HC Deb 22 April 1847 vol 91 cc1158-236

said, he intended to support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury; but could not do so without stating briefly the reasons which induced him to come to that determination. He should vote for the measure of his hon. Friend; but he wished that vote to be taken only in the sense in which he gave it, as the expression of his opinion that there were grave objections to the educational plan brought forward by the Government, not an indication of his being opposed to the intervention of the State in the education of the people—still less, as the noble Lord seemed to intimate he should consider it, a vote of censure on the noble Lord and his Colleagues. Certainly, had he looked on the vote in that light, he could not have joined in it. Without his vote being so considered, it was sufficiently painful for him to differ with the noble Lord; but if he did so, it was on the noble Lord's own precept and example; if he differed from him now, it was only because it appeared to him (Sir W. Clay) that under the pressure of an influence to which he need not have yielded, the noble Lord differed from himself. In opposing the Liberal Government of 1847, he supported the principles of the Government which founded the Irish system of national education—the principles of the scheme brought forward by the Government of 1839. The noble Lord had stated that there were parts of the plan which he could himself have wished to be different; but even without that avowal, he should have found it impossible to believe that the scheme had the entire approbation of the noble Lord. He doubted whether he differed much with the noble Lord as to the merits and defects of the scheme—whether, in fact, the only difference between them was not whether it was necessary or wise now to adopt a plan of education embracing such defects, or to wait until they could have a plan less open to objection. After the most anxious consideration, he was of opinion that the objections to the present plan were of so grave a nature, that if—of which, however, he doubted—it were not in the power of the Government to carry through a plan free from those objections, it would be better to wait for some more auspicious moment, when a really good plan of national education might be successfully brought forward, than to give the sanction of the Legislature to a plan radically faulty and defective. For they must not forget that by the measure before them, a scheme of national education was for the first time brought under the consideration of Parliament. The noble Lord seemed to think it was inconsistent in those who had supported the educational grants of previous years, to oppose the present plan. But surely the cases were widely different. Those grants were merely for the fabrics of the schools. They were given into the charge of two societies totally unconnected with the State — the National and the British and Foreign. Those societies were taken generally as representing the interests of the Church and the Dissenters respectively. But the State had not interferred in the slightest degree in their internal arrangements, nor incurred the smallest responsibility as to the mode in which they conducted the schools, the fabrics of which the grants had aided to construct. Now they were about to interfere in the whole business of education, to maintain an entire educational staff, and, with respect to schools connected with the Church of England, for the first time to give the sanction of the Legislature to their system of education as regarded religious instruction. They were entitled then, they were bound indeed, to look at the Motion of the noble Lord as introducing; a large, if not a comprehensive, plan of Government education, and to look to it in its intended development and completeness. To the measure so viewed, he had, as he had stated, insuperable objections. Those objections he should state to the House with regret, perhaps, but without reserve or hesitation. With regret, because it was painful to him to differ with men with whom he commonly acted, and for whom he entertained a respect as profound as it was sincere; but without hesitation, because he felt the firmest conviction that those objections were well founded. Nor could he permit himself to be deterred from following the course he believed to be right, by the fear of being in a small minority. He could not forget that he had before been in small minorities for principles and causes, of which he had subsequently witnessed the triumph. He had opposed the Irish Coercion Bill of 1833, in a smaller minority than he expected to be in that evening. He had brought forward the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1837, with the whole of one of the great parties in that House banded against him, and with but partial and lukewarm support from the other. As far as ability went, or weight in that House, he could not but feel how unequal was the contest between the supporters and opponents of the measure; but it appeared to him that the speeches of his noble and right hon. Friends, eloquent as they were, did not apply at all, or scarcely at all, to the real difficulties of the question: they were unanswerable where no answer was intended, where he, at least, intended to make no answer—convincing where he did not need to be convinced. They proved, beyond the possibility of dispute, that it was for the good of the nation that the whole people should be educated—that the means of such education were deficient in this country—that it was the duty of the State to provide those means; but they wholly failed to convince him that the plan proposed by the Government provided the best means—that it was not, on the contrary, open to the gravest objections—that it was not, in some most important particulars, inexpedient, inefficient, or unjust. In one of the objections to the measure, which had been insisted on out of doors, which had been referred to in that House, and which was, indeed, embodied in the Motion of his hon. Friend, he could not concur, viz., its tendency to increase the influence of the Government. He agreed with the noble Lord in thinking there were no sufficient grounds for apprehending that it would make any very dangerous addition to the patronage of the Government; but was it equally true that it would not add unduly to the influence of the Church? He (Sir W. Clay) thought not. He thought, on the contrary, that no measure had of late years, perhaps not for more than a century, been brought before Parliament equally calculated to add to her power and influence. He thought this consideration one of the last importance. He did not wish to overstate it; let the House judge. He believed, in the first instance, that it would give the education of the people almost entirely into the hands of the Church. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department disclaimed any such intention. He fully believed that disclaimer. He was satisfied that the Government did not propose the scheme with any such view; but he was not the less satisfied that such would be its practical effect. In the second place, the plan invested the clergyman of every parish with wholly new functions, which would give him a degree of power and influence, injurious alike, as he thought, to the clergyman and to his flock. When the scheme had received its intended and ultimate development—and in that view they were bound to look at it—there would be in every parish of the kingdom, or nearly so, a Church of England school. That was sure to be the case. Everywhere the members of the Establishment were rich enough to comply with the conditions required by the Minutes of Council. In every parish, too, the minister of the Church—a man whose connexions, habits, and the usages of English social life, brought him into contact with the wealthiest classes—would be the earnest advocate of such a school. They might feel assured, then, that in every parish in the kingdom, or almost every parish, there would be a Church of England school. In those schools, not only were the benefits of education restricted to children whose parents consented to their being taught the peculiar doctrines of the Church, but great worldly advantages were dependent on the approbation of the clergyman of the parish. Every step of the progress of the stipendiary monitors and pupil-teachers required his certificate. Now, nothing was more certain than that appointments which could not be obtained without the approbation of any functionary, came at length to be in his gift. But from these pupil-teachers or apprentices, the youths to be educated at the expense of the State at the normal schools were to be selected. From the pupils of the normal schools were to be taken all the schoolmasters, who were sure of an adequate maintenance and of an ultimate provision; and those who should fail in obtaining that promotion were to be eligible to appointments under Government. Of course they were to have the preference over other candidates, or the prospects held out on this point would be illusory. Let them, then, for a moment, look at the power they were giving to the Church. They had a right, as he had said, to look at the scheme in its intended completeness. It had been calculated that it would require for its ultimate development, including masters, mistresses, apprentice-teachers, stipendiary monitors, pupils at normal schools, and others, not less than 80,000 salaried assistants, involving 16,000 fresh appointments every year, besides those who would get places under Government. To the success in life of all these, or so nearly all that the deduction was scarcely worth making, the certificate of the parson of the parish was necessary. Were they prepared to give to the Church power so enormous? Did the history of their own country—did any history teach them that influence so vast was a weapon safely to be trusted to the hands of any ecclesiastical corporation? Why, every man who had mixed in public life—every Member of that House—knew, that such places as this scheme would create, were the objects of the earnest ambition—of the passionate longings, not only of the labouring, but of the lower grades of the middle classes. And the power to gratify these longings, to attain those objects, they were going in a very high degree to confide to the Church. No wonder that the Church approved of it —that her dignitaries supported it warmly. What was the language of the Archdeacon of Middlesex at his recent visitation? After stating that in his opinion 'the soundness of the body politic was best maintained when the Church was adequately assisted by the State, and when the educational affairs of every parish were superintended by the parochial clergyman," he said, "that system it now appeared to be the object of the Government to acknowledge and extend." The Archdeacon concluded with an energetic appeal to the clergy in support of the Government scheme of education, and with the expression of his conviction that it would prove in the highest degree beneficial to the interests of the Church. And beyond all doubt the venerable Archdeacon was right; the scheme would be in a high degree beneficial to the interests of the Church, by enabling her ministers to exert a powerful influence over the fate and fortunes of nine-tenths of their parishioners. But was it desirable that the Church should possess such a power? He was utterly adverse to the entrusting such power to the ministers of religion—it was alien to their proper duties — it would tend to pervert and distort their own sense of those duties, and to produce among their flocks a prostration of mind and slavish obedience to their spiritual instructors, utterly at variance with that healthy and manly tone of character and independence of thought which it should be the aim of every free Government to foster and promote by all its measures among the people subject to its control. But he should be told that the Dissenters might participate equally with the Church in all the advantages held out by the scheme if they would comply with the conditions. If they would comply with the conditions—but could they? The same answer might be given as to the defender of the English law. "It was open to all," be said. "To all who can pay," it was replied. "But so is the London Tavern." The Minutes state expressly, that the conditions of participating in the benefits held out by the scheme are, "That the trustees and managers of the school provide the master with a house, rent-free, and a further salary equal to twice the amount of the grant." In how many parishes of the kingdom would the Dissenting part of the inhabitants be able to comply with these conditions? He had no means of knowing; but he doubted whether out of the great towns there would be found one parish, in ten in which the Noncon- conformists would have it in their power to comply with the terms. But if he were wrong in this estimate—if the proportion were much larger—if even there were but few parishes in which the Dissenting portion of the inhabitants could not participate in the grant—if there were but one such parish, the proposed grant would be unjustifiable, as it would be taxing the whole community for the benefit of a portion of the community. Again, with regard to one class of dissentients from the Established Church, the Roman Catholics, it appeared that, apart from all difficulties connected with pecuniary contributions, conditions were imposed, in the form of religious tests, that would render it impossible for them to participate in the advantages held out by the Government plan. But what was the answer given to this charge of injustice towards Nonconformists? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh said, in the first place, that if in any parish there were 900 members of the Church, and 100 Dissenters, you must attend to the interests of the majority and not of the minority; secondly, that the minority would not be worse off than they were before; and thirdly, that they would participate in that increased security of the whole community which a wider diffusion of education would create. A case might well be pronounced indefensible for which the brilliant intellect of his right hon. Friend could find no better defence. Suppose the question were of dispensing medicine for the body instead of the mind—suppose, in the recent Poor Law for Ireland, they had excluded Protestants, the minority, from the dispensation of medical, relief—that they had enacted that no one should receive medical attendance who did not avow his belief in transubstantiation—would his right hon. Friend have justified that exclusion? Would he have said to the remonstrating Protestants, "In the first place you are the minority, and ought not, therefore, to expect relief; in the next, you are no worse off than you were before we passed the Bill; and, in the third, that you will profit largely by the improved health and freedom from infection of the whole country?" Might they not reply, "But we pay our share of the rates, and claim our share therefore of the particular, as well as of the general, benefit. It was needless to pursue the argument further. But what said the noble Lord the Member for London? Why, admitting the defective character of the plan in this respect, he expressed a hope that the managers of Church of England schools would not adhere to the restrictions which rendered it impossible for the children of Dissenters to participate in the benefit of the education in such schools, and that where they were disposed to relax those restrictions, the Committee of Privy Council would not object to such relaxation. And was it really come to this? That the First Minister of the Crown, and that First Minister, too, the noble Lord, with all his moral courage, with all his love of religious liberty, should ask the sanction of the Legislature to a system of religious instruction the most jealously exclusive and sectarian, and then, feeling its injustice, express in the same breath a hope that that system should be infringed—that the very regulations he had called on Parliament to enact should be broken. In the same spirit the noble Lord the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests admits that the Minutes as they now stand exclude Roman Catholics, but says he will not continue a member of the Committee of Privy Council if that exclusion be continued. But then, in the name of common sense, why call on Parliament to sanction such Minutes? But let them look at the plan in its best aspect—that in which its promoters wished it to be considered. Suppose, said the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, there were four schools connected with the Church of England, the Free Church of Scotland, the Wesleyans, and the Independents, respectively; all might, on complying with the same conditions, receive the same assistance. Where then, he asked, was the injustice? But was there ever a contrivance more clumsy, more cumbrous, more costly, to prevent injustice. These four schools might be in the same district, the same parish; the entire number of children might not be more than one school could accommodate, and you create four, with quadruple sets of masters, pupil-teachers, monitors, and inspectors. You might have one good school, you provide four bad ones. But he might be told that was the present state of affairs. True, but it had not the sanction or assistance of the State. They repudiated the voluntary principle as applied to education; but they adopted its worst characteristic—its narrow, sectarian, and exclusive spirit. But then, it was said, look at the difficulties with which the question was surrounded. Some measure for the promotion of education was necessary. The state of religious feeling prevented their doing all that was desirable; but something must be done, and this, at least, was a step in the right direction. He denied that assertion. In many important particulars it was a step in the wrong direction. It was a step towards sectarian, instead of general and comprehensive education—a step towards the farther separation of the people, instead of towards a system which might be made a very efficient means of uniting them in feeling and opinion—a step towards an unjust and partial, instead of towards a fair and equal extension of Government assistance towards all classes of the community. The truth was, their difficulties arose from the fundamental error of the Government interfeing at all in religious instruction. He had already said, that he did not agree with those who denied the right or expediency of the State providing the means of education for all children for whom it was not otherwise provided. The arguments for such provision by the State were, in his opinion, unanswerable; but then, in a country which acknowledged in religion the right of private judgment, it seemed to him equally clear that such provision must not be accompanied by conditions which violated those rights of conscience which they were bound by their faith as Protestants to respect. The duty of the State was to provide the best possible system of secular instruction, affording, at the same time, to the friends of the children instructed every facility for combining with such instruction the inculcation of religious truth according to their respective and conscientious views of such truth. He might be told that, in the present state of religious feeling in the country, such a system was impracticable. He did not believe in any such impracticability. There was an immense advance of public opinion since the opposition offered to the scheme proposed by Lord Melbourne's Government in 1839. The public were more aware of the present defective state of popular education, and more alive to the necessity of remedying it. He could not conceive, after the public declarations of opinion by men so eminent as Dr. Hook on the one side, and Dr. Vaughan on the other, why a liberal Government should despair of carrying through some general plan of education, some plan which might comprehend the members of all religious sects, and violate the conscientious feelings of none. He might be told, that those who advocated the voluntary principle, as applied to education, would object to such a scheme equally with the present. A very large portion of opposition at least would be neutralized; of that they might be sure from Dr. Vaughan's letter, recently published; and with regard to the remaining objectors, their strongest ground of reasonable objection would be taken away. They could no longer say, as at present, we object to receive any portion of the grant from the State, because another portion goes to the support of religious opinions of which we conscientiously disapprove. At all events, the advocates of such a scheme would, in encountering opposition, have the enormous advantage of being in the right; at present they were in the wrong. He was convinced that such a scheme was practicable, that it was possible to devise a scheme of national education, which with the best secular instruction, should combine full religious instruction given in its best form, because by its natural teachers. He believed that such a scheme promulgated with the authority of the State, not compulsory, but left to each locality to adopt if they should think fit, would speedily meet with universal acceptance. Until they could have such a scheme, he was firmly persuaded they had better go on as they were. Better trust to the operation of the voluntary principle as it was now working, than sanction by the authority of the State its worst errors, and render difficult—perhaps impossible—the creation of a sounder system. Let them wait for a more auspicious time. Such was his confidence in the ultimate prevalence of truth, that he felt confident of the advent of such a moment. Then a scheme of national education might be successfully brought forward—more worthy of a liberal Government to propose, and of the Legislature to sanction—more worthy of the noble Lord—more worthy of the great name he bore—that name of which his own career was yet destined, perhaps, to form the noblest illustration. For the reasons he had attempted, however imperfectly, to lay before the House, he should, although with deep regret, yet with a full persuasion that he was best doing his duty to his constituents and the public, vote for the Amendment of his hon. Friend.


felt bound to tender his thanks to the Government for the course they had taken with regard to this question, and at the same time to give the measure his unqualified support. He congratulated the Government, also, on the strength of their arguments and the effect of their speeches, which had been such as were seldom found in debates on subjects where there was so much difference of opinion as on this. Why, too, had the speech of the hon. Member for Finsbury been so weak? Why had the hon. and learned Member for Bath been on this question less pointed and attractive than usual? It was because they were both—and the same remark applied to the hon. Member for Durham—arguing in a weak cause. While thus admitting the value of the measure, he must add that there was one objection that had been raised by a part of the Dissenting body which deserved attention. It was complained that much hardship would be sustained by Dissenters in localities where their numbers were limited, who would not directly participate in the grant, but who would yet be excluded from the Church of England schools. It was as an attached member of the Church of England, and as a member of the National Society, as one who would never be a party to aught that would injure the established religion, that he referred to this point. He was deeply impressed with the actual necessities of the country in respect of education, and convinced that the time was come when they must take some steps to meet those necessities. They must approach the question, also, in the spirit of charity. It was quite possible, he was convinced, to take some course that would overcome the difficulties of the case. There was an establishment in this country, with which many Members of that House were no doubt personally acquainted, which afforded a practical example of what might be effected. The system pursued at that school was approved of by the town-council of Birmingham (where it was situated), who were most of them Dissenters. He held in his hand a letter descriptive of that school (written in 1843, but he had no reason to suppose the state of things had since been altered), which he would read to the House:— King Edward's School, Birmingham, April 11, 1843. Dear Sir—I take the earliest opportunity to reply to the letter you favoured me with yesterday, and to give such particulars as I am able respecting our plan of education as regards Dissenters. With this I enclose a list of the number of children attending the schools, of Church of England and Dissenting parents, at two periods, of this and the last year:— Return of the Number of Children of different Religious Denominations in the Classical, Commercial, and five Elementary Schools on King Edward the Sixth's Foundation in Birmingham:—

