HL Deb 22 February 1881 vol 258 cc1478-517

in rising to propose the following Resolution, of which he had given Notice on the subject:— That inasmuch as all opposition to the action of Her Majesty's Government in opening on Sundays the National Museums and Galleries in the suburban districts of London and in Dublin has entirely ceased owing to the good results which have followed such opening, this House is of opinion that the time has now arrived for extending this action to all institutions of a like character, it having been most conclusively shown that large numbers of the people rejoice at every opportunity that is afforded them of spending Sunday intelligently, and with due regard for its preservation as a day of rest and cessation from ordinary work and amusement, said, before addressing himself to its exact terms, he should like to say a few words about the general questions of the advisability of opening certain public institutions and places of innocent recreation on Sundays. It was a subject concerning which many erroneous opinions were entertained. He should not occupy the attention of the House at any great length. The matter was very fully gone into and explained in an admirable speech by his noble Friend (Lord Thurlow), in a debate which had taken place two years ago, and the arguments he used were, doubtless, still fresh in the memories of their Lordships. There appeared to be a fallacious idea prevalent that it was contrary to religion and detrimental to the proper observance of Sunday that the pub- lie should be allowed an opportunity of availing themselves on that day of certain forms of recreation, which not only were harmless in themselves, but which might be legitimately enjoyed on Sundays by all those who were rich enough to procure them in their own homes, thereby constituting, as it seemed to him, a distinct difference in the moral code as applicable to the rich and the poor man. This view of the case was very distinctly put forward not long ago by the noble and learned Earl the late Lord Chancellor (Earl Cairns). The noble and learned Earl was stated, in The Glasgow Herald and The Scotsman of December 1, 1880, to have said, in a letter to the Glasgow Working Men's Sabbath Protection Association, that the Sunday Society, one of the associations whose object it was to procure for the public the boon he was about to crave at their Lordship's hands, was not Directing its efforts to a consideration of the most fitting and beneficial mode of spending Sunday; but to An attack on that body of Scriptural and revealed truth which is our authority and guarantee not merely for our days of rest here, but for those priceless hopes and promises of which our Sunday is but the type and emblem. Now, he was not there to defend the action of any society; but being connected with the association alluded to, he might be permitted to take exception to that statement of the noble and learned Earl. He would have nothing to do with any organization such as the noble and learned Earl described the Sunday Society to be. The ends and objects of the society were entirely, though, doubtless, unintentionally, misrepresented by the noble and learned Earl. That some supporters of the movement for opening certain public buildings on Sundays might entertain very different views on religious subjects from those held by the noble and learned Earl might be very true. That did not affect the propriety of the movement. As for himself, he (the Earl of Dun-raven) wished it to be distinctly understood—and he believed he should be reflecting the opinion of those among their Lordships who would support the lie-solution before the House — that his object, and his only object, was that Sunday should be observed in a more fitting and beneficial manner than it was at present, and in a manner more conformable not only to what the noble and learned Earl described as "the teaching of Scriptural and revealed truth," but also to the precepts and opinions of the best men in the Church in every age. He was not going to enter upon a theological discussion. He had no intention of investigating the two distinct reasons assigned for the institution of the Jewish Sabbath, or of founding any arguments on the resemblance or difference between that institution and the Christian Sunday, or of showing the impossibility of carrying out some of the injunctions of the Jewish law of Sunday observance. He felt a deep and, he thought their Lordships would allow a pardonable, reluctance to intrude a theological discussion on the notice of the House. He preferred to deal with the more practical and political aspect of the question. He submitted that if the Sabbath was made for man, and, if as was certainly the case, the circumstances and requirements of human life were constantly changing, it might become necessary, from time to time, to modify and somewhat alter the details of Sabbath observance, in order that it might continue to be useful for man. He further submitted that, in making the desired alteration, they were not embarking on a new course, but were merely reverting to a better state of things that formerly existed. He did not wish to argue the case. He would rather leave it to their Lordships' consciences to decide whether the principle he advocated was not in accordance with the spirit of Christianity, whether it was not strictly in accordance with all that they knew of the original doctrines and teachings of that religion, and whether it did not agree with the examples and writings of all the most eminent men in the Early, the Mediæval, and in the Reformed Church down to the time of the great Puritan movement in this country. There, he granted, they came into collision. He admitted that the principle be spoke for was opposed to the opinions of many eminent Puritan divines, as expressed more than 200 years ago in the "Westminster Confessions." Here, also, he should abstain from discussion of a controversial nature. He took his stand on the ground that the Puritan ideal had proved visionary and unattainable, and their method of Sunday ob- servance had been tried and failed, and that failure had resulted in very evil consequences to the country. The idea of those very earnest and religious divines was that hard-worked men, tired, dispirited, disappointed men, could attain all the rest they required for mind or body by absolute inaction or religious exercises. They deemed it possible to bind the very thoughts of men. Their theory was summed up in the sentence that— The Sabbath is kept holy when men not only observe a holy rest from their own works, words, and thoughts, but are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercise of worship. They thought that men could be refreshed sufficiently to enable them to encounter cheerfully another week of toil without turning for an instant, even on the Day of Rest, to any of those innocent and pleasurable occupations to which the good sense of the English people applied the very significant word "recreations." He had nothing to say against Puritanism. It did much good in many ways. It swept away many abuses, purged the nation of much that was evil; but as far as Sunday observance was concerned it went too far. It strove for the unattainable; it laid a burden on men too heavy for them to bear. It mistook human nature, and asked from it impossibilities, and the result had been bad. There was nothing to be said against the Puritan ideal, except that it was impracticable. It was a very lofty and a very noble one; too noble and too high for ordinary human beings. The Puritans had tried to make men climb to heights which men could not reach, and the result had been that they had ceased to climb at all. If it was so difficult for men to attain that high standard 200 years ago, it was infinitely more difficult now, when the struggle of life was becoming harder, and the necessity for true rest and recreation was becoming more and more apparent. Let their Lordships but consider the circumstances of the life of a hard-worked man, who could have but few resources in his own home. He (the Earl of Dunraven) was not one of those who imagined that what were called the "upper classes" led lives of indolence and passed through this world free of care. Probably many of their Lordships worked as hard as any men, and much harder than most men. He appealed to them to consider what the value of Sunday as a day of rest would be without the opportunities of enjoyment afforded by comfortable homes, without the facilities they enjoyed of obtaining change of scene, of varying their employment, of distracting their thoughts from harassing subjects, and resting the brain—not by absolute inaction, which was intolerable, but by a change of occupation, which was real repose. What was the poor man to do? How was he to break the monotony of his life? Whore could he go on Sunday? It might certainly be said that in summer he could occasionally make an excursion into the country, than which nothing could be better for him; but summer time was short, and even in simmer how many Sundays were there in this capricious climate that did not invite them to the enjoyment of a ramble in the country? And they must not forget that to get into the country from the heart of this gigantic city was a matter involving considerable time, trouble, and expense. But in winter, on wet and miserable Sundays, what was the poor man to do? He could tramp about our dirty and gloomy streets, and if tired of that exhilarating pastime there was not a single place where he could sit down and rest himself in-doors in the shelter, or, for the matter of that, out-of-doors in the wet. True, he could sit at home. That might be well enough for men and women who could remove themselves in their own homes from household troubles and all the thousand petty worries of life; who could have about them all the luxuries and enjoyments that money could buy. But it was not enough for the poor, whose homes were, of necessity, in many cases sordid and wretched in the extreme. They had no resources at home; they could not fill their rooms with flowers or works of art; they could not turn to well filled book-shelves for relief; they could not devote themselves to religious thought, if so minded, in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere surrounded by objects soothing to the senses. The poor could get no variety, no change of thought or occupation at home. Everything reminded them of the inevitable troubles of life. It was a necessity for them to be removed, if only for an hour or two, from the evidences of the hardships of life; to be taken away from the contemplation of their every-day existence. To such men a clay of rest was essential. Now, Sunday might become to them an inestimable blessing if they were permitted to use it as they might wish, properly and intelligently; if they wore allowed to get what rest and comfort, and consolation, and change, and renewed vigour of mind and body, they could from real repose, from innocent recreations indulged in after the hours which ought to be devoted to worship and religious exercises, and not be compelled to spend the day in absolute idleness. But the present Sunday, as it existed, was not the blessing it ought to be to a great number of people, and it was unsatisfactory to the more intelligent of the working classes. As it existed now, it offered a premium on stupidity. The more ignorant a man was the more likely he would be to be satisfied with the present Sunday, and to be contented with absolute inaction, modified by beer. The more intelligent the man the more he would desire to forget his every-day life in some harmless and pleasant occupation. It was the natural instinct of men to do so, and we forbade them. The poor man had nowhere to go, no-whore except the public-house; and we wondered that he availed himself of his only opportunity. Why was it that of all civilized nations we English spent