§ (10.) 150,000l, Purchase of Land for Institutions connected with Science and Art.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Mr. Patten, with regard to the next Vote, I wish to correct an impression which has been erroneously adopted by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) respecting its object. It is a Vote for a considerable sum of money, not less than 150,000l., and it would certainly appear at the first blush to be merely for building a National Gallery, which is not the case. I will explain briefly to the Committee the circumstances which induce the Government to propose this Vote. There is no doubt that the time has come when we must study more the industrial education of the people of this country, and when we must bring the influences of science and art to bear upon prodution more than they have prevailed up to the present period. A great revolution has for some time past been taking place in those circumstances which have given superiority to our manufactures. Hitherto this country has exercised a very great supremacy by its command over the raw material; but daily the raw material has become more equalised in price from the improved system of locomotion, and it will be impossible to sustain the supremacy of our manufactures by merely a superior command over the raw material. The time has come when the intellectual element becomes one of the most important elements of competition. This was felt very much during the period of the Great Exhibition, and I believe I may say it was 1021 the result which was arrived at by those who upon that occasion exercised the office of jurors, and examined with impartiality the productions of all countries in competition with our own—they arrived at the result, which it was unnecessary then ostentatiously to announce, that if we wished to maintain our superiority in the arts of production, we must consider that the intellectual element in production must be more studied and cultivated than heretofore. They found that in many countries there was a superiority in design; that from scientific agencies there was a power of competition with us, which countervailed that superior command of the raw material which had hitherto supported our industry; and that, in short, the time had arrived when we must seriously consider of increasing the means by which we were to maintain our superiority. Now, Sir, in all the countries of Europe this great want has long been recognised. There is not a town of any eminence on the Continent in which there is not a school where the influences of science and art are brought to bear upon human production, and there is not a capital in Europe in which there is not an Industrial University. There has been no deficiency either of the means or of feeling on this subject in this country for many years past; and it is a curious fact, though we have not succeeded in bringing to bear the influences of art and science upon the manufacturing skill of this country, that there are in this metropolis alone not less than 100 institutions devoted to the cultivation of art and science. There is an annual sum raised on their behalf by voluntary contributions amounting to 160,000l., and the nation contributes nearly 100,000l. more in support of such considerable institutions as the British Museum, the National Gallery, and others—making together about 250,000l. expended annually for the very purposes which, unfortunately, have never been attained; and the question has naturally arisen, why, while there was such evidence of an anxious wish on the part of the people of this country to cultivate the arts and sciences, shown by their willingness to expend so large a sum of money, and while the State contributed in the same spirit, has any systematic attempt to bring the influence of science and art upon manufacturing industry never to any extent been brought to a satisfactory issue? The result of our evidence at the Great Exhibition, of our observation of what 1022 has taken place in other countries, and of the convictions which arose, not only in those of philosophic mind, but also of men with practical views, was, that the time had come when it was necessary that a great effort should be made by which an industrial education should be secured in this country, and the influences of science and art upon productions be more systematically brought to bear. The subject at that time attracted the attention of the Royal Commissioners of the Great Exhibition, at the head of whom it is unnecessary for me to observe is the illustrious Prince, of whom I may say that while he is probably more qualified than any man in this country to elevate, to refine, and to form the tastes of the people; so there is no one who has addressed more indefatigable hours, or more unceasing thoughts, to this high purpose. Well, Sir, the Royal Commissioners found themselves in the possession of a considerable surplus after the termination of that remarkable Exhibition, which will always form one of the most interesting chapters in the history of man. That available surplus was not less than 150,000l. Besides that, they had, as contributions from exhibitors and from foreign States, the foundation of an extraordinary museum of industry, which probably in value itself amounts to not less than 9,000l. The Royal Commissioners, therefore, who were more conscious