HC Deb 09 September 1831 vol 6 cc1249-305
Mr. Spring Rice,

in moving that a sum of 30,000l. be granted, for enabling the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to assist in the education of the people, said, that to explain to the House the grounds upon which such a motion was made, and the mode in which it was intended that that sum should be appropriated, fell more properly within the department of his right hon. friend, the Secretary for Ireland, than within his own; he should, therefore, leave in his hands the task of laying before the House the views of his Majesty's Government on the subject of Irish Education.

Mr. Stanley

agreed with his hon. friend, the member for Limerick, that to detail to the House the views and intentions of his Majesty's Government on the subject of Irish education, and to give a sketch of the plan to be proposed for carrying on a system of national education, fell more properly within his own province than within that of his right hon. friend. The question to be brought under their consideration was not whether a sum of 10,000l., or 20.000l., or 50,000l. should be granted annually out of the national income for the purposes of education in Ireland; but they had this important and delicate problem to solve, namely, how the sum granted could best be applied in promoting the welfare, prosperity, and happiness of the people for whose benefit it was intended. It was not, as some might suppose, a matter of complete indifference how such grants should be applied; it was, on the contrary, a matter of overwhelming political importance. In the conduct of a discussion such as that in which the House was about to embark, and the subsequent administration of such funds as might be granted, it was a matter of the utmost moment, that they should proceed in a manner the most cautious and guarded, that they should act upon nothing but the most satisfactory, evidence for it was a subject more than any other calculated to excite religious animosity. In looking at Ireland with reference to a question of this nature, or indeed with reference to any matter whatever, he could not regard it in any point of view as separate from the empire at large. When he looked to the evidence and the authorities to which his attention was naturally directed, preparatory to bringing forward a motion of this nature, he could not but feel relieved of some portion of his difficulties on discovering, that the intentions adopted by his colleagues in office were in perfect accordance with the principles laid down by every Committee of that House, and every commission appointed by the Crown, that had ever made a report upon the subject. However, the experience of years had proved, that it was much easier to lay down a specious theory, than subsequently to follow up that theory by beneficial practice. The Commissioners of 1812 not only stated in general terms, that no system of popular education could ever operate advantageously in Ireland, which outraged the feelings and prejudices of the great mass of the people, but, that none could be productive of good which was not entirely free from all suspicion of interference with the religious sentiments of the people. The sentiments of the Commission of 1812, and those of 1824, and 1825, fully accorded with the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons which sat in 1828; and that of 1830, cordially concurred in those views. Then the great problem was, how the views of those several Committees and Commissions could best be carried into effect—how be carried into effect in a manner which would not defeat the objects upon which all wise, impartial, and benevolent men were agreed. The question was, how religious, moral, and literary instruction could best be imparted at that period when the human mind was most susceptible of impressions, whether for good or for evil, and how companionship and kindly feeling could, at an early age, be best promoted between Catholics and Protestants. How friendships could best be created and cemented at a period when human beings are the most soft and ductile, and under circumstances capable in some degree of resisting the separations and perhaps dissentions of after-life. When the Irish government was first induced to assent to a grant for the promotion of education in Ireland, it found a Society already established, with very moderate funds no doubt, but still in existence and prosecuting the work in which it wished to engage. The income of this Society, derived from individual subscriptions, did not amount to more than 250l. per annum. One of the leading principles of that association was, that without trenching on the rights of others, or the freedom of opinion and action on religious matters which ought properly to belong to them, it desired to make it indispensable that a portion of the Holy Scriptures should every day be read by those pupils who were capable of reading and understanding the Sacred Volume, There was nothing which could sound more fair and liberal than that—at least to Protestant ears, for they of course adopted the Bible as their only rule of faith. He, in common with all Protestants, claimed the right of private interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, but it was, with all its plausibility, impossible to conceive a rule which more completely excluded from the benefits of the Society, those who did not admit the Sacred Scriptures as their whole rule in matters of doctrine and discipline. He adverted to those facts, from a conviction that the government of Ireland at that time went too far for the liberality of the day; they aimed at taking in all classes, and if the experiment failed, it was not so much to be attributed to the Society, acting as a private body, as it was to be attributed to the government of the day, which adopted and made national a system utterly unfitted for the Irish people. They were rash and hasty in taking up such a Society, and it now only remained for the Legislature of this time to do all in its power to remedy the evil complained of; and he must say, not without reason, however, he was bound in candour to say, that though the Kildare-street Society was suspected of being a proselytizing Society, he did not think that that accusation was just. He, looking at the doctrine and principles of the association, asked himself, had it the effect of spreading general education amongst Protestants and Catholics? He asked himself, was it not founded on some fallacy that prevented its success? In using the words "prevented its success," was he to be understood as meaning to say, that there were but few schools established, and only a small number of pupils attending them? He found, on the contrary, that the increase of schools was very astonishing; but it was to a large extent to be accounted for by the voracious appetite for education, which led the people of Ireland to seek any education at any disadvantage. In despite of all obstacles, that voracious appetite had worked well for the people of Ireland. It was evident, as he had already stated, that to establish a Society on the footing on which the Kildare-street Society had been established, was to exclude the Roman Catholics from it. But though that was the case, he did not intend to lay any blame at the door of those who had the management of the Society, for no doubt they discharged their duty in that way which they thought most conscientious and desirable. The blame belonged properly to the Government, which, instead of adopting the means that would have made the Kildare-street Society a national benefit, had suffered its management to remain in hands unqualified for the task. The scheme of the Kildare-street Society was one which it was absolutely impossible should ever have succeeded in a country five-sixths of which was Roman Catholic. In order that the Committee might rightly understand what had been the progress of the Kildare-street Society, from its commencement, he would lay before them a few facts relative to what had taken place since that association became connected with Government. In 1816, the number of its schools was more than in 1817; there were eight schools, and 557 pupils; and this had gradually gone on increasing till, in the year 1830, there were 1,620 schools, and 133,896 pupils; while the grants of the Government, which at first had been only 6,000l. per annum, now amounted to 25,000l. He was ready to admit that, through the instrumentality of this Society, education had been diffused in Ireland; but what they were bound to ask, and the Government in particular was bound to ask, was, whether that diffusion was sufficient to warrant the munificent grants that had been made? In order to answer that question, it would only be necessary for him to state to the Committee the proportion in which the different provinces of Ireland sent pupils to the schools of this Society. In Ulster—in the Protestant province of Ulster—there were 84,896 actual pupils, out of a total of 134,000, and 1,021 schools; while in Leinster there were only 22,000 pupils, and 247 schools; in Connaught, 11,000 pupils, and 112 schools; and in Munster 16,000 pupils, and 240 schools; while the gratuities were 1,303l. to Ulster, 3651. to Leinster, 150l. to Connaught, and 2851. to Munster. So that in Ireland, where five-sixths of the population were Roman Catholics, nearly two-thirds of the whole benefit of the Society went to Protestant Ulster; while the other three Catholic provinces had only one-third to their share. Looking, then, at these facts, he naturally asked himself, from what did they arise?—did they arise from any reluctance on the part of the Catholics to accept a boon from the hands of the Imperial Legislature? Such he did not believe to be the fact. Let the House, then, consider if there were any thing in the tenets or character of the Society, or the nature of its proceedings, to account for the condition in which Irish education was at present to be found. On looking at the regulations of the Society, they found its first rule to be, that the Holy Scriptures were in every school to be read without note or comment. Was there a Catholic in that country, or in this, who would not instantly say, that such a mode of conducting the education of youth was repugnant to the principles of the Catholic Church, and that such a rule was one to which no conscientious Catholic could submit, and one which no Catholic clergyman, exercising no more than the due influence which the pastors of every Church ought to possess, would not, according to the doctrines he professed, feel himself bound in duty to denounce? As pastors of congregations, it was one to which the Catholic clergy could not submit. Did he mean to say, however, that a small number of the Catholic clergy might not be found supporting the schools of the society, and even a few Catholic children attending them? Certainly not; he knew that a small part of the Catholic clergy did support the schools. But did it therefore necessarily follow, that the system was a national system, and one suited to the wants and condition of the people of Ireland? He did not stand up for the purpose of stating what might, or what might not, be the doctrines of the Society, it was enough for him that he found them requiring that with which Catholics could not comply, even though they did leave to the master, or other teacher, the choice of that portion of the Scripture which should be read, and the choice of the pupil by whom it should be read. This so-called religious education, purchased as it was by so large an expenditure of money, and by the loss of so much charity and good feeling, which, but for it, might exist, amounted, after all, to only reading a chapter in the Testament. Was there any Member who could call such an education a religious education? and yet the efforts of the Kildare-street Society were limited to that. He would ask any sincere Christian, whether he believed that all that was sufficient to the religious education of a child, was to make him read a chapter of the Bible, without any explanation of it further than what his own imperfect mind might afford. Was there any Protestant father in the empire that would dream of putting a child of five years old down to the Bible, and leave him to draw his own conclusions? He thought that in this respect they would do well to take a lesson from the evidence of Dr. Doyle, of whom, whatever difference of opinion, there might be as to his tenets, there could be none as to his earnestness and sincerity. He alluded to the evidence given by Dr. Doyle before the Committee of 1830, and he could not better express his own views than by quoting the remarks of that gentleman. "Are you acquainted," he was asked, "with the system on which the Kildare-street' Society carry on their schools?" "Yes," he replied, "tolerably well. I witnessed it as it is exemplified in my own schools every day".—"In the schools which are managed under your superintendence, and conducted upon your rules, do you consider their system to be applicable to the education of both Protestants and Catholics equally?"—"Their system, of course, is not; because their rule excludes religious instruction, which we require as an essential part of education. Then, as a substitute for that religious instruction, their system requires the reading of the Sacred Scriptures, by children who have acquired suitable proficiency, without note or comment. There are, in that system, three inconveniences as they regard us: the first is, that it excludes religious instruction in that shape and manner in which we think it necessary to have it given to young and tender minds, namely, catechetical instruction by way of question and answer; and, in the second place, it is inconsistent with our notions of conveying Scriptural knowledge to give the Scriptures to a child to read, leaving him to form upon the sacred text what notion he pleases. Therefore, as their rule excludes all comment, whether oral or written, upon the Scriptures, we, who maintain that the Divine Revelation is to be interpreted by the Church, cannot at any time agree with them. Whilst these rules, therefore, exist—the one excluding catechetical instruction, and the other prescribing the reading of the Scriptures without note or comment—their system can never make any progress in Ireland; but if it were freed from those inconveniences, it would be hard to devise a system better calculated to effect good."