our holidays in the least civilized manner? He was ashamed to say so; but he did say so, for he knew it to be true; and he thought no object was to be gained by shirking such disagreeable subjects. Such of their Lordships as had travelled on the Continent, and he might probably say all their Lordships who had observed the manners and customs of any of their neighbours—say, of those nearest to us in race and religion, the Germans —had, he felt very sure, been forced to contrast unfavourably the conduct of Englishmen with other nations in their method of spending a holiday. Whose fault was that? It was our fault. It was their Rulers, not the people themselves, that were to blame. We English Were not more coarse by nature than other people; but our customs, our mistaken views, tended to make us so. Our climate, especially in winter, compelled us to seek for occupation or enjoyment to a great extent in-doors. On Sundays, on the weekly day of rest, the public-house was the only place in-doors to which the public had access. To be allowed the friendly shelter of the gin-palace they must drink, and drink frequently, and to excess. Drink, strong drink, and too much of it, was the only alternative between the cold and dismal street and, perhaps, an unhappy, certainly a very humble, and, too often, a very squalid home. The consequence was that drink and the Sunday had become so very intimately associated in the minds of the people that the idea of a rest from labour, of a break in the monotony of their lives, of a holiday of any kind, had become identified with drink. He did not intend to expatiate upon the evils of intemperance. No doubt, their Lordships acknowledged the greatness of the evil. As Science taught us more and more about ourselves, we began to see more clearly the truth of the words that the sins of the fathers were visited on the children. We began to recognize that if, generation after generation, a large number of human beings drank to excess, in time a marked effect must be produced upon the physical characteristics and upon the actual brainpower of the people, and, consequently, upon their ability to wield wisely and well the political responsibilities intrusted to them. It might be said that the opening of such places as Museums would do but little to check intemperance. He denied this. He believed it would do a great deal. At any rate, let the experiment be tried. He was not in favour of interference with individual freedom in such matters, but he was in favour of free trade. He did not believe in State interference, or in attempting to compel people to be temperate or to abstain. He was not talking of closing places of refreshment; but he objected strongly to protecting public-houses by insisting that they should be the only places to which a poor man should have access on Sundays. But, even if it were true that it would do but a little good, at any rate let them do that little. Let them give the people an opportunity of obtaining innocent recreation in-doors on Sundays—let them give them the option between public-houses and public buildings of another kind; let them break up a state of things which associated the idea of a holiday with intemperance; lot them take away what ought to be a stinging reproach to us as a Christian people, that the Sunday, which was meant for all, which was most needed by those who worked the hardest and whose lot was the hardest, could be enjoyed as a day of real rest only by the few, only by the rich, only by those who needed it least among us. Let them throw upon the people the responsibility of their actions, that they might not be able to turn upon them and say—"You who ought to direct and advise us, you shut the door in our faces, you drive us into the public-houses, and on your shoulders do the consequences rest." There was another reason why he urged them to look favourably on the Resolution before the House—that was, that in throwing open such buildings as the British and South Kensington Museums on Sundays, they were not only granting a benefit to the people, but giving them their just rights. They were supported by the Public Funds, and all who paid for such institutions had an undoubted, undisputed right to use them. But it was a right from which many of our poorer fellow-countrymen were practically debarred. Sunday offered the only opportunity they had. They left their work too late on week-day evenings, and Saturday half-holidays were useless for such a purpose. By the time a man could get home from his work, had washed and dressed, and eaten his dinner, it was too late and too dark in winter time for him to visit Museums. Besides, there were purchases to be made, and many things to be done on Saturday afternoon which could not and ought not to be done on the Sunday. It was not right that the poor should be called upon to contribute towards the maintenance of an institution which was, practically speaking, reserved for the exclusive benefit of their richer fellow-countrymen. That was a grievance that surely ought to be redressed. What would it necessitate? It would require the employment of a few people on Sundays. That was, he admitted, a difficulty; but it was a difficulty of microscopic dimensions, and one that would kick the beam if placed in the balance along with the advantages to be gained. Whatever their views of Sunday observance might be, they must admit that the question of labour was settled with a view to the convenience of the multitude. Excursion trains were allowed to run on Sundays, and all kinds of work was done because it was necessary, or not even because it was necessary, but because it was for the convenience of the mass of the people. Besides, what was right in one place could not be wrong in another. If it was not wrong for officials to be employed at Kew or Hampton Court, it was hard to imagine how or why it could be wrong in other places of a similar nature. Such buildings would be open only during the afternoon, and the employes would not be prevented from attending Divine Service if they wished. Besides, the consequences to the employes could be largely modified by slightly increasing the number, so as to give them a holiday, if not on Sunday, at least on some other day of the week. There was a good deal of nonsense talked about the extra amount of labour that would be required. Why, one-half or one-quarter of the staff employed by one newspaper on Sundays, to enable it to be produced on Monday morning, would do all that was necessary to enable the hard-worked artizan and working man to enjoy a little well-earned and much-desired recreation on their Day of Best in visiting these places. In fact, the number of cabs employed on Sunday morning in driving ministers of religion from one place to another would very far out-number the employes who would be required to keep open the Galleries and Museums of the Metropolis on that day. He would beg of their Lordships to remember that in agreeing to the Resolution they were not pledging themselves in favour of a system regarding which we had no experience. Look at other Protestant countries, at Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, and Switzerland. We found that in all these countries public institutions devoted to Science and Art were open on Sundays, and the results were good. In Berlin we find a Museum and a National Gallery; Brunswick, a Museum; Dresden, three Museums and a Picture Gallery; Copenhagen, three Museums and a Picture Gallery; Stockholm, a National Museum; Christiania, three Museums and a Picture Gallery; The Hague, a Museum of Antiquities; Amsterdam, a Museum and Picture Gallery; Geneva, two Museums; Berne, a Museum; Basle, a Museum and Picture Gallery. In the United States they had Public Libraries open on Sunday at Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Worcester. But while these privileges wore enjoyed by our neighbours, it was in England alone that we found them withheld from the people. In England we had also to lament a want of artistic feeling and taste among our artizans, which told greatly to their disadvantage, and we would gladly see more of that humanizing sentiment which enabled people to enjoy themselves soberly, quietly, and rationally in their holidays. He did not anticipate any great and immediate change would follow upon granting to England the same privileges that all other Protestant countries enjoyed. But he believed an improvement in the tone and taste of the people would gradually be brought about. The effect on the present generation might not be great; but it would soon show itself on the plastic, impressionable minds of children. The experiment had been tried in England, and wherever such trial had been made the results had been excellent. In London and the immediate neighbourhood the people now had free admission on Sundays to Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens and Museum, the Royal Military College, Greenwich, and Free Libraries at Notting Hill and Kennington. In the Provinces we had a Public Lbrary at Birmingham; the National Gallery, Natural History Museum, and Botanical Gardens at Dublin; no less than five Libraries and Reading Rooms at Manchester; and Free Libraries at Middlesborough and Wigan. In addition to these free institutions, we had the following open to subscribers and shareholders, Fellows, or members:—The Alexandra Palace, the Crystal Palace, the Royal Botanical Society's Gardens and Museum, the Royal Horticultural Society's Gardens, the Zoological Gardens; at Belfast, Royal Botanic Gardens; Dublin, Zoological Gardens; Manchester, Royal Botanical Gardens and the Athenæum; Sheffield, St. George's Museum; Stratford-on-Avon, the Shakespeare Museum. The public also had been freely admitted by ticket, procurable from the Sunday Society, to the organ recitals at the Albert Hall, occasionally to the Grosvenor Gallery, and to various private Galleries in London. In none of these places had any complaint been made. The result had been good. The words of the Resolution were perfectly applicable. In one instance only had any public attempt been made to close a Museum that had once been opened on Sunday, which augured well for the success of the movement. This occurred at Maidstone; but the decision was arrived at by the majority of a new committee, who did not raise the question of Sunday opening when seeking election, and gave the inhabitants no opportunity of expressing an opinion on the subject. This attempt was only made after public Notice of the Resolution now before their Lordships had been given; and within three days of the decision of the committee being known, one of the largest meetings ever held at Maidstone strongly condemned the committee for their hasty and uncalled for action in this matter. On Sunday last the Museum was again open, and stops having been taken to count the number of people attending, it was found to be 481 between the hours of 2 and 5. The meeting in Maidstone not only protested against the closing of the Museum on Sundays, but almost unanimously adopted a Petition, which had been presented to their Lordships. The chief reason for granting this boon of Sunday opening of Museums and similar institutions was, that it was ardently desired by a great number of the most intelligent of the working classes. He did not say that great monster meetings had been held, or a vast agitation set on foot; but their Lordships would recollect that on Sunday, May 7, 1876, 25,000 working men marched in orderly array to the British Museum and demanded admission; and, he might remind them that during the last 20 years many Petitions from various working men's clubs had, from time to time, been presented to both Houses of Parliament. Their Lordships would have seen from the public papers that on Tuesday last the Sunday Society decided to issue a letter for signature, asking the Prime Minister to receive a deputation with reference to the expense of opening