§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. COWAN
then rose and said, that in moving the second reading of this Bill, he wished to guard English Members against a misapprehension into which they were likely to fall on the subject. Only last week the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Heywood) introduced to the consideration of the House a measure somewhat similar in title to the present; and, in doing so, that hon. Gentleman took occasion to go into the question of religious tests as they bore upon civil offices in the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin; but, as the House was aware, owing to a fatality that occurred on that occasion—the "count out"—no decision was pronounced upon the question. He wished to state, for the information of English Members, who might not be aware of the fact, that there was scarcely any similarity between the constitutions of the Scotch and English universities, particularly with reference to their relation to the Established Churches of the respective countries. The students in Scotland were not required to reside within the walls of the colleges; neither wore they required to subscribe any religious tests, either at the commencement of their studies, or when they were about to receive honours or degrees. The Royal Commission, which was appointed by the Crown in 1826 to inquire into the Scotch universities, and which reported in 1830, stated that—There are few national institutions of long standing which have been more powerfully modified by the circumstances of the country than the universities in Scotland; and they have undoubtedly been gradually adapted, in an eminent degree, to the particular demands upon them, arising from the circumstances of the people for whose benefit they were designed. These universities are not now of an ecclesiastical character, or, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, ecclesiastical bodies. They are connected, it is true, with the Established Church of Scotland, the standards of which the Professors must acknowledge. Like other seminaries of education, they may be subject to the inspection of the Church on account of any religious opinions which may be taught in them. The Professors of divinity, whose instructions are intended for the members of the Established Church, are, in their charac- 1211 ter of Professors, members of the presbytery of the bounds, and each university returns a representative to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. But, in other respects, the Universities of Scotland are not ecclesiastical institutions, not being more connected with the Church than with any other profession. They are intended for the general education of the country, and, in truth, possess scarcely any ecclesiastical features, except that they have a certain number of Professors for the purpose of teaching theology, in the same manner as other sciences are taught. While, on the one hand, therefore, the proportion of students intended for the Church, and the importance of everything connected with the well-being of the Church of Scotland, render it essential to attend carefully to the interests of this class of students in any opinion which may be formed respecting the system of instruction in the Scotch Universities; on the other hand, it is to be kept in view that these universities are not framed on the principle of being mainly adapted for the education of the clergy. Neither constitutions, endowments, nor provisions for public instruction, are founded on the principle that the Universities are appendages of the Church.He wished now to make a few observations upon the tests which it was his object to repeal by the Bill now upon the table. In the seventeenth century, as they all knew, there was a long and fierce religious contest carried on in both divisions of this island between the Kings and Parliaments of that age—the principles involved in contest being the Divine right of Kings on the one hand, and the civil and religious liberties of the people on the other. When the Episcopalians had the ascendancy in Scotland, as they had at the time of the restoration of Charles II., they passed an Act excluding all persons from the chairs of the universities of that country, except those who were connected with the Episcopal Church, which was then attempted to be forced upon the people of Scotland. At the time of the Revolution things changed. The race of Stuarts was then exiled; King William came to the Throne, and he, though most reluctantly, consented to the establishment of Presby-terianism in Scotland. In 1690 a test was imposed by the Scottish Parliament upon all the Professors in the Universities, for the express purpose of excluding all Prelatists and Papists, who were generally hostile to the then existing Government; for, as hon. Members were doubtless aware, it was during the twenty-eight years that the prelatical party of Claverhouse, Dalyell, Sharpe, and Lauderdale, held sway in Scotland, that some of the best blood in that country was poured out. The object of the test imposed in 1690, then, was to prevent the intrusion of indi- 1212 viduals who were opposed to the religious rights and liberties of the people, and who were mostly Jacobites, desirous to bring about the restoration of the Stuarts, which indeed they attempted in 1715, and again thirty years later. Various individuals were ejected under that measure, in consequence of their known attachment to the prelatic cause, and to the Jacobite succession. One of the clauses of the formula which professors were obliged to sign on being appointed to the office was as follows: —And I promise that I shall follow no divisive course from the present establishment in this Church, renouncing all doctrines, tenets, and opinions whatsoever contrary to, or inconsistent with, the said doctrine, worship, discipline, or government of this Church.He begged the attention of the House to the words "follow no divisive course from the present establishment in this Church." Now, he denied that the Church as now established in Scotland presented any of the essential features which distinguished the Church of Scotland at the period when that formula was first imposed. In 1690 another Act was passed by the Scotch Parliament for the purpose of depriving individuals of the Church patronage which they had long possessed, and vesting it in the hands of the