HC Deb 19 May 1835 vol 27 cc1199-233
Mr. Wyse

rose to move, pursuant to a notice giver at the beginning of this Session, for leave to bring in a Bill for the establishing a Board of National Education, to promote the advancement of Elementary Education in Ireland; the first of a series of measures which he trusted he might be permitted, as circumstances should allow, to submit to the House for the amelioration, more general diffusion, and permanent support of education in that country. He had placed his notice early on the Order-Book, not with any factious or partisan design to embarrass this Ministry or to assist that,—so high and national a subject would, in his mind have been profaned by a limited and temporary application,—but from a deep and sacred conviction, of many years' standing, that of all great objects of national policy, which could engage the attention of subject or ruler, this was by far the greatest;—great now, great at all times; not a helper only, in the building up of society and civilization, but the only foundation on which all society and civilization must finally rest. He who neglected this, might construct what social edifice he pleased; he would soon find, to his cost, that he had been but "an architect of ruins." He might range institution on institution, without that,—which alone could give the structure cohesion and solidity,—the pack of cards, at the first breath of civil commotion would come tumbling down. Constitutions were good and necessary, but a good Constitution might be long in giving a good education: it was scarcely in the nature of moral things that a good national education should not, ere long, render necessary and certain a good Constitution. These were his opinions in 1831.—enlarged and confirmed, and matured, they were more than ever his opinions in 1835. With little or no encouragement,—with apathy or hostility (and there were cases and times in which apathy was worse than hostility) to check even a mention of the subject,—with scarcely ten auxiliaries in this House, which now boasted its almost unanimous anxiety for some such measure, he had ventured, in the former year, with no hope of immediate success, but with a certain confidence of future, to solicit even a momentary attention to the first Bill ever introduced into Parliament for Irish Education. That Bill he should have pressed to a positive decision of the House, notwithstanding all the difficulties with which it was surrounded, had he not apprehended embarrassing, by such discussions, the progress of the Reform Bill then pending; and against which was arrayed sectarian as well as political prejudices, in either country. He received, too, the assurance, that many of its provisions would be reduced to early trial, by the then Government, in the form of an experiment; and that new aid would be thus afforded in every future discussion, from the strong evidence of experience. The Bill was proceeding to a second reading in September—when Parliament was prorogued; and in the following October, the then Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Stanley), with a courage and wisdom which bore, indeed, a favourable contrast to the pusillanimity and purblind policy of former Governments, constituted in his "Instructions" to the Duke of Leinster, the present Board of Irish Education, on almost the precise model of the Bill. More than two years had now elapsed since that important experiment was first risked. In despite of every evil prophecy, calculated and intended to realize what it foreboded—in despite of every impediment which disappointed favoritism, political and religious bigotry, and, he was willing to believe, honest, though mistaken apprehensions had thrown in its way,—the experiment (as he should be enabled amply to prove in Committee) had as far as it was intended to go, most thoroughly succeeded. He might be asked, then, why disturb its progress, or endanger the already effected good, by attempting something better? Simply, because this progress was at this very moment exposed, from the want of some legislative sanction, to continual disturbance; and, secondly, because the good on which they had to congratulate themselves was far, indeed, below the standard, which as certain as that he was standing in the House of Commons, they were fully able to attain. The present system was confined and comparatively feeble in its operation; the distribution of its powers and duties (he had pointed out the defect in the beginning, and the results had since justified his apprehensions), was injudicious; and above all, were it to combine every excellence that human system could boast of, the nation had no guarantee for its duration: its annihilation, like its creation, might be the work of a day. It was right, perhaps, at the outset, considering not merely the hostility of one party, but the comparative ignorance of all, to invest it with this provisional character. Some prejudices must be wooed to be won, and where moral changes were in contemplation, no prejudice was to be altogether disregarded; light, too, was to be poured in, by degrees, on the darkness of the public: the very feeling that it was an experiment disarmed, and invited attention and patience for the result. But that time was passed, and to delay now was not wisdom, but indolence or cowardie The very dread that it would be allowed to continue in this wavering ambiguous state, dulled co-operation on the part of the public. Few men would zealously interest themselves in consolidating a fabric which might be destroyed the next hour. That these were not visionary fears, the conduct of the late Ministry gave ample proof. The right hon. Baronet himself,—though far superior in extended and rational views to those around him,—dwelling, indeed, apart from his colleagues in an intellectual atmosphere of his own—gave but a cheerless and cold assent to the measure; and as to his Irish supporters, they bowed, it was true, but with a most resolute reluctance, and claiming to preserve all their old hostility, to what many amongst them must have considered a very unworthy concession on the part of their leader. Now, what protected the system against these openly-avowed feelings in future? Nothing, surely, but the want of power. He would not leave it thus at the hazard of a die; if it were, as was averred, a great national good, it behoved the nation, and the House as the guardians of the nation, to see that it be placed not only beyond all danger, but all contingency. Nothing but the law, nothing at least so well as a law, could affect that. If it were to be conveyed a glorious gift, in full possession of the nation, it must be by solemn Act of Parliament, and not by an ordonnance of the King, or a bye-law rescript of an Irish Secretary. Nor was this a matter which, under pretence of complex detail, and immature inquiry required to be prorogued. The complexity apprehended might by the course he proposed, be easily simplified; there was little need of further inquiry,—they had inquired and hesitated enough—their duty now was to act. In this he echoed only the voice of the times, the cry of every street, and of every part of the country. Something bold, broad, and durable, must be done; and the sooner done, for the cause of the country and of education, the better. We now lived in a new world, and, with other minds than those which had preceded us, must work up our institutions to their level, unless we wished to expose the whole march of our social and political existence to jerks, and jars, and disasters,—we must look forward as well as back. It was not enough to repeat precedents, we must create them. Our ancestors might be entitled to our veneration, but we owed virtue and happiness to our posterity. Steam had produced a great, and was likely to produce a still greater change in the combination and action of society.—space seemed annihilated,—towns had melted into each other,—men lived almost like one great family, in the presence of each other,—facility of communication rendered men more sensible to every impulse public opinion had acquired more activity, extension and energy,—combination, for any given cause, was infinitely more easy. Add to these the wholesale changes in the power of production; the new markets created; the old which they displaced, the innumerable vicissitudes which all these created, not only in individual families, but in very large masses of the community;—and some estimate might be formed of the mighty, and in some degree perilous, power of this moral, as well as mechanical agent upon society. Much patience and much wisdom were requisite to enable men to use its gifts so that they might not be turned into curses,—and to emerge from the old into the new state to which they were hastening, with permanent, as well as temporary advantage. Nor did those shocks occur at a time when we could boast of much national prosperity. Civilization indeed seems to have attained, in many instances its perfection, but the machine was wound up to its last turn of the wheel, the pressure of our population was everywhere felt. How this was to be alleviated, whether by raising our resources or restraining our population, might be a matter of discussion amongst economists: but in either case, forethought, and moderation and activity, and intelligence,—habits which education only could produce,—were confessedly indispensable. Nor was this all: there was another social change, more powerful, perhaps, in its influence than either of the preceding. The Reform Bill was now law—the country had its legislation—therefore, its destinies were in its own hands. Parliament had consecrated the right, and