the British Museum on Sundays. Since the issue of that letter, just one week ago, it had received some 2,000 signatures from members of the Professions of the Law, Science, Art, Members of the Legislature and of learned societies, and including the chief magistrates of 65 towns, and 268 clergymen. It was forwarded to the Prime Minister that day. The best proof that a change was desirable lay in the fact that whenever private institutions, or institutions belonging to municipal bodies, bad been thrown open on Sundays, the attendance had been very good. The Albert Hall organ recitals had secured an average attendance of 3,000. The Royal Manchester Institution was visited on 11 Sundays by 51,000 people, and the Manchester Libraries gave admission during the year 1879 to 125,000 persons, or an average of about 2,500 weekly. There was an average attendance at the Dramatic Fine Art Gallery, New Bond Street, of 550 persons for three Sundays in the summer of 1879, and on the fourth Sunday it increased to At the Grosvenor Gallery Winter Exhibition, March 23 and 30, 1879, 3,000 persons attended. At the Summer Exhibitions, July 27 and August 3, about the same number were admitted, and on March 14, 1880, it was visited by 707 persons. These figures were, in his judgment, amply sufficient to show how much men craved to satisfy what was becoming a necessity of our lives. England was, of all countries in the world, the one in which it was especially necessary that the poor should be provided with the means of innocent recreation in-doors. Millions of Englishmen were absolutely divorced from Nature. Their lives were spent cooped up in large cities, breathing foul smoke instead of pure air, surrounded by dismal sights, and enveloped in a gloomy, dull, depressing atmosphere. They laboured underground in mines. They worked all day in factories. They dwelt in districts grimy, denuded of all natural beauty by foul gases and the smoke of countless chimneys. The lives and occupations of millions of Englishmen tended to sharpen their wits, to make them dissatisfied with mere idleness as a relaxation; and their surroundings were such that they were debarred from the enjoyment of Nature and her works. Our position as a great hive of human beings, as a great trading and mauufacturing nation, entailed this penalty upon us, and we did nothing to alleviate it. On the contrary, we who, of all nations needed it most, alone deprived the population of the privilege of obtaining a little in-door recreation on their days of rest. What harm could the relaxation of the rules regulating Sunday observance which they asked for possibly do? There was not the slightest danger that the Continental method of working observance of Sundays would be introduced into this country. There was no reason whatever for supposing that admission to such places of innocent and instructive recreation as Art Galleries, or museums, or libraries would lead to a clamour for the opening of places of a very different character, devoted to mere amusement. Surely we might place some reliance upon men whom we considered fit to exercise the privilege of choosing their Representatives in Parliament. How could we say that men upon whose shoulders the responsibility for the conduct of the affairs of this country ultimately rested, wore incapable of forming an opinion as to the relative fitness of things, and could not discern the differ-once between, say, the South Kensington Museum and a dancing saloon, as a place to which a man might go with his wife and children to spend an hour or two on Sunday afternoons? Were we to suppose that Englishmen had no sense of decency, no ideas of propriety, no reverence for the Sunday, no self-respect, or respect for the feelings of other people? He should be ashamed to think so meanly of his countrymen. As to labour, he believed on the Continent the tendency was towards less and less work on Sundays; and he was sure they saw no signs in this country of any disposition on the part of working men to increase the number of working hours in the week. On the contrary, the tendency was in the other direction. The workmen did not ask to work on Sundays; they did not want to work on Sundays. Their Lordships must allow people to be themselves the best judges of what they wanted. If there was the slightest danger of introducing a working Sunday, if the working classes showed the faintest desire to labour at their usual avocations on Sunday, be would combat that inclination to the best of his ability, for be held that a day of rest and recreation was absolutely essential to the well-being of the nation. That was what they ought to have, and that was what they had not got. They had not got a day of rest, but only a day of irksome idleness. A day of real rest and recreation was what they asked for, and to say that when a man petitioned for leave to rest himself rationally, he was, in reality, asking for leave to labour, appeared to him to be absurd. The two things were so distinct, rest and work, recreation and plodding labour, so entirely contradicted each other, that he could not understand how any man could suppose that, in allowing the one, there was the slightest danger that a desire for the other might follow. He could fully sympathize with the jealousy with which working men looked upon their Sunday; but he could not symrpathize with them in their groundless fears that their day of rest would be done away with by giving effect to the proposal before the House. The danger lay exactly in the opposite direction. In proportion as people grew more intelligent and were better educated, so did the present Sunday become unsatisfactory to them. So long as Sunday answered the desires of the people, so long would they respect and reverence it, and regard it as a day of rest; but when it ceased to fulfil that condition, then came the danger of a revolt against it which might deprive us of it altogether. The question of working on Sundays was in the hands of the working men; as long as they did not want to work, there was no possibility of their being compelled to do so. He appealed to their Lordships' common sense to say whether there was anything in the Resolution likely to alter the opinions of working men in this respect. Make the Sunday a real day of rest, and they would never see a desire to do away with it. Leave it as it was, and they need not be surprised if those to whom it was utterly unsatisfactory preferred working to doing nothing on what had ceased to be with them a day of rest. He honestly believed that the idea of a working Sunday was a mere phantom of the imagination. The two things—rest and labour—wore so diametrically opposed to each other, that he could not see how anyone should suppose that in granting the one, there was the slightest danger of Parliament being called upon to grant the other. Therefore, the idea that permitting people to rest themselves could eventuate in the abolition of a day of rest, and that the encouragement of innocent recreation would result in the extinction of recreation, was a most extraordinary delusion. He had attempted to show, and he hoped he had succeeded, if over so little, in showing that the concession he asked for was earnestly desired by a great number of the most intelligent members of what were commonly described as the working classes, and by many of those best acquainted with the wishes and requirements of these classes; that the principle involved worked well in all other Protestant countries and had produced good results wherever it had been tried in England; that it did not contain even the germ of any principle hostile to Sunday as a day of rest, likely to lead to the toleration of work on Sundays, or to inculcate in the minds of the people habits and desires incompatible with the sacred aspect of Sunday; that whereas it might do much good, it could not possibly do any harm to anyone. Let them not forget that he was asking them to record the opinion of that House in favour of a purely permissive measure. There was no intention to compel any man to do that which was contrary to his conscience. He merely asked that men should be allowed to do that which seemed right in their eyes and which, in their opinion, contributed to their physical and moral well-being, and which, at the same time, could not be an outrage to the feelings of any other man. He asked them for a slight extension of the principle of toleration, of that great principle which allowed every man in this free country to follow the dictates of his own conscience, and to rule and develope his life according as he thought best for himself, provided that his conduct did not interfere with the well-being of the community. There were, no doubt, many excellent people who were opposed to the principle he advocated; but they could not say that its adoption would inflict any grevious injury upon them. They would not ask their Lordships to suppose that the happiness and peace of mind of those artizans who did not wish to visit Museums on Sundays would be seriously imperilled if those who differed from them were allowed to exercise their right of private judgment in the matter. Was it not hard that men earnestly de-siring this benefit, and feeling that the Sunday did not, under existing restrictions, afford them the rest they needed, or meet the requirements of their nature, should be deprived of innocent recreation, that they should not be allowed to instruct themselves, that they should be forbidden to indulge in perfectly harmless occupations merely because the method in which they wished to realize their day of rest was contrary to the prejudices or, if their Lordships liked, the principles of other men that they should do so? If the change was calculated to benefit those who wished for it, without in any way affecting those who objected to it, he maintained that, if it was desired even by a very few people, it should be granted. All he asked for was an. extension—a very slight extension—of the principle of toleration—that people should be allowed to judge for themselves in the matter. This country had always upheld the right of individual and private judgment in matters of this kind, provided one's action was not prejudicial to the interests or happiness of the people. Such an extension could inflict no injury on any man. It would be hailed as a blessing by many. He asked their Lordships once more to bear in mind the condition of the poor in our huge cities, to think of their dull unlovely lives, and to consider whether a little innocent healthy recreation on their only day of leisure would not be an inestimable benefit to them. He asked them whether taxpayers had not a right to the use of their own National Buildings, and whether they were not practically debarred from the exercise of that right. He asked them to give to the poor an opportunity of enjoying in the contemplation of works of Art and of the mysteries of Nature a form of innocent and instructive recreation now almost exclusively reserved to the rich. He asked them to do away as far as possible with class distinctions in this respect, and to give to the poor, in the way proposed, the benefits and advantages which the rich could secure for themselves in their own homes. He had to thank their Lordships for the patience with which they had listened to him. He felt very deeply his inability to put the matter before them as he should wish; but, after all, his inefficiency did not much signify, for the question commended itself to their Lordships of itself, and the benefits were patent on the face of it. It rested with their Lordships to say whether in their opinion those benefits ought to be granted or withheld. The Members of that House had ever shown themselves most solicitous for the welfare and happiness of their fellow-countrymen, and he left the matter with the greatest confidence in their Lordships' hands. The noble Earl concluded by moving his Resolution.

