HC Deb 21 February 1856 vol 140 cc1053-118

SIR JOSHUA WALMSLEY rose to propose the following Resolution— That, in the opinion of this House, it would promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the working classes of this Metropolis if the Collections of Natural History and Art in the British Museum and the National Gallery were open to the public inspection after Morning Service on Sundays. The hon. Member observed that, if this Motion were of a perfectly novel character, and if it had originated with him, he should have felt constrained by the extraordinary interest it had awakened to pause before he brought it forward; but such was not the case. The Resolution owed its origin to his lamented friend, Mr. Hume, who had advocated it with characteristic zeal and energy, in the full conviction that by so doing he was advancing the interests of that particular class of the community in whose service he had so long and laboriously exerted himself. He (Sir J. Walmsley) regarded the question from precisely the same point of view as his distinguished friend, and was of opinion that the very best monument they could erect to the memory of that departed statesman would be to open the British Museum and the National Gallery on the afternoon of Sunday. Soon after the death of Mr. Hume he (Sir J. Walmsley) was waited upon by deputations from numerous bodies of working men in the metropolis, who earnestly entreated him to bring this question before Parliament as one in which they felt the liveliest interest. He hoped that this fact would plead his apology for the prominent part which he, though not a metropolitan Member, was now prepared to take in the discussion of this most important question. He desired to treat it in a spirit equally firm and conciliatory; and, while he was resolved to avoid as much as possible all theological allusions, and all remarks of a personal character which could tend to irritate or annoy even the most sensitive, he was not the less determined to shrink from no discussion calculated to elicit the truth; nor did he yield to any, there or elsewhere, in an earnest desire to preserve the Sunday as free from labour as was consistent with the necessities of the people, and as a day of devotion, rest, and innocent enjoyment. Those whose feelings he desired on this occasion to interpret were actuated by similar intentions, and he believed with them, that the measure now proposed was worthy of acceptance by the House for this especial reason—that it would conduce to such objects, at the same time that it would elevate the moral and religious character of that portion of the people who, from whatever cause, had not hitherto been brought within the influence of those whose duty and business it was to have instructed them. He had in his hands a declaration, signed by the chairmen and secretaries of numerous bodies of working men in the metropolis, confirming that statement, and further declaring, "that were this Motion, in their opinion, calculated to increase Sunday labour, they would immediately reverse the exertions they were then making. The object of the Resolution was to enable the operative classes to visit the works of art in the British Museum and the National Gallery on the afternoon of Sunday. That was the full extent of the Motion, though propositions of a different nature had been mingled with it. In the petitions which these men had from time to time presented to the Legislature they had fully set forth the grounds on which they based their claim to such admission, and it was not too much to say that hitherto no valid reason had been assigned for the refusal of their prayer. They stated that the necessities of existence demanded six days' labour out of seven, that Sunday was their only day of relaxation from toil, and, consequently, the only day on which they could avail themselves of these institutions; and they asked why establishments of so national and educational a character should be closed to those most in need of instruction, at a time when alone they could participate in such teaching. The artisans of the metropolis maintained that a frequent inspection of the works of art in the British Museum and National Gallery was necessary for the cultivation of their taste, for the development of their mechanical skill, and for the acquisition of such dexterity in their respective callings as would enable them to meet the yearly-increasing competition of foreign nations. Placing the question on another and still higher basis, they contended that their admission to these institutions would ameliorate their social condition, amend their tone of moral feeling, and withdraw them from less elevated pursuits to the improvement of their mind and the refinement of their talents. Finally, they stated that such a measure would not in anywise interfere with the religious rites and devotional exercises of those who might entertain more severe views of the uses and purposes of Sunday. It had been well asked, Are our working men, with all their skill and industry, socially inferior to, or less capable of good impressions than, the same class in other countries, that they should be debarred from those privileges? It would be admitted that they were not; that there was as much intelligence, as much real piety, and as earnest a desire to hold fast by the blessings of one day of rest in seven, amongst our own as could be found amongst any other people; and far from desiring to see the Sunday employed otherwise than as a day of devotion, rest, and innocent enjoyment, they believe the opening of these institutions would increase the reverence for that day, and ultimately augment the attendance upon public worship. No one would question the wisdom of encouraging the working men to visit these places, and to mix with those calculated to improve their tastes and habits; and it was morally certain that were these institutions opened on the afternoon of Sunday, thousands, if not tens of thousands, who themselves seldom left their crowded courts and alleys on that day, save for the public-house, would be found with their wives and families at these sources of instruction, and they would return home wiser and better for their contemplation of the beautiful and their association with the virtuous and the gifted. They were told by some that these were mere theoretical opinions—that a certain training was necessary before the mind could profit by such teaching; but it could not be denied that sufficient time and ample means had been appropriated to such training had the proper application been used by those whose duty it was to attend to it. It had been said that such privileges would be abused; but the conduct of the working men, whenever it had been tested, had amply refuted this opinion, and the theory so called had received practical illustration in the sober and orderly conduct of the thousands who weekly availed themselves of the opportunities to visit the public institutions already opened on the Sunday, and the success of these experiments ought to have removed much prejudice. The sum of the matter, in the words of an able divine, was—"That to the good and industrious such opportunities would afford innocent and useful recreation without doing harm, and to the bad and idle would hold out inducements to forsake vicious habits, which might result in good." Why should the working classes of this country alone be debarred access to sources of instruction and recreation which would improve them both mentally and morally, and enable them to become good and dutiful citizens? Several objections had been raised against this been to the working men, to which he (Sir Joshua Walmsley) would refer. It had been said that the working men had not sufficiently showed their anxiety for admission to these institutions; but that was a mistake. They had held numerous meetings on the subject, and had repeatedly petitioned for it. ["No, no!"] Greater demonstrations of this could easily have been given, but, for his part, he commended the course which the working men had adopted on account of its great calmness and moderation. He would ask hon. Members, who, rejoicing in affluence, would very likely forget the fact, to bear in mind that the expenses incidental to the getting up of petitions fell heavily on the means of working men. In fact, there also existed a strong indisposition on the part of the producing classes to petitioning at all. Another objection was that the adoption of the measure would engage the labour of a few officials during the afternoon of Sunday. How far that scruple was allowed, by those who advanced it, to affect their actions in the case of that large class of the community, domestic servants, he would leave for themselves to determine. The conduct of this class of opponents had, he confessed, always appeared to him to be a striking monument of inconsistency. But in truth the labour required in proportion to the instruction to be obtained would be almost infinitesimal, and no individual would be prevented from attending divine service at least once on Sunday. The evidence of Dr. Grey, the Curator of the British Museum, before the Fine Arts Committee in 1841, was so pointed on this part of the subject, that he would venture to read a few brief extracts. It should be remembered that that evidence was taken by a Committee not favourable to the cause which he was advocating. Dr. Grey said:— I do not anticipate any difficulty in making arrangements for opening on Sunday afternoon. The same assistance by the police as on great holidays might be adopted. If the British Museum were open on the afternoon of Sunday, many men who now go alone for pleasure trips to the country would accompany their wives and children to the British Museum, and I see no objection to the admission of children with their parents. Judging from the attention on holidays, when the husband and wife visit the Museum together, there is evidently a great desire to avail themselves of the instruction which the place affords. The behaviour of the people is very good. I am delighted to see the manner in which they examine the collections on holidays. The mechanics appear much interested in the specimens, and, frequently, one who knows more than others will demonstrate for the rest of the party. Great advantages are derived from the perusal of the collection. It gives the mass of the people a general taste for the study of nature, which must be highly advantageous to their morals. I consider the Museum one of the greatest educational institutions in the country, and one of those places where people may gain real sound knowledge. Galleries of works of art I regard in the same light, and I think they ought to be as free as possible. Having formerly practised as a medical man in one of the largest districts in Spitalfields, I am well aware there is a mass of people who have no opportunity of visiting the Museum or any gallery of art save on the Sunday, and many of whom would rather spend their Sunday afternoon in that manner than as they have hitherto been accustomed. Such was the evidence of a, man of practical experience and great knowledge, and he (Sir J. Walmsley) had reason to believe that these opinions were unaltered. The noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown had urged another plea against this Motion—namely, that it would offend the feelings or the prejudices of a certain portion of the community. To what class of persons the noble Lord here referred he (Sir J. Walmsley) was at a loss to conceive; but, be that as it might, a large portion of the working people of the metropolis were certainly in favour of that Motion, and, no doubt, the same was true of the working men of the country generally. ["No!"] If hon. Gentlemen would only call meeting's of the operative classes to elicit their opinions on this question, they would find what he now stated entirely confirmed. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) knew that the plea which he had urged, carried to its legitimate results, had served to light the fires of Smithfield—had sufficed to keep a large body of our fellow Christians long under the ban of pains and penalties, and even at this moment was the cause of the denial of their political rights to that section of our fellow subjects, a member of which had been lately selected by the citizens of London as their chief magistrate. There were other persons who, for lack of better arguments against this Motion, chose to impute motives to its supporters, and who charged the employers of labour with a covert desire to induce their workpeople to work on Sunday, in order that they might be able to wring from them seven days' labour for six days' pay. Those who made these unfounded and calumnious insinuations against employers should remember that, in doing so, they paid but a sorry compliment to the intelligence and acuteness of the operatives, who were a class quite equal in these qualities to themselves. Moreover, it was earnestly to be wished that those who professed to be so much better than their neighbours would not, by indulging in base aspersions of this kind, show themselves to be devoid of the first attributes of Christianity—charity and truthfulness. The assertion, however, carried its own refutation. It was simply as absurd as it was untrue. No one would accuse the working men of a desire to add to the hours of toil; they, at least, were anxious to reduce them; they were not only the promoters, but the chief supporters of the Motion, satisfied its success would facilitate that object—that it would at least furnish another opportunity for rational enjoyment on the afternoon of Sunday, and would cast a gleam of sunshine to cheer the hours spent in the factory and the workshop. Much had been said and written on what was called the continental desecration of the Sunday; and an attempt has been made to mix up the two questions. It was not for him to draw a comparison on that point between our nationality and that of our neighbour; but he would say that he could not see any necessary connection between a visit to the British Museum on the afternoon of Sunday and the desecration of that day. Upon this point he would venture to trouble the House by reading an extract of a letter from one, who was more qualified than himself—perhaps indeed better qualified than any other man in Europe—to give an opinion upon this subject. He had not the authority of the writer to mention his name, but he (Sir J. Walmsley) could assure the House that he bad by no means overrated that writer's capacity for giving judgment upon such a question. The extract was as follows— I am of opinion that vice and immorality are relatively more prevalent in London than in the great continental capitals, and especially that the relative proportion of immorality which prevails on the Sunday, compared with any other day of the week, is far larger in London than in the continental capitals; that in Edinburgh and Glasgow, where what may be called the Judaical observance of the Sunday is greater than in London, the vice and criminality prevalent on that day are also relatively greater than in that metropolis. One case he could, from actual knowledge, refer to, in support of this opinion. Who that had witnessed the strict observance of their religious duties by the people of the Swiss cantons—he referred then specially to the Protestant cantons—with their joyous and innocent relaxation on the afternoon of Sunday, would be prepared to say that such relaxation, sanctioned by the presence of their pastors, tended to lower either the moral or the religious character of that people? In fact, the ascetic interpretation placed by some on the observance of the Sabbath was not sanctioned by many of our own pious divines, both of church and chapel. He (Sir J. Walmsley) had, when this subject was last before the House, referred to the opinion of Dr. Arnold, and he would then quote from one of whose piety and virtue that good man had always spoken with enthusiasm—the then Archbishop of Dublin—who said— The Lord's day is to be held purely as a religious festival. Judaism being abolished, all its ritual observances must, of course, be wholly at an end; so that we are no more compelled to keep the fourth commandment than we are to keep the worship of the temple or the daily sacrifice. And again, Paley, whose opinion most hon. Members would honour, had said— Cessation from labour on the Sunday beyond the time of attendance on public worship is not intimated in any passage of the New Testament, nor did Christ or His apostles deliver any commandment to their disciples for a discontinuance on that day of the common offices of their profession. The resting on that day from our employment longer than we are detained from it by attendance on public worship, is to Christians an ordinance of human institution. This institution, however, he (Sir J. Walmsley) regarded as one of the greatest blessings conferred on man, and as such he desired to see as much freedom from labour on that day as was consistent with the necessities of the people. But he thought that experience had shown that penal enactments and restrictive measures, far from elevating the moral or the religious tone of the people, and filling our churches and chapels with devout worshippers, had unfortunately begot a spirit of antagonism greatly detrimental to both. Nor did the exclusion of the working-classes from the sources of instruction and enjoyment, embraced by the Motion entrusted to him, on the afternoon of Sunday—during the only few hours the poor man could call his own—come with a good grace from those who, themselves having all things richly to enjoy on every day of the week, yet opened their clubs and news rooms, enjoyed their pictures, their statues, their parks and gardens, and even, in some cases, held their Sunday musical soirées and réunions. Surely this was straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel. It was at least holding out one law for the rich, another for the poor; and, if he might give a word of advice to those who insisted upon the working men following their opinion, he would warn them that they were proceeding in a course greatly detrimental to the interests of religion and to the safety of the State, and which must have the most disastrous effects. He recently met a friend going to the Zoological Gardens with his children on Sunday afternoon, and, as he knew he was opposed to this Motion, he endeavoured to point out his inconsistency. His friend replied, and doubtless many of those who opposed the Motion would answer in similar language, that it was a very different thing for him to take his two children quietly to sec the beauties of nature and art, and to see crowds of working men rushing to the British Museum and the National Gallery on Sunday. He would caution the House against taking that course, and enforcing upon the working men burdens which they would not so much as touch with one of their fingers. He (Sir J. Walmsley) regarded this Motion as purely an educational one, and he should, indeed, rejoice, could he induce others to look upon it in that light. It was educational in the most comprehensive sense, and would extend that blessing to tens of thousands whom the millions spent on a Church Establishment had not yet reached. If hon. Members would look at the question in this light, he should have but little fear for the fate of the Motion which he had placed in the Speaker's hands.

