RECORD: Darwin, C. R. et al. 1860. Memorial to the Queen, presented by the National Sunday League. [London, printed].

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe. 8.2020. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here.

The National Sunday League was formed in 1855. The Atlas (1 September, p. 1) described the members as "a very respectable body of working men" and that they were "chiefly connected with the gold and silversmith's trade." They were joined by social reformers, secularists and Unitarians. The objective of the League was to campaign for the "opening of the British Museum and other national collections on Sunday", as well as to challenge the closure of the Crystal Palace and similar institutions on Sundays to make them accessible to working people on their only day off. The first elected president was Sir Joshua Walmsley (1794-1871), a businessman and MP for Leicester. The printed 16-page Memorial with 937 names in support was received by H. Waddington of the Home office at Whitehall on 7 July 1860. Darwin's name appeared in the appendix.


[page] 1

MEMORIAL TO THE QUEEN, PRESENTED BY THE NATIONAL SUNDAY LEAGUE.

The following letter has been received, announcing the presentation of the Memorial:—

Whitehall, 7th July, 1860.

SIR,-I am directed by Secretary Sir George Lewis to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 2nd instant; and to inform you that he has had the honor to lay before the Queen the Memorial, signed by a large number of gentlemen, which accompanied your letter, in favor of opening the National Museums, Picture Galleries, &c., &c., to the Public on Sunday afternoon.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

H. WADDINGTON.

Mr. JOHN HEAP, 4, Beaufort Buildings, Strand.

TO HER MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY VICTORIA, BY THE GRACE OF GOD OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, QUEEN, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH.

The Memorial of the undersigned connected with Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, Professors of divers Universities, &c., &c.,

HUMBLY SHEWETH,

That your Memorialists take it for granted that Museums and other collections of a similar character are established for the instruction and moral improvement of the people; and that in proportion as such Institutions are made available for popular education do they fulfil the purposes of their origin.

That the labors and necessary avocations of the great body of the community leave little or no opportunity of visiting such Institutions during the week, when they are open to the public, and hence that the main object of their formation is lost to those whom they are intended to benefit.

The Sunday, as a day of rest and leisure, when the thoughts of men, released from the engrossing labor of mere existence, turn naturally to the beauties of the Universe, and to its Creator, is the time most fitted for the exercise of the reflective faculties; and your Memorialists being firmly convinced that all true education must tend to the reverence and love of the Deity, believe that if such Institutions as above enumerated were open to the people on Sunday Afternoon, it would be an inestimable boon to the laboring population, would raise up an opposing principle to intemperance and immorality, and in every way advance the condition of the people.

YOUR MEMORIALISTS therefore pray your Majesty to lend your Royal countenance to remove all restrictions and impediments, so that the National Museums, Picture Galleries, Botanical Gardens, and similar collections, as well as those of parochial or municipal foundation throughout the United Kingdom, may be opened to the public on Sunday Afternoon.

NAMES OF MEMORIALISTS

[…]

[Appendix]

APPENDIX.

The following gentlemen only signed the Petitions presented to the House of Commons by Lord Stanley: one on the 9th July, 1858, with 571 signatures; and one on June 6th, 1860, with 305 signatures: the Prayer of both Petitions being the same as the Memorial to the Queen.

[…]

The sheets with the following names appended were lost in the transmission.

Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S., F.G.S.

[…]


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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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