§ House in Committee, Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.
§ (1.) £46,400 British Museum Establishment.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that in compliance with the annual practice, he came forward, as one of the trustees of the British Museum, to submit this Vote to the Committee. The sum now required for the Museum was £46,400, which, added to the Vote of last Session, would make the total expenditure this year amount to £66,400, being an increase of £6,400 on the sum voted for the same purpose last year. He could, if necessary, point out the various items in which the increase took place, but he thought the Committee would be satisfied if he merely called attention to the different heads of expenditure; on the first head, "salaries," there was an increase of £4,380; on the second, "house expenses," there was an increase of £600. On the third head, "purchase and acquisition," the increase was £4,690; under the head of printing catalogues the increase was only £50. On the fourth head, "bookbinding, cabinets," &c., there was a decrease, £3,165; and a decrease of £100 in the miscellaneous charges, making the net increase £6,400, as he had stated. The great increase in the item of salaries was owing to the increase of the Museum and the opening of the New Reading Room. The Committee was aware, that some time back, after much discussion and consideration, a sum of £150,000 was voted for the purpose of increasing the space for the library, and giving sufficient room to students; in pursuance of that Vote a building of great beauty and magnificence had been erected; the dome exceeded that of St. Peter's in diameter by one foot. A matter, however, of even more importance than its beauty was the great amount of convenience it afforded, and he thought it would be found most commodious by all 806 persons frequenting the library for purposes of study and literary research. It contained tables, along which ample space was allotted to 300 persons, and on the shelves around it were arranged 800,000 volumes. Those shelves were altogether not less than twenty-five miles in length. Upwards of 10,000 volumes had been added to the library last year, and up to the present period of this year 3,000 more volumes had been received under the Copyright Act than during the corresponding portion of the year preceding. The Committee would see, therefore, that the money which was now asked for, was asked for to keep up a library which was at present one of the most considerable in Europe; and he believed that for purposes of study it was superior to any in the world. Great additions had also been made of late years to the collections in the Museum, in the shape of objects in Natural History, and Assyrian, Greek, and Roman Antiquities. A question had been raised as to whether so many different objects ought to be deposited in one building. That was not, however, a point which the trustees of the Museum had to decide. Their business was merely to see that the general management of the establishment was properly conducted, and to see that the collections entrusted to their care were as accessible as possible; and as it appeared that 360,000 persons during the past year had visited the Museum while a considerable number had attended the reading rooms, he thought that these facts showed that it must have been productive of much pleasure and instruction to the public. There was another question with which the trustees had nothing to do, but which had frequently been discussed; and that was, whether the Museum should be opened on the Sundays. That was a matter which the House only could decide; and last year they had by a great majority resolved that it should not be opened on those days. The trustees had, therefore, only to see that that Resolution was carried into effect. He should also state, that the Museum was very much increased by the additions which were gratuitously made to it from time to time. The late Sir William Temple, for instance, our ambassador at Naples, and a man of great taste and intelligence, had left to the Museum a large mass of Greek and Roman antiquities, which he had peculiar facilities of collecting. Some complaints were put forward last year, that the subordinate officers of the Museum were 807 not paid as well as persons holding similar situations in other public and private establishments. The trustees had, in consequence, asked the Lords of the Treasury, to send certain gentlemen to the Museum to inquire into that subject. Those gentlemen had made that inquiry, and would, he believed, before long make their Report, and as soon as it should have been produced, the House would be made acquainted with the steps which it might be proposed should be taken in the matter. For the present the trustees felt compelled to pay the officers of the establishment at the rates which had hitherto prevailed. He believed that he need not trespass any further on the time of the Committee; but if any explanation should be required of him with respect to matters of detail, he should be ready to afford hon. Members all the information in his power. In conclusion, he had to move the adoption of the Vote.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said that he found every year large balances to the credit of the Museum, and he wished to know whether those balances remained in the Exchequer or whether they were drawn out and placed in the hands of a private banker. He wished also to call attention to a complaint which was made of the number of days—only three—upon which the Museum was open during the week. For his own part, he considered that it might be kept open five days, and for a longer time during each day. The people paid a large sum towards this establishment, and greater facilities ought to be given to them to visit it.
§ MR. BRYDGES WILLYAMS
said, that he observed an item of £5,000 for gilding the dome of the new reading room. Now, he considered that that was an unnecessary piece of expenditure, and he should, take the sense of the Committee upon it.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he would admit that great accommodation was now afforded to students, but unless something more was done a large number of persons would be deprived of the benefits of the institution, as there were many persons of high distinction In literature who could not bring themselves to study in a public room. Under the former arrangement no accommodation was provided for such persons, but he hoped that the trustees would now take such steps as would afford the requisite conveniences for at least a small number of these persons; 808 in every foreign country these conveniences were provided. He had still to complain that no arrangements were made for lending out books at this or any other of our public libraries.
§ MR. JOHN LOCKE
said, it would be recollected that he had on a previous evening called the attention of the House, when a discussion had been going on with regard to the new building at Brompton, to the fact that the working classes of the Metropolis justly complained of being deprived of any facility for visiting the British Museum or National Gallery in consequence of Sunday being their only day for recreation, and those buildings being closed on that day. On that occasion the right hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Cowper) stated that the convenience of the working classes had been consulted to some extent in the case of the Brompton exhibition, inasmuch as the public had access to it during three evenings of the week. He (Mr. Locke) did not see why the rule adopted with regard to the Brompton exhibition should not be applied to the British Museum. Objections had been made to opening the library of the Museum in the evening, but there could be no doubt if that department of the institution were accessible in the evening it would be visited by thousands who had now no opportunity of availing themselves of the contents of the library. Indeed, under the existing regulations, almost the only class to whom the library was useful were persons engaged in literary occupations, who were able to spend their time there during the day. He saw no reason, however, why the collections of sculpture, mineralogy, and the other general departments of the Museum should not be opened to the public on certain evenings during the week. But if this alone were done it would be no great boon to open it to the working classes when they were exhausted by the toils of the day. To give them the full benefit of the institution, he thought that the Museum might with great propriety be opened on Sunday after the hours of divine service. It had been said that if this course were adopted the attendance of many of the officers of the Museum would be necessary on Sunday; but he had been informed by a gentleman engaged in the Museum that if the institution were opened on Sunday it would not be necessary to employ more than twenty of the servants, and this, it must be remembered, only after the hours of divine 809 service. At present the only national establishments accessible to the poorer classes on Sunday were Hampton Court Palace and Kew Gardens. Those places, in consequence of their distance from London, could not be reached without some expense, and a great number of persons were necessarily employed on the railway and steamboats to facilitate the conveyance of visitors. He (Mr. Locke) believed that if the British Museum and the National Gallery were opened on Sundays the result would be to reduce the number of visitors to Hampton Court and Kew, and to lead to the diminution of Sunday labour by enabling the railway and steamboat companies to dispense with the services of many of their servants who were now employed on that day. He had considered it to be his duty to bring this matter before the Committee in the presence of the noble Lord the Member for London, who had moved the Estimate, and he felt quite sure that, if the noble Lord would take it into his consideration, and would arrive at the conclusion he had pointed out, a great step in advance would be made.
§ MR. CHILD
said, he had always voted against the opening of the British Museum on Sundays, and would continue to do so, but he would urge the Trustees to render the institution accessible to the working classes on some week day evenings. In the county he represented (Staffordshire) an exhibition of works of art and science which had been opened in the evening had been visited by 25,000 persons, principally of the working classes, and, much to their credit, no mischief had been done to any of the objects exhibited. He would also suggest that the prints, etchings, and drawings in the Museum, which were now kept in portfolios and could only be inspected by special order, should be rendered more accessible to the public. In the Louvre the drawings of ancient masters were framed, glazed, and exhibited in a suite of apartments devoted to the purpose; and he thought that, with a view to the improvement of the popular taste, the Trustees of the British Museum should exhibit to the public the valuable collection of prints and drawings in their possession. If room could not be found in the Museum, he did not see why that portion of the National Gallery, which was at present occupied by the Royal Academy, should not be devoted to the purpose. He was informed that there were, in the mineralogical 810 department of the British Museum many duplicate specimens which, he would suggest, might with great advantage be lent to provincial scientific institutions.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
observed, that if the Museum were opened on. Sundays, he would recommend the trustees to engage as attendants on that day members of the Jewish persuasion. This arrangement would enable them to overcome one of the difficulties which presented itself. He thought it ought to be opened on week-day evenings, and also after the hours of divine service on Sundays. Why could not the Museum be opened on week-day evenings between the hours of eight and ten, when the working classes would have an opportunity of visiting the institution?
§ MR. BAXTER
asked, whether it might not be possible to open the Museum to the public on Saturday afternoons. Some hon. Gentlemen did not seem to be aware that last year the House of Commons, by an overwhelming majority—something like six to one—determined that the British Museum should not be opened on Sunday. If any hon. Members were desirous that that decision should be reversed, the proper course, in his opinion, would be to bring forward a specific Motion on the subject, and then the views of the new House of Commons on this very important question might be ascertained. He thought, however, that the present was not a fitting occasion for the discussion of a question in which the nation took so deep an interest.
§ MR. STEUART
said, that he was decidedly in favour of the working classes having a fair opportunity on week days to view works of art, and he believed that if people laboured only fifty-five instead of sixty hours in the week, and occupied the remaining five hours in contemplating the works of art and nature stored in our national collections, they would feel the benefit of such a course during the whole of their working hours: without going into the theological arguments, therefore, be should oppose any proposition which, by opening the British Museum on Sunday, was likely to check the movement in favour of a Saturday half-holiday, which was going on in the metropolis and other large towns.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, he could see no reason why the British Museum should not be opened at least five days in the week. With respect to the Sunday, 811 he entertained a strong opinion that it was one of the greatest blessings to the working population of this country that Sunday was entirely consecrated. He was quite satisfied that those who had the interest of the working classes most deeply at heart were most anxious carefully to preserve for them that blessing of a hallowed Sunday which scarcely any other country in the world possessed.
