§ House in Committee;
§ (18.) £220,722, Public Education in Ireland.
§ MR. CARDWELL,
in rising to move for the sum of £220,722 to complete the total sum of £270,722 for united national education in Ireland, said that the Vote showed an increase of £21,254 over that of the preceding year. Without going into a detailed analysis, he might state that the two main items of this increase consisted in a Vote of £4,000 for the in- 1375 creased expenditure of model schools, and £17,000 for making improved provision for the teachers of the ordinary schools throughout Ireland. The latter item of increase arose from three sources—first, the natural expansion of the system from an increased number of schools, and coupled therewith the extended payment they received after undergoing training in Dublin and receiving a higher class certificate, and the higher salary to which they were entitled as they rose in the scale of acquirements and efficiency. As the schoolmaster was the life and essence of the school, and the value of any system of education depended on the capacity of the schoolmaster, it was satisfactory to observe a gradual increase in this part of the Estimates. Last Session the attention of the Government having been called to this matter by the hon. Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Maguire), they undertook to consider the position of the schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, and to say whether they thought it right to call on the Treasury to increase the remuneration they received. Upon that review the Government determined to demand an increase in the Votes for this purpose, and the sum of £7,000 was included in the Estimate, together with a further sum of £3,500, which, in addition to a small sum in the Estimate of last year, would be applied to increase the income of those masters and mistresses who had served a considerable period of time, complied with the regulations, and obtained certificates of distinguished efficiency. The whole sum now asked for improving the position of schoolmasters and schoolmistresses in Ireland amounted to £10,500. For the education now given in Ireland the total sum asked was £270,722, and any one who compared the results which were produced by the larger expenditure in this country, and the value to the country of the education thus given, would he disposed to think that there were few items of our national expenditure which yielded a better return to the liberality of Parliament than the Vote for which he now asked.
He had observed a feeling growing up that the system of granting large sums of money through Commissioners without any direct control on the part of Parliament required the attention of those whose duty it was to ask for the money. Accordingly, he thought it his duty very soon after he went to Ireland to communicate with the Resident Commissioner on the 1376 expenditure upon two important items—the first, under the head of model schools, which amounted to £30,000 a year; and the other, under the head of agricultural schools, which had repeatedly been the subject of conversation in that House, and with respect to which an engagement had been come to with the House that no new expenditure should be incurred, and that efforts should be made to retrench the existing expenditure on this account. With regard to the model schools, it had been said that they were an innovation upon the plan adopted under Lord Stanley's letter, but so early as the second report made to Parliament, the Commissioners had plainly stated their intentions at that period in respect to the establishment of model schools. They recommended the establishment of 32 district model schools, equal to the number of counties in Ireland, although they subsequently retrenched the number from 32 to 26. At present there were 14 model schools actually in operation, and there were 12 more either in progress or in regard to which the Board were under engagement, making the whole number of model schools 26; of these 17 were training schools, which not only gave a model education to the pupils of the district, but were also available as training establishments for the instruction of pupil teachers, who afterwards themselves became teachers of the young. He stated to the Resident Commissioner that, as the expenditure under this head was of a special character, he thought it right for the Board to abstain in future from any engagements for establishing model schools in local districts until they had communicated with the Government, so that the grounds of the proposed expenditure might be known, and the Government might have an opportunity of submitting an Estimate to the House of Commons before the engagement was entered into. Thirty agricultural schools had ceased to receive money from the Board since January, 1859. Of these, five were model schools six were ordinary schools, and the rest were workhouse schools. It would be satisfactory for the Committee to know that the reason why there was so large a diminution in the workhouse schools was, that the recent improvement in the condition of the people had removed from the workhouses the grown-up boys for whom those schools were originally established. With regard to the great model establishment near Dublin, no doubt, as 1377 an educational establishment, it was an expense to the country and the pupils were a charge upon the Estimates. The arrangement now made was that the pupils at Glasnevin were to be selected by the inspectors from the schools throughout Ireland on the ground of merit, to be tested by examination. The object was to render the situation of an agricultural pupil at Glasnevin an object of ambition, and it was hoped that this competition would exercise a salutary influence throughout the whole of Ireland.
He would now inquire what were the results attained by the system of national education in Ireland. His right hon. Friend who moved the English Estimates the other night said that one of the disadvantages which the Education Committee had to contend with was the denominational nature of the English system, which led to the establishment of a larger number of schools in the same district than were required, and compelled the Government to contribute to more schools than the exigencies of the case demanded. No such evil, however, existed under the united system in Ireland. Taking into consideration the number of pupils trained, and the excellence of the education imparted, it would be found that, although the local contributions bore a much smaller proportion to the sum voted by Parliament in Ireland than in England, yet the Irish system of education was more economical to the country and not less beneficial to the community than the English. It afforded him much pleasure to state that within the last few years the local contributions had increased in a remarkable degree, showing a growing appreciation of and desire to benefit by the system among the people of Ireland. During the last year, the total increase in the number of schools had been eighty-eight, and in the average number of pupils in daily attendance, 3,112. The total number of pupils now receiving education on the national system was no less than 570,000. As he had lately on another debate gone into this subject at some length, he would not fatigue the House with many details. He wished, however, to invite attention to the remarkable and gratifying circumstance that the calculation which the Commissioners made in their first report, as far back as 1835, with regard to the number of children who would require the aid of the National Schools, had been amply fulfilled. They calculated that of 1378 the whole population 1,140,000 would probably be between the ages of seven and thirteen; and that for at least half of that number education would have to be provided by the State. Notwithstanding that that calculation was made on an assumed population of 8,000,000, whereas the actual population of Ireland was only 6,000,000, it precisely corresponded with the number of pupils on the rolls of the National Board for the last year. That the benefits of the system were in the main diffused throughout the country in proportion to the requirements of the community, was proved by the returns. The number of pupils in the different portions of Ireland was as follows: Ulster, 189,000; Leinster, 142,000; Munster, 154,000; Connaught, 84,000. It was also found that in proportion to the manner in which the country was divided in a religious sense, so also did all classes participate in the benefits of the system. It would be remembered that it was with the express desire of carrying a sound and beneficial education into the homes of those whose circumstances rendered them most in need of the assistance of the state that the Commissioners and Committees had endeavoured to obtain the assistance of the state, and it was found that the proportion of Roman Catholic children in attendance at the schools established under the system was 478,000; of Presbyterians, 59,000; of the Church establishment (who for a long period had exhibited a greater determination to educate their own children than any other class of the community), 29,000, and of Dissenters 2,500. But then it was said, "You profess to give an united education, but your education, though nominally united, is practically separate." He denied that that opinion was supported by actual facts. Of 5,411 schools it appeared that 2,911, or 53 per cent were mixed schools, and that of the whole number of 570,000 pupils, 295,000, or 51 per cent, were found in mixed schools. If the inquiry were pursued further it would be found that exactly in proportion as the population was mixed so was the mixture of pupils in the schools. For instance in Ulster, where the population was most mixed, the proportion was 82 per cent; in Leinster, 39 per cent; in Munster, 31 per cent; and in Connaught, 44 per cent. These figures showed that the benefit of the system was universal, and that those who derived by far the largest proportion of it were those for whom it 1379 was mainly intended—the children of the Roman Catholic population. But there were not wanting circumstances of great encouragement as to the other classes. Twelve months had scarcely elapsed since the Wesleyans—a body of men not very numerous, indeed, in Ireland, but very much respected in all parts of the kingdom—gave in their cordial adhesion to the system. Last Christmas the Church Education Society entered into communication with the Government for the purpose of obtaining some relaxation of the rules of the system, which might lead them to abandon the objection they had always theretofore entertained to participating in the benefits of the national education. Their proposal was to place the schools of the society, as to all secular matters, under the Board of National Education—to use its books, to be subject to its inspection, and in every way to conform to its rules, with the single exception that the Scriptures should be used in the education of all the children in attendance, the fullest notice being given to the parents and friends of pupils of the scriptural character of the instruction imparted. In reply to that proposal it became his duty to convey to the society the statement of the Government that two principles had long been recognized both by the Crown and by Parliament as the only principles applicable to the circumstances of Ireland in regard to religious and secular education. The first was that the education given during the school hours must be of so comprehensive a character as not to exclude pupils belonging to any of the Christian churches, and the second was that at the commencement or termination of the school hours the patrons of any schools were free to convey Christian instruction according to their distinctive tenets, provided that no child should be required to receive or to be present at any religious education of which its parents or guardians disapproved. These had been the cardinal and fundamental principles of the system which had been recognized in the Earl of Derby's letter, and in the Reports of the Commissioners, and to which successive Governments, under the sanction of Parliament, had from the commencement adhered. Under these circumstances, the Church Education Society, as a body, did not enter into connection with the system. The letter of the venerable Primate at the head of that body, however, would be 1380 in the memory of the Committee. Everyone knew the deep respect with which every communication proceeding from that source was regarded, not only by the Church, but by the whole community in Ireland; and he could not but entertain the hope that when the momentary feeling had passed away the Church established in Ireland would not be behind the Roman Catholics or Presbyterians in availing themselves of that system of national education, which the liberality of Parliament had placed at the service of the Irish people.
Another communication was received by the Government, which was entitled, on every ground, to the greatest consideration and respect. It was a memorial from the Prelates of that Church, whose members most largely availed themselves of the advantages of the system. That communication asked for no less than this:Such a participation in educational grants for the separate instruction of Catholic children as the numbers and fidelity of the Catholic people, as well as their contributions to sustain the burdens of the State, amply entitle them.It was scarcely necessary to say that that request was as incompatible with the fixed and cardinal principles of the system as the request by the Church Education Society, of which the venerable Prelate was the head. The Government, acting in the spirit and by the direction of Parliament, had no alternative but to return to that request a courteous, yet a firm denial. It was impossible for them to break down, or in the smallest degree to impair those great principles upon which the system had been founded, and upon which it could be alone maintained with efficiency. He had the honour of receiving a rejoinder to the reply, which it was his duty, on the part of the Government, to convey. The rejoinder was most courteous and most able. It was argumentative, and entered into the whole subject at considerable length, but it ended with a renewal of the same request, namely:That the justice and necessity of our claims to a separate system of education for Catholic children shall be fully recognized.He ventured to submit to the Committee that it was by no means clear that, to any man, whatever was the Church to which he belonged, the gift of a separate system of education was a benefit or advantage. On the contrary, as a member of the Eng- 1381 lish Church, he felt that the constant communication with their Roman Catholic and Presbyterian fellow-subjects—with those who were earnest in religion, but different in opinion—was a great advantage both in the cultivation of their intellectual powers and the expansion of their moral feelings. He felt that it would be a most pernicious gift to Ireland if they were to depart from the principles laid down in the first Report, which, was signed by the Duke of Leinster, Archbishop Whately, Archbishop Murray, and Mr. Blake:—We have thus shown to all who choose to road our rules that while we desire to bring Christian children of all denominations together, so that they may receive instruction in common in those points of education which do not clash with any particular religious opinions, we take care that sufficient time shall be set apart for religious instruction; that the Ministers of God's word of all Christian creeds shall have the fullest opportunity of reading and expounding it, and seeing that the children of their respective denominations do really understand it, not only weekly, but daily, if they think proper. It will be, as it always has been, our constant object so to administer the system as to make it acceptable and beneficial to the whole of His Majesty's subjects; to train up and unite the youth of the country, whatever difference of opinion there may be, in feelings and habits of attachment and friendship towards one another, and thus to make it a means of promoting charity and goodwill among all classes of the people.That was emphatically the charter of the system, and from it he believed neither the Government nor Parliament would ever consent for one moment to depart.
There was another argument against a separate system of education in Ireland. In England the principal amount of money was locally contributed, the Government merely granting a sum in aid. By far the largest part of the money in Ireland was the direct gift of the State. It was, therefore, incumbent on the Government which received contributions from all to take care that advantage might be taken of that which they granted by every class in the community. With regard to the interests of the Roman Catholics themselves, he did not believe that the influence which they dreaded, of proselytizing on the part of powerful people, would be as completely excluded from a separate system, as under the authority of Parliament and by the power of the Government it was excluded from the national system. And, further than that, knowing what was the opinion which prevailed in this country with regard to religious endowments, he doubted whether in future years the continuance of 1382 the grant would rest on that adamantine foundation upon which he rejoiced to believe it did rest after the concurrence of Parliament, and the success of the system for thirty years, if it were to appear that these large sums of money were almost exclusively directed to the erection of buildings and the maintenance of teachers for only one portion of the community. He further doubted whether, in those parts where property and social influence were the subject of apprehension to the Roman Catholics, the dangers which they apprehended would not exist in a greater degree than at present, if a separate system were instituted in lieu of a united system of education. That which the Government of Sir Robert Peel stated to the venerable Primate of the Established Church, it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to state to the Prelates of the Roman Catholic Church. "Writing to the venerable Primate in the year 1845, Sir Robert Peel said—I firmly believe that these questions would be asked were the Government to avow its intention of patronizing two systems of public instruction in Ireland, and that it would soon be discovered we must take our choice between the upholding and encouraging of a single system of instruction founded on the principles of that which is now receiving the sanction of the Government and the granting of public aid to at least three different societies in Ireland, by each of which secular instruction should be combined with religious instruction in the particular doctrine of each communion, one in connection with the Established Church, another with the Presbyterian, and a third with the Roman Catholic religion. In such a case all hope of mixed education must be extinguished, and a line of demarcation drawn between children of different religious persuasions more marked than has hitherto existed at any period. Her Majesty's Government deprecate this result as a great public evil.What Sir Robert Peel, in answer to the head of the Established Church, deprecated in 1845, as a great public evil, Her Majesty's present Government deprecated as no smaller public evil in answer to the Prelates of the Roman Catholic Church. As to one so to the other they returned the respectful but firm reply that they had inherited from former Governments, through the liberality and by the authority of Parliament, a system whose cardinal principles it was their duty and desire entirely to support.
