§ Mr. George Wood moved the second reading of the Bill for admitting Dissenters to the Universities.
§ Mr. Estcourt
rose to oppose the second 633 reading. The first proposition of the hon. Mover of the Bill was, in his view of the case, self-evident. It was, that education was in itself a good, and that it ought to be extended. This, he hoped, no man was prepared to deny. But in the hon. Member's next proposition, there was an indirect allusion to the education at Oxford and Cambridge. Now, he would ask the hon. Member, whether he considered the system of education at Oxford and Cambridge as a good one? Was that the system which he was desirous of having carried through? Now, if that were so, he (Mr. Estcourt) must say, that the education at Oxford was strictly and essentially a religious education. Was that the education which the hon. Member would have continued for the Dissenters? The hon. Member might mean to say, that the system of education adopted in the University was good, save that part of it which related to religion. If he did not mean to say that, all that he had said meant nothing, for his Bill tended to destroy the present system of religious education adopted in the University. If there could be any doubt on the point, he could refer to the language held by the hon. member for Leeds, whilst acting as the chairman of a large body of Dissenting delegates, to show, that such was the object aimed at by the Bill. On that occasion, the hon. member for Leeds had avowed, that the Dissenters wished to partake of the advantage derived from professorships and scholarships in the University, but that they did not want, nor did they ask for, the privilege of taking degrees in divinity. If that hon. Gentleman was authorized to make that avowal on the part of the Dissenting body, could there be any question on the part of any man gifted with common reason, that the admission of Dissenters into the University, must destroy the religious part of its system of education? He considered, that the real object of the Dissenters was, to adopt a system of education calculated to dissolve that which they called the unjust and unchristian union between Church and State.—[Mr. Wood: Such is not the object of the Bill.]—The hon. Member did not avow that object; but there were other Dissenters who did. His hon. friend, the member for Leeds, had avowed it once, and would, he had no doubt, avow it again. He referred the House to the construction which had been put upon 634 that expression of the Dissenters, by the Lord High Chancellor of England. By the severance of the Church and State, his Lordship said, that he could understand nothing but the abolition of the Established Church. Hence, he contended, that though it might not be the intention of the hon. Member opposite, it was clearly the intention of the Dissenting body at large, to sever the Church from the State, or, in other words, to destroy the established religion of the country. The academical education pursued at Oxford was essentially religious—it could not be separated from religion, nor from the religion of the Church of England. If the Legislature either demolished, weakened, or counteracted that education, it would undermine that system of education altogether. He would take the liberty of asking, what was the reason for bringing in this Bill? Who was it objected to this system of education? Perhaps the colleges could find no persons qualified to give lectures. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman had ascertained, that there was some difficulty in procuring young men to enter as students in them. No such thing; so far from this being the fact, never was the University to which he belonged better supplied with lecturers of talent and learning; never was every college in the University so overflowing with young men of studious and industrious habits. He did not know why this application for a change in the studies of the University should come from the Dissenters from the Church. No complaints had been made by the members of the Established Church; why, then, should their privileges be taken from them? His hon. friend near him had, on a former occasion, read an extract from a report made by the London University, in which it was stated, that "where persons of different religious opinions were to be instructed, no religious instruction could be sufficiently imparted in a system of academical education, without a compromise of religious opinion." In that opinion he entirely concurred. It had been stated to him by a learned doctor on a former night, that, formerly, young men on their matriculation, had little or no acquaintance with the articles of the Church to which they were called upon to subscribe. That was now completely altered; the youths at our public schools were well instructed in the articles of the Church, and went to the University with 635 sufficient information as to their meaning, to be justified in giving in their subscription to them. In what he had just been saying, he was speaking principally of the University which he had the honour of representing, but he believed, that his remarks applied with equal justice to the University of Cambridge. It had been urged, that if admission to the Universities were granted to the Dissenters, those admitted would be too few to do any harm to those corporations. This argument had been urged in behalf of Catholic emancipation, and the whole country was now acquainted with the result of it. As Legislators, they ought not to argue in so partial a manner, for whether the Dissenters admitted to the Universities were many or few, the result would be the same. If there was only one Dissenter admitted, the religious opinions of that one must be respected. In lectures, there must be a forbearance shown to his feelings, or else he would not attend them. It was, however, a very different matter, whether the absence of a Dissenter from chapel or lectures was permitted by connivance, or whether he was permitted to say,—"I will not be forced to attend your chapel, or your theological lectures, for I have the hon. member for Lancashire's Act to defend me." Was it not certain, that the Dissenters, if admitted into the Universities, would act in a body, and do all in their power to favour persons of their own persuasion. What, too, would be the case of a young Churchman meeting a young Dissenter in the University, armed at all points in defence of his own theological doctrines? Would not that be productive of great inconvenience, and of much warmth and bitterness of spirit? He reminded the House of what had occurred in a mixed institution, kept by Dr. Doddridge about ninety years ago, and read an extract from that learned divine's works in explanation of it. The hon. Member also read the opinion of Robert Hall, to show, that great inconveniences must result from educating the different classes together. With the facts stated by these learned divines before them, was the House prepared to break down the system of the Universities, in order to produce young men who, instead of being instructed in the tenets of their own religion, and being distinguished for piety and virtue, would be more distinguished for their learning than for the fervour of 636 their religious devotion? He hoped, that the hon. member for Lancashire would reflect on the danger of persevering in this his desperate course. He turned to the pamphlet of Mr. Whewell, the able and distinguished tutor of Trinity College, Cambridge, and he found in it this question,—"Is there not a manifest purpose to combine religion with the important events of our lives, and the daily course of our employments—not merely if we choose, if we are in the mood, if we happen to recollect it, if we have no objection, but inseparably, necessarily, as a matter of steadfast institution, of inviolable custom? Surely it is in this view that the great events of life—birth, and marriage, and death—are accompanied by solemn and affecting religious ceremonies; that prayers, at stated hours, on stated days, are made in all civilized states; that our daily employments, our daily meals, are accompanied by petitions for the blessing of God. The object of these institutions, as rational as they are universal in the Christian world is, not to give us 'the full consciousness of freedom,' not to avoid all 'prescribed exercises,' but to bind religious thoughts upon us by the strongest of all constraints—the constraint of habit; to teach us to connect the approval and sympathy of our fellow-citizens with the acknowledgment of our dependence upon, and trust in God; and to make us feel, that there is a 'reward proposed' even by men for what they think to be religion, namely, the good opinion and good-will which they gladly give to those who share with them the most solemn of their hopes and fears, and their reverence for a supreme rule of life." Now, if that be so, should not religion be made a part of every system of religious education? It was essential, not only for the welfare of the State, but also for the welfare of mankind in general, that every man should be educated in the pure tenets of religion. He knew that Gentlemen differed as to what those pure tenets were; but if his constituents at Oxford thought that theirs were the pure tenets of Christianity, surely they ought to be permitted to launch the young whose education they superintended into the world, versed not only in those tenets, but in all the other doctrines which spread a charm and a value over human life. He thought, that the hon. member for Lancaster would find himself environed with difficulties, even if he succeeded in 637 passing the Bill. The statute of examination required a knowledge of the thirty-nine articles. It was to this effect:—"Let the articles also of doctrine put forth in the synod of London, in the year 1562, form part of the subjects of examination, in which articles, according to the statutes of the University, tutors are bound to instruct pupils committed to their tuition." He should like to know, how this statute would be complied with when the University was filled with Dissenters. The statute then proceeded,—"Touching the points of doctrine themselves, let there be first questions proposed, short and clear; then let the candidate be called upon to adduce those passages of Scripture, by which the particular doctrine under consideration may be principally proved. Furthermore, the evidences, as they are called, or the arguments upon which rests the truth of religion, natural as well as revealed, are by no means to be omitted out of this examination." How, he would ask, would the Dissenters avoid compliance with this statute? He supposed, that the answer would be, by this Bill. Then, this Bill would be a direct interference with the internal legislation of the Universities. Now, there was no precedent for any such interference by either House of Parliament. if this was a good precedent for interference with the Universities, it was also a good precedent for interference with all corporate bodies, and indeed, for the infraction of every public and private right. Then, as to the statutes about admission, what did the hon. Member mean to do with the heads of houses, at whose discretion young men were at present admitted into the Universities? Did he mean to say, that the heads of houses were to admit anybody and everybody who applied to them, or that they were to have the same privileges which they enjoyed at present, with regard to the members of the Established Church, but that, with regard to Jews, Unitarians, and Atheists, they must exercise no discretion, but admit them at once, as matter of course? If that were to be the case, this legislation was not only useless; it was also positively insulting to the Universities. He understood, that the Dissenters complained of the monopoly enjoyed by the Universities. Now, if there were no such thing as an Established Church, he could understand the grounds upon which their complaint was founded. But there being an Es- 638 tablished Church, to which the Universities were attached as a part, he said, that the Dissenters had no right to complain of them as a monopoly. They were specially founded for the propagation of the doctrines of the national Church, and they answered the purposes of their foundation, by rearing a race of pious and learned clergymen for the service of that Church. He was anxious not to say anything that might be deemed offensive; still a sense of duty compelled him to speak that which he believed to be the truth. It appeared to him that, through the medium of this Bill, the Dissenters were artfully attacking the very existence of the Established Church. He said artfully, for they were not attacking it openly and fairly, but under a species of disguise. After they had succeeded in destroying the Established Church, he thought, that the Dissenters might come forward, plausibly enough, and say, "Why maintain these institutions, where you can no longer rear a pious and learned clergy for the service of the Church?" But the Dissenters knew well that, so long as there was a pious clergy to instruct the laity, there would be a pious laity to defend the Church, and, therefore, they felt, that they would not be able to make any progress in subverting the Established Church so long as the Universities existed with their present privileges. They, therefore, made an insidious attack upon the Universities, knowing, that if they could remove the key-stone upon which the Established Church rested, they must bring down the rest of the edifice in ruins, and that, in that case, they would have little or no difficulty in separating the Church from the State. Great changes had taken place in the Universities of late years, in consequence of the relaxations which had been permitted in their Statutes. Those changes were incidental to the state of the country. He warned the House, however, against listening any further to the applications of the Dissenters, for the toleration which had been granted to them had not been granted for the sake of encouraging Dissenters, but of diffusing peace and goodwill throughout the country. When he found that attempts were made daily to deprive the Bishops of their seats in the House of Lords—when he found that the funds heretofore applied to the support of the Church were now considered as disposable property, and 639 were proposed to be taken away from the Church—when he found that, under the auspices of the present Ministry, the Universities, in which the clergy had been hitherto reared, were to be set aside from the Established Church—and when he likewise found, that it was avowed that there was a desire abroad to sever the Church from the State—the only conclusion to which he could come was, that a dissolution of the tolerant Established Church of this country must follow. He would remind the House, therefore, that, at a late meeting of liberal Christians of various denominations, a Resolution was agreed to, in which they declared, that they regarded the Church of England as one of the greatest national blessings Divine Providence had bestowed upon the land, as it had, at all times, and under all circumstances, been the strong advocate of toleration. With reference to the Bill of the hon. member for South Lancashire, he could not help saying, that it was a specimen of legislation entirely without precedent. It ought to be impressed on the mind of every Gentleman in the House, that there was no precedent to be found for Parliament legislating for the two Houses of Convocation in the two Universities. There had sometimes been communications between Parliament and those bodies, but never till now had any interference by Parliament with the legislation of either of them ever taken place. The hon. member for South Lancashire could not say, that this Bill did not interfere with their legislation, for one of the clauses in his Bill was to this effect;—'That no statute, law, ordinance, decree, or grace, made or passed by any authority what soever in any of the said Universities, or in any of the colleges or halls within the same, shall in any manner obstruct, limit, or qualify the plain intent and obvious meaning of the foregoing enactments; but such statute, law, ordinance, decree, or grace, shall be, to all intents and purposes, void and of no effect.' He said, that in that clause an end was put to the constitution of the Universities. In the next session of Parliament they would have some gentleman or other, belonging to some dissenting sect, starting up and saying, "This restriction is too bad, and so is that; I must introduce a Bill to take them both away. The Universities must not be permitted to legislate on such subjects—they must not make 640 laws; but we must make new laws to meet our own views and answer our own purposes." If the hon. Member were prepared to reduce the ancient institutions of the Universities, ancient beyond the memory of any of our Kings, to the state and level of the London University, he could understand his object in bringing in this Bill; but, if he wished those ancient institutions to continue in existence, and retain their former credit, he could not understand what the hon. Member meant by a specimen of legislation which was calculated to overthrow their entire constitution. After quoting the protest of Mr. Sewell, a member of the University of Oxford against any interference with the privileges of the University, the hon. Member expressed his hope, that the House would stand by the Universities and the Church on the present occasion. In his conscience, he believed the Bill to be fraught with danger to the most valued institutions of the country, to the safety of the monarchy, and the welfare of the empire. Entertaining such sentiments, he felt it to be his duty to move, by way of Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
seconded the Amendment. Was it the intention of the House, he would ask, to revoke the Acts, regulations, and by-laws of the Universities by which Dissenters were excluded from them? If such was their intention, they had better give their sanction to the measure before them. There did not exist a single bylaw in the colleges of the Universities, nor even a single custom, which did not go to obstruct Dissenters, and prevent them from being admitted to qualify in the Universities. How could a Dissenter become a master in any of the colleges, when, to be one, a complete knowledge of the tenets of the Established Church was necessary? No matter how great a proficient in learning he might be—no matter how brilliant were the talents with which nature endowed him, a religious education was a sine qua non. What greater objection could there be than this? Even the Dissenters themselves, when such was the fact, ought not to wish to enter these colleges, and be under such masters, and be continually present in a place where a system of religious education was adopted from beginning to end. It appeared to him, that it must always be a grave subject of displeasure to the Dissenters them- 641 selves to be obliged to attend lectures in which they would hear the tenets of their own Church completely controverted. But, perhaps, the House did not wish that there should be any religious education at the Universities. If such was the intention of the House, they would prove it by passing the Bill before them. He really doubted whether, even if the Dissenters were admitted to be masters, they would turn out to be proper ones. A school for Dissenters had been formerly established at Daventry; but it had failed, and the teachers and ministers that school sent forth had so much vagueness in their opinions, that their tenets and the subjects they preached about had the very worst effect possible upon their flocks. The introduction of Dissenters as masters in colleges was a very serious matter, and one that should be gravely looked to. Let the effect it would have on the pupils of the Universities be considered. For his own part, he did not think, that the pupils would pay much attention to the instruction of teachers from the religion of whom they differed. Could it be expected, that those pupils would ever look with much reverence on the religion of the Established Church, when they saw it treated with indifference, as it would be if the Dissenters were allowed to become masters? In these times of trouble—in these times of dissension of every species—the admission of Dissenters into the Universities would be nothing less than opening them to conflicting opinions, and making them an arena for religious animosity, instead of allowing them to be the quiet seats of study. The Bill before them was very extensive; it allowed a far wider latitude than appeared at first sight, and under its cloak infidels and atheists would creep into the Universities. If the Dissenters followed the course he thought they would pursue—if they denied religion—if they refused to allow it to enter into their system of education, or gave at best but an emasculated education, what would be the consequences? Why, the noblemen and gentry of the country would cease to send their sons to the Universities. But here it might be argued, that it was not necessary that English Gentlemen should be acquainted with controversy, but, at least, they should be made acquainted with the tenets of the religion they professed. But were not some of them destined to be the ministers of the 642 Established Church afterwards? The moment the laity were excluded from having a religious education, that moment you excluded those who might, in time to come, become ministers. He looked upon this Bill as one that would eventually have the effect of excluding ministers from the Universities. It would, also, have a very bad effect,—a worse one, perhaps, on the laity,—since it would prevent them from forming, at the University, attachments with those who would become afterwards ministers of religion. Preventing this would, likewise, lead to another evil consequence. By breaking off the early acquaintance that might be formed between the minister and the gentlemen among whom he might afterwards reside—and this the Bill would do—a stop would be put to the mutual assistance they would afford to each other in making the stream of benevolence flow more rapidly and broadly. He was aware that the party who looked upon all that was said on that side of the House he was on, as intended to incite religious animosity, considered with contempt all the attainments acquired at the Universities, looked with disdain on the acquisition of the dead languages, and despised everything like polite literature. There were others who were tricked by a false seeming of liberality into a support of this measure. He would ask one plain question. Would they, by passing this measure, close the doors of the Universities on the nobility and gentry of England in order to open them to a small body of individuals, for a small body the Dissenters must be considered when compared with the rest of the population of the country? But the Dissenters were a rich, and, he understood, a respectable class of persons. Why, then, did they not found and endow colleges of their own, and teach in them whatsoever they chose? The Protestants would not interfere with them—they might have whatever test of admission they pleased—for the Protestants would no more ask to be admitted into their colleges than they now asked to be admitted into Maynooth. Let the Dissenters erect their own colleges, and, if they should happen to produce, as the English Universities already had, great and eloquent statesmen, profound philosophers, and men who would be an ornament to society, then would their country be grateful to them for the benefit they had bestowed upon it. He felt grateful for this opportunity of paying a tribute 643 of respect to those Universities, to one of which he was indebted for his education.
