§ Sir James Graham
moved that the House should resolve into a Committee, for the purpose of passing a Resolution on which to found a grant necessary to the formation of Colleges in Ireland. He proposed that the Vote should be taken pro formâ, and the debate on the measure be postponed till Monday next. It was necessary that such a Resolution should be passed before the money clauses of the Bill could be inserted.
§ On the Question that the Speaker leave the Chair,
§ Mr. W. Smith O'Brien
rose to offer no opposition to the Motion for the Speaker leaving the Chair; but he was anxious to submit to the Government, by way of friendly suggestion, and in favour of the Bill, what he thought he might state to be the opinion of the people of Ireland upon this subject. They were unanimous in considering the subject of the education of the people of Ireland to be well worthy the attention of the Legislature. They were desirous that a portion of the Irish revenue should be appropriated to that purpose. But it remained to be considered whether this institution should be founded upon the principle of giving a united education or a separate education. As to the preference to be given on either side, it was not open to him to speak, because he had always avowed himself an advocate of the system of mixed education. The proposed plan by Her Majesty's Government had been submitted to the Roman Catholic bishops, and they had suggested several modifications which, he might say, had received the concurrence, in substance, of a very large portion of the Catholic people in Ireland. There was one point which he believed the public opinion in Ireland, and to a great extent the public opinion in England, was entirely agreed upon, namely, that means of religious instruction ought to be provided for in this Bill. Upon that point they felt—and he believed most justly—that the present Bill was defective. How far the Amendments intended to be introduced by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham) would meet that objection, and remedy that defect, of course he could not tell. But the early day appointed for the Committee on the Bill would render it utterly impossible for the public in Ireland to form a judgment upon it. He, however, would fairly warn the Government, that if they did not bring forward a measure which would be on this 483 point satisfactory to the Catholic bishops and people of Ireland, the Bill would be found a dead letter altogether. He confessed that to him it appeared that, in bringing forward a measure affecting the great body of the Catholics of Ireland, it would only have been becoming to have taken means to have consulted the Catholic priesthood of that country. But, so far from doing so, Her Majesty's Government seemed to make it a matter of pride not to have done so. But upon such a question as this it was for the clerical authorities to express their opinion, rather than the laity. But with respect to the 10th Clause, the laity had expressed, and that very emphatically, their opinion; and he could tell Her Majesty's Government, that he had not heard one single opinion throughout Ireland which was not unfavourable to the clause as it now stood. What might be the best mode of appointing the professors, was a question he would not venture to enter upon; but upon this point all parties were united, that it was disgraceful to the Government to make these institutions a Government job; and such would be their character if Clause 10 stood as it was now framed. He need not tell the Government that they did not possess the confidence of the people of Ireland; and, therefore, in a matter like this, where confidence was involved, Her Majesty's Ministers had no right to expect that the people of Ireland should entrust to them powers unaccompanied by such securities as would satisfy the natural jealousy of a people who had been treated as the Irish people had been. They could not forget that the present Government had made an attempt, which, however, had signally failed, to put down the expression of the national opinion in Ireland; and that they attempted to effect that object by means which it was not necessary now for him to characterize. He was bound to tell them, that a strong sense remained on the minds of the people of Ireland of this attempt on the part of the Government; and, under these circumstances, he would not be a party to placing in their hands powers which might be abused. Referring to their acts with regard to the appointments under Lord Normanby's Government, would it not justify him (Mr. W. S. O'Brien) in objecting to place in their hands such a power as that which they now claimed to themselves? The Bill, as it at present stood, gave at all times, and to all Governments, the power to appoint professors to these 484 Colleges, who must necessarily possess great influence, directly and indirectly, upon the education of the Catholic students. He was not, however, at all unfavourable to this Bill; on the contrary, he might take some pride to himself for having been a Member of the Committee from which the proposition for providing academical education for the people of Ireland emanated. The Committee was appointed on the Motion of the hon. Member for Waterford, and he (Mr. W. S. O'Brien) had the honour of seconding the Motion. He had also the honour of having been an overseer of a great seminary established in his own county, and his constituents were extremely anxious upon the subject. They were most desirous that such an institution should be established; but, at the same time, he confessed he would rather forego all the advantages which these institutions promised to the country, and all the satisfaction which those with whom he was connected would derive from them, than be a party to establishments upon the terms proposed by Her Majesty's Government. He offered these observations, not from the vain hope of inducing the House to adopt his views; but he submitted them to Her Majesty's Government for their own sakes. They professed to be desirous to bring forward measures conciliatory towards Ireland. He would now tell them, that if they persisted in this measure, as it was at present framed, so far from doing that which would be satisfactory to the great bulk of the people, they would lay fresh ground for political discontent and continued agitation. The result of this measure, in his opinion, would be, that the people of Ireland would feel that the Government had expended the money of Ireland—["No"]—yes, the money of Ireland. He would repeat, that the people would believe that the Government would cause the money of Ireland to be applied to the endowment of an institution which would be attended with no possible good whatever.