admitted the exercise of self-government, to its lowest detail. They could not stop at the thresh-hold of Parliament. They must carry it down to corporations, to common juries, to parochial meetings: every citizen must in turn be governor and governed. These were functions to be exercised well, or not to be intrusted at all. Precisely in proportion to such exercise, was the good order or confusion, the health or ill case of the community. Would they, then, trust to chance such causes and consequences? For the discharge of such high and difficult duties, would mere good intentions suffice? The very day the Legislature passed the Reform Bill, it bound itself by a solemn moral compact to provide for the proper working of the measure; otherwise it conferred upon the country, not a blessing, but a curse. And how was it possible the measure should work well, with such instruments to work it with, as an ignorant population? They might as well trust fire-arms to the hands of a child. Parliamentary Reform he boldly asserted, had rendered Education Reform indispensable. Every hour it was delayed, detracted from that great gift. The passing generation might not be within their power, but they were still masters of the future; young England was in their hands; they could still determine what should be her character and her history; and if such were their power, what must be their responsibility? Upon them it depended who should be the future benefactors or criminals of their country. But, in asserting the necessity of rigorously attending to the education of the country at such a moment as the present, "are you quite sure," he might be asked "that education is at any time necessary, or even useful to the people?" He should not detain the House with that futile question; it was only amazing it had ever been listened to, or even started in that House. Those who stood forward in its support were the best refutation of the paradox themselves. But folly had been praised ere this, and there was no absurdity so monstrous, which might not find its fond or fantastic abettors. On what did their argument rest? On false data, erroneous assumptions, on conclusions which they could not believe, on which they would be sorry to act. The criminal returns of France, even on the shewing of Guerry, were no evidence against a sound system of education; on the shewing of Dupin they were strongly ill favor of it; so also were those of Prussia, if they were to believe Dr. Julius; of Belgium if they were to believe Mounier; of Spain if they were to believe Laborde; and even those of England and Ireland, (and need he add Scotland), notwithstanding all the contortions to which they had been subjected, were no less proof, that crime retreated before instruction, and that if it had not retreated more rapidly than it hitherto had done, it was solely because instruction had not begun sufficiently soon, been sufficiently good, or sufficiently applicable, to the individual place or time for which it was intended. They set about educating, in general, when miseducation had already set in—they took the grownup boy and not the plastic infant—they had to undo, afar more difficult task, than to do—they carried on the process which ought to be purely mental, by purely mechanical means, with some knowledge of slates, desks and primmers, it was true, but with little or none of the science of mind, that was, without the only knowledge, absolutely indispensable to our purpose—they educated but half the being, gave him an intellectual without a moral, or a moral education without an intellectual, or a miserable smattering of both. They made him a reading, writing, and counting machine, whom God designed for a thinking, feeling, acting fellow man—they gave him precisely what he did not want, and refused him precisely what he did; making the artisan a Latin scholar, and the labourer a pothouse politician; and when they had effected this, and gone on for years and years,—and for generation after generation, effecting it, they suddenly turned round, amazed, that the thorn produced sloes, and consoled their self-love with invectives against education; whereas if they were not ignorant as well as vain, they ought to direct their indignation against their own utter indolence and incapacity, and endeavour to correct their awkwardness, instead of discarding the instrument they had so grossly misapplied. The great point, then, was, not whether they were to have education, but of what kind that education was to be. Knowledge, in itself was neither good nor evil; it was the application of knowledge which determined either. In this matter it was absolutely necessary they should decide. People seemed to think that, because they did not educate, no education is going on; but did they know what education meant? Every thing was education; every one, in reference to the young mind, was more or less, an educator. Sit as neutral and as idle as they pleased, the child was still educating, in one way or other, and at every instant before their eyes. But, of what kind was this edu- cation? Let them go into the alleys, fetid with the disease and vice of our luxurious capitals,—let them go into the gin-palaces,—into the crowded factories, and there they would find an appalling answer. He who did not entirely and extensively educate would suffer miseducation to go on, when he might prevent it; and, so far, virtually miseducates. He was guilty of the guilt, and author of the misery which every where festered around him. Could the patriot endure—dared the Christian permit that? What more important question, then, to the conscientious man, than what really constitutes a good or bad system of national education? Schools were not good education, nor were books, nor boards, nor inspectors, nor grants, good education; they were but machinery,—the means—that by which good education might be propagated and perpetuated. He cared not so much what the canal was, as what the canal carried. What number of schools were established, but what the schools taught. How was he to know whether it were rank poison, or the bread of life, they were bestowing all this while? Until they were sure of that, they had no right to bestow it at all. The increase of schools, if the schools be bad, was the increase only of evil; instead of being a matter of joy, it was and ought to be, a matter of grief and reproach. The first thing to be done, then was to assure themselves of this goodness,—that done, it became a merit, a duty to extend the schools as widely as possible. But of what use to extend them, unless it was also provided that they should last? The better and more numerous they were, the more important. These three points embraced in his mind, all the conditions of a good system of national education. It was here that machinery became useful. They looked for means to obtain with facility and certainty, the point which, without such means, they should attain with difficulty or not at all. What, then, were those means? Was national education to be left to the Government or to itself? Was there to be system or no system? Which of the two principles, the directive or voluntary was the best? This question might be argued for ever, by taking the extremes; but it was the very mode of arguing it he would avoid. He would not give education altogether into the hands of the Government, much less would he leave it altogether to itself, There was a middle term, where neither the people nor Government monopolized or usurped, but where both might usefully combine. And why should they not combine? Did they not do so everyday? What was police, what public works, charitable institutions, but a series of similar combinations? Was all this a solecism, an evil, a public wrong? Why not leave also these great national objects, as well as education, to find their level? Why not leave them to the ordinary laws of demand and supply? But the fact was, there was no analogy between the case of education and other markets. Our moral wants were not regulated like our physical. The less food the more we hunger for it; the less education, the less appetite for education we feel. Nor was it quite true either, in the material world that supply always followed demand; it very often created, and should in many cases precede it. Canals had as often produced commerce, as commerce produced canals. The whole of the argument had arisen from too precipitate a generalization of Adam Smith's views of bounties and prohibitions. Facts too were against it. Were he called on to point out the precise spots where public education in every respect was the most flourishing, assuredly he should direct them to those very countries where the directive system was most, and the voluntary least, in vogue? But the chief difficulty remained—how to regulate this combination. What share was Government to have, and what the people, in contributions, powers, and duties? He answered that question by another. On what principle did they combine! They united for mutual assistance. The Government could do some things better than the people, the people, again, many other things better than the Government. Let each do, what it could do best. The Government could impel, enlighten, and control; the people could aid and maintain. Let the duties and powers, then, of each be regulated by this simple principle: let the Government provide and extend a good system of education to all the people, (it was the Government of all,) and let all the people, in return, support and perpetuate such a system when provided. Such a system had never yet existed in Ireland. She had never had a national education composed of such elements. Her