HC Deb 21 August 1848 vol 101 cc316-65

On the question that the Speaker leave the chair for the House to go into a Committee of Supply,


said, it was after much consideration, and not without some hesitation, he had arrived at the conclusion that it was his duty to bring the important subject of the present national system of education in Ireland before the House, even at the present period of the Session. In doing so, he was anxious to confine himself as much as possible to a statement of the position in which the clergy and laity of the Established Church were placed by the rules and nature and principles of the system; and the Motion with which he would conclude his statement was— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to direct that such a modification of the system of National Education in Ireland be made as may remove the conscientious objections which a very large proportion of the Clergy and Laity of the Established Church entertain to that system as at present carried into operation; or, otherwise, that means may be taken to enable those of the Clergy and Laity of the Established Church who entertain such conscientious objections to extend the blessings of Scriptural Education in Ireland. There never was a period when the value of education was more generally felt and acknowledged, or when the principles on which any general and national system ought to be founded were better considered and admitted than they were in England at present; and, in fact, the sum and substance of his complaint, and that of the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland was this, that the toleration which in England is extended to every denomination of Dissenters, with regard to schools for the education of the poor, and the principles which in this country are now recognised as the only sound and just principles of education, are not extended to the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland. Here he would take the liberty to refer to the sentiments of the Right Rev. Dr. Briggs, one of the vicars apostolic in this country. They were expressed by him at a meeting of Roman Catholic clergymen and laity of the Yorkshire district for the promotion of the education of the poorer classes, held on the 16th of March last. Dr. Briggs states— The word education is derived from the Latin word educere, that is, to bring forth, or lead out, or develop the faculties of man. It is a very different thing from what is commonly called in- struction. Instruction is designed to benefit the faculties of the body and of the mind, whereas education is designed to promote chiefly the spiritual welfare of man. He proceeds to say— If we confine education to mere reading and writing, and casting accounts, we leave out the principal object for which education is designed—namely, for man's spiritual powers and benefit. In this country great attention has been paid to instruction or the first part of education, but little attention seems to have been paid to the great and principal object of education, namely, spiritual improvement. Now, it is the intention of this meeting, and of the Catholic clergy and laity, who have united themselves in this good cause, that we should lay the basis of education—a good and religious education. We hold that instruction and knowledge are not sufficient unless based on religion. Instruction may enable a man to rise in the world, and aggrandise himself; but a good and religious education teaches him a much higher aim. The object of that meeting was to obtain for themselves (Roman Catholics) a portion of the funds granted by the public for educational purposes, in order to enable them to carry out a system of education in the sense of the word in which Dr. Briggs had used it; and they have succeeded. He supposed it would be conceded by all, except a school of philosophers, with whom he would not argue, that religion ought to be made the basis of education; and he felt bound to say he believed it to be a great mistake to imagine that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were favourable to mere secular education. Well, then, assuming it to be agreed upon that religion is to be made the basis of education, it is quite obvious, that in establishing any general or national system of education, the difference, the essential and fundamental difference, between the principles of the Church of Rome and all Protestant Churches, with regard to the supremacy and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, which à priori might be expected to arise, does actually arise; and accordingly it is found that while all Protestants, both in England and Ireland, in conformity with the spirit and principles of Protestantism in all its modifications, require, as an indispensable condition, that Scriptural instruction should form the basis of their religious education, the clergy of the Church of Rome, in conformity with the principles of their Church, adopt and require a different standard. In England, until very recently, the national, or rather the State system, was placed on the Protestant basis, but so enlarged as to comprehend every species of Protestant Dissenter—it comprised all who acknowledged the Scriptural basis of education. Consistently with the maintenance of this, the utmost possible toleration is admitted—no conditions are imposed upon the managers, but that the use of the entire Bible, in the authorised version, shall be required in schools aided by public grants; and that a report, in order to secure religious instruction, shall be made concerning the religious state of each school, unless in cases in which the managers object, on religious grounds, to make such report; and in that case, such deference is there felt to the conscientious scruples of all, that you do not require such report; that is, under the English system, you do not confine Churchmen and Dissenters in the same school; you permit or encourage each to be educated according to his own conscientious views; there is no compulsion, except as regards the use of the Scriptures. Recently the principle of toleration has been carried still further, and by the Minute of Council of December 18, 1847, you grant and to Roman Catholic schools, without requiring any report, except respecting secular instruction; therefore, even in England, in deference to the Roman Catholic principle, you do not insist upon Scriptural instruction in Roman Catholic schools. The utmost possible toleration to the conscientious opinions or scruples of all parties is, therefore, the characteristic of the English system. Those who approve of the Church system can establish Church of England schools—Protestant Dissenters can establish Scriptural schools—and even Roman Catholics can now establish schools in which the Roman Catholic religion is made the basis of education. Now, with regard to the case of the clergy and laity in Ireland who object to the national system of education, it might, perhaps, be sufficient for him to state, that conscientious objections being entertained, and the principle of toleration being established in England, it is reasonable and right that means should be taken for satisfying those conscientious scruples. The reasonableness or unreasonableness of those scruples cannot be admitted as a good or valid argument to the question; for no Protestant can, of course, admit that the conscientious objections of Roman Catholics to the use of the Holy Scriptures were reasonable; and yet those objections were conceded to in Ireland in the year 1833, and in this country in the Minutes of Council of last December. It would seem hard that while in Ireland and in England the rules of national education, and the terms and conditions on which public and is given to schools, are modified and altered, so as to accommodate themselves to the opinion or the prejudices of every denomination of Dissenters—the opinions—even if they were liable to be called prejudices—of the Established Church in Ireland, were alone to be disregarded. The House will recollect that previous to the year 1831, a strictly Scriptural system had been in operation for many years in Ireland, sanctioned by Government, supported by large grants of public money, and having the countenance and support of the great body of the clergy of the Established Church. This system, under which it was an indispensable condition that the Holy Scriptures should be read by all children who had obtained suitable proficiency in reading, excluding all human compositions of a controversial character, but affording proper opportunities for peculiar religious instruction out of school hours, was a united Scriptural system. At that period there were 1,634 schools, and 132,000 children in connexion with the Kildare-place Society; and, including other Scriptural schools, connected with other societies, there were 374,000 children, of whom at least one-half were Roman Catholics, receiving Scriptural instruction in Ireland. In October, 1831, the Scriptural character of the Kildare-place system, as being at variance with the principles of the Roman Catholic Church, was declared to be a vital defect in that system; and in conformity with the recommendation of the Select Committee of 1828—it was proposed to establish a system which would afford, if possible, a combined literary and separate religious education, abrogating, of course, that portion of the rules of the Kildare-place Society, by which the reading of the Holy Scriptures was made a part of the system—requiring that the schools under the new system should be kept open for a certain number of days and hours for moral and literary instruction only, and that the remainder of the week should be set apart for giving separately such religious education to the children as might be approved of by the clergy of their respective persuasions; and claiming, moreover, entire control over all the books to be used in the school, whether in the combined moral and literary, or separate religious instruction, including the Holy Scriptures. Now, considering that the great principle of Protestantism is the supremacy and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, and the unlimited, unrestricted, unqualified right and duty of using them, as contradistinguished from that qualified and restricted use which is the principle of the Roman Catholic Church; and considering also that the Kildare-place Society required the Holy Scriptures to be read in their schools without note or comment, he (Mr. Hamilton) was not surprised that the Roman Catholic clergy should have viewed that system with suspicion and dislike; but when a new system was established, abrogating expressly that Protestant principle which was involved in the plan of the Kildare-place Society, repudiating it as a vital defect, and establishing in lieu of it the Roman Catholic principle of the restricted and qualified use of the Holy Scriptures, he (Mr. Hamilton) did not see how it was possible that it could have been expected that Protestants generally, and especially the Protestant clergy, could support it; and, accordingly, the great body of the Protestants of Ireland, nearly all the clergy, and seventeen of the bishops, did object to the system, and precisely on the gronds that it negatived the great principle of all Protestant Churches with regard to the free use of the Holy Scriptures, and affirmed the opposite principle with regard to the restricted and qualified use of them; and that in connecting themselves with the National Board, the clergy of the Established Church would be subscribing to the principle of the Roman Catholic Church, which it was their duty to resist, and negativing the opposite principle of their own Church, which they were bound by solemn obligations to maintain. In order to remove or diminish the objections which had been raised against the system, some modifications in it had been made; but in some respects those modifications had rather increased than diminished those objections. The patrons of schools, instead of the clergy, now possess the right of appointing such religious instruction as they may think proper; and religious instruction may be given at any time, even during the ordinary school hours, provided that each school shall be open to children of all denominations, and that those children only shall be compelled to be present whose parents or guardians allow them. These modifications enabled many patrons, especially among the Presbyterians, to establish schools in which the Scriptures are read; but they have not removed the conscientious objections which the great majority of the Protestants of the Established Church entertain to the anti-Protestant principle which is involved in the system. The National Schools are required to be open to all denominations. A Protestant layman or clergyman acting as the patron of a school under the rules of 1843, and appointing Scriptural instruction as a part of the system during the fixed school hours each day—although holding the great Protestant principle that it is the duty, and the privilege, and the inalienable right of every human being, to whom God has been pleased to make known the revelation of His will, to form his own character, and the characters of all within his sphere and influence, and to frame his life, and derive his motives, and to found his morality and conduct, by reference to God's Holy Word, as the only rule and standard, and that without restriction or qualification, at all times, and under all circumstances, is actually compelled, when the time for religious instruction in the Holy Scripture arrives, to do homage to the Roman Catholic principle, and to turn out of his school the child of a Roman Catholic parent, who, in obedience to the dictate of his priest, may prohibit that child from studying God's Word, although the inclination, and desire, and judgment, and intellect of that child may all combine in enabling him to appreciate justly the inestimable value of Scriptural education. But the system is now, in some respects, even more objectionable than it was according to the plan originally proposed. Lord Stanley proposed that the school room should be neutral ground for moral and literary instruction; but an efficient provision was made as a part of the system for the religious education of the children during a portion of the week. By the modifications of the Commissioners, while they admit, on the one band, that during the fixed school hours, and under certain circumstances in the school room, peculiar religious instruction may be made part of the system, they stipulate, on the other, for nothing more than mere secular instruction in the schools; so that at this moment it may happen that a child may pass through a national school—be well instructed in mere secular knowledge, and yet be left wholly ignorant of the most elementary principles of religion; while in another, the children during school hours, and in the school room, may be instructed in the peculiar tenets of the Roman Catholic or any other religion—the only condition being, that when the revealed will of God, which every member of the Church of England believes to contain all things necessary to salvation—the standard of Christian faith—the foundation of Christian hope, and the only true source of Christian charity and love—is made the subject of instruction, those children, whose parents or guardians, either from ignorance, or infidelity, or bigotry, think proper to regard the Bible as a proscribed book, shall absent themselves from that instruction. He would ask the House whether or no the conscientious objections of the Protestants of Ireland were unreasonable? and could it he expected that the clergy of the Established Church would be parties to a system which repudiated a principle they were bound to uphold, and sanctioned a principle they condemned? The working of the system had proved what might be expected—instead of its being a really united system, it was an essentially separate one, and never could be otherwise. Many Roman Catholics, no doubt, and many Protestants, had availed themselves of the modifications of the Board, and hod established schools, some in connexion with places of worship, in which their own peculiar tenets are taught; while few, very few schools indeed, could be found in which a really united system existed. There might be a few exceptions, but he (Mr. Hamilton) would maintain it was vain to expect that a system so constituted could possibly unite children of different persuasions. He firmly believed both Protestants and Roman Catholics were opposed to a system to which, if fully carried out, a sacrifice of principle was made the price of union. The case of the children of the poor was different from that of the youth of other classes in society. It was necessary to provide an efficient system of religious education in schools for the children of the poor; they must go to school at an early age, or they cannot go at all; in most cases, they go to school just at the ago when it was most important that the principles of religion should be instilled into their minds. Was it to be supposed that such an abandonment of religious instruction with regard either to Protestants or Roman Catholics, as would be necessary to secure a really united system of education, according to the principles of the Board, would be made by either? Religion, he thought, was regarded as a matter of too great moment, both by Protestants and Roman Catholics, to be dealt with in that way. If a united system is practicable, it must be upon some religious ground, or it cannot be at all. The Holy Scriptures be (Mr. Hamilton) believed, did afford that common ground; but if that was denied, he thought a united system on other grounds impossible. That the national system of education is not, in point of fact, a united system, might be proved by many strong instances. The Archdeacon of Meath, two years ago, had taken much pains to make inquiry respecting the state of education in that diocese, and with a manifest desire to promote an accommodation with the National Board. He found, then, that of ninety-six schools, about eight might be looked upon as effecting, in some degree, the object of united education, having more than three Protestant children attending in each with Roman Catholics: of these ninety-six schools, fifty-seven were under the patronage of Roman Catholic priests—twenty-five being in connexion with Roman Catholic chapels, and four being conducted by nuns. He really believed the same state of things would be found in reference to the National Schools throughout the whole of Ireland. If any hon. Member would refer to the appendix to the last report of the Commissioners of National Education, he would find a list of the vested and non-vested schools, with the names of the patrons. He (Mr. Hamilton) had caused that list to be compared with the list of the clergy of the different denominations in Ireland. The House will recollect that the patrons of schools have the right of appointing such religious instruction as they shall think proper, either during the fixed school hours or otherwise; this right is given them by the third rule. As the result of this comparison, he (Mr. Hamilton) was enabled to state to the House that at the present time there were no fewer than 2,505 schools of which the patrons are Roman Catholic clergymen. He was far from adverting to this as a matter of complaint, or as a matter of blame either as regards the National Board or the gentlemen to whom he alluded; on the contrary, he had stated at the outset, and he had quoted the authority of Dr. Briggs for saying so, that the Roman Catholics attached just as much importance as Protestants did to a religious basis for education; and he had no doubt that in the schools under the management of the Roman Catholic clergy, every attention is paid and great pains taken to inculcate the tenets of the Roman Catholic religion on the children attending them. In corroboration of this opinion; and, indeed, as the best commentary upon the working of the national system, he would ask permission to read a short extract from the Tablet newspaper. The writer states— The apparent or outward success of the National Board is referred to as a precedent for the mixed education of the provincial colleges. It is difficult to imagine how any one who is tolerably acquainted with the facts, and is even slightly imbued with the elements of reasoning, can use such an argument as this. It was only the other day that one of the most intelligent supporters of the Board said to us, 'I approve of the national system, because, in fact, it gives us Catholic schools;' this is the real truth. In every parish in Ireland, any number of individuals, and the priest among the rest, can establish a school, appoint their own masters and teachers, call it a school, say the Ave Maria whenever the clock strikes, and get and from the National Board. We have seen this state of things in the south of Ireland with our own eyes—we have seen it in Dublin under the nose of the Government—and we have witnessed with much edification the smile of serene content which often accompanies the utterance of these words, 'Oh, we pay no attention to the rules of the Board.' But then it may be said if the rules of the Board admit of the Roman Catholic clergy establishing schools, in which their own peculiar tenents are taught, why cannot the Protestant clergy do the same? Of course that argument would abandon the principle of united education altogether, in which case it could scarely be denied that it would be better to have a confessedly separate system than one which, being really separate, professed to be united; but the case of the clergy of the Established Church and of the Roman Catholic Church was different. There was no principle which stood between the Roman Catholic clergy and their acquiescence in the rules of the National Board. It was not one of their principles that the right to use and read the Scriptures was inalienable on the part of any human being, and that to seek to abridge or to countenance the abridgment of that right was sinful. Though they required a religious, they did not require a scriptural basis; and there was nothing to offend their conscience in sending away a Protestant child, when about to teach the Roman Catholic children their own peculiar tenets. But the position of the Protestant clergyman is different. He holds that the education of all children should be based altogether, on the Scriptural principle—that it should not be supplementary or ancillary to moral and literary instruction— but that it should he the predominant feature, and pervade the whole system of education. Holding as he does the Protestant principle of the supremacy and sufficiency of the Holy Scripture, he holds that it is the right of every human being to make it his study at all times and in all circumstances; and that it is his duty, as a Christian minister, at all times to uphold and enforce that right. He, therefore, cannot, without violating his principles, be a party directly or indirectly to excluding any child from Scriptural instruction. This is their objection to the system—that it compromises the Protestant principle, and that in connecting themselves with it, they would be themselves compromising that principle in a country, and under circumstances, in which it is peculiarly their duty to withhold it. He (Mr. Hamilton) would not take up the time of the House by adverting in detail to the various efforts that had been made to procure such a modification of the system as would remove the conscientious objections of the bishops and clergy and laity of the Established Church. In the year 1832, an address was issued, signed by seventeen of the twenty Irish bishops, setting forth their conscientious objections to the system as then proposed. In 1845, a similar address was published, signed by the majority of the Irish prelates, in which they state that the rule by which the Holy Scriptures are excluded from the schools during the hours of general instruction, is so fundamentally objectionable, that while this continues to be the principle of the system, they cannot conscientiously connect their schools with it, even though all the other grounds of opposition were taken away. This address was responded to by 1,700 of the clergy, 3,000 of the nobility and gentry of the country, including 33 Peers, and 60,000 of the Protestants. He (Mr. Hamilton) had presented a petition a few days ago to the House, signed by nearly 1,600 of the clergy; and numerous petitions had been presented from all parts of Ireland, praying that the conscientious objections of the Protestants of Ireland might be removed, either by a modification of the national system, so as to enable the advocates of Scriptural education to establish schools on a Scriptural basis, or else to make a separate grant in favour of the Church Education Society. He (Mr. Hamilton) would not advert to the correspondence between the Lord Primate of Ireland and the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, further than to say, that the arguments and considerations which he (Mr. Hamilton) had endeavoured to bring before the House, had been submitted to the consideration of Government. The noble Lord had stated, in reply to the Archbishop of Armagh, that the revenue of the Established Church in Ireland was sufficient, not only for the support of the beneficed clergy, but also for the encouragement and maintenance of a Scriptural system of education. He (Mr. Hamilton) was unwilling to trespass much longer upon the House; but he could not help just remarking that the Archbishop had pointed out that the income of the parochial clergy in Ireland, even if duly received, would not afford to each an average of 200l. a year; while, as he (Mr. Hamilton) might add, each clergyman would have a congregation of more than 600 persons of the Established Church, independently of the Presbyterians and other Dissenters, who in Ireland attended the Established Church. But there was one part of the subject, or at least one consideration connected with the subject, to which it was his duty to advert, and he did so with much pain. He was constrained to say that not only was no encouragement given to the cause of Scriptural education in Ireland—not only were the Protestants and clergy of the Established Church the only class of Her Majesty's subjects to whose conscientious opinions, with regard to education, no consideration was paid—not only were they the only class to whom toleration in respect of those scruples was not extended, but the clergy of the Established Church who entertained those conscientious objections, were excluded from all Government favour and patronage. This was a serious charge, and one that he would be sorry to make lightly, especially after an answer he had recollected hearing from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in reply to a question from Lord John Manners in the last Parliament. But he (Mr. Hamilton) had seen letters written by the Private Secretary of the Lord Lieutenant to clergymen, in which their opinions were asked on the subject of the national system—and an intimation given that preferment would be conferred only upon those who supported that system. The correspondence between Mr. Villiers Stuart and the Private Secretary, in reference to Mr. Thacker, had been before the public. On that occasion the Private Secretary expressed himself as follows:— His Excellency most sincerely regrets that he is unable to comply with your desire to have Mr. Thacker appointed to the Union of White-church; but that gentleman having so unequivocally and conscientiously declared his opposition to the system of national education, it would be a violation of the principle by which the Lord Lieutenant has been guided, if he were to relax. I add, by desire of the Lord Lieutenant, his request that it may be conveyed to Mr. Thacker that he entertains no objection to him individually, as from all he has heard, and from his conscientious avowal of his opinions, he considers that gentleman to be entitled to the highest respect. Mr. Villiers Stuart adds, from himself—"I cannot express the deep disappointment the whole parish feels at the loss of such a pastor." He (Mr. Hamilton) had a high respect for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; but he would appeal to the noble Lord, he would appeal to the House, and to the justice of the English public, is this tolerable? In England you extend toleration to all classes of Dissenters in matters of education. You depart even from a scriptural basis and principle in favour of Roman Catholics. In Ireland, if a clergyman upholds the principle which every clergyman from one end of England to the other maintains, however highly recommended, however efficient, however pious, however beloved by his parishioners, he is proscribed by the Government because of his conscientious opinions, and the Protestants deprived of the services of such a pastor. Is this doing justice to the Church in Ireland? You talk of Church patronage in Ireland, in times gone by, having been made subservient to political purposes; and so it was, and you are reaping the fruits of that system now. But what else is this but a continuation of the same system? Are you not now prostituting the patronage of the Church in Ireland for the promotion of a political object? What is the duty of Government with regard to Church patronage? Are they not trustees of such patronage for the benefit of the community in the most important of all interests? Is it not, then, their duty, their manifest duty, to use that patronage, to perform that trust, with the single view of promoting the interests of religion? And will any one say that you promote the interests of religion by passing over, and excluding from all share of patronage, the ablest, the most pious, and the most useful clergymen of Ireland, because they are conscientiously opposed to a system of national education, the principles of which you have yourselves condemned as regards England, and which you would not dare to propose in this country? What the Protestant clergy and laity require is simply this—that the rules of the national system be so modified as that schools may be established on such principles as they can conscientiously approve; and they are the principles which you adopt yourselves in reference to schools in this country. Permit a Protestant clergyman or layman to make it the rule of his school that all children attending it should be instructed in the Holy Scriptures. Let those who choose attend it; or else, if you are determined to maintain the national system on its present basis, without any modification or alteration, either make a separate grant, or place the Church Education Society in connexion with the Privy Council in this country. In deference to the conscientious opinions of the Protestants, engraft it into the English branch of the system. Give the principle of scriptural instruction a fair trial in Ireland. You have tried many experiments in that country. Generally, they have been experiments made in concession, not to truth, but to popular influence. The national system of education has now been in operation for fifteen years. I am unable to discern the fruits of that system in the improved condition of the people. Every politician has had his plan for the tranquillisation of Ireland. You have had fixity of tenure, tenant-right—your extension of franchise—you have had the abolition of the Established Church—the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church—the repeal of the Union—and latterly, the establishment of a separate republic. I may be permitted to tell you mine. Do not be afraid to declare to the people of Ireland what you have declared eloquently to the people of England—do not be afraid to tell them that the Word of God is the only standard of right or wrong, and that allegiance, and subordination, and social order, and industry, and contentment, and the performance of their duties, as men and citizens, depend upon higher considerations, and should be influenced by better motives, than the mere human considerations of advantage or expediency, or sentiment or nationality. At all events, do not continue to say that these high considerations are the only ones that shall not be placed before them any system of education which you sanction. You may say they will not hear you; but experience is against you. Scriptural education was advancing in Ireland under the Kildare-place Society. It is advancing under the Church Education Society. But at least if a Church is to be maintained in Ireland, do not prevent the ministers of that Church from performing that part of their sacred functions; and, above all things, do not tamper with those who respect the truth—far better it would be to confiscate the temporalities of the Church, than to destroy its efficiency by corrupting its ministers. Do not suppose that we Protestants value the Church, except as the means of upholding the great principles of truth, and as the instrument of disseminating them. In order to discharge those functions, the independence of the clergy must be maintained—you must not have recourse to the expedient of bringing Government patronage in the Church in and of your political objects. Nearly 1,600 out of 2,000 clergymen of the Established Church have declared their conscientious objections to your national system; they have done so with a full knowledge of the system you have been pursuing as regards your Church patronage; and surrounded by difficulties, of which people in England have no adequate notion, they have preferred what they consider the cause of truth and the performance of their duty to their temporal interests. Are these men deserving of respect or of odium? They have been unsparing of their lives, and some of the best clergymen in Ireland have fallen victims during the late famine and pestilence. If it should be the will of God to visit us with still greater calamities, they will be found at the post of danger again. But they are the trustees of great principles, which they will never abandon. He implored the noble Lord to consider these things. He implored him to put an end to this painful question; and when he speaks of an equality of rights, and franchises, and privileges, between England and Ireland, let him remember that the clergy of Ireland are not treated with that toleration which every Dissenter in England enjoys in respect of education, and that by the system the Government has been adopting, and the manner in which they have been carrying it out, they are incurring the heavy responsibility of throwing the weight of Government influence against the Scriptural principle. The hon. Member concluded by moving an address.