But it had been said that Lord Stanley's (the Earl of Derby's) original letter had been departed from and changes had been made which infringed the cardinal principles of the system. He would admit that if he were to form his opinion from Lord 1383 Stanley's letter he should suppose that the noble Lord originally contemplated a system different from that which had actually come into operation. He appeared to have contemplated joint patrons of different Churches applying for the same grant, schools generally vested and part of the teaching by the clergy of the different Churches. Those anticipations if they were formed had certainly not been realized. Neither joint patronage, vesting of schools, nor clerical teaching had been the general rule. It had been otherwise from the commencement. At the end of the first two years it was found that 700 schools were established of which only 70 were vested, and the remainder were non-vested. If it was supposed that instruction was to be exclusively religious at one period of the day and exclusively secular at another, a reference to the earliest history of the system would show that that supposition was founded on error. This was evident from a passage in the letter of Lord Stanley which was the document containing the direction under which the Roman Catholic Archbishop Murray and Mr. Blake consented to give effect to the system. That passage showed conclusively that the combined system, though not a polemical one, was meant to be Christian, und not merely secular. This passage was not in the first version, but the second version of the letter. It was a passage in which the Commissioners had acted from the commencement, and the fact of it being in the revised draught showed the importance which was attached to it, and gave it a still higher authority. This was the passage:—Although it is not designed to exclude from the list of books for the combined instruction such portions of sacred history or of religious or moral teaching as may be approved by the Board—it is to be understood that this is by no means intended to convey a perfect and sufficient religious education—or to supersede the necessity of separate religious instruction on the day set apart for that purpose.A great deal of controversy had arisen on the point whether, for the attendance of children at the specially religious part of the education, it was to be the positive assent of the parents or their negative dissent which was to be required as the test whether or not the children of one Church should be permitted to be present at religious instruction given by teachers of another. It was his own individual opinion that if it had been an established 1384 rule from the first that a register should be kept of every child, and that according to that register the child should be permitted to be present or required to be absent, obeying the precise direction of the parents, no fair objection to such a rule could have been taken; but, as far as he could learn from the records of the system, and from personal inquiries from the officers of the Commission, no such rule had ever existed. The provision which was contemplated from the first for sustaining the parental authority of the parent, was laid down in an explanatory paper addressed by Lord Stanley to a deputation from the Synod of Ulster in these terms:—To introduce the reading or hearing of any such book during the ordinary school hours,—namely, those during which all the children of all denominations are expected to attend, would be a palpable violation of religious liberty of conscience. But there is not (or ever was) any objection to the reading of the Scriptures, or the giving of any other religious instruction, on days and hours to be specified by the local patrons, to those children whose parents choose that they should attend. Those days and hours, however, must be specified, in order to remove from the mind of the Roman Catholic parent the possibility of a suspicion that his children may be influenced to join in studies of which he does not approve.The point to which he wished to direct attention was, that from the first a permissive notice and not compulsory exclusion appeared to be the sanction by which the authority of the parent was to be maintained. The first report of the Commission thus described the practice:—Such extracts from the Scriptures as are prepared under the sanction of the Board may be used, and are earnestly recommended by the Board to be used during those hours allotted to their ordinary school business.…Any arrangement of this description that may be made is to be publicly notified in the schools, in order that those children, and those only, may be present at the religious instruction whose parents or guardians approve of their being so.And in their fourth Report, the Commissioners said:—The principle of the system, and which we consider fundamental and unalterable, is that the National Schools shall be open alike to Christians of all denominations; therefore, that no child shall be required to be present at any religious instruction or exercise, of which his parents or guardians may disapprove; and that opportunities shall be afforded to all children to receive separately, at particular periods, such religious instruction as their parents or guardians may provide for them.But a still higher authority had spoken on 1385 the subject. It had become necessary for Parliament to provide for the religious education of children in workhouses; and in making that provision he had no doubt that Parliament intended to apply the principle of the National Schools to the religious education in workhouses. This was the language of the Act:—No order shall authorize the education of any child in any religious creed, other than that professed by his parents, or surviving parent of such child; and to which such parents or parent shall object.The inference which he drew from these passages was, that at that period the same amount of importance was not attached to the difference between the negative and positive assent in the direction of the parent as had subsequently arisen; and he also maintained that the public notice to the parent was the sanction by which the authority of the parent was intended from the beginning to be enforced. Whether it would have been wise or not to adopt a different plan, he would not now inquire; but, in point of fact, it would be an innovation if a rule were laid down which placed any compulsion by the patrons of a school on a child in reference to the observance of that requirement. When Archbishop Whately was examined before a Committee of the House of Lords, he said:If the children, with the consent of their parents, choose to attend, whether the parents are Protestant or Roman Catholics, the religious catechist has no business at all to inquire. He may give his instruction to all who choose to receive it. It has never been required by the Commissioners, nor ever contemplated, that a person shall be bound to inquire before he receives any child into his class for a religious instruction, what his persuasion is. He is allowed to give religious instruction according to his own principles to all the children whose parents choose that they should attend; and he is not bound to ask any questions—'Are you a Protestant, or are you a Catholic?'A great deal had been said about the differences between the letters addressed to the applicant in the case of the Temple Meeting-house School, and the report of the Board, setting forth the terms on which the Correen School was taken into connection—one of which seemed to lay down the affirmative, and the other the negative assent. But these were both written by the same person, Mr. Blake; and they were treated by the Commissioners as being sufficiently on all fours for the purposes of their decision. On the whole, an examination of the various papers led 1386 to this conclusion—that at first the same amount of importance was not attached to the difference between a positive and a negative assent, as was now attached to it.
He would next turn to another point of the case, and inquire whether the facts connected with the working of the National system justified the suspicion of proselytism in any part of Ireland. There were at present between 5,500 and 5,600 schools under the Board; of which, in round numbers, about 1,600 were vested and 4,000 non-vested. The real practical difference between vested and non-vested schools was that to a vested school the clergy of all denominations had that right of access plainly contemplated in the original letter of Lord Stanley, but which right was very rarely exercised; because it seldom happened where the patron was of one denomination, that the clergy of another attended to give separate religious instruction to the pupils. The returns of the last year showed that of the whole number of schools no less than 3,683 were under Roman Catholic patrons; of every 100 pupils 84 were Roman Catholics; of every 100 teachers 80 were Roman Catholics; and of every £100 paid to teachers, £80 was paid to Roman Catholics. That showed that by far the larger part of the benefits of the system was conferred, as it had been intended to be conferred, on the Roman Catholics. Of 478,000 Roman Catholic scholars, no fewer than 428,000 were in Roman Catholic schools. It only remained to account for the 50,000 Roman Catholic pupils in schools under the control of Protestant patrons. He believed it was admitted that no case of actual proselytism had ever been substantiated since the commencement of the National system; but the complaint was, that in certain parts of Ireland thousands of children were subjected to proselytizing tendencies. Now, in regard to the 50,000 Roman Catholic children receiving education in Protestant schools, for no less than 33,000 of them the Protestant patrons had appointed Roman Catholic teachers. That fact furnished no light testimony of the spirit in which Protestant patrons had acted in this matter. The remaining 17,000 Roman Catholic children were distributed in rather more than 800 schools, and amounted to about 3½ per cent of the whole number of Roman Catholic pupils. Were these 17,000 children receiving an education which their parents would not wish them to re- 1387 ceive? A most careful examination had been made by the Inspectors, the result of which was that the whole number who had joined in the Scriptural classes under Protestant teachers was only 1,816—a percentage almost inappreciable out of the entire 478,000 Roman Catholic children connected with the National system. A still more important fact had yet to be stated Under the old modes of instruction which preceded the present system, the practice with regard to Roman Catholic children joining in the Protestant Scriptural education was quite different in Ulster from that which prevailed in the other provinces of Ireland. The National system, so far from having induced Roman Catholic children to join in the common education, under Protestant teachers, of a separate religious character, was annually producing the opposite effect, and the whole number of children so joining was constantly diminishing. The object, therefore, which the Earl of Derby had in view of excluding not only proselytism, but the suspicion of proselytism, was actually attained. There were altogether 91,000 Protestant children under the Board. Of these 15,000, or 17 per cent, were receiving their education under the control of Roman Catholic teachers. They were dispersed in 1,964 different schools, giving an average of seven for each school. The Roman Catholic children in Protestant schools, on the other hand, were dispersed in 800 schools, giving an average of more than 20 for each school. Assuming that the religious zeal of the teachers was equal on both sides, he asked whether the danger of proselytism was likely to be greater where the child was one of seven or one in 20 in a school, such school being subject to inspection, and it being the particular duty of the inspector to prevent such practices. If, then, there had been no individual case of psoselytism proved, or even specifically alleged, in the case of Roman Catholic children; and if no apprehension of it existed in the case of Protestant children, the success of the system must be placed beyond dispute? Well, was this a system which made the people of Ireland indifferent to their religion? Would anybody say that the language of the resident Commissioner was not true when he said that never was there a time in which the religious feeling of the Irish people was stronger or more profitable for good than at the present time? Could anybody say that the operation of the National sys- 1388 tem had been to undermine the faith and disturb the religious convictions of the population of the country? On the contrary, he believed with those who had watched the working of the system narrowly, that there never was a time, either as regarded the Protestants or Roman Catholics, when religious feeling burned more brightly in the bosoms of the Irish people. But the attention of the Board had been called to the circumstance that the distribution of the inspectors was not deemed altogether satisfactory, and an alteration had accordingly either been or was about to be made in that particular, in order that, by sending the Roman Catholic inspectors into the districts in which they were in a minority, security might be afforded that in no case could abuse arise without its coming to their knowledge. He maintained, then, from the history and practical working of the system, that it could not be charged with introducing that proselytism, or suspicion of proselytism, which it was its object to prevent. On the contrary, it had given a sound Christian instruction of an united character to the population, and had imparted to them as mixed an education as the circumstances of Ireland entitled us to expect. But, while that was his opinion, and while the Government had declared their firm and unalterable attachment to the principles upon which the system was founded, they had also expressed their readiness to examine the system for the purpose of seeing whether any alteration ought to be made.
There were one or two points in which the Government thought some change would be right, and advantageous to the system itself. They believed, in the first place, that the constitution of the Board was a matter of great and just objection to Roman Catholics. They thought that, the Roman Catholics having so large a proportion of pupils, and having so great an interest in the well-being of the system, it would be reasonable that their number at the Board should be raised to an equality. The principle of equality had already been admitted by former Governments in regard to the inspectors and the administration of the system, and he did not understand why there should be any difficulty in carrying into effect the same principle of equality in that which was, after all, the great and important governing body of the whole. No member of any Church could say that it was unreasonable to provide that the number of Roman Catholic members of the 1389 Board should be equal to that of their Protestant brethren. A question had also been raised with regard to the vesting of the schools. Originally the schools were vested, as in England, in trustees, and there appeared to be no reason why, instead of being vested in the Board as a corporation, the schools assisted by the State should not be vested in trustees, the terms of the trust-deeds being such as to secure the observance of the two cardinal principles of the system in a manner satisfactory to the Board and their legal advisers. Again, a great desire had been expressed for a revision of the books. He believed the books had fulfilled in the main the recommendation of the Commissioners in 1825—a recommendation which Archbishop Murray and his colleagues had made their own by adopting it in their second report, where they said:—In such selection of books for the new schools we doubt not but it will be found practicable to introduce not only a number of books in which moral principles will be inculcated in such a manner as is likely to make deep and lasting impressions on the youthful mind, but also ample extracts from the sacred Scriptures themselves, an early acquaintance with which we deem of the utmost importance, and, indeed, indispensable in forming the mind to just notions of duty and sound principles of conduct.It was not the intention of the Commissioners, and it certainly would not meet the approbation of Parliament, that in any revision of the books the religious element should be impaired. It was intended that the Christian teaching which did not clash with the distinctive opinions of the Churches should continue to pervade the books which constituted the ordinary instruction of the system, giving to the united youth of Ireland that common Christian impulse from their earliest years which would make them good members of society and happy in themselves. The use of the books was not compulsory, because there was now an option to use other books, provided they had the sanction of the Board. He believed, however, they were used throughout the country to an extent which could scarcely be exceeded if their use was compulsory, and they were also to be found in the Colonies and where-ever the English language was spoken. Nevertheless, it was the opinion of the Resident Commissioner and others that after so long a period some change might well be made, in order to render the books more suited to the advances which had 1390 been in various branches of knowledge, since they were drawn up, and also more acceptable to the Irish people. There was, for example, an almost entire absence of all reference to subjects of Irish interest, and he thought it would be easy to introduce much in connection with Irish topics without importing at the same time anything either of a polemical or a political character. It was the intention of the Commissioners to appoint a Committee of their own body for the purpose of revising the books in the spirit he had indicated.
There was another point to which he wished to refer. In various mountainous regions of Ireland the rule which required an average attendance of thirty before assistance could be received from the State operated prejudicially and unjustly, and a change in that rule would likewise be found convenient in the case of those schools which might be expected, in consequence of the Primate's letter, to place themselves for the first time in connection with the National system. The Commissioners proposed to establish a rule which, while it might lead to some increased expense, would do justice to the smaller schools throughout the country. There were some other minor points upon which he had been requested to intimate an opinion, although the Government were not prepared to recommend any change with respect to them. One was better provision for separate religious teaching. If by that was meant that the same access to non-vested schools should be given to clergymen of all denominations as was now enjoyed in the case of vested schools, he was afraid that it would be difficult to meet a proposal of that kind with an answer in the affirmative. Objections would be raised on both sides, and such an alteration would tend rather to undermine the system than to add to its efficiency. It had been said that the rule with respect to worship allowed in schools, though equally applicable to all, was in its operation unjust. That rule had two aspects. With regard to vested schools the intention of Parliament as he understood it was that no public aid should be given towards the building of an edifice which, while nominally a school, was really a place of worship. The case of the non-vested schools was somewhat different; and with respect to them it would be for the Board to consider whether any alteration could be introduced with ad- 1391 vantage, rather than for the Government to make a change which might he productive of evil. So with regard to the assistance given to nuns' schools. The allowance had recently been increased, and the Board might go further in the same direction if they thought fit. But all amendments of the system in these and other respects turned upon the composition of the Board. As the schoolmaster was the essence of the school, so the Board was the life of the entire system, and the principle which the Government upheld was that the Roman Catholics were entitled to an equal share of representation at the Board. That once settled most of the other changes would naturally he left to the discretion of the reconstituted Board. He had only to say in conclusion, that in dealing with this most difficult subject the Government had endeavoured to do that which was just, and had given to it all the consideration in their power with a view to the attainment of that object. By difficulties this system had been surrounded from its earliest hour. Those difficulties it had surmounted year by year; it had gained greater power and greater influence with the people whom it was designed to serve. With difficulties he feared that it would always more or less have to contend, but those difficulties would, he believed, diminish in proportion to its growth, and it would owe its maintenance and preservation to the firm support which it had received from the House of Commons, to the strong and growing desire of the people for the excellent education which it supplied, and he sincerely hoped to the moderation of those who had influence over the people of Ireland, from which it had derived so much advantage, and to which it had in a great degree been indebted for its development. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Vote.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
I must admit, Sir, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland has treated this subject with the gravity which it deserves; for it is a subject which is one of the most important to the interests, the welfare, and the social happiness of Ireland, and one, too, which enlists the sympathies and commands the attention of all classes of the community. I cannot undertake to say at the present moment, how far the changes now proposed by Her Majesty's Government will, or ought to, satisfy the Catholic people of Ireland; but if I may venture 1392 to express my individual opinion, I hold that the Commissioners have, by maladministration and by unworthy weakness; by fatal concessions on the one hand and stern rigidity on the other, so compromised themselves and got the whole system into such a wretched and irretrievable mess, that there is only one mode of solving the difficulty—namely, by boldly cutting the Gordian knot, and changing the system from a mixed or united system, to one separate or denominational.
