HC Deb 19 May 1882 vol 269 cc1148-90

, in rising to move— That seeing the success which has attended the action of Her Majesty's Government in opening on Sundays the National Museums and Galleries in the suburban districts of London and in the City of Dublin, this House is of opinion that the time has arrived for extending this action to all Museums and Galleries supported by National funds, said, that though the movement on this question had greatly gained in the country, that House had not been called upon to express an opinion since 1879, when the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) brought forward a Motion on the subject. The hon. Member was fond of leading forlorn hopes, and he might have been afraid that if he brought this question forward now he might have on his side a considerable majority. The matter, however, had been greatly argued out-of-doors, and in "another place," and he thought the supporters of the movement had every reason to be gratified with the result of the argument. The principal argument brought against the Resolution was, that they wished to secularize the Sunday, and, as it was called, destroy the religious character of the day. In trying to controvert these things, he did not need to dwell on the Sabbataiacal argument, because he did not think they should hear that it was a wicked thing to visit Galleries and look at objects of Art. It had often struck him that although the Founder of our religion probably said more on the superstition of the Pharisees in Judea on this subject than any other, this superstition had formed a large part in our religious observances in this country. That superstition, he thought, was a good deal diminished now; but although they did not hear the Sabbataiacal argument in its crudest form, they were told they wished to provide alternatives for religious worship on Sunday. His hon. Friend (Mr. Caine) had an Amendment on the Paper to the effect that such Museums and Galleries should not be opened before 1 o'clock on Sundays; and if that safeguard were added to the Resolution, which he would readily consent to, it would not be possible to maintain that they wished to take away the facilities for worship on Sunday. He came to the more important argument, that the opening of these places would diminish the character of the Sunday as a day of rest. It was quite true that his proposal would involve a certain amount of Sunday labour on the part of officials of different kinds; but the principle of Sunday labour by the few for the benefit of the many was already acted upon to a large extent, with the most beneficial results. Besides, it would be perfectly possible to make arrangements for allowing those who would be employed in Museums, &c., on Sundays to obtain an equivalent holiday in the week. If the opponents of this scheme went against the employment of any persons on Sundays, then he thought these opponents ought to go further, and, if they were consistent, they ought to move that the Museums and Galleries already open should be closed; because the suburban Museums already open employed a far larger number of men than would be required in large towns in the shape of railway officials, omnibus drivers, &c., engaged in the conveyance of the people for the City. He would give a few figures as to the relative attendances on Sundays and weekdays. Last year the number of Sunday attendances at Kew was 411,512; the week-day attendances 425,116; so that the visitors on Sunday were nearly equal to the visitors on the other six days of the week. The smallest number of attendances on any one Sunday was 281; on any one week-day, two. On May 14 the number of visitors at Kew was 23,000. After that, he did not think anybody would be found to move that the suburban Museums should be closed, because it would be certain to be rejected by the House, and to create indignation out-of-doors. No doubt, they should hear the argument about this proposal being the "thin end of the wedge." This Resolution was the thick end of the wedge, The thin end was when the suburban Museums and the Museum at Dublin were opened. His Motion did not affect in any way the opening of music halls and other places called trading places of amusement. To open such places on Sunday it would be necessary to have separate legislation, which would meet, not only with the opposition of the highly-organized bodies who were opposed to his proposal, but also of those who were in favour of it. There was no chance of such a measure being carried. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. M'Arthur) said the opening of Museums on Sundays would be injurious; but his position would be much stronger if, instead of "would be injurious," they could say "had been injurious," and that where the custom prevailed it had led to the demand for the opening of all sorts of places of amusement. There had been no such demand in Dublin, and no desire had been expressed on the part of the inhabitants where such places were opened that they should be closed. The mention of Dublin brought him to Edinburgh, in this way. Several Scottish Members had asked him whether he proposed to include Scotland in his Motion. He wished, in putting forward his Resolution, to make it as general as possible, and to affirm a principle. Now, he had no authority to exclude in his Resolution the people of Edinburgh from the benefits which he asked should be conferred on the people of London; but if Scottish Members differed from him on the subject, he could see no objection whatever to their receiving from the Government that amount of Home Rule which Dublin had hitherto enjoyed. He hoped, however, that whatever the feel- ings of Scottish Members about Edinburgh, these would not induce them to vote against the liberty of the people of London. As things were, at present the only place anyone had to go to was the public-house. The churches were shut up for many hours on the Sunday. In Roman Catholic countries the churches were open all day for the purpose of worship, of rest, and of thought; but we were so fond of closing everything on Sunday, that we locked up our churches during several hours of that day. If the Local Option majority were in earnest they would support this Resolution, which, though it did not deal directly with the Temperance question, provided an attraction for the people on the day when the temptations to intemperance were the greatest. Some might say the right way was to shut up the public-houses altogether on Sundays. He was one of those people; but if they did shut up the public-houses, the demand for opening some other places would be far stronger than now. He had heard it said the working classes would not avail themselves of the privilege of going to these Museums and Galleries if they were open. He did not believe that at all. But there were others than the so-called working-classes, business men and clerks, who worked very hard, who, at the end of a day's work, would much rather go home than into the glaring gaslights of a Museum or Picture Gallery. Those people had a right to see the treasures of which they were joint owners on the only day it was convenient for them to go there. Some people said the opening of these places would give an encouragement to the employment of all kinds of labour for the purpose of money-making. He did not believe in a tendency of that kind, because everything was going in an opposite direction at the present time. Bank holidays had been established; shopkeepers and others gave their employés Saturday half-holidays; and Trade Unions had secured great advantages in these respects to their members. He did not think, therefore, that his Motion would be at all likely to be attended with that result. The hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Broadhurst) intended to suggest that Museums and Art Galleries should be open from 6 till 10 on three evenings in each week. That would not be a good arrangement; but, whether it would or not, it would be useless as a substitute for Sunday opening. He (Mr. Howard) was informed that the experiment of throwing open the Museum and Reading Room at Stoke-upon-Trent on Sundays was commenced in January last, and had, so far, proved a success; and that an increased attendance was expected in consequence of the loans made from the Collection at South Kensington. He congratulated the Vice President of the Council on the assistance he gave to that movement. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the municipal Museums of Manchester and Birmingham were open on Sunday afternoon, and that he could not think of not making loans to them. But why should the people of those towns be more favoured than the people of London? There were several Collections in London on which they had a special claim. The Cartoons of Raphael, which had been taken from Hampton Court, where they could be seen on Sundays, were shut up at South Kensington, where nobody could see them. Again, the Sheepshanks Collection, which had been left with a special request that it might be open to the public on Sundays, was not visible on that day. Having quoted a passage written from Berlin by Mr. Cobden, in 1838, to the effect that the sober German thought his open Tivoli gardens and theatres better than the drunkenness and filth of an English labouring man's Sunday, the hon. Gentleman said that he did not ask for the opening of Tivoli gardens and theatres, but for something which would not only make the working man's Sunday more cheerful, but more elevating also. He hoped that by their vote they would enable the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) to enable the public to see the treasures in South Kensington on Sunday. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.


