HC Deb 26 March 1834 vol 22 cc674-712

The debate upon this subject was resumed.

Colonel Williams

said, that as this petition was, in fact, a consequence of a communication of correspondence he had had with the University of Cambridge, he might be expected to take some part in the present discussion. As, however, he had a motion on this same subject, and as it had been thought advisable that this motion should be postponed till the 17th of April, and as the hon. member for Lancashire had allowed his (Colonel Williams's) motion to take precedence on that day, he would reserve any observations he had to make on the subject till he brought forward his motion.

Sir Robert Inglis

said:* My right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Stanley), who addressed the House at the close of the discussion yesterday, commenced his speech by an apology, first, for speaking on a question arising upon a petition presented from Cambridge, inasmuch as he was an Oxford man; and, secondly, for speaking at all upon any petition inasmuch as he had often deprecated the practice as inconvenient, if not irregular. If such apology were necessary from my right hon. friend, it is doubly necessary, on both grounds, from me; since I am still more nearly connected with the sister University, from which this petition does not proceed; and since, if any individual had a right to speak on any petition, my right hon. friend might claim it; and, certainly, on much better grounds than I can urge for myself. I am, at the same time, willing to hope, that, as he asked the attention of the House, on the ground, that the subject was one * Printed from a corrected Edition. of a national and imperial character, I may perhaps be indulged in the same manner with such attention, particularly when I can refer to the deep interest which those who have sent me here, must, more than any others, take in the question.

I still feel, indeed, as I have always felt, the inconvenience of discussing any question of general policy on the mere presentation of a petition. It can lead to no practical result, so far at least as legislation is concerned; and, after protracted and often irritating debates, the single conclusion to which the House can come, is, that the petition shall lie on the Table. This is certainly verifying the fumum ex fulgore. Whatever talent may be exhibited in rencontres of this kind, there is, at any rate, the evil, so far as the people are concerned, that our time which, in this House, at least, is not so much our own as theirs, is frittered away in mere debate, ending where we began, without advancing us a step in real business; and, at the utmost, producing only such a technical conclusion as that which I have quoted, utterly disproportionate to the parturiunt montes labour which has led to it.

There is, however, one incidental result arising from such discussions, when no Bill or no Resolution is before us, a result which is very frequent, and very much to be regretted. In the heat of debate, declarations are made by an individual (as, in the present instance, by a leading member of the Government), which mean much, when taken in connexion with the general tone assumed by others on the same side; hut which mean little when examined strictly according to the limitations imposed by the individual himself, or perhaps according to the words of the petition which he supported; and a false impression is thus conveyed, which may raise hopes on the one side, or alarms on the other, alike without foundation.

My right hon. friend, indeed, has said, that there is another and a valuable object to be obtained in this particular debate, namely, that hon. Members may learn to discuss the question, and become thereby prepared (he stated, for his own part, that he was not as yet prepared) to decide it, when it should be more formally and technically brought forward, by the Motion of the hon. and gallant member for Ashton (Colonel Williams). Speeches were thus to be like straws thrown up to show which way the wind may blow.

Whatever may be the evil, however, or the benefit of the practice, the House, at any rate, has now sanctioned it: and has consented to use (for two days hitherto, and probably for the entire of this day) the presentation of a petition as a peg on which speeches might be hung: and, therefore, I will proceed to follow my right hon. friend.

It is true, that no one can tell exactly either what is asked by the Dissenters as a body, if such a body there be, or what the Ministers are prepared to concede to them. If I were to confine myself to what, in legal language, is called the four corners of this petition, I feel certain that I should neither state the case of the Dissenters, nor do justice to those whose interests, on the other side, I am bound more especially to uphold. When I refer to the interests of the University of Oxford, I am aware that they have not been directly attacked in the present discussion; but I am equally aware, that they must follow those of the sister University. Yet here, let me add, that neither has any "interest" distinct from that of the country; and that in maintaining our existing rights we are maintaining the best heritage of the nation.

Taking, then, largely, as the ground of this discussion, the claims of the Dissenters as brought forward by themselves in the other petitions which we have received (because, again I say, that it is paltering with the question to take the present petition as the standard), I find in many of them that they demand, as a right, admission to the "National Establishments of Education," as they describe the Universities; some of them including in the term the public school foundations of England. Now, in the first place, I desire to know, in what sense the word "National" is used, as applied to the Universities of England? Is it meant in the sense of the National Debt? Did the nation found them? did the nation endow them? what has the nation done for them, which can entitle them to the honour (to the punishment, if it involve the interference of Parliament in their discipline), of being described as "national institutions?" Is it really meant, that the Universities were endowed by the nation at any time? [Cries of "Yes," from Mr. O'Connell, and other Members.] I am not to be tempted, Sir, by this cheer from the line of argument which I have pre- scribed to myself: since I feel that it will be more respectful to the House, by saving their time, if I continue the course on which I have entered, and reserve the answer which that cheer provokes till I come to a later period of the consideration of the question. Is it meant, I repeat, that the Universities are endowed by the nation, and are, therefore, at the disposal of the nation, because the King gives 40l. per annum to each of five Professors in the University of Oxford who are called his Professors, and the same to each of five Professors in Cambridge?

Let me here remark, that some other payments, made to other Professors, and appearing in the Estimates before this House, are not donations, but payments in lieu of land belonging to the University of Oxford, and dating from the time of Henry 8th, and in that reign exchanged for payments out of the Exchequer as more convenient to both parties.* Be- *So far as the University of Oxford is concerned, I know that this statement is correct; and I believe it to be so, in reference to the University of Cambridge.

The following payments are made to the University of Oxford:
£. s. d.
For a Preacher 7 19 6
For a Professor of Divinity 11 6 2
For a Professor of Law 35 3 0
For a Professor of Physic 36 1 0
For a Professor of Modern History 371 8 0
For a Professor of Botany 182 18 0
The first payment, for instance, was made by the Abbot of Westminster, and the Prior and Convent of the same, to the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Oxford, under indenture, 20 Henry 7th, as a real charge for ever. It was originally 10l. The fees at the Government Office have reduced it to its actual amount. At the dissolution of the Monasteries, the possessions of the Abbey of Westminster were taken by Henry 8th into his own hands; but this debt he directed the Court of Augmentations to pay for ever; and it became for three centuries a payment out of the revenues of the Crown. Since the late changes in the arrangements of the Civil List (all the consequences of which few foresaw at the time), the House of Commons has been tempted to interfere not only between the Sovereign and his gifts, but between the country and its debts; and the Treasury thought fit to require an account of the exact nature of the original grants, the services rendered for the same, and the remuneration, if any, which the parties receive for those services from other sources; and how far it might be necessary that such payments should now be continued: a conve- sides this, there are some other modern Professorships, and Readerships; but all the salaries came originally from the Civil List, and were never till lately made a part of the Estimates before this House.

With respect to the Regius Professorships, endowed each with 40l. per annum, to which I have referred, it appears to me, that it is more honour to the King so to reward learned men than it is emolument to those learned men to receive such a sum. Of this I am quite sure, taking the name of Lucas as an illustration, that the honour of having a Professorship called after him, a Professorship once filled by Newton, is a greater distinction to Henry Lucas, the founder of the Lucasian Professorship, than any distinction to which, by any other means, he ever attained: in fact, his name, except as so connected, is unknown in history or in science. Is it meant, then, that, on this ground, the ground of 40l. being given to each of five Professors in the University of Oxford, or of any other stipend, which, at any time, the Kings of England have, out of their Civil List, granted to other Professors not bearing their name, that University becomes a national institution, to which, as of right, any subject of this realm may demand to be admitted? if so, I am quite sure, though I speak without any communication with the University, and only from my general knowledge of the feelings there prevalent, that the University would say at once,—"Withdraw the paltry pittance, and leave us to ourselves." Pittance, do I say? they would exclaim, "Withdraw twenty times the amount of these and of all the other stipends in question, rather than suffer our principles and our discipline to be interfered with by this House."

