HC Deb 14 July 1842 vol 65 cc124-43
Mr. Hume

rose to call the attention of the House to the report of the select commit of of June, 1841, on National Movements, and to demonstrate the propriety of the recommendation contained in that report being fully carried out. This was not a party question. The object Which he had in view was one to which, he conceived, no party in that House could possibly have any objection. It had long been made a charge against the people of this country, that they could not be admitted to visit Public Institutions, where there Were collections of paintings, statues, and other works of aft, without endangering the safety of those precious deposits; and they were, on that point considered to be inferior to the French and other nations of the continent. Now, he was one of those who had, for a very long time, studied the character of the great mass of the people, and he observed, uniformly, that where they were kept at a distance—where little confidence was placed in them—no matter whether it was in affairs of mere amusement, or in matters that were of importance to society in general—he had uniformly observed, that this suspicious distrust of the people led to those very consequences that were deprecated, and which a more kind and generous expression of feeling towards them would assuredly prevent. Until within a very short period all our valuable collections of the paintings and work of art were, in consequence of this jealous and distrustful feeling, shut up from the great body of the people. They were prevented from examining those objects of curiosity and instruction to which, in other parts of the world, individuals of their own class were allowed easy access. Some of those places were indeed open; but they could not be entered except at such an expense as confined their inspection to persons in the middle and higher classes of society. A better state of things had, however, grown up of late years; and the experiment had shown, so far as it had been tried, that the English populace might be permitted to enjoy the treasures of art collected in different parts of this metropolis without those treasures receiving the smallest injury. In June, 1841, he moved for and obtained a committee on this subject. That committee had effected much good; but they were not able, in consequence of the shortness of the Session, to do that justice to the question which they otherwise would have done. He was anxious, how-ever, to place before the House the result of the labours of that committee, in order to show, on the part of the working community, bow far the benefits expected to be derived from their recommendations had been realized, and how far it would be proper and beneficial to carry out the principle which, in consequence of the report of the committee, had been first acted on. It was important to the working classes that that principle should be fully carried out. Very many of these individual had no opportunity to cultivate the arts o reading and writing. It was not in their power to study at home during the few hours' respite which they had from labour. They were obliged to devote almost all their hours to providing for the wants of their families. They were literally excluded, in many instances, from any opportunity of education. It, there-fore, appeared to him, that the opening the doors of these public institutions to the working classes in the metropolis did in itself actually afford a species of education. The inspection of these works of art gave rise to habits of thinking in minds that had never thought before, and thus, in the very outset, a great good was attained. He believed that the character of the working classes in general was in a great degree influenced by the character and conduct of the higher classes; and if higher classes treated those whom providence had placed below them with coldness, indifference, or harshness—if they kept them at a distance, like beings of a different species, it was not difficult to see that such conduct must lead to unpleasant consequences. This had been too much the case in this country; and he believed the result of the system had been to place the population of this country in a worse moral position than their continental neighbours. The brutality and rudeness which they every day saw exhibited could not but be extremely painful to those Who witnessed it. He would remove this by directing the minds of the people to amusements that were not only harmless but instructive. Ignorance led to crime, and in that respect it was lamentable to observe how degradingly this country was situated, as compared with any other nation in the world. On the committee of 1841 they had the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the hon. Member for Nottinghamshire, and five other hon. Gentlemen, who were now Members of that House, men who advocated different classes of political opinion; and he was free to say that throughout all