§ *(10.1.) MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
In the Motion which I have placed on the Paper the House will renew its acquaintance with an old friend. I have, however, varied the terms adopted in former Resolutions of the kind. I ask the House to say it is expedient to open those national museums and galleries that are now shut in London on Sunday for certain hours and under special regulations. By "certain hours" I mean on Sunday afternoon from 1 to 6, and by "special regulations" I mean that no man shall be obliged to work more than six days a week. Sir J. Walmesley and Mr. Peter Taylor often introduced Motions on this subject over a long period of years. They laid the foundations of the work of religious emancipation, I am going to ask this House to complete to-night. In 1863 this He use refused, to pass though Lord Palmerston, who was then Prime Minister, supported, a Motion to open on Sundays the Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh. Only two years ago the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) opened those gardens on Sunday amid general applause, and in answer to a question I put to him he said that conspicuous success had attended his action. The murmur of intolerance that proceeded from a small section has died away, and 1597 I am happy to say that the churches of Scotland still flourish exceedingly. The hon. Member opposite (Sir R. Fowler), who has set down an Amendment that he will be unable to move, has every year been in the habit of voting sums of money on the Estimates in order to keep open on Sunday the National Collection in Dublin, Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, and Greenwich Hospital. Greenwich Hospital is just as much in the County of London as Bethnal Green Museum. If the people of Bethnal Green take a ticket to Greenwich on Sunday they can visit the Hospital there, and yet you shut the doors of their own Museum in their faces. That Museum was built and opened in the midst of a crowded and industrial population in order to relieve the monotony of their lives and to give them opportunity of enjoyment and education. The late Sir R. Wallace, who lent his splendid collection to inaugurate that Museum, wished it to be opened on Sundays just as on other days of the week, but his request was refused. Since that time the Rector of Bethnal Green, and every man of influence in the place, have been of one mind on the subject, and only to-day I presented a Petition from 86,000 people ill the neighbourhood of Bethnal Green asking for admission to the museum on Sundays. The late Mr. W. E. Forster said—If the people who wanted to go to the museums and picture galleries liked to take a railway ticket to Hampton Court they found they were at liberty to look at the pictures there, but they could not look at the pictures close by their own doors—it might be at Bethnal Green.To the vast majority of the people Sunday is the only day when they have an opportunity of visiting these collections. South Kensington is closed in the same way as Bethnal Green, and actually the Raphael cartoons were to be seen by the public at Hampton Court Palace on Sundays until a very recent date; but when they were moved back to South Kensington, it became impossible to get a glance at them. The South Kensington Museum contains another collection called the Sheepshanks Collection. The gentleman who made that splendid donation to the country believed it might be seen, and wished it to be seen, on Sunday, but no notice was taken of his wish on the subject. In the old Debates 1598 which took place from time to time in this House on the subject, it was the custom always to throw the fathers and theologians from one side to the other. In those days hon. Gentlemen quoted Luther and Paley to show that Sunday ought not to be observed for mere observance's sake. Happily, to-day we can base our contention on more solid grounds. Evening opening used always to be proposed as an alternative, but there was little evidence to be produced on one side or the other. Now we have proved results respecting both Sunday opening and evening opening in nearly every big town in England, and in the Metropolis itself. Last year the Financial Secretary (Mr. Jackson) did, I believe, provide for the evening opening of the British Museum. In answer to a question I put to him the other night he gave the results. He said—From February, 1890, to December, 1890, there was an almost unbroken decline from an average per evening of 635 to an average of 90. The average for January and February this year has been 120 and 160 respectively.Earlier in the year the right hon. Gentleman informed the House that it was not the intention of the Government to devote any more money to the purpose. The officials say it is impossible to open the National Gallery in the evening because of the difference made by artificial light. They say, also, that evening opening simply converts the museums into middle-class lounges, that you do not get the working class to go there in the evening, and cannot get them to go. A working man after a hard day's labour does not feel inclined to trudge all over London to spend the evening in a museum. He is like some of us who, of an evening, like to present ourselves more or less garnished before those with whom we associate. They are like the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Fowler), who would always prefer to change his dress before presenting himself at a civic banquet. They do not like, when taking recreation, to show themselves in their working clothes, and that is the reason they do not attend the museum of an evening. In 1872, when this question was debated, Colonel Marcus Beresford—a Metropolitan Member—told the House that if museums were opened on Sundays there would be a repetition of the French Commune, 1599 while a quarter of a century before other hon. Gentlemen said that Sunday opening would involve an English edition of the Reign of Terror. It was the custom then to draw distorted pictures of the Continental Sunday, and to represent it as one long debauch of drink and atheism. I had hoped that this sort of talk had died, out, but I have received a memorandum from those representing the opponents of the Motion in which it is gravely stated that crime in Continental cities springs directly from the opening of museums on Sundays. They say—Paris, Berlin, Vienna. Florence, and many other cities of the Continent, capitals of varying nationalities, and representing both the Roman Catholic and Protestant religions, have had museums open and the provision of State-supplied and other recreations for many years, with the result of almost unbroken toil for immense numbers of working men, and with a state of morality so much darker than that of London, that infanticide, illegitimacy, suicide, and murder attain a far higher proportion in relation to population in ell those cities than in this Metropolis.What a ludicrous misunderstanding of cause and effect! Why, the crime of Continental Cities has no more to do with the opening of museums than the charges at Westminster Police Court have to do with the presence of strangers in this House, or the Whitechapel murders have to do with the present representation of the Metropolis in Parliament. The facts are due entirely to other conditions, and I am bound to say I hardly feel inclined to occupy the time of the House by attacking the antiquated bogey of the Continental Sunday. In nearly all the great towns of England—in about 20—the museums, galleries, or libraries are opened on Sunday, Liverpool being the sole notable exception, and the statistics show that the opening has been a complete success. The list includes Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, and Halifax. From Manchester the Report for 1890 shows that the total number of visitors to the libraries and reading-rooms on Sunday was 248,840, or an average of 5,585 each Sunday. On the last of the free Sundays 9,179 persons visited the City Art Gallery, and on the four there was a total of 19,459. In Birmingham Sunday opening has been adopted since 1864, when the Sunday attendances at the Aston Hall 1600 Museum was 50,000; last year it was 139,500; at the Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum the average Sunday attendance was, in 1889, 23,100, and at the Reference Library the issues amounted to 23,728. At Sheffield the Report says—There can be no doubt that the Sunday opening is greatly appreciated, and it is a very striking fact that the number of visitors in three hours on Sunday is more than double the average on a week day, when the Museum and Art Gallery are open nine and a half hours per day.There is no one in the great towns who has done better service in the cause than Mr. Whitworth Wallis, Curator of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and he says—At Birmingham the Sunday opening of the Art Gallery has become quite a recognised institution—even the severest Sabbatarians in our midst no longer think it worth while offering the mildest protest against the plan. They philosophically bow to the logically inevitable—thousands visit the Gallery on Sunday afternoons; they are orderly in their manners, and appreciative in their remarks; no damage has ever been done, and little trouble is given to the staff.There is a curious fact about the Birmingham Art Gallery. Objection was made to employing Christians in a museum on the Sunday, and the difficulty was overcome by the employment of Jews. That reminds me of a cynical remark attributed to Mr. Spurgeon. When asked how he came to oppose Sunday opening on the ground that it involved Sunday labour, when he himself worked his horse on that day, Mr. Spurgeon replied, "Oh yes; but my horse is a Jew." In most of the medium-sized towns the step which I advocate has been taken. In Leicester, for instance, the art gallery was opened only this year, and the success has far surpassed the expectations of even its most sanguine promoters. On January 15th, between the hours of 2 and 5 o'clock, over 3,000 working men and their wives visited the Gallery; and it is rather a curious think that the Member for Leicester is opposing Sunday opening in London when in the town he represents that step has been attended with conspicuous success. In our movement, happily, there are no steps backward. Those who have signed this memorandum are not very correct. They say:— 1601The Galleries at Worcester, Chester, Maidstone, Wolverhampton, and Stoke-on-Trent, opened on Sunday in recent years, have all been closed, an evidence of inutility or of evils attending them on that day.I have had time to test this statement, in one case, and I find that it is absolutely untrue. I have a letter here from Mr. Quick, Secretary to the Municipal Art Gallery and Museum, Wolverhampton, and he says:—In answer to your letter of the 13th inst., the opening of the above on Sunday afternoons has proved a success. It was first tried as an experiment in June, 1888. The total attendance for the 21 occasions during which the building was opened was 8,512, or an average of 405 per Sunday afternoon from 2 to 5. Last year the Gallery was open 51 Sundays (from 2 to 5) with an attendance of 16,372, showing an average of 321. The daily average attendance being 346 (open from 10 to 4; 5, 6, 7, and 8, according to the season). The Gallery is now open every Sunday afternoon. Winter months, 2 to 4, October to March; Summer months, 2 to 5.So much for the statement of the gentlemen who have issued this memorandum. The "only instance I have been able to find of a Local Authority retracing its steps after once adopting the principle for which I am pleading is that of West Bromwich where the public bath was closed for a season because one councillor—Considered that Sunday bathing interfered with the sanctity of the Sabbath and was exceedingly improper and unwise.I do not know whether the hon. Baronet would go so far as to say that washing on the Sabbath is a violation of the sanctity of that day. There are 18 free public libraries in London, which are subject to a popular vote, and 12 out of the 18 are now opened on Sunday, the last being that of Clerkenwell. At Chelsea the number of people visiting the Public Library in 