HC Deb 20 May 1852 vol 121 cc838-50

Order read, for resuming the further Proceeding on Amendment proposed to be made to Question [19th May],"That the Debate on Amendment proposed to be made to Question [11th May], 'That a Select Committee be appointed, to inquire into the system of Education carried on at the College of Maynooth:'—(Mr. Spooner:) —And which Amendment was to leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words * this House will resolve itself into a Committee, for the purpose of considering of a Bill for repealing the Maynooth Endowment Act, and all other Acts for charging the Public Revenue in aid of ecclesiastical or religious purposes—(Mr. Anstey) — instead thereof,'—be adjourned till Wednesday the 16th day of June next:"—And which Amendment was to leave out the words "Wednesday the 16th day of June next," in order to insert the words "Wednesday next," instead thereof:—Question again proposed, "That the words 'Wednesday the 16th day of June next' stand part of the Question."

Further Proceeding resumed.


objected to the postponement of the question to the 16th of June. The Motion had been introduced by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) in a speech—but he could scarcely call it a speech, because it was principally composed of extracts from certain works which had reference, he believed, to the Catholic religion. The speech delivered by the hon. Gentleman was a speech which, in his (Mr. Reynolds') judgment—and he spoke as a Roman Catholic Member of the House—was calculated to insult the whole Catholic body. It appeared to him to be a speech of unadulterated, malignant bigotry, and in the manner of the delivery, as well as the matter, was extremely offensive. When Gentlemen over the way were exhibiting symptoms of impatience, he begged to remind them that they had heard all the libels and filthy and abominable calumnies contained in that speech, not only with patience, but with smiles of approval. He had hoped that the discussion would have terminated on that day, or that night, or that morning, because if it had, he believed it would have terminated in affirming the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire; but it suited the taste of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department to make a long speech upon that occasion, which he could only characterise as a No-Popery speech. Since then the House had been addressed by the right hon. Gentleman who had the honour to be the leader of the House, Her Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer, who threw the shield of his protection over the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and declared that he meant no offence against the Catholics of that House or against the Catholics of the United Kingdom. He (Mr. Reynolds) took it for granted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer understood the right hon. Gentleman better than he (Mr. Reynolds) did, because the construction he put on the speech of that high official functionary was this—that the country demanded an inquiry—that it would not be safe for the Government to refuse that inquiry—and that they should go with the current of public opinion. But the right hon. Gentleman went much further; he referred to what he called the conduct of the Catholic clergy and bishops since the year 1845, when this House affirmed the proposition of a great and liberal and enlightened statesman now deceased (Sir Robert Peel). The right hon. Gentleman said, on that occasion, that he doubted whether faith had been kept with that House by the Catholic authorities of Ireland; but he (Mr. Reynolds) would remind the House that the charge, if it were a charge, was not brought by the mover of this proposal, of their being any violation of the compact—if it were a compact, and he (Mr. Reynolds) denied that it was—of 1845. The hon. Mover of the Resolution referred to various matters connected with Catholic discipline, and entertained some, disgusted others, and pandered to the bigotry of a few, by reading several pages, or extracts of pages, headed "Instructions for the Confessional." Now, he (Mr. Reynolds) would remind the House that that was a matter with which the grant had nothing to do. He understood the grant to have been made for the education of Catholic ecclesiastics, according to the practice of the Catholic religion. But what was the Motion? "To inquire into the system of Education pursued at the College of Maynooth." He would remind the House that in the year 1827 a Royal Commission was appointed for that distinct and specific purpose. Seven Royal Commissioners were appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the system of education at that college, and at the head of that Commission was Mr. Frankland Lewis. The Commissioners proceeded to Ireland, in the fulfilment of their mission, and made an inquiry at Maynooth, which was spread over the space of two months. They examined every man connected with the college, from the highest professor to the humblest student, and they adjourned from the college to the city of Dublin, and