HC Deb 17 March 1854 vol 131 cc915-55

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to cheer that conclusion, as if the principle there enunciated was contained in the measure of the Government. I own at once that if such a principle were visible in the Bill, the measure to my mind would be much less objectionable than, from the statement given of it by the noble Lord, I conceive it to be. For what do the Cambridge Commissioners say? Why, they tell you in plain and distinct terms that you must consult the feelings and the wishes of those whose active and willing cooperation is necessary if you would bring about, and in an effective manner, the successful accomplishment of your object. And persuaded I am that nothing will ever be effectually done in reference to the Universities unless you first obtain their concurrence in the changes which you seek and desire to introduce; for that which is done by force and compulsion is never so well or so completely accomplished as that which is attained through consent and unanimity. But more than that, I think there is another defect and objection, flowing from the same principle which you have here introduced. For if you place an unnecessary external force upon the Universities, remember that force may be hereafter applied to other purposes; and as I gather from the concluding observations of the noble Lord, it might be brought to bear in a manner very different from that in which it is now applied. What I mean to say is this—instead of consulting the Universities, you are judging for yourselves what is best for them—you are asking for the opinion of a fluctuating body, of a representative assembly such as the House of Commons, which, of course, may change its judgment and its character in any future year; and you are laying down a precedent which will exalt that assembly, probably against the wishes of the Universities, to make the very changes which the noble Lord is not prepared to propose, namely, to alter their system of instruction by the admission of those who dissent from their rules. The noble Lord has considered this subject under several heads. At first he commenced with the government of the University; he then went to the question whether persons should have a claim to belong to the University, although they did not belong to the colleges; then he proposed a greater extension of the professorial system, as compared with the tutorial system as it now exists; then he continued, with reference to the application of those endowments for fellowships and scholarships, which are now confined to particular localities and to particular schools; and lastly, he ended with suggesting the appropriation of college funds for University purposes. Now I wish to say a few words on each of these particulars. With reference to the constitution and government of the University, that, I think, is one of the subjects which the Government should have left to the determination of the University itself, rather than attempt to force extraneous conclusions upon it. We have no guarantee, and it cannot necessarily follow, that the plan you propose is either the plan most likely to be accepted or the best that can now be devised, nor can you yourselves feel sure that it is the plan which you will think best five years hence. Let the proposition emanate from the University itself, or at any rate let us wait to see what the University will do in the matter. In connection with this part of the subject, the noble Lord quotes a certain Statute, which said that the Charter of different colleges ought to be altered from time to time—pro ratione temporis. I entirely agree with that proposition, but I think, at the same time, that it is one consistent with the fundamental principle upon which in my opinion you ought to have proceeded, namely, to have removed every kind of disability and impediment from the colleges, and then have seen whether they themselves could not have made the necessary alterations pro ratione temporis, and that, too, with far better knowledge of their real needs than this House can possess. The Bill before us, it should be remembered, is introduced at a time when both the Universities are endeavouring to improve, as much as possible, their system of education, and they are only stopped in their praiseworthy career because of certain dis- abling Statutes which stand in their way, and which they would willingly invite Parliament to abolish and remove. I now come to another point; I allude to the second proposition of the noble Lord—namely, the way in which he intends to open the Universities to students who do not belong to the colleges. Now, if I remember aright, the whole of this question is very ably discussed in the Cambridge Commissioners' Report. And here I would remark there is a great difference between the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, for at Oxford undergraduates must reside for the most part in the colleges, whereas at Cambridge very great numbers reside in lodgings. Now, by adopting the Cambridge plan, it is quite certain that the extension of education in both Universities might be indefinite; there need be no limit to the number of scholars. And what do the Cambridge Commissioners say—they who have had experience of that plan? They say in effect, if not in words, for it is a year and a half since I read their Report:—"Do not throw the young men upon a residence outside the college, for, if you do, you will destroy the discipline of the University." I hope, therefore, the Government will well consider that part of their plan in depriving the students of that supervision, superintendence, and control, which can only be attained through the discipline of some college. The next proposition of the noble Lord has reference to the extension of the professorial system. Now, the noble Lord seems to me to have fallen into an error on this part of the subject. You do not want a greater number of professors, but a stronger inducement to young men to attend the lectures. That, however, you will never obtain, unless you attach examinations to the lectures, and unless you confer honours and prizes upon those who attend them. And even then you must remember, what we are all, perhaps, too apt to forget at the present day—you must remember that the great object of education is not to overcrowd the young mind with knowledge, or to fill it with materials which will remain a crude and undigested mass—but to train and to discipline the intellectual faculties, and the moral feelings so as to fit and qualify the youth for the active duties of after life. Well, then, it has been clearly proved that the best mode of training the mind, in a moral as well as in an intellectual point of view, is, while the mind is young and pliable, to discipline it in one or two studies of acknowledged worth, such, for instance, as the mathematics and classics; the mathematical education fixing the thoughts, perhaps, more closely than any other, and giving them a habit of accurate reasoning, clear perception, and continuous attention; while the classical education, if carried to its full extent, all but equally developes the mental and intellectual energies and powers, and directs them to the meditation of the noblest thoughts in noblest language that were ever conceived or uttered by man. Whatever, therefore, Sir, is ultimately determined for the two Universities, I, for one, most cordially and sincerely hope and trust that the mathematics and the classics will be prominent features, if not the basis, of any scheme of University education. The next point to which the noble Lord adverted was, the extension of the endowments which had been given by founders to their next of kin, to particular localities, and to particular schools. In some respects I am here, I confess, prepared to concur with the noble Lord, although my concurrence involves a qualification which I should like to mention. The noble Lord, as I understood him, does not intend to interfere with the endowments which are given to schools in connection with colleges. In this I concur, as also in the limitation, in which next of kin are to claim the benefits of endowments in their favour. For I am inclined to believe that, if the founders could have contemplated the altered circumstances of the times, they would have opened up these endowments to a greater extent; and if so, we are now only acting in accordance with the spirit which would have influenced them were they now alive. But you must not abolish these endowments indiscriminately; for if you do so, you will dry up in a great measure the inducements which people had, and still have, in making such endowments. I trust that the Bill of the noble Lord will be guarded in this respect. I gather from him that he does not mean to interfere with the endowments made within the last 100 years. Possibly a limit of that description may prevent the evils which I was anticipating from this part of the noble Lord's proposition. Let us, however, be on our guard. Let us not by legislation stop in the smallest degree these voluntary benevolences which liberal people are willing to make, not so much for the benefit of themselves, as for the benefit of succeeding generations, in order that particular localities and classes may reap the benefit of those endowments undisturbed by any forced regulation. The last point I wish to refer to is one in reference to which I confess I entertain more serious objections than I do with regard to any other—I mean the compulsory application and appropriation of college revenues to University purposes. If I understand the noble Lord correctly, he proposes to give the colleges one year's grace to alienate one-fifth of their revenues. After that year, whatever may be the demands upon them—whatever may be their wishes, or whatever the objects which they desire to accomplish—if within the space of one short year they do not alienate one-fifth of their revenues—certain Commissioners, who are to be appointed in the meantime, are to take away this portion of their revenues, and apply them to purposes entirely distinct from those for which they were originally destined. Are not the colleges to be consulted in this respect? Here is the radical defect of the Government measure. Instead of removing disabilities, the noble Lord is forcing alterations upon the colleges of the University; and who can judge whether they will be for their benefit or not? Is not this a new appropriation clause? Is it not acting against the will and wishes of the colleges? I did not wish to say much in respect to the University of Oxford, but I confess I feel strongly on this important subject. Let me call the attention of the House to the Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the Session of 1852, when Lord Derby's Government was in existence. The principle upon which they intended to proceed is there indicated. They intended to pass an enabling Bill, describing the points upon which the University and the different colleges might be empowered to alter Statutes and Charters, removing the impediments under which they laboured, and permitting them in other respects to act for themselves, not with a view of leaving them unimproved, not with a view of limiting education, but with a view of making these free and liberal institutions as largely beneficial as they could be made for the instruction and advancement of the people generally. That is the course which I should recommend.


