HC Deb 14 July 1853 vol 129 cc166-201

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he would beg to move that this Bill be read a Second Time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


* Mr. Speaker, the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) has moved the Second Reading of this Bill, without one single word of argument, or even of explanation. Yet this Bill has undergone no previous discussion; and the present stage is the most important in its progress; since the success of the Motion before us decides the principle upon which our legislation on the subject is to be constructed.

Yet the measure thus thrown on the table, without ceremony, is one of the most important in itself and in its consequences which this House has ever decided.

it is national and imperial in its extent; and it involves the highest interests, not merely of the Established Church of Scotland, but of our common Christianity: and to not only affects these highest interests, which many other measures might impair or hazard, but in its direct operation it dissolves a solemn contract made between two independent nations, by which the security these very interests was intended to be for ever maintained.

Am I not justified in this language by the express words of the preamble? Does not the preamble recite the Statute of the Scottish Parliament on which I rely? Does not that Statute provide that in all time to come no Principal or Professor shall be capable of bearing any office, in any University within the kingdom of Scotland, but such as shall profess the faith of the Church of Scotland, and shall conform to its worship, and shall submit to its discipline? Does not the Bill in your hands admit all this? and does it not, then, proceed to repeal it?

The noble Lord will not deny it: he glories in the fact.

The preamble proceeds to give the reasons on which my noble Friend has thus far been silent. They are briefly two: one, that the contract is not suited to the present condition of Scotland; the other, that it tends to the injury of Education in that country. These may be very good reasons for the dissolution of a partnership by mutual consent, but are no reasons at all for its dissolution at the will of one of the parties.

Who are the parties in the actual case; and what is the origin of the contract?

After the admission of the statutory right of the Church of Scotland—an admission distinctly set forth in the preamble—it is hardly necessary to reply, except very summarily, to these two questions.

The parties are the Church of Scotland represented by the Parliament of Scotland on the one hand; and the Parliament of England on the other hand. The origin of the contract was the apprehension that the Church of Scotland, the Church of the weaker kingdom, would suffer by the union of that kingdom with England.

When in the early years of the last century the people of both countries were considering the proposals for a legislative union, there was a strong excitement in Scotland on the probable danger to which the Church there established might be exposed by that measure. This excitement is found in the pamphlets of the day; but the apprehension in which it rose is embodied in the formal proceedings of the Parliament of Scotland. I hold in my hand one of those pamphlets, The Insecurity of a printed Overture for an Act for the Church's Security. It infers, that the Church of Scotland is in danger by the union; while, on the contrary, there is "a sufficient security provided for the Church of England and her Hierarchy, which as manifestly had no need thereof." The celebrated speech of Lord Belhaven, often reprinted at the time, is another exposition of the state of public feeling. To every literary man it is known by its own merits; to all it is known by the first Lord Melville's parody of it on the occasion of the onion with Ireland: but it defies a parody in respect to the dangers which threatened the Church of Scotland. He says— I think I see a National Church founded upon a rock, secured by a claim of right, hedged and fenced about by the strictest and pointedest legal Sanction that Sovereignty could contrive, voluntarily descending into a plain upon an equal level with Jews, Papists, Socinians, Arminians, Anabaptists, and other Sectaries. And again, at the close, he added— And above all, my Lord, the security of our National Church and of all that is dear unto us must be previously established to us, if practicable, before we conclude the first article. These, if you please, are the apprehensions of individuals; and may prove their own sincerity—their foresight, or their folly. But what did the Church itself, and what did the Parliament? Let it always be remembered that the Church of Scotland was not only recognised and established by the State, but its formulary of doctrine was incorporated in an Act of Parliament. Yet it was nevertheless contended, that the Claim of Right and the Act of 1690 placed the Church of Scotland on an insufficient foundation; since they placed it on the ground of the "inclinations of the people," or, rather, "on the inclinations of the generality of the people;" as if it were a mere question of expediency to be decided by a numerical majority, in other words, "by the generality of the people:" and therefore, and for this cause, a compact was made as between two corporations, without reference to merits, without reference to third parties, and without reference to anything but the competence of the two contracting parties to bind each other in the matter. Parliament, therefore, was not content in such a crisis with its own Acts, which, after all, constituted no more than an internal security: it was necessary to protect the Church against hazard from without—against an infringement of its rights from the influence of a too powerful neighbour—about to be its mate, or its mistress: and, therefore, before the Parliament of Scotland would send Commissioners to meet the Commissioners of England, for the purpose of considering the terms of any union, it specifically limited the powers of the Commissioners of Scotland, and restrained them from even treating of any thing connected with the state, condition, and doctrine of the Church. The Parliament—having adopted the Church of Scotland—as a corporation, if you will, taking it in its lowest sense—consented to negotiate with England about a union between the two nations; on the preliminary condition that the supremacy of the Church of Scotland within its own kingdom—its rights and its duties—might be for ever secured: and England, on the other hand, took Scotland, with its liabilities—if you like so to call them—its burthen or its blessing. There were not wanting then, and there have not been wanting since, on the south side of the Tweed, those who regarded the recognition of a Presbyterian establishment founded on the subversion of an episcopal form of worship and discipline as the legal adoption of error, and as checking the progress of the truths of the Church of England: there were not wanting those in Scotland who felt that the power and wealth and rank of the country would all pass over to the cause of episcopacy, whatever statutable rights might remain—provided and secured to the National Church. But the two contracting parties, the two nations, were competent to make the contract: they made it: and I contend that it is not a question of discretion with us now whether the bargain were right or wrong; it was signed and sealed with all the solemnity which can ever attach to treaties between two kingdoms; and we have no other duty but to observe its obligations.

"Cannot, then, this compact be ever broken, or its conditions altered or qualified?" "Yes," said my noble Friend not now present (Lord J. Russell), on another occasion; "yes, if it be for the advantage of both parties." Agreed: if both parties be consentient to the alteration, as they were to the original enactment. But can they ever be replaced in their first estate? Each has necessarily lost its own independent existence, and can no longer treat for the dissolution of a compact—in other words, for the abandonment of a condition which one of them specifically required before it would hear of any other proposal. Least of all, can the one party, which happens to be the strongest, say, that her strength is sufficient reason for the abrogation. That which would be unjust between individuals is unjust between nations.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, the parent of the Bill, of which the noble Lord is the guardian, said that a national compact might be broken if it were for the advantage of both parties. But I would ask the learned Lord, if happily he were present, can any compact, public or private, be altered at the pleasure of one of the parties? He must answer, no: because if otherwise, there never was any compact in the world, in the only useful sense of the word and thing. A bargain must bind both parties, or neither. The Great Western Railway Company and the North Western may distribute (as they please, between themselves) all England to the west of the meridian of St. Paul's; and having united in the bargain may unite to dissolve it: but no one can contend that either at his own caprice, and still less on a view of his own interest, or what be might call the interest of the other, is at liberty to impose his own will on the rights of the other.

It is said, however, that, practically, if not formally and technically, both parties, the Scottish nation and the English, are united in a desire to abrogate the present and exclusive distinctions of the Established Church of Scotland; and it is said, secondly, that if the present measure be a violation of the Act of Union, that Act has been repeatedly violated before. I will at once notice this last argument, as, for courtesy's sake, I call it.

Independently of the moral objection to the argument, I deny the fact on which it is founded: that is, I deny that there is any analogy between the infractions or alterations of fiscal and commercial regulations, or the proportions of Parliamentary representation, as made by the Act of Union, on the one head, and this great and solemn provision for the security of the Church which the Parliament of Scotland required and insisted on, before it would take any other and minor matter into consideration. I am aware, that the authority of the Act of Union was invoked in the Parliament of Great Britain on the Church-Presentation-in-Scotland Bill. in 1712, when the House was moved, that the two Acts passed in the Parliament of Scotland, 1690 and 1695, be read, as in verecundiam; but I have yet to learn that, at all events, either of those Acts affected the rights of the Church of Scotland in its relation to the national education of the people, or to the maintenance of its doctrine and worship in the Universities of the land;—objects secured, as both Legislatures thought, from all doubt or hazard in 1706–7, and objects as distinctly affected, hazarded, destroyed by the proposed legislation of 1853.

