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PRESENTATION AND PROCEEDINGS.
ER FTER the death of Mr. Tower his library passed, under
his will, to his widow, who, after careful consideration,
decided she could best carry out his wishes in regard to its disposition by presenting that portion of it which comprised the collection of Laws and Americana to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, where it would form not only an appropriate memorial of her husband, but would also fulfil the object for which he had gathered it,-benefit and enlighten the student of American history. This she did in the following letter addressed to the President of the Society:
1525 SPRUCE STREET, PHILADELPHIA,
4 March, 1890. BRINTON Coxe, Esq.,
President of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: SIR, I hereby present, through you, to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania the collection of books made during his lifetime by my husband, Charlemagne Tower, a list of which I send you with this letter. There are, as you see, some two hundred volumes, composed largely of original copies of the printed provincial laws of the present States of the Union and of other early works relating to the settling and development of America. Many of them are exceedingly rare and valuable. I desire and request that the Historical Society shall always keep these books together in one collection, to be known as “The Charlemagne Tower Collection," in order that they may serve as a memorial to him and to the interest that he felt in the Historical Society and its work. In giving these books to the Society, I believe I am doing what my husband would wish to have done if he were now living.
It gives me great pleasure, in making this presentation, to do so through you who for many years were among those of Mr. Tower's friends for whom he had the highest consideration and respect.
I am, sir,
AMELIA MALVINA TOWER. To this Mr. Coxe replied:
AIKEN, South CAROLINA,
March 6, 1890. MADAM,—Your letter of March 4, addressed to me as President of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, has been received at the Society. In accordance with my instructions and by my authority, Mr. F. D. Stone, our librarian, has already answered it preliminarily, and I now myself write, without delay, in answer. Before leaving Philadelphia I had an opportunity of examining the precious library of books relating to American history and law, which will be henceforth known as “The Charlemagne Tower Collection.” Your gift, madam, is a munificent one, indeed, and one which our Society accepts with profound gratitude. It will be a noble monument to the memory of Mr. Tower. That such a monument should be confided to our care will always be a source of great pride to us. The security and proper use of the rare, precious, and useful books composing this unrivalled collection will always be the object of our assiduous attention. The trusts and duties which you impose upon us in your letter will always be scrupulously observed and performed.
The concluding paragraph of your letter touches me greatly. The intimacy between the families of Mr. Tower and of my father is now one of long standing. It is, I assure you, very highly valued on our part. The feelings which Mr. Tower entertained. towards me are a very great honor. I am very grateful to you for speaking of them to me in your letter. I am, madam, with great respect,
To Mrs. Charlemagne Tower,
1525 Spruce Street,
Mr. Coxe immediately notified the Society of Mrs. Tower's gift in the following letter:
AIKEN, SOUTH CAROLINA,
6th March, 1890. To WILLIAM BROOKE RAWLE, Esq.,
Secretary of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. SIR, I write you officially, as President of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, upon an important event, of which I request you to inform the Society at the earliest opportunity. You are aware of the great value of the rare volumes comprising the unrivalled collection of Americana, made by the late Charlemagne Tower, and of its double importance from the point of view of the historian and lawyer. This precious collection has been presented to our Society by Mrs. Tower, as a monument to the memory of Mr. Tower. It is, therefore, Mrs. Tower's wish that the Society shall always preserve the volumes of her gift in one collection, to be known as “ The Charlemagne Tower Collection.” An exhaustive report upon the invaluable contents of the collection cannot be made at once, for it is a work requiring skill, time, and labor. An elaborate catalogue made by an expert bibliographer will itself be a work of great value, especially to students at a distance. The mere inspection of the preliminary catalogue is of the highest interest. It shows that the volumes of the collection are naturally divided into two classes,-namely, those which relate to the history of the laws of the several colo.
nies and States, and those which relate to American history in general. The books of the former class place our Society at the head of the depositories of first editions of the laws of the different colonies. These rare works are, however, something more than first editions. They are the original promulgations of the laws of the several colonies. There is one portion of this class which our members will contemplate with peculiar satisfaction and pride. It is the precious and wonderful series of the original promulgations of the printed laws of Pennsylvania. The second division of the collection is that relating to American history in general. At this distance from you it is impossible for me to attempt to do justice to its treasures. I must leave that pleasing task to others more competent.
Mrs. Tower has made this donation to the Society in a letter she has done me the honor of addressing to me. In my answer I have expressed to her the deep appreciation which our members feel of the value and utility of her munificent gift. I have assured her that we will always execute the duties and trusts imposed upon us by the possession of this noble monument to the memory of Mr. Tower.
In conclusion, sir, I move you to take early action to afford the Society an opportunity of expressing its sentiments upon coming into possession of “The Charlemagne Tower Collection.”
The first and last of these letters having been laid before the Council at a special meeting on the 8th of March, 1890, on motion of Mr. Baker it was
Resolved, That the Secretary be instructed to address a letter to Mrs. Charlemagne Tower expressing the thanks of the Council for her munificent gift.
Resolved, That Mrs. Tower be made an honorary life member of the Society, in recognition of the great benefit she has conferred upon it.