« PreviousContinue »
used as a Printing-House; which accounts for so many of the Oxford editions of books, published about the end of the seventeenth century, having their title-pages ornamented with a small view of the Theatre.
On the west side of the Theatre stands the Ashmolean Museum, a handsome Edifice, built by the University at the request of Elias Ashmole, Esq. Windsor Herald to King Charles II. who placed here all the rarities he had collected and purchased, particularly from the two Tradescants. The Building was completed in 1682, under the conduct of Sir Christopher Wren, and is admired for its symmetry and elegance. The eastern Portico is highly finished in the Corinthian Order, and adorned with variety of characteristical embellishments.
Mr. Ashmole presented to the University a valuable collection of Natural Curiosities, Coins, and Manuscripts, together with three gold Chains, one of philigrain work, he had received as honorary presents from the King of Denmark and other Princes, on occasion of his Book on the Order of the Garter.
This repository has been greatly enriched by several ample and valuable benefactions. The principal natural curiosities are the collection of Bodies, Horns, Bones, &c. of animals preserved dry or in spirits; curious and numerous specimens of Metals and Minerals; Dr. Lister's collection of Shells, Ores, Fossils, 8cc. most of which are published in his Synopsis Conchyliorum, and in the Philosophical Transactions.
Its two first Keepers were Dr. Robert Plott and Mr. Edward Lhwyd, the former of whom deposited here all his natural bodies mentioned in his Histories of Staffordshire and Oxfordshire; and the latter the collections he had made in his travels through England, Wales, and Ireland. Mr. Borlace, author of the Natural History of Cornwall, presented also to this Museum the specimens of Crystals, Mundics, Coppers, Tins, 8cc. described in that work.
The large Magnet given by the Countess of Westmorland is of an oval shape, 18 inches long, 12 wide, and supports a weight of 145 pounds.
Three curious pieces of art deserve particular notice; viz. a model of a Ship; a picture of our Saviour going to his Crucifixion, composed of the most beautiful lively feathers; and an ancient piece of St. Cuthbert, made by order of King Alfred.
The last and very entertaining present to this collection was given by Mr. Reinhold Foster, who went the first voyage round the world with Captain Cook, consisting of a great variety of the manufactures, habits, warlike instruments, and an idol, which he brought from the island of Otaheite and New Zealand.
Among the Paintings are a few very good ones: a dead Christ, by Annibal Carracci. Thomas Earl of Arundel, and the Duke of Norfolk, his son, by Vandyke. Christ's Descent into Hell, by Brugell.
In this building are three small Libraries; the first, called Ashmole's Study, contains his printed Books and Manuscripts relating to Heraldry and Antiquity, and the Manuscripts of Sir William Dugdale, author of the Monasticon Anglica-num. The second contains Dr. Lister's Library. The third that of Mr. Antony a Wood, with his laborious and learned collections, relating chiefly to this University and City.
On the first floor is the apparatus for the Lectures in Experimental Philosophy, where the Professor reads his Courses of Lectures; underneath is the grand apparatus for the present extensive Lectures in Chemistry now established in the University.
On the other side of the Theatre, and north of the Schools, stands the Clarendon PrintingHouse, built in the year 1711, with the profits arising from the sale of Lord Clarendon's History; the copy of which was given to the University by the Lords Clarendon and Rochester, Sons to that noble Lord. It is a noble edifice, 115 feet in length, and consists of two lofty stories. Towards the street is a magnificent Portico of the Doric order; the height of the columns being equal to the two stories. This is answered on the opposite side next the Schools by a frontispiece supported by three-quarter columns of the same dimensions; and the Doric entablature encompasses the whole building. On the top are statues of the nine Muses; and over the entrance on the south side a statue of the Earl of Clarendon. As we enter on this side, on the right hand, are the apartments where Bibles and Common Prayer Books are printed, under the privilege and appointment of the University. On the left is the University Press; and a well-finished apartment, where the Heads of Houses and Delegates meet on the business of the University.
Southward of the Schools, in the centre of a beautiful area, stands the new or Radclivian Library; for the building whereof, that celebrated Physician Dr. John Radcliffe bequeathed the sum of 40,000!. He fixed the salary of the Librarian at 1501. per annum; appropriated 1001. c
per annum to buy books, and 1001. per annum to keep the Library in repair.
The rustic basement, which is 100 feet in diameter from outside to outside, is a double octagon, or sixteen square; all of which squares are distinguished by their projection, and by a pediment or frontispiece, which forms each into a gateway.
The superstructure, raised upon this basement, is perfectly cylindrical, and adorned with three-quarter columns of the Corinthian Order; which are ranged, not at equal distances, but in couplets. Between these there is an alternacy of windows and niches all round: over the latter, next to the architrave, are beautiful festoons of fruits and flowers. The entablature is much enriched with carving; and over it is a balustrade surrounding the whole, finished with vases on the piers perpendicular to the columns; above which is a cupola 60 feet high. Seven of the gateways above mentioned are entrances into the portico or arcade; in the centre of which within the piers is a wide-spreading dome; and without them a cloister almost encircling it. Over each of the entrances is a dome of smaller dimensions, curiously wrought with variety of Mosaic. The eighth gateway is appropriated to the stair-case, the well of which is oval; and the steps, which are of stone, adhering to the wall at one end, seem rather to be upheld by the iron