HC Deb 06 March 1832 vol 10 cc1162-205
Mr. James E. Gordon

presented petitions upon the National Education in Ireland. The first was signed by a Nobleman several Clergymen, and a number of freeholders in the county of Tipperary. They stated that as the Scriptures were the Word of God, they should be the only infallible rule of practice, and, therefore, there ought to be an unlimited use of them, and not a partial use; that one of the principal causes of the present demoralized state of Ireland was, the absence of scriptural education owing to the opposition of the Roman Catholic clergy to the circulation of the Scriptures; they regretted the withdrawal of the funds heretofore allowed from the public purse from certain Societies in Ireland established to encourage scriptural education, and they protested strongly against the new plan of education proposed by Government. They prayed that no parliamentary grant might be made to carry into effect that plan. A second petition was from twelve ministers of the Established Church, three Dissenting ministers, and 250 laymen, and he could take upon himself to assert that, but for the system of terror and intimidation pursued in that part of the country, for every one who signed the petition there would have been ten. The third petition was from the minister and congregation of Port Mahon, in the county of Down, upon the same subject.

Lord Acheson

said, that having been intrusted with a petition similar to that which had been presented by the hon. member for Dundalk, and having been in vain attempting for some time past to present it, he would, with the leave of the House, take that opportunity of making some remarks upon it. The petition emanated from a highly-respectable and influential body of men, the Presbyterian ministers of the General Synod of Ulster, convened for the purpose of taking into consideration the plan of education recommended by his Majesty's Government to be adopted in Ireland. The petitioners expressed their gratitude for the assistance hitherto granted by Parliament for the purposes of education in Ireland; and they stated that they viewed with great regret the change of system proposed by his Majesty's Government. It was not his intention to enter into a discussion upon the comparative merits of different plans of education: the question was merely, whether the proposed plan, without reference to any other, could or could not, with propriety, be introduced into Ireland; and whether if introduced, its effects would be such as the friends of Scriptural education would approve of—such as he believed, the promoters of the plan expected to result from it. Among other grounds of objection, the petitioners mentioned one which applied solely to them as Presbyterians; it was, that by this plan, one of their body was appointed to a Board, which Board was to exercise entire control over schools and school-books. The petitioners stated, that this was altogether contrary to a leading principle of their Church—a principle from which as a matter of conscience, they were not at liberty to recede. They stated, that all Ministers of the Church were equal in point of rank and degree, each individual Minister being Presbyter or Bishop of his own Church, all ecclesiastical power being lodged in the hands of the Presbytery, or United Council of Ministers and Elders, and that no one could receive, claim, or exercise any power over his brethren in matters of conscience or duty. They proceeded to state, that by this appointment, of one of their body to the Board of Education, their Ministerial parity was essentially destroyed, and a Ministerial supremacy established over them, to which they could never submit, as long as, by the grace of God, they continued to be Presbyterians. This point was so clearly stated in the petition, that he would say no more upon it, than that in his opinion, so far as Presbyterians were concerned it was a fairground of objection, founded upon a matter of conscience, and one which they were therefore, bound to act upon. With regard to another objection—that this new plan deprived parents of the power of appointment and removal of schoolmasters, he was inclined to think that, in itself, it had no weight; it went, however, to imply that the Members of the Board were not fit persons to be intrusted with the appointment of schoolmasters, or that they would not pay due attention to representations or misconduct on the part of schoolmasters of their appointment. In reply to this he would say, that, generally, the Board would be the better judge of the qualifications of a schoolmaster, and it was to presuppose a gross dereliction of duty to imagine, that it would fail to make every inquiry into the accusations which might be brought against any man appointed by it to superintend a school. The great objection of the petitioners was—that extracts selected by the Board were to be made use of as a school-book to the exclusion of the Scriptures, whole and un-mutilated; by which means Protestants would be deprived of the free use of the Bible. He would ask whence this sudden horror of extracts? Had extracts never been seen in Christian families? Were extracts never in use in the Kildare-street schools? To be sure they were. But they were told, that these extracts were to be agreed to by the members of the Board belonging to different persuasions—Protestant and Catholic. If, by this, it was intended that concessions were to be made by Protestants, on points of religion—if passages were to be garbled, or to be altered, to suit Roman Catholics, he should at once give his most decided opposition to such proceedings. Political concessions might be at times highly expedient, and even necessary; but no man should ever persuade him that a concession of a religious principle, against the dictates of conscience, however expedient it might be on worldly grounds, was or could be justifiable. But if extracts were made, as they might be, and he would add, as he was convinced they would be, involving no concession on either side, at the same time satisfactory to persons of both persuasions, he did not see what grounds of discontent remained to either party. He was no supporter of this plan of education, but as a friend and well-wisher of Government, as a man who supported Ministers because he was convinced that their object was, to steer a middle course between the two extremes of party, he must protest, and he did it conscientiously, against the insinuations—nay, more, the positive assertions—which had been made in Ireland, that the object of Government had been to deprive the Protestants of the Bible. He appealed to any fair and unprejudiced man who had an eye to read, or a particle of common sense to understand the plan laid down by his right hon. friend, the Secretary for Ireland, in his letter to the Duke of Leinster—he appealed to that man, and by his decision would he abide, whether, on the face of that plan, there was a sentence which could be construed to imply such a motive on the part of Government. He appealed to the House whether, in the conduct of his right hon. friend, or of the noble Earl at the head of the Administration, anything had ever appeared to justify such an insinuation. Why, the plan not only stated distinctly that two clays in the week, besides Sunday, were to be given up to religious instruction; but schoolmasters were recommended to give religious instruction to the children of their respective persuasions before and after school hours, on other days; and it was expressly stated, that the extracts used as school-books on days appointed for moral and literary education, were, by no means, intended to convey a perfect and efficient religious education, or to supersede the necessity of religious instruction, on the days set apart for that purpose. If a doubt could exist as to the motives of Government, this, in his opinion, would be quite sufficient to dispel it. He disputed with no man his right to oppose any measure to which he had conscientious objections; and he acquitted the Presbyterians of all desire, in their opposition to this plan, to embarrass the Government, and was willing to believe that many others were actuated in their opposition by religious motives; but why had bad motives been imputed to the present Government? Why had they not been imputed to those who were the original framers of this plan of education, from whose report his right hon. friend's letter had been taken, in many respects, verbatim? He only stated facts. The present Government was a Whig Government—the then Government was of an opposite character in its politics. There was no Reform question pending in those days—there was no object then in inflaming the minds of men against Government. He regretted this line had been followed. What its objects might be he pretended not to say; but this he knew, that, whether intentionally or not, a feeling of suspicion, of unfounded suspicion, arising from those unfounded insinuations, had been excited in the minds of the people of Ireland, which might Induce them to look with an evil eye on the future measures of Government. Far better would it have been for the country, if the opponents of the measure had come forward, had stated fairly and openly their objections, and had expressed their willingness to join in devising some other plan which might have been satisfactory to all parties. Far better would it have been for the country—far more creditable to themselves—far more suitable to those professions of religion, by which alone they declared themselves to have been actuated. Having thus stated, to the best of his ability, his firm and conscientious conviction that his Majesty's Government had been actuated by no such motive as that which had been imputed to it, and having mentioned those points in which he differed from the petition, he would next state, as briefly as possible, the grounds on which, with different premises, he arrived at the same conclusion. The petitioners attacked the plan: he attacked the result of the plan. If the plan could carry into effect its own intentions, he should be satisfied with it; but the more he inquired into the matter, the more convinced was he, that the plan carried in itself the seeds of its own annihilation—that however good the motives of Government, their plan must fail. The greater the number of schools established under this system, the more would the evil which he was about to mention be experienced. Suppose a parish, with ten or twelve or more schools—he asked, how a clergyman and his curates, or a Roman Catholic priest and his assistant, were to devote two days in the week to each of these schools for the purposes of religious instruction? Still less would the Presbyterian minister, single handed, in a district not parochial, but probably extending into several parishes, still less would he be able to carry into effect the intentions of this plan. This, in his opinion, was the real objection to the plan—this was the way in which Protestants would be deprived of the use of their Bibles. Till this ground was removed from under him, he should feel himself obliged to oppose the plan. He did so with regret, and had hoped that it might have worked well in Ireland, but feared, that now was not the time to attempt the establishment of any system of general education in that country. Men's minds were torn by party feeling, and could not be brought to view the subject in a fair and unbiassed light; and if so humble an individual as himself might be allowed to offer a suggestion to the Government, it would be to withdraw for the present all grants for the purpose of general education. They merely added fuel to the flame. He said this, not with- out the anxious hope that the day might soon come, when all these differences would be at an end, and when persons of influence would turn their minds, without reference to party feeling or prejudice, to those points alone in which they might be of use and advantage to their country. He was aware that his opinions might be misrepresented; if he could for a moment imagine, that his Majesty's Ministers were actuated by the motives which had been imputed to them, he should feel it his duty as a Protestant, instantly to withdraw that humble but conscientious support which he had hitherto had great pleasure in giving to them.

