§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
, in rising to move—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for copy of a Memorandum drawn up and signed by the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery with reference to the risks and inconvenience attending the proposed opening of the Gallery on week days up to 10 p.m.,said, that he should have liked to quote extracts from the Memorandum; but as he could not quote from a Memorandum which was not before their Lordships, he would briefly state that the objections of the Trustees to opening after dusk were chiefly these. No Continental Gallery was open at night. The electric light was in its infancy, with no guarantee against occasional extinction, it having been known to have failed in that respect at the reading room of the 231 British Museum. Large crowds assembling at night in the Gallery would stir up an unusual amount of dust. The breath of a large number of persons congregated together generated gases which occasioned a hurtful deposit upon the pictures, and it was quite impossible to cover all pictures with glass, the reflection from the glass being adverse to a proper study of the pictures. Then, again, they apprehended that crowds of a certain class would congregate in the Gallery from the character of the neighbourhood. Lord Palmerston always thought this a vital objection to opening at night. On wet nights all the roughs and idlers in the street would congregate, to the annoyance of those who wished to study the pictures; and with respect to the advantages which would accrue to the working man, it was very doubtful whether, after a hard day's work, working men would leave their homes to visit the Gallery. It must be borne in mind, too, that the step once taken would be irrevocable. Again, instances having occurred of wanton injury to the pictures at the National Portrait Gallery, where crowds seldom congregated, such a risk would be apprehended in a Gallery where a large number of people assembled at night and gave greater facilities for such outrages. Moreover, evil-disposed persons might take advantage of such crowds to make use of explosive material, with the prospect of untold injury being effected. The Trustees made this protest as custodians of public property of priceless value, and gave this opinion quite irrespective of the merits or demerits of the general question. He had always voted against Sunday opening, and would do so again. He begged to move that the Paper be printed, and circulated.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, he did not wish by his silence to be held to agree with the noble Lord's arguments, which he should be prepared to meet on Friday, when the whole question came up in the ordinary course of Business.
§ LORD SUDELEY
said, that as the discussion was coming on on Friday, their Lordships would not expect him to follow the noble Viscount into the details of his speech; and he should, therefore, content himself with saying that the Government had no objection whatever to the production of the Memorandum.
Memorandum drawn up and signed by the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery with reference to the risks and inconvenience attending the proposed opening of the Gallery on week days up to 10 p.m."—(The Viscount Hardinge.)