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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27

Curiosities of the Library

Curiosities of the Library.

I pass on to other things. I have said this:—" We must have page 12 something in our institution to attract to it not only the Anglo-Saxons, but those other races who have come here." First, let us think of the German population. Well, I will say this, that when your library is established they may enter it, and there handle the books of Hans Sachs, which appeared about 1520—the sweetest singer that has been given to Germany, and to whom a statue has been recently erected at Nuremburg by the German people. They can enter the Library, and there handle those books which have passed down from the hands of friends of his down to theirs. I have no doubt you have all heard of that magnificent German song, "What is the German Fatherland?" the sound of which roused the hearts of a great part of Europe. There in the Library you will see it in the handwriting of its author, the poet Arndt; and these are literary treasures of almost inestimable value. If there are French persons, or persons of French descent, who desire to be encouraged to visit the Library let them remember that they, too, have been thought of, and that they will find a manuscript which formerly belonged to the great Sully, which was written for Philip the Fair in the utmost beauty of writing, and artistically illuminated. Let them remember they may go and see the handwriting of Marie Antionette when carried a captive back to the Tuilleries, and witness the signature of one who suffered as much as any female for the last thousand years. If there are Italians who desire to reap pleasure from the Library, let them go and find the beautiful manuscript of Petrarch, and let them see the beauty with which the poems composed by that great poet were preserved to the Italian people. In that way, by examining such books, you will have open to you stores of very great value, which must cultivate the public taste, and touch the feelings of people of many lands. Further, I will say this—that, to attract persons to this Library, we should be able to show something in history which may interest all. It would be a proud thing for you to be able to say one portion of a period of English history can only be written in the city of Auckland, and that he who writes the latter part of the history of the reign of Cromwell, and of the short period during which his son ruled and influenced the English nation—that whoever desires to do so must come to this city of Auckland, mix amongst us, or send to some copyist to make copies of the manuscripts which will be in your possession. It may be called a weak sentiment on my part, but I believe there is hardly one who hears me who would not share the same sentiments and feelings. To take in one's hands a letter addressed to Cromwell, by his ambassador to Sweden, held by Cromwell in his hands, looked over by his eyes, perhaps with pleasure, and to read the message of a foreign sovereign to him, so that one seems absolutely to see the man himself, and to read the words he read to this effect, "The King of Sweden said to me that he wondered that so great and experienced a prince, who had page 13 achieved such great actions, although accompanied by manifold dangers, should at last hesitate to do that in which consisted his most visible security." This the King of Sweden said in reference to assuming the title of King. That was the temptation addressed to Cromwell, that was the advice of a neighbouring monarch, at that time one of the great Kings of Europe. Cromwell had this temptation before him, and the great-souled man took no notice of it, assumed no title, did nothing, and let the flattering words pass, unheeded by him. (Cheers.) I think that no man can hold the documents of that kind in his hand, and can look at them without being greatly moved to think that he has, as it were, been present almost at such a scene as I have described. In the same way you will have what is a rare thing indeed out of England, an actual treaty, one which was concluded by Richard Cromwell with the Hanseatic towns, of which no record exists, because apparently it was stolen or carried away immediately before the restoration of Charles II. But there you will see the signatures of Lyle, of Strickland, of Montague, indeed of the whole of the great council of England at that time, and the signatures of the foreign ambassadors. This was a confirmation of a treaty which, I daresay, you have all heard of, in which Cromwell guaranteed to assist all the Protestant Powers, and the Hanseatic towns in particular, and it is signed by the Council as if Richard Cromwell was the sole ruler of England, although he was so soon to abdicate that position. If you are inclined to envy the greatness of Cromwell or inclined to think his position was an enviable one, you will also have an opportunity of reading the pamphlet, "Killing no Murder." Read the dreadful incisive words in which that pamphlet was written, the determined threats it covertly uttered, and conceive the misery of the man to whom such a pamphlet was addressed, whose life seemed to hang upon a thread, and liable at any moment to be taken from him. In this way those who choose to visit Auckland may read passages of history unpublished, unknown to the public except in the records which are here, and I think you will find that men of literary distinction, men of intellect, will, the moment such papers are thrown open to the public, avail themselves of the opportunities given to take from them those parts which they think will be most interesting to the British nation. (Cheers.)