HC Deb 26 April 1853 vol 126 cc558-617

said, he would state as briefly as possible the reasons he had for now adopting the course of proposing a Select Committee to inquire into the working of the national system of education in Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen who were Members of the last House of Commons might recollect that on several occasions he (Mr. Hamilton) had felt it his duty to press this important subject on the consideration of the House, but in a different shape. On all former occasions he had moved that an Address be presented to the Crown, setting forth that large numbers of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland entertained conscientious objections to the national system of education as at present carried into operation, and praying that Her Majesty would be pleased to take their case into consideration, and direct that such a modification of the system might be made as would remove those conscientious objections; or otherwise, that means might be taken to enable those of the clergy and laity of the Established Church, who entertained those conscientious objections, to extend the blessings of Scriptural education in Ireland. That Motion was supported by a considerable number of the Members of the last Parliament. He believed it was supported by more than 200 Members, and it would not be denied that the question was acquiring increasing interest. He had intended on the present occasion to confine himself to a statement of the grounds on which he thought such an inquiry as he proposed ought to be instituted. But the Amendment of which the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox) had given notice, but which had mysteriously disappeared, rendered it necessary for him (Mr. Hamilton) to say a few words as to what the national system of education was, which the hon. Member proposed to extend to this country. The House had recently heard from the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) a most interesting history and account of the progress and state of education in England, and of the principles on which it was conducted. The noble Lord had stated that the principle, as regards the education of the lower classes in this country, was, that it is conducted by the voluntary efforts of the great religious bodies, aided by the State. The noble Lord had further stated most truly, that the people of this country acted with a right instinct when they declared openly that there should be religious training in their schools, and that this religious training should comprise all the great doctrines of Christianity; and further adverting to the plan of bringing children of different religious denominations together for secular instruction, and leaving them to be instructed separately in religion, the noble Lord had stated most truly that it was in school children must learn the rules of religion and morality; that under the system proposed, sufficient time would not be afforded for religious instruction; and that, consequently, the great and most important end of education would not be sufficiently attended to. In conformity with the sound principles thus laid down by the noble Lord, public aid is granted in England either to the Church of England schools in connexion with the National Society, or to schools in connexion with the British and Foreign School Society, or the Wesleyan and Congregational bodies, or to Roman Catholic schools, through the Catholic Poor School Committee, and, latterly, he believed, to Jewish schools. With regard to each of these, except the Roman Catholics, it is a condition, either embodied in the trust deed, and thus affirmed and insisted on in the strongest manner, or otherwise provided as an indispensable condition, that the Holy Scriptures, and the Old Testament, in the case of Jewish schools, should form a part of the instruction of every child. It is, therefore, undoubtedly the case that, in England, the State on the one hand requires, and the managers of all schools except Roman Catholics, on the other hand insist equally, that the Holy Scriptures should form an essential part of instruction in those schools. In Ireland, it was very remarkable, as regards the national schools, that this very condition, so indispensably required by the State, and by all patrons and managers of schools in England, is an insuperable bar to any aid being granted to a school; and that the very course and time of religious instruction, which the noble Lord had so truly described as insufficient in England, was all that could be afforded according to the rules of the National Board in Ireland. It was not, therefore, to be wondered at that the hon. Member for Stockport should propose his Amendment, because, according to the noble Lord, the national system in Ireland, supposing its rules were strictly acted upon, would be little better than the secular system advocated by the hon. Member; at all events, if the Amendment were adopted, and the Irish national system introduced into England, the State will no longer be able to insist, nor can any clergyman, whether of the Church of England or of any Protestant denomination, require, that the Bible shall form a part of the instruction of the children attending his school; and, further, if he was not greatly misinformed, the restriction was now carried still further, and the veto of the parent of any child attending any school with reference to any book supposed to have any religious tendency, is held to render the exclusion of that book imperative at the period of united instruction. Instead of referring to the rules of the Board, with regard to the exclusion of the Bible, he would give an illustration which he thought would be conclusive on this point. The incumbent of a parish in the county of Limerick, a warm advocate of the national system, on being appointed to the benefice, found a national school there which he was desirous of joining, but for reasons which have no immediate reference to the illustration, he was unable to effect his object. Being disappointed in this, there was another school in his parish which he was anxious to bring into connexion with the national system. It was attended by sixty children, Protestant and Roman Catholic, and its rules were cordially approved of by all the parents. The rules were as follow:—1. The school shall be open to the children of all religious denominations, 2. That all the children at- tending the school shall learn, in addition to the usual school business, portions of the Holy Scriptures. 3. That no Roman Catholic child or Protestant dissenter be induced, contrary to the wishes of its parent, to learn the Church Catechism, in which all the members of the Church are instructed on Saturdays. The clergyman forwarded a copy of these rules to the Commissioners, and received the following reply:—"We are to inform you, that the 2nd rule (that all the children attending the school, shall learn, in addition to the usual school business, portions of the Scriptures) is incompatible with those of the National Board, as regards religious instruction." The clergyman then submitted a copy of his application, and the answer, to Lord Clarendon, then Lord Lieutenant, in the hope that his Excellency might induce the Commissioners to take the school into connexion; but received a reply from the private secretary, to the effect that this could not be done without violating the rule of the National Board with regard to the reading of the Scriptures. Now, here was a case which he thought was perfectly conclusive on the subject; a clergyman anxious to become connected with the national system, a mixed school of Roman Catholics and Protestants—the parents of all agreeing to the rule with regard to Scriptural instruction, and yet the rule, that under such circumstances the Scriptures should be read, is made an insuperable bar to the school being taken into connexion with the National Board, first by the Commissioners, and their decision confirmed on appeal by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. This short reference to the national system, and illustration of its working, would be sufficient, he hoped, to explain to the House what' they were to expect in England if the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport was carried; and it would, perhaps, explain also, in some degree, why he (Mr. Hamilton) had felt it his duty to press the subject on the consideration of the House in the Motions he had repeatedly made. The arguments, to recapitulate them very briefly, by which those Motions were supported, were these:—1st. It was urged, that notwithstanding great inducements and great advantages, during a period of twenty years, the clergy and laity of the Established Church had found it impossible to connect themselves with the national system. They had repeatedly and conscientiously declared that they were prevented, by conscientious and religious motives, considering, as they did, that the national system, by imposing restrictions upon the use of the Holy Scriptures, involved a principle contrary to the great principle of the Reformation, and at variance, in the opinion of some, with the construction of their vows at ordination. And it was further urged, that the widest toleration being now the principle of the educational system in England—that the clergy of the Established Church being permitted and encouraged to establish schools on their own principles, and receive aid from the State—that Dissenters being permitted and encouraged to establish schools according to their own conscientious convictions, and receive aid from the State—and Roman Catholics being permitted and encouraged to establish Roman Catholic schools without any restriction or interference, as regards any religious instruction, except the reasonable understanding that religion should be taught: it seemed monstrous and unjust that the religious convictions of the members of the Church of England in Ireland should be disregarded, and that in Ireland they, and they only, should be placed in a worse position than the dissenters or Roman Catholics in England; and the third argument that was used was this, that it was unreasonable to suppose that the national system of education in Ireland was really a mixed or united system, as it professed to be. He had quoted the highest Roman Catholic authorities to show that the Roman Catholics are just as much averse to any mixed latitudinarian system of education as any Protestants can be; that they consider, as he (Mr. Hamilton) did, that the great object of education is to impress upon the youthful mind the great principles of religion; that this cannot be done by excluding religion, or making it subsidiary or secondary to secular instruction; and that however important and desirable a mixed system of education might be, it ought to be abandoned if found incompatible with that which is the great end and object of education; and he had, therefore, urged that such being the acknowledged principles of the Roman Catholic Church, it could not be supposed that the 3,000 schools under the patronage of Roman Catholic clergymen were other than schools in which the Roman Catholic religion was fully and effectually taught, and therefore, obviously, they were not schools to which Protestants could resort. With regard to the objec- tion entertained by the Roman Catholic clergy to any united or mixed education, he would quote one other authority of a very high description. Archbishop Cullen, in his pastoral letter addressed to his clergy, expressed himself as follows:— The right of instructing the faithful in the truths of religion, and of resisting every system, by which error may be propagated and instilled into the tender mind, has been always vindicated to itself by the Catholic Church. He then quotes from the pastoral address of the bishops of Germany in 1848:— The Church will preserve, in preference to everything else, her sacred right to educate and teach; And from the Archbishop of Cologne:— Religious liberty requires that ecclesiastical authority should exercise over all public establishments of instruction and education such a control as will enable it to fulfil the duties that conscience places on it. He proceeds to state that those Protestants who are seriously attached to religion, and adverse to the spread of indifferentism or latitudinarianism, do not differ in their views upon the subject from the doctrines taught by the bishops of the holy Catholic Church, and he proceeds with remarks so pertinent that he (Mr. Hamilton) could not forbear from quoting them:— Indeed (he says), every religious community in England has schools in which its own peculiar doctrines are inculcated; and such schools are considered as part of the machinery necessary for working out the religious views of the sect. He then quotes Lord Harrowby, Lord Morpeth, Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, and his conclusions are— Such are the sentiments of our statesmen—such the principles on which the laws regarding education in England have been enacted. It is difficult to assign any reason why different principles should be applied by the same statesmen to the arrangements for education on this side the Channel. But, whatever reasons they may be influenced by, it is quite clear, that believing, as we do, that there is but one true faith, we should anxiously exert ourselves to have that faith interwoven with every part of education—that we shall take care to have it deeply impressed upon the minds of our children in the schools requiring that the men who teach should be religious; and finally, with Lord John Russell, we should admit no system which would inscribe education without religion—that is, without true religion, on its banner. The Motion, on the other hand, was resisted on the high authority of the noble Lord, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), on the grounds that even if there was a hard- ship as regarded the Established Church, it was dangerous to disturb a system which was now so extensive, and, upon the whole, was working so advantageously; and the right hon. Baronet, in particular, especially urged that the system was, in point of fact, a mixed and united system, and that Roman Catholics obtained under it a more liberal and scriptural education than they could otherwise expect to enjoy. It was, therefore, clear that an issue of fact had been raised, which forms the proper ground for a Parliamentary inquiry—namely, is the national system a united system?—and is it affording the kind of instruction that the framers of that system contemplated, and which the House supposes and intends in voting annually large sums for its support? Such was the position of the question when the late Government came into office. He did not, of course, intend to advert to anything which related only to himself; but he had reason to suppose that the noble Lord who was at the head of the late Government, and who, of all men, was naturally most anxious for the maintenance and success of the national system of education in Ireland, was, nevertheless, friendly to an inquiry, with a view to the whole question being fairly considered. This appeared to him a most proper and unexceptionable course, and he was quite satisfied to let the question rest upon that understanding, and he had expressed himself to this effect when in his official capacity he had proposed the vote last year for education in Ireland. It is true that the noble Lord (the Earl of Derby) had recently stated elsewhere, that after conferring with the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and not being able to see his way to a satisfactory settlement of the question, he had declined making the inquiry on the responsibility of Government; but, in stating this, he had declared his willingness to support an inquiry, and he (Mr. Hamilton) felt warranted in stating that the noble Lord was favourable to such an inquiry as he (Mr. Hamilton) now proposed. Therefore, he had no hesitation in avowing; that he was anxious to take the first opportunity as an independent Member to move for such an inquiry. In laying before the House the grounds for his present Motion, he thought it right to state explicitly and unreservedly his view generally with respect to the national system. Whatever objections he might entertain to the principle on which it was founded, and he would acknowledge he had strong objections to the whole principle of the system—he was ready to admit frankly, that, considering the period that had elapsed since its establishment—considering the large sums of money that had been voted by Parliament during the last twenty years, amounting, he believed, to more than 2,000,000., and voted ungrudgingly—considering the leases, and contracts, and deeds of endowment, with various parties, which the Commissioners, with the sanction of Parliament, had entered into—considering the number of schools and children, and the great importance of promoting education in Ireland—taking all these matters into consideration, he was ready to admit that the national system must now be considered practically as one of the institutions of the country; and, that, therefore, the question which, as a Conservative, he had to propose, was not with a view to its overthrow, but with a view to its extension and improvement, and the removal of the causes which made people conscientiously object to it. But he was ready to go further, and to admit, that, in some respects, very important service had been rendered by the institution to the people of Ireland, and, indeed, to the whole community. Every one admitted that the books for secular instruction published by the Commissioners, were not only unexceptionable, but had effected a complete change as regards that branch of education, not only in Ireland, but in this country and the Colonies; the training and industrial, and agricultural schools—the model schools—and many, also, of the local schools, were deserving of high commendation. He, therefore, for himself, would disclaim any hostility to the Commissioners, or any intention to overthrow the system; but, he must assert, that the more it is admitted that the system is to be considered as one of the institutions of the country, the more incumbent is it to inquire whether its working is as beneficial as possible, or whether its defects might not be remedied, and its operation beneficially extended. As the grounds now for the inquiry he proposed, he would submit, in the first place, that where the large sum of 180,000. is voted annually by Parliament for an object of this kind, it is right and reasonable that Parliament should exercise a close and frequent scrutiny, both as to the operation of the system, and the expenditure of the funds; and it is the more necessary to do so in the case of an institu- tion which has been granted the privileges of a corporation, and, which, therefore, to a considerable extent, is independent of the Executive Government. The Commissioners of National Education are a chartered body, and most of their functions are exercised solely under the responsibility which the annual vote by the House of Commons entails. Latterly, also, there is scarcely one of the great educational institutions of the country which has not been made the subject of inquiry; and he saw no reason why this institution should be exempt. And with regard to this very institution, he found that on the 7th March, 1837, the Earl of Carlisle, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, proposed a Committee of Inquiry into the progress and operation of the new system of education of Ireland. The proceedings of this Committee, which was most ably presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. V. Smith), were abruptly terminated by the close of the Session; and the Committee reported as follows:— Your Committee having for the present closed their inquiry, owing to the approaching termination of the Session, are anxious that the evidence they have already taken should be presented to the House, although not sufficiently ample to enable them to report their opinion upon the important subject submitted to their investigation. And then, after describing the course they had taken, they proceed to state— Your Committee have generally adhered to this course of examination, but they cannot profess to have exhausted the witnesses they would have been desirous of examining under any of these classes. Upon the third head they had barely entered, and accident compelled them to leave the evidence of an important witness incomplete. The fourth class is untouched; and they conclude in this language:— Although your Committee have made such small progress, as compared with the extensive inquiry sketched out in this course, yet, having attended with the utmost care to the examination of some Members of the Board, and of the witnesses who appeared before them objecting to its system or practice, they think the evidence they now present to the House a valuable preparatory document for further inquiry; at the same time, with a view to guard against the possibility of its leading the House to a premature conclusion, they have accompanied it by this brief exposition of the partial nature of the evidence, limited as it is by the abrupt termination of the Session. He thought that in the Report he had just read—a Report which had the sanction of Lord Stanley, Mr. Goulburn, Sir James Graham, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. Vernon Smith—in the acknowledgment that that Report contained of the incompleteness of the then inquiry of the necessity of prosecuting the subject, and of that Report being only a document preparatory to further inquiry, he could lay a sufficient ground for the Motion before the House. Sixteen years had afforded additional knowledge and experience of the working of the system, and yet the further inquiry had not been instituted. But he would proceed to state further grounds for the inquiry:—He would take it upon himself to assert, and would prove before a Committee, that the system is not a united system, though it professes to be so—though the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet maintain that it is so—and though Parliament votes money on the supposition that it is so. Now, this was eminently a practical question—a matter of fact upon which it was most important that the House should have the fullest information. The whole object of the national system was to unite, if possible, the children of different religious denominations in the same school, and with the hope thereby of dissipating prejudices and animosities, and promoting concord and good will; that was the main object of the system, clearly and emphatically set forth in Mr. Secretary Stanley's letter. No one—even of those most friendly to the system—would assert that the national system was in theory and principle the best that could be laid down. It was founded upon concessions, which many persons objected to as involving concessions of great principles; but the object of those concessions was to establish a united system. It was time now to ascertain, after twenty years' experience, whether or not this union of children of different denominations had been attained or was attainable; if not, it would be desirable to inquire whether the causes which prevented it were attributable to one party or to another party, or whether rather they might not be traced to the deep and conscientious feelings and convictions of both parties, and to the antagonistic principles of the religions they professed. If so, the difficulty ought to be looked in the face, and it will be a matter requiring consideration and deliberation whether it would not be better to abandon the phantom of a united system of education, and to leave each patron of a school in Ireland, as in England, to make such arrangements as he conscientiously approved of in reference to his own school. He believed it was a mistake to suppose that this would have the effect of increasing religious acrimony in Ireland. He conscientiously believed that nothing was ever gained, even in respect of harmony and good will, by an unworthy concealment or concession of principle or opinion. It was part of the order of Providence, for reasons not within our limited view, that men should differ, conscientiously differ, with regard to matters of the highest, interest and importance. No doubt it would be found in the end that those very differences were subsidiary to the establishment of truth; but while they exist, it is in vain to endeavour to suppress them by unworthy concessions on either side; and, in his humble judgment, it would be a more honest and successful course not to endeavour to mislead people or children into the belief that the difference between one religion and another was not very material, which is not the case, but to teach them that those differences should be held as a matter of conscience, and without acrimony or ill-feeling. If the Committee should be granted, he was prepared to show by several witnesses, men of the highest authority, that the system had failed in its main object as a united system, and that in the case in which it had the appearance of being most successful as a united system, namely, in the province of Ulster, it was at the expense of some other very important rules. He was also prepared to show that the system was scarcely to any extent Scriptural, even as regards the use of the Scripture extracts, though it professes to be so, and though Parliament votes money on the supposition of its being so. In fact, it had been admitted on high authority, that the Scripture extracts no longer formed a part of the system. He was also prepared to show that a large proportion, he might say a great majority of the schools were, in point of fact, Roman Catholic schools, in which the Roman Catholic doctrine was taught to all the children without the least qualification or reserve in the school-room during school hours; though the system purports to be designed for all denominations, and to be open to all—that, therefore, it discourages Protestantism and encourages the Roman Catholic religion, though it professes to be neutral in this respect. He was not now saying whether that was right or not as regards schools under Roman Catholic patronage, and attended by Roman Catholic children, but if it be the fact, it should be ascertained and known by the House. He was also prepared to show that the principle laid down by Mr. Secretary Stanley, and the plan on which he proposed to carry out the system, have been materially departed from, and alterations introduced by the Commissioners, of their own authority, the expediency of which was very questionable, the effects of which were very unfortunate and injurious, and the reasons for which should form a matter for inquiry. First, he would take the case of the Scripture extracts, and local funds. These extracts were prepared with the view to their being used generally in the schools. Mr. Stanley, in his letter to Dr. Chalmers, which will be found in Dr. Chalmers' life, and is dated 19th May, 1832, when the whole subject was before him, used the following expressions:— We permit the Bible to be read every day. We encourage the reading of it on two days; we require the reading of selections on which all agree on every day in the week;" and he adds, "Surely this cannot be called the exclusion of the Bible from the school for any number of days in -the week. It is acknowledged now, that the Scripture extracts are not read in the local schools. But how is it in the model schools, and in the vested schools, of which the National Board are the patrons, and where Parliament has a right to expect that the system will be fully carried out. There are seven model schools in Ireland, besides that in Dublin. Newry:—"The Scripture lessons do not appear to be read during the hours of combined instruction." Ballymena:—"The Scripture lessons are not read during the hours of combined instruction."Cole-raine:—"The Scripture lessons are not read during the hours of combined instruction." "They are read every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from ten to half-past ten; during that time, the notice, 'Religious Instruction,' is put up, and those who object to the reading of Scripture lessons, wait outside until half-past ten." There is another model school, of which it was necessary to notice, a special report is made respecting it, signed by the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian clergymen. These gentlemen take the opportunity of passing a general eulogium on the national system, which they say they consider as well calculated to combine persons of all denominations in the advancement of education, without requiring any surrender of their own peculiar views; and they add, its object and tendency is to promote united action without compromise. In this model school, at least, no compromise will be found. The Scripture extracts are not used either in the combined instruction or in the separate religious instruction, and the school is the national model school of Bailieborough, under the immediate patronage of the Secretary for Ireland. As regards local funds, Mr. Stanley, in his letter, stated that the Board will invariably require as a condition not to be departed from, that local funds shall be raised, upon which any aid from the public should depend. This appeared to him (Mr. Hamilton) to be a wise and salutary condition; he believed that no system of education could prosper without local co-operation, and that pecuniary aid was the best possible proof of such co-operation. One of the head inspectors two years ago reported that in three of the nine districts, four-fifths of the teachers have not received an average of fees amounting to 1l. a year; and in his subsequent reports he says their condition has become worse. In fact, all the head inspectors concur in reporting that the fees are diminishing, and that consequently the salaries of the masters paid by the Board should be increased. And in the last report, Mr. Kavanagh, one of four head inspectors, states that out of 178 invested schools, 136 had no local contributors nor any residences provided for the masters, and that of eighty-five of the teachers nearly one-half had less than16 a year to live on, that is, less than 10½d. a day. The model schools also were another subject for inquiry. He had reason to believe that the model schools were in point of fact no models at all; they wore neither consistent in themselves as models, nor were they followed as models by the managers of local schools. Strangers were taken to the model school in Dublin, where everything was conducted in the most admirable manner, children of different denominations educated and instructed together; and strangers seeing this, and judging of it as a model, naturally went away impressed most favourably with the national system, believing that it was a model, and that all other schools, whether district model schools, or local schools, were brought as nearly as possible to that as a standard. But if hon. Members would turn to the reports of the district model schools, it would be seen that even in them there was no uniform system, still less were the local schools sought to be brought to any thing like the same standard. It would there- fore be desirable to ascertain whether there was any rule or principle acted upon, with regard to those model schools. There was another point for inquiry, upon which he would very briefly touch. He was for from intending to cast any peculiar blame upon the Commissioners; he was aware of the labour and difficulty and magnitude of making up and furnishing the reports and accounts of more than 4,000 schools; but he could not avoid remarking, that the reports and accounts were not in a satisfactory state, and did not appear to him to afford sufficient information as to the working of the system. He feared he had wearied the House. He had not done so willingly; but he had felt it his duty to lay the grounds on which he sought for an inquiry fully before the House. He had endeavoured to show, first, the position of the question; second, what the national system was which the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox) proposed to extend to England, and then he had stated as the grounds of his Motion, that there was an issue of fact which needed an inquiry to solve; he had alleged that it was not a united system; not in any sense a scriptural system, not a system neutral, as regards general instruction, but one in which, as regards a great majority of the schools, the tenets of the Roman Catholic religion were openly and effectually taught; that the principles and plans laid down by Mr. Stanley were departed from: that the model schools were calculated to mislead Parliament, and that the reports and returns indicated a very unsatisfactory condition of things. The House of Commons were the guardians of the public purse. Several millions had been voted to be disbursed under this system. Were these matters or were they not fit subjects for an inquiry by the House? He had proposed the inquiry in no hostile spirit. He desired to see the system enlarged and improved. He believed it might be so extended as to give satisfaction to all parties in that country; and that there was a general desire and feeling to see it satisfactorily settled. But so long as there existed a feeling on the part of the clergy and Protestants of Ireland that their conscientious opinions were disregarded, and that they were treated with injustice, while every consideration was shown to the scruples of all parties in England, it was impossible that the system could acquire complete efficiency. He had refrain- ed from pressing upon the House the particular views of those whom he more particularly represented as to the manner in which those objections might be removed, or as to their conduct in reference to the national system; but he would ask the attention of the House to one passage from a pamphlet recently published by a most unexceptionable witness, Mr. Charles Buxton. That gentleman stated that he had gone to Ireland with a strong bias against the clergy for the part they had taken, and would have been heartily sorry to hear that the system was to be softened down to meet their views. He adds in his preface, "It will he seen, however, that when I had not merely gone into the question, but had gone through it, I came out on the side of the clergy, and should be glad to see certain modifications made in the regulations of the Board." The conduct of the clergy had been impugned—unjustly impugned, as be (Mr. Hamilton) had always contended. But here was an evidence of an English gentleman, after mature inquiry, admitting that the case was different from what he supposed, and declaring that he came out on the side of the clergy. He should now have sat down, but for some observations which were reported to have been made elsewhere, and which required some notice on his part. The noble Lord at the head of the Government was reported to have said "that he found a difficulty in repressing the indignation he felt at the efforts that were made to frustrate the best attempt that was made for the regeneration and improvement of Ireland." It may be that the noble Lord no longer feels himself in a position to appreciate those who continue to maintain their honest and conscientious convictions. It may be that the noble Lord would desire to see in matters of a politico-religious character, as well as in matters of an exclusively political character, the same indifferentism which characterises Radical-Conservatism and Conservative-Radicalism; but the noble Lord would find himself quite mistaken if he supposed that the people of Ireland would take his view on those subjects. He spoke now equally for the Protestant and Roman Catholics of Ireland. There was no people on the face of the earth more sincerely religious than the people of Ireland, or more opposed to anything like indifferentism in such matters. They differed widely from each other. The principles of their religion differed widely, and sometimes it happened that the intensity of their feelings occasioned warmth and even rancour; but let it not be supposed that even the indignation of the noble Lord would induce them to forego their conscientious opinions. The inability to join the national system of education, on the part of some of the best men in Ireland, arose from conscientious convictions, and he humbly submitted that instead of exciting indignation, their consistent adherence to those convictions should have commanded respect, and instead of being a ground of opposition, should be a reason for granting an inquiry with the view of ascertaining whether those conscientious objections might not be removed.


