§ On the Order of the Day for the Second Reading of the Academical Institutions (Ireland), Bill being read,
Lord J. Russell
said, he wished to ask whether the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) proposed to introduce any material alterations into this Bill in Committee, and whether the memorial presented by the Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland had received the consideration of the Government; whether, in consequence of that memorial, they contemplated any alterations or whether that memorial was under the consideration of Government, with a view to the adoption of any of the recommendations it contained?
§ Sir J. Graham
said, if it had been the intention of the Government to propose any material alterations in this Bill, it would have been his duty, in moving the second reading, to explain such alterations in detail. It was, however, his intention to move the second reading, without announcing any such alterations. At the same time the noble Lord and the House were aware that, when the principle of the Bill had been affirmed upon the second reading, it would be open to any hon. Gentleman in Committee to propose such alterations as were not inconsistent with the principle of the measure. The noble Lord had referred to a memorial presented by the archbishops and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland to the Lord Lieutenant. He (Sir J. Graham) was bound to state that the adoption of the most material of the alterations, suggested in that memorial, appeared to his Colleagues and to himself to be inconsistent with the principle of the Bill.
§ Lord J. Manners
said, this Bill involved what he regarded as a new principle. Considering the late period of the evening at which they had now arrived, it was impossible that this debate could be brought to a conclusion to-night, and he earnestly hoped the right hon. Baronet would have the goodness to postpone the Bill until next week.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, if they proceeded with the debate now, there was no disposition on the part of the Government to force the House to a decision on the question to- 1134 night. It was now only a quarter-past nine o'clock, and the state of public business, and the fact that great inconvenience was occasioned to important public interests in consequence of the delay of certain measures, rendered it desirable that they should now proceed with this measure.
§ Sir R. Inglis
suggested that the Poor Law Amendment (Scotland) Bill, the second reading of which was fixed for that night, might be taken instead of the Bill then before the House.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, it was usual to proceed with the Notice which stood first on the Paper for precedence; and several hon. Members connected with Scotland had left the House under the impression that the Scotch Poor Law Bill would not be brought under consideration to-night.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, the right hon. Baronet had directly answered the question put to him by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and had stated that it was not his intention to make any material alterations in this Bill. He wished to put a question to the right hon. Baronet; but if any inconvenience or any prejudice to the measure could arise from his peremptorily answering that question, he would not press it. He wished to ask whether the right hon. Home Secretary objected to religious instruction being given in these Colleges through the intervention of clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church, to Roman Catholic students? and whether such clergymen should be paid by the State from the endowment, or by a tax or charge to be levied upon each Roman Catholic student who might enter the Colleges? He considered this a very material point. The right hon. Home Secretary had already stated that the lecture rooms would be allocated to the use of any Roman Catholic clergymen who might wish to instruct the students. Not only was it proposed to give the Roman Catholic clergy the opportunity, the right, of instructing Roman Catholic students, but a locality was allotted to them for the purpose. It had been suggested that a salary should be paid to these clergymen. Now, a salary could be paid in two ways—either out of the endowment, which made it an act of the State, or by the students, upon whom certain small sums might be levied for the provision of religious instruction. In the 1135 latter case the tax would be paid by the individual students, and not out of the endowment. He wished to know whether the right hon. Baronet considered it an essential principle of the Bill that no payment should be made to the Roman Catholics.
§ Sir R. Peel
thought hon. Members ought not to call upon his right hon. Friend and himself to make statements. It was competent to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sheil) to raise the question he had just mooted in Committee; but he thought it would be premature on the part of Government to give explanations on points relating, as he considered, not to the principle but to the details of the Bill. He hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not press his question now, but that he would reserve it until the Bill went into Committee.
§ Mr. B. Osborne
understood that the principle of the Bill was not to be materially altered. The Roman Catholic bishops had called upon the Government to endow the chairs of Physic, Materia Medica, and Anatomy, in the new Colleges, and to assign them to Roman Catholic professors. As a liberal Protestant, residing in Ireland, he must say that he considered this a most monstrous proposition—he could not apply any other term to it; and he thought the Government deserved great honour for the course they had taken with regard to such a proposal. The declaration of the right hon. Baronet could not be mistaken; the right hon. Baronet had stated that he meant to stand by the principle of the Bill. Although he objected to that portion of the Bill which vested the nomination of professors in the Crown, he should not be doing his duty if he failed to give his most cordial support to the Government in the principle they had laid down; and while they had been upsetting a Protestant supremacy in Ireland, he hoped they would not establish a Roman Catholic supremacy.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, he had endeavoured to explain the principle of this Bill to the House when he moved its introduction; but he feared he had failed to render himself intelligible. He had stated that it was the earnest desire of 1136 the Government to afford the people in various important districts of Ireland the benefit of academical education; and that, considering the unhappy religious divisions prevalent in that country, it was felt by the Government that it would be impossible to admit all classes of Her Majesty's subjects to the benefit of such education, if they attempted to engraft upon it, by the endowment of the State, any theological instruction. He stated that the Government, therefore, intended to abstain from all interference with religious teaching in these institutions; but that, at the same time, facilities would be afforded for religious instruction by private endowment. These were the statements he (Sir J. Graham) before made to the House, and fully explained; and he believed that, on an examination of the details of the Bill, it would be found that these principles were fully carried out.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
observed, that the principle of the Bill was not the denial or encouragement of any specific theological notion; but the absence of all religious instruction whatsoever, at least as far as that House was concerned. A systematic absence of all religious instruction, then, was the avowed principle of the measure.
§ Mr. E. B. Roche
wished to know whether the right hon. Baronet intended to adhere to that portion of the Bill which vested the appointment of professors in the Crown?