said, he should have been content if the Motion had passed by common consent, without observation, believing that the mere introduction of the Bill might have been safely taken as a matter of course, acquiescence in which concluded no one, and that its provisions might be discussed with more convenience when they were actually before the House. But as, in fact, a debate had arisen, entire silence might expose him to misconstruction, and be understood to imply acquiescence where he did not intend it; as, for example, in some of the observations which had fallen from his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) who had just sat down, with reference to the important question whether this ought to be a compulsory, or only an enabling Bill. He confessed he thought that if they passed an enabling Bill only, they would get into a difficulty and do nothing at all, and the House would, perhaps, allow him to point out the reasons for that opinion, which were applicable particularly to Oxford, and with which the right hon. Gentleman, being himself of Cambridge, might not be so intimately acquainted. He would observe, first of all, that the Bill was divided into two distinct parts, one relating to the University and the other to the Colleges. With respect to the University the question as to whether the Bill should be enabling or compulsory did not arise; but there was a very grave prior question, and one on which he was not satisfied, namely, as to whether they ought to legislate at all, for it was quite clear that with the consent of the Crown, the University itself had power to legislate; and, if there had been a previous agreement between the Government and the University, a new constitution might have been arranged without bringing down the external force of the Government; and all that was to take place with respect to extension, all questions of form, and, in fact, all matters which concerned the University alone, might have been settled without the interposition of Parliament at all. On that part of the ease there had been a most unfair obloquy cast in conversation, and by public writers, upon the governing authorities of the University at Oxford, with respect to the plait they had brought forward for amending the constitution he did not say it Was wise to delay so long as they had delayed, and in consequence of that delay, to hurry at last in the preparation and production of their measure, and thereby to cause the heavy penalty of external force to be brought to bear on the University, but when it was said that the measure of the heads of houses was in its substance entirely indefensible, was not bonâ fide, and was brought forward with the intention of reserving everything in their own hands, those were hardy assertions which would not bear examination, and assertions which were made with unfairness, and with no little inconsistency. He had seen one attack, which, after reflecting on the heads of houses, as so greedy of power that they would part with none, went on to state, not by way of qualification of this charge, but as if in aggravation of it, that their plan of a second board would, in fact, deprive them of it; and, therefore, that in their preference of their own plan they were making a stand for nothing. How this admission was to serve the purpose of the person who made it he did not know, but he accepted it and believed it to be true, and that in point of fact the second board, being composed of younger men and those elected, and representing the opinions of other influential persons, would by degrees have become the predominant board in legislation. But, nevertheless, it was reasonable to keep the original board also, because there were two distinct sets of functions to be performed—those of legislation, in which their failures were complained of; and those of ordinary administration, of which no complaints were made; and it was most in accordance with the practice of English legislation to make no unnecessary disturbance, no waste of legislative power in attempts to apply remedies, for the sake of a theory, where there were no evils to be got rid of. To return, however, to the point from which he had suffered himself to be diverted, in order to do justice to those who had been unfairly attacked: it was clear that in respect of the University, apart from the colleges, there was no need of any enabling Act; but, if it was necessary to legislate at all, it could only be because it was determined to leave no choice on certain steps which were absolutely required, and that could be effected only by compulsion. With respect to the colleges the case was different. They could not move unless set in motion by Imperial legislation, and the question was whether it should be enabling or compulsory. That correspondence, which had interested every one who took any interest in the subject at all, had shown how exceedingly desirous the colleges were, without exception, to improve their own Statutes, and according to the argument of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) they had nothing to do but to set them free. But how did the case really stand? At Oxford, at the present time, there were three or four colleges that had power to amend their Statutes and apply them to the existing state of things; all the rest of the nineteen colleges were bound by their Statutes, and fully half of them by such stringent oaths, that, whatever might be the enabling Statutes that House might pass, they would, in reality, be unable to do anything at all. Parliament would never arrogate to itself the power of dispensing with oaths, and if it did attempt to dispense with them the conscientious men who composed those societies would never act on such a dispensation, nor consider themselves free to set aside what they had sworn to maintain; and the measure must, therefore, be in form compulsory, and be imposed by external power, with the force of law. It need not be a hostile proceeding; but that would turn entirely upon who were to be the proposed Commissioners, and the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in introducing the measure had not mentioned the names. If those intended Commissioners carried out the regulations bonâ fide and for the benefit of the University, he thought that the mere fact of the measure being a compulsory one would not necessarily lead to the inconveniences apprehended by his right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-burst. There were, however, enactments glanced at by the noble Lord about which he confessed he felt as much doubt and difficulty as his right hon. Friend or any one else; for, if the proposal were to divert from colleges funds given to them by founders for very different purposes, and to apply them to professorships, it was a proceeding upon which he should look with very great suspicion. Surely colleges, if not entitled to more protection than other charitable foundations, were at least entitled to as much, and it would be difficult to show that the founders of those colleges had anything in view appertaining to the establishment of professorships or lectureships, except in some particular cases, upon which it would seem the noble Lord had founded his argument as applicable to others. Endowed professorships were comparative novelties in Oxford, the old system there being one of instruction by any graduate; and there was only one state of things under which there could be any colour of justice for mutilating foundations—it would be if colleges resisted all attempts to extend the University beyond their limit, and chose to consider themselves as exclusively the University; which case it might be fair to require them to provide the means for any University expense. But when the University was to be extended beyond the colleges, it would seem to be an unjustifiable diversion from their foundation, if provision was made for the wants of other than their old members; and if, moreover, these diversions were to be made in order to endow professors whose appointment would rest in the Crown or in other authorities, different from those bodies from whom the money came, it would be nothing but confiscation. He knew very well that the Houses of Lords and Commons, in conjunction with the Crown, had power absolute and despotic in its nature, that they had often passed acts of attainder and of confiscation; but those were acts of uncontrolled authority and supreme power, and not acts of legislation, properly so called—they were privilegia, not laws. It was not within the province of ordinary legislation to take franchises and rights from one party and transfer them to another without some forfeiture judicially declared; therefore, on that part of the Bill he looked with great suspicion and doubt. He apprehended, however, that in practice the principle was not to be extended to the length which was understood by his right hon. Friend. He understood the noble Lord to say not that one-fifth was always to be taken, but not exceeding one-fifth in any case. In some cases it might be consistent with the foundation to make such an arrangement. If the measure were carried out, as he hoped it would be, with an intention to see justice done, and if colleges showed that they had wants of their own, and that the funds would be more rightfully and properly applied in carrying out the intention of the founders, he did not apprehend, from what fell from the noble Lord, there would be an absolute sentence given against them. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] That view materially affected the argument, and it might be that in practice it would turn out different from what was first imagined. From his imperfect knowledge of the Bill at present he would not say more; but he thought that no friend to the University, though bound to watch it cautiously, should endeavour to meet it with obstructions, and he trusted, from the tone of the noble Lord's remarks, that there would be a disposition on the part of the Government to give effect to any fair objection that might arise in the course of the discussion. In that case he was not without a hope that the result of the measure would be to give increased power to the University to do good—to give her that expansiveness which she required—to enable her to get hold of the youth of the country, who had, to a lamentable extent, escaped from her influence, not only in the active professions, but even in the learned professions, of which she was at one time the sole nursery. Anything which would restore her to that position, and enlarge her influence, would, he thought, be worthy of a great effort and of no little sacrifice.


said, that although this was not the time to enter into a full discussion on the measure, it was a convenient opportunity to make a few observations upon its principles which might be useful for the further prosecution and eventual satisfactory settlement of the question. Considering the exceedingly good tone which appeared to prevail on both sides of the House, he was sure it would be received by the University as an earnest of the disposition of the Legislature to consider their true interests as well as those of the country. He fully concurred in the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Heathcote), that any Bill introduced on this subject must, to a certain extent, be a compulsory one. With respect to colleges, he was, for particular reasons, less able to express himself freely than his hon. Friend; but with reference to the University, he thought it was practically necessary to legislate compulsorily, and the reason was obvious—they could do nothing without first settling where the power of self-legislation within the University should for the future reside. In the University of Oxford there existed a form of government which vested the whole power in a certain body; of that body he desired to speak with the utmost respect, feeling quite sure that its members had the most upright intentions in all they did; but it was utterly impossible that that body should not exercise the powers which belonged to it according to its own views. The plain matter of fact was that the University could not stir one single step in the direction of any legislation concerning its interests, unless that legislation had previously approved itself to the gentlemen of the present governing body; and unless, therefore, that House was content to leave the control and veto over the whole course of legislation in the hands of that body, this, or any other particular measure, which might be thought necessary for its improvement and extension, could not take effect unless it were compulsory; and, even if all questions of detail should be left to be decided at Oxford, the question, what governing body ought to exist in Oxford, could not be so decided. He was not going to criticise the proposal made that day; it was sufficient to say, that Her Majesty's Government had had before them a great variety of plans on an extremely difficult subject, and had framed a scheme which they thought would prove advantageous. Assuming that scheme to be a good one, the University, as now constituted, could not adopt it, unless it were first approved of by the Hebdomadal Board; and it was manifest that they differed from it. He was of opinion, therefore, with respect to the University quite as much as the colleges, that some compulsory legislation was required; and it did seem to him that the Government, in dealing with the subject, had shown abundant proof of its desire to proceed with due consideration and regard to the independence of the University and to the principles of self-government to the utmost practicable extent, and that it had given ample time for the collection of information, and of the opinions of persons competent to form them on the subject both within and without the walls of the University. It would be an error to suppose that the Government had not been greatly influenced by the useful and valuable labours of those gentlemen within the walls of the University who had been employed in devising such suggestions and recommendations as they thought best. It must have struck every one that there had been a universal concurrence of opinion, both within and without the walls of the University, as to the necessity of introducing extensive improvements, more especially with reference to the present system of government. With respect to the plan which was now proposed, as far as he had been able to collect, it did appear that a great deal of pains had been taken to combine some of the best features of the various plans proposed by different persons; whether it was a perfect scheme or not, it was not now the time to consider. The principle of the plan seemed to be a representative government of the University, giving a large share of the representation to the teaching body and to the heads of houses, and at the same time giving to the resident members of the University their fair share of power; he thought, so far, that the proposition was entitled to their favourable reception, and that, after further consideration, the measure might be very likely to approve itself, equally to the House, the University, and the country.