seconded the Motion. He did not mean to make an attack on the existing national education system in Ireland. He could not say that he approved of the principle on which that system had been founded; but the system itself had been in operation for twenty years, and had, as he believed, been an instrument of great benefit to the Irish people, and more especially to the Roman Catholics in Ireland, and he had no wish to effect its detruction. The object of this Motion was not to overthrow the system,' but to enlarge the numbers of those who could partake of its advantages. The Church of England schools were at present prevented from participating in the benefits of the system by the operation of the rule that any person might object to religious instruction being given in the school. That rule was a practical barrier to the extension of the system to the Church schools, and he and those who agreed with him upon the question wished to see that barrier removed. He thought there were several reasons why their opinion upon this point ought to be adopted. Such a concession would meet the views of those Protestant ministers who believed it was their bounden duty to see that all the young confided to their charge should be instructed in Divine truth. What physician who undertook the care of another would submit to be debarred from applying the remedy which he conceived to be necessary? How could a conscientious clergyman of the Church of England, located in Ireland—a country placed the shadow of darkness-how could he be a party to educating the young without imparting to them the most important of all things, the pure Word of God? That was the principle on which the great majority of these clergymen re- fused their co-operation to the national education system so long as it excluded them from giving' spiritual instruction in their schools; and had they taken any other course, he felt persuaded they would have forfeited the respect of the flocks over which they ministered. Again, regarding the question in a social point of view, the existing system was most objectionable. Here was the United Kingdom granting public money for the education of the nation. Yet no inconsiderable fraction of the nation was practically excluded from the system of education adopted; so much so, that three-fourths of the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland had not been able to avail themselves of the benefits and advantages which it was designed to confer. On what principle were hon. Members asked to support such an institution as Maynooth, founded to support a religion from which they entirely dissented, except on the principle on which the supporters of this Motion asked the House to give—not an exclusive grant to themselves—but a right to participate in funds granted for a common national purpose? When in England the principle acted on was that all should participate in the benefit of the educational grant, on what possible principle could hon. Members refuse to apply the same rule in Ireland, and to pay the same regard to religious convictions there as was done in England? It was only a reasonable share of justice that was asked. Another aspect of the question was whether the managers of those schools which were under the care of Protestant clergymen should not have the power of giving the children who attended a complete education, including in it scriptural instruction, or only the means of affording them an inferior and mutilated character of education. Anything more un-fortunate than the present state of things in Ireland could not exist. It was incumbent on the clergy of the Established Church to endeavour, by every effort in their power, to co-operate with the Government; but in the present case he might truly assert that it was the State and not the clergy, who placed barriers in the way of that co-operation. It was urged, in opposition to the Motion that a united system of education, comprehending all denominations, was desirable. That object was worth making a considerable sacrifice to attain. But it was impossible to bring together compulsorily those who would not come together voluntarily; and he did not believe that the system -which had been in force for twenty years in Ireland had produced the desired effect. The Bishop of Ossory and Ferns, in a published letter referring to the probable results of an inquiry, said— It would, he was confident, put an end to the delusion that this was a real system of united education. He believed it would appear, speaking generally, that there was no union of the children of the different religions in the same schools under the national system; and he went on to say that the only form in which the education of children could with any propriety, be called a united education was to be found in the schools of the Church Education Society. This Motion was conceived in no spirit of religious rancour. He (Mr. Wigram) would not have taken any part in it if he had thought it was conceived in such a spirit; and he was persuaded that if the inquiry were granted it would have a tendency rather to remove asperities and do good, than to produce any results of a mischievous character.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That a Select Committee be appointed, to inquire into the working of the National System of Education in Ireland, with the view of ascertaining how far the Instructions contained in Mr. Secretary Stanley's Letter of 1830 had been followed or departed from by the Commissioners, or in the practical operation of the system; and whether and to what extent a united or combined Education has been attained under the national system; and also to inquire whether, by any further extension or modification of the rules framed by the Commissioners or otherwise, the conscientious objections which many of the people of Ireland entertain to the system as at present carried into operation might be reasonably obviated, so as to enable them to partake of the public grant, and render the system more comprehensive and national.


