HL Deb 14 July 1851 vol 118 cc626-8

presented a petition against the continuance of the Crystal Palace. His Lordship stated that the first name on the list was that of his learned Brother (Mr. Justice Cresswell), a lawyer, a scholar, and a gentleman who was an ornament to his profession and his country; and, amongst other names of the greatest respectability and distinction were those of the venerable mother of the Earl of Clarendon, and of the sister of Lord Auckland. The petitioners expressed a wish, which he believed was unanimous amongst persons of all classes, always excepting some publicans and keepers of beerhouses, who profited by the crowd of visitors, that at the termination of the Exhibition the Crystal Palace might appear only in history; and several clergymen joined in the prayer of the petition, who desired for the sake of morality, that the Commissioners should not be absolved from the solemn pledge which they had given that the building should be removed within a given time after it had fulfilled the purpose to which it was destined. An active agitation was going on upon this question at present, the ground of which, he believed, was that the health and enjoyment of the people would be promoted by allowing the Crystal Palace to remain in its place. But, upon this point, their Lordships might permit him to quote a passage from an article in the last number of the Quarterly Review, which was evidently the composition of a gentleman who was profoundly versed in literature, as well as skilled in science. The writer said— Were the Crystal Palace to be kept up in spite of rather strong pledges, and, as some prophesy, to present us by and by with a wilderness of walks meandering through bowers of exotic bloom, it would be the most insalubrious promenade in London; the rather and choicer the Flora, the less entitled to rivet your admiration, young ladies! On a sultry summer's day, fairly divided between heavy showers and scorching sunshine, you have seen a bottle of claret—or the decanter to which it ought not to have been transferred—or a caraffe of water from the deep well—brought into your dear papa's comfortable dining room; before it stood long on the table the bright glass was dim, and soon down trickled the dew-drops, running races which should reach the bottom first; well, permit us paternal reviewers to whisper that after half an hour's walk through the frosty air you are the cool claret bottle, or the caraffe of spring water, when you enter the seductive orchid house. The dew does not run off your encasing integuments, but it saturates them. You might almost as wisely take a walk on the floor of the aquarium as here. If you doubt our word, go and stand before the nearest kitchen fire, and see how you will reek and steam. What would your mamma say—what would Sir—or Dr.—, who has taken such pains with you, think if you were to spend two or three hours in the laundry during the height of the engagement on a washing day? As you happen to have lungs and a skin, it matters not what you are looking at, as long as the atmosphere is the same—whether at the brightest of flowers or the most prismatic of soap bubbles. No indoor promenade should tell more forcibly on the hygrometer, or indicate the dew point with greater suddenness, than a common sitting room. But in this arid climate, oven the camellia casts off its blossom buds. It disinherits its own lovely offspring, and rejects them with as decided a scorn as if it had discovered that it was producing a crop of Hygeian pills instead of pure ornaments for innocent beauties. The climate of the orange, not that of the camellia, may do for a winter garden. If ever our admirable palace of glass becomes a showy, steamy, suffocating Jardin d'Hiver, it will be a capital thing for the apothecaries; such a vigorous crop of colds, coughs, and consumptions will be raised, that it will be the walk, if not the dance of death, to frequent it. That was the testimony given by an impartial writer against the visionary scheme of Mr. Paxton, who talked of transferring to this country the sunny clime of Southern Italy. For his own part, if the Crystal Palace were to be retained at all, he (Lord Campbell) thought it would be best to convert it into an enormous shower bath; for, however admirably adapted it was to the purposes for which it was intended, it had now become essentially necessary to elevate umbrellas inside the building whenever a shower of rain came on. That would probably be the last time that he should have the opportunity of raising his voice on the subject, for he should be obliged to leave town early to-morrow in the discharge of his duty to administer justice to Her Majesty's subjects; but he would leave the matter in their Lordships' hands without any fear, because he did not believe that the two Houses of Parliament would assume the functions of his Holiness the Pope, and absolve Governments and individuals from the solemn promises which they had given.

Petition ordered to lie on the table.

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