§ Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.
§ (In the Committee).
Motion made, and Question proposed,
—"That a sum, not exceeding £63,394, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expenses of the General Management of the Department of Science and Art, of the Schools throughout the Kingdom in connection with the Department, and of the Geological Surveys of Great Britain and Ireland, AMP; c, to the 31st day of March, 1860.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
observed, that there was an increase upon the Estimates of last year, and there was an idea abroad that the scheme of moving the National Gallery to Kensington was to be revived. He believed that nearly every one agreed that the air of Trafalgar Square was not more destructive to pictures than that of Ken- 369 sington. As to the question of space, the Directors of the National Gallery had only to remove the worthless pictures bought within the last few years, and there would he abundance of room. There was a kind of mysterious protection hanging over this matter, which paralysed the action of the House, and which required close watching. He would, therefore, appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to strike at high places and put a stop to this extravagance. He wished to add that it was owing to the Estimate coming on earlier than was expected that his Motion of Friday failed to find a seconder. At the same time he was surprised that the financial reformers in that House, who privately had expressed to him their concurrence in his Motion, should have allowed it to fall to the ground when he did make it.
§ MR. BLACKBURN
said, that as the object of the Education Vote was so very useful, it was difficult to propose any reduction in it. He found, however, that the expenditure for the Museum at South Kensington, commonly called the "Brompton Boilers," was increasing every year; and, though he did not object to the national collections in the metropolis, such as the British Museum, yet he did not think that the majolica and the china ware which were put into the Kensington collection justified the expenditure upon them, and the nation would he all the better for it if an earthquake swallowed them up. He should, therefore, in order to mark the sense of the House that that expenditure ought to be diminished, move that the Vote be reduced by £1,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,—
That a sum, not exceeding £62,394, be grant. ed to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expenses of the General Management of the Department of Science and Art, of the Schools throughout the Kingdom in connection with the Department, and of the Geological Surveys of Great Britain and Ireland, AMP; c, to the 31st day of March, 1860.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that in reply to the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Coninghani), he had to observe that, whatever rumours might be in circulation, no step whatever had been taken by the present Government to his knowledge on the subject of the removal of the National Gallery. The Government had given no authority for any such rumours; and the question must therefore be considered as standing pre- 370 cisely as it did two months ago. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Mr. Blackburn), he must say that he had not expected that the late Secretary to the Treasury would be ready to aid the present Government in cutting down the Estimates proposed by the late Government. However, the hon. Gentleman's assistance would be most welcome, if put in a practical form; but the Committee could do nothing useful by cutting down the Vote by £1,000, unless they knew what part of the expenditure it was intended to retrench. The hon. Member described the majolica and china wares as useless, and thought that if they were swallowed up by an earthquake the country would be all the better for it. He entirely differed from the hon. Member. They formed a very valuable collection, and he believed that on the whole the collection was a cheap one; and if the country must part with it, he would much rather than see it swallowed up by an earthquake sell it at Christie's, for the country would then get more than it gave for it. The collection told in industrial pursuits, and nothing was more marked than the revolution which had taken place in the last few years in the production of earthenware in all its forms. One could not pass a mere crockery shop in a country village without seeing that this outlay of public money had been most fertile in results. Though he could not go along with his hon. Friend in this his first attempt to reduce the Vote, he trusted the hon. Gentleman would not be discouraged in his economical efforts, and that he would in future be more specific in informing the Committee what was the particular retrenchment he desired.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he thought the best answer that could be given to the Motion of the hon. Member for Stirlingshire was to state the simple fact that no less than 450,000 persons had visited the museum at Kensington, and its success had somewhat defeated the vaticinations of some people, whose only objection to the museum seemed to have been founded upon the remoteness of the locality. The wonderful patronage bestowed on the School of Art was the best answer to all strictures.
§ LORD HADDO
said, he wished to call attention to the exhibition of nude living models in the Government Schools of Art. He had on one occasion been accidentally a witness of the mode of study pursued in 371 Government Schools of Art, and he felt bound to say that he had never witnessed a more painful or scandalous exhibition. He brought forward the subject with feelings of shame and disgust, but after what passed under his own observation, he could not conscientiously agree to the Vote for this object, unless the studies were placed under proper restrictions. As far as art was concerned, he believed it was the opinion of the best writers on the subject that the introduction of the voluptuous school had occasioned the decay of art and the decline of public taste in ancient Greece, and that of the age of Phidias and of Pericles not a single example of an undraped female figure was known to exist. It was quite unnecessary to give public aid to a mode of study which was evidently so attractive and remunerative as that to which he referred. The claims of morality were more important than those of art, and if the two were inconsistent the latter ought to give way. Seeing £100 put down in the Vote for what was called "professional assistance," and which he supposed meant the exhibition of the nude female figure, he moved that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £100.