, in seconding the Resolution, said, that its supporters were not innovators, but they simply asked the House to extend and carry out logically a principle which was already in partial operation, and which had proved very successful in the parts of the country where it had been tried. What reason could there be for objecting to the opening of the National Gallery, the South Kensington Museum, and the British Museum on Sunday, in addition to the other places already open on that day? It could not be alleged that there was anything irreligious or demoralizing in the works of Art and other objects in those Institutions. Many of them were distinctly of a religious caste—all of them were pure and elevating in their nature and character; and he thought, therefore, that to be consistent they ought to carry out the principle already recognized and adopted. It was urged that the opening of Museums on Sunday would add seriously to Sunday labour. He entirely sympathized with that objection, and he should certainly oppose anything which tended in that direction; but experience showed that, in proportion to the large numbers of people who were interested in viewing the works of Art exhibited in those places, the number of attendants required on Sunday was almost infinitesimal. The number of people who in 1880 visited the Galleries thrown open through the influence of the Sunday Society was between 17,000 and 18,000, and the highest number of attendants on any given day was five, though, on one occasion, 3,300 visitors were present. Last year upwards of 19,000 people visited the same places, and again the highest number of attendants was five, though the visitors, on one particular occasion, were between 3,000 and 4,000. That appeared conclusive in the direction of showing that very few attendants were needed to look after those who visited the Galleries on the Sunday. The Museums and Galleries had on those occasions been very much crowded, clearly indicating that there was a great demand on the part of the inhabitants of London for such advantages, while there was also evinced the utmost good behaviour on the part of all who were privileged to enjoy them. Reference had been made to the absence of Petitions; but though he was one of those who did not underestimate the value of Petitions, it was possible to overrate them. His experience went to show that the tendency was to restrict Sunday labour. It had been limited already, not through the action of the employers of labour, but of the workmen themselves, who probably, from economical and social, quite as much as from religious considerations, had a confirmed disinclination to Sunday labour, and in the future they would be quite able to protect themselves from any evils in this matter. There was evidence to show that the feeling of working men was in favour of this movement, for in every place in which a working men's club had been established, that club was open on Sunday. There was this encouraging feature about these clubs, that the working men members had voluntarily thrown aside the idle and frivolous, though innocent, amusements in which they indulged on the other days, and devoted their time to listening to lectures and to other solid methods of improvement. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), as to opening Museums at least three evenings in the week, while he thoroughly appreciated the object he had in view, he quite agreed with the Mover of the Resolution in considering it as not an Amendment to the Resolution before the House. The proposition of the hon. Member could not be accepted as a substitute for opening the Museums on Sundays, because the great mass of the working men, after a long day's work, were scarcely capable of enjoying the works of Art exhibited in the Museums and Picture Galleries. Moreover, the best of the working men would like to take their wives and children to the Museums; but this they could not do at late hours in the evening. Then many people not ordinarily included in the term working men—such as clerks and shop-attendants, who worked during long hours at tedious occupations—would derive great benefit from the opening of these Institutions on Sunday. While he sympathized with the motives of those who, from religious considerations, took an opposite view upon this subject, he could not understand those opponents who looked with equanimity upon the opening of beershops on Sundays, while they opposed the opening of these National Institutions on Sundays; and he was glad to see that public opinion was gradually tending in the direction of closing these beershops on Sunday, while, at the same time, providing healthy and elevating places of improvement in their stead. He trusted that the House would support the present Motion.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "seeing the success which has attended the action of Her Majesty's Government in opening on Sundays the National Museums and Gal- leries in the suburban districts of London and in the city of Dublin, this House is of opinion that the time has arrived for extending this action to all Museums and Galleries supported by National funds,"—(Mr. George Howard,) —instead thereof.