Before I proceed farther, I desire to be clearly understood on one point. I am not opposed to, hut on the contrary, in favour of, the machinery of a National system for the education of the mass of the people. By that I mean a central and controlling body, administering the funds provided by the State in aid of local efforts, and securing to the State and the country, by a well organized plan of inspection, that the funds so provided shall be really applied to the benefit of those for whose advantage they are contributed. To the educational machinery of the National Board I am not opposed; but to the principle of the existing system, of which we now have had an experience of thirty years, I decidedly am. I readily admit that this educational machinery has done enormous and incalculable good; I admit that it has been of immense advantage to Ireland; but I am prepared to show that it is not the mixed system which has done that good, and conferred that benefit,—that, on the contrary, where the mixed system really exists, which is in only one of the four Provinces of Ireland, it has been productive of disputes and contentions, of rancour and ill-feeling, of aggression on the one side and resistance on the other. Such were the evils resulting from the mal-administration of this system, that I felt it my duty to call the attention of Parliament to their existence in the Session of 1858; and it is only now that the Government seem to have roused themselves to attention, and propose changes when perhaps it is too late to effect any real good. What is the history of the system of National Education in Ireland? The Royal Commission of 1812 recommended the adoption of a system of education "from which should be banished even the suspicion of proselytism." In 1828 an exclusively Protestant House of Commons declared—That no system can be expedient which may be calculated to influence or disturb the peculiar 1393 religious tenets of any sect or denomination of Christians.In the system established by Lord Stanley, in 1831, it was provided that while moral and literary instruction might be given in common, religious education was to be given separately, and that it was to be such as was approved of by the clergy of the respective persuasions of the children—thus fully recognizing and acknowledging the pastoral authority, which the Commissioners have since ignored, and against which they have set up what they term "parental authority"—which, so far as it is capable of affording protection to Catholic children in the school of an aggressive patron, is a more sham and a delusion. In his celebrated Letter of 1831, which may be termed the charter of the National System, Lord Stanley gave the Catholics of Ireland this assurance—That while the interests of religion are not overlooked, the most scrupulous care should be taken not to interfere with the peculiar tenets of any description of Christian pupils.From the first moment of its formation the Board—consisting of a Protestant majority—commenced that system of modification, adverse to Catholic interests, which has been persevered in to this hour. Yes, from the very moment the Commissioners found themselves secure in their seats, and felt they had acquired sufficient strength, they began to nibble at, alter, and modify the original system, so that it gradually, year after year, became adverse to the interests of Catholics, and favourable to those of the other denominations? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland states that the books are to be revised. I ask, is not that practical admission of error on the part of the Commissioners a triumphant answer to those who have raised a howl against the Catholic Bishops, because of their objection to these books, as being Protestant in their character, in their tone, and in their tendency. I shall proceed to show what is the real nature of the books of the National Board, and in doing so I shall quote a passage from the rejoinder of the Bishops to the answer of the Government; and for that document, emanating as it does from the united Prelacy of the Irish Church, I am not afraid to challenge the keenest scrutiny of any hon. Gentleman in this House—for a more able, temperate, argumentative, and conclusive statement, I certainly have never read. This is the description given by the Catholic Bishops of books 1394 which are mainly intended for the use of the Catholic children of Ireland who constitute the six-sevenths of the pupils under the National Board:—As to the other books in general use in the National Schools, they contain much matter in the nature of combined religious instruction—at once exposing Catholics to danger, and opposed to the principle you lay down. Though destined principally for Catholic use, all those books, in as far as they treat of history, philosophy, morality, and devotional matters—(and all these subjects are introduced into the National School books)—have been compiled by Protestants, who give an anti-Catholic colouring to their pages, omitting matters considered necessary by us, and insinuating or teaching dangerous errors. For example, where there is question of sin, the Catholic doe-trine of contrition and confession is passed over, and something else suggested in its place. Private judgment is referred to, where we appeal to Ecclesiastical authority, and the Scriptures seem to be made the only rule of faith, to the exclusion of the decisions of the Church of God. In the historical chapters there is no mention whatever of the Holy See and its beneficent influence on religion; so that after going through the whole course, a child would not know that there was a Catholic Church in the world, or that the great majority of the people of Ireland, and of all Christians were Catholics. Indeed, the history of our country and of its religion is altogether omitted; and the compilers of the National School books appear to have determined to leave the rising Catholic generations in Ireland without any knowledge of their forefathers in the faith, and without any traditions whatsoever of country or family to console, to cheer, and to excite them to virtue.The first paid Commissioner, Dr. Carlisle, a Scotch Presbyterian, prepared, for the use of Catholic children, certain school books, amongst these Scripture Lessons, and Sacred Poetry. The lessons were selected exclusively from the writings of Protestant and Presbyterian divines, and the poetry was equally selected from the works of Protestant and Dissenting authors. Previous to 1853, the objection of any one parent to the use of these books by his children, banished them from the school; but, since then, the rule—which, like all other rules, has been relaxed in a spirit adverse to Catholics—restricts their use to those children whose parents do not object to them. They are used in the majority of the model schools, in which the authority of the pastor is set at defiance, and that of the Government, or the Board, is supreme. They may be used in the schools of Protestant and Presbyterian managers, of mixed schools, and in that case they can be, and are, explained to Catholic children in an anti-Catholic spirit. These books I say, cannot now be banish- 1395 ed from a school, as a portion of combined instruction, so long as a single pupil does not object to use them. In the year ending March, 1853, these Scripture Extracts were read, as a portion of combined instruction, in 1804 schools—or 42 per cent of all the schools in Ireland. The majority of these schools were under Protestant teachers, and were attended by thousands of Catholic pupils. "The Supplement to the Fourth Book," say the Board, "contains several essays on religious subjects by Archbishop Whately, and other eminent divines." Let us now see the use that can be, and is, made of these books in mixed schools. "During the lessons," says the mistress of a Belfast Female National School (quoted by the Rev. Mr. Campbell, in his evidence in 1854, "During the lessons from the ordinary books of the Board, opportunities do occur which can be, and which are, taken advantage of, to instil religious instruction without suspicion." She added," says Mr. Campbell, "who is to take notice of this?" "The ordinary books," Mr. Campbell states, "contain religious instruction of a certain character, and to a certain amount, sufficient to give a teacher an opportunity of branching off from it, and giving peculiar religious instruction, if so disposed." And yet, notwithstanding evidence like this, those who denounced this system of instruction were stigmatized as bigots and fanatics, and the enemies of education. As to separate religious instruction, the original rule was, that—One or two days in the week be set apart for giving, separately, such religious education to the children as may be approved of by the clergy of their respective persuasions. The Commissioners will also permit and encourage the clergy to give religious instruction to the children of their respective persuasions, either before or after the ordinary school hours, on the other days of the Week.Liberty was secured to the pastors of the children to assemble their respective flocks in the school-room if they saw fit. The Presbyterians, at the Synod of Ulster in 1843, for their own purposes, attacked this principle of the right of the clergy to decide as to the religious teaching to be given to the children of their own flock; and the Board, yielding to the pressure, substituted the principle of parental authority in its stead. The original rule, or guarantee, was thus alluded to by an eminent Prelate of the Catholic Church, who is often quoted in vindication of the National system:— 1396 Dr. Doyle, in a circular, dated 26th December, 1831, says:—These terms are not, perhaps, the very best that could be devised, but they are well suited to the especial circumstances of this distracted country. They provide for the religious instruction of children by their respective pastors, or persons appointed for that purpose by them, as often as those pastors can deem it necessary. This instruction shall he given on one or two days in the week, and may be given, as I hope it will, every day.In 1837, the Rev. Mr. Carlisle and Mr. Blake both state that the school-houses should be granted for separate religious instruction; that a religious body—meaning nuns or monks—would be bound by the rules to give their school for the purposes of separate religious teaching to Protestants; that an engagement to this effect was required from all without distinction; and that if they refused they would be struck off the list. This rule was opposed by the Presbyterians, and several of their schools were withdrawn in consequence. It continued in force till 1840, when it was rescinded. As to the time for giving religious instruction, the Board abandoned the day (exclusive of Sunday), and changed it to part of a day, and then gave that up to conciliate the Presbyterians, whose object was to exclude the priest from all access to Catholic children in non-Catholic schools. This was in 1840. In that object they have entirely succeeded; for I challenge the Attorney General to mention a single school under Presbyterian teaching, and in which there are Catholic children, to which a Catholic priest is admitted for the purpose of giving religious instruction to those children. Where, then, is the guarantee given to the Catholics of Ulster in the Letter of Lord Stanley and by the original rules of the National Board? It has been yielded to the resistance of one of the most aggressive and anti-Catholic of all denominations, by the cowardly weakness of the Commissioners. I now come to a most important feature in this case, and will proceed to show how the Commissioners have altered one of the fundamental rules of the Board to the prejudice of Catholics. I refer now to the substitution of exclusion for non-compulsion. The Secretary for Ireland has dealt with this question; but I must confess, so did he refine and split hairs on the "positive" and "negative" interpretation of the rules, that, had I not a clear light to guide me through the labyrinth, I should be utterly bewildered by his ingenuity. I shall 1397 not indulge in hair-splitting or special pleading, but I think I can prove by the clearest evidence that the original rule was an honest protection to the helpless child and the ignorant or dependent parent, and that the altered rule is an utter sham. I assert the original rule was to exclude children of a different denomination during religious instruction. In 1833, the Board thus reply to an application from the Rev. Mr. Love, of the county Armagh:—The Commissioners desire me to observe that it is of the essence of their rules that religious instruction should be given only at the time specifically appointed for that purpose; and that children whose parents do not direct them to be present at it, should previously retire.There is no refining here—everything is plain and honest. Later in the same year were issued the Regulations and Directions; and under sec. iii, rule 4, it was ordered that—Any arrangement for religious instruction that may be made is to be publicly notified in the schools, in order that those children, and those only, may be present at the religious instruction, whose parents and guardians approve of their being so.Up to December, 1839, patrons of schools applying for aid had to give an answer in the affirmative to the following query:—Will you take care that no children be present at any religious instruction or exercise, except those whose parents consent to their being-present?In 1837, Mr. Blake, in allusion to this rule, says:—Our object is, in short, both with respect to Protestants and Catholics, to prevent tricking the children of one communion into attendance when religious instruction is being given to the other. Our rule is, they shall go away.And the Rev. Mr. Carlisle says:—The view of the Board was, that when religious instruction was going on of the one party, there were to be no others present.Who can deny that this was the meaning and object of the rule? This is set forth in the original trust deeds and bonds by which the legal tenure of the schools built by them was held. Again and again is this precautionary rule re-affirmed and set forth; and in 1838, the Commissioners of Education, alluding to the clause in the Poor Law Act, by which Proselytism is effectually guarded against, state:—N.B.—The principle of the Commissioners as to religious instruction is the same as that laid 1398 down for education in the workhouses, by the Act for the more effectual relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland, 1 & 2 Vict., c. 56, s. 49: And be it enacted, that no order of the Commissioners, nor bye law, shall authorize the education of any child in such workhouse in any religious creed other than that professed by the parents or surviving parent of such child.'Again, in 1840, the principle enunciated in 1833, in answer to the Rev. Mr. Love, is emphatically referred to and reiterated. And in 1841, they inform Lord De Grey that—The days and hours for religious instruction must be specified, in order to remove from the mind of the Roman Catholic parent the possibility of a suspicion that his children may be influenced to join in studies of which he does not approve.I say the rule so often laid down, so often re-affirmed, and so often explained, was a fair and honest guarantee, one conceived in a loyal and generous spirit; and if the mixed system were to be the only system of the country, and if the books were such as could not be objected to by Catholics, then Catholics, when compelled to attend a mixed school, would enjoy as much protection as it was possible they could have under a system of the kind. Let us now see the manner in which this protection was surrendered by those whom the State appointed to be the guardians of this great educational system. In 1847, the Commissioners, then incorporated by charter, believed themselves to be in a position to make a radical change in this their fundamental rule, which involved, as they said, the vital "essence" of the principle of separate religious education, and they did so with the view of conciliating a certain party, and adding an additional feather to their caps. The Catholics of Ireland had made the system what it was, they made it by prodigious sacrifices—the same sacrifices, as I can prove by official documents, as are this moment being made by the Catholic clergy and people in the poorer districts of this country, in order, with the miserable assistance afforded by the State, to give the blessings of a good education to the most needy and destitute of the population. The Catholics of Ireland were those who made the National system, who gave it strength, and form, and power; others assailed, or sought to undermine it. The Commissioners felt they had the Catholics in their hand, at their mercy; and it was in the year when famine prevailed in Ireland, when the first thought of the population was how to procure the 1399 first necessaries of life; it was then the Commissioners yielded to the importunity of Archdeacon Stopford, and gave up the very essence of the system at his bidding. To propitiate him and those he represented, they gave to the rule the desired gloss, substituting non-compulsion for positive exclusion. Is there any doubt as to the fact? If so, there is evidence which will bring conviction home to every mind that is not closed against the truth. Archdeacon Stopford is examined in 1854, when he says:—Previously to 1847, I did not think myself justified in joining the Board. The objection, in point of principle, which I had was to the rule which appeared to me to require that the patron of a school should be made the instrument of a parent, in removing children from religious instruction. I do not conceive that I laboured under any misapprehension. I did not put a different interpretation on the rule to that which was given by the Board—the rule was altered to meet my views.Mr. M'Cready is asked, in 1854, as to the rule in question:—What was the practical construction? Was it left practically to the teacher to put them out, or was it left to parental authority to enforce itself?He thus replies:—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.He is asked:—Do you believe that this modification, or this explanation of the meaning of that ambiguous rule, with reference to the attendance of the children has met with universal satisfaction?I beg the Attorney General's attention to his reply, which puts the matter