considered that the address which his hon. Friend opposite had just made, was couched in terms which would not offend the feelings of any person. But no matter how his hon. Friend might have endeavoured to recommend his objects to the House, the real subject under discussion was this: whether or not the national system of education now established in Ireland for a period of fifteen years—he meant the mixed system of education—should be departed from, and such a system substituted for it as was recommended by his hon. Friend. Now, considering the state of Ireland—considering the progress that had been made in the establishment of schools—considering the support given to the present system by a large portion of the population—considering, as he firmly believed, that the prejudices which existed against that system even on the part of Protestants and Protestant clergymen were fast disappearing—he hoped the House would pause before it assented to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, and would uphold the system as now established. It was said by his hon. Friend, that the principles of the Protestant clergy of Ireland forbid them from taking advantage of the present system. On hearing that statement it might be considered by some hon. Gentlemen that there were none of the Protestant clergy who favoured that system; but let them look to the number of clergymen who had taken advantage of the opportunities which it presented. Let them look also to the number of clergymen who were ready to take advantage of it. His hon. Friend, therefore, should not say that on strictly high Protestant principles it was impossible that the Protestants of Ireland could take advantage of it. He admitted that a large body of the Protestant clergy of Ireland were opposed to it, and he thought a greater mistake had never been made by the Protestant clergy of Ireland than by the opposition they originally gave to the establishment of the schools. He also believed that a vast number of them were coming to the same conclusion. He was sure it was unnecessary for him to mention the names of the several distinguished persons who had changed their opinions on the subject; but he might refer to the case of one very eminent person in the north of Ireland, and also to the case of Mr. Woodward, who admitted the mistake he had formerly made when opposed to the system. It was true it was not a system founded upon Scripture in the way the hon. Gentleman understood it. What his hon. Friend understood by it was, that the Bible should be made the school book, and that every child who attended the school should be obliged to make use of that Bible as his school book. But it was not the system of the National Schools to coerce any person's conscience; they did not compel any child to be present at religious instruction, but they permitted every child to be present, at the discretion of his parents, to receive religious education at any time that might be allotted for it. Was that, he asked, a system open to objection, or one to which any conscientious man could object? He believed that he was not wrong in saying that the case of Mr. Woodward was not a solitary case. He knew Protestant clergymen in Ireland who formerly were much opposed to the national system, but who, on further investigation, had changed their minds and are now the advocates of it. In the last report there was a paragraph to the same effect. It was stated that the prejudices which had existed in regard to the national system on the part of the Protestant clergy were fast vanishing, and the co-operation of the Protestant clergy might more and more be looked for, and would be the means of distributing more universally the blessings of education. That was the present state of the system, and what they had now to ask themselves was this—were they to abandon the national and mixed system as it now exists, in order to establish an exclusive system? For conceal the fact as they may, if they once get rid of this national system, and at the suggestion of any body of men, be their objections reasonable or unreasonable, abandon the mixed system of education, they would have to establish separate schools, not only for the Protestant clergy, but also for the Presbyterian and Catholic clergy, and the whole country would be covered with different seminaries supported by the Government, and amongst the children attending the respective schools those religious distinctions would be perpetuated which so often were still unfortunately kept up. He begged to call the attention of the House to an extract bearing on the subject, which he had met with some time ago. In the year 1795, when the debate was going on in the Irish Parliament on the question of the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth, there were several provisions introduced which made it impossible for any person not a Roman Catholic to receive his education there. At that time a petition was presented by Mr. Grattan from the great body of the Roman Catholics in Ireland against the provision which declared that no Protestant should receive his education in the college. The Roman Catholics then said that the exclusion of Protestants would prevent the harmony and friendly intercourse through life which might, by an early connexion between men of different persuasions, be encouraged. No person would be more happy than he should be to see the Protestant clergy coming forward to take advantage of this system, and to exercise that control over it which was proper they should have. He believed the objections to the system were unreasonable—(he did not mean to say they were not conscientiously entertained)—and he believed, also, that a great body of the clergy were willing to consider this system so as to take advantage of it. He did not think they should do away with the present National Board, which had conferred great advantages on the country. He believed it was diffusing widely the blessings of education, and would continue to do so more and more every day. He saw by the last report, that not only literary but industrial education was spreading vastly throughout the country, and it was proposed that agricultural schools should be established to extend the principles of agriculture.


said, if anything in the shape of united education at all existed, it would be found in the schools under the patronage of the Established Church. For his own part he had never offered any objection to their national system so far as it went. Let them establish a system similar to that adopted in England, and so modify their rules as to enable clergymen of the Established Church to take advantage of the grant. If they declined to do that, then they ought to give them a separate grant for themselves.


said, if the prejudices of the Protestants, or of the Protestant clergymen of Ireland, prevented them from taking any part of the grant under present circumstances, they were entitled to have some portion of the grant allotted to them. As a proof of the efforts made by the Protestants themselves, there were 1,899 Church education schools at present established and maintained by the voluntary system, and they were entitled in justice to ask the Government for some assistance. He would maintain, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that as regards the joint system of education, it is to be found in the Protestant schools. Let them not blame Protestant clergymen who could not conscientiously approve of the system, and who were deprived of all chance of patronage and all hopes of promotion in their profession except they abandoned their principles.


did not entertain a doubt that some of the clergy of the Established Church had become converts to the national system; and it was not to be wondered at when they were told by a Lord Lieutenant that if they were not friendly to it he could not give his consent to their promotion. He would mention one case in illustration of the course that bad been adopted on this subject by the Lush Government. Some time since, when the Lord Lieutenant of the day arrived in Ireland, an application was made to him to appoint, as one of his chaplains, a clergy-man of the highest character. The answer was, that the Lord Lieutenant did not intend to appoint any new chaplains, but would confine himself to the list handed over to him by his predecessor. A short time afterwards, a certain reverend gentleman announced himself in the public papers as the advocate of the National Board of Education, and the then Lord Lieutenant, forgetting his former declaration, immediately appointed him one of his chaplains. The best system of education ever introduced into Ireland was that of the Kildare-place Society, which was abolished solely because it was objected to by the Roman Catholic priests.


said, that though a large body of the Established clergy were opposed to this national system, he did not believe that their opposition was shared in or countenanced by the great body of the Protestant laity. If that were the case, how did it happen that the national schools were much more numerous in the province of Ulster than in the other three provinces? The proportions were as follows:—Schools in Munster, 940; in Leinster, 976; in Connaught, 553; in Ulster, 1,659. He thought that the system of reading the Scriptures at particular hours had tended to promote Scriptural instruction even among Roman Catholics, by inducing parents of that religion to allow their children to remain, which they often did, in fact, to hear the Scriptures read. He was sorry to have hoard that the Government had made adherence to the national system a condition of advancement in the Church. There ought to be nothing like compulsion on either side of the question.


