HC Deb 30 July 1838 vol 44 cc813-9
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

having moved a vote of 8,928l. for the Roman Catholic College (Maynooth), for the year ending 31st. of March 1839,

Colonel Sibthorp

opposed the grant, as exclusively applied to one religious persuasion. He disclaimed any intention to give offence to the Roman Catholics, some of whom he was happy in reckoning among his friends, but he thought that it was inconsistent with the Protestant religion of this country to vote a sum for the support of a religion opposed to that which was established here. In the then thin state of the House, however, he would not divide upon it.

Colonel Percival

said, that this grant had caused much excitement in England, and he had no doubt that if the estimates had been brought forward at a different period of the year the opinion of the counties in England against the grant would have been made manifest. He should consider it a dereliction of his duty, however, if he did not state, that his hostility to the grant had been increased since the last opportunity he had of addressing the Committee upon this subject. An election had since passed, and the conduct of the gentlemen educated at Maynooth, the Roman Catholic priests, had been such as to show the necessity of some amendment in the system of education pursued in that college. Instead of being the promoters of peace and harmony and good will, they were only the instigators of revolt and tumult. He himself, had been the subject of attack, and his political conduct had been canvassed for five or six weeks before, and also after the election in every chapel but one. He would not, however, be deterred; and although his gallant Friend would not divide the House upon it, he trusted that her Majesty's Government would at an early period of the next session give an opportunity of sifting the whole matter.

Colonel Verner

considered that this was an institution subversive of morality and good faith; and surely before the grant was agreed to, an inquiry ought to be set on foot. He knew that there had been an inquiry in the year 1826, but great changes had taken place since that time, and they ought to compare the declaration made by the friends and advocates of the Catholics before the Emancipation and Reform Acts had passed, with the sentiments now openly put forward and generally adopted. Many petitions from the people of England had been, night after night, laid upon the table of that House, calling upon them to make an inquiry into the system on which the college of Maynooth was conducted, and these petitions ought to be attended to. The estimates also ought to have been brought forward at an earlier period of the Session, when Irish Members capable of giving expression to their sentiments were present. In vain had the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer been asked in the spring to fix an early day for the discussion of the Irish estimates, but to-night, seeing those (the Opposition) benches empty, he had hurried them on, when they were not expected, postponing the militia estimates; and he (Colonel Verner) considered this as an unfair and unjustifiable substitution. If the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln should not move, that this grant should be withdrawn, he felt it to be his duty to make such a motion.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that it was not competent to the hon. and gallant Member to make the motion to which he had alluded in the Committee of supply; for they could not enter into such a question. They might vote against the grant, but they could not obtain a committee to inquire into the general subject. With regard to the complaint that the Irish estimates were improperly taken out of order, he begged to deny that such was the case. The estimates were all numbered, and were taken according to their regular course, and the complaint was entirely without foundation. If hon. Members had desired that the question should be considered more at large, it was quite within the powers of any one of them to move for a committee at any period of the Session. They seemed, indeed, to be aware of this fact; for one hon. Gentleman had already made a motion to that effect. It was true that the house was counted out on the day on which the subject came on for investigation; but the only inference which could be drawn from that fact was, that the motion was not agreeable to the House, as indeed it could not be, when it was made the vehicle for a general attack upon the Catholic clergy of Ireland. In reference to the grant, it was one of old standing, and not one which it was sought to introduce now for the first time. It had been established by Mr. Pitt on the recommendation of Edmund Burke, and it had been besides supported by men of all parties, and by men of the greatest weight in Ireland and in this country. The hon. and gallant Member had said, that in the college of Maynooth, principles subversive of morality and good faith were inculcated in the minds of the pupils. He denied, however, that such was the fact, and he must state, that he had seen men who had come from that college as highly educated and endowed, and as useful in the discharge of the duties of their respective situations, as those who had been educated at any other colleges. If hon. Gentlemen really wished the question of the grant to be fairly discussed, it was in their power, and it was their duty to give a notice by which the matter might be brought fairly under discussion, and if they did not give such a notice he was entitled to retort upon them, and to say, that they were afraid to bring the matter forward because they knew that public opinion was against them. The mere striking off this vote would not have any effect in putting down Maynooth, which seemed to be, in fact, the object of those who opposed it. The college would be taken up and supported by others, besides the Government, and the only effect which would be produced by such a course would be to create a dislike to its promoters in all those who had been educated at the college, who were in the course of education there, or who hoped to obtain their admission to it.

Mr. Ellis

thought the really advisable course would be to grant a committee to inquire into the state of education at Maynooth, and he thought the very fact stated by the right hon. Gentleman that the grant was recommended by Burke, and established by Pitt, was a sufficient ground for adopting this recommendation. He hoped that the hon. and gallant Member would not persist at present in calling upon the House to reject this grant, and at the same time he suggested that measures should be taken as early as possible to cause the inquiry to which he had alluded to be made.

Colonel Verner

observed, that the way to judge of Maynooth was to look at the conduct of the priesthood. He defied the hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches to point out any Protestant clergyman who had ever been guilty of such outrageous conduct as that which had been recently exhibited by a Roman Catholic clergyman who had received his education at that seminary. The gallant Colonel then proceeded to read an extract from a speech made by the Rev. M. Doyle, as chairman of an anti-tithe dinner, given to him on a Sunday, at Kilkenny, by 150 persons. In that speech he declared his determination to oppose any Tithe Bill which did not go to the entire abolition of tithes, and said, that if the present Tithe Bill were passed, he would agitate the rent-charge. Yes, he would follow the advice of Lord Anglesey, and would "agitate, agitate, agitate." A magistrate, of the name of Hawkshaw, was present at that dinner, and heard that speech. He wished to ask the noble Lord opposite whether he had struck, or intended to strike, the name of that magistrate out of the commission of the peace, for hearing such a speech.