§ Sir J. Graham
did intend to adhere to that principle. Considering all the circumstances of Ireland, and especially those unhappy religious divisions to which he had before referred, he thought it most important that the right of nominating the professors should be reserved to the responsible advisers of the Crown.
hoped the Government would not press the second reading of the Bill at this hour. It was, however, for the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury to decide that question. He had no wish to delay the progress of the Bill; but he thought it was questionable whether, if other business were taken to-night, time would not really be saved in the end.
§ Sir R. Peel
believed, that the noble Lord the Member for Newark (Lord J. Manners) was not actuated, in pressing the adjournment of this debate, by any other motives than those he had avowed; but really hours were becoming of great 1137 importance. If they now proceeded with the discussion of this Bill, they would be enabled to continue the debate for three hours, and would make considerable progress with the measure.
§ Lord J. Manners
said: I assure the House that I never rose with more reluctance than on the present occasion to move the rejection of this Bill. So great was my reluctance to adopt such a course, that till this morning I hesitated to take any step on the subject, in the hope that before this measure arrived at its present stage Her Majesty's Ministers would have made some declaration which might enable me, and other hon. Gentlemen, to give as hearty support to this measure as we gave to the proposal for an increased and permanent grant to Maynooth. But in the absence of any declaration on the part of the Government, and after the intimation of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) that no such alteration as we desire can be admitted, I am induced, however reluctantly, at whatever pain to myself, and with whatever weariness to the House, to meet this measure with a sincere, though reluctant, opposition. I cannot call a system such as this a measure of education for Ireland. In my view, education is something very different from the instruction provided by the enactments of this Bill. I never could consent to call a Bill such as this, which contains such a proviso as that I will now read to the House, a measure for promoting learning in any country:—Provided always, that no student shall be compelled by any rule of the College to attend any theological lecture or other religious instruction, and that no religious test shall be administered to any person in order to entitle him to be admitted a student of any such College, or to hold any office therein, or to partake of any advantage or privilege thereof.I know not what may be the feelings of hon. Gentlemen on this or that side of the House; but I must say for myself that I conceive I should violate my duty as a Member of this House, and as one most deeply anxious to benefit the people of Ire- 1138 land, if I could consent to such a proviso as that. When I heard the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) say that he would not abandon the principle of the Bill—the principle, as I was led to conclude, contained in that proviso—I felt that the only course open to me was to move the rejection of the measure. I know that in this country, as in others, it is fashionable to appeal to the foreign system of education; and we are told to look at the happy results of that system in Prussia, in France, and in Bavaria. But I altogether deny the assertion. I say that, of all the fatal and mischievous measures ever proposed in any country, those measures of education which have so unhappily failed in France and Prussia, must be acknowledged to hold a bad pre-eminence. I think I shall be borne out by any one who has paid the slightest attention to the condition of France—to the volcano on which the Government of that country is standing at this moment with reference to education—when I say that I cannot conceive how the example of France can be quoted to us as a proof of the success of such a system. When I see no less than fifty of the bishops of the Gallican Church, not appointed by the Pope but by the King, protest in the most emphatic terms against that plan of education, and heading their clergy and faithful laymen in opposition to a system which threatens, at no distant day, to rend that Government to pieces, I cannot understand how we can sanction a measure which will, I believe, produce—not similar, but far worse and more deplorable results in Ireland. I have heard, and have seen it written in books sanctioned by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that one effect we should endeavour to attain by enlightened and liberal Government in these days, is to win over and to alienate the Roman Catholic population from that Church with which they are connected. I have seen it stated in a work by an officer high in the confidence of the late Government, who was rewarded for his services by an order—of all orders in the world to give to such a man—of Isabella the Catholic, that the people of the Basque Provinces were daily being seduced from their allegiance to the Church of Rome. [An hon. Member: Who was it?] Lieutenant Colonel Richardson. But this is not the view I take. I think the Government would make a very bad exchange of a faithful and believing people for those who pos- 1139 sessed a mere mass of secular learning. I am far from underrating the value of that learning; but I say this, that without a basis of religion, such learning is worse than useless; and I venture to suggest that, as a necessary preliminary to such a system of secular learning as that now proposed, a basis of religious education should be given. I know that it is said, "Look at the difficulties of Ireland; see how unfortunate religious differences divide us upon this subject, and compel us to take a course we should otherwise willingly avoid." I may be told, "Before you reject a measure which may do some good, you are at least bound to show that you have a measure of your own better and more practical." I am not indisposed to state, very humbly, and in no detail, a measure which I believe would be superior to that now before the House; but, before I do so, I must be allowed to say, that however any measure which might be proposed to be substituted for this might fail in some of its details and objects, I can conceive no measure so bad and inefficient as that now under our consideration. I should like to know what probability there is of this measure being practically acted upon in Ireland. I have heard Gentlemen say, "If this Bill were proposed for England, we should be the first to oppose and defeat it; but, looking at the state of things in Ireland, we are disposed to make every allowance for a measure of this kind; and if it will content the Irish Roman Catholics, and their hierarchy, great as our scruples on the subject may be, we are ready to support the Bill." But how can such an argument be used? This measure will not secure the support and confidence of the great body of the Irish Roman Catholic population; that it will obtain the support of the Members of the Irish Protestant Church, is to my mind, a most unnatural supposition. I cannot suppose that those who have opposed, and those who still do oppose, what is called the national system of education in Ireland, can suddenly turn round and support such a measure as this—a measure denounced in such strong terms by my hon. Friend below me (Sir R. Inglis), and by Gentlemen who profess the Roman Catholic religion with as much zeal and sincerity as my hon. Friend professes the religion of the Established Church. But be that as it may, I am convinced I am not wrong in asserting that this measure is not supported by the feelings and opin- 1140 ions of the Church of England. One of my reasons for respectfully submitting to the Government the propriety of postponing the discussion of this measure is, that the feelings of the people of England and of the English Church have been so much excited