The library: a magazine of bibliography and library literature/Volume 6/The library of the Royal Colonial Institute
|←?|| The library: a magazine of bibliography and library literature, Volume 6
The library of the Royal Colonial Institute
The Library of the Royal Colonial Institute.
THE title which I have selected for my paper is comprehensive enough to embrace a treatment of each section of the Library of the Royal Colonial Institute in all its aspects, but to deal with all of them even in the briefest way would require a much longer time than is at my disposal, so I shall, therefore, confine myself chiefly to the main points with respect to past and present conditions. So rapid has been the growth of Colonial literature, more especially of recent years, that a separate paper might well be written upon each of the divisions of the library, treating in detail the works regarding each of the British Colonies. Coming however, to the subject before us, I will first refer to two instances prior to the establishment of the Royal Colonial Institute, of the existence of similar institutions. As long ago as 1837 a society was formed with the title of the Colonial Society, for the purpose of affording a place of rendezvous to persons interested in the various dependencies of the Empire in every quarter of the globe, and by means of which information upon all Colonial subjects might be collected and circulated through the intercourse of many individuals having the same object in view. One of its chief purposes was stated to be the establishment in a convenient situation in the west end of the metropolis of an extensive library, consisting of all important works relating to the Colonies, together with a selection of the most approved maps, charts, and the latest surveys—in addition to a regular supply of one or more newspapers from each Colony. The Society occupied rooms firstly in Parliament Street, and afterwards in St. James's Square, but owing to insufficient support from those for whose benefit it was established, ceased to exist about five years after its inauguration, the contents of its library being sold, and many of the books have since found a home in this library. The second attempt was more limited in scope, and bore the title of the General Association for the Australian Colonies. This was started in 1855 for the purpose of furthering the welfare and prosperity of the Australian Colonies, and more especially of promoting the passing of the several Constitution Bills of those Colonies, and of entering into correspondence when necessary with the various departments of state of Her Majesty's Government. The founders of this association comprised amongst others, the following gentlemen, who subsequently took an active part in the establishment of the Royal Colonial Institute, and are at present amongst its most active fellows: The Right Hon. Hugh Childers, Mr. F. A. Du Croz, Sir Arthur Hodgson, Mr. Donald Larnach, Sir Charles Nicholson, and Sir James A. Youl, who acted throughout the society's existence as honorary secretary and treasurer, and is at present one of the warmest supporters and a Vice-President of the Royal Colonial Institute. The association at one time numbered 231 members, but during 1862, or only seven years after its establishment, it came to an untimely end, as its funds were not sufficient to carry out the varied and important objects which it was thought expedient to take in hand. The minute book and proceedings of the association, containing many important and valuable documents, were kindly presented to the library of the Royal Colonial Institute by Sir James Youl, and are interesting records of the work performed at that period in connection with the affairs of the Australian Colonies. Coming now to the more immediate subject of my paper, it is exactly twenty-six years ago that a few gentlemen, prominent amongst them being Viscount Bury now Earl of Albemarle, Mr. A. R. Roche, Sir James A. Youl, and other representatives of colonial interests met together with the object of forming a society, which should assume in relation to the Colonies a position similar to that filled by the Royal Society as regards science, and the Royal Geographical Society as regards geography, the result being the foundation of the present institution under the title which was adopted by its predecessor of 1837 of the Colonial Society, the prefix Royal being graciously sanctioned by Her Majesty the Queen, twelve months later. Inconvenience, however, arising from the similarity of the initial letters to those of the Royal College of Surgeons, the title was in 1870 changed to that of the Royal