their proceedings, and up to the close of the labours of that committee, they had only one dissention, and that was with respect to the insertion of three words, whether the British Museum and other Public Institutions should be "open on Sundays." Those who opposed the proposition were afraid that, if these places were open when divine service was being soleminised in the afternoon, the multitude would go to view objects of art and science instead of attending public worship. The answer to this was, that in every class of society a time for amusement and recreation must be set apart. Now, the time when it was proposed to open these Public Institutions, on the Sunday, was the only one of which the poor man could avail himself, and he believed, that for the want of a better mode of employing and amusing themselves on that day, the working classes had recourse to public-houses. Was it not better, he would ask, that instead of besotting themselves in public-houses, the National Gallery, British Museum, and other places of a similar character, should be opened on the Sunday afternoon, where the working classes might amuse as well as instruct themselves? If this plan were adopted, he thought that the working man, with his wife and family, would partake of this innocent enjoyment, instead of, as was now too often the case, the husband proceeding alone to the public-house, where he wasted his money, wasted his time, destroyed his constitution, and demoralised his character. These were the arguments in favour of opening public institutions on the Sunday afternoon. He thought they carried great weight with them. In his mind they were conclusive. Such was the practice abroad. If he went to Belgium or to Holland (and no place was more religious than Holland), he found that, after the hours of divine service, the husband, wife, and such members of the family as were able to go abroad proceeded to the country; or if the weather was not fine, or they preferred it, visited the museums and public institutions, where they examined and admired the splendid collections of works of art or of mechanical ingenuity. But what was the case in this country? Let any Gentleman ride round the environs of London on a Sunday evening, and in every quarter he would see flags displayed from public-houses, apprising the artisan where he might procure beer and spirituous liquors. He did not wish to shut those houses up; but certainly he would not encourage them by preventing the people from having recourse to a more salutary and harmless enjoyment—that of inspecting works of genius. The whole evidence before the committee of 1841 satisfied his mind of the utility of acting on this principle. It proved to him, that if the recommendation of the committee were carried out to its full extent, it would improve the morals and add greatly to the happiness of the industrious, honest, hardworking classes. Great benefits had accrued from opening the public parks. Let any hon. Member visit the Regent's-park next Sunday, and he would behold a most gratifying scene. He would see the whole of that extensive area crowded with families—men, women, and children, happily enjoying themselves. Undoubtedly their constitutions were renovated, their health was improved, in that pure atmosphere; whereas, if they had not such a place to proceed to, if they were compelled to remain in their murky and unwholesome districts, their health would be deteriorated and their constitutions impaired. He rejoiced that so much had been done, but he was anxious that still more should be done; and when the weather did not allow the toil-worn artisan to rove through the fields, he would open to him the various public institutions, and permit him to enjoy the different objects of art that were there assembled. This would do more to sober the minds, and improve the morals of those too much neglected classes, than all the rigour and all the severity with which the more strict religionists would visit them for the purpose of compelling them to act as they did. In respect to promenade accommodations for the inhabitants, the eastern parts of the metropolis had been much neglected. Much good, however, would be effected by the formation of Victoria Park; and hundreds of thousands of artisans living in murky and unwholesome dwellings in the east of London would be enabled to enjoy that air and exercise which those who resided in the western part of the town could at present boast of. A petition had been presented to the House signed by almost all the inhabitants of Bermondsey and its vicinity, praying that a similar park should be formed in that neighbourhood. There was a piece of ground centrally situated with reference to St. George's-fields, Bermondsey, and Lambeth, which could be procured by Government on easy terms, and might be appropriated to that beneficial object. He did not want the expenditure of money, as his object would be by an exchange of Crown property in one