The Department of Archival Documents of the National Library keep the Records of the Imperial Public Library «On the acquisition of the Bishop Porphyrius collection of manuscripts in the Greek, Slavic, Arabic, Georgian and other Oriental languages" (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No.4. 37 fols. Documents reveal the curious circumstances of the purchase of the collection by the library.
A letter from Bishop Porphyrius to the Imperial Public Library, making an offer to buy his collection
(RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 1) was sent from the New Monastery of the Saviour, headed by the bishop, and is dated to 29 March 1883. This letter contains not only a description of the collection, but also the reasons that drove the owner to sell the manuscripts to the Imperial Public Library: Bishop Porphyrius writes, 'in order that they would not dispersed here and there after my death, and so that I could print my works with many, many pictures, illustrations and drawings'. The owner asked 15,000 rubles for his collection, granting the possibility of installment payments for three or four years.
Director of the Imperial Public Library A. Bychkov very quickly take the necessary steps to raise money. Already on 2 April 1883, he addressed to Minister of Finance Privy Councilor N. Bunge and asked him to intercede with the Emperor for a grant of 15,000 rubles from the State Treasury to the Public Library for purchase of the collection of Bishop Porphyrius. The letter contains a description of the collection with the mention of the most valuable manuscripts:
«…in writing, Bishop Porphyrius suggested to the Library to buy his collection of manuscripts in the Greek, Slavic, Arabic, Georgian and other Oriental languages for 15,000 rubles in installment payments for three or four years. The collection of the Reverend Porphyrius, amassed, actually, as he writes, for our Fatherland, during his 18-year period of stay in different lands of the Christian East, has long been known to both domestic and foreign scholars.
Many of his manuscripts were used by Tischendorf - for his publication of the New Testament, by Sreznevsky - for his «Collection of the little-known and unknown landmarks in the Church Slavonic language», by Pavlov - for the study of Nomocanon, by Baron Rosen - for the publication of Annals of Yahya of Antioch, and by others.
The collection consists of 125 manuscripts in different languages, 20 Arab printed books and 590 fragments from manuscripts of the most diverse contents partly in originals, partly in copies, valuable in respect of paleography and especially for students of medieval art of the Christian East. Among the Greek manuscripts, most of which contain the dates of their writing, are particularly worthy of notice: the Four Gospels of 895; the Psalter of 862, written in the year of the foundation of the Russian state; the Apostle transcribed in 1301 from the copy of 399; the annual set of the 12th century Menaion (the liturgical book consisting of twelve volumes, one for each month); the Euchologion or the Book of Needs of the 8th century — one of the most precious manuscripts of its kind, containing, by the way, a lot of unknown prayers and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom with some specific features in the arrangement, the works of the Church Fathers: Ephraim the Syrian, John Chrysostom, Bishop Theophylact of Bulgaria and others in the tenth and eleventh century copies; the collection of the 13th century, which contains the eleventh and twelfth century correspondence of various royal persons, nobles and clerics; as well as different poems.
Among the Slavic manuscripts are notable: the Book of the Gospel Readings of 1195 — a very important manuscript in the Church Slavonic language; the thirteenth century Life of St. Pancras of Taormina; the thirteenth - fourteenth century Nomocanon written on bombazine; several chronicles and chronographs.
Among the manuscripts in Oriental languages are particularly important: the Georgian one on papyrus - due to its antiquity; the Arabic one - the Gospel of 1136; the Annals of Patriarch Eutychius of Alexandria; the Chronicle of John of Antioch… I do not mention the fragments of manuscripts, the oldest of which dates to 715, especially because some of them has been already published.
Relying on this brief list of Reverend Porphyrius' collection which I personally know, you can consider how it is important scientifically and whether it would be desirable to include it in the holdings of Iperial Public Library…» (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fols. 2-3v.).
