Postponed Resolution [21st April] considered.
(3.) That a sum, not exceeding £91,685, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum
necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
, in rising to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £2,000, in respect of the Wellington Statue, said: I hope the House will allow me to make a statement which, I think, will induce the House to consider that it is not desirable to pass this Vote. It will be in the recollection of the House that on the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) there was a very near Division on this Vote of £2,000, which appears in the Estimates as a grant for the statue to the Duke of Wellington at Hyde Park Corner. That majority against the Amendment of my hon. Friend only amounted to three. On that occasion, I am sorry to say, as my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) remarked to me afterwards, there were two hon. Members who have studied apparently the new ethics of politics, and who having spoken one way voted the other, or there would have been a majority of one in favour of the Amendment. Now, what is this question? The question now before us is whether this sum of £2,000, which forms part of a sum of £6,000 to be voted next year, and part of a scheme which will involve an expenditure of £20,000—or, indeed, a great deal more—to be levied by public subscription, should be approved or not? Now, what I contend is that the statue of the illustrious Duke is public property. I maintain that it is a National monument. The public subscribed to it; it was made of metal taken in the course of the illustrious Duke's numerous campaigns, and being a National monument it should be treated as such by the House of Commons, and not by an irresponsible Committee. Now, I desire to speak in terms of the highest respect of those who are connected with that Committee, and also of my right hon. Friend opposite the First Commissioner of Works, because I honestly think that he has been a very good First Commissioner of Works. I think he has given careful attention to the subjects with which he has been charged, and I think he has carried out many great and useful Metropolitan improvements. I think it is only fair to say, without going further, that 1124 I believe he has made a great mistake in this matter. He appears to have shrunk from the responsibility which belongs to his Office, and to have sheltered himself behind certain Committees—a General and an Executive Committee—and it will be in the recollection of the House that he has sheltered himself a very great deal behind the name of an illustrious personage, who, in the course of his speech the other night, the right hon. Gentleman quoted 17 times as being a high authority. I repeat that this is a National monument, and, therefore, it ought to be treated as such by the House of Commons, and not by an irresponsible Committee. The second suggestion I take from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman himself. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that it was the original intention of the Government to replace the statue where it was before. If the right hon. Gentleman had done that, all this bungling would have been avoided, and what would have been the consequence? Why, that the statue would have been where Her Majesty gave a solemn pledge to the Duke of Wellington that it should be; where the illustrious Duke himself wished it to be; where, I venture to say, the people of this Metropolis wish it to be; and where, I am confident, if you were to poll the Army, from the Commander-in-Chief himself down to the humblest drummer-boy, they would wish it to be. They would all say—"Put it back in its place where it was before"—namely, in the vicinity of Apsley House. Let the House recollect that three consecutive Prime Ministers of England agreed that the statue should be placed upon the Arch at Hyde Park Corner. Lord Melbourne, in 1838, advised Her Majesty the Queen to carry out the decision which had been arrived at by William IV., in 1832. In 1846, Sir Robert Peel sanctioned the erection of that statue upon the Arch; and in 1847, Lord John Russell, after a debate in this House, agreed that it should remain in the place where the Sovereign had given her pledge to the great Duke that it should be. But there is another objection that I make as regards this statue, and it is this—that the Government, having said that they wished it to go back to its former position, have, unfortunately, fallen into the mistake of consulting the 1125 Academicians. Now, the members of the Royal Academy, in my mind, are not people of very good taste. In fact, I am bound to say that I look upon a great many of the members of the Royal Academy of this day as a most degenerate and a meretricious body. I have received a number of letters from distinguished artists—although I must admit that they are not themselves members of the Academy, and therefore their complaints must be received a little cum grano salis—complaining that the Art opinion of many of the Royal Academicians is not worth much. Well, Her Majesty's Goverament having proposed to replace the statue, the Royal Academy stepped in, and the Royal Academicians said—"You must remove it altogether from the Arch, and now is your opportunity." I am sorry to say that my right hon. Friend has proposed to follow the advice of the Royal Academicians, having asked their opinion as to the statue. Many of them have said that the statue is a disgrace to British Art. ["Hear, hear!"] I shall show directly, if I am allowed to do so, that it is far from that. They say that it is a disgrace to British Art, and that it offends the canons of good taste. I recollect that on a recent occasion many of the members of the Royal Academy were examined in a Court of Law, and they all said that the busts called the "Belt busts" were a disgrace to British Art. But the Judges, the jury, and the public all took a different view of the matter. I recollect perfectly well the President of the Royal Academy saying in Court, when he saw one of the busts of Mr. Belt—and I only give this as an illustration of how little the President and his colleagues are to be entrusted in matters of Art—I recollect in the course of the Belt trial the Judge asking the President of the Royal Academy—"What do you think of that bust? "pointing to one of the busts of Mr. Belt. Sir Frederick Leighton, not knowing