said, as the Motion stood, it was opposed to the religious scruples of Roman Catholic parents, and if carried, it would upset the whole system of mixed education. The hon. Member for the University of Dublin had called for a modification of the system; but it appeared that what he proposed was the abolition of the present Board of Education, and the substitution of a system of separate grants for that now in force. He had not denied that Protestant children were already supplied with as much Scriptural education as the greatest stickler for such education could demand; and, in truth, as in every national school several hours were sot apart for Scriptural reading, if Protestant youths did not receive instruction in the Bible, it must be the fault of the Protestant clergy. The effect of passing the Motion would be, to revive the embers of religious strife, which were now dying out. Something had been said about the excellence of the Kildare-place Society system of education. He happened to know that the most extraordinary means had been used to induce parents to send their children to what were called the Kildare-place Schools. Parents had received as a consideration 5l. down, 5s. a week, and a leg of mutton every Friday. If there were one thing which had done more than another to improve the state of Ireland, it was the mixed system of education introduced by Lord Stanley, founded as it was on the great principle of Protestantism—the right of private judgment. In connexion with that point, he would ask the hon. Member for the University of Dublin whether it was true that he was a subscriber to, and a director of, an hospital in Dublin, the managers of which refused to admit a Roman Catholic, even if brought there in extremis, unless he would consent to hear the Scriptures read? On the subject of the national system of education, most extraordinary statements had been made at different periods. There were certain dignitaries of the Church who, to use the language of Mr. Burke, never manifested any particular zeal for religion, except when they desired to wound the feelings of their opponents. The Bishop of Cashel, for example, had stated at the Rotunda in Liverpool—and he had repeated the statement at the Hanover-square Booms in April last—that at the last Special Commission for Limerick, six men were convicted who had been educated in the national schools. He had also stated that at the Special Commission at Clonmel, eleven were convicted who were young, the greater proportion of whom, he said, were probably taught in the national schools; and, singularly enough, he added, that eighteen were convicted, eleven of whom were educated under the national system. Considering the statement with respect to Clonmel very extraordinary, he (Mr. B. Osborne) had been at the trouble of making some inquiries in the neighbourhood; and he would now state the result. It appeared that in the gaol of Clonmel, no account was kept of the schools in which the prisoners had been educated; and from the inquiries which he made, he had found that, so far from its being true that eleven of the prisoners convicted had been educated in the national schools, only one of them had ever been in a school, and that one only for about ten days. The exemplary Bishop who had made that statement had the presentation to thirty-four very large livings in his diocese, while the Crown had the patronage of only three, one of the number being a mere curacy. Such being the case, the Bishop had not promoted a single clergyman who was friendly to the national system, though there were many exemplary men in his diocese; yet he did not scruple to complain that the Crown did not present the opponents of that system to the livings in its gift. The Bishop had, indeed, appointed Mr. Dalton, the secretary of the Protestant Association of Exeter Hall, who had never received a collegiate education, to a living which was founded for the encouragement of such education. That Prelate, however, did not stand alone. In the diocese of Fearns, where there were forty-four livings in the presentation of the Bishop, not a single friend to the national system of education had been collated to a living. He called upon the House not to sanction a course of proceeding which originated with a miserable faction.


