HC Deb 21 April 1856 vol 141 cc1344-74

House in Committee of Supply; Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.

(1.) £60,000, British Museum.


in moving the Vote for the salaries and expenses of the British Museum establishment, said, that the sum proposed this year was somewhat larger than that taken last year. After rendering distinguished services to the Museum for fifty-six years, as Chief Librarian, Sir Henry Ellis had retired on the allowance of £1,200 a year, that sum being the full amount of his salary, to which his services had so justly entitled him. There had been a determination arrived at by the Trustees, at the suggestion of Government, to appoint a superintendent of natural history; and it was probable that the person nominated, whose name was well known in this country, would fill his office in a manner which would redound to the benefit of the Museum itself and the public generally. For some years past it had been matter of observation that the departments of natural history and science had not received the attention which ought to have been paid to them; and he felt assured that the gentleman to whom he had alluded would endeavour so to arrange those departments as that they should be of great use, not only to the natives of this country, but to foreigners. It was likewise thought necessary that there should be a Keeper of Minerals. A gentleman had therefore been appointed, who had paid particular attention to the subject of mineralogy, and to that gentleman a salary of £500 a year had been allotted. There was also an increase of £270 for the purchase of printed books, and there likewise was to be an increase of £500 for the purchase of manuscripts. There had been some Arabic manuscripts of great interest collected, of which he had the particulars, but which he would not trouble the Committee with. There was also a sum of £175 for bookbinding; £100 for reparations in the natural history department; and £500 for fixing, &c. the Assyrian antiquities which had lately arrived in this country. Public attention had lately been drawn to these antiquities, and it was desirable that access should be had to them. He believed that his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) intended to call the attention of the Committee to the subject of patronage in connection with the Museum, and also to the Report of the Commission which had sat some years ago. Without wishing to anticipate his hon. Friend, he might state that it had been thought that a large body was not the fittest governing body; and the Commission (at the head of whom had been the present Duke of Somerset) proposed that a small number of persons should form the governing body of the institution. It was proposed also that the office of principal librarian should be abolished; but the Government in the first instance declined to act until the Trustees had considered the proposition. The Trustees took this recommendation into consideration, and the late Sir Robert Peel advised that they should not recommend the Government to adopt the Report of the Commission; but that a body much less numerous should be selected, to be called the "Standing Committee," and that to that Committee should be entrusted the general direction of the Museum. The then existing offices were to be maintained precisely as they were; but practical changes were to be introduced. That plan was adopted, and on the retirement of Sir Henry Ellis it was stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it was not intended that any alteration should be made. The Trustees, therefore, concluded that the Act of Parliament was not to be altered, and the consequence was that the principal Trustees named a successor to Sir Henry Ellis. Those principal Trustees were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and the Speaker of the House of Commons. The arrangement of Sir Robert Peel was considered satisfactory. The officers of the Museum acted with great zeal, and there had been no reason to complain of the general management of the Museum. With regard to the number of persons who had frequented the Museum during the past year, there certainly had been a falling off, but that falling off might be ascribed to accidental circumstances, and it was likely that next next year the attendance might be more numerous. With respect to readers, about 1,100 volumes a day had been consulted by those visiting the libraries, and it was undoubted that the library of the Museum had proved of very great use to students generally. There were other general questions affecting the Museum, into which he did not propose now to enter. All that the Trustees could do was to carry on their management according to the mode at present adopted, and at the same time act upon any improvements which could be suggested. Last year an order was given that after a certain hour on the afternoon of Saturday, the public should be admitted for three or four hours. About 3,000 or 4,000 persons had attended; but Saturday was not a day on which the working classes were likely to attend, and he did not know that any great benefit had accrued from the alteration. But the Trustees intended to persevere in that order during the present year; and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the Museum would be open as usual.