Colonial Institute. One of the chief objects of the Institute was the establishment of a reading room and library in which recent and authentic intelligence upon Colonial and Indian subjects might be constantly available, and my object to-night is to attempt to explain how well that part of the programme has been carried out by the Council on behalf of the Fellows, who have ever had in view the importance of procuring as complete a collection as possible of the literature of the Colonies and India, in order that reliable information might be supplied to those in search of knowledge regarding all parts of the British Empire. One of the first acts of the Council in the early days was the appointment of a deputation to wait upon the Secretaries of State for the Colonies and India, which offices were then held respectively by the Duke of Buckingham and Sir Stafford Northcote, afterwards Lord Iddesleigh, for the purpose of obtaining their official sanction and support, which was readily granted, in addition to which both those distinguished statesmen undertook to address the governors of the various Colonies and India in favour of the Institute, the result being that many works illustrative of the resources and progress of all parts of the Empire were received and formed the nucleus of the library in which we are assembled this evening. As another instance of the interest taken in the library during its childhood by the leading statesmen of that day, it is only necessary to mention the constitution of the first library committee, which consisted of the Right Hon. Stephen Cave, Mr. Arthur Mills, M.P., Sir William Denison, formerly Governor of Tasmania, and the Right Hon. Hugh C. E. Childers, who is now the sole surviving representative. These gentlemen, with the assistance of the Rev. Dr. Currey as honorary librarian, an office which was afterwards held by Mr. J. V. H. Irwin, were instrumental in enlisting the sympathy and co-operation of several prominent Colonists as well as publishers and authors, and so adding to the library many works of a distinctly Colonial character, besides drawing up lists of books suitable for purchase. Although the acquisition of a representative library was one of the chief aims of the founders of the Institute, it was quite impossible for a few years to devote any special grant for the purchase of books, owing to difficulties which had to be faced and overcome, both as regards insufficient space and a still greater obstacle, want of funds. The Council were, therefore, almost entirely dependent upon the generosity of donors for any substantial increase in the library. Hence it is not surprising to find that during the first five years of its existence the progress of the library was far from rapid, and that at the termination of that period, viz., 1873, the year following the commencement of my own connection with the Institute, the collection of books numbered slightly more than three hundred—many being of a very general character, and having no bearing whatever upon the Colonial Empire. These, it is needless to say, have since made way for others more suitable for so distinct a library. During that year, however, a small grant was set aside for the purchase of a few works, such as were absolutely necessary for purposes of reference as well as historically valuable, and never losing sight of the great importance of the question the Council have, by judicious and well-directed action, continued, and as circumstances permitted, increased the grant, by which means the chief works of note have been secured and the importance of the library has become firmly established and recognised. I have already stated that in 1873 the library contained about three hundred volumes, and in order to demonstrate its rapid growth from that time, it will be necessary to quote a few statistics which shall be of the briefest possible description. In 1881, or thirteen years after the foundation of the Institute, the first catalogue was printed, the library then containing 2,500 volumes. In 1886 a second catalogue upon a far more comprehensive scale was issued, the cost of publication having most liberally been defrayed by Mr. C. Washington Eves, and contained 7,291 entries, besides a catalogue of authors; whilst at the present time a new catalogue, to which I shall refer later on, is in course of preparation, which will contain the titles of over 20,000 volumes and pamphlets embracing every branch of Colonial literature. It will thus be seen that between the years 1881 and 1886 the rate of increase was about 1,000 volumes annually; whilst from 1886 to 1894 it has been more than double that number.
