Press cuttings from Romeike's Agency, London, held by S&SWM PR papers.
Hastings Times 15 September 1888 about the British Association meeting in Bath
The meeting of the British Association at Bath does not appear to have been quite up to the mark this year; but there have been one or two subjects discussed which are interesting to dwellers in the metropolis. The presidential address by General Pitt-Rivers in the anthropological section may be especially noted. In it he uttered some very plain criticisms upon the defects of our public museums. It should be understood, however, that the General has his own grievances against the authorities, and very rightly too, for they rejected his offer of the famous Pitt-Rivers collection of anthropological curiosities which it had taken him thirty years to form. He wished to find a permanent home for it, and it has gone to Oxford. As to the British Museum, the General declared roundly that for the education of the masses it is of no use whatever. There is truth in this, though things are not quite so bad as the words "no use" would imply. The fact is that the bulk of the people who go either to the South Kensington, Natural History or British Museums, do not want to use them as means of education, but as places where they can get a little entertainment. General Pitt-Rivers proved this, probably without intending it, by the statement that the visitors to the British Museum who numbered 767,873 in 1882 had declined to 501-256 last year. The rival attractions of the exhibitions in London with their switchbacks and popular spectacles have been no doubt the cause of this declension. The British Museum of course admits of considerable improvement yet, but those of us who remember the abode of chaos it was thirty years ago must acknowledge with thankfulness that the public money expended upon it has not been voted in vain. W.S.
Jackson Oxford Journal 10 November ?1888 about a visit by the Oxford Architectural and Historical Society to the University Museum at Oxford (including the Pitt-Rivers collection)
Oxford Architectural and Historical Society
The members of this Society and their friends, to the number of about thirty-five, assembled in the University Museum on Saturday last at 2.15, and were received by Dr Tylor in the section of the Museum founded by General Pitt-Rivers.
Dr Tylor said he was expecting and hoping that before very long they would have the cases in the gallery completed and then they would have a guide-book illustrated with the plans of the cases, and an index to each. However, it did not now exist, so they must be good enough to take him for a handbook, and he would describe each as they went round. He said it was not a collection of curiosities, and not simply a collection of articles ancient or modern, though containing illustrations of articles of both ancient and modern times. It was founded by General Pitt-Rivers and in two or three cases might be seen specimens which led him to devote so much of his life and wealth to collecting. Engaged in reporting at the Crimean war on the arms of the British soldier, who carried at that time the weapon known as "Brown Bess," General Pitt-Rivers, one of the persons to whom the question was committed, was surprised to find that inventions were not made by leaps and bounds. Things existed of which all were ignorant, and only now and then were weapons made in large numbers. He set himself to collect rifles, barrels and locks. Bringing them together, he found that one must look for improvement in weapons in one form or another till a type was reached. The collecting these led to his setting himself to accumulate weapons and various other things illustrating the gradual growth of war implements, as well offensive as defensive, and these ethnological materials have taken this large building to house. It was simple and easy enough to begin with matchlocks, which were used by putting a linstock match to the touch-hole. This being inconvenient, bent wire was so arranged as to hold the fire, and, by a movement of the hand, to bring it to the touchhole by means of a trigger. Then wheellocks were applied, to adapt that purpose, which was merely an adaptation of the same idea, pyrites being substituted for the match. Flint, by re-adaptation of the old instrument, puts its nose to the grindstone and fired the spark, and in a very little while flint was generally adopted. When the percussion cup [sic] was introduced it followed the same lines, and the movement was gradual and continuous; what naturalists call development was employed, and not a new invention. Another series illustrates what happens in invention; the shield, which subsequently became a screen, grew in the same way. The Australians used sticks for such purpose, and one practised in their use allowed three or four men to throw cricket balls at him without once being hit by them. (Applause.) These sticks grew into very narrow shields, as illustrated in the next case, and eventually became screens. The original idea of this parrying stick may be traced in these narrow shields. Illustrations show among highly-civilized people in Greece and Rome to what this grew, and in the middle age they were largely used. The Chinese used shields with tigers painted upon them, and they imitated the roar of the animal to strike terror in their enemies. We have the parrying sticks thus expanded, and eventually the shield became a screen, behind which a warrior might retire, but he could not see what happened in front. They had no Highland target in the collection. Garments were also made and padded which no arrow could penetrate. Bone scales were sewn upon them, then rings of iron or steel, which became very common, and ring armour was the result. The use of scales became "plate armour" by a similar development, and thus we come to familiar history. The introduction of fire-arms rendered