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SOUTHERN ZOOLOGICAL ROOM. - Hoofed Animals: - Giraffe;
Walrus; Rhinoceros; Buffalo; Antelope.

Hippopotamus; Elephant; Llama; Bison; Armadillo; Deer.

MAMMALIA SALOON. - Bears; Monkeys; Cat Tribe; Dog Family;
Bear Tribe; Mole Tribe; Marsupial Animals; Seal Tribe;

Birds; Scraping Birds; Wading Birds; Web-footed Birds.

NORTHERN ZOOLOGICAL GALLERY. - Bats; Reptiles; Serpents;
Tortoises; Crocodiles; Frogs.

BRITISH ZOOLOGICAL ROOM. - Carnivorous Beasts; Glirine
Beasts; Hoofed Beasts; Insectivorous Beasts; British
Reptiles; British Fish.

NORTHERN ZOOLOGICAL GALLERY - _(continued)_. - Spiny-finned
Fishes; Soft-finned Fishes; Cartilaginous Fishes;
Sponges; Shell-fish; The Beetle Tribe; Butterflies and Moths.

EASTERN ZOOLOGICAL GALLERY. - Star-fish; Sea-eggs; Shells.


Minerals; Fossil Animals; Fossil Fishes; Fossil Mammalia.

THE EGYPTIAN ROOM. - Human Mummies; Animal Mummies;
Sepulchral Ornaments; Egyptian Deities; Sacred
Animals; Household Objects; Tools; Musical Instruments;
Toys; Textile Fabrics.

THE BRONZE ROOM. - Greek and Roman Bronzes.

ETRUSCAN ROOM. - Etruscan Vases

ETHNOGRAPHICAL ROOM. - Chinese Curiosities; Indian
Curiosities; African Curiosities; American Curiosities


EGYPTIAN SALOON. - Egyptian Sculpture; Egyptian
Coffins; Egyptian Tombstones; Sepulchral Vases;
Human Statues; Egyptian Sphinxes; Egyptian Frescoes.

THE LYCIAN ROOM. - Lycian Tombs; Lycian Sculpture.

THE NIMROUD ROOM. - Assyrian Sculpture.


Townley Sculpture; Antiquities of Britain.

PHIGALEIAN SALOON. - Battle with the Amazons.

ELGIN SALOON. - Elgin Marbles; Metopes of the Parthenon;
Eastern Frieze; Northern Frieze; Western Frieze;
Southern Frieze; Eastern Pediment; Western Pediment;
Temple of the Erectheum; Temple of Theseus;
Lantern of Demosthenes.