1890 was 19,944, whereas in 1889 the number was 14,390. I attended a meeting in Chelsea on the subject quite lately, and the rector moved the first resolution in favour of Sunday opening. An attempt has been made to get up an agitation against the liberal policy of the trustees in opening the People's Palace on the Sunday, but it has ignominiously failed, and the Palace is kept open. An author with whose writings we are all familiar, and who has done so much for the people in this matter, Mr. Walter Besant, says— 1602There is no more beautiful, no more religious sight in London than that of the 2,000 earnest man and women who gather together on the! Sunday morning, between Church and dinner, if they have gone to Church to hear the Organ Recital. There is nothing which more vexes the soul of the publican than to think of these men kept away from his drinking bar by sweet and holy music. Yes! There is one sight more beautiful still. It is the sight of the 2,000 people who throng the library on Sunday evening. They are quiet; they enjoy warmth and light; they are in the best of company; they are filling their minds with noble thoughts. Instead of this, those who do not blush to sign a document against Sunday opening in the name of what they call religion, would send them out—what to do? To tramp the streets, to find in crowded bars shelter from rain and cold, to swell the ranks of the fallen, and to subject the young men to temptation. In the sacred name of Religion! Is it possible?These are the words of a man who speaks from experience of London, and who knows what he is talking about. Then, there is no clergyman who has done more for the working classes of the East End than the Rev. S. A. Barnett, Vicar of St. Jude's, Whitechapel. He says—We have opened a picture gallery every Easter on Sundays; we have now a Free Library which is always open on that day. My experience is that those who come on Sundays come with a more serious intention; they wear their best clothes and they have more leisure. As a consequence, they look at pictures to learn, and they take up books to study. There has never been any difficulty about order, and the number of people who use the place, is much greater than on other days.I believe that in the whole of London there is only one Art Gallery which is open all the year round, and that is the London Art Gallery. Mr. Rossiter who for many years managed that says—Our attendance on Sundays has always been very much greater than on any other day, often as large as the other days of the week put together.The National Sunday League has been the means of securing to the working classes admission to many of the best private collections. The Duke of Westminster has been kind enough to open Grosvenor House on Sunday afternoons to the League, and last year there were no fewer than 10,000 applicants for admission. On one day 5,000 were taken through in four hours, and the Staff employed to keep them in order consisted of four persons, 1603 while only two are found necessary to keep watch and ward over the rooms of the Royal Society of British Artists, which 2,500 visitors passed through. The Trustees and officers of our Museums and Picture Galleries are on our side. My right hon. Friend (Sir J. Lubbock) will speak for the British Museum, and the majority of the Trustees are anxious to throw it open on the Sunday. The Trustees of the South Kensington Museum take exactly the same view. But it is not only the Trustees, the officers are ready to do the work for nothing, because they have their heart in it. Only a few nights ago two officers of the South Kensington Museum assured me that the whole of their Staff were most anxious to have the Museum opened on the Sunday, and would volunteer to attend. Professor Flower speaking for the Natural History Museum says—I am glad to say that the majority of the Trustees are in favour of opening it on Sunday afternoons, and three-fourths, at least, of the Staff are also in favour of such opening. Many of them are so enthusiastic as to say that they are willing to come and take their turn at attending, even without remuneration. I do not think we should act on that principle, but even if we did, the work would be extremely light. But these men would not be expected to sweep and clean, to stuff birds, to arrange tablets, or write labels, or do any of the real work we expect of them on week days; they would only have to walk the Museum; walk or stand about there a few hours, and then walk back again. Probably if they were not doing this, they would be taking a walk somewhere else, so that they would not be working any harder than usual. And out of our whole Staff only a few need come, so that the turn would only fall upon each man perhaps once in every six or eight Sundays, and we should never ask anyone to come if he had any conscientious objections to do so. We have calculated that the cost of opening every Sunday in the year would probably amount to something under £300 a year, a trifle compared with the cost of the whole Museum, and even as compared with what the evening opening would come to. I therefore, think that Sunday opening would be, on the whole, a greater advantage even than the evening opening, because instead of being tired with their day's work, people would be in a fitter frame of mind and body to look at the beautiful instructing and elevating objects to be seen in a place like the Natural History Museum.I cannot help thinking that much of the outcry against Sunday labour is but a pretence, and the cloak of prejudice. Hon. Gentlemen who raised it know very well that they enjoy very good 1604 dinners on Sunday, which are cooked by Sunday labour, and that they look upon the Monday edition of their morning paper as a necessity of their daily life. Knowing something about the domestic economy of a newspaper office, I may tell the House that there is far more Sunday labour required to produce Monday's paper than would be required if all the national collections in London were open on Sunday. There is even Sunday labour required in every church and chapel that is open for religious service. I do not say that that labour is not well spent, but every one knows that it is employed, and yet our opponents say that no one should work more than six days a week. If necessary I can produce volunteers who on Sundays throughout the whole year will do the work of the regular enstodians of these institutions and museums and art galleries. One of the vice-presidents of the National Sunday League has offered a large sum of money in order that the experiment may be tried throughout the year. Of course, whatever you do in this matter you will be accused of introducing the thin end of the wedge of Sunday desecration. It is said that the opening of factories and workshops will be the result of opening museums on Sundays. In Manchester and Birmingham the museums have been open for twenty years, and where is the factory or the workshop found going on a Sunday. It is quite true that in France there is a certain amount of Sunday labour, but I am happy to think that it is diminishing year by year, and no doubt a very excellent result will be experienced from the Berlin Conference. M. Yves Guyot, the French Minister of Public Works, in writing the other day, said—The desire for rest from ordinary work on Sunday is increasing in France, but there is not a single Frenchman, so far as I know, who desires to close the museums and galleries on Sunday.We are all in favour of shorter hours of labour. Some think that object can only be obtained by legislation, others by voluntary effort. But if the working classes are to have shorter hours, what we ought to do is to teach them how to use their leisure properly, and to the best advantage. It is said that Sunday opening will lead to Sunday drinking. Will the hon. Baronet answer me whether 1605 that is the case in Dublin. Sunday closing, one distinguished author says, is a result of the infamous alliance between the puritan and the publican. There can be no question that on a wet and foggy Sunday in London a man or woman, if without the warmth of a good home, has to shiver at the street corner, or seek the shelter of the public house. There is another alternative, and it is that which has been afforded to working men in Dublin and various large towns in the United Kingdom. It is the Metropolis which, by some inconsistency I cannot understand, is discarded. The last argument is, that this movement would lead to the opening of theatres. I will read what is said by the most eminent of English actors—my friend Mr. Henry Irving—I fear that want of due consideration of this mechanical aspect leads some persons to believe—and many more to pretend, for other purposes, that they believe—that if museums and picture galleries were to be opened on Sunday, the next step would be to open the theatres. If anyone is so foolish as to believe or to argue any such point, you can easily show that there is no analogy whatever between theatres and museums, &c. A theatre is a workshop on a large scale—why, in the Lyceum we employ daily some hundreds of people, varying between 300 and 500 with the play. These people are all workers, and six days work is quite enough for them, as it is for anyone. It is not possible to vary the workers, except, perhaps, here and there, in the merest labouring department. The same work, to be properly done, must be done by the same people, and it could not be practically possible to employ fresh hands. Besides, the actors themselves would be the first to resent any encroachment on their day of rest—in fact, six performances a week are quite enough for all, and where excessive work is attempted, there is very often a lamentable result. For many reasons there is no fear of any system of opening theatres on Sundays creeping in or obtaining a footing here. In Western America, where it is sometimes practised, it is rapidly coming to an end. If I had any power with those in high places, I would say: 'For God's sake, let a little life and a little light into the dead and dark places of our cities, and give our toilers a chance of learning and enjoying something beyond and above the sordid routine of their lives.'Mr. Bancroft writes similarly—I am thoroughly in favour of the opening of picture galleries and museums on Sundays, that those whose work allows them no other chance, may see their treasures; but it is altogether a different case, in my humble opinion, with regard to theatres, and I do not 1606 think I know a single English actor who would like to see them open on Sundays.Only this evening Mr. H. A. Jones, the playwright, wrote that it is an impossibility. The clergy are taking a very different view about Sunday opening from what they did formerly. They see that men cannot be taken by the scruff of the neck and pitched into church or chapel, and rather than see them in the public house they would see them in the museums and art galleries. The Bishop of Chester is prominent among those who have lately spoken—But the Lord's Day, in its proper nature, is a day of holy mirth and refreshment, of gladsome worship and honest enjoyment, of family reunion and sober hospitality. The day of rest and refreshment, as well as of worship and religious instruction, has for multitudes become a day of sluggish and wearisome inactivity, and those 'filthy tippling",' which the famous Book of Sports anticipated as one of the results of Sabbatarianism, have become scandalously and perniciously common. At the root of sound practice there must always be sound theory. Let us frankly recognise and utilise whatever germs of right there are in the present movement.Not only the Bishop of Chester, but the Archbishop of York, too, has spoken in a very liberal way. Throughout the Metropolis, the best and most enlightened of the clergy—the Vicar of Bethnal Green, the Vicar of Chelsea, and others, known for their devotion to the ministry of the Church—are in favour of the movement. It is a libel on religion to say that places of worship would suffer by the opening of the museums and art galleries on Sunday. I would observe that the hon. Baronet, if he pushed his argument to a logical conclusion, would adopt the Scotch idea of Sabbatarianism, which