§ MR. W. H. GREGORY
said, he regretted that, owing to the forms of the House, in consequence of the division that had taken place, he was unable to do more than to raise a discussion, but was unfortunately prevented from testing the feeling of Parliament upon his Resolution. The subject he was about to bring forward hardly required a long-speech. It was one generally understood—one upon which most people felt strongly one way or the other, and upon which very little new light could be thrown by any speaker. He thought, however, that his Resolution—the passing of which was regarded with so much interest by so large a portion of the London working population—as the huge Petitions by his side, signed by 47,000 of its inhabitants, sufficiently proved, and which was supported by the names of 1255 the most eminent men in England, should he thoroughly discussed find tested in a new, and above all, a Reformed Parliament. He (Mr. Gregory) had used the expression that the most eminent men in the kingdom were favourable to the opening of galleries and museums on Sunday afternoon, for in 1860, a Memorial was presented to Her Majesty, signed by 943 gentlemen connected with literature, science, and the fine arts, to this effect—"That if the public museums and galleries were open to the public on Sunday afternoons it would be an inestimable been to the labouring population, would raise up an opposing principle to intemperance and immorality, and in every way advance the condition of the people." To this Petition he found appended the names most famous in science, art, and literature in England, and this day he had presented another similar Petition, with the same object, from the same class. He had, on the other hand, never heard that a Petition signed by men eminent in anything had ever been presented against those relaxations of Sabbatical severity which had from time to time been demanded and conceded. Another reason had influenced him in the wish to have this subject once more thoroughly sifted, and that was that since 1866, when it was last discussed, a great concession had been made in Dublin. The Botanical Gardens, near to Dublin, and the National Gallery of pictures had been thrown open on Sunday, and it was expected that the other museums, when in a fit state to receive, the public, would, in compliance with the recommendation of the Select Committee of 1864, be also opened. He would presently show how far this concession justified the fears of the opponents of Sunday opening or confirmed those who were in favour of it. But before going into these matters he would be glad to get rid entirely of the religious element, that is, so far as appealing to Scripture, freeing themselves from the confusion of the Christian Sunday with the Mosaic Sabbath. He would simply remark to those who regarded Sunday as the Sabbath, that the tendency of the New Testament, whenever the Sabbath was referred to, was not to draw tighter but to relax its severity, and that our idea of the Sunday restriction was pushed to an extreme which the Jews themselves did not recognize as imposed by the Law of 1256 Moses. They abstained from work, but not from recreation. He might also remark that the sentiments and teaching of the primitive Church was entirely free from that severity which we impose by legislation. So was the authority of the bulk of subsequent Christian churches; such were the views of Luther, Melancthon, and, he might add, Calvin. Such were the views of the early English Reformers, especially of Cranmer, as might be seen in his Visitation Articles. Such were the views of that eminent man, Dr. Arnold, who had so deeply influenced the thought of the present time. Such also were the opinions of the Rev. Newman Hall, the well known and excellent Dissenting minister, who, though opposed to Sunday opening, stated, in his evidence last year, that his opposition was based, not on grounds of religion but of social advantage; and he did not scruple to add that he would prefer to have galleries and museums open and the public-houses shut, rather than have open public-houses, and closed galleries. He (Mr. Gregory) would not have ventured to have dwelt so long on the religious portion of the question, but from the fact that so large a number of persons were influenced by religious motives only apart from all social considerations. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), when speaking on this subject, some years since, treated it purely as a religious question. The hon. and learned Gentleman said on that occasion—Who can deny that the general testimony of the religions bodies of the country, and the great majority of religious men of the country, were opposed to the opening? Let the House take the testimony and rely on the judgments of those on whose convictions the institution rests. If the ministers of religion are more active than others, the reason, no doubt, is that they know better than others what the interests of religion really are.Now this appeared to him a most un tenable and intolerable doctrine, that the clergy of a Protestant country, and the self-styled religious people were to have the power of saying—" We are the elect; we know what the interests of religion really are; this or that is connected with religion, and we alone are competent to pronounce an opinion on it." Claims such as those had been asserted in a variety of cases; the running of trains; the imbibing of a glass of beer; the playing of bands; to go even further 1257 the grant for Maynooth. All these subjects he great mass of the ministers of the Church and of religious men so-called had endeavoured to identify with religion and to constitute themselves arbiters of and so they should be according to the claims advanced for them by the hon. and learned Gentleman. But he went even farther, and said—If we assert that it is a fit thing to invite the working classes to a place of secular amusement, however refined, or of secular instruction, however excellent, upon a day consecrated hitherto to religion, we shall be putting intellect into competition with religion, and in that way, putting the Museum in competition with the Church.A more unfortunate doctrine than this to broach he could scarcely conceive. Because a day was devoted to religion, therefore the bulk of British subjects was to be confined strictly to the contemplation of religion alone, whether they wished it or not. Intellect was described as being in competition with religion, and. as it were, the foe of religion, instead of being considered, as it ought to be the champion of religion—the first illustrating and confirming: the second elevating and ennobling the other. He (Mr. Gregory) regretted to find that a man so benevolent and so able could be found to argue that penalties and restrictions and inconveniences should be imposed on his fellow-countrymen, on the ground of maintaining and upholding religion. Half the sorrows and crimes of