By a Villain who Escaped Justice

††††††††††† We have related a robbery at the Ashmoleum Museum at Oxford; a burglary in the house of Lord Chancellor Thurlow, and the stealing from thence the Great Seal of England; but we hardly expected to have found a man base enough to rob our National Museumóthe repository of all that is rare and valuable from the time of the Egyptians to the present day; a place, too, opened gratis to the curious. Yet so it wasówe find a villain taking the basest advantage of this privilege, and then escaping the arm of justice.

††††††††††† This most ungrateful thief stole from the portfolios, deposited in the above place, rare and curious prints, estimated to be worth at least 1500l. From the time many of the articles have been sold to print dealers, this person must have been in the habit of stealing them for more than a year. The circumstance which led to discovery was, the sale of a copied print from the original. Among the many painters' etchings that are eagerly sought after, are those of the celebrated Rembrandt, a single print of whose work has sold for fifty guineas. One of the scarce prints of this master is called the "Coach Landscape;" and a print-seller was induced, from its known rarity, to give twelve guineas for one to an artist and dealer; but, afterwards entertaining doubts of its originality, he showed it to a better judge, who pronounced it to be a copy, and advised him to compare it with two undoubted originals in the British Museum. But, upon application for that purpose, neither could be found; this produced a search, that discovered an amazing deficiency in the works of other artists, and from subsequent inquiry it has been found, that one print-seller has purchased to the amount of 200l., another 60l. and so in a greater or less proportion.

††††††††††† So ready a market did these rare articles find, that the cheap collector could not find time sufficient to procure and dispose of them too, but was necessitated to employ an agent, whose brokerage, it is supposed, must have amounted, to a considerable sum. The most valuable print recovered is the portrait of "The Burgo-Master Six," supposed to be worth 40l. But the "Hundred Guilder" print, and many others of extreme rarity and value, are among those missing. It is said, that a unique set of proofs, the works of Karil Du Jardin, consisting of 50 prints, have likewise been purloined.

††††††††††† The collection from whence the above has been taken, was left to the British Museum by the late Rev. Dr. Cracherode a few years since, and was estimated to be worth 20,000l. An Act of Parliament was made to enable the trustees to receive the same without payment of the le gacy duty.

††††††††††† The delinquent fled from the hands of justice, but much valuable property has been discovered.

††††††††††† (Transcriber's Note: His name was Deighton. See The Print Room of the British Museum by "The Ghost of a Departed Collector" (G W Reid) p. 25)


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