§ Mr. Peter
said, that whilst he gave his cordial support to the second reading of the Bill, he must, at the same time, express his concurrence with the hon. Member who had just sat down, in deploring the violence which had been displayed by some of the Dissenters, in condemning their gratuitous and uncalled for interference with the English Church. No man more deeply regretted such proceedings than he did. But whilst they thus condemned the conduct of those Dissenters, they should take care not to follow their example. Their folly and injustice could never sanction ours—their demand of what might be unreasonable would not sanction us in withholding from them what was really their right and due. With respect to the arguments which had been advanced by the hon. member for the University of Oxford, he (Mr. Peter) thought, that the time for many of them had long gone by. Why if his arguments were of any validity—if his principles were correct—then, not only was the proposed measure impolitic and unjust, but every former concession—the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts—Catholic Emancipation—all that had been done for Dissenters during the two preceding reigns—must be equally so;—every execrable Statute which once deformed our Statute book ought still to remain there, a record of barbarism and cruelty and superstition to remotest generations. But, in our zeal for the name of Christianity, let us not lose sight of its spirit and practice. Let us not forget, that it is the religion of peace and charity, and that one of its fundamental laws and precepts is, that we should do, as we would be done unto. Now, was this the principle on which we had acted towards the Dissenters? Had we, he repeated, always acted towards them, as we would have wished them under similar circumstances to act towards ourselves? Was proscription from the privileges of their fellow-citizens—was the degradation of their whole body as unworthy of all academical advantages and distinctions—was this the justice, which (supposing them to have been the dominant party in the State)—was this, he would ask, the measure of justice which we should have been satisfied in seeing meted out by them to our children and ourselves? He contended that we had no right to make the 644 creed of our fellow subjects a matter either of punishment or reward. He contended that all restrictions, tending to exclude any particular sect or class from privileges enjoyed by the rest of the community were positive wrongs, and repugnant to the spirit of Christianity. It was not distant or problematical good, but the pressure of some great physical or moral necessity which could alone justify their infliction. How far this might have been the prevailing motive with the framers or enforcers of these articles, it was useless to inquire, our object was, to consider the policy or impolicy of their continuance. It had been recorded of a great man of ancient times—the Emperor Julian—that he made a decree, prohibiting Christians from the study of Heathen learning, for, said he—they would wound us with our own weapons—they would overcome us with our own arts and sciences. Such were the fears expressed by that celebrated Apostate, with respect to the early Christians, who were the Dissenters of his age;—and to listen to the opponents of the present measure in the two Universities, one might almost imagine that they were actuated by similar apprehensions. The hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Herbert) had asked why the Dissenters did not found colleges for themselves in which they might teach whatever tenets they liked best? But no—the Dissenters were not allowed this privilege. The Universities had proclaimed, that—as far as academical distinctions and advantages were concerned—the Dissenters should not be educated at all. They closed their own gates against them, and would, if possible, prohibit all others from being opened to them. They would neither permit them to graduate within their own walls, nor allow the London, or any other University, the power of granting them degrees within theirs. Now even had these things been merely titular and honorary, and attended with no worldly advantage—still he would say, that the withholding of them was a grievance, an injustice. But this was not all: it was not the mere degradation, mortifying and heart-galling as that must be to every generous mind—it was not merely the degradation and dishonour of which the Dissenter had a right to complain. He suffered also a personal injury, a positive evil; he was retarded by it in the various paths of his professional 645 life. Would he be a lawyer? he was to be delayed for two years in his call to the Bar. Would he practise medicine? he could not even become a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians for the want of a University degree. Now these were hardships—these were positive evils and inflictions coming home to the bosoms and pockets of all classes of Dissenters. It was not, however, only in justice to the Dissenters, but for the sake, no less, of members of the two Universities and of the Church of England, that he would remove these restrictions. If any one thing tended more than another to weaken those establishments, to counteract their utility, and to deteriorate their character and influence in the estimation of society—it was a system of intolerance—it was the continuance of tests and restrictions which the age had so long out-grown, and for the abrogation of which not only the Dissenters, but many of our most pious and enlightened Churchmen—many of the most distinguished members of one of the Universities, had implored the Legislature. He (Mr. Peter) could himself bear testimony to the truth of much that had been said on the subject. Though a Churchman himself—though a Churchman as much on principle and reflection, as by education and early habit—he never looked back without shame and regret to the utter levity and ignorance in which Oaths were taken, and Articles of Faith subscribed at the University of which he was a member. He had known students, when called on to subscribe or swear to the Articles, and when expressing their doubts and scruples about some, or their objections to others, he had known them told by their tutor, that it was a matter of no importance, that the Articles admitted of a great latitude of interpretation, that every one might put his own construction on them, and that, in short, it was all a mere form. Now, was this as it should be? Ought such a state of things to be tolerated in any institution—in any establishment for the education of Christian youth? The hon. member for Oxford, after having conjured up various difficulties and objections to the admission of Dissenters, had stated, that it would interfere with the studies, and subvert the system of religious instruction so long and so beneficially exercised in the Universities. Speaking, however, from his own experience, he (Mr. Peter) would say, that 646 he knew of no studies, no lectures, no examinations, with which the presence of Dissenters need, in any way, to interfere. Students, in his day, were not compelled to attend the Divinity Lectures of the University, and as for examinations, there was nothing in them to which Dissenters would not submit. They were, in fact (as Professor Sedgwick had stated), tests not of Orthodoxy, but of learning. They were so considered in former times, and such, he believed, they continued at the present day. But the chief difficulty had been already overcome at Cambridge by the admission of Dissenters to residence and study; and if they could safely be admittted to residence and study, why not to their degrees? At Oxford, indeed, where Dissenters had not yet been admitted, there might be greater difficulties and prejudices to combat; but who would say, that, after having been overcome in one of the Universities, they were to be deemed insuperable in the other? The hon. member for the University of Oxford had lamented the prevalence of Dissent; but was he taking the best way to arrest its progress? As a sincere Churchman, he (Mr. Peter) had often regretted it; and yet, on maturer consideration, he doubted whether even good had not come forth out of the evil. It might be questioned, whether the excitement and inquiries, which had in some instances, led to Dissent, had not, in others, been conducive to the spread and confirmation of religious truth? Truth was compared in Scriptures to a streaming fountain. If her waters flowed not in perpetual progression, they stagnated and sickened into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. A man (as Milton had somewhere observed) might be a heretic even in the truth, if he believed things only because his pastor, or the Council said so, without having reasons for his belief. How much soever, then, as Churchmen, we might deplore the prevalence of Dissent, we had, at least, this consolation, that it was no proof of religious indifference or unbelief. It was not the smooth Epicurean, it was not the scoffing Infidel or Freethinker, that fought about creeds, that quarrelled with Conformity and Subscription. No, quite the reverse. It was the earnest inquirer after truth; it was the man, who believed, and wished to have reasons for his belief. It was men of this description, it was of men of this character, 647 that a large proportion of the Nonconformists was composed. This was at least a consolation to us as Christians, as members of the Protestant Reformed Church. As long as true religion continued to increase, and to interest and bless mankind, so long would the rites and denominations of its followers be found to vary. A Catholic Conformity was no longer possible. But that was a circumstance which could only be formidable to intolerance and oppression. A truly enlightened and Christian policy knew how to reconcile all sects and interests with the public good. It would contemplate them not as isolated and useless fragments, to be trampled on or rejected at pleasure, but as essential parts of one great and important whole—as the several but connecting links of the same chain—as the various, though concordant voices, that swell the grand choir of religious gratitude and joy. With respect to the arguments of the hon. member for Oxford, he (Mr. Peter) repeated, that the time for them was gone by. They might have had their weight in the reigns of Elizabeth or James 1st; they were wholly out of place and season in a Reformed House of Commons of the 19th century. He meant nothing disrespectful towards the hon. Gentleman, whose high honour and integrity he had long held in the sincerest esteem; but judging from his arguments, he should say, that he had not been sufficiently observant of the age and of its signs. In the language of an enlightened philosopher and historian, once a Member of that House, he (Mr. Peter) would say, that the hon. Gentleman, as well as many of those whom he so faithfully represented, reposed too much on their early creed. They had neglected the progress of the human mind since its adoption. Even now that it had burst forth into action, they seemed to regard it as a mere transient madness, worthy only of pity or derision. They mistook it for a mountain torrent which would pass away with the storm that gave it birth. They knew not that it was the stream of human opinion —in omne volubilis œvum—which the accession of every day would swell, and which was destined to sweep into the same oblivion the resistance of learned sophistry and of powerful oppression. As a sincere friend to both the Universities, as a sincere friend to the Established Church, to that Church which, in his conscience, he be- 648 lieved to be the best barrier and defence to fanaticism on the one side, and to irreligion on the other, he gave his cordial support to the second reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Poulter
Having lost all hope that the enlightened sentiments contained in a petition lately presented to that House, on behalf of some of the most distinguished members of the University of Cambridge, will ever become the sentiments of the majority of that University, and despairing still more as to those of the University of Oxford, I think the time has arrived for the interference of the Legislature. There was a time when the exclusive principles of the Universities were less in hostility to the spirit of the age than they now are. When a vast majority of the people were attached to the Established Church, these principles, although objectionable, might find some sort of justification. That state of things has long and utterly ceased to exist. An immense body of Dissenters have grown up, and their just rights can no longer be resisted. I believe the extent of the present dissent has been owing to ourselves—to the want of a better administration and distribution of the property of the Church, and to its not having been properly brought into contact with the new and increasing population of the country. It is now vain to inquire into all the causes of that dissent, which can no longer be treated with neglect or indifference. It has been said, that the admission of Dissenters will destroy the whole system of education and the uniformity of studies. I cannot believe this. I attribute the existence of all difficulty in the case, to deep-rooted though respectable prejudices: whoever has resided at the Universities well knows, that every possible variety of circumstances attends the present situation of students. There are the two great classes of independent and dependent members, of each of these you have various subdivisions; and yet, who ever heard that these widely marked distinctions and separations were inconsistent with the good government of the Universities? While some persons are receiving considerable emoluments, others are put to a very large expense, and both in statu pupillari. You have fellows and students, gentlemen-commoners and commoners, separated in their college-halls, separated in their circumstances, and separated, more or less, in their society. If all this can co-exist with a 649 perfect state of peace and order, why is it that a single exception in the course of studies as applied to one particular class should be destructive of all government? It has been urged, that the admission of Dissenters would involve a violation of the obligations and even the oaths of the teachers of youth. If the Legislature should interfere, a different regulation must be adopted, leaving the obligation to teach certain religious doctrines as it now stands, in reference to the members of the Church, and doing away with such obligation as to Dissenters, and cessante ratione, cessat juramentum. But fears are expressed, that all this will lead to irreligion. Are the dissenters an irreligious body? Can there be the slightest doubt, that if they send their sons to the Universities, they will either become adherents to the Church, or attend places of religious worship according to the doctrines of their own persuasion? But all this will destroy the union of Church and State. I think it will confirm it. Petitions were almost daily presented to this House complaining of the union, and seeking to destroy it. I believe those complaints to be entirely attributable to the grievances which are so unnecessarily connected with that union. The union, taken by itself, I believe to be not only unobjectionable, but absolutely necessary, if there is to be any religion in the country. I am for putting an end to these grievances, for giving the Dissenters a perfect equality in all civil rights, for admitting them to these seats of learning, for following up, in their favour, the principle of general benefits and general advantages, and, by these means, I believe no more will be said against this union of Church and State. It must be admitted, that the Church is supported by its own property. It is true, that its higher preferments are in the gift of the Crown; but I would ask, to whom could their disposition be so properly confided as to that of the Crown, acting under the advice of Ministers, who are bound by a never-ceasing responsibility to the King, the Parliament, and the people. It is well-known that there are certain acts of State partaking of a religious character; I would mention two—the Coronation and marriages of our Sovereigns. By whom, I would ask, should the religious portion of those ceremonies be performed, but by the ministers of some definite Church, and therefore by the ministers 650 of the Church of England? I will mention the very familiar instance of this union in the prayers which are daily read before both Houses of Parliament. Would any law-maker think that those prayers should not be performed by the ministers of that Church? Whatever objections may exist as to the Church, they are not to the ministers, but to the system of administration and distribution. It is strongly urged, that the interference of the Legislature will be a violation of private property. I can never regard these institutions but as public and national institutions, and therefore subject to the control of Parliament. There is, however, considerable plausibility in this argument. This is the fourth great subject on which this argument has been insisted on. It was first urged in support of the exclusive franchise, and in opposition to the Reform Bill. It appeared again in relation to the property of the Church; again, on the subject of municipal Corporations; and now in the defence of the Universities. I believe the constant and familiar contemplation of questions of corporate rights and property, decided entirely on the principles applicable to private individuals, and private rights, have misled the minds of many most conscientious persons. The books of law abound in such cases, all following the ordinary rules of justice, and most properly so. Then it is very plausibly said, "No interference can be permitted, for none has ever taken place in property of this description, without legal redress." But the House should consider who were the parties in those cases with whom these corporate bodies, or their members, have at any time had to contend? The answer is plain—either actual or supposed wrong-doers. In the case which has now arisen, a new and very different party has appeared upon the scene; and that party is no other than the nation itself. True, it certainly is, that these institutions have been hitherto left to themselves; true it is, that the nation has hitherto left them to their own administration and government, accountable only to the ordinary rules of law, as applicable to private rights and private property. But that nation which has hitherto been passive, has at length, after a long series of years, seen the propriety and necessity of looking narrowly into its own institutions, with the view to give them a more enlarged and more national usefulness. All this is diverso intuitu 651 with the subject matter and object of legal adjudications. It is wholly unconnected with any angry feeling, or any imputation upon persons: whatever abuse may have occurred, is willingly regarded as the result of long and inveterate practice, and as involving no personal charge or crime. The nation has a great Constitutional purpose in view, and is bound to pursue and to maintain it. The principle of Reform would be incomplete without it. The institution of the Universities, like many others in Church and State, notwithstanding the resistance of so many of their members, is looking to Parliament with hope and anxiety, expectans novam editionem, auctiorem atque emendatiorem: I believe, that by no other course, could you ever hope to present to the world the glorious spectacle of a truly contented, and truly united people.
§ Mr. Ewart
said, that however much he desired the "novam editionem" referred to by the hon. member for Shaftesbury, he did not expect "auctior et emendatior" from the Universities. It must come from the nation at large, or it would not be obtained at all. The Pope did not exclude Jew or Greek from the University of Bologna. Was it intended that England should continue to be more illiberal than Italy, and were Dissenters still to be excluded from our Colleges? He would ask, whether the present system did not produce, in addition to the surely sufficient evil of exclusion, the evils of hypocrisy and indifference? He might quote the name of Adam Smith, and Gibbon, and other names, which were like household words in the mouth of every man at all acquainted with literature, to show that the exclusive system pursued in the Universities, instead of causing a respect for religion, as the supporters of such a system pretended it would, effected quite the reverse, and generated hypocrisy and indifference to all religion. Of this he felt convinced, and he rather thought that no man of common sense would controvert the proposition, that the proposed change which he hoped they were about to introduce, would bring to the Universities themselves great and considerable advantages. The evils of hypocrisy and indifference, as well as of exclusion, which were the offspring of the present system, would be remedied by the measure introduced by his hon. friend. The adoption of it, besides, would relieve 652 the University authorities from the commission of that which had been well described by Sir George Saville as the greater sin—the sin of the tempter. But the paramount advantage with which it was pregnant, an advantage which one would have hoped the so ostensibly avowed Christian spirit of those who out of doors so violently opposed such a measure would have conciliated their support for it,—was, that it would open to the great body of the population of the country the literary advantages afforded by the Universities. He was ready to admit that our Universities afforded to students an excellent and well-grounded education. But having been himself present at foreign Universities, he must say, that it was his deep conviction, that our Colleges attended too much to the minuter points of learning, and that they did not in the course of education which they prescribed sufficiently dwell upon those subjects calculated to expound and enlarge the human mind. The system which had been pursued in our Universities, at least up to a very recent period, and especially in the University of Oxford, was anything but calculated to foster a generous spirit of independence. It was a narrow—an exclusive system, an aristocratical system, with all its faults and none of its redeeming qualities. He must say, that he had himself witnessed at Oxford,—he did not know whether the unworthy system was still continued,—and he had witnessed with regret, a large and respectable class of persons in different habiliments from the other students, and he had seen those persons obliged to bring in the dishes which were placed upon the tables for the dinners of the Fellows. He was amongst those who would rejoice that their circumstances in life saved them from stooping to such humiliating courses in seeking for the lore of literature, and he trusted that ere long distinctions that really disgraced a seat of learning would be put an end to. At present, the distinctions amongst the students in the Universities were not distinctions arising from differences in learning, talents, or virtue, but distinctions arising from rank and wealth. Could the Universities deny that they taught an immoral principle in thus enforcing an undue respect to wealth and rank, to a rich dunce or a titled fool? Could they free themselves from the charge, that they erected a false standard of morals, when 653 they thus awarded to adventitious circumstances that honour and that respect which merit and virtue should alone command? Surely that which pretended to be a seat of learning, should in truth and reality vindicate to itself the noble title of the Republic of Letters. The poor man's merit there should not be overshadowed by the rich man's wealth, and least of all, in such a place, should the false and narrow-minded system of exclusiveness,—a system abhorrent to the true spirit of literature, meet with encouragement and support. He would state, from his own experience at the University, that so much was the spirit of exclusiveness fostered there then, that the members of different Colleges would not speak to each other [a laugh]. Some hon. Members might laugh at that circumstance, but he must say, that it was one which made a deep impression on his mind at the time. The cause of religion would be advanced greatly by the carrying of such a measure as this. He felt great pleasure in voting for it; he hailed it as the commencement of a sound system of education, as the following in the wake of other countries in imparting education generally to the people [hear, hear.] He heard some Gentleman cry "hear, hear," in an ironical tone to that statement. He would ask those Gentlemen, whether at present we promoted education in the same manner that they did in Germany and in the United States of America? Was there any man so uninformed of what was going on, as to deny that we were following, and properly following, in their footsteps? He would refer those who wanted information as to the provision afforded for education in Germany, and more especially in Prussia, to the able Report of M. Cousin on the subject. That Report might wound our vanity, but it should instruct our understanding. While he was sure that few, if any, evils could be anticipated from such a measure as this, he was confident that it would be followed by lasting and substantial good, and it should have his most cordial support.