at the time that it was by Mr. Belt, said—"That is a bust worthy of Phidias." Upon which he was informed by counsel that the bust was by Mr. Belt; whereupon Sir Frederick turned round at once and said that it was not a work of Art all, but a disgrace to British Art, and not worthy of admission into an exhibition of the Royal Academy. What I have said is a positive fact. I 1126 would not venture to state it if it were not absolutely correct; and it proves to my mind that the opinion of the members of the Royal Academy is not worthy of the slightest consideration at the hands of this House. I maintain that it is not the opinion of the Royal Academy you ought to look to in this matter; but that in a question of a National monument it is the opinion of the House of Commons that ought to be looked to, and nothing else. This very morning we have had a paper delivered to us which is called a Petition of the Royal Academy. Well, now, it is a very curious document—it is almost as bad as their Art. A more fallacious document I do not think I ever read, and I shall be prepared to prove what I say. I only wish it had been in the hands of the House at the time of the last discussion; and I am surprised that the Government have not attempted to conceal it until after the discussion to-night, because it militates very strongly against the Royal Academicians who have petitioned the Government. If the House will allow me I will refer to one or two of the statements contained in this document. The Petitioners observe that—This displacement affords an opportunity for the removal from the summit of that Arch of the colossal equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington;and they say of the members of the Royal Academy—We should he wanting in duty did we fail to give emphatic expression to the strong desire and earnest hope entertained, not only by the artistic community, hut by all those who are interested in English Art, that this reproach may at last be taken from among us.This document goes on to speak of—The dismay of the intelligent in matters of Art, the vain protest of the architect whose work was to be marred, the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to induce the Committee to reconsider its disastrous decision, their offer through Sir Robert Peel to propose to Parliament a Vote of money to meet the expenses of a fitting pedestal, and the letter of Lord Morpeth to the Duke of Rutland acquainting him of the intention.I will ask the House, in passing, to observe how untrue this statement—Of Her Majesty's Government to abide by their decision that the statue be removed.This Memorial says that it was with dismay that the intelligent people of this country saw the placing of that statue 1127 on the Arch. The assertion is wholly a gratuitous one. One of the greatest patrons of Art at that time—Lord Francis Egerton—was, among others, a subscriber to that statue.
MR. A. F. EGERTON
May I be allowed to say that my Father was very much against the statue being placed upon the Arch?
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I hope to be able to convince my hon. Friend that the statement he has just made is entirely at variance with the opinion expressed by Lord Francis Egerton at that time.
May I also be allowed to interrupt the right hon. Baronet? I am bound to say that the statement of my hon. Relative opposite is entirely correct.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I do not at all venture to dispute the correctness of the statement. I only say that, as a judge of Art, Lord Francis Egerton at the time—and it is on record in Hansard—entered a protest in the strongest terms against the suggestion that the equestrian statue which had been made should not be placed on that Arch. That is on record; it is in Hansard, and hon. Gentlemen will be able to see for themselves whether my statement is not correct. The Memorial goes on to say that Her Majesty's Government—that is, the Government of Lord John Russell—had come to a decision to move the statue. I have looked into Hansard, and I can find nothing of the kind. On the contrary, this is a statement of the views of Lord John Russell, the Prime Minister who succeeded Sir Robert Peel in 1846. It is quite true that Lord Morpeth, who was then the First Commissioner of Works, wrote a letter saying that it was the intention of the Government to move the statue; but the Prime Minister came down to the House and said that, in consequence of a communication from the Duke of Wellington, the Government had made up their minds not to insist on the removal of the statue. Lord John Russell said that in the House; and what was the letter of the Duke of Wellington? I believe I can speak here with a great deal of authority. No man was more intimate with the Duke of Wellington, during 20 or 25 years of his life, than the late Sir Robert Peel. I have often heard the matter discussed and talked of; and 1128 what was it that the Duke of Wellington mentioned to Sir Robert Peel, and wrote to Lord John Russell? He wrote a letter which must be in the collection of the noble Lord's papers. He said that, as the Sovereign had given her solemn pledge to him that the statue should be placed upon the Arch, he desired to express his opinion that the removal of the statue might be considered as a mark of the disapprobation of the Crown towards himself; and therefore it was that Lord John Russell, as Prime Minister, came down to the House, notwithstanding the letter which had been written by Lord Morpeth, and explained that in consequence of what had been said by the Duke of Wellington the Government would not persevere in the matter. It is well known—and it may be seen in Hansard—that Lord Brougham said in the House of Lords, four days after the statement of Lord John Russell in this House, that he knew his illustrious Friend would feel hurt beyond expression if the statue were to be removed. I think I have shown pretty clearly that, at all events, the statement contained in the Memorial of the Royal Academy is very incomplete as regards what is said respecting the Government of Lord John Russell in 1847—namely, that they had determined to abide by the decision to remove the statue, because Lord John Russell himself had determined that it should not be removed. This document goes on to say—Still less is it needful in these days to dwell on the violation of every principle of propriety, and every canon of proportion, displayed