§ Mr. Colquhoun
wished to ask his right hon. Friend a question with respect to an addition which he purposed making to the proposed Bill; but before he did so, he wished to make a few remarks upon the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down. That hon. Gentleman had said it was his most earnest desire to see a College established in the town which he represented, yet he had allowed that House to go on for weeks discussing the present 485 question, without taking his proper position as a Member of the Legislature, or seeming to interest himself in it; and now he came forward, and, while confessing that his expectations were not very sanguine with regard to influencing the House towards his opinions, he denounced the proposed measure. The hon. Gentleman was unquestionably deserving of respect and consideration; but he at once superseded the labours of the hon. Member for Waterford, and of all those hon. Members who had devoted their attention for years to this subject. Being one of the fifteen Members of the Committee over which the hon. Member for Waterford presided, the hon. Member (Mr. W. S. O'Brien) took upon himself to say, that that measure which had been recognised as satisfactory by the hon. Member for Waterford, was a measure which he, in the supreme position of a dictator, or rather as a deputy dictator, declared to be wholly unsatisfactory. He, who came fresh from Conciliation Hall—he, who had abandoned his duty in that House in order to carry on that most mischievous agitation in Ireland, which was now drying up the sources of its prosperity, preventing the application of capital, deranging new schemes of improvement, and impeding the employment of labour—he, thus coming fresh from Conciliation Hall, told them that this measure was to be the basis for increased agitation. He could not congratulate the hon. Member upon the position he had assumed upon this question. He would now ask his right hon. Friend whether, by the Amendment he intended to introduce into this Bill, he meant to make it compulsory on the student to attend a place of worship and receive religious instruction?
§ Sir James Graham
said, that the words he proposed to insert in the Bill were for the purpose of removing all doubt with respect to the operation of this Act, either as it regarded the terms of incorporation or the by-laws. It would be quite open to the governing body to make any regulation with respect to the students attending divine worship.
