HC Deb 08 August 1881 vol 264 cc1236-65

, in moving the following Resolution:— That, in the opinion of this House, grants in aid [of Art and Industrial Museums should not be confined to London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, said, he congratulated his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council on the real and substantial progress in education he had shown in the able Statement which he had just made. They must, however, moderate their satisfaction by the fact that, after all, with all their machinery, only 24 per cent of the children examined had passed in the Fourth Standard and upwards. He wished to urge on the House the necessity of declaring that grants in aid of Art and Industrial Museums should not be confined to London, Edinburgh, and Dublin. The subject involved in this Resolution was one of great and increasing importance. It was one which concerned every constituency in the Kingdom. It was occupying in a larger and larger degree the minds of those in the Provinces who were interested in the question of industrial and other art, and of their bearing on the prosperity of their great national industries, and, therefore, on the prosperity of the country generally. A Conference of representatives of Municipal Corporations was held in Birmingham in 1877, to consider the claims of the Provinces. This Conference met again in London later in the same year. About 60 Municipal Bodies were represented, and deputations were appointed to wait on the Commissioners of the 1851 Exhibition, the Trustees of the National Gallery and of the British Museum. It was understood that the Commissioners of the 1851 Exhibition had nearly £1,000,000 of surplus at their disposal; but the result of the interview was an impression on the deputation that nearly the whole amount would go to the benefit of Lon- don, and very little to the Provinces. From the Trustees of the British Museum and of the National Gallery unsatisfactory official replies were received. The matter contained in the Resolution was now ripe for discussion, and would come up again and again with renewed force till it was settled. A similar Resolution was moved in the House in 1878. On that occasion the noble Lord (Viscount Sandon), who then occupied the position of Vice President of the Council, made a speech in which he fully recognized the importance of the question, spoke of the advantages that would come from Museums of Science and Art in the Provinces, and said that he hoped during the following Session to make some statement on the subject. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the present Vice President of the Council would give some equally satisfactory assurance that the matter would receive the attention of the present Government, and that some steps would be taken next Session in the direction indicated by the Resolution. He did not wish to complain of the aid given to the Provinces as far as art and science teaching was concerned. He wished that the grant for that purpose was much larger than it was; but of the amount granted the Provinces received a considerable share. He did not, however, regard this as any concession to the Provinces, but simply as receiving that to which they were fairly entitled. The question involved in his Resolution was one referring to Art and Industrial Museums. The Motion was not made in antagonism to the grants made for these purposes to London, Dublin, and Edinburgh. Those who were acquainted with the unrivalled collection to be found at South Kensington would not begrudge the money spent there. They would rather regret that the funds placed at the disposal of the managers of South Kensington had been of late years decreased rather than increased. In making such collections it was now or never. The field for the purchase of original specimens was getting narrower and narrower, while the collectors from all countries were more and more alert. What might be bought to-day for £1 would, in a year or two, cost £20, or, what was more likely, be absolutely unattainable. What they wanted was to establish in their prominent centres those appliances which were admitted to be absolutely necessary if they were to maintain their manufacturing supremacy. To illustrate the position, let him refer to the town of Birmingham, which was the centre of the great manufacturing district in the Midlands. He referred to that town simply because, being for many years Chairman of the Free Library and Art Gallery Committee, and also intimately connected with the manufactures of the district, he was, in a measure, familiar with its position and needs. But that which applied to Birmingham applied in the same degree to other towns, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Bradford, Leicester, and others. There were writers and lecturers on art, rectors of Colleges, and superior persons who, while disagreeing among themselves in many things, seemed to unite in lecturing, and sometimes in libelling, the English workman. They were evidently unacquainted with the workshop, or with the difficulties and disadvantages under which the workman and manufacturer lay. Some time ago an important branch of industry in the Midlands, giving employment to many thousands of workmen, was threatened with serious injury by competition on the part of the Americans. An American manufacturer called on him, and he was enabled to place before him samples of the English and American work side by side, and on examination the American gentleman frankly admitted that he could not compete. The English work was produced by men, some of them scarcely able to read and write, with no aid except from their natural skill, industry, and perseverance. The conclusion of the American manufacturer was, that if they—the Americans—had workmen with equal natural powers and perseverance they could, with the addition of the teaching and help they could give them, beat the world in these manufactures. The fact was, that the English workman, for natural capacity and perseverance, was the best in the world. But they did little for him. The Midlands was the seat of the iron and metal industries, giving occupation to thousands. Yet Birmingham had no collection of iron and metal work, no illustrations of what was done in olden times, or what was now being done in other countries competing with us. Birmingham was the seat of the jewellery trade. Most of what was called, and sold as London jewellery, was made in that much-abused town. Yet there were no illustrations to speak of, no examples of the manufacture for educational purposes. It was true that in a quiet room, in a secluded part of the British Museum, there existed some splendid specimens of the goldsmith's art in the shape of the Cartellani jewels. The last time he visited them there were six persons present, two ladies, two gentlemen, a child, and the policeman or keeper. He was glad that the nation possessed them under any circumstances; but were these specimens subject to the view and to the study of the jewellers in Birmingham, it was probable that improved taste in manufacture would be the result. He might go on and speak of the position of the glass, japan, ornamental, and other manufactures; but the illustrations he had given were sufficient. Now, they were familiar with the argument which the upholders of centralization were fond of using—namely, that railway communication was now so complete that anyone could run up to London and see splendid examples of ironwork at South Kensington, jewellery at the British Museum, and so forth. But the utmost working men could expect was to go by a day trip to London once or twice a-year. The great majority did not do that. Besides, it was an argument which cut both ways. Suppose, for example, that the finest collection of cutlery existed at Sheffield, and the finest collection of lace at Nottingham. The railway arrangements were the same and the distance the same in going from London to Nottingham as from Nottingham to London. With regard to loans, the authorities at South Kensington were showing a wisdom and liberality in that direction which could not be too much commended. They were, by this means, showing their willingness to extend the advantages of these collections to the nation at large, to whom these collections belonged. But loans, while of great use, were not sufficient. There must be permanent collections. There were fresh workmen coming of age and coming forward every day. It was necessary that a workman should examine again and again a piece of work of high excellence in order to catch the spirit of it, and the trick of the hand by which it was produced. They were not asked for large sums of money to be sent down to the industrial centres to be spent in making a formless collection of articles and curiosities. Nor were they asked that localities should receive assistance which had shown no disposition to help themselves. But they asked for grants to assist local efforts in the formation of Art and Industrial Museums; in the formation of special collections, illustrating certain branches of industry, and meeting the special requirements of the locality. For instance, pottery from Staffordshire, lace from Nottingham, iron, metal, glass, jewellery from Birmingham, textile fabrics from Manchester, Leeds, &c. This could be best done with the cooperation or