than any body of men in this country of our great deficiency, and of the absolute necessity which now exists for making such efforts, took into consideration whether, with those funds in their possession, an opportunity had not arrived when they might possibly give some great impulse to the national feeling, and perhaps lay the foundation of that complete industrial education which is essentially necessary for the interests of this country. Well, now, Sir, they had to consider what was the reason that in this country, where we should have supposed that there existed every cause which should have developed education of such a description, hitherto we had been so unsuccessful in any general and satisfactory measure; and they found, after a full consideration of the question, that it was to be attributed mainly to two causes—the want of system, and the want of space. I think it may truly he said, that to the latter cause the first may be attributed. We have a number of institutions scattered over this great metropolis, in none of which can the object of them 1023 be sufficiently or satisfactorily developed, owing to the scanty space at their command. At the same time, while they cannot satisfactorily fulfil the objects for which they have been instituted, the same want of space, the same necessity of being scattered in different places, by preventing juxtaposition, prevents any united effort by which their concentrated energies can be brought to bear upon the great ends in view. If you examine some of the principal institutions, both those founded by individuals and those supported by the nation, you find always one complaint. If you go to the Royal Society, for example, you find that there has been for many years a constant appeal for more accommodation, and additional means of developing the objects which they were instituted to fulfil If you go to the Royal Academy, it is a fact that during the four summer months—the time most favourable to the student, the very months most suited to painting and drawing—the schools are obliged to be closed, because they must then prepare for our annual exhibition of national art. I need not remind you of the State of the British Museum at this moment. I had the honour to-day of attending my noble Friend the First Minister of the Crown, and receiving a deputation on the subject, which laid before us facts which are probably notorious to many Gentlemen in this House, although, perhaps, they are not so much interested in them as I, who have recently listened to the narrative. The fact is, that at this moment there is not accommodation in the British Museum, which is a mass of collections on all subjects, for any one single branch of literature, of science, or of art. The library in the British Museum is now increasing at the rate of 16,000 volumes a year, and in less than thirty years a collection which now nearly amounts to 500,000 volumes will be doubled. The accommodation is exceedingly deficient, but, if we once cease in the increase of our national library, links will be wanting in the chain which can never be supplied. We have collections of art and of science at this moment stowed in cellars. It was necessary to establish the Schools of Design that were founded in this country in different places and under different roofs. If you look to our National Gallery, our collection of pictures is not nearly as rich as it might have been, because there is no proper receptacle for the contributions that would be voluntarily made. At this mo- 1024 ment the pictures of our national galleries are absolutely stowed in different buildings; and, instead of their being under the same roof, and forming a complete school of art—a collection which, presenting the styles of different ages and of different schools, might form the taste of the present age—you must walk from one street to another before you can he aware of the treasures which we actually possess. Well, Sir, the Royal Commissioners, feeling that the time had come when some effort should be made to concentrate all our scattered energies for the great object of the industrial advancement of the nation, were conscious that before they could establish that national arrangement in which we have been all along so deficient, it was absolutely necessary that they should overcome one great difficulty—that they should obtain sufficient space for their object—and they have with this view purchased, in a spot which I myself think eminently adapted for their object, a considerable portion of land. They have made considerable purchases very near that spot where the Crystal Palace originally rose, and in a place where it is not impossible that they may be able even materially to increase the amount of land. They have expended for this purpose money which remained as the surplus of the contributions to the Exhibition, and they applied to Her Majesty's Government to ascertain whether we would recommend to Parliament that the State should contribute an equal sum to that which they themselves expended for this object. The Committee will recollect that this was the last and the only opportunity of obtaining that, a want of which had hitherto rendered all our attempts to bring art and science to bear upon public education unavailing—I mean adequate space. If we lose the opportunity of purchasing this land, no other similar opportunity will again occur. In this rapidly increasing city there is no other spot where so large a space of land could be obtained. Well, if the House of Commons will consent to the proposition which the Government is about to make, and will agree to contribute an equal sum to that contributed by the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition—the joint contributions making 300,000l.