heritors and kirk-sessions of the several parishes. These latter bodies, he might mention, were not invested with the absolute right of presenting to the livings, but merely with the right of nomination, subject to the judgment of the presbytery of the bounds, and the acceptance of the people of each parish. But he begged the House to observe, that the patrons who were so dispossessed of the patronage, were in every case paid a suitable sum as an equivalent for the patronage they had surrendered. Now, it was well known that before the Commissioners for Scotland would consent to the Treaty of Union, they expressly stipulated that the doctrine and discipline of the Church as then established should remain fixed and unalterable in all time coming. The petition which had been presented that day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dovor (Sir G. Clerk) spoke of the abolition of University tests, which he (Mr. Cowan) proposed, as a violation of the Treaty of Union; but could there be a more infamous violation of the Treaty of Union, he asked, than that which was committed in 1711, when the British Parliament restored the Church patronage to 1213 the old patrons, against the solemn stipulations of the Treaty of Union in 1707, and without asking them to refund one halfpenny of the sum they received in 1690? And not only was that measure a direct violation of the Treaty of Union, but it had been the cause of all the dissensions which had subsequently taken place in the Church, and of the various secessions from it which had occurred. The first secession occurred in the year 1732; and that and all the subsequent secessions were clearly traceable to this gross violation of national faith. He held, indeed, that no dissent worthy of the name existed in Scotland. The various bodies which were separated from the Established Church had almost all been brought into that state of separation, not from differences of religious doctrine, but solely and entirely from the inroads which had been made by the civil power into the domain of the spiritual; by the oppression of the courts below, and the callousness and indifference of the last House of Commons, when redress from the usurpations of the Court of Session was craved in 1843. The last House of Commons had even refused to look at the claim of rights which was presented to them by the party which now constituted the Free Church. He believed that if the House had inquired into that matter, they would have seen, what many had no difficulty in seeing now, that the proceedings which drove that party from the Church, were the most violent outrage upon the rights and liberties of the people of Scotland. It was rather too late in the day to talk of the Treaty of Union as if it were still an integral compact between the two countries, seeing that, owing to the con-duct of the party to which hon. Gentlemen opposite belonged, it had already become little better than a piece of waste paper. The object of the Bill before the House was simply to declare that such things having taken place—that various bodies having, during the last century and in the present, been driven out of the Establishment by the oppressive acts of the civil power—it was but fair and just that they should not be allowed to suffer any further injury by their exclusion from the rights which, as British subjects, they were entitled to enjoy. What was the state of the case? he had referred to the test that was imposed by the Act of 1690, and which was ratified by the Act of Union in 1707, which test was intended to prevent 1214 Episcopalians and persons who were hostile to the Hanoverian succession from being admitted into the chairs of the universities of Scotland; but the fact was, that, in spite of those tests, a large number of Episcopalians did fill those chairs; and, he was glad to admit, filled them with credit to themselves and advantage to the country. Well, all he wanted was, that other Dissenters, whom the tests were never intended to exclude, should be also admitted to fill those chairs without let or hindrance. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis) appeared to assume, from some observations he made not long ago, that religion did not exist in Scotland beyond the pale of the Established Church. The hon. Baronet seemed to be ignorant of the immense religious efforts made by other bodies that were not in connexion with the State. As evidence of the efforts made by the Free Church to diffuse education and religion, he begged to state, without wishing to boast of the efforts of the body to which he had the honour to belong, that in the year ending March last there were no fewer than 1,671 Sabbath schools, 8,506 teachers, and 99,019 scholars, in connexion with that body, which, in the eight years ending March, had expended in various enterprises abroad and at home, 2,475,616l. The existence of tests in favour of the mother Church was assumed to be necessary, in order that the interests of religion might not suffer. But was it the fact that the imposition of tests did operate to prevent the intrusion of improper persons even into the Establishment? He understood that at the last meeting of the General Assembly of the Established Church, held only a few weeks ago, no fewer than six or seven ministers were deposed for heinous crimes; one was deposed for poaching on the Sabbath day. Others were deposed for offences of a gross and revolting character; and every one of these late rev. gentlemen had, before he could be ordained, taken these tests. Did he reproach the Established Church for that? No; on the contrary, he rather honoured her for having had the firmness to perform a duty doubtless of a most painful nature. But what did such cases prove on behalf of the system of tests? He maintained that the object of the Legislature ought to be to give equal rights and privileges to all— not exalting one body above another—but recognising merit wherever it was found, whether within or without the Church. 