centuries had arisen from the temporal arm being raised to vindicate what was supposed to be the will of God. The same Kirk which spread desolation and terror through Scotland, by enlisting the State in its persecution of witchcraft, would still enlist the State to make one day in the week a day of gloom and misery to millions of their fellow-Christians; and a new Synod of Aberdeen, though it might not send Sabbath-breakers to the fire and water and the boot, would not be less willing than its predecessor of 1603 to inflict the most grievous punishments on these supposed enemies of God. No! for Heaven's sake, let this question not be argued on religious grounds, or upon the opinion of clergymen, or of the devour portion of the community: bearing in mind the memorable words of the historian, who wrote the history of the black and bitter days of English persecutions, that—"The worst curse 1258 which had afflicted the world was the tyranny of mistaken conscientiousness." It was quite another thing to take the line of the Rev. Newman Hall, and to argue this matter as one of social advantage. That was perfectly fair and legitimate. One could then discuss the ease on the ground of morality, and of public advantage, and support one's argument by authority and experience, without being at once poleaxed by the verdict of the so-called religious world. Now, before going into this branch of the argument, he would wish to place his cards on the table, and to let his views on the subject be clearly understood. He (Mr. Gregory) was as ready as the Chairman of the Lord's Day Observance Society itself to look upon the Sunday, and to maintain the Sunday, as a day set apart for religion, rest, and recreation. For religion in the first place—for rest and harmless recreation afterwards. Without taking the superstitious view of it, he would resist any innovation upon what he might call the solemnity of the Sunday, with as much earnestness as the most devoted Sabbatarian. Last year, in a debate upon the Sunday Evening Lectures Bill, the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) drew a comparison between three ideal Sundays—the French, the Scotch, and the English, and he entirely agreed with the hon. Member. If he (Mr. Gregory) deprecated the stern and gloomy character of the Scotch maintenance of Sunday, he still more disapproved of the utter want of reverence which characterized the proceedings on Sunday in many parts of Europe. It was most revolting to him to see in the great capital of France large numbers of the working classes in their working dresses, and engaged in their ordinary labour; and he sincerely trusted that the working classes of England would never be induced to tolerate, for one moment, the view adopted by too many of their French neighbours—that the Sunday might be a day of work in the morning, so long as it might be an evening of dissipation. There remained the English view, which he thought was the right one—namely, that every inducement should be adopted to bring the mass of the population to religious worship in the morning, and that the afternoon might be employed in innocent or profitable recreation. Such observ- 1259 ancc of the Sunday as this was best for the moral and physical improvement of the masses in the great towns. Nothing could be more true, or, indeed, more touching, than Archbishop Manning's evidence last year before the Committee on the Sale of Beer—I believe that where men's minds and bodies have been in 1 stare of tension for six days in the week, it is absolutely necessary for them to have more than the simple use of their limbs. I think they require something that shall cheer life, and give them new ideas; but they do not get it.… I do not think we have done enough for the working people in our huge towns. In the country, our people have the fields, and the trees, and the sun, and their children to walk with them; and I believe that they have thus very great mental relief upon their only day of rest; but I do not think that in London or any of our largo towns, our poor working men do get the relief they want.This view has been corroborated by the testimony of those who could speak with authority on the subject. He found the evidence of the London police magistrates—than, whom none could speak with greater power as to what would most conduce to mitigate drunkenness and brutality in the metropolis—unanimous in favour of increasing innocent recreation for the working classes on the Sunday. Such was the opinion of Mr. Norton, of Lambeth Police Court: of Mr. Hardwick, of the Marlborough Street Court; of Mr. Long, of the Marylebone; and of Mr. Coombe, of the Southwark—of these he would only quote one sentence; from Mr. Long, and another from Sir Richard Mayne. Mr. Long said—Encourage the people to take innocent recreation on Sunday, and you will confer a great benefit on society. In proportion as you give people better taste, they will relinquish low sensualities.Sir Richard Mayne reported—I have seen a great improvement in the people, and consider part of it, at least, to be owing to the greater opportunities which have been given in their amusement, and the employment of their time on Sundays, in other places than public-houses —Richmond Park, Hampton Court Palace and Grounds, the Botanical and Pleasure Gardens at Kew, and Bushy Park, attract large numbers on the summer Sundays, and I do not think I have been obliged to increase the numbers of police in these places, although the attendance has so largely increased.And to this, he would add the confirmatory statement of Lord Llanover, when Chief Commissioner of the Board of Works, who stated—The Sunday visitors to Kensington Gardens had, by the band playing, increased from 7,000 to 30,000. In the Regent's and Victoria Parks, 1260 190,000 had been present at the playing of the bands, and so far from tumult or disorder arising, he had ascertained from the magistrates of the neighbouring police courts, that the Monday morning cases had decreased.This was London experience. Now, let him ask their attention to Dublin experience. A few years ago there was a demand, in Dublin, that the Botanical Gardens at Glasnevin should be opened to the public after the hour of Divine service. He (Mr. Gregory) gave notice of a Resolution to give effect to the generally expressed wish. Immediately throughout England and Scotland a cry arose of profanation of the Lord's day—just as at present, Petitions poured in and deputations beleaguered the public offices—but the loudest accents of religious indignation arose from the members of the Royal Dublin Society, who had the management and control of the gardens, although the whole expense of them was paid by the State. These gentlemen had the exclusive privilege of walking during the Sunday in these gardens—and they did use them—they and their wives and their little ones, without let or hindrance. There was no Sabbath breaking then. The Lord's Day was duly