HL Deb 27 May 1853 vol 127 cc650-1

presented a petition from Chaplains of Her Majesty's Prisons in and near the Metropolis against the opening of the Exhibition (Sydenham) on any part of the Lord's Day.


presented a petition of a different nature, from a Gentleman who certainly was well entitled to be heard on any subject connected with education, having been one of its greatest promoters not only in England but in Europe—he meant Mr. Robert Owen. That gentleman stated in his petition, that he considered that the Crystal Palace was better adapted for the education of the working classes and the poor, than any other means that could be resorted to; and he prayed their Lordships, therefore, that the Crystal Palace might be opened on Sunday, though not at such times as to interfere with divine service. He believed that exhibitions of this kind, would prove a great cheek on the temptations held out by the gin palaces, and would lead the lower classes to look to higher sources of enjoyment. He was shocked to perceive, from statistics lately published in Scotland, the extent to which this vicious habit was carried in that country. In Glasgow, the people began upon Saturday, and continued over Sunday immured in those receptacles of debauchery and immorality. In Edinburgh, a calculation had been made upon exact enumeration, and it had been found that upon one Sunday, the frightful number of 44,000 persons entered the doors of the public-houses in that city on the Lord's Day. Mr. Owen and others—for he was not singular in his views—were of opinion, that it would be impossible to devise a worse mode of keeping the Sabbath than at present, and that it would be far better and more useful if people would resort to such places as the Crystal Palace. He (Lord Brougham) had always been of opinion that the Crystal Palace was likely to be in other respects highly beneficial, and, above all, he was anxious to set up the Crystal Palace as a rival of the gin palace. The only question was, whether it ought to be opened on the Sunday. In favour of that view he had adduced the Scotch statistics, and he would only further mention the authority of the Rev. J. Griffith, the venerable incumbent of Aberdare, in North Wales, a parish in which there were more extensive mining operations carried on than in almost any other in the kingdom, and in which there were 16,000 workmen. That clergyman was a very great enemy to shutting up the Crystal Palace on the Sunday, except during divine service; and he was further in favour of Sunday trains, stating that, were it not for them, we should have ten times more Sabbath-breaking in this country than at present.

Petitions ordered to lie on the table.

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