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


Sir, I freely admit that my hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of this Resolution are influenced by pure motives and good intentions. I hope they will give me credit for being actuated by similar motives, and by a sense of duty in opposing the Motion. My hon. Friends think that the adoption of this Resolution by the House would be a step in the right direction, and would do good. I believe it would be a retrogressive movement in the direction of a Continental Sunday, and would do harm. My hon. Friends believe that the policy which they advocate would promote temperance, and be a great advantage to the working classes. I contend that it would largely increase the consumption of alcoholic drinks; that it would be injurious to the best interests of the nation, and especially of working men. My hon. Friends inform us that the success which has attended the opening of Museums and Art Galleries on Sunday convinces them that the time has arrived when it is desirable to open all State-supported Museums and Institutions of the kind on the same day. I argue that the step proposed is unnecessary, that the time for it has not arrived, and, I hope, may never come. I do not deny that some measure of success has attended the opening of Libraries, Art Galleries, and Museums where the experiment has been tried; but it has not been the kind of success which the Sunday Society, or, as I think it should more properly be called, the anti-Sunday Society, profess to wish to achieve, for they profess to be most anxious to benefit the working classes, and to wean men from the public-house. Now, Sir, I doubt not many persons have visited these places of amusement or instruction that have been opened on Sunday; but if that fact is to be brought forward as an argument in favour of Sunday opening, then we have only to open the theatres, music halls, dancing saloons, and similar places, in order to see mul- titudes flocking to them. The same argument will hold good, and the numerical success of the experiment will be urged as a reason why we should proceed further in the same direction, until every bulwark for the protection of our English Sunday, to which we owe so much, is swept away. Again, if we look for the working men who were to be reclaimed from drunkenness and induced to enjoy purer pleasures and cultivate higher tastes, I am convinced that the attempts made, however well intended, have utterly and lamentably failed. I am assured by persons who have made it their business to watch the effect of Sunday opening of Museums and Art Galleries, and judge for themselves, that the vast majority of those who visit such Institutions on Sunday are persons who could, without much inconvenience, visit them equally well on week-days, and that the number of working men who attended is almost infinitesimal. Nor do I believe that even the few who attended have been weaned from the public-house; and my conviction is that not a single drunkard has been reclaimed, or ever will be reclaimed, by such means. Then as to the wonderful success which has crowned the zealous efforts of the so-called Sunday League and Sunday Society. I think a little investigation will prove, as I have already intimated, that it is more imaginary than real. Take Birmingham, for example—of which we have heard so much. It is said that the opening of the Art Gallery there has been a great success. Well, I find the average attendance during the past three years has been: In 1878, 942; in 1880, 749; and in 1881, 547. It is evident, therefore, that less interest is taken in what was at first regarded as an experiment; that the attendance is steadily decreasing; and that even the highest average attendance of 942 out of a population of upwards of 400,000 cannot be regarded as indicating success. I am also informed that in Manchester and other places a large proportion of those who attend are young lads or young men and girls, who spend their time in idle gossip, or in reading comic and illustrated papers, which they could read equally well at home. But what about the want of success? If so much good has been accomplished by this means, how is it that so few towns in the country seem disposed to accept the boon offered, or to take the advice of the Sunday Society? How is it that efforts made to open Museums, Libraries, and Art Galleries have failed in London, Salford, Leeds, Bolton, Leicester, Nottingham, and other places, while in some cases the proposal has been rejected by overwhelming majorities? I am aware statistics are regarded as tiresome and uninteresting; but I hope the House will bear with me while I give a few to prove the correctness of what I have stated. In 1879 an attempt was made to open the Guildhall Library. The motion was defeated by 104 against 34. Last year a similar motion was brought forward, and was defeated by 97 against 25, giving the larger majority of 72 in a smaller house. In Nottingham a resolution was brought forward in 1879 to open the Castle Museum on Sunday, and was defeated by the narrow majority of 3. In 1880 a similar motion was defeated by 32 against 24, giving a majority of 8, and in 1881 the motion was defeated by 34 votes against 8, giving a majority of no less than 26 against the opening of Museums, thus proving beyond the possibility of doubt that the feeling against Sunday opening had steadily and very largely increased. In Keswick the experiment of Sunday opening was tried for several years, and failed. In Maidstone, after an experiment lasting three years, the Town Council decided, by 16 votes against 3, to close their Museum and Library on Sunday. The results of Sunday opening were strongly condemned by the Mayor, and the Librarian writes, in answer to a gentleman who wished to obtain authentic information upon the subject— We have a great many persons who visit this place continually; but that which I wrote was my first impression in the matter, which is now quite changed. I have given myself plenty of time to study the people who visit on Sunday; and I have come to the conclusion that the Institution is made use of simply for a meetinghouse of young people (lads and servant-girls—these we are continually turning out), who never come to the place during the week, or very rarely, and care for nothing, The lads who go into the Library look at nothing else than The Illustrated London News, and it is very seldom anyone requires a book on any subject. I do not consider the place is made use of in a proper manner, and it does not serve the end which we might have expected. I was in favour of it; but I cannot support it any longer. Mind you this, if I thought it tended towards doing good, or that the people came to study and learn anything, I should continue to support the opening of the Institution; but my experience now teaches me better. Now, Sir, if the truth were honestly told, my impression is that we would have a good deal of similar evidence respecting other places open on Sunday which my hon. Friends are authorized to represent as having been very successful. But, Sir, while I do not think men would be weaned from the public-house, I fear there would be weaning of a much more objectionable character. My conviction is that next to the ordinance of public worship, Sunday schools have done more to civilize, to benefit, to bless, and to promote good order, obedience to the law, and the moral, intellectual, and religious improvement of the masses than any other agency; and if Museums, Art Galleries, and similar Institutions are open on Sundays many young persons would probably be induced to go there instead of to Sunday school, and to form habits and make acquaintances that might be the reverse of beneficial to them. It is also argued that the course recommended by my hon. Friends would promote temperance. I hold, as I have already intimated, that it would largely increase the consumption of alcoholic beverages or drinks, for you must have refreshment stalls at which wine, spirits, and ale will be sold and largely consumed. If we require proof of this, we have it in the fact that the vast majority of publicans are in favour of Sunday opening, because they are well aware it will be to their advantage. When application was made for a music licence for the Surrey Gardens in 1875 it was stated that on 13 acres of ground there were no less than eight drinking bars, and free passes were given largely for the sake of profits on drinks. At Brighton it was stated that 14 persons were employed in the public-house department when the Aquarium was open all day on Sunday. I might give more statements of a similar kind to prove that, just in proportion as you open such places, you must afford facilities for obtaining drink and increase the temptation to take it. Again, it is asserted that much good and no evil results from the opening of Art Galleries and places of amusement on the Continent. Will the House permit me to read a short extract from a German paper to show the fallacy of this argument? The writer, after referring to the proper observance of the Sunday, proceeds— We Germans, and we Schleswig-Holsteiners not the least, are, to a great extent, far removed from such a celebration of Sunday. The day of rest and of most elevated joy is too often robbed of its honour. The forenoon of Sunday is given up to work and the afternoon to pleasure. That which can elevate man is often despised, but that which degrades him is sought after. On Sunday the policemen reap their most abundant harvests; on Sunday children occasion the greatest anxiety; on Sunday evening, above all other days, does the wife anticipate the return of her husband with a foreboding heart. Drunkenness and riotousness celebrate their greatest triumph on Sunday; and most of the misdemeanours are committed on that day, or are intimately connected with the misuse of it. We turn, therefore, to our own countrymen with the urgent request that they would, in their various spheres, endeavour to procure for the Sunday a more honourable observance in our land. If the Sunday acquires a different character the national life will rest upon a securer basis. Wilhelm von Humboldt justly said that the future of our nation depended upon the observance of the Sunday. The Sunday question is not that of a Party, but the common cause of all who have the true good of the people at heart. Not merely the Church, but the State and the family as well, must demand and promote a right observance of Sunday. Now, Sir, I think it is much to be regretted that, while thoughtful men on the Continent are anxious to remedy the evils and mistakes of the past, and avert the dangers of the future, some of our people are endeavouring to move in an opposite direction, and deprive many of their Sunday as a day of rest and enjoyment. As to the necessity for Sunday as a day of rest, I do not think it is necessary for me to say much. Even those who advocate Sunday opening argue in favour of one day's rest in seven; but they think that men compelled to work on Sunday might rest during some week-day, and thus secure compensation. This may seem very good in theory, but it could never be carried out on a large scale; and perhaps the best answer to the proposal is that large numbers of men who now work on Sundays seldom get even a holiday, much less one day in seven, to recruit their exhausted energies, for want of which many of them sink into premature graves. Almost innumerable proofs of this might be adduced; but there is one very striking illustration which I would like to mention; I believe I alluded to it on a former occasion, but not during the present Parliament. Hon. Members are aware that until very recently there were large tracts of country in Australia that had never been explored. Numerous attempts were made to cross the Continent and to ascertain the nature of those unknown regions, and there were many failures and some loss of life. A short time before I left the Colony, some 18 or 20 years ago, an attempt was made which it was hoped would prove successful, and one of the strongest parties ever organized for the purpose left Melbourne under peculiarly favourable circumstances. Camels were imported; a sufficient number of men and horses were secured; the leaders were men of great energy and considerable scientific attainments; ample stores were collected, and every provision was made to preserve the health and lives of the party. But the leader made a great and fatal mistake. He paid no regard to Sunday as a day of rest, although he rested occasionally on week-days. I will not detain the House by entering into details. It is sufficient to state that I believe all the animals and all the men, except one man, perished, and he was rescued to tell the melancholy tale, after having been some weeks or months with the aborigines, who treated him kindly, and assisted him to eke out life by getting and eating a kind of wild corn or grain called nardoo by the Natives. Well, Sir, we have, I am happy to say, an illustration of a different kind. A few years after the time to which I have just alluded another exploring party was organized to start from Queensland, I think from the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was also well arranged and ably conducted; but the leader, Mr. Landsborough, adopted what proved to be sounder policy. He set out with the determination not to travel on Sunday, unless compelled to do so, to reach water, or owing to some necessity; and it is impossible to read the very interesting Reports of the two expeditions without being struck with the different policy pursued and the different result. I have already stated the sad result of the expedition conducted by Burk and Wills, and I believe I am correct in saying that Mr. Landsborough and his party traversed the same desolate country without the loss of man or beast. It is just possible circumstances may have been more fa- vourable for them in some respects, although I have never heard this stated; but I think the reasonable probability is that had Burk and Wills given themselves and their men and cattle the regular rest of the Sunday the lives of those brave and energetic men might have been saved. We have numerous testimonies in support of the great advantage of Sunday rest. Lord Palmerston ascribed the remarkable vigour which he retained in old age to the circumstance that he had all his life given himself up to rest on Sunday. Lord Beaconsfield, speaking on one occasion in opposition to a Motion similar to the one now before the House, is reported to have said— Of all divine institutions the most divine is that which secures a day of rest for men. I hold it to be the most valuable blessing ever conceded to man. It is the corner-stone of civilization, and its removal might even affect the health of the people. It (the opening of Museums on Sunday) is a great change, and those who suppose for a moment that it could be limited to that proposal will find they are mistaken. Lord Macaulay said— While industry is suspended, while the plough lies in the furrow, while the exchange is silent, while no smoke ascends from the factory, a process is going on quite as important to the wealth of the nation as any process which is performed on more busy days. Man, the machine of machines, is repairing and winding-up, so that he returns to his labours on Monday with clearer intellect, with livelier spirits, and with new corporeal vigour. Adam Smith writes— The Sabbath as a political institution is of inestimable value, independently of its claims to Divine authority. Almost innumerable quotations of a similar character might be given not only from the speeches and writings of great and good men of the past, but also from many eminent men who are still happily with us, including the right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister; but I fear to tax the patience of hon. Members too severely. Our opponents, however, assert with singular inconsistency that they do not wish to do away with or abolish the day of rest. They would advocate a day of rest during the week for those who labour on Sunday. I have already said it is all very well in theory, but it cannot be carried out in practice. It is not done now with those who toil, some of whom are at work from 15 to 18 hours out of the 24 every day, Sunday included, and seldom have a day of rest, except, perhaps, one Sunday out of four, while many do not even get so much. Now, Sir, I am not one of those who attach little importance to the religious aspect of this question, but I believe Christianity has made us what we are as a nation, and that just in proportion as we secularize the Sunday we lessen the influence of the Christianity we profess; or, to quote the language of Count Mon-talembert— There can be no religion without public worship, and there can be no public worship without a Sabbath. But I oppose this Motion chiefly on the ground that it would, in my opinion, be injurious to the best interests of the working classes. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the idea that the proposal refers only to the National Galleries and Museums. Everyone who reflects for a moment upon the subject must know perfectly well that opening a few places of the kind in London would be like a drop in a bucket. Even if people were disposed to visit them in crowds the number they could accommodate is small; but what we are asked to do is to grant the permission of the British House of Commons to break down another barrier for the preservation of our national Sunday. This will be used as a powerful lever to break down similar barriers all over the Kingdom, and the next demand will be for the repeal of the law which prohibits money payments for places of amusement open on Sundays. Now, Sir, I hold we have nothing to do with gentlemen or municipalities who throw open their public or private Galleries or Museums; but I trust this House will not, by sanctioning the opening of State-supported Institutions, set an example which would inevitably lead to the opening of almost innumerable places of amusement on Sundays, all over the Kingdom, and to a vast increase of Sunday labour of various kinds. It is all very well to say the working classes are independent and quite able to protect themselves. Sir, it is not so; there are tens of thousands who cannot protect themselves against the slavery to which they are compelled to submit, and to whom the condition described in the seven-day cabman's song is equally applicable, Drive, drive, drive, In sunshine, frost, and rain, Ever to labour, yet never to thrive, The brand of the outcast Cain; Dinner and church and play, Rail and rout and ball, Till life and health are worn away, And never a rest at all. In Sabbaths I have no part, My part in my soul I doubt, A tempest is raging within my heart, That rivals the storm without. For it's drive, drive, drive, Till labour shall stop my breath; Body and mind alike diseased, And both at the door of death. Sir, whatever else might be the effect of opening additional places of amusement throughout the country, no one can doubt or deny that one result would be to increase largely the number of those who would have thus to toil. Of this the more thoughtful and better class of working men are well aware. One of their ablest leaders and advocates, Mr. Lucraft, who has been a most useful member of the School Board for London since its formation, and who was one of the candidates for the Tower Hamlets at the General Election, in answer to a question whether he would vote for opening Musuems on Sunday, is reported to have given the following answer:— As to the opening of Museums on Sunday, he looked at it from purely a workman's point of view, and he should not like to work seven days instead of six. He therefore could not vote for opening Museums on Sunday. The answer was responded to by cheers; and I may add that Mr. Lucraft is not either a bigoted or ignorant Sabbatarian, anxious to restrict the liberty or enjoyment of working men, but a real and earnest friend, who has the perspicacity to perceive that the tendency of the course advocated by the Mover and Seconder of this Resolution is in the direction of general Sunday labour, and of seven days' work for six days' wages. Sir, Sunday is a great advantage and a great blessing to all who make a proper use of it; but it is pre-eminently so to working men. To them it is a priceless boon, a rich heritage, which, if they are wise and understand their own interests, they will not be easily induced to part with. Our great national poet has written— Who steals my purse, steals trash, 'tis something, nothing; 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he, that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that, which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed. The same language may be very appropriately applied to Sunday. The rich, who can do as they please on that day, but who, either from hatred of all that is sacred, or from a sincere, though I believe mistaken, desire to serve the poor man, filches from him his day of rest—his natural birthright—robs him of that which, if lost, makes him poor indeed. Sir, we who oppose the secularization of the Sunday are honoured occasionally with a liberal share of abuse and misrepresentation. We are accused of being ignorant, bigoted, and intolerant. Well, Sir, we can bear this with great equanimity. We believe that a very large majority of the working classes are in favour of preserving their Sunday, and we desire to assist them to the best of our ability. We do not, as has been represented, advocate either a Jewish or a Puritanical Sunday. We are well aware that there are works of necessity and mercy which must be attended to, and that there ought to be a certain amount of Christian liberty enjoyed on a day which should be the "brightest and best of all the seven," nor do we imagine it any sin to look at paintings, statuary, or other works of Art on Sunday; but we contend that the increase of labour, the increased consumption of spirituous liquors, and other evils which need not be enumerated, would far outweigh any good that might be accomplished. We also believe there never was a time when there was less necessity for opening such Institutions. Fifty or 100 years ago, when comparatively few of the working classes could read, and when the hours of labour were much longer than at present, there might have been more reason for such a step, but now, with increased educational advantages; with penny and even halfpenny papers and periodicals in abundance, containing much useful information; with the Saturday half-holiday and frequently a whole holiday on Monday; with the parks open, where pure air and exercise can be enjoyed; I hope I may soon be able to add with all Museums open three or four nights during the week, and many other advantages, we do not believe that opening Museums and Art Galleries on Sunday would do good to the working classes, but the contrary. I therefore feel it my duty to oppose the Motion. I fear I have already trespassed too long upon the indulgence of the House; and, thanking hon. Members for the patient hearing they have given me, I will conclude, as I did on a former occasion, in the eloquent language of Emerson, whose loss our American friends have so recently had to mourn:— Two inestimable advantages Christianity has given us—first, the institution of preaching the speech of man to man; and, secondly, the Sabbath, the jubilee of the whole world, whose light dawns welcome alike into the closet of the philosopher, into the garret of toil, and into prison cells, and everywhere suggests, even to the vile, the dignity of spiritual being. Let it stand for evermore a temple, which new light, new love, and new hope shall restore to more than its first splendour to mankind.


