§ LORD ROBERT GROSVENOR
wished to put a question as to the intended equestrian statue to the Duke of Wellington. Some three weeks ago a scaffolding had been commenced round the arch on Constitution-hill, and on inquiring what was going forward, he was told that the enormous colossal statue to the Duke—a statue much too large for the intended base, was to be immediately placed upon the summit of the arch. Since that period, however, objection was taken to the destination of the statue, and some attempt was made to 961 ascertain whether the arch was strong enough to bear its intended load—the result of which was a report that a large outlay would be required to put the building into a condition to support the statue—and a rumour that Government was likely to interfere and put a stop to the operation. Since then, however, he had heard that proceedings were still going on; and what he wished to know, and what he was sure the public wished to know, was whether the site in question was to be disfigured by the Wellington Statue Committee.
§ SIR R. PEEL
should like to leave on record what had passed that evening, as an instance of the number and variety of questions a Minister of the Crown was expected to answer on one day. First, he had been called upon to answer a question respecting the Customs Tariff of this country and of the Zollverein; then came a question about the Bingley union; then another respecting the visit of Ibrahim Pacha; and now came a question respecting the Duke of Wellington's statue. He believed the facts were these—and when they were stated, he did not think that there would be found any ground for any accusation against Her Majesty's Government. Some time ago a subscription had been proposed for erecting an equestrian statue to the noble Duke, and a Committee had been appointed by the subscribers to direct the application of the fund. But before the subscriptions were raised a communication had been made to His late Majesty King William IV., who had been requested to state whether, in the event of the proposed subscriptions being raised for a magnificent equestrian statue to the Duke of Wellington, His Majesty would give his consent to its being placed on the arch at the top of Constitution-hill. Subsequently, a similar request had been made to Her present Majesty; and, he believed that Lord Melbourne, who was then Prime Minister, had been authorized to communicate to the Committee that Her Majesty would confirm the intention of Her Royal predecessor. Therefore the subscriptions had been raised after two successive Sovereigns had declared that they had no objection to the proposed site of the statue. He would not give any opinion on the question; but the noble Lord was of opinion that the statue, if placed as proposed, would disfigure the neighbourhood. The subscribers, on the contrary, thought it would be a very great ornament to the neighbourhood. In fact, they ought to 962 have withheld their subscriptions if they disapproved of the site on which it was proposed to place the statue. He had felt disposed to think that a better site might be chosen. However, there was great difference of opinion as to the best mode of placing the statue. Then the architect's opinion as to the strength of the arch was to be considered. On the matter being brought before him, he had proposed, on the part of the Crown, to give almost any other site that might be agreed upon. The statue might be placed either between the Athenaeum and the United Service Clubhouses, or in the immediate neighbourhood of the Duke of Wellington's residence, or near the Horse Guards. He had also undertaken, on the part of the Government, to propose to Parliament to vote a sum for the erection of a suitable pedestal, and that, on the whole, he had thought would have been the more satisfactory mode of settling the matter; but the Committee having again considered the subject, thought, that the consent of Her Majesty having been formally signified to them, and considering that many of the subscribers had subscribed with the idea that the site originally fixed upon would not be departed from, doubted whether they had the right to make any alteration in the site, and therefore it was determined by the Committee (he believed unanimously), that the site should not be altered. Now, certainly these assurances having been given on the part of the Crown, and the Committee having come to the resolution that they could not alter the site, he could not advise Her Majesty to withdraw the consent that had been given by herself and her predecessor.
observed, that it was generally reported that the statue was too large for the arch, and that it was consequently to be placed lengthways to the arch, so as to look east and west, or at right angles to the road; and what he wished to suggest was, that at all events the statue should be placed properly on the arch.
§ SIR R. PEEL
apprehended that if the statue were to be placed north and south, it would somewhat obstruct the thoroughfare by breaking down the arch.