§ SUPPLY considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ The following two Votes were agreed to:—
- (1.) £8,000, to complete the sum for New Record Buildings, Dublin.
- (2.) £800, Franklin Monument.
- (3.) £6,000, Nelson Column.
§ MR. THOMSON HANKEY
said, for the last six years successively this Vote of £6,000 had been taken for the Nelson lions to be sculptured by Sir Edwin Land-seer. He thought it discreditable to the House, to the Board of Works, and in some degree to the name of the great artist who had undertaken the task, that so long a delay should have occurred. Sir Edwin Land-seer was a painter, not a sculptor; but by whatever Government the contract was originally made, it was made, he had no doubt, in the belief that Sir Edwin Land-seer would take the work in hand at once. Was it reasonable to have to wait for six years for the completion of a work which had been so often brought under the notice of Parliament? The proper way would have been not to have asked this Vote, and to have made an arrangement with another artist to undertake the work. He was told no other artist would undertake it; but he was sure there were several in London who would. He would have been as well pleased to intrust the work to Baron Ma-rochetti; it would have been as well done, and they would have had it long ago. He hoped the Committee would not sanction this Vote, unless there were good grounds for supposing that the work would be speedily completed.
§ SIR MATTHEW RIDLEY
said, the hon. Gentleman forgot to ask how far the work of the lions had progressed, or whether it had proceeded at all. When the inquiry was last made, the answer was that Sir Edwin Landseer was studying the lions in the Zoological Gardens. Sir Edwin Landseer was a great animal painter; but it was no derogation from his ability as a painter to say that he was not a sculptor. The truth was, that the work had been confided to the wrong person. They should have given sculptor's work to a sculptor, not to a painter. The fact was, that the artist who was to execute the lions 547 was originally appointed by the subscribers, who formed a committee, and the work was assigned to a sculptor. The change which was afterwards made, was made not by the right hon. Gentleman, but by some one who preceded him in office. He was prepared to prove that it would be possible to have modelled, cast, and placed the four lions in their positions in a year and a half, or two years at the very outside. Originally the work was given to the artist who had given the very best design for the monument, except that it was not for a column. The column was given to one artist, the bas-reliefs to another, and the lions to the artist of whom he had spoken, and who might thus be said to have had the lion's share of the work. He wished to know how much money had been paid on account of this work; how much of the work had been done; and whether the lions were to be repetitions of one another, or to be different in attitude and character.
said, this was a re-Vote of £6,000 which had been voted in 1858. Sir Edwin Landseer had as yet received no remuneration for the labour which he had devoted to the work. In 1848, the noble Lord (Viscount Morpeth) who was then at the head of the Office of Works found very considerable difficulty in satisfying himself as to the sculptor to whom to intrust a work of such importance. It was necessary that the artist should have great skill in the representation of animal life, and it was thought best to intrust the Commission to Sir Edwin Landseer, who, if not a sculptor, was the greatest painter of animals that this, or any other country, had produced. Sir Edwin Landseer, finding it was the wish of the Government that his genius should be turned in that new direction, consented to undertake the work. There had, however, been a very deplorable delay—a delay which Sir Edwin Landseer regretted, and which nobody regretted more than he (Mr. Cowper). But Sir Edwin Landseer had not lately been in the same state of good health he had previously enjoyed, and part of the delay was owing to that circumstance. Part of the delay was also owing to this, that the painter had been called upon to exercise his talents in a manner novel to himself, and which required more thought, consideration, and pains than would otherwise have been necessary. But Sir Edwin had studied the matter very deeply, and he (Mr. Cowper) trusted they would be compensated for the delay by the production of 548 something pre-eminently good—something superior to what would have been done had the work been executed rapidly and without preliminary study. He was assured that Sir Edwin Landseer had completed his design, that he was on the point of making the clay model for the casting, that the preliminary delays had at last reached their end, and that there only now remained the time which would be necessary for the mere work of execution. Sir Edwin Landseer had made a good many different sketches, and had frequently changed his views; but he (Mr. Cowper) now understood that he had satisfied him-self as to the design and composition. He had been asked whether the money that had been voted in 1858 would be sufficient. It certainly would not. It was quite clear that an increase of Vote would have to be proposed for the completion of the lions. It was quite impossible that colossal statues of a size proportionate to the column could be executed for £6,000. The mere casting of the metal would cost more than that sum; but as it was quite clear that a larger sum could not be spent this