on the question of Maynooth, that this Bill, which in my opinion is of far greater importance, and introduces a far broader principle, has not received the consideration it would otherwise have obtained; and I think it is wrong that any step should be taken in a matter of such importance, without giving ample time and opportunity for an expression of opinion, at least, on the part of that Church which has not shown itself so violently opposed to the general policy of the Government. These are some of the reasons which induce me to take the course I have now felt it my duty to adopt. I trust I have not wearied the House by any lengthened observations. I have endeavoured to express my feelings on the subject in as calm a manner as I possibly could do. I assure Her Majesty's Ministers that, could I feel it consistent with my duty to support this measure, I would most heartily and cordially do so. I desire, in common with them, I will not say to conciliate, but to do justice to the people of Ireland; but I cannot help feeling that the terms in which the great leader of the Irish people has expressed his and their opinion of this measure, are such as I heartily concur in—terms in which, I believe, the people of England will also concur, and terms in which, I believe, the Church of England itself will generally be disposed to concur. Those observations the House will, perhaps, allow me read:—I want that education should be free. To obtain for the Protestant of the Establishment education for his children such as shall have the father's sanction and the mother's blessing. In like manner would I concede to the Presbyterians a distinct and separate education for Presbyterian youth, and join them in calling upon the Government for a guarantee that the children should be educated in the religious profession of their fathers. That being my principle, here I am ready to work it out—to work for the Protestant, the Presbyterian, and all classes of dissenters. I contend that every persuasion should have a distinct and separate system of religious instruction. Religious education must be in its nature exclusive. It is exclusive to all who hold a contrary belief in religion. There can be no mixed education in religion—whatever 'mixed' education means. The mixed education under this Bill does not mean much, 1141 there are no ingredients to mix up in it—nothing that can be called a mixture—it is an unmixed evil.In evidence given before a Committee of this House, in the year 1825, Mr. O'Connell stated, that he favoured the plan of having a Protestant College in Dublin, for the use of members of the Church of England, a Presbyterian College in the north, and a Catholic College in the south. That appeared to him to be perfectly reasonable, and so the hon. and learned Gentleman stated in his evidence. He said that that scheme would allay all differences of feeling, and make due allowance for all differences of creed. But for all this, I do hope that the Bill may not be allowed to pass into a law. As long as the Government says we will provide secular instruction for you, and leave you to obtain your religious instruction, discipline, and habits wherever you can, so long will I oppose such measures as this. I say, that under such circumstances secular instruction is worse than useless. By such a system you inflict a dangerous wound on Ireland; instead of being a boon it will prove a curse; in every point of view it is to be deplored. If you succeed, future statesmen may tremble for the consequences, and succeeding generations must deplore your triumph. You may give the people of Ireland secular instruction; but in doing so you deprive them of old habits of faith and veneration, you dash and destroy all the good effects that might be expected to arise from the grant to Maynooth, and you create for future Governments the most fatal of all temptations, namely—interfering with that upon which the salvation of immortal souls depends. The noble Lord moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ Mr. Ross
said, the noble Lord who had last addressed the House had assumed what he had no right to assume—that persons educated in these academies would be altogether destitute of religious education. He believed, on the contrary, that the practice which had continued up to the present moment in Ireland, of diligently catechising young persons of all religious persuasions at stated occasions, would still prevail. In the part of Ireland with which he was best acquainted, he knew that, on every Sunday, the youths of the Catholics, and the Presbyterians, and the Dissenters, and of the Church of England, regularly attended at their respective places of worship; and he was convinced, 1142 that under the Government system the same care of the religious principles of the students would be persevered in, and that all of them would, without exception, maintain the religion of their fathers. The noble Lord believed that, in two or three generations at the utmost, they would have infidelity prevailing in the country; but he entirely denied the soundness of that supposition. They had instances in the proprietary schools of this country of children being educated on the proposed plan, and being afterwards sent out, in many instances, a credit and an ornament to society. They had also the example of the national system of education in Ireland, under which 400,000 young persons were given a sound religious and moral education. The noble Lord would find scarcely one of these children who would not be able to enter into controversy with him, and state what they believed to be sufficient reasons for the faith which they professed. As to the question of the appointment of the professors being left in the hands of Government, he admitted that there were many good and solid arguments against it; but he felt that the countervailing evils would be as great if these appointments were left to popular elections. In the town with which he was connected (Belfast), he knew that a popular election for professors would be attended with squabbles which would hardly be paralleled by the Parliamentary elections in 1841. But he did not see hereafter, when a good foundation would be laid for the Colleges, that an alteration in the selection of the professors might not be very properly made in favour of popular election; though he believed that at present such a system would cause great inconvenience and embarrassment. He had not come down to the House with an intention of speaking on the question; and if he had intended addressing the House on the subject of the Bill, he would have come prepared with the authority of the Rev. Baptist Noel in favour of secular education without being joined with religious instruction.
§ Lord Adare
said, it was not his intention to trouble the House long, as the sentiments expressed with respect to this measure by the noble Lord, corresponded with those which he entertained. He regretted very much to be obliged conscientiously to oppose this Bill in its present state. He opposed it because it did not 1143 give the sanction which should be given to religion. He regretted that more attention had not been paid to the protest of the Roman Catholic bishops. He could not feel that the scheme would be beneficial to Ireland. The plan of founding a Roman Catholic College in the south of Ireland was the only one that would be acceptable to the Irish people. He had voted for the Maynooth grant, but he did not therefore think it inconsistent to oppose the present measure. He voted for the Maynooth Bill because he thought it the duty of the State to provide for the Roman Catholic clergy; but this Bill made no provision for religious instruction. It not only omitted that, but it neglected to provide for the proper training and discipline of the young men who were to come to the Colleges from the country. He could not see why the Government should not provide houses where moral restraint would exist over the students. Under all the circumstances, he could not allow this Bill to proceed without entering his humble protest against it.