said, he had listened with all the attention in his power to the speeches of his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Hamilton), and of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, and he could only regret that he should feel compelled to dissent from the propositions they had put forward, however conscientiously maintained, and however moderately expressed. Those propositions had been moderately expressed, with the exception of one remark in reference to the Earl of Aberdeen. He (Sir J. Young) could assure his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin that he approached the subject in no sectarian spirit; and with respect to the allusion made by his hon. Friend, he might be permitted to express his conviction, that as regarded any ques- tion connected with education or religion, the noble Lord at the head of the Government approached it in no spirit of indifference; and no man was more ready—no man more prompt—to pay respect to the conscientious convictions of others, however he might himself conscientiously differ from them. He (Sir J. Young) thought he had to thank his hon. Friend for more than one important admission. His hon. Friend had conceded that the secular education afforded in Ireland under the national system had raised the standard of education in that country, and was a good system. He thanked him for that admission, because in papers which had been widely circulated and endorsed by high authorities a very different opinion had been put forward. His hon. Friend also considered the national system one of the institutions of the country, and that it ought not to be subverted; but he (Sir J. Young) believed he should be able to show before he sat down that the Motion before the House would tend to subvert that system. His hon. Friend had referred to the letter of Lord Stanley, and the instructions with regard to the Scripture extracts. Now, he believed that there was nothing in the original instructions which made those extracts part of the secular education of the schools—he thought they were not even originally included in the books that were recommended by the Commissioners; but that they were prepared some months afterwards, and now to this day they were only recommended by the Commissioners for use as being introductory to the study of the Holy Scriptures, and did not form part of the secular instruction. His hon. Friend said that local contributions were no longer insisted on. It had been found indispensable in some cases to do without local contributions. He (Sir J. Young) did not know whether the rule had been absolutely given up, but he believed that exceptions had been made, because in many parts of the country those who required education most found it impossible to raise the necessary funds; and, looking to the state of Ireland for the last six or eight years, it was singular such an objection should have been urged against the national sys-tern of education. With respect to what had been said of the reports and their appendices, that they did not contain sufficient information, all he could stale was; that if any hon. Member had a complaint to make with respect to any school, or any number of schools, and would put the charges on paper, the fullest inquiries would be made, and satisfactory answers afforded, as far as such could be given. And now he would address himself to the last branch of his hon. Friend's Motion, because it was really the only important point which he had put forward; and if it had not been for the desire of those who entertained conscientious objections "to the system as at present carried into operation for some extension or modification of the rules framed by the Commissioners," he apprehended that they would have heard little of any departure from Mr. Secretary Stanley's letter, or of any doubt as to the real attainment of a combined system of education. Now, they must inquire who were the parties who entertained these conscientious objections? These parties, as represented by his hon. Friend, were a number of the gentry and a majority of the clergy connected with the Established Church; and he (Sir J. Young) was prepared to acknowledge, that from the venerated Prelate who presided over the Established Church in Ireland, down to the meanest person who attended meetings at the Rotunda and at Exeter Hall, and brought, as he thought, hasty and harsh charges against the Commissioners, all the opponents of the national system were persons who sincerely desired to spread education upon what they conceived to be a sound basis, although they differed with him as to the best means of effecting, that object. Therefore he hoped it would be allowed that he was anxious to eschew everything like religious rancour from that discussion. But the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland, and the gentry of that communion, also, who had for years been opposed to the national system, had been, and were still, gradually diminishing in their numbers. It was, however, said that its opponents, having a conscientious objection to that system, had a claim to have it altered on the ground of religious toleration. Now that was a doctrine to which he could not assent. So far from these parties having a claim on the ground of toleration, he thought the fact was directly the reverse, and that no Protestant, upon the principles of the Reformation, had any right to prefer such a claim to that House. The claim was, that these parties should be permitted to draw from the funds of the State monies for schools in which they should be allowed to insist that every child, without exception, at- tending them should read the Holy Scriptures from the authorised version. It was true his hon. Friend said that the children who attended those schools where this rule was strictly enforced, attended voluntarily. Upon that point he would touch presently; but let the House recollect the state of Ireland. Two-thirds of its population was Roman Catholic, and it so happened that these two-thirds consisted of the very classes who were most likely to stand in need of the public money to enable them to obtain education. Some said that their priests induced them to refuse education except upon certain terms; but that was not the fair way of stating the argument. These Roman Catholics must be taken to be sincerely attached to the doctrine and teaching of their Church; their Church was one that required implicit dependence upon its authority from its members, and it restricted its followers, and especially the young, in the use of the Holy Scriptures without note or comment. Therefore the Roman Catholics had a conscientious objection to have the authorised version of the Scriptures read by their children; they were poor and dependent; their allowing their children to read the Scriptures in the schools of their own accord was out of the question; their religion was opposed to it, and they would not allow them to read it except an improper inducement was held out to them on the one hand, or an improper pressure was put upon them on the other. But it was said that the children attended the schools voluntarily. Now, that assertion must be taken with considerable qualifications. In many parts of Ireland it might be that the Church Education Society's school was the only school in the parish, and the people were so keenly alive to the advantages of education that they would send their children to the only school in the parish, even at the risk of interference with their faith. Again, these Roman Catholic labourers were the poorest and most dependent classes in the country, although he rejoiced that altered circumstances were beginning to place them in a better position. They had to go and beg for employment. The employer was perhaps a person who conscientiously wished to spread the education given by the Church Education Society, and it might be that he would not oppress his labourer or turn him out of his employment if he refused to send his children to one of these schools; but who could tell how far such a poor man might be influenced by the apprehension that he would be deprived of his means of earning a livelihood if he gave such a refusal, and might under that fear be induced to send his child to a school to which he conscientiously objected? Again, there were a vast number of cases in which opulent Protestants, conscientiously zealous in the cause of the Church Education Society, had conferred temporal benefits upon the Roman Catholic necessitous population; and these poor people—for no one was warmer-hearted than the Irish labourer, or more grateful for favours bestowed on him—these poor people, not liking to fly in the face of their benefactors when they asked them to send their children to school, were liable to be bribed and seduced into consenting to do that for which in their consciences they felt the greatest repugnance. Well, then, for these reasons he thought the House was bound to take care that Protestants should not be allowed to enforce the reading of the Scriptures upon the Roman Catholic child, whether his parent wished it or not. As far as argument and persuasion went, of course the Protestant had a right to induce the parent to consent to the reading of the Scriptures; but to seek to effect that object by bribes, or by compulson, or by any other unfair means, was clearly to transgress the great principle of religious toleration. Those who claimed the right of private judgment ought to respect the same right in others; and the more dependent and helpless the person was, the more anxious they ought to be not to interfere with his religious convictions, or to offend his religious feelings. That was his answer to those who refused to accept the aid of the Commissioners, unless they were permitted to enforce the reading of the Holy Scriptures, not merely upon the children of their own persuasion, who were ready to consent to it, but also upon the children of Roman Catholics, the teaching of whoso Church forbade them to consent to it. Before he went further into this question, he wished to make an observation, with regard to what his hon. Friend had said relative to the opinion of the Earl of Derby on the subject. No opinion was entitled to more weight than that of Lord Derby, whose name was so closely associated with the existing system as its founder; and he believed that no man's name could be associated with what had proved a greater benefit to Ireland. But was it true that Lord Derby had expressed himself favourable to such an inquiry as this? These were Lord Derby's words on this subject on the 30th November last:— My Lords, during the recess my attention, and that of my Colleagues in the Government, and more especially my noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, has been directed most anxiously to the question of national education in Ireland. My noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland has felt it his duty to devote very great consideration to this question; and with every desire to remove, as far as possible, the feelings or the prejudices of those who are opposed to that system, and who desire certain alterations in it, neither I nor my noble Friend at the head of the Government in Ireland can see our way to the introduction of any change which would have that effect without disturbing or materially altering the present system of education in that country. All I can say is, that I consider it would be a very great evil if we were seriously to disturb the existing system; and the Government, not seeing their way to make any alteration with the view to which I have alluded, have no intention of bringing forward any measure to effect what one party had in view, seeing that could not be effected without incurring evils which they would greatly deplore."[3 Hansard, cxxiii. 771.] Now, could anything be a more distinct declaration of opinion, after full and anxious deliberation, that he was not prepared to alter the system in any material respect? Well, but his hon. Friend's proposition involved a very material alteration of the system, and was totally at variance with its main principle. Let them take a glance at that system from its introduction, and see for what great purpose it had been established. It had now been twenty-one years in existence, and its main object, as stated in Secretary Stanley's letter of instructions, was to extend to the poor of Ireland a system of education from which even the suspicion of proselytism should be banished. 70,000 Protestant children were now being educated in the schools established under that system; and among the millions of children who had received its benefits since its institution, there had not been proved a single case of proselytism. But, his hon. Friend said, that Roman Catholics were encouraged, whilst Protestants were discouraged, by the Committee. That was a charge that was very easily made, and one which, without considering the relative proportions of the different denominations, it might not appear so easy to disprove. But when they reflected that the great majority of those who attended the schools must necessarily be Roman Catholics, he was sure that nothing would really be found to exist, either in the schools, in the Com- mission, or elsewhere, which indicated undue partiality towards the Roman Catholics; or, that they received more than their fair share of the benefits of the system. How stood the case with the Commissioners? Two-thirds of them were Protestants; and, of the head inspectors, and inspectors receiving the largest salaries, one half were also Protestants. Of the whole 5,000 schoolmasters, 1,000 were Protestants, and of the total number of patrons, one quarter were Protestants. When they spoke of the Protestants connected with the Established Church, it must be remembered that they were the richest body, and that nearly four-fifths of the land belonged to them. And what was the fact? That, notwithstanding the opposition of the gentry and three-fourths of the clergy, the effect of this opposition was only to withdraw one-seventh of the Protestant children from these schools. Of the 70,000 Protestant scholars, 25,000 belonged to the Established Church, and the rest of them received an excellent education in the schools of the Church Education Society, which possessed ample funds to provide scriptural education for all the children belonging to the Established Church. He could not help thinking it a great evil that the Church Education Society should place itself in antagonism to the national system where no real ground of antagonism existed, instead of rendering itself in the most beneficial manner ancillary to that system. At all events, he thought it was neither wise nor desirable that alterations or modifications of a subversive character should be introduced into a system which they knew to be conferring inestimable advantages upon nine-tenths of the population of Ireland, and that merely for the purpose of relieving a very small minority indeed of the population from an insubstantial grievance; or, at least, a grievance which did not press very heavily upon them. But, his hon. Friend said, that the united system of education had failed. Now, he did not believe that those who founded the system originally, aimed at producing a united system in the sense that had been spoken of that night. In Ireland, some parts of the country were almost or altogether exclusively Roman Catholic, and other parts were exclusively Protestant; and, in such cases, of course, a united system under the same roof was physically impossible, In other cases, the population was too large for one school; and when it was necessary to have two, it often hap- pened that the one party, perhaps naturally, preferred to send their children to the Roman Catholic school, and the others sent theirs to the Protestant school; and, then, of course, the education ceased to be united. Nevertheless, recent statistics showed, that, in spite of the opposition that had been offered to the system, the amount of united education given was very much greater than might have been expected; and, certainly, when the system was charged with not being a united one, the accusation came with a very bad grace from those who had done their best to prevent it from being united. The chief advantage of the system was not merely that Roman Catholics and Protestants should be educated in the same school, but that there should be a combined course of secular instruction, of which all denominations should partake in common, and separate religious instruction, to which no objections could be offered. It had been said, that the religious instruction had failed, but he believed that the reverse was the fact. One whole day in each week was set apart for religious instruction. The utmost facilities were given for attending the school, and so well did the system work, that he believed there were no better or sounder Presbyterians in the world than those which were educated in those schools. And, in the same schools, there were hundreds and thousands of Roman Catholic children who were embued with the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, while they were not weaned from their own religion; and there were also multitudes of children of the members of the Established Church who were not only embued with a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, but who were warmly attached to the tenets of their own Church. He was satisfied that the only thing wanted to make this state of things general was the assistance of the clergyman of the parish in each case. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram) said, that this was a compulsory system. He (Sir J. Young) maintained, on the contrary, that the great merit of the system was, that there was no compulsion whatever, and that even in the case of all the children in a school being of the same religion, still nothing was taught that could in the slightest degree hurt the feelings of others, and no books were read or word was uttered that could interfere with the conscientious convictions of any one. The effect of such a system was, that a minority, however weak in numbers, were safe from interference; and that the majority, however overwhelming, were taught respect for the conscientious convictions of others. This lesson was especially valuable in Ireland, where a sound public opinion might be said to be in its infancy, and where attempts were so frequently made to tyrannise over and bully the consciences of men, both by priests and landlords. His hon. Friend had asked why they should not give separate grants to the various schools, as they did in England. In reply, he must be allowed to say, that he doubted whether, if a separate system of grants were adopted, it would not give rise to great animosities and heartburning in debate, when they were asked to give proportional grants to 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 of Roman Catholics, as compared with 1,000,000 of Protestants, and 1,000,000 of Presbyterians. He believed that such a system would entirely undo all the good which had been effected by the measures they had hitherto adopted. But as the system at present stood, wherever there was but one school in a parish, any gentleman might give his subscription to it, and his entire and personal co-operation in carrying it through, because he knew that the religious opinions of the children of hi3 own communion would not be interfered with. But suppose there were three schools in one parish—one for the Roman Catholics, one for the Presbyterians, and one for the members of the Established Church. He would like to know how many landed gentlemen there were in Ireland who were rich enough to subscribe to all three schools? Or suppose that they were of sufficient opulence to be able to subscribe, yet how few of them would subscribe to any except to that school where the children of his own communion were educated? And yet these subscriptions were urgently needed, notwithstanding the money which Parliament had voted for the maintenance of this system. The returns before Parliament showed that while the sums voted to each school were 16l, the average of the private subscriptions amounted only to 51., which showed that there was ample room for private aid. Now, let him call the attention of the House to the condition of the teachers in these schools. The teachers were the successors of the old hedge schoolmasters in Ireland—men who were the ringleaders of all mischief, the apostles of sedition and of disloyalty. There were 5,000 of those teachers now who had pass- ed through a trying ordeal at a time when public feeling ran high—they were watched by their own inspectors—they were watched by a vigilant constabulary—they were watched by the opponents of the system, and in every case where evil was detected they were dismissed at once; and yet, in spite of all this vigilance, the cases of misconduct were so insignificant as to be wholly unworthy of notice. There was another point about these schools, and it was this, that notwithstanding the great diminution of the population, by emigration and other causes, which was generally believed to amount to 1,600,000, the number of children attending the schools had increased within these few years by 7,000. This showed the great desire the people had to secure education to their children, and how deeply rooted was their attachment to the national system. His hon. Friend made an observation, in which he (Sir J. Young) fully concurred, with regard to the importance of impressing upon the youthful mind religious convictions; but when his hon. Friend went on to infer that the national system was not founded on religion, he must beg to say that not only was the secular system admittedly the best that was taught in the west of Europe, but that it also in a most ample manner provided for the religious education of the children. In the books that were compiled for the use of the schools they would find all the doctrines of Christianity and all the precepts of morality. Next to the great principle of abstaining from interfering with the religious convictions of others, he believed that the greatest secret of the success of the system was to be found in the series of school books. That series was unique in design and unsurpassed in execution. One idea pervaded the whole. They rose from the alphabet to the higher gradations of knowledge by a series of easy steps, and a spirit of genuine piety pervaded every page. The benefit of these volumes was not confined to the schools; they became a kind of national literature; they were exceedingly popular with the people; and they formed altogether a code of united education. These books connected the people by a bond of union which they never before possessed—they circulated among all classes—and they diffused among them a harmony of feeling and opinion. He would now ask the favour of the House to listen to him while he read an extract from one of the national school-books. He asked it because' he had watched the system, and had taken a great interest in the welfare of the schools which he had visited in his own neighbourhood. This was the description given of children going to school on a Monday morning:— It is Monday morning, and the village, at a certain well-known hour, is quite alive with girls and boys, of every age and size; their hair combed, their faces and hands clean, and, if they are tidy, or have tidy mothers, with neat clothes. The big ones are kindly leading by the hand a little brother, or sister, or neighbour—all on a very important errand; they are going to school. It is pleasant to walk through a country town or village on a Monday morning. The children are all looking their cleanest and freshest, and their parents have not that tired, worn look, which they get towards the end of the week; for yesterday was Sunday—a day of rest—a day precious to all Christians. It was the Resurrection-day of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead; and all people who call themselves Christians celebrate this event, and consider the day as a holyday; for, however much they may differ from their neighbours in other things, in this they all feel alike, that it is happy news to all that their Redeemer rose from the dead, and still lives for them. Surely it is the quiet, religious happiness of Sunday, the first day of the week, which makes us fresh on the second—the first of our work-a-day week—so fresh and strong, 'to do whatever our hand findeth to do.' It is Monday, then. Every school in Great Britain and Ireland is beginning the business of the day. Boys and girls of all ages are pouring by thousands and tens of thousands into the streets, and roads, and lanes—often over bogs and mountains—on their way to school. But I now speak of the girls and boys of Ireland, and, among them, of those only who attend the national schools, because I know most about them. Of these schools there are 4,704, and no fewer than 520,000 children attend them. 500,000 children, then, are tripping forth, like yourselves, every Monday morning to school. 5,000 masters and mistresses are busy preparing to teach them, and many thousands of parents have just had the comfort of sending out their children to learn what will be good and useful for them now, for their future life, and we hope for ever. But, of all these multitudes of living beings, are there many, are there any, who ever think as they walk along, why they are going to school? or how it came about that there are schools to go to? Now, this is just what I want to make you think about. How all these thousands of school-houses came to be built, and the books bought, and the teachers paid—as far as they can be paid for such a hard and anxious task—it is right that you should inquire, and right that you should be told. I will explain the thing as far as I am able. The Government,—that is, those who govern in the Queen's name, get leave of the Parliament—that is, the Gentlemen who are chosen to overlook the Government, and watch over the concerns of the people, to set apart a sum of money for building schools, paying teachers, and other expenses belonging to them. But the number of schools required is so great that this money would not be sufficient unless the gentry gave their help towards it, and a number of them do give ground and pay part of the ex- penses when they find that a school is wanted in their neighbourhood. So you see that there are many persons in your country, and in England, who are kind and care for you, though most of them never saw you. Every one of those secular hooks teemed with secular instruction of the same kind, and he would ask the House whether it did not contain the essence of good feeling, sound morality, and true religion? Those were the books of secular instruction which some hon. Gentlemen decried, and that was the system which they said was not founded upon religion. In those books they would find the facts and history of the Old and New Testament; the series, and connexion, and fulfilment of the prophecies, and alt the main doctrines and truths of Christianity; and they were read alike by Protestant, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic. It was a well-known fact that, in every part of Ireland where these schools had taken root and had had fair play, the condition of the people was manifestly improved. And what was the news from America? That, not in one or two instances, but in hundreds, boys who had been educated in these schools were selected in preference to others, and were the handiest and steadiest mechanics, and the most diligent and intelligent clerks. He believed that Napoleon, when in the zenith of his greatness, had never collected so large an army as 500,000. The number that crossed the Niemen was not more than 370,000, and the number that crossed the Rhine in the following year was less; but in these schools there were 520,000 boys, who, by the munificent grant of Parliament, were educated at a moderate cost, and were to go forth, not to perish in Russian snows, from famine and fatigue, or to be shut up in pestilential fortresses, but to go forth as apostles and ministers of civilisation, and who, if the system were continued, would raise the condition of the country. One of the greatest moralists had said that the majority of the people in the world never raised themselves from the condition in which they were born; but in Ireland that was not the case since the national system had been established. There were hundreds of instances in which boys who had been originally running about the streets in rags and beggary, had, by the instruction received in those schools, raised themselves to comfort and affluence. There were many instances, too, in which, under this system of instruction, a signal aptitude for calculation, engineering, and mechanics, had been de- veloped; and there were many cases in which boys who were originally paupers, having been educated in these schools, had afterwards obtained situations which gave them hundreds a year in the manufacturing districts of England and America. If the British Parliament would only persevere in maintaining this system, it would raise not one or a few, or a few hundreds, but the whole people from the ignorance and moral and social degradation in which they had been sunk to all those comforts and appliances which waited upon habits of educated industry and self-reliance. He had endeavoured to show that the main object for which the national system was established had been attained, and that the system was, really and in fact, founded upon truth and the genuine spirit of Christianity; and he hoped the House would long continue to support it, because he believed that any attempt against it was an attempt against one of the greatest instruments of good which Divine Providence had ever permitted human wisdom to establish.