§ MR. INGRAM
observed, that a great deal had been said about opening the British Museum upon Sundays, but for his part he should like first to see it open every day in the week. Granting that it required time for cleaning, he thought that the building need not be entirely closed for that, as the public might be admitted to one part while the other was closed, which, as it took considerably more than one day to view, would form a matter of very little importance; and he would say the same of the National Gallery. He thought, also, that if the designs of models now being exhibited in Westminster Hall were shown in the British Museum, it would form an additional attraction, while at the same time it would relieve the former building, and thus obviate the inconvenience they all had experienced of late.
§ MR. JOHN LOCKE
remarked, that he would remind the House that it would be quite time enough to discuss the question of Saturday half-holidays when they found the employers willing to pay a whole day's wage for half a day's work. At present the workman in many instances considered it an absolute injury to him, reducing as it did his scanty earnings. With regard to the desecration of the Sabbath, that was a question upon which many different opinions prevailed, and it was past his comprehension how the contemplation of all the wonders of nature and art in the British Museum on a Sunday could be deemed a desecration of the Sabbath. The Nineveh marbles alone afforded a better commentary on that book which they all revered, than many a written one he had seen or heard read. He certainly thought religion would be benefited by permitting the people to visit such places on a Sunday. He would remind the House that Saturday was the Sabbath, and not Sunday; and for his part, when he spoke of the Sabbath, he spoke as a Christian, and not as a Jew.
§ SIR HENRY VERNEY
observed, that he considered it would be introducing the thin end of the wedge for the establishment 812 of Sunday labour, and if ever that was established, workmen would not get one farthing more for working seven days a week than they now did for six.
§ MR. HARRIS
said, that he also should be glad to see the Museum opened on weekday evenings. With reference to the question of opening it on Sundays, he thought that was one of national interest; for if it were opened on that day he saw no reason why the public should not be also admitted to all other institutions of a similar character, both in London and the provinces. There was, however, a deep national feeling for the religious observance of that day, and he was sure that the people of this country would never consent to the public money being given to these institutions if they were opened on Sundays. This, moreover, was a subject of too great importance to be discussed on a Vote of the kind then before the House, and whenever the question came forward in a proper manner he should record his vote against it.
§ MR. STEUART
said, that in reply to the observations of the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) he would observe that the grants for general education and for education in the fine arts, which had been increasing from year to year, were based on the principle that skilled labour was more valuable that unskilled; and it was, therefore, his belief that if the working classes got a half-holiday on Saturday their skill would, in consequence of the education which they would thus be able to obtain, be so much increased that they would soon be as well paid for fifty-five hours per week as they now were for sixty.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he rose to reply to the questions which had been put to him. The hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) had asked how it was that there were every year such large balances to the credit of the Museum, and whether these balances were placed in the hands of its banker. The answer was that those balances were always left in the Bank of England, where the Museum had a separate account; and they were necessary, in order to enable the trustees to continue their current payments during the interval which elapsed between the end of the financial year and the time when the Votes of that House were agreed to. These balances, however, were not more than was generally required for that purpose. Several hon. Gentlemen had advocated the opening of the Museum on days 813 and times when it now was not open. Let him, before replying to those hon. Gentlemen, state when it was open. The Museum was open to every one on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and to artists and those who wished to study and make copies of works of art, on Thursdays and Saturdays. During the summer months it was also open to the public on Saturday afternoons. The reading-room was open to persons having orders of admission from ten till five o'clock in winter, and from nine till six in summer. When it was proposed to open the Museum an additional number of hours and days they had to consider the convenience and utility of the Museum to various persons who went there for different purposes. After the discussion which took place on this subject in that House last year he (Lord John Russell), being then one of the junior trustees of the Museum, placed before the Standing Committee the proposals which had been urged with regard to the days on which the trustees might on their own authority open the institution to the public. But they were of opinion that if the Museum were open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays considerable inconvenience would result to persons who were in the habit of attending it for the study of art. He desired also that the opinion of the officers of the Museum connected with the art department might be taken upon that point, and they likewise coincided with the trustees. The trustees then considered the proposition made last year by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), that the Museum should be open in the evenings; but they were of opinion that there would be such great danger of fire to the contents of the building, which were so extremely valuable, from such an arrangement, that they did not feel themselves justified in acceding to it. And with respect to the number of days on which it should be open, he must express the great doubts which he felt, whether the persons who were unable to visit the Museum on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, could find the means to do so on any other weekday. Then came the question which had been opened in the course of this discussion—namely, as to the opening of the Museum on Sundays. With regard to which, the trustees felt that, after the decision of the House last Session, they had no right to entertain it. He was not going to give any opinion on that subject at present. It was quite 814 competent to any hon. Member to introduce the question, but if it was to be regularly decided, it must, he thought, be upon a separate Motion. He was entirely satisfied with the reasons given by his noble Friend the First Lord of the Treasury last year against the opening of the British Museum on Sunday. He voted as a Member of that House against its being opened on that day; but the question might be again considered by the House when any hon. Member chose to bring it forward. Then his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Milnes) thought it very hard that persons who wished to study privately at the Museum should not have separate rooms and accommodation expressly provided for them. But his hon. Friend would see that it would be extremely difficult for the trustees or the principal librarian to decide who the persons were who ought to be admitted to such a privilege. There were certainly persons in this country and in this metropolis of great literary fame; but he could understand that if the trustees attempted to draw a line the persons immediately below that line would consider themselves very much aggrieved. He (Lord John Russell) admitted it was an inconvenience to exclude persons from the benefit of private study; but if the general rule was left as it was at present at the Museum, that no such facility should be granted, the trustees would give less cause of offence to the great body of literary men frequenting the institution than by drawing an invidious distinction such as had been suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract. With regard to the gilded dome, he must observe the trustees were not responsible for it. When the suggestion was made by certain persons, the architect was first consulted, before the gilding was undertaken, and he gave it as his opinion that it would be a great improvement, and would materially enhance the beauty of the building. But before the expense was incurred he (Lord John Russell) advised that the architect should go to the Treasury and consult the authorities there upon the subject. He did not think it was a question for the trustees. The Treasury listened to the representation of the architect, and certainly the result had been very much to heighten the effects of the structure. Whether they had not gone to an excess in that respect, so as to make the beauty of the building too much an object of interest to persons who resorted there for 815 the purposes of study, was a different question, on which some doubt might be entertained; but all those who had seen the new reading-room must have been convinced, not only that it was extremely handsome, but also extremely convenient and commodious, and great credit was due, in connection with it, in the first place, to Mr.Panizzi, the principal librarian, who was the first to suggest the erection of a building on so magnificent a scale; next, to Mr. Smirke, the architect, who formed the design; and, in the third place, to Messrs. Baker and Fielder, the contractors, who carried out the design and executed the details. He would only add that it was the wish of the trustees generally—amongst whom was now included the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Walpole) and who paid great attention to this subject—to make this great national institution as useful as they could in every respect to the public. There was certainly the difficulty with respect to the working classes; but he hoped in some way or other they might have the advantage of seeing the building; for if the trustees could make the institution more accessible to that class of the population they would have the opportunity of studying the works of the Creator and of art with which it was stored, with, it was to be hoped, the happiest results to themselves.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he wished to remind the Committee that a great public institution like this was supported out of the taxation of the country, and intended to aid in cultivating the minds of the great mass of the people. While, therefore, he concurred in the opinion that every public institution should be open to the greatest extent on week days, he was at the same time of opinion with other hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the Committee that the Sabbath should be set apart for other duties. With regard to the alleged danger of lighting up such a building at night so as to make it accessible to the working classes after the hours of labour, he confessed he saw no cause for apprehension on that score, provided the edifice was lighted from the roof, on the same principle on which the House in which they were assembled was lighted. It was very desirable, he thought, that foreigners and persons who came up from the country should be able to obtain admission at all times.
§ Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes.816
§ (2.)£29,314, New Buildings and Fittings.