I called it a pittance, Sir, because it is not one-half of what the King grants to the Scotch Universities; a fact not generally remembered. To St. Andrew's, according to the returns on the Table of the House, the hereditary revenue of Scotland pays the sum of 1,010l.; to Aberdeen, 1,397l.; to Glasgow, 560l.; to Edinburgh, 1,819l. Even to the Academy at Belfast, a non- nient precedent for the use of any gentlemen who may have any bonds outstanding against them. I may add, that the payment was suspended during those years (1640–1660) and never but at that period, to which so many other circumstances since 1830 recall our attention. conforming institution, seven times the sum granted to the Regius Professors of the University of Oxford, and considerably more than the whole sum granted, in any shape, to us, is paid, under the annual Estimate, adopted by this House. The sum of 1,500l. occurs every year in the Estimates as granted to this Academy. If, indeed, there be any institution in the three kingdoms which is pre-eminently entitled to the description of "National;" if there be any one, which has been called into existence by Parliament, which has been built and founded by the nation—which is supported by annual grants from this House—it is, I grieve to say it, the Roman Catholic Establishment at Maynooth. It is to that institution that the sum of 8,928l., the largest in this class of the Estimates, is annually voted by this House; and to this more than to any other, does the description of a "National Establishment" belong, if the contributions of national money constitute the title.

Some, indeed, of the Dissenters, modestly, in some of their petitions, limit their claims; and, while they require admittance into the Universities generally, do not insist upon a right to enter every particular college. I take a specimen from a petition lately presented from the Protestant Dissenters in Westgate Chapel, at Bradford, in Yorkshire. They say—'Your petitioners deem themselves seriously injured, in being, as Dissenters, excluded from the benefits, the honours, and the emoluments of the two great Universities; the whole of which (with the exception, perhaps, of one or two colleges at each) they regard as strictly national property; and as, therefore, unjustly closed against a large proportion of his Majesty's loyal subjects.' To the same effect the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) stated yesterday,—"the Dissenters wish to participate in the general institutions of the country to their full extent. If there be any particular college founded for any particular class, they do not wish to enter it.'* I am bound * All the endowments of the Universities are connected with the doctrines of the Church; almost all, with her offices. There are perhaps not thirty in Oxford can be held by lay members of the Church; of the hundred and one studentships of Christ Church, four only remain open to those not intended for Holy Orders. Every college being founded and to add, indeed, that both he, and the hon. member for Boston (Mr. Wilks), on the first day of this Debate, cheered my right hon. friend, the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Spring Rice), when he stated, that the Dissenters would not wish to have the emoluments now connected with the Universities; but this renunciation renders it only the more important, that we should ascertain the meaning of the last hon. Member (Mr. Wilks), when he stated, that "the Dissenters would not conceal, under surreptitious pretences, what they are entitled to demand."

From the whole, I collect, then, that the Dissenters claim, as an absolute right, to be admitted to the Universities generally, and to every college in Oxford and in Cambridge, except one or two in each; all the rest, with such exception, being "national," and at the disposal of the nation. What the precise ground of the exception may be, is no where stated distinctly; though the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) seems to imply, that the reason is, that some one college may have been founded specifically, "for a particular class not being Dissenters;" and, therefore, that he and other Dissenters would not wish to intrude upon it. I ask, then, in the first place, which are these colleges which the Dissenters themselves admit not to be national?—from which they are willing to be excluded?—which they are prepared to leave to our "monopoly?"

Here, let me observe, that, as I read in a very able article in the Standard of last night, there is no monopoly of education at present enjoyed by either of the Universities, or by any college in either: the only monopoly which they exercise is the monopoly of character. Let the dissenting institutions of Hoxton, and Mill Hill, and Homerton, acquire a character as high as that which, by the accumulated labours and successes of centuries has been acquired by the Universities of England, and then the degrees which the Dissenters shall bestow will be equipollent with those bestowed by Oxford and by Cambridge.

But I will never agree to their circulat- appropriated "for one particular class," in Mr. Baines's words (and that class the Church) it is not easy to see what advantage the dissenters, according to the admission here made on their behalf by Mr. Baines, can gain by their present attempts. ing their own coin under the impress of our Universities. When it shall have been rendered of the same value, then, but not till then, it may pass current. Nothing prevents the dissenting academies from bestowing any titular distinctions which they please, always excepting those which the King by his charter, or the Legislature by its Acts, have had the power of bestowing, and have already bestowed, on others. The Dissenters have only to create degrees, with any marks which they may prefer, the current value of which, in the country, shall be equal to the M.A. and the B.A. of the two Universities; and then all which they desire to obtain will be already theirs.

There is hardly any more popular error on subjects of this kind, than that the Universities are monastic bodies, founded in Roman Catholic times, by persons holding the same religious opinions as those of the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell.) The cheer of that hon. Member, when I asked whether the Universities were, at any time, founded or endowed by the nation, I understood, at the time (though I would not be provoked to answer it at the time) to mean, that, whether they were or were not founded by the ancestors of the Dissenters as such, they were, at any rate, founded and endowed by those who were not members of the present Church by law established; but were, in fact, founded by members of the Church of Rome; and that, as the nation had transferred them to the Established Church three centuries ago, the nation might restore them to the Roman Catholics now, or might open them to all creeds.

Let us consider what are the facts. It is very true, that of the eighteen colleges of the University of Oxford, twelve were established before the Reformation, and only six since; but, of the 5,290 names in the books of the colleges at Oxford in January 1834, there were 3,043 belonging to colleges founded before the Reformation; and 2,247 to colleges founded after the Reformation. Here the proportion gets nearer. I will next take the fellowships: and here I find, that, of 317 fellowships existing at this day in the twelve colleges which were founded before the Reformation, 287 were founded before that date, and thirty have been added since: but, of 231 fellowships or studentships founded after the Reforma- tion, the whole, of course, are connected with Protestantism. The proportion thus gets nearer, namely, 287 before the Reformation, and 261 since the Reformation. If to these we add the proportion of studentships and exhibitions, respectively instituted before, and instituted since, the Reformation the aggregate since the Reformation exceeds the aggregate before it. Even of those which were founded before the Reformation not one of them was founded by individuals who held the particular doctrines which now govern the Church of Rome; not one by those who had subscribed the creed of the Council of Trent. They cannot, therefore, be claimed by the Roman Catholics of the present day as exclusively their own. At any rate, they did not hold that precise creed which is the standard of the Church of Rome at the present day.

To return to the amount and proportion of our endowments. Having examined the proportion of Fellowships as connected, before and after the Reformation, with particular colleges, I will now look at the appointments in the Universities as such, in their general and corporate character. I refer to the Professorships. All, with the single exception of the Lady Margaret's Professor, have been founded by Protestants in Protestant times;—so much for the right of the Church of Rome to claim admission into the Universities on the ground that the Professorships were founded by their ancestors: and, on such a ground, the right of the Dissenters is worth precisely so much and no more.

Now, as to the proportion of endowments belonging to colleges in the two Universities as derived to them from Roman Catholic or from Protestant benefactors. From inquiries which I have made, I find, that, at Cambridge, which I select for my argument, because the petition before us proceeds from Cambridge, not one-fourth of the property now belonging to that University, belongs to it in right of any Roman Catholic benefaction. I will take as specimens three of the old colleges. Of the possessions of St. John's College, nine-tenths arise from Protestants; of those of Clare Hall, two-thirds; (here I am speaking from the highest authority) of those of Magdalen College, nineteen-twentieths. Now, as from this, it will appear, that even the Roman Catholics cannot claim the present endowments of the Universities on the ground that they were bestowed by their ancestors, Roman Catholics, as such, it is still more clear, that no such claim can be urged by any other non-members of the Established Church, on the ground that such endowments were bestowed by their ancestors as Dissenters.

The hon. and learned member for Dublin, as well as other hon. Members, have frequently contended (his cheer implied it this day), that, as the Legislature has interfered once, the Legislature has a right to interfere again. But I put it to the House, on the ground of common honour and common honesty, whether that would be a principle adopted by any member in private life? Whether having made a gift to any particular individual, he would reclaim it on any ground, but, above all, on the ground of its having been his own gift? Let hon. Members say, that the gift has been abused; and then I can understand the principle on which the Legislature might be called upon to review its former decision, and to revoke its own grant. I deny, indeed, both facts; either that the endowments were so granted; or, if granted, have been abused. I admit the statement, for the sake of argument only, that the Legislature did transfer the present endowments of the Universities to those bodies; but, admitting the fact, I contend that, unless the two Universities shall be proved (what is not even alleged) to have abused the possession, the Legislature has no right, in honour and in equity, to interfere and withdraw its own gift.