observed so long as they had the Gardens to themselves; but, as soon as they found that the poor sons of toil, who had been labouring all the week, were desirous to intrude upon their privacy, no words could describe the horror they felt of the profanation of the Sabbath. They intimated that, though a Sunday walk in these Gardens was lawful and expedient for them, it would sap all feeling of reverence for the Lord's Day in the minds of their poorer brethren. They prophesied every imaginable evil; that the people would get drunk; that they would be establishing a kind of Donnybrook fair; that they would smash the flower pots, and rush like savages through, the flower beds; and lastly, they said the people did not wish to go at all. But the Government was firm—the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Lowe), then Vice President of the Council, accepted his (Mr. Gregory's) proposal —the Gardens were opened. They said the people would not come —in 1860, after the opening, 270,547 persons visited them; of these 212,330 were Sunday visitors, and only 58,217 week-day. They said the people would commit mischief, and smash all before 1261 them—the intelligent and most able curator, Mr. Moore, had told him recently, that nothing could be move exemplary than the conduct of the masses who had come there; that not the slightest injury had ever been done, and that the people themselves, looking now for the first time on these Gardens as their property, were the best police that could be employed, As to drunkenness, so far from its being increased, he (Mr. Gregory) had the testimony of the magistrate residing in the neighbourhood that it had decreased; and, although over a million of persons had visited these Gardens since their opening, he had that morning received a letter from Mr. Moore stating that only one person had been removed for drunkenness. The Government was so satisfied with the result of this experiment that the National Gallery in Dublin was also opened on the Sunday, and it was thronged with members of the working classes. The late Director, Mr. Mulvany, had asked him (Mr. Gregory) more than once to go with him on the Sunday to see the class of people who frequented the Gallery and how they behaved. He had done so, and he could bear this testimony,—the rooms were crowded with persons who seemed to have been of the wage classes, they were accompanied by their wives and children; they seemed to derive the greatest enjoyment from looking at the collection of very bad pictures, and nothing could have been more decorous than their conduct. This was the result of his own experience. Now he would give one more example of the beneficial effect of innocent recreation on the Sunday. Sir Joseph Paxton, in his evidence before the Public House Committee, in 1864, mentioned that from 500 to 800 persons used to come from Sheffield on a Sunday to visit the Duke of Devonshire's Gardens at Chatsworth, which were freely opened to them. Owing to alterations going on, the Gardens had to be shut for the time; but Sunday drunkenness increased so much in the neighbourhood that. Sir Joseph had to request the Duke, in spite of the works going on, to throw open the Grounds again, and drunkenness ceased as if by magic. He (Mr. Gregory) had already shown drunkenness had ceased in the neighbourhood of Kew since the opening of the Gardens. But he (Mr. Gregory) would go still further. He would maintain 1262 that the opening of scientific and artistic institutions, so far from placing the intellect at war with religion, would be the means of exciting thought and reverence among vast masses of men who never thought nor revered at present. You know you cannot force the people into your churches. The very persons who have most need of moral influence stand aloof. He did not pretend to say that the Sunday opening would wean the profligate from profligacy, or the drunkard from the gin bottle; but there were thousands of persons whose hearts might be stirred to thought and reflection from the contemplation of the noble works of nature and of man that these collections would afford them. You cannot awaken that thought and reflection by your churches. Try then other means which are harmless and even praiseworthy. "Which was nearest to religion, science or sensuality?" was a question put by Mr. John Stuart Mill. Well, what objections remained?—That additional expense might be incurred. He (Mr. Gregory) only noticed this because he had seen it referred to with some stress in certain newspapers—but what would it amount to? Scarcely anything. The additional expense of opening Kew Gardens on Sunday was £150 per annum, which, on calculation, was less than £1 per 1.000 visitors. The only institutions to be opened in London by his Resolution would be the British Museum, Jermyn Street, South Kensington Museum, National Gallery; and there would be none else that he was aware of at present in England. Then came the argument against additional Sunday labour. He had asked Mr. Cole, and was informed by him that, as regards the Kensington Galleries, he would just require four men and no more in addition to those necessarily employed. Dr. Gray, of the British Museum, gave additional testimony as to the small increase of attendants that would be required. If any attendant had conscientious objections he could be excused, and he (Mr. Gregory) verily | believed that if all the museums and. galleries in London were opened, there would not be required more than forty attendants, in addition to those at present employed. He (Mr. Gregory) laid some stress on these figures, for the | opponents of Sunday opening were loud in their denunciation of the additional labour which this opening would impose; 1263 and yet it turned out to be perfectly infinitesimal, if compared with the unnecessary work now done on Sundays and which was tolerated and even hardly objected to. But the most formidable argument of all, and one which seemed to exercise the greatest weight on Her Majesty's Government, was that it was unwise: except for some very marked advantage, to give a universal shock to men's consciences by accepting a proposal, even though the proposal might be good in itself. He (Mr. Gregory) was not unwilling to entertain that view of the matter. For that reason he had excepted Scotland from the Resolution, for he believed that, in Scotland, the mass of public opinion and even of enlightened opinion was in favour of a strict and stern observance of what was there considered to be the Sabbath. He only hoped that time and thought and the experiences derived from Ireland and England would mitigate that feeling, but he would leave all that to time, which worked many wonders. But he denied the shock to the public conscience of England—it was clear it did not exist in Ireland—nothing in his opinion would be more unfair than to judge of English opinion by the petitions presented. They were presented chiefly by the