the porter ; who is thereupon to direct them to a proper room appointed for their reception till their hour of seeing the Museum be come, at which time they are to deliver their tickets to the proper officer of the first department: and that five of the persons producing such tickets be attended by the under librarian, and the other five by the assistant in each department. . . . That the spectators may view the Museum in a regular order, they are first to be conducted through the apartment of manuscripts and medals; then the department of natural and artificial productions, and afterwards the department of printed books, by the particular officer of each department." During the hour "each company” is to “keep together in that room in which the officer who attends them shall then be," and at the end of the hour they must “remove out of the apartment, to make room for fresh companies.” By this means sixty persons at most could visit the Museum in a day—a curious contrast to the present time, when on a public holiday it has been visited by from 30,000 to 40,000 persons. These stringent regulations continued in force for nearly half a century. In 1808 the rule was that on the first four days of the week “120 persons may be admitted to view the Museum in eight companies of fifteen each,” but whether tickets were required is not stated in the Official Guide—the first issued. In 1810 the Museum was opened on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from ten to four, and “any person of decent appearance who may apply between the hours of ten and two" was to be admitted without a ticket. It is now opened free every day under the conditions stated at the end. Large acquisitions of antiquities in 1801 and 1805 led to the establishment of a separate department of antiquities, and a new edifice of thirteen rooms built in the garden was opened in 1807. The Elgin Marbles obtained in 1816 were exhibited in a wooden shed. The acquisition of George III.'s library in 1821 made further additions necessary, and Sir Robert Smirke designed the large room called the King's Library, which formed part of a general plan for rebuilding the whole Museum.
This plan was proceeded with in sections, and it was not till 1845 that Montague House was finally demolished. The new portico was finished in April 19, 1847, but the building was not completed till some years later. The British Museum is a large quadrangular edifice -previous to the erection of the Houses of Parliament the largest secular building in London. The principal front, facing Great Russell Street, has a grand central recessed octastyle Ionic portico, with projecting columned wings, the façade thus forming a colonnade of fortyfour lofty Ionic columns. The pediment is filled with sculpture. As a whole the exterior is the noblest example of a great classic building in London, but, as has been but too commonly the case with such buildings, the interior is but indifferently adapted for the purposes for which it was designed. Alterations and additions made from time to time have lessened somewhat its original incapacity, and the recent removal of the geological and botanical collections to South Kensington has afforded increased space for the display of the remaining collections. The original building comprised four ranges of apartments, enclosing a large open quadrangle, and flanked east and west by official residences. The unaccommodating character of the building showed itself as the collections increased, and additional room had to be provided by erecting the Elgin Saloon and the Assyrian and other galleries on the west of the main edifice, and extensions for the library, etc., in other directions, to the injury, doubtless, of the rectangular symmetry of the original plan, but greatly facilitating the general arrangements. But the greatest innovation was the conversion of the central quadrangle into a Reading Room, and covering it with a dome which serves to indicate the site of the British Museum in a general view of London from any of the surrounding heights.
The government of the Museum is vested in 49 trustees— 24 by virtue of their offices; i by the appointment of the Queen ; 9 representing the Sloane, Cotton, Harley, Townley, Elgin, and Payne Knight families; and 15 chosen by the other 34. The chief officer is the Principal Librarian, under whom each department has its respective head or keeper. The collections of the British Museum have been largely the result of a succession of munificent Gifts and Bequests, of which the following are among the more important: Sir John Cotton, the Cotton MSS. and Charters formed by his grandfather, Sir Robert Cotton, and presented to the country
Major Arthur Edwards bequeathed (1738) his collection of books, and the interest of £7000 to the trustees of the Cotton Library. George II. gave the Royal Library of the Kings of England, consisting of about 10,500. volumes. George III. the great Thomason
1 With the gift of the Royal Library the royal Copyright Act, 8 Anne. Bentley (as Royal privilege of receiving gratuitously a copy of every Librarian) complained that the Act was evaded. book printed in the British dominions passed to By the new Copyright Act of 1842 pre-eminence the British Museum. The privilege was granted was given to the Museum. to the Crown, 14 Charles II., and renewed by the
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