HC Deb 09 July 1858 vol 151 cc1200-41

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee of Supply.

Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.

(1.) £73,730, Department of Science and Art.


said, he wished to reduce the sum by £9,045 8s., being the increase on the Vote of last year. They were the conservators of the public purse, and their duty was to see that these Votes should not be continually increased. He agreed with the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Beresford Hope) that they ought not to grant more money than was recommended by a Committee of the House, or some other body such as the trustees of the British Museum, in whom the House had confidence. If they had recommendations of that sort, the House would not grudge the money necessary for the promotion of science and art.


said, he thought it right to state that the National Gallery in Edinburgh had given very great satisfaction to the people of that city. In matters of art, it was not easy to arrive at a result that was pleasing to every one. Now, this object seemed to have been accomplished in the present instance. The artists were satisfied as well as the public, and artists were proverbially very ill to please in such matters. On the whole, he thought the institution did great credit to the country, and more particularly to all parties connected with its establishment. He believed that the National Gallery would be a great advantage, not only to the inhabitants of Edinburgh, but to the people of Scotland generally.


said, that hon. Members should understand that this Motion would preclude any objection on any particular item in the Vote.


said, he could not concur in the objection urged against this Vote by the hon. Member for Swansea.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


remarked, that he understood that the sum now asked for by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) would be the maximum. He begged to remind the right hon. Gentleman that if a larger sum were asked for in future he should object to it.


said, he could not assure the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Williams) that this Vote was now at its maximum, but it was probably something near it. He must, however, decline to give on the part of the Government any specific pledge on the subject. It was in accordance with the most rigid rules of political economy to apply a portion of the public money in stimulating art in this country, and it was also clear from experience that as the stimulus took effect the system of education became more and more self-supporting. There had been a departure from the subsidizing system for one which met the efforts made in each locality. As this had been more and more adopted, and encouragement had been given in prizes and certificates where results had been obtained, local exertions had been called out, and the schools had become not only more efficient but more self-supporting. It was even found that as the Parliamentary grants to schools were reduced the burden upon the locality itself was diminished, the voluntary subscriptions being less needed in consequence of the increased tendency of the schools to support themselves. It might seem that as the schools increased the expense would naturally become larger, yet there was reason to believe that the increase would be more and more counteracted by the self-supporting tendency of these schools of art. He could not promise that the Vote should not show some small increase in future years, but he was inclined to regard it as very near its maximum at present.


was glad to hear the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, as it proved that the system had come very near to the object which the Committee, which sat to consider this subject, had in view, namely, that schools of design should be rendered self-supporting. He believed that as these schools extended themselves they would become more popular institutions.


pointed out the inequality with which the Vote was dealt out to Ireland as compared with England and Scotland. He did not see why a city like Cork, which had produced many eminent artists, should he excluded from the benefits of a school of design.


said, he felt bound to repeat his objection to the appointment of the curator of the Museum being vested in the Royal Academy. He should not divide the Committee on the question now; but if the Vote came up next year with this appointment in the same hands, he should decidedly move an Amendment, and take the opinion of the House on the matter.


said, it could be prove to demonstration that no public money spent of late years had been productive of so much benefit to the country as that which was devoted to the promotion of art and science. He did not mean high art or science, but the inculcation of practical knowledge and information to those who earned their bread by their daily labour. He would mention a remarkable result of this expenditure. Twelve years ago our exports to France were only £400,000 a year, but now, in consequence of our improved designs, combined with cheap labour, they had increased to upwards of £2,000,000—and it would be found that a large portion of those exports consisted of porcelain and other objects of taste in which formerly the French were our successful competitors. Again in the article of silk, until within the last few years, our exports were not so large with the whole world as they now were with France alone. This was another proof of the immense advantage which these schools of design had afforded to our manufactures. The House should not do anything to preclude itself from increasing these votes if they continued to produce such profitable results. Parliament, however, had nothing to do with the subject brought under the notice of the Committee by the noble Lord (Lord Elcho). A certain sum was voted for the National Gallery and the Museum, and the appointment of the curator was a matter in the hands of a local Board.


said, that several minor places in England got shares of this grant; and he thought that the advantage of the Vote ought to be extended more widely. The City of Cork, the City of Dublin, and the town of Galway, and other towns in Ireland, were well entitled to a portion of these funds.


said, that if Ireland did not receive a sufficiently large share of the grant, it was her own fault. Ireland was placed on exactly the same footing as England and Scotland with respect to its distribution. He hoped the money would not be looked upon as an eleemosynary fund, to be doled out according to the arbitrary discretion of the head of a department. It was appropriated strictly according to certain conditions which were equally applicable to all portions of the kingdom. If, therefore, any application were made from any town in Ireland it would be immediately complied with.


said, he thought these institutions were conferring great benefits on society, and it was substantially carry- ing out the old university system of this country. The observations that had been made about the Report were too severe, and he thought it was an interesting document.


said, it was entirely the fault of localities in Ireland that they did not enjoy the advantage of the grant, and, as an instance of this, he might refer to a recent interesting and successful exhibition of works of art and pictures in Dublin, the nucleus of which was several specimens of art, which had been lent to that city by the society in England. He hoped other localities in Ireland would follow the example of Dublin.


said he could bear testimony to the inestimable benefit which schools of design had conferred upon the country. He had no doubt that, by following the present system, the designs in this country would shortly be as good as those in France.

Vote, agreed to.

(2.) £223,000, Public Education (Ireland).