§ Mr. Edward Buller
was convinced that if the Bill passed it would leave the Colleges as they were, and would enable the Heads to establish such rules as they thought necessary for their internal regulation, and would only remove the tests now taken on admission to Oxford, and 654 in taking degrees at Cambridge. He thought what the Dissenters demanded was consistent with the spirit of the times and with the spirit of the Constitution. There was a time when the Constitution was exclusive, but it had ceased to be so. Brighter prospects had been opened by the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and by passing the great measure of Catholic Emancipation; and when those measures were passed it was declared that all offices of State, and in Corporations throughout the country, should be open to all citizens, without reference to their religious faith or opinions. The Universities were, in point of fact, lay Corporations for purposes of education. It was education that qualified men for office, and enabled them to perform their public duties with advantage to the country and with honour to themselves. Dissenters might now be admitted to office, but the door was still shut to obtaining those qualifications which best enabled them to fill those offices. He admitted, that the test taken at Cambridge was not so objectionable as that imposed at Oxford. A young man generally entered the University at between sixteen and seventeen, and at Oxford he was called upon to declare solemnly that he believed in all the doctrines contained in the Thirty-nine Articles. This appeared to him to be most monstrous. He trusted, that the time had come when they should get rid of all tests in the Universities, and that the only declaration taken would he on entering the University, merely to the effect that the person taking it was anxious and willing to learn, and that he would adhere to the rules of the University. It had been stated that, by passing this Bill, the intentions of the founders of the University would be set at nought; but in his opinion this could not be urged, and especially as regarded the University of Oxford, for it was impossible to say who were the founders of it—whether sincere Christians or latitudinarians—whether founded by the Druids or by Romans in honour of the heathen gods. He would not go back to the time of King Lucius, but he had looked into the statutes of the University framed in the time of Elizabeth, and it was there stated that the University was founded for the advancement of education, and for the promotion of piety. Those, then, who advocated the system of exclusion were bound to prove that it pro- 655 moted learning and piety. He doubted the power and right of the Universities to adopt the exclusive system, but he had not the slightest doubt that the Crown, with the advice of the two Houses of Parliament, had the power to remove all such restrictions. Over all corporations there was some controlling and supervising power, whose province it was to see that everything done was in conformity with the charter and statutes. There had been repeated instances of the interference of the Sovereign in the affairs of the Universities. Queen Elizabeth, James 1st, and Charles 1st had repeatedly interfered. If Queen Elizabeth and the Stuarts had a right to interfere with the Universities, the King, at all times, on the advice of Parliament, possessed the right. That the Universities were lay corporations there was undoubted proof; they were free from diocesan visitation, which would not be the case if they were ecclesiastical corporations, and they had been declared to be lay corporations both by Blackstone and Lord Mansfield. He did not suppose that any one would say, that those educated at the University of Cambridge were inferior in learning or piety to those educated at Oxford; but, if the arguments of the exclusionists were worth anything, this could not be the case, as the restrictions were not near so extensive in the former as in the latter University. At present he was happy to say, that a more liberal feeling existed in Cambridge than formerly, and he knew that the sons of several Dissenting Ministers were Fellows of Colleges there. He was satisfied, that no one would do those Gentlemen the cruel injustice to say that they were not sincere. Before any measure could pass the Senate at Cambridge, it must be approved of by the unanimous voice of the Caput. At Oxford also no rule could be valid unless it was approved of by the Vice-Chancellor, the Protectors and the Heads of Houses. Under these circumstances, he thought that it was impossible to anticipate any danger to the Church from regulations that might be proposed by Dissenters. It had been asked whether the House would consent to secularize the Church, but they were not dealing with the Articles of the Church; but the question merely was, whether many of those who were anxious that their children should have the advantages of being educated in these Universities should be 656 restrained from sending them by restrictions which were of no advantage to the Church? Hon. Gentlemen who defended exclusion did not argue for the principles of Christianity, but merely for those of the Church of England; they did not argue for the broad principles of Christian faith, but for the articles of the Church; not for the Bible, but for the Thirty-nine Articles; not for the Word of God, but the opinions of men. He would ask whether there was more danger to the Church from highly-educated and liberal-minded Dissenters, who differed from the Church, but admitted the advantages of an Establishment, as was the case with his hon. friend (Mr. G. Wood) who had brought forward this Bill, than from low-minded and ignorant zealots, who would keep up all the abuses of the Church? He could not conceive that there was the least danger to the Church in admitting Dissenters to the Universities. The Church had stood long and firmly in seasons of danger, and he believed that it would continue to stand, not in consequence of the agitation of a noble Earl in its behalf, nor in consequence of the clamour of other noble Lords, but from its own internal merits it would continue to be deeply rooted in the affections of the people—as long as it afforded religious instruction without intolerance of opinion. In conclusion, he must say, that he believed he was supporting the best interests of the Church in giving his vote for the second reading of the Bill before the House.
said, that not having had an opportunity to express his opinions on the former discussions on this subject, he was anxious to do so now. He believed, that this was but the commencement of a series of measures which, if not checked in time, must lead to the subversion of the Established Church of this country, and also to the destruction of the other establishments in the country. It was not for the first time that he had heard to-night the arguments that had been advanced in favour of this measure. They were told, as they had been frequently told before, that every establishment should be got rid of, and that afterwards they could consider what might be substituted in their place. This measure, it should be recollected, was urged forward by the great body of the Dissenters throughout the kingdom, who had avowed that they looked for nothing less than the severance of the Church 657 from the State. Their object, in his opinion, was to sequestrate the property of the Church, and to divert it to other purposes not connected with religion. In fact, their manifest object was, to destroy the connexion between the Church and State, and to place the established religion, and all other religions, upon the same footing. He would not enter into the history of the Universities before the Reformation; but this he would say, that for the last two centuries and a half, the Universities were intimately connected and intertwined with the Established Church of this country. In fact, the Universities had been during that time the main supports and defences of the Established Church. His great objection to this Bill was, that it went to destroy the intimate connexion between the Church and the Universities. He would maintain, that if Dissenters were to be admitted to degrees in the Universities and to honours, they would have the power of interfering on every occasion, and ultimately of overturning the connexion between the Established Church and the Universities. If they were to be admitted to degrees, he did not see how they were to be excluded from other University honours. He did not see how they could be excluded from holding the offices of tutors, fellows, and the heads of colleges. He did not see how they could be excluded from the government of the Universities. It was asserted, that this measure proceeded on the principle laid down in the Catholic Relief Bill. Now, he had been for twenty-five years an bumble supporter of Catholic emancipation; but he would venture to say, that the Catholic Relief Bill, for which he had most cordially voted, contained no such principle as that Dissenters should be admitted to the Universities. Indeed, he would appeal to the Bill itself to show that a special exception had been made in the case of the Universities. The 16th Clause of the Catholic Relief Bill was to the following effect—"Provided, also, and be it enacted, that nothing in this Act contained shall be construed to enable any persons, otherwise than as they are now by law enabled, to hold, enjoy, or exercise any office, place, or dignity of, in, or belonging to, the United Church of England and Ireland, or the Church of Scotland, or any place or office whatever of, in, or belonging to, any of the Ecclesiastical Courts of Judicature of England 658 and Ireland respectively, or any Court of Appeal from or review of the sentences of such Courts, or of, in, or belonging to, the Commissary Court of Edinburgh, or of, in, or belonging to, any cathedral, or collegiate or Ecclesiastical Establishment or foundation, or any office or place whatever of, in, or belonging to, any of the Universities of this realm, or any office or place whatever, and by whatever name the same may be called, of, in, or belonging to, any of the colleges or halls of the said Universities, or the colleges of Eton, Westminster, or Winchester, or any college or school within this realm; or to repeal, abrogate, or in any manner to interfere with any local statute, ordinance, or rule, which is or shall be established by competent authority within any University, college, hall, or school, by which Roman Catholics shall be prevented from being admitted thereto, or from residing or taking degrees therein." Were they then to be told, that they were acting contrary to the spirit of that Act in opposing a Bill which went to repeal one of its chief provisions. He ventured to say, that no Bill which had ever been introduced, affording concessions to the Roman Catholic population of this country, or any measure of concession to them ever contemplated, did not contain similar provisions to those which he had read to the House. Connected inseparably as the Universities were with the Established Church, they afforded, as at present constituted, its firmest support. The supporters of the measures of Catholic concession could not now be called upon to defend the principle upon which the concession was argued; but he must remind the House on the present occasion, that it was then said, by the supporters of emancipation, that they would throw open all civil offices of State, but not offices in any degree connected with the Church. It had then been held out to the great body of the members of the Church of England, that the Universities were retained unaffected as the securities for the Church with which concession was accompanied, and on the promise of the maintenance of these securities the churchmen of this country were called upon to waive their opposition to the measures to which he had alluded. The Legislature was now called upon to violate that to which its faith had been pledged not five years ago. ["No, no!"] He repeated, notwithstanding that expression 659 of dissent, that it had been stated most distinctly to the people of this country, that the Universities, as constituted, were a security to the Church of England, and these securities had been retained in that solemn manner as to create a doubt whether future Parliaments would consider them as things not to be interfered with unless on the most evident necessity. The House was now called upon to interfere, and he would ask upon what arguments? It was true, that it had been said, that all exclusion was an evil; but he would reply, was it not necessary, if this country were to maintain an established religion, that there should be seminaries set apart for instruction and education in the principles of the Church of England, and in the inseparable articles of faith to be enforced by all who became members of that institution? It had been said, that in former times, the atheist, the heretic, and every denomination of sect could be admitted, and several instances of individuals of high attainments, literary and otherwise, had been enumerated. Amongst these were mentioned the names of Gibbon and Adam Smith. He apprehended, that the latter was never a member of an English University; and with respect to Gibbon, he must observe, that though on his entrance he had conformed to the Established Church, he afterwards most certainly attached himself to the views of the Church of Rome. Of him, however, it should not be forgotten that a poet of this country had said—Through every religion in Europe he run,And ended at last in believing in none.It should also be remembered, that the mere act of subscription on entrance into the English Universities did not imply that the persons signing the declaration were masters of the subject matter to which that declaration related; it was a mere declaration of the adhesion of the party to the Church of England. Such a form was no more than the expression of a child who in repeating the creed was not held to imply, that it had made itself master of all the arguments by which Christianity was defended and maintained. He was ready to admit, that instead of an oath administered on matriculation to youths, as in former times of twelve or thirteen years of age, he should be satisfied with a simple declaration, that the party was a member of the Church of England. But such an admission for the purposes of 660 education presented a very different case from that of the admission to the degree of master of arts, which would constitute the party a member of the governing body of the University in convocation, by whom the rules of discipline and education were instituted and made known. If Dissenters were to be admitted to this situation, no person could know whether the tutor to whom he might send his son for education was a Dissenter, or held and maintained the religious opinions of the Church Establishment. Such would be the result of the plan contemplated by the Bill now under the consideration of the House. Amongst all the reforms of which he had to rejoice, one of the best was the remedy for the want of education to the Dissenting portion of the community, and he should regret, that Parliament, after the 250 years that the Universities had been left to regulate themselves, should now, for the first time, begin to interfere, as was now contemplated by this measure, with the statutes of the University institutions themselves. He denied, that this House was more competent to estimate and judge of scholastic education than the Universities, who had so long and so ably regulated these important institutions of the State under their Government; and he must say, that he would prefer the retention of that control by the English Universities, rather than submit it to the regulation by enactment of that House. He preferred the statutes passed by the University of Oxford to any that by possibility could emanate from the Legislature. He did not think, that the House was as competent to weigh or to judge of the alteration such as was proposed as a public body engaged in the instruction and education of the youth of the country. It had been said by an hon. Member, that the example of the University of Bologna, under the Government of the Pope, ought to be emulated. Notwithstanding this proposition, he was quite willing to make the comparison between the talent which had emanated from Oxford and Cambridge with that sent forth to the world by any other University. The Universities of this country had constantly produced men qualified to fill any situation with advantage to the public service and the State, while at the same time religion had been preserved in a manner unequalled in any other country. 661 Was it just and fitting, then, for the Legislature to be now called upon to try a novel experiment? The Legislature was also called upon to look for an example to the United States of America. He would ask any hon. Member who had ever spoken, with those who came from that country to compare their degree of information with that of a similar class in this country. For himself, he could say, that he had possessed and taken advantage of the opportunity of conversing with many well-informed Americans; but though they were all ready to boast of their own national institutions, he had never met one who did not confess the inequality between the education and acquirements of his own countrymen as compared with those of this empire. He denied, that the condition of this country would be improved by an imitative alteration in the arrangements of education. Would it be found on investigation, that those educated even in the German states (to which allusion had also been made) were superior either in the arts, literature, general knowledge, or science, to the talents this land with her system of education had produced? Would it be contended, that the public situations and professions in the German States were better filled or possessed brighter ornaments than those of this country? Without meaning to arrogate to England too much, he hesitated not to state his disbelief, that the American Congress was preferable in any respect to the English House of Commons, or better qualified to judge of all great questions of internal or public policy. To revert to the Bill now before the House, he considered it to be most dangerous and objectionable in itself, but doubly so when, in consequence of the measures with which it was contemplated to be accompanied, other measures were also anticipated; but this was, as he conceived, the stepping stone, which, if yielded, would prevent the Legislature from stopping short, with any degree of justice, in opening all the institutions, and making Dissenters eligible to place, office, and even to fellowships in the Universities. The Bill now under discussion spoke of private foundations; and he should be glad to know whether it was intended that the royal foundations in Christ Church, Oxford, and Trinity College, Cambridge, should be thrown open in the same manner. On the whole, 662 he found it utterly impossible for him, after the removal of sacramental tests and the concession of the Roman Catholic claims, to bring his mind to consent to the adoption of a measure which went to overthrow that bulwark of the Established Church which was supported and afforded by the English Universities.