February, 1842. March, 1843.
Church of England 748 798
Independents 133 107
Wesleyans 116 122
Baptists 60 72
Socinians 38 30
Lady Huntingdon's Chapel 10 8
Roman Catholics 8 4
Swedenborgians 7 6
Presbyterians 6 8
Jews 1 4
Quakers 1 1
Calvinist 0 1
Irvingite 1 0
Plymouth Brethren 1 0
Total 1,133 1,161
Dissenters 385 363
The numbers were taken as on the day when the census was made. Absence from sickness, and vacancies not filled will explain the inequality of the sums. Besides the classical and commercial schools, there are three elementary schools for boys of a lower class, and two for girls, the whole seven containing about 1,200 children. My rules areas follows:— 1. All are required to attend at the school prayers, which consist of extracts from the liturgy, read to the classical and commercial schools by myself, and to the elementary schools by the muster or mistress. The children stand during prayers, as at Rugby and most of our great public schools. No response is required of them, though in the elementary schools many do join. Thus no act is required of the Dissenter except respectful demeanour during the religious service of the school where he is tolerated, while the Church of England child may join in response, it he will. 2. The religions lessons are placed first in the day. Any child whose parents request leave in writing from me, would be allowed to come to school one hour later on the mornings set apart for religious lessons. No children now request this, except 3. The Jews, who are further allowed on Saturday to come in at a quarter to 10 o'clock a.m., when their service is over, and not to write (which is work) on that day. I have a paper signed by nine of those who had sons in our school asking to have their great holidays allowed them, about eight or ten days in the year, most of them coinciding with our own. I have also allowed holidays of obligation (very rare) to Roman Catholics. Baptists (on leave asked by their friends) are not asked the questions which affect them in the Church catechism. 5. The boys' schools are also open on Sunday for the regular attendance of those whose parents wish it, when upwards of 300 attend. In the classical and commercial schools the Church catechism is taught on Sunday, in the others on Saturday. I may be allowed to state the results of the above system, since I established it in 1838 and the following year:— There are no complaints on the part of Dissenters. On the contrary, in the course of a violent opposition to the governors of the school before a Committee of the House of Commons in June last, the town-council (who are mostly Dissenters) instructed their counsel to speak most favourably of the system of the school. The governors are all members of the Church of England, and strong supporters of the Establishment. Yet the number of applications for admission to the school from Dissenters as well as Churchmen is very great. Some governors are pledged twelve or fourteen deep, and the examination and admission of candidates for the elementary schools on the first Tuesday in each month generally takes me from three to four hours. The lists of children waiting for admission are generally very full. I feel a difficulty in speaking of the working of the system, though it is due to the school to say the tone and morality of the boys are much improved, and the knowledge possessed by the boys of the classical and commercial schools in particular on religious subjects, has generally been the subject of express commendation from the annual examiners, who are usually tutors of colleges in the universities. It is with sincere pleasure that I learn from, your letter that the measure now before Parliament will have your support. If the measure is rejected, we shall have in a few years to contend with another uneducated generation, increased above the present, not in arithmetical, but geometrical proportion. All I have seen here—and I commenced under much suspicion and distrust—has led me to believe that with care and reasonable concession much may be done. I believe we have gained rather than lost. Allow me, Sir, with sincere respect and esteem, to assure you I shall be most happy to contribute by every means in my power of giving information to aid your views, and remain, Your faithful and obedient servant, JAMES PRINCE LEE. John Somerset Pakington, Esq., M.P. P.S. In the hurry of writing, I have omitted to add, that many of our boys attend the Sunday schools, both as teachers and otherwise. And I may also state, that last year we had the son of the Wesleyan minister for that year, and now have the son of the Swedenborgian minister, and also a boy attached to the service of the Roman Catholic Cathedral, as it is called, St. Chad's. In respect of prayers, the system before I came here was to allow a Roman Catholic to leave the school before and come in after prayers. To this I objected, and my wish was immediately complied with. He thought much good would be done if the National Society would make some such concessions as those which had led to the results described in that letter. Those concessions he fully believed might be made not only without injury to the cause of the Church and of religion, but would greatly promote both. He would add, that he had hoped the Government would have attempted to do more, and that an approach to something like a State system of education would have been made by them. But while he was disappointed to some extent with the Government scheme if they really found difficulties in the way of a more extensive plan, he did not think they could have framed one upon a more judicious or excellent system than that which they now proposed.


was anxious to express an opinion upon this subject, having devoted for a length of time considerable attention to it. Like the hon. Member who had preceded him, he was much disappointed at the Government measure, inasmuch as he had anticipated, from the address of the noble Lord to his constituents, that he saw the importance of bringing forward a great general comprehensive measure of education, such as was calculated to meet the overwhelming progress crime was making in this country; and he confessed the result of that pledge and promise was far below what, in his opinion, the noble Lord was bound to bring forward. He did hope that those who took a lead in the Church of England, and amongst Dissenters also, would allow a more Christian feeling and an anxiety to concede their scruples, in order best to overtake that great and paramount evil, the ignorance and crime of this country. Early in the Session, he (Mr. Hume) put a question to the noble Lord, asking him whether he would be prepared to bring forward a comprehensive measure; of education. The answer to that question was in the affirmative; and now, when he saw them voting 7,000,000l. for the Army alone, and that, in furtherance of this great and comprehensive question they were only called upon to vote 100,000l., it did appear to him as a reproach that the; result of the deliberations of the Government should have been so impotent as it was. The people of this country were, he believed, prepared for a much larger grant; and here he would state, that although he was obliged to differ from the noble Lord, he wished it to be understood that he approved of his statements as to the necessity of a more extended system of education; he differed only as to the extent of the remedy which was proposed. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Gisborne) made the other evening some very unjust remarks with regard to Scotland. No man who looked back to the history of Scotland as pourtrayed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, could doubt for one moment the state of that country prior to the passing of the Act of 1693, which made the land maintain the schoolmaster. The present condition of Scotland proved how well that measure had succeeded, and he wished he could see it applied to this country. He denied the imputations on the moral character of his countrymen which had been thrown out by the hon. Member for Nottingham. There were in every place and in every society bad men and bad habits, and he admitted that many of his countrymen drank excessively, but that was by no means the general rule. The hon. Member for Nottingham had brought forward Mr. Laing as an authority on the Prussian system of education; but the hon. Member mistook Mr. Laing's arguments altogether. There was in Prussia a most complete system of education; and he (Mr. Hume) thought that the principle of Government providing for the education of the people was a correct one. When they considered the numbers who became chargeable on their respective parishes throughout the country in consequence of causes connected with their ignorance, it must appear clearly to be the duty of the Government to take care of the education of the people, and prevent as far as possible the evil effects that resulted from allowing them to remain in a state of ignorance. He did not mean by education merely a knowledge of reading and writing; but he meant a moral training by which men might be taught to keep their passions in subjection. The hon. Member for Nottingham had also said, in alluding to the state of Scotland, that some of its peasants were barbarians; although he did not know how that could be reconciled with the education which the people received, and which was such, according to the hon. Member's own statement, as to enable them to engage in polemical controversies. He thought that Prussia had been brought forward in a manner which was not favourable to the arguments of the hon. Member; for in Prussia every man could read and write, so great was the spread of education; and the Government of Prussia invariably refused to employ any man, even as a labourer, who did not possess a certain amount of education; and the effect of that improved and extended instruction was a great decrease of crime throughout the country. He would ask hon. Members to consider what effects such a system would produce upon parents in this country by inducing them to send their sons to school. The effects which such a system would produce must be manifest upon a moment's consideration; but he would remark that without any such inducement, he had seldom, in this country, met with parents who were not desirous that their children should be educated. The laxity of morals amongst certain classes in Prussia had been spoken of as if it had some necessary connexion with education; but he would remark that in the United States, where education was widely diffused, the morality was very high, and the females were remarkable for the purity and virtue of their lives. He did not think, therefore, that the hon. Member for Nottingham was justified in disparaging the exertions of the State in encouraging education on account of any laxity of morals in Prussia. The effect of education in Prussia was, that the state of crime was much influenced by it; and if he (Mr. Hume) had the statistics by him, he could show to the House that crime was greatly diminished in Prussia; and if the liberal institutions, the establishment of which was lately commenced in that country, were properly carried out, it would be seen that education would produce the most advantageous results in combination with such institutions. In Great Britain, the spread of education had reduced crime by thirty-two per cent in some cases, as it appeared from the statistics of the last three years, whilst there was a proportionate increase of crime in those districts where ignorance prevailed. Mr. Leeson, a very able actuary in this metropolis, had shown that where ignorance prevailed, crime also prevailed in the same ratio. Mr. Laing, in speaking of the efforts of the Prussian Government in encouraging education, said truly, that the British Government adopted a wise and excellent educational scheme in introducing the penny postage system, by which it no longer cost a man a day's wages to pay the postage of a letter, and which afforded to all persons such palpable proofs of the advantages of education. He would ask, however, of what use was the penny postage to those who could neither read nor write? The noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests had stated that the question of Government interference with education was beset with difficulties. It might be so beset; but did that constitute a reason why we should be the only people in Europe who did not benefit by experience of the advantages of education? Were we to be debarred on that account from that extended system of education which had been found so beneficial in the United States and other countries? What he wanted to see was education given to the people as a right, not as a concession. He admitted the difficulties which the Government had to contend with; but, after the declaration of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to his constituents in London, he thought the noble Lord was, to use a common word, skulking. He was retiring: and who was he retiring from? Retiring from the Bishops. Let the Bishops come in all their robes, and he cared not a pin for them as long as they were opposed to what he would say was the right of all Englishmen, namely, the right of fair play. Let them understand that the Church was opposed to them, if the Church was really opposed to the proposition. There was another set men who were almost as bad as the Bishops, namely, the Dissenters, who were trying to dragoon men into the adoption of their opinions. But he would take the Church and the Dissenters together; and he would let them appoint the best of the Bishops, and the best men amongst the Dissenters, to state their objections and their code of morality before a Committee of the House; and he had no doubt they would be very easily answered as regarded their objections to an extended system of education. For his part he held that the best step towards sound religion was a good education, and he was ready to oppose and answer the absurd propositions of Mr. Baines; but on that occasion he did not wish to take up too much of the time of the House. He would, with respect to this matter, put the Bishops and the Dissenters in the same boat, and send them across the Channel. There might be difficulties in the way of Government in this matter; but many things were difficult to cowards which were not difficult to the courageous. Men ought to be bold in such a cause. Let the Government come forward and tell the House what they thought would be the best system—what ought to be done, and how it ought to be done. How could it be supposed that the difficulties of different religious creeds could not be surmounted in this country as well as in Holland? In Dublin no inconvenience or evil result had followed from having children of different religious creeds in the same schools. Let a Committee be appointed to inquire into the whole question. That was a course for which there was ample precedent. But the fact was that it was impossible to mix up a religious and secular education. He would be allowed to revert to two instances in point. Up to 1806, after the French Revolution, when the kingdom of Holland wan subject to France, the combined system of education, religious and secular, had been attempted to be practised in the former country. In 1806, however, the French Government seeing the impracticability of the plan, changed it, confining the teaching in schools to secular education alone. The heads of the Church in Ireland accepted the alteration with the utmost readiness, and complete success crowned the experiment. Why, then, would they persist in forcing schoolmasters to do the work of clergymen? The duties of the two were perfectly distinct. Let them have school education from schoolmasters, and religious teaching from clergymen. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to refer to the Fourteenth Report of the Commissioners of Education in Ireland, to show how in the opinion of these gentlemen, it was impossible satisfactorily to mix up religious and secular education, and how great was the advantage of having schools in which no attempt should be made to influence the religious opinions of the children. A system of education grounded upon the recommendations in that report had been adopted in Ireland, and had met with the most perfect success. Why should not the same system be introduced here? He held that those sectarians who went about fanning the flames of religious discord, and putting down all attempts to educate the people, were the cause of three-fourths of the crime and misery arising from popular ignorance around them. Let a proper liberal system be once established, and he should be prepared, instead of voting 100,000l., to vote 500,000l., for its support, No price could be too great to pay for the advantages of education. The present state of things required a greater and more comprehensive measure than that which Government had brought forward. A Committee was what was required, and for its appointment he would vote. He contended, too, that we ought to have a Minister of Education, and under him a board composed of representatives of all the great religious parties in the community. Let every parish be assessed, as was the case in other countries, to set the necessary machinery in motion. He wished to be understood as not passing any reflection on Ministers, but he did wish to record his opinion that their measure was not ample enough; and did not aim at getting rid of difficulties which had been successfully encountered in other countries.


expressed his intention of supporting the project of Her Majesty's Government. This course he took after much hesitation, acknowledging the difficulties of the subject. He gave his support to the project, because, as had been remarked by a right rev. Prelate out of doors, it appeared to him that the country had arrived at a crisis when it was imperative that something should be done on this great and important subject. He certainly thought that it was the imperative duty of the State to interfere on this subject; for was it not lamentable to reflect that out of every 100 persons in England, only about thirty or forty were able to read, and not less than 800,000 or 1,000,000 of children were running about the streets neglected, some of them being brought up to rapine as to a profession? He gave his support to the Government measure, not because he thought it perfect in itself, but because he thought that on the whole it was the best that could be obtained, and because on the whole public opinion preponderated in its favour. He, nevertheless, felt that he was met by preliminary difficulties. He felt that he was taxing the whole of the people for that in which only a portion could participate. Besides, there was this objection to this supplementary measure in aid of the voluntary system: If a squire residing in the south of England desired to erect a school, he would write to the Council of Education, and state that he was ready to give perhaps 300l. for the object if the Government would give their customary aid; and he would accordingly receive an answer to the effect that, under those circumstances, the Council of Education would be most happy to give the grant. But in a colliery village, in the north of England, there might not be the means of collecting any sum to enable the people to apply to the Council of Education, and the population there would consequently be left without education, though they might require it more, and though they might pay more to the Exchequer, in the consumption of excisable articles and in taxes, than the population of the place in the south of England, where the squire came forward with his subscription of 300l. He, therefore, thought that if the House adopted the present measure, it would be necessary to add to it some further provision for such places. There were three schemes for educating the people, the voluntary system, of which the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Gis- borne) was an advocate; the compulsory system, with respect to which he believed that the hon. Member for Montrose was the only person who had advocated it in that House; and the proposed scheme, which came in aid of the voluntary system; and he thought that the Government had taken the best course in deciding to assist voluntary efforts. But where there were no voluntary efforts, he was at a loss to know what system could be adopted, unless they came to a system of a somewhat more secular character. This principle had been recognised by the House already most distinctly in the Bill brought in by the right hon. Member for Dorchester, which was characterized by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University as establishing a godless system of education, and which provided that separate apartments should be set apart wherein the different ministers of religion might give religious instruction to the children. He should be glad to see nothing but education by the Church, in consequence of the people being all united to the Church; but as that was not the case, they must deal with circumstances as they found them; and he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Arundel, who spoke the other night so much to his credit, in his unwillingness to be like the dog in the manger; and, because he could not give that kind of instruction which he preferred to all, he would not say that secular instruction, in itself, was an evil rather than a good. Though he did not attach so much importance to it as some people did, he believed it to be, on the whole, an incomparably greater good than evil; and he should be glad to afford it, under the circumstances he had mentioned, to his countrymen. He regretted that the Government had not either postponed this question to a new Parliament, or brought forward a measure having more stability of purpose and comprehensiveness about it. He un-feignedly regretted the exclusion of the Roman Catholics from the benefit of the measure; and he felt that that exclusion cast a stigma on the whole of their present proceedings. He regretted that the Ministry in the outset had not taken a more resolute course. He was glad to hear the noble Lord at the head of the Government, the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests, and the Secretary for the Home Department, abjure, as it were, their own measure, observing that they could not sit as members of a board for any length of time which should exclude the claims of the Roman Catholics. During the present century, they had removed the Roman Catholic disabilities; yet it was impossible to deny that the proposed scheme, as far as the Roman Catholics were concerned, did, by excluding them, create a new Roman Catholic disability. He had heard with regret the speech of the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Bright) the other night, directed as it was much more against the Church and the aristocracy than anything else. Such a course was unfair on the part of an hon. Gentleman who had attained to a certain extent a position in the country; and considering he looked forward with almost a certainty of success to be the representative of the great town of Manchester, and remembering who was his opponent there, for him to come forward and stigmatize the aristocracy of this country as "a privileged class," was below what was to be expected from him. The hon. Member ought to have had some pride in the land of his birth, and the constitution under which we live—a constitution constantly infusing fresh blood into that aristocracy; while hon. Members were found making their way to that House, and describing themselves as coming from the lowest ranks of the people, such as the hon. Member for Stockport and the hon. Member for Durham himself. The hon. Member ought to have had a pride in the constitution of his country, and not so have stigmatized the class in question as "privileged." The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Gisborne) had taken occasion also to attack the Church of England; and then with a singular infelicity alluded to the people of Scotland as inferior to the people of England in moral habits and moral training, though superior to them in education. In doing so, he bore unconsciously a very strong testimony to that old English faith and to those old English habits which were so valuable to us, and which had grown up with us. Whatever the House might do upon the subject of this measure, he (Sir W. James) trusted we should never fall into a mere system of school teaching, nor abandon those old English habits of which he would say, long may they be—as they long had been—as, in spite of many failings in this ago, he trusted they still were—the pride of our common country.