said, that the reason which principally induced him to call the attention of the Committee to this subject was the fact that the Report of the Commission of 1850 had remained almost unnoticed. Now that Commission was a continuation of the Committee of 1835, which had separated without making a Report. It appeared to him that the management of the Museum had been by no means satisfactory. If the Trustees were all connected with literature, science, or the arts, it might be inferred that a certain number would devote their attention to that part of the institution with which their sympathies were in accordance. The number of Trustees rendered them unfit to be the governing body of a great establishment, and therefore, as early, he believed, as 1755, a Standing Committee was appointed. But the main object of the Standing Committee was neutralised by the practice of giving votes to all other Trustees who chose to attend, and the Commission found that the government of the Museum really depended on the casual attendance of Trustees when matters were considered in which they happened to take an interest. The Commissioners, although differing in points of detail, were agreed as to the remedy. They thought it, above all things, expedient to substitute for the fluctuating and casual body of attending Trustees a standing Executive Council, composed of men really responsible for the management of the Museum. The Commissioners, therefore, reported— The Executive Council, as we have now proposed it, carries with it, in the opinion of all of us, this great and leading advantage, without attaining which all other reforms in the constitution of the Museum are, in the view of your Commissioners, comparatively of little consequence—that it commits the ordinary and daily recurring business of the Museum to an Executive Council consisting of a number such as must leave upon each and all of them individual responsibility, insure knowledge and careful consideration of the business of the Museum in its whole course, and prevent that change of views and uncertainty of decision which cannot but be the consequence of a fluctuating Board. There was some difference of opinion as to the composition of that Executive Council. A considerable majority of the Commissioners were in favour of recommending that the Museum should be divided into two great departments—one for taking into consideration all matters connected with literature—the other for taking into consideration all matters connected with science; that at the head of each department a person distinguished for attainments in literature or in science, according to the department over which he would have to preside, should be nominated by the Crown, and liberally remunerated for his services; that above them should be appointed a Chairman, of great consideration and weight in the country, to whom reference might be made in difficult cases with regard to the management of the Museum; and that, with these two paid and one unpaid officers, should be combined four Trustees, to be elected annually. The minority of the Commissioners were of opinion that it was advisible not to divide the Museum in that distinct manner, but to retain the departments much as they were. That division of opinion was very unimportant, as the Commissioners were all agreed that the governing body should be constituted of only a few persons, to whom the public and the House might look as the body responsible for the management of the Museum. When the Commission had reported the Trustees met, and a real Standing Committee was formed, consisting of the three principal Trustees—the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, and fifteen other Gentlemen. It was then clearly understood that they were to form the governing body of the Museum, and that they alone were to vote upon matters connected with the management of the Museum for the year for which they were elected. But he could not say that the Standing Committee realised all the objects of the Executive Committee recommended by the Commissioners. The Standing Committee was composed of Gentlemen filling high political positions, who were engaged in other and important occupations. The noble Lord who moved the Vote, not happening to be engaged at present in public affairs, was the last addition, but it was not to be supposed that the noble Lord would devote himself wholly to the objects of the Museum; and he would rather have a Committee composed of persons giving their continuous attention to the affairs of the Museum than accept the services even of the noble Lord. The Report of the Commission had certainly not received the attention it deserved either from succeeding Governments or from that House. The noble Lord who issued the Commission was bound, in his opinion, to have brought in a Bill to carry out its objects, unless he was satisfied that they were sufficiently attained by the appointment of the Standing Committee. The Trustees, however, appeared to have treated that Report with more respect, for they had gradually absorbed into their body the more prominent Members of the Commission, and he could not help thinking that that fact had something to do with the indisposition of those Gentlemen to press for the alterations which they themselves, in their Report, had declared to be necessary. The present government of the Museum was anything but satisfactory, and Her Majesty's Government would do well to consider the necessity, or at least the advisability, of establishing the government the Museum on a larger and more permanent basis. The Commission had recommended that there should be on the Executive Council two gentlemen to represent the two departments of science and literature; but the Standing Committee had allowed that recommendation to remain entirely unheeded. On the question of patronage, the Commission had recommended that the Executive Committee should make all the appointments; but that, as an additional security for the satisfactory execution of that trust, they should be subjected to the approval of the Secretary of State. That recommendation had not been carried out, and the whole patronage of the establishment, from the principal librarian to the lowest housemaid, was vested in the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and the Speaker of the House of Commons. Those distinguished personages, he contended, could not be regarded as the best depositaries of this power. Their time was so fully taken up, their public duties were so numerous and so important, that they could not possibly have any opportunity of exercising their own discretion with regard to those appointments. They could have no means of obtaining any primary knowledge of the persons whom they appointed, and they must, therefore, necessarily trust to the recommendation of others. There ought, therefore, to be some alteration in these respects. By the present constitution the whole internal management of the Museum was conducted by one officer, who was called the principal librarian, and who was at the head of the establishment under the Trustees. The library was managed by an officer called the Keeper of the printed Books. Formerly there was an officer called the Secretary to the Museum, but that officer had been much criticised by the Commission, and the office had since been abolished. Sir Henry Ellis had until lately held the office of principal librarian, and Mr. Panizzi had managed the affairs of the library for a long period with great ability, and with universal approbation. On the resignation of Sir Henry Ellis Mr. Panizzi was appointed principal librarian. His (Mr. M. Milnes's) experience of that House had taught him that no one ever suffered from having his name mentioned there. There was always a generous feeling displayed in personal questions which entirely prevented any prejudice to the individuals interested. Nothing but a strong sense of public duty would have led him to mention the name of any person, last of all a foreigner; for he had ever advocated the principle, that honest and able men, who, from the political circumstances of their own countries, had been compelled to take refuge here, should not merely enjoy the bare right of an asylum, but should possess opportunities of exercising their talents and abilities. He was always desirous that men in such a position should be received in this country as those Protestants who took refuge here after the revocation of the edict of Nantes were received, and that they should have the opportunity of rendering their names as honoured as were those of Lefevre and Labouchere. He must say, however, that the recent exercise of patronage on the part of the Trustees of the British Museum had been regarded by the literary men of this country with a feeling which he could not characterise otherwise than as a feeling of indignation. There were in this Empire so few positions of public trust to which literary men of ability and distinction could aspire, that he did not think there was anything ungenerous in the feeling which existed among that class—that when the chief position in the great library and museum of the country became vacant the appointment should have been bestowed upon a member of their own body, and not upon a gentleman who was a foreigner. The other day he heard the Due de Broglie refer, at the French Academy, to those happy times in France when a free trade existed between politics and literature, but in this country they were in the habit of dividing into two separate classes men of thought and men of action, and it was not easy for any literary man to found for himself such a position of public usefulness and honour as would be fairly afforded in the situation of chief librarian of the British Museum. If he were told that the Trustees knew of no other person so well qualified as Mr. Panizzi for the position to which he had been appointed, he would say that that fact was in itself the strongest condemnation of the system upon which the Museum was now governed, for it showed that the Trustees were not intimate with the literary men of this country, that they knew nothing of their struggles, difficulties, and resources, and that thus living apart from literary men they were not the fittest persons to be entrusted with the management of such an institution. If it was said that the appointment of Mr. Panizzi was a proper one, because that gentleman had been mainly instrumental in improving and arranging the library of the Museum, he would ask why Mr. Panizzi should have been removed from a position in which his services had been so useful and placed at the head of the whole establishment? He must say, that he thought those who placed Mr. Panizzi in a position the duties of which could only be adequately discharged by a person possessing the entire confidence of the literary and scientific men of this country had not rendered the best service either to Mr. Panizzi himself or to the Museum. It could not be expected that literary men would repose the same confidence in a foreigner which they would place in a distinguished countryman of their own, and he doubted whether Mr. Panizzi would be able to conduct the affairs of the Museum with the efficiency which would have been ensured by the appointment of a literary man who was a native of this country. He would suggest whether, when the Government set about reforming the Museum, some arrangement might not be made which would leave Mr. Panizzi at the head of the literary department, which would give Professor Owen the superintendence of the scientific department, and which would place over those gentlemen, as the President of the institution, a man whose character and attainments fitted him for such a position? He (Mr. M. Milnes) thought the Returns which had been laid before the Committee showed that the Museum was not in a satisfactory state. He found that the number of visits made to the reading-room was, in 1850, 78,533; in 1851, 78,211; in 1852, 1853, and 1854, there was a progressive diminution; and in 1855, the number had fallen to 53,567. The number of visits made by artists and students to the galleries of sculpture was, in 1852, 6,983; in 1854, 3,652; and, in 1855, 3,594. The number of visits made to the print-room was, in 1851, 3,867; and, in 1855, 2,868. There was also a striking diminution in the number of the general public who visited the Museum. In 1850 the number was 1,098,863; in 1851, 2,527,216; in 1852, 507,973; in 1853, 661,113; in 1854, 459,262; and, in 1855, 334,089. If the establishment had been conducted with greater energy, as it would have been under such an Executive Council as he now proposed, such a diminution would, in his opinion, not have taken place. He begged to apologise to the Committee for detaining them so long upon this subject; but, in his opinion, no encouragement ought to be given to the notion propagated by some of the Trustees, that it was impossible to find in this country a literary man fitted to be at the head of such an establishment, and therefore he had taken the liberty to address these observations to the Committee. It was the wish of all that the Museum should assume even larger proportions than those to which it had already attained, and in that prospect it was of the highest importance that a distinction should be made between the literary and scientific departments. He hoped the time would come when all the resources of the establishment would be devoted to the purposes of a great national library—when the works of art would be combined with a National Gallery worthy of the name, and when the objects of natural history would be handed over to the Zoological Gardens. Hence a division of the literary and scientific departments seemed to him advisable, both for the present good administration of the Museum and for its future management; and he was sure that if the Government turned its attention to the subject, and, having appointed a head of the scientific department in the person of Professor Owen, should perform the same good office for the literary department, it would put the country in possession of an establishment superior to every other of the kind in Europe.