Mr. Secretary Rice
was unwilling to occupy the time of the House, but if he were to be altogether silent, it might be construed into a want of respect for the constituency he had the honour to represent, and especially to the individuals who had signed the petition in favour of the claims of the Dissenters, which he lately presented to the House. He took the liberty of expressing a difference of opinion from that which had been expressed by his right hon. friend who had just addressed the House. He differed from the right hon. Gentleman in arguments as well as opinions, though he had no doubt those arguments would be considered irresistible by many hon. Gentlemen on his right hon. friend's side of the House. When the question of Catholic Emancipation was before the House, the same fears were entertained of danger to the Church, and the same objections were made to that measure, and the same fallacies were had recourse to. The right hon. Gentleman had strenuously contended, that the present measure was to be regarded as only the first of a series of attacks on the Church of England by Dissenters, and therefore called on the House to reject it. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the opinions which had been openly expressed by certain Dissenters in favour of a separation of Church and State, and thence argued that all Dissenters entertained the same opinions on this subject. He could assure his right hon. friend and the House, that those doctrines regarding a separation of Church and State were disclaimed by a very large proportion of the Dissenters. But supposing such opinions were entertained to a far greater extent than they were, was he (Mr. Spring Rice) to be on that account driven from this measure, if it were one of justice? He therefore wished at once to cast aside the argument against the measure which the right hon. Gentleman grounded on the fact of a certain portion of the Dissenters being in favour of a separation of Church and State. His right hon. friend must have felt a consciousness that 663 he had undertaken the support of a very bad case, when he was obliged to resort to such an argument. The right hon. Gentleman must admit, that there were many very eminent men—he would not call them the lights of the world—connected with foreign Universities. But he said they could not be compared to the members of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. That was precisely his argument; that was exactly the reasons why he wished those Universities to be thrown open to Dissenters; for if they could render literary men so much service as to confer on them greater advantages than other Universities could, that was surely a reason why the privileges enjoyed at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge should be open to all. The more those institutions were praised the stronger were the reasons for not excluding any class of his Majesty's subjects from their advantage. What right, he would ask, had the Legislature to deprive any particular class of his Majesty's subjects of those privileges by which they could be enabled to qualify themselves for the most honourable situations, and raise themselves to eminence in the literary world. To admit all classes to share those advantages was the way to raise the character of the country as well as that of the Universities themselves. What right had the Universities to say to one man go forth and prosper, and to stamp on the brow of another of equal attainment the mark of incapacity, because he did not profess their religious faith. An hon. Member had said, let the Dissenters, if they were determined to be admitted to Universities, provide Universities for themselves; we (the Church of England) will not in that case interfere with them. This argument and declaration of the hon. Member contrasted strangely with the conduct of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in reference to the very point in question. What was the conduct of those Universities when the London University, chiefly supported by Dissenters, claimed a charter for that institution, which could enable them to confer certain degrees? Why did those Universities step forward and practically disclaim the language of their advocates in that House, by the opposition which they got up to the granting a charter to the London University? What was the language which the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge held, 664 in effect, to Dissenters on this subject? Why, it was precisely this: "We refuse to admit you among ourselves, and we will not allow you to have a University of your own." He (Mr. Spring Rice) could easily understand those who took either side; he could understand those who said, "We will give Dissenters leave to have a University of their own, but we will not admit them to ours;" or he could understand those who said, "We will admit Dissenters to our Universities, but we will not consent to their having one to themselves." But it was perfectly incomprehensible to him, how any person could be opposed to the claims of Dissenters in both cases. Taking the double ground against. Dissenters was not only unreasonable, but it was illiberal and unjust. Reference had been made by an hon. Member to the case of the University of Cambridge, as more liberal in its regulations, in contradistinction from that of Oxford; but the same arguments which proved the liberal regulations to be good in one place would apply with equal force to the other. In Cambridge the sons of Dissenters were admitted in the same way, and, as students, stood on the same footing, as the sons of members of the Church. Now, he would ask as no inconvenience had been known to result, in the one case, what ground was there to apprehend any danger or inconvenience in the case of the University of Oxford? And how, in the face of this experience, could hon. Members oppose the present measure? After allowing students to acquire all the information which the University could communicate—after they had merited the highest honours which it could confer, the University told them, "You shall not receive those honours, simply because you are Dissenters." For a young man to be thus told when he had finished his studies, that however great his acquirements, however eminent his talents, and however exemplary his conduct, he shall be deprived of the distinction which he had merited, merely because he is a Dissenter, must be mortifying in the extreme. Dissenters ought either to be admitted to all the honours of the Universities or they ought to be excluded altogether. He did not conceive the possibility of the Church being injured or endangered by the association of Dissenters with her members in the Universities. His right hon. friend had ask- 665 ed him for a Parliamentary precedent of interference with any of the privileges of the Universities. He would quote one. In the case of Trinity College, Dublin, the Legislature interfered in the very same manner as it was now asked to interfere. Having made a concession to the Roman Catholics in 1793, it followed as a necessary consequence, in the opinion of the Legislature of that day, that the restrictions imposed by Trinity College on the admission of students to that University should be removed. It had left the professorships, and the whole discipline of the College, exactly in the state in which it formerly was. The admission of Roman Catholics to the College at Dublin, had not made it less a Protestant institution than it was previous to 1793. If the hon. member for the University of Dublin were present, he might ask that hon. Member whether he was disposed to believe, that the orthodox character of the University of Dublin, either in respect to its corporate capacity, or in regard to the zeal of its professors in their anxiety for maintaining the doctrine and discipline of the Established Church, had been at all narrowed by the alteration? Similar remarks held good with respect to the Scotch Universities. They had admitted Dissenters on the same terms and conditions as members of the Established Church of that part of the kingdom; yet the inhabitants of North Britain were not less sensible to the benefits resulting from religious instruction, or less desirous to maintain their established religion, than they were previous to their granting this privilege to the Dissenters. On what principle then, could they turn round and say, this Bill is pregnant with evil? With respect to the University of Cambridge, instead of creating evil by the introduction of this Bill, the House would avert a danger—he alluded to the feelings of enmity with which the institution must be regarded by the Dissenters. If there be danger to be apprehended, did it not arise from admitting individuals as students, and then depriving them of the rewards and honours to which members of the Church of England could lay claim? Let him for one moment recur to the University of Dublin, and see whether the concessions which were made by that institution had not given satisfaction to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and whether it had diminished the protection to which 666 the Established Church was entitled. The right hon. member for the University of Cambridge would probably attempt a reply to this part of his argument, and he could anticipate some portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He would say, that an hon. and learned Member, not now in his place, gave notice of a Motion for a future day on this very subject. Would the right hon. Gentleman say, that every notice on the Order Book was an argument for any particular measure to which it might apply? If that were the case, he would be easily enabled to provide himself with arguments on either side of the various questions which came under the consideration of the House. In order to show the right hon. Gentleman that the Roman Catholics did not aspire to any participation in the endowments of the Established Church, he would refer to the evidence of the hon. and learned member for the City of Dublin, when examined before a Committee of that House, in the year 1825. The evidence to which he alluded was in reply to a question—"Do you not think that after Catholic Emancipation was carried, the Roman Catholics of Ireland would claim admission to the fellowships and scholarships of Trinity College, Dublin?" The answer was—"By no means. There are endowments established for the support of persons educated for the Established Church and we have no more right to claim a participation in them, than we have to claim a right to the property of the country which is now enjoyed by individuals of the Protestant faith." That was the evidence given by a very important authority on this subject, and it was supported by facts since 1793 up to the present time. He might say, without fear of contradiction, that there had been no indisposition on the part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland to petition against those grievances which they had really been affected by, but the House had never received a single petition from them to be admitted to a share of the endowments of the Established Church. He did not think, that any one in the House believed that the people of Ireland had not petitioned against every real grievance of which they had to complain; but he was not aware of a single petition having been presented, complaining of the non-admission of Roman Catholics to the fellowships and scholarships of Trinity College. 667 He wished to state, that the principle in this Bill which he was disposed to support, was the principle recommended by the petition which he had the honour of presenting to this House. The arguments that he then advanced all related to the degrees granted at the Universities, and had no relation whatever to the endowments of the Colleges. All that was asked was, the right of the Dissenters to take degrees at each of the Universities, from which privilege they were at present excluded. Having referred to that petition he was bound in justice to admit, that a counter-petition had been presented, signed by a much larger number of persons? but the feeling which had been excited on this subject was of the same description as that which seemed to have influenced his right hon. friend who spoke last. The opposition to this Bill arose mainly and principally from a great cry that had been raised, that this was one of a series of measures intended to overthrow the Church Establishment. [Hear! Hear!] He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) by his cheers, admitted the truth of what he was stating, but his cheering was not so much founded on the enactments of the Bill, as on the notion that other measures were about to be introduced to which he should feel it his duty to object. Not only had a great deal of excitement been created on this subject, but circumstances had occurred with respect to the petition he had the honour to present, which he regretted should have taken place. He was sorry to find that an individual of the highest literary attainments, and the most enlightened views, who was an honour to the University of which he was a member should, in consequence of openly expressing his opinions on this subject, have been removed from the situation which he filled in that University. It was not for him to impute improper motives to individuals; but he must say, that this was a course of proceeding which must necessarily give much pain to every liberal-minded man, as being a new mode of carrying on the war of opinion. It was a course of proceeding wholly unsuited to the period in which we lived. His right hon. friend had stated, that he regretted persons should be called on to subscribe the Articles of the Church, from which they entirely dissented; and his right hon. friend wished that some more plain and more simple de- 668 claration should be substituted for the one now in use. On his right hon. friend's own principle, this was a question involving the conscience of the individual, and he would leave it in the hands of the convocation of the Universities, which up to this period had never adopted the views of the right hon. Gentleman. When it was stated, that the House had no right to interfere with the Statutes of the Universities; he did not admit the force of the argument. Not many days ago one of those very Statutes had been wholly set aside in the circumstances attending the election of Dr. King to the vacant Presidentship of Winchester College. Surely, then, if these Statutes were to be set aside for the benefit of an individual, it was not to be asserted, that Parliament had no power or right to question or interfere with these Statutes when a great general principle was at stake. In the system of religious education at the Universities, undoubtedly very great improvements had taken place within the last fifteen or twenty years; and no one could view the mode in which religious instruction was there given and received, and the regular and decorous attendance at the University churches, without being at once convinced that a deep-rooted religious feeling pervaded the whole University, not only in the breasts of the heads of the colleges, the doctors and other elders of the place, but in those of the young men. That such worthy and pious sentiments should be so universally entertained no one more rejoiced at than himself; but he was very far from thinking this a fact which ought to militate against the admission of Dissenters to those Universities. On the contrary, it appeared to him, that the feeling being so deeply rooted, was in no danger of being shaken by the presence of a few Dissenters. The non-existence of such danger being shown, there could not remain a shadow of ground for opposing the entrance of the Dissenters to the advantages of those great institutions as seats of learning. The main point, therefore, would be to show, that the safety of the tenets of the Church of England would not be compromised by the admission of the Dissenters to the Universities. And that this safety would not be hazarded, had been the declared opinion of sixty-three of the first men in the University of Cambridge, as expressed in the petition he had had the 669 honour to present. The Dissenters asked no more than what had been granted, without the slightest injury to either Church or State, to the Roman Catholics; they asked for nothing but their civil liberty; they desired to derive the same advantages, in point of education, from these great seats of learning, which the rest of their countrymen were entitled to. He entirely agreed with the hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, that, in the upper classes, as in the lower, the dangers of separate education were very evident; and it appeared to him, that if the people were estranged from each other on every point merely on account of the difference in their religious sentiments, that the Dissenters would be left no option but that of withdrawing themselves into circles and establishments of every kind wholly formed on dissentient principles, and separating them on all points from the rest of their fellow-citizens. This was a result which, he trusted, he should never witness; he hoped he should never see any set of men contending for an unmerited superiority, or another set of men struggling under equally undeserved inferiority, on the grounds of religious differences. What he desired was, that all those who sought education should be placed on an equal footing, whether agreeing with, or dissenting from, the Established Church. So far from thinking, that the safety of the Church would be compromised by the admission of the latter to the Universities, it appeared to him, on the contrary, that its security would be so much the more guaranteed, for it was consistent with the best mode of reasoning to calculate that, at least, the tacit friendship and good-will of those Dissenters would be secured by their being allowed to participate in the educational advantages of these Universities. Surely it would be much more just and politic to imbue them with such a friendly feeling, than to provoke their unappeasable and powerful hostility by any longer refusing to admit them to those privileges. Nor was it the individual resentment only of the Dissenters so refused, which was to be apprehended; many of them, in all probability, would, in after-life, become active and stirring leaders among their sects; and it was not to be supposed, but that the anger they felt at a degrading rejection would be generally diffused among all those who listened to their 670 instruction. He thanked the House for the attention with which they had honoured him; he would not have detained them so long, but from his deep feeling that, on so important a question, it became every man to express his sentiments. He would only add, that, by the vote which he should give on this Motion, he should not consider himself bound to any subsequent measure; he supported this Bill, and this Bill only. His vote on any future measure on the subject would be entirely regulated by his opinion as to the intrinsic merits of that particular measure.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that he had great satisfaction in following his right hon. friend, because, like him, he was most anxious that the question should be discussed with the absence of all heat and animosity of feeling, and because he knew, that he and his right hon. friend had the same object in view, although he felt it impossible to concur with him in the means by which his right hon. friend sought to attain it. His right hon. friend and himself were, in many respects, placed in a similar situation. They both belonged to the same University; they had both sons at that University; so that they were both deeply interested, as well by their former recollections as by their immediate interests, in its well-being; and they were, therefore, naturally desirous to see the subject discussed with the temper and the calmness which befitted its important merits. Indeed the question was one so much more connected with religious considerations than with those of political expediency, that he should be most sorry to see any feeling of party excited or introduced into the proceedings of the House, which might, by a remote possibility, add to the heat which unfortunately prevailed elsewhere. But it was impossible that he could subscribe to the arguments of his right hon. friend, or avoid stating the utter fallacy of the grounds on which his right hon. friend supported the Bill. Proceeding, as his right hon. friend had done, upon the basis of the Bill upon the Table, he should attempt to show, that its effect upon the religion of the University must be such as ought to induce the House to give it a negative. His right hon. friend said, that the opponents of the Bill wished to put the civil interest of Dissenters out of view, and called upon those who were connected with the University of Cambridge, in particular, to consider what must 671 be the effect upon the minds of young Dissenters after having been admitted to study within its walls, and to distinguish themselves by their acquirements, to be then precluded from its degrees? In reply, he would ask his right hon friend that would be the feelings of the same parties, after having been admitted to degrees, when they found themselves excluded from the situations of profit and of honour in the University which were open to all members of the Church of England, though, perhaps, of inferior attainments and talents? If the exclusion from the degree was a burthen, how much greater a burthen would it be deemed when, having been admitted to that, and having thereby proved their fitness in acquirements, they should be excluded from the offices of emolument and honour? The last clause of the Bill distinctly excluded Dissenters from all such offices, or rather, perhaps, he should say, deferred their enjoyment of them until another opportunity—when they should have gained this step, and be enabled to come to the House with what, he would contend, would be a much better-founded complaint than any they could now make. He was anxious that Dissenters should be admitted to all civil privileges, but making such distinctions as were necessary to the safety of those important interests which were, he would not say opposed to the Dissenters, but which were indispensable to the maintenance of religion itself, in which Dissenters were as strongly interested, and as conscientiously so, as Churchmen. But his right hon. friend told them, that it was already the practice to admit them at Cambridge as Dissenters, and that, therefore, no harm could arise from giving them degrees. His right hon. friend was wholly unjustified in that statement. He forgot to make the distinction that the Dissenter was now admitted, not as a Dissenter, but as any other man supposed to be willing to conform to the doctrines of the Church; and it was not for those who admitted him to know otherwise until they called upon him to subscribe the declaration necessary to receiving a degree. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill was aware of this, and had so framed it as to repeal every Statute of the University which might operate to prevent the effect it contemplated. He asserted, that the last clause of the Bill specially enacted the repeal of all orders, 672 decrees, laws, or grace of any college or hall which should, in any degree, obstruct or qualify the foregoing enactments? And what were those enactments? Why, that all persons, of whatever religion, should be at liberty to matriculate and take degrees. Did it not then put an end at once to the necessity of attendance on religious worship, and to the religious instruction which was now a part of the system of the Universities? It was argued by hon. Gentlemen only the other night that all this was unnecessary, and ought to be put an end to; and in this spirit it was, that the hon. Gentleman introduced his repealing clause. Why, then, he said, that this fact materially altered the present state of things as to the terms on which a Dissenter would be admitted, and that which might be a safe admission when the student was supposed to conform to the tenets of the Church might be very unsafe when it was understood, that he was admitted of right as a Dissenter. His right hon. friend had next asked what danger would there be in admitting Dissenters at the English Universities when they had been admitted to take degrees in Dublin without producing any evil? He knew that this was done at Dublin; but what distinction was there between the degree conferred at Dublin and at our Universities? Did the degree at Dublin confer a power of government in the University? No. It gave no more power of that description than was possessed by an Under Graduate. His right hon. friend knew that as well as he did, and upon that point the whole question turned. If they admitted the Dissenter to degrees at Cambridge by the rules of the University he would acquire an influence over the education in the seminaries of the Church of England which he ought not to have. And when his right hon. friend adduced the case of the admissions to Dublin it was not quite fair in him to leave out all notice of this distinction. His right hon. friend had also asked what fear there was that if the Dissenter got the right of admission to degrees he would wish to go farther. In answer to this, he referred the House to what had recently passed upon the subject of the Repeal of the Union, when an hon. Member declared, that he did not consider himself bound now by what he said nine years ago in order to obtain Roman Catholic Emancipation. He thought, if the 673 Legislature were to have no other security, therefore, than the declaration of the Dissenters that they would be satisfied with this concession, it would be resting some of the best interests of the country upon a poor foundation. It must be remembered, too, that Dissenters admitted to degrees in our Universities would not only have to share in superintending the education of the laity, but also of those who were to succeed to the ministry of the Church. This would be the necessary effect of the removal of the tests, and such a state of things must be followed by the exclusion of religious instruction altogether. He would say this upon the authority of men of all opinions, who had distinctly laid it down, in language not to be misunderstood or perverted, that all institutions for education which had admitted persons of all creeds, had found it necessary to abandon all religious instruction and all religious observance whatever. He held in his hand a document, the author of which was no less a person than the present Lord Chancellor of England—at least to him public opinion had freely attributed it, and that opinion had never been contradicted—being the Report of the Committee of the London University. This document stated in the most direct terms the opinion of that noble and learned person, that having admitted all persons, without distinction of creed, it was necessary to come to the resolution of abandoning altogether all religious instruction. [The right hon. Gentleman then read the Resolutions of the Committee from the last Annual Report.] He certainly concurred in the sentiments of that noble and learned person, that they could only have religious instruction where the students were all of one religious persuasion, or where they were all alike indifferent to religion; and it was because he was not prepared to take our Universities out of the former class, and reduce them to the other, of perfect indifference to all religion, that he must strenuously oppose this Bill. The simple question, then, which they now had to decide through this Bill was, were they prepared so to change the character of these ancient institutions as entirely to discontinue all religious instruction in their system of education? He believed that there was a period in the history of this country when the bare enunciation of such a proposition would have called forth 674 universal reprobation. He trusted that time was not yet past. He did not believe that many of the supporters of the Bill desired such a state of things to be established. He could not but hope that, however, some classes of Dissenters might not approve of the form of instruction adopted at the Universities upon religious grounds, yet, if they found the general opinion of the highest authorities concurring in the belief that their admission would lead to an indifference to all religion, and terminate in infidelity, they would not desire to press their claims upon the House. But they had been told, upon a former occasion, that there was at present in reality no religious instruction at our Universities. The hon. Gentleman who told them that, must have placed great reliance upon the credulity or on the ignorance of the House. There was one fact obvious to all, which directly contradicted such an assertion. Every man knew, that from the Universities were sent out at an early period of life a numerous body of young men who at once took the charge of parishes, and whose fitness for the important duties so imposed upon them was so well known as to be past doubt or question. How did they become so qualified? They came fresh from the Universities, where they had been constantly occupied in their scientific and literary studies, and where the contention for rewards and distinctions of successful study kept them close to such pursuits up to the latest period of their residence. If there was, in reality, no religious instruction in our Universities, where did those young men become qualified to enter upon their sacred duties and to discharge them as they did—where did they imbibe those high feelings of religious zeal and devotion of heart and mind which he would venture to say distinguished the present clergy as much as any of their predecessors. Why, it had been said, that these qualifications had not been gained at the Universities, because no man was compelled to attend the lectures of the Professor of Divinity, and therefore that no religious instruction was given by the University. Why, so it might be said, and with equal truth, that no man was compelled to attend the Professor of Greek or the Professor of Mathematics. The attendance upon all these lectures was voluntary; nor were they intended to convey instruction in the elementary branches either of literature, 675 or science, or religion. When the student, under the direction of his tutor, had qualified himself in the elements of the Greek language or of mathematics, he then went to the higher Professor to apply those elements, and to be instructed in their application. So, after having been instructed in the general duties of his religion, the student went to the Divinity Professor, to be instructed in the higher branches of theology, and to render himself fit for the higher duties of a Churchman, and, if such was his destination, for the duties of the Ministry. In the University to which he belonged, religion was taught in the same manner as every other branch of instruction. It was true, that a student was not taken through the whole Scriptures, or every distinct doctrine of the Church, at the public lectures; but the Professor took, with respect to religion, one of the Gospels or some one essential doctrine; as with respect to Greek was taken one of the plays of the Greek poets, or a book of the Greek historians; and the knowledge of the student in that was considered as a test of his general proficiency. But he never heard, that because the Professors of Greek and Mathematics only took one such subject for their lectures that, therefore, they neglected to instruct the youth of our Universities in Greek and Mathematics. Neither was there any foundation for the charge, that their religious instruction was neglected. No; as in the other case, one subject was selected for their examination, from their acquaintance with which it was easy to ascertain the general proficiency which the individual had made. He would not trouble the House by going into the details of all the University examinations, because they were published in a compendious form, and were open to the House or to any one else for inspection; but any one who consulted them would there see, that there was no peculiar doctrine of the Church of England distinguishing her from the various sects which did not, at some period or other, form part of the examination of the individual seeking a degree. But in respect to the religious education supplied by the Universities, there was one regulation which gave an advantage over all others in his estimation, and that was the daily attendance at divine worship. It had been very much the fashion to undervalue this part of University discipline. Upon that he 676 differed with many whose general opinions he respected. He believed, that whatever might be the outward appearances, if for no other reason, the continual recurrence of those periods during which the thoughts of men were abstracted from the ordinary occupations of the place, were beneficial in every respect. Not, perhaps, that they might be always even properly employed at the moment, but he believed they would, in the long run, be generally so occupied at those periods as that the practice must ultimately operate the greatest good. There might be, as he knew, and no doubt there were, unhappy individuals who appeared to participate in these advantages, and yet who reaped no benefit from them. But the question they had to decide was, whether or not these regulations were not calculated, and did not, in fact, operate beneficially in recalling to our minds the ultimate ends and objects of all study, and of all human pursuits, in the midst of scenes but too likely to abstract them from such considerations. But, even supposing this Bill to exclude the teaching of true religion, was that the only evil they were to anticipate from it? Where an abstinence of religious instruction prevailed, he wanted to know where was to be the check against the introduction into the University, as they had been introduced elsewhere, of opinions and views inculcating in the minds of young men principles subversive of all religion, and ending in infidelity. That appeared to him to be the necessary consequence of such a system. It tended to raise men in the conviction of their own powers and resources, and to destroy that spirit of humility which was the first essential required for a true ministry of the Christian religion, as well as that spirit of devotion which he would say was no less necessary in the lay members than in the ministers of the Church themselves. As to the consequences of thus leaving the mind and the passions without the salutary check of religious discipline, he might quote an elegant passage from the writings of a friend of his, although that Gentleman was one of those who had signed the petition in favour of admitting Dissenters to the University. By such a course they were told by the eminent authority to whom he alluded—'We destroy the equilibrium of our moral nature, giving to the baser elements a new and overwhelming energy. We sow the wind and reap 677 the whirlwind. We unchain the powers of darkness, which, in sweeping over the land, will tear up all that is great, and good, and lovely within it; will upset its monuments of piety, and shatter its social fabric into ruin; and, should this hurricane be followed by a calm, it will be the calm of universal desolation.' He firmly believed, that this would be the result of adopting the measure then before the House, because what man could cast his eyes around upon all those Universities in which the principles of this Bill had been adopted and not see that in all, this had been the result? Let them look to Germany. There no religious tests were permitted to impede the admission of any man to degrees and to the highest honours, whether he were Lutheran, Unitarian, or infidel. And what was the melancholy result? If any Gentleman would take the trouble to refer to the works of the Learned Professors filling the highest posts within them they would find them advocating a system called rationalism, which was a denial of all revelation, and in which all the accounts of the Creation and the miracles of the New Testament were pretended to be referred to natural causes, many of which natural causes were so extravagant as to require a much greater stretch of belief than the miracles themselves. It was impossible to read those works without finding in them abundant proof that from the Universities in which no religion was taught, all religion would soon be banished, and something much worse than an exclusive system be introduced in its stead. What was the case in America? They knew, from the most recent descriptions published of that country, that the effect of the system introduced into their Universities, had been, to turn all the young men out Unitarians. This was the uniform representation of all travellers in America, whether belonging to one party or another. In proof of this, he would take an extract from a gentleman who dedicated his book "to the friends of civil and religious liberty throughout Great Britain and Ireland," and in his preface stated, that religion in all its details was an affair between God and the individual only, and that any attempt at human interference, was a violation of the right of conscience, and ranked foremost among the basest of tyrannies. This writer gave the following account of the system from 678 which religious instruction had been banished in America—'At Cambridge, four miles from Boston, is situated a college upon a large and liberal scale; it contains 250 apartments for officers and students. There is a philosophical apparatus, a hall for recitations, and a valuable library, which contains a few and almost the only standard works in the United States. Admission into the college requires a previous knowledge of mathematics, Latin, and Greek. All students have equal rights; each class has peculiar instructors. There are quarterly and annual public examinations. This college is regarded by the orthodox party as heretical on religious subjects, it being observed as somewhat remarkable, that most of the theological students leave Cambridge disaffected to the doctrine of the Trinity. The advocates of this system, taking the alarm, have established an academy for the education of young men, who must be compelled to learn the doctrine of their fathers, as the effectual means to oppose the Cambridge heresies.' He would ask, was this a state to which the House desired to see the Universities of this country reduced, as had been well asked in the speech of the hon. member for Wiltshire, which had deservedly received so much attention from the House? But, even without going to the experience of foreign countries, where such flaming beacons existed to warn them, could they not draw a lesson from the result of the experiment made at home at the establishment at Daventry, which began with Dr. Dodd-ridge a man eminent for his piety and learning, and ended with Mr. Belsham, who it was well known was distinguished for his rejection of the Trinity. With all this experience before him, both at home and abroad, could he, as a sincere member of the Church, ardently attached, not merely to the Church of England as an institution, but to her essential doctrines, could he do otherwise than implore the House to abstain from depriving the Universities of those advantages which their religious character now conferred? He yet trusted that they would not, merely with a view of giving to a few Dissenters honours and degrees which were to lead to nothing else, proceed to undo that which he believed to be essential and indispensable to the useful education of the youth of the country. Oh, if 679 there were fathers amongst them with families about to be educated, or, still more, if there were any who had just received back from those seats of learning a son imbued with scientific and literary knowledge, and at the same time impressed with that high devotional feeling which could only be derived from religious as well as scholastic instruction, let them reflect when called upon to vote on this Bill, what would have been their feelings, if, instead of the Christian scholar, his child had come back the wretched sceptic or the unblushing infidel. Let him contemplate the absence of that holy influence upon the mind of youth, and think what might have been the ravages of passion within him, and how he might have walked out of the path which had conducted him to honour, if religion had not been implanted within him, to temper the feelings of arrogance and pride which accompanied his success? But they were called upon to make this change, because the existing regulations were a refusal of the liberty of conscience to the Dissenters. But was it to be forgotten that liberty of conscience was the right of the members of the Church of England, as well as of the Dissenters? He contended, that if Dissenters were admitted to the Universities, the consciences of the members of the Church must be outraged. By the Bill as it stood, all education in the Universities must rest in the hands of the Churchmen. What, then, would they ask a Professor to do under the Bill? They called upon him to teach not only a class of men dissenting from the doctrines of his Church, though Protestants, but also those who were not Christians; and they called upon him to perform such duties, and yet believed that they should not offend his conscience! What was the situation of the clergyman under such circumstances? Did the hon. Member who brought in the Bill, recollect the solemn obligation of an ordination oath? In that the clergyman swore not only to instruct his pupils in the true doctrines of the Church, but to drive away and banish every error in those committed to his charge by every means in his power. There was a case recently before the public, which showed pretty clearly how the Dissenters were disposed towards any other class of religionists, than that to which they themselves belonged; he alluded to the case of Lady Hewley's 680 charity, which by her will was not to be extended to any but those who held a particular mode of belief. He believed he was correct, and that the evidence in the case and the judgment upon it bore out his assertion. Lady Hewley was a Dissenter, and she required that every one who partook of the benefits of her charity should be of the same form of faith. The decision in that case was, that the funds derived from this charity, were left for the exclusive use of a particular sect, for their use, the law was careful to preserve them, and could it be said that funds intended solely for the purposes of the Church of England were to be diverted to other channels? If the present Bill should pass, it would be a matter of perfect indifference whether or not there was any religious belief at all in the Universities. His right hon. friend had complained that those who opposed the present Bill were practising the double injustice of excluding the Dissenters from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, while at the same time they refused to the London University, those privileges which would give to that establishment the advantages which Dissenters sought for. He utterly denied that this was the ground of opposition to the London University. There was no objection raised to allowing the London University to pursue what system of education it pleased, nor was there any opposition to granting it a charter. All the petitions that had been presented from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge on the subject, only went to protest against the same privileges being conferred on it that they possessed, of granting degrees of a particular character, and for this objection there were very good reasons. The degree of Master of Arts, which was conferred by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, was directly connected with the Established Church itself. This was evident, from the fact that the teachers of all the grammar schools founded on the principles of the Established Church must, by the specific directions of their founders, be Masters of Art of those Universities. Would it not, then, be an abandonment of the foundations on which those schools were established, to allow a Dissenter to qualify himself by such a degree to become one of their teachers? It was the granting of degrees that marked the distinctive character of religious instruction, and for this he had the authority 681 of Lord Brougham in the observation he had made on a petition that had been presented from one of the Universities on this very subject.
§ Dr. Lushington
here observed, that the right hon. Gentleman was labouring under some mistake, for that the observations of Lord Brougham referred to the first and not to the second petition.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that he believed he only attributed to the noble and learned Lord, the sentiments which he had been understood to express. All that the University desired was, that a difference should be drawn between the principles on which they were founded, and the principles of those who dissented from the Established Church, and that distinction they considered could best be maintained by preserving to them the exclusive privilege of granting such degrees as were essentially connected with the Church Establishment, on which they were founded. He had not as yet heard of any really important grievance under which the Dissenters laboured. No one that night had stated any such grievance that was at all intelligible to him, except indeed that Dissenters were debarred the honour of going forth into the world stamped with a University degree. Now, for his part, he could not see that this was any very great grievance considering that the Dissenters could never arrive at, nor was it pretended that they would wish for, the emoluments that were generally attendant upon those degrees. When he looked at the men who had risen in those Universities, he did not think it could be said that the system of education pursued there was calculated to produce worse statesmen, worse poets, worse philosophers, or worse commanders of our fleets and armies, than any new system that could now be engrafted upon them. When he looked at the great and commanding minds that had emanated from those seats of learning, men embalmed and sanctified in their country's recollection—when he looked upon such men, and thought upon their great deeds and services, he could not believe, that that system of education could be objectionable, which prepared then to confer such benefits on mankind. Would the House, then, he asked, for the sake of a small advantage, supposing that that advantage were really desirable, remove those tests of religious instruction, which had so long preserved to those invaluable institutions, 682 the exclusive and well-earned character of strictly upholding the principles of the Protestant Church? If any of those great men who had been sent forth from those Universities to adorn and defend their country, could look down and see the attempts that were now made to destroy those institutions in which they had imbibed those principles that had been the foundation of their fame—if they could see, that those institutions were without reason or necessity to be hurled to the earth, that those Protestant establishments which had in the worst of times resisted the spoiling hand of despotism and fought the battles of the Constitution to establish the liberties of the people—which had tended more to bring this country to the state of happiness and prosperity in which she had so long flourished, than any other of her institutions, was now driven to the necessity of resisting, almost unaided, new innovations which aimed at their very subversion—if they could see all this, would they not exclaim against the deep ingratitude of those who forgot the benefits that had been conferred on them, and who abandoned the interests of those institutions to which they owed all their greatness? Would they not say, that it was little short of madness, to decree the overthrow of institutions which had resisted the encroachments of tyranny, and with the blessings of religion, had secured to us the blessings of civil and religious freedom?