(3.) £944, Purchase of Objects for the Museum.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £23,165, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the National Gallery, including the purchase of Pictures, to the 31st day of March 1858.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, when this grant was under discussion in the last Parliament, exception was taken to the appointment of a secretary and of a travelling agent. He now wished to call the attention of the Committee to the same subject. Last year a Member of the House moved that the Estimate be reduced by the amount of the travelling agent's salary and his travelling expenses, which amounted together to about £1,000. A Committee of that House, which sat in 1853, recommended the appointment of a director, and that he should receive a handsome salary, but they made no such recommendation with regard to the appointment of a secretary. But now the House of Commons was asked to vote £750 for the salary of a secretary— a very excessive sum considering the duties. With a thoroughly efficient director a secretary could not have much to do beyond answering the letters about current business and the purchase of pictures, and attending the meetings of the trustees, and certainly £750 was rather an extravagant salary for this. It might be said by the Secretary for the Treasury that he had a great deal to do, that he had arranged the Turner pictures, for instance. So he had, but Mr. Ruskin, who took as great an interest in Turner as any man, had offered to perform that duty gratuitously, and no doubt he would have done it quite as well. The Secretary for the Treasury would also say that he had to compile a catalogue, but that could not be very hard work, inasmuch as previous to the new constitution a catalogue was in existence, drawn up by this same gentleman, and the purchases made since were comparatively trifling. Mr. Murray, or Mr. Longman, or any other publisher for £750 down would engage to get up as good a catalogue as any one could want. Considering how long the clerks in the public offices had to work before they got £750 a year—twenty or twenty-five years on an average—and considering how many of our hard-working clergymen were living on salaries far less—this was rather too much to pay for a secretary, and he should move 817 to reduce the Vote to what he thought a very ample amount, namely, £500. Next came the Vote for the travelling agent. This, too, was an appointment not recommended by the Committee, and which had taken the House rather by surprise. It was discussed last year, and an attempt was made to get rid of it, but the proposition was rejected, and he then pledged himself to renew the discussion this year. This travelling agent was appointed at the instance of the director, who was most anxious about him, and, in fact, made his appointment an ultimatum, without the concession of which he would not accept office himself. He expressed great confidence in this gentleman's judgment; but at the same time great diffidence, it was said, in his own. The appointment, he contended, was vicious in theory, and had worked ill in practice. In the first place, he did not see how they could expect to get a trustworthy and efficient man to fill that office for £300 a year; and in the next place, it perpetuated, to a certain extent, the system of divided responsibility, while the endeavour ought to be in all these institutions to get one responsible officer. Under the old constitution there were trustees and a keeper equivalent to a director. They did not go well together, and if mistakes were made the trustees threw the blame upon the keeper, and the keeper, in his turn, threw the blame on the trustees; so in the same way now the responsibility was divided between the travelling agent and the director. Having been, in the course of the last winter, in that part of Italy which the travelling agent and the director had been exploring, he had heard, though he could not vouch for the truth of the statement, of one or two instances in which this divided responsibility had led to works, which would have been a great ornament to the gallery, not being purchased. If he asked why such and such a picture was not purchased, the answer was, "Oh, the director wanted it, and the travelling agent didn't want it," or vice versâ. They might, however, judge of the system by what had been actually done. Last year their was a great deal of discussion about the purchase of a Paul Veronese. That picture cost £1,977, and he had seen something about it in the Official Gazette of Venice, which might be presumed to be good authority, which would, perhaps, enable the Committee to form some idea of the judgment shown in that purchase. This picture 818 came out of a church which was being restored; all the pictures were taken down, and permission was obtained from the Pope to dispose of them for the benefit of the church. The curate of the church rendered an account of what had become of these pictures, and he stated that—After the complete restoration of the ancient temple of Pope St. Sylvester, some of the paintings which had decorated its walls had remained out of use since 1837, and among them was Paul Veronese representing the 'Adoration of the Magi.' They were appraised by a commission appointed by the Royal Academy of Venice, and the value set on them was 11,300 Austrian livres, or about £400, and out of this sum the Paul Veronese alone was valued at 10,000 Austrian livres, or £370.And this was the picture for which the travelling agent and the director had thought themselves justified in giving £1,977. That £370 was the full value of the picture was pretty clear from the high price which, as everybody who had been in Italy knew, the Italians, and particularly the Venetians, were in the habit of setting on their pictures. And the picture itself, so far from being in a fine state, had been much repainted. It was, in fact, what was called a "ruined picture," and £66 was paid for its restoration to one of those professors who pretended to restore but invariably destroyed. It was well known by those who took an interest in these matters that the destructions by time, damp, and neglect were as nothing when compared with the destructions of these restorers. The hon. Member for Brighton(Mr. Coningham),writing on the restorations going on in our own gallery, said, "These harpies of restorers always fly at the face;" but the harpies in this country were animals not nearly so savage in their propensities as those abroad; and, indeed, to do justice to those who had charge of our gallery, he was bound to say that the pictures in the galleries abroad were in a very much worse state than those in our gallery. This purchase was a disgrace to the walls of the National Gallery, and he would engage that if it were put up at Christie's auction-room it would not fetch £200. No doubt, good purchases had been made; he admitted that. For instance, the Perugino which had been bought was one of the most beautiful pictures which he had ever seen. That there was a good ground for the outcry which was made against these gentlemen was shown by the fact that whenever they made a good purchase not a word was said against them. Nobody complained of the 819 purchase of the Perugino. Everybody, on the contrary, was delighted. "Have you been to the gallery to see the new Perugino?" was in everybody's mouth; and certainly it was a beautiful picture. So that it was really not from a disposition to cavil at the proceedings of these gentlemen that complaints were made, but simply from a feeling that the public money had been wasted. This year the director and travelling agent had bought another Paul Veronese, for which they had given £13,650. The reading which he put on this purchase was this:—Having made a desperate mistake with their Paul Veronese last year they determined this year to buy a Veronese at which nobody could grumble. There was a Paul Veronese at the Pisani Palace which had a great celebrity, and that they determined to have. The sum, however, which they had given for it was perfectly absurd. Paul Veronese was a beautiful painter, who flourished towards the decline of the Venetian school; but, after all, he was only a decorative painter; what people most admired of his were those beautiful ceilings at the Ducal Palace and the altar-pieces in the churches at Venice. He did not inspire the same sublime emotions as Raffaelle's pictures. So that the country was paying this enormous sum for a second-rate specimen(for it was by no means a first-rate specimen of Paul Veronese)of a second-rate artist. He did not deny that there might not be a better specimen in Italy, but whether it was a first, second, or third-rate specimen it was perfectly absured to give that price for a Veronese. Had it been a Raffaelle he should have had nothing to say. To show the opinion of the House on this purchase, and to teach the directors and the travelling agent to be more careful for the future, he should be very glad if some gentleman would move that the sum of £5,000, which the committee were called on to repay to the civil contingencies, should be refused, for it had all gone in this purchase. £10,000 was annually granted for the purchase of pictures, and the directors, having gone over their mark, were obliged to borrow £5,000 from the civil contingencies. To show that it had all gone on this picture he would read a few extracts from a letter of a well-known gentleman, Mr. Morris Moore[a laugh.] He saw a smile on several gentlemen's faces at this name—caused, no doubt, by the recollection of his correspondence with Lord Bloomfield—but, without attempting 820 to justify that gentleman's conduct at Berlin, he would say that there was no man in England who was a better judge of pictures, or more conversant with their condition or market value. Having been in Venice for three months, and made inquiries on the subject, he could vouch for the accuracy of every statement in Mr. Moore's letter. The following was the account Mr. Moore gave of the way the money went:—The money given to Count Pisani was £12,360; banking commission to Mr. Valentine at ½ percent, £70. Commissions on the pictures—1, Signor Enrico Dubois, banker(son-in-law of Pisani),£62 10s.; 2, Carlo Dubois(banker),£62 10s.; 3, Caterino Zen, Pisani's steward, £300; 4, Pietro Dezan, 2nd idem, £271 10s.; 5, Dr. Monterumici, lawyer, £271 10s.; 6, Paolo Fabris, restorer, £200; 7, Giuseppe Conurato, Pisani's valet, £12; 8, Caterina Rini, camereira(chambermaid), £10.He did not think that dear.9, Pietro Galberti, gondoliere, £6; 10, Angelini Comini, idem, £6; 11, Riccardo de Sandre, cook, £6; 12, Pietro Dorigo, porter, £6; 13, Angela Dorigo, porter's wife, £6.He begged to read an extract from the Report of the director, Sir C. Eastlake, which would be found in the printed estimate. Sir C. Eastlake said:—This picture, according to family traditions and the united testimony of the historians of art, was painted by Paul Veronese for the ancestor of the present Count Pisani. According to Boschini vast sums were offered for it two conturies since, and within the last thirty years Sovereigns, public bodies, and opulent individuals have in vain endeavoured to secure it. D'Argenville states, on the authority of the Procurator Pisani of his time(the first half of the last century),that Paul Veronese, having been detained by some accident at the villa of the Pisani(at Este), painted and deposited there this work, informiag the family after his departure, 'that he had left wherewithal to pay for the cost of his visit.' If this story be true the great painter has now munificently redeemed his word.He was disposed to think, not that the painter, but that the English director had munificently, or rather wastefully and foolishly, redeemed the painter's word at the expense of the public. When in Venice, the laquais de place came in one morning and said he had such a story to tell about the Paul Veronese picture. Mr. Mündler was in a state bordering on distraction. It had been arranged that the money was to be paid without any documents being signed as to the authenticity of the painting. When Conte Pisani sold the picture he would not part with the frame. It seemed absurd, but the secret had come out. There was at the villa at Este another picture by Paul Veronese, precisely 821 the same in subject and in size, which would fit the frame Conte Pisani had kept. Mr. Mündler, never having heard of another picture, was naturally in a state of alarm as to which was the original, and he and the restorers were about to undertake a pilgrimage to the villa in order to ascertain the fact. Up to the present hour he was unaware of the result of that visit, though no doubt the Secretary of the Treasury would be able to give them a satisfactory explanation. He did not propose to reduce the Vote by the amount of travelling expenses, which were estimated at £600. He thought there must be some travelling expenses, but he did not think there was any necessity for a travelling agent. The director ought to be his own travelling agent. The period for purchasing pictures was during the London season. The sales at Christie's, Phillips's, and Foster's commenced in February and ended in June, and at those sales the best pictures were to be bought. No one had a finer collection than his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton(Mr. Coningham),and he believed he was correct in stating that a majority of those pictures had been bought in London. But, as the object was to get a collection worthy of the nation, it was desirable that the director should also seek pictures elsewhere. During the dead season of the year—during the winter—the director should travel in Italy—and he could not imagine a more pleasing occupation than travelling at the public expense in that beautiful and classic country—in search of pictures. The director could establish in every town in Italy a local agency, and by giving a commission would obtain information of every picture which was offered for sale. In that manner he thought the business would be better done, even if it cost us as much upon the whole. Mr. Mündler, by going about Italy, had spoiled the market. Wherever he went he was known as the agent of the English Government for the purchase of pictures; prices rose a hundred-fold, and it was stated the Austrian Government had on this account issued instructions to the mayors of towns, heads of convents, and priests of churches, where fine works of art were to be found, forbidding them to give him admission. A far more effectual mode would be for the director himself to travel, and therefore he did not propose to reduce the vote by the travelling expenses, which the nation would cordially pay, although £600 a year was somewhat high, 822 and it might possibly be that it was given to compensate for the lowness of the salary. He thought it his duty to bring the subject before the attention of the Committee, and he believed that if his suggestions were adopted there would be a better chance of their getting good pictures. He therefore moved that the Vote be reduced from £23,165 to £22,615—being less the amount of the travelling agent's salary and the reduction of the secretary's salary from £700 to £500 a year. He would rather some other hon. Gentleman would move the reduction of the £5,000 to be repaid to the civil contingencies, as some hon. Members might be willing to vote for his reduction and not for that reduction, and it was therefore better to keep the two propositions distinct. There was one point which he had omitted to mention. Last year an Act was passed, empowering the directors to sell pictures and to remove them to other places. They had sold some pictures, which he believed were very bad ones, and they had likewise transferred some to Ireland. He did not know whether the Irish Members would approve of their National Gallery being made the refuge for the rejected pictures of the National Gallery of this country. If the pictures were good they should be kept for the National Gallery, and if they were bad they should not be sent to Ireland or anywhere else.Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £22,615, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the National Gallery, including the purchase of Pictures, to the 31st day of March 1858.