Mr. Andrew Johnston

claimed the indulgence of the House, as the discussion, on a similar petition from Aberdeen, which he had the honour to present at the close of last week, was postponed till the Ulster petition should be considered, he would make a few observations on this interesting subject. He felt exceedingly sorry to be obliged to differ from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, and his hon. friends, the Irish Members, with whom he had always co-operated on the great measure of Reform; but he was compelled to hold his views as a Reformer in subjection to his principles as a Christian. Knowing how well the national system of education had worked in Scotland for upwards of two centuries, he hoped he should not be accused of any Irish prejudice if he objected to the Ministerial plan. The right hon. Secretary had stated, that the Aberdeen petition afforded a proof of the prevailing misconception on this subject; but the petitioners had before them the letter of the right hon. Gentleman, in which the proposed scheme of education was propounded; and he could not, after a careful perusal of that letter, come to a conclusion on it different from that of the petitioners. On considering this document, it was evident that the right hon. Secretary had overlooked the primary questions: was it right and proper for a Protestant Government to encourage education? and, if so, what were the best means for obtaining that object. The plan of the right hon. Secretary was evidently founded on expediency; and as he was convinced that no good could result, he was glad to observe, that the scheme was held to be an experiment only. The right hon. Gentleman contended in his letter, that the Kildare-street Society was not fitted for the purposes of national education. He was at a loss to know on what solid grounds such an opinion had been formed. When he examined the returns of schools and scholars attached to Kildare-street, from 1816 to 1831, it appeared that the numbers had regularly increased. In 1828, indeed, there was a decrease; but this, he was informed, arose from the ingenuity of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, who, on the occasion of the Committee of Inquiry, in the year alluded to, procured the withdrawing of several thousands of the scholars; but, in 1829, the schools were more numerously attended than in 1827; there was, also, a progressive increase in 1830 and 1831. He considered, with the right hon. Secretary, that 'much must depend" on the character of the Board, in order that the interests of religion should not be overlooked; and that the peculiar tenets of the scholars should not be interfered with. He would proceed to consider the constitution of the Board, and the public characters of the individuals who were its members. On, what some might term, the Protestant side, there was to be found a nobleman of high rank, a Protestant; the Archbishop of Dublin, also a professed Protestant; but it would appear, that the whole of his clergy were opposed to him in this respect. Next appeared a layman, Dr. Sadler, said to be a liberal Protestant: then followed Mr. Holmes, a Barrister. Of this gentleman it was stated in the Ulster petition, that he was a "Unitarian;" and in a publication, by an hon. Member of that House, on the subject, that he was a "Socinian." He would abstain from making any comment on this extraordinary appointment, further, than that it must be alike objectionable to Protestant and Roman Catholic. He now came to the Reverend Mr. Carlisle, a Presbyterian minister, to whose nomination his brethren of the Ulster Synod strongly objected, stating in their petition, that the scheme of the right hon. Secretary conferred a power on Mr. Carlisle of controlling entirely "all books to be used in the schools, whether in the combined moral and literary," or "separate religious instruction," a power totally at variance with the standards of the Presbyterian Church. It thus appeared that on this side of the Board there were two professing Protestants, a Socinian, and a Presbyterian certainly not very concordant elements, with a liberal Protestant, who might possibly be intended as a balance-wheel to the conflicting interests. On the other side was Dr. Murray, a Romish Prelate of the highest respecta- bility, and Mr. Blake, an official personage of eminence, both consistent Roman Catholics, who, it might naturally be expected, would not fail to take advantage of the two probable divisions of the other side of this Board. How, then, could it be expected that the purposes intended by the right hon. Gentleman would ever be attained? In regard to this plan, he did not complain of the motives and intent of the right hon. Secretary. He could well appreciate the difficulties in which the right hon. Gentleman was involved—difficulties which were never greater in the time of any previous Secretary for Ireland; but, the right hon. Secretary had here undertaken an impossibility, for how could Protestant and Roman Catholic ever be brought to meet, except on the neutral ground of infidelity. He also considered the scheme objectionable, as there was no guarantee for religious instruction, one or two days in a week were to be allocated for "separate religious instruction;" but this provision was not imperative. Such religious instruction was to be left to the discretion of the clergy, who, it must be kept in view, were chiefly Roman Catholic, and who were to be permitted and encouraged to give religious instruction before and after school hours, on the other days of the week. The clergy were surely not the persons best calculated for communicating elementary instruction, and the laity would, therefore, be exposed to hardship: indeed, the Protestant parent had no security that the Bible would be used even in the separate religious instruction of his children. He could perceive nothing in all these arrangements but an apple of discord thrown down to the people of Ireland. In regard to the books, it was proposed that the funds should be applicable to supply &c, such as were of a moral and literary character, at half-price; and here was a serious discrepancy between the scheme of the right hon. Secretary and the Report of 1828, on which it was chiefly founded. By the latter, "books of moral and literary education," were to be furnished at "half-price," and religious books at "prime cost;" while in the former, no funds whatever were appropriated for the supply of "religious" books on any terms. One of the most objectionable parts of the scheme was, the entire want of support and encouragement to the reading of the Bible, which ought to be the sole foundation and standard of any system of national education, patronized by a Protestant Government. In the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman it was only once directly alluded to, as it might be connected with the expression of "portions of sacred history." From these premises he could not come to any other conclusion, than that the plan of the right hon. Secretary held out no reasonable prospect of success; and in the present state of Ireland, he could venture to suggest no other mode of treating this subject, than that the Government should leave the matter in the hands of individuals and private societies; abstaining from applying any part of the national revenue to the encouragement of either scheme of Sectarian education.

Mr. Stanley

would take this opportunity of stating somewhat more fully than he had hitherto done, the wishes and intentions of Ministers on the subject of education in Ireland. Opposed as they were on every side by conflicting interests, and party prejudices; he was not disposed, on this occasion, to attempt to analyze the motives which influenced other persons in opposing this plan; but he must be permitted to say, that if there was one body of persons in Ireland who were more than another distinguished for eminent Scriptural piety, moral conduct, and discipline, among their members, and for enforcing habits of good order, loyalty, religion, and morality among those committed to their charge, the Presbyterian Synod of Ulster deserved that character. He was sure their opposition was conscientious, and he was convinced their petition would, as it deserved, receive the most marked consideration and attention from the House. The attempt which the Government was now making to introduce into Ireland a system of educating together children of the different religious denominations had been approved and recommended at various times by Commissions of Inquiry appointed by the Legislature. He was far from saying that the system now about to be carried into effect was perfect, but he believed that it was the most likely to unite the people of all religious persuasions in the education of their children, and produce those results which, the Scriptures said, were the fruits of the Christian religion—peace, meekness, gentleness, and love. It led to no departure from any principle which the strictest Protestant would require in the most Protestant education. It had been objected that the plan caused a mutilation of the Scriptures, and that it would take away from the Protestants of Ireland the unrestricted use of the Scriptures [hear, hear]. But he would tell the Gentlemen who cheered that accusation, that it was founded in a total misconception of the system which the Government desired to introduce. It was true, that accusation had been alleged in a petition from 220,000 Protestants in Ireland, but, with all the respect which he sincerely entertained for the opinions of so large a body of Protestants, he must say, that they signed that petition under a misconception of the plan of which they complained. They had been called on to stand up and maintain the principles of Protestantism, and to prevent their children from being robbed of their dearest inheritance—the privilege of unrestricted access to the Scriptures. Under those representations signatures had been obtained to that petition. Those 220,000 Protestants, therefore, petitioned, not against the system—for they did not know it—but against something which they had been told would deprive them of their Bibles. He would defy those who made such an assertion to show that the plan propounded in his letter had any tendency in any way to interfere with the Scriptural education of the Irish Protestants. He would refer to the names of the Commissioners annexed to the Report, on the recommendation of which the plan was founded, and he would ask, were the Archbishops of Armagh and Cashel, and the Bishop of Ferns, persons likely to recommend a plan of education that would be hostile to Protestant principles. The Report which had emanated from those Commissioners had recommended that a Board should be established under the authority of an Act of Parliament, empowering them to receive and dispose of parliamentary grants for building, endowing, or keeping up schools, to decide on the appointment, conduct, and dismissal of masters, to prescribe the mode of education, and to have the general control over the whole of the proposed establishment for the instruction of the lower class. Their attention should also be directed to the selection of proper books to be read in the schools, and no book should be used for the purpose of instruction without the approbation of the Board, nor any mode of education adopted without their sanction, he was sure that no objection could be made to the two Commissioners who were appointed to control the religious books to be put into the hands of the Roman Catholic children—Dr. Murray and Mr. Blake, the Chief Remembrancer. But, at the same time, that it had been thought desirable to give the Board a control over the religious education of the children in the schools under their super-intendance, it would have no power to exclude any of the standard books of particular sects. The Commissioners could not take the confession of faith from the Presbyterian children, nor from the Protestants the Bible which they acknowledged as the only foundation of their faith, and the rule of their conduct. But those books which should be used in the mixed education of the children of all professions would be under the entire control of the Board. Now, he would ask those who made it a matter of complaint that the Scriptures were not insisted on as a school-book to be read by all, whether they would themselves allow the whole Scriptures to be put into the hands of their own children, to be read without the superintendence of religious instructors.

An Hon. Member

said, that was not the question.