§ Mr. Milner Gibson
felt it his duty, as a Member of the House of Commons, to protest against the language used by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in calling this a mere formal stage of the Bill. On the contrary, he (Mr. Gibson) considered it the most important stage of the measure. It was, especially, that stage in which he, 486 as a Member of Parliament had the most direct and important interest; for, what was it? It was a Motion to authorize the Government to apply the public money to the support of these new institutions. But for the necessity of applying public money to these Colleges, the Government would not have had any occasion to come to Parliament at all. In regard to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. W. S. O'Brien), as to the House being about to appropriate Irish money, he (Mr. Gibson) did not like these distinctions between Irish and English money. The House of Commons was going to appropriate a portion of the general revenue of the United Kingdom, and the only question they had to ask themselves was, what was the purpose to which they were going to apply it? Were they justified in thus appropriating a portion of the general fund of the United Kingdom? For his own part, he was beset by these education questions, and by the various opinions upon the subject of endowments. He was told that it was very questionable whether bodies incorporated by the State for the advancement of learning was the best mode of accomplishing the object. It was feared that these corporations might become, as others had proved to be, rather asylums in which prejudice and ignorance would find shelter, than institutions for the advancement of learning. But he hoped that these institutions which were about to be established in Ireland, however just might have been the objection to former institutions, would, in their consequences, prove the means of advancement in learning. One reason, in his opinion, why Colleges endowed by the State did little for the advancement of learning was this—that everything was done in the way of erecting the building, and of putting professors into it with an independent income; but when they had done that, they had really done nothing to induce those professors to exert themselves for the benefit of their pupils. He looked upon it that all mankind wished to live at ease—that no man made exertion without necessity; and, therefore, he looked upon it that professors with independent incomes, and who did not rely for success on the advancement of their pupils, by the receipt of fees, were not likely to be very zealous to promote the learning of those pupils. He could, therefore, have wished to have had these professors supported 487 partly by salaries from the State, and partly by fees derived by their own efforts and exertions. He was afraid that as this was not the system to be adopted, these new Colleges would fall into the same state as existed in Oxford and Cambridge. Hon. Members, no doubt, recollected the description given by Mr. Gibbon of his tutor. Mr. Gibbon said—That he was a gentleman who well remembered that he had a salary to receive, but only forgot that he had a duty to perform.Such he believed would be the case with the professors of these Colleges, if they did not make those professors depend partly for their incomes upon their pupils. But there was one part of this Bill which he most cordially approved of. It was that they, the civil Government of the country, had not allowed themselves to be used for the purpose of any religious prejudices or preferences. The cry which had been got up against these Colleges on the ground of the Bill not making provision for religion, was not the cry of the people. The cry was raised by the priests, who were not the representatives of the community, but simply of the ecclesiastical body. They might depend upon it that until the civil Government of the country persevered in resisting these attempts at making educational endowments measures of encouragement of priestly power and proselytism, they would never be able to accomplish any general plan of education. He looked upon the priests of the Roman Catholic Church, and, he might say, the priests of the English Church, and of all churches, with regard to education, with great jealousy. The cultivation of reason, and the pursuit of science and of philosophy, were not the appropriate avocations of priests. And until the civil power could prevent those institutions which were intended for secular teaching, from becoming instruments for proselytising the people from one church to another, he was afraid the benefits that would result from such institutions would be very limited. For these reasons he was in favour of not allowing priests to interfere with education in any manner whatever. He would not recommend it in the case of his own child, nor as a measure of legislation. It was not within the sphere of the priests to interfere with the teaching of science, mathematics, philosophy, or any secular thing. Their province was to minister religious 488 consolation in fitting places. It was said that they could not teach secular knowledge without mixing it with religious instruction. But in his opinion these two things were entirely distinct. He could not understand why they could not teach arithmetic, astronomy, or mathematics, without making these the medium of religious instruction.
Mr. Vernon Smith
did not wish to pursue the argument suggested by his hon. Friend, because he deemed it to be inopportune; but he wished to ask the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) whether by allowing this Resolution to pass now, for the purpose of inserting the clauses, it would prevent any hon. Member hereafter proposing that the money should be taken from another source.
§ Sir James Graham
said, his impression was, that in a Bill of this description it was not possible to insert clauses which made a charge on the Consolidated Fund without a previous Resolution in a Committee of the whole House. But this did not preclude any Gentleman from rejecting the clause when the Bill itself was considered in Committee. As he understood the matter, the only limit was that no larger charge could be proposed. A less sum might be proposed, or the clause might be objected to altogether, or, as he understood, it might be proposed to fix the charge upon any other source.
§ Mr. Speaker
said, that the authors of the Bill had no power to insert such clauses as were necessary in this Bill, unless they were previously instructed by a Committee of the House. But when the Bill itself was in Committee, then it would be competent for the Committee to reject the clauses altogether, or to reduce the amount; but they could not charge the sum upon any other public fund.