But if the case were otherwise; if the Act of Union have been previously infringed, does such infringement justify any other? Do two wrongs make one right? I believe that there are few societies in England—I trust that the House of Commons is not an exception—in which such a proposition would not meet with an indignant negative. In fact, it is, in more polished and less familiar language, maintaining that a man having picked another's pocket yesterday, is therefore entitled to pick his pocket to-day.

To speak more seriously; the proof, if proof there were, of any former violation of the Act of Union, strengthens, rather than impairs, obligation of honour to maintain what is still left in our own power as trustees, to preserve for those whose interests were confided to the care of our forefathers, and whose claims are now solemnly urged upon ourselves.

But, said the learned Lord—and I now revert to his first assumption—"the people of Scotland are in favour of my measure;" and I cannot conceal from myself, that many of those representatives of the people of Scotland, who in this House, on former occasions, have strenuously resisted measures founded on the same destructive principle which is embodied in the present Bill, have now so far withdrawn their opposition—I might too truly say, have now so far given their support to the learned Lord, as greatly to justify his statement. Yet the onus probandi is upon himself; and notwithstanding the admission which I have just made, I contend that the Lord Advocate has as yet failed to prove that the great body of the people of Scotland, above all, of the Church, and of the Universities, whose connexion with the Church was, by the Act of Union, declared to be perpetual and inviolable, are in favour of the mighty change which is involved in the present measure. No, Sir, I believe that the mind of the Church of Scotland is as strong and determined now, as it was one hundred and fifty years ago; and that the mind of the Universities is as united with the Church in principle and in affection as it was when their connexion was first formed. I do not deny, that those who call themselves the patrons and founders of one of those Universities are in favour of the dissolution of that connexion. I do not deny that some eminent men in other Universities would rejoice in severing them from the Church as an establishment. But the principle of the present Bill goes much farther, and separates the general teaching of the Universities of Scotland, not only from its Church, but alike from every and any form of religious belief.

But what is the legal and recognised exponent of the Church of Scotland? Is it not the General Assembly in its formal Session? Is it not the Presbyteries and the Synods throughout the land? Does the General Assembly waver in the maintenance of the claim of the Church to be the authorised instructress of the people? Do the Presbyteries palter with their obligation to maintain the claim of the National Church to be the national teacher of the people? The General Assembly in their petition presented by my hon. Friend the Member for the county of Lanark (Mr. Lockhart), states, that the Bill not only destroys the close connexion between the Church and the Universities (which the Legislature intended to secure for ever) but makes no provision for a profession of religion in any form, by lay instructors of youth; and that this close and ancient connexion— and its continuance for ever without alteration, was guaranteed by the Act of Security which was passed by the Scottish Parliament, as a preliminary to even treating of an union with England, which was inserted in the Treaty of Union thereafter formed, and which thus became part of an international compact between two independent kingdoms. And the General Assembly adds— That the same treaty provided, that the successive Sovereigns of the United Kingdom should, each at his or her accession, solemnly swear to maintain the provisions of that Act in all their integrity. And are the different Presbyteries of Scotland lukewarm in the defence of the common rights of the Church? Can the learned Lord point to any variation of opinion among the different Presbyteries of the Established Church? and here, since it has been insinuated to me—though privately and with all courtesy—that, when the Members from Scotland now sitting around me are in favour of the Bill, I ought not, as an English Member, to be the first to oppose it. I feel bound to reply, first, that I regard this as an imperial measure, and no local and private Bill with which an English Member may have little concern; and, secondly, that I have had for many years the honour of receiving the confidence of great bodies of the people of Scotland; that I presented, many years ago, the largest petition which, up to that time, had ever been signed in Edinburgh—it was against the fatal Bill of 1829—and that I have on the present occasion been entrusted with more petitions against the Bill than perhaps any other Member, whether representing an English or a Scottish constituency; and I feel bound, accordingly, to give such prominence as I can, not only to my own views, but to those of the different bodies who have entrusted their interests to my advocacy.

The petition from the Presbytery of Haddington, after reciting their rights under the Act of Queen Anne, cap. 6, 1707, proceeds to state that— They cannot consider the said Act to stand on the same footing with Acts passed after the union of the two kingdoms. That it was especially provided, before the Estates of Scotland agreed to proceed with the Treaty of Union, that it should be held and observed in all time coming as a fundamental and essential condition of any treaty or union to be concluded between the two kingdoms, without any alteration thereof or any derogation thereto in any sort for ever. The petitioners state that the connexion between the Church and the Universities of Scotland is as firmly secured by a long succession of Acts of the Scottish Parliament as is that between the Church of England and our English Universities; and without stopping to inquire whether there be any and what difference in the cases, I admit at once, that, so far as the arguments of the learned Lord are concerned, they might be applied by others to the dissolution of the connexion which is still firmly and strictly maintained in England.

The petition from the Presbytery of Weem, after reciting the legal position of the Universities and of the Church of Scotland, states— That the Universities were placed in this position not only for the security of the Church, but also and more especially for the security of Education—that the education of youth might be entrusted to men of sound principles. And they add— That the Church of Scotland little deserves to be deprived of the superintendence of the education which she was the first to establish, and has ever been so zealous to promote—a result, also, which" [as they emphatically impress upon the House] "cannot be reached at but through the violating of national faith, and of rights which the Sovereign is solemnly sworn to uphold. For many reasons, but especially because the different Presbyteries express their own views better than I could—I have wished the House to receive their own words. I will add only one other extract from their petitions. It is taken from that addressed to us on the 12th day of April last by the Moderator of the Presbytery of Dunoon. The petitioners state, as is not only patent in the Bill but admitted by its authors, that the measure avowedly infringes the Act of Security by which an independent nation, in making a voluntary treaty with another nation for their joint interests, had expressed and absolutely reserved indefeasibly a right of its own"— Namely, the maintenance of the integrity and the rights of its Church. The Presbytery further state that the superintendence exercised by the Church over the education of the youth of Scotland, "has not in time ages past been unproductive of the fruit of godliness and sound learning;" while the present Bill will leave "in most instances wholly defenceless"—"the religious opinions and principles of those who attend the Universities of Scotland." They complain of the utter insufficiency of the proposed declaration, which requires little, and forbids nothing but the exercise of the functions of a Professor "to the prejudice or subversion of the Church of Scotland as by law established;" and the petitioners proceed most conclusively to urge— That by the terms of that declaration a wide scope is left to Professors who may be inimical to the Church of Scotland for undermining its interests and stability, without their exercising directly and openly the functions of their office to its prejudice or subversion; and that even in the cases in which such exercise of those functions might appear, the necessity, in order to check it, of a process at law before the Court of Session on the complaint or information to the Lord Advocate, of the Patrons of the Universities who may have no attachments to that Church, or of the Senatus Academicus, the great majority of the members of which would themselves be freed from having any connexion with it, or of students, least of all parties likely to promote such serious proceedings against their instructors, must render practically of no avail the only protection proposed by the Bill to the Church of Scotland in that most important particular—namely, the academical instruction of the people of which it is the Established National Church. And they close the petition with their prayer that the House will refuse its assent to any part of that Bill now before us.

In that prayer I cordially concur; in the statement and in the reasonings which justify that prayer, I equally concur. The existing law of the land, founded and guaranteed more solemnly than any other statute on the books, requires, in relation to the Church and the Universities of Scotland that for securing the worship and discipline of that Church in all time coming, no Professor in St. Andrew's, Glasgow, Aberdeen, or Edinburgh, shall be allowed to exercise his functions without acknowledging, first, the principle of the civil government of the land, that is, the Protestant succession; and, secondly, the integrity of the established Church of the land, in its doctrine, worship, and discipline. These objects the Church of Scotland still values: these objects its General Assembly and its Presbyteries still pray the House to maintain; these objects the Bill violates, as its authors avow.