—we shall then be in possession, of a space of land which will allow us at last to bring to bear that united influence of science and art, in all their forms and combinations, which we believe will afford to the people of this country a com- 1025 plete industrial education, which will raise oar productions in the scale of invention, and which will, more perhaps than other causes, tend to promote the improvement of the humbler classes. Unquestionably, if the Committee assent to this proposition, it will he expedient that we should use part of this spot for the erection of a National Gallery on a great and complete scale; but that is not by any means the only object which the Commissioners have set before them, if Parliament will assist them. They wish that there should be what I may style a great commercial museum, in which may be found specimens of all the raw produce of the world. They wish that that should be followed by a repertory in which every machine that the ingenuity of man has devised, or can devise—the machinery which is to act upon that raw produce—may be studied by the people, and that they may find in that study a stimulus to their invention. Next, when this machinery has acted upon the raw produce, we wish to show the results in some museum, in which every possible manufacture of man may be witnessed. The National Gallery, and the galleries of art and sculpture in every form, will afford a fourth division, where in the study of the appropriate and the beautiful, the sources of ornament and decoration may he furnished. If the Committee will assent to this proposition, we hope we may do even more than that which I have so slightly and so feebly sketched. Besides these four great divisions of raw material, of the machinery which man invents, of the manufacture which he creates, and of the art which inspires him, we hope we shall overcome a difficulty which has always been experienced in this country, and of which all our learned societies complain—I allude to the inability of those societies to confer together, and their want of juxtaposition. When we find a society like the Royal Society, so long a light of science in this country from the days of Newton, complaining that it has no means of fairly developing the uses of which it is susceptible—when we find that complaint not confined to the Royal Society, but proceeding from all the learned and scientific societies in the Kingdom—we feel that the opportunity may now be afforded to those societies of assembling together in the same spot, and we may look forward to the time when you will find the learning, the science, and the art of the country collected together in one place, and illumi- 1026 nating with their accumulated radiance not only the metropolis hut every part of the United Kingdom. We are not attempting to do this by any compulsory means. All we recommend is, that space shall be afforded and secured, because upon space system entirely depends. When space is afforded, we shall allow the natural feeling of the country and the bent of these societies fairly to develop themselves. By no forced means whatever, but by what we contemplate as a natural process and as a consequence of irresistible circumstances, we shall find in one spot all that can form, all that can enlighten, and all that can elevate the intellect of man, and from this focus we shall give to this country a stimulus which, acting upon the intelligence of the people, shall elevate their ideas, enlighten their minds, and give to their inventions a much higher and purer aim than they have yet achieved. I do not know that I need say more. Perhaps, indeed, I have said too much. I shall only be glad if I have not said it in vain. But I wish to make the Committee clearly understand what is the Vote to which I ask them to agree. It is not merely a gross sum of money which we are asking the Committee to vote for some particular object, but we ask you to unite with those who are prepared to act with you, and to display equal liberality. I have no doubt many hon. Gentlemen have read those Reports which, by command of Her Majesty, have been laid upon the table of this House. To me I confess there is something touching in the shillings of the million being the foundation in this country of a great movement which I cannot myself doubt will raise the character of the country and the education of the people. I think it is a legitimate appeal which I am making to the Committee, and I trust they will agree to the vote I am now about to place in the hands of Mr. Wilson Patten.
then read the Resolution, which was handed to him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which was to the following effect:—That a sum not exceeding 150,000l. shall be granted towards defraying in 1852–3 the purchase of land at Kensington Gore for a new National Gallery and institutions connected with science, in aid of the sum already contributed thereto by the Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851.