* I concur in the encomium passed on my hon. Colleague by the hon. and gallant Member (Mr. Osborne), and I am quite sure that whatever cause he will take upon himself to advocate, he will not attempt to carry it by insinuating insult against any gentleman in his presence, or calumniating the absent *From a published Report. who cannot reply. But I shall best discharge my duty to myself and to this House by entering upon the present subject in a calm, temperate manner, and thus to imitate that course which has been taken by my hon. Colleague. This, in my opinion, will be a more judicious course than by further allusion to those offensive expressions which have been so unnecessarily introduced into this debate; and I hope I shall be pardoned if I do not choose to stoop to retort those imputations which I can most satisfactorily refute. I shall, therefore, at once go to the real question, and which is not what position the Bishop of Waterford may occupy in the opinion of the hon. Member (Mr. Osborne), nor what he may do in the exercise of his duty as a bishop; but the question is this, whether a body of men comprising so large a portion of the bishops and clergy of the Established Church of Ireland, and so many thousands of the laity of that country—a body of men of the highest character for piety and learning, but a body of men who are now called a "faction"—whether they and their humbler Protestant brethren shall be excluded from a share in those privileges which are granted to all other classes and denominations? They are, to be sure, called a "faction;" but that is a designation which I am sure no sensible man in this House will sanction, and which especially no Member of Her Majesty's Government will, at this time, publicly countenance. To call those men who are actuated by conscientious scruples in favour of the great principle of Protestantism a "faction," was a most unjust charge on the part of that hon. Member; but it was well for them that their conscientious objections were not to be measured by that hon. Gentleman's judgment—their consciences were not in his keeping. As they entertain these objections to the system of national education in Ireland, and as I am now prepared to show that such objections are not only entertained by the majority of the Protestant clergy, but by a large body of the Protestant laity, their conscientious opinions should be respected and fairly considered; all they required was to have a calm and candid consideration of their claims, and I do not apprehend impatience. I have always been heard with great kindness and attention by this House—it has manifested towards me great indulgence, and I trust that the House will now give me their attention while I shall bring under its consideration the subject of the Church Education Society. I hope hon. Members will give me an impartial hearing, and give the subject subsequent reflection; as whatever the result which, in the end, shall be hereafter arrived at, it must be satisfactory to have the whole question comprehensively submitted for future consideration. It is right to premise that we are not necessarily discussing the question whether the system of national education should have been established or should be continued in Ireland, though I conscientiously protest against it so far as the principle of Scriptural education is concerned; but here are two systems of education now existing in Ireland—and what I complain of is, that considering the acknowledged basis of and for education now adopted in England, that you support in Ireland the one system, and repudiate the other: that while you pay all attention to the conscientious objections of one party, you manifest no deference to the conscientious feelings of the other party, namely, the great majority of the clergy of the Church of Ireland, and a large proportion of the Protestant laity of Ireland. I ask, where is there any deference manifested to the conscientious objections of this large body of Protestants in Ireland? Why not deal out towards them fair, equal, and impartial justice? And surely, in point of fairness and of common sense, if you establish a system of education on certain principles out of deference to the conscientious objections of some, it must be most impolitic and inconsistent with your own principle to pass over the claims of another considerable class of persons, who also entertain their conscientious scruples; and it is upon this ground that I ask your calm and fair judgment. If you have established a system which is objected to as a partial system, as a system that is narrow and unsound; and if we ask you to modify that system so as to extend its benefits to all, are we to be told that we have no right to this fair demand because that there is another class who differ from us? Now what is the result of such a principle? Why it is this, that all who conscientiously object to this system of national education as it now stands, shall be debarred from all public assistance, and thus you confine the public grant to one class, instead of adopting those modifications which would enable you to extend it to all. But you have adopted this latter plan in England—a plan which is founded on the principle of equal justice to all. And how can that principle which is founded on the rights of conscience, and which is esteemed to he a good principle in England, how can that he a bad principle in Ireland? Why should we thus have one system in England, and another system in Ireland? You have yielded in England to conscientious objections, and why not act on the same principle towards Ireland? and in not doing so, you must be either doing what is wrong in England, or you must be acting unjustly towards Ireland. But how did matters stand when this national system of education was first started? And here I must observe, that I did not anticipate any very lengthened discussion on this question at this period of the Session, and that it was rather my intention merely to have given my simple concurrence in what I knew would come from my hon. Colleague, whose sentiments are in perfect accordance with my own; and who, in his statement, has brought the matter fully and fairly before the House, not with the design to throw any obstructions in the way of the Government, but to induce them to have the matter fairly and calmly considered hereafter, before another Session closes. As regards myself, but for the manner in which his statement has been met, I would have been satisfied to have added the simple expression of my concurrence to the statement of my hon. Friend—a statement which, when it goes forth to the people of England, and when they soberly reflect on it, I am fully satisfied that it will have its due influence on them, and that it will find its way to their hearts and to their consciences. But we are charged with bigotry; now, instead of dealing in such clap-trap language, let us discuss this question quietly and calmly upon its merits, and if I urge my observations on sound principles, let them have their due weight; but let us not, as has been attempted to be done, by indulging in calumnies and imputations, lead away the House into topics which cannot tend to any dispassionate conclusion. Now what was the course which was adopted in Ireland before the establishment of the National Board? The practice was, that in every school in Ireland there was a bible class, and all the children capable of reading with advantage took their places in this bible class—so soon as their proficiency in reading qualified them to read with profit, they were advanced to this bible class, in which the Scriptures were daily read. The rule was, that the Scriptures should he read, but everything of a controversial character was carefully excluded, and all catechetical instruction, nor were either the Roman Catholics or Dissenters required to be taught in the formularies of the Church; but that a bible class should exist, that was required. There exists in this country a very large society and a very noble one—the British and Foreign School Society, presided over by the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord, the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, in stating the principle of that society, on a recent occasion, said, it was a principle which he held dear and sacred; that "this principle was founded on the entire sufficiency and the universal use of the Word of God." And, I think, I cannot give a better statement of the nature of the principle of the education that existed in Ireland up to the establishment of the National Board in Ireland. The principle is also stated by Lord Stanley in these words:— The determination to enforce in all their schools the reading of the Holy Scriptures without note or comment was undoubtedly taken with the purest motives—with the wish at once to connect religious with moral and literary education; and, at the same time, not to run the risk of wounding the peculiar feelings of any sect by catechetical instruction or comments, which might tend to subjects of polemical controversy. There is the principle of the whole system that had been adopted previous to that time. The House is aware that, before the Union, there was no effective system of education existing in Ireland. It was subsequently proposed to remodel the parochial system, and to add supplementary schools, into which a new plan of education was to be introduced, leaving the parochial education under the control of the bishops and clergy. There were several Commissions on education. In the report of the Commission of 1812 it is suggested, that the institutions which then existed should remain under their then managers, and that the spirit of improvement already manifested among them should be left to operate undisturbed under the influence of that emulation which the new establishments would naturally excite. The report proceeded thus:— For the purpose of ascertaining more exactly the number of those supplementary schools, for selecting proper situations for erecting and establishing them where wanted, for prescribing the mode of education to be pursued, and for the general superintendence of them, we are of opinion that a board of commissioners, as above mentioned, should be appointed, under the authority of an Act of Parliament, empowering them to receive and dispose of Parliamentary grants for building and endowing schools, to purchase or accept conveyances for the sites of such schools, to decide in the last resort on the appointment, conduct, and dismissal of masters, to prescribe the course and mode of education, to provide for the expense of furnishing books, and to have a general control over the whole of the proposed establishments for the instruction of the lower classes. And again, on the subject of books, it says— In such selection of books for the new schools, we doubt not but it will be found practicable to introduce not only a number of books in which moral principles will be inculcated in such a manner as is likely to make deep and lasting impressions on the youthful mind, but also ample extracts from the sacred Scriptures themselves, an early acquaintance with which we deem of the utmost importance, and indeed indispensable in forming the mind to just notions of duty and sound principles of conduct. I have felt it my duty to read these extracts from that report, as it has sometimes been referred to as the foundation of the present system of national education in Ireland. If the claims of the Church Education Society were recognised, there might be some pretence for that suggestion. But it so happened that some question arose as to what was the intention of those Commissioners as to the nature of that report, and, consequently, a correspondence took place between the late Bishop of Ferns, who was the principal person in drawing up that report, and Sir Robert Peel, who was then Secretary for Ireland. It was clearly shown that the principle was to improve the parochial system under the control of the bishops and clergy of the Established Church, and to add supplementary schools on the principles embodied in the report itself. In the year 1825 there was another report from Commissioners on the subject of education, and in which report they express themselves in these words, that they were "deeply impressed with the importance and necessity of introducing the Scriptures into all institutions for the education of the people as a fundamental part of the instruction." Next, there was a third report in 1827, to which I beg to call the attention of the House; and here we have five Commissioners, but two of these five made a separate report, and one of the two gentlemen who made the separate report was a party to the report of 1812; and what is their language?— We feel strongly that the unexampled improvement which has taken place within a short period in the education of the peasantry of Ireland, ought duly to be apprehended, before any of the means by which it has been produced shall be destroyed or endangered. In our second report there appears 11,823 schools, a greater number than there is to be found in any other country, considering the population. About twenty years ago the Scriptures were not read in 600 schools; at the time of our second report they were read in 6,058 daily schools, and 1,954 Sunday schools. It is further very worthy of remark, that of the 6,058 daily schools in which the Scriptures are now read, only 1,879 are connected with any societies whatever, whether those aided by the Government, or those supported by individual contributions. In the remaining 4,179 schools, the Scriptures have, of late years, been adopted by the voluntary choice of the conductors and teachers, the latter of whom are generally dependent for their livelihood upon the pleasure of the parents of their pupils—a signal proof that there is no repugnance to scriptural instruction among the people, and not less an illustration of the effects silently produced by the example and competition of better institutions upon the common schools of the country; any experiment ought to be considered as an accompaniment to those means which experience had proved to be useful, and not as leading to the suppression of any tried instrument of good. I feel it most important and most necessary to call the attention of the House to these facts, as it brings before hon. Members, in an authentic form, the state of education in Ireland before the establishment of the system of national education in 1831, and because the all-important fact is thus clearly proved, the perfect willingness of the people to receive the Scriptures, and to attend those schools where the Scriptures were read. But there is another circumstance to which I would call attention, that, in those schools which were kept by Roman Catholic masters, in 2,607 the Scriptures were read, in 2,886 they were not read, in 2,076 no returns were received; and 2,049 schools were in connexion with Scriptural Societies in the year 1831, the very year in which the National Board was established; about 300,000 Roman Catholic children were in attendance in Scriptural schools, and receiving a Scriptural education—that was the state of things in the year 1831. I fully admit that the Roman Catholic clergy, not the people—an important distinction—began at this time to give the most strenuous opposition to Scriptural schools, to those schools in which the Scriptures were read and used. Various efforts were made by the Romish clergy to counteract the working of these schools, and it was stated as the ground of that opposition what I may express in the language of Dr. Murray, the Roman Catholic Archbishop, in reference to the Kildare-place Society: "because it puts forward a principle which we hold to be erroneous, that the Sacred Scriptures be read in all the schools to which it communicates and." You will observe that the objection was not stated with regard to any particular version of the Scriptures, because the Kildare-place Society allowed the Douay version to the Roman Catholic scholars, and the authorised version to the Protestant scholars, thus anticipating any objection which might be advanced as regards the translation of the Scriptures; for while the rule of that society was that the Scriptures were to be read, they did not at all interfere with the peculiar tenets of their Roman Catholic pupils, except so far as the knowledge of the Scripture might subsequently operate by its own intrinsic efficacy; they gave them the Douay version, but that was objected to on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy; and it is not my purpose on this occasion to discuss, though I cannot but protest against, their right to make that objection. One party says, "The Scriptures should be introduced into schools;" that this is a fair and legitimate principle, as wide and tolerant as the basis of revealed religion, while they avow themselves as not intending directly to interfere with the consciences of the children; and they ask this right on the broad principles of Christianity—on that broad principle which I now ask you to maintain and recognise. But there is another party who say, "We object to the introduction of the Scriptures into schools, and we think you are wrong in requiring their introduction." Here then you have two antagonistic principles or systems—and what have you done? You uphold the one, and you put down the other; by your present conduct you have not applied impartially to both, the general principles of religious liberty, but you have virtually given the preference to one of those conflicting principles, and for that preference you select the one which is opposed to the doctrine of that religion on the principles of which the constitution of this country is settled. I say this, that you should not have made that system which is conformable to the doctrine of the established religion of the country, nay, more, to general Protestantism, the special system for exclusion from public support: if there was to be a preference, that system which you exclude should have the preference; but this existing system of education can be so extended as to include in it all the benefits we ask. These were the two antagonistic principles which laid the foundation of Lord Stanley's policy; and yet while one of these principles, the Scripture principle, is that of the British and Foreign School Society, and which has not only the honour of having the noble Lord as one of its Presidents, but which receives in England grants from the public funds—yet the British and Foreign School Society is conducted precisely on the same principles that were adopted by the Kildare-place Society, and which are now followed out, with a modification in favour of the children of Episcopalian parents, by the Church Education Society for Ireland. So that here we have the British and Foreign School Society in England, which is conducted on the same Scriptural principles as the Church Education Society in Ireland, receiving and from the public funds, while that and is denied to a similar society in Ireland, which is also conducted on Scriptural principles. Is that fair? Is that just? I do not want now to occupy the time of the House by entering into those irrelevant matters which were introduced by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland (Sir W. Somerville). I freely admit, however, all he has stated as to the great respectability of the Rev. Mr. Woodward. But when the right hon. Secretary states that objections to the national system of education in Ireland are fast vanishing, I must deny that assertion. Had we not nearly 1,600 of the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland petitioning against this system? We have in this Session presented more than 258 petitions from various parishes against this system. This very day I presented fifty-eight petitions from different parishes against it; and previous petitions were presented which were signed by upwards of 60,000 individuals, and 3,000 clergy, and nobility, and gentry of rank. Do such facts prove that the objections to the National Board are fast diminishing? Quite the reverse. If the Government really believed that the objections were thus diminishing, if they had confidence in the system as sound in itself, why is it necessary to call in the and of the temptations of patronage? Why is it necessary to make it a principle inflexible to exercise their patronage to persuade—to add the "pressure from without "on the Irish clergy, to effect some diminution in the amount of those objections which do exist up to the present time against the National system? And when it was stated by the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne) that some of the bishops, in the exercise of their episcopal patronage, excluded those men who were supposed to be favourable to the National Board, and that they preferred those who were its opponents, that hon. Member was most unfortunate in his selection, as among all the bishops in Ireland he could not have selected men who, in the exercise of their patronage—who, in the discharge of their episcopal duties—are more entitled to the respect, the esteem, and the reverence of every man who knows those prelates. Has he shown any case of the exclusion of a better man than the one promoted? Of one of those bishops, the Bishop of Ossory, I must, as an Irishman, feel truly proud—an honour to that university which I have the high privilege to represent—he is a man whose learning is only exceeded by his sterling piety and love of truth; of unblemished reputation, great literary attainments, clear, calm, accurate and profound; of whom Dr. Chalmers remarked, that Ireland did not produce such a man since the days of Ussher. Si erro, erro cum Platone. And as to the Bishop of Cashel, I shall not say more than this—character is a shield against calumny; his character could not be affected by any observation that might he made by the hon. and gallant Member, the Member for Middlesex. But does that hon. and gallant Member suppose that I am to be held accountable for every argument or suggestion which may be put forward when I am present? I would be very sorry should such be the case, for then I should feel it to be my duty to be occasionally absent from my place in this House. It is not my intention to put forward anything which may be deemed offensive to the conscience of any person who differs from me; and therefore I wish it to be understood that I am only commenting on the principles of the two Churches as they are acknowledged, as matters of fact, as they present themselves to our minds, as antagonistic principles; for what I contend for is, that the National Board is founded on the principle of concession to the Church of Rome; it is founded on a principle which is the denial of the principle of the Protestant Church. ["No, no!"] But we say Yes, yes. Our opinion, if not as correct, is as conscientious as that of those who now deny my position. You enable the Roman Catholic priest to have a united education for a mixed attendance of children, at the public expense, according to his principles; but you do not enable the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland to have what they deem essential—an united education on their principles, and which is the great object that should be accomplished; and this is a point to which I would especially direct your attention, because the National Board, in this view of it, and on the principle stated by Lord Stanley himself, cannot, without modification, become in Ireland a system of general national education. But it has been said, that there could not be a combined system of education on the principles of the clergy of the Established Church. I shall take the converse of that proposition—and here let me refer to one of the rules of the National Board as to religious instruction, and here we are informed, that "they will require that the schools be kept open for a certain number of hours, on four or five days in the week, at the discretion of the Commissioners, for moral and literary instruction only; and that the remaining one or two days in the week be set apart for giving separately such religious education to the children as may be approved of by the clergy of their respective persuasions;" so that here, while the "literary and moral education" is provided for as regards every day, this separate and religious education is excluded from school teaching, and is thrown on some separate day—it is subsequently reduced to "part of a day." But it is not united religious instruction; it is to be on a special day, not a school day, or else it is before or after the ordinary school hours on school days, and confined to such children of Roman Catholics as get permission to attend. But with this religious instruction the Board only interferes so far as