year, he thought the best course was simply to re-vote the money which the House had already voted. When Sir Edwin Landseer had completed his clay model, then would be the time to ascertain accurately the sum for which the model could be executed in bronze. He was not prepared at present to state what would be the cost. He did not understand that the four lions' would be exactly the same, but he believed that there would be two models, which with alterations would produce the four figures. He was now prepared to say that within a month or two the clay models would be completed. He had done what he could to represent to Sir Edwin Landseer that the work should be completed without delay, and he could bear witness that Sir Edwin Landseer had not certainly of late failed to devote and concentrate his attention on the models of these lions; but in the earlier years after undertaking the commission, having in hand some pictures to the execution of which he was pledged, he did not then feel at liberty to give his whole and undivided attention to this particular work.
§ MR. STIRLING
could say, from having met Sir Edwin Landseer on several occasions after returning from working on the models, that that artist bore all the appearance of having been hard worked. He could not agree that it was any matter for regret that the commission had been 549 intrusted to Sir Edwin; for considering how distinguished that gentleman was for his representation of animals, it could not have been in better hands. In fact, he believed that his lions would redeem the monumental mistakes which had unfortunately been committed all over London; and he did not think that the Nelson column could afford to dispense with the embellishment that they would afford to it. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's observation that painters were not fitted to produce fine sculptures, he had only to say that the experience of the best ages of art was opposed to such a view. He might add, as a corroboration of the right hon. Gentleman's statement that Sir Edwin Landseer was now busily engaged on these statues, that he had not sent a picture to the Academy this year. At the same time, it might be true, that like the animals he represented, he would be none the worse for a little stirring up.
§ MR. THOMSON HANKEY
remarked, that this was the first time that the House had heard that the lions would cost more than £6,000. There was either a contract with respect to the matter or there was not. If there was a contract, he wanted to know what sum was to be paid under it. To pass a Vote of this kind without knowing the amount really to be paid, was a very unsatisfactory proceeding; and he should divide the Committee against the Vote.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
conceived that in a matter of this kind there could be no immense margin, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to be in a position to give the Committee some idea what this larger sum was to be.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, it was a disgrace to the country that the monument to a great man like Nelson should have remained so long incomplete; and, whatever might be the cost, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would get it finished. The sum required could not be materially more than £6,000.
§ SIR MATTHEW RIDLEY
wished to know what was to be the size of the lions, as that was a material matter in the calculation of the cost.
replied, that the lions would be twenty feet in length. As far as he was able to make a calculation of the sum required for the complete execution of 550 the statues in bronze twenty feet in length, be should say, assuming that the metal must be purchased and was not given by the Government, that the whole might be done for double the sum which was now proposed—namely, for £12,000. It did not appear that in 1848 there was any con-tract or careful examination made with regard to the particular sum that would be required, and he found that Sir Edwin Landseer did not consider, on his part, that be had undertaken to complete the lions in bronze. In this case, when the clay models were completed, it would be necessary to make a contract with a metal founder to cast these lions under Sir Edwin Land-seer's direction and guidance. In that way the country would have in this matter the full benefit of Sir Edwin Landseer's genius. He quite felt, with the hon. Member for Lambeth, that there ought not to be any further unnecessary delay in the completion of the Nelson Monument, and it was necessary for the dignity of the country that the column should be completed in a proper manner. It was said that it was not customary for painters to devote themselves to sculpture; but in the great days of Italian art Michael-Angelo and other artists were great in both the departments of painting and sculpture. He believed that the Government had done best by placing the management of this work in the hands of a man of such undoubted genius as Sir Edwin Landseer. Care would be taken that the casting in bronze should not be commenced until a definite contract was made, in order to prevent unnecessary expense.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
was informed that the bronze for Baron Marochetti's statue of Coeur de Lion outside the House of Lords cost £3,000, and he imagined that the bronze for four lions would cost more than £12,000.
said, that everything done in the models had been done by Sir Edwin Landseer's own hand, and for the models Sir Edwin Landseer would be exclusively responsible.
