I was fortunate in being in New York when the Metropolitan Museum celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its birth, for I was therefore able to enjoy not only its normal treasures but such others as had been borrowed for birthday presents, which means that I saw Mrs. H. E. Huntington's Vermeer, as well as the supreme Marquand example of that master; more than the regular wealth of Rembrandts, Manet's "Still Life," Gauguin's "Women by the River," El Greco's "View of Toledo," Franz Hals' big jovial Dutchman from Mr. Harry Goldman's walls, and Bellini's "Bacchanale" - to say nothing of the lace in galleries 18 and 19, Mr. Morgan's bronze Eros from Pompeii, and the various cases of porcelain from a score of collections. But without extra allurements I should have been drawn again and again to this magnificent museum.

Two of the principal metropolitan donors - Altman and Hearn - were the owners of big dry goods stores, while Marquand, whose little Vermeer is probably the loveliest thing in America, was also a merchant. In future I shall look upon all the great emporium proprietors as worthy of patronage, on the chance of their being also beneficent collectors of works of art. This thought, this hope, is more likely to get me into a certain Oxford Street establishment than all the rhetoric and special pleading of Callisthenes.

The Frick Gallery was not accessible; but I was privileged to roam at will both in Mr. Morgan's library and in Mr. H. E. Huntington's, in each of which I saw such a profusion of unique and unappraisable autographs as I had not supposed existed in private hands. Rare books any one with money can have, for they are mostly in duplicate; but autographs and "association" books are unique, and America is the place for them. I had known that it was necessary to cross the Atlantic in order to see the originals of many of the pictures of which we in London have only the photographs. I knew that the bulk of the Lamb correspondence was in America, and at Mr. Morgan's I saw the author's draft of the essay on "Roast Pig," and at Mr. Newton's, in Philadelphia, the original of "Dream Children," an even more desirable possession; I knew that America had provided an eager home for everything connected with Keats and Shelley and Stevenson; but it was a surprise to find at Mr. Morgan's so wide a range of MSS., extending from Milton to Du Maurier, and from Bacon to "Dorian Gray"; while at Mr. Huntington's I had in my hands the actual foolscap sheets on which Heine composed his "Florentine Nights."

I ought, you say, to have known this before. Maybe. But that ignorance in such matters is no monopoly of mine I can prove by remarking that many an American collector with whom I have talked was unaware that the library of Harvard University is the possessor of all the works of reference - mostly annotated - which were used by Thomas Carlyle in writing his "Cromwell" and his "Frederick the Great," and they were bequeathed by him in his will to Harvard University because of his esteem and regard for the American people, "particularly the more silent part of them."

My hours in these libraries, together with a glimpse of the Widener room at Harvard and certain booksellers' shelves, gave me some idea of what American collectors have done towards making the New World a treasury of the Old, and I realised how more and more necessary it will be, in the future, for all critics of art in whatever branch, and of literature in whatever branch, and all students even of antiquity, if they intend to be thorough, to visit America. This I had guessed at, but never before had known.

The English traveller lighting upon so many of the essentially English riches as are conserved in American libraries, and particularly when he has not a meagre share of national pride, cannot but pause to wonder how it came about - and comes about - that so much that ought to be in its own country has been permitted to stray.

In England collectors and connoisseurs are by no means rare. What, then, were they doing to let all these letters of Keats and Shelley, Burns and Byron, Lamb and Johnson - to name for the moment nothing else - find their resting-place in America? The dollar is very powerful, I know, but should it have been as pre-eminently powerful as this? Need it have defeated so much patriotism?

Pictures come into a different category, for every artist painted more than one picture. I have experienced no shade of resentment towards their new owners in looking at the superb collections of old and new foreign masters in the American public and private galleries; for so long as there are enough examples of the masters to go round, every nation should have a share. With MSS., however, it is different. Facsimiles, such as the Boston Bibliographical Society's edition of Lamb's letters, would serve for the rest of the world, and the originals should be in their author's native land. But that is a counsel of perfection. The only thing to do is to grin and bear it, and feel happy that these unique possessions are preserved with such loving pride and care. Any idea of retaliation on America on the part of England by buying up the MSS. of the great American writers, such as Franklin and Poe, Hawthorne and Emerson, Thoreau and Lowell, Holmes and Whitman, was rendered futile by the discovery that Mr. Morgan possesses these too. I had in his library all the Breakfast Table series in my hands, together with a play by Poe not yet published.