Sir, I am unwilling to trespass upon the attention of the Committee even for a few moments, but I trust that, after the allusions which have been so pointedly made to the conduct of my colleagues and myself, with respect to the appointment of Mr. Panizzi, the Committee will permit me to make one or two remarks in reply. I am not going to discuss with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down what shall be the future management of the British Museum. He has very fairly stated the principal recommendations of the Commissioners, of whom he was himself one, who sat in 1850, to inquire into the management of the Museum; and the noble Lord the Member for the City of London has also fairly stated the steps which have been taken by the Trustees of the British Museum to carry out those recommendations in some very essential particulars. But it is my duty to explain by what considerations the principal trustees were actuated in the selection of Mr. Panizzi for the office of principal librarian in the British Museum. The Committee will recollect that the Act of Parliament requires that when a vacancy occurs in that office the principal trustees shall select two names to be forwarded to the Secretary of State, and that those two names shall be submitted to the Crown with the view of one being chosen for the office. For my own part, I am quite prepared—and so, I am sure, are all my colleagues—to accept the responsibility of selecting Mr. Panizzi, because I do not believe a better choice could have been made. The hon. Gentleman has alluded to the fact of Mr. Panizzi being a foreigner; but that has been no unusual case in the British Museum. Since its formation in 1776 there have been five persons appointed principal librarians prior to Mr. Panizzi. Of those five, two were foreigners; one, Mr. Maty, a native of Holland, and the other, Mr. Planta, a native of Switzerland. The trustees, therefore, were quite justified by precedent in selecting a foreigner; at all events, no objection can be made to their appointment on that score. Again, we found that the invariable rule in the appointment of the principal librarian had been to select some officer of the establishment for that post; and the Committee will at once see how essential it is for the good conduct of an institution like the British Museum that deserving officers should be rewarded with promotion. The Committee may well suppose that I have not had it in my power to devote that time and attention which I ought to the interests of the Museum; but, from what I have myself seen of Mr. Panizzi during my connection with that institution, I must say that I think he is possessed of great talents, of great honesty of purpose, and of remarkable administrative ability—all qualities which are essential to a person who is to be the chief officer of such an establishment. I should be sorry, however, to ask the Committee to rely upon my testimony alone, and, with their permission, I will read extracts from three letters which I received, in common with my colleagues, with regard to Mr. Panizzi, before we made the selection. The first is from a gentleman well known to many Members of this House, now one of the canons of Westminster, whose testimony is peculiarly valuable, not only because he is a man of high character and attainments, but also because he was upon the establishment of the British Museum for thirteen years. The Rev. W. Cureton says:— You must naturally be most anxious that the vacant office of principal librarian should be filled by the most efficient person, who is best qualified to discharge its duties for the advantage of the public. You are doubtless fully aware of the long and valuable services of Mr. Panizzi, of his great talents, his extensive knowledge, his ardent zeal and untiring energies, which have been most faithfully exerted during a quarter of a century for the benefit of the British Museum. There is, however, one point respecting which you may not have had the means of being so fully informed, but which the constant observation of nearly twenty years has made me well acquainted with—I mean Mr. Panizzi's great administrative powers and capacity of governing a large body of subordinate persons. I have never known any one in authority so strict and precise in maintaining order and discipline, so rigid and exact in requiring the full amount of duties to be performed, who at the same time had the singular happiness of gaining the respect and esteem, and securing the warm attachment and affection of all those placed under his authority. From my own experience of thirteen years' service in the British Museum, I am sure that no qualification is more essential to insure a due performance of public service in such an establishment, than this of which I have last spoken. The next letter, with which I shall trouble the Committee, is from a gentleman who has for many years devoted much time and attention to the British Museum, who filled for many years an important office under the Crown, and who is well known to many Members of this House. I refer to Mr. William R. Hamilton, one of those trustees who are spoken of in the Report of the Commissioners, as having evinced the deepest interest in the advancement and success of the establishment; and I may add that Mr. Hamilton by his constant attendance to the business of the Museum, fully deserves the commendations bestowed upon him. Mr. Hamilton says:— You will, of course, have heard that there is likely to be very soon an important change in the staff of the British Museum; Sir Henry Ellis, the principal librarian, having, after a very long service, given in his resignation: and the choice of one of two persons named by the principal trustees will fall to the Crown. I know that it is hardly necessary to trouble you on this subject, but I cannot refrain from stating it as my earnest conviction, that the name of Mr. Panizzi, now Keeper of the Printed Books' Department, ought on every account to be one of the two submitted to the Queen, and I fervently hope that he may be so selected. There can be no doubt whatever—and I believe that this is the universal opinion among my co-trustees—that, of all the officers now engaged in the service of the Museum, Mr. Panizzi is by far the most capable on every imaginable ground to fulfil efficiently the duties of this situation. To a perfect acquaintance with the general duties of all the different departments, great experience in the details of the management of the establishment, he adds in a peculiar degree great knowledge of mankind, a most happy mode of extracting from all under him the greatest amount of efficient service, and of exacting the strictest regularity of attendance, great impartiality, a deep sense of moral justice, and an honest devotion of his whole time to the public service. He has also been mainly instrumental in introducing very many of the improvements, by which the service of the Museum has been greatly benefited. He is also most liberal in his views of extending its benefits to the largest number of the public, on the most liberal and safe terms. He must, therefore, be thought fully entitled to the promotion contemplated. The only other letter with which I will trouble the Committee is from a nobleman, who was formerly a Member of this House, whose great talents and eloquence must still live in their recollection, and who enjoys the respect and esteem of all who have the honour of his acquaintance. I refer to the Earl of Ellesmere, whose testimony is entitled to the greatest confidence, because he was the Chairman of the Commission, that inquired into the conduct and management of the Museum. His Lordship says— I understand that the subject of the selection of a successor to Sir Henry Ellis at the British Museum is now under your consideration. I am entirely ignorant of what claims may be before you for that important succession, and should not think myself warranted by the experience acquired in the chair of the Commission of Inquiry to obtrude an opinion on their relative merits. That experience, however, I think may justly be expressed in saying this much, that should your choice fall on Mr. Panizzi I should be prepared to speak of that decision as one, in my opinion, than which no better could be made for the interests of the public service and for those of the subordinate officers of the Museum. The latter are, in my opinion, an interesting class of men, and I have reason to believe that Mr. Panizzi, in his dealings with those hitherto under his authority, has combined consideration and benevolence with great energy in the exaction of duty. I will not trouble the Committee with any more letters on this subject; but I will venture to refer to a passage which appears in the Report of the Commissioners, with respect to the state of the library. In speaking of that department, the Commissioners say, that among the most magnificent establishments in Europe, there is no great national library which affords so large a measure of accommodation to all classes of readers as the library of the British Museum under the existing management; and in support of that statement they quote the testimony of two American gentlemen who visited Europe for literary purposes, and one of them with the special view of inquiring into the management of libraries. We have, therefore, the testimony of the Commissioners themselves, as to the management of the department over which Mr. Panizzi presided; and I have read the testimony of three persons abundantly qualified to judge, all concurring in expressing a high appreciation of Mr. Panizzi. Under these circumstances, we did not feel the slightest hesitation in selecting that gentleman, as one of those to be submitted to the nomination of the Crown for the office of chief librarian. With regard to the patronage of the Museum, I can assure my hon. Friend, both for my colleagues and myself, that we should not have the slightest objection to be relieved from the trouble and inconvenience necessarily attending its distribution. But so long as we retain it, I hope that we shall exert ourselves, as we have hitherto done, to the best of our power, to promote the public interests, and by such appointments, as that of Mr. Panizzi, to secure the future good government of the establishment.