said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the expediency of making such modifications in the conditions under which public money is granted to non-vested schools as may extend the benefits of the National system of education to a larger portion of Her Majesy's subjects in Ireland. If he had brought on this subject on going into Committee of Supply, in accordance with the notice he had given, he should have presented a vast number of petitions praying that the Bible might be introduced into the National schools in Ireland. He wished, in the outset, to guard himself against its being supposed that any hostility towards grants for the education of the Roman Catholics of Ireland induced him to give notice of his Motion. So far from that being the case, if aid were to be confined either to the Roman Catholic or the Protestant schools, he should prefer that it should be given to the Roman Catholic, because the majority of the population was Roman Catholic. The first thing that struck a person, in looking at this subject, was that our National system of education in Ireland was not National. It was repudiated by nearly every clergyman of the Established Church in Ireland; in other words, by the great body of those who were paid to be the guides and teachers of the people. It was repudiated, also, by a large number of the proprietors of land. That surely was a flaw in the system, which otherwise had great merits; and surely, if that system could be made acceptable to the whole instead of a part of the people of Ireland, it would be more satisfactory. The system had another defect—it stirred up a vast amount of bitterness. For thirty years, a feeling that they were not treated justly had rankled in the minds of the clergy. Now, he did not himself believe that a large number of intelligent and excellent men would go on for thirty years bewailing their hard lot unless their lot were really hard. No doubt it was irritating to hear people filling Heaven and earth with their lamentations, and one's inclination was to shut one's cars. But it would be unworthy of this House to give way to exasperation, however tiresome the Irish clergy might have seemed to be. It would surely be wiser, if possible, to remove the ground of complaints than to pooh-pooh those who made them. But though he should think that no work could be more fit for a statesman to do than the work of removing discontent, and above all when that discontent arose from religious scruples being disregarded, still he did not seek for a change in this system as a boon to the Irish clergy. They were admirable men. There was not in the world a set of men more devoted to their duty; and be thought they had reason to feel themselves illused. But it was not from sympathy for them that he asked for a modification of the system. His reason for doing so was this—that, having travelled now and then in Ireland, and made a point of visiting the schools, he had found the bulk of the peasant children provided by the nation with as good an education, as well-built schoolrooms, trained schoolmasters, first-rate books and apparatus, annual inspection, and a printed report of their progress could bestow; and that they were in themselves a priceless blessing to the Irish people. Side by side with all this, he found some hundred thousand peasant children, in the Church Education and other schools, who were not in the enjoyment of these advantages; and he felt that in holding its hand, and not giving those great benefits to that great multitude of children, our National system was doing less than it might do for the welfare of Ireland. He might more especially allude to the loss it was to them not to have masters trained in the National normal schools, and, above all, not to have the annual inspection and report. So far, then, as that went, he did not doubt that all who held that an ample education was a blessing to the children who received it, and in the long run to the country which gave it, would agree with him in regretting that nearly 100,000 children should be outcasts from the National system. So much, he was sure, would be granted him by the candour of the House, that it would be desirable, if it could properly be done, to convey the benefits of the National system to these additional 100,000 children. But then he should wish, with equal candour, to examine the difficulties that stood in the way. What was it that narrowed the field of usefulness of the system, and debarred those children from it? Why, that the National Board could give no help to any school, unless its patron took a pledge that no child should receive any religious teaching to which the child's parents objected—a most plausible restriction he acknowledged, but a pledge which the clergy could not take. They deemed it to be their absolute duty to give a knowledge of the Word of God to all the children under their care. They thought that, when they had founded a school, they had no right to withhold Scriptural education from any of the children who came to it; and that if they promised to do so, for the sake of getting money and help, they would be betraying a trust. That might be a great mistake on their part, but he was sure the House would allow that that scruple of theirs was a decent, a respectable scruple—not one to be treated with utter scorn. He did not want the House to endorse the scruples of the clergy; but he did want them to acknowledge that the heartfelt religious scruples of a great body of admirable men, who had stood their ground during a sharp trial of thirty years, ought not to be lightly passed over, and that the House was bound gravely to weigh whether it really was necessary to exact that pledge which so much disturbed them. That pledge, he contended, kept the National system from being national:—it excited vehement discontent; and it cast off 100,000 children from great educational advantages. Another evil in connection with the present system was, that the existing National Schools bad a monopoly of the Government aid; and in consequence the schools became in many cases feeble and languid. Nothing could tend more to the advantage of schools in Ireland than a healthy competition. These were the disadvantages of keeping up the present system. On the other hand the argument was, that if you removed the pledge you destroyed the essence of the system. But he would ask the Committee to consider whether the good effected by the pledge outweighed the evils he had described. They all knew why it was established. It was hoped that if the parents knew that their children could receive no religious teaching without their consent, then the Protestant and Roman Catholic child would be sent to the same school for their secular education and receive their religious education separately. It was thonght that, trusting in that pledge, the parents of different denominations would not fear to have their children brought up in the same school. And certainly, if that hope had been fulfilled, if the pledge had really produced that effect, if the Protestant and Roman Catholic children were really receiving a combined education in the National Schools, he should be the first to implore the House not to lay its fingers on the machinery by which so wise, so beneficent an end had been attained. But he lamented to say that, while in its main end of conveying a first-rate education to a great multitude of peasant children the National system had been a splendid success, in its secondary aim, of bringing up the Protestant and Roman Catholic children in harmony under the same roof, it had been an utter failure. There were scarcely any schools out of the 5,245 under the Board in which the children were combined for secular and separated for religious education. Many National Schools were exclusively Protestant, great numbers were exclusively Roman Catholic, but scarcely any in which the members of the two religions were combined for education. There lay the whole gist of the question. The pledge that no religious teaching was to be given to any child whose parents objected to it could be of no conceivable use, unless it effected that union of Protestant and Roman Catholic children. If it did not do that, it did nothing. It was then simply rubbish, and a mere dead weight on the system. If it did that it was invaluable. If the hon. Gentleman who were opposed to him, could get up and prove from the Reports of the Board that this pledge did what it was meant to do, that trusting in it the Protestant and Roman Catholic parents sent their children to the same National Schools, that it did produce a combined education, then all that he had said must go for nothing. But if they could prove nothing of the kind—if this pledge, though potent for evil, was impotent for good—if it did not create a combined education of Protestants and Roman Catholics—if its only effect was to keep the clergy aloof and to deprive those 100,000 children of the help of the Board, then he submitted whether it was worth while to keep up a restriction which did but narrow the sphere, enfeeble the force, and impede the flow of the national effort on behalf of the education of the poor. It might be said he was seeking to destroy the National system and to make it sectarian. What he affirmed was, that it was now sectarian; that already there was not a combined education, but a sectarian education in the National Schools. In acknowledging this fact to be a fact—that the attempt at a combined education had been a failure—they would only be acting with good sense, and not twenty National Schools in Ireland would undergo one iota of change were the pledge he had alluded to laid aside. The Board had conceded an exclusive education to the Presbyterian Schools, and to the Convent Schools, and the ordinary National Schools were exclusively Roman Catholic. Why were they to refuse aid to those whose only demand was that they might admit the word of God into their schools? It was objected that, were this restriction removed, the priests would become paramount over the Roman Catholic children in their schools. Every one familar with the subject knew that already the priest's sway over the Roman Catholic children was entirely unchecked. Remove that restriction, and he would have no more real authority that he had now, and he already had as much as he pleased. It seemed to him, then, that by cutting off that mischievous feature of the system the House would render it really national, remove bitter and chronic discontent, improve the education of 100,000 children, and not in the smallest degree destroy or damage the system, but rather enlarge its influence and extend its great benefits through a much wider sphere.