With respect to the second main topic of the Bill, which proposed the extension of the University, he thought the right hon. Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole) did not exactly apprehend the true nature of the provisions. His right hon. Friend made some remarks in which no one could more cordially concur than himself, with reference to the indispensable necessity, whatever they did by way of extension, of paying regard to moral discipline, and not allowing themselves to be led by any desire of opening the door wide, to introduce a lax system, which might destroy all the useful objects contemplated by the measure, render the residence of students a source of evil rather than of good, and in all probability prevent that diminution of expense upon which the public so greatly relied, and in the end destroy the great object of extending the advantages of the University to a much larger proportion, than at present, of the youth of the country. Nothing would satisfy the people, but a cheap, and good, and moral training. Then, what was the system proposed by this Bill? Instead of being a system affording less security for sound moral discipline than the system of lodging now prevailing in Cambridge, and, to some extent, at Oxford also, it was a system which afforded infinitely greater security. And he would explain why. At present, youths at Oxford, at the beginning and end of their University course, and at Cambridge throughout their University course, were allowed to reside in lodgings, subject to such collegiate discipline as might radiate from the colleges to the various lodging-houses. This system was exposed to two defects. In the first place it was very hard to make that discipline compulsory on youths not resident within the walls; and, in the next place, even if they were within the walls, it was difficult to maintain so high and stringent a discipline as the authorities would desire, if they had the power, on account of the aristocratic notions and lavish expenditure which frequently prevailed. But the Government system, as he understood it, provided that there should be in every lodging-house in which the students were collected and resided, a responsible master of arts, a senior member of the University, licensed for that purpose, who should undertake the care of their moral and religious discipline, be responsible to the authorities of the University for the due discharge of those duties, and be removable if he neglected them. The measure, in this respect, was, in his opinion, more obnoxious to the criticism of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Blackett) than to that of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole). But even the criticism of the hon. Member for Newcastle he looked upon as equally unfounded. The hon. Member said a student should be allowed to live wherever he pleased. Now, that was plausible at first sight, but would not answer in the end. What class of students would be most anxious to avail themselves of this privilege? Why, the rich, the dissolute—those who wanted to free themselves from restraint, those who disliked discipline for discipline's sake—and not the poor, the frugal, and the real students and searchers after knowledge. Within these lodging-houses, kept by masters of arts, you would be enabled to accommodate the system of each hall to the wants of the class which frequented it, while, by having a common table upon moderate terms, by not allowing needless expenditure within the walls, by establishing strict regularity in regard to keeping proper hours, you would cut off all that extravagance which now usually arose within the walls of a college as well as in lodging-houses. The whole system proposed would be infinitely preferable to the present system of lodging in the Universities.

There was one other subject on which he would wish to say a few words, namely, that of oaths. He had himself, at a fernier period of his life, had to take oaths of a very stringent character in the college to which he belonged; and it certainly almost appeared to him as though the oaths, in many cases, were framed with the intention of pursuing the person who took them into all the subsequent relations of life. Such a person would, in his judgment, do wisely to act with the greatest caution under such circumstances as the present. He must confirm what the lion. Baronet (Sir W. Heathcote) had stated, that it was manifest these colleges could not, of themselves, do anything in the way of changes involving a departure from their Statutes, which Parliament might require of them, even if an enabling Statute were passed; and therefore, if Parliament thought it right to exercise its power, that power could not be exercised except compulsorily in the manner proposed by this Bill. He (Mr. R. Palmer) took the liberty of saying that he recognised with satisfaction the disposition evinced in this Bill to regard the spirit of the founders' intentions; and, without at all saying how far he thought the details of the Bill were sufficiently in conformity with those intentions, he could not help expressing his concurrence with the principle laid down, that, at all events, the general spirit of the founders' views ought to be respected. This was not, in his opinion, an unfit occasion to bear some testimony to the great merits of these founders of colleges. There were, he believed, no institutions in the country, except our churches and the general institutions connected with the Church, more ancient than these, and none which had been the source of greater benefits to the people. But for them the higher education of the country would have languished for centuries; and, if that had taken place, it was impossible to say what the country might have suffered either in its constitutional liberties, most of which were developed after the origin of these institutions, or in respect of its education or civilisation. Whatever might have been the points of detail on which the founders of these institutions erred, they ought to be honoured and revered for having contemplated great and beneficent designs which had been of the utmost value to the country. And as there was one subject on which the colleges had been much misrepresented, he would just refer to it—he meant that connected with the change which Lad taken place in religion. If there was any one point on which he was convinced, it was this—that the founders had in view, in a large and truly liberal sense, the maintenance of sound learning and sound religion. Of course they professed their religion according to the circumstances of the Church at the time in which they lived, but it was not to maintain the sectarian or special tenets of that particular condition of the Church, but to maintain the true interests of religion, that they founded these institutions. He might quote the founder of his own college, William of Waynflete, as an example, who stated that his main object was— The exaltation of the Christian faith, the advancement of the Church, the increase of Divine worship, and the liberal arts, sciences, and faculties, And— That the knowledge of Holy Scripture, which was the mother and mistress of all the sciences, should be more widely spread, That sentence from a bishop of the Church of England in the time of Henry VI. showed that the minds of some, at least, of these founders rose far above mere Roman Catholic feelings; and if their views were to be judged of in this spirit, as he believed they might, it was not to be supposed that since the Reformation there had been an essential departure from the intentions of those founders only because the Church of England had thought it right to relinquish some of the tenets and practices which generally prevailed at that time. Leaving this point, he would remind the House that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had stated two things—one, that he was desirous of removing the religious test imposed upon students at Oxford, and the other, that he should be desirous of so doing it as not to interfere with the religious education which formed the base of the system as it was now conducted in the Universities; and reference had been made to the system adopted in this respect at Cambridge, and to the propriety of assimilating the two systems. Now, it did not appear to him that this would be so large an extension of the University of Oxford to Dissenters as some imagined; and whether it were worth while to make that particular change for the sake of so small a benefit as would be conferred, he left to those who were the advocates of that change to determine. He was not one of those advocates, and that not because he entertained the least particle of sectarian feeling as regarded Dissenters. Nothing would give him greater satisfaction than to see Dissenters and Churchmen living together, and prosecuting their studies together at the University; but, at the same time, knowing the strong feeling of individuals on the subject of religion, knowing the strong religious jealousies which existed, the objection to proselytism, and the zeal on the part of individuals for the tenets which they believed to be true, he did not see how it was possible to maintain the supremacy of the established form of religion—to maintain the mode of worship and instruction to which the noble Lord referred, and at the same time to satisfy the views of those who would, of course, require that nothing should be done which would have the effect of withdrawing their children from one community to another. It was not, there- fore, from any jealousy with regard to the presence of Dissenters that he should feel bound to oppose the removal of the existing tests, but it was with a view to maintain that mode of religious instruction and those religious principles in the University which he thought ought to be the object of every statesman desirous of preserving the national Church, and of every member of that Church in his individual character. But the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) contended that the University being a national institution, should include and admit all. Dissenters. Well, the hon. Member was quite consistent in that opinion, because he was one of those who wished to abolish the national Church. That, however, was not the principle of the present Bill, and was not the law or the policy of this country. We possessed a national Church; and, that being so, there was no inconsistency in saying that a nation which had a national Church might also have national Universities in which the instruction given should be in accordance with the religion of that Church. If that could be done, and if, at the same time, the children of Dissenters could come and partake of the advantages which those Universities afforded, he should be most, happy to see them do so. If they were, willing to accept instruction upon those terms, and only desired that the religious element, which formed the basis of the educational system there, should not be applied in any manner unnecessarily offensive to them, let it be so; but he could not, as a citizen of the State, or as a member of the Church of England, consent to the proposition that, for the sake of making the University include the children of Dissenters, it should be stripped of that which was its greatest boast anti ornament—its connection with the Church of England and the religious principle which governed it.