§ Mr. Roebuck
quite agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, that this question ought not to be passed over as a mere formal vote. It could not be doubted that this, of all others, was the most proper time for discussing the principle of the measure. The hon. Member for Manchester said that he was against endowing any body of men for the purpose of instruction. Education was one of the means of promoting good actions, and of leading men to practise virtue. Administration of justice was another means. There were institutions for both purposes, and he was willing to endow 489 them; he was willing to endow national education, and national courts of justice. He had voted for the endowment of Maynooth; he did not question whether the doctrines taught were true or false; but being called upon to vote for the establishment of a general system of education, it was of the first necessity that he should ask himself how was he to meet the conflicting opinions of the people with respect to religion. In two ways: by endowing separate establishments for every religion; or to appropriate the money of the State for secular education alone, leaving it to the ecclesiastical bodies and to the parents of the children to direct them in the ways of religion beyond the walls of the establishment. The House had determined upon the last mode. But he was now met with a strange phenomenon. He was startled by seeing the hon. Member for Limerick here. He (Mr. Roebuck) had been in the habit of looking into the papers, and he read that there was one William Smith O'Brien who gave his constant attendance at the Conciliation Hall, and had there declared, in the name of the people of Ireland (there was nothing like the three tailors of Tooley-street!)—that he would never appear again in the British House of Commons. [Mr. W. S. O'Brien; It is a mistake.] Certainly it was not his business to notice every speech made in Conciliation Hall: that would indeed fill his head with rubbish; but he (Mr. Roebuck) had aright to assume that the House of Commons had been assailed, not only in that Hall, but by the hon. Gentleman. And what had the hon. Gentleman said upon the present occasion? He had accused the House—and it was an accusation which he (Mr. Roebuck) recollected to have been made by Marat against Roland—the hon. Gentleman had accused the House of Commons of endeavouring, and wishing, and planning to corrupt the intellect of the people of Ireland. The students in these Colleges were to be taught arithmetic, surgery, mathematics, all matters of science, and perhaps even speaking English, and this was what the hon. Member for Limerick called corrupting the intellect of Ireland. It might be very well to get up a few claptraps upon this subject; but when the truth was sifted, it would be seen how worthless were the objections. It was very easy to talk about corrupting the intellect of Ireland; these 490 were terms no doubt, prepared and studied in Conciliation Hall, and were of about the same value as most that was said there. Nobody seemed to recollect how the friends of such measures as these, setting aside their own feelings in favour of their own religion, had had to combat the opinions of their constituents, and to guide them to toleration, and after doing all this they were to be greeted and repaid by obloquy in every shape. The House was told from Conciliation Hall, that it was attempting to corrupt the intellect of Ireland; in what state of corruption or incorruption must that intellect be which suggested the accusation! The constituents of the United Empire sent Members to Parliament to watch over the interests of a great people; and he considered that those Irish Members who, instead of remaining absent from their places and their duties, had shared the difficulty of the task, and had braved the momentary ill-feeling of such as pursued a different line of conduct had done themselves great honour. He revered them for the sacrifice they had thus made; but he could not understand what should at one moment take a man to Conciliation Hall, exciting groundless discontent, bitter religious animosities, national hatred, and vulgar prejudice, and in the next bring him back to the House of Commons, and fancying, in spite of the venom he had uttered elsewhere, that he shall be secure, because armed with the attributes of a Member of Parliament. Was such a man to be allowed to insult the Commons of the British Empire, by repeating the trash he had picked up in Conciliation Hall? Might not those who were attacked turn round and inquire what motive could have led to such conduct, and whether it was to be imputed to anything but disappointed vanity? Unable by the force of his own abilities on a fair stage to acquire power and influence, it seemed as if such a man had resorted to other scenes where it was of easy acquisition, and where he might flutter for a time in a brief and butterfly existence. It was not difficult to understand what the leading spirit of that party was about—his tactics were very intelligible—want was staring him in the face—he was obliged to pander to the appetite of the people of Ireland in order to satisfy his own. The cravings of hunger were strong; and they explained the grovelling and unworthy course that had been 491 pursued. This consideration might have led to what had been witnessed, and those who followed in the train of such a leader deserved little respect either for their position, or their intellect. He was confident that the people of Ireland would understand and properly estimate this and other measures brought forward in a kindred spirit. He was willing to rely upon the penetrating power of truth, and did not think it necessary to accept the hon. Member for Limerick as the representative of the people of Ireland. Let the British Parliament do its duty. Let it do its duty without fear or affection, and provide the means of education for that large body of the natives of Ireland who required it. They had a strong desire to receive it; and it would be given in a spirit of kindness, toleration, and truth. Let Parliament persevere in doing fair justice, and Ireland would make an ample return, in attachment to the State and obedience to the laws. Let it forget Conciliation Hall and all that had proceeded from it, and it would soon witness the last throe of its expiring existence.