said, he believed that the people of this country had been imagining that they wore superior to those of all other countries in manufacturing art; 1027 but as they had lately had the advantage of collecting the productions of art and the manufactures of other nations, he doubted not they had seen that, unless they took care, they would soon be left behind in the race. He fully admitted, therefore, that it was most important that something should be done for promoting the industrial education of the people, and he thought so far they ought to be grateful to the Commissioners for their generous gift, and also for the plan they had sketched out; but that plan would require a great deal of consideration before it could be entirely adopted. One of the main proposals, as he understood, was, that all the scientific institutions, which now spent about 160,000l. a year for the maintenance of their different societies, should be brought together on this one spot. Now, the Report of the Commissioners, though it referred to the matter, did not show that these societies were in favour of this plan. He believed, indeed, that the societies themselves strongly objected to being removed to Kensington. They met together for discussion on various scientific subjects, and it would be very inconvenient to them if they were to be carried such a distance from town. If the House undertook this plan on the supposition that it would be supported by the money of the scientific societies, he thought they would find themselves greatly mistaken. As to the commercial museums and repertories of manufactures and art, he thought they would have to be built with public money, for it would be necessary not only to buy the ground, but afterwards to build the museums. The Committee was therefore asked to enter upon a very large undertaking, and he was anxious that they should not be misled upon this subject, but that they should be fully aware of the expense of the scheme. Now, with regard to the ground, no plans or maps had been laid upon the table to show whether it was intersected by any other property, because, if that were the case, and if there were any rights of way, it might be necessary to expend large sums in addition to the purchase-money, in buying those rights. He had asked the other day that a plan might be laid before the House, in order that they might possess information on this subject. Then, if the House of Commons granted the money that was required, in whom was the property to be vested? In the case of all purchases made by Parliament, one of two courses had been followed: either the ground had been pur- 1028 chased as a place of public recreation in the name of the Crown, and managed by a responsible Minister; or, if bought for purposes of public improvement, it had been purchased by Commissioners who, when they had carried out the improvements, sold the ground that was not wanted, and then laid the accounts before Parliament. The House was now asked, however, to pay 150,000l. for certain property, and he wished to know in whom it was to be vested, and who were to superintend the erection of buildings? Were the Royal Commissioners to have the sole management, or was it to be confided to a responsible Minister of the Crown? He had no objection to the general scheme if it could be properly earned out, but he thought some information ought to be afforded to the Committee upon the points he had mentioned.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that as one of the Royal Commissioners, he might perhaps be allowed to say a few words upon, this subject, though the information he could give would be very imperfect. The further carrying out of this plan must depend very much upon the Government, upon whose aid the Commissioners had relied in order to bring it to the perfection which he hoped it might attain. The Commissioners had been anxious, when they found the large suras in their hands, that some institution should be established which might commemorate the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was thought it would be unwise to allow the benefits of that Exhibition to be merely transitory, and that some attempt should be made to perpetuate the advantages which were derived from it. Nothing appeared more likely to effect that object than an institution for extending the advantages of science and art in the industry of the country. He thought no one could have inspected the Great Exhibition without being convinced of the truth of an observation in one of the Reports of the Commissioners, that in future there would be great and severe competition in the industry of the world, which would assume a more intellectual character. Now that House had been exceedingly willing to vote very large sums for scientific institutions, and more especially for the British Museum. He thought any one who had considered the large sums—he believed, on an average, about 40,000l. a year—which had been voted for the British Museum, must be satisfied that many years could not elapse without some decision being come to 1029 as to the great variety of objects which it was endeavoured to attain in that institution. They ought certainly to have a great national library in this country, and a great number of books were collected at the Museum; but he could not think that the space now allotted in that building to the numerous articles of science and natural history was likely long to suffice. Now, if they had other buildings upon a sufficient space of ground, room might be found in them for some of those objects to which he referred, and the Museum might be left more entirely for the purpose of a library. These were the general objects which the Commissioners had in view. He believed that if this ground were now to be purchased, and the House should afterwards decide that they would not sanction any further outlay, the same spirit which led to the subscription of such very large sums for promoting the Great Exhibition, would, he had little reason to doubt, prompt the public to find means which would provide for the erection of the requisite buildings. He thought the mechanical inventions and the specimens of manufactures that would be collected, and the chymical lectures that would be given, would be matters of so much interest to those connected with manufactures in all parts of the Kingdom, that they would think it of the greatest importance, that in the metropolis an establishment should be maintained where so much valuable information might be obtained. He knew that the Museum of Practical Geology, which was erected a few years ago, had been the means of affording most valuable information to many persons. He thought it was to be lamented, that hitherto they had not had some great centre of the kind suggested by the Commissioners, and he could not doubt that, though the plan was at present imperfect, the spirit of the nation and the disposition of that House—if the sum now asked for was voted—would lead to the establishment of such an institution. His noble Friend (Lord Seymour) had said he understood that some of the scientific societies would not be willing to go as far as Kensington to their evening meetings. That was very possible with regard to many of these associations, but the Commissioners left the matter quite optional with the societies themselves. Any one who was acquainted with the Treasury knew that frequent applications were made by many of these scientific societies for the use of public buildings in which to hold their meetings; 1030 and it had been stated, on behalf of some of them, that they found house-rents so very expensive that they would be obliged to dissolve the societies if their applications were refused. It must be evident that, in such cases, the societies would be very glad to have rooms allotted to them in the proposed buildings, where their meetings might take place. He could not but believe that this was the commencement of a great improvement. He was very glad to find that the Government had taken up the question, and he believed that, under the guidance of the illustrious Prince who was at the head of the Commission, they would be able to render very great services to the country, and materially to promote the progress of science and art.