Yet this is the Bill which the silent eloquence of the noble Lord is to be sufficient to carry through the House!

Have the friends of the Bill proved the assent of the people of Scotland to their measure? or is it an axiom on which they rest, and which requires our assent as by instinct—"that whatever is, is wrong?" There are, I fear, some in this House who would hardly shrink from the adoption even of such an avowal; but my learned Friend the Lord Advocate cannot subscribe his honoured name to such a doctrine. The fact of an Establishment does not necessarily imply an abuse; and before he injures an establishment, or hazards it, he is bound to prove not only that it has no rights, but that it has no merits.

And here let me pause to remark, that the whole subject of the connexion of the Universities of Scotland with its Church was formally examined a few years ago by a Royal Commission; and that the continuance of this connexion is recommended as much by the judgment of those Commissioners, comparatively disinterested as they were, as it is asked and urged by the great body chiefly and immediately affected by the present measure, the Established Church of Scotland. The words of the Royal Commission are these: "Considering the importance of preserving the connexion which has hitherto subsisted between the Universities and the Church of Scotland;" and proceeding specially to refer to the theological chairs, they resolve, that further legislative provisions are necessary in order to give more stringent powers to the Established Church over such chairs; and they resolve, accordingly, that a law ought to be brought in for that purpose; though— Without compromising or abridging the powers, whatever they may be, of the Church to exer- cise superintendence over all Professors in any of the Universities under the existing laws of Scotland, in regard to the religious opinions which they may disseminate. I have now shown you, Sir, how the measure placed in your hands dissatisfies the Church of Scotland. I have shown you how it must dissatisfy the eminent men—the Earl of Aberdeen among the number—who, a few years ago, devoted their time, under the authority of the Crown, to investigate the rights of that Church, the duties of the Universities, and the interests of both, and of the whole people of Scotland in the question. I ask my noble Friend opposite, who has adopted the charge of the present Bill, whether it satisfies any one else?

Does it satisfy the Synod of United Original Seceders? I hold in my hand their petition, addressed to us on the 29th April, 1853, as presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Hon. A. Kinnaird). Now, while, as might naturally be expected from their the and their origin, they, as seceders from the Church, consider as "highly objectionable" that clause of the Bill which forbids professors " to use their influence in any way to the prejudice or subversion of the Established Church;" and while with equal consistency, they pray that the existing law, which requires subscription to the formula of that Church ought, so far as the Bill goes, "to be rescinded;" they not less earnestly deprecate the repeal of that part of the law which makes subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith imperative, more especially as said Confession is still the acknowledged subordinate standard of all the Presbyterian denominations in this country. And, above all— that all who are entrusted with the responsible office of conducting our educational institutions, more especially Professors in our Universities, ought to be men not only of unblemished moral character, but of sound religious principles. They regret the present measure, even though it goes no further than the non-theological professors, because— besides being a still further departure from the system established at the Reformation, it would have the effect of dissociating religion entirely from secular education, and of admitting parties to chairs in Universities, avowedly hostile to all religion, and whose influence on the morals of those under their tuition could not but be deeply injurious. I will not stop to ask whether the Bill satisfies the Free Church. It might perhaps desire that the Established Church should not retain its exclusive privileges as secured to it by the existing law. It never can desire to separate religion from education.

Does the Bill satisfy the lay liberals in Scotland? When they were assembled in Edinburgh in August last year, it was for the purpose of effecting the abolition of all tests on admission to the Universities of Scotland. When they were assembled in March this year, they were summoned by a call specifically to support the learned Lord's measure:—"All favourable to this object are invited to attend." An account of their proceedings is in my hand. Mr. Greig, after contrasting their limited views now with the broad expanse before them in August, 1852, said, "he looked on the Bill, to say the least of it, as objectionable." What more could be said against it by one of its enemies I know not; I am content with this account of it, given by, one of those who came to a public meeting invited to support it. Yes, something more I can be said against the Bill, and it was said by the same gentleman. I find these words in Mr. Greig's speech in reference to the Declaration—which, after all, the Bill contains—that "it would be a snare to some men, and a stumbling-block to others." Mr. Peddie was less hostile: he had contrived to satisfy himself that the Declaration was no test: "at the same time he regarded it as a blot in the Bill, which he would far rather have seen away." [Mr. COWAN: Hear, hear!] I will soon reach the hon. Member for Edinburgh, who cheers me. It will be his turn very soon. Professor Fleming "earnestly hoped that the Bill would be passed, though he, too, admitted that it was not in all respects as he would have liked." And then at this meeting of the "friends of the Bill," rose the hon. Member for Edinburgh, and "confesssed that he was much of the opinion expressed by Mr. Peddie, that the Bill would have been better had the Declaration been omitted." He added, what I trust those hon. Gentlemen, who have felt themselves at liberty to withdraw their opposition to the principle of the Bill, will henceforth at least remember; they will see from it, that they lose the safeguard of centuries, without securing the continuance, even for a day, of the poor substitute which they have been content to accept. They abandon the national pledge which their ancestors required and obtained at the Union, and receive a piece of paper from the Lord Advocate, which the hon. Member for Edinburgh will tear in pieces to-morrow. I find by this same record before me, that Mr. Cowan is reported to have said, that he hoped "the Declaration would be omitted as the Bill went through Committee." What do you gain then, by conceding the principle? by refraining from opposing, as you have always hitherto done, measures of this kind? When you have descended from your own inexpugnable height, are you safe in your new position on the plain?

But what had Dr. Lees already said? He had told his meeting, that, in his judgment, "the Bill now proposed did away with the test completely." Dr. Candlish, on the other hand, it is true, instructed his hearers—in reference to the conduct of professors when the Bill should be passed" that no honest man would use the functions of an office constituted for a different purpose altogether for another object different from that for which that office was constituted." But Dr. Lees had already said, that he understood the Declaration "to apply to a Professor when in his chair merely; but that under other circumstances, by this Bill he would have perfect freedom of speech." Thus the non-theological chairs at all events would have perfect freedom, not merely to attack the Church, not merely to undermine it as an Establishment, but to assail our common Christianity. Before entering his chair in the morning, and on leaving in the afternoon, Professor A. or Professor B. may—if Dr. Lees be right, one of the main supporters of the present Bill—engage in any and every measure hostile to the Church, and may carry the prestige of his name and office into any assembly convened for the overthrow of that Church, or may teach or print, with all the sanctions which his station in the University conveys, any doctrine at variance with the Gospel of our salvation.

"But these are unpremeditated expressions of individual opinion, even though delivered in a public meeting: they bind no one, not even the speakers." Well, but what are the opinions in respect to this Bill, as they are solemnly and deliberately pronounced and sealed by those who are pleased to call themselves not merely patrons but founders of the University of Edinburgh—the Lord Provost, Magistrates and Council of that city? How far do they approve of the Bill of the Lord Advocate? They, say, that, while they "cordially approve" of the repeal of that security which the existing law gives to the Church of Scotland, they con- sider that the Declaration which is to be substituted for it (and on the faith of which my honourable Friends have given in their adhesion to the learned Lord's Bill), is "not only unnecessary, but very objectionable;" and they observe incidentally, that it would "be very unjust to honourable and distinguished men, many of whom have held office nearly a lifetime"—they must have been admitted very young—to require existing Professors to make this declaration.