through the agency of the authorities of South Kensington, whose means of collecting and general experience gave them far greater facilities than local bodies could possess. He would like to quote a few words of a gentleman of the highest authority on this question, Mr. J. C. Robinson, formerly Art Superintendent of South Kensington Museum. He wrote last year as follows:— The pecuniary resources of the State must, then, in some shape or other, be brought in aid of local resources; in other words, it is for the State to concern itself with the nature and constitution of the typical Provincial Museum, and to assist in shaping such collections as already exist in forms of practical, yet, at the same time, elevating influence. Mr. Robinson further remarked— They (Provincial Museums) have a great and special work to do, very complex and difficult in itself, and which nothing but liberal and far-reaching assistance on the part of the State will enable them sufficiently to carry out. He was glad to find in the Estimates for the year a small sum of £2,000 for casts, electrotypes, and reproductions of treasures existing in foreign countries, the originals of which could never be seen by the mass of the people. He congratulated his right hon. Friend on this movement in the right direction. The sum was very small; but he hoped another year that it would be largely increased, and that these reproductions of works of art might form part of the grant demanded for the Provinces. He contended that it was a mistake to suppose that it was only necessary for workmen to study industrial art. The men who had opportunities of seeing and studying paintings, drawings, and other examples of what was called "high art" would be likely to have their tastes so cultivated and their ideas of beauty so developed as to be the better able to produce shapely and beautiful things in the branch of industry in which they happened to be engaged. The right hon. Gentleman would, perhaps, say that the towns should do all that was necessary by themselves out of the rates. But he must remember that these localities were, and had been, rating themselves to the utmost of their powers. Further, that they were supplementing their rates by individual efforts and sacrifices of the most liberal character. It was not sufficiently known to what a large extent the various towns were taxing themselves and what efforts they were making for the purpose in question. Only a week or two ago, in the borough he had the honour to represent, he assisted at the opening of a museum which had cost about £10,000, and this in addition to the maintenance of free libraries and other work in the same direction. They would take Birmingham simply as an example of what Provincial towns were doing. In that borough they were raising above £6,000 per annum from the rates; but this was barely sufficient for the free libraries and left nothing for art purposes. On the security of this rate they had spent since 1868 above £80,000 in building, furnishing, and maintaining their libraries. They had provided a small art gallery at a cost of £15,000 by private subscription. In 1878 they raised nearly £16,000 by subscriptions. They had just laid the foundation stone of a new art gallery, at an estimated cost of £50,000. Towards furnishing this gallery they had raised subscriptions to above £17,000. The Midland Institute stood on land now worth £30,000, given by the town. The Council of the Institute had purchased additional land, and were enlarging their buildings at a cost of £45,000, for which they had to rely on private subscriptions. While the people of Birmingham were making these earnest but insufficient efforts to supply their own needs, they were actually taxed to the extent of above £4,000 per annum for the support of parks, museums, and other institutions in London, towards which the people of London were paying nothing whatever from their rates. As an example of how these art galleries and museums were prized and used in the Provincial towns, he would state that in the year 1877, the year before the fire which destroyed the building, there were 394,645 visitors to the Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum. The number of visitors to the general departments—excluding reading-room—of the British Museum in the same year was but 539,281. Adding the libraries and reading-rooms in both cases the number of visitors to the Birmingham Institution was 538,135. To the British Museum 699,511. The right hon. Gentleman might ask them to go for powers to increase the rates for these purposes. But it was useless in the present depression to attempt this, nor was it fair to do so. It was overriding the willing horse. So long as the present method of rating and taxation existed he thought it would be impossible to get all they needed without liberal grants from the Imperial taxes. The rates bore heavily on shopkeepers and others, who at these times found it often difficult to make ends meet, while many who were far more wealthy got off comparatively easy. Besides, in the great centres of industry there were often more people outside in the districts around than inside the boroughs. These all used the institutions of the borough, and it was well that they should do so; but they paid nothing to the rates, and could not, therefore, contribute to the support of the institutions which they enjoyed except through the general taxation. He found from the Estimates of 1880–1 that the total amount given from the taxes to support institutions in Dublin was £34,174, in Edinburgh £22,648. For London the total amount was £369,329. Of this sum above £100,000 was for the support of London parks, £254,757 for the museums. Not a farthing from the London rates went in support of these institutions. If the right hon. Gentleman disputed the claims of the Provinces, how would he defend this expenditure in London? What defence could he make, for example, of the £7,000 per annum granted for the Bethnal Green Museum, a purely local institution? The growth of population in and around such towns as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Glasgow was so enormous that it seemed to him absurd to apply the term national exclusively to institutions maintained in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin. This question was not a local one, but one involving a principle of great public policy, one affecting the trade of the country generally, a matter in which the whole nation benefited, and towards which the whole nation should pay. Hon. Gentlemen opposite and on this side who represented counties and country interests were as much interested in it as were the Representatives of towns. If the trade of the towns was lost or diminished then the country must suffer in consequence. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not be satisfied by saying that they could get examples, casts, &c, from South Kensington at a great reduction on the cost price. He did not deny those advantages, and was grateful for small mercies. But they were considering a far larger question than that, and they could not remain contented with the crumbs which fell from the rich tables of London. He thought that when millions could be found for other purposes—often for very doubtful purposes—there should be no difficulty in granting, say, £200,000 or £300,000, for a work on which the happiness and prosperity of the country so largely depended. He would not detain the House by referring to the social advantages of these institutions, and to the extent to which they added to the happiness of the people. He believed that it was to institutions like these that they must rely in a large degree for the solution of many of these serious problems which affected and injured the social life of the people. He had only one thing more to allude to before sitting down, and it was this. This subject had occupied his mind very closely; but he had been always met with a great difficulty in the fact that the management of their National Institutions was in such a confused and unsatisfactory. state. The British Museum was under one management, the National Gallery under another, the South Kensington Museum under a third. In the first two Institutions were many treasures stowed away which would give great pleasure and be of much educational value in the Provincial towns. This confusion of management was such a difficulty that early in the Session he drew up a Resolution affirming the necessity of placing these and similar National Institutions under one responsible Parliamentary management. But this would not be sufficient. All their educational institutions were, or ought to be, connected and co-operating, and he believed that nothing would meet the case but the placing of all educational work under one management. The Vice President of the Council had under his care elementary education, the importation of cattle, endowed schools, South Kensington Museum, the foot-and-mouth disease, and 50 other matters. In next Session, if the House would permit, he would venture to propose that in this country, where the subject of education in all its branches was taking a position of more and more importance, there should be a "Department of Public Instruction" receiving the whole attention of a "Minister of Education." The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