said the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Heathcote) had made a suggestion which was well worthy the attention of the House. It referred to the constitution of the governing body of the University, and whether in truth the compulsory interference proposed by the Bill of the noble Lord was really necessary. That suggestion the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. R. Palmer) had met by an argument to which he (Mr. Wigram) would address himself for a few moments. The hon. and learned Member stated that, with- out the concurrence of the Hebdomadal Board at Oxford, it was impossible for the governing body there to effect any reform of the University, unless the Legislature interfered compulsorily. Doubtless there was an appearance of truth about that argument; but it was an argument which was merely popular, and, in fact, was delusive. The question was altogether a practical one, and he would test what might be done by what had already been done at the sister University of Cambridge. It was impossible to have a governing body which by its constitution had greater powers of excluding any change than that at Cambridge. Practically the governing body there consisted of a caput of five, any one of whom had an absolute veto upon whatever measure might be passed through the senate. But what had taken place? Why, upon reviewing the expediency of reconstituting the governing body at Cambridge, the authorities themselves had framed a constitution which proposed to abolish the existing caput. They had framed a scheme of government that very much resembled in substance that which the noble Lord proposed by his Bill to introduce at Oxford. In spirit it was the same, though not entirely in its details; and that scheme, which had passed both houses of the senate, had received the unanimous assent of the caput, and at this moment only awaited the approval of the Crown. It deserved consideration, therefore, whether this part of the plan of the Bill might not be met by a scheme proposed with the concurrence of the existing governing body at Oxford, receiving also the sanction of the Crown, and thus rendering the compulsory interference of Parliament altogether unnecessary. There were only two other points to which he (Mr. Wigram) would refer. The two most important objects which were aimed at by the Bill seemed to be, first, the establishment in the University of private halls; and secondly, the new appropriation of the collegiate revenues. With regard to the first of these points, the establishment of private halls, he concurred with the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, that there was no reason to apprehend that by the establishment of private halls the discipline of the University would of necessity suffer; but these institutions might involve some objections. The object of establishing such private halls was, as he understood it, that a cheaper education might be given to those who, it was supposed, could not afford to go to the larger colleges. Now he (Mr. Wigram) knew very little about the expenses of the colleges at Oxford; but he was persuaded that the necessary expenses of a collegiate education at the sister University of Cambridge were not greater than those which would necessarily be incurred in one of- those private halls; and it deserved the consideration of the House, in dealing with this part of the scheme, whether they would be prepared to institute in the Universities private halls, where there was too much reason to apprehend that the poorer students would be altogether separated and become a distinct class from the wealthier students. He had hitherto viewed it as one of the chief advantages of our Universities that there the distinctions of class were abolished as much as at public schools, and rich and poor mixed together very much on a footing of equality. The scheme of the noble Lord was attended with this probable result, that the poorer class of students would probably be confined to halls, whilst the richer students would go into the colleges of the University; thus separating one class from the other in a manner which to him would be open to considerable objection. With regard to the other point, namely, the appropriation of the collegiate revenues, he would say only a few words, because, as he understood the views expressed by the noble Lord, what he proposed to do in that respect was to be in furtherance of the objects of the original founders. That must necessarily be a matter of detail, and it would be for the House to see whether the noble Lord's proposal carried into effect that view or not. If, on looking at the foundation of a college, they found that the measure did further the objects contemplated by the original founder, then, of course, it would be worthy of adoption; but if it appeared that any of those rights of property which had hitherto been respected in those foundations were to be interfered with, he, for one, would not consent to give his support to a measure of that kind. That, however, he did not understand, from what the noble Lord had stated, to be his object. The noble Lord had declared that the object he had in view was to further the original intentions of the founders of the colleges, and not to interfere with them. But this was a portion of the scheme which must be considered when the House came to the discussion of its details. In conclusion, he begged to say that he was anxious to give his best consideration to the details of the Bill, and to support those of its provisions which were calculated to promote the real good of the University; but he should strenuously oppose anything which tended to interfere with the original intentions of the founders, or with those rights of property which it ought to be the great object of the Legislature of this country to maintain inviolate.


said, he considered that the country was much indebted to, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell), and to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the attention which they had paid to the subject of University reform, which had resulted in the production of the present measure. The most valuable part of that measure was, in his opinion, the appointment of the five Commissioners, and the extensive powers which were conferred upon then). The colleges were of a strictly monastic character, and might, in his (Mr. Heywood's) opinion, fairly come within the inquiry of the Committee proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers). In the fourteenth century no seat of learning was more free than Oxford, but after the preaching of Wickliffe, a persecution was carried on to exclude Lollardism, and, as the best means of doing this, there was a sort of monopoly of power established in the colleges, an example which was in course of time imitated by the Protestants. He had no objection to the establishment of private halls, but he thought that the better plan would be to open the colleges, and that we should take care lest the private halls should be converted into monasteries. The 'University of Oxford controlled the education of the higher classes all over the country, and the state of religious liberty which prevailed there' was, therefore, of the greatest national interest. It was on this account that he much regretted the Government had not included in their measure a clause for enlarging the boundaries of the University with regard to the admission of other parties not members of the Church of England. A civilised person would hardly believe that a student had at matriculation to sign Thirty-nine Articles which be had, perhaps, never seen or heard of before, and which he probably knew nothing about, except that his clergyman believed in them, and, possibly, some members of his family also. The great objection, however, appeared to him to be in the subsequent part of the career of a student at Oxford. Every student was compelled to learn by heart the Thirty Articles, and to be able to prove them from Scripture, and it was entirely out of the question that Dissenters should be placed under such a regulation. There s was, however, no reason why the system of the Church of England might not be carried out in its full integrity in the case those persons who were intended in after life to take holy orders. There was another test to which allusion had not been made, and which he considered to be ill founded. At Oxford, every person admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts was compelled to subscribe the Three Articles of the Thirty-sixth Canon, including the Thirty-nine Articles of Belief; and this, he considered, to be objectionable, because from the age at which a young; man graduated, generally when about twenty-one or twenty-two years old, it I could not be supposed that he had devoted any very considerable amount of study to these subjects. These tests were sometimes defended on the ground of preserving a high standard of morality, but he did not believe that the standard of morality in the English Universities was at all higher than that of the Universities in Germany and the United States of America, where no such tests were imposed. There was another point to which he wished to allude, and which he considered to be of considerable importance. He believed that one great error in the University system of this country was the compulsory celibacy of the Fellows of Colleges, and that it was desirable to abolish such a restriction. It was his anxious desire that the University of Oxford, which, with all its faults, was one of the most magnificent institutions ever founded, should enjoy the confidence of the whole body of the people of this country; and, in order that it might do so, it became the duty of Parliament, as they possessed the power, to control the present system, and to compel the Universities and the various colleges to adopt a better course of instruction than at present obtained. With regard to the extension of the system of education to the study of modern languages, it was melancholy to observe the occasional ignorance of modern languages among Oxford and Cambridge men; and, indeed, he believed that, in the mercantile community, there existed a greater amount of knowledge upon modern subjects than among those persons who had had the advantage of an education at the old Universities. He was gratified to hear that the subject of the endowment of colleges was to receive attention, and, also, that measures were to be taken for the foundation of new professorships. College fellowships were objects of ambition to the youth of all the public schools and of most of the large schools in the country, and the education of boys intended for the University was almost entirely devoted to enabling a portion of them to compete for, and, if possible, obtain a fellowship. It was a very great step for the Government to have brought in this Bill, as the subject of the constitutional reform of Oxford has not been mooted in Parliament since the Long Parliament, the time of Oliver Cromwell, and the Act of Uniformity. So strongly, however, did he feel on the subject of the exclusions from the University of Oxford, that when this measure was in Committee he should move to insert in it a clause to open the matriculation and graduation of students at that University to the whole British people. He should have been glad if the Government had taken that part of the question into their hands, but as he did not feel satisfied that it was a subject which ought to be dealt with by a separate Bill, he should, when the opportunity arrived, move a clause which would do away with restrictions which he deemed to be not only useless, but injurious.


