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IMPERIAL INSTITUTE., Issue 7926, 6 June 1889
About fifty representative citizens, including Sir Robert Stout, Mr J. Allen, M.H.R., and Mr J. Mills, M.H.R., met atthe Council Chambers last evening to hear an address from Sir J. R. Somers Vine.
The chair was taken by Mr J. Roberts, who said : I have much pleasure in introducing to you our distinguished visitor, who has come here to give you information in reference to the Imperial Institute. His intention is, I understand, first to give the public here a clear and distinct account of the objects and aims of the Institute, and then to poiDt out in what way we can assist the movement. These are the two points our friend will touch upon; but I would also ask him to say something about the relative positions of the Imperial Institute and the Colonial Institute. Sir Somers Vine said that he had been commissioned to put himself in communication with the chambers of commerce and kindred institutions throughout tho cclony. Most people knew that the Imperial Institute owed its origin to a desire to commemorate in some enduring form the Jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign. With that object the Prince of Wales appealed to all parts of the Empire for funds to enable such a building to be raised as would be a worthy monument worthy of the reign. That appeal met with a reception exceeding expectations, and when the speaker left Home a few months ago the total amount of subscriptions received amounted to about L 480,000, and there were still other funds which might be applicable tu the work. He would take this opportunity of clearing away one or two misapprehensions which might exist as to the Institute. In the first place, there had been criticisms as to tho title selected. The word " Imperial" had been used in no political sense, but to distinguish the Institute from another which had existed for some years past As to the site which had been chosen, it was most suitable, being in close proximity to the South Kensington Museum, the Indian Museum, and other public buildings, thus possessing an advantage which everybody would appreciate, and there was really no other suitable site available. Tho actual area required was not less than six acres, and in no other part of London was such an area to be obtained. Further, the Royal Commissioners of 1851 had made what was practically a free grant of tho land required, it being granted on a 999 years' lease at the nominal rental of L 5, to be paid if asked for. And if they coald bring five millions of people to tho Indian and Colonial Exhibition, there was no reason why tho population at large should not also visit the Institute, which was really on the same ground. Another roason for the selection of the f>resent site was this : The Institute was to >e a great building for the instruction of everybody, and tho privileges and information provided were open to every man who callcii himself a British subject, no matter what his rank or station in life might be—in fact, it would bo part of the system of education ; and it was a great advantago to have the building in close proximity to a great natural history museum containing one of the best collections of birds, animals, etc., to be found in tho country, and also in contiguity to the art gallery of the South Kensington Museum. Having been asked to say a word or two a3 to the Colonial Institute, lie might say that that institution had completed about twenty-one years of its existence, and had done good work, but it was restricted in its operations, and so far was mainly a house of call for colonists, and a, pluce where excellent papers were read and discussed. The Imperial Institute proposed to do all that. The building would bo completed in February of the year after next, and it would have courts devoted to each of the colonieß, and each collection would be described technically and scientifically, so that even a schoolboy would learn all that could be told of each exhibit. The Institute, it must be understood, was not established for the benefit of the United Kingdom alone. The people of every part of the Empire would be able to go to it, and ascertain what could be got from each other part of the Empire. In another partofthebuildingthelatesttradeinformation about every product in which a visitor was intt rested would be obtainable. The New Zealand Ministry had been requested to furnish information of a thoroughly reliable character, and had promised to see that reliable information was forwarded. When the collections reached the Institute they would be arranged by scientific men on a plan which had already been set in operation by the Government of India These gentlemen would also prepare an extensive catalogue, whieh would explain all the uses of tho various products, the conditions under which they were grown, and all other matters connected with them. The sample collections would not be confined to London, for branches would be established—and already one or two had been started—which would be supplied with whatever samples could be spared from the main building. Other matters, suoh as the promotion of technical and commercial education, would also be taken up, and it was hoped that there would be sufficient funds to establish technical scholarships, which would be open to boys in the colony as well as to boys at Home. Another thing that the Institute would undertake was the encouragement of the emigration of a desirable class of people to tho colonies. Every information as to climate, wages, quality of land, etc., would be given, so as to let every inquirer know the conditions of life he would meet when he arrived at the colony which he proposed to make his home. The information gleaned regarding the colonies would be disseminated among mechanics' institutes, literary associations, workmen's clubs, and other bodies of a similar kind, so that every man, woman, and child at Home would have within their reach the most reliable information as to the colonies. In conclusion, Sir Somers said he would be happy to answer any questions which might be put to him. Mr James Smith asked what would be i the future relationship of the Colonial Insti- 1 tute to the Imperial.
Sir Somers Vine said that he could not look into the womb of Time, but might say that at present the relations were of the most friendly character. Within the last few months the Colonial Institute, of its own motion, agreed to a system of affiliation with the Imperial Institute, and he had no doubt that the happy relationship would be continued. What the future of the Colonial Institute, with so big a brother running side by side, would be he oould not say, but he had no doubt whatever that the relations between the two would be even more cordial than at the present moment.