Mr. Stanley

contended, that that was the real question at issue; for, if not, what was the objection to the plan, and what did the petitioners demand? By that plan the reading of the Scriptures would be denied to none, under the superintendance of religious teachers. The Board was desirous on the one hand to avoid the objections of those who condemned the use of the whole Scriptures as a school-book, without note or comment for fear that proselytism might be attempted by these means, and, on the other hand, it was desirous of giving the whole Scriptures accompanied by the instructions of religious teachers, to those who approved of their being so read by their children. In the fourteenth Report of the Commissioners, to which he had previously referred, it was recommended, that not only moral works, calculated to make a deep impression upon the minds of children, but also such extracts from the Bible as were most likely to enforce moral doctrines, those parts not being liable to the objections which were generally made to the use of the Scriptures in public education. He looked upon those books read in the school hours as an excellent preparation for a course of religious education to be separately pursued. But, it might be asked, did not the Protestant—the Scriptural Society of Kildare-street—take care to furnish the whole Bible to all the children in their schools? They did not. On the contrary; it was expressly stated, in the first Report of the Commissioners of Education Inquiry in 1825, that the Society had published selections from the sacred volume. The words of the Report (speaking of the Kildare-street Society) were, We make these statements with a view to show the existence of an evil which still requires a remedy, and not for the purpose of charging it as a matter of imputation to any particular class of persons. The selection of the book in which each child is to have to read in a common school, has necessarily been left to the child itself, or to its parents. The masters, scarcely removed above the lowest state of poverty, in no instance have ever thought of providing them; and the schools, being mostly founded on private speculation, and unsupported by Societies or patrons, the books which were easily and cheaply to be procured were naturally preferred by the children and their parents. Among the publications of the Society there is one which we think ourselves called upon particularly to notice. It is entitled 'A Selection from the New Testament, consisting of Lessons composed from the Writings of the Four Evangelists, for the use of Schools, by permission of the most Reverend Dr. Troy, printed in 18t8.' Here, then, was a selection from the Holy Scriptures recommended and sanctioned by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, and printed and published by this most Protestant Society. But it was said that the Kildare-street Society furnished the Bible to the schools! No such thing; the Report said— Bibles and Testaments are now included amongst the books supplied by the Society; and it is frequently a matter of surprise to the sons who receive books from them, that the only book which the Society requires, under all circumstances, to be used in the schools is not included in the grant. He had also the list of books published by the Kildare-street Society, and in it were the following works—Scripture lessons, Irish Reading Book, a selection from the Psalms; Irish Reading Book, containing the History of Joseph. Now, if this was not a mutilation of the Scriptures, what was meant by the term? At any rate, nothing had been adopted, nor was anything to be adopted, by the Board of Education, with respect to these selections, which could be objected to by those who sanctioned the proceedings of the Kildare-street Society on the same point. But it appeared that the selection to be adopted by the Board was to be objected to. He had, however, the authority of Mr. Carlisle for saying, that such selection was only in progress, and had not yet received the sanction of the Board. By what means the hon. Member had procured a proof-sheet of the work before it had obtained the ap- proval of the Board he did not know. It had been asked, what can a Board formed of Catholics, Protestants, and Presbyterians, do, as there would always be dissensions among them? But, in answer, he would say, that the truth was, that the most perfect harmony existed among all the members of the Board; that there had not, hitherto, been even a single difference of opinion between them; and Mr. Carlisle said, that the two Roman Catholics had had no difficulty whatever in joining with the five Protestants in drawing up a list of such books as were deemed best adapted for the education of the children of both religious persuasions. The House had been told, that the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, who was at the head of the New Board of Education, had not the confidence of his clergy, and would not have their co-operation; and that they had pledged themselves to give a systematic opposition to the plan of education which he sanctioned—nay, that they had so pledged themselves before they knew what the plan was. For his part, he (Mr. Stanley) believed that if that Prelate consulted only his own peace and comfort, not the interests of religion and the welfare of the people over whom he was placed, he would not have undertaken the office which exposed him to the attacks of those who claimed exclusively to themselves the name of Protestant—who arrogantly said, "If you are not with us, you are against us." They stigmatized those who dissented from their peculiar opinions by an appellation which he (Mr. Stanley), considered honourable in the first degree that of "liberal Protestants." Those Gentlemen, he contended, had no right to assume that liberality of mind was inconsistent with a deep interest on religions subjects, or that the liberal Protestant was not as sincere a Protestant as he who talked more, but, perhaps, thought less. No one presumed to doubt Mr. Carlisle's character, as a Christian and a Protestant; but then it was said, how could such a man become a member of the Board? Thus the Government were blamed on the one hand for nominating Roman Catholics, and then, when they pointed to a man whose name was a passport and evidence that a religious system of education would be pursued, the answer was, "Mr. Carlisle is a most excellent man; but how could he connect himself with such a system? The Government, therefore, were met with adverse statements, which would be equally applicable to any Board they could possibly have established. Gentlemen expressed surprise at the motives which had induced Mr. Carlisle to connect himself with the Board. That Gentleman, however, had publicly stated what his motives were. Having stated, that of a remnant of highly eminent persons, some dissented from, and some doubted the expediency of the new system, he declared, that he had never undergone a more severe trial of principle than in adopting and persevering in a course which such persons disapproved; but that he felt it his duty to give every assistance and support in carrying into effect a wise and just measure, which he hoped would turn to the moral and religious education and improvement of a people who had suffered so much. Such were the motives which Mr. Carlisle declared, actuated him in becoming a member of the new Board: and if all men acted upon the same motives, and were governed by the same benevolent and Christian principles, he should feel no apprehension for the success of the new system. It would no longer be an experiment, for its success would be decided, and the result would not merely contribute to the improved education of the people, but to the peace and happiness of Ireland. He admitted, however, that it still remained to be tried whether party prejudice, political envy, and religious rancour, might not prove sufficiently powerful to defeat a system which was intended to promote harmony and good will amongst all classes, by a system of combined education in which Protestants and Catholics might be instructed in the doctrines of their respective creeds. For his own part he was sincerely and zealously attached to Protestantism, and he conscientiously believed the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church were founded in error; but, at the same time, he always preferred a good Catholic to a bad Protestant. He believed, however, that if the system proposed by Government was not interrupted and thwarted by those angry Sectarian feelings to which he had adverted, that it would produce the best effects as regarded the improvement of national education, and tend in no inconsiderable degree to promote the future peace, welfare, and happiness of Ireland.

Mr. Lefroy

did not mean to follow the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland, through the many topics on which he had touched, but should confine himself to what he conceived to be the only question arising out of the petition now under consideration. The only question was, whether the plan of education adopted by his Majesty's Government for Ireland, was or was not open to the objection which stamped upon it the character of being not only un-Protestant but un-Christian? That, he believed, it would be conceded was coming at once to the point, and to that point his observations should be confined. The first consideration was, whether his Majesty's Government were not providing a system of national education, from which they were about systematically to exclude the Holy Scriptures, as not necessarily forming any part of their system of education. He was prepared to contend that a system raised upon such a principle was not only entitled to be called a departure from Protestant principles, but that it should justly be considered as a departure from the great basis of all Christian principle. That the new system systematically excluded the Holy Scriptures from the plan of national education, was distinctly admitted in the right hon. Gentleman's [...] letter. It was said to be a vital defect in the former system that it provided for the reading of the Scriptures without note or comment, as an essential part of the plan. The Scriptures, without note or comment, therefore, were to be excluded from the new plan, and extracts from the Holy Scriptures were proposed to be substituted. He did not object to selections from the Scriptures, but he objected to a system which entirely excluded the Scriptures and the whole Scriptures. The complaints of the Protestants of Ireland, that they were about to be robbed of the Holy Scriptures, he did not consider as unjust; but that complaint should not be confined to the Protestants. He made a similar complaint on behalf of his Catholic brethren. Under the old system, now about to be extinguished, the Roman Catholics had an opportunity of reading the Scriptures whenever they wished; but, under the new system, it would be impossible for any Roman Catholic child ever to have access to the Scriptures. This was the charge which he made against the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, and he felt that it would not be difficult to substantiate that charge on the right hon. Gentleman's own authority. He had stated that, whilst the Scriptures were admitted into the national schools, the Roman Catholic priesthood found that proselytism might be attempted, although, perhaps, it might never be contemplated by those having the management of the schools; at all events, the Catholic people had no such fears, for the right hon. Gentleman said, in his letter, that the Kildare- street Society prospered and extended itself under the fostering care of the Legislature, until the Catholic clergy exerted themselves with energy and success, against the system. The opposition was, therefore, confined to the priesthood, and to them alone. In making this statement, the right hon. Gentleman had uttered as bitter a sarcasm on priests and Roman Catholics as could well be conceived. The Roman Catholics might be afraid of the effect of the Scriptures, without note or comment; but were the Members of the House to be told, in the nineteenth century, that because knowledge of a certain kind might lead to a change of mind on religious topics, the Government of the day ought to unite with those who were anxious to exclude that species of knowledge? Was that the principle of the right hon. Gentleman, who proclaimed himself as strong a Protestant as any in that House? Could there be any principle more thoroughly anti-Protestant than that of excluding scriptural knowledge because it might possibly lead to a change of mind in the Catholics? What was the great principle which caused the separation from the Church of Rome, and made Protestantism the national religion? Was it not the recognition of the private right of every man to read the Scriptures, and judge for himself? Under the system which was extinguished by the Ministerial plan, between 40,000 and 50,000 Roman Catholics were engaged in reading the Scriptures. It appeared, by documents before the public, and which could not err, that above 40,000, in fact near 50,000 Roman Catholic children were in the enjoyment of the great privilege of reading the Scriptures, and had unrestrained access to the sacred volume in the schools of the Kildare-street Society. The Roman Catholics were not obliged to send their children to the Society's schools; but Roman Catholic children, to the number he had stated, freely attended those schools. As he had heard it stated that the Roman Catholics were compelled to send their children to the Scripture schools, he begged to refer to the Report made on the subject in 1828. At that period there were 6,058 daily schools in which the Scriptures were read. Only 1,879 were connected with any existing society, in which, it could be insinuated that it was, in any degree, imperative on the pupils to read the Scriptures. 4,179 schools existed, in which, the reading of the Scriptures was adopted voluntarily by the conductors and teachers, the latter of whom were generally dependent for subsistence on the payment received from the parents of the children. Between 200,000 and 300,000 children were educated in those schools, and a great proportion of those it might be inferred, were Roman Catholics. The Catholic masters, he might observe, amounted to no fewer than 2,670 in those schools in which the Scriptures were read. When it was said, that the Roman Catholics were not disposed to read the Scriptures, he met the assertion with these facts; and he also met it with another fact—that many of the Roman Catholic parents endured excommunication from their Church, rather than withdraw their children from the schools in which the Scriptures were read. He held in his hand a declaration, signed by six Roman Catholics, who had been excommunicated for sending their children to one of those schools. Those persons asserted their right to choose the schools which they considered best fitted for the education of their children, and declared that, notwithstanding the excommunication, they would continue to send their children to the schools in which the Scriptures were read. The evidence annexed to the report of the Commissioners in 1825 showed that even the Roman Catholic priests were not unanimous at that period in making it a condition that the Scriptures should not be read; for seventy-five priests had received aid from the Kildare-street Society, and it was a principle of that Society never to exclude a Roman Catholic master for the purpose of substituting a Protestant. These facts proved, that it was competent for the Roman Catholics to enjoy the reading of the Scriptures, and to have free access to the sacred volume without any outrage to their religious principles. It was true, as had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley), that the Kildare-street Society, to accommodate itself to the prejudices of Roman Catholics, had consented to make extracts from their own version of the Scriptures, and for that concession the Society was now to be taunted, as for an abandonment of its high Protestant character. He begged, however, distinctly to state, that the Kildare-street Society had never put up for a high or low Protestant character. It had never assumed any sectarian character, but had worked zealously, and with no inconsiderable success, in giving to the people of Ireland of all persuasions, a sound, moral, and religious education, founded on the Holy Scriptures. He contended that the system adopted by the Kildare-street Society was working well, and he blamed the Government for extinguishing such a system in a country like Ireland, in which it was so difficult to establish any system. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, that he proceeded upon the report of the Commissioners in 1825. Now, although the Commissioners in 1825 stated, that the system had failed in giving universal satisfaction; yet he insisted that was no ground for establishing a new system, which was far from giving universal satisfaction; and for extinguishing the Kildare-street Society, which had effected so much. The old system, which had produced such extensively beneficial results, had been extinguished, in order to substitute what the right hon. Gentleman admitted was nothing more than an experiment. The old plan of education, it was said, had not given general satisfaction; but what scheme had ever given universal satisfaction? What plan could be expected in Ireland, or even in this country, to afford universal satisfaction? Even that great mirror of the minds of his Majesty's Ministers, framed with so much labour and anxiety, even "the Bill," had not given universal satisfaction. They were about to tear up by the roots a system not because it was erroneous, but because it had failed to satisfy the clergy of a particular persuasion, although it had not failed to give satisfaction to a great body of the people of Ireland. He should now proceed to state why he inferred that the new system did not stand upon the Scriptures. The right hon. Gentleman stated in his letter that, according to the principles of the Roman Catholic Church, the children could not be allowed to read the Scriptures, as in fact that liberty was not given to adults without a license.