in the clearest light:—It has very generally satisfied the Protestants, and it was, I may say, at their instance it was so explained; but I do not think that it is perfectly satisfactory to some Roman Catholics. If they were consulted (which they were not), I believe they would recur to the old interpretation put by some upon the rule, that the children, whose parents do not personally approve of their being present, should not be allowed to remain during the time of religious instruction.In the rules re-cast in 1855, it is distinctly laid down that patrons, managers, and teachers are not required to exclude any children from instruction given in the school; but the children "may withdraw," and parents are to adopt measures to prevent their attendance thereat. Archdeacon Stopford declares, in 1854, before a Committee of the other House of Parliament, 1400 that this rule was altered to meet his view, and Mr. M'Cready admits the very same; and yet the Secretary for Ireland gravely assures us to-night, as he did on a former occasion, that the fundamental and cardinal principles on which the system was originally established had never been departed from, never radically altered. I assert, on the contrary, that these fundamental principles have been disgracefully departed from; and the hour of weakness, when the Catholic population had scarcely any thought but for self-preservation, was the time chosen by the Protestant Commissioners, who rule the Board, to strike the blow. No change in the "cardinal" principles of the system! Was there no change when the clear and plain honest rules which compelled exclusion from religious teaching of an adverse nature was abolished, and patrons, managers, and teachers were told that they were not required to exclude any child, and that retiring or remaining was left to the child, or to the child's parent? Left to the decision of poor helpless children, as powerless as susceptible of dangerous impressions; left to their parents, who may be poor labouring men, either totally ignorant, depending upon the patrons of hostile schools, or only thinking of how they are to live? The honest vigilance guaranteed by the State is thus abandoned, pastoral control is ignored, and parental authority—for which Mr. M'Cready is so solicitous—is established in place of both. Let ns now sec how this change, which we are told is no change, really works. The Archdeacon states, in his evidence, that all the Catholic children in his school always attended the religious instruction, which consisted of "reading and explaining the Scriptures." Mr. M'Cready says, in 1854, in answer to the question whether Catholic children are directed to withdraw, by putting up the board giving notice when the Bible is used:—It is required by the rules of the Board that they should have such notice given them, but not that they should be directed to withdraw.He adds:—In many parts of the North of Ireland the Roman Catholics read the Scriptures with the Protestants and Presbyterians.The "non-exclusion" rule is thus further described:—It is not required by the rules of the Board for the teacher or the patron to do anything more than put up the tablet, the children being left to 1401 themselves to withdraw or not to withdraw, as they think proper.Dr. Cooke, of Belfast, having been asked whether in the Presbyterian schools there were Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, answered in the affirmative; adding, that in all all those schools the Roman Catholic children remained during the time of prayer, and were not only present at the reading of the Scriptures, but read them as other children did; and he went on to say-that the existing, as compared with the Kildare Place system, was productive of much good, the use of the Catechism being allowed within school hours under the former, while it was prohibited under the latter system. Similar evidence had been given by the Rev. Mr. Campbell with respect to fifty-five schools in and near Belfalst; other witnesses stated that the Presbyterians were connected with the-National Schools on their own conditions. Dean Kennedy, in his evidence, acknowledged that Roman Catholic children were receiving a great amount of Scriptural education in his schools, and wound up by declaring that he thought the principles of the National Board were the principles of the Reformation, Here, then, we are told—not by Catholics, not by Catholic Bishops, but by Protestant and Presbyterian clergymen—that, under the protecting shadow of this National system, from whose cardinal principles the Irish Secretary assures us there has been no departure whatever, they can impart religious teaching to Catholic children more fully and effectually than under the Church Education Society, or under the Kildare Place System—that which stunk in the nostrils of a past generation. "The principles of the Reformation!"—these are the principles in which a Catholic people are educated, under a system which was not to he tainted by "the possibility of the suspicion of proselytism." The right hon. Gentleman glanced very lightly at the fact that 1,800 Catholic children, as he said—the number being nearer to 2,400—were receiving religious instruction, in violation of the "fundamental and cardinal" principles of the National System, in the Presbyterian and Protestant schools in the North of Ireland. I ask, is not this single fact, not to say a departure from the original principles, but a violent rending asunder of the entire system as founded by Lord Stanley? Separate religious teaching was solemnly guaranteed to the Catholics of Ireland; and upon that guarantee 1402 they placed a generous confidence in the system; and yet we have the official organ of the Government openly admitting that 1,800 Catholic children are now receiving religious instruction from those who are hostile to the religion and the Church to which these children belong. The Presbyterians of Ulster have very strong religious opinions; and I feel sure they are sincere in their belief, and in their maintenance of them; but they are the most aggressive against the Catholic Church, and most intolerant towards its doctrines. In fact, they deal with religious questions, especially those affecting their Catholic brethren, in a spirit of acrimony and sectarian malice that is, in my opinion, a scandal to Christianity. And yet the Commissioners allow teachers of this violent and aggressive character to explain the sacred Scriptures to Catholic children. But am I to take these figures, or any figures given to us by the Commissioners, as conclusive on any point? When the right hon. Gentleman makes a statement upon his own personal knowledge, I am perfectly ready to believe in his accuracy, and to rely implicitly upon his honour and truthfulness; but I am not prepared to extend the same degree of confidence to the Commissioners, because they have been already guilty of what I hold to be a scandalous fraud and an abominable cheat [Oh, oh!] I repeat, a scandalous fraud and an abominable cheat—and I use the terms advisedly, and will proceed to justify them. What are the facts? Mr. Keenan, one of the Head Inspectors, after having officially visited certain districts in Ulster, made his report to the Board. In that report, which, like other documents of the kind, was intended for the instruction and guidance of Parliament, and the information of the country, Mr. Keenan stated that Catholic children in great numbers were attending religious teaching in the Presbyterian and Protestant schools of that province. And what, let me ask, did the Commissioners do on receipt of this information—information of the highest value to Parliament, to the country, to the Catholics of Ireland? They presented the report of their Head Inspector to the Houses of Parliament; but they first took care to tear out the page which contained this startling and all-important fact. I first mentioned this scandalous conduct in this House in 1858, and it was scarcely credited by some hon. Gentlemen, so monstrous did it seem to them; but my right hon. Friend, the Member for Lime- 1403 rick (Mr. Monsell), moved for a copy of the passage of the report not given by the Commissioners, and the return was granted. The Catholic Bishops refer, in their able Rejoinder, to the mysterious omission of the passage, which they quote as follows:—In all the schools which I visited in Belfast that were taught by Presbyterian teachers, the practice prevailed of giving common religious instruction to all—none of them retiring. Indeed, it is pretty general throughout the counties of Antrim and Londonderry; but I never observed it to prevail in any other part of the country. By this practice, religious instruction is separate as to time, but not as to the distinction of the denominations whilst religious instruction is going on. I have brought these different practices already under the notice of the Board in my ordinary reports.What is to be thought of educated and accomplished gentlemen who are guilty of so gross a breach of official duty—of so paltry a cheat upon the confidence or the credulity of a people? Why, Sir, if a miserable bankrupt or insolvent tore out of his account-books a page which he wished to conceal from the Court, he would be remanded for six months. And yet we are told to place confidence in the figures and statements of gentlemen who deliberately concealed a fact of this magnitude from the knowledge of Parliament and the country. Mr. Keenan reminds the Commissioners that he had already brought these practices under their notice in his ordinary reports; but their answer is—an official extinguisher on the truth, too dangerous to be made known to the Catholics of Ireland. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman asks me to trust the figures of the Commissioners, my answer is this—would not men who are proved to have acted in the manner I have described, also condescend to "cook" statistics? I, for one, can place no faith in any statement made by the Commissioners.
I now come to the question of proselytism, upon which I desire to be clearly understood. I am prepared to admit that no Roman Catholics have been made Protestants or Presbyterians under the present system; but I am not so much of a bigot as not to be of this opinion—that it would be much better that they should become good Protestants or good Presbyterians, than that they should grow up unbelievers and contemners of everything sacred; and the most effectual way to bring about this fatal condition of indifference or infidelity, is to undermine, while they are young and impressionable, 1404 their belief in the truth and holiness of the religion in which they were brought up, and which their parents professed. I assert there is that which every Christian man must hold to be far worse than change of faith—that is secret contempt for every form of religious belief; for once bring a person to think that what he has been taught to respect in his chilhood as sacred is a falsehood and an imposture, and what has he to rest upon?—what trust can he have in himself, or what trust can others have in him. The Bishops thus allude to this subject in their Rejoinder:—When we speak of proselytism, we do not mean that those who are exposed to it always openly change their religion. We speak of the dangers to faith, and of the lessening of faith by attending at anti-Catholic instruction. A person may be inspired with feelings of deep hostility to his Church without wishing to abandon it.Indifferentism is the very least evil which can spring out of this adverse religious teaching; and this is a state of mind in which I feel assured no hon. Gentleman would wish to see the youth of the country grow up. The great majority of the people of Ireland are Catholics; and would it not be the greatest curse that ever befel that country if, through this system of so-called national education, any considerable number of them should be taught by Protestant teachers to despise their own religion, and should become infidels and unbelievers.
I now come to the model schools, which are at this moment being forced upon Catholic districts, against the expressed wishes, and in face of the strenuous opposition, of the Catholic Bishops. They are now being forced upon the Catholic towns of Sligo and Enniscorthy, notwithstanding the denunciation of the Bishops of the diocese; and the right hon. Gentleman well knows that another is being forced upon the Catholics of Cork, although the Bight Rev. Dr. Delany, the Bishop of Cork, has strenuously protested against it. The Secretary for Ireland has, no doubt, acquired very extensive knowledge of the country since his official connection with it; but he must necessarily be a stranger to it when compared with the Catholic Bishops, who know what is best for the interests of their flocks, and from what quarter dangers are to be apprehended. He is not, like them, authorized to speak in the name of the Catholics of Ireland. What do the Bishops say with respect to those model schools, and the manner in 1405 which they are conducted? As regards the model schools, they say, in their Rejoinder, that they cannot concur in the praise of their impartiality—that in the infant schools the teachers are frequently persons who cannot fail to give an anti-Catholic bias to their little pupils; and with regard to the great model and training institution in Marlborough Street, where, above all places, justice and impartiality was to be expected; in this institution the Catholic children were seven times as numerous as the Protestant, yet the teaching body were for the far greater part Protestants; so that the future fate of the Catholic religion in Ireland, as far as regarded the future instructors of its youth, was left in great part to the mercy of men who perhaps swear that it is idolatrous, or are ignorant of its tenets. Would any Protestant fellow-subject, say the Bishops, if the case were reversed, tolerate this system for a day?
It may be asked—indeed it has been asked—why have the Catholic Bishops refrained till now from solemnly protesting against the mixed system of education? My answer is, they have frequently protested against the encroachments of the Commissioners on the original system; and if they have not condemned the system in the same emphatic terms which they have lately done, the fault does not be with the Bishops, but with the Commissioners, who have so cooked their reports—as I have shown they have done in the case of Mr. Keenan's—that they have literally hoodwinked their eyes. I shall now proceed to show that the Bishops have been at all times consistent in their demands, and in the terms on which they sought or consented to accept the assistance of the State. When the Kildare Place system became so odious as to be no longer tolerated, and it was found necessary to substitute a new system, one which should be conceived in a different spirit from all that wont before it—which were, in fact, but so many foolish attempts to realize the cherished idea of changing the faith of the Catholic population of Ireland—the new scheme was submitted to the Bishops, who were asked to state, for the information of the Government, their views upon the subject. Amongst the resolutions adopted by the Bishops, as their answer to the application of the promoters of the plan submitted to them, were the following, which date so far back as January, 1826:— 1406
The Bishops, as these resolutions show, tolerated the mixed system on the terms proposed, and apparently ratified by the Government; and I could prove, by reference to resolutions adopted repeatedly since then, from the year 1826 to the present time, that the representations and objections of the Bishops on those material points have never varied. The system adopted in the model schools, in which ecclesiastical authority is ignored, or openly set at defiance, is a direct violation of the principles for which the Bishops have consistently contended; and that carried on in the mixed schools of Ulster, in which 2,400 Catholic children—I believe there maybe 5,000—attend the religious teaching of Protestants and Presbyterians, is an utter subversion of that proclaimed by Lord Stanley, sanctioned by Parliament, 1407 and accepted in good faith by the Catholics of Ireland.
- "I. Having considered, attentively, a plan of National Education which has been submitted to us—Resolved, that the admission of Protestants and Roman Catholics into the same schools, for the purpose of literary instruction, may, under existing circumstances, be allowed, provided sufficient care be taken to protect the religion of the Roman Catholic children, and to furnish them with adequate means of religious instruction.
- "II. That, in order to secure sufficient protection to the religion of Roman Catholic children, under such a system of education, we deem it necessary that the Master of each school, in which the majority of the pupils profess the Roman Catholic faith, be a Roman Catholic; and that in schools in which the Roman Catholic children form only a minority, a permanent Roman Catholic Assistant be employed; and that such Master and Assistant be appointed upon the recommendation, or with the express approval of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese in which they are to be employed; and, further, that they, or either of them, be removed upon the representation of such Bishop. The same rule to be observed for the appointment or dismissal of Mistresses and Assistants in female schools.
- "III. That we consider it improper that Masters and Mistresses intended for the religious instruction of Roman Catholic youth, should be trained or educated by, or under the control of, persons professing a different faith; and that we conceive it most desirable that a male and female Model School shall be established in each province in Ireland, to be supported at the public expense, for the purpose of qualifying such Masters and Mistresses for the important duties which they shall be appointed to discharge.
- "IV. That in conformity with the principle of protecting the religion of Roman Catholic children, the books intended for their particular instruction in religion shall be selected, or approved by, the Roman Catholic Prelates; and that no book or tract, for common instruction in literature, shall be introduced into any school in which Roman Catholic children are educated, which book or tract may he objected to, on religious grounds, by the Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese in which such school is established."