Mr J. Allem : In what method does the Imperial Institute propose to have the principal colonies represented on the governing body ? Sir Somers Vink was very glad that question had been asked, because it enabled him to tell those present that the Institute had a special claim upon the sympathy and interest of the colonies in that they would be directly represented. Under the instructions of the charter the Institute was directed to frame a constitution giving the necessary power, and before he left England it was settled that this should be done, and that there should be representation upon the governing body in proportion to each colony's population and commercial importance. The New Zealand Government would certainly be asked to nominate representatives. He might mention that Sir Dillon Bell was a prominent member of the temporary governing body. Sir Robert Stout said he had been asked to move a vote of thanks to Sir Somers Vine, and in doing so he would say one or two words on the question. The lecturer had appealed to the meeting from what might be termed the egoistic standpoint, and perhaps that should have been so. It was apparent now that if England and her colonies were to maintain the position in trade which they had attained they would have to put forward efforts to keep up that preeminence. In the German Empire an effort, such as England had not put forward, was being made to weld the whole Empire to give her industrial and commercial eminence. He looked on this Imperial Institute as a step in bringing together England and her colonies in order that England might maintain her industrial and commercial preeminence. That should be done by some kind of cooperation, and Sir Somer Vine's address showed how it could be done. The appeal made directly to us should not fall on barren ground, for unless New Zealand took advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Imperial Institute, neither her industries nor her wealth would be fully known to the British people. He was not going into the vexed question of Imperial Federation, and should only say one word about it, and that was this : some people said that if we had an alliance with England we should in some way cripple our own national life. Of course we must look forward to some kind of distinct national life, but it would not be affected if we maintained our alliance with England. Tho point was this : that some of us, the longer we were in the colonies and the longer we were from Home the less did we feel in touch with England—certainly not so much as we ought to feel ; and he thought that this Imperial Institute would help to keep us together as one people, and tend to prevent such a thing as separation taking place between England and her colonies. On that point he felt strongly. Of course if the great horror of war should come upon us we should find our best defence in a union with the Mother Country, but he believed that the closer alliance proposed by the establishing of the Institute would do more for us and for humauity than all our funs and ironclads. He looked upon this mperial Institute as a step towards keeping us closer to England as part of the Empire, and that it would help to make us feel that our lot was cast in with her, no matter what might come. That was a matter in which we should teach our young pcopte : that they should be proud to belong to au empire second to none in tho world. He had listened with pleasure to the address that had been delivered, and thought the lcaat thing they could do would be to thank Sir Somers Vine and express sympathy with the movement he was advocating. If he got the kindly feelings of the colonies aroused, the Institute would be of real importance. Sir Robert concluded by moving—" That this meeting tenders its warmest thanks to Sir Somers Vine for his address on the aims and ends of the Imperial Institute, and expresses its hearty sympathy with tho Institute."
Mr J. M. Ritchie seconded the motion, and in doing so referred at length to the advantages that would accrue through the establishing of the Institute. Mr Kimcell regretted to see that tho Colonial Institute was to bo wiped out of existence, and ho did not iike the title of the Imperial Institute, for the word "Imperial" was not associated to tho English ear with freedom. He thought that no other bond was required in the way of federation except by our contribution to the navy. Mr J. Allen said that the Colonial Institute was not going to be wiped out of existence, but would retain its own existence in integrity. To tell the truth, he looked upon the Imperial Institute with a more favorable eye because the Colonial Institute was going to join its forces with it. But for that he should not have anything like the faith in the Imperial Institute that he had ; but from the fact that this Institute was to be aided so much by the Colonial Institute, he believed that the Imperial Institute might do much good. If the Colonial Institute were to be wiped out it would be a different matter. But he thought Sir Somers Vine would agree with him that that was not going to happen. As a fact, the Colonial Institute had long had as one of its aims the establishing of a museum of colonial products, but had not been able as yet to carry out tho idea owing to want of means. Mr Jons M'Lean, referring to Sir Robert Stout's remarks on the efforts of Germany to promote union, said that Germany had coerced her peoples into union, but when England tried the policy of coercion it was not very successful, and she had not lost sight of that experience.—(Laughter.) Sir Robert Stout explained that what he had said about Germany did not refer to her colonial policy, but to her trade. He referred to what she had done in Samoa and other parts of the Pacific, as compared to what England had done.
The motion was then put and carried, and
Sir Somers Vine returned thanks, after which he moved a vote of thanks to the chairman.
The Chairman, in reply, said he hoped shortly to be in a position to put before the Exhibition Commissioners a tangible project for sending to the Institute from the forthcoming Exhibition a collection representing the productions of the colony, and in about a year it would, he thought, be ready to send to the Institute.
IMPERIAL INSTITUTE., Issue 7926, 6 June 1889
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