Mr. Stanley

Perhaps the hon. Member would be so good as to read the passage. The hon. Member was quite misrepresenting what he had written.

Mr. Lefroy

was as incapable of misrepresenting any thing as the right hon. Gentleman, and if he found fault with his statement, he might have called upon him to correct it with more courtesy, though he was aware he could scarcely expect much courtesy from the right hon. Gentleman, when he considered his usual conduct and demeanour in that House.

Mr. Stanley

assured the hon. and learned Gentleman that he had meant nothing discourteous to him. He was sure the hon. and learned Gentleman had not misrepresented intentionally, but the passage had really been altered, and he wished it to be read.

Mr. Lefroy

then read the passage in Mr. Stanley's letter to which he alluded, and which was as follows:—"The indiscriminate reading of the Scriptures by children, is peculiar obnoxious to the Roman Catholic Church, which denies even to adults, unassisted by note or comment, the right of private interpretation of the sacred volume, with respect to the articles of religious faith."

Mr. Stanley

The hon. Member must see that the words, "with respect to the articles of religious faith," which he omitted, were material to the sense of the passage.

Mr. Lefroy

protested that he could not pereive how the sense of the passage, as he had quoted it, was altered by those words. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had now all the benefit, which he could derive from the reading of the passage. To return, however, to the subject. The new Board were to exercise a control over all the books used, either for moral or literary instruction, and no books were to be admitted into the schools but those approved of by the Board. As it was contrary to the principles of the Roman Catholic Church, that the Bible, without note or comment, should be put into the hands of children, of course the Roman Catholic members of the Board could never consent to the introduction of the Bible into schools; and as, even on the days to be appropriated for religious instruction, the books used were to be under the control of the Board, he thought he had proved that the new system not only did not provide for the instruction of the pupils in the Scriptures, but that it actually provided for the exclusion of the Scriptures. This was the opinion of persons to whose opinion the House was bound to yield the highest respect. It was the opinion of a great proportion of the Protestant clergy, and of the Presbyterian clergy, as strongly expressed in the petition of the Synod of Ulster. The whole of the clergy of the diocese of Dublin remonstrated with their right reverend head, for presiding at a Board where a system was to be followed up which they considered not only un-Protestant, but un-Christian; and their expostulation was supported by the diocese of Derry and the diocese of Kilmore, and was sanctioned by the venerable head of the Church, the Primate of Ireland. He would not enter into any disputation with the right hon. Gentleman upon points of doctrine or faith, but he could appeal to authority to show that the system now proposed was most completely anti-Protestant. The right hon. Gentleman had attempted to justify the measure of the Ministry, by referring to the reports of the Commissioners. The first of these reports was in 1812–14; and that report certainly recommended a selection from the Scriptures. But he had never objected to a selection being made; though he called on the right hon. Gentleman to show that these Commissioners had ever recommended the exclusion of the Scriptures. So far from this being the case, he had the authority of a vote of the House of Commons for saying, that the report was never understood in that sense; but that the House thought the most judicious way of carrying into effect the report would be, by giving the Scriptures to be read without note or comment. The report of the Committee of this House, was made on the 14th of June, 1815. That report was made on the first petition presented by the Kildare-street Society; and, indeed, it was worthy of remark, that that Society took for its basis the very terms that the Commissioners made use of in the report of 1812–1814. The words were:— The most efficient means for carrying into effect the recommendation of the report is by a system in which the appointment of the governors, the teachers, and the scholars, shall be uninfluenced by any religious distinctions, and in which the Scriptures, without note or comment, shall be used, excluding all catechisms or books of controversy. This opinion was referred to a Committee of this House, and that Committee sanctioned it, as the most effectual means of carrying into execution the report of 1812–1814. When, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman justified his plan, by the report of 1812–1814, he was founding on that which would not bear him out. The next report was in 1825: and it was said, that the Commissioners then recommended something very similar to the present plan. To a certain extent that was true; but the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten to inform the House that the experiment was then tried by the Commissioners, and that, after a year, they were obliged to give up the attempt, and actually reported that the plan was totally impracticable. Their report, after stating that they had been permitted by the Lord Lieutenant to make the experiment, went on to say:— It becomes our duty now to report to your Majesty that, in attempting to effect that object, we have experienced difficulties which have not only prevented the establishment of schools by which the experiment was to be tried, but which have induced us to desist altogether from any further proceedings for that undertaking. When the right hon. Gentleman claimed some merit for following the plan of 1825, he had derogated from the character of that plan, for it contained no recommendation for the exclusion of the Scriptures, but only proposed that an attempt should be made to form a selection from the Scriptures, that should be acceptable to all classes of Christians. With respect to the report of 1828, that expressly provided for the reading of the New Testament, the Protestants to use the Protestant translation, and the Catholics the Douay version. He therefore, contended, without any fear of contradiction, that the present system went far beyond any that had before been proposed in its unscriptural character, and that not a single ground could be found to justify it. Not a single petition ever had been presented in its favour, though hundreds had been presented against it. He had some reason, he thought to complain of the insinuation as to motives which had been thrown out against those who opposed the measure. For his own part, he thought that the question was one which ought to be kept apart from politics, and he had abstained from saying any thing which would expose him to a charge of having made use of this occasion to embarrass the Government; but he must repeat his objection to the present system, as not only un-Protestant, but un-Christian.

