be called the moving power of civilization, is being extended to all branches of science, industry, and art. Whilst formerly the greatest mental energies strove at universal knowledge, and that knowledge was confined to the few, now they are directed to specialties, and in these again even to the minutest points; but the knowledge acquired becomes at once the property of the community at large. Whilst formerly discovery was wrapt in secresy, the publicity of the present day causes that no sooner is a discover)' or invention made, than it is already improved upon and surpassed by competing efforts; the products of all quarters of the globe are placed at our disposal, and we have only to choose which is the best and cheapest for our purposes, and the powers of production are intrusted to the stimulus of competition and capital. So man is approaching a more complete fulfilment of that great and sacred mission which he has to perform in this world. His reason being created after the image of God, he has to use it to discover the laws by which the Almighty governs his creation, and, by making these laws his standard of action, to conquer Nature to his use—> himself a divine instrument. Science discovers these laws of power, motion, and transformation : industry applies them to the raw matter, which the earth yields us in abundance, but which becomes valuable only by knowledge: art teaches us the immutable laws of beauty and symmetry, and gives to our productions forms in accordance with them. Gentlemen,—The Exhibition of 1851 is to give us a true test and a living picture of the point of development at which the whole of mankind has arrived in this great task, and a new starting point from which all nations will be able to direct their further exertions. I confidently hope the first impression which the view of this vast collection will produce upon the spectator will be that of deep thankfulness to the Almighty for the blessings which He has bestowed upon us already here below; and the second, the conviction that they can only be realized in proportion to the help which we are prepared to render to each other—therefore, only by peace, love, and ready assistance, not only between individuals, but between the nations of the earth.

On the 29th June, 1849, the general outlines of the Exhibition were discussed

by His Royal Highness; and from that day to the present time, accurate accounts

of all proceedings have been kept, and the greater part of them printed and

Mwting at Back- published- The minutes of a meeting of several members of the Society of Arts,

held at Buckingham Palace on the 30th June, set forth as follows :—

His Royal Highness communicated his views regarding the formation of a Great Collection of Works of Industry and Art in London in 1851, for the purposes of exhibition, and. of competition and encouragement.

His Royal Highness considered that such Collection and Exhibition should consist of the following divisions:—

Raw Materials.

Machinery and Mechanical Inventions.


Sculpture and Plastic Art generally.

It was a matter of consideration whether such divisions should be made subjects of simultaneous exhibition, or be taken separately. It was ultimately settled that, on the first occasion at least, they should be simultaneous.

Various sites were suggested as most suitable for the building; which it was settled must be, on the first occasion at least, a temporary one. The Government had offered the area of Somerset House; or if that were unfit, a more suitable site on the property of the Crown. His Royal Highness pointed out the vacant ground in Hyde Park on the south side, parallel with, and between, the Kensington drive and the ride commonly called Rotten Row, as affording advantages which few other places might be found to possess. Application for this site could be made to the Crown.

It was a question whether this Exhibition should be exclusively limited to British industry. It was considered that, whilst it appears an error to fix any limitation to the productions of machinery, science, and taste, which are of no country, but belong, as a whole, to the civilized world, particular advantage to British industry might be derived from placing it in fair competition with that of other nations.

It was further settled that, by offering very large premiums in money, sufficient inducement would be held out to the various manufacturers to produce works which, although they might not form a manufacture profitable in the general market, would, by the effort necessary for their accomplishment, permanently raise the powers of production, and improve the character of the manufacture itself.

It was settled that the best mode of carrying out the execution of these plans would be by means of a Royal Commission, of which His Royal Highness would be at the head. His Royal Highness proposed that inasmuch as the home trade of the country will be encouraged, as many questions regarding the introduction of foreign productions may arise,— in so far also as the Crown property may be affected, and Colonial products imported,—the Secretaries of State, the Chief Commissioner of Woods, and the President of the Board of Trade, should be ex-officio members of this Commission; and for the execution of its details some of the parties present, who are also members or officers of the Society of Arts, and who have been most active in originating and preparing for the execution of this plan, should be suggested as members, and that the various interests of the community also should be fully represented therein.

It was settled that a draft of the proposed Commission, grounded on precedents of other Royal Commissions, be prepared, and that information regarding the most expeditious and direct mode of doing this be procured, and privately submitted to Her Majesty's Government, in order that no time be lost in preparation for the collection when the authority of the Government shall have been obtained.

It was settled that a subscription for donations on a large scale, to carry this object into effect, would have to be organized immediately. It was suggested that the Society for Encouragement of Arts under its charter possessed machinery and an organization which might be useful, both in receiving and holding the money, and in assisting the working out of the Exposition.—{Minutes of the Meeting on the '60th of June, 1849, at Buckingham Palace.)