Be this as it may, I am entitled to ask my honourable Friends near me, whether they feel quite satisfied in the compromise which they have made with my noble Friend opposite? But then they tell me—and the Lord Advocate himself intimated the same a short time ago—that, whereas, his first draft of a Declaration was, and is, rejected by the friends of his Bill in Scotland, be will, nevertheless, impose a far stronger Declaration upon them; and since I came into the House this day, the courtesy of my noble Friend opposite has placed in my hands a copy of the Bill as its author would desire it to appear when it shall leave the Committee, if, unhappily, the second reading shall be carried. It is true, that the Declaration to be proposed, is far more stringent in the new Bill, than in that before us, however objectionable the Bill itself may, after all, remain; and it is also true, that there is not in the Preamble that needless recital of the law and the fact which the learned Lord instantly proceeds to repeal and annul by the Bill as it stands. But the law and fact remain, whether the learned Lord quotes them, or ignores them. He may hide his head, and may say, that he does not see the Claim of Right, the Act of Security, and the Act of Union; but they remain, nevertheless, visible to all other men. And let me remind the House, that we are dealing, not with a Bill, as it may hereafter come forth from a Committee, but with the actual Bill, as printed, and as in our hands; and which we are required to pass thus hastily. [Lord DRUMLANRIG: Hastily?] I withdraw the word if the noble Lord objects to it; and substitute the words, without discussion: since, though the Bill has been four months before the House, it has hitherto undergone no discussion; and is now brought forward on this its important stage without a single word in its favour on the part of my noble Friend (Lord Elcho), as if he thought that it might be at once and easily decided.

Now, the Bill, as it stands, and even as it may be amended by the Lord Advocate, distinctly separates the teaching in the Universities of Scotland, from all necessary connexion with any religion, those chairs only which are directly and exclusively devoted to theology, being of course and necessarily excepted. I have taken my present part in the matter, not because I am individually a member of the Established Church of Scotland. It is unnecessary for my argument to state, how much or how little I differ or agree with that Church: but I should be ashamed of myself, if I could so far compromise my sense of the blessings of our common Protestantism, as to be a party to any measure for weakening that bulwark of Protestantism which the Establishment in Scotland presents. I believe, further, that, whatever be its form of government, the Church of Scotland holds the great fundamental truths of our common Christianity: and I believe this the more confidently since the Free Church has not varied a hair's breadth from the doctrines of the Establishment. Irrespectively, however, of any such consideration, I oppose the present Bill, because it violates rights secured by the most solemn treaty between two nations: it does more:—it repeals by the mere might of the stronger, a compact made with a weaker power.

These considerations, powerful and irresistible as I regard them, are, however, as nothing compared with the principle on which the present Bill is founded, namely, that the general education of a nation may be conducted without any reference to God, or His Word, or His Will.

I believe that it is the duty of a nation to provide where it can, but, above all, to continue where it finds, some security for the religions education of the people. The object of those who oppose the Bill is not merely to secure the Church of Scotland in all its rights, but to provide some security that teaching generally should not be hostile to religion generally. I do not enter into the question of tests for the pupil; but this I say, that where there is no test for the pupil, it is still more important that there should be a test for the teacher: and it is not sufficient that there should be merely a negative test as provided by the present Bill, even in the proposed Amendment. That negative test is limited to not destroying: it says nothing about supporting; it is further limited only to the use to be made of the Professor's chair. Why, David Hume might have made such a declaration. Tory as he was, he might not have cared to destroy any establishment. And have we not had experience enough since the year 1829, to enable us to measure the value of a test about "not weakening or destroying," &c.? Does any one suppose that infidelity would be taught systematically and avowedly ex cathedrâ in the Universities of Scotland? It has been said that articles on direct religion are not always bad even in the French Encyclopædia: and unbelievers in the present day, if unhappily sincere, know their work too well to begin by any direct attacks on our faith. No: they will first discard what they call "Sectarian opinions," that is, any form of religion which refers all things to God and His word. Their pupils will be taught the power and the omnipotence of man's reason: they will be idolaters of talent: instead of being humble disciples of God's truth, and patient inquirers after knowledge—looking to Him as its source, and to His glory as the end—they will be materialists in fact if not in profession. Instead of raising science to the level of religion, they will lower religion to the level of science. I hold, that secular science ought to be taught with a direct reference to religious truth. There are few things which a man cannot do better in exact proportion to his acting on religious principle: there is nothing which he cannot teach better. Would any father send his child to be taught any thing by a sceptic rather than by a Christian? Would he have him learn astronomy from Laplace rather than from Newton? May not the Professor of Moral Philosophy teach that conscience is a fiction? May not Materialism be taught from the chair of Anatomy? May not the Professor of Geology deny the Mosaic account of the deluge? or maintain the eternity of matter—never beginning, never ending?

But it is said—admitting all this—what security against it do you provide by any test or any declaration?

A very imperfect security, I admit: but far better than none. You do not abolish oaths because an infidel may take them and break them. Afrer all, they are the best securities for civil government: and no nation has ever existed without them. And I say that the Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism and the Shorter Catechism, as assumed to be adopted by every Professor in Scotland, even if he do not ex animo subscribe them, cannot but have a powerful influence upon his mind. If he do not conform his teaching to them, he cannot speak against the truths which they embody. For very shame's sake, he must be withheld from making his chair a pulpit of infidelity; and, if he be no more than a man of honour, he cannot make his office the means of inculcating doctrines the reverse of those which he has pledged himself to support.

But the Preamble states that the provision for the perpetual connexion of the Universities with the Established Church of Scotland, "is not suited to the present condition of Scotland; and tends to the injury of education in that country." If either were true, is there no other remedy than the violation of the most solemn of all compacts? Yes, there is. The learned Lord may establish another University for those who cannot conform to the principles of those already existing. Is this a new suggestion? Is it made by the supporters of the old institutions? On the contrary, I find it as the closing paragraph of a statement drawn up by the deputation appointed at a general meeting held in Edinburgh, April 3rd, 1845, to obtain the repeal of the actual law which connects the Universities of Scotland with its Church; and the second name subscribed to that statement, is that of one whom I feel an honour to be allowed to call my friend, Sir David Brewster, and whose wishes I most reluctantly oppose on the present occasion. After reviewing the case, into which I need not enter, inasmuch as the first sentence admits the full force of the present law, the memorialists add— This state of things cannot much longer continue. If the existing restrictions are not removed, the various religious bodies who are aggrieved by the present system, will feel constrained, however reluctantly, to unite in the erection, on a broad and liberal basis, of a Scientific and Literary University, in which they shall be able to place unlimited confidence. We deprecate such a result. We are most anxious to strengthen and extend our National Seminaries of Education—not to impair their efficiency. We are fully alive to the great and manifold evils of sectarian instruction; and we therefore most earnestly desire that our Universities and Colleges should be adapted to the present state of Scotland, so that all sects may continue, as heretofore, to unite cordially in their support. It is enough for me to contend that it is a less evil to establish a new University than to impair the Universities now in force by destroying their connexion with the Established Church, and by hazarding their connexion with our common Christianity.

Once more, let me remind the House, that the greater security of the Church of Scotland was the object of the Claim of Right: that the Claim of Right was incorporated in an Act of the Parliament of Scotland: that the Parliament of Scotland would not open a conference for an Union with England, except on the condition that the Commissioners should not have power even to treat of any other measure relating to the Church of Scotland: and that the two Parliaments are united in confirming the rights of that Church.

Has not the Church of Scotland another security which I have not yet mentioned? Even before the proclamation of the Accession of a Sovereign to the Throne of these realms, that Sovereign, as the first obligation of Royalty, takes an oath prescribed by the Act of Union, and subscribes a declaration for the security of the Church of Scotland.

I find in the Gazette of the 20th June, 1837, that— Her Majesty at Her first coming into the Council, was this day pleased to declare, that, understanding that the law requires that She should at Her accession to the Crown, take and subscribe the oath relating to the security of the Church of Scotland, She was now ready to do it at this first opportunity, which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to do according to the forms used by the law of Scotland. Among the Members of the Privy Council recorded as present on that occasion, are the Earl of Aberdeen, Lord John Russell, and Lord Palmerston.