—"Then your objection to that system is not to the reading of the Scriptures as such, but to the mode in which, and the discipline under which, Scripture reading is given?"—"Most certainly not to the reading of the Scriptures themselves, for I prescribe that they be read in all our schools; and the various memorials presented by the Catholic Bishops in Ireland to successive Lord-lieutenants there, and the various petitions presented on their behalf to Parliament, shew, that they have, at all times, wished for religious instruction, as the basis of education in schools; which religious instruction, in their opinion, should consist, in part, of reading the Sacred Scriptures; so that, upon that subject, there can be no doubt what our doctrine and discipline are. We have laboured very much to make it known to every one, and to remove the impression which unfortunately prevailed generally in England, that the Catholic priesthood and prelacy were opposed to Scriptural education—than which no greater calumny was ever sought to be affixed upon the character of men." Men might more or less confide in the sincerity and truth of the right reverend Doctor, but no man could do more than justice to the indignation with which, in the face of the country, he repudiated the idea of the Catholic clergy being averse from the perusal of the Scriptures. In referring to this evidence, and in making these observations, it must not be supposed, that he (Mr. Stanley), or that the Government, on whose behalf he was speaking, was opposed to religious instruction; on the contrary, what he wanted to see was, its diffusion, on such a principle as should inculcate charity and good will, instead of promoting discord and evil. It might be true that, by the present means, they were giving education to Ireland, but would they be giving a benefit to it by means of that education, if it was contrary to the religious feeling of the country? but those who under took to argue in favour of the Kildare-street Society were in the habit of saying: "only allow us to keep on; only continue the grants, and we must finally succeed." But such success as that was contrary to a feeling of charity, for it would be a success in spite of the religion of the people, in spite of the precepts of their faith, in spite of the dictates of the priests; and could it be the object—ought it to be the object—of Government to promote a success on such terms as these? Their object ought to be, not to oppose the Catholic priesthood and the people, but to bring the priesthood, and the people through their influence, into an amicable and friendly relation with the Government. He would not then go deeper into an important subject, immediately connected with the topic he had just noticed; he would not advert to the means of drawing closer the tie which would bind the Catholic clergyman to the State. His object would be, looking to Ireland, and looking to it in apolitical view, not to aim at diminishing the influence of the Catholic priesthood, for that influence produced benefit to the community nine times for once that it yielded evil. Did he propose to do as the Kildare-street Society had done, holding out to the Catholic people of Ireland the tempting boon of education, and at the moment the cup approached their lips, dashing it away for ever? No. The sense of duty entertained by the Catholics, the commands of their priests, made them reject that cup, the contents of which, they were assured, was poison. The doctrines and principles which he imputed to the Society were those which he would maintain they held, and he called the attention of the House to the very last report of their Committee in verification of what he affirmed. There was a passage, he observed, in that report, which certainly would make him hesitate to say that this was a proselytizing Society. That passage stated, that no surprise ought to be felt when the Roman Catholics refused to receive the Bible instruction of the schools without note or comment; but why should the members of the Society on that account break down the goodly system of their house to meet the Catholic views of the fancied improvement? ["hear, hear" from Mr. James E. Gordon.] The hon. Gentleman who cheered, and who was chiefly remarkable for his over zeal on religious matters, was very much mistaken if he supposed that the Protestant religion was gaining ground in Ireland, either by such discussions as he had promoted, or by such proceedings as those of the Kildare-street Society. The real fact was that, according to the system on which this Society was conducted, it was in vain to expect that the religious parties in that country could ever be brought together, as was fully proved by every part of its proceedings. It was now not to be denied that the great majority of the Catholic clergy protested against the principles and practice of the Society. Again, he would ask, was he the less to be considered a good Protestant for making these observations? or did the House imagine that the Kildare-street Society was calculated to promote the growth of Protestantism in Ireland, and afford a system of education suited to the people of Ireland? Did any one suppose, that an imaginary system of education was better than that which was real? The plan which he had in view would, for the future, afford the people of Ireland the advantages of a combined literary, and a separate religious education. Experience teaches, that endless controversy must arise from any attempt to give religious instruction to children of different religious persuasions. It was evident, that as the Catholics formed five-sixths of the population of that country, the tutors, if fairly appointed, ought to be in the proportion of five Catholics to one Protestant. But what was the fact? The appointments last year had been 148 male tutors, out of which 123 were Protestants, and only twenty-five Roman Catholics; and fifty-six female tutors, out of which forty-eight were Protestants, and only eight Roman Catholics; or, to make a general summary, there were 204 appointments, of which 171 were Protestants, and only thirty-three Roman Catholics. Another extremely strong objection which he had to the present system was, that every thing and every person connected with it, were altogether irresponsible to the Government; and yet the whole of its operations was carried on by means of legislative grants of money. Nor was the Government able to prevent this. The gentlemen who had the direction of the Society, on any such attempts being made, had ready, as an answer—"The Society is ours; and if you choose to make use of our Society, we expect that you will submit to our rules." But there was one thing which the Government could do: it could withdraw the grant from the Society—and that it would do. The violent partisans of both religions, would, no doubt, be glad to have separate grants for separate schools, but to this the Government would not consent. The Government had taken away the parliamentary grants from the Protestant Charter Schools, and, in like manner, it would not consent to grant any money exclusively in favour of the Catholics. What was then intended to be proposed? That the Government should take a vote of 30,000l., being the gross amount last year granted to the Kildare-street Association, and the Society for Discountenancing Vice. The House were, of course, aware, that the grant for the Society for Discountenancing Vice was in course of reduction, and would finally be abolished, leaving that Society within the limits of its individual resources, which he had reason to believe were extremely narrow. With respect to the business of education, they proposed to follow the course recommended by the Committee which sat last Session, and of which his right hon. friend near him was Chairman. He proposed, that the money should be placed at the disposal of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and the conduct of the schools left to the direction of a Board, partly Protestant, partly Catholic: thus, he trusted, supplying sources of confidence to both parties. The Catholics of Ireland could not be expected to confide in a Board exclusively Protestant, neither would he be disposed to vest all the power in the hands of Catholics. The teachers would be appointed by that Board, and the general direction of all the Government schools left in their hands. He was as fully aware as any hon. Member could be that the great difficulty would be the choice of a Board. The general principle upon which he intended that the schools should be conducted was, that one or more days in each week be given up to separate religious instruction, and the other days appropriated to general literary instruction, combining the members of both persuasions. It was thus anticipated, that both would be led to mix, without animosity or ill-will. At the same time, he was ready to admit, that it was perfectly possible, that the proposed Board might disappoint the expectation which was at present entertained by himself and his colleagues; but if that should be the case, he was convinced that the Ministers would meet with no opposition from that House, if they should ask for the consent of Parliament to establish a Board of paid Commissioners, provided it could be shewn, that such a step would be calculated to ensure success to the plan which he had in view, and that education would be effectually given to the people of Ireland. He proposed, in some degree, to follow the course of education adopted in Dr. Doyle's schools, except that, in those, the teachers were all Catholics. It was also proposed to adopt from the Kildare-street Society their excellent model school, and their plan for sending out cheap books. As an evidence of the excellence of the latter system, he would observe, that the expenditure for cheap books last year amounted to 9,3501., and the repayments to 6,427l., effecting a vast amount of good at a trifling expense. It was upon these grounds, and with these views, which he had stated to the House (perhaps at greater length than he ought to have done, though he had endeavoured to avoid entering into details which might prove tedious to the House), it was with these views, that Government proposed, in a future year, to submit their estimates to Parliament. He was bound to say that, in the course of the present year, some portion of the vote of 30,000l. must, in all probability, be devoted to the Society, which had hitherto enjoyed the grant; and for this reason, which, he thought, would be admitted to be a just one, even by those most opposed to the grant: at the present moment, three quarters of the year had expired, and, therefore, much of the money must necessarily have been expended before the estimate was brought forward. With respect to these sums so expended, the Society had a peculiar claim, because they had been expended (he admitted objectionably, but that was the fault of the Legislature), on the private responsibility of the Society. The Society was obliged to meet the ordinary and current expenses on their own private responsibility, and he, in obedience to the views entertained by his Majesty's Ministers, had informed them, and he hoped the House would not think that he acted improperly in so doing, that they needed not be under any apprehension, with respect to the expenses to which they had pledged themselves, in expectation of having the usual grant of money voted to them by Parliament. The truth was, that the Society was obliged to make its engagements at an early period of the year, or otherwise the whole machinery of the institution would stand still; the establishment would, of necessity, be closed, education cease, and the whole system be prematurely dissolved. At the same time, it was necessary to state, that after making a most liberal allowance for these expenses, there would be, in the course of the present year, a considerable surplus applicable, by way of an experimental grant, under the direction of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He thought, that such would be the case, because, at the commencement of the year, there was a balance of 6,000l. in the hands of the Treasurer of the Kildare-street Society. It was true, that he might be told that this balance was liable to engagements previously formed; and that, therefore, if there had been a similar expenditure in the course of the present year, though there might remain a similar balance, yet it would be liable to similar engagements. He hoped he was not going too far, when he said, he was ready to admit, on the part of Government and of Parliament, every fair engagement which might have been entered into for the present year on the part of the Kildare-street Society. He was aware that it was necessary for the Society to enter into engagements some time previous to the estimate being submitted to the House; and he was willing to meet every fair engagement for which the Society had made itself responsible, with the knowledge that the grant would not be extended beyond the present year. If it should prove that, at the expiration of the year, the sum of 6,000l. remained in the hands of the Kildare-street Society, to meet the views of Government, but liable to engagements fairly contracted, he should, actuated by a spirit of fairness, come down next year to Parliament, and ask the House to refund that balance to the Society. He stated this, because there were some items, for which it was necessary that engagements should be formed, the estimates of which could not be made till the close of the year, or the commencement of the following year. He thought it fair to state this to the House, declaring, that it was not the intention of his Majesty's Ministers to apply to Parliament for any future grant, beyond the service of the present year, to the Kildare-street Society. Having stated thus much, it now only remained for him to express a hope, that he had explained his views with that temper and discretion which he felt the full importance of preserving in the discussion of this subject. It had been his wish to avoid, as much as possible, giving offence to the most zealous Protestant or Roman Catholic. He had stated his views fairly, without intending to make any distinction between the two parties; and he hoped and trusted, that both sides would continue the discussion with temper and kindness, and abstain from any expressions which might lead to irritation and animosity. Nothing further remained for him to do but to second the Motion.