said, he thought that upon the whole the Committee was indebted to his hon. Friend (Mr. Milnes) for the observations he had made. He also thought that there could be scarcely any hesitation on the part of any hon. Gentleman in admitting that there had been something radically wrong in the government of the British Museum. He was himself inclined to agree with the Report of the Commissioners, for it was impossible that a government constituted like the present governing body of the Museum, consisting of some trustees appointed ex officio, others as representatives of certain families, and others forming a Standing Committee, could properly administer its affairs. In his opinion it was most essential that the heads of departments should have the means of continually communicating with the trustess; and that at present they had not got. Before the appointment of Mr. Panizzi to the post of chief librarian, he had been opposed to that appointment, but it appeared that the Government had no choice in the matter, but were called upon to appoint a librarian. Now, the office of chief librarian and secretary to the trustees was an office which required very great and at the same time very peculiar qualifications, and it was no reflection upon the literary men of this country to say that perhaps no man was so well fitted to fill that office as Mr. Panizzi. He was, therefore, very much astonished to hear his hon. Friend object to Mr. Panizzi on the ground of his being a foreigner, because that was an objection which ought not to come from that, the Liberal, side of the House. Did the hon. Gentleman not remember what had happened on the Continent? Why, in France the Department of Public Instruction had been confided to an eminent Italian, and, as he understood, the office of librarian at the Vatican had been offered to Cardinal Wiseman. [Mr. MILNES: No, no!] The hon. Gentleman appeared to think that an English literary man could not expect from Mr. Panizzi due respect; but he could tell the Committee an incident which had occurred, and which might lead them to think differently, and that was, that on one occasion, during the absence of that gentleman, the persons employed in his department subscribed for the purpose of having a bust of him. Mr. Pannizzi was in one respect placed in a very awkward position. He was looked upon as the responsible person, and was, in fact, responsible for acts which he did not perform. As to the management of the British Museum, there was no doubt that the greatest errors had been committed. First, as regarded the building itself, if one person had been responsible, such a building would never have been erected. Why, half the space was positively thrown away for want of light, and the edifice had been constructed on such a plan that it could not be enlarged, and the result had been, that in order to procure room for the printed books it had been necessary to build upon the courtyard and thus shut out both light and air, so necessary to an establishment of that description. Then, again, as to the manner in which collections were made. The Commissioners advised a collection of British antiquities, and two or three years ago the collection of Mr. Fawcett might have been procured for the Museum; but, no, the trustees were mostly men possessing great information connected with the classics, and could not appreciate a collection of "Saxon rubbish." They had expended on the building upwards of £70,000, while only £340,000 had been expended on the collections, and were now called upon to expend a still greater sum for building purposes, though he was sure that for a larger collection half the money, properly expended, would have been sufficient. Some reforms, however, were necessary in the management of the British Museum, and if his hon. Friend (Mr. M. Milnes) would bring forward a Motion on the subject next year, he (Mr. Layard) should be prepared to support him. There was no place to be compared with the British Museum in its resources, but there was no place worse managed. Everything was higgledy-piggledy—there was no series. There wanted more room to expand the specimens over a period of thousands of years. What was the consequence to those whom they wished to instruct? They took the specimen of a good age, and then that of a bad one. Centuries were mingled. This the learned could understand and appreciate, but the populace could not. If they saw a good and a bad object in juxtaposition, they conceived them to be both alike. He, therefore, hoped that some change would take place in the arrangement of the Museum. He quite agreed with his hon. Friend that it was impossible they could go on with the present building. Every year fresh objects of art and antiquities were coming in, and unless some different system were adopted it would be impossible to accomplish the object for which the Museum was maintained. He held in his hand a pamphlet written by Mr. Fergusson, showing how the library and works of art might be arranged, and making other suggestions worthy of consideration. He regarded the present subject as an important part connected with the question of national education, and he trusted the Government would give it their earliest and most serious attention. With regard to the numbers attending the British Museum he believed they were gradually falling off. There was no system to guide them; the people knew not for what purpose they went there; and thus they were without any motive for going again. But, if they had a British Museum well arranged, they would have a most useful institution of a national character.