place to procure appropriate sites in another. With respect to the improvement which took place amongst the people, by opening up to them the means of innocent and wholesome recreation, he had the testimony of Colonel Rowan, who stated, that since the facilities of this sort were increased one policeman was now found sufficient where ten had been required before; that at Greenwich fair, after which, formerly, the prisons were full of offenders, there were now no riots whatsoever. This, in the Colonel's opinion, was owing to the facilities for recreation which had been afforded, and he recommended that further means should be adopted for forwarding the same object. When, on a former occasion, it was urged that the Museum should be opened during the holidays, the answer was, that the adoption of such a course would be attended with considerable hurt; now that the trial had been made the result was highly gratifying. In the report of 1835 and 1836, Sir Henry Ellis said, there would be great danger in opening the establishment during the holidays, and that the collection could not be kept safe from the crowds which were likely to attend. From the evidence of the same Gentleman it now appeared, that from 16,000 to 32,000 visited the Museum in the course of one day, and during the four years that it had been open to such numerous assemblages, not one instance occurred in which the aid of the police was required, though the changes which were taking place during the time offered great temptation. He had it from the Secretary, that up to the 2nd of July the institution had been visited by 232,778 persons. Amongst the complaints at present made, one related to the exclusion of children under eight years of age, even though under the care of their guardians. These children had to be left in some neighbouring shop with one of the parents, whilst the other visited the collect on, and then the person who had charge of the child took his or her turn. Children were now admitted to Hampton-palace. Before that injury used to be sustained, but since then not sixpence worth of damage had been done. That was a fact well worthy of consideration. He was anxious that children should be admitted to the British Museum and to the National Gallery, as well as to Hampton Court, and if it was understood that their parents were to hold them by the hand no injury could be done. A great inconvenience also arose from making parties write their names upon entrance, as it occasioned a crowd in the passage. It was a useless practice, and according to the testimony of the porters and the best informed officers, no benefit resulted from it. He thought it right too, that the King's library should be thrown open to the public. As to the objection that the admission of a great number of people would raise too great a dust, it would be easily obviated by adopting the same precautions which had been taken with respect to that House. At present the Museum was opened only for four days in the week. He imagined that the public might now with great ease and safety be allowed the accommodation of an additional day. Ingress was now afforded to the public up to six or seven o'clock; but the number seeking entrance after five o'clock was very inconsiderable. By gaining the two hours the labour of the persons employed would not be increased, and two hours additional might be afforded to students. He visited the Museum on last Easter Monday, when he found that from 15,000 to 16,000 passed through with the greatest regularity—indeed, he might almost say with the discipline of soldiers. Thence he went to the National Gallery, where he found 13,000 persons had passed through with the same order as at the Museum, and departed with equal readiness when the proper hour arrived. In the year 1840 there passed through the gallery 503,011; in 1841, 538,355; and on the 7th of July of the present year, the numbers given by the Secretary were 370,105. This would sufficiently testify the desire of the people to indulge in those habits which, whilst they gratified, at the same time improved the public taste. Whilst the admission of visitors to the Tower was as high as 2s., the sum acquired from visitors was very small, and the visitors themselves very limited. For the last year at that price the number of visitors was 8,000, exclusive of 2,000 admitted on orders. When the amount was reduced to Is. in 1838, the number of visitors was 40,000; the next year, when the admission was reduced to. there were 84,000 visitors; the next year 94,000, and the year following, 103,000. At 2s. the amount raised for entrance was but 800l. in the year, whilst at 6d. it was '2,570l. Of the sum thus acquired, the Master-general of the Ordnance had been enabled to appropriate 1,059l, to the purchase of ancient armour. There was one improvement which he would suggest as respected those who visited the Tower, namely. that they should not be hurried F through a hasty inspection, but