, in seconding the Resolution, said, the present was a very opportune moment for discussing the important question which had been brought forward by the hon. Member for Ipswich. When foreign countries were running us so closely in the industrial race; at a time when such nostrums as Reciprocity and Protection were dragged from their graves and presented in their ghastly cerements to the living generation as cures for the evils under which the country was now suffering, the time of the House might be very well occupied in considering how best to provide a remedy to meet the competition which British industries had now to face. There was no doubt that foreign nations were paying a great deal of attention to the promotion of those arts and sciences which related to industry, while we in this country were doing very little that was practical in the same direction. He did not for a moment wish to minimize the efforts that wore being made in education, art, and science; but the question which had been so very ably spoken to that night by his hon. Friend. (Mr. Jesse Collings) was one which he thought had not hitherto received the due consideration of the Government. He would not underrate the efforts made by the South Kensington Museum, and would, with the permission of the House, confine himself to a section of the subject which, he thought, might have the practical attention of the Education Department. He referred principally to the reproduction and distribution of articles in our large museums. Those who visited South Kensington would, he was sure, be immensely gratified with the collection of reproductions not only of English, but also of Continental objects of art workmanship from the studios of Elkington and Franchi of Paris. These objects had been reproduced by the electrotype process in a manner so authentic and artistic as to be for all purposes, except those of connoisseurs, quite as good as the originals. At any rate, for art purposes they were so. He wished that the idea he threw out last Session that it was possible to reproduce these and distribute them among the museums of the country without cost, or, at all events, at the smallest possible cost, should now be carried out. He was aware that at present the art schools obtained reproductions at a reduction on cost price of 50 per cent; but that was not enough. The art schools which were teaching drawing were doing comparatively little towards teaching industrial art. He believed it was within the scheme of the Vice President of the Council to put the art museums of the Provinces on the same footing as the art schools; and he observed in the Estimates a sum of £1,500 which appeared to be intended towards this purpose. He believed the Education Department had done a great deal during the Recess in reproducing several important works of art, a large amount of the best college plate and the plate of foreign countries, especially of Russia, having been copied and added to our National Collection. But he must say that, although these articles were very beautiful and rare, they were more interesting as curiosities than as objects which could be usefully copied or advantageously applied to industrial art. All artists and authorities on this subject would agree that nothing was so useful for training the eye in the most perfect manner and for the guidance of taste as the antique model, and no country possessed such a splendid and abundant collection of antique models as existed in the British Museum. Not only did artists consider these objects to be the very best for training the eye and judgment in design, but on the Continent, and especially in France, it had long since been discovered in their industrial schools that when copied by casts they were the best and surest means of teaching the students in matters of design and form. There were also in the British Museum unique and magnificent collections of drawings and engravings of the old masters, of coins, and also of medals. Many of these coins and medals had been already copied in an admirable manner by the electrotype process. He had no hesitation in saying that for all practical and educational purposes these copies were quite equal to the originals. The copies of the antique models were even better than the originals for the practical purposes of the art student. The two museums of London were, he agreed, the fittest home for all the original works; but, at the same time, he was firmly convinced that it would be an inestimable benefit to the country if a systematic process of reproduction were entered upon, so that every institution and school and even every individual in the Kingdom should know where to apply successfully for a copy of each object of interest in our National Collection. He would not attempt to underrate what had already been done at the British Museum; but many articles were, as yet, not reproduced. The magnificent old engravings had not been copied as far as he knew. As to having a Minister of Education, he was not in favour of multiplying the appointments of Ministers. He would rather define their existing appointments a little more and develop their functions. He did consider, however, that it would be a very great advantage to have a responsible and independent head of all Art Collections, who would be enabled to command, in an intelligible manner, objects which were now scattered in a most puzzling way. Such a gentleman should be responsible for the reproduction scheme, and. in his functions he should be assisted by the best artistic power of the British Museum and the National Gallery, in order to guide his operations. This was not a dilettante scheme, or one that emanated from painters and sculptors, because he had no intention of facilitating the increase of indifferent sculptors and painters, of whom there were too many already. His idea was purely an industrial one, as he wished to give every possible assistance to the development of industrial arts and sciences. He would briefly allude, in conclusion, to another aspect of the case. In the large over-populated towns there were many quarters where men and women lived unlovely and squalid lives, apart altogether from all influences of beauty and refinement. While they complained that their lives were to some extent degraded, their tastes debased, and that they had little aptitude for the enjoyment of refined occupations, he thought they were apt to forget how few opportunities these people had of being brought into association with that which was elevating and refining. He spoke for those who lived in those slums, to whom such associations would be of inestimable value. They would appreciate them, and that they did appreciate them was shown by abundant evidence, for when these collections were sent down from the South Kensington Museum to the large towns people went in crowds to see them. His hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) had pointed out what had been done in Birmingham to provide habitations for such collections. In his (Mr. Slagg's) own constituency a very handsome and commodious art museum had lately been acquired by the Municipality. It was impossible that they could fill it themselves. Original objects were daily becoming more difficult to acquire; and those not purchased already would, it seemed likely, very soon be bought up by the South Kensington Museum. They must, therefore, look to the reproductions of which he had spoken. They wanted systematic collections, and complete series of these objects issued in such a manner as to suit the especial trade or industry of the district. The House was aware that a Royal Commission had been appointed to investigate the art schools on the Continent. He had the honour to be placed on that Commission, and he looked forward with extreme interest to its proceedings. He believed it would put the House in possession of facts which they were not aware of in regard to the efforts of foreign nations. The subject before the House would grow in importance, and he hoped the Department of his right hon. Friend would take time by the forelock and bring forward some scheme for filling the museums in the Provinces, as the time was very near at hand when the Provincial people would demand such aids to their industry and manufactures.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, grants in aid of Art and Industrial Museums should not be confined to London, Edinburgh, and Dublin."—(Mr. Jesse Collings,) —instead thereof.