said, that the fact of the University of Oxford educating a large proportion of the clergy and an influential class of the laymen of this country rendered him the more anxious respecting the present measure; and he could not say that he felt less anxiety upon the subject after hearing the remarks which had just fallen from the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat. For his part, he thought Parliament should take care to preserve the University as—what it was now to a great degree—an engine for diffusing sound religious education and useful learning amongst the people, and that they should not reduce it to the level of an institution that was to suit everybody's religious sentiments and convictions, by making it what the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Heywood) by his proposed clause wished to make it, and which, no doubt, the hon. Member had received a cordial invitation from the Government to try to make it. [Mr. HEYWOOD: No, no!] However, after what the noble Lord had stated, and he must say he had never heard a more direct invitation—considering the course which the hon. Member had hitherto taken upon the question of University reform—he must confess he did not wonder at the announcement just made by the hon. Member, that he would endeavour to do that which must necessarily lead to the adoption of one broad system of infidelity. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen appeared to dissent from that opinion. Let them not run away with the idea that he (Mr. Henley) was one of those, and some of them were then sitting on the benches opposite (the ministerial benches), who applied the name of infidel to the man who dissented from him in religious opinions. Do not let them run off with any such notion as that. Nothing of that kind could be imputed to him. But this he did say, if, within the walls of the same institution, a half dozen or a dozen systems of religious teaching were carried on, then very great confusion must arise in the minds of the young men, that confusion must necessarily produce indifference, and indifference would eventually beget infidelity. He did not hesitate to assert that a single instance could not be cited of such a practice existing without infidelity making wide and rapid progress at the same time. With regard to the measure under consideration, he should decline expressing any distinct or decided opinion upon it until he had had an opportunity of examining its provisions. He could not, however, shut his eyes to some of the circumstances under which the measure had been presented to the House, nor to what had taken place on previous occasions. Twice had the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Heywood) brought a measure connected with University reform before that House. Some years ago the hon. Member's proposition was for the direct admission of Dissenters to the Universities. In 1850 it was a measure of a more general nature, which a late Member of this House (Sir Robert Harry Inglis) termed a Bill of indictment against the Universities, and the noble Lord objected to the counts of that indictment, and said he would issue no Commission upon such grounds. That was followed up by a letter which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) addressed to the late Chancellor of the University of Oxford, the Duke of Wellington. In that letter, announcing the appointment of the Commission, the noble Lord assured his Grace the Chancellor that the Commissioners were to report— Whether any measures can be adopted by the Crown or Parliament by which the interests of religion and sound learning may be promoted in the conduct of education in the said University. In the same letter the noble Lord was also pleased to declare that— The object of the Commission is not to interfere with these changes, but to facilitate their progress, not to reverse the decisions of the University, ab extra, but to bring the aid of the Crown, or if necessary, of Parliament, to assist in their completion. But when he came to the Commission issued by the noble Lord, not a single word did he find in it which required the Commissioners to report their opinion as to what was requisite for the promotion of religion. Their inquiries were to be confined wholly to the subject of education in the University. It was not a matter of surprise to him, therefore, that throughout the 260 pages of that remarkable Report—remarkable, he must say, in more senses than one—the question of religious education was scarcely touched upon. True, he could not say it was not touched upon at all, but it was as nearly as possible not at all. Something was said about theology; but need he say that theology and the promotion of religious education were not precisely one and the same thing—that there was, indeed, the most essential difference between the two? The Commissioners, of course, wound up their Report with what might have been expected from them, considering the nature of the Commission which was sent to them. They said— Our object has been to lay such proposals before your Majesty as we believe to be calculated to place the University of Oxford at the head of the education of the country; to make its great resources more effectually serve their high purposes, and to render its professors fit representatives of the learning and the intellect of England. Now, the Bill of the noble Lord, so far as he (Mr. Henley) could get at its objects, did in so many respects follow the recommendations of the Commissioners that it was hardly possible to separate them in one's mind. No one who had paid any attention to the Report of the Commissioners could fail to see that in all its leading and most important particulars the Bill closely followed those recommendations; and he must say that he agreed very much with what had been stated by a gentleman of no inconsiderable eminence in the University—he meant Mr. Hussey—that if this Bali were carried, it must necessarily sepa- rate the education of the University from the Church. ["Hear, hear!"] He (Mr. Henley) might be wrong, but so far as he could gather from the noble Lord's statement of the objects of the Bill, he thought that must be the case. As he understood the noble Lord's observations, also, the Commissioners did not lay down anywhere what they conceived to be the object of the education that the University was to perfect and complete. The noble Lord, indeed, touched upon the question whether the University education, as at present conducted, was or was not carried too far in a preliminary direction. That was to say, the noble Lord thought, if he (Mr. Henley) caught his meaning correctly, that one of two great changes, or both, should take place; either that the preliminary education of persons who were to become members of a profession should cease sooner, or those persons should acquire the whole of their professional education at the University, whilst those who were not intended for a profession would get, in addition to their preliminary education, a smattering of knowledge in some or in all the sciences, so as to stand on a par with persons of intelligence whom they might encounter in after life. That opened up an enormous question, which had been ably treated by Dr. Pusey, in the letter already referred to by the noble Lord. That great authority had laid down certain propositions with regard to education, which he (Mr. Henley) doubted not would be much more in accordance with the general feeling and requirements of the country than the measure propounded by the noble Lord that night. The principle there laid down was, that by forcing persons to work themselves in order to acquire knowledge, the tutorial system, as it was termed, had the effect of training the mind, and giving it a strength and power which enabled it to apply itself more profitably to any subject it might have to deal with in after life; that it laid the foundation of sounder information than could be obtained by persons who merely attended lectures, from which they could derive nothing more than a smattering of knowledge, at little cost or trouble to themselves; and that the latter, system could not ensure the attainment of so much success in the future as the tutorial system which was now in force. The noble Lord had commented somewhat unjustly on what was said by Dr. Pusey with regard to one system or the other being likely to introduce rationalism or infidelity. The noble Lord must concede to him that the professorial system of Germany had not been able to resist the infidelity which sprung up at the latter end of the last century in various parts of Europe—that the professorial system of Germany had been powerless to resist that infidelity, if it had not absolutely fostered and created it; whereas the system pursued in this country had offered a successful resistance, on which account he (Mr. Henley) believed it to be a sounder and a better system. Regarding the Universities as the teachers of the people, and the teachers of those who, as the hon. Member for North Lancashire truly said, exercised influence over the affairs of the nation, it was of the utmost consequence that the system to be pursued should not only produce the greatest amount of good in itself, but also be able to resist the greatest amount of evil. With respect to the details of the Bill, and particularly as to the forcible change in the constitution of the governing body of the University, no notice had been taken by the noble Lord of what were to be the powers of convocation. The governing body in the University—the heads of houses—at present initiated measures, but those measures did not become the law of the University except by an Act of Convocation. Now, he had not succeeded in collecting what the noble Lord meant to do with convocation, and whether their powers were to be wholly abrogated or not. The noble Lord merely proposed to substitute another body in the place of the heads of houses; but whether convocation was to remain unchanged or not, the noble Lord did not say. That was of course a material feature in the case, because convocation was not a body so subject to change and the passing influences of the day as the resident body of the University. The resident body, especially the younger portion of it, was, from a variety of circumstances, subject to great, sudden, and capricious changes. Convocation, being composed of men of all ages, spread over the face of the country, was not so liable to change. It was a matter of great importance, therefore, to know how far, and to what degree, that part of the constitution of the University was altered by the noble Lord's Bill.


was understood to intimate that he did not propose to interfere with the power of convocation.