continued their inquiries there. The evidence taken before them, together with the report they made, namely, the Eighth Report of the Commissioners of Education of Inquiry, was to be found in the library of the House, and was spread over 486 folio pages. ["Question!"] The hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford (Mr. Bro-therton) cried "Question!" he (Mr. Reynolds) did not hear him cry "Question" before he changed sides; but he had heard him often and often, and sometimes with pain, cry "Question" when he desired to cut short any hon. Member who was endeavouring to vindicate Irish liberties. If they agreed to the postponement to the 16th of June, the debate was not likely to come on on that day, because it was likely that Parliament would be dissolved before that day. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen might have better official information than he possessed. The hon. Gentleman—and he might call him also gallant—the Member for Ennis, said "No!"— [The O'GORMAN MAHON: NO, no; decidedly not.] And he might be in the political baby-house, and might know of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government better than he (Mr. Reynolds) could pretend to know them. ["Question!"] The hon. Gentleman cried "Question!" and he (Mr. Reynolds) was speaking to the question. He believed that House would cease to exist before the time fixed, and he was desirous that the calumnies uttered against his creed and his country should not remain unanswered until it was impossible to answer them. [Laughter.] He was delighted to find that the loudest cheerers of that which was probably construed to be an Irish bull, were Gentlemen who had been born and reared in the same country. But, he would ask, was it fair towards him and those of his creed to ask for this debate to be adjourned until the 16th of June, believing that this Parliament would not be in existence on that day? Let it not be supposed that he shrunk from this inquiry. He believed there was nothing connected with the system of education at Maynooth, that the Catholic bishops, and clergy, and the Catholic people of Ireland, had a right to be ashamed of. They challenged inquiry, for they believed that inquiry must result to the advantage and honour of the college. But they believed inquiry was not the object of the Motion. They believed that party feeling was at the bottom of the Motion—that, because hon. Gentlemen opposite had failed in raising the cry of "Protection" for human food, they had raised the cry of "No Popery, and the College of Maynooth." He believed they had done so; and he founded his belief on the fact that on the 10th of February last a notice of Motion was given to withdraw the grant, and that that Motion had been pared down and reduced to an inquiry into the system of education pursued in the College of Maynooth. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire was stated to be ill, owing to an accident; but why was he not here? He understood the hon. Member had been the victim of a cab establishment. He understood that the hon. Member had been run over by a cab, and some persons had been sufficiently ill-natured to say that he had been run over by an Irish cabman. But if he was sufficiently well, he ought to be in his place, because he had a great deal to answer for; he had to answer for opening wounds well-nigh closed, and for propagating feelings of ill-will, discord, and disunion among Christians of all denominations in this country, of which they surely had had enough last year. He was supporting the Motion that the question should be gone into on Wednesday next, and not on Wednesday the 16th June. He might be told that next Wednesday was the Derby-day; but he considered that the settlement of a question of this kind was of vast deal more importance than horse-racing. Therefore, if Gentlemen were in earnest, let them settle this question next Wednesday, or even to-night; but let them not be told that it should be brought forward on the 16th of June, when the parties promising it had not the shadow of an intention to bring it forward on that day. In conclusion, he would say that the Catholic bishops of Ireland were unanimously of opinion that they had nothing to fear from any inquiry that House might institute; but they totally denied that the House of Commons had any right to meddle with their system of instruction, and declared that they would never permit Parliament, directly or indirectly, to dictate to them as to the manner which might suit their ideas to educate the youth intrusted to their charge. He might say, as an individual, that whenever the proposal should be made to withdraw the Maynooth grant, he should vote for it upon one condition, and one only, namely, that every grant made by the State for the support of any particular religion or sect should be withdrawn also, and that they should abolish the temporalities of the Protestant Church in Ireland. Give them all a clear stage and no favour; then, and not till then, would he ever consent to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire.