In the account of the progress of the library so far, I have chiefly referred to the acquisition of books by purchase, but the very substantial increase of recent years, is to a considerable extent attributable to the important and valuable donations from the various Governments of the Colonies and India and the Secretaries of State for those Departments, Societies, Universities, Chambers of Commerce, &c., in all parts of the Empire, as well as publishers, authors and Fellows of the Institute, residing both in Great Britain and the Colonies, who have all been actuated by one motive—the prosperity of the library of the Royal Colonial Institute. The Institute was first located in very modest quarters in Westminster, afterwards removing to two rooms in Suffolk-street, Pall Mall, which soon became too limited in extent, necessitating a further removal to rooms at No. 15, Strand, where under the able guidance of the late Dr. Eddy, and afterwards of Sir Frederick Young, as honorary secretary, its success became assured, and the solid foundations of the present building were laid, which now affords a convenient place of meeting for Colonists, as well as the chief centre in London for purposes of reference upon all Colonial subjects; where the student, the historian, the statesman, the merchant, and the ordinary enquirer may obtain full and reliable information regarding all parts of the British Empire. This brief glance at the early history of the library shows that the Council and Fellows have to a great extent created and steadily supported one and, in my humble opinion, the chief department of the Institute, and to those who have rendered the library what it is, the Institute owes a debt of ceaseless gratitude. It is almost impossible to realise or estimate the immense amount of good which its treasures have exercised in every direction. The circulation of information through its books has undoubtedly contributed to raise the tone of thought and feeling, and to educate the British public throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, as well as to create a desire for acquiring a knowledge of the extent and resources of the Empire among no inconsiderable portion of the community. As regards the books comprising the various sections of the library, to attempt a description, or even to enumerate all those that I, in my enthusiasm, might consider especially important, would be too great an undertaking, so I will content myself by briefly referring to the general plan of arrangement, and pointing out a few books that I have selected as deserving of special attention, and which you will have an opportunity of inspecting at the termination of my paper. The library is arranged in sections, each Colony occupying a distinct position in the several presses, every part of the British Empire being represented, from the great Dominion of Canada to the smallest island dependency ruled by the British Government. Among the collections of voyages are those of Hakluyt (black letter edition), Purchas, Churchill, Harris, De Brosses, Callander, Dalrymple, Burney, Pinkerton, Astley, Kerr, and others, as well as a complete set of the publications of the Hakluyt Society (presented to the Institute by Mr. Washington Eves), which contain rare and, in many instances, unpublished narratives of travellers and navigators which exhibit the growth of intercourse among mankind, with its effects on civilization, and recount the toils and adventures of those who first explored unknown and distant regions. In close proximity to the collections are the works of celebrated voyagers and navigators extending over a period of 350 years, and including those of Tasman (Dutch edition), of which a very complete translation appears in the third volume of Burney's Voyages, Dampier, Funnell, Cook, the volumes bearing upon that celebrated navigator's voyages numbering twenty-four, Anson, Sparrman, Vancouver, and Flinders, as well as the French voyages of Bougainville, De Gennes, Chabert, Dumont d'Urville, Sonnerat, Marion, La Perouse Baudin, who commanded the celebrated voyage of Peron and Freycinet, down to those of Lady Brassey and the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos, which were performed in far more luxurious style. In connection with the voyage of Flinders, I would draw your particular attention to what, in my opinion is the most valuable and, at the same time, unique treasure in the library. I refer to the collection of original pencil and water colour drawings by William Westall, A.R.A., who proceeded as landscape painter with that celebrated expedition of discovery and survey on the coasts of Australia during the years 1801 and 1802.
The sketches comprise views of King George's Sound, Port Lincoln, the head of Spencer's Gulf, Kangaroo Island, Port Phillip, Port Jackson, the Hawkesbury River, Keppel Bay, Port Bowen, Shoal Water Sound, Thirsty Sound, and the Gulf of Carpentaria; besides sketches illustrative of the natives, the flora, and fauna. The collection is one of the greatest historic interest, forming the entire existing series of the sketches made by the artist during the expedition, and having been drawn from nature on the spot. There are two remarkable illustrations of pictorial representations by the aborigines themselves—one in the interior of a cave in Cavern Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, with drawings of turtles, sword-fish, &c., and another of grotesque human figures and a kangaroo in a cave near Memory Cove, at the entrance of Spencer's Gulf. Before Mr. Westall accepted the appointment of landscape painter to the expedition, he stipulated that his original drawings should be returned to him after the requirements of the Admiralty had been fulfilled. The authorities returned them accordingly, and they have been in the possession of the family up to the time of their acquirement by the Institute, in November, 1889. Some of the drawings show signs of their partial submersion in the "Porpoise" (in which vessel the expedition embarked for England), when she was lost on Wreck Reef, situate to the westward of the southernmost point of the Great Barrier Reef. A few show indications of damage by small indentations. These marks were caused by the lively young midshipmen (one of whom afterwards became famous as Sir John Franklin), who amused themselves by driving the sheep that were saved from the wreck over the drawings, when they were spread out to dry on the coral sands of Wreck Reef.