That made a very material difference. He believed it was not so understood before. On the contrary, it appeared as if the noble Lord's measure left the government of the University in the other body; whereas that body was to be subjected to control on the part of convocation. He (Mr. Henley) could not ascertain whether the noble Lord adopted the recommendation of the Commissioners as regarded the professors. It was a most important part of the scheme which they proposed. The Commissioners recommended that professors of any country and of every creed should be appointed, subject to no regulation except one, which be (Mr. Henley) intended subsequently to mention. The noble Lord did not say whether or not the professors under his Bill were to be of the same kind. He (Mr. Henley) would be glad to learn that fact, and so, he was satisfied, would the House. Assuming, however, that such were to be the provisions of the Bill, the Commissioners proposed, as well as the noble Lord, to take a part of the revenues of the colleges for the maintenance of these professorships. The revenues of these colleges, however, were unquestionably given for the maintenance of religion, that was incontestably proved by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Plymouth (Mr. H. Palmer), and no one could agree more thoroughly with the principle which that hon. Member laid down than he (Mr. Henley)—namely, that because the country had chosen to throw off certain abuses, it was not to continue to maintain the same Christianity as was professed at all periods. These foundations were given by pious persons in past times for the maintenance of sound religion and useful learning—so ran the old phrase, though it was sadly cut down of late; but the Commissioners proposed to give one-fifth of the revenues of the colleges to professors, who might be Jews or Infidels, or Turks, or anything else. It was true the Commissioners recommended one system of regulation, which was remarkable as being the same that the Government imposed on the schoolmasters of the national schools—namely, that they should teach nothing adverse to the Christian religion. That was the only regulation which a Commission, consisting of a bishop, dean, a head of a house, a lawyer, and a clergyman, proposed to impose on these professors. These professors, however, were to be the means by which additional knowledge was to be imparted, and by which additional scholars were to be obtained. The noble Lord's proposition differed in respect of the mode of extension of his system from that of the Commissioners; his plan was to be more in the nature of halls as now established than in that of colleges. Nobody could object to as great a number of halls as could be filled with scholars; but how these halls were to afford cheaper education than the existing colleges, without which element they were unnecessary, he (Mr. Henley) could not at all understand. The colleges, as at present established, were provided with chapels and chaplains, and all requisite means of exercising a religious influence as well as a moral control over the students. The noble Lord did not of course mean to bring numbers of these young men together without adequate provision for their spiritual instruction and moral guidance. The Commissioners, however, ignored that point altogether, though these young men would be exposed to the greatest temptation at a time of life when it was of first-rate importance to surround them with religious and moral influences, to induce them both by example and precept to act rightly, and so to lead them on to the source of all good. If the halls proposed by the noble Lord were to be provided with places of religious worship, and the other necessary adjuncts on these circumstances—such as rooms for taking meals and places to lodge in—any person of the least experience in the cost of building diocesan training schools, which the House should remember were for pupils of a far more humble sphere than those who frequented the University, must know it would be utterly impossible for these halls to compete in point of cheapness with the present colleges. With respect to what had been said of permitting students to lodge out, he doubted very much if the experience of persons lodging out of college would bear out the system of the noble Lord. He (Mr. Henley) could not speak from personal experience, but he had heard the members for the University of Cambridge say that persons so lodging out were the objects of more strict supervision than those who lodged in the colleges; and that the lodging-house keepers were as much spies upon their conduct, on the part of the governing bodies, as the men who kept the college gates. Under these circumstances he (Mr. Henley) much doubted that the cheapness proposed by the plan of the noble Lord would be realised. With regard to the question of interference with the privileges and property of the colleges, that was a very serious question, and it was all the more so when its extent came to be considered. Expediency was a very tempting phrase, a very convenient one when the end proposed was to lay hold of other men's property. But how did the noble Lord propose to deal with the property of the colleges? The noble Lord proposed to take not only one-fifth of their revenues, to be applied to purposes not consistent with their constitution, but he proposed also to apply a further portion of these revenues to other purposes equally not contemplated by the founders of the colleges. The noble Lord also said, that of the three prescriptions which now existed as to the admission of fellows, he proposed to do away with two, and to preserve one. He would not do away, he stated, the prescription which gave certain schools advantages in that respect, but he would do away altogether with the prescription as regarded counties. The only arguments, however, of any force for doing away with any of these prescriptions—and it was that adopted by several of the colleges themselves—was, that by so abolishing them a larger field would be opened for better men to be selected from. But how could the noble Lord suppose that a school which gave two candidates only, for instance, would offer the same field as a county—as Yorkshire for instance? If the county prescription, or the national prescription, was to be done away with, how then could the noble Lord propose to confine it to a school? He would, in connection with this point, ask if foreigners were to be admitted. That was the first question, and the House had a right to know it. Were inhabitants of the colonies to be admitted? Were natives of Ireland and of Scotland to be admitted? These were all questions on which information was required when the subject at issue was the breaking down of prescription. Looking at the measure as a whole, and coupling it with the noble Lord's concluding observation, followed up by the notice given by the hon. Member for North Lancashire to move in Committee that Dissenters should be admitted to the University, he (Mr. Henley) could not but regard it with great apprehensions as a change which ere long would inevitably disconnect the Church of England as a teacher from the University. Hearing the hon. Member give notice of moving the admission of Dissenters in Committee on the Bill, and state that he would call on the Government to support it he (Mr. Henley) could not but conclude that it was the intention and object of the Government, in spite even of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by a necessary consequence of their own proposition, to set up in the University a number of independent halls, which might be Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, or any other form of Christianity. He believed this to be the inevitable consequence of the plan proposed, and he believed, therefore, that it would, in causing the destruction of all religious education for youths, have the worst effect upon the future fortunes and prosperity of this country.


Sir, on my own behalf, and, I am quite sure, on the part of my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) and Her Majesty's Government, I venture to express my satisfaction and my thankfulness with regard to the manner in which this important measure has been received by the House. The tone of the speeches which have been made to-night satisfies me that this subject will have the advantage of a dispassionate and impartial consideration. We have heard two Gentlemen express their sentiments, who occupy prominent positions in what is called Her Majesty's Opposition; but I am bound to say that neither in the speeches of those Gentlemen, nor in any of the speeches which have proceeded from any other quarter, can I trace the slightest disposition to deal with this question as a question of mere party politics. I am confident, Sir, that whatever good can accrue to any one (and I know of no good that can accrue to any one) from mixing up the University of Oxford with the struggles and the contests a party, nothing but unmixed evil can result to the University from the adoption of such a course. Sir, various questions of detail have been mooted in the course of this discussion, and particularly by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down; and I am sure that he will excuse me if I do not endeavour to follow him upon those questions of detail, because this is eminently a subject on which I think it is desirable that the House should suspend its judgment with regard to all those matters until each Member holds a copy of the Bill in his hands. The structure of this ancient University is so curious and complex, it has so much of history and tradition within itself, and such infinite variety and diver- sity attached to it, that it is impossible to deal with all its interests justly and considerately, and at the same time to do it in a few general and sweeping clauses. It was, therefore, necessary, in framing this Bill, to endeavour to adapt it in some degree to this extraordinary diversity—thus rendering unavoidable a deviation from that simplicity of form and paucity of provisions in which it is abstractedly desirable that every measure should appear before this House. On this account, and on account of the bearings which the different provisions have upon one another, I hope hon. Gentlemen will consent to wait, for the few hours that must elapse before the Bill will be in their hands, with regard to matters of detail.

But several questions have been touched upon that are questions of principle, and to these I wish to advert for a few moments. I will refer to the first of them, merely for the purpose of explaining why I prefer to postpone its discussion, for my own part, to a future period. I mean the important question raised by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall), which has since been discussed with great ability by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. R. Palmer), and to which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Henley) just adverted with a serious earnestness and a concern for the interests of the Universities which everybody must respect: I mean the important subject of the admission of Dissenters to the University. Now the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Heywood) has given notice, in the course of this debate, that he will take an opportunity, when this Bill goes into Committee, of moving a clause on this subject. Well, Sir, I shall, with the permission of the House, reserve myself till the hon. Member proposes his clause, when I shall be prepared to state, I hope clearly, the reasons which will induce me to meet his intended clause with a negative. For the present, then, I pass on to other questions of great importance. One of these questions is the alleged interference with the independence of the University; and another is the alleged abstraction of a portion of the property of the colleges. Now, as regards the question of interference with the independence of the University and of the colleges, by inviting Parliament to enter upon the task of what may be called compulsory or coercive legislation, I am free to admit that it would be most desirable to leave the University to reform itself, if the constitutions of the University and the colleges had possessed in themselves such elasticity, and such facility of adaptation to the varying wants of the active age in which we live, as would render it unnecessary to come to Parliament in order to meet this exigency. Her Majesty's Government, however, after long consideration—after exhibiting, I hope, no want of patience—have come to the conclusion that the constitution which the University has inherent in itself does not afford those facilities, and have therefore thought it to be their imperative duty to make a proposal to Parliament on the subject. But here we are met by the right bon. Gentleman the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole), and by other hon. Gentlemen, with the doctrine, broadly laid down, that the right course would be to confine ourselves simply to the removal of disabilities, and to leave everything in the hands of the heads of the University and the colleges. Now, in the first place, I must demur-to any doctrine of this kind laid down upon abstract grounds. I cannot admit that there is any right whatever in those who are the life tenants of any corporation whatever to set up a title to the absolute and exclusive management of that corporation's affairs as against the supreme authority of the Legislature. I grant as fully as any man—and I have often asserted it in this House, and am ready to maintain it again—that it is most desirable that the Legislature should practise great reserve and great self-control in the exercise of its interference; but that is a matter of prudence and consideration—a question, supposing the interference to be authorised, whether the occasion for its exercise is an adequate and an imperative one. As to the right, I hold that there can be no doctrine so inconvenient—none of such dangerous consequence—none more certain to produce violent reaction—than to attempt to set up a multitude of divided and independent authorities, each contending for supremacy in the conduct of institutions and the management of property, which owe, if not their being, at any rate their safety and prosperity, to the guardianship of the general law of the land.