said, he had heard the statement of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer with great satisfaction, and he agreed that it was most desirable that the Government should come forward to aid the energy and public spirit of the people. The House must, however, consider what were to be the results of what they were now asked to do. The noble Lord (Lord Seymour) had inquired who were to have the management of the scheme, and on whom the responsibility would rest? He (Mr. Hume was perfectly satisfied, that under the superintendence of the illustrious Prince who had been alluded to as presiding over the Commission, matters would go on well enough; hut the House must look at the future, and he asked them to consider what was the constitution of the Commission. The Crown alone possessed any power over it—that House had nothing to do with it—and before they invested public property in the hands of such a Commission they ought to look, not only to the management of the property, but also to the use which might eventually be made of it. He thought they ought also to consider whether, on the site which was recommended such an institution would afford all the advantages which it ought to afford. He had heard that it was intended to remove the National Gallery to Kensington, where, in his opinion, it would not be visited by one out of the ten persons who now went there. He doubted whether the pictures would not suffer more injury from the removal than they possibly could receive from the impurity of the atmosphere to which they were now subjected.
§ MR. H. DRUMMOND
Sir, I entirely agree in what has been said relative to the public advantage to be derived from 1031 giving every person in this country an opportunity of advancing himself in literature and science. I have no doubt but that the British Museum is an immense advantage to our people, but I have great doubts whether we are not now about to embark in a very crude speculation—a foolish attempt to force the population into a taste for the fine arts which nature has not given them. It sounds very liberal and noble to desire the education and progress of the national mind in those pursuits in which other nations excel; but I believe that, to endeavour to force this taste upon them, is just as absurd nationally as it would be individually, to attempt to make the same man a sculptor, a painter, a musician, a poet, an orator, a statesman, and a warrior. They all knew that was impossible, for there should be a division of labour in everything. It would be as difficult to make our people like the highest order of painting as to make the Italians like beef-steaks and porter. The late Exhibition has given us a very useful lesson. You never did exceed in the highest department even of manufactures. At no time have we done so. The other day I saw some specimens of working in iron, but even in this at no period were there in England such eminent workers in iron as abroad. I could give instances of the truth of what I am saying from the productions of many countries in Europe. Gentlemen who have travelled abroad know the beautiful ornaments of cathedrals called altar screens. In the northern countries these are made of stone, whilst in Spain, and in the Low Countries, they are always made of iron, and the makers of them are as well known as the eminent painters. In Spain the people will tell you who was the maker of such and such altar screens, just as in Venice they will tell you who was the painter of such and such a picture. They had never attained such a pitch of workmanship in iron in this country, Our cloth manufacture is at this moment inferior to that of other countries, and we are not able to keep up a supply even of patterns of ordinary articles of dress, but are obliged to go to France for them. Are you aware that not one of our great painters ever knew how to draw? Sir Joshua Reynolds never did. Sir Thomas Lawrence, it is notorious, did not know how to draw. I believe it would be exceedingly difficult to find any man in this country who could execute what is a common every-day work with French and Italians—namely, an out- 1032 line drawing of a great painting; yet you are now going to try to force a taste on our people. If you want to learn the success of our artists, you have only to walk into our lobbies and look at our frescoes—I you can there regale yourselves with specimens of English art. You are going to pay a very large sum of money for land; has the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated what he is going to do with the land when he gets it? If you are going to build upon it, let me ask where you will be able to find an architect? The new Houses of Parliament were to have been built for 700,000l; we have expended 2,500,000l. upon them, and this room, which is, or ought to be, the room par excellence—that room where the business of the nation is transacted—is not sufficient to hold us. First, it was impossible for us to hear one another; then we were alternately baked by heat and frozen by cold; we had either too much light or too little, and yet with all this experience of our architectural skill, we are about to embark in a wild scheme. I admit that in painting landscape scenery we excel all Europe, but in the fine arts generally we realise the old lines—That which with them is always gout,With us is only gout.