§ MR. LOWE
said, that the term "professional assistance" did not refer to the models in question, but to occasional assistance in teaching. According to a return moved for by the noble Lord, of schools connected with the Department of Science and Art, where female models were employed, it appeared that there two such schools; but in one the model was always draped. In the other, the School of Art at Manchester, be believed the model was undraped, but that was a matter entirely under the management of the local committee. The Government money was strictly appropriated, and none of it was given for the payment of the nude female model.
§ LORD HADDO
said, that in an imprinted return in the library there appeared a statement to the effect that under the Board of Manufactures in Scotland there was a school in which for years the nude female model had been exhibited five times in one week and four times in the next, making nine times a fortnight, during nine months in the year. He wished to know whether the public money would be given to this school at Edinburgh.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that, as the Vice President of the Council for Education, had explained 372 the principle on which the Government acted in giving aid to schools was that of direct and specific appropriation, which did not allow any discretion to the local authorities as to how the money granted should be spent; and whatever course these schools pursued at their own expense, the Government had taken care that the public money should not he appropriated to the purposes to which the noble Lord objected. If the school at Edinburgh were an exception to the rule which obtained with respect to other schools, he had no hesitation in saying it ought not to be an exception, and inquiries would be made with the view of putting that grant on the same footing as the others. He was quite sure that every one would feel that the public discussion of this question was not desirable on the grounds of public morality.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that the school at Edinburgh where the naked figure was studied was not a part of any establishment aided by the Government, but was connected with the Royal Academy of Edinburgh, which had nothing whatever to do with any public grant. The grant for the school in Dublin where the naked figure was introdued was to cease; and, therefore, there only remained the school at Manchester which the Committee needed to consider. He did not think the answer given, that these grants were strictly appropriated, was perfectly satisfactory, because it might be said that the study of the naked figure might be put an end to by making the cessation of that study a condition of the grant. Every one would give credit to the noble Lord for his motives in bringing forward this subject, but the complete study of art could not he carried on without the exhibition of the nude figure. If such an exhibition were perverted to the purposes of indecency, of course, not a moment should be lost in withdrawing all share in the grant of public money from the establishment where it was so applied.
§ MR. SPOONER
considered the practice referred to highly objectionable, and one that did not benefit art. It was a most dangerous principle for the Government to support any institution for whose conduct it was not responsible, He would move that the grant to the Manchester school be wholly disallowed.
said, he was sorry that this question had been raised, as he did not think the interests of public morality would be served by it. He thought the assurance given by the Government ought 373 to be received as quite satisfactory, and, as Edinburgh would only receive the money for the present year, the Scotch would afterwards have all the morality of this business on their own hands. He was glad to hear the other night so satisfactory a statement as to the drawing department. The increase of numbers in the studio and the decrease of public expenditure in relation to the numbers (the pupils contributing largely to the expense) showed that that department was appreciated by the people; and there could be no doubt that a correct knowledge of drawing was of the greatest possible advantage to mechanics.
§ SIR JOHN PAXTON
said, he could bear testimony to the admirable manner in which the Department of Science and Art was carried on. Much good was effected throughout the country by what was called the "travelling museum," which had been visited by a large number of persons. That the museum at South Kensington was attractive was proved by the vast numbers that visited it last year. Nevertheless, he thought there ought to be some limit to the expense, which had risen from £40,000 to £90,000; but he could not support the Amendment to deduct £1,000 from the Vote, as that could not be carried without deranging the Estimate.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he also could bear testimony to the advantages of the Kensington Museum, which no one could visit without having his mind elevated and his taste improved. Much strong feeling had been exhibited in the city he represented (Aberdeen) against the employment of nude models in the Schools of Art, but as the Estimates contained no specific grant for that purpose, he thought the Amendment ought to be withdrawn.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
said it would be a great benefit to the working classes if the Kensington Museum could be opened on Sunday afternoon. They would be kept out of gin palaces, and so far from religion being injured, it would be benefited.
§ MR. JOHN LOCKE
said, he also was in favour of throwing open the museum between the hours of divine service. Indeed he thought that the House and the Government had broken faith with the donor in not opening the Sheepshanks' collection on Sundays. Hampton Court was open on Sundays, as were also Kew Gardens. He would ask the House whether any inconvenience would ensue from that? Had those institutions not kept people from the gin palaces and other such places on 374 the Lord's Day? During the hours that gin shops were open Kensington Museum ought to be open. If it were it would tend to the spread of morality and religion amongst the people.
§ MR. BALL
said, he did not see the connection between the two subjects—the employment of these models and the opening of public galleries on the Lord's Day, except so far as one vice generally led to another. He could, therefore, understand that those who were the advocates of the one would soon become the supporters of the other. He regretted to hear in that House any palliation of the employment of those figures, as he thought that the grant of public money to any institution where such an exhibition prevailed, although the grant might be appropriated to other purposes, was an indirect support to a practice tending to demoralize society.