Mr. North

concurred with the right hon. Gentleman as to the propriety of conducting the discussion with temper and calmness. He should endeavour to do so. The right hon. Gentleman had given the Committee a sketch of the principles and practice of the Kildare-place Society. That the principles of that Society were founded in reason, he for one, felt the deepest conviction; and he therefore could not but feel astonished that that Society had, for a series of years, been exposed to the most unjust and unmerited animadversions. He was much pleased at recollecting, that the principle, upon which this Society was founded, in 1811, was recognized by the Government as the only principle upon which any system of education ought to be established in Ireland; he meant, the principle, of united education, by which children, whether Catholic or Protestant, would have opportunities of assembling in the same schools, and possess the invaluable advantage of becoming, by a common education, acquainted with each other, and of cultivating those habits of friendship and good-will which alone could secure permanent peace to the country in after-ages. That this was the system proposed by the Commissioners of education in the year 1812, was admitted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but he seemed to insinuate, that the Society, while adopting certain portions of the advice of the Commissioners, rejected others equally important. That was not however the real state of the case. The Commissioners in the year 1812, though they recommended the adoption of a species of education which would not interfere with the religious opinions of any person, yet strongly advised that the children might be made acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures. They considered both these principles as equally sacred, without the adoption of which they could not advise the establishment of a system of education. On a subject of this importance, he would, to avoid misconstruction, trouble the House with extracts from authentic documents. [The hon. and learned Gentleman read an extract from the Report of the Commissioners of Education, in which the importance of making children acquainted with the Holy Writings was strongly pointed out.] He had read this extract in order to justify the Government which made the grant to the Kildare-street Society; but at the same time he begged to remind the House, that this Society was not originally formed under the protection, or by the direction, of Government. It was purely a voluntary association, and in founding schools had followed up the plan of a Society which had existed in Dublin since the year 1786, composed of persons the least open to the charge of a proselytizing spirit; he meant the members of the Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers. The schools supported by the Society of 1786 contained children of all persuasions, Protestants, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics, and, as he had been informed, several Catholic priests had actually been educated in them. So satisfactorily had these schools been carried on, that in 1811 a number of gentlemen, who had had their attention attracted to the subject of national education, imagined that they could not proceed on a better foundation, or raise their superstructure on a firmer basis, than by following a plan which had proved exceedingly successful. At that period many respectable bankers and traders formed themselves into a Society for the purpose of educating the children of Ireland on liberal principles. They adopted three rules from which they were determined not to recede. The first of these was, the appointment of masters and tutors, and the admission of scholars, without regard to religious distinctions. The second rule was, the exclusion of all books of theological controversy, and the allowance of sufficient time to the children to receive religious instruction out of the school. He begged the Committee to retain this part of the rules in their memory, because it supplied an answer to many of the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman which had been received with the greatest applause by the House. The third rule was, that the Sacred Scriptures should be read without note or comment in the schools by such scholars as had obtained a suitable proficiency; and that such parts only should be selected as were best suited to the capacity and attainments of the readers; and the Society recommended that the Sacred volume should not be used as a mere school-book, from which to teach the children to read and spell. Such were the principles of the Society which, at the time was regarded by the whole country as a most remarkable example of liberality; and it was joined by persons of all persuasions, Catholics as well as Protestants. It had been insinuated by the right hon. Gentleman, that this Society was an exclusive Society. Such was not the fact. Any man who was willing to subscribe one guinea yearly, or ten guineas at once, could become a member, and enjoy equal rights and privileges in the management of the Society's concerns with every other member. In the Committee were several Roman Catholic gentlemen—one of them a barrister of high attainments—he, meant Mr. Nolan; and the hon. member for Kerry had himself been a member of that Society for no less a period than nine years. During that time he started no objections to the principles of the Association, but proclaimed it the most liberal of institutions, and one which every Roman Catholic would be justified in supporting. The hon. member for Kerry might now perhaps say, that he was either not acquainted with the principles of the Society, or that they had been departed from. The latter certainly was not the fact; and he (Mr. North) could not conceive that the hon. member for Kerry, with his great acuteness and activity, could have remained in ignorance of the rules of the Society. There was nothing in those rules at all obnoxious to the religious opinions of the Roman Catholics; and by the appointment of Roman Catholic gentlemen to responsible situations, the Society endeavoured to give a pledge that it was honestly determined to adhere to the principles which it laid down. The commencement of its proceedings also had been to appoint a Roman Catholic Master and Mistress of the Model School. The only charge remaining unanswered was that relative to the book department of the Kildare-street Society Schools. He must first observe, that previous to the establishment of those schools, the common people of Ireland were entirely dependent for their instruction on what were emphatically termed "hedge schools," and in these places of education, as might easily be imagined, the very worst books were those most in vogue, having originally found their way there through the excessive ignorance of those who established them. Now the object of the Kildare-street Society was, to remove these highly improper books from circulation amongst the poor, as text books of instruction, and to substitute in their stead others of a more useful and more beneficial tendency. In carrying this object into effect there was a book introduced, into which an extract from Mrs. Ratcliffe's novel of "The Italian" was copied, relative to some ceremonies of the Italian Church, and this quotation having been observed by some person of the faith of that Church, an objection was urged to putting such a sentence before the child of any Roman Catholic; the result was, that in the next edition of the book, the passage was altogether erased—and surely no charge could be more unfounded than one which should be raised upon such a trivial circumstance as this. But the fact was, that the main objection which had ever been raised to the Kildare-street Society by the Catholics was, that they introduced the Scriptures into their schools, and upon this one circumstance did they base the whole of their unfair and unfounded charges of proselytism. The charge, such as it was, had only recently been made; and it was totally without foundation. The Society had, in fact, on all occasions carefully abstained from interfering with the religion of either the teachers or the scholars. The right hon. Gentleman, he observed, had very truly stated, that reading the Scriptures was not sufficient, that there must be religious instruction besides, and therefore part of his plan was to put apart certain days for religious exercises. But he begged the right hon. Gentleman to recollect that the Kildare-street Society not only set apart certain days for that purpose, but allowed the schools to be open for the religious instruction of the Roman Catholic children after school hours. Still the liberal course which the Society pursued had not the effect of removing objections, to which he believed the new plan of the right hon. Gentleman would also be liable; and he would be compelled either to give up his principle of united education, or make the schools purely Catholic, into which Protestant children would indeed be freely admitted, but in which they must expect to receive Roman Catholic education. He had felt great interest formerly on the subject of national education, but latterly his views on this point had been of a very desponding character. He apprehended that it would be found at last necessary to leave the education of the Irish poor to the exertions of private societies, and he was persuaded that the Kildare-street Society would have adopted a far better course, if, when a grant was offered to it by the Government, it had rejected that grant altogether. He was disposed to think that the Society would then have effected its object with greater success. But he had no objection to let the proposed experiment have a fair trial. He had no hopes of its success, but he trusted his expectations would be disappointed. The hon. Gentleman then defended himself from a charge which had been made against him in Ireland of having imputed to the Roman Catholic clergy the introduction of improper books into the schools of that country. He hoped that in the distribution of the proposed grant, the Protestants of Ireland would be allowed their fair proportion, and he gave notice, that if he saw, at any future occasion, that the Protestants were not justly treated, he should strenuously oppose any further grant, however much inclined he might otherwise be to give the fullest means of education to Catholic children.

Mr. Frankland Lewis,

as one of those who had for some time devoted much of his attention to the subject, both officially and otherwise, felt himself bound to say a few words with respect to the proposition of his right hon. friend. The question of Irish education had for so long a time been mixed up with that other great question, now happily determined, that it had been almost impossible to separate them, so as to proceed upon any thing approaching to sound principles; but he hoped the time was not distant when the object they had all in view might be attained, and a rational system of education adopted throughout Ireland. His right hon. friend certainly would not have been justified in requiring so large a sum of money from the Committee, to be applied on the mere responsibility of the Government, if he had not entered so fully, fairly, and candidly, into an explanation of the system about to be adopted. Of this he was sure, that there must be one general system of education for all sects, or they never would succeed in producing that harmonious union of all classes which it was the great object of the Legislature to accomplish. The main difficulty, he admitted, was to discover what could be done with the Society established in Kildare-street. There could be no doubt that, at one time, at its first establishment, that Society held out very strong hopes that it would be able to accomplish the objects for which it was instituted—namely, the promulgation of a system of general education. The Catholics, from a sense of the benefits to be derived from such a system, and with the prospect of its accomplishment, gave the Society for some time their zealous support; but it at last got involved with the schools of another Society—the London Hibernian Society—whose avowed object was proselytism, and the result had been a failure of their efforts. He did not mean to cast any reflections on the Society; he merely stated the fact, that it was impossible to go into the schools of the Kildare-street Society, without perceiving from the books the connexion which existed between that Society and the Hibernian; and when it was recollected that the Kildare-street Society allowed the children to be taught from either Catechism, and that the Hibernian from only one, it was impossible not to see that the Catholics must be disposed to view their connexion with suspicion, and to withdraw their confidence from the schools of the Society. The result had been, that in many cases the children were taught no religion, because the teachers were forbidden to comment on the Scriptures, and they were read as a mere history, or compound of very discordant doctrines. He hoped, however, that the state of the schools throughout the kingdom would be thoroughly examined before they were put down, as there was a great difference between those of the north and south of Ireland. The school-books of the Society were some of the best which could be devised, and had even been reprinted in America. They should be preserved, and he also thought that the system of instructing by the schoolmasters might be beneficially retained. The principle of separating religious from other means of instruction, recommended now by the right hon. Gentleman, was, however, not a new one. It was in strict accordance, and, perhaps, had its origin in the fourteenth Report of the Commissioners for Inquiry into Education in Ireland, of whom he was one. The Catholics of Ireland had been long contending for the recovery of their privileges from those who had been their conquerors. He hoped the time was approaching when they would, in everything, be placed on an equal footing with the Protestants. Ascendancy, he trusted, they would neither attain nor strive to attain; for he had no hesitation in saying, that he was one of those who would resist that to the death. There was no necessity for the one class of religionists being taught to despise or hate the doctrines of the other. There was no occasion for any concealment of the books of instruction. All should be left open; and it would surprise many to find how far Protestant and Catholic could go before they reached a point of difference. He thought there was no occasion for insisting on the use of the Testament, but that a general Scripture-book, such as that recommended in the Report, might be very properly introduced in the place of it. That Scripture-book had been accepted even by the Catholics; but the Protestants rejected it, because, in the then state of the Question of Catholic Emancipation, they could not consent to adopt any book of that kind which did not inculcate the superiority of that religion. He must contend, that unless a plan for the education in common of Protestants and Catholics were adopted, both going together as far as they agreed, and that was much further than the majority of each religion was aware of, and separating only where they differed, it would be impossible to expect any benefit from the funds to be applied for the purposes of education in Ireland. But let him add, that, if they continued separate systems of education for Protestants, Presbyterians, and Catholics, they must for ever abandon the hope that Protestants, Presbyterians, and Catholics would harmonize and unite in that way which was so essential to the general tranquillity and prosperity of the country. He wished to observe, that in granting a sum for education, the benefits of which were to be shared by the Catholics as well as Protestants, he did hope that all those books would be kept from both which had a tendency to produce hatred, or animosity, or any uncharitable feeling toward one another. He must do justice to the Catholic hierarchy by observing, that they had consented to exclude the use of all such books from Catholics. He was the more anxious on this subject, as in many Catholic schools which he had visited he saw books of this kind in the hands of the children. This no doubt was in a great degree to be accounted for by the then political situation of the Catholics, and by the remembrance of the long period of suffering which they had undergone since the time when they were conquered. He hoped, however, that the time was come when all such feelings would subside, and that the system now proposed by Government, would, amongst other causes, tend to their total extinction.