formerly prevented any form of recreation on Sunday—In 1647 punishment was ordered, according to the Minutes of the Fife Synod, of 'whoever was guilty of sitting or walking idle upon the streets or fieldes on Sunday.' In 1742, according to an old book, 'sitting idle at their doors was profane.'Buckle says—It was a sin to visit your friends on Sunday; it was sinful either to have your garden watered or your beard shaved. No one, on Sunday, should pay attention to his health or think of his body at all.Better it would seem that a man should 1607 steal on Saturday than that he should smile on Sunday. I heard of a curious case not very long ago. An English traveller in Scotland on the Sunday morning sat at the "window of his lodging smoking his pipe. A policeman, after passing several times, was so struck by what to him was the gross indecency of smoking on the Sabbath that he said, "Man, I'm sorry that a' canna' lock ye up." But that is consistent, and topical Sabbatarianism. I cannot appreciate that unequal and partial Sabbatarianism which closes the museums and libraries and opens the public houses. I cannot even give credit for honesty of purpose to those who open Hampton Court and close the gallery at Bethnal Green. It seems to me on a par with the selfishness of congregations in the North and West of England, who, with the museums and galleries open in their own large towns, are unwilling to allow to others the advantages which they themselves are incapable of enjoying. It is time that London should think and speak for itself. We claim the right of local option, and nobody can deny that London has spoken out its mind. The London County Council has voted almost unanimously in favour of Sunday opening, and has petitioned the House accordingly. The London Trades Council are unanimous to a man. A canvass of the trades shows a majority of two to one in the same sense. The stonemasons, to whom my hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham belongs, decided by an immense majority in favour of Sunday opening. Nearly every one of the free libraries is open on Sunday. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord what further evidence he requires as to London opinion? I do not see why we need to be protected from ourselves, "our blood be on our own head." If London is to be made the hot-bed of vice and crime, to be demoralised by Sunday opening, we are quite willing to take the responsibility. Life in London is sufficiently mean and monotonous—not in the West-end, of Church parade and Show Sundays, but in Bethnal Green and Whitechapel; and I think it would be a very great thing if this House could, by a small exercise of its power, do something to brighten the homes and 1608 refine the tastes of working men by lifting their minds to higher and nobler things than the sordid realities of their everyday experience. I do not know why this House should teach the working men that the Sunday is to be one interminable round of intolerable dulness. Charles Dickens wrote a very eloquent preface to one of his books, in which the refrain of the story was that in London on Sunday a man had nothing to turn to but "streets, streets, streets." The Parks are open on Sundays, but what are they but playgrounds? Why should we shut against the working men and trading classes the covered playgrounds or public resorts to be found in the museums, libraries, and art galleries? We ask in our foggy weather and dismal surroundings for "light and yet more light," and I do hope, Mr. Speaker, that the House will do something to grant our petition, and to free itself from the reproach of favouritism and inconsistency, in that it gives Sunday opening where the need is small, and refuses it where the need is great, in face of what has now become the united opinion of the Metropolis.
To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is expedient to open those National Museums and Galleries that are now closed in London to the public on Sunday for certain hours and under special regulations."—(Mr. Lawson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ *(10.43.) SIR R. FOWLER (London)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made a very eloquent speech in favour of his Motion, and has stated that the, City Council is unanimously in favour of Sunday opening?
§ *SIR R. FOWLER
At all events, I do not admit that the County Council is returned to deal with this question, and this is an illustration of the circumstance that the County Council is disposed to interfere with everything except its own business. But what is the opinion of Metropolitan Members who are returned 1609 with reference to this subject? I shall be very much surprised if the hon. Member takes the majority of them into the Lobby with him. The hon. Member referred to the hon. Member for Whitechapel, who, however, I do not see in his place.
§ *MR. LAWSON
I did not refer to the hon. Gentleman at all. From his religion he has thought it better to remain neuter, though in favour of the Motion.
§ *SIR R. FOWLER
The hon. Member's reference indicated that the hon. Gentleman generally assented. The hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Montagu) belongs to a community that has been distinguished by the observance of their own Sabbath, in which respect they set us a great example, and can scarcely ignore in this case the principle on which that observance is founded. The hon. Member began his speech by telling us that the House has become more enlightened. Well, for my own part, I do not wish to be enlightened in this respect. I think the Sabbath is a great blessing to the people of the world. I believe it is an institution which God, in His wisdom and mercy, gave to man, and as such I defend it. I, for one, will enter my humble protest against any attempt to desecrate the Sabbath.
§ *(10.48.) MR. M'ARTHUR (Leicester)
I rise to second the Amendment of my hon. Friend opposite, and to oppose the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, believing, as I do, that the policy recommended for our adoption would be injurious to the public interest, would be especially injurious to the interest of artisans, the working classes, and the poor. Sir, I give the hon. Mover and Seconder of the Resolution full credit for pure motives and good intentions. I doubt not they honestly believe that to open our national museums, picture galleries, and other institutions on Sunday would be an advantage, and that it would not injuriously affect the proper observance of our English Sunday, which I regard as one of the greatest blessings and safeguards of the nation, and the loss of which I would deprecate as one of the greatest calamities that could befal us as a people. Sir, I am 1610 aware there are many well-meaning Christian men who are in favour of the Motion, because they imagine that the opening of such places on Sunday would lessen the evil of intemperance and help to wean men from the public houses. But I confess I fear the great majority of the public, who agitate for the opening of our national institutions on Sunday, are either men who have no sympathy with the Christian duties, privileges, or moral and religious advantages of the day, or men who ignore or deny the moral obligation of Sunday, and would sooner abolish it altogether. I recollect some time ago reading of a clergyman travelling by rail, who, when stopping at one of the stations, observed a man distributing infidel publications, and ventured to remonstrate with him for doing so. "I shall never forget," said the clergyman, "the expression of the man's countenance, the tone of his reply, and the vehemence of his manner when, clenching one hand and striking the other violently against the railway carriage, he exclaimed, 'There is no revolutionising this country so long as it is guarded by Christianity.'" Sir, I believe the statement is perfectly correct, and I wish to remind the House that, with all our faults and failings, we are a Christian nation, that Christianity has made us what we are, that Sunday and Christianity are inseparably connected, and that if we destroy the one we shall soon have little of the other left that is worthy of the name. Much might be said on this aspect of the question, and I am far from regarding it as unimportant; but I do not wish to originate a theological discussion, or to argue the question from a purely religious standpoint. Sir, those who support this Motion profess to be pre-eminently the friends of the working classes, to whom they think the change advocated would be a great boon. Well, Sir, it is true that the proper observance of Sunday is important to all classes; but this is undoubtedly a working man's question, for any change that takes place in the direction recommended to us by the supporters of the Motion will affect working men more directly, more seriously, and more injuriously than any other class, and it is because I believe the change proposed would not be beneficial to the working classes, but would 1611 be highly injurious to their truest and best interests, that I oppose the Motion. Sir, one of the most frequently-adopted arguments in favour of opening our national institutions on Sunday is that it would promote temperance, and that many who now go to public houses would be induced to forsake them and spend their time in our museums and picture galleries. This I do not believe would be the case, nor do I believe it would be the means of reclaiming a single drunkard, or of preventing a single man from becoming a drunkard. Indeed, my strong conviction is it would be more likely to have the contrary effect, and would greatly increase the consumption of alcoholic drinks, for we would be compelled to establish numerous refreshment bars, where even women and children would be exposed to greater temptation than in public houses, which many of them would not enter. You would also largely increase the number and the labour of those whose life is one weary round of incessant toil, and lessen the number of those who can now "smile when the Sunday appears," because they know that that is their day, on which they can call their time their own, and have some social and domestic enjoyment. We hold, therefore, that everything which unnecessarily increases Sunday labour is a direct injury to those who have to toil for their daily bread. Sir, I am aware we are told that the increased work rendered necessary by opening national institutions in London would be infinitesimally small. We may reply that, compared with the vast population of this great Metropolis, the number of those who could or would attend such places would also be infinitesimally small. It must also be evident to all who take an interest in the question that there never was a period when it was less necessary to open our Stats-supported museums than at present. The majority of working men, or at all events a very large number of them, now take Saturday as a holiday, many of them take Monday also, and they are now agitating for an Eight Hours Bill. The parks are open where they can breathe pure air and enjoy healthful exercise; the British Museum, the South Kensington Museum, and the Bethnal Green Museum are now lighted 1612 by electricity and open to a reasonable hour at night. It is, therefore, futile to argue that men who wish to visit these places cannot find time to do so except on Sunday. I am disposed to fear, however, that many of those who advocate opening State-supported institutions on Sunday do not care very much whether the number visiting them would be large or small. What they chiefly want is to obtain the sanction of Parliament to break down this Sunday barrier which has so long stood in their way. Sir, we all know there is nothing at present to prevent museums and picture galleries from being opened in all the large towns and cities in the Kingdom if the people and the Corporations wish to have them open. In the Borough of Leicester, of which I have had the honour of being one of its Representatives for nearly 20 years past, there has been great diversity of opinion upon this question. They have at length decided, by the small majority of one, to open their institutions during a portion of Sunday. Whether the experiment will be successful or not is yet to