1215 He gladly bore his testimony to the good which the Establishment was doing in many respects, throughout the country; but he did not think that its power of doing good would be diminished by the abolition of tests, which, in their operation, had been found to be the greatest absurdity and mockery that could possibly be devised. In the case of the test to which he referred, it was required that the individual who was appointed to a professorship should sign his name to the Confession of Faith, and it was also required that the presbytery of the bounds should witness his signature. He believed that this constituted the whole of the relationship between the Established Church and the Universities, except in so far as the theological chairs were concerned, and these were exempted from the operation of this Bill. It had been said that no act of legislation was necessary in the matter, because the tests were inoperative. He acknowledged that, in the case of the University of Edinburgh, with which he was more immediately connected, no tests in the case of the secular chairs had been required for the last sixty or seventy years. And if that had been the case in Edinburgh for so long a period, without the slightest danger to the interest of religion, he submitted to the House whether it was wise to continue on the Statute book obligations of this kind, which were not required or carried out, but which, he begged the House to remember, might be carried out even by a minority of the patrons, or of the Senatus Academicus, who had the power under the present law, to go to the Court of Session and prevent the induction of any professor who did not engage to conform to the discipline and doctrine, and attend the ministry of the Established Church. Many Episcopalians, as he had said, had been appointed to University chairs in Scotland, but he submitted whether it was fair to exact from Episcopalians, who had already subscribed the articles of their own Church, a subscription to the articles of another Church which abjured prelacy altogether? In fact, he could hardly conceive how an honest man could consent to such a proceeding, unless he had entirely changed his views on church government. There was a case which occurred not many years ago which illustrated the absurdity of the existing system of tests. Mr. Fisher, a Fellow of Clare Hall, in the University of Cambridge, was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at St. Andrews. He 1216 appeared before the Presbytery of that district to sign the test; but, whether through some bungling, or not, he (Mr. Cowan) could not say, it turned out, that instead of signing the test which was adapted to Professors, Mr. Fisher had actually signed the test which was usually required from an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland, and by signing this test, he declared that Presbyterianism was the only right form of religion, and that Prelacy was a great and insupportable grievance. Mr. Fisher found himself thus placed between two fires; for the brethren of his own College having heard of the circumstance, proceeded against him, and, he believed, deprived him of his Fellowship in consequence. Another case had just occurred at Aberdeen. Mr. Fuller, of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, had been elected Professor of Mathematics in King's College, Old Aberdeen, and it appeared that he had signed the required test abjuring Prelacy with the greatest alacrity. Some individuals, he believed, signed the test as articles of peace—others' signed it in a non-natural sense—others signed it affirming in so doing that it contained the confession of their faith and a great deal more—and others as a mere act of politeness, a taking off of the hat, as it wore, in passing to Presbyterianism. The fact was, that the Confession of Faith, which the parties signed, was a large volume which, he believed, not one in fifty of them had ever read—a volume, indeed, of dogmatic theology, containing many abstruse points with which none but accomplished theologians could well be expected to grapple—and yet the mere putting of their name to this volume was held to be a security against the intrusion of improper and unfit persons into the university chairs! It was the greatest mockery and absurdity ever heard of in a civilised country. If the test could be made a bonâ fide one—if it could be made so as to secure the appointment of none but religious men—or, at all events, of men who would inculcate nothing hostile to religious opinions—let it be so framed; but he very much doubted whether it could be framed so as to have that effect, because it was impossible to look into men's hearts— their opinions being a matter solely between themselves and their Maker. He would now refer to a case which created great excitement in Scotland some years ago. At the Disruption in 1843, an accomplished individual, whom he (Mr. Cowan) had the honour and privilege to call his 1217 friend—he alluded to Sir David Brewster—felt it to be his duty, along with thousands of others, to leave the Church of his fathers, and take up his position in the ranks of the Free Church of Scotland. That gentleman was Principal of the United College of St. Salvador and St. Leonard in the University of St. Andrews. The Presbytery of St. Andrews immediately commenced proceedings against him, for the purpose of ejecting him from an office for which he was in every way so well fitted, and which he so eminently adorned. They served him with a libel, a copy of which he held in his hand. It consisted of between forty and fifty pages. This Presbytery—which, he believed had been neither remarkable for the purity of its morals nor the soundness of its faith, nor for that brotherly love which ought especially to be cultivated in such a community—endeavoured to eject this accomplished philosopher for having become a member of the Free Church. The libel, which, he might mention, was full of the most extraordinary errors from beginning to end, concluded as follows:—That the Senatus and Faculty of the University of St. Andrews, ought to be required forthwith to redress the evil which you have brought upon the Church, by taking all the steps competent to them for removing you from the office of Principal of the United College, and that the Senatus be required to report to the Presbytery, quam primum, what steps they have adopted to effect this, that you may be removed from your office, and visited with such other censure or punishment as the laws of the Church enjoin for the glory of God, the safety of the Church, and the prosperity of the University, and to deter others holding the same important office from committing the like offence in all time coming, but that others may hear and fear the danger and detriment of following divisive