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effect to lessen the value of the honour in the cases wherein it is really deserved.
The third, and most serious objection, is the tendency of this system to impede and postpone all measures for the provision of a Pantheon, or GALLERY OF NATIONAL HONOUR, worthy of the British people. No nation on the earth can boast a larger number of truly great and illustrious men, but none has made such small provision for their public honour, or for inciting others to emulate and excel them.
These questions, which were asked thirty years ago, yet wait to be answered :—“What civilized nation of the ancient or modern world has less endeavoured to stimulate its genius or perpetuate its fame? Where are our temples and public halls dedicated to honour and national glory-decorated with the trophies of our conquests, and the animated representation of those scenes in which they were achieved— dignified by the statues of our captains, our statesmen, our poets, and our philosophers, producing exultation in the native, admiration in the stranger, and enthusiasm in the rising race? A melancholy memorial is set up occasionally in the gloom of St. Paul's,* or amongst the tombs of Westminster Abbey, in which the genius of the Sculptor is cramped, in a common-place repetition of hackneyed attributes, and exhausted emblems; and is never called upon but to succeed the sepulchral pageantries of the undertaker, in paying the last honours to departed heroism. Why are the testimonials of national gratitude delayed till their object is insensible to the glory they confer?"*
* I am glad to perceive that the sentiments I have expressed on this point agree with those of the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, who, in a memorial addressed to Lord John Russell, in 1837, observe, “that a church ought not to be regarded in the light of a gallery of art, or of a place of public exhibition, and that no use ought to be made of it, which tends to lower the reverential feeling of those who resort to it, or to impair its sacred character.”
Whether therefore we regard either the sacred character of a christian church, or that judicious control which must be exercised over the erection of public monuments, in order to make them really testimonials of national honour, or that appropriate magnificence, which ought to mark a people's estimation of its greatest benefactors,—we equally arrive at the conclusion, that the practice hitherto pursued is injurious to our holy religion, obstructive of our progress in the Arts, and unworthy the memory of the many illustrious men who have adorned our country.
Free admis- In connexion with this subject, an important point sion of the vot pomoing to be noti public to
yet remains to be noticed,—that of the restrictions
you National which at present obstruct the admission of the public Monu
to edifices in which national monuments have been erected.
However much it is to be regretted that monuments not purely sepulchral have ever been admitted into our sacred buildings, there appears to be a gross inconsistency in erecting such monuments at the public expense, and then excluding the public from viewing them except on the payment of fees. No person can be an improper applicant for admission to our churches, unless his purpose be such as will not be impeded by the demand of a paltry admission fee, while it is certain that such a demand, be the sum ever so trivial, will inevitably operate to the exclusion of some, whom it is on all accounts desirable to admit. And whatever mischief may accrue from transforming a church into an exhibition-room, will be increased, not lessened, by making it an exhibition for money.
* Elements of Art, p. 366, note.
Although the efforts of the Society for obtaining free admission to National Monuments, ably seconded as they have been by her Majesty's government, have already produced much good, they have hitherto in several important cases failed of effecting the desired object.
The dean and chapter of Westminster, in reply to a Westmincommunication from Lord John Russell, in which it ster was stated that her Majesty was “ desirous that the Abbey Church of Westminster should be open to the public at certain appointed times, without the payment of any fee or gratuity,” expressed their conviction “ that evils, far greater than any supposed good to the public, would be the result of their compliance;" and they proceeded to state, that “ till about ten years since, a part of the abbey was open to the public, and had become a thoroughfare, when the ill effects of this liberty, namely, indecorous behaviour and constant noise, the filthy state of the church (especially in bad weather), the occasional injury done to the monuments, and the disturbance of the daily prayers, made it the duty of the dean and chapter to put a stop to the mischief, whatever might be the obloquy attending it.”*
In answering this communication Lord John Russell justly observed, that “these evils might nearly, if not altogether, be obviated, without a continuance of the entire prohibition which you state to have been adopted only ten years ago. It does not follow that because persons are admitted gratuitously to view the monuments, they would feel less respect for the Abbey as a
• Commons' papers, 1837-8, No. 119, p. 9.
place of worship, than those who obtain admission upon the payment of money. Indeed, it might be contended, that the payment of a shilling, or half-a-crown, for liberty to enter a church or cathedral, tends more to confound it with a common exhibition room,' than the free permission to enter, with the single condition, that no indecorous behavour should be tolerated.” After suggesting certain measures tending to ensure the preservation of order, his lordship thus concludes: “I do not wish to enter into the question of right; the dean and chapter are doubtless the legal guardians of the property, but it is not proposed to surrender that property to the public use;' neither do I accuse the dean and chapter of any interested view; but they cannot expect that Westminster Abbey, which has been in great part raised and adorned by the magnificence of former sovereigns, and which contains the monuments of so many illustrious men, can be kept closed by a rule only a few years old, without exciting the attention of her Majesty's advisers and of the public.”
Nothing, however, has yet been effected as respects the admission of the public to Westminster Abbey. Those at whose expense the national monuments were erected are still compelled to pay for the privilege of seeing them.*
With reference to St. Paul's Cathedral, a better result has been attained. The public are admitted, free of all expense, for three hours † on every day, except Sunday.
• From the year 1750 to 1839, seven monuments have been erected at the public expense in Westminster Abbey, and thirty-three in St. Paul's together forty; the aggregate cost has been £132,175. Of these forty public monuments, thirty-seven have been erected in honour of naval and military men, and the remaining three to the memories of Lord Chatham, of William Pitt, and of Spencer Perceval.
+ From nine till eleven, and from three till four; the hours might doubtless have been better chosen, but this is still a step in the right direction.
Arrangements nearly similar have also been made at the Cathedrals Cathedrals of Norwich and Wells.
and Wells. With the same generous feeling that induced her Majesty to order that Kew Gardens shall be open to the public Kew Garon Thursdays as well as Sundays, throughout the sum
dens. mer, the Queen has commanded that Hampton Court Hampton Palace shall be open without charge or restriction on Court Paevery week day except Saturday, and also on Sundays after two o'clock; and its collections are to be increased by pictures from other palaces.
The reduction of the fee at the Armouries of the Tower ArTower of London,* from three shillings to one, has increased the enjoyment of thousands; but there is reason to believe that the arrangements, whereby visitors are sometimes detained half an hour in the waiting room, and their progress subsequently unduly hurried through that collection of historical illustrations, deprive it of much of its utility. These impediments will, I hope, be removed.
The efforts of the Society have also been attended with many good results, in some of the provincial cities and towns, by inducing many societies to appoint Provincial certain times for the free admission of the public to their M museums. This has been especially the case at Newcastle, at Manchester, and at Lancaster. At the first-named place the practice has long obtained, with respect to the Museum of the Philosophical and Antiquarian Societies of that town; and the secretary writes, that “the Societies have uniformly seen reason to rejoice in the privilege thus extended to the working classes ; and in new institutions here, the benefit to be derived from their admission to repositories of art, as well as of natural curiosities, is steadily held in view."
• Effected in May 1838. Since that period the average number of visitors, per week, has risen from 250 to nearly 1000.