armour useless. The breast-plate has undergone a similar development. Corslets also were used in Cromwellian times, and after they became useless the form remained, and was used till the end of the last century, and is still used on the Continent, objects once useful and practical become objects of mere ceremony. The earliest form of obtaining fire was the rapid friction of cross-sticks, and a most curious point is the way in which it has lasted. It was the duty of the Pontifex to take pains to create new fire on the altar, but no specimen of sacred fire drill has come to us. The theory is they are done for real and serious reasons, but they are simply due to momentum. [sic] Cases are set apart to illustrate the development of musical instruments. They begin with the rudest development of the familiar bow. Placed between the teeth, he may produce sounds which he can enjoy, though inaudible to others; but the roof of the mouth made the sound audible to him. Replace the mouth by a gourd and others may enjoy the sound: from this has risen harps, fiddles, and all musical instruments. The drum is a bell of another kind leading up to bells with swinging clappers. There are trumpets of all kinds in another case. At the bottom of the room are boats of all kinds - from logs of wood laced together to form rafts, trunks of trees scooped out to make room for paddlers; some are skin-covered, and upon the American lakes they have been made of birch bark. Double paddles were not used, and with skill the single paddle is sufficient. Others show the heightening of the sides by the addition of gunwales, pegged, bolted, or sewn with thongs. One of the cases shows developments of clothing. The pottery case shows the development of ornament, and of the artistic faculty, which is something not the same as the aesthetic origin of ornamental work. He directed attention to ornamental lines upon a wooden vessel, and showed how the turnings were repeated in terra-cotta and the knottings of string upon one gourd were indicated by paintings upon another; and the so-called Grecian ornaments were imitations of basket work, maintaining that all such ornament originated in something practical and real.
Mr Parker, in proposing that the thanks of the meeting be given to Dr Tylor, claimed that the extremely interesting lecture they had just listened to was especially one which the Society, since Professor Goldwin Smith's Presidency, came within the historical side of their title.
The thanks were hearty, and signified by the applause of the members, who dispersed to examine the various cases described by the Curator, Dr Tylor.
Dorset City Chronicle 29 November 1888 Pitt-Rivers gave a speech in support of his candidacy to be a Dorset County Councillor, transcribed below. A broadly very similar account was published in the Wiltshire County [illegible name] of 23 November 1888:
The Candidature of General Pitt-Rivers - A largely attended meeting in support of the candidature of General Pitt-Rivers was held here on Wednesday evening, and passed off with great enthusiasm. General Pitt-Rivers, in the course of a lengthy address, remarked that several influential members of the division had done him the compliment of asking him to stand as a County Councillor, and he ascertained it was the wish of the majority of the labouring class of the neighbourhood that he should do so. He made a point of not coming forward until he was asked to do so, because he thought that, living so constantly in the neighbourhood, and being well-known by the inhabitants, it was better not to anticipate their wishes, and to give them the opportunity of considering the claims of other candidates before making up their minds as to the person whom they might think it advisable to select as their representative. It was possible he might be placed at some disadvantage on this account, but if he had no better claims upon their votes than that of being first in the field he should not consider himself in any way a proper person to be put forward as a candidate for their suffrages. (Applause) His opinion was that all who were in any [way?] connected with the Local Government Act should never forget that the old system was admitted on all sides to have been honestly and ably administered, and that the new officers, whoever they might be, would be considered to have earned the thanks of their constituencies if they only emulated the example that had been set them by their predecessors. (Applause) His advice to electors at these county elections would be to beware of "clap-trap" and humbug. The speaker then dwelt as [sic] some length upon the County Council and the mode of electing it. The County Councils would have the power of taking land for allotments under the new Act. On that subject he might make a few remarks in reference to his own property. His predecessors always encouraged allotments for the working classes, and he had added to their number. (Applause) He had now about 800 allotments on different parts of his property, and he had reduced their rents, so that even the richest land near Sturminster, the highest were not rented at more than £3 an acre, out of which he had to pay rates and taxes and all out-goings. (Loud applause) There was no demand for allotments on any part of his property that was not supplied. (Applause) The speaker, in conclusion, said the personal question he would ask them to consider was - who provided allotments for every man that wanted one; who built recreation grounds and provided bands and museum for the amusement and instruction of the people; who found work for the people that were out of employ; not at particular periods of a county election only but every year; and then the further question that they would have to consider was whether the person who did these things of his own accord was the person they wished to represent them on the County Council?