§ Viscount Sandon
could not conceive that the principle of this Bill was one which made it fair to call it a "gigantic scheme of godless education." He conceived that it was framed upon the principle, not of its being generally expedient to set religious instruction aside, but of its being, in the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, extremely inconvenient to apply that instruction to the people through an educational establishment endowed by the State. In former times, when conformity to the religion of the State was the rule, and the departure from it the exception, Colleges were founded on principles of domiciliary and parental instruction, embracing both secular science and religious truth. But in the present very different state of opinion, the adoption of the same principle was clearly impossible. This position the Bill now before them seemed to him, by its provisions, to admit and adopt. It was a measure, he believed, on the right road in regard to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland; and the very fact of his not agreeing with all its provisions, made him the more anxious to see it pass through its second reading, and come before them in a stage when they could introduce into it those improvements which might seem advisable. The demands of the Roman Catholic bishops were such, however, as he was disposed 1144 to think it would be impossible to accede to, without totally giving up the great principle of the measure—that of providing a mixed education. He wished to see both the great religious parties of Ireland come forward, and each contribute what each conscientiously could to the common and the great cause of the moral and literary education of the people.
§ Sir J. Graham
said: I rise with unfeigned pleasure after the speech which has just been made by my noble Friend the Member for Liverpool; for that speech has contributed to relieve me of much pain. It was very painful to me to have it supposed that any proposition of mine should be made to the House under the influence of such motives as upon former occasions, and in other places, have been imputed to me. Although the censure, to which I allude, is in some degree a personal question, yet, I feel that the House of Commons is not the place in which I am willing to make professions upon religious subjects; but I trust that the House will give me the fullest credit when I assure them that no consideration whatever would have induced me to propose any measure to Parliament which could be considered farly open to such condemnation as has beien pronounced upon the Bill now before the House. I am rejoiced to find it admitted, that in the Bill which I introduced I have not neglected to make provision for religious education. But at the same time I still hold, as I always have held, that there would be not the least probability of success for any measure by which it was proposed that the State should make provision for theological instruction. The opinions of more than one hon. Member have been pronounced in favour of a separate system of religious education; and I understood the noble Lord the Member for Newark to contend that there should be a Roman Catholic College in the south, one for Presbyterians in the north, and one for members of the Church of England in Dublin. Instead of removing the angry feelings which unhappily subsist in Ireland, I fear that his scheme of separate instruction, according to difference of creed, would tend to exasperate those feelings to excess; none more certain to produce that effect, none more likely to aggravate existing evils to a lamentable extent. In reference to the passage at the end of the 14th Clause, I must take this opportunity of saying that I consider there would be great difficulty in providing any joint religious 1145 education that would be generally acceptable to the people of Ireland. In the first place, it is absolutely necessary in framing such a measure to make it clear and plain to every man's understanding, that for eligibility to hold office there shall be no religious test, and no religious test to be applied to those persons who seek to become students at those Colleges; in short, that no religious test whatever is to be applied either to students or to professors. We thought, and we are still of opinion, that the more plainly and the more intelligibly those principles are brought out, the more acceptable and the more practically useful will the measure be likely to prove. Is there, then, after all, any novelty in the plan on which we propose to proceed? I will first notice the Universities of Scotland, and show to the House what the practice has been with regard to the enforcement of religious instruction in connexion with education in those establishments. There is no country where religion is more venerated, or where it has greater predominance over the habits and the thoughts of the people, than in Scotland. In that country the prevailing form of faith was established after a long struggle with England against a religion which was opposed to the sentiments of the people; but ultimately, the Presbyterian form of worship prevailed, and was established by the Union—if, indeed, it might not rather be considered as the basis upon which the Act of Union was framed. Now, deeply venerated as is the form of worship established throughout Scotland, and intimately bound up with all the feelings of Scotchmen as are the practices of religion, yet, in so far as the course of education in the Universities of Scotland is concerned, religion is not enforced upon the students as a study; and although professors are certainly subjected to a test to qualify them for their offices, there is no conformity required on the part of the students, neither is their attendance enforced either at divinity or theological lectures; nor, with the exception of the professors, is any test required of those who matriculate in the Scotch Universities. In answer, therefore, to what has been stated by the noble Lord the Member for Newark, I have shown that the system for which he contends does not prevail in Scotland; but, on the contrary, that parents send their children to be instructed at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, notwithstanding they are well aware that attendance on theological or divinity 1146 lectures is not compulsory; and that, in fact, the regulations of those Universities do not recognize any discipline in religious instruction, nor enforce any compulsory attendance either at divinity lectures or even at divine worship. When I look to the opposite side of the House, I see sitting there two noble Lords, both of whom can speak to the practice in this respect of the Scotch Universities, and also as to the sentiments of the parents who send their children to be educated there; and what is that practice? Why, young men are sent from their homes to the houses of professors, who superintend their morals and their education; and the result is satisfactory in both respects. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton said, during a former debate in this House, that he had had some experience of a Scotch University, previous to his matriculation in an English one; and he stated, that in his opinion, the morals and religion of the pupils are not more neglected in the Scotch, than in the English Universities. With respect to myself, I may, perhaps, be permitted to state that I had the advantage of being a member of the same College as the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford. We both matriculated at Christ Church; and I must candidly admit that the course with respect to religious education pursued at Oxford does appear to me to be somewhat extraordinary when I look back upon it. When I was matriculated, I was not compelled to state what I knew in matters of religion; but I was called upon to subscribe and to swear to what I believed. But I now solemnly state that during the two years of my residence at College, I was never—with the exception of the required attendance at chapel—once called upon to attend to any lectures either upon theology or divinity. During the whole of that time, I never received any religious instruction whatever independently and apart from that which I derived from the enforced attendance upon chapel. I never, during those two