§ Mr. S. O'Brien
, considering the personal character of the speech just delivered, hoped to be allowed to say a few words. The House had just witnessed the discharge of the accumulated venom of three months.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
I rise to order. I am sure the House will listen to any explanation or any vindication from the hon. Member who has been attacked; but I believe the House will not permit him, when professing to vindicate himself, to attack the hon. and learned Member whose speech we have just heard. Other opportunities will arise, when the hon. Member may give such answers as he thinks fit; but at present he is limited to the vindication of himself, and cannot make a second speech for the purpose of attacking any one else.
§ Mr. Bernal Osborne
wished to recall the attention of the House from the personal to the national matter before it. What had just occurred seemed a bad example of the supposed advantages of education. To descend to such matters, and to bandy taunts, was not a very becoming or useful mode of conducting the business of the country. It appeared to him that his hon. Friend below him (Mr. S. O'Brien), from not having recently been in the habit of addressing the House, had a little overshot himself. He (Mr. B. Osborne) concurred 492 in the opening remarks of the hon. Member for Manchester.
§ Sir H. W. Barron
rose to order. The question of form having been disposed of, after what had fallen from the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford, the hon. Member for Limerick remained in possession of the House. No other Member had, therefore, a right to interpose, especially to prevent an explanation.
§ Mr. Speaker
said, that it was clear that the hon. Member for Limerick, having spoken once, was not entitled to speak again except in explanation, or by the indulgence of the House. That indulgence could only be obtained by the full concurrence of all the Members present; and the hon. Member for Limerick having been called to order by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford, had done quite right in resuming his seat.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
said, that the hon. Member for Limerick had stated that the hon. and learned Member for Bath was uttering the accumulated venom of three months. That was not a vindication, but an attack.
Lord J. Russell
observed, that if the hon. Member for Limerick wished for a farther opportunity of explanation, he might easily find it hereafter. When the House had resolved itself into the Committee, it was clear that the hon. Member would have a right to be heard.
§ Lord J. Manners
, for his own part was ready to move that the hon. Member for Limerick do proceed.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, that if the Speaker were now allowed to leave the Chair, any Member could speak in the Committee just as often as he liked, and the House liked to hear him.
§ Mr. Bernal Osborne
had no objection to second the Motion of the noble Member for Newark, excepting that he did not wish the personal part of the discussion to be continued. If these disagreeable matters consumed so much time, what would be left for the transaction of necessary and important business? He should have put on the Paper a Motion against taking the money out of the Consolidated Fund; but he had given way to the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge (Mr. Law), who seemed to have changed his mind, and as was said of the month of March, had "come in like a lion, and gone out like a lamb." That hon. and learned Member 493 had put a Notice on the Paper, and had subsequently withdrawn it.
§ House in Committee.
§ Sir James Graham
, in Committee, moved the following Resolution:—That it is the opinion of this Committee, That a sum, not exceeding 100,000l. be issued out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to defray the expenses of establishing New Colleges for the advancement of learning in Ireland; and that an annual sum, not exceeding 21,000l. be also issued out of the said Consolidated Fund, to pay the stipends, prizes, exhibitions, and other expenses of the said New Colleges.