would confine himself to the question whether it was not advantageous that this matter should be brought to a close in a fair manner and as speedily as possible. Did any man believe, if the inquiry were to be postponed till the 16th of June, that it could be brought on at all this Session? Next Wednesday was certainly an unfortunate day to be fixed on, being the Derby-day; but he would prefer even discussing the question on that day rather than postpone it to the 16th of June. Nay, he would rather than that there should be any delay, have the matter brought forward on a Saturday. It must have been the impression of the House that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department was in favour of the views of the mover of the original Motion; after that came the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, modifying that impression. Probably at some civic feast they would have a speech from the Prime Minister himself, in which he would comment on and correct the opinions of his two Colleagues; so that the Government would formally go to the country on these three explanations on the important subject of the Maynooth Grant. This was an unfair state of things, especially to Ireland, where he was above all things anxious that the spirit of religious warfare should not be revived. If in this country political rivalry drove men to extremities, what must be the destructive consequences of political and religious rivalries combined in Ireland? He was anxious that the House should meet on this question upon Christian grounds and as Christian brethren. He thought a Parliamentary Committee was not the mode for conducting an inquiry of this nature; still less did he think that the Committee proposed by the hon. Member (Mr. Spooner) was calculated to produce any good; on the contrary, he believed it would produce much mischief, by introducing the odium theologicum into the question.


observed, that the House, which had been listening to the hon. Member (Mr. Reynolds), who had been rambling over all manner of subjects, would do well to revert to the question before it. When he suggested that to the hon, Member (Mr. Reynolds), they all saw how he turned on him; and if he (The O'Gorman Mahon) was not endowed —as, thank God, he was—with an exceedingly complaisant temperament, and a large fund of good humour, which enabled him to endure every outrage—and the House would agree with him that these combinations were much required—he did not know how he could have borne with the hon. Member's conduct; though, to be sure, his outrage was mitigated by the grace of his manner, the elegance of his language, the courtesy of his phrases, and the charms of a toute ensemble which would almost reconcile one to the reception of a wrong done with such good breeding, so much eloquence, and so much courtesy; and but for which the Speaker would have been the first to call him to order. However, the hon. Member had enjoyed and would continue to enjoy impunity so far as he (The O'Gorman Mahon) was concerned. As to the question before the House, he must first say he could not join in the sentiments which had been expressed with regard to the hon. Member who had introduced it; for he could not forget that when the hon. Member (Mr. Reynolds), and others, were ignorant of the feelings of English gentlemen, and while he (The O'Gorman Mahon), and a few Roman Catholic gentlemen, were struggling for their rights, the hon. Member (Mr. Spooner) had always been a stanch advocate on their side, and had supported emancipation. His present course was not inconsistent; he believed that certain doctrines were taught at Maynooth, and he desired an inquiry. To that, he thought they could not object. Though he (The O'Gorman Mahon) was educated in a Jesuit college, he must say he never had heard of such doctrines; and he had no hesitation in saying, if they were circulated at Maynooth, it was an establishment fitter to raise a priesthood for such cities as Sodom and Gomorrah, rather than for a Roman Catholic people. If such doctrines were taught, the sooner so vile a system was exposed, the better; if not, the sooner the falsehood was exposed, the better too. He wished to bring the question to a speedy issue, and therefore he would support the Amendment. Let them be treated with candour by the British Parliament, and let them have a fair investigation and an immediate decision.


appealed to the hon. Member (Mr. Newdegate), as an English gentleman, to say what good purpose he could gain by keeping the question open? It was evident that it could not be disposed of in the present Parliament. He knew, from his character, that he (Mr. Newdegate) would scout with indignation the notion of keeping such a question in suspense for the purposes of party, or to serve for a cry at the elections.


hoped that the House would allow him to answer the question of the hon. Member. The position of the question was this: whether the House would express an opinion on the necessity of inquiring into the system of education at Maynooth? A great body of the public was anxious to know if the House would, by a Resolution, declare whether they considered there was a necessity or not for an inquiry. He had not the least wish to postpone the solution of that question; and he was desirous of having a time fixed for renewing and concluding the discussion. But he and other hon. Members who took an interest in the question were bound to see, when the question came on for discussion, that it should come on upon a day when there would be a full House, not upon a day when there would be a scanty attendance, or the chance of a thin division. Acting in the spirit of fair play to the hon. Member whom he represented, and to all parties, he was bound to see that the discussion took place in a full House. He had no objection to Wednesday next beyond the circumstance of its being a day not usually devoted to discussion. It was that reason which had led him to fix the subject for the 16th June. He was well assured Parliament would not separate until that day, and he felt confident there would be a full discussion and a corresponding-division. He could assure the House his only desire was to see that the question received no unfair play. That was the reason of fixing upon the 16th June.