be allowed the privilege which they had at the Museum. As another example of the good effects of reducing prices, he would mention that when 2s. was charged for admission to see the jewels in the Tower, no more than 6,000 or 7,000 persons visited charge 20,000 did so. It was quite delightful to see the eagerness of the public to visit Hampton Court Palace. He understood it was now common among the working classes for a party to hire a waggon to go there, which they could do for Is. a head, and frequently twenty or thirty waggons would arrive from London in a day, the inmates of which, after having enjoyed themselves in the palace and park, returned to their homes in the evening. He was happy to acknowledge the gratitude he felt for the handsome conduct of Sir R. Stopford, Governor of Greenwich Hospital, in opening the chapel and hall to the public on two days of the week, free of charge, from ten o'clock in the morning to four o'clock in winter, and six o'clock in summer—an act which reflected the highest credit on the gallant admiral. Sailors, who had been formerly obliged to pay, were now also freely permitted to see the records of our naval glory which that institution contained. There was much still to be done to facilitate the access of the public to cathedrals. The committee had proposed that St. Paul's should be opened to the public for two hours every day, not during divine service. It was well known that now, during the hours of service, crowds of persons entered, because they were not admitted at any other time without paying, but whose entrance now was productive of little other result than to disturb divine worship. Mr. Britton, Mr. Cunningham, and other men eminent in art, had borne ample testimony to the strong desire which the public felt to view works of art, and to the entire absence of any disposition to do injury to them and Stated that they might be admitted freely to Westminster Abbey and other similar buildings without the least danger. He had written a letter to the dean and chapter of every cathedral in the kingdom, soliciting that free access might be granted to visitors, and in consequence arrangements had been made in the cases of Norwich, Durham, and Bath and Wells, for the admission, of the public at certain times. He hoped that they would have the assistance of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government towards opening Public Institutions of all kinds. As an instance of the success of an experiment of this kind, he might mention Newcastle, the museum of which place was visited by vast numbers of persons from the country resorting to the town on market days, and at other times, with the best effects. The Dulwich Gallery, near the metropolis, contained a collection of pictures which had been left expressly for the use of the public, but he regretted that he had been unable to induce the warden to meet the public convenience by opening the gallery; the vexatious regulation of requiring tickets was still kept up, and the consequence was that the poor, as well as many persons of the middle class who had no time or opportunity to procure tickets, were excluded from seeing the gallery. He wished he could say anything in favour of the Royal Academy: but he found them, who ought to be the patrons of art and taste, more inexorable than any others. A sum of 50,000l. had been ex. pended by the public to provide them accommodation, and surely the public had a right to derive some advantage from that expenditure. He wished them to permit the exhibition to remain open gratis for a week or a fortnight after those who paid had seen it, or to be gratuitously open for one day in the week during the time the exhibition lasted. He believed them to be the only body in Europe who did nothing towards the promotion of those objects for which it was established. He saw no other course that could be adopted on the present occasion than to address her Majesty, praying for her assistance for the attainment of the objects he had indicated, and he was sure, from the readiness with which she had consented to the prayer forwarded to her soon after her accession relative to the royal palaces, that she would not refuse her aid on the present occasion in the work of humanizing the minds of her people, and disseminating, taste. He was perfectly willing, however, to adopt any other course that might be thought preferable; to carry his object was what he wished. The hon. Member concluded by moving, That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that she will be graciously pleased to give directions to the trustees of the British Museum and of the Na- tional Gallery, to the authorities having charge of the armouries and jewels in the Tower of London, and to all other persons having the management or direction of public edifices and cathedrals, for the adoption of those facilities and improvements recommended in the report of the select committee on public monuments.