The collection is also interesting to South Africans, as it includes several pencil drawings of Table Mountain and its vicinity, the "Investigator" having touched at Table Bay and Simon's Bay on her voyage to Australia.
There is also a set of water colour drawings of headlands and coast scenery, which were prepared (after the artist's arrival in England), for the purpose of being engraved in the published volume of charts of the expedition which accompanies Flinder's narrative. In connection with these engravings, it may be mentioned that after the celebrated voyage of the "Adventure" and "Beagle" (1826-1836), Captain King expressed to the artist his personal obligations for the artistic accuracy of his work. It appears that on the first approach to Australia of those vessels, during a heavy gale, there was some doubt as to whether they could venture to make King George's Sound, but, as they neared the coast, the entrance was so readily recognised by aid of the illustrations that both ships were enabled to sail in without hesitation, instead of beating about at sea.
The collection comprises 144 sketches, and at the time of its acquirement by the Council of the Institute, excited a considerable amount of interest, delegates being appointed in several instances by the Colonial Governments to inspect and report upon the collection, which has been described as the most beautiful and truthful which has ever been executed of the scenery of Australia. The announcement that these drawings had been acquired by the Institute caused Mr. William Essington King, a grandson of Governor Philip King, to present a water colour drawing of Government House, Sydney, painted by William Westall in 1802, which has been added to the collection. I have devoted considerable space to the collections, as well as the individual voyages, on account of their importance as affecting the whole of the Colonial Empire, and will now briefly refer to the other sections of the library. There are many works of an important character bearing upon the survey of the coasts of Australia, including Grant's narrative of the voyage of the " Lady Nelson," Captain Philip King's survey in 1818, the expeditions to Botany Bay of Tench and Governor Phillip, John White's voyage to New South Wales, Hunter's Historical Journal of the transactions at Port Jackson in 1793, and Collin's account of the English colony in New South Wales. These works lead us to the period of the exploration of the interior of Australia, in which section are the travels inland and across the continent of Allan Cunningham, Oxley, Sturt, Mitchell, Grey, Eyre, Stokes, Leichhardt, Burke and Wills, Jardine, McKinlay, McDouall Stuart, who fixed the centre of Australia and crossed the country from sea to sea, during 1858-62, and more recently of Giles, Warburton, Gregory and Tietkens, all of them household words in connection with Australian exploration. As regards general works upon the Australian Colonies, the collection is very complete, and comprises several rare works, in many instances unobtainable by the collector of the present day concerning the history, trade, resources and physical features of those Colonies. Amongst them are Wallis's Historical Account of New South Wales which is a curious work, containing twelve plates engraved on the common sheet copper employed in coppering the bottoms of ships, by Preston, a convict, and were the first specimens produced in the Australian Colonies. Lycett's Views of Australia, with descriptive letterpress, as well as a general account of the Australian Colonies, published in 1824; and the historical works of Wentworth, O'Hara, Braim, Therry, Lang, Coote, Sutherland, Rusden, Stephens Harcus, Moore, Labilliere and others, as well as Barren Field's Geographical Memoirs, Barton's Literature and Prose Writers, and the complete and voluminous Picturesque Atlas of Australia, consisting of three volumes and containing a history of those Colonies from their discovery to the year 1889, together with over 800 illustrations. I cannot quit the Australian section without referring to the many works of that veteran author, Mr. James Bonwick, most of which are in the library, and who is credited with the first important attempt to found a literary reputation in Victoria. His first work on Australia was published in 1848, and at the present time he is actively engaged on behalf of the Government of New South Wales in assisting, and in fact, performing the chief work in connection with the publication of the historical records of that Colony, and of Australia generally. In the department of ethnology Australia is strongly represented, the library containing all the principal works regarding its aborigines. Works of Australian fiction have not been omitted, the collection including those