SIR JOHN SHELLEY rose to second the Motion. He said, if he were to consult his own convenience and comfort upon that occasion, he should have contented himself with a silent vote; but, as the subject was one on which he had all through life entertained strong convictions, and thinking it especially related to this metropolis, in which he had the honour to represent so largo a constituency, he did not conceive, let the consequence be what it might, that he ought to shrink from the duty of expressing his opinion. He was well aware that this question was an unpopular one in that House, and he was not quite clear that it was not an unpopular one out of it. From the correspondence which he had had upon the matter, he thought it right to say so much. But he was sure, at the same time, that this House would not respect a man who, entertaining a strong conviction upon a question under consideration, was not prepared to stand up manfully before them and to maintain it. Judging by the petitions that had been presented, he assumed that the opposition to the measure was founded upon the assertion that such a measure as that asked for, if allowed to pass, would lead to a desecration of the Sabbath. So far from thinking that any such effect would be produced by it, he honestly and conscientiously believed that such a measure would tend to the moral and intellectual welfare of the people, and would best carry out one great object for which the Sabbath was instituted. He hoped that in the course of this discussion arguments would not be introduced calculated to set one class against another. Believing that the opinion against such a measure was perfectly conscientious, he only asked that the same credit might be given to those who were in favour of it. In the discussion which took place last Session, the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) said, that if the measure were agreed to the working man would find to his cost that he would be obliged to give seven days' labour for six days' wages. Now, the experience of this metropolis was directly opposed to such a supposition. He would refer to the willingness of the employers to join in, and the happy results which followed from, the early closing and half holiday movement. He thought it but fair, therefore, to the supporters of this measure to say, that so far from there being any inclination to grind down the artisans or labourers, there was every wish shown on the part of the employers to give their servants an opportunity of cultivating their minds in the evening by the early closing of their shops. In the course of the debate which took place, last Session, the noble Viscount at the head of the Government made a speech in which he expressed opinions with which he (Sir J. Shelley) completely coincided. The noble Viscount, however, came to a very different conclusion from that which he had come to in opposing the Motion that was then under consideration. The noble Lord said—"My opinion is that Sunday ought to be a day of rest, of devotion, and of cheerful and innocent recreation." Now, the advocates of the present Motion entertained exactly the same notion of the Sunday; and they recommended that, after the exercise of devotion, the working man who had passed the week amid the din and clanking of machinery should have some intellectual object in view to induce him to take his family with him to some of those public institutions where they would enjoy innocent recreation, while receiving profitable instruction in viewing objects of nature and art. But the noble Lord went on to say—"to enforce the strict observance of the Sunday, for which some persons contend, is, I think, obviously impossible." He (Sir J. Shelley) quite concurred in these observations; but then, to what extent were they to go? What was to be the line of demarcation? Where shall the desecration of the Sabbath end, and where shall it begin? Then the noble Lord observed—"it is impossible for Parliament to attempt to pass any law to define the mode in which the Sunday should be observed." He concurred with the noble Lord in that remark; but he would remind him that there were allowed what were called excursion trains, which might carry crowds upon the Sunday to the country, and which employed the various officials connected with the railways. Those trains might take the people down to the Crystal Palace; but when they got there they found the doors closed against them, and they were told that they could not enter that exhibition, containing the most beautiful collection of works of art, because that would be a desecration of the Sabbath. Was it consistent to allow stokers and guards to be employed in the conveyance of people to the Crystal Palace, and then not to allow those people to enter the building? The noble Lord concluded by saying—" The precise degree to which the principle may be properly carried out must be left to the conscience of each individual." Well, that was all the advocates of the Motion asked. They respected every man's conscience; but they asked the House no longer to legislate for the consciences of the working men, who were as religious in their own way as any other class of the community. The working man was made to contribute to the support of the British Museum and the National Gallery, by indirect taxation; why, then, should they he prevented from enjoying those institutions on the only day when, it was possible for them to do so? The House was aware that two leagues had been established in connection with this question, with very different objects. The one was the National Sunday League, which was supported exclusively by working men, the subscription to which was one shilling. Another league was subsequently established in Exeter Hall, in direct opposition to the former. This latter was presided over by a nobleman (the Earl of Shaftesbury), who was universally respected, and who was admitted to be a man who performed his duties for the good of the community most honourably, zealously, and conscientiously. The Chairman of the National Sunday League was a jeweller. This League had issued a document signed by the Chairman and two secretaries, in which they state that in asking for the opening of the national institutions on the Sunday they had no other object in view than the moral and intellectual elevation of the people; that, so far from wishing to do anything that might tend to desecrate the Sabbath, they reverence the Sunday as one of the greatest blessings of the middle and working classes, and that their only anxiety was that it should be preserved in conformity with its original purpose—as a day of devotion, of rest, and of innocent enjoyment. They further stated they were fully persuaded that the attainment of their object would not on the one hand increase Sunday labour to any appreciable extent, while on the other hand it would naturally decrease the voluntary occupation of many artizans or tradesmen, who were now induced to labour on the Sunday in order that they might make a holiday some other day in the week when their means of enjoyment would be under no restraint. The mass of petitions that had been presented against his hon. Friend's Motion were no doubt easily procured, for they originated from letters sent to each clergyman in the country, requesting him to get up petitions against the measure moved for. Although by those petitions it appeared that a large number of the inhabitants of the country were opposed to it, it should be recollected that it was most difficult to procure petitions in the country in favour of it, inasmuch as the question only related to the metropolis; and the working people in the country knew they had very little chance of ever visiting those institutions. It must be remembered, too, that the persons who signed these petitions not only memorialised the House to put a stop to the playing of the bands at Windsor Castle and in Kensington Gardens, but also not to allow gate-keepers to be employed at the Parks. He would remind them of the lesson as to the wisdom of closing the Parks they had received last year. The National Sunday League, while explaining the difficulties of procuring signatures to petitions, on account of the great expense and labour that would be necessary to effect that object, stated their conscientious belief that at least three-fourths of the working men in the metropolis were in favour of the object in view. He would ask, then, whether the law was to be altered at all, or was it to be only directed against the working man; whilst the better classes in society were able to enjoy themselves on those days on which the working man was obliged to labour? The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) asked a question that evening of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department upon a subject clearly connected with the matter under consideration. It appeared that a barber in Oldham was summoned before the magistrates on a charge of carrying on business on the Lord's day, contrary to the provisions of a statute of Charles II., which directed that no work except what was absolutely necessary should be done on the Lord's day, and the penalty for the infringement of the law was 5s. A good deal of interest was excited by the case; for it appeared that the prosecution was got up by the barbers of Oldham, who felt themselves aggrieved at finding themselves obliged to compete with a rival in the trade who only charged a halfpenny a shave, while their regular price was one penny. Free traders should commend the barber, the subject of this prosecution, for shaving at a halfpenny, while his fellow barbers charged a penny; but, at all events, he had been victimised. His case came before the magistrates of the town, and a police-serjeant deposed to having seen him in the commission of the act of shaving on a Sunday. Mr. Cobbett, who appeared for the accused, said:— Referring to the law of the case, the question the magistrates had to determine was,—First, whether the defendant came within the meaning of the four words 'tradesman, artificer, workman, or labourer.' Then they had to consider whether he was using 'his ordinary calling' on the Lord's day; and if he was, the third question was whether he did not do so under circumstances bringing him within the meaning of the exception, doing a 'work of necessity or charity?" Mr. Cobbett then argued at great length that a barber did not come within the meaning of the four words mentioned—that shaving was an operation performed upon the person, and that, therefore, his occupation came under the same category as surgeons, dentists, and other professional men; and he contended that, even if he were looked upon in the same light as a baker, he ought to be exempted from the operation of the Act, as it was clearly as much a necessary act for a man to be shaved on Sundays as that he should have a hot dinner, and it had been decided by the judges that bakers were not following their ordinary calling, in baking meat, or puddings, or pies, for other people on Sundays. However, notwithstanding all these professional suggestions, the bench of magistrates ruled that the case came within the Act against Sabbath-breaking, and that they had no alternative but to fine the barber 5s., with costs. This showed the length to which the House might be drawn on the subject if they acted on the feeling which some persons entertained as to what they called the strict observance of the Sabbath. However, he hoped the House would well consider the matter before them, and be careful not to let it be supposed that in legislating on this subject they would be inclined to have one law for the rich and another for the poor. Some Members contended that the poor workman might go to these places of instruction on the Saturday afternoon, or on the Monday; but he maintained that, in the present state of things, and considering the high price of provisions, the workmen in the metropolis could not for the purpose of their own intellectual improvement, or for the benefit of their children, afford to give up any portion of the working period of the week. Sunday was practically the only day which the poor workman could devote for such objects. The British Museum and the National Gallery contained objects worthy of the inspection of the working classes, and if the contemplation of those objects would tend to the moral and intellectual improvement of the working people on the Monday, it would equally have the same effect on the Sunday. He therefore trusted that House would concur in the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That, in the opinion of this House, it would promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the working classes of this Metropolis if the Collections of Natural History and Art in the British Museum and the National Gallery were open to the public inspection after Morning Service on Sundays.

MR. PELLATT rose to move, as an Amendment— That, in the opinion of this House, more frequent opportunities should be afforded for week-day inspection of the National Gallery, Government museums, and works of art; also, that the British Museum should be open five days in the week, and especially on Mondays and Saturdays, those days being most convenient to the working classes. He hoped the House would negative this vexed question, which he regretted should have been again before the House, by a larger majority than that by which it was rejected last year. With respect to the opinion of the working classes, he was quite willing to take issue with the hon. Baronet the Member for Westminster, and those Gentlemen who asserted that the working classes of London and Westminster, and the people generally, were in favour of the views of the hon. Gentleman whose Motion was before the House, for he felt quite confident that the majority would be against them. He (Mr. Pellatt) appealed to the House whether, within the recollection of the oldest Member, there had ever been a stronger or more general feeling manifested on any subject than was shown against the opening of those public institutions on Sunday, by the heap of petitions which had been laid on the table of the House that day, and in the communications which hon. Members had received from their constituents. For hon. Members to say that the feeling of the people was in favour of the Motion was absurd. In reply to what had been said as to the moral and intellectual improvement which working men would receive through the medium of those institutions, he would say that, on the contrary, the opening of the British Museum, the National Gallery, &c., would have the effect of taking the people away from the instruction of the Sunday schools. And it was a curious fact that the Sunday schools of London were less numerously attended than those of any other town in the kingdom—he meant, of course, in proportion to the population. This was, no doubt, owing to the numerous amusements and other temptations which the metropolis afforded to the working classes. The opinion of the clergy of all denominations was in unison with that of the public generally, in being opposed to any intrusion on the sacredness of the Sabbath. The custom of observing the Sabbath in its present integrity had become a sacred common law in this country, and it ought not to be interfered with. The House ought to be very slow to do anything that would diminish the attendance of the children of the humbler classes at Sunday schools. Mr. Baines, of Leeds, stated that we had in this country 202,000 Sunday-school teachers, and that children when first sent to those schools were of such an age as to be most susceptible of kindness and most amenable to authority. Legislators ought to beware of giving the Sunday-school movement a downward direction. As the hon. Member had quoted Paley, he also would take the liberty of reminding the House that they had the authority of Paley for saying that there was sufficient occupation for the Sunday in the performance of the exterior offices of religion, and in religious meditation, inquiry, and other devotions in private. The consequences of Sabbath-breaking had been borne testimony to by many clergymen of experience—amongst them, the Rev. Mr. Kingsmill, chaplain to the Pentonville Prison, who stated that he did not remember that there had come under his observation one case of a capital offence in which the culprit had not been a Sabbath-breaker, and that, in fact, nineteen cases out of every twenty prisoners, who came under his care, had habitually neglected the Sabbath and all other religious ordinances. He (Mr. Pellatt) hoped that the House would take a determined stand, and go no further in the direction of intruding on the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Crystal Palace had been spoken of. Why, had not an example been set to the world by our great Exhibition being kept closed on Sundays in 1851? Foreigners respected the English for their observance of the Sabbath. The present Emperor of the French, on the occasion of the peace deputation visiting Paris, gave orders that Versailles and St. Cloud should be open to them on a Monday, thus respecting those religious scruples that His Majesty thought might interfere with their visiting those palaces on Sunday. Regard for the sacred character of the Sabbath was an attribute of Englishmen. The great Dr. Johnson, one of the most pious and conscientious of men, when requesting three favours of Sir Joshua Reynolds, asked that distinguished artist to forgive a debt of £30; to read his Bible on Sundays; and never to use his pencil on the Sabbath; and Sir Joshua, a strong-minded man, acceded to his request. He had no desire to interfere with the pleasures of the working classes; but he trusted the House would never consent to legalise Sabbath-breaking. At present there were kept from Divine service on Sundays in this country, owing to being employed on canals and navigable rivers, 100,000 persons; by employment on railways, 60,000; post officers, 20,000; cabs and omnibuses, 10,000; and by Thames steam boats, 500: would the House add to the fearful category? With such statistics before them on this question, they ought to consider long before they affirmed a Resolution which might create an impression in the country, that that House had ceased to be the defenders of civil and religious liberty; he hoped, on the contrary, that by adopting his (Mr. Pellatt's) Amendment, hon. Members would show that they were true to the principles of the majority of the people in this country, as manifested by the petitions that had been presented that evening. The hon. Member then moved his Amendment.


