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propitiate these people it was decided to benefit them by freeing the bridges within their district over the River Thames and River Lea from tolls. In order to provide the means for doing this, the coal duties were extended one year longer than was originally intended, and the dues for the year ending July 1, 1889, were specially hypothecated by the Act to meet the cost of buying up the tolls on these bridges. The Act then went on to say that if there should be any surplus on this one year's dues, it should be dealt with as Parliament should hereafter direct.
In accordance with this provision, a joint committee of the Metropolitan Board and the Corporation of London proceeded to buy up the tolls of the bridges over the Thames, and they effected this by an expenditure of 150,0001. They then proceeded to borrow this sum by mortgaging the coal dues for the year ending July 1, 1889; and to raise the immediate sum of 150,0001. they were compelled to charge the dues of the year 1888-9 to the amount of 350,0001., the money being raised for the most part at the rate of 5 per cent.; the transaction, therefore, was anything but an economic one. It is certain, however, that the coal dues for the year ending July 1, 1889, will produce a much larger sum than will be sufficient to meet this charge, and there will be a surplus of certainly not less than 120,0001., to be devoted to such other purposes as Parliament may hereafter direct.
This sum, it is certain, cannot be legally claimed either by the Metropolitan Board or its successor, the London Council, or by the Corporation of London. It is at the disposal of Parliament, and will be available for any purpose in connection with public improvements in London or its neighbourhood. It is proposed then to apply to Parliament in the session of 1889 for power to vest this fund in public trustees for the purpose of being advanced by them for works of importance for the benefit of London, on the principle that an equal sum shall be obtained by private subscription for any such improvement. In this way the fund would be used as an inducement to private liberality for works of public improvement. The works should consist of public buildings or improvements, or the provision of open spaces, or other works for beautifying London. It is proposed to specify among the subjects to which this fund may be devoted the extension of Westminster Abbey in the manner suggested.
Assuming that the total cost of the scheme for the purchase of the site and the erection of the Chapel would be 140,0001., it is proposed that one-half of it should be devoted to this purpose from the fund referred to, and that the remaining half should be raised by public subscription. It is worth noting in connection with this, that in olden times the Abbey received frequent grants out of the
4 31 Vict. c. 17, s. 5.
duties raised on coal for its repair. It would be only reverting to an old policy in thus claiming from this derelict fund arising from the coal duties a contribution to the present scheme. *
The scheme has already been carefully considered by a number of persons interested in the subject, and is heartily approved by the Dean of Westminster. Among those who have subscribed towards the preliminary expenses connected with the application to Parliament for legislative powers for carrying it into effect are the Duke of Westminster, Lord Wantage, Lord Brassey, Baron F. de Rothschild, Mr. Cubitt, Mr. H. H. Gibbs, Mr. Bertram Currie, and Mr. E. Freshfield.
It is not, however, proposed to apply for subscriptions to the general scheme until it be seen whether Parliament will give the necessary powers for the purchase of the site, and will sanction the appropriation of the surplus fund, I have referred to, in the manner proposed. The scheme will therefore necessarily come under the review of Parliament. In this view, and for many other reasons, every care must be taken that no sectarian influences should prevail in the future use of the proposed building. It will necessarily be a part of the Abbey; but it will, probably, be expedient to provide that the building should be maintained or repaired, as in the case of the Chapter House, by the Government, and that the regulation respecting burials in it, or the placing of monuments there, should be subject to the approval of some Minister. It is certain that for many years past the Abbey has been treated by successive Deans in a spirit as far removed as possible from any sectarian influences. It has been held to be a national building, in the broadest senses of the term. Its portals have been opened to monuments of men of every creed; and it is on this account that it is possible to appeal to the public generally on behalf of such a scheme as is now proposed, and to ask for a contribution for a quasi-public fund.
There will be many points of detail to be considered in such a scheme later. With this view it is proposed to widen very considerably the General Committee, and to make it as far as possible representative of all classes in the community; and the details of the scheme will be determined by such committee and must eventually be approved by the Government. The present proposal is made in no dogmatic spirit, and it may be that some other better scheme may be suggested for carrying out the same object. The scheme might be greatly improved by removing the houses on the south side of Old Palace Yard, and in Abingdon Street, opposite to the House of Lords; this, however, could be effected at some future time, and is not essential to the present proposal.
I have only to conclude by saying that it is worth while, even with the merest utilitarian object, to do our best in our generation to render London as conspicuous as possible for the beauty and interest
of its public buildings. It is the centre of our vast Empire; it is the point of contact for the whole of the Anglo-Saxon race. Its history and traditions are of unexampled interest.
It has more buildings of the highest importance than any other city in the world, with the exception only of Rome.
The influences of successive periods of architecture can be better studied here than in almost any place that can be named. In the Tower of London we have one of the most famous, the best preserved, and the most interesting of the older fortresses, in Westminster Hall the most beautiful of halls, in the Abbey a specimen of early Gothic work of the greatest purity and beauty, in St. Paul's Cathedral and the splendid bevy of City churches, due to the genius of Wren, the best results of the Renaissance applied to architecture. We have in our public buildings, from Somerset House to the Houses of Parliament and the new Law Courts, with all their defects, many and most admirable illustrations of the varying phases of public taste.
We have in our London parks, and the many noble parks surrounding it, in the very numerous commons and open spaces, including Epping Forest, round London, a variety of interest and beauty such as no other great city can present. It is worth while in our generation to do our part by adding to the centres of interest and beauty in no niggardly spirit, and we have a right to expect that, following the example of the people of other great cities, the citizens of London should supplement these efforts. With a view to eliciting these private efforts, and creating a pride in our metropolis, the Government itself should do whatever it undertakes in the best possible manner and with due regard to a long future.
G. SHAW LEFEVRE.
THE FUTURE OF THE UNIONISTS.
In May, 1879, I hazarded, in this Review,' the prediction that if a large Liberal majority were returned to the House of Commons at the next general election, the numbers of Irish Home Rulers and advanced English Radicals which it must necessarily contain would prevent its working harmoniously together for any length of time. I then proceeded to put forward the proposition, which was ridiculed in certain quarters as an impracticable dream, that a new party in politics might be formed embracing the moderate men of both sides.' The election of 1880 resulted in a Liberal majority far exceeding general expectation. After the lapse of a few years this majority became disintegrated and fell to pieces, and the moderate men of both sides' are at this moment in power. The prediction has thus been fulfilled, the impracticable dream realised.
The new party suggested nine years ago exists to-day as a fact. Of that there cannot be the least doubt. The interesting question is, Is it destined to last ? or is it merely an ephemeral phenomenon with no future and no abiding place in our political history ? Mr. Balfour, in his powerful speech at Haddington on the 16th of October, maintained the latter view. It is the object of this paper to support the former, and to point out that the future of the Unionist party is really in its own power. If it is always acting on the defensive, if it is perpetually apologising for its own existence, it cannot and will not deserve to live. If, on the other hand, it boldly recognises its true function and proclaims its mission in unmistakable terms, it has no need to fear extinction, for it will gather fresh recruits every day. Its choice between these two courses must be made, and at once, for its enemies are already pressing it hard.
There is really only one formidable obstacle in its path_the homage paid to party consistency, as if it were a saving article of faith. The sharpest thorn in the side of the Liberal supporters of the present Administration is that they are accused of treachery to the Liberal cause. For this, we are told, they are to be annihilated in detail so soon as the present Parliament is dissolved—to sink,
1 The Nation before Party.' By Montague Cookson.