2 JANUARY 1932, Page 7

The Vatican Library Accident It was natural enough that the

damage done to the Vatican library two days before Christmas should have been somewhat exaggerated in the first reports. It is unfortunately true that five persons were killed in the collapse of part of the Sala Sistina, but the books and MSS. suffered little and the miscellaneous objects de- stroyed were of no great value. However, as the Vatican library is the oldest and among the most important in the world, and as its building, erected by Sixtus V about the time of the Armada, looks as solid and immovable as the Tarpeian Rock, it was easy for grave rumours of serious losses of irreplaceable MSS. to get abroad. It seems that the Vatican, like St. Paul's and too many others of our cathedrals, has suffered from jerry-building in the past. Perhaps the library's bad foundations would have escaped notice for another century or two had the contents remained unchanged. But when book was added to book, and curio to curio, the structure at last collapsed, forming a perfect if costly illustration of the proverb about " the last straw."