said, he had listened to the observations of the right hon. Baronet with great interest and anxiety, because he had said before he sat down he would show that the whole object of the Motion was to subvert the national system of education. After this declaration, he had expected that something would have been shown by the right hon. Baronet beyond a mere comment and eulogium on the books that were published for carrying out the system. He Could not for the life of him see how the explanation of the value of these books tended to prove that it was the intention of his hon. Friend (Mr. Hamilton) to subvert the national system. The object and terms of the Motion of his hon. Friend, who generally said what he meant, were an inquiry into the practical working of the system, and whether, by any further extension or modification of the rules framed by the Commissioners or otherwise, the conscientious objections which many of the people of Ireland entertain to the system as at present carried into operation might be reasonably obviated, so as to enable them to partake of the public grant, and render the system more comprehensive and national. Surely if the system be such as the right hon. Baronet had described, there could be no better reason for that House applying itself to see whether the impediments that existed were of a character that could be remedied or removed, so that the other third of the population of Ireland could be included in the grant. The Protestants of Ireland, who stated their conscientious objections to the system, wished to know why, for maintaining the principle which was maintained by every Protestant in that country, they should be debarred from all share in a grant out of the Consolidated Fund for the purposes of public education. That was a matter involving a question of justice to which he had never got an answer. The justice of the claim of the Protestants was certainly admitted; but in point of policy it was stated that it would be inexpedient to grant it. If they were in England they could obtain assistance; but if any Protestant in Ireland demanded one penny out of the fund for public education, while putting forward the principle established by the Reformation, he was debarred from all participation in it. In the Church Education Society he found that the condition on which assistance was given was, that every child should read the Scriptures in the authorised version. The noble Lord (the Earl of Carlisle) had stated, when presiding at the meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society, "the principle on which we go is the entire sufficiency and universal use of the word of God." The trustees of the Wesleyan Council made it a condition that all children in their schools should be taught the Scriptures in the authorised version. The hon. Baronet said that their claim was not founded on the principles of the Reformation; but how could that be said when it was put forward and allowed in the case of every Protestant denomination in England? These principles were not local—they were wider than the world, and lasting as eternity. A largo proportion of the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland were putting forward their claim for the use of the Scriptures in their schools. He had himself presented a petition also from more than 600 Presbyterians in the north of Ireland in favour of Scriptural schools; and yet they were told that their claim was not founded on the principles of the Reformation. He was ready to admit that if the clergy of the Established Church had put forward any claims which were not founded on the principles of the Reformation, that they were deserving of the rebuke which the noble Lord at the head of the Government pronounced in another place. But he found a remarkable answer in the case of that great and good man, Dr. Chalmers, in the reply he made when the very same noble Lord in the same place had made a similar attack upon the Scotch Church:— The most essential element of the nations health and safety, is that we shall be sound at bottom; but this is, an element which nothing tends more fearfully to endanger than that the Christian instructors of a land—the officials charged with that highest of all education, the education of principle—that they should be brought down, whether by their own deservings or the injustice of others, in popular estimation. It is a blow struck at the corner-stone when the moral integrity of clergymen is assailed; and when, not in any secret or obscure whispering-place, but on the very house-top of the nation, we behold, and without a single expression of remonstrance or regret from the assembled peerage of the Empire, one nobleman sending forth his wrathful fulmination against the honesty and truth of ministers of religion. The Prince Consort, whom all loved and respected for his high character and sound judgment, on one occasion said publicly, "I have no fear for the Church so long as we bold fast to what our ancestors won for us by the Reformation, a free Gospel, and the unfettered right of its use." And when the system of national education was first set up, and it was brought under the consideration of the presbyters of Edinburgh, that truly great man and sincere Christian, the late Dr. Chalmers, brought up the report of the committee appointed to consider the subject, and said— I am bound, after making all possible inquiry, to declare that I am more averse to the system and more fearful of its consequences than before. The report of the committee stated— For four or five days in the week the use of the Bible as a school-book is prohibited, and that not because of its literary unfitness for the purpose, but of its religious unfitness in the estimation of the Catholic priesthood. The most common effect of the regulation is the prohibition of Scriptural instruction to which it subjects the Protestant Church. But in the minds of the committee there is another strong objection against it, which could not be done away with, even though other days were allowed, and other methods pointed out, by which the absence of Scriptural instruction could be compensated for. The objection is, that the State now for the first time lays a practical restriction upon the use of the Scriptures. Now, there was a consideration which seemed to put the question in a strong and clear light. In England the Church was allowed to make the use of its catechism essential in its schools: and when the Dissenterss objected to it, the Lords of the Education Committee of Privy Council, said— Their Lordships regret that the children of Dissenters should not be admissible into the Church schools without the requirement of the catechism; and their Lordships would rejoice in any change of there ulations in the Church schools. While, on the one hand, however, they regard with respect the scruples of those parents who may object to their children learning the catechism, yet they cannot insist on a withdrawal of it, which would practically exclude the children of the Church of England. He (Mr. Napier) appealed to the common sense of that House and of the people of this country, whether this was justice? Why should the Irish Protestants be forbidden to use the Bible, as freely as English Protestants could use their catechism? Every Protestant Dissenting denomination in England made use of the Scriptures in their schools, and were allowed to do so. The Established Church in this country was allowed not only to teach the Scriptures in her schools, but to make her catechism an essential part of her teaching; and the Council of Education, when applied to on the latter point by a Dissenting body, merely expressed their regret, but declined to interfere with the schools. Now, the Protestant Church in Ireland had never insisted on the catechism for all; but because she desired to have the Word of God taught to the young, she was told no share of public money would be given to her for all; though she was far more liberal than the Church in England, and claimed only that which was allowed to every kind of Dissenters. They were going to have equality of taxation for both countries. Well and good. But, they denied to the Protestants of Ireland the smallest public assistance, while they gave it to all classes here. He asked, was that justice? Let them, then, clearly understand what was going to be done. Let them tell the Protestants of Ireland, that, if they continued to insist on their conscientious objections, they would afford them no assistance. And, then, this would occur—they would have a large portion of the people—forming, as the Protestants did, one-third of the population of Ireland, who were to be subjected to an equality of taxation with this country, and, who, as the wealthier class, would contribute far more than the Roman Catholics, deprived of any assistance from the taxes of the State for the purposes of education. If that was the principle on which they were to act, he would ask if it was the principle on which the system was established? He contended that Lord Derby had never intended to have such a system as had been described, but had meant it to be comprehensive and united—that all classes and denominations should have the benefit of it—that it was, in short, to be a national system of education. In the Report of 1846, the Commissioners said, that though it was not essential that there should be an actual mixture of children of all religious persuasions in the schools, it was essential that every school should be open to all; and that the secular instruction should be kept separate from the religious. Well, but not above a year or two ago, when the extension of this secular system to England was proposed, the leaders of the party opposite concurred with the leaders on his (Mr. Napier's) side in opposing the proposition, and two noble Lords equally eminent in the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches (Lord Ashley and Lord Arundel), united to resist it. Yet, for opposing the same system now, he (Mr. Napier) was to be stigmatised as a bigot. Why, the principle he contended for had been ably advocated by the noble Lord himself (Lord J. Russell) in introducing his educational scheme not long ago—the necessity of uniting the secular with the religious instruction. It was to endeavour to effect impossibilities—to seek to blend in one system tenets of opposite and antagonistic principles, the principle of the sufficiency of Scripture, and the principle of the supremacy of ecclesiastical despotism. It was impossible to reconcile these principles. If a Protestant clergyman wished to act under the national system, and a single Roman Catholic child were in his school, he might be prohibited from giving any Scriptural instruction during school hours. Supposing the clergyman was conscientiously convinced of the necessity for religious instruction connected with secular teaching, how could he possibly assist in such a system? If the system were carried out, it resulted in a cold, secular species of education, precisely such as had been deprecated and denounced in that House by the most eminent men in it. The injustice of this was so obvious that it was recognised by travellers and writers in Ireland the most unbiassed and impartial. Thus, a gentleman well known, Mr. Buxton, had lately written a very excellent little work, in which he admitted the grievances the national system entailed on the Protestant clergymen. Let the results of the system be observed. Had it produced a united system of education? It had not. Was it fair to say that this was the fault of the Protestant clergy, who did not join it? Was it not rather the fault of those who imposed on them unjust restrictions, which prevented them from joining it? The noble Lord himself had borne ample evidence to the character of the clergy of the Irish Church; and was it not more to their credit than otherwise, that they should decline to adopt a system of which they conscientiously disapproved? Surely it was a hard case upon them; and every means ought to be devised for the purpose of relieving them from the hardship. It was no answer to tell them they were in a minority in Ireland; and it was rather to be rejoiced at that there should be a body of clergy in Ireland ready at some sacrifices to support their principles, and proving by their honest and conscientious consistency that there could be a State Church not the slave of any political party, nor subservient to Ministerial influence. Yet, because they thus discharged their duty, as they deemed it, they were excluded from all share in the educational grants. Was this just? In one paragraph of the original letter of the noble Lord, it was stated that though the list of books included works of sacred history, it was not intended to supersede a religious education. This showed that the country was to have religious instruction as well as secular; but, strange to say, the paragraph was dropped altogether out of the printed copy of this letter in a subsequent annual Report. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Young) had said the national system applied to two-thirds of the population, who were Roman Catholics; but why was the Protestant third to be excluded from its benefit? The late Mr. Sheil said that no system of education could be called national to which Protestants could take any fair objection. Protestants, however, objected to this system, because it was not based upon the principle of religion, or of the Reformation: therefore it could not be justly called a national system. He (Mr. Napier) consequently demanded and courted inquiry into the two systems. By such inquiry he would be enabled to prove that in many cases where the two schools were in operation, Roman Catholic children came to the Church schools in preference to the national schools. He was sorry to hear the right hon. Baronet speak of bribing children. He was prepared to prove that such was not the case. No children were bribed or compelled to come to them, more than they were to come to church; but the clergyman had his standard system in church and in school—a system provided for all—and he would not depart from it in the one, or permit it to be blinked in the other. By the national system, however, a clergyman might be compelled to avoid teaching even the Protestant children the doctrines of Christianity. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of the Presbyterian schools in the north of Ireland. It was a singular fact, however, that only in one instance a Roman Catholic priest and Presbyterian clergyman joined in these schools out of 400 in all. In the west of Ireland schools there was not one of the Presbyterian Mission schools under the Board; while in the diocese of Tuam, where 10,000 children were attending scriptural model schools, there was not one either. The schools, in his opinion, were like fine shops with plate-glass windows—all show outside; but in the ordinary schools, most inferior articles; this was in regard to the quality and character of the education given in them. He (Mr. Napier) found in the report of the head inspector, Mr. M'Creedy, page 203, that in a very large inspection the attendance was bad at these schools, the numbers having fallen off full fifty per cent; the instruction inferior—geography, arithmetic, writing, grammar, and the other branches of education professed to be taught, being altogether neglected. That almost every one of the schools visited by him were unsatisfactory—some of them most unsatisfactory—that in some there were no copy books, and in others no reading books; and yet that these schools were even superior to those which his colleagues had to report upon. If hon. Members would only take the trouble of reading this Report of the Inspectors, they would be in a position to judge for themselves. The Protestant clergy had no possible objection to giving as good a system of general education as the Government might desire; but this plan was taken in respect to them—that whereas in England there was secular education without any interference with religious belief; in Ireland there was a neglect of secular education, and an interference with religion. Out of forty-nine schools inspected by this gentleman, four only were tolerable, but there were thirty-three reported as bad. And yet these schools were of the better description. The clergy schools did for Ireland that which was effected in the Protestant schools of England. Assistance, however, was denied them unless they took it on condition of restricting the use of the Bible. He appealed, therefore, to the House for inquiry into the matter. If the national system was good, it would bear inquiry; inquiry could not subvert it. He only asked a fair selection of persons on both sides of the House, and he challenged a comparison of the two systems. If the principle of the Reformation was wrong, then they should be content to live under the stigma of bigots; but they were, he repeated, willing and anxious to give an equally good education to the people of Ireland, based upon religion, as that of the national scheme. By that principle they would abide. He did not say that the money was a matter of no consequence; but he did say that the principle was of a magnitude far greater, and he sincerely hoped that, whatever might betide, the Church never would, for any pecuniary consideration whatsoever, consent to tamper even for a moment with the essence of all education—a knowledge of that religion and of those truths and duties on which the future hopes of man depended.