be ascertained. I am informed, however, that after the rush and excitement of the first few Sundays there has been a great falling off in the number of visitors, amounting in some cases to from 50 to 100 per cent. I am also informed that a memorial to the Mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of Leicester, signed by a large number of clergymen, ministers, professional men, manufacturers, and others, has been presented to the Council, stating that a very strong feeling of opposition to Sunday opening exists, and expressing an opinion that the resolution recently passed should be rescinded. But what is the fact with regard to the country at large? Why, that out of 357 museums, public libraries, and art galleries, only 24 or 25 of them are open on Sunday, and at Worcester, Keswick, Stoke-on-Trent, Chester, Maidstone, have been closed after a fair trial, because the effect of having them open was found to be injurious rather than beneficial. But it is doubtless felt by our opponents that if they could only point to London, and say that all our national institutions there are open on Sunday, it would be a powerful argument in favour of opening similar institutions everywhere. It 1613 would also encourage the demand for opening other places of amusement when a charge for entrance would be made, which would still further secularise the Sunday and make it a day of both pleasure and business. We are told, however, of the great success that has attended the opening of the Painted Hall at Greenwich, museums at Kew, Hampton Court, and Dublin, and we are asked to express the opinion of this House, that, we presume, in consequence of this success, the time has arrived for extending the policy of Sunday opening to the national institutions in the Metropolis. Well, Sir, if this is to be used as an argument we have only to open billiard rooms, music halls, and dancing saloons on Sunday. It is pretty certain they would be largely attended, and then, after a few years, some hon. Member might move that, seeing the success that has attended the experiment, this House is of opinion that the time has arrived to open our theatres, and indulge in the noble sport of horse racing on Sunday as they do in some continental countries. But, Sir, I think we can prove that opening some of our public institutions on week-day evenings has also proved a great success. We find that at South Kensington Museum, open three days in the week from 10 till 10, the evening attendance during the past year has been upwards of 132,500, and that on Monday evenings especially a large proportion of the visitors belonged to the working classes. And that at Bethnal Green there have been admitted on week - day evenings upwards of 175,600 on week - day evenings. At the British Museum the attendance has not been so satisfactory, but this is easily accounted for. It would seem as if the authorities there had been trying how not to do it. We understand the museum is now open from 8 p.m. to 10. The result is that workingmen, clerks, and others who live at some distance when they go home after work will not turn out again and return at 8. But if the museum were open from 6 to 8 or from 6 to 10 that would be much more convenient and would ensure a much larger attendance than there is or can be under the existing arrangement. Now, Sir, I think, considering these 1614 facts, we are fairly entitled to argue that the time has arrived when the other national institutions should be opened at least two or three evenings during the week, and we believe if this were done that it would enable a far larger number of the working classes to visit them than would be at all likely to visit them on Sunday, while it would not be open to the objection of largely increasing Sunday labour, Sunday traffic, and the increased consumption of alchoholic liquors. Sir, the Continental Sunday has frequently been referred to during our Debates on this question. I am aware the Sunday League, or I should rather say the anti-Sunday League, do not relish allusions to it, and I should probably not refer to it again, but I find they give it prominence in one of their printed documents, in which they say—The continental Sunday need claim our attention but briefly. It is pointed to by opponents of Sunday opening as an institution of the worst kind, and it is said that if museums are opened here all the vice, work, and other evils of the continental Sunday will follow. But it must be remembered—firstly, that while no Englishman would care to have the continental Sunday here in its entirety, yet it is by no means so black as it has been painted, and its evils are in many points being remedied. Secondly, its evils are not in any way the result of museums and art galleries being open. Sunday work, Sunday theatres, Sunday drinking, dancing, and pleasures existed long before the museums and art galleries were built.Sir, the League do not care to have the continental Sunday in its entirety, but as it is "by no means so black as it has been painted" we are disposed to think they would not object to much of it. The evils referred to do exist however, and have existed, we are told, long before museums and art galleries were built. The wonder is, that these valuable institutions have not long since eradicated the evils complained of. They have not done so in France; but if we will only consent to open them in London, they are certain to effect a moral revolution, empty the public houses, and purify society. Will the House permit me to read a short extract from a German paper to show what a purifying influence the Continental Sunday exerts there? The writer, after referring to our English Sunday, observes— 1615We Germans and Schleswig-Holsteiners, not the least, are to a great extent far removed from such a celebration of Sunday. The day of rest and of the 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 children cause the greatest anxiety, and servants the greatest annoyance. On Sunday evenings, above all other days, does the wife anticipate the return of her husband with a fore-boding heart. Drunkenness and riotousness celebrate their triumphs 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 people 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 surer basis. Wilhelm von Humboldt justly said that the future of our nation depended upon the observance of Sunday. The Sunday question is not that of a party, but the common cause of all who have the 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.Again, Sir, the Sunday League informs us that, although the continental Sunday is "by no means so black as it is painted," its evils are in many points being remedied. Sir, we rejoice to know this is happily true, but we think it will be found the argument tells against the Sunday League. The writer I have just quoted seems not to be aware of the fact that thoughtful men of all continental Churches have been so deeply impressed with the great evil and danger of Sunday desecration, that Lord's Day Rest Associations have been formed and Conferences have been held, at which delegates from almost every country in Europe have attended. Resolutions have been passed in favour of a better observance of Sunday, and in many places there is a marked improvement, or, in the words of the League, "its evils are in many points being remedied." Speaking at a Sunday observance meeting in Geneva some time ago Father Hyacinth, of Paris, concluding a powerful address, is reported to have said—And yet this is the day which certain friends of the people wish to extort from them, false friends that cheat them with the name of liberty, thinking only of their bodily needs, and not wisely even of these.1616 Allow me to give you one other illustration of the truth of what I have stated respecting the reaction in France in favour of Sunday observance. I had a letter some time ago from a friend who was visiting Cherbourg, in which he writes—Let me tell you a fact which may be interesting to you. On entering the principal church, the Church of the Holy Trinity, we were surprised to find a placard just at the entrance announcing that a Mass was celebrated there every Saturday to deprecate the Divine vengeance on France for the desecration of the Sabbath.Sir, we think it is much to be regretted that while good men on the Continent are anxious to remedy the evils from which they are suffering, by endeavouring to bring about a better observance of Sunday, there are those in this country who try to persuade us that what has been injurious in France would benefit the working men of London. May we not also reasonably ask what great benefit the working men of Paris have derived from all the Sunday Exhibitions open to them? Is it not a fact that they are hard at work on Sundays and cannot see those exhibitions, even if inclined to see thorn? Can they compare favourably with the working men of London in any respect? And is it not a fact that the incessant toil which most of them undergo, in consequence of having no day of rest, has exerted an injurious influence upon them mentally and physically, reduced the stamina of the nation and the increase of the population? Is it, then, wise for us to imitate such an example? Sir, as I have already said, members of the Sunday League profess great sympathy with working men and an earnest desire to befriend them. Well, Sir, we have it on the highest authority that "By their fruits you shall know them." And, judged by this rule, I fear many of them, if weighed in the balance, would be found wanting, and that working men may well pray to be saved from their so-called friends whose sympathies frequently extend very little beyond—Be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body.Of course, there are many honourable exceptions. As I have already intimated, there are Christian men who, under 1617 what I regard as a mistaken idea, are in favour of Sunday opening, who generously support our various charities. But we have upwards of 1,000 charitable and benevolent institutions in London; and if we take the trouble to look at their Reports, I believe it will be found that an overwhelming majority of their subscribers are men who not only enjoy the rest of Sunday themselves, but who wish to preserve it to the working classes as one of the greatest boons and blessings they enjoy. Again, if we endeavour to ascertain who are the men who devote most time and energy to promote the best interests of the poor, and of the working classes, I do not think we shall find it is those who clamour most for Sunday opening of museums, picture galleries, and places of amusement. Was there ever a man in this or any other country who, during a long and active life, did more for suffering humanity, or who succeeded in securing so much useful legislation for the relief of the toiling millions of our factory women and children, for our ragged-school children, for coster-mongers, and for the poor generally than that truly noble, great, and good man the Earl of Shaftesbury, whose name is still a household word, and who, to the last day of his life, strongly opposed Sunday opening of museums and similar places, on the ground that such a step would be highly injurious to the best interests of those for whom he had, for upwards of half a century, laboured so faithfully and so successfully. Speaking on the Sunday opening question, at a large meeting in Exeter Hall, not long before his death, Lord Shaftesbury said—The Lord's Day is one of the greatest boons ever given by God to man. It is absolutely necessary to enable him to bear the wear and tear of six days' work. In these times of pressure and hurry, it is only through the institution and observance of the Sabbath that the mass of the people can enter into the full enjoyment of that great and blessed gift of God to man—domestic happiness.The late Lord Beaconsfield, who invariably voted against Sunday opening said during one of the Debates on the question—Of all divine institutions, the most divine is that which secures a day of rest for man—for is the corner-stone of civilisation, and its 1618 removal might oven affect the health of the people. The opening of museums on Sunday asked for is a great change, and those who suppose for a moment that it could be