§ Mr. W. S. O'Brien
I really do most unfeignedly apologize to the House for the necessity under which the hon. and learned Member for Bath has laid me, of entering into topics of a personal nature; but I would remind the House, as they seem to take pride in the denomination of "English Gentlemen," that they have been listening, not only with content but with approbation to invective in the most unmeasured terms, continued for nearly a quarter of an hour, and directed against my person alone. I believe I am now in order in repeating, and I will repeat, that I have had the satisfaction of witnessing to-night the delivery of the accumulated venom of three months' concoction. About three months since, the hon. and learned Member for Bath thought proper, in my absence, to make an attack upon me in common with the seceding Irish Members; and I took the liberty of telling him from Conciliation Hall, that I treated his insinuations with contempt. I had no elaborately prepared invective with which to reply to the hon. and learned Member. It is my custom in this House to maintain, so far as I am able, the character of a gentleman, without offending any one; I trust I have never shrunk from the duty of exposing a bad measure or a bad principle, and I trust I never shall; but I do not pride myself, and I hope I never may, in being able to accumulate sentence upon sentence that would give pain to any man. The hon. and learned Member, however, has utterly failed in giving pain to any one except his unfortunate self; I treat his attack with unutterable contempt, and accompany that contempt with my intense pity.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
rose again to order. He wished to ask the Chairman whether any Member could express unutterable 494 contempt? [Peals of laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen thought they had caught him in an Irishism, but he was only repeating the expression of the hon. Member; and he must say that the animus with which that expression was used, was sufficiently clear to justify him in rising to ask whether such temper ought to be permitted to be displayed in this House.
§ Mr. W. S. O'Brien
, in continuation, would save the Chairman the trouble of deciding the point by abandoning the expression; and he would leave the House to judge how far his vanity had been disappointed. When he ceased to attend in his place, he enjoyed the friendship of a greater number of Gentlemen than at any former period of his life; he might add, that there were then some circumstances attending his career that were personally exceedingly gratifying. He felt no individual animosities—not even towards the hon. Member for Bath, and was ready at that moment to take his hand. He had not represented him fairly, when he said that either in Conciliation Hall or elsewhere he (Mr. S. O'Brien) had made a vow never to attend in his place in the House; the language he had used in public and in private was, that he would not attend until he thought that by doing so he could effect some good for his country. If any opportunity had arisen during the last two years, he was ready to have returned at twenty-four hours' notice. He had expressed the opinion, both here and elsewhere, that an Irish Member could better promote the interests of his country by confining his labours to Ireland, than by giving his presence in the House of Commons. As to the persons with whom he was in the habit of associating in Ireland, the hon. Member for Bath had thought fit to designate Conciliation Hall a scene of corruption; and he had applied terms at least equally offensive, but which he (Mr. S. O'Brien) had forgotten, to those who attended its meetings. Having attended those meetings for more than a year and a half, he would tell the hon. Member for Bath that he had never witnessed any proceeding that was not perfectly honourable to the parties concerned, particularly with reference to the humbler classes of his countrymen. So far from being ashamed of having participated in those scenes of supposed corruption, he was proud to be able to contrast Conciliation Hall with that House, in calmness and freedom from 495 asperity. The hon. Member for Bath had also thought fit to assail one in his absence who was infinitely more competent to defend himself, and to crush a less miserable antagonist than he was. The hon. Member for Bath had imputed motives to a man who influenced the destinies, not only of his own country and Great Britain, but of mankind at large; and the suggestion was, that having abandoned his professional exertions at the bar, by which he might at this moment have been enjoying wealth and power, he had made himself the leader of a great people, claiming their national rights, merely with a base desire of obtaining money. Such an imputation could only originate in a low and grovelling mind. Having said thus much of this laboured and prepared attack, it remained for him only to notice the arguments, or rather the insinuations, that if the Bill passed in its present form, appointing a number of men throughout the kingdom, selected from the most influential class, and capable of exercising that influence, it would not satisfy. Certainly, if these powers were to be at the disposal of the Government, and were exercised by the Government, he must repeat that it would be an attempt to corrupt the intellect of Ireland.