was glad the hon. Member had responded to the appeal, though he could not say he was satisfied with his answer. No men were more interested in the rejection of the Motion than the hon. Member and those who acted with him. What was his reason for postponing the debate to the 16th June? Because he wanted the discussion to take place in a full House, and would not take Wednesday next. The hon. Member spoke as if Wednesday next was the only available day. He trusted that under no circumstances would the House consent to adjourn the debate to the 16th June; for, if they did, they would agree with what would go far to render the character of the House ridiculous. The Motion for such a postponement raised a question, not as to the sincerity of the mover, but as to the reality of his objects. Was it possible that he could think it consistent with the dignity of the House, and the respect they owed to the feelings of all classes of the people, that on a matter deeply involving their interests it should be proposed that the House should assent to a Committee of Inquiry on a day which every one believed was not more than ten days or a fortnight before a dissolution of the Parliament. The hon. Gentleman had one of two courses open to him. He really wished that this inquiry should go on, or he did not; and he (Mr. Gladstone) was really doubtful, after what had occurred, whether the hon. Gentleman did wish for it. When first it had been brought forward, he (Mr. Gladstone) believed it to be a bonâ fide Motion; he expressed his opinions upon it with that feeling—knowing, too, that the question was one of the most serious character: if it was not a bonâ fide Motion, let it be discharged; but if it was made bonâ fide, it was their duty to find a day for it. The hon. Gentleman said there was a difficulty in finding a day upon which they could renew the discussion; but he (Mr. Gladstone) wanted to know when there was ever found a difficulty in discovering a day for the solution of a great question, upon which the feeling of the country was thoroughly aroused, and which occupied the most prominent position in the minds of almost every constituency throughout England. Upon such a question as this, was the House and the country to be told that no day could be found for its discussion? We were now probably within a month of the end of Parliament; and what had been the uniform practice of the House towards the close of the Session? Why, that about six weeks before that period they began to meet at twelve o'clock in the day, and met also on Saturdays. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: Will you move that we do so now?] It was for the hon. Member to point out the course he would take, which was one of two things: either to consent to drop his Motion, and to agree that the order should be discharged; or, if he wished-—as he (Mr. Gladstone) wished—that the inquiry should proceed, then let the hon. Gentleman simply ask the House to meet either on a Saturday or on Tuesday next at twelve o'clock; and when the House had refused that request, let him talk of the "difficulty" of finding a day for renewing this debate. The House would be rendered contemptible in the eyes of the country if they attempted to escape by such pretexts from coming to a decision upon this important question.


said, it was not the fault of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire that he was unable to fix an earlier day for this discussion. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that he was quite unable to give a Government day, suggesting, however, that a Tuesday might be fixed; but it was perfectly clear that it would be useless to appoint Wednesday next, when there was sure to be a thin attendance.