, who had on the Paper the following Amendment to the Motion:— After the words "National funds," to insert the words "but such Museums and Galleries shall not be opened to the public before one o'clock on Sunday afternoons, and shall be entirely closed upon one other day of the week, said, his hon. Friend (Mr. G. Howard) was willing to adopt that Amendment if the Forms of the House had permitted. With regard to the extraordinary statement by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. A. M'Arthur) that the opening of Museums and innocent places of amusement on Sunday would produce a larger consumption of ardent spirits, he desired to remind the House that it had twice affirmed the principle of the Sunday closing of public-houses; but it had not yet affirmed the principle of opening Museums, Picture Galleries, and Libraries; they were, therefore, much nearer the closing of public-houses, and if they were closed, the dangers that were feared from the increased resort to them entirely disappeared. He had studied the question in Holland as a Protestant country, and Belgium as a Catholic country; in Amsterdam and in Brussels he found the churches crowded on the Sunday morning, so that there was difficulty in getting admission to them; and later in the day he found the public places of recreation and instruction also crowded. He believed that there was absolutely nothing to fear, so far as the Christian religion was con- cerned, from the opening of places of instruction like public Picture Galleries. But that by no means implied the opening of places of amusement like the old Surrey Gardens or the Brighton Aquarium. He was as great a stickler as anyone for a weekly day of rest, and he would urge that that should be strictly secured for all public employés; therefore, if the Motion of the hon. Member for East Cumberland were carried, as he hoped it would be, he should move to amend it in the direction he had indicated.


said, that public opinion in Manchester was very much divided; but he could affirm with the most perfect confidence that the experiment made in opening the Royal Institution Picture Gallery in that city on Sunday by a few public-spirited men had been in the highest degree satisfactory to the promoters of the movement; and, further, that those who attended on Sunday afternoons were of the classes that they most wished to see availing themselves of these opportunities, the pure artizan classes of the city. They came in such large crowds that it taxed the ingenuity and patience of the attendants to conduct them through; and it was with the greatest regret on the part of a large section of the working men that the experiment had finally to be abandoned for some reason or other. He really could not imagine how those familiar with the places and habitations of working men in large towns could possibly bring themselves to begrudge the opportunities for improvement and mental recreation such as it was the object of his hon. Friend to secure. To say that these opportunities existed on ordinary week-days was too absurd. The population of this country was very hardly worked, and they had not energy when their daily work was over to embark in such recreations. Therefore, upon grounds of the recreation of the people, of their mental culture, and of the opportunities which he thought the opening of these Institutions would give to improve their artistic, and especially and directly their commercial usefulness, he had great pleasure in supporting the Resolution. The House had, of course, introduced the dreadful bugbear of the French Sabbath. A good many things were done on the French Sabbath which he did not think were likely to be done in this country, and which had no relation whatever to the opening of Museums and Picture Galleries on that day. These were largely visited on the Sunday in France, Germany, Belgium, and Norway; and, from personal observation, he believed that the opportunity of visiting them on the Sunday was an unmixed advantage to the people.


said, it would be a great desecration of the day if the views of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken were carried out. The Sunday was a day of rest, and he did not believe any good would result to the working classes if these places were open. Nay, more; he did not believe the working classes wished Museums and Picture Galleries opened on Sunday. He could confidently say, from his experience of the working classes, no great desire had ever been expressed for the Motion now before the House, and he believed the grievance complained of was purely imaginary. Nothing, he believed, would fill the public-houses more than the opening of these places. How would hon. Members like to be on their legs in the National Gallery or in the Crystal Palace for three hours without getting some refreshment; and where could people go but to the public-houses? Let no one suppose that he was in favour of closing the public-houses on Sunday. Still, to be consistent, he must tell hon. Members opposite that if they carried out their views nothing more would tend to fill the public-houses than the opening of these places of amusement, and it was only human nature that it should be so. Various pamphlets on this subject had been circulated. He had seen, but not read them. No pamphlet, either one way or another, would convince him that he was wrong in the views he held. The popular and broad view of the working classes on the question was that they were perfectly content that things should go on as at present. He objected to the proposal of the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine), because he did not desire to see a day of rest created other than the one which was recognized by the nation; and if his Amendment were carried it would be tantamount to the Legislature manufacturing another Sunday. If Museums were to be opened on Sunday, he failed to see why music halls and theatres should not be thrown open likewise, for surely the drama and music were just as much Fine Arts as sculpture or painting. It was for these reasons, and not because he posed as a Sabbatarian, that he should consistently, on all occasions, oppose the present and all similar Motions.


