HC Deb 15 March 1847 vol 90 cc1341-3

begged to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, respecting the ceremony called the Eton Montem. It was a subject which he considered interesting out of doors, and it was one about which, as an old Etonian, he felt considerable interest. Most Gentlemen, he believed, were aware that the authorities at Eton had determined to discontinue the Montem, on the ground of its having an immoral tendency, and also of its interfering with the discipline of the school; but it was now desired by influential Members of that and the other House of Parliament, and other influential persons, to reverse that decision. He believed there was no doubt of the fact. He was not going to mention more than one or two facts, without which it was impossible to answer his question. There was no doubt, he believed, of the fact, that the proceedings which had taken place at Eton Montem were illegal, and that in point of fact the young gentlemen who went about collecting money were liable to be apprehended under the Vagrancy Act—[Mr. SPEAKER: The hon. Gentleman must not enter into an argument]—and if force were used by them, that it would amount to a highway robbery. The noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) seemed to be very much amused; it was stated—[Cries of "Order;" "Speaker."] The question he would put, then, was this: he wished to know from the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if the decision that had been arrived at by the provost and head master of Eton, to discontinue this practice of Eton Montem, was to be reversed by very high influence, as was anticipated and expected; whether the right hon. Baronet did not think it would be desirable and proper to exempt these young gentlemen from the penalties of the law to which they were now subject; and to legalize it, and to authorize it by a new law; they having acted contrary to the law, at those triennial, and as he thought, very discreditable and ungentlemanly proceedings?


As I am more fully acquainted than my right hon. Friend with what has taken place respecting the Eton Montem, I shall state what occurred. The provost and head master informed Her Majesty it was their intention to take measures for the abolition of the Eton Montem; and they stated at the same time that they wished to give this intimation to Her Majesty that such was their intention. Her Majesty informed me of that communication, and asked me if I thought proper to advise Her Majesty to interfere with the provost and head master, in order to support or withhold that determination. My advice to Her Majesty was, that the best authorities on the subject were the provost and head master. I informed the head master accordingly; and certainly I did not advise Her Majesty to interfere with the decision, which I believe they are perfectly competent to come to.