A letter of reply from A. Bychkov to Bishop Porphyrius
is dated to the next day - 3 April 1883. The rough copy of the letter (without the final formula of etiquette and his signature) is preserved in a file (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fols. 5-6v.). Especially noteworthy are the following words of A. Bychkov,
'The Public Library will preserve your collection in
its entirety for distant posterity, and, using it, scientists will recall, with respect and appreciation, your name closely connected with the discovery of the famous Sinai Bible which is also stored in the library and is one of its jems.'
An archive file contains 31 documents, the last one is dated to 27 August 27 1887, when Bishop Porphyrius was no longer alive. The content of the documents shows that the required 15,000 rubles for the purchase of the collection were found and included in the budget estimates of the Ministry of Public Education: 5000 rubles in 1883, and in further four years - 4000 rubles in 1884, and 2000 rubles annually in 1885, 1886 and in 1887. The State Council upheld the decision of the Minister of Finance to allocate money on 3 January 1884.
'His Majesty Emperor [Alexander III] deigned to approve the expressed opinion of the State Council… and ordered to fulfil' (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fols. 21–21v.). In July 1883, Bishop Porphyrius received the first payment in the amount of 5,000 rubles, as he notified the Library (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 16).
The following year, Bishop Porphyrius addressed to the Library with a request to pay him the remaining amount for not four, but for three years,
'The sooner I get the requested sum, the sooner I can prepare numerous photolithographic drawings to my writings on eastern and western church painting, including mosaic, iconic on boards, mural and book one' (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 22); 'More distant deadline for payment of this remaining sum to me will delay my illustrated publications on church and book painting, which are now being prepared by two artists, one of whom makes drawing copies and the second makes photolithographs of ancient icons of Greek, Georgian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Abyssinian, and other origin. A slowdown in this business in my advanced years (my 80th year), a delay even for one year forces me to think and ask what I ask' (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 26v.).
But the established order was not possible to change: until his death, Bishop Porphyrius had time to recieve, in addition to the first 5,000 rubles, only two payments: 4000 rubles in 1884 and 2000 rubles in 1885. (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fols. 25, 31).
After the death of Bishop Porphyrius that occurred on 19 April 1885, the Library transferred the remaining 4,000 rubles to the Imperial Academy of Sciences to which Bp. Porphyrius bequeathed his property and capital (24,000 rubles) for gradual printing his works. (RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fols. 32–37).
To the Imperial Public Library
During the years of my stay in the East, I purchased the manuscript in different languages and of different centuries, starting with the ninth, and, in addition to them, book painting samples from the year 715, ancient geographical maps with astronomical pictures and calendar notes, and paleographic samples of Greek music from the tenth century, Greek and Slavic scribes' handwritings, and Greek, Georgian and Slavic book writings of various ages. I wish to sell all these acquisitions kept in good condition, in rich bindings and on cardboard mounts, to the Imperial Public Library in order that they would not dispersed here and there after my death, and so that for money received for them, I could print my works with many, many pictures, illustrations and drawings, of which production and printing is very expensive. The price all of them is 15,000 rubles without packing and shipment. The sum may be divided for payment to me in several parts over three to four years. The catalogue of manuscripts and carboard mounts is herewith attached.
Let the heads of the Imperial Public Library deign to buy from me all these jewels which I bought for my Fatherland, not for foreigners who are aware of their existence and are able to buy them from me even at a higher price. – Ожидается ответ.
was sent from the New Monastery of the Saviour, headed by the bishop, and dated to 29 March 1883. This letter contains not only a description of the collection, but also the reasons that drove the owner to sell the manuscript to the Imperial Public Library:'
Во время многолетняго пребывания моего на Востоке приобретены мною рукописи на разных языках и разных веков, начиная с девятаго, и кроме их образцы книжной живописи с 715 года, старинныя географическия карты с астрономическими рисунками и календарными заметками, и палеографические образчики греческих нот с десятаго века, канцелярских почерков греческих и славянских, и разновековаго книжнаго письма, греческаго, славянскаго и грузинскаго. Все эти приобретения, хорошо сохранившияся у меня в богатых переплетах и картонах, я желаю продать Императорской публичной библиотеке, дабы оне не растасканы были туда и сюда по смерти моей, и дабы на полученные за них деньги я мог напечатать свои сочинения с многими и многими картинами, рисунками и чертежами, коих изготовление и печатание стоит весьма дорого. Цена всем им 15000 рублей без укладки и пересылки. Уплата сих денег может быть производима мне по частям в три-четыре года. Каталог рукописей и картонов при сем прилагается.