in the existing haphazard combination.I think I see the Lord Mayor present. [An hon. MEMBER: He has just gone.] I do not intend to refer to him, of course, as a violation of every principle of propriety and every canon of proportion; but I wish the Lord Mayor had been present, because I desired to draw his attention to that hideous monstrosity in Fleet Street as one of those erections which offend against every canon of proportion. It is a curious matter of fact that when the President of the Royal Academy in this Petition states and maintains all through the argument that there is no precedent of this kind, everybody knows who has been on the Continent that the most splendid statue in Europe is in Venice—the statue of 1129 Coleoni in the Piazza San Giovanni. That is supposed to be a finer statue than any other, and it is erected upon an edifice. [An hon. MEMBER: But not upon an arch.] I had not finished the sentence. It is erected upon a construction similar to that upon which the Duke of Wellington's statue was placed, with this exception—that the arch is not pierced. So, also, with regard to the famous tomb of the Scaligers at Verona, upon a model of which the Brunswick Memorial is placed. In that case there is a series of arches, with the equestrian statue upon the top of them.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
The right hon. Gentleman, no doubt, is a great judge of Education; but I am afraid that his acquaintance with Science and Art is not so high. I saw this statue only the other day, and I know that what I am stating is quite correct. I maintain that the Brunswick statue erected at Geneva—the statue of the Duke of Brunswick upon horseback—is an equestrian statue on the top of the model of the tomb of the Scaligers from Verona. I do not think anybody can contradict that. I will not trouble the House with many further remarks on this subject; but I must say that in bringing the matter forward I am greatly interested upon one point, and I feel sure the House will agree with me if they will give me their attention for a few moments longer. I think it is a very dangerous thing for a country to begin to remove its National monuments. I recollect, during the Commune, seeing the column of the great Napoleon toppled over in the Place Vendôme by the Commune; and only the other day we read in the newspapers that the statues of General Bessières and Prince Murat, of Bonaparte's Army, erected at Cahors, had been removed to make room for a statue of Gambetta. When people begin to remove National monuments there is no knowing how far they will go. Therefore, I protest against anything of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works made a few remarks the other day, and in the course of his observations he made one which it struck me was not very well-founded in fact. He said that it would cost £25,000 to place that statue back again on the top of the 1130 Arch. Surely the right hon. Gentleman must have greatly exaggerated the expense. The statue weighs 40 tons with the pedestal, and 20 tons without the pedestal. It is in four parts, and I venture to say it could be put back again for £1,000 or £1,500, and then melted and moulded together on the top of the Arch. [A laugh.] That is how the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do it at Aldershot. Hon. Members laugh; but that is certainly what the First Commissioner of Works proposed the other day—namely, to cart it away in four "pieces; and he said that with ease it could be erected at Aldershot. Now, I protest against a site at Aldershot. It was not known to the Duke of Wellington at all. I have heard a quotation which I wish to read in answer to the observations which have been made in regard to the character of this statue—namely, that it is a monstrosity, and that it offends against every principle of propriety and every canon of good taste. Here is a passage from an article which appeared at the time of its erection in The Times newspaper; and it is curious to see how much more this statue was appreciated then than it is now in these aesthetic days of a degenerate Academy. This is an abstract from The Times of 1846, when the statue was being erected—The general impression respecting the statue as a work of art was highly favourable, and several old companions in arms of the illustrious hero expressed opinions that it was the best likeness ever made of him.Well, I must say that after that we ought to hesitate before we break up this statue of the great Duke of Wellington. I am informed that Mr. Boehm is to have the commission for the new statue, although he is a foreigner. Who is Mr. Boehm? I confess that the name smells foreign, although it has an English ring about it. The name is written in a foreign way, and I do not know that Mr. Boehm is a man who ought to be entrusted with the making of a statue of the Duke of Wellington. I will tell the House the reason. He is at the head of a Franco-German Manufacturing Company. Now, I do not know if the French people were to be told that a National statue of the great Bonaparte were about to be made by an Englishman what the French people would say about it. But in this case 1131 the leading modeller in this German artist's studio is a Frenchman; and I do not think an artist of that nationality ought to be entrusted with a statue of the great Duke. ["Oh!"] At all events, we have two statues in London which have been made by this German sculptor—one of Lord Lawrence and another of Lord Beaconsfield. In the statue of Lord Lawrence there is a conspicuous absence of dignity, and a curious position of repose, which renders the whole quite unworthy of the man it is intended to represent; and I am quite certain that anyone who sees the statue of the great Lord Beaconsfield will admit that there is a want of character about it that is not at all in harmony with the subject. I move the rejection of this Vote, because I am. opposed to this system of removing statues which have been erected to our great men. I trust that the House will endorse the opinion which I have expressed. In making this Motion I have had no desire to give offence to any person who may have been connected with any of the arrangements of the Committees—either the General Committee or the Executive Committee—or with any of the arrangements with which my right hon. Friend has been concerned. I merely move the Motion on public grounds. I think it would be a pity to see a statue erected to the great Duke removed away from London; and I hope that the House of Commons will give its assent to the suggestion I make—namely, that this Vote should not be allowed, in order that the House of Commons, if it thinks fit, may appoint a Committee to consider the whole matter.