§ The Question having been again put,
Lord J. Russell
said, that he did not wish to discuss the subject at present; but to ask the right hon. Home Secretary whether, on Monday, he would give explanations upon two points; first, not what was to be done with the 100,000l., but to what the 21,000l. was to be devoted? secondly, whether any change was contemplated with respect to the appointment of professors? The hon. Member for Limerick had staled very strongly the distrust prevailing in Ireland upon this point; and without arguing the matter (he Lord J. Russell) might remark that he had understood that it was the intention of the right hon. Baronet to propose some mode by which the appointments of professors in the second instance should be in other hands than those of the Government. If an Amendment of this kind were introduced, it would give him (Lord J. Russell) the highest satisfaction.
§ Sir J. Graham
rejoiced in the prospect of the approbation of the noble Lord. On Monday, he should have great pleasure, on bringing up the Report, in giving the required explanation upon the two points 496 mentioned. Of the 21,000l., it was intended to appropriate 7,000l. to each of the three Colleges.
, though in general anxious to prevent the expenditure of public money, had no objection, in this instance, to the proposed grant. He only wished to know, why the second sum had been raised to 21,000l., being 3,000l. more than was originally proposed.
would not offer any objection to the principle of the Bill—that was not his intention. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman could explain the reason why 3,000l. had been added to the originally proposed sum; but he thought the explanation should be given in full, before the grant was agreed to.
§ Sir J. Graham
observed, that it had been stated in the course of a discussion on the subject on a former evening, that the additional sum was to make provision for prizes and exhibitions; and it was then a generally expressed opinion, that such a provision would be most advantageous.
Mr. V. Smith
considered the measure as a mere experiment. From all he had heard in the course of the debates upon this measure, he thought that there was some uncertainty as to whether they were not establishing receptacles for rebellion, and schools for sedition, instead of institutions such as were intended. Neither could he tell for whom these Colleges were designed; at one time it was said they were for what was commonly called the upper classes, and at another for the middling classes. [Mr. Wyse: Both.] If the object of the Government was the spread of education throughout the country, why did they not give similar Colleges to England and Scotland, which at present possessed nothing of the kind? Any of the constituencies of England or Scotland would be as glad of the like boon as Ireland; and he did not understand why the people of Ireland should be exclusively favoured with these institutions at the public expense. He very much agreed with the hon. Member for Waterford as to the means of their support being provided through the medium of the grand juries.
§ Sir R. Peel
I think there will be great difficulty in connecting the grand juries of Ireland with these institutions. In the first place, I doubt whether the 497 grand juries would be in themselves a satisfactory index of public opinion. In the next place, all experience shows that any measure which depends upon the united action of many grand juries must necessarily fail. If the grand juries had the power to give or to withhold the grant—if one were to be averse, while six or seven were in favour of the measure, though it is not likely that the plan would be defeated, yet it is clear that the burden would be unequally distributed; for six would bear the burden — one would be exempt. But that is not all; for the county that was most distant from the seat of the College, might argue that they were less interested than the others, and therefore ought to pay a smaller contribution. Take Munster, for example; he presumed few persons would deny that the College in that province ought to be placed in the city of Cork. But the county of Tipperary might say, "We have less benefit than Cork. Cork is the larger and the richer county; and the gentry and persons of affluence in that county have more benefit from it than we have; therefore, their contributions ought to be greater." If the House, therefore, thought any benefit was to arise from the institution of these Colleges, I hope they will not allow the benefit to be intercepted by attaching to these establishments, that they should be supported by local contributions. The Government have not been indifferent to this subject; but we think the easiest plan is for the State to provide an excellent system of secular instruction, and leave it to private parties to establish a course of religious education.