Sunday Times 15 September 1889 about Pitt-Rivers Farnham Museum
A Rural Museum
In the able and illustrative address with which Professor Flower opened the meeting of the British Association, he remarked that the first considerations in establishing a museum, large or small, is that it should have some definite object or purpose to fulfil, and in alluding more particularly to the prominence rightly due to the scientific importance of anthropology he said:- "The notion of an anthropology which considers savages and prehistoric people as apart from the rest of mankind may, in the limitations of human powers, have certain conveniences; but it is utterly unscientific and loses sight of the great value of the study in tracing the gradual growth of our systems and customs from the primitive ways of our progenitors."
Curiously enough, an institution which realises the first of these conditions and entirely harmonises with Professor Flower's views regarding the second, exists in one of the quaintest and most primitive of Dorset villages, called Farnham. The tiny village itself lies in a lovely, well-wooded valley on the borders of Cranborne Chase, so famous in the annals of poaching and deer stealing, and is situated far indeed from any of the busy haunts of men, for Salisbury is seventeen miles distant, Wimborne fourteen, Shaftesbury twelve, and Blandford eight. It is the last place in the world that one would expect to find a collection of the highest anthropological interest, but it possesses the results of General Pitt-Rivers' long and patient investigations of the Romano-British encampments upon the high ranges of chalk downs between the counties of Wilts and Dorset.
When General Pitt-Rivers inherited the Rushmore estates from the last of the Baron Rivers he commenced operations upon the barrows within the park itself, and soon explored those upon the adjacent open country. There was scope for especially valuable investigations, as the ground has not been cultivated since the Roman occupation of the South, and has simply afforded pasture for sheep. There was consequently not the slightest probability that the skeletons could have been of later date, had not the coins, the earthenware, the rude jewellery and implements placed the period beyond a doubt. It is impossible to imagine the skill and patience with which General Pitt-Rivers has pursued his self-imposed task until one has been actually upon the scenes of his excavations and inside his museum. He has himself related the circumstances and results up to the present time of his discoveries in two magnificently illustrated volumes, which, with rare generosity, he only gives to interested and favoured friends. He is most anxious to see landowners more fully awake to the services which they might render to scientific historical research by judicious enquiry into the evidences of early times which exist more or less upon every large property, and suggests that anthropological investigations should commend themselves to that considerable number of country gentlemen who have so few resources of intelligent occupation beyond sport. At last he offers them a practical example.