said, it had always appeared to him that the British Museum was too much crammed; and he thought that, once for all, they should take a large view of the subject, and consider whether it would not be advisable to separate the collections—the mineral, the artistic, and the archaiological collections, by sending some of them to a new National Gallery. In the Committee of 1853 that particular subject was brought under consideration, and a Resolution which was moved by himself was passed with respect to it. Sooner or later the House would have to consider what they would have to do with the National Gallery; and when the library increased at the rate of 16,000 volumes a year, he thought the only conclusion they could arrive at would be to have it separate from all other objects of the Museum.


said, that the library was one of the most extraordinary and valuable in the world. But he must complain of the great difficulty of obtaining the use of its treasure because of the defective arrangements as to the catalogue. At present it was necessary to consult five catalogues before a person could find out whether a book was or was not on the shelves at all. He thought it most desirable that a complete catalogue should be formed, and that it should also be printed; that if printed it would be a guide book for all other libraries in England, and save the enormous work of the time of the student now occupied in hunting for a book in a series of catalogues, without classification and with but little system. In France considerable progress had been made with a classed catalogue under the active administration of M. Taschereau, who had published the first volume in quarto of the Catalogue of the Bibliothèque Impériale, in December, 1854, and two more in the year 1855: by his system he had increased the number of titles of books written out from fifty in each day to 750. This library contained probably 700,000 volumes, the British Museum about 600,000, but though numerically less, it was of far greater value. George the Third's collection consisted of 63,000 volumes, but cost £130,000, and the Grenville Collection, placed at the disposal of the Trustees in 1846, cost its owner £60,000; two cases of the MSS. alone were estimated as worth £250,000, but in an historical and literary point of view the collection was beyond all price. He thought, too, that steps should be taken to increase the number of days on which the Museum should be open. During the best part of three days in every week the Museum was closed to the public. The excuse was, that it was necessary for the attendance of students. But he did not think that since the establishment of schools of design, it was any longer so. From a Return he had procured, with respect to the week before last, it appeared that the number of visitors, on the closed days, did not exceed twenty; and, on Saturday, when they might have attended, there were none present. He should be glad to be informed when the new catalogue and the new reading-room were likely to be completed.


said, the principal recommendation of the Commissiom of 1850 was, that the offices of librarian and secretary should be remodelled, and that recommendation was shortly afterwards carried into effect by the abolition of the office of secretary and the consolidation of the duties with that of principal librarian. Sir Henry Ellis performed the duties of principal librarian and secretary for many years, and it was to that combined office that Mr. Panizzi had, as he believed with excellent judgment, been recently appointed. The Commissioners further proceeded to recommend the appointment of a responsible Executive Council, but they did not agree as to the manner in which that Council should be constituted; and, therefore, that part of the Report merely suggested an improvement, without pointing out the means by which it was to be carried into effect. But soon after the Report of the Commissioners was presented, Sir Robert Peel, one of the trustees, took the matter into consideration, and framed a series of regulations, which he submitted to his colleagues, by which he proposed to constitute a Standing Committee selected from the general body of the Trustees. The objection of the Commissioners being to the large number of Trustees and the irregularity of attendance, that scheme was supposed to carry into effect substantially those recommendations. He believed that in practice it had been found most successful, that the government of the Museum now worked well, and that there was no ground for bringing in a Bill to alter the constitution of the Museum as established by the Act of George II. There was another recommendation made by the Commissioners with respect to the superintendence of the department of natural history. They thought that some more general superintendence of the department of natural history, under different heads, might be introduced. That recommendation had received the attention of Her Majesty's present Government. When a change took place, in consequence of the recent retirement of Sir Henry Ellis, the expediency of appointing a person to superintend the joint department of natural history and science was brought under the attention of the Trustees. The Trustees thought such an arrangement would introduce an improvement into the management of the Museum, and they applied to the Treasury to sanction the salary of a superintendent of that department. The Government had sanctioned a salary to the extent of £800 a year, and it was the belief of the Government that the selection of the Trustees would fall on Professor Owen, whose name was a sufficient guarantee that the department would be ably superintended. There did not appear to him to be sufficient reason at present for adopting the advice of his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes), and laying before the House a Bill to alter the constitution of the British Museum. The hon. Member for Aylesbury had proposed that a separate building should be provided for each of the three departments—namely, manuscripts and printed books, natural history, and objects of art, into which the Museum is divided. The British Museum was of great magnitude, having cost between £700,000 and £800,000, and large additions had, from time to time, been made to it. One of those additions was at this moment in progress. In consequence of the great augmentation of the library a central hall was in course of erection, which would add materially to the accommodation for printed books, and also for reading these books. If the suggestion of the hon. Member for Aylesbury, of dividing the British Museum into three departments—for books, natural history, and works of art—were adopted, it would be necessary to expend large sums of money in the erection of new buildings. The plan offered some recommendations, but could only be carried into effect at an enormous sacrifice of money, which the present state of the Museum did not justify; for it was calculated that the library, with the new building, was sufficiently large to hold the annual additions for another century. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) had asked when the new reading-room would be ready. He would beg to inform the hon. Member that it was expected to be completed in about ten months from the present time. The hon. Member for Bath also asked what progress had been made with the catalogue. He understood that when the Commission sat, a promise was made that the catalogue should be completed in 1860. Progress was regularly made with it, and he knew no reason to doubt that it would be completed at the time promised. With respect to the question of printing the catalogue, the conclusion which the Commissioners arrived at was, that upon the whole the advantages of printing the catalogue would scarely be commensurate with the expense it would entail.