The minutes of a second meeting held on the 14th July, at Osborne, are as MeetmS»t

. „ ° J 'Osborne


His Royal Highness stated that he had recently communicated his views regarding the formation of a great collection of works of industry and art in London in 1851, for the purpose of exhibition, and of competition and encouragement, to some of the leading statesmen, and amongst them to Sir Robert Peel.

His Royal Highness judged, as the result of these communications, that the importance of the subject was fully appreciated, but that its great magnitude would necessarily require some time for maturing the plans essential to secure its complete success.

His Royal Highness communicated that he had also requested Mr. Labouchere, as President of the Board of Trade, to give his consideration to this subject. Mr. Labouchere was now at Osborne, and His Royal Highness expressed his desire that he should be present at this meeting. Mr. Labouchere was accordingly invited to be present.

His Royal Highness gave it as his opinion that it was most important that the co-operation of the Government and sanction of the Crown should be obtained for the undertaking; but that it ought to be matter for serious consideration how that co-operation and sanction could be most expediently given.

Mr. Labouchere stated that the whole subject would have the very best consideration he could give it; and on behalf of the Ministry, he could promise an early decision as to the manner in which they could best give their co-operation.

He suggested that if, instead of a Royal Commission being formed, to include some of

the chief members of Her Majesty's Government, those same Ministers were to be elected members of a Managing Committee of the Society of Arts, this object might perhaps be as well accomplished.

It was explained to Mr. Labouchere that the exertions of the Society of Arts would be given to the undertaking, to the utmost extent to which they could be useful; but that these functions would necessarily be of an executive and financial nature, rather than of a judicial and legislative character.

It was further urged by the three members of the Society, that one of the requisite conditions for the acquirement of public confidence was, that the body to be appointed for the exercise of those functions should have a sufficiently elevated position in the eyes of the public, and should be removed sufficiently high above the interests, and remote from the liability of being influenced by the feelings of competitors, to place beyond all possibility any accusation of partiality or undue influence; and that no less elevated tribunal than one appointed by the Crown, and presided over by His Royal Highness, could have that standing and weight in the country, and give that guarantee for impartiality that would command the utmost exertions of all the most eminent manufacturers at home, and particularly abroad: moreover, that the most decided mark of national sanction must be given to this undertaking, in order to give it the confidence, not only of all classes of our own countrymen, but also of foreigners accustomed to the expositions of their own countries, which are conducted and supported exclusively by their Governments.

It was also stated that, under such a sanction, and with such plans as now proposed, responsible parties would, it was believed and could be proved, be found ready to place at the disposal of the Commission sufficient funds to cover all preliminary expenses and the risks incidental to so great an undertaking.

Mr. Labouchere expressed his sense of the great national importance of the proposal, and wished such further communication on the subject as might enable him fully to understand it, to be able better to consider the matter with his colleagues in the Cabinet.

Plan of At the same time a general outline of a plan of operations was submitted:—

operations. ° * *

I. A Royal Commission.—For promoting Arts, Manufactures, and Industry, by means of a great Collection of Works of Art and Industry of All Nations, to be formed in London, and exhibited in 1851. President, His Royal Highness Prince Albert.

1. The duties and powers of the Commission to extend to the determination of the nature of the prizes, and the selection of the subjects for which they are to be offered.

2. The definition of the nature of the Exhibition, and the best manner of conducting all its proceedings.

3. The determination of the method of deciding the prizes, and the responsibility of the decision.

II. The Society Of Arts.—To organize the means of raising funds to be placed at the disposal of the Commission for Prizes, and to collect the funds and contributions to provide a building and defray the necessary expenses to cover the risks of the collection and exhibition; and to provide for the permanent establishment of these Quinquennial Exhibitions.

The prizes proposed to be submitted for the consideration of the Commission to be medals, with money prizes so large as to overcome the scruples and prejudices even of the largest and richest manufacturers, and ensure the greatest amount of exertion. It was proposed that the first prize should be £5,000, and that one, at least of £1,000, should be given in each of the four sections. Medals conferred by the Queen would very much enhance the value of the prizes.

Mr. Labouchere finally stated that the whole matter should be carefully considered; but that there was no use in bringing it before the Cabinet at the moment of a closing session—that the Cabinet would now disperse, and not meet again till the autumn. The interval from now to October or November might be most usefully employed by the Society in collecting more detailed evidence as to the readiness of the great manufacturing and commercial interests to subscribe to and support the undertaking, and he promised to employ that interval in further informing himself, and endeavouring to ascertain the general feeling of the country on the subject.—(Minutes of the Meeting on the 14th of July, 1849, at Osborne.)

On the 31st July, 1849, His Royal Highness addressed a letter to the Home The Prince's letSecretary, in order to bring the subject officially to the notice of Her Majesty's secretary. Government

Sib, Osborne, July 31, 1849.

The Society of Arts having during several years formed exhibitions of works of national industry, which have been very successful, believe that they have thereby acquired sufficient experience, and have sufficiently prepared the public mind, to venture upon the execution of a plan they have long cherished—to invite a Quinquennial Exhibition in London of the Industry of All Nations.