§ Mr. Wyse
said, he had all along objected to giving these institutions the character of Universities, either in the style of education afforded in them, or in the power of conferring degrees. What he wished was, to have a system of education sufficient to qualify persons for the ordinary avocations of life, and for scientific pursuits; such as would enable them to become civil engineers, for instance. He regretted that the Government had not adopted his suggestions to a greater extent, because he believed that they would have been productive of much more benefit. He was, however, pleased with the instalment brought forward, trusting that on a future occasion the measure would be more extended.
§ Mr. P. Borthwick
said, he voted for the granting of this large sum of money 498 with the view of impregnating the minds of the middle and lower classes of Ireland with useful education.
Sir D. Norreys
said, he had accepted this measure with great pleasure, believing that the Government were about to introduce a system of education into Ireland which, he hoped, would form a precedent for this and other countries, and according to which talent alone was to be honoured. But now he should wish to know whether the Government still adhered to the principle that no religious test should be required, either directly or indirectly, from the students, principals, and professors?
§ Sir J. Graham
said, that no religious test would be required from any principal, professor, or student; and the principle of the measure remained unchanged in that respect.
asked, whether the right hon. Baronet meant that these halls proposed to be constituted, would be prevented from having a distinct religious character?
§ Sir J. Graham
had no difficulty in saying that everything in reference to the halls was without the Colleges, and what was done as to the halls would depend on the will of their founders. These halls would not be aided, directly or indirectly, by the public money.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, there were two questions he wished to ask the Government. He would put them now; but the Government might postpone the answer, and perhaps it would be better they should; the questions being of very high importance, and upon points which were exciting the greatest interest in Ireland. The first question was this:—Has Government determined to reserve to the Crown the appointment of the professors? The second question was this:—Has the Government determined there should be no stipend awarded to a chaplain — Protestant or Catholic — entrusted in these Colleges either with the administration of divine service, or with the imparting religious instruction?
§ Sir J. Graham
said, the noble Lord opposite had already put the former question to him; and he had undertaken to give an answer to it on Monday. He was prepared to answer the question then; but he thought it would be better to answer both the one and the other on the day he had named.
§ Sir H. W. Barron
said, it was of the last importance that a Bill of that description, 499 meant for the benefit of the middle and higher classes in Ireland, should meet with the good opinions of these classes. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would alter the views which they had at first announced respecting it; so as to take care that the measure would not go before the people of Ireland merely as a source of patronage to the Crown. He gave this advice solely from his desire that the Bill should pass under the most favourable auspices.
could not help expressing his regret that the Government had departed from the sum which they had originally fixed upon for the maintenance of these Colleges. Considering that the large grant of 100,000l. was to be voted in the first instance, and that the support of these Colleges was afterwards to be defrayed out of the public revenues, he thought that the Government should be satisfied to rest there; and that they would allow the funds necessary for rewards and premiums to be contributed, as in Scotland, by private individuals. He would, however, be satisfied to allow the additional 3,000l. to pass without opposition, provided the Government would consent to leave that part of the grant subject to the annual control of Parliament, as he did not object so much to the amount, as to the principle involved in it.
§ Sir James Graham
said, he had before announced that he would enter fully into the subject on Monday. He would, however, beg to remind the hon. Gentleman, that this country and Scotland were very differently circumstanced from Ireland in this respect; as the Colleges proposed to be erected in the latter country would be new institutions, giving but little inducements to private parties to contribute towards their success.
§ Lord John Russell
observed that when he had asked the right hon. Baronet for an explanation of the course to be pursued, it was with a view that other Members who were not satisfied with the application of the amount demanded, and the House generally, should take into consideration whether it would be better to enter into the question now, or to reserve their observations to a future period.
Sir Thomas Acland
said, he thought it right to express a hope that the Bill would not leave that House without some security being given in it, that the professors to whom the education of the youth of Ireland were 500 to be entrusted, would have a belief in the truths of Christianity.
The two Votes—one of 100,000l., for the building of new Colleges, and the other of 21,000l. annually, for the support of the Colleges—were then agreed to.
§ The House resumed. Report to be received.