of Mrs. Martin, Miss Atkinson, Hume Nisbet, the celebrated works of Marcus Clarke, and those of the now famous Mr. T. A. Browne, better known as Rolf Boldrewood. In close touch with Australia are the works relating to Tasmania, New Zealand, New Guinea and Fiji. The Tasmanian collection comprises all the principal histories, including Parker, Melville, West, and Fenton, the writings of James Bonwick, and the excellent account of the aborigines by Mr. Ling Roth, as well as numerous minor works regarding general subjects. Coming to New Zealand, although the actual settlement of the country is an event of comparatively recent date, the literature connected with it is remarkably extensive and varied; but the Institute is in possession of one of the best and most representative collections to be found in any library, and embracing in addition to Tasman's voyage, the works of Nicholas Busby, Earle, Yate, Polack, Hursthouse, Grey, Thomson, Fox, Maning, Chapman, Heaphy, Terry, Dieffenbach, Hochstetter and Hector, the numerous writings of Mr. Colenso, Wakefield's Adventure in New Zealand, with the volume of illustrations, containing fifteen coloured plates, lithographed from original drawings, John White's Ancient History of the Maori, in six vols., the most complete work of its kind, and the scarce and valuable work of George French Angas entitled the New Zealanders, as well as the South Australians and Kafirs, by the same author, all of which contain numerous coloured plates with descriptive letterpress. In this section there are, also, two works of more than ordinary interest, viz., A Collection of Original Specimens of the Trees, Shrubs, and Flowering Plants of New Zealand; which were collected in 1840, by Mr. H. S. Tiffen, surveyor in the service of the New Zealand Company, all of which were named by Sir William Hooker; his original notes being placed alongside the specimens. This collection was specially made for the New Zealand Company and was presented to the library by our chairman, Sir Frederick Young, who was one of the original shareholders of the company. The other is a curious little work, entitled, The Cannibals, or a Sketch of New Zealand, published in 1832 by the Massachusetts Sabbath School Union, in Boston, U.S.A., consisting of sixty-six pages; but I have been unable to find any reference to it in any of the works relating to New Zealand, and have submitted it to several experts, who have neither seen nor heard of the work. Before leaving New Zealand I cannot but acknowledge the kindness of Mr. Charles Smith, of Wanganui, who on arrival in England last year, placed the catalogue of his own library at my disposal, in order that I might select from it any works which were not already in the Institute Library. By his kindness, many works which were published in the Colony were added to the library, and so vastly increased the importance of the New Zealand section. The New Guinea division contains 130 volumes and pamphlets, covering a period of one hundred years, and extending from the voyage of Sonnerat in 1776, to the travels of Bevan, Chalmers, D'Albertis, and the present energetic governor, Sir William MacGregor. Fiji is represented by sixty-six works, covering a period of eighty-one years, containing a general review of the past and present history of that thriving Colony. There is in addition a large number of works relating to the South Pacific, many of those scattered islands owing allegiance to the British Crown, and, therefore, being entitled to a place in the library. Leaving Australasia, the next section to claim attention is that relating to British North America; embracing Newfoundland, and the various provinces of the vast Dominion of Canada, which includes, in addition to what are termed the older provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, the North West Territories, and British Columbia. The history of Newfoundland is of considerable interest, inasmuch as it is our oldest Colony and owing to certain political events, still continues to occupy an amount of attention not vouchsafed to many of the larger Colonies. Its very early history will be found in the various collections already referred to, whilst for more recent information we have the works of Chabert, Reeves, Anspach, Chappell, Bonnycastle, Pedley, Hatton and Harvey, &c. The Dominion of Canada is represented by a vast collection; and although in no way complete, nevertheless contains all the chief works of interest regarding that portion of the empire including those of Rogers, Colden's History of the Five Indian Nations of North America; the complete works of the eminent historian, Francis Parkman a series of historical narratives, in which the romantic story of the rise, the marvellous expansion, and the ill-fated ending of the French