Mr. Lefroy

said, that as the Kildare-street Society, the doom of which was about to be sealed, was one on which he had bestowed his attention during the most useful part of his life; and as this was a subject connected with education in Ireland, he hoped, as the Representative of the only University in that country, he might be allowed to say a few words on the subject, as it was one on which he felt a great interest. He trusted that he should not be considered as trespassing on the Committee by offering a few remarks on a subject which had occupied his attention for many years. There were, in his opinion, two questions to be considered on the present occasion. The first was, whether they should get rid of the Kildare-street Society before they were provided with other means of promoting education; and the next was, whether a religious education could be given to the children on any other basis than that adopted by the Society—without resting it on the basis of the Scriptures, which he understood were now to be rejected? This last point was a problem which the right hon. Gentleman was called upon to solve. How, he would ask, did they propose to give a religious education? If all human compositions were to be rejected, how were they, without the Scriptures, to teach that which rendered education really valuable? The question was, whether the people of Ireland in a body were ready to receive the Scriptures in their national system of education. That they were heartily disposed to do so, he could prove, not only from recorded evidence but by living witnesses. With respect to the first point, it should be considered, that the Kildare-street Society had now in connexion with it 10,000 schools, with 130,000 scholars, whose instruction was carried on, not less by the grant from Government than by the donations from private individuals, on the faith that the grant from Government would be continued. The Kildare-street Society had carried on its system openly; its rules and regulations were well known, and had been so for many years; yet, after the many grants made to it, it was now to be put down with only three months' notice; and on what ground? That the principles on which it was conducted were hostile to the feelings and opinions of the great body of the people in Ireland. As there were great differences of religious opinions in Ireland, the Kildare-street Society, wishing to excite those differences as little as possible, excluded from their system of education any human works, and left only the Scriptures, which, if they were denied by some to contain all the revealed will of the Deity, were admitted to be the revealed Word of God as far as they went. Now the only ground on which this could be objected to was, that it was hostile to the feelings of the majority in the country. He would let the Society be tried by that test, for he was ready to admit that Members ought not to sit there to register the decrees of any Church against the will of the great majority. He would contend, however, that the majority of the Catholics of Ireland were in favour of the plan of education adopted by the Kildare-street Society. It appeared, for example, by the Report of the five Commissioners, one of whom was a Roman Catholic, that the number of scholars in the schools established by the Kildare-street Society, at the time the Report was made, was 57,129; and that of those, 29,555 were Roman Catholics. Here, then, there was a moiety of Catholics. Again, in the Model School of the Kildare-street Society, there were 697 scholars; of whom 263 were Protestants of various denominations, and 434 Roman Catholics. Here, therefore, the Catholics were in the proportion of nearly two to one. Look at the Report of the Hibernian School Society, which the hon. Member who had just spoken had described as a proselytizing Society. It appeared that the number of children educated by them was 36,295, of whom 17,656 were Roman Catholics. Look again at the Capel-street Society. That Society educated 12,623 children, of whom 4,556 were Roman Catholics. Yet, in every one of its schools the Protestant Catechism was taught; and it was essential to them all that a Protestant should be at the head of each. If they found that in all these schools the Roman Catholics were willing to partake of education with Protestants, what foundation was there for asserting that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were not willing to receive the Scriptures in common with the Protestants, in their system of education? What more desirable mode of education was there in a country torn by internal divisions than the introduction of the Scriptures? What more rational hope was there of putting an end to the dissentions which had so long existed? What could be more to be wished than that the different parties should meet on a common ground, in order to see in what their differences really consisted? If, after such a meeting, they should finally differ, yet the disagreement would be less than it might otherwise be. For what was the tendency of a religious education but to soften the asperities of our nature, and to teach us mutual forbearance and charity? If such were not its universal effects, it was not the fault of such an education, it was the fault of the overbearing propensities of human nature. One of the great objections to the Kildare-street Society was, that the Roman Catholics being opposed to the reading of the Scriptures, would not have them read in those schools over which Roman Catholic teachers presided, or would not send their children to those schools where the Scriptures were read. Now it would be well to inquire into that allegation, and see how far it was borne out by facts to which every Member of the Committee had access. It appeared that the whole number of schools in Ireland at present for the education of the poor, was 11,023. Of those, 7,559 were under the direction of Roman Catholic masters. In 6,058 of those schools, the Scriptures were read. Deduct from those 6,058 schools, the number of schools maintained by the Protestant Societies, namely 1,900, and it appeared, that there were above 4,000 schools in Ireland under the direction of Roman Catholic masters, and unfettered by any connection with Protestant societies, in which the Scriptures were taught. How, therefore, could it be said that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were averse from the introduction of Scripture into their schools? Why, then, were they to be called upon to deprive the Roman Catholics of Ireland of the opportunity of receiving a Scriptural education? There was one circumstance to which he wished to call the attention of the Committee. Mr. Donellan, a Roman Catholic gentleman, one of the Inspectors of the Kildare-street Society, being asked by the Commission, what was the general extent of the knowledge of the New Testament by the lower classes of the Roman Catholics? answered, that he believed their knowledge of it was but vague. Yet it was on that volume they were sworn in giving evidence, and in their other civil duties. Was it not, therefore, important that they should be rendered familiar with its contents? The right hon. Chief Secretary said, that it would be impossible to give to the Catholics and the Protestants a combined religious education, without provoking controversy. But he had already stated facts which disproved that assertion. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted Dr. Doyle in support of his opinions. He would beg leave to quote Dr. Chalmers in support of his. Against the doctrines of the Roman Catholics in Dublin, he would quote the doctrines of the Roman Catholics in Glasgow. In the second Report of Evidence, it appeared that Dr. Chalmers had stated, that there were a good many Catholics in Glasgow, and that they had no objection to the introduction of the Scriptures in their schools. In one school there were 300 children who were taught from the Scriptures. He would also advert to the testimony in the first Report of Evidence of Sir Francis Blosse; who stated, that, after eight years' experience of schools in which the New Testament was read by the children of both persuasions, he had no hesitation in saying, that a mode of education, uniting Catholics and Protestants in the same system, and introducing the Bible into that system, would be most useful. What religious instruction could be of any value which was not based on Scriptural knowledge? When, therefore, the right hon. Chief Secretary said, that the Kildare-street Society did not proceed far enough in communicating religious instruction, the answer was, that it went as far as it could do, and that it left the rest to the parents and friends of the children. Regard, also, ought to be had to the feelings of the Presbyterians in Ireland. The Presbyterians would not consent to the exclusion of the Scriptures from their system of education. The disposition of the Roman Catholics of Ireland to partake of Scriptural education, was manifest from a variety of circumstances, and was satisfactorily proved by the numbers of them who had attended such of the Society's schools as made the Bible the basis of their religious instruction. Still, however, the vast proportion of that class were wholly ignorant of Scripture, to which they were denied access by their priests whose object was to destroy the Kildare-street Society. This was to be discovered from the evidence given before the Committee by Mr. Donellan, himself a Roman Catholic, and an Inspector belonging to the Society. The poor people were not to blame, nor were the Roman Catholic clergy altogether the authors of the prohibition. They were bound to obey the superior authority, to which they were subject. They were under the jurisdiction of a foreign potentate, and were obliged to yield implicit obedience to the court of Rome, from whence, in 1821, issued a Bull, prohibiting the use of the Scriptures in Irish schools. Up to that time the Kildare-street Society obtained the approval of the Catholic population of Ireland, and many of its body were members of the Society; but on the arrival of this formidable Bull (it was not of Irish origin, and had no relation to the family of that name known in Ireland, but was of the true Italian breed), hostility was immediately declared against the Society, and the hon. and learned member for Kerry came to the Committee of the Society, and apprising them of the arrival in town of the Bull, said, that the case with regard to the Society was then entirely altered, as the schools of the Society were thenceforward prohibited to the Catholic by the spiritual head of their Church, and that the admission of Testaments, even without note or comment, into Catholic schools, was condemned. Armed with such authority, the hon. and learned Gentleman, mounted upon his Bull, rode round to the Catholic clergy, and stirred them up to the most active and effective hostility to the system of education then established, and in full operation in Ireland. Up to that time, as he had already said, there was no objection on the part of Catholics to the Society, no public meeting ever held against it, nor were any petitions against it ever presented to the House until the year 1823, nor had Dr. Troy, who was then at the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, gone further than to say, he did not think the Scriptures fit school books. It was only then the hostility commenced, not, he would say, on the part of the people, but of the clergy, and he would ask the House whether, in legislating upon the all-important subject of, the education of the Irish people, the wishes of that people, or those of the Pope of Rome were to be consulted? Were the wishes, the interests, and the tranquillity of the Irish people to be consulted, or would the House act upon the dogmas taught, and the decrees issued by the Pope? The circumstances of the times required, that Parliament should act with wisdom and firmness, for they were now placed in a situation similar to that in which the British Parliament stood at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Then it was, that Parliament contended successfully against the court of Rome, for the admission only of the Scriptures as a rule of faith, and he asked, was the present Parliament prepared to abandon the doctrines of those times, or would they in any way assist in shutting out from the people the lights of Scripture which were eagerly sought for? In legislating on this subject, and acting upon what was miscalled liberal principles, they ought to take care that in endeavouring to please all sects they did not create a general indifference to religion. He still hoped they were not come to that point, for although all political distinctions, as they regarded religious opinions, were gone and for ever, they had not yet repudiated the Protestant faith. They had not yet repudiated the national religion. But they were about to commence a system by which all religious creeds were to be taught. Such a principle could not be practically acted upon, for it was inconsistent both with common sense and religion. This could neither be adopted in public schools nor in private life; for what could be thought of the man who would undertake to teach the doctrines of opposite and inconsistent creeds; and what ought to be said of a Legislature that attempted such an inconsistency of principle, as to attempt to teach conflicting doctrines of religion? If the House wished to have Roman Catholic doctrines, if such a course should be thought right or expedient, then let a separate grant be given to the Catholic clergy, to do with it as they pleased, and to teach their own doctrines as they chose; but let not the House adopt any system which would compel Catholic children to frequent Catholic places of worship, as was proposed by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. He protested against any regulation which prevented Catholic children from going to any place of worship which they wished to attend. Such a system was in reality one of exclusion and bigotry, and ought not to be tolerated by a British House of Commons. Rather let the present system exist, than to appoint teachers and pay them to teach conflicting opinions. It had been objected to the Kildare-street Society, that it had allowed itself to be involved in difficulties by its connexion with other bodies, which were avowedly of a proselytizing character. Now, he could take upon himself to say, that from the time when the Education Commissioners had reported and complained of such connexions, they were immediately dissolved, and all grants refused to the schools of such societies. He could not deny, that this objection to the Society was a fair one, but then it could be no longer urged when the difficulty was notoriously removed. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Frank land Lewis), whose experience on this subject was entitled to great consideration, had very properly advised the House to avoid the circulation of any works likely to wound the feelings of any sect, or produce any irritation between the Protestants and Catholics. How could that object be attained whilst the Roman Catholic Bishops encouraged the circulation of objectionable books, and such as were most repugnant to the feelings of Protestants? Further, by their resolutions, they protested against the use of any books but those of their own selection, and against every system of education but that of their own choosing. It was, therefore, folly, it was hopeless to think of devising any system of education which would be pleasing to Catholic priests or prelates. Whatever rules might be laid down by the House, they would be evaded, and in no instance adhered to, except when they suited the views of the Catholic clergy. As to the manner in which this grant was to be given, he objected to it entirely, as an act of injustice to the Society, which had expended money in the faith of expectations held out to them by Government. In consequence of a letter from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Secretary for Ireland, intimating an intention of continuing the grant, several private individuals had, on their individual responsibility, advanced money out of their own pockets; and in the face of this pledge the money was now to be paid at the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant for Ireland. It was, he thought, unfair as well as unkind, after all that had been done by this Society, to make such a respectable and benevolent body supplicants to the Lord Lieutenant.

Mr. Brownlow

expressed the high and sincere satisfaction with which he had listened to the statement of the right hon. the Chief Secretary for Ireland; an admirable statement—not more distinguished for its talent and eloquence, than for the sound, liberal, and practical principles by which the whole of it was pervaded. By pursuing a similar system in every branch and department of the Administration of Ireland, the British Government would be enabled permanently to secure to itself the affections of its Irish subjects. It was an anomaly to the meanest apprehension, that a Society like this should be yearly allowed to receive a sum of money from the public and common purse, for public and general education in Ireland, and that the far greater portion of the mass of the Irish people should find the doors of the alleged public schools closed against them. The system was anything but general in its principle, whilst it was notoriously partial in its application. If parliamentary aid were to be given to the education of the poor in Ireland, it was necessary, fair, and just, that that aid should be national, and that the doors of the schools should not be closed against the great mass of the poor of Ireland. It had been contended that the proposed plan would fail. Until he saw, that it did fail, he should exceedingly doubt the accuracy of the prediction. If it should fail, if it should be found impracticable to unite the children of different religious persuasions in Ireland in one common school, for the purposes of general education, then, and then only, would he admit that the public money ought to be withdrawn from such an appropriation of it, and that the people of Ireland should be left to educate their children with their own resources. He firmly believed, that none of the present Societies in Ireland, following up the present principles, would be capable of establishing a system of education which would be generally espoused or cordially followed. That was the opinion recorded by the Commissioners in 1812 and 1824, and in that opinion he fully participated. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken, had consumed much time, very unnecessarily, in discussing the abstract principles by which the Kildare-street Society was actuated. Those principles were, no doubt, very good. But the question was, whether the plan which that Society had pursued had succeeded? Had it given satisfaction to the people of Ireland? How could the hon. and learned Gentleman represent that plan of education as prosperous, as having given satisfaction, in Ireland? He was astonished to hear such an assertion; well knowing that, from all parts of Ireland, complaints were proceeding that it had failed, that it had given general dissatisfaction. He had himself presented more than one petition to the House from different districts, stating, that although the Catholics contributed to the maintenance of these schools, there was not one Catholic child in the district who attended them. What was the fact? In 1826 it had been stated before a Committee of that House, that out of 560,000 children who were at that time receiving education in Ireland, only about 55,000 were in connection with the Kildare-street Society. He might regret that a Bible education—that best of all educations—was inconsistent with the tenets of the Catholic Church; for he understood that it was inconsistent with those tenets to read the Bible without note or comment, and that the reading must always be accompanied by that of some work illustrative of the Gospel morality;—he might regret, that the plan pursued by the Kildare-street Society was not acceptable to the great bulk of the Irish nation—but it became the hon. and learned Gentleman, in his zeal to disseminate Christian learning, and, better still, Christian feeling and Christian charity, to take care lest, in the prosecution of that object, he should excite sentiments directly the reverse of those which the hon. and learned Gentleman, he was sure, would wish to excite. He repeated, that he altogether and entirely approved of the plan proposed by the right hon. the Chief Secretary. It gave him, as he believed it had given the House in general, the greatest satisfaction. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had done well in proposing the establishment of a body of Commissioners for the purpose of regulating education in Ireland. If he might be allowed to throw out a suggestion, it would be, that those Commissioners should be the paid and responsible servants of the public. He was aware that voluntary and unpaid services were often zealous and valuable; but they generally continued for a short time, and those disinterested exertions did not last. He thought, therefore, that it would be better if the right hon. Secretary at once said, "These gentlemen have laborious and valuable duties—their time is wholly occupied, and it is fit that they should be remunerated." He pressed it upon his right hon. friend to recommend the Commissioners for salaries, and that they should be appointed and removable at the pleasure of the Crown. Another important point, in his view, was, that the Commissioners should not only have the management of the public funds for education, but that all private bequests, or other contributions for similar purposes, should also be placed at their disposal; otherwise there would be two kinds of patrons—those who had the control of the public funds, and those who dispensed private contributions.