§ MR. LEFROY
said, he had understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that the Government would by no means countenance such exhibitions as those referred to by the noble Lord. He thought that assurance ought to satisfy the Committee, and he hoped that no division would be taken on the subject. As to the question of opening the public galleries on Sunday, he trusted that no further encroachments would be made on the sanctity of the Sabbath.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
remarked that it was not a time for discussing the question of nude figures, and he hoped the Motion would be withdrawn.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, great good had arisen from the Schools of Design. Formerly English manufacturers were void of taste. Of late that taste was vastly improved, owing to the great advantage and advancement of manufactures. In his opinion the public money had never been spent to a more beneficial or useful purpose.
§ MR. MASSEY
said, he would remind the Committee that the particular question under discussion was whether the Vote should be reduced by £1,000.
§ MR. BLACKBURN
said, he must protest against the collier of Newcastle and the weaver of Nottingham being called upon to pay for the amusement of Londoners. As the sense of the Committee appeared to be against him, however, he should not now press his Amendment.
§ Amendment by leave withdrawn.
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
observed, that he did not at all agree with the hon. Mem- 375 ber for Lambeth, that the Schools of Design had advanced art or improved taste in this country. He thought, on the contrary, that it would be better for art if it were entirely protected from Government interference. As to the question of opening museums on Sundays, he thought there were as many of the working classes opposed to such a proceeding as there were in its favour. In fact, it was a moot point at present. At the same time, it was worthy of consideration whether these collections could not be made more accessible to the working classes by opening them more frequently in the evening.
said, he would remind the hon. Member that the South Kensington Museum was open two nights a week. He wished, however, to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the department to the new buildings which would contain the Turner and Vernon Collections, and he hoped they would also be exhibited two evenings in the week. A scientific Commission had inquired into the question whether the artificial light had produced any ill effects upon the pictures in the Sheepshanks' collection, and they reported that it had not, the products of combustion being carried out of the room so completely as to avoid all injury to the paintings.
§ MR. BRADY
said, he must protest against the assertion that the working classes, or a majority of them, did not wish the public collections to be opened on a Sunday. After working from six in the morning till seven or eight at night, what time had they to visit museums or paintings except on Sundays? From his knowledge he was convinced that they were in favour of opening the museums on Sunday after two o'clock.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he sympathized with the objects of those who supported the Sunday opening, but he thought the feeling of the country, certainly the religious feeling, was against any change in that respect.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ £169,468, Public Education in Ireland,
Sir, before I come to the immediate subject of which I have given notice, I desire to offer some observations in reference to the general question which is now legitimately placed before the Committee. The question is one of the deepest interest, to the people of Ireland, 376 of all ranks, classes, and creeds, and requires to be dealt with in a fair and impartial spirit. To understand the question rightly, it must be considered from two different points of view. If I were asked did I approve of the national system of education, as a great intellectual and educational machinery, which had done great good in Ireland, I should certainly say I did; for I must willingly and gratefully bear testimony to the fact, that the great mass of the youth of Ireland have been instructed by it in the rudiments of useful knowledge, and that hundreds of thousands of the very humblest class have received from it the benefits of a sound education. I am, therefore, a friend of the National system, viewing it as a mere educational machinery, and as affording the assistance of the State in aid of the voluntary efforts of the people. But if I be asked whether it has succeeded as a mixed system—that is, according to the principles on which it was originally founded—I must certainly say that it has not. Judged according to the principles on which it was founded, and according to the programme put forward in Lord Stanley's celebrated Totter, I must say it has not only not been successful, but it has decidedly failed. I entertain the deepest sentiments of gratitude to those who initiated the system, and I give them credit for the best and most benevolent intentions. I believe that it has hitherto done enormous good, in developing the intelligence and raising the moral tone of the great bulk of the population; and I also believe that it is capable of doing much more good; but in order to do this, it must be restored to the confidence of those whose wishes and whose feelings I am more particularly interested in representing—and this can only be done by restoring it to its original principle, stringently enforced— namely, united secular and separate religious teaching. The confidence of the Catholic bishops, clergy, and people of Ireland has been considerably shaken by events which have lately occurred, and by a policy which seems to have been systematically pursued; and the Committee must remember that no class of the Irish community are so much interested in the well-working of the system of National education as the Catholics; for there are no less than 500,000 Catholic children at present on the roll, and they, in fact, constitute seven-eighths of the entire number educated— under the National Board. Therefore, two things are clear,—that the Catholics of Ire- 377 land have the greatest interest in the well-working of the system—and that unless it possess the confidence of the Catholic bishops and clergy, it cannot succeed in realising its objects, or in justifying the hopes of the friends of educational progress. One word as to its practical failure, as a mixed system. In three provinces of Ireland, it is absolutely denominational, owing to the fact that three provinces are almost wholly Catholic; and in Ulster, whore, from a different state of things, it is necessarily mixed, it is found to work prejudicially to Catholic interests. If the system is to be maintained, it must be maintained rigidly and honestly, and the old rule, which was protective of the faith of the child, whether