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


said, he had great pleasure in supporting the proposition of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings). He was strongly in favour of giving such instruction to our artizans, who were, at the present moment, unable to compete with their more highly educated competitors abroad. Very strict limits, however, must be placed upon the aid so given, as it was not possible to extend it beyond the great cities and the large towns, which were the real centres of our important industries. Such an education would have, he was convinced, a most important social and political bearing on the minds of the people. Whatever was done to encourage a knowledge of art in great cities and towns must be done at once, and would be perfectly justified; and he had no doubt that the results would more than repay the cost of the aid given. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Ipswich as to the admirable intelligence and industry which the English workman threw into his work with such success, uneducated though he might be, in the technical sense of the word, as compared with those who had enjoyed greater advantages. He was glad that the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Slagg) had supported the Resolution, although he thought it was quite unnecessary that he should have dragged into the discussion this matter of Reciprocity. He must confess himself that he did not know what Reciprocity meant; but those who were high authorities upon great commercial questions and the conditions of manufacturing industry attached the greatest importance to Reciprocity, and Mr. Cobden himself held it out as an inducement to the country to adopt a Free Trade policy. The hon. Member for Manchester, however, appeared to have seen a great deal further than his master, Mr. Cobden, ever saw; but he did not think he would ever succeed in convincing the country that Reciprocity would be affected by the proposal before the House. In so far as such technical education could help them in their home trade, it would, he readily conceded, be productive of the greatest good. At the same time, it would never enable the hon. Member for Manchester to send calicoes to India in competition with Germany in face of duties of 50 per cent. He felt great interest in the statement the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had made, and he hoped that these alterations in the Code would be productive of very great advantage to the country. As far as he could understand them, they seemed to be made in a right and reasonable spirit, and he had no doubt they would be carefully examined by all those interested in regard to education. He hoped that nothing would be done to injure voluntary schools. He had no doubt that the subscriptions in aid of the work of voluntary schools represented on the part of the givers a personal interest in education which could never be replaced by grants made by the State. He might allude very shortly to the question of compulsion.


I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that the Question before the House is "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," and that the more convenient course would be for the House to dispose of the Amendment before the general subject of Education is discussed.


said, he recognized the right hon. Gentleman's ruling, and would only add, in conclusion, that he felt great interest in the Motion brought forward by the hon. Member for Ipswich, and he sincerely hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to meet the desires of the great constituencies referred to.


said, he hoped the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich would understand that in going counter to his proposition to expend public money to help Birmingham he was not without sympathy with the hon. Gentleman's objects. He did not in the smallest degree underrate the advantages of the institutions of which the hon. Member had spoken, whether from the point of view of technical education or from a higher aspect as civilizing agencies promoting the culture of the people. At the same time, he should like to know how the proposition he made was to be limited. How were they to select the towns to which it was to apply or to keep the expense within due bounds? Was the hon. Gentleman going to give to the House a schedule of those towns to which his benevolence would be applied? What would he do with regard to the question of free libraries? If it was right to spend the national funds on Provincial museums, simply because they were beneficial institutions, it would be equally right to assist in providing every small town in England with a free library out of the public funds for the same reason. His constituents lived round the head waters of the Thames. They had to contribute to the restraining and civilizing that river in places some way from their abodes; and because the dredging of the Thames helped to drain some of their lands they had to bear the cost. They did not ask the people of Birmingham to do this for them. Why were they then to pay for the civilization and higher education of Birmingham and its neighbourhood? Should not the same principle apply at Birmingham as in the Thames Valley? Why should not Birmingham provide a Museum for itself? Was Birmingham too poor to do what Manchester had done? A half-penny rate levied on the Black Country would yield all that Birmingham desired, and why did not the hon. Gentleman ask for powers to levy such a rate? On all the rest of the points he was at one with the hon. Gentleman. Indeed, he did not rise merely to oppose the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, but to show how, in his opinion, the great National Museums could aid those in the Provinces. They could aid them with very uncostly but very valuable reproductions, and they could aid them by training good men to look after their museums. Nearly every work of art in metal in the British Museum and South Kensington could be so reproduced that, for all educational purposes, the copy would be as good as the original; and those which could not be copied might, from time to time, be sent down to Provincial towns for exhibition. His own experience justified him in saying that a really good curator of a museum could not be made in a day; and in setting about establishing museums, they must remember that it was the man who made the collection, and not the collection which made the man. A collection was of no use whatever without a man who understood and arranged and catalogued it. When he was an officer of the British Museum he often wished there had existed some solidarity between the department of which he was keeper, and similar departments in local Museums. He could have kept them informed of opportunities as they arose for purchasing mineral specimens, and all the more economically because on a more considerable scale, when the purchases might be made for several institutions simultaneously. While the National Museums could thus put the authorities at Birmingham or elsewhere in the way of buying things for their museum economically and well, he thought that such great towns ought to spend their own money for purposes of that kind; and, therefore, if the hon. Member went to a division he should vote against him on that point.


