28 JULY 1855, Page 15


Sin—Little more than two years ago a knot of earnest men first collected together to endeavour to promote the advancement of the people, and to check the flood of legislative encroachment upon social and religious liberty. The great task they set before themselves was to obtain tho opening of the British Museum and the National Gallery on the Sunday ; and, however ambitious their object, they had no other means for its attainment, no other resources—being humble hand-workers, gold and silversmiths —than simple workman's pay. They claimed no originality in the idea, knowing that they were only following in a path traced out by others. They have never deviated from this path ; they have pur- sued it perseveringly, unremittingly ; their labours have been to spread the knowledge and justice of their want among Friendly Societies and Trade Associations; to obtain cooperators among the more wealthy classes • to awaken the attention of the general public to the question ; and to besiege Parliament with innumerable petitions. Unequal to the labour and expense of holding public meetings, or delivering lectures on the subject, they have sought to extend the movement by increasing the numbers of their com- mittee, and by choosing them as much as possible among various trades, thus gradually to widen the sphere of their exertions. They have called upon the press to aid them, and rarely indeed has the call been without a ready and generous response. The result has been, that amid the apathy of the many, they have still found some of sufficient energy and discernment to espouse the cause, and give it fresh impetus' and thus they have slowly but unceasingly advanced till their appeals, at first unheard or disregarded, now demand and insure attention.

Have the poor not done their duty—will the wealthy fain theirs? It is their assistance, their active sympathy, which is now sought. Let the upper classes stretch forth the band of encouragement to their humbler brethren ; in this critical time when the coercion of intolerance on the one hand, and the strain of endurance on the other, have been carried to their utmost limits, let their voices be heard loudly and firmly on the side of rational instruction and simple Sunday relaxation. Is it not of vital im- portance to the classes raised by wealth and influence above the rest that those beneath them should be apt and intelligent ? The days of mere brute force are gone—the people must be guided, not driven.. But fleet of all they must be educated—and is not the school of Nature, whether her products be seen living and flourishing under the open sky, or her dead forms stored up in costly cabinets, a primary source of education ? Again : if the noble, or the wealthy commoner, can feel an elevating influence in the graces of statuary, or in the composition and blending colours of painting, must not the humanizing effect spread even to the simplest and least instructed ? And who among the opulent debars himself from such gratifications on the Sabbath ? The appreciation of art is, I confess, as much a matter of culture as art itself; but although we cannot expect the unlearned to enter into the minute delicacies of the painter's or the sculptor's work, the broad effects are there, and will call forth admiration, and produce consequent expansion of intellect, where they might fail to excite criticism. Sir, I look upon it as an obligation upon those who have wealth and leisure—that, indeed, it is one of their most precious privileges—to watch over the public weal, and to promote the national progress. Let them form committees • let them hold public meetings upon this vital question of the Sunday and uses. To the labouring elapses this is an onerous, almost im- possible task—to them it should be a pleasurable occupation. Not that the workman would shrink from the undertaking, even unaided ; but how much better, how much more speedily would the work be done, by the united exertions of the wealthy and educated on the one hand, supported by the power of numbers and enthusiasm on the other!