Dissenting congregations—who had the most ample machinery for the purpose—they emanated from persons in all parts of England who never could be affected by the Resolution. The great masses of the working classes, agricultural and manufacturing, throughout the country, must be indifferent to the opening of museums and galleries which they could never hope to see. It was not a practical question coming home to them, and they took no trouble in the matter. It was not a practical question either to the upper class, who could go to these galleries every day of the week; it did not come home to them, and they took no trouble about it; but the opposition came from congregations who sought to enforce their religions views on the consciences of others who entirely differed from them. He (Mr. Gregory) repudiated in the strongest terms this assumed right of one man to subject others to burdens and annoyances and restrictions on account of his conscientious and religious scruples. Nay more than this—in his opinion the views of the persons in the only places where these galleries would 1264 be found, that is Dublin and London, ought mainly if not chiefly, to be considered. It was clear that in Dublin the feeling was universal. He (Mr. Gregory) believed that if the feeling in London could be ascertained, there would be a large preponderance of the classes for whom the privilege was intended in its favour. But they should bear in mind that the advocates of the measure were poor men, disunited, and entirely without the necessary machinery for getting up the steam. But the numerous Petitions presented from London were a proof of the strong feeling entertained, and even if the petitioners were in a minority still their wishes should prevail. The House of Commons had recognized that feeling by refusing the Permissive Bill and by not allowing a clearly ascertained and bonâ fide majority to interfere with the wishes and comforts of a minority, even in a case where unquestionably the closing of public-houses would be a social advantage. Now, if this were some new proposition, some positive infringement of principle for the first time, he (Mr. Gregory) could understand the argument of the shock to the national conscience. But the national conscience must be a very extraordinary and elastic piece of composition if it be shocked at the opening of the Picture Gallery at Trafalgar Square on a Sunday, and be in quiescence at the opening of the Picture Galleries at Hampton Court on the same day. It seemed to resolve itself to this—Put the poor artizan to as much expense and trouble as you can, and he may enter a national picture gallery on a Sunday—that is no national sin—give facilities to him and to his poor over-worked wife and children to enjoy the works of nature and of man on a Sunday afternoon—a wet Sunday perhaps, when otherwise he would not stir from his confined abode—let him be subjected neither to expense nor to inconvenience, and at: once you incur the guilt of a transgression, of what some very good people chose to call, the Divine will. As Bishop Butler somewhere says—"We make uncommonly free with God's name on far too many occasions." What nonsense it was to talk of the Saturday half-holiday as sufficient! Hundreds of working men had said to him it was a cruel mockery, and so was week-day evening opening. He had not long since met two men in the National Gallery 1265 between twelve and one at dinner-hour in their working dress. They asked him where the Spanish pictures were, and said they had seen some notice about them in some newspaper, and they had just run in for a minute to have a look. They expressed a great anxiety to have the galleries opened on Sunday. He (Mr. Gregory) asked if they could not visit them on Saturday afternoons. They said if was impossible—they had to go home and clean themselves—they were weary after the week's work—they would wish to take the old woman and children with them—the very expression employed—but that could not be done, as she had to tidy at home, to pay bills, and to get things ready for Sunday. In short, Saturday was to them a useless privilege. But the experiment has been actually tried, and it had failed. Sir Dominick Corrigan, in his evidence before the Science and Art Commission in Dublin, last year, stated that they had opened the Zoological Gardens, near Dublin, at 1d. admission, after five o'clock, but the people did not come; they then abolished the 1d. admission on week days, and established it on Sundays, and now they had on Sundays 5,000 or 6,000 people constantly in the Gardens. He said that there had been no misbehaviour; it brought the people, with their wives and children, to these Gardens, and weaned them from the public-houses, and that the strong feeling which originally prevailed against these Sunday openings had practically disappeared. Well, but say our opponents, —"We must draw the line somewhere, and as we have a line drawn we must stick to it, or the next thing will be a demand for the opening of theatres and casinos." He (Mr. Gregory) perfectly agreed in this—that a line should be drawn somewhere, as hard and as fast a line as they could wish, only let it be logical and consistent. Do not draw a line opening picture galleries at Hampton Court, and closing them at Trafalgar Square. Say distinctly—"We will open those places of recreation which, are universally acknowledged to be innocent and profitable on week days." As for theatres and casinos, no one would more distinctly oppose them than himself, and such were the universal sentiments of those who were working with him. Dublin had relaxed the severity of its Sunday, and nowhere was Sunday better 1266 observed than in Ireland. This relaxation had not produced the smallest movement in favour of the opening of theatres. The idea had never even been hinted at. The working classes in London who advocated this relaxation were not influenced by any notion of weakening the reverence for a due observance of the Seventh Day. They had no wish to secularize it, or to infringe upon its rest. They abominated the idea of its becoming a day of work. Their fixed belief was, that this addition of innocent recreation to rest from toil would make the Sunday more dear and highly prized than it ever was before. A Memorial from the Sunday League, which was presented some time ago to the Prime Minister, gave unequivocal testimony to this effect. It stated that they regarded Sunday as one of the greatest blessings to the middle and working classes; and, so far from advocating anything that would lead to its desecration, they were only anxious that, on that day of devotion, they should also have some means of innocent enjoyment, and that as they claimed for themselves full liberty of conscience and action, they honoured and respected the devotional observance of others. They altogether objected to the introduction of labour on the Sunday; but they asserted that, owing to the present