If the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down had concluded with a substantive proposition, I would have been prepared to give him my decided opposition. As he has not done so, it may be more for the convenience of the Committee that the notice which I have given, and the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, should be discussed together, instead of having two Motions and a double discussion. It is my intention to charge the National Board with certain defects in its administration, defects so marked and so full of danger, that they afford an additional reason why there should be no further relaxation of their rules, and why such relaxation as the hon. Gentleman and his English friends demand ought not to be granted. However, before I proceed to show that the evils of which I complain exist, it is only right that I should guard myself from the possibility of being misunderstood or misrepresented, by stating what my feelings are with respect to the system of National Education in Ireland. I have ever been an advocate and supporter of that system, and I am at this moment, as I ever was, one of its sincere friends. With the hon. Member for Newport, I believe it has conferred priceless blessings on the people of Ireland, by the education which it has imparted to vast masses of the children of the poorest class. But, Sir, it is because I consider the system as having been a priceless blessing to the people of my country, that I conceive it to be my duty to call attention to serious defects in the administration of the Board which fill me with alarm, and are fraught with danger to the future. I regret to say, that a spirit of discontent is growing up in Ireland, arising from a sense of alarm caused by late proceedings of the Board, and the existence of a policy which, if not attended to and checked in time by a return to a more wholesome policy, will certainly lead to the worst consequences to the success of the system. The fact is, the Board appear to be gradually departing from the principle on which the whole system was originally based. What was that principle? The principle on which the National system was based was that of combined literary and separate religious instruction. This was the system which was announced by Parliament in its memorable Resolutions of 1828; this was the system which was proclaimed by Lord Stanley in his celebrated letter of October, 1831; and this is the system which was practically carried out, to the satisfaction of the Irish people, for sixteen years after. Now, the great object of this separate religious teaching was this, to afford to the Catholics of Ireland an unpoisoned education. This was the benevolent intention of the authors of the system, and this was the boon which men of all parties and of every shade of opinion united in conferring on that country. The desire was to prevent the possibility of proselytism, that which was the canker at the heart of the Kildare Place system, and of every other educational system which had been previously established. What was the plan adopted in order to enforce this salutary principle of separate religious teaching? At first it was resolved that no religious teaching could be given on the same day that literary teaching was given, and even different days were adopted for different religious instruction. But eventually, while religious and literary instruction were allowed to be given on the same day, this salutary rule was strictly enforced—that no child should be suffered to attend at the teaching of a religion different from that to which the child's parents belonged. So strictly was this rule, this wholesome and protecting rule, interpreted, that the teacher, manager, or patron was obliged to exclude children of different denominations, while religious teaching other than that allowed by their Church was being given. To show the meaning attached to the rule on this important point, I would quote a passage from the evidence of Mr. M'Creedy, for many years Head Inspector under the Board, who was examined in 1854 before a Committee of the House of Lords that sat for the purpose of inquiring into the operation of the system. He is asked:— 3326. "What was the practical construction of the rule; was it left practically to the teacher to put the children out, or was it left to the parental authority to enforce itself? My opinion is, that for a long period it was understood, that the obligation lay upon the patron and upon the teacher of the school to put out the children. This rule was acted on for a period of sixteen years, to the year 1847, when unfortunately it was altogether changed. Acting under the strong pressure of Protestant remonstrance, the stringent rule which prevented the attendance of a Catholic child at Protestant instruction, or of a Protestant child at Catholic instruction, this miserable substitute was adopted—that when religious instruction was about to be given, a card should be turned upon the wall, that the master should announce "religious instruction," and that all children who were of a different religion to that about to be taught should be allowed to go away, or should not be compelled to remain. Now, what a difference between the two rules! The one rendered it com- pulsory on the master to remove from, or not to allow in the school, children of a different faith from that taught; whereas the other merely went to this length, that their attendance at teaching contrary to the faith which they and their parents professed, should not be compulsory. The former rule was a charter of protection for the faith of every child in the land—the other is a miserable mockery, opening the door to all kinds of influences, insidious or otherwise. It was on the condition embodied in the spirit of the former rule that the Irish Catholics accepted the system of National Education as a boon and a blessing; and it is on the principle of protection and non-interference that they will consent to retain it. From 1847 to 1855—that is after public attention was called to the existence and operation of the new rule—a plan was adopted to the following effect:—In case the master of a school gave religious instruction—which, by the way, under the system, intended in 1828, he was not authorized to give—he was obliged to serve a document of this kind on the parent of a child-So-and-So "is informed, in compliance with the instruction in rule 16, Section IV., Part 1, of the Rules and Regulations of the Commissioners of National Education, that—attended the religious instruction given by me on—the—day of—185—,at the time set apart for religious instruction in the above school, this being—first attendance, &c., &c." Imagine the effect of such a document as this served on a poor ignorant peasant, perhaps the tenant or dependant of a landlord or employer of strong proselytizing tendencies, and then say what kind of protection this notice affords to him and his child? But, miserable as is this mockery of protection, it is only to be given in case the master himself gives religious instruction; but no such notice need be served where religious teaching is given by any other person—for instance, an officious clergyman of another persuasion, or a zealous patron of anti-Catholic feeling. Then, should such a notice be served on the parent, and the child not removed, or should the child return on another day, his attendance is to be regarded as having the sanction of his parents, and any description of religious teaching may be given in his presence. Well, Sir, miserable as this protection was, it excited the apprehensions of those whose object was to carry their own aggressive views, and to turn this great system to their own purposes; and therefore pressure was again brought on the Board in Dublin, and with this result—that the rule of serving this notice on the parents and guardians was to have only a prospective operation, and was not to refer to children already in the schools of the Board. Thus the Catholic children in the Protestant and Presbyterian schools of Ulster were not to be included; and the fact is given in evidence that in these schools, somewhere about 1,000 in number, there are no less than over 30,000 Catholic children—of whom thousands were then and are at this moment receiving Protestant and Presbyterian instruction. What I principally desire is to see the wholesome rule which existed to 1847 restored to its former stringency, whereby protection may be given to the faith of all—for that which I demand for the Catholic child I would insist upon for the child of the Protestant or the Presbyterian. Now, Sir, to show that the apprehensions of Catholics are not without good cause, I shall give a single case in point. I say that grave and serious fears are entertained in consequence of the facilities to proselytism afforded by the present relaxed rule; and I now proceed to adduce an instance of what has been going on in one of the most Catholic provinces in Ireland, in order that the Committee may be able to judge of the insidious attempts which are made to undermine the faith of the Catholics of that country. I also rely on the case I am about to state in order to prove what I assert, that the Board did not perform its duty with that alacrity and energy which its special character demanded. Mr. Kavanagh visited the schools of Ballindine, in the County Mayo, in May, 1857, and reported to the Board on the condition in which he found them at the time of visit. I may, before going further, incidentally refer to Mr. Kavanagh as a gentleman who was reduced by the Board from the rank of Head to District Inspector, more, I believe, because he discharged his duties too zealously than for any other reason. However, I shall not allude to his case at present, inasmuch as, though certain exparte papers have been laid on the table of this House—papers which had been hurriedly printed in Dublin, brought over here by the Secretary of the Board, and granted, and reprinted on the Motion of a right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herbert)—both sides of the case are not yet given; and until they are both given, it would be unfair to Mr. Kavanagh to have it brought before the House. Well, Sir, Mr. Kavanagh made a Report of these schools on the 16th of May, drawing the attention of the Board to a flagrant violation, not to say of its rules, but of the essential spirit of the system which it had to administer. The schools were three in number—a school for boys, a school for girls, and an industrial school attended as well by girls as by grown women. These schools were under the patronage of the Hon. Godfrey Browne and his sister, who, while in the country, was its active patroness and superintendent. That lady was the Hon. Mrs. Ridley, stated to be the wife of a colonel in the Guards. The school may, no doubt, have been established by Mrs. Ridley with the best and most benevolent intentions—namely, to provide employment for a number of young people, to whom the assistance which it afforded was most welcome. Mr. Kavanagh reported that Mrs. Ridley was accustomed to read to the industrial class, regularly twice in the week, if not more often, certain works; amongst others one entitled, Scripture Instruction for the Least and the Lowest, which contains passages of the most offensive and outrageous character to the feelings of Catholics that could possibly be imagined. Mr. Kavanagh reported this as "an openly anti-Catholic work." What did the Board do thereupon? Instead of taking immediate steps where so grave a charge was reported by one of their officers, they did not stir for a period of two months; and then, haying communicated to the Hon. Mr. Browne, and received his answer, in which he first denies the fact, and then charges Mr. Kavanagh with the manner in which he performed his duty, the Board ride off on a mere collateral issue, and content themselves with demanding an explanation from Mr. Kavanagh with reference to this trifling charge—whether or not he desired the teacher not to tell of his visit, or some other alleged irregularity of the kind. After two months of utter inactivity, they occupied two more in letter-writing, and then they rested for two months more; and it was not until Mr. Kavanagh wrote a strong letter on the 23rd of November, more than six months after his first Report, that anything was done in so grave a case. In this letter Mr. Kavanagh repeated his charges, and gave several extracts from the volumes, which he also sent to the Board. I shall quote one or two passages from the work in question, and the House can judge whether it is, or is