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he rose to second the Motion; but he must, in the first place, say that he did so on different grounds from those which had been put forward by his right hon. Friend. He took it that in objecting to this Vote the House would by no means pledge itself to the opinion that the statue should be replaced upon the Arch at Hyde Park Corner. His right hon. Friend had put forward arguments in favour of the statue being maintained in the neighbourhood of Apsley House, though not necessarily replaced upon the Arch. It had been suggested to him—and he threw it out as a matter for consideration—that a new pedestal might be designed, and that the statue might be erected 1132 upon it, on the mound in the Green Park, under satisfactory conditions, in a position that would meet the requirements of the right hon. Baronet, being in the immediate neighbourhood of the residence of the Duke of "Wellington. He wished to point out to the House that by consenting to this Vote of £2,000 they committed themselves to a course which was open to very serious objection. His right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works had declined to request other sculptors to compete for a new statue; but without objecting at all to Mr. Boehm, on the ground that he was a foreigner, he did maintain, that if they were to have a new statue the best British artists ought to have an opportunity of competing for such a great National work. His right hon. Friend had said that the best English sculptors had refused to compete for the execution of the statue; but he should like to know who those artists were? Neither Mr. Birch nor Mr. Brock had declined to enter into the competition, and they were British sculptors, who had produced equestrian groups of high merit. He believed that another sculptor of distinction had prepared a model in anticipation of a competition taking place; and therefore, he said, the competition ought to be a general one among the British artists, if they were to have a new statue at all; but, at the same time, it appeared to him that it was a grave question whether there should be a new statue or not. He should vote against this item of £2,000, upon these grounds—first, because he entertained a grave doubt whether the statue of the Duke of Wellington should be removed from the vicinity of Apsley House; secondly, because it appeared to him that if they ought to have a new statue it should be decided upon after competition among the leading British sculptors; and his third ground was, that for a great country like this to refer a decision of this character to an irresponsible Committee was altogether contrary to the way in "which the arrangements of the House ought to be conducted. He, therefore, begged to second the proposition of the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel), in the hope that the whole question would be referred to a Committee of the House to determine what course should be taken in regard to it.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out "£91,685," and insert "£89,685,"—(Sir Robert Peel,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That '£91,685' stand part of the said Resolution."
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that, of course, he would not attempt at that hour of the night, or at any other time, to convulse the House with peals of laughter, such as had followed the humorous speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel); but he was in a position directly to dispute almost all the assertions which had been made on this subject by the right hon. Baronet. Like his right hon. Friend, he had no particular affection for Royal Academicians, and he had no doubt that they were no more perfect than any other body was perfect. But he was not going, at that time of the night, to ask the House to follow him into the details of the Belt trial, which had wearied the public over and over again for many months together. He was not going to ask the House whether the Royal Academicians were wise men or-not; still less was he going to tread on delicate ground as to the position taken up in regard to this matter by an illustrious Personage who was, by circumstances, prevented from entering into Party politics, but who was anxious to show his desire to do good for the country in maters in which Party politics did not appear. His right hon. Friend spoke of the statue upon the Arch having received the sanction of three different Prime Ministers, and, among others, he mentioned that it had received the sanction of his own illustrious Father. Now, had that been the case, according to his (Lord Henry Lennox's) idea of the matter, he should, for one, have dealt very delicately with the subject; but he could not look upon the matter as one to which the late Sir Robert Peel had given his sanction, because he remembered that one of the first debates he ever attended in the House of Commons took place in the year 1846, when he heard Sir Robert Peel speak upon this very subject, and, perhaps, that was his excuse for intruding himself upon the House that night. On that occasion Sir Robert Peel expressed his disapprobation of the site, and altogether disapproved of erecting it on the Arch at Hyde Park Corner, offering to provide a site in any other 1134 part of London that might be chosen. Sir Robert Peel offered a pedestal so long as it was not put on the top of the Arch. Not only that, but if any hon. Member had any doubt as to the opinion of Sir Robert Peel in regard to the statute being placed upon that Arch, he would tell the House what was the opinion of a prominent Member of his Government. This was not, as his right hon. Friend asserted, a National monument, but it was a colossal statue, placed upon an arch against the wish of the designer and architect, and all the world besides. If any hon. Member entertained a doubt as to the opinion of the Government of Sir Robert Peel, he would refer them to the words uttered by Lord Canning, a Member of Sir Robert Peel's Government, on this subject. Writing to the Duke of Rutland, in 1846, Lord Canning said the remonstrances which had reached Her Majesty's Government against placing the statue upon the Arch were so strong, so many representations had been made by the architect of the Arch and statue, and the opinions of every other artist and architect and competent authority, who had been consulted, were so decided that Her Majesty's Government felt they were called on to make a final appeal to the Committee to change the site. If that were to be considered as the sanction of the Prime Minister to the scheme, he did not know in what stronger language a disapproval could have been couched.