said, that he did not rise so much for the purpose of encountering the arguments that had been advanced by the right hon. Gentleman on the other side, as to state to the House, in very brief terms, his view of the question as it then stood. When his right hon. friend who had succeeded him as Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, shortly before Easter, presented to the House the petition which had been intrusted to him by certain members of the University of Cambridge—a petition which was certainly couched in as moderate language as it possibly could be—he (Mr. Stanley) was glad to take the opportunity of concurring in the principle which was then laid down—namely, the expediency of introducing, as far as it could be done with safety to the interests of the Established Church, all Protestant Dissenters whatever, as well as those professing the Catholic religion, to a partici- 683 pation in the civil privileges and benefits of the two national Universities. He would not deny, or conceal from the House, that circumstances which he would presently state, had since occurred, which had in some degree altered the opinion which he entertained at first. He should not be dealing fairly with the House, nor with his right hon. friend, if he were not to state to the House that impression. He felt it his duty to make that avowal; but when he stated what had been the effect of those circumstances upon him, he did not mean to say, that they were such as to induce him to shrink from the assertion of the principles to which he had alluded. This he had maintained, and this he was prepared to maintain; but he was bound to say, that the tone which had been held in the Legislature, the pretensions which had been put forward on the part of the Dissenters, both in and out of that House, the ultimate intentions which had been openly avowed by many of that party, were of such a nature as not only to excuse, but necessarily to demand the attention of the Established Church, and to justify its looking with jealousy to measures brought forward for the purpose of promoting the views of the Dissenters. Though he highly esteemed the motives which had induced the hon. member for Frome (he thought it was) to make the statement that the same circumstances to which he (Mr. Stanley) had referred, had made so strong an impression upon his mind as to induce him to withdraw his support of the principle of the measure—though, he repeated, he highly esteemed his motives, he himself could not go that length. He was still inclined to support the principle which the petition, emanating from the body of gentlemen connected with the University of Cambridge, set forth, and which he had thought would have been embodied in the present Bill, after the temperate speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had succeeded him in the Colonial Department. To the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman urged in support of that principle, he could have had little to add, and he therefore merely concurred in the general view which he took of the question. If, in voting for the principle of this Bill, he conceived, with the right hon. member for Cambridge, that he was voting on the question whether they should interfere with the established religion, or whether 684 they should make religious instruction a matter of indifference, he should certainly deprecate the Bill as much as he then joined in supporting its principle as he understood it to be brought before the House. But when he said, that he supported the principle of the Bill, he was not prepared to support its clauses. He had not thought proper to speak till this period of the discussion, because he was anxious that the hon. member for South Lancashire (Mr. Wood) should have preceded him, and because he was in hopes that the hon. Member would have proposed to expunge some parts of the Bill. He must say, that he was endeavouring to state the views which inclined him to support that principle which was contained in the Cambridge petition, and which he was in hopes the hon. Gentleman would have adopted as the principle of his Bill. The principle of the Bill was not that which had received the support of the town of Cambridge, for the Bill interfered with, and did away with, the existing statutes, and broke through the rules of the colleges and halls. If they sanctioned this interference, then, he said, away would go the whole fabric of the Universities. He held the question to be of the highest political expediency in what manner religious instruction was given at the Universities, which were inaccessible to a large proportion of the people, and who must necessarily derive their knowledge from the pastors who were educated at the Universities. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had said, that this was a question whether they would do away or not with that religious instruction. He did not look on the question in that light; but whether they should seduce the Dissenters to send their sons to the Universities, where they could see and participate in the liberal education of the gentry of the country, without interfering in any way with the system of moral and Christian instruction. If they could, by the removal of the tests of admission as they at present existed, prevail upon the Dissenters to overlook what was objectionable in the Universities, by adopting a mild course of concession, they would confer a great benefit, not only on the Dissenters, but on those attached to the Church of England—not only on the ministers of either doctrine, but on the whole community. They would soften the religious animosities 685 which had prevailed between the two parties—bring into one common education, and that not an irreligious education, the various classes of Dissenters, and thereby cause the Churchman and Dissenter, by early association, to form those habits of friendship which would prevent them from breaking out, in after-life, into political or theological asperities. The right hon. Gentleman said, that he felt it to be impossible to give this common education without excluding religion. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman, and the hon. member for Oxford, found their arguments upon the Dissenters' establishments at Daventry and at Hackney. Those establishments were entirely theological; they were for the exclusive instruction of persons who were designed to be ministers of their respective persuasions. Such being the case, it was by no means a matter of difficulty to see beforehand, that the result of the experiment would be, as it had turned out, the unsettling of the minds of the students, before whom were set the conflicting opinions which had for ages distracted the world. It would have been, indeed, surprising if there had been any other result. With regard to the national Universities, they could not be fairly called schools of theology. Divinity was so far from being the exclusive study, that the Universities were only in a very small degree schools of theology. Did he hear any hon. Gentleman say, that such was not the case? He did not mean to deny that there was theological lectures; but he must observe, that the attendance on those lectures was not compulsory. He knew, that students were at liberty to attend the Divinity professor or not. The fearful consequences which had been predicted, and the parallel which had been drawn, were not, therefore, justifiable. The right hon. Gentleman had said, in objecting to the principle, that he felt it his duty to oppose the Bill; because, if they agreed to it, they must prepare to make further concessions. This might be, in certain cases, a fair argument; but it ought not to be indiscriminately used. These establishments carried within themselves the seeds of improvement and of public benefit. It was the part of a wise and prudent statesman to resist the introduction of any change in the Constitution which might have the effect of leading to an injurious result. But if it was 686 said, that they were bound on all occasions, to resist any change, or any redress of a just or reasonable complaint, merely on the ground that a redress of other complaints might be called for, then there must be an absolute denial of all justice and of all rights which it might be fair to demand. He could not forget the words of the right hon. member for Tamworth, in introducing that memorable measure, the Catholic Relief Bill. "When demands, founded on justice and on right (said the right hon. Baronet), are so pressed upon you as to render it impossible for you longer to resist them, you are bound to give way gracefully, and at once, to the strong feeling of justice which actuates the great body of the community; and let me tell you, that, by so giving way, you will conciliate the Protestant mind of the country." The right hon. member for Cambridge had, however said, that if the Legislature went so far, it must go further; for no line could be drawn, supposing the principle of this demand were agreed to. But there was a line—the line of those who instructed, and those who were to be instructed. It did not follow, because they admitted a Dissenter to be instructed in the Universities, that they were therefore to allow him to instruct the sons of Churchmen in doctrines repugnant to their feelings. But he must fairly say, that whilst he was ready to admit the Dissenters to the full benefit of a University education—to the full benefit of the civil privileges which might attend and accompany the attainment of a University degree—he would sedulously guard those institutions from the admission of Dissenters as part of the governing body of the University. "I do hold (continued the right hon. Gentleman) that there is between these two as broad a line of distinction in principle as it is possible for the imagination to conceive. Further, it is a line we see drawn in the actual practice of two of the Universities. Trinity College, Dublin, is indiscriminately open to Protestants and Catholics, as far as regards the distinction conferred by degrees, but not as regards the government of that institution, which is in the hands of Protestants alone. In Cambridge, again, although we are told, that if Dissenters were admitted to the Universities, there would be an end of all discipline, of all religious instruction, do we find that the admission of Dissenters 687 to study in that University produces any of the bad effects which it is said would result from their admission? Do they not go through the whole of the undergraduates' studies as a matter of course? Do they refuse to conform to the discipline, or to shrink from compliance with the rules and regulations of the respective Colleges into which they are admitted? Not at all; but at the very moment when, as my right hon. friend observed, the honours of a degree appear waiting to crown his exertions, and send him with distinction in an honourable profession into the world—at that very moment the University interposes, and says, "You must sign the Thirty-nine Articles, or go without the reward you have so well deserved." There is no objection raised on the score of the religious instruction of the University, not having been received; and, therefore, the plain and simple question for the House to consider is, whether you will require this test to be taken immediately before receiving the degree, or having received it, on the party presenting himself as a candidate for University honours. The practice of the University of Oxford is widely different from the practice of Cambridge; and being a member of that University, most glad should I be if it would conform itself to the practice of Cambridge. I say so, Sir, because I feel I cannot go along with any of those ingenious glosses and comments which have been, in various quarters, made upon what is, or ought to be, a solemn act—the subscription of the Thirty-nine Articles. I cannot put upon it that gloss which says, that it is a mere matter of form, signifying only that you are willing to receive the instruction which may be given you in the University. The substitute proposed in the Bill, and the only one necessary—for when my hon. friend talks about taking securities for a man's moral character, he proposes that which it would be very difficult to accomplish—is, that the party entering the University shall engage to conform to its discipline and institutions. When we matriculate at Oxford, we swear to observe the statutes of the University. Several of them are as absurd as they can be; two of them are, I believe, that we shall not play at marbles in the high street, or trundle a hoop round the quadrangle of Christ Church; but we swear to observe them, or 688 to submit to such penalties as may be imposed upon us for this violation. But this is a very different kind of thing from signing a solemn declaration of religious faith. This surely ought not to be looked upon as a mere form. If it means anything, it means something too solemn to be trifled with. If it means nothing, then I say do away with it as a test. But, if you require the test for anything, it is that you may be sure the party bonâ fide belongs to the Established Church. ["Hear," from Mr. Shaw.] The hon. member for Dublin University cheers that observation; and I grant to him that it may be proper to have a test to guard against religious instruction being given, except that in conformity to the tenets of the Church of England, with which I do not deny that the Universities are, and ought to be, connected; but I hold it to be unnecessary, and if unnecessary, mischievous, to impose that test as a bar to the admission of persons otherwise willing to receive your instruction, and submit themselves to the existing discipline and regulations of the University. I ought to apologise to the House for having entered into this question at length; but I wished to deal with the question plainly and fairly. I hope the House will do me the justice to believe, that I would not, knowingly or willingly, support any measure injurious to the Protestant Establishment. I think, at all events, that I may ask thus much of the House. If I support the principle of this Bill, it is because I feel convinced in my conscience, that so far from being injurious, it must be beneficial to the Church. But I cannot ultimately support this Bill, unless some of its provisions be changed, and other provisions not now existing in the Bill be introduced into it. In the first place, I would not consent to the retention of that clause in the Bill against which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has turned his whole argument, and which I believe my hon. friend intends to withdraw—I mean that which interferes with the regulations of the different Colleges. My object in supporting the principle of the Bill, is to remove the test which now impedes the course of the dissenting student; but I do not wish to interfere with the future statutes of the Universities, provided they do not impose this test. I cannot admit, and I hope my hon. friend does not contend, that it should be in the power of 689 Dissenters to claim, that the statutes should be void, because they may, in some manner, appear to obstruct the privileges given them by this Bill. But I should not be content unless a provision is inserted in the Bill, that no degree should enable any person to enjoy any privileges or right to make him a member of the governing body, or give him privileges in the Universities without the subscription of such test as may be required, which test the Universities should be entitled to frame. I know not whether the House will agree with me, but I think the principle I wish to establish is plain and obvious; I would give the Dissenters the benefit of instruction, but take away the possibility of evil consequences resulting to the Universities, by depriving the Dissenters of all management and control in them. But there is another point adverted to by the right hon. Gentleman, the member for the University of Cambridge, which related to an incidental consequence of obtaining the degree of Master of Arts. It involves a difficulty which I hope my hon. friend will be able to grapple with; but out of which I do not at present very clearly see a road of escape. I speak of the right acquired by becoming A.M. of being teacher in certain schools, the implied conditions in the foundation of which are, that they should be members of the Church. I think such schools should come under the same rules that would make us shrink from meddling with the private foundations of Colleges. If the intention of a founder be, that the master of the school he founds should be a member of the Church of England, and he conceived, that he secured that object by providing that he should have taken the degree of A.M. at one of the Universities, we should not deal justly by his intentions, unless, in extending degrees to Dissenters, we took care to prevent his wishes being evaded. With the explanation I have now given, I can candidly and conscientiously support the second reading of this Bill; and I think, that in the progress of the Bill through the Committee such alterations may be made in it, as will render it conformable to the views I conscientiously entertain. I feel it my duty, also, to state that, unless such amendments be made, I shall, however reluctantly, feel myself compelled to vote against the third reading of the measure.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, that the experience of the last six years clearly proved, that nothing but the total destruction of the Established Church would satisfy those who were opposed to her in religion and interests; and, in the progress of the events that had passed in that time, it was scarcely to be expected, that the Universities would be suffered to escape the destroying hand that now moved with what was called the spirit of the age. He would not say, that sentiments hostile to the Established Church were held in that House, but he knew that, out of that House, the Dissenters spoke from the feelings and principles by which all history proved them to be actuated—a deadly hatred of the Established Church. They were the same root and branch now that they were in former times; and although they were not so classical as to cry out, Delenda est Carthago, they meant "Down with it, down with it, to the ground." Even, if that were not asserted in so many words, there could be no doubt of the fact, that the resolutions of the Dissenters breathed the bitterest hostility to the Established Church; and that because they saw, that the Church was the weakest part of the State. What was the course pursued in 1640? They first began with the Church, then with the Aristocracy, and then with the Monarchy itself; and there was every reason to fear as much from the encroachments of the Dissenters in the present day as from their ancestors two centuries ago. An hon. Member had quoted his own experience in Oxford, and had said, that the regulations of that University were not in the spirit of the age. He did not know where the "spirit of the age" was to be sought for. One noble Lord talked of it, and another noble Lord talked of the "march of mind;" but he must say, that these, as they were now interpreted, must lead to the ruin of the Established Church. He did not deny the right of Parliament to interfere in matters of this sort, but he did deny the right of Government to destroy existing interests, unless it could be shown, that in law and in equity, those interests were incompatible with the general interests of the community. An hon. Member had asserted the right of the Sovereign to interfere in the Universities, as distinct from the right of Parliament. He would admit, that the King had a right to exercise his visitorial power, but they had enough of the exer- 691 cise of that sort of power in the time of James 2nd. The right hon. member for Cambridge had said, that Parliament was bound to give the Dissenters the means of intellectual improvement, by throwing open the doors of the two Universities to them. If the right hon. Gentleman's argument were pushed to its full extent, it would establish a principle which he was sure the right hon. Gentleman never contemplated,—namely, that the State was bound to educate all the King's subjects. As to the argument drawn from the University of Dublin, that was fully answered by his hon. friend (Mr. Shaw) the member for that University. It was not necessary for him to go further upon the point, save to make one observation, which was, that residence was not required in the University of Dublin, while in those of England residence was required. It was quite impossible there could be anything like real and efficient religious instruction, if persons of every religious persuasion were admitted to the University. There was, so far as he recollected, no instance of such an experiment having been tried, except in the case of the Northampton Institution, afterwards moved to Daventry. In that academy, Dr. Doddridge attempted the plan of imparting instruction to the pupils without the inculcation of any particular religion. The attempt, however, completely failed. It had been said, that it failed because it was confined to the education of the ministers of religion. This was not the case, for Dr. Doddridge received into his academy young gentlemen of fortune not at all intended for the ministry. There were great mistakes as to the course of religious education in Oxford, and the time employed upon it. The fact was, that one-third of the time was dedicated there to theological studies. There were lectures on two days in the week which were exclusively confined to religious instruction. The system, however, was not one merely of lectures, for religious education connected itself, both in public and private, with the whole course of instruction. Mr. Maberly, who had published a valuable work, stated, that the students read the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in Greek, together with Paley's Evidences, the Horœ Paulinœ, and Butler's Analogy. The last year was devoted to the Thirty-nine Articles. How was it possible, that such a course of study as 692 this could be effectually or usefully pursued with young men of totally different religious opinions? This was not the case merely in one or two Colleges, but throughout the whole of the University, with perhaps the exception of only one College that was peculiarly circumstanced. No eminence, however great, in general literature, would entitle a man to take a degree at the Oxford University, unless he was qualified to pass an examination in theological subjects. That system would be destroyed, if Parliament consented to pass the 'present Bill. [Cry of "No."] The hon. member for Wiltshire (Mr. Methuen) said "No;" but he maintained, that the destruction of the present system of education must infallibly follow the passing of the present measure into law. If Dissenters were admitted, it was impossible that any course of religious instruction could be persisted in. He recollected, that at the time the London University was founded, on the principle of admitting all persons, whatever their religious opinions might be, the late Mr. Wilberforce suggested the propriety of making the students read Paley's Evidences of Christianity. The reply he received was, "You do not consider our Jews." Mr. Wilberforce then proposed Paley's Natural Theology, and the answer was, "You do not consider our infidels." This proved the impossibility of establishing any system of religious education at all, in institutions into which persons professing different religious opinions were admitted. He believed, that if the present Bill passed, the Universities, in which at present order and harmony prevailed, would be converted into an arena for religious strife and contention.—Rudis indigestaque moles.—Quia corpore in unoFrigida pugnabant calidis, humentia siccis, Mollia duris.The effect of passing such an Act as that now proposed, must be to poison the fountains from which Christian education and Christian knowledge must flow through the land. It should be recollected, that English Universities were very different from foreign Universities. There was no institution of the kind in the world which approached at all to a similarity with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and even these were very different now from what they were a century back. The great difference was this, that in the Eng- 693 lish Universities the students were resident; it was a domestic education. This was not the case in Germany, in Scotland, or in Ireland. This domestic character was the great pervading excellence of the English Universities. There was a union every morning of the young men, as of children in domestic life, for the purposes not only of secular but also of religious instruction. Each College was in itself a University, and the lecture of the Tutor stood in the place of the public lecture in other Universities. It had been said, that a College might be established in each of the Universities exclusively for Dissenters, and that in this way the difficulties complained of might be got rid of. This was not a new proposition. It was suggested before in the time of James 2nd, and Lord Ailesbury went upon his knees in vain to prevail upon the King to concur in it. The objection to it was, that a College thus instituted would necessarily participate in the government of the University, and as the members of it would naturally have strong inducements to activity and to the furtherance of their own particular religious interests, it might be productive of much inconvenience and hostile feeling, and interfere most injuriously with the good government of the whole University, so far even as to endanger the existence of the Established Religion. The Universities were at all times looked upon as meant for the support of the Established Church of the country, whatever that Church might be, or whatever its doctrines. They were looked upon in this light, and employed for this purpose, even in the year of the great Rebellion. What had the Church of England done to forfeit this source of protection and support? As to the endowments of the Colleges in the Universities, he believed even the Catholics could set up but very little if any claim to their funds, but the Dissenters not to a single shilling of them. What right, then, had the Parliament to interfere with them or their endowments? It was said, indeed, that they interfered 300 hundred years ago. Yes, but it was not till the Church at that period reformed itself. Let Parliament content itself with following the Church in reformation; let the Church first assent to the changes now proposed, and then he would admit the validity of the argument. He well knew that this doctrine was now unpopular 694 with many. He saw some Gentlemen opposite to him who were prepared to support the Motion even though they received their education at the Universities. He would put it to them how they could reconcile this to their conscience, when, as members of the Universities, they must have taken a solemn oath to uphold the University? He called upon the House, and particularly upon those hon. Members, to listen to the oaths which they took when they were admitted into the Universities. He would quote the Oath of Matriculation at Cambridge, which the Members on the opposite Bench had taken. The words were these:—"Hujus academiæ statum, honorem et dignitatem tuebor, quoad vivam, meoque suffragio et consilio, rogatus et non rogatus, defendam. Ita me Deus adjuvet et sancta Dei Evangelia." The words of the Oath on taking a degree went even further, and bound the party to maintain not only the honour and dignity of the University,—which he might contend he did, though he admitted Dissenters,—but even the statutes, ordinances, and customs, which he could not deceive himself in supposing that the Bill upheld. The words addressed by the Vice-Chancellor to the party on such occasions were these: "Jurabis quòd statuta nostra, ordinationes, et consuetudines approbatas observabis." He asked those hon. Members who had had the advantage of a University education, to consider the nature of that Oath. If there were any faith in man—any use in religious instruction, he asked hon. Members to pause before they voted in favour of the measure. He assured the noble Lord at the head of his Majesty's Government, that he did not quote these oaths in any other spirit than that in which he would wish to be addressed, if on any occasion he was incurring the risk of violating any such engagement. If the argument in favour of the Bill were good for anything, then it amounted to this, that not only Dissenters, but persons of all denominations—people in fact of no religion whatever—would be admissible to the Universities, and be enabled to take degrees. That would destroy the whole character of those institutions. Almost every college was founded in honorem Dei. William of Wykeham uses the phrase "ut Christus evangelitur." And even St. John's College, which was founded in the reign of Philip and Mary, though named 695 after St. John, was founded to the glory of God. Religion was connected with every endowment. The charters referred to the supply of the Church from the Universities: the Act of 1570, which incorporated them, and confirmed all their ancient privileges, made the end of the incorporation to be "the maintenance of good and godly literature, and the virtuous education of youth. Did that imply an abandonment of religion in the system of education? Was it possible for the Colleges to answer this end without religious instruction? Was it possible to give religious instruction to persons of all creeds together? There was a bright period when the councils of the Sovereign were swayed by men anxious to protect and preserve inviolate these Institutions. The council of Queen Elizabeth, in 1593, said:—"Whereas the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are the nurseries to bring up youth in the knowledge and fear of God, in all manner of good learning and virtuous education, whereby after they may serve their Prince and country in divers callings, for which respect a special care is to be had of those two Universities, that all means may be used to further the bringing up of youth that are bestowed there, in all good learning, civil education, and honest manners, whereby the State and Common wealth may receive hereafter great good." It was the great object of our statesmen till the present time, that the Universities, always connected with religion—always connected with the Church established—might provide a due supply of persons qualified to serve God in Church and State. Another set of men, with another set of principles had unfortunately arisen. Their attack on the Universities would, if successful, either render them scenes of godless indifference, or of bitter disputation. The quarter from which these attacks upon the Universities and upon the Established Religion now proceeded surprised him. But a very short time back it could not be expected that the Dissenters would have embarked so soon in such a crusade. When it was proposed to relieve the Dissenters from the Test Act, no reference was then made to the connection of Church and State as a grievance; nothing was said about Church-rates, or the admission of Dissenters to degrees in the Universities. It was only last year that any reference was made to this claim of 696 entering and taking degrees in the Universities. He could not help saying, that this appeared very like ingratitude. The Church of England had invariably protected the Dissenters from their greatest enemies. It had been their guide and guardian, their pillar of fire by night, and their cloud by day, and the present demands were the grateful return. This, as Mr. Burke said, was not conscience, it was ambition. They wanted nothing that they could in reason and justice demand; and he would say to them what was said three thousand years ago, "Ye take too much upon you." The Dissenters were now acting like those men who, having laid unholy hands upon the ark of God, were told, "You take too much upon you." Such being his view of the Bill, he fully concurred in the Amendment moved by his hon. Colleague that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
expected, that much of the opposition to this Bill would be founded on an erroneous principle, and so it had turned out, as he knew from having, during the last twenty-five years, taken some small share in the proceedings of the University of Cambridge. He felt confident, that his right hon. friend opposite would not be able to say that in his time—and he and his right hon. friend had been contemporaneous—there had been any degree of religious instruction or examination in the University to which a Dissenter could have objected from scruples of conscience. He (Mr. Pryme) said that there was none. The examination at Cambridge consisted of papers written or printed. Members might laugh; but he thought that a man who had spent the whole of his time in the University was entitled to speak on this question. He therefore said, that if in those written or printed papers there was a theological question which was contrary to the feelings and prejudices of any party examined, that person might pass it by, and proceed to give his answer to the next. There was nothing in the institutions of the Universities which could prevent Dissenters of all classes from belonging to them. In Cambridge they did belong to that University; they went through all the studies of the place; but they parted from their fellow-students, who belonged to the Established Church, on coming to the examination for degrees. It was said this was not a grievance. Perhaps Gentlemen 697 were not all of them aware of the excitement which prevailed just before the degrees were taken. In extent of interest, it was scarcely less than that which takes place at elections for Members of Parliament. The Dissenter was excluded at the time when hope was most strong—when the feelings of the future were most vivid. He finds himself in the midst of a race in which he cannot strive for victory—in a situation in which he is marked out from all the companions of his youth and studies. He had not experienced, for he was a churchman—but he could easily imagine what feelings must prevail in the breast of such an individual, when he was obliged to turn from the contest in which his contemporaries were engaging. He would only make one observation more, and then he would leave the House to the question for which it was so anxious, and on which its decision would be so valuable. It had been asked what would be the opinion of the venerable framers of our Revolution, if they were placed in the situation in which we now were. Now, to that question he would reply, that we were not to judge of this age by the sentiments of our ancestors 100 years ago; we ought rather to consider what they would do with our knowledge and with our more liberal views. He thought that they would have concurred with us in the propriety of throwing open the institutions of learning to all persons, without regard to what were their conscientious feelings on the subject of religion.