courses."The glory of God!" It was not the first time that the foulest crimes in history had been committed for the pretended purpose of the glory of God; and he thought that to eject a man of this kind—a man of a world-wide European reputation—a man who had been counted worthy to be elected a member of the Institute in France—a man who was at that moment engaged in unremitting labours from morning to night in the Crystal Palace, one who was always most willing as he was able to impart valuable scientific information from the rich stores of his mind—he did think that thus to proceed coolly and deliberately to eject a philosopher like that accomplished man, was one of the puniest and most unqualified 1218 pieces of bigotry that had ever been committed in this country. But their proceedings soon came to a stop. They found that they had no power to carry out what they had vainly attempted and threatened to do. Whether they had ever possessed the power, or whether the exercise of it had fallen into entire desuetude, it was found that they had no power to eject or get quit of an individual who might be false to his vows, or who might act unfaithfully or unworthily as a professor. He had, therefore, to submit to the House whether such a state of things as he had described ought to continue to exist, which was originally intended to exclude none but Prelatists and Jacobites, and which had long been found to be quite inoperative—which did not prevent any one from accepting office, for an infidel might take the test. He who had no respect or regard for those things would take it without scruple; but the honest and honourable man, who was not a member of the Church of Scotland, was, as they had seen in the case of Sir David Brewster, liable to be proceeded against, and, as in Sir David's case, to be annoyed and oppressed by what he would venture to call a very contemptible piece of persecution. He regretted much that the noble Lord at the head of the Government was not in his place at that moment, for he wished to make a few observations, which he would do very shortly, on a matter intimately connected with this subject—the very scanty endowment of the professorial chairs in the University of Edinburgh. Owing to the circumstance that the Edinburgh bishopric was founded at a later period than the other sees in Scotland, and that it had no revenues at the time of the institution of the Edinburgh College, which was the last but one college created, there were no funds then available for the endowment of the professors' chairs in such a way as he thought the cause of education in that University and the best interests of the country were entitled to. He found, from a paper which he held in his hand, that there were thirty-two Chairs in that University, divided into four Faculties; and that the whole of the endowments, the fixed aslaries of these Professors, was as follows:—The total amount of endowment was 2,024l. per annum, an average of less than 70l. to each Professor. The Principal of the College in Edinburgh had 111l; in Glasgow, 450l.; and in St. Andrews, 238l. The Professor of Humanity, in Edinburgh, had the miserable pittance of 25l., while in Glasgow he received 289l., and in St.An- 1219 drews, 219l. The Professor of Divinity, in Edinburgh, 196l.; in Glasgow, 425l. 10s. 7d.; in St. Andrews, 231l. The Professor of Logic, in Edinburgh, 52l; in Glasgow, 289l.; in St. Andrews, 219l.The consequence of all this was, that the Professors of Edinburgh were frequently taken away from that important sphere of usefulness to the comparatively obscure and unimportant University of St. Andrews; and he submitted to the Government—he was sorry that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department was the only Member of the Cabinet present—whether the University of Edinburgh had not a fair claim to their attention—whether a greater degree of liberality with respect to these Chairs would not have a beneficial operation on the best interests of the country at large; for he thought that it was a niggardly economy, and most unjust to Scotland, that the capital of his native country should be treated so unfairly, as compared, for instance, with the endowments of the new colleges in Ireland. He might state, in addition, that the Town Council of Edinburgh—the patrons of the University—had exercised their patronage wisely and well for many years past. He believed they had ever been anxiously desirous to seek out the best men—no matter what their creed, Presbyterian or Episcopalian—who would in the best manner uphold the reputation of Edinburgh as a seat of learning by their talents and reputation, notwithstanding the niggardly economy of the State. They could not afford to place the University in a situation where they could not command the highest order of talent, whether literary or scientific, especially as they were now placed in competition with the newly-created colleges in the southern part of the kingdom; and therefore feeling, as he did, a most anxious desire to promote the interests of this University, he did hope that the attention of the Government would be given to the subject, and that they would be induced to treat the University with a greater amount of liberality. To return to the question more immediately before them, he would only, if the House would allow him, refer to the opinions of one or two individuals on the subject of the test, which he thought were well worthy of the consideration of the House. He had before him the copy of a letter from one of the Professors of the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Robert Lee, Professor of Biblical Criticism, which he might add was ad- 1220 dressed to the Chairman of a public meeting which was held in Edinburgh to petition in favour of the measure now before the House—at least substantially the same measure—for it would be remembered that a Bill to the same effect was introduced by the late Lord Advocate, now Lord Rutherfurd, in 1845. In reference to that measure, Dr. Lee wrote this letter, from which he would only read the following short extract:—I have no hesitation in expressing my decided approval of the object you have in view, and my hearty wish that it may speedily be attained in all its extent. I am not able to conceive who is a gainer by the law as it now stands, or what party would be injured by its abrogation, whereas the hardship it imposes, and the