to afford the opportunity, or rather not prohibiting out of school hours—they merely afford the opportunity to any persons out of school hours. This is a pretence; for as to what takes place out of school hours, it does not require a rule of the Board to say, people may do what they like. In a part of Lord Stanley's letter, it is stated, that the Kildare-place Society required the New Testament to be read "without note or comment by the children; and that that must be peculiarly obnoxious to a Church which denies even to adults the right of unaided private interpretation of the sacred volume in articles of religious belief"—in fact, that it was a principle contrary to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church; then how does the matter stand? The clergy of the Established Church say, that it is their conscientious opinion that there should be no restriction whatever antecedently and expressly put on the use of the Scriptures in the school, during the school hours. That is their opinion; that it is so, is a matter of fact, be it right or be it wrong—that is conscientiously their principle; but it is said on the other side, that that cannot be acted on, without coming in contact with the conscientious principles of the priests of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus you have two sets of men who are opposed to each other on conscientious grounds; they entertain different views, and you cannot please both; you cannot place them on the same identical foundation; and as you cannot select one party, without placing yourselves in opposition to the conscientious views of the other party, why not then do for Ireland as you have done in England? You have very recently granted a share of the public funds to the Roman Catholic body in England; and while you make their schools subject to your inspection as regards secular education, you leave them entirely free as regards religious education—you leave them at perfect liberty to conduct their own schools on their own religious principles; you give them the required grants—you grant stipends for their teachers—you and them from the public funds, but you leave them free and unshackled as to their religious teaching. There is another subject to which I would wish to refer. According to the original constitution of the national system of education. Lord Stanley says in that letter, which is called the Magna Charta of the Board— Although it is not designed to exclude from the list of hooks for the combined instruction, such portions of sacred history, or of religious or moral teaching, as may he approved of by the Board, it is to be understood that it is by no means intended to convey a perfect and sufficient religious education, or to supersede the necessity of separate religious instruction on the day set apart for that purpose. And again we are informed in one of the reports of the National Board, that— Besides works on the ordinary subjects of education, we have compiled and printed two numbers of a series of lessons from the Holy Scriptures, one from the Old, the other from the New Testament; and we propose to go on adding to them, until we complete a copious abstract of the narrative parts of the sacred volume, interspersed with suitable passages from the poetical and didactic parts of it. We proceed on the undertaking with perfect unanimity, and anticipate from the general circulation of the work the best results. It happened, that when the national system was first established, by reason of the intimation conveyed in Lord Stanley's letter, the objections of many persons against the system which would exclude Scripture, were softened down, on this principle, that they expected that such selections from Scripture might be made for combined education, in which both parties might agree; and so they acted on the adage, "that half a loaf was better than no bread!" Well, extracts from the Scriptures were advertised, as I have said; and all persons were afterwards invited to make application for and for schools, and they were all led to believe that suitable selections would be made from time to time; but what, after all that intimation which I have read, what now is the ease? Why, what were called extracts, were prepared, and for a time used; they certainly appeared very objectionable, erroneous in the text as in the notes; but still, instead of "their general circulation," they are now put in the same category as the Scriptures themselves; the Board have excluded them also, so that there is nothing now to afford any portion of Scriptural instruction during school hours. There are no means on the part of the Board to have religious instruction given to the children, although every facility, as it is said, is given, when the school is broken up, for that purpose, or else before or after school hours, for such as get special permission to attend; and on this subject I have only to refer to the report of the National Board for 1836, in which there is this explicit edict:— As the introduction of the Bible into schools for common education has created much contention and dispute, and prevented a large proportion of the poorer classes of Ireland from sending their children to schools receiving Government and, it is not to be introduced during the hours set apart for common education, but every facility is to be given for the reading and explaining of the Scriptures, either before or after those hours."—"All books used in the schools during the hours of general instruction, are to receive the sanction of the Board. But what are the books which have received this sanction? "Those which the Board have already sanctioned, are the school books of the Kildare-place Society;" the hooks of that society from which the public grants were withdrawn, with the exception of the Holy Scriptures, are the very books used and sanctioned by the National Board of Education in Ireland. I hope the House will excuse me if I trespass on its attention on this point, which I wish to bring out as clearly as I see it myself. I wish to place the subject, so far as I am able, before you in such a way as to prepare you for a mature consideration of it hereafter. If this system of education for Ireland was constructed out of deference to the objections that have been made and urged by the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, and in conformity with the views of men who conscientiously, we will suppose, opposed the use of the Holy Scriptures in the schools, being at variance with the principles of their Church, and principles which are in opposition to those views that are entertained by the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland—I ask you this, however good the system may be, is it your duty to force it on those who consistently object to it, and thus to do violence to their consciences? Such a proceeding is neither just nor consistent. Is it not an attempt on your part to corrupt the consciences of those who differ from the Church of Rome? Let those who can conscientiously accept the and which this system, as it is administered, affords, let them take it, and much good may it do them; but on those who do object to the National Board, in its special exclusion of Scripture from united education under its system, do not force its acceptance as the only condition on which public money will be given; and I ask, because they feel themselves compelled not to receive and on that condition, will you deny them that assistance which they require from the public funds, for giving sound, wholesome instruction to the young population? Because they cannot concur in a system from which they conscientiously differ, are they then to be deprived of all public and? Allusion has been made to the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Ossory, as one who is most strenuously opposed to this National Board of Education; and there is no man more capable of investigating truth, or of detecting and exposing sophistry and error; and up to this hour there is no man who is more decided in opinion against the principle of this Board. There can be no more influential opponent to that system, nor one whose authority should carry greater weight, than that eminent and able prelate. Here, then, you have a man who thoroughly understands that system; and if his clear, candid, and penetrating judgment could be convinced that this system of national education that now exists in Ireland was not a system which stands opposed to the great principle of Protestantism, I will answer on his behalf, that his opposition would not exist for one evanescent moment. When such a mind as his is convinced of the evil of this system of education, I do not think it is quite fair to charge the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland with bigotry, because they cannot bring their consciences into tune with the opinions of the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex, however much they might wish it. In the view of it which they have taken, I can only say for myself, that in that respect I entirely go along with them; for, after the most minute and anxious investigation of this subject over and over again, and having heard and read many speeches and pamphlets on the subject, I continue to differ with those who find no ground of conscientious objection to the national system as administered in Ireland. But it is not necessary you should concur with my view or theirs: it is not the propriety of the objection, but the fact that it is conscientious, which should govern your decision. A large proportion of the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland, and the Protestant laity connected with that Church, ask for a share in the public funds granted for education; but the Government of this country say, "We will give you a share, for this fund is intended to assist education conducted on a comprehensive principle levelled at exclusion; but, if we give you assistance, it is provided only that you assent to the rules and conditions of this system of education which we have framed." But the petitioners say, "We object to this system:" the reply, however, is—"No matter; if you concur with us—if you go against your conscience you will get help—if you do not, you will have no assistance, you will get nothing—if you violate what you know to be your conscientious opinion and paramount duty, you may then look forward to the certainty of and, and the prospect of Government preferment—you may then reckon on having a full shore in the public grant; but if you obey the dictates of your conscience—if you act according to your judgment—if you concur in opinion with some of the wisest and the best of men, you shall have no assistance from us; but, on the contrary, you will be abused or ridiculed as bigots by certain Liberal Members of this House—that will be the reward of your conscientious scruples." And such is the manifest result to every Irish clergyman and to every Protestant layman who opposes this system of national education; so that, while we see the Roman Catholic clergy permitted to carry out their conscientious views, and Dissenters allowed to carry out their views—we see the clergy of the Established Church stand before us in the anomalous position which I have described. I put this to the House—I put it to every Roman Catholic—I put it to every Dissenter—I put it on the principle of common sense—I put it on the principle of common equity and of common justice—are you to have several sects in Ireland to all of whom you give what they require, and you give to all these on the principle of allowance for conscientious objections, while there is one body of men who have also their conscientious objections, but which you refuse to recognise. There are certain parties, all of whom profess to have conscientious views, and you protect them in those views; but there is one party who are to remain behind, and they are to be disregarded; and in alluding to that party, I need not now dwell on their faithful loyalty and manly moderation at the present crisis in Ireland; I speak of the loyalty of the Protestants of Ireland—that faithful body of whose value and importance in Ireland, to England and British connexion, the noble Lord at the head of the Government cannot but be conscious—is that body of men which comprehends so many of the bishops, the clergy, and the laity of the Established Church in Ireland—are they to be neglected?—are their conscientious scruples—are their views to be disrespected—are their claims to be disregarded? Meet those men, I say, on the principle of conscience and of equity, and do not deny to them that which they rightfully and soberly demand. They should be respected—and an honest man and an upright statesman will always respect the bonâ fide objections of such a body of men; and it is because of the bonâ fide objections of these men that they cannot participate in the benefits of this system of education: thay believe it to be a bad system, and therefore, believing this, I ask you, why should you refuse them that assistance which they see granted to every other class in their country and in England? And suppose it had been the case that, under all the incentives and temptations, some of the clergy struggled to look favourably on the National Board, this is no argument in favour of its principles; for, as a matter of fact it is notorious, numbers, out of their reduced incomes—reduced in a manner of which English Members can have little notion—liberally gave in and of their Scriptural schools: they would rather act according to their principles, though to their great embarrassment in supporting their families, than violate their consciences by accepting and from a Board of whose principles they could not approve. Is it right to continue this system of injustice—which must, if it be persevered in against these faithful men, make them feel that their case alone was not to be considered; and that there were parties to be found in this House who refused them that protection and assistance which they so well deserved? I ask, in common fairness can you deny to these what you have given to others far less deserving? Can you deny to them that share in the public grant which is vouchsafed to their fellow-subjects? Or do you think it more consistent to go on in a line of policy which can only, if successful, ultimately corrupt and injure their minds—for if they are—as they are—conscientious in their views, it must be doing violence to those conscientious feelings to submit to a policy which must peril their usefulness. The whole, as it appears to me, comes to this—that if you thus persevere to make the system of national education in Ireland successful, as a national system, you will do so by corrupting and degrading the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland; and by corrupting the clergy, if you succeed, you destroy their character and usefulness; and if the character of the clergy be thus lowered, their labours or their example cannot be useful to society. This is a question of principle. As regards the clergy of the Church of Ireland, in any system of education, the position which the Bible is to occupy in that system, is with them a matter of primary consideration. I admit, with the hon. Member for Middlesex, the great principle of Protestantism is founded on the right of private judgment; but to what is that right of private judgment to be applied? The right of private judgment in Protestantism is the right of every man freely to appeal to the Word of God: that is the soul of religious liberty, and when we have got that right, civil liberty and every other right follows in its train. For where there is that religious liberty to appeal to the Word of God, and not asking man to believe anything but what his honest convictions lead him to receive, as in accordance with that sacred word, that is the genuine exercise of private judgment, and that is the inalienable birthright of every subject of a free constitution. But the Protestants of the Established Church in Ireland say that you ask them to consent to a system of education of which they disapprove, and in doing so you punish them for their honesty; and I will show you that such is the case. You will find that the National Board itself, in its report for 1837, has recognised these conscientious objections. The Lord Lieutenant was so satisfied of their existence that he sent back to the Commissioners of the National Board the rule as to "Religious Instruction," to see if they could make it square with the views of those who were "conscientiously opposed" to it. The Commissioners say— Having received your Excellency's permission to revise our existing rule as to religious instruction, we have anxiously considered whether we could effect such an alteration in the letter of it, without violating the principle, as might satisfy any of those who have been hitherto conscientiously opposed to us. The Board then admits that the opposition was conscientious, for they use these words— Without violating the principle, as might satisfy any of those who have been hitherto conscientiously opposed to us. And how did they alter that rule? In the letter, not the spirit and principle, although the conscientious objections were made to the principle only. But the occasion is used to carry out more banefully the principles of the Roman Catholic clergy, for the rule is now framed thus:— That no child shall be required to be present at any religious instruction or exercise of which his parents or guardians may disapprove,"—to "which they may object. This pretends to deal with the parent, to cover the coercion of the priest. I shall call the attention of the House to certain answers which had been given by Dr. Doyle in his examination before the Committee of the House of Lords:— If I found that the London Hibernian School was one where the rules were strictly adhered to, and that the Catholics were desired not to suffer children to frequent it, yet did so, being apprised of their danger, I should think it proper to withhold the sacrament from them when dying. Need there be in the schools any other sumbling-block than the Scriptures being read and got by heart?—There need not. It is enough if the Bible is read there without note or comment?—Yes, that is quite sufficient in order to make such schools obnoxious to us. Hero we have it "that no child shall be required to be present at any religious instruction or exercise of which his parents or guardians may dissaprove;" so that, if the parents object, (and this has been interpreted practically, unless the parent expressly permit,) this instruction cannot be given, unless approved by the priest, for by the principles of the Church of Rome, as expounded by Dr. Doyle, the clergy of that Church will deprive them of the sacraments of that Church should they attend at school where the Bible is used for the mere purpose of being read and understood, after the priest has directed them not to be present. How then can you get these poor people to consent to their children attending any religious instruction or religious exorcise? The parents will, of course be compelled to object whenever it is known that the objection must be submitted to, under the charter of the school: but that objection will in reality be in most cases the mandate of the Romish clergy, and not the free wish of the poor peasant; for the experience of all good men acquainted with Ireland is this—and I can in some degree personally confirm it—that the Roman Catholic population are by no means unwilling to have the Scriptures—quite the reverse; that the opposition to the Scriptures arises from the priests and not from the people. Remember the report of 1827 which I read to you; for even in schools which were taught by Roman Catholic masters, and paid for by the parents of the pupils, and when we had no national system, the Scriptures were generally read. But as to this question of religious instruction; suppose that a school of the Church Education Society were placed under the National Board, and that there were some Roman Catholics in attendance—suppose but one, and that the priest objected to that child being present at any religious instruction, or any use of Scripture in combined education of the children—the education must cither cease to be united, or it must cease to be Scriptural; and I defy any ingenuity to evade this alternative. Is the Protestant clergyman to assist in carrying out a principle which, in his opinion, would be a most unrighteous one, as it would make that which ought to be a combined education a disunited education, and that which ought to be Scriptural, a secular education? and thus it would destroy the whole character of what ought to be the great object of all daily instruction—to promote good-will, and not discord—Scriptural morality, and not merely secular knowledge. I assure the House that my wish is to argue this question on its true merits, and to state opinions fairly. We say this system is founded on an unrighteous principle, and that we are bound in point of conscience, whatever the Government may think fit to sanction, to seek its modification to include our case. Because the Government concur in it, that will not justify us; and if the Government think they can make the clergy of the Church in Ireland accept money from a Board which carries on a system that practically prevents the Roman Catholic children attending schools where the Scriptures are read, or when they are read, or at all referred to, they may be assured that money will not be taken on any such terms. We will not do so, because in doing so we would only be compromising our own principles by our adhesion to such a system. Here is the fallacious form of the rule of the Board:— We therefore propose modifying the letter of the rule, so as to allow religious instruction to be given, and of course the Scriptures to be read, or the Catechism learned, during any of the school hours, provided such an arrangement be made as that no children shall take part in or listen to any religious reading or instruction to which their parents or guardians object;"— which is, I have already observed, a practical denial of a Scriptural instruction to the children of Roman Catholic parents, however artful may be the form in which that denial is embodied. From this you must at once see what would be the effect, if the Church Education Society would place their schools under the National Board: education bottomed on Scripture, or true religion, could only be given at the will of the priest; another form of saying it could not be given at all. See in what a position you would place the Protestant clergyman; and how then could he stand out for the principles he holds paramount? And this is the position he places himself in, by joining the National Board. The man who does so, to use a military illustration, surrenders up his sword, and that he does, if he consents to having the use of the Scriptures at all restricted, at the will of the priest, during any portion of the hours of united instruction, when all the children are in attendance in the school. His sword may be in the scabbard, but it is not to be delivered up under any circumstance whatever. But, besides the principle involved in reverencing the Scripture, we are not to consent to the Roman Catholic clergy regulating what should be the character of a united education in the schools of the Church Education Society, whether it should be Scriptural or secular. I beg to call your attention to some of the rules of the National Board, under the head "Religious Instruction:"— The readings of the Scriptures, cither in the Protestant authorised or Douay version, as well as the reading of Catechisms, comes within the rule as to religious instruction. The rule as to religious instruction applies to public prayer, and to all other religious exercises. Is that the way, I would ask, to promote a united instruction? But the truth is, there is no provision made by the Board for "religious education." Again:— The Commissioners do not insist on the Scripture lessons being read in any of the National Schools, nor do they allow them to be read during the time of secular or literary instruction, in any school attended by children whose parents or guardians object to their being so read. In such case, the Commissioners prohibit the use of them, except at the time of religious instruction, when the persons giving it may use these lessons or not, as they think proper. Whatever arrangement is made in any school for giving religious instruction, must be publicly notified in the school room, in order that those children, and those only, may be present whose parents or guardians allow them. Is this a provision for imparting a religious education? But I shall now refer to what Mr. Carlile says on this subject in his evidence.