limited to the proposal of the noble Baron will find they are mistaken.Mr. Speaker, I might give scores of quotations of a similar character from both dead and living statesmen, including your illustrious father, but I am unwilling to trespass too long on the time and patience of the House. I hope, however, hon. Members will bear with me for a few minutes longer, and allow me to give one or two short extracts from speeches and letters by working men. One of them, after referring to opening institutions on Sunday, observes—Speaking now as a working man, I think it safer to remain as we are. I do not find the restrictions of the Sunday so very rigorous. I can do much as I please; I can stay at home or go abroad; keep sober or get drunk; dig my garden or range the fields; attend a place of worship or go a ratting; study the sciences or read my Bible; and if Done of these will satisfy I can, for sixpence, buy all the news of the week. But, say my opponents, the museums are closed, and we cannot enjoy ourselves unless they are open, not on six days only but on the seventh also. I hold the Sabbath as a Divine ordinance—not subject to any abrogation by any human authority. On this day, as now kept, I feel myself a man; during it I can enjoy quiet hours, not subject, so far as trade is concerned, to the commands of any one.and he concludes by saying—If ever our present Sunday and its form of observance be done away with, it will be to old England a day of mourning, lamentation, and woe. In conclusion, let me say I love museums as much as any of their warmest advocates, but rather than give up my Sunday, let them sink into those primary rocks from which some portion of them came.Another writes—Asa toiler during six days of the week, I feel the relaxation of Sunday simply life itself, therefore if anyone infringes upon my privileges let him be assured of my earnest hostility. But if my liberty in this respect can only be obtained by robbing someone else of the same right, I scorn, to seek it at such a price. Relaxation I must have, but I do not think I could best accomplish my purpose by exchanging the din of the workshop for the crush of the excursion train. The question is one for the working classes. If the thin end of the wedge only tickles the fancy and gives pleasure, let us beware lest workshop and factories follow in the wake, and we get seven days' work for six days' wages. On these grounds alone, I believe the man who encourages Sunday labour is the foe of the toiling multitude.Sir, these are striking testimonies from 1619 working men, who, in my opinion, take a perfectly correct view of the question, and I believe they are the views entertained by the vast majority of working men who seriously reflect upon the subject. Allow me to say, in conclusion, that while I give those who are in favour of the Motion credit for pure motives, I believe if they would allow their sympathies to go out in a different direction towards those who now labour 14 to 16 hours a day, and who seldom have a Sunday's rest; if they would endeavour to ameliorate the condition of the enormous number of men who toil incessantly seven days a week, instead of trying to largely increase the number; if they would help to break off the heavy bur-dens and bid the oppressed go free; I believe they might with greater propriety claim to be the friends of the working classes, and I am quite certain they would best promote the good order, peace, comfort, prosperity, and happiness of the masses of our fellow-countrymen who have to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow.
§ *(11.20.) MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
This is a very important and difficult subject to deal with; but, so far as I know it, I believe the feeling of the people of London to be decidedly against the opening of museums and galleries on Sundays. It was stated just now that consent had been given to the opening of the Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh—but these gardens scarcely come within the category of museums and galleries.
§ *MR. NORRIS
It appears to me that the better class of working men like to spend their Sundays in the open air, and, as it were, to receive sermons in stones. The hon. Member for St. Pancras referred to the fact that the People's Palace, of which I am a Trustee, is open on Sundays, and I believe I was the only man who protested against it being open except for the performance of sacred music. It appears to me that the consensus of opinion is against Sunday opening. Let me quote some opinions which have been uttered on the subject. Lord Beaconsfield, in 1879, voted against Sunday opening, and in his speech he said— 1620Of all divine institutions the most divine is that which secures a day of rest for man. I hold it to be the most valuable blessing ever conceded to man. It is the cornerstone of civilization, and its removal might even affect the health of the people. It (the opening of museums on Sundays) is a great change, and those who suppose for a moment it could be limited to the proposal of the noble Baron to open museums will find they are mistaken.I will venture next to quote an opinion which will weigh perhaps more than any other with hon. Members opposite. In 1869, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian said—The religious observance of Sunday is a main prop of the religious character of the country… From a moral, social and physical point of view the observance of Sunday is a duty of absolute consequence.In a letter dated the 13th January, 1876, the right hon. Gentleman said—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 of 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.I myself prefer to take these higher and nobler views as to the sanctity of the day—our day of rest, our English Sunday, and these are views which I believe are shared by working men, and, therefore, it is that I had proposed to move an Amendment setting forth that—It is inexpedient to impose labour upon those who must necessarily be employed if museums and galleries were opened on Sundays, and who are at present exempt from work upon that day.But by the Rules of the House I am precluded from moving the Amendment. In the Tower Hamlets, a Division of which I represent, there is a great preponderance of opinion against the proposal to open museums and galleries on Sunday. No fewer than 20,240 of the working classes there signed protests against Sunday opening of the library and news rooms of the People's Palace. The opinion of the House to the same effect has been expressed on several occasions by very large majorities. In 1855, 48 were for and 237 against 1621 Sunday closing; in 1856, the figures were 48 for, 376 against; in 1874, 70 for, 273 against; in 1877, 87 for, 229 against; and in 1882, 83 for, and 208 against. No doubt Sunday opening would lead to an increase of the Sunday labour. It is not only those actually employed in the care of these institutions who would suffer if they are opened as proposed, but railway servants, men in charge of omnibuses and tram-cars, and others will suffer also. I hope the House will come to the conclusion and show by a large majority that the Motion of my hon. Friend opposite is not for the public good or the welfare of the people, and one the adoption of which is not desired by the working classes. I shall give it my most unqualified opposition.
§ (11.28.) SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
I think that the House will perhaps expect me to say a few words with reference to this Motion, as a Trustee of the British Museum, With reference to the results of the evening opening of the Museum, I do not take quite so gloomy a view as the hon. Member for St. Pancras. The number of people attending is now slightly on the increase, and we hope will continue to increase. Undoubtedly, however the figures are very disappointing. The hon. Member for Leicester seems to think that is the fault of the Trustees; he says we are showing how best not to do it; he suggests the best hours for the evening would be from 6 to 8. We, however, have tried opening as he suggests, but we found that from 7 to 8 scarcely any one was present. With regard to Sundays, a large majority of the Trustees of the British Museum are anxious to open the Museum on Sunday. We cordially sympathise with everything that has been said as to the proper observance of Sunday, but we wish to open the museums because we believe that to do so will promote the object we all have at heart. What is the object of a museum? Why does the House annually vote large supplies for the support of the British Museum? Partly, no doubt, 1622 to promote scientific study, but it is also largely to raise and improve the mental condition of the people. If the British Museum is an ennobling institution for six days in the week, why should it have a desecrating influence on the seventh? The 'hon. Member who has just sat down, said he was in favour of the people finding sermons in stones; but where will this be better done than in the British Museum? The hon. Member for Leicester is a strong Home Ruler, and wishes to give weight to local opinion; nevertheless, the hon. Member wishes to deny the people of London a privilege which his own people have. I maintain there are much stronger reasons for opening the Metropolitan museums on Sunday than those of provincial towns, because in London it is so much more difficult for our people to get into the country and enjoy the fields and woods. It is quite-true the parks are open on Sunday, and we have been told this evening they are themselves a kind of museum. The parks may, no doubt, be regarded as museums of living plants. How inconsistent it is, then, to express delight at. the idea of people looking at the living plants, and to regard it as wicked for them to look at the same plants when they are dry. If there is a greater inconsistency than this it is that those who oppose the opening of the London museums are in favour of opening Hampton Court and the museums at Kew on Sunday, though a railway journey has to be undertaken to reach them. The Church shows what is its opinion of the best mode of keeping the Sunday by appointing two services, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It is obvious that it would be impossible for any one to keep fixed their attention on a service which was carried on continuously during the day. The question then is, what are the people to do during the time when service is not proceeding? You tell us it is quite right to keep the public houses open, that the people should have an opportunity of going to the public house; but yet my hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Norris) says if you open museums and the people go there they will get drunk. What an extraordinary argument that is. Surely if they get 1623 drunk at all it will be in the public houses, and not in the museums. One word as to the question of money payment. It is very easy to draw the line between places which are kept open for the purposes of profit and those maintained by the nation for the improvement of the people, which are now open during the six days when people are working and closed during the only day of the week on which they have holiday. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester says we have a half-holiday on Saturday in London. If he knew as much about London as he does of Leicester he would know very well that in the poorer districts of London Saturday is no half-holiday at all; but, on the contrary, many shopkeepers and their assistants have on Saturday to do two days work rolled into one. I do not wish to do anything to encourage Sunday labour; but I think that by opening the museums Sunday labour will be actually diminished. As to the superintendence of the museums, thousands of persons may pass through them and only demand the presence of a mere handful of officials. The few police required in the museums would set free a larger number now employed elsewhere. Because I believe that this step will tend to improve and raise the character of the people of London, to brighten their lives, and to promote the better observance of Sunday, I shall vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend.