evils of various kinds which it inflicts, are such that one may well wonder they can be overlooked or denied. To remove every unnecessary temptation to insincerity out of our neighbour's way, is a plain dictate of morality; and it is no less clearly a dictate both of justice and prudence, that conscientious men should not be placed by law in a worse position than others who are less scrupulous. The present law defends the universities and the studious youth against those Professors from whom they are in no danger; and it exposes both to that class of men from whom alone there is any danger to be apprehended. In all other cases, men are reckoned trustworthy, not according to their expressed opinions—much less according to opinions which some worldly object may tempt them to profess —but according to their actions; and conduct, not professed opinion, is generally held to be both the appropriate test of worth, and the proper subject of reward and punishment. Nor can I think that the Act of Security should form any barrier to the repeal of the present law. The Legislature has already abrogated so many provisions of that Act as had become inconsistent with the interests, and repugnant to the feelings, of the Scotch people—to promote whose interests and gratify whose feelings the Act was originally passed; and it appears to me an extravagant proposition that the British Legislature now has not all the powers possessed by the English and the Scotch Parliaments in the year 1707. On the whole, I have long been of opinion that the repeal of the present law, in so far as regards all the professorships of literature, science, and philosophy, is a measure demanded by justice, and dictated by prudence.He would not detain the House with reading all the opinions of eminent men which he now had in his possession; but he should like to read one letter which he had received that morning from Dean Ramsay, of Edinburgh—he supposed he might now, by favour of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, call him Dean of Edinburgh. That very rev. gentleman, from whom he had received the note, and who was well known as an able and eminent clergyman of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, said, in reference to the fact of the Lord Provost being in town— 1221I hope it is to help you to carry out two projects in which I know you are interested. The one for abolishing the form of tests for our universities in Scotland is surely a most desirable measure. Being myself an English University man, is the very reason why I am in favour of it, because the system on which the Universities in the two countries are founded being so entirely different, tests are absurd in Scotland as they are reasonable in England.The other subject to which the very rev. Dean referred, was the measure for abolishing the annuity tax, which he was also in favour of. He was sorry he had detained the House longer than he originally intended—it was with deep regret that he felt he had discharged a duty which he had at first reluctantly undertaken in so very imperfect a manner. If the Universities of Scotland had met with the same measure of liberality which had been extended to the Universities in the other divisions of the empire—if, like them, they had enjoyed the privilege of sending representatives to this House—then, whether the tests would have existed at all in the present day, which he greatly doubted, at all events they would in all probability have been addressed on this occasion by some distinguished member of University—by an individual, a member of University, who would have produced a much more favourable impression upon the House than he could hope to do; but he hoped the House would overlook his feeble advocacy of this measure, which, he felt, was absolutely necessary, and which might be more fitly passed now than it could have been done five or six years ago when the feelings of individuals, owing to then recent events, on both sides were painfully excited. He was glad to think that such a state of things did not exist now; and, in conclusion, he could only say that he hoped he had said nothing which could give pain to any individual, or any body of individuals; if he had done so, he would be most happy to retract these expressions.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. W. LOCKHART
felt it to he his duty to oppose a Bill which he believed to be destructive to the Christian and Protestant character of the Universities of Scotland, and indeed hostile to all religion. The religious opinions of professors of literature and science are, it appears, to be considered as of no consequence. Now, the hon. Member for the City of Edinburgh must have done some violence to his feel- 1222 ings when he undertook to promote a measure which is in direct opposition to the principles and practices of the Church of which he is a distinguished member. The late Dr. Chalmers, and the other leaders of the Free Church, wore at all times, and under all circumstances, the zealous supporters of those tests. As long as they remained in the Church, they advocated them, and when they seceded from it and founded a college of their own, they consistently provided that its Principal and Professors should conform to their opinions; but the hon. Member, in the whole course of his speech, has never alluded to that college. The time chosen by the hon. Member for the introduction of this measure is most unfortunate. These are not times in which the barriers of our Protestant constitution can be thrown down with safety; on the contrary, it is at this moment the duty of all Protestants to unite in upholding them. When a Bill identical with this was introduced soon after the disruption in the Church of Scotland, there were some circumstances, one of which has been mentioned by the hon. Member, which might perhaps he held to justify the interference of Parliament; but these circumstances no longer exist. Dissensions have happily ceased, and the Church itself is recovering from the blow it sustained in 1842. Hon. Members are aware that the melancholy results of the disruption were chiefly felt in the great towns. In Glasgow the number of seats let in the ten city churches were diminished by one half; but at the end of eight years they have again nearly reached the original number. The hon. Member has alluded, but in no terms to give offence, to the fact, that five