But this case does not stand merely upon general prudence—it is a case for the interference of Parliament, clearly and conclusively, on grounds altogether special and peculiar. My hon. Colleague (Sir W. Heathcote) has himself stated the case as regards the colleges, which is, that they have not the power to make changes, however desirous they might be to do so; and I venture to say that that case does not admit of an answer. I am not surprised at hearing my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram), where they are so free—for in that University there is only the case of a single college which is entangled in the meshes of the oath which attaches to as many as eight of the most important colleges of Oxford, namely, the oath by which the whole of the governing body of the college directly, or by inevitable implication, are bound to make no change, and to permit no change or alteration to be made, in the Statutes. Why, what would be the use of giving the colleges enabling powers? We should be entangled with questions as to whether Parliament can make an oath void and the like; and supposing some member of the college should think that Parliament possessed no such right, are you ready to enter into questions of conscience, and to tell him that his scruples are idle, and that he must do what you require, whether he thinks so or not; and this too, forsooth, under the notion of preserving their freedom and independence? Well, this is the position in which you place these great colleges; I will not mention them all, but there are amongst them several of the wealthiest and greatest colleges of Oxford, including Magdalen, New College, Brasenose, Corpus, All Souls, Lincoln, and one or two more. Are we to say, when we know that the governing bodies of these colleges are restrained by personal and common oaths from devising any scheme of change, that we will simply pass an Act enabling them to devise such schemes of change, and then think we have done all our duty in the matter? But then my hon. Friend and Colleague (Sir W. Heathcote), who himself put this argument, which I believe admits of no answer with respect to the colleges, stated that, as regards the University, the case is altogether different, because the University, he said, is under no such disability, and the University, with the licence of the Crown, is perfectly free to proceed to make any changes which it may think fit in its own constitution; and, as respects other matters, is free to make changes, generally speaking, in the government and internal condition, without any licence from the Crown. That is perfectly correct; but the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. R. Palmer) said, and said most truly, when you speak of a University, who and what do you mean? It might be said that the University had the power of appointing its own representatives and making its views and wishes known through them. Now, they have power whatever, through the Convocation, except that of saying a bare "aye" or a bare "no" to such questions as may be propounded to the Convocation by the governors of the University at Oxford. That is the simple view of the case. It is unnecessary to say that I wish to speak of the governors with every possible respect; there is no man among them who is not respectable in his sphere—a great many of them are able, eminent, and even distinguished—but they are appointed, generally speaking, and almost without exception, by the different colleges to manage the affairs each of their particular college; and the prominent idea in the minds of those who have the choosing of them is that of choosing the managers of a college, and not of choosing governors for the University. The constitution of a college is so peculiar, that almost exclusive power is in the hands of a board of this description, the members of which are almost all chosen for such purposes. It is with great limitation and reserve that you can speak of them as representing the opinions of the University, and which opinions they have no means of bringing before Parliament. I was endeavouring to count them up during the statement of my noble Friend (Lord John Russell), and I think we have had six different constitutions sent up from the University, and all of them recommended on very respectable authority. There are two constitutions recommended by the committee of the board of heads of houses, and two constitutions recommended by the tutors, making four. Then there is a fifth constitution, which was recommended recently by a large body of residents; and there is also a sixth constitution, recommended by the Hebdomadal Board, and in favour of which Convocation had presented its petition. You may say, perhaps, that you regard that as the petition of the University.

Then look at the difficulty under which this constitution works. When we speak of the constitution of the University of Oxford, although it is perfectly true that all the members of the Convocation have gone through a certain term of residence, and passed certain degrees, and keep their names on the books, although it is perfectly true that they are invested with the Parliamentary franchise, yet this does not enable every country clergyman, or every London lawyer or Member of Parliament, to exercise practically a judgment upon the affairs of the University, with which he is never conversant, like those who reside in the University, and carry on its work. Now look for a moment at the working of the present constitution. The constitution recommended by the board of heads of houses was proposed in Convocation. Of the whole number of members of Convocation, only about one-tenth part voted for this constitution. But that is not all. While the majority of the Parliamentary constituency, so to call it, voted one way, the immense majority of the working body voted the other way. Of the teaching body of the University of Oxford, there were two to one against the petition which was recommended by the University. I ask, therefore, whether, under such circumstances—I say nothing now of the supremacy of Parliament—it would be rational that we should be such slaves of form, because one-tenth of the whole body met, and there were two to one who voted against a particular measure, as to regard that particular measure as being invested with the plenary authority of the University? But this is not all. I contend that the Government, in making this proposal to Parliament, are standing strictly upon historical and constitutional ground, with reference to the University, and to take the opposite course, as my right hon. Friend suggests, would be standing on ground altogether the reverse. What is the Statute that is now in question? It is one of three in the University which are called the "Caroline Statutes." Now, the University of Oxford, under the governance of the "Laudian code," framed that Statute by delegacy of the Convocation, and, therefore, I take it as being the work of the University itself. So framed, it received the sanction of the Crown. Well, if that was the case with the Statute, no doubt you might fairly say that the precedent should be to let the University frame a Statute, and the Crown give to it its sanction. Now, in the case of the "Caroline Statute," upon which the constitution exists, that was framed under the authority of the Crown, and adopted by the University; it was afterwards inserted in the "Laudian code," but it owed its ori- gin to the Government of the country. That is the point on which I take my stand; and therefore I say it was the business of the Government of the country not to consider themselves precluded from dealing with the formation of such a Statute.

The other question to which I wish to advert, is a question which relates to what may be called the sanctity of property—the diversion of certain property connected with the colleges for the purposes of the University. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has applied to that operation the strong name of confiscation; for he says he does not know another. But, however, he went on to limit the application of this term by saying that he did not mean to apply it to any case where you could trace any such purpose in the will of the founder. That would be quite a sufficient justification for the principle of this arrangement, because undoubtedly the most marked and specific cases which this Bill has in view for the application of college property to University purposes are cases where the founder has left most distinct indications of his intentions. These indications are very remarkable. In the case of Magdalen College the founder provided that there should be three lectureships established and paid, and that the lectures should be delivered for the benefit not only of that college, but of the whole University; and that bequest remains, after 400 years, unfulfilled. In the case of Corpus Christi College, the founder did exactly the same thing, and provided for the establishment of three lectureships for the benefit of the whole University; but that bequest has remained until within the last few years unnoticed. At present the governing body of that college, animated by the strongest desire for the reformation of the institution, although entangled by the oath to which I have referred, yet, acting in conformity with the spirit of their Statutes, have offered a munificent endowment for Latin professorships for the benefit of the whole University. But there are other cases proceeding upon the same principle. There were applications from Christ Church College to devote a portion of its funds for the establishment of chairs of divinity, which applications were based upon exactly the same principle. When the House of Commons had before it the Ecclesiastical Tithes and Revenues Bill, you exempted the chapters of Christ Church, on the ground that it was not to be considered as a chapter, but as a portion of the college. It was a portion of the college, but you proceeded afterwards by Act of Parliament to appropriate certain of the canonries of that college for the support of chairs of theology. Why, Sir, that is the very thing which this Bill asks the House to do. There was no provision in that Act for Statutes, because Statutes they had none, but there were college offices and canonries independently of any such obligations. That is the precedent and the principle upon which, on due cause shown, the Government ought to proceed. I do not say that anything rash or violent ought to be done upon this or any other ground; but it is vain to speak of confiscation as applicable to such a subject as the reasonable application of college property not for its exclusive benefit, but for the benefit of the entire University, in common with the college. There is a union of interest between the University and the college—an intimacy of relation and a mutual dependency between them; and, therefore, to use language of this kind in such a case is nothing but a perversion. It was prescribed by the founder of Corpus Christi college in the sixteenth century that one chair should be founded for the Latin and another for the Greek language. That was, Sir, because the study of Greek had just then emerged from the darkness in which it had been buried. And is it not fair to presume that the other founders—that William of Wykeham for instance, who lived a century and a half earlier—that if he had lived then, he would not have made equal provision for that study? Is it fair that the dead letter of the Statute should in this way be allowed to hold good against the common sense both of the Parliaments and the colleges of future ages? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) has said that he is not aware whether the Bill provides for the appointment of professors in the same way as is recommended in the Report of the Commissioners. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman will so soon have the Bill in his hands that I prefer leaving him then to discover wherein the Bill and the Report differ, and wherein they agree, rather than that I should enter into any details upon that subject at present. Sir, the Report of the Commissioners is a document that has been drawn up with the greatest ability, and it has been of the greatest service to Government by a thorough and searching discussion of all those questions that are interesting and invaluable to the Univer- sity. But undoubtedly, in considering the recommendations of that Report, Her Majesty's Government felt it their duty to deal with the subject on their own authority and their own responsibility, and not upon the authority of that Report.