years, attended a university sermon; and I am ashamed to say, that whilst I was at Oxford, I never, during the whole period of my residence, heard one single sermon. I appeal to the hon. Baronet whether he were ever compelled to attend divinity lectures whilst he was at Oxford. I do not know what his taste may have been; but I know that unless he liked he was under no necessity to listen to sermons. I now pass from the consideration of this question, as far as Scot- 1147 land and England are concerned, to an examination of what the practice has been in Ireland. In the first place, I may observe that the hon. Member for Belfast approves of the Bill which is before the House, and with reason; for he has had some experience as to the success of the scheme of academical education which I have proposed, and which, to some extent, has been in operation in the city with which he is connected, under the direct sanction of an Act of Parliament, for a very long period. There have been objections raised to that part of the Bill which vests in the Crown the nomination of the professors in the establishments to be created in Ireland. Now, the experience of the hon. Member will enable him to inform the House that the nomination of the professors by the local governing body is the very one that has been pursued in the academical institution of Belfast. The nomination of the professors in that institution was originally vested in the governing body; they naturally enough followed the dictates of their own religious feelings, and nominated professors of their own creed. Unitarians obtained the ascendancy; and it was alleged that the professors were all selected from that class of religious teachers. The Presbyterians complained, and appealed to this House. Upon consideration, it was decided that the Regium Donum was not confined to orthodox professors; but that Presbyterians and Unitarians were alike entitled to partake of it. The Presbyterians objected to that state of things at the Belfast Institution; and, therefore, in order to prevent that academy from going to destruction, it became necessary to appoint two sets of professors—one Presbyterian, to obviate the want of orthodoxy—and the other Unitarian, in conformity with the local predominant influence. A petition has been presented against the educational scheme of the Government, with respect to these projected establishments, wherein it is stated that one of two things must inevitably take place, if religious instruction is to constitute one of the features of the scheme—namely, that the professors must of necessity be Roman Catholics, or else that there must be three sets of professors, of the three prevailing forms of belief; and, consequently, that all the branches of abstract science, even down to anatomy, must be taught by different professors to students professing different creeds. In making these observations, I do not mean to imply that the question as 1148 to the proposed method of nominating the professors under the Bill, is not open to consideration; but I have been asked this question, and I frankly replied that, considering all the different circumstances of the case, I thought it best that at least the first nominations under the Bill should be vested in the Crown. I do not mean to say, that after the first nomination has been made, a governing body might not advantageously have that power confided to it, a veto being reserved to the Crown. Nor do I say that the Bill may not be open to such an amendment hereafter; but I should deceive the House if I were now to say that we are disposed to make any such proposition, or to assent to its introduction. Now, I do not think it would be giving the proposed scheme of education fair play, if we did not take into consideration the extreme, and at the same time the just jealousy which is entertained upon religious grounds, and make a suitable provision to prevent all attempts to proselytize. I believe, with the noble Lord the Member for Newark, that no greater evil can happen to youth than to fall into habits of scepticism; and I also think that these fatal habits may be generated, or at least are much more likely to be grafted on the minds of our young men by the indiscreet attempts to which I refer, than if there were a total abstinence from any attempt to tamper with the articles of their creed. I have, therefore, thought it right to adopt some precautions against any attempts that may be made hereafter to turn lectures on abstract sciences into a vehicle for conveying peculiar religious tenets. I propose to give to the Crown the summary power of removing professors who so abuse their trust; and any such misconduct will be promptly and severely visited I have already stated that I do not contemplate any alteration in the Bill which will have the effect of varying its principle; but I have thought it due to the noble Lord the Member for Newark to make the observation which I have done; at the same time I may state that there are one or two alterations which I shall introduce into the Bill during its progress through the Committee. The first of these is with respect to the visitatorial power of the Crown. By its prerogative, the Crown cannot delegate that power to any other person but the Keeper of the Great Seal for the time being, unless such power be created by Statute. Considering the circumstances in which the new Colleges will be placed, I 1149 think it will be expedient to give such a power of delegation; and that the Executive Government should possess the right of appointing visitors, so that in districts where the Roman Catholic faith predominates, the proportion of visitors of that persuasion may be equal to that of the students at the Colleges. In the north of Ireland, the visitors would be principally selected from the Presbyterians. The Crown, by the aid of such visitors, would be enabled at once to inquire into any alleged abuse that might exist in the Colleges, and provide a remedy against it. I may also state, that although it is not the intention of the Government to endow any theological or divinity lectures, I am, at the same time, of opinion that it is very desirable there should be in connexion with these Colleges some means or some institution for providing, without the walls, religious instruction for the students. I have already stated my reasons for not making such provisions within the Colleges; and I therefore, may state, that I am not indisposed to add a clause to the Bill, when in Committee, for the purpose of facilitating the endowment of divinity lectures by private funds, and the construction of halls where such lectures may be delivered. I am bound to state, that although it is the earnest desire of Her Majesty's Government to meet the reasonable wishes of the great body of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland with regard to academical institutions in that country; and although those Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops from whom we have received a memorial, are, by their talents and their station, entitled to our respect, yet that memorial does contain certain demands to which we cannot, consistently with the principle of the Bill, give our consent. The first demand is—That a fair proportion of the professors and other office-bearers in the new Colleges should be members of the Roman Catholic Church.Now, without entering into any stipulation upon the subject, I cannot conceive it possible that any Government advising Her Majesty as to the nomination of professors, would not, in the first place, endeavour to secure in the different Colleges those who, by their learning and abilities, are the most competent; and, beyond a doubt, on the part of many of the professors, an adherence to the Roman Catholic faith would be an additional recommendation — one, too, which I have as little doubt would not be 1150 overlooked in the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown, acting under responsible advisers. Then comes the demand—That all the office-bearers in these Colleges should be appointed by a board of trustees, of which the Roman Catholic prelates of the province in which any of those Colleges shall be erected shall be members.I have already said that to a governing board, as contradistinguished from the central and Executive Government, there is an