The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4
Appendix A. — "The India Museum Question."
"The India Museum Question."
Seven years ago I had the honour of explaining in this room the details of a scheme for extending the usefulness of the India Museum by means of the preparation of sets of trade collections for distribution in this country and in India; and at the same time I took occasion to suggest that England, which participates in all the advantages resulting from the existence of the India Museum, should likewise share in the cost of providing a suitable building for it. I am here this evening to indicate the progress which the question has since made in public estimation, and to lay before you the actual state of the matter.
In discussing the present position and the possible future of the India Museum, it is impossible to consider it apart from the other great museums of this country, or apart from the prevailing opinions with regard to the proper functions of museums generally. This Society, which has ever been the champion of the application of science and art to practical industry, and of the introduction of scientific and artistic teaching into education, is the last body which requires to be convinced of the great services which museums can render to this cause. But it is impossible to deny that the public at large has no adequate conception of the practical importance of the objects which the existing museums promote, and feels no very warm interest in the work, looking upon it very much as it would look on the expedition for the observation of the transit of Venus, with wonder how such large sums of public money come to be spent for objects of such apparently remote usefulness. Thus the public, although it accepts whatever is done for it with a kind of hesitating gratitude, is reluctant to co-operate heartily in any efforts for the further extension of museums. At any rate the small advantage taken of the facilities afforded under the Free Libraries and Museums Act, is a proof that there is as yet no popular appreciation of the services which either of these institutions is capable of rendering. There is this to be said, however, that the whole art of using museums for the accomplishment of practical purposes has hardly as yet advanced beyond the tentative or experimental stage. The practical tendency noticeable in all the museums established or advocated during the past twenty-five years is due mainly to the influence of exhibitions, especially of that of 1851. Up to that time museums were institutions almost exclusively devoted to scientific purposes, and it is only since then that the idea has gained ground of using them as instruments for directly influencing practical life, by disseminating through their means information on current economic or domestic questions. I need only mention a few of the directions struck out by the pioneers of the new movement. There are museums of applied science, or technical museums, such as the one in Edinburgh, planned by the late Professor George Wilson. There are museums of applied art, like the South Kensington Museum, with which the name of Sir Henry Cole will ever remain associated, and there is another direction which in the end promises to be as fruitful as any. It is that traced out by the efforts of Mr. Twining, for the establishment of museums illustrating social and domestic economy. The designation of a pioneer may likewise be justly given to Mr. Lyon Play fair, to whose consistent and eloquent advocacy the cause of museums is largely indebted. Of all these museums, however, only those referring to applied art have as yet acquired any wide sphere of influence, or have already become facts of national importance, though even their influence is still capable of great extension. I may also be allowed to mention that the special circumstances of the India Museum are particularly favourable to the development in another direction of the practical usefulness of museums, viz., that of their application to the furtherance of commerce, though hitherto not much more than a few preliminary attempts could be made to give practical effect to the idea. In general, it may be concluded that, with the partial exception of the art-museums, the principal result of the past twenty-five years has been rather one of promise than of performance, consisting rather in the acquisition of a good deal of experience with regard to the proper organisation and efficient management of museums, than in the accomplishment of any practical results on a large scale.
There has, however, been no time more likely than the present to bring museums into great request. There is a wide-spread feeling that our manufactures and our commerce will have in page 40 future to depend more on scientific knowledge than they have hitherto done. The action taken by this Society in the matter of technical education, and the labours of the Royal Commission on Scientific Education, are a sufficient proof of the growing desire for technical knowledge. With regard to the defects of the present commercial training, the note of alarm was sounded a short time ago by Sir Bartle Frere, who was surprised to find that the trade of Eastern Africa was chiefly in the hands of the German houses, and he attributed their success, there and elsewhere, to a superior commercial training. Eastern Africa is by no means an isolated instance. If Sir Bartle Frere had visited Polynesia or Southern America, he would have found German houses equally prominent there. To show that their education in reality prepares them for commercial enterprise of a character so unusual in the case of countries without colonies, I may mention as an instance of the thoroughness of German commercial teaching, that a distinguished writer on commercial and technical subjects lately sent me an account of the trade routes between India and Central Asia, taken from the usual course of instruction at one of the German commercial schools, and showing that even with regard to such a remote subject the knowledge possessed by an average German clerk is likely to be more correct and ample than that to be found in the offices of most of our East India houses. And the result of this attention given to geographical and natural science is not only that Germany now shares with us the honours of African explorations and Arctic expeditions—which some people might perhaps not grudge—but also begins to take year by year a large share of the profits and influence to be derived from our position as carriers and agents for the commerce of the world.