not, of a sectarian or offen- sive character. But I may state that, when the Board at length took active steps in the matter, and sent down one of their Head Inspectors, Dr. Newell, to examine and report upon this school, he reported that Mrs. Ridley had continued to read this work on Thursdays and Fridays up to the time of his visit. Let the House now judge for itself whether a book, whose character may be understood by an extract or two, was a fit book to be read to Catholics:— Some in our own country have, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, been cast into the fire because they would not be idolaters. There was a time in England when people were required to worship a piece of bread, which the Popish priest told them was changed into the body of Jesus Christ! There were many holy men who could not believe this wicked and foolish lie, and they had courage and strength given to them by God to refuse to obey. And what was done to them? They were carried away and bound to a stake, and then their enemies set fire to the wood, and the martyrs perished in the flames. I ask, was this fit teaching for Catholic children and women? Take one other passage, in order to judge of this volume —a passage in which the Blessed Mother of God is thus alluded to:— Was there anything in Mary which made God honour her so much? Was she different from other women—less sinful than they, and more worthy to be the mother of Jesus? No; Mary was like every one of us, poor weak sinners," &c., &c. Now, Sir, I say this is not Protestant doctrine; but, whether it be or not, it is the grossest outrage upon Catholic belief. Do not Protestants, as well as Catholics, hold that the Virgin Mother of God was "full of grace," that she was "blessed among women," and that "blessed was the fruit of her womb?" And did she who is now described as a "poor weak sinner"—did she not exclaim, when filled with the Holy Ghost, "From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." I cannot conceive any teaching more calculated to undermine and break down Catholic faith than this. To thousands and thousands of females in Ireland—the youthful virgin and the modest matron—the Blessed Mother of God is an ever-present example of purity and holiness, whom they imitate from afar; but in this abominable teaching she is reviled and degraded. It has been said that no proselytes were made, although this system had been adopted for years. But that is no answer whatever. For my part, I say to those who attempt to change the faith of the Catholic poor, I would far prefer to see them made good Protestants than bad Catholics. Make Protestants if you please, but do not make infidels or hypocrites. Now such teaching as this undermines the strength of that faith which is the comfort and support of the female mind and heart. When the report was first made by Mr. Kavanagh, the Commissioners ought to have adopted prompt measures to put an end to such a gross violation of the essential spirit of the system, and prevented the teaching of such poisonous and infamous doctrines to Catholic women and children; but they allowed seven months to elapse before anything practical was done—and for this I charge the Board with lathes of the worst character. I could adduce numberless other instances in which attempts have been made to read Protestant books to Catholic children; but I think I may be satisfied with the illustration which I have given, especially as there is no controversy as to such a book having been read, and as the case is officially before the House. That such cases have excited the gravest suspicion in the minds of Catholics is not unnatural; and, Sir, I regret to say, the constitution of the Board, as well as the character of the whole administration, is not calculated to inspire any particular confidence. How is this National Board constituted? But first, what is the number and proportion of children attending its schools? If I mistake not, the number on the roll at present is something like 620,000. Of this vast number 540,000 are Catholic, while but 80,000 are Protestant and Presbyterian. So that the system may be almost said to be Catholic. At any rate, the Protestants and Presbyterians form less than one-seventh, while the Catholics constitute over six-sevenths of the whole. The teachers are as four Catholics to one of all other denominations, and the patrons are about three to one of all others. How is the Board constituted? There are fifteen Commissioners in all; and yet although the Catholic pupils form six-sevenths of the whole, there are but six Catholic Commissioners at the Board. Now let me say who these Catholic Commissionors are, in order that we may judge of the influence which they are likely to exert in preventing that retrograde course in which the Board appears to be resolved. The first is Lord Bellew, who never attends; the second is Sir Thomas Redington, who rarely attends, and who while holding the Secretaryship of the Board of Control, and living in London, was a Commissioner; Dr. Meyler, a Catholic clergyman, of venerable age, and certainly not calculated to be either an active business man or a punctual attendant. Then there is Master Murphy, who, I believe, joined the Board with great reluctance, and who, from the important character of his duties, as Master in Chancery, cannot give his attention to the duties of Commissioner. Next there is Mr. Thomas O'Hagan, a barrister of great eminence and lucrative business, and who besides, as Chairman of Kilmainham, has to hold six sessions in the year—who, in fact, cannot attend the Board, save on rare occasions. Lastly, there is Mr. O'Farrell, who certainly does attend. On the other hand, there are, besides the Resident Commissioner, who is always on the spot, eight other Protestant or Presbyterian Commissioners. The working members of this body are not only Protestant, but natives of Ulster; and I assert that not only is the administration becoming every year more Protestant, but that it is also becoming more Ulster in its character. The fact is, the entire administration has fallen into the hands of Mr. Macdonald, the resident Commissioner, a gentleman, as I understand, eminently fitted for his duties, a gentleman of the most cultivated mind and scholarly attainments. But the fact is, that the working of the whole system is practically in the hands of this Protestant Commissioner and the Senior Secretary, Mr. Cross, a Protestant. And the three best attenders of the Board are there Belfast gentlemen,—Mr. Gibson, a Presbyterian; Dr. Andrews, a Unitarian; and the Rev. Dr. Henry, a Presbyterian. Surely, in such a constitution there is no sufficient protection for Catholic interests —for the interests of six-sevenths of the entire pupils; and in order to counteract this overpowering Protestant influence, there should be a certain number, one or more, of Catholic Commissioners paid for their regular attendance. Now, not only is the Board Protestant, but all the heads of departments are Protestant. The head of the Inspection Department, which may be termed the controlling department of the whole institution, is an Ulster Presbyterian. Up to 1855 this department was directed by a Catholic; since then it has been given to a Presbyterian, under the protest of the Catholic Commissioners. The Training Department, up to 1855, was under two Professors—one Catholic and the other Protestant; but it is now entirely in the hands of Dr. Sullivan. And who is Dr. Sullivan? This gentleman is the writer of a dictionary, in which he kindly allows Catholics to have two sacraments out of seven—the five others he defines as "rites"—and in which he treats Purgatory, in which Catholics believe, as a respectable myth. Now, considering we refer to our dictionaries, to our Johnson, our Walker, or our Webster, for definitions, we can understand the benefit to a Catholic child in consulting the Protestant dictionary of Dr. Sullivan on matters relating to his faith. The Agricultural Department is under a Northern Protestant. And of seventy inspectors of all classes, thirty-six are Protestant, and but thirtyfour Catholic. Take the very latest fact, as a further proof of the manifest favouritism in the dispensation of patronage. In 1856 a class of officers called "organizers," were first appointed—fifteen in number; and out of that fifteen, while but six were taken from the three Southern Provinces, nine were given to Ulster. The unfairness of this distribution will be more apparent when it is understood that this office has been intended as a reward for the deserving teachers throughout the country. No doubt the men of the North were capital hands at a job, but certainly they have no claims of any kind, save their place of birth, which the Southerns have not. And for the teachers of Munster, I can assert that they equal the teachers of the North in mental faculty as well as in literary and scientific attainments. From such facts as I have given, it can be easily understood how jealousy and discontent are growing up in the public mind, and that suspicion is daily on the increase. A short time since the sum of £3,000 was raised in a day or two in the City of Kilkenny, for the purpose of establishing schools under the Christian Brothers, and getting rid of the National system. Were it necessary, I could give other striking indications of the want of confidence felt in the administration of the Board, the result of its reactionary tendency. But, Sir, I have one word to say of a body of men who are the rank and file in the army of education-those who are the hardest-worked and worst-paid class in the country—the teachers of the schools under the National Board. The average pay of these men is something about £23 a year, and this includes school fees, salary, and everything. This would give them a weekly payment of less than 9s.— which, considering the duties they have to discharge, and the great importance of their office, is shamefully inadequate. If necessary let the well-paid Secretary, or the well-paid Commissioner be cut down £500 each, and let there be other retrenchments if necessary; but at any rate, let these men, who are the sturdy pioneers of civilization, have a fair reward for their labour. I really do not wish to diminish the salary of the high officials by a single shilling, but I do make an appeal on behalf of a class of men who are entitled to the utmost consideration at the hands of the Government; and though nothing can be done at once for them, I trust the Commissioners will take the subject into their best consideration. Now, Sir, a word more in reference to the policy of the Board, and I have done. They have had full information of the growing feeling of the country with respect to it; for no further back than 1856 the five Head Inspectors respectfully remonstrated with the Board upon that policy; but how were they treated? Why, those autocrats of Dublin Castle, snubbed their officers, termed their conduct contumelious and insubordinate, and threatened them, in case they repeated the offence, to dismiss them. I charge the Board with attempting to deceive Parliament and the country, by withholding intelligence from both on a matter of the greatest importance. Mr. Keenan, Head-Inspector of Ulster, made this Report for 1855, in 1856; and in that Report he stated that thousands of Catholic children were receiving Protestant instruction in the schools of Ulster. He also complained that the rule to which I alluded, in reference to the notice served on the parent, was given a prospective effect only. But the Board omitted that important paragraph, and presented a fraudulent Report to Parliament. No doubt it was a piece of good policy; for had the Catholic bishops and clergy of Ireland known that thousands of their children were receiving Protestant instruction in schools under the Board, their alarm and indignation would have been at once excited. I may add that Mr. Keenan, is not likely to repeat his offence; for he is now appointed to a Catholic district, while his place is filled by a Presbyterian. I, Sir, am not an enemy to the system of National Education—I am only an enemy of the abuses of that system. And I earnestly trust that this House will guard itself against opening the door more widely to proselytism; and I trust that the Irish Government will, before next year, consider the necessity of making some fair concession to the alarmed feelings of the Catholics of Ireland, and grant them, by an improved constitution of the Board of National Education, security against the violation of the principles of Lord Stanley's letter and the Resolutions of this House.