said, he had felt very strongly on this subject for many years, and he should have very great pleasure in supporting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich; and if anything were needed to prove that some intimate connection existed between the great National Museum in London and those minor galleries and kindred institutions in the Provinces, it had been supplied by the hon. Member for Crick-lade. He had spoken of the difficulty in limiting these centres of population, and as to whether the grants should be given in money or in kind. For his own part, he thought more valuable articles could be given in kind. There seemed to him little difficulty about the limitation. The Government might support by such grants any town whose Town Council had already erected or acquired premises in which such collections could be suitably stored and exhibited, provided those authorities, whether Town Councils or otherwise, undertook the entire responsibility of their care and safe return, insuring them while there. He ventured to say a word in support of using the present collections for the purposes of the Provinces. He appealed to the Government for some assistance in the shape of loan exhibitions for the valuable institutions which the Earl of Derby, Mr. Mayer, and others had so munificently given to Liverpool. He had taken a close interest in everything connected with science and art education in Liverpool for many years, and he had noticed how all students in science and art, especially in art, were handicapped by the want of works of art by great masters which they could study. Duplicate etchings and engravings could be taken out of the collections in the British Museum without interfering with the efficiency of National Collections, and these might go on loan to the various art galleries throughout the country, to encourage and foster one of the most growing arts in the country. The hon. Member for Preston had drawn attention to the great amount of foreign competition interfering with their trade and commerce. He did not intend to enter upon the question; but there was one branch of reproductive art—that of etching—in which competition from France completely extinguished all native talent. He attributed this to the difficulty that art students had in getting full opportunities, even in the British Museum, of studying it. He had always held that it was the first duty of the British Museum to take suitable premises to display a series of educational engravings and etchings, showing the art from the very earliest date down to the present day. That could be easily done, he believed, and many artists in Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool, who were giving great attention to this reproductive art, found it impossible to study as they would wish to in consequence of the difficulty of getting access to subjects. Liverpool had made rapid strides within the last 10 years in this respect, and the Art Galleries there had been of very great service to young artists, entirely owing to the great energies of the members of the Corporation. In establishing a permanent Art Gallery in Liverpool, there had sprung up a School of Art that was known as the Liverpool School of Painting, especially of water-colours. He thought a selection might be made from the collection of etchings and engravings in the British Museum that might be framed in strong frames, and sent on circuit throughout the country. He did not say the British Museum should part with its treasurers; they should always keep a hold of and constant watch over them. But they might spare them on loan, and do a great service to art and every artistic manufacture throughout the country. It was impossible for young Provin- cial artists to come up to London to go through their art education in the Metropolis on account of the expense it entailed. Throughout France there were local collections of art, which were of the greatest value technically; and if they were to maintain their supremacy in art manufacture, the Government must take the matter up and attempt to settle it on the lines of the Motion of the hon. Member for Ipswich. It was most important that the curators of all the departments of these great museums should have distinct instructions given them that when collections came into their hands at fixed prices, as they generally did, and for a given time, those offers should not be parted with until those in charge of Provincial museums and Art Galleries had been communicated with. Liverpool devoted £3,000 or £4,000 a-year to the purchase of works of art, and those in charge would be only too glad if the authorities in the British or South Kensington Museums would communicate with them when anything came into their hands. There was a general impression in artistic circles that in the National Gallery—in the cellars and garrets—there were hundreds, if not thousands, of etchings and water-colours by Turner, rolled up and never seen, simply because there was no room to exhibit them. He trusted if that were so, the authorities of the National Gallery would unearth these invaluable works of art and have them properly mounted, and lend, if not give them, to some of those great institutions spoken of in that discussion. The committee of the Liverpool Corporation would only be too thankful to have a loan of a number of Turner's works, and he was quite sure that artists would take large advantage of them.


said, he was sorry the hon. Member for Cricklade (Mr. Story-Maskelyne) found it necessary to oppose the Motion. He (Mr. G. Howard), however, rose to correct the erroneous statement made by the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine), that there were great stores of Turner's drawings hidden in the cellars of the National Gallery. There was a large collection of such drawings, which had been mounted, and were exhibited in a room on the ground floor, the only place available for the purpose, but which was fairly lighted. The drawings were kept on shelves, from which they could be conveniently taken when anyone wanted to examine them. It was considered better to keep them in this way on shelves, as they would be liable to fade if exposed to the light; but a certain number of them were always open to public view. Three loan collections of Turner's drawings had been formed, and they were from time to time sent on loan to Provincial museums. The Trustees of the National Gallery were anxious to do all in their power to make their art treasures generally available for the public benefit. At the same time, he would recommend that the South Kensington Museum, which possessed a valuable collection of moulds made for the casts exhibited there, should distribute, as they might do, at a comparatively slight cost, a number of the best casts throughout the country.


said, he should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich. It was impossible for persons in the country to come up constantly to London to visit the Metropolitan museums, or attend the professorial art and scientific lectures. On this ground the Central Art Department ought not only to supply the Provinces with proper examples of art manufacture, but, further, ought to constitute the Professors at South Kensington peripatetic, in order that they might visit the large centres of industry in the country. The Government ought not to hesitate for a moment, considering the importance of the matter, to vote a large sum of money to the Education Department that these objects might be carried out.