Now, as regards the problem both of technical and commercial information, I feel convinced that mere scientific teaching will produce but slight results, and that the true solution lies mainly in the establishment of efficient technical and trade museums. Such a course is alike in accordance with the whole current of modern thought and practice throughout the entire field of their relations with external nature, as also in accordance with the most marked mental characteristics of the English race. The characteristic of modern methods, alike perceptible in the case of research and discovery as in the mode of imparting information, is to increase the direct contact with nature, and to develop the power of personal observation and the art of drawing correct inferences from the observed facts,—to acquire, in short, the power of using facts instead of cultivating a mere aptitude for receiving the impressions and ideas of others. It is to the influence of these tendencies that must be attributed the more and more extended use of "object lessons" in primary education, and of laboratories and museums in the higher education. And one of the great advantages of this method is, that it is applicable not only in education—i.e., in the training and instruction of those preparing for practical life—but that it is likewise the most efficient method for communicating information to those who have already entered upon practical life, that is, to the active classes of the community. This is more especially true of this country. The practical classes of England depend for their knowledge almost exclusively upon experience and observation. Book learning is little used, and even less valued, and they certainly have no aptitude for assimilating abstract and theoretical ideas. Thus the influence of what may be called technical literature is exceedingly limited even in this age of print. I was surprised, on the occasion of my recent experiments in Manchester, to find that I could not procure a single scientific account of cotton spinning; and curiously enough, one of the fullest books on the subject seemed to be merely an English version of some lessons on cotton spinning in use at a German technical school. A collection of actual specimens or models seems to afford the best handle, so to speak, for the minds of the classes in question, for of all modes of imparting instruction a visit to a museum is most akin to direct personal experience and observation.
I have given this prominence to the problem of commercial information, because a short description of the action which the India Museum can take in this respect gives a good opportunity of pointing out some of the special features of that museum, whilst also affording an example of the practical application of principles which, in my opinion, should guide its action in other fields and be applied to all the chief or central museums throughout the country.
On the occasion of my former paper on Trade Museums, and on several occasions since, I have so fully explained the principles of arrangement with regard to them, and the mechanical details connected with their execution, that a very brief description will now suffice. (See also Appendix B. p. 47.)
A trade museum containing ample reference to all Indian products of any commercial importance will consist of several thousand specimens, arranged in such a manner that the whole collection may be exhibited in a moderate-sized room. The specimens will be grouped in strict accordance with the established trade classification, and at the side of the Indian specimens will be placed similar articles produced in other countries, and competing with India in the markets of the world. In connection with each page 41 article there will be drawings and illustrations referring to its natural history, or to processes of manufacture; there will be cartographic illustrations of the localities, and of the extent of its production, and in many cases diagrams showing the rise and fall in prices, and other statistical details. By the use of such graphic methods of representing information the utmost concentration will be obtained, and it will be possible to exhibit the plates containing the information by the side of the actual product to which they refer. A trade collection of this description will represent the essence as it were of the extensive commercial collections at the India Museum, and it will at a glance supply an amount of information on each product which it would at present be utterly impossible for the public to procure from any sources accessible to it. At the same time the information afforded by these collections can be brought within reach of the mercantile community of the whole country as well as of India, by the simple expedient of producing at once as many identical sets of the collections as there are places interested in Indian trade. The whole country would thus share in the advantages arising from the existence of the India Museum. It may even be considered that compact collections, like those described, will on all usual occasions be more convenient for reference than the bulkier original collections in the parent museum. It is impossible, however, to expect that the small collections can replace the original museum whenever a difficult or obscure point is in question, nor in any case which requires scientific or technical investigation. Thus, on all such occasions, reference will have still to be made to the India Museum itself. Another important function of the museum will be to keep the information supplied with the trade collections always up to the level of the times, and to take advantage of every opportunity of supplementing the gaps, which of necessity will at first be numerous.