Nothing in history can be more certain than that the Universities never were founded with any view to the education of Dissenters; to the education, in short, of any one, at any time, differing from the Church established at that time. In no instance whatever,—taking the days of the Roman Catholics—taking the Reformation,—taking the time of the great Rebellion,—have the Universities been unconnected with the Established Religion of the country, whatever that form of religion may have been.

In answer to the observations of my right hon. friend, the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Spring Rice), when he introduced this subject in the House on the first day of the Debate, let me tell him, that the year 1616, or any other date in the reign of James 1st, was not the first time when the imposition of subscription was required on the part of those admitted to the Universities. With respect to Oxford, I know that subscription to the Articles has been required on matriculation there, since 1581 at least. The Oath of Supremacy was taken earlier. I believe, that at both Universities, at that time, there were catechetical examinations connected with the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England. In law and in practice, the Universities were, at that time, directly connected with the Establishment.

I am justified, therefore, in stating, that as at the beginning no form was necessary to exclude persons as being Dissenters; for, as there were no Dissenters in the kingdom, there was no necessity for providing against their admission into the Universities—so, when Dissenters arose in the land (after that the Reformation had granted liberty of conscience, though the State did not for many subsequent generations grant toleration), the Universities became then the guardians of the Established Religion of the country; and no one was permitted to share the benefits of these institutions, who did not, by subscription or by conduct, give some security that he was a member of that Church to the service of which those Universities were consecrated.

The House will perhaps allow me to advert to the mode in which these articles are subscribed at Oxford, by young men on first entering the University. On this subject my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Stanley) spoke in a manner which, in his absence, I will not characterize, but which from him I heard with deep regret. Whatever might have been the case a generation back, much attention is at this time paid to religious instruction in the greater part of schools from which young men are sent to Oxford. I have been informed, since the debate of yesterday, by one of the tutors in that University, whose misfortune it was to hear my right hon. friend on that occasion, that he has himself attended 400 young men to be matriculated, and has himself examined every one of them on the subject of the articles; and that nineteen out of every twenty have read them with their tutors or masters at schools before they present themselves for matriculation; and have a more competent knowledge of the general subject of religion now on entering the University than was attained by the majority of young men after residence in the University a few years ago. Let the House always recollect, that no acquirements in classics, no proficiency in mathematics, I will qualify any young man to take any degree at Oxford, unless he shall first pass an examination in the elements of theology, not merely strict, but, in most cases, severe.

The other subject, to which my right hon. friend referred in the same tone which I have already had occasion to deprecate, was the attendance at the chapel prayers at the respective colleges. Whether such habits and scenes, as those which he described, prevailed formerly, it is not necessary now to examine. I believe, that I can state, with respect to the most offensive point in his description—(namely, the attendance on chapel prayers from a wine party, and the return to it), it is nearly, if not quite impossible in Oxford, from the change of hours at which the chapel prayers are held.

I return now, Sir, to the particular objects which the petitioners from Cambridge submit to the House. It is very well to make this petition the vehicle of a general discussion, and of bringing forward all the claims of all the Dissenters; but how very differently do the petitioners state their own objects! Their very first prayer is limited by this comprehensive reserve—namely, that the door of the University may be opened "as widely" (but only so) "as may be compatible with the Christian principles or its foundation." So much for admission to the University itself: and when they come to consider the admission of Dissenters into particular colleges in the University, their reserve is still more exclusive: they say, "Lastly your petitioners disclaim all intention of hereby interfering, directly or indirectly, with the private statutes and regulations of individual colleges, founded as these colleges are on specific benefactions, and governed by peculiar laws, of which the respective heads and fellows are the legal and natural guardians." I ask, will the concession of a prayer so limited and so guarded, satisfy any one? Certainly, it will not satisfy the Dissenters, whatever the hon. member for Boston (Mr. Wilks) may say, if their own petitions are to be regarded; while yet it will have weakened the ground of resistance taken by those who defend the existing rights of the es- tablishment. However guarded and limited, as I have observed, is the particular prayer of the individuals whose petition is before us, its concession will open the whole question of dissent. It is idle to think of stopping short in your concessions, when you once begin to concede on what you call principle: That principle must carry you forwards.

In talking of "Dissenters," I do not use the word in its present conventional sense as limited to sectaries professing Protestant Christianity different from the Church in this country; but in that broader sense, which the argument of the existing Dissenters requires; and I say, that if you admit Dissenters into the Universities, you admit them in that general character—namely, as non-members of the Established Church. A Dissenter is not merely a Baptist or an Independent: in common consistency, upon the principles now urged (however little it may be in the mind of the three denominations*) it must include the Roman Catholics as well as themselves; and every other form of worship; men of any creed, or of none.

Without any disrespect to the gentlemen who have signed this petition, I may be allowed to state, that they do not comprehend all the intelligence and all the principle of the University of Cambridge; and when they describe themselves as resident members of that University, the term, can scarcely in the utmost latitude of courtesy, be conceded to all of them; one at least never for many years having resided a week in Cambridge. I may add, that, admitting them all to be resident, they do not constitute one-third of the number actually resident; and, therefore, that, until one-third shall be greater than two-thirds, these sixty-three gentlemen can never be held to represent the University of Cambridge.

But these are minor points: whether all who have signed the petition, be resident or not, or what proportion the subscribers bear to the whole body, is, to my purpose, immaterial: my great objection to the concession now sought is, that * In the "Brief Statement of the case of Protestant Dissenters" which the Committee of Deputies of the three denominations of Dissenters have put forth, the grievance on this point is alleged to be "the exclusion of Protestant Dissenters from the "privileges of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. it would be destructive of the objects and the ends of the Universities. I have already stated, that it cannot be claimed on the ground that there was any identity of principle between any of the founders or benefactors of any one of the colleges, on the one side, and any one of the present Dissenters on the other: that it cannot be claimed on the ground, that the nation ever granted to the Universities the whole, or even the largest proportion of their existing possessions; or ever reserved any right either of resuming such grant, or of annexing any subsequent conditions to its continuance: that it cannot be claimed on the general ground that the Universities were ever at any time open to men of all religions, or of none. For the sake of argument, again I will concede every one of these points: but if I admit that the founders held the doctrines of the Dissenters;—if I admit that the Universities were never, till within the last three centuries, consecrated to the service of religion;—I still say, that, for those three centuries, the Universities have, by law, held those possessions for the great end and object of maintaining, by means of education, the connexion between the people of the land, and its religion. I contend, that this is the grand, essential, and exclusive character and design of the Universities.

My objection, then, to the concessions demanded is an objection founded upon this principle: the Universities are not mere localities of lectures; they are places of education. They are not, as they were described to be by my right hon. friend (Mr. Spring Rice) on the first day of this debate, and by the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) yesterday, like this House, places which ought to be open to all: and, therefore, the analogy by which they are compared to this House, and by which it has been attempted to defend the opening of the Universities to all classes of Dissenters, on the ground that this House has been equally opened, and that municipal corporations have been equally opened to Dissenters, cannot be sustained, inasmuch as the Universities are what this House is not, and never can be, a place of education. Retaining all my objections to the repeal of the Test Laws, I still see, that the case is much stronger against opening the Universities than it was against opening ordinary corporations. The Universities of England are not lecture-shops: but, as was stated in a late work, the Letter of Mr. Sewell on the admission of Dissenters to the Universities—one of the best pamphlets which I have ever read—a pamphlet which combines the most vigour and zeal with the most wisdom of any which I have lately seen—they are places of discipline and moral restraint. The foundation of our system of education is religion. We do not consider, that we have discharged our duties to the young men committed to us by giving them a lecture of an hour on chemistry, or a lecture of an hour on geology. The young men are not to go to us as they go to the Royal Institution, to the London Institution, or to the Liverpool Institution. We hold, that this is not education. We hold, that there is no education without religion: we hold that there is no religion without Christianity: we hold, that there is no Christianity without some definite form and standard. Religion is interwoven into the whole system of education in Oxford: Dominus Illuminatio mea, is the watchword of Oxford: it is the motto inscribed on the banner of the University. No eminence in science, no acquirements in classics, as I have already stated, will entitle any man to academical honours, unless he be first found competent to give satisfactory answers with regard to religious knowledge. On that subject, before he be examined on any other, his trial must be strict and accurate. I have reason to believe, that, in one college, the lectures connected with theology occupy nearly one-third of the time devoted to instruction: I have reason to know, that, in all it forms an essential part of instruction. Among the human means to which I look for the preservation of this country, there are none to which I turn with so much comfort and confidence as to the rising generation of English gentlemen, to the young men in our Universities. I believe, that, at no former period, could there be found an equal number combining equal talent, principle, and religion.