Catholic or Protestant, must be restored to its original stringency. By that rule, when honestly enforced, it was impossible that a Catholic child could be present at Protestant religious teaching, and the same rule prevented the Protestant or Presbyterian child from being present at Catholic teaching. Had that rule been maintained in its original stringency, the intentions of the founders of the system would have been carried out in those schools where children of different persuasions were educated under the same roof; and although a very considerable number of persons in Ireland prefer a system of entirely separate teaching—in which even the secular teaching is leavened with the religious element— there still would be, at this day, a general feeling of confidence in the National Board. But, Sir, I complain—and I only echo the complaint which is almost universally felt by the Catholics of Ireland—that the original rule has been much relaxed, to the injury of Catholic interests, by opening the door to those who are ever on the watch to assail the faith of their Catholic brethren; while with respect to Catholics themselves, the regulations—even the arbitrary regulations—of the Board, have been enforced most strictly, and in a manner calculated to inspire the patrons and managers of the Catholic schools with distrust and suspicion of the Board. While the rule is so relaxed, that Catholic children are allowed to be present, not merely at the reading of the Protestant Bible, but while the Bible is being expounded in a Protestant and therefore anti-Catholic spirit, the Catholic teachers of an exclusively Catholic school are immediately reprehended, if they allow a Catholic child to make the sign of the cross, or offer up a prayer when the clock strikes. I shall now mention a case in 378 point, which will show the Committee how rigidly the patrons and managers of Catholic schools are dealt with. In one of the suburbs of Cork, a little outside the city, there is a small mound, of rather painful celebrity, which, up to a few years since, bore the ill-omened name of Gallows Green; it having been the spot on which executions formerly took place, previous to the erection of the new prison. Some benevolent persons conceived the idea of building a school on the very site where in former days the gibbet had been erected, and of employing the schoolmaster—a far better teacher than the hangman—to instruct the youth of the neighbourhood on the same place on which the hangman had once exercised his degrading functions. The Corporation gave the site; persons of all classes, and indeed of all creeds, liberally contributed; a beautiful building was soon completed; and the schools were established under the auspices of a religious body, whose members devote their lives to the praiseworthy object of giving a good and useful education to the children of the humblest and poorest class in the community. An application was made to the Board, demanding the assistance of the State in a work so much in consonance with the spirit of an enlightened age; and if ever there were a case in which that assistance ought to be granted by the Board, it was that which I describe. But the application was refused, and on two grounds, each of which was indicative of the hostile policy adopted towards the Catholic body. One ground was this—that since the rule of 1855, which the Board framed on no intelligible reason, no further grants could be given to religious orders — not "Jesuits," let me assure the late Attorney General for Ireland, but monks and nuns—religious communities of men and women, who, without pay or reward, devote all their time, all their talents, all their energies, to the holy task of developing the intellect, and strengthening and purifying the moral nature of the children of poverty. This was one ground, which, I assert, exhibits a reactionary policy, and one inimical to Catholic interests. The second ground was frivolous and absurd in the highest degree, because, in a Catholic school, founded in a Catholic city, and conducted by a Catholic community, there happened to be a cross erected or carved over the porch or in the wall—perhaps the work of a Catholic architect—therefore the assistance of the State was denied by the administrators of this 379 national system of education. That, Sir, is a specimen of the unfairness of which Catholics justly complain. Look, then, at the other side of the picture. In a late report one of the head Inspectors, Mr. Keenan, stated that in the schools of Ulster, in Londonderry and Antrim, especially in Belfast, many thousands of Catholic children were present at Protestant or Presbyterian religious teaching—which was clearly a distinct violation of the principle on which the system was originally founded; and in alluding to that statement, I must express my regret that the respectable gentlemen who constitute the Board condescended to the art of excising that paragraph from the report, and thus endeavoured to withhold its important information from the Irish public. The very fact that so many children of different religious faith were receiving religious instruction at the same time, and from the same teacher, showed how dangerously the rule was relaxed, and afforded a just ground for the want of confidence which was rapidly extending throughout all parts of Ireland, and was felt even by those who up to that time had been the fast friends of a system. I know, as a matter of fact, that many Catholic bishops who had advocated the system at first, because a better could not be found at the time, are beginning to lose all confidence in it, principally in consequence of its unfair administration. Fortunately, the Catholic Bishops are to meet in Dublin on the 2nd of next month, when they will take this most important subject into consideration, and as a Catholic, I sincerely hope that they, who are the legitimate guardians of the faith and morals of their flock, will suggest such alterations and amendments as, if adopted by the Government, may restore so vast an educational machinery to the confidence of the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, the late Attorney General, stated on a former evening, that there were over 3,000 schools not vested in the Board. But what does that fact prove? It proves that the dissatisfaction is felt; and it proves that the Catholic patrons of these schools, three or four thousand schools, were afraid to surrender their authority and control over their schools into the hands of the Commissioners—the result of which might be this, that if the patrons or managers did anything to excite the anger of the Commissioners, the Commissioners would at once send down one of their officers, who would turn the key in the lock, and 380 close the door against them. The Commissioners are not disinclined to be arbitrary; and I rejoice that so many schools are still held in complete independence of the Commissioners. The want of confidence now existing, will continue until some