Trade collections arranged on the above principles would be interesting, whatever the country to which they referred, even it were one already well-known. But all the circumstances of India combine to make such collections in its case specially valuable. In the number of characteristic and valuable products, India surpasses every other country, so that the information must be interesting, whilst at the same time the distance of India from this country, its magnitude, the character of its climate, and the small number of Europeans, render the information more difficult of attainment. Considering, therefore, the special interest attaching to commercial information bearing on India, and considering also that, as already mentioned, there is at the present moment a widespread feeling in favour of extending the facilities afforded in this country for commercial information in general, it is not surprising that the subject of the India Museum has of late attracted considerable attention on the part of the Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom, a number of which have already given practical evidence of their belief in the value of the kind of trade collections here advocated, by subscribing for the textile work now in course of production in my department.
Let me now point out the manner in which the principles embodied in the plans for the trade museums bear upon the successful solution of the important problem indicated at the beginning of the paper, i.e., upon the use of museums for directly influencing the practical life of the country.
In the first place, the trade museums have a definite practical object in view, and will be designed solely with reference to the wants and interests of the special class vitally interested in the accomplishment of that object. A strict adherence to this principle is at the root of the practical efficiency of all museums whatsoever. At first sight it might appear that the national purpose of a museum will be better attained by keeping in view the public generally, and not a special class only. Such an opinion has a plausible sound, but it is, in reality, a dangerous fallacy, and one to which all failures of the past years as regards museums and exhibitions can be directly traced. You want to influence the practical life of the country. But practical life means action, and to influence practical life you must influence the actors. Unless they are reached, no amount of general interest or sympathy on the part of non-actors will be of the least avail. It needs no explanation that the whole work of the country is done by special classes, of which each makes it its business or its vocation to do a portion of the general work of the country. The national purpose of a museum is fulfilled if the work of the country is advanced, and this is done by rendering to each worker, in his own special work, whatever assistance the museum is capable of affording. Moreover the public at large is the sum of all special classes. If the merchant, the manufacturer, the agriculturist, the engineer, the artist, and the scientific man, have each been specially provided for, can it then be said that the public in general has been left out in the cold? I am far from denying that there are no matters in which the general public is interested as such, that is, in which the subject on which the information bears, is, or ought to be, of equal practical importance to every individual member of the public. Such subjects are, for instance, the knowledge of the laws of health, the formation of a correct public taste in art, the diffusion of those general scientific ideas which page 42 make the whole difference between a cultivated and a barren mind. I shall subsequently have occasion to show how wide is the application, even in these fields, of the principles exemplified in the plans for the trade museums. In this case, likewise, success can only be anticipated by keeping each kind of museum strictly to its special function, and keeping it clear of those details which may be all-important in the case of scientific or of business museums.
The consequences of this strict specialisation of the collections are important. By being addressed to an informed public, instead of to an ignorant one, a high standard of excellence is introduced. Whatever commercial information is of no use to a merchant, is of no use to anybody else; whatever technical information is of no use to the manufacturer, has likewise no useful purpose whatever, and so on. Every collection will thus be judged by the highest professional standard. If a collection is a scientific collection, it fails in its purpose if it does not satisfy all the conditions of scientific classification and arrangement, even though ignorant people might be taught a few notions by it. If a collection has a practical purpose, it also fails in accomplishing it, if it be not so accurate and complete that practical people will refer to it for information, although such a collection may have a certain interest for school boys, or for people not acquainted with the subject. All vague, inexact, or indefinite so-called popular knowledge is thus eliminated, and the much misused tendency of modern times towards what is called the popularisation of knowledge is restricted to the subjects in which alone it is of public advantage, that is to the fundamental and rudimentary principles of general science and art, but not to either pure science, or applied science, or applied art.
Another advantage of the specialisation of museums is that it introduces a test of success different from that now too commonly adopted. The real test should always be that of success in getting some work done, or in assisting towards it, and should not consist in what is called popularity, measured by the number of people who have visited a particular institution. An appeal to numbers always means an appeal to the ignorant many, and not to the informed few. It leads infallibly to popularity hunting and to a preponderance of attraction and show over solid instruction, for it is quite conceivable that increased popularity may be achieved to the detriment of real work. Thus suppose that a great scientific museum like the British Museum were to adopt any regulations, which, whilst facilitating the access of the public to the scientific collections, should at the same time interfere with scientific research—I am speaking here quite irrespective of any actual arrangements at the museum, and without any intention of expressing any opinion whether that venerable institution is at the present time too much or too little accessible to the public, or, indeed, even to the men of science outside its pale—but in the above hypothetical case there would be an increase of useless popularity, and at the same time a diminution of real useful work. Besides, it is often found that even popularity is more easily achieved by satisfying the few specially acquainted with the subject, for their authoritative approval will, as a rule, sway the opinions of the less informed masses.