The money to found a British Museum was raised by a lottery in the
middle of the last century. Sir Hans Sloane having offered his books
and museum of natural history to Parliament, for less than half its
value (20,000£.), it was purchased, together with the famous Harleian
and Cottonian MSS., and deposited in Montague House, Bloomsbury, which
had been bought of the Earl of Halifax, for the sum of 10,250£. Of the
present British Museum this beginning forms a very insignificant part.
The nucleus was established however; and soon eminent men, who valued
their literary and scientific collections as storehouses that should
be accessible to all classes of students, began to turn their
attention to the collections in Montague House. Foremost among the
donors George the Second should be mentioned, as having made over to
the nation the royal library, together with the right of demanding a
copy of every book entered at Stationers' Hall. Successively, the
libraries of Sir Joseph Banks, Dr. Birch, Sir John Hawkins, Dr. Burney
and Garrick, and the Royal, Arundel, Lansdowne, Bridgewater, and other
MSS. were added to the great store. Captain Cook returned home with
additions to the museum of natural history; Sir William Hamilton's
collection of vases was purchased in 1772; the spoils of Abercrombie's
Egyptian campaign enriched the museum with some fine Egyptian
antiquities; grants of money secured the Townley marbles, the
Phigalian sculptures, and at last the Elgin marbles; and of late, the
accessions to the vast collection, including Layard's treasures, the
Xanthian marbles, fossils, birds, curiosities, from the frozen seas,
China, the solitudes of Central Africa, and other remote places, where
scientific men have been of late prosecuting their studies have been
received. In 1823 it was allowed by Parliament that the collection had
grown too large for the house in which it was crammed; and accordingly
in this year it was resolved to destroy the old residence of the Earl
of Halifax, and build a new structure on its site. Sir Robert Smirke,
the architect of the present structure, has certainly had good cause
to complain of the niggardly supplies voted from time to time for the
building, which has been twenty-eight years in progress. The
regulations for the admission of the public have fairly kept pace with
the progress of those liberal ideas to which the collection is greatly
indebted, and of which it is a monument. It will be interesting for
the visitor of to-day, to contrast the rules by which he is admitted,
with those that fettered his ancestors of the eighteenth century. In
the year 1759, the trustees of this institution published their
"Statutes and Rules relating to the Inspection and Use of the British
Museum." This instructive document may now serve to illustrate the
darkness from which, even now, we are struggling. Those visitors who
now consider it rather an affront to be required to give up their cane
or umbrella at the entrance to our museums and galleries, will be
astonished to learn, that in the early days of the museum, those
persons who wished to inspect the national collection, were required
to make previous application to the porter, in writing, stating their
names, condition, and places of abode, as also the day and hour at
which they desired to be admitted. Their applications were written
down in a register, which was submitted every evening to the librarian
or secretary in attendance. If this official, judging from the
condition and ostensible character of an applicant, deemed him
eligible for admittance, he directed the porter to give him a ticket
on the following day. Thus the candidate for admission was compelled
to make two visits, before he could learn whether it was the gracious
will of a librarian or secretary that he should be allowed the
privilege of inspecting Sir Hans Sloane's curiosities. If successful,
his trouble did not end when he obtained the ticket; for it was
provided by the trustees that no more than ten tickets should be given
out for each hour of admittance. Accordingly, every morning on which
the museum was accessible, the porter received a company of ten
ticket-holders at nine o'clock, ushered them into a waiting-room "till
the hour of seeing the museum had come," to quote the words of the
trustees. This party was divided into two groups of five persons, one
being placed under the direction of the under-librarian, and the other
under that of the assistant in each department. Thus attended, the
companies traversed the galleries; and, on a signal being given by the
tinkling of a bell, they passed from one department of the collection
into another: - an hour being the utmost time allowed for the
inspection of one department. This system calls to mind the dragooning
practised in Westminster Abbey, under the command of the gallant
vergers, to the annoyance of leisurely visitors, and of ardent but not
active archaeologists. Sometimes, when public curiosity was
particularly excited, the number of respectable applicants for
admission to the museum exceeded the limit of the prescribed issue. In
these cases, tickets were given for remote days; and thus, at times,
when the lists were heavy, it must have been impossible for a passing
visitor in London to get within the gateway of Montague House. In
these old regulations the trustees provided also, that when any
person, having obtained tickets, was prevented from making use of them
at the appointed time, he was to send them back to the porter, in
order "that other persons wanting to see the museum might not be
excluded." Three hours was the limit of the time any company might
spend in the museum; and those who were so unreasonable or inquisitive
as to be desirous of visiting the museum more than once, might apply
for tickets a second time "provided that no person had tickets at the
same time for more than one." The names of those persons who, in the
course of a visit, wilfully transgressed any of the rules laid down by
the trustees, were written in a register, and the porter was directed
not to issue tickets to them again.

These regulations secured the exclusive attendance of the upper
classes. The libraries were hoarded for the particular enjoyment of
the worm, whose feast was only at rare intervals disturbed by some
student regardless of difficulties. To the poor, worn, unheeded
authors of those days, serenely starving in garrets, assuredly the
British Museum must have been as impenetrable as a Bastille. We
imagine the prim under-librarian glancing with a supercilious
expression upon the names and addresses of many poor, aspiring,
honourable men - men, whose "condition," to use the phrase of the
trustees, bespoke not the gentility of that vulgar age. In those days
the weaver and the carpenter would as soon have contemplated a visit
to St. James's Palace as have hoped for an admission ticket to the
national museum.