expressed the extreme pain which he felt at the indefensible exclusion of the Roman Catholics from all participation in the grant which was to be distributed under the Minutes of the Privy Council. He had heard nobody who had spoken on that subject in the House, but who appeared to be actuated by the same feelings; and it was impossible to imagine any distinction between the Roman Catholics and the other classes of the community which did not give the former an equal claim. No one could look at the children of the poor Roman Catholics, who did not perceive that if there were a difference, they were distinguished by Icing the poorest, the most destitute, and the most exposed to all the vices and all the crimes which were generally the accompaniments of ignorance in this country; and what, he would ask, was there that could justify, under these circumstances, that these children should be selected to be without the benefits of instruction? He could not, therefore, but express the deepest feelings of regret that Her Majesty's Government—whom he had so long supported, and whom he had long been accustomed to admire—should, in deference to expediency, to bigotry, and party feeling, have submitted to what they must have felt to be a degradation. Who could say but that this demand for exclusion was unjust? And if it was unjust, what was necessary to subdue it, but to resist it? He could not therefore but feel the force of what every Member in the House who had spoken on the subject had said—namely, that there was no occasion for the exclusion of Roman Catholic children from the benefits of the grant. He should however, notwithstanding, give his vote for this measure of the Government, because he would not consent to brave any longer the perils of prolonging ignorance. He should vote for it, because he felt that the greatest national misfortunes would arise from prolonging the present state of things. No one could be more deeply sensible than he was that it was as much the duty of the State to provide for the instruction of the people as to punish the excesses and crimes of delinquents; and if so, it was surely better to prevent crime by instruction, than to punish it as the result of neglect. All must now feel that it was to improved education that we must apply ourselves for the mitigation of the evils which now pressed upon the country. This subject was forced upon us by a thousand considerations. We had too long, without due consideration, sent from our shores criminals to populate countries which had ill deserved such treatment at our hands; but this evil had now come back upon us, and we must consider what otherwise could be done with convicts. We had to reflect upon the evils which had been occasioned to our colonial empire by a course of proceeding which it was impossible to justify. It was also on that account become important to inquire into the causes of crime, in order to lessen its amount. But he felt that it was needless and almost impertinent in him to detain the House on these topics, as he chiefly rose to express the deep pain he felt at the compromise—the unfortunate compromise—between the Wesleyans and the Government. He believed that there were some objections to the measure in other respects; and he could not but think that it would have been even better for the Government to have delayed bringing it forward for a few months, until they could have framed some clear, comprehensive, and definite plan, which, by its integrity, impartiality, and usefulness, would have appealed to the plain good sense and honest feelings of the community, and thus have enabled them, as a Government, to carry their measure against the prejudices and bigotry of party. He confessed he did not view with much apprehension the influence which was likely to be exerted by the Established Church. He knew that the clergy of the Church of England would have a considerable share in the regulation and patronage of these schools; and so they ought to have, for he felt that they had of late greatly increased their claims upon the regard and the affections of the country. Every one who remembered what the clergy were thirty or forty years ago, and observed what they were now, must view with vastly diminished apprehensions the prospect of their ascendancy in the rural districts. At the same time, no one could but feel the great disadvantages under which the children of the Dissenters in these districts must labour; and he thought that the Government must be convinced that great efforts ought to be made to prevent the continuance of those disadvantages. He (Sir John East-hope) belonged himself to the Church of England; he delighted in her communion, and he saw her clergy fulfilling the duties of their high vocation with that purity and devotion which gave them the best title to respect and influence. But who that lived in a village, and saw ten or a dozen children of Dissenters excluded from the benefits of a State education, because their parents happened to be conscientious, but must lament such a state of things? He thought this was an evil which must at once be admitted, and deplored by the noble Lord. There was another part of the measure which was in his opinion objectionable—that which required different inspectors to be travelling over the country. He could hardly believe that any one could doubt that it would greatly add to the efficiency and practical advantages of the measure if the inspectors were the same for all the schools. But the Wesleyans were allowed to choose their own inspectors; other denominations would demand the same right; and to the Church the right of having inspectors of its own must of course be conceded. Why should that be? Yet such, in fact, must be the state of things under the proposed measure. Well, then, he must say that, strongly as he felt the necessity of an improved education for the people, he should have preferred to have seen the Government, instead of the present defective scheme, even at the expense of some short delay, submit to Parliament a just and comprehensive measure, which, in its integrity, appealed to the good feeling and understanding of the people, on which reliance might be placed to overbear the objections of those who would never be satisfied with anything short of the predominance of their own sectarian interests. In deference to the great principle at issue, he should support this measure, though he did so with considerable pain, from the incomplete manner in which it was submitted to the consideration of Parliament. He could not conclude the few observations which he thought it his duty to make, without referring to the speech of the noble Member for Arundel (the Earl of Surrey), which did him so much honour. Earnestly did he hope that the Wesleyan denomination would ponder over the sentiments of that noble Lord, who was the honourable and honoured representative of the religious community to which he belonged, and learn from that speech a practical lesson of Christian charity. There was no man in that House more decidedly, conscientiously, and determinedly opposed to the noble Lord in his religious opinions than he was; but whilst he honestly entertained that difference of opinion, he honoured him for the manliness and loved him for the charity of his views—a declaration which he should not hesitate to make, if the consequence should be to consign him to privacy until the end of his life.


It was his intention to vote for the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury; and though some hon. Members dissented from the latter part of the resolution, he felt bound to state his concurrence in it. Whilst he gave his vote, he felt as convinced as any hon. Member of the necessity of education for the people. He thought education the foundation of every good. He also assented to the interference by the State with the education of the people; but he thought, if it did interfere, it should do so in such a manner as that the education which it supplied should be equally useful to all. He felt bound to say, that the plan which the Government had submitted was a violation of the rights of the people; for he maintained, that if a sum for the education of the people was drawn from every part of the community, all had a right to derive equal benefit from it. He did not see why the principle of the system of national education, which had worked so well in Ireland, should not be here adopted. It was a rule in those schools that half an hour before, and half an hour after literary instruction, the children should receive religious instruction. There were now about 500,000 children receiving instruction under that system. It had, in the first instance, been opposed by certain classes of the clergy, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Protestant. It had to contend with the opposition of all the sectarians; but when the Government showed itself resolute, all the sections of the three religions were obliged to give way, and accept the aid of the Government. He thought the advantages of mixed education were undeniable. It instilled into the minds of the young feelings of kindness and good-will, which were kept up in more advanced age; but such an education, to be useful, must be open to all on the same terms. The exclusion of the Roman Catholics under this Bill was most unworthy of a Government which was founded on and had always avowed liberal principles. It always gave him pain to disagree with the present Government; but he felt it an imperative duty to state his condemnation of the view which they appeared to take of the present question. He had heard the speech of the noble Member for Arundel, and though he gave it every praise, as emanating from kindness of heart, he could not express his approbation of the course which the noble Lord stated his determination to adopt. That the son of the premier Peer of England, the leader of the Catholics, should submit to such an insult as was offered to the Catholics by those Minutes, seemed to him extraordinary. The people of England would not be obliged to the Catholic body for submitting to an invasion of their rights, and a consequent surrender of the principle of civil and religious liberty. The people of England would respect them more if they stood up manfully for their rights, and insisted that no expenditure for public education should take place if they did not receive the share to which they were fairly entitled. It had been supposed that the exclusion of the Catholics from the benefits of the grant had been the result of the representations made by the Wesleyans; and the resolutions of that body which he had seen, afforded some ground for that supposition. But he could take on himself to say, that the Wesleyans of the town which he represented were no parties to this compromise of principle on the part of Government; for he had presented several petitions from that body which breathed the truest sentiments of religious liberty. Such a departure from principle as that exhibited by Government, was inconsistent with their whole history as a party; and he greatly feared it would lead to evils which it was impossible to foresee. He opposed this grant, because he desired to see the Catholics placed on equality with their fellow-subjects, and that neither Catholics, nor any other religious community, should have a preponderance of power. He should rejoice to see his own Church extending its influence through the legitimate means of purity and morality, but not by wielding power in a way inconsistent with the rights and religious liberties of others.


Sir, I have given notice of a Motion with regard to the subject before us; and before I sit down I mean to call the attention of the House more particularly to the object of that notice. But first, let me state that I agree with many of the opinions of the hon. Member for Montrose, and of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets; I agree with the hon. Baronet, that a system of national education, in which secular instruction alone should be given, without reference to any religious instruction, would be far preferable to any other system of national education. But I fear that at the present moment, and in the present state of public opinion, such a system would be impracticable. I take it for granted that on the hon. Baronet's Motion we shall be in a small minority; I think, however, the time will arrive when his opinions on this subject will receive the sanction of the majority of the people of this country. The Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury is simply for a Committee to inquire whether the measure of the Government be expedient or not. I think the House has no need of further information on that subject, and that the House is perfectly competent to come to a decision upon it without the assistance of a Committee of Inquiry. And the hon. Gentleman entirely failed in showing any reasons for such an inquiry. It is, I believe, agreed to take the discussion on the Government scheme for education on the present Motion. With regard to that scheme, there are several important questions:—1st. Whether the State should or should not interfere in the education of the people. 2nd. If it should interfere, in what manner and to what extent. 3rd. Whether the Government measure is the best possible under existing circumstances, or sufficiently good to induce the House not to reject it. With regard to the first question, whatever may be the opinions of some very respectable persons out of doors, only two hon. Members have opposed on principle any interference of the State in the education of the people. First, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham opposed it. Secondly, the hon. Member for Durham. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose has refuted the paradoxes of the former; the right hon. Baronet the Member for Devonport has disposed of the arguments of the latter. The State ought not to interfere with the education of the people! I ask why not? Is the education of the people a matter of no importance to the community? Is it, therefore, unworthy of the consideration of the State? Let me ask, what should be the end and aim of every Government which deserves the name of a Government? I answer, the object of a Government should be not merely to coerce its subjects to obedience by brute force and painful punishments, but to make them good men, good citizens, industrious members of society, and willingly obedient to the law. For this purpose the people must be instructed at least in the elements of physical knowledge; they should be taught the difference between right and wrong, and their minds should be framed and fashioned to virtue. The education of the people is therefore a mat- ter of primary importance to the State; it is the highest duty of a State. Such were the opinions of the great thinkers of ancient times—of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and whatever progress we may have since made in physical science and the arts of life, I doubt much whether, in politics and ethics, we have gone beyond those first of men. And those doubts are strengthened when I hear hon. Gentlemen almost affirming that the State has no nobler nor higher functions than those of a tax-gatherer, a policeman, a gaoler, and an executioner. But even suppose that the main duties of a State consist in levying money, and in preventing and punishing crime—in order to perform those duties easily and well, it is of importance to a State that its subjects should be instructed and educated; for the more instructed a people are, the wealthier they are likely to become; the more educated a people are, the fewer crimes they are likely to commit—for ignorance and the want of moral education are the prolific sources of poverty, and of the crimes which abound in this country. Sir, we are almost at our wit's end for the means of checking crime. I presume to speak with some authority upon this subject, having been the chairman of a Committee of the House appointed to inquire into the effects of certain punishments—having, therefore, had both the time and the opportunity to study the causes of crime, and the means of preventing and punishing crime—I repeat, we are almost at our wit's end for the means of checking crime. We must immediately reform our whole penal system, build new gaols and penitentiaries, and expend enormous sums on the punishment of offenders. The most imperious necessity requires that all this should be done with the smallest possible delay, and the Government have undertaken the task. I feel, however, persuaded that though good gaols, good gaolers, and a good system of punishment may tend to stop the progress of crime, yet, without good schools, good schoolmasters, and a good system of education, the State can never hope successfully to combat crime, or to diminish its amount. No one objects to State interference and State expenditure for the punishment of crime. Why, then, object to State interference and State expenditure for the purpose of preventing crime, by raising the moral and intellectual character of the people? In many other matters of less importance to the State than education, no one objects to State interference and State expenditure. For instance, no one objects to a poor law at the expense of the community; the object of that law is to save the poorer classes from the evil of perishing by hunger, or subsisting by crime. No one objects to sanitary regulations at the cost of the State, the object of which regulations is to preserve the poor from pestilence. But worse than hunger, worse than pestilence, is the mental disease of ignorance. The State is bound to attempt to apply a remedy to that disease. But to listen to some hon. Gentlemen, one would suppose that the State would thereby endanger the dearest rights and liberties of the subject, whilst the only liberty which would be endangered would be the liberty of being ignorant. And that liberty I consider the State should, as far as possible, refuse to every one of its subjects. I maintain, therefore, that the education of the people is a matter of primary importance to the State. And the State is bound to interfere, unless it can be clearly and distinctly proved that a large portion of the people could be educated, and would be better educated, without than with the assistance of the State. Now, I challenge the opponents of State interference to the proof of this position. Can they deny the fact that a large portion of the poorer classes are lamentably ignorant, that hundreds and hundreds of thousands of men are too poor to provide for the education of their children? Are these children to be educated or not? If educated, at whose expense? Not, say the opponents of State interference, by the aid of the State: then by charity? But it is evident that a system of education which depends entirely upon alms must be a most imperfect one; for under such a system there can be no systematic training of schoolmasters, no general adoption of the latest and most improved methods of instruction, no constant inspection and regulating superintendence; one school may be good, another bad, a third indifferent, according to the character, notions, or fancy of the chief or most active contributors. Under such a system, the means of education depend not upon the wants of the people in a particular locality, but upon the wealth and benevolence of the contributors. In the richest districts, the most assistance will be given: in the poorest places, where assistance is most needed, it will be least afforded. Can the opponents of State interference deny the correctness of these posi- tions? Can they deny that the schools for the poor are comparatively few, defective, and generally burdened with debt? that the instruction given in most of them is of little or no value? that the schoolmasters in the majority of cases are inefficient, unfit for active exertion, decrepid in body, feeble in mind, accepting the sacred office of instructor of youth as the last sad resource against penury or a poor-house? Can they deny that the inspection of schools is, except in a few instances, nominal? that the funds arising from voluntary contributions are generally insufficient, depending upon the accidental charity of individuals, which in many cases can only be obtained by frequent urgent and almost degrading solicitations — by the tricks and devices of bazaars, fancy fairs, and the like—things unobjectionable in themselves, but miserable substitutes for the assistance of a State? Till within the last few mouths, none were louder in their complaints of the want of the means of educating the people, than some of the present opponents of the interference of the State. Now, they affirm that the voluntary contributions for this purpose are increasing, and will at some indefinite period be sufficient. But, I ask, when are we to expect this millennium of charity? How long are the people to wait for it? How many generations of ignorance are to pass away, vainly hoping to obtain as a boon from reluctant private charity that which it is the duty and the interest of the State to bestow? But suppose, for a moment, that a system of education which depends upon voluntary contributions could be as extensive and as perfect as a system of education under the constant and watchful superintendence of the State, which should the poorer classes prefer? Would they prefer that their children should be educated by the aid of private charity, or by the assistance of the State? I may not be well acquainted with the feelings of the working classes; I may be ignorant of the sentiments of the labouring millions; but if I were one of that class, and too poor to pay for the education of my children, I think I should consider it more consistent with my feelings of independence and self-respect to be indebted to the State of which I am a subject, and to whose support I should contribute, at least indirectly, by the labour of my hands and in the sweat of my brow—I would rather claim the education of my children as my right as a citizen—I would rather demand it for the benefit of the community of which I am a member, than owe it to the uncertain bounty of my richer fellow-citizens, and receive it from them as a boon and a favour. And I feel persuaded that these are the sentiments of a large portion of the working classes, and will ultimately become the sentiments of the majority. They have a right to complain of the past neglect of the State—that the State, instead of caring and providing for their education, has left it to casual charity; and they may point to their ignorance as the greatest disgrace and reproach to this mighty and powerful empire. Who are to blame? I do not hesitate to assert that the persons to blame are neither the statesmen of this country, nor the Members of either House of Parliament, nor the Governments, either Whig or Tory, but the electoral body out of doors, some of whom fancy that in every measure for the education of the people some concealed project lies hid for the predominance of one or other religious sect; and in this narrow and perpetual conflict of contending creeds, each striving to gain or fearing to lose some petty paltry advantage, the interests of the people are sacrificed, and the ignorant millions remain uneducated, and will continue uneducated, until the State performs its duty towards them, by establishing a comprehensive system of national education. The next question is, to what extent, and in what manner, should the State interfere with the education of the people? In my opinion, the State should interfere at least to such an extent that no child should, on account of the poverty of its parents, be unable to acquire the elements of moral and intellectual education; for ignorance and the want of moral education, combined with poverty, are the antecedents of crime. Secondly, in my opinion, the State should interfere in such a manner as to procure for the people the best possible moral and intellectual education, without indicating a preference for any religious sect; for the better the people are educated, the better citizens they will become; and who, I ask, will dare to deny that, if they be well educated, they will be equally good citizens, to whatever sect, creed, or denomination they may belong? Therefore, whether they be Catholics or Protestants, Churchmen or Dissenters, it is a matter in which the State has no concern, and in which it ought not to interfere. Now, there are three modes in which it has been proposed that the State should contribute to the education of the people, without marking a preference for any form of religious belief. First, that the State should establish or contribute to the support of schools in which secular education alone should be given, without reference to religious instruction. A measure of this description would, in my opinion, be far preferable to any other; and I shall, in consequence, vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets, which has for its object the secular education of the people alone. Secondly, it has been proposed that the State should contribute to the support of schools in which secular education should be combined with general religious instruction, without reference to the specific dogmata of the various sects. In 1839 and 1843, an attempt was made by the Government of the day to establish normal and other schools of this description. That attempt failed in one instance, through the opposition of the Church of England; in the other instance chiefly through the opposition of the various denominations of Dissenters. Thirdly, it has been proposed that the State should contribute indiscriminately to the schools of every religious sect, on conditions that shall have reference solely to the quantity and quality of the instruction which shall be given in those schools. In my opinion, this is the least preferable of the three measures for the education of the people, to which I have referred; but perhaps it is the most practicable one at present. Now, it is pretended that the measure of the Government, as contained in the Minutes of the Committee of Council, is a measure of this description. Is it so? Sir, two objections have been raised to the measure of the Government. First, it is said that the measure is not a fair one, because there are certain classes of Dissenters who cannot conscientiously accept assistance from the State for purposes of education, and, therefore, the measure of the Government would place them in a disadvantageous position as compared with their rivals. This would be an objection to most of the schemes of national education which have been proposed. I do not consider it a valid one. I respect the conscientious convictions of those persons. I acknowledge that they are bound to act in accordance with them. But to insist that those convictions should be the rule for the conduct of the State, and of the great majority of the com- munity is simply intolerance. Let me put what appears to me to be a parallel case. It sometimes happens, that in portions of our Indian possessions the people are in danger of perishing from a failure of the rice crops; and I have heard that at times the Government has attempted to relieve their wants by supplies of animal food; but it is known that many of the Indians have religious objections to eating meat; they refuse the assistance of the Government, and perish. Now, I ask, would those persons have a right to demand that no meat should be given to their fellow-citizens, of different religious beliefs? Would the Government be bound to accede to that demand, and leave the Mahomedan to starve, because the Hindoo would not eat meat? Now, what meat is to the body, education is to the mind of man—a nourishing and sustaining food: and I cannot consent that the vast majority of the people of this country should hunger and thirst in vain after knowledge, because some persons are unwilling to receive it at the hands of the State. The second objection to the measure of the Government is a very grave one, namely, that Catholic schools will be excluded from participating in the proposed grant of public money, because public money is not to be given to any schools in which the authorized version of the Scriptures is not employed. Till within the last few days a great number of persons, myself included, had no notion that any sect was to be excluded from participating in the proposed grant of public money. And we were fully justified in coming to that conclusion. In the Minutes of the Committee of the Privy Council on Education of last year, there is nothing whatever to exclude Roman Catholic schools. In those Minutes a distinction is drawn between Church of England schools and what are termed "other schools." In Church of England schools there is to be an examination in the Holy Scriptures, liturgy, and catechism of the Church of England. In other schools no religious examination of any kind, sort, or description, is required. According to the express words of the Minutes, to which I beg the attention of the House, "In other schools the managers will certify that they are satisfied with the state of religious knowledge." There is evidently nothing in these words either directly or indirectly to exclude Roman Catholics. A pamphlet termed, The School in its Relation to the Church, has been sent by the Government to every Member of this House. It is therefore to be considered as an authorized version of the Government measure; I acknowledge I accepted it as such, and I formed my judgment accordingly. In that pamphlet there is no allusion whatever to the intended exclusion of the Catholics. The Government measure is described as founded upon the principle of aiding voluntary exertions by grants of public money. It is distinctly intimated that the Committee on Education will not confine their aid to schools connected with the National and British and Foreign Societies, but will extend it to other schools; and no intimation whatever is given, that among those other schools Catholic schools are not included. It is true that reference is made to the Minutes of the 3rd December, 1839, as determining to what schools, besides those connected with the two societies, aid may be given. Now what does that Minute require as the condition of a grant to any school—I mean with reference to religion? First, it requires that the Committee shall be informed "whether the Bible or Testament will be required to be daily read in those schools." But the Committee do not require that the Bible or the Testament should be read. They make no specific reference to the authorized version of the Scriptures. They do not require the use of the whole of the authorized version of the Scriptures; but they merely require—I request the House to mark the words—"the daily reading of a portion of the Scriptures." Now, there is nothing in this condition which necessarily excludes Roman Catholic schools. Scripture extracts, that is, a portion of the Scriptures, are used in the National schools in Ireland, with the sanction of the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authorities, and in schools connected with the British and Foreign Society. If the condition had been, that the whole of the authorized version of the Scriptures should be used in schools receiving aid from the Committee on Education, that condition would, without the slightest doubt, have excluded Roman Catholic schools. I cannot believe that an interpretation, which would necessarily exclude Roman Catholic schools, could have been put upon the Minutes of the 3rd December, 1839, till after the 5th February last. On that day a letter was written by Mr. Kay Shuttleworth, at the direction of the Lord President of the Council, to Mr. Charles Langdale. Mr. Langdale had claimed that Roman Catholic schools should participate in the Parlia- mentary grant for the promotion of education in Great Britain. Now what was the answer of the Lord President of the Council? Was it the answer of a nobleman who considered that Roman Catholic schools were necessarily excluded from participating in that grant? The answer was this—that his Lordship would —"bring under consideration of the Committee of Council on Education, any application which may be made for assistance towards the erection of Roman Catholic schools, as well as any other schools. Their Lordships would determine whether, under their present Minutes, they can grant such assistance? Now, was this the answer of a person who considered that their Lordships were, under their present Minutes, precluded from granting such assistance? Certainly not. If the noble Lord had been aware of the fact that Roman Catholic schools were necessarily excluded by the Minutes of the 3rd December, 1839, he would have made Mr. Langdale acquainted with it, and not allowed Mr. Langdale to entertain unfounded hopes. I am, therefore, justified in coming to the conclusion, that this interpretation was not put upon the Minutes of 1839 till some period subsequent to the 5th of February last. Now, was there any cause for this new interpretation? I am bound to say, after the explanation on Monday last, of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, that a belief prevailed both among persons in this House and out of it—very distressing to those who like myself were anxious to support a measure in any way calculated to improve the education of the people—a belief prevailed that the interpretation so unfavourable to the claims of the Roman Catholics had been put upon the Minutes of Council of 1839, in consequence of the communication which had taken place between Lord Ashley and the noble Lord the Member for London, with reference to the Wesleyans; and this belief is confirmed by the publication of the correspondence which has taken place between the united Wesleyan Committees and the Lord President of the Council. From that correspondence it appears, that in consequence of communications with Lord Ashley, the Wesleyan Committees addressed, on the 6th of April, to the Lord President of the Council, certain resolutions with regard to the scheme of the Government, in which they state— That in this Christian and Protestant country the sanction and support of the State should be afforded exclusively to schools in which the Holy Scriptures, in the authorized version alone, are received and daily read. That the Minutes of the Council, as generally understood, contain no restrictive provision to secure this important principle, and therefore that they are open to decided objection on the ground that they will both directly stimulate and authoritatively sanction the dissemination of Popish and other antichristian errors. In the letter explanatory of these resolutions the Committees state, that— A friendly communication had been made to them by an esteemed nobleman, who felt himself authorized to convey to them, on the part of the Committee of Council, a distinct intimation that it was not impossible that, on a frank statement of their objections, some of the most weighty of them might be met in a conciliatory spirit by the Committee of the Privy Council. With regard to that communication they —"beg respectfully to inquire whether the Lords' Committee of Council are prepared to adopt and confirm the explanations contained in the communications referred to? They state, that it had been intimated to them— That the Minutes of 1839 and 1846 were to be construed together, and that under those Minutes their Lordships had always intended that the authorized version of the Scriptures, in all its integrity, should be required to be used in Schools as a condition of assistance. In reply to this letter of the Wesleyan Committee, the Lord President compliments them— On the liberal disposition and readiness they had manifested to co-operate effectively in the object they all had in view—the advancement of general education on sound and religious principles. I wonder whether the Committees felt the biting sarcasm contained in those words, or took them bonâ fide. In an official letter of the same date, from the Secretary of the Committee of Council, the Committees were informed that it was intended by the Minutes of 1846 to rescind a portion of the Minutes of 1839, but not that portion which requires that "the daily reading of a portion of the Scriptures shall form part of the instruction in schools" which receive grants of money. And it is stated that— It had always been intended by the Committee of Council that these words should be understood as requiring that the entire Bible, in the authorized version, should be required to be in use in schools aided by public grants, so far as such a condition did not interfere with the constitution of the schools of the British and Foreign School Society, which constitution includes the use of the Holy Scriptures or extracts therefrom. Therefore the last authorized version of the words "portions of the Scriptures" is, that they mean the whole of the Bible where Catholics are concerned—extracts from the Scriptures where the British and Foreign School Society is concerned. The Committees accepted this explanation, and withdrew their opposition to the Government measure. I must recall the attention of the House to the letter of the Lord President, of the 5th of February, to Mr. C. Langdale. In that letter no allusion is made to the necessity of using the authorized version of the Scriptures. There was another letter, to a similar effect, on the 18th of February; then the correspondence ceased for two months. During that period the transaction with the Wesleyans took place; it was concluded on the 16th of April, by the withdrawal on the part of the Wesleyans of their opposition to the Government measure. On the same day, the Lord President, through his Secretary, informed Mr. Langdale, that by the regulations contained in the Minutes of Council of December 3, 1839, "that the daily reading of a portion of Scriptures should form part of the instruction in the schools aided by public grants," it was intended that the authorized version of the Scriptures should be used. Why was this regulation prohibiting Roman Catholics not discovered before? I will not make observations upon the subject, but content myself with reading the resolution agreed to at a meeting of Roman Catholics, held last night, Lord Shrewsbury in the chair:— That this meeting, deeply impressed with the outrage offered to the rights of conscience by the declaration of Her Majesty's present Government—'That Catholics are to be excluded from a participation in the grant of 100,000l. to be voted by Parliament for all other religious communions'—call upon all classes of their fellow Catholics to unite in one cry of indignant reprobation at this insulting exception from a public grant, paid out of a public fund, under the administration of a Ministry who have appropriated to themselves the title of 'Liberal,' but whose shrinking policy, at the cry of a bigoted sect, has countenanced the worst features of religious intolerance. Upon this subject, I heard with pleasure the straightforward declarations on Tuesday last of the noble Lord the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Devonport. The noble Lord declared that— Of no Committee which refused on principle to admit Catholic applications because they were Catholics, would he consent to be a Member. The right hon. Baronet admitted— There was a just ground of complaint on the part of Roman Catholics." "In some parts of the country there was a vast number of Roman Catholics; it was a hardship that they should be excluded from all Government grants for educa- tion that he was ready to remove, as far as he was able, that hardship. The right hon. Baronet likewise observed, that— Roman Catholics were not excluded by name if they were excluded at all;"— thus confirming what I have said with regard to the doubts which may fairly be entertained upon this subject. The right hon. Baronet likewise stated that— He rejoiced that this subject had been brought before the House, and he rejoiced at the feeling which had been exhibited by the House, that this was an injustice which ought to be removed. And the right hon. Baronet concluded by saying, that— If the House would affirm the proposition that Roman Catholics ought to participate in these grants, no one would rejoice more sincerely than he should to see the difficulty removed; no one would more cordially co-operate in the endeavour to frame a Minute that shall bring Roman Catholics within the rule. I consider, therefore, I shall be tendering a service to the Government, and doing an act most agreeable to myself by calling upon the House to affirm that Catholics ought to participate in these grants for education. And I shall therefore, upon the proper occasion, move the resolution of which I have given notice— That any Minutes of the Committee of the Privy Council on Education, or other regulations, which shall exclude Roman Catholics from participating in any Grant of Public Money for the Purposes of Education, by requiring in all Schools which receive Grants of Public Money the use of the authorized version of the Scriptures, are inexpedient, and should be rescinded.