Moved to resolve, That inasmuch as all opposition to the action of Her Majesty's Government in opening on Sundays the National Museums and Galleries in the suburban districts of London and in Dublin has entirely ceased owing to the good results which have followed such opening, this House is of opinion that the time has now arrived for extending this action to all institutions of a like character, it having been most conclusively shown that large numbers of the people rejoice at every opportunity that is afforded them of spending Sunday intelligently, and with due regard for its preservation as a day of rest and cessation from ordinary work and amusement. —(The Earl of Dunraven.)


My Lords, many thousands in all the great towns of the country await with anxiety the decision of your Lordships on this question. I entirely deny the very bold statement in the Motion proposed by the noble Earl, that all opposition to the action of Her Majesty's Government in opening on Sundays the National Museums and Galleries in the suburban districts of London and Dublin has entirely ceased, owing to the good results which have followed such opening. Why, this very day I presented Petitions from Hampton Court, Greenwich, and Kew, signed by 2,600 persons, and praying that the Museums and Galleries should not be opened on the Lord's Day. Again, the Motion says that large numbers of people rejoice at every opportunity that is afforded them of spending Sunday in the Museums and Galleries. My Lords, I venture to assert, on the contrary, that never have the earnestness and activity against the movement advocated by the noble Earl been so intense as at present. It was only on the 8th instant that the intention of the noble Earl to bring his Motion forward became known to the public, and since then very many thousands of persons have petitioned against it. Within the last few days I have myself presented to your Lordships Petitions against this proposal signed by 58,000 persons, besides other Petitions lately, which would bring the number of signatures up to 70,000 at least. Those Petitions represented the feelings of millions. There is a very strong feeling both amongst the Nonconformists and Church people in this country against the opening of such places on Sundays. The Wesleyans, comprising a body of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 of people, have intrusted mo with a Petition from their Conference against the proposal of the noble Lord. When it was suggested, some short time ago, that the Bethnal Green Museum should he opened on Sundays, the working people in the immediate neighbourhood, to the number of 84,000, signed a Petition with a directly contrary prayer. So that the first proposition of the noble Lord, that all opposition to the opening of these places on Sunday has ceased, is untenable. The next point of the noble Lord is that the opening of Museums and Galleries in Provincial towns on Sundays, so far as it has been tried, has proved a success. This I dispute. Is it not a fact that, as compared with the number of inhabitants who might have been expected to go to these Museums and Galleries on Sundays, the attendance is very small? But I will not, however, insist upon that point, because I admit that if on Sunday, or on any other day, you open any place of amusement, hundreds and thousands will be found to go there, especially if admission be gratis. But, my Lords, the movement for opening these Museums and Galleries on Sunday has failed altogether in the grand purpose for which it was first started. It was urged by its advocates "Only open these Museums and Galleries and you will fill them, while you will empty the pot-houses and taverns." That was a very taking argument, and many persons were induced to support the movement under the notion that it would wean the people from low haunts. I will undertake to say that all the Returns which can be adduced on the subject will not show that of all the regular tavern-goers one single man has been seduced from his haunts by the opening of these Galleries and Museums. I am certain that it would be perfectly possible to open these Galleries and Museums on Sunday within a stone's throw of the great centres of population without finding the frequenters of one public-house deserting it in order to regale themselves with statues and pictures. Again, many of the persons who visited those Collections on Sunday might have gone on any other day; but they did not choose to do so. Sunday was an idle day with them, and they, no doubt, went there in great numbers; but they were not of the par- ticular class whom you wish to rescue from the temptations of the gin-palace or the pot-house. It is very well to have grandiose ideas about the enlargement of the human mind and the development of the intellectual faculties of the people; but there are other points to be kept in view, because there are other human beings to be considered besides those who desire to go about to see statues and pictures on Sunday. I plead, my Lords, for a very large class of over-worked, toil-worn men; and, if you open your Galleries and Museums on Sunday you will greatly multiply the number of wretched victims—cab-drivers, omnibus men, tram-car men, railway officials, and other men, to say nothing of the attendants at these places of Science—who will have to work on that that Day of Best. Are these classes not entitled to be thought of as well as the people of leisure who wish to indulge their taste for Science and Art? The amount of additional toil which you would thus impose on these men is dreadful to contemplate. But, my Lords, once you enter upon the course which you are now invited to take, where will you stop? You will not open these Museums and Galleries only. You speak of the public instruction which these places will afford. Are there no other places to which that reasoning would equally apply? Look, for instance, at the Aquariums which exist in various localities— the Crystal Palace, for instance. May they not also be called places of instruction? And why should they not be open on Sunday as well as other institutions? It may be said that they are private property, and that admission to them is paid for. But, though paid for, is the instruction to be obtained there less good if it were not paid for? Nay, if purchased it might be more valued. Therefore, on the same ground, every one of these institutions might be opened on Sunday. Neither would it be possible on this reasoning, to close the theatres. You often hear it argued that the theatre is one of the very best schools of public instruction; and I have no doubt it might be made to a great extent a school for education of some sort; and, on this ground, all plea for resistance is taken away. Every other place of public amusement and public resort must follow in the wake of Museums and Picture Galleries. In opening these places of amusement on the Lord's Day, what do you propose to do? You hope thereby to secure for this country an orderly population. Well, go through the City of Paris on Sunday, and what do you find? You will see that which must cut anyone to the heart. The factories, shops, and streets are filled with labouring men as though it were a week-day, and every kind of ordinary employment is pursued on the Lord's Day. Masons, bricklayers, carpenters, are engaged on vast buildings. Well, the Picture Galleries and Museums have been open on Sunday for years and years to the working population of Paris; and yet the very men to whom these places are accessible for the cultivation of their minds, the training of the heart, and the elevation of the human being, are the very class of men who burnt the Hotel de Ville and the Tuilleries, disgraced the Place Vendome, and committed every form of excess. So much, then, for the influence of Science and Art on Sunday upon the cultivation and improvement of the mind of a people. Sunday is a day so sacred, so important, so indispensable to man that it ought to be hedged round by every form of reverence. Its adaptability to the wants and necessities of the individuals of society, the wisdom of its institution, proves it to be Divine; and, my Lords, the working people of this country—the great bulk of the working people—regard it in the light of a Great Charter. They differ, no doubt, many of them as to its origin. Some take a deeply religious view of the matter; others take a more political view of it; but all are of this mind, that the sanctity of Sunday is to them a grand protection. You may hear it from their own lips repeatedly, if you consult them, and they affirm that it is their only protection against being compelled to perform, in times of difficulty, seven days' work for six days' wages. It is a great thing to encourage in these men, particularly in these days of uncertainty and of change, a belief that they can trust in anything that is now established. There is a great change coming over your population. The feeling of reverence is declining very fast. The last spark of reverence with them is reverence for the Lord's Day. Extinguish that spark, my Lords, and you will soon have a generation of men in mind and in action very different indeed from their British forefathers. The noble Earl concluded by moving an Amendment of which he had given Notice.