These mean precautions of the last century, contrast happily with the
enlightened liberty of this. Crowds of all ranks and conditions
besiege the doors of the British Museum, especially in holiday times,
yet the skeleton of the elephant is spotless, and the bottled
rattlesnakes continue to pickle in peace. The Elgin marbles have
suffered no abatement of their marvellous beauties; and the coat of
the cameleopard is with out a blemish. The Yorkshireman has his
unrestrained stare at Sesostris; the undertaker spends his holiday
over the mummies, and no official suppresses his professional
objections to the coffins. The weaver observes the looms of the olden
time: the soldier compares the Indian's blunt instrument with his own
keen and deadly bayonet. The poor needlewoman enjoys her laugh at the
rude sewing-instruments of barbarous tribes: the stone-mason perhaps
compares his tombs with the sarcophagi of ancient masters. No
attendant is deputed to dog the heels of five visitors and to watch
them with the cold eye of a gaoler; no bell warns the company from one
spot to another: all is open - free!

Through the bright new galleries of Sir Robert Smirke, crowded with
the natural productions of every clime, the printed thoughts of the
greatest and best men, the marvellous art of forgotten ages, and the
poor barbarisms of savage life, we propose to conduct the visitor, in



On arriving in front of the British Museum for the first time, the
visitor will not fail to notice the Grecian Ionic facade, ornamented
with forty-four columns, and rising at its extreme point to the height
of sixty-six feet. The sculpture which decorates the tympanum of the
portico is the work of Sir Richard Westmacott, and is an allegorical
representation of the progress of civilisation. The spiritual
influences that have successively worked upon the savage natures of
the dark ages, have here distinct types. Religion tames the savage;
Paganism makes him a crouching sensualist; the Egyptian sees a God in
the stars of heaven; and then the mathematician, the musician, the
poet, and the painter set to work, and these prophets of mysterious
beauties realise civilised mankind. The visitor enters the museum,
after ascending a noble flight of steps, by a massive carved oak door,
into a fine entrance hall, the ceiling of which is highly coloured,
and the general decoration of which is Grecian Ionic. Here he will
observe, in addition to one or two of the Nineveh sculptures, at once,
three statues: one of the aristocratic lady sculptor, the Honourable
Mrs. Damer; Chantrey's statue of Sir Joseph Banks; and Roubillac's
study of Shakspeare, presented to the museum by David Garrick. Before
entering the galleries of the museum the visitor should observe, that
the building faces the four points of the compass, and that the facade
forms the southern line. This observation will facilitate a careful
and regular examination of the interior. Branching westward from the
entrance hall, then eastward to the gallery, is a noble flight of
seventy steps, the walls of the staircase being richly inlaid with
marble. Having ascended this staircase, the visitor's attention is at
once arrested by two stuffed giraffes - the giraffe of North Africa,
and the giraffe of South Africa, given to the museum by the late Earl
of Derby. These striking zoological specimens at once introduce the
visitor to


which is devoted, together with the next room to the east, to Hoofed
Animals. Looking eastward from the western side of the room he will
observe at once that his way lies down a passage, marked on either
side by formidable zoological specimens, which he would rather meet,
with their present anatomy of hay, than in their natural condition. In
the first room, near the giraffes, stand the walrus of the North Sea;
the African rhinoceros; and the Manilla buffalo. He will next observe,
that the walls of the room are lined with glass cases, about twelve
feet in height, and that in these cases various stuffed animals are
grouped. The groups in this room include the varieties of the
Antelope, Sheep, and Goats. Grouped together in two or three cases,
are the sable and other antelopes from the Cape of Good Hope; the
algazelle, and the addax and its young from North Africa; the
sing-sing, and the koba from Western Africa; the sassaybi; the chamois
of the Alps - the subject of many a stirring mountain song; the goats
of North Africa; the strange Siberian ibex; the grue and gorgon from
the Cape; varieties of the domestic goat, and the beautiful Cashmere
goat. Here also are specimens of sheep, including the wild sheep from
the Altai; the bearded sheep of North Africa; the American arguli; the
nahorr and caprine antelopes from Nepal; and upon the higher shelves
of the cases are grouped the gazelles from Senegal, Nepal, and Madras,
whose praises have been sung more than once. The beauty and grace of
these delicate creatures, with their taper active limbs, and the soft
expression of their heads, may be faintly gathered even from these
inanimate stuffed skins with the glassy eyes instead of "the soft
blue" celebrated by the poet. Grouped hereabouts are also the
four-horned antelope of India; the pigmy antelope from the coast of
Guinea; and the madoka from Abyssinia. Before leaving this room, or
ante-room, to the great zoological sections of the museum, the visitor
should notice the varieties of horns, - straight and tortuous, but all
graceful, - of different kinds of hoofed animals.