said, there was no doubt that the constitution of the British Museum was open to many objections which occasioned considerable inconvenience, but those objections, and that inconvenience, might be found in the origin of the institution. Our celebrated Museum had been originally the Museum of a virtuoso; Sir Hans Sloane collected manuscripts, dry insects, stuffed birds, old armour. Notwithstanding the efforts made and the resources at our command, the necessary consequence of the original idea was to be traced in our national collection at the present day. To that cause was to be attributed the disadvantages which had been pointed out. For a long time he had been of opinion that no satisfactory solution of the difficulties, which he thought every year increased, would be found except in the legitimate division of the great subjects which were collected in that building. Literature, Science, Art, all deserved a separate palace, and he was convinced that, sooner or later, the force of circumstances would render that division necessary. With regard to literature the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) had indulged in one of those eulogiums which were scarcely to be supported. Our collection of printed books and manuscripts was no doubt important and valuable, but in second-rate German capitals were to be found public libraries, not only more valuable with regard to the character of the works, but even more considerable with respect to their number. No one wished to depreciate the importance of our national library, but it should not for a moment be supposed we were in possession of a library which could not be improved in value, or increased in amount. If we did not possess such a library, at least we might aspire to it. Therefore, if this division ever took place, he very much doubted whether the present buildings would be too considerable for the printed books and manuscripts, with the medals and archaiological collections which he thought ought to accompany the books and manuscripts. By the recent purchase of land by the Royal Commission of 1851 an opportunity was now offered of erecting a temple for our collections of pictures and statues which would not be unworthy of this country. The appointment of Professor Owen to the scientific department of the Museum, was one which would be hailed with general approbation. The progress of scientific discoveries and the growing taste for scientific pursuits would render it absolutely necessary that all our scientific collections should be assembled together under one head. He should not, perhaps, have risen to address the Committee upon the present occasion, if he had not felt it his duty to express his great regret that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) should have found it convenient, in commenting on the constitution of the Museum, to indulge in an attack on Mr. Panizzi, more especially as it turned out that the sum and substance of the charge which he had to make against that gentleman was, that he was a foreigner. Strange to say, the hon. Gentleman immediately followed up that grave accusation by a very elaborate argument to prove that he himself did not disapprove of foreigners being employed in Her Majesty's service, though not in all positions. A foreigner, according to the hon. Gentleman, might be second in command, but not Commander in Chief. No one denied, least of all the hon. Gentleman himself, who was a Member of the Commission which had so conclusively established the character of Mr. Panizzi as keeper of the printed books, that, for the space of some twenty or twenty-five years, that Gentleman had admirably discharged the duties of his office. But, said the hon. Gentleman, he ought not to have been made principal librarian, for that was an office which ought to be conferred on some literary Gentleman who was an Englishman. He could have understood the hon. Gentleman had he argued that only a literary man of native growth should be appointed to the office of keeper of the printed books. That was an office which required great literary knowledge. It required an acquaintance with the literature of all nations, and accomplishments which literary men only possessed. But the hon. Member himself admitted Mr. Panizzi's perfect fitness for that office, and that he had discharged its duties in such a way as to entitle him to universal approbation. It so happened that the office which he now held was one to which his mere literary character could not urge such claims as it could have urged upon the office which he had just relinquished. The office of principal librarian was not one which required literary qualifications only. It was an administrative office, requiring knowledge of character, energy, and firmness, and the possession of those qualities could only be ascertained by observation and by experience of the individual. Were they, then, to lay down a rule that a foreigner might be permitted to hold the office of keeper of printed books, but that, although he might be possessed of the requisite qualities in the opinion of those with whom the appointment lay, yet he should not hold the office of principal librarian because he did not happen to possess the single qualification of being an English literary man? So far from sharing the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, he had no hesitation in saying that, if the Trustees had not appointed Mr. Panizzi to the vacancy when it occurred, as the reward of his long and meritorious services, and of the intelligent qualities which he had displayed, they would have acted with injustice, they would have inflicted a discouragement on the public service, and they would have been no longer entitled to the commendation and confidence of that House.


said, he hoped that some arrangement would be made to open the reading-room in the evening. He made this request, not on behalf of miscellaneous readers merely, but on behalf of a large class of meritorious young men who were students in the true sense of the word, who were pursuing knowledge in silence under circumstances of great difficulty, and who were ready to make any sacrifices to obtain the benefits which the library of the British Museum would afford them. Considering how many self-taught men had distinguished themselves in science and art in this country, it was of the highest importance to afford that privilege to the class whose claim he was advocating. He was convinced that all the difficulties which were raised against the proposition might be done away with by a little management. It was also very desirable that some inquiry should be made as to the reason of the great falling off which appeared to have recently taken place in the number of visitors to the Museum.


said, that Mr. Panizzi had some years ago proposed a plan for the purpose of opening the Museum in the evening, which was not then adopted; but the Trustees would, he doubted not, now take the subject into serious consideration.


said, he hoped that the Museum would be in future opened for five days in the week, a plan which had been carried out elsewhere with advantage.


said, he would suggest that it would be a wise economy to raise some building worthy of the nation, instead of adding to the present buildings bit by bit, especially as large accessions were expected to the Assyrian antiquities. He hoped the Museum would be considered not an "old curiosity shop," but an institution of real instruction, where everything was arranged in proper sequence and order.


said, he wished to call attention to the absence of all detail in the particulars of the Vote, especially as to salaries. He would also beg to add his request that greater facilities might be given to the public in the use of the Museum.


said, he thought the suggestion of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox), that the reading-room of the Museum should be opened in the evening, deserved very serious consideration. He did not know what objections might exist to such an arrangement, but if the hon. Gentleman's suggestion could be carried out without material inconvenience it should receive his (Lord J. Russell's) support. He fully agreed with the hon. Member, that there were many persons in nearly every class of life who might devote some portion of the evening to visiting such an institution. With regard to the allusions that had been made to the government of the Museum, he might observe that there was generally a very full attendance of Trustees, who not merely consulted with the principal librarian, but, if questions arose with reference to particular departments, called upon the heads of those departments for explanations or information. He did not think it would be possible to have men of higher literary distinction than Mr. Macaulay, or of greater aptitude for business than the Duke of Somerset, to aid the trustees in the discharge of their duties. It had been said that the Museum embraced too many subjects, and he agreed that it might be desirable to provide accommodation elsewhere for some departments at present connected with the institution. The Museum partook both of a literary and scientific character, and included a collection of natural history, which Professor Owen had declared was equal to any collection of a similar description in the world. There was a collection of ancient art, and also of what was called in the Act of Parliament "modern antiquity," which came down to a certain time, but did not extend to modern works. He entertained some doubt whether the building as it now existed, or even with any alterations which could be effected, was the most convenient place that could be provided for the exhibition of ancient works of art; but that was an important question which well deserved the consideration of the Government. He did not know whether any intention existed of building a new and spacious national gallery, but if that idea were entertained he thought it was a matter for consideration whether the specimens of ancient art now contained in the British Museum might not be exhibited to greater advantage in such an institution. With respect to the criticisms that had been made upon the architecture of the Museum, the Trustees could not be fairly blamed for any defects it might exhibit. He might remind the Committee that, although many public edifices had been erected in this country by various architects, none of them, he believed, could be regarded as distinguished examples of architectural taste and skill; and he heard that it was intended to convert the National Gallery—which had been built upon a remarkably fine site and at great expense—into a hotel. He had no doubt that great improvements might be effected with regard to the management of the Museum, and he was sure the suggestions which had been made would be carefully considered by the Trustees. He had no doubt that the falling-off in the number of visitors to which the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) had referred was attributable, to some extent, to the number of other institutions which had been established for the exhibition of specimens of natural history and works of art, and which diverted the attention of the public from the National Museum. He regretted that the hon. Gentleman had deemed it his duty to object to the appointment of Mr. Panizzi on the ground that he was a foreigner. He really thought that we had become more liberal than that. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the office of principal librarian ought to be a retirement for some literary man. There was a time when Prior and Congreve, Addison and Steele, were employed under the Administration. Some of these men had qualifications for business; others had offices in the Excise and Customs, because they were eminent in literature; but now we should not be satisfied if a Gentleman were appointed a Commissioner of Excise because he was an excellent poet. Such things used to be done in former times, but they were not done now. He thought that the appointment of Mr. Panizzi had been fully vindicated by Mr. Speaker, and he trusted that there would be no further opposition to the Vote.