Mr. Wyse

said, that though he might differ from the right hon. Gentleman in minor details, he approved of his plan generally. The grand point was at length conceded, that Ireland was to have a national education—an education not of the few, but of the many. Hitherto there had been only a proselytizing system of education in that country. The Hibernian Society, in the face of its own declaration that it did not intend to interfere with the religious prejudices of the people, had, according to testimony before a Committee, made efforts to proselytize. The hon. Gentleman read several extracts from evidence taken before Committees, to prove that the schools established under the Kildare-street Society in Ireland, although they professed not to interfere with religious opinions, but, on the contrary, to respect even religious prejudices, did, notwithstanding, endeavour by all possible means to make proselytes. And what, he would ask, was the benefit of these labours? Those who were detached from the Catholic faith by such means, instead of acquiring a better religion, became of no religion at all—they became indifferent to all religion, and only waited for temptation to plunge into crime, while, in a temporal point of view, they suffered corresponding disadvantages. They were no longer employed, they lost their situations, and, perhaps, were sent out of the country. The Kildare-street Society had cost the public no less than 259,000l., and its advantages to the Irish nation at large were not commensurate to the expense. The same system which had been pursued by the Hibernian Society, had been adopted by the Kildare-street Society; it had circulated the Scriptures without note or comment, contrary to the principles of the Catholics, who considered that readers of the Scriptures without that aid were liable to be led into error. Under the plea of admitting the people on certain conditions, they in effect debarred them from the schools. They placed the garden of the Hesperides before them, but guarded it with the two dragons of religious prejudice and political hatred. It was said that this Society would correct former evils; yet the first fruit of its labours was, to produce the new reformation, which flourished for a few months. The system which it pursued had never succeeded, and never would succeed, in Ireland. He approved of the establishment of a Board, which he wished to be restricted to ten persons, and those to consist of individuals of different religious persuasions. He would suggest, that the Archbishop of Dublin and the Roman Catholic Archbishop, and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Synod of Ulster, should be ex officio members; that the remainder should be laymen, selected from the four provinces. With this Board he would not allow the Kildare-street Society to have any interference whatever. It should be a body appointed by the Government, and under the control of Government. He would not go into a detail of the plans he would adopt to place the schools under proper control, and keep the expense incidental to their support within defined limits. Above all things, however, he would recommend that there should be no interference with the religious opinions of the pupils; he would leave their religious instruction to the church and to the chapel.

Colonel Conolly

was strongly attached to the Kildare-street Society. Those who composed it were men of high talent, and they showed their capacity by electing persons perfectly competent to instruct. They were wholly incapable of interfering with religious opinions, and had never attempted to turn children from the schools. One of the strongest evidences of the goodness of the system was, that notwithstanding the prejudices which were entertained, and the calumnies which were uttered against it, the Society went on progressing; the benefits which it diffused were admitted to be of the most important nature by all who were not involved in political matters, and the schools increased beyond the expectations which were, at the commencement of the institution, formed by its warmest advocates. It was a Society, not for the originating, but for the promoting of the education of the poor, and the money which was contributed to support the establishment flowed more copiously from the community than from the Parliament. When such was the case, when individuals considered it to be so worthy of their sanction as to induce them to promote its objects by the unequivocal testimony of their pecuniary aid, he thought it would be as vain to deny the efficacy of the plan, as it would be superfluous to say much in its commendation. It had been said, that the Society did not give satisfaction to the people of Ireland. He could not reconcile that statement with the fact, that the children who were educated in the schools established by the Society, though every exertion was made to entice them away, left the schools with reluctance, and evinced every desire to return. The principle upon which they were conducted was approved of by the Presbyterians, and had the sanction of the Moderator. The schools were open to the clergymen of every persuasion to give instruction to the pupils after school hours, and could not therefore be said to be established on an exclusive principle. He was most ready to bear testimony to the thirst for knowledge which prevailed universally among the Irish, which was proved by the fact, that the lending libraries could not supply the demand which was made for books. He did not view the new plan which was to be introduced in a favourable light. He could not discover what advantage was to result from two days in the week being appointed for instruction, instead of a part of every day. He hoped Ministers would not abolish a system of education which had taken deep root in Ireland, and which had increased and was increasing every day.

Mr. Sheil

said, that the passage from the holy writings quoted by the hon. member for Drogheda did certainly furnish a noble political aphorism. "Above all things (says the wise man) give me your heart." It was indeed the heart of Ireland that statesmen wanted: and if the Ministers followed the course which they were now pursuing, they would be sure not to demand the affections of the people in vain. A most salutary course had been adopted by the Government. The Kildare-street Society was to be at an end. The money was to be placed in the hands of Lord Anglesea—a lofty-minded trustee—a man who would administer it with a just regard to what was due to the feelings of the Irish people, and who stood on such a moral elevation that no prejudices could ever reach him. He (Mr. Sheil) hoped that the Government would sweep away every vestige of the Kildare-street Society. As to the Model school, it might be preserved, but placed under the control of the new Board. The engine might be taken out of the old ship that was to be condemned, and placed in the new and sound-timbered vessel. He must make a few observations on the fallacy of the observations of the hon. member for Dublin University. The reports of the Committees and Commissioners of education were all against him. They all concurred in their denunciation of Kildare-street. When truth had cost so much—when 40,000l. had been laid out in search of it, that expenditure should not have been made in vain. As to the partisans on both sides, let their evidence be repudiated. He claimed no credit as a witness. The advocates of Kildare-street and its antagonists had been so steeped to the lips in passion, and imbued so deeply by the immersion, that both should be listened to, if not with incredulity, at least with a caution amounting nearly to distrust. To all, from the performers on the boards of the Association itself, to those who had played equally important parts in the moveable stages supplied by conventicles and Brunswick, clubs, let no heed be given. But what said the document? What said the reports? He must contend, that the Commissioners of Education, by their reports in 1812 and in 1825, had condemned the Kildare-street Society, and that the Committees of the House in 1827 and 1830 had adopted the reports of the Commissioners, and had also declared the Kildare-street Society to be ill-adapted to the purposes of education. These reports state, that the system to be patronized by Parliament should be free from suspicion. Was the Kildare-street Society free from suspicion? Was it not, on the contrary, branded by the entire Catholic body with the charge of proselytism, and denounced for the instrumentality to which it had lent itself, for the accomplishment of a most sinister purpose? The Report of the Commissioners in 1825 finds one conclusive fact against the Kildare-street Society—namely, that 370 of its schools are in connexion with the Baptist and London Hibernian Society, "whose course of instruction," the Commissioners state, "is contrary to the declared rule and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church." The Commissioners had embodied in their Report the evidence of Captain Pringle and of the hon. member for Dundalk. The first, the Inspector-general of Schools, admitted, that he was solicitous for the conversion of Roman Catholics, and looked to the reading of the Bible as the means of effecting his holy purpose. The second (the hon. member for Dundalk) stated, that the London Hibernian Society had grafted its system in Kildare-street, and that the reading of the Scriptures without note or comment was incompatible with the principles and practice of the Roman Catholic religion. Such was the evidence of the supporters of the Society, but he would beg leave further to quote a conclusive extract from the evidence of Mr. Bricheno, an English gentleman, and a Protestant, who had visited the Kildare-street Society, and who thus spoke of it, "Nobody in Kildare-street would avow their object was the conversion of Catholics; but it was evidently a thing which the gentlemen of the Committee desired to see accomplished, without their taking any direct steps to effect it." Could any one, therefore, say, that the Society was free from suspicion, and, not being free from suspicion, how could it obtain the confidence of the people? But if it had not that confidence, what good would it effect? None. In fact, the whole body of the evidence went to prove, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland looked with indignation at the proceedings and system of the Society. But putting the Reports of the Commissioners and the testimony of witnesses aside, and looking into the general principles on which education ought to be conducted, the whole question resolved into this—"Do the Kildare-street Society require that the Scriptures should be read, and is that practice at variance with the discipline of the Catholic Church?" The first interrogatory must be answered in the affirmative. What should be the answer to the second? There could be no doubt, the reading of the Scriptures as a school-book, as a mere manual of elementary instruction, was against the principles of the Roman Catholic Church. That settled the question. But the hon. member for Dublin University said, that the Catholic clergy were of one opinion, and the laity of another. By the way, the hon. Gentleman began by protestations of perfect liberality, but at the close of his speech it required no telescope to see the steeples of Geneva rising in the distance of those prospects which he exhibited. But is there not some inconsistency in the course taken by the advocates of the Kildare-street Society? What! were they one moment to be told that the laity were a mere senseless herd, driven by priest craft at its will, and at another that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were emancipated from this ignominious and debasing dominion? Was the Roman Catholic peasant to be a degraded slave, or a liberated philosopher, just as it suited the convenience of disputation? But he deprecated these distinctions between the Catholic laity and clergy. It was as important to conciliate the one as it was to concede to the other; or rather, both bodies were to be regarded, not only as closely united, but, for the purposes of wise legislation, as substantially identified. The Catholic clergy were composed of a body of 3,000 intelligent and educated men, and it was madness, instead of conciliating and soothing them, to offend them to exasperation. The priesthood of Ireland had an influence over the people of Ireland, and wherefore should they not? "They are the ministers," he continued, "of a religion, endeared by suffering, and fastened by persecution to the affections of the country. They superadd to the influence which is derived from their sacerdotal authority, the still better sway which is drawn from their apostolic conduct. If their dogmas go beyond (as some may imagine), their lives are within, the limits of the Gospel. There is no variance, no wide gap between their habits and the doctrines they inculcate. There are no diamonds in their mitres, nor gold in their crosiers. If they are Samaritans in belief, they are not Pharisees in sensibility. They live with the poor, and they feel for them. They are the friends, the benefactors, the companions of their flocks. If they admonish them with a parental strenuousness, they sympathize with them with more than a fraternal kindness. They are the trustees of; their little interests, the depositories of their humble solicitudes; they give them solace in sorrow, food in famine, medicine in disease; they are the sentinels of the deathbed; and in the hovel that reeks with pestilence and steams with death, they take their fearless stand, and minister to the agonies of dissolution, at the hazard of their own lives, the last and most precious consolation. If, at the dead of the winter midnight, a knock should come to the door of the Catholic priest, and he should be told that one of those who are committed to his spiritual care lies at the point of death, in need of his immediate succour; does he turn him in a bed of down, and wrap himself in the warmth and snugness of his rectorial sinecurism, that he may dream of another benefice? No; he goes forth with a celerity to which a genuine piety gives wings, though the rain should fall in torrents on his head, and (I do not exaggerate) the snow should beat against his face—through many a lonely glen, and through many a deep morass, he makes his way. He arrives at the habitation of expiring wretchedness—he places himself in perilous contact with breath that exhales mortality—receives from poisoned lips the secret of the over-burthened heart—converts despair to hope, and wafts that hope to heaven; and if this be true—and who will say that it is not true—is it matter for wonder (reality has supplied the colours of that picture which I have thus boldly painted)—is it, I say, a matter of astonishment, that men like these should have an influence over the opinions, a sway over the feelings, a domination over the nation's heart? And would it not be the height of impolicy and consummate infatuation, for the sake of Kildare-street Society, to omit to make these men your fast friends, and even to array them in hostility against you? But you have found the way to win them, and to win us. We thank the Government for its determination to leave no vestige of Kildare-street behind; and we will repay it with a gratitude more than commensurate to the extent of the obligation."