seconded the Amendment, and said he could not give a silent vote on this question, which was not a party nor a class question—not a question between rich and poor, nor between Churchmen and Dissenters—it concerned the well-being of the social condition of this country, and our civil and religious liberties; and therefore was one upon which the House of Commons could not come to an ambiguous or uncertain decision. He agreed with the hon. Member for Leicester (Sir J. Walmsley) in deprecating all religious and theological controversies in that House; but when that which many looked upon as the great bulwark of Christianity was assailed,—when a day, which the great majority of the people of these three kingdoms regarded, rightly or wrongly—rightly, as he thought—as a day of religious worship and rest from their labours, was sought to be converted by legislative enactment into one of pleasure and amusement, then it was time for every man to speak out. To affirm and carry into operation a Resolution such as this now before the House, would do more towards assimilating the political condition of this country to that of Italy and Germany than any political statute which the House could pass. To put the question on no higher ground, he thought, and so did tens of thousands of the working classes themselves, that should they infringe upon the observance of the Sabbath in this direction, it would speedily expose them to the cupidity of sordid employers, who would in the course of time make those in their employ labour on Sunday as well as on other days of the week; and therefore, viewing the matter in a worldly point only, the friends of the artisans ought to be careful how they encouraged innovations of the character now proposed. The hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded this Resolution said, they did not wish to proceed further than the opening of the British Museum and the National Gallery, which, they said, were rational places of recreation on the Sabbath. But what security was there that the limit would be placed there? Might it not be said that the Panopticon and the Polytechnic, the Chinese and the Turkish Exhibitions, Madame Tussaud's Gallery of waxwork, and Miss Horton's Gallery of Illustration, were just as useful and instructive to the population in their way? Let the House consider to what this was likely to lead. Many persons thought that theatrical representations were conducive to the moral and intellectual improvement of society. Were they to be open on Sunday; and, if not, on what grounds were they to be closed? The opinions of these persons were as much entitled to respect as those of the hon. Member for Leicester. Then, of course, what they did in the metropolis, they ought to do throughout the country. Had the promoters of this Resolution considered how much additional labour and toil the opening of these exhibitions would entail upon the working classes? To say nothing of the attendants, who would not be few in number, the services of omnibus men and cabmen would be required to convey these multitudes of persons about, and also those of assistants in establishments provided for their refreshment and convenience. He believed that, in addition to these, the warehousemen, porters, and clerks in many commercial establishments would, on the faith of this Anti-Sunday legislation, by sordid employers, be defrauded of their day of rest. Thousands and tens of thousands of the working classes already saw what would be the effect of legislation of this sort. They regarded Sunday not so much as the Lord's as the people's day, and they looked to that House to protect them in the enjoyment of an invaluable and time-honoured privilege. Many who now entertained different opinions would, if the Resolution were agreed to, be the first to see their error, and there would be a reaction among the multitudes in London, Liverpool, and Leicester, precisely similar to that which now agitated several districts of France, and to that which had established the inviolability of the Sabbath in every one of the eastern, middle, and western States of America. For his part, he had yet to learn that museums and picture galleries were in any respect moral agents. That they refined the taste and polished the manners was indisputable; but those who had spent any time in the cities which had been so praised by hon. Gentlemen—for instance, in Munich, Florence, or Rome, might fairly be excused if they doubted that it was within the power of art to promote the social affections or domestic virtues. It was said that if you opened the museum you would empty the public-house. The testimony of Christian visitors, of superintendents of police, and of publicans themselves, would show the fallacy of this argument. He contended that, in proportion as you opened places of amusement on Sunday, you would increase the number of persons who required refreshment, and, instead of drawing men from the public-house to the museum, you would, by opening the latter, attract to the former many who would otherwise have remained with their families at their firesides. Another assertion was, that as the people paid for the maintenance of these national institutions, the institutions belonged to the people, and that, therefore, the people had a right to use them on Sunday. It might just as well be said that, because the Members of that House were elected by the people, the House was bound to work on Sunday for the benefit of the people. Supposing, however, that the people had a right, he denied that they had any inclination to use these galleries and museums on Sunday. He appealed to the petitions, beneath the weight of which the table of the House now groaned, for testimony that the great majority of the people did not wish to see these exhibitions open on Sundays. The people looked to that House to secure their rights, to carry out their wishes, and to withstand by every means in its power a course of policy which would, in the end, tend to degrade the people of this country to the level of those millions on the Continent who seldom thought and more rarely acted, and who were kept amused by their rulers in order that they might quietly submit to tyranny and oppression. It would have been more in accordance with his inclination that this Resolution should have been met by a direct negative; but, as he was a strong advocate of a Saturday half-holiday, he thought he was quite right in seconding the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "House" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words— more frequent opportunities should be afforded for week-day inspection of the National Gallery, Government Museums, and Works of Art; also, that the British Museum should be open five days in the week," instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, I trust that I am not unmoved by a due sense of responsibility in approaching this the most momentous subject which can engross the attention of the Senate, but while I yield not even to the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) in my advocacy for a decorous though not austere observance of the Sabbath, I cannot help feeling that the opponents of this Motion have blinded themselves to the fact, that there exists a large class of their fellow citizens whose social existence is altogether distinct from their own, and, that while they are cherishing the abstract idea of the Sabbath respectability of their own circles, with all its accompaniments (the meat that perisheth, the wine that stupefieth, and the cushions amidst which they slumber, perchance, their immortality away), they ignore the existence of another race of created beings, with feelings and passions like their own, who contribute to so many of our wants, but engross so few of our sympathies. To the man whose affluence and annual contributions secure for himself and family the weekly promenade in the sequestered and exclusive inclosures of the Zoological or Botanical Gardens, appalling indeed must be those visions of desolate altars and despised rituals which his ungenerous fanaticism suggests as the natural results of the legislation of my hon. Friend; but if by some chance he should desire to learn how the Sabbath is really passed by the men who to his theories are outcasts and strangers, let him look for the facts in the Monday's Police sheets—they are no fancy sketches, they owe no one dark line of all their gloomy composition to the imagination of the printer, they are faithful portrayals of your fearful originals, they bear upon our responsibility with a force as terrible as unavoidable—the still half-intoxicated ruffian in the dock and the bleeding woman who appears in heavy and reluctant evidence against him are both the creatures of your Puritanical ordinances. In addressing myself to this question, I disclaim the use of unworthy sophistry, I repudiate from my soul the nomenclature which would describe as "the people's day" that holy day which is dedicate to God, and which the Motion of my hon. Friend has not the remotest tendency to profane; but the Sabbath is but a means and not an end, made for man, and not he for the Sabbath; and believing, as I do, that the opening of your galleries of art and natural science would, not only in the words of this Motion, "promote the moral and intellectual welfare of the people," but that the book of nature is the best key to the Book of Revelation, I support the Motion of my hon. Friend, and, in doing so, I feel that I vindicate for creation and Christianity the same divine and glorious authorship, with the strongest faith and conviction that the humblest operative in this great metropolis would not pass through those galleries unmoved by those messages full of divinity which are conveyed at every point, and by every splendour of the manifested universe. Sir, I greatly err in supposition, if the material world was created for a higher purpose than the illustration of Scripture; but be this so or not, of this much I am satisfied, that the soul which is hitherto unacquainted with the beautiful, is utterly unfit for the contemplation of the miraculous and sublime. In taking this view we do no violence to Christian principle—the forgiveness of injuries, the payment of debts, the exercise of charity, are duties with which we do not dispense, but we are unwilling any longer to sacrifice the comforts and convenience of thousands to empty profession in favour of barren formulæ, which are of no higher import than that Sabbath of years instituted by the same authority, but which forms no part of the observances of the Christian Church. So strongly do I feel pressed by the reasons which I have given, that, notwithstanding the multitude of petitions from provincial Sunday-school teachers and fervid pastors of rural congregations which crowd the table of the House—but which I hold to be of no weight in a question in which the interests of the mechanics of the metropolis alone are involved—that, so far as my vote is concerned, I feel bound to protect the workmen of London from those gloomy sectaries who would convert, a festival into a fast, and ordain that a cessation from labour should mean the commencement of penance. But, Sir, I would go much further than the Motion of my hon. Friend. [Ironical cheers.] Do not cheer too quickly, my sequel will not, perhaps, realise your anticipations. I would open to the public not only the gallery and museum, but also the temples every hour on every day. I regard it as a disgrace to a Christian land, and a stain upon the character of this Assembly, which, as far as profession is concerned, is eminently Christian, that the portals of those glorious structures, the Abbey of Westminster and the Cathedral of St. Paul, are closed to any whom curiosity might prompt to enter, or devotion induce to remain, in order that as profitable exhibitions they may swell the revenues of the most grovelling and sordid priesthood in the universe.


said, the Mover and Seconder of the Resolution wished the House to believe that they had no desire to destroy the Sunday as a day of rest, but to preserve a portion of it for rest, and set apart the remainder for recreation and amusement. Now he (Mr. Crossley) should be most unwilling either to maintain or to enact any laws for compelling people to attend Divine worship; but it was quite another thing to destroy a day of rest; and he feared that if once they begun thus to divide the day, and appropriate one part to worship and the other to amusement, the consequence would be to divide the people, and whilst some were taking rest and recreation, to keep the others at work, and the sanctity of the day would soon be entirely lost. They would soon have the same thing here as in France and in other continental countries, where the weaver worked at his loom, the smith at his anvil, and the shopkeeper attended behind his counter on the Sunday as on every other day. When he was last in Paris, he went to the ambassadors' chapel. Outside, the masons and joiners were at work, carts laden with stone traversed the streets, and he could scarcely hear the service for the noise made by a blacksmith's hammer. This was what Sunday amusements had brought them to in France. During the recess he had visited the United States, and had had opportunities of studying both phases of the question. In the free States of the Union, where Sunday was strictly observed as a day of rest, not a cab was to be found on a stand, omnibuses ceased to ply through the streets, the gin-palaces were closed, and the noise of the shuttle and the hammer was not to be heard. There was no State Church there, but the religious feeling of the country adopted the principle that the Sabbath was a day of rest. But what was the state of things in the slave States of the south, in New Orleans for instance? There Sunday was not treated as a day of rest, and the result was, that a totally different state of society was to be found; the theatres and other places of amusement were open, and the slaves were compelled to work every day of the week. The busy occupations of life were carried on as usual, and there was no interval or relaxation in the daily continued toil of the labourer, down went the rest day where public amusements were permitted on the Sunday. But what he wanted to know from the supporters of the Resolution was, why they treated Sunday as the only day of recreation and amusement for the working classes? Why not give them a portion of time for these purposes during the other six days of the week? Much had been said about factory hands, and how badly they were off; but there was no comparison between them and the working classes of London; for the fact was, that in every factory throughout the country the people had a holiday once a week, and did not go to work from two o'clock on Saturdays until the Monday morning following; in addition to which they had six days' holiday in the course of the year. In his conscience he believed it would be a dark day for England if ever she began to trifle with the grand principle of a rest day; and so thinking, and regarding it as a poor and miserable pretence to say that part of it should be given to recreation and amusement, and part of it to rest, he should give his most decided opposition to the Motion.


* said, he was well aware that the views he had formerly expressed, and which he still entertained, were not likely as yet to command the sanction of a Parliamentary majority. He knew, however, that it was the practice of the House to listen with forbearance, and even with respect, to any fair and temperate statement of opinions honestly held. Great stress had been laid upon the expression of public feeling which had taken place against this Motion. He would not deny that some public feeling had been called forth, but let the House look at the facts. The measure and test of the popularity or unpopularity of questions was the number of petitions and signatures presented to that House. Now, what had been the number brought forward on this question? Up to that day the report of the Committee on Public Petitions stated that the signatures to petitions against the Motion did not exceed 38,000. They might fairly assume that the petitions presented that day would not increase the numbers by more than 100,000. The House would recollect that the great majority of these petitions, coming as they did from small rural parishes, were signed by but few persons a-piece. But, admitting that petitions with 150,000 signatures had been sent in, let the House compare that with the number of petitions which had been repeatedly presented whenever any great constitutional or administrative question stirred the mind and heart of the country. In the year 1837, when the church-rate agitation took place, not less than 600,000 signatures were attached to petitions sent in to that House praying for relief from church-rates. It was right to consider, also, by what means these 150,000 signatures had been obtained. He regretted to say there was not the slightest doubt that the great majority of the clergy, although not all nor the ablest of that body, entertained strong opinions against the Motion before the House. There were in orders not less than 30,000 ministers of all denominations. If only half of them exercised the influence which their position gave them with their congregations, the total would hardly give ten signatures to every petition. The question had been agitated in pulpits, and public meetings had been held, where, permit him to say, the objects of those who supported this Motion were greatly misrepresented. In almost every congregation numerous signatures could be obtained to any petition brought forward and recommended by the minister, and he knew of one case, and had heard of more, where requests had been made to the congregation from the pulpit to sign a petition left for that purpose in the vestry. Nor was it to be forgotten that those who opposed what was called the Sunday opening of places of recreation on the broad question of religious principle were equally interested in this question, whether they resided in town or country. On the other hand, few provincial towns had museums and galleries of art, and in the rural districts there were none, so that those who were favourable to the opening of these institutions had not the same inducement to exert themselves in favour of this Motion. Thus, while on the one side the movement in opposition to this Motion extended over the whole area of England, on the other hand, the movement in its favour was mainly confined to the metropolis. Upon the one side there was an organised movement, conducted by a powerful and influential body; while on the other there were only some scattered and spontaneous demonstrations of popular sentiment. In estimating the force of public opinion those circumstances must be considered, and he rather wondered, not that so much public feeling, but that so little, had been excited. Now, what wore the principles upon which the Motion was resisted? It was said that if it were assented to, it would offend the scruples of honest conscientious persons; but if that plea had been allowed the weight which some were anxious to give it he feared the world would have stood still long ago. There was scarcely a reform upon any subject, political, social, or ecclesiastical, which had not hurt—deeply hurt—the feelings of many estimable persons. But the question was, not whether offence would be given, but whether there was reasonable cause for the existence of such a feeling. He could well understand a man entertaining a strong and conscientious conviction that it was an act of impiety to enter a place of amusement upon a Sunday, and if any attempt were made to compel him to do so against his conscience, he (Lord Stanley) could understand him offering every resistance in his power. But that was not the matter in dispute. He apprehended the object of the Resolution before the House was not to ask for liberty to stay away from the British Museum or the National Gallery on Sunday; that they had already. The opponents of the Resolution asked not to be allowed to keep the seventh day in their own way, but to have power placed in their hands to compel all others to do the same. In doing that, he believed they mistook not only the theory of Government, but the nature of a religious duty. In dealing between man and man, as individuals, every individual citizen was of necessity held responsible for the acts of the community of which he was a member. For instance, England being at war with Russia, every Englishman was a sharer in that war, whether he approved it or not. Such arrangements were inevitably incidental to the imperfection of human justice, but they could not extend to the relations subsisting between the individual man and a higher power. Those relations were, by the very nature of the case, personal and not social. In foro conscience each man must answer for himself. Any attempt to force our own views upon others was in reality not to strengthen but to destroy their consciences. He dwelt on this, because half the social injustice committed, half the misery endured on earth, arose out of the manner in which a large proportion of mankind, in all ages and countries, had reasoned on this subject. They argued thus:—"I think this or that act wrong; therefore my neighbour ought to think it wrong. I cannot control his thoughts, but I can and will control his acts, and I will make him act as though he agreed with me." What were the fruits of that principle? Oppression on the part of the strong, hypocrisy in the timid, persecution undergone by the bold and honest, discredit brought on the name of religion itself. He denied the right of that House, or any earthly tribunal or legislature, to prescribe the relations which should exist between man and the Supreme Being. Law existed for the purpose of enforcing duties between man and man—all other duties were cognizable by conscience alone. If it were a religious duty—which he could not admit it to be—not to enter museums on a Sunday, even then he denied the right of the law to enforce it. But was it a duty to abstain from so doing? Some argued that the fourth commandment was still binding upon us; but, if that were so, it should be accepted strictly, and in its literal interpretation. In that case they were bound to observe as sacred, not one day in seven, but the seventh day, as originally enjoined. Even in dealing with human law—and much more in the case of that which they deemed divine—they must not take one half and reject the other. But it was contended that the day had been changed. By what authority? The written documents which alone Protestant Europe received as of authority gave no sanction as to the ascetic observance of the first day of the week. He would say then, "Respect Sunday as a valuable and venerable institution, but do not assign to it a higher authority than it can rightly claim." There was much upon which he might touch in connection with that point, but which it would be hardly proper in that place to discuss, but it would be easy to show that the rigorous ascetism of modern times was unknown until about two centuries ago. It could be shown that neither the early fathers of the Christian Church, nor the first founders of Protestantism, nor any continental Protestant nation, ever dreamt of there being harm or wrong in visiting objects of science or works of art on that day. Luther had said— If anywhere the day is made holy for the mere day's sake—if anywhere any one sets up its observance on a Jewish foundation, then I order you to work on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to do anything that shall reprove this encroachment on Christian liberty. Among the divines of the Church of England the name of Paley was eminently distinguished, and he said— Cessation upon Sunday from labour, beyond the time of attendance upon public worship, is not intimated in any passage of the New Testament;" and again, "The resting on that day from our employments, longer than we are detained from them by attendance upon religious worship, is, to Christians, an ordinance of human institution. If he might quote from one whom it was to him a pleasure to mention in that House, and whom he had once personally known—one in whom the deepest reverence for religion was blended with no common intellectual energy, and with a force of character which commanded not only admiration but awe—one whose life was labour, to whom self-interest was unknown, and who seemed to have no pleasure except in the discharge of duty—if he (Lord Stanley) might name Dr. Arnold of Rugby, his testimony would not be wanting— Sunday should be a day of greater leisure than other days, and of the suspension, as far as may be, of the common business of life; but then I should have much greater indulgence on a Sunday, and if the railway enables people in great towns to get out into the country on a Sunday, I should think it a great good. A singular but popular argument which had been much used against the Motion now before the House was, that it would introduce a Popish Sunday. Was it Popish to plead for freedom of conscience, and claim right of private judgment? Was it Popish to follow the great reformers—to reject tradition, and to rest solely on that written word which Europe accepted as divine? He had dwelt longer than he perhaps ought to have done upon the religious question, but he had done so because the social plea appeared merely to be put forward as an outwork to cover the main defence. One hon. Member had argued that to relax observance of the Sabbath would be to convert it into a working day. From that he (Lord Stanley) dissented, because there was a wide difference between opening places of national amusement and allowing trade. Upon social grounds a national holiday was desirable. The experience of all nations and ages proved that; and on social grounds he thought the State had a right to enforce the day of rest. He felt that so strongly that he had supported, and would again support, a Bill for the suppression of needless Sunday traffic. The details of that Bill of last year might have been faulty, but he held its principle to be sound. As for this Resolution, he took it as it stood on the Votes, and could not find in it anything which either directly or indirectly gave the slightest sanction to Sunday trading. If the hon. Member who had made the Motion had so worded it as to make it apply to any private institution or establishment whatever, he would no doubt have opened the door for the admission of a most complicated and difficult question; but he had carefully abstained from doing so. The Resolution, in the form in which it was submitted to the House, dealt with Government institutions only, with institutions which, supported by the national Exchequer, were freely open to all. The question, of trade, therefore, was no element in the consideration of this case; and, admitting its difficulty, he was glad that it had been excluded. But turning from that part of the question, was it true that in England the labouring classes were so entirely dependent on their employers that their only security from labour on the day of rest lay in legislative restrictions? The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Crossley)—himself an employer—seemed to think so; but, with all his experience of labour here, he was driven to look for an illustration among the negro slaves of the southern States of America. Had not some events occurred in the manufacturing districts, within the last two years, which might show him that the operatives were not absolutely at the mercy of their employers? But let them look at London. No man who knew anything of the state of London could fail to perceive the progress that had been made by the early-closing movement. Did the success that had attended that movement show that there was either the power or the will in the employers to invade the liberty or encroach on the enjoyment of the persons in their employment? There was no obligation of law, no custom of social life, no observance of religion which compelled men to close their shops at a stated hour; yet it had been done in deference to the feelings and wishes of the employed, and by means of the good sense and humanity of the employer. Another hon. Member who had spoken in the course of the debate viewed the Resolution with alarm, lest it might empty the Sunday-schools. If such a result should follow it would, no doubt, be a matter of regret, but they should not fall into the error of supposing that the opening of the British Museum would have any such ruinous effect on the schools. A walk in the fields was more attractive to children than a visit to any museum or gallery, and as yet they had not carried their zeal for Sunday-schools to the point of forbidding men to walk out. Sunday-schools, he would admit, were very useful-institutions, yet he had known instances where their labours were carried to a length which was undesirable, as tending to defeat the very object which those establishments had been founded to promote. He had known Sunday-schools where children of very tender years were compelled to undergo six hours' teaching—six hours of mental effort and bodily confinement—church included—a practice not very likely to give a taste for religion. If the effect of opening the Museum and the National Gallery should be to abridge the hours of study in such of the Sunday-schools as already made too large exactions on the time and attention of the attendants, the evil would not be of such magnitude that it might not be endured. Another plea addressed to moderate men was, "Was it worth while for the sake of so small again to disturb the public mind and unsettle the entire nation?" If the whole question at issue were merely the opening of one or two institutions, he would admit that the object was scarcely worth the effort it cost; but this was not simply a question of maintaining new privileges—it was rather one of keeping those which the public already possessed. There was no argument against the opening of the Museum which did not apply with equal force to excursion trains, and which, urged to its legitimate limits, would not go to the closing of places of refreshment, the stopping of omnibuses, and the laying of an embargo on river steamers. This city was from east to west six miles across, and a man living in the centre could not take his family into the country except by employing some cheap public conveyance. On what pretext of fair play or common humanity could they shut up in Shoreditch or Bethnal Green on a Sunday the thousands who populated those districts, when they knew that every man who had a sick child would hasten, let the day of the week be what it might, to remove it from the smoke and filth of London to the pure, fresh breezes of the country? He did not wish to raise the cry of "one law for the rich and another for the poor;" but if this was the spirit in which the House of Commons was going to legislate for the country that cry, depend upon it, would be raised sooner or later, and in tones louder than had yet been heard. Another argument against the Resolution was, that it would impose compulsory labour on the Government officials. He could not very well understand the force of this objection, for they had no particular tenderness for the police, to whom Sunday was a day of labour, and not much sympathy for the clerks in the Post Office. But the difficulty, such as it was, might be evaded by two methods. It would be easy to exempt, with proportionate deductions, those who had a conscientious objection to work on Sundays—he did not believe the number would be very great; and, on the other hand, it would be quite practicable so to arrange the relays of the service that no official should be employed to superintend any public building on more than one Sunday out of three or four. With regard to the objection that this measure would interfere with religious worship, he did not believe that it would have any such operation. He would not dwell upon the fact that a large majority of the working men in this metropolis did not attend any place of worship whatever; and that if they should be disposed to do so, there would not be churches enough to hold them. He would not dwell on that, for the state of things which it indicated might only be temporary, although it did seem hard to say that one generation should be left to pass their Sunday in the pothouse in order that the next generation may have rather less inducement to stay away from church. But they would do well to remember that an entire day passed in mental attention to abstruse subjects was difficult even to the educated, and to the untaught or half-educated impossible. There was time enough on Sunday both for religious worship and for innocent recreation. There need not be any competition between the Church and the Museum. He hoped that between the Museum and the public-house there would be much competition. He did not expect that the Resolution would command a large amount of support in that House; but of this they might be assured, that if they legislated in their present temper—if they continued old restrictions and created new ones, they would make religion unpopular, and throw back education. The clergy would gain nothing—the people would lose much; but one class, he admitted, would thank them for their efforts. They would have swelled the profits and gladdened the hearts of every brewer, distiller, and publican in the United Kingdom.