Mr. Ewart

seconded the motion, and recommended that a commission should be instituted for the inspection and preservation of all the national monuments and works of art.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

concurred most cordially in the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Montrose, as to the importance of throwing open to the public, as far as possible, all those exhibitions and works of art which tended to elevate their ideas to higher objects than those by which they were immediately surrounded, and by improving their taste, contributed so essentially to humanize and elevate their character. The only point in which he differed from the hon. Gentleman was a technical one,—as to the mode in which the common object might best be attained. He agreed that nothing could be more advantageous to the public in the largest sense, than the opening of the parks in the neighbourhood of London. It was beneficial not only to the lower classes, as af3ording admirable facilities for healthful recreation and enjoyment; but even to those in the higher ranks of society nothing could afford greater gratification than to see their humbler fellow-subjects innocently enjoying themselves, and partaking of those blessings which Providence had placed within their reach. There w as scarcely a Sunday he did not himself go to those scenes of enjoyment; not so much for the purpose of his own recreation, as deriving the higher gratification of seeing his fellow-creatures innocently enjoy themselves. The only point on which, as the hon. Member observed, there was any difference of opinion in the committee, was as to the propriety of opening the National Gallery on Sundays; and he, with many others, conscientiously entertained the opinion that the opening of such exhibitions at all on Sunday, and especially during divine service, would be extremely prejudicial to the moral habits and feelings of the people. He knew well that arguments of a religious character were particularly out of place in the House of Commons; and the hon. Gentleman might be disposed to designate the opinion he had expressed as a mere prejudice; he called it an honest, conscientious feeling, but in either view of the matter he would recommend him not to press his motion for an address, Let him take what advantages he could, and leave prejudices to be counteracted by the silent operation of public opinion. Within the last few years great progress had been made in this question, and there was now a readiness displayed by those who had charge of the public, and even of many private collections, to open their doors to all classes of the community, which no interference of that House, by means of an address to the Crown, could have brought about. With respect to the Museum, the hon. Gentleman had proposed that it should be opened an additional day in the week for the accommodation of the public; but it was extremely difficult to hit the precise means of reserving a sufficient time for those who resorted to the Museum to study, without encroaching on the accommodation which he admitted was due to all classes of the community. He believed the desire existed on all hands to accommodate the public as far as possible. The same might be said with reference to the cathedrals. In Westminster Abbey a great reduction of the charge had taken place; and it had, therefore, proved the greatest attraction to a very large body of the people. In common with the hon. Member for Montrose. he wished the Dean and Chapter of Westminster would consent to throw the Abbey open to the public some portion of every day, under proper regulations, but he did not think that object would be gained by the proposed address. There was a natural disposition in mankind to resist the exercise of an assumed authority to which they were not bound to give obedience; and he doubted whether the direct interposition of Parliament, through the medium of the Crown, would not retard rather than accelerate the accomplishment of the great end in view. He would undertake, however, to say for himself and her Majesty's advisers, that they anxiously wished to extend the means of innocent enjoyment to all classes, even to the lowest order of the people; and, as far as they had the direction of public establishments, or any means of persuasion over those who had, they were determined to lose no opportunity of ex. Lending the means of access to them one the part of the people. He therefore hoped that the hon. Member, having originated this matter and having obtained a general expression of opinion on the part of the House, would be content to leave the question on that footing, without insisting on an address, which might give rise to opposition on the part of some who could not agree to the full extent of the recommendations of the committee.

Sir R. H. Inglis

could not admit that the hon. Member for Montrose had obtained a general expression of opinion on the part of the House. In fact, he had yet only received the concurrence of the hon. Member for Dumfries and the more qualified approval of his right hon. Friend. He did not wish that this metropolis should run a race with Paris in the desecration of the Lord's-day. It was not always the case that a high taste for the fine arts and public virtue were necessarily co-existent. The period when the fine arts most flourished in ancient Athens and Rome, and when taste was at its highest pitch, was the time when the morals of the people were most corrupted, and when the greatest abominations were practised. Græcia capta ferum victorem cepit, et artes Intulit agresti Latio; and a flood of corruption followed. The hon. Member for Montrose had referred to the Royal Academy, and said that that institution derived 10,000l. a year from the public, and had done nothing to benefit their fellow-men. Now, he must inform the hon. Member that the Royal Academy was not a Public Institution, and was not amenable to that House. It was not right to say that a public building had been erected for the convenience of the Royal Academicians, for they had previously apartments in Somerset-house, and on giving them up it was stipulated, that they should occupy the new apartments in the National Gallery exactly on the same footing. If the hon. Member's motion was pressed to a division, he should vote against it, as he was decidedly opposed to opening Public Institutions on the Lord's day.