Advancing eastward the visitor arrives in


Here the visitor is still in the midst of the hoofed beasts. The way
lies between two rows of animals. Of these the visitor should notice
particularly the wild oxen of India and Java; compare the Indian
rhinoceros with that of South Africa; and notice the hippopotamus
family, from South Africa, as well as a diminutive specimen of the
Indian elephant, and a half-grown elephant, from Africa. Having
noticed these ponderous creatures, the attention of the visitor will
be next attracted to the Llamas, which are arranged in the first two
wall-cases. Of these, the wild are generally brown, and the tame of
mixed colours. The next fourteen wall-cases are filled with specimens
of the different species of Oxen and the Elephant tribe. Among the
former the visitor should notice the white bulls of Scotland and
Poland: the splendid Lithuanian bison, with his shaggy throat, a
present from the Russian Emperor; the bison of the American prairies;
and the elando. The specimens of the elephant tribe, ranged in the
upper compartments of these cases, include the tapir of South America;
the tennu, from Sumatra; the European boar, with its young; the
Brazilian peccari: and other curious animals. Here, too, are specimens
of the Armadillo tribe. The attention of the visitor will, however, be
soon riveted upon an animal which, with the beak of a duck and the
claws of a bird, has the body of an otter. In Australia (its native
country) this singular animal is commonly called a water mole, but to
scientific men it is known as the mullingong; it is placed in the same
order with its neighbour, the spring-ant or echidra, also a native of
Australia. Before leaving these cases, the visitor should pause to
notice the Sloths, and particularly the repulsive aspect of the
yellow-faced sloth of South America.

The visitor should now pass to the cases marked from 17 to 30. These
are devoted to the Horse tribe and Deer. Here the reindeer from
Hudson's Bay, the red fallow deer of Europe, the elk, and the cheetul
of India, will catch the eye immediately. The beautiful South African
zebra is here also, grouped near the Asiatic wild ass, and the
Zoological Society's hybrids of the zebra, wild ass, and common
donkey. The upper shelves of the cases are devoted, as usual, to the
smaller specimens of the tribe below. Here are the European roebuck,
the West African water musk, the Javan musk, the white-bellied and
golden-eyed musk. Having examined these zoological specimens, the
visitor should proceed on his way east to


This saloon is one of the most interesting parts of the exhibition to
the general visitor, as he sees here at a glance the various classes
of the highest order of the animal creation, all grouped after their
kinds, and in that gradation of development which nature has assigned
them. Those specimens which are placed on the floor in the central
space of the room include some large varieties of the Bears, and a few
small specimens of Seals, including the young of the harp seal, with
the white fur, which clothes them on their first appearance in the
world, and the young of the Cape of Good Hope eared seal; but these
isolated specimens should not engage the attention of the visitor
before he has followed the systematic arrangement or classification
adopted with regard to the animals deposited in the wall-cases that
line the saloon. The first series or family of animals to which,
according to Cuvier, his particular attention should be attracted are


ranged in the first eleven wall-cases. These cases contain the species
of monkeys found in the Old World. The varieties in colour, shape,
size, and attitude, are endless. Here are the green monkeys from
Western Africa; the white-throated monkey from India; the bearded
monkey, with a republican air about him; and the monkey who appears to
have had his ears pulled, but is in reality known to scientific men as
the red-eared monkey; both from Fernando Po: the Risley of monkeys,
called the vaulting monkey, with his white nose; and the talapoin,
from Western Africa; the gaudy macaque, known as the brilliant from
Japan; that dingy gentleman, the sooty mangabey, from Africa: the
African chimpanzee (to whom satirical gentlemen with a turn for
zoological comparisons, are greatly indebted); the ourang-outan, with
his young, from Borneo; the presbytes, dusky and starred, from
Singapore, Malacca, and Borneo; and the drill and mandrill, from
Africa. The Monkeys of the New World are grouped in six cases (12-18).
Herein the visitor should particularly notice the curious spider
monkeys, from Brazil and Bolivia: the negro monkey; the apes, with
large eyes, like those of the owl, called night apes; the howlers, so
called from the incessant howling they maintain at night in their
native forests; the quaint marmozettes and handsome silky monkeys; and
the Jew monkeys. The next two cases contain specimens of the lemurs,
more familiarly known as Madagascar monkies. Of these the flying lemur
is the most remarkable species. Specimens of this species are grouped
in the lower part of the cases; they are from the Indian Archipelago;
and in the texture of their skin and the loose and light way in which
it connects their limbs, they resemble bats. They nurse their young by
forming a kind of couch with their body suspended downwards from the
branches of a tree.