* said, he wished to recall the attention of the House to the exact import of the question that was then before them. They were asked, as the representatives of the people, on their own responsibility, to do an act by making an order with regard to Public Institutions and public servants; and it was for the House to consider whether what they were asked to do would be consistent with their own sense of duty, or with the Christian character of the nation. Now, for his part, he did not recollect any question on which, during so short a time, so much real, genuine, deep, public feeling had been manifested as on this; and he looked to the votes of the representatives of the people to-night to decide whether he or the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) drew the proper inference from the state of the petitions. He (Mr. Napier) quite admitted the gravity of the question. They were asked tonight to tamper with an institution which the noble Lord himself admitted to be "one of the most venerable and valuable in the country." They were asked to reconstruct the mode of observing the Lord's day; and let them remember this, if once they took this step, they never could retrace it. If he (Mr. Napier) and those who agreed with him were right in their apprehension, that the present Motion was but a beginning, and that it would lead step by step to the ultimate desecration of the Lord's day (and the noble Lord himself would admit that they might be right in that apprehension), then the adoption of the Resolution would put in peril this most venerable and valuable institution, with which the interests of man were essentially and inseparably united. He (Mr. Napier) had no reason to complain of the manner in which the Motion had been brought forward; and he did not desire to do so. It was temperately and fairly submitted to the House for its decision. Let the question, as it was brought forward, be argued out and out.

The Motion was an experiment; and it asked first to open certain public institutions after Divine service. The movement had therefore included the opening of the Crystal Palace, but that was for the present abandoned. There was nothing he disliked so much as small and insidious beginnings. Poison might, by slow degrees, effect murder as effectually as the knife of the assassin. The concession asked in this instance might apparently be small; but it would compromise the principle, and ultimately undermine the sacredness of the Lord's day. It was said, that the throwing open of these institutions would lead to the moral and intellectual improvement of the people, which in one limited aspect was plausible and popular; but there were those who, with more thoughtful and comprehensive views, believed that it would lead in the end to exactly the contrary result, and it was the duty of the House to-night, to judge which was the more probable and reasonable inference.

Then what was the fair probability in the case, and what was the result which experience would anticipate? Suppose the House began by opening the British Museum and the other places specified in the Resolution. What would naturally follow? The noble Lord said, that large masses of the people did not attend public worship, and had no religious bent. By opening these places, therefore, such persons would, under the sanction of Parliament, be attracted in numbers for the purposes of mere amusement. But would that be no temptation to open private exhibitions, to make profit of this loose crowd of people? Would not private exhibitions, in fact, increase and multiply under the circumstances? And, then, would not other places of public amusement be soon opened? And, then, would it not come to pass that theatres would be thrown open, too, on the Sunday evening? How could they stop the opening of theatres in the evening, when the people might say the services of the day were over, and that then was the proper time for recreation and amusement? They would thus have public exhibitions, private exhibitions, and theatrical amusements, all on the Sabbath; and this under the implied sanction of the House of Commons. But would it stop there? Would not the man who preferred gain to religion, or even to amusement, take advantage of the example thus; set him by the House of Commons, and open his shop on the Sabbath? And one shop open, where would the fatal desecration stop? What did the noble Lord himself say on this subject? On this subject he (Mr. Napier) would appeal from Philip; to Philip—from the noble Lord of to-night to the noble Lord of the last Session. In the debate on the Sunday Trading Bill of the last Session the noble Lord said— He was opposed to any compulsory enforcement of what was called the sanctity of the Sabbath day; but in the present case they were asked, not to enforce any religious observance, but to protect a national right—they were asked to protect ninety-nine men in a hundred who were anxious to close their shops on the Sunday, against one man in a hundred who wished to open his shop on the Sunday. In a large town, where shops were contiguous to one another, the pressure of competition was so urgent on the shopkeeper, that it became practically impossible for one tradesman to close his shop on Sunday, except at a great loss, when his neighbour in the same line of business kept his open."—[3 Hansard, cxxxviij. 1919.] If the effect of such a Motion as this would be to establish places of amusement on the Sunday for all the loose population not attending public worship on that day, the Legislature itself setting the example of such a proceeding, how could they find fault with the proprietors of private exhibitions if they took advantage of the movements of that population seeking for places of amusement—and thereupon opened their exhibitions? And if the Legislature thus encouraged the pursuit of pleasure on the Lord's day, how could they discourage the pursuit of gain? And was it not obvious that if once the principle was admitted that pleasure and gain might be followed, conscientious men would be placed in the dilemma of putting up with the loss of business they would sustain by a strict observance of the Sabbath, or of I allowing their own shops to be opened? The proposal before the House was calculated to put a temptation in the way of all I parties which would, by degrees, break down the sacredness of the Sabbath. He (Mr. Napier) was not for making the Sabbath a day of gloom; far from it. He thought it ought to be a day of Christian cheerfulness and happiness; but he thought that cheerfulness and happiness would be best promoted by its observance as a day of sacred rest. So much for the probabilities of the case as regarded the Motion.

Next, what did experience say on this question? The hon. Member (Sir J. Walmsley) asked, as he did last year, whether the British workman should be placed in a worse position than the workman of the Continent? And he stated that the continental workman had more taste, because he had an opportunity of seeing works of art on Sunday, which the English workman had not; the museums and public institutions being open on the Continent on that day, but closed in England. That course of argument went the length of intimating that in this country they were to anticipate the establishment of a continental Sunday. Was England prepared to accept that? They were, he believed, almost all agreed on certain points—for instance, that the Sabbath should be a day of rest—and of sacred rest. He did not believe the object of those who supported this Resolution was to destroy the sacredness of the Sunday; and, on the other hand, he was sure that the opponents of the measure had not such gloomy or austere purposes as were attributed to them. He believed that on either side they were too prone to throw out extreme suggestions; but the true question to be decided was, as to the tendency and consequences of the Resolution if adopted. They were all agreed that there ought to be a cessation of labour on the Lord's day, as far as was practicable for the working classes; and that all persons should have the opportunity of employing the Sunday in a manner the best calculated to promote their religious and spiritual welfare. He (Mr. Napier) would show the House that to pass the Resolution, might tend to deprive the workman of that regulated cessation from the daily toil of the week, and to impede the moral and religious advancement of all classes of the community. He would show from the experience of other countries, that it was so. He would call the attention of the House, to what a traveller during the armistice in 1802, had said of the manner in which the Sabbath was observed in Paris. He said that— In Paris the Sabbath can only be considered as a day of dissipation to the lovers of gaiety, and a day of unusual profit to the man of trade. And again, a more modern traveller, Mr. Laing, in his notes on the Pilgrimage to Trèves, spoke of the Christian observance of Sunday as— The application of principle to practice by a whole people. It is the working of the religions sense and knowledge upon their habits; it is the sacrifice of pleasures, in themselves innocent (and these are the most difficult to be sacrificed), to a higher principle than self-indulgence. Such a population stands on a much higher moral and intellectual step than the population of the Continent. It came to this—if they made Sunday a day of pleasure, it could not be secured as a day of rest; and as it was of primary importance to secure to all classes a day of rest from work, and opportunity for spiritual privilege, he would take his stand fearlessly against the Resolution. They could not separate the opening of the British Museum and such institutions from all the surrounding circumstances; it must be regarded in its connection with all the circumstances and probable results; it was not an isolated question as to the mere visiting of such places; the Resolution itself showed this, for it would not open them during Divine service; but if the result might fairly be supposed to put in peril the sacredness of the holy institution of the Lord's day, they were bound as a Christian Senate, by their allegiance to a higher Power, to give a, decided negative to the Resolution before the House. Let the matter be considered thus:—The noble Lord had urged that such a step as this would promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the people of this country, but he had not referred to any experience to prove it. He (Mr. Napier), however, asked the House to put the argument against the Resolution, based on the probable results which he had suggested, as well as on the experience of other countries—put these in the scale against the noble Lord's expectations on the subject, neither sustained by solid reason nor fortified by facts, and judge which should preponderate.

It had been well observed by the great historian of the Reformation, that there was no country in the world to which true religion was of more vital importance than to England, from her commercial enterprise and manufacturing activity. The argument in favour of the strict observance of the Sabbath in England, derived its peculiar force from the way in which the English workmen were incessantly employed on the week-days, in the great strongholds of manufactures and trade in their country. Was it not remarkable, however, that the individuals who advocated the encroachment on the Lord's day, did not ask that one moment of the other six days should be given up to the relaxation and intellectual improvement of the working classes? No: they came forward with their Resolution respecting the Sabbath, and with the impulse of the false mother, they said, "Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it." The rights of Mammon for the six days were to be upheld as paramount and sacred, and the day of rest, which God had hallowed, was to be so far sacrificed also to Mammon. They would, by encroaching on the rest and sanctity of the Sabbath, endanger it altogether by destroying its entirety. And he could not help thinking that it would have been much more like a real regard for the working classes, instead of trying to steal a portion of the day of sacred rest, if they had demanded for these classes some portion of the six working days for the purpose of their recreation and of their moral and intellectual improvement. They would take away the sacredness of the Lord's day, and along with it they would take from the labouring classes the true and abiding security which they now had, of at least one day of rest in the seven. This the working classes knew perfectly well and felt thoroughly; and it was the instinct of self-preservation that led many of the people to protest against the Resolution; and their repugnance to the Resolution was a beautiful proof of the secret and even secondary power of truth, and the interest which the people had in the predominance of true religion. It, and it alone, secured their interests in time and eternity.