said, that after the concurrent testimony with respect to this system of education borne by every Government for the last twenty-one years, after the repeated divisions which had taken place in that House, and after the emphatic declarations which had been made both in that House and in another place by the leading Members of the late Administration, he had hoped the matter had been set at rest, and that no Member of the late Government would have reopened the question, when so doing could be attended with no practical result. His hon. Friend (Mr. Hamilton) had, as he bad stated, brought forward this question upon several occasions, in the form of an address to the Crown for a change in the system of education adopted by the National Board; but he had not explained his reasons for now bringing it forward in this particular form—namely, that of a Motion for a Committee of Inquiry into the working of the system. He (Viscount Monck) would endeavour to put the House in possession of the reasons which had caused this change of form. He should not refer to the past for the purposes of political recrimination, but he thought there were some subjects which ought to be excluded from the domain of party politics; and they would do a serious injury to the cause of education in Ireland if they gave the people of that country reason to believe that their conduct in respect of this question depended upon which side of Mr. Speaker's Chair they sat. He did not believe his hon. Friend wished directly to destroy this system of education, but he must appeal from the Motion to the speeches which had been made in favour of it, than which he had never listened to any more condemnatory of the system. On the 21st August, 1843, his hon. Friend brought forward a Motion for an humble Address to Her Majesty, praying her to direct a modification to be made in the system of national education. He could then induce only fifteen hon. Members to vote with him. On the 21st June, 1849, he got a minority of 102, in which were included almost all the Members of the late Administration. The same thing occurred in the following year, when his hon. Friend had a still increasing minority. In 1851, the vote was passed sub silentio; but, on the 6th February, 1852, his hon. Friend gave notice of a Motion in the same terms as that which he had made in 1848. Lord Derby's Government was formed before the day appointed for that Motion arrived, and the notice disappeared from the books of the House. The true explanation of the change of form in the Motion that had since been made, would be found in what, with the permission of the House, he was about to state. On the 3rd June, 1852, the right hon. Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole), in reply to an hon. Member, said that the Government certainly thought a variation ought to take place from the previous practice in the distribution of the grant. On the 19th November, 1852, the late Secretary for Ireland (Lord Naas) stated that he was not aware of an intimation having been given by the Government that it was their intention to propose an alteration in the system—that it was not their intention to do so, and that they would view with regret any alteration which would interfere with its efficiency, or deprive the people of Ireland of the benefits they had derived from it. [Lord NAAS: Read on. Read the whole.] The Government, he said, would not initiate an investigation; but if any hon. Member chose to propose it, they would not oppose it. Thus Government appeared to have taken a very creditable resolution, opposed to the one they had at first taken upon imperfect information, and which must have been distasteful to many of their supporters in Ireland. His hon. Friend had stated as the reason for the change in the form of his Resolution, that an issue in fact had been raised in the discussions on the subject; but he wanted to know if that were the true cause of the change—whether that issue in fact had not been raised in 1848, 1849, 1850, and in February 1852, up to which last period the Motion had been brought forward in its old form? He (Viscount Monck) believed this inquiry was not necessary. If the late Government had considered it necessary, they ought to have initiated it themselves. Did they expect that, if a Committee were now appointed, it would report otherwise than every Committee and Commission of that House had reported? Even if it did, could they satisfy men who, like his hon. Friend, had a conscientious objection to the principle on which national education was based, of its propriety? He fully appreciated the essential importance of the religious element in education. But the time had gone by when it was possible for them to contemplate the subject from the religious point of view alone. In this country the education of the people had become an industrial necessity. It must be considered, in another point of view, with reference to the people of Ireland. He agreed with Lord Derby in thinking that there existed a voracious appetite for education in Ireland. The Commissioners, in 1812, stated that the lower classes were already obtaining some kind of education for themselves; and their education might be improved, but it could not be prevented. All the systems which had been attempted up to 1830 had proved failures, because they did not attend to the recommendation of the Commissioners, to provide for secular education without interfering with religious tenets. His right hon. Friend had stated that the basis of the system was noninterference with religious tenets. The principle of combined instruction to children of different denominations must be admitted to be sound in the abstract, as it tended to cultivate that friendship and charity amongst them which every religious creed ought to inculcate. The clergy of the Established Church had precisely the same influence on the minds of the children under their charge as was possessed by the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. Returns had been made last year by the Commissioners of Education, which, when they were laid on the table, he had no doubt would fully bear out his proposition, that where the clergy approved of the system, the children attended the schools. He had obtained some returns from clergymen of his acquaintance, amongst whom was the Dean of Clonfert, which he would read to the House. That clergyman was appointed to the parish of which he the incumbent is now, in November, 1848, at which time all the schools in the district under the care of the clergy of the Established Church were unconnected with the Board, and no Protestant children attended the national schools. There were now eight schools in connexion with the National Board, four of which were under the exclusive superintendence of the Protestant clergy, with an attendance of 160 children of the Established, and 114 of the Roman Catholic Church. There were three of them under the exclusive management of the Roman Catholic Church, at which there were 54 children of the Established, and 264 of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, the observation of his right hon. Friend was just—that if the Protestant clergy exercised their influence, the system might be made much more efficient than it was at present. The workhouse schools in Ireland showed that, where the system was fairly tried, it worked efficiently. There were 163 unions in Ireland, and up to the 31st December, 1851, there were 128 of the workhouse schools under the charge of the National Board. No complaint had been made of the working of the system in those schools, and he had hot heard of a single clergyman having refused to become chaplain to the workhouse school on the ground that the national system was in force in the Establishment. On the contrary, they had everywhere been willing to attend the schools. Much had been said of the conscientious nature of the objections to this system; but when hon. Gentlemen wished to influence the administration of national grants by their conscientious objections, they had. a right to ask whether these objections were reasonable? It was unreasonable for any religious sect to say they were hardly treated because they were not allowed to make their own' religious instruction a condition precedent to giving secular instruction to any children. Dr. Doyle had said before the Committee of 1830 that it was inconsistent with the notions of Roman Catholics to give the Scriptures to a child to read, leaving him to form what opinions he pleased upon them. He agreed with Dr. Doyle in thinking that this was not the proper way to communicate religious instruction to children. They were told that this was a question of the infringement of a great Protestant principle; but it was an infringement of the liberty of conscience to refuse to allow Roman Catholics to be educated in the religious principles of which they approved. He could understand how the clergy of an unendowed Church could oppose this system, but not how it could be opposed by the clergy of a Church which had endowments for the purpose of giving religious education to the people. In conclusion, he would lift his voice in solemn warning to them against taking any steps which would have the effect of weakening public confidence in a system of education which had taken deep root in the affections of the people of Ireland, and which was doing more than any other system had done, to elevate the social condition and provide for the future prosperity and happiness of the people of that country.


