HC Deb 30 June 1847 vol 93 cc1079-80

said: I wish to ask a question of the noble Lord on a subject of great interest to every man in the country—I mean the Wellington memorial. I wish to know whether the noble Lord and the rest of Her Majesty's Ministers have not the strongest reason for knowing that the removal of the statue from the arch at Hyde Park Corner, and the retraction of the permission which Her Majesty had graciously been pleased to give for its being placed there, would be in the highest degree offensive, if not an indignity to the illustrious Person whose immortal military deeds it was intended to commemorate.


I certainly received some information on this subject from a gentleman who called upon me in Downing Street. He informed me that the Duke of Wellington had expressed by letter an opinion that the removal of the statue would be considered by others as being injurious to his reputation, or words somewhat to that effect. This letter was written a long time ago; I believe in the month of February. Since that time Her Majesty had been graciously pleased to order not only that a more fitting pedestal should be erected for the statue, if the House would give funds for that purpose; also, if the House would grant a vote of money, it was intended to ornament it with military trophies, as was formerly the case with triumphant arches, in commemoration of the deeds of the Duke of Wellington. Under these circumstances, it could not be supposed that the Duke of Wellington could any longer entertain such feelings on the matter as had been alluded to.


I wish to know from the noble Lord whether he has not seen under the handwriting of the illustrious Person, since the notice on the subject had been given to the House, a paper conveying the information to which I have before referred. Although I know the letter was written at an early period of the Session, I have reason to believe the feeling remains unchanged on the part of the illustrious Duke.


Since the intimation for a new pedestal for the statue has been given by my noble Friend the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests, I have received no information as to the feeling of the Duke of Wellington on the subject; and in fact, I do not believe the feeling of the noble Duke is such as the noble Lord has stated. It is, however, in the power of any one to ask the Duke of Wellington what his feeling is on the subject. I believe the Duke of Wellington will be fully satisfied with what Her Majesty and the Parliament shall think most fitting to be done in honour of the illustrious hero.


Since I necessarily mix much in public, I think I know what the public feeling is with regard to this statue. I believe the public feeling to be that the statue should remain where it is. From what I have heard, I have no doubt on the subject; and I believe the feeling is almost universal in the way which I describe. Such, I am satisfied, is the case, although I know the position of the statue is offensive to some. But if it be true that the Duke of Wellington, in honour of whom this statue has been erected, entertains objections against the removal of the statue, nothing could be more offensive to the public feeling than for the Government to ask for a sum of money to defray the charge of its removal. To let it remain where it is, if such feeling exists on the part of the illustrious Person in whose honour it is intended, must, I should have thought, have been conclusive in the minds of all parties. I am sure, in what I have said, I have only expressed the feelings of all classes of the community.


entirely concurred in what had fallen from his hon. Friend. He was formerly against placing the statue on the arch; but after what had taken place, and as it was now there, he hoped it would long remain there. He believed there was a strong opinion out of doors against its removal.


hoped, after the expression of feeling on the part of the two hon. Members who were not associated in political feeling with his Grace, that the suggestion of the noble Lord would not be adopted, and that his Grace would not be questioned on the subject. Such was the feeling of loyalty on the part of that illustrious man, that he was sure no wish of Her Majesty would be objected to by him, however repulsive to his own feelings. The feeling of every class of society was most strong that this statue should not be removed.

House adjourned at Six o'clock.