The hon. Member, when he brought on his Motion last year, quoted the words of our blessed Lord, that "The Sabbath was made for man;" and then argued from that, as if man might do what he liked with the Sabbath, and make it a day of amusement. True "the Sabbath was made for man." But when? When it was first instituted in Paradise; it was man's first day and God's seventh; and He who made it for man had thus stamped it unequivocally with the impress of a day of spiritual rest. The bodily rest on that day, cessation from ordinary toil or labour, was after all but as means to an end. It was meant to be a day of spiritual privilege for man as made in the image of his God, and was designed to enable man spiritually to commune with his Maker, free from the cares and toils of week-day life. The noble Lord had quoted several authorities as if in favour of the Resolution, and among them the late Dr. Arnold; and he (Mr. Napier), though differing in some points from Dr. Arnold, revered the memory of that generous and good man. But he was not aware that Dr. Arnold's opinion went to the length of the Resolution, nor that he advocated the opening of such places on Sunday. The noble Lord had also quoted the opinion of the great Reformer, Luther, in favour of his views. Luther held some opinions which were not received at present; he held that St. James was not inspired; and he held the doctrine of consubstantiation; but for him and some of his opinions great allowance was to be made. It would indeed have been extraordinary if that eminent man could, all at once, have got rid of all the erroneous opinions that he had at one time entertained. It was therefore, perhaps, not surprising that he might have put forward views respecting the mode of keeping the Sunday, not altogether to be approved, but which were not without their condemnation, in the continental Sundays, to be found in many places. Paley had also been quoted by the noble Lord. Now although no great admirer of the cold and calculating philosophy of Paley, he must say, that while it was true that that learned man had not placed the Sabbath on so high a basis as it deserved, yet he (Paley) was strongly of opinion, and more emphatically in his later years, that the Sabbath ought to be strictly observed as a day for religious exercises and not for amusement. He was, however, surprised to hear the Archbishop of Dublin quoted by the noble Lord as if in favour of the Motion. That right rev. Prelate merely affirmed that the Christian Sunday was not to be kept as the Jewish Sabbath. He (Mr. Napier) well remembered to have heard an admirable and instructive lecture delivered by the Archbishop in the King's Inns in Dublin, on the influence of professional life on character, in which he drew a forcible contrast between the privileges of other professions and that of the medical man, laying much stress on the disadvantages under which the latter class laboured from being necessarily deprived of the benefits of an uninterrupted Sabbath. He might perhaps be allowed to refer to the opinions of high legal authorities on this question. In the first volume of the Parliamentary history 1190, 1191, and also, in Lord Campbell's Lives of the Chief Justices, it was observed that Sir E. Coke gained much applause from his treatment of a flippant and irreverent speech against a Bill for the better keeping of the Sabbath, made by a Member of the name of Sheppard. Sheppard said that— Dies Sabbati was Saturday; that to forbid dancing on Sunday was against the King's Book of Sports; and that he that preferred this Bill was a disturber of the peace and a Puritan. Sir E. Coke said— Whatever hindereth the observation of the sanctification of the Sabbath is against the Scriptures. It is in religion as in other things—if a man goes too much on the right hand, he goes to superstition; if too much on the left, to profaneness and atheism—and take away reverence, you shall never have obedience. Sheppard was expelled as an unworthy Member of the House. One of the most pious and truly good men, and one of the ablest Judges that ever sat upon the bench, Sir Matthew Hale, says, as regards the Sabbath— God Almighty is the Lord of our time, and lends it to us; and as it is right that we should consecrate this part of that time to Him, so I have found, by a strict and diligent observation, that a due observance of the duty of this day has ever had joined to it a blessing in the rest of my time; and the week that had been so begun has been blessed and prosperous to me. And, on the other hand, when I have been negligent of the duties of this day, the rest of the week has been unsuccessful and unhappy to my own secular employment; and this I do not write lightly or inconsiderately, but upon a long and sound observation and experience. The noble Lord had thus adverted to the authority of Luther, Arnold, Whately, and Paley. He might, perhaps, be permitted to quote the judicious Hooker (instar omnium). He said— The moral law requiring a seventh part throughout the age of the whole world to be that way employed, although with us the day be changed in regard of a new revelation, begun by our Saviour Christ, yet the same proportion of time continueth, which was before, because in reference to the benefit of creation and now much more of renovation, thereunto added by Him which was prince of the world to come, we are bound to account the sanctification of one day in seven a duty which God's immutable law doth exact for ever. And are not the Ten Commandments recognised by the reformed Churches as still binding upon Christians? Every man who attended the Divine service of the National Church heard the Ten Commandments read there as an integral part of the moral code of Christianity, and in his response the worshipper, as prescribed by the Liturgy, called upon the Almighty "to incline his heart to keep this law"—the law of a holy Sabbath. Yet, forsooth, after engaging in that solemn exercise, a man was to be told by the House of Commons that he might, in the after part of the same day, nay, almost immediately, join in scenes of public amusement, leading on to further dissipation of time and thoughts, and thus tending to desecrate what he had solemnly desired to sanctify as the day which God had hallowed!

If the Sabbath was made for man, it was also the Lord's day, and these two propositions should be honestly taken together as inseparable instead of being unnaturally and perilously disjoined. The Sabbath was made for man, because it was designed for his spiritual good under every dispensation. Originally instituted in Paradise when God ceased from His works of creation, continued after the Fall, republished under the highly symbolical economy of Judaism, enforced and commented upon by the life and teaching of our blessed Redeemer, who, to guard against Pharisaic formalism or improper latitude, engrafted on the literality of the Divine command, certain gracious and reasonable exceptions, of which "mercy, not sacrifice," was the exponent; and then made perpetual by the example of the Apostles and guides of the primitive Church as the rule for all time; that Divine institution, although different in the mode of observance under different dispensations, had ever but one and the same benign purpose to be carried out, namely, the spiritual well-being of man as an immortal, intelligent, and accountable being. Man was not a mere machine to be worked like a spinning-jenny, and to stop at stated times; but He who knew what was in man, his weaknesses and infirmities, and the trials he had to support in the toilsome journey of life, had secured to him a periodical cessation from his dull round of daily labour—and thus provided an occasion for spiritual privilege and sacred rest. It was a very curious fact that neither morning nor evening was mentioned as regarded the seventh day: thus showing it to be a symbol of the eternal Sabbath. When they were asked as legislators to deal with that sacred institution which, as individuals, they were compelled to admit to their shame, they perhaps did not observe as they ought in their private spheres, and this he did not say in any spirit of Pharisaic presumption, but in a common confession of admitted shortcoming, they were bound, however, in their collective capacity in the Senate to ascend to the very highest standard of duty for the rule to be followed on such an occasion as the present, instead of descending for legislative example to the level of their own shortcomings in private life. It was somewhat remarkable that those who regarded the Sabbath as a mere ecclesiastical arrangement, or as an institution of human policy and convenience, were the very parties who sought to tamper with its integrity and sanctity. That eminent divine, John Owen, on this point happily and truly observed— Take this day off from the basis wherein God hath fixed it, and all human substitutions of anything in the like kind will quickly discover their own vanity. He (Mr. Napier) called on the House to observe how the institution of the Lord's day required, for its complete security, to be religiously preserved against any public encroachment upon its sacredness. Substitutes had been tried, the only effect of which had been to prove that every weakening of the Scriptural basis would encourage and facilitate its desecration. What, then, was the reason why they were now asked to put such sacred interests in peril? It was answered, "The requirements of the population." The advocates of the Motion drew plausible arguments from what in truth was their neglect of the week-day condition of the labouring classes. They thus would inflict upon the Sunday the injurious consequences of their week-day neglect. Those classes were overworked and under-educated. Who, looking at the waste of human life in tender childhood, as well as in its vigour and prime, continually going on in the manufacturing districts, could believe that those classes enjoyed the advantages to which modern improvement in machinery and better social arrangements reasonably entitled them? Who did not know that, instead of the spirit of social progress interposing benignly to relieve them more and more from the grinding burden of their incessant toil, they and their children had not leisure left them for occasional recreation and self-improvement, and hence this plausible demand for a portion of the Lord's day, to which, if the House imprudently yielded, then that greatest blessing ever granted to man, would be gradually undermined and finally swept away. Let the Legislature rather endeavour to promote the sanitary improvement, the Christian education, and the rational week-day recreation of the people, providing, as far as possible, that each family might have the decencies and comforts of Christian civilised life, and, then, with the Divine blessing, they might expect to have a happy and a Christian population, forming a nation's true strength. This would afford a legitimate sphere for the energetic activity and the laudable ambition of a Christian Senate, instead of their seeking to encroach, by measures like the present, upon the sanctity and security of the blessed and hallowed Sabbath.

With regard to the payment of wages to the working classes, it might be regulated in a different way from that at present in use. He remembered being very much struck on a Saturday evening, seeing the number of poor people with their little children at midnight, making their purchases; they had not received their wages until late at night, and were buying their little stock of provisions for the following day. But that was a question which did not require the Lord's day to be encroached upon under the sanction of the House. The question rather was, whether having six days at their command for all secular purposes, they were so justified in using these days as to require them to interfere with the sabbath rest of the people? He thought, on the contrary, that if they were to counteract the effects of overstrained competition—to give time to the working classes for reasonable recreation, to pay their wages at a proper time, and, in addition, to provide suitable church accommodation and education for them, they would have a happy state of things, and one far superior, even in a temporal point of view, to that which would follow the adoption of the Motion. England, upon this question of the observance of the Sabbath, should set an example to the world—she was the model nation; and, looking at the question merely in a commercial point, it was remarkable that the people most famous for their strict observance of a Sabbath, were also the most noted for their commercial pursuits, enterprise, and energy—he meant the people of this country, and of the United States; and so far from suffering in commerce from keeping up a day of rest in seven, it proved an advantage. Commerce depended on the credit, the good faith, and the moral character of a people, of which the observance of a Sabbath was one of the securities. But, again, look at the effect the adoption of the Motion would have, in the end, upon wages. They all knew that the amount of wages depended upon the competition for labour. An addition to the number of working days would virtually have the effect of increasing the amount of labourers, and reducing the wages of daily labour. He had heard of working men who went over to Paris and were engaged at the Exhibition, carrying with them English habits with regard to the Sabbath, that they received as much for six days' work as the Parisian workmen got for the seven days.

He regarded the Sabbath as one of the chief national and Christian institutions. He believed that the constitution of the country had adopted it; but he admitted, while they provided opportunity for all men to enjoy the rest and privilege of the Lord's day, that they were not called upon to enforce by legislation any particular course of observance upon any man. But if they were not to legislate, they were the more bound to set an example which ought to be followed, and to give every encouragement to what they believed to be a sacred duty. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had spoken of those opposed to this Resolution as being bound to deal with excursion trains on Sundays; and another hon. Member had talked of its being necessary also to deal with clubs. He (Mr. Napier) would say, speaking for himself as a matter of opinion, that all that state of things was wrong; it enabled the classes below to point to the example of those above, in a way which gave a sanction to the deviations which were condemned; it was a most serious responsibility to incur, and he must frankly admit, that if the humbler classes were admonished to keep the Sabbath in a becoming way, it was the more incumbent on the higher classes to set them the example, by keeping it also themselves. These were matters, however, on which, though they might humbly offer their individual opinion, it was not within their province to coerce others. But every man in that House was then called upon, on the Motion, to act for the good of the whole people, as a responsible unit in that assembly; and they ought not, by their own conduct in reference to public places, to give public sanction to a measure which tended to break down or weaken the barriers which protected the day of sacred rest. They were told that a prejudice had been got up upon this subject by the clergy. He believed that such was not the case; but that the opposition made to the Resolution sprang from the deep-seated, settled conviction of the people themselves; and he thanked God for its exhibition as a great proof of the genuine religious strength and spirit of the community. How many of them associated with the Lord's day their happiest hours on earth, and their brightest hopes hereafter! The shadow of creation might at first have fallen upon the Sabbath; but the light of redemption now shone upon it, and the beams of the descending Spirit illuminated it. It was a day which God had associated with the work of creation ended; with the greater work of redemption finished; with the work of the Spirit begun. It was the day on which the Redeemer rose from the grave, and the Comforter came down from heaven; it was therefore the Lord's day, on which they should rejoice and be glad—the day divinely appointed, apostolically appropriated for public worship and for common prayer, sacramental communion, charity, and mercy. The record of Scripture and the testimony of tradition alike accredited its sanctity as the Sabbath of all who professed and called themselves Christians. It was made for man, it was his birthright; it was given to man that he might retire from the cares and the labours, and the turmoil of the world, to enjoy the blessing of high and holy communion with his God; but he warned the House and the country, that, if by one false step they parted with their birthright, they could no longer preserve the blessing.


said, that in several of the German States, and especially in Mecklenburgh Schwerin, there were at this moment persecutions carried on against certain Christian sects, particularly the Baptists, who were in favour of a strict observance of the Sabbath; while it appeared that in our own country there was a powerful organisation for the more strict observance of that day, as was evidenced by the nature and the number of petitions which had been presented against the Resolution. He admitted that the House was bound to listen with respect to petitions; but the difficulty in the present case was, that the petitions were mostly clerical and came from ministers of religion and their congregations. He noticed the absence in this movement of the highly educated and scientific part of the community. There was, indeed, evidence that scientific persons did not wish such an observance of the Sabbath as was sought for by the petitions. Take the case of the Zoological Society, of the council of which Sir Benjamin Brodie was chairman, and Professor Owen an active member. That society opened its gardens to members and their friends on Sunday afternoons. It was the same at the Botanic Gardens in the Regent's Park. He had seen prelates of the Church of England and other eminent persons walking there on Sunday afternoons. The strict observance of the Sabbath by the Jews had been insisted on; but he remembered an instance of the mildness with which even Jews now treated the observance of the Sabbath. He recollected Baron Goldsmid and the Bishop of Winchester—who were both members of the council of the Botanic Society, being present at one of the meetings of the council at four o'clock on a Saturday, which was a portion of the Jewish Sabbath, and Baron Goldsmid, after the meeting, took the Bishop of Winchester to see his conservatory and flowers at St. John's Lodge. That showed that the Jews themselves in modern times did not observe the Sabbath with extreme strictness. Twelve years ago the subject of the creation of the world in six days, involving rest on the seventh, was seriously discussed at the meeting of the British Association for the advancement of science at York. The gentleman who introduced the subject was Dean Cockburn, the uncle of the present excellent Attorney General. The Gentleman who replied to him was Professor Sedgwick, and he (Mr. Heywood) never heard anything more triumphant than the answer of the Professor to the Dean of York, for he clearly showed that the creation of the world had taken millions and millions of years, and that it was impossible that it should have been created in any number of "sixes" that could be conceived. There was a petition from the Presbytery of the United Seceders of Ayr, who stated that they were "deeply convinced that the Sabbath had existed from the beginning of the world, as a divine institution." Of course they believed that the world was literally created in six days, and that the Sabbath was the seventh day, which followed. Why that was a notion as much passed by, in the opinion of modern scientific men, as the old Ptolemaic idea of the earth being the centre of the solar system. Go to any of the great professors, such as Professor Phillips at Oxford, Professor Sedgwick at Cambridge, or Sir R. Murchison in London, and any of these learned gentlemen would at once declare that there was not the slightest ground for such a theory. It was an erroneous view of the case, derived from the old legends of the Jews, which had been carried down to our own day. Now he was quite certain that many of the worthy persons who had signed petitions against opening the British Museum on Sunday, had done so in the firm and conscientious belief that the narrative of Genesis must be taken literally. He could not attach weight therefore to these opinions, any more than to such an argument as that the institution of the Sabbath had been coeval with the creation of the world, since the researches of physical science had gone far beyond the knowledge of the Puritans, with whom such arguments prevailed. Why, it was no secret that the date of the ancient books of the Pentateuch was now considered to be much later than it had formerly been assumed to be; and that there were great doubts whether Moses had been the writer of the book of Genesis. He would not, however, pursue that subject. It necessarily would make a difference in their legislation, whether they conscientiously believed that a great institution such as the Sabbath had been intended for all mankind, or merely for the Jewish people. He considered for his own part that the Sabbath was a Christian ordinance, and that we ought to keep it in memory of the resurrection of our Saviour; but he should say that after attending Divine service in the morning, it would be perfectly right, both in the sight of God and man, to go and look into a library, or a museum, or a gallery of art, in the afternoon. To the hard-working inhabitants of this great city, living, as he had seen them, in a whole family and sometimes two families, in a single room—especially on Sunday, when the men could not go out to work, it would be a great relief that they should have admission to places of innocent recreation, instead of being obliged to resort to the beer-shop or the gin-palace. The Census of 1851 showed that out of 2,000,000 inhabitants of the metropolis, only 500,000 attended any places of worship at all. In Liverpool, only 70,000 persons, including a large number of children, attended any places of worship, and 150,000 attended no places of worship. But those who did not go to church or chapel, although they might be of the class of non-electors, ought not to be disregarded by the House of Commons, and he thought that the House would do well if they allowed all classes to have access on Sunday afternoon to museums and galleries of art. He should, therefore, support the Motion; for he believed the honour and the character of that House were involved in it. Such Motions ought not to be again and again rejected as they had been; at least the House should grant an inquiry, and might settle the question by a satisfactory compromise. His own opinion decidedly was, that to open the British Museum and National Gallery upon Sunday afternoon would have a civilising and humanising effect on the people. There was no reason to run into extremes—to desecrate the Sabbath, or to keep it with Puritanic rigour. The Resolution before the House avoided both these extremes, and therefore he should vote for it with pleasure.