I now approach the question—has the National System of Education as a "mixed" system, produced those wonderful results for which the right hon. Gentleman so complacently takes credit? Does the mixed system exist in three out of the four provinces of Ireland?—and where the mixed system alone exists, has it in any way tended to bring about that benign and blessed condition of things on which he has so eloquently expatiated? When the Secretary for Ireland asserts that the mixed system has wrought such results upon the feelings of persons of different religions, I might, notwithstanding all the high-sounding phraseology in which he delights to envelope the subject, use an expressive but not over elegant form of expression, and pronounce it to be pure "bosh." First, then, is there really a system of mixed education in three provinces of Ireland? I take the Returns to the 1st of January, 1857, and what do I find. I commence with the pupils of the different persuasions. Their numbers were as follow:—
Add the Presbyterians and Protestants together, and you have a total of 8,427, of both as against 386,298 Catholics. Then look at the proportion of teachers:—
Catholic Presby. Est.Church Munster 164,911 109 1,678 Leinster 143,956 216 3,812 Connaught 77,431 207 2,405 Total 386,298 532 7,895
You here have 100 Protestant and Presbyterian teachers as compared to 3,402 Catholics. To talk of percentages in the face of figures such as these, and to claim credit for the success of the system of National Education, as a "mixed" system, is an oblivion of fact, and an abuse of common sense. To assert that the future prosperity and progress of these Provinces depend upon the maintenance of the mixed system—where no such system has existed, or is ever likely to exist—exhibits an utter ignorance of the real state of things in these portions of the kingdom. In the County of Cork, the county of the greatest extent and largest population, the number of Catholic pupils under the Board is about 80,000, while the Protestant and 1408 Presbyterian pupils do not exceed 700. And this is your boasted mixed education, to which you so triumphantly appeal! Look to the City of Cork, and say is there a single Protestant child in a Catholic school. I see my hon. Friends who represent Limerick, Waterford, and Kilkenny; and I ask them is there the slightest admixture of creeds in the schools of their large and populous cities? Where, then, is this mixed system? It certainly is not to be found in Munster, nor is it to be discovered in Leinster or in Connaught. Of Ulster I will speak presently. The right hon. Gentleman answers every statement as to the failure of the system, as a mixed system, by an appeal to the history of the continuous progress of the schools, and the steady increase in the numbers of their pupils. But is this fact, which I admit to be true, an evidence of the popularity of the mixed system, or a proof that it has taken deep root in the hearts of the people? Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that the love of learning is inherent in the people of Ireland—that it is an abiding instinct of their very nature? The small farmer, nay, the poor labourer, will deny himself, not to say comforts, but even necessaries, in order to send his child to school; and the helpless and destitute widow will sacrifice almost everything she possesses in the world in order to send her orphan children neat and cleanly to the school. The sword, the axe, and the rope could not extinguish this love, this thirst for learning which has ever found its home in the breasts of the Irish people; and it is an utter delusion to attribute that all-pervading sentiment to the existence or the operation of the National system. The fact is, the Irish people would avail themselves of any system of educacational machinery which was not utterly bad, and the increase in the number of scholars, which is particularly observable in the three Catholic Provinces of the country, is not a proof that children of different religious persuasions are educated in the same schools, but that the people eagerly avail themselves of a system of education that is brought within their reach. Can the advocates of the present system venture to say that if the principle were totally changed and the denominational system was substituted for the mixed, the schools and the scholars would not have been more numerous than they now are? Now as to Ulster. If the results of the mixed system are of so blessed a 1409 nature as we are told they are, we should look to Ulster as that portion of Ireland in which they are fully enjoyed. There we should behold the lion lying down beside the lamb, and the serpent nestling with the dove, and all sects uniting as one happy family of brotherhood and love. But is this picture of sublunary beatitude really illustrated by the social and religious state of Ulster, the home and theatre of mixed education? What, Sir, are we engaged upon at this moment? What is the legislation upon which we are engaged in the year 1860? We are, even now, in thirty years after the creation of the mixed system of education, which was to unite all warring and conflicting sects, making a new attempt to put down, by force of law, that sectarian hate and political rancour which rend Ulster asunder, and manifest their existence in insulting manifestations, and outrages, which result in strife, collision, bloodshed—murder. These are the fruits, these the triumphs of your mixed system, which is to soften down all asperities, and make people forget every difference of sect and party! In a letter which I received a few days since from the right rev. Dr. Delany—a prelate remarkable for his wisdom and moderation, he says,
Munster 1,412 7 13 Leinster 1,280 6 49 Connaught 710 5 20 Total 3,402 18 82I really look upon the idea of mixed education in Ireland working fairly and satisfactorily as utterly Utopian. See, after all the battles against proselytism through the medium of schools, what the original National System has degenerated to in the North.The united Bishops also point to the disturbances in the Worth of Ireland in contemptuous disproof of the assertion that mixed education would have beneficial effects in lessening religious prejudices and promoting social harmony. I now come to a very remarkable authority on the subject of mixed and separate education—that of my right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, with whose conclusive and irresistible arguments in favour of separate or denominational education I shall answer and confute the fallacious reasoning of his right hon. Colleague, the Secretary for Ireland. On the 2nd of March, 1859, my right hon. Friend was present at one of the most extraordinary and memorable meetings ever held in Ireland. Would I had his picturesque power of language that I might fittingly describe the scene! The meeting of the clergy and laity of a vast county was held in a majestic building, which had been recently 1410 decorated in the highest style of religious art. At the altar, then divested of its sacred furniture and religious emblems, sat four Catholic Bishops, arrayed in their canonical robes, assumed for the purpose of imparting greater weight and solemnity to the expression of the deliberate opinion of a great Catholic community upon a particular system of education. I can assert with confidence—for I had the honour of taking part in the proceedings of that meeting—that there were present more than 1,000 well-dressed and, substantial people, of the trading and mercantile class; that the representatives of the first commercial families of the city supported their Bishop by their presence and sympathy; and that some 300 of the clergy of four dioceses were also amongst the vast assembly, amounting in all to about 5,000 persons. The four Bishops spoke, in the same spirit, and with the most complete unanimity of language and sentiment. After their Lordships came my right hon. Friend, who cannot deny that he was present and took part in one of the most solemn and emphatic pronouncements of Catholic opinion ever made in Ireland. The subject was intermediate education. [Mr. DEASY: Hear, hear.] My right hon. Friend will, no doubt, try to get out of it; but I put it to the Commitee whether the argument in favour of separate and against mixed education, applied by the right hon. Gentleman to intermediate schools, or schools for the middle class, for the sons of shopkeepers, traders and merchants, does not apply far more strongly to schools for the children of the labouring classes?
I attended the meeting referred to on the express condition that nothing should be said or done at it against the National system of education or the Queen's Colleges?
§ MR. MAGUIRE
I admit that what my right hon. Friend says is quite correct; but I assert that every argument so ably employed by him on that occasion, is an a fortiori argument in my favour on this occasion. I shall proceed, to show how conclusively he argued against mixed education—the same as that upon which the National system is ostensibly based. He commenced by placing himself entirely at the disposal of the Committee, and in "contributing in any manner to advance the great object for which the meeting had been convened." He said, "In that object I fully concur, and I shall give it 1411 either here or elsewhere, all the aid and ability that I possess." My right hon. Friend proceeded thus:—The object of this meeting, I understand, is to state a claim and assert a principle—to state the just claim of the great Catholic community to equal participation with all the other subjects of Her Majesty in any funds which the State may provide for intermediate education. Its object also is to state the principle which should regulate the application of that aid—to state the principle upon which the intermediate schools, if they are to be founded by Government, should be conducted—and to state the terms upon which, and upon which alone, the Catholics will participate in that share.It was absolutely necessary, he said, in consequence of recent events, that "there should be an authoritative expression of opinion on the part of the great Catholic body of Ireland on this subject;" for, said he—"if we allow the Government to remain under the impression that many of the Catholics of this country would eon-Bent to mixed or neutral education, we should have ourselves to blame for the consequences of our error." "It has been contended," said Mr. Serjeant Deasy, "that what is called the mixed or neutral principle of education should be applied to the constitution of those intermediate schools;" but, said the learned Serjeant, "from that view, I confess, I entirely dissent. I object to the system which would allow the schools to be conducted by teachers of different persuasions, as unfit and impracticable." Well, what does the Attorney General say now to the system adopted in the model schools and in the anti-Catholic schools of Ulster? "How, then," he asked, "is instruction to be safely imparted to Catholic children, unless from the lips of those in whom their clergy and themselves can confide?" But do they confide in Presbyterian teachers, whose religious feelings and convictions are wholly opposed to Catholic faith and Catholic doctrine? "In fact," said the learned Serjeant, "there are very few instances in which mixed education has succeeded." The learned Serjeant was then eager to grapple with the opponents of the separate system. "What are the objections," he asked, in a triumphant tone, "which have been urged against the maintenance of separate intermediate schools for the use of the middle classes?" And he replies to the absurd objection in a manner that excited the laughter of his audience, "Why," said he, "because the separation of youth will tend to perpetuate, it is said, sectarian dissen- 1412 sions in after life." The mixed system, we are told, will unite us in love—the separate system will divide us in hatred. What says the learned Serjeant on the latter head:—I believe that in schools in which the teachers are of different religious persuasions, there will be constant bickering and strife, and I may point out as evidence that which has occurred within our own experience, in the administration of the National system. Serious differences have arisen that may endanger that system, and I object, therefore, to extending that system to classes of schools totally different, and in which the difficulty that I have referred to would be ten times greater.After such a statement as this, are we to be told that the advocates of separate education are the enemies of union and harmony between those of different persuasions. The Attorney General now disregards the wishes of the people, and treats as something of little real importance the solemn and deliberate pronouncement of the Bishops of his Church; but on the occasion in question he went so far as to assert that a Government ought to defer "even to the prejudices" of a people. "The question," added the learned Serjeant, "is not which is the best system, but which do the people prefer." That was a very different speech from one which the right hon. Gentleman delivered on the hustings in Cork, when he was exasperated by opposition. Upon that occasion he ventured to make an assertion which was totally unjustifiable—that in this matter of education the House of Commons would never yield to the wishes of the Irish people. Here, Sir, in the House of Commons, I pronounce that statement to be a slander on the Parliament of this country. It is contradicted by the experience of every day. It is contradicted by the legislation of this Session, of every Session; for we find that Parliament is constantly altering, amending, and changing laws and institutions which are no longer adapted to the circumstances of the times, or to the wants and wishes of the community. I do not say that Parliament should yield to a mere prejudice; but I do assert that it will yield, as it has before yielded, to the strongly expressed wishes of the clergy and people of Ireland—wishes based, not upon prejudice and caprice, but upon conviction and experience. One would imagine, from the wild outcry against the Catholic Bishops, that they had proposed something treasonable, or at the least revolutionary or absurd. Who could think, from the manner in 1413 which a demand for separate education has been and is received, that there was such a system, in this country—even beneath the shadow of the towers of the Palace in which I have now the honour of speaking—and that in this House English Gentlemen, only two days since, stood up strongly and spoke warmly in favour of the denominational system? How, I ask, can that which works well in England work ill in Ireland?—how could that which is a blessing in England, prove a curse in Ireland? I have shown that where the mixed system prevails in Ireland there is rancour and hatred. The Bishops ask for a separate system, not alone to protect their flocks from danger, but also that they might impart to them that description of education, which, while fitting them for the battles of this life, may prepare them for that future existence in which every Christian believes, and which we all hope to enjoy. The English authorities in favour of religious education were as numerous as they were eminent, and had been quoted by the Catholic Bishops in their elaborate vindication of their demand.—[The hon. Member then read at some length extracts from the speeches of Lord Sandon, Lord Morpeth (the Earl of Carlisle), Lord Mahon (Earl Stanhope), Lord John Russell, and Sir Robert Peel, in 1847, in the debate on Education in Committee of Supply, reported 3 Hansard, xci.]—Lord Stanley also, in 1839, used these words:—I contend that education is not a tiling apart and separate from religion; but that religion should be interwoven with all systems of education, controlling and regulating the whole minds, and habits, and principles of the persons receiving instruction."—[3 Hansard, xlviii. 238].I come now to authorities, not of a few years past, but of the present year. At the annual meeting of the Society for promoting the Education of the Poor in the principles of the Established Church, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Prelates, their Report was read. This was the concluding passage of the Report:—The Committee trust that the Report of the Royal Commission on Education will not interfere with the present system of supplementing voluntary efforts by assistance from the State. The result of a change might be either a mere secular system of instruction, or some plan which would make religious knowledge only one among many branches of learning to be taught in schools, instead of, as at present, the element which pervades the whole course of education.Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, our eminent 1414 educational authority, was present at the meeting and said that the system of the National Society was regarded with growing favour by the general public:—In maintaining that system, which gave the Church, so far as her own schools were concerned, a direct, immediate, and paramount control over the education of the country, they occupied an impregnable fortress, from which no power could force them to retreat unless through apathy or division among themselves. But it would not do to palter with the system either in principle or detail.I have a still higher authority in favour of the demand now made by the Irish Bishops—M. Guizot. From the third volume of his Memoirs, I take the following passage:—But while the action of the Church and the State is indispensable for the diffusion and solid establishment of public education, it becomes equally important, to render such education really good and socially profitable, that this action should be profoundly religious. I do not mean that religious instruction should merely take its place there, and outward practices be observed. A nation is not religiously educated on such limited and mechanical conditions. Popular education ought to be given and received in the bosom of a religious atmosphere, in order that corresponding impressions and habits may penetrate from every side. Religion is not a study or an exercise to which a particular place or hour can be assigned. It is a faith, a law which ought to make itself felt everywhere and at all times; and on no other condition can it exercise the full extent of its salutary influence on the minds and actions of men.Thus, in elementary schools, the sentiment of religion ought to be habitually present. If the priest mistrusts or separates from the tutor, or if the tutor looks upon himself as the independent rival, not the faithful auxiliary of the priest, the moral value of the school is lost, and it is on the verge of becoming a danger.You applaud these words of an eminent Protestant statesman, for they commend themselves to your reason and judgment, and are in accordance with your convictions; but why are Catholic Bishops to be howled at, as bigots, and fanatics, and enemies to progress, when they employ the same language and speak in the same spirit? It is said the Catholic Bishops desire an absolute control in the administration of the funds, and that they are averse to inspection. This is not so. The statement is absolutely false. In their memorial to the Government, and in their rejoinder to the answer of the Government, they most emphatically repudiate it. They are denounced for asking for a denominational s3'stem, although the system in this, which is a Protestant country, is purely so. They ask for a system which is established in Protestant England, and under the Pro- 1415 testant Government of Prussia. The population of Prussia consists of 10,500,000 Protestants and 7,000,000 of Catholics. According to the Constitution adopted in 1850, under the title of "Personal Rights," it is expressly provided that in the management of the public schools the "confessional relations," that is to say, the religious denominations of the pupils are to be kept in view as much as possible; and that "the religious instruction in the public schools shall be conducted by the respective religious bodies." Thus the denominational system is made one of the fundamental points in the Constitution of the country. Of the 130 gymnasiums in Prussia, 40 belong exclusively to the Catholics; there is but one "mixed" gymnasium in the whole kingdom, and that is in consequence of the smallness of each denomination. Here, then, we have a perfectly denominational system in Prussia, and one as purely denominational in England; and yet because the Catholic Bishops of Ireland ask to have the same system applied to Ireland, or to their flocks, they are told they are fanatics and bigots. The ecclesiastical or pastoral authority is acknowledged in Protestant Prussia, but it is ignored in Catholic Ireland, and that miserable phantom, that dishonest mockery, parental authority, is set up in its place. A notice is now served on the parent of the Catholic child when he first attends religious instruction given by a Protestant or Presbyterian "teacher;" but if anti-Catholic instruction be given by any other person than the teacher of the school, no notice is required—so that a Protestant or Presbyterian clergyman, or his representative, may teach the child, and no notice be given to the parent. The right hon. Gentleman, the Irish Secretary, in his answer to the memorial of the Bishops, thus deals with their application:—If those demands were conceded, the National system would be overthrown, and a system of sectarian education substituted for it, calculated to revive social divisions in Ireland, and to stimulate feelings which it is the object of every just and liberal Government to allay.I can assure the right hon. Gentleman this apprehension is based upon a mere delusion. There are, as a rule, no mixed schools in three Provinces of Ireland, and none of the evils he imagines have resulted from their being practically denominational and not mixed. But is there what may be termed sectarian teaching in Ireland, and has that been attended with 1416 danger to the peace of the community? The system of education adopted by the Christian Brothers is the very best and most striking type of the denominational, —it is exclusively intended for Catholic children, and is religious in its spirit. In the City of Cork the Christian Brothers now conduct the education of 2,000 children. There are also convent schools in that city, as throughout the country, which are not under the National Board, and which give an exclusively denominational or religious education—the same as given in this country. Has any evil, I ask the Attorney General, ever resulted from the separate and religious teaching of the Convent schools and those of the Christian Brothers? There are now some 20,000 Catholic children in the schools of the Christian Brothers in Ireland; and not only do they receive the very best secular education, superior to that given in any schools under the National Board, but also a strictly religious education, the tendency of which is to make them good men, good citizens and good Christians. Persons more desirous to live in Christian amity with their neighbours of all denominations than those who have been trained in these separate schools I do not know. For the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, to tell the Catholic Bishops that an exclusively Catholic education was calculated to excite sectarian feelings, and to revive social divisions in Ireland, is to state that which is contrary to their daily observation and experience. What is the working of the denominational system in England? I turn to the Report for 1859, and I find the most striking testimony in favour of religious teaching, or that which is alone safe and practicable under the denominational system. Mr. Marshall shows how the moral and religious feelings are stimulated and strengthened through the religious element in the schools which he inspected. He describes in terms of glowing eulogy the effect of certain religious associations or societies established in some of these schools. He says that the children in the schools where they exist invariably present a peculiar character, and display in a larger measure than others the qualities which it is the province of Christian education to foster and develope; and that if such devices promote and strengthen the general work of education, or supply in any measure unavoidable deficiencies, they cannot be too generally employed. Writing of the schools at Charles Street and Brompton, 1417 under the Sisters of Compassion, he uses these remarkable words:—They are of a kind which I can hardly venture to praise; in the presence of such astonishing labour and devotion, one can only maintain a respectful silence.Mr. Morrell thus refers to the influence which the teaching of nuns exercises not only upon the children, but upon their parents. He says:—Nothing is more remarkable than the great readiness shown by parents in my district to send their children to schools taught by nuns. Indeed, the introduction of teaching orders in any part of my district creates a change in the habits and character of the population.Mr. Morrell also bears his testimony to the efforts of the Catholic clergy to maintain their schools in poor districts:—Very few of my schools are self-supporting; in many cases, the manager, who is almost always the resident priest, gives a part of his very insufficient income as a charity to help in supporting the school, and meeting the requirements of the Government.It is the same, I know, in Ireland. I know many clergymen there who have placed themselves in great embarrassment in order to establish schools in their parishes—and it must not be forgotten that more than 3,000 non-vested schools, of which Catholic priests are the patrons, were built without a shilling contribution from the State, and wholly at the expense of the Catholic clergy and people of Ireland. And Mr. Morrell describing the results of the teaching of these self-sacrificing men concludes by saying:—Indeed I can verify that the clergy to whom I refer, answer the purpose of the most efficient police officers in two ways—1st, by preventing crime, by the careful instruction of the young in their religious duties. 2ndly, by redeeming even hardened criminals, by certain religious influences which they alone possess.I shall quote but one passage more, in which he bears testimony to the results of religious teaching, especially given by religious teachers, who leaven the secular instruction with the religious element, and thus acquire the most salutary moral influence over the minds of their pupils:—The education of the poor, especially of girls, carefully watched over by religious teachers, has generally a powerful effect on the moral character. It is frequently the case in my district, that the children and the pupil teachers in nun's schools exhibit a more refined and a gentler behaviour than other children. I have also been informed, at Sheffield, that since the opening of the large new school of St. Mary's, offering many facilities of 1418 cleanly habits, the children have greatly improved in cleanliness and neatness of person. My experience as to the moral advantage of religious teachers, and Convent schools exactly accords with that of the American Protestant, Mr. Barnard, as described in his work on education in Europe, in which he remarks, that in Switzerland especially, the moral influence of the religious teachers over girls is superior to all other influence. He repeats the same observation in the case of France.I might go through the reports of the Inspectors of Schools to further exhibit the nature, efficacy, and results of the denominational system of teaching enjoyed by England; but I have already quoted sufficient to satisfy any unbiassed person, that the general adoption of that system in Ireland could not be productive of evil. I object to the present system, because in three provinces of Ireland it takes credit for that which it really is not, and that in the other province it is attended with mischief and injury. I object to its administration, which I insist has been adverse to Catholic interests. Without looking for further proofs of the anti-Catholic spirit in which it has been and is administered—without alluding to the manner in which remarkable cases, such as the Balindine, the Besbrook, and the Belfast cases, have been dealt with by the Board—I have only to mention the late rules by which further aid is refused to monastery and convent schools. A religious community reside in a certain district, and there they have a school; but there are other districts, perhaps with a population more destitute and more ignorant, and therefore more in need of education, and, impelled by the noblest charity, they established schools in those other districts; they bring to those districts the blessings of education, and the holy influence of their presence; but because they do not reside where those schools are established, the National Board refuses to their noble undertaking the aid of the State.