said, as far as he understood the question now before the House, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) and the Members of the Government generally had two opinions on the subject of religious education: one an English opinion, applicable to English education; another an Irish opinion, applicable to Irish education. He confessed that he preferred, of the two authorities spoken out of the same lips, the English to the Irish opinion: he thought the opinion that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen entertained as applied to education in England was sound—that the opinion they entertained as regarded Irish education was unsound; and he could not understand why there should be a different system for the poor in Ireland from that which they recognised as right, true, and sound in this country. But he believed that what existed in Ireland existed only, and was tolerated only, because it was in name one thing, and in practice another. He believed that the national system of education in Ireland was, not in form but in substance, a separate system of education. He believed that it was tolerated and existed only because it was a separate system, and that if by any calamity it Could become a united system, it would either fall in pieces, or be productive of the greatest evils to the people of Ireland. He agreed with a very great part of what had fallen from hon. Gentleman on that (the Opposition) side of the House, but had a great difficulty in agreeing with the Motion they had laid on the table of the House, because he was not able to satisfy himself of the motives they had in view. As to the Motion itself, it had his hearty assent, so far as he understood its meaning; but as to the object of its supporters—which, if he misunder- stood it, he should be glad to have explained—he could not feel perfectly clear. He never would put himself in the position of refusing the members of the Established Church what he claimed for the members of his own—the right of having the poor of their own communion educated in the tenets of their own Church. He should be ashamed to put himself in that position; and if they, alleging on any ground that the system of mixed education was not satisfactory to them, wished to have the system of separate education instead, he was, and should be on all occasions, ready to support their claim; because otherwise he did not know how he could reasonably support his own. He said, then, that the system in Ireland which did succeed, was not a system of mixed education; that it failed in the essential elements which it was intended to maintain. It did not bring together Catholics and Protestants in the same school; at least there were very few mixed schools, and the system was not what it pretended to be. It would be infinitely more satisfactory to him, and to a great number of those who belonged to the Catholic Church in Ireland, if the thing could be made consistent in pretensions, honest, and just, and fair in administration—if it could be made a Catholic education for Catholics, a Protestant for Protestants, and a Presbyterian for Presbyterians, each school being what it professed to be. Still there was this difficulty about supporting hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House, that he feared they did not in fact wish to have the fund distributed in fair proportions between the various religious denominations, according to the numbers and necessities of each. He asked them categorically, was that their object, or was it another, at which they were aiming? He wanted a yes or no to remove his doubts upon this subject. In the debates of 1848 and 1849 the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hamilton) and the right hon. Gentleman the member for Midhurst, (Mr. Walpole) and others, clearly enough stated that, they wished to have the grants made to the Church Education Society. Did they now want to establish, not a separate system, but a "united Scriptural education," in which were to be brought together 120,000 children under the tuition of the bishops and clergy of the Established Church, 44,000 of those children being Roman Catholics? If that were the system which they wished to establish by means of a public grant, then, he said, avow it at once; let there be no mistake that it was the old system of the Kildare-street schools which they wished to promote, and in that case they would receive from him and those who thought with him the strongest and bitterest opposition. If these schools were established on the basis laid down in these speeches, then they came to this—that grants were wanted to establish schools into which the children of Catholics were to be allowed for purposes of proselytism. If such was their intention, let it be avowed plainly to the House. It was a matter of question how Catholic children were brought at all into schools in which the formularies of the Church of England were taught. He happened to know the means taken to make them go there. Lord Clancarty, in a letter dated January, 1853—containing therefore the expression of present opinions, intentions, and wishes, not of desires long since departed—instructed his agent who had to deal with a population entirely Catholic, to require that the future farmers and occupiers of land on his estate should not be educated in a state of helpless ignorance—by which "helpless ignorance" his Lordship meant to describe the difference between attending the national schools, where there were Catholic masters, and attending the Church Education Society schools, where there were only Protestant masters. His Lordship "could not, therefore, pass over the conduct of those who had withdrawn from the school"—who had attended the national school instead of his—and had preferred Catholic education to Protestant proselytism; and though "he did not pretend to dictate," he only"required"—he desired his agent to inform the tenants that while "strict justice" would he done to all, favour would be done to none who had failed in having their children "properly instructed"—instructed, "that was, by the Church Education Society. His Lordship would have strict justice, which, where there was misfortune—an arrear of rent—was a term easily comprehended, for those whose children did not go to schools provided for what he (Mr. Lucas) should call the ruin of their souls by the noble Lord and landlord of Ballinasloe. In another place, and only the other day, Lord Clancarty had expressed himself as most anxious that Catholics should have a grant as well as Protestants. Had his Lordship and his friends changed their intentions? Did they mean to vote for Catholics, for Presbyterians, and for Protestants, what their several necessities required? If he saw any chance that hon. Members upon his side of the House would, in good faith, carry out the principle he had shadowed out, he should regret that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland had refused to grant the Committee. For himself, he felt no confidence in the management of the National Board. He regarded it as a system which depended absolutely upon the hands into which its administration might fall, whether it would work for good or for evil. He had heard rumours about the present Archbishop of Dublin having threatened to resign his seat at the Board if certain things were not done according to his wishes, and his own books were not allowed to be used at the schools. It had also been rumoured that the late Lord Chancellor Blackburne had actually a resolution before the Board, which was awaiting the result of the deliberations in the House of Commons. There were, therefore, the two facts before the House—the threat of the Archbishop of Dublin and of the Lord Chancellor to resign, as the first step towards an alteration in the management, if certain books were not allowed to be introduced—and the inevitable consequences, of the withdrawal of the great bulk of Catholic support from the National Board, and the entire destruction of the system, if the use of these were permitted. What he wished to see was, that House lending its assistance to a separate system of education. He was opposed to this so-called united system, believing it to be highly injurious; and, entertaining this opinion, he would not be led to sanction any resolution if it was not made perfectly clear to his mind that the purpose which it contemplated was really intended, and was to be fairly carried out. The interests of the Catholic poor were too sacred to be tampered with in any such manner. Neither would he give his vote in favour of the grant of a large sum for the purpose of establishing proselytising schools, into which the Catholic children were to be dragooned by fanatical or unscrupulous landlords, who might put upon their parents the screw of the "hanging gale of rent," and thus coerce them to send their children to schools in which instruction contrary to their conscientious feelings and their own convictions would be forced upon them from the calamity of their being poor and unprotected.


said, he was sorry the hon. Member had thought it necessary to infuse into a debate, which had hitherto been conducted with so much good temper on both sides, a spirit which would neither conduce to the better understanding of the question, nor throw any additional light upon the matter before the House. The hon. Member had taken that opportunity of making a personal attack upon a respected nobleman, without giving notice of his intention so to do, and in a manner against which that nobleman could not be expected to defend himself.


said, he must beg to explain that he had on the previous day given notice of his intention to the hon. Mover of the Resolution, who, in reply to his inquiry, said it was not necessary that he should give any further notice.


said, he was not before aware of that circumstance; but whether the hon. Member had or had not given the notice, he (Lord Naas) maintained that such an attack upon one who had contributed so largely to the welfare, both temporal and spiritual, of all around him, was not a matter which ought to be introduced into a debate of this kind. Lord Clancarty had, no doubt, used his influence from time to time for the propagation of those principles which he believed to be right; but he (Lord Naas) thought it could in no single instance be proved that he had brought any other influence to bear in support of what he conceived to be the truth, than the legitimate influences of argument and persuasion; and he utterly disbelieved the statement that the noble Earl had exercised his influence as a landlord, by putting the "screw" upon his tenants, or keeping the "hanging gale of rent" over, their heads—a course of conduct which ought to be reprobated in the strongest possible manner by every honest man. The noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Viscount Monck) had made a statement that night which had taken him (Lord Naas) completely by surprise. The noble Lord said that the conduct pursued by hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House was characterised by such inconsistency as to be utterly incomprehensible to him; and in the absence of that candour which usually distinguished his proceedings, the noble Lord quoted a statement which was made by him (Lord Naas) in November last, in answer to a question put to him by the hon. Gentleman the present Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. B. Osborne). What the noble Lord had done was, to read a part of his (Lord Naas's) answer to the hon. Gentleman's question, and neglect to read the rest. Now, it was perfectly true that he did say that the Government of that day were not prepared to propose any alteration in the existing system of national education in Ireland. It was perfectly true that he said they would view with apprehension any attempt that might he made to withdraw from Ireland the benefits which that system had undoubtedly conferred upon that country. These were opinions of which he was not ashamed, and which he would be ever ready to maintain. But in addition to that he said— If it shall seem to any hon. Gentleman on either side of the House either that the object for which that system was originally established has not been fully carried out, or that by an addition to, or the amendment of, any of the existing rules, conscientious scruples might be avoided, and extended spheres of usefulness given to the system, it would be the duty of Government not only to acquiesce, but to assist in such an inquiry to the utmost of their power, and to give any proposal that was made of that nature all the care and consideration which the difficulty and delicacy of the subject demand."—[3 Hansard, cxxiii. 217.] He asked, then, whether, after expressing such an opinion as that, he could consistently act in any other way than to give his cordial support to the Motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. Hamilton). He believed the time had now arrived when it would be advantageous to inquire how far the original intentions of the founders of this system had been carried into effect, and how far the system which had now for twenty years been established in Ireland was or was not a combined and united system of education. By the regulations on which these schools were founded, it was intended that children of different religious denominations should be educated under the same roof. They wished to inquire whether that was actually the case, and whether these schools were or were not a fair specimen of the system. He believed that the reason why the national system had obtained so strong a hold on the sympathies and affections of so great a portion of the people of Ireland was, that it was not a combined system of education. That might be readily proved by a reference to the number of children attending them. He held in his hand a return, made so late as July last, of the number of Roman Catholic, Church of England, and Presbyterian children then attending those schools. The Report stated that on the 31st March, 1852, of 491,927 children, 24,684 belonged to the Established Church, 424,917 to the Roman Catholic, 40,618 to the Presbyterian Church, and 1,908 to other Protestant denominations. In point of fact, the children belonging to the Established Church attending the schools were to the Roman Catholic children in the proportion of 24,000 to 424,000. It was impossible, therefore, to say that the system was a united one. Out of 4,705 schools, 2,778 were under the patronage of Roman Catholic priests, and only 147 under the clergy of the Established Church. To prove that this was not a joint system, he begged to call the attention of the House to the fact, that the number of schools under the joint management of the Roman Catholic priests and the Established Clergy were only eight. He did not wish to deny that the system of national education had conferred great benefit on the people of Ireland. The effect of it had been to diffuse books of a very superior order to those that were issued before it existed, and to give sound instruction to the people in many secular matters. The question now for consideration was, whether they could not, without damaging the efficiency of the present system, make such alterations in it as would enlist the sympathy of the whole of the people of Ireland in its favour. The hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas) had asked him whether he thought it possible to establish a system by which Roman Catholics might be educated by Protestant clergy. In his opinion that was impossible. He disclaimed all desire to convert a system of education supported by the public funds into a system of proselytism. On behalf of a large body of men—out of deference to their conscientious scruples—he wished an inquiry to be instituted to ascertain whether, without damaging or annihilating the present system, they might not be able to secure for it the sympathy and support of that large and influential body. It could not be denied that the rules had been so framed that almost the whole Roman Catholic children of Ireland were included in the schools, and that their effect had been to deprive an influential minority of the advantages of the system. He thought it unworthy any Government to refuse to such a body their demand for inquiry. He disclaimed any intention of obstructing the national system. Hon. Gentlemen were very much mistaken if they supposed that the model schools were specimens of the schools throughout the country. He hoped he had said enough to show that no danger was threatened to the present system—no attack was intended by the Motion now before them.