said, he flattered himself that the discussion he had raised had not been without some benefit, although, if the principle advocated in some quarters were carried out, no objection could be taken to the highest posts in the Administration being held by gentlemen who had distinguished themselves in the cause of representative government in other countries. He had brought forward the case of Mr. Panizzi solely upon public grounds, and he could not say that his opinion had been in any degree changed by what had taken place in the course of the present discussion. He willingly admitted the high qualifications of Mr. Panizzi, but he still maintained that, in the rarity of offices which public opinion allowed to be filled by literary men of practical ability, it was not right that the post of chief librarian in the British Museum should be given to a foreigner. At the same time, he should be glad to hear that the appointment was confirmed by public opinion and justified by the conduct of Mr. Panizzi himself.

Vote agreed to.

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding £18,626, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of the General Board of Health, to the 31st day of March, 1857.


said, he could not allow this Vote to pass without protesting against it. He objected to it on the ground that the Board did far more harm than good. It had introduced disease into Croydon, Sandgate, Lewisham, and every other place with which it had meddled, and he believed was kept up merely for the sake of the fat salaries connected with it. The Board of Health, which was first established as a temporary Board, was now rendered permanent; and the expenses, which in 1852 were only £1,355, had been increased to the enormous sum of £18,000 a year—which, with £1,300 granted as pensions since the establishment of the Board, amounted to £19,300. He should like very much to know what those pensions were for. But independent of the expense, the Board was of the most mischievous character to the country at large. He objected more particularly to the large salaries given under the Act. The medical officer received £1,500 a year. The Estimates of the civil service were increasing in an almost incredible degree; and considering that the Board of Health had become a greater nuisance than the nuisances it was intended to remedy—that it had introduced dissatisfaction into every town into which it had been introduced, of which he could name numerous instances, he should move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £6,266, the amount which had already been expended.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding £6,266, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of the General Board of Health, to the 31st day of March, 1857.


said, he also thought that the salary of the medical officer was too high. When the person who held the office was the medical officer of the City of London, his salary was something like £500. The salaries of the medical officer of the principal metropolitan parishes, who had most extensive duties to perform, ranged from £400 to £500.


said, he thought that the appointment of such an officer was a necessary one, but he certainly considered that £1,200 a year, which would be the amount the medical gentleman in question appeared to be receiving before he was appointed, was sufficient.


said, that, in the unavoidable absence of the President of the Board of Health, he would beg to state that when Mr. Simon was the medical officer of the City of London, his salary was £800, in addition to which he was able to obtain £400 from private practice; he therefore considered £1,500 was not too much for a person of such ability and eminence.


said, he thought that some explanation ought to be given as to what were the duties of the medical officer.


said, that if they compared the salary of the medical officer of the Board of Health with that of County Court Judges, Charity and Ecclesiastical Commissioners, it would appear enormously high.


said, he wished to call attention to the great number of subordinates in the department, including four superior officers and five clerks, at an expense in the aggregate of £5,000 a year. He thought the whole subject of these salaries ought to be investigated.


said, he thought that the Board of Health was altogether unnecessary: he wished to know what the duties of the two travelling inspectors were?


said, that it was quite a mistake to suppose that the medical officer of the Board of Health had nothing to do. There were constant applications from all parts of the kingdom, which he had to consider, besides a great variety of other duties. The advantage of having a medical officer to refer to was strongly felt on the occasion of the outbreak of cholera in St. Martin's parish.


said, he would suggest that the Motion should be postponed until the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Health (Mr. Cowper) was able to attend the House. At present the information given upon the point was very unsatisfactory.


said, he would beg to inquire whether on this Board, an institution of modern date, there were any superannuations. He thought that the salary paid to Mr. Simon was too large: in St. George's parish they had selected a most eminent medical man, out of thirty candidates, at a salary of £250 a year. He must also contend that the President of the Board of Health was paid too much, the secretary too much, the medical officer too much, the only persons who were not paid enough being the clerks, who really did the work.


said, he wished to explain that Mr. Simon, at the time of his appointment, was in the receipt of £800 a year from the city of London, and his private practice was then worth £400 a year, and was gradually increasing; so that he did not think that £1,500 a year was too high a salary to give to that gentleman. The advice of the medical officer was necessary to the Board of Health in such questions as those relating to quarantine, vaccination, the closing of cemeteries, and a variety of questions of that nature.


said, he could bear testimony to the zeal with which Mr. Simon had discharged his public duties. Many of his friends thought he acted very foolishly in retaining his appointment in the City, and advised him to throw himself upon his private practice, in which he must have rapidly risen to eminence. On acount of his eminent ability he was offered a Government appointment with a fair salary, and he accepted it.


said, he wanted to know how it happened that the expense for the year 1854–5 which amounted to about £5,000, had not been investigated in a former year? He understood that the money was not paid till April, 1855. If so, out of what moneys were the expenses paid? Was it out of the money voted for 1855–6? If so, that showed that a check upon those payments was not sufficiently accurate. There was another point to which he wished to advert. Here was a Vote of £6,000 required in advance on account of Civil Contingencies. He had no objection to these advances in a small way; but when they voted £100,000 for Civil Contingencies, and it was found that they had got, besides, this Vote of £6,000, it was quite clear that a larger sum for Civil Contingencies was really voted than appeared in the Estimates. Their own Chairman had stated in his Report that there was not a sufficient check upon these Civil Service Votes. Here was a case in point, which showed that the Committee ought not to rest where they were, but that they ought to look into the state of their accounts.