Mr. Shaw

said, that after the observations which had been made by hon. Members on his side of the House, he should not have felt it necessary to speak, were it not that all of them were members of the Kildare-street Society, and it might, therefore, be supposed that they were influenced in what they had said, by that circumstance. He, however, was wholly unconnected with that Society, and therefore, he rose to give his disinterested testimony in its favour. The leading principle of that Society was, to give the same facilities for obtaining education to all classes of Christians, without in any way interfering with the religions opinions of any. The very reports to which the hon. member for Louth had referred, had praised and borne testimony to its efficacious exertions. He did not pretend to say, that in its proceedings it had given universal satisfaction, but he believed that its members had laboured constantly and consistently in the attainment of the object for which the Society was instituted. The first principle which governed the Society was, that the teachers and scholars should be admitted uninfluenced by their religious persuasions, or rather, without reference to them, and that all religious controversy should be excluded from the Society. It was also a principle of the Society, that the reading of the Sacred Scriptures should be made the ground-work of education, but those Scriptures were to be without note or comment. These principles were most rigidly acted upon, and if they did not form a ground-work upon which both Catholics and Protestants might fairly agree, he did not know that any other could be found. It was suggested that by the present grant and its method of appropriation, all distinctions, all exacerbations of feeling between Catholics and Protestants would be done away with; but, on the contrary, he believed that thereby they would be very much increased. He believed that if the Secretary for Ireland adhered to his present plan, upon the principle of not making an exclusive grant, he would find, that this would be the last grant made by Parliament for any such purpose; for he had no doubt it would turn out to be the most exclusive grant which had been ever granted even in Ireland. For his own part he should oppose anything like exclusive education, but the Kildare-street Society was open to Catholics as well as Protestants. Mr. Donellan, a Catholic himself, to whose authority the hon. Member had referred, had expressly stated, that the object of the Catholics was to destroy the Kildare-street Society, in which object, Mr. Donellan said, they would succeed. He also thought they would succeed, for it was wholly inconsistent with the feelings of the Presbyterians, and of the members of the Established Church, that the Scriptures should be accompanied with notes and comments; and if hereafter countenance were to be given to the teaching of tenets of which the Protestant disapproved, they would, no doubt, withdraw themselves altogether from the Society. Though he had risen for the purpose of giving his opinion against the proposed transfer of the grant, yet he could not avoid saying, that he also thought that all these Societies did much better without parliamentary aid. He remembered well, that when the Sunday School Society was first instituted, it was proposed to give it assistance by a public grant. To this proposition an answer was given by an hon. Baronet, now a member of the Government, that such aid would only canker and rust the Society. The proposition was refused, and the Society flourished without it to such an extent, that no less than 200,000 children were benefitting from its instructions, and 20,000 teachers were employed in the task of instructing them gratuitously. If the present grant were to be taken away, he trusted that the cloud which now hung over the Kildare-street Society would burst and cover it with the showers of pure though private benevolence. He was not a Member of the Kildare-street Society, because he thought that it stood in no need of private aid, and that, he believed, was the reason that so small a sum had hitherto been Subscribed towards its maintenance from private sources. If it were not for that consideration, the withdrawal of the grant might be considered as a reproof to the Gentlemen of the Committee of the Society. Still, however, he objected to transfer the grant for a purpose which, according to his conception, was not a proper one. Though Catholics were admitted now to a share in the State, a circumstance at which he rejoiced, though he differed from those around him in that feeling, and must say, that the result went more to establish the correctness of the opinions of others upon the subject than his, yet he must say though he was not disposed to speak unkindly of the Catholics, that this was a Protestant State, and Protestantism was part of the law of the land, and it would not be right, therefore, to make a grant of public money to carry on the education of the people, without its being connected with what they, as Protestants, called religion. The hon. Gentleman had asked if any father would consent to place the Scriptures in the hands of his child, unaccompanied by note or comment? He would say, that he, as a father, though desirous of giving every instruction to his children upon religious matters, would yet prefer giving them the Scriptures to read without note or comment, not because he believed there were no difficulties in comprehending them, but because he believed that those difficulties were not to be overcome by human wisdom. They were equally impenetrable to the old as to the young, to the rich as to the poor, without more than human aid in their development. He had witnessed a great ceremony (the Coronation) on the preceding day, on which occasion the Bible was given to the King, in order that he might learn to be "made wise unto salvation," and in witnessing that, combined with the many alterations that, were now in progress and the many attacks made on every part of our institutions, both in Church and State, he did feel an apprehension that the time was fast coming when all kingly ceremonies were to be transferred to schedule A, and when the country must seek for a new government in the lottery of constitutions. He would not then resist the Motion, but he would give notice, that if ever this grant should be again proposed, he would oppose it in toto.

Mr. Spring Rice

conceived it his duty to say a few words on this important subject. Much had been said in praise of the plan of the Kildare-street Society, and he acknowledged that he approved of it, if it could have been acted upon. It had been stated, that the evidence of Dr, Chalmers had been in favour of that plan, but in the examination of that gentleman, he stated most distinctly, that in his opinion the attendance of children at Scripture Classes should be at the option of the parents, and no compulsion should be used towards any members of the schools. This was exactly the reverse of what the Kildare street Society had done, and was doing. The injurious influence of that Society even extended to private institutions. In Captain Owen's evidence, he stated that Lord Courtown's school, so long as it remained connected with the Kildare-street Society was thinly and irregularly attended, but as soon as that connexion had ceased, the children frequented it regularly. It appeared also from the evidence of Mr. Blake, in 1830, that out of 104,000 children belonging to the schools which were supported by the grant, 47,000 only were Roman Catholics, while out of 430,000 children educated in schools supported by private contributions, 319,000 belonged to that Church. Thus, in the schools supported by their own funds, the Roman Catholic scholars were in the proportion of nine to five of the whole; which, in his opinion, would go far to prove, that if no grants were made by Government, education would still go on; indeed it would go on better if less interfered with than at present. However, his Majesty's Ministers had, at length, brought forward a plan of education for Ireland which would be hailed by that country as a proof that its welfare was duly considered by them.