I have now concluded my task, in the accomplishment of which I have trespassed, I am afraid, too long upon the attention of the Committee, who have been most indulgent to me, and whom I thank for their great consideration. My object has been two-fold. In the first place, I desired to show that those to whom the administration of the National system of Education has been entrusted, have departed in a scandalous and shameful manner from the covenant solemnly entered into between Parliament and the Irish people; and, in the second, that the de- 1419 mand of the Catholic Bishops, for a separate or denominational system, has been rendered absolutely necessary by the circumstances of the case, and is consistent "with reason, justice, and experience, and it is such as must meet with the approbation of English Protestant gentlemen—inasmuch as the system now asked for Ireland is that which is established and is working successfully in England, and that what is really good for the one country cannot be bad for the other country. Ireland forms part of the United Kingdom, is ruled over by the same Monarch, and governed by the same laws, and ought, in so important a matter as the education of her people, be placed on the same footing as England.
said, that after the allusions that had been made to him he hoped he might be excused if he ventured to address a few observations in reply to the arguments of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire). "Whilst giving to the general tone of the hon. Gentleman's speech his approbation, that approbation must be expressed with this qualification. He had heard with great regret the expressions used by the hon. Gentleman towards Mr. M. 'Donnell. Nothing could be more unfair than to bring a general charge of misconduct against a public officer intrusted with important duties, without giving any notice, and without condescending to specify his offences. The hon. Member said that Mr. M. 'Donnell confessed his misconduct. He denied that that Gentleman had been guilty of any misconduct or had made any such confession.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, the charge he brought against the gentleman in question was that he had cooked the Report.
asserted that there was no foundation for the charge. Mr. M'Donnell wrote across the passage which he was alleged to have suppressed that it ought to be published. [Mr. MAGUIRE: Who suppressed it, then?] No man in Ireland had rendered greater services to the public, and especially to the Roman Catholic portion of the public, than Mr. M'Donnell. In times of difficulty and danger, when the contest was whether Roman Catholics should have any share in the administration of the country, Mr. M'Donnell was one of the small hand who stood up in their defence. His services, however, had met with but small requitement, judging from the hon. Member's attack. But he would pass to the other 1420 charges. The hon. Gentleman accused the Commissioners of having betrayed the trust reposed in them, and violated the compact entered into between Parliament and the people of Ireland. He challenged the hon. Gentleman to produce a single rule of the Commissioners which rendered it compulsory on any patron to exclude any child from religious instruction. The presence of the children at such instruction was entirely at the option of their parents and friends. From the very commencement the Board had adopted the principle that when religious instruction was given the parent or guardian of any child should be perfectly free either to allow it to remain or to withdraw it. He held in his hand a number of applications made in 1833 and 1834 to the Board for aid, in which it Was distinctly stated that due notice of the hours of religions instruction should be given, and that pupils should be at liberty to attend or withdraw as their parents desired. Thus the patrons of a school in Donegal were asked, "Will you take care that no children are present at the time of any religious instruction or exercise except such whose' parents approve of it?" The answer was, "The Committee wish that at least one hour a day should be set apart for Scriptural instruction, at which time Roman Catholic children will be at perfect liberty to retire; but the Committee do not feel that they should interfere for them." In that case the aid was granted. That had been the principle upon which the Board had acted all along, and he defied any one to show that it had been departed from. As to the two speeches which he had delivered at Cork and to which allusion had been made, he was prepared to justify everything he had said on those occasions. He did not attach any importance to it, but what he said then he was ready to maintain still. He attended the meeting in Cork on the express condition that nothing was to be said against the National system or the Queen's Colleges, and nothing was said. The remarks he then made referred only to intermediate boarding schools for the education of the higher classes. He was opposed to the mixed system in such cases. He believed that what was fitted for schools for children residing with their parents was not fitted for a boarding school, where pupils were removed from homo influences and guidance. In all the model schools of Ireland there were only 124 resident pupils. The rest were all out-door scholars, who were resi- 1421 dent with their parents or guardians. He also said, as he was now ready to repeat, that Parliament never could comply with the demand contained in the memorial of the Bishops. He entirely denied that it was merely a demand for separate education. It went much further. It was a demand that Parliament should transfer to the Roman Catholic Bishops the entire and exclusive control of the education of the Roman Catholic children in Ireland. The words were:—That under no circumstances can they divest themselves of the responsibility attached to their sacred office of providing for the sound education of their respective flocks, and guarding them against the dangers to their faith and morals with which mixed educational systems are fraught.So far he agreed with them, but the Memorial went on to say:—Deeply impressed with a conviction of those dangers, which must increase in proportion as education is placed beyond the rightful control of the Church, the Catholic Bishops deem it a solemn duty to convey to Her Majesty's Government the expression of the growing anxiety which naturally fills their minds on finding their authority so completely disowned in the various schemes for educating the Irish people which have been put in operation for several years. To this systematic refusal to recognize their legitimate authority to direct and superintend the education of their flocks they now chiefly confine themselves, aware that it is the prolific spring of all the evils with which the faith and morals of the rising generation of the country are beset—evils which are but too generally felt and deplored, and so obvious as not to require a tedious enumeration; suffice it to remark, that in the department of mixed education exercising the most extensive influence over their flocks—namely, that directed by the National Board, which reckons about half a million of the Catholic children of Ireland,—their legitimate pastors are entirely ignored; for example, neither in the nomination of the Members of that Board, nor in the framing or rescinding of its rules, nor in the appointment of its inspectors, nor in the selection of the books used in its schools, nor, above all, in securing to the pupils sufficient guarantees to obtain an adequate share of pure Catholic teaching, is the authority of the Catholic Bishops, as such, even legally or constitutionally acknowledged.["Hear, hear."] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen would allow him to finish the extract:—It is not to be supposed that the Catholic Bishops entertained any desire to interfere in the remotest degree with the proper management of the public funds, over which the civil Government should exercise control; on the contrary, they are ready to acknowledge its right to see that all public moneys appropriated to Catholic education should not be excepted from the same rule, but should be administered under Catholic inspection, and accounted for as every other grant from the public funds. But while they acknowledge the right, nay, the wisdom, of requiring accounts of 1422 the manner in which all public moneys are expended, they deprecate the confusion of claims and obligations arising from the erroneous construction of that right belonging to the State.The obvious meaning of that was that the Roman Catholic Bishops claimed the entire and exclusive control of the education of the laity; that they excluded the State from every interference except requiring accounts. [Mr. MAGUTRE: And inspection."] No. They talked of Catholic inspection, but they said nothing about inspection by the Government.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
begged to direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the rejoinder of the Bishops, where they offered to submit to the same inspection as in England.
But in that rejoinder they never receded from their original demand, and he fearlessly said that no Government and no Parliament ever would allow it. A demand couched in such terms would never be conceded to the Bishops of the State Church. The hon. Gentleman had referred to M. Guizot and the import' ant law of 1833; but in that law parental authority was recognized in France as the guiding and controlling power. The law was altered in 1850, under the presidency of the present Emperor, and the control of the schools was vested in the local communal bodies, who were appointed either directly or indirectly by the Government. Belgium was a more Catholic country than Ireland. ["No!"] He meant that the Protestant minority was smaller than in Ireland. The Legislature was exclusively Catholic. In 1850 a law for intermediate education was introduced, and by Article 8 ministers of religion were invited to give or superintend religious instruction. The Bishops claimed the right to nominate religious or moral instructors. It was a far less extensive demand than that of the Irish Roman Catholic Bishops. The Belgian Chambers refused the claim of the Bishops. The Archbishop of Malines objected that the jurisdiction of the Church and State in schools was not recognized. The Irish Roman Catholic Bishops claimed the entire and absolute control for the Church. The Belgian Ministry refused to give way. The schools prospered, and the Archbishop of Malines, like a wise and sensible man, anxious to terminate an unseemly strife, negotiated an arrangement which was known as the Convention of Antwerp. The 2nd Article provided that religious instruction should be given by the clergy, nominated by the Bishop, and ad- 1423 mitted by the local administration; and Article 11 provided that only books approved by the Bishops should be used. There was no claim of control over anything more than religious instruction, and he maintained that through the patrons, who were in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred Roman Catholic priests, that control was provided by the National system in Ireland. For these reasons he stated on the hustings at Cork, and he repeated now, that no Government would accede to the demand of the Irish Catholic Bishops. It did not merely involve a difference of system, but a question of sovereignty, and Parliament would part with its sovereign power if it acceded to the demand of the Bishops. But, treating the demand as one for separate education, let the Committee observe the circumstances under which it was made. The hon. Member for Dungarvan said the Catholic people of Ireland repudiated the present system. They did not repudiate the money. Eighty per cent of the money went into Roman Catholic pockets, and 84 per cent of the pupils were Catholics. In 1856 a Motion by the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Walpole), which many thought involved the destruction of the existing system, was carried by a small majority. It caused great alarm among the Roman Catholic Members, and to allay that alarm the Secretary for Ireland moved a Resolution pledging the House to the National system. Every Roman Catholic Member, and every Member representing a Roman Catholic constituency, voted for that Resolution. There was a dissolution in 1857, and no Member, to use a common expression, came to grief on account of that vote. In 1859 the Earl of Derby was in power, and fears were again entertained that a change would be proposed, but the right hon. Gentleman then Home Secretary gave a pledge that no change should be introduced which would infringe on parental authority and the rights of conscience. In 1859 a dissolution again occurred, and at no hustings in Ireland was a voice raised against the National system. In 1859 the present Government was placed in office by a small majority. Shortly afterwards, his right hon. Friend the present Secretary for Ireland proposed the Education Vote, and the right hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) and the hon. Member for Dungarvan said that the system had produced inestimable benefits.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, the right hon. 1424 Gentleman must not misquote him. What he said referred to the system as an educational machinery.
said, he was willing to adopt the correction. But the hon. Member said there were certain things which they wished altered. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland promised inquiry and redress, and that pledge he had performed. But before such an inquiry could take place the authoritative opinion of the assembled synod was placed in the hands of his right hon. Friend demanding, not inquiry or redress of grievances, but the total abolition of the existing system and the substitution of another system founded on different principles. He could only account for the demand on the supposition that, as the Government was placed in office by a small majority, it was thought they would purchase support by acceding to it. [Cries of " Oh!"] He could account for it by no other explanation; but as a public man he would scorn to purchase support or to retain office on such terms.
As a Catholic, he entertained the sincerest respect for the Roman Catholic Bishops, but he differed entirely from their policy on this question, and he felt bound to exercise the privilege which he had always claimed of expressing his own unbiassed opinion on a temporal matter. He believed it to be utterly impossible to obtain the aid of Parliament to a system conducted on any such principles. They were dealing with a Protestant Legislature representing a Protestant people influenced by strong feelings, even by what he would respectfully call with prejudices, which on more than one occasion had led them to do acts of great injustice to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Some time ago Parliament had refused to vote one shilling of public money for the repair of the public buildings at Maynooth, and when the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when Home Secretary, some years ago proposed a very moderate Vote of £500 for services actually rendered in convict establishments by Roman Catholic chaplains the House refused to accede to it. Was it likely, then, that Parliament would vote public money for a system such as that which was now demanded by the representative of the Roman Catholics? They wished for schools in which they could place the image of the Virgin and teach the doctrines of their own Church—in which they could use books framed by themselves, which would contain passages, 1425 in all probability, not very favourable to Protestantism. But what chance was there of inducing Parliament to vote one shilling of public money for the support of schools so conducted? Even if such a vote were once passed, it would be perfectly impossible to maintain it. He could easily foresee what would be the course of events. There would be letters in The Times, photographs of the interior of the schools, extracts from the schoolbooks circulated widely, and from the Orkneys to the Isle of Wight there would be a storm of indignation at the voting of public money for the support of such schools.