hoped that the hon. Baronet would forgive him if he declined to follow him into the question respecting the exclusion of the Roman Catholics from the present grant. The hon. Baronet had given notice of his intention to move a resolution on the subject, and it would be the most proper time to consider the subject then. But in reference to the general question of education, and the objections which had been urged against the Government measure on the part of certain Protestant Dissenters, he wished the House to look for a moment at the practical alternatives before them. In the first place, he asked them to consider whether they could leave things as they were?—whether they could reconcile it with their duty to do nothing to remove the grievous ignorance which prevailed in so many districts of the country? Since the beginning of the present Session, they had had several new reports of the Inspectors of Prisons laid on the Table, and in those he found most deplorable accounts of the state of education. Take, for instance, the Tenth Report of the Inspectors of Prisons, which had been only a few weeks since laid upon the Table of the House. In the House of Correction at Usk, in Monmouthshire, the chaplain said— Since the Michaelmas quarter-sessions, about 554 prisoners have been committed to my care. Of these 128 had never been to any school; 120 could read and write, 212 could read but not write, and 222 could not read at all. On admission, the prisoners are, for the most part, very ignorant: some have openly professed themselves to have no religion, and a few were ignorant of the name of our Saviour. Some, however, had a knowledge of geometry and algebra, and a few had been instructed in Greek and Latin; but very few had a sound knowledge of Scripture and their religion, and in all, without exception, the discipline of the heart had been entirely overlooked. In these cases, then, it would seem that it was religious knowledge, even more than secular knowledge, that was wanting. In the county gaol of Shrewsbury, it appeared from the annual returns— That of 972 males committed in 1843, there were 414, or nearly one-half of the whole, who could neither read not write, and even of the other half only 17 were reported to 'read and write well. It was added— However lamentable it may be to reiterate the fact, the chaplain is not now in a position to speak more favourably than he has done previously of their acquirements when brought to prison. A large majority of these were extremely ignorant in reference to moral and religious matters. But in stating how many had never been to any school, the case of the need for education was, in fact, extremely understated, for the important question remained—to what kind of schools in general had the scholars gone? Now, as to the quality of the schools, let the House look to a different class of reports from those of prisons—the reports of the Inspectors of Factories. There was, for example, the report of Mr. Leonard Horner, dated only the 2nd of December last. Mr. Horner stated that many of the factory children at Manchester, Salford, and the adjoining district, were now attending National schools or British schools, or "good private schools." But then he added these words— When I say 'good,' I mean, in most cases, good only by comparison with the ordinary run of those miserable mock schools to be found everywhere, in which a mass of dirty children of all ages, including infants of three years old, are crammed together in a small, close, unventilated room, with an old man, or an old woman sitting in the midst of them, utterly incapable of teaching the first elements of religion. He must say then, that from all he had heard on the subject, he believed that the complaint as to the inferior class of persons who filled the office of schoolmaster was very justly founded. It seemed to be thought that any bankrupt trader, or discarded servant, or broken soldier, was good enough for a profession which was inferior to no other in importance—he meant the training of the rising generation in the way they should go. He said then, that looking to the state of education throughout the country, he thought the attempt of the Government to increase the number and elevate the character of the schools, and to induce a superior class of teachers to enter the profession, was entitled to their favourable consideration. The second question was, whether they would have a scheme of secular education solely, or of secular and religious education combined? For his own part, he considered that if the State should confine itself to secular education, without associating it with religion, it would be doing absolutely worse than nothing. He felt this so strongly, that when the late Government proposed the now colleges for Ireland, notwithstanding the special circumstances of that country, which undoubtedly rendered it much more difficult to enforce the principle he had mentioned, he considered it his duty to move an Amendment, and to take the sense of the House upon it, as to the importance of associating religious with secular education; and he must say that those who disapproved of the plan then proposed, could hardly be expected to look with favour on some of the schemes now recommended in opposition to the Government. Take, for example, the Amendment of which the hon. Member for Dumfries had given notice on the present occasion:— That, in any measure for general education, it is expedient that schoolmasters and inspectors be not made the instruments of religious instruction, but that such religious instruction be supplied by the clergy of the different denominations, to whom every facility for imparting it should be given in the several schools. Now, he must say that those who entertained the view indicated in that Amendment, seemed to have a very inadequate idea of the labours which pressed upon the clergy of this country. They were little aware that, much as the clergy had increased in numbers, the calls upon their time and their spiritual duties had increased in a still greater degree. He quite allowed that this applied to the Dissenting ministers as well as those of the Establishment; and therefore he was opposed to casting upon either of them this additional burden. To the Government scheme, taken as a whole, he was prepared to give a ready and cheerful acquiescence, though he could not approve of all its details. For instance, it appeared to him that the plan of providing offices in the Excise and Customs for promising scholars, however well intended, was faulty in principle, and would prove very difficult of execution, and that sooner or later the Government would be compelled to abandon it. There was also much force in the objection taken to the mode of framing the scheme, by the authority of the Committee of Council, instead of establishing it by Act of Parliament. That fault, however, had prevailed since 1839. The Minutes then framed had received the sanction of the House, and been acted upon by successive Administrations; and, therefore, it appeared to him that the time had passed for raising an objection to the want of an Act of Parliament to give them a more constitutional sanction. The present proposition was a step in the right direction, and he was bound to acknowledge that the Government had framed it in a candid and honourable spirit. Since one hon. Gentleman had already referred to the anticipated discussion on Monday next, on the subject of secondary punishments, he (Lord Mahon) would remind the House, that when the Legislature provided the best means of punishing criminals, and reforming them after conviction, it had only done half its duty; its chief object should be to endeavour to prevent crime. Looking at the artificial state of society in this country, the large masses of individual wealth which were drawn together, and the length to which luxury and refinement were carried, he thought that this wealth was not sufficiently secure, nor these luxuries and refinements protected, while they left poverty — gaunt famished poverty—still uneducated and howling at their gates. This was only the lowest view of the question. But surely no Member of that House would be insensible to the far higher considerations involved, to the solemn duty of imparting to others in a lower sphere some portion of the lights which Providence had vouchsafed to the higher. Let them approach the question of secondary punishments with this great aim full in their minds, and be assured that in the long run the best and surest mode to empty their prisons would be to fill their schools.