Mr. H. G. Knight

regretted that his hon. Friend, the Member for the University of Oxford, should have thought it necessary to throw cold water on the liberal unanimity with which the House appeared disposed to receive the motion of the hon. Member for Montrose. He still more deeply regretted that, his hon. Friend should have gone so far as to launch his anathema against the cultivation of the arts. Were we living in the nineteenth century, or thrust back into the darkness of the middle ages? When his hon. Friend was addressing the House, it appeared to him Mr. Knight) that he was listening to some venerable monk who was commending Virgil and Cicero to the flames, and doing his best to re-plunge the country into that barbarism and that ignorance which, we have always been told, is the fertile parent of crime. For his own part, he would cordially support the motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, both for the sake of the cultivation of the arts, and with a view to its moral effect. This country, great in many ways, had not, hitherto, been equally remarkable for its preeminence in the arts. Yet commerce was not adverse to the arts, for the arts had been restored to life in the commercial towns of Italy—in Florence, in Pisa, in Venice—and in those towns the arts had flourished more and more in proportion as their commerce had extended. But the truth was, that the arts cannot flourish unless the public at large take an interest in them, and are capable of appreciating their merits—and this was not as yet the case in England. Now, with regard to the moral effect how desirable was it that the people should have the opportunity of contemplating the sculptured resemblances of those great men by whom their country had been assisted or adorned ! It was for this reason that the Greeks and Romans filled their streets and their forums with the statutes of their distinguished men. They knew that the sight of those statutes would supply the state with a constant succession of poets, and philosophers, and heroes. They knew that nature sows the seed of genius in every soil; that in all the walks of life there exist hearts that are "pregnant with celestial fire"—hearts that, admonished by such remembrances, kindle at once, and exalt those who own them to the loftiest heights of virtue and of fame. For these reasons it was his earnest desire that all the doors should be thrown open as wide as possible; and he would further admit that, in cases where public monuments had been raised at the expence of the country, the will of an individual who may be weak, who may be haughty, who may be narrow-minded, should not be permitted entirely to stand in the way of great national objects. He further agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose in opinion, that there would be nothing improper in providing the working classes with opportunities of innocent recreation on a Sunday afternoon. It would go far to divert them from those habits of intemperance, of which we hear such frequent complaints. If a working man went to church in the morning, he would not quarrel with him, if, in the afternoon, he visited the National Gallery, or took a walk with his wife and his children in the parks, where, as he inhaled the fresh air, beheld the blue canopy of heaven, and gazed on the verdure of the lawns and the woods, his thoughts would ascend in gratitude to Him who made them all. But, if the cathedrals of this vast metropolis were thrown open to the public, great care must be taken that the house of God should not be desecrated in any way, nor the performance of divine worship be disturbed: this could only be done by multiplying the number of vergers, and, perhaps, introducing policemen; and the expence of this additional force., as it would be incurred for the accommodation of the public, should be sustained by the public, and not thrown on the chapters. An idea had occurred to him by which public monuments might, in future, be offered to the contemplation of the people, in a manner that would be wholly unobjectionable. He would have spacious cloisters, like the Campo Santo, at Pisa, or a church, like the Madeleine, at Paris, built at the expence of the public, and devoted, hereafter, to receive the monuments of our distinguished men. Into such a building the people might at all times be admitted without any inconvenience. The building itself would be ornamental to the metropolis. He hoped the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government would take this subject into his consideration, and not disdain to be handed down to posterity as the pericles of his time. His hon. Friend, the Member for Dumfries, had mentioned a subject which, in his (Mr. Knight's) opinion, was well deserving of attention: he had expressed a wish that a commission might be appointed to examine and report upon the state of our cathedrals, and the historical monuments which they contain. But he (Mr. Knight) would prefer an inspector to a commission. Such an officer existed in France, and had been found exceedingly useful. But if such an officer were appointed, the hon. Member for Montrose must so far restrain his economical propensities as not to find fault with the expence which such an appointment would necessarily entail; for such an officer must be a professional man of acknowledged ability, who could not be called upon to give up his time without a liberal compensation; and there would be no use in his making reports unless the recommendations contained in those reports were to be carried into effect. This, however, was a subject to itself—a project which could not be adopted without much and mature consideration. He would leave it in the hands of Government, and content himself with repeating his candid concurrence in the motion of the hon. Member for Montrose.

Mr. Wyse

said, he had never heard, that giving the humbler classes access to our national monuments, was attended by evil consequences; on the contrary, it was one of the best links between the higher and lower classes. But he would ask the House, whether it was not for the interest of artists, as individuals, that opportunities should be given to the public of improving their taste in works of art by public exhibitions. With respect to the productions of the middle ages, of which this country had so much reason to be proud, he regretted that means should not be taken to preserve them from that destruction to which so many had been consigned, not by the barbarism of our ancestors, so much as by the neglect of the present age.