§ Sir Robert Peel
felt bound to say, that no modification which the Bill was likely to receive or could receive, would reconcile him to give his vote in favour of the principle on which it was based. He regretted much that the hon. Member, the author of the Bill, had not attended hitherto to the frequent appeals that had been made to him, and explained to the House what was the real intention of the Bill, as well as what was the construction to be applied to several of its leading provisions. As he understood the Bill, the effect of it was this:—It first recognised, in the preamble the advantages of academic education, and urged the expediency of its extension to all classes of his Majesty's subjects; it then recited that many sincere and conscientious men were excluded from partaking of the benefit thereof by reason of the necessity of subscribing to articles of religious doctrine, or to declar- 698 ations of opinions respecting modes of faith and worship; and then it contained an enactment which gave a positive statutable right to every Dissenter, be he Jew, Infidel, or of no religion at all, to demand his admission to an University, unless immorality or ignorance could be alleged against him. The Bill then went on "And be it further enacted, that no Statute, Law, Ordinance, Decree, or Grace made or passed by any authority whatsoever in any of the said Universities, or in any of the Colleges or Halls within the same, shall in any manner obstruct, limit, or qualify the plain intent and obvious meaning of the foregoing enactments; but such Statute, Law, Ordinance, Decree, or Grace shall be to all intents and purposes void and of no effect." Now, what was the meaning of that clause? Surely the obvious meaning of it was, that Dissenters, without reference to religious tenets, should have the right of entering the University, and that, if any College or Hall should attempt to adhere to an existing Statute, or should attempt to pass a Statute hereafter making attendance at Divine Worship in such College or Hall requisite, that Statute should be of no effect.
§ Mr. George Wood
said, the right hon. Gentleman totally mistook the intention of the clause. It was never contemplated to apply it to any such purpose.
§ Sir Robert Peel
Why I read the very words of the clause. Here was a Gentleman who proposed to deprive the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge of that control over the education of the country which they had exercised so beneficially for a period of more than three hundred years, who undertook to violate every privilege which as Corporations they possessed, and who took upon himself the office of director of education at both the Universities, who drew up a Bill for their regulation which no man of common sense could understand. What, then, he asked, was the true interpretation of the clause? Did the hon. Member, after recognising in the preamble of his Bill the advantage of an academic education, and after urging that all men of every description of religious opinions should be admitted to the benefits of that education—did he mean to say, that if there were Statutes at present in existence in any College or Hall which rendered compulsory, or gave the right of hereafter rendering compulsory, on all 699 students, attendance at Divine Worship, such Statute was to remain in force; and, as a necessary consequence, did he mean to say, that the Dissenter was to be deprived of the benefit of the very first enacting clause in his Bill? Was there to be a right in the Colleges to enjoin Divine Worship or not? The hon. Member, the author of the Bill, said there should be such a right. The Colleges and Halls at the Universities did at present enjoin attendance on Divine Worship. Were they to lose the power to require attendance, or did the hon. Member propose leaving to the Colleges and Halls the right of enforcing existing Statutes, and of making future regulations to the same effect? If the hon. Member said, that, after passing the Bill, the Colleges and Halls were to continue to enjoin and require attendance at Divine Worship, then he contradicted the preamble of his own Bill. Would the hon. Member state what he did mean by the clause which he had already read. If the laws now in existence at the Universities were enforced, or if future Statutes were passed compelling the students to receive the Sacrament or attend the Worship of the Church of England, the intent and meaning of the Bill would be completely defeated. He interpreted the clause to imply, that the right of enjoining Divine Worship must be taken away from the Colleges to which Dissenters succeeded in obtaining admission, and to such a clause he, for one, never could or would give his assent. The subject under discussion was a very wide one; and he would therefore limit his observations to a statement of the reasons why the arguments he had heard had not produced an impression on his mind favourable to the Bill, and why he intended to resist it altogether. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Colonies, in the course of his speech said, that the whole of the objections against the Bill partook of the nature of that clamour which was raised against it in the University of Cambridge, and which proceeded on the assumption, that the present was one of a series of measures aimed at the existence of the Established Church. He did not hesitate to say, he considered it in that light. It was impossible for him to read the declaration which was made on the 9th of this month, and put forward by the delegates of the Dissenters, in which they expressly declared, that, 700 although they did not seek any participation in the estates of the Established Church for the sake of pecuniary emolument, yet they claimed as a right the severance of the Church and State, and the appropriation of all the property of the Church to secular purposes, it was impossible, he said, for him to read that declaration without having some doubt as to the ultimate designs of the Dissenters, and some fears as to the real objects proposed to be obtained by Bills such as this. He was compelled to recollect, that various other measures of an analogous character were at present before the House. What, he would ask, did the noble Lord intend to do with the Bill for the abolition of Church-rates? The period of the Session was now far advanced. That Bill was not beneficial to the Church; and at the same time proposed a substitute which was not to the liking of the Dissenters. Did the noble Lord intend to persevere in that Bill or not? If he did not mean to convert it into law, it was a Bill which, by condemning the Church-rates, would aggravate the difficulty of their collection, and provide no substitute for them. There was also another measure before the House, relating to the registration of births, marriages, and deaths, which deeply affected the interests of the Established Church. He admitted, that it might be right to give to the Dissenters a separate registration for their own congregations; but it was rather too much to take from the Established Church the registration of the births, marriages, and deaths of its own members. With regard to the appropriation of Church-property, he could not help recollecting that they were at present without any definite knowledge of what were the views on that subject of his Majesty's Ministers. He did not profess to give any opinion of his own on the abstract merits of these different questions; but they appeared to him, one and all of them, to affect the interests of the Church of England. He had, therefore, a right to consider them separately, not upon their own abstract merits, but as forming parts of a whole. He was uncertain what meaning he ought to attach to the 3rd clause of the Bill, after the positive contradiction of its palpable meaning which had been given to it by the hon. Member who had framed it. This, however, he would say, that nothing would be more surprising to the Cambridge petitioners 701 than the answer which had been given by this Bill to their petition. The petitioners called for the restoration of the ancient laws and laudable customs of their University; but he did not think the right of a Jew to be admitted at Christchurch, or of an Unitarian to be admitted at Trinity, was one of those ancient laws and laudable customs. When he read the last part of their petition, which was couched in the following terms:—"Your petitioners disclaim all intention of hereby interfering, directly or indirectly, with the private statutes and regulations of individual colleges, founded, as those colleges are, on specific benefactions, and governed by peculiar laws, of which the respective heads and fellows are the legal and natural guardians;" and when he contrasted it with the 3rd clause, which declared that the statutes of the University were not to limit this Act, he thought that the first feeling of those Gentlemen who were of opinion that the heads and fellows of a college were its legal and natural guardians, would be one of deep regret that they had not postponed their petition for future consideration. His right hon. friend had said, "I have compared the system which prevails at the English Universities with that which prevails in America, in Germany, and in other countries; and though I admit that they have all produced many eminent men, I yet must claim for the Universities of my own country a superiority over them in all the distinctions of literature and science." Now, he would ask his right hon. friend what was the distinguishing mark between the Universities of England and those of every other country? It was religion. It was in vain to deny that position. It had been said, however, in the course of the Debate, that the Universities of England were not theological seminaries, and that they did not limit their instruction to theological subjects. But if these were the only learned bodies in the State which supplied instructions to the ministers of the Church of England,—if 49–50ths of its pastors received their education within their walls,—if there was a wish on the part of the authorities to exclude from the Church all persons save those who had been educated at the Universities, it was in vain to deny, that the Universities were schools of theological learning. They certainly united instruction in polite letters and the affairs of the 702 world with theological learning, and they embraced in one common system of education the future Statesmen of the land, the future Ministers of the Church, and the landed proprietors by whom the patronage of the Church was hereafter to be exercised. They sent forth from their schools such men as the hon. member for Wiltshire (Mr. Herbert), who had repaid the obligations which he owed to the University, not only by the talents which he had that night displayed in its defence, but also by the example which he had set as an English gentleman, of his anxiety to vindicate the cause of religion. If he were told, that a new principle was to be adopted in the Universities, that religious instruction was to be no part of their system, then he would tell them, in return, what would be the consequence. The Dissenters would not have the benefit from their admission into the Universities which was now anticipated. Those institutions would be robbed by their admission of the principle, which was the charm and essence of their existence; and the Dissenters would not obtain those advantages the Bill professed to give them. If religious instruction were discountenanced within them, could they long continue to be the nursing places for a body of pious and well-educated clergymen? Could they be those renowned places for education which were now honoured in every quarter of the globe. With all religions sheltered within their walls, would not the different colleges be soon embittered by dissensions arising out of religious controversy? It had likewise been said, in the course of the debate, that Dissenters had already been admitted to the Universities; and this question had been asked, "What harm had been done by their admission." To that question he would reply by another: "In what numbers have the Dissenters been admitted? Are there now twenty Dissenters in both the Universities? If there were twenty Dissenters in the Universities, he believed that it would turn out that they were not known there as Dissenters. How were they known to be Dissenters? They might be the sons of Dissenters; but you could not call upon them for a declaration of faith, until the time came for their taking their degrees. They conformed to all the discipline of the Colleges; and that led him to ask the hon. member for South Lancashire, whether he intended to insist upon Dissenters. 703 attending Divine Service according to the discipline of their respective Colleges? [Mr. George Wood:—Yes.] "Then I will not (said the right hon. Baronet) offer to the Universities the mockery which you propose. I will not say to the Dissenter, "I will remove from you all distinctions arising out of difference of religion," and then turn round upon him when I have got him to the University and say, "Now I have got you; I will compel you to attend night and morning at the chapel. I will compel you to attend to the theological lectures, which even call in question the religion which you profess." According to the present system, the Dissenter being admitted to the College by connivance, there was nothing to distinguish him from the rest of the students, and there was a hope even that ultimately he might conform to its doctrines; but if the present Bill once passed, that hope was at an end; the Dissenters would be distinguished from the Churchmen, and the difference of opinion manifested among the youth, would only cherish the seeds of permanent dissension. The hon. and learned Member who spoke last told the House, that the Dissenters were refused all honours at the Universities. Now, it might be presumptuous in a man like him, who had not been educated at Cambridge, to set himself up against one, who for twenty-five years, had taken part in its instruction. But he took interest enough in the affairs of the University of Cambridge to know, that in this very year a Dissenter had distinguished himself highly in his examination. The hon. Gentleman might shake his head in doubt, but such most certainly was the fact, as he would find on inquiry. He had heard much of the liberality of the examinations at Cambridge; but such liberality as the hon. Professor had mentioned he had never before heard of. If he was ever to be submitted to public examination, he hoped that the learned Professor opposite might be his examiner. He did not, however, see why an examination conducted by a series of papers, printed and written, might not be as stringent as a vivâ voce examination. But if he might be permitted to pass by questions which he did not like, and if he might be permitted to pretend religious scruples whenever he was ignorant of the proper answer to them, he thought that the examination would not be attended with any great difficulty. 704 He was afraid, however, that this mode of examination was not usual. He would ask the hon. Member, was it usual, were the young men at liberty to pass by a question which they could not answer to one which they could? [Mr. Pryme:—Yes.] He would not then pursue that subject any further. He had already said, that the present system afforded an opportunity of attaching the Dissenter to the Universities; but when he was admitted there upon his statutable right, then you would multiply the difficulty of his adhering to your church, without branding his forehead with the title of a recreant to his faith. He would proceed to the observations of the late Secretary for the Colonies, and he was bound to say, that the readiness of that right hon. Gentleman to consent to the second reading of the Bill was a strong inducement to everybody who opposed it to reconsider their opinion. He was likewise bound to say, that the right hon. Gentleman was a true and sincere friend to the Church of England, and to prove that point to the satisfaction of that House, it was not necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to have made the splendid sacrifice which he had recently made on behalf of his principles. He was not, however, satisfied by the observations of the right hon. Gentleman; and even it the Bill were modified as that right hon. Gentleman wished—and at the third reading he was certain that those modifications would be opposed by the Dissenters—he should still be compelled to oppose it. The right hon. Gentleman said, that he would admit the Dissenters to degrees, and not allow them to interfere with the instruction. He thought, that the right hon. Gentleman would find as great difficulty in maintaining that position as he now felt in maintaining the principle laid down in the Bill. He would proceed to notice an observation of the right hon. Gentleman—he could scarcely call it an argument—which had been loudly cheered by the House. The right hon. Gentleman had objected to the subscription of the Thirty-nine Articles by young men on their matriculation at Oxford. Now, there might be great objections to that practice; but that was not the question then before the House. He was not prepared to say, that it was material that the answers, as respected a belief in the Thirty-nine Articles, should be given before admission; 705 and he might observe, that the University of Oxford had the complete power to postpone the period at which those answers should be given, although it might ultimately require them. But, supposing that Oxford were to adopt the practice of Cambridge, and to require only, that the student, on entering, should declare that he was a bonâ fide member of the Church of England, in what respect would that benefit the Dissenter? Could persons who dissented from the Church of England, upon seeking matriculation, deliberately declare that they were bonâ fide members of the Church of England? In the course of the debate, reference had been made to the attendance at college chapel; and it had been said, that that attendance should not be insisted upon as a part of college discipline; but if there were any inconvenience on that score, the University could apply a remedy—it might diminish or change the hours of attendance. After all, the main question was this—shall there continue, as a part of the academical education afforded at the Universities, a necessity on the part of the student to attend the services of the Church, and to apply himself to instruction in religious matters? That was the real question; and all the other points touched upon in the course of the discussion were mere matters of detail, and wholly apart from the great principle involved in the present measure, namely, the continuance of the two Universities on that footing upon which they had rested ever since the Reformation;—the question was, shall that be adhered to, or shall it not? The right hon. Gentleman said, he was willing to admit Dissenters to degrees, and to all the civil advantages which those degrees could confer. Now, suppose that step gained, would not the claims of the Dissenter to further advantages connected with the Universities be quite as good after that concession as before? Might he not lay claim to the same rights, and upon the very same grounds might he not insist, with as much show of reason then as now, upon being admitted to all immunities, not necessarily connected with ecclesiastical offices or preferments? The degree which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to give him would be a degree of inferior value, and, as such, it would prove unacceptable, certainly unsatisfying, and, perhaps, be considered quite as mortifying as his present exclusion. How could 706 they, after that, refuse the further demands of the Dissenting body? Could they say to the Dissenters, "We have granted you this limited privilege, but we will grant nothing further. We have admitted you to take degrees, but you shall still be a separate class. We will allow you to acquire honours, but you shall have no power to control the future destinies or future instruction of the University?" His experience, showed him, that concession of that kind was a slippery ground to stand upon. It would not be, as the right hon. Gentleman had represented, a deprivation of ecclesiastical privileges, but a formation of the Dissenters at the Universities into a separate class, who never would remain contented with the mere empty degree of Master of Arts, but would continue to strive after—nay, peremptorily to demand—a perfect equality in all things not necessarily connected with ecclesiastical affairs. He would put the case of two students intending to enter upon the profession of the law, the one a Dissenter, the other a member of the Church of England; either might have, he would suppose, a lay fellowship, if the religious scruples of one of them had not happened to stand in the way. The Dissenter might stand more in need of such fellowship. He would then put it to the right hon. Gentleman to say, how he could, upon his own principles, refuse the claim of the Dissenter to a collegiate advantage not necessarily connected with ecclesiastical affairs?