It now remains for the visitor to direct his attention to the fine
collection of


ranged in thirty-two distinct wall-cases in this room. The first
tribe, taking the cases in their order of succession, to which the
visitor's attention will be attracted on passing from the cases of
lemurs, is


The animals which he will find grouped in the first seven cases
(21-27) are properly Cats. Here is the South African lion, the fine
black leopard, which is pointed out to visitors as a beast that killed
its keeper; the lynxes of Spain, Sardinia, and America; the wild cats
of Europe; the curious booted-cat, imported from the Cape of Good
Hope; the American ocelots; and the Asiatic and African chaus. These
animals are picturesquely grouped in seven cases. In the next case, in
order of succession (28), are the hyaenas of South Africa and Egypt.
Here are the spotted hyaena, with its young; and the striped hyaena.
The three following cases are filled with varieties of the civet
family (esteemed for the strong scent which some of them, as the
African cibet and the Chinese and Indian zibet, yield), including the
hyaena civet from the Cape of Good Hope: genets and ichneumons, which
will be found on the lower shelves; and the Mexican house-marten. The
five following cases are filled with the varieties of


Here the sporting visitor may amuse himself by examining the points of
the Dogs of the four quarters of the globe. Here are the well-known
Newfoundland dog, the wild dogs of different climates, the four-toed
hunting dog of Abyssinia and South Africa, the Cape of Good Hope dog,
with its long ears; the varieties of fox and wolf; all expressing
great activity and extraordinary cunning. Ladies will be pleased to
notice a lap-dog almost hidden by his long hair, placed under a
particular glass-case: this exclusive little aristocrat is from

In the next case to which the visitor will direct his attention (38)
are grouped the varieties of the Mustelina, or Martens, of America and
Europe. These lesser specimens of the cat tribe, include the weasels
of Himalaya, Mexico, and Siberia; the American and European polecats:
the lesser otters, from the north of America and Europe; and the
curious animal known as the false sable of America. It is amusing to
notice the sameness of expression - that of cunning - shown in the heads
of every specimen of the cat tribe. The next case (39) introduces the
visitor to those mammalia which are included in


This tribe includes the Racoons, Otters, Badgers, Skunks, Gluttons,
and Bears. The case to which the visitor's attention is now directed,
contains the varieties of the glutton family - the Chinese musk weasel;
the European and North American badgers; the Javan stinkard, and the
American skunks and conepats.

The next case (40) is devoted to the otter family. These ingenious
animals are found in the four quarters of the world. Here are the
common European otter; the otters of Java and India; the clawless
African otter, from the Cape of Good Hope; and the sea and muffled
otters, from America. Next to these interesting animals, are some of
the bears, including the savage Arctic white bear, the Malay bear, and
the Indian sloth bear. Next to these bears, the racoons are grouped,
and they close the collection illustrative of the bear tribe. In the
case following those which contain the racoons is one (43) in which
the varieties of


are arranged. These include Moles from the four quarters of the world.
There are the North American marsh moles and long-tailed star-nosed
moles; the golden moles, from the Cape of Good Hope; the varieties of
the shrew-mouse, including the remarkable blue shrew-mouse of India,
the African elephant shrew, and the Russian musk shrew; the Javan
insectivorous squirrel; and a curious variety of hedgehogs, from
opposite quarters of the globe. Having examined these inferior
mammalia, the visitor will pass in direct order of succession to the
cases in which


are deposited. These fill nine wall-cases, and they should be
carefully examined, as exhibiting a peculiar economy of animal life.

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Online LibraryW. Blanchard JerroldHow to See the British Museum in Four Visits → online text (page 1 of 17)