§ MR. EWART
said, he should support the proposal, which was the purchase of a piece of land, and if the Committee did not afterwards wish to use it, he had no doubt the land would fetch the price which they were now about to give for it. He was, however, at issue with the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) upon the question as to the taste of the English people for the fine arts. He contended that it was almost disgraceful to humanity that any nation, even blacks, should be devoid of taste for those great works, or with proper education unable to arrive at some degree of perfection in them. The plan of the Royal Commissioners was undoubtedly creditable in its conception, and would be energetically and successfully carried out.
§ MR. CRAVEN BERKELEY
expressed a hope that the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer would use his powerful influence to prevent the spoliation of the splendid works of art now going on in the National Gallery.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he could not consent to give his vote until he knew to whom the land would be conveyed who would have the control of the land, and for 1033 what purposes the land would be employed when they had purchased it. They were told the new National Gallery was to be erected on it, but he submitted there would be some question of the expediency of removing the National Gallery so far from the metropolis.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the proposition before the Committee was not to build any new National Gallery, or to raise any other edifice whatever. The proposition before the Committee was whether they should contribute an equal sum with that already voted by the Royal Commissioners for the purchase of some land, which was the only plot of land which, he believed, ever could be purchased in the immediate vicinity of this metropolis. Hereafter, if it should be submitted to that House that it was a convenient site, among other things, for the National Gallery, which must be removed somewhere or other, for at present there was not a single place where works of art could be deposited in safety, it would be for the House fairly to consider that question, and it would be entirely under their control. All he wished the Committee now to do was to agree to vote this sum of 150,000l., which he desired to see under the control of a Minister of the Crown, according to the language used in the Commissioners' Report. He had never proposed that the Committee should vote a sum of money to be applied out of the control of a Minister of the Crown responsible to that House. They had hoard some observations of hon. Members on the locality. It was the locality to which not only the population of this metropolis but the whole population of the United Kingdom resorted not two years ago, and he could not but believe that if the inducement were equal, the locality would be found convenient. The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) seemed to imagine this was an attempt to force a feeling for fine pictures among the general community; when the fact was, the reference to the National pictures was a very subordinate portion of the Commissioners' Report. The scheme they recommended was neither more nor less than to give an industrial education to the people, and to bring the influence of science, especially, and of art, upon their manufacturing production. No attempt would be made to infuse a dilettante spirit into the working classes, but an opportunity would be given them of fitting themselves for competing with their 1034 rivals throughout the world. It was impossible to conceive a plan more practical, more important, or more urgent as regarded the interests of the country. This land was, in fact, virtually purchased, because the Commissioners had entered upon a contract for its purchase with the confident expectation that Parliament and the country would assist them. When the purchase was fully completed, all further plans must receive the consideration of that House, and he was sure that House would not consent to raising any building's, or any expenditure, without a very rigid scrutiny into all the arrangements, and taking care that the whole talent of the country should be brought into public competition. He hoped the Committee would agree to this Vote. By doing so they would not agree to any expenditure beyond the purchase of valuable property, which hereafter might be dealt with with as Parliament should think fit.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, he thought that the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had not replied to the objection of his (Mr. V. Smith's) noble Friend (Lord Seymour. He thought the right hon. Gentleman should give an answer to the question that had been put by the noble Lord the Member for Totnes (Lord Seymour), whether it was proposed to raise buildings at the public expense upon the ground that had been purchased, and whether the ground was to be under the control of the Commissioners or of a Minister of the Crown.