Every year at the appointment by the Sign Manual of a Lord High Commissioner to represent the Queen at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Her Majesty renews, through the great officer of State, the solemn guarantee of Security to the Church of Scotland.

I appeal to the sworn advisers of the Crown: I appeal to the learned Lord who has introduced this Bill: I appeal to every one who has read it, whether it be calculated to maintain the rights of the Church as secured by the Union, and confirmed by the oath of the Queen. On this issue I stand: and believing that the position is impregnable, I will not abandon it, and I will not despair.

I move that the Bill be read a Second Time this day three months.


seconded the Motion.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."


said, he wished to ask the noble Lord opposite (Lord Elcho), for the satisfaction of several Scotch Members on his (Colonel Blair's) side of the House, whether the Bill, which had now been on the table of the House for the last three months, was only to be read a second time pro formâ, in order that an amended Bill might be brought forward before the House went into the Committee, as he expected that certain alterations were to have appeared in this Bill?


said, that there were some alterations in the present measure which had been laid fully before the House by his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, and had been circulated throughout Scotland, where he believed they were perfectly known. He much regretted that it should have fallen to him, in the absence of his right hon. and learned Friend, to defend the principle of the measure before the House, and to oppose the Amendment of the hon. Baronet opposite. But that regret was much diminished when he reflected that the measure was in itself reasonable and just, and, he hoped he might be excused for saying it, that he considered the opposition of the hon. Baronet was both unreasonable and unjust. There was one circumstance, however, that gave him considerable pleasure, and that was, that there was one point on which he agreed with the hon. Baronet—he meant, in his desire to promote the interests of the Church of Scotland. From that desire it arose that he wished to see the present anomalous and unsatisfactory state of the law as regarded the tests in the Universities of Scotland altered. It was his opinion that the present state of the law with reference to tests, so far from being a security, was a snare and a danger to the Church, rather than that bulwark which the hon. Baronet would have the House to believe. It was a snare, inasmuch as it led the Church to look to legislative enactments for security rather than to its hold upon the feelings and affections of the people. It was a source of danger, inasmuch as it embittered sectarian differences, and united all not in its communion in hostility against it. That such was the case, every one conversant with the state of the law would readily admit. The subject was one which had often been discussed in that House. He would not, therefore, occupy any time by entering into an explanation of the law; but he might mention that the law, as laid down by the hon. Baronet, was, in substance, correct. It was undoubtedly true that the law of tests was originally passed in the year 1690, and by it Professors, readers, and schoolmasters, were compelled to sign the Confession of Faith, and to conform to the ceremonial of the Church of Scotland. The hon. Baronet had quoted history in support of his position; but history might be read in different lights according to the feelings of the person who read it; and he thought that the history of those times clearly proved that the law of tests was established as a security for the Presbyterian against the Episcopalian Church. The danger that was dreaded by the University at that time was an invasion of Episcopalian doctrines, and it was feared that at the time of the Union the Episcopalian form of worship might be imposed upon the people of Scotland; and it was to prevent that, and that alone, that the present system of tests was established. Such being the intention of the law on the subject, he would now look to what had been its actual practice. It was a notorious fact that the law had proved practically inoperative. Episcopalians, the very people whom the law especially intended to exclude, had been admitted to the professorial chairs of the Universities; and when the hon. Baronet spoke of the distinguished men who had been professors at Universities in Scotland, he would like to ask him how many of those men had signed the Confession of Faith? He believed he was correct in saying that when his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate brought in his Bill last year, he stated that fully one fourth had never signed the Confession of Faith. Such being the anomalous state of the law with reference to the admission of professors to Scotch Universities, the Lord Advocate had brought in this Bill to place them on a better and more satisfactory footing. The Bill proposed to do away with the tests for lay chairs, the theological chairs being excepted, and substituted a declaration, which he would now read to the House:— I, A. B., do solemnly and severally, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare that, as Professor of, and in the discharge of the said office, I will not endeavour, directly or indirectly, to teach or inculcate anything opposed to the authority of Holy Scripture, or the decisions of the Westminster Assembly, or ratified by law in 1690, and that I will not exercise such office to the prejudice or subversion of the Church of Scotland as by law established, or the doctrines or privileges thereof. That was the amended declaration which his right hon. and learned Friend stated it was his intention to introduce into the Bill. There would also be a power in the Lord Advocate to investigate complaints of the conduct of any of the professors, and, upon inquiry, to obtain the issue of a commission by the Crown, for the purpose of removing him from his chair. Such were the alterations proposed in the Bill, and it appeared to him to be a most reasonable measure—a reasonable solution of a very difficult question, which it was for the interests of all parties to adopt. The hon. Baronet opposed the measure as being opposed to the Act of Security, and contrary to the oath taken by the Sovereign. As far as the measure being opposed to the Act of Security went, it appeared to him that such was not the case, and he could refer hon. Members to a history, by Mr. Burton, of the period between 1688 and 1745, which had recently appeared; and he felt convinced that after perusing that work, few people would deny that the existing law, as regarded tests in the Scotch Universities, was originally passed solely to prevent the induction of Episcopalians into the professorial chair. The words of the Act itself clearly proved that such was its purport:— That none of the subjects of this kingdom shall be liable to make any oath, test, or subscription whatever, contrary to, or inconsistent with, the Protestant religion of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland as by law established, and the same shall never be imposed or required of them. Those words tended to show that the danger anticipated was that an Episcopalian majority should extend the Tests and Corporations Act to Scotland, and that to occupy the ground with counter-tests, those tests were introduced into the Act of Security. With regard to the argument of the hon. Baronet, that the proposed measure was contrary to the oath taken at the coronation by the Sovereign, he could not arrive at any such conclusion. The hon. Baronet had treated the question as if the Universities had been originally instituted as appendages to the Church, but such was not by any means the case. It was a doctrine to which he could not assent, and he would refer to the Report of the Commission of 1829 to confirm his impression?— These Universities are not now of an ecclesiastical character, or, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, ecclesiastical bodies. They are intended for the general education of the country, and, in truth, possess scarcely any ecclesiastical feature except that they have a certain number of- professors for the purpose of teaching theology in the same manner as other sciences are taught. Neither their constitutions, endowments, nor provisions for public instruction are founded on the principle that the Universities are appendages of the Church of Scotland. That showed the opinion of the Commission as to the connexion between the Universities and the Church. There could, he thought, be no doubt that the operation of the existing law was not in accordance with the views of the framers of it, and if in addition to that it was also manifest that a change would be for the general interest of the people of Scotland, it was, he submitted, only consistent with sound policy that a measure like the present should have been introduced. He could appeal with confidence to any hon. Members who were well acquainted with the feelings of the people of Scotland on this subject to confirm him in the statement that the proposed measure was looked upon with favour by the majority of the people of that country, and that they were impressed with the necessity of some such change. When he used the expression "the majority of the people" of Scotland, he believed that, in reality, even time majority of churchmen of that country were in favour of some such measure, and they were, he would say, without intending any offence to the hon. Baronet, as sincere friends to the Church as he was. He would read to the House a declaration to which Lord Belhaven the Lord High Commissioner had assented, and which was subscribed to by some of the best friends of the Church of Scotland. It was a declaration couched in expressive language. It set forth that— Being of opinion that the present operation of the law in regard to the tests exigible from persons appointed to professorships in the Universities of Scotland is calculated to prove injurious to the interests, not only of the Universities, but of the Established Church, we, as members of that Church, feel called upon to record our desire that some measure may be speedily adopted. From that declaration, it was manifest that the members of the Church of Scotland themselves were desirous of a change; and if that were so, it could not, surely, be urged that change would be detrimental to the interests of that Church. He had endeavoured to show that the existing laws had been enacted originally with the view of preventing the induction of Episcopalians to the professorial chairs in the Scotch Universities; but there was another danger in the existence of the tests as at present prescribed, which was, that although, when it was considered expedient, persons had been placed in the professorial chair with out taking the tests; yet there had been occasions when, after admission attempt had been made to bring the law of test into operation. There was one case in point to which he would refer, where gentleman, whose name was well known who, in fact, had acquired a world-wide reputation, was concerned. When Sir David Brewster was Principal of the University of St. Andrews, an attempt was made to turn him out, and a libel and charge were preferred against him, calling upon the Senatus to remove him, censure and banish him, quam primum, for the glory of God, the safety of the Church, and the prosperity of the University. Whether the banishment would be for safety of the Church, or to gratify setarian hostility, he would not say; but how it could, be for the advantage of the University to banish a man like Sir David Brewster, he certainly was not able to understand. There was another point to which he would call the attention of the House, and that was that the Church of Scotland had not the slightest control over the Universities. He would, in support of that position, refer the House to the opinion of counsel in the case of Mr. M'Dougall, who had been appointed by the Town Council Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, and in consequence of a dispute which had taken place on the subject of his appointment, and which now was awaiting the judgmeot of the House of Peers, the opinion of leading counsel had been taken, and he would read that opinion to the House:— That the Church has no title, either through the Presbytery of the bounds, the General Assembly, or its commission, to enforce the provisions of the Acts of 1690 and 1707 as regards subscription to the Confession of Faith, and the formula, by the party said to have been recently admitted as Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. From that opinion it was evident that the Universities were not, as he had already stated, appendages of the Church. He had endeavoured to answer the arguments which the hon. Baronet had urged against this Bill; and if he required a still stronger reason for accepting the present measure, it would be derived from the fact that the opposition to it had not proceeded from a Scotch Member, but from the hon. Baronet. The principle of the measure which was now before the House had been on previous occasions opposed by Scotch Members; but this was the first time—and he would appeal to his right hon. Friend the late Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir G. Grey) to confirm the statement—that an Amendment of the nature of the one now before the House had been proposed by an English Member. He would frankly state to the House the reason. The fact was, that the present measure was a compromise, and while it was opposed by the hon. Baronet, who held extreme opinions on the one side, it was not entirely acceptable to those hon. Gentlemen who were desirous of a complete separation between Church and State, and who were opposed to the adoption of any test whatever. The proposed measure was, in fact, as he had already stated, a compromise; but it was, in his opinion, a reasonable compromise, and he must say that although he, and he had no doubt other Scotch Members, felt grateful to the hon. Baronet for the interest which he took in the affairs of Scotland, they would have felt more grateful if he had not offered any opposition to the measure of his right hon. and learned Friend. He could not but think, judging from some passages of ominous import in the Report of the Oxford Commission, that the hon. Baronet might some day have enough on his hands in endeavouring to keep some such measure from being passed with regard to the University of Oxford, which he represented. He had stated the grounds upon which he was anxious that the House should assent to the second reading of this Bill, which was conceived, as he thought, in the true spirit of the age, its object being to promote the spread of education by extending the field from which professors might be chosen, and to remove a disqualification to the appointment of able men to fill the office of Professor in the Scotch Universities. It was framed in a spirit which he thought was conspicuous in the Report of the Cambridge University Commission. There was a passage in that Report which bore so strongly on the question they were discussing, and which was so conspicuous for that spirit, that he should, with the permission of the House, read it to them. It stated that— The University is a great national institution; it exercises a most extensive influence on the education of the higher and middle classes of the community, and consequently on the intellectual, moral, and social character of the nation. But its capacity of exercising this high prerogative, fully and completely, must depend on its keeping pace with the progress of enlightened opinion, and moving in sympathy and unison with the spirit of the age. It is one of the noblest characteristics of our times that the barriers which long excluded so many of our fellow-subjects from the equal enjoyment of civil rights on account of differences in religious opinions, have happily been removed by the prevalence of a generous and wise policy. Such, he repeated, was the spirit in which the present measure was conceived, and he trusted that the House would withstand the opposition to it. He had himself no doubt that the measure would, at no distant period, pass into law. He had always looked upon the repeal of the Test and Corporations Act as one of the political achievements of the noble Lord the Member for London, upon which that noble Lord must look back with the greatest self-satisfaction; and that he had connected himself with a measure like the present, which would, he believed, advance the spread of education, and give increased stability to the Established Church, by removing the disqualification under which at present Dissenters laboured, would, in his opinion, prove to him an equal source of satisfaction. The Act of 1690, imposing tests, set forth in the preamble that tests were necessary for the advancement of learning, the good of the Church, and the peace and good government of the country; but the time had, he believed, arrived when to attain the three great ends therein mentioned, it had become necessary to make an alteration in the system then established. He trusted that the House would not assent to the Amendment of the hon. Baronet, but would allow the Bill to be read a second time.


