HC Deb 23 May 1832 vol 12 cc1399-401
Mr. Leader

presented sixteen Petitions from several parishes in the county of Kilkenny, in favour of the Irish Reform Bill. Amongst them were those of Thomastown, Callan, St. Patrick's, St. John's, St. Mary's, St. Canice, in the city of Kilkenny, Freshford, Kilmana, Urlingford, Durrow, Killaloe, Graig, and from Kinsale, in the county Cork. There was also a Petition from the citizens of Kilkenny, praying for an additional Member, which, the hon. Member said, Kilkenny richly deserved, whether as regarded its trade or population, or its contribution towards the revenue of the kingdom. The latter had advanced from 12,000l. to 47,000l. per annum. Under these circumstances, he thought it most unfair that, while Galway, Limerick, and Belfast were to get additional Representatives under the Reform Bill, Kilkenny was to be excluded from the same privileges. Further, he would ask, upon what ground it was proposed to give the College of Dublin an additional Representative, which contained a constituency of about fifty or sixty persons, while the city of Kilkenny, with a population of 25,000 souls, and the seat of commerce and manufacture, was to be passed by unnoticed in the new plan for extending the popular Representation.

Mr. Lefroy

was not surprised that the learned member for Kilkenny should feel indignant at the treatment which the city he represented had received at the hands of the projector of this new measure of Reform; but although he admitted his right to complain of this circumstance, he must say, that he conceived it most unfair of that hon. Member to disparage the claims of another constituency. The University could not boast of 25,000 inhabitants, but it could boast of this (and it was the ground upon which it rested its claim to an additional Representative), that it was the seat of learning and of education for Ireland. These were the claims of the University to the privilege which the hon. Member had thought fit to disparage, for what reason he was quite at a loss to tell. He (Mr. Lefroy) was quite aware that this was not the time to enter on the discussion of this question; but when the time had arrived, he trusted he should be able to satisfy the House, that the objections of the hon. Member were not such as should be entertained.

Mr. O'Connell

said, the University of Dublin boasted, that it was the only University in Ireland, but he might with great safety say, that it was the only thing it had to boast of—a more stupid University did not exist in any country. It had not produced a single work the name of which was worth recollecting; nor had it performed a single act of public utility that could entitle it to respect or consequence. On the contrary, it was the nursery of faction, and, in place of diffusing useful information and morality, some of its teachers were employed in performing the parts of political partizans, encouraging faction and bigotry, and poisoning every circle of social intercourse, by setting man against man, and producing religious animosities amongst all classes of the people. And this University had 100,000 acres of arable land, and 40,000l. a-year—although its constituency amounted only to ninety-six, it had the privilege of sending a Member to that House; and as he had touched on that point, he felt it his duty to state, that a more corrupt or shocking scene of perjury never was witnessed at any Irish election than at this very University of Dublin—this seat of learning, as the hon. and learned Member had thought proper to designate it. He (Mr. O'Connell) could not believe, until he had read the Irish Reform Bill, that it was intended to commit so monstrous a crime against the people of Ireland, as to give one, out of the paltry number of five additional Members, to this worthless nest of faction, corruption, and stupidity. He would not, upon that occasion, say anything more upon the subject, but he hoped, if there was a spark of feeling or sympathy in that House for Ireland, and unless the professions of hon. Members were mere lip-service, that this mon- strous and iniquitous proposition would be scouted with the contempt it merited.

Mr. Henry Grattan

, supported the observations of the hon. member for Kerry. The scenes which took place at elections in the University of Dublin were most disgraceful; and instead of a seat of learning, it would have been much more appropriate to call it the seat of party spirit, faction, and corruption. The hon. Member had stated that no work of consequence had been produced by the University. He, however, begged to remind the hon. Member, that a very celebrated work had been written on tithes by a learned member of that University, and in order to mark the sense of gratitude entertained by the University for this splendid effort of literary merit, the author was elevated to the office of Provost. The worth and talents, indeed, of individuals such as Dr. Sadlier and the Reverend Mr. Sandes, were almost calculated to redeem the character of the University from public odium, and these would live at least as long in public estimation as that of the hon. Gentleman who represented the University. It was, however, to be lamented that such men as those were exceptions to the general rule.

Mr. Shaw

defended the University of Dublin from the aspersions of the hon. member for Kerry. He denied that no work of merit had been produced by the College of Dublin, and in proof of the truth of his remark, he adduced the works of the late Archbishop of Dublin, of Dr. Elrington, and others. The reason why they had not produced as many works as other Universities arose fron the fact, that the time of the members was almost wholly occupied in the education of youth.

Petition to lie on the Table and be printed.

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