hoped the House would allow him to take part in the discussion, and state the opinion which he had formed against the Motion. He could not come to the conclusion that there was no positive law binding upon them to observe the seventh day, and with the exception of the hon. Member who had last spoken, had heard no argument from any hon. Member to deny the existence of this law. It had been suggested, indeed, that the Sabbath had not now the same degree of sanctity over the Christian world which formerly attached to it. But that was a view which the Legislature and the people of this country had never taken, and a view for which no sound reason could be given. The institution of the Sabbath took place long anterior to the Mosaic law, and was of far higher import. The commandment was given in a manner wholly different from that in which the ceremonial law was promulgated; and we had the highest authority for saying that the Sabbath was made, not for the Jews alone, but for men of all countries, and in all times. But according to the noble Lord (the Member for King's Lynn), there was one argument which he had never heard answered—that if the Sabbath was now possessed of the binding force claimed for it, how could the alteration from one day to another be defended? The noble Lord might have derived a reply to that question from the conformation of the earth, and the difference of day and night in different parts of the globe. The essence of the commandment was, that there should be a seventh day kept holy; but the mode in which the commandment might be observed must, from the nature of things, be different in different quarters of the world. What was the Resolution before the House? It involved two propositions—first, that those things which would promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the people would be a proper occupation for the Sabbath, and should be sanctioned by the Legislature; and, second, that the opening of the British Museum and National Gallery would have that effect. He challenged the first proposition. Nothing could promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the people more than the secular education imparted in schools and colleges. Were they prepared to say that schools and colleges should be opened on Sunday? Professions and many kinds of skilled trades promoted the moral and intellectual improvement of those who practised them. Were they prepared to say that the practice of professions and skilled trades was a proper occupation for the Sabbath? He might go further, and say, that among the objects for which this House assembled, none were more honourable than those which occupied its attention, when it met to consult upon matters promoting the moral and intellectual welfare of the people. Should this House then meet on Sunday to consider the matters of which he spoke? He could not help remembering a narrative the events of which were coeval with the foundation of the institution of which he was then speaking; there was in that case also a commandment, not relating indeed to a particular day, but relating to a particular fruit. That commandment was also met by an argument, and in what way was that argument brought? Why, that fruit was natural to man, that it was a good fruit for food, and that the partaking of that fruit would contribute to the intellectual improvement of mankind. That was exactly the meaning, and the legitimate adaptation of the Resolution they were then asked to adopt. The right way to look at a commandment of this nature was not to take it in its literal words, but in its spirit and sense. The same false interpretation that took place there is given here; any reasoning that was applied there applies here also. There were other grounds upon which it was attempted to support this Resolution. He had assumed that the statement was real that this change would have the effect attributed to it—that the opening of these institutions on Sunday would really tend to the improvement of the condition of the working classes. He must, however, be allowed to question that point; he doubted entirely whether the simple inspection of works of art would have the necessary effect of advancing the moral culture of the working classes. Was that the case on the Continent? They could hardly, perhaps, hope, even at any future time, to possess such magnificent collections of works of fine art as were assembled in some of the foreign capitals. These collections were open to the public on Sunday. But what was the moral condition of those cities? Were hon. Members prepared to see the moral condition of the people of this country at the same point as the population of Dresden, of Munich, of Brussels, of Antwerp? He denied that necessarily the opening of these institutions would promote the moral and intellectual condition of the people. The next ground for the Resolution argued by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, and with great ability, was this—He said, you are legislating in a manner to constrain the consciences of individuals. Now that, he (Mr. Cairns) entirely denied; they were not legislating directly upon anything at all. He acknowledged that they had no right to dictate in any way whatever to individuals how they should observe the Sabbath; but the fact was, that it was the supporters of the Resolution who were calling upon the House to legislate and to express an opinion as to the mode in which public institutions should be conducted on Sunday. He admitted that the House had no right to legislate to constrain the consciences of the people. But the matter was entirely different when they were called upon to give their assent to a resolution of this kind, which, as had been well said by the hon. Member for the University of Dublin, when once expressed could never be withdrawn. Another argument had been advanced with much plausibility, but not with much sense—namely, the condition of the working classes of the country. They had heard of the fatigues which arose from the extent of their labours during the week—of the want of accommodation in their houses during Sunday—of the temptations to intoxication that beset them. He acknowledged the existence of these unhappy evils, but he denied that this was the best mode of relieving them. If the wretched condition of the dwellings of the working classes drove them to places of intoxication on the Sunday, the way to remedy that was to improve the condition of their dwellings. If labouring men were overworked during the week, the way to relieve them would be by curtailing their labours during the, week. The object they had in view was to give them as much rest during the Sunday as they could; but it was a strange method of giving them rest to engage them in what, under the guise of pleasure, would in reality be a toil. He admitted the propriety of endeavouring to improve the comfort of the dwellings of the working classes, and so to endeavour to lead them to enjoy the pleasures of domestic life; but it appeared to him to be a curious way to make people domestic to induce them to leave their homes altogether on the only day which they had at their own command. The same thing might be said with respect to intoxication. The noble Lord, the Member for King's Lynn, said that there was one class who would be grateful to those who resisted the present Resolution—the brewers, the keepers of pot-houses and gin-palaces. "They," said the noble Lord, "will always take the view you do." But suppose the supporters of the Resolution, could arrive at what they wished, and were to assemble, round the British Museum or the Crystal Palace, 20,000 of the working classes on the Sunday—if that number of people came there, they must have refreshment before they went to their homes. Where, then, would lie the interest of the brewers and the provision merchants? Would there not spring up, round a neighbourhood of that kind, a multitude of pot-houses and gin-palaces? and how would it be possible for a man to keep out of those pot-houses and gin-palaces, whom they had drawn a considerable distance away from his own home? What were they asked to do, as a Legislature, in consenting to the opening of these places? Suppose these places had their sanction as a Legislature, how could they afterwards say to any place of private amusement that it should not be opened on a Sunday? Then if they allowed those persons who made their gain by private places of amusement to open those places on Sunday, how could they restrain persons from making their gain by other means? Then if trading were sanctioned and encouraged on a Sunday, how was it possible for the working classes not to be dragged into labour upon that day? There would be seven days' work for six days' wages. Considering the supply of labour that abounded in this country, the extent of that labour depended upon the ingredients which regulated the quantity of money necessary for the support of working men's families. Now, whether they worked six days in the week or seven, they would only receive the same amount of wages. The working classes had found this out, and had made up their minds on the question; and he (Mr. Cairns) wholly denied the statistics in opposition to this Bill which had been presented to the House. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn had omitted to make any mention of the petitions which had been laid upon the table that day. The noble Lord asked how these petitions were got up, and said they were prepared in country places and small parishes, by country clergymen. But let the House look at what had been taking place in the country and in London during the last fortnight. Working men had abandoned their employment by hundreds in order to take part in meetings held in order to testify their want of sympathy with the Resolution before the House. Let the House remember what took place a few years ago, when there occurred one of the most remarkable circumstances to be found in the history of any country. He referred to the proposition for a prize essay on the Sabbath, when not fewer than 1,000 essays, all written by members of the working classes, were brought out by the competition, and which, judging from those that were published, did credit to the working classes far beyond what any one could have believed possible at any period of time. He hoped the House of Commons would reflect the views that prevailed out of doors on this question—that they would show beyond dispute that, as a branch of the Legislature, they would consent to no measure that would have even the appearance of inducing men to break that which in his opinion was not the least of the commandments. He was at a loss to know where the petitions on the other side were from. It appeared from the last Return, that not a single petition had been laid upon the table in favour of this Resolution for which they were called upon to vote. He had heard of some stray petitions having been presented to the House on this subject, but he should like to know what they were. There could be no doubt that the working classes felt neither interest nor sympathy in favour of the Resolution; neither could there be any doubt of their interest and sympathy in favour of the great institution of the Sabbath.


* wished very briefly to state the grounds on which he intended to vote, in accordance with the declaration he had made at the time of his election. The question before them had been debated with comparatively little bitterness in that House; but he regretted that the agitation out of doors had, on the one hand, given rise to imputations of bigotry, superstition, and hypocrisy; and, on the other, of ungodliness, irreverence, and infidelity. ["No, no!"] He thought that the number of earnest and devoted men who on both sides laboured for the spiritual and temporal benefit of their fellow-creatures ought to have shielded them from such imputations, especially when arguments could be used by both parties that might justify any Christian man in arriving at a conclusion on either side of this question. The authority of the early Church, and of almost all Christian Churches, whether Catholic or Protestant, on the Continent, the sanction of such men as Luther, and that of a series of divines in this country, from the first Reformers down to the archbishops and clergy of the present time, should be sufficient to shelter honest and Christian men from the imputations which were thrown out against them, because they differed from what were probably the views of a majority of that House. He was not, however, going to argue the question theologically, thinking as he did that House a most unfit place for theological discussions. He was himself inclined to concur in the view taken of the strict observance of the Lord's day by most of the petitioners. He individually recognised the Christian duty of keeping the Lord's day holy. The question, however, was not what the Members of that House thought it their duty as individuals to do, but what was right and expedient with regard to enforcing their individual views upon others. The question was, what the people actually were, not what they would wish the people to be. He entirely agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin University in deprecating pushing opinions on either side to extreme conclusions for the sake of logical consistency. The argument of consistency would tell both ways. Those who spoke of consistency ought to consider what the position of that House was with reference to the observance of the Sabbath. Why had the House and the Government dealt in so cowardly a manner with the moderate measure proposed by himself and his noble Friend last year to prevent the most flagrant kinds of unnecessary Sunday trading—to secure to the humble shopkeeper one day of rest in the week, and save him from being compelled by competition either to lose many of his customers, or to give seven days' work for six days' profits? Why, on the ground of consistency, did they not introduce clauses into railway Bills to stop excursion trains on Sunday, and take measures to put an end to the plying of steamers on the river? And why did they every year vote the Estimates for the maintenance of Hampton Court and Kew Gardens, which were open to the public on Sundays? Were these places allowed to be open, because they could not be reached without a great amount of Sunday labour, while the British Museum and the National Gallery would be accessible on foot to the population of the metropolis? The truth was, that they had been looking too much to outward appliances, and thinking too little of what ought to be the real motive for a due observance of the Sabbath. The Member for the University of Dublin had drawn a delightful picture of what the home of a Christian working man might be on a Sunday; but what was the real state of the working classes? Was it wonderful that the toiling millions of this overgrown City, confined as they were—thanks to the long neglect of that House—within a pestilential atmosphere during the week, should seek a refuge from the depressing influence of London air in Sunday excursions? Was it surprising, when its population was increasing at the rate of 50,000 a year, without any adequate provision being made for the religious instruction of the people, that the Sabbath should be desecrated as it was? Was it surprising, when tens of thousands of children were running about the streets in heathen ignorance, utterly uncared for, that churches and chapels should be opened to them in vain? Was it surprising that the gin palaces and public houses, which were opened on Sunday by an Act of the Legislature, to an ignorant and untaught population, should offer greater attractions to them than the temples of the Most High? They had heard much of the unanimity of different Christian sects in opposition to the Motion. Let these bodies consider the handle they would give to the formidably increasing spirit of infidelity of the present day by their union in favour of restriction, when they had by their miserable jealousies effectually prevented the adoption of any general measure for the religious education of the people, for teaching them their duty to God and their duty to their neighbour. He thought they had looked too much to plausible statutes and resolutions and votes of that House to avert from the country the calamities resulting from national sin, instead of making clean the inside of the cup and platter. It was—as those who knew him best could testify—from no indifference to the improvement, least of all the religious improvement, of the people; but because he felt that deeper remedies were required for the deep-seated evils of the country, because he thought that proper religious instruction should be provided for the people, because he thought the better observance of the Lord's day should be the consequence and not the precursor of, much less the substitute for, the evangelisation of the masses, because he wished the House not to stultify itself by sanctioning a certain kind of Sabbath desecration, and then protesting against measures which he regarded as undistinguishable in principle from its former legislation, that he would give his support to the Motion.


* Sir, I can assure the House that, in stating the reasons which induce me to differ from the views of my noble Friend (Viscount Ebrington), it shall be my endeavour to avoid any observations calculated to give offence to the supporters of this Motion. I fully share the satisfaction which has been expressed by my noble Friend, at the general tone of this debate; which, considering the importance of the subject, and the great interest felt in it out of doors, has certainly been conducted in a most dispassionate manner. There is one point in which I am sure that the satisfaction which we feel will be shared by our constituents; namely, that no speaker in favour of the Resolution, from the Mover to the noble Lord who has just sat down, (with the single exception of the hon. Member for North Lancashire) (Mr. Heywood) has hesitated to acknowledge, in terms as strong as any which its opponents could use, the incalculable value and importance to society of the great institution, the outworks of which this Motion invites us to displace and destroy. We cannot fix our eyes too steadily upon the enormous interests which society has in maintaining that inestimable institution; and, whether we look to its physical, political, and economical, or to its moral advantages, we shall find them so great, that, for the sake of either class of benefits, almost any sacrifice of minor objects may well be made. What are the physical and economical advantages? They are, that each seventh day is withdrawn from that arduous labour of body and of brain which would otherwise wear out the physical and mental powers; that man is rescued from his toil for the purpose of refreshing and husbanding his powers, so that every week he may recommence his work with renewed and invigorated energy. This is the physical benefit; and no man can venture to say how much of the successful industry, how much of the wealth, how much even of the greatness of this country, is due to the continual supply of strength which is chiefly maintained by this important institution. But the moral benefit is infinitely greater. The consecration of this day to God withdraws man once a week from the contemplation of secular and earthly things, and invites him, with a call which every man must hear, though all may not regard, to remember his eternal interests—to recollect that he is a spiritual being, with an immortal soul, and that this world, its pleasures, its labours, its objects, and its gains, are not the only things for the sake of which he has been born into the universe. That is the greatest of all the benefits which this institution confers upon man; and its observance has received the sanction of national law in such a manner as to become the main sign, and symbol, and pledge, of public national religion—the solemn testimony in favour of Christianity which the associated body called our country and our nation bears to the world. Who can calculate the influence exercised upon all who come within its sphere, of such a testimony, borne by the public legislation of the country, in favour of higher objects than those to which the mere appetite of man invite him?