Amendment moved, To leave out from the words ("inasmuch as") in line one to the end of the motion in order to add the words ("a Select Committee of the House of Commons on Public Institutions having reported on the 27th of March 1860,' that such Institutions as the British Museum and the National Gallery should be opened on week day evenings to the public between the hours of seven and ten in the evening at least three days in the week,' this House is of opinion that the time has arrived when this recommendation should be carried out.")—(The Earl of Shaftesbury.)


who was imperfectly heard, said, that he had no desire to go at any length into the large question which had been brought before their Lordships by the noble Earl (the Earl of Dunraven). He must say, however, that the present state of things was far from satisfactory to the working classes. New thoughts and new desires were being brought to their minds, and they were told that they should learn Natural History and many other things. But how were their wants met in that respect? The fact was, that on the very day when they could conveniently gratify their desires for knowledge, they found the door shut to them. The noble Earl who had just spoken had said that the working man might go in the evening to these public institutions from 7 till 10. He should like to know how the working man was to go after his work? Was he to go and dress himself and take his wife and children? It was clear that his domestic arrangements would not allow of such a course. But he would do so on Sundays. Wore not the steamers crowded on that day with men, women, and children, in search of fresh air and innocent recreation? In his opinion, it would have been better if the Resolution had been met by a direct negative rather than by such an Amendment as that proposed. He did not see why, with proper precautions, the working classes should not be allowed to visit the British Museum. As a Trustee of the British Museum he could take no official part in opening it on Sundays, The Trustees had no right to take part in such a proceeding, and could express no opinion one way or the other. But he thought the advantage of opening some part of the Museum would be very great—for example, the Natural History Department; he could not see anything irreligious in that. The working men might go there on Sunday afternoon. They liked to go in their Sunday dress. If they were allowed to go in their Sunday attire, with their wives and children, they would do so with great pleasure. What was the working man to do on Sunday? After he had been to church in the morning, what was he to do? He saw no reason why in the afternoon he should not be allowed to see the pictures of the great men of the past, and visit the Natural History and Mineralogical collections in the Museum. There might be some difficulty in details and some extra expense; but these questions could be easily arranged. A few policemen would sufficiently keep order. But the Library could not with advantage be opened, as this would require the attendance of the officers of the Museum, and the work of supplying the readers with books could not be performed by any substituted assistants. Besides, the Library was not the place for recreation, but for hard study. But with that exception he thought that the Museum might, with great advantage, be opened on Sundays. He should vote for the Motion; but if it was carried, he should wish to limit it, so that it might not interfere with the proper functions and duties of the Sunday.


My Lords, the noble Duke who has just sat down has made almost precisely the same remarks which I heard on a former occasion. It appears to me extraordinary that the noble Duke should not wish the Library of the British Museum opened on Sunday, if the other departments are opened. I should have thought that the Library, of all places, was that which might most innocently be used by the working classes on Sundays. It seems to me strange that the Galleries which contain so many precious works of Art are to be loft open to be visited by those largo numbers who are supposed to be so anxious to rush into the British Museum while the Library is to be closed. That is my primary objection to the noble Duke's speech. But there is another and greater objection. We are called upon to affirm a number of abstract propositions. They may be true, or they may be false. But it is rather hard that, by a vote of this House, we should be asked to commit ourselves to a number of propositions the truth or falsehood of which is extremely doubtful. Whether the proposition of the noble Earl opposite or that of the noble Earl behind me is correct, between the two it is rather hard that we should be called upon to pronounce that either is correct or incorrect. I must, however, acknowledge that nothing could be more likely to conciliate the votes of those among your Lordships who are opposed to him than the manner in which the noble Earl introduced his Resolution. That what he said was the expression of his own deliberate convictions was evident in every word he spoke, and nothing could exceed the moderation with which he approached this difficult question. But, my Lords, notwithstanding the arguments which he used and the touching way in which he appealed to your Lordships, and pointed out how different was your position in the enjoyment of your comfortable and wealthy homes from the position of the poor, who are called upon to spend their Sundays without these advantages—notwithstanding all this, I cannot but think that I, for one, should act very wrongly in giving my vote in favour of this Resolution. Surely, my Lords, the proper way of settling this somewhat difficult and embarrassing question is to appeal to those who have the management of these various institutions, who know what are the difficulties which stand in the way, to decide this question. It is hardly fair, in my opinion, that the House of Lords should be called upon to pronounce upon a difficult question of this kind without any practical Resolutions being placed before us. If the noble Earl had brought in a Bill, we should have known where we were; but merely to say in the abstract that we should affirm this general proposition, which is very doubtful, is, I think, hardly what we are entitled to expect. My Lords, the lines which enclose religious and moral obligations are always very fine. It is a dangerous thing in any country, even if mistaken views of religious and moral obligation have been widely spread, to tamper with the general sentiment of the country. We cannot possibly know when these lines have been broken through what will follow. The noble Earl has told us that it is a very little request which he makes of us. But if it is so small a matter, why does be come to the highest branch of the Legislature to make assertions in favour of it? Why does he not go to those who have the management of these various institutions? The working men, notwithstanding the disparagement of their position which we have heard, do not seem greatly to desire this boon. I should like to know why the opinion of the 2,000 eminent artists and men of science of which we have heard is to be taken in opposition to that of the 58,000 artizans mentioned by the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury). I think the persons who advocate this change should make their sentiments felt in the particular localities where these Museums exist, and the persons who manage these various institutions will be better able to decide than your Lordships how far such a request can be granted. Besides, more or less throughout the country there has been an appeal made to the managers of these various institutions. There has been placed in my hands a list of some eight or ten different places in which the question has been fairly argued by those who know the circumstances of these various Museums and Galleries. As far as I can understand, there are only three places besides Maidstone in which it has been resolved that they should be opened. The noble Earl says that the ease of Maidstone should be thrown aside as of no importance. Maidstone being in my diocese, I have some acquaintance with it. There the Museum was opened on Sundays for several years. But it was found by the people of the town that it was being employed for the most part as a mere rendezvous for the young men and women of the place. The result was that the Museum Committee held a meeting, and by a majority it was determined that it should be closed. That took place in a town which is not generally supposed to be under the influence of any religious sect or body. It is of no use telling us that a large number of persons have petitioned against its being closed; the fact that the opening has been tried for three years, and failed, is a better test. I, therefore, think the case of Maidstone is not to be ignored, and that the example of all those other towns in which an appeal has been made to the governing body that they ought to open their institutions, and in which they have refused to do so, is entitled to great weight, as showing that those who are best acquainted with the circumstances of the case are of opinion that the request of the noble Earl should not be granted. I cannot dismiss from my mind the vast number of Petitions which have been presented by working men. I want to know why these working classes themselves show so little desire to have these places open. I believe that it arises from that which the noble Earl opposite has pointed out—that they are convinced that if in great towns these institutions were opened on Sunday, there would be danger in the future of the Day of Rest being taken from them. And though we may ridicule the idea of there being any connection between persons who desire especially rest to enjoy themselves in a healthful and salutary improvement of their minds on the Lord's Day, and those who wish to grind the poor and force them to work seven days instead of six, yet I think working men have some conviction in their minds that there is a connection between doing away with the present observance of the Lord's Day and introducing a more severe system of work than that which at present exists. My Lords, do we not live in an age in which the struggle for existence is every year becoming more intense? And it is impossible to suppose that there is not a vast number of persons now in the country who would desire to acquire some higher wages, and, therefore, would rather sacrifice this day for the purpose of obtaining higher wages than elevate their minds in the manner desired by the noble Earl. As to the case of Sunday trading, in which a great deal has been done of late years, does not all the evidence show that while there are persons most anxious to close their shops on Sunday and not engage any longer in Sunday trading, they are forced by the exigencies of their position to work as other and less scrupulous people around them; that a few persons who are regardless of their highest interests are the means of forcing those who would gladly rest to engage in work from which they wish to be relieved? These, my Lords, are a few of the very difficult matters involved in this question. I trust no one will think that those who oppose the noble Earl on this occasion are less sensible than he is of the privations to which the poor are liable, or less desirous to lend a helping hand to elevate the many poor families who are at present in a depressed position. But, my Lords, I think there are many ways in which, before we entertain the noble Earl's proposal, we may be of use. There is a large number of places of general recreation in the open air, and to enable a number of poor people to go to open places that are accessible in the summer, at least, is a great help to them. Who can have visited Battorsea Park or Victoria Park without seeing that a great deal has been done of late years for their comfort and elevation? Who, also, that knows what has been done to open places of innocent amusement during the week is not convinced that many of those who are most strenuously opposed to the opening of these places on Sundays are engaged as much as the noble Earl and all the scientifie men and artists who have signed the Petition of 2,000 can possibly be in desiring to elevate the position of the working classes? My Lords, I own the matter is difficult; but I venture to say that a remedy is not to be found in breaking down the barrier which has served us and our fathers for a great many years, and kept this country free from many evils. We do not know what might be the result if it were swept away. We are not to think worse of the English people because they are not capable of enjoying themselves in frivolities like the Parisians. Certainly, I do not think the English people are less happy because they venerate the Lord's Day. What the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) said about theatres I think must be allowed to have great force. If you once admitted the principle of this Resolution, I think it would be extremely difficult, indeed, to say that a well-regulated theatre is not. to be opened as it is in all the countries which the noble Earl has quoted; and yet I feel confident that neither you nor the working men of this country are prepared to approve a step which would so entirely alter the condition of England as the opening on Sunday of these places of recreation and instruction. I, therefore, feel compelled to resist the Motion of the noble Earl.