Mr. O'Connell

had not heard that the "Battle of the Diamond" was one of the toasts given at the dinner to which the hon. and gallant Colonel alluded. The worthy magistrate, whose presence at an anti-tithe meeting seemed to excite the indignation of the hon. and gallant Colonel, had not given that toast, or any toast like it, and all that he had done was, to sit by whilst the Rev. M. Doyle was making his speech. He was sorry that the three gallant Colonels opposite, the Church militant he supposed of that House, had not the courage to divide against this grant; for if they had had such courage he should certainly have divided with them, for this grant was most decidedly against the voluntary principle which, in matters of religion, he should always uphold. They only talked—they would not divide. [The three gallant Colonels conversed together for a short time]. Now there is a council of war holding, and let us see what the results will be. Oh! these gallant Colonels! I must venture a parody against them. Three colonels in three different counties born— Did Lincoln, Sligo, and Armagh adorn; The first in gravity of face surpassed— In grace the second—sobriety the last. The force of Nature could no further go; To beard the first she shaved the other two. It was, however, but a paltry return for their giving a million to the Protestant clergy of Ireland to refuse so paltry a grant as 8,900l. for the education of the Roman Catholic clergy of that country.

Mr. Gladstone

said, that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin boasted of having given 1,000,000l. to the Protestant clergy of Ireland. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman be kind enough to inform the House of the amount of the sum which he had been instrumental in withholding from them? He objected to the grant then before the House, because it contravened and stultified the main principle on which the Established Church of England in Ireland was founded.

Viscount Morpeth

felt that it was not incumbent upon him to defend the origin of a grant which was recommended by Mr. Burke, established by Mr. Pitt, sanctioned by Mr. Perceval, and dignified by the Royal Protestant assent of George 3rd. The grant now proposed was scanty and penurious, and he thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite would feel extremely indignant, if a similar spirit of parsimony was extended towards the Protestant universities of the country. He would not, however, propose to extend this grant at present, for he feared that such a proposition would tend to increase that spirit of religious animosity which he was most anxious to allay. He only proposed to make the grant of former years, which was a most paltry and parsimonious provision for the priesthood of so extensive a country as Ireland; and still more so, for a priesthood invested with such immense responsibility as that which fell on the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland. They had recently granted 900,000l. to the Protestant clergy of that country. Could they now be so ungracious as to refuse 8,900l. for the education of their Roman Catholic brethren? If they were to be always talking of the objectionable doctrines taught at Maynooth, they must not be surprised if they sometimes heard of the not very satisfactory doctrines which had recently become fashionable at Oxford, A book had been published lately, which certainly would be likely to make disciples of a new school, and which he was given to understand proceeded from that university. It was a work called "The Remains of the Reverend R. H. Froude," and was published, he believed, by Mr. Newman, who was the principal of one of the colleges in Oxford. Mr. Fronde said,

"You will be shocked at my avowal that I am every day becoming a less and less loyal son of the Reformation. It appears to be plain, that in all matters which seem to us indifferent or even doubtful, we should conform our practices to those of the Church, which has preserved its traditionary practices unknown. We cannot know about any seemingly indifferent practice of the Church of Rome, that is not a development of the apostolic and it is to no purpose to say, that we can find no proof of it in the writings of the six first centuries—they must find a disproof if they would do anything."… "I think people are injudicious who talk against the Roman Catholics for worshipping saints, and honouring the Virgin and images, &c. These things may perhaps be idolatrous; I cannot make up my mind about it."… "P. called us the Papal Protestant Church, in which he proved a double ignorance, as we are Catholics without the Popery, and Church of England men with the Protestantism."… "The more I think over that view of yours about regarding our present communion service, &c., as a judgment on the Church, and taking it as the crumbs from the apostle's table, the more I am struck with its fitness to be dwelt upon as tending to check the intrusion of irreverent thoughts, without in any way interfering with one's just indignation."… "Your trumpery principle about scripture being the sole rule of faith in fundamentals (I nauseate the word) is but a mutilated edition, without the breadth and axiomatic character, of the original."… "Really I hate the Reformation and the reformers more and more, and have almost made up my mind that the rationalist spirit they set afloat is the of the Revelations."

He therefore called upon hon. Gentlemen to look at home before they threw their missiles of invective abroad in future; and at any rate, whether they looked at home or abroad, he called upon them to look at the errors of each other with something like a spirit of reciprocal kindness.

Mr. W. E. Gladstone

had never heard a speech more cruelly unjust than that made by the noble Lord. Even if Roman Catholic principles were inculcated in the University of Oxford, that fact had properly no relation to the question; but he had no hesitation in characterizing the assertion as a mere vulgar calumny. If the noble Lord would read the preface of the book he had quoted, he would find that the editor expressly guarded himself against being supposed to entertain the opinions of the author, and stated, that he gave it to the world as the singular production of a remarkable mind.

Mr. Wyse

said the only question was, whether the Catholic clergy were to be educated or not? for if they were, it was better they should be educated at home than abroad.

Mr. G. Knight

said, he should vote in support of the grant, on the ground that the diffusion of education everywhere, but especially in Ireland, was the best mode of supporting and advancing the progress of Protestantism.

Mr. Philip Howard

observed, that hon. Gentlemen should bear in mind that the greatest part of the Colleges of Oxford had been erected by the Roman Catholics as well as most of the Churches throughout the country. He really thought that in fairness, it scarcely became those who came into possession of splendid edifices ready built for them to grudge to the Roman Catholics who raised them, so paltry a sum, so inadequate a retribution if he might so express himself, as the grant then proposed to Maynooth College.

Grant agreed to.