Mr. Crampton

was surprised to hear his hon. and learned friend charging the Irish Government with supporting a system which was at once anti-Protestant and anti-Christian. He denied that their system of education deserved any such opprobrious epithets. If it were either anti-Protestant or anti-Christian, why had his hon. and learned friend not produced some other plan to supersede it? His hon. and learned friend had quoted the opinion of the Primate of Ireland in support of his condemnation of the Government system. He (Mr. Crampton) did not know that the opinion of a living Primate was superior to that of a dead Primate: but this he did know, that the late Primate Stewart, as pious a Christian as ever adorned the prelacy, had approved of such a system. Such a plan had, moreover, been sanctioned by Doctor Ellington who was then provost of Dublin, and one of that class of divines whose authority had great weight with his hon. and learned friend, yet he had treated the plan as if it was a conspiracy got up between Ministers and the Pope. There was not an objection which the Gentlemen opposite had urged against the Government plan of education which did not apply with equal force to the plan of the Kildare-street Society. He did not mean to deny that that Society had been of great service in Ireland, but he thought their zeal to instruct the Catholics had, at length, outrun their discretion, and, the consequence was, that their schools were looked on with suspicion by many Catholics, as being supposed to favour proselytism. The principles the Society set out with, but which had at length been overlooked, were, not to interfere with any religious tenets whatever, to permit all the versions of the Testament to circulate in their schools, and, in fact, not to give the children any religious instruction whatever, beyond allowing the use of the Scriptures without note or comment. How this plan could be made out as furnishing the grounds of a scriptural education, he could not conceive, but yet his hon. and learned friend had eulogized it and had arraigned the Irish Government for not continuing a system which, he said, was so well calculated to bestow a Christian education on the children of Ireland; but if his hon. and learned friend would only refer to the evidence which Mr. Beever had given respecting the system of the Kildare-street schools, he would ask him whether, if it were such as Mr. Beever described it to be, it deserved the name of a system of Christian education? Was it such a plan of education as his hon. and learned friend would allow his own children to follow? How, then, could the promoters of the proposed plan be accused of withdrawing the Bible from the education of children, when the system of the Kildare-street Society was, that there should be no religious education under the auspices of the Society itself, but that the children in their schools should obtain their religious instruction from their respective teachers; and this was the mode of education which had been so much lauded and praised. From the state of Ireland, it was quite certain that no advantage to the people could be expected from a system which was opposed to the Roman Catholic clergy. On the previous evening, the hon. Member for Dundalk had boasted of the unanimity of those meetings at which he usually acted so conspicuous a part. It was for this reason that he begged to ask that hon. Gentleman, whether he had seen the resolutions that were passed at the meeting which took place at Bangor, in the county Down? That meeting was called for the purpose of supporting Scripture education in Ireland; or, as the advertisement stated, to petition against the new mode of education, whereby the Bible was to be excluded from all schools receiving parliamentary support. Now, he would ask, was that true? Was it fair? He asserted that no man could lay his hand on his heart, and assert, that that was an honest statement. After this there came a sort of exhortation in the advertisement, entreating every inhabitant of the parish, who loved the Bible, and who sought the moral regeneration of the country, to be present at the meeting. When the day of meeting arrived, a noble Lord took the chair; but, on finding that the feeling of the parish was against the Resolutions that were proposed, he said that they had not met there for discussion, but simply to pass the resolutions; upon which he withdrew, taking with him a portion of the meeting, while the remainder passed a series of resolutions of a very different character to those that had been originally proposed. He had described this meeting thus fully, because the hon. member for Dundalk had relied so fully on what he had called the unanimity of the Protestant mind. He would, however, tell the hon. Gentleman, that that unanimity did not exist, and that many of those who had joined these meetings had been deceived and deluded; nor, indeed, was that wonderful when they were told, that the Government was proposing apian for taking away the Bible from the people of Ireland. Neither was he much surprised at the unanimity that prevailed at a certain class of meetings. The world, for instance, had heard a great deal about the meeting at Exeter Hall, at which very eloquent (he wished he could add, very wise) speeches had been made. Great zeal, too, had been shown at that meeting, but about as little discretion as had ever been at one time collected within the walls of any one building. And how was the boasted unanimity procured? He himself had felt some curiosity to attend the meeting, and, no doubt, if he had been able to do that, he should have taken an opportunity of vindicating himself, and the gentlemen with whom he had the honour of acting, from the charge of having brought forward an un-Christian plan of education. Having this object in view, a friend of his had supplied him with two tickets; but when he looked at the manner in which they were indorsed, he found that he could not, in honour or conscience, make use of them. Would the House believe, that, on the back of these tickets was inscribed a notice, that no one was to take any part in the proceedings who was not a favourer and supporter of the object of the meeting? And, after this, the hon. member for Dundalk took on himself to triumph, in the loudest tone, at the unanimity that had prevailed. He trusted that he was as sincere a Protestant as any Member of that House; but he could not help feeling that they had many things in common with their Catholic brethren: at the same time he was ready to say, that he saw errors in the Catholic Church which he should be glad to see removed. For his own part, he would make all men Protestants, if he could. But, on the other hand, he must respect the consciences of the Roman Catholics, as he hoped they would respect his: and he must think that they believed honestly in the doctrines which they professed: and how, therefore, could he concur in any demand that was, either by force or by fraud, to seduce the Roman Catholics from that religion in which they sincerely believed? The simple fact came to this—either the Catholics were to have no education at all, or else they must have the plan of education that was now proposed by the Government. He was of opinion that there might be a moral education altogether, independent of a religious one. He was quite ready to admit that the religious was the better education; but when people could not get the best, the next thing to insure was the second best; and he thought that two things were equally certain—the first, that no arrangement could be devised for giving the Catholics an entirely religious education—and the second, that that which the Government was proposing being a moral education, it was the next best thing that could be substituted for a religious education. He could not conceive anything fairer than the plan proposed, by which the children, for four days in the week, were to receive moral and literary instruction, not excluding the Scriptures, which could be used for the purposes of instruction on the evenings of those days; and on the remaining two days in the week the teachers of the children of each deno- mination or sect would have an opportunity of inculcating those principles which they severally and respectively professed. Nothing could be more unjust than the imputations and charges which had been made upon his Majesty's Government with reference to this subject; but he trusted the Government would be allowed to make the experiment they proposed, particularly since there was every prospect of success. The system, he was satisfied, was one calculated to contribute to the good and prosperity of the country.

Sir Robert Bateson

said, he had as great a regard for the temporal and eternal welfare of his fellow-countrymen—the Roman Catholics of Ireland—as the hon.and learned Member who had just spoken, although he had stigmatized all the persons who did not agree with him as being desirous to uphold exclusive privileges, and to make the Catholics subservient to their views of proselytism. This discussion had arisen upon the petition held by his noble friend, the member for Armagh; but he (Sir Robert Bateson) could not undertake to say, whether his noble friend did or did not mean to support the petition from the Synod of Ulster. The only objection raised to the petition among the Presbyterians was that made by Mr. Carlisle; but, with that solitary exception, the unanimity of the Protestants of Ireland was unquestionable. At every Protestant meeting in Ireland the people had petitioned for a scriptural education; and, be the opinions of Mr. Carlisle what they might, nothing less than a scriptural education would satisfy the Protestant people of Ireland—and he fully agreed with them in the sentiment. The observation of the right hon. Secretary respecting the mutilation of the Bible had excited a cough. Whenever he spoke of the Sacred Scriptures, he should maintain the same reverence for their character, notwithstanding the sneers of the right hon. Gentleman, or of any other persons. He wholly denied that the public meetings upon this subject had been got up by factious means or by clamour. It was impossible for any one to say, that the meeting of the Synod of Ulster arose in any but moderate and sincere Christian feeling: even the right hon. Gentleman himself had eulogized the character of the members of that synod. The late meeting at Exeter Hall was the most splendid meeting ever witnessed in this great city, and, in every respect, highly creditable to all present—and he was proud of having been present. The hon. and learned Gentleman had appealed to a meeting at Bangor, as a proof that the north of Ireland was not unanimous against the new system of education; but he begged to tell the House, what was the cause of the difference of opinion that prevailed there. Some strangers from Belfast attended it, and, by their clamour, interrupted the proceedings; when the Chairman, and by far the most numerous and respectable body, moved to another place, and there passed their resolutions, uninterrupted by these noisy and turbulent persons. He would give his hon. and learned friend all the credit he chose to claim on account of the meeting, and he would then assert, that no one parish in the north of Ireland had applied for a school to the Commissioners. Every class of Protestants were nearly unanimous in declaring against it, with the single exception of the remonstrant Synod of Ulster. He denied that there had been any unwillingness, on the part of the parents of Catholic children, to send them to the schools of the Kildare-street Society; and they were only prevented from doing so by persecution, and the threats of the priesthood. If the Government could find no scheme for educating both persuasions, he wished that no grant should be made at all, and that Protestants and Catholics should each be left to educate their own poor. There was no man who desired to see the Catholic poor educated more than himself, and no man would be disposed to extend the means of educating his poorer countrymen generally with a more generous hand, or a more open heart.

Mr. John Browne

considered the plan laid down now by Government for the dissemination of education in Ireland admirably adapted for its object. The question was, as respected the merits of the new and the old systems, neither more nor less than this—was one party alone, namely, the Protestants, to be allowed the advantages of education, as by the former system; or were those who professed other religions jointly, as by the latter system, to be permitted to reap an equal benefit from the funds voted by that House, for the purpose of improving the general population of Ireland through the medium of education? He believed in his conscience there was no real ground for apprehension on the part of Protestants, lest their children should be subjected to proselytism on the part of their Catholic neighbours, or their clergy, under the proposed system. He could not, consistently with his duty, remain silent under the cir- cumstances of the proposed alteration in the distribution of the liberality of Parliament, but must express the grateful sense he felt of the manner in which his Majesty's Government had endeavoured to meet the wishes of the great body of the King's subjects in Ireland.

Lord Mandeville

had heard a charge made that evening against some persons then present, for having suffered themselves to be led away by religious rancour, in the course of their political argument; but he would put it, in fairness, to the right hon. Gentleman, were there not individuals who had entered upon the arena of discussion upon the subject before the House, who never before had been known to have taken a decisive part upon politics of this kind—who, in fact, had been rendered political opponents of Government through a sense of their religious duty, and not religiously hostile through any political motives? He believed he might characterize Serjeant Pennefather, who spoke at the Rotunda, Dublin, and Dr. Benson, who took part in the proceedings at Exeter Hall, as persons of that description; and he could name other individuals quite as respectable, if necessary. The great difference between persons who had come forward on these grounds, and those who had supported Ministers, was, that the former believed that, having the power of dispensing instruction, they were answerable to God for the mode in which it was exercised; whereas, it seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman treated the subject as one which depended upon the will of man, or upon a political necessity—a question of state policy, in fact. That right hon. Gentleman had expressed it as being the wish of Government to adopt, in public schools in Ireland, a combined principle of moral and religious instruction, as being that species which would most tend to soften down asperity and uncharitable feelings in the different classes of religious professors. Now, he felt but too convinced that the very contrary result would flow from this experiment, and that their attempt at a combined system would have the effect of mutual exasperation upon these people, long weaned from each other, as they had been, from the widely-opposed nature of their religious tenets. Between the Unitarian and the Church of England there was as little in common as between the latter and the Catholic. How, then, was it possible to obtain, under such circumstances, a combined principle of religious and moral instruction?—and instruction, without moral principle to guide it, was but imparting dangerous power, and thence imprudent and impolitic. In contradiction to the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Solicitor General for Ireland, who had drawn a distinction between religious and moral education, he must say, that it was impossible to obtain the latter result unless it was grounded on the former, and the only safe plan by which that could be achieved was, by means of the whole Scripture. Unless moral education proceeded upon this principle, the result could only be, as it was said knowledge was power, the power to do mischief. There was, it should be remarked, too, a difference between a synopsis of the principles of our religion, fairly and conscientiously collected, and a synopsis which had too much of the character of being framed for the political purpose of connivance at error. He could not eulogise a national system of religious instruction which was active in excluding Scriptural instruction for four days in the week, whilst it was but passive in permitting it for the remaining two days. The Seventh day the child would be with its parents, and the instruction it would receive from them, in all probability, would be chiefly warnings against what it had heard at school among other children, and cautions not to imbibe the little religious doctrines that were tendered to it. In his mind the only safe system upon which to act in this emergency would be, to grant to each equally religious and moral instruction, or to withhold altogether any contribution for education in Ireland.