Sir R. Peel

hoped, that the hon. Gentleman would not press his motion to a division, but it appeared to him that on technical grounds there was a strong objection to it, because communications between that House and the Crown were of a formal nature, and he thought the hon. Gentleman would feel that to refer the Crown to the report of a select committee, and ask her Majesty to carry into effect the recommendations of the committee, without particularizing what they were, was a course of proceeding not exactly consisteut with the respect that was due to the Crown. He was almost inclined to doubt the power of the Crown with reference to the opening of cathedrals, as that remained with the deans and chapters; and the only effectual way to get ready access to them was to apply to the persons having charge of these buildings to increase the facilities of access. Undoubtedly, access to our national monuments could be afforded, and, in his opinion, the greatest advantage would result from it to the working classes of this country; but it was proposed only as a substitute for dissipation and vice. Now, their whole time could not be absorbed by such exhibitions, and all that he contended for was, to show the public the wonders of the creation, and the works of art, so that their taste might be gradually refined. It was very difficult for the State to come into contact with great masses of the people in granting these indulgences; but if they could in their expenditure attend to the health and improvement of the people it would tend to strengthen the monarchy and our form of Government, and would be giving a new guarantee for the preservation and stability of the Slate. They would then show the people that in the expenditure of the public money, their interests, their enjoyment, and their improvement were regarded; and when they heard of millions being necessarily raised by taxation for the conduct of the public service, it would not be so much objected to. At the same time, with reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Montrose, he must object to the British Museum and National Gallery being opened on Sunday. Why should they refuse to allow those who were employed there one day of rest after the six during which they were engaged? With respect to the charges that were made for admission, one of the arguments in favour of it was, that it was necessary for the purpose of insuring the respectability of the visitors; but he understood that it was rather from the vulgar rich than from the artisans that any damage arose to public monuments; and he referred the House to the evidence printed in the report on the subject in Confirmation of that opinion. Much more might be expected to be achieved through the influence of public feeling than by anything peremptory or compulsory.

Mr. Mackinnon,

as one of the committee whose report referred to this subject, he found himself in the novel situation of concurring with the hon. Member for Montrose. Every facility ought to be given for the inspection of public exhibitions of works of art.

Mr. W. Cowper

heartily agreed in wishing the cathedrals to be opened to the public gratuitously, as had been the intention of their founders. He was persuaded that no inconvenience would result there-from, and that the real obstacle arose out of consideration of pounds, shillings, and pence.

Mr. Bernal

felt very strongly on the question of opening the exhibitions or museums on Sundays. He would ask any one on what other days could our artisans and those engaged in constant servitude find time for enjoying the glorious emanations of genius? It need not follow that the exhibitions should be opened during the hours of divine service; and he was sure that the effect would be beneficial, in affording sources of refined and elevated pleasure in place of other and less worthy ones.

Mr. Escott

thought, that this was a subject of the greatest moral importance. He agreed with the hon. Member for Hertford that many recreations had been taken from the people, and that no subject was more entitled to the attention of Parliament than that of providing innocent amusements for the people. He therefore cordially concurred in the motion brought forward by the hon. Member for Montrose. At the same time, he thought that there was great danger in making any extensive change against the opinions of the best portion of the people. He trusted, that something would be done to revive the spirit for the games and pastimes of former times, for he was sorry to say, that they were now almost forgotten among the villagers in England, and nothing tended more to promote the health and happiness of the working classes than these innocent out-door recreations.