The following evidence was given before Parliament by the Rev. James Carlile, one of the Commissioners:— Do you consider that the Board contributes nothing to the separate religious instruction beyond the school house?—Nothing whatever. Are there any school books and other means furnished towards it by the Board?—None whatever. In the time set apart for reading the Scriptures or for religious instruction, do you consider the National Board directs or controls the instruction at all?—Certainly not. What provision do you make for seeing that the day set apart for religious instruction shall be devoted to that purpose?—We make no provision whatever. Is the Board considered to employ the schoolmaster to give that separate religious instruction; or is he employed by other parties?—We employ no one to give the separate religious instruction. The schoolmaster may give the instruction, but the Board do not require it?—Certainly. It would be open to him to refuse the application from the parents to give such instruction on that day?—Certainly. Look, now, at the constitution of these National Schools. You have all the children brought together for common education; but the moment the subject of religion is mentioned, that very moment all must separate. The children may be all assembled in harmony, but they cannot pray together—they cannot read God's Word together—they cannot kneel down together—as children of one God and Father. No reference can be made to one Scripture rule of religion; not one whisper about God or His Word can be muttered—that would be the signal for separation; and you call that a united system of education—a united system, which will keep the children in harmony. A reference was made to Trinity College, Dublin; but all that was said about that University was in the absence of argument. What, I would ask, is the oath which is taken by a Fellow of that University? I shall read it:— Ego G. C. electus in numerum Sociorum hujus Collegii, sanctè coram Deo profiteor, me, sacræScripturæ auctoritatem in religione summam agnoscere, et quæccunque in sancto Dei verbo continentur, verè et ex animo credere, et pro facultate meâ omnibus opinionibus, quas vel Pontificii, vel alii contra sacræScripturæ veritatem tuentur, constantèr repugnaturum," &c. Is it, I ask, the principle of the National Board to recognise the high and sacred authority of the Holy Scriptures, and to oppose every doctrine that is repugnant to them?—constantly to oppose, to the best of their ability, those opinions which are against the truth of that sacred word?—but it is on that very principle that the whole system of the Established Church in Ireland is based; on that great principle it is constructed. It is, however, true, that by the Act of 1795, Roman Catholics can go to the University, and they can graduate there after receiving a University education; but still the whole principle of the system is essentially Protestant in its fullest integrity. No antiscriptural condition is forced upon any of those who are on the foundation. It is most tolerant, I admit, and as generous as is consistent with the integrity of Protestant principle; and I can truly say that I have known Roman Catholics educated there, with whom I have lived on terms of the kindliest intercourse. The true way to benefit the population is, to infuse into their minds those fundamental principles of revealed truth which will dissipate that darkness in which all colours are alike. They are also alike when blended in the beam of meridian light. Our unity is of the light of a common revelation—our opponents, in its absence; and I can say, as regards the system of education that is pursued by the Church Education Society, that the people have the fullest confidence in the candour and integrity of our clergy, that no attempt will be made to proselytise their children beyond the intrinsic influence of simple knowledge of Scripture. I may say, in Trinity College the opportunities of the tutor are never used to proselytise. I say, that whilst there is no antecedent restriction on any tutor as to any religious instruction or use of the Scriptures, there is no attempt made on the part of the tutors to proselytise—this has been always conceded—they take no advantage of their position for any such purpose; and so it is also under the Church Education Society. The great object is to carry out the system in all its comprehensive integrity; and I ask, are these the men who should be designated a faction? This society began in the year 1839, and the amount of its subscriptions during the last year, though a time of severe pressure on all classes, was 40,398l. I shall read the progress of this institution:—