Mr. Wyse

fully concurred in the last observations of the noble Lord. That House, indeed the Government, had undoubtedly obtained a new character since the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, It was no longer exclusively Protestant, it was British, embracing the interests and representing the feelings of every class of British subjects. It was the inattention to this material fact, at the commencement of a totally new system in our domestic policy, which had caused all that error, which had been so conspicuous in the arguments on the opposite side of the House. Hon. Gentlemen ought to remember, that the House, consisting of Catholics and Protestants, was now legislating, not for Protestants only, but for Catholics and Protestants united. Thus, an end was put at once to that miserable monopolizing legislation, which had hitherto—for the purposes of a party—for the gratification of a section of the empire—surrendered all the in- terests and prosperity of the whole. Ireland could now be governed without these jobbers of the soil. The nation had been without any evil consequences, admitted within the pale of the Constitution, and henceforth in equal justice, and sound policy, all her institutions ought to be framed or modelled, not in the sense, or for the uses of this expiring oligarchy, but for the interests of the whole nation. Catholics sat in that House, they were eligible to the Bench, they might share the councils, or guide the armies, of the Sovereign; as long as that privilege existed, they were no less entitled to a full participation in every public institution—they paid for their maintenance and ought to enjoy their advantages. Applying these principles to education, it was preposterous to think that any system could be tolerated, at the present day, which was not accessible and suitable to the great bulk of the nation. In Ireland, that great bulk was Catholic, and precisely that portion, too, for whose education it was principally to legislate. Unless the system of education were such, as at all events, to satisfy that portion of the country, it was obvious that it must be nugatory, or next to no education at all. Till the establishment of the present Board, indeed up to the present day, the great majority of the people of Ireland, had had no education at all from Government. Pretexts had been made, illusions had been practised upon them, but nothing had been done to provide them with such an education as they would fearlessly avail themselves of. Thus it had been hitherto: some efforts had been made in Catholic times for the nation at large, and if these institutions had been preserved, remodelled, and improved, by the spirit of the times, the people of Ireland would not now be suppliants to the wisdom and generosity of that House for an annual grant in aid of national education. The people were not to blame for this, but the trustees to whom the preservation of those institutions had been intrusted. The Established Church in Ireland had been charged with the maintenance and enlargement of them. If they had done their duty, and not converted the funds allocated for these purposes, if they had not violated their oaths, Ireland would now be provided with such a proportion of literary establishments as to require little further aid from the Treasury. By the 28th of Henry 8th, c. 15, the Bishop of the diocese could not induct to a benefice, under a considerable penalty, any clergyman who did not engage to keep a school. The clergy- man so inducted took an oath to that effect; which, if he afterwards did not observe, perform, and fulfil, after being fined for the first two offences, on the third he was liable to lose his benefice. "Then such dignitie, benefice, office, or promotion, spiritual, which such person or persons hold when such offence is committed, shall be taken, deemed, and adjudged to be voyde," and the patron was empowered to appoint anew, as though the incumbent had died, any thing or things by him afore then done notwithstanding. The first question on all this was, whether this oath was still taken, whether the obligation still existed? and then how was that obligation fulfilled? No doubt existed as to the first. The obligation was a Christian obligation, and tithes were given for its performance. The oath was still taken; but as to the performance of the oath, he would refer the House to its own reports. They would find that not one-half of the parishes of Ireland were provided, notwithstanding these oaths and funds, with parochial schools. The consequence had been, that Government, or rather the people, had been called on to establish them. But why had not the Bishops interfered? Were they not the persons to enforce the penalty, and were they not legally as well as morally answerable for the due observance of the statutes? The answer was obvious. The Bishops would naturally be the last persons in the world to interfere, for they were co-partners in the offence. The Bishops themselves, by 12 Elizabeth, c. 1, were obliged to provide "a free schoole within every diocese of this realme of Ireland," one-third of the expense to be defrayed from their incomes, the two other thirds by contributions on the incomes of their clergy. Did they deny this obligation? Quite the contrary. In the reports of the Commission of 1819, the Archbishop of Armagh, and other dignitaries, fully recognized it, and thought two-and-a-half per cent on the incomes of benefices would be no unreasonable contribution. By the report of last year, it seemed that not more than seventy-one free scholars were actually supported in these establishments throughout all Ireland. No one could deny that, had these contributions been punctually paid, there would have been a fund of nearly 20,000l., sufficient for the education of at least 1,000 pupils. Thus, he was right in throwing upon the Church the blame of the neglect which had hitherto required such large funds from the country. They had abused their trust, abandoned their duty, and the public had to pay for the abuse and abandonment. Through the whole of the reign of William, Anne, and the early Georges, they were constantly engaged in attempting to get rid of these education-taxes. They succeeded, and shifted them successively from their own shoulders, like the Church and other rates, on those of the people. Education not only did not flourish, but nearly died. Protestantism became alarmed, and then called in new auxiliaries to its assistance. The charter-school system sprung up for the avowed purpose of Protestantizing Ireland. The English parish schools, it was stated in the preamble of the Act, were not sufficient for the purpose, nor could the residence merely of the parochial clergy fully answer the end. The erecting of Protestant English schools was then declared absolutely necessary "for their conversion." This was surely not an education for Irish Catholics, or, indeed, for any Irishman. How well it was calculated "to convert them," to make dutiful children good citizens, instructed Christians, moral men, was best declared by the numerous reports of that House, the prosecutions ordered by its resolutions against the masters in 1825, and the solemn declarations since acted upon, that the system was so bad that it was altogether impossible to correct it. This was the first attempt to do the duty of clergymen of the Church of England for them, at the expense of the public; and, despite of its orthodoxy and proselytism, it utterly failed. But a second auxiliary started up to support the deficiencies of the charter-schools. A new conversion-trap was baited, for the salvation of the "poor benighted natives." The Society for the Suppression of Vice, under the patronage of a true Protestant Government, set out to do the work of national education. It languished after the first effort. Its religion and zeal were commensurate with Government supplies, and a third society—the Kildare-street—whose merits had been so often before the House, was found requisite to sustain its ineffectual operations. The time of taking men's souls by force had gone, and the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and the Kildare-street Society, both set out with the most earnest protestations of "non interference." Every one knew how it was observed. Hon. Gentlemen said, "there was none; we only required the reading of the Bible without note or comment." But if hon. Gentlemen, at the same time, stated, that they knew that the reading of the Bible without note or comment would detach Catholics from their communion, and still required it, as a condition for the advantages of a reading and arithmetical education, they assuredly made, as far as they could, or dared the conversion of the Catholic the condition or the result of accepting such advantages. The only question then, was, whether this was their opinion or not? To ascertain this, there was no better evidence, surely, than their own. He would give the House an extract, which ought to leave little scepticism on the subject; the evidence on this very subject, of the hon. member for Dundalk—He was asked what was the effect produced by reading and circulating the Scriptures out of schools? He answered, There is one effect produced upon the juvenile part of the attendance: a great many instances have occurred, in which children, from leading the Scriptures, have left the Roman Catholic communion— Children of what ages?—Between fourteen and eighteen, and I have known some instances as early as twelve. A little further, he said:— Every Catholic schoolmaster who enters into the service of the Society, and introduces the Scriptures into his school, immediately withdraws from his priest as to confession, which circumstance leads to a further alienation—from his reflection—and,at length, to a gradual abandonment of the whole system of Popery. If this was not proselytism, and a system requiring such conditions not a proselytising system, he knew not what was. The hon. Gentleman was not the least surprised at the opposition of the Catholic clergymen to such a system, but he limited the extension of such opposition to clergymen alone. Were parents and relatives not to be taken into account? What parent would wish that his child should differ from him, on the most material of all human opinions, or willingly wish that this difference should exist, if it were in his power to avoid it? This was not reasoning on prejudice, but on the most commonly-recognized principles and feelings of human nature. Whether they were right or wrong was another matter; he stated the fact. To say, then, on one side, after such avowals, that the Kildare-street Society was not a proselytising society; and, on the other, that though it was, it ought not to have been opposed by the Persuasion and the persons it was designed to proselytise, were two propositions equally untenable and absurd. Indeed, the first was now no longer disputed, when no immediate advantages were to be expected from such disguise. The reverend Mr. Morgan, actual Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, in a late speech, not qualified or answered by any of his numerous audience, boldly rebuked this duplicity— In announcing my plan, I would never say my object is not proselytism—I would say my object is proselytism; and I would boldly avow, that my purpose is to turn every Roman Catholic that I can. I would never hesitate in acknowledging as my object what really was my object. It Government will not educate the country aright, then let them not educate at all. These men, it must be remembered, found no fault with the Kildare-street system, and prayed for its restoration. The Kildare-street Society was then "educating the country aright," in other words, was upholding a good system for proselytising the Roman Catholic. All this might have been acceptable to the proselytisers, but to the persons intended to be proselytised it was quite another thing. If the funds were wholly Protestant, there might have been some justice, though little sense; but where the funds were Catholic also, it was injustice as well as absurdity, to require the consent and approbation of the Catholics to a system avowedly or covertly designed against themselves. In all these things there was a spirit of fair-play which ought not to be departed from; but when this fair-play had to be evinced towards the immense majority, the argument and obligation were infinitely more strong. Such a system, on such a basis, it was quite obvious could never become general—could never become national. Yet, it was for the nation it was designed; and failing there—failing, especially, for that very class for whom, above all others, it was intended—it might be safely said to have failed in all. Such was the series of blunders pursued by Irish Governments, from a determination to make Irish education, right or wrong, a mere instrument of proselytism. But, besides being very absurd and useless, it was still worse, it was very expensive. He said true, and to prove it he would again refer to the Reports of the House:—