They think that the only condition wanting to ensure the success of such an undertaking, would be the sanction of the Crown, given in a conspicuous manner; and they are of opinion that no more efficacious mode could be adopted than the issue of a Royal Commission to inquire into, and report upon, the practicability of the scheme, and the best mode of executing it.

I have therefore been asked, as President of the Society, to bring this matter officially before you, and to beg that Her Majesty's Government will give this subject their best consideration.

The Exhibition was proposed to be invited for 1851, and the magnitude of the necessary preliminary arrangements renders it highly desirable that the decision which the Government may have come to should be ascertained within the space of a few months.

I have, &C.,
The Right Honourable (Signed) Albert.

Sir George Grey, Bart., G.C.B.,
&C. &C. &c.

Sir, Whitehall, August 1st, 1849. Answer.

I Have had the honour to receive your Royal Highness's letter of the 31st July, suggesting the issue of a Royal Commission to inquire into, and report upon, the practicability of a scheme which has been formed by the Society of Arts for a Quinquennial Exhibition in London of the Industry of all Nations.

I shall not fail, in obedience to your Royal Highness's command, to take an early opportunity of bringing this important subject under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government, and I am confident that it will receive their careful and deliberate attention.

I have, &c,

(Signed) G. Grey.

To His Royal Highness Prince Albert, K.G.

(Minutes of the Meeting on the 3rd of September, 1849, at Balmoral.')

In this stage of the proceeding it became necessary to place the accomplishment Pecuniary of the undertaking, as far as possible, beyond a doubt. Having acquired experience, injure ITec" icon in 1845, of the difficulties to be encountered, the Council of the Society of Arts °f lbe prop0"'' felt that the proposal must not be brought a second time before the public as an hypothesis, but that the only means of succeeding was to prove that they had both the will and the power to carry out the Exhibition. The Society had no funds of its own available for the advances necessary to be made. The outlay for a

building upon the scale then thought of, and for preliminary expenses, was estimated at the least at £70,000.

After much fruitless negotiation with several builders and contractors, an agreement was made between the Society of Arts and the Messrs. Munday, by which the latter undertook to deposit £20,000 as a prize fund, to erect a suitable building, to find offices, to advance the money requisite for all preliminary expenses, and to take the whole risk of loss on certain conditions. It was proposed that the receipts arising from the Exhibition should be dealt with as follows:—The £20,000 prize fund, the cost of the building, and five per cent, on all advances, were to be repaid in the first instance: the residue was then to be divided into three equal parts; one part was to be paid at once to the Society of Arts as a fund for future exhibitions; out of the other two parts all other incidental costs, such as those of general management, preliminary expenses, &c, were to be paid; and the residue, if any, was to be the remuneration of the contractors, for their outlay, trouble, and risk. Subsequently the contractors agreed that instead of this division they would be content to receive such part of the surplus, if any, as, after payment of all expenses, might be awarded by arbitration. This contract was made on 23rd August, 1849, but the deeds were not signed until the 7th November following.

For the purpose of carrying the contract into execution on behalf of the Society, the Council nominated an Executive Committee of four members, who were afterwards appointed the Executive in the Royal Commission, and the contractors their own nominee. In thus making the contract with private parties for the execution of what, in fact, would become a national object, if the proposal should be entertained by the public, every care was taken to anticipate the public wishes, and to provide for the public interests. It was foreseen that if the public identified itself with the Exhibition, they would certainly prefer not to be indebted to private enterprise and capital for carrying it out. A provision was made with the contractors to meet this probability, by which it was agreed, that if the Treasury were willing to take the place of the contractors, and pay the liabilities incurred, the Society of Arts should have the power of determining the contract before the 1st February, 1850. In the event of an exercise of this power the compensation to be paid to the Messrs. Munday for their outlay and the risk was to be settled by arbitration.

The Society of Arts having thus secured the performance of the pecuniary part of the undertaking, the next step taken was to ascertain the readiness of the public to promote the Exhibition. It has been shown that the proof of this readiness would materially influence Her Majesty's Government in consenting to the proposal to issue a Royal Commission to superintend the Exhibition. The Prince Albert, as President of the Society of Arts, therefore commissioned several members of the Society, in the autumn of 1849, to proceed to the visits to the "manufacturing districts of the country, in order to collect the opinions of the

manufacturing CD ', ...

district. leading manufacturers, and further evidence with reference to a Great Exhibition

of the Industry of all Nations to be held in London in the year 1851, in order that His Royal Highness might bring the results before Her Majesty's Government." Commissioners were appointed, visits made, and reports of the results submitted to the Prince, from which it appeared that 65 places, comprehending the most important cities and towns of the United Kingdom, had been visited. Public meetings had been held, and local committees of assistance formed in them.

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