said, that although a strong opinion had been expressed by his hon. Friend in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings), he trusted that it would not be adopted, because he feared it would interfere with the question being dealt with in its entirety. The fact was that they had not got a really National Museum. They had instead a congeries of museums, each being more heterogeneous in its collections than the other. Their Governing Bodies were selected on the most extraordinary principles. The British Museum had 15 Trustees, nine of whom were elected on the ridiculous principle that they were the descendants of particular families, while the balance were selected because it was supposed they possessed a quasi- dilettante knowledge of art. Owing, however, to the system they had to administer, the institution was in a state of stagnation. It was not doing the work which it was intended to do, and, from its constitution, it could not do so. It was managed under an old Act of Parliament, which the Trustees had never sought to have altered. Only last week he asked one of the Trustees whether it was contrary to law that they should lend for exhibition some of the works of art which the museum contained? In reply to that question he was told that it would require an Act of Parliament to enable them to do so. But that was a matter which ought to have been remedied long ago. It was, he believed, the absolute duty of the Trustees to have had a Bill brought in to put an end to that state of things, and he could not doubt that the House would pass such a measure. Then they had the National Gallery, which he believed was even more conservative than the British Museum. What he meant was that there was even a greater absence of power to act in the Governing Body of the National Gallery than there was in that of the British Museum. The institution had six Trustees, one or two having been Trustees for many years. One was a Colonial Governor; and if he could manage the affairs of the National Gallery while in a distant Colony, it was evident that there could not be much to do, or else that everything was managed on the drifting principle. Another held an office in the Foreign Service, and he had been absent for a long time from England. The Curator, by some strange and anomalous arrangement, was almost invariably a past Royal Academician. Then they had the South Kensington Museum, where his hon. Friend could find an exemplification of the principle which he desired to have extended. But though the Governing Body were able, active, and zealous, they could not do all the good they might do, and which the country not unreasonably looked for from them. He was not able to give the figures for the last year, as the Report of the Museum for 1880 had not yet been presented; but he saw by the Report of 1879 that through the agency of the circulating department of the South Kensington Museum no fewer than 1,670,000 persons had been enabled to visit exhibitions of art objects sent from South Kensington to the large Provin- cial towns. That which was the case with South Kensington ought to be the case with the British Museum and the National Gallery. His hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich proposed by his Amendment to give grants of sums of money to Provincial museums to purchase works of art for themselves. But he should remember that every acquirer looked upon every other acquirer with feelings of hate and mistrust; and he feared that those feelings would not be absent from the minds of the conductors of the Provincial museums, who would thus be enabled to go into the market and bid against each other.


said, his suggestion was that the South Kensington authorities should make or sanction the purchases.


said, there was one real remedy which ought to be adopted—namely, the establishing of a central department to govern all those bodies. This was certain, that it was impossible things could be left much longer in their present state—some suffering from stagnation, some from incapacity, and others from uselessness. The first thing the Central Body should do would be to classify all the existing collections. At the British Museum, for example, there was a magnificent collection of etchings, engravings, and drawings by the great masters; while many of the originals were in the National Gallery. They ought to be together, for the object of all collectors was completeness; and the same observation applied to South Kensington, which had recently entered on the domain, one not its own, of classical antiquities. That very day he had seen in the National Gallery three of the most deplorable specimens of pictures that had ever been placed there. Probably they never would have been placed there at all if we had had a governing authority which was competent to put its foot down on purchases of this kind. The appointment of such an authority would also be a remedy for the state of chaos in which some of our museums were placed by bequests and gifts of objects of classical and mediæval antiquity, and objects of art and of natural science, which were left or presented on the condition that they should all be kept in one place. Probably the objection of testators to the unnecessary dispersal of their collections would be removed if they knew that the objects they bequeathed would be distributed in suitable quarters by a responsible central authority. In conclusion, he would express a hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would find time to deal with this question. No method of making grants in aid, however well meant, could effectually grapple with the subject, which ought to be dealt with in the manner he had indicated.