§ MR. EWART
said, he thought the exact state of the case did not seem to be quite understood by some hon. Members. From the results of the Great Exhibition there remained 175,000l.; with the fund the Commissioners bought seventy acres of land, and they offered it to the nation on condition that seventy acres more were added to it.
said, they had not yet heard what was the quantity of ground to be purchased, or what portion was to be made over to the public.
said, he wished to know if a conditional contract had been entered into for all the land, because it was reported that the owner of a small portion of the land, four acres only, asked 70,000l. for it. and said nothing should induce him to take a farthing less.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that offer had been treated with the contempt it deserved. There was no conditional agreement whatever. Se- 1035 venty acres had been purchased by the surplus of the Exhibition, and the Commissioners offered to give the whole of their purchase to the public, provided the nation would assist them in the object they had in view. There could be no difficulty in making arrangements satisfactory to the House for its control and mangement, but he wished it to be distinctly understood that the whole of the land purchased would be given to the public.
said, he was satisfied with the assurance that the land should be under the control of a Minister of the Crown, but hoped the Vote would be postponed until the plan of the property was before the Committee.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, it would be very convenient if the Committee would now dispose of the Vote. The country would understand they were paying 150,000l. and receiving property worth 300,000l.
§ MR. MONTAGUE CHAMBERS
said, he was at a loss to know whether they were contributing to the purchase of seventy or one hundred and forty acres. He intended to vote against the proposition, because he knew not what was to be done with the money. He was exceedingly desirous that the Committee should know the purpose to which the land would be devoted, whether it was proposed to erect a building on it, or whether it was proposed to use the land for nothing. He apprehended this was only the commencement of claims for larger sums for the erection of buildings upon this piece of land. He would not concur in any vote where information was not given of the appropriation of the money.
§ SIR JOHN YOUNG
said, he believed the Committee would unanimously agree to the Vote, if a plan of the ground were laid upon the table. He hoped a plan would be laid on the table before the money was paid out of the Exchequer.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he could not sit still when he heard it stated that the Committee was almost unanimous upon the Vote about to be given. He had a strong opinion, which induced him to enter his protest against this Vote. But this was not on account of the various arguments that had been used that night. He did not agree in the low estimate that had been formed of the character of Englishmen by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, nor that the perfection of mechanical skill was due to the Govermental schools. He had a great faith 1036 in the individual energy of the country, and if they established central schools, they would lessen the individual exertion which had been the mainstay of the mechanical industry of the country. He had no objection to grants of money for buildings for the exhibition of our excellent works of art; but if it were intended to introduce central schools by which degrees were to be established, so that individuals out of the pale of these schools might be marked (he alluded to the centralising system in France, where the Ecole Polytechnique had been established, out of which there was no opportunity for any individual, however great his merit), he felt bound to raise his voice the moment the question was introduced. It might be said, that this was only the first Vote; but this first Vote might introduce other Votes which would produce the consequences he dreaded. He would not be a party even to the first step in this direction.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to make some answer to the statement that had been made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Locke). If anything like the system that prevailed in France were to be the result of this Vote, he thought there was great danger in agreeing to it without further information.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that hon. Gentleman (Mr. Locke) had made a startling assertion, for which there was not the slightest foundation, to raise an argument against this Vote. He could assure the hon. Gentleman he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had heard, for the first time, the statement respecting this scheme, and he could say with perfect confidence that it was an assertion for which there was not the slightest imaginable foundation.
§ Vote agreed to.