Again, if the Roman Catholics obtained their object, they must give up almost all the existing schools, which were built principally on sites given by Protestant landlords, and sustained by Protestant subscriptions expressly on the condition that they were to be conducted on the principles of the National Board and open to persons of all denominations. He knew hundreds of schools in which that condition was inserted in the lease or in the trust deed, and, unless Parliament passed an Act for the purpose the Court of Chancery would interfere if there were any attempt to violate that condition. But was it likely that Parliament would assent to such a breach of trust—that it would apply property in a manner totally different from that stipulated for by the donor? Those who were demanding a separate system had never contemplated that consequence. How were they to obtain new sites, especially in Ulster? The land there was in the hands of the Protestants, and there was great difficulty now in getting sites, but for separate schools for the Roman Catholics alone it would be utterly impossible. In the interests, therefore of the Roman Catholics, especially of Ulster, he protested against the change.
Again had the advocates of a separate system considered what would be the effect of a change in respect to proselytism? They were a majority in Ireland, undoubtedly, but they had to deal with a Protestant minority possessing great influence, great power, and principally possessing the land of the country. Among the Protestant people of this country, as well as of Ireland, there was a sincere wish to convert the Roman Catholics from a religion which they believed to be injurious to the temporal interests and spiritual welfare of the people, and sometimes under the influence of that feeling they were led to 1426 overstep the bounds of moderation and justice. Under the present system there were restrictions on proselytism, but it was proposed to substitute for it a system under which there would be no restrictions. If the change were effected any person who wished to establish a proselytizing school might go to the Treasury and get money for it. The Church Education Society, which at one time had 50,000 children in its schools, to a great extent with the object of converting them, was now languishing for funds. In consequence of a want of funds there had been a disruption in the society, and a large number of members were anxious to place their schools under the National Board. Establish this system, and funds would immediately be forthcoming for that society, and they would have a school in every parish in the country. It might be that the present restrictions on proselytism were insufficient, but if hon. Gentlemen would point out in what manner, the Government were quite ready to apply a remedy. But how would the change affect the Protestants of Ireland? There was a large and respectable minority of Protestants in Ireland. In the county of Cork there were 114 mixed schools under the National Board. There were 15,000 Protestant children attending 1,800 Roman Catholic schools, a good proof that those schools were conducted fairly. There never had been any attempt to influence the minds of those children, but under the separate system they would have to be provided for elsewhere. As the Protestants of Ireland were divided into two sections—Churchmen and Presbyterians—there must be in many districts three separate schools maintained by the State. The present Vote of £274,000 must be doubled or tripled, a proposal to which the House of Commons would never consent. In fact, the advocates of the separate system were exposing themselves to the two strongest objections which could be urged against any plan of education—the religious objection founded upon the character of the schools which they wished to establish, and the financial objection founded upon the enormous expense which they asked Parliament to incur.
What, then, were their grounds for making such a demand? The existing system had undergone no change since 1856, and why should that be condemned now which was unanimously approved four years ago? If proselytism had taken place at all, it had been where a national 1427 school was not, and he had no hesitation in saying that, though the existing system had been in operation for thirty years, the people of Ireland were better Catholics now than they were in 1830. Let them judge of the tree by its fruits. There never was a period in which the people of Ireland were more attentive to their religious duties, and, therefore, it was not true that the national system had led either to proselytism or to indifferentism. The advocates of the separate system in that House might be counted upon his fingers. They had against them the whole of the Protestant population of Ireland to a man. The Roman Catholic laity and a majority of the Roman Catholic clergy of the second order were satisfied with the present system. Moreover, the demand for a change came before the House in a shape which, however he might regard it, was the least calculated to obtain for it the assent of Parliament, because it was put forth as the authoritative demand of an ecclesiastical synod—an assemblage which, whether convened from Canterbury or from Rome, carried no weight with the people of England. The National system imposed restrictions and involved concessions, but it applied equally to Protestants and Roman Catholics, and it would be impossible to devise and system for which the money of the Protestant people of Great Britain could be obtained which would not involve some restrictions and concessions. The condition of Ireland was anomalous and peculiar. There was no other country in Europe in which it would have been necessary to pass a Party Emblems Bill. The whole country quivered with emotion and religious excitement. No doubt then the condition of the country required restrictions and concessions. He approved the National system, not because it was the best, but because it was the only one which had solved the difficult problem of obtaining from the Protestant Parliament and people of Great Britain, without murmur or grudge, a large amount of public money for the education of the Catholic youth of Ireland. Such a system should not be departed from until at least there was some security that an equal amount of money would be granted for the education of the people under the separate system. He would appeal to the Roman Catholic Bishops and those who thought with them not to plunge Ireland into an internecine religious war for the sake of a theoretical benefit. Let them take the practical good 1428 which the system afforded, and not quarrel for what they could not obtain. They had great power and influence over the minds of their people. He knew what they could do, and he knew what they could not. He knew that they could, if they thought proper, withdraw the children from these model schools. They would be obeyed—grudgingly, he believed, but still obeyed. Any such step on their part would, however, be attended with most fatal consequences. It would stimulate still further the resistance in that House and in this country to the demand which they had made. His hon. Friend had alluded to the next election. He did not know whether it would come next year or the year after, nor would that make any difference in the course which he should pursue. He knew that the Bishops might perhaps exclude men like himself from the representation of the people, and might drive them from public life. They might drive from public life every man of independent principles and independent opinions, but would they by that advance the object they had in view? They might still further separate the Roman Catholic representatives from the rest of the people; they might widen the breach which he was sorry to say existed; they might weaken the influence which those Members possessed or ought to possess in that House; they might inflict incalculable mischief upon the people of Ireland; all this they might do, but there was one thing which they could not; he spoke it with the sincerest respect and deference, but with a knowledge of the people and Parliament of England, which they did not possess,—they could not by political agitation or by spiritual influence extort a compliance with the demand contained in their letters from the Parliament or the people of Great Britain.
§ MR. MORE O'FERRALL
said, that it was unnecessary for him to comment upon the speech of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, for one more intemperate, more contradictory, or more dangerous to the peace of the country, with the preservation of the peace of which the right hon. Gentleman was charged, he had never heard in that House. He deeply regretted that a gentleman of the same religious faith as those he assailed should have so calumniated the Prelates of the Church to which he belonged. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the Prelates of the Irish Catholic Church demanded to have the 1429 whole control of the sum voted for education placed entirely in their hands. On the part of twenty-eight Bishops who signed the document which had been laid before the House he denied that there was any truth in that assertion. He denied it on their authority, for he had entered into personal communication with many of them; they fully admitted that when Parliament voted money for the education of the laity, it had a right to control its expenditure, and to see that value was received for it in the form of a good secular education; but, having ascertained that fact, the Bishops asserted that Parliament had no right to interfere with the religious instruction of any portion of Her Majesty's subjects. The complaint against the National system, as at present constituted, was that it interfered with the religious instruction of Roman Catholics, and that, although there might be no active proselytism in the schools, yet, as all the books employed in teaching had a Protestant tone,—being all written by Protestants,—the minds of the children were prepared for proselytism after they left school, when their worldly interests tended to induce them to change their faith. While he concurred with the Catholic Bishops and with the hon. Member for Dungarvan, in condemning the altered system of education, he felt obliged to concur with the right hon. Gentleman in his defence of Mr. M'Donnell, the chief Commissioner. He had been acquainted with that gentleman for thirty years, and knew him to be one of the most honourable, pure, and upright men in Ireland. Had he not been at the Board the Catholics would have had infinitely more to complain of, for he had invariably resisted the encroachments which had been made upon the original system, which had reduced it to its present unsatisfactory stale. If he had any fault—and in an administrator it was a fault—it was, that he did not control his department with the necessary vigour. The suppression of a public document, to which reference had been made, has not been explained. The Attorney General has just stated that Mr. M'Donnell wrote his opinion across the paper, that it should be printed for Parliament; why does he not inform us by whose authority it has been withheld; it is a most important document, for it establishes the complaints of the Roman Catholic Bishops that proselytism had occurred under the altered rules of the Board, which 1430 the original rules were framed to prevent. He believed he was the only Catholic who was a Member of the House when the National system was established, and it was the result of a bargain between Mr. O'Connell and the Government of Earl Grey. The Government then wanted to pass the Reform Bill, and as a general election was about to take place they were anxious to secure a large return of Reformers for Ireland. They spoke to Mr. O'Connell on the subject; but he told them that the people of Ireland knew nothing about rotten boroughs, and cared less; and that, unless there was something to excite their feelings, the tenants could not be induced to vote against their landlords' wishes, especially after the sacrifices they had made to secure Catholic emancipation. "But," said Mr. O'Connell, "if you would promise me to withdraw the grant from the Kildare Street Society, and to establish a system of education for all, then I would appeal to the people of Ireland, and you would have a good Reform Parliament." The bargain was made, the Reformers went to the country with a good cry of free Catholic education, there was a good return of Reform Members to that House, and the Reform Bill, to which many hon. Members now in that House owed their seats was obtained. "Would they now sanction a departure from the system which was then promised to the people of Ireland? Very early in life he felt that Catholic emancipation would never be carried by an ignorant population, and he therefore, with the concurrence of the Catholic Bishop of the diocese, established and maintained schools in connection with the Kildare Street Society. He preserved that connection as long as he could; but ultimately the society became so proselytizing in its character that he was forced to separate his schools from it. "When the system of 1831 was introduced he was one of its ardent supporters, but an outcry was raised against it by some members of the Established Church and the Presbyterians, because the system professed to exclude even the suspicion of proselytism. In order to mitigate opposition by truckling to the ascendancy principle a Board, which was to educate six millions of Catholics and two millions of Protestants, was appointed, on which were placed five Protestants and only two Catholics. The effect of that was shown at the first meeting of the Commission. The two Catholic members asked that the Catholic edition of the Scriptures should be 1431 printed for the use of Catholic scholars, but their request was refused, on the ground that there were notes and comments to that edition. The next step of the Board was to appoint a Presbyterian minister to edit some Scripture lessons; he was afterwards appointed resident Commissioner with a salary, and he brought in his two nephews, Presbyterians also, as head teachers; and then they went to the Kildare Street Society's school for a Protestant schoolmistress. But that did not open his eyes. He had full confidence in Dr. Murray and Mr. Blake, and he believed no change could be made in the principle laid down by Lord Stanley's letter without the assent of all the Commissioners and the sanction of the Government. He owned he gave the Board his entire confidence, and he was not sorry for it; for he would rather be deceived than not rely on the promises of a Government who had received full value in Catholic support for an act of common justice. In 1840, the first change was made to please the Presbyterians to the injury of the Catholics. In 1845 application for further change was made to Sir Robert Peel, but which he refused, and he was bound to say, to the honour of the Earl of Derby, that, although he was twice Minister, no one could accuse that noble Lord or his Government of making any change in the system of a nature prejudicial to the Roman Catholics. He was sorry to say that all the changes in 1847 and subsequently, of which the Roman Catholics had to complain, were made by the right hon. Gentlemen now on the Treasury Bench, most of whom were parties to the original compact in 1831. The great alteration made in the system in 1847 had been ably and sufficiently described by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire). The right hon. Gentleman the Irish Attorney General in referring to this part of the case had answered himself; after speaking for a considerable time with great emphasis in defence of the unjustifiable acts of the Government, and in condemnation of the Catholic Bishops, he ended by telling them that he himself approved quite a different set of principles from those he defended. The right hon. Gentleman eulogized the schools of the Christian Brothers, and said that if he had to found a new system of public education he was not prepared to declare that he would not have a separate system; yet, with considerable inconsistency, he turned round and blamed Roman 1432 Catholic Members for not supporting the present altered mixed system, which they had found to be a gross delusion and a gross violation of the principle laid down in Lord Stanley's letter of 1831 to which they were pledged, and bound in honour to maintain. All human institutions were liable to deterioration, and even if the Government had made mistakes in this matter they might revert to the original system. That course had been suggested and even pressed upon them, but they would not do so. The influence of the Irish Established Church would prevent them—that upas tree which poisoned everything it overshadowed had poisoned that greatest blessing, a good system of National education as first introduced. They might talk as they pleased of raising the people of Ireland, but if they were forced into ignorance for conscience sake they must sink into a degraded race. The right hon. Gentleman warned them that if they insisted on their principles they might lose their share of the money grants. Then let them lose it, rather than surrender their principles. Better adhere to principle than to money. The people of Ireland would make sacrifices, if necessary, as they had done before, for the promotion of education and the maintenance of their principles. What would Ireland be in Europe but for its unflinching adhesion to its faith?—it was a conquered country, yet never amalgamated; the conscience of its people had never been overcome. No Catholic could hold up his head except for his conviction that he and his co-religionists had suffered for the principles which they held sacred. Did the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General suppose that, having endured the penal laws for many years, they were now going to be bribed into acquiescence in a mischievous sham? If the right hon. Gentleman took that view, of course he might follow it; but for his own part, and on behalf of his co-religionists, he must distinctly repudiate it. He thanked the House for the patience with which it had heard him; and he could only repeat that he would not have risen at the close of so long a debate save for the provocation he had received from the Attorney General for Ireland, who spoke the opinions of the Government which he repudiated, although he condescended to utter them.
§ MR. BRADY
said, he had been some years a Member of the House, but he had 1433 never listened to a speech with greater pain than to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. It was a most intemperate speech, and one in which no attempt had been made to grapple with the arguments of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, who had exposed the fraud practised upon the Government by tearing from Mr. Keenan's Report the sheet which stated that in the north of Ireland several Roman Catholic children attended national schools to which Protestant instruction was given. He (Mr. Brady) had many opportunities of judging, and he maintained in opposition to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were not in favour of the present system, and that their disapproval of it had been declared through their Bishops and clergy. He contended that if a separate system was good for England it would be equally good for Ireland. Belgium had been referred to, but that had no application to the present case. There was no mixed system of education there; the separate system prevailed. His hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan had clearly shown that, as regarded three of the four provinces of Ireland, the system could not be said to be a mixed system of education; and that in the fourth province, where to a certain extent it was a mixed system, that mixture was made an opportunity for carrying on the work of Protestant proselytisers. He hoped the House would insist that the national system of education should be placed on such a foundation that it would prove a blessing to the people of Ireland.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he thought it a strange spectacle to see the National system of education attacked by Roman Catholic gentlemen, and defended by the Attorney General for Ireland against certain of his co-religionists. In the humble part he had taken in public life it had been his duty, according to conscientious convictions, to support the system both in Ireland, in his own neighbourhood, and in that House; and he could not help remembering the expressions of gratitude he had received from every part of Ireland when he took steps to procure the reversal of a vote which had been obtained by surprise, and was considered to endanger that system. Whatever the merits of the two systems in the abstract, the fact could not be overlooked that one system was established in Ireland which had been, work- 1434 ing for years with the utmost success, and had converted Ireland from one of the least educated and civilized into one of the best educated countries. He was happy to think of what had been done and what would yet be done. He admitted that the books might be improved; but this, too, was a matter of comparison, and every gentleman who knew the present state of Ireland, and what it was formerly, must admit that a good deal had been done in this direction. Irishmen might be proud of the fact that the books used in the National system of education had been adopted almost everywhere the language was spoken. A great deal had been said of the restrictions imposed, by the religious rule of the National Board, on the free action of patrons of schools. But without this they would only have two bad schools where there ought to be one good one, maintained by the rival influences of the landlord and the priest. Proselytism was a curse in Ireland; there was a perpetual contest going on between the different religious denominations—a constant effort, not to do good to one another, but to filch some professors of one creed to the rival Church. He had seen it going on in his own neighbourhood, and producing nothing but evil. He said, then, let these schools be free from such a spirit, and let the field of education for the poor in Ireland be protected from these religious animosities. They had no security that such would be the case under a new system, but the present system had already done infinite good. It was a pliable system, and adapted itself to the wants of the country. Where it was natural from the circumstances of the locality that the schools should be separate schools, they were separate schools; and there were numerous schools of that description in Ireland; but where it was convenient to have the mixed system, there the mixed system prevailed. He was not capable of turning right-about-face at the invitation of hon. Gentlemen in that House, and therefore he must continue until he saw a prospect of something better, to give his humble support to the national system.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland had promised alterations in the present system, but, with the exception of the revision of the list of books, the changes proposed would be productive of no good whatever. Nor did he believe that they would satisfy any of the great parties of 1435 Ireland. The right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside), who spoke on the subject a few nights ago, and who represented the Protestants of Ireland, expressed his distrust of the existing system, and condemned it. The great majority of the Protestant Bishops of Ireland were opposed to the system, and as for the Catholics, no Catholic Member of that House, with the exception of the Irish Attorney General, had defended it. But the speech of the Attorney General for Ireland was inconsistent with the statement which when the Earl of Derby was in office he made in Ireland before those very Bishops, whose conduct he now condemned, and in which he denounced the system of mixed education.