Other institutions may look to the communication of mere knowledge. The University of Oxford will never be so satisfied. The experience of 6,000 years has proved, that there is no necessary connexion between knowledge and moral discipline. Knowledge, by itself, I hold to be unmixed evil—I am not surprised at the cheer from some; but I am sur- prised and grieved at the cheer of dissent, which I distinguish from an honourable friend now opposite to me. Differing as we may differ on other points, I thought, that, at least on this subject, I should have had the advantage of his concurrence: that he would have believed with me, that knowledge without principle is not worth possessing; and that "the fear of the Lord," and that only, "is the beginning of wisdom." The attempt to educate men without religion has been tried in one place, and one place only: even there, however, there has been an indirect mode of obtaining the aid of religious principle. But is such a subject, the most important to man even in this life, the only one which is important in relation to the next, to be left to an indirect supply, or to chance?

My right hon. friend, the member for the University of Cambridge, (Mr. Goulburn) on Monday, showed most ably the impossibility of conducting any system of education in connexion with religion where Dissenters might claim, as a right, to be included on equal terms in such system. The recognised admission of Dissenters (here, again, as before, I use the word not in its present conventional sense, but as including all who differ from the Church of England, whether as being Jews, or Roman Catholics, or Baptists, or of any other worship, or of none at all) must, in the nature of things, prevent any education founded on religion or connected with public worship. At present, the Dissenter is educated in Cambridge with a submission to all the requirements of the place; and no authority knows, of necessity, whether the young man be or be not a Dissenter, during the years of education. He submits to the discipline of the University, and of his college; but if he be to be admitted on the ground that no religious observance shall be required of him, and no religious instruction conveyed to him, the result must either be an easy good-humoured indifference to all religion, on the one hand; or a continual exasperation, on the other, when religion shall be made prominent. In either case the great end of the Universities will be destroyed: that end is to render to the State, and to the Church of England, good subjects and good Christians. That end, by God's blessing, they have largely attained: to that end they desire ever to look.

I have had, I repeat, no communication with the University of Oxford on this subject. I speak only for myself: but from my intimate knowledge of the character and principles of the leading men in the University, I feel not less certain, than if I had enjoyed direct communication with them, that Oxford would decline to educate any young men, whose religion should not be confided to her. The University of Oxford feels it to be her first duty, (and I trust, will never cease to feel the responsibility of the charge,) to maintain that system of religious instruction, which, in her judgment, is connected alike with the best interests of man and with the Word and Truth of God.

I thank the House for the kindness and indulgence with which they have heard me.

Mr. O'Connell

did not require the apology that he might derive from the distinct allusions which the hon. Baronet had made to him to speak on that question. It was one which involved the cause of religion and the civil rights of all classes of Christians. It was one which related to freedom of conscience, and had the beneficial tendency to disconnect the exercise of a spiritual feeling from the influence of temporal advantages. It was a question upon which all Members of that House should express themselves, and if he (Mr. O'Connell) had no better motive for rising than to disclaim any intention of discourtesy towards the hon. Baronet, it was sufficient. There was not a Gentleman in that House whom he respected more for his invariably good deportment, and the perfect candour with which he expressed his opinions. But his praise must stop there. The hon. Baronet's theology was unsound—his politics were not more sound, and his exclusiveness of principle—it would be discourteous to call it bigotry (though that was the name it would receive in any other place)—was what he considered worst of all. It was such as he should have expected to have found locked up in the cells of Salamanca during the days of the Inquisition; it was bad there, or here, or any where; and he did not think it improved, though delivered so chauntingly by the hon. Baronet himself. It aimed at the legislative power over property. The hon. Baronet argued, that what was granted as a gift by Government to a public body, bore a parallel to a private gift to an individual; certainly a gift to an individual could not be retracted; but what analogy was there between such, and the transfer of property which was made from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant establishment? There was no comparison whatever between the two cases. He should proceed to notice an objection brought by the hon. member for Oldham. Whatever came from that hon. Member bore the mark of common sense, and was entitled to the highest respect. He argued, because Protestants were more wealthy than Dissenters, that therefore, the concession of the Dissenters' claims would be no advantage to them, because their poverty excluded them from enjoying the benefits of education. Yet the injustice was still the same; because, in the event of the Dissenters becoming rich, they were debarred from the advantages of opulence, while the rich Protestant was in full possession of all privileges. Again, if a poor Dissenter by industry accumulated wealth, and a poor Protestant did the same, the latter would meet the rewards of that industry, while the former was excluded from them, because of a legislative enactment. He would ask also, was not injustice at present done to the rich Dissenters, and was not an injustice to a rich man as censurable as that done to a poor man? so that on every ground the hon. Member's objection was invalidated. The hon. Baronet indulged in arguments of quantity, without sufficiently adhering to the arguments of principle. He spoke of the property accumulated by the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge since the time of the Reformation. What did that show? The inference would be immediately drawn when it was known that, in Catholic times, Cambridge University had fourteen colleges, and since then it had but three; Oxford during Catholic times had twelve colleges, and now it had but six. The question was one entirely of principle. Knowledge was a good thing in itself, because it led to the discovery of truth, and consequently to the establishment of principle; but, separate knowledge from principle, and what would be the result? Why, it was knowledge without prinple which burned the Lollards in the reign of Henry 8th, and during subsequent reigns, burned both Catholics and Protestants. Knowledge without principle had ever been the great scourge of the human race; and he was sorry to see that it had partisans and apostles even among the elect of those Universities. There was no instance in which the temporal interests of the establishment did not influence the conduct of the clergy educated at these Universities. They had preached up the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, and continued Tories in every change and phasis of Government, down to the passing of the Reform Bill; and now they opposed the admission of the Dissenters to the Universities, as if they had something as powerful as the Inquisition at their backs. The hon. Baronet, when he had discussed the question of quantity, had introduced his religious opinions, and said he would undertake to prove, that the Wickhams, and other founders of the Universities, were not Roman Catholics; but he would meet him upon that point. He would ask him, were not the Protestants of the Established Church of the present day placed in this dilemma? They contended for the right of deciding for themselves, but the moment any other professing Protestant attempted to decide for himself, they turned round on him and called him by some nickname of Dissenter, and denied to him his proper name of Protestant. He would ask the hon. Baronet, whether Bishop Wickham did not say mass every Sunday and every week-day, at his chapel at Winchester? He would ask him, did not the Bishop believe in the invocation of saints and the doctrine of purgatory?—and if Bishop Wickham believed all those things, he would make the hon. Baronet a present of the title of Protestant. It was evident, that these institutions were founded on private endowments from grants made by private individuals, and for private purposes, namely, for offering prayers for the souls of the faithful departed; but all those private intentions for the disposal of private property had been overruled by the Legislature. He acquiesced in that arrangement. It was property which had been appropriated to a great public object, and although he differed from those by whom that alteration was effected, he not only submitted to it, but he was willing to enforce that submission upon others. He contended, that the nation had a right to dispose of that property—there was no statute of limitations; and if the Parliament, as the hon. Baronet would insinuate, had not the power, then it was a robbery, and he called on the hon. and conscientious Baronet to make restitution. The hon. Baronet had then taken an excursion to Ireland. The college of Maynooth, he said, was entirely supported by the annual grant. He was quite sure that the hon. Baronet thought the case was so; for he knew that he was incapable of making any assertion which he did not believe; but in that he was mistaken. The college, by law, was prohibited from possessing property to the amount of more than 1,000l. a-year, but to that sum they were entitled; therefore, it was quite plain that only a part of the college was supported by that annual grant. That college had flourished in spite of the severe times of the penal laws: in those times two Acts had been passed in Ireland, one prohibiting Catholics from being educated at Maynooth under pain of transportation, the other forbidding them to go out of the country, in order to obtain education, under pain of premunire, total loss of goods and property. Now, what was the effect of those laws? Why, that Catholic families sent over their property to the Continent, where their sons were allowed to receive the great blessings of education without fear. In his own person at present in the University of Paris, he was entitled to thirty-five exhibitions, which were worth more than 1,000l. There were many Catholic families in the same situation, and if Government, at the convention of 1814 and 1815, had taken as much care to have had a restitution of the ecclesiastical property belonging to subjects of this realm, as they had done of other kinds, they would now have had more than the Parliament had ever voted towards the support of Maynooth. Then there was the University of Dublin, which was an exclusively Protestant Establishment as it now stood; it was also a national institution as well as Maynooth. In the reign of Henry 8th, the Franciscan friars who inhabited it were turned out, and the revenues with which it was endowed, amounting to upwards of 60,000l., devoted to Protestantism—yet in that University, Catholics were enabled to take degrees; and had the result proved disadvantageous to the University, or rather had it not proved most beneficial to it, in every sense of the word? and not only to itself, but also to the country generally. By the Act of 1792, a Catholic might fill the medical chair in that University, and it was clear that it also intended that Catholics should be eligible to scholarships, but after two or three had been admitted, the fellows had thought it necessary to require the Oath of Supremacy to be taken, which again excluded them; but it was clear that that was according to the practice, and not according to the law. It was for the benefit of the country; his sons had met in that place in fellowship with the sons of those men who were most opposed to him; and they formed private friendships, which might put an end to feuds that otherwise might have disturbed the country. Besides, another argument that ought to weigh much with the hon. Baronet was, that it was the fact that many had been won to the Protestant religion from their attendance in that college. That was, therefore, a precedent of the highest class and of the first order, putting an end to all that was said of the great mischief which would accrue to the Church, if the Dissenters were allowed to take degrees at the Universities. One such fact was worth a million of prophecies; he had proved, that the experiment had been made, and that it had been triumphantly successful. The petition from Cambridge had been ushered in with great talent by a Member of the Government, and supported by many Members, as being a very important petition, emanating as it did from such a quarter. But he could not assent to all the praise which had been bestowed on it; he thought it a miserable and stingy petition, and instead of its being creditable to the University, it was highly discreditable. It appeared that there were seventeen heads of colleges, only two of whom signed it, twenty-five professors, and only eleven signed it, and seventy-four tutors, only ten signed it. Alas! for those who did not sign it. What was that at the present day? Salamanca was nothing to it. It seemed that they allowed the Dissenters to be at the University as long as there was any money to receive, and then turned them out, with a mark that went to degrade them below their Protestant fellow-subjects. In the name of the great principles of conscience, why did they the not sign the petition? In his opinion they were degraded for not having done so. He meant nothing offensive to them—they were most learned men, and "most potent, grave, and reverend seigniors." Yet, with all the praise and congratulation that had been bestowed on the colleges, only a very few had signed it, and they were lauded as the best, wisest, and gravest supporters of freedom of conscience; yes, they were—for themselves, but woe to those who were of a different opinion. But where was Oxford all this time? Oxford was left completely in the dark, for Oxford refused altogether to enlighten the Dissenters. Hon. Members might say, that they were supporting the Established Church; but had an Established Church continued long in any country where the opinions of the educated and enlightened middling class had been attempted to be destroyed? No Established Church continued long, unless it possessed the sympathy and affections of the people. He asked, were they the friends of the Established Church, who left even him to expose them, as it was in his power to do, by a statement of such facts as these? If the Catholic Church had continued to mix up political feelings with its religion, and had enlisted the principles of persecution—so alien to Christianity, and so alien to every Christian Church—if it had continued to do so, the banners of the Protestant Church would long since have flourished over her; and if she had existed by temporal means, it was because the most sincere of her children were the most convinced of the right of every human being to worship his God according to the dictates of his conscience. He was afraid he had trespassed too long upon the House. He thanked them for the favourable hearing they had given him. He meant no disparagement to the hon. Baronet, the member for the University of Oxford; but, on the part of the Dissenters of this country—and for a moment he would consent to be called a Dissenter—he would not object to be so called, re-collecting what a noble set of men the Dissenters were—what learning was amongst them, what talent, what principles, and, above all, what exertion for civil and religious liberty; only, therefore, declining to subscribe himself a Dissenter, however much he must respect the name, he would not object to be called a Dissenter for one moment, whilst he, on their behalf, asserted that religion was an affair between man and his Creator. That God alone, who saw into the human heart, could know who was sincere, and it was a violation of what he thought the prerogative of the Lord, and the rights of man, to interfere by force, fraud, or temptation, between man and his God.