The right hon. Gentleman appears to suppose that there is to be on the part of each of the colleges, a fixed contribution of a fifth part of their revenues, for the benefit of the University generally, to be followed perhaps afterwards by a further contribution of a fourth part. Sir, what is really proposed is as follows:—Power is given to the different colleges, subject to the approval of the Commissioners, to make of their own accord a contribution for University purposes, such as for endowing the chairs of professors, to an amount not exceeding a fifth part of their revenues. Therefore, it is not, in the first instance at least, a fifth part of their revenues, but such a sum as they may themselves deem requisite. But if the colleges do not exercise these enabling powers to the satisfaction of the Commissioners within a certain time, then the Commissioners are empowered to act, but they cannot act without limitations. They are not to act at all in the case of those colleges which have less than twenty fellowships. They are not to interfere in the case of any of the poorer foundations, because it is thought it would be hardly fair to deal with them. When they do act, then they are to send under seal their reasons for imposing the burdens which they lay upon the colleges, and the grounds on which they are satisfied that these colleges can make a just provision without prejudice to the purposes contemplated by the founders of each college. Having done that, they are then to declare the amount of the fund which they require from each college, subject to the limitation referred to; but even then they must leave to the different colleges the mode in which they shall supply that fund; and, lastly, in the purposes for which these funds are to be assigned, it is distinctly provided that the Commissioners shall not do so without assigning to each college a reasonable control over the regulation and management of the professorship or professorships to be established. I think the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) will admit that the regulation is not so unreasonable as he is now inclined to suppose. Certainly no one at Oxford has said that it is unreasonable that the wealthy colleges should make rea- sonable contribution to the needs of the University. They complain that the contribution required by the Royal Commissioners is too much, as in the case of All Souls, where it was proposed that out of forty fellowships twenty should be swallowed up for the founding of four professorships. To the unreasonable amount objection has been taken. But we do not propose so much the abstraction of property from the colleges, as that certain college officers should be appointed to discharge certain duties by means of the funds of the college, the benefits of which will be equally open to them with that of the whole University. Our purpose is quite consistent with the precedents that have been followed within the last few years in the case of the theological professorships; it is recommended by the reason of the case, and I cannot doubt it will be favourably received by the House. Sir, having said much upon the independence of the University and upon the supposed abstraction of property from the colleges which is no abstraction at all, I think it best to postpone any further remarks upon the Bill itself till the second reading, and I shall only say further, that when the Bill comes into the hands of hon. Members they will perceive that in the first clause, which appoints the Parliamentary Commissioners, the names of those Commissioners are left blank, as the Government thought that was the most proper form in which to bring the matter before the House in the first instance; but if the Bill should be read a second time, the names will be stated to the House before going into Committee, and they will be inserted in Committee.


said, he obtruded himself, on the present occasion, upon the House with great reluctance, but in what he considered the performance of a sacred duty, in order to state those points of the noble Lord's Bill to which he principally objected. He was surprised that the noble Lord should have quoted a passage from Burke with regard to the confiscation of Church property in France in order to justify the confiscation of Church property in England; and he was sure Burke would have been astonished at the use the noble Lord had made of the splendid passage from which he had taken his quotation. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the step which the Government had taken might be justified by historical precedents. It might certainly be so justi- fied—not, however, by the precedent of the period of history to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, but of that period When England's monarch once uncover'd sat, And Bradshawe bullied in a broad-brimm'd hat. This Bill appeared to him to be, in truth, founded upon a very narrow knowledge of human nature, and upon a total ignorance of the English nature. He was not prepared to say that the government of the University of Oxford might not require alteration, and to one part of the Bill he had therefore no objection; but he would ask whether the assembly which he had now the honour to address was the best constituted body for regulating the mode of education at the Universities? His objection to the Bill was, that it took money which had been given, and could only have been obtained upon one ground, and applied it to an object totally distinct from that for which it was intended. He thought that property given in mortmain stood upon a totally different footing from other property; and if a necessity existed for removing abuses, no one would go further than he would in order to do so, and to carry out those reforms which were necessary for the welfare of the country; but they would never have had this property at all if it had not been for those principles which they now wished totally to ignore. A man born, say in some little village in Northumberland, rose from an obscure condition, and, having no children, was desirous of giving to those who had sprung from the same origin, and encountered the same difficulties as himself, an opportunity of obtaining that education to which he owed everything, but they now wished to take away the benefit of a bequest made with that object from the Northumberland men, to give it to all mankind. Nothing could be more discouraging to munificent endowments than this; for although they might gain a momentary advantage, they would destroy the principle from which all these advantages must spring. Money would never be left to the Universities if it was found that money which had been left them for one purpose was applied to another purpose, whenever it became necessary to remedy an abuse. This was the argument upon which he insisted; and he should have thought himself guilty of base ingratitude, holding the position which he held, and bearing the name which he bore, if he had refrained from expressing his aversion to the principle which the Bill of the noble Lord so far embodied. He concurred with the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Blackett) in regretting that the noble Lord had not flung open the Universities to every English citizen, as this would have been a most favourable occasion for adopting a measure which was founded upon justice, and which would have aided so directly the great object of national education. With regard to that part of the Bill to which he had referred, he was obliged, with great regret, because he differed from those with whom he was in the habit of acting, to express his unqualified and entire dissatisfaction.


said, he considered that this measure was a direct invasion of the independence of the University of Oxford, and of the Sovereign, its visitor. The University was an ancient corporation, with full powers of legislating with regard to its own internal regulations, subject to the concurrence of the Soverign, as visitor. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to the "Caroline Statutes" as a precedent for the proposed interference, but why had he not recommended Her Majesty's Government to follow that precedent, and to send the Bill to the University of Oxford in order that it might be submitted to Convocation, for then it might have been accepted, as were the "Caroline Statutes," and the independence of the University would have remained uninfringed, and the right of the Soverign, as visitor, would have been vindicated? Instead of consulting the University, the Government had violated its independence in the first instance by the constitution of the Commission, when they ought to have recommended the Crown to visit. The Commission reported, and the University was then in progress to reform itself, but the noble Lord would not even allow the University to give its opinion, far less would he suggest the measure which he was authorised on the part of the Crown to submit to it. Again did he show his determination to interpose the arbitrary authority of Parliament in order by violence to regulate the University, and that determination was now proved by the manner in which he now proposed to deal with the colleges, as well as with the University. The heads and the leading members of the colleges had been consulting as to whether they should not, in accordance with the supposed wish of the Crown, devote the funds of the cor- poration, as far as their power and sense of duty would permit, to the extension of University education; but they were not allowed to act, and their property was to be grasped by a measure of confiscation. Hs felt that the measure of the Government was a flagrant violation of the rights of corporate property. When they thus interfered with corporate property, who could say that private property would be long safe from their interference? He could not sit silent, even at this stage of the Bill, without denouncing the vicious principles upon which it was founded.

Leave given. Bill ordered to be brought in by Lord John Russell, Viscount Palmerston, and Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Bill read 1°.