, who had the following Amendment on the Paper:— That it is undesirable that Parliament should further promote the employment of Sunday labour by authorising the opening of the National Museums and Galleries which are now closed on that day; but that such Museums and Galleries should be open between the hours of six and ten p.m. on at least three evenings in each week, said, he regretted finding himself compelled to vote against the Motion of his hon. Friend. He took that course entirely unconnected with any Society. He did it entirely in the interests of labour, with which he had been connected all his life, and on the ground that the seventh day should be kept distinct, and as fully relieved from all associations of labour as it was possible to do. He also opposed the Motion on the ground that there was no sufficient demand in the country to warrant the House adopting the Resolution submitted to them. He further opposed it on the ground that the Motion could have no effect except loosening the ties which bound them together in defence of an absolute right of having one day in seven free from all labour. Not a single speaker had attempted to contend that there was any considerable demand for the Motion. The Society which promoted its object was only able, after a month or six weeks' hard work, at enormous cost, to half fill St. James's Hall at the meeting held last Wednesday. He remembered more than 20 years ago that the subject was discussed in the lodge rooms of a trade society to which he belonged in the Metropolis. If the question were again discussed, he felt sure that it would be found that the feeling in favour of the Motion had not increased. That being so, he did not feel warranted in supporting the Motion. He wished to ask the attention of the House to the other course which he proposed. If the Museums and Picture Galleries were open from 6 to 10 on three nights a week, he was sure they would be largely frequented, and the course would meet with the general approval of the people of London. In support of that opinion, he would refer to the South Kensington Museum, which for 25 years past had been opened on three evenings in the week. The total number of visitors in the evening was 6,397,515, and during the first three months of the present year 126,063 had visited the Museum in the evening, as against 49,209 in the day time. These figures were, he thought, unmistakable evidence in favour of his Amendment. The argument against lighting the British Museum and the National Gallery at night had ceased to have any force. All those who had seen the magnificent electrical exhibition at the Crystal Palace would feel that in the future there need be no difficulty on the score of lighting. It was said that the working people had no opportunity of visiting the National Collections except on Sunday. If that were so, what became of the argument, so long and so successfully employed, in favour of the Saturday half-holiday and later hours on Monday? The argument was that these increased hours of leisure were required in order to enable the people to visit these Exhibitions, and avail themselves of other forms of secular enjoyment. The difference between the hon. Member for East Cumberland (Mr. G. Howard) and himself was that his hon. Friend was seeking to re-cast the social arrangements which had been in existence with regard to that matter for centuries past; whereas he himself was endeavouring to maintain the old tradition of keeping one day in seven absolutely free from labour. He was not much impressed with the argument urged on behalf of the busy City man, who went to his office about 11 in the morning, and returned fagged and worried about 3, in a condition utterly unsuitable to the enjoyment of works of Art. He was not disposed to break with old habits for the benefit of that class of society. There were other people for whose welfare he felt a deeper concern—the toiling masses of the country. The shop assistants were given their Saturday afternoons in order that they might have the opportunity of visiting these Museums and Galleries. If anyone walked through our main thoroughfares in the West End at that time, he would see that the principal shops of the district were entirely closed, and that it was desirable to promote further Saturday closings, than that Sunday openings of Museums should be con- sented to in order to meet the case of the shell-fish shopkeeper, who worked their white slaves from Monday morning till Saturday night without time or opportunity of recreation. It was perfectly true that if this Resolution were passed they were not likely to see it embodied in a law next week. But people, like nations, never lost their rights by a single Resolution; that was accomplished by Resolution after Resolution and concession after concession. The proposal was one innocent enough on the face of it, but fraught with the gravest and most certain danger, if not to the people now, to the children who would come after them. It had been said that this proposal would relieve public-houses. But did the skilled artizans and workpeople spend their Sunday in the public-house? No. Who were the poor neglected creatures with whom the public-house teemed on that day? Those who were the most unfortunate of the class, and who were the least skilled, and therefore the worst paid, and were, therefore, the worst housed of all our population. Was it likely that this class that loitered round the doors of the public-house, waiting for admittance, were people who were thirsting to worship exhibitions of Fine Art? The tendency, if there was any, of that Motion would be to increase enormously Sunday labour. How could it possibly be otherwise? The masses of the people who, the supporters of the Motion contended, were desirous of visiting these Museums and Galleries, lived, for the most part, in outlying districts. They must be conveyed to the City and back, and if they spent their day in the Metropolis they must be provided with some refreshment. All these things must necessarily tend to increase Sunday labour. It had been said that no general system of labour on a Sunday would be the result. But where were they going to draw the line? Once they had admitted this abstract principle, were they going to hold it fast, and prevent further encroachments? He believed no good could come of such a change. To those who lived a ceaseless life of toil, the Sunday was to them that which the cooling stream in the desert was to the weary traveller. They knew they should arrive at it; and it was one of their great hopes in life that they should, on that one day of the week, feel that all men were equal for 24 hours, and that they were having a foretaste, at least, of a future in which they should share with all mortals the results of a life of labour. The rich had their recesses, their periods of relaxation. The working man had nothing except this day. He asked Parliament, who had never conferred that advantage, not for one moment to attempt to take the advantage from the workpeople. The gift was anterior to Parliament. He asked them, in the name of those who toiled, to retain it, and not to play ducks and drakes with such a sacred, such a priceless gift as this which they enjoyed, and to hand down to them and those who came after them the great and priceless boon of one day of rest out of seven.


said, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Broadhurst) had made an impressive—he would say a touching—speech. He was glad that, representing a constituency at the opposite pole of the social scale from that which the hon. Member represented, he had the opportunity of supporting a view which, if he (Mr. Talbot) had advocated it alone, might have been suspected of class prejudices; and he thought he was speaking, not only for himself, but for right hon. Friends who sat near him, when he said he was glad, in opposing the Motion, to feel that he was in accord with one who claimed—and he thought rightly claimed—to represent a large amount of the working-class feeling of this country. It would be an exceedingly difficult thing to arrange that persons employed on Sundays should have an equivalent holiday in the week, and there would be a great danger of their losing their holiday altogether. Too many persons were already unduly employed on Sunday; and to add to their number, as the Resolution proposed to do, seemed to be most uncalled-for and impolitic. It was said that the working classes had no opportunity of visiting Museums, &c., on week-days. That might have been true some years ago; but the number of popular holidays of late years had very much increased. Foreigners, seeing the shops closed, imagined that the English Sunday was dull; but that was an entire mistake, as anyone could see who watched the faces of the people in the streets and the Parks. If it was right to open Museums on Sundays, what distinction could be drawn which would exclude theatres and music halls? It would be found impossible to draw the line between them. Moreover, it must be remembered that in the foreign countries which had been spoken of, where the one set of buildings were open, the others were open also. The late Earl of Beaconsfield said that those who supposed for a moment that the change could be limited to the proposal for opening Museums and Galleries would find themselves mistaken. And the present Prime Minister wrote— Believing in the authority of the Lord's Day as a religious institution, I must, as a matter of course, desire the recognition of it by others. But over and above this, I have myself, in the course of a laborious life, signally experienced both its mental and its physical benefits. I can hardly overstate its value in this view; and for the interest of the working men in this country, alike in these and in other yet higher respects, there is nothing I more anxiously desire than that they should more and more highly appreciate the Christian day of rest. The House would do unwisely if it allowed itself to be led by any specious arguments as to the needs of the working men to depart from a long-established custom of the country on this important subject. A day of rest was necessary for all classes, and had been handed down to us as a Divine institution, which he trusted the good sense of the House would preserve.