education had not been for all; it had not been under the direction of the Government; it had not been maintained by the sympathies of the people. It had been a mere machine for the maintenance of Protestantism and oligarchy—fetters to bind the mind, as there were statutes to bind the arms of the country. Yet once in Ireland there were great and good foundations for a noble structure. He should not insist on their early literary glories, though he might well summon a whole line of English writers to bear testimony to the early solicitude of the nation for instruction. Bede, in the seventh century, noticed the number of Saxons, who came over, in crowds, to Ireland, and who, as William of Malmsbury observed, were not only most willingly received, but maintained at the public charge, supplied with books, and taught without office or reward. Spenser admits that Ireland had the use of letters long before England. "To Ireland," according to Littleton, "England chiefly owed her knowledge." Many Saxons out of England resorted thither for instruction, and brought back the use of letters to their ignorant countrymen. "Ireland," says Bayle "has given the most distinguished professors to the most famous Universities in Europe." He might have added, in many cases, they had been the founders. "It was," he continues, as the historians of the time declare, the most civilized country in Europe; the nursery of the sciences, &c., &c." Were these eulogies unsupported by fact? The monasteries of Lindisfarne,—the great college of Mayo,—"the Mayo" as it was called "of the Saxons," dedicated to the exclusive use of English students, who at one time amounted to no fewer than 2,000, but which, on its rebuilding in 1830, by the English, was prohibited from receiving Irishmen—Borrishole, surrounded with forty literary institutions,—were all so many illustrative evidences of the intellectual activity and literary munificence of the nation. What, then, had become of those institutions? What! Ask those who expelled the teachers, burnt the books, ruined the buildings—ask those who civilized Ireland, they would give you the answer. But England and Protestantism gave, it was said, large and wide compensations—the parochial and diocesan schools. Both were due to Catholicity and Ireland. The right hon. Baronet who made such assertions, some nights ago, seemed not to have known, or to have forgotten that this very system had existed from the thirteenth century, and still existed in almost every Catholic country in Europe. The council of Lyons, in 1245, decreed "that in all cathedral churches and others provided with adequate revenues, there should be established a school and teacher by the bishop and chapter, who should teach the clerks and other poor scholars gratis, in grammar, and that for this purpose should be assigned to him a prebend." This injunction was further extended by one of the General Councils of Lateran, and finally confirmed in its 23rd Session by the Council of Trent. This was the origin of popular education throughout Europe. There were strong traces of it in England, and still stronger in Scotland. The parochial schools date from an ancient Act of the Scotch Parliament, a transcript of the old canon law, and not as Dr. Chalmers supposes, from the later law of William, or the gradual innovation of the Reformation. The Reformation adopted them, as it did many other Catholic institutions—they were preserved but not created. The law of 28 Henry 8th, c. 15, indeed, bore internal evidence of this origin;—telling "beades in English," is coupled with literary instruction. By that law, the popular education was not for the first time established, but sanctioned by the new ecclesiastical authority instead of the old. The statute, almost a copy of the canon, directs every Archbishop and Bishop to give a corporal oath to every person on his admission to any dignity, benefice, office, or promotion spiritual; that he shall, to his wit and cunning, endeavour himself to learn, instruct, and teach the English tongue to all and every being under his rule; to be, and keep, or cause to be kept, within the place, territory, or parish, where he shall have preeminence, rule, benefice, or promotion, a school to learn English; if any children of his parish came to him to learn the same, taking for the keeping of the said school such convenient stipend as in the said land accustomably used to be taken. Archbishops and Bishops, omitting to give the said oath are to forfeit 3l. 6s. 8d., and beneficed clergymen not observing it, to forfeit 6s. 8d. for the first offence, and 20s. for the second, and their benefice for the third. Here, then, was quite as good a basis for a system of parochial education, as that which existed in Scotland: in both countries it lay in the hands of the clergy. How came it that it produced such very different results? Oaths, fines, laws, were ineffectual in Ireland; the whole scheme failed: in Scotland it took root and flourished. The reason is clear. The system in Scotland was national; in Ireland it was not. The schools were English—the people Irish:—the schools became Protestant—the people remained Catholic. It was not education, but proselytism: it began by attempting to proselytise to England; it now continues to proselytise to Protestantism. The supply was there, but no one came for it; the demand diminishing, the supply soon fell off. There were no scholars, and soon no masters. Parochial schools were dispensed with in many cases—the Statute, itself, despised as "obsolete, impracticable, superstitious;" but the oath was still taken, and the tithe, though subject to such condition, retained. Neither penalty nor forfeiture was enforced:—the Bishops who were the persons to enforce it, were co-partners in the offence. The Bishops achieved, on a larger scale, in the instance of diocesan schools, what each of their beneficed clergy achieved on a smaller. Burdens and duties imposed upon them both by law and religion, they contrived gradually to shift from their own shoulders to those of the laity,—as in the case of charity and church repairs, so also in that of education, the obligation was forgotten, but the funds given for its performance were kept. The laity had thus to pay twice over for the same thing: both payments heavy, and the duty ill-performed after all. Had the Protestant clergy of Ireland been more tenacious of their oaths, and less of their resources, like the Lutheran clergy of Russia and Weimar, or the Presbyterians of Scotland, it would not now have been necessary to call upon Parliament for a 35,000l. grant, nor to mourn over the immense cost and injurious results of most of the education systems of Ireland. This, however, was not their object; the object of the Church, and therefore of the State, which was but its servile instrument, was not education, but submission. Not only did they shut up their own schools, but they would allow no other. From William 3rd. down to George 3rd. knowledge was almost as much interdicted to the Papist as liberty. Catholics not only were not permitted to endow schools, but parents were not permitted to educate their own children. It was penal to give them education abroad; it was penal to give them education at home, unless it came from the Protestant clergy. As in Scotland, so in Ireland, zeal for popular education was ascribed to the Reformation; but in neither case was this correct. Such as it was, it both betrayed the hand, and bore the license stamp of the task-master. But this was but one stain in a statute of blood,—not of blood only, but of cruelty far beyond blood. It found where the soul chiefly lay, got at it, and attempted to crush it there. If the son became a Protestant, he could gavel his father's estate. Well; the object of these Protestant schools was to make him a Protestant. Now see how all this worked for the social and moral improvement of the nation. Take a father, weak enough to rely on the faith of these institutions for which he paid,—sending his son to one of these schools, the old inheritance of the nation—fearful of the laws, but still more fearful of ignorance—and awaiting with impatience his return. The child of his old age—loving and beloved at parting, came back with another creed and another heart—corrupted by the very law itself, the guardian of domestic duty and public morality—despising his father, envying his brother—grasping in thought already the bribe which the State, the Church—a Christian Church—held up to his avidity. These things seldom occurred,—but only, because they were seldom risked. The parent, who after one example of the kind, could send his child to such a school, instituted to teach rebellion to parents, hatred to brothers, was no parent; he deserved the retribution of despised grey-hairs, and unsupported old age brought down in sorrow to the grave. Now, if he took the alternative, and educated abroad, was the grievance less intolerable? Picture to yourselves his son outstripping all competitors in some foreign University; returning home crowned with every literary honour; and met, on his first landing on his native shores, not with the congratulations of his country, but with the brand and punishment of a criminal. Yet with all this, Protestantism did not increase, Catholics did not diminish—the only effect the system had was to destroy or pervert education. If it gave any, it was miseducation: to the Protestant, the education of an arrogant master; to the Catho- lic—of an indigent slave. This "national education," as it was preposterously called, this "national religion," not more national than the education, which was its handmaid, was to civilize each, and it