Mr. James E. Gordon

said, that he had heard so much from both sides of the House in the course of the last six hours, that he was, to use an Irish phrase, all but bothered as to the particular course which he should pursue. His first intention was, to answer seriatim the speech of the right hon. the Secretary for Ireland, but in that intention he had been in a great measure anticipated by those who preceded him, and more especially by the very able speech of the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin. He had afterwards purposed to reply to intermediate speeches on the same side, but in this also he had been partly anticipated; and as he found it no longer necessary to vindicate either the principles or the practice of the Kildare-street Society, he should proceed to take a more general view of the question of Irish education than the system of any particular institution would admit. He thought it right, however, to premise, that upon the subject of education he was no partizan. He was no further a friend to any society, or to any system, than he believed it applicable to the moral condition of Ireland. He would also observe, that he had proceeded as far as the limits of principle would admit, in the endeavour to approximate parties on this great question, and the best proof that he could give of the sincerity of his intention was the fact, that he had proposed to the heads of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, about ten years ago, the publication of the Rhemish version of the New Testament, and had actually succeeded in procuring their sanction to an edition of 20,000 copies of the work. In the same spirit, and with the same intention, he had established the Society in Glasgow, which had been alluded to by Dr. Chalmers in his evidence, where a large body of Roman Catholics were receiving a Scriptural education, under the joint direction of a Committee of Roman Catholic and Protestant gentlemen, among whom was the Roman Catholic Bishop himself. With respect to particular institutions he would say, that it was not to systems or societies, but to that authority to which all ultimate appeals in moral questions must lie, that we were to look for a correct view of our obligation on this important subject, for if the volume of Revelation contained instructions which were applicable to the subject under consideration, we were no longer free agents as to the course which we should pursue. That it did contain such instructions was perfectly clear to those who were acquainted with its contents, but as he did not mean to inflict upon the Committee the penance of what they might consider a theological dissertation, he would simply state, that the views to which he alluded had been recognized and acted upon by the great body of those who were at this moment engaged in the conduct of Irish education. It was, with this respectable and influential body, a fixed and unquestionable principle, that the Word of God should not only enter as an element into every system of popular education, but that it should constitute the very foundation of the system. Acting upon this principle, they had combined their exertions in an effort to educate the poor of Ireland, and the first thing which he proposed was, to direct the attention of the Committee to the result of the experiment. In doing so, he should follow the advice which the hon. member for Louth had addressed to them in his eloquent appeal upon the subject. That hon. Gentleman had forewarned them of Roman Catholic and Protestant prejudice upon this question, and he had directed their attention to the labours of Committees and Reports of Committees. Now that was precisely the authority to which he (Mr. Gordon) meant to appeal, and had only to request, that if any hon. Member might think it worth his while to reply to his (Mr. Gordon's) statements, he would condescend to grapple with his facts and his figures, instead of dealing in vague and general declamation. It appeared by the Report of the Royal Commission of Education, which sat in 1812, that there were at that time 200,000 children in attendance upon the various schools in Ireland. Of that number, he had calculated by reports and other data which could be relied upon, that there were 20,000 in attendance upon schools in which the Scriptures were taught. By the Report of the last Commission it appeared, that there were in 1826, no fewer than 568,964 children in attendance upon the different schools returned at that period. There was, therefore, an increase of 368,000 scholars in a period of somewhat more than thirteen years. Now this suggested a very important question; namely, in what description of schools had the increase taken place? The answer to this question must determine, to the extent, at least, that experience could be considered a fair criterion, the popular preference under the existing circumstances of the country, and perhaps the Committee would be surprised at the discovery. He had been at great pains, with the assistance of the Reports of the Commissioners, and other Reports to obtain a correct analysis of the aggregate, and he found, that there were not fewer than 330,000, out of the total increase of 368,964 collected, in attendance upon Scriptural schools. Of this number at least one-half were Roman Catholics. Could it be possible, he would ask, to adduce a more satisfactory proof of the acceptability of Scriptural education to the great body of the people? But he would make a closer approach to the actual feeling of the people upon this question, by applying a more particular test. In the schools under the Association for Discountenancing Vice, containing in 1825 an aggregate of 15,922 scholars, the Commissioners observe, with evident surprise, that no fewer than 6,344 of the number were Roman Catholics. He must contend, therefore, that if so large a proportion of Roman Catholics were found in attendance upon schools of so rigidly Protestant a character—schools in which the Scriptures were constantly read, and the Church Catechism taught—there could be no very strong objection among that body even to what was considered the most repellant form of Scriptural education. But further. In the parochial and diocesan schools under exclusively clerical superintendence, and following the same system, there were 36,498 scholars, of whom no fewer than 15,303 were Roman Catholics. In the schools under the Hibernian Society, which the Commissioners regarded as the very traps of proselytism, about two-thirds of the gross attendance were Roman Catholics. In the Kildare-street Society at least one-half the number were of the same description, and even the Baptist Society, sectarian as was the aspect of its proceedings, had a still greater proportion of Roman Catholics frequenting its schools. In descending from institutions to particular districts and parishes, he would merely instance one out of a multitude of examples. In the parish of St. Mary's, Dublin, two schools were reported in connexion with the Church, and so exclusively Protestant were they considered, that they ordinarily went by the name of "the Ministers' schools." Out of 180 scholars belonging to these schools, the majority were Roman Catholics, although there were no fewer than three Roman Catholic free-schools in the same parish. Thus he was warranted in saying, that an experiment had been made by a body of men acting upon the simple dictates of Christian obligation, and, that that experiment had effectually succeeded up to the extent of the available resources placed at the disposal of the conductors of the system. The progress of Scriptural education had not been checked by the opposition of Roman Catholic priests, but by the paucity of pecuniary resources. That their opposition was general, no one acquainted with Ireland could doubt, and that in many instances it had succeeded, for a limited time, at least, was equally certain. Still, it was by the amount of means at the Society's disposal, and not by the power of opposition, that the boundary line of the system was defined. The next question which he would wish the Committee to consider was, whether the same experience which had ascertained the practicability of Scriptural education would justify the admission of the Roman Catholic priesthood as joint conductors of a system of national instruction. This question would be answered by another, which fortunately for those who had their suspicions as to the competency of that body, was easily determined. What then, he would ask, had been the conduct of the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland, with reference to the education of the juvenile part of the population? It was, he would assert, a notorious fact, that up to the period when the stirring influence of Scriptural education began to affect their interests, they were totally indifferent to the subject. In other words, they had nothing to do with general education in any form. Then what was the course which they adopted? Their first effort was unconditional opposition, and it was not until they discovered that their exertions were fruitless that they consented to establish schools. But what was, the character of the schools which they established? Nothing, in general, could be more wretched, and as the sole object was, to withdraw the youth of their communion from the Scriptural schools which had invaded their neighbourhood, they, in most instances, relinquished the school as soon as the object of its institution was accomplished. He did not stand there as the calumniator of Roman Catholic priests, and he should now present to the Committee what he believed they would admit as tolerably conclusive evidence upon the subject. The total number of schools in 1826 was 11,823, containing, as he had already stated, 568,964 scholars. The point, then, which it was necessary to determine was, what proportion of that aggregate was receiving education under the Roman Catholic priesthood? By the sworn parochial returns of the priests themselves, it appeared, that of 11,823 schools, no more than 353 were in connexion with that body; and out of 568,964 scholars, the proportion to which they laid claim was just 53,847; that was, about one school for every seven parishes in Ireland, and somewhat less than a sixteenth part of the general attendance. But he would further remark, and it was most important that it should be attended to, that the far greater part of the schools so returned by them were affiliated hedge schools, and others of an equally miserable description, got up for the temporary purpose of the opposing Scriptural schools which had been established in their neighbourhood. This was capable of the most conclusive proof by the returns made to the Commissioners, which specified the date of the origin of each school with the time that it came under the direction of the individual patron. If this was not conclusive evidence of the policy of the Roman Catholic priesthood, as it regarded general education, he was at a loss to understand what evidence meant. And was such a discovery among criteria which recommended that body to Government as the joint patrons and superintendents of national education? But another and more important question remained to be determined, namely, the question as to the character of the education which, at the expense of a Parliamentary grant, they would, according to the proposed system, be deputed to confer upon the youth of their flocks. For it should be recollected by the Committee, with respect to the separate religious instruction to be conferred, that the Roman Catholic pr ests were perfectly free agents. That House could not dictate to the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland the theology which it was to teach to the members of the Catholic Communion, nor was any interference intended. Recollecting, then, the advice of the hon. member for Louth, he would again have recourse to the reports of Parliamentary Committees. There he found a return of a class of schools under what was termed the brotherhood of the Christian doctrine; and surely, if in any schools in Ireland we had a right to look for a fair specimen of purely and unexceptionably Roman Catholic education, it would be in schools under a fraternity which enjoyed the special privilege of educating youth, secured to them by a bull from the pope of Rome. In these schools, however, where there was no Bible, there were copies of Pastorini's Prophecies, and the Irish Historical Catechism, books well known to the public as among the strongest incitements to sedition and rebellion that could be named. The next example which he should instance would be the schools under the immediate superintendence of the celebrated Dr. Doyle, and he had a particular reason for making that selection. It might be in the recollection of the Committee, that the right hon. member for Limerick had asserted upon a former occasion, in reply to some of his observations, that the Scriptures were used in every school in Dr. Doyle's diocese. Being somewhat sceptical upon this point, he (Mr. Gordon) had requested a respectable friend of his upon the spot to visit a few of these schools, and he could now produce to the Committee the result of a visit to eight, where, with one exception, no copy of the Scriptures appeared; and where, in answer to questions upon the subject, it appeared, that they were not even read in more than two or three of the schools, and then only in small portions, by the master or mistress, when the children were leaving the school. And this was what was trumpeted forth to the British public as Scriptural education. The next example which he should select would be the schools in Dublin, under the direction of the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Bishop and his Clergy. In a list of twenty of these schools, recently visited by a gentleman residing upon the spot, it did not appear that the Scriptures were even read by the teachers in more than one or two instances, and these by no means certain. So much in proof of the fact that the Scriptures are still excluded from the Roman Catholic system of popular education, even in exclusively Roman Catholic schools under clerical superintendence, and when there was nothing to be apprehended from Protestant glosses or Protestant intercourse. He would next introduce the Committee to a view of what was actually taught in the absence of Scripture, and what it was now required by his Majesty's Government the public should support. In the list of the books published for the use of schools by the Catholic Book Society, under the patronage of the titular Bishops and Archbishops of Ireland, he found "The Grounds of the Catholic Doctrine," a book in very general use through Ireland. Among the reasons given in this work why a Roman Catholic cannot conform to the Protestant religion, we had the following:—"We are convinced that they (the Protestants) are schismatics by separating themselves from the communion of the Church of Christ, and heretics by dissenting from her doctrines on many substantial articles, and consequently, that they have no part in the Church of Christ." In the notes to "The Evangelical Life of Christ," published under the sanction of Dr. Troy in 1820, as "a very proper family and school book," we had the following specimens: "The Catholic Church alone retains the true worship into which he that enters not, and from which he that goes out, forfeits the hope of life and of eternal salvation. Whoever falls from his communion, neither is, nor can be called, a Christian." He had now to instance a work of still greater authority, which was the edition of The Christian Doctrine, revised by Dr. Doyle, and prescribed by him to be taught in the schools of his diocese. Of this work, the least that he should say was, that it misquoted, mutilated, and contradicted, the Word of God—that it taught doctrines which struck at the very root of moral obligation, and flung out of the pale of salvation those who should presume to reject them—and that it stigmatized the Protestants of the country as heretics. Sufficient, he thought, had been adduced to afford the Committee a correct view of the sort of instruction which it was proposed to promote at the expense of a parliamentary grant. And was it, he would ask, consistent to call upon the Protestant population of this country to sanction the diffusion of such principles? The hon. member for Ilchester (Mr. Petre) seemed to smile at such an appeal, and if he (Mr. Gordon) was alluding to the sort of instruction to be found in the Roman Catholic Catechisms of England, bad as he considered it, there would be less objection to the grant. But perhaps the hon. Member opposite was not aware that there was in the Church of Rome a popular creed for Ireland, and another for England—that they had a set of catechisms adapted to the ignorance of the one country, and another set of catechisms for the comparatively advanced knowledge of the other country ["no, no" from several Members.] Hon. Members might exclaim "No, no," but he pointed to the works no won the Table before him as an answer, and would give, as an example, the case of the Second Commandment, which was excluded from the catechisms sanctioned by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland, while it was taught in those which were authorised by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of England. Another, and, if possible, a more serious objection to the proposed scheme was, the effect which it would produce upon the present system of Scriptural education. It had been proved by experience, that the education of the people in schools where the Scriptures were taught was practicable, and that these schools, in despite of opposition, had made progress up to the limit of the means placed at the disposal of their conductors. But it had been also proved, that schools established by the Roman Catholic priesthood, for the purpose of opposition, had in most instances withdrawn, for a time at least, the Roman Catholic children from the Scriptural schools. Now what, he would ask, would be the effect of the establishment of such a system of general education as the right hon. the Secretary for Ireland proposed? It would, he had no hesitation in saying, drain off the youth of the Roman Catholic persuasion from the existing schools, and either rend to the earth the noble fabric of Scriptural education, or effect a complete separation between the Roman Catholic and Protestant parts of the community. It would enable the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland to effect that by means of a Government grant, which they were unable to effect in their present circumstances. In fact, it was neither less nor more than a call upon this House to co-operate in their efforts for the subversion of Scriptural education in Ireland. He would also forewarn his Majesty's Ministers, that they had no assistance to expect from the large, influential, and respectable body of men who had hitherto, at the expense of so many sacrifices, conducted the present system. They would be no parties to such a compromise of principle. They would not subscribe either their means or their exertions to overturn a system which had cost them so much; and did his Majesty's Ministers conceive that they would be able to carry any plan of education into effect in Ireland without the co-operation of that body? If so, they were totally unacquainted with the circumstances of the country, and the nature of those difficulties which every attempt to educate the people had to encounter. The clergy and gentry of Ireland might, and would, continue their exertions in the cause of education, but those very exertions would produce an effectual separation between Roman Catholics and Protestants, and thus be productive of the very consequences which the scheme of his Majesty's Ministers was intended to obviate.