In the year 1839 the subscriptions amounted to £8,464
In the year 1845 the subscriptions amounted to 39,484
In the year 1847 the subscriptions amounted to 40,398

A similar increase has taken place in the number of pupils; and their schools instruct at present 116,968; and the pupils are as follows:—

Episcopalians 57,633
Dissenters 14,697
Roman Catholics 44,638

There you have a bonâ fide society, and united education; it is composed of some of the wisest and the best men; the system those men sanction they conscientiously carry out; they believe that Ireland to be benefited must he Scripturally instructed; that the lower classes should be trained up in the knowledge of their duties, so as to become useful members of society; that they should he taught a code of clear morals—that honest uncompromising morality which is based on Divine revelation; for, to use the language of a great man, if obedience to the will of God be necessary to happiness, and the knowledge of God's will be necessary to obedience, to withhold that knowledge is to obstruct that happiness. What we want is, to be enabled more fully to promote and to extend sound education in Ireland, and to do it consistently with our avowed principles; to modify the national system in such a way as to meet the objections which are entertained by a large proportion of the Protestant clergy and laity of the Established Church; and what, may I ask, is to prevent this being done? Money is granted to schools in England on the principle on which we ask it: we will subscribe so much, and let us get so much out of the public funds, and that will be the best test of our sincerity, as well as of our energy. We ask you to modify your system, that it may not he in opposition to our conscientious scruples. By granting this fair demand, I can affirm that you will do more to promote good feeling in Ireland—you will do more to assist the cause of united education, and to combine men in advancing the true interests of that country by the performance of common duties—than will be effected by indulging in this House in unseemly personalities, as an answer to a just and fair request, submitted honestly to your calm and deliberate consideration.