insuperable objection. To that demand, therefore, we cannot consent. Then comes the proposal for appointing Roman Catholic professors to certain classes. The memorial states—That the Roman Catholic pupils could not attend the lectures on history, logic, metaphysics, moral philosophy, geology, or anatomy, without exposing their faith or morals to imminent danger, unless a Roman Catholic professor shall be appointed for each of those chairs.Upon the subject of history I can conceive some difficulty, as it touches upon the confines of religious instruction: at the same time, of the two courses, I would rather exclude the chair of history altogether, than come under the stipulation to fill it with professors of one religious persuasion in preference to another. In the case of metaphysics and moral philosophy, I can see no possible reason or necessity for requiring professors of any particular creed, in order to render them competent teachers in those branches of instruction; and as for the other three branches, logic, geology, and anatomy, it is entirely out of the question to stipulate that they shall be Roman Catholics. Then follows the proposal—That if any president, vice-president, professor, or office-bearer in any of the new Colleges, shall be convicted before the Board of Trustees of attempting to undermine the faith or injure the morals of any student in those institutions, he shall be immediately removed from his office by the same Board.I attach the utmost importance to the necessity of adopting ample precautions against any such attempt; and I believe the most efficient you can adopt is the vesting of a summary power of removal in the Government—that Government possessing visitatorial powers, to be entrusted to certain visitors, who shall be of different religious persuasions. The next demand is—That as it is not contemplated that the students shall be provided with lodging in the 1151 new Colleges, there shall be a Roman Catholic chaplain to superintend the moral and religious instruction of the Roman Catholic students belonging to each of those Colleges; that the appointment of each chaplain with a suitable salary shall be made on the recommendation of the Roman Catholic bishop of the diocese in which the College is situate; and that the same prelate shall have full power and authority to remove such Roman Catholic chaplain from his situation.I have already said that any such appointment by endowment from the State, or the existence of any authority which shall have such a control and command over the conduct of the pupils as to render their attendance within the walls of the College upon any particular lectures or any form of divine worship compulsory, we consider to be wholly inadmissible. At the same time, I do think, for the purpose of securing discipline, superintendence, control, and training in morals and in religion, it may be desirable to let into the College under private endowments professors or teachers for the purposes of lecturing in ethics and divinity. When we go into Committee I should not be unwilling to add words to the Bill affording a facility of that nature. I have now endeavoured succinctly, but plainly and openly, to answer the leading objections that have been stated to the measure. I am of opinion that it is of the last importance to consider how education has advanced amongst the lower classes of the people in Ireland. You have now under the national scheme, according to the best authority, and apart from all other modes of education, between 400,000 and 500,000 of the lowest classes in Ireland receiving education. You have Trinity College extending the benefits of education to the highest classes, including the Catholics, for in that respect it is not exclusive; but you want the connecting link—a link which I consider to be absolutely necessary with a view to the welfare, and I might almost say the safety of the country. In my opinion these Colleges will supply it. I have already said that I believe the time is not distant when these new Colleges might be united to a university. I do not recede from that opinion; but I think that the period for deciding that question will be after those Colleges have been founded, and when, having been for a short time in operation, they shall contain students ready to seek for honours in a university to be provided by the State. I am satisfied that the present social condition of the people in 1152 Ireland, particularly with reference to the education which the humbler classes are receiving under the national scheme, demands the present measure. If I wanted to establish the injustice of the designation with which the hon. Member for the University of Oxford has branded the scheme proposed under this Bill, I might appeal to the testimony of the hon. Member for Belfast, in which I quite agree; for I sincerely believe that the national acheme of education, so far from being an irreligious scheme of education, affords the best evidence I can adduce in favour of the Bill. I am assured, on the authority of some of the heads of the Established Church in Ireland, that if you take the children, Roman Catholic and Protestant, educated in the National Schools, in any part of Ireland, and compare their knowledge of the Scriptures, and of their moral duty, with that of the children educated in the National Schools in this country, where religious instruction is strictly attended to by the pastors of the Established Church, they will not suffer by the contrast or comparison. I am satisfied, therefore, that the spread of the great truths of religion by these National Schools throughout Ireland is the noblest effort of Christianity and kind feeling towards the great body of our fellow subjects in that country, and the most successful that has ever yet been made in their behalf. This Collegiate measure is avowedly an extension, and nothing more than an extension, of the present scheme of national education from the children of the humblest to the children of the middle and upper classes. [Mr. Colquhoun: Hear, hear.] I see that the hon. Member for Newcastle dissents from that proposition. In the original measure, introduced by Lord Stanley, when Secretary for Ireland, and when he and I were Colleagues of the noble Lord opposite under the Government of Lord Grey, it was proposed that some provisions should be made for the attendance of the children on Sunday at divine service at their respective places of worship; and the rule laid down in the letter of my noble Friend to the Duke of Leinster, required a registry to be kept in the school of the attendance or non-attendance of each child at his own place of worship. It was then said that there should be compulsory attendance; and under the National School system this attendance was at first enforced; but only for a while: it was objected to by Presbyterians and Church of England mem- 1153 bers as opposed to their conscientious scruples, and has accordingly been abandoned during the last eight years. Now, those who will attend at these Colleges will have arrived at an age when they have, more or less, the right to think for themselves; and it would be harsh, if not unjustifiable, when the basis of these institutions is the exclusion of religious teaching, within the walls of the College, so far as State endowment is concerned, that there should be authority in the College to enforce attendance on any particular form of worship. I am therefore satisfied that any attempt, apart from the college instruction, at enforcing attendance on religious worship would signally fail. With regard to founding exclusive lay colleges, with the view of providing separate instruction of the different sects, we are of opinion that it would not be so effective as the measure we now propose, while I am sure that such a proposition would meet with the greatest possible opposition from this country. In endeavouring to extend to the middle classes in Ireland the benefits of collegiate instruction, I am persuaded that such a measure as the present is the only one that will be found feasible or admissible. Certain I am that some such measure is indispensably necessary. We propose it deliberately—we shall adhere to it firmly; and we feel assured that, based on such principles as those on which it is founded, it will not be rejected by the House of Commons.