said, he would not have spoken on this subject had it not been for some remarks which fell from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Shaftesbury). Every opinion upon this or any other subject given by the noble Earl, who had deservedly gained the confidence of a large section of the working classes, must command their Lordships' respect; but throughout his speech, he (the Earl of Rosebery) did not discover that his assertions were entirely supported by any statistics which he brought forward. Any industrious organization could always get as many Petitions upon almost any subject as they desired. But the noble Earl, in alluding to the signatures to the Petition against opening Museums on Sundays in the Metropolis, between the end of January and the present time, only stated the number of the signatures to the Petition as 2,600, which was not a very brilliant result of the success of their organization. But there was one very large Petition from the outlying district of Bethnal Green in favour of the closing of the Bethnal Green Museum, the signatures to which were variously stated by the noble Earl opposite and the most rev. Prelate at from 60,000 to 80,000. But in such a case the remedy was easy. If those 80,000 persons who petitioned for the closing of the Bethnal Green Gallery did not like it they need not go there on Sundays; but he did not see that was any argument for shutting it up against those who did like it. He could hardly believe his ears when he heard it stated by the noble Earl that the opening of Picture Galleries and Museums was likely to end in the opening of shops and the general desecration of the Sabbath. He had visited the Aquarium at Brighton on Sundays, and confessed that he had witnessed none of the evils complained of. The labours of cab-horses, cab-drivers, and omnibuses were expatiated upon if these Galleries were opened on Sunday; but the point seemed to him to be that they would not require more cabs or omnibuses to take the people to Museums on Sundays than were at present employed. He (the Earl of Rosebery) remembered a speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) on this very subject, in which the noble Earl, who said he had just returned from Paris, announced his satisfaction that the opening of shops and the employment of workmen had greatly diminished there of late years. He himself had gone to the Louyre at Paris, on Sun- days on purpose to see the operations of this iniquity, and he had seen crowds of respectably dressed working men poisoning their minds — as he presumed the noble Earl would call it— by contemplating the masterpieces in those Galleries. The noble Earl had said that they had gone a little further, and had burnt down the Hotel do Ville and the Tuilleries. He could not imagine how the persons who had burnt down the Hotel de Ville could be identified with those who were in the habit of frequenting the Art Galleries of Paris; and he had not read a single line in the trials of the Communists which even suggested that those who had committed the outrages they were charged with were habitual attendants at those places. If history was to be appealed to, it would be found that there was a word or two to be said on the other side of the question. Some two or three centuries ago the Puritans began to try the remarkable experiment of making Sunday a miserable day; and it had been declared by a high authority that nothing had more largely conduced to the Restoration, and the immorality of the Restoration, than this practice of interfering with the amusements of the people on Sunday. The noble Earl had said that reverence for Sunday was declining fast in this country. He had no means of judging upon that point; but, if such were the case, it certainly was not due to the opening of Picture Galleries on Sundays, and it might be justly concluded that it was brought about by too strict an adherence to the opposite system. The most rev. Primate had said, in accents of anguish which still rang in their ears, that when the experiment of opening a Museum on Sunday was tried at Maidstone, the place was haunted by young men and women, who came there to pass the time. He did not see that they were greatly to blame for doing so, or that there was anything terrible in it; and the course taken by a packed meeting of the Town Council in shutting up the Museum on those days was condemned by a large and enthusiastic public meeting, which recorded an indignant protest against it. The noble Earl had said that, instead of our going to Museums on Sundays, people should go to Battersea Park or to Hyde Park. Well, but people did go to those places now. It was probably owing to our somewhat dreary Sabbath that working men were so fond of attending demonstrations in Hyde Park on a Sunday, and most likely two-thirds of them attended those demonstrations because they had nothing better to do on Sunday. What, however, was to happen to those who lived too far away from Battersea Park or from Hyde Park to walk there? They must either take omnibuses or ride in cabs to get there, and thus the labour of the omnibus drivers and of the cab drivers would be quintupled. Moreover, the suggestion that people should go to Battersea Park or to Hyde Park was scarcely consistent with things at the present time of the year, when the snow was often a foot deep and the atmosphere was in a state of extreme asperity. The noble Earl had asked the pertinent question—"Where are you to stop if you once begin; are you going to open the aquariums, and the theatres, and other profligate places of amusement?" An attentive study of the Resolution, however, would have shown the noble Earl that the proposal was not to throw open all places of amusement on Sunday, but only those which were supported by the State, and thus the theatres and aquariums would not fall within its terms. The noble Earl had said that habitual tavern-goers would not go to the Museums on Sunday even if they were thrown open; but the great mass of the people were not habitual tavern-goers, and he was satisfied that large numbers of people who were now compelled to stay on Sunday all day in their uncomfortable lodgings, or to take journeys by railway, would avail themselves of the opportunity of amusing themselves innocently and quietly in the Museums if they were thrown open. For the reasons he had stated he should give the Resolution his hearty support if it were pressed to a division.