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, the House would, perhaps, allow him to say that it was perfectly true Lord Canning did write that letter to the Duke of Rutland; but the Duke of Rutland said that the Committee declined to acquiesce in the representations contained in it, and Sir Robert Peel said that as the Committee declined to acquiesce he was not prepared to interfere in order to change the site proposed.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, he thought the right hon. Baronet had interrupted him for no purpose. He had never said that Sir Robert Peel objected to the final decision of the Sovereign and the Committee. All he had said was that Sir Robert Peel disapproved of the statue being placed upon that particular site. Sir Robert Peel allowed one of his own Colleages to quote the letter of Lord Canning; and he (Lord 1135 Henry Lennox) was present when it was quoted. He, therefore, did not consider that the site in question had the sanction and approval of one of the Prime Ministers who had been referred to. But he really did not know what this "storm in a tea-cup" was all about; because, after all that had been said and done, he did not doubt that if the statue had remained on the Arch, and there had not been any necessity for carrying out alterations, and if no pressure had been put upon his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works, it would still have remained in its old position. But the pressure in question had brought the statue of the Duke of Wellington down, and it was admitted on all hands that the statue itself was a perfect monstrosity. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK: No, no.] When he said that if it had been allowed to remain in its original position it would have been a disgrace to the Metropolis, another of his right hon. Friends, the Member for White-haven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), turned round and said "No, no." But he (Lord Henry Lennox) said "Yes, yes;" and he would repeat that there was a great concensus of opinion that the statue where it was originally placed was a monstrosity. In the course of the present debate the right hon. Baronet had asserted that the views of the general public were in favour of the statue. He (Lord Henry Lennox) had a very different opinion, because, in the very debate to which he had listened, and which he had referred to, the House were told that it was quite indecent—that was the word used—to endeavour to force upon the country a site so dead against the feeling and wishes of the public. He was not going to detain the House by any long speech on this occasion, although, after what had fallen from his right hon. Friend, there were several subjects he should have liked to refer to. His right hon. Friend said the removal of the statue of the Duke of Wellington from the Arch might be construed into a desire on the part of the Government to reflect discredit and dishonour upon the most illustrious of all our patriots. He thought that there was one great answer to that assertion—namely, that the man who inherited his name, and almost worshipped his memory, was entirely in favour of the scheme proposed by the right hon. Gen- 1136 tleman the First Commissioner of Works. If there were any possible chance that it could be construed into a slur upon the memory of that great man it could not be supposed that the son of the Duke of Wellington would have given his sanction to the scheme of the Government. More than that, could there be any slur or reproach upon this illustrious man's memory by erecting a new statue in his honour 30 years after his death? We should only have three statues of the Duke of Wellington instead of two. When the statue: to which the debate related was placed on the Arch, looking down upon the crowded thoroughfare beneath it, it certainly was a monstrosity compared with the position it would occupy under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. The new statue of the Duke of Wellington would be in proportion to all around it; whereas the old statue was out of proportion to everything that came near it. There were very few ornamental spaces in the Metropolis; and Her Majesty's Government ought not to lose this opportunity of improving the Park for the sake of a maudlin sentimentality. If there had been any question of the statue being cremated or broken down, the case would have been different. But the statue was to be preserved, and at least they would have some chance of forming a conception of its beauty and proportions. Under these circumstances, he, for one, should cordially support the Vote of Her Majesty's Government for £2,000 for the statue, and for the appointment of a Committee to lay out the plans.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
When this Vote was last before the Committee there were several alternatives suggested to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government. Almost every Member who spoke had some alternative to suggest, and, as often happened, the many alternatives combined together were nearly able to bring about a defeat of the proposal. On this occasion the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel), whoso reference to the work of my Department I most gratefully acknowledge, has made a definite proposal, and a very simple one—namely, that the statue should be replaced on the Arch from which it had been removed, and on which it was placed much against the wish of many persons of taste, among whom was the late Prince Consort, 1137 Now, I venture to think that that is a course which even if the House should reject the Vote now before it it would not adopt. I will freely and frankly admit that if the statue had remained on the Arch, and things had been unchanged, I should not have thought it worth while to make any proposal in the matter. After all, time