power in North America is for the first time adequately told, and forms one of the finest themes that ever engaged the pen of the historian; the works of Heriot, Weld, Gray, and Bouchett's topographical and geographical account of Canada, which illustrated the ability and zeal of an eminent French-Canadian, one of many who has placed at the disposal of the student of the present day so much historical literature regarding the country. In this section are also the works of Catlin, Galt, Garneau, Smith, Lillie, Mrs. Moodie, Turcotte, Marshall, Gray, and Judge Haliburton, whose works have obtained a world-wide reputation and include The Clockmaker in which the eminent Judge created "Sam Slick," a type of a down east Yankee pedlar, "who sold his wares by a judicious use of that quality which is sure to be appreciated the world over, 'soft sawder and human natur.'" There is also a History of Nova Scotia, by the same author, which was, for a long time, considered the best work published on that particular Colony. The speeches of Joseph Howe also occupy a place in this section, and it is a curious coincidence that whilst a printer and publisher, Howe printed the first work of the humourist, Judge Haliburton. Among the more recent works are those of Leggo, Dubreuil, Ryerson, Dawson, Logan, Macoun, and Kingsford, whose history of Canada is now appearing in periodical volumes and is a most complete record of the foundation and progress of the Dominion. There are numerous works upon the Western province of British Columbia embracing those of Pemberton, Hazlitt, Mayne, Sproat, Macfie, and others. The writings of Dr. Bourinot comprise a library in themselves regarding the Parliamentary institutions of Canada as well as the intellectual development of the Canadian people, whilst most of Mr. H. J. Morgan's works will be found here, both those gentlemen being strong supporters of the Institute and liberal donors to its library. There is one other work which should be mentioned in connection with Canada, viz., Todd's Parliamentary Government in British Colonies, which is of recent date, and has gained a world wide reputation as setting forth the operation of Parliamentary Government in furtherance of its application to Colonial institutions. Closely allied to Canada is the section devoted to works on the Arctic Regions, which from a very early period in the history of our navigation, have been an object of curiosity and research, including those of Ellis, Hearn, Ross, Mackenzie, Franklin, Parry, Rae, Richardson, McClintock, Nansen, Greely, &c. The little Island of Bermuda, lying off the American Coast, is represented by twenty-four works. Turning now to Africa, which section comprises the Cape Colony, Natal, Matabeleland and Mashonaland, West Africa, East Africa, and African Travel, there are few instances where there has been so rapid an increase in the literature of any country, but in spite of the continuous flow of works, almost every publication of any importance at all will be found in the library. Regarding the Cape Colony, the works of chief importance are those of Kolben, Sparrman, Paterson, LeVaillant, Van Renen, Thunberg, Baines, Percival, Lichtenstein, Latrobe, Burchell, Pringle, and Harris, whose well-known work upon the game and wild animals of South Africa was preceded by a similar one which is now very scarce, and little known, entitled African Scenery and Animals, consisting of a collection of coloured drawings by Samuel Daniell published in 1804-5, this being supplemented sixteen years later by a second work by the same author, entitled Sketches representing the Native Tribes, Animals, and Scenery of South Africa. Amongst the more recent works upon the Cape Colony are those of Mackenzie, John Noble, whose admirable handbooks convey so graphic a description of the Colony, and the valuable collection of the writings of G. M. Theal, the historian of South Africa, which contain a complete history of Southern Africa from the period of the origin of European power to the present day. The work is based upon the records of the Cape Colony, which are carefully preserved at Cape Town, and furnish the most complete information that can be needed for the compilation of a history of the country, and contains copies of the various manuscripts and maps which have been preserved at The Hague. The records of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope relative to the aboriginal tribes, by Donald Moodie, published in 1841, is another very rare work which belongs to this section. Natal is represented by a large collection of works bearing upon the history, rise and progress of the Colony, whilst the most recent addition to the Empire, viz., Matabeleland and Mashonaland occupies a separate section which contains the works of the various