§ MR. COX
said, he would not, like the noble Lord, "hint a fault, and hesitate dislike," but would go to the very bottom of the whole matter, for the statement of the noble Lord revealed such a gross system of jobbery, that he would not only refuse the £5,591 paid from civil contingencies, but the whole £10,000 asked for the current year. He followed the noble Lord in his opposition to the salary of the Secretary; for he thought £750 was too much, and £500 quite sufficient for that official; but he knew that, according to the rule of the House, if he were to vote for the noble Lord's Motion, it would be impossible for him to submit the Motion which he himself wished to make. When a proposal was made in Committee for a reduction in the Estimates, it was not permitted to any hon. Member to move that a lower sum be reduced, therefore he would 823 go the extreme depths, and leave it to others to rise to the top time after time as they chose to do so. He objected also to the travelling agent, and on that point would support the noble Lord, but he could not agree with him in allowing the travelling expenses. The noble Lord admitted that paintings could be more advantageously purchased in London than anywhere else. He (Mr. Cox) was a mere Goth in such matters. He knew nothing of pictures, but the noble Lord did, and he said the best place to purchase pictures was in the auction room of Christie. For the very reason, therefore, that the noble Lord had given, he objected to the £650 for travelling expenses, as there could be no necessity for going to the Continent to get pictures. With regard to the picture to which the noble Lord last referred, the letter from which he read stated that the Government had obtained, not the original, but only a copy of that picture.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, his impression of the letter was, that it did not say the picture at the Villa d'Este was the original; nor did he. All he said was, that Mr. Mündler had gone in a state of desperation to see the picture, but that to this hour he had never heard what conclusion he had arrived at.
§ MR. COX
said, he had been distinctly told that the picture was not an original, but a copy, and that we had left the frame behind for the original to be put in. Was it not disgraceful that £12,000 should have been paid by this country for such a picture? Then, there were those extraordinary items paid by the purchaser to butlers, and cooks, and chambermaids. Why should he give £10 to a chambermaid? And, not satisfied with that, he must give £6 to a cook, and £6 to the cook's wife. When he saw this item, it puzzled him very much; for he could no conceive what a culinary professor could have to do with the sale of a picture; but it occurred to him that there was a goose to be cooked, and that, therefore, this sum was paid for cooking the British goose. Such extravagance as this was positively disgraceful. It was not often that independent Members were able to hit a blot like this; but he believed there were many such blots in the Estimates, if they could just get at all the facts connected with them. He should move that the Vote be reduced to £4,974.Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a 824 sum, not exceeding £4,964, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the National Gallery, including the purchase of Pictures, to the 31st day of March, 1858.
said, he hoped the Committee would not be led away by the statement of his noble Friend(Lord Elcho)or of the hon. Gentleman who last spoke, for he believed he would be able to show by a faithful history of the transaction to which they had referred, that the letter of Mr. Moore, on which their account was based, was a tissue of misrepresentations. If ever the Government exhibited care and caution with regard to the purchase of a picture, they had done so on this occasion, and what they did entirely took away from Mr. Mündler the responsibility of that purchase. Many months before making a purchase so important, the Government, anxious that no misconceptions should prevail regarding it, communicated, through the Foreign Office, with Mr. Harris, our resident Consul at Venice, and employed him to take the necessary steps for authenticating and securing the picture, and so far as Mr. Mündler and the National Gallery were concerned, he was bound to acquit them entirely of the transaction, and take all the responsibility upon the Government. Several years ago this picture attracted the attention of the Government, and Lord Aberdeen authorised our Consul to endeavour to effect a purchase of it. From time to time offers were made and rejected, and at least £12,000 was demanded by Count Pisani, to which he annexed this condition, that as his domestics had for a number of years obtained a large income by the fees received for showing the picture to strangers, an additional sum should be given to compensate them for the loss they would sustain by the stoppage of the fees. The amount for compensation was found to be £1650, and under these circumstances the total sum paid was £13,650. Now, with regard to the amusing distribution of that money, so graphically described by his noble Friend, Mr. Mündler had no concern whatever with it, nor, so far as he knew, had Mr. Harris any concern with it. All that was to be done by the Government was to pay the sum agreed upon, and leave the distribution to others. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last appeared to be under an impression—which was justified, perhaps, by the letter from which he derived his information, but which nevertheless was incorrect—that Mr. Mündler had been treating 825 with all the domestic servants respecting their particular shares. The fact was, the Government paid the money stipulated, but had nothing to do with its distribution. As to the value of the picture, that was perhaps a matter of opinion which could better be discussed after the painting had been exhibited in the National Gallery. He could only say that no one who had visited Venice could be unacquainted with the fame of that picture; that, in fact, it had a world-wide reputation. In order to show the difference of opinion that might exist upon subjects of this kind, he would mention that one gentleman, who had expressed himself most strongly against the purchase, had actually within the last twelve months himself advised the directors of the National Gallery to buy it, and had declared that the Government would be to blame to lose it, even at a cost of £20,000. The instant the purchase was made, however, that gentleman turned round and denounced the directors for having made it.[Cries of "Name!"] That gentleman was not a member of that House, and, therefore, unless the directors of the National Gallery gave permission he should decline to name him. He only mentioned the circumstance as an instance where the Government was blamed for acting upon the advice which was given by those who afterwards censured them. The noble Lord(Lord Elcho)had alluded to the constitution of the National Gallery. At that he (Mr. Wilson) could say upon that point was that, in consequence of a resolution of that House, the duty devolved upon the Treasury Board, of which the noble Lord was a Member, to frame a new constitution for the National Gallery. [Lord ELCHO: I had no share in that, and knew nothing of it.] At all events, the constitution, as framed, was submitted to and was not disapproved by the House. With respect to the question of the utility of a travelling agent, he could only say that it was the opinion of the trustees and directors that he was an officer of the highest importance to them, and he knew that at the present moment several negotiations were pending through Mr. Mündler for most important works of art. Within the last fortnight or three weeks, Mr. Mundler had been able, by his presence on the spot, to purchase pictures which, if resold, would produce a profit that would defray the salary of the agent for four or five years to come. With respect to the salary of the secretary, the noble Lord 826 appeared to have forgotten that Mr. Wornum held the double appointment of keeper and secretary; and when he talked of Messrs. Longman or Mr. Murray producing a catalogue of the National Gallery for £750, there was no doubt that could be done if a list of the pictures was all that was required, but Mr. Wornum was a man fully qualified to produce a historical catalogue of the contents of the Gallery, and upon some such work he was now most usefully employed. Moreover, that gentleman, upon accepting his present appointment, had given up engagements which produced him £850 a year. The noble Lord had also spoken of the divided responsibility between the directors and the travelling agent, but the truth was, the duty of the latter was only to report to the directors and to act upon their instructions, having no power to make purchases of his own motion. After the discussion of last year he (Mr. Wilson) did not expect the subject of the purchase of the other Veronese would have been revived, but, as it had been, he could only repeat his former statement—that Mr. Mundler had nothing to do with that purchase, the responsibility for which rested entirely with the trustees and directors of the National Gallery. For that picture an offer had been made of £400 beyond the sum that had been paid. The hon. Member for Finsbury(Mr. Cox)had moved to reduce the Vote by the amount of £5,000, which had been paid from the civil contingencies. That payment might be right or wrong, but the Government was responsible for it. If, however, the hon. Gentleman should succeed in carrying his Motion, it would have the effect of stopping several negotiations now pending for many important works, and therefore he hoped that those hon. Members who were anxious for a good National Gallery would pause before taking such a step. The hon. Gentleman also stated that he believed the picture which had been bought was not the original, but only a copy. Nothing was more unfounded than that idea, for Mr. Mündler had seen the copy at the Villa d'Este, and found that it was a wretched performance by a wretched artist, and that, moreover, the French soldiers who had at one time been quartered at the villa had amused themselves by thrusting their bayonets through the eyes of every figure in it. As to the travelling expenses, the noble Lord ought to be aware that the director was in the habit of travelling in the autumn, whenever he could, for the 827 purpose of making or confirming purchases, in consequence of the previous inquiries of Mr. Mündler. The £650 for travelling expenses included, not only the expense of the traveling agent, but also those of the director when he found it necessary to go abroad upon the business of the Gallery. Those travelling expenses, moreover, were regulated by the Treasury, according to a fixed scale. He (Mr. Wilson) was not aware that he had any further remarks to make, but hoped that those he had made would remove false impressions, and would induce the Committee not to assent to the reduction proposed, which would have the inconvenient consequence of disturbing many negotiations now in progress, while it would not interfere with the Veronese purchase, which was now a settled and concluded affair.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
said, he admired the courage with which the Secretary of the Treasury had undertaken to endorse the acts of Sir C. Eastlake, but it was not in the power of the hon. Gentleman to relieve him from the responsibility attaching to his office. By a Minute of the Treasury, made in 1855, it was laid down that the Director must be responsible in case of difference between himself and the trustees. That regulation imposed upon Sir C. Eastlake the responsibility for the purchase of all pictures. As personal reference had been made to him, he would clear the ground before he entered into the question of the system of management which now prevailed in the National Gallery. His noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire(Lord Elcho)had alluded to the collection of pictures which he made, stating, somewhat inaccurately, that it was principally formed in London. It was, to a considerable extent, formed in Italy; but, he had no hesitation in asserting, that if the English Government would but state that they would buy any really good pictures that might be brought to this country, they would soon be encumbered with works of art from all parts of the world, The system of management which now prevailed in the National Gallery was of recent introduction. For a long time the Gallery was managed by a Director and a body of Trustees, the former receiving, he believed, the very moderate sum of £200 a year. For many years it was composed of the Angerstein collection, and it was only recently that the stimulus which, had been given to the study of the fine arts rendered it necessary that 828 something should be done. Upon the death of Mr. Seguier, Sir Charles Eastlake, who at that time was not President of the Royal Academy, but only a member of it, was appointed to the keepership. During his occupancy of that post, a considerable number of pictures were purchased for the National Gallery; and it was hardly necessary for him(Mr. Coningham)to recall to the recollection of the Committee that one of the first