My Lords, as the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Dun-raven) has referred to a letter written by me some time since, and not intended for publication, but from the statements in which I have no intention to recede, it is only courteous to him that I should notice the observations he has made. In doing so, my first duty is to acknowledge the feelings of benevolence and philanthropy which have actuated the noble Earl in bringing forward this Resolution. I hope, however, that he will not think me ungracious when I express the opinion that his arguments have failed to support his main proposition. The noble Earl who has just sat down has alluded to the fact that the Museums are the property of the nation and are supported by the nation. That circumstance raises a question of some importance. Undoubtedly the branch of the Legislature which has the duty of providing public money for these Museums is the House of Commons; and therefore it is not immaterial to observe what has been the view which the House of Commons has taken of this subject up to this time. On four occasions during the last quarter of a century Motions similar to the present have been brought before that House, and in each instance they have been rejected by an overwhelming majority. Thus, in 1856, such a Motion was rejected by 376 to 48; in 1869 no division took place, the House being counted out; in 1874 the proposal was rejected by 271 to 68, and in 1877 it was rejected by 229 to 87. No renewal of the proposal has been made during the present Parliament. But let us ask ourselves what would be gained by opening these Museums on Sundays. In the first place, the noble Earl admits that they could not be open during the time of Divine Service, and therefore they could not be opened till 1 o'clock, which is the working man's dinner hour. By the time he has had his dinner and walked to the Museum it will be 3 o'clock, and in this climate it is necessary that these Institutions shall be shut at 4 o'clock during two-thirds of the year. During the summer they might be open later; but during the summer they would be little resorted to. Therefore, to enable the working man to visit these places for one hour on a Sunday afternoon, the whole staff would have their Sunday taken from them. Is it worth while to make the proposed change for the sake of such a result? Then it is said that the great object of this alteration is to obtain a rival to public-houses. But there will be no such rivalry. In London the public-houses are opened at 1 o'clock on Sundays, closed again at 3, and continue shut until 6. Therefore, during the very time that these places of amusement will be open, the public-houses will be shut. But then, again, there will be great danger in bringing 2,000 or 3,000 working men together for a short time on Sunday, as it may have the very result, when the Museum closes, of inducing them to enter the public-houses in the neighbourhood. To show what the publicans themselves think on the subject, I may state that it is asserted that the publicans have petitioned in favour of this proposal in the belief that, if carried into effect, it would increase their Sunday trade. The noble Earl, in the course of his remarks, referred to the experience which had been gained with reference to Sunday opening. Let me remind your Lordships as to what was the experience of the Duke of Westminster on the same point. The noble Duke, as everybody knows, with the greatest liberality, threw open his magnificent Gallery of Pictures for the enjoyment of the people on Sundays; and, as the result of his experience, he felt himself bound to admit, on the last discussion on this subject in this House, that it was not a working class question at all. The working classes did not largely visit his Galleries; but those who did visit them were people of a higher class, not likely to be tempted into intemperance, so that, in his view, the opening of such places was not in any way calculated largely to diminish the evil of intemperance. I venture to suggest that the proposal which has been made by the noble Earl near me (the Earl of Shaftesbury) would, if acted upon, confer a great boon upon the working people of the Metropolis. His proposal is that some of the great National Institutions in London should be opened from 7 to 10 on the evenings of three days in each week, and that proposal is based on the recommendation of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, which inquired fully into the whole subject as far back as the year 1860. I was certainly surprised to hear the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset), who is a Trustee of the British Museum, say tonight that the working classes would not be able to go to such Institutions on week day evenings after the fatigue of their day's work. Does the noble Duke know the extent to which these men go to night schools, and sit for hours after the close of a hard day's work for the purpose of improving their minds? And, if he does, how can he say that they would be too fatigued to visit such Institutions as the British Museum and the National Gallery within the same hours? In addition to night schools to which working men resort there are also evening concerts for their especial benefit, and these, too, are largely attended. There was a strong objection raised some time ago to the opening of Picture Galleries by night, on the ground that the quantity of gas it would be necessary to consume in order that the pictures might be properly seen would greatly damage the pictures. I believe that objection was well founded; but we are now in a state of transition to a better condition of things as far as lighting is concerned. I have seen very lately a Picture Gallery lighted by electricity with the most perfect success; and I look to the time when it will be possible, by means of the electric light, to see the pictures in our great Collections by night to much greater advantage than they can now be seen by the ordinary light of a London day, and without the slightest injury to the pictures themselves. The noble Earl who brought forward this Motion said he had no fear that the opening of public Museums would be followed by the opening on Sunday of other places of amusement; and he asked whether the people of this country could not be trusted to know the difference between right and wrong? That is the very question; but upon that comes this other question, as to where the right ends and the wrong begins. The noble Earl also said that he was in favour of Free Trade; but he seems to forget that there is no trade in this country larger than the trade in amusements, and what would he have to say to the working men who objected to the Government having a monopoly in this respect and opening the National Galleries and collections, while refusing the same privilege to private institutions which provide innocent amusement for the people? Then, again, let me ask what is the ground on which the legislation and practice of this country have proceeded in regard to the observance of Sunday? My Lords, I maintain that this legislation and practice could not have been maintained for a year if they were to depend upon merely human law. If that were the only sanction, this country would say—"You have no right to take possession of a portion of our time in that way. Every person must judge for himself whether he would like to employ his whole time in work or not." The institution of Sunday has, in my opinion, maintained itself amongst us; and we have reaped from it moral, physical, and religious benefits only because a vast majority of the people, altogether irrespective of Churches or denominations, are convinced that the institution depends, not upon human law, but upon a higher law which we are all bound, in conscience, to obey. If your Lordships by your vote lead the country to think that the institution of Sunday has no such foundation and sanction as those to which I allude, you will shock the consciences of a vast majority of the people of this country, and also lead, in my opinion, to the destruction of Sunday as a day of rest. The noble Earl (the Earl of Dunraven), I have no doubt, has no such desire. But he is the President of the Sunday Society, of which Society Professor Tyndall, whose great scientific attainments we all honour, is one of the Vice Presidents. Professor Tyndall last autumn delivered a lecture in Glasgow, as the representative of the Society—a lecture which has been published and largely circulated—and it was to this lecture I referred in the letter of which the noble Earl has spoken. I am bound to say—and I say it with the deepest pain and regret—that I look upon the lecture as an attack upon Sunday as a Divine institution, and also as an attack on a large portion of what we regard as Scriptural and revealed truth. Therefore it is I say this Motion will be looked upon throughout the country as a Motion founded on the principles laid down in that lecture; and I cannot but deplore it as a Motion which, if it receive your Lordships' sanction, would strike pain and dismay into the hearts of a great majority of the people of this country.


My Lords, I will only occupy your Lordships for a I could not improve upon the arguments short time, for two reasons, first -- because advanced by the noble Earl who introduced the Motion; and, secondly, because the Motion is one in which the Government take no part whatever. This attitude on the part of the Government is, I think, perfectly justifiable, as, in these social questions, it is not wise to take action until there is cer- tainty that the general opinion of the country is in favour of such a course. The noble and learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns) has reminded your Lordships that the House of Commons, by considerable majorities, have from time to time decided that in the present divided state of public opinion the question is not ripe for settlement; and therefore Her Majesty's Government are, I think, perfectly right in keeping their minds open upon the subject. Any-thing that I say is simply as an individual; and I am not going to repeat the arguments used in favour of the Resolution of my noble Friend. As has been already stated, my noble Friend has stated his argument so clearly that it is not necessary to follow in that direction. But I may be permitted to make a few remarks on the arguments which have been used against the proposal. The most rev. Prelate complimented my noble Friend (the Earl of Shaftesbury) on the obvious sincerity of his speech, and I believe that those who oppose the Motion are as sincere in their opposition to the proposed change, if change it be. But, having made that admission, I think that the opponents of the Motion have shown some ingenuity in their mode of doing so, both with respect to the Amendment of the noble Earl and to some of the arguments which they have used. As to the Amendment, I do not say that it is good or that it is bad. I am rather in favour of it; but it appears to me to be merely an ingenious device to defeat the Motion of my noble Friend. The two things do not clash at all, because it would be perfectly possible to light those places in the evening, and to have them open on Sunday as well. Therefore I am not bound to give an opinion in favour of the Amendment; but I must say that the argument against the opening of Museums and Galleries on Sunday does not carry conviction with it. It appears to me that the opponents of the Motion have lost sight of one very important fact—namely, that this is not a novel proposition. The state of things which it is said will be fraught with such terrible consequences exists in the suburban districts. The Picture Galleries and Museums of Greenwich, Hampton Court, and Kew — and not only that, but of Dublin also, and some of the largest towns in England, such as Manchester, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, and Macclesfield—have been opened, as Libraries have also been, and these experiments have been successful. What I should have expected would have been done by those who objected to this Motion was to have shown that the experiment having been tried in these several places had utterly failed, and produced the bad consequences that had been prophesied. I know some of the towns in question, and have made inquiries on the subject, and I am informed that the opposition to the opening of Museums and Picture Gallerieson Sundays has entirely ceased. The most rev. Prelate brought forward Maidstone as an example of where the experiment had failed. The noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery) has dealt with that. Maidstone is not a large town, and as for the failure all that was shown was that a certain number of young men and women went to the Library on Sunday evenings to pass their time. I think that was the very best thing they could do, and certainly very much more desirable than that they should have gone to pass their time in public-houses. It is said that if you open the Picture Galleries and Museums, the theatres also will soon be opened. But has any theatre been opened in the towns which I have mentioned? The noble and learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns) made use of a most ingenious argument — though really the weight which attaches to it is very small indeed—as to the number of hours during which you would give facilities to the working classes for visiting those places. It is true that during three or four months of the year the time at their disposal would be very limited. But during eight or nine months there is plenty of time to open Museums on Sunday. The noble and learned Earl brought forward, at the end of his speech, an argument based on very high grounds. He put aside all those lower considerations, and put it entirely on the question of Divine obligation. The noble and learned Earl made some severe remarks with respect to a lecture, which I have not read, delivered by a gentleman who seemed to deny the Divine obligation of the Sabbath. But is it not true that such distinguished men as Paley, Dr. Whately, and Jeremy Taylor have raised questions as to the Divine obligations of the Sabbath? My Lords, I put that aside al- together and ask, Is it possible to introduce this as a practical argument, when the State has gone so far as to throw open those Institutions in the neighbourhood of London and in the great towns, and has done so without the slightest inconvenience or public disadvantage? As I have said, my Lords, without at all binding Her Majesty's Government, and without wishing to exclude any one of your Lordships from his right to vote against the Motion if he feels so inclined, I shall, as an individual, vote for the proposal of my noble Friend, and with regard to what has been said as to your Lordships' House not giving an opinion on the subject, I must say I think it very desirable that that opinion should be given, for I can conceive no assemblage more competent than this to express an opinion with respect to it.


