Speech Seconding a Vote of Thanks to the Hon. James Bryce MP.

By William Morris

I think we all owe our hearty thanks to the Chairman for the extremely sympathetic and most eloquent speech which he made, as well as for his kindness in presiding here to-day. It encourages us much to know that a man of his education and culture, and general sympathy with all human progress, is so entirely with us in our work. I am also glad to see him here as a representative of the University of Oxford, which we have just been quarrelling with in our Report, and not without reason. I know very well there are many who, like him, are sorely grieved at the destruction which has gone on there, though they have not been able to prevent it in the teeth of the general Philistinism of the place. I think that some of our members who spoke on the subject of the possibility at some future day of a sort of control by the State of our public buildings, went somewhat off the question. I believe what we are thinking of is that State interference should be used rather when it was a question of pulling a building down altogether, or of preserving it in some form. There are cases when a building would not be pulled down if it could be used. That has been one of our great difficulties in endeavouring to persuade public bodies to allow threatened buildings to stand. They say, Such and such a building will not suit the purpose we wish to use it for, and we can find no other use for it. Such a difficulty it appears to me the State might solve by finding a use for the building and so preserving it. At present, public bodies feel that they must first of all consider the pecuniary interests entrusted to them, and that they have no authority to release them from this obligation. This in certain cases the State could do, to the great advantage of the arts. Once more I call upon you to give the heartiest thanks to the Chairman.

Bibliographical Note


Speech Seconding a Vote of Thanks to the Hon. James Bryce MP. (1882).


1. 9 June 1882: Before the Annual Meeting of SPAB held in the lecture hall of the Society of Arts, John Street, Adelphi, London. The Hon. J. Bryce, M.P., was chairman.


1. [Untitled] in Society for the Proptection of Ancient Buildings. The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Society, (London 1882), pp. 46-47.

The reference to this piece of work in the Chronology