barbarized both. Empty cathedrals and ruinous schools were its monuments; a coterie instead of a church, and a corporation assuming the name of a country, were its administrators. In the reign of Anne and of the Georges, the evil was somewhat seen; but was it remedied? Far from it; on the rulers of the country went, in the same blindness, flinging the blame on the people, which should only be visited on themselves—attempting to remedy what was irremediable, and to perform what was impracticable. The 8th Geo. 1st. empowered Bishops and Dignitaries to grant two acres, if a Bishop, and, if others, one, of glebe-land, for Protestant schools. The 5th Geo. 2nd. c. 4, gave similar power to tenants in fee-tail or for life, to grant to churchwardens for ever, one acre of 30s. yearly value, "for the use of a resident schoolmaster, to teach the English tongue to such children of poor Papists and all others as would resort to the same." But did the Catholics resort to these schools, or were there others to take their place? He begged the attention of the House to the application for the Charter-schools, which followed soon after. It declared, in very express terms, "that in the provinces of Leinster, Munster, and Con-naught, the Papists far exceeded the Protestants, of all denominations, in numbers;" that there were great tracts of land entirely inhabited by Papists; that they were kept by their clergy in great ignorance of true religion; and that the creating of Protestant English schools in those places was absolutely necessary for their conversion; that the English parish schools already established were not sufficient for the purpose, nor did the residence of the Protestant clergy fully answer that end. "That it was necessary, therefore, that some other place of education might be found," &c. &c. But why did it not answer its end?—and, not answering, why did not the State resume the emoluments, with its functions, into its own hands? Instead of altering the system, the State deigned not even to inquire into it—it attempted to remedy old blunders by adding new. The English parish schools were declared insufficient; the clergy, instead of being compelled to make them sufficient, were allowed to throw themselves on the State. The laity were to be taxed for the defalcation of the Church—the Parliament had to pay masters for duties which the clergy had sworn to perform. This was a monstrous pretension;—monstrous as it was, it was acceded to. The Charter-school system was established—the first instance of the interference of the State. Instead, however, of taking the funds and duties at once into its own hands, it abdicated its power,—it instituted new societies, as auxiliaries to the Church, from the taxes of the people, supported with buttresses which it ought to have taken down—and still called the system "national." The Charter-school system was ultra-fanatic—it was formed for the purpose; it out-churched the Church; it was determined to educate outright into Protestantism, and carry the nation by a coup de main. No longer waiting for the slow coming-in of the refractory, it tore the child from its mother's lap, changed the name, broke the links of its existence, and, creating orphanship in the life-time even of the parent, made it an alien in its home, poisoned the charities in their very source, and shook society to its very centre. If, amongst the rich, this cruel charity for "the souls of the poor benighted creatures," as a Pharisee of the day called them, created rebellious sons, amongst the poor it did worse—it deprived parents altogether of their children. Yet, for a long time this system was said to flourish; miracles were recounted of its grace and efficacy; Popery was supposed to be at its last gasp, and the great object fully effected;—yet years went on, and the Catholics were, still, millions. The Charter-schools contented themselves with the wages, and gave up the labour of the vineyards: they lost all energy, and preserved only the bigotry of their formation: unheeded and unwatched, they soon fell into a lethargy. In a short time there were no scholars but victims or renegades; no masters but profligates and sinecurists. To inquire was to accuse; the slightest complaint was an impeachment of Protestantism. Why should he detain the House with dwelling on their atrocities, on the cruelty of the teachers, the ignorance and immorality of the scholars; on the horrors of the schools of Sligo, Lisburne, and hundreds of others. 1,500,000l. was lavished on an infamous bubble: the cost of each child was nearly 20l. per annum, and of each apprentice 30l., yet pupils, it was complained, were not to be had, and no one would take their apprentices. In any other country but Ireland it could not be believed that the voice of a Howard, crying aloud against such a social monster, should cry in vain. Yet he, and others like him, were not heard by the adder's ears of a corrupt Church and a venal Parliament. It was not till 1825 that the full light of day, broad and blazing, was let in on its atrocities. In that year Parliament instituted proceedings against its administrators, and solemnly declared "the evil was so monstrous it could not be corrected." The Parliament was a Tory, a Protestant, a Church-ridden, and Church-protecting Parliament; yet this education still continued to be called "national." The Charter system failed, and new "national" societies were called in, or rose up, to supply its place. The Association for the Suppression of Vice first appeared; it adopted a new tactique—the suavitèr in modo for the first time was added to the fortitèr in re. They could not take Popery by assault; circumvallation and mining were substituted; yet all was still Protestant; Protestant books, Protestant catechisms, Protestant preachers, and Protestant patrons. This was another specimen of "nationalising" instruction for a nation of Catholics. A host of similar joint-stock companies, for the curing of Catholic souls, rather than the instruction of Catholic minds—the Baptist, Hibernian, and others succeeded, terminating, at last, in the Kildare Place Society. It was not to be expected he should abuse the patience of the House with details of these, or other similarly formed, societies. Suffice it to say, the old system, though mitigated, still prevailed throughout. Always working in a corporation spirit, jobbing on the public necessities, fulfilling, very inadequately, their own ostentatious promises of success, they were totally inadequate to supply the enormous deficiencies of former systems. The Church had transferred its powers and duties to these educating clubs; it was now found necessary to transfer them anew from these educators to the Government. In 1819, the Lord-Lieutenant was empowered to advance money for building of schools under certain conditions, to voluntary subscribers. The form of proceeding was, in some particulars, objectionable. Application was to be made, by memorial, to the Lord-Lieutenant. The memorial was to be referred to Commissioners, who, on obtaining answers to queries as to the quantity of land proposed to be given for the school, the number of pupils, the cost of building, made grants to perpetual trustees (the Protestant minister and churchwarden of the parish), for the purpose. Here again was proselytism, with great difficulty of fulfilling the conditions, far too heavy and complicated, conjoined. The results, as might have been anticipated, were trifling. In this state lay education, when the Kildare Place Society arose. Its first manifesto indicated a wonderful softening of the old Protestantism spirit. It was at length openly avowed, that proselytism was a vain attempt. The Report set out with stating, that they had applied their efforts to the framing of "a system which, whilst it should afford the opportunities of education to every description of the lower classes of the people, might, at the same time, by keeping clear of all interference with the particular religious tenets of any, induce the whole to receive its benefits as one undivided body under one and the same system, and in the same establishment." Nothing could be better. Had such manifesto been adhered to, the Catholics, who at first crowded their schools, would have continued to crowd them still. How much a contrary conduct was pursued, it is surely unnecessary, after so many and such prolonged discussions, to remind this House. But, were the leaven of the old sectarian spirit perfectly expelled, he should still question whether the constitution of the body was not radically defective. It was a society unconnected with the Government, and collaterally only under its control. It was a great mistake not to have at once thrown aside all these companies, and formed, without further delay, a board,—national in the fullest sense of the word, linked with the executive on one side, and with the people on the other; but private interest, or mistaken prudence, prevailed. The Commissioners of 1812 (Twelfth Education Report) suggested another course. It was thought right, in order to try the experiment just noticed, to make a Parliamentary grant to an institution already in existence, rather than appoint a new Board for the purpose, as if innovation, and not the adaptation of the machinery to the purposes intended, was the point in question. The grant was made on this suggestion, and no sooner made, than principles conceded in the programme, and hitherto kept in the back ground, began to develope themselves. The Bible was required to be read without note or comment. The Catholics interpret the sacred writings on authority—the Protestants on private judgment. Here, then, was put to