§ Mr. E. B. Roche
had been anxious not to address the House to-night, but after the fair and candid manner in which the right hon. Baronet had stated the course he meant to pursue with regard to this Bill, he felt compelled to make a few observations. He meant to join with the noble Lord the Member for Newark in opposing the further progress of this measure. He admitted the difficulty of dealing with the question of education in the present state of parties in Ireland, and he was ready to give his assent to what had been called the mixed system of education; but he could not but perceive that there were great difficulties in the way of carrying out this measure. By a mixed system of education he understood that the members of different sects and creeds should receive together the ordinary elements of education; that every facility should be given to the clergymen of different denominations to impart religious 1154 knowledge to those students who adhered to their form of worship. But his main objection was to the Government appointment of the professors. The right hon. Baronet said, you must leave to us the appointment of the professors, because I am determined that no professors shall be appointed in any of these Colleges who are likely to engage in proselytizing. That might be very well while the present Government remained in power; but how soon might they be removed, and who was to replace them? It was not long since they had been challenged to dissolve Parliament, when it was said the Ministry would be defeated. Now, suppose that were so, and that the Government was placed in the hands of such men as the hon. Member for Kent, what security would they have in Ireland that proselytism would not be the order of the day? He wanted some security that the Government, in appointing professors, should be responsible, not to public opinion in England, but to the general feelings of the people of Ireland. Then he wished to ask the hon. Member for Belfast, who advocated the system of Government, what would be the consequence if the appointment of professors were placed in the hands of the Government of the day? He did not fear the spread of religious infidelity—the people of Ireland were too religious and too moral for that—but there was a kind of infidelity which was nearly as bad as religious infidelity—infidelity to one's country. If the appointment of the professors were in the hands of the Government of the day, they would spread among the youth of Ireland infidelity to the interests of their country, and that he and every Irishman would deeply deplore. Neither would he agree to hold out to that class of Irishmen from whom professors were to be taken temptations to forsake their country's interests for sums of 300l., or 500l., or 800l. a year. He had great confidence in his countrymen, but nevertheless he was not prepared to say that they were altogether proof against temptation. He wished to have men in these colleges as free and unshackled as the professors in Trinity College, Dublin, or in Oxford or Cambridge; and, if they were not free, he would say, withhold your colleges altogether rather than give them what, in his mind, would prove a curse to the country. He did not wish for Catholic ascendancy; he believed the days 1155 of all ascendancy were numbered; but he would prefer a separate system of education to such a system as was proposed by this Bill. He knew it would be objected to him that, by the course he was taking, he was preventing the Irish people from obtaining the advantages of education. He could not help that. Deplorable as their present situation was with respect to education, he would rather that they remained for a time left to their own resources, than be thrown upon such a system as this. He hoped a time would come when an enlightened Government would prevail in this country. He hoped they would not always be annoyed by those horrible principles of bigotry which actuated the people of England now; but still, if they refused them the boon on any other terms than the present measure, they were prepared to do the best they could themselves for the education of the people. They would write for them the history of their country. [An hon. Member: Who would read it?] The hon. Member might not read it; but he would tell him that the people of Ireland would read it. At any rate the blame of the want of education would rest on those who proposed this measure.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
said, the right hon. Baronet had referred, in a tone of gentle but marked censure, to an expression used by him in a former debate, when he presumed to characterize this scheme in a way which he was compelled to repeat from the taunts to which it had given rise, that it "was a gigantic scheme of godless education." What did his right hon. Friend say in answer to this charge? His right hon. Friend said, that he (Sir R. H. Inglis) had surely known his right hon. Friend too long and too well to utter such an imputation against him. Now, he could assure his right hon. Friend that he had never uttered that accusation against him, nor did he ever say that either the right hon. Gentleman or his Colleagues received this scheme as he received it, or viewed it in the same light as he viewed it. But, in his apprehension, it was as he had characterized it. He did not accuse the right hon. Gentleman individually: nor did he accuse the measure itself as being of an aggressive character; but it was a negation of all religion. What was the justification of the measure urged to-night by a leading Minister, who had charge of it? His right hon. Friend admitted that it was 1156 founded on the absence of religious instruction; that that might be right or wrong; but in the present circumstances of Ireland that was a necessary incident to any scheme of education. Now, that was admitting all which he had asserted it to be. His right hon. Friend had illustrated his position by examples drawn from the Universities of the three divisions of this great Empire. Into the case of Scotland he would not refer at that late hour of the night. But the right hon. Baronet had specially called the attention of the House to the religious education communicated in the Universities of England, particularly to Oxford, and more especially still to the College in which both his right hon. Friend and himself had received their education. He did not consider that House the place where he was called upon to give an account of what he had done or what he had neglected to do at Oxford. He admitted that opportunities were lost which could never be recalled; and he also admitted that much besides had been done which it was not necessary to advert to; but he would maintain that, if any young man passed through his University career without the regret which he had to feel, he might humbly thank God for it. Although he disclaimed being personally answerable to that House for his conduct at College, he felt called on to state that the imputation cast upon the general conduct of the College in question