absence of all recreation, large numbers in certain trades were accustomed to work on Sundays, in order that they might make holiday at other times. This was corroborated by a Petition he was about to present, signed by fifty shoemakers, who stated that they worked during Sundays because they had no means of innocent enjoyment, and preferred to work at home rather than to go to the gin palace. If his Resolution were carried, so far from its weakening religious feeling, or diminishing the reverence and attachment to the Sunday, which was undoubtedly a strong English instinct, it would have a totally different effect. He believed that the success of his Resolution would carry with it attachment to a reverence for the Sunday among the working classes who thought and read. He believed it would bring thought and reflection to numbers who never thought or reflected before. He believed it would bring many to religion whom the ministrations of any Church had never reached. It would restore 1267 respect for religion among thousands who now hated the very name, and held aloof with suspicion from its ministers, because they believed that they, under the name of religion, were depriving them of enjoyments for which they were taxed and which they had a right to—and how could it be otherwise? Could the present system conduce to love or reverence for the Sunday in the minds of the working classes of London —for ail his observations wore now confined to London? Let them picture to themselves the Sunday afternoon of the rich, and the Sunday afternoon of the poor—pleasure, liberty, for the one; listlessness, apathy—in too many eases drunkenness —for the other. Let them conceive the feelings of the poor hard-worked artizan. He goes to the Regent's Park on Sunday—he sees the road blocked up with carriages and horses—he sees thousands of well-dressed persons flaunting and flirting, and enjoying themselves in the Zoological Gardens. He knows that the ground of the Zoological Gardens was let by the Government, and the Government could close them on Sunday if it pleased; but there was no sin in letting them be kept open for the rich. He goes through St. James' Street and Pall Mall, he sees the clubs open and thronged, and the tables spread, with everything that wealth can command—Sunday was a pleasant day in these places and to these folks. He sees those who have money and carriages, careless and gay, going off to Hampton Court to walk through galleries and gardens, which the State keeps up for those who are able to get to them. There was no sin in this. He asks to be permitted to enter similar galleries in London —then at once he is told that to give him that permission would be a violation of the national conscience and an offence in the eyes of God. Now, he asked those who refused to grant these poor people some few short hours of innocent recreation—some few glimpses of beauty, some few faint beams of high and pure enjoyment after that dismal round of drudgery and care which they had gone through during the week—whether such a course could inspire anything else, more especially after this debate, than a deep feeling of resentment and even hatred to religion? Compare, for a moment, the Sunday of the country, and the Sunday of the town. With the one, 1268 the afternoon walk, green fields, wild flowers, singing birds, pure air and clear skies. With the other, hot deserted streets, brawling crowded alleys, ribaldry and oaths, or else, close confined ill-ventilated rooms and the gin palace as the refuge and recreation. You cannot give the pure air, and the green fields and the clear sky; but the little alleviation you can give you refuse, and in doing so you invoke the name of God whose most glorious attributes in the hearts of Christian men are mercy and beneficence. He asked the aid of Her Majesty's Government on this occasion; they knew well enough that the real feeling of the House was with him, and that were this Resolution tested by the ballot, it would be carried by an immense majority. Nothing would be easier than for the Government to declare that they would place certain specified museums and galleries in London on the same footing as the galleries in Hampton Court. The Government faced quite as great a clamour once before in Dublin, and such had been the good effects that the clamour had long since died away. The forms of the House prevented him from going to a division, or he should have felt himself bound to ascertain whether a Reformed House of Commons would declare in favour of maintaining a course of legislation which, while permitting to the rich every kind of enjoyment and improvement on the Sunday, denied to the hard - worked mechanics in the capital of England the only chance they ever could enjoy of raising their thoughts above the level of their daily toil, and of becoming better and nobler by that nobility of thought, which the famous works of men and the wondrous works of God conferred on those who sought to penetrate their meaning.
§ MR. W. S. ALLEN
* Sir, I regret exceedingly that the forms of the House do not permit me to move the Amendment which stands in my name, and that the hon. Member for Galway is not able to divide the House on this occasion; because I believe, if it had been in his power to have done so, his Motion would: have been negatived by a large and i decisive majority. It is worthy of remark that this Motion has already been presented to the House in three different forms; as it was first put on the Notice Paper, it proposed to "open all Museums 1269 and Galleries supported by the State, after Morning Service on Sundays"; as it was put on the Notice Paper the second time, it proposed to open those supported by the State in England and Ireland—the hon. Member for Gal-way no doubt feeling a wholesome fear of Scotch Members on a question like the present; and as it now, in its third form, stands on the Notice Paper, it proposes to open the British, the South Kensington, and the Jermyn Street Museums and the National Gallery on Sunday afternoons; but the principle in each case has been the same, and it is to that principle that I, and those who act, with me in this House, and, as we believe, millions out-of-doors are decidedly opposed. It maybe in the recollection of many hon. Members that it is now some thirteen years ago since a similar Resolution was submitted to the House by Sir Joshua Walmsley, and when the division took place on that occasion the numbers were 376 against the Motion, and 48 for it. Now, I do not think I am stating too much when I say that the division which then took place thoroughly represented the general feeling of the, people of this country, and what I am prepared to maintain is, that since that, time there has been no material change in the opinion of the people, except it be, that there is now a stronger dislike than ever to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. I do not argue this question from a