radical change is made in the present administration of the system. The very constitution of the Board is unfair as respects Catholics, and considering that seven-eighths of the children are of the Catholic faith; for, while there are but five Catholic Commissioners, there are nine Protestant and Presbyterian Commissioners—which is the very reverse of a fair proportion, considering the numbers represented. When I alluded to this question last year, I insisted upon the necessity of having a paid Catholic Commissioner appointed—a man in whom the Catholic body could repose confidence—who would possess co-equal authority with Mr. M'Donald—against whom I do not desire to say anything. I repeat, there should be a resident Catholic Commissioner, who would be bound to attend at every meeting of the Board, and at the transaction of all business, and whose duty as well as whose feeling would compel him to watch over the interests and defend the rights of his Catholic brethren. But, Sir, if the original principles on which the system was founded cannot be restored, and if full satisfaction cannot be given on many important points, we must in that case come to the denominational system— a matter not to be decided upon with respect to Ireland without the greatest reflection. The denominational system, as carried out in England under the Privy Council, gives general satisfaction, because, while assisting voluntary efforts by the resources of the State, it affords the fullest independence to those whom it assists; but in applying such a system to Ireland, care should be taken to afford the most complete protection to the children of poor Catholic parents against the aggressive attempts of proselytising landlords. Hon. Gentlemen who insist upon greater freedom for Protestant and Presbyterian schools, may rest satisfied that Catholic vigilance will be on its guard against any attempt to confer new powers of mischief on those troublesome people who will not let others go to Heaven their own way. The subject is one of the gravest importance; and, Sir, I feel I would be unworthy of the position I occupy as a representative, of my standing in this House, or indeed of the age at which I have arrived, if, in a matter affect- 381 ing the interests of millions of my countrymen, I rushed at a hasty and precipitate judgment. The subject is too grave to be trifled with; and I most earnestly trust that the result of the changes and modifications which are now inevitable, may be such as to restore confidence to those who are responsible for the education of the youth of Ireland. Having thus alluded— I trust in a fair and temperate spirit—to the general subject of National Education, I come to the specific object of my notice. Now, Sir, whatever the system upon which we are called upon to agree—whether it is to be united or denominational—one thing is certain—that there can be no real improvement in it until the condition of the teacher—upon whoso faithful discharge of his high and important office the success of every educational system depends—is rendered more satisfactory than it is. Hon. Gentlemen in this country, and in Scot land, pay their labourers 12s. to 15s. a week, and in London the manufacturer or the builder will frequently pay as much as £1 a week for unskilled labour; but the instructors of youth in Ireland, who are expected to afford the rising generation of that country a sound, moral, as well as intellectual training, are paid, on an average, just 10s. a week. It is utterly impossible that such a state of things can be satisfactory to the teacher, or beneficial to the system; and I trust the Committee will bear with me while I demonstrate the truth of both these propositions. I ask the Committee to compare the position of the English teacher with that of his Irish brother. In England, the average income of the teacher under the Privy Council, is £90, from every source; and there is a house attached to each school for the teacher's residence. In Ireland, the average income of the teacher under the National Board, is £27, from every source, including the public grant, local contributions, and school fees; and not more than 5 per cent of the entire number of schools have residences attached to them for the teacher. With respect to houses for the teachers, I have here the opinion of the Commissioners, expressed in their Report to this House, so far back as the year 1835, that "each teacher should be furnished with apartments adjoining the school." I beg of hon. Gentlemen to follow me for a moment while I analyse this magnificent remuneration of £27 for an Irish schoolmaster, who is expected to be zealous and energetic in the discharge of his duties. 382 Not having a house provided for him, he must provide himself with one; and if I put down £4 a year as the rent of this house, or I shall rather call it cabin, it will be admitted that that is a moderate sum. To render that dwelling habitable for the greater part of the year, fuel is indispensable; and for that I deduct the sum of £3 a year. As the national teacher is not bound by an obligation of celibacy, I may assume that he has a wife—that, in the midst of his misery, he has sought for the enjoyment of those domestic affections which are usually a solace and consolation to the rest of mankind; and I may further assume that he is blessed with a family of three children—a very moderate allowance, as my hon. Friends from Ireland will no doubt consider it. He, his wife, and his three children, must be clothed; and it is scarcely possible that the poorest or the scantiest raiment can be procured for much less than £4 in the twelvemonths. Well, that is £11 out of the £27—leaving, for all other purposes, including food, drink, and candle-light, the sum of £16 a year. Divide this £16 into weeks, and we have about 6s. a week for the support of five persons—that is, less than 1s. 2d. a week for the support of each member of that family — or 2d. a day for the maintenance of each ! I ask hon. Gentlemen to imagine a matured man or woman, or a growing hungry child, fed at the rate of 2d. a day. This, without the slightest exaggeration, is the average condition of the national teacher who has a family to support. I ask, ought such a state of things to be suffered to continue? Look to the effect of this treatment upon the unfortunate teacher. What energy, what enthusiasm in his profession, can you expect from him? In the morning he leaves his miserable home, with its scanty table and its cheerless grate, for his school; and the recollection of the misery and want which he has left behind him, haunts him during his day's toil; and when he returns to that home in the evening, jaded and broken-spirited after his eight hours of hard drudgery, and finds nothing but discomfort and wretchedness before him—is it possible, I ask, that that man can devote himself to the necessary task of endeavouring to improve himself by study, and render himself more competent to teach, by adding to his professional knowledge? I