But on what foundation docs the regard paid to this institution ultimately rest? Undoubtedly not on our legislation, however important (as I will presently show) that may be; but on the conviction entertained by all Christian people, that there is a higher laws ours which has consecrated this day, and that there is a necessity laid upon all who know that law to obey it. But for that conviction on the part of the religious body of the people, no human law, for setting apart so large a portion of time from ordinary employments, could be maintained for an instant. I discard entirely, as irrelevant to the practical question which we have now to determine, all that has been said about variances of opinion between this and that eminent individual in present or former times, or between this and that Christian body at home or abroad, as to the precise grounds, the exact theory, the ecclesiastical or theological history of this institution. Granted that there are such differences, they all result in the same general testimony to the fact—state it as you will, derive it from what historical source you please—that this obligation, resting upon religious sanction, is imposed as a religious duty; and all ministers of the Christian religion throughout the world, whether Roman Catholics—who place the obligation on ecclesiastical grounds—or members of the Church of England, or of any of the Protestant communities—who regard it as Scriptural and Divine—all agree that it is a moral obligation, resting upon higher grounds than any which can be derived from mere temporal sanction. To whom, then, ought we to appeal in forming a practical judgment on this particular question—whether the change now proposed has or has not a tendency to undermine the institution, to take away its force, to invite men to disregard and neglect it? Surely the appeal lies to the deliberate judgment of those on whose conscientious belief the institution itself rests; to those members of the community who represent the religion of the country. I do not say all, but to the general body; and who can deny that there is a general testimony of all the religious bodies of the country, of the great majority of the religious men of the country, to the belief that if we introduce the innovation now proposed, we shall be removing really valuable outworks from that institution? Let the House take the testimony, rely upon the judgment, of those on whose convictions ultimately the institution itself rests, and not think that this is a mere outcry got up by interested classes, or by ministers of religion on professional grounds. No doubt ministers of religion have been zealous and active in obtaining petitions to this House; but will any one seriously pretend to say, that upon such a question as this, the religious instructors of the people ought to remain passive and silent; that this is a question with which they have no legitimate concern? If they are more active than others, the reason no doubt is, that they know better than others what the interests of religion really are, and how far those interests would be practically affected by the success of the present Motion.

Sir, I have said that this institution rests essentially and fundamentally upon the religious principles and convictions of the people. All, however, admit that civil legislation is necessary to secure to the people the benefits which they derive from it; and the reasons why civil legislation is necessary are important to be borne in mind, that some of the fallacies which have been advanced in support of this Motion may be exposed. Legislation is necessary because, if the law of the land did not interfere, the pressure of competition, the pressure of want, and the pressure of power between man and man, would be so great that, although many might and would resist, others would not, and could not, maintain in their own favour that exemption from the necessity of toil which they are able to do with the assistance of a general law. Persons of minds not absolutely well settled in religion would say, "My neighbour trades—I must, therefore, trade, or I shall be left behind in the race." Then the power of the employer over the poor would come into play. If employers had a right to require labour, how few of the poor could resist, without its being prejudicial to their temporal interests! We could not expect a majority of the employed to withstand that pressure, and the strong arm of the law therefore comes in for their protection. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) admits this protection to be right in principle; he acknowledges it to be a fit subject for legislation; but he thinks there is no danger of any encroachment in this direction: and he appeals to the success of the early-closing movement, and of the movement for a half-holiday on Saturdays, as proofs that masters have no wish to extort undue labour from those whom they employ. But the fallacy is in speaking of masters as a body. Doubtless many masters would abstain from doing so; and many of the employed would submit to real hardships rather than forego their duty and their day of rest; but we cannot say that of all. Most men are the safer for being protected against their superiors, their fellows, and themselves. If we enabled the pressure to be laid on by those who are willing and disposed to use it, no one can say that, because under the present system there is a generous and liberal feeling on the part of a majority of masters, we shall not have too many masters taking advantage of any relaxation to pursue it further, and too many labourers whoso necessities will compel them to comply. But on this point I have a concession from the noble Lord. Talking of the labour of persons employed in the British Museum, with that consideration and liberality which were to be expected from him, the noble Lord said he would not compel any to lose their situations if their consciences led them to refuse to work on a Sunday; but the noble Lord added, there would be very few of them, and if they chose to go away, it would be easy to supply their places. What does that prove? Why, that in the opinion of the noble Lord, at all events, the temptations to Sunday labour, if they were permitted to be held out, would be too strong for the majority of mankind; that if the outworks which now fence them in were removed, the resistance of the labouring population would not, in his view, be so very powerful, so self-supporting, as to be of itself a sufficient safeguard against the irruption of a flood which might sweep away all existing securities for the day of rest. And when we consider the situation of that class who have been more especially the subject of observation in this debate,—how poor many of them are, what families they have to maintain, with what difficulty they eat the bread of care and labour,—I can imagine that much more affecting and more moving arguments might be constructed in favour of the right to be allowed to labour for additional bread on Sunday, than any now offered in favour of recreation and amusement. The moment we displace one inch of ground which labour has gained from Sunday, see what resistance we have to encounter! Only last year, the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord Robert Grosvenor), at the instance of no inconsiderable body of persons engaged in the trade of this metropolis, introduced a Bill which had for its object the restraint of Sunday trading within narrower limits than at present. The noble Member for King's Lynn, and also the noble Lord who spoke last, both thought it right to support that measure: but labour having once got that inch of ground, the attempt to reclaim it led to disturbances; and the Bill was abandoned, under circumstances not creditable to the Legislature. Does not that prove, that if once we remove the landmarks, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to stop the progress of encroachment?

The example of foreign countries has been referred to in the course of this debate; and, though it may not in all respects be in point, something may undoubtedly he learnt from them. I have no wish to make invidious remarks upon the morals of other nations, or to indulge in boastful comparisons between them and ourselves; I would rather, as far as possible, look at what is good in them, and at what is a miss (for the sake of correcting it) in ourselves; but certainly, in the investigation of this particular question, whether relaxations of the kind now proposed would have a tendency to deprive the people of their day of rest, we may reasonably consider how the principle of relaxation works abroad. In France, what do we see on Sunday? Not only are more than half the shops opened, but elections and reviews take place on Sunday; in fact, there is no protection at all for the labourer, no such thing as a day of rest; and that is felt so strongly, that a decided reaction is now taking place, promoted by the Roman Catholic clergy. I recollect that when, some years ago, I visited Rome, I remarked that the manner in which the Sunday was observed at Rome was very much like the way it was observed in England, except, perhaps, that the observance was even more strict. They did not open the Vatican Museum on Sunday; they did not open the picture-galleries; and, though I will not venture to speak positively, I believe that when I was at Florence, at Milan, and at Venice, it was not possible to enter any of the public picture-galleries or museums on Sunday. Wherever the influence of the Christian religion is felt—I care not in what form—in proportion to the influence it exerts, there is a tendency to establish a rule like that we are now asked to dispense with; and wherever it is broken in upon, there is a tendency to take from the people the day of rest, and encroach upon their exemption from labour on that day.

Another argument of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), and a very fallacious one, is the favourite argument of consistency. The noble Lord says—"See what you allow now. How can you justify that without going on and allowing this?" The noble Lord is far too able a man not to know that in all these questions there must always be a debatable ground. We must have a line drawn somewhere. It cannot be drawn with perfect theoretical accuracy; but there is no great practical harm as long as it is so drawn as neither to offend nor corrupt the public conscience. I am not going to justify the theoretical consistency of everything allowed now, nor to say that, abstractedly, I can define the line between things indifferent and things evil; it is naturally different in different countries, according to the habits and the feelings of the people; but, although I do not feel called upon to vindicate the perfect consistency of all that is done, if I can prove that some general principles guide our legislation, I shall be satisfied. The State does not interfere with the sphere of private actions; it leaves men to themselves. They may compel their servants to do ordinary household work; they may take out their carriages if they please; no man judges them for that. The State also declines to interfere where it is impossible, without an inconvenient inquisition, to distinguish between unnecessary labour and works of necessity or charity. For instance, if all travelling were stopped by railways or other conveyances, no man could tell what works of charity and necessity might be prevented. Not long since much public feeling was excited because a lady of eminent rank was unable, on an affecting occasion, to travel in Scotland to visit her parent, and the law, taking notice that such things must occur, has left that matter to private rather than public regulation. Whether this is right or not, whether it is carried too far or not, I do not say; I only want to point out that a reason which is intelligible can be assigned for this state of the law: but that is no reason why we should open public institutions, which do not belong to the sphere of mere private action, and as to which no occasion of necessity or charity can intervene. So as to parks and gardens,—the walking in public or private gardens is not only perfectly innocent, but has a direct and manifest beneficial tendency, without any tendency towards desecration. But when we are asked to go further, and by public authority to open national institutions, and invite people, upon purely secular grounds, to resort to them as places where they may obtain a high intellectual enjoyment, we are asked to take a distinct step towards the secularisation of the day,—to make an encroachment upon the principle of the institution, not only objectionable as an encroachment, but also because it is manifestly incapable of being limited to the particular instances proposed for the first experiment. The hon. Gentleman who made the Motion does not mean so to limit it; he would be prepared to vote next year, if this Resolution were carried, for the opening of the Crystal Palace. The hon. Gentleman near me (Sir J. Shelley) distinctly expressed the same intention. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) also said that this was a very small matter, and avowed that the object was to obtain a larger field.

Before I conclude, I should wish to glance (I will do so but shortly) at two other arguments which have been used in the course of the debate. The first is among the most popular of the noble Lord's arguments; and it has much plausibility. It is, that positive benefit is to be expected from the resort of the people in general, especially of the working classes, to places of intellectual enjoyment. Now I value as highly as the noble Lord does, the utility of mental cultivation of every kind; but I think the noble Lord cannot have meant to assert that the cultivation to be derived from going to museums or picture-galleries is so very important as to be worth any sacrifice of principle. I admit the innocence, the excellence, of that and of every other kind of intellectual improvement; but what is it that constitutes its excellence? Why, its due and proper subordination to moral improvement. The devil has been defined as Intellect without principle. Anything that tends to impede moral for the sake of intellectual improvement is as mischievous as the due cultivation of the intellect is good. The noble Lord also said that the Museum would come into competition only with grosser excitements, and not with religion or with the Church. That is the other argument which I wish to notice. I fear there is a sense in which that proposition is not correct. I will not stop to inquire to what extent it is probable that the attraction of such objects as these would draw away from churches and chapels persons who might otherwise go there; nor, on the other hand, how far it is really likely that the most degraded and vicious portion of society would feel the attraction of such objects at all. But—it is useless for the noble Lord to deny it—if we by public authority, assert in the face of the people, that it is a fit thing to invite the working classes to a place of secular amusement, however refined, or of secular instruction, however excellent, upon a day hitherto consecrated to religion, we shall be putting intellect into competition with religion, and in that way putting the Museum into competition with the Church. It has been said that these pursuits are means of education; so they are: the noble Lord on a former occasion said they might even be a part of religion; so they may, in their places: we know that there are men who can Find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything; but the men who see good in everything are men penetrated with religion. That refers us back again to the religions part of the community. If, then, the religious part of the community are asked whether the changes at which the supporters of this Motion aim are calculated to promote the interests of religion, and whether they desire that those changes shall be accomplished, will not the general, almost the universal reply, from all classes, from the cottage to the throne, be, "No no?" The religious part of the people have other views as to this day, and mere intellectual cultivation has not for them the charm on this which it possesses on other days. There is a higher mode of educating the minds and the consciences of men, of elevating the moral sense of the nation, than the multiplication of any means of intellectual improvement. That mode is, to hold up to them and to keep before them, firmly and consistently, by public authority, a standard of sound moral principle by which they ought to abide. All who have had any experience as to the source and origin of crime throughout this country will tell you, that on the scaffold and in the gaol, hundreds and thousands have attributed their lapse into crime to the original fault of what is popularly called Sabbath-breaking; and all these will readily concur in bearing testimony to the fact, that the law which upholds the institution of the Christian Sabbath dues more to educate and maintain a sound moral sense in a Christian people, than all the museums and picture galleries in the world.


said, that the supporters of this Resolution agreed in asserting that this question ought not to be argued on theological grounds; but he (Mr. Ball) protested against excluding the theological aspect of the question, and objected to treating it as a question of expediency rather than of principle. The command to keep holy the Sabbath was perhaps one of the most ancient of the Divine commands; and this command made the observance of the day obligatory on the State. It was all very well to talk of works of art; but if this Resolution were carried next Session, some people might say, "We do not appreciate statues and paintings—open the playhouses." What answer could they make? If places of public amusement of one kind were opened, why not all others? The number of petitions on the subject exceeded those presented on any other subject. He had that day presented upwards of one hundred. He could not say how many thousands of persons had petitioned, but the petitioners comprised every class in the country. One inevitable effort of the non-observance of the Sunday would be to break up Sunday schools. Thousands of Sunday-school teachers had petitioned against the measure upon this ground; and he was sure Parliament would never legalise the breach of a Divine command.


said, he had no wish to repeat the arguments already used, but he was anxious to say, before the debate closed, that he was disappointed that no Member of the Government had expressed any opinion on this subject. If there was one subject more than another which concerned the well-being of the people, or one which was of more vast importance, it was this; and therefore it was one upon which the Government should, early in the debate, have expressed their views. The House was invited by the Resolution to do a public act for the desecration of what all the country thought, by a binding commandment, they were bound to keep sacred. If the House adopted the Resolution, they would be giving their sanction to the desecration of the Sabbath, and making it a day for working, for recreation, and amusement, instead of a day of rest and devotion.