said, the hon. Gentleman appeared to have misunderstood the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. That right hon. Gentleman had not proposed that the House should meet on Wednesday next to discuss this question; on the contrary, he was as well aware as any hon. Member in the House of the absurdity of their meeting to discuss the question on the day proposed by the hon. Member for Youghal (Mr. C. Anstey). He observed numerous ambassadors from different parts of the House were recommending various courses to the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. They were now at the close of a moribund Parliament, without having come to any decision upon a Motion which was put upon the books at the commencement of the Session. They were now in the penultimate month of the Session, having discussed only one night a question which had been two months before the House, and in which the country took the deepest interest. What the right hon. Gentleman for the University of Oxford had suggested was, that they should meet to discuss this question at a morning sitting. If the hon. Member for North Warwickshire was really anxious to have the question fully discussed, let him not propose to discuss it three or four days before the dissolution of Parliament. Even if the House should, on the 16th of June, consent to grant a Committee, the selection of the hon. Gentlemen who should compose that Committee, must necessarily give rise to considerable discussion. Let the hon. Member throw off the mask. Let him not fancy that he could delude the country by proposing to have a discussion when no real discussion could take place; but let him adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Member (Mr. Gladstone), and ask the House to consent to a morning sitting. Let him ask the House to sit upon Saturday. Let them, after all the shuffling which had taken place on the other side of the House, really name some early day on which the question could be fully discussed, so that they might arrive at a satisfactory conclusion; but he believed in his conscience that nine-tenths of hon. Members wanted to escape from any conclusion at all.


thought it was of very great importance that the House should come to some practical decision on this question. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), that if the discussion were postponed until the 16th of June the proposed inquiry would be rendered entirely futile; but he also thought that the other day which had been suggested, namely, Wednesday next, would, for reasons which were apparent, render it much more futile, since it could not be expected that any serious discussion would take place on that day. What was the House to do, then? They were nearly approaching the end of the Session; ail agreed that a practical decision should be come to, and all agreed that no practical conclusion could be come to if the discussion were postponed until a few days before the Parliament was dissolved. In this position only two courses seemed open. The one was, either to discharge the order altogether, or to move the adjournment of the debate to the next day, for the purpose of giving the hon. Member for North Warwickshire an opportunity of considering what morning or what day he could select. [An Hon. MEMBER: No, no; fix a day.] As far as he (Mr. Walpole) was concerned, he had not the slightest objection that the hon. Member should fix a day, and he should be the last person in the world to wish that any further discussion on the Motion should be entirely prevented, because he saw that the opponents of the Motion were desirous of addressing some observations to the House upon the subject. He would take this opportunity of saying that his (Mr. Walpole's) speech on this question a few evenings since had been very much misrepresented, and he was convinced that those who heard it would not put upon it the construction which some hon. Members had given it. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had correctly described the construction to be put upon it. He thought a day ought to be appointed for the renewal of the debate, and the earlier the day the better it would be.


hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman behind him (Mr. Anstey) would withdraw his Motion for resuming the debate on Wednesday next. It was very clear now, that the whole matter as regarded the choice of the day rested with the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Newdegate); and he thought the very earliest possible day ought to be named. If the hon. Gentleman did not accept now the offer—for it was an offer —made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, it would be said that there were two great questions upon which hon. Gentlemen opposite proposed to make their appeals at the hustings—one the question of Protection, and the other that of the May-nooth grant. The one they had thrown over; the other they evidently desired to postpone. As far as they (the Opposition) could prevent that postponement they would do so, encouraged as they were by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole). The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other day in that House that he had no intention to withdraw the grant to Maynooth; but the walls of Liverpool were placarded with the declaration of one of the Members of the present Government that he was prepared to vote for the withdrawal of the grant to Maynooth.


said, he did not shrink from the opinion he had expressed privately to his hon. Friend (Mr. Newdegate) that it was most important an early day should be fixed for resuming the debate. As this view also met with the concurrence of the Government, he hoped his hon. Friend would propose to resume the debate on Tuesday next, at 12 o'clock. He would only say, in conclusion, to hon. Members opsosite (the Irish Roman Catholic Members), that if it had not been for the unfortunate Papal aggression he believed hon. Gentlemen would not have heard of this Motion.


thought the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire not so unfortunate as his speech. He believed that the proposed inquiry into the system of education at Maynooth would raise a bad feeling and ill will in Ireland, and the question ought therefore to be decided at once.


moved that the adjourned debate upon the grant to Maynooth be resumed on Tuesday next, at 12 o'clock.


consented to withdraw his Amendment.


expressed his concurrence in the adjournment of the debate to Tuesday next, at 12 o'clock.

Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn; —Debate further adjourned till Tuesday next at 12 o'clock.