issue the cardinal demarcating tenet between the two great denominations. The usual evils of societies now followed. Patrons interfered—private feelings, sectarian hatreds, political animosities, sprung up. Compromises were, indeed, attempted by the Catholic clergy, but they failed. New violations of the primary rules constantly took place. Like all other preceding societies, it at last became, though under a mitigated form, proselytising. The New Reformation, then in its march, added fresh virulence to the quarrel,—the people, alarmed, drew off,—the Society was, comparatively left to itself,—education, as of old, became confined to a party,—the ancient evil was revived,—the public money was given to a section of the State,—and the great mass of the nation still continued without a "national education." Yet, all this time it must not be supposed that education had made no progress: much was done by the very obstacles which opposed it,—much by the times,—much by the Society itself. The mechanical portion of education was advanced—schools were built—books published—teachers, as it was called, "trained." More important than all, men began to think of education,—abuses were hinted at,—inquiry calmly, but surely, went on. The Commission on Irish education conferred an invaluable benefit on the country—it cleared away the rubbish of the old structures, and shewed how a new structure might be raised. The Committee of 1824, still more precise, determined a plan,—the Catholic hierarchy almost unanimously seconded it; their joint recommendations were repeated in the Report of the Committee of this House in 1830, of which his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was chairman. Yet all these inquiries, all these recommendations, all these solicitations, were neutralized, eluded, and opposed by the mole-eyed, anti-national policy of the then Government. The old machinery, rickety as it was, was continued; it was urged that this Protestant education ought to be accepted by a Catholic population; as if in any question of a delicate and difficult nature it was sufficient to say "ought." You might offer to sell, but you could not force others to buy. A system must be acceptable, to induce people to accept. The failure of the Kildare Place Society proceeded from a total ignorance of the state of Ireland, and of the laws of mind. It really refused, whilst it affected to give; it deferred education to a period which was likely never to occur,—till the nation became Protestant. Such a system was not national,—for such a system the nation had no right to pay. But it was sufficient to destroy; we had a more difficult task imposed on us—to build up. The failure of the Kildare Place Society, however, not only decided what should be done, but also how to do it. They had to take things as they really were, to educate not for some visionary contingent state of the country, but for the living actual man. They had to get rid of joint-purse converting societies, private patronage, and oligarchical pretensions, and reinstate the nation in its original rights: to make education popular, it must be an education for the people. Hitherto there had been no national education; but there was no good reason why there should not be. He for one, could never see any circumstance which should forbid the experiment. He had scarcely been honoured with a seat in this House when he made efforts to put his conviction into practice; not only to act up to the recommendations of 1824 and 1830, but to go far beyond them. He drew up a series of queries in February 1831, relative to a most extensive plan of education,—an education in every sense "national," and addressed them to the Catholic Prelates, and to several of the most distinguished members of the Protestant and Presbyterian communions. The answers received were, with few exceptions, perfectly consonant to his views. He brought in the Bill to which he had already referred, embodying a portion of those views, in September; and as he had stated, Mr. Stanley,—originally opposed to the arrangement,—addressed, in the October following, instructions enforcing many of its provisions to the Duke of Leinster; and with a spirit which, considering the difficulties he had to contend with even in his own department, did him high honour, established at once the existing Board. The experiment had been, as he had already observed, satisfactory; but the defects existing at its formation existed still; above all, it still retained its temporary character, it was still no more than an experiment. The object of his Bill was to remove the defects, to extend the powers, and finally to render the operations sure, and the duration permanent. But he went beyond this,—he began with elementary,—but he extended his views to a reform of every other class of, education—from elementary to superior. This might appear an ambitious attempt far beyond the powers of any single individual, much less of so humble a one as himself. Perhaps so; but there was no harm in tracing a broad and consistent plan. Harmony was a matter of great importance, and when once a just principle was established, the working it out into its details was comparatively a matter of little difficulty. He proposed, in the first instance, to recognise the directive principle, to establish a Board of National Education in Dublin. The construction of this Board should be as impartial as possible. It should be composed, therefore, of various persuasions, professions, and interests. The Protestant and Catholic Archbishops, and a clergyman of the Presbyterian body, should constitute the clerical—five other Members, one from each of the four provinces of Ireland, and one from Dublin, the lay portion of the body. This had nearly been effected in the organization of the existing Board. It required only the addition of a Member from Ulster to complete the lay Members. If it were right that the minister should have a council, it was not less right that the Council should have a responsible Minister for its head. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, for the time being, ought to be its President, and thus ex officio the Minister of Public Instruction for Ireland. He would give the appointment of the Members to the Lord-Lieutenant. He had considered maturely that question; and there was less difficulty in vesting it in his hands than leaving it to election of the people, or to election of the Board itself. Ireland, divided as it is, would send in partisans to a body, which, of all other bodies in Ireland, would require calmness and impartiality. Entering the Board itself, it would ultimately convert the Board into a close cor- poration. He saw no just ground for apprehension of an increase of Government Patronage. This was not the day of prerogative. In a free country the Government was really the servant of the country. If the representative body were truly such, and there was placed under its control all the great departments of the State, their power might be increased at pleasure, for it only increased the efficiency of the organs and instruments of the people. He feared not, therefore, to give this body all powers necessary for the ends for which it is instituted,—requiring from them duties conducive to these ends, and subjecting them to the strictest inspection and control of Parliament. The end of these institutions was, to improve, extend, and permanently secure education.—One of these objects, without the other two, would not be sufficient. Extend instruction as he had already said, without improving it, and you extend an evil; if good, and not extended, its benefits were trifling; if extended, and liable to change or interruption, it cheated the public with a mere illusion. To effect these purposes the Board should be empowered to purchase land, to build school-houses, houses for teachers, and all buildings necessary thereto; to annex land for play-ground, gardens for teachers, and agricultural instruction for scholars, to outfit with all articles necessary for teaching, books, collections, &c. &c. All these expenses should fall exclusively on the Board. By the present system, no school can be founded, or aid granted by the Board, unless on the specific condition of the parish furnishing, for the first outlay, one-third, at least, of the expense. He was aware, that in Prussia, the system was carried further, and the parish furnished the entire; a duty, performed on the contrary, by the Church in Weimar; but this precedent ought not to weigh against the positive inconvenience. Many parishes were too poor to furnish a large present outlay in money; and what happened? They either remained without a school, or the money was advanced by some rich individual, who repaid himself in patronage (and patronage of the most injurious kind too), for what he had momentarily lent to the parish. He wished to rescue the people from wearing the livery of any man; and to convince them, that whatever they had, it was thoroughly and for ever their own. The objections against such arrangement, on the ground of the expense entailed on the State, were futile. The expense ceased with the purchase of the land, and building, and outfit of the school, and must, therefore, diminish every year; and, finally, very nearly terminate altogether. A large proportion of schools were already established; purchases of schools might be made in some districts at a slight expense; the Board providing the land obviated all chances of litigation, so incidental to the actual trustee system; it prevented the selection of bad sites, so common at present; building the school ensured a cheap and a good model, and fitting it