Having been associated, Sir, with the Earl of Derby in the Administration of Earl Grey, when the system of national education in Ireland was originally founded—having always taken the deepest interest in its success—having, amid every variety of circumstance, uniformly supported it—differing, as I do, from the noble Lord who has just sat down, in thinking that there is an attack, hardly concealed, on the system itself in the present Motion—and feeling that system to be in danger, I should not, I think, be discharging my duty if I failed to address a few words to the House before the debate closes. I was anxious to hear from the noble Lord (Lord Naas) an unequivocal declaration with reference to the pertinent question which was put by the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas). I wished to hear it distinctly stated whether there was on the opposite side of the House, and on the part of those who have promoted this Motion, a desire to obtain for the Church Education Society separate grants for their own schools or not. I know not, of course, what is their intention at present, but I am sure that at no very distant period those who have promoted this Motion to-night, and who brought it forward on a former occasion, did entertain such a wish, and did not conceal it. Now with reference to the proposed inquiry, it is absolutely necessary to consider what has been urged by those who have taken part already in this debate. I think I am not wrong in saying that I heard, or thought I heard, the hon. Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Hamilton) declare to-night that the time had arrived when it was necessary to abandon this "phantom," as he called it, of mixed education in Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] Surely, the hon. Member used that expression; and if he used it, there cannot, I think, be a doubt of the objects and motives which have actuated him in bringing forward the present Motion. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram), who seconded the Motion, as I understood him, put the claims of the parochial clergy as high as this—that it was not only their duty but their right to administer the religious education of the whole of their parishioners. Now, probably this declaration may win for the Motion the support of the hon. Member for Meath. He, too, is de- sirous that education, in connexion with religion, should be confided to priests alone. That hon. Member says, that he is most anxious that in any vote he gives, the interests of the poor of Ireland shall be considered. Now, I am actuated in resisting the Motion by the same motives. It is for the sake of the poor of Ireland—for the sake of the great body of the people of Ireland, that I am most sincerely anxious that the system of mixed education should be preserved. I challenge the facts of the case, and I do contend that in the main the system of mixed education has succeeded to the full extent which its authors, considering the difficulty of the circumstances, could have expected. There are in that country 520,000 children now in progress of being educated under this system. Of that number, 70,000 are Protestant children; and of that number of Protestant children, 24,000 are children belonging to the Church of England, the rest being principally Presbyterians. Now, the hon. Member for Meath says that there is great inconsistency in those who advocate the system of mixed education in Ireland, and at the same time are not prepared to extend it to England. The circumstances of the two countries are entirely different. In England the members of the Established Church constitute the majority; but in England there is also a great variety of sects opposed to the Established Church. The system here has been to grant to the Church, and to the bodies dissenting from the Church, separate grants, with the view of educating the children belonging to the Church and to these different bodies separately; but with this proviso, that the religious education should also be given separately. In Ireland the circumstances are entirely different. The members of the Established Church are a small minority, while the members of the Roman Catholic Church constitute an immense majority; and the endeavour has been, by the exclusion of all religious teaching from the system of joint education, to combine in on a common system the children of the different creeds. Now, it is most important that there should be no doubt of what was the original principle on which the system was founded. I contend that there can be no mistake as to what were the Earl of Derby's intentions when he founded the system. In the original statement of his plan, and in the plan itself as originally established, provision was made that the instruction should be altogether secular. The introduction of Scripture extracts was subsequent to the original introduction of the plan. It formed no part of the original plan; and even now the Scripture extracts are not enjoined as any portion of the teaching in the national schools. They are merely permitted to be taught, subject to the absolute veto of the parents of any one child who may object to the use of these extracts. Such is the rule now; such was the rule from the first commencement of the system. It has been said that the late Government were not unwilling to have permitted an inquiry of this description, provided the proposal had been brought forward by independent Members. I am afraid that under that limitation neither of the Members of the University of Dublin, considering their relations to that Government, could have been the mover or seconder of such a Motion under the late Administration. But was it really necessary for the Earl of Derby—the author of the system—to have an inquiry by a Committee?—to have informed himself of what was the success or failure of the system? We have it from himself, that he, the author of the system, having the deepest interest in its success, and occupying the highest situation in the Government, after conferring with the Lord Lieutenant, and making every inquiry, had come to the conclusion that no material change could be effected in the system consistently with its maintenance. If any doubt could be entertained of what was the feeling of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, who was lately Attorney General, with regard to the question, it would be removed by what I am now going to read to the House. I think I am correct when I state that when he first stood for the University of Dublin, in 1847, I think he stated in his address— I am thoroughly adverse to the delusive scheme of Irish national education. No system, I conceive, can prosper in which the word of God is not sincerely honoured as the greatest blessing to a nation. It should he remembered that the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable; and I cannot compromise that principle. Now, from this principle the hon. Gentleman has never receded. When he became a Member of the Earl of Derby's Government he suspended his hostility to it, having reason to believe that some inquiry would be instituted into it; and with perfect honour, pending that question as to an inquiry, he remained a Member of the Government. After the Earl of Derby had stated that no change was to be effected, it is not our business to inquire what course the hon. Gentleman might have taken; but, consistently with his honour, he continued to hold office up to the time the Government was dissolved; and I must say that I consider his conduct to-night, in bringing forward the Motion, as quite consistent with his avowed hostility to the system. And here, in passing, I may be allowed to make one observation, that it appears most extraordinary that the two principal promoters of the Motion should be in this peculiar position, that they are the representatives of the University which does give to the rich of Ireland a purely secular education, without the slightest tincture or admixture of religious teaching; and at the same time they are the persons who are most prominent in denying to the poor of Ireland the very benefit which that University has so long conferred, and I hope will long continue to confer, on the upper classes. I would observe that the speech of the hon. Member for Meath was a striking practical illustration of a truth for which on former occasions I have contended, and which I think it most desirable that the House should bear in mind before assenting to an inquiry really subversive of the principle of mixed education—and it is this: that the great body of the Protestant clergy of Ireland concur with a very large portion of the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland in earnestly desiring the overthrow of the mixed system of education, with the view of obtaining separate grants for the purpose of proselytising and of teaching in conformity with their respective creeds. Now, what is the fact? I am speaking, of course, on the authority of others; but I have reason to believe that there is a marked difference between the priesthood and the laity, without distinction of creed, on this question. I believe that Dr. Daly, the Protestant Bishop of Waterford, is most hostile to the mixed system of education; and that—I was about to say—notwithstanding the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Waterford (Dr. Foran) is also actuated by the same hostility. But what is the fact, with regard to the laity? The laity of Waterford, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, are most anxious to establish in Waterford a model school in connexion with the system of mixed education, and have presented a memorial to that effect; and I believe that, in pursuance of the wish of the laity, a model school in connexion with the system is about to be established, What has been the result of this system of mixed teaching? I believe that there is no country in Europe where education is given on a larger scale, or where, notwithstanding the religious differences of the people, Scripture knowledge is more widely diffused, than in Ireland at this moment. I contend that a clergyman of the Established Church, who is a patron of a school belonging to the National Society, has at this time every opportunity of administering to the youth of the Church attending that school not only instruction in the Holy Scriptures, but in the Church catechism, and in all the particular doctrines of the Church of England, to the utmost possible extent that he can desire, though not in the hours devoted to secular instruction. Nor is this right peculiar to him. Every minister of the different persuasions—whether Protestant or Roman Catholic—has the same right of attending the school, and of administering religious instruction to the children, in connexion with his own persuasion, day by day. What really is the pretension of the Church Education Society? They pretend that their claim is neither more nor less than this: to be put on the same footing as the Dissenters of England. Now, the Dissenters of England, if they send their children to the schools of the National Society, must submit to have their children taught the Church catechism, and the creed of the Established Church. But in the national schools of Ireland the case is exactly the reverse. The children need not be taught any religious instruction from which the parent dissents; and the desire of the Church Education Society is to obtain aid from the public purse to teach a creed from which the larger portion of the population is dissentient. The object of the present Motion is to establish a system with separate grants; and what will be the consequence? The claim of the Roman Catholics- will then be irresistible. Your grants must then bear reference to the respective numbers of the different sects, and, the Roman Catholics being by far the most numerous, the largest proportion of the grants must be given to them, for their exclusive benefit and use, and much the smallest portion to the Church of England. I warn the House from yielding to this Motrin; it is not in a covert sense seeking to dissemble the desire of abandoning "the phantom of mixed education," but it is for the avowed purpose of establishing a separate system with a separate grant; and what will he the consequence? The claim put forward by the hon. Member for Meath will be irresistible; the claim of the Roman Catholics to a participation in that grant will be in reference to their numbers and that claim, too, will be irresistible. The flame of religious discord would then indeed be spread throughout the country; a proselytising spirit would be added to the evils and sorrows of that country; and, instead of a scheme of peace and concord, you will have a great aggravation of all the ills and misfortunes which now afflict Ireland. Something has been said by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) about the opinion of Dr. Chalmers with respect to mixed education. Now, is it true that Dr. Chalmers thought that secular education without religious teaching is incompatible with the good of a community? I have here the opinion of Dr. Chalmers, which was recorded within a short period of his lamented death. Dr. Chalmers's biographer says— During the last few months of his life the subject of national education was much upon his mind. The following was written about a week before his death, and comes to us sealed with the impressive character of being the last formal expression of his truly enlightened judgment on any great public question. Dr. Chalmers says on this subject, 'I would suffer parents to select what part of education they wanted for their children, and would not force arithmetic upon them if all they wanted was writing and reading; and as little would I force any part of religious instruction that was given in the school, if all they wanted was secular education.' But I have a higher authority than even that of Dr. Chalmers. I have here the opinion of Archbishop Usher on this very point. Archbishop Usher, referring to the state of Ireland in his day, says— The danger of this ignorance being, by the confession of the most judicious divines on both sides, acknowledged to be so great, the woful state of the poor country wherein I live is much to be lamented, where the people generally are suffered to perish for want of knowledge—the superstitions of Popery not doing them half that hurt that the ignorance of those common principles of the faith doth, which all true Christians are bound to learn The consideration whereof hath sometimes drawn me to treat with those of the opposite party, and to move them that, howsoever in other things we did differ one from another, yet we should join together in teaching those main points, the knowledge whereof was so necessary unto salvation, and of the truth whereof there was no controversy betwixt us. And I am satisfied that if Archbishop Usher were now alive, he, the Primate, would be the patron of the national school in the city of Armagh. That is my firm conviction. Amid all these symptoms of religious difference it is impossible to conceal from ourselves that there lurks at the root a degree of political bitterness. Something has been said of the examination of witnesses before the Select Committee of 1837. I was a Member of that Committee. Here are answers to the questions 7,687 and 7,688, with reference to the alleged denial of the use of the Bible:— As soon as the system was announced, meetings were got up in almost every town in Ulster. The great meeting of Rathfriland, at which Lord Roden presided, was the first. The people were led to believe that the Government were about to send round the police to take possession of their Bibles. To this meeting they carried their Bibles and flourished them over their heads, expressing their determination to die in defence of them. After this meeting gun-clubs were established, for the purpose of furnishing the peasantry with guns to protect their Bibles.


Whose evidence is that?