Mr. Shaw

would not, at that advanced period of the time allotted for the morning sitting, do more than refer to one point alluded to in the speech of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. O'Connell) he meant that which related to the University of Dublin. He agreed with the hon. Member that the system of granting degrees to Dissenters, worked well in that University, but he entirely differed from him as to that forming a precedent of any value for regulating the practice of the English Universities. The great difference between the two cases was this: at Oxford and Cambridge residence was essentially necessary for keeping a term, whereas in Dublin it was not necessary; but the terms were kept by answering at examinations held every term for purpose. The hon. and learned member for the town of Cambridge (Mr. Pryme) was altogether mistaken in supposing, that these were only honorary degrees which were conferred on non-residents. So far from it—not above one-eighth, that is, about 200 out of 1,600 under-graduates, resided within the walls of the college; and those from convenience and not of necessity, residing every day in the term, and attending every lecture and every chapel, would not keep the terms without passing the examination, while passing the examination alone would keep the term, although the undergraduate did not reside a day or attend one chapel or one lecture. He should at the same time state, that in practice probably about half the undergraduates, or 800 out of 1,600, lived within such distance of the college as enabled them to avail themselves of the advantage of the lectures; but then they resided in the houses and under the care of their parents or guardians, so as not to require the same strict discipline in religious exercises as was requisite at the English Universities. The whole difficulty as regarded the latter resolved itself into one of academic discipline, as had been well stated by his right hon. friend (Mr. Goulburn), for to admit Dissenters, you must not only infringe upon the discipline of the college on the one hand, but leave the dissenting students without religious instruction from teachers of their own persuasion on the other, thus either the discipline of the Universities must be lowered to meet the principles of the Dissenters, or the principles of the Dissenters must be lowered to meet the discipline of the Universities. But this was not the case in Dublin where residence constituted no essential part of the system; where, too, the University consisted of but one single college, possessing, no doubt, powers and privileges similar to the English Universities, but necessarily simpler in the regulation of its practice. Besides, no change in the constitution of the college had been required for the admission of Dissenters, while such would be absolutely necessary in the English Universities, and that seemed a little too much to ask. He was happy that the privilege could be granted in the Irish University consistently with its rules—but he could not see how it was practicable at Oxford and Cambridge. He was at all times willing to remove disabilities from any class of the people, if that could be done without endangering the Established Church, or impairing the cause of true religion. With regard to Protestant Dissenters, there was, perhaps, no portion of the United Kingdom where they and members of the Established Church lived in such harmony and perfect good-will to one another, co-operating cordially in every benevolent and charitable object as in Ireland. He was, however, bound to say, that the Roman Catholics were not satisfied with the privilege of obtaining degrees in the Irish University. They now sought, and there was a notice to the effect on the books of the House, to be admitted on the foundation and to fellowships, which was utterly impossible, without a total subversion of the whole character and nature of the University. He thought, too, that the English Dissenters should plainly state what was the extent of their demands, and the hon. member for Boston must allow him to say, that his explanation on that subject was totally unsatisfactory. The hon. Member said, they required "absolute liberty." The hon. Member must excuse him for saying that the definition required to be defined as much as the original proposition; for while the hon. Member's idea of absolute liberty was one thing—that of other Dissenters might be another. The Manchester Petition, for instance, prayed for an immediate dissolution of the connexion between Church and State, and the expulsion of the Bishops from the House of Lords; while one from Edinburgh said "No remedy would suffice but a total abolition of Ecclesiastical Establishments in all their forms; and that Dissenters could be but semi-loyal until the Church Establishment was extirpated. From the advocates of tolerance, this was intolerance with a vengeance; and while he did not impute such sentiments to all the Dissenters, yet they should know that such unjust and extravagant demands were put forward in their behalf, in order that they might distinctly and expressly disclaim them.