out, that the parish would always begin with a proper type of what a school ought to be, before them. It must also be remembered, that the Board would be exempted from payment of teachers—another great reduction, not only of expenses, but of business; it was necessary to keep open an account, on the present system, very frequently, with the teachers of schools under the jurisdiction of the Board. These provisions would enable the Board to extend education as generally as it might be desired, and would give ample assurance for its continuance when so extended. A more important consideration was the giving a high and useful character to education. This object embraced two considerations—the providing a good code of education, a judicious regulation for the management and instruction of the schools, and proper instruments by which those regulations might be put in practice. He proposed that the Board should draw up such regulations, within a specific period, to be submitted to Parliament and published generally throughout the country. He would give them power, also, under certain restrictions, of modifying and altering the regulations as might be found requisite. It would be out of the range of an Act of Parliament to embrace one-twentieth part of such regulations, nor did such appear to him to be its legitimate province. The French code of 1834 had gone too far, perhaps, in that particular; but the French code, full and detailed as it is, had already acquired a great number of supplementary ordonnances and circulars from the Government. He conceived that in constituting this, like every other department, it would be sufficient to give ample powers, and leave their exercise subject to the control of Parliament. Hence, both in this Bill, as well as in the former, he omitted all regulations in respect to religion. He was in consequence accused, by no very judicious or impartial inquirers into the matter, with a total indifference to the subject. Had they taken pains to read the preamble even of the Bill, they would have found that, in that very part which was supposed most sacredly and strongly to embody its principle, he had solemnly consecrated the principle, that all education should repose on religion—an institution without that might lead to knowledge, but it could not lead to virtue. The tree of good or evil should not be separated from the tree of life. He was sensible, also, that in a country like ours, circumstances and localities must guide in a matter so very delicate. Prussia had, with punctilious attention, considered the religious feelings of even the smallest sect amongst her subjects; so also had France. There were Protestant schools and Catholic schools, and mixed schools; schools, in fine, for every class of feeling, as well as of individuals. The instruments for communicating education, were teachers and books. These were the especial province, the highest province, of an enlightened body like the Board. To think of diffusing instruction without instructors, was beginning, like the philosophers of Laputa, from the roof. You might build schools, but you would not give education. The usual mode of selecting at present is by examination. But Scotland was a proof how little that could be relied on. Cramming, a glib tongue, and bold nerves might introduce, as they had done, blockheads into the seat of modest and timid Learning. As to certificates, they were as proverbial for falsehood as any other species of puffing. A previous course, well digested, well pursued, would guard against that. A dunce could not play the clever man for four years, though he might for four hours, without discovery. Teachers' schools, education schools, not training schools, (for that sounds technical and mechanical; the manual exercise of instruction) should be established, directed, and maintained by the Board. It was apprehended that this might produce too great a uniformity, and degenerate into a monopoly. That would be a serious evil. He had as earnest a desire as any man to preserve entire the perfect freedom of education. Its action should in no wise be hampered either by bounty or prohibition. A leviathan, all-absorbing education company would only be a manufacturer of slaves and fools. He would guard, therefore, against a pernicies barathrumque as much as he could. Cases might arise where teachers' schools might be conducted by individuals, or courses, for the same purpose annexed to Universities. Either would undoubtedly promote the great general purposes of education—each should be encouraged. One of these cases had come within his own personal knowledge. A gentleman, distinguished not merely for his high literary and scientific attainments, but still more for his long experience and true views on education, (Dr. Bryce, of Belfast) had long desired to establish in the institution on which he conferred such honour, by being its head, a regular course, based on what alone it should repose, the science of mind. He (Mr. Wyse) applied to the Government for a grant of 2,000l. for the purpose, repayable by tickets, to such teachers as Government might think proper to select for the course. The course was most ample, in point of time and studies, and would soon have raised up a body of teachers in the country superior to those who owe so much to Professor Pillans and Mr. Wood, in Scotland. His colleagues offered, in the noblest manner, their assistance. There was no doubt of success if the experiment had been tried. Government, after solicitations, I must say, the most zealous, seconded by names the very highest of which the cause of education could boast, refused and continued, to refuse, on the ground that the Board had not and have not the powers for the purpose. He proposed to give them such powers of aid whenever such a case as the one instanced should present itself. He would go further—and admit to the examinations for place of teacher such as had been educated at any such school, or had attended such courses; and would enjoin the publication of their names in a list of approved candidates once a year, that the country at large might be acquainted with their merits, and know whom and how to select. But students for such profession could not be expected unless the profession itself were first raised, he would place it on a par with the other learned professions; and would make it a fourth learned profession, if possible. But that could not be done, unless it were made respectable. He would give the Board power to promote; to reward with honorary and other distinctions; to ensure retiring pensions; and, in certain cases, to extend them to the families of the teachers. The salaries conferred by the parish guaranteed their independence; the school-fees paid by the children would stimulate their exertions. He would leave the appointment of teachers, where it ought to be, in the hands of the Board. The people might be judges of moral character, they were no judges of competency. All opinions of that kind must be taken second-hand, and then was opened a field to intrigue, despotism, and servility. Books also should be provided for the people, though not forced on them. Prizes should be given by the Board for the production of good books. They were not below the highest intellect in the country. A more noble spectacle could not be conceived than to see the great lights of the age bending down to shew the way to these "little ones," and difficult was the task. It might well put to proof the prowess of the boldest. In that particular England was in arrear, though recent efforts shewed that it was becoming sensible of it. Look to Germany—look to France; their school-libraries abounded with a profusion of excellent works: look even to America; why were they unknown to us—why were they not ours also—why had we not as good, or better? The Board should establish in each school—its school, and teachers, and parochial library. It could be done, he spoke from experience, for the sum of 15l. to 20l. He would not only extend, thus, the education of the child beyond the threshold of the school, but he would make it an instrument for the education of the parent, and a stimulant to watch over the education of the child. The library should be open to all families whose children were in daily attendance at the school. To enforce the whole of these regulations, the Board should appoint inspectors—a Catholic and a Protestant in each province—and should see that they reported twice a-year; in like manner the Board should report to Parliament. Such were the powers and duties he proposed for the Board. He would next turn to the people. The province of the people would be, to contribute and maintain. When the Board might wish to found a school in any particular parish, he proposed that it should transmit to the parish, through the clergyman, magistrates, &c., a proposal to build and outfit such school, &c. &c., provided the parish, on its part, should consent to assess itself for the payment of the teacher, the repairs of the buildings, and the daily and incidental charges of the school. The parish on meeting (the Bill would specify minutely the qualifications of the voters, mode of meeting, &c.,) to assent to, or dissent from, the proposal of the Board. If assented to, it was to be levied on such parish by the grand jury collector on the opening of the school; notice was to be transmitted to the Board, and the Board would complete the work. On its completion the parish should elect a school committee, of which the Protestant, Catholic, and Presbyterian clergymen, the senior magistrate and physician, of the parish, were to be permanent members—the rest to be elected from the rate-payers, and