Mr. C. Buller

was glad, that a question of this importance had been so favourably received on both sides of the House. He wished to cull the attention of the noble Lord opposite to the exceedingly capricious rules by which some of the parks were regulated. The remarks which he had to make would apply to all the parks, but more particularly to St. James's, because it seemed to be the one where the demon of the Woods and Forests most delighted to interfere with the enjoyments of the people. What could be said for the rule which excluded from that park every person carrying a bundle. The keepers very often exercised a wicked sort of malice in this respect—they would let the person walk half-way down the park, and then up would come one of the gentlemen in Lincoln green, and turn the unfortunate individual back. It was only the other day that the hon. Member for Bath, in his way down to the House, and carrying a book and some papers tied with a string, presented himself at one of the gates. One of the gentlemen in Lincoln green came up and stopped him, saying "You have got a bundle, Sir." The hon. Member remonstrated, and carried on the discussion with the keeper on general principles—he told him who he was, and the keeper, having no doubt the fear of the inquisition before his eyes, at last allowed the hon. Member to pass. He thought, the regulations with regard to games were also absurd. The other day he saw four little boys playing at leap-frog in the park, but, one of the gentlemen in Lincoln green coming in sight, they all ran away. He went up to the keeper, and asked him if his orders were to prevent the boys playing, and he answered that his orders were to prohibit every game. Could anything be more absurd than such a rule? Then with regard to sleeping in the park, No one, it seemed, was allowed to sleep, Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. The moment any one threw himself down on the grass, and appeared as if inclined to sleep, out darted a gentleman in Lincoln green, and told him that he must not sleep there. Now, all these were absurd regulations, and as they interfered with the comforts of the people, he hoped the noble Lord would excuse him for having taken advantage of this discussion to draw his attention to the subject, and he hoped, that the good principles laid down by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government with regard to the admission to the Museum and the picture gallery, would be also applied to the admission of the people to the parks.

The Earl of Lincoln

doubted, whether the House would expect him to answer the hon. Gentleman on the present occasion, and he regretted, that the hon. Gentleman had introduced topics of this nature into the present debate—topics, he might observe, not worthy their discussion. The hon. Gentleman was quite mistaken in supposing that any instructions were given by the authorities to interfere with the innocent enjoyments of the people. The reverse was the case: there existed every inclination in the office which he held to extend the enjoyments of the people, and to facilitate their admission to the public parks. In St. James's park, he had himself done one or two things, which he thought would add to the enjoyment of the people, he had introduced various botanical plants, and had effected a botanical classification of them. The keepers might occasionally have exceeded their authority, but they had no instructions to interfere with the innocent amusements of the people. With regard to the rule respecting bundles, he thought that if persons carrying bundles were admitted, a serious impediment would arise to those persons who went there for relaxation With regard to the rule against persons being allowed to sleep in the park, he had only to say that the practice had of late been very common, and it had been found necessary to enforce the rule. There certainly was a regulation against admitting persons in a working dress, but there, was scarcely a mechanic in London who had not a decent dress, and no person who was decently dressed was ever refused admission. All these rules had been established from a desire not to interfere with the general accommodation of the public, and if the hon. Member for Liskeard had in future any complaints to make, he hoped he would make them to him, and not to the House.

Mr. Labouchere

could not see what harm there would be in allowing a man in his working dress to pass through the park. It was a bad principle which excluded a man from places of that description merely because he happened to have on a working dress.

The Earl of Lincoln

begged the right hon. Gentleman to recollect that the rule existed during the whole time that the right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the late Government. No new rule had been made, and any alterations that had been made were alterations of relaxation, and not of obstruction.

Mr. Borthwick

entirely concurred in the views taken by the hon. Member for Montrose and the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. He saw no objection to opening the edifices alluded to on Sunday, and he thought the Church might well afford the expense of keeping them open out of its own funds.

Mr. Curteis

complained of the barricades erected on Sundays in Westminster Abbey for the purpose of preventing the people getting a view of the monuments. He complained also of the manner in which the public were driven out of the abbey after the service; the vergers were always telling the people to move on, and no one could get even a glance at the monuments. He hoped the Dean and Chapter of Westminster would imitate the conduct of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's in this respect, and he thought the public ought to be grateful to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's for having removed the barricades in that cathedral. He thought great advantages would result to the people if these edifices were thrown open, as proposed.

Mr. Hume

was not surprised that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University objected to this motion, because he never expected to hear anything liberal from the hon. Member. He was therefore not disappointed in this respect, but he confessed that he was agreeably surprised at the manner in which the motion had been received by the House and the Government. Far from the churches being desecrated by consenting to a motion like the present, he thought they were desecrated at present, by taking filthy lucre for admission to see them, and refusing to admit a man because he was poor. All he wished was that the public should be permitted after divine service to see those noble edifices. After what had been said in the course of the discussion, he would not press his motion, and he therefore begged leave to withdraw it.

Motion withdrawn.

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