Viscount Palmerston

said, that having had the honour of representing, for a considerable period, the University of Cambridge, from which the petition now under the consideration of the House had emanated, he was anxious to take the present opportunity of expressing the great satisfaction with which he saw that petition now lying upon the table. Although his political connexion with that University had ceased; yet it was impossible that he should not take a deep interest in all that regarded its welfare. He thought the petition redounded greatly to the honour of the establishment, and was satisfied that a compliance with the prayer would contribute to its general interests. He had observed, amongst the signatures attached to the petition, the names of many distinguished individuals who had honoured him with their private friendship and political support. Attempts had been made to detract from the weight due to the petition by stating, that it had only been signed by a minority of resident members, and that it did not bear signatures of any non-resident members. With respect to the latter argument, if it had been signed by non-resident members, how vehemently would the objection have been made, that persons who were not conversant with the discipline or government of the University had petitioned for that which would be injurious to its interests! Undoubtedly the number who had signed that petition was small; but if the House took into account, not merely their numbers, but their attainments in science and their great natural talents—he would say, if those members were allowed to multiply their votes by the treasures of knowledge, which they had laid up in store (as the members of some assemblies were entitled to multiply their votes by their riches)—the petitioners would represent the great majority of the intellect and talent of he University. In saying this, however, he did not wish to disparage the character of the several very eminent men whose names were not attached to that petition. The objections which had been stated to it were placed upon two grounds,—first, that the grievance of which the Dissenters complained was trifling, inasmuch as they already enjoyed all the advantages of an education in the University; and, secondly, that the adoption of the prayer of the petition, would be injurious, if not fatal, to the interests of the University, by interfering with that system of religious education which was one of its distinguishing characteristics. With regard to the first point, it was alleged, that not only were Dissenters admitted to the course of study in the University, but that they were allowed equally to partake of those honours, the hope of which was the great stimulus to exertion during the academic course, and the attainment of which stamped the possessor for life with an honourably marked character. It was said, that the mere privilege of attaching the letters M.A. or B.A. to their names was of too trifling a nature to be made the grave matter of complaint. Suppose these titles were nothing but empty honours, still, he maintained, that honours and titles were matters of local and conventional value, and that much depended upon the labours by which honours were obtained; and he would venture to say, that any young man of genius and talent, who had toiled through the labours of academical study (and few hon. members were aware of the extent of that labour), who had undergone these toils, and who had succeeded in crowning himself with academic laurels—no man of that class would listen with patience to those who would tell him, that those titles were empty names. It must be most galling to the heart of any honest man to be deprived of these honours (conferred, perhaps, on associates less deserving) merely for conscience' sake, because he had adopted the creed of his fathers,—because, at an age when, in temporal matters, he could not take a binding engagement, he was called upon to subscribe articles of faith which concerned the most important, because the most lasting interests of mankind. Could it be denied, that this was a serious grievance? It was well known, that with respect to the learned professions to which many members of the University devoted themselves, physic and law, the attaining a degree was a most essential help to their future professional prospects. He (Lord Palmerston) remembered having heard a striking illustration of the importance of those degrees, in the Hall of Trinity College, Cambridge, from the late Lord Erskine, who, with that talent by which he adorned every thing he touched, was explaining how all his professional success was owing to his having graduated in the University of Cambridge. He stated, that having taken to the bar late in life, he was discouraged by the long probation he would have to go through, and was about to quit it with disgust, when, it was suggested to him, that if he went down to Cambridge and took out his degree there, to which his previous studies had entitled him, it would be of essential benefit to him; he went down: he took his degree; he was encouraged to persevere, and to that degree he mainly attributed his subsequent eminence. If Lord Erskine had been a Dissenter, he would have been cut off from this resource, and the English bar would have lost one of its brightest ornaments. The grievance, then, was necessarily a severe one upon the Dissenter, who could not be admitted to a degree. But he was prepared further to contend that it was a still greater grievance upon the public at large. The public had a right to have the benefit of all the best talent in the law or in medicine that the country might possess; but, by the absurd principles which prevailed, the supply of persons properly qualified to discharge those duties was necessarily limited, and the country injured. The injury to the individuals might be measured as far as it was possible to measure the sufferings of a wounded spirit; but the injury to the public could not be estimated, because no man could tell how much talent was suppressed, or how much genius was blighted, by their exclusion from their natural career. So stood the case with regard to law; but with regard to medicine, it was impossible almost to argue seriously against such a principle. What could be so absurd as to require a man to subscribe the thirty-nine articles before you will allow him to cure you of a fever; and to refuse to permit him to save you from the grave digger, until he has convinced you that he is a member of the Established Church. If, then, he had shown the existing grievance, where remained the objection to grant the prayer of this petition? It was true, that it had been said, that to do so would be to overthrow the whole system of University discipline, and that, as the Dissenters would necessarily become members of the governing body, the whole regulations would be altered, and that, therefore, the University would cease to be a seminary for the education of members of the Established Church. In using that argument, hon. Members altogether forgot, that Dissenters were already admitted into the University, and as they submitted to the course of discipline now existing, no alteration was required. Even now, not only Dissenters, but Catholics (and he had known an instance of a member of the Greek Church) were admitted within the walls of Cambridge; then, how was it to be said, that the admission of Dissenters to degrees would tend to the contamination of the religious principles of the students of the Protestant Church? It had again been contended, that the relaxation of the rule might do away with the compulsory attendance of the undergraduates in the religious service of the Church. Now, he would ask, if there would be really any great harm in such a change? Was it either essential or expedient, that young men should be compelled to rush from their beds every morning to prayers, unwashed, unshaved, and half dressed; or, in the evening, from their wine to chapel, and from chapel back again to their wine? By such a course, the interests of the Church and true religious feeling could not be really served or advanced. A change in such a system of discipline would not be injurious, either to the interests of religion or to those of the University. But no change in the internal government of Colleges could be effected by the Senate, and, therefore, no dangers were to be apprehended by the admission of Dissenters as part of the governing body. The Senate had no power or control over the discipline of the colleges; and into the collegiate government, with whom that power rested, the Dissenter could not enter, because it was constituted of fellows; and he should as soon expect a Dissenter to ask for a rectory, or a stall in a cathedral, as that he would seek or ob- tain an ecclesiastical fellowship. The dangers which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goulburn) seemed to apprehend could not arise. The right hon. Gentleman might as safely intrust his sons to the University, after the admission of Dissenters to degrees, as he did now, when they were in association with members of the Established Church in a course of education. He should not now detain the House further than to express a hope that the petition would receive that due attention and consideration which its importance demanded, and that means would be devised to redress the grievances and remedy the evils of which it complained.

Sir Robert Peel:

I stand, in some respects, in the same situation with the noble Lord who has just sat down—like him I enjoyed, for a considerable period, the honour of representing one of the Universities—like him, I have ceased to enjoy that honour; but I remain also, like him, animated by an unabated desire to advance the permanent welfare of the Universities, convinced, as I am, that it is intimately interwoven with the well-being of the community at large. I shall address myself, without further preface, to the main question at issue; and I must say, that if every hon. Member would adopt that course, and consent to omit a long irrelevant exordium, it would tend much to the economy of the public time, and to the despatch of the public business. The prayer of this petition has been supported upon three distinct grounds, to each of which I shall advert, if the short period to which I am limited will permit, in succession. The first ground is, that the system of education pursued at the Universities, coupled with the regulations adopted by certain other public institutions, imposes civil disabilities on the Dissenters which they are most anxious to see removed. Now, I at once admit, that if such civil disabilities exist, they ought to be removed. I admit, that if there be a system of education, and of regulations connected with education, adopted by public bodies acting under the authority and sanction of the State, which confers advantages of the nature of civil privileges on one class of the King's subjects that are withholden from another, that system ought to undergo a modification, for the purpose of placing all, in so far as political or civil capacities are concerned, upon the footing of equality. The Dissenters allege, that by the statutes of the Universities, they cannot be admitted to degrees, because they cannot conscientiously take the religious test, which is an indispensable condition to the degree; and as other public bodies, superintending the professions of medicine and law, give to those individuals who obtain degrees in the Universities advantages which they, the Dissenters, cannot acquire, that they, therefore, in consequence of the combined operation of these regulations, labour under disabilities to which other members of the State, in prosecuting their studies in law and medicine are not subject. I am bound to say, that I feel the full force of this objection,—that I think the disadvantage, whatever be the amount of it, ought not to continue, and that there is a fair claim for the interposition of the Sovereign authority, if relief cannot be obtained without such interposition; but I do not admit, that it, therefore, follows that the prayer of this petition ought to be complied with, and that Dissenters ought to be admitted to degrees in the Universities. It may, and I think it does follow, that the State ought to require that those who preside over the professions of law and of medicine, should so modify their regulations, as to give, substantially, to all parties, equal facilities of admission to the two professions, as to efface all appearance of inferiority, and to remove every distinction, whether involving a disability or a sense of degradation, by which the Dissenter can suffer. In what way this shall be done, there is not now time, nor is this the occasion, to inquire. That it ought to be done in some way or other, I readily concede; although I protest against that particular mode of doing it suggested by the Cambridge petition, This was the first ground relied upon in support of the petition, and I was desirous to state, at the outset, the extent to which I admit its validity. The prayer of this petition has been maintained upon two other grounds: the one, that the Dissenters have a right—a positive right—independent of their claim to the removal of those civil disabilities to which I have before referred—to participate fully in any system of University education recognized by the State;—the other, that, whether there exist a right or not, great public advantage would result from conceding to them such a participation. Now, I say, at once, that while I am as much disposed as any man, strenuously to contend for the removal of all civil disabilities,—while I am prepared to maintain that principle, and to carry it practically to all its legitimate consequences,—I must, nevertheless, contend, that the demand, on the part of the Dissenters, to be admitted to degrees in the Universities of England, is, as a claim of abstract right, without exception, the most extravagant demand which has been advanced in modern times. If we have not the right to exclude Dissenters from the benefits of University education, we have not the right to maintain the connexion between the Church and the State. The arguments by which a system of education limited to members of the Establishment can be maintained—(I am now speaking of the abstract right so to limit the system, not of the policy)—are identical with those by which the Establishment itself can be supported. My right hon. friend, who introduced this petition, very prudently avoided the question that has been agitated by others, whether such a right does or does not exist, and mainly confined himself to a statement of the benefits, both to Dissenters and the public at large, which would result from the concession of the privilege required. My right hon. friend, however, is too old and skilful a disputant not to know, and not to avail himself of, every matter, however irrelevant to the real merits of the question, by which he could create a prejudice against those statutes or regulations of the University which he is seeking to repeal. My right hon. friend first told the House, that the decree, of which the Dissenters complained, originated in the reign of James 1st, at a period at which barbarous dogmas in religion and politics prevailed, from the influence of which this enlightened age has been happily relieved. My right hon. friend knew his audience,—he knew that an attack upon the character of James the 1st—that even the mention of Newmarket—would produce a more lively impression on the House, than a sober argument upon the substantial merits of the case. He told the House, that King James 1st, not in Council, but when he was engaged in the sports of the field, sent a mandate from Newmarket, in the shape of a letter, (a hasty and inconsiderate letter, written, I suppose, between the heats) and that, in consequence of that letter, the Dissenters were forthwith, and for the first time, ex- cluded from the privilege of degrees. And then, says my right hon. friend, after exciting the House to a proper pitch of indignation,—will you, the Reformed Parliament, consent to ratify the Newmarket decrees of James 1st? will you not rather recur to that purer and happier era, when, under the gentle auspices of Queen Elizabeth, the true principles of civil and religious liberty were so well understood and so carefully enforced in practice? Why, surely, my right hon. friend knows perfectly well, that he was concealing from the Reformed Parliament an important fact—no other than this—that it was in the reign of Elizabeth that tests were imposed, the main and avowed object of which was to confine degrees in the University to the members of the Established Church. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the presumption was, that the community was divided into two great classes—those who belonged to the Established Church, and those who adhered to the Roman Catholic religion. It was not until the close of the life of Elizabeth that serious differences in point of doctrine arose among the Protestant Reformers. The very first act of the reign of Elizabeth required, that every member admitted to any degree in the University should take the Oath of Supremacy. That Oath differed materially from the present Oath. It did not merely reject the supremacy of the Pope, but it declared, that the Queen's Highness was the only supreme governor, as well in all spiritual and ecclesiastical things or causes, as temporal. But what does my right hon. friend say to the Act for the uniformity of common prayer and divine service in the Church, passed in the same year—the first of Elizabeth? This Act required all persons, under heavy penalties, to resort to their parish Church, or chapel accustomed, in winch divine worship, according to the rites of the Church of England, was performed, upon all Sundays and holidays. The operation of this Act, combined with the religions test, was meant to confine degrees in the Universities to the members of the Established Church. The decree of James went merely to enforce that which had been the principle of the previous laws of Queen Elizabeth, my right hon. friend's pattern of toleration. But my right hon. friend has something yet in store, to fill up the measure of contempt with which James 1st, and all his decrees, should be viewed in this enlightened age, and by this Reformed Parliament. He reserved for the last—for the climax of his wrath—the tremendous fact, that James 1st was actually the author of a Treatise on Demonology. Now, can anything be more absurd than this attempt to weaken the authority of existing laws, by referring to the speculative doctrines entertained by the monarch in whose reign such laws may have been made? When we come to the discussion of the Repeal of the Act of Union, will my right hon. friend consent, that the binding authority of that statute shall be decried by a reference either to the circumstances which may have attended its enactment, or to the private opinions which may have been held by the King in whose reign it passed into a law? But James 1st, says my right hon. friend, wrote a Treatise on Demonology. Is my right hon. friend aware, that his own chosen model,—his great example of religious toleration,—Queen Elizabeth herself, wrote also a Treatise on Demonology? Her treatise, to be sure, is a very short one; but I much doubt whether she does not put her argument with greater force than King James. It may be asked, how does this line of argument bear on the question before the House? I answer, not in the remotest degree; but when prejudices are attempted to be unfairly excited by such topics as those of which my right hon. friend made use, then it becomes necessary to efface the impression by exposing the artifice, and by showing that the topics are not worth one farthing. My right hon. friend invited the House to respect the authority of Queen Elizabeth, and to reject that of James, because James believed in demonology, and wrote a treatise upon it. I answer, but Elizabeth was a believer also; and I produce her treatise on the same subject. The title of Queen Elizabeth's performance, is, "An Act against Conjurations, Enchantments, and Witchcraft;" and this is the form in which she puts her argument:—'Whereas, since the repeal of the statute of Henry the 8th, many fantastical and devilish persons have devised and practised invocations and conjurations of evil and wicked spirits, and have used witchcraft, enchantments, and sorceries, to the destruction of the persons and of the goods and chattels of their neighbours,' Therefore, says Queen Elizabeth, 'If any person, after the 1st day of June next coming, shall use, practise, or exercise any charm or sorcery whereby any person shall happen to be wasted, consumed, or lamed, or whereby any goods or chattels of any person shall be destroyed, such offender, with his counsellor and aider, shall suffer imprisonment for one whole year; and shall once a quarter, in some market town, stand in the pillory six hours, and shall there openly confess his error. For a second offence he shall be hanged.' So much for Queen Elizabeth's Treatise on Demonology. These, Sir, were the absurd errors of the times both of Elizabeth and James; but I am pretty confident that I have somewhere read, that James was the first man in his dominions who opened his eyes to these errors, and doubted the existence of witchcraft and demonology. Wiser men than James were not exempt from these errors. Does my right hon. friend forget the opinions of Lord Bacon, with respect to witchcraft? Lord Bacon, the greatest luminary of his age, and one of the most powerful intellects of which any age has had experience, gravely considers the reason