"Charter Schools.
For ninety years total £1,600,000
Since the Union to 1826 732,568
Private property, at lowest calculation per annum 7,067
Annual average, about 41,000l."
For this, the average number of children edu- cated was about 2,000 a-year; while the sum was sufficient to educate, on the Lancasterian, or any other good system, 30,000 with ease.
"Association for Suppression of Vice.
Grant from 1800 to 1824. £85,424 11s. 8d."
What had been done for this? Established 106 schools, amongst them a model school, which utterly failed; distributed Bibles and Catechisms, for which, in one year, their bookseller received a profit of 1,906l.; appointed schoolmasters, so inefficient, that, between 1819 and 1824, not less than fifty-one were under suspension; and when it was provided by Parliament that the grant should be measured by the subscription, the society asked from Parliament 9,000l., when their subscription did not exceed 1,000l.
"Kildare Street Society.
Granted from 1816 to 1830 £253,497 17s. 1d.
Subscriptions from 1813 to 1830 3,990 8. 8."
They had for this, Erected a model school, 30,000l. Instructed, up to 1830, 1,746 masters. Paid clerks, &c. 31,211l. 16s. 4d. And established, on the largest calculation, 1,634 schools, educating 132,570 scholars. When it was considered that the returns from Ireland in 1827, gave 11,823 schools of all kinds, educating 568,904 children, and that parochial education was calculated not to cost Scotland more than 18,000l. per annum, that with far inferior funds, the Netherlands had upwards of 600,000 children in a course of education, Sweden, 6,000 parochial schools, Venetian Lombardy, with a population of not more than 1,894,000, 1,402 elementary schools, established the greater part within these last six years, the House would not be much dazzled by these splendid results. It was, surely, then full time for Government to take this most important of all important public objects into its own hands. Economy, public intelligence, public morality, public tranquillity, required it. In getting rid of the old system, however, difficulties of course occurred. It was quite obvious it was not fitted to national purposes. But what to substitute in its place? Three projects presented themselves to every reflecting mind—1. To leave the whole arrangement to the people themselves—contribution levied by assessment—establishment of schools—payment of schoolmasters by Committee—management from beginning to end in the trustees themselves. This was the system pursued, and success- fully, in the states of New England; and he should prefer it to all others—but coupled with a law, as there, to enforce its observance in every parish, in a rich, civilized, active, and compact community, enjoying the fulness of republican institutions, and habituated for years to their machinery and results. 2. Separate education, dividing Catholic from Protestant. This would be a direct contradiction to the whole of our public policy. If it were useful or necessary to unite both sects, it was surely of moment to attempt it where most practical—the young twig would bend, the old oak might resist. Then would come the separate appropriation of funds. The Catholics being in the majority, and the children to be educated (all of the lower classes) being immensely so—the far larger proportion of such funds should be applied to the use of the Catholics. If so much was said about a Protestant State expending money on Catholic institutions, what should we hear then? Participation was now called spoliation, equality persecution—What would it be called then? 3. There was then left no other plan but the present combined education, respecting the feelings and even the prejudices of both. But the petitioners, and hon. Gentlemen on the other side said, that these feelings had not been respected as far as they were concerned. But he would ask the House in perfect sincerity, after the evidence on both sides, had they brought forward a single proof to support this charge? If the Catholic was not compelled to read the Bible without note or comment, did it follow that they were prohibited from reading it at all? They might read it at all hours, and just in the manner which most suited them. But the Catholic claimed for himself the same privilege, to read it only when it suited him, and in the form that suited him. But, then, the whole Bible was not allowed to children of twelve years old—the Bible was not made a mere school-book—selections were read during school hours—the interpretation was left to the properest person—(the clergyman of each communion)—and this was audaciously called exclusion of the Scriptures, robbing the christian of Christianity, mutilating the Word of God, "dictating to the Holy Ghost." Why, the wisest and most pious men this country had ever produced had been of the very opinion recognized in this course of proceeding. What could be more absurd than to put a book into a child's hand, which he would defy any child to understand? Before the reading of the Bible, the most proper course would first be to teach the child how to read. It was just the same sort of common-sense piety which sent out such large exports of Bibles to the East, but made no arrangement for the reading and writing of the natives. He well recollected seeing more than one bale, in those countries, exposed for sale, the leaves cut out, and the covers converted into cartouches and tobacco boxes. Reverence, true reverence for the Holy Scriptures, would teach any man that they should not be read but where they could be read to advantage. The evidence given that evening, of one of the officers of the Kildare-street Society itself, showed that the Society's opinions were more just in this particular than those of its members, and that children were not allowed to read the Bible, even in part. Then, as to the "mutilations," there was not a school in the country that was not furnished with one or other of such "mutilated" extracts from the Holy Scriptures. The noble Lord would not distinguish between a selection for an unfair purpose, and a selection for convenience. Now, every one knew there was the greatest difference between both, yet had they been artfully confounded to throw odium upon each. No one could approve of the first, but to the second not even the noble Lord himself could object. The Common Prayer, the Liturgy of the Church of England, was a selection of this second kind, a selection to which no Catholic would object, for a very obvious reason, from its being a translation, for the greater part, from the ritual of his own Church. But it really required an apology for detaining the House any longer with a serious refutation of these futilities. Again and again had they been repeated, not by hon. Gentlemen only, but by the very authorities whom for any other purpose, or under any other circumstances those Gentlemen would have selected. Who, for a moment longer, could listen to such objections after hearing the suggestions of the fourteen reports? Scarcely one of the obnoxious portions of the present system, but had not been fully sanctioned in direct, plain, and unanswerable terms, by the high dignitaries whose names were affixed. "But," said the Presbyterians, "we have great respect for the names of the Archbishops of Armagh and Cashel, the Bishops of Killaloe and Ferns, and Mr. Leslie Foster; but they are not Presbyterians—they do not bind us." He could satisfy them on that head too. In their foremost ranks was a champion who, if his powers were measured by his language, ought to stand high, indeed, in the estimation of his fellow-soldiers. He called to them "to march shoulder to shoulder, and foot to foot in the cause of the Lord." No one could suspect his zeal for the whole reading the unmutilated word—the Bible—the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible. What did he say of the project? Why, the Reverend Mr. Cooke, for he was the man, approved, rather by anticipation, of every single portion of this dreadful anti-Christian plan. This was no mere assertion. The man himself was asked, unfortunately, in 1825 what he thought of the propriety of giving a religious education?

"Do you think children should receive a religious education? He answered— My own opinion as to the religious education of children is this: I look upon it in two ways—first, what they receive from their parents or schoolmasters, and, secondly, what they may receive, or should receive, from their clergyman. All I conceive the schoolmaster should do, is to teach them to read, &c. On precisely the same ground he had omitted all reference to religious instruction in the Bill he had brought in last Session, thinking it the province of the clergyman, not of the schoolmaster, and believing such matters ought to be settled by the committees of the schools themselves, (a course easy where the school was all of one communion, not difficult, if treated in a Christian spirit, where it was the reverse). But what did Mr. Cooke say of "separate instruction"—"insufficiency of time for religious education"—"the whole Bible"—"selections," &c.? With regard to the first, it was his own practice— I took the school-houses, not going till after school-hours, or perhaps sooner: the school is dismissed, and every child that does not belong to me, goes away. I begin and catechise the school and other children who attend. And now as to the sufficiency of time: Is one week in the course of a month sufficient for that purpose?—Yes, amply sufficient; and did the discipline of the school permit, one day in the month would nearly suffice. The whole Bible: You would be quite satisfied with a system of instruction in which the children were made to repeat to the master, whether he were a Roman Catholic or a Protestant, and to get parts of the Scripture by heart, as preparatory for you?—Yes, I would resign the Catechism at school, and trust to my influence with pa- rents at home, provided such a sacrifice were desirable for promoting a common education among all classes. The very neutral territory of infidelity, where Catholics and Protestants could alone meet, referred to with so much horror by the hon. Member at this side of the House, was recommended by the Presbyterian, Mr. Cooke, as the best mode "to cut away asperities and prejudices." But in this his reasoning was quite just; and he added later— I conceive where people have submitted to build a school-house, or where public money has been given, the school-house and its patronage ought to be public. The Reverend Mr. Cooke was a very leading man amongst the Protestants against the system; and this would excuse his dwelling at such length upon his opinions. It was true, indeed, that such were not his opinions now; but they were his sworn opinions in 1825, and the House was left to choose between the Reverend Mr. Cooke, on oath, in 1825, before the Committee of the Lords, and the Reverend Mr. Cooke, in declamation before an.excited people of 1832. If he had changed, so had many others, and if once, so he might change again. At all events, it was not for him or his party to inveigh. There were portions, indeed, of the project as it now stood to which he still objected. He should have wished, and he thought he had provided for such an object, by clauses in his Bill to have given the people a larger interference in the management of their schools. The power of assessment gave a right of interference of the justest kind, for it was founded on contribution. He should have liked to have left religious education to be managed less uniformly, but more to be regulated by the peculiar circumstances of each school: above all, he should have desired to have given it a more permanent and fixed character by legislative enactment, and not, by its precarious and experimental character to have invited attack. But with all these defects, he would hail the present plan as the beginning of better things; as the commencement of a thorough re-organization of national education in Ireland. Education must be made commensurate with population. Every citizen must enjoy it, it must be religious—moral—christian; but no one under the pretext of these names must be allowed to shackle or retard it. In the Netherlands, in Bavaria, Wurtemberg, France, Sweden, and in Prussia, where there were assuredly both Protestants and Catholics as enlightened and as zealous as any who sat in that House, a system scarcely differing in any particular from that under discussion, had been tried and succeeded. Why, then, should it not succeed in Ireland? If Government were resolved, it could and would succeed. They had only to go on and to try it fully and fairly. It was true, Ireland was divided by religious dissentions; but so Germany had been in her day, but what was she now? Her rulers had the courage to begin early, and posterity now enjoyed the fruits of their wisdom and determination. Intellectual light, like the physical, was made by the Creator of the Universe for the benefit of all his children; it was no longer possible, he was rejoiced to think, for any body of men to keep it from mankind generally.