said, the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. J. G. Talbot), like most speakers upon this question, had represented the matter as if the question before the House were—whether they should be deprived of their Sunday and their Sunday's rest? Now, that was not the question before the House, because the Motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. G. Howard) was not to compel people to go into Museums or Art Galleries, but to give them an opportunity of doing so if they chose. Therefore, that consideration very much narrowed down all the remarks which had been made with regard to the desecration of the Sunday and so forth. There was, however, another argument introduced by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman asked, where were they to stop? Why not open theatres as well as the National Galleries? Well, it was a difficult question, no doubt, to say where they were to stop; but the question of the hon. Gentleman should have been asked when they allowed omnibuses and cabs to ply in the streets on a Sunday, and trains to run upon the Railways. The fact was that each question must be settled upon its own merits; and when the hon. Gentleman opposite asked what distinction there was between National Collections and theatres, the answer was this—it was simply sought that the working classes of the Metropolis should be allowed to visit and enjoy their own property on the only day on which they had leisure to do so. That was quite a different thing from allowing a trading and profit-making concern to take money at the door for amusement or any other purpose. He thought the hon. Member would see the great distinction that was to be drawn between the two cases. When the working classes of London, or anywhere else, asked that they should be allowed to go into the British Museum, which was their own property in their corporate capacity, it was precisely the same thing as when the hon. Gentleman opposite entered his own library or picture gallery to look at his books and pictures. The only difference was that in the one case the hon. Member was the sole proprietor, while in the other the working classes were proprietors in their corporate capacity. A pamphlet had been quoted in regard to Birmingham which he wished to refer to, because the statements which it contained were calculated very much to mislead. He would take the first paragraph which appeared in it. It stated that the attendance of visitors at the Art Gallery in Birmingham on Sunday had been altogether a failure, and that in the three years 1878, 1880, and 1881 they were considerably under 1,000 in number. As the writer of that pamphlet was well aware, just at the time he began to give his statistics, the Art Gallery of Birmingham was burned down, and what had been called the Art Gallery since was simply a little room in which pictures were stored until the Gallery could be built again. He could scarcely fancy that the gentleman who compiled these figures could have been ignorant of the number of persons who visited the Art Gallery in the three years previous to the Gallery being burnt down. The numbers quoted in the pamphlet between 1878 and 188l were 942, 749, and 594 respectively; but in the three years previous to that date the numbers had been 41,000, 36,000, and 29,000. He, therefore, threw away the pamphlet altogether when he found an attempt of this kind being made to foist such statements upon the House in the name of information. He had always noticed in that House that whenever opinions, which were formed from actual experience, were placed before the House, that the House was always inclined to pay attention to them. He might, therefore, say that for eight years he had been Chairman of one of the largest Art Galleries out of London; and on going into the town of Birmingham on a Sunday, seeing every place dull and dismal except the public-houses, and this magnificent building—the Art Gallery—altogether shut up, it seemed to him that the closing of it was almost a crime against religion, morality, and the higher life of the town. He ventured, therefore, in 1872, to introduce a motion in the Birmingham Town Council that the Gallery should be opened on Sunday from 1 o'clock until 10. In consequence of that motion a deputation, composed of nearly every clergyman and minister of the town, waited upon the Council; and he was bound to say that the representations of the deputation were successful for a time, though the Galleries were eventually opened on Sundays. But he now joined issue with his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) as to whether his hon. Friend had a right to speak for the working classes in this respect. He altogether disputed the right of his hon. Friend, because, when he (Mr. Collings) found it impossible to give effect to his Resolution, he sent for the leaders of the working classes in Birmingham, and said to them—"This is not my business. I have my own library, and I do not want to go to this building; but it is your property, maintained out of your taxes. Will you allow those who have no need of Free Libraries and Art Galleries to prevent your entry there?" The consequence was that in three weeks there was such a large demonstration upon the part of the working classes that the Town Council could not resist their importunity, and from that day to this the Free Library and Art Galleries had been thrown open on Sunday. He held in his hand a resolution passed by the re- preservatives of the Trades Council of the borough, which was as follows:— That, in the opinion of this meeting, it is the duty of the Town Council to adopt that part of the Report of the Free Libraries Committee which recommends the opening of the Art Gallery and Reference Library on some part of the Sunday; that such a place of resort would be of great value, and be greatly appreciated by a large number of the inhabitants of the borough; and that, instead of lowering the morality of those who might be inclined to visit that Institution during such times, it would tend to encourage study and thoughts that would elevate the mind, raising them to the consideration of the highest subjects.—Signed, WM. GILLIVER, Secretary to the Birmingham Trades Council. Since that day, to his own knowledge, many men who were in the habit of spending their Sundays in the public-house had become regular visitors to the Library and Art Galleries of Birmingham, He did not advance that as an argument; but he mentioned the fact in support of their claim to the right of enjoying their own property. But what had his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), in his very interesting speech, advanced? His hon. Friend stated that "labour should accommodate itself to the traditions of the country." He did not wonder that his hon. Friend should have been cheered from the opposite side of the House, because a more Conservative and a more caste-retaining principle the strongest advocate of difference of classes could not have advanced. Another statement put forward was that Sunday labour would become general, and that the working classes would have to work seven days instead of six. But running alongside of that argument was the complaint that the working hours and working days were being lessened by the working classes themselves. Surely the danger could not exist in both directions; and so far as the statement of his hon. Friend, that no skilled labourer would go into a public-house, was concerned, he could state as a fact that that was not so. He knew many persons of that class personally, and he had received the thanks of their families, because whereas, at one time, in default of any other provision, they spent their Sunday in the public-houses, they were now regular visitors to the Free Library and Art Galleries. What was it that his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) contended? He contended that the rich man ought to enjoy his property as much as he chose, but that the working classes should not have an opportunity of enjoying theirs. If a man were able to subscribe one guinea a-year to the Zoological Gardens, or the Grosvenor Gallery, or other places of resort, the sin disappeared, because respectability and wealth entered in; but to see the workman, with his wife and family, going into an Institution which belonged to them in their corporate capacity, in order to enjoy themselves on a Sunday afternoon, seemed, in the eyes of some persons, to be a crime, and must not be allowed. They were frequently talking in that House about the alleviation of the condition of the working classes; but it was of no use going down and preaching to them about bettering their position, because, unless it could be shown that they would be happy in their present position, their mission would be a failure. Everyone could not rise in the social scale, and the object of the House should be to bring enjoyment to the people in the class amid which they dwelt. What was there at present to make their homes happy? First of all there was education. That the Legislature was giving to them. There were only three things the possession of which could give permanent enjoyment, and that was the opportunity of enjoying and the power of appreciating matters connected with art, literature, and science. These were the only things worth caring for, and an opportunity should be given for the artizans to enjoy them. How were they to get over the difficulty of providing them? They got over it by the Communistic principle of taxing the people for the benefit of the many. It was quite evident that every working man could not possess pictures or a library. He had neither a house to put them in, or money to buy them with; but he could enjoy them to the same extent as a private individual as a member of a Corporation. Every man in London, in his corporate capacity, possessed pictures in the National Gallery as good, or better, than any private gentleman in that Assembly, or in any other. The question, then, was, were they going, by their vote that night, to shut him out from an enjoyment which every hon. Member of that House possessed every Sunday of his life? He believed, if a vote upon this question could be taken by ballot, that his hon. Friend the Member for East Cumberland (Mr. G. Howard) would carry his Motion by a considerable majority. But what stood in the way of the question was the amount of Sabbatarianism that existed in the community. That Sabbatarianism turned questions of this kind into the narrowest of issues—and issues that were not contained in the Motion of his hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) had delivered a speech against the Motion. He (Mr. Collings) knew Guildford very well, but he did not think that a Free Library or a Museum existed there. Therefore, what he would say to the hon. Member was—" First catch your hare—first get your Library and Museum, and take away from Guildford the reproach of having no such Institutions, then it will be quite time enough to speak about the opening of them." He had referred to the opposition which was made at first to the opening of the Museums and Free Libraries at Birmingham. At the present moment, after an experience of nine years, he believed that if they were to appeal to the ministers of religion—including the clergymen of the Established Church and the ministers of other denominations—they would find no very considerable number in favour of closing either the Libraries or Art Galleries. None of the fears that were at first expressed had been realized; but more than the hopes they had expressed had been found to be true, and he had had ministers coming to him within the last year or two to say, candidly—"We were wrong in our fears in regard to that movement. We see now that it was a movement in the direction of morality, and that it was for the best interests of the borough that these Libraries and Art Galleries should be thrown open." He held in his hand the titles of the books which, in the course of a year, had been read on Sunday in the Libraries. In one Library alone there had been 22,000 volumes read on Sundays in the course of a single year. The list was headed by "History, biography, and voyages." Then came "Poetry and the drama," followed by "Art and Science." He was bound to say that the lowest on the list, with one exception, was "Theology," and the exception was "Works for the blind," which stood lowest of all. He might say also that in respect of the Petitions which had been signed against the opening of the Libraries, Museums, and Art Galleries, that in Birmingham they had a Petition presented signed by 15,000 persons. He took the trouble to inquire what the nature of the Petition was, and he found that 80 per cent of the signatures were those of Sunday school children appended to the Petition at the instance of their teachers. Now, he did not like that; it took away something from his faith in the reality of the opposition. His hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) said there was no demand for the opening of Museums and Art Galleries. His contention was that there was a demand, and if there were none, then it was their business to create one. When they could get the people to make an earnest, active, and outspoken demand for art and literature they might rest assured that many of the social problems, which now gave them such great difficulty, would be solved for the future. For these reasons he desired to create a demand for the study of art and the enjoyment of literature. One thing he knew quite well, that if they opened Art Galleries the people would visit them in increasing numbers. He had stood in the Birmingham Gallery on a Sunday afternoon for hours together, and he had seen the working men, with their wives and children, looking at the pictures exhibited there, and passing their little criticisms upon them; and he knew very well that their visit would be the subject of conversation in the family circle, perhaps, every day, at every meal, during the week. He did not know anything about the trades in London; but he did know that London was a very demoralized place, generally speaking, and he dare say that they were less advanced than the trades in the country. It was absurd to say that working men would not go into Art Galleries in order to enjoy pictures they would see there. Unfortunately, the working man had no opportunity at present. He had to get up at 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning; his work during the day kept him constantly employed often until 7 or 8 at night; and what time had he for going to Art Galleries or Libraries? If he had no taste at present for the enjoyment of art and literature, the reason was that a taste for them had never been developed in him. His hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) said he wanted to keep Sunday wholly distinct from the every-day employment of the working man. What could there be more distinct than the enjoyment which the supporters of the present Motion were contemplating for them, in relieving them from the association of employments which were sometimes degrading and often enervating? He repeated that the question was not one of forcing the people into Libraries and Art Galleries, but simply of giving them the opportunity of entering such Institutions. He was quite sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House would commit a great mistake if they persisted in continually placing difficulties in the way of proposals such as that now before the House, and in overlooking the demoralizing enjoyments which existed. By so doing, he contended that they did more than anything else towards debarring the working man from making progress towards that higher life of the nation which they all ought to enjoy.