removable once a-year. Should the parish wish to establish a school, it would have to address a memorial, either through the clergyman or the magistrate, to the Board, which thereupon, would be required to send down a proposal, on which the parish would proceed as just stated. These powers given to the parishes were intended to produce a general and permanent interest in the school. He did not mean, however, to exclude the power of granting aid, under certain restrictions, in the establishment of schools He would provide for such cases in every possible way. He meant to require, however, that whenever aid be granted, due security should be given for the payment of the teacher and maintenance of the school. Schools also already established, might under certain conditions, put themselves under the superintendence of the Board. Such was a wide outline of the plan he proposed for elementary education. But education must not stop there. The middle classes were if possible, more, in need of instruction, comparatively than the lower—in some cases they had, in consequence, scarcely the character of a Bible class at all. He would provide them, with their share of moral and intellectual food. The Board should be empowered, in the same manner as it was empowered to provide land, and build and fit out parochial schools for the parishes, to build and fit out academies for the counties provided the counties, like the parishes, consented to assess themselves, through their grand juries, for the payment of the teachers, and the annual support of the institutions. And pursuing still further this second grade of education, the same Board should have like power to found and fit out provincial colleges, provided, as was now done for our asylums, the counties composing these provinces would, as in the case of the academies, assess themselves for the support of the colleges. Thus, by degrees, thirty-two academies and four provincial colleges might be founded in Ireland. Nor let hon. Members be startled at the expense. There were commencements, at least, for the academies in the diocesan royal schools, and, for the provincial colleges, in the institutions of Cork and Belfast. Special education, which might be placed also in this grade was a matter more of interest to the particular profession, and the individuals who cultivated it, than to the Government and the people at large. He did not propose to adopt the same rule in regard to it that he had in the other; yet conditions of a similar nature might be made with the profession, which here would stand in lieu of the parish and the county—the Board making the outlay, the profession paying for the support. This, in the case of the Civil Engineer Department, would be especially desirable, if he might judge from the examinations lately held before the Board of Public Works. The education of engineers in a peculiar degree, concerned the public, and ought to be, in part at least, an object of public outlay, through the Board. The third grade, superior or University education, required more care. As the Universities were constituted, they could not, without exciting great hostility and resistance, be placed under the jurisdiction of any public Board; but as it was important they should be in relation with it, he saw no reason why, of their own accord, they might not constitute a council to communicate with the Board of education or give power for that purpose to the University Board which now exists. Another more material point was, the nationalising the University, and putting it in harmony with other portions of the national system, which could only be done by enlarging the present University, or founding a new one. The fellowships, for the most part, being Ecclesiastical, could not be thrown open to all persuasions, but an additional number of lay fellowships might be founded, to which as to the Professorships, Catholic and other Dissenters, as well as Protestants, might be eligible, and the scholarships to which no such objections exist, should be open to all communions alike. If this should not be practicable, why not found a second University? When the present one was first established, the nation did not exceed 1,000,000; it was now 8,000,000. Germany, with 30,000,000 inhabitants, had twenty Universities, the Netherlands have six, Scotland five, Ireland one. Cromwell thought of erecting a second one at Athlone. Was it less necessary now? The last grade of education to which he should advert, was supplementary and subsidiary. By the first, he meant that description of education which supplied the want of early culture, such as adult schools, mechanics' institutes, &c.; by the second, he understood all that contributed to continue or improve education already acquired, such as literary and scientific institutions, learned and other societies, museums, galleries, &c. He would deal with these precisely in the same way as with elementary and parochial education, The Board should make the entire outlay, provided the town or city assessed itself in a certain stipulated sum for their support. This expense to the State would, like that of parochial and other schools, be limited, and constantly diminishing, but it would effectually extend such establishments to every town in the land. He had followed one principle throughout, modifying it only as circumstances required. It was not to be supposed that he hoped to achieve even a small portion of this plan for some time, but he thought it incumbent on him to place the whole at once frankly before the House, that the Legislature might work one part in harmony with the other, and not do to-day what Penelope-like, it might be compelled to undo to-morrow. He should wish to divide his measure, if possible, into four Bills—a Bill for the Establishment of a Board of National Education, and three successive Bills—one for elementary—one for academical and collegiate—and finally, one for subsidiary education. Changes in the University were subjects more for an Address to the Crown. Circumstances, however, compelled him to combine the first Bill with the second. It was to introduce this, he asked leave of the House. Any measure for academical education would require some previous inquiry, and he had a notice to that effect (the one on diocesan schools), on the Older-book of the House. He had done, thanking the House for the indulgence with which it had listened to what, from the nature of the subject, he felt must have been comparatively tedious. He could scarcely do less, and wished he could do more. The more he had thought on it, the more deeply was he penetrated with the importance of the Question. Every day added to the conviction, that we had reached the point when a thorough and extensive Education Reform could no longer be deferred. If our political Reform was searching, so also should be this; our schools were not a jot less important than our Parliaments. If they had disfranchised and enfranchised in one, without any weak visitings of compunction for this man's prejudice or the other man's plunder, but with a steady eye to "right" only and the "public good," struck boldly onward for prosperity and the country, so also for a similar object should we advance with the same unflinching regard to her commonweal. Other countries were teaching us the lesson—we touched the mind and civilization of other nations on every side. Education Reform would come and conquer like every other. What was the folly of to-day, would be the wisdom of to-morrow. Men who now opposed, would wish to share, as in other Reforms, when the battle was over, and the victory was won; and when he turned to Ireland, had he reason to despair? Was there not some hope that the miserable phantasmagoria of Government with which she had, up to this hour, been deluded—would, at last, end? Up to this hour, with few exceptions, Secretary on Secretary had passed over Ireland, merely gleaning what his predecessor had left undevoured. What interest could men feel about a country which they only governed, he might say, by parenthesis, and merely to show with what small expenditure of trouble or knowledge Administrations might be kept in motion—and what an easy feat it was to ruin a country, and enrich an individual at the same time. A contemptible bureaucracy, an Aide-decamp coterie had been our Government. No new Governor could come in, but he was obliged to pay more attention to the balancing of parties, than to the government of the country—playing the chess-game of this man's fears against that man's hopes—managing his seat whilst he should be riding on. The result was natural—no man ever governed through such instruments, but was ultimately obliged to govern for them. Master in name, slave in reality—he had large powers for mischief, none for doing good. If he thought that such were to continue to be our government, he should despair, not of this Bill only, but of any measure which did not serve the pettifogging purpose of the day. An enlightened Minister must govern, as well as rule. Such an Administration must be incapable of either. He was resolved to do his duty; he had a strong faith in a righteous and great cause, and he could not believe that what ought to succeed, would be unsuccessful. In one word, it came to this—men will be educated, whether the Government liked or not. The only point was, how—or for what? That the House could determine; and the sooner, and the more thoroughly it determined, the better for every man, from the highest to the lowest in the country. He asked for leave to bring in, a Bill for the Establishment of a Board of National Education, and the advancement of Elementary Education in Ireland.