strictly Sabbatarian point of view. The hon. Gentleman, however, has quoted Scripture, and, to his quotation, I reply that I take my creed on this subject from the words of One who said—"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." The hon. Gentleman has brought forward the opinions of many eminent men who, he states are in favour of his Motion. In reply to that I can simply say that there are very many more eminent men in favour of the other side of the question. And, although they may differ on some points, the common consent of Christianity at all times has pretty well agreed in this view of the case, that one day in seven should be sot apart as a day of rest and devotion. Now, what were the arguments of the hon. Member in favor of his proposal"? He says that there are no placef of recreation, except public-houses, open to the working classes on Sundays, and he has quoted the opinion 1270 of the Rev. Newman Hall on this subject—"that he would rather open museums than public-houses on Sunday." His argument may be a very good one in favour of shutting-up public-houses altogether on the Lord's Day, and thereby putting an end to the temptation which they offer, but I submit it is a very poor argument for opening the National Gallery and British Museum on Sundays as well. I firmly believe that if the Bill of the hon. Member for Chichester had passed into law last year, it would have been one of the greatest benefits ever conferred upon the working classes of this country—but I deny that we have any right to charge the drunkenness, misery, and crime at present existing to the fact that the British Museum and National Gallery are not open on Sunday afternoon, because these things are rather due to our own legislation in permitting public-houses to be open during so long a period on the Sabbath. Then the hon. Member said if we could but tempt men away from public-houses they would not get drunk, but would go to these museums instead. I grant you they would visit these places, but would they not require refreshments after they came out of them? I think there can be no question that if you were to open these places on Sundays a fresh crop of public-houses and gin palaces would spring up in their immediate neighbourhood, so that instead of mitigating the evils of of which we at present complain, you would only increase them. The hon. Member has also brought forward, in a new dress, the old argument that you cannot make people religious by Act of Parliament, or, as he called it—" employing the secular arm in propagating religion," and I quite agree with him; but, while I frankly admit the folly of attempting to make men religious by Acts of Parliament, I equally assert the folly of holding out inducements to irreligion by the legislation of this House. It is one thing for the law to say to a man—if you do not go to Church you shall be punished; but it is quite a different thing for it to say to him—because you do not go, we will offer you additional inducements to stay away. His notion of religion seems to be somewhat peculiar. He stated that in his opinion every man should worship in the morning, and devote the afternoon to recre- 1271 ation. I object altogether to that view of the case. His notion of Sunday observance seems to he that a working man might to deal with it just as if it were his Sunday coat; to put it on when he gets up in the morning, and to wear it only until half-past twelve o'clock, and then to put it off; in short to get rid of it as soon as he can. I object to that view altogether; because if there exists any obligation to observe the Sabbath at all, that obligation exists during the whole of the day, and not merely during a portion of it. Then it is said that we desire to make Sunday a day of gloom and melancholy, and an eminent comedian—Mr. Buckstone—has kindly told us "our object is to made everybody as miserable as possible on one day in the week." I entirely deny that assertion of Mr. Buckstone's. I deny that we do make men, or wish to make them miserable, and I would ask if he gravely means to assert that the only day of the week on which a man can rest from his toil, and spend with his wife and family in the enjoyment of that home and social life, which is the glory of this country, is actually to be considered a day of gloom and misery, even though the National Gallery and British Museum are not open? I am quite aware that there are many men—thousands, nay, tens of thousands—who do not value the Sabbath, and the privilege of spending one day in seven with their families in the enjoyment of those domestic joys and comforts, which the vast majority of the working classes of this country do value and do prize; but I utterly deny that because there are men so worthless that the purest and holiest joys a merciful Providence has given to man have no charm for them, they have any right to charge us with wishing to make the Lord's Day a day of gloom and melancholy, when they have no one to blame for it but themselves. Now, one very strong argument against this proposal is that the general sense and feeling of the people of this country is against it. The hon. Member may doubt the fact—he is quite justified in doing so—but I can appeal, and I do so with confidence, to the number of Petitions which have been presented to this House against this Motion, and Petitions signed by nearly thirteen times as many as those in favour of his Motion. Now, the hon. Gentleman has said that these 1272 Petitions are not to be attended to, because they come chiefly from Dissenting congregations. Well, sir, I have yet to learn that either Dissenting ministers or their congregations are to be held up to scorn and ridicule in this House, because they have thought it right and proper to sign Petitions against a certain proposal. I should have thought that the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Charles Reed), and my hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth (Mr. M'Arthur) who are both members of distinguished Dissenting congregations, would have shielded the Dissenters of this country from the hon. Gentleman's reproaches. And I would ask from what better source could these Petitions have come? Surely Dissenting ministers who devote their time to the moral and religious instruction of the people of this country, and their congregations ought to know something about this question, and their views ought, at any rate be worth listening to. I must say it is rather a suspicious circumstance that instead of this Motion being brought forward by a metropolitan Member, or by an English borough Member, urged on to it by his constituents, it has been introduced by a Gentleman from one of the most remote constituencies in the United Kingdom—from the neighbourhood of that "melancholy ocean" to which the right hon. Gentleman from Buckinghamshire referred, and where the wants and requirements of the people of this great city seemed to be better