said, he was sorry to stand in the way of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Mundella); but he would not detain the House for any length of time. For his part, he thanked his hon. Friend the Member for East Cumberland (Mr. G. Howard) for having brought the question before the House; because, however the division might go, he thought the House would agree with him so far, that they had had a very interesting discussion, and a discussion which had been illustrated by the very able and eloquent speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), although a good many things had been said which were scarcely apropos of the Motion of his hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow), for instance, said that if Museums were opened on Sundays they might just as well open the opera houses and the theatres; but the hon. Member did not seem to remember that the two cases stood on quite a different footing. Operas and theatres were not supported by public money. That made all the difference; and the only reason they had any right to discuss the opening of these Museums in that House was because they were supported by the national funds; and the House of Com- mons had the disposal of the national funds. For his part, he did not think it was either wise or just that they should dispose of the national funds in the interests and according to the views of one particular sect, and not according to the interests of the whole nation. The idea that they ought to promote certain religious views in that House seemed to him to be a mistake. He thought it was John Stuart Mill who said that a very large portion of the evils that exist in this world arose from the idea that one man was responsible for another man's religion. Keeping that maxim in view, he was inclined to support the Motion of his hon. Friend. He did not see why those people who were the advocates of Sabbatarianism should overrule the rest of the nation. He admitted their sincerity, although they went to extremes. He remembered being told that one of these Sabbatarians, teaching in a Sunday school, once said to a boy—" Beware of the beginning of sin; many a man has commenced with murder, and ended with Sabbath-breaking." One reason why he was in favour of the proposition of his hon. Friend was that the proposal of his hon. Friend was, in point of fact, a permissive Bill. They talked about the impropriety of going into these places on a Sunday; nobody was forced to go. His hon. Friend only wished to give permission to those people who desired to improve themselves by going into these places. His hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) was not compelled to go. He might stop at home and read a good book, and accompany himself with a hymn if he liked. His hon. Friend was one of the strongest advocates in that House for keeping the public-houses open on Sunday, and yet he would shut up these Museums, which certainly did no harm if they did no good. It appeared to him that some persons seemed to think the established religion in this country was the worship of Bacchus. His hon. Friend the Member for East Cumberland (Mr. G. Howard) brought the Motion forward in order that the power of Bacchus might be somewhat diminished. They had heard a good deal about these public-houses. If the present system continued, and all the public-houses were kept open, then his hon. Friend's proposition was all the more desirable, because they wished to induce the people to go somewhere else. All of them desired to draw the working man away from the fascinations and temptations of the public-house. Therefore, on that ground, the proposition of his hon. Friend was right. On the other hand, if they shut up the public-houses on Sunday, and there were Bills now before the House for that purpose, the working men would have nowhere else to go, and it became still more important to open the Museums. The most able speech delivered that night against the Motion was the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst). He had been proud to hear it. He was proud to think that one who was called a working man's Representative could speak in that great Assembly with such ability. But he was not sure he could say that the speech of his hon. Friend had convinced him. His hon. Friend was very cautious in his statements. He did not give any authoritative statement of what the opinion of the great mass of the working men was. His hon. Friend knew too much for that; and he was told on good authority that the working men, through their unions, which was the authoritative mode of expressing their collective opinion, had never yet expressed an opinion, one way or the other, on this great question. There was another question on which his hon. Friend was also cautious. He said nothing about the opinions of his own constituency. At Stoke they had one of these places open. Why did he not say that the men of Stoke felt great evil from it, and desired to have it shut. His hon. Friend did not say that, and hence he presumed that he was unable to do so. His hon. Friend was eloquent, denunciatory, and declamatory; but he did not prove anything. He did not prove that working men would be a penny the worse for going to one of these places. And why should he be worse? Were they the worse? He saw plenty of rich men in that House. It was a House full of rich men. They had their picture galleries, and he dared say that they spent their time in them on Sunday afternoon. What worse were they for it? It had always seemed to him, ever since he had been able to consider the question at all, that the very meanest and most contemptible thing they did was that throughout the whole of their public life the rich men went and enjoyed these things, and yet they would not let the poor man enjoy the things which he himself had paid for. They prevented the poor man, who paid taxes for the support of these Institutions, from visiting them on the only day on which he had an opportunity of doing so. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. A. M'Arthur) talked about robbing the poor man of his Sunday. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) almost fancied that he was at a Licensed Victuallers' dinner, hearing them talk, again, about "robbing a poor man of his beer." It was the hon. Member who wanted to prevent the poor man from making a good use of the Sunday, and who drove him into the public-house. He did not think the working man had anything to thank the hon. Member for. He thought he might rather feel inclined to say, "Save me from my friends." He did not want to put that matter too high, but he said that if that Motion and the policy of his hon. Friend were carried out the very greatest blessing would be conferred upon the country. He did not mean to say that going to see stuffed specimens of natural history was the highest pitch of refined and intellectual culture that could be found in the country; but what he did say was that it was better to go to Institutions in which such things were to be seen than to go to those abominable places which the law freely opened for their admission now. His hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. A. M'Arthur) had quoted Emerson in his favour. He should not have done so, and he would not if he had known what he was about, because Emerson was a member of a Sunday Society. They had been told that the adoption of his hon. Friend's Motion would open a door to irreligion and immorality. Did the hon. Member know what had occurred in America—and America, at least, was as religious as they were—["No!"]—and that was not saying very much. The Americans were, at least, as moral and religious as they were; and he was informed that the whole of their Institutions which were paid for by the public money were kept open on Sunday for the use of the working man. [Mr. MUNDELLA: No; it varies in different States.] His right hon. Friend said the practice varied in different States. He was glad that his right hon. Friend ad- mitted so much., because he believed that his right hon. Friend was about to get up and declare that he had no sympathy with the Motion. [Mr. MUNDELLA: No!] He was wrong again, and he was informed that his right hon. Friend was in favour of the Motion. Therefore he thought he had better sit down at once, in the hope of hearing his right hon. Friend adduce much better arguments in favour of the Motion than he was able to do. He would only say, as he said in the beginning, that it was grossly unfair that the public money should not be spent in favour of the whole body of the community; and on that ground he sincerely trusted that his hon. Friend would succeed that night in carrying his Motion, and in putting things upon a better footing in future.


said, he would not have interposed at that late hour if it were not for the fact that an hon. Member who had spoken from that side of the House asserted that if they consented to the opening of Museums on Sunday they would next be called upon to open the theatres and music halls. Now, for some time past he had taken part in a Society whose object was to give concerts to the working classes. Some of them had been given on the Sunday, with the co-operation and assistance of clergymen of the Established Church. He cited the fact, in spite of the proposition put forth in the eloquent speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), in order to show that the working men of the country were really anxious to avail themselves of the opportunity of refining their mind and cultivating their taste by the enjoyment of the highest class of music. As he had said, these concerts were given on the Sunday, and they were attended in large numbers by working men, who evidently took the greatest pleasure in them. At one of them he had observed that the faces of the audience were of that patient, contemplative cast which seemed to indicate rather the student than the artizan. Mentioning the fact to a friend, he added that almost the entire audience wore spectacles. "Then that," said his friend, "shows that you do not know much of the neighbourhood, because the spectacles prove that they are principally printers and bootmakers." It, however, established two things—first, that there was a great desire for Art among the working classes, in whatever form it could be obtained; and, secondly, that if it was presented to them on the Sunday they were only too glad to have it. He thought the fact he had mentioned went far towards disposing of the argument of his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), that because the dissolute frequenters of the public-houses were not likely to find their way into the Museums, the Museums should therefore be kept closed on Sunday. Their great difficulty at present was a deficiency of information as to the real wishes and feelings of the working classes. The Motion had stood some time upon the Books of the House; but, since Easter, there had not come a single Petition upon either side of the question from his own constituency. They had the negative proof on one side of the question that in certain towns where the Town Council might open these Museums they did not do so. In a few towns they did, for the degree of taste for Art exhibited by the working classes in different towns varied considerably. In Manchester, as was well known, greater taste for Art existed than, perhaps, anywhere else in the Kingdom out of London; and there, he believed, the feeling was strongly in favour of throwing these Institutions open on Sunday. He intended to vote for the Motion; but he thought it ought to be qualified to the full extent by the Amendment placed on the Paper by the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine). He did not think the public Galleries and Museums ought to be thrown open on Sunday until 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and they ought not to be kept open to a very late hour in the evening. In giving his vote for the Motion, he wished it to be distinctly understood that he did so from no desire that Parliament should enforce the Sunday opening of Museums by legislative provisions, against the clearly expressed wish of the working classes. He recorded his vote merely as the expression of his individual opinion, formed in consequence of the personal experience he had gained while endeavouring to provide the means of gratifying the musical taste of the working classes.