—by what right could he establish such an invidious distinction on a matter merely of civil benefit and advantage? To his mind it did appear infinitely more rational and consistent to proceed according to the recommendation of the hon. member for Leeds, and grant to the Dissenters a full and equal participation in all the advantages of the Universities not necessarily of an ecclesiastical or spiritual character. As he before observed, it would be necessary for him to condense into as narrow a compass as he could the few observations which, at that late hour of the night, he should feel himself warranted in submitting to the House. He hoped he had succeeded in showing, that there was nothing in the arguments of the last speaker, or in those of the right hon. member for Cambridge, to warrant any change in the impression left on his mind with respect to the present question, or that what they had said was, in any respect, sufficient to induce 707 him to withdraw his opposition. But he could not, upon an occasion like that, avoid taking an extended view of the question which they had to decide. They had but a short time since removed all the civil disabilities under which the Dissenters laboured by the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts; they had given to the Roman Catholics a complete measure of relief; they had effected a vast change in the constitution of Parliament; and the question at length resolved itself into this—were they or were they not to maintain within the United Kingdom an established religion? In all the various discussions which they had, as well upon the measure of Roman Catholic Relief, as upon the repeal of the Acts affecting Dissenters, the whole of the questions, in each instance, were confined to civil and political privileges. There never was the slightest intimation that the removal of those disabilities would lead to further demands, and lay a ground for ulterior claims; their warmest advocates, Mr. Fox and Mr. Grattan, never held the opinion that, when the disabilities of the Roman Catholics were removed, and the grievances of the Dissenters redressed, the State should, in consequence thereof, be precluded from maintaining an established religion. Such an opinion, such a wish, had never been expressed by any of the great men who, at various periods, had come forward as the zealous advocates of a repeal of the civil disabilities under which some portion of their fellow-subjects formerly laboured; and he contended, not on the narrow ground, that, as a member of the Church, he was, therefore, anxious to sustain the Church,—not on the sordid and selfish ground that to the present members of the Church should be limited all the advantages of the Church; but he contended, for the common benefit of all classes within this realm, for the benefit of all denominations of Christians, Dissenters as well as members of the Church of England, that there was an inestimable advantage in maintaining the Established Church, protecting us from superstition on the one hand, and from fanaticism on the other—promoting the decent observance of Divine Worship, and securing us a continuance of that tolerant system which, he would venture to say, the Church of England, above all other churches in the world, had most fostered and encouraged. Upon these grounds, he contended, that for the 708 benefit of the community at large, no matter what their form of religious belief, it was absolutely necessary that they should maintain, within this kingdom, the inviolability of the Established Church. He was convinced, that many of those who would otherwise dissent from the measure at present proposed, had been induced to give their support to it from a mistaken belief, that it would not tend to undermine or impair the stability of the Established Church. The right hon. Gentleman, the late Secretary for the Colonies, was one of these. He was as anxious to maintain the inviolability of the Established Church as any man; and the only difference between the right hon. Gentleman and himself was not, that they pursued different objects, but in agreeing as to the best mode of attaining what they pursued in common. If his construction of the Bill were right—if the House meant to send this measure down to both the Universities, overturning their privileges, invading their corporate rights, undertaking, on the part of Parliament the management of that discipline which heretofore had been administered exclusively by the Universities themselves—if it did that, and if his construction of the Bill were correct, they would ruin the Universities as schools of religious instruction, and thereby strike a fatal blow at the integrity of the Established Church. What was meant by the term "Established Church" or "Established Religion?" It was not the stipend attached to the performance of religious duties—it was not the value of the living which a minister of the Church might hold; it was merely that legislative recognition by the State of one particular form of religion which it declared should be the established religion of the country, and which, as the established religion, should have preference before all other forms of religion. But if, instead of affording it that preference, it was said, that the Universities which had the education of its ministers should not have the right to insist upon their students attending either upon Divine Service, or to any course of religious instruction which could interfere with the prejudices of the Dissenters, who might be admitted within these walls;—if this course with respect to the Universities were taken, that was depriving the Established Church of one of the greatest advantages to which, as the disseminator of the doctrines of the 709 recognized religion of the land, it had an undoubted and indisputable claim. Entertaining the views which he had laid before the House, and under the influence of the reasons which he had stated, he must be permitted to say that, if they passed the present Bill—if they discountenanced the Universities as schools of religious instruction—if they entitled Dissenters to enforce their claims by means of a mandamus from a Court of Law—and if they put an end to the connexion subsisting between the Church and the Universities,—they would do an act of infinite prejudice to the former, without achieving any advantage for the Dissenters.
§ Lord Althorp
Whenever the time shall come when it appears to me that the contest which the right hon. Baronet so confidently anticipates has commenced, and it becomes a question whether we are or are not to have an Established Church in this country, the right hon. Baronet will find me as ready as he is to support the Established Church. But I think that I am neither injuring the Established Church, nor weakening the ground on which we shall then stand, by removing any objections which may at present exist to the institutions of the Church of England. Nor do I think, that by supporting this Bill in particular, I shall do anything calculated to injure those establishments. The argument of Gentlemen during the evening with respect to this Bill has been, that it tends to destroy the possibility of a religious education in the Universities. I certainly should be ready to agree with those who oppose the Bill if I thought such would be its result; but I do not perceive that any such consequence would necessarily ensue. I do not think it even probable. I concur with the right hon. member for the University of Cambridge, that members of the Established Church have a right to ask, that there should be a place of public education for their children, and that they should have the benefit of a public education in the principles and doctrines of that Church, and that any attempt on the part of any other class of religionists to interfere with that right would be an act of intolerance; but I do not see how this Bill takes away any part of these advantages. This Bill, as I understand, does not interfere with the internal discipline of the colleges. All that it gives to the Dissenters is the 710 power of taking degrees, and not only to Dissenters, but it gives to all persons the power of taking degrees without subscribing any articles, or declaration, or making any particular profession of faith. But it does not give the power of holding any fellowship or office for instructing the youth of the country in doctrines opposite to those of the Established Church. The right hon. Gentleman has said, that the Bill may interfere with attendance on divine worship. Possibly it may be necessary to introduce some clause to exempt Dissenters from attending the Divine Worship of the Church Establishment. I say possibly, for I do not know that such is the case, and I believe that in the University of Cambridge Dissenters do attend Divine Worship without any hesitation, and absence from it is, therefore, not a necessary consequence of this Bill. But even supposing it were, it does not interfere in the slightest degree with the education of the children of Churchmen in Church of England principles. I do not pretend to any modern knowledge of Cambridge, nor to any at all of Oxford; but when I look back to the period when I was at the University, I cannot say that I derived any advantage from any theological instruction which was given me. I don't say that is the case now. The system may have been changed. That the education at the Universities should be a religious education is in my opinion an object of the greatest importance; and that the Universities should be continued as a school for the education of members of the Established Church is an object of equal importance; and if the Bill interfered with its accomplishment, it should not have my vote. But I do not see anything objectionable in the Bill when slightly altered, for certainly the wording of the clause to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded did strike me to be objectionable. I agree much with my right hon. friend, who spoke from this side of the House, that the wording of that clause goes further than I am inclined to go, and I believe much further than any opinions which I have expressed. The principle of the Bill is, to admit persons to take degrees without subscription of articles or declaration of faith. In voting on the principle, I do not pledge myself further. In the Committee I shall be prepared to move such alterations as shall be necessary to make the Bill 711 accord with my views; and if the Bill should not come out of Committee in a shape consistent with those views, I shall be prepared to give it my opposition on the third reading; but from what my hon. friend has stated, I believe that he will not object to such alterations. If so, I shall be ready to support the Bill.
begged to protest against the doctrine laid down, on two or three heads, by gentlemen who had grounded themselves on the Catholic Relief Bill, and insisted that this measure was required by the Catholics to extend the provisions of that Bill. This, on the part of the Catholics, he entirely disclaimed. Where was the petition in favour of this measure from the Catholics. He would go further, and say that were not that Bill founded on the principle of freedom of conscience, the Catholics would not support it. As far as the Irish Catholics were concerned, they, less than all, wanted it; for in Ireland the Universities were open to them, and they could take the highest degrees in medicine, civil, or common law. They strictly obeyed all the University rules, except attending chapel; which was, on account of their religion dispensed with. This was not a question on which the cry of "No Popery" could be raised. The cry must be "No Dissenters;" a cry not very likely to meet with much favour in that House. He must confess, that the debate of that night had inspired him. He had but very little respect for any party who would attempt to get back into power upon a cry of "No Dissenters," or "No Popery;" yet a man must be blind, not to see that there was such a party in that House. Here, however, it would not answer. Tom-foolery would not tell there, though, to listen to the speeches they had heard that night, one might almost have fancied that one of the grave doctors of Oxford was suddenly transported thither from the more congenial soil where they had lately figured. Oh, how gloriously consistent were these élite of wisdom! Think of a whiskered hussar, in a doctor's cap and gown, preaching morality. Surely the House must catch new enthusiasm from the vociferous shouts of beardless bigots. He pitied the party who, in the echo of these shouts, aided by ancient drivellers and dreamers of by-gone intolerance, fondly imagined themselves listening to the voice of public opinion. Did 712 they imagine that they could prevail on the public to confound the religion of the Established Church with its wealth, dignities and emoluments? Yet the Dissenters wished to touch none of these—they claimed nothing which could fairly be denied to them. Those who wished to support and maintain the Established Church would do well to concede this demand. He could not conceive on what ground it could be opposed. Indeed it was his most deliberate opinion that the Church was in more danger from her friends than her enemies. Such fanaticism—for interference with the religion of others was fanaticism—was inconsistent with the spirit of the age. The days of sanguinary persecution were gone—fanaticism in its most revolting form was at an end, but the pecuniary fanaticism still remained. The piety which they upheld, the persecution which they inflicted, were the piety and the persecution of the pocket. The sacredness of religion had given place to the sacredness of office, station, wealth, and dignity—these had survived, but survived even, as he believed, only to excite the execration and contempt of every liberal and enlightened mind throughout Europe. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to look with great satisfaction on the prospect of conversions likely to ensue to the Church of England from opening the Universities; in short he wanted to convert them into Church-traps to catch dissenting rats. He would not trespass further on the exhausted patience of the House, but just to refer to some of the attempts recently made, to seduce the Dissenters. He had seen a proclamation headed "Winchilsea and Nottingham." It was a most amusing one. It praised the Dissenters to the skies, as holding the pure doctrines of Christianity, and called on them to join all their influence against infidelity, scepticism, and popery. Tempora mutantur. In looking back to the Parliamentary Debates of 1828, he found a speech headed "Earl of Winchilsea," whether the same Earl whose name he had recently seen figuring in the papers, he knew not. That Earl of Winchilsea, however, remarked of the Dissenters, that he found them all claiming credit for a belief in Christianity, but he would state, and could positively affirm, that some of them were no more entitled to the appellation of Christians than the followers of 713 Mahomet,—indeed, not so much; for whilst the former denied the existence of Christ, the latter believed in it. Yet these were now the pure Christians who were called on to join in a crusade against infidelity, popery, and scepticism; and this was in the 19th century, and sprung from a party who imagined that, by these means, they would gain place and power. But they were not such attempts as the Government had to dread. If they would only stand by the people, they might laugh all such attempts to scorn. He conjured them not to do the work of their enemies, nor attempt to trample on a people who would die sooner than forego the principles of justice.
§ Lord Sandon
said, he should be very sorry to see those who stood by the Church and State following the advice of the hon. and learned member for Dublin. The support of the hon. Member was of very great value to the Government, but he should like to hear what the hon. Member would have to say next year to the noble Chancellor of the Exchequer if that noble Lord should not wish to advance a step further in the way the hon. and learned Member might desire. It seemed, that all the hon. and learned Member's notions about fanaticism had a connection with his pocket. The question before them had other considerations besides the danger of the pocket. It was a question of honour, and one that involved the best interests of the whole country. After this Bill had passed he could not see how next Session they could refuse to interfere with the rights and discipline of private Colleges. When the hon. and learned Member, as a friend of the Church, gave his advice, he could not help saying a few words about that advice and cautioning the House against it.
§ Mr. George Wood
briefly replied. He contended, that there was nothing in the objection of the opponents of the measure which touched the provisions of the Bill, and he felt great satisfaction in saying that nothing had occurred to render him doubtful of its success. It was the right of all classes of the people of this country to enjoy a University education if they desired to avail themselves of it; and he complained, that they could not at present obtain that advantage except by complying with objectionable conditions, which were not necessary for the support of religion or of the Established Church. He did 714 not wish to interfere with the Established Church, but merely desired to establish a principle which would afford satisfaction to a large body of the people, promote harmony and good will, and strengthen the institutions of the country, by uniting all classes in their support.
§ The House then divided on the Motion for the second reading: Ayes 321; Noes 147; Majority 174.
§ The Bill was read a second time.
|List of the NOES.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Gordon, Hon. W.|
|Apsley, Lord||Grimston, Viscount|
|Arbuthnot, Hon. H.||Halcomb, J.|
|Archdall, M.||Halford, H.|
|Ashley, Lord||Halse, J.|
|Ashley, Hon. H. C.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Attwood, M.||Hanmer, Colonel|
|Bankes, W. J.||Harcourt, G. V.|
|Baring, A.||Hardinge, Sir H.|
|Baring, H. B.||Hardy, J.|
|Baring, F. T.||Hawkes, T.|
|Bell, M.||Hay, Sir J.|
|Bethell, R.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Henniker, Lord|
|Bolling, W.||Herbert, Hon. S.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Herries, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Brudenell, Lord||Hill, Sir R.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. W.||Hope, Sir A.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Hope, H. T.|
|Calcraft, J.||Hotham, Lord|
|Campbell, Sir H. P.||Hughes, H. H.|
|Cartwright, W. R.||Ingham, R.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Chandos, Marquess||Irton, S.|
|Chapman, A.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Chetwynd Captain||Kerrison, Sir E.|
|Clive, Viscount||Knatchbull, Sir E.|
|Clive, Hon. R. H.||Lefroy, A.|
|Cole, Viscount||Lewis, Rt. Hon. T. F,|
|Cole, Hon. A.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Conolly, Colonel||Lopes, Sir R.|
|Copeland, Ald.||Lowther, Viscount|
|Corry, Hon. H. L.||Lowther, Hon. Col.|
|Cripps, J.||Lyall, G.|
|Daly, J.||Lygon, Hon. Colonel|
|Dare, R. W. H.||Mandeville, Visct.|
|Duffield, T.||Manners, Lord R.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Marryat, J.|
|Duncombe, W.||Marsland, T.|
|Eastnor, Viscount||Maxwell, J.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Maxwell, H.|
|Fancourt, Major||Meynell, Captain|
|Finch, G.||Miles, W.|
|Foley, E. T.||Miller, W. H.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Mills, J.|
|Forbes, Viscount||Murray, Sir George|
|Forester, Hon. G.||Neale, Sir H.|
|Fox, S. L.||Neeld, J.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Nicholl, J.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Norreys, Lord|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Ossulston, Viscount|
|Gladstone, T.||Palmer, R.|
|Godson, R.||Patten, J. W.|
|Peel, Rt. Hon. Sir R.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Peel, Colonel||Tyrell, C.|
|Penruddocke, J. H.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Perceval, Colonel||Villiers, Viscount|
|Phillipps, C. M.||Vyvyan, Sir R. R.|
|Pigot, R.||Wall, C. B.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Pollock, F.||Welby, G. E.|
|Price, R.||Whitmore, T. C.|
|Rae, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Williams, T. P.|
|Reid, Sir J. R.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Ross, C.||Wood, Colonel|
|Ryle, J.||Wynn, Right Hon. C.|
|Saunderson, R.||Yorke, Captain|
|Sandon, Lord||Young, J.|
|Scarlett, Sir J.|
|Sheppard, T.||Goulburn, Rt. Hn. H.|
|Sinclair, G.||Estcourt, T. G. B.|
|Somerset, Lord G.|
|Stanley, E.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Stormont, Viscount||Balfour, J.|
|Taylor, Rt. Hn. M.A.||Bateson, Sir R.|
|Thompson, Ald.||Darlington, Earl of|
|Townley, R. G.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Trevor, Hon. G. R.||Jones, Captain|
|Tullamore, Lord||Newark, Viscount|