said, he would not oppose the second reading of the Bill; not because they had confidence in its spirit as regarded the Church of Scotland, but lest the Ministerial majority might force it through in its present obnoxious state. As a compromise had been offered, they would not oppose the second reading therefore; but he held himself free to propose in Committee such amendments as should secure religion in the teaching of the Universities. He, for one, as a Scotch Member, thanked the hon. Baronet (Sir R. H. Inglis) for the support he had always given to religion, on this as on all other occasions.


said, that in almost a single sentence he could express his feelings as regarded the Bill of the Lord Advocate. In the abstract he agreed to some of the objections which had been taken to the Bill; and if the House of Com- mons had been called upon to found for the first time a system for Scotch Universities, he, having no faith in the efficacy of tests, could have entered more fully into those objections. But the House of Commons was not convened for any such purpose. Their real object, taking into consideration the divided and somewhat difficult position in which Scotland found herself so far as ecclesiastical government was concerned, was to bring forward some Bill, the provisions of which, while they afforded no triumph to the enemies of the Established Kirk, would at the same time remedy existing grievances justly complained of both by the United Presbyterians and by the Free Churchmen of Scotland, who, although as good and as true Presbyterians as their neighbours, found themselves liable to a petty and irritating species of persecution, which our ancestors, when they framed the Act of Security, had never contemplated. Their sole object and desire, in fact, was to provide that Presbyterian Scotland should settle her own affairs without episcopalian interference. Now the Bill before the House, if not a perfect Bill, had this one great merit—that it offered an amicable settlement of a most vexatious and irritating controversy, and one which had been disturbing Scotland for years past. Every person who had the interests of Scotland at heart must wish to see some compromise effected which would encourage peace and harmony between rival sections of Presbyterians, who, after all, differed from one another on no vital doctrine, and whose united action was greatly needed in a common cause. The Scotch Universities were not ecclesiastical institutions: they were the common, the public property of the people of Scotland; and, since the people of Scotland were no longer in a body members of the Established Kirk, it was idle, it was puerile, it was perfectly suicidal for that Kirk to claim such exclusive privileges, which showed rather a Popish than a Presbyterian spirit. This Bill provided that no professor should exercise the functions of his office to the detriment of the Church of Scotland as by law established; and as a member of that Church he (Lord Drumlanrig) had no right to ask more. Entertaining these feelings, he should give his hearty support to the Bill, which, while it could not be looked upon as a triumph over the Kirk by the Dissenters, at the same time it put down impossible pretensions, and offered justice to all denominations of Presbyterians.