§ Vote agreed to.551
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £28,914, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1864, for erecting and maintaining certain Light-houses Abroad.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he wished to draw attention to the extraordinary absence of a business-like mode of dealing with the item in this Vote of £8,000 for a floating light on the Little Basses Rocks, Ceylon. These rocks were in the direct line of the steamers between Point de Galle and Madras, and as early as 1826 it was represented to the Government that they ought to be lighted. In 1848 the Government made up their minds to do something, and wrote to Ceylon for advice how light-houses could be erected. Six years afterwards, in 1854, they got reports, showing that floating lights were impracticable, and strongly recommending the building light-houses on both the Basses Rocks, for the estimated Bum of £4,500. In 1855 Parliament voted £3000; in 1856, £17,000, and £6,000 for a steamer to carry the materials; in 1857, £8,000; in 1858, £10,000; and in 1859, £10,000, making a total of £54,000, for which there was never any other estimate than the one of £4,500. Even now the light-houses were not put up, and he saw them on the wharf at Point de Galle. In 1860 they were told that they could not put up a light-house, and that they must have a floating light, which was in the first instance condemned. Accordingly, in 1861, the House voted £8,000, and in 1862, £2,000 more for a floating light. The money was not expended, and now they were asked to vote £8,000. There ought to be some limit to the credulity of the House, and he should move to strike out the £8,000, leaving the Government to bring some evidence next year whether a fixed or a floating light was the best, and what money would really be required. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £8,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £8,000, for the Little Basses Rocks Light Ship (re-Vote), be omitted from the proposed Vote."
§ MR. AUGUSTUS SMITH
complained of the Vote altogether. It seemed to him that the rich colony of Ceylon ought to maintain its own lights. He therefore cordially supported the Motion of the hon. Gentleman who just sat down.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, it was quite true that a great many errors had in former years been committed with respect to the erection of light-houses on the Basses Rock. The engineers were deceived as to what was to be done, and a great deal of money had been thrown away. It had been considered by the most competent judges that the best mode of lighting the rock would be by means of a floating lightship. Such a ship had been ordered to be built; but whether she would prove satisfactory for the accomplishment of the object in view must be determined by experience. It would at all events be necessary to pay the expenses of mooring the ship, and keeping up the necessary staff of attendants. Now, he did think it would be unreasonable to charge Ceylon for the light-ship, inasmuch as she was constructed rather for the protection of the general trade of this country than because of any special interests Ceylon had in the matter. Such lights as these and the Bahamas, and others similar, were proper subjects for a public Vote. It was, he thought, a duty which England owed to the world, and to her own commerce, to place lights on those barren islands in her possession, where necessary, for the purpose of preventing wrecks.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking it right that we should maintain light-houses where required in our own possessions for the protection of ships and trade. He must, however, say that be believed the numerous mistakes which bad occurred with reference to the erection of those buildings were to be attributed mainly to the fact that they were provided under the sanction of the Board of Trade, and not of a properly constituted Board of Works.
reminded the Committee that the sum of £8,000 was Voted last year for the construction of the light-ship in question. She had not been finished at the close of the financial year, and the money was not available for her construction. The present therefore was simply a re-Vote.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. CHILDERS
proceeded: He wished, he said, to know what was the amount agreed to be paid under the contract in question, and who was the engineer consulted.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.
§ House counted; and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Eight o'clock.