why witches delighted to feed upon man's flesh. "The reason," he says, "is likely to be, that man's flesh may send up kind and pleasing vapours which may stir up the imagination, and as the great felicity of witches doth consist in imagination, this may be the reason for their liking man's flesh." Now, I ask, is this great man's authority on every other point to be set at nought, because he entertained opinions which we, in a later age, ridicule as childish and absurd? To revert to the question of right. The right to what? Three days have been spent in the discussion of this subject, and at this moment the extent of the right claimed by the Dissenters is not defined. The petition is specific; but the debate leaves the matter in complete uncertainty. Two Gentlemen, who speak with authority on the part of the Dissenters, have taken a part in the debate. The member for Leeds claims for the Dissenters a perfect right to participate, not in degrees merely, but in all the emoluments and rewards of the University, except, he says, those which may be specially appropriated for religious purposes directly connected with the Church of England. I am not satisfied, says the hon. Member, with the prayer of the petition, but I claim for the Dissenters the right to be elected to all the offices of the University with the limitation above-mentioned. The hon. member for Boston reserved for the end of his speech this important declaration; "It is right," he said, "that I should not conceal from the House, on this solemn occasion, what the real objects of the Dissenters are, and what is the extent of their claims; and I shall adopt the precise language of Mr. Locke, in order that there may be no misunderstanding as to the full expectations and wishes of the Dissenters." And then, in the most impassioned manner, and with an air of sincerity, which led me certainly to conclude that we were about to know the whole truth—that we were about to have conveyed to us, with all the precision of Mr. Locke, the full extent of the demands of the Dissenters, the hon. Member exclaims—"What we demand is liberty—absolute liberty—just and true liberty—equal and impartial liberty." Now, I am left—after the hon. Member's earnest effort, with the aid of Mr. Locke to be explicit—in precisely the same position, with regard to the views of the Dissenters in which I was before the hon. Member made his declaration. I can understand the member for Leeds; his avowal is manly and intelligible; but if I were asked to prescribe the mode in which the demand of the Dissenters may be made in the most loose and vague manner, I would advise the adoption of the course taken by the member for Boston—I would call for "just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty," reserving to myself the right to judge in what that "just, and true, and equal, and impartial liberty" might consist. Whatever be the difference in our opinions, in this position I apprehend we shall all agree, that before we take the first step in a matter of this importance, we ought to consider whither it will lead? The present petition asks that Dissenters may be admitted to degrees in the Universities. My right hon. friend, the member for Cambridge, says, that he will abide by this petition, and, in the most marked manner, says, he will not advance one step beyond the prayer of it. The noble Lord opposite says, that he will concede to Dissenters the privilege of degrees, but that he would consider a claim beyond degrees equally extravagant with a claim to be appointed to a living, or any ecclesiastical preferment. Now let us consider whether you can, consistently with your own principles, stop where the petition stops? We are to admit Dissenters to take degrees at the Universities. The noble Lord contends, that it is the greatest hardship that they should be excluded from degrees after they have manifested the talents and good conduct which are to be inferred from the grant of a degree. Does the noble Lord see no hardship, also, in inviting the Dissenters to the University,—in opening to them the wide field of competition, and in then telling them, "Whatever be the superiority you may have exhibited,—whatever be the distinctions you may have acquired,—you must be content with the barren privilege of a degree; to you no office in the University, either of influence or emolument, is opened;—all fellowships, all scholarships, everything of profit that might aid you in early education, or in the misfortunes of after-life, is reserved for another and a more favoured class?" I ask you to consider, and to consider now, whether you are taking a position which you can maintain? You are required to confer on the Dissenter an inalienable right to be admitted to education in the Universities, without condition or limitation, and also to the privilege of taking degrees. Having taken their degrees, the Dissenters will become a part of the governing body of the University, qualified to vote on all matters relating to the University, as all other Masters of Arts are qualified. You will have thus introduced into the governing body a powerful party,—a small minority, perhaps, but a very active one, having no interest in common with the rest of the University; excluded from every lucrative office,—from every appointment of influence, or of honour, and banded together by a sense of inferiority and degradation. What was the answer made to those who professed a willingness to admit the Roman Catholics to seats in Parliament, but would exclude them from the high offices of the State? It was this:—"No; we will not have a body in the State, intrusted with the functions of legislation, but cut off from the hopes of Royal favour,—wielding all the energies of popular representation, and with those energies uncontrolled by the ambition of official preferment and distinction. This is the way to make privileges dangerous to the institutions that have conferred them,—to give a premium upon discontent and disaffection, at the very moment you are conferring power." Has this answer no application to the present case? But, apart from this consideration, on what principle, after you shall have conferred the absolute right to admission and to degrees, will you maintain a continued exclusion from all the substantial benefits of the University? I am not speaking of ecclesiastical preferments, or of appointments which infer in the holder a spiritual character; but I am speaking of all those appointments and offices which are tenable by laymen. Is the Dissenter excluded from the great majority of these, at the present moment, by any impediment, differing in its origin and character from that impediment which prevents his taking a degree, and which it is now proposed to remove by the authority of Parliament? Does the disqualification of the Dissenter, in regard to lay offices, arise from the will of the founder?—does it arise from the original conditions of the foundation?—or does it arise from some statute or regulation imposed by an extrinsic authority? If from the latter, how will you, on your principles, continue it? Are there not fellowships in several of the colleges which are lay-fellowships? May not a member of Trinity College hold even an ecclesiastical fellowship for several years before he is required to take orders? [Mr. Pryme: Yes, if he subscribes the articles.] Subscribes the articles!—but I am asking you on what principle is it that you will maintain the articles, as a test for lay-fellowships, when you have abandoned them as a test for degrees? But there are scholarships as well as fellowships. Will you, or will you not, admit the Dissenters to scholarships? [Viscount Palmerston: Why not?] The noble Lord says "Why not?" He feels so strongly the force of the argument—that if the Dissenters are admitted to degrees, you cannot exclude them from the other benefits and emoluments of the institution, of which they will thus become members,—that he at once concedes the further privilege of being admitted to scholarships. Will he stop there? Even if he do, I say, he abandons the ground taken in this petition,—he abandons the ground on which the member for Cambridge, and the Secretary for the Colonies, profess to take their stand. If the petition means anything, it means, that the privilege of the Dissenter shall be limited to the degree, and that he shall not be admitted on the foundation of the respective colleges. I contend, on the other hand—and the noble Lord now seems to agree with me,—that the first concession involves the remainder—that it establishes a principle which cannot be limited to the taking of degrees,—that it is a concession which will ultimately give no satisfaction—that it will, indeed, serve as an instrument by which other objects may be achieved, but that the interval will be an interval of struggle and discord;—at the end of which you will discover, that you have healed the wound of the people slightly—that you cried peace, peace, where there was no peace. My argument is, not that you should reject a reasonable demand, for fear that an unreasonable one should follow; but I contend that the concession in this case of the first demand, will alter the character of the other demands, and through the establishment of a novel principle, will make those demands reasonable which you now consider unreasonable. I say now, as I said with respect to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and of the Roman Catholic disabling Statutes, "There is no benefit in partial concessions, which involve a principle upon which other concessions may justly be required;" and on that ground I voted in each case, when further resistance became unavailing, for a full and entire measure of relief. Into the effect of this concession upon the discipline of the University, I feel that it is too late to enter. The noble Lord says, it can have no prejudicial effect in Cambridge, for that Dissenters are at present admitted as under-graduates. Now, there never was a greater fallacy than that involved in the argument,—that because no inconvenience has followed from the occasional admission of Dissenters into a few colleges, wherein they conform to the established discipline, therefore no inconvenience will follow from their indiscriminate admission to degrees, as well as to education:—that admission being claimable as a right, conferred by an Act of the Legislature. A new code of regulations must be framed. Are the Universities to continue the great schools of religious instruction in the tenets of the Church of England? Is attendance on divine worship to be a necessary part of the system of education? If it is so to continue, are the Dissenters to attend divine worship, according to the rites of the Church, or to be released from the obligation of attending? Are they to be present at lectures explaining and defending the doctrines of the Church; or is religious instruction to be abandoned, as an indispensable portion at least of academic education? Says the learned Professor, the member for Cambridge,—"Let the Dissenters attend the lectures on theology; but then the lectures need not be of a controversial character." Oh! spare us, at least, from this humiliation! Let us have no lecturer in divinity, shrinking from the maintenance of divine truth, ashamed to defend the doctrines of his faith, out of courtesy to the feelings of his Unitarian or Roman Catholic hearers—out of apprehension that some dissenting student may claim, in the lecture-room, the right of free discussion—the right of vindicating his own tenets from the misapprehension of the learned professor. I know that I must, on account of the hour, conclude; and I will conclude with this single remark, that if you intend to compel the Dissenter to observe the religious discipline of the University, you are cheating him by the semblance of a privilege of which he cannot avail himself; if, on the other hand, you waive the religious discipline, out of deference to his scruples, you divest the Universities of their present character, as schools of religious instruction, and sever the strongest of all the links which connect the Church of England with the State.

It being three o'clock the Speaker left the Chair, and the debate was again adjourned.

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