said, he would not oppose the second reading of the Bill, in consequence of the compromise that had been offered; but he considered that even after the proposed alterations in it should be made, it would still be disadvantageous to the Church of Scotland. He did not coincide with the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) in his interpretation of the intentions of the framers of the Act of Security—or in his views of history as regarded the proceedings of the Commissioners. The Scottish Universities, with the exception of the University of Edinburgh, were subservient to the Church from their foundation to the Reformation, and the Book of Discipline, drawn up by John Knox, substantially established the same connexion. In 1567 an Act was passed by the Parliament of Scotland confirming this relation, which Act was confirmed by subsequent Acts, passed in 1589 and 1592. One of the strongest clauses of the Act of Security was that proposed to be repealed by this Bill; and it should be remembered that this Act immediately followed the Claim of Right, upon which it was in reality founded. In fact, through all the vicissitudes described in the religious and political history of Scotland, the Universities had, as such, sunk and swum with the Church, whatever form of faith was for the time in the ascendant. But, under all the circumstances, he had no other course open to him than to vote in favour of the second reading of the Bill; and this course, he felt, was justified by the fact that a measure of this nature had been already four times before Parliament, on each of which occasions it had been rejected by very narrow majorities—in one case a majority of only one—and among these majorities were many members of the present Government, the opposition being conducted by the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir J. Graham). It might be in the spirit of the age, but he was afraid, also, it was in the spirit of destruction. If the tests could be modified in the spirit of the Act of Security, he should not object to the change, but he was opposed to any violation of the compact that had been entered into with the Church and Parliament of Scotland. The Act was directed against the enemies of the Church of Scotland at the time it was passed; it now behoved Parliament to ascertain who were the enemies of that Church at the present period. These he believed to be Papists and latitudinarians, and in passing the Bill, the House was, therefore, bound to take the greatest care that the Church of Scotland should not be placed in jeopardy with either, and that the connexion with the Church should be maintained with the Universities of Scotland.


said, that as an English Member, he must complain that the intentions of the Government with respect to the Bill, had, without notice, been altered since its first introduction to the House. The question to be decided was not fairly represented by the Bill. He understood that some other Bill had been privately circulated among a few Members of the House by the Government. He had, since he reached the House, seen the frame of this other, which he was told was to be the real Bill, and yet the House was asked to pass the second reading of the Bill which was on the table. The question to be decided was assuredly not that contained in the Bill; and he contended that English Members had a right to know what they were voting on. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) said the Bill was one for Scottish Universities, as if English Members had nothing to do but walk out of the House when any Bill relating to Scotland was under discussion; yet the noble Lord concluded by stating that the principle of this Bill would eventually be applied to the English Universities.


had only said, that the principle of the Bill was in accordance with the spirit of the age which dictated the inquiry into the English Universities.


The noble Lord quoted a portion of the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the University of Cambridge; and he then argued that this Bill was based upon the principle embodied in that Report, and that the principle would be extended to the English Universities.


I said nothing of the kind.


Then the noble Lord's observations were wholly irrelevant. He (Mr. Newdegate) objected to the abolition of religious tests, especially required of the teachers of a University connected with the Church of Scotland; and he now called the attention of the House to the alterations proposed in the Bill to that effect by the Lord Advocate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the declarations were to be proposed for Professors—not of theology—and were to the effect that the individual should not teach anything contrary to the authority of the Holy Scriptures or the Westminster Confession of Faith, nor exercise the power he might possess to injure the Church of Scotland. No one could read that declaration, without at once perceiving from whence it was copied. That declaration was copied from the declaration which was contained in the Act of 1829, which was required from members of the Roman Catholic religion when they were sworn at the table before taking their seats in that House. Now, he wished to know whether there was anything connected with the observance of that declaration to encourage the Protestant people of Scotland to believe that any negative test of the sort would give them better security for the religious and Protestant teaching of their children, than had been afforded to the Protestants of England by the negative test contained in the Act of 1829, by which all Roman Catholic Members swore that they would not use the powers committed to them, their position, or their influence, to weaken or disturb the Established Churches or the Protestant Government of this realm? Look at the assumption upon which the proposal of this test was founded. When a Roman Catholic made it, it was known that he was a member of a Church connected with a foreign head, holding peculiar and exclusive tenets, in antagonism to all other religions, and especially the Protestant religion of this country. It was under such circumstances that he declared he would not attack the Established Church. Following this analogy, by this Bill, the Government proposed expressly to provide, by the declaration, for the admission of Roman Catholics and infidels into the professorial chairs of the Scottish Universities: for none but avowed adversaries of Protestantism and Christianity could it be necessary to require such a test. It would be far better to abolish all tests than to propose a declaration which, by its nature, inferred that they were enacting that infidels and Roman Catholics should occupy the chairs of the Protestant Universities of Scotland, on conditions which had proved ineffectual to prevent Roman Catholics from attacking Protestant institutions in cases where they were under far more sense of publicity, and therefore, of responsibility. The noble Lord was seeking to support the policy which had broken down from one end to the other. There was as little reason for the people of Scotland to trust the declaration in this case, as the people of England had to trust to the analogous test in the case of the Roman Catholic Members.


The declaration only applies to lay chairs.


could scarely believe that the noble Lord himself had much confidence in the argument embodied in his observation. If the future Professors have the power of teaching, they will be able to instil their opinions into the minds of their pupils. The Roman Catholic priesthood knew this so well that they will not permit Protestants to teach history for instance, or several of the sciences in their universities. Infidelity could be taught from lay chairs as well as from theological chairs. The experiment of severing religion from instruction had been tried in Germany, and it had proved a notorious failure; for the infidel principles of their lay Professors had infected the whole body of their pupils, and had resulted in the revolutions of 1848, and the Socialist excesses of that period. [The hon. Member quoted the work of the Rev. Mr. Wright, just published by Messrs. Seeley, who had travelled much in Germany, and had many opportunities of knowing the mode of education in that country. Mr. Wright cited an instance of the irreligious character of the Prussian Professors, a large number of whom at a public dinner of over 100 teachers refused to allow grace to be said before the commencement of the meal, declaring that they were not children who prayed before they eat.] Mr. Wright quoted the confessions of M. Curtman, one of the ablest and most powerful supporters of the German irreligious system of education, who had had the courage and the honesty to avow the failure of his long-cherished system and opinions. M. Curtman wrote— My former enthusiasm for schools and public instruction has now, through a thousand experiences, been sadly reduced; the revolution of 1848 has revealed to me and to others the ideal nature and imperfection of the medium through which we were wont to contemplate the school-world in Germany. This disenchantment exerted such a depressing influence on me that I was for a time inclined to consider my calling suicidal and vain. And again, in the introduction to his work on the Reforw of the School, he says— Indeed the year 1848 and 1849, these providential and annihilating judgments on many a well-built human scheme, have removed the veil of imagined glory with which the German school was self-bedecked in mine eyes, and have left nothing but a withered apparition in its place. It must be confessed, however painful, that the German school-system has had its day of visitation, and has been found wanting; to say the least, the expectations of its friends have been sadly disappointed. What is there that the advocates of the school have not promised on its behalf? Go to! it was said, you will empty the prison house, you will produce a moral and intelligent population, the teacher of the school will have the future in his hands, he will give refinement to humanity; and in these acclamations the author (M. Curtman) coincided. But alas! these paroxysms of admiration have been dispelled by the storm; the deformed reality is now before us, it betrays the errors of other days. With our hand upon our hearts, what, it may be asked, what has this much-praised and highly-nurtured school system, in these thirty years, worked out for Germany? Is the rising generation more prudent, less under the influence of passion, more virtuous than their uninstructed predccesors? Is a better spirit observable in the city than in the hamlets of the land less efficiently provided with public instruction? Have Baden, Wurtemberg, and Saxony, rich in schools, developed a more discreet, loyal and faithful people than Pomerania, Hanover, or even Tyrol? Has intellectual improvement contributed to make men more observant of the law, less disposed to crime? Has it it done away with the immorality of a portion of the press, or improved upon the inflammatory tone of the addresses in popular debating clubs? No; the conclusive result is in disfavour of the great cities and the well-peopled, well-schooled provincial towns. The murderers of Auerswald and Licknowsky were educated men—a teacher of a school known in public conferences was amongst them. The cannoneers who ruthlessly sent the brand of fire into Ludwigshafen were no 'proletariers,' but, comparatively speaking, educated men. And what shall we say of the schoolmasters in particular—not that they were more completely carried away by the excitement of the times than other men; they partook of the intoxicating influence of the times in common with all youthful and excitable natures. But to their reproach it must be said that they were not able to extricate themselves from the ideal whirlwind—that they chimed in with the guilty doctrines of Socialism—that they became the tools of a selfish and tyrannical party. These are reproaches from which a large section of the order cannot exculpate themselves. Yet that was the system sought to be established in Scotland by the Bill before the House. He (Mr. Newdegate) lamented that those Scottish Members who could not assent to the Bill had become parties to a compromise which was, in point of fact, no compromise at all, for the original intention of the Bill was carried out, and the apparent concession was a delusion. All reference was struck out in the preamble to the Act of Union; every approach was avoided to the great question of the oath of the Sovereign; and a declaration was framed which clearly implied the contemplation of admitting Infidels and Papists to the chairs in the Protestant Universities of Scotland; cloaked by a form of words, proved by long experience in this country to be ineffectual for restraining Roman Catholics, and in Germany incapable of excluding infidelity from the teaching of lay professors. For these reasons he was ready to divide with his hon. Friend (Sir R. H. Inglis); but he thought they had a right to have the Bill reprinted before the second reading, in order that it might be circulated, not among a few selected Members of that House, but among the whole people of Scotland, that they might see what was the intended compromise. If the Government meant to deal fairly with the House of Commons and the people of Scotland, why had they not printed the Amendments they intended to propose, instead of bringing Members down to announce some private arrangement or intrigue, which was to defeat the proceedings of the House? This was a strong type of the mode of dealing which was characteristic of the school to which the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) belonged. Intrigue out of the House, and arbitrary conduct in it, were the characteristics of that school of politicians—a school from which he (Mr. Newdegate) had separated; as an independent Member of the House he protested against these underhand proceedings; as a Tory he condemned these illustrations of the vices which had brought the once great Tory party into disgrace.