said, he found it impossible to approve of the taste which had led the hon. Gentleman, who had just addressed the Committee, to introduce a discussion on the character of the "Blessed Virgin." He felt that he had a right further to complain in the strongest manner of the language of the hon. Gentleman in characterising Protestant doctrines as "poisonous." But he would not enter into these controversial topics, and he rose principally for the purpose of noticing the new specimen of gallantry, rather unusual in the countrymen of the hon. Member when speaking of the fair sex. He referred to the allusion made by the hon. Gentleman to a lady whom he had thought proper to attack by name. That was the first time he (Lord Lovaine) had ever known such a course to be pursued in that House. It so happened that he had some slight acquaintance with the lady in question, and from all that he knew of her he felt convinced that she was utterly incapable of doing anything to outrage the feelings of Roman Catholics, or of the followers of any other religion.


explained, that when he used the word "poisonous" he only applied it to the teaching given to the Catholic children, and he did not think that he had shown any disrespect to the lady in referring to what had appeared in a public document.


said, he had listened to the course the discussion had taken with a great deal of regret, as he did not think it at all calculated to serve any useful purpose. If there existed any objection to the present system, or any desire to alter it, let the subject be brought distinctly before the House in the shape of a Motion; but it was certainly inconvenient to be called on to discuss, in an incidental manner, the whole question of the National School system in Ireland. He had heard this discussion with regret, because he thought it calculated to prevent the continuance of a system which he believed had been productive of great benefit to Ireland. He confessed that he entertained considerable fears lest the continuance of the National system of education in Ire- land should not be of long duration; and as it had been attacked on both sides, he trusted the House would allow him to make a few observations on the subject, in which he would carefully abstain from any subjects of polemical controversy. The hon. Gentleman who introduced the discussion said due regard was not paid to the conscientious scruples of the Protestant clergy in Ireland. Now, he hardly need say that for the clergy he entertained the greatest respect, and no one would go further than he did in respecting their conscientious scruples. The proposition was, not that in Protestant schools Protestant children should be taught by Protestant clergymen—no one objected to that—but the objection was, that in the schools of the Church Education Society, which were mixed schools, and which were instituted for the purpose of inducing Roman Catholic children to attend them, Roman Catholic children should be instructed in the tenets of the Protestant religion. They were proselytising schools. He did not mean by that that any unfair means were used, quite the contrary; but believing, as they had a right to do, that theirs was a purer faith, they endeavoured to propagate it, by inducing Roman Catholic children to attend their schools, and they made it an essential principle of their education that the children should be compelled to be present at the reading of the Scriptures. The number of Roman Catholic children attending these schools, in 1848, was 46,367; in 1852 they had fallen off to 32,000. There were no subsequent returns; but he believed he was correct in stating that the number of Roman Catholic children now attending these schools was not more than 15,000. An attempt was made when the Derby Government came into office in 1852, to reconcile the National system and the system of the Church Education Society, and the Earl of Derby's Government, to do them justice, were anxious to do so. The Earl of Eglinton, when he first went to Ireland, was an opponent of the National system; but on the Motion of Lord Clancarty he declared that, after considering the subject, he found it absolutely impossible to reconcile the two systems, and accordingly the Earl of Derby's Government, in 1852, never endeavoured to bring about a reconciliation. And it was quite obvious that such reconciliation could not take place, as the principle of the National system was to respect parental rights, while the system of the Church Education Society was compulsory instruction in Protestant doctrines. And let him tell the hon. Gentleman that the relaxation which he wished to obtain could not stop where he would desire it. If they relaxed on one side they must relax on the other. ["Hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen cheered, but had they asked themselves the consequences? If the Church Education Society was to have the benefit of the National funds, how could they object to Roman Catholic schools having them also? Could they refuse the demands of the other societies which would spring up and ask for relaxation in their favour to the destruction of the whole system. For instance, under the Christian Brothers there were 16,000 children receiving education of a character which no State system could hope to surpass, and he contended that if they extended to the Church Education Society, or any other system, the assistance of the State, they could not refuse a like assistance to the Christian Brothers. By so doing, a system of separate education would at once be established; and what must be the consequence? Remember that now—and he hoped for a long time to come—the great bulk in Ireland of those who required the aid of the State in education were Roman Catholics. Of course there would be a respectable minority of Protestant and Presbyterian children also receiving assistance from the State; but in the case of the Roman Catholic children, to whom were they to entrust the funds for their education? Were they to entrust them to Roman Catholic prelates, or to a Board of Roman Catholic prelates containing an admixture of Roman Catholic laymen? He had no objection, for his own part, to either course; but he apprehended that were such a course pursued they would have Motions in that House and discussions arising out of them neither pleasant nor useful, complaining of the application of funds given by the State to the propagation of Roman Catholic doctrines. If statesmen on both sides of the House were agreed in favour of a separate system, let them adopt it; but let them also follow out the consequences of such a step to their legitimate results. Unless he could see a prospect of some better system being substituted for the National system, which, with all its defects, was of great service, he was not prepared to part with it. When the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) complained, on the one hand, that the Board of National Education was too unfavourable to Roman Catholics, and when the Board was attacked, on the other hand, as being too unfavourable to Protestants, he thought that those opposite accusations afforded some evidence that the Board had pursued a medium course. He had not heard sufficient reasons to induce him to join with the hon. Member for Dungarvan. The name of a lady who was charged with having endeavoured to proselytize Roman Catholic children had been mentioned; but it appeared from the evidence of the inspector, given in the appendix, that she had never read to the children any books of the slightest sectarian tendency, and she had been acquitted by the Roman Catholic priests themselves of any attempt at proselytism. Surely a Board which had worked well for twenty or thirty years ought not to be abolished because its members had not corrected as promptly as they might have done some errors which had been brought to their notice. He admitted that there were defects in the constitution of the Board, and he thought that as some of the Roman Catholic Commissioners did not attend the meetings they ought to be replaced by others who would discharge the duties of the office. The hon. Member for Dungarvan had charged his Friend the right hon. Alexander Macdonald, the resident Commissioner, with having presented a fraudulent Report to that House. [Mr. MAGUIRE: No! the Board.] The hon. Member certainly charged Mr. Macdonald with having erased from a document presented to that House a passage which it had originally contained. That was a most serious charge, and ought to be substantiated. He did not know any one to whom the Roman Catholics of Ireland were under greater obligations than Mr. Macdonald, and he thought it was most unjust that the Roman Catholic body should now turn round upon him and say that no confidence could be reposed in him because he was a Protestant. [Mr. MAGUIRE: I did not say so.] He (Mr. Serjeant Deasy) had known Mr. Macdonald long and intimately, and he believed he had administered the system justly and impartially, with an anxious desire to promote education fairly and liberally, and without the slightest wish to trespass upon the just rights of conscience of his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen.


said, he was much gratified with the tone of the speech of the hon. and learned Member who had just addressed the Committee. For his own part he did not rise to attack the Board, but to confirm the statement made by the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Buxton) who, he thought, must have fully satisfied the Committee that there was something wrong in the constitution, system, and working of the National Board which required the consideration of the Government. His desire was that the expenditure of the funds at the disposal of the National Board should be so far liberalized that schools in which the Bible was taught should derive the same benefit from the grant as those from which the Bible was excluded, and that the National system of education in Ireland should be in some measure assimilated to the National system of England. He had no wish to detain the Committee at any length on the question, but would only briefly refer to what had taken place on the question of education in Ireland. The first Society supported by public grants was the Kildare Street Society, to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had referred in strong, if not in harsh terms. The rule of that Society was that every child should read the Bible at school without note or comment, and that no system connected with any church teaching should be introduced into the schools. The hon. and learned Gentleman had described that system as poisonous. That Society increased fast, and had, at one time, 1,600 schools, attended by 136,000 children, half of whom were Roman Catholics. He desired to abstain from any observations calculated to give offence. It was sufficient to say that that system—which he believed was the best—was given up, and was succeeded by two great systems—the National system and the Church Education system. By the original constitution of the National Board, although the Scriptures were only read in the schools at certain times, of which due notice was given, Scripture lessons were a necessary part of the instruction, but by degrees the system was altogether changed, the Scripture lessons were given up, and many men, who had formerly presided at the Board, separated from it. By this change those who desired to see the Bible read in the schools were disappointed. The Church Education Society was at the same time established. It raised by voluntary contributions an income of 40,000 a year; it had 1,700 schools, and educated 80,000 chil- dren, of whom, as correctly stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman, only 15,000 were Roman Catholics. That, however, must be considered a large number when the impediments thrown in the way of Roman Catholic children attending these schools were taken into account. He had high authority for saying that after all a greater amount of secular education was given under these schools than under any other system of education in Ireland. So far they had a fair claim for some portion of the National grant. Two objections were raised to this proposal. It was said that it was a mere means of indulging the contumacy and obduracy of the Irish clergy; but surely these were hard terms to apply to a body of men who had made such sacrifices and stood in a position so peculiar on this question. By his ordination vows a clegyman was bound to teach the Holy Scriptures to the children committed to his charge; yet if he asked the Board to help his school, the question put was, "Do you teach the Scriptures?" answered by "Yes, my ordination vows oblige me to do so;" whereupon this reply would be given, "Then you shall have no assistance." That appeared to him (Mr. Lefroy) to be a hardship which the clergy of Ireland ought not to be called upon to undergo, for it was one which no English clergyman would submit to. He was not an advocate for proselytizing. All he asked for was that the National Board should, without asking any questions as to the teaching of the Bible, allow a portion of the grant to those schools in which the Bible was read. The second objection to such a proposal was that it would interfere with a system which was working well, and giving general satisfaction. For his part he could not agree with those who said that the present National system worked well. One objection to it had been stated by the titular Bishop of Cashel in the reference which he had made to the number of reports addressed to the Board which they had not allowed to see the light. The titular Bishop of Cashel must answer for the correctness of the following allegation:— The value of the testimony of their inspectors—Arians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Protestants, and many nominal Catholics—on a matter of the kind may be understood from the fact that so offensive to the managers of schools, so absurd in sycophancy, so puritanical and canting, and so anti-Catholic are numbers of the reports of the fifty inspectors, that, although printed for the past year, and intended for publication, the Board dare not allow them to see the light; and, awaiting the hope of a resurrection through some curious Irish Member of Parliament, they are imprisoned in the official limbo of Marlborough-street, many of them a disgrace to their authors and the system. In reference to this system the Irish Quarterly Review stated:— The National system was a great boon to Ireland when first introduced, but the country has grown in intellect and in a thirst for knowledge since that period; but that which might be a blessing, through went of expansion, is becoming a curse. He had on a former occasion alluded to the testimony of a Scotch clergyman who had examined into the working of the system, and who had pronounced it a failure. The objections to it were that it excluded a great many Protestants from the Board and not less than 100,000 children from the benefits of the schools. An allusion had been made by the hon. Member to the state of the Church schools in some parts of Ireland. If they were not what they ought to be, it was owing to their not receiving that share of the public grant for education to which they were entitled. A few days ago one of these schools had been examined by the Lord Lieutenant, and his Excellency had expressed himself highly gratified with the proficiency of the scholars. He thought the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Buxton) was fully justified in bringing the question under their consideration. The importance of religious education for the young had been admitted by some of the most eminent men of this country. Lord Brougham, in the House of Commons, thirty-eight years ago, said:— A religious education is most essential to the welfare of every individual: to the rich it is all but everything; to the poor, it may be said, without a figure, to be everything. It is to them that the Christian religion is especially preached; it is their special patrimony; and if the Legislature does not secure for them a religious education it does not, in my opinion, half execute its duty to its fellow-creatures. He wished to allow Roman Catholics the utmost liberty in the teaching of their religion, but he claimed the same liberty for Protestants, and was anxious to guard against carrying this system to an extent that would lead, not to National union, but to National infidelity. At the fifty-third annual meeting of the British and Foreign School Society, Lord John Russell, as chairman, said:— This Society has been established more than half a century, and has seen no reason to alter or to modify its original basis. On the contrary, I think, flux of time has only confirmed those who are carrying on the business of the society and those who contribute to it in the belief that the original basis was the sound one and the best calculated for the education of the people of this country. When I say the 'original basis,' I may use the words employed in one of the resolutions which will be moved, 'the Scriptural and comprehensive basis of the society.' If we had not taught the Scriptures we should have thought we were falling short of what was necessary; if we had gone beyond the Scriptures, and taught the formularies of any denomination, we should have thought we were going beyond what we ought to have taught. I believe that you will find that this basis having been thus acted upon, there is no need that we should reconsider or make any change in it whatever. He was not one that would seek to proselytize or to give offence to his Roman Catholic brethren. On the contrary he wished the Roman Catholics to have the fullest opportunities for carrying out their own system of education. He did not desire to put an end to the National system of education which he thought had worked well for those who had confidence in it. He could not understand why the Roman Catholic and the Protestant inspectors should not reciprocally assist each other. Let the Government put their pen across everything that excluded religion from the system of education. Let those, too, who differed from them have their secular schools as they desired. But above all things, let those who thought that the Bible ought to be the foundation of every system of education have full opportunities to carry out their views, and let it not be said that on account of their attachment to the Bible they ought to be discouraged.