consecrates many blunders; and I do not think I should have been justified in sweeping away the statue simply because certain defects in it had been pointed out and condemned. But the case now before us is different, because, in consequence of the improvements which we have been carrying out, and which I believe are generally recognized to be very good, the statue has had to come down in the natural course of events; and there has, consequently, been a new departure. It, therefore, appears to me that it would be almost madness to adopt the course proposed by the right hon. Baronet. Now, I am at issue with the right hon. Baronet with regard to a good deal of the historical matter to which he adverts. It is true that in 1838 Lord Melbourne obtained the consent of the Queen to the statue being placed upon the Arch; but in 1846, when it was about to be placed there, a good deal of feeling was aroused, and a debate upon the subject took place in that House, and Sir Robert Peel, who was appealed to to prevent its being so passed, said he was personally opposed to its being placed on the Arch;" and by way of alternative he offered there and then to take a Vote for providing a pedestal for it. Well, Sir, when the Committee refused that offer, Sir Robert Peel said that as Lord Melbourne had obtained the consent of the Queen to the site, he would not alter it. In the following year the statue was placed on the Arch, and no sooner was it done than there arose a chorus of condemnation with regard to it. There was a debate in that House, and the feeling there expressed was unanimous against it. The Government, represented by Lord Morpeth, Chief Commissioner of Works, announced that it was intended that the statue should be brought down. Amongst the first persons who objected to the statue remaining on the Arch was the Prince Consort, and by his advice the Queen ordered its removal. This was stated in this House by Lord Morpeth, who added that it was actually in course 1138 of being removed. The Duke of Wellington was then communicated with, and he told the Prince Consort that although he had never wished the statue to be placed on the Arch, yet, as it had been placed there, it was desirable that it should remain. The House of Commons, the Government, indeed, everybody, wanted the statue to come down; and I need hardly remind the House that for months afterwards it was the subject of numerous caricatures; it was said in Prance that Waterloo was at last avenged; and Mr. Decimus Burton was so seriously annoyed with the statue being placed on the Arch that I believe he was for many years prepared to give £2,000 to anyone who would cause it to be removed. The statue, nevertheless, remained on the Arch. But chance at last has offered an opportunity of bringing it down from its eminence; it has been taken down, and the question is as to whether it shall be replaced? I do not think the House will agree to its replacement; and, for my part, I respectfully decline to present a Vote to Parliament for that purpose. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the proposal of the Prince of Wales. I should be sorry if the Committee, or anyone else, thought for one moment that I have endeavoured to shelter myself behind the name of His Royal Highness. So far from that being the case, I have stated, over and over again, that I am responsible in this matter; and if I have named His Royal Highness it has been for the purpose of praising the public spirit with which he has come forward in this matter. Now, it appears to me that the proposal which His Royal Highness offers is, on the whole, the best solution of this question. But another alternative has been suggested, of placing the statue on a pedestal and allowing it to remain where it is, with regard to which I will say that the difficulty in the way of that course being taken is, that the statue is of such colossal size that it would completely over-top every other object in the space adjacent; and, therefore, I repeat that, in my opinion, the proposal of the Prince of Wales offers the best and most reasonable solution of the difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the appointment of Mr. Boehm. That gentleman has resided in this country for 30 years; he is a sculptor of eminence; he is natu- 1139 ralized here, and is a member of the ! Royal Academy; and therefore I think that, to all intents and purposes, he may be called an Englishman. It is not the first time in the history of Art in this country that an English sculptor of eminence has had a foreign name. Again, Mr. Boehm, I believe, is almost the only sculptor of the day who has executed equestrian works, one of which—the statue of the Duke of Westminster—I think, is amongst the finest of its kind in the country. After all, equestrian statues are rare; and therefore, it seems to me wise to commit a task of that kind to a sculptor who is renowned for his works in that branch of Art. My hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) has adverted to the question of competition; and with reference to that, I must again repeat that the original intention of having competition in this matter was abandoned for two reasons. In the first place, because I ascertained that three leading sculptors of the day refused to compete—I am not at liberty to mention their names, but it is a fact those gentlemen informed me they would not take part in a competition. But the second reason is that, the present Duke of Wellington is utterly opposed to the course, his own opinion being that it is impossible to get a good work of Art by competition, and he has said that, with such a condition, he would not have consented to take any part in the work. I say, then, it was desirable to get the cordial assent of the present Duke of Wellington to all the proceedings; and I am happy to state that all that is proposed to be done has met with his hearty approval. A letter which I received yesterday from the Duke contains these words with reference to that purpose—"I feel that full respect is paid to the memory of my Father." And I may add that this is one of a series of letters which I have received from his Grace on this subject. Under these circumstances, I venture to hope that the House will assent to the Vote, otherwise they must abandon all hope of decorating the place; and I trust, also, that this proposal will be accepted by the House as affording the best compromise of a very difficult and delicate question.