clergymen of the Established Church were deposed by the last General Assembly. This is one of the results of that secession. A great number of parishes having been suddenly thrown vacant, it is not surprising that some individuals should have obtained preferment who were unworthy of it. He could not avoid mentioning that many worthy men now indulge in the hope that a reconciliation may at no distant day be effected between the Established and the Free Churches. This at least is evident, that every day that passes, such an event is rendered more probable. Neither has there been an expression of public opinion such as to justify interference with these tests. When the Bill already mentioned was thrown out, it was predicted that the table of the House would be loaded with peti- 1223 tions; but no one can contend that such has been the case. The Bill of the hon. Gentleman, although it excludes the Theological faculties, offers no sufficient safeguards even as to them; and it is obvious that with regard to patronage, and in other respects, they must be injuriously affected. Under the existing system the Universities of Scotland have ever been an honour to their country; and it may with safety be asserted that religious dissensions have never penetrated within their walls. It is altogether unnecessary, therefore, to follow the hon. Member through the various objections he has urged against the tests, or to occupy the time of the House in refuting his assertion that they are wholly inoperative. He has quoted largely from the Report of the Commissioners; but he has omitted to mention that their report was in favour of tests, and he totally misapprehends the purpose for which they were created by the Legislature. It was not in order to exclude Episcopalians, but to strengthen the National Church, and to secure for the youth of Scotland a sound religious education, that these tests were devised. This is a question, therefore, which does not affect the Universities only, but also, and chiefly, the Established Church. They bear the same relation to the Church of Scotland that the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and Trinity College of Dublin, bear to the United Church of England and Ireland, with this remarkable difference, that while the Legislature has left itself at liberty to deal with the English and Irish Universities, it has for ever excluded itself from interfering with those of Scotland. The Treaty of Union between England and Scotland —not a mere Act of Parliament—but a solemn treaty between two independent nations—expressly provides that they shall for ever remain in connexion with the Established Church. The hon. Gentleman has indeed said that the Treaty of Union was violated at the outset by the Act restoring patronage. Now, there is not one word about patronage from one end of it to the other in it. But there is another provision in that treaty—one of paramount importance—which the hon. Gentleman has carefully avoided to notice. The oath stipulates to be taken by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. The first act of our Most Gracious Queen, on ascending the Throne of this realm, was to take a solemn oath that she would for ever maintain inviolate all the rights and privileges of the 1224 Church of Scotland; and since this Bill has been placed on the table of this House, Her Majesty (as is stated in the petition of the General Assembly which has this day been presented by the right hon. Member for Dovor) has addressed a most gracious letter to that Venerable Assembly reiterating that assurance. The hon. Gentleman then read part of the Scottish Act of Parliament which relates to this subject, and which is engrossed in the Treaty of Union, and concluded by saying—that the rules of this House prevented any hon. Member from introducing a Bill which affected Her Majesty's pecuniary interests, without Her Majesty's permission; but did not prevent the introduction of a measure which was of more importance to our Most Gracious Queen than all Her Majesty's possessions. He submitted, however, that it was not decorous in any Member of the House to take that course, and that such a Bill, if introduced at all, ought at least to be introduced on the responsibility of Her Majesty's constitutional advisers. He had, therefore, no hesitation in moving that it be read a second time on this day three months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ MR. EWART
said, if it was not the intention of other Members to address the House on this question, he would not detain them long from a division; but before sitting down, he wished to answer one or two of the remarks which had been made by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. W. Lockhart). The hon. Member said that they were bound by the Treaty of Union not to do anything that was contrary to the letter and the spirit of that treaty. Now, he apprehended that it was competent for Parliament, in certain cases, and under certain circumstances, to act contrary to the spirit of the Treaty of Union; and, if he was not mistaken, that had already been done. He would waive, indeed, the instance of violation which his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Cowan) had quoted. He was not sufficiently learned in the Act to know whether the restoration of patronage did or did not violate the Act of Union; but, if he was not mistaken, there was a provision in the Treaty of Union by which the number of Members for Scotland was fixed at forty-five. [Sir GEORGE CLERK: Not less than forty-five.] What was the number of representatives 1225 Scotland now had? No fewer than fifty-three. Therefore the Treaty of Union had been violated by the Reform Act of Parliament; and the truth plainly was, that though the Treaty of Union was, in general cases, binding, yet if an alteration was found to be for the benefit of Scotland, then this Parliament had the power to make the alteration. It was also said that the measure of his hon. Friend (Mr. Cowan) would have the effect of destroying Protestantism; but he (Mr. Ewart) could not understand how religious freedom should be at variance with Protestantism, on which, indeed, Protestantism was based; and he believed that in every instance religious freedom was found to be favourable to the growth of Protestantism. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Lockhart) then said, that at some future and no distant time he hoped to see a union take place between the Established and the Free Churches of Scotland, and that if that should happen, there would be no necessity for this measure. But that was not the ground which his hon. Friend took in introducing this Bill: he understood that his hon. Friend objected on general grounds to all religious tests, and that even if the union between the two Churches were already consummated, still he would think it right to come forward and demand that the Universities of Scotland should be thrown open to Dissenters in general. He did not take the ground as between the Established and the Free Churches—he took the general principle of opening the Universities to all classes. Another objection was, that these tests operated for the advancement of religion; but he (Mr. Ewart) was not one of those who thought that religion was to be improved by tests. Religion was to be advanced by entering into the spirit and the heart and the intelligence of man—not by imposing upon them religious forms, but by making them Christians first, and then, certainly, some forms must be adopted. He considered, therefore, that the present Motion was one in accordance with religion, and in accordance also with the times in which they lived. He considered that they, as Scottish Members, were indebted to his hon. Friend (Mr. Cowan) for bringing this question forward, which was congenial to the enlightened times in which they lived, and in conformity with the wishes of their constituents. And if they would act in the spirit of their ancestors they would take care to adapt those institutions which their 1226 ancestors had bequeathed to them to the wants of the present age. With these views he had much pleasure in supporting the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
begged leave to say a few words. Having taken part some time ago in a Motion of this kind, and having supported a Bill involving the same principle as that which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowan) asked the House to assent to, he felt bound to state that the opinion which he then entertained as to that principle remained unaltered; and if the House went to a division, he should feel bound to support the second reading. At the same time, the House would remember that his (Sir G. Grey's) right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, who had brought forward a Bill of the same kind, and who was unfortunately prevented by indisposition from being present, had stated that the Government did not think that in the present Session it was expedient to press such a measure. He considered that the second reading of the Bill now would very inadequately express the real sense of the House upon the question. He doubted, therefore, the policy of the hon. Gentleman in bringing forward his measure at the present time, and he must say, that the present thin state of the House was not an index of the want of real interest being felt on this question; but it was that no one believed that this Bill was likely to pass during the present Session, and that the question, therefore, was not raised with any probability of success. With respect to the question itself, he believed that however useful or necessary these tests might have been at the time when they were originally instituted, the occasion for them had long since passed away, and their retention would not conduce to the advantage of the Universities themselves. If they were strictly enforced, the effect would be to exclude from the lay chairs many men eminent in literature and science, although that practical result was one which the good sense of the Universities had pro-vented from taking place. It was well known that persons not belonging to the Church of Scotland did hold chairs in the Universities, some without having signed the tests, whilst others had done so—in both cases showing that no real value was attached to them; and he was not aware that any practical inconvenience or danger to the Church had arisen in consequence. Such a measure as this would tend greatly to bring about that union of persons hold- 1227 ing different religious opinions which the hon. Member for Lanarkshire (Mr. W. Lockhart) considered to be so very desirable. If they were driven to a division, he should vote for the second reading; but he doubted the policy of taking the sense of the House upon the question at present.
§ MR. COWAN
said, with all deference to what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, he could not feel at liberty to withdraw his Motion. He had stated before that an expression of public opinion in favour of this measure had come from several bodies in the city which he had the honour to represent. Twenty-seven members of the Town Council voted in favour of the Bill, against three who voted for the previous question. The same result, he believed, had taken place in all the burghs of Scotland. If this were an ordinary question, or if this wore the first time the question had been introduced, he would have complied with the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet; but he thought the people of Scotland had a right to know what were the sentiments of the Scotch Members on this subject, and what were the sentiments also, or rather what were the doings of the House in reference to it. Though this was originally a Government measure, and though he had pressed upon them the re-adoption of it early in the Session, though he had delayed bringing the question forward, in the hope that the Government would yet be persuaded to take up their own measure, yet he must say he had not received from them that support which he thought he had a right to expect. He must, therefore, divide the House.
Mk. EDWARD ELLICE
said, he would detain the House but a very short time, but he rose to represent to his hon. Friend, that in the present circumstances, as stated by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, it would be advisable not to press the Motion to a division, because he thought that the House, in this its present state, would be no index, on a division, as to the interest felt in this question. For himself he was assured that something must be done, and therefore, being in favour of the Bill, and representing a University which he was bound to say would be benefited by it, he thought the question would now be placed at a disadvantage by a division.