said: Sir, if I do not enter at any length on the present occasion into this question, I am sure the House will readily perceive the reasons why I decline to do so. This is a system which, as the hon. and learned Gentleman who last addressed the House has truly stated, was established by Lord Stanley in the year 1832. It has, since that time, received the support of successive Governments. Having been established by Lord Stanley, it was continued by the Administration of Sir Robert Peel, who refused to make any alteration with respect to those grants, and it has gone on to the present time constantly increasing in the number of its schools and of its scholars. There had at first been at the utmost 100,000 scholars attending the National Schools in Ireland, while there are now upwards of 4,000 schools, and upwards of 400,000 scholars. This is not, therefore, to be considered, as some Gentlemen who spoke to-night appear disposed to consider it—this is not to be considered as an entirely new question, or a proposal now brought forward for the first time by the Government. It is a system which, having been first proposed by Lord Stanley as an experiment, has been found more successful than could have been expected—has extended itself very widely in Ireland—and has been of very great use in that country. Under these circumstances, I say that we have a primâ facie ground for resisting a modification or an alteration of the system. The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that before the adoption of the plan of Lord Stanley, there existed a Kildare-place Society, which went on the principle of introducing the Bible as a school book, without note or comment. He has said very truly that I am one of those who in this country approve of such a system, and that I belong to a society which takes that rule as its basis. I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman upon that point. I think that in a Protestant country, where the great majority of the people are Protestants, it is of the greatest benefit to be able to found your school system on the teaching of the Bible, and that the Bible should in such case be used as a school book. But in that opinion I am opposed by a majority of the clergymen of the Church of England, who maintain that that rule is by no means sufficient, but that it is necessary to add the Catechism and attendance at Church to that system. And, therefore, however the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Church Education Society may approve of that plan, it is the plan of which the majority of the ministers of the Church of England in this country do not approve. But as it happens that the plan of which the majority of the ministers of the Church of England approve in this country—namely, that of having the Liturgy read and the Church Catechism taught—excludes Protestant Dissenters, so the plan of which I approve here, if adopted in Ireland, would exclude the greater portion of Roman Catholics of that country. Now, I am for that plan which is in practice the most comprehensive. If I find that what I consider the best system of education should be extended to the whole population, I should adopt that system; but if I find that in practice such a system cannot be adopted owing to religious differences, I then take the system which, although less good in itself, will yet be of service to numbers who would be excluded from the operation of a better system. The principle on which I am disposed to act, is that of doing the most good. The hon. Gentleman who introduced this Motion, and the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the House, talked much of a violation, of conscience under the system of education at present adopted in Ireland. Now let us consider what that system is. Roman Catholics say that according to the rules and discipline of their Church, they could not approve of the Bible being read as a school book. I need not notice the particular grounds on which they urge that position; they are grounds, as everybody knows, which are consistent with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and to which no one who is acquainted with those doctrines can object. That being the case, the principle on which Lord Stanley founded his system was this—that while it should be competent to patrons of schools to introduce the Bible, it should not be competent to them to enforce it as a school book during the hours in which school instruction is given to all the children. The plan is fully laid down in one of the reports of the year 1841, in which it is stated, that patrons possess the right to have the Scriptures used for instruction in whatever way they may think proper, provided the schools be open to all who are not disposed to assist at the reading of the Bible, and provided no child is compelled to attend to any religious instruction to which his parents and guardians may object. That is the principle on which those schools rest; and I submit that it is by no means a violation of conscience, for while it affords the children the means of receiving any religious instruction of which their parents may approve, it only provides that other children whose parents may disapprove of that instruction shall not be obliged to assist at it. The hon. Gentleman says it is a violation of conscience to clergymen of the Church of England and to many Protestant parents, that such latitude should be allowed. But it appears to me that that is not such a violation of conscience as would result from obliging a parent to send his child to receive a religious instruction of which he disapproves, or else debarring him altogether from receiving any education. I may illustrate what I mean by what occurred in France in the time of Louis XIV. The Protestants of Prance then said it was a violation of conscience to prohibit thorn from attending Divine worship and receiving religious instruction according to their own faith. This was a violation of their conscience, of which, I think, they had a right to complain. Louis XIV., on the other hand, said it was a violation of his conscience to allow any Protestants to receive religious instruction, or even to live in France; and he, therefore, confiscated their properties, and drove them into exile. That was manifestly a violation of conscience; but the phrase "a violation of conscience "is used in a totally different sense when Protestant clergymen say that it is a violation of their conscience to allow schools to receive public and unless the Roman Catholic children should be compelled to receive religious instruction from them. It is for that reason that I cannot think the members of the Established Church have a right to object to this system. They have certainly a right to say that, disapproving as they do of the system, they will not promote or allow the attendance at the schools of any children belonging to their communion, although I think that they would be wrong in taking that view of the matter. I certainly am glad to see that so eminent a person as Mr. Woodward has changed his opinion on the subject. But it is perfectly competent to clergymen of the Established Church to say that they will not favour attendance at those schools, and I cannot object to their so doing. What I object to is, that they should oppose a grant of public money to others who see no objection to those schools, and who think they can be carried on without any violation of conscience. I must notice one point to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred. He said, that not only was the Bible excluded from the National Schools as a school book, but that the Scripture extracts which in the year 1832 were recommended by Protestant and Roman Catholic archbishops, and other dignitaries of both Churches, and now enforced as school books—that is, that so long as they were employed as school books, we used to have speeches in this House, Motions in the House of Lords, and denunciations all over the country, to the effect that the Bible was mutilated—and that the mutilated Bible was forced, as a book of instruction, on the children of Irish parents. In order to remove that objection, the Commissioners determined that they would no longer enforce the reading of these extracts, and that although they believed the extracts were fairly made, and were calculated to convey useful instruction, they would not insist on their being used in the Irish National Schools. Under these circumstances, I think it is hardly fair on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman to argue, from the fact of those extracts being no longer used, that the supporters of the system care little for religious instruction. I admit that the hon. and learned Gentleman discussed the question very temperately; but I think it hardly fair that he should make it a ground of accusation against us that we have yielded to objections made by the right rev. Prelates and other distinguished personages. But then it is said, why not have a separate grant for schools connected with the Church of England, to which the members of that Church could send their children? Now that is a very plausible proposal; and if it could be adopted without doing a good deal of mischief, it would seem conformable to the system adopted in England. But the present system having been adopted as a national one, and having appointed the Archbishop of Dublin and others to conduct that system, I am afraid we could not admit of any grants in favour of Church schools without seriously injuring the national system we have established. I think the Archbishop of Dublin and others would be placed in a situation they could hardly hold if the proposal in question were adopted. I believe the result would be, that those who did not maintain the Church schools would come to be looked upon as not being good Churchmen, and the present national schools would in the course of time, become exclusively Roman Catholic, instead of being places for the combined education of Roman Catholics and Protestants. I think there was a good deal of reason in what was said by the hon. Member for Rochdale, that we must consider that the Protestant Church in Ireland is an endowed Church, and that the Protestants of Ireland have the means, if they think proper, of separating from the present combined system, and forming schools by subscription for the exclusive education of their own members. The hon. and learned Gentleman has shown that large subscriptions have already been raised for that purpose. I am sorry that any Protestants should have thought it necessary to withdraw their countenance from the national schools; but if they cannot conscientiously join in the support of those schools, I am glad they have created another system. I should certainly, however, feel very great difficulty in agreeing to any grant for the maintenance of the Church of England schools in Ireland, while we have the present combined systems of education in that country. I believe a similar proposal was made to the Government of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, and that he declined to carry it into effect. I suppose he felt that he could not with propriety adopt it. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a subject connected with the present question, but not immediately belonging to it. A charge has been made against the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that Church patronage in that country is given only to those who favour the system of national education. Now, I really cannot but think that there was great truth in the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex, that the greater portion of the Church dignitaries of Ireland are opposed to that system; and it certainly appears to me that as the Government wish to see the system of combined education flourish, and as they see there are many excellent and enlightened clergymen who have no chance whatever of promotion from the opponents of that system, it certainly appears to me that the Government is quite justified in favouring those men in its distribution of the Church patronage at its disposal. I believe it would be wrong absolutely to exclude from the Church preferment men of piety and learning who may object to the national system of education; but I am ready to defend the conduct of the Irish Government in preferring to the enemies of that system those clergymen who are its friends and supporters. It should be remembered, that those parties are exposed to great obloquy, and are obnoxious to the charge of acting in opposition to the conscientious views of the body to which they belong; and it requires a good deal of strength of mind and courage to support that obloquy. Many distinguished clergymen have, however, thought that the system is a useful one. For my part, I believe that a system which has now for sixteen years gone on increasing—which was sot on foot by Lord Stanley, which was carried on by the Governments of Lord Grey, of Lord Melbourne, and of Sir Robert Peel—which tends to unite Roman Catholics and Protestants—and which, were it not for those unfortunate prejudices of many clergymen, would tend still more to unite them—for my part I believe that such a system is worthy of the continued support of this House; and I should much regret any vote which would impair its efficiency and undermine its usefulness.


said, that having originally approved of the system, having watched its progress from the beginning, and having lately paid considerable attention to its working, he had no hesitation in saying that he thought it one of the best things that had ever been done for Ireland. He could not help, therefore, expressing his deep regret to find it opposed by men of character and station, and especially by clergymen, whose duty it was to promote concord and peace. The hon. and learned Gentleman had asked why they should not adopt the same system in Ireland as they had in England? In answer to which he begged to say, that of the two systems that in Ireland was undoubtedly the best; and that if any change was necessary it was in the system in England, not in Ireland. He hoped there would be a division on this question, just to prove how few hon. Members supported the Amendment.


begged to explain the circumstances connected with the hospital to which the hon. Member for Middlesex had referred. The hospital in question had been established in Dublin nearly 10 years ago, and was called the Adelaide Protestant Hospital. It was built by Protestants exclusively, with Protestant money; and the object was not merely to supply medical and surgical relief, but to administer religious consolation to the patients. This latter provision, of course, practically excluded Roman Catholics; but there was nothing in the rules which excluded them.


was astonished to hear from the hon. and learned Gentleman that there was no attempt on the part of Protestants in Ireland to proselytism, for every body was aware that at Trinity College no office of emolument was conferred upon any man who was not a Protestant. While professing to be a national university, it, in a country containing 7,500,000 of Catholics, 500,000 Protestants, and 500,000 Methodists and other Dissenters, declared that none but those who professed the Protestant creed should receive any emolument from it. Its income was 100,000l. per annum, and yet from the office of hall porter to that of Senior Fellow none were eligible but Protestants believing in the Thirty-nine Articles. A Roman Catholic might be a sizer, without a religious test; but when his four years of study were expired he was told that he must leave the college, for he was not qualified to be a candidate for any collegiate honours without receiving the sacrament according to the ritual of the Church of England. He might be told that Roman Catholics had been professors of languages in the university. But why? Because no Protestant could be found qualified to fill the office.

After a few words from Mr. NEWDEGATE in favour of the Amendment,

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes 118; Noes 15: Majority 103.

List of the NOES.
Burrell, Sir C. M. O'Brien, Sir L.
Dick, Q. Seymour, Sir H.
Grogan, E. Spooner, R.
Gwyn, H. Verner, Sir W.
Henley, J. W. Waddington, H. S.
Hood, Sir A. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Jones, Capt. TELLERS.
Mullings, J. R. Hamilton, G. A.
Newdegate, C. N. Napier, J.

House in Committee of Supply. Several votes agreed to.

House resumed, and adjourned at Two o'clock.