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, the Government were asking for £2,000 as the first instalment of the sum of £6,000 for the 1140 decoration of the West End of London at the expense of the taxpayers of the Kingdom; and upon that point, totally irrespective of the question as to whether the statue should be put up again or be placed on another site, he should, if no one else did, take the sense of the House. He was sure no one in the country wanted to detract from the honour which the nation paid to the Duke of Wellington, or forget its obligations to him; but he thought that the State had amply repaid that obligation. The statue of the Duke had been spoken of as a National monument; but the description was incorrect, because it was a monument raised by private subscription. The National monument was erected in St. Paul's Cathedral, at the Duke's death; and the nation likewise perpetuated his memory by that admirable Institution which bore his name. Rightly or wrongly, the Chief Commissioner of Works had seen fit to remove this monument; and the House was now asked to vote out of the Public Exchequer a large sum of money in connection with the site. His right hon. Friend the Chief Commissioner of Works used a word which really disclosed the whole matter. He said the money was wanted for the ''decoration of this place"—namely, the wealthiest part of the wealthiest City of the world. If hon. Members went throughout the length and breadth of London, they would not find any place where property, freehold and leasehold, was of more value than in that part of the Metropolis. Notwithstanding that, and within a week of the presentation of the Budget, in which it was stated that the condition of their finance was such that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was compelled to recede from the pledges given to the people at large with respect to cheap telegrams, the House was asked for a Vote at the expense of the whole community for the decoration of London. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in one of his Mid Lothian speeches, alluded to the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, he regretted to observe, had, together with the other Members of the late Government, left the House, in connection with a Vote of £2,000. The right hon. Gentleman said—"The Chancellor of the Exchequer who will not save £2,000 is not worth his salt." Now, here was a Vote for precisely that 1141 amount, as an instalment of £6,000, which the House might rest assured would not be the whole of the money required. The public would be again called upon in order to make up the deficiency. Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, and other large cities and towns in the Kingdom, had their decorations and their statues of great men; but they never asked Parliament for any public money for the purpose. As a Representative of the taxpayers of the Kingdom outside London, he protested against their being taxed for the decoration of the Metropolis; and he trusted that all Liberal Members in the House would sympathize with him in his endeavour to put a stop to the mendicancy which London was never tired of resorting to for the purpose of getting itself decorated and maintained at the expense of the rest of the community.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he should not have addressed himself to this subject but for the observations of his hon. Friend (Mr. H. H. Fowler). The charm of Art lay in its being eclectic. He had, when this Vote was last before the House, shown his eclecticism by voting against the Motion of the Chief Commissioner of Works. He should on this occasion, however, support the Resolution, because he was always open to conviction, and because he thought common sense was better than consistency. Let the House get out of their heads the names of all those grand people who had been referred to in the course of the discussion, and make use of their own judgment. They had been told to look to the Royal Academicians, and to William IV., as great arbiters of taste; but he never troubled himself about either the one or the other; in the present case he looked simply at the facts as they stood before the House. They had this place in the central part of London. That was one fact; and another was that on that place there stood this monstrous horse, than which there had been no greater curse to any city since the horse of Troy. What was to be done with it? "Melt it, "said some hon. Gentlemen; but would there be a majority in favour of that? ["No, no !"] For his own part, he would like to surround it with trees, paint it green, and try to forget it. But the fact remained; there was the horse, 1142 and the country must deal with it. The alternatives were to remove it; to put it upon a pedestal, and to replace it on the Arch. They were not in favour of putting it in the place again; they were not in favour of spending a large amount of money on it; nor were they going to leave it where it was. He thought the Chief Commissioner of Works had made a very reasonable bargain. He had no prejudice in this matter, which was simply a question of figures, and at those figures he desired to look. The Chief Commissioner of Works said that £15,000 or £20,000 would be subscribed by the public for the decoration of the place. ["No!"] Well, say £10,000. Therefore, in consideration of the expenditure of £10,000 on this central part of London, which, might, indeed, be regarded as the central place of the British Empire, the right hon. Gentleman asked the House to give £6,000 of public money. The House might be certain the place would not be allowed to remain as it was; it would have to be decorated; and, that being so, it seemed to him that the Chief Commissioner had made a reasonable and good bargain for them. The only reason against it which operated with him was that given by his hon. Friend (Mr. H. H. Fowler)—namely, that London ought to defray the whole cost of decorating the place. As Londoners, they had been perfectly free to wander about there, and look at the Duke of Wellington on his Arch; but it must be remembered that they had never been consulted about the alterations at Hyde Park Corner. They were the work of the Chief Commissioner of Works, who was responsible for them to the House of Commons; and, that being so, he hoped they would not "Spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar."
