HC Deb 15 July 1842 vol 65 cc200-1

On the question that the sum of 4.740l. be granted to enable the trustees of the British Museum to purchase certain collections now offered to them.

Dr. Bowring

wished to know why all the money required for the Museum should not appear under one head?

Lord Stanley

The Government were quite aware of the ordinary current expenses of the Museum; but when particular offers were made of particular collections, which it was for the advantage of the public should be accepted, then a specific vote became necessary.

Mr. Hume

said, he thought some of these collections were purchased at prices far exceeding their value. He wished to know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer received any reports relative to the value of the collections previous to their purchase, from persons who were qualified to form a just opinion of their worth; and if, that was the case, whether there was any objection to present those reports to the House?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the opinion of parties competent to judge of the value of these collections was always taken before the Government consented to purchase them. There was no objection to print these reports, if the House expressed a wish for their production.

Mr. Ewart

said, the celebrated drawings collected by Sir Thomas Lawrence had been recently purchased by the University of Oxford. He considered that such a collection as that to which he referred to ought to have been placed in London, for a French writer had justly said that such places as Oxford were the cemeteries of the arts. He wished, therefore, to ask whether facilities for the inspection of these splendid drawings would be afforded to artists who would probably resort to Oxford—as well from abroad, as from all parts of this country—for the purpose of viewing them.

Sir R. Inglis

thought he. was bound to say that the collection to which the hon. Gentleman alluded would not have been obtained by the University, had it not been for the liberality of a noble Friend of his, Lord Eldon, who had subscribed 4,000l. towards the fund for their purchase. With reference to the question of the hon. Gentleman, the University of Oxford would of course exercise their discretion with regard to their own property; but he might state that they never had refused to admit artists, as well as other persons, to view this collection; and he had no reason to suppose that they would depart from this practice.

Vote agreed to.