known than they are here. I do not deny the hon. Gentleman's right to bring forward this Motion; but I do say it is a circumstance full of suspicion that the National Sunday League have had to get the hon. Member for Galway to advocate their cause in this House. If there had been any very general desire in this metropolis to have these institutions opened, there would have been plenty of metropolitan Members ready to take the matter up, but they have not done so. Another argument is—that I believe this is an attempt to get the thin end of the wedge in. Although the hon. Gentleman expressed himself as averse to a Continental Sunday, yet I believe the adoption of his proposal would be the first step towards the introduction of such a Sunday in this country. If this House concedes the principle, that it is right that museums and galleries, sup- 1273 ported by the State should be opened on Sunday afternoons, I want to know where you are to stop? If you once say that the National Gallery shall be open on Sunday, -what possible argument can you urge why the Royal Academy, and the Society of British Artists, &c, should not be open. If it is right to look at the works of ancient masters, why should it not be right to look at those of the modern masters as well? If you open your public institutions and places of amusement on the Lord's day, how can you refuse the same right to private individuals to open theirs; and if you open your museums and picture galleries, and other public and private places of amusement on Sunday afternoons why should you refuse to open your theatres and music halls at night? The hon. Gentleman says very truly that in Dublin there is no desire that the theatre and the Casino should be opened on the Sunday evening. But how do we know that there will not be such a desire in London? How do we know, if this Motion had been agreed to, that there would not have been a demand that theatres, and music halls, and the Alhambra and other like places should be opened on Sunday evening? And why should there not? If it is right to open, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy on a Sunday afternoon, why should it be wrong to go in the evening to the theatre or the Alhambra? The simple fact is, and no persons know it better than the members of the National Sunday League, if you once begin you cannot stop; if you once concede the principle that it is right to open any place of amusement—apply to it whatever name you like, museum, theatre, or gallery—you must extend it to all. Then, Sir, there is another argument which the hon. Member passed over very lightly indeed, but which to my mind, is a very important one. It is that by opening these museums and galleries you will create an absolute necessity for a certain amount of Sunday labour. You will compel the employés at these places to work seven days instead of working six as they do at present. I fully grant that at first this evil would not be very great; but if, as I believe, the inevitable consequence of this motion would be that other places of amusement would likewise be opened, you would very soon deprive hundreds of the only day of rest they now enjoy; and 1274 this would not only apply to London alone, because if it be right that museums and galleries and other places of amusement should be open in London, it cannot be wrong that they should be open also in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and other large towns; so that in a very short time, in the space of a few years at most, I believe the inevitable result of this Motion would be that in the large towns of this country you would deprive thousands of the rest they now enjoy on the Sabbath. But this would not be all. There are hundreds of unscrupulous masters in this country who would say to their workmen—"If it is right that you should go to places of amusement on the Lord's day, it is right that you should work for us;" and if some masters did this, others would do it, declaring that they were compelled to do so by the competition that was created; and the consequence would be that, in a very short time, you Mould bring upon the working classes of this country the greatest curse and the greatest calamity that could happen to them—the loss of their weekly day of rest. The hon. Member says this question ought not to be argued from a religious point of view. Perhaps he will allow me to say a few words as to the advantages of the Sabbath in a secular point of view; and I may say that although those advantages are great to all, yet they are far greater to the poor man than they are to the rich. The rich man can take a holiday whenever he likes. He can go to the sea-side for a week, or a month, or whatever period he chooses; but the poor man cannot do that, and the consequence is that the rest of the Sabbath is to him a thing of priceless value. It is also an admitted fact that continuous bodily or mental labour, uninterrupted and unbroken by the rest of the Sabbath, leads to premature decay. It is also an admitted fact that men can do more work in six days in the course of the year than they can by working seven. And with these facts meeting us on the very threshold of the question, I think we should be blind and foolish indeed if we attempted to pass a Motion like this, when the inevitable result would be to deprive the working men of this country, sooner or later of their weekly day of rest. May I allude for one moment to the religious aspect of the question. I myself see no reason why a question, which is so in- 1275 timately connected with the subject of religion should not be argued from a religions point of view. And I confess I have not much opinion of the wisdom of any man who would make light of and despise the influence of religion on the minds of men, or the importance of devoting one day in seven to the consideration of its paramount importance. And what we ask is this—We ask that a day which we believe has been set apart from the creation of the world by the Creator for His service and worship, that a day which the Redeemer recognized when He visited this world, that a day, which the common consent of Christianity at all times, has specially set apart for rest and devotion, should be preserved intact and unbroken for those great purposes for which it was instituted. It is all very well to tell us that thousands and tens of thousands will not go to church or chapel. We frankly admit it; we do not deny it: but then we say, do not offer them additional inducements to stay away—and do not insult the religious feeling of the country by placing the British Museum, and the National Gallery in open competition with the House of God. Sir, I need not appeal to the House to reject this Motion, because we cannot go to a division upon it; but of one thing I am confident, if we had been enabled to divide, this Motion would have been rejected, as I trust similar Motions always will be, by a large and decisive majority.