I am always most unwilling unnecessarily to occupy the time and attention of the House; but, as I conclude that the hon. Member for Finsbury intends to press his Amendment to a division, I cannot reconcile it to my sense of duty to give a silent vote upon the present occasion. The Motion made by the noble Lord at the head of the Government is, that the House should resolve into a Committee of Suply, for the purpose of granting 100,000l. of the public money in aid of education throughout the kingdom. The Motion made as an Amendment by the hon. Member for Finsbury is, that a Select Committee should be appointed for the purpose of inquiry. Now, it appears to me, that with respect to this subject, inquiry is altogether superfluous. The fact of the notorious inadequacy of the means of education, in England at least, is admitted on all hands; and if, as has been implied, this Amendment is moved for the purpose of conveying censure on the Government, although I am not prepared to say that some errors have not been committed by the Government with respect to this subject, yet I think it would be unjust in the extreme; to mark with severity anything defective or amiss in their measure. On the contrary, I am so well aware of the extreme difficulties which are connected with the subject, that I think it is our bounden duty to avoid everything like asperity in speaking of what may appear to be errors; and to endeavour rather to rectify omissions than to censure what we may not altogether approve. In that spirit I will direct my attention to the matter under consideration. On the very threshold, the abstract question presents itself—is it or is it not the duty of the State to interfere with the education of the people? I cannot hesitate, in considering that question, to come to the conclusion that it is not only amongst the highest duties of the State, but one of the noblest, if it be not, indeed, the very noblest of the functions of a Government, to do everything in its power to extend the knowledge, to elevate the morals, and to cultivate the religious feelings and impressions of the people committed to its care. Speaking in a Christian assembly, I cannot hesitate to go still further and say that my own conviction is, that the most perfect and purest system of morality ever presented to the consideration of man is that system which has the Divine sanction, and holds out to mankind the highest inducement of future rewards and the greatest terror of future punishments. This view of the subject would lead me to considerations which I do not now intend to enter upon—considerations which justify the alliance of the State with a favoured religion, the religion of the majority—in other words, an Established Church. I will pass by that subject: and turn from the abstract question to the practical question. If it be admitted, as I believe it generally is, for the purposes of debate, that it is the abstract duty of the Government to promote the education of the people, the real question for consideration is the practical one—how can that great duty be best performed? As is the case with almost every practical question of policy, we must, in considering this question, have reference to the various circumstances of the united kingdom differently affected in different parts. A pointed allusion has been made to Scotland in the able speech of the right hon. Gentleman who represents the metropolis of that country. Now, with respect to Scotland, at an early period of its history this happy circumstance prevailed—speaking in general terms, there was one religion established and cordially professed by the entire people; and, therefore, legislation on the subject of education was in conformity with public opinion. Education was allied with the Church, and there was no difficulty in the matter. When the Presbyterian religion was first established in Scotland—even before the Revolution—in the reign of James I.,—and when it was subsequently confirmed at the Revolution, in the reign of William III., education was conjoined with the Established Church, and became part of the parochial system embodied in the law of the country. This system received the sanction first of the Scotch Parliament, and afterwards of the Parliament of the united kingdom. In Scotland, education in alliance with the Church was the peculiar care of the State; and, therefore, it followed that up to the very period of that unhappy recent disruption, which day by day I more deeply deplore, religious teaching and secular education went hand in hand. If I were to mention the circumstance which forms the brightest page in the history of Scotland—which has tended most to elevate the character of her people, and which has enabled that country, notwithstanding its natural defects—notwithstand- ing its poverty and various counteracting circumstances, to raise itself to the level of the highest civilized nation on the face of the earth, I should point to the admirable system of parochial education which prevails in that country. So much with respect to Scotland. In Ireland, circumstances are entirely different. There the religion of the State is professed by a small minority. Dissent from the established religion is one of the distinguishing features of the great majority of the people. With respect to Ireland, no national system was attempted; but the United Parliament has, year by year, voted considerable sums of the public money in aid of education, not in alliance with the Church; for, indeed, I am sorry to say, the system of education established in that country is viewed with an evil eye by many members of the Established Church in Ireland. That system, however, extends the benefit of education to the great body of the Dissenters in that country; and Churchmen may freely participate in it if they are so inclined. Thus, then, consistently, as it appears to me, both with practice and policy, the views of the Legislature have varied with the different circumstances of different parts of the united kingdom. It remains for me to apply myself to the consideration of the case of England. In this country, unhappily, from an early period up to the very latest moment—that at which I am addressing the House—the greatest possible diversity of opinion has prevailed on the subject of religion; and these religious differences have always constituted the real difficulty in dealing with the question of education. The State has never yet interfered to any great extent with education in England. It has been left to the voluntary efforts of the Established Church, with reference to members of the Establishment, and to the voluntary efforts of Dissenting sects, with reference to the members of their different persuasions. I have had some experience in my own person of the difficulties which a Minister of the Crown must encounter in attepting to deal with this subject. I unfortunately was not able to render as much assistance to the cause of education as I zealously and honestly desired; but I did this at all events—I sounded the depths of the dangers of the course. I traced the channel, and also marked the rocks and shoals to be avoided; and if my efforts have productive of no other benefit, they at least served to show future Go- vernments what it will be their duty to shun if they wish to promote the cause of education. From the experience which I have had on the subject, I am bound to express my opinion that the question of national education in England is not ripe for legislation; and I think it necessary that the course hitherto pursued should be persevered in. I mean that the regulations on which the aid of the State is to be given to education should be brought under the consideration of Parliament by an annual vote; so that the aid may be given or withheld at the discretion of Parliament. That is, perhaps, all which at present can be satisfactorily accomplished. I shall, perhaps, be excused for pointing out the cautious and gradual manner in which the State has extended assistance to the cause of education in England. I think it was the Government of Earl Grey which first asked for a small sum to be applied in aid of the building of school-houses; and about 20,000l. or 30,000l. were placed at the disposal of the Treasury for that purpose, though, by a subsequent regulation, the money was placed at the disposal of a Committee of the Privy Council. In consequence of the circumstance to which I have already adverted—the difference of opinion on matters of religion—all interference with respect to the quality of education to be given, was rendered extremely difficult, and the grant was confined to the building of the fabrics of the schools. With the view, too, of avoiding discussions about particular creeds, the grant was limited to schools belonging to two societies maintained by voluntary subscriptions, namely, the National Society, which is in immediate connexion with the Church; and the British and Foreign School Society, which, though supported by many Churchmen, possesses likewise the confidence of a large portion of the Dissenting body. Until a comparatively recent period, 1839, I think no assistance was given by the State, except for the purpose of building schools, with the reservation I have already stated, that the schools were to be in connexion with one of the two before-named societies. The first relaxation of that rule, and that only a partial and guarded one, took place when Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister in 1839. The rule was still maintained that no money should be given, except for building the fabrics of the schools; but a relaxation was made as regarded special cases, to be considered apart from the connexion with the two societies, upon certain specified conditions contained in the Order in Council issued in 1839. I am not aware, however, that the Government of Lord Melbourne ever gave any assistance except for building the fabrics of schools, or that they entertained more than two or three special cases, taking care, at the same time, that the conditions prescribed in the Order of Council were observed. Upon those special cases I shall feel it my duty to advert before I resume my seat. My right hon. Friend below me (Sir R. Peel) came into office in 1841; and my late noble Friend (Lord Wharncliffe), of whom I may, in passing, say, that no man ever took more pains to discharge his duty to the cause of education with zeal and integrity than he did—acting in concert with my right hon. Friend and three or four of his Colleagues, proceeded to carry into execution the amended Order of Council of 1839. Up to this time no public money had been granted for schools except out of the Votes for the year—no future income was pledged. In 1841, for the first time, a sum of 5,000l., I think, was granted for the establishment of a normal school in connexion with the National Society; and a like sum was granted for the establishment of a similar school in connexion with the British and Foreign School Society. The sum of 10,000l. was also voted for the establishment of two normal schools, one in Glasgow and the other in Edinburgh. Again, up to 1843, no income, no annual sum prospectively, was pledged by the Government in aid of education; but in 1843, the Government resolved that, in each Session, keeping Parliament informed of the progressive steps they were making, for the first time they pledged the faith of the State for the grant of an annual sum in aid of education; and, they accordingly granted to the National Society, for a normal school, a sum of 1,000l. a year. To the British and Foreign Society they also granted, for the same purpose, a sum of 750l. a year, and I think, some promise was made of an annual contribution from the State to defray the charge of the normal schools in Scotland. Last year, when a departure was made from the rigour of the rule which had been laid down, many applications were pressed on the Committee of Privy Council for contributions for aiding the efficiency of schools, and in aid of the salaries of masters. Special cases then came to be considered by the Committee; and it is my bounden duty to state to the House, that to me, at least, it became evident, that if those special cases were multiplied, and the rigour of the rule departed from, which had hitherto been to give aid limited to those two societies, the question we are now discussing would sooner or later arise; and it would be necessary to decide whether, under a special case, showing that in certain districts there were populous towns in which the means of education for the labouring poor were greatly deficient, and where the consequence was that large numbers of children were growing up in a state of debased and degraded ignorance, likely to render that portion of the community unworthy of the country and age in which we live, we should not be obliged to afford aid for education to a much greater extent than had up to that time been given. I felt, I say, that if we interfered to give State assistance to education in favour of one class of Dissenters, it would be impossible, on any considerations of fairness, of policy, or of religious liberty, to make any invidious distinction, and refuse similar assistance to another. I am bound to say that was the view I took and maintained when I had any share in the deliberations of the Privy Council. I am bound also to say that that view was shared in by my Colleagues, and I believe I am accurate when I say that we, when we had the power entrusted to us of taking into consideration these special cases, followed exactly in the steps of Lord Melbourne's Government, and rigidly abstained from extending the number of those special cases; thinking that, if any wide departure were made from the original system, we ought immediately to represent and submit it to Parliament; and that any such step, from the religious differences amongst the people, would inevitably lead to that struggle which, however ready I may be to aid in the cause of education, I think is most unfortunate, and is not to be lightly provoked. Her Majesty's Government, however, being not unduly impressed by the notorious deficiency, in this country, of the means of education, religious as well as moral, and seeing the lamentable effects which that great deficiency had produced, thought that the time had at length come when something farther ought to be done; and that consideration led, I imagine, to their agreeing to the Order in Council which is now on your Table. In adverting to this part of the subject, it will hardly be supposed that I am sorry that the Wesleyans have been admitted to obtain aid for educational purposes from the State. Far from it. On the contrary, I greatly rejoice that they who, without any aid from the State, have done so much for the cause of education, at last are admitted to a participation in those advantages which I am confident they will not misuse, but take care to apply for the benefit of the community. Having said so much, Sir, respecting the Wesleyans, I will further say, though I am afraid that what I am about to say will not be received with approbation by many Gentlemen in this House, or by a large portion of my fellow-countrymen in England—but I am, nevertheless, bound to declare that if you depart from the rigour of the rules which you have laid down, and admit the Dissenting bodies to receive the aid of the State in conducting the education of their children in their respective schools, I cannot see with satisfaction a considerable portion of my Roman Catholic fellow-subjects excluded; and recollecting that they are not only fellow Christians, but that their Christian doctrine is the doctrine of the larger portion of the world where Christianity is accepted, I cannot assent for a moment to the proposition that the Roman Catholics should be an exception to the system you are now about to introduce. I think the position which is occupied by those who advocate that exclusion at this particular point of time is most untenable. It is a revival of the old Roman Catholic question under the most unfavourable circumstances. It ought not to be forgotten that the Roman Catholics were admitted to political rights long before they were allowed scats in this House, being prevented by an oath which they could not take from holding scats here; a flimsy barrier apparently to some minds, but still effectual to prevent their admission to Parliament. I will not enter into the question whether the Order in Council of 1839 has received a proper interpretation or not; or whether the use of the Bible or Testament, without distinction, means the use of the authorized version of the Scriptures; I will not enter into the argument whether those words have received a right interpretation or not; but I will assume that the authorized version was intended to be used in the schools that received aid from the State; and, I will say, that I think that is a most unfortunate ground on which to rest the exclusion of Roman Catholics from participation in this aid. What is the authorized version? and what is the version of the Roman Catholics? The version of the Roman Catholics is that Bible from which Bossuet and Fenelon drew their texts when they preached—that Bible from which Pascal derived his immortal thoughts. And shall I be told that that version which is used by the Roman Catholics shall be the sole barrier by which they are to be excluded from the participation in the benefit of those conditions upon which the State has resolved to contribute to the education of the people? Sir, I believe that the Roman Catholics are in a position to show, that the very terms used in the Order in Council of 1839, are terms which would admit their claim to some participation in the grant. The hon. Member for Southwark referred to Mr. Langdale, with whom he appeared not to be personally acquainted. From my earliest years I have had the honour of knowing Mr. Langdale. A more honourable man does not exist. He is incapable of deceiving; he is implicitly to be believed. I have had various interviews with him of late on this subject, and I find from him that in many large towns, as for instance Manchester and Liverpool, and in this very metropolis, there are large masses of our Irish fellow-subjects living in great poverty, and greatly at a loss for the means of moral and religious education, and that, though the Roman Catholics who are in good circumstances are prodigal in the aid they furnish to their fellow-countrymen, yet the means of moral education and of religious worship are greatly deficient, because in those districts these poor people are severed from the heads of their religion; and consequently their moral and religious destitution is extreme. The means of education is entirely wanting amongst them. I am assured by Mr. Langdale that there is no body of Dissenters that would feel so little difficulty in the terms of the Order in Council of 1839, which define special cases, as they would, and that those terms ought not to prevent them from a full participation in the benefit of the grant. What are those terms?— "Resolved—That on the facts in relation to each case being presented to the Committee, and their Lordships being satisfied that the regulation of the 24th of September will in all other respects he fulfilled, they will lend their aid to those cases in which proof is given of a great deficiency of education of the poorer classes in the district of vigorous efforts having been made by the inhabitants to provide funds, and of the indispensable need of further assistance; and to those cases in which competent provision will be made for the instruction of the children in the school. If the House has followed me through this resolution so far, I believe they will concur with me in thinking that the Roman Catholics would have no difficulty, that the Roman Catholics would be able to participate in the grant, if the resolution went no further. Now, nothing remains in the resolution but the words "the daily reading of a portion of the Scriptures forming part of such instruction;" and I have yet to learn how, if that does not mean the authorized version exclusively, the Roman Catholics will have any difficulty. Be this as it may, however, I am clearly of opinion that some effort should be made by means of communication with the Roman Catholic prelates to see whether an accommodation may not be effected on those points about which there may be at present some hesitation; at all events my opinion is, that the attempt should be made to admit them to a participation in this grant. Sir, I listened with satisfaction to the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir G. Grey) on this part of the subject. I am not aware that he is disposed to contradict in any degree the opinion I have just now stated; I am led to believe, on the contrary, that he agrees with me in this—that an accommodation ought to be made, if possible, and that from a participation in this grant the Roman Catholics ought not to be excluded. It becomes then a question of time. Well, then, I ask myself, is it just to the Roman Catholics to postpone the decision of this question? I can certainly see some expediency, but I am bound to say I can see no justice whatever in the postponement of it. If we were only about to vote 100,000l. for the purpose of aiding the education of the people, and no new rule were about to be established, I could understand the postponement of their claims. I am speaking with no feeling of passion on this subject; I am aware of all the difficulties which environ it; I wish to reason upon it as a matter of justice and equity to the poor, taken in conjunction with the Minute of last year. Observe that you are now taking a new course. It is a fallacy to say that we are called on only to vote 100,000l. for the advancement of education, and that we are about to adopt no new proposition. It is true that the vote for education is limited to 100,000l.; but this vote is taken on different grounds from the vote of 1839; it is the adoption by Parliament of an entirely new principle. The contingent expenses of this new scheme have been variously estimated; they have been estimated, I think, as high as 2,000,000l., and no one, I think, can well put the estimate lower than 1,000,000l. The expense will probably reach that amount in no very long period. I do not mention that invidiously or grudgingly; I rejoice that it should be so, because, I think that the State ought to support a scheme which is likely to lead to an expense of so useful a character; but, besides that, this vote is not only a virtual but a positive adoption by Parliament of the Orders in Council. Then all other classes of Christian Dissenters are admitted by this vote to a participation in the aid given by the State to education; and there ought not to be a doubt left vague, whether the Roman Catholics, under such circumstances, shall be admitted to share the advantages or not; but Her Majesty's Government feel that the terms used, whether Bible or Testament, or Scriptures—I will not dispute about which it is—all mean the authorized version of the Scriptures, and that the Roman Catholics have an insuperable objection to the authorized version. Now, that, as it appears to me, is neither more nor less than to say that the Roman Catholics are to be excluded at present from all benefit from this grant. What, then, is their prospect? Why, they are told, that at the present time they are not to partake of this grant; but that at some future time their insulated case—insulated, I had almost said invidiously—is to be presented for the consideration of the House. When is the right time? I say that the time to do justice is now; and I never can believe that it is good policy to postpone any concession which justice, and equity, and the spirit of liberty and freedom, irresistibly demand. I do not wish to press the matter further, or impede the Government in any manner. I have stated frankly my opinion. But I shall not vote upon the present occasion with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury. I am decidedly of opinion that the course taken by the Government in all other respects, saving only the great question affecting the Roman Catholics, is not only justifiable, but also prudent and judicious. I think it infinitely better to proceed by an Order in Council, in the present state of religious feeling in this country, than to attempt to introduce an Act of Parliament which, with the prevalent sentiments of the people, it would be practically impossible to carry. I think that great good will arise from the course adopted by Her Majesty's Government; but I cannot consent to purchase that good at the expense of committing injustice on our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. I have already adverted to the National system of education in Ireland, in which the authorized version of the Scriptures is not used, and in which, indeed, the use of the entire Bible is not permitted, but in which extracts, in which both the Protestants and the Catholics agree, are substituted for the Scriptures themselves. And I do not wish needlessly to advert to a measure which it was my duty to bring under discussion with reference to the Roman Catholics in Ireland; but we carried a measure establishing colleges, in which secular education alone is enforced apart from religious instruction. I prefer, however, the course which Her Majesty's Government have pursued in that respect with reference to England. I cordially give my approbation to a scheme which, with the exception of the important point I have mentioned, I consider based on a sound principle and on a liberal policy; but I cannot pass over the omission, and I think that the exclusion of our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects is a case which is entitled to the immediate and the favourable consideration of Her Majesty's Government.