by his right hon. Friend was wholly without foundation. His right hon. Friend was utterly mistaken, if he supposed that the state of things to which he had referred existed now. It ought not to have been the case in his right hon. Friend's time, and he believed it was not in his own. In his time there was instruction in the general Christian faith, and in the Articles of the Church of England. One tutor in the University of Oxford had declared that he had matriculated 300 young men, every one of whom was more competent to answer questions on the doctrine of the Christian faith, and on the tenets of their own Church, than they would have been forty years ago, when they took their degree. Even if the lectures to which he had adverted were not given, instruction was secured by other means. Grotius and Burnet were studied. His right hon. Friend must know that theological knowledge did not come by instinct—that it must be encouraged and enforced—and that no young man could take his degree at Oxford without having re- 1157 ceived such Christian instruction as he would convey to the young men in Ireland? At the College he himself attended, there were weekly lectures in divinity, and his right hon. Friend had not made such inquiries into the present state of things as would justify the statement he had made. He wished that the Colleges founded in Ireland under the auspices of the Government, would enjoy such advantages in classical and general literature, and such theological instruction, as were now enjoyed by the elder Universities of this country. He agreed, and it was strange that he should agree and publicly acknowledge his agreement, with the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. O'Connell); but he was not ashamed to agree with Mr. O'Connell as to what was the only legitimate education for an immortal being; that it was not by the establishment of lecture shops, but by teaching Christian duties and the foundation on which these duties rested. They ought to carry out the same principle as the Roman Catholic prelates advocated, and insist that religion ought to be made the basis of all education whatever. It had been asked by the hon. Member for Bath what had the Fallopian tubes to do with the Gospel; but he concurred on that point with those astute men the Roman Catholic prelates, that the incidental observation of a professor of anatomy might be effective in determining the faith of a student and make him a Christian or an infidel; therefore he did not blame those bishops; but, on the contrary, he adopted their doctrines on that branch of the subject to the fullest extent. And he was, moreover, of opinion, that the House should carry out that principle, and insist on religion being made the fundamental basis of all education. He was quite willing to admit that the connexion between religion and some branches of science were not in all cases obvious at first; but he would maintain that the teacher of any branch was capable of doing much good or evil according as he was disposed. Therefore he (Sir R. H. Inglis) could not but concur with the Roman Catholic bishops, though of a necessity he totally differed with them respecting the claim which they set up to the appointment of these professorships, and also as to the endowment of their religion by the State. He admitted the power of Parliament to establish whatever system it pleased; but he entirely denied its right to do so In the present instance Her Majesty's Government would have done 1158 better if they had made the established religion of the State the foundation of these Colleges, than to deprive the people of Ireland of all religion, as they proposed. He could not admit the principle of the noble Lord who moved the Amendment, that these Colleges should be endowed with funds for the support of the clergy of three denominations in Ireland; nor did he agree with his noble Friend who seconded it, that the demands of the Roman Catholic bishops should be conceded. The right hon. Baronet had pointed to his 400,000 pupils under the national system of education as a proof of success in the system about to be adopted; but if he were informed aright that system was not so impartially administered as to prevent proselytism. He did not deprecate proselytism, because it was an evidence of sincere belief; but he wished the House to take the right hon. Baronet's argument at its worth. The hon. Baronet concluded by stating that, though he differed in some respects from both his noble Friends, he concurred in the general object which they had in view, and he therefore hoped the House would adopt the Amendment.
§ Sir J. Graham
explained that between the years 1810 to 1812, no student in Christchurch, Oxford, intending to take his degrees, was compelled to attend any theological lecture or instruction, other that at chapel, without sermon at the roll-call.
§ Mr. Redington
thought no one could doubt the great advantages of an extended system of education; and every one who knew the state of Ireland must feel that it would be beneficial to all classes there. It was equally certain that every parent, wherever he sent his child to be instructed, wished him to be brought up in the same religious principles he himself professed. The question for him to ask was, whether he could adopt the system offered by the State, and accept its benefits without sacrifice of principle? There were two modes of education — individual and mixed. He had never heard of any objection to the latter. He had never heard it asserted that it was necessary for the Professor of Anatomy at Trinity College being a Roman Catholic. In fact, Roman Catholics were in the habit of studying anatomy in all the medical schools of Scotland and England. There was great advantage in having Dr. Buckland as a professor of geology, but he had 1159 never heard, although that study was said to have a tendency to infidelity, that a geological professor should necessarily be a Roman Catholic. He thought the omission from the proposed plan of a theological professorship might be wise; but if the object was to prevent polemical discussion, that might be counteracted by the permission to found Protestant professorships. After what Hume and other historians had said of Roman Catholics, he should be glad to see a Roman Catholic professor of history, and was also desirous for a chair of moral philosophy. He thought that provision ought to be made for chaplains (not exclusively Roman Catholic, but also Presbyterian and Church of England chaplains) who should have the moral guidance of the youths in these Colleges. It would be wrong to suppose that the question of education in Ireland was settled by this Bill. That great end would not be accomplished until they either created endowments in a new establishment, open to all sects, or broke down the system of exclusion in Trinity College. He trusted that the Bill would go into Committee and be there amended, and made a measure of great importance to Ireland.
§ Debate adjourned.
§ House adjourned at half past twelve o'clock.