Mr. William S. O'Brien

seconded the Motion, and said the country would feel indebted to the hon. Member for Water-ford for being the first to lay before the House a national system of education. Every system of education now prevailing in this country was either formed by chance or owed its origin to the liberality of private individuals. No system was provided by the Government. In this respect England was far behind other countries, and we were obliged to go to foreign nations in order to get information, and to consult their experience on the subject. They had, it was true, a Board of Education in Ireland, but as yet its operation was partial and imperfect. He thought, however, that his hon. Friend ought to be encouraged in his efforts on this subject, and no one he believed would controvert him when he asserted that it was the bounden duty of England to provide a proper system of education for the people of Ireland. He was satisfied that the adoption of his hon. Friend's proposition would lead to the best possible results. His scheme was a noble and comprehensive one, and feeling convinced that it was calculated to raise the moral and social condition of the people, it should have his best support.

Lord Morpeth

said, that he could not pretend to follow the hon. Member for Waterford through either the official documents or details into which he had entered; neither would he express any opinion as to the efficacy of the Board which it was the intention of his measure to establish. It was not, however, his desire to throw any impediments in the way of the introduction of this Bill, although he regarded the hon. Gentleman's undertaking as rather an ambitious one; but in sanctioning the Motion to bring in the Bill, he did so in the hope that some useful suggestions might be found to be contained in it.

Mr. Shaw

said, that although he did not approve of the present system of Irish national education, and perhaps might not give his assent to the scheme of the hon. Member for Waterford, he still would offer no opposition to the present Motion. His opinion of the present system of the Board of Education in Ireland was, that it had neutralized rather than promoted the object which it was designed to accomplish. In all such cases, however, the great difficulty was to hit upon any plan of national education which would be satisfactory alike to all parties.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

though t it unadvisable to enter upon the discussion of the measure until it was fairly before the House, for how was it possible for them to judge either of its principles or details? It was not, of course, his intention to offer any resistance to the hon. Member for Water-ford's Motion; but with respect to what had fallen from his right hon. Friend (he hoped he would allow him to call him so) opposite, he must say that it was not a little singular that he should now disapprove of that which had received the approbation of his friends. The late Government proposed to do justice to the views of those by whom the present Board of Education in Ireland had been established; for not only had they expressed their intention of adopting the plan, but of extending it.

Mr. Sheil

said, that whatever colour the Irish Conservatives (of all Conservatives the most unqualified) might endeavour to give to the adoption by Sir Robert Peel's Government of the Education Commission, the facts were too stubborn, and too little capable of denial, to admit of the exercise of any evasive ingenuity on the part of those who now endeavoured to explain what they did not attempt during the late administration to advert to. The Irish Tories remained dumb when Sir Henry Hardinge announced that in the system of education introduced by the Whig Government, their Conservative successors would persevere—they sat in accommodating silence; office had struck them dumb, they exhibited a complaisant taciturnity, which, compared with their boisterous lamentations on the mutilation of the word of God, to which they had previously given loose, afforded proof of the facility with which their flexible consciences adapted themselves to the convenience of their political patrons. Justice, however, ought to be done the Irish Orangemen out of the House. The Evening Mail (while the Irish protegés of the Peel Government remained significantly silent) inveighed against the betrayal of the Protestant cause. Sir Henry Hardinge was denounced, and for the acquiescence of the Parliamentary champions of the Scriptures an ample compensation was made by the indignation of those over whom the Treasury had not exercised its tranquillizing sway. But he desired to avoid all criminatory retrospects. It was now clear that the Education Commission was to remain undisturbed.—Ireland, after a long struggle, had achieved the overthrow of the proselytising system—the people had overcome every obstacle; and as they had triumphed in that instance, so in every other, in which they were sustained by justice, they were sure to succeed. But although much had been done, much remained to be performed. The mere Education of the lower classes, and their instruction in reading and arithmetic, were not the only objects which a wise Government ought to propose to themselves. They should take a larger view of the mind of Ireland, and adopt means to bring her intellectual resources out. At this moment there was no National University in Ireland, because, from the fellowships and professorships of Trinity College, Roman Catholics, the majority of the Irish people, were excluded. No matter how eminent might be the faculties, or how vast the attainments of a Roman Catholic student in Trinity College, his religion was an insurmountable obstacle to his advancement. He had pon several occasions referred to this gross injustice, and he was told that Trin- ity College was an appurtenance to the Church, and that the impediment thrown in the way of Roman Catholics was necessary, however it was to be regretted. If this opinion should be adopted by the House, the consequence which he should deduce from it was, that another University ought to be founded in Ireland. In this view he was supported by the spirit of the Act of 1793. By that Act Roman Catholics were excluded from the fellowships of Trinity College; but it was provided, that they should be admissible to the fellowships and professorships of any college to be hereafter founded. Let Trinity College be thrown open; or, if you persist in closing it—if you make a sectarian in place of converting it into a national establishment—if it is to be Protestant, and not Irish, then establish another college, where fair play shall be given to the intellect of the country, and where genius and industry shall have a clear stage, and in the wrestlings of mental competition there shall be no sectarian favour. It might be said, the Catholics have a college at Maynooth. How much did they award to Maynooth. Having undertaken the education of the Catholic clergy, what did they allot to that education? They ought either to pay nothing, or to pay well. What, then, was the utmost extent of Parliamentary munificence to Maynooth. What was the amount alloted in the estimates to the Education of the most powerful and influential corporate body, the Catholic priests, in the empire? The miserable pittance of 8,000l. a-year. It was well known that when Mr. Canning was at Maynooth he expressed disgust, not at what he saw, but at the despicable penury, the bigoted avarice, which granted so contemptible a sum for the most important of all the objects, connected with education, which a statesman can contemplate. People often talked of paying the Catholic clergy upon the largest, most munificent, most enlightened scale. Extend the period of Education at Maynooth—give to the professors large salaries, by which genius and talents will be allured, and make that college, or some analogous national establishment, the source from which improvement may be diffused through the country. At present, it is wonderful how much the Catholic clergy, with their narrow and contracted means of acquiring knowledge, have done.—Many of them would be ornaments of literature in any country; but it was not to the opportunities afforded by Government that their proficiency was to be attributed. Their own genius and exertions had overcome every obstacle. He would not only remove obstacles, but he would open a wide field for the exercise of great abilities. In the Irish clergy the best materials were to be found. All that they required was, the abatement of those obstructions which now stood in the way of their intellectual progress. He was convinced that the establishment of a great national seminary, or even the enlargement and more liberal endowment of Maynooth, would lead to the happiest results, and would be the means of developing the intellect of Ireland. He often heard Englishmen speak of locating a sacerdotal stipendiary, a paid priest, in every Catholic parish; place, he would say, in every Catholic parish a Roman Catholic clergyman, supplied, not, indeed, with a wretched stipend which might make him a servile politician, but with a perfect education, which was sure to make him a useful citizen; you will thus make him contributory to the improvement of the active population within the reach of his influence, and, great as the services are which are now rendered by the Roman Catholic priesthood (the best the purest, the most zealous clerical body in the Christian world), you will enhance their value, and give to the good in which they are now instrumental a most noble consummation.

Lord Sandon

did not think, in the absence of all information which could warrant such a conclusion, that any one had a right to say that the late experiment on the subject of Irish education had been successful.

Mr. Feargus O'Connor

could assure the noble Lord that, as far as it had been tried, the experiment had been most successful, though the Protestant gentry of Ireland had done all in their power to defeat the success of the plan.

Sir Robert Bateson

denied, in the most positive terms, either that the experiment had succeeded, or that the Protestant gentry were unfriendly to the cause of education. The present national system of education in Ireland was much opposed to the feelings and the opinions of the Presbyterians of the north that upon no account would they suffer their children to enter any of the schools. It never, therefore, could receive the sanction of the Presbyterians, for they, one and all, regarded it as a system established only for the exclusive education of the Roman Catholics.

Leave given to bring in the Bill.