Mr. O'Connell

did not think the House had ever witnessed a greater contrast than was exhibited that night in the House between the two speeches on the same subject; one by the right hon. Secretary and the other by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The one was distinguished by good taste, good feeling and charitable consideration upon those points in which others might differ from him. The other, that of the hon. member or Dundalk, was marked by the want of hose qualities, by bigotry, intolerance, and ignorance, which were new to many hon. Members, but not to him (Mr. O'Connell), recollecting the quarter from which they came. But even from that quarter, he was astonished at the length to which they had been carried in this instance, Respect for the Committee prevented him from applying the deserved terms to the charge which had just been made against the Irish Catholics. He did not rise for the purpose of replying to the farrago of bigotry to which the Committee had been listening for the last hour. The calumnies which had been just uttered, had been heard and refuted a hundred times over in Ireland. The story of the number of Catholic children who had been brought, against the will of their priests, to Protestant schools, was too stale now to make any impression. He had himself heard in the town of Ennis the story about the 400 being brought to one Protestant school. And how did the Committee think it was managed? Why the schoolmaster acknowledged that he gave each of them two pennyworth of gingerbread for coming to the school. The same master dined on one occasion with the Catholic priest, and after they had taken some glasses of wine, the schoolmaster said, "What a good thing this religion is for you and me." This had been openly stated on the authority of the priest, the Rev. Mr. M'Kiernan, and to this day the schoolmaster never ventured to contradict it, and no doubt for obvious reasons, because he could not. He was bound, however, to state, that this veracious master afterwards said, that it was said in joke. It had been stated publicly, that there were 3,100 schools in one district in connexion with the Baptist Society, and he had no doubt but that the Committee would be amused with the manner in which this number had been made out. It was thus: the actual number of the schools stated in the Report of of the rev. Gentleman who, residing in the district, furnished the Report, was thirty-one, as declared by the rev. Gentleman himself. Now, by the slight operation of adding two ciphers, the thirty-one schools were converted into 3,100. After such facts, the Committee were not to be surprised at any statements, however exaggerated, made in such quarters, particularly when such easy methods of imposition were discovered. Yet such statements had made impressions on English credulity, and the Committee was gravely referred to the figures and calculations of these societies as unanswerable arguments. The hon. member for Dundalk said, that if the Committee doubled the funds of these societies, he would undertake the number of scholars would also be doubled; of this he (Mr. O'Connell) had no doubt, considering the terms and calculations of the societies. In addition to the misstatements respecting the schools, they had heard of the often-repeated and as often-refuted calumnies against the Irish priesthood, and, amongst others, an attack was made upon that able and most excellent Bishop, Dr. Doyle. He who electrified the Committee of the House of Lords, before whom he was examined, where he answered, in reply to a question put to him respecting his income:—"It is not a matter to which I attach any importance, as I have no care for money." However, such a man the hon. member for Dundalk had selected for abuse. It was true, that the rev. Prelate had a controversy with Dr. Elrington on some disputed point, and the hon. Member might think Dr. Elrington right, but he thought Dr. Doyle right; but however that might be, the point could not be decided. The hon. Member had accused Dr. Doyle of having mutilated some passages from Scripture, and having inserted them in that state in his catechism. If such a charge could be made out, the streets of Carlow would have been placarded with accounts of it. He was quite aware that the differences which existed between himself and the hon. member for Dundalk were matters of religion; and it was no wonder that persons thinking themselves right, should wish others to think of them as they thought of themselves. The hon. Member thought the Catholics wrong: he for his part thought the Protestants wrong. But, if either of them had the proper and necessary feeling of Christian charity, which was expected from persons professing in so many things the same doctrines of Christ, they ought not to make their conscientious differences the grounds of rancorous personal hostility, and far less were they justified in making them the grounds of gross calumnies. The hon. Member said, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland had one description of catechism, whilst those of England had another and a totally different one, wishing the Committee to believe, that in this country the public see the best side of the Catholic religion, whilst its real deformity is exposed in Ireland. Could it be expected that the credulity of the Committee would go as far as to believe this statement, whilst every Catholic in both countries knew the statement was utterly unfounded? Was it possible to believe, that such a difference should exist amongst Catholics professing the same creed, and speaking the same language, and that no better proof of the fact could be found than the assertion of the hon. Member? The Committee were not to be surprised at the reiteration of such calumnies, when they knew that some persons lived and made their livelihood by their promulgation; that by their zeal and activity in giving currency to such calumnies, some individuals had been raised from low situations to occupy a place in society, and were brought into circles in which they could not otherwise expect to move. Was there, he would ask, sufficient credulity in England to be imposed upon by such statements? There was, indeed, and, he regretted to say so, enough of it in Ireland, and a profitable use had been made of it, but now it was seen through there, and the deceptions of those who had practised upon it had been detected; nevertheless, the persons who practised those arts, still talked of the ignorance of the Irish people, and referred to figures in support of their statements. The hon. member for Dundalk might have the multiplication table at his fingers' ends, but did that prove more than that he had been at school. In reply to what had been said by a Scotchman of Irish ignorance, he should not say one word in disparagement of that people, but he must be allowed to say, that some very strange men now and then went from that country to enlighten Irish ignorance, some of whom gave every day fresh proofs of their prudence in not stopping at home. He would not retort the charge of ignorance on the hon. Member's country, but he felt perfectly justified in flinging back the charge upon the hon. Member himself, for he had betrayed the grossest ignorance on subjects respecting which the most ordinary capacity might be well informed. What could be thought of the knowledge of a man who did not know, until reminded of it in the House, that he himself, an Episcopalian, was a Dissenter in his own country, and gave so many other proofs of his ignorance upon subjects with which it might be supposed he ought to have some acquaintance? The Catholic priesthood of Ireland came in for their share of his abuse, on the ground that they were enemies to education and the diffusion of knowledge. Was he ignorant of the fact, that there was scarcely in Europe a college, except that of Dublin, which was not founded by Catholic clergymen? If it were not for the dread of detaining the Committee longer, he should shew, incontestably, that the priests of Ireland were the friends of education. In every village in Ireland they had schools for the moral and religious education of the poor; and the assertion that they were inimical to education, could be refuted by every unbiassed person who had visited that country. He acknowledged that in many—nay, most—situations, their means were inadequate, and it was from that cause alone that education in that country was deficient. When the hon. Member talked of the deficiency of zeal for education on the part of the Catholics, he would ask, did not the nuns educate a large portion of the poor Irish females? and the Committee ought to know, that there was a convent in every town of importance in Ireland. These amiable ladies, separating themselves from all worldly and domestic ties, devoted their lives, in most cases, to the gratuitous education of poor female children. The education monks who had been sneered at, were, for the most part, respectable tradesmen, who, retiring from business with a few hundred pounds, devoted their time to the gratuitous instruction of poor children. The charges against these classes of persons were wholly untrue, and were only intended to impose upon Englishmen. With respect to a more agreeable topic, the project of the right hon. Secretary, he had heard it, in common with many others, with great satisfaction. He looked upon the proposed change as the commencement of a new era in Ireland, and he sincerely hoped that the promises which were made would be fully realized. No more effectual step could be taken to put down agitation; no injustice had been done to the Kildare-street Society, which had received due notice of the intention of Government. All he wished for was, that Catholic children should participate impartially in the funds apportioned to education in Ireland, but he did not wish, in the least degree, to interfere with the Kildare-street Society, or any other Protestant society, in the manner in which they educated Protestants. Let the Protestants and Presbyterians be educated in Scripture, or any other course of study they pleased; all the Catholics asked, was the benefit of education, accompanied with their own mode of religious instruction. To this it was replied, that the Catholic religion was false, and ought not to be propagated. Yet he and other Catholics were called upon to support the Protestant religion, which they believed to be false. As the fund for education was obtained from Catholics and Protestants, the children of both should equally partake of its benefits. It was charged upon the Catholics that they would not be content with equality, but that they sought ascendancy. He, for one, wished to state, and he made the declaration in the presence of that God who would judge him by what he then stated, to eternal weal or woe, that he should be as strenuous an opponent of Catholic ascendancy in Ireland as any Protestant in that country. Ascendancy only corrupted religion, and he loved his religion too fondly to wish to see it in the ascendant. The hon. and learned member for Dublin College said, that Catholics belonged to the Kildare-street Society. That was true, but he, with others, left it when they found that it had changed its principles. The statement of the influence of the Catholic priests was used in several ways, as it suited their opponents for the moment. At one time they were represented as having lost all influence, and at another it was stated, that their influence was paramount. They had influence, and he was glad of it, for the sake of the people. They were opposed to the Kildare-street Society, and when its original plan was departed from, it was checked. Its schools formerly averaged an increase of 239 in the year, but they were only now about twelve; and this falling-off took place whilst the demands for schools increased. He objected to the Society, because it had produced the most violent discontent When the Society departed from its original plan, coercion was practised. The fathers of children who did not go to the school were driven out of their houses, and the mothers to starvation and beggary; and he could prove that cases of this kind were not of rare occurrence; and he did not hesitate to say, that many of the disorders in the county of Clare were owing to that and other such societies. The unpopularity of the Society was easily ascertained by its failure, notwithstanding the liberality of the grants to it. But he was glad now to see one great cause of discontent removed; he hoped the promises and expectations of Government would be realized, and that the benefits of education would be equally extended to all classes.

Mr. John Browne

said, he should have opposed the grant to the Kildare-street Society, if it had been proposed to be continued. He was glad it was not, and that a new plan of education had been determined upon, which should have his support.

Colonel Perceval rose for the purpose of correcting an error into which the hon. and learned Member had fallen, respecting the publication of a list of 3,100, instead of thirty-one schools.

Mr. O'Connell

apologised for interrupting the gallant Officer, which he did for the purpose of explaining what he had said. It was, that a report was published, on the authority of a clergyman, stating, that 3,100 schools were established, when, upon inquiry of the reverend gentleman, he stated, that, in his report, there were only thirty-one schools named. This he (Mr. O'Connell) stated on the authority of the reverend Mr. M'Cabe, who demanded the authority upon which such a statement had been made, and the above was the substance of the answer of the reverend gentleman.

Colonel Perceval

said, the statement was made on the authority of the reverend Mr. Randall, a Baptist clergyman of great respectability. The report was published with the original and correct number of thirty-one schools in several of the newspapers, but in The Times paper, and in that paper alone, had the mistake been committed, of substituting the number 3,100 for thirty-one. This was evidently a mistake, but he thought it right to show how it happened.

Mr. O'Connell

was not aware that any pains had been taken to correct the mistake when it was discovered.

Colonel Perceval

was glad to correct any erroneous impression which had been created by the mistake, and it was now evident that it was nothing else.

Mr. James E. Gordon

said, that he rose to put himself right with the Committee. He was no match for the hon. member for Kerry in the language of the fish-market. [ cries of "order, order."]

Mr. O'Connell

appealed to the Chairman, whether the hon. member for Dundalk was not grossly out of order.

Mr. Bernal

said, that if he was called upon to give an opinion, he should feel at a loss to decide, as he had heard such language since he occupied that Chair as rendered it difficult for him to say what was or what was not in order.

Mr. James E. Gordon

said, he should leave it to the Committee to pass a judgment upon the language which had just been addressed to it by an individual calling himself a gentleman. He had called upon that hon. Member to grapple with his arguments and his facts, and he (Mr. Gordon) appealed to the recollection of the Committee, whether he had so much as attempted to do so? He had hoped, that the hon. member for Kerry had so far profited by experience as to give him (Mr. Gordon) credit for the truth of what he asserted in that House, or, at least, to give him credit for being able to prove, that what he asserted was supported by documents and facts in his possession. The hon. member for Kerry had flatly contradicted the assertion, that Dr. Doyle, in his edition of The Christian Doctrine, had been guilty of publishing misquotations and mutilations of Scripture. How, then, stood the fact? He held in his hand the publication alluded to, and the Committee should judge for itself. [Here Mr. Gordon quoted a passage in support of the doctrine of giving honour to angels and saints, in which it was said St. John did, as proved by the following text in Apocalypse xxii. 8. "I fell down, to worship before the feet of the angel who shewed me these things."] Here (said Mr. Gordon) one-half of a passage of Scripture is quoted to prove that St. John fell down before an angel, while the other half of it, containing these remarkable words—"Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not," is omitted. Again, in order to obtain a Scriptural sanction for the distinction between mortal and venial sin, an equally unwarrantable liberty was taken with 1 John i. 8, in which it is asserted, that "the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin." Into this passage, as quoted in The Christian Doctrine, the word "mortal" has been introduced, by which it appeared to the ignorant that the blood of the Atonement was only shed to free mankind from the guilt of what the Church of Rome had termed "mortal" sin. These were mere examples of the awful liberty that had been taken with the Word of God throughout the book; and nothing but a respect for the time of the Committee prevented him from quoting fifty such cases. If any member of the Committee doubted the fact, he was ready to point them out. Then again, he had been charged by the hon. Member with audacious folly for asserting that there was a difference between the Irish and English Catechisms. And was it after the use of such expressions that the hon. member for Kerry had risen to call him to order? The hon. Member, in his denial of the charge, had talked about the number and the translation of the Commandments; but it was the subject matter, and not the number of them, with which he (Mr. Gordon) was concerned. He cared not whether the number were ten, or twenty, or thirty; nor did he think it worth while to inquire about the division of that number. What he looked to was the substance; and he had now to refer the attention of the Committee to the facts of the case. He held in his hand the Irish and English catechisms, as sanctioned by the Bishops in both countries; and while the subject matter of what Protestants call the Second Commandment was omitted in the Irish catechisms, it was given in the smaller catechisms of England. The hon. member for Kerry had referred to persons who had made a profit of religious controversy in Ireland; that certainly did not apply to him, for he had never made any profit by religious controversy either in Ireland or, any where else. The world had the benefit of his exertions, such as they were, without money and without price. But he could refer the Committee to one who had made money in Ireland, not as the inculcator of Christian truth, but as the minister of strife and sedition. He could refer them to one whose exertions in that character had done more to feed the gibbet and to fill the convict ship, than all the other causes that were active in that unhappy country. Nor were such exertions gratuitous, for the penury of the poor, who had been the dupes of his delusion, was taxed to remunerate his services, and the tribute, as it was termed, had been, in many instances, extorted under the threat of ecclesiastical anathemas. He did not mean to boast of his services to Ireland, but he hoped he might take credit to himself for having done something for the physical wants, as well as for the moral necessities of the poor of that country. He, at least, could not reproach himself with not having done the most that his means and his opportunities would admit.

Mr. O'Connell,

after shortly replying to the extracts read by the hon. Member, said, he could not pass over the remark about the anathemas of the Catholic clergy without one observation. Some of the statements of the hon. Member contained great falsities, but not one greater than that relative to the compensation which he had received from the Irish people. He had received a compensation from his countrymen, and those might sneer who had not made the sacrifices that he had, and who little knew how he had earned such a compensation. At the time he was returned for Parliament, he was gaining 7.000l. a-year by his profession, and if his countrymen thought fit to make him some compensation for the loss, he did not see why he should be taunted for it. The hon. Member had said something about taking the bread out of the mouths of the poor; and, in reply to that, he would only say, that he would rather starve than be guilty of such conduct, and that the statement was totally unfounded in fact. Other countries had made compensation; the senates of other countries had made compensation; but he considered it a much higher honour to receive such a compensation from his countrymen than from any senate, and regarded it as the proudest circumstance of his life. The hon. Member had spoken of the difference between the two catechisms, but he ought to know, that the catechism used by the Catholic Church was the same as that used by Luther. In fact, that was only omitted which was stated in the preceding Commandment, in order not to give the same Commandment twice over.

Mr. Bodkin rose to thank the right hon. Secretary, on the part of his constituents, for the proposed alteration on the subject of Irish education. He perfectly concurred in what had fallen from the hon. member for Kerry, and treated the attacks made by the hon. member for Dundalk with that contempt which they deserved.

Mr. Maurice O'Connell

said, that the statements of the Kildare-street Society were not to be relied on, for he knew, that with respect to its schools which were said to exist in the county of Clare, many had ceased to exist, and that others were entirely in the hands of the Roman Catholic priests. He did not envy the hon. Gentleman for Dundalk the exhibition which he had made that night; and if he had a child to instruct, it would not be to that hon. Member's tuition that he would confide it.

Mr. Mullins

said, he knew enough of the Kildare-street Society to declare, that however perfect its system might be in theory, it had degenerated in practice. It excited and promoted religious discord. He hoped, therefore, now to see such proceedings put an end to: and he should be ready to support any other system which was likely to diffuse useful information among the poorer classes, provided it did not interfere with the religion of those who were to receive instruction from such society.

Vote agreed to—House resumed.