The second leading principle kept in view in the plan for the establishment of trade museums is that such museums, in order to be useful to the practical classes, ought not merely to contain the materials for study or inquiry, but also a direct representation of results, i.e., conclusions rendered apparent by the very mode of exhibition, description, and arrangement, so that the mere attentive inspection of the series of specimens and illustrations will enable the visitor to gather at once all the main bearings of the subject. A vitally important consequence of this method is, that by systematically discarding all specimens, the bearing of which on the purpose of the collection is not clear or is unimportant, and by excluding all undigested information, the size of collections is most materially reduced, and that, moreover, information compressed into such a small compass gains in clearness and in practical usefulness. Two cardinal objections to the extended use of museums are thus removed. One of the main obstacles has always been their anticipated costliness, but with small compact collections, accompanied by condensed information, like those here in view, this difficulty will in a great measure vanish. Another and even more formidable objection to the use of museums has always been their presumed scientific character, which would render them of little use, except to people who already possess a considerable amount of scientific training.
This is undoubtedly true of all museums in which the specimens are arranged without reference to specific practical purposes, and are not accompanied by the necessary information. A tedious process of investigation, for which practical men are little suited, is in that case required, in order to arrive at a practical conclusion. It is some experience of this kind which has in the popular mind rendered the word scientific too often synonymous with difficult, abstruse, or unintelligible—and which has led it to oppose practical or useful to scientific or useless information. But surely it is possible to combine science in the methods of investigation, with practical clearness in exhibiting the results of investigation. Of all the kinds of information which have ever been sup- page 43 plied by State effort, there is none which has a more distinctly practical character than that supplied by astronomical or meteorological observations for the guidance of the mariner, or that supplied by the maps of the Ordnance Survey to the railway engineer, to the agriculturist and merchant—or than the information obtained by the Geological Survey. And yet the methods by means of which all this practical information has been worked out, are of the most scientific and abstruse kind. In fact, the only reason why the supply of information is ever undertaken at the public cost is found in the fact that, in many cases, information which may be urgently required for the conduct of practical affairs is yet of such a nature that its elaboration necessitates an amount of skill and science which practical men cannot be expected to possess, or that it requires an amount of trouble and such a long period of patient application, that practical men cannot spare the time which they would have to devote to it in order to accomplish the work by themselves. Hence the greater the complication of a problem, the greater is the amount of science or of time required to produce conclusions available for practical use, and the more difficult becomes the position of the individual, and the greater the necessity for public action. Thus, as regards commercial information, the India Museum ought to occupy a position similar to that occupied by the above-mentioned surveys and observatories in their departments. It ought to be a skilled organisation which will gather from the natural sciences —from geography, technology, and statistics—all facts and conclusions directly applicable to Indian trade, and render them universally available for the mercantile community.
To argue that such a proceeding is useless because private trade itself would in course of time arrive at a sufficient knowledge of all the practically important facts, is to argue in complete misapprehension of the issue. In course of time, yes! but in what time, and at the cost of how many blunders and failures? If narrowly investigated, it will be found that public action in the collection and elaboration of information does not, as a rule, ensure that facts will be discovered which otherwise would not have been ultimately discovered, but solely that time is gained, that important fact is discovered sooner, and that information becomes public property in a shorter time than it would have been without public action. To illustrate the matter by a few examples:—Ships had sailed before the establishment of observatories, and would have gone on sailing to this day had such institutions never been called into existence, the only difference being a greater loss of life and property. Railways would have been built without the help of the ordnance maps, and mines sunk without the help of a geological survey, only there would have been more trouble and more blunders. To take another example, the existence of the South Kensington Museum has in no way originated the movement of artistic reform now pervading all England, although it has accelerated its pace. After Pugin had first traced the principle of functional truth and organic development in architecture, and after Ruskin had shown the application of the same ideas to the whole range of art, whilst Owen Jones established their application to colour and ornamentation, it was quite certain that those ideas would in time prevail, because in a progressive country like ours, all ideas founded on truth and nature will always force themselves, though gradually, into general acceptation. South Kensington has not developed a single man with artistic initiative who can be compared to those just named; nor has it added a single new idea to those which men propounded before it was ever thought of; but there are many ideas which but for it would have continued to this day as mere suggestions, instead of being already widely introduced into the practical arts of this country.