I am not aware of the name. The evidence was given in answer to questions 7,687 and 7,688 of the Committee. If the hon. and learned Member will go to the library he will find it. A pamphlet has been published upon the system of Church Education Society by the Rev. Mr. Trench, and a most able one it is. I think I can show, from a fact mentioned by Mr. Trench, that there lurks under the semblance of religious differences the real venom of political animosity. In one town in Ireland, in which there is a national school and a Church Education school, Mr. Trench says— In company with the landlord of the town I visited, first, the national school, and afterwards the Church Education school. In the national school we found the Scripture extracts were read. On our entering the Church Education school, the landlord, not being well acquainted with the principles of the Church Education school, asked the master whether the Scripture extracts were read in his school? His reply was, 'Oh no, Sir; we are all Tories here!' But in this House the case is far otherwise. We are not all Tories here; and this House will act most unwisely if they consent to this inquiry, invited as they are, with an intention which hon. Gentlemen opposite have hardly dissembled this evening, to overthrow a system which has existed for twenty-two years, and which has, in my opinion, wrought infinite good to the people of Ireland. And is this good stationary? The population of Ireland has been diminished by nearly 2,000,000. Do the numbers of the children attending these schools dimi- nish in the same proportion? On the contrary, the numbers of the children attending the schools have progressively increased during all the period of Ireland's greatest misfortune; and last year when the emigration was the greatest, the number of children in these schools was larger than was ever before known—amounting as it did to 520,000. I hope that Parliament will not, at the moment when its success is most certain and most promising—when the Earl of Derby, the author of the system, who has just had the opportunity of controlling its operation and correcting its defects, has told you that he cannot contemplate any change which shall not be injurious, nay, fatal, to the system—when you have had the example and experience of twenty-two years—when no reason can be given for this inquiry upon which any reliance can be placed, except that supplied by the language of the hon. Member (Mr. Hamilton), when he says that the time has come for abandoning the phantom of mixed education—that phantom being the reality which I have described—when you can have nothing more successful than a system embracing in its sphere a larger relative number of youths than are receiving the same education in any other country in Europe—I hope you will agree with me that it is highly inexpedient to agree to the Motion that has been made to-night.


said, he had listened to the right hon. Baronet to hear a reason for resisting the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin; and he found that his answer was, that the National Board was in danger, but that the system of national education was excellent, and that the more it was inquired into the more its advantages were discovered; therefore the more inexpedient was it to have any inquiry. He believed the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas) spoke the truth when he said the Board was on the point of dissolution; and he believed there never was a moment when inquiry was more necessary than at the present moment. Now, he would answer the question put by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham), because he admitted that, on a subject of this magnitude, there ought to be no equivocation, no subterfuge, and no attempt to catch a vote by misstating a principle, or misrepresenting the motives of persons. The real and the short question was, had they any grievances? Now, he contended that they had, and he would state what they were by reference to the representations made by a clergyman in one of the largest towns in Ireland. That individual told him that he felt the clergy were in a wrong position in being opposed to the Government of the country. He asked him how that arose? His reply was, that having received a grant from the Government, he could not go into his school and read a chapter of the New Testament to the children without in the first instance putting up a placard stating it was his intention to do so. He (Mr. Whiteside) next asked why he did not warn off the premises all persons who might happen to be indisposed to hear read the words which (as the rev. gentleman said) he was bound by his ordination vows to make known to all men. He then asked him if he had any Roman Catholic children in the school. His reply was, "Yes; I have." "Why, then, if you make the school disagreeable to them, you may get rid of them, and read the Scriptures if you please." His answer was, "No; this is a parish school; it is open to all children, whether Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, or Dissenters, who may choose to enter within its walls, and against them I will never close it. The only condition on which they will enter is, that the New Testament shall not be read; and I never will submit to give instructions on those terms." Now, that was their grievance. If the clergy of this country were in a similar position, what, he would ask, would they do? He denied that the Protestants were only a small minority in Ireland. The Protestant population in that country, including all classes, was nearly equal to the population of Scotland; but, even supposing they were in a minority, were they to hear from the lips of a statesman like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, that it was consistent with reason and justice that what was right and true should vary and alter just as it happened that the men who advocated it were in a minority or a majority? Did the right hon. Gentleman think that either the Earl of Aberdeen or the Earl of Derby would alter their convictions? He begged to tell him, that the great bulk of the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland entertained the same opinions now that they did formerly, and ever would, on this question—that they have a right, and nothing more, to read the Scriptures in the Church schools—a right which they dare not exercise, if they obtain a grant from the Government, even in the parish school of the parish church. The hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas) asked a plain and fair question—namely, what they meant to do? Now, if hon. Members would read the Report upon this subject, which contained as many as fifty pages, they would gain a great deal of most valuable information. They would there find an account of the system of education in Ireland, which he certainly read with great astonishment, being, until he perused it, under the false impression that it was the best system that ever existed in any country. But the hon. Member for Meath had put a fair question. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) also asked if they wanted separate grants for the Established Church. Now, that point had been fully discussed; but he would give an answer, and, in the words suggested, namely, as to the best way of modifying the system, in order to meet the just demands of the Protestant laity and clergy in Ireland. The Protestant schools were attended by Protestants separately and almost exclusively; but it was a very high compliment to the Established Church that Roman Catholics, to the number of 40,000, came to those schools, when they very seldom went to the Presbyterian schools. Whether that arose from the children belonging to the Established Church being half Papists or not he did not know. But the right hon. Baronet asked for a direct answer: now, he would not give him an answer himself, but he would do so by reading a quotation from the evidence of the Bishop of Ossory, who was one of the most learned and accomplished men in the Church in Ireland. The plan which he sketched out was as follows. He said the system of secular education was the best that could be devised, considering the wants and all the circumstances of the country; that they should enforce this system in all the schools to which they gave aid, and ascertain that it was carried on bonâ fide in all such schools by means of periodical inspection; that no school should be excluded from connexion with the State on account of its religious instruction; but that every school should be admissible to such connexion which faithfully adhered to its engagements with the Government. That was the evidence of a learned, a sensible, and a prudent man; and he hoped the House would attach due weight to it. He would now leave it to the House to say, if they had an inquiry, whether there would be such an exhibition of religious feeling as the right hon. Baronet had alluded to when he spoke of men getting guns to preserve their Bibles. No debate had been conducted more fairly or more temperately; and he would say of the Roman Catholics what an hon. Member had stated, that it was a mistake to suppose they wholly objected to the Scriptures being read, because he knew of his own knowledge in many parts of Ireland, in which the Roman Catholic clergy allowed their flocks to use the Douay version of the Bible. He could tell the right hon. Baronet that it was a fact that there was a school to which he himself subscribed, which contained 150 children, when he last visited it, two years ago, and of these fifty-five were Roman Catholics. In this school the Scriptures were read every day, and that being so, what use was there in saying the children had been tampered with and frightened in order to induce them to attend the schools? He admitted they were not converted—not proselytised—and that they had not abandoned their religion; for, indeed, he saw no reason why Roman Catholics who read the Bible should change their religion. This inquiry, then, was commenced by justice and fairness. They asked only for inquiry into the existing system; if it proved to be good, then they could maintain it; if not, they must amend it by moderate modifications.


moved the adjournment of the debate.


said, he must oppose the Motion for an adjournment. This was a question upon which the House had frequently deliberated, and all its merits were sufficiently before the House. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hamilton), who had conducted the debate on the other side, had stated the whole case in the most powerful manner against the present national system of education. The hon. and learned Gentleman who last sat down had stated that what the Protestant clergy of Ireland wanted was, that they should have the power of reading the Bible in the authorised version to Roman Catholic children as well as to Protestant children. He was glad the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated thus openly and frankly the object of the Motion now before the House. It was true that object was implied in the nomination of the Committee. The House would observe that what the hon. Gentleman opposite wanted was, not a general Committee to inquire what had been the operation of the national system of education in Ireland, but a Committee to introduce into that system the modifications to which reference had been made during the debate. Well, supposing the House were to agree to those modifications, surely it would not be denied that the Roman Catholic priests should have a power similar to that given to the Protestant clergymen—that they should have the right to teach Protestant children the Roman Catholic doctrines which were contained in the formularies of their Church? Now, he asked the House whether the effect of this would not be to destroy the mixed system of education in Ireland? Agree to the proposal of the hon. Member who introduced the Motion, and they would have to establish at least two separate systems—one Roman Catholic, the other Protestant—and each endowed, perhaps, to the extent of 100,000l. or 120,000l. Why, this would be raising a new Maynooth question. As the subject had been sufficiently discussed already, he certainly should oppose the Motion for adjournment.


said, he had been intrusted with a short petition from Newry, which he had only received that day, in which the petitioners expressed their deep conviction that the national system of education was one of the greatest blessings ever conferred upon Ireland, and that, taking into consideration all the peculiar circumstances of the country, they believed it was the best practical system for Ireland, recognising as it did the right to a full enjoyment of religious freedom, and securing perfect liberty of conscience to those who availed themselves of it. This petition was signed by the Dean of Dromore, the Protestant rector, the Presbyterian and Methodist ministers, and the merchants of the town of all denominations, and it would have received the signature of the Roman Catholic bishop if he had had the opportunity of giving it.


said, he was exceedingly anxious to express an opinion upon this question, in common, he believed, with many other hon. Members; but still, if it was the desire of the House to divide now, he had no wish to oppose himself to the general feeling.


said, he was quite of opinion that this question had not yet been fairly discussed, and he should, therefore, second the Motion of the hon. Member for an adjournment.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The House divided:—Ayes 28; Noes 262: Majority 234.

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 109; Noes 179: Majority 70.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Ker, D. S.
Alexander, J. King, J. K.
Archdall, Capt. M. Knatchbull, W. F.
Bagge, W. Knight, F. W.
Ball, E. Leslie, C. P.
Barrow, W. H. Liddell, H. G.
Bateson, T. Lockhart, W.
Beresford, rt. Hon. W. Lovaine, Lord
Bernard, Visct. Lowther, Capt.
Booth, Sir R. G. Macartney, G.
Brooke, Lord MacGregor, J.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Mandeville, Visct.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Manners, Lord J.
Butt, I. March, Earl of
Cabbell, B. B. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Cairns, H. M. Miles, W.
Campbell, Sir A. I. Michell, W.
Chambers, M. Montgomery, H. L.
Christopher, rt. hon. R. A. Montgomery, Sir G.
Christy, S. Moore, R. S.
Clinton, Lord C. P. Mullings, J. R.
Clive, R. Naas, Lord
Cobbold, J. C. Neeld, J.
Compton, H. C. Neeld, J.
Conolly, T. Newdegate, C. N.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. North, Col.
Cotton, hon. W. H. S. Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J
Davison, R. Palmer, R.
Dod, J. W. Percy, hon. J. W.
Duncombe, hon. W. E. Seymer, H. K.
Egerton, Sir P. Smijth, Sir W.
Emlyn, Visct. Smyth, R. J.
Farnham, E. B. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Floyer, J. Spooner, R.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Stafford, A.
Frewen, C. H. Stanhope, J. B.
Galway, Visct. Taylor, Col.
George, J. Tollemache, J.
Gladstone, Capt. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Goddard, A. L. Turner, C.
Granby, Marq. of Tyler, Sir G.
Greaves, E. Vance, J.
Greenall, G. Vansittart, G. H.
Grogan, E. Verner, Sir W.
Guernsey, Lord Vivian, J. E.
Gwyn, H. Vyse, Capt. H.
Halsey, T. P. Walcott, Adm.
Hamilton, Lord C. Whiteside, J.
Hamilton, J. H. Wigram, L. T.
Hayes, Sir E. Wyndham, Gen.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Wynn, H. W. W.
Hume, W. F. Wynne, W. W. E.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Jones, Capt. TELLERS.
Jones, D. Hamilton, G. A.
Kendall, N. Napier, J.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Bass, M. T.
A'Court, C. H. W. Bell, J.
Anderson, Sir J. Berkeley, Adm.
Atherton, W. Bethell, R.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Biddulph, R. M.
Ball, J. Biggs, W.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Blake, M. J.
Barnes, T. Bland, L. H.
Bonham-Carter, J. Kennedy, T.
Bowyer, G. Keogh, W.
Boyle, hon. Col. Kershaw, J.
Brady, J. Kingscote, R. N. F.
Brand, hon. H. Kirk, W.
Bright, J. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Brocklehurst, J. Langston, J. H.
Brothorton, J. Lawless, hon. C.
Brown, W. Lawley, hon. F. C.
Browne, V. A. Legh, G. C.
Bruce, Lord E. Lindsay, hon. Col.
Bruce, H. A. Locke, J.
Butler, C. S. Lowe, R.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Luce, T.
Caulfeild, Col. J. M. M'Cann, J.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Magan, W. H.
Cavendish, hon. G. Maguire, J. F.
Challis, Ald. Maule, hon. Col.
Clinton, Lord R. Milligan, R.
Cobden, R. Mills, T.
Cockburn, Sir A. J. E. Moffatt, G.
Coffin, W. Monck, Visct.
Collier, R. P. Moncreiff, J.
Cowan, C. Monsell, W.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Morris, D.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Mure, Col.
Denison, J. E. Murrough, J. P.
Dent, J. D. O'Brien, C.
Duff, G. S. O'Brien, P.
Duff, J. O'Connell, M.
Duncan, G. O' FIaherty, A.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Osborne, R.
Esmonde, J. Otway, A. J.
Euston, Earl of Paget, Lord A.
Evans, W. Paget, Lord G.
Fagan, W. Palmerston, Visct.
Feilden, M. J. Peacocke, G. M. W.
Fitzgerald, J. D. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Peel, F.
Forster, C. Phillimore, R. J.
Fortescue, C. Phinn, T.
Fox, R. M. Pilkington, J.
Fox, W. J. Pinney, W.
Gardner, R. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Gaskell, J. M. Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.
Geach, C. Potter, R.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Power, N.
Glyn, G. C. Price, W. P.
Goderich, Visct. Repton, G. W. J.
Goodman, Sir G. Ricardo, O.
Goold, W. Robartes, T. J. A.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Roche, E. B.
Greene, J. Rumbold, C. E.
Greene, T. Russell, Lord J,
Gregson, S. Russell, F. C. H.
Grenfell, C. W. Russell, F. W.
Greville, Col. F. Sadleir, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Sawle, C. B. G.
Grosvenor, Earl Scobell, Capt.
Hadfield, G. Scully, F.
Hanmer, Sir J. Scully, V.
Henchy, D. O. Seymour, Lord
Heneage, G. F. Shee, W.
Herbert, H. A. Sheridan, R. B.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Hervey, Lord A. Stirling, W.
Heywood, J. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Hindley, C. Sullivan, M.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Tancred, H. W.
Howard, Lord E. Thicknesse, R. A.
Ingham, R. Thompson, G.
Jermyn, Earl Thornely, T.
Keating, R. Tomline, G.
Towneley, C. Wilkinson, W. A.
Vernon, G. E. H. Wilson, J.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. P. Winning-ton, Sir T. E.
Vivian, J. H. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Vivian, H. H. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Walmsley, Sir J. Young, rt. hon. Sir J.
Wells, W. TELLERS.
Whalley, G. H. Hayter, W. G.
Whitbread, S. Berkeley, C. G.