writers upon that portion of Africa, prominent amongst them being those of Theodore Bent and F. C. Selous, both of whom in their own special spheres have done so much in making known the varied features of the country. There is a large collection of works regarding the West Coast of Africa, which includes the Colonies of the Gambia, Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and Lagos, whilst Eastern Africa and Uganda, although a somewhat limited section nevertheless contains all the chief publications upon that portion of the Empire. African Travel occupies considerable space, and embraces all the works of the early explorers as well as those of more recent times, both British and foreign, who have done so much in opening up the interior and so creating fresh markets for the disposal of British manufactures. Lying off the Coast of Africa on the one side are Mauritius and the Seychelles, and on the other St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan d'Acunha. The collection of works upon Mauritius and the Seychelles includes amongst many others the Voyage of St. Pierre in 1800, Grant's History of Mauritius, Bradshaw's Views of Mauritius with descriptive letterpress, and an account of Mauritius by Milbert, who originally left France with the expedition of M. Baudin, which he accompanied as landscape painter, but was left at Mauritius, owing to illness, when the expedition proceeded on its way to Australia, and devoted himself to a study of the affairs of that island, producing this work in 1812, together with a volume of plates. The best work upon the Seychelles is that of H. W. Estridge, the copy in the library containing several original water colour drawings. The St. Helena section consists of twenty-eight works, Ascension of eight, and Tristan d'Acunha, which as a rule is visited by a British war ship twice a year, of seven. Proceeding to the eastern possessions, there are many of the more important works on India, including Aden, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as well as separate sections for Ceylon, the Straits Settlements, with the outlying Cocos and Keeling Islands, Burma, Borneo and Hong-Kong. The Ceylon collection is a highly important and interesting one including the works of Knox, Ribeyro, Percival, Cordiner, Davy, Forbes and Emmerson Tennant, in addition to 160 other works bearing upon the history and progress of the island. The Straits Settlements are represented by eighty-six works, and Burma by fifty-eight covering a period of nearly a hundred years, from Syme's Embassy to Ava, published in 1800, to the present time. The works regarding Borneo and Labuan number over ninety including Beeckman's Voyage to and from the Island in 1718, Moor's notices of the Indian Archipelago (a collection of papers relating to Borneo), and all the chief publications of recent years. Upon Hong-Kong, the most eastern Colony, there are twenty-five works. Turning once more to the western hemisphere we come to the West Indies, in which section there are many rare and curious works regarding those islands, which have occupied so prominent a place in the history of colonisation and the Empire. Those worthy of your special attention are Ligon's History of Barbados, which was published in 1657; Hans Sloane's account of Jamaica, containing a large number of copperplates, illustrating the botany and natural history of the island; the two editions of Blome's Description of Jamaica, published respectively in 1672 and 1678; Davies's History of the Carribbee Islands, in addition to which there are many interesting works regarding the whole of the West India Islands, and including the Bahamas, British Honduras and British Guiana, the latter Colony being represented by 160 volumes and pamphlets, extending over a period of two hundred years, and including the writings of Bancroft, Schomburgk, Dalton, Bolingbroke, Brett and latterly of Darnell Davis, who has made a complete study of the early records of the West Indies, and im Thurn, who is the greatest living authority upon the interior of the country. The little Colony of the Falkland Islands has not been neglected, several works regarding this out-of-the-way possession being in the library, together with all the most important publications relating to exploration in the Antarctic Regions, where discoveries have been made which have added to the examples previously set by British seamen of patient and intrepid perseverance amidst the most discouraging difficulties. The Mediterranean Colonies or Dependencies, consisting of Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus occupy a separate section comprising seventy-seven works. For the botanical student there is a very comprehensive collection of the floras and botany of the various colonies, embracing the