General Pitt-Rivers was fortunate in possessing, close to the chief scene of his labours, a roomy house, built some fifty years ago with the object of providing an educational home for gipsy children, when there [sic] were more numerous and less cared for than they are now. But the philanthropic scheme was not particularly successful, for the parents were willing enough to send their children there for the winter, but insisted on having them for the spring and summer, thus undoing the good training they had had. The building passed through various vicissitudes, and needed but slight alterations to fit it for its present purpose. There may be seen the skeletons - marvellous indeed in their preservation - of those who roamed the chase and the downs in the dim distance of the Iron Age. There are skulls broken by club or axe, jaws without one of the magnificent teeth missing, and the bones of massive feet. Sufficient are there of them to enable General Pitt-Rivers and those who have collaborated with him to pronounce that this part of England was peopled by a remarkably small race of inhabitants, of which the average male height did not exceed 5 ft 2-6 in., and that of the female 4ft 9-10 ins. "What race," asks the learned general, "can these people be taken to represent? Are they the survivors of the Neolithic population which, after being driven westwards by successive races of Celts and others continued to exist in the out-of-the-way parts of this region up to Roman times, or are they simply the remnants of a larger race of Britons, deteriorated by slavery and reduced in stature by the drafting of their largest men into the Roman legions abroad? Perhaps the comparatively large size of the females may be taken to support this latter view."
Not less exhaustive and complete are his deductions concerning the domestic animals of this prehistoric people. The Exmoor pony seems most to resembled [sic] their horses, their cows partook of some of the characteristics of the Kerry and the Alderney, their sheep were not unlike the St Kilda breed of today; but General Pitt-Rivers admits that his inferences as to their dogs are incomplete, as "there is a difficulty in obtaining the (comparative) measures of dogs, as our feelings of companionship towards that animal does not admit of their being deliberately killed for measurement, and they must be taken as they happen to die." Equally striking are the conclusions he had drawn as to wheat. That found of undoubtedly British growth was of very small size and marked inferiority, while that of Romano-British cultivation was really equal to our own grown on the same soil and altitude. This points to the introduction of a better species of the cereal by the Romans. There is also on view a quantity of characteristic pottery, and mention may be specially made of one exquisite bowl of Samian terra cotta, with raised figures representing probably Hercules and Mercury.
The contents of this unique museum, however, are by no means confined to Romano-British relics, but include some beautiful examples of old Breton and Norman oak carvings, almost a complete set of specimens of early English potteries, illustrating the evolution of the art from rude clay "crocks" up to really fine developments, and examples of the now scarce "puzzle jugs," one of which is inscribed--
"Come gentlemen, and try your skill;
I'll lay a wager if you will,
That you don't drink this liquor all,
Unless you spill or let some fall."
There are foreign curiosities, embroideries, old and new, ancient ornaments and garments, specimens of local natural history, and several veritable mantraps which have done practical service on the Chase. Apropos of these, the curator, who is himself an intelligent and sympathetic son of the soil, tells how a certain landlord set several of them to catch poachers. These last found out where they were placed and quietly drove his own cattle over them, and when the cattle were all caught proceeded successfully to accomplish their game-stealing design. In a long out-house is large collection of primitive English and foreign agricultural implements. Plainly written and briefly descriptive labels are affixed to each exhibit, and all is done to arrest the attention and excite the interest of the purely rural and labouring population who form the chief proportion of the visitors.
This admirable little museum is open every day free of charge, Sunday afternoons included; when it is a favourite resort of the villagers for miles round. At a little distance from it stands an old Wych Elm, from which, says local tradition, King John was in the habit of starting on his hunting expeditions. Round this General Pitt-Rivers has laid out a pretty garden and pleasure ground, and here between the hours of divine service on Sundays a band composed entirely of labours [sic] upon the estate, clad in a gorgeous livery of canary and royal blue, play selections of sacred music. The people pay repeated visits to it, and really take an interest in its varied objects. Farnham enjoys one more claim to notice, which must not be passed by. The old stocks, in which many a misbehaving rustic has had to pay the penalty of his misdeeds, amid the sneers and jeers of his neighbours, stands yet. It is protected by a stout iron cage, and is one of the very few genuine ones still remaining in England. Certainly the remote little village affords plenty that will repay a visit, and one is astonished to find so strange a coupling of the primitive and the advanced, the historic and the present, in this out-of-the-way locality.
Press cuttings transcribed by AP for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project August 2011 from the S&SWM PR papers