Colonel Conolly

said, the adversaries of the Kildare-street Society, charged it with restricting religious education, and then those same persons afterwards charged the same Society with giving too great and unlimited a religious education. Such conduct was monstrous. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the Solicitor General for Ireland, had recourse to such a line of conduct; and how did the Chief Secretary support his views? Why, he relied upon the testimony of a Mr. Carlisle. And who was Mr. Carlisle? Why, a person utterly disclaimed by the whole of that Synod whose petition the House had then to consider. The Synod of Ulster entirely disclaimed all connection or agreement with Mr. Carlisle; and yet the Chief Secretary for Ireland attempted to palm off that person's opinions upon the House as the opinions of the Presbyterians of Ulster. The Solicitor General for Ireland had cast the worst of censure upon the Kildare-street Society, and, having assisted in despoiling and annihilating it, he, in the same breath, said he did not wish to impute improper motives to it. The Chief Secretary said, the Kildare-street Society was abandoned because it did not answer the purpose for which it was founded; but he contended it was put down because it had succeeded to too great an extent to suit the views of its foes. He spoke as one intimate with the proceedings of the Society, and he declared, upon his honour and his conscience, that during the last year of its existence, that Society had been compelled to refuse many applications for schools, as it had already as many schools as its narrow funds enabled it to support. The Roman Catholic hierarchy were the great opponents of the Kildare- street Society. Ignorance was necessary to the dominion of the Church of Rome, and to maintain that dominion it was necessary that the whole people should continue uneducated, or only receive that sort of instruction which would prevent them from distinguishing between good and evil; and from ignorance the Kildare-street Society, if justly treated, would have freed the country. He declared solemnly that, as a member of the Kildare-street Society, he had ever most conscientiously endeavoured to spread that system of education which he believed to be the best benefit man could bestow upon his fellow man. The system now attempted to be thrust upon Ireland was at once impious and absurd. The great body of the members of the Established Church, of the Presbyterians, and of the other Protestant Dissenters from the Established Church were, upon the principle of Christianity, thoroughly opposed to this system; and if it were persevered in, instead of giving peace to Ireland, it would only add to her miseries.

Mr. Henry Grattan

said, he must add his approbation to those of other hon. Members for Ireland who detested the exclusive systems of education which had prevailed there, and advocated the adoption of the more liberal system proposed. He hoped to see such a course adopted as would reconcile Catholic and Protestant, and unite them in a lasting bond of union, for the promotion of the true interests of Ireland, and he expected his country would obtain that advantage by the proposed plan. He deprecated the course which the hon. and gallant member for Donegal had that night pursued. The speech which he had just uttered was totally at variance with the principles which he had some years since expressed. He had that evening calumniated his countrymen, by asserting that the lower classes of them were so ignorant, and so completely void of moral feeling, as to be incapable of judging between right and wrong. It was, however, the misfortune of Ireland ever to be stabbed to the heart by those who had fed and fattened on her vitals, but, not content with traducing his countrymen by wholesale, he had attacked a reverend gentleman whose only fault, in the eyes of the hon. and gallant Member was that of his being an advocate for a liberal and conciliatory system, and who was prepared to co-operate in obtaining so desirable an end. Far different, indeed, was the conduct of the hon. and gallant Colonel, though with one point of the new plan he could not find fault, for he had been Chairman at a meeting at which it had been resolved that the Bible should not be used as a school-book. The opponents of the new system said, politics had nothing to do with their conduct. This was a declaration easily made, but it was not borne out by their conduct; he was prepared to maintain that the objections made were in reality pretences, the real object being a contest for power, which the exclusives feared was about to depart from their grasp, and they could not possibly part with it without the greatest reluctance. The opponents of this new system rivalled the hon. member for Wigan in their attacks on the Government. The hon. and gallant Colonel and his friends called the Government puny and imbecile, while the hon. member for Wigan called the Government a noodle-and-doodle Government. The attacks, however, would prove vain. The country had thrown off the old trammels, and would no longer bear an infringement upon the rights of conscience or upon their liberties.

Colonel Conolly

hoped the House would permit him to say a few words in reply to the assertions of the hon. and learned member for Meath (Mr. Henry Grattan). That hon. Member had taken from a newspaper a report of sentiments ascribed to him, which he never uttered. He had not been present at the public meeting alluded to, nor even in that part of the county; and he must add, that in all that the hon. Member said with respect to his conduct, he had equally departed from truth and candour.

Mr. Henry Grattan

assured the hon. Member he was quite mistaken with respect to the nature of his observations; and he hoped that the hon. Member would explain what he meant by saying that his assertions were void of truth and candour.

Colonel Conolly

said, that the hon. Member had asserted, that he (Colonel Conolly) was uttering opinions in one place when it was known he was in another, and therefore he thought his statements were deficient in candour.

Mr. Henry Grattan

repeated that the hon. Member had filled the Chair at a meeting such as he had described.

Mr. O'Farrell

returned his thanks to the Government for having put the system of national education on a fair and equal footing. He also thought that the speech of the hon. member for Donegal carried its own antidote with it. It was full of that violent feeling which unfortu- nately prevailed in Ireland, but it was not in this country necessary to reply to it, as here it would have no weight.

Sir Robert Inglis

hoped, as there appeared some doubt whether the hon. and gallant Colonel and the hon. member for Meath alluded to the same meeting, and as misapprehension existed on both sides, the question would not be pursued any further.

Mr. Kearsley

said, that if his Majesty called upon him to give his services, than which many things more unlikely had come to pass, the first thing he would do would be to order the "Rogue's March" to be beat for both parties.

Mr. Ruthven

declared that the whole opposition to this system was purely of a political character, and denied that the feeling of the Protestants of Belfast and its neighbourhood was spoken by the parties who assumed to be the Protestant organs.

Petition read.

Mr. James E. Gordon

said, in moving, that the petition should be printed, he should take the liberty of making a few observations, in reply to what had fallen from the right hon. Secretary. He had not, in presenting the petition, dwelt on the subject of it further than he was publicly identified with the question. It was said, that the present Government had only adopted a plan which had been determined upon by several Committees and Commissions, and were giving effect to the recommendations of such Committees and Commissioners. There was this difference, however, and it was a material one, that the present Government had adopted the bad advice which had been properly rejected by previous Governments. It ought also to be recollected that effect could not be given to the Reports of 1824 and 1826, because the respective clergy did not agree as to the particular extracts from the Scriptures which ought to be selected. It was with him a serious objection that by the present Board, constituted as it was, were not only made the selections but the translations of the Bible. A great deal had been said about the impositions and delusions which it was asserted had been practised in order to obtain the signatures of the 250,000 Protestants who signed the petition to Parliament, and it was added, that there was no ground for charging the Government with excluding the Bible. He did not mean to say, that any such direct measures had been adopted, but he contended, that the tendency of this new plan would be to exclude the Scriptures from national education. He deprecated a plan which intrusted the national education to a Board composed of Protestants, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and Socinians. He denied that the Irish Roman Catholics were opposed to the reading of the Bible. It was their priests who excluded the Scriptures, and he thought it unfair and unwise to legislate in obedience to the wishes of that class. It had been asked, why those who were opposed to the new system did not propose one of their own? They were not called upon to do so. They had a system in operation which diffused the lights of scriptural education to 440,000 persons, and with that they were satisfied. All they asked of the Government was, not to interfere. He called upon them, as they did not support the Kildare-street Society, not to give aid to any other, but rather leave education to the benevolence of a Christian public. He was prepared to prove there were 200,000 Roman Catholic children receiving education under the former system, which the new plan would entirely supersede; and he would conclude by expressing his impression that the popular feeling was in favour of the Kildare-street system.

Mr. Sheil

regretted that the subject had not been brought forward in a way to obtain a regular vote on the question. Gentlemen on the other side had taken up a position wholly untenable. It was of importance that public opinion in Ireland should be set right. He denied that the Scriptures had been withheld from Roman Catholic children. How did the fact stand? Two days in the week were set apart for religious instruction. Protestants, Catholics, Presbyterians, and even Socinian sects, were to receive religious instruction according to their faith. The Government had not taken away the Bible. He had been delighted that night with the honest mild speech of a noble Lord (Mandeville). He some time since considered that noble Lord intolerant, but that night had altered his opinion. God forbid the children of Ireland should be deprived of the Bible. From the Scriptures came light and happiness here and hereafter.

Mr. Charles Grant

observed, that the noble Lord, the member for Huntingdon (Lord Mandeville), had said, that there was this distinction between him and those Gentlemen who agreed with him and the Government, that, whereas the former thought that education was a matter of religious obligation, and that his Majesty's Government ought to attend to the matter of edu- cation as such, the latter thought that it was not a matter of religious obligation, but of state policy. On the part of the Government he (Mr. Grant) begged to repel that observation—he should have, perhaps, said aspersion—if it had not been accompanied by so much kindness and courtesy on the part of the noble Lord. He begged to say, that his Majesty's Government did regard the education of the people as a matter of religious obligation, inasmuch as it considered that the security and prosperity of the kingdom depended on the religious principles of the people of England. Unless the people of England were given a religious education, grounded upon the sacred Scriptures, it was vain to talk of the greatness and the prosperity of the empire.

Petition to be printed.

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