said: Sir, I own that after this measure has been for three nights debated, I rise considerably relieved from the apprehensions I might have entertained of the decision which will be come to by this House. The great objection, which was stated in the front of this measure, was, that the State ought not to interfere with the education of the people; and the various petitions which have been presented to this House—a great part, at least, of those presented against this measure—have declared, and the 500 delegates who have assembled from various parts of the country have declared, and have expressed their conviction, that we ought to lay down the rule that the State ought not to assist in the education of the people, or, rather, that it ought not to educate them. What, then, do I find when this measure is brought under the consideration of the House, and when I invite the attention of the House especially to this objection? I find that the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, and who must be considered upon this occasion as the organ of the Congregationalists and the Baptists, has not in any part of his speech declared that principle—that he has not in any part of his speech defended the ground that the State ought not to educate the people. Sir, I really thought before he spoke, that I was brought up on the same sort of in dictment on which the Clerk of Chatham was arraigned before Jack Cade:— The clerk of Chatham, he can write and read and cast accompt. O monstrous! We took him setting of boys' copies. Here's a villain! I thought that would have been the charge; but that cause has been taken up only by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Durham (Mr. Bright). In the course of this debate I find the hon. Baronet the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay), the hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester (Sir J. East-hope), the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth), and the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Mahon), every one speaking in favour of education by the State—every one finding certain fault with our measure; but all agreeing that it is the duty of Parliament to assist in the education of the people. Then, Sir, I really think it is too much to ask the House to enter upon an inquiry—whether the measure we have undertaken "do not unduly increase the influence of the Crown, invade the constitutional functions of Parliament, and interfere with the religious convictions and the civil rights of Her Majesty's subjects?" I say, that placing that in the front of the resolution, can be with no other wish than that it should be considered a censure upon us for having introduced this measure; although some hon. Members, who vote for this resolution, only do so with a wish for inquiry, and not on the ground of blaming us for endeavouring to promote the education of the people. But the hon. Gentleman the Member for Durham has declared very strongly against any interference on the part of this House with the the education of the people; and he declared, in rather ominous words, towards the end of his speech, that certain other consequences would follow the adoption of this resolution by the House. That is the hon. Gentleman's opinion; and the hon. Gentleman argued it, as be always does, with great force and power; but I must except to the argument held in one part of his speech. He said, with regard to Church schools, that we admitted in- spectors who would be clergymen to inquire into the religious faith and the progress in knowledge of the pupils; and he said, that if we had dared we should have proposed the same inspection for the Dissenters' schools, and that we refrained from the proposal because no Government durst make it. What, Sir, has been my conduct which will justify the hon. Gentleman in making such an imputation—that it is only through fear that we have abstained from encouraging interference with the religious convictions of the Dissenters? Sir, I have taken part with others in freeing the Dissenters from the disabilities under which they formerly laboured. When I found them oppressed and restrained by the disabilities imposed by the Test and Corporation Acts, I proposed, and we succeeded, against an adverse Government, in repealing the Act which created those disabilities; and when, afterwards, the Dissenters found themselves obliged to solemnize their marriages in church, though they objected to the form of service, it was a hardship, as we considered, upon their consciences, and we came down to both. Houses of Parliament, and we passed a measure to free them from this objectionable regulation, and to enable them to contract marriages in a manner which their consciences approved of. I ask, what has the hon. Gentleman the Member for Durham done for the Dissenters to outweigh these measures? What right has he to make the imputation that it is our wish to interfere with the religious convictions and religious freedom of the Dissenters? Sir, another ground of opposition has been taken to this measure. At meetings in the country, it has been stated that the Government has countenanced error as much as truth—that we are prepared to go so far as that all distinctions between truth and falsehood should be lost—and that our principles are evidently latitudinarian. This objection was taken, and it was evident that there would be great opposition to the measure on the part of many Dissenters, because we extended an endowment to the Roman Catholic schools; and for my part I cannot but believe, that many of those who in their resolutions have stated, they consider it a great hardship and a great injustice that the Roman Catholic schools do not come within the terms of the present Minutes, took a strong objection to the endowment of Maynooth, and protested most strongly against any extension of assistance to the Roman Ca- tholics. I find among those who voted against the grant to Maynooth the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Durham; and I cannot but think that he, among others, would have objected to what he considers giving aid by the State to religious error. But, I must, after the statements made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, and especially by the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke, enter into some further explanation of our conduct with regard to this measure. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark has gone into numerous details on this subject, and has stated several suppositions of his, some of which are entirely erroneous; he has also stated some parts of the correspondence with the secretaries of the Wesleyan body; but there is one passage in that correspondence which he not only omitted to read, but of which he omitted all notice whatever. When the Wesleyan body, in consequence of a communication from Lord Ashley—a communication which was altogether unauthorized by the Government—asked what were our intentions with respect to the Roman Catholic body? the following answer was given to them, showing our intention:— Their Lordships have not superseded the operation of their Minute of the 3rd December, 1839, by their Minutes of August and December, 1846. The whole series of Minutes are connected, and are to be deemed mutually explanatory. Their Lordships have hitherto made no provision for the extension of aid to Roman Catholic schools; but they have not, by their recent nor by any preceding Minutes, precluded themselves from presenting to Parliament further Minutes, by which, upon a full consideration of the wants of the population, and the constitution of the school, they may be enabled to grant such assistance. Clearly meaning, that further Minutes were intended to be made and would be presented:— These further Minutes, when presented, will make a separate provision for Roman Catholic schools, and will in no degree unsettle the basis on which aid is now granted to other schools. Full opportunity will be given for the consideration and discussion of such Minutes, before Parliament is called upon to carry them into execution; and no one who agrees to accept aid under the present Minutes will be thereby in any degree pledged to approve these future Minutes, or precluded from offering to them such opposition as he may think expedient. Now, Sir, I say that this answer entirely frees us, in the first place, from the charge that has been made against us, of endeavouring to deceive the Wesleyans into a belief, that no aid would ever he given to the Roman Catholic schools; for it was clear that we had an intention of considering Minutes and of framing them, so as to give aid to Roman Catholic schools; and, in the next place, it entirely puts an end to the charge made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester, and by others, that to satisfy and please the Wesleyans the Roman Catholic body is to be thrown overboard. It is clear that the answer alludes to the decision under the Minutes made in December, 1839, which are separate from the Minutes of 1846, and proceeded on the then state of affairs. Now, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke makes it necessary to recall to the recollection of the House the occurrences of the year 1839. We proposed that the commencement made in that year should be by establishing model schools; and I remember that in the Committee of Council, or previous to the formation of that Committee—I am not sure exactly which—when the plan was framed, I particularly urged that the Roman Catholics should not be excluded; and I proposed words, that in Roman Catholic schools the Douay version might be used. It was thought that those words would excite great apprehension, alarm, and opposition in the country, and it was quite evident that very general resistance would be made to the plan of any schools in which the Roman Catholic scholars should be taught the Douay version. The opinion of the Government on that occasion was the same which the right hon. Gentleman adopted with respect to his own Bill. He withdrew the measure as not being likely to meet with the approbation of Parliament and the country. We then proposed our Minutes, in which certain special cases were provided for; but the model school and the Douay version were entirely omitted. Great opposition was made to those Minutes, and one of the principal grounds of opposition made to the grant of that year was, that the Government had not entirely given up the notion, at some time or other, of extending those Minutes by allowing the Douay version to be used in the schools; and, as far as I remember, no one was more strong in his opposition on that and other grounds than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester (Sir J. Graham). There was undoubtedly a strong feeling in the country upon the subject; there were vehement speeches made in this House upon it; the vote was only carried by a majority of two; and it was evident that a very large minority did in a very great degree represent a very large portion of the public opinion hostile to it. The dread of seeing Reman Catholic schools, expressly as such, established with the public money, entered very much into the views and considerations which made that minority so considerable. That circumstance certainly made an impression upon my mind, and convinced me, that however desirable it might be to extend aid to the Roman Catholic schools, for some years to come at all events—perhaps, for many years, we should have to make our choice between aiding all the schools belonging to the Church and to the Protestant Dissenters, and not aiding the Roman Catholics, or giving up all hope of assisting education altogether. My conclusion was, and it was the conclusion of the Committee of the Privy Council, that the better way was to go on giving what aid we could, as by that means great benefit must necessarily ensue, although we might express our dissatisfaction with the terms we were obliged to observe with regard to the Roman Catholics. Those terms with regard to the exclusive use of the authorized version were laid down in the Minute of 1839, by which I admit to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) we effectually excluded the Roman Catholic schools. The schools to be aided were, either to be in connexion with the National Society, or the British and Foreign School Society. That condition shut out the Roman Catholics in 1839; it shut them out in 1840 and in 1841, during which time the Whig party were in office; but it shut them out likewise from 1841 to 1846, at the time when the right hon. Gentleman was himself a member of the Committee of Education. I own I cannot well enter into the distinction which the right hon. Gentleman makes, when he says, that I had no objection to exclude the Roman Catholics on the ground that they could not receive aid through the National Society or the British and Foreign School Society; but that I had the greatest objection to exclude them when there was a different rule, which allowed parties to come to the Committee of Privy Council without going through those societies. Why, it appears to me that whether they are excluded by telling them, "You must go to societies which will not hear of you—which will have no connexion with you—which cannot, by their constitution, promote the Roman Catholic schools;" or whether you tell them, "You are excluded, because the Scriptures must be daily read in the schools—those Scriptures being the authorized version;" I own it does seem to me that with regard to the Roman Catholics the effect is exactly the same; and that they were excluded from 1841 to 1846 by the ride which had been laid down so long ago as the year 1833, and of a subsequent rule laid down in 1839. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester acted under those Minutes, when he acted as a Member of the Committee of Council. If, therefore, he thought it so great an injustice that the Roman Catholics should not receive aid, that was the time when he could have impressed upon his Colleagues the necessity of giving them that assistance. Yet it appears that although the right hon. Gentleman felt strongly that objection to the Minutes, and although, as he says, he urged it upon his Colleagues, yet, as to any effect produced, none was ever perceptible—there never was any aid given, and the question never was brought in any shape before this House. Why, Sir, I rather think that the right hon. Gentleman had an excuse which we thought a valid one—the same excuse which we had in 1839, 1840, and 1841—namely, that the opinions of the country were so strong upon this point, that the whole aid to education would be very much endangered by bringing the Roman Catholic schools within the scheme; and therefore if the right hon. Gentleman and his friends wished to assist education at all, they must interpose some delay before those schools could be included. The right hon. Gentleman says that the version of the Scriptures adopted by Fenelon and Pascal should be recognised by the Council. I do not know exactly the version to which the right hon. Gentleman alludes; but the most eminent Roman Catholic writers whom I have had the opportunity of consulting, when they wish to quote the Bible accurately, always quote from the Vulgate, which everybody knows is the highest authority among the. Roman Catholics, and the introduction of the Vulgate, every Gentleman must be aware, would be quite unintelligible in our English schools. But Low stands the question now? The Committee of Council have declared both to the Wesleyans and to the Roman Catholics, that they shall be prepared to consider Minutes which will admit Roman Catholic schools to receive Government aid. But was it desirable that in 1846 we should have proposed to change the rule which had subsisted from 1833, and that we should have added this further difficulty to those with which we had already to contend? I firmly believe, seeing the opposition we have had to encounter, that if we had revived our proposition of 1839, or if we had made a separate provision in the month of December or February last for Roman Catholic schools, we should have been unable to carry the vote that we now propose. Yes, I make that declaration in spite of the great liberality which has been shown in the course of this debate, because I have seen, in more than one instance, how strong a feeling there has been on the part of certain parties against any aid, assistance, or even, as I think, just relief to the Roman Catholics. I remember when it was considered that one of the ways in which aid might be given to the Roman Catholics would be by establishing Roman Catholic schools in Ireland upon the principle of the National school system in this country, that it was thought similar schools might be even established here also; and an attempt was made for that purpose by the corporation of Liverpool. A school was established, in which Roman Catholic and Protestant children were both taught in the ordinary branches of education, their religious instruction being carried on in separate parts of the building. The school was conducted with great harmony, and, as it appeared, with great advantage to the poorer part of the Catholic population in Liverpool. But when Lord Stanley, who was the person to introduce such a scheme in Ireland, was asked his opinion as to the practicability of that scheme in England; what was his reply? He said, that although it was a plan fit for adoption in Ireland, yet in his opinion it was unfit for England. The popular opinion in Liverpool wen against this school, The ratepayers who, according to the Municipal Corporations Act, elected the municipal council, opposed at the following election those members of the corporation who supported the school, displaced them, and elected others of opposite opinions; the teaching of the Roman Catholics according to their own faith was discontinued, and the school was thenceforth conducted on an entirely different system. Here then we have a strong feeling expressed on the very subject of giving aid to the Roman Catholics; and we have also the opinion of the noble Lord who introduced the system into Ireland, and who, therefore, might be thought a most compe- tent authority on the subject. But we have just had a remarkable proof of the unwillingness of this House to give further aid to the Roman Catholics. A Bill was introduced by an hon. Gentleman (Mr. Watson) for the purpose of relieving Roman Catholics from penalties which it appears to me they ought not to be liable to. I cannot conceive how any person could make out one decent argument against it. That Bill, it was true, contained some clauses that were very questionable; but those parts could have been entirely changed or altogether left out when the Bill went into Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel), spoke in favour of going into Committee; the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck), whose opinions may be considered to carry some weight in this House, also spoke in favour of going into Committee upon the Bill; while the Government and every person I believe in office voted in favour of the Bill; and yet notwithstanding all this support, the second reading of that measure was carried only by a majority of three; and on the next occasion there was a majority of thirty-eight against going into Committee. I voted in the minority on that occasion, having voted in the majority on the second reading. The right hon. Gentleman was not here, I think, on the last occasion. [Sir J. GRAHAM: I was here on every other occasion, and voted in favour of the Bill.] My object was to show how strong were the feelings of the House on this subject, and how many Members expressed their great unwillingness to go into Committee on such a Bill; and thus, by inference, to demonstrate the very great difficulty there would have been to induce them to make any further concessions to the Roman Catholics upon the subject of education. But, Sir, if we have said that the rule which was made in 1839 should not be altered in 1846, when we had other questions before us, and if we ask for time to deliberate upon the future Minutes that may be made, it is not to be said of us that we have specially, upon this occasion, excluded the Roman Catholics from this measure. My own opinion is, that we should have failed if we had attempted to have extended the scheme to them now. But my opinion is, especially after what I have heard during these three nights of debate, that it is very possible we may be able to frame Minutes by which, when the House shall next be asked to grant aid to these schools, the Roman Catholics may be included with the others; and that in places where there is a poor population of Catholics, they likewise may have the benefit of these grants. Certainly no one on this (the Ministerial) side of the House—I mean connected with the Government—neither my noble Friend the Member for the West Riding of York, nor my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, nor myself, concealed his opinions upon this subject. We do say, indeed, that we will not force the House to come to an immediate decision upon the question; but that at the same time we do take a favourable view of assisting the education of the Roman Catholics, as we have done with regard to many other subjects. This, I think, can hardly be doubted by any. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, that there is no reason why they should not be included in this vote; and I think it is far more likely that if they are included in the next vote, or in some other vote upon this subject, the House and the country will agree to the terms upon which such a grant will be proposed. However, this question has arisen, I must say, somewhat suddenly upon me. I did not expect that it would have been made the main subject of debate upon this occasion; I thought that the rule which had subsisted for many years, might have been permitted to go on for another year without making it the subject of special contention and accusation at this particular moment. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth), who has spoken very ably in support of the vote to-night, and of grants in general for the purposes of education, wishes to carry a Motion for aid to the Roman Catholics as a part of this grant. I own that I consider the framing of any Minutes upon this subject will require great care and deliberation. Should they be framed upon the ground of their being entirely Roman Catholic schools, and of their teaching the Roman Catholic doctrines, and of their having Roman Catholic inspectors, I have no doubt that a great many would object to the Minutes upon those grounds. Should we propose they should be like the National schools in Ireland, and that aid should be granted in the same manner as aid is granted to those schools, and with regard to which we have added considerably by the vote of the present year, I am not sure that the Roman Catholic bishops would approve of the vote in such a shape. I know that some of them object to the Vote for National Education and for National schools proposed on that ground; I think, therefore, that for this and other reasons it is necessary to postpone this question and the drawing up of any Minutes by which that aid should be granted. I entirely agree in all that was said by my noble Friend the Member for Yorkshire, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and am, like them, convinced, that we cannot have any permanent system without including Roman Catholics. But the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, and many other hon. Members, seem to have forgotten that we are not here proposing a permanent measure; we are proposing to give further aid in order to the improvement of schools. In 1839 we introduced a very great alteration, and that was the alteration of inspection; before that, the school votes were given according to the decision of the Treasury; and many of those sums of money were given to schools which after a few years fell into decay, and the money was entirely thrown away. I believe that the system of inspection has been very useful to those schools. Well, then, according to the present vote, we propose that the teaching by monitors and assistant teachers shall be improved, and the situation of schoolmasters shall be hereafter improved. But it does not follow, certainly, that we propose this as any permanent, far less as any complete system. I trust that by our votes year after year we may attain in the end to some general agreement of the nation upon this subject, than which none more important can be brought under the consideration of this House. I must obseve that when these votes have gone on, seeing that it is the general opiaion—almost the unanimous opinion—of this House, that education ought to be aided by the State, I trust there will be that general agreement which will enable us to bring in a Bill which shall gain the consideration of this and of the other House of Parliament. But have we been wrong in not introducing a Bill on the present occasion? I must say, that the variety of opinions on this subject confirms me in the opinion that we were right in not introducing this question by Bill; for recollect—and let those especially who have objected to our course recollect—that if we had proposed to grant 150,000l. or 250,000l. out of the Consolidated Fund, or 500,000l.—as my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, I think, proposed—we should then have put it out of the power of this House, unless with the consent of the other House, ever to alter the system thus established. That is the case with respect to the grant for Maynooth, which used to be an annual vote, and which now by Act of Parliament is established in a manner which cannot be altered unless with the consent of both Houses of Parliament. My own belief is that the state of opinion on education is not ripe for such a proceeding. After a great number of years—after proceeding nearly fifty years by annual vote—the right hon. Gentleman opposite proposed his Bill for Maynooth. I cordially supported it; and I thought that the time was come when a permanent system with regard to the education of the Roman Catholic priesthood might be established in Ireland. But this question — many questions indeed — took a long time in deliberation, in ripening, in discussion, in this House and in the country. I remember, with regard to a question, which I should hardly have thought would have provoked much keenness of contention or created much difficulty—the question of the county courts—when Mr. Canning was the leader of this House—that Lord Althorp brought forward that subject in three succeeding years, and endeavoured to establish county courts, in which questions of small debts might be decided. That measure was afterwards taken up by successive Governments. I introduced several Bills upon the subject. Several Bills were also introduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite; and having been taken up, I think, about the year 1824 or 1825, it was not until 1846 that any measure passed upon the subject, and it was not until within the last month or two that that measure has been brought into operation. I say that if there were such difficulty with a regard to question which did not excite religious prejudices, and which was not exposed to a great variety of opinions, is it not allowable to wait for some years before we introduce a permanent Bill upon so difficult a question as that of national education? I think that our introducing this vote in the present year, and improving the system hitherto acted upon, has tended to bring out many opinions—many useful opinions—on this subject.—It has, above all, shown that the disposition of this House is favourable to education being aided by the State; for many of those who will vote with the hon. Member for Finsbury for a resolution that would put an end to the grant for the present year, are yet favourable to education being so aided; and the large majority which I trust there will be for this vote, are of course in favour of the same principle. With regard to the other question, I think likewise many intricate points have been disposed of by the disposition shown by the greater part of those hon. Members who have spoken, to have this question decided in one way against the small minority who have spoken on the other side. I think the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, that education should be entirely secular, with whatever ability he may support it, is so completely against the opinion of this or of any House of Parliament, that I cannot believe that there will be any success of that proposition; and I do not think that the future Minister, whom the hon. and learned Gentleman imagines as exceeding the present Government in liberality, however he may so exceed them, is likely to have a very long tenure of power, if "vote for education without religion" should be placed on his banner, and that schools entirely secular should be established by the State. With regard to other matters there has been really so much support given to the proposition of the Government, there has been so much handsome and generous support given, amongst others by the right hon. Baronet who spoke to-night, by the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, by the noble Lord the Member for Hertford, and many others, that I will conclude with thanking them, and this House, for the reception which our proposition has met with. It is intended to raise the character of the people of this country; and, with the support which I trust we shall have from this House, I do not think we shall be disappointed in our hope.