now proceed to show in what manner this state of things has interfered with the efficiency of the National system, and thus been prejudicial to the 383 public service. The position of the teachers has frequently elicited remonstrances from the Inspectors, who have, in the strongest manner, urged it on the attention of the Commissioners. Mr. E. S. Butler, in his Report for 1848, after alluding to the low scale of salaries, thus continues: —With such scanty recources for the maintenance of his family, it is evident that the teacher can make no provision for old age or infirmity; and when he has become unfit for the efficient discharge of his duties, his removal from the school, without any superannuation, will deprive him of all means of support, or his continuance in it will be a burden to himself as well as an injury to the best interests of the locality. Wore the Commissioners to grant retiring allowances to old and deserving teachers, such a painful alternative would not present itself.Mr. M'Credy, in his Report for the same year, says:—For to seek to secure for the public service, as merely secular teachers, men properly qualified, and therefore necessarily of large attainments, and to think at the same time to keep them at their present rate of income, I regard as aiming at things quite incompatible, and which cannot possibly long co-exist; and we must determine therefore either to ameliorate their condition, or resign ourselves to the melancholy alternative of seeing the best and ablest among them daily departing from our ranks.The actual result of the miserable remuneration is, that the best and ablest of the teachers are daily driven away from the service of the National Board, and that their places are necessarily filled up with persons of inferior qualifications. Mr. Keenan, head Inspector, made the following important statement, in his Report for 1856;—Although upwards of 5,000 teachers have been trained in our service, death, emigration, and change of employment have so thinned the ranks, that at present upwards of 2,000 of the 5,192 National schools in the country are in the hands of untrained teachers.It may be said that a better system of training will obviate or remedy this evil; but Mr. William A. Hunter in his Report of 1856, thus conclusively deals with this question:—I believe, however, the principal reason why we find so many candidates of inferior qualifications is to be found in the circumstances that the remuneration of the teachers is so low. The remedy for the evil of which I have been complaining, which naturally suggests itself, is that training schools should be supplied. This remedy has been tried; it has been found to be insufficient; and, paradoxical as it may appear, not only is the remedy insufficient, but the evil is, to some extent, augmented. There is no advantage whatever gained to the cause of education by giving a high 384 training to men destined to the office of teaching so long as a corresponding remuneration is not secured to them for their services in this office.I shall only quote one passage more, and it is from the Report of Dr. Newell, a gentleman with whom I have the pleasure to be personally acquainted. He uses the emphatic words:—In no way can the Commissioners, in my humble opinion, more effectually promote the interests of National education, than by rewarding amply the men who bear the toil and heat of the day, the humblest but most useful of all their agents, the rank and file of the service, the teachers of ordinary National schools.Thus urged by their officers, who are personally conversant with the condition of the teachers, and whose recommendations were made with all the responsibility and authority of their official position, the Commissioners have at length resolved on doing something to meet the evil which they fully admit to exist, and to require being remedied. Dr. Newell insists, as I have shown, on the necessity of "rewarding amply" those who bear the toil and heat of the day. Have the Commissioners done this? The present Estimates do certainly provide for an increased rate of remuneration; and what do the Committee think that increased rate is? Four classes of teachers have their salaries raised £4: per annum; two other classes have been raised £2 per annum; and the two lower classes have been raised £1 per annum ! Divided by the week, it would rate thus—about 1s. 7d. increase for the first class, 9d. increase for the second, and 4½d. for the third! Now, considering the nature of the evil to be dealt with, I ask is this to be called a sufficient remuneration for so important a body of men? The Commissioners have evidently only ventured on an experiment; and from the cautious manner in which they have attempted to deal with this great evil, so detrimental to the public service, one may appreciate the official tremor with which the heads of a department approach this House when asking for an increased grant. But, Sir, if I know anything of English and Scotch gentlemen, I feel certain there is not an hon. Member in this House who would object to vote, next year, a sum sufficient to meet the just demands of those whose cause I, this day, advocate. The late Attorney General for Ireland referred, on Friday night, to the prosecution of a national teacher for treason, and stated that other teachers were implicated in the Phoenix conspiracy. These, no doubt, are circumstances to be regretted; but what 385 is more apt to generate discontent than inadequate remuneration for a man's services, and what more calculated to embitter a man's mind, and make him desire a change, than a feeling of despair, and a consciousness of ill treatment? The cases mentioned, however, are only mere exceptions to the general rule; but if you desire to retain the great body of the teachers, content with their position, faithful to their duties, and attached to the Government under which they live, you must pay them a sufficient salary for their labours—such a salary as will keep them above want and privation, and provide them at least with all the necessaries of life. Render the national teacher content with his position, and you inspire him with energy in his important duties; and not only will he become the promoter of enlightenment, but the best protector of the peace and order of the district in which he pursues his honourable avocations. Above all things, banish from his mind the idea that he is marked out for inferiority, nay, even for degradation, by proving to him that you estimate at its proper value, the office of him to whose care is entrusted the responsible task of developing the intellect and forming the mind of the youth of a country. I do not seek for anything extravagant; but I demand that justice may be done to the national teachers of Ireland, believing as I do, that the progress of education in that country would be greatly promoted by their being rendered content with their condition, which they can only be by being adequately remunerated for their services.