My Lords, as last year I absented myself from the debate which took place on this subject, I wish to say a few words as to the grounds on which I shall give my vote for the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Shaftesbury). I was very glad to give way to the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns) opposite, as he argued the question with his usual ability, and in many of the arguments he used I entirely concur. I cannot help expressing the respect, and I may almost say the admiration, with which I listened to the speech of the noble Earl behind me (the Earl of Dunraven) who introduced the Motion. I never hoard a case put more moderately, temperately, or in a more reasonable manner. But in listening to that speech I could not help detecting in it arguments which went farther than the conclusions to which he pointed. The noble Earl distinctly expressed an opinion in favour of free trade in this matter, and he said that the working men might be thoroughly trusted, and that there was no reason for restricting them as to the mode in which they should spend their Sabbath. Whether that be true or not, I think we are bound to go a great deal further if we adopt the Motion, and to remove all restrictions in the way of what is called recreation and amusement which may be open to the working-classes. I object to that, and on the ground mentioned by the most rev. Prelate. I do not think that this House ought to adopt abstract Resolutions. It is no argument in favour of such a Resolution that the opening of Museums in certain localities has been attended with a certain amount of success. So long as it is legal to open them, they can be opened by those who are responsible for their management. But are we, therefore, my Lords, to pass a Resolution which will compel us to open all National Galleries and Museums? And here I cannot help expressing my surprise at what the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset), my Colleague as Trustee of the British Museum, said. No doubt it is true, as he stated, that we have no official position in the matter. We are servants of Parliament and of the Government, and if Parliament and the country determine to open the Museums on Sundays, we are bound to make the best arrangements we can for doing so. But the noble Duke said that under no circumstances could the Library of the Museum be opened. Well, only the other day I heard from my right hon. Friend Mr. Chamberlain, as an argument in favour of opening those Institutions, that in Birmingham they had done so, and that the most valuable, and that most resorted to, was the Library, to which people went, not only to read amusing, but also religious books. And I must raise a question with respect to what the noble Duke said as to other departments of the British Museum. He said you allow the people to see gardens, why not allow them to see minerals? Well, my Lords, I doubt whether there is any department which would require so many attendants as the Mineral Department, if it were opened, there being there valuable jewels, specimens of inestimable value; and it would be impossible to throw it open unless you procured the services of a large number of attendants. I agree with the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns) opposite that the whole system of existing legislation in this day depends upon the assumption that there is a religious obligation attaching to the Christian Sunday. My noble Friend behind me (Earl Granville) alluded to the fact that there have been great questions raised by many Divines as to the relation between the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian Sunday. Such men as Jeremy Taylor and Calvin have disputed whether the obligation of the Christian Sunday is exactly the same as that of the Jewish Sabbath; but that is a very different thing from saying that there is no Divine authority at all for the Christian Sunday. I agree with the noble and learned Earl opposite that while we have legislation which prohibits Sunday amusements for which money is given, it will be difficult to defend the system, unless you keep to the doctrine of religious sanction. Therefore I can quite account for the jealousy with which the working classes look at this proposition—I mean, that portion not specially animated by religious feeling. We know that there is a largo portion of the artizan class who are not attached to any particular Church, and who have no strong or definite theological opinions. Nevertheless, you will find among them the greatest possible jealousy as to all those notions tending to the alteration of the Christian Sunday. What is this instinct-founded upon? It is the feeling, perfectly well-founded, that when you break down the religious sanction of the day the legal sanction would be broken down also. Reference has been made to the way in which Sunday is spent in other countries. In South Germany, the other day, I was much struck by the fact that works of construction were carried on as extensively on Sunday as on other days, and the scaffolding outside one of the finest churches was occupied by men who were at work on the building. The working classes of this country feel that if the regard for Sunday were broken down in one respect it would be broken down in others. I think this is a well-founded jealousy; and on all these grounds I shall vote against, as being inexpedient, an abstract Resolution tending in a direction of which the working classes of this country are justly jealous.


said, it seemed to him that all the arguments were on one side. He knew that Petitions could be procured in any number in proportion to the funds expended by societies or individuals in getting them up, and there were Petitions against the Sunday opening of Institutions which were unmistakeable in their character and origin. What could the people of remote country villages know of the requirements of the working classes in London? On the other hand, there was a genuineness deserving of every consideration in the Petitions in favour of opening from the Metropolis, signed by thousands of the members of different trades and occupations, and of working men's clubs and other associations, the majority being men of independent opinions, not amenable to influences like those which produced opposing Petitions from country villages. He should support the Motion, the arguments against which could only be founded on antiquated prejudice; and he maintained that where Galleries or Libraries had been opened there had been no offence against public order or morality as a consequence.


said, objection had been taken to the statement in his Resolution that opposition had ceased, and to show that it had not ceased reference was made to the Petitions presented. But it was admitted that that opposition had been organized since he gave Notice of the Resolution; and when there was no opposition beyond what was stimulated in that way it was a fair inference that there was no opposition to the Sunday opening of Museums.

On question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the motion? Their Lordships divided: — Contents 34; Not-Contents 41: Majority 7.

Somerset, D. Lawrence, L.
Manners, L.
Camperdown, E. Monson, L.
Derby, E. Mont Eagle, L. (M. Sligo.)
Granville, E.
Hchester, E. Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.)
Kimberley, E.
Morley, E. Ribblesdale, L.
Spencer, E. Romilly, L.
Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Aberdare, L.
Blantyre, L. Sandhurst, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) Stanley of Alderley, L.
Brabourne, L. Strafford, L. (V. Enfield)
Coleridge, L. Sudeley, L.
Dorchester, L. Suffield, L.
Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.) Thurlow, L. [Teller.]
Waveney, L.
Harris, L. Wentworth, L.
Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.) [Teller.'] Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcarres.)
Canterbury, L. Archp. Salisbury, M.
Selborne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Bathurst, E.
Beaconsfield, E.
Marlborough, D. Bradford, E.
Northumberland, D. Cairns, E.
Richmond, D. Effingham, E.
Fevorsham, E. Cottesloe, L.
Nelson, E. Denman, L.
Redesdale, E. Ebury, L. [Teller.]
Selkirk, E. Ellenborough, L.
Shaftesbury, E. [Teller.] Foley, L.
Forester, E.
Waldegrave, E. Harlech, L.
Cranbrook, V. Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)
Hawarden, V. Ormathwaite, L.
Templetown, V. Penrhyn, L.
Bath and Wells, L. Bp. Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
Carlisle, L. Bp. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
St. Albans, L. Bp. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Tollemache, L.
Byron, L. Windsor, L.
Congleton. L.

Resolved in the negative. Then it was moved to add the following words ("a Select Committee of the House of Commons on Public Institutions having reported on the 27th of March 1860, 'that such Institutions as the British Museum and the National Gallery should he opened on week day evening's to the public between the hours of seven and ten in the evening at least three days in the week,' this House is of opinion that the time has arrived when this recommendation should be carried out.")

Resolved in the affirmative; and motion, as amended, agreed to.