§ *(11.38.) ADMIRAL MAYNE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
I wish to give support from this side of the House to the Motion of the hon. Member (Mr. Lawson). "We have been told by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir R. Fowler) he wishes to prevent the desecration of the Sabbath. So do I, and so, I presume, do all hon. Members. The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Norris), who told us he was on the Trust of the People's Palace, said he wished to have sacred music only played on Sunday, but we have found there has been great benefit to the poor people from music, whether sacred or otherwise, which has been played in the 1624 parks. No case has been made out against the Motion, so far as I can see. The hon. Member for Leicester said that we who are opposed to him have little sympathy for the Sabbath, that there was no time when such a change was less necessary than the present, that we live in a Christian country, and he added that the stamina of the French, and the decrease of the population in that country, is due to having galleries open on Sunday. But the hon. Gentleman offered us no proofs. This question ought to be lifted out of a disputation about mere petty details as to railway journeys, and the employment of officials, to the higher ground of consideration whether the change will do good to those less fortunately situated than ourselves. Hon. Gentlemen do not propose to shut up their clubs on the Sunday, or to put an end to Sunday visits to the studios—an ordinary Sunday afternoon occupation during the season. What have poor people to do on Sunday? I look in vain for an answer from those Gentlemen who sit opposite, and who claim to represent the majority in the Principality. They are, no doubt, exhausted by their labours on the Tithes and Sunday Closing Bills, for to-night they are conspicuous by their absence. Are they afraid to speak? They wish to close public houses on Sunday. Where do they wish the poor people to go on Sunday? Will they provide no relaxation and no enlightenment of any kind for those who have not the opportunities they have themselves? I think this Motion is a most natural and evident corollary to the Bill which was read a second time the other day, through the efforts of hon. Gentlemen opposite from Wales, for closing public houses on the Sunday. If the public houses to which the people have been in the habit of going on Sunday are to be closed, some other places must in reason be opened to them; and where can they go better than to places where they will see the highest efforts of the art and genius of all countries in the world? The mere question of a few people being employed in looking after these places on Sunday is nothing to the advantage the hardworking man will gain. Men who work amongst the poor, know that the great difficulty is to get 1625 the poor some places to go to on the Sunday, to draw them away from the public house, to find them something that will lift them above the ordinary every-day level, and out of the misery in which they live. Surely it is not too much to ask hon. Members of this House, who have not the trials and temptations the poor have, to give them a chance of improving themselves. I will not enter into the question of the particular hours during which these places should be opened. Let the hours be adapted to Church hours. Let the hours be from 2 to 5 o'clock; but, at all events, let the experiment be tried. I believe it will be found that there is the greatest desire on the part of the people to see these places open on Sunday. I know I shall be told by Members from the Principality that this is the small end of the wedge. The action of Welsh Liberal Members on the present occasion convinces me that they have received letters similar to those I have received, which are to the effect—"You must not admit the small end of the wedge." But, Sir, as we listen to those hon. Members, upon most of the subjects on which they enlighten us, we find very generally that it is not the small end of the wedge they wish to insert, but the wedge itself, and often another on top of it. I trust the House will not deny to the people of London what has proved of such great advantage in Birmingham, Edinburgh, and other places. Let us ascertain whether the people want Sunday opening by giving it a fair trial.
§ (11.47.) MR. JESSE COLLINGS, (Birmingham, Bordesley)
who was greeted with cheers,* said: I suppose that general cheering augurs well for my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, and he and my Friends around me are no doubt heartily glad to hear it and appreciate all it means. There is no doubt a very strong feeling against the proposal contained in the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Lawson)—a feeling founded upon the religious view of the question, and consequently a feeling very difficult* The result of the election for Aston Manor had just become known to the House.1626 to deal with. It must be dealt with, not with any roughness, but with a great deal of patient consideration. I would remind my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. A. McArthur) that in the Australian colonies the course the House is now asked to adopt has been adopted for some time without any great calamity resulting. My hon. Friend said that the advocates of this proposal have no sympathy with the Sunday; but I think that the opposite is the case. The desire of those who advocate the proposal is that the Sunday should be spent in a sober, rational, and, I would add, religious manner. It must be borne in mind that no one is required to go to the places which are open; those who object can stay away. I would draw what, in my opinion, is an important distinction between public institutions and places for which a money entrance is charged. Hon. Members who have picture galleries and libraries of their own enjoy those possessions on Sundays. Public libraries belong to no one person, but to the people of the locality or to the nation, and the people are as much co-proprietors of those institutions as hon. Members are of their own libraries and picture galleries. The man who goes to a municipal art gallery is entering his own gallery, for he is rated for it, and it is as much his own as any man's. I do not think, therefore, that we have a right to deprive him of the enjoyment of that institution. No working man can possess a picture gallery or library of his own; he can only hope to obtain them in his corporate capacity, and he is equally entitled to enjoy them. I believe that in this principle of corporate ownership lies the solution of many of the problems that exist between the rich and the poor. But perhaps experience is better than speculation as to what might happen if these institutions were opened on Sundays. I was for many years chairman of the Birmingham Art Galleries, and I was struck when I revisited the city on Sundays, especially in winter, with the depressing aspect of the place. Almost the only place about which there was any light and cheerfulness was the window of the public house. I was so impressed with the desolate appearance of the city on Sunday that I 1627 moved a Resolution that our institutions should be opened on Sunday. That Resolution was carried, after much opposition, and for 16 years the people of Birmingham have enjoyed those institutions on Sundays. There is, belonging to the Corporation of Birmingham, a great museum and hall at Aston. The Aston people are reasonable people; they know what they are about and what is good for them. They are not led away by specious arguments, nor do they allow the real issue to be obscured, and, therefore, they have for all these years had the enjoyment of these institutions and have justified their enjoyment of them by a rational use of them. There was, as I have indicated, a great deal of opposition—sincere opposition—to the movement for Sunday opening, but I believe that most of those who opposed the movement would refrain at the present moment from lifting their hand to close these institutions on Sunday. I used frequently to visit the places when they were open. They were crowded, but the people were orderly, and, in my opinion, they were gaining new ideas and new thoughts, and great good generally. Men and women came with their families, and I have no doubt that each visit would afford rational talk to the family for the whole week. I do not think that the question of labour is a difficult one. In Birmingham we said to each member of the staff that if he volunteered for duty from 2 o'clock on Sunday till the closing time he would have one day's holiday during the week at his choice, and we have never had any difficulty in securing attendants. At first it was thought necessary to have police and others to look after property, but that has been found to be absolutely unnecessary, and to this day, though millions have visited the library and galleries, there has not been a single scratch or any damage done to the whole institution. It has been said that opening these places in the evenings was equivalent to opening them on Sunday afternoons, but I do not think anyone who knows the life of the working man can hold that opinion. The hon. Member for Leicester has asked whether a single drunkard has been reclaimed by this practice of Sunday opening. For my own part, I do not base my claim upon 1628 the reclamation of drunkards, but on the common rights of owners of property to have a free and reasonable use of it. I know, however, for a fact that many men who had been habitual frequenters of the public house on Sunday have become frequenters of these institutions since they have been opened on Sundays, and women have come to me and expressed their gratitude on the grounds that their husbands were naturally sober men, but not knowing what to do on Sundays, had gone to the public house, whereas from the time of the opening of the library and galleries on Sunday they had become sober and respectable men. I would ask hon. Members who oppose this Motion in the interest of Sunday, a question with regard to newspapers, which of course mean Sunday labour. We cannot help that, but every man who buys a newspaper on Monday morning becomes to the extent of what he gives for it an encourager of Sunday labour, and to be consistent he should condemn, the practice of the Monday morning publication of newspapers. I am afraid we are all a little lenient towards the observance of a principle when it affects our own comfort, but staunch in adherence to a principle when the actions of other people are concerned. My right hon. Friend the Member for London University (Sir John Lubbock) has spoken of the use of these art galleries and literary and scientific institutions, but as a matter of fact these are as a closed book to the mass of the working classes in this country, and only when men are free, only when they are quite at leisure, can these places be of use to them. It is of no use to say that men can give attention to the study of these matters at the close of a day of hard work, but give them the opportunity on a day of leisure, and there is no knowing what value the opportunity will have, and how it may be followed up at home. I will not detain the House longer, but I thought it would be of advantage that I should give the House the benefit of our experience in Birmingham, where the experiment has been so successful that everybody has ceased to raise any question about these institutions being open on Sunday. Those who do not care to go stay away, but the places are well frequented, and likely to remain so. I 1629 believe that any hint of a proposal to close these institutions in Birmingham on Sunday would be regarded as one of the most foolish and wicked suggestions that could possibly be made, in the interest of sobriety, morality, and of religion. I am sure that if hon. Members who now feel some apprehension as to the effect of this Sunday opening in London, would try the experiment, they would find their fears were groundless, and that it would tend greatly to the benefit of the people for whose benefit these galleries are maintained. I do not wish to ram this matter down the throats of those who have a different view, but rather, I would, by argument, and almost by entreaty, induce them to give effect to this, which they will admit is the desire of the great majority of the people, and I am sure the experiment will show that none of the anticipated evils which have been alluded to will follow. Our proposal is founded on reason and common sense, and I ask hon. Members to put aside their prejudices and let the people have the means of enjoying privileges which they themselves would not like to be deprived of upon the Sunday.