It is impossible to speak too strongly of the importance of time in practical affairs. Economy of time—saving of trouble—which means in addition to time the saving of purpose and energy, are all various aspects of that systematic economy of force which is characteristic of the whole of our powerful industrial organisation. Besides, practical progress under the influence of competition becomes a race, and in a race time wins. To be indifferent whether certain points of practical information will be known sooner or later, is like being indifferent whether one goes to a certain destination by rail or by road. Thus, the trade museums here described will completely fulfil this purpose if they save a certain amount of time to practical men; if they make public property knowledge which is now practically a monopoly; if they enable each new man to start with the accumulated experience of his predecessors. Every hour saved in the acquisition of information, every letter, every journey spared, leaves so much more time and energy for the conduct of business, and must result in increased profit to the individual, and in increased productiveness to the country.
I have devoted so large a proportion of this paper to the consideration of the practical usefulness of the India Museum, not because I think that commercial usefulnesses the sole, or indeed the most important, of the purposes to which the museum can be devoted, but because in dealing with the political importance of a full representation of the history, art, science, literature, and social condition of India, I should otherwise have had to rely mainly on the proof page 44 of moral effects. Now, I am the last man to despise moral effects, but after all, to a great extent, moral effects are a matter of opinion, whilst practical effects are a matter of fact; and belief in moral effects may often be founded only on the strength of conviction, or on the existence of certain predisposing sympathies, whilst the existence of practical effects is a matter of direct evidence; besides, if only moral effects are insisted on, Englishmen, as a rule, begin shrewdly to suspect that there are no practical results to fall back upon, although, if they are once satisfied that the matter has a practical backbone in it, they are willing enough to accept, in addition, all the moral advantages
In dealing now with the subject of the India Museum as a whole, the shortness of time at my disposal this evening prevents me from entering into any detailed description of the leading groups, or into any detailed explanation of their probable influence. For all those details I must refer to a paper which I prepared on the subject for the Oriental Congress of last year, and which has been lately published.* I will restrict myself now to a rapid sketch of the main outline of the proposals contained in that paper, and to a few remarks on the special features of the programme of action therein recommended, commenting on it especially in so far as it is likewise applicable to the management of the other great museums of the country. I need hardly say that the views which I am about to explain are entirely personal views, and in no sense divulge or foreshadow the action which the Secretary of State for India in Council may ultimately adopt.
The essence of the proposals is the erection, in a suitable position, of a building capable of affording accommodation to the India Museum and the India Library, and which would likewise provide lecture-rooms, and such other space as might be required for the purpose of an Indian Institute for inquiry, lecture, and teaching, the cost of the building being shared between India and England, whilst the institute would have to rely solely on public support.
All the leading features of the plans for the efficient management and the full and practical utilisation of the museum collections, consist mainly in an extended application of the principles explained in that part of the paper which refers to the establishment of trade museums. The main difficulty in the management of a museum is to combine scientific thoroughness with that condensation of information, and that simplicity of the results which are indispensable if the influence of museums is ever to be felt beyond a small circle of connoisseurs. The solution of the difficulty lies in a division of functions between the central museums and local museums. The first would serve mainly for the preservation and elaboration of information, and for the general advancement of science and art, whilst local museums would fulfil the function of making that information practically useful by rendering it accessible to the practical classes throughout the country. The central museum would not only be a store or reservoir of the accumulated knowledge of generations, but would likewise be a laboratory or workshop, in which the typical collections would be prepared. These latter would epitomise the leading features of every one of the different groups of the museum, in the same manner in which the trade collections, already described, epitomise all the practically important conclusions which can be de. rived from a study of the whole of the collections of raw produce and manufactures contained in the India Museum. The local museums would consist mainly of copies and reproductions of these typical collections.