was once connected with Ireland by official ties, and he should always be connected with it by the tie of friendship and affection. He thought, therefore, he could not better show his good will than by striving to maintain inviolate the system of National education —which in his conscience he believed to have conferred the most inestimable blessings upon the country. He regarded it as being of the greatest advantage to Ireland, and some atonement for the injury which had been inflicted upon her. In the darkest times of Ireland's history it was the ray of hope to which her wisest and best patriots looked with confidence; and he was sure that if she was wise she would cling to it with the utmost pertinacity as the best security for her future progress. There were at the present moment no less than 600,000 children enjoying the advantages of that system which, in his opinion, was as sound and good en one as that under the operation of which the poorer classes in this country were educated. In speaking of it thus, his observations must be regarded as applying to it not only as a scheme of secular but of religious education, and he confessed he was not a little surprised to hear it said by the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House, that there was some danger of its tending to introduce principles of infidelity into Ireland. For his own part, he entertained no such apprehension. Infidelity was a weed which could not grow upon Irish soil. Some hon. Members had said that they cared not, provided their object was attained, whether it was on the separate system, or on the present mixed system. He confessed that he cared very much. It was not a matter of indifference to him. They could not halt between the two systems; they must either maintain the present system in all its essential parts, or they must resort to the English system, which was a separate one. They had this inestimable advantage; in every parish in Ireland they had now a school open to all, taught by well-trained instructors, who dared not to introduce any sectarian elements in the course of their tuition. On the other hand, if two sets of schools were established throughout Ireland, Roman Catholics would be opposed to Protestants, and the result would be that the schools would be used as a means of proselytism. Those who argued from England as to the way in which the system would work argued from incorrect premises. He looked forward with interest to the statement of the Government; and he trusted that they would maintain unimpaired the present system of national education in Ireland. Allusion had been made in the course of the debate to Mr. Macdonald. He (Mr. Labouchere) believed that to this gentleman more than any other man, the country was indebted for the satisfactory working of this system. He regretted that, perhaps inadvertently, the hon. Gentleman had mentioned his name without perhaps the amount of respect it deserved. He hoped the Committee would hear from Her Majesty's Government their views upon this question, and though some doubts had been expressed as to the principle of National education in Ireland as now conducted, the Committee would be true to itself, and true to the cause of Irish education, and would never allow the principle to be called in question.


Sir, allusion having been made to the opinions of the Government upon this question, I have no hesitation in rising to express my views in relation thereto. I must frankly state to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere), and to the Committee, that if I entertained the slightest doubt in my own mind as to the application of this Vote, for which the Government has asked in order to support the National system of education in Ireland, I should have immediately risen after the Vote had been proposed, and have stated my opinions. You may depend upon it, when the Government propose a Vote for a special object they intend to act upon it in the sense in which the Vote is actually proposed to the House. I have, Sir, no hesitation whatever in stating, whatever opinions I may have expressed on this subject before, and I am saga that the right hon. Gentleman will do me the justice of saying that I am acting consistently with those opinions which I have so expressed—I have no hesitation in saying that I would never do anything, so far as I am concerned, to destroy or to disturb the principle of the National system of education in Ireland. Sir, since the appeal has been made to me, I think I should frankly reiterate the opinions which I have always entertained upon this subject—namely, that in carrying into execution and in devolping that system, I always have believed —and, indeed, I hope, that on some day or another I shall see my wish carried into effect—that while giving a portion of your grant raised by the public taxation of the country to the National Schools in Ireland, from one end of the island to the other, you shall not, or should not, while consistently maintaining that system, exclude any portion of the people from a participation in it. When I had the honour of bringing forward a proposition on this subject, while sitting on the opposite benches, I beg to remind the Committee that that proposition was couched in language very identical with the language used to-night by the learned Serjeant. When I then moved that such an extension or modification should be made in that system as would extend to vested as well as non-vested schools belonging to the Church, I qualified that proposal with two distinct conditions. The one was that the parental authority should not be interfered with in the teaching of the children. I can assure the Committee, while expressing a hope that a plan may yet be devised by which those who do not at present participate in the grant may for the future be enabled to participate in it, I for one will never be a party to propose any such modification of the system which would in the slightest degree interfere with the rights of conscience or parental influence. Now, having given that assurance, frankly, freely, and honestly, I trust I shall not be blamed if I add to what I have said, my desire is that the operation of the grant should be extended to those who do not at present participate in the advantages of it. I am sure that the House with the liberality it has always displayed, would support me if I should be able to make such a proposition. With reference to the debate of this evening the attacks upon the National system—no, I will not call it an attack—but the observations which have been made against the National system have come from two distinct quarters. Now I cannot but express my opinion that the objections made to it ought rather to have been brought before the House in the shape of distinct propositions, instead of being mixed up with a vote upon a money grant, in reference to which all parties hero seem to agree in opinion as to the propriety of continuing this national system. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) made some remarks as to the management of the Commission in Ireland, which I consider to be well worthy of our attention. If it should be found there is anything in the management of the system as it relates to Dublin, which is open to a reasonable objection, I am sure my noble Friend beside me (Lord Naas) and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland will be ready to receive any suggestions which may be made on the subject in order that any abuses existing in the system may be remedied. With regard to the observations made by the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Buxton), I must say that I concur with him in a great part of what he had said. I will not now prosecute this discussion any further. I have frankly stated my opinions upon the subject, and I hope that the Committee will give me credit for having acted fairly and candidly in respect to it. I will only repeat that nothing will induce me to take any steps which can in the least degree destroy or disturb the National system of education in Ireland. But I hope, consistently with the maintenance of that system, I may be able to carry into execution those opinions which I entertain, such opinions as have been distinctly expressed by Earl Granville, in his place in the House of Lords, namely, to extend the advantages of the grant to those who do not at present participate in it, that in future they may be able to educate their children as well as others educate their children; in fact, that the blessings of education may be extended, without distinction of sect or class, from one end of Ireland to the other; and that this long-vexed and agitated question may be no longer a source of inquietude, but, on the contrary, that it may give the most complete satisfaction to the whole community.


said, that no person was more opposed than he was to the introduction into those schools of anything that might be offensive to the religious feelings of any class of the people of Ireland. He was not aware that the hon. Member for Dungarvan had intended to refer to the Ballindine Industrial Schools, or he should have been prepared to refute all the statements he had made. He could state, however, that the school was founded by a benevolent lady, Mrs. Ridley, during the Irish famine. For this school the amount of the grant she received from the Commissioners was £8 a year. She very much regretted that the book to which allusion had been made was ever made use of in the school; but it was ascertained by a gentleman, who had made the fullest inquiry, on the testimony of the teacher, Miss M'Dermott, that the offensive passages contained in that book had never been read in the school. He would only say, that during the eleven years those schools had been in existence there had been no case of proselytism; and the Roman Catholic priest who had attended those schools had found no fault with their management.