§ *(12.5.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART WORTLEY,) Sheffield, Hallam
I interpose in this Debate for a short time to explain why, although on a former occasion I was one of those who in the ardour of political youth supported this Motion, I do not feel I can do so on the present occasion. Nine years ago when this Motion was discussed in the House I supported it and expressed my conviction that among the working classes, or among a considerable number of them at all events, there was a strong demand for enlightened, and even for artistic recreation on the Sabbath day. In voting against this Motion to-night I by no means abandon that conviction. With regard to the opening of art galleries and museums on Sundays, we ought to pay regard almost solely to the wishes of the working classes in the matter. We have not to please ourselves but the 1630 persons who will ultimately feel the effect for good or evil of such a step—I mean our constituents among the humbler classes throughout the great centres of population. It is because the effects will be felt by them that it behoves us to take the greatest care how we use the power that for the time happens to be in, our hands. I am aware that the position I take logically amounts to the advocacy of the principle of local option applied to such matters. An appeal has been made to logic and I confess it was. most successfully made by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Lubbock) who is a master in that line of argument, and if the appeal is made solely to logic, I take a firm stand on that ground as an advocate of local option in these things. But the Motion is not made on that ground. The proposal is that the State should set the example, should lead and not follow, and give an indication of a policy which could not but be interpreted as putting a pressure upon Local Authorities.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
Does the hon. Gentleman extend that principle to the Trustees of the British Museum?
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
I cannot regard the Trustees of the British Museum as being entirely independent of the Government of the country. Their action could not but be interpreted as setting an example to be followed by Trustees and other Public Bodies. In supporting the Motion on a previous occasion, I received no sign of approval from those whose virtues we are bound to respect, but rather the contrary; and so far as one can judge in the light of subsequent experience, the opinion of the working-classes, if it sets in any direction, is rather against the proposal. In these days the demand is for a restriction of the hours of labour, and we who think that these proposals for restriction are in themselves most disputable, must, on our part, do nothing which can be construed into an unnecessary extension of those hours of labour. In these days of continually increasing pressure upon the mental 1631 and physical resources of the human frame, we ought to be very careful how we act in any direction that may increase that pressure. Because this Motion is not a Motion for local option, but practically one for giving a State direction to Municipalities and Local Authorities——
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
Really hon. Members must allow me to place my own interpretation on the Motion which, being placed before the House, is public property. On the grounds I have stated, I cannot vote for the Motion.
§ (12.10.) MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
I have listened with more astonishment than I can express to the speech we have just heard, and pity the hon. Gentleman for the position in which he has foundered himself. He evidently desires—from conscientious reasons no doubt—to go into a different Lobby to that he entered nine years ago and thinks it necessary to give some reasons for the change in his opinions. But let me in a few moments analyse these reasons. The hon. Gentleman believes this is a question for local option, and so he thinks it is wrong for the State to take the lead. Now, that would be a very fine position for the hon. Gentleman to take up if the State had always refrained from taking any action in this direction; but I ask the hon. Gentleman how can he square his theory with the 'action the State has in many instances adopted? Already there are several public institutions which are not local property, but State property, which are supported out of funds voted by this House, and which are by the consent of the Government open on Sundays. The State has, then, taken the lead, and if my memory serves me rightly the State took the lead before any of these local institutions. The State has taken the lead in the case of public institutions in Dublin, in the case of Hampton Court Palace, Greenwich Hospital, and Kew Gardens. What, then, becomes of the 1632 argument of the hon. Gentleman upon which he refuses to support the Motion of my hon. Friend to-night? He says this is a matter for local option and the State must not lead, but the State has taken the lead in reference to these institutions I have mentioned. I hope that unless he can find some other argument he will reconsider his position once more and vote as he has previously voted in favour of the Resolution. Very pertinent was the question put to him by the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock) whether the Trustees of the British Museum would be allowed to exercise their judgment without State interference. The majority of the Museum Trustees are prepared to take action, but they desire to have an expression of public opinion upon the subject. But how shall the Trustees get an expression of public opinion if not from this House? Why, if public opinion is to govern these matters, does the Government intervene to oppose this Motion? Then, says the hon. Gentleman, there is a strong feeling in favour of shortening hours of labour, and, therefore, he is not prepared to do anything that would tend to extend the hours of labour in any direction. But I ask him does he know anything of the life of the working classes in big towns? Where is the largest amount of Sunday labour? Is it not in those towns and in those trades where there are not healthy recreations and healthy amusements to draw the people from their homes? I have a very fair knowledge of working life in London, not in all trades, but especially in connection with one industry. I am not speaking of large factories, which, of course, are closed on Sundays, I mean work carried on at home, and I say the closing on Sunday of places of enlightened recreation and useful amusement leads to an increase in the hours of labour, for there is no inducement to a man to leave his work, Where you have given greater facilities for enlightened recreation there has been a tendency to shorten the hours of labour. When the right hon. Baronet obtained from Parliament the Bank Holiday Act, that Act applied only to banking establishments, and did not apply to ordinary trades, but see what the result has been. 1633 I remember when that Act first came into force there was a reluctance in all the workshops to make a holiday because the banks did, but go now among the watch-making trades in Clerkenwell, and you will not find one workshop that does not keep St. Lubbock's Day. Indeed, you will find most places of business next week closed from Thursday evening until Tuesday morning. Where is there the increase of labour from giving working men the means of intellectual recreation when they have the leisure for it? The hon. Member for Bordesley has shown how the case of the few attendants on duty on Sunday in Birmingham is met. I do not for a moment think that the opening of museums, art galleries, and libraries will tend to increase hours of labour, but will rather have the contrary effect. I speak from the experience of one who has been through the workshop and knows the wants of men who have worked long hours during the week, and I know we did not thank those who prevented us from going to those places we desired to visit on the only day we could find time to do so. I know what a dismal day a wet winter Sunday in London may be, and why not allow the opportunity of utilising time which cannot be always spent in walking in the parks? I think it is a most lame and impotent reason the Under Secretary has given for his change of view. Is he, are the Government, prepared to give London the same means of deciding by public opinion as the people of Sheffield, Birmingham, Leicester, and other towns have? We have shown how local option is exercised, and I think if we had the opportunity in London we should soon have the opinion of the industrial classes expressed in favour of using these public institutions on Sundays. What have we seen in reference to this Motion today? I have followed the presentation of Petitions, and it will be found that those which are against the Resolution are signed by people living in the provinces, away from London, who do not know what London life is among the working classes, who have no interest in the opening of these places on Sunday. On the other hand, there is no mistaking the opinion of those who have signed Petitions in 1634 favour of the Resolution. I need only mention the Petition presented by my hon. Friend to-day, which has the signatures of 66,000 inhabitants, most interested in the opening of Bethnal Green Museum on Sunday. I know the gentleman who moved the resolution in the County Council, and if the hon. Baronet opposite desires to know what manner of man Councillor Branch is, he may obtain convincing evidence of his earnest religious character and opinions from any Congregational Minister ill Bethnal Green. We have been told of the dire effects that will follow from the opening of these institutions on Sundays, but still the case made out by my hon. Friend in his opening speech remains unanswered. Old arguments have been repeated once again, but not one of the hon. Gentlemen who has spoken against the Motion has attempted to prove that public opinion is not growing in favour of this proposal. Have evil effects resulted from the opening of such places as Hampton Court, Greenwich Hospital, Kew Gardens, and the Botanical Gardens at Edinburgh? I do not think that a proposal to close the public galleries in Dublin would meet with much favour from those who have the religious and intellectual welfare of the people at heart. Are the Government prepared to say that during the coming summer season Hampton Court and Kew Gardens shall be closed on Sundays? Let the Government make the attempt to close these places and see what a hornet's nest they will have about their ears. I speak as knowing the conditions of working class life in the poorer districts of London; and I must say it is rather selfish for hon. Gentlemen who have all the advantages that wealth commands, and who hurry away from the Metropolis on Saturday morning and return here again on Monday, it is selfish for them to deny to the artisan living with his family in two or three rooms the opportunity of breaking the barren monotony of his life by visiting places from which he can derive such artistic and intellectual enjoyment as he is capable of. I understand we are to be outvoted to-night; but everything that has been done to make the life of the working classes brighter and happier has had to be done against such opposi- 1635 tion as we have to encounter to-night; and in time I hope the House will take a broader view of this question, and follow the example of another place in which this Motion has been carried on a former occasion. I am sure that in the near future this Resolution will be carried, and if there is no stronger case than that advanced by the Under Secretary for the Home Office, I do not see how it can be resisted.