said, he was very sorry to interpose in the discussion, which, he admitted, had been productive of great advantage; but he would ask his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) to withdraw his Motion. He (Mr. Mundella) fully recognized the importance of the question, and entirely sympathized with the desire of his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich that Municipal Museums should be established in the principal towns in England and should receive some assistance from the central authority. But assistance in the shape of lending valuable works of art could not be given by the Government to all the museums in England. To the existence of the South Kensington Museum was due the fact that every considerable Provincial town was desirous of having a similar institution of its own. Increase of appetite grew from what it fed upon. The question was, how the desired object was to be attained? Was it to be attained by means of grants from the Imperial Exchequer? He asserted that that would be impossible. Even if the thing were possible, it would be wrong to come to the Exchequer and say—"You must set up a museum in every great town in England." The thing was impossible owing to the rarity of the objects—even the duplicates—to be exhibited, and they were becoming more scarce and costly every day. It would be utterly impossible, for example, to collect another South Kensington Museum. His hon. Friend asked that grants for these works of art should not be confined to London, Dublin, and Edinburgh; and another hon. Member (Mr. Wiggin) said your Science Professors and your mining engineers should not be confined to London, but should be peripatetic. "They ought to go into the mining districts, and teach those engaged in mining and other industries their business." Now, what did the Mining School in London exist for? There was no mining business in London; but the school was there because it was a great centre, and it existed solely for the Provinces and other districts in England. His hon. Friend seemed to think the South Kensington Museum existed exclusively for the benefit of London. He (Mr. Mundella) was only responsible for one portion of that Museum—the Science and Art Department. That Department existed infinitely more for the Provinces than for London. His hon. Friend (Mr. Jesse Collings) expressed surprise. Let him point out to him that, although he put a Notice on the Paper, asking the House to declare that these grants should not be confined to London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, but should be more equally distributed to the Provinces, that was exactly what was done in the case of those grants. Of the Science School and Science grant, £33,842, or 84 per cent, went to the schools in the Provinces, while £6,386, or 16 per cent only, went to the schools in London, Dublin, or Edinburgh. Again, of the aid grant to art schools, £22,510, or 78 per cent, went to the Provinces, and only £6,461, or 22 per cent, to London, Dublin, or Edinburgh. The sum of £8,594 was given to the School of Mines, practically for instruction entirely for the Provincial industries. He would now take the art training schools in London, Dublin and Edinburgh, which trained nearly all the teachers in the United Kingdom. Of 150 and odd art schools in the country, the teachers in about 130 schools had been trained at South Kensington Local Schools, also, had the privilege of purchasing works of art and necessaries at prime cost. Surely that was encouraging art in the Provinces. A special Report had been published of the circulation of art objects belonging to South Kensington Museum. Every Member of the House could ascertain what had been done. They had a large staff, working at its fullest strength, engaged in circulating the South Kensington works of art. He had no wish to reflect on the British Museum or the National Gallery; but he would say, if there was one institution which did its work effectually, and which had been worked to the very fullest stretch of its capacity, it was the South Kensington Museum. Indeed, his own friends were in the habit of complaining that whenever they went to that Museum to see some particular work of art the case was empty, and a label announced that it was lent, to Birmingham or some other Provincial town. The number of art objects, paintings, and drawings, estimated at five years' purchase, alone circulated in the Provincial towns in 1880 was 9,437; of scientific apparatus, 1,970. Examples were circulated in 55 institutions. The cost of circulation amounted to £4,659. He thoroughly agreed with the Mover and the Seconder of the Resolution in reference to our local industries. He believed the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Slagg), who was about to serve on a Technical Education Commission, would find that no country in Europe was doing as much for art, as applied to manufactures, as was being done in this country at this moment through the medium of the South Kensington Museum. How they could assist these museums was in the matter of reproduction. His hon. Friend seemed to overlook the fact that for the first time this year a Vote of £2,000 would be taken for reproduction of works of art, ancient and mediaeval, and Votes of £1,500 under sub-head 4. Objects which would cost £3,000, and whose value would be more than double that amount, would be given for the small contribution of £1,500 from the localties. If the sum was not larger it was not his fault; he had done his best to make it larger. His hon. Friend hoped that he would not fall short of the promises made by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) in 1877; but he thought he had gone a good deal beyond the noble Lord. The noble Lord said, on the occasion referred to, that the present was a time when the resources of the country were strained, and a strict economy was very properly exercised by those who had control of the public expenditure, so that the hands of Ministers in charge of the various Departments were much tied. The noble Lord added that the Government would not overlook the matter, which would receive careful consideration, and when it came under discussion next year he hoped the Government would be able to give an opinion one way or the other. That was what was said by the noble Lord; but this year the Government were prepared to give £3,000 for reproductions, which the Provincial towns might have for half the cost if they would only begin, to help themselves. When he sat below the Gangway, for three years in succession he brought in a Bill to enable every locality to rate itself under the Free Libraries and Museums Act to the amount of 2d. in the pound. The Municipalities ought not to be fettered in the way they were at present. This House unduly exercised a controlling power when it said that for free libraries and museums only a rate of 1d. in the pound would be allowed. A second 1d. would pay for the museums; and, what was more, local liberality would be developed to an enormous extent. In Birmingham one person alone had subscribed £8,000, and a few others £7,000 more. That was only a beginning, and he was as sure as he was of his existence that in a few years Birmingham would have a fine museum. Such institutions were, of course, not built in a day. The collection at South Kensington was the laughing-stock of the country for a long time; but now the public had come to appreciate its value. It was rather discreditable to us that we had no gallery of the finest casts. At South Kensington they had resolved to have a gallery of casts. They were prepared to have Votes year after year for the purpose, and if those Votes went on increasing he should be the better pleased. His hon. Friend ought to be satisfied with what had been already achieved. It was due to the persistency and eloquence of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Slagg) that they had a Vote on the Estimates this year. Let his friends in Manchester and Birmingham and elsewhere accept what the Government were doing this year, and next year he should be happy to see what the Treasury would do for those most useful institutions. The cultivation of the love of beauty and the feeling for art workmanship would be of the greatest benefit to the Provinces. If the matter was once set on foot, local liberality would come to the aid of local rates, and with such, duplicates as the Department was prepared to give the towns would have splendid museums. He must remind the House that it was not by grants from the State that the great towns of Italy, Germany, and other countries created their museums; but it was by the spirit and local patriotism of their citizens which made people proud of their towns. He did not think that Liverpool, Manchester, or Birmingham was deficient in that local patriotism which characterized Florence and other cities which were distinguished on the Continent for their devotion to and cultivation of art.


said, he begged the House to distinguish between what the Trustees of the British Museum could do legally and what they could not. Several things which had been alluded to on the present occasion were entirely beyond their powers. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Magniac) wished that the Trustees should hand over their prints to the National Gallery. The Trustees had no more power to hand over those prints than his hon. Friend. They were strictly tied down. He was sure he might say that the Trustees were ready to consider any suggestions which might be thrown out; but it was hardly fair to blame them for not doing what they had no power to do. Then his hon. Friend said that the Trustees might have brought in a Bill to enable them. He did not think it was for the Trustees to do so. In 1878, an Act passed through that House enabling the Trustees to give away duplicates, and from that moment they were endeavouring to carry out the object of the Act as faithfully as they could. They had in the British Museum, perhaps, the very finest collection in the world, of which the nation might well be proud. He hoped that his hon. Friend would for the present be contented with the discussion that had been raised, and would not go to a division. There was evidently so much to be said in favour of reconsidering the position of the National Museums, that the whole subject might, perhaps, be discussed with advantage another year.