purchases which Sir C. Eastlake made for the Gallery was the celebrated "Portrait of a Medical Gentleman," by Holbein, for which the sum of £630 was paid. The notoriety of that transaction relieved him from the necessity of dwelling upon it. Any gentleman who wished to satisfy himself as to the nature of the purchase had only to visit the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, where he would see this spurious daub, a libel upon the great artist whose work it pretended to be, and which gave the public a foretaste of the subsequent purchases of Sir C. Eastlake. He might allude, among others, to the purchase of "The Youthful Saviour," by Guido, from the Harman collection, which was another downright libel upon the artist. That purchase, also, was made by Sir C. Eastlake, when keeper. The office of keeper, however, in consequence of a series of attacks made upon him in the press, Sir Charles was compelled to resign. He was succeeded by Mr. Uwins, who in his turn was obliged to retreat before a similar storm of public indignation. Afterwards Sir C. Eastlake became President of the Royal Academy, and, unfortunately for himself, ex officio Trustee of the National Gallery. In that capacity he was responsible for another series of purchases, which, to a great extent, were distinguished by the same errors as those he made when keeper. He might allude, among others, to the purchase of "The Tribute Money," by Titian, from the collection of Marshal Soult, which was undoubtedly a spurious work, and recognized as such by some of the most competent judges in Europe, and for this Sir Charles had the folly to pay the enormous sum of £2,613 3s. 2d. He would not tire the Committee by dwelling upon the purchase of the picture attributed to Pachierotto, or upon the daub ascribed to Albert Durer, but would go at once to the purchase of the Kruger collection, for which he was not certain that Sir C. Eastlake was absolutely responsible. Sure he was, however, that whoever was 829 responsible for that purchase, was responsible for one of the worst ever made for the National Gallery. Some sixty of these pictures were purchased in a mass for £2,916 19s. 8d., and a considerable number of them were sold by public auction, at Christie's, realizing something like £3 or £4 a piece, the minimum price being, £2 10s., and the maximum £20. Notwithstanding the series of purchases to which he had referred, the Secretary of the Treasury had the boldness, when Sir C. Eastlake was appointed to the directorship, to rise in his place and declare that he had shown qualifications of the highest order for the office. Now, when they saw the purchases which were made under the auspices of Sir C. Eastlake, and when they remembered the process of destruction which, under the name of cleaning, was carried on in the National Gallery under the directions of that gentleman —a process which Mr. Morris Moore and himself happily succeeded in putting an end to, though not before very serious injury had been done to some of the finest pictures in the collection—he thought that they would agree with him, that the statement which he had just quoted from a former speech of the Secretary of the Treasury detracted considerably from the authority which might otherwise have been attached to his observations on the present occasion. The hon. Gentleman had plenty of evidence beforehand of the gross incapacity of the person whom he undertook to defend. The fact of the matter was, that the National Gallery was the scene of numberless intrigues, nor was It difficult to discover who pulled the wires. Sir C. Eastlake, as he had already stated, proved himself incompetent at a low salary to discharge the duties of his office. He was driven ignominiously from it, and when he became an ex officio trustee, he stated in a letter of the 17th of April, 1854, "I wish it to be clearly understood that it is not my intention to interfere in any way in future with the concerns of the National Gallery;" thus acknowledging his own incapacity and the truth of the charges which had been brought against him. Yet this gentleman, within a very short period, had the audacity—for he could call it nothing else—to accept £1,000 a year from the nation. For what? Why, for making purchases that disgraced the National Gallery, as witness "The Adoration of the Magi," ascribed to Paul Veronese. These purchases taken together amounted to the 830 very large sum of £12,793 18s. It was hardly necessary for him to go further into the more recent purchases of Sir C. Eastlake, but he could not help pointing out to the Committee how dangerous the system was of purchasing complete collections and then selling portions of them by auction. We ought to purchase none but the very best pictures, and he had no hesitation in saying that the new system was likely to lead to unlimited jobbing. Upon a previous occasion he stated that the new plan was introduced from Berlin, and, if he was not trespassing too long upon the time and patience of the Committee, he would give them some details corroborating that statement. He begged to remind them, however, that in Berlin there was no free expression of public opinion, no real liberty of the press, and the consequence was, that the necessity for selling the worst pictures did not exist. Any hon. Member who would take the trouble of walking through the gallery in that city might see the masses of pictures that disfigured the walls upon which they were exhibited, and, were the Berlin system carried out in all its integrity here, we might behold the whole of the villanous Kruger collection, a part of which had been sent over to corrupt the taste of the Irish nation. The formation of the Berlin Gallery was of comparatively recent date. It was composed principally of pictures which originally belonged to the Solly collection, and for which 500,000 thalers were paid. He held in his hand a pamphlet, entitled, The Picture Baptism, of Dr. Waagen, published at Leipsic in 1832, giving a full account of the Solly purchase, and showing also the system which prevailed in Berlin. It said:—The State having purchased that enormous quantity of Mr. Solly's pictures, there was a great mystery about them. It was considered a rare favour to have a look at them; perhaps they feared public opinion, and wished to make everything fine and shiny by restoration and varnish, in order to deceive the public. Berlin painters consequently were not just wished for to do this work of restoration; the workmen were sent for from abroad, and especially by Dr. Waagen, who had made proper acquaintances at Munich while he lived there. If any offer was made to a Berlin artist, the pay was so paltry that the man could not but refuse. Now, restoration began to be carried on on a, grand scale, a quantity of pictures were transformed into the style of famous painters and their pupils, and enormous sums—for which real old original pictures might have been bought—were thus spent. In Mr. Solly's collection were a great many which could not be exhibited without undergoing very important restorations. For this purpose there arrived—first, 831 a Mr. Horack from Saxony, who had been a tailor, but then felt inspired to restore old pictures. With pompous words he praised his own skill, and assured them that he was able to take off pictures from worm-eaten wood and draw them over new wood or canvas. He moreover pretended to possess a water with which to wash and clean pictures without washing them away. This master tailor, after having spoiled a number of pictures intrusted to him by private persons, was engaged by the committee of the Museum, and received a large picture from the Solly collection to remove it from the panel. Horack asked for an advance and obtained the money. Somewhat later he asked for another advance, and obtained it. Now he went on working a few days longer, then he shut up his abode and disappeared from Berlin. The committee finding the door locked, and obtaining no answer to their rappings, ordered the door to be forced, and satisfied themselves that their artist had bolted with the money, but left them the corpse of the picture to bury. An eternal silence, of course, is kept about the fate of this picture. Meanwhile Dr. Waagen had carried out his plan. For a high annual salary, the restorators, his old connections were appointed—namely, Mr. Sehlesinger, Mr. Koester, and Mr. Xler. Now, the high sanhedrim was complete, a Restoration atelier was arranged, and all the pictures of the State entrusted to it to be sentenced to life or death.That was the system which Dr. Waagen had introduced into Berlin, and he respectfully submitted to the Committee that a very similar system had been introduced through the instrumentality of Sir C. Eastlake into our National Gallery. He thanked the Committee for the very courteous manner in which it had listened to him; but he could not sit down without alluding to another point to which public attention ought to be directed. They were constantly told that the true models for study and for educational purposes were of the modern school of art. On that subject he would quote the words of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who said:—The modern who recommends himself as a standard may justly be suspected as ignorant of the true end and unacquainted with the proper object of the art which he professes. To follow such a guide will not only retard the student, but mislead.He was opposed to this novel theory, and in favour of reverting to the pictures of the 15th and 16th centuries for our models, and he thought that works of that description should almost alone be purchased for the National Gallery.
§ Mr. HENLEY
said that, as he understood it, three objections had been taken on the present Vote. First, as to the selections that had been made in the purchase of pictures; secondly, as to the employment of the travelling agent; and thirdly, as to the spending of money without the authority of Parliament. He 832 should say, that the explanation of the Secretary for the Treasury, in answer to those objections, was rather an alarming one. The Vote was objectionable enough as it stood in the Estimates; but the explanation given of it, instead of mending the matter, only tended to give it a more serious complexion. A good deal bad been said about the increase in the Civil Service Estimates; but let the Committee consider for a moment the Vote now before them in comparison with what it was in former years. In 1848 the Estimate for the National Gallery paintings was £5,000. From that amount it had increased till in 1854–55 it was £6,600; in 1855–56, £16,000; in 1856–57, £12,000; and this year it assumed the moderate proportions of £23,000. From this it appeared that the Estimate was going on at a very comfortable rate, to say the least of it. It could not be said that in this respect art was neglected in England. But the most alarming feature in the business was this —the noble Lord and others complained that a sum of between £5,000 and £6,000 had been paid without the sanction of Parliament. The Secretary to the Treasury replied, "That is quite a mistake. If you choose to censure the Government, well and good; but Parliament put £100,000 in their hands to pay for anything that happens to need paying, or for what are called urgent matters;" but if this argument of the hon. Gentleman was admitted, the House might next year be called upon to grant, not £23,000, but a sum of £123,000. He thought that the case was put in rather too broad a way by the Government; because, if the doctrine of the Secretary to the Treasury as to the discretion vested in the Government held good, the House of Commons having voted a specific sum for the purchase of paintings, there was nothing to hinder them from increasing the amount by £100,000, without a question being asked by anybody. Surely, however, the hon. Gentleman(Mr. Wilson)had pushed the right of the Government to an extravagant length. Now, let them see how what was called the travelling agent worked. They had been told that the Government had been nibbling at a certain picture since 1853. It seemed very clear from the negotiations carried on in respect of that picture that the country had not derived much advantage from this travelling agent on that ground, unless the advance of price which was the necessary consequence of that 833 nibbling process could be called an advantage. They were informed that the picture in question had more than a European—that it had a world wide reputation; that everybody who had been anywhere had seen it. If so, it could scarcely have been necessary to have a travelling agent at £600 a year, with travelling expenses, "nibbling" at it for four years. It appeared, that so far back as 1853 the picture was valued at £12,000, which sum the owner asked for it, on which the trustees recommended the Government to give £10,500, honestly saying at the same time it was worth £12,000. Now, that was a curious way of doing business. In his(Mr. Henley's)opinion, if they thought a man was asking a fair price for an article, it was better to give him his own money, for if they attempted to beat him down, they might be sure he would make a fool of them afterwards, and it would serve them right if he did. This had been the case with this picture. The price asked for it in 1853 was £12,000, but the price paid for it in 1856 was.£13,650. That was what, was got by offering £ 10,500 for a work of art admitted to be worth £12,000. Moreover, he was not at all consoled by being informed that the alleged copy of this picture was "a wreck," for the term "wreck" was never applied to what had always been worthless. Then came the question how this Vote was to be dealt with. The amount by which it was proposed to be reduced was larger than he could approve of, but if the proposition were to reduce it by the sum overpaid last year, he should be glad to give it his support, upon the ground that if the House agreed to give £10,000 a year for pictures, it was a pretty clear indication that they did not mean that the Government should go and spend £15,000. To the Amendment so altered he should be happy to give his assent.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he regretted to take any part in the discussion, because the House never appeared to less advantage than when they discussed the merits of individual pictures, and when speeches were made in tones far more intemperate and violent than upon other occasions. Upon matters of taste gentlemen proverbially differed, but, surely they could express their different opinions without imputations of incapacity, much less of jobbery or dishonesty. He was somewhat surprised to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) 834 an objection that the Government had spent in a single year more than the £10,000 set apart for the purchase of pictures. He could quite understand the right hon. Gentleman if he said that no more pictures ought to be paid for out of the public purse, and that the present system ought to be abandoned. But he could not understand him if he said that because an estimate of £10,000 had been agreed to for the purchase of pictures, therefore the purchase of pictures by the Government during the following year should be strictly limited to that amount. He was surprised to hear so strange a doctrine advanced by so acute and intelligent a Gentleman as the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire. With regard to this particular picture he would not pretend to give any decided opinion. All that he knew was that he had been several times at Venice, and he had never been there without hearing it spoken of as one of the principal ornaments of Venice. He never doubted that it was a picture of as established a European reputation as any that could be mentioned. It might be true that the Venetian school did not rank so high as others. He believed that the purer taste of modern times had lowered the estimation of the Venetian school, but that did not prevent it from being a most important school. And surely when an opportunity occurred for this country obtaining possession of a work of one of the most celebrated masters of that school, it was not surprising that those who had the direction of these things should think it of importance to secure such a picture for the country. It might be said, "that is very true, but a most unreasonable sum was given for it." That, however, was a question of opinion. The House would recollect that a picture by Murillo was sold at a public auction at Paris, a few years ago. Murillo was a great painter, but not one of the greatest painters in the world; and be(Mr. Labouchere)did not think that picture was one of the finest specimens of his work. It was sold openly. There was no jobbery nor travelling agent, nor any of those suspicious circumstances on which some hon. Gentlemen had laid so much stress. And what took place? There were competitors; and who were they? The Emperor of the French, the Emperor of Russia, and a rich English nobleman. The picture was sold, he believed, for £25,000. [Lord ELCHO: £23,000.] A most astounding sum, he must say. If he 835 were to hazard an opinion, he would say that the Paul Veronese was cheaper at the sum that had been given for it than the Murillo at £23,000. He thought that they would make a very bad exchange if they parted with their Paul Veronese for the Murillo of the Emperor of the French. But however that might be, he should not have risen on the present occasion but for his anxiety to do justice to a distinguished man. He deeply regretted that they could not discuss matters of this kind without making personal attacks upon Sir Charles Eastlakc. He had had the honour of his acquaintance for several years, and all who knew him felt that there was not a man of higher integrity, purer character, or greater accomplishments in this country. He believed that he was one of the most learned and accomplished artists that this country possessed. He regretted to hear his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Coningham), than whom there could be no better judge on this subject, bring into this debate personal attacks upon Sir Charles Eastlake. His hon. Friend had said that Sir Charles Eastlake had shown his incapacity by the manner in which he had managed the National Gallery and overlooked the cleaning and preservation of the pictures. He appealed from him to his noble Friend who introduced this question. His noble Friend stated—and he believed truly—that then was not a great collection of pictures it Europe that was not far worse treated than the National Gallery with respect to cleaning. He (Mr. Labouchere) was not a very competent judge of these matters, but he had visited most of the picture galleries in Europe, and he was able to form some opinion on them. He would refer merely to two of the most celebrated galleries in Europe— the gallery at Madrid, one of the noblest in the world, and the great gallery at Dresden. He believed that some of the picture, in both those collections had been injured by injudicious cleaning, carried on under the superintendence of those who ought to have been their guardians and preservers but who, in truth, were their destroyers His noble Friend had said most truly that Sir C. Eastlake deserved great praise for the very careful manner in which the cleaning and restoration of the pictures in the National Gallery had been carried on It was to him that we owed, in a great degree, the present state of those pictures. He (Mr. Labouchere) sat on the Committee that made inquiries some years ago into 836 the manner in which the pictures were being cleaned and restored, and when he recollected the evidence that was then given as to the injudicious manner in which they had been treated up to that time, he thought the country had reason to rejoice that so much care and vigilance had since been exercised in their preservation. But be that as it might, he believed that it served no purpose to discuss the merits of a particular picture on this Vote. If the House believed that the system of purchasing pictures for the nation out of the public purse was bad, let them alter it. If they believed that those to whom the management of this matter was entrusted were incompetent, let them say so. He did not believe that they were incompetent. A man abler than Sir C. Eastlake to superintend the National Gallery could not be found. It was not to be supposed that he or any other man could please everybody in every purchase of pictures which, he made. He did not know how it happened, but as far as his experience went, he did not find that a love and practice of the fine arts made men more charitable or amicable. People talked of the odium theologicum, but the odium of the professors and critics of art against each other was the most envenomed that he knew. He never could discover exactly whence it proceeded, but that it existed was indisputable. What would the House think of calling a private collector over the coals for every picture that he purchased? Where was the private collector that had not committed some mistake? His hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Coningham) had had a very beautiful collection of pictures. They were sold some years ago in this capital. No one could visit that collection without seeing that it evinced on the part of its owner great taste and great knowledge of the art. But at the same time he recollected that it contained two pictures which betrayed a want of judgment. His hon. Friend, therefore, ought to be more indulgent when he made criticisms on the purchases for the National Gallery; for he was sure that there was no one, who had ever been engaged in the purchase of pictures, who would not concur in the remark of Napoleon, "that those are the most fortunate who have committed the fewest blunders." If the Committee wished that no power at all should be given for buying pictures, or that the duty of purchasing them should be entrusted to other hands, let it say so; 837 but if they were to collect pictures for the National Gallery, he thought the sum they now asked was very moderate, and believing it would be safe to entrust the control of the expenditure to a man of such high honour and integrity, and enlightened and pure judgment as Sir Charles East-lake, he should regret extremely if the Committee did not agree to the Vote before it.
§ MR. STIRLING
said, he had, on a former occasion, asked his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), who was at the time Chancellor of the Exchequer, for some explanation as to the purchase of the Kruger collection, but that explanation had never been given. He begged, therefore, now to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, upon whose professional advice that collection was purchased for the National Gallery. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies had already so well defended Sir Charles Eastlake that he should not trouble the Committee with any observations on that point; but he did think Mr. Müundler had been badly used. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) had told a story which he heard from his laquais de place at Venice. Now, if every hon. Gentleman would retail the stories which they heard from their laquais de place, perhaps the Committee would be enlivened with some anecdotes about the noble Lord and his pictures. The noble Lord, however, went to Venice, talked to his laquais de place, and then favoured hon. Members with his anecdote. Now, he (Mr. Stirling) remarked that his noble Friend carefully avoided giving any opinion as to the authenticity of the Pisani picture, and did not authenticate a single statement of Mr. Morris Moore, although he read the whole of that Gentleman's letter; he merely amused the Committee with his story, and left the subject where he found it. But, as his noble Friend was on the spot for several months, and had formed an intention last year to bring the subject of the National Gallery before the House, might he not have sent his laquais de place to Este, or have ordered his gondola and have ascertained for himself whether the Pisani picture in the palace or that in the villa—which he did not see—was the original? He thought his noble Friend might have spent a few hours in this way most agreeably to himself and very usefully to the country. With regard to Mr. Mündler, he knew nothing of that gentleman or of his qualifications, but was aware that he received 838 £300 a year, and had his share of the travelling expenses, which, he believed amounted altogether to £650. Now, some four or five years ago, Mr. Uwins and the late Mr. Woodburn, the picture dealer, were sent, at the expense of the Government, to report on one of the collections at Venice—the Manfrini, he believed. No purchase was effected, but that single journey cost the country £400 or £500, or very nearly what was paid for the services of Mr. Mündler all the year round. As the suggestion that agents should be employed in every town of Italy and Germany to supply the place of a travelling agent, he would ask the Committee what the expense of purchases so effected would be. The ordinary percentage which a picture dealer expected on these commissions was 10 per cent, and at this rate the purchase of the Pisani picture would have cost £1,300 for agency alone. With regard to the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Coningham) he would only say that, having for a long time enjoyed his friendship and been acquainted with his works, he wished the hon. Member had amused the Committee with extracts from his own writings, instead of quoting his very dull friend the Berlin pamphleteer. In his own pamphlets the hon. Member had, more happily than he had done to-night, reflected with great asperity on the management of the National Gallery; but after all, of what did he accuse the directors? The head and front of Sir Charles Eastlake's offence, as stated by his hon. Friend, amounted to this—that having made a mistake in the purchase of some picture, he had the candour and manliness to own it, and that on several occasions he had expressed considerable diffidence of his own judgment. Now, these were two errors into which picture collectors were not apt to fall; at all events, he had never heard that his hon. Friend and the noble Lord had ever done so. With regard to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley), he thought it a very good one. If a certain sum (which should be a large and liberal one) were voted annually for the expenses of the National Gallery and the purchase of pictures, it would be much better than the present arrangement, and the deficiency of one year might be made up from the excess of another.
said, the collection to which the hon. Member referred was not included in the present Estimates. It was purchased in 1853, and paid for in 1854; 839 but in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), who was Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time, he was sorry that he was not able to say on whose professional advice it had been purchased. The collection was bought in consequence of the advice of certain persons who were qualified to express an opinion upon it; but he was bound to say that they were not the trustees of the National Gallery.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Stirling) had found fault with him for not having sent his laquais de place or gone himself to ascertain the authenticity of the Pisani picture. The best reason, however, for not going himself was, that he left Venice the day after he had been told this story. He was delighted now to hear from so great an authority as the hon. Secretary to the Treasury that there was no doubt that this Paul Veronese was an original. The hon. Gentleman stated that the letter, for the accuracy of which he (Lord Elcho) had to a certain extent vouched, was a tissue of misrepresentations. He could only say, however, that the facts he had stated were repeated to him before he left Venice and before he had seen the letter, which he, therefore, had reason to believe was correct. Then the hon. Gentleman stated that the constitution of the National Gallery was approved by the House. Now, the fact was, that the House never had an opportunity of approving it. The constitution was drawn up by the hon. Member himself at the Treasury, and the first time the House heard of it was when it was asked to vote the salaries of these gentlemen. He would remind the House, however, that exception was taken to the salary of the secretary and of the paid travelling agent, and that in 1855, upon the question of the latter gentleman's salary, a Vote was taken in a morning sitting in the month of August, when forty-five voted in favour, and thirty-eight against it. He might say, therefore, that the House had not been consulted as to the constitution of the National Gallery, and that when this point had been brought before the House only a narrow majority had decided in its favour. His hon. Friend the Secretary for the Treasury stated that a gentleman had offered £400 more than the nation had given for the Paul Veronese of last year. Then all he (Lord Elcho) could say was, that he strongly recommended the Government to accept the 840 offer. His hon. Friend had so stoutly come forward in defence of these Paul Veroneses, and had taken the responsibility of the purchases so readily upon himself, that he (Lord Elcho) was reminded of a joke upon the subject made by his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty last year, who said that he didn't believe the picture was a Paul Veronese—he believed it was a Wilson. When the cleaning process was under discussion some years ago he remembered the present Under Secretary for the India Board came down to the House quite aghast, and he said, "What do you think I saw up there? Why, I found those ruffians scrubbing the 'Woman taken in Adultery.'" Well, that barbarous and unnatural proceeding had been defended by the hon. Gentleman on the Treasury bench. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies said that Sir C. Eastlake had been harshly alluded to in the course of the discussion. He (Lord Elcho) was sure that he had said nothing with regard to Sir C. Eastlake which his most intimate friend could have objected to. He believed Sir C. Eastlake to be a thorough gentleman, and a most accomplished man, and in those respects he was perfectly fit for the situation which he held. He differed from his right hon. Friend as to the value of the Pisani picture. He did not say that we ought to have no pictures of the Venetian school. He admired those pictures as much as it was possible to do, but he objected to giving an enormous price for a second-rate picture by a second-rate master of that school, and he wished the Committee, by their vote, to mark their disapproval of the sum which had been given for it. He would also suggest that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cox) should limit his Motion to the reduction of the £5,000 for civil contingencies. Still he (Lord Elcho) was of opinion that the surplus over and above the purchase money for pictures each year should be carried over to the next; and that, if a special case arose, a special grant should be made for the purpose.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
trusted that the Committee, before coming to a vote on this question, would look to the real facts of the case, and would not be led away by any prejudice which might have been created by the unfair statements which had been made. It was admitted on all hands to be a matter of national policy that we should have a National Gallery. That Gallery had been 841 founded by gifts to the country, and it had been augmented by valuable purchases. Those purchases had been in successive years sanctioned by Parliament, and it was now agreed that the collection should be not only maintained, but increased from time to time by purchases. It was also agreed that they should devote, not a small sum, but £10,000 a year for the purchase of pictures for the enrichment of the National Gallery. That sum, therefore, was voted each year, and was placed at the disposal of a board of Trustees consisting of noblemen and gentlemen who were well acquainted with art, whose names were before the public, and who were the advisers of the Government with respect to the purchase of pictures. Their secretary and director was Sir C. Eastlake, the President of the Royal Academy, who, besides being himself a most accomplished artist, was intimately acquainted with the history of art and with the quality of pictures. If the Government were not to be justified in acting upon the advice of so eminent an authority in matters of painting their action would be paralyzed, and it would be impossible for them to take a step safely in any department of art. It was impossible for the Government to have special knowledge upon a subject of this sort, and if Sir C. Eastlake were eminently fitted by his qualifications to advise them, they were fully justified in acting upon the advice of the Board of Trustees, and Sir C. Eastlake, the director. Under these circumstances the Government were advised by the Trustees to purchase a picture of first-rate European celebrity—the Pisani picture of the "Family of Darius before Alexander," which had long enjoyed the reputation of being a genuine picture of Paul Veronese. Hon. Gentlemen had spoken as if there were a doubt of the genuineness of the picture. In page 41 of the Estimates, however, would be found a passage from the manuscript notes of a German writer named Rumohr—a gentleman of first-rate authority in matters of art—quite as high an authority as his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), as the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Coningham), or as Mr. Morris Moore. He ventured to think that on this subject Rumohr was quite equal to any of them, or to all of them put together. Rumohr said:—The celebrated picture of the wife of Darius mistaking Hephæstion for Alexander. In excellent condition; perhaps the only existing criterion 842 by which to estimate the genuine original colouring of Paul Veronese. It is remarkable how entirely the genius of the painter precludes criticism on the quaintness of the treatment. The treatment of colour, especially in the flesh, and the excellence of the execution, are such as to render us almost unjust to other great colourists. In the presence of this work we forget for a time all other productions in painting.Some years ago Lord Aberdeen authorized the purchase of this very picture for £10,000, and thought himself unfortunate in not being able to purchase it. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) apprehended, therefore, that there could be no doubt of the genuineness of the picture, of the reputation it enjoyed, and of the high value placed upon it. If a Government were to purchase pictures for a National Gallery, it seemed to him that they discharged their duty better by purchasing a great and celebrated picture, even at a high price, than by buying a number of second or third rate pictures. A nation could give high prices for pictures, and had large spaces in which to exhibit them; but few private individuals could hang up the Pisani picture of Paul Veronese, if it were presented to them, because no house of moderate dimensions would hold it. He contended, therefore, that such a picture was peculiarly fitted for a National Gallery. He had learned by experience, that there was scarcely any duty more difficult to discharge than that of buying pictures for a National Gallery—for himself, he declared that he would infinitely rather negotiate a loan for £10,000,000 than he; would undertake to purchase a single picture—yet he deliberately maintained that the Government were fully justified in having purchased this picture at the price they gave for it; and if they had to make the decision again, even after the criticisms of his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire and of his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, they would adopt precisely the same course as they had adopted. Did his noble Friend rest his case on the difference between £10,000 and £13,000? If so, that somewhat narrowed the point, because his noble Friend would admit that the finest picture in the world might be worth the larger sum. But his noble Friend said, the Government were wrong, because they gave too much for it. [Lord ELCHO: Hear, hear!] And because no picture by Paul Veronese was worth £13,000. But by what possible means: was the value of pictures to be ascertained? The Government were advised that 843 the value given for this picture was not excessive, and they accordingly offered it. Was this a vote of censure upon the Government or upon the Venetian school, or upon the painter Paul Veronese? He owned he could not understand where the censure was to lie. He had been told that forty or fifty years ago the two painters whose works fetched most at auctions in this country were Rubens and Salvator Rosa. Well, that had been altered, and now his noble Friend said, they ought to buy nothing but Pietro Perugino and the pure Italian school. [Lord ELCHO: No, no !] At all events, his noble Friend would not have the Venetian school. [Lord ELHO: Yes.] Well, then, his noble Friend said he would have the Venetian school. He was at a loss to know on what principle the Government were to buy pictures for the National Gallery, or how they were to escape censure next year, even if they sought to profit by the admonitions that had been addressed to them. He trusted that, after the conflicting opinions which had been given on the purchase of these pictures, the Committee would see the difficulty that the Government had to encounter. The Government had acted for the best, and if they had not made a wise choice, they had at least taken the best advice that they could obtain. With regard to the establishment charges of the National Gallery, they had been settled in 1854, in a Treasury minute, which had been acquiesced in by the House, and there was every reason to believe that they had met with approval. He trusted that the Committee would not, by adopting the Amendment, deprive the Government of all power of purchasing pictures for the nation.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, his advice to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he complained of the difficulty and opposition he encountered in purchasing pictures, was to buy no pictures. It was his intention to vote for every reduction of the vote for purchasing pictures, because he did not think the public received sufficient advantage for the money so laid out. He was also of opinion that the House had no right to tax for these pictures those who never enjoyed the sight of them. The Committee were, in fact, voting away the public money for their own amusement.
§ MR. COX
said, he would acquiesce in the suggestion of the noble Lord (Lord Elcho), and therefore he would beg that his Motion might be withdrawn, and that 844 the division should be taken on the reduction of the Vote by £6,541. He was astonished to hear it said by the Secretary for the Colonies that the House never appeared in so unfavourable a point of view as in looking after the expenditure of the people's money. He did not know what he had been sent to that House for, if not to look after the public expenditure.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that the hon. Gentleman had grossly, though of course unintentionally, misrepresented him. He did not say that the House was improperly occupied in canvassing the expenditure, but that he did not think it ever appeared to less advantage than when it was engaged in discussing the merits of individual objects of art.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
said, that he had been charged by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies with having made a personal attack upon Sir C. Eastlake. He had made no attack upon Sir C. Eastlake's character; he had only impugned his judgment and capacity as Governor of the National Gallery, and he submitted that he had fully established his case. The Report drawn up by the Committee of 1853, which was the production of a noble Lord, a personal friend of Sir C. Eastlake, did not venture to whitewash him, and it was so against the evidence, that the Chairman of the Committee protested against his own Report. Mr. Van Rumohr, who had been alluded to, was the author of a bad cookery-book, but being a dilettante, he had a collection of bad pictures. He was, however, a protégé of Dr. Waagen, who induced the Prussian Government to buy his bad pictures. With regard to Paul Veronese, he was a painter of the third class, whose pictures were not rare. Correggio was one of the rarest of the Italian masters, and yet two of his most splendid and beautiful pictures were bought a few years ago of the Marquess of Londonderry for £11,000, which was considered a large sum at the time. The sum of £13,000 for one of Paul Veronese's pictures was, therefore, an extravagant and monstrous amount. The fact was, that a wretched daub had been purchased, which was found not to be by Paul Veronese, and then this purchase was made to cover that mistake.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I must confess that the contrast which this discussion exhibits to the scene I have just 845 left produces a painful impression on my mind. I have just come from the town of Manchester, where the contributions of a few spirited and intelligent merchants have, at the expense of £100,000, procured for the people of that neighbourhood, and for those who choose to go there from other parts of the country, the temporary enjoyment of witnessing a magnificent collection of pictures; and now, when I arrive in this House, I find the representatives of the people haggling and boggling about a petty sum, and seeking to censure the Government for having given what my hon. Friend calls the excessive amount of pound;13,600 for a picture which the Secretary for the Colonies and the Secretary to the Treasury have properly denominated as a picture of worldwide reputation. It is in vain for the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Coningham) or for the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) or his valet de place in Venice, to tell us that Paul Veronese was not a master of great value, and that the picture in question is not one that eminently deserves a place in a national collection. It may be true that Paul Veronese is not reckoned so high as some other masters of whom the Committee has been told; but there is this peculiarity with respect to Paul Veronese, that not only is he a great example of colouring, but he is one of the most instructive painters in point of composition whose works could be placed in a gallery where instruction as well as gratification and enjoyment are the objects for which the pictures have been collected together. I hope the Committee, after having had the amusement of listening to the observations of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire, and hearing the personalities of the hon. Member for Brighton, who has probably vented his long-pent-up stream of indignation against that amiable, accomplished, and distinguished man, Sir Charles Eastlake—I hope, now that those two hon. Members have had their swing on their favourite topic—that the Committee will gravely and seriously consider the question before them, and will, if they think that Parliament was right in wishing this country to possess a gallery of pictures worthy of its reputation, if they think that Parliament was right in having placed at the disposal of the Government from year to year, a sum for the purchase of pictures—come to the conclusion that the Government has purchased for this 846 National Gallery a picture of great value, which has long been an object of attention to everybody who has visited the country where it was placed, which the Government of that country was very much indisposed to allow to quit their territory, and the possession of which will do honour to this country, and conduce greatly to the promotion of those objects for which a national gallery is useful and valuable. I trust that the Committee will regard the subject seriously, and not put it on the narrow ground on which it has been placed by some hon. Members, but will consider that the question on which we are about to vote is, whether this country is to add to the collection in the National Gallery, or whether Parliament will altogether change the system which has hitherto been pursued, and decide that henceforth no addition shall be made to the national collection of paintings.Motion made, and Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £16,624, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the National Gallery, including the purchase of Pictures, to the 31st day of March, 1858.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 89; Noes 194: Majority 105.
§ LORD ELCHO
then said, that he was sorry to give the Committee the trouble of dividing again, but the last was not the question on which he wished to take their opinion. His Motion referred to the salaries of the Secretary and Travelling Agent, and therefore, as he deemed that of the Secretary, which was fixed at £750, to be exorbitant, he should propose that it be reduced to £500; while, regarding the office of Travelling Agent to be vicious in principle, and useless in practice, he should propose that that office, as well as the salary attached to it—£300 per annum—be abolished. With that view, he should move that the Vote be reduced by a sum of £550.Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £22,615, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the National Gallery, including the purchase of Pictures, to the 31st day of March, 1858.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 123; Noes 161: Majority 38.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ The following Votes were also agreed to:—
§ (5.) £3,539, Magnetic Observations.
§ (6.) £500, Royal Geographical Society.
§ (7.) £1,000, Royal Society.
§ (8.) £3,050, Bermudas.847
§ (9.) £6,878, British North American Provinces.
§ (10). £3,541, Indian Department in Canada.
§ VISCOUNT BURY
said, that he rose in accordance with his notice to call the attention of the Committee to this subject, and to ask two questions of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He trusted he should justify himself in the eyes of the Committee for so doing by saying that when he had the charge of the department in Canada, to which the Vote referred, he had been directed to draw up a Report as to the most practicable mode of withdrawing this Vote from the Estimates. That Report had been officially submitted to the Government through Sir Edmund Head, but had not been adopted by the Colonial Office, and, although he could not venture to complain of that, he wished to state the reasons why he dissented from the principle upon which the Vote was framed. In the Report which he had prepared he had pointed out that if it was necessary that this item should be omitted from the Estimates the best plan to adopt would be to pay down a certain sum which, if administered with proper economy, would render the Department self-supporting. His suggestion then not having been adopted, as he had stated, he was induced to lay before the Committee certain facts connected with this matter, in the hope of persuading the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies to reconsider the opinion which he had pronounced in his despatch. The present state of the Indian Department was by no means satisfactory, and might easily be amended by putting the whole charge of the Department upon the Canadian Legislature. The Committee was aware that the sum which used to appear on the Estimate had been greatly reduced, the sum which used to be employed in purchasing presents for the Indians having been no longer needed, and all the money now asked for was for the support of the Indian Department in Canada, so that the Vote which a few years ago was something between £12,000 and £14,000 had now dwindled down to £3,500. This country had assumed the care of the Indians in such a manner that to do away now with the support which was granted to them would assume the appearance of a breach of faith. He was aware that some persons said that the Indian tribes were in a moribund state, and the sooner they were destroyed the 848 better; but the weakness of a dependent was no reason, in his opinion, for withdrawing all support after this country had assumed the care of them. Others, again, said that the presents to the Indians produced a demoralizing effect, and in that opinion he concurred, for he knew that as soon as the rifles or coats or blankets were given to them they used to sell them, and get very drunk with the money. He did not approve of the system of presents, but he could not assent to the principle of putting the whole charge of the Department on the Indian funds. Almost all the tribes in Upper Canada had had a reserve of land for their own use, which becoming more valuable from the spread of white settlements had been sold, and, the proceeds having been invested, had become a small annuity, and upon that fund it was proposed to place the whole charge of the Indian Department. The result of such a proceeding would inevitably be to swamp those funds. The books of the Department, containing registers of the land sales, were voluminous; the correspondence was very extensive; and the interests of a large proportion of the white population who had purchased lands from the Indians were involved in this question. That was one argument against the abolition of the department, but his principal reason for objecting to such a measure was the total ruin in which it would involve the red men. He would also ask the Committee to consider whether the Indian funds were capable of sustaining the burden which it was proposed to throw upon them. In 1855 the cost of this department exceeded £8,000, £4,777 of which was defrayed from the Indian funds, and the balance was provided from the Imperial exchequer. The proceeds of the Indian lands were about £9,000, and if the whole of this charge were thrown upon the Indians they would have only about £350 left for the support of 6,300 persons. The Indians, he must observe, could not enter into competition with white labourers, in consequence of their ignorance of the English language. With regard to the question whether the Imperial Government ought or ought not to support these Indians, he rested his case upon the practice which had hitherto been pursued. Great Britain, in dealing with the aboriginal tribes, had recognized a species of sovereignty in the red population, and had promised them protection in return for the territory they had ceded. During the American wars 849 we had petted the Indians and made them most glowing promises, but when they were no longer useful as military allies our sympathy for them seemed to have ceased. A Committee of that House which sat in 1837 expressed an opinion that, as far as was practicable, the Indians should be placed solely and entirely under the control of the Imperial authority, and the same view had been taken by Lord Glenelg, Colonel Bruce, Lord Elgin, and others who had considered the subject. He (Viscount Bury) thought that if for the purpose of saving a trifling expense, they took this small sum from the remnant of a great people, they were submitting this country to great degradation, He thought they ought manfully to face this difficulty, and he would leave the matter in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. He wished, before he sat down, to call the attention of the Colonial Secretary to the claims of the old officers of this department, who had entered it at a time when they were required to perform military services, and in the expectation that when they were invalided or were no longer fit for service some provision would be made for them. Four of these officers, namely, Mr. Chesney, Captain Anderson, Colonel Napier, and Mr. Ironside, had served with great distinction in the department for upwards of forty years, and he hoped the Government would consider their claims to retiring pensions.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he was sure the Committee would be of opinion that his noble Friend had only taken a very natural and honourable course in pleading, in his place in Parliament, for those who were the special objects of his care when he was at the head of the Indian department in Canada. The noble Lord had on this occasion expressed similar opinions to those which he had communicated officially to the Government, and he (Mr. Labouchere) could only repeat the answer which he had given to the noble Lord in his official capacity. It was quite true that the expense of the Indian department had been in the course of regular and constant diminution for several years. He must say, however, that the House had not acted harshly or precipitately, but had always desired, in carrying out what they conceived to be just and proper principles, to do so with as little inconvenience as possible to those Indians whose interests were affected. Earl Grey, when Secretary of 850 State for the Colonies, gave notice of his intention to withdraw the chief item of expense, the presents to the Indians. At that time the sum voted by the House was £13,000 or £14,000. All that was asked for this year was about £3,500. The chief point in dispute between himself and his noble Friend was as to the management of the Indian estates. His noble Friend thought that the cost of management should be defrayed by the Imperial Government, while he (Mr. Labouchere) held that, as a general principle, where estates were granted for a particular object, the cost of management ought to come out of the estates themselves, and could see no reason why this principle should be departed from in the case of the Indians. In considering this question he had had the benefit of two Reports,—one from his noble Friend, advocating the views which he had expressed in that House, and the other from his immediate predecessor, Mr. Oliphant, who entertained entirely opposite opinions. The able Governor General of Canada, Sir E. Head, would soon be in England on leave, and he (Mr. Labouchere) would discuss this subject with him and obtain his advice upon it. What his noble Friend suggested was that the Government should ask that House to vote a sum of £80,000, which should be invested in Canadian securities, and the interest of which should be devoted to Indian purposes. He (Mr. Labouchere) felt that such would not be a proper application of the funds of this country, and that he could not ask the House for any such sum. He himself felt the greatest sympathy with the Indians, whose welfare must, be believed, depend mainly on the conduct of the Canadians and of the Canadian Government, and it was therefore with much pleasure that he had that day learned that an Act had passed the Colonial Legislature, giving to the Indians the same political privileges as were enjoyed by the whites. He gave his noble Friend full credit for the ability with which he managed the affairs of the Indian department while he was at its head, and for the zeal with which he had brought this subject before the House. He could assure him that his attention would continue to be directed to this subject, and that it would be his anxious desire to do what was right by this very interesting portion of the Canadian population. As to the details of the pensions he was at present not sufficiently 851 informed, but he would make inquiries into that part of the subject.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that some years ago he visited some of these Indian settlements. He found the people exceedingly comfortable and very well spoken of by their neighbours. His impression was that the grant ought to be withdrawn.
§ SIR EDWARD BUXTON
said, that the position of the Indians must mainly depend on the conduct of the Canadian Legislature. He hoped, however, that Her Majesty's Government would keep an eye on these Indians until they settled down into the habits of civilization.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.