§ (12.30.) LORD ELCHO (Ipswich)
I desire to say one word in favour of this Motion. An eloquent passage from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has been quoted against this Motion. The right hon. Gentleman was in the House at 11 o'clock, but he is not now to be seen. I trust he did not receive any bad news which took him away. It is important that we should know his opinion. The speech quoted was made in 1869 and, judging from experience, we may presume that the opinion stated by the right hon. Gentleman in 1869 is the exact opposite of that held by him in 1891. The hon. Member for the City (Sir R. Fowler) told us that the Sabbath was a divine institution, and I think he took a rather narrow and somewhat bigoted view of the manner in which we are bound to keep the Sabbath according to the Scriptures. I think the only question we have to consider is that of labour, and certainly, if it were proved that any large amount of labour would be entailed by this Sunday opening of museums, I should vote against it. Bat I think this point has been much exaggerated, and that no more Sunday labour would be required by the opening of museums than is at present required to prepare the Sunday dinners of a few hon. Gentlemen.
§ *(12.32.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
I wish to occupy but a very short period. I am sure everyone will give full credit to those who support this Motion, whether on this side of the House or on the other, for a sincere 1636 desire to raise the people by enabling them to pass their Sunday in the best possible way. But, Sir, we have to consider whether in carrying out this desire we, as a Government, are to take upon ourselves the responsibility of directing a number of men to work on Sundays, for what, after all, is not an absolutely necessary object. Mea are to be forced to work on Sundays, whether they like it or not, in order, it is said, that the people may obtain recreation. But is this a work of necessity?
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman says that because Hampton Court is open on Sundays all public servants in these institutions are to be compelled to work on Sundays. I do not see that we are compelled to adopt the hon. Gentleman's conclusion, and I do not propose to act upon his recommendation. Hampton Court has been opened on Sunday for a great many years. It may not be desirable that it should be closed, but it does not follow because it is open that we should call upon public servants in every museum and picture gallery to work on Sunday. It may or may not be thought desirable by the public authorities in various localities to open such buildings on Sundays. That is a matter they have to determine for themselves. We are the Representatives of the people of the United Kingdom; we have to lay down rules for the guidance of public servants in different parts of the Kingdom; and we are asked, under these circumstances, to say it is our desire that public servants should not have that rest on Sundays to which I certainly think they are entitled. A great deal has been said with regard to the views of the working men. So far as I have been able to ascertain, there is nothing that working men are more jealous about than their Sunday's rest, and they would certainly regard this as an infringement of their right to Sunday rest after their six days' labour. 1637 I do not believe that they desire these institutions to be opened on Sundays. Reference has been made to theatres, and to the fact that Mr. Henry Irving has expressed himself against the Sunday opening of theatres, because it would involve Sunday labour on the part of hundreds of persons, theatres being great workshops; but I have often heard it stated by those who advocate the theatre and drama that they minister to the instruction and education as well as the amusement of the people, and if museums are to be opened on this ground the cry would next follow that theatres ought. In every Continental capital where the picture galleries and museums are open, there also the theatres are open. If this Motion were to be passed it would be a breaking down of the barrier which now prevents hundreds of persons having to work on Sundays in London and provincial theatres. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have not, I think, represented the real opinion of the working classes on this subject and in the interest of the public servants and also of the people themselves, Her Majesty's Government feel bound to oppose this Motion.
§ (12.40.) MR. CREMER (Shoreditch Haggerston)
I should not have interposed in this Debate, especially at this late hour, but for the extraordinary statement that has just been made by the First Lord of the Treasury. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that, so far as he is aware (and I am convinced he has only said what he believes to be true) the working-men have a great regard for the Sabbath. I share that opinion. Working men do not fear—and that is the point of difference between them and the right hon. Gentleman—that the opening of museums on Sunday will jeopardise in any way the sacred character of the Sabbath. Let me supply a proof. The right hon. Gentleman made an assertion, but gave us no proof. I am going to supply him with information which I think it is very necessary should be at the disposal of the House, 1638 and which may, perhaps, assist some hon. Members in making up their minds. I do not say the Trade Union Congress represents the entire body of the working classes of the United Kingdom; but every Member of the House will admit that it is about the most representative gathering that takes place from January to December. Well, the Trade Union Congress on three, if not four, different occasions has pronounced a deliberate verdict in favour of the Sunday opening of these institutions. Such an expression of opinion ought to have greater weight with the House than the vague assertions of the First Lord of the Treasury as to the feeling of the working classes. The bogey of the Continental Sunday has as usual been trotted out to scare us. I have frequently observed that Members of this House who are at home so careful not to make any inroad upon the Sabbath, and who pose before their constituents as having a very sincere and profound regard for sacred institutions, when on the Continent forget their professions, attend places of amusement on Sunday, and visit St. Cloud, Versailles, the Louvre, and such like places. I cannot understand how they square the professions they make at home with their practice abroad. It seems to me that the opposition to this Motion is not a sincere opposition. It smacks somewhat—I was going to say of hypocrisy, but I will not indulge in that phrase, as it might be considered offensive. Supposing the opening of museums and picture galleries on the Continent has produced the Sabbath that has been described, how is it that the people who have to work so long on the Sabbath do not put an end to it? If there is one country outside Switzerland in which the people are masters of the situation it is France; and I undertake to say, from a knowledge of that country extending over 20 years, that there is nothing which would be more likely to bring about a revolution or cause the people to rise en masse than an attempt on the part of their Government, Republican and Liberal as it is, to close the museums and art galleries and other places of amusement on Sundays. I do not think the working classes in France can be suffering from a grievous wrong in this matter, for they not only tolerate 1639 but enjoy, and would not allow anybody to deprive them of their privileges on the Sabbath. So much, then, for the bogey of the Continental Sunday. I do not pretend to be an exponent of the opinions of the working classes generally. I only claim to speak for those I know and represent; but it is quite clear that if the opinions of Representatives who are known in this House as the Labour Representatives, are to be accepted as any evidence of the feelings of the working classes on the subject, the large preponderance of the working classes are in favour of the Motion. I am right in saying that the only Member of our group opposed to the Motion is the hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Broadhurst), and if he is absent to-night from the Division I think we may conclude that his opposition is not very pronounced. As far as my own constituents are concerned, 95 per cent. of them are in favour of the Motion. Throughout the whole of the East End, if we polled it, we should have a large majority in favour of the Motion. Whether the Motion is accepted or rejected, I am sure that the day is not far distant—and I am strengthened in that view by the feeble opposition offered by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down—when this Motion will be carried.
§ (12.49.) MR. M. STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
I only wish to say one word before the House goes to a Division. It is said that we on this side contend that the working men of London are not so much in favour of Sunday opening as bon. Gentlemen opposite say they are-Well, I hold in my hand a paper which states that since January over 20,000 working men living in the neighbourhood of the People's Palace have expressed the opinion that that institution ought not to be opened on Sunday. It is clear, therefore, that hon. Members opposite are not entitled to say that all working men are supporters of the Motion before the House.
§ *(12.52.) MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
I had come to the House intending to vote against the Motion but I have been converted to the view 1640 that the practical objections to the proposal are not well-founded in fact. In principle, this Motion is entirely in accordance with the ancient canon law, which is the historic basis for the observation of the Christian Sunday. If time allowed, I should be prepared to show that the work entailed is not of a different kind from that which is done by ordinary gentlemen on the Sunday. To lounge about a gallery and criticise works of art or antiquity is the leisure of those who live a life of ease. [An hon. MEMBER: Taking care of umbrellas.] It is not the kind of work which can be properly called labour. I am aware that many of the leaders of the most respectable Religious Bodies of this country are opposed, because they fear it will tend in the direction of inducing a general desecration of the Sunday; but, being of opinion that every gentleman who possesses an art gallery and library of his own uses it for his own recreation on the Sunday, and recognising that these galleries are the people's galleries, I see no objection to the Motion. If I thought the proposal would lead to the opening of theatres or concert halls I would as strenuously oppose the Motion as the right hon. Leader of the House; but I trust the time is at length coming when the English people will be able to take a view of the due observance of the Sunday which is at once rational and religious, and I therefore feel constrained to support this reasonable Motion.
§ (12.54.) The House divided:—Ayes 166; Noes 39.—(Div. List, No. 100.)
§ Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SUPPLY,—Committee upon Monday next.
§ It being after One of the clock, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put.
§ House adjourned at five minutes after One o'clock till Monday next.