works of Aublet, Forster, Sweet, the floras of Ceylon, Barbados, Jamaica, Austral Africa, West Africa, the whole of Australasia, Hong-Kong, Canada, Mauritius, Bermuda, as well as Sir Joseph Hooker's Botany of the Antarctic Voyage of the "Erebus" and "Terror" in six volumes including New Zealand and Tasmania, the whole being illustrated with numerous coloured plates. There is also a collection of the poems of the principal Colonial writers beginning with Mr. James Montgomery's West Indies, a poem regarding the abolition of the slave trade, and those of Adam Lindsay Gordon, Kendall, Harpur, Domett, Brunton Stephens, Flanagan, &c., representing Australasia, Moodie and Pringle, the father of South African Verse, representing the Cape Colony, and Cameron, Duncan Scott, Sangster, Reade, and Roberts, the foremost name in Canadian song at the present day representing the Dominion of Canada. The remaining section of the library contains a collection of works upon the Colonies generally, their history, resources, Government and Trade, as well as Emigration and the important question of Imperial Federation, and embracing the works of all the chief writers upon Colonial questions during the past two centuries. The Parliamentary Library in another part of the building contains the proceedings of the legislatures of the various Colonies, together with the Blue Books, Parliamentary Debates, Statutes, and Government Gazettes, which are regularly supplied by the Colonial Governments and carefully preserved for purposes of references. Colonial Directories and Handbooks regarding all the Colonies and general works of reference published in this country, such as the Encyclopædia Britannica which was presented by Mr. F. H. Dangar, a member of the Library Committee, form a special feature of the library, whilst a collection of over 300 colonial newspapers and magazines, generously presented in many instances by the proprietors, supplies a mass of information regarding current events throughout the whole of the British Empire, and at the same time constitutes a rich fund for the investigation of future historians. Back files of the newspapers are presented annually to the British Museum, where they are preserved and rendered available to Fellows of the Institute by the Museum authorities. Having taken a cursory glance at the contents of the library, I will very briefly refer to its catalogue, which is now in the printer's hands. The system I have selected is similar to that adopted by Mr. S. W. Silver, to whom I am greatly indebted for many hints, as well as to Mr. E. A. Petherick, the compiler of the York Gate Catalogue, which, in my opinion, is the most suitable and at the same time simple for so distinct a collection as that of the Royal Colonial Institute. Whilst it facilitates research, it shows at a glance all the works which the library contains upon any particular Colony, with the additional advantage of a chronological arrangement. And not only will the catalogue contain the titles and authors of the various books and pamphlets, but it will also embrace the contents of the collections of voyages and travels, as well as the titles of all papers bearing upon the Colonies which have been read before societies scattered over all parts of the world, magazine articles, and special reports contained in parliamentary papers, all of which have been carefully extracted and placed under the subject, or Colonies, to which they immediately refer. With regard to the magazine articles, it is a well-known fact that the deepest thinkers and most able writers frequently seek a medium of communication with the public in the leading magazines, and in many instances an article will be read when a volume cannot be touched, a reason which induced me to include in the catalogue the titles of such articles as relate to the Colonies, all of which are carefully indexed, and so rendered easily accessible. It will thus be seen that the catalogue embraces the present contents of the library, arranged in such a manner as will show the full titles of books, pamphlets, &c., upon each Colony in the order in which they have been published, together with an index of authors and contents which makes it historical, as well as illustrative in its character. In conclusion I will only say that, with such a record as it has been my privilege to submit to you, the Royal Colonial Institute can look back with pride on its work in the past, and with hope for that of the future, especially as regards its library, which, I uphold, is the most complete and valuable of its kind in existence, as representing that which it has for so many years advocated, and is so forcibly expressed in the two words of its motto "United Empire."
- Read at a Special Meeting of the Library Association, May 29, 1894.