said, he had no hesitation in saying that the feeling of the large majority of working men in the borough of Lambeth—which he regarded as a very good test of the feeling of the humbler classes throughout London—was decidedly opposed to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Gregory). The Petitions presented to the House on the subject up to Saturday last were in the following proportions—eighty-seven Petitions with 10,436 signatures, in favour of the Motion; and 685 Petitions, with 130,976 signatures attached, against the Motion. When the hon. Gentleman stated that the working classes were unable on week-days to visit places of amusement or instruction, it was necessary to recall the fact that in 1865 upwards of 200,000 persons visited the Agricultural Hall, and that 124,000 visited the South London Industrial Exhibition upon week- 1276 days. The South Kensington Museum had been visited by upwards of 3,000,000 people upon week-days, although the position was by no means central; and at the recent exhibition in Lambeth 42,000 persons paid 2d. each to see, upon the evenings of week-days, what had been contributed. A strong proof of the importance attached by working men to the rest of the Sabbath was afforded by the fact that when, some time back, three prizes were offered for the best composition on the subject, no less than 1,045 essays were sent in by working men in the short space of three weeks. In the words of one of the working men themselves, Sunday was "Heaven's antidote to the curse of labour." If the Continental example were once adopted, were we to have races in the vicinity of the city? He contended that the question was a religious one. The Fourth Commandment still existed as a part of our moral law. The law respecting the Sabbath had not been abrogated, and he believed that the two greatest nations of the world, England and the United States, owed not a little of their unrivalled prosperity to their observance of the Sunday.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
said, he regretted than no division could be come to upon the Resolution, for had it been possible to divide, he was assured that on this, as on previous occasions, a majority of the House would have been in favour of preserving the sanctity of the Christian Sabbath. It was unreasonable of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. W. II. Gregory) to say that he would not treat that as a religious question; and he had been unable to carry out his intention, for his speech had been filled with allusions to religious arguments and attempts to meet them. The hon. Member had said that a majority of the working men in this metropolis were in favour of his proposal. He (Mr. T. Chambers) had better means of information on that point than the hon. Member, and he honestly believed that the overwhelming majority was on the other side. In the course of his canvass of the borough of Marylebone last autumn, he had attended more than 100 public meetings: and at all of them the question —whether he would vote for opening the public galleries on Sunday was asked either by friend or foe? He said, "No;" and he did 1277 not recollect any occasion on which his answer was not received with all but unanimous applause. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to the Petition with 47,000 signatures, which he proposed to present, and which, he (Mr. T. Chambers) supposed would be presented on Monday evening. If that Petition had been presented, however, that evening, he should have had to present another Petition from the Working Men's Lord's day Rest Association, praying that a scrutiny might take place, as to the genuineness of the signatures to the Petition of the Sunday League; and in support of the grounds on which that scrutiny was asked, he held in his hand a statement signed by George Henry Beck, of 13, Took's Court, Chancery Lane, and Frederick Biggs, of the same place, in which Beck declared that he had been employed for the last six weeks in obtaining signatures to the Petition brought into the House by the hon. Member for Galway, and that he had himself affixed to it upwards of 800 fictitious signatures; and Biggs declared that he had affixed 200 fictitious signatures to the same Petition, and that for the last twelve days, from twelve to twenty persons had been engaged at 13, Took's Court, in filling in fictitious signatures to the sheets. That would show that, as the hon. Member for Galway had himself said, Petitions were not always of much importance. So much for the feeling of the working men of the metropolis on this question. It had been represented to the First Lord of the Treasury, at a deputation, that he (Mr. T. Chambers) had modified his opinion on the matter in the course of his canvass. This was untrue. He had invariably answered, "No," when asked whether he would support the proposition for opening the public galleries on Sunday? The hon. Member for Galway contended that the museums and galleries should be open as places of education; that they would counteract the influence of public-houses, and raise the people from their brutalized and degraded state. Now, he had lately met with an answer to that argument, in a place where he little expected to find it. In a late number of the Westminster Review, in an article on the connection between the study and practice and enjoyment of art with morality in a community, the writer contended that the ar- 1278 tistic emotions were quite distinct from the moral emotions, and that between art and morality there was no coherence. He pointed out that great artistic epochs had been immoral epochs; and he contended that while a community might and ought to be preached at and lectured by the philosopher and the minister of religion, it was not for the artist to take upon him that duty—his object was to gratify and gladden, without any afterthought. This was written by a great authority on the subject—
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present: House counted: and 40 Members being found present—
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
resumed. He would not detain the House long; but he wished to state that within the last few years there had been a great effort made, and not without success, to introduce the English Sabbath upon the Continent. In Germany, out of fifty-eight newspapers that used to be published every day in the week, forty-three had ceased to publish on Sunday since last autumn. In Paris, the public journals were advocating a cessation of the Sunday issue, and the vast, majority of retail shops were now closed on Sunday; so that, by adopting the Resolution of the hon. Member they would be going in the teeth of the movement that was going on on the Continent. He was satisfied that if a Bill were ordered to be brought in, the Government draftsman would never be able to define what was a place of amusement and what was not. He was glad, therefore, that Government had made up their mind to resist such a measure, and he wished they were equally firm on the temperance question. On both subjects, he believed, the Government was behind the working men of the country.
§ MR. BAINES
said, his hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. W. H. Gregory) had, no doubt, unintentionally, represented the Rev. Newman Hall as having expressed an opinion favourable to the opening of museums and galleries on Sundays; which was quite a mistake.
§ MR. W. H. GREGORY
said, that his statement was, that the Rev. Newman Hall had said that he would prefer museums and galleries to be open and public-houses closed on Sundays, to seeing public-houses open and museums and galleries closed.
§ MR. BAINES
said, he would read a couple of answers given by the Rev. Newman Hall before the Committee which sat upon this question, and of which he (Mr. Baines) was a Member. In the first, Mr. Hall said that he did not think the opening of these places on Sunday would be advantageous to the public. He thought the Saturday half-holiday was a great boon, but the more the Sunday was kept as a day of rest and worship, the better it would be for the people, in a political, social, and religious point of view, though he would not have legislative action to compel persons to keep it religiously, or prevent them fro8m enjoying it as they pleased. Mr. Hall was asked by another hon. Member of the Committee a question somewhat similar to that which he had been asked by a former hon. Member. His reply was, that the opening of the Crystal Palate, and other such places on the Sunday would be in itself an evil, and would only create additional evil —certainly not so great an evil as the first —that from the opening of the public-houses: and, though it might, in some degree, diminish the first, yet it would not remove it.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Eight o'clock till Monday next.