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THE BIBLIOTHÈQUE NATIONALE OF PARIS. HE vast buildings which form the Bibliothèque Nationale-home of peace

and meditation, if ever there were one -are situated, by a strange anomaly,

in the very centre of Paris, in the liveliest and noisiest quarter of the capital. Whereas all the other libraries, all the great seats of learning, harbour their devotees on the left bank of the Seine—the quieter bank and the one more favourable to study the Bibliothèque Nationale alone raises its thick walls in the midst of that human ant-hill which is formed by the quarter of the Palais Royal.

It is true that several times during this century it has been proposed to remove our great national institute. Napoleon I. himself had this idea, which he did not, however, carry out. It is not so easy to displace immense collections like those which occupy the ancient hotel of Cardinal Mazarin.

It was in 1721 that the collections of the Royal Library—forinerly hidden in a part of Colbert's hotel, where the great minister had given them shelter—took up their abode in the vast premises left untenanted by the bankruptcy of Law and in a portion of the hotel of the Comte de Nevers, an annexe of the ancient Palais Mazarin. At that time they were unpretentious, and contented themselves with little.

They increased with such marvellous rapidity, however, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that in 1855, notwithstanding the encroachments made on neighbouring property, notwithstanding the prodigies of ingenuity and patience Vol. VIII.-No. 33.


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