Да благоволит начальство Императорской публичной библиотеки купить у меня все эти драгоценности, кои приобрел я для моего отечества, а не для иностранцов, знающих о существовании их и могущих купить их у меня даже гораздо дороже. – Ожидается ответ.
Head of the stauropegic New Monastery of the Saviour in Moscow
RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 1
Most Reverend Eminence,
The Imperial Public Library had the honor to receive your letter dated to 29 March of this year on the acquisition of the collection of manuscripts, belonging to you, and, with a vivid gratitude, accepts your offer, full of benevolent attention to it, on the proposed terms. Where else but in the Imperial Public Library, in which already so many precious written and printed landmarks are stored, your
Most Reverend Eminence,
Императорская публичная библиотека имела честь получить письмо Вашего Преосвященства от 29 марта сего года относительно приобретения принадлежащаго Вам собрания рукописей и с живейшею благодарностию принимает на изъясненных условиях Ваше предложение, исполненное благоволительнаго к ней внимания. Где же, как не в Императорской Публичной библиотеке, в которой уже находится так много драгоценных письменных и печатных памятников, храниться Вашему
RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 5
collection, accumulated with a lot of knowledge for many years of your stay in the different countries of the Christian East in the interests of national science, for which You have worked hard and have enriched with many important writings."
составленному с многим знанием в течение многолетнего Вашего пребывания в разных странах христианскаго Востока в интересах отечественной науки, для которой Вы сами немало потрудились и которую Вы обогатили многими важными сочинениями.
The Public Library will preserve your collection in
its entirety for distant posterity, and, using it, scientists will recall, with respect and appreciation, your name, closely connected with the discovery of the famous Sinai Bible which is also stored
Публичная библиотека сохранит в целости Ваше собрание для отдаленнаго потомства и ученые при пользовании сим с уважением и признательностью будут вспоминать Ваше имя, тесно связанное с открытием знаменитой Синайской Библии, которая также хранится в
RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 5v.
in the library and is one of its jems. Soon, I hope to let you know of positive information about the beginning and the timing of payment of the following sum; however, I humbly beg Your Eminence to notify the library when and on what terms we can launch receiving your collection of manuscripts.
Надеюсь на днях сообщить Вам положительные сведения как о начале, так и о сроках уплаты следующей Вам суммы; вместе с тем покорнейше прошу Ваше Преосвященство уведомить библиотеку, когда и при каких условиях может быть приступлено к приему Вашего собрания рукописей.
I take this opportunity to remind you about itself: a few decades
Пользуюсь настоящим случаем, чтобы напомнить Вам о себе: несколько десятков
RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 6
ago, when you had just returned from the East and had a stay in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, you wish to offer Count Korf to buy your collection through me. I am glad that had I now to finish the affair, once begun then rejected. This clearly points out the place where your collection ought to be.
лет тому назад, когда Вы только что возвратились с Востока и имели пребывание в Александро-Невской лавре, Вам угодно было через меня предложить графу Корфу покупку Вашего собрания. Радуюсь, что некогда начатое дело, тогда отклоненное, пришлось мне теперь довести до конца. В этом ясно усматривается указание места, где должно находиться Ваше собрание.
Asking your Eminence pastoral blessing, with sincere respect and complet devotion…Испрашивая Вашего, Владыко, архипастырскаго благословения, с искренным почтением и совершенною преданностию имею честь быть Вашего преосвящ…
RNB. OAD. Fund 1. IPB. Inventory 1. 1883. No. 4. Fol. 6v.