Sir, I can only say, at the outset of my remarks, that one of the ablest advocates of the movement which is the basis of the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for East Cumberland—I refer to the late Dean Stanley—has said that the observance of Sunday, more than any other question of a religious character, touches the heart and conscience of the whole community, and that to many on the right hand and on the left it is as the apple of the eye in the domains of conscience. And in his address upon the Sunday Question he enlarged upon the importance of the continuance of Sunday as a day of rest. Again, Dean Stanley, who, I am sure, believed that he was not doing anything which would endanger this observance of Sunday as a day of rest, said— I presume we shall have to consider the best mode of using what, certainly, is one of the greatest institutions which this country possesses for the religious and moral elevation of the people. Sir, I am bound to say that in some of the speeches to which we have listened to-night, Sunday has not been treated as one of the religious and moral institutions of the country. On the contrary, having regard to the National sentiment on the question, some of those speeches, I think, have betrayed too much of levity, not to say ridicule. Now, Dean Stanley says also that— This is a question which must, after all, be decided by public opinion. My hon. Friend says that the Museums and Picture Galleries referred to are National Institutions, and that every partner in them has the right to go to them on Sunday. But that does not follow, because it is for the majority of the partners in these Institutions to decide whether they should be open on Sunday. Now, his hon. Friend had doubted whether he should be supported by the Scotch Members, many of whom, he said, had asked him whether he intended to open the Scotch Museums on Sundays, and his reply to them was—"If you give us your support for England, I shall not object to your taking Scotland out of the operation of the Resolution, in case Scotch opinion should be against it." But, Sir, that is admitting the whole case, because it is an acknowledgment that the question is one which must be decided by public opinion. When you have once admitted that, the next thing is to endeavour to ascertain what is the public sentiment on the question. Now, looking at the matter on both sides, there are some who maintain that the working classes of the country are in favour of this movement; on the other hand, there are those who maintain they are against it. But we have the most incontrovertible evidence as to what is the opinion of the country on this question in the fact that there are 154 Museums in the United Kingdom, the greater part of which belong to the Municipalities of our large towns, and that out of these only four are open on Sundays. It is said that this arises from want of appreciation on the part of the working classes. But I do not believe it. The town of Nottingham has done more for Art, and shown a higher appreciation of Art, than any town in England; it has obtained a special Act of Parliament that it might tax itself highly to support its Museum, and it has one of the finest and best furnished Museums in England, standing on the site of its ancient Castle. That Museum has been the cause of some contention as to whether it should be open on Sunday or not; and at the last Election the question was decisively settled by the rejection of those candidates who voted for the opening of the Museum on that day. An hon. Member behind me cries "Shame!" but I am only indicating what is the public feeling upon this question in Nottingham. I do not say whether that public feeling was rightly or wrongly expressed; but I say, inasmuch as it is the public sentiment of the town, we are bound to respect it. But, I say, further, that the question was not decided by Sabbatarians, as they are called; it was decided, as I am informed, by the Town Clerk, by the working men of the town, who were apprehensive that if they once began the system of opening Museums on Sunday, some other consequences would follow, and that by slow degrees, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) describes it, the complete day of rest, which we all enjoy, and which nobody enjoy and require more than the Members of this House, will be taken away. That fact is certainly illustrative of public opinion on this matter. With regard to what my hon. Colleague (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) has said, no doubt he has done good service in discoursing beautiful music to the working classes on Sunday; but I find that they enjoy beautiful music in other places besides concert rooms. They enjoy it in Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's, and wherever they have an opportunity of listening to it; and it is not to be supposed that those who care about this question are the only portion of the class who enjoy Art, whether musical or pictorial. Indeed, the working classes were learning to enjoy it more and more, and I say there is nothing which has done so much to promote their enjoyment of it as the Saturday half-holiday, which has been instituted in this country for that purpose. An hon. Member has pointed out in the course of this discussion that we are the only nation in the world which has the Saturday half-holiday, with the exception of America, and that opportunity is made good use of by the working classes to visit the Museums, which are in consequence crowded to suffocation. Then, in addition to this, there are the Bank holidays, for which we are so much indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), and which gives further opportunities to the working classes to visit the Museums. But what are the National Museums which my hon. Friend alludes to as among those which it is desirable to open on Sunday? He speaks of the Hampton Court Gallery. But, Sir, people go to Hampton Court to breathe the fresh air, and to enjoy the country fields. It is not for indoor, but outdoor, enjoyment; and I repeat that it is not the pictures that the working classes want, but fresh air, social enjoyment, and rest. There is nothing in the world, according to my experience, so fatiguing as visiting Picture Galleries and Museums. I am convinced that it is rest that the working man requires who has to work all the week; and I say he is fairly entitled to it on Sunday. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) suggests that the proper way to meet the demand for opening Museums and Galleries would be to open them between the hours of 6 and 10 p.m., for at least three evenings in the week; while the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine) suggests that they should be opened on Sunday evenings for four or five hours, and closed for one entire day during the week. This last proposal, I must say, would be impracticable; it would cause the greatest possible disappointment to many persons, because you have people coming to London from all parts of the world, who want to see our National Museums; and would be greatly disappointed if they had to go away without doing so. However carefully you select the day on which the Museums are to be closed, you cannot fail to cause great inconvenience to many thousands of visitors. Now, with regard to the other alternative of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), who suggests that all Museums should be open from 6 to 10 o'clock on three days of the week, I think that is a sensible and proper idea. I must not speak of the British Museum or National Gallery in the presence of the Trustees; but I think that those who saw the Royal Academy lighted up by electricity on the opening night—when each picture, with all its colours, was as distinctly visible as at mid-day—will agree that the electric light will enable us to light up our Museums with perfect safety. What is the case with South Kensington Museum? It has been open for 25 years, and during the whole of that time it has never been closed for a single day—not even for the purpose of cleaning. A careful account has been kept of the number of persons who have visited it between the hours of 10 and 6 in the daytime, and also from 6 to 10 in the evening, and this account shows that 14,000,000 of persons have visited the Museum in the daytime, and 7,000,000 in the evening, between the hours named, which latter would have been shut out if those hours had not been adopted. This shows the advantage of availing ourselves of the opportunities afforded by the electric light. I am speaking before some of the Trustees of the National Museums, and I say with these facilities there is no reason why our Museums should not be open every day of the week for 12 hours of the day. For my own part, I do not believe that the working classes of this country are in favour of opening our Museums on Sunday; and, probably, there is no better illustration of that than is afforded by the town which I myself represent. When the franchise was extended to the working classes, the number of electors in that town rose from 10,000 to 40,000. There is now a beautiful Museum in Sheffield, as well as a central Free Library; but I have never been asked by my constituents to promote Sunday opening, although they are constantly making demands to give the postmen more rest on Sunday. The fact is, their desire is to maintain Sunday as a day of perfect rest—a most enjoyable day, and the greatest blessing to all, as it is at present. In the speech which Lord Macaulay made on the Ten Hours Bill, he described, in suitable language, the advantages which England derived from the maintenance of her Sundays as a day of repose from toil. I hope the English Sunday will long retain that character; but if we are to secure that result, it can only be attained by mutual concession—each class giving up something which may be both enjoyable and innocent for the common benefit. In this way many persons abstain from using their horses and carriages on Sunday, because they recognize the desirability of making some concession to man and beast. They do not say it is undesirable to take a drive on Sunday, but they consider it desirable to minimize labour on that day. Again, we see that the 4,000,000 persons who dwell in the Metropolis are content to be deprived on Sunday of all correspondence with their friends and relatives in order that the postman might not be trudged to death. And we are not much the worse for it. I remember, when first I came to London, I was much inconvenienced by the want of letters; but my views upon that subject have changed, and I am now very thankful that no letters come to me on Sunday. I will conclude my remarks by saying that until the National sentiment has so far completely altered as to make Sunday a day of recreation and amusement rather than a day of perfect rest—speaking for myself only—I hold it to be the duty of the Government not to open our National Institutions on Sunday.


said, he could not pass from this subject without expressing, in a few words, the views of his constituents, and especially those of them who belonged to the working classes. During the last 35 years a great advance had taken place in their condition. Their thirst for knowledge had increased with the leisure which had resulted to them from wise legislation; and it was precisely those members of the working community, who had come under the influence of this elevating change, whose sentiment as to the necessity of observing the Sabbath as a day of rest was most firmly established. No one who came much into contact with them could have the smallest doubt as to what was the prevailing opinion in their minds upon this subject. It was not that they undervalued what was presented to their view in these public Institutions, but they felt that the Sabbath was not the day on which the pleasures of National Museums and Galleries should be enjoyed; they appreciated what they saw in the Museums, but they insisted none the less that the precious privilege of one complete and unbroken day of rest should not be in the slightest degree invaded.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 208; Noes 83: Majority 125.—(Div. List, No. 88.)

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.