§ MR. ALEXANDER HASTIE
said, he hoped his hon. Friend would not accede to the request that had been made to him, 1228 not to divide the House. The present state of the House might not be a sure test of its feeling on this subject, yet, at the same time, it would show the people of Scotland, who ought to know, how Her Majesty's Ministers acted when this measure was before them. He regretted very much that he had not heard all the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire (Mr. W. Lockhart). From what he had been able to pick up, it seemed to him that his hon. Friend considered this measure as opposed to the religion and the constitution of the country. But this Bill had no connection whatever either with the religion or the constitution of the country. The Theological Chairs of the Universities were altogether excluded from its operation; and with regard to the other chairs, he would ask his hon. Friend if a Dissenter might not be as well qualified to teach Mathematics and Natural Theology, or the Languages, as one who adhered to the Established Church? He was satisfied that in every University in Scotland there were Professors, of whom Scotland had just reason to be proud, who did not profess to be members of the Established Church. He held in his hand an account of the induction of a Professor in one of the Colleges at Aberdeen. The Gentleman who was so inducted was an Episcopalian; and he (Mr. A. Hastie) would inform the members of the House as to the state of doctrines which were held by the one class of religionists as compared with the opinions that were held by the other—the doctrines of the Episcopalians as compared with the doctrines of the Established Church of Scotland. The Episcopalians say—
§ 1st. That Her Majesty the Queen is chief governor over the ecclesiastical as well as the civil estates of the realm, and that her supremacy as judge extends over all persons and causes, spiritual as well as civil.
§ 2nd. That prelacy, or the government of archbishops, bishops, priests, and deacons, is the lawful constitutional government of the Christian Church.
§ These were the doctrines held by the Episcopalian: what did the Presbyterian say?—
§ 1st. That the Queen has no superiority at all over persons or causes spiritual. In a word, he passes from the honest profession of the thoroughly Erastian doctrine of the Queen's supremacy over archbishops, bishops, and priests, to the thoroughly Presbyterian doctrine of the spiritual su- 1229 premacy of the General Assembly of Ministers and ruling elders. This is in the bond, and must be subscribed as the confession of his faith in Church discipline, confirmed by William and Mary's first Parliament.
2nd. He must profess and subscribe to the discipline of the Presbyterian Church, as the "only discipline and government of Christ's Church within this kingdom;" and in order to render his recantation of Prelacy more clear and unequivocal, he delares—
that prelacie and the superiority of any office in the Church above presbyters, is, and hath been a great and insurmountable grievance and trowble to this nation, and, therefore, that it ought to be abolished," (and is abolished by law.)
Now, he should like to know how one and the same person could subscribe both to the one creed and the other, opposed, as these were, in so many essential points. But he supported this Bill because he considered that they were national universities, supported by national funds, and that, as such, they ought to be open to all the subjects of the realm. If these tests were rigidly enforced, every one would be excluded except the members of a Church which was in a minority among the Presbyterian bodies; and he was sure that even those who opposed the Motion were aware that the members of the Established Church were at the present moment in a miserable minority in Scotland, very different from what they were a few years ago. The tests assumed to exclude those who refused to take the oaths; but those who had no scruples upon the subject—those who had regard only to the emoluments—they would be ready to take any tests. He would only add further that the measure had his cordial support. He requested his hon. Friend to divide the House, and thus test the feelings of hon. Members on this measure.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 65; Noes 66: Majority 1.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Drumlanrig, Visct.|
|Anderson, A.||Duncan, G.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Ellice, E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Elliott, hon. J. E.|
|Brown, W.||Evans, W.|
|Campbell, hon. W.||Ewart, W.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Fergus, J.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||Fox, W. J.|
|Crawford, R. W.||French, F.|
|Dawes, E.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||O'Connor, F.|
|Guest, Sir J.||Pigot, F.|
|Harris, R.||Pilkington, J.|
|Hastie, A.||Romilly, Col.|
|Hatchell, rt. hon. J.||Scully, F.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Smith, J. B.|
|Heywood, J.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Heyworth, L.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Higgins, G. G. O.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Howard, P. H.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Hume, J.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Jackson, W.||Thompson, Col.|
|Johnstone, J.||Traill, G.|
|Keogh, W.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Kershaw, J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Willcox, B. M.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Williams, W.|
|M'Taggart, Sir J.||Willyams, H.|
|Melgund, Visct.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Cowan, C.|
|O'Brien, Sir T.||Hastie, A.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Gwyn, H.|
|Arkwright, G.||Hallewell, E. G.|
|Bailey, J.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Baird, J.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Henley, J. W.|
|Beresford, W.||Hope, Sir J.|
|Booker, T. W.||Jones, Capt.|
|Bremridge, R.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Long, W.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Campbell, Sir A. L.||Mackie, J.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Macnaghten, Sir E.|
|Chatterton, Col.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Cholmeley, Sir M.||Napier, J.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Sandars, J.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Dod, J. W.||Spooner, R.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Stafford, A.|
|Duncuft, J.||Stanley, E.|
|Dundas, G.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Du Pre, C.G.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Farrer, J.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Floyer, J.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Forbes, W.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Forester, hon. G. C. W.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Young, Sir J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Gooch, E. S.||TELLERS.|
|Gordon, Adm.||Lockhart, W.|
|Grogan, E.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
§ Words added; — Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.—Second Reading put off for three months.