§ MR. GEORGE
said, he most heartily concurred in the object which the hon. Member for Dungarvan had advocated at the close of his speech. As long as the pay of the teacher was inadequate it would be impossible to get the best and most respectable men to perform the important duties of that office. And it was impossible to look at the scale of fees commencing at £46 and going downwards to £14 with out at once seeing that they were grossly inadequate. The proposed increase was insufficient, and he could not believe that even £50 a year was enough for a man of intelligence and education. He thought, however, it would be necessary to institute an inquiry into the character and qualifications of those to whom increased salaries were to be paid, for it was a matter of notoriety, proved by sworn evidence in a court of justice, that seven or eight school-masters in the south of Ireland were impli- 386 cated in a treasonable conspiracy against the Crown and the peace of the kingdom. It was true that that conspiracy had been denounced as a "dangerous and absurd" conspiracy; but he did not see how those terms could possibly be applicable at one and the same time. At the same time, however, that he advocated an increased remuneration for teachers he also recommended a better system of inspection and surveillance. He did not impute unfawful sentiments or acts to the great holy, but that so many schoolmasters in the western part of the county of Cork should have been implicated in treasonable proceedings proved that the inspectors of the Board had not performed their duty. He was bound to add that there was a feeling in Ireland that the Board of Education, as at present constituted, did not satisfy the wants and wishes of the people, and did not possess the confidence of any class in Ireland. It certainly did not possess the confidence of one-third of the population of Ireland—the Protestants and Presbyterians, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman opposite would consider whether the Board might not be strengthened by an infusion of new blood. For his own part he regretted that the plan of united education was regarded as impossible in Ireland. He did not entertain that opinion, for he thought the old Kildare Place Society had found out the secret of working such a system. The reading of the Bible without note or comment might have formed the basis of a united general education, on which each party might have engrafted separately their own peculiar doctrines. However, that was now a thing of the past, for it was now impossible to change the system which had been introduced by the National Board. He regretted that the High Protestant party and the Roman Catholics had thrown obstacles in the way of making the system of education more general, but he thought that even now a solution of the difficulty might be found in reading the Scriptures in school without any peculiar form of prayer, and at the same time allowing parents who objected to their children being present while the Scriptures were read to withdraw them from the school during such time.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
said, he did not rise to enter into the general question of education, which was, however, in a position demanding the utmost care and vigilance. He should he glad to see any alterations which would conciliate more gene- 387 rally the opinions of all classes, but what he now wished to do was to support the view taken by the hon. Member for Dungarvan with respect to the payment of teachers. Every one resident in Ireland must feel that those most essential officers were wretchedly underpaid. The success of the system almost wholly depended on this being remedied. The teachers suffered much from the difficulty of obtaining houses within a moderate distance. This inconvenience, however, might easily be remedied by Gentlemen resident in the neighbourhood. He trusted that the Secretary for Ireland would take this subject into serious consideration.
said, he wished to express his concurrence it what had fallen from the hon. Member for Dungarvan. For his part he was sick of hearing of conciliation and compromise, and the rival interests of Catholics and Protestants. There was only one way to conciliate Roman Catholics and Protestants, and that was, not by asking them to give up their sincere opinions, but by mixing them up in every possible way in secular affairs and keeping them separate in religious affairs. He could not see the policy of employing ill-paid agents to carry out a great object, and he trusted that after the clear case stated by the hon. Member for Dungarvan the House would take the matter into consideration.
§ LORD FERMOY
said, he had listened with disappointment to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Wexford, who had accused the national teachers, amounting to 6,000, of disloyalty, because three or four heedless men among them might have been disloyal. [Mr. GEORGE denied that he accused the whole body of disloyalty.] He doubted if that test were to be applied universally whether in a time of political excitement Trinity College itself would be found pure. In 1848 the most excited and disloyal effusions in the Nation newspaper were written by students of that College, and yet it would not be fair to accuse Trinity College of disloyalty on that account. To another speech, that of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, he had listened with pleasure. The education question in Ireland had arrived at what might be called a crisis, and both extremes in that country agreed in expressing a want of confidence in it. He thought the Protestant body committed a great mistake in seceding from the national system of education in Ireland, and if abuses had since 388 crept into that system the seceders who turned their backs on it were more responsible than any one else for those abuses. Separate religious education and united secular education was a broad and clear principle, which might be adopted in Ireland, but the denominational system would never succeed in that country, for the Roman Catholic community were too poor to put down, as in England, a certain amount of money for every £1 given by the Government. There was good primary education and good college education in Ireland, but the endowments for the intermediate education had been most grossly misapplied. He did not think that the Roman Catholics would have confidence in the Board of Education without a reconstruction, and on all these grounds he believed that the whole question of Irish education must be taken up by the Government. The subject certainly was a difficult one, but it was not impossible that a solution might be found.