It must not, however, be inferred that the usefulness of the original collections of the central museum will be exhausted by the preparation of typical collections, and that all the information which the central museum is capable of affording will be embraced within their compass. The central museum, from its systematic completeness and rich stores of information, will always remain the place for final reference, and will afford an inexhaustible field for new investigations, for the working up and the digestion of crude material, and for its elaboration into the clear and methodic shape in which it is capable of being made accessible to the public. It will contain the original documents, as it were, of the inquiry, and remain the workshop in which new results will be constantly produced; the typical collections will exhibit only its final conclusions, and bring them into circulation, thus increasing its usefulness in about the same manner that printing multiplies the usefulness of a manuscript; and thus the central museum will be more especially an institution for increasing our knowledge, whilst the typical collections will be the means of increasing the number of people who will possess that knowledge. Thus the function of the central museum as a store of information, as a source of official reference, and as a scientific institution promoting original inquiry, is independent of the typical collections; but the latter will extend the area of its influence from the scientific and literary class to the whole commercial and manufacturing community, and to the public at large.page 45
The advantages of typical collections are the same as those already pointed out with regard to trade collections, viz., cheapness, compactness, simplicity, and clearness. It is not difficult to prove, moreover, that for the purpose of influencing and instructing the public at large, the small typical collection will be in every way superior to the complete original collection. Take any of the collections belonging to the British Museum, or to any scientific museum. It stands to reason that in representing the natural history of plants, or of fishes, or of birds, or minerals, the untutored public will more easily assimilate the principles of scientific classification, and gather the structural progress apparent in the hierarchy of organic beings, if the collection contains only the number of specimens strictly required to bring out these main ideas in strong relief, the specimens being selected on account of their marked characteristics and typical significance. By increasing the number of specimens, the meaning is diluted, and finally obscured altogether, in the crowd of confused and unconnected details. Take the example of palæontology. A full palæontological series of the globe, which, if it could be compiled, would be invaluable to scientific geologists, would have to consist, at a guess, of, say 50,000 specimens. But who will deny that a small collection of, say, 200 typical forms, would be far more suitable for rendering apparent to an unskilled visitor the few rudimentary notions which explain the bearing of the palæontological remains on geological science, and which are all he can be expected to be interested in.
Or take the rooms upon rooms filled at the British Museum with Greek vases, looking to the profane so very like each other. A dozen or a score of such productions would be ample for typifying to the general public the position which the Greek vases occupy in relation to ceramic art generally. Indeed we may state as an undoubted fact, what at first sight looks like a paradox, i.e., that the larger a collection the smaller the number of people who can visit it with any advantage, that is, of people who can derive from the inspection any useful ideas or conclusions.
The subject of typical collections also naturally offers itself as an illustration of another leading principle, without the systematic adoption of which it is idle to expect great and national results from the existence of museums. This principle consists in securing an organised public co-operation in carrying out the objects of the museum. It is evident that the preparation of typical collections is a very difficult undertaking. Nothing is so easy as a show of erudition, but nothing so repulsive to the general public. But to bring order and clearness to the exposition of a complex subject is a task for which only a few master-minds are qualified. The principal but most rare characteristic of our modern scientific men is the endeavour to fix certain leading types in accordance with the changes of the determining conditions. If these ideas are to be embodied in typical collections like those here described, it is evident that this must be beyond the gras of even the best staff which a museum can possess, and that it can only be done with the co-operation of the most eminent men of the day, each taking the groups which most nearly corresponds with the subject of his particular study. Thus as regards the India Museum, though it may be said that it is fortunate in having, in my colleague, Dr. Birdwood, a man whose successful experience in dealing with similar matters in India is a tangible guarantee for entertaining hopes of a similar success in the case of the present museum, and, though on its staff there are others who have already made their mark in Indian subjects, yet it would be impossible, by their unaided efforts, to attempt the full execution of more than a few of those typical collections. Luckily, however, amongst those prominent on the field of Indian research, men are not wanting who will devote time and trouble to a task of such manifest public advantage. I may mention the names of Mr. James Fergusson, of Mr. Edward Thomas, of Sir George Campbell, of the Hon. W. Egerton, and of Mr. Arthur Grote, and there are other members of the Royal Asiatic Society who are willing to help in this work.