said, he had, upon more than one occasion, expressed his approbation of the principles upon which this Bill was founded, and which he believed would be generally assented to by the people of Scotland. But he must say that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had paid but a bad compliment to the representatives of the people of Scotland—a people the roost religious upon the face of the earth—when he said they were now combined to force upon that country a system, the inevitable result of which would be the promotion of infidelity—


said, he must beg to explain: what he said was, that hon. Members who had left the House were no parties to it.


said, that so far as he was aware, the hon. Members who had left the House, had left it with a declaration that they were prepared to withhold any opposition to the principle of the Bill. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: No, no!] If the hon. Gentleman said "no," he could only appeal to the House. Two hon. Members not now in their places had stated—one of them having formerly opposed the Bill on principle, and the other, a new Member, being still opposed to it—that they were now prepared to withhold any opposition to the second reading. If, therefore, it was just to charge his noble Friend (Lord Elcho) and the other Members of the Government, with endeavouring to force upon Scotland a system, the inevitable result of which must be the promotion of infidelity, those Members for Scotland who assented to the principles of the Bill, must be held to partake in the charge. But he (Sir G. Grey) had mainly risen to notice an objection to the Bill, which appeared to him totally groundless. The hon. Member (Mr. Newdegate) said, they must altogether disregard the notice of any Amendments which had been given by the Lord Advocate. Taking the Bill as it was, he said he was opposed to it upon principle; but that by some low intrigue or private arrangement, Members had been induced not to oppose the Bill; just as if he, in common with every other Member, had not had the opportunity of ascertaining what the proposed Amendments were. He (Sir G. Grey) was prepared to support the Bill as it was originally, and with the declaration in it. But what was the secret intrigue or private arrangement which had settled the changes that had been made in the Bill? Why, his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, some weeks ago, in moving that the Order of the Day for the second reading he postponed, stated distinctly the precise nature of the Amendments he was prepared to introduce in it; and those Amendments having been thus publicly stated, were published in the newspapers. Now, did those Amendments interfere with the principle of the Bill? Clearly not. They merely went to this—that whereas there was now a declaration in the Bill proposed to be applied to every lay Professor in the Universities, that they would not, by virtue of their office, do anything to undermine the Established Church, it was now proposed to add, that they would not teach anything contrary to the authority of the Holy Scriptures or the Westminster Confession of Faith. He (Sir G. Grey) took it, that the effect of this measure would be to admit men of the highest intellect, of the highest scientific attainment, and who were the greatest ornaments of their country, to this office, because they would readily undertake to say that they would teach nothing contrary to the doctrine of the Established Church, or prejudicial to its interests. The tests proposed to be abolished, where they had been brought into operation, had proved most mischievous, and, to his own knowledge, they had been taken by Episcopalians who were not members of the Established Church. Under these circumstances, he thought that they were removing a reproach from the Universities of Scotland by adopting the principles of this Bill; and he hoped, after the assent which had been given to it by the Scotch Members generally, that the House would by a large majority affirm that principle, and once for all set at rest the question in a manner which would prove satisfactory to the Church and the people of Scotland in general.


said, he felt called upon to justify his hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate); for the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) had almost with a sneer intimated that the English Members had no right to interfere in the matter, though this country was equally a party to the Act of Union as Scotland. Carrying that principle out, how far would the doctrine apply to those Irish Members who would desire to get rid of that part of the Act of Union which affirmed the existence of the Established Church in that country? Straws showed the way in which the wind blew, and he was therefore bound to take notice of the observations of the noble Lord. When it was seen that the word "discipline," which was used in the Act of Security was omitted, and "doctrines" only retained, he considered it was going very close to the wind, and he could only conclude that the Bill was a violation of the compact which had been entered into. It might be denied that the University was not an appendage of the Church of Scotland, but no one could deny that the Bill affected the interest of that Church. English Members could only be guided on this point by the acts of the constituted body of the Scottish Church, and that body was against the measure. He, therefore, could not agree to the Bill; and if his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford divided the House on the subject, he would divide with him. He had strong feelings that all these measures were steps in the direction of separating religion from education; and he was satisfied their promoters would find themselves in a difficult and dangerous position when it would be too late.


said, he wished to point out that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had misunderstood him. The right hon. Gentleman had argued as if he (Lord Elcho) had said that, as the people of Scotland were favourable to the measure, the English Members ought not to resist it. That was not the meaning which he intended to convey. The fact was, that in arguing as to the opinion of the people of Scotland in reference to the change, he pointed out the striking fact that, whereas all previous measures had been opposed by Scotch Members, on this occasion they all assented to it as a reasonable compromise; and the duty of leading the opposition rested on the hon. Member opposite (Sir R. H. Inglis).


said, he must deny that the Scotch Members assented to the second reading of the Bill. He had himself presented a petition from the General Assembly against it. He had disunited himself from any compromise which he saw was proceeding with regard to this Bill, and felt bound to oppose it in its amended form as strongly as he should have done had it been brought forward in its original shape. The measure was calculated to uproot that admirable system of education which had raised Scotland to the position it held among the nations of the earth, and he could on no account assent to any measure which would separate the Universities from the Church, and which would thus place the Church of Scotland in a position dissimilar to that occupied by any other Church. If he could have any doubts whatever on the question, they would be at once settled by looking to the Act of Union and Act of Security, the terms of which were unmistakeable. It was certainly desirable that the question should be settled; but if the hon. Baronet went to a division, he should go out with him. The Bill was not, perhaps, addressed against the Church of Scotland, but it was addressed against the Protestantism of that country. He saw no reason, therefore, but the contrary, why Protestant tests should not be established. At no former period of Scottish history did the Universities of Scotland stand higher than at present; and, consequently, at no period was there less need of any change in the system under which they were governed.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 106; Noes 17: Majority 89.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2o, and committed for To-morrow.

Back to