said, he was quite willing to bear testimony to the readiness with which the authorities of the South Kensington Museum had assisted the efforts which had recently been made to establish a local museum at Bradford. His right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had cheerfully complied with the request which had been made to him. His hon. Friend the Member for East Cumber- land (Mr. E. S. Howard), with equal readiness, when an application was made to the National Gallery, undertook, on behalf of that institution, to do all that he could, and the result was that a valuable collection had been lent to Bradford. It was not known or anticipated at Bradford that these liberal concessions would be made, and the grants had been received with the greatest gratification and surprise. He suggested to his right hon. Friend the importance of letting it be generally known that these collections at South Kensington and elsewhere were available for the use of localities even if it were only for a short period. But he confessed that he was not altogether satisfied with the position of his right hon. Friend. He had said that it was necessary to keep the great originals in London, where they would be sufficiently guarded. He thought that some of these great pictures and objects of art would be a great ornament to local museums, and it would be a relief in many instances to overcrowded galleries in London to send them away. He thought that, so far as educational results were concerned, the Provinces would receive as much benefit from these exhibitions as the people of London did. He might go further, and say that it was of the greatest importance, in regard to the industries of many parts of England, that there should be higher education in arts and science. He quite agreed that the National Exchequer should not be liable for the whole of the attendant expense; but wherever districts had shown a desire to have these collections, and to establish a course of art studies, such as Manchester, Liverpool, or Birmingham, he thought the Department should deal with these localities in a liberal way. His right hon. Friend had pointed out that a sum of £1,500 for this year had been set aside for the distribution of art objects, in addition to £2,000 for their reproduction; and he held out that as an earnest of better things to come. He must say that to him the sum appeared to be contemptible. An hon. Friend sitting near him had said the figure must be £150,000. He should have been satisfied, too, if that had been the figure. The sum of £1,500 was altogether inadequate, and almost an insult to the country. He must ask his right hon. Friend to bring greater pressure upon the Treasury; and he suggested that if economy were to be practised, as he argued was desirable, it should be carried out in the direction of saving the tons of gunpowder that were blown away in gunnery experiments and such like. It had been said that London was a convenient centre for these collections, and that the art objects there exhibited were accessible to persons from all parts of the country. But there were many struggling young men throughout the country who would be eager to avail themselves of these treasures if they were within a short distance of their homes; but the expense of a journey to London and of remaining there for such a time as to make their studies valuable was a very serious matter.


wished, in the first place, to acknowledge in the strongest terms the manner in which the South Kensington Museum authorities assisted with loans and articles for exhibition those localities which desired such assistance. He had occasion recently to go with a deputation from Glasgow to the Department on this subject, and he could assure the House they were met more than half-way. The Department was now engaged in making a selection of most valuable articles of Oriental art to be sent down to an exhibition in Glasgow. He did not think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman had really met the question before the House. There was a want of management in connection with the great museums—the National Gallery and the British Museum—which was very much to be condemned. Only the other day, two pictures by David Roberts were bequeathed to the nation; but the National Gallery, having already pictures by that artist on its walls, refused to accept them. Why could not these pictures have been taken by the nation, put into a circulating department with others, and sent round the country? Simply because the National Gallery happened to be crowded, valuable pictures of this kind were declined as a bequest. The main point of his hon. Friend (Mr. Jesse Collings) was the treatment of the Provinces as compared with London, and that was a complaint which he (Mr. Anderson) had been making ever since he came into the House. London had everything done for it, and did nothing for itself; whereas Provincial cities did everything for them- selves, and were left to do so. At present, grants were only given to London, Dublin, and Edinburgh. They were given, he believed, to Edinburgh and Dublin because they were considered as Metropolitan; but the industrial museums were misplaced. There was an industrial museum at Edinburgh supported by the State; but Edinburgh was not an industrial city. Glasgow and Dundee were the two chief industrial towns in Scotland, and they, if any, ought to receive such assistance from the State. Some hon. Members objected to anything being done for industrial towns; but urged that grants should only be given for the Metropolis. But they seemed to forget that the prosperity of the Metropolis depended upon the prosperity of the Provincial towns, and the prosperity of those towns was only to be kept up by doing everything we possibly could to promote the technical education of the people of those towns. It was from that point of view that he ventured to support the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich.


wished to point out that the British Museum had a valuable collection of engravings which no one hardly ever saw. Some time ago, when an exhibition of engravings was held at Burlington House, the British Museum did not come forward and contribute to that exhibition, so that the public had no opportunity of seeing what engravings the nation possessed.


The Trustees of the British Museum have no power to lend their collection of engravings.


thought if that was the case it would be a good thing to give the Trustees that power. Those engravings, if they could be seen by the public, would do much to improve the artistic taste of the people.


said, most of them who had experience in museums must know that what was wanted was not merely permanent collections with which people became familiar and in time very weary, but that which was continually fresh, suggesting new lines of thought; and it was because it accomplished that particular end that he wished to tender his strong acknowledgments of the very great value of the circulating department of South Kensington. That system of circulation where local museums were established had worked very well for a number of years with very contracted material, and it was only within comparatively recent times that works had been taken out of the museum proper and sent circulating round the country. With the encouragement of the House, and such pressure as the House could exercise upon the Government, strengthening them in that Resolution, he saw no reason why the whole of the South Kensington Museum should not be made available throughout the Provinces. It appeared to him that their aim should be to encourage, strengthen, and extend this system, rather than to ask for aid for the purchase of a permanent collection, to be kept in the local museums. He might mention that in his own borough there were three museums at that moment which were aided by grants from the circulation department. Recently, when they wanted a collection of Japanese examples a certain sum of money was subscribed in order to secure the 50 per cent aid given by the Department. The result was they obtained a very valuable collection; and while this could be done, it was unreasonable to ask the House to pass a Resolution to the effect that grants in aid of Industrial and Art Museums were not to be confined to London, Edinburgh and Dublin. He would only ask that in granting this aid the Department should abolish the distinction which had been a little embarrassing in limiting the aid to Museums in connection with Schools of Art.


That has already been done.


said, he was glad of that. Where localities had provided free libraries and established museums, they gave the Department an assurance that objects sent to them would be cared for, and proper facilities afforded for the public seeing them. One other suggestion was that the value of these objects of art sent down from time to time would be largely increased if a system of lectures were organized for the purpose of giving an exposition of the objects themselves.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 48; Noes 85: Majority 37.—(Div. List, No. 360.)

Main Question proposed, ''That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."