said, he fully concurred with the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, that the present was not the best time to discuss at length this important question. If the question were raised it ought to be upon a distinct Motion, and not upon a vote to which nobody had an objection; and if he was to understand from the observations of the right hon. Gentleman, that although he had an idea that modifications might be beneficially introduced into the system, yet the Government had no intention to make such modifications without first submitting their plans to the consideration of Parliament—[Mr. WALPOLE assented.] Then the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly satisfactory. The hon. Member for Dublin University (Mr. Lefroy) had repeated a statement which had been often contradicted, but which he should contradict again, as it was the point on which most misrepresentation existed, and which gave rise to a number of petitions from persons, the greater portion of whom it was evident, knew nothing about the matter. The hon. Gentleman had asked the Committee whether they meant to continue to sanction a system of education from which it was imperative to exclude the very view of the Scriptures. Now he (Mr. Herbert) found himself somewhat in a dilemma, because from the character of the hon. Gentleman he believed he was utterly incapable of stating that which he did not conceive to be strictly true. But whilst believing that, he was driven to the conclusion that the hon. Gentleman had not studied the question even so much as to have read the rules which regulated the system. For he could show that so far the view of the Scriptures being excluded from the schools under this system, there was nothing to prevent any landowner or proprietor in Ireland from setting up a Scripture school and teaching the Scriptures in that school, and that he was only prevented from compelling the children of parents who objected to it from reading the Scriptures. [Mr. LEFROY: I distinctly stated during school hours.] That was to say, that a person was not allowed to keep children there for the purpose of forcing them in opposition to their parents' wishes to read the Scriptures. If the hon. Gentleman would turn to page 4 of the rules, he would find that opportunities were to be afforded, as thereafter provided, for the children of all National Schools receiving such religious education as their parents or guardians approved of; that the religious instruction must be so arranged that such schools must be open to the children of all communions; that due regard should be had to parental rights and authority; and that accordingly no child should be compelled to receive or to be present at any religious instruction of which his parents or guardians disapproved; and that the time of giving it should be so fixed that no child should be excluded from the other educational advantages which the schools afforded. Then came the regulation which had been so much complained of—that a public notification of the times for religious instruction should be inserted in large letters in the time-table supplied by the Commissioners who recommended that as far as might be practicable the general nature of such religious instruction should be stated therein. And rule No. 10 provided for the reading of the Scriptures, either in the authorized or Douay version, the teaching of the catechism, and public prayer and religious education; and that the parents or guardians of the children might require that they should receive such instruction in the schools. The hon. Gentleman also had quoted some authority to show the system was a failure; the best proof to the contrary was, that 600,000 children were now attending, and he could speak from his own knowledge of the vast benefit they had conferred, and the improvement they had produced in the people. He was willing to confess that he (Mr. Herbert) remembered the time when he himself looked upon the system with suspicion, being ignorant of the intentions of those who had established it: but the more he had seen of it, the more he was convinced that it would be most dangerous for a single stone in the edifice to be touched; and he warned right hon. Gentlemen opposite how they ventured to propose modifications, however plausible at first sight they appeared to be, for the consequences might be such as were least contemplated by those who were loudest in calling for a change.


said, as a Roman Catholic, he would make a few observations. He regarded the present system as one of the most important advancements made in that country, and he could not hear that there was a disposition to remove or modify that system without raising his humble voice against it. He must therefore protest against the statements made by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Lefroy) with regard to the effects of the national system of education. When he recollected what the peasantry of Ireland were formerly, and what they were now, he could not understand how any one could stand up and say that that system had failed. There was nothing to prevent a complete and thorough scriptural education being given in the National Schools. He thought, however, that the reading of the Scriptures ought not to be forced upon those who objected to it. He was in favour of continuing a system of education which did not interfere with religious opinions, leaving the children to receive religious instruction from the clergymen and ministers of the persuasion to which they belonged. But what hon. Gentlemen opposite desired was, that a scriptural education, according to their own views, should be forced on children whose parents did not wish an education of that kind for them. He Hoped the House would not interfere with a system which had been productive of great good to Ireland.


said, that what his right hon. Friend (Mr. Herbert) had stated was quite correct; that no change should be made in the present system without its being fully and fairly discussed in Parliament, but he could not admit that he had fairly represented the objections of the Protestant clergy to the national system. With regard to the objections which were put forward by the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland, he would take the case of his own parish. If any one entered the school attached to the parish church of Enniskillen, he would see on the walls of that school a number of short quotations from Scripture, and when the school had assembled in the morning a portion of Scripture was read. Now that was the practice adopted in every Church school in Ireland. That school was attached to the parish church, and it was supplementary to those schools that the National Schools were originally established. What then was the practical effect of the rules to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herbert) had adverted? Take a church school in which there were a hundred children. The doors were thrown open, and every child of every religious denomination in the parish might enter if he pleased, it being well known to the whole parish that a portion of Scripture was read every morning in the school. But suppose the school received assistance from the National Board, and that of the hundred children ninety-nine were Protestant and one a Roman Catholic, that one Roman Catholic child, being so directed, might forbid the reading of the Scripture on the assembling of the school, and so control the entire practice of the school in reference to the ninety-nine Protestant children. That was the practical result—["No, no," from Irish Members.] He said "Yes." That one child, under the operation of the rule, objecting to the reading of a particular book, that book could not be read. What was the evidence given by Mr. Crosse upon this point before the Committee of the House of Lords? He was asked, "were those books (the books which had been approved of by the Archbishop of Dublin) used by the patrons, and were they understood as capable of being used when those patrons put their schools under the Board?" and Mr. Crosse answered, "Yes." He was then asked, "Was it in your opinion just to withdraw these several books at the bidding of the child, contrary to the understanding which had been entered into with the patron?" In reply, he said, "I have no doubt of the fact that a considerable number of the patrons have put their schools, whether vested or non-vested, under the Board, upon the express understanding that the Scripture lessons, sacred poetry, and lessons on the truth of Christianity were to be used in the schools." He further said, "The patrons of such schools might very naturally and justly consider that by the withdrawal of such books, or any one of them, their compact with the Board was broken." His right hon. Friend must not say, therefore, that there was not a fair case to be submitted to Parliament. In his opinion there was a case, and a very fair case, to be submitted to Parliament; and he could assure his right hon. Friend, from his own knowledge, that whilst the Church of the Reformation existed in Ireland the clergy of that Church would claim the right to read in their schools each day a portion of that book which they believed to be the foundation of their religion.


said, he had been guilty of no misrepresentation in saying that the Scriptures were not allowed to be read in schools.


said, that no doubt the statement of the hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Whiteside) was correct—that there were certain religious books as to the use of which in the schools objections had been made, and that those books had been withdrawn. In the secular instruction given in these schools there was a large mixture of religious instruction. And it became a question whether in the books used during the hours of secular instruction there was not a good deal of controversial matter. And when it appeared doubtful whether some of these books did not contain matter offensive to the parents of some of the children, they were withdrawn; but merely for the period devoted to secular instruction. On the other hand, so far from the Scriptures being excluded, his right hon. Friend (Mr. H. Herbert) had been at pains to show that the patrons and Friends of these schools might insist upon the Scriptures being taught in them. It was also true that in the Church Schools a portion of the Scriptures was invariably read. The children might get very good secular instruction in these schools, but when the religious instruction commenced the children bad not the right to go away. This was the whole question raised between the National Board and the Church Education Society. It was, however, too important a question to be discussed in a Committee of Supply. He was glad to hear that the Government would assent to no modifications of the present system which would interfere with the rights of conscience and parental authority. But then, in that case, they would make no concession to the Church Education Society, because they professed to bow to obligations higher than the rights of conscience and parental authority, and they made it a condition that a child who accepted their secular instruction should also accept their religious instruction. The question was whether Parliament would impose a compulsory reading of the Scriptures upon children whose parents objected to it. Some misapprehensions on the subject at issue had been widely circulated and generally credited, but he hoped it would be understood that, so far from an exclusion of the Scriptures being made a condition, great pains had been taken to encourage the patrons of the schools in allowing the Scriptures to be read at reasonable hours, the only limitation being the 15th rule, which declared that patrons, managers, and teachers should not induce children to attend religious instruction contrary to the wishes of their parents. They had been told that the denominational system which existed in England would be preferred in Ireland. But the fact was that while in Ireland, with a population of six millions, there were 600,000 children in the National Schools and 100,000 in those of the Church Education Society, there were only about the same number of children at school in England, which had a population of 20,000,000. That appeared to show that the great experiment which had been tried in Ireland under circumstances of great difficulty had succeeded. It was impossible to have a more general system, and, although the National system of education in Ireland had been opposed by the extremes of both parties, he trusted that the Government would strengthen the hands of the great middle and moderate party, and uphold a system which had drawn upon itself the hostility only of persons of extreme views.