§ SIR EDWARD GROGAN
said, he believed that the clear statement of the hon. Member for Dungarvan must have weight with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland. It was quite evident that things could not remain in their present state. He thought the hon. Gentleman right in demanding an increase of salary for the teachers of his own communion, but the Committee must not forget that not one shilling was allowed to the Protestant teachers of Protestant schools connected with education in Ireland. Was that right? The whole system must be recast, if it was desired to give satisfaction, for the Government could not go on excluding one large portion of the population from all the benefits of the national endowment.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, with respect to the question brought forward in so temperate and graceful a manner by the hon. Member for Dungarvan, the general feeling must be that it was most desirable that so important and useful a body of men as these schoolmasters should be properly paid. There was in the present Estimates a considerable increase for the schoolmasters, and should it not be found sufficient he trusted the Government would reconsider the matter. With regard to the important subject of the system of Irish education, he had heard Irish Members say that that system had come to such a state that it was absolutely necessary that great changes in it should be made. However that might be, he desired to express his 389 ardent hope that hon. Members would approach this great subject to improve, if possible, but, at any rate, to preserve and perpetuate the system of education which had produced such beneficial effects on Ireland. He had always considered it a happy circumstance for Ireland that it possessed a system of instruction which, he thought, England might envy, and which had given to the youth of that nation the inestimable blessings of a good and substantial education. He trusted that no Irish Member would put that system in peril, though it might not be managed in the way he thought best. The denominational system applied to Ireland would constitute no adequate means of education. True, the present system had not worked, as a mixed system, in that general and universal manner intended by its projectors; but, at any rate, it had withdrawn the education of the people from that polemical state of hostility between two rival religions which would be re-established if the present National system should be destroyed. For this reason he was attached to the present system, which every year had been doing its work in educating the people and in purifying the moral atmosphere in Ireland. He believed that at the present moment there was a better feeling between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, and that this system of education had a great deal to do with that matter. He was sure that his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland would attend to this subject with the view of removing any well-founded objections, but with an earnest determination to secure to Ireland the continuance of that system of education which had been the best present England ever gave to Ireland, and the source of the greatest blessings to the latter country.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, in regard to the question so ably brought forward by the hon. Member for Dungarvan—the increase of the salaries of the teachers—it would be most agreeable to him, and, no doubt, it would have been so to his predecessor in office also, if the increase in those salaries could have been larger; but let the Committee consider the difficulty in which those who prepared this Estimate were placed. If any one in office wished to increase the salaries of persons falling within his department, there was another department to be consulted, namely, the Treasury, which, probably, taking a general view of the affairs of the country, would entertain a different opinion on the 390 subject. He did not now wish to argue against the desirability of increasing the small stipends at present enjoyed by the teachers, and if, upon consideration, he should arrive at the conclusion that an in crease should be made in them, he should be most happy to endeavour to persuade the Treasury to take the same view. It should be remembered, however, that the whole remuneration of the teachers was not voted in the Estimates; the allowance was merely in augmentation of the salary fixed by the managers of the schools. An hon. Member had stated that a considerable number of the teachers in these schools had been involved in treasonable practices; but the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone—an able and constant supporter of the National system in Ireland— had given a satisfactory answer to that statement. There were between 5,000 and 6,000 National school teachers in Ireland. Only six were charged with connection with the Phoenix conspiracy. Two were discharged by the magistrates on the ground that there was no proof against them; one was summoned as a witness; one was not in the pay of the Board; in the case of another his school was not tinder the Board, and one was convicted. He was quite sure, therefore, that no charge of disloyalty against the general body of the teachers could reasonably arise. With respect to the general question of education in Ireland, he must say that it was a question of the deepest interest, and to any suggestions calculated, in the opinion of those who made them, to render the National system more efficient as an instrument of utility, and to endear it to the Irish people, it would be his duty and pleasure to listen with attention and deference, come from what quarter they might. It was not his desire—quite the contrary— to weaken the impression that Her Majesty's Government were desirous of adhering to the utmost in their power to those beneficent principles on which this National system was founded and had flourished. There was hope that if those who dealt with this most important question with regard to the highest interests of Ireland dealt with it in that candid, temperate, and dispassionate spirit which had characterized the late discussions, the question might yet be satisfactorily settled.
§ It being ten minutes to four o'clock, the Chairman quitted the chair, and
§ House resumed.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.