19 JULY 1851, Page 15


THE one thing to insist upon, and to concede, in the Winter Gar- den question, is inquiry. The question is not yet ripe for a de- cision in either of its branches,—whether the public really wishes it or not ; whether the plan is practicable or not ? At a guess, we might dismiss the whole discussion by assuming negative or affirmative ; for "much is to be said on both sides of the ques- tion": but there is no necessity to decide by guess. It would be foolish to rush into sempiternal engagements to uphold the glass house for ever; but it would be the height of folly to pull it down in haste, and then discover that we should have liked to keep it up.

Petitions there are both for demolishing and sustaining; and at the present showing there is a certain balance of deficiency on both sides. In society generally the presumption is that the building will stand ; and undoubtedly the wish is father to the thought : but it is a very vague, irresponsible, and unthinking thought, which has no specific data, and no particular object, but much faith in Paxton. On the other hand, the objections are eminently specific, but then they are almost proportionately erroneous or par- tial. It is objected, for example, that the building cannot stand because two-thirds of the supporting pillars are made of wood ; whereas they are all made of iron. The objection is specific, but it is not tenable. Again, the objectors are less anonymous and irresponsible ; but they are known to have personal piques and pre- judices, and can almost be enumerated by name. Another point worthy to bear in mind is, that the same sort of opposition, only on a larger scale, was originally urged against the Exposition and all that belonged to it; an opposition instantly con- verted, in the vast majority of cases, at the first sight of the thing itself. The same conversion might be effected in the minds of those who cannot see the Winter Garden by anticipation.

Lord Campbell, the Quarterly Review, the Dowager Lady Cla- rendon, and other influential authorities of the same class, aver that the project is impracticable, unpopular, detestable, "suffo- cating and steaming." Mr. Paxton, " Denarius," and other enthu- siastic persons, aver that the scheme is practicable, popular, de- lectable, salubrious and delightful in climate : there are facts, ob- vious and easily tested, to supply the materials for a probable de- cision on these wholly opposite averments; and the one thing to do is, not to precipitate a decision until you really know what you are going to decide.