said, he should not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury, and he could not vote with the noble Lord who had just sat down. He knew something of the value of the old adage, "Look before you leap;" and when he recollected how he had been deceived by a former Government, with regard to a measure of equal importance, that had taught him a lesson ever to be cautious how he placed confidence in any other Government. He highly commended the noble Lord at the head of the Government for his candid declaration, which was far more open and honest than any his predecessor the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had ever made. He had heard the noble Lord say distinctly that the grant was not proposed as a permanent one; and he had heard also that it was not a complete measure. He thought as much. He was taught by experience—and that made men wiser, or ought to do so—to believe that the noble Lord had ulterior measures in contemplation. Of course the noble Lord was aware they would not receive his support—timeo Danaos dona ferentes. The present measure was only a trap to draw them into a snare. He hold no uncharitable feelings with respect to the Roman Catholics; but he could not subscribe to any proposition which had for its object any further concessions to them in the way of grants or otherwise. On the contrary, so strong was his feeling upon this subject, that if any hon. Member would mave for the repeal of the Act of 1829 (the Catholic Emancipation Act), he would second the Motion.


Although I feel it to be wholly unnecessary to add anything to the arguments which have been already laid before the House, yet I should be extremely unwilling to permit the House to proceed to a division without shortly stating the grounds upon which my concurrence is given to the Motion of the noble Lord. Considering the position which for five years I held in the Government of this country—considering the connexion which I have had with the appropriation of the sums voted by the House—considering that I was a Member of the Committee of Council entrusted with the administration of that fund—considering the opportunities which the Government with which I was connected had of proposing measures, the main outlines of which I approved—I think that on account of that appropriation, and on account, also, of the considerations to which I have been referring, that I ought not to shrink from my full share of whatever responsibility may attach to supporting the Motion now before the House; and most especially that I ought not to shrink from my full share of any unpopularity which I may run the risk of encountering on account of the support which I feel bound to give to the present vote. I admit that the course we are about to pursue is one in which we should not lightly engage. I admit that the considerations connected with this measure deserve the most mature attention; and amongst the earliest reflections which present themselves to my mind in connexion with this subject, is the form in which it comes before us. In the year 1839, I fully shared the objections which were then expressed to proceeding by way of single vote in preference to introducing a Bill. It was then considered objectionable to proceed by single vote in devising even the most imperfect scheme of education; and I confess that, in my mind, the objections to that course still continue. I think that, in these cases, great advantage aries from adhering to the ordinary mode of proceeding, by submitting to the full consideration of Parliament the regulations according to which any vote for purposes of this kind is to be administered. I conceive, also, that there is great evil in excluding the House of Lords from a full consideration of the whole question. I conceive it to be most disadvantageous to leave that House without any alternative—they must now reject the measure wholly, or adopt it without qualification. I say I regret all this; but with my view of the immense importance of making some progress in reducing the monstrous evil of leaving the country without sufficient means of education—foreseeing the probable consequences of insisting now upon the opposition which, in the year 1839, I felt it my duty to offer to the measure of education then proposed—I have resolved to give the present proposition whatever advantage may be derived from my support, and not to refuse my assent to a proposal for educating the people, merely because it does not come before us in the shape of a legislative enactment. I will not now incur the risk of adding to the evils of popular ignorance, by insisting upon the objections which I urged in 1839, and which I continue strongly to feel, though I confess I am by no means impressed with a conviction that I ought now to urge them upon the attention of the House as strenuously as I did upon that occasion. I need scarcely remind hon. Members that for six years we, who belonged to the Government, have not only acquiesced, but the House has acquiesced, in giving the Privy Council those powers which it is now only proposed to render more efficient for the purposes of education. At first the amount placed at the disposal of the Privy Council did not exceed 30,000l.; it was next advanced to 75,000l.; it was then further extended to 100,000l. We were then charged with the responsibilities attaching to the Government of the country. In 1840 and 1841, Parliament still acquiesced, and there seemed no disposi- tion to renew the discussion of 1839, although the vote had been gradually increased from 30,000l. to 100,000l., without the House requiring that its character should in any respect be altered. Shall we, then, be charged with inconsistency if now, in 1847, we seek even an imperfect remedy for evils with the amount of which we are most deeply impressed? It is asked, have we done nothing since 1842; have we made no attempt to promote the education of the people? I presume the House can scarcely have forgotten that my right hon. Friend the late Secretary of State for the Home Department was exposed to much obloquy when he introduced a measure for giving education to the factory children. My right hon. Friend thought he might mitigate the probable hostility to that scheme of education, if he proceeded by means of legislative enactment. We made that attempt; but unfortunately we met with no great encouragement, and my right hon. Friend abandoned the undertaking, both he and I deeply regretting the failure of an attempt which was intended and calculated to unite all parties in devising some scheme which should, without violating the conscientious feelings of any class of Her Majesty's subjects, impart increased facilities to the business of education. An attempt to accomplish that object is now made, in 1847; shall we incur the responsibility of exposing it to the chances of a failure? Shall we compute the thousands who are born every week, and not provide for them the means of moral, intellectual, and religious culture? When I recollect the state in which that part of the population is left, I am ready to give my consent to any measure which, without violating the consciences of parents, may afford some remedy for this monstrous evil. In the course of the present discussion, we have heard much able argument as to the right and authority of the State to interfere in the education of the people; and the House have only heard a very faint denial of that right and authority. As far as I have been able to ascertain, there does not exist on the part of the great body of the Dissenters any disposition to deny the importance of popular education, or the right of the State and the duty of the State to promote that education. I apprehend that the chief objection of the Nonconforming body is not so much a denial of the right and authority of the State to regulate the education of the people, as it is a doubt whether any Government could effectively carry out a complete scheme of popular education. Now, to me it appears, that they can only object to the present plan, upon the ground that the voluntary system is a preferable mode of effecting the object in view—that the voluntary plan is more eligible than that of Government interference. If I could be brought to believe that non-interference on the part of the State was to be preferred to interference, I should at once say it is much better to avoid any exercise of that authority and right which I believe the State to possess. But all the evidence that has ever come before us upon this point concurs in showing that the voluntary system has failed; and shall we then leave the people unaided by the assistance which Government interference may supply? I believe no consideration would induce us to do so if we could know the extent of evil which has arisen from the present ignorance of the people; if there could be presented to us a full account of all the crime which has been generated by the want of education—if we could obtain a statement extending over the last fifty years, of all the vice which the evil example of parents impressed upon the character and disposition of children, the violence and rapine which ignorance has occasioned, the offences against life and property which a neglect of education has superinduced—if we could only enumerate how many immortal souls have been within that period sent into the presence of their Creator and their Judge, ignorant of the great truths of religion and the principles of Christianity, we should shudder at our own grievous disregard of duty, and struggle without delay to repair the evils of our past neglect. I look to the volumes of evidence which have been printed within the last few years. I hold in my hand one of the volumes of reports made by the Commissioners appointed to consider the state and condition of the children employed in several districts of the mines. This single report refers to the condition of the children in the Forest of Dean, North Somerset, the West Hiding of Yorkshire, North Staffordshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire, North Wales, and South Wales. This evidence has been collected, and these opinions are expressed by men of the highest integrity and the greatest ability, and their reports come to the same conclusion—that there is a complete degradation of the people in many parts of the country on account of the neglect of education. I believe we are little aware of the extent to which that neglect has gone. There are some returns of the number of children educated, and the result of inquiries into the nature of the education given them. There is a population of 300,000 or 400,000 children, and of that number 100,000 are educated, and 200,000 have received no education whatever. We are shocked at this disproportion; but, if we were acquainted with the nature of the education given to these 100,000, our reflection would be more painful still. I have not come to a conclusion upon this subject without maturely considering the whole state of it. I know that any reference to documents of this kind is not very palatable to the House; but, in my opinion, they are of much more importance than mere speculative arguments. I will take the case of a district of great importance—that of Oldham, in the county of Lancaster; and I look to the evidence of a clergyman of the Church of England, the curate of St. James's parish, in Oldham; and what is the account he gives of the state of education, the extent of education amongst the poor, and the nature of it? I am now considering the question, whether it is safe to trust to the voluntary system for the education of the poor, and that the rule of the State ought to be non-interference. This clergyman of the Church of England says— There is in this district no public day-school whatever. I have made several attempts to establish one, but in vain, although I have received assistance from the National Society, and from a Parliamentary grant. I got a house built containing one large school-room and two smaller rooms; but it was found impossible to procure an adequate attendance of scholars to pay the master. Three masters attempted the conducting of the school, but without success. It was only a week ago when the last person gave up the undertaking as hopeless. Now, observe that this gentleman states (and this is no bad specimen) that there are no public day-schools whatever. It is true there were Sunday schools established; and the parents of the children, being employed in mines, did not object to their going to Sunday schools, because their attendance there does not interfere with their work during the week; and the children who attend the Sunday schools are returned as educated children. Now, this is the opinion given by the same gentleman in respect to the attendance at the Sunday schools:— As a means of religious instruction, it is obvious that these schools, as they are conducted, are imperfect in the extreme, as these secular schools do more harm than good by lowering the people's estimation of the value of secular instruction. I think that this clergyman may very well draw the inference that these kind of schools do more harm than good, because the secular instruction given in them is extremely defective, and the religious instruction almost as imperfect. The evidence of the boys themselves is equally decisive. A boy was examined of the age of fifteen, who said that he had attended the school for five or six years, and he could only read, and not write, whilst another boy could not read nor write. In the course of a few months, this gentleman said, the parents not paying for their children's education at a public day-school, the masters left, and no competent person remained to superintend it. Is not this a proof that the voluntary principle cannot be depended upon to insure a competent system of instruction? Now, what is proposed? It is proposed, in the first place, to elevate the character of the schoolmasters—to exalt their condition in the scale of society—to give them employment and encouragement by the aid of the Government. As to the objection that this will extend the patronage of the Government, it is really too futile to require to be seriously answered. The most important part of the Minutes of Council, in my opinion, is their tendency to raise the character of schoolmasters; at least to secure competent schoolmasters, who are now glad to abandon the tenure of their office, which is a most precarious one, against the temptations offered by merchants and manufacturers, who, when they see young men of good character and ability, tempt them by higher salaries to leave their occupation. And is it to be expected that you can procure the services of good schoolmasters, unless, by the aid of the State, you can give them an adequate reward, and hold out to them some prospect, when, they are incapacitated for the performance of their duty, of obtaining something by way of a retired allowance? Sir, I deeply regret that this measure has met with the opposition of a part of the Nonconformist body. I entertain great respect for the Non*conformist body, and I trust I have shown my sentiments towards them on former occasions, and in advocating the Dissenters' Chapels Bill; and, attached as I am to the Established Church of England, I should be sorry to give to that Church any advantage by means of this Education Vote, if I thought it unjust to the Dissenters. We should be thereby forgetful of the past services of the Dissenting body in the cause of education; for when the members of the Church of England were indifferent in that cause, an example of zeal was set them by the Nonconformists; and if I thought their objections to the Minutes entitled to any weight, if I gave to the Minutes any support, it would be a very reluctant and a greatly qualified support. But, on the contrary, after maturely considering the objections of the Dissenting body, I do not believe them to be founded in truth. I think the principle of aid is a perfectly fair one. The Minutes do not overturn, they adopt, the voluntary principle. This is no State interference with the voluntary principle; the measure will establish schools by the intervention of the voluntary principle, which will become more effectual by the aid of the Government. It is the opinion of the Dissenters that the measure will be to the advantage of the Established Church, and the Dissenters complain of this as an act of injustice; but if this proposition had been made ten years since, what would have been thought of it then by the Established Church? The Church, being deeply impressed with the magnitude of the evils that exist, and the necessity for waving all objections, is willing to be put on an equality with the Dissenters. The Church is not asking anything that is not fair and equitable; but if the members of the Church are more zealous than others—if they are disposed to contribute more than others, on what principle will you withhold from the Church that aid which is to be proportioned to the amount raised by zealous exertions? Do they ask it on account of the superior numbers of the members of the Establishment? If they do so, can anything be more just? But if it is not given on account of numbers, does not superior zeal and liberality constitute also a claim for increase of aid? Try it on what principle you will, you can urge no objection to those votes on account of the supposed advantage which is gained by the Church. I am not denying that the Church is powerful—I rejoice that it is so. I think the power of the Church is increasing; and why is it increasing? My firm belief is, that the power of the Church is increasing, and that her hold on the affections of the people of this country is becoming strengthened, because she is becoming more awake to the magnitude of the duties she has to perform. My firm be- life is, that the Church has acquired this increased hold on the respect and veneration of the people of this country by her willingness to make timely and salutary reforms—by her readiness to consent to the reduction of superfluous emoluments for the higher orders of the Church, and to devote those emoluments to an increase of church accommodation and the increase of the spiritual charge of the people by inferior labourers. I believe it is these things that have greatly increased her power. This is the legitimate source of her power, for it is not Government aid or the Government grants that are giving the Church increased influence; for the Church would be powerful, as powerful without this Government aid as it is with it. In what manner does the Government increase the power of the Church in any district where she is more numerous than the friends of dissent? Why has it that power over the education of the people? It is—and I say it not invidiously towards Dissenters, for I have given my full amount of praise to the Dissenters—it is because the Church is becoming aware of the necessity, both for temporal and spiritual objects, of attending to the education of the people; it is because her conduct is guided by that necessity that this influence has been gained; and that legitimate influence on the part of the Church will not be diminished by the principle acted upon in these Minutes, which is one of perfect equality. On these grounds, Sir, I shall give my support to the proposal of the noble Lord. And on the same grounds I cannot vote for the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. I think we have had abundant inquiry. I think the facts are well known. If we resort to the evidence of which we are already in possession, we shall need no further inquiry to convince us that the institutions of this country are not sufficiently capacious, as they at present exist, to provide for the education of the countless millions engaged in the pursuits of labour. In the course of this discussion a question of great importance has arisen with regard to the condition of other subjects of Her Majesty than either those who are members of the Established Church or those who are usually called Dissenters. I speak of the Roman Catholic population. I am of opinion that no establishment of general education, even in England, could be deemed complete which excluded the Roman Catholic population. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) says, that there is no alteration made in the principle of the Minutes of 1839; but in that respect I differ from the noble Lord. I think you are about, practically at least, to make a material difference on the principles on which you have hitherto acted. You are about to admit to a participation of the advantages of this vote members of the Dissenting community who have hitherto been excluded. Hitherto, the Wesleyan body has not, practically at least, had any participation in this vote. They were not in connexion either with the National Society or the British and Foreign School Society, and, therefore, the rule which excluded from the participation of the Parliamentary vote any society not in connexion with those institutions, excluded the Wesleyans from any pecuniary advantage from the vote. You are about to alter the principle of the Minutes in that respect. You have given assurances to the Wesleyans that the rule which has hitherto prevailed shall not be applicable to them—that their schools, although they are not in connexion with either of the present societies, shall be entitled to aid—and that the authorities of the Wesleyan body shall be consulted in respect to the inspection of their schools. Why, I say, so far as the condition of the Roman Catholics is concerned, that is a material difference—it is a material difference in point of feeling as well as in point of practice. You are going to widen the sphere of the measure, and the more wide that sphere is the more marked is the exclusion. Therefore, I think the time is come—and I am the more anxious to avow it because the avowal of opinions, in this respect, may be unpopular—I think the time is come when justice and good policy will require from you the mature consideration of the position of the Roman Catholic population. I will take the case of the Roman Catholic population of Manchester or Liverpool, or any other great town. Let us look at this question without reference to the alteration of this or that Minute, or to the meaning of their particular terms, or whether the word "Scripture" means the authorized version only, or whether the Roman Catholics are excluded, from not being in connexion with the two great societies to which I have alluded. Let us look at the question by itself, and seeing that we are about—I will not say to adopt a permanent system, but a Minute the same as that on which we have been acting—let us sec, whether or no we can exclude, on any condition, the Roman Catholic po- pulation. I know, as has been said by a right hon. Friend, that it may be expedient to postpone the consideration of this question for some months. I am not disposed to urge the hasty adoption of any measure of this nature; but I am not disposed, on the other hand, to leave any doubt as to the opinions which I hold. I will take the population of Manchester, then, in which there is a district called the "Irish town," in consequence of the great numbers of Irish resident there, amounting to from 60,000 to 70,000. Now, what class of people are these? They come over there relying on their industry, and they bargain for their labour. They have no natural protectors—there are few wealthy Catholics immediately connected with Manchester to care for their interests—and there is no one probably to superintend their education. There are 60,000 or 70,000 of them; and how is their education to be attended to? They have the priest, no doubt; but I apprehend the means of the priest to provide a system of education are too scanty for such a purpose. Is it for the advantage of the State that the children of these 60,000 or 70,000 people should be brought up in ignorance and vice? I confess I cannot conceive a more urgent case, not so far merely as the intellectual advantage of these Roman Catholics is concerned; but, if there be any virtue in our principle—if the true remedy against barbarism and crime and degradation of character is instruction—if this principle be applicable (and it is on this principle we are all agreed)—it is not for the advantage of the Protestant community that these Roman Catholic children should not be immersed in ignorance. So far as their position is concerned, I can conceive no stronger claim on the part of a provident and paternal Government than attention to their concerns. I will not be tempted in the least spirit of party to consider this question; I will not be induced by the observations of the noble Lord to refer to the absence, for the last five or six years, of any provision being made for those Roman Catholics. It may be there has not been earlier attention to this subject; but that is just the reason why the evil should now be remedied. I believe that the prevailing opinion in this House is, that it will be both just and politic to make some provision for the education of Roman Catholics. I do not deny that the subject is one of great importance, or that it presents great difficulties; but they are difficulties which, I think, may easily be solved. I cannot conceive that there can be many Protestant children attending Roman Catholic schools. I believe that generally the Roman Catholic school is for the education of Roman Catholic children. If there be schools in which joint education is given, then it is just on your part to require that your principle as to mixed education should be applied. But, to deal more particularly with schools in those large communities, and with that case which is most frequent, you find there Roman Catholic schools imperfectly provided with the means of instruction, and which are exclusively Roman Catholic. I may be told that if there be such schools, it would be a violation of principle to provide them with the means of educating children in error; but surely, by so providing those means, you are more likely to soften their minds and to conciliate them towards Protestant views—nay, without the attempt at conversion, to enlighten their understandings, and therefore to prepare their minds for the reception of the truths you profess, and to which you adhere, than if you doom them to perpetual exclusion from every civil advantage, and, adhering strictly to your religious principle, preferring to have a set of uneducated savages, instead of enlightened Roman Catholics, who had been educated under your parental care. I am firmly persuaded that it is not only for the civil advantage of the State, but also for the advantage of Protestantism itself, to provide, without compromising a principle, for the intellectual and secular education of these children. For it is probable that secular education is all that you would be called on to provide in the case of the Roman Catholic. Upon this subject, I heard with great satisfaction the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, because it appeared to me to be a speech which, wisely suited, perhaps, to the temper of the House, held out greater hopes of an early settlement of the question than we had been led to expect from the speeches which preceded his. I know well the difficulties of the subject. I remember the difficulties it presented to the late Government, and I remember the failure of our efforts with respect to it. I know, also, that to secure a present imperfect good, it is wise to proceed with caution; but, still with every desire to do the noble Lord and the Government what I consider to be an act of justice, I avow my opinion that the change about to be made in the Minutes of Council and in the system of public instruction does engender the necessity, in point of justice and good policy, of providing some means of aiding Roman Catholic schools. With the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Inglis) I will deal fairly; I am so resolved on the point, I see so great an evil, and how important it is to provide a remedy, that I am little disposed to throw any obstruction in the way of the measures of Her Majesty's Government. I think there is a prospect of passing them; and I understand from the declaration of the Government, that we may rely on an early consideration of the condition of the Roman Catholics with respect to this subject; and I shall not be inclined to take the risk of prejudicing the consideration of the general measure by any compulsion on the Government with regard to their not having proposed a scheme of education for Roman Catholics. But having made the change they have, I do entreat them not to receive the support of any body towards their present measure under the erroneous impression that the Roman Catholics ought to be excluded. There ought to be no such exclusion. And if there be a probability of an early election, it may be more important that there should be no misunderstanding on that subject. If the Government recognise the principle which I understand them to recognise, and openly to aver that they recognise, then they have given fair notice to all parties that, although some delay may take place in the preparation of the additional Minutes, yet that the principle is recognised that you must not doom one class of Her Majesty's subjects to perpetual exclusion from the benefit of the public grants for education, on account of the objections of other classes to their being allowed to participate. I call on persons of all religious persuasions to look back at what has been the cause of the delay on the subject of education. Originally that cause was fear; from a fear that general instruction would be dangerous to the institutions of the country. That passed away. It was succeeded by a great indifference as to this most important question—an indifference from which the Dissenting body were the first to be awakened. They set the example of activity in the cause of education. They were followed by others; and if it was late, yet there was certainly a great activity in the promotion of education. But now, the cause of the delay has been different. The cause now is to be found in our religious dissensions. We are all anxious for a system of education; yet we are all afraid to agree to any measure that is proposed, because we fear that some other body from whom we dissent will gain some advantage. One day the Dissenters refuse their assent, because they are afraid the Church will derive some advantage; on the next occasion, the Church is opposed to any measure, for fear of some recognition of the principle of dissent. But in the mean time, while all these disputes go on, it is for us to ask ourselves what is to become of the 800 children who are born every day? What is to become of the 300,000 persons who are every year added to the population? While we thus dispute, we are neglecting what to all Christians ought to be a subject of deep consideration—namely, the enlightenment of the whole people in Christian principles, the improving of their intellectual culture, and the teaching them the principles of that religion in which we all believe, notwithstanding our differences on minor points. I believe that true policy, no less than charity, and a regard for religious truth, ought to encourage us to lay aside these differences, to contemplate the magnitude of this evil, and to teach the children of all sects the great truths of Christianity. I am for a religious as opposed to a secular education. I do not think that a secular education alone would be acceptable to the people of this country. I believe, as the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) has said, that such an education is only half an education, but with the most important half neglected. And believing that a religious education is at least as important as a secular education, I think it is for the interest of religion, and above all of the Protestant religion, which shrinks not from the light, which rejoices in the spread of knowledge—I believe it is above all for the advantage of that Protestant religion which I profess, that the people should not be left in a state of ignorance; but that, by receiving intellectual culture, their minds should be prepared for the reception of those great truths which are in the first instance the foundation of all religion, but more especially of that religion which most courts inquiry, which most appeals to self-judgment, and which, the more it is examined, the more satisfaction it gives to the understanding of every enlightened and cultivated man.