§ MR. W. LOWTHER
said, he was very unwilling to trespass upon the time of the House; but he wished just to say a couple of words. He was aware that sentiment was more difficult to combat than many other things; but there were a great many facts in connection with this matter which they not to forget. They should remember that this equestrian statue was erected in honour of that very great man, the Duke of Wellington; and then they must bear in mind that it was put up in front of his 1143 Grace's house—a most unusual honour to pay to a man during his lifetime. They must not forget that the Duke of Wellington—one of the greatest men that England had ever seen—had looked upon this statue, and had approved of it and of its position. They were grateful—not only they, but the whole of England, nay, the whole of Europe, were grateful—to the Duke of Wellington for what he had done for them. The whole world was thankful. ["Divide!"] One moment more, and he had done. He very seldom, indeed, troubled them with any observations; and he did not think anyone had any right to complain of his obstructing the course of Business. He wished merely to say that though he did not advocate the replacing of the statue on the Arch, he still thought that the Memorial, whatever form it took, should be erected in front of Apsley House. In removing it from that position they would be laying themselves open to the accusation of wishing to shake off the hand of the dead man altogether.
§ SIR JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG
said, that, having been a Member of the Committee on this question, he felt bound to say a word or two. The Committee had given the greatest possible attention to the consideration of the matter. All proposals were examined with care and fairness, and everything was done by the First Commissioner of Works to enable them to come to a right conclusion. The present proposal had been looked into both by the Committee and a Sub-Committee. He was not going to say how many were in favour of the plan, and how many were against it; but this he might state—that it had the approval of a large majority. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had referred to London as mendicant; but he (Sir James M'Garel-Hogg) could inform the hon. Gentleman that for this improvement at Hyde Park Corner, London had put her hand into her pocket to the extent of £20,000. Did she, then, deserve the phrase "mendicant?'' Had she not paid her full, and more than her full, share for the improvement? To his mind, the improvement was an excellent one, and the sum the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works asked the House to give was a very mild and moderate amount.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 219; Noes 108: Majority 111.—(Div. List, No. 80.)
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he wished to move the reduction of Vote 3, in Class I., of the Civil Service Estimates by £6,525, on account of Kensington Gardens. He did not wish to discuss the matter at any length; but the point to which he desired to draw attention was this—namely, the increased mortality amongst the trees in Kensington Gardens. A few years ago these trees were in a most flourishing condition, and in the hottest days in the year extended a grateful shade to all; but all that had passed away now. Year by year the trees were dying, and it seemed very probable that before long there would be few left. It could not be said that the atmosphere of London killed them, for in the very heart of the Metropolis, in the squares and small open spaces, there were many very healthy trees. What, then, was the cause of the great mortality in Kensington Gardens? He had put Questions to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works on this subject on previous occasions, and had got he did not know what sort of answers, but, certainly, not a satisfactory one. He passed through Kensington Gardens almost every day, but failed to notice that the First Commissioner of Works was making any efforts, or even experiments, with a view to putting a stop to the increased mortality. He failed to observe that anything at all was being done to save the trees. He felt assured that if these trees were on a private estate, their owner would not sit still, with his arms folded, whilst they died and fell. He would call in the services of the tree doctor; he would appeal to men of science; dig about the roots, make experiments, and take every means to discover, if possible, what was the matter with the trees. He expressed a very earnest hope that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had taken this subject to heart, and did not mean to stand by and do nothing; but that he would do something towards discovering a remedy for the condition of things which existed. For hiss own part, he had had considerable experience of trees. He did not profess to be a tree doctor, but he knew something about them; and he 1145 had formed a theory of his own with, regard to what it was that ailed them, and he believed—and this theory was supported by very good authority—that it arose through spreading over the roots of the trees the clay from the great number of new houses that had been built in the neighbourhood. His opinion was that the mortality among the trees was caused in that way. Covering the roots and shutting out the air often had this effect; and he noticed particularly that the few trees still flourishing were those not so treated. He, therefore, hoped that the great Officer of the Government who was in charge of this matter would see if he could not do something to discover the source of the evil, and, if possible, to try and remove it.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he was afraid that he must admit that these trees were in a very deplorable state; and he was afraid it must also be admitted that a very great portion of them would at an early date be destroyed. He did not know of any remedy for the existing state of things. The trees would, no doubt, in the course of time, die, and it was impossible to arrest their decay; but so long as any of them showed symptoms of life he should be unwilling to remove them. He did not like to make a clean sweep of these trees. He believed that the cause of the calamity was that the trees had reached a sub-soil of some bad character; but he did not believe that it was due to the cause mentioned by the hon. Gentleman—namely, a certain multiplication of the drains through house building. No doubt, the result was a very unfortunate state of things.
§ Resolution agreed to.