Sir, I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that, if I have abstained from presenting myself to the House at an earlier moment, it has not been from any desire to undervalue the importance of the present question, but because I thought it move respectful to the House to allow those Members who wished to express their opinions on the subject, to do so before any Member of the Government took part in the debate. It certainly is not my intention to support the Motion of my hon. Friend; but I am afraid the way in which I look at the Motion will neither satisfy those with whom I am about to vote, nor those, certainly, against whom I vote. I attach as much value as any hon. Member to the observance of the Sunday. But I will not repeat the arguments so eloquently expressed by my hon. and learned Friend to my right (Mr. R. Palmer) for the purpose of showing why it is desirable on every account, for intellectual, moral, and physical considerations, that the Sunday should be kept a sacred day. On the other hand, I cannot myself think that the mere opening of these two places of resort would in itself greatly affect the observance of the Sunday. I own I cannot go so far as those who object to this Motion in thinking that the mere admission to the British Museum and the National Gallery would be that sort of the infringement of the sanctity of the Sunday which would justify the alarm expressed, or produce the evil consequences which have been attributed to it. But those who object to the Motion, object to it, not so much for the effects which the particular thing now required might produce, as because they consider it a first step; and undoubtedly that is a consideration well worthy the attention of the House. I would, however, venture to suggest one consideration as well deserving their attention—that when arguing this question, and when hon. Members consider the alternative, whether the bulk of the population of this great metropolis should attend Divine service, or resort to these places of amusement on the Sunday, we ought not to forget that, unfortunately, the places of public worship in this metropolis do not, I fear, afford accommodation but for a very small part of that population. Therefore, by closing these places of amusement, we are not securing that object which many of those who resist the present Motion have so much at heart. On the other hand, concurring with the majority of the House in thinking that it is not expedient to take a step which I must say is not very important in itself, I cannot but say that great exaggeration has been resorted to. With regard to the great moral and intellectual advantages which would be derived from visiting the National Gallery and Museum, it certainly would be a very innocent amusement to those who resorted to them; but I doubt as to any very great moral or intellectual advantage being derived by those who went there; I think an undue stress has been laid on that point. Considering on the one hand, the advantage which, even in the view of those who support the Motion, could be derived from the opening of these places on the Sunday, and, on the other, the great amount of feeling, entitled to the utmost deference on the part of this House, which has been expressed from all parts of the country, I think it would have a very bad effect on the moral sense of the country if this House should set itself in opposition to that feeling, proceeding from such a vast number of persons whose opinions are entitled to respect—for nothing could be worse than that Parliament should appear to be less careful of the moral and religious feelings of the country than the people of the country themselves. I, therefore, shall, undoubtedly, without any hesitation, give my vote against the Motion. An Amendment has been announced, which in its terms prescribes a certain course to the trustees of the British Museum. Now it has not been usual for this House to interfere by directing the conduct of the trustees of that institution, and I humbly submit that the better course would be simply to negative the Motion. The trustees have lately given considerable facilities to persons who visit the Museum on Saturday afternoons. The feeling of the House having, I think, been clearly ascertained, it would be quite sufficient to say aye or no on the question; and it would be better not to vote on an Amendment which affects to interfere with the management of the British Museum. The trustees are perfectly ready to make any arrangements which may be consistent with the order of the institution, for the purpose of giving additional facilities to the public to visit it. That matter had better be left in their hands, and the House should abstain from interfering with them by means of a well-intended Amendment, for well-intended I admit it to be. I, therefore, suggest that the Amendment should be withdrawn, and that the House should vote "Aye" or "No" on the Motion.


said, that there were few men who had made more sacrifices for the interests of the working classes than he had, and it was for that reason that he must vote against the present Motion. He was extremely chary about this question, for he knew there was too great a disposition to rob the working classes of their day of rest, and he feared the passing this Resolution would aid it. He had seen repeated instances where manufacturers, under great pressure, had been tempted to increase their produce by working on the Sunday. He had known that one of the greatest manufacturers in the country had never engaged his workmen without their consent to work on a Sunday if required. It had been said that the movement for early closing had been very readily complied with by the masters, but that was under peculiar circumstances. There had been several years of prosperity, but the case might be very different when a time of adversity came. If that House properly appreciated the advantage to the workman of having the Sunday to himself, it would be very cautious before sanctioning anything that might tend to deprive him of that day.


was very glad to take a hint from the worthy Premier, and would withdraw his Amendment, on the understanding that a pressure would be put on the trustees.


Sir, my reply to the objections which have been urged during the present debate shall be as brief as possible. I agree in the observation of the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth that it has been discussed with much fairness, and I appreciate the compliment of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin upon the good spirit with which it was introduced. It is also satisfactory to observe the change of tone of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. I wish I could compliment him on having taken more solid ground. He argued for the Motion as being innocent in itself, but will vote against it, lest it should lead to evils which no one can foresee. He says this is only the first of a series of steps; that if the wedge be introduced, he knows not where it may stay! May I tell the noble Lord that it will stop whenever it offends the good sense and sound Judgment of the people. Such arguments were used against the repeal of the Corn Laws, the Navigation Laws, and Free Trade—how fallaciously, the results have proved. It was the duty of the Legislature to deal with the question before them according to its merits, and not upon what might or might not be brought forward subsequently, He (Sir J. Walmsley) had been asked what benefits had arisen from the institutions already opened? He answered by pointing to the numbers who already availed themselves thereof; in their sober, orderly, and praiseworthy conduct. Why, he believed at Kew Gardens alone 160,000 had attended on the afternoon of Sunday; and, notwithstanding its distance, at least one-third of that number had visited Hampton Court Palace on that day during twelve months. But fortunately it had not rested here; the example had been more or less followed. A Free Library, open on the afternoon of Sunday, has been established at one of our greatest seats of learning, Oxford, and he held in his hand a paper on this subject, containing the remarks of some leading men of that place once adverse to the opening, in which they say their fears as to its injurious effects had proved groundless; and so far from injury having arisen, that great good had been the result of such opening on the afternoon of Sunday; that the Bishop of Manchester had said he was in favour of such opening on a Sunday evening, and he had reason to believe the Bishop of Oxford entertained similar opinions. He would not refer to the theological arguments which had been used, satisfied the authorities he had used were of themselves a sufficient reply. But he might say he could not concur with the view that we were not called upon to legislate for others; we had legislated—had legislated badly—had closed these institutions at a time when they ought to have been opened; for hon. Members ought to remember that these institutions are national, and as such ought to be open to all. Much had been urged as to the desire to serve the working classes in a spiritual point of view, and some would give them another holiday in the week. On the latter point he would say, that if it were possible, no man would rejoice more than himself; but those who so spoke ought to know it was a delusion, that it depended upon economical questions over which we had no control; and with respect to the spiritual help, did hon. Members think that it would be received either kindly or favourably from those who would exclude them from institutions to which they are as fully entitled as any member of the community? What the working classes required was, to be let alone—not to be interfered with—and especially by men who know nothing of their requirements. He considered he had sufficiently vindicated himself and those who acted with him on this question, from the imputations which had been cast upon them of a desire to infringe on Sunday observance. He knew that great misconception, and, he feared, great prejudice, existed against the Motion he proposed; but he hoped it would ultimately subside. He knew that great numbers of those who would vote adverse to this Motion were not acting in accordance with their convictions, and could the Ballot be introduced on the present occasion, the result would be very different from that which he now anticipated.

Amendment by leave withdrawn. Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 48; Noes, 376: Majority, 328.

List of theAYES.
Biggs, W. Kennedy, T.
Blake, M. J. Layard, A. H.
Bland, L. H. MacEvoy, E.
Brady, J. M'Cann, J.
Brockman, E. D. Maguire, J. F.
Bruce, H. A. Mofiatt, G.
Crook, J. Moore, G. H.
De Vere, S. E. Murrough, J. P.
Devereux, J. T. O'Brien, P.
Dillwyn, L. L. O'Brien, J.
Dunne, M. O'Connell, Capt.
Ebrington, visct. Otway, A. J.
Esmonde, J. Ricardo, S.
Evans, Sir D. L. Roebuck, J. A.
Fortescue, C. S. Scholefield, W.
Fox, W. J. Seymour, W. D.
Gardner, R. Stanley, Lord
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Steel, J.
Goderich, Visct. Sullivan, M.
Gordon, hon. A. Swift, R.
Greene, J. Tancred, H. W.
Grenfell, C. W. Wilkinson, W. A.
Greville, Col. F.
Henchy, D. O'C. TELLERS.
Heywood, J. Walmsley, Sir J.
Higgins, Col. O. Shelley, Sir J.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Baillie, H. J.
Adair, H. E. Baines, rt. hon. M.
Adderley, C. B. Ball, E.
Anderson, Sir J. Bankes, rt. hon. G.
Annesley, Earl of Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.
Antrobus, E. Baring, T.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Barnes, T.
Archdall, Capt. M. Barrow, W. H.
Atherton, W. Bass, M. T.
Bagge, W. Bateson, T.
Bagshaw, J. Baxter, W. E.
Bailey, Sir J. Beckett, W.
Bailey, C. Bell, J.
Bennet, P. Duncan, G.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Duncombe, hon. A.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Duncombe, hon. O.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Dundas, F.
Bignold, Sir S. Dungarvan, Visct.
Black, A. Dunlop, A. M.
Blackburn, P. Dunne, Col.
Blakemore, T. W. B. Du Pre, C. G.
Blandford, Marq. of East, Sir J. B.
Boldero, Col. Egerton, Sir P.
Bond, J. W. M'G. Egerton, E. C.
Booth, Sir R. G. Ellice, E.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Bramley-Moore, J. Emlyn, Visct.
Bramston, T. W. Estcourt, T. H. S.
Brand, hon. H. Euston, Earl of
Brocklehurst, J. Evelyn, W. J.
Brotherton, J. Ewart, J. C.
Brown, H. Ewart, J. C.
Bruce, Major Farnham, E. B.
Buck, L. W. Farrer, J.
Buck, Col. Fellowes, E.
Buckley, Gen. Fenwick, H.
Bunbury, W. B. M'C. Ferguson, Sir R.
Burroughes, H. N. Ferguson, J.
Butler, C. S. Fergusson, Sir J.
Butt, G. M. Filmer, Sir E.
Byng, H. G. H. C. Fitzgerald, W. R. S.
Cabbell, B. B. FitzRoy, rt. hon. H.
Cairns, H. M'C. Floyer, J.
Campbell, Sir A. I. Foley, J. H. H.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Follett, B. S.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Forester, rt. hon. Col.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Forster, C.
Cavendish, hon. G. Franklyn, G. W.
Cayley, E. S. Freestun, Col.
Challis, Ald. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Chambers, M. Galway, Visct.
Chambers, T. George, J.
Chandos, Marq. of Gilpin, Col.
Child, S. Gladstone, rt. hon. W.
Cholmondeley, Lord H. Gladstone, Capt.
Christy, S. Glyn, G. C.
Clay, Sir W. Goddard, A. L.
Clinton, Lord C. P. Gooch, Sir E. S.
Clinton, Lord R. Goodman, Sir G.
Clive, hon. R. W. Gore, W. O.
Cobbold, J. C. Gowrer, hon. F. L.
Cocks, T. S. Graham, Lord M. W.
Cole, hon. H. A. Greaves, E.
Coles, H. B. Greenall, G.
Collier, R. P. Greene, T.
Colvile, C. R. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Crossley, F. Grey, R. W.
Cubitt, Mr. Ald. Grogan, E.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Davies, D. A. S. Guernsey, Lord
Davies, J. L. Guinness, R. S.
Davison, R. Gnrney, J. H.
Deasy, R. Gwyn, H.
Deedes, W. Haddo, Lord
Denison, E. Hadfield, G.
Dent, J. D. Hale, R. B.
Dering, Sir E. Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Hall, Gen.
Dod, J. W. Hamilton, Lord C.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Hamilton, G. A.
Drummond, H. Hamilton, rt. hn. R. C. N.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Hankey, T.
Duff, G. S. Hanmer, Sir J.
Duff, J. Harcourt, Col.
Duke, Sir J. Hardy, G.
Duncan, Visct. Hastie, Alexander
Hastic, Archibald Meux, Sir H.
Headlam, T. E. Miles, W.
Heathcote, G. H. Milligan, R.
Heathcote, Sir W. Mills, T.
Heneage, G. H. W. Milton, Visct.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Michell, W.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Monck, Visct.
Herbert, Sir T. Montgomery, Sir G.
Hervey, Lord A. Moody, C. A.
Hildyard, R. C. Morgan, O.
Hindley, C. Morris, D.
Holford, R. S. Mostyn, hn. T. E. M. L.
Holland, E. Mowbray, J. R.
Horsfall, T. B. Mulgrave, Earl of
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Mullings, J. R.
Hotham, Lord Mundy, W.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Muntz, G. F.
Hughes, W. B. Naas, Lord
Ingham, R. Napier, rt. hon. J.
Jackson, W. Napier, Sir C.
Jermyn, Earl Neeld, J.
Johnstone, J. Newark, Visct.
Johnstone, Sir J. Newdegate, C. N.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Newport, Visct.
Jolliffe, H. H. North, Col.
Jones, Adm. North, F.
Jones, D. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Keating, H. S. Oakes, J. H. P.
Kelly, Sir F. R. Oliveira, B.
Kendall, N. Ossulston, Lord
Ker, D. S. Owen, Sir J.
Kerrison, Sir E. C. Packe, C. W.
Kershaw, J. Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.
King, hon. P. J. L. Palmer, Robert
Kings, J. K. Palmer Roundell
Kingscote, R. N. F. Palmerston, Visct.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Patten, Col. W.
Kirk, W. Peel, General
Knatchbull, W. F. Pellatt, A.
Knox, Col. Pennant, hon. Col.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Percy, hon. J. W.
Lacon, Sir E. Perry, Sir T. E.
Langston, J. H. Phillipps, J. H.
Langston, W. G. Phillimore, J. G.
Langston, H. G. Pigott, F.
Laslett, W. Pinney, W.
Lee, W. Portal, M.
Legh, G. C. Pritchard, J.
Lennox, Lord A. F. Pugh, D.
Leslie, C. P. Reed, J. H.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C. Repton, G. W. J.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Ricardo, O.
Lockhart, A. E. Rice, E. R.
Lockhart, W. Ridley, G.
Long, W. Robartes, T. J. A.
Lovaine, Lord Robertson, P. F.
Luce, T. Rolt, P.
Lushington, C. M. Rushout, G.
Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B. Russell, Lord J.
Macartney, G. Russell, F. W.
Mackie, J. Rust, J.
MacGregor, James Sandars, G.
MacGregor, John Scobell, Capt.
MacTaggart, Sir J. Scott, hon. F.
Maddock, Sir H. Seymer, H. K.
Malins, R. Seymour, H. D.
Mangles, R. D. Sheridan, R. B.
Manners, Lord J. Shirley, E. P.
March, Earl of Sibthorp, Major
Martin, J. Smith, M. T.
Martin, P. W. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Massey, W. N. Smith, W. M.
Masterman, J. Smith, A.
Smyth, J. G. Vyse, Col.
Smollett, A. Waddington, D.
Somerset, Col. Walcott, Adm.
Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Spooner, R. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Stafford, A. Walter, J.
Stanhope, J. B. Warner, E.
Stephenson, R. Warren, S.
Stirling, W. Watkins, Col. L.
Stracey, Sir H. J. Watson, W. H.
Strickland, Sir G. Wells, W.
Stewart, Sir M. R. S. Whatman, J.
Stuart, Capt. Whiteside, J.
Sturt, H. G. Whitmore, H.
Talbot, C. R. M. Wickham, H. W.
Taylor, Col. Wigram, L. T.
Thesiger, Sir F. Williams, M.
Thompson, G. Wilson, J.
Thornhill, W. P. Wise, J. A.
Tite, W. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Tollemache, J. Woodd, B. T.
Tomline, G. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Traill, G. Wrightson, W. B.
Tyler, Sir G. Wyndham, Gen.
Vynte, Col. C. J. K. Wyndham, H.
Vance, J. Wynne, W. W. E.
Vane, Lord H. York, hon. E. T.
Vansittart, G. H.
Verner, Sir W. TELLERS.
Vernon, L. V. Hayter, W. G.
Vivian, H. H. Berkeley, G. G.

The House adjourned at Twelve o'clock