There is also another direction in which public co-operation is no less urgently required, i.e., co-operation for the purpose of securing a full dissemination of the information obtained through the instrumentality of museums. The support of the Indian Institute, and the foundation of local museums, belong to this part of the subject, but I have no time to enter into this matter, beyond mentioning the fact that the formation of an influential committee is now under consideration, for the purpose of deciding what steps should be taken in order to secure the establishment of the Indian Institute.
Allow me to wind up by a brief reference to the present location of the India Museum, and to the question of its future and permanent location. The galleries at South Kensington containing the collections of this museum, will be first opened on the 25th of May for a conversazione given by the President of the Society of Civil Engineers, and no long delay will elapse before they are opened to the public likewise. It is out of question to expect that by that time anything like the full programme here indicated can be carried out. Only rough divisions between the main groups can be attempted at first. The special and typical collections page 46 must be the growth of years of labour, though possibly the most interesting of them will be completed before the expiry of the three years' lease at South Kensington.
As regards the question of the future building, the first point is the expenditure required for it. On the subject of sharing the expenditure between England and India, I cannot add a single word to the convincing memorials presented to the Prime Minister, by the Association of the Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom, as also by the Chambers of Commerce of Manchester and Glasgow (Appendix D, p. 60). It is gratifying to find that the reasons which show that England should participate in the expenditure, have been sufficiently convincing to make some people inclined to think that not only a share but the whole of the expenditure should be borne by this country. Remembering the observations of John Stuart Mill in his autobiography about the advantages which accrue to an intermediate plan, from the existence of any distinct proposition of an extreme character, I am led to believe that the memorial by the Council of this Society in favour of paying for the whole establishment of the India Museum with English money will prove of no small assistance in securing the adoption of the intermediate course, that recommending the sharing of the expenditure between the two countries.
As regards the amount of expenditure, it has been roughly estimated at about £100,000, which, however, would have to be spread over several years. As a certain time would likewise have to elapse before the plans could be prepared, the sum required in the current year would be but small.
Lastly, as regards the size, character, and location of the building. On all grounds of public expediency it would be of undoubted advantage to make use of the site in Charles street already in possession of the India-office. The India Museum then would be not only in close proximity to the office, and easily available for official reference, but it would be in the very centre of public life, and not far removed from the centre of business. The only objection ever brought forward is the want of space. Apart from the fact that the condition of the surrounding property in nowise excludes the idea of future extension, there is evidence that the space already in the hands of her Majesty's Government would be sufficient, not only for the purposes of an India Museum and Library, but also for the location of a Colonial Museum. I may mention several facts bearing on this point. There is no difficulty in erecting a building with a net floor space of double, or even treble, that now occupied by the India Museum at South Kensington, and it must be remembered that the space will be far more convenient for arrangement than the wasteful and inconveniently narrow galleries which have been hired at South Kensington. There is likewise to be kept in mind that the preparation of typical collections is sure to relieve the museum of a great deal of surplus articles. Moreover, I am satisfied that, by discarding in a great measure the use of small moveable cases, and by introducing the system of permanently fixed glass cases of large extent, there will result not only a great saving in money, but likewise a surprising economy of space, accompanied by increased effect. If we are satisfied on the score of space, the other advantages of South Kensington—air and light—resolve themselves into a question of a few extra dusters and a trifling increase of the gas bill. Moreover, it cannot be left out of sight that the proposed concentration of educational museums at South Kensington cannot be effected without occupying a good deal of space, as also (as I had occasion to point out in a series of letters made public some time ago, and the last of which will be found at Appendix0, p. 57), it is to be taken into consideration that the idea of the exhibitions is not nearly so dead that it could not be resuscitated with a more practical programme; because, whenever the people of this country will set earnestly about the establishment of technical museums, they will discover that no such museums will be efficient unless they are constantly recruited and kept up to the most recent progress by an international competition at exhibitions. On all these grounds I consider that it would be bad policy to alienate permanently any buildings or ground which would render it afterwards difficult, if not impossible, to resume the exhibitions. Thus, both in the best interests of the India Museum and in those of the grand series of institutions established at South Kensington, I hold that it is best to adopt the Charles-street site as the place for the permanent location of the India Museum.
* On the Establishment in Connection with the India Museum and Library of an Indian Institute for Lecture, Inquiry, and Teaching, on its influence on the promotion of Oriental studies in England, on the Progress of Higher Education among the Natives of India, and on the Training of Candidates for the Civil Service of India. London: W. H. Allen and Co. 1875.