said, he was glad to hear that the House was to be consulted before any change was made in the present system, as he felt convinced that no such change as that proposed by the hon Member for Newport and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Walpole), two years ago, could be introduced with safety to the integrity of the National system. That system had worked extremely well. The question was, not whether the Scriptures were to be used, for it was quite clear the patrons and managers had the right of insisting on their being read during the hours set apart for separate religious instruction, but whether the reading of the Scriptures was to be forced on children against their wishes and the wishes of their parents, the principle being that of neutrality as to religion, and protection to the faith of the minority. The instance had been put of 100 scholars of whom one was a Roman Catholic, but in that instance the school would and ought to be essentially Protestant. No man in Ireland could say that he could not teach his own religion to his children, but the supposed grievance of such of the members of the Established Church in Ireland as were hostile to the National system of education was that they could not compel all the children who attended National Schools to receive Protestant instruction. Could it be supposed that the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland—the followers of John Knox—were less ardent advocates of the Bible than the members of the Established Church? And yet the Presbyterians were not opposed to the National system. Why? Because they were not actuated by the same desire as the members of the Established Church to proselytize Roman Catholic children. A destruction of the National system would be nothing less than a destruction of the means of improving the condition of Ireland; and, reversing the words of the hon. Member for the University of Dublin, he would say that if they interfered with that system in the manner suggested by its enemies they would turn a blessing into a curse.


said, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Fortescue) had failed to answer the argument put by the Attorney General for Ireland. In England the Roman Catholics were in a great minority, and yet they received separate grants for the instruction of their children. Why were the protestants of Ireland to be deprived of a similar advantage? The much-vaunted National system, after a trial of twenty five years, had been condemned by parties on both sides of the House. Protestant members had complained that it deprived Protestants of the advantage to which they were entitled, and the hon. Member for Dungarvan had attacked the National Board quite as severely as any of the opponents of the National system.


said, he observed a very large amount in the Vote for agricultural education in Ireland. That education would no doubt greatly benefit the landlords, and they should be made to pay for it. There were grants for fifty-two agricultural schools. He hoped that in the Vote for the ensuing year these grants would disappear.

Vote agreed to; as were also the following:—

(3.) £680, Office of Commissioners of Education (Ireland).

(4.) £3,654, University of London.

(5.) £7,510, Scottish Universities.

(6.) £2,323, Queen's University (Ireland).


said, that the allowances to Professors and Examiners in this University were extravagant, when compared with the number of pupils. The University had not answered the purposes for which it was established, and he hoped that some reason would be given by the Secretary for Ireland why such exorbitant charges were allowed to appear in the Vote.


said, the matters referred to by the hon. Member were under the consideration of the Commissioners, and he hoped to be able soon to lay their Report on the table.

Vote agreed to.

(7.) £4,800, Queen's Colleges (Ireland).


said, a certain sum was paid to gentlemen at the head of the Colleges, but there was considerable complaint that they were non-resident. Another point to which he wished to allude was that of paying by regular salaries solely.


said, he had no doubt that the attention of the Commissioners would be directed to this matter. He would cause inquiry to be made into the matter.

Vote agreed to; as was also

(8.) £500, Royal Irish Academy.

(9.) Motion made and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £300, be granted to Her Majesty, towards defraying the expense of the Royal Hibernian Academy, to the 31st day of March, 1859.


said, he must object to that part of the Vote which went to provide living models for the use of the students. It was well known that artists did not consider they derived much advantage from living models, unless they were females and perfectly nude. This mode of study was attended with many evils. From want of due caution many persons who ought not to be admitted were allowed to enter the room where the living figure was, and a bad effect was produced on the minds of the humbler classes, who found it difficult to connect such exhibitions with high art. It was not desirable that Parliament should be mixed up with studies like these; for he had observed that among the lower orders there was an impression that such studies were connected with the dissolute pleasures of the rich, and that they had the full sanction of Parliament. Mr. Norman M'Leod, who had been appointed to inquire into the manner in which this grant was applied, disapproved the system, though he was not prepared to say that it had not been advantageous to art. This mode of study might be of advantage to art, but what what was of more importance than art was the interests of morality, and he most decidedly objected to a system which had a most demoralizing effect on the humbler classes of society. He was astonished that the grant should be proposed after the Report of Mr. Norman M'Leod, and he would now move that the Vote be reduced to £280.


said, there had been an inquiry into the working of the present system, and many improvements had been suggested, which would be carried out in due time. There was reason to believe that many defects in this class of institutions would speedily be done away with, and he might state that the Irish Government would take care to see that the recommendations made in the Report which they had received were as far as possible carried into effect. As to the use of living models, he believed they were considered necessary in every school of art, both at home and abroad. At the same time considerable discretion was necessary in the management of such studies, and he could assure the noble Lord that if any of the evils which he had alluded to continued to exist care would be taken to have them remedied.


said, it was quite indispensable to students of art that they should have opportunities of studying from the nude, and to deprive them of these would be to take away from them one of the principal advantages which they gained from attendance in the academy.


said, his hon. Friend, (Mr. Coningham), who was a great patron of art, had, no doubt, studied in this form, and he (Mr. Kinnaird) would not object to the system provided it was done at the expense of those who practised it. If a man wished to study art in this way there was no law to prevent him indulging in it, as his hon. Friend no doubt had done, but be protested against the money of the people being spent in such a manner. What they called the improvement of art he would call the degradation of one and the demoralization of many, and be thought they were much indebted to the noble Lord for having brought the subject forward.


said, he did not defend the abuses. of the system; but he held that the use of living models was necessary to the perfection of art. Those employed were professional models and were respectable people, and it should be considered that their services were entirely voluntary. If the question, however, came to be one of State grants for the promotion of art, he must say that on principle he was entirely opposed to such grants.


said, that live models were necessary, and they were not made use of to any great extent. He should therefore oppose any reduction in the Vote. There had been unfortunately some dispute between the authorities, but a Commission on the subject had been issued, and he trusted that in future there would be no difficulty. He might add that it was in this metropolis, where living models were made use of, to a much larger extent than everywhere else, that objection should be first made to votes of this kind.


said, this was not the way in which the public money ought to be expended, and if the noble Lord (Lord Haddo) went to a division he should vote with him.

Motion made and Question put,— That the item of £100, for Life Schools, Models, and Visitors, be reduced by the sum of £20.

The Committee divided:£Ayes 24; Noes 128: Majority 104.

Vote agreed to.

(10.) Motion made and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £2,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to pay the Salaries of the Theological Professors and the incidental expenses of the General Assembly's College at Belfast, and retired allowances to Professors of the Belfast Academical Institution, to the 31st day of March, 1859.

MR. W. WILLIAMS moved that the Chairman should report progress.


said, that this was the last of the series of Irish Votes, and therefore he hoped that the Committee would agree to it before reporting progress.


supported the Motion. The House had been engaged twelve hours that day in voting Supply.


said, the Vote was one which would give rise to considerable discussion, and it was undesirable to press it at so late an hour.


said, the Irish Assizes would commence on the 15th instant, and that would cause the absence of Irish Members.


asked, if any other Irish business would be taken after this?


said, that any orders which were unopposed would be proceeded with.

Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report these Resolutions to the House," put, and negatived.

Original Question again proposed.

MR. CROSSLEY moved that the Vote should be reduced by the sum of £2,050.


said, that having last week taken the sense of the House against voting money to theological professors in Scotland, he was quite consistent in supporting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Halifax, which would reduce the amount of this vote to the sum required for retiring allowances.


said, he was ready to admit the consistency of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) but he would remind the Committee that the Vote was founded upon an arrangement which was come to when Sir R. Peel founded the Queen's Colleges and suppressed the academical institution at Bel- fast, which had enjoyed a grant of £3,900 and in which the Presbyterians had previously educated the young men intended to enter the ministry of their Church. Under these circumstances he trusted Parliament would not now interfere with the definitive arrangement which had been entered into with the General Assembly.


observed that he did not see how they could vote money for a purpose so entirely contrary to the original intention.


said, he had voted against all grants for theological purposes; and if the House would get rid of them entirely it would be a great saving of time. If the object was to teach divinity, he would ask were they to teach Presbyterianism, Unitarianism, or the Roman Catholic religion? He should like to know of what religion they were.

Motion made and Question put,— That a sum, not exceeding £450, be granted to Her Majesty, to pay the salaries of the Theological Professors, and the incidental expenses of the General Assembly's College at Belfast, and retired allowances to Professors of the Belfast Academical Institution, to the 31st day of March, 1859.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 34: Noes 122: Majority 88.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported on Monday next, at twelve o'clock. Committee to sit again on Monday at twelve o'clock.

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