said, both the right hon. Baronet, and the noble Lord at the head of the Government, had spoken of the "difficulties" of this question; yet the people of this country were neither unreasonable nor unjust. They both knew well that the difficulty was, that the people of this country were a religious people, and were not to be misled by sophistry. The leaders on both sides, however, had spoken out plainly; it was clear enough whither they were tending, and whither they were disposed to go, if it were not for this "difficulty." He was glad, however, that there was no more deceit, and that the people now knew what it was they were to look for. The Protestant party was no small or uninfluential one; it had been told very openly what it was to look for, and it could not place confidence in its leaders in that House either on one side or the other. When the time came, that party would know what sort of representatives it was to seek; and, if he did not greatly mistake it, it would endeavour to secure those who would be true and faithful representatives of Christian and Protestant feelings. It would see if it could not send such men to that House as would be able to defeat the schemes and measures of the leaders on either side, be they ever so able in argument or exalted in station. Those were his feelings with regard to this question; and he would just ask whether it was expedient, because they had a poor population in Manchester and Liverpool rising up in ignorance, to adopt a language which showed they had very little respect for principle? These measures might be very liberal; it might be liberalism, but it was not principle; it might be expediency, but it was not Christianity. ["Oh, oh!"] Those taunting cheers should not deter him from speaking the truth; he trusted he should never be afraid to declare his honest opinions, which he believed from the bottom of his heart to be these of the larger portion of the religious people of England. Let right hon. Gentlemen beware, while they educated the people in religions opposed to one another, that they did not bring on themselves the charge of being infidels. He could not bring himself to vote against the measure, and he was barely satisfied in supporting it, since it involved the dangerous principle of endowing alike truth and error,


wished to hold himself uncompromised by anything beyond voting for the present proposition; and he would ask the noble Lord one question: As he had, on the present Minutes, thought fit to appeal to Parliament, were the people to expect, in case of any future Minutes of the Council recommending a plan of popular education, that he would pursue the same course?


said, if any sum of money should be asked for under future Minutes, they would, of course, be submitted to the consideration of Parliament.


expressed a wish to withdraw the latter portion of his Amendment, which had been construed to imply a censure upon Her Majesty's Government, and stated that it was not his intention that the Motion should be regarded as conveying a censure upon the Ministry.


informed the hon. Gentleman that he could not withdraw any portion of his Motion without the consent of the House.

Amendment withdrawn, and the following being the first portion of the original Amendment was put as an Amendment:— That, previous to any grant of any public money being assented to by this House for the purpose of carrying out the scheme of National Education, as developed in the Minutes of the Committee of Council on Education in August and December last (which Minutes have been presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty), a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the justice and expediency of such scheme, and its probable annual cost.

The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 372; Noes 47: Majority 325.

List of the AYES.
Ackers, J. Bankes, G.
Acland, Sir T. D. Bannerman, A.
Acland, T. D. Barclay, D.
Adderley, C. B. Barkly, H.
Ainsworth, P. Baring, H. B.
Aldam, W. Baring, rt. hon. F. T.
Alford, Visct. Baring, T.
Anson, hon. Col. Barnard, E. G.
Antrobus, E. Barrington, Visct.
Archdall, Capt. M. Bateson, T.
Arkwright, G. Beckett, W.
Armstrong, Sir A. Bell, M.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Bell, J.
Bellew, R. M.
Attwood, J. Bennet, P.
Austen, Col. Bentinck, Lord G.
Bagot, hon. W. Bentinck, Lord H.
Bailey, J. jun. Berkeley, hon. Capt.
Baillie, Col. Bernal, R.
Baillie, H. J. Blackburne, J. I.
Baillie, W. Blakemore, R.
Baine, W. Borthwick, P.
Baldwin, B. Botfield, B.
Balfour, J. M. Bouverie, hon. E. P.
Bramston, T. W. Entwisle, W.
Broadley, H. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Broadwood, H. Evans, W.
Brooke, Lord Ewart, W.
Brown, W. Fielden, J.
Buck, L. W. Fellowes, E.
Buckley, E. Ferguson, Col.
Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Buller, C. Ferrand, W. B.
Buller, E. Filmer, Sir E.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Finch, G.
Bunbury, W. M. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Burroughes, H. N. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Floyer, J.
Callaghan, D. Forbes, W.
Cardwell, E. Forster, M.
Carew, W. H. P. Fox, S. L.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. French, F.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Fuller, A. E.
Cayley, E. S. Gaskell, J. M.
Chaplin, W. J. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Chapman, A. Gill, T.
Chapman, B. Gladstone, Capt.
Chelsea, Visct. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Gooch, E. S.
Christie, W. D. Gordon, Adm.
Christopher, R. A. Gore, M.
Chute, W. L. W. Gore, W. O.
Clayton, R. R. Gore, W. R. O.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Gore, hon. R.
Clifton, J. T. Goring, C.
Clive, Visct. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Clive, hon. R. H. Granby, Marq. of
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Granger, T. C.
Collett, W. R. Greene, T.
Compton, H. C. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Coote, Sir C. H. Grimsditch, T.
Copeland, Ald. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Guest, Sir J.
Courtenay, Lord Halford, Sir H.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Hallyburton, Lord J. F.
Craig, W. G. Halsey, T. P.
Cripps, W. Hamilton, W. J.
Currie, R. Hamilton, Lord C.
Dalmeny, Lord Hanmer, Sir J.
Dalrymple, Capt. Harcourt, G. G.
Dashwood, G. H. Harris, hon. Capt.
Davies, D. A. S. Hatton, Capt. V.
Deedes, W. Hawes, B.
Denison, W. J. Hayter, W. G.
Denison, J. E. Heathcoat, J.
Denison, E. B. Heathcote, Sir W.
Dick, Q. Heneage, G. H. W.
Dickinson, F. H. Heneage, E.
Divett, E. Henley, J. W.
Douglas, Sir H. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Douro, Marq. of Hervey, Lord A.
Drummond, H. H. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Duff, J. Hogg, Sir J. W.
Dugdale, W. S. Hollond, R.
Duke, Sir J. Holmes, hon. W. A.
Duncombe, hon. A. Hope, Sir J.
Duncombe, hon. O. Hope, A.
Dundas, Adm. Hope, G. W.
Dundas, Sir D. Hotham, Lord
Du Pre, C. G. Houldsworth, T.
East, Sir J. B. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Easthope, Sir J. Howard, hon. J. K.
Ebrington, Visct. Howard, hon. E. G. G.
Egerton, W. T. Howard, P. H.
Egerton, Sir P. Howard, hon. H.
Emlyn, Visct. Howard, Sir R.
Hudson, G. O'Connell, M. J.
Hurst, R. H. O'Conor Don
Hussey, T. Ogle, S. C. H.
Hutt, W. Ord, W.
Ingestre, Visct. Ossulston, Lord
Inglis, Sir R. H. Oswald, A.
Irton, S. Owen, Sir J.
James, W. Packe, C. W.
James, Sir W. C. Paget, Col.
Jermyn, Earl Pakington, Sir J.
Jervis, Sir J. Palmer, R.
Johnstone, Sir J. Palmerston, Visct.
Johnstone, H. Parker, J.
Jolliffe, Sir W. H. G. Patten, J. W.
Jones, Capt. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Kemble, H. Pennant, hon. Col.
Knight, F. W. Philipps, Sir R. P. B.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Philips, M.
Lambton, H. Pinney, W.
Langston, J. H. Plumptre, J. P.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Plumridge, Capt.
Law, hon. C. E. Polhill, F.
Lawson, A. Pollington, Visct.
Legh, G. C. Ponsonby, hn. C. F. A. C.
Le Marchant, Sir D. Prime, R.
Lemon, Sir C. Protheroe, E. D.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Pusey, P.
Lincoln, Earl of Reid, Sir J. R.
Lindsay, Col. Reid, Col.
Loch, J. Repton, G. W. J.
Lockhart, W. Ricardo, J. L.
Lopes, Sir R. Rice, E. R.
Lowther, hon. Col. Rich, H.
Lyall, G. Richards, R.
Lygon, hon. G. Rolleston, Col.
Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B. Romilly, J.
Mackenzie, T. Round, C. G.
Mackenzie, W. F. Round, J.
Mackinnon, W. A. Rumbold, C. E.
M'Neill, D. Russell, Lord J.
Mahon, Visct. Russell, Lord C. J. F.
Maitland, T. Russell, C.
Mangles, R. D. Rutherfurd, A.
Manners, Lord J. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Marjoribanks, S. Sanderson, R.
Marshall, W. Sandon, Visct.
Martin, C. W. Scott, hon. F.
Marton, G. Scrope, G. P.
Masterman, J. Seymer, H. K.
Matheson, J. Seymour, Lord
Maule, rt. hon. F. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Meynell, Capt. Sheridan, R. B.
Mildmay, H. St. J. Shirley, E. J.
Miles, P. W. S. Shirley, E. P.
Miles, W. Smith, A.
Milnes, R. M. Smith, J. A.
Milton, Visct. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Mitchell, T. A. Smyth, Sir H.
Moffatt, G. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Monahan, J. H. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Morgan, O. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Morpeth, Visct. Stanton, W. H.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Munday, E. M. Stewart, J.
Mure, Col. Stuart, Lord J.
Neeld, J. Stuart, H.
Neville, R. Stuart, J.
Newdegate, C. N. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Newry, Visct. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Talbot, C. R. M.
Norreys, Lord Tancred, H. W.
O'Brien, A. S. Thesiger, Sir F.
Thompson, Ald. Walpole, S. H.
Tollemache, J. Warburton, H.
Tower, C. Ward, H. G.
Towneley, J. Watson, W. H.
Traill, G. Wellesley, Lord C.
Trelawny, J. S. Williams, W.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Wilshere, W.
Trotter, J. Wodehouse, E.
Turner, E. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Vane, Lord H. Wood, Col. T.
Verner, Sir W. Worcester, Marq. of
Villiers, Visct. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Vivian, J. H. Wrightson, W. B.
Vivian, J. E. Wyse, T.
Vyse, H. Young, J.
Waddington, H. S. TELLERS.
Walker, R. Tufnell, H.
Wall, C. B. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Hindley, C.
Berkeley, hon. C. Hodgson, R.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Hume, J.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Humphery, Ald.
Bowring, Dr. Lawless, hon. C.
Bright, J. Macnamara,, Major
Brocklehurst, J. M'Carthy, A.
Brotherton, J. Marsland, H.
Browne, R. D. Morris, D.
Clay, Sir W. Muntz, G. F.
Collett, J. Napier, Sir C.
Collins, W. Osborne, R.
Conyngham, Lord A. Pattison, J.
Crawford, W. S. Pechell, Capt.
Dennistoun, J. Philips, G. R.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Roebuck, J. A.
Duncan, G. Scott, R.
Dundas, F. Strickland, Sir G.
Ellis, W. Thornely, T.
Escott, B. Wakley, T.
Evans, Sir De L. Wawn, J. T.
Gisborne, T. Yorke, H. R.
Hall, Sir B. TELLERS.
Hay, Sir A. L. Duncombe, T.
Hinde, J. H. Duncan, Visct.

House adjourned at One o'clock.