§ MR. HENNESSY
He was ready to prove his assertion that the right lion. Gentleman had denounced the mixed system in intermediate schools. But he had a grave charge against the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said the Bishops in their memorial were not advocates for the separate system, but for a system under their exclusive control. Let him remind the Attorney General for Ireland that the Bishops in the 40th paragraph of their Rejoinder, asked for the same system as prevailed in England. In the 43rd section they said they wanted a system under the operation of which such control would be exercised over the finances, and such a mode of inspection provided, as to secure a proper distribution of the public funds for educational purposes. The language used by the Bishops was indeed the same as that which was employed by the Committee of Council in defining its own functions—a fact which was a sufficient answer to the charge of undue assumption which had been made against them. The only difference, indeed, which existed between the claims of the Irish Bishops and those of the Roman Catholics in England was that the former were not so extensive as the latter. Addressing himself to the subject as a simple educationist, he was desirous that the funds applied to the promotion of education should be expended in a manner at once the most economical and the most useful, and the best mode of attaining that end was, in his opinion, the adoption of the separate denominational system. There were some important branches of knowledge which it was not 1436 under a mixed system possible to teach—history, for example, in the attempt to give instruction in which in Ireland under that system the existence of the Roman Catholic Church was ignored, the occurrence of such an event as the Reformation passed over, and almost all mention of Ireland itself omitted. When he had been last in Dublin he had visited the great model school in that city, and had seen several diagrams on the walls, but no symbol of the Christian religion, whereas on visiting subsequently the Roman Catholic school at Hammersmith the first thing which he saw mentioned in the orders of the day was the sacrifice of the mass, a strong contrast to the intolerance of the mixed system being thus furnished. The Christian Brothers, he might add, who were great educationists, had prepared a series of schoolbooks which, because they were admirable works, he found set down in the Privy Council list, while they were omitted from that of the National Board in Ireland, because they happened to contain something about religion. Now, the policy which he would recommend was the encouragement of all systems of education. The separate system had already been tried in Ireland, and with marked success, by the Society of Friends, the Incorporated Society a Protestant body, and by the Christian Brothers a purely Roman Catholic institution, these three bodies having been reported by the Endowed Schools Commissioners to be the most efficient educationists in that country. No statement contained in the report of the Endowed School Commissioners was more striking and important than the declaration that the best and most efficient schools which they found were those of the Christian Brothers, of the Society of Friends, and those under the Incorporated Society. And one of the Commissioners dissented from the report, which, to a certain extent, recommended mixed education, on the ground that these very schools of which they thus declared the superiority, were schools based on the separate system. He, for one, should not complain if they were driven to adopt the voluntary system. He would rather that the Government were repudiated, and that persons were left to act on their own convictions than be bound by the policy of Her Majesty's Government to adopt an exclusive, and he must add an intolerant system. It was called the National system, but in reality it was no such thing. 1437 It was repudiated by the people, it had been condemned in England, and the more it was discussed the more it would be condemned in Ireland, until finally, be had no doubt, it would be overthrown.
§ LORD FERMOY
said, nobody could object to the establishment of schools in Ireland upon the voluntary principle. The more of them that existed, even on the separate system, the better. But he objected to the granting of Government aid to any except a mixed system of education. He felt glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had spoken out clearly and manfully, and that the right hon. and learned Attorney General likewise had ably and effectively explained his views, for it was of the greatest importance to the well-being of society in Ireland that there should be no mistake as to the views of the Government. His hon. Friend (Mr. Hennessy) had fallen into a mistake in supposing that the Catholics of Ireland were united in their opposition to the National system. It was a fact, unfortunately, not to be denied that a very important body, the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and clergy, were opposed to the system, and were pressing their views with energy. The mass of the lower classes, more particularly on questions of that nature, were easily led by the heads of their Church, but he denied that the middle and upper classes among the laity were at all disposed to join in condemning the Board. The state of public feeling on this point had been satisfactorily tested at a meeting held in Cork, at which the issue—a mixed or separate system of education—was plainly put and decided. That meeting had been convened by requisition, and whether regard were had to the number or social standing of those by whom it was signed or of those by whom the Resolutions at the meeting-were proposed, it was evident that the feeling amongst the laity largely preponderated in favour of the mixed system. Those who thought otherwise were only deceiving themselves and deceiving the House of Commons. They had never ventured to bring the question forward at any of the local assemblies before the Town Councils, Boards of Guardians, or Grand Jury meetings in Ireland; if they had the hardihood to do so he ventured to assert they would find themselves in as evident a minority as in that House. It had been asserted that on that question the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Uni- 1438 versity of Dublin represented the opinions of the Protestants of Ireland. He respected the great talents of the right hon. and learned Gentleman; there was no Irishman who did not feel proud of the professional and political position which he had attained; but, though he represented the views at once of the University and of an important section of the Protestants of Ireland, there was no ground for saying that he reflected all their sentiments. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would scarcely venture to place himself in opposition to the venerable Primate of Ireland, who had not hesitated to reconsider the question of National Education, and to review the policy which the Protestant Church ought to adopt. That he possessed liberal views, a large mind, and no small stock of courage was manifest, for he had not shrunk from recanting the opinions he had formerly expressed, but had openly declared that there was nothing inconsistent in support being given by the Protestant Church to the system of education that was countenanced by the Government. If objections were entertained to the details of this system, surely the rational and fair mode of proceeding was to ask that those details should be amended, instead of opposing the whole principle. For his part, he was willing to review the details, and if it could be shown that the faith or the morals of the people of Ireland were injured by the working of the system, let the blot be removed. As it was, the speech of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), after the concessions proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, afforded a bad encouragement to any party to make further concessions. He (Lord Fermoy) objected to change the system of mixed education, because Ireland was in an exceptional state, and because religion, politics, and social subjects were so mixed up there that it would be impossible for the State to carry out the separate system. The result of the system would be that the taxpayers of the country would pay double or treble, while the country itself would thereby be divided into hostile camps, and existing religious and political differences would be multiplied tenfold. It was easy to say that it was godless and wrong to give secular without religious instruction. But that was not done. "Would the Catholic population be allowed by their pastors to forget their religion? There was not a more active and zealous body of men than the Roman Catholic clergy, 1439 and he was convinced that under the mixed system they would not allow anything of the kind. In the separate schools which had been spoken of, how many days did the priests devote to religious teaching there? He had not the least doubt that they gave their children their religious instruction on Sundays, and that was all they were wanted to do under the mixed system. The sole wish of the supporters of the National system was to make good citizens of the children who attended the schools, and such a system would, in his opinien, be best calculated to make them peaceable and loyal subjects of Her Majesty.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that as allusion had been made to a speech formerly delivered by him in that House, he wished to explain exactly the views he expressed on that occasion. He stated then, and still believed, that the greatest blessing which Parliament had ever given to Ireland was the National system of education. But he went on to say, and he now repeated it, that unless the divergencies from the original system were got rid of—unless the system were brought back to what it was originally intended to be—it would be utterly impossible for any Government to maintain it, and they would be compelled to substitute in its place a system founded on totally different principles. "With regard to the debate this evening, he could not help contrasting the two speeches which had been delivered from the Ministerial bench—the one so calm and conciliatory, the other a speech which filled him with great pain and regret. He could not understand how the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, after having properly found fault with the hon. Member for Dungarvan for speaking against Mr. M'Donnell in his absence, could make charges against the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, which hereafter the right hon. Gentleman would surely himself regret.
denied that he had made any charges. He had read the letters of the Bishops, and put constructions on them, but he defied the right hon. Gentleman to prove that those constructions were incorrect.
§ MR. MONSELL
—The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Government having come into office with a small majority, the Catholic Bishops took the opportunity of forcing upon them a system which he described in language of the 1440 severest vituperation. It had been admitted, however, by the Secretary for Ireland, that persons who were interested in the religious education of the people, might look with great jealousy upon any steps that were taken to that end. In every country there was a desire on the part of the dominant body to grasp everything, and he would ask, had the conduct of the State towards the Catholic Church on that matter been perfectly honest? Had the Government acted with good faith? His right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary admitted that the Catholics had not been fairly dealt with, and he had taken the first steps towards placing all parties on an equal footing, as hitherto every thing that had been done had been with a view to conciliate the Protestants. The first point to which he wished to allude was the model schools, which he understood the right hon. Gentleman did not intend to increase.
§ MR. CARDWELL
explained that he had said no more model schools should be erected by the Board without the matter being brought under the cognizance of the Government, to be by them submitted to Parliament.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he thought that was a change for the better, but no doubt the system on which the existing model schools were carried on required much alteration. The next point to which he would advert was as to the change of books. If the right hon. Gentleman meant simply to revise the books, that course would not give satisfaction; but if he could leave it to the new Board he was about to establish to add any other books to the list for Catholic children which should breathe a spirit of Catholicism he would be doing well.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, if the Board should choose to add any books for Christian education not clashing with the distinct principles of any Church or community, those were books which it would be open to the Board to add to the list.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he meant books that contained nothing controversial. The next concession was the restoration of the rule which allowed non-vested schools to receive building grants. That, no doubt, was an important step, but on two most important points—points in which the good faith of the Government was involved—he regretted to observe that nothing was to be done. No amount of sophistry can get rid of the fact proved by the distinct 1441 and sworn testimony of Mr. Blake and Mr. Carlisle that by the original rules no child was permitted to attend religious instruction given by teachers not of his own faith. This rule was no doubt sometimes waived with the object of conciliating important classes, such as the Presbyterians. These exceptional aberrations prove nothing when contrasted with the dogmatic statements of the Commissioners. It was idle to imagine that the present system which allowed proselytism was the same as that whose first principle was to avoid even the suspicion of proselytism. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to a clause in the Irish Poor Law Act, but that clause was copied from the English Poor Law Act, and proved nothing. The other point was as to permission accorded to the clergy of all denominations to visit any schools within their respective parishes wherein any of their own religious persuasion were educated. That permission was secured by the original rules—under the present rules Catholic children in Presbyterian non-vested schools either receive no religious instruction of any kind, or receive it at the hands of those who stigmatize their religion as a mass of superstition and idolatry. The Government must make up their minds to carry out the original principles on which the national system was founded to their legitimate consequences, or else to yield to the demands of those who ask for its total abolition; any other course must lead to continual agitation. No one could expect the Catholics of Ireland to sit quiet while the solemn promises made to them are violated and their children are exposed to gross injustice.
protested in the most emphatic manner against the imputation that he had used vituperative language towards the Bishops. It was entirely untrue, and a misrepresentation of what he had said.
said, he agreed in the opinions so ably expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire). He believed, with the head of the Catholic Church, with the Bishops, and with the great mass of the Irish people, that the present system of National education was injurious to the interests of that religion and incompatible with the influence which the pastors ought to exercise over their flocks. He had heard no reason why the denominational system established in this country should not be extended to Ireland.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, that the 1442 Resolution which he had intended to move on going into Committee, but had withdrawn at the request of the Chief Secretary, expressed his views on the question. It was as follows:—That all funds provided by Parliament for public education in Ireland should be so administered as to banish all just suspicion of proselytism from the National system, and conciliate cordial co-operation from clergy and laity of all religious denominations.He did not think the propositions of the Chief Secretary went far enough. It could not be denied that the original system had been departed from, and that the present system required to be carefully watched. Let the right hon. Gentleman appoint a resident Roman Catholic paid Commissioner. "Whenever an attempt was made in any school to proselytize or to induce children to attend religious instruction by a teacher of a different faith, let another school, at whatever expense, be instituted. Let there be also a due proportion of Roman Catholic Inspectors, and the books undergo a bonâ fide revision upon consultation with the heads of the respective Churches in Ireland; and then some of the more serious complaints against the mixed system might be obviated.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I do not rise to enter into any arguments upon the question, or to add to the conclusive reasonings of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland. I think that his arguments ought to be conclusive to the mind of every Roman Catholic gentleman who wishes to see the children of Roman Catholics in Ireland efficiently educated. The hon. Member has, I think, very unjustly charged my right hon. and learned Friend with vituperating the Irish Roman Catholic Bishops. Now, I am sure he very carefully guarded himself from saying anything which could bear that construction. He expressly said that he felt for them all that veneration and esteem which they merit, and he directed his remarks to those differences of opinion which exist even in Roman Catholic countries between the clergy and laity on the subject of education. But I did not rise to vindicate my right hon. and learned Friend. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Fermoy) in the course of his observations, said that there ought to be no mistake as to the opinions and intentions of Her Majesty's Government upon this question of mixed education, and the hon. Member for Tipperary 1443 (The O'Donoghue) added that the matter would not rest here, but that there would be agitation elsewhere for the purpose of defeating the system of mixed education. I think it ought to be distinctly understood that Her Majesty's Government attach so much importance to this system of mixed education in Ireland, as contradistinguished from the denominational system in England, that they would not deem it their duty to propose any Vote upon any other principle. If education in Ireland is to be carried out mainly by the grant of public money by the State, I say that the Government would not feel it consistent with their duty to propose a Vote for any other than the mixed system. It is asked wiry should a different system be pursued in Ireland from that which is pursued in England? I think the difference in religious and social feelings in the two countries shows that that is an idle question, and that, in fact, it answers itself. There is not the same conflict of religious opinion—there is not the same religious agitation in England which prevails in Ireland, and in my opinion it is the duty of the Government to soothe and mitigate those feelings. I trust that this Vote will now be allowed to be carried. I think it has been discussed sufficiently. Those who are most adverse to the present system do not propose to negative the Vote, and I hope that the Committee will now assent to it.
said, the system which had been originally introduced, had been considerably altered. If the prinples on which' it was first founded were not to be maintained, then that principle ought to be adopted which commanded the assent of the great majority of the people of Ireland.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow, at Twelve of the clock.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter before Four o'clock.