said, the difficulty which his right hon. Friend had started was easily explained. The Vote of £100,000 for Civil Contingencies was for the purpose of providing for unforeseen charges. Here was an unforeseen charge. A great epidemic broke out, which made it necessary for Government to call in the aid of medical men. Parliament was not sitting. The Civil Contingencies were the only fund to be applied to in a case of that sort. The money thus advanced was repaid by a Vote of Parliament, but the sums issued were never presented in the Estimates of the Civil Contingencies of the following year. It was a final payment.


said, the case against this mode of keeping the accounts was this:—the House of Commons Voted £100,000 for Civil Contingencies. There was a balance at the Exchequer of £10,000; therefore, according to the notion of Parliament, there was £110,000 for Civil Contingencies. But that was not quite all; because here was £6,000 voted to repay Civil Contingencies, and in several instances money was voted to repay Civil Contingencies. This was not a small sum; it was a considerable amount, which for two years had been owing to Civil Contingencies.


said, he thought the explanation of his hon. Friend (Mr. Wilson) was perfectly intelligible; if the same sum appeared both in the Civil Contingencies and in the Estimate, it would be charged twice to the nation. It was necessary the items should appear under their different heads, and, therefore, sums paid out of Civil Contingencies were charged to repay Civil Contingencies under the heads to which they belonged.


said, the Committee ought to feel greatly obliged to the right hon. Member for Portsmouth for bringing this matter forward. Why there should be this circuitous course no one had explained. It seemed that out of the Civil Contingency Fund contingencies were not paid, but merely advanced, and repaid by Votes. Why should not such unexpected expenses as might properly be considered "Contingencies," be paid at once, out and out, from the Civil Contingency Fund? That surely would be the most simple course; and then the expenses in question would appear properly on the Civil Contingency Fund account. The expenses of medical inspection on occasion or epidemics were strictly contingent, and might properly be paid at once out of the Civil Contingency Fund. There had been no explanation why these expenses had not been brought before the House last year. Delay prevented their being fully understood; and the items of the present Vote were by no means properly stated in the Estimate.


said, he was anxious to know whether Mr. Bazalgette, whose scheme had been reported against by the Medical Board of Health, had been appointed chief engineer of the Board of Works, and whether the inspectors were likely to come into collision with Mr. Bazalgette.


said, in replying to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) he would beg to state, that Civil Contingencies were in the nature of a banker's account for the purpose of supporting a balance from which all advances were made, which were not provided by Parliament at the time required. If all the sums paid out of Civil Contingent cies appeared under that head, it would be impossible ever to contrast the expenditure in any department, because part of the charges of that department might be found under Civil Contingencies. For the convenience of comparing the expenditure in every department, each sum was brought under the different, heads and voted to repay the Civil Contingencies. This establishment was appointed in the autumn of 1854; they were not paid until April, 1855. After the Estimates were printed they were paid out of Civil Contingencies, and the amount would now be repaid to Civil Contingencies. Of course, if the Government could have brought the sum under Vote at an earlier period, it would have been their duty to do so. If the sums paid out of Civil Contingencies remained definitely under that head, they would want £250,000 instead of £100,000 for the purpose. All these repayments went to supply the fund and lessened the amount demanded for Civil Contingencies. In reply to the question of the noble Lord (Lord Lovaine), he must inform him that the Government had nothing to do with the appointment to which he had referred.


said, he thought the hon. Secretary for the Treasury had given a rather lax construction of these Civil Contingencies, when he likened them to a banking account. The heads of departments, if they understood that the Civil Contingencies were a bank from which they could draw whatever they spent over the Estimate which Parliament had voted for them, would, of course, have no hesitation in coming to it, but if they found a difficulty in getting money he apprehended that they would look twice before they exceeded their Estimate.


said, he wished to know if there had been any superannuations under the new Act?


said, that when the new Board of Health was formed a retiring pension of £1,000 a year was given to Mr. Chadwick, and subsequently Dr. Southwood Smith had an allowance of £300 a year granted to him.


said, he wished the Committee to contrast the treatment of Dr. Southwood Smith with that experienced by Dr. Barlow, who, after serving the public thirty-two years in connection with the Board of Health in Ireland, was obliged to retire without any superannuation, on the ground that he had not contributed by deductions to the superannuation fund.


said, he could not see what duties the medical officer of the Board could have to perform, as every parish in the metropolis had its own medical officer.


said, the duties of that officer lay not in the metropolis, but all over the country.


said, that he would take the earliest opportunity of moving for a return of the number of journeys made by the medical officer of the Board of Health during the last twelve months.


said, he thought the money paid to this officer was entirely thrown away, and, for his own part, he would like to see the Board abolished altogether.


said, that as the medical visitors in lunacy received only £500 a year each, he thought £1,500 a year was an exorbitant salary for the medical officer of the Board of Health.


said, he would beg to ask whether any hon. Gentleman could say that this medical officer had visited country districts? for, as it was admitted that his services were not needed in the metropolis, unless he had benefited the country he (Mr. Blackburn) could not understand how the Government could persist in pressing the Vote.


said, the medical officer of the Board of Health had, as he had previously stated, many important duties to discharge. He was consulted upon a great number of subjects, and especially, on the application of local boards, with reference to epidemics which broke out in particular districts. Suppose an epidemic were to break out again in London, if no provision of this kind were made the Board of Health would be blamed for their negligence; but the fact was, that when such visitations had passed away their danger was forgotten, and no precautions were thought necessary to prevent their recurrence. His right hon. Friend (Sir B. Hall) had deservedly received great credit for the duties which he had formerly performed in connection with the Board of Health, and that right hon. Gentleman had stated to the Treasury last August that the services of a medical officer of the highest character could not be obtained for lower remuneration than was proposed by this Vote. Considering the important duties which devolved upon that officer, he (Mr. Wilson) thought the amount of his salary was a matter of secondary consideration.


said, that in the district in which he resided one-fourth of the population was last year suffering from small-pox. An application was made to the Board of Health for assistance, but the answer was, that they could give none, and that the local authorities must do the best they could.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question again proposed.


said, he should move the reduction of the Vote by £300.

Motion made, and Question put— That a sum, not exceeding £18,326, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of the General Board of Health, to the 31st day of March, 1857.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 63; Noes 154: Majority 91.

Original Question put, and agreed to.