HC Deb 04 April 1862 vol 166 cc547-8

Sir, in the year 1858 a vote was obtained from the House of a sum of £6,000 towards the completion of the Monument of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square. The design of the granite lions, which are indispensable to the adornment of the base, was subsequently intrusted, not to a sculptor, but to a very distinguished artist; and although nearly four years have elapsed, they have not been completed. During the present year we may expect a very large concourse of foreigners as visitors in London, and I cannot but think that the sight of the incomplete memorial to the greatest of our Admirals will be regarded as a national reproach. I remember reading in the works of one of the greatest of Roman historians (Sallust) that his nation—a nation of conquerors—in their palmiest days would say that the sight of the statues of their distinguished men wonderfully inflamed their minds to the love of virtue; that it was not the speaking brass, the likeness or the figure, which possessed such intrinsic power, but that the memory of their exploits was revived in their hearts, and kindled a flame which was not to be quenched before they had striven to rival their fame and glory. Such are the motives with which we raise statues to the departed: not only to express gratitude and admiration, but to quicken in the minds of their successors the type of excellence, and animate them to like imitations. The monument of Nelson, I regret to think, was not completed even in its present state without the aid of a munificent foreign Emperor. We may be unable to afford a parallel to the splendid buildings, the magnificent collections of art, and the richly-stored galleries of the continent; but at least we may show that we have the will and purpose to attest an equal reverence with them for the memory of the men who have deserved well of their country. It is distressing—it cannot be otherwise than distressing to every Englishman—to see in the grandest portion of the capital—in the greatest thoroughfare, leading to the wealth of the City, the chambers of legislation, and the palace of the Sovereign— the monument of the first and noblest of our Admirals left incomplete, owing to a remissness which I cannot think excusable. I therefore will ask to what quarter we are to attribute the lamentable delay which amounts almost to neglect? If ever there was a man of whom there was but one opinion, that man is Nelson: endeared to the nation not only by the devotion of a life, but by the sacrifice of the body, pale n and mutilated in his country's service. Kept alive for years, as I may say, only by the undaunted spirit within. One of whom, as Tacitus said of his great countryman, Agricola, "we may reiterate, what we loved, what we admired, in him dwells, and will ever abide in the hearts of men with the eternity of time and the glory